Advance Wars might truly be called a beautifully charming war game. It takes a rather lighthearted view at war and armed conflict. One can certainly believe that in this game nobody dies, they just get really big boo-boos. Although some might think that this lack of "grit" would detract from the game, but it doesn't. At All. In every point of thought provoking strategic gameplay Advance Wars is just what a war game should be.
The game offers a large variety of units each with it's own strengths and weaknesses. The unit design is based on a rather fantasied version of actual military units. These units range from humble transports to devastating battleships. Each unit has a purpose and none of them can be ignored. Infantry is essential in the game, just as it is in real life. You can't take a city with armor either in the real or game world. Due to this wide range of units and options players can use several different strategies to achieve victory.
However, the game does rate you on Speed, Power and Technique. Speed is based on the number of turns it took you to beat a mission. Power is based on how many enemy units you managed to destroy. Technique takes your own losses into consideration. So, although you can slowly build a super army or send wave after wave of infantry at an enemy in order to complete a mission, you certainly won't get a top score for it. Your overall score is tracked and you slowly gain rank as you work your way through the game.
Each mission in the game starts with a Mission Briefing. This primarily explains some unique feature of the battle map in question. It also explains the story reasons behind the battle, which does add another interesting aspect to the game. Every mission can be completed either by defeating all the enemy units or capturing the enemy's primary base.
It's important to keep in mind that as a unit's hit points fall they do less and less damage. Plus, of course, if a unit's hit points reach zero it is destroyed. Both these facts make repairing units essential. Units also have to be supplied with ammunition and, in most cases, fuel. Both repairing and resupplying can be taken care of at friendly cities and bases. Resupplying can also be handled by special units in the field.
Terrain and movement rates are two things that the savvy commander has always to keep in mind. Some areas, such as mountains and forests, offer defense bonuses to units located in them. You always want to attack undefended units from a defended position whenever possible. Unit movement rates are also effected by terrain. Obviously, roads greatly increase the speed of motor vehicles, which is why troop transports are so important for infantry and mechanized units.
After a certain point in the game most missions will have bases that can be captured and held. These bases can be used to build new units. The gold needed to pay for these units is generated by friendly towns. As a result it is imperative to capture and hold as many cities and bases as possible. The ability to buy the units you want also gives you great flexibility with your play style.
Specialized indirect combat units like artillery and anti-aircraft missals are both a boon and a bane. They are excellent for holding territory, but devastating to have to push against. Battleships are also excellent at long range destruction and should never be underestimated either in your hands or the enemy's.
The game really offers a great deal more than I have touched on so far. The only way to truly appreciate the game is to play it. If you enjoy turn based strategy a few minutes will get you hooked. Advance Wars has been very successful and a number of games have been released in the series. This game is a very good place to start your experience.
The Advance Wars Field Training takes you through all the basics of gameplay, so I am going to use this section to give a little advice.
Look before you leap! You can look at enemies unit's attack range and this is often a good idea. It stinks to move in and destroy an enemy unit only to have your unit destroyed in the next turn. Looking where the enemy can strike will allow you to move into positions where you can strike, but can't be struck. You will especially want to keep an eye on enemy artillery.
Run for cover! Very rarely do you need to rush out into a river and attack your enemy. Take strategic points like cities and forests and force the enemy to attack you there. The less damage you take the more you can deal.
Never leave a man behind! If you can by any reasonable means save a unit do so. Even if it takes four or five turns to get them back in the fight you might just need them. Plus, of course, the fewer units you loose the higher your Technique score.
Buy Big! When making purchases from bases it is usually best to save up and buy a smaller number of larger units than a larger number of small ones. A medium tank is over two times as much as a regular tank unit, but it is much more useful. Make sure you buy what you are going to need in the long run. For the short run hold on long enough to buy what you really need.
AA-Guns, not just for aircraft anymore! In my opinion one of the most flexible units in the game is the AA armor. It devastates both infantry and air units. If it gets the first strike it can even hold it's own against light tanks. It is only slightly more expensive than a tank and much more versatile.
He who rules the waves rules the world! That is an old saying for a reason. On many maps victory can be attained by making sure you rule the seas. Once that is done you can shell the enemy with battleships and push on to complete victory. Naval units are generally cheaper and stronger than air units. You can be assured of naval victory if you invest enough.
He who strikes first strikes best! Always keep in mind that as a unit looses hit points it is loosing firepower. When you have the chance be the first to strike. You will do more damage with the initial assault than the return attack will do to you.
Know your COs! Each CO has his or her own powers. Get to know each of them and how best to make use of them. It will make victory much easier. You will also be able to choose the CO that best suits your play style for the current situation.
Look the map over! Before you start moving units all over the place take a good look at the map. Try to think a few moves ahead. Don't just rush out and shoot the first thing you see. Take your time and make sure that your attacks matter.
Hold your ground! Look for points on each map where you can hinder enemy movements. Bridges and gaps in mountains are excellent places to take and hold. If the enemy can only hit you with one tank at a time he can only do so much damage!
Watch your supplies! Running out of ammo makes a unit basically useless. Running out of fuel is even worse. Keep a sharp eye on your supplies. Your units will begin to blink with empty ammo shells or gas cans if they are running low on one or the other. Make sure they always get the supplies they need to keep fighting!