Part 42: Campaign Mission 18A: Battle Mystery! as AndyMission 18A: Battle Mystery! as Andy (or "Hunt the Lander")
Hoo boy. Look who's back.
You... you're Sonja from Yellow Comet. What are you doing here?
It wasn't Andy who attacked you. It was someone else.
Do you know something about all of this?
Yes, I do. I'll tell you who's pulling all of our strings if you'll follow me.
"It was me! I was pulling them! Hahaha!"... sadly no, even if it would make a pretty good twist.
I know what you're worried about. Go ahead and go with her.
Are you sure it's OK?
I'll take care of Green Earth for you, don't worry. That's what shipmates are for, right?
You're going to take care of Green Earth by once more fighting and losing against the people who didn't want to attack you in the first place?
You have my gratitude, Drake.
I like the idea of getting a closer look at the Orange Star Army.
C'mon, dude, you've already fought us twice. Wasn't that close enough?
I'll meet you again later. Watch yourself, Eagle!
I guess it must be kind of fun to face someone when your CO Power can completely negate theirs. But it is perhaps interesting that using Andy throughout Green Earth leads to Drake showing up in the Final Battle.
This is probably one of the weirdest names for an Advance Wars mission. What's so mysterious about it? I guess there is a certain amount of pot luck involved in terms of mission objectives, but that's true of Drake's missions generally. Oh, I don't know. Let's just get on with it. Here, have some Andy. And in the absence of any decent Drake covers, I guess his updated music for Dual Strike will do.
What is it this time, Nell?
I think Andy might still be smarting a little from the last time Nell ordered him to do something.
We've been able to outsmart CO Drake!
Well now. Also, just a thought, but Nell always seems to refer to Drake as "CO Drake". Never really seems to come up with anyone else. Oh well, probably doesn't mean anything.
One of his landers is carrying vital cargo, and it's hiding in this area. It's up to you to flush it out and destroy it!
Got it! I just need to find the lander and sink it, right?
That's it! I think it's safe to assume that Drake's hiding in the reefs somewhere.
Well, I guess that narrows down the hiding places nicely.
Go find him!
Welcome to Hunt the Lander. Rather nice to be able to turn the tables on Drake like this. We've had two missions where we've had to protect things so far (with one more waiting in the wings), but now the hunted becomes the hunter. This is a pretty relaxed mission, though - we aren't up against a time limit or anything, and even the perfect score time limit is a roomy 10 days. I guess they want to give you an extra bit of time to check all the reefs.
Of course, this ends up being a mission where looking at the unfogged map beforehand does rather make you feel like a dirty great cheater. Here's the lander, circled in green: figures that it's in the reef that's furthest away from our starting location by sea. The other thing that seeing an unfogged map tells us is that we actually have more units than Drake: we really have caught him on the hop this time. His land forces are particularly meagre, a handful of fairly light units. Our plan, therefore, is to catch him in a three-pronged attack, landing units on the western and central islands while our navy heads down to the east. It's a race to see who can take that lander out first.
Moving the bulk of my navy towards this northern channel, ready to take on Drake's botes.
For now though, this sub's going to do a little bit of scouting for us. It's spotted a recon already, look.
Landers drop off some troops, medium tank and rocket launcher in the north and two light tanks in the south. In hindsight, it might not have been such a great idea to send my heaviest hitters one way, and all my land units with good vision the other way. It doesn't hurt me in the long run, but it is pretty sloppy - and sloppiness is going to be kind of a theme of this mission, I'm afraid.
Shifting everything else on to properties because I don't know, surprise Tsunamis? Okay yes we haven't even attacked each other yet. I dunno. Actually in some ways this was a little bit dumb - we'll see why next turn.
Billions of bright blue blistering ones?
I was so worried about Eagle that I got trapped... Ahh, I'll think of something.
Sorry Drake, that kind of lucky break is the privilege of players and player characters only. Maybe next game.
Diving sub alert.
Could just move my sub up to it, of course, but if I move round the back of it then I get a bit more intel on what Drake's got out here.
Like this battleship, for example.
Hmm... I should really take that submarine on with my cruiser. But that places it in battleship range, and a world of pain. What to do, what to do...
Well, cruisers can't attack landers, so it's an acceptable trade-off.
My own battleship moves in behind it, just out of range of Drake's one. And the "spare" cruiser starts heading this way too - I'm gonna need it.
Moving down with my ground units and spotting some of Drake's stuff. Although I'm not in a great position against that tank... I guess I'm going to have to rely on my numbers.
Landers head back. I'm not going to load them just yet, though (apparently my usual strategy of loading stuff in now is a bit suboptimal? Someone pointed this out to me)
Here's that slightly dumb thing I mentioned last turn: I'd moved one of my infantry somewhere that made it trickier to get on the lander from (of course, if I'd moved the lander one square further north...) Oh well, no big deal, Drake still shouldn't Tsunami just yet.
He doesn't Tsunami, but he still gets some nasty hits in. Battleships are brutal against cruisers.
And my light tanks on the bridge run into a spot of bother, as predicted.
Finally that 3HP sub scores a hit on my battleship.
An overview of the situation. Not the greatest turn ever for Team Orange, but we've seen much worse. Hyper Repair's ready to go, but naturally I'm saving that up for you-know-what.
Time for a spot of revenge.
And speaking of spotting... yeah, I'm probably going to lose this sub to that cruiser. I'm sensing a pattern here...
... but hopefully we can break it before we lose any more units. Battleship heads into a reef, and the "spare" cruiser heads forward too. It means losing sight of the 3HP submarine, but I can't imagine that being too much of a threat. Battleship's in a reef, sub's probably dead either way and if a 3HP submarine wants to try and take on a cruiser then well, good luck I guess?
Enough of the sea for the moment. Let's take a look at the battle for the central bridge.
Rockets and medium tank make short work of that recon, although it does feel a little like overkill. Should probably have put the rockets on one lander and the middie on the other, especially given my light tanks might be struggling a little on the other flank. Ah well. Also pictured here is my "spare" sub heading round north given my main sub's pretty much a goner up there.
Remember when I said about it not being such a great idea to send all my vision units a different way to my power units? Well, I compound that error here by sending the recon along with the light tanks. There's a logic to it, of sorts: I wanted to send my APC north so it could help keep the sub fuelled, and I wanted an infantry unit on each lander so they could capture cities in case I needed some healing. 'Twas only after I'd loaded and unloaded everything that I went "hang on, I could probably have used my recon up there, bugger". Oh well, my rockets and medium tank are just going to have to put up with rubbish vision ranges. They'll all meet up eventually, after all.
Anyway, I need to deal with this tank.
That'll do for now.
Drake thinks that Tsunami's going to save his lander.
Well it's going to help him take out a sub, certainly.
On the other hand, you have to question the logic behind surfacing his sub directly in front of my cruiser. We'll take care of that shortly, but first we'd better fix up the damage from that Tsunami.
He really likes battling Drake!
Okay, good to go...
... although I then suffer another mini-derp by sending the APC down south with the medium tank and the rocket. After saying that I specifically sent it this way so I could keep the sub refuelled. Yeah. I mean, it's not a huge problem, but I do feel a bit silly.
And then I run my full-health light tank into a chokepoint. I'm... probably safe? For now, anyway. That infantry should block out the tank on Drake's turn. We'll see, I guess.
The recon and damaged tank move in around it.
It's not all derp this turn, at least. I get a couple of good shots in on Drake's navy.
Sub down, battleship at 1HP, and my own sub catches up with my cruiser.
In among the lander silliness of last turn, I forgot to mention that I managed to land my infantry too far away from the city for it to move in and capture this turn. Funny old game.
Drake's 1HP battleship struggles in vain.
That's about all there is to report though. So let's get on.
Medium tank and rocket launcher head south. Middie spots Drake's damaged light tank (vision ranges? who needs 'em?) and the rocket sets itself up nicely for the assault on the lander.
Light tank attacks infantry. Might not have been the best idea in hindsight, since this damaged infantry'll probably retreat now and let Drake's tank get a shot in. The mini-derps continue, but again I should be able to pull through. If all else fails I can join the two damaged tanks.
Speaking of damaged tanks, my other tank goes to help my recon take on Drake's city infantry. Arguably I should be leaving well enough alone lest Drake get another Tsunami. But a couple of infantry aren't going to make a big difference.
Sub finishes off that 1HP battleship.
Cruiser and battleship head on to pastures new, spotting a cruiser in the process. Better keep my sub out of the way of this one.
And this time I send my APC in the right direction .
Yeah, Drake clears his damaged infantry out of the way and gets a shot in with the tank.
Right then. I could use my medium tank to reveal the lander and get blasting away with my rockets. But I suspect that would be a really bad move - if nothing else, it would leave my rocket launcher exposed to that 8HP tank.
So first we're going to remove this infantry unit with the rockets...
... and then with the way cleared, my medium tank takes out the 8HP light tank.
There's Drake's 4HP tank to deal with, of course. But knowing the Advance Wars AI, it's just going to sit there on the city healing and not try to target my rockets.
Recon finishes the other infantry...
... and my 5HP tank joins its tanky brethren. I'll probably literally join it with my 4HP tank next turn.
In the north, I finally get the submarine refuelled.
Battleship takes a shot at Drake's cruiser...
... and my cruiser zigzags through to check if Drake has any subs down here. Well, you never know.
Well, there's yer lander.
Let's start the party. I brought the fireworks.
Finishing off Drake's ground forces...
... and joining those two tanks together, as promised.
Being cheeky and finishing off the cruiser with my sub.
The rest of the navy heads around. Still no sign of a sub...
... oh wait, there's one.
And it gets in a bit of a suicide attack on my cruiser (although not too suicidal - the power of Drake's defence boost at work. Combined with the reef, he's up to three stars. Sadly I never did get a chance to show off Drake's ships in a port - from the look of it, the only mission where Drake gets ports is on Sami's version of Captain Drake!, and I wasn't about to give him that advantage there).
Can we finish it off this turn?
Well we're off to a good start there.
Random bit of horseplay with Drake's sub.
And then the light tank finishes it off in somewhat improbable style.
I didn't think you'd find me here, and I let my guard down.
Commander Drake, would you please tell us why you've been attacking us?
Haven't you sensed him? The person behind all of this fighting?
Oh, it's our old friend "him" again. Good-oh.
Sonja and Grit have been trying to lure him out of hiding.
Second-in-commands who are working behind their bosses' backs to unravel this whole silly affair, unite!
The person behind all this?
We've been trying to keep Sonja's movements a secret. So, we staged these battles to draw his attention away from her.
... oh. Well I guess that would explain why you kept fighting us even after you'd decided we were innocent of the earlier attacks on Green Earth. A couple of things are starting to make sense, at least. As much sense as anything makes in this game.
But I think we're finished now. It seems Sonja's found something. I'll be joining her as soon as I'm able, but... I've got things to take care of in Green Earth.
"After all, we did kind of bash the place up a bit during all these skirmishes"
This is a difficult thing from me to ask...
You don't have to! We'll help in any way we can!
Would be nice to finally get to the bottom of this mess, after all.
Perfect S-Rank despite a bunch of sloppiness and mini-derps: as I say, this mission's really lenient with its scoring. I guess in terms of "professional pride" it would have been nice to do a cleaner run, but can't really complain too much.
Anyway, so here's where the trouser legs converge for a third time. Who indeed is that mysterious individual, all dressed in black with a big question mark on their head? Could it possibly be... "him"? Well, you're going to have to wait a while to find that out, because we've still got some stuff to finish up:
With Andy done and dusted, we're down to a choice between Max and Sami. Since there's only two COs to choose from, we're going to go back to First Past the Post for this one, so no need for second preferences. It should be noted that I'm going to be away visiting grandparents from Monday to a week Sunday, but I might just be able to squeeze another update in before that.