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Then I got to Mighty Kanbei. Finding that the usual strategy wasn't working, I switched to Andy, held the defensive positions, and blasted away with Rockets. A little change-up, which is surprising given how easy and monotonous the game is up until that point, and stopped me for a few hours as I had to seriously re-evaluate my strategy. After that, it was back to Max and laying out some beat-downs.
Finally I got to Sami Marches On. Oh god. Why did the game suddenly get SO DAMNED HARD? I can't see Sonja's units, but they always sniff mine out and obliterate them. I start out with a single sub, which no matter how I try to hide it the enemy cruisers always find (it'd help if I could see them coming), a battleship which can't see anything to attack it, and a cruiser which is useless because I can't find her damned subs. And once I've lost the naval battle, it's over. Sonja's battleships will stomp all over my attempts to conquer either island, and since she has way more cities than I, by the time I make one single ship she's got such a fiscal lead that there's literally no way to win. Which means I needed to have captured more properties earlier, but that's what I was trying to do in the first place, but there's NO WAY TO DO IT with what you're given. Sonja starts with more, she starts closer, and she can see through forests and reefs. There is no strategy that works. If you send your recon out where it can see anything, she destroys it instantly. If you hold back, she rushes in and grabs the property instantly. If you blindly charge forward, you're as good as dead.
What in god's name am I doing wrong?
If it makes you feel better, your excellent grasp of strategy got you into the Sonja missions in the first place. On the bright side, getting through these will come in handy later.
In any event, in AW1 the AI has a built-in ability to 'cheat' in FoW. This means they can see and attack units with almost no penalty in FOW, something you may have noticed to great annoyance in 'Sami's Debut'.
If I'm remembering this mission correctly, my main strategy involved taking the base on the southern island ASAP, and churning out infantry and mechs to annoy Sonja with. Meanwhile I believe I used trial and error to figure out where Sonja's units in the northern island are (I'm pretty sure they are limited and that she owns no properties there to begin with) and used most of my starting units to secure it, sending in more infantry with landers if need be. Then I think it was a matter of just distracting Sonja long enough to claim enough cities. I recall there being a big chokepoint battle with indirects on the bridge in the south, but I don't think I needed to pass it.
If all else fails, this might help: http://www.awrevival.netfirms.com/nc/s13/s13.htm
Well, it's a fact that Max is all kinds of broken. By using Max, you were able to bypass the game's difficulty and learning curve. So yeah, it might've seen like a difficulty spike to you, but it was just a mission where you couldn't blast through with Max.
About the Sonja missions, they're tough, yes. You could just playtest it a couple of times and write down where her units are, and avoid them/destroy them.
I don't like pies. (Well maybe meat pies...)
One other thing about Sonya's missions is, it really helps to hide your units in forests and reefs whenever possible, so that artillery, rockets, and battleships can't fire on them as easily.
Sigh... well, thanks.
I went back and tried moving the ships over and over until I found a combination that just happened to not result in them all getting slaughtered. This took the better part of an hour. From there I sank her battleship, and after that my infantry moved it and conquered everything, unopposed.
S-Rank. Jesus Christ.
Man lives for the joy of new ideas, doesn't he?
-Canas, Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken
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