The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by Alkydere

Part 22: Pinata Crystals

Pinata Crystals

So who’s ready to clear out Black Hole’s scrap yard? I know I am. I’m tired of grinding and I’ll
probably not be using too many skills anyways since they outright break the game. But first, some exposition from what passes for a “plot” in this game.

Everything makes so much more sense now. This Von Bolt guy is manipulating Black Hole from behind the scenes.

Rachel, “making sense” is the absolute last thing I’d call this plot. Unless Hawke has the equivalent of FF13’s Datalog on hand, in which case he should probably share with the rest of the class.

Exactly. He's using the Black Hole Army as a tool to leverage his own ambitions. You can thank him for turning this place into a wasteland, too.

I have no idea why Hawke is against Von Bolt is so against using Black Hole for his own ambitions when Sturm was doing the same thing. Black Hole has never really had an ideology beyond “We’re here to be evil.” Personally I thought Hawke was against Von Bolt because he was turning Black Hole from standard “Generic Conquerer” and going all the way to “Captain Planet Villain”, which is the kind of evil most Saturday morning cartoon villains would laugh at.

So we take that old dude down and save the planet. 'Nuff said.

The biggest clue to how far Black Hole has fallen is the quality of the protagonist. We went from “Tutorial stupid but lovable” Andy to “Try too hard to be cool Hip-Hop Jake”.

But we don't even know where he is!

Hand me your map.


There's a well-camouflaged base in the middle of the Red Rock Desert. Take this road--it will lead you right to it.

Are you serious?

Don't let him fool you! He's one of them!

Chill, Max. It's cool.

Jake? Did you fall on your head? Can't you see what he's doing?

Think about it. What does Black Hole get by invading a bunch of dried-up land? They don't get jack. The army can't be behind this. There's got to be some evil freakjob pulling the strings.

Then again, besides the fact he sees himself as a white rapper, Jake is the sanest, most straight laced character at times.

I’d kinda wonder how they managed to get an army willing to burn the world down and not get anything for it if Advance Wars weren’t pretty clear that only COs are real people.

Yeah, but, Jake...

Grrr... All right, fine. There's no way I'm trustin' a word out of anyone from Black Hole! But I'll trust you, Jake. Even if you I do think you're kind of crazy.

Black Hole: bad. Jake repeating something Hawke says word for word: okay. Our protagonists, ladies and gentlemen.

I'm with you, too, Jake. Hawke has pointed the way--let's roll out!

Wait. Lash and I are coming with you.

Huh?! Have you completely snapped?!

You want to join our alliance? What are you scheming?

This way, I'll have a better chance to survive. That is all. I'm going to use you. You're going to use me. It's that simple.

I’ll also be in a position to take extreme measures if Jake starts using the Com Towers to play “Cottoneye Joe” again, and a lot more likely to act on it than the rest of you.

He’s got my vote.

If we're going to believe what you told us, we might as well trust you. OK--Hawke,'re in! But I'm in charge--what I say goes.

I can't believe you're serious about this!

Welcome to our crew, Hawke. You too, Lash.

Spare me. I fight for myself. If you want to save your land, we must go. They're moving out even as we speak.

I hear you. Prepare to move out!

I like this map. It’s neat to see how it’s set up, and it gives you a lot of options on things to try for: you can prioritize units, crystals, towers, or getting the base/silos/airport. Of course, since the AI starts with everything wounded, the towers and southern properties aren’t as good as starting with a quick kill-rush, but that’s life.

Worrying about the asymmetric forces of your two armies and giving Black Hole a dual strike with your kills complicate it a bit, of course, so this isn’t a one-sided slaughter unless you have a really good plan of attack.

What is this place?

Look at all of these wrecked units. It's giving me the creeps.

Black crystals! There are so many...

We called this the Tower of Rebirth. It was used to repair all of the units you damaged. With the power of the crystals, we can completely repair anything in five days.

The curtain of your trickery is lifted! This is the source of your endless horde!

Actually, merely one of many sources. We'll see the industrial sized version of this in the next mission.

Let's take it down!

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down, kid!

I saw this kind of thing back on Bearen Island. Those black crystals are suckin' the life out of the land. Those things are so going down--I don't even care what it takes.

Jake's right. We can't let this continue!

Regardless, we can't move forward as long as they are standing. The black crystals must fall.

Well, if it isn't the bird-boy betrayer and his squeaky little friend, Lash. I was sure you pests had been squashed, yet here you are. How annoying.

Kindle, you ketchup-tipped overgrown hunk of asparagus! You're gonna pay!

Oh my, what a fierce little kitten you've become. And such a sharp tongue! You're guilty of treason, and I sentence you to death. I'm the judge and jury--now my army will be my executioner's axe.

I’m still in utter disbelief that Kindle has turned out to be our first honest to god villain.

Kindle’s enough of a bitch to handle when you’re actually playing that it worked well for me. Curse you and your property damage powers!

Battle software loaded.

Aha ha ha. Turn off your speaker, Jugger. There's only room for one on this stage. Now then, are you ready, fools? Behold the power of the Tower of Rebirth. Bow down and beg for mercy! Aha ha ha!

As you can see I’m trying to limit myself on skills a bit. I hadn’t gotten to grinding with Jess and Jake, so no worry there, but Hawke and Lash have a nearly full set of CO skills. Only the CO skills one gets from beating the campaign are off limits to them Unless people start telling me to use the skills I’m probably going to limit myself to only two skills a battle. Now, let’s get started.

Jake, you must tell me everything you know about these black crystals. What can they do? How durable are they? What's their range of effect? How do--

Jess! Take cover! They're coming!

Listen up, Kindle! You're gonna eat what you dished out, only a hundred times worse!

Don't forget about me, Kindle. It's time for some payback.

Alternate introduction lines of note:

Colin & Sasha:
Blue Moon sibling COs...attack!

I'm counting on you, little brother!

Jess & Javier:
Let us whack mightily upon our enemy as the oaken staff assaults an unwary pinata! All for the chocolaty treasures within!

This time I'm with you 100 percent, Javier.

A pinata analogy? Javier gets the weirdest fucking lines, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t have the right idea, though.

Grimm & Sensei:
The enemy troops are a bunch of pencil necks! This is gonna be easy, eh, Sensei?

Hmmm...pencils? No, no I don't have any pencils. I may have a pen, though.

Sir Javier shall kick your foul buttocks with his steely boots of justice!

Hmm...looks like it's time to get all fired up. Yep.

Huh? You're telling me to fight? OK--as long as I get to blow stuff up!

Lash, of course, remains the best character.

All right, let’s begin smashing things. It’s easy now but it will get harder fast, so it’s important to hit as many of the high-priority units that you can before the crystals rebuild them.

It’s also important to start grabbing Com Towers.

Gotta love it when you can plink a tank to death with a Recon.

The first crystal is within the reach of the Megatank on the first turn, you just have to clear an Infantry out of the way. In hindsight I probably could have made some joke about how all the crystals will be harmed in this playthrough, as is I’ll be doing my best to avoid making bad Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced jokes. We’ll be seeing these things pop up more and more often. They’ll rarely be as dense as they are here, but we’ll be grinding plenty of crystals to powder beneath our tanks’ treads. a tad overkill. Can’t really complain when there’s so many to take down, though.

This is one of those moves that will make things much easier on yourself if you do it. Killing the crystal makes all the 1HP units next to it a non-issue for another turn, letting one unit hamstring large amounts of Black Hole material in a single blow. It doesn’t work as well once they get to 3 or 5 HP.

And that’s Orange’s turn. You’ll notice I’m ignoring the bases at the bottom right now. Sure, having bases and such is nice, but each side only starts with 3 money-producing tiles, and there are only 7 money producing properties to capture. I’ll be giving Blue the bases, consolidating the money on one faction so I can build more and better units. Or at least that was the plan. It's rather obvious I overthink myself here as the last thing we want to do is hang around that long.

Just make a nice hole here.

The crystal on the right is within range of our Rockets, which means it’s another easy kill for us.

And here’s the battle at the end of Blue’s turn. We’re cutting through the Black Hole forces now, but that’s not going to last.

You get basically one free turn in this mission, with each subsequent turn making things tougher on you. Up to you to find the best way to capitalize on it before the Black Hole forces heal up all the way and smash back.

The crystals thrum with power and things look just a little bit bleaker.

Aha ha ha ha! All we have to do is repair our units. We’ll win eventually.

Oh no, my fighter jet! It’s only an over-specialized unit that I’ll get limited use out of due to the limited amount of air units on this map!

And I’m not even going to feign concern over this. Kindle is free to bounce off my Megatank however many times she wants for all I care.

Oh, suicidal IntSys AI, never change. That infantryman had more heart the rest of the army combined.

Hooray! Free CO power for me! Go ahead and wail on that Missile all you want.

Yea, my stuff’s a little worse for wear right now, but if Kindle and Jugger want to bounce off my armor I won’t stop them.

Every crystal we smash forces Black Hole to fall back and take advantage of the remaining crystals. Sure, the big, heavy stuff is back there, but it also means Black Hole is more susceptible to the silos I’ve got.

End of Orange’s second turn. I would have loved to toss my Megatank out there to take some more hits on the chin but last turn used up all of its ammo. That three-shot limit really hurts the Megatank’s ability to last without an APC parked next to it.

And Crystal three goes boom.

I don’t know why but for some reason the CO reactions between Hawke and Jugger amuse me. It’s like Hawke is glaring Jugger into submission from across the battlefield.

I’m impressed Hawke can keep a straight face around Jugger, really.

End of Day 2 for Blue. Kindle is right about having a very strong position. Our forces are subject to wear and tear while Black Hole’s forces get stronger every turn.

Case in point.

But Black’s units are getting strong enough, and clustered enough, for me to burn my first silo.

The end of Orange Day 3. We’re getting there, seeing less and less Black Hole forces.

And that takes care of the last of the Jet enemies. We just have ground forces and Copters to worry about. Oh, and the fact Jugger and Kindle are about to Dual Strike.

Okay, ow, this isn’t looking so good. Orange’s effectives have been reduced to a Neotank, a beat up Md Tank and a Recon, the Megatank is beat up enough to only really be worthwhile as a paperweight. Blue’s down to an AA and half of a Stealth. Luckily, Black Hole has been cut down to size themselves, having only two Piperunners, a Rocket, a B-Copter and a Neotank as effectives. The rest are transport units or too damaged to do any good.

The comm towers are a great complication on this mission: you barely care about having them, since the enemy usually has such low HP that you can smash them with or without it, but damn you don’t want a 5 unit with a massive attack boost to hit you, either.

Note: Megatanks make really mean paperweights. Perhaps I discounted it too soon. Hopefully it will also act as a damage magnet.

And that’s crystal number four down.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Lash and Hawke have their CO meters all filled.

You are totally going down!

Playtime is over.

I know some of you have been waiting for this forever, so here you go. Yeeehaw!

Only a 110% boost? I would have thought it’d be a bigger tag bonus than that.’s a Dual Strike, but we’ve only got three units to really use...

That being said, seeing Hawke completely undo a turn of the crystals work is magnificent.

As is seeing his AA kill a Neotank through bullet erosion.

And the Bolt Guard has been reduced to a single Piperunner as an effective as well. Sure, it’s the most annoying unit ever, but there’s only one.

Actually, make that NO effectives. Blue captured the airfield last turn, which means the capturing Mech can now activate a Silo.

And I can buy a fresh B-Copter.

A really mean paperweight. Then again, Kindle was bright enough to attack a Megatank at any health with a 1 HP Tank.

And that’s the last of Black Hole’s offensive units. All the rest are APCs, T-Copters and a single Infantry with 3 HP.

Five crystals down, one to go.

And that’s the last of them.

Jugger, you spherical malfunction! What happened?

Black crystals report fatal error. System not responding. Repair impossible.

We can't use them anymore, can we? I was going to finish the allies off here, but now I've changed my mind. I'll be waiting for you. Aha ha ha ha!

Like a proper Saturday morning cartoon villain, Kindle can get a major scheme completely crushed and scuttle off, arrogance equally completely untouched.

Wait right there! You are NOT getting away this time!

Yes she is Rachel. Not until the “gritty” Days of Ruin is it possible to capture enemy COs. Hawke and Lash don’t count, they were defecting.

She escaped through a passage leading deeper into the fortress. Move quickly.

Right! Let's roll!

A good showing all around. I took a bit more of a beating than I needed to but I still made S-Rank.

Next time on Advance Wars: Dual Strike:

Black Hole reveals their killsat: the Black Onyx.

Someone remind me as to why Lash (or anyone else for that matter) wasn’t busting this thing out about 15 chapters ago?

And we take on Black Hole’s biggest crystal yet! The next mission’s the halfway point of the campaign, and honestly a tough mission (especially in the Hard campaign). We have three armies and 50 minutes before the Black Onyx fires (Note: this will never happen since I pause the game constantly when taking screenshots. Even without the pausing it would never happen, 50 minutes is way too much time).

Since the last few votes for multiple armies have been such clusterfucks, I advise everyone to vote by army, like so:

Orange Star: Hawke/Lash
Blue Moon: Hawke/Lash
Green Earth: Hawke/Lash.

Just remember that as much as everyone loves the Rebel Yell, we can only have a character on the map once. Also, everyone should vote on if I should abuse CO powers or not.

Whether that makes you more or less likely to let him, I should note that this is one of the toughest missions in the game for a lot of people.