Monday, August 20, 2012

AWDS Match-Ups Part 6: Eagle

We now get a strategy of persistence from a very persistent CO: Eagle.

With Eagle we're back to working around your standard triangle. As Eagle you have a bland land front, a strong airforce that conserves its fuel, and a marginally weaker navy. Since navy is fairly rock-paper-scissors-ish to begin with, for all intents and purposes you lack a weakness. There are also plenty of COs with your strength, sans fuel conservation, so you're not too unique on that front either. Your real strength comes from your CO powers.

Unlike most COs you will not be using SCOP much, if at all. All it does is occasionally give you a second move for non-soldiers with the default boost, with at least four or five turns between uses. Instead you will focus on Lightning Drive, which cuts firepower (but not defense) in half before adding in the default boost, making it a lot more powerful than it has any business being for 3 stars. Multiple moves is a bit like spam without actually spamming anything: You get a single unit to do the work of two. Well, one and a half and you still have counterattack damage from the previous move slowing you down. Point is, you're hurting your opponent more than the other way around, and you're bringing your reinforcements up twice as fast during this time.

There is a little mini-tactic you can also employ to speed up the reinforcement process: When you're ready to fire off COP, don't buy any Infantry. Buy them after you've moved your vehicles off of your forward bases.

VS Grit
One thing you may have noticed by now (if you're actually playing these match-ups) is that it's pretty easy for Grit to take a unit count advantage. Unit count isn't really the issue for him due to the cheap build: it's his ability to gain ground. He loses it faster than he gains it, and Eagle's fight with him is no exception.

Your main method of dismantling Grit's force involves throwing units at the wall with reckless abandon. This assault should start with Recons and gradually progress toward Tanks and Copters with the occasional Md Tank. The goal is to charge your meter as quickly as possible. You generally will not hit the Artillery at first, and Grit may produce Copters and AAs occasionally, significantly reducing your unit count. But without Recons and Tanks to gain ground, Grit will almost never progress beyond his established line, giving you plenty of opportunities to bum-rush his units. You'll charge Lightning Drive every second or third turn, and each time you use it is an additional shot you take at Grit's line. Every time you punch through and destroy an Artillery, Grit must pull back a space or two and consolidate.

Your front line will mostly not consist of soldiers, so each time you push Grit back it's easy to start taking funding advantages. Because of the sheer force of your units slamming Grit's line with these double moves, you can afford to tech up every now and then in order to do more damage. Even though they'll probably be destroyed by the Artillery very quickly, a single Md Tank can blast an Artillery and damage another with the help of Lightning Drive and force Grit to consolidate even more than normal. Taking even one of Grit's forward bases marks the end of the game since at this point you'll be able to easily keep unit parity with him; since you can can Grit's ass with a smaller force, no further guide is necessary.

VS Javier
Without towers, Javier is in a similar plight to Grit when fighting Eagle. While neither you nor Javier gain appreciable firepower or defense, you consistently gain additional moves while Javier does not. So while Javier pursues a similar unit build to yourself, your build receives the benefit of attacking twice, moving reinforcements sooner, and making room for more of your regular reinforcements to be built on forward production facilities. Javier must be content with the occasional 110/110 stat boost and an even distribution of reinforcements arriving in a normal amount of time, which is to say all but those units on forward bases are arriving more than twice as slowly as yours. It doesn't take much to push him back as such.

Since some may find it relevant, I will touch on odd-numbered tower matches for once. In a 1 tower match, with the tower presumably in the center of the map, it's a race to get the firepower (and for Javier, defense) boost. Javier cannot get here faster than you can, and once the fighting starts you still totally out-class him and will have no trouble seizing the tower. This is why I typically skip this and the 3 tower match.

In a two tower match you face J1T. This time he has appreciable firepower and defense that you must overcome, but neither is match-up changing. Meanwhile, you possess the same offense as he does day-to-day, and your units are somewhat stronger during Lightning Drive since the offense cut is calculated prior to other boosts. As such, you maintain the ability to mercilessly pound on Javier's forces with COP, perhaps scaling back during his SCOP due to the defense discrepancy. (It adds up to a 70 point difference with your Tanks doing 23% damage to his with your COP against his SCOP.) Whether you do or don't, you'll still find it easy to push him back until the funding difference gives you a tech advantage that makes this cease to matter.

In a four tower match, force ranks may become necessary at your discretion. As with any other J2T match, it comes down to who captures the other's tower first. (This is why even though J2T's stats are comparable to Kanbei's he can still be defeated by lower tiers, hence why I never list Javier with towers as a separate entry on the tier list. His status at each tier is too unstable to effectively classify.) This fight is tremendously difficult since J2T gains a free turn with each SCOP, but with you slamming him day-to-day it is possible to snag a tower first. At that point the match reverts to a J1T match.

VS Lash
As I have explained previously, Lash only occasionally gains appreciable defense and never gains appreciable firepower. Even when she hits SCOP, you are still more than capable of taking her forces apart by repeatedly hitting COP. Rush forward, blast her before her reinforcements arrive, and push her off of her natural expansions. Again, speed allows you to be a poor man's spammer: unlike every other CO in the game, the vast majority of your units are on the front line fighting, meaning you can have a significantly lower unit count and continue putting up a decent fight. Push your advantages, and Lash crumbles quickly.

VS Jake
Jake produces better, more consistent firepower than Lash, but that's it. While generalists have an advantage over other COs, Jake tries to be a generalist in his powers as well, and this lack of focus lets COs like yourself to tear him apart with relative ease. Rush forward, blast him, and push him back.

VS Sasha
Sasha has two advantages: better maintenance of a tech triangle, and slowing down of CO powers. Your COP is 3 stars and comes at the end of the turn. It cannot be slowed down. Your units are all are the front anyway, so you can afford to tech up and have a lower unit count. You completely nullify both of Sasha's advantages by existing. Rush, blast, push back.

VS Luck COs
As usual, these COs will randomly devastate your front line or leave it relatively unscathed. You will always and more frequently destroy their front line. Why do I use "devastate" for the luck COs and "destroy" for Eagle? Because, again, 75% of your units are concentrated at the front while that number is 50% or less for every other CO in the game, not to mention yours can attack twice. Rush, blast, push back.

VS Adder
While Jake was technically your first encounter with movement, Adder is your first encounter with it as a focus. Adder can move every unit, including soldiers, significantly faster than most other COs. Now you may not affect soldiers at all, but your vehicles are so much faster than Adder's that the point is moot. Your forces are balanced with vehicles saturating the front with soldiers bringing up the rear: unless you're hauling them up with T-Copters, Eagles soldiers will hardly ever be on the front lines. This is why soldier movement for Adder doesn't matter, because his soldiers will be competing with vehicles rather than other soldiers. Rush, blast, push back.

VS Koal
Similar to Adder except for the firepower. Regardless, every fact I laid out for Adder applies here: Koal is fast, you're faster. Your force balance is so drastically different that his boost to soldiers just doesn't matter. Rush, blast, push back.

VS Andy
Andy is a little faster, has consistent firepower, and he can heal his units. Problem: you have double attacks and a better concentration of vehicles. Andy can't heal often enough to keep you from killing units, and you can continue killing units even when he does heal. Whatever units you have can and will rush forward, blast him, and push him back until he has nowhere left to fall back to.

VS Grimm
With his firepower, Grimm can destroy your units as much as you can destroy his. The problem, of course, still comes down to positioning: more than half of your units are up front, and more than half of his are not. It's a perfect example of why Eagle can do what he does: even with a lower unit count, you only have to destroy the units at the front to keep moving forward. The enemy cannot move forward because the majority of the front line must be destroyed, which in Eagle's case would be the majority of your units on the battlefield.

I have in the past mentioned Grimm's advantage with soldiers. Like the movement COs, this matters little against you as Grimm's soldiers will not often interact with your own. Grimm is also not helped by his low defense, which helps to alleviate the firepower cut you receive under COP. Rush, blast, push back.

VS Max
Similar to Grimm without the useless (against you) advantage and no weakness. Max lacks some of Grimm's firepower day-to-day, and still has no answer to your concentration of units. Firepower boosts are insufficient to stop an opponent who can hit you twice (firepower) and continue moving to the point of pushing you back faster than you can answer.

VS Jess
I've already explained why firepower is insufficient: it can't handle the unit concentration. I've explained why movement is insufficient: Jess is fast, you're faster. Jess has firepower and movement, and not even the two of them together overcome your total advantage.

VS Sonja
The main advantage your opponent has here is one of defense. Sonja can take any match-up of the same unit or more favorable and receive the first strike on SCOP. Her SCOP comes shortly after your COP, and the two will probably never interact. So while you partially lose a turn, you make it up every time you fire off COP. Sonja still does nothing to prevent the first round, and subsequent rounds consist of you trading blows with her and making up the turn she steals from you.

VS Drake
We're in your tier now. Drake will not hit you as often as the other way around, but mass damage will hit you hard. He can't hurt you like he can other COs if you've just used Lightning Drive, since any units that are still on bases are probably soldiers. A skilled Drake player will be aware of this, though, and he'll try to BS his way into his first SCOP before you can light off your second COP. If he manages this he will cripple your front line, but it also opens the door for you to pull off COP twice in a row.

This is where unit management becomes important. You see, Eagle may not be able to move rear-line Infantry up faster, but he can produce them on the front line. In fact you can leave bases open once you finish buying vehicles every single turn if you want to, because building forward Infantry on Lightning Drive takes about as long as hauling them up from the back anyway on larger maps. This goes a long way toward reducing your vulnerability to Typhoon, and lets you maintain as powerful of a front line as possible while you work to drive Drake back.

VS Hawke
The nice thing about this match-up is that you can usually get off two COPs before Black Storm. Unfortunately, while Hawke's SCOP may come slightly later its affects stacked up with his day-to-day means he hits hard. The tricks you used against Drake are even more important against Hawke, and like Andy you'll want to try and ensure kills so that damaged and near-death units don't start reanimating. You both rely on a strategy of making fewer units go farther, so make sure you manage your units well enough to keep your quantity and quality better than his.

VS Olaf
As usual, this match-up is your biggest worry. He doesn't heal his units, but his bar is as long as Drake's and he hits even harder for longer than Hawke. Your strategy is the same, but the threats are different. Don't agonize over kills if you can do more damage by attacking the whole front, as this will hurt Olaf's ability to exploit Winter Fury much more in the long run. When dismantling his triangle, attack the Tanks first. You can kill his Copters with your own easily enough, so you'll have more Tanks to deal with Olaf's AAs. As stated earlier, you have an easier time maintaining your Tank and Copter force than he does since you can afford to skip rear-line Infantry on large maps.

On the subject of Infantry skipping on large maps, I wouldn't recommend skipping mid-line Infantry. While rear-line skipping lets you maintain a better front, if you skip all of your Infantry all the time you aren't going to have enough of them to secure captures and wall up.

VS Von Bolt
This match-up presents two major problems: Von Bolt's defense and unit freezing. It doesn't seem like much, but these two combined let him play the slow and steady game against you. You'll want to do a little less of the Infantry skipping this time, as the large mass of triangle units you produce are just asking to get wiped out by Ex Machina. You'll get two COPs off before the first Ex Machina, and you should use them to eliminate enemy Tanks. Done correctly, Von Bolt's ability to tear you a new one come Ex Machina will be somewhat reduced, and you'll survive its usage. Keep up the pattern and you'll eventually push Von Bolt out of the center, and it will be downhill from there.

VS Rachel
Like Von Bolt, but she trades power and freezing for bringing more pain more frequently. Use your normal forward build since there's no freezing to worry about; you can deal with pain at least. There's no defense to worry about, so Lightning Drive will have its normal effectiveness. Get mixed in with Rachel's forces as much as possible to confuse the missiles and redirect them; done correctly you'll walk right through her. Done incorrectly, she'll walk right through you, so don't slouch!

VS Kindle
Unlike the other mass damage COs, Kindle cannot destroy your front line. Unlike the others, she is COP-dependent like you and fires off just as often. As such your production strategy has the potential to backfire if she tries to BS her way into firing off first. This match is going to come down to who can fire off first the most often: if you manage it, she'll only damage Infantry; if she manages it, you're going to lose a lot of funds very quickly.

VS Eagle
The vs self match again. This is very similar to the Kindle match in that it comes down to which one of you can fire off first more often. Remember that the enemy Eagle player has the same unit balance you do, so unlike every other CO in the game you will be fighting a force that is concentrated toward the front. Whoever breaks through first wins.

VS Sami
While you rush vehicles to the front, Sami rushes souped-up Mechs in equal quantities. As stated in the previous post, expect a Copter rush to accompany this. Don't waste any money on AAs; if you attack a Copter with your own and attack again on COP you'll kill it in one turn. You'll get in at least two COPs before Sami lights off Victory March, so use that time to blast her back and away from your stuff. If you survive the first Victory March you've pretty much got this in the bag; if not, continue until you manage it or until Sami kills you.

VS Kanbei
You need the money forces, Combat Pay included, to have any hope of winning this. Produce T-Copters and Infantry as fast as you can and pray to God you out-expand Kanbei enough to withstand Samurai Spirit. Use the money from Combat Pay to buy extra units on your Lightning Drive turns and do some poor man's spam. The goal is to do as much damage as possible between Samurai Spirit uses and minimize the damage Kanbei can do with it.

VS Colin
Use the same forces as with Kanbei. Despite the advantages you gain, Colin can still tech up faster than you, so your ability to smack him around on Lightning Drive is still very important. Gather up as many funds as possible and spam during extra turns.

VS Sensei
Soul of Hachi can't help you in this tier because your SCOP is too specialized to make good use of it, so you're stuck with the money forces. With the minor spam you pull during COP combined with the double attacks, you should be able to pull off a near-even unit count. The biggest problem is Sensei's early expansion which we covered in his article. You're no Hachi, and if you can't bust through this quickly enough you're pretty much done.

VS Hachi
Not possible. Even with forces giving you spam and extra moves, you don't have a good counter to half-price Black Bombs and Megatanks.

Final Notes
While not as specialized as Sami, Eagle is very much a one-trick pony. While it's a hell of a trick, it has some disadvantages within his own tier and prevents him from using certain forces to their full potential higher up. The unique balance of units he brings to the board and the poor man's spam he can pull serves as an example of what a balanced version of spam could look like if Intelligent Systems just beta-tested better based on community reviews of the past games.

Coming up next is Kindle, the first in a series of six articles in which we cover the effects of mass damage far more in-depth than we have so far.

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