Part 6: Campaign Mission 3: Air Ace!Mission 3: Air Ace! (or "They gave their lives so that we might cheese the mission with an HQ capture")
Orange Star forces, if I'm not mistaken. And, of course, I never am.
Well, this guy seems pretty full of himself.
I had heard that the Blue Moon Army ruined them, but...
How interesting. I think I'll entertain them for a while.
Well, it's not an airport. But it's close...
Hmm, I must've missed that memo, Andy. Still, makes a change for you to be paying more attention to Nell than me. Even if it turns out she was wrong this time.
Paul! Andy! Come in! Do you copy?
Nell! There are hostile forces here!
So it seems. But those... those aren't Blue Moon troops. I'll see what I can find out. Hold your positions! We have some bases you can use here as a last resort. Paul! Watch over Andy, OK?
Well hey, this time we're fighting against some green guys instead of some blue ones. Makes a nice change. There's another new thing we're fighting, too: air units. Let's find out a bit about 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.
This mission also introduces the final land unit:
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.
As for strategy, well, that HQ there's looking very vulnerable over there, and we've got the unit to exploit that vulnerability in the T-Copter. Capturing it should be fairly straightforward: the tricky part will be getting past all those fighters. The T-Copter's going to need an escort, in short. It's a fun quirk of Advance Wars that the inability to cross enemy lines extends to air units: surface units block air units, air units block surface units. We're going to stop those fighters reaching our T-Copter by surrounding it with tanks! There's a base up there that our mystery opponent is going to capture, but we don't need to worry too much about it: hopefully we'll have this wrapped up by the time it starts doing something useful.
Let's get the ball rolling by taking out this conveniently placed B-Copter. Hmm... anti-airs normally do 120% damage to B-Copters (talk about overkill!). This one's only doing 108% damage. Looks like our foe gets a boost to his air defence.
Oh well, still a one-hit-kill. These green B-Copters look a little bit like Hinds...
... while our own Orange Star B-Copters are reminiscent of Apaches. I think I've already noted this, but the differentiation between the units of the different armies is just one of many great little things about the art of AW1 and 2.
Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I took out the two units that started out near my forces.
Let's also get these transports loaded up with mechs. The T-Copter is, as I've noted, essential here. The APC less so, but it might make a useful decoy. And I guess capturing that base up ahead won't hurt.
The rest of my anti-aircraft units take up position on the bridge...
And the "not very useful units given the composition of the enemy's forces" units fit into the gaps.
Here come the air units. One of the fighters decided to position itself annoyingly over the sea and out of missile range, but I'm okay with that because the other one is invitingly placed.
Even missile launchers aren't doing the full 120% damage whack to these B-Copters. Hmm.
Oh well, whatever.
My AAs follow that up by taking out the fighter I can reach. It takes two shots from an AA to bring down planes, compared with the one shot it takes them to bring down copters, or the one shot it takes missiles to bring down planes. Still pretty effective, though.
T-Copter moves up so it's protected from the north and east by AAs, and the medium and light tanks roll up behind it to protect it from the south and west.
Now then, dealing with that fighter. Well, it's time to do something rather cruel. I'm leaving my B-Copter out in the open as bait - the fighter will almost certainly move in to attack it... and when it does, it'll be nicely in range of my missile launcher.
Speaking of missile launchers, might as well deploy a second one (this is not something you'll see me write often).
Finishing off the unit moving this turn.
Yeah, there goes my B-Copter. Expected, but still sad. My medium tank also takes a hit from the enemy B-Copter. B-Copters are the second-most cost-effective solution to a medium tank problem after artillery, although obviously you're not always going to get the chance to deploy them.
They gave their lives so that we might cheese the mission with an HQ capture.
Only 90% damage for a missile launcher attacking a fighter? That defence boost is starting to get really annoying.
The fighter clings grimly on for dear life.
Not that it matters much with AAs around to handle cleanup.
With the fighters out of the way, there's nothing to stop my T-Copter advancing on the HQ.
There is one other thing to deal with, though: that bomber. It's been sitting back there keeping goal for these green guys, and if we just deploy our mech willy-nilly on that rather castle-ish HQ that bomber will go OM NOM NOM. Dealing with it is going to take another unit sacrifice. So I move out a tank to bring it out of hiding. This'll also help us to demonstrate our opponent's CO power.
Oi you, get back to your own game. In hindsight I could have parked that tank in the forest for some defensive cover which might just have saved it, but too late now. No use crying over spilt... yeah.
Finishing moving everyone up...
Here comes the bomber
And here comes the CO Power.
Wait, hold on! That bomber had already moved. But now it can move again?
Welcome to Lightning Strike, folks. As usual, the APC gets it in the neck. But it manages to survive somehow, despite being out in the open road.
you've encountered! Those are Green Earth troops!
The units coloured green are Green Earth troops. And it took you four days to work that out. Okay.
Rumor has it that there's an independent battalion roaming about. I believe you've found them. Watch out for their air units. They're supposed to be brutal!
You're too late, Nell.
What? Does that mean you're already under attack? Well... Um... Good luck!
Nell left us! She ran away...
Don't worry, Andy, I've got this. Anyway, time to stop pretending I don't know who this guy is:
Paul.Power's CO Notes: Eagle Eagle's Theme
Eagle is the air unit specialist CO (although one could easily argue that there's a certain other CO with 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 - more on this in the next round of Field Training). 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).
Anyway, back to the action. Now my AA's doing more damage than average because of how much Lightning Strike wrecks Eagle's defence in Advance Wars 1. It's still one of the more effective CO Powers, but you have to be very wary of your opponent coming in for the counter attack after using it.
Finishing that bomber off. It's a good job we took out Eagle's fighters before lightning struck. That could've been nasty.
And the T-Copter drops my mech off on Eagle's HQ, using itself to shield the mech from his tank.
General moving and capturing, and oh hey I forgot about my own CO power.
There isn't that much to heal up, but may as well use it.
There we go. My APC's now slightly further from the brink of death, and my medium tank's almost back to full health.
Eagle attacks my T-Copter with his tank, but it should hold out.
In case you're curious what Eagle's been doing with that base, well he's built a medium tank.
I'd be worried but, y'know, I'm capturing his HQ. I also finish off capturing that base this turn. May as well. I've been spamming a few infantry to help with my technique score (I did lose two units, after all) and a second base means double the infantry spam.
While I'm here, let's kill some infantry. It's something to do - this is a pretty short mission if you pull it off correctly.
General unit movement.
Eagle attacks my T-Copter again, and it successfully holds out.
Tech-spamming a couple of infantry...
... and finishing the job off. Let's see what Eagle has to say on the subject:
Huh? It's you! Andy!
Yeah, but... who are you?
Don't play dumb with me, boy! I'll never forget what you've done!
Wait, hang on, what?
So, continuing to feign ignorance, eh?
Andy doesn't need to feign ignorance, he's a natural.
Very well, but the next time we meet will be our last!
Hey! Wait up! He's gone. What was that all about?
You may have noticed this already, but we've got a pretty terrible track record when it comes to securing prisoners of war. But yeah, good question, Andy: what on earth was Eagle going on about then?
Well, Andy, I've already told you it's Eagle, but... eh. You'll find out eventually. Anyway, luckily our sacrificed units didn't cost us any technique score (in fact, we got top marks across the board!), although there are now a few more distraught simulated spouses out there explaining to their kids why daddy won't be coming home for Christmas. No rank up this time, though: maybe after the next mission.
Speaking of which, next mission we get a new CO: Max, a direct combat specialist who's basically the opposite of Grit (and the most powerful CO in AW1). We also get a choice:
The path branches here, and there are a few unique missions on each path before the two paths join up again at the arrival of our third CO, Sami. So the question is: do we take the Andy path, or the Max path? Once we're done with one path I'll go back and do the other, so don't worry about missing anything. And for AW veterans, don't worry about which CO we're going to end up using in The Final Battle: once we're done with these Blue Moon splitting paths, I'll let everyone decide which path they want to "keep".
But we need to work out which one we're going to do first. So I'd like votes please for the Andy path or the Max path.
Of course, before we do either of those, we've got another set of Field Training missions to do. After all, now we've found out about air units, what better thing to do than...
... find out about air units?