The next tier of Tags has been put on hold pending the release of the next version of Custom Wars: Tactics. In the meantime, I've been given the task of figuring out how to work Skills (or Force Ranks) into The Idiot's Guide for AWDS.
As you may recall, last year I did a post on why ranking Skills is problematic due to the sheer number of combinations. However, while talking with JSR I realized that I don't really need to approach it the way I described. It's the same problem that initially slowed down the Tag guides: approaching every combination like its own unique entity. Yes, you can do this, and if possible you should do this, but once you get above a certain number you just can't do this. Pokemon fans realized this a long time ago, and it's time that I started taking some cues from them. It wouldn't be too hard to re-do the Tags like this, but my test run will be on a Skills guide.
You have 43 Skills in this game, with up to 4 per CO; it's actually quite similar to a Pokemon move set in that sense (hell, the COs even have levels at which they "learn" the Skills). Because there are similarities, it might be more practical to adapt the Pokemon community's own evaluation techniques here. This could be done in two steps. First, "The Idiot's Guide to Skills" would briefly elaborate on general trends, including some campaign-specific Skills which are basically useless in competition. Second, we would return to the original CO articles and go over some effective Skill sets of note. I say "of note," because as stated earlier some Skills are useless, and some are near-universal in application; an easy example would be the Money Skills.
Given what happened during the Battle Reports series of 2011 and 2012, I don't expect that Skill sets will change tier ranking based on "potential" as they do with Pokemon, particularly given that every CO can have the exact same Skills (which would change nothing). We already know from practical use that Skills are only useful as handicaps, and that is how I will approach them for the most part.
If at any time you wonder what the point of this is, remember that Custom Wars: Tactics is not simply a recreation of Advance Wars. We do intend to make balanced version as well, such as my Dual Strike 2.0 proposal. Making the Idiot's Guide as comprehensive as possible will make it easy to see where the design flaws are, and what can potentially be added, improved, and cut. There have already been a lot of ideas bounced around for how to re-do Skills, including a straight Pokemon-like system which keeps Dual Strike's leveling system, a Skill set unique to each CO with the Skills themselves gained at particular levels, and maybe even generic stat boosts upon gaining a level as well. This all has a purpose, even long after Advance Wars itself is no longer actually played.
Thank you for reading.