Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Difference Other Game Modes Make... In AWDoR

Yeah, you thought I had forgotten about this little sucker, didn't you? But as much as there is to talk about with AWDS, AWDoR will always be hands-down the most interesting game in the series, and this is exemplified in its game modes. (US names are used; sorry EU, but if I can memorize your version you can memorize mine. :p )

Unlike AWDS, DoR fog does a lot more to affect the flow of the game. This has more to do with the nature of the COs involved than the fog itself; that being said, the fog mechanic of this game is better implemented. It brings a real element of guile and skill into the equation, and it rewards you for smart use of your CO. COs like Tabitha and Lin are going to be able to eliminate enemy vision with much greater precision and make it more difficult for their opponent to attack; this same pair of COs also have CO powers that are conducive to out-maneuvering the enemy in fog.
-Fog also rewards defensive play with Artillery since properties are hidden from enemies: if you put Artillery on a city and wall up, the enemy has to bust through the wall and get vision on that property before the Arty is actually in any danger. In the meantime the city still affords repairs and ammo, and that Arty is quite capable of going down fighting if you think it can do enough damage. And all this is before we even inject a CO into the mess, it's just that good for defense.
-While we're on the subject of using fog for defense, we probably should mention the Flare. Only useful in fog, the Flare is pretty much a requirement to break through the aforementioned defensive wall. In fact the Flare is incredibly helpful for pretty much any assault on a tightly-woven complex. It's also a decent choice for a CO unit.

Okay, enough about fog, time for weather. Random weather will cause some major headaches for some COs, and be a major boon to others. Snow isn't a terrible hindrance for most COs; Mech rushers like Will will get bogged down when that hits, at least temporarily. On the other hand, a sudden sandstorm takes away the biggest advantage of Tank rushing COs like Tabitha and Lin, and makes Arty-wall COs like Gage and Brenner very happy. But those last two really hate it when rain shows up, because that inability to see anything is just asking for an ambush the moment it lifts.
-One CO stands above the rest when random weather is turned on: Penny. Not only does she gain any potential advantages twofold from weather, she can take those same advantages and turn them on themselves. She is unique among all COs in this game in that her main ability applies itself like an AWDS CO; Penny does not need a CO unit to be immune to weather. For Penny, a sandstorm is just free defense, snow lets her play movement games, and rain just plain makes her unfair. Penny's CO power lets her summon weather, but in clear weather it's very difficult to get that charged since she is normally very weak. With random weather on, occasionally taking advantage of that weather will make that CO power much easier to charge; but most importantly, it means she can occasionally stabilize the weather and make greater use of a particular weather effect for the three turns she gets it.

Turning off unit levels, if you choose to do so, gives more weight to the CO unit than it already has, being the only unit on the field with veterancy. More significantly, it takes a little weight away from Tanks; you see, a veteran Tank is as good as a basic Md Tank in AWDoR. By turning this off, you have a decent reason to build Md Tanks occasionally.

Now as for tweaking income... it doesn't do anything we didn't already cover in AWDS. It will change your basic unit focus, but that's about it. Changing starting funds can be a big deal, though, since depending on how high you make them you can get a decent CO unit pretty early on. That's about all the difference, it will make, though.

Turn limits, again, don't do anything we didn't already cover. It doubles as the game's property victory, so much like its predecessor this mode just means that the battle will end in the middle of the map.

To sum it up, tweaking the game settings of AWDoR has a much greater affect on the flow of gameplay than it does for AWDS, and as such it gives you a much greater depth of gameplay to choose from. Hey, there's a reason I've always called this the superior game.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Difference Other Game Modes Make

Typically I talk about AWDS in terms of the default game mode; that is, two or more COs/Tags duking it out on the default victory conditions and game settings, and generally assuming that Force Ranks are not involved. All of these dramatically change to focus of gameplay and heightens the importance of skill, but what difference does it make to the game's balance? Surprisingly little, actually.

As far as Force Ranks go, you will quickly find yourself gravitating to the money skills. In fact, the money and hard-mode skills so eclipse the others in power most of the time that you'll hardly find a use for any of the others. If everyone has the money skills and Soul of Hachi, then the differences come back down to their respective CO abilities. (There are exceptions; they will get their own post.)

Fog does nothing, not even for Sonja. The ability to see further can't save you from mass damage, nor from two moves, nor from insta-capture, mega defense, etc.

Weather can give some weight to Drake and Olaf. Slightly. Olaf can occasionally get more firepower out of the deal, and both can change the weather to suit them. Constant snow can even bump Olaf up within the mass damage circle. But that's really it. Rain is basically Fog especially if it's constant, and Sandstorms don't really do anything except nerf Grit... not that he needs nerfing.

Turn and capture limits just mean that the game ends in the middle of the battlefield rather than at one player's HQ. Alternatively, it can be like Capitol Risk in which the elimination of all players is unnecessary. (Although it one person was getting double-teamed this may not be quite enough.) It can give some weight to Sami, but that's about it.

And lastly, funds. Minor changes to funds can significantly impact the flow of the game. A small bump to 2k funds makes Black Bomb warfare an option. From there it only gets crazier until Tanks and B-Copters finally become endangered species. In spite of the changes to whatever units are on the field, the tactics will be more or less the same. Much of what goes on with funds deserves its own post, but suffice it to say that while it makes the game much more interesting, it doesn't really alter the effectiveness of the COs by all that much.

Lest I forget, I guess there's also the never-talked-about Dual Screen mode. You know, the option in the versus menu to go with either one or two maps? Yeah, I nearly forgot about it myself. It also shares a trait with the other game modes: It doth not affect the gameplay much. A sufficiently powerful CO can lose his partner on the top front and still win down below. They could also send a large amount of reinforcements to the top to keep that from happening... but why bother? You may as well play a single map for all the difference this mode makes.

So basically, while the different game modes can make the game more interesting and change the tactics and focus, the overall game balance remains mostly the same regardless.