Tuesday, July 10, 2012

AWDS Match-ups Part 1: Intro & Hachi

In this series of posts I will be focusing on one CO at a time, discussing all of their single-CO match-ups and how best to approach them. This is because if you're new to the game or just not that great at multiplayer, it's easy to miss the advantages that get the COs ranked where they are.

A couple notes to start with: I will not be talking about Tags. If I do, it will be in a different series. I will touch on same vs same match-ups, but since they depend on map layout and player skill more than any other match-up don't be surprised if they get a bit repetitive. Occasionally I will insert clarification notes in italics in between match-ups, since everything a CO can do doesn't necessarily belong in a general overview. Lastly, lower ranked COs will only get strategies against higher ranked ones where force ranks are involved; and since these can sometimes radically change a CO's strategy, those sections may become a bit lengthy as I will have to give a rundown of totally new capabilities that CO does not normally possess. That said, let's start with Hachi, starting at the bottom and working our way up.

Hachi's primary strategy is based on mass production and tech. You will rarely use Barter and instead focus on Merchant Union. The reasoning for this is that even once you've bought as much high cost stuff as you can afford, you can still waste the rest on a bunch miscellaneous shit to bolster unit count, and Merchant Union gives you the production slots to do it. It also follows the general principal of SCOPs being superior to COPs as a result of the charging system. Of course, you should use any CO power at any time if you have something to gain, but the point is that for Hachi you just don't have much occasion to use Barter except (and sometimes even) at the worst of times.

Never tech above Recons outside of SCOP (unless T-Copters are called for). This will let you bank for the best possible tech spam when Merchant Union fires off.

You usually want Black Bombs if possible, Megatanks if not. When you've gotten good enough to know which situations these two units are less useful in, start experimenting with other air units and lower-tech tanks at those times. In any naval fight just buy whatever fixes your rock-paper-scissors problem. As Hachi you also have the option of bringing in a Fighter to handle your anti-air needs for a good long while; it's unlikely your opponent will get one of their own considering the other damage you'll be doing.

If playing in high funds (the game option, not the property count), Hachi may lose his tech advantage. This is not terribly concerning, as Hachi will always be able to out-produce opponents unless every property is a base for some odd reason. Your match will probably devolve into a slug-fest -and often a Black Bomb fest- but you'll probably still win.

VS Grit
This match-up is impossible to lose as long as you keep your focus on Directs, like any other CO. There are still some pitfalls to avoid, though.

Assuming your opponent goes for a Grit Wall strategy, avoid the obvious pitfall of spamming AAs. Except for roads, AAs are not guaranteed to oneshot Infantry and don't deal enough damage to Artillery to stop them from putting out some pain. While you can still win, it's quicker and less frustrating to just use Tanks until Grit whips out Copters, and even then one or two AAs is sufficient.

If there are airports, build Black Bombs when you fire off SCOP. Grit is at his best when huddled in choke points, and Bombs are best used against said huddles. Any remaining funds should go toward as many Md Tanks and Tanks as you can afford.

If the map has no airports, Megatanks are the next best thing. They won't deal the mass damage you want, but it will still punch through Grit's wall until its health gets taken down a good chunk, which combined with the above spam is more than enough to do what you need to do.

On the off chance that Grit tries to integrate Directs into his strategy... well, what can I say? Hachi's most basic strategy is tech spam, so just do that. Grit tries Recons, spam Tanks. He tries Tanks, Spam Md Tanks. Pretty simple.

VS Javier
Javier0T can be countered with any Direct spam you feel like, with the added benefit of not having to worry about him ever powering up to any great degree.

Javier1T makes things a little more interesting, but not by too much. Even if tower distribution isn't equal, the biggest worry is moderate defense, which can be overcome with moderate tech. B-Bombs as always, but Md Tanks also work in the absence of airports.

Javier2T finally makes things interesting and gives us a preview of the upper tiers. B-Bombs are still useful, but you will definitely want to invest in a Megatank or two for the land front. This is because you still need some big guns to punch through his SCOP defense, which would otherwise make him more-or-less immune to post-power-weakness. Since his units are generally superior to yours with no weakness, this fight is actually a challenge until you can steal one of his towers. That is unless...

Javier3T is created from one of your towers getting stolen. I say this because if there are enough towers for both sides to have three, it's pushing the border of outrageous and I doubt anyone would actually try playing it. Once this happens, continue the J2T strategy, but take it up to eleven. This Javier is invincible on SCOP when at full health, or even less depending on the terrain he's occupying. Continue using Black Bombs while attacking with Megatanks, but be mindful of Javier's combined SCOP and terrain defense: if you attack when his units still have 200+ defense, you're wasting ammo and taking unnecessary damage. This is probably the hardest match-up in the game, even for Hachi, so the best advice I can give is this: Don't let Javier get to this point!

VS Lash
This is the first CO who, by default, can threaten you with Direct defense, and to a lesser degree Direct firepower. Like Javier0T, Lash should not present a challenge for your teched up force. The biggest problems you may run into are movement and defense. If the map is heavy on the terrain, Lash might try out-maneuvering you, particularly if there are no air units to contend with. Again, high tech units have the defense to cope with this. As for her defense, she can give you difficulties if she parks on one of your cities during SCOP, but that's assuming she even gets that far. (Besides, "doubling" the terrain defense on a city is equivalent to her having 140 defense before parking on the thing after the default boost, so she's like a weaker J1T in this regard.)

VS Jake
Basically the opposite of Lash: instead of inconsistent defense, you get inconsistent offense. He has a movement boost for vehicles, but beyond that isn't too hard to bulldoze with superior units. You can mostly ignore his Indirect boost, since he will never exceed Grit's day-to-day range; and you already know how to deal with that anyhow.

VS Sasha
She'll try to tech up with her SCOP and may attempt to slow down your own. Sasha has no abilities beyond this and won't be able to compete with your tech spam once your units hit the field.

VS Luck COs
Let's face it, there's not enough difference between these three to merit their own sections. That being said, these three can be a threat at any skill level, luck permitting. Day-to-day, Flak and Jugger get better averages and are thus the bigger threat. Nell is the biggest threat when it comes to SCOP, as she can only score positive and pretty much any unit can score good damage against anything else. Fortunately the mayhem is random and Hachi has Old Reliable on his side. Tech spam is your friend, as usual.

VS Adder
For Hachi's purposes this is Javier with movement. You'll have to put up with an annoying +1 or +2 movement now and then, but other than that it's nothing tech can't take care of.

VS Koal
Think of this as Jake with a better movement boost and a more common terrain bonus. Koal will be able to harass you in much the same way as Adder, but like that CO won't be able to handle your tech once those units hit the field.

VS Andy
Andy has more limited movement than his Black Hole counterparts, but also has that very annoying healing power. However, because of how your SCOP works your Black Bombs will usually be timed such that they will either strike after Hyper Upgrade fires off, or Andy will just have to hold off. Either way you'll score some free kills before he has a chance to heal, taking down that all-important unit count.

VS Grimm
Grimm is a bit annoying to deal with outside of your SCOP binge-spending. His units will pretty much annihilate your Recon/Infantry force in the early game, and because of his own low defense his powers tend to charge quickly. If you're confident in your ability to use and protect them, spamming Neotanks can help you do some damage over the long-term. Grimm can't really hurt them, and they'll shred his units like wet paper.

VS Max
Max is exactly like Grimm except for footsoldiers, and presents the same potential threat without the weakness. It's usually a good strategy to send out a Megatank backed up by Tanks after SCOP. The Megatank can soak up damage and deal out good counterattacks while your Tanks mop up. You'll almost certainly lose the Megatank, but Max will have to spend such a disproportionate amount of money killing the thing that it will be worth it.

VS Jess
Jess has less firepower than the last two, but she is much more mobile. Approach her like you'd approach Max, but expect her to try flanking you when her SCOP rolls around. If it ever becomes relevant, also be aware that her aircraft are pretty much immune to running out of fuel and must be shot down by your own units.

VS Sonja
Oddly enough a step down in difficulty for Hachi. This is because you'll be teched up enough that the first strike counterattacks shouldn't trouble you any further than the first use (when you may or may not have had a chance to fire off Old Reliable).

VS Drake
Drake's fog may give you some minor slowdowns, but it shouldn't be a major hazard for you. The effects of mass damage are a problem, but Drake doesn't compound it enough to make it an issue for Hachi to stress over. Just try not to let it hit you right after you've bought a bunch of expensive units.

VS Hawke
As with any CO facing him, you'll need to keep track of Hawke's force size to make sure you're relatively higher on the health scale compared to him. Hawke's strategy is constriction, and he's one of the best COs at pulling it off. Since your SCOP is so disjointed with his, this will prevent you from getting money-locked from massive repair bills on your expensive units; and no, Hachi is not immune to money-lock if you play carelessly. If your SCOPs do line up, let Hawke fire off first. You have a better day-to-day, you can afford to wait.

In addition to mass damage and healing, combining the default boost with his daily boost gives Hawke appreciable firepower. While this isn't exactly on the level of a firepower CO, it's still something you should be mindful of. Watching a Megatank get hammered by Tanks due to your own carelessness is about as embarrassing as it gets, even if you did get it on the cheap.

VS Olaf
He's about as dangerous as Hawke for similar reasons. Healing is replaced with a greater emphasis on firepower that can be cause for concern if you're not being disciplined with your tech.

Olaf isn't too threatening day-to-day unless you have random weather on, and even then not much more than a firepower CO. Winter Fury can hit right after Merchant Union if you're watching the power bars, so once again make sure you're not standing there with a bunch of expensive units sitting on your cities when the dumb thing hits. Money-lock breaks your production for a turn, essentially turning your spam advantage into an Achilles Heel by means of your stupidity. Again, you have the better day-to-day, so if Winter Fury is around the corner then just wait it out before using your SCOP.

VS Von Bolt
Von Bolt is your first legitimate threat. Spam tends to have less impact if you can't move the damn units. It doesn't help that Von Bolt shares Hawke's benefit from the default boost, gaining appreciable firepower in addition to the damage and paralysis. You may be thinking that your B-Bombs are a free pass, but remember that Von Bolt's SCOP basically is a B-Bomb with paralysis and slightly less damage.

Paralysis effectively lasts two turns since you don't get to move the units until Von Bolt has had two turns to tear them apart or ignore them. To minimize damage, do a Tank spam with a Megatank like you would with a firepower CO, but move the Megatank away from most of the Tanks. This way Ex Machina can only hit one group, leaving the other to continue doing its business while you wait for the paralysis to wear off.

VS Rachel
If Von Bolt got the equivalent of a free B-Bomb on SCOP, Rachel basically gets 3 weak ones. Unlike facing Von Bolt, you can afford to wait for Rachel's SCOP for two reasons: your day-to-day is just plain better since Rachel doesn't have one, and your SCOPs are right next to each other on the charging scale. This is one match-up where you may want to ditch the "no tech above Recons" principle and just play normally. This gives you the option to out-last Rachel until she must fire off her SCOP, letting you follow up with Merchant Union to bounce back with slightly higher tech than before. Rachel doesn't really have a way to deal with opponents who can shrug off her missiles like this, as her daily stats are basically bland.

VS Kindle
Kindle can fund-lock you pretty easily if you're careless. However, her strength is in a 3 star COP while yours is a 5 star SCOP. Using the same strategy as with Rachel, just hold off using Merchant Union so you can bounce back from Urban Blight. You can out-tech Kindle on a daily basis, so you'll be fine.

VS Eagle
We now have a massive tactics shift from attacking your economy to an economy of force. Eagle has the ability to blow away your Recon/Infantry force with his first COP, but he will probably charge Merchant Union as a result. Once you've introduced tech into the equation, Eagle lacks the firepower to bring down your high tech units. Since his units tend to be very concentrated toward the front, Eagle is particularly vulnerable to Black Bombs. Megatanks backed up by Tanks also work very well, as per usual.

VS Sami
Sami's massively overpowered Mechs can be troublesome on land maps, and as I've said elsewhere she is a surprisingly good air CO because of these Mechs. Sami is a problem for you in spite of your numerical advantage, because her tactic is just that good. B-Bombs can help offset Victory March shenanigans, but you'll never completely escape it. The more fronts there are, the better her advantage.

Here's where the logic gets a little backwards. Normally Sami's Mechs make her exempt from "lol AAs." But since Hachi can spam, that's exactly what you should do: exercise tech discipline and just spam the hell out of AAs. There's no way she's going to answer these without Tanks, and you'll have blown away most of her Mechs and Copters by the time she gets them out in numbers. As stated in the overview, you are also able to build a Fighter or two pretty cheaply, so use one to maintain air superiority after your AAs die. Once you force her to whip out land vehicles it's pretty much over for Sami, because yours are just plain better. You should probably limit yourself to doing this just once, and switch to Megatanks backed up by Tanks afterward.

VS Kanbei
This match-up is the reason the Megatank tactic was invented in the first place. To take down Kanbei enough to deal with his SCOP, Megatanks are a must, preferably backed up by a B-Bomb. This takes several goes to get the desired effect, but after a few beatings with this tactic you'll gain some ground and eventually have leftover funds to get some Tank spam in with the Megatank and Bomb. Let me warn you, this is a slug-fest no matter what, and there is no quick way to beat Kanbei.

The reason this works is because Kanbei relies on Samurai Spirit to gain a free turn. Since you can still attack him with a Megatank and B-Bombs during this time, you can subject Kanbei to post-power weakness, which is normally a distant concern for him. He'll also waste more funds than most COs taking out these Megatanks, which hurts him even more having to replace the units lost.

VS Colin
Against Colin, your Megatank build will be somewhat less effective as it doesn't waste as many of Colin's funds. You may want to try the Neotank tactic again to project firepower over a larger area instead. You will have to build at least one Fighter for every airport Colin owns, because he will spam air units if you give him a chance.

Because Colin can tech up faster than you on a daily basis, you'll rely more on force of spam than force of tech for this fight. Yes, he'll have Md Tanks while you have Neotanks usually, but that's no reason not to try and mob him if you get the chance. If you try the Megatank strategy, back it up with Md Tanks, because those are probably what Colin will attack it with.

VS Sensei
Sensei can be a problem for Hachi, because as Hachi you are used to having the numerical advantage. Sensei is the one CO who beats you in this department.

Against you, Sensei is most likely to rely on SCOP to counteract your tech. This will not be like the Sami match-up: Sensei's Mechs may be damaged, but they are free, and killing them recharges the bar. You are not going to kill Sensei with tech save for B-Bombs. Use a Recon/Infantry force as normal, but always buy a B-Bomb before buying anything else on Merchant Union. Failing that, buy as many Megatanks as possible; support them with whatever you can buy with the leftover funds. If you can slam the wall of units hard enough before Sensei's SCOP wears off then you have a decent chance. The biggest problem you may encounter is that Mechs not near the front line will probably combine and start making a boatload of cash, essentially making him a poor man's tech CO as well. This fight is neither easy nor quick.

If Sensei starts building Copters then build Fighters, not AAs. Sensei uses neither funds nor bases to make these Mechs, and a swarm of AAs will be slaughtered by the Tanks he's actually buying.

Don't be surprised if Sensei occasionally lights off COP just to keep you busy. Like you, he is able to use sheer force of "fuck you" to stall for time while he gets the real attack together, and like you this is often his main tactic.

Lastly, remember that cities are deadly weapons for both of you. In all previous match-ups a lost city is a slight loss of income, but here you're handing Sensei another free unit and more money going into the real army. Each city you take is one more unit you can build and one less you have to deal with each time Sensei SCOPs.

VS Hachi
Approach very much like Sensei. As the test of skill that this is, you simply cannot pull any punches. B-Bombs and Megatanks with appropriate accompanying spam is the order of the day. Like the Sensei match, cities are vital for both of your SCOPs, and for your purposes might as well be bases. You must out-spam and out-tech someone who is trying to do the same with the exact same tools.

Final Notes
Playing with Hachi offers many insights into the basic mechanics of the game and why things work or don't work. Since tech sort of doubles for firepower and defense, in one CO you get to see the full range of power in the game. You get to see why Directs are king, why defense trumps firepower, why bounce-back capability is so important against mass damage, and why unit match-up changes so affect the game. Hachi is at once the most powerful and most educational CO, and playing him for any length of time is a good way to improve your skills at the game in general.

Thank you for reading. Next up will be Sensei.

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