Part 64: Advance Campaign Mission 1: It's War!Advance Campaign Mission 1: It's War! AC (or "An Harrowing Experience")
Well... here we are. Advance Campaign. Two words that, when put together, will make any Advance Wars fan cringe. I can't even say that much about it, because I've never tried it before - I've always been too scared. But I've heard the rumours. Rumours about its brutal unfairness, caused not by anything fancy like stupid mechanics (hello Crystal Calamity HC) or evil CO abilities (hello Sunrise) but the old-fashioned way, though sheer numbers alone.
Enough delaying of the inevitable. Let's get started.
Yep, it's a video - I'm going to be mixing things up for these updates. With the very real possibility (probability, even) that I'll come grinding to a halt a few missions into Advance Campaign, I've decided to do these missions as a VLP hybrid instead of my usual screenshot format. Hopefully this means that if I do get stuck, it'll help me end on a high rather than it being a bit of a damp squib (or, as one malapropism I saw recently put it, a damp squid ). I'm not 100% sure if this'll work out for every mission, especially the longer ones, but for now I should be okay - It's War! AC only came out at about 16½ minutes. I may have to learn how to do jump cuts and fastforwarding for some of the later videos, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I guess if people hate it then I'll switch back to screenshots, but I think this is worth an experiment.
Co-commentating on this first mission are Sockerbagarn and SupSuper, but I'm happy to open up co-commentary slots to whoever wants a go. Thinking about it, it might be good to get a Skype chat organised at some point (which might also help with this mooted idea of AWBW games between Alkydere, Seraphroy and me...)
And because I'm pretty much addicted to drawing arrows by now, I'm going to be accompanying the video with a few highlights:
First up, the map, with NC alongside it for comparison. Spot the differences: we're down our medium tank, our anti-air and one of our mechs. Olaf, meanwhile, has had one of his light tanks and one of his AAs replaced by a shiny new pair of medium tanks. That's all, but that's all there needs to be to turn this into a nightmare. The medium tanks going from 1 vs. 1 to 0 vs. 3 makes life very dodgy.
But saying that, in terms of the basic strategy it's fairly straightforward. We've got to keep our forces together (with the exception of a sacrificial recon dedicated to stalling Olaf's southern forces as long as possible), head along the northern side of the river, and defeat Olaf's forces in detail, making sure that his medium tanks get lured out one at a time. Priority one is getting that APC to the HQ area, so it can unload its capturing cargo. It's also important to keep our pair of artillery safe, as without a medium tank of our own, they're the only things that can go toe-to-toe with a medium tank (well, okay, an artillery can't go toe-to-toe with anything. Other-side-of-a-meatshield-to-toe). Of course, all this is easier said than done, and I restarted this mission a number of times before I finally beat it. The one good thing is that we're not in any real danger of our HQ going down, at least as long as we get to the HQ in a reasonable amount of time: those footsoldiers will stop off to capture nearby cities, so we can cheerfully ignore them.
The opening salvos: tank attacking tank, the all-important APC loading up, and the recon acting to stall Olaf's southern troops. It took quite a few experiments to get this recon placed correctly: my first attempt left it on a city for the defence bonus, causing it to be messed up by Olaf's rocket launcher .
Day 2, and perhaps my first admission that I wasn't going for the perfect Speed score. That 8HP tank is standing on the square that the APC would need to be for its mad desperate "gotta get that infantry to the HQ in four days" rush needed for a six-day perfect score. But I figured that the screening wall of tanks would be more important for ensuring that the APC made it to the HQ at all, never mind in four days.
Taking down the first medium tank. Good job it attacked me from the square it did, really. But I figured that the 6HP infantry would make a tempting target.
Animated gifs of Blizzard and Hyper Repair in action. These things are over 3½ megabytes each, if you're wondering why everything's running a bit slow today.
And the decisive fall of Olaf's second medium tank, after that fun little AI glitch where rocket launchers forget to attack while they're healing up. This one comes with some animations:
Including a proper showcasing of Olaf's wibbly "oh no I lost a unit" face .
And the final blow. Jumping up and down on buildings to change their colour: it's the Advance Wars way!
Hmm, that would have made a pretty good thread title...
Anyway, nine day victory, A Rank overall, and here we can see an interesting feature of Advance Campaign: it's all about the Speed. Technique and Power get full marks regardless (although we probably would have managed Power this time anyway), which is fair enough: trying to get a perfect in an Advance Campaign mission with normal Power and Technique scoring would probably lead to World War III. Note, however, that it took me ten days to beat this on Normal Campaign, and that was chalked up as an S Rank: so the Speed criteria have been tightened nastily. The scoring system giveth, and the scoring system taketh away...
The upshot is that for perfect scores in AC it's all about mad, suicidal rushes to the enemy HQ, sacrificing everything if it'll help you get that little infantry unit to do its job faster. Kind of like what I did here, only more so. While I'm here, may as well note that Advance Campaign gives double coins: this carries over to the Hard Campaigns of the other games. In Dual Strike, this makes Hard Campaign great for grinding XP. In the original, it's a bit like being told that you're going to be paid double providing you don't mind working to eyewatering deadlines while losing half the tools you need to do your job.
Enough chatter. Let's see what Grit's got in store for us next time...
... welp. At least we get bases!