Part 56: Intermission 2: The Field Training Grudge MatchIntermission 2: The Field Training Grudge Match (Advance Wars 2 War Room - Point Stormy as Nell)
Okay, how do I explain this? Well, you may recall that in the old Advance Wars 2 LP, I left a few loose ends untied at the end of it all. Two of them were showing off the two AW2 COs that we hadn't encountered during the course of either Campaign or Hard Campaign: Nell and Hachi (the guy who runs the shop, you met him in the Intermission 1). Sure, Nell gets plenty of NPC lines and Hachi shows up at the end of AW2 Hard Campaign, but I never got around to showing off what they do before the thread hit the archives. The plan, therefore, was to pick a War Room map and let them do their stuff - much as I did with Sturm.
With Nell, the concept was to have her fight against Olaf on the map Point Stormy - as a "grudge match" following on from the events of AW1 Field Training. I played through and screenshotted the mission (yes, this is all going to be very old footage), and got partway through drawing all the arrows and writing all the captions, when I just... ran out of steam. I'd beaten Final Front, I'd finished Hard Campaign, and I just didn't have the energy left to do any extra stuff (and you may recall that this was a thread that had several month-long hiatuses, so even when I did have the incentive of finishing HC, I didn't have the best work ethic). And so all these screenshots just languished in a folder on my laptop for a very long time. Well, two years, anyway.
Anyway, enough e/n. Now's the time to bring this update out of retirement. In some ways it's more appropriate, given AW1 is the game that actually has Field Training and this grudge match actually has a bit of relevance. Time to put this rivalry with Olaf to bed once and for all.
Here's what Battle Maps looks like in Advance Wars 2.
Fair play to Hachi: as much as he likes selling other COs into slavery, he's also pretty chill about becoming a slave himself. And of course, gotta grab Nell while I'm here.
And here's the Advance Wars 2 War Room. Rather more streamlined than its Advance Wars 1 counterpart, although it's missing a lot of the neat little touches from the AW1 War Room, like those tiny heads that tell you what CO you used when you beat your high score. Note that in AW2, Spann Island has you facing Andy rather than Olaf: they shuffled the COs around in AW2 so that the sixteen original 1 vs. 1 War Room maps (there are also four 1 vs.2 maps) each got paired with one of the sixteen "normal" (i.e. not Nell, Sturm or Hachi) COs.
While there are several War Room maps in AW1 where your opponent is Olaf, the only one in AW2 (at least among the 1 vs. 1 maps) is Point Stormy. That's okay though, it's a pretty interesting map - as you can see, we get bases, ports and airports for this one. Should be a fun combined arms battle.
Just got to select Nell, and off we go!
Excuse the arrow cursors, this is one map I had to make myself rather than cribbing it from one of the many sites I've pinched maps from for this LP (see the OP for links). Note that there are quite a few changes in graphical style for AW2 compared with AW1: the buildings and trees are far more straight-edged and right-angled than AW1's rounded, perspectivey buildings and trees. There's also less in the way of outlines on things like buildings. It takes away a bit of the cartoony feel of the first game, which is kind of a shame (still beats what Dual Strike did with the graphics, though. Slanty maps and vector-scaled sprites, ugh. Doesn't stop it being an excellent game, but it's the little things that bug you). The unit graphics are mostly the same, though (although AW2 gives Black Hole distinctive-looking units, at least - all very robotic and alien).
Anyway, let's actually talk about the mission for a bit. The awkward part of this mission is that - like many War Room missions - Olaf starts with a serious property advantage: in particular, his starting airports and ports mean that we're going to have to work hard to get air superiority here. It's therefore absolutely key that we secure the base, airport and port at the base of the peninsula before Olaf can get properly mobilised. Once that's done, we can set up a battlefront south of those bases and then push on towards Frosty's HQ. A couple of battleships from the port will help us to pacify Olaf's HQ area. I think I've noted before that the AI is pretty rubbish with ports: particularly in AW2, it has a habit of building landers in them and never moving them out, blocking up the port for future construction.
Because of his initial aerial advantage, Olaf will keep tossing B- and T-Copters at us in an attempt to capture our HQ, so we'll need to keep a reasonable defensive presence (chiefly AAs) there.
It's been rather a long time since we used Nell (what with the final Field Training update coming five months ago), so let's remind ourselves what her deal is:
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 really means it'll knock off that many 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.
Starting with a couple of infantry and an APC, so we can grab that airport and port as soon as possible.
Have I mentioned that the AI always likes to have at least five footsoldiers deployed at all times? It doesn't come up so much in AW1 Campaign because it's rare to see the AI get a lot of production facilities, but in War Room and in AW2 Campaign it crops up a lot.
Hmm. I could drop the infantry off here, it'd be in range of that base next turn. But I'd rather have this APC push on to the base/airport/port cluster, so we're not going to drop off here.
It'll still be a handy base though, so let's build a second APC to take it with.
Olaf cranks out one of each kind of transport. Of course, that lander's going to sit there eating crisps, but hey.
City capturing gets underway.
The second APC goes forward and drops off its passenger next to the near base, while the first APC continues its journey towards the property cluster.
Can't afford an AA yet, but I build an artillery on the off-chance that Olaf sends some ships up this way (spoiler: he doesn't).
Today on Olafwatch, Olaf builds a tank. At the farthest possible base from my troops, naturally.
First APC arrives at the middle base while the infantry from the second APC gets to work on the closer base.
Meanwhile the second APC shuttles back to pick up another infantry unit, and it's time to build an anti-air.
We're going to need it, too: B-Copter sighted.
Guess I'll stick this AA on my HQ for now. Can't rush me now, Olaf!
APC shenanigans as the first one starts heading back and the second one drops off its new passenger.
All right, two AAs. Got this HQ under lockdown now.
And not a moment too soon, here comes the B-Copter.
A spot of zonal marking as one AA heads out to the western cities, while the other holds its ground back at HQ.
Let's have a tank to help guard my capturing infantry in the east.
The rest of the cash can go into spamming out infantry. With the tighter technique requirements of War Room, we're gonna need to do a lot of infantry spamming.
Olaf's B-Copter goes on the charge.
Medium tanks and rockets, oh my.
But first, we've got a B-Copters to deal with.
An easy enough takedown.
Doin' the APC shuffle.
Tank starts to move down, and I add to my tank numbers with another one from the new base.
Moving infantry up.
The tank and rocket launcher are getting uncomfortably close here.
So let's try to establish some sort of perimeter with my own tanks, as well as building another AA to deal with any air units that decide to come this way instead of pestering my HQ.
Infantry move ever onward.
And we'll have a second artillery here. You know, to deal with those landers that never actually come over here. Saying that, this second arty will still come in handy.
Hmm, as soon as I grab that airport, Olaf builds a fighter. Spoilsport.
Also, with that rocket launcher on the prowl, I'd better be careful about where I attack this tank from.
That ought to do it. No massive amount of luck in this battle, although I guess dealing 5HP of damage with a 44% expected score isn't a bad result. The battle screens in AW2 are again, a bit more streamlined but a bit less fun. No crazy expressions from the COs, for example. Same unit sprites and backgrounds, though (with a couple of exceptions).
Finishing off the tank, and building a fighter to counter Olaf's one.
Capture capture capture.
Meanwhile back in the north, my infantry divisions are starting to combine a bit into one big mass.
Time for some tactical fighter placement.
First let's form a shield for my fighter against Olaf's, making sure to keep out of range of rockets.
Now there's a few spots he can't hit...
... and if I park my fighter here, I can hit him! Genius!
Infantry capture, artillery gets built.
More infs doing stuff.
With that B-Copter threatening, I'd better retreat my artilleries a bit.
Wait, why would Olaf move the fighter right up to me like that?
Oh, I see, he's trying to block my tank from attacking the rocket launcher. Clever.
Not clever enough, though. AA and fighter clear it out of the way, giving the tank its path to charge the rockets.
Boom. Here's one of the exceptions to the "battle graphics stayed the same" thing: plains tiles now get a special background depending on whether there are any interesting features on adjacent tiles. Here there's a cliff, which is curious because we aren't next to water. We are at the edge of the map though - implying there's some kind of void beyond the map borders. Hmm.
B-Copter and tank take down a random infantry unit while they're at it. You may have noticed I've been a little short on the battle screenshots here: remember this was originally written for the AW2 thread, and I used far fewer battle shots in that one (just as well, or I'd have probably have had to two-part almost every mission).
Incidentally, don't know if you'd noticed but Olaf built a battleship in a startling display of not-filling-all-his-ports-with-landers. Let's do something about that by building a submarine.
March, march, march.
Back at HQ, an AA takes out yet another B-Copter that's trying to check out my home.
While I'm here, I'd better explain the differences between Advance Wars 1 and Advance Wars 2's CO Powers. In AW2, all but one CO gets two CO Powers - their regular one, and their Super one. Olaf's regular power is the Blizzard that we all know and hate, but his super power, Winter Fury, spices things up nastily - it deals 2HP of damage to all enemy units, much like Tsunami deals 1HP in AW1 (for those of you worrying about whether this makes Drake redundant, don't: everyone's favourite ex-pirate also gets a super power that does 2HP of damage to all units, as well as halving their fuel and making it rain.
The other thing to note is the shape of the meters - they're now measured in stars rather than a continuous meter. Each star costs 9000G of damage to fill (on the first use, anyway), and it's generally speaking a lot more convenient for measuring power bar progress than the AW1 model. This makes Blizzard (and other "average" CO powers) slightly cheaper than its AW1 counterparts, at 27,000G compared with 30,000G.
Anyway, Olaf's pretty close to Winter Fury, but we should get one more turn of respite before he unleashes it.
AA and missiles. Tricky times for my B-Copter.
First let's clear this crippled rocket launcher out of the way with infantry. Nell's luck coming in handy, there.
While the tanks clear out the AA, my B-Copter goes off and attacks a tank, safely out of missile range. Good ol' rock-paper-scissors.
Another B-Copter should come in handy for dealing with that battleship.
You know, it'd be nice if we could shoot things down up here before they arrive. Let's deploy a missile truck.
Time to climb some mountains.
Nell! Paul! If it's a grudge match you want, you're getting one!
-2HP all round. Not fun to be on the receiving end of that. Oh well I guess I can still attack that battleship with my B-Cop...
All right, let's get in some sort of counter-attack. We didn't get to see Nell's CO Power in Field Training, but now here's our chance. Later on, we'll get a chance to see her Super CO Power, Lady Luck. As to what they do, no real surprises: they just boost her luck to silly levels.
52% damage expected, 8HP damage dealt. Pretty damn lucky.
50% damage expected, 8HP damage dealt. Also pretty damn lucky.
31% damage expected, 4HP damage dealt. Well, in this case we can't really tell how much potential luck damage there was there, since the unit died anyway.
And 67% damage expected, 8HP damage dealt. That went pretty well.
Everyone else moves up (I also attacked the battleship with my sub, but it wasn't very lucky so I didn't bother showing it).
We'd better join these infantry... oh peapods, this infantry unit's stuck in the mountains. Snowy mountains cost four move points for infantry to traverse, and infantry only get three. So unless you're Sami with a CO Power, infs surrounded by mountains are screwed.
I can still join all the others, though.
Get orf my land. Arty and AA kill infantry, the arties join and my missile launcher destroys a B-Copter (could've used the the AA but hey, I built this missile truck, may as well get some use out of it).
Money raised from inf and arty joining lets me deploy a bomber. Stop me now, Mr. Battleship!
Whoops, didn't notice that AA was in tank range.
I can't say I like the look of that tank and AA.
The good news is that we have the tools to deal with them.
6HP tank finishes off AA, while the other tank retreats to attack Olaf's tank with B-Copter support
... unfortunately, this leaves the B-Copter in fighter range. Duuuh.
Submarine warfare continues in the bay of Point Stormy.
Meanwhile, bomber, B-Copter and infantry polish off what's left of that sneaky APC invasion.
Infantry finishes off 1HP tank, 1HP AA retreats, APC loads and moves up.
With that fighter on the field, I think I'd better build a second one.
Did you really have to make that joke? Did you?
Need I remind you who started this?
Yes, you, by defecting to Blue Moon and invading Orange Star.
Look, guys, guys. Let's just get this battle out of the way and we can go on to the story of AW2 with minimal hard feelings, yeah?
... although losing two units isn't going to help with that. Still, better to trigger Blizzard than face the wrath of another Winter Fury.
Blizzard is still frustrating, though. Once again that battleship eludes my grasp!
Oh well, at least ranged units aren't affected by snow. Arty attacks recon...
... and doing so gets Lucky Star charged up again. Two can play at the CO Power game, Olaf.
Annoyingly, the snow stops me attacking Olaf's fighter with my new full-health one. The 8HP one does decent damage, although not much in the way of a luck boost here. The thing about luck is that it's, well, random. Nell can deal crazy damage or she can just be pretty much average - it's why she doesn't tend to count as broken when it comes to ye olde tier lists.
I get a bit more luck down here though, as 53% translates into 7HP damage. At the very least, we've taken the sting out of this rocket launcher.
Defensive wall time as I protect my bomber and B copter from Olaf's fighter.
And we can afford the one new unit that Advance Wars 2 introduces, the Neotank. A secret Black Hole project, the Neotank is stupidly good: as well has having better weapons and armour than the medium tank, it moves faster and carries more fuel and ammo. Not exactly balanced, even for the extra cost - although saying that, a middie and an arty would beat a neotank at a chokepoint.
Nell! What infernal creation is this?
Hey, you were the one who kept getting new units before us in Field Training.
Back at HQ, we take care of another B copter, and build yet more infantry with the change left over from that neotank.
Olaf gets some decent damage in here, but we can survive it.
In addition to the tank and fighter damage, our arty took a hit too.
But like I say, we can survive it: retreat the damaged units, bring in fresh ones. Fighter finishes off fighter, bomber makes a mess of some infantry and the two light tanks join up.
B copter destroys recon and my infantry get involved in some skirmishes as well.
At long last, that battleship falls.
And I celebrate by building one of my own.
Olaf manages to kill one of my infantry though, unfortunately.
Luckily we've got this bomber around to exact revenge.
After that, we've got infantry killing infantry, a tank rolling through the cleared lines to take out that 4HP mech, and my B copter taking a pot shot at Olaf's other light tank.
With nothing better to do (okay yes I guess it could have destroyed that T copter), my fighter goes and blocks up one of Olaf's airports. Other stuff moves round too. I plonked my APC in rocket range - possibly to distract the 3HP rockets from my tank? Although here's an important safety tip: the AI in AW2 is no longer crazy about APCs, so no longer really works.
Another Blizzard. But still beats him saving for Winter Fury.
Fortunately, there wasn't too much in the way of attacks to worry about.
So let's just test out the power of this Neotank.
Boom. Good shot, considering Olaf's defence bonus from Blizzard. I think in the same situation a medium tank would be knocking up around 85%? Granted, with Nell that'd probably still come out as a one-hit kill.
Anyway, B copter destroys tank, arty and bomber get rid of APC.
Some infantry work on whittling down this infantry that landed behind my lines, as a second bomber takes off from the airport.
This time I do decide to take on the T copter with my fighter... and thanks to Blizzard, can't one-shot it. Yeah, I should definitely have just killed the T copter last turn. Meanwhile, other stuff retreats and joins.
B copters live a fragile existence, and this one proves no exception. And my sub takes a hit from a medium tank - you may have noticed earlier that I surfaced it to conserve fuel. This is the price.
These recons nip off some damage as well.
I'll deal with them shortly, but first let's join up the damaged infantry and clear out Olaf's 2HP footsoldier.
Now then, time to show Olaf some of the power we've got when we aren't being hamstrung by Blizzard.
AA falls to the neotank, while the bombers bag a recon apiece.
Getting that sub refuelled, moving in the battleship to lock down Olaf's HQ area, and finally finishing off that T copter (at least I got Olaf to block his own airport for a bit, I guess?).
Quick check on the scoreboard. This is a lot more concise than the AW1 model, and - despite the lack of detail - much more useful for at-a-glance information. Here we learn that we've lost 5 units so far, so we'll need to build at least 50 throughout the battle to compensate for that in our technique score. Olaf's built 49 units so far, and he'll certainly build a few more - so we'll need at least one turn where we take out 6 or even 7 units for 100 power.
Lots and lots of stuff. Note another suicidal B copter heading towards my HQ area.
Yep, there it goes.
As always, we'll be looking to keep Olaf's AA in check so the bombers can go about their business without fear.
Battleship does the softening up...
... and one of the bombers finishes the job. The other takes out a 3HP rocket launcher, making sure to hide inside the missile launcher's range shadow.
Some manoeuvring as the fighter goes back to airport-blocking duty, the sub returns to lander-blocking duty and a second battleship makes its way out of port.
The neotank continues its wrathful work by demolishing a light tank, and artillery and infantry work together to take down yet another Olaf infantry unit.
Some decent luck from this B copter here.
That's the south mostly done, what about the north?
Well, we've got not one B copter, but two to deal with.
Easy enough, though.
Olaf's got Blizzard ready again, but with a fourth star already filled I feel he might go on to Winter Fury this time. Can't be helped though.
Let's just have another B copter or something.
An infantry unit falls to recon fire . Also yeah, Olaf doesn't use Blizzard, so we're going to have another Winter Fury coming in shortly.
Mind you, we're pretty close to a super CO power ourselves.
Take out this one mech and yep, there we go.
Well, if Winter Fury's around the corner then I think it's time for a pre-emptive strike. Lady Luck is like Lucky Star, only more so. How much more so? Well, let's find out...
Yeah, that was some pretty good luck. 6HP damage from 24% predicted. Yeah.
And this bomber continues the fun by one-shotting an AA from 66% predicted damage.
The other bomber doesn't need luck, since one-shotting a rocket launcher on a road is pretty much guaranteed anyway.
And the battleship doesn't get particularly lucky in its attack on Olaf's medium tank (if you're curious, defence cancels out some of the luck multiplier, so that HQ's four-star defence will take off 40% of any luck Nell receives).
56% damage expected from my 7HP arty attacking this recon - and another one-shot.
Again, neotank and B copter don't need much luck to clear out these mechs (although the B copter needed a little bit).
The war on Olaf's transports continues.
Time to spam out some more inf- oh. Yeah, 50 units is the hard limit on building more stuff in this game. To build more we're either going to have to join some stuff together, or let it get destroyed.
Still, if this was a human opponent they'd've probably put the white flag up by now. AIs are more stubborn, though. And because of that, it's going to take quite a few more turns to grind out this win...
... especially with Winter Fury to deal with.
Olaf medium tank moves off his HQ to destroy an AA. That's interesting from the AI, given the middie wasn't fully healed yet. Still, even if we lose a unit this does mean that the middie no longer has the HQ's defensive bonus.
... yeah, that's some nasty attrition.
But on the other hand, maybe we can work this in our favour. At least in terms of getting more units deployed for the technique score.
Joining all these 8HP infantry together, building some more...
And there we go, we're up with the rate again.
I still can't hit this missile launcher. It's been either hiding behind other units or taking advantage of snow for the past few turns.
It's not a huge problem because I can pretty much always find a unit to attack within its range shadow. But ut's still annoying.
Battleship and neotank take down the medium tank. Yeah, ultimately it was good thing to get it off the HQ.
Another suicidal B copter, another easy kill for an AA.
Battleship and bomber destroy mech, B copter engages another one.
APC retreats to a city for healing and defence. I haven't really talked about this APC for a while - which is a bit of a shame, because it's kind of the key to victory. You see, a rout is highly unlikely, what with Olaf's port complex over to the left (haven't shown it for a while, but just picture a whole bunch of units sitting around over there). So HQ capture is our best option, and for that we're going to need this APC to stay alive. In other news, more air units advance on the HQ area.
After spending a bunch of time not attacking these landers (because really, they pose bugger all threat), something snaps inside me and I decide to get an attack in.
The snow goes away and my vital APC takes a big hit. Nervous moments.
Hmm. A rocket launcher, eh?
The battleships show it who's boss. I join these two fighters up, too - and combining their fuel tanks is just as important as combining their HP here.
Artillery attacks tank, B copter knocks it down to one hit point, and infantry lands the killer blow. Meanwhile my neotank just keeps running around smushing stuff up, not even really caring about losing 2HP - this time it's a recon that goes down.
This mech up here falls to B copter and infantry fire.
And the air force swoops in, crippling a bunch of units down to a couple of hit points.
Finally my bomber gets to attack this missile launcher. Can't quite finish it off, but it's something.
Oop, hit the unit limit again.
But we're fairly solidly placed: if we lose another unit, that means we can build one, and still be just about right on this count.
Okay, let's see what Olaf has to say about all this.
Blizzard already? That was fast.
But fortunately for us...
... we've been pretty quick on the draw too.
Though saying that, this isn't very lucky.
But yeah, clearing yet more footsoldiers out.
Arty takes down APC, and the bomber finally gets its man.
Battleships and bombers keep plugging away at the HQ.
And down goes this lander, after the B copter follows up a submarine attack.
The really frustrating thing though is that I can't finish off this T copter - do that and my APC would have a clear path along the beach to the HQ (shoals aren't affected by snow). Can't get it with the fighter, either, because of the snow. That's gonna cost me a turn.
But hey, may as well stay pretty chill about this. Not far to go now, after all.
More infantry-on-infantry action as I clear out some of Olaf's dregs.
Battleships in action again to clear out a mech, and a bomber swoops in to take out the 4HP infantry on the HQ.
Down goes another infantry unit.
Dropping my HQ-capturing infantry off, and damaging another lander.
Bomber finishes off that 3HP arty.
And another bomber comes in to finish this lander. Blocking up this port with a B copter, and there we go.
Yet another suicidal B copter.
This has GOT to work eventually!
Olaf builds a mech; I take it down.
Obviously a bunch of stuff happened in this screenshot, but the salient points are the attacks and the start of the HQ capture.
One last rampage for the bombers.
I let the missile launcher get the shot in in the north for a change.
Quick check of the scoreboard, and we're looking fine. Technique is nailed, I'm less sure about Power but with any luck we'll be okay. It's taken a long time, though - Speed might not be great.
Capturing the HQ, and you can see here that Olaf still had a bunch of useless units sitting around on the western peninsula - hence the HQ capture victory.
Yeah, only an A-Rank in the end. Olaf just slowed me up enough with all his Blizzards and Winter Furies. But, Nell wins the grudge match! Let's see what she has to say about that.
"Nicely fought!" Is that all you've got to say?
Well that's about it, yeah. I mean, no hard feelings, right?
NO HARD F-
I've made my point, and now I'm cool about you working for Blue Moon. I mean this dossier says you were born there, so okay, fair enough I guess.
Well. I suppose that's all right. Or would be if we didn't just have hundreds of troops die in a senseless battle!
Come on, Olaf. We may need to work together again in the near future. I don't think we've seen the back of Sturm yet.
Hrmm. Well. All right. Just don't get any bright ideas!
Excuse the silly bit of fanficcing there. Gotta tie up AW1 and AW2 somehow. So yeah, there we go. Grudge over, I guess?
Next Time we get to grips with the Operation Orange Star run of The Final Battle, although it may take a bit because I've got some more Andy Times Two!s and Enigmas to play through before then.
The other thing is, I need a plan for Intermission 3. I'm thinking of doing another AW2 War Room map to show off Hachi, shopkeeper and broken CO extraordinaire. Any good ideas for a map? Ideally one where an AW1 CO is the opponent, to at least keep some kind of connection with this game.