The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by Alkydere

Part 11: Whack-a-Mole


Time for the Long March, our first secret mission and the first time we get to enjoy controlling two armies at once! Since we have five COs but only four slots, the voting wasn't really for who we would use but who we wouldn't. And the thread voted loud and proud: Don't use Jake!

As well they should have. I’m proud of the thread, for once.

But... range increases! Tank bonuses! Oh, never mind...

Warning! Allied forces approaching. Black boat defenses online.

A man must strike while the iron is hot. We must attack with the army we have. Launch an all-out assault and crush the enemy before they reach the lab.

Loading Jugger and Koal tag battle program. Violence inhibitor: overridden.

Oh dear, the war machine has turned off the violence inhibitors? I'm so very scared!

Hey, I don't mind tight spaces, but Black Hole has tons of dudes. If they rush us, we're gonna get seriously owned...

The research lab itself is lightly guarded, so here's what we're going to do. The orange team will guard our HQ and send a small squad to take over the lab. While they do that, the blue team will hit the enemy with everything they've got.

The orange team should use their indirect-combat units as much as possible. You can't afford to lose units with good vision while in Fog of War mission.

If we capture the lab, we'll get plans for the bri...bra...uh...brick boat?

Good to know I'm not the only one who can trip over his own tongue.

Um...bricks don't float, Colin. It's called a black boat. Maybe you need glasses.

Brick, black, whatever. If it repairs units, we need it!

For once Jake we're in complete agreement. While what ZeeToo said on the last mission is correct, most missions are indeed won on land, not having to retreat your naval units to repair and resupply is a very powerful advantage.

How exactly would glasses help Colin discern that it is a black boat and not a brick boat? That seems like the sort of thing that you should probably know even without having to see it.

We've got a vertical map with fog of war, LOTS of indirect units, and two armies for us to control. The objective is to capture the Lab the cursor is resting on in the top screen. Oh yea, I have a cursor now! A big thank you to Admiral H. Curtiss to telling me how to fix that. Orange Star's team will be leading the assault on the Black Lab while at the same time fighting off the brunt of Black Hole's armor division. Blue Star's role is to build an army and start smashing on the massive Black Hole army from behind.

This is why I called it ‘Whack-A-Mole’. You have all these ranged units, and it’s a fog of war mission. Wait for Black Hole to pop out of their bolt hole, then smack them for their temerity.

Since the thread voted for "Everyone but Jake!" we'll be using everyone but Jake! Sasha and Rachel will be taking the Orange Star command, with Sasha equipping Slam Guard due to the thread suggesting I use a guard ability instead, and because the inbound Black Hole force has a lot of heavy armor. Meanwhile, Colin and Max will be bringing up the rear with cheap, heavy hitting tanks and naval units. Max will actually be leading out of the gate for Blue Moon because under his command his battleships will still hit at 100% and Black Hole's armies will still be in range.

My first choice here would be Jake/Rachel for OS, for Jake’s vehicle bonuses and Rachel’s tag team, and then the money kids for their back-up. Basic strategy is the same, though: crush Black Hole on land and sea before they get a base and drag this mission out. They don’t start with the northern bases/airfield, and you really don’t want them to get them.

Life will be a bit easier if we get our hands on those boat plans!

Those plans would be a great boon for our cause. We must succeed!

First thing's first with Orange Star: That black boat's within range of some of our Artillery, and therefore we should remove it.

Orange Star's role involves a LOT of artillery fire, which is why using Max is not recommended. He's better suited for Blue Moon's army once Colin can start pumping out armor for him.

This sub can become a real problem for Blue Moon, but hitting it hard here will take it out of the battle for several turns.

And now we're out of heavy hitting guns so we move up. Our Recons move forward on their fronts to go hide in trees while our Tanks move forward so they can eventually act as a plug against the Black Hole forces. I realize only after moving my Infantry I should have put him on the mountain tile next to our HQ. Oh, and due to losing a bunch of expensive units, Jugger's COP is already charged. Good thing the AI's probably going to wait until it can pull a Tag. I swap COs so Sasha can charge her meter and switch to Blue Moon.

I do sort of like this setup. Orange Star’s base is sandwiched between a huge hammer of enemy tanks to the south, and the enemy HQ to the north. Pretty simple but still fun way to split your attention.

Look at all those indirect-combat units! This kind of thing ain't my cup of tea!

If we win, we'll be able to build a brand-new unit... This is a crucial battle!

Max has the Battleships open fire, wounding the second Neotank and nearly destroying a Recon. I realize I'm cheesing the AI a bit by only wounding both Neotanks, but I really don't want to deal with full health Neotanks in this battle and I'm more than willing to make the AI merge them to make my job easier.

Once that's done we move our Sub up so it can hit anything coming out of the canal, and I make sure we've got no nasty surprises off to our right, such as more Black Hole subs. Since we're not building anything other than Infantry to load into our Lander we'll stay with Max for a few more turns.

Second day as Orange Star and we're doing or best to hit what we can. One Artillery already smashed Black Hole's Tank and this one's going to put a dent into the enemy Cruiser. I like having a Subs on Fog of War missions since they have 4 vision, and I don't want that Cruiser wiping it out.

As tempting they are, you really want to avoid targeting the Black Boats too much. One or two now and then is a good idea, but they're really not all that important.

Yeah, they can heal, but at 1 HP/turn, it takes a while to turn something hurt back into combat-worthy. Blunt your enemy’s ability to hurt you first.

We move our armor meatwall up and our Orange Mech is within range of starting to capture the factories up north. If we can get one of those running it will be a massive boost.

The main threat of this mission, such as it is, is that Black Hole will eventually try for these things itself. If you focus solely on the huge glut of tanks to the south, they’ll get reinforcements from the other side.

Kindle's CO meter is fully charged from the beating Black Hole is taking, and Jugger's just shy of being charged. Since we only have 7.3K we'll only put a small dent in their CO meter, but it's enough off of both Jugger and Koal's power meters to delay their Dual Strike a turn.

Kindle’s CO meter, you say? Koal must have some very...interesting hobbies he’s not telling us about.

Our first move as Max is to sink the enemy sub and plug the channel to prevent the Black Boats and Cruiser from escaping. It will also let us to use our Sub's vision to get a better view of what's going on inland.

Even better, it denies the cruiser a chance to attack. Our sub is submerged, which means the AI can’t target it until it sees it by parking one unit adjacent to it. Now if the AI had a human memory, it’d use a land unit to park in the shoals and ‘see’ it for the cruiser, but I’ve never seen it pull that off.

Moving our submerged Sub inland also allows us to see more of the Black Hole army, including where those Neotanks got to. Lets take care of those, shall we?

The Infantry we built on the Blue Moon island also get a chance to move, so we load them up in the Lander the game provided us and run them off to the bottom right island. We want that +3k a turn, and we REALLY want that airfield so Colin can buy Max some B-Copters and maybe even Bombers.

Our Md Tank is finally in position. There's no way past it besides going through it. Sadly since Jugger and Koal are going to Dual Strike, I'm pretty sure "Going through it" is exactly what's going to happen. Either way I manage to get rid of the Recon that was on the shoal directly above the Md. Tank which puts a dent in Black Hole's vision.

This turn is mostly spent moving my Artillery in position. I retreat my Recon so it won't be entirely exposed when the Md Tank is destroyed and my Mech hides back aboard the APC as I realize if I try to take the Factory now, whatever Black Hole has up will run down during their free turn and kill my Mech.

This probably going to sting in return, but I might as well get a first strike with Max's buffed attack in before the Dual Strike. There's a very good chance that the AI will move the Cruiser forward first and then attack the second turn on the Dual Strike. A Sub can survive and come out ahead when attacking a wounded Cruiser, but Cruisers hit hard enough that it's very rare the Sub will come out ahead if the Cruiser fires first.

A quick swap later and it's time to prepare for the pain.

Crushware Loaded.

Is that some sort of malware?

Nah, probably one of those generic anti-spyware programs or something. You wouldn’t believe how often he needs rebooting.

Every two or three turns going by his "Jugger Rebooted" line for CO swaps.

Oh, this is really going to hurt. I was hoping the Md Tank would make a better roadblock than that. I think Jugger just downgraded it to a speedbump.

Usually Jugger’s got one of the least offensive SCOPs. Sometimes you get the shit kicked out.

Inflict Pain...

Koal, why do your lines have to be so generic compared to Jugger's? Jugger’s line are retarded, but they at least have some personality. Yours are so...forgettable sometimes.

Well, there went our front line. On the plus side we almost have a our own Dual Strike charged. Our Recon is utterly boned, but so is the enemy's. Also, that Infantry may not look like much, but it would have torn our Mech apart. Especially if Koal sat him on the road. Of course, now that he's come out of the Fog of War, our Recon's gonna tear him apart instead.

Of course the AI throws away its advantage by doing this. The first Md Tank moved right next to my damaged Artillery, and then now the rest of the army could see what I had, but they couldn't reach it. All it takes is a couple of shots and we've got ourselves our own Dual Strike. Seriously, the AI just threw away the game right here.

If this looks like a bit of a jump, we basically skipped a turn. Alky’s rockets took out the recon and he reshuffled and healed his artillery. Lacking a good vision range, Black Hole stumbled on us but couldn’t see us before the move, so they couldn’t shoot.

Remember, kids, take care of your recons in Fog of War!

Now here comes our Pain Train.

Sasha's remaining SCOP boosted turn doesn't do much to be honest. But when we switch to Rachel...

BOOM! Now I've mentioned not being a fan of Rachel's SCOP missiles because you can't control them, but honestly I just don't like it compared to other powers that hit the entire map. In situations like this where everything is clumped up in one spot, it's devastating.

Also, one of the best things about Dual Strikes is one-turn captures.

Regardless of the unit’s health? Or does it simply double how much “damage” you can do for capturing cities?

Just double damage. Except when using another specialized CO, of course.

In one turn our Dual Strike has turned a bad situation around by completely devastating the enemy attack force AND by giving us a factory. This is the bullshit that is the Dual Strike.

Nothing really happens on Colin's turn, which is a shame because he could really use some star-power to charge and use his money multiplier. On the plus side, we did finally get our Airfield.

Sure, let's build a Neotank now that we have a factory, why not?

Some heavy air support for that Neotank? Sure!

Oh, hey! Something to shoot! Now Colin can use the power of economy!

MORE Neotanks! MORE!

Without this sort of heavy support, remaining Black Hole forces would obviously utterly tear us to pieces.

We finally reach the Lab and see what Black Hole has garrisoned up there. A Tank and an Artillery. We have Neotanks and Bombers en route.

I wasn't paying attention and the AI gets another Dual Strike. Nothing much is really going to happen though since all the AI has is a cruiser and a few Black Boats.

I love how casually you throw this out there. “Yeah, we were just going along capturing cities and shit, and the AI did a Dual Strike. Nothing really important happened this turn.”

There hasn’t actually been enough Black Hole remaining to seriously challenge us since Alkydere’s own dual strike. This is just an awful mission to try to win by clearing all enemy units. There’s loose black boats floating around all over.

Ugh. Almost all fog of war maps are better won by either capturing the enemy HQ/Lab or by fulfilling special roles. When the enemy has a wounded, empty APC, 2 Black Boats somewhere, and a barely floating Cruiser, all a Dual Strike will do is call me to hold the fast-forward button on the emulator.

Woo! And we win, finally!

Research lab captured. Kindle will... punish. Fear capacitor overloading.

Hmph. This is your mess to clean up, Jugger. I'm leaving for the next battlefield.

...!!!... Koal! Unfair! Unfair! Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!

We've secured the lab's blueprints and equipment! Now let's head for home. R&D needs to get started so we can deploy the black boats as soon as possible.

Sweet! We did it! Now we won't have to send so much stuff to the scrap heap.

We must remember to thank Black Hole for teaching the Allied Nations how to create boats that can recycle stuff during the middle of their campaign to rape the Earth.

See, it’s all about efficiency. If you’re going with the whole Scorched Earth Policy, why waste resources building replacement units when you can repair the ones you have and use those resources to build more units instead? They may be expendable, but we should still try to end things with more expendable units rather than less of them.

Sounds to me like you’re not really fully embracing ‘expendable’.

Woo! Perfect score!

And now Colin, like his sister, has ranked up. Quick question since I saw it mentioned in the thread: does the thread want me to go into the War Room and just grind ranks for the COs? Once a CO gets a rank it's permanent until you completely reset the DS, so any experience I earn in other game modes and such will carry over back here. I demand an answer, so get voting as this war is run like a Greek Democracy where everyone votes on everything! Even I'm not crazy enough to go as far as Polish Democracy where everyone has the right of Veto.

I feel like our LP rights are being repressed. I, for one, would cherish the ability to veto anyone saying we should use Jake. And then they can veto me, and someone will veto them back, and the LP would regress to an update schedule that you might be more familiar with, Alky.

Now if this doesn’t end in accusations of corruption, we’ve not gone far enough with the whole democracy concept.

Next time, we meet some friends from Yellow Comet and have a friendly game of war!