Advance Wars: Dual Strike Walkthrough

The Black Hole army is at it again, and this time they're attacking Omega Land! GameSpot's Walkthrough to Advance Wars Dual Strike will give you all the tips you need to bring victory to the Allied Nations.

By: Matthew Rorie
Design: Collin Oguro

Advance Wars: Dual Strike is the latest in Nintendo and Intelligent Systems' series of turn-based strategy games. As in the previous titles, you'll be tasked with defending the world from the evil Black Hole army that's sucking the energy from Omega Land. Under the command of new CO's, including the spunky Rachel and thoroughly loathsome Jake, the Allied Nations must rise up and, as Jake would say, totally pwn the Black Hole armies before they run amok over the continent. Werd, son.

Anyway, Advance Wars: DS is arguably the most feature-filled of any of the Advance Wars games thus far. In addition to the dual-screen interface, which lets you move units with the stylus and examine stats and information while retaining the customary view of the battlefield, there's also numerous scenario-style battles, in which you can either challenge yourself to win as efficiently as possible, win without spending more than a certain amount of cash, win in a certain amount of time, or so on. For the purposes of not going crazy trying to include every single thing in this guide, though, we're going to focus on describing the various CO's that are available to you, give you some general tips to work with, and guide you through the normal campaign mode. Enjoy! If you're looking for more info on a specific part of the game, please check out the Advance Wars: Dual Strike page on Gamefaqs.com.

CO's

This section is just a little rundown on all of the different CO's in the game. You can always find more information on each of these by checking the Info segment on them when selecting CO's before a mission.

You're only able to use around half of these CO's in the campaign, although they're all selectable in Battle Room, Survival, and other gameplay modes. Many of them start the game locked, though; to unlock them, you'll need to perform some deed in the Campaign, then buy them from the Battle Maps shop. Sasha, Grimm, and Javier can all be unlocked by beating mission 20 in the Campaign; all the rest are unlocked by completing the campaign's final mission. Von Bolt is the only exception; he can only be unlocked for play if you beat the Hard campaign.

CO Ranks: As you play with a CO in battles, they'll earn experience. After they earn 1,000 experience, they'll go up in rank. This doesn't directly affect their abilities in battle, but it will allow them to use better force abilities. These are different than CO Powers; force abilities are assigned on the CO Screen before a battle begins, and give all of that CO's units passive boosts throughout the battle. These boosts can be relatively modest, such as letting all APCs have extra armor, or they can be quite powerful. Some of the most powerful force abilities can only be purchased in the Battle Maps shop, and some have to be unlocked by winning the Campaign on Hard mode.

Orange Star CO's

Jake

CO Power Requirements: Three for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Beat Down - all vehicles can fire from one more space away, and all units have increased firepower on plains.
Super CO Power: Block Rock - vehicles can fire from one more space away, and move two more spaces in a turn. All units have significantly more firepower when firing from a plain.

Jake is going to be the central CO in the game's campaign mode, or as he would put it, he's the man now, dog. Word? Although the pimp talk is going to get pretty tiresome after, say, the third mission, you'll have to put up with it, or just skip past it if you want to get down to the fight. He's going to be pretty useful on levels with a lot of plains, obviously, but his units won't get much of a benefit from fighting on roads or forests or any other kind of terrain, so you'll need to carefully place them in order to take advantage of his abilities.

Rachel

CO Power Requirements: Three for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Lucky Lass - improves her luck ability, which will give each unit's attack a chance to do extra damage.
Super CO Power: Covering Fire - launches missiles from off the screen onto the densest concentration of enemy troops, dealing severe damage.

In World War III, we're laying even money on the Japanese forces being led into battle by teenagers plucked off the streets - it seems like every Japanese game that involves saving the world has the charge being led by tweens and barely pubescent young men. Rachel is a somewhat mysterious example of this, having been tasked with commanding the Allied Nations in Omega Land despite...not being very good? You're not likely going to want to use Rachel very much during the campaign, as her units have no special attack bonuses. When a unit returns to a base or city to heal after being damaged, it will get three points of healing per turn instead of two, but that's not exactly something to throw a parade over, and is more of a defensive ability than something that'll really help you win games quickly.

Rachel's SCOP (super CO Power) is kind of handy, in that it can take an entire army of enemy troops down to two or three health, but is most useful on smaller maps where the enemy forces are likely to be concentrated. On larger maps you'll probably either already be well on your way to winning by the time this power becomes available, in which case it's not going to be able to help you kill anything, since it can't bring a unit below one health, which will leave you with a group of roadblocks that you'll still have to plow through in order to win.

Andy

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Hyper Repair - restores two health to all units, gives small bonuses to offense and defense.
Super CO Power: Hyper Upgrade - restores five health to all units and increases unit movement by one space. Big bonus to offense.

Andy, the primary Orange Star CO from Advance Wars 2, returns in Advance Wars: DS as a selectable CO for the non-campaign games. He's not exceptional in any area of combat, but has no real weaknesses, either.

Max

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Max Force - Increases offensive abilities of all non-infantry direct combat units.
Super CO Power: Max Blast - Greatly increases offensive abilities of all non-infantry direct combat units.

If you want to throw down the fisticuffs, Max has Jack Johnson and Tom O'Leary ready for you!

Max is going to be your sledgehammer for much of the campaign, as his planes, tanks, and choppers all get an extra 20% attack power, and do almost double damage with his SCOP. He's a good choice for almost any map, but watch out for his indirect fire units, like the artillery and rocket launchers; they have a firing range that's reduced by one space, making it much more difficult to use them properly.

Sami

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, five more for super.
CO Power: Double Time - Infantry units can move one more space and gain increased attack power.
Super CO Power: Victory March - All foot soldiers can move two more spaces per turn, gain a large attack bonus, and can instantly capture enemy facilities, even if they're wounded.

Sami is not someone you want to use as an everyday CO; her affinity for the rank-and-file infantry is admirable, but you're rarely going to be using them in combat when you have tanks and planes available to you. Although they do capture enemy cities 50% more quickly than they do with other CO's, that's still two turns when they're at full health.

The real use of Sami comes with her SCOP, which can let you capture an enemy HQ from ten or more spaces away when used as part of a Tag Team power. The basic strategy is to have Sami as the secondary CO, activate your Tag Team, then send an APC towards the enemy base and unload your infantry. When you flip over to Sami, you'll be able to move the infantry onto the HQ and capture it in one turn, instantly winning the mission. This doesn't work on all campaign maps, and is spotty to pull off on fog of war maps since you won't know whether or not there's a unit on top of the enemy HQ, and it's likewise difficult to fill up Sami's CO meter all the way if she's never the active CO, but when you can pull it off, it's quite handy.

Hachi

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, two more for super.
CO Power: Barter - Cuts cost for all units in half for one turn.
Super CO Power: Merchant Union - Cuts unit costs in half and lets units be deployed from any allied property.

Hachi gets a blanket 10% discount on units - not quite as much as Colin's 20% reduction, but then, Hachi doesn't have to deal with the 10% attack power penalty that Colin does. What's more, when you get Hachi's power meter up a bit, you'll be able to pump out units for half of what they originally cost - pretty sweet.

Nell

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Lucky Star - Increases the chance that her units will strike with more firepower, and increases the maximum possible amount of damage that can be added.
Super CO Power: Lady Luck - Increases the chance of extra damage and greatly increases the maximum possible amount of damage that can be added.

Like Flak and Jugger, Nell can sometimes add a bit of damage to her units attacks - up to 15% on a normal, non-CO Power attack. Unlike those fools, she stands no chance of actually reducing her units' attack power instead, so she's a bit more consistent on the whole than the Black Hole army CO's.

Green Earth CO's

Drake

CO Power Requirements: Four stars for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Tsunami - Deals one damage to all enemy units and reduces their fuel by half.
Super CO Power: Typhoon - Deals two damage to all enemy unts and reduces their fuel by half. Produces rain (which turns on fog of war) for one full day.

Drake's your man in any naval engagement, as all of his naval units will get a 20% attack bonus. Unfortunately, this is balanced by a 10% reduction in the offensive capabilities of your air force.

It's also worth noting that Drake's CO Powers are absolutely devastating against enemies that aren't bringing along APCs or Black Boats to refuel their armies. Losing half of all their fuel will cause many vehicles to stop moving, and things that burn a lot of fuel, such as cloaked stealth fighters and submerged subs will sometimes crash before they can get refuelled.

Jess

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Turbo Charge - Vehicles can move one more space and attack for more damage. All vehicles are restored to maximum fuel and ammo.
Super CO Power: Overdrive - Has all the benefits of Turbo Charge, but vehicles get to move two extra spaces if they wish and can deal significantly more damage.

If you're building up a massive tank army, then Jess is probably your CO of choice; all of her tanks, rockets, and artillery units get large bonuses to offense, but planes, choppers, and sea units will all have small penalties to their attacks. On ground maps this isn't a big deal, though, so use Jess if you plan on cranking out the neos.

Javier

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Tower Shield - Improves defense against indirect attacks and doubles the defense bonus gained from capturing com towers.
Super CO Power: Tower of Power - Greatly improves defense against indirect attacks and triples the defense bonus gained from capturing com towers.

Javier is your com tower and defensive expert. Although his units don't gain any particular bonuses or penalties, all of the units will be able to defend themselves against indirect attacks 20% better than those of other CO's. He's also the only CO that nets a defensive bonus from com towers. If you need to build a wall and hold back a flood of enemies, then get yourself some com towers and activate his CO power on the turn before they attack! If you're going on offense, though, there are better choices than Javier available to you.

Eagle

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, six more for super.
CO Power: Lightning Drive - all non-infantry units can move twice in a turn, but their attack power is cut in half.
Super CO Power: Lightning Strike - same benefit as Lightning Drive, but without any offensive penalties.

Eagle is going to be your air force maven, with all of his aerial units having increased firepower and using less fuel. Naval units will be weakened, but you'll rarely be building any of them if you're focusing on the air force.

What makes Eagle really special, though, is his SCOP. Although it takes a full nine stars to charge up, when you do get to trigger it, you'll be able to take two turns in a row, one normal, and one following the trigger. If you use this at the beginning of a Tag Team, then you'll be able to pull off three turns in a single day, which should flip the balance of power in almost any encounter.

Blue Moon CO's

Olaf

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, four more for super.
CO Power: Blizzard - causes snow to fall for two days, which increase the attack power and defense of his units and causes the enemy to burn more fuel.
Super CO Power: Winter Fury - Same effects as Blizzard, but also causes two points of damage to all enemy units.

Olaf's units get 20% bonuses to attack in the snow, and isn't affected by snow fuel penalties. So, yeah, use Olaf when it's snowy, but you can avoid him for all other engagements.

Colin

CO Power Requirements: Two stars for normal, four more for super.
CO Power: Gold Rush - Current funds increased by 50%.
Super CO Power: Power of Money - Increases attack power by roughly 3% for each 1,000 funds in your stash. This can result in the highest offensive bonus of any CO Power if you use it when you have a good amount of money.

All of the units under Colin's control are 10% weaker than they'd normally be, but he gets to purchase units for 20% less than any other CO, making him an ideal CO when you need to build multiple expensive units like neotanks or bombers. He pairs well with Sasha on most campaign maps, thanks to their high tag team affinity.

Sasha

CO Power Requirements: Two stars for normal, four more for super.
CO Power: Market Crash - Decreases the power meters of enemy CO's. The more money you have, the more their powers will be reduced.
Super CO Power: War Funds - You gain money for dealing damage to enemy units. The more damage you deal, the more money you make!

Like her brother Colin and other superstar rappers, Sasha's powers mostly revolve around cold, hard cash. Her passive ability lets her get an extra 100 cash from each base or city under your control, which isn't really all that impressive, since it's only a 10% increase, as compared to Colin's 20% increase in buying power. She, however, doesn't have any offensive weaknesses like her brother.

Market Crash is going to be one of the most useful CO Powers available to you in large, complex battles.

What you're mostly going to want to use Sasha for, though, is her Market Crash power, especially when you're dealing with enemy Tag Team powers. Market Crash will drain stars off of the enemy CO Power meter when used, with substantial reductions in Power coming when you use it with a lot of money in your stash. If you know that your foes will eventually be whipping out a powerful Tag Team power, then save up your money and use Sasha's ability at the end of one of her turns. Having 20,000 cash on hand will push back the Tag Team ability for a couple of turns, at least (depending on how much fighting there is after you pull it off), while waiting until you have 40,000 or more will almost completely drain a six-star meter. Just be sure to use the power after you've attacked with all of your units, and hold off on building new units until after you've triggered it.

Grit

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Snipe Attack - All indirect units increase their range by one space and gain a large attack bonus.
Super CO Power: Super Snipe - All indirect units increase their range by two spaces and gain a substantial attack bonus.

Grit is going to be a very situational commander. Although his ability to extend the range of your indirect attack units is massively useful on certain maps, the fact that all of his other vehicles, ships, and airplanes will have a 20% offense penalty is a pretty big mark against him when the enemy closes in. Still, though, if you're good at flipping your CO's as called for, and can back him up with a CO that's capable of ground combat, then you should be able to put his abilities to good use, especially on indirect-heavy maps like Circles of Fire.

Yellow Comet CO's

Kanbei

CO Power Requirements: Four stars for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Morale Boost - Increases firepower of all units.
Super CO Power: Samurai Spirit - Large increase to firepower and defense for all units. Units deal double damage when counterattacking.

Kanbei's a great CO to use if you absolutely have to have more power - all of his units gain a 20% bonus to both offense and defense. Of course, they all cost 20% more than they would for other CO's, but if you can get Colin to build units and Kanbei to take them into battle, then you're ahead of the game already!

Sonja

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, two more for super.
CO Power: Enhanced Vision - all units have one extra vision space and can see into forests and shoals. Reduces enemy terrain effects by two.
Super CO Power: Counter Break - Has all the benefits of Enhanced Vision, but reduces enemy terrain effects by three. If her units are attacked during the turn after activating Counter Break, they'll attack first during the combat instead of second.

Sonja is decent enough, but won't really be effective enough in battles to be worth using over your other possible choices. She's decent in Fog of War battles, but if you know how to manipulate the Fog of War rules, then you probably won't need her abilities there.

Sensei

CO Power Requirements: Two stars for normal, four more for super.
CO Power: Copter Command - B Copter attack power increases, and an infantry unit with nine health will spawn on each allied city.
Super CO Power: Airborne Assault - B Copter attack power greatly increases, and mech units with nine health spawn on all allied cities.

Sensei's claim to fame is that his B Copters have 50% increased attack power and that all transport units (APC, lander, T Copter) have an extra movement space per turn. All naval units will take a 10% offensive penalty, though.

Sensei's CO powers can add a number of units to the battlefield, which will help increase your technique score. If you wait for his SCOP to trigger, then you'll get mechs instead of infantry, and will actually be able to do some damage! He makes a good partner for Sami in these cases, especially if you can build them up to a Tag Team; Sensei's power will let you construct a huge number of new units and move them on his turn, and then you can move them even further on Sami's turn and capture anything they land on instantly.

Grimm

CO Power Requirements: Three stars for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Knuckleduster - Increases the attack power of all units.
Super CO Power: Haymaker - Greatly increases the attack power of all units.

Not much to say about Grimm, save that he's a heavy hitter. All of his units get 30% bonuses to their attack power, but suffer a 20% reduction in defensive capabilities. He's thus kind of a "win more" CO; if you have superior units, he can let you wipe out enemies in one hit, but when you're slugging it out, your units will die more quickly when your enemies attack. It's usually better to stick to CO's like Hawke if you need mild attack bonuses without the defensive penalties.

Black Hole CO's

Von Bolt

CO Power Requirements: Von Bolt has no normal power, and requires a full ten stars to get his super power.
Super CO Power: Ex Machina - Deals three damage to all units in a large area and prevents them from moving or attacking on their next turn.

Von Bolt is only unlockable in the Battle Maps store after you beat the Hard Campaign. When you do that, you'll be able to buy him from the shop and use him in battles. All of his units have a 10% bonus to their attack and defense.

Hawke

Although it takes a long time to build, Ex Machina will allow Von Bolt to dismantle enemy armies with minimal effort.

CO Power Requirements: Five for normal, four more for super.
CO Power: Black Wave - All damaged units regain one HP, and all enemy units take one damage.
Super CO Power: Black Storm - All damaged units regain two HP, and all enemy units take two damage.

Despite the relatively mild benefits from his CO Powers, and the fact that it takes him an incredibly long time to charge up his power meter, Hawke is still a good choice as an everyday CO, at least on fronts where you expect to get into battle with numerous unit types. This is due to the fact that he has a 10% attack bonus to all units, across the board, without any weaknesses like those of Grimm or Max.

Lash

CO Power Requirements: Three for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Terrain Tactics - All units can move through any terrain (that they'd normally be able to pass over) for one cost per space.
Super CO Power: Prime Tactics - In addition to the lower movement cost, all of Lash's terrain offensive bonuses are doubled.

Lash is kind of a mixed bag when it comes to being effective on the battlefield. She gains an extra 5% power for each defensive star that a unit of terrain offers, meaning that she'll get an extra ten percent damage when on a forest square, 15% when on a city or a mountain, and so on. Planes and choppers are immune to this effect, since they don't gain the benefit of terrain defense. It's a modest gain, really, especially compared to the 10% bonus that Hawke gets for all of his units.

Flak

CO Power Requirements: Four for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Brute Force - Gives a chance for a large increase in firepower, but might also decrease firepower.
Super CO Power: Barbaric Blow - Greatly increases firepower...but might also decrease it even more!

Basically, Flak's powers will either result in a big bonus to his effective firepower, or will actually make a unit do less damage than it normally does. He also has this as a passive effect all the time, with units generally doing more damage than they normally do...but you really don't want to hit a penalty when you absolutely need to kill something, do you? Flak is generally considered to be the worst CO in the game, so don't bother paying for him unless you're a completionist.

Adder

CO Power Requirements: Two for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Sideslip - All units are allowed to move one more space per turn.
Super CO Power: Sidewinder - All units are allowed to move two more spaces per turn.

Not much to say about Adder. His units get no particular bonuses or penalties. You'll be able to use his CO Powers fairly often, since he charges his meter more quickly than does any other commander. They're balanced with that in mind, though, since they don't add any offensive capabilities to your units besides the blanket +10% offense and defense.

Jugger

CO Power Requirements: Three for normal, four more for super.
CO Power: Overclock - Units either get a large attack bonus or a decrease in attack power.
Super CO Power: System Crash - Units have a chance to get an even larger attack bonus, or an even larger decrease to attack power.

Jugger is almost identical to Flak in terms of his random and unpredictable attack bonuses. You'll thus usually want to avoid using him, and instead pick someone who's a bit more consistent.

Koal

CO Power Requirements: Three for normal, two more for super.
CO Power: Forced March - All units gain one extra space of movement, and increased attack on roads.
Super CO Power: Trail of Woe - All units get two extra spaces of movement, and greatly increased attack on road tiles.

Koals' special ability allows all of his units to do slightly more damage than normal when they're on road. Obviously, a huge bonus that no one can live without, etc etc.

Kindle

CO Power Requirements: Three for normal, three more for super.
CO Power: Urban Blight - Increases the firepower of units that are on urban tiles, such as cities, bases, airports, and so on. Also does three damage to all enemy units on urban tiles.
Super CO Power: High Society - Gives a large bonus to offensive power of units on urban tiles. The more bases you control, the larger the bonus is.

Kindle's ability to passively increase the attack of units on bases will make attacking her units a foolhardy exercise while they're parked on an urban tile; they'll all get a blanket 40% increase whenever they're on top of a property tile. This vanishes as soon as they actually leave these tiles, of course, making her less than an offensive juggernaut. Urban Blight is a decent offensive power, due to the fact that it does three damage to all enemy units on urban tiles, but you'd better attack quickly, or they'll all be resupplied at the beginning of the next turn!

General Strategies

Using Fog of War

One of the more challenging aspects of Advance Wars: Dual Strike lies in mastering the Fog of War system that the game incorporates and using it to your advantage. In Fog of War challenges, all units will have greatly restricted vision, meaning that they won't be able to spot enemy units until they're right on top of them. Most units will only be able to see one space on either side of them, with tanks, infantry, and air units being slightly better. Recon units are your friend on Fog of War maps; their ability to see five spaces in all directions will be a big help in scouting for enemy units. After all, you can't attack what you can't see.

This last notion comes about with the "trapping" mechanic. On a Fog of War map, if one of your units passes through a darkened area over a space occupied by an enemy unit, it will be "trapped." This instantly stops your unit's movement and prevents them from attacking on that turn, thus letting the enemy unit get the first shot at the unit on their next turn. Even if you don't run into the unit, you won't be able to see it unless you have a unit within visual range of it; if a tank stops one space away from an enemy mech, then, it'll have to stop in order to extend it's visual range from the stopping point. What all that basically means is that you can't order your units to fire on an enemy unit that you can't see, even if you happen to know precisely where they are. You need to either move an expendable unit up next to it, then move in a heavy hitter, or use a recon unit to expose the front for all of your big guns.

Since the enemy units here can only see units on their sides, your blue units are perfectly safe here - unless there's a recon unit you can't see.

Also note that forest squares prevent anyone from seeing into them, no matter how far they can see. A recon unit sitting a couple of spaces away from a forest won't be able to penetrate the murk. If a unit is sitting directly next to a forest square, however, then it'll be able to see into that one square; air units are also capable of seeing into forests normally. Forests are great places to hide your units in preparation for an ambush.

The flipside to all this is that the same rules apply to the computer; if they can't spot you, then they won't be able to attack you. The conceptual caveat to wrap your head around here is that even if you can see your enemies, they may not be able to see you, and vice versa. Even though you may feel all tricky and evil by making sure that your units are out of visual range of their megatanks, they might still have a recon unit just out of sight that's exposing all of your own units to the harsh light of day. Still, though, in the absence of any better information, you can usually assume that most of your enemy's units have the one space of sight alloted to them, and thus won't be able to spot you unless they wind up right next to you.

You can take advantage of this by simply retreating a bit when you spot enemy units coming your way. If an enemy unit rams up next to your own unit on one of their turns, all you need to do to become invisible to it again is move it out of its visual range, which in the case of most tanks means moving your unit one square up, down, left, or right. If the enemy wants to hit you, they'll have to find you again, which means that they'll have to forfeit an attack, since they won't be able to see you. This is of course assuming a one-on-one battle, which are fairly rare, but trapping units and dancing with them in the dark is a handy way to stall them while you bring reinforcements up to deal with the invaders.

Always Check Movement Info

If you can see an enemy unit, you can always check how far it's capable of moving and how far it's capable of attacking by either tapping it with the stylus or holding down the stylus on top of it. (The same functions can be performed with the A or B buttons on your DS.) The more useful of these abilities (although they're tied together somewhat, especially for direct-fire units) is the attack range display, which will show you precisely what area in which a unit can attack. For direct-fire units, this will be one square larger than their movement range, while indirect fire units will display a grid of squares in which they can fire on their next turn.

Knowing how far your enemies can move and attack will have a huge impact on your own movements. If you know that an artillery unit is within attack range of an enemy neotank on your next turn, you can choose to move it just out of that attack range, or retreat even further and try to make the edges of the artillery's firing range congruent with the furthest edge of the neotank's movement area, in the hopes that you'll be able to hit it if it moves as far towards you as possible. The enemy AI is pretty smart about staying out of your indirect unit's firing range, though, so you may need to bait them with sacrificial units in order to set up your own attacks.

Speaking of which...

Bait And Switch!

Checking the attack ranges on your artillery units will let you know how far they need to go to hit your enemies.

When dealing with enemy indirect fire units, it can be difficult to position your own units to allow them to rush in and attack. While neotanks might be able to move six squares a turn, and should be able to move in to attack most enemy indirect fire units if it can wait just outside their firing area, then rush in on the next turn, the enemy does the exact same kind of calculations that you do with your units' firing and movement area, so they're likely to try and move their long-range units out of your neotank's attack area on their next turn, leading to a frustrating process of chicken in which someone has to blink first. If you move your neotank into the firing area, you'll get pounded, but if they attempt to be aggressive and set up a shot with their indirect fire unit, the neotank will come in and destroy it. Neither of you will find these options very palatable, which can often lead to a stalled front in which you have to sit still until someone manages to find a way around the stalemate.

One of the easiest ways to avoid these encounters and prevent enemy indirect units from retreating out of your attack range is to give them something to fire at. If you have, say, a neotank just outside of an enemy rocket's attack range, then that rocket will always retreat to prevent you from moving in and blasting it. If, however, you park something expendable, like a recon or a tank, inside the rocket's attack range, then it will prefer to attack the expendable unit, even if it knows that it'll get pounded by the neotank on its next turn. By offering up a sacrificial lamb like this, you'll be able to keep the rocket immobile in exchange for very acceptable losses. In fact, most land-based indirect units won't be able to kill a recon or normal tank in one blow, allowing you to move them back to a base or city for resupplies. Your neotank should be able to kill either an artillery or a rocket in one shot, or at least neuter it to the point of inefficacy. (Note that we’re just using neotanks as an example here; their six movement and upgraded firepower makes them the best ground unit for this kind of operation.)

You can also do this kind of thing with direct-fire units, as well, if you wish. For example, if you see an enemy neotank coming towards your army, and you want to line up some indirect fire to rain on it before it can do too much damage, you can park a recon unit in its path, and move your indirect units so that they'll be able to fire on the spaces around the recon. The neotank will pop in to attack the recon unit (assuming that it can't find a weaker unit inside its attack range; it will pass up the recon if it can get to an artillery, for example), forcing it to stop, and allowing you to pound it on your next turn. If the recon unit survived, you can, again, pull it back for repairs.

So, just knowing the attack and movement radius of all enemy units (and your own), will be a big help in deciding how to proceed on the battlefield. While a bit of recklessness is sometimes called for, and even rewarded, mastering the intel that's available to you will allow you to make informed decisions and prevent your units from rushing headlong into certain defeat.

Campaign Mode

There are two Campaigns in Advance Wars: Dual Strike, a Normal Campaign and a Hard one. We're going to try and get you through the Normal campaign in this walkthrough; completing it will test your strategic skills and give you a good amount of preparation for the battles in the other gameplay modes.

Notes On Ranking

After each mission, you're going to earn a rank that describes how well you did, with S being the highest score you can get. This ranking is affected by your scores in three separate categories: power, speed, and technique.

Power is a measure of your army's lethality. To increase your score here, you'll want to destroy as many enemy units as you possibly can, preferably in a short amount of time. If you use a CO Power or a Tag Team to wipe out most of their army in one turn, you should be able to get a 100 Power score without a problem.

Technique is determined by your ability to keep your units alive. The more units you lose, the lower your technique score will be. Fortunately, this is measured as a percentage of the total number of units that you've built, so when you're about to beat a mission, build numerous cheap units at your bases to boost your technique score somewhat.

Speed is, obviously enough, predicated on how quickly you complete a mission. You'll need to quickly and efficiently proceed towards your objective if you want to get a good speed ranking. If you attempt to sit in your base until you have enough cash to build megatanks and then slowly march them across the map, you'll probably have an easy time winning (unless your opponent takes over the entire map and beats you in funds), but your speed score will suffer.

A mixture of all three of these scores will determine your overall ranking for a map; you need to get above 280 or so for an S ranking. That doesn't include bonus points that you might earn for destroying ooziums, black crystals or obelisks, or minicannons.

At the end of the campaign, you're awarded an overall ranking for the campaign based on an average of your scores for all 28 missions. On the normal campaign, it's not too difficult to earn an overall S ranking, even if you happen to get a few less-than-perfect scores along the way. Just smash the heck out of the first dozen or so campaigns as best you can so you can absorb the A's and B's that will pop up later in the campaign.

Note also that your ranking doesn't really affect anything besides some minor unlockable stuff in the Battle Maps shop. If you're not concerned with that, then feel free to ignore it!

Mission One: Jake's Trial

Objective: Destroy all of my units to win. Good luck!
CO: Jake
Enemy CO: Rachel

The first mission of the game is a straight tutorial, where Rachel will offer up a few of her units for the slaughter in order to get Jake up to speed on the mechanics of the game. This shouldn't be too difficult to do. If you want to earn the maximum amount of experience from this battle, then be sure not to let any of Jake's units get destroyed.

You possess a Mech, a Tank, and an Infantry unit at the beginning of the fight, while Rachel will be fielding two Infantry units and a Tank. On your first turn, move your Infantry onto the neutral city nearby and begin the capturing procedure. Then, move your Mech forward into the forest near the enemy tank and take advantage of the cover there to open fire. This should let you bring the tank down to four hit points, which will make it an easy target for your tank to polish off.

On your second turn, go ahead and finish capturing the city your infantry is in. One of the enemy infantry units will likely have moved forward into the woods near the central city, so attack it first with your mech (they'll take damage, but shouldn't die), and then finish it off with your tank. The other infantry unit will be capturing another city here. Although they have good defense, they'll still be ripe for the picking if you send in your tank. Try to keep your mech unit out of their movement range, though, as they'll probably be weak enough to die at this point. Anyway, your own tank and infantry should be able to polish off the enemy infantry in another turn or so, earning you max points and an S ranking.

Mission Two: The New Black

Using your artillery, you'll be able to pound the foes here without facing a counterattack.

Objective: Destroy all enemy units to win. You must keep the infantry unit alive!
CO: Jake
Enemy CO: Jugger

On the first turn here, get your infantry into the APC, then start moving the APC towards the HQ in the lower right corner of the map. This will get the wounded unit well out of harm's way, which is good, since it has to survive for you to win the round. At the same time, start moving your tank up to the northwest, so that it can cross the bridge and eventually take on the enemy tanks. In the meantime, you do have two artillery units across the river from the enemy tanks, so start shelling them as they approach your northwestern city. Only one of your artillery units will be able to fire on your first turn; the western artillery should move one square to the right. That way, it'll be able to fire on Day 2, rather than having to wait until Day 3. Keep in mind that artillery units can't move and fire in the same turn, though. If you leave them next to each other, though, with one on the city and one on the square just to the left, then you should be able to reduce the enemy down to a single half-health tank unit by the time they escape.

By the time Day 4 rolls around, the enemy tanks will likely be out of range of your artillery, but your own tank should be approaching them. Try to get the drop on them if possible, and you should be able to finish them off with ease.

Mission Three: Max Attacks

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units to win. Good luck!
CO: Max
Enemy CO: Lash

The first thing you'll notice here is the presence of a Black Bomb, a special Black Hole unit which can deal a good amount of damage to any unit within three or four squares of it when it explodes, and explode it will on Lash's first turn. Although it won't kill any of your units, and you'll be able to join up the damaged helicopter units after they've been hit, the best way to proceed here is to spread out all of your helicopter units on the first turn, to prevent the bomb from hitting more than one or two of them when it detonates. If it does manage to hit two choppers, and it probably will, you can still combine them together to give you four full stacks, which will be more than enough to take out the enemy units, or at least protect your HQ until you manage to capture the enemy city.

Spreading out your units will let you preserve most of your helicopters from the black bomb blast.

Also on the first turn, move the Mech that's in your city down one square, and move the artillery in your HQ over to the eastern city, where it'll be able to sit behind your helicopters and shell anyone across the bridge. Even though Max isn't all that great at indirect fire, this is still essentially free damage, since none of the enemies on the other side of the bridge will be getting past if you just park a couple of helicopters on top of it.

After your first round, the bomb will detonate and the rest of the Black Hole troops will begin to advance, so be sure to move any nearby helicopters on top of the bridge to prevent them from passing over it. Load up your T Copter with one of your Mech units and start heading towards the enemy HQ, which will be left undefended.

The only units that really stand a chance against your choppers are the Md Tanks, but even they shouldn't stand up to the brunt of your assault. Some of the smaller tanks may attempt to return to their HQ if you move towards it too rapidly, so you may want have your T Copter hang back until all of the enemy forces are committed at the northern bridge before dropping your troops off on top of the HQ. Alternately, you can drop the troops off, then park your T Copter on top of the bridge leading to their HQ to prevent the enemy tanks from passing over. It'll take them at least two turns to destroy it, and even if it dies you should still be able to get the full 300 experience points.

Mission Four: Reclaim The Skies

Objective: The missile is closing in! Destroy all enemy units within 30 minutes to win!
CO: Rachel
Enemy CO: Jugger

Don't worry too much about the missile; unless you play at a glacial pace, this battle will be over and done with within ten minutes at the most. The air forces that Jugger is bringing to bear will be a much graver threat, and it'll be quite difficult to exit this battle with all of the units that you start with.

On your first turn, you do have two units within firing range of your enemies. Use the missile launcher on top of your northern city to destroy the B Copter, then use your rocket launcher to the east to pound the tanks on the central isle; you won't kill them, but you'll deal enough damage to render them more or less inert. With that done, use your anti-air vehicles to kill off the southernmost fighter (you'll have to use two of them to finish it off), and have the last remaining AA unit move up and pound the bomber. Again, it won't die, but it'll be severely weakened, leaving only one full-strength for your enemy to really use.

Now, before you end your turn, take note of the fact that the missile launcher can't fire on enemies that are too close to it; if you want to make use of it next turn, you should probably move the units around it south one square each. One of them will be killed by the fighter jet, but if they all get moved south from where they start, this should mean that the fighter will wind up being far enough away from the missile launcher for it to fire on the fighter on your next turn, which will instantly kill it. That's planning ahead!

During the same turn that the fighter moves north, the bomber will likely move over to engage the rocket launcher, or follow the fighter north to engage the missiles. No matter; in its reduced health state, it won't do much damage. Use your AA vehicles to track both it and the fighter down, and destroy them both to end the mission.

Mission Five: Neverending War

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units to win. Good luck!
CO: Rachel, Jake, or Max
Enemy CO: Koal

This is going to be your first real mission, in the sense that you'll finally be able to choose your own CO, use CO powers, and deploy units from bases. Before you begin, you'll need to select your CO. Any of your three choices here are probably going to be all right. If you love building tanks, then Max might be your best choice, but any of the CO's available to you are going to be capable of winning this battle handily.

Luckily for you, you start this mission generating 7,000 funds a turn thanks to the number of cities and bases that you have under your control. Indeed, you have no fewer than two bases at which to build units, while your opponents have none. They do start with more units than you do, however, so you'll need to quickly start your construction to balance the map. There is a neutral base in the southern portion of the map, but the enemy forces don't seem to go after it, so don't worry about it overmuch.

You begin this map with only two Mech units, so you'll probably want to build a tank or two at the northern base; the enemy mechs will be advancing to the west in an attempt to capture the cities there. Go ahead and let them have the cities, though; without a base to use the funds that they generate, they won't do much for them, and if you can build up a tank and artillery force, they won't be able to take much advantage of the resupplies that they offer. Don't cross the bridge, though; let them come after your town before attempting to take out the mechs. As Rachel tells you, moving onto the northern city will cause the Md Tank on your enemy's HQ to move out and engage you. If you took her suggestion, you'll have one or two artillery units on the bridge or just behind it to try and tag the tank when it comes out.

Do your best to prevent the enemy from grabbing the base here.

Don't forget, however, that the mech units of your enemy's can attack units on the bridge, or even bypass the bridge altogether by walking into the river and attacking from there. They'll pound your artillery units if given the chance, so you may want to build up a force of tanks on the western side of the river and wait for one of the mech units to go after your city before fording the river and pounding them. The Md Tank will come out from the HQ if you're within one square of its attack range (and don't forget that Koal can increase its movement range on roads with his CO power), but if you retreat back across the river, it'll return to the HQ, allowing you to set up your forces again before luring it out for the kill. It'll also retreat if it happens to take damage, so head in for the kill when this occurs.

It's best to take it out after it moves away from the HQ, though, as there's also an enemy artillery unit hanging around their cities which can be tough to corner and kill. You might want to try moving a tank across the southern bridge while you're engaging in the northern half of the field and put the squeeze on the artillery unit from two sides; otherwise it'll continually move out of range of your incoming tanks and hurt your Speed score for the map. Regardless, you're more likely to kill all the units here than capture the enemy HQ, so squeeze it into a corner while staying out of its firing range, then move in for the kill.

Mission Six: The Ocean Blue

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units to win. Good luck!
CO: Colin
Enemy CO: Sasha

Now that the Blue Moon CO's have arrived to back you up, they'll request to lead an engagement with the enemy, and this naval battle is just the thing to get Colin back in the swing of things. Although it appears that your forces are evenly matched, with a little finesse you should be able to destroy the enemy forces without losing a single unit.

The first real threats to your reign are the enemy cruiser and the enemy rockets. The cruiser will devastate your B Copter and sub, while the rockets will be able to fire from long range at any of your ships that approach the Black Hole island. Use your battleship and your own rockets (on the central island) to destroy the cruiser, since they're both within range of the ship, then move your B Copter off the coast of the Black Hole island and start pounding on the rockets there. You won't kill them, but you'll wound them enough to polish them off next turn. Leave your cruiser where it is for the moment, and use the lander in the northwestern corner of the map to bring down the infantry and artillery units there, moving them across to the central island. The artillery will be handy in case any enemy units get close to shore (which is unlikely, but still), while the infantry can start capturing the cities for resupply purposes. The last unit to move is your sub; just push it as far to the east as it'll go, but be sure to submerge it when it's done moving, or it'll get hit by the enemy rockets and battleship. Try to make sure that none of your troops are within range of the enemy battleship and rockets before ending your turn.

On the enemy's turn, they'll likely shuffle around the units on the southeastern island to get the rockets away from your helicopter, but that won't help them much. They'll also likely submerge their submarine (note where it goes down), and either move their battleship into firing position, or just fire it if they can. If they fire on one of your ships, you'll be in trouble, but they probably won't be able to kill anything outright if you've been following the instructions above.

If you can take out the enemy sub, then the battleship should soon follow.

When it's your turn again, use your B Copter to finish off the enemy rockets, if you haven't done so already, then move your sub forward to engage the enemy battleship. It should be able to bring its health down by half and also hurt its offensive abilities; just be sure that the sub isn't immediately off the coastline of the enemy island, or their tank will be able to fire on it (if it's not submerged, that is). Be careful to avoid the enemy sub, however, as in its submerged state, it will be able to "trap" any units of yours that move past it, stopping their movement and preventing them from attacking. It's best to move your battleship over to where it is to reveal its location, then bring your cruiser up alongside it and smack it down. This should more or less cripple it and render it almost incapable of damaging any of your ships.

After this turn, your victory should be almost complete. Finish off the battleship with your sub while using your B Copter to polish off the enemy infantry. If they try to bring their lander down to move the tank off the southeastern island, wait for the lander to move out into the water, then use your cruiser and sub, or battleship, to finish it. Otherwise, you can use your battleship and park it off the enemy island to bombard the enemy tank from sea, if they try to park it on their HQ. Your B Copter will take a while to kill it, and probably won't be able to do so if it's being resupplied.

Mission Seven: Fog Rolls In

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units to win. Take it to 'em!
CO: Sasha
Enemy CO: Koal

As the name implies, this is the first mission in which you're going to have to deal with fog of war. To recap the rules, all units can only see as far as their Vision ranking number, which for most units will mean that they can only see two or three squares around them. The exception to this are woods squares, which will completely conceal any units within unless you move a unit directly next to the woods. Be sure to check out all of the woods squares as you sweep to the northeast, or you may wind up getting hit from behind by an enemy unit that you missed. Note that you have to be directly next to a woods square to see inside; being on one of the corners doesn't count. (Air units, however, such as your B Copter, can see units in woods as per usual.)

For instance, if you move your infantry two squares to the east at the beginning of this round, so that it's on top of the mountain, you'll reveal some artillery and an APC. The APC isn't a threat to you, but the artillery is obviously a problem. To destroy it, move your helicopter in to attack it, then follow up with your recon unit. If you're lucky, it'll be wiped out, allowing you to move the rest of your vehicles down to the road and prepare for your long-range moves. If not, it should be almost dead, and you can probably move your units into its firing range without worrying too much about damage.

Keep your units grouped together to take advantage of the recon's large sight radius, but be sure to kill the black boat as well.

Don't worry about the enemy infantry that's capturing your cities in the northeast; since neither you nor they have bases, this is mostly just for show and resupply. Use your own infantry and mech units to capture the cities along the southern road, and use them to resupply any wounded units of your own.

On your next few turns, start moving your troops along the southern road to the east, keeping them bunched together. When you approach the point where the road turns north, be careful, as an enemy tank will be able to move down the road and ambush anyone on the turn if Koal uses his Forced March power. It shouldn’t be able to kill anyone in one blow, however, so if it does manage to ambush a unit, just move them back a bit, onto one of the cities you've captured.

After you've destroyed the two infantry units and the enemy tank, your only remaining enemies should be an empty black boat in the shoal inside the small lake, and an enemy artillery unit that's hiding inside some trees near the enemy HQ. Use your chopper to take out the artillery, since it can't fire on air units, and use your own artillery and rockets to destroy the boat. When they're done, you should be able to complete the mission.

Mission Eight: Tag Battle

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units to win. Good luck!
CO: Your Choice
Enemy CO: Jugger and Lash

Time for fun! This is the first really wide-open battle you've encountered, with almost no tips from other CO's. You'll be on your own for most of this fight, so pick a CO that you know and love. We personally preferred either Max or Jake, but you'll have all of them available to you. The key thing here is that the Black Hole will have both Jugger and Lash on the field, and will be able to switch between them to take advantage of each of their particular strengths. They can also combine forces for a Dual Strike, which will use both of their CO Powers to make one ginormous super power, but we'll talk about that later.

The only unit on the field at the beginning of the fight is the enemy Piperunner, which can only move along the pipe it's laid on. Take note of its long-distance firing radius, and be sure you don't send any units into this area until you're ready to destroy the Piperunner. It can fire on the southern neutral city near your HQ, so be especially careful not to send any infantry towards that area. What you want to do is build a tank, move it onto your HQ, then send it up next to the Piperunner and start firing on it. It'll take two turns to die, but doing so will open up your strategic options somewhat. It can't be rebuilt unless the enemy takes control of the Base in the middle of the pipe, but that's unlikely to occur if you're good about building your units.

The other area of note here is the Airport on the eastern edge of the map. You don't have to control this area, but it'd be a very good idea to do so, as it'll let you construct bombers and B Copters, which will let you chew through enemy units. They will build anti-air units, though so be sure not to rely on air units too heavily.

Anyway, this battle is pretty fluid, and the enemy will definitely adjust their tactics to meet the changing battlefield conditions. That said, here's a good way to start out:

Day One: Build two infantry units on your bases.
Day Two: Move the western infantry to the neutral city closest to your HQ and begin capturing it. Move the eastern infantry towards the cities to the east. Build a tank at either base.
Day Three: Complete the capture of the near city. Move your tank on top of your HQ. Start capturing an eastern city. Build an APC on the eastern base.
Day Four: Move the tank to the south and attack the Piperunner. Move the western infantry that captured the city on top of your HQ. Complete the capture of the eastern city. Move the APC to the east, near the infantry there. Either build another tank, or save your cash to build a set of Rockets or an Md Tank. You might want to build another infantry on the eastern base to start working on the eastern cities after the eastern infantry heads towards the airport.
Day Five: Finish off the Piperunner. Start capturing the city to the south of your HQ. Move your infantry into the APC and get it as close to the airport as possible. Build units.

Luckily for you, Lash and Jugger aren't well matched for Tag Teams. Some combinations, such as Colin and Sasha can get up to 30% extra attack power when they tag each other.

From there, things start to open up a little bit. The Black Hole soldiers will predictably have begun to metastasize across the southern part of the map, grabbing all of the cities and bases there, but they should still be well behind you in terms of cash flow, which will let you gain a large advantage in the number of units you can send to the field. Build as many units as you can, with an emphasis on tanks, including Md Tanks if you have the scratch. With your airport, concentrate on either Bombers or B Copters, both of which will rip through the infantry units that your enemies have been building. If the enemy took control of the base in the middle of the map, near the central bridge, be sure to blockade the bridge there with a tank or two, or just park a unit on top of the base to prevent them from building there until you get infantry down there to capture it back.

Don't feel compelled to rush down into the southern portion of the area if you don't want to; it'll be difficult to rout the Black Hole enemies until you've built up a bit of a force to work with. Unfortunately, they also have their Dual Strike to work with, which they'll likely unleash on Day 13. When this occurs, both of the enemy CO's super powers will be used simultaneously, and they'll be able to effectively move all of their units twice in a row. All of their units will be attacking for much more than they normally would, so you're almost certainly going to take some losses here, especially if you have any units inside enemy territory. You may be better off just parking weak units like infantry on the bridges leading south and leaving them there as sacrificial goats; they'll be killed, but your more valuable units will remain to fight another day. Your CO's super power will likely be available on the turn after this, as well, allowing you to counterattack with the mighty fist of justice!

If you can survive the Dual Strike, then finishing off the enemies should just be a matter of outbuilding them. If you win by Day 17 or so, then you can get a 100 rank in speed, and the other ranks should be similarly maxed out if you played with a bit of caution.

Mission Nine: Victory Or Death!

Objective: Take out that black crystal on the touch screen to win. Losing the secondary front battle won't end your mission. However, if you win, you can use both CO's to finish the touch screen battle!
CO: Choice of two
Enemy CO: Koal & Lash

All right, it's time to really get busy! This is the first battle in which you'll be able to use two CO's at one time, so you'll have to choose one for the ground battle, and one for the aerial combat on the upper screen. You won't initially be able to use the CO that's commanding the upper screen; when you win the battle there, they'll come down to help you out and you'll be able to switch between the two. Any units remaining in the aerial battle after it's won will disappear, but you'll get a boost to your CO power meter for each one that survives. Rachel explains all of this during her opening remarks, so pay attention.

Anyway, you'll need to pick a CO for each screen. We'd recommend either Jake, Max, or Colin for the ground war, which is the only one you'll be able to directly control (the upper screen's battle is completely automated). You might want to start out with Colin on the ground and use Max in the sky for his direct combat prowess. Colin will be able to build more units due to the fact that he can pressure the wholesalers to deliver units more cheaply thanks to his economic power which is buoyed by the fact that he barely pays his laborers anything, allowing you to build up your forces until the air battle is won, then switch out your CO's and use Max again on the ground for his extra firepower. Alternately, Sasha's extra cash will result in around 1,000 more money a turn eventually, but you can choose whomever you like, of course. You don't really have to worry about synergies at this point, but feel free to use both Colin and Sasha if you like rolling in cash.

So, to recap, the upper screen's battle is automated, while you'll be able to control the units on the lower screen. The enemy's aerial base will continually bomb the central factory here, preventing you from controlling it or passing by without taking severe damage. While it's theoretically possible to win the map without destroying the aerial base, it'll be much easier to concentrate on winning the aerial battle, then focus your efforts on capturing the factory. When you do so, it'll be easier to penetrate to the enemy's side of the field and destroy the Black Crystal that they're using as an HQ.

Luckily, you have one large advantage here, and that's that you can build more aerial units and send them up to the upper screen via the Send command. The Black Hole troops can do this as well, but they don't control an airport, meaning that you should be able to quickly overwhelm them if you commit a large number of forces to the upper screen. What we usually did on our first turn was to move all of our fighters as far to the east as possible, then Send them instead of asking them to Wait. This pops them up right next to the cannons on the enemy fortress, and lets them get a jump start on attacking the enemy fighters there during the first turn of the air battle, which takes place after the first day of the ground battle. You won't need all of these fighters on the ground, as the enemy only has three air units; when you take control of the airport, just build another fighter and use that to deal with the enemy helicopters. You can save yourself some cash by just sending three instead of four fighters, but sending them all will make the upper battle go more quickly, which is a Good Thing. Keep the bombers on the ground for the meantime, though, as they'll be able to steamroll the Black Hole enemies on your side of the field and let you take over the cities down there that much more quickly.

Winning The Battle

Obviously enough, you're going to want to start capturing everything near your HQ as soon as you begin the ground battle. There's a base and an airport directly next to your HQ, so start on those, then start moving the troops around to all the extra nearby cities. With your bombers, you'll be able to take out all of the ground units in the area (you may want to have your tank work on the enemy AA, though). As you move to the east, you'll cause a couple of enemy B Copters to come in, so you'll want to have at least one fighter around to deal with them. If they're going to reach your cities, be sure that your infantry units are actually on top of one of the city squares to give them a bit of defense. There's also an enemy fighter over behind their Black Crystal, but it won't come towards you until you move past the factory in the middle of the map. Still, you may want to keep your fighter on the lower level until it can engage it.

Anyway, after a while, your fighter units on the top screen will probably prevail over the fortress, without any further backup if you're using Max. If they need help, then send a bomber up; these guys can only fire at the four cannons, but can take them out in one hit if the bomber is at full health. When the fortress has been destroyed, the bombs will stop dropping on the central factory, allowing you to run over and capture it. The enemy will likely attempt to take control of it before this happens, so you may want to harry their efforts by building infantry units there just before they reach it, or parking a bomber on top of it. If you're quick, you should be able to destroy the fortress on Day Five or Day Six, and that'll make your job on the ground a lot easier, especially if you've managed to retain control of the base (it starts the game in your possession).

When the fortress is dead, do your best to get to the factory and retake control of it if the enemy managed to capture it; if it's still under your control, build the most expensive tank you can make and defend it! If you have the funds (and you should), you'll want to just make Neotanks once every couple of turns. They should be intimidating enough to keep the enemy forces (a ragtag group of artillery and AA) at bay while you build up for a couple of turns.

An army of neotanks will be needed to attack and take down the black crystal.

Neotanks are going to be the key to attacking and defeating the Black Crystal. If you took our advice and used Max, then you'll be able to do a one-attack kill on the Black Crystal with a single neotank, so long as you have his super CO power up and available to you. His super CO power greatly increases the attack damage of direct attack units, which will boost the neotank's already formidable assault capabilities to unheard of levels. One way to do this is to change your CO's so that Max is in the second, non-active slot. If you have both of your CO's power meters completely full, so that both of them can use their super CO powers, you'll be able to use a Tag power, which will let you move and fire twice in a row. If you do this, then you'll be able to use your first CO's power to move your Neotank to the east from the central factory on the turn after it's made, then use your second turn, which will see Max overwatching the battlefield, to move the neotank up next to the Black Crystal and destroy it in one blow; if you've been making quick work of the enemies up until this point, then it's not impossible to win this match by turn eight.

Only Max's super CO power will let you destroy the Black Crystal in one shot, though; if you're using anyone else, then you'll probably have to swarm the enemy base with neotanks and work your way through the defenses until you can destroy the HQ. This will take a lot longer than doing it in one blow, because of the way that your tanks will be taking damage and thus losing attack power, but with three or four of them at your call, you should be able to punch through and win. You can take this fight out to Day 14 or 15 and still get a 100 mark on your speed, so there's no need to hurry too much.

Mission Ten: Black Boats Ahoy!

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units to win. Don't lose that lander!
CO: Choice of two
Enemy CO: Kindle

For your first battle against Kindle, you're going to have to both defend against her troops, take over a specific city on the map, and travel across the sea to reach her HQ and capture it without losing too many of your troops.

Your main goal is going to be to take over the enemy HQ, which is going to be a sight easier than destroying all of the troops here. You have a lander to move units across the sea, so it won't be difficult to get troops down there. You'll also want to capture the neutral city directly to the east of your HQ, near the northern bridge; this will lead you to a bonus mission if you manage to capture it, then win the mission.

On your first turn, move your lander up one space and put a tank on it. Move one of your infantry near the lander, then have your remaining troops start moving to the east, staying out of range of the enemy artillery. Move the submarine to the east as well; you can submerge it if you wish.

On your next turn, get the infanty onto the lander, then move it towards the enemy island. Move the submarine further to the east and submerge it at the end of the turn if you haven't already. On the northern island, all of your efforts should be going towards destroying any enemy units near the neutral town with the map in it and capturing the city.

You'll need to be pretty aggressive if you want to get the secret mission here.

On the third turn, destroy the battleship with your sub, and continue to aggressively go after the northern city. Unfortunately, one of Kindle's powers can do 3 damage to any unit on a base, so if you have a weak unit on the city, it may wind up being killed or reduced in power until it has a hard time capturing anything. This is pretty damn annoying, but if you're lucky you can get there quickly enough for her to not use it, or she might skip over it entirely and go for her super power, which doesn't have that effect. She also seems more likely to use it if you have a lot of units on cities, so try to stay off of the other cities in the area, and form your units in a defensive pattern around the infantry or mech that's trying to capture the neutral city. In the meantime, drop your troops from the lander onto the enemy HQ island; there are only two spots where the artillery on their HQ won't spot you, so those are obviously enough where you want to go.

Be sure to capture the northern city before you capture the enemy HQ. The artillery on the enemy HQ won't stand up to tank fire for more than a few turns, so be sure to fire on it with both your tank and infantry from close range. Also, use your submarine to blast the enemy Black Boats to increase your Power ranking. When you've captured the northern city and obtained the map, move in on the enemy HQ and capture that to finish the map. You can also win by destroying all of the units, but since you have no bases to build more of your own, you risk losing enough of your own units to damage your Technique score.

Mission Eleven (Secret Mission): The Long March

Objective: Capture the lab or destroy all enemy units to win. Good luck!
CO: Choice of four (two teams of two).
Enemy CO: Jugger and Koal

This is a long, involved, and complex mission, so you might want to set aside a half-hour or more if you intend to play through it in one sitting. You've got control of two armies here, and four total CO's, but the enemy starts with a freakishly powerful force of 26 units scattered around the area, concentrated on the island between your two armies, and you won't be able to build more units for a while after the battle begins. This is going to be a tough fight!

So, you have an orange army in the middle of the map with two CO's in charge of it. Jake is a good choice to start with, with Rachel or Max as a good stand-by. You don't want to use Max as a starting CO due to the fact that you'll be using a lot of indirect fire at the outset. The blue team will consist of Sasha and Colin by default, and that's a decent enough combination, since you'll eventually be getting an airport and will have to build numerous expensive air units to beat the enemies down.

On the first orange turn, you'll have two Rockets to use. The western rocket should aim down at the neotank on the beach; you'll do more than half damage to it, allowing the blue battleship to finish it off on the next turn. The eastern rockets will probably want to fire at the sub, which will force the black boats to repair it for a few turns to get it back in fighting shape. You can also destroy the western black boat near your HQ with the fire of a couple of your artillery units there. Whatever you do, though, don't move any units on top of the city to the southeast of your HQ; an enemy artillery unit has that square in its sights and will pound you if you do so. Lastly, load up either your infantry or your Mech onto your APC and start moving them towards the bases to the east of your HQ.

On the first blue turn, use your battleship to finish off the neotanks on the beach, then pick another target for the second battleship and pound it as well. You should be able to see most of the units there, depending on the position of your recon units. Choose whatever target you like here. After both battleships have fired, load your infantry into the lander and move it towards the island in the east, where the airport is hiding. After checking the movement radius of the enemy cruiser, move your own cruiser and the submarine towards the river mouth to the north of the blue HQ.

Now, if you're lucky, you won't be attacked by anything on the enemy's first turn, giving you another round to use your indirect fire on them. Your orange army should be focusing on blocking the spit of road between the two eastern cities and the bulk of your forces. So long as you can keep the enemy's artillery from firing on you, you should be fine to just park units there, even if they get blowed up. The focus here is on preventing the enemy force from reaching your base before you can build up an air force with your blue army and coming at the enemy from below. The orange APC should also be steaming towards the bases to the east of the HQ and attempting to capture one of them, which will at least let them build another Md Tank, or even a normal tank. You'll need to be careful, though, as enemy infantry will be coming from the north to capture the bases for themselves. It's somewhat important to not let this happen, as then you'll be fighting something of a war on two fronts, and the one front you have to deal with is already bad enough.

Blockading the central road will let you prevent the enemies there from passing on, and will allow you to keep pounding them with artillery.

On the enemy's Day Two, they'll likely already have enough CO power to use their Dual Strike ability, which will probably wipe out any units that are still near the eastern cities. Hopefully they won't be able to attack with more than two or three units at a go, but they will get two turns in a row to attack. You may want to park a Recon unit on the road bridge and hope it impedes the progress of any enemy tanks during this super turn. This is a blow you'll just have to absorb.

From here on in, you'll need to use all of your orange units to block up the center road, with the Md Tank being a good choice for a frontline unit. Don't hesitate to shuffle your units around, moving wounded units back to the city and bringing fresh ones up to the fore. If you hold them off long enough, you'll be able to move your blue army battleships into position to shell the enemy army and also build a few Bombers (preferably with Colin as CO) to move in and take them on.

Getting an S rank here can be difficult; it'll be the Speed and Power rankings that will be most tricky. Don't neglect to use your Tag powers late in the battle, as penetrating the fog will often Trap your units if they wind up next to an enemy. Taking two turns in a row can help prevent that, or at least let you get an attack on a unit that's trapped one of yours. There's an artillery unit and a tank near the enemy lab, neither of which are particularly difficult to kill, so feel free to try ending the mission by capturing it; if you've gotten that far, though, you'll probably be able to win by destroying all the enemy units. Don't miss the black boat in the small lake near your HQ.

Mission Twelve: Lightning Strikes

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units on the touch screen to win.
CO: Rachel and one other (choice, but you should use Max)
Enemy CO: Grimm and Sensei

Well, the Yellow Sword boys are here, but they're not going to follow orders from Rachel until she proves herself to them on the battlefield. This is another two-on-two battle, with a primary front and a secondary front, but this time, you'll be able to control both fronts manually, if you wish, by switching the Auto CO off in the Intel menu. This is a good idea, as the AI for the secondary front isn't particularly good.

As you can tell, things start out pretty sedate on the primary screen, but will be pretty tense on the secondary screen. You can send units from the primary to the secondary fronts from your HQ or a base, and you should send your AA unit thusly on the first turn. You'll need at least two AA units up there, so you'll want to have another AA unit being built on the second or third turn of the bottom screen and send it up immediately afterwards. Beyond that, you should build a couple of infantry units on the eastern base and use them to capture the neutral city there, along with an APC and another infantry unit to the west. When the APC and infantry are loaded up, zoom them north to the airport and take it over as quickly as you can, then start churning out B Copters.

On the upper screen, try to lure the enemy in by moving your recon units and AA out of the city. The enemy choppers will try to avoid getting in range of your AA, but they'll have to come in to find any targets, and that's when you pound them. You should be able to take two choppers down per turn if you have two AA up there, especially if you're using Max, so you'll need three turns to take them all down. Don't worry if they destroy a few of your units; this is all but inevitable. You won't need your recon or your artillery, or even really your tank; you'll want to focus on keeping your APC and either your infantry or mech alive. The annoying thing here is that the enemy mech will spread out and attempt to take over numerous cities in the area, making them a pain to track down; when they're on a city, they can't be killed in one blow from your anti-air units. What's more, either of Sensei's CO powers will create additional infantry units on all of the cities that he's captured, which will add a few more turns to your win condition if you're attempting to hunt everything down. They'll leave their base undefended, though, so it's usually going to be easiest to load up an APC and go for the capture, if only as insurance against a lengthy hunt-and-kill segment of this fight.

On the bottom screen, however, you'll have noticed the numerous missile silos. When launched (which can only be done by moving an active infantry or mech unit over one of them), they'll deal damage over a wide radius, inflicting three HP worth of damage to any units caught within, although they apparently can't kill anything, and are only able to bring things down to 1 HP. These aren't critical to control, as they can only fire once; even if the enemy gets them, you can still restore the 3 HP that they drain from you by recharging at a base or city; one of Rachel's talents lets her heal units for three HP per turn. It'll be bad if they get an infantry unit to the central island unmolested, though, as they'll be able to fire off four rockets on four successive turns.

Unfortunately, Grimm is going to be difficult to take on regardless of what you do, due to the fact that all of his units get a 30% power boost when they attack first. That's...a good passive ability, to say the least, and it'll let him do crazy stuff like use a mech to attack an infantry in a city and seriously wound it without taking too much damage in return. None of your units are really going to be able to stand up to much of an assault, if Grimm's units manage to attack first. The good news is that his units are also weaker on defense, so if you manage to stay outside of his attack radius, and attack his units first, you should be able to gang up on them and take them down.

B Copters are important for this due to the fact that so few enemy units are really capable of dealing them serious damage. Try to escort them with a tank or two, or an mid-tank if you can capture the base on the central island, and use them to take down anti-aircraft units. If you can start massing B Copters from your airport and can prevent Grimm from building too many air units of his own, then you'll be able to wear him down. With your spare cash, keep building infantry units or mechs on the base to the east of your HQ, both to defend the buildings there and to eventually push across the river towards the end of the round. If you catch the enemy in a pincer attack between helicopters and tanks from the north and infantry from the west, you can sweep in and crush them.

This mission is something of a slog, but don't worry if it seems to drag on; we managed to get an S ranking, even though we didn't finish until turn 20. It seems pretty forgiving when it comes to ranking you.

Mission Thirteen: Frozen Fortress

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units on the touch screen to win. You can do it!
CO: Choice of four (two teams of two)
Enemy CO: Kindle & Jugger

You're going to be able to bring two teams of CO's into this fight, in an attempt to squeeze the Black Hole forces between your armies and overwhelm them. The only airport on the map is close to the Blue Moon HQ, so be sure to assign Sensei to that army if you're looking to take advantage of his chopper expertise. Also note that there's another hidden map here leading to a secret mission; it's in the city in the northeastern corner of the map. Be sure to capture it before ending the mission.

Unfortunately, the enemy begins the round with three infantry units, so they'll have an advantage in the early expansion phase. They don't have any bases, though, so those units will be all they can muster for a few turns. Obviously enough, you'll want to build infantry like crazy for the first couple of turns. Also note the com tower squares near the Orange army HQ. These towers boost the attack power of your units while you control them, and the bonus goes up if you have more than one tower at a time. The enemy begins with all three towers in their possession, though, so they'll have a bit of added punch at the beginning of the fight.

Letting the enemy grab the base in the northwest will make things much easier for you in the southeast.

On your first couple of turns, build your infantry and start capturing cities. On the Orange Star side, though, keep your infantry away from the enemy troop that's heading for the base and let him capture it. This might sound like a bad idea, but you'll have three bases to their one, and should be able to surround their base with tanks and kill anything that pops up, letting them continually waste their money on units there. This will help divert some of their funds from the Blue Moon front, which is where all of the real action is going to take place. If you're a Max devotee, then that's probably where you'll want to place him. You might want to start with Sasha or Colin for the extra cash over the first couple of turns, then use Max to start pounding away.

If you can keep the enemy producing units on the Orange Star island, then they'll be mostly unable to expand to the southeast, allowing you to quickly pounce on the infantry that they make there and perhaps even capture their HQ before wiping out the enemies to the northwest. It's likely quicker to win this way, assuming everything goes as planned. Alternately, you can take over the northwestern base and just send your troops over the land bridge to on the northeastern end of the map to help the blue troops. Just be sure to grab the northeastern city before capping the HQ for the win.

Mission Fourteen (Secret Mission): Lash's Test

Objective: Capture the lab or destroy all enemy units on the touch screen to win. Good luck!
CO: Choice of Two
Enemy CO: Lash

With a large number of black bombs at your beck and call, you should be able toblast the enemy forces before they can reach your army.

In Lash's Test, you'll have finally tracked down the Black Bomb laboratory. It's heavily defended, but luckily, you'll have your own massive army to use as well. In addition, you'll have six black bombs to use against the enemy, but they'll unfortunately be corralled behind sections of pipe at the beginning of the mission; to free them, you'll have to destroy the purple sections of pipe. After you do so, they'll be able to fly through the rubble and, well, blow stuff up real good. You have a helicopter at the beginning of the round, so use it to destroy the wall hemming in the rockets on the island while artillery and tanks go after one of the walls in the smaller pen to the west.

Luckily, the main enemy force will remain clumped up pretty well, so when you finally unlock the four black bombs on the island, you should be able to slam them pretty hard. The black bombs won't kill anything, but they can do five damage in a single blast, and two bombs will reduce any unit down to one health, where it'll effectively be neutered until it returns to a base for resupply. While you're working on freeing the bombs, then, get your artillery and tanks up the road to the northwest while you load up infantry and mechs into APCs and cart them over to the com towers in the southwest. Capturing them will give you an added boost.

You can afford to be a bit more reckless here than usual, since your black bombs will do the brunt of the damage to the enemy units. Feel free to move your artillery up into the front lines, since even a neotank with 1 HP won't be much of a threat to them, and start mercilessly slaughtering everything you see. It shouldn't be difficult to kill everything by turn seven or eight and earn yourself an S rank. If the enemy army starts moving towards your own, then don't hesitate to blast a bomb that might have one or two of your units in the middle of it; just make sure that you blow the bomb first, then move the units back to a city to resupply.

Mission Fifteen: Verdant Hills

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units within 15 days to win. Good luck!
CO: Choice
Enemy CO: Javier & Jess

In this mission, Javier and Jess, the two Green Earth CO's that have just joined your army, will challenge you to defeat them in combat, in what's apparently another example of sending countless soldiers to their deaths to satisfy the whims of their commanders. Thankfully, you won't have to kill many units to win this battle, as you can relatively easily capture the enemy HQ.

You have two teams to control here, with two CO's. For the Blue team, you'll probably want to use Grimm as the primary CO to boost the power of your artillery and rockets, which will be your primary method of dealing damage to the Green Earth army. The Orange Star CO won't matter so much, but if you have any skills that add to direct assault defence, then this might be a good place to use them. Colin might be a good choice, for cheap tanks.

The enemy is situated in the southern portion of the map, with a lot of mountains surrounding them, forcing them to bring their entire army around to the small, one-space-wide passage to the north. As they sweep around the mountains, you can pop them with your artillery and rockets, but it's very important that you tag-team on units and kill them completely, rather than just weakening them. Dealing 90% damage to the enemy units isn't going to help you any, as these wounded units will just retreat to the HQ and resupply there, and if you want a quick resolution to the battle, you need that HQ to be as clear as possible. So don't worry about the Md Tanks or the Megatank; focus on the enemy artillery first, then go for weaker units like anti-air and infantry. Just be sure that you can hit your target with at least two artillery or rocket units, or you'll wind up screwing up your plan.

If you let the green army head north, then you'll be able to grab their HQ without a problem and without ever facing off against the megatank.

After the enemy forces round the corners of the mountain range inside their little area, then they'll retreat to the com tower if they're wounded, so you can shell them from the northern edge of their area if you wish. However, after two or three days of attacking, you might want to ease off a bit; if you destroy a large number of enemy units, then you risk having Javier and Jess pull off a Tag Team power, which can cause them to flood out of the northern passage and destroy most of your units. You won't lose if this occurs - if anything, it'll make it easier to win due to the fact that they'll be so far away from their HQ when you capture it - but it can hurt your technique score. You might want to destroy two units a turn and leave it at that. If everything goes right, the enemy tanks and recon units will be the first ones to the northern passage, which you can plug with your normal tanks and recycle your units to have a maximum-health unit on the city at the end of every turn. The enemy Md Tanks and Megatank should never be a threat, due to the fact that the passage will be full of weaker enemy units, and the AI isn't good at shuffling units around unless they're almost dead.

For the Orange Star army, don't worry about capturing any cities; just build tanks and start throwing them all around the city that you control at the mouth of the northern passage to block it up. Be sure to have one on the city itself, and on the squares to the left and right of it, with the Blue Moon mechs in the area giving backup. That's the bare essence of strategy for them; just build tanks and send them south! Don't penetrate into the passage, though, or you'll be ambushed on three sides by the mechs in the mountains.

The Blue Moon army will be the ones that capture the enemy base. On your first turn, move your mechs onto mountain squares which can't be attacked from the interior of the enemy area; this will extend their site and let your artillery units hit from further away. You'll want to put one of the southwestern mechs into the APC there, though, and move it over to the east a bit, near the recon unit which begins just to the south of the enemy HQ. Before you do so, though, be sure to wait for the enemy infantry and mechs to move north. One of them will likely come around to fire on your southwestern rockets, though, so you may want to keep the other mech there in reserve to deal with them, or move the southern recon over.

After four or five turns have passed, move your APC into the southern forest, and unload the mech onto the mountain one square north. At this point, it'll take two turns to capture the enemy HQ and win the game. You should be able to see all the way to the com tower north of the HQ from here; if there aren't any enemy infantry units within two spaces of either side of the HQ, then you've won. Just move up and capture it! Be sure to kill anything you can on your turns before the capture to boost your power score.

Mission Sixteen: Snow Hunters

Objective: Your mission will be complete when you destroy all three minicannons.
CO: Choice of two
Enemy CO: Hawke

Hawke is a really powerful CO who has virtually no weaknesses save for a slower-building CO power meter. All of his units hit for more damage, but luckily, you shouldn't be engaging many of them during this battle.

Your ultimate goal here is to bust through the walls to the left of your starting position and destroy the three minicannons there. The CO's will mull over your options before the fight begins, and indeed you can bust through the walls to your right if you want to prevent the piperunners from coming around to fire on you, but this is a bad, bad idea, as this will let the enemy army come at you, and if you want to find the secret mission map here (in the city on the southeastern island), you'll actually want the piperunners to come around to the northeastern corner of the pipe around your base.

On your first turn, get a mech unit into the lander and be ready to send it to the southeastern island. Your infantry should hop into the APC and start working towards the missile silo to the southwest. The rest of your army should focus on the southernmost of the three destructible pipe sections to the west, but leave at least one unit on the eastern side of your HQ as bait for the piperunners, such as the missile launcher or the other mech; just make sure it's out of range of enemy artillery units. Make sure that your anti-air are right up against the pipe when it's destroyed, then send them out to take on the enemy choppers and bomber. Your own artillery should head to the northwestern corner of the piping, so that they can fire on the enemy units when they hit the narrowest portion of the beach. Your rockets can pursue a similar tactic, but with their greater range they don't have to be right up against the piping.

If you move quickly, you should be able to finish off the last minicannon just before the enemies arrive.

Getting the secret map here will require a bit of patience on the part of the lander. If you move it flush up against the southern portion of the screen, then you'll have to be sure that it's just outside of the piperunner firing range when they hit the corner of the pipe there. If you do so, then they should pass by, allowing you to drop your mech unit (be sure you drop it from a shoal, and be sure that it can reach the city the turn after it's dropped), then use the lander as bait in case one of the piperunners comes back to gun for it. If a piperunner gets within range of your mech before it captures the city, then you'll probably have to start the mission over.

Anyway, after the western pipe has been destroyed, move your anti-air in to start wailing on the choppers, then move your Md Tanks and other units into the area around the mincannons, taking note of their firing range. Hit the southern one first, then wrap around to the western side of the remaining two so that they can't fire on you while you pound on them from the rear. If you execute everything well, you should be able to win on turn eight or so. Just be sure to keep pounding on the weakest enemy units to keep your power score up; don't worry about weakening the enemy Md Tanks or Neotanks, as they probably won't be able to reach your westmost units before they destroy the minicannons.

Mission Seventeen (Secret Mission): Spiral Garden

Objective: Whoever captures 15 properties wins. You can also win by capturing the lab or destroying all enemy units. Good luck!
CO: Choice of two
Enemy CO: Kindle

This is another of the wonky secret missions, but this one's wonkier than normal. You have three win conditions: you can either capture 15 properties, destroy all enemy units, or capture the enemy lab. Although the game emphasizes capturing the properties, it's probably easiest to just go for the lab. You'll want to start with Colin, as you won't be fighting for a while, and his large decrease in unit cost will help you raise a powerful army more quickly. You also can't neglect the airport in the center of the map, though. As long as the enemy only controls the bases in the northwestern corner, they'll generally prefer to build infantry and mechs, which are easy enough to deal with, but if they grab the airport, and they will attempt to do so, it'll be bad news. Better to deal exclusively with ground forces than have to deal with choppers as well.

On your first turn, start converting the two cities near your base. Move your recon unit as far to the west along the road as it'll go; this will be the bait for the first piperunner coming your way. The first unit you'll want to make will be an AA unit to deal with the incoming chopper; after that, you'll want to rely on Md or better tanks to punch through walls; at least one rocket will be helpful for positioning the enemy and taking on the second piperunner. You might want to park this on one of the eastern cities that you captured early in the campaign to cover the pipe that the second piperunner is coming along; if it manages to cover both of your bases with its field of fire, it'll be able to pop anything that you build before you can move them.

Piperunners Be Gone!

Dealing with the first piperunner will take a bit of doing. After your AA is built, move it to the west, keeping it on the northern of the two tiles avaialble to you, and make sure that it's just outside the piperunner's field of vision. Check the movement of the chopper, as well; ideally the AA unit should be just outside its last movement square. Note that this will technically bring it within attack range of the chopper, but the chopper won't attack the AA. It has to move towards targets, though, so it'll probably move right up next to the chopper, allowing the AA to shoot it down on its next turn. Just be sure to move the recon unit a couple of spaces to the east so that it's just to the southeast of the AA unit. When the helicopter is dead, move in one of your tanks to hit the piperunner; a normal tank will be capable of bringing it down to five HP, which will prevent it from killing anything in one shot.

You'll occasionally need to sacrifice a unit to the piperunners to get them to stay in position long enough to be destroyed. This is best done after you've built a neotank or two; park your sacrificial lamb (preferably an armored unit that will survive one salvo) just inside the piperunner's radius of fire, and a neotank just outside. On the piperunner's turn, it'll fire at your lamb, and on your turn, you can run the neotank in and pop the piperunner. They should die in one shot if they're on a pipe.

The airport isn't critical to your plans, but it's definitely helpful to prevent the enemy from obtaining it, or they'll build numerous air units. You can also use it to build T Choppers to get your infantry units up to the enemy base when you're getting ready to capture it.

Kindle's army is huge, but it's mostly infantry. No problem if you leave a neotank to meet them.

The key to this map is building lots and lots of neotanks and busting them through the pipe to the south of the enemy HQ, preferably in one big group of five or six fully-healthy tanks. If you can stuff the eastern passage, which can be relatively easily done with just one Neotank and one normal tank, with your artillery and rockets backing them up, you can concentrate all of your building into Neotanks at the base to the southwest of the airport. Just keep 'em coming, using Colin's ability to construct them for 17,600 funds apiece.

If you're forced to bust through the pipe early (which can be a problem if the enemy constructs rockets or another piperunner on the bases there), then suck it up and do so, using a Dual Strike CO Power if need be to get as many units through the gap as possible. (It's best to weaken the gap with a shot from one of your neotanks as soon as you reach it, so you can bust through in one shot later on if you have to go through.) When you're through the gap, you'll need to get on top of the enemy bases as quickly as possible, or they'll constantly build tanks and mechs to harrass you. Don't forget to guard against enemies coming from the east, though, as some of their army will turn around and come for you when you bust through. If you can't staunch the flow from the bases, then try to clear a gap for your APC or T Copter to come through the gap and place three neotanks on all sides of the enemy lab while you capture it.

This mission can take a good long while to finish; we managed to get an S ranking after finishing on turn 24, although our speed score was 94/100. Just be sure to blast enemy units as you see them, and build a bunch of infanty at your bases on the turns before you capture the lab to increase your technique.

Mission Eighteen: Omens and Signs

Objective: Destroy the four minicannons on the touch screen to win.
CO: Choice of two
Enemy CO: Jugger & Koal

Another dual-screen battle, with a front on the ground and a front in the air. The air front is similar to the front from before, save that the air fortress has eight minicannons instead of four, and there'll be a couple of enemy black bombs up there as well. There are also a couple of enemy bombers, but since they can't fire at anything, you won't have to worry about them.

The ground battle is going to be a bit more complex. Since you'll be doing most of the shooting, you're best off with Grimm on the ground, or perhaps Jake if you're unconventional, because you will be doing a fair amount of long-range firing. Almost all of your attacks will be air or sea-based, though, so you won't get to take advantage of his plains-boosting abilities. Max is a good choice for a little extra power on the secondary front.

Your goal here is to destroy the four minicannons around the Black Fortress on the bottom screen. The fortress is obviously going to be well defended, though, and the minicannons themselves watch over much of the area to the west of their positions. The enemy battleship and cruiser near the fortress won't move unless something comes into their field of fire, so be sure not to be too aggressive with your air units here - in fact, you'll want to send three of your fighters to the top screen on your first turn to help with the battle there. Move your bomber south to attack the pipe where your three carriers are located, and have your battleship move along behind it to start pounding the enemy cruisers.

Your carriers are ultra-expensive aircraft-support vehicles that, for this mission, have stealth fighters on board. If you bust a hole in the pipe here, you'll be able to free one of the stealth fighters, which can fire at almost anything in the air or ground, and what's more, can turn invisible at will to avoid detection by enemy forces. They burn a lot of fuel while they're in stealth mode - eight units a turn - so you'll need to keep a carrier nearby to refuel them before they crash. Carriers also have super-long-range anti-aircraft guns which can fire at enemy air assets up to seven or eight spaces away.

Early Game Strategies

Anyway, on the first turn, move your sea and air units to the south, near the top of the pipe, keeping them out of range of the battleship's firing radius and beyond where the enemy fighter can attack them. Keep your cruiser between the enemy helicopters and your land units, though; they'll still come towards you, allowing you to shoot them down when they arrive. The enemy jet will probably make a beeline for your own fighter and helicopters; let it get close, then shoot it down with your carriers. Also on your first turn, start capturing the com tower near your HQ, move your artillery to the south so that it's in a position to fire on the enemy cruisers, and put another infantry unit into an APC to start heading towards the two com towers on the shore. Capturing all of them will be a big boost to your offensive powers.

Freeing these carriers and capturing the com towers will greatly improve your chances of winning this fight.

By the second turn, you should be able to bust the pipe, freeing one of your stealth fighters, and perhaps even kill one of the cruisers. Be sure not to launch your stealth fighter into a square next to an enemy cruiser, though, as they'll just get shot down on your next turn. Over the next few turns, you'll have to deal with the rest of the enemy cruisers, which will free the skies for your bomber to take one of the enemy battleships out. You don't have to worry about the battleship and cruiser near the fortress just yet; just stay out of their attack and movement radius for the moment. Likewise, you don't need to worry about the four carriers in the southeastern corner of the map; when you have all three com towers on your side, your battleships and stealth fighters will be able to take out the minicannons at close range, making any effort to free the extra stealth fighters there somewhat superfluous.

Note that you can get large cash bonuses by joining the slightly-wounded carrier units after you kill the cruisers and launch their stealth fighters. For each point of health above 10 on a joined stack, you'll earn 3,000 funds, which should go a long way towards building new battleships. Note that cruisers appear on your docks build list, but that cruisers built there don't automatically come with stealth fighters on them; that'd be a bit too convenient. You won't need more than one cruiser by the end of the mission, if that many, so just combine them for the cash. Your stealth fighters can make it to the minicannons and destroy them without needing to refuel.

By the time turn six rolls around, your fighters should be able to destroy the sky fortress; if you have your ground CO at a full CO Power meter, then the second front's CO will have the same level when he joins the fight, allowing you to execute a Tag Power on day seven and blast the remaining minicannons with your battleships and stealth fighters for the win.

Mission Nineteen: Into The Woods

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units to win. Good luck!
CO: Two teams of two
Enemy CO: Kindle & Lash

This is another difficult fog of war mission, with two armies of yours being split in half by a mountain range. Each army be squaring off against its own group of enemies, and neither have bases to use at the outset, so you'll want to protect your troops as best you can. The new enemy unit here is the fearsome oozium, which can instantly kill any unit it moves on top of, no matter how much health it has left. Dealing with it is going to be an incredibly headache, since it requires a lot of damage to kill.

Your blue army consists mostly of indirect fire units, so you'll want to be sure to use someone who can bust out a bit of damage with them, like Grimm. The orange army will consist almost entirely of tanks, making Jess a good choice for dealing with the enemies that they'll be facing. The blue army will want to set up a defensive stance until the enemies come at them, with your tank, recon, and APCs in the front line, artillery just behind them, and rockets and missiles in the third line, with the anti-air unit at the top of the screen and the mechs wherever they'll fit, preferably in the second row. The enemy will come in guns blazing at you, but most of your units will survive, and you'll be able to pound them with indirect fire while moving your injured units off the front lines back to the cities you control.

Let the enemy come to you at the outset; it'll be easier to manage the battle that way.

The orange army will likewise probably want to set up a bit of a defensive line and let the enemies come to them. It'll take a few turns for the enemy to appear, but if you wait for them to approach, they'll usually bring their artillery pieces and rocket launcher within easy range of your tanks, letting you smash them and eliminate most of the threat to you west of the river. If you press to the east too quickly you'll stumble across the oozium in the forest; since it requires at least three hits from powerful tanks in a single turn to kill, you'll probably have to move your tanks up to it to destroy it, which will leave them open to the indirect fire. Better to wait for the enemy army, then take out the oozium when the coast is clear. You can still get a 100 speed score if you finish by turn 17 or so, so don't rush headlong into a trap. You can also try to bypass the oozium, but they're worth 40 points apiece on the end-game scorecard.

When the first armies are destroyed, start moving your units to the west, both north and south. The blue army will be able to take out a couple of mid-tanks with their rockets, if any survived; most of the tanks near the enemy HQ are programmed not to leave their positions unless something gets extremely close. Your orange army will probably want to stop and grab the airport near the rockets, to build a couple of bombers to help destroy the two neotanks that are guarding the enemy HQ. This mission will take a lot of time to complete, but you can should be able to earn an S if you keep as many of your units alive as possible. You might have to make a save at the beginning of every turn until you run into the second oozium; it's in the mountains to the east of the river, in the middle of the map.

Mission Twenty: Muck Amok!

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units to win. Good luck!
CO: Choice of two
Enemy CO: Koal

As you might expect from looking at the map, this is going to be one of those missions where you're going to want to capture the HQ instead of destroying all enemy units - there are 20 or so enemy ooziums on the map. That's all they have, save for a minicannon and a missile launcher, but worry not; they're not going to be quite as annoying as they were on the last map, since you'll be able to avoid them without too much trouble.

The first rule of Muck Amok is: ooziums always seem to move towards the hostile unit that's closest to them. The second rule of Muck Amok is: despite the fact that Koal's CO powers allow his units to move one or two extra spaces per turn, this doesn't apply to ooziums. The third rule of Muck Amok is: you don't talk about tired jokes. Ever.

Your basic play here is to try and draw as many of the ooziums to the southeast as possible, to clear a passage for you to move most of your troops up to the northwest. We preferred to use our APC and T Copter, both with a unit inside; just move them over to the com towers, capturing them if possible, then load the mech back into the T Copter and send it up the eastern side of the map towards the enemy HQ. Feel free to take out any solitary ooziums that you see, as they're still going to be worth 40 points apiece at the end-of-mission roundup. You'll definitely want to use Grimm for this mission, with Jake as a backup; Grimm's poor defense means absolutely nothing here, since one hit from an oozium will kill a unit anyway (and note that they can take out helicopters and fighters). Even with Grimm, you'll need three hits from three different units to kill an oozium, unless you've been weakening it with rockets or artillery (which will be difficult to do due to the sandstorm's attack distance shrinkage), so be sure to go after the stragglers and leave the main group alone until it separates a bit.

The good news is that it's pretty easy to keep all of your units alive, unless you slip up somehow. As you keep killing Ooziums, switch over to Jake for a while, to build up his CO meter. If you can eventually get both CO's maxed out then you can unleash a tag team power just before you capture the enemy HQ and kill a bunch of ooziums on the last turn for extra points at the end.

Approaching the HQ should only be done after the oozium there leaves the small passage to the south (which will take it a few days) and only if the missile launcher there isn't actually on the HQ. If it is on the HQ, you can try to lure it off by parking your T Copter just outside of its field of fire and hope it moves. If it's not sitting on the HQ, though, then just fly your chopper as far up the passage, and be sure to unload your mech at the end of the move. Your chopper will probably get shot down, but that's no big deal; you can lose it and still get 100 technique points.

If you manage to kill a bunch of ooziums here, you can expect a lot of experience for your CO's. We managed to get 710 points for killing 10 ooziums and the minicannon, then capturing the enemy HQ on day nine. Nice! Note that if you save your game after completing this mission, then reload a save from before completing it, you'll be able to quickly rank up your CO's thanks to all of the points that you get. This is borderline cheating, though...

Mission Twenty-one: Healing Touch

Objective: Destroy all six Black Crystals to Win
CO: Two Pairs of two
Enemy CO: Kindle & Jugger

Yikes. Although the enemy's units begin this map with only one HP apiece, there are a lot of them, over 40, and they'll quickly begin regenerating health thanks to the six black crystals spread across the map. A controlled rush is the order of the day; you have units capable of taking out a black crystal in one blow (namely, your bomber and megatank), and plenty of other units which can take on the one HP or three HP (on the second turn) enemy units and blow them up, then act as distractions for your foes when they start toughening up.

Your CO's are, as usual, a matter of choice; we liked to use Jess for the Orange Star army (due to the fact that her CO powers give her extra movement range, which will come in handy), and Max for the Blue Moon army. Jess' extra attack power with tanks will be nice, since that's the army with one kind of each tank, including a mega, a neo, a mid, and a normal. The Blue army is more air-oriented, with a stealth fighter (which unfortunately probably won't have time to go into hide mode), a bomber, a fighter, and a B Copter.

Your priority here is to get the crystals smashed as soon as possible. On your first turn, you can destroy one of the units near the western crystal to make a passage for your megatank to destroy that, then start moving your units up to the north. Move your normal tank towards the central crystal and hit it with a shot; it won't do much damage, but you'll be able to finish it off on the Blue Moon turn. You might want to load a mech into an APC and send it south to deal to sit next to the tanks there; it'll probably get attacked, but should survive, and will be able to reach the missile silo on the next turn.

If you can quickly kill the crystals and get a clear shot at the last two, then you should be able to win on day four or five.

On the blue turn, move your stealth fighter to the central southern crystal and finish it off, then clear a path for your bomber to reach the eastern crystal and blow that one as well. You probably don't have to worry about the missile launcher and anti-air to the south of your position; any units you send to the south will probably be more valuable as human bait in the north. If an enemy chooses to attack one of your mechs instead of your megatank, then so much the better.

Indeed, the key here (and we're probably making this sound a lot easier than it is) is keeping your megatank alive, which can be difficult, since most of the big enemy guns will come for it. If you have a smaller unit without much to do, try parking it on one side of your megatank to prevent enemy units from rushing it. You'll need to get your APC back up to the megatank fairly quickly, as it can only hold three shots at a time, forcing you to resupply it often if you want it to be able to take out more than one black crystal.

If you can manage to avoid taking too much damage to your megatank or neotank, then you should be able to win this battle on day four or five, especially if you have Jess' Super CO power available. If you can activate that, then your megatank will be able to move six spaces and will be able to destroy a black crystal even if it's at half strength. This is definitely a difficult fight, though, so if you're having problems, you might want to try taking over the airport or base in the southern portion of the area and building up units there and taking a more long-term approach to the fight.

Mission Twenty-Two: Crystal Calamity

Objective: Shatter the black obelisk to win. The satellite will fire in 50 minutes, so you should take it out first.
CO: Three armies, two CO's apiece.
Enemy CO: Kindle & Jugger

Alrighty then, it's time for one of the most difficult missions in the game. This one's going to see you taking three separate armies into the fray in an attempt to shatter the black obelisk that the Black Hole army is using to regenerate their forces so quickly. They also have a particle beam satellite that will destroy your forces in 50 minutes, unless you capture nine missile silos in the area and use them to take out the satellite; if the enemy captures a single one of these silos, then you automatically lose. They also have a huge cannon that watches over the black obelisk from the northern side of the map and which can fire on any units within a huge area. This is going to get sloppy.

All three teams' first priority is going to be to get to the closest missile silos and either launch the missiles, or just park a unit on top of the silo to prevent the enemy from grabbing them. You might be tempted to pass up a silo in favor of attacking an enemy further along the line, but keep in mind that thanks to the miracle of APCs and T Copters, and their Tag Team power, the Black Hole forces can capture a silo from around ten spaces away without giving you any time to react at all.

So far as CO's go, you'll have to be aware of what each team is asked to do. The Blue Moon team is going to have the easiest task, with a few simple-to-reach silos and not much interference from the enemy beyond an early-game mid tank that comes their way. You can put pretty much anyone here that you like; Hawke is probably a good choice, as he'll let you either build battleships to pound enemy units, or build neotanks to take across the river in landers to reach the enemy base. If you don't use her elsewhere, then Sasha will be good, as you can build up money and use her CO power to prevent the enemy Tag Team.

The Green team's focus will be on taking out the cannon and securing the three silos to their south before the enemy reaches them. There's a good distance to cross before you can reach the silos, and you will have to face off against enemy troops and air assets coming from the south, so we usually used Sensei here to power up the B Copters and used those to demolish most of what came our way. You can't rely on them exclusively, though, as the enemy will build anti-air units at their base; you may want to try Grimm or Jess if you want to go with a tank assault instead.

The Orange Star army is going to have the worst time here, as they'll be facing off against an enemy megatank, an oozium, and probably a black bomb shortly after the battle begins (although the black bomb may retreat and head towards the green army). We personally liked Colin and Sasha for this area, as Colin can build units cheaply on the first couple of turns, then switch to Sasha and let her build up to her CO power, which will forestall the enemy Tag Team for a turn or two. If you need more brute strength, though, Jess or Max might be worthwhile here.

Early Game Strategies

Orange Star

After the megatank goes down, you'll be able to block off the pipe here and deal with the oozium at your own speed.

On the first OS turn, build a recon and an infantry unit. Move your artillery into the upper right corner of the pipe, so that it can fire on units moving east into the Green Army's territory, and move your mid-tank and tank up north a bit, with one of them touching the pipe and the other a bit south of it. You don't want the enemy black bomb exploding on the other side of the pipe and damaging all of your units, do you?

On subsequent turns, keep building recon units and try to find the funds for a T Copter to bring your infantry over to the western silos. The silo closest to your base is pretty much yours for the taking, as the enemy will have a hard time getting through the forest to reach it, but the western two are going to be more vulnerable, especially if the enemy comes down in an APC on a tag team turn. You'll want to chopper an infantry unit over to the far western one, then either ferry it back to the middle one, or just build another infantry unit and start walking it towards the middle one, over the mountain. You can build extra infantry units to capture the cities and the nearest silo. Most of the units you send to the western silos will be pounded by the enemy, but that's no big thing.

The point of the recons here is that the enemy megatank will be coming your way, and you'll have absolutely no way to match its firepower - unless you negate its ability to shoot at all. The recons can be parked in its path (it should proceed to the east along the top edge of the pipe); when the megatank reaches them, it'll obviously destroy them in one shot, but it only has three rounds of ammo, so it won't be able to move in and destroy your Md Tank after that and, in fact, you'll be able to fire on it with your Md Tank without much fear of reprisal. If you need it to stick around instead of retreating for supplies, try blocking it with your T Copter or infantry; it'll still be able to fire its machine guns, so you'll lose another unit, but it's important to try and kill it before it escapes to the comfort of the Black Hole cities.

Blue Moon

The Blue Moon troops have the easiest time of all of your armies; after they deal with the mid-tank that's coming their way, they won't have to worry about enemy units for quite a while, if ever. The mid-tank is easily dealt with, thanks to your artillery; just track its movement, park your tank two spaces away from where it'll stop, and your artillery three spaces away. When it stops, hit it with the artil once; it'll come in and attack your tanks but won't be able to kill them in its weakened state. Hit it again with your artillery, and you'll probably finish it off.

The only dangerous silo here is the one on the island near your HQ. On your first turn, have the northern infantry capture the docks nearby, then use either that one or the one you begin with to build a lander as soon as possible and get your infantry across to the island to launch the missile. If you wait too long, the BH army will send a unit across the ocean in a T Copter and you'll automatically lose the fight.

Green Earth

Green Earth's situation is a bit more mutable than that of the other armies. You might have a black bomb coming your way, or you might not. You might have two recons coming your way, or you might not. It's difficult to predict with any certainty. One thing you can count on, though, is that the BH army will start spawning infantry and mechs in their factory to the south and start walking them north to the missile silos as soon as they can make it. If you have Sensei as the leader of your little band, though, then you will have the benefit of powerful attack choppers and the ability to spawn numerous infantry units in each of the cities that are under your control with his CO power, which should help you make a little bum rush towards the south when you build up his meter somewhat.

On the first turn, move your anti-air to the south, but hold your missiles back a bit. Build an infantry unit to go for the lower base. On the second turn you should be able to kill one of the helicopters; be sure that your missiles are out of the other chopper's attack range, and preferably back to the point where it'll be able to fire at the chopper if it comes north. If you're facing off against recon units, then you'll probably need to build B Copters of your own as soon as possible, to avoid having them pick off your infantry as they march south. If you can, build a T Copter to bring at least one infantry unit south; if you choose the right time to move down there, then you should be able to launch one of the missiles and use the Copter to block one of the others from the advancing enemy units. Just be careful of fire from the cannon; it covers a wide arc, and can shoot at any of your units on the southernmost missile silo.

Mid-Game Tips

As the game progresses, the most immediate threat to your well-being will be the BH's tag team power, which will probably hit on turn four of five. If everything's gone well, you'll have drained the megatank's ammo with your recon units by then, or on the first turn of the tag team, so you won't have much to worry about there. The blue team should've disposed of the mid tank and captured the island silo, and the green team will have shot down both enemy choppers. The greatest threat to you here, then, isn't getting your units blown up, but rather having the enemy capture a missile silo on the second turn of the tag team. You can probably see whether or not that's going to happen on the turn before they trigger the tag team; if both enemy CO's have full CO power meters at the end of your green army's turn, then you can bet that they'll pop it on the beginning of their next turn. If any enemy APCs or T Copters are within two day's worth of flights of a silo, then you've lost.

Your end condition here is to defeat the obelisk in the center of the map, and that's going to occur thanks to the OS army, which will have to use a tag team power of their own after they've sufficiently built up their forces. After the oozium is inside the little pipe segment that leads to your little base, try to prevent any other units from entering by parking a neotank or mid-tank on the gap before destroying the oozium and marshalling your forces. While you attempt to hold back the flood of enemy units, work on weakening the pipe segment that's directly south of the obelisk's face; it's through here that you'll probably want to push with your units when you have your tag team power. All you need is one neotank and a clear path to the enemy obelisk if you happen to be using Sasha and Colin's Trust Fund Tag Power; one neotank blast should kill the obelisk. If you have another unit to break the barrier, though, then you'll be able to fire twice for good measure. Colin's cheap neotanks will be a big boon; just keep building them as you can afford them. If you don't want to worry about the oozium, just lure it away from your base with an infantry or other unit while you mass for your assault.

Luckily, you won't really have to worry about the enemy satellite; the 50 minute time limit is pretty generous to begin with, and if you hit all nine of the silos you'll be able to stop the countdown. Note, however, that if you wait more than ten minutes between firing off a missile, the satellite will fire regardless of how much time is left on the clock, severely damaging your units. If you have an infantry unit sitting on a silo, wait until enemy units are almost at the silo before launching it and try to space out your launches as best you can.

This mission will take a long time to get the first few turns right. After you survive the first enemy Tag Power and feel like you're in decent fighting shape, then we recommend that you start saving every turn, with a backup save on turn four or so, just in case something really goes wrong. You can indeed earn an S ranking on this map by busting through the pipe on a tag team matchup after ensuring that your power rating is fairly high, so long as there aren't any enemy units directly in front of the obelisk; if you wait too long, you'll have to settle for an A or B ranking.

Mission Twenty-Three: Dark Ambition

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units to win. Be brave!
CO: Three armies, two CO's apiece.
Enemy CO: Kindle & Olaf

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your DS...Black Hole attacks! They've somehow managed to recover from the crippling blow you thought you dealt them in the last mission, and have amassed a small army to sweep you into the sea. You do have a long section of pipe protecting you from the onslaught, and you'll also net yourself a couple of small armies to attempt to counterattack before they can wipe you out. You also gain a full four new CO's at the beginning of this fight, as Sami, Grit, Eagle, and Sonja all join up to help you out with the battle. Examine their strengths and weaknesses and use them accordingly.

At the start of this mission, you'll have to contend with the omnipresent snowstorm, which will cause all of your units to bleed fuel at an advanced rate; be sure to keep your APCs on hand to fuel all of your other units up. The enemy won't be subject to these conditions so long as they keep Olaf as their active CO, which they'll try to do for the first few turns of the round. You can stop the snowstorm by capturing the two Black Hole cities on your side of the pipe, but it's really not necessary. You're better off moving your infantry back and having them go for the missile silos. After dropping them off, move the red APCs back to the pipe; although they can't refuel units from other armies, they'll still be decent as pipe blockers when/if the enemy breaks through.

The enemy, for once, will actually be trying to attack the weakened pipe segments from their side of the pipe. They won't be doing much damage to them, though, since they'll be matching up things like AA vehicles to try and do the deed, so you'll probably have to help them by attacking them yourself.

Anyway, for CO's, you'll probably want to use Eagle in the Blue Moon army to boost the power of your air assets there, with Jess taking on the same role for the Green Earth army, which is replete with tank power. Your tag CO's don't matter too much, since you're unlikely to get your CO power meters full or even need to switch, so put whomever you want to earn a bit of experience in there. The same applies to the OS army, which only has the two infantry and the APCs and won't be much of a factor in this fight.

Your units are a bit more powerful than those of the enemy, so play carefully and you shouldn't have a problem winning.

From the outset, start maneuvering your troops towards the pipe spaces and mass around them for a breakthrough. To the north, you can completely block one of the pipes by placing a hidden stealth fighter in the gap for a turn; the enemy has nothing that can fire on it. To the south, move forward with whatever makes sense after considering the forces marshalled against you. Don't forget to move the battleship into the gap near the pipe; it'll offer considerable firepower and will be able to hit whatever threatens you most. And be sure to launch your missiles before breaking through, preferably landing two missiles in the same turn on the bulk of the enemy forces. That'll force them to join stacks or move some of their wounded units back to their cities, which will scatter their army and prevent them from doing much of anything for a turn or two.

After you break through, you should be able to find and destroy the biggest threats (megatank, neotank, anti-aircraft units, and so on) first, then hang back and let the enemy activate their tag CO power when they have nothing more threatening than a recon unit on the field. On day five or six, you'll likely have both Eagle's and Jess's first-level CO powers active, so go ahead and use them both to mop up the field. Before killing their last unit, pound on any of the minicannons that you can for extra points.

Mission Twenty-Four: Pincer Strike

Objective: Capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units to win. Good luck!
CO: Two armies, two CO's apiece.
Enemy CO: Jugger & Drake
Difficulty:

After the small breather of last mission, you can expect this mission to be a royal pain in the ass, and indeed it is. You're going to be facing off against Jugger and a clone of Drake, the Blue Moon army's naval powerhouse CO. They'll have plenty of units, including a battleship/cruiser/sub navy in the northeastern corner of the map, as well as numerous indirect fire units to the northwest. What's more, they'll also have Drake's incredibly annoying Tsunami power, which will deal two damage to all of your units every other turn. Get ready to reload your game numerous times.

You have two armies here, the OS in the southwest and the BM in the northwest. CO strategies are all over the place. We personally found that the Blue Moon army can easily get stuck in the woods unless they have Grit along for the ride; his extra range on indirect attacks will let his rockets scare off the four enemy rockets that have camped on your cities, if you position it right. You also have an artillery along for the ride, but no bases or any other construction facilities, so you're going to have to keep your units alive as best you can. Unfortunately there's an enemy battleship off to the east, in the small lake of water near where you begin, and as soon as you move out of the woods you can expect your units there to get absolutely pounded.

Luckily for you, it'll start to rain on the third day of the battle, which will cause the fog of war to creep in. This will cause some problem for you on the open seas, but will be an absolute lifesaver in the forest battle, where none of the enemy units (and there are a lot of rockets and artillery near your cities!) will be able to see more than a square away. If you park your weaker units on the forest's edge, they'll be able to spot enemy units and give you a feel for the lay of the land, as well as let your rockets fire away at any units that they spot without fear of retribution. You'll need to move your rockets pretty far to the east before you can fire on the enemy battleship.

Blue Moon Strategies

Park your units on the edge of this forest to scout out the surrounding area without being seen.

On the BM army's first turn, move your rockets two spaces south to the corner city of your little fort, and keep everyone else out of harm's way. The enemy rockets will move out of your rocket's field of fire, but once the fog of war comes in they'll return to your cities, allowing you to hit any that you like from long distance. While you're doing that, move the rest of your units down to the edge of the forest and prepare to hit the middle two rockets. There are going to be anti-air and artillery units around each of them, but you have to remember that all of these units only have one vision rank, which means that, barring the presence of an enemy recon unit offscreen, they won't be able to fire at you so long as you don't stop your vehicles on one of their four main sides. You can move out of the forest if you like, but if you spot a unit that you don't think you'll be able to kill in one turn, stay on its corners and bring in reinforcements until you're sure that you're able to do so. So, basically, treat them like ooziums! If an enemy unit comes up next to your own unit, then that unit is probably going to die a horrible death due to rockets and battleships, but most of the movement here will come from the direction of the small gap between the mountains and the lake, where the enemies from the Black Hole headquarters will be moving to. Try to use anti-air rockets or a normal tank to block that passage if you can't see what's coming up. Better them than your neotank or something comparably powerful.

When you've cleared out the middle cities, then you can move mechs down and capture the base airport and use it to start making fun things. You should have a fair amount of cash by this point, so don't hesitate to invest it. You'll have to move quickly if you don't want the enemy to come your way, though, as one BH mech from the eastern side of the map will be making a beeline for this area from the first turn. If you can kill it, though, then do so and you'll be safe for a few turns, even if you have to sacrifice a unit to off it.

Orange Star Strategies

Sasha's power is going to be absolutely key to winning this map, so have her start as CO for the orange team and try not to build anything other than a recon unit for extra scouting until you're far along in the game, and watch the enemy CO meters to check when they're going to flip over to their Tag Team power. If they're near the end of their meters, then do as much damage as you can in an Orange Star turn, then use her power after all of your units have moved. If you've been good about saving cash, then you should have over 40,000 funds on day six or so. We had 46,000 funds when we used her Market Crash ability, and it took the Black Hole CO's from two full meters down to a half-star apiece. And that is what you call a big, big help when you're dealing with something as lethal as the tag team effect that's happening here. After you use the power, build a neotank or a megatank and then start saving your cash again.

The Orange Star army is going to have to deal with the enemy navy, but luckily, if you prevent the enemy from grabbing the docks on the southeastern island, they won't be able to rebuild any units that you destroy. The navy will have to be dealt with by using the shoals off the southern coast to spot them coming, and then sinking the battleship; your absolute priority is the battleship! Repeat: sink the battleship! Are we making ourselves clear? The cruiser can be dealt with, but the battleship will be a pain in the butt if you don't take it down as quickly as possible. It can be hard to do so. If you park your sub in the northeastern corner of the four shoals down there, you'll likely be able to spot the enemy sub as it comes along; destroying it will make it much easier to kill the other enemy units, since none of the other naval units can see more than one space, allowing you to either trap them or creep up with your sub to take out the enemy battleship. When the battleship and sub are gone then you should be pretty much set to move up to the enemy HQ and start bombing away. You'll need to have a black boat along for the ride, though, as your diving sub will take a lot of fuel, and if Drake gets a Tsunami off, you'll have to repair and refuel the rest of your boats as well. You might actually want two black boats here, so that each of them can refuel each other after a Tsunami hits.

The Blue Moon army will likely deal the killing blow here. The enemy will usually have a number of weak units sitting on their HQ and the cities around it when you arrive, but if you can build up your forces, preferably after capturing the base that lies along the road to their HQ, then you shouldn't have a problem sweeping in and overwhelming them with neotanks. If you have Sami as the second CO in the Blue Moon army, then her ability to capture enemy bases in one turn is going to be handy to use, especially on the second turn of a Tag Team power.

Mission Twenty-Five: Circle of Fire

Objective: You must destroy all enemy units within 18 days to win. You can do it!
CO: Choice of two
Enemy CO: Koal and Kanbe

This is another two-front battle, albeit one that's not quite as horrific as the ones you've faced before. You're going to be facing Koal on the bottom screen, who has a small army of units at his beck and call, and a clone of Kanbei on the top screen. Kanbei's special ability greatly increases the firepower of his units, although it does make them more expensive to produce; since he begins with a troop of helicopters and a neotank, though, and doesn't have a base, this isn't going to be much of a drawback to him.

You'll have a mission timer here, but it's set to count down from 18 days instead of counting up to some undefined number. So at least you'll know what you need to do! Luckily, though, you should be able to handle the upper screen fairly easily, especially if you send all of your anti-air units up there on your first turn.

Your Orange Star primary CO should definitely be Grit, since you have so many indirect fire units on the bottom screen. On the secondary screen, Eagle will be a good choice. He'll boost the helicopters a bit, but will also have a completely insane CO Power to tag up with after you polish off the top screen. Kanbei's real threat is the neotank that he has in his possession, which will be difficult to take out with the units that you're given. It can be done, though, with a little planning.

Bottom Screen Strategies

Your goal on the bottom screen should be to capture as many properties as possible as soon as possible. The enemy army in the northeastern corner of the screen is going to start flooding around the central island towards your base, whereas the troops around the volcano are pretty much stuck there. So long as you stay away from the artillery inside the mountain rings, you should be ok. Make sure you capture the two com towers on the central island; you can start capturing one on the first turn, and you should have both of them in your control by day three. The northeastern tower should be locked down by just leaving the infantry that captures it on top of it, lest an enemy infantry crosses the river and tries to wrest control of it.

On your first Orange Star turn, send your helicopters, anti-air, and your missiles up to the top screen. You can probably send the rockets as well, since it's unlikely to ever reach the front lines, even if you move it every turn. Use your APC on the island to load up a mech and send it east; you'll want to unload the mech near the airport there and eventually capture it. If you don't get started on that path on your first turn, a neotank will reach it before you can do so. The APC in your base to the southeast should be loaded with an infantry and immediately sent north to the base. Your other mechs and infantry should start working on the other cities in the area and the two com towers on the central island; if you have mechs without a clear purpose on the island, start them towards the missile silos or march them to the north or eastern rivers, parking them in the corners of the river where they'll be able to fire on anything that comes along, but not so that they can be shot by the tanks as they approach.

If you can prevent the enemy forces from leaving the northeastern corner of the scree, it'll be that much easier to mop them up with the powerful units that you can build later on.

Your indirect fire units should likewise move towards the east and the northern roads, where the edges of the screen are only one space wide, so that they can fire away at units as they attempt to head towards your HQ. Since Grit allows them to fire over a wider area, they should be spoilt for choice when it comes to targets. We usually went for the big boys first, such as the neotanks and the megatank; the weaker units can be picked off later in the game when you capture the base and the airport and begin building bombers. (Likewise, use the missile silos to pound the megatank and the neotanks if possible.)

If you can, though, try to hit a couple of the neotanks near the volcano with your rockets; they'll park themselves on top of the cities there for repairs, which will cause a big drain on Black Hole's resources. Unfortunately you only have one APC to work with on resupplies for ammo, and it itself can't be refuelled when it runs down, so you'll probably want to try and work your indirect units towards the northeastern corner of the island after you've beaten back the vanguard when you can so that you can resupply multiple units at once without having to move around a lot.

When you capture the base and the airport, you should have a good amount of money in the bank. We preferred to build a megatank at the base, followed closely by the APC, to start working its way around to the enemy base, while a couple of bombers head into the central area to start cleaning house. You may find it difficult to move your megatank along the northern passage, where the lava keeps landing, but if you're almost done on the upper screen then you'll probably be doing ok. The lava does land in the same spot every turn, though, so if you can spot where it lands you should be able to avoid it.

Top Screen Strategies

Obviously enough, the key thing here is to wipe out all enemy units as quickly as possible - you should be able to manage it by turn eight or nine if you work quickly. The enemy has eight helicopters, but you have five AA vehicles if you sent all of them up from the bottom screen. If you get the bonus from the two com towers near your base, then you should be able to do an even 100% damage to them with one shot from your AA. Just move the AA out of your base and keep your helicopters back; Kanbei's bonus to power is really, really big, so if their helicopters attack yours, you can expect them to go down to about two health. As the choppers come in, they won't fire on your AA and attempt to flank them, but you should be able to take most of them down before they reach your base. Just watch out for the neotank as it comes in, and watch for the lava that periodically falls on the squares around the volcano here.

Now, the neotank is going to be a real pain to take out if you do it the hard way, which involves basically suiciding all of your mechs on it before taking it out with your helicopters and anti-airs. It's best to use anti-airs last due to the fact that the mechs and helicopters will only take machinegun fire from the neotank. One thing you can do to make the fight a lot easier is to try and lure the neotank onto a square lava falls on. You'll need to watch where the lava falls and park one of your anti-air units one square in front of it, so that the neotank will attack it. The anti-air will die, obviously, but the neotank will take a full five damage next turn, weakening it quite a bit and thus making it easier to kill in the end. When it's dead, you'll be able to sweep up any infantry and APCs that the enemy sent into your base and start moving your choppers over to the rockets in the northeast and kill those as well.

Joining Forces

Again, somewhere around turn eight or ten you'll be able to finish off the top screen and bring Hawke down to the bottom screen to use his Tag Team power. You'll probably want to hold off on using it until you have a couple of bombers in the air and have creeped your megatank up to where it's relatively close to the enemy base.

If you have a couple of bombers in the middle of the screen, then you should be able to clean house thanks to Eagle's SCOP.

The beauty of Eagle's Super CO Power is that it'll let you move twice in a turn with full attack power. If you use it to kick off a Tag Team, then that's basically like getting three full turns before the enemy can react, which should let you pound most of their units into the dust. What you have to do is have Eagle as your active CO, so you'll need to switch over when you bring him down. When he's your active CO, take a turn as normal, being a bit more bold than normal, since you won't have to worry about enemy movement, then activate the Tag Team at the very end of the turn, after you've built any units. Eagle's power will immediately kick in, refreshing all of your non-infantry units (i.e. tanks, indirect attackers, and planes), allowing them to move and attack again. When that turn's done, you'll flip back over to Grit, who himself will have another turn to work with. Yay! Triple power! Note, however, that if you attempt to pull this tactic off on the very last day of the map, then you'll probably time out when you use the Tag Team power for some reason. This is probably a bug, since it's not really a whole different day, but you'll want to pull it off with at least a turn to spare.

If you have two bombers in the central area of the map, then you should be able to wipe out most of the enemies there, thanks to the fact that Hawke massively boosts their attack power. Go for the Md Tanks first, as they're the toughest foes, then go after anything else that moves. Your megatank should be rolling towards the enemy base as quickly as possible, with the APC right behind it and perhaps a B Copter if you managed to build one of those and fly it north. When the turn switches over to Grim, go all-out with the artillery and rockets you've amassed, focusing on any remaining forces on the enemy base, with any leftovers going towards the volcano. If you need to mop up any strays, park your megatank or APC on the enemy base to prevent them from building there while your bombers hunt down the remaining units for the kill. If done properly, you'll hopefully have a few days left on your counter. If you lagged behind a little, then at least you'll have some breathing room to work with.

Mission Twenty-Six: Surrounded!

Objective: Capture the four com towers within 24 days to win. Move out, soldier!
CO: Choice of four, two armies of two
Enemy CO: Kindle & Andy Clone

You need to get all of the com towers under your control on this map in order to win, but you should be ok thanks to the rather extreme time limit and the fact that the enemy doesn't start with many units under their control. The Andy clone CO will, like Kanbei, give all of his units large offensive bonuses, so you'll want to try and stay on the offensive as often as possible, starting with a quick rush thanks to the large army you have on your side.

The Tag Team power of the enemy here isn't going to be overwhelmingly bad, since the BH army shouldn't ever get anything very strong on the field - they never fielded anything better than a Md Tank when we played them. Still, if you wish to, the Sasha / Colin team will help you put off their use of powers if you place them in the Blue Moon army. For the Orange Star, you'll want a heavy hitter like Max or Hawke, or perhaps Grit to help you pin down the enemy in the early game.

Block or capture the enemy bases to prevent them from building units.

Your first priority here should be to get to the enemy bases and sit on top of them to prevent them from building units. Your Orange Star army should begin by pressing to the east. If you have Grit as your commander, you can use your rockets to try and pin down the enemy rockets near the com tower there while the neotank heads towards the factory along with a weaker unit like a recon to move in after the neotank destroys whatever pops up. You don't need to worry about the enemy rockets right away, though; be sure not to put anything where it'll get pegged by the anti-air unit nearby. After you park something on top of the factory, you can either leave it there or move one of your infantry units in to convert it. The same goes for the com tower. Although you won't be able to get all four com towers early in the game, it's still important to convert any that you get to reduce the attack bonus that they give to enemy units.

The Blue Moon army will probably want to start by hitting the factory in the southeast as hard as possible. Your anti-air units can easily deal with the two helicopters here, so wait until they're either dead or weakened before moving an APC with a unit inside towards the com tower. The rest of the units in the south can focus on the units near the factory and attempt to take it over, perhaps with help from any Orange Star units that can wrap around from above. Be sure to build an infantry on your northern set of bases and move it towards the com tower on your second turn.

While all these attacks are ongoing, you don't want to completely neglect the other fronts, as there will be two mid-tanks coming at you from the west. You'll probably want to move one of your own mid-tanks to the north set of blue bases to help protect them, along with a helicopter and perhaps some other units. Just send whatever you can spare from the southeastern fronts, and when you have the factories there under control and have wiped out the units in the areas, leave your infantry to capture the towers before massing your troops and heading to the northwest. The road leading directly from the western side of the map is only one space wide, so feel free to plug it with something cheap like to prevent the mid-tank from getting through.

When you hit turn eight or nine, just start chugging out neotanks and using them to defeat the enemy infantry that Blach Hole insists on sending your way. Don't forget to load up an APC or a T Copter with an infantry unit to get someone to the western com tower, though, or your speed score may suffer. Also don't forget to build a bunch of infantry or something at the end of the mission to help your technique; you should be able to grab an S score without horrific difficulties.

Mission Twenty-Seven: For The Future!

Objective: Destroy the black obelisk to win. You're almost home free! Hang in there!
CO: Choice of six, three armies of two
Enemy CO: Von Bolt

The future, Conan? That's right, it's time to finally take on Von Bolt, the Black Hole supreme commander, at the black obelisk which he's set up in the middle of the ocean. He's big, he's bad, he's got a large army at his beck and call, and his CO abilities will pump all of his units up to ridiculous power. This is going to be tough, but luckily for you, all you need to do is sneak a bomber around to the black obelisk to win; until then, all you have to do is survive.

That's going to be easier said than done, though, obviously, especially on the central, Orange Star front. You're going to have three fronts in total, with the Orange Star front revolving around tank and indirect combat, the Blue Moon army focusing on naval combat, and the Green Earth front working their way up with planes and the single bomber that will silently glide towards its rendezvous with destiny on turn six, assuming all goes well.

The Orange Star front is going to be the most dangerous one to deal with, since the enemy will be bringing a horde of troops your way. Since you can capture a couple of com towers here, and will mostly be defending until the first wave is fought off, you'll probably want to use Javier as your primary CO, with Jess being a good backup if you intend to build up your tank armies and head north towards the black crystal.

For the Blue Moon army, Hawke's bonuses to all of his units will be handy in taking out the ships. You can use Lash as the secondary CO; she won't be tremendously useful on her own, but if you pull off a tag team power then you'll get a big bonus to their attacks.

Green Earth's CO should definitely be Eagle, to boost your air units. It doesn't matter overmuch whom you send with him, but Sami is a good choice, as you'll be able to use T Copters and infantry to hopefully capture enemy installations behind their main lines later on in the fight.

Early Game Strategies

Orange Star Army

As mentioned, the Orange Star Army is going to want to move up to the line of com towers and just stay put. Park your megatank on the middle tower and leave it there for the defensive bonus. Take note of the firing range of the two minicannons on the left and right side of the mainland; they cover the squares between the com towers, to move your neotank and mid-tank to the squares just south of them. Move the infantry units up to start capturing the towers on day two, and move your artillery, rockets, and missiles so that they have a good view of the field to the north. The enemy bomber will probably come down and attack your megatank at some point, so be sure to have your missiles where it can hit it no matter where it stops! Start building more artillery, and if you have extra cash at the end of turns, use it for infantry to prop up your technique score; you're going to be losing a LOT of units here.

On the second turn, start capturing the com towers. None of the enemy units should be close enough to actually attack your infantry on their day two (although the neotank will be close). Double-check your indirect units' positions so that they can fire on anything that comes along; your artillery should be one space to the south of the com tower line, while the missiles and rocket launcher should be two spaces south.

By the start of the third day, you should be able to start firing on enemy units with your indirect units. Just be sure to complete the capture of the com towers before you open fire, as they will add a good amount of damage to your blows. And be sure Javier is your active CO before the end of the day!

This is hopefully how things will look on day four - you may want to hold off on wanton killing, though, to prevent Ex Machina from coming out.

On the fourth day, your nose should be a bit bloody, but your megatank will have withstood the pressure admirably. Ours managed to take a full artillery salvo without losing a single point, and a full bomber run with only two points gone, thanks to Javier's defense bonus. The other units will be a bit less healthy, but you may still not be in artillery range of their artillery, so just unload all the artillery that you have onto their forces, being especially sure to take down the mid-tanks that have come your way. If you managed to take out the two minicannons on the sides of the area, you can move your neotank and midtank up into the gaps between the towers; just check the range on the enemy artillery before you do so.Your infantry on the com towers will have been severely wounded; if you want, you can leave them there as sacrifices, or pull them back to get healed while moving up fresh infantry or other weak units to hold the line.

Now, if you've been killing things as they come at you on all three fronts, then Von Bolt's Ex Machina power will probably be invoked on the end of day four, leaving most of your units wounded and incapable of action. So you won't be able to do much on day five but wait for the enemy to come towards you and start blasting. With Javier's defense bonus, though, you'll still be in much better position to survive the blows. Build tanks or infantry for your technique score.

On day six, use your tag team power and kill anything you can. Don't go for woundings; just for kills. This is the last turn in the game, so you'll need to have a bunch of kills if you want to get a decent power score. Don't forget to build more units before you end your turn.

Blue Moon

On your first turn, move the battleship up to where it'll be able to fire on the enemy minicannon on the second turn. The rest of your navy should move up and get ready to engage the enemy. Your carrier here can be used as a sacrifice or to run into the enemy sub, if you don't mind losing it; it's unlikely that it'll be able to fire on any enemy airplanes, and you won't be able to build any planes on this side of the screen, so it's really not good for much.

On your second day, start pounding on the minicannon that's within range, and position your other ships so that they'll be able to move on the enemy ships when they come into range. Keep your sub up front and dive, being sure that none of the enemies can move onto its square, with the carrier and cruiser back somewhat.

On the third day, destroy the minicannon and examine the movement and firing radius of the enemy ships. If you can get your sub up to the battleship to take a shot at it, feel free to do so, even though you won't be able to kill it. If you happen to be able to run your carrier into the sub, you might want to try getting your cruiser to take it out and ensure the survival of your own battleship.

On day four, do what you can to try and take out the sub and battleship; it might not be possible without moving both your carrier and your cruiser into range of the enemy battleship. If you haven't been wasting your money, you should be able to afford another battleship or sub by this point, though, so you'll have the ability to bring in reinforcements if you need to.

Days five and six are just mopping up. If there are still units in the water, try to take them out; if not, move the battleship up to where it'll be able to fire into the middle of the area for some cheap kills on day six. Build infantry and cheaps ships on both days.

Green Earth

On your first turn, move your bomber up close to the southern minicannon, and move the B Copter up to actually fire on it, with your other units also proceeding to the north. If possible, build another B Copter every turn; they're going to be the cheapest way to spam the enemy units when you reach the breaks in the pipe.

Your second day here is where you're going to require a bit of luck. Finish off the southern minicannon with your bomber, and move your helicopter up to the eastern side of the north minicannon and fire on it. It's well within range of the enemy, yes, but its pilot will die a noble martyr's death for the cause. Hide your fighter one square to the south of it, with the stealth fighter in hide mode one square to the east of your fighter. You want the enemy to attack the helicopter and take it out, as that'll let you return fire on their chopper and fighter on your turn; if Von Bolt happens to finish off your chopper in one hit from his own chopper (which is possible), then the fight will pounce through the gap and finish off your own fighter, which will more or less make it impossible for your bomber to reach the obelisk. You might have to engage in some savegame chicanery at this point if this occurs.

On your third day, if all went well, you'll be able to take out the fighter by attacking it with your own fighter first, then your stealth fighter. This will allow you to move up your bomber to destroy the obelisk or the minicannon, since there's nothing that can shoot it down (just watch out for the enemy missile radius), and move up the B Copters you've been building.

If all goes well, your bomber will reach the obelisk without getting hurt, and destroy it in one shot.

On day four, you'll need to move your bomber further up towards the black obelisk, hopefully with the stealth fighter as protection. Again, be sure to check the radius on the enemy missiles before moving. With your fighters and B Copters, start harrassing anything you can, and watch for fresh fighters or, more likely, B Copters from the enemy airport.

Day five will be the last movement day for your bomber, so be sure that there's nothing around that can hit it. An enemy infantry will be capturing the base near the obelisk, but it won't be able to produce anything until day seven and that unit won't be able to move until day eight, so no need to worry about anti-air. Just kill anything you can with your B Copters until you get your bomber into position, then deliver the killing blow.

The Big Problem

This strategy will get you a win, but it won't get you an S ranking. In fact, since you'll probably have only killed three or four units with your green team, your power ranking will probably be down somewhere in the 20's, which will net you a B ranking at best, even if your speed and technique are both 100.

If you're looking for an S ranking here, then you can try to take a few more turns in the game and use your Green Earth choppers to damage a bunch of the units in the middle of the map. After you have four or five choppers under your command, bust through the pipe to the center of the map, kill anything within range, then activate Eagle's SCOP power or even a Tag Team if you can, killing as many units as possible within one turn to get your power ranking up a bit before killing the obelisk with the bomber.

Alternately, you can also win with the orange team if you manage to rebuild from the devastation of their assault and start moving neotanks and other units up through the woods. This will take much, much longer than using a bomber, though, so you'll need to capture the bases on the ocean side of the pipes and have your other armies reinforce the middle of the area with their own tanks. The Blue Moon troops can build more battleships to attack from long range, as well. You can always keep a bomber near the obelisk as a quick kill switch if you think you're about to take a big hit.

Still, if you just want to win, the bomber run is the quickest and easiest way to do so. You can lose horribly on the other two fronts and still win the map just by executing well with the green army and making sure your bomber doesn't get hurt. If you're really lazy, you can just cloak your stealth fighter and steam it towards the black obelisk while turtling up with the rest of your forces; it'll take longer to destroy the pyramid but you'll be able to play a much more defensive game, if that notion appeals to you.

Mission Twenty-Eight: Means To An End

Objective: You've come so far... You don't need my advice anymore. [But she'll give it to you anyway.] To win, shatter the three black crystals on the top screen and defeat Von Bolt on the touch screen within 24 days. This is it! The final battle!
CO: Choice of two, one for each front.
Enemy CO: Von Bolt & Kindle

All right, troopers, it's time to finish off Von Bolt once and for all. Although the totality of your experience would probably lead you to believe that he and Kindle will escape you yet again when you end this mission, you'll just have to charge ahead and hope that that isn't the case.

Despite the destruction of the black obelisk, Von Bolt is seemingly undeterred, although he no longer treats you like a gnat or a fly to be ignored; you've been upgraded to vermin status, and now warrant a beating. His weapon of choice? A gigantic Oozium called the Grand Bolt which takes up most of your lower screen. It's an impressive weapon, no doubt, and one that can quickly expand; in 24 turns, in fact, it'll be big enough to encompass all of Omega Land, including all of your armies. You'll need to defeat it by striking its three weak spots before it can do so.

Unfortunately, each of those weak spots is going to be protected by a black crystal on the secondary front; until those crystals are destroyed, you won't be able to do much more than one damage (out of 99 hit points) to the three weak spots. The secondary front cannot be manually controlled, either; you'll have to leave it up to the CO of your choosing to do the deed up there!

Since you have so many properties on each screen, we went with Colin on the top screen and Sasha on the bottom. Sasha's ability will let her prevent Von Bolt from using his SCOP if she builds up her funds a bit, while Colin will be able to build expensive units very cheaply with his ability, and will also constantly be using Gold Rush to get even more cash, which is helpful because cash rules everything around us. Although his units aren't as powerful as those of other CO's, he'll make up for that weakness with sheer numbers, and should win on the General AI setting within 12 days.

If you favor a more aggressive approach, you may want to use Grimm or another high-offense character on top, like Hawke (although Hawke may trigger his CO Power and thus be mostly useless for a turn). Sami is a decent choice on the bottom thanks to her quick-capturing infantry; you'll need to get as many of the bottom properties as possible as quickly as possible to prevent the enemy from building mid-tanks on their upper factories.

Early Game

Indeed, the first thing you should concentrate on are the bottom four infantry that the enemy has. If you leave them to their own devices, they'll rapidly capture numerous cities down there and give their overlord the funds he needs to build powerful units in the factories; you've got to stop them! Build a B Copter on your first turn, then another on your second turn, and get them down there as quickly as possible to start killin' dudes. Follow those up with a pair of infantry in T Copters, and when the coast is clear, start capturing the cities that the enemies took over to weaken their flow of funds, while watching for the ooziums to start coming in.

Recons and infantry will help you defend your base and capture the other properties near your starting area.

When you have two B Copters and two infantry-laden T Copters heading south, you can start working on defending your base. You'll have a dozen days or so before the ooziums manage to get anywhere near you, so there's no need to worry about them right away. Instead, you'll want to focus on the infantry, recon, and anti-air units that will be coming out of the factories to the north. The infantry are easy to deal with; just start building recon units to pound them before they reach your buildings, and a tank or two when you can afford them to make it easier to take on the anti-air units that will be popping out.

Really, that's pretty much the strategy...just hold the line and build progressively better units until you can get your secondary CO down from the top screen to join the fun. If you manage to recapture most of the cities in the south, the enemy won't be generating more than a few thousand funds per turn, which will force them to crank out endless infantry units, which are easy enough to defeat. You can, if you wish, head towards the enemy factories and attempt to block them or even capture them, but doing so is fairly difficult thanks to the ooziums that continually get spit out of the Grand Bolt.

The Killing Blow!

After the secondary CO comes down from the top screen, you'll be ready to make your push towards the three weak spots on the Grand Bolt and finish it off. If you're on turn 12 or so, then don't worry; you're almost assured of getting an S ranking on this mission unless you really manage to screw up. From here on, it's all about execution. Don't leave any units sitting next to an oozium at the end of their turn, check the movement distance on the enemy units, and so on and so forth. You might get a little excited at finishing the game, but that's no excuse to get sloppy! If you have the cash to do so, don't forget to build numerous infantry units and send them south of your base, away from the ooziums. It'll help your technique score and, if you group them together, might give Von Bolt a completely pointless target for his Ex Machina power.

All three of the eyes have 99 health, obviously, and will spit out new ooziums every four days or so. If one of your units is in front of an eye when an oozium pops out, it's dead! These ooziums pop out at the beginning of a turn, and then get their own movement period, so if you're approaching an eye, be sure to pause on the outside corner so that an Oozium that moves twice couldn't reach you.

You'll want to use neotanks to deliver the killing blows to the eyes, preferably having them within range of the eye just before you trigger a Tag Team strike for the two attacks in one turn. You can use bombers if you wish, but Von Bolt will likely build anti-air vehicles on his bases, which can prevent them from even reaching the weak spots. Of course, pulling off a single-day defeat will be a trickier proposition than it sounds, mostly due to the swarming ooziums, but you can take a few days if you need to. We actually managed to screw up pretty badly and didn't finish until we had four days left on the clock, but we still got a 100 score for speed; we did suffer in the power ranking, but we still managed to get an S for the mission.

After you defeat the Grand Bolt, you'll be confronted with a bit of a choice. Whatever you choose doesn't really affect the ending, though, so watch the credits roll and get your final campaign score. Hope you got an S!

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