Part 8: Tag Teamed!Tag Teamed!
All right everyone, it's time to move on, and escape from Tutorial land! We have one last battle before we're past 95% of the "Lets explain everything" segment of AW:DS. Now, lets see, our next battle is called "Tag Battle" and we see TWO enemy COs? I wonder if this is what the "Dual Strike" in the title is referencing? Let's find out.
We've come a long way. Are you sure the enemy's set up shop in this area?
Probably. Recent troop-movement intel points to this location.
The fighting is gettin' fierce, too. Black Hole is all up in our business. Who knows what they're up to?
No kidding. There's no telling what they'll do when they get backed into a corner.
Jugger! Let's go shock those losers with our new game plan! Tee hee!
New strategy analyzed and understood. New weapon systems deploying... Piperunner online. Enemy defeat imminent.
Tee hee hee! It's time for a tag battle!
Piperunner? New strategy? Two COs? "Tag Battle? Looks like Black Hole has some new surprises in store for us today. Let's take a look.
Here's our first map that's larger than a single screen, if barely. The pseudo-3D makes me creating a hodge-podge that looks decent impossible and I don't know of any places to get maps of all of this. Anyways, at first look we see both Jugger AND Lash are indeed on this map, with their own CO meters. We also see the game defaulting to Max since I haven't chosen a CO yet. Down below we see an island with an all important Airfield off to the right. To the left we also see a new terrain feature and a new unit.
A while back someone in the thread noticed that Factories have a "Pipe" move type. This is why. Black Hole Pipes are indestructible, impassable terrain features. Yes, impassible to air too which means you can't fly over them. The explanation for them is that Black Hole ships resources through them to their massive factories, apparently blending everything they steal down into a slurry that they can then pump into a mold to heat and set to get a brand new Tank and crew. Though while you can't pass through (or over) a Black Pipe, AW:DS proves that you can run along them. The Piperunner is a beast of an artillery piece. It's fast, though the terrain it can move over is rather limited, it's super effective against everything, able to even shoot down aircraft, and it's got the same range of a Rocket without the massive attack shadow it can't hit. Shame Lash put the pipe on the wrong side of the river though, We can just run a tank up to it and start pounding away with direct fire.
Christ that thing is terrifying. And Lash only put it on your side of the river for testing purposes. How can she build a better version later if you don't demonstrate its failing in terms of armor?
Pipes look cylindrical but are so big that fighters, which can fly over mountains, can't get over them. And these guys move on top of them. Advance Wars movement gets weirder with every rule we find out.
Piperunners themselves cost as much as a Fighter, can only heal on bases (meaning you can't use them to build anything that turn), and have their movements strictly limited by their movement type. I guess they're gimmicky-effective in their own way, but they're hard to recommend.
And down here we have the enemy base. We start out with 6 properties, 2 of which are factories. Lash and Jugger start out with only 3, one of them being a factory. All the rest are neutral.
We start with a 2:1 production advantage, and the enemy has deployed only one unit total. This should be a sign something's weird.
Anyways, we select Sasha and go.
It's time for you to taste the pain you inflicted on the people of Blue Moon!
Enemy unit dead ahead! It's a new Black Hole weapon!
And I already covered it game, please try to keep up.
I see it. It's sitting on one of Black Hole's infamous pipes. They're impervious to any type of attack. This weapon is new to me, though.
Rachel, that's got to be an indirect combat unit.
How can you tell?
Because even Jake realizes that a direct combat unit who's limited to sitting on Pipes would practically be worthless?
Check out the size and angle of the barrel. I bet that thing can rain some hot death!
Or that too.
Or he could have just checked the info screen like we did.
I see what you're saying. In that case we should get next to it and pound away. It may be big, but there's only one of them. It'll blow up like anything else!
It's also only got about as much armor as an Artillery unit. There's some stuff we'll see later that's a nightmare to destroy.
As you can see here, our limitations on what we can build have been expanded, and we can now build Neotanks once we get enough money. If you think these tanks look goofy and strange, well they do and there's a reason for that: they were a design stolen from Black Hole in AW2. If Tanks are Cavaliers and Md Tanks are Knights, Neotanks are Paladins. They're tougher than a Knight on both offense and defense and with the same mobility as a normal Tank, slightly better even with the 29 extra fuel (normal Tanks only have up to 70). These are the "flagship" units of your armored divisions, provided you have the money of course.
There is no fucking way that thing runs on treads. It has legs for god's sake. This has to be Lash's brainchild.
It has legs with wheels on the ends. Neotanks are spectacular engines of destruction, with more movement than Md Tanks along with much improved abilities in all other areas. Expensive as a bomber, but a competitive option even so.
Now that that's done we build some infantry and end our turn. We have no predeployed units and Black Hole's only predeployed unit is effectively kept on a chain with its movement being limited to Black Pipes. We'll be grabbing what we can before making a mad dash down to the airfield to keep it out of Lash and Jugger's hands and give ourselves B-Copters.
Black Hole is totally scheming something. I only see one army, but there are two COs. What's up with that?
Like totally, Jake, ohmygahd.
Maybe the other one is just hanging out and kibitzing. Like you.
Who knows? Just stay on your toes. They may be evil, but they're not stupid.
Hey, Lash isn't , she just gives no fucks. As for the rest of Black Hole, well, with the exception of Lash's buddy Hawke I really can't defend them.
Tee hee! Tag battle is our latest tactical advantage innovation, and it's pure genius! What we do is change COs mid-battle to adapt to any condition on the field. When the time is right, we can use our Tag Power and attack on the same day! What that means is that, once one CO is done, the other CO can issue orders. Do you understand the genius at work here? Huh? Do you? If you and I were more compatible, our attack would be even stronger, but...
Twice the pain equals twice the terror.
Tee hee hee! That's Black Hole Math! Prepare to get served!
Oh, dammit Lash, not you! Don't you start talking like Jake too! Anyways, more tutorial time, but it's acceptable because Jugger's music is playing in the background during it. Anyways, THIS mechanic is what really breaks the game wide open in terms of difficulty. Starting at this map you can bring TWO COs onto the field, and at the end of your turn you can swap COs depending on conditions, or if you want to charge the other's powers (the off-duty CO charges at half speed). Now, this wouldn't be so broken if it weren't for the Dual Strike mechanic. Basically, if both COs have their CO meters fully charged they can do a Dual Strike, which is they both use their SCOP and attack on the same day, you off-duty CO immediately taking a second turn after the first one does. Different COs have different compatibility, which gives them a buff or nerf when using Dual Strike together. The best compatibilities, shown by 3 stars on CO pages, give an additional +30% strength added onto a CO's super power (which is +10% +whatever the fuck). We already have a 3-star pair with Colin and Sasha. Of course, the game doesn't tell you which COs have negative modifiers. The worst is, hilariously, Rachel and Koal which is a -35% modifier. That means if you use a Dual Strike with that pair pair your troops will be at -25% strength after the SCOP bonus is added.
Even Lash thinks Jugger is retarded. Not only does she imply he doesn't understand this whole "tag" thing, she tells him they're not compatible at all. The best character.
On a less Lash-centric note, I've never even seen this game before and I can tell that being able to take two turns back-to-back, let alone with both characters' SCOPs is ludicrously broken, and the only semblance of balance is that the enemy can do it back to you (assuming they're still standing).
You have no idea. This is where taking damage powering CO meters more than doing it comes in helpful, too. Unless you've just used a power, one side's tag power tends to lead to another. Until the game throws another curve ball in CO allotment. We'll see that later on, too.
Oh, yeah, and tag powers are the basis for a number of one-turn-win strategies you can use if the situation allows.
Nothing really happens for the first several days. With the aid of an APC we get our soldiers over to the Airfield on turn four, and we've got some tanks up ready to bumrush the Piperunner. Even with Black Hole pulling the Tag Battle bullshit this map is easy. Once you take the airfield and demolish the Piperunner it's all over.
Ha-ha! Well that pretty much blunts the Piperunner's threat. Even better, I've got my tank parked on the Factory near the Piperunner, so there's no way Black Hole's infantry can take it.
One 20,000 cost unit neutered by a single attack from a 7,000 one. You can see why I don't much praise them, though, to be fair, this is its worst possible starting situation.
Also look at that pipe. That's a pipe so tall that planes can't fly over it.
Here's what the end of day 5 looks like with our swarming out of our base to secure the surrounding countryside. I'm going to bring the topmost tank down the center bridge and have it hold onto that central factory to deny it to the enemy.
Smashin' you is gonna be fun!
Jugger was previously the head CO with Lash backing him up. At the end of the AI's fifth turn it swaps COs so we're facing Lash now. Despite the rest of the game's AI there's really no rhyme or reason to this, the AI just swaps COs every four or five turns, so if you're playing get used to seeing this animation a lot.
Does the non-active CO give any benefits or anything, or are they just sort of there in case you want to unleash peak bullshit or swap out?
Nope. They just power up at half rate, and the currently-leading CO defines all units/costs/etc. Even someone who hasn't played can probably suss the value of buying with Colin, fighting with someone else.
Now that the Piperunner is down that big field is free for us to move about, and that one neutral city just south of our HQ is no longer being covered.
No! No! No! They blew it up! And Piperunners are such a pain to make, too.
Not a problem. Piperunners can now be built in factories. We have Tag Powers and advantage. Victory is certain...
It still burns me out, but...Whatever! All we have to do is not get overrun or let them capture our HQ! Tee hee!
As Jugger mentioned the AI can now build Piperunners in that campaign. We'll be getting these in a later secret mission.
Day 6 ends and we have our first Md Tank of the campaign, ready to roll out and smash some puny Tanks into so much scrap.
I didn't quite beat the Black Hole infantry to the central factory, but they're not getting that property. Meanwhile the first real combat of the mission is seen over to the left as Lash brings a tank up to try to clear out the one I've got parked on that factory. Sasha's CO power is charged but I'm saving that for now. Mostly because this is the Tag Power/Dual Strike tutorial level, so I really should let the game show it off here. Black Hole continues moving up and Jugger takes the front lines again.
Without the central base here (a factory is slightly different), Black Hole has no real chance. Alkydere just needs to handle his massive material advantage with any finesse and he'll get an S-rank here.
Sorry Jugger, you're not getting either of these bases. Lash swaps out again at the end of day 8.
Jugger switches out again at the end of day 9 and here we sit after day 10. You'll notice at the top we just got our very first Neo Tank.
And that the small and harried Black Hole forces don't have any units out there really suited to anti-tank role in any form.
I have no idea what made the normally intelligent AI do this. Jugger brings up an infantry, a single, non-Mech infantry, to attack my Tank. Anyways, the AI keeps swapping every turn, I'm pretty sure they're doing this simply to keep the meters about balanced.
It's Jugger, what were you expecting? He's hardly the cream of the Black Hole tactical crop.
Actually, this mission, I think they're just getting you used to the idea of "you can swap at the end of a turn if you want". You know, telling the player that they can't swap at the start of a turn, can only do it once in a turn, etc. In later missions, yes, the AI loves to try to fill up both meters at the same time.
Day 11 and we're pushing into Black Hole territory, starting to capture their cities. Of course, the enemy COs are getting close to charging their powers.
Day 12 and we're still pushing, doing our best to keep our infantry safe so they can capture. Though I'm probably going to lose that B-Copter to the bottom right. There was no other way to remove the Mech on the tile where our APC is currently sitting, and if we left the Mech there we probably would have lost the capturing Infantry. Every property we take from Black Hole shrinks their army just a bit.
Luckily, Technique is proportionate to the number of units you have ever had deployed. If you start to rack up losses, just end the mission by building swarms of units.
Yup, there went that B-Copter. Lash's bar is fully filled at this point and Jugger only has half a star to go.
Vengeance is swift and I get to show off how powerful a Neotank is. This is a 100% Neotank vs a 100% AA and it's going to do 115/100 damage to that poor little AA. Remember that AA armor is just about the same as a Tank. Neotanks are worth every penny if you can afford them, which is why I have two on the map.
They're also pretty swift, and have big fuel tanks and ammo magazines... I love Neotanks.
Our Md Tank can't quite repeat the same feat. It might be able to on defenseless land, but the plains have just enough defense that this AA is going to barely limp away.
Unless, of course, I get a lucky roll to make up for that 6%.
No AA means I can bring my B-Copters up with relative impunity.
Anyways, at the end of day 13, I've pretty much won. As Sasha I could easily just crash the AI's CO meter with 22600 G. in the bank and Market Crash, and I really should and I really want to. That would make this game trivially easy at this point since I've all but won. The problem is I can't because this is an LP and I have to show off everything I can. So instead, it's time to experience our first Dual Strike and let Black Hole retake some ground.
Approaching system meltdown...
Lightning flies across the screen, the music starts, and an otherwise cool effect is ruined by being in the middle of the split screen. It looks fine across the break between the two screens of the DS, but it looks stupid as fuck on an emulator.
SHIT JUST GOT REAL FOLKS!
No, seriously, if you listen to only one track from this game's audio, listen to this.
The only thing preventing this from being worse is that I beat Lash and Jugger down to three units before hand.
Now imagine this on the later maps, with this bullshit (and worse considering Jugger's powers of RNG Bullshit) happening over and over and over again. And then the AI getting ANOTHER turn for it to happen over and over and over AGAIN. This is one going to be rather tame, but normally Dual Strikes HURT.
Now imagine that the AI started the map with way more resources than you, instead of here where it gives you twice its own resources. This is why I describe the game from here on as a BSing contest, intead of a tactical consideration.
Tee hee hee!
And this is really where the pain comes in. Now everything's movement refreshes and Lash gets her turn with her SCOP active without giving the player a turn.
Thankfully two damaged tanks, a Recon Jugger just built and a damaged Artillery are all she has to work with. The only things a Dual Strike doesn't do is repair/resupply units sitting on cities and give the player more money.
I believe APC resupply works just fine with this, though.
Right, let's end this.
I'll show you my true strength.
Rache's SCOP itself won't hurt me, but Lash is in charge now with her SCOP active. Meaning I that +10% power from having my own SCOP active will probably be needed to pry that Artillery from her HQ.
I'm preserving this as another possible derp or maybe I'm just totally missing something, but who the fuck is "Rache" and why does she have anything to do with this mission considering the active COs are Sasha, Lash, and Jugger?
A rache is a sort of hunting dog. It's an advanced metaphor where Alkydere is likening Sasha's fight to a hunter's hounds bringing down the hunt's target.
I call Shenanigans! That was a full health B-Copter vs a half-health Artillery!
Lash is on the defense with her SCOP active, and the artillery was on the city giving it 8 defense stars. What the fuck were you expecting? Unless the factory only gives three stars, in which case Lash now has 6. Either way, it's SCOP bullshit and you should have known exactly what you were getting into there.
That's her HQ. Eight stars there means it's pretty impressive that he almost prized her out. Lash on the defense is beautifully annoying.
Oh come on!
There we go! Seriously, I came this close to having a Tank, Artillery AND a recon at 1 HP and would have been forced to try to go for the lucky shot and start plinking away at them with Infantry machine guns. Luckily the RNG gave me the 5% damage I needed for my Neotank to one-shot Lash's Recon that was just sitting on a Plains tile. Yes, that's how difficult Lash is to kill during her SCOP. Luckily, her Recon dies leaving me with just enough free heavy hitters to mop her up.
Stick a fork in 'em and crank the music, 'cause I think they're done!
So that was a tag battle... It seemed odd at first, but it has its advantages. It seems worth studying.
I agree. This is not time for us to worry about appearances, either. Let's steal every technique and weapon Black Hole comes up with.
You may look all prim and proper, but you can get low down and dirty, Sasha!
They built their empire with our materials. We're merely taking back what is ours.
Let's analyze the battle data so we can use tag tactics in our next fight.
Now we can drop some science on these fools. Things are finally lookin' up!
You know what, I'm okay with Sasha too. Fuck this "morals" thing, we're after results goddammit.
Can it really be that hard to figure out tagging? "I command the troops today, then when my throat gets hoarse from yelling, you take a shift"?
And that was the tutorial for Tag Battles and Dual Strikes! As they said from now on we can do that ourselves, we can bring Two COs into any battle from this point on. Or we could intentionally leave one slot empty and go solo if we really want to. Anyways, next time we fight Koal and Lash, and introduced into more Black Hole equipment.
I love this next mission's gimmick.