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Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Tips

This page is a work in progress as I am mainly focused on completing mission guides.

General Tips

Advance Wars is a turned based game. This type of game gives you plenty of time to asses the situation and plan out your strategy. It also gives you plenty of time to consider what your opponent will do on their turn.

This is my list of general tips that I have learned from my time playing the Advance Wars series. These tips will serve you will in almost any mission with any objective. A lot of these strategies will carry over into other turn based games as well.

Keep Moving Forward

Missions are usually designed in such a way that you are intended to always move your units “forward.” Forward is normally toward the enemy HQ, but could also mean toward the main enemy force or objective. You generally do not want to keep your forces back.

Try to attack from the “forward” side of an enemy. All other considerations equal, it’s best to attack an enemy from the side that is closest to their main force or HQ. This will keep your units moving forward.

Don’t leave units back. New units that you have built back at your Bases/Airport/Seaports should be moved toward where they are needed. Don’t leave them idle back at base.

Anticipate Your Opponent

Always keep in mind what your opponent is going to do on their turn. The AI in this game is not complicated enough to change it’s mind or react to your playstyle. You will eventually be able to anticipate what the enemy will do.

Learn how the AI thinks. Most of your fights will be against the AI. Learning how to manipulate that AI will help considerably in tough fights. Refer to the AI Manipulation section below for some starters.

Control the situation. Once you know what the enemy will do, the whole fight is up to you. Make them do the things you want and stop them from doing the things you don’t want.

Plan Out Your Turn

Since Advance Wars is a turn based game, you have all the time you need to plan your turn.

Make obvious plays first. Some actions just feel so obvious that there isn’t much thought. Capturing properties, a unit has only one enemy it can reach, etc. Taking these first means you won’t have to worry about them as you plan the rest of your turn.

Decide which unit is best for which situation. If multiple units can attack an enemy, decide which one will fill the role better. Keep a mental note of where each of your units is going to go, but be ready to change that plan if you find a better move for them.

Move units out of the way. Sometimes your units will be blocking the perfect spot for another one of your units. Try to move the blocking unit first so that you can move your other unit after.

Reset the turn if you could do it better. If you realize partway through a turn that you messed up, an enemy wasn’t destroyed when you expected it to be, or you could just do something better, you can always reset that turn. Do so from the menu. There is no downside to resetting your turn and you can do it as much as you want.

Only Take Fights That Are Advantageous

No matter if you are in a pre-deployed scenario or choosing which units to build, taking fights that are worth it will serve you well.

Know unit strengths. Every unit has a specific role it is intended to fill and units it is intended to counter. Learn what a unit is meant to counter and try to use it in that way. For example, Anti-Air are obviously great at fighting enemy air units, but they are also great at taking out Infantry and Mechs.

Know unit weaknesses. Once you learn what a unit is good at, don’t let the enemy use them like that against you. Keep your vulnerable units safe from their counters. Use your other units to take out enemies a unit doesn’t do well against.

Be aware of how much damage you will take in return. Direct-fire units counter attack other direct-fire units after they have taken damage. Be aware of how much damage you are likely to take in return when initiating a fight. For example, a Mech can deal some damage to a full health Medium Tank, but will take a lot of damage back.

Learn the Value of Units

Advance Wars has a diverse set of units, all of which bring different strengths to the fight. learn what each unit can do and know how it plays into your strategy.

Keep your enabling units safe. Units like Infantry, Mechs, Landers, and Transport Copters bring value to a fight other than just dealing damage. If these units enable your strategy (like capturing the enemy HQ), then they are of greater value than just their military strength.

Know how much units cost to build. In missions where you build your own units, knowing the monetary value of a unit will help with decision making. Try to make the enemy lose more money in a fight than you do.

Avoid Overkill

Any extra damage that you would deal to a defeated enemy is lost. This lost damage often could have been more effective somewhere else.

Strive for perfect kills. Try to deal just enough damage to defeat an enemy.

Remember that the number shown on a unit is an approximation. The number shown is their real health percentage divided by 10 and rounded to the nearest number. An attack that deals 45% may be enough to destroy a unit with a health number of “5.”

Be Aggressive

Most missions in Advance Wars reward aggressive gameplay. Keep up the attack against your opponent and stay on offense.

Capture properties as you move forward. You will benefit from capturing properties in both pre-deployed missions and missions with unit construction. Keep a few Mechs or Infantry right behind your forward force to capture property as soon as you secure it.

AI Manipulation

The game uses an Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make decisions for non-player controlled units. This AI follows a specific set of rules that it does not deviate from. If you do the exact same thing in a fight, the AI will respond in the exact same way every time. Since the remake took most of the random rolls out of the game (Nell and Sonja still have random outcomes), most missions are deterministic.

  • Enemies prioritize APCs, Transport Copters, and Lander
    • The AI will try their best to destroy your transport units first, even if they are not loaded
    • You can use this fact to protect your much more important units
      • Ex. Absorb a hit from a Battleship or Rocket
      • Ex. Pull an enemy Medium Tank into your Rocket’s range
  • 2 health is the healing breakpoint for the AI
    • If an enemy unit is at 2 health, it will retreat to the nearest allied property to heal, if possible
    • If a unit is above 3 health, it will not retreat
    • Once it reaches a healing property it will stay there until fully healed
    • It MAY attack if it doesn’t have to move off of the healing property, but not always
  • The AI will not move units back to let other stronger units in
    • As long as a unit is 3 health or above, it won’t retreat
    • If the AI knows that the fight isn’t worth it (but it can’t get past it), it will just move the unit adjacent to it instead
    • This can block the enemy’s other units from getting advantageous fights
      • Ex. A 3 health enemy Tank won’t attack a Medium Tank on a Bridge, and will block others from attacking too

Normal & Hard AI

There are two types (at least) of AI in this game. When playing through the Casual and Classic campaign, almost all missions will use what I refer to as the “Normal” AI. In the Challenge Campaign, War Room, and some of the later Classic difficulty missions the game uses what I refer to as the “Hard” AI.

Here are some of the differences I have noticed so far. I haven’t done the research into them yet that I need to to list every difference, so this list is a work in progress.

Normal AI

  • Sends enemies at you with very little concern
    • Will not account for your units or what you could do on your turn
    • Will send units into range of your indirect-fire units even if there is not upside in doing so
  • Doesn’t seem to like using Landers
    • There are a few missions (Ex: 18A – Captain Drake) where the AI is given Landers, but doesn’t use them
    • This is a change from the original game, and makes some missions play out much different than the original
    • This means that you can’t wait for the AI to load ground forces into them and then take them out for increased value

Hard AI

  • Considers positioning
    • Will block you from attacking their indirect-fire units by positioning direct-fire units
    • Will not move into range of your indirect-fire units unless there is an advantageous fight
  • Does use Landers
    • The first example I found playing through the campaign was 23 – Enigma
    • Coincidently, this is the first mission that uses the Hard AI on Classic difficulty
    • If you can catch loaded Landers, you can get some huge value on their destruction

Fog of War

Fog of War is not present in all maps. It stops you from seeing enemy units unless you have vision on them and similarly stops them from seeing you. This leads to intricacies in Fog of War that are not present in other missions.

  • Turn on animations
    • If you normally play without animations, consider turning them on
    • This will let you see the tile type that indirect-fire units are attacking from
    • You will also see what unit is attacking you in case you lose vision due to your unit’s destruction in the fight
  • Listen and watch during the enemy turn to gain intel
    • You can hear the sound of all actions
    • The camera will move to the general position of the unit when it takes an action
    • Sometimes units will pass through your vision range, even if they do not stop or start within it
  • Check for enemies using the Trap mechanic
    • You can move your units on specific paths
    • If they attempt to move through a tile that an enemy exists, they will be Trapped and lose their turn
    • Use this to find where enemies are, canceling the movement and trying a different path if needed
  • Moving units still costs fuel, even if you cancel
    • Since you can use units to scout, the game includes a disincentive to doing so
    • This
  • AI is affected by what order you do your turn since it determines what they can see
    • If the AI loses vision, it will not know what is happening in an area
    • This can make subtle changes to their decision making

Advanced Tips

Don’t Line Up With Your Destination

If your unit is headed to a particular tile, avoid being directly north, south, east, or west of that spot. Being lined up means you have only one direction you can go to reach that spot. If you are in line, it only takes a single enemy to body block your unit and slow you down. If you are not in line, a single enemy cannot block both directions.

For example, if the tile you want to reach is 3 north, the only way you can get there is by going 3 north. An enemy only needs to be in that path to stop you. Alternately, if the tile you want to reach is 2 north and 1 east, you can get there by going 2 north and then 1 east, 1 east and then 2 north, or even 1 north, 1 east, and 1 north. There is no one tile an enemy can stand that would block your unit from reaching its destination

This tip applies mainly for air units, as they generally have a lot of movement options. However, it also should be accounted for in open areas for land and sea units too.


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