Part 63: Campaign Mission 22: Rivals!Mission 22: Rivals! (or "The Advisor")
Welcome to the final bonus mission, unlocked by playing all four Green Earth missions as Sami, and something you have to live with if you want to get Eagle in the Final Battle. Rivals is... well, it's kind of tricky, but I'd say its bark is worse than its bite. It's certainly a long mission: the limit for a perfect speed score is 21 days, and I'll be pushing that right to the wire. Still, at least I'm not having to screenshot for four different armies this time. Let's get started.
Well that was short and sweet.
Anyway yeah, let's get this morally questionable show on the road.
If you took the longest possible path through the game, unlocking all the bonus missions in one run, you'd end up with 22 missions. We haven't had any of our runs be that long (18, 21, 17 and 18 missions respectively), but it can happen, so I'm sticking with 22 for this one.
That's right. Do you know what to do?
Sure! I just use these bases to deploy whatever troops I want!
I guess there's nothing left for me to teach you.
Let's face it Nell, if he hadn't got it by now, he'd never get it. Also, where have you been the past however long?
... maybe I should have done a Final Battle skit with her as Sturm...
Still, I guess it is a pretty poignant moment if you look at it from the right angle.
So here we go. As Andy noted, this is a pretty War-Roomish map, with very few starting units. It also looks pretty symmetrical at first glance - until you notice that Eagle has a lot more properties than you do, and also has infantry poised to take the central airport and bases. They're too far away to stop, even with recons. So, Eagle has the funding advantage, and he has the supply line advantage. But I've got one thing on our side: I'm not an AI.
For instance, air superiority is going to be key in this battle, and the large number of islands and chokepoints means that AAs aren't going to cut it most of the time. So essentially, it's all about who can build the most fighters. The AI doesn't think like that, though, and it'll build maybe a fighter every so often but also build a ton of anti-air and missile launchers that won't be able to hit their targets. Eagle will also do his best to head down the long chokepointy bridges and crack our base open from the ground - again, siphoning off valuable fighter-building funds. Anyway, going for an HQ capture here, with a bunch of T copters and fighters (and maybe a bomber or so to break open any ground HQ defences) homing in on it. Again, the HQ won't be that well protected, because Eagle will be building so much of his stuff at the midway factories. En route, to keep the fighters full of fuel we'll be stopping off and capturing the central airport.
Starting off by building a couple of T copters, and that's day 1 done already. Feels weird to have such a short first turn after so many Final Battles, but also a nice change.
Eagle starts things off with a couple of transports and an anti-air.
Back with me, I load up the T copters and send them off to capture the cities on this isolated island here. The mech heads north, because the biggest ground assault comes from there: he won't achieve much without backup, but he might be able to hold things off for a little while. I build an infantry to head south and do the same job there, and save up the rest of my funds: I want a fighter next turn.
Hmm, a tank and a B copter. Also, Eagle's finished capturing the central bases. At least with him having to capture them rather than start with them, we get a few turns' respite.
Time for that fighter.
The island footsoldiers start capturing, while the others head out to try and secure the chokepoints.
Eagle's built a bomber.
Too late to stop me grabbing these cities, though. Fighter can't quite reach the bomber in one turn, but that's ok - if it could, then Eagle could reach our stuff in one turn.
Keep on movin'
First blood to Eagle as he takes on this mech.
So after a few days of preamble, this is where things start to get moving.
Eagle's defence boost is pretty frustrating here. I'm used to one-shotting bombers and B copters with fighters (especially after all those battles with Sturm's terrible defences), so leaving all these units on 1HP gets annoying fast.
To protect my fighter from Eagle's fighter, I block it out with a T copter. Looking back, this would be a silly move against a human opponent - all Eagle would have to do is move his bomber out of the way, and his fighter could then have a shot at the prize. Luckily for us, the AI's rigid unit movement order (fighters before bombers, always!) and the lure of those T copters should keep our fighter safe.
To ram the advantage home, I build a second fighter, while the mech and infantry on the sidelines take up their positions.
So, the bomber retreats for health, and there's a fighter in our midst. Eagle's also spending his battle funds poorly, producing a missile launcher from the northern base. Good luck hitting anything with that.
The fighter goes down easily enough.
And the 2-to-1 fighter advantage becomes a 1.8-to-0 fighter advantage.
Checking up on Eagle's power meter. Still a little bit to go, but Lightning Strike isn't far off now.
That mech will probably need some support, so I churn out a tank and an arty.
And this infantry continues its slow walk forwards.
The 3HP mech gets finished off by B copter fire. Maybe I should have retreated it a bit more. Oh well, it would have probably gone down at some point, and at least this draws the B copter in.
Responding to his fighter getting shot down, Eagle makes a new one. But it's some way from the action, as his central airport is occupied by that repairing bomber.
Meanwhile, last turn I miscalculated a bit and left myself 600G short of being able to build another fighter this turn. Tsk.
Still, I don't really regret my purchases. My mech up here looks vulnerable to that potentially Lightning Struck AA, so I'll definitely be needing reinforcements here.
Oh well, let's just beat up this B copter a bit.
With Lightning Strike coming soon, we've got to check what Eagle's new fighter might be able to hit with a double-move. Looks like the square with the cursor on is about as far as he can move - which means he can hit our 8HP fighter. Better keep that T copter there as bait, then.
Second fighter moves back a bit to make sure it doesn't get hit, infantry in the south keeps on trucking.
And here we go. As it happens, Eagle's power meter actually finishes filling up on his turn (the perils of facing a CO whose power is required to be used at turn's end).
Brace for impact.
The fighter arrives and, as predicted, goes for the option.
AA finishes off my northern mech (sadly all it could achieve in the end was to slow Eagle down a little ) and the tank rolls through to attack my tank.
And the B copter heads south to pick on my southern infantry.
Rather painful, that.
But Andy's pretty good at this whole counterattacking business.
And with Eagle's defences lowered thanks to Lightning Strike, there's plenty to be counterattacked. As my southern infantry demonstrate.
Artillery hammers down on Eagle's tank, allowing my own tank through to punish his anti-air.
Good job bringing AAs and missiles to a ground war, Eagle.
He's pretty screwed in the air, too. Now, that second shot made it look like I was finishing off the fighter...
... but actually I was getting rid of that 2HP B copter. For a few reasons really: I didn't want that copter to keep harassing my infantry (it's got a city to capture, after all), and if Eagle's fighter is damaged, that makes it less likely for him to build another one.
And speaking of building fighters... the air superiority ratio is now 2.9-to-0.3.
The damaged fighter decides to try taking a bite out of my T copter instead.
Andy's head's in the way, but you might just be able to see the edge of a medium tank around the side of it. I'd better watch for that.
I move up to the missile launcher, but don't attack. Maybe the AI will be dumb enough to leave it there, maybe not. I guess we'll see.
All right, there goes that fighter.
And now I have four! Four lovely fighters.
The other two fighters keep themselves busy by attacking Eagle's repairing bomber and a fresh B copter of his.
And my southern infantry finishes off its opposite number.
Finally, this new T copter moves upfield a bit so it can be boarded next turn.
Well, looks like the AI isn't quite as bad as I thought, since it did realise that keeping its missile launcher right next to an enemy tank was a bad idea. So we need a different idea for holding this medium tank off.
Time for the ol' fighter trick, I think. It's safe inside the range shadow, and as per usual it's blocking the medium tank's progress despite how little sense that makes. The tank and arty head back to the cities for defensive cover, although I guess I could just have pressed the assault here by moving the arty up behind its invincible meatshield. Ah well.
Let's see what's happening over here. Well, Eagle's built a bomber to replace the one he just lost.
Yeah, how's that working out for ya?
The bomber cleared out, I move some infantry in to grab that airport. My fighters are going to be needing supplies pretty soon...
Fighter #4 zooms up to join its friends, and I begin capturing that southern city unopposed.
Let's have more arties up here to reinforce that chokepoint. The fighter can leave once we're secure up there.
Eagle's 1HP B copter retreated for repairs.
And since that 9HP fighter is flashing up fuel and ammo warnings, we'd really better get this airport captured.
This time Eagle built his bomber back in the HQ area. It's out of range of the infantry, but you never know when a Lightning Strike might be round the corner...
... so to be on the safe side, let's surround the infantry with guards.
Arties head north, and I build a medium tank.
Eagle goes for the weak link in my defences. Well, relatively speaking.
The bomber heads forward, and looks like Eagle's got another new fighter.
First let's take care of this bomber. Easy enough.
Yeah, we really need that airport soon.
Now it's time for a run-through on this fighter. Reasonable damage, though annoyingly some of that will be healed up. It's probably better to get the attack in now before it can attack us, though.
We're set up nicely at the chokepoint now, so I decide to move the fighter away (a questionable decision, in hindsight) and, with our T copter looking rather worse for wear, I crank out some more Ts and infantry.
Eagle's turn starts with the damaged fighter healing and getting its own back.
The southern infantry comes under a pressure from a tank...
... and the northern tank, from the middie.
And here's where the big problems begin.
Having moved up on the previous turn, Eagle's rockets are able to get a shot in at one of my artillery.
Eagle's fighter flies upfield to down my T copter. Good job I built those extra ones...
Southern infantry down.
Central airport infantry also takes a beating, thankfully with the airport already captured.
And down goes my chokepoint tank. So yeah, moving that blocking fighter, maybe not the smartest move.
Again, this is looking kind of nasty.
But once more, Hyper Repair's coming in straight after a Lightning Strike to give us a chance to recover and counterpunch.
And once more, Eagle's lowered defences after a Lightning Strike hurt him. That arty knocked 7HP off of that medium tank. I mean, not that it especially needed to, given my own middie's easily capable of finishing the job. But still.
6HP arty retreats, and the remaining full health arty gets put into the rocket launcher's firing line instead of it. I'm trying to keep some of the heat off my medium tank here - yes, it is a tank, but it's also a damn sight more expensive than the arties are.
Meanwhile, back in the air...
B copter goes down to one fighter, and another retreats for fuel and ammo.
Eagle's 6HP fighter also goes down to a fighter shot as the fighters all reconvene.
Mass T copter loading session. I'm taking no chances with this HQ capture.
On Eagle's turn, another artillery takes a hit for the medium tank (yes, I know, this is very silly...)
Hmm... the 6HP and 4HP arties are looking very joinable there.
We've got this infantry to deal with first, though.
With that out of the way, the artillery can safely join up.
And my medium tank can roll through and smash up this missile unit. We can't kill the rocket launcher just yet, but it's got nothing else to shield itself with.
Back to the air war, and yet another bomber. C'mon now, Eagle.
Bomber goes down easily enough.
And now it's the 5HP fighter's turn for a refuel and rearm - and a spot of patching up, too.
Maybe a slightly reckless move as I send my fighter in to cripple a newly-made B copter. Slightly risky because Eagle might suddenly start building AAs back at base again.
T copters keep fluttering along...
... and I build another medium tank, this time for cleanup on the southern bridge.
Predictable from Eagle as his rockets attack another arty and his infantry knock a few HP off a T copter.
Yeah, remember what I was saying about Eagle building AAs back at his base again? Well guess what.
Oh well, no time to worry now. We've got B copters to attack.
While that fighter continues its covert mission underneath the info box, the T copters continue to head upfield.
Down goes the rocket launcher in the north, and my artilleries follow the medium tank forwards.
More swapping out shenanigans as the 7HP fighter gets off the airport and the others fall back for supplies.
In the south, this medium tank and the infantry around it steel themselves for another expedition over the bridges.
They always focus in the damage on the wounded unit, don't they? This poor T copter's been in the wars.
Well the good news is, that AA and missile launcher wandered off away from the HQ. AIs .
Fighters keep 'emselves busy by finishing off the damaged B copters.
That secures the area for my Ts. Sort of.
T copter with fighter escort protecting it. Technically there's no AAs in range right now, but I'm wary of Lightning Strike again. Anyway, I've built a bomber, because it's going to take more than infantry to shift that APC off of Eagle's HQ. The bomber will make a nice weapon to use against all these AAs, too.
In the north, middie and arties advance on Eagle's base up there.
And I crank a few infantry with the change from that bomber.
That all seems reasonable enough.
But as I feared, Eagle has got another Lightning Strike in store for us. At least he couldn't get any attacks in on his first turn this time round.
Which means that all in all, thanks to the attack penalty, my fighters don't get too dinged up.
It's not great, but it could be worse. Especially with a full power bar ready.
For the third time in a row, Hyper Repair's directly followed Lightning Strike. Big turn coming up here.
Starting things off by reducing yet another B copter down to 1HP.
After that, I join the 4HP fighter up with the 7HP one, and drop off my first infantry unit in Eagle's HQ area.
Some nice brutality from this bomber incoming.
Good stuff. The B copter gets finished off too.
That's two units dead.
Since this bomber's so important, I give it a guard of T copters and infantry, the infantry dropping off mostly so they don't get shot down along with the copter. I also build a B copter to assist the bomber with cracking Eagle's base.
Now then, let's head north. Oh look, Eagle's brought AAs to a tank-and-arty fight.
Shades of learning how to expand pairs of brackets in maths. But yeah, four down.
Quickly followed by five. That should be enough for a decent power score, with any luck.
In the south, the medium tank continues to head forward, trailing infantry in its wake.
And let's finish proceedings for the day by attacking this one infantry here. Seven damage, no counterattack damage. Good ol' Lightning Strike.
No real surprise here as yet more T copters fall to the curse of
Another day, another B copter.
I suppose it kind of makes sense for Eagle to do this on some level - if nothing else, feeding all these copters to my fighters charges his CO power up nice and fast (great, now I'm thinking of the implications of that...).
Big arrow-heavy screenshot here. In addition to the B copter going down, we've got an infantry loading into a T copter, an infantry unloading from a T copter, infantry capturing, a fighter blocking a base, and the bomber incoming.
Elsewhere, I get to work picking off some of Eagle's infantry and mechs that are trying to reclaim the land I've grabbed.
Lots o' B copters.
Back to the north, where yet more AAs are going for the wrong units.
What are you guys even doing up here?
And stay out!
More moving and building.
One of Eagle's northern AAs finally gets a shot in edgeways.
His other AAs meet with a bit more success.
Right then, let's see if we can dislodge this APC. At the start of the update, I mentioned the limit for perfect Speed here is 21 days. In other words, we've got three days to finish this.
Bomber can only knock it down to 4HP. Can infantry finish the job...?
Nope. The first one got lucky, shaving off 2HP. The second one, not so much.
Looking back, maybe I should have finished capturing that base instead of trying to dislodge the APC, and then gone I HAVE A MEDIUM TANK, SCREW YOU EAGLE. But maybe not, given it would be two turns before I could actually do anything with said middie.
Anyway, down goes another copter.
With more of my own copters en route. Taking a risk, travelling through AA patrolled territory, but hopefully the AA will be preoccupied by that 3HP infantry.
More AA carnage in the north.
As an aside, I keep chipping away at this mech in the middle.
Meanwhile, this AA in the south makes a noise something like "GAULORSH".
We may have a problem, though. Eagle is getting pretty close to a fourth Lightning Strike, and that might just ruin my day.
This is tight.
For once we get our CO power slightly ahead of Eagle.
May as well use it.
Bomber destroys APC, but that'll be my only attack this turn. Gotta watch that power meter.
Infantry captures, everything else does its very best to block Eagle's AAs and B copter out from attacking it.
Medium tanks set up some watertight defences on the bridges.
And all we can do now is hope that Eagle doesn't charge up Lightning Strike on his turn...
That's it! We're clear!
One more round of technique-spamming for luck...
... and we're done.
That's 'cause it's not just me! Paul's my strategic planner!
Oh, that's right. Orange Star is using strategic advisors. That way, the commander can just concentrate on the combat itself. That's an impressive system. It's why I couldn't match you in battle.
I don't know why, but when we work together, we're really strong!
The writers hanging a lampshade on the game's wonky AI, there. But this is what it all comes down to. Think of all the times Andy, Max, Sami and even Nell have got out of absurd situations thanks to their one major advantage: player control, and not being at the mercy of the AI. Think of this mission, where we overturned a huge property and deployment advantage thanks to AI derpery. The Advisor has been the difference.
Yes, indeed. This was your day in the sun. But...
Hey! Let's fight again some day.
Yes, let's do that. Until we meet again, Andy. See you again, Paul. Next time, I won't lose!
The "See you again, INSERT NAME HERE" is weirdly poignant given the whole Advisor thing doesn't come back for the next game. But maybe he's talking about War Room? Or maybe... something else?
Just a pixel off a perfect score, slightly weak on Technique. We lost a lot of units, and spamming infantry and T copters at the end wasn't quite enough to cover it. Still, showed the importance of that spam I guess.
And with that, here comes the Golden Ending Run Credits Reel. Did I get my coveted Campaign S-Rank this time?
Yes. Yes, I did. Finally. With 15 S ranks, 3 A ranks (one of them forced so I avoided the Sonja missions!) and no B ranks, truly this run was the Golden Ending.
So yeah. I'd like to thank everyone who's played a part in this thread, between the extra content, CO voting, advice, encouragement, quips and just general stuff. It's been a long ride, tiring at times, but a lot of fun.
Although hang on... I have the weirdest feeling that I'm forgetting something...
Oh yes, buying Eagle from Battle Maps, since I've unlocked him. And may as well get Kanbei while I'm here.
But no, that's not it. There's something else. Maybe it's at the bottom of the list...