Angry Robot

Advance Wars: Second Day of Ruin

Both the air and sea games are much expanded. On the sea, the carrier can now produce seaplanes which are somewhat overpowered considering their relatively low price compared to other air units. They can do a lot of damage to a battleship, for instance. Given that, the enemy carriers are now much more menacing. Also, I’m finding the sea units – in the usual rock-paper-scissors way – are much more devastating to each other than land units. One hit from a sub will reduce a battleship to 1HP, and a cruiser will do the same to a sub. Whereas on land it seems like units like the medium tank are reduced to 4HP at worst no matter what hits them, giving them a chance to flee and recover.

the fearsome carrier

The battleship can now move and attack in the same turn, making it more powerful, but its vulnerability to sub and seaplane attack makes it feel weaker.

As mentioned, the seaplane joins the air fleet, as does the ‘duster’. These cheap-yet-effective units can both attack ground targets, which in turn makes air defenses way more important than in Dual Strike, when I rarely built a fighter and would swarm the CPU with boatloads of bombers. I barely use my bombers now. In part because the AI has an irrational fondness for the production of anti-aircraft gun units. You wind up facing these surreal armies with 7 AA units and one tank. Huh?

The challenge of air defense is that the fighter is expensive and the ground-based air defense units are relatively slow-moving. The missile unit can only manage a couple of squares. If you don’t want your tanks getting smashed by all the enemy air units, you’ve got to keep them in range of the missiles, which just slows down the game.

Generally on the air side, there seem like too many units now. What does the duster / seaplane add that the helicopters didn’t already do?

Finally, the absence of the dual strike power-up attacks takes away an aspect of the gameplay, but probably in a good way. It took me a while to realize their importance in the last game, possibly because the concept is so alien to strategy games. I also somewhat resented how much time it could take deciding which COs (commanding officers) to use, since each had their special powers.

Wait! I got a little further, and there is indeed a form of CO power attack. It’s introduced something like 15 missions in, and it’s quite simple – once you’ve done a certain amount of damage with your CO unit (more on that in a sec), you can choose to use a special power. For Will, that’s granting direct attack ground units a movement bonus for a turn.

The CO unit. At a base, you can choose to assign your CO to a unit. It costs some cash, but then attack & defense bonuses are conferred on any unit within a certain range of the CO. I like this addition; it fits logically and adds a strategic element. Although I keep forgetting to assign a CO at all!

So in general, although there are problems with the new additions, I think they are more or less good moves. Something both games have is a good, gradual learning curve. The early levels bring you in easy to the whole concept and are almost casual gaming. Later levels are epic in scope and can take hours to complete, especially if you’re a cautious strategist like myself.

Let it be said that both games, in general, kick ass. I’m sure it’s not easy making an accessible yet complex strategy game, yet both of these are winners, and clearly if you liked Dual Strike you’ll like Days of Ruin.