Monday, June 27, 2011

It has been quite a day...

For those of you keeping track of the Tag Tier Project, I pretty much re-wrote the list today. Eagle/Sami got kicked downstairs and a bunch of COs went way up. I finally got around to finding a better map, so that probably helps. XD

My earlier thinking had been that I should use a smaller map to make the tests go by faster. The only problem... after what seems like a thousand runs on it I know the damned thing well enough that I could probably beat Hachi with Grit on it. So I got a bigger map with even better ratings, and I've got better strategic options to play with now. It also doesn't take as long to play as I feared, so I think I'll stick with it.

With all that said, I've done a batch of re-testing and busted a lot of assumptions. Most obvious is that Eagle and the mass-damage COs got kicked upstairs, past Creepy Crawly. I don't think I'm done bumping them either. And COs like Hachi and Sensei definitely need to have another go. It always did bother me that Hachi could give Grizzled Vets a hard time and yet lose to Shaky Alliance. Methinks perhaps the better map I have now will remedy this.

Stay tuned. I'm not done rebalancing the list yet, not even close...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Pariah CO: Grit

From the TV Trops article "A Commander is You":

The Pariah Faction. This faction relies on some not particularly useful gimmick or combat ability. They tend to be disadvantaged with most everything else. For bored advanced players or Scrubs. Of course, an exception to this rule would be if their gimmick/ability were hard to use and/or apparently useless, but gave a substantial advantage if mastered properly, in which case they would be a Lethal Joke Faction.
Also known as "the opposite of Game Breaker." Grit, for so long considered broken in Advance Wars Dual Strike, was several months ago kicked downstairs. He is currently considered the worst CO in the game. But why?

Grit's ability is that he gives Indirect units extra range and firepower on a daily basis. His weakness is an inversely proportional firepower drop for Direct units. His CO Powers further boost his Indirects with more range and more firepower. The strategy you would naturally want to use is drawing up a wall of units, usually Infantry, to protect the relatively cheap Artillery and advance as a wall. In fact, this is really his most viable strategy.

His unit focus is entirely shifted away from every other CO in the game, in that he benefits neither soldiers nor Directs. Every other CO in the game boosts at least one of these somehow. And that is where the problems begin.

The first and most obvious problem is economics. The cheapest unit Grit powers up is the Artillery, costing 6k. It is feasible to get one of these out by day 3 or 4, where it can then use Infantry to help shield itself. Contrast this with all the COs who do something for, say, Recons, a 4k unit. Recons can be feasibly made on day 2 or 3, and can then  sally forth and disrupt the enemy's capture phase. Grit can offset this advantage by building his own Recon and forgo the early Arty. No big deal, right? He can do what he needs to do. And then day 8 rolls around...

Day 8 is the magic day in AWDS. Some SCOPs are charged by then; others are being planned for. Either way, SCOPs are on one's mind. This is when Grit's "oh shit" moment hits. He doesn't have very many units that his SCOP can affect at this point; Arties are expensive, and at any rate he had to curb the advantage of the early Recon. But now he's lacking in the CO Power department while his opponent is not; his opponent has been playing to their CO Powers the whole time. He could try using his COP; same firepower as his SCOP, merely lacking range. Of course if his opponent knows their Grit theory, it's a good bet they've planned ahead for this. That leaves his SCOP. For most COs this is a no-brainer: if you need to beat your opponent to the SCOP, shred some Infantry and fire it off. Except Grit needs the meat-shields, so that's out.

His opponent fires off. Their units are in close, but Grit has now suffered losses and damage; some of which is undoubtedly his Artillery. In most cases Grit's best bet is to go ahead and light off his own SCOP, but the damage is done and he's not going to get as much juice out of it as his opponent did. If it's Kanbei or Javier, his only option is to wait out the defense boosts; especially Javier's.

This will only get worse if Grit continues trying to fight fire with fire. The more his opponent forces him to change style, the greater the advantage he hands to them. Once Copters enter the game, Grit's pretty much done: his suck, and his AAs suck at shooting them down. In the end he's just pissing away money on units he can't power up, and his opponent reaps the advantage.

So is there any hope for Grit? The honest answer is... not really. Sure, you can bias the terrain in his favor, get rid of the airports, and maybe give him a fighting chance that way. But that's it: beyond stacking the odds, you're really not going to find many uses for Grit outside the War Room. He's that bad.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trust Fund

That's what the Colin/Sasha Tag is called. And it gives me nightmares. It might actually be better than Earth and Sky.

Basic Strategy:

Obviously you'll lead off with Colin at first. Once you start getting into combat, though, always hit the switch button at the end of your turn. Not only will it make this Tag charge up absurdly fast, but unlike most Tags these two actually have good d2d reasons to do this. Colin ends his turn with extra money left over, and Sasha makes extra money. Generally speaking, you shouldn't tech higher than Recons during Sasha's turn. Colin, on the other hand, will be capable of buying multiple Tanks quite quickly, and don't be surprised if Md Tanks become an option before the first Dual Strike.

Colin should lead the Dual Strike. His money boost combined with Trust Fund's default 140/110 means that he'll average at least as well as the firepower COs. The key difference being, of course, that said firepower is backed up by a massively teched up army in this case. He buys stuff, and then it's Sasha's turn. Sasha plays a straight 140/110, but with the whole "combat pay" routine going on, not to mention some reinforcements to call up. Unlike any other Tag pairing, Sasha during this Dual Strike is quite capable of giving you at least one Recon and filling the rest of your bases with Infantry.

Why This is Godly:

Well why do you think!? Look at the rest of the power scale in the game if you need a hint: nowhere else do tech and firepower cross over in these proportions! What are you gonna do, pull out a Hachi Tag? They have to stay low tech to get a Megatank on time. Now on most Colin Tags you can probably get away with this. Trust Fund? If necessary it can ass-pull a Md Tank in time to meet this threat. A Trust Fund Md Tank has sufficient time and firepower to destroy a Megatank; and if Colin bought it then it's still cheaper. At worst, a Tank may need to assist with the kill. However it happens, this will not kill Trust Fund's economy; unlike Hachi, it is always on overdrive.

If the enemy is something like, say, Hachi/Kanbei, this just makes it worse. Yes, Kanbei's got Samurai Spirit for this Megatank; he also screws up the prices. If they switch out often enough to make a quick charge, they'll actually have to tech down even further just to get the Megatank in time. Trust Fund is still perfectly capable of spamming Tanks in the meantime. Hachi/Kanbei may indeed get the one Megatank this duo can't beat, but at the cost of battlefield control it's too little too late. (Might even be better off just spamming 3.5k Tanks, and even then...)

Why do I think it might be better than Earth and Sky? It fires off first, it can get Copters obscenely early, and it can pull double-production as mentioned earlier. Unlike most Tags, it can afford to leave an Infantry on the HQ. After wiping out the rest of Earth and Sky's forces, that one Infantry is enough to screw things up. Walking across the map and capping it ain't an option at that point, and with their forces so demolished they might get one or two consolation captures that won't have any long-term effect on Trust Fund's tech advantage.

Against any other opponent, the result is predictable. Trust Fund is fucking insane for what it says on paper. They say that a CO or Tag is broken when it does something the game wasn't designed to take into account. Look at the power flow chart. What are the top five items? Tech, spam, super units, capture, two moves. By the CO stats and by its nature as a Tag, Trust Fund combines all five of these in evil, evil ways. No other Tag in the game does this. I'm not even sure any other Tag can match this. Talk about broken COs like Hachi or Sensei all you want. Throw them in the Tag ring and suddenly they look a lot less impressive. You want broken? Look at the article title.