Part 47: Campaign Mission 19: Andy Times Two! as AndyMission 19: Andy Times Two! as Andy (or "EEEAAAGGGLLLEEE ")
Sorry about the wait. And the worst bit is, you've been waiting for a bit of a trainwreck. You see, today we learn a horrible truth: as much fun as it is to exploit the AI's weaknesses, it's a very different story when the AI is on your side.
Clone Andy, Eagle. We've already discussed this. Well, I have.
Olaf's invasion of Orange Star is where all of this began. During the attack, Andy was seen leading sorties on several countries. You saw him yourself, didn't you? So... doesn't all this strike you as exceedingly odd?
I dunno, this game's already set a pretty high baseline for oddness.
Well, now that you mention it...
You see what I'm getting at? It would've been impossible for Orange Star to launch multiple offensives while trying to repel Olaf's attack. That's the anomaly I wanted to show you.
You've got to admit, Eagle, it's a pretty good point. We've been busy sorting out/chasing after Olaf this whole time (Which does kind of make you wonder why "he" got Olaf to attack us. Yeah it kept us busy, but it also gives Andy a pretty solid alibi).
Impossible! I'm getting angrier by the moment!
It seems that our mystery foe has the ability to create human clones. I think it's safe to say that we've encountered several copies of Andy.
Clones are one of those things that keep cropping up in Advance Wars games, as you're now seeing in the Dual Strike thread. They also crop up in Days of Ruin, albeit rather more obliquely (er, spoilers I guess?). Even Advance Wars 2 had a sort of clonish overtone, with the "evil opposite" natures of Flak, Lash, Adder and Hawke. For now though, we've just got Andies to deal with.
Blast! This is terrible!
I have some more stones to overturn, so I'll be going. What are your plans?
I won't leave this madman on the loose! I'll find him and crush him!
It's up to you then, Eagle! Hail the Prince of the Skies! Good luck!
He might be Prince of the Skies, but we've already established that Max is King
Anyway, time to take this rusty engine out of the scrap yard, get it cleaned and oiled, and introduce it to a happy second life on a preserved railway. Or, er, something. There's a coherent metaphor in there if you look hard enough, I think.
By highly popular demand, Andy's going to be taking on his clone here. Thematically appropriate for sure, but it will backfire on us a little bit, as you'll see. But it won't be the biggest thing that'll backfire on us. Oh no.
Since this mission's all about Andy, here's a very silly thing I made in that Mario Paint Composer thing ages ago. It's not great, but hey, it's something.
Well, now we've exchanged names, maybe we can get down to brass tacks.
Please accept my apologies. I'm sorry I doubted you.
What the...? It's another me!
I'm not sure if this is the worst or best possible reaction to suddenly being confronted by your clone. Kind of like most of Andy's reactions to things, in that respect.
Ah, yes. That's the clone of you our enigmatic foe somehow constructed. Starting with Green Earth, he's attacked several countries.
Are you serious?
I've caused a lot of trouble for you, but I'd like to battle by your side. The green units are mine! Let me handle all of the enemy air units. It'll give you time to push straight ahead and storm the foe's HQ.
So here we go, we're finally getting to the heart of the mystery: some mysterious fifth faction, with black-painted units, run by the mysterious "Him" using Andy clones as his lieutenants. Given that all the other factions are "Colour Astronomy Term", you won't be surprised to learn that these fellows go by the name of Black Hole. (You won't be surprised to learn that anyway, because you're probably reading the AWDS LP thread). In this battle, we fight against the black troops, but the green troops are on our side. They're being commanded by Eagle and they're AI controlled (since Eagle has yet to submit to the will of the Advisor). And when Eagle says "let me handle all of the enemy air units", he's not joking: we have no anti-air capability at all.
And the AI-controlled bit is a serious problem, because that means our ally is vulnerable to all the boneheaded AI decisions that we've exploited in the past. But more on that later. I guess for now I should just talk about Plan A and Plan B. Plan A is get a T copter to the HQ (relying on Eagle to do his job in terms of taking out air units, and using our submarine and battleship to take on Clone Andy's battleship and rocket launcher respectively). If that fails, Plan B is to do what Andy does best: hold a chokepoint, wait for our opponent to come to us, use Hyper Repair to keep our units fresh and gradually whittle him down for a rout. Of course, the problem here is that our opponent is also Andy. And can also refresh his damaged units with a Hyper Repair. Which will lengthen the battle to a worrying degree.
But enough chatter, let's get rolling. In terms of preparing for Plan B, we're going to want to capture these cities to give us some extra healing power.
And in terms of preparing for Plan A, let's get this T copter loaded up. I also drag my sub back a bit so it's out of cruiser range.
The medium tank and rocket launcher are our heavy hitters on the ground this mission, and they'll form the cornerstones of Plan B. Anyway, that's me done. Let's see what Eagle can do with all his planes.
Well, let's hope so for our sake.
Eagle's first action is to take out one of Clone Andy's bombers.
And then he starts softening up some fighters (you may have noticed - while in the later games Black Hole have very futuristic robot/alien type units, in Advance Wars 1 their units have the same designs as Orange Star's units. I guess it does help reinforce the notion that they've been pretending to be an Andy-led battalion from Orange Star. Or at least it would if their units weren't painted black (you know, you'd think Eagle would have noticed that...).
Eagle now sends in more fighters to finish off those two.
With all that out of the way, his bombers move in, taking out an artillery and the cruiser...
... and knocking a battleship down to 1HP.
It's all commendable stuff, but there's a bit of a problem: by sending his bombers straight into the fray, Eagle is now very, very vulnerable to a counter-attack. Speaking of which:
Weird random aside: back when I first played the game, I thought that the world "maelstrom" had something to do with meteorites or asteroids or something (blame 3D Pinball Space Cadet). Which given I'd read spoilers about the game by this point, had me worried that Clone Andy might have Sturm's CO power for some reason. Not to worry though, this is just regular Hyper Repair (incidentally, the word "maelstrom" originates from a whirlpool of the coast of Norway).
No expense spared in bringing you this vaguely-inspired-by-Haifisch's-Excellent-Ghost-Trick-LP disambiguation graphic. Even though this is the only actual bit of talking that Clone Andy does. Whatever.]
Power mode...access Hyper Repair...initiate...
Question marks might just come in handy for working out which character's going into Hyper Repair, though. Get used to seeing those two words a lot this mission.
So yeah, all three of Eagle's bombers go down to assaults from Clone Andy's remaining fighters.
Which is a real shame, we could have used that firepower. A human player might have gone "maybe I should try to keep my bombers safe until my fighters have established air superiority". But Eagle just sent his bombers straight into the fray and got them all mashed up. At least it won't hurt our technique (only Andy's units count towards that here), but it will make life harder. And that's only the start of the AI's follies here.
Oh well. Let's just move on and start capturing these cities.
Shifting the APC and rocket launcher up as well.
Meanwhile my T copter starts approaching Clone Andy's island. He's got a lot of units we need to dodge here (and this is the reason why Sami's probably the best CO here. Her fast-moving transports and Double-Time fuelled footsoldiers are the key to a swift victory here. As for Andy? Well, we'll see.
Shuffling the navy around a bit, and diving the sub. Gotta try and entice Clone Andy's sub over here.
And the medium tank shifts upfield a little to take advantage of this city's extra defensive cover. Back to you, Eagle.
Eagle brings down another bomber...
And two of his fighters work together to take out another Black Hole fighter.
And looks like it's already time for Lightning Strike! Only... why on Earth did Eagle move one of his fighters over there? After being carelessly gung-ho with his bombers, he's suddenly going to get cagey about his fighters? On a Lightning Strike turn, too?
Oh well. More shots of fighters attacking fighters. Eagle's 6HP one takes a hammering though, down to 2HP now.
His other fighters follow up.
... and the movements of this one fighter get weirder. Now it's hiding from Clone Andy behind my lines. Meanwhile Clone Andy still has a full-health fighter on the prowl...
... which on the clone's turn, takes advantage of Lightning Strike's lowered defences to take out the 7HP fighter.
Together with a continuing battle of attrition in the north-east.
Still, always good to know where the AI's hiding its subs.
Naturally, now Eagle's fighter's all the way over here, it can't join the fray.
Oh well, can't keep whining about it forever. I spot Clone Andy's sub with my lander, and start attacking it with my own sub.
A decent enough attack.
Since this battleship's only on 3HP, I decide that I can risk taking first strike from it.
And I move my T copter up into what I hope will be a safe zone. Although again, that depends on what Eagle does with his planes. Somehow I don't think this'll end well...
On a brighter note, my ground forces take out a tank.
And I decide that I'm probably better off having that 3HP battleship attack my APC rather than my battleship. After all, Clone Andy might get a Hyper Repair...
Eagle's damaged fighter skirmish continues.
He has more success with this fighter though.
But none at all with this one, which goes WHOOOSH off to the north-west corner of the map. EEEAAAGGGLLLEEE .
And as I suspected he might, Clone Andy gets a Hyper Repair.
This more awkward, though. Because Eagle stopped blocking in that fighter, it gets a shot in on my T copter. Plan A is looking increasingly fragile.
Boosted by Hyper Repair from 2HP to 4HP, Clone Andy's fighter manages to finish off Eagle's 3HP fighter in the north-east.
And finally, his sub attacks my lander. Again, Hyper Repair's made the punch stronger than I might have hoped, but the lander doesn't really have anything to do (maybe I should have used it to help storm Clone Andy's HQ?)
Bunch of units to watch out for here. The 6HP and 4HP fighters may be damaged, but they're more than enough to take care of my 3HP T copter. And if I dropped its passenger off now, it would have to contend with the battleship and rocket launcher. Hmm...
I'll worry about this a bit later. First let's deal with the easy stuff. Battleship down...
... and I retreat my medium tank and rocket launcher away from Clone Andy's advancing pile of medium tanks.
Sub attacks sub - not doing as much damage as I'd like thanks to Hyper Repair's defence boost, but it's better than a poke in the eye.
APC retreats a bit, and I'm annoyed here because I missed an opportunity - if I'd moved the mech south-east instead of south, it could have made it to the mountain next turn, and been in a good position to try attacking a medium tank. Oh well.
Regarding the T copter and mech, I move my T copter back here and drop the mech off. The mech's safe from the rockets and battleship if it sits here, but it's also rather isolated - and the T copter's still in range of that 6HP fighter. I've just got to hope that Eagle targets it instead of the 4HP fighter - although knowing the way Eagle's behaved this mission, he'll probably go for the 4HP one .
Yep. . And there's still that one fighter tooling around doing nothing.
So down goes the T copter, and with it Plan A. At least dropping the mech off first saved me a bit in terms of technique.
My medium tank comes in for a bashing (and here you can definitely see how Black Hole use the same designs as Orange Star in this game).
And my lander barely survives.
Plan A is in tatters.
But Plan B still lives. Let's show this clone how it's done.
We're going to need all the help we can get against this onslaught of middies.
But first let's get this sub out of the way.
Now then. Time to start taking care of some tanks.
Figured it'd be a better use of resources if I spread my fire rather than focused it. In hindsight I'm not sure if this was the best idea, but it doesn't cost me too badly.
Battleship wanders up to the edge of Clone Andy's range, in a place where it can also help to rain down the fire on those middies.
I manage to chip off a couple more hit points with my infantry, and the APC gets away from the conflict so it can refuel my sub next turn.
Couple more infantry move up, and I'm done. Unfortunately, in an ideal world I'm supposed to have won by now - the perfect Speed score time for this mission is five days. Yeah. Strap in, folks.
Eagle does nothing of note.
Although luckily for him, Clone Andy decides that suicide tactics are in order.
My mech comes in for a hammering, but could be worse: could be my middie taking the hit.
And if the middie had taken the hit, we would be in a state.
As it is, I can cycle out the mech and plug the gap with an infantry unit.
And start wailing on the clone's remaining middies with my indirects.
They're both down to 1HP now.
Hmm... I wonder...
Yes! Gotta love luck.
To finish off, I refuel the sub and send my lander up towards the battleship. Next turn it'll be acting as bait.
Eagle finishes a job off that he could have finished ages ago if he hadn't been really stupid about it.
And the clone gets in a third Hyper Repair. Pretty frustrating to be on the receiving end of them all.
His infantry attacks my infantry.
Eagle's fighters have got nothing to do now, so they'll sit there for the rest of the mission.
Battleship wanders into range of the clone's battleship, with the lander coming along as a sacrificial lamb. Speaking of landers, my sub heads off to deal with Black Hole's lander. Thing about routing is you've got to destroy everything, no matter how completely pointless it may be.
Anyway, there's some infantry blocking our path upfield. Let's clear them out. Rockets and 5HP infantry get rid of the one on the plains...
... medium tank and full health infantry can't quite deal with the one on the city, though. Hmm.
Arrow-o-Vision kicks in as the 2HP mech goes to get some health and the APC goes and stands on a city as well.
Thanks to that APC's noble sacrifice, we're in a position to attack the clone's battleship with a full-health battleship of our own.
We do just that, and get a hit in on the lander with our sub as well.
Not long now until we've cleaned up the oceans, hopefully.
Back on land, we finish off an infantry unit as our medium tank heads north to take on its dark counterpart.
Other random movey stuff.
Clone Andy's battleship gets in some retaliation, though.
Well, nothing to do but keep on truckin'.
Battleship down to 1HP.
Medium tank down to 2HP, although it'll get back to 4HP next turn thanks to the city (and 6HP if Hyper Repair triggers. Scary thought...)
Infantry and rockets move up a bit as well.
We can finish off this lander...
And with the battleship down to 1HP, I feel comfortable that I can move the "Plan A" mech off its city at last.
Curiously, I don't think Clone Andy attacked last turn (or if he did, it wasn't enough to knock a hit point off anything).
Medium tank down to 1HP... but ideally I want to finish it off, so it doesn't repair up to 3HP (or potentially 5HP). Can an infantry unit strike lucky again?
Well what do you know.
Speaking of finishing units off, there goes the battleship.
And my "Plan A" mech wanders into rocket range, standing on a mountain to try and minimise the damage.
Still takes a fair chunk of it, though. Owch.
Well, sort of. It's sitting on a city, and...
... here comes that Hyper Repair I've been worrying about.
And yeah, the rocket launcher's back to full health.
VENGEANCE II: THE REVENGE!
And that attack charges up our Hyper Repair. Should help a fair bit.
Unfortunately, we can't quite finish off that rocket launcher. But at least it should be over next turn. Plenty of units to do the job now.
Moving stuff up.
My medium tank takes a hit, but nothing serious.
All right, that's enough of this nonsense.
Here they come again!
Wait, more clones?
Cripes! There's no end in sight!
"Cripes!"? Max says some weird things sometimes. Anyway, here comes your daily dose of awkwardly romantic dialogue in the middle of deadly peril, or whatever:
You don't have time to waste around here. Leave this to me and go!
I'm staying, too!
No, Sami! You have to go as well!
No! Even you can't stand against this horde!
Well, I guess he is kind of down to two fighters that are starting to get a bit low on fuel... and given the way he managed his units this battle...
You have no idea how powerful a foe awaits your friends. They can't face him alone! Go, Sami! Go!
... but he's got a point. Best way to finish this off is to chop the head off the snake. Time to go face down "him".
I understand. Watch your back!
Ha! They'll soon find Eagle's no easy prey!
You'd think Andy would have had something to say in that dialogue, but sadly not. Anyway, we didn't lose to Andy's "fake me", but it was a rough ride, with a speed-induced B-Rank. I'll definitely want to have another go at this one with Sami, and post a highlights reel of the results.
But while I'm working on that, it's voting time again. Let's take a look at the next mission, Enigma!:
Appropriately for the endgame, this one's a real grab bag. We've got bases, ports, even an airport on a small island to the north - very open-ended, and the kind of battle you can really get your teeth into. All three COs should have an interesting time of it on this one: Sami's transports can get to the properties faster, Andy will enjoy the chokepoints and Max is Max.
But who are we facing? Well, I might as well tell you now - his name is Sturm, and he's the "him" who's been at the heart of this mess the whole damn time. So what does he do? Well, Sturm (in AW1 Campaign at least) has a bonus to his attacks, but a penalty to defence. He's also got the curious ability that he ignores terrain penalties: anything that his units can go over, they go over at a cost of just one movement. So all those forests, mountains and reefs on this map? Not a problem to Sturm. It's a pretty nasty ability.
There's two things about Sturm that I'm not going to tell you about : first of all, his CO Power, which he doesn't use next mission (and probably just as well!). Secondly, what he looks like. I'm going to save that for next time. You'll see why.
So yeah, Andy, Max or Sami, first preference and second preference, you know the drill.