Part 1: Units, COs and FanartUnits
Infantry or "Inf" (1000G). The bread and butter of most armies. Infantry move slowly and are weak in both attack and defence, but they can capture properties, board transports and they're very cheap to produce. A standard high-level defensive tactic is to mass produce infantry, on the basis that your opponent can't kill all of them, and use them to shield your more expensive units.
Mechanised Infantry or "Mech" (3000G). Actually they're more like anti-tank infantry than mechanised infantry (since that implies some form of transportation), but whatever. Mechs are even slower than normal Infantry, but are a little more solid defensively and much more powerful attackers - their bazookas allow them to hold their own against small tanks and the like. Like infantry, they can capture properties and board transports.
Light Tank or just "Tank" (7000G). Pretty fast, decent armour, packs a good punch against infantry and most light ground units but not up to much against air units or its big brother the medium tank. Reasonably cheap and pretty versatile, a mainstay of many an army.
Medium Tank or "Md Tank" or "Middie" (16000G). "Medium" doesn't really do these guys justice. The most powerful land unit Advance Wars 1 has to offer. Slower than a small tank and a lot more expensive, but a lot more powerful both in attack and defence, Middies annihilate most ground units. Their main weaknesses are air units and long-range attacks.
Anti-Air Tank, or AA (8000G). As the name suggests, the AA's primary role is to marmalise aircraft. But it's also a very powerful unit against footsoldiers. It's a lot less effective against tanks, though: Tank > AA > B-Copter > Tank is one of the simplest examples of a rock-paper-scissors triangle in AW. Pretty fast, can move the same distance per turn as a small tank.
Artillery, or Artil, or Arty (6000G). Artillery are the most basic long range unit, able to hit things two or three squares away from them. They pack a significant punch for their cost, and because they strike from a distance they're immune to counter-attacks. But they're slow, they can't move and fire on the same day, and their defence is paper thin. As a result, Artillery at their best at chokepoints, behind some kind of meatshield - either a heavily-armoured tank, or a large number of infantry. Another mainstay unit in high-level play, as they offer one of the best firepower-to-cost ratios in the game.
Rocket Launcher, or Rockets (15000G). Rockets are Artillery+: they do more damage and have a greater range of fire (three, four or five squares away). But their range shadow is larger, and they are even more slow and poorly armoured than artillery. Again, best used at chokepoints behind some kind of meatshield.
Recon (4000G). Recons are very fast units, but don't have much in the way of armour. They can take on footsoldiers and long-range units well enough, though, and make really good harriers in the early game. But they can't stand up to tanks or even AAs. Recons also have fantastic vision ranges in Fog of War, and are a must for good intel gathering in such conditions.
Armoured Personnel Carrier, or APC (5000G). APCs can transport footsoldiers around the map (just as well, as footsoldiers are slow buggers), and double up as supply trucks to keep your forces fuelled and armed. They carry no weapons (and infantry inside APCs cannot fire out) and aren't that well armoured despite their name, so keep 'em escorted. They do have a special third use in the first Advance Wars game though, which we'll learn about shortly.
Missile Launcher (12000G). Essentially rockets with a focus on surface-to-air rather than surface-to-surface. They're powerful: under normal conditions, a full health missile launcher can one-hit kill any air unit. So on paper, that sounds pretty good. Unfortunately, they have a lot of weaknesses: they're slow, heavily specialised, and it's very easy for B copters and bombers to just fly into their range shadow and take them out. So they're somewhat situational. They have a few uses though, like rendering enemy airports useless by setting up within range of them.
Battle Helicopter or B copter (9000G). The light tanks of the skies, and even more versatile: they can get over awkward terrain easily, making them invaluable flankers on maps with chokepoints. They're decent attackers against most surface units, and take little damage back as tanks can't use their main cannons on them. They have a few massive weaknesses, though: they get taken apart easily by anti-airs and fighters.
Transport Helicopter or T copter (5000G). If B copters are flying tanks, then T copters are flying APCs, able to transport one footsoldier at a time. Because they can fly, they can reach places that APCs can't - to make up for this, they can't supply units the way that APCs can.
Bomber (22000G). The game's most powerful attacking unit, capable of one-shotting many surface units and not being far off at killing medium tanks and battleships, either. Even anti-airs can only beat them if they get the first shot in. Bombers are helpless against fighters, though.
Fighter (20000G). The kings of the skies, fighters are how you gain and hold air superiority in Advance Wars. They're devastating attackers against bombers, B copters and T copters - and to add insult to injury, those three units can't even attack fighters. They also have the largest movement range of any unit in the game. They can't do anything against surface units, though.
Battleship (28000G). The most powerful long-range unit in the game, able to hit anything between 2 and 6 squares away from them. They provide great fire support, and - amazingly for a long-range unit - have good armour. But they're the most expensive unit in the game (you know you've made it if you've got the financial power to spam battleships), and are defenseless against air units and submarines, requiring cruisers to escort them. As naval units, they can only travel on sea or reef tiles.
Lander (12000G). Naval transports that can carry two of any ground unit: this includes vehicles as well as footsoldiers. This makes them a key part of any island-hopping assault. They can't resupply. They are the only ship in AW capable of travelling on shoals (the yellow-and-light blue beach areas around some coasts). Landers can pick up and drop off their passengers either in ports or on shoals. Landers carry no weapons, and are vulnerable to indirect fire (including battleships), air units and submarines.
Submarines or Subs (20000G). Subs have the ability to dive to hide themselves from view. While dived, submarines can only be seen by units in neighbouring squares, and can only be attacked by cruisers and other subs. However, when dived, subs use fuel a lot more quickly (and they don't carry much of it to begin with), so you'll need APCs on standby to stop them sinking. Subs prey on battleships and landers, but fall quickly to cruisers. They have no anti-air or ship-to-shore capabilities.
Cruiser (18000G). These are the anti-air and anti-sub naval unit, designed to protect battleships and landers from their main predators. Trouble is, while they're pretty good at dealing with subs, air units are more of an issue. Bombers do serious damage to them, and even B-Copters can knock them down below half health. A little-remembered fact about Cruisers is that they can also carry two helicopters, protecting them from Fighters and stuff and also refuelling them. They have no ship-to-shore capabilities.
Andy "Andy's Anthem" A pretty awesome guitar cover
Andy's stats are average, vanilla: he's essentially the benchmark all other COs are compared against. His CO Power, Hyper Repair, heals and repairs all your units by two hit points (assuming they're damaged, anyway) and makes them all a little more powerful.
Background/Personality: Cut Andy open and you'd see the word "PROTAGONIST" running through him like a stick of rock. He's also pretty derpy, and is the source of many of this game's more bizarre quotes. Despite this derpiness, he's an excellent mechanic and a solid all-around CO with no particular weaknesses (or strengths, but why focus on the negative?).
Nell Nell's Theme
Nell's special ability is that she is luckier than most COs: to explain what I mean by that, I'm going to look at health meters in more detail. The 10HP scale is actually a simplification of a 100HP scale (which is represented by the bar you see during battle screens). So the expected damage percentage really means it'll knock off that many hit points, plus a luck bonus between 0 at 10 extra hit points. For Nell, this luck bonus ranges from 0 to 15 instead. Pretty handy quality for a tutorial CO to have, makes everything run just that little bit smoother. Her CO Power Lucky Star, which we don't get to see during the course of Field Training, can increase that luck bonus to ludicrous levels.
Background/Personality: In this game, Nell isn't yet the commander in chief of Orange Star - she still has superiors, although who these superiors are we never actually learn. She definitely seems to be in charge of the other Orange Star COs, at least. Nell is very fond of teaching, and will rarely pass up an opportunity to tell you things about the game. Which might annoy you after a while.
Max Max's Theme
So: Max. Max gets a +50% attack boost to all of his non-infantry direct combat units. Tanks, planes, B copters, recons, AAs, submarines, cruisers... And that's +50%, which means they do half as much damage again. His CO Power, Max Force, boosts that damage again and gives his direct combat units +1 movement range. Max does have a big weakness, though: his long-range units are... well, not very long range. They take a -1 range penalty and a -10% firepower penalty. That can get pretty annoying, but the +50% firepower boost on over half the game's units compensates way more than enough.
Background/Personality: Graduating from Orange Star's CO academy around the same time as Nell and Grit, Max is Orange Star's powerhouse, a brawler who likes to get up close and personal. He's something of a showoff, but he's also a very loyal friend - although this in turn makes him rather overprotective of his fellow Orange Star COs. He's also got some insecurities about his failings with long range units. Still a good guy to have around, though.
Sami Sami's Theme Awesome guitar cover
Although Max is the best CO in AW1, I'd say that Sami's my favourite. Certainly a lot of my fanboyism for Sensei in AW2 stems from learning to love infantry and mechs with Sami in AW1. They get superior firepower and, most notably, capture at 1.5 times the standard rate (rounded down). Now okay, that still means she takes two turns to capture a property at full health. But it means that a 7HP Sami footsoldier can still capture a property in two turns. It also means that if a full health Sami footsoldier starts capturing a property, you've got to knock it down to 3HP or less to stop it finishing the job the next day. Sami's transports also have an extra movement point, and her CO Power, Double Time, increases the firepower and movement of her footsoldiers. The drawback? Her non-footsoldier direct units take an attack penalty. Not as bad as Grit, but it can still be frustrating. Hopefully you won't have to worry too much about firepower with the queen of HQ Capture in charge, though.
Background/Personality: Orange Star's special forces commander, and one of the game's more serious-minded COs. While it's not official, she's effectively Nell's second-in-command by virtue of being more responsible than Max or Andy. Sami isn't particularly strong academically, but her diligence tends to make up for it. She does have some tender spots though... particularly where Eagle and a certain other CO we haven't met yet are concerned. Have I mentioned that I really like her theme tune yet? I really like her theme tune.
Olaf Olaf's Theme
Like Andy, Olaf has vanilla stats, with one difference: his units are experts at moving through snow, and suffer no movement penalties from it. On the other hand, he suffers terribly in rain: most COs are only minorly inconvenienced by rain, but for Olaf it's as bad as snow is for most other COs. His CO Power, Blizzard... well, makes it snow. And again, makes his units a little more powerful.
Background/Personality: The commander in chief of Blue Moon. Orange Star and Blue Moon have never been on the best of terms, but one day Olaf just decided to up and invade Orange Star. Why? Damn good question. Maybe we'll find out at some point. In the meantime, it's enough to know that Olaf's pompous and boastful and something of a jerk, but not to be underestimated.
Grit Grit's Theme
Grit's the long range expert in Advance Wars: his indirects can hit one square further away. Artillery that normally hit 2-3 squares away from them get upgraded to 2-4 squares, Rockets that normally hit 3-5 squares away from them get upgraded to 3-6 squares, and so on. Interestingly, in the first Advance Wars he doesn't get an attack bonus on his indirects. What he does get though is a whopping 20% attack penalty on his direct combat units. Since the majority of the game's units are direct combat, this is a problem. That range boost is a big enough bonus that he can hold his own, though. His CO Power, Snipe Attack, makes it even crazier, adding another two squares of range and a massive attack bonus to his indirects.
Background/Personality: A brilliant marksman, at one point Grit used to work for Orange Star, but he defected to Blue Moon for some unknown reason. He's laid-back to a fault, and can be a bit of a jerk sometimes, but he's dependable enough and a good person underneath it all. Isn't very fond of Olaf's invasion of Orange Star.
Eagle Eagle's Theme
Eagle is the air unit specialist CO (although one could easily argue that Max has considerably better air units): his air units have increased attack and defence (I think 115% and 110% respectively?) and also consume less fuel per turn (with planes that use up 3 fuel units per turn instead of 5, and copters that use no fuel per turn instead of 2). His ships, however, are weaker, with only 90% attack (not too bad really, considering what Grit got hit with). Eagle's CO Power is Lightning Strike, which lets his non-footsoldier units have a second turn (although with greatly reduced attack and defence values, making him vulnerable to counterattacks).
Background/Personality: The Green Earth COs in general play off European history and stereotypes, and Eagle is Germany - with a powerful airforce reminiscent of the Luftwaffe and Lightning Strike being a dead ringer for the tactic of Blitzkrieg. Green Earth as a whole has a somewhat Germanic feel (well, Hind helicopters aside), but the COs are a bit more varied. Anyway, Eagle has a big ego and a burning hatred of Andy. Why? Well, we don't know yet. Can't spoil everything for you. He can also be somewhat uptight. But again, he's not a bad person at heart (I'll think I'll be saying that a lot in these dossiers).
Drake Drake's Theme
Drake is the naval specialist, and not just because we can see his navel . His ships and subs gain two extra defence stars and +1 movement point, but interestingly they don't get an attack bonus. A bit like Grit in that regard, then. Much like Eagle gets a naval attack penalty, Drake gets an air attack penalty, but also like Eagle his ground troops are average. Drake's CO Power, Tsunami, knocks 1HP off all enemy troops in a kind of anti-Hyper Repair (it also works even if there's no water on the map. No, don't question it, just shrug and say "Advance Wars"). It can't kill 1HP units, though, just like Andy can't heal beyond 10HP. Drake's also immune to rain the same way Olaf is to snow - and it's rumoured that random weather tends to follow him around...
Background/Personality: Character-wise, my favourite CO, this big-hearted former pirate likes to take it easy and - though he doesn't look it - is probably one of the smarter COs. If Eagle represents Germany, Drake represents Britain with his superior navy - and he seems to be specifically based around the privateer Sir Francis Drake, a major hero in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. In that battle, the English ships were more manoeuvrable and better defended than the Spanish ones - and just when Spain thought they could get away with a retreat, a storm whipped up and wrecked even more of their ships, which Tsunami parallels. Then there's the rain, I guess. We do get a fair bit of it over here . But yeah, I like Drake. Just a shame about that face...
Kanbei Kanbei's Theme
All of Kanbei's units get a +20% boost to attack and defence. This can make him a tricky CO to deal with, especially in terrtain that boosts his defence even further. His weakness is that his units also cost 20% more: figures that the first time you fight him is a predeployed map. Kanbei's CO Power, Morale Boost, ramps his attack and defence up to crazy levels.
Background/Personality: The Emperor of Yellow Comet is proud, honourable, popular and so dumb he makes Andy look like Richard Feynman. He generally has to rely on his daughter Sonja to be the brains of the Yellow Comet outfit - which can cause problems, since he's also rather overprotective of her. Kanbei's armies are some of the best trained in Wars World, but the extra training and equipment comes at a high price. He's also got one of the game's uglier faces, although at least he doesn't stare into your soul the way Grit does.
Sonja Sonja's Theme
Sonja's main gimmick is that she can see further in Fog of War: she gets +1 vision range as stardard. Her CO Power, Enhanced Vision, does exactly what it says on the tin - an extra +1 vision range, and - crucially - the ability to see into forests and reefs even when not standing next to them. She also hides the HP counts of her units from her opponents, replacing them with a "?". Sonja's weakness is that she's unlucky. Whereas regular COs get 0 to +10 luck points on top of expected damage, and Nell gets 0 to +15, I think Sonja's range is -5 to +5 (it was in AW2, at least). All of this does make Sonja a rather situational CO, but put her in her element and she's a handful.
Background/Personality: Kanbei's daughter, but it's safe to say that she didn't get her brains from him. Probably the smartest character in the game, and a firm believer in the importance of good intel gathering, Sonja is key to working out why the hell we're all suddenly at war with each other and unravelling the mystery of "him". She's got some issues in other areas though: she can be pretty snooty, and I can't help but feel sorry for Kanbei a bit at times when she criticises him (granted it's usually deserved). Arguably her over-analytical nature is the cause of her bad luck, with an inability to go with the flow at times. She has something of a rivalry with Sami that'll be expanded on in the next couple of missions.
Aaaand there's one other guy who I'm not going to spoil here.
The Legend of Nell (SupSuper)
Sonja invites Max to deal with it (ScotchDK)
PROBLEM, MAX? (KDavisJr)
The Drake Array (First Row: Looper, Waffleman_, KataraniSword, Endorph, KataraniSword. Second Row: Friend Commuter, Elth, Heatwizard, Tengames, a boxing teahorse. Third Row: Friend Communter, Mustard Snobbery, Randalor, Bruceski)
Nightmare Avatar Drake (Animation by SupSuper, individual frames by Looper, Heatwizard, Tengames, a boxing teahorse, Friend Commuter, Mustard Snobbery, Randalor, Bruceski.
The Future of LPs (SupSuper)
Minecraft Wars (Er... me. Grit arty, Sensei B copter, Sami mech and Drake battleship).
Advance Robot Engaged! Transform! (Pierzak)