Part 3: Field Training Missions 1 to 3Field Training Missions 1 to 3 (or "No use crying over spilt blood")
So okay, Field Training. This is going to be a side thing to the main campaign run. I do want to show it off because although this is all very much back-to-basics for us AW veterans, it's interesting to show off just how in-depth this tutorial is. There's also a bit of plot we'd miss otherwise, and besides, Nell's theme is awesome. I'll keep things snappy though by posting the missions in groups of three.
We're in this large nation here, Orange Star. The country to the east is Blue Moon. The two countries have been bitter rivals for years.
Border skirmishes had died down recently... until that madman Olaf...
Oh, excuse me. I mean, uhm... The Blue Moon CO, Olaf, suddenly ordered an invasion of Orange Star.
Eesh. Doesn't sound like there's much love lost between Nell and Olaf here. Probably ties into the fact that he apparently used to work for Orange Star.
So, the Alara region is now held by Blue Moon forces.
Candidate Paul, you have been given a mission. You are to drive Olaf from Alara and secure it for Orange Star. I will be your support. Let's move out!
Oh wow, the nostalgia rush. The graphics, the musical sting...
... the reams and reams of tutorial text:
That's why Olaf hasn't deployed many troops to the area. You yourself have two infantry units under your command.
Defeat the enemy forces to complete this mission successfully.
The + Control Pad moves the cursor. First, let's command this infantry unit. Would you place the cursor on the infantry unit, please?
No attempts to hide the fact this is a game. Straight-up + Control Pad, A Button, R Button and so on here.
You'll see this term often, so do your best to remember it. When you select a unit, the area around it will become highlighted. This area represents the selected unit's range of movement. First, let's approach the enemy with this unit. Try moving the unit to this space. Move the cursor here and press the A Button.
Select Wait, and then press the A button to confirm the command.
This indicates that the unit can't receive any more orders this turn. Don't worry -- you'll be able to use it again on your next turn. OK, now use the same controls to move this infantry unit. Move it as close as possible to the enemy.
Now we know the ropes of moving units around, it makes sense for Nell to let us handle this one.
When you've finished giving orders to your units, you must End your turn. Press the A button on an empty space to display the Map Menu.
Do your worst, Olaf!
Hah! They won't last long. My troops there will make short work of them!
You know what's really weird about the first couple of missions of Field Training? They show Olaf going through his moves exactly the way that a human would. I'd guess to reinforce the procedure behind unit movement in the player's mind. Thankfully by the third mission they stop doing that. It'd take forever to get anything done if they kept doing it.
His infantry units are heading this way. Stay calm. If we proceed with caution, we'll be fine. Now it's time to order this infantry unit to Fire on the enemy. Please select this unit.
Move your unit here.
Please select this command.
There is only one unit you can engage now, so press the A Button to Fire.
This is the first battle screen someone would see playing the game for the first time. From the cute, crisp pixel art, through the unique designs of each army's units to the clear presentation of information, I think it's a masterpiece. Some people like playing Advance Wars games with the battle screens turned off, because it saves time. That's understandable, but I don't think I could ever do it myself. Battle screens are also useful in Fog of War levels for pinpointing the location of enemy indirects.
Do you see the numbers on the units? This indicates the units' HP (hit points). All units begin with ten HP. But, as they take damage in battle, their HP will decrease. When a unit reaches zero HP, it will vanish from the screen. Notice that your unit has more HP than the enemy unit. This is because the unit that attacks first generally has the advantage. Waiting to be attacked is not a good strategy. You should pick your battles and always Fire first. If you Fire on this unit again, you should defeat it. So, now order your remaining infantry unit to engage the enemy.
Nell talks and talks here, and given I know all this stuff already (after all, it's literally the stuff you learn the very first time you play the game) it's a bit frustrating, but back in 2002 I was genuinely fascinated. I was getting to learn all this really in-depth information while fun music played in the background. Anyway, Nell talks less as Field Training progresses and you get used to the basics.
Anyway, let's do as she said and finish this infantry off.
There is only one enemy unit left to deal with. If you stick to your battle plan, you can finish it off, too. Select End from the menu and continue on your next turn.
If I were in the field, they wouldn't be suffering such humiliation!
Don't kid yourself, Olaf.
Cursed Orange Star Army! I will defeat it! I will!
It's your turn again. You have a two-to-one advantage. This battle is yours to win! But, wait a minute.
Units lose some of their firepower when damaged. So it's better to Fire on the enemy with an undamaged unit. Go ahead and order your undamaged unit to attack.
Sound advice there from Nell. Units do damage proportional to their hit points: an 8HP unit will only do 80% of the damage of a 10HP unit, and so take a bigger counterattack in return. So it's definitely a good idea to hit with your strongest unit first, and have your weaker units do cleanup. So let's do that.
This is how the A button is used to select units and issue commands. If you make a mistake and want to change orders, use the B button. It's key that you remember this.
No real idea where that came from, but oh well.
Move in and Fire on it!
You know, that was a pretty lucky shot. But then, lucky shots are kind of Nell's forte...
Paul.Power's CO Notes: 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 (41% in the above screenshot) really means it'll knock off that many (41) 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.
All right, that's that sorted. Time to reap the spoils of victory!
Your mission is a success! Keep up the good work!
That land was mine! How did they lose it so easily? Grrr... Next time, victory will be mine!
Get the plates, Olaf, 'cause you just got s- oh wait, wrong game. Can't really tell Andy off for that any more.
... true power of the Dark Side - wait, no...
rank that your strategy has earned you! Speed is based on how quickly you won, while Power is based on how well you concentrated your attacks and overcame your enemies. Technique is based on how many of your own troops were lost. You'll earn a rank for each map you clear, so you can compare your scores to your friends'! Good luck on your next campaign!
Specifically, Speed is a measure of how many days you finish in, and varies depending on the length of the mission. To get a maximum Power score, you have to defeat 10% or more of total enemy forces on any particular day, and to get a maximum Technique score you can only lose 20% of your total forces over the entire mission. For some reason, in Field Training the highest rank you can get is an A. As you saw, in Campaign proper we can get S's.
But yeah, let's move on to the second part of this triple bill:
Their HQ is in another area, so we believe this is a covert attack.
A covert attack... that sounds like something Olaf would try.
Does it? You could have fooled me.
Your goal is to take out these units. You've been given four infantry units to carry out this operation. Let's go!
Yeah, I know they're not proper mechanised infantry. It's basically just what the games call anti-tank infantry.
This could be trouble... Mech units have more firepower than your standard infantry do. You won't be able to defeat mech units in direct combat. So you'll have to use the terrain to give you some defensive cover. I'll explain about terrain features as we go. Select this infantry unit, please.
Order this infantry unit to Fire.
On it, coach!
Excellent! OK, select this infantry unit next, please.
Up 'til now, the highlighted movement are for infantry was three spaces. Well, in the mountains, it's less. Movement cost is double here. This means your movement rate will be half of that on the plains. Do you think that means you should avoid mountains? That would be a very serious tactical error. Mountains offer advantages that compensate for movement cost. You'll understand once you Fire on the enemy. Go ahead. Engage the enemy and Fire!
It's over Anaki... no. Just... no.
The last unit took less damage than the first unit, didn't it? This is because of another terrain feature called defensive cover. You attacked the enemy from the mountains, right? Defensive cover in the mountains is this number here... a four. The defensive cover on the plains is a one. The higher the defensive cover rating is, the less damage you'll take. Is that clear? Good! I knew you were a quick study. Go ahead and Fire on the remaining infantry units. Select End when you're finished.
The specific formula for defensive cover is basically (star rating of terrain)*(HP of unit)/100. So a healthy infantry unit in the mountains will block 40% of the damage incoming, meaning attacks will only do 60% damage to it. An 8HP unit in the mountains would only block 32%, and take 68% damage.
And we've already destroyed half of Olaf's troops and now have a 2 to 1 advantage. Orange/Red Star, exploiting first turn advantage since 1988.
But this time... heh heh heh... things will be different! You'll learn what it means to face mech units!
Olaf, you are not Sami. You certainly wouldn't fit into her uniform.
I'll just keep watch from back here. No need
for me to actually be in the field. I'm still in charge, though!
Bravely directing operations from the rear. Not that I can complain, I'm sitting on the other side of a computer screen, can't get much more distant than that.
Eep. Although it's pretty clever the way it's all set up: you're encouraged to bring your infantry in to finish off Olaf's damaged infantry, which of course places them in range of his mechs. You even have one of your infantry on mountains and the other on plains to showcase the damage difference.
Nell loves that phrase. Look out for it in future installments of Field Training.
Mech units really pack a punch, don't they? But if you'll notice, one infantry unit took less damage than the other. Do you know why? It's because of superior defensive cover. Remembering this is vital. You should also keep in mind that movement cost differs between units. For example, mech and infantry units have different movement types. So, their respective movement costs in mountains are two and one. When you need intel like this, place the cursor on a space and press the R Button. This works for terrain features, as well as for all unit types. So, for intel on unit movement type, cost, etc., remember the R Button. Well, I'll leave the rest of this battle to you. They may have mech units, but you have superior numbers! Focus on what you've learned: use it well, and victory will be yours!
Finally, a bit of space to think for myself.
Three of my infantry get attacks in, but I'm worried about the fourth. He's down to 4HP, and he'd be attacking a 5HP mech. That doesn't sound like a recipe for good things.
So I'm going to do something that Nell hasn't taught me about yet: joining units. If you've got damaged units, you can join them together and combine their hitpoint totals (if the result is more than 10HP, don't worry, it's not wasted: it gets converted into funds. Not that we've really covered funds here yet, but there's plenty about them in the AW2 LP if you want a recap). Having one less unit on the field might make this take a bit longer to finish up, but at least I won't suffer the ignominy of losing a unit.
Still might come back to bite me though. But oh well, let's keep going.
Nell just talks about saving the game here. I'll spare you the details.
Dammit. Couldn't quite finish off that northern mech - looks like joining those units has come back to bite me.
Oh well, no use crying over spilt blood.
These units really were on a covert operation. Thanks to your planning, our troops took minimal damage. Keep up the good work!
Aargh! Another failure! After all of my careful planning, another botched mission! Grrr... Next time, I will prevail!
Yeah, cost me a little bit on my speed score. Still good enough for an A, though, which as I say is the best rank we can get in Field Training.
Let's move on.
If successful, we should be able to drive that pompous, old... I mean, we should be able to force the Blue Moon forces to withdraw. If you remember, we faced two mech units in the last battle, right? In response, you've been given command of two mech units, yourself.
This starts a particular theme in Field Training: most of the time, Olaf gets new toys a mission or so before we do. It's a nice touch: not only do you get to see stuff in action before you try it out yourself, but it adds to the tension and gives you a nice buzz when you actually do get to try out the cool stuff.
This explains the four enemy tank units deployed and waiting for us. Fortunately for us, those tanks can't cross the mountains. So let's take care of business here first and deal with them later. Let's secure some bases by capturing the local cities. Select this infantry unit, please. Would you move it here?
Please select this command.
Yep, in Advance Wars you capture cities by jumping on them. That city started out with 20 capture points: my 10HP infantry just took off ten of them. Or as Nell puts it...
This city is now half-captured! It takes at least two days to Capture a city. Order this unit to Capture again next turn to secure an allied base. Oh, I almost forgot... Don't move a unit that's in the process of capturing a city. If you do, you'll have to begin capturing it all over again. The same is true if the capturing unit loses all of its HP. Do your best to protect units trying to secure new bases.
Go ahead and select it, please. Only infantry and mech units can capture new bases. Remember this when deploying into unsecured areas.
Now, go ahead and move the rest of your units close to the cities. Select End when you've finished moving.
Righto then. Let's see what Olaf has to say about all this.
Enemy forces have appeared again? Those cowards! Attacking my most remote units... How typical!
Pots, kettles, #000000, etc.
But wait... I have some tank units deployed there. Ha ha ha... Crushing those infantry and mech units will be a piece of cake! Fight on, my loyal troops! This time, you shall be victorious!
I guess those tanks do look a bit scary. But there's kind of a problem with them (Have you spotted it?)
First, you should always start by completing the Capture of cities. Please select this infantry unit and press the A Button.
All righty, then.
It's the same color as your troops, right? You can now use it as a base. So, now you can see that these cities are under enemy control. By the way, gray cities are neutral. Let's get back to discussing bases. If you put a damaged unit in a base, it will recover some HP each turn. You will also receive 1000 G per day from each city you Capture. These funds are crucial for restoring HP to your units. Funds are also used for other purposes, but I'll explain those later.
Well, building things, basically.
OK, now use this mech unit to Capture a new base. Would you please select this unit?
Oh goodie, problems.
Two cities are within your movement range. One is neutral and one is hostile. Which one should you Capture first?
Erm... I'm going to go for... this one. May as well try and clear Blue Moon out of here.
Of course, capturing either one of these cities is a plus for you. But if you secure the enemy city, you also reduce your foe's funds. Oh, yes. There's one more thing you need to know. Look here to see how long it will take to secure the city. The Capture Number is now ten. When this number is reduced to zero, the city is secure! An infantry unit has ten HP, so it takes two days to Capture a city with a Capture Number of twenty. A damaged unit has less HP, so it'll take longer for it to Capture a city.
So now you know how to Capture cities, right? I'm going to let you make all of the command decisions from now on.
Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound. Yes. At least this way we can get some strategic advice from Nell rather than just straight-up instructions.
Naturally, you can win this battle by defeating all of the enemy units. However, the enemy tank units are extremely powerful. Fighting them head-on is not an advisable strategy. I suggest waiting by your bases and taking out the infantry and mech units first. Avoid the tank units as you try to Capture the enemy HQ. The weakness of tank units is that their treads won't allow them to move through mountains. Place the cursor on a unit or terrain and press the R Button for more valuable intel. One last thing... Don't let the enemy Capture your HQ. You will lose if this happens. That's all. Good luck!
For reference, Blue Moon's HQ is the St. Basil's Cathedral type thing over on the right of the map. Our HQ is the skyscraper thing on the left. For some reason, Nell doesn't point that out. Other than that, she's got pretty sound advice for us. I don't fancy taking on those tanks with only two mechs and four infantry at my disposal. And the beauty of it is, I don't have to.
Still gotta deal with Olaf's infantry and mechs, though. Capturing these cities won't hurt there.
Olaf's getting closer.
For now we can just grab these cities though.
And try and make sure that everyone's ready to give those troops a big, warm welcome to Orange Star.
Bullets are warm, right?
Huh. Come on guys, at least try to attack me.
Oh well, if they're going to hand me the initiative I may as well take it.
One infantry down, another reduced to 3HP.
And I'm going to start moving an infantry to capture Olaf's HQ.
... Olaf still isn't attacking me.
I mean, I know this is Field Training but come on man, put your back into it.
Oh well, whatever. Mechs take down mech, infantry continues its grand journey.
And it's a similar story in the north as I reduce Olaf's footsoldiers down to one measly hit point.
Bit late to try retreating now, dude.
Mountains aren't going to save you now.
My southern infantry reaches the bridge. The tanks all sit there like the proverbial. Between the mountains and the river, there's no way they can reach me, or their own HQ.
So let's just leave them sitting there.
Dum de dum.
So, Olaf, have you read any good books lately?
Squishy HQ capturing.
And there we have it!
You've reclaimed the area and forced Blue Moon to withdraw! There's one more thing I have to tell you. You receive funds by capturing cities, right? Well, once you clear a map, you lose those funds. Sorry! Good luck on the next battle!
Aw man... but... but I was saving to buy a battleship
Unbelievable! We've been forced to withdraw? What's going on? What were the tank units doing? Those useless fools! I'll take direct command next time. Grrr... I'll show you! I'll show you all!
Just a tiny bit slow again, but an A-Rank is an A-Rank. Anyway, that's enough mucking about in Field Training for now, let's return to Campaign proper. Where were we?
Looks like we're going up against... well, given the way Olaf's shouting his head off here, I think his name's probably Grit. Well, here's hoping he puts up a better fight than Olaf.