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Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!




About Me:

What I do is make challenge runs of my favorite strategy games. I like to go in-depth about a wide variety of topics including the best possible tactics, hidden mechanics, and what I think of the narrative and game-design choices.

Some of you may know me from my ongoing or finished LPs of Fire Emblem, Fire Emblem: Binding Blade, Civilization 2, Age of Mythology, Skyrim, or Warcraft 3

This one might, in particular, be reminiscent of the Fire Emblem ones. That's no coincidence, since the same company made both series.


About This Game:
Advance Wars 2 is the second game in the Advance Wars series, named for the gameboy advance. They came out in 2001 and 2003, but were preceded by a ton of games on earlier systems, usually with a similar naming convention. Advance Wars was the first one to become well-known and mass-marketed outside Japan as far as I'm aware.

Like its predecessor, Advance Wars 2 is a turn-based strategy game about rather cartoony characters at war in a world composed of terrain tile grids and countries named after colors. What it may lack in sophisticated story it makes up in excellent map design. Out of the entire series, I think Advance Wars 2 has the best campaigns. They're by far the most challenging overall, and a lot of the missions are quite a bit more creative in design and scenario than those in the rest of the series. It also has overall the most interesting and varied set of characters, gameplay-wise.

About this LP
There are several other LPs of Advance Wars 2, so why make another? Well for one thing, none of the older LPs I found did max ranking runs. I think that getting a perfect score on each chapter is a good deal more challenging, and also calls for somewhat different strategies.



Also, several of the older LPs entirely skipped the normal campaign and went right to the hard campaign! One of the great things about the campaigns in this game is that the hard campaign is not just a clone of the normal campaign with a few extra enemies or something. Many maps are entirely different, so if you skip the normal campaign, you miss out on a lot. Also, when it comes to ranking at least, some of the normal campaign missions are harder than the hard campaign equivalents.

So, what I will do is play through both campaigns in their entirety, getting a perfect S-rank on each mission. That means attaining 100 points each for the 3 ranking criteria of Speed, Power, and Technique.

Episodes:

1: Cleanup
2: Border Skirmish
3: Orange Dawn
4: Flak Attack
5: Test of Time
6: Andy's Time
7: Lash Out
8: Liberation
9: Show Stopper
10: Sea of Hope
11: Silo Scramble
12: Sensei's Return
13: Foul Play

Special
Advance Wars By Web, Lash vs Kindle

Melth fucked around with this message at 16:54 on Dec 2, 2021

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Soylent Pudding
Jun 22, 2007

We've got people!



I played so much of this game back in the day. I could never beat the final mission so looking forward to seeing how you finish that in 4 turns or whatever and make it look easy.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Soylent Pudding posted:

I played so much of this game back in the day. I could never beat the final mission so looking forward to seeing how you finish that in 4 turns or whatever and make it look easy.

The final mission is amazing! I still remember when I beat it after some failed tries. I was 12, on a drizzly soccer field waiting for one of my little brother's games. Also, I got a second degree burn on my tongue with a sip of some exceedingly hot chocolate-- even after the reasonable precautions of waiting 10 minutes, blowing on it, and even letting it get rained on for a minute or two. That drink could have been lethal to the unwary! Much like Sturm's death ray.

Even to this day, that mission is a real challenge. In fact, one of the reasons I want to do the normal campaign before the hard campaign is that I think the final mission is actually tougher on normal than hard. There are several others like that.

This next mission is not among them:
3: Orange Dawn

Melth fucked around with this message at 03:19 on Oct 25, 2021

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


4: Flak Attack

This one is a direct sequel to the previous mission. I like to think that we have the same 2 B-Copters that helped crush Flak last time, back to do it again.

Melth fucked around with this message at 22:42 on Oct 25, 2021

Lustful Man Hugs
Jul 18, 2010



The Anti-Air units in Advance Wars seem to be equipped with pretty fast firing autocannons, which would naturally tear apart infantry (the game calls their weapon the 'vulcan', which irl is a 20mm gatling gun).

Jobbo_Fett
Mar 7, 2014

It would be a sad error in judgement to mistake me for a corpse.


Clapping Larry

Lustful Man Hugs posted:

The Anti-Air units in Advance Wars seem to be equipped with pretty fast firing autocannons, which would naturally tear apart infantry (the game calls their weapon the 'vulcan', which irl is a 20mm gatling gun).

Vulcan is more of a rotary gun, so if it doesn't resemble the A-10s main gun, it could be more similar to a Tunguska's auto-cannons. Typically, they'll range between 20mm and 30mm, although oddballs/non-standard calibre versions exist.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Given that Orange Star is aesthetically based on American materiel, the closest analogue to their AA is the Sergeant York a self-propelled AA gun with two 40mm autocannons that was never adopted or put into mass production.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Cythereal posted:

Given that Orange Star is aesthetically based on American materiel, the closest analogue to their AA is the Sergeant York a self-propelled AA gun with two 40mm autocannons that was never adopted or put into mass production.

Named for that guy who captured a gajillion Germans in world war 1 I presume?


Lustful Man Hugs posted:

The Anti-Air units in Advance Wars seem to be equipped with pretty fast firing autocannons, which would naturally tear apart infantry (the game calls their weapon the 'vulcan', which irl is a 20mm gatling gun).

True, but I would expect the main gun of a battleship to tear apart infantry too, among other things. AAs do even more damage to infantry than whatever futuristic weapons neotanks have

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Melth posted:

Named for that guy who captured a gajillion Germans in world war 1 I presume?

Yup. The Sergeant York program was a costly boondoggle that didn't amount to anything, but if you want the American version of a Shilka or Gepard it's the closest thing. The US Army is still trying to come up with a good SPAAG since they're much more useful for drone hunting than SAMs.

Not sure what the Missile unit is supposed to be. The two relatively iconic mobile SAMs of the US are the Chaparral, which was tracked, and the Avenger, which is basically a modified humvee. The Missile doesn't resemble either.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Cythereal posted:

Not sure what the Missile unit is supposed to be.

Me either. I have my suspicions that it was intended to be some kind of counter-air unit, but I realize some people may doubt that theory because the unit is so bad at that role!

Jobbo_Fett
Mar 7, 2014

It would be a sad error in judgement to mistake me for a corpse.


Clapping Larry

Can someone post a unit sheet? Wouldn't mind trying to decipher it myself.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



From the units we've seen in action so far:

B-Copter is pretty obviously an Apache, the main helicopter gunship of the US Army.

T-Copter is a Chinook, a common US military heavy-lift helicopter immediately identifiable by the twin rotor configuration.

APC is a box on treads, which makes it an M-113, the iconic American troop box of the later 20th century.

Light tank is very stylized so hard to make a real connection, but I'd call it an M-2 Bradley, a common tracked IFV/light tank of the US Army.

Medium tank is probably the M-1 Abrams, the US Army's main battle tank.

Artillery is an M109, the standard mobile tube artillery of the US.

AA is, at a stretch, the Sergeant York that never saw adoption by the US military. It's definitely not a Vulcan, and this game predates any of the new efforts by the US to get a vehicle of this kind.

Missile is... I dunno. It's wheeled so it's not a Chaparral, and it's definitely not an Avenger. It does look vaguely Stryker-ish, but there isn't a SAM carrier Stryker.

Rocket is an M142, the only wheeled MLRS used by the US.


Edit: The Advance Wars wiki claims that the Orange Star Missile is in fact the Avenger, but, uh, looks nothing at all like one. The wiki backs up the rest of my guesses.

Cythereal fucked around with this message at 21:12 on Oct 26, 2021

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


That's interesting. I'd never paid any attention to which particular pieces of military hardware the various units might be based on.

5: Test of Time

What is the real life basis for the Orange Star neotank?

Watermelon Daiquiri
Jul 10, 2010




the black star neotank

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Melth posted:

What is the real life basis for the Orange Star neotank?

The thing is, any first-world nation in real life absolutely could build a legged combat vehicle if they so desired. The technological capability exists, that's not the issue. So why aren't there legged combat vehicles out there today? A whole lot of reasons that are very boring to game designers!

Most strategy games with legged vehicles tout that legged vehicles have superior mobility over rough terrain. Thing is, that's not actually true in reality. Wheels and treads are extremely efficient means of locomotion across a huge range of terrain, there's a reason they're the standard. The rough terrain that modern combat vehicles struggle with most often is in the sense of narrow passages (canyons, up trails, etc) that the vehicle itself can't fit through. Legs wouldn't actually help with that. Stick an Abrams on legs and it still can't fit into a slot canyon or up a ridgeline trail that it couldn't before. In fact, given that legs need to physically stretch beyond their point of mounting - the hips, if you will - they result in larger dimensions for the vehicle. And for other senses of superior mobility over rough terrain, like stepping up cliff faces like a human would a staircase, you'd be talking a monstrously large vehicle to get that effect.

The next problem with legged vehicles is that they result in a larger, taller vehicle. This is not a good thing! A larger silhouette means an easier target! If you pay attention, most successful armored combat vehicles from WW2 onwards have surprisingly low, compact profiles. Treads and wheels fit easily into this need. Legs by necessity mean a bigger target that will stretch beyond the bounding box of the vehicle chassis itself.

Legs are also fundamentally more vulnerable to battle damage than other propulsion systems, and the consequences of legs giving out are more severe for the vehicle. Most AFVs have armored skirts covering the wheels and treads, for good reason. A mobility kill is often almost as good - or exactly as good - as an actual kill when it comes to the needs of a battle. Legs are impossible to armor to this same level, and they're particularly vulnerable to explosives located on the ground like mines and IEDs. And when a leg is damaged, the best case scenario is that it simply seizes up. If the walker was stationary when this happens, it might not be a bad thing. If it's in motion, though, the walker is probably going to fall over. If the leg gives out, the walker's probably going to fall over. Even if it's a quadruped or better and in the event the walker has enough balance to not collapse, it's still likely going to tilt and put far more stress on the other legs, rendering them more vulnerable to damage.

The final major problem in the field is the increased likelihood of mechanical failures. Military equipment is generally designed to be as simple and durable as possible, with as few moving parts as the designers can get away with. This is a consideration not only for battle damage, but because military equipment tends to get used hard, in harsh environments, by people not particularly concerned with the longevity of their gear. Wear and tear is harsh, doubly so in environments with lots of sand, mud, water, snow, and other crap. The more complex a piece of equipment, the more likely it is to fail and the harder it is to repair. This consideration is a big part of why German armored vehicles during WW2 ended up being so inferior to Western and Soviet war machines: German engineers loved elaborate, elegant, complicated machinery (especially vehicle transmissions) that were often made of inferior materials and manufacturing methodology, and most German armored vehicles were infamous for constantly breaking down, especially in the mud and snow. All the armor and guns in the world won't do you any good if your tank doesn't last five miles on an open road, or two miles in the countryside, before it breaks down (the Tiger II was especially infamous for this).

Walkers take this problem to the nth level. You're not only talking about the leg assemblies themselves, but the hip joints and the coordination systems needed to keep the vehicle moving. A walker would almost certainly require a version of the fly by wire systems used by modern aircraft to help pilots control inherently aerodynamically unstable aircraft. Walking is inherently unstable as a form of locomotion, it's a basically a forward-moving controlled fall. Making robots in controlled labs walk successfully is hard. Getting a military vehicle operated by Jimmy Dipshit from Arse End, Alabama to walk under combat conditions is probably the biggest single obstacle to military walkers.


tl;dr walkers are as unrealistic as Andy being given control of a military force

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

I always though the Black Hole troops were robots, not aliens. Which would explain the whole "humans on top" thing.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Cythereal posted:


tl;dr walkers are as unrealistic as Andy being given control of a military force

They don't seem to walk though- as far as I can tell, each of those silly legs have even sillier wheels at the ends of them. And then those wheels count like treads.

General Revil
Sep 29, 2014

"Congratulations! You're all smarter than some of the most brilliant minds on Tendao that worked on this revolutionary project."

Melth posted:

They don't seem to walk though- as far as I can tell, each of those silly legs have even sillier wheels at the ends of them. And then those wheels count like treads.

That is what they are. As a kid, for some reason I thought each of those legs looked like a tank tread. I assumed that instead of being on two tracks like normal, the neotanks had four tracks, but only used the points of the tracks (nullifying the point of even having treads.

Soylent Pudding
Jun 22, 2007

We've got people!



I always thought the neotank design was stupid. I'd actually like it more if the weird leg tread things were hoverjets or something because advanced alien technology.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Soylent Pudding posted:

I always thought the neotank design was stupid. I'd actually like it more if the weird leg tread things were hoverjets or something because advanced alien technology.

I think their normal tanks do that don't they?

The neotank design is definitely silly, but it doesn't bother me too much. To me, it says 'this is an alien machine that doesn't make sense to humans' better than something employing the obviously useful technology of being able to hover would.

scavy131
Dec 21, 2017


Melth posted:

I think their normal tanks do that don't they?

The neotank design is definitely silly, but it doesn't bother me too much. To me, it says 'this is an alien machine that doesn't make sense to humans' better than something employing the obviously useful technology of being able to hover would.

Avoiding having a vehicle which looks like it hovers also avoids any complaints about "why doesn't this have it's own movement type" or "why doesn't this tank fly instead of having treads". The Neo-Tank looks like something that'd be used in the hypothetical Akira-Ghost in the Shell crossover anime, it's got that 90s cyberpunk industrial look with the tiny wheel-legs of those tachikomas from GitS.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


scavy131 posted:

Avoiding having a vehicle which looks like it hovers also avoids any complaints about "why doesn't this have it's own movement type" or "why doesn't this tank fly instead of having treads". The Neo-Tank looks like something that'd be used in the hypothetical Akira-Ghost in the Shell crossover anime, it's got that 90s cyberpunk industrial look with the tiny wheel-legs of those tachikomas from GitS.

I don't know a thing about Ghost in the Shell since I'm not much of an anime guy. Is it likely that the design of the neotank or other things in this game were inspired by it?


Here's the next video by the way. At long last we can deploy troops, and face off against the first of the black hole special weapons that we'll see a lot of this game:
6: Andy's Time

General Revil
Sep 29, 2014

"Congratulations! You're all smarter than some of the most brilliant minds on Tendao that worked on this revolutionary project."

Melth posted:

I don't know a thing about Ghost in the Shell since I'm not much of an anime guy. Is it likely that the design of the neotank or other things in this game were inspired by it?

Definitely not in whole, but the legs are very similar.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGTXNQmJAkw

Qrr
Aug 14, 2015




Melth posted:

I don't know a thing about Ghost in the Shell since I'm not much of an anime guy. Is it likely that the design of the neotank or other things in this game were inspired by it?


Here's the next video by the way. At long last we can deploy troops, and face off against the first of the black hole special weapons that we'll see a lot of this game:
6: Andy's Time

Phew, that was a close one. Flak almost got to attack once.

General Revil
Sep 29, 2014

"Congratulations! You're all smarter than some of the most brilliant minds on Tendao that worked on this revolutionary project."

Are you going to be going into more detail on the luck mechanics? I'd like to link to a video where someone disagrees with you on the value of Neotanks, but he casually drops some luck shenanigans that you can pull off without explaining it.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


General Revil posted:

Are you going to be going into more detail on the luck mechanics? I'd like to link to a video where someone disagrees with you on the value of Neotanks, but he casually drops some luck shenanigans that you can pull off without explaining it.

Yeah I'll be explaining the luck mechanics in detail later on. I feel like these early videos are already bogged down with a lot of tutorial though without me adding my own, so I figured I'd save it for later.

I also want to make clear a point that applies to both neotanks and many other things: what is good in singleplayer is not necessarily good in multiplayer.

Neotanks are great in singleplayer. One of the best units. I've achieved many 300-point S ranks on difficult missions by using them to break through defenses and allow my tanks to annihilate the back line, or instant-killing pipes and black cannons, or just stonewalling an enemy advance.


In multiplayer though they can be cost-effectively beaten by things like artillery, rockets, bombers, and b-copters. Not to mention that a lot of multiplayer battles don't allow for the kind of massive funds build ups that allows one to even field MD tanks regularly, let alone Neotanks.

But I do think I would say that if I'm in the kind of rare situation where an ultra-powerful melee ground unit is called for in multiplayer, I would usually splurge the extra 6000 for a neotank over an MD tank. They're much harder to bog down because they move farther (especially noticeable in thick woods, where they move 50% faster in fact) and because they can more easily OHKO enemies that have terrain bonuses. That's very important I find, particularly for allowing some other unit like a tank to then run in through the breach and destroy artillery or rockets so that they can't counterattack and ruin the neotank.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


7: Lash Out

In today's naval unit tutorial, we learn that the best way to win is to repeatedly make the wrong moves in a game of rock, paper, scissors!

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


The first boss mission, tackled Max-style by wiping Flak out instead of making a sneaky run at the pipe!

8: Liberation

Explopyro
Mar 18, 2018




On the AI's tendency to build foot soldiers in the endgame, I seem to remember being told (and my experience bears this out) that the AI is basically hardcoded to want at least 5 foot units, and will prioritise building infantry and mechs if it has fewer regardless of what else is going on. This is, of course, very exploitable.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

Oh, that's really good. Never managed to win this mission in any other way than sneaking a bomber in.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


anilEhilated posted:

Oh, that's really good. Never managed to win this mission in any other way than sneaking a bomber in.

I think s lot of people do it that way- it's definitely the smart way.


Explopyro posted:

On the AI's tendency to build foot soldiers in the endgame, I seem to remember being told (and my experience bears this out) that the AI is basically hardcoded to want at least 5 foot units, and will prioritise building infantry and mechs if it has fewer regardless of what else is going on. This is, of course, very exploitable.

Interesting, that does seem to roughly match up to what I've seen, though I'm nearly certain that I've seen it stop at 4 at least sometimes.

Soylent Pudding
Jun 22, 2007

We've got people!



I feel all the other nations COs are more interesting than orange star. They have better music too. Looking forward to your analysis of the new COs.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



I feel like the Orange Star crew do a good job of being the introductory nation that ease a new player into the game. You have the Average Guy whose powers make the game more forgiving, the Infantry Girl, and the Tank Guy. All things that are relevant on just about every map, easy to wrap your head around and easy to use, with Sami offering some finer points for more advanced players.

Then as the player progresses, they're introduced to more mechanically complex COs.

Soylent Pudding
Jun 22, 2007

We've got people!



That's fair, they are a good straightforward set of COs to learn the game on.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Cythereal posted:

I feel like the Orange Star crew do a good job of being the introductory nation that ease a new player into the game. You have the Average Guy whose powers make the game more forgiving, the Infantry Girl, and the Tank Guy. All things that are relevant on just about every map, easy to wrap your head around and easy to use, with Sami offering some finer points for more advanced players.

Then as the player progresses, they're introduced to more mechanically complex COs.

I've always had mixed feelings about them as introductory COs.

On the one hand, I'm glad that they made things more interesting than if, for example, they had given you a ground CO, an air CO, and a naval CO for your starting country. They gave you obvious holes in your lineup where there are some units no one on the team is good with.

But on the other hand, it feels like the orange star lineup is Max + two useless people, because Max is strong with 90% of all units in the game, and only notably weak with artillery. I know that in multiplayer he can struggle (if it's fog of war, ground-only, and there are lots of chokepoints). But in the campaign there are almost no missions where Sami's ability to capture things under fire is even relevant, let alone decisive. And Andy is always outclassed completely by Max since, again, Max is good with almost every single unit and even his rockets and battleships can still do their job quite well.

This was especially true in AW1 of course where Max was so clearly superior that I resented ever being forced to use anyone else.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


9: Show Stopper

I'm tackling the Yellow Comet campaign before Blue Moon, which I think is the optimal strategy. Done in this order, you can use Yellow Comet COs to assist Blue Moon, which is very useful.

With the opposite order, Blue Moon COs can assist Yellow Comet on one mission, but they're pretty bad at the job and would be replacing a much more valuable Orange Star CO.

Kliff
Feb 6, 2009

Forgotten by everyone? Kanako's fault.


One thing you missed in this video is that, essentially, you were absolutely safe to destroy Adder's bomber when you did at 14:30 without helping Adder. The entire turn that a CO or SCO power is active - from the CO's current turn to their next turn - they are unable to build up CO Meter at all.

Soylent Pudding
Jun 22, 2007

We've got people!



No need to split up the longer videos.

Also I'm glad you rank Kanbei so highly. He was always my favorite to play as.

Melth
Feb 16, 2015

Victory and/or death!


Kliff posted:

One thing you missed in this video is that, essentially, you were absolutely safe to destroy Adder's bomber when you did at 14:30 without helping Adder. The entire turn that a CO or SCO power is active - from the CO's current turn to their next turn - they are unable to build up CO Meter at all.

You're right, I forgot that his CO power was in effect that turn.



Soylent Pudding posted:

No need to split up the longer videos.

Also I'm glad you rank Kanbei so highly. He was always my favorite to play as.

Kanbei is amazingly strong. And of course I always like using a small number of elite units to win in just about every game. Colin is also amazingly strong, but I hate using swarms of weak guys!

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Mighty Steed
Apr 16, 2005
Nice horsey


That mission looked like a pain but good to see you challenged for a change Melth. Enjoying this a lot so far.

Can players replay missions to, for instance get the lab secret if they missed it?

Also are you going to show off what the points can be spent on?

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