The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by Alkydere

Part 24: The Cavalry Arrives

The Cavalry Arrives

Sorry about the delay, between the post-op painkillers and Diablo 3 I looked up to realize it was a week later, I hadn’t done any work on my LP and yet I think I did co-commentary for Artix somewhere in the intervening time, my memory is a bit fuzzy on that.

Twice, actually. You sure those painkillers haven’t worn off yet?

Last time, we destroyed the Black Obelisk and stopped Black Hole dead in its tracks. Ha, who am I kidding? Besides the obvious fact that if they built one Obelisk they can build more, Black Hole runs on Saturday Morning Cartoon logic.

Commander Rachel! We have a situation here!

What's going on? I'm supposed to be going on leave today. I was planning on visiting Macro Land.

We're under fire! It's Black Hole!


Black Hole is attacking Omega Land! They're everywhere! They're systematically destroying every factory in sight!

How... How is that possible? Where did they get their army? Send out the call to all allied COs--we have to regroup and push them back!

Our factories are destroyed! Almost all of our units have been wiped out. How are we going to fight back?

This is looking bad. Call my sis--call Commander Nell! Tell her we need reinforcements!

Yes, sir! Will she make it in time?

She'd better. We've got to hang on with the units we have. I thought this war was over...

Considering Black Hole recovered in just a couple of months from being completely crushed at the start of this game, something you didn’t come close to doing, I’m going to say you really jumped the gun on that call.

Not to mention already know that there’s that mysterious someone behind Kindle’s Krew that we haven’t fought yet.

All right, is everyone here?

How did Black Hole manage to launch a surprise attack? Shoot! There goes my root beer and bratwurst tasting tour!

I know Artix poked fun at the frothy mugs, and Sasha’s wine glass, of water last time but when will censors realize that admitting alcohol exists will go a long way towards making them not look stupid? Every five year old kid knows what beer is.

So it was root beer. Of course it was, Treehouse. Of course it was.

How's it look, Rachel?

Not good. Black Hole has already taken several of Omega Land's territories... For now, we must guard Bluewater Sea at all costs. If it falls, Omega Land is defenseless!

What is the enemy's strength?

According to our intel, they outnumber us three to one...

No way!

Macro Land reinforcements are coming. We'll just have to hold out until then. Be brave! We must defend Omega Land!

Let's do this thang!

*Flash to map*

Aha! Ha ha ha! c'est merveilleux! The enemy factories are smoldering ruins. All that remains are the COs.

Since when can we destroy factories?

Back again, Kindle? Not a fast learner, are you? Now that we're here, you won't have Omega Land to kick around anymore!

Aha ha ha ha! How amusing! What do you think you can do with such a teensy, pathetic army?

Why you...

"Aha ha ha! Now I get my revenge! I've brought you a special guest. Please give a warm welcome to... Commander Olaf of Black Hole!

Remember way back when I was showing off Jake’s alternate colors and option 10 was “Clone Jake”. It wasn’t a random throwaway thing, from now on we’ll often be facing clones COs. Speaking of alternate colors: destroying the Obelisk unlocked the new COs in Battle Maps, so everyone wants me to I can do a mini update showing off everyone’s colors and maybe setting up a vote.

It... It can't be...

C-Commander Olaf!

The guy has fucking blue skin. Jesus, you’d think the idea that “Hey, our boss doesn’t have blue skin, the fuck is up with that?” would register at some point, but no.

No way! I thought Olaf was in Macro Land, rebuilding Blue Moon!

Aha ha ha! Yes, it's a mystery... And gutter filth such as you will never solve it! I'm going to bury you in snow!

We can't fight in these conditions! Especially not against Commander Olaf! Wh-what am I supposed to do?!

Whoa there, Colin. Let's just take it down a notch, why don't we?

Well, looky here, a new face!

Is... Is it really you? Commander Grit!

Howdy! Long time, no see. I heard y'all were in a bit of a pickle, so I wandered over to see if I could help.

Looks like you're just in time, Grit.

Two new faces!

Sami! You made it!

That Olaf is a fake. He's a copy CO--a clone. It's more of Black Hole's nefarious technology. The real Commander Olaf is alive and well back in Macro Land.

A third!

Sonja! Heya, kiddo! How long has it been? Hm... Wait, isn't Kanbei with you?

No, sir. He wanted to come, but the emperor cannot leave his homeland unattended. I have to come in his stead.

Much as I'd like it, now's not exactly the time for a stroll down memory lane. We have an enemy to crush.

And a fourth!

I like this guy, he’s sensible. He’s going to be promptly ignored, right?

You're as subtle as ever, Eagle... Thanks for coming. We need the help.

Blue team is in position! Awaiting your orders!

Green team is in position! Ready to move out.

Well done! OK, Commander Rachel. We're awaiting orders.

Thanks, Sonja...and everyone else who came from Macro Land! Now we can win this fight. Let's go kick some Black Hole tail!

All right, let’s take a look at this thing! We’ve got two forces and...Orange. Orange has a very important job since it’s the one with infantry, but it only has infantry and APCs. Blue’s forces has plenty of artillery and flying units, while Green has tanks, tanks, and a Battleship. The map starts snowing, which means we’ll be burning twice as much fuel per move.

This fight is still a real breather in comparison to the last. Pure pre-deploy, the enemy is fairly bunched up, and you have silos to fire. Not hard to suss out, and little room for subtlety.

Now, a very scientific and accurate poll for this episode was as following:

”Paul.Power posted:

Orange: Sami and Sasha
Blue: Eagle and Sensei
Green: Jess and Jake

”almost everyone else” posted:

“What Paul said!”

Well, here’s our COs. I’m taking the CO skills away for now since they’re not really necessary, and because I can’t grind the four new people on the Oozium map so they have no experience.

Anyways, lets have a little brush up on our old/new COs:

As everyone can see, Grit’s got that “thousand yard stare” problem from AW1 fixed, though he’s still got his attention focused down range. Grit is the Artillery King, and is the opposite of Max. All of his indirect-fire units not only have an additional unit of range, but they hit harder too. That range bonus grows to a terrifying +2 and +3 when he uses his power. The downside is his direct fire units (not counting infantry) are weaker. There’s been some talk in the thread about how Grit is weaker in this game in competitive play due to how fast CO power is gained in AWDS. I’m going to just say that we’re playing the campaign, not against other humans, and in the campaign Grit is a beast.

Grit's Theme

The AI cannot handle Grit. Especially once you pop his power or super, you get to laugh and rain down unanswered fire on its head from long distances. A lot of fun to play.

Sami is Wars World’s commando. Her infantry units are some of the beefiest ones in the game, and they can capture at 1.5x speed (rounded down). This comes at a cost of attack power for her non-infantry direct fire units, but while she’s not the best in all out stand up fights (even with her bonuses Infantry can generally be crushed under the treads of enough AAs) one always has to be on the lookout for her stealing property right out from under your nose, especially your HQ.

Sami's Theme

I don’t much like doing things the less violent way. Most of the time I’d rather put someone who isn’t Sami in there and kill everything. Her tag with Eagle has a massive one-round win range, though, if the enemy left their HQ unprotected.

Sonja is Lash’s non-evil counterpart (or more accurate, Lash was put in as Sonja’s counterpart in AW2) and War’s World smart girl. She’s so smart she can hack the very mechanics her world works on. If the traditional Wars World progression wasn’t Orange Star to Blue Moon to Yellow Comet to Green Earth, I’d say that Sonja really should have been in Rachel’s position as commander of the Macro Land Allied Forces. Mechanics wise, Sonja is fun to play as and even more infuriating to play against. The AI isn’t thrown off as much as players by the lack of health intel on units, but even in non fog maps it can easily get confusing trying to tell who’s at what health in a large blob of units. Also, Sonja negates defensive bonuses so when she’s using her SCO power everything up to a City tile might as well be open terrain when fighting her.

Sonja's Theme

Rather bafflingly, Sonja has bad luck. Normally your attacks do a certain amount more damage than the readout suggests; Sonja is one of a tiny group who can do less. Weird. Anyway, she’s for fog of war maps. Ever since the first game, she’s been buffed every outing, to make her more useful outside that. In this game, her super is incredibly overpowered. Countering before the enemy attacks is just so good, especially when paired with better damage and nixing enemy defense stars.

Next up we have Eagle, the fighter jock of Wars World. His big strengths, other than straight up stronger air units, is that his air units use less fuel between turns and the ability to take two turns. The reduced fuel cost extends their effective range wonderfully, especially on Stealths. Eagle’s signature ability is to take two turns, either at halved attack power (still pretty useful) or at full attack power if you fill his massive CO power bar.

Eagle's Theme

It’s a pity most air units are too expensive to be practical except if predeployed or in win-more, but Eagle does what he does very well, so deploy him when it’s his chance to shine. Do note that if he’s going to be in a tag power, you want him to go first. Trust me on this.

And here’s the fellow our opponent is cloned from. Olaf, or Grumpy Russian Santa, brings snow days to all, letting kids stay home from school and forcing other COs to use twice as much fuel. Olaf’s CO powers are unique in the fact that the snow effect lasts for two days, which means with his increased attack power in snow he gets a second day running around with bonus power while his enemies (and allies) are weakened.

Olaf's Theme

Another unmentioned fact here is that Olaf gets snow penalties in rain, so that hits him harder than any other CO. I don’t much care for using Olaf; he doesn’t have a strong specialty. Still, there’s a couple of times that him snowing in the enemy can give you some breathing room. You want him on the end of a tag, because his power works better if you don’t give your other CO snow to work in.

Anyways, with that all set up, let’s begin!

I need more intel on Omega Land’s forests and mountains. Troops, move out!

Oh, Commander Olaf... This is like some horrible dream.

An Olaf clone! Ha! How convenient! I've always wanted to face him.

Reinforcements just in the nick of time! It's good to have friends!

Hey, you fought with Commander Olaf in the Macro Land battles, right? What's up with this? He didn't rat us out or anything, did he?

Sorry. I don't know. I'm an expert in weapons and tactics, but I'm not much for reading people. I know that he'd do anything for Blue Moon, though. That's for certain.

Some other gems for COs and combinations we didn’t pick:

Let's go, Sami! With my air force and your infantry, we'll have this wrapped up in no time!

Roger that!

Note that no team has both air AND infantry, so why would you ever team the pair up on this mission? Yet they still made a line just in case you did?

Jess, tell me of this scruff-riddled, frost-bearded commander's skills!

He's a talented CO even at the worst of times, but a real monster in the snow. As long as the white stuff keeps falling, we're going to be at a disadvantage.

If I didn't know better, I'd think that was Olaf himself, Lash.

Tee hee! Yeah, good copy, huh? Everyone's freakin' out, but I'll just keep the facts to myself for a bit.

Gotta love Lash. Even her solo line mocks everyone’s shock:

Surprising absolutely no one, Kindle is once again just using Lash’s tech. Has she done anything on her own?

Oozium238, which Lash didn't like at all. No fun explosions and wasn't even fun to poke (probably because it would try to eat your poking stick and arm).

Sheesh! That Olaf is a total fake. Why is everyone freaking out?

After all, the real Olaf would probably be doing his best to strangle Lash bare handed now after what she did in AW2.

These Black Hole fellas are nasty. I'll make 'em sweat like a goat in a pepper patch!

Also, Grit has mastered the art of the painfully clunky, made up anachronisms since the last game.

Since this is a predeployed map, we don’t start grabbing property near our start. Instead we run towards Black Hole’s two properties on our side of the pipe wall because they’re available. There’s a reason for this, but the game doesn’t tell you why for another two turns, ending up with Orange running in confused circles.

Blue moves forward. The Carrier would make either a good refueling point for our planes, or area denial. However, with APCs our planes’ fuel resupply can travel with them, and Black Hole only has a couple of B-Copters total for their air units.

As does green. At least Green’s Battleship will be of use.

Just look at that little inlet there for it to sail up and dominate the field.

Aha ha ha! Look at all the beautiful snow. It's almost as bewitching as I am! Most COs waste all their fuel slogging through the snow, but not my dear Olaf.

The cold is nothing to me...

This cloned Olaf is just like the real one. He's unstoppable in snow! This beautiful blizzard promises me a swift victory! Aha ha ha ha!

Honestly, the whole idea of clone COs bring up a lot of questions. Are CO powers somehow genetic? Is the whole reason Jake a CO because he tested positive for magical CO power midichlorians and was conscripted?

I’ll take that explanation over “Jake demonstrated tactical prowess on the battlefield.” We know that’s bullshit.

Kindle starts to break through her own Black Pipes to get through to me...using AAs and Tanks. For reference, AAs and Tanks do about 10 damage to buildings.

I think this is the only time that the AI attacks pipe seams. Anyway, this is just sort of a timer: get your shit in order before the AI veeeery sloooowly gets out and comes on the attack.

Sami starts capturing the cities. Unlike other COs, her capture command is “Capt*” instead of “Capt” because of her bonus.

Absolutely nothing happens on the rest of day two besides Green and Blue moving, so let’s skip to day three where the game tells you what you should be doing with Orange’s infantry and APCs.

This is strange. There's no way the snow should still be falling. And what's with those cities to the north and south...


I heard something once about a country that ran a strange experiment... They used used a huge pair of electrodes to channel energy and alter the weather. Their experiment failed, but what if Black Hole mastered that technology?

Are you saying, if we capture those cities...

Yes. We might be able to stop the snow.

Someone enlighten me as to why Black Hole hasn’t just conquered the entire world by now? Because they clearly have a huge technological advantage, and until Hawke and Lash defected, they were probably one-up on Macro Land tactically as well.

Well, since we’re already here...

Commander! We found an unidentified device left by the Black Hole Army! We'll detonate it!

It's just as Commander Sonja predicted--the snow has stopped!

Now we can fight on equal footing!

The snow wasn’t really bothering me anyways. All three teams have two APCs, and this battle is won defensively, by parking your stuff on the near side of the pipe, which means your troops aren’t really moving that much.

Speaking of defense, just because it doesn’t make sense doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of it. Black Hole has nothing on this map that can hit a hidden Stealth, and nothing can pass beneath it either, meaning Black Hole can’t attack through this hole in the pipeline.

Nothing happens on Green besides I place my Megatank in a really stupid spot where the AI’s Artillery can chip a single HP off of it.

Now that we’ve dealt with those cities, how about those silos?

We finally see some combat on Day 4 and I nick Black’s Megatank as revenge for scuffing the paint on Green’s.

Artillery vs Battleship, who will win?

As always, having and using Silos trivializes the map. A free three-HP chunk off of a Megatank and Neo Tank is a huge deal.

Just moving the implausible, invincible, invisible plane-wall forward. I really want to get in there and start smashing everything, but the minicannons and the AAs make the right side of the pipe rather hostile territory for aircraft.

Green sits on its ass and Black Hole finally breeches the southern seam. Looks like Green will actually have to do something now.

Silos seriously trivialize everything. Also, sorry for the hard to see targeting cursors, it’s a white cursor on a white, snowy background.

This shows the only threat of the map, too: if you manage to play really badly, technically the enemies you silo might go back and get healed. It’s not hard to avoid that, though.

Since the gates are open for Green’s tanks, the Battleship starts working on those annoying minicannons.

Of course Green won’t be running straight in, those middle minicannons are covering the entrances quite well so entering would mean I lose 3 HP off of something expensive. Instead, we’re going to use the Fire Emblem tactic of “sit there and let the AI suicide on you”.

Like so.

Sadly, I wasn’t paying attention to the middle seam’s health so Black Hole slips their remaining B-Copter through.

Blue also starts working on the minicannons.

And that takes care of Black Hole’s air force.

Black Hole’s all but finished. Almost everything is ground down and wrecked. Though Kindle and her pet clone have a Dual Strike tucked up their sleeves.

Kindle’s half of the attack is almost anemic, bouncing off of my Megatank and Neotank. Olaf’s is more of a problem though, what with his SCOP bringing in a big enough blizzard that everything that’s not his takes 2 damage.

There go my Neotanks.

My B-Copters.

And, well, my Megatank isn’t worth much any more.

Sadly, Black Hole only had the single shot in their magazine. This mission pretty much returns us to “Are you even awake?” difficulty as I start dismantling Black Hole’s attack force.

Stealths are expensive, short ranged fuel guzzlers that don’t hit for all that much compared to their price tag, but they’re absolutely wonderful for the ability to slap AA around with impunity.

And since fuel’s at even more of a premium with Olaf causing snow to fall again, we send a suicide APC to keep the Stealth’s tanks topped off and act as AI bait.

Cannon 2 down.

I’m skipping a lot but at this point it’s really clean up. Here’s what everything looks like at the end of the player turns.

And since the final AA finally moved off of its perch on the city, my Stealth finally finishes it off, finally.

Sami’s APCs are in sight of the enemy HQ (always a sign of the end-game), but honestly we’re not going to have a chance to win by HQ capture since Black Hole is down to one damaged Artillery and a pair of easily flanked minicannons.

Sorry, only a single minicannon.

Make that no minicannons.

And now no Artillery. Black Hole has been completely routed.

Sami, Grit, Sonja, and Eagle... Thank you for coming.

Commander Nell already briefed us. Consider us a part of the Allied Nations. So this must be Commander Jake...


We've heard impressive things about you. I'm Sami. I'm second to none when it comes to infantry battles.

I'm Grit. Y'all can leave the indirect attacks to me.

I am Sonja. My troops have an edge in Fog of War missions!

And IntSys finally made it so that you were worth a damn outside of them too!

Call me Eagle.

“I do things with planes and I hate Hawke’s guts.”

So no Hawke/Eagle shenanigans? Why do the competent people have to hate each other?

Now that we have Macro Land backup, we can fight on equal terms. Let's gather up the troops and head for the other battlefields.

Commander Rachel! We just received fresh intel! Clones are popping up all over the place!

Roger that. Get ready, everyone!

I'm all over it!

Black Hole was annihilated, yet their army has regenerated. What's going on here?

Does everyone have the memory of a goddamn goldfish? Remember when Black Hole used a big-ass crystal to give themselves infinite resources and rebuild their army faster than anyone thought possible? Surely someone remembers the last war.

No, of course not. This is Advance Wars.

And it’s yet another S-Rank. Yea, as I said, the game’s difficulty goes from a bullshit slap out of nowhere back to checking if you have a pulse. AW:DS’s difficulty graph isn’t a curve, it’s random noise.

Next time on AWDS: