Part 53: Intermission 1: Whistle-Stop Tour, Spann Island Highlights ReelIntermission 1: Whistle-Stop Tour, Spann Island Highlights Reel
Hey guys. Sudoku suggested that if I just did four full Final Battles one after the other, it'd get pretty samey. And it's a fair point, because if nothing else there's plenty of other neat stuff to show off in this game. So I'm going to break things up a bit by posting intermissions between each one. Here in the first Intermission we're going to have a look around the bits of the game that aren't Field Training or Campaign, spend some of our well-gotten gains in the shop, and play a quick War Room map. Sorry if you were expecting Operation Dunderhead, it'll be along eventually.
First let's take a quick peek at Vs. Mode (again, note the shiny gold Field Training sign because this is the save where I A-Ranked every FT mission). Vs. Mode is "hot potato" multiplayer, i.e. multiplayer on one GBA system. There's also Link Mode, although given how much of a hassle Game Link cables are, you may as well play on one GBA.
First thing to do is choose what map type and you want to play on. Note all the question marks: these are maps that are yet to have been bought from the shop.
Speaking of the shop, you can also buy extra "cases" (i.e. types) of maps from there. As it stands, we start with four cases: 3-player and 4-player maps with bases, a pre-deployed folder containing maps for 2, 3 and 4 players, and the War Room folder, which contains the maps from War Room mode (note: most of the War Room maps are heavily biased to one side, since they're meant to be challenge maps against the AI).
We're going to take a quick look at a pre-deployed map called Coil Range - I want to show something off that's unique to this game, possibly even to this map.
You start the game with four COs unlocked for multiplayer - Andy, Max, Sami and Olaf. Want to get more? Well, you can buy them from the - all right, all right, I'll get to the shop as fast as I can.
You can set players to human or computer (you can even have four computer players and watch the AI duke it out derpishly), and put them into teams.
You can also pick the battle conditions - defaults are fog and random weather, but with fog on it'll be hard to show you what's so unique about it.
So here's Andy's army. It's fairly balanced, unsurprisingly - two infantry, two mechs, a tank, an arty, an APC and a recon.
But direct-combat-focused Max gets rid of his artillery and replaces it with an AA! To balance out the extra 2000G worth of unit, he also loses a mech in favour of an infantry.
Sami, in contrast, gets her tank turned into two extra mechs and an extra infantry. Again, rather neatly the funds balance out.
Olaf, being another all-rounder CO, gets the same deployment as Andy. This is a nice touch, but Advance Wars 2, the deployment on this map is standardised across COs at two mechs, a medium and light tank, an arty, a recon and an AA. I guess with the increased number of COs, it became tougher to tailor a force to each CO's strengths and weaknesses.
Anyway, let's move on.
Because it's time, as promised, to wander over to the shop.
Meet Hachi. Shrewd businessman, provider of cryptic hints and advice, former C-in-C of Orange Star and (in AW2 and DS) a CO so broken that you'll be glad that you can't steal from him Zelda-style.
Welcome to Battle Map. If you've got Advance Wars coins, this is the place to spend 'em.
These, naturally, are all the coins we've been picking up for winning Campaign missions.
Mostly I deal in maps. Once you own a map, you can fight on it, you see? Oh, and I also have map cases. You need a case to hold your Vs. Maps in. Let me explain... Well, nah, just buy something. You'll figure it out.
Nell could learn a thing or two from this guy. But yeah, the Vs. Maps are two-player "base" maps, like the 3- and 4-player ones I mentioned earlier.
Whoa, hold up there. There's something else I need to tell you. New COs will become available after meeting certain game conditions. You'll have to figure out those conditions on your own, though.
Luckily for us, we've already filled some of those conditions.
But if you stop by again, I might share a few secrets with you. Well, that's enough gabbing. Time for business. What do you need?
Like I say, we've already met some of those conditions. This is the Nap Patrol save: we unlocked Grit because we took the Max route through Blue Moon (and thus used Grit in the Final Battle), and we unlocked Drake because we took the Andy route through Green Earth (and thus had Drake in The Final Battle). Kanbei is unlocked automatically just for beating Campaign. But although we've unlocked 'em, we've still gotta buy 'em (told you Hachi was shrewd).
Well, sure I guess...
I'm not sure Grit'd appreciate being referred to as "stuff", Hachi. Oh well, we've got the coins, let's get the others while we're here.
Where's he keeping them?
Anyway, questions of slavery aside, if we scroll down to the bottom we see something else. Something cheap at only 1 "Advance Wars coin". But like many a bargain item found in a mysterious shop, it's something quite, quite terrible. Still, may as well get it while I'm here.
while starting a campaign.
With that out of the way, let's head back to Coil Range and see how Grit, Drake and Kanbei's loadouts look on this map.
Grit, unsurprisingly, loses the tank in favour of a second artillery and a third infantry. Again, the prices work out.
Kanbei gets a third infantry instead of an APC. It's always a bit tricky dealing with Kanbei prices, but... (3*Inf + 2*Mech + Tank + Recon + Arty)*1.2 = (3000 + 6000 + 7000 + 4000 + 6000)*1.2 = 26000*1.2 = 31,200G, which compares with Andy's army cost of 2*Inf + 2*Mech + Tank + Recon + Arty + APC = 2000 + 6000 + 7000 + 4000 + 6000 + 5000 = 30,000G. Hmm. Maybe Kanbei shouldn't have had that extra infantry after all... Drake, incidentally, gets the same loadout as Andy and Olaf, since his ground troops are average. I have no idea if Eagle gets any copters on this map, but it seems unlikely given the only person we've seen with an AA so far is Max.
Movin' on, the Stats screen is divided into Rank and Records. Rank holds your current game rank thing and your Campaign Score, Records keeps track of your War Room stats.
And speaking of the War Room, let's head there! The War Room is essentially the game's main single player mode outside of Campaign. Beat the maps there, get scored, look to better your scores by improving your Speed, Power and Technique.
We're going to do a quick run of the first War Room map, Spann Island.
Sami's a good choice here - if nothing else, it'll be nice for her to finally get a chance to face Olaf. That and any excuse to post her theme song. If I recall correctly, there's a way to use her to beat Spann Island in five days. I really don't want to have to deal with walkthroughs though, so it's going to take us a bit longer... quite a bit longer. But I'll speed things up for you guys.
Spann Island's a fairly iconic map in the AW community, and it's frequently remixed into custom maps. Unusually for a War Room map, the player and the AI start with the same number of properties - but then, I guess it is the first one.
I'll spare you the details of my first few turns: suffice to say, this is the start of Day 4, so that 5-day win's gone out of the window already, given I'm certainly not getting an infantry to that HQ this turn. Tsk... build orders, Paul, build orders. I'd never make a good Starcraft player.
Oh well, at least I can shoot this arty with my recon.
Other than that it's just general moving of stuff.
End of Day 5 sees me using a bit of the ol'
Olaf falls for it neatly enough, although it's a bit of a shame to lose it.
At least I get some retaliation in.
And since Olaf's got his HQ covered by an APC, I go pinch a base instead. As long as that infantry avoids getting knocked down to less than 4HP, I should be able to steal it from right under Olaf's nose.
The traditional infantry flood. Although at this point in the evolution of the AW metagame, mechs were more in vogue.
Olaf tries to attack my capturing infantry...
... but too little, too late.
Smashing up an infantry and finishing the recon and arty for a hopefully decent power score.
Let's move on to Day... err... 7?
The infantry pile moves into position for a mass capturing spree. I suspect we won't be able to hold that base for long, but we might just be able to distract Olaf into focusing on it so he doesn't notice me capping... oh... five of his cities in one turn? We'll see.
Anyway, I guess I'll get a couple of attacks in.
And pop an APC out of the stolen base to keep Olaf busy.
So busy that's he's just going to sit back and let me come to him.
Five cities, I believe I said. Yeah.
I dunno, though, I get the feeling Olaf might have something big up his sleeve...
... yeah, that'd do it. Only thing we've got fielded that could deal with that medium tank is the arty, and you've got the trick of luring that middie into arty range in the first place.
Oh well, let's grab all these cities. I've got Double Time charged, but no sense using it on a turn where most of my footsoldiers are busy capping. Besides, I've got something special planned for 'em.
Certainly winning on the unit count front here, but gotta finish this off.
I might be afraid of being premature with my CO Power, but Olaf sure as hell isn't.
And he gets that stolen base back. Oh well, I'm sure these five new cities will compensate me nicely.
Still, now looks like a good time for Double Time.
So here's a question I think I posed way back when Sami first got introduced: do the terrain cost negation effects of Double Time override Olaf's snow?
Why yes, yes they do. Let's get onto that HQ.
Getting some nice rows of units up there now, but the question is, will the 1HP APC distract Olaf from the infantry capturing his HQ?
Sadly, no. I think this has come up before, but even has its limits.
It means we can't finish the capture off this turn, but at least the infantry survived.
And I can join a fresh one on top of it.
A bunch of attacks to keep Olaf honest...
... and the cavalcade continues.
Once more, Olaf manages to knock my capturing infantry down to 2HP...
... but this time, that won't be enough to stop me.
A bit sloppy, with only an A-Rank. It figures that I went over on speed, given the potential to do this one in five days. Technique's an interesting one, because in War Room the Technique requirement tightens up - in Campaign, you get perfect technique for losing less than one in five of your total units. In War Room, it jumps up to one in ten. So yeah, War Room can be a bit of a step up in that respect.
Still, that 923 is enough to displace... uh... -- as my best score for Spann Island on this save.
And now in the War Room we have a tiny wee Sami head next to the defeated mission. Here's the full set (with apologies to Advance Wars Net for stealing their resources yet again):
Heading back to Records, we can see our result entered into the scoreboards there.
Nearly done with the tour. One place left: Design Maps, home of the famous Design Maps Glitch that ultimateluigi987 kindly outlined for us. Naturally you can use Design Maps for legitimate purposes too, with three save slots for maps. People complained about having only three save slots throughout AW1, AW2 and AWDS - Intelligent Systems eventually relented and provided room for fifty saved maps in Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict. It came at a bit of a cost though, as the amount of pre-made content got sharply reduced from AWDS. Still, swings and roundabouts, eh?
This is where you can design your own maps! If you need instructions, choose Help from the menu. Press SELECT and then choose Help. Help contains control explanations, as well as rules and instructions for playing on the maps you create. Enjoy!
Thanks Nell, but after spending so long on Spann Island I'm a bit conscious of time, so I think I'll skip Help.
Basically, your rules for a legitimate map are at least two factions present, at least one unit or unit-producing facility per side, and an HQ for every present faction.
For instance, let's just plonk down an Orange Star HQ here, shall we?
Bring up the unit construction menu...
... and spray a few infantry around (Sami would be proud).
We can open up the terrain menu as well.
Well, at least we know where all those infantry came from now.
You place Blue Moon, Green Earth and Yellow Comet units and buildings in much the same way (no Black Hole here, sadly).
Almost done here, but let's just take a quick look at the Fill option.
Here you can wipe the map and start over with just sea, plains, forests or mountains. You can also get a crazy random terrain like the one that spawned here when we arrived.
And with that, we've hit the last stop on this tour. Everyone off, see you at Operation Dunderhead .