The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by Alkydere

Part 26: Death from Above

Death from Above

Two CO clones down, one to go. Let’s introduce ourselves to the next clone! I do believe it’s Yellow Comet’s turn.

Speaking of introducing ourselves, hi, I’m Fedule, and I’ll be manning the “knows things about this game” chair for a while. Oh, hey there Artix, what a coincidence this is.

Hopefully, ZeeToo will be back soon. Until then, well Fedule was available. Though if anyone who knows Advanced Wars feels like speaking up, I’m sure Fedule won’t mind being able to focus on his own LP.

...I still don't get it.

Eh? What's that, girl?

Well, it takes a massive amount of energy to produce a viable clone... How could Black Hole get access to that much power?

Man, Black Hole sure did fix themselves up fast. Almost like they’ve got some kind of infinite energy source or something crazy like that. It’s not like they’d try that scheme again, would they? That would just be silly.

Rachel and Jess were just saying the same thing! If clones eat up that much energy, that makes 'em hungrier than me! Harrr!

Lash? Do you know anything about it?

Huh? Oh, yeah...totally. Making one or two clones is WAY easy! It takes about as much energy as all the cities of Orange Star use in a month. Not all that much, really! Tee hee hee! I hear there's a clone at Twin Crown volcanoes. Ooooh, it's gonna be fun!

So Rachel and Jess are apparently well-informed about clones, or at least have some semblance of knowledge about them. But why? They’re not researchers or anything. Even Sonja, our resident “smart girl”, defers to Lash on this one.

I guess Rachel and Jess would be the only ones in this goddamn army who’d do some token research into pertinent matters about which they know nothing.

There were clones in the first game, well one clone, but it was an important plot point. But then again, no one in the cast remembers the first game.

I wonder which clone will show up next?

Maybe it'll be a copy of you, right down to the plain face! Tee hee hee!

Hey, that was mean! I don't think we could ever be friends.

Whoa there...that's a double helping of volcano. At least they're not active...

Be careful, Sensei. Something's not right here...

That thing erupted!

These volcanoes have been blessed with Black Hole's most advanced technology. Like a hungry snake emerging from its den, these falling rocks will strike mercilessly. In just 18 days, this land will be reduced to naught but ashes...

He says 18 days like it’s a challenge. Most of the campaign missions only take about 10 days to finish.

More importantly, in 17 days, absolutely nothing will have changed. They’re very careful not to disturb the environment in case they lose before it reaches that critical 18th day.

Oh, hey! It’s IntSys’s most favouritest ever once-per-game map gimmick!

Gwar! Think you're tough, shorty? I'll smash your head like a melon!

Leave it to a simpleton to use his hands instead of his brain. Arise, my clone! Help me sacrifice these fools to the purifying flames!

Ah, it runs on ritual sacrifice. Bit expensive though. How many times are you really going to be able to use your superweapon that requires 18 days of slaughter? Should have gone with something more economical, Koal.

And they’re “purifying” flames now? They damage your units too, asshole.

Great, I’m now imagining Koal dressed up as Montezuma from Civ V.

By your command.

D-Dad?! NO!

Sonja, I would have thought that of all the COs that you would have recognized the pattern where we fight all the Allied Nation COs that didn’t come with us.

There's our answer--we must face Commander Kanbei.

You have amassed quite a stable of COs. And now, their skills are turned against you! The hunter has become the hunted! Send in the clone!

By your command.

Gragh! He looks just like our emperor!

I can't see as well as I used to. So it looks just like him, eh?

Other than the fact that he’s green, yes.

It'll be like fighting Kanbei himself. Those dogs... I'll bust their chops!

Hah! That's nothin'. I've been whippin' Kanbei since he was a pup, and I can do it again! If they rigged the volcano to blow, there's got to be a way to stop it. Hm...looks like this mission involves two fronts and both screens. The CPU usually commands the secondary front, but I bet you want more control. If you want to take over, open the menu and hit Intel, then turn Auto CO off. You can turn Auto CO on or off anytime, so use it wisely.

Now that Sensei is done with his long winded tutorial, let’s take a look at what the game gives us.

On the main map we have a ring of indirect units around the volcano and yet inside the river. Notice how no ground units besides infantry can threaten this ring of indirect units due to the rough terrain? Notice how Black Hole has no air units, and no property besides cities around the volcanoes and a few easily grabbed com-towers? Yea, those indirect units only are in threat of running out of ammo.

It does, however, bear mentioning that the AI is partaking in a common Advance Wars Asshole Ploy; using Kanbei on a map where his forces are entirely predeployed. More on that later... In any case, I always thought the initial deployment pattern on this map was really weird. I mean, you’ve got Black Hole and the volcano completely surrounded, and yet there’s a completely empty path surrounding that. And where the hell is that river flowing from?

Now...who did the thread give me to play with...

Ah, right. The thread was nice enough to give me Grit of all people on this map.

This might actually be more hilarious than predeployed-Kanbi given our unit selection.

If we use them hills to our advantage, maybe this'll be an easy fight.

Ha ha! This takes me back to my old days as a hot and fiery volcanologist!

Paratrooper volcanologist, Sensei is the most awesome CO. Some Alternate lines include:

Eighteen days? We gotta hustle.

There isn't even time to plan. We'll just give 'em the ol' razzle-dazzle!

Razzle-dazzle? Gonna show them your jazz hands next Rachel?

Two volcanoes! This is a rare geological wonder. I wonder if there are hot spring geysers nearby... What is it? What's wrong, Jake?

Everything cool with you? You never say stuff like that. You're always all intent on the battle and stuff. Know what I'm saying? But yeah...word...once we beat these suckas down, I could chill in a pool.

Apparently volcanology is a relatively common pastime among CO.

I haaaaaaate volcanoes! They think they're so hot! Nature only exists so we can conquer it with science!


I hope you understand just how strange you are. Come on, let's go.

A Kanbei clone? Laaaaaame! I could have come up with something WAY better.

Koal, is it? Good-bye, little man.

And more awesome Hawke and Lash lines.

The game starts by sending a pile of otherwise rather useless units from the main front to the second front. The Missiles are useless since Black Hole has no air on the main map, the AAs are almost as useless since they’re fast enough to make roadblocks for the enemy but Sensei could make much better use of them against Kanbei’s eight B-Copters. The main front B-Copters could also be of use but, again, Sensei will make far, far better use of them.

One Mech starts hobbling up to the north base, while an APC and a Rocket rush for the eastern airport. The airport is far, far more important than the base due to terrain, and the fact that we brought Sensei.

And now, let us view Grit’s artillery range and be filled with awe. Grit is the artillery CO, and he will always hit for longer range than anyone else.

That is a rocket, Alk. But yes.

I meant artillery in general.

Now to view Grit’s damage and be filled with awe again. Seriously, Grit’s indirects hit like the fist of an angry god, and the two com towers on the inside island will only make that worse.

I mean, seriously now. That central ring is entirely surrounded by Grit Rockets. They’ve got nothing but artillery to fight back with. And some directs. For all the good that will do. Actually... how did those tanks even get there? And why are there black boats in those tiny lakes

Apparently Black Hole’s army was just sitting on some uncaptured properties. Once his forces roll out to make room Koal begins to capture his one, lonely factory.

Koal’s got a good start with the whole predeployment thing, but... well... his cashflow is going to leave him pretty much screwed once that initial push fails, and Sensei’s triumphant return (spoiler!) is just going to be icing on the cake.

Anyways, let’s take a look at the second front to see what Sensei is up to right now.

Sensei builds a defensive wall of AAs around his capturing infantry and his B-Copters. Rushing out now would only get our B-Copters killed because we’re facing Kanbei, who’s units are insanely powerful and will rip our valuable B-Copters apart if they get first attack. However, not even Kanbei’s B-Copters will fare well attacking an AA and the AI knows that. Speaking of Kanbei, let’s take a look at the CO we’re facing:

Kanbei is the Emperor of Yellow Comet and is all about intense training and the way of the samurai. It shows as all of his units are built like brick walls and hit just as hard. He has a 120% bonus to both attack and defense, at the downside that his units cost 120% more. He still comes out ahead really considering his units just will not fucking die. His powers are lumping a giant ball of attack onto his already impressive stats, and then lumping a giant ball of attack and defense onto everything. You do not attack Kanbei with direct units during his Super Power turn because not only will you not do any damage due to his 160% defense, he will return fire for double damage which means he’ll hit for 320% and wreck your shit.

Kanbei’s Theme

I see that he has a (minor) combo with Javier. This is a thing that needs to happen. Don Quijote and his samurai bro against the world.

Kanbei, like Javier, is basically a walking case study in how small defence gains in AW are almost as useful as massive offense gains... and of course Kanbei can conjure up big defence gains and absurd offense gains at the same time.

Also, Kanbei’s tag with Sonja makes you face an almost difficult choice of who to put on the defence. Sonja’s entire thing is her what-the-fuck-surprise-counterattack routine, but Kanbei’s lets you just absorb all the hits and ruin everything anywhere. Like I said, almost difficult. I mean, when you consider that on the turn after your counterkilling rampage you can be in command of either Sonja’s average unlucky troops or Kanbei’s monsters... Nice try, IntSys.

Anyways, Day 2 starts on the main front and the volcano erupts, sending bits of laval through the air to impact the map. From day 2 onwards both volcanoes erupt, and any unit standing on a tile the laval hits will take 5 damage. Of course, the lava will always hit the exact same tiles every turn so if you’re paying attention it’s not too hard to avoid most, if not all, of the damage from it.

As you can kinda see in the screenshot above, the AI (of course) knows where all the hotspots are and will usually avoid them, so you can kinda infer where they are from that as well.

(Funfact: A similar gimmick is used in Fire Emblem 10, and yet - despite IntSys tending to focus most of their bullshit into Fire Emblem instead of Advance Wars - in that game the AI pays no attention at all to where the danger tiles are, and frequently gets its units hit. So... yeah.)

For example, the APC could very well move one additional space here, but doing so will make a big rock of molten rock land on it, which isn’t good for anyone’s health.

Anyways, Grit’s turns are mostly him raining down pain on the enemy with howitzers, rockets and giant fucking missiles that Black Hole left unguarded. There’s really not much to see here besides shot after shot of hilariously powerful artillery.

Heh heh heh... This battlefield's volcano is controlled from the secondary front, and vice versa! To stop the eruptions, those fools would have to capture all four of the cities that ring the opposite volcano. And I know where the lava lands... So I won't get hit! Feeble-minded imbeciles! Where will you hide when fiery death rains down upon thee?

As always, as soon as the gimmick of the level is revealed the Black Hole CO’s can’t help but brag about their huge trap. One can shut down the volcanoes by capturing the four cities around the opposite volcano, but really the eruptions are such a non-issue it really doesn’t matter. The primary volcano will hit around the outer edge of the map, and the secondary volcano will hit three of the four tiles directly adjacent to it on each side.

Sensei’s turn just involves staying bunkered up and waiting for the AI to come to us for another turn.

Hey Koal, weren’t you just bragging about how you know exactly where all the flaming rocks landed? Good job positioning your Neotank. To be fair this is exactly the only time I’ve seen the AI do this the entire game.

IntSys always did cheat like a motherfucker when it came to these things. FE6 has a map with a similar gimmick where the AI just so happens to be standing on spaces that are never in the way of the “random” traps. Of course, then you just mimic their positioning, so it’s kind of a moot point.

I’ve finally reached the airstrip, and in doing so I placed my APC right on a fireball spot. Well, could be worse, I could have dropped the Infantry on a fireball spot.

We can’t let Black Hole stop our capture, that airport really is important for clearing up this map in any reasonable time due to the way any vehicles the factory builds will be limited to the very edges of the map. Luckily, we just softened all these up with a missile silo and have some of Grit’s very useful indirect units nearby.

This map is basically just like that one from AW2 where Grit gets to rain down indirect fire on an otherwise powerful tank force desperately marching through a narrow corridor.

Same goes for up north, only with slightly less urgency. Also, thanks to that one fireball Grit’s Rocket can finish off the Neotank in one shot.

Of course, even with Grit’s dominating range you can’t always hit what you want, such as that MdTank up north. Still, that means there’s plenty of other targets of opportunity available. Of course the problem is that each Rocket only gets 6 shots and each Artillery gets 9, and there’s only two cities for you to capture and a single APC on the central ring for resupplying. A very good case can be made for having Jess manning the gun batteries for the sake of her resupplying power.

It’s Sensei’s turn and look, Kanbei brought his copters nice and close for us!

For all his talk of training, Kanbei was never really that good at tactics. See: “Kanbei will deploy a mountain of troops!”

He was very much like that in his initial appearance in AW1. Kanbei’s always one for strength and morale improving drills, but he’s not actually that bright on the battlefield. In the first game he was just as clueless as Andy was about important things such as bases and airports.

Even with Kanbei’s +20% on defense, Sensei’s AAs can and will smash them to bits in one shot.

And with Sensei’s +13% attack from Bruiser 1 and Bruiser 2, and his extra bonus damage, his B-Copters are damn near guaranteed to one-shot Kanbei’s B-Copters. This is the reason to hold back: to conserve your B-Copters. Kanbei’s B-Copters are strong enough to take one of Sensei’s B-Copters down to 2 HP.

Looks much more in our favor now, doesn’t it? Sadly, Kanbei’s power meter is charged, which means next turn is going to be painful.

We’re down an AA, a B-Copter and a Missile, all taken care of in one shot thanks to Kanbei's massive damage boost.

Well there goes half of my APC-shield already. In my defense though the fireballs fall really, really fast so it’s hard to tell where they hit each turn. The entire eruption lasts maybe two seconds for an event that covers the entire map’s edge.

Oh, remember how I specifically didn’t put an APC on this spot?

Anyways, Sensei’s turn and well, we really can’t do much. With his 160% defensive bonus and then the fact he’ll be swinging for 320% afterwards with his counter bonus attacking him with direct fire units is generally considered a bad idea.

An example of how beefy Kanbei’s units are at the moment, seeing anyone’s B-Copter survive an attack from a full health Missile is unnatural.

Anyways, yet again we bunker up on Sensei’s turn. Playing defensively really is the best option this battle, if you lose your B-Copters than dealing with that Neotank and the Rocket up top in a timely manner are both a pain in the ass.

Probably could’ve finished that Copter using an AA and one of your own Copters, no? Ah well.

Back to the main front, the airfield is secured so Grit can start pumping out B-Copters for when Sensei returns. The factory is also grabbed but it’s of less importance.

Now for some Grit-tillery action.

Let’s do us some target practice!

THIS is how you fight an artillery battle. Grit’s indirect units all come with +1 range naturally. His CO powers give them an additional +1 and +2 range to reach out and touch someone. So right now his Artillery have a range of 2-6 and his Rockets have a range of 3-8. With this range, the extra attack power he has is almost excessive. Almost.

Grit’s Super-Artillery can outrange other people’s Rockets. So, yes, that’s something. And don’t forget the damage boost! There’s a damage boost too! Grit may get passed over a lot in competitive play but he’s just so fun to use in campaign.

Back on Sensei’s front, it’s time an imperial clone got a right spanking.

Now this looks much more manageable. Sensei’s on clean up and we only just finished turn five.

Gotta love killing a Md Tank through bullet erosion.

Anyways, time to cue up Ride of the Valkyries on the playlist.

Here. You’re welcome.

Of course, Sensei won’t be left out and gets his chance to cherry-tap some expensive armor to death.

Both sides are in clean up mode really so there’s not much to see. Sensei’s copters are closing in on the last of Clone Kanbei’s forces while Grit’s guns go silent one by one from running out ammo but are replaced by fresh B-Copters. So let’s skip ahead a couple of turns.

Grit’s meter is full enough for his normal power this turn, and since Sensei will win the second front the next turn and we’ll instantly be granted enough power for a Dual Strike no matter what we do. So let’s have some high-powered howitzer fun!

And that takes care of Clone Kanbei!

The secondary front is under our control! We've seized a volcano-controlling unit!

Gwar har har! Now we can really unload on these chumps! I'll learn those Black Hole types not to use a volcano against me!

Grimm what are you doing here you’re not deployed on this mission

Anyways, with that taken care of we can use a Tag Power directly after using a normal Power. Also, this line makes me imagine that Grit’s army has some sort of super special “big guns” that they’re only allowed to use when he uses a CO power. One set for normal fighting, one set for his normal power, and a third set for his super power. Also, as Grimm and the Yellow Comet soldier mentioned, the volcano control device on the second map has been captured, thereby turning off the volcano in the primary theater. Honestly, I really didn't notice it until looking through the recording.

And after that Tag Power, this is all that remains of Black Hole. 1.2 Mechs and a random Black Boat that’s nearly dead.

Think: two turns of being pounded by Grit’s indirects, followed immediately by a swarm of Sensei B-Copters. It’s a red rout.

Koal does have one factory that does spit out a Mega Tank and an AA, but Sensei’s B-Copters are starting to blot out the sun at this point. The game gave me eighteen days to smash Koal and his clone. I took eleven.

Uuuuuunnnnngh... Utterly humiliating. But better to flee and lick my wounds than become fodder for the hounds!

Oooh yeah! We totally slammed 'em! One more battle under our belts!

Ha ha! Keep 'em coming! I feel like I'm 80 again!

You rocked that, old-timer!

Listen up, everyone! We're going to Central Plains! If we can win, we should be able to boot Black Hole out of Omega Land for good!

Commander Rachel! Th-this is serious! W-we just got a r-report... It's... It's...

Easy, Colin. No need to burn yer grits. Rachel ain't going anywhere.

Calm down and speak slowly.

Y-yes. You're right... You're right... Calm thoughts... Cool thoughts... Oh, it's terrible! Omega Land is turning into a desert again!

Pattern recognition, motherfuckers. Do you have it?

Nope. All the pattern recognition was dumped over into Fire Emblem, and even then Intsys only had a limited amount to spare. Oh, by the way, did you know Thany is weak to arrows?

Dude! Weak!


Well, that was fun! Let’s see what we have to play with next...

What’s an airport?

What do you mean “What’s an airport?” Are you defective?

What’s a factory?

You’re going to keep this up all mission, aren’t you?

What’s an Armageddon Missile?

Will you be silent you insufferable clone? Look, just follow the script when the Allied Nations arrive.

What’s a script?