Why The Final Battle has big problems

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  3. Why The Final Battle has big problems

User Info: MasterKnight75

MasterKnight75
1 week ago#1
Map of TFB for reference:
http://gbwn.main.jp/Mission21_GBWA.htm

Climactic battles are what stories like to build up toward, making sure the audience is left with a feeling of awe when the denouement starts. With gaming, what is particularly done is to make the climactic final battle hard enough that overcoming it leaves the player with a sense of satisfaction. In theory, The Final Battle would be this show of blowout, but in practice, it ends up being a burnout.

What makes it relevant to Days of Ruin? Copy it onto a custom map and try to play it out. Unless you deliberately set the BH units' AI to Assault, you'll be wishing THIS is the level of kiting you'd be putting up with:
https://s25.postimg.cc/v4gigsihr/AYMHAAACAAAYUKl_QKk_Eykw.jpg

I'm getting ahead of myself, but people would no doubt say I'm just complaining about the difficulty. Thing is, if difficulty is well-designed, I actually welcome it for being satisfying to overcome. This video exists because of that:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0mXiEdQ7mE&list=PLO2o0_k4kOryzPNrI-UEOXTN6NTTTF-cx&index=29
(Yeah, I complain about given mooks being annoying, but the boss itself is well-designed.)
When problems arise is when the difficulty is set up in an arbitrary enough fashion. And The Final Battle likes to get VERY arbitrary.

Starting forces? More like Starting Farces

I'm going to start with what would be the least idiotic part on its own, except believe me when I say everything is going to add up in aggravation. Besides, I could always complain about the Guide Dang It nature of the way your COs are set up, but I'm here to call out the design of the map itself.

Let's get the logistics of the starting forces going with a list of each CO's predeployed units:

*Sturm: 4 Fighters, 4 Bombers, 4 Battle Helicopters, 3 Light Tanks, 3 MD Tanks, 6 Anti-Air Tanks (24 units, total cost 321K)
*Andy: 2 Battle Helicopters, 2 MD Tanks, 2 Anti-Air Tanks, 1 Anti-Air Missile Launcher, 2 Infantry, 1 APC, 1 Transport Helicopter (11 units, total cost 90K)
*Max: 2 MD Tanks, 3 Light Tanks, 4 Anti-Air Tanks, 2 Infantry (11 units, total cost 87K)
*Olaf: 2 MD Tanks, 2 Light Tanks, 2 Rocket Launchers, 2 Anti-Air Tanks, 2 Anti-Air Missile Launchers (10 units, total cost 116K)
*Grit: 2 Light Tanks, 2 Artillery, 2 Rocket Launchers, 1 Anti-Air Tank, 2 Anti-Air Missile Launchers, 2 Infantry (11 units, total cost 90K)
*Sami: 2 Light Tanks, 2 Anti-Air Tanks, 2 Anti-Air Missile Launchers, 3 Infantry, 3 Mechs (12 units, total cost 56K)
*Drake: 2 MD Tanks, 2 Anti-Air Tanks, 2 Anti-Air Missile Launchers, 3 Infantry (9 units, total cost 75K)
*Kanbei: 4 MD Tanks, 2 Light Tanks, 4 Anti-Air Tanks, 1 Recon (11 units, total cost 136.8K)
*Eagle: 2 Fighters, 1 Bomber, 2 Battle Helicopters, 2 MD Tanks, 2 Anti-Air Tanks, 1 Infantry (10 units, total cost 129K)

(Continued.)
Master Knight DH at your service.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnightDH

User Info: MasterKnight75

MasterKnight75
1 week ago#2
Obviously the player has a starting headcount advantage at a minimal 30 units to Sturm's 24. This, however, is a Hope Spot, as the same can't be said of the combined unit prices. The only CO combinations that breaks Sturm's 321K are Olaf/Kanbei and Olaf/Eagle. Olaf has the problem that even if Blizzard wasn't counterproductive to his allies barring Sturm pounding Andy hard enough AND the side CO being Sami or Drake, he doesn't even start with any Infantry. Doesn't seem like a big deal on a map this big? Believe me, it's an aggravation I will really get into, and you'll agree with me when I say this: So much for rewarding the player for actually directly defeating an easily avoidable navy.

Even if Grit/Kanbei allowed for reaching 321K, Kanbei has his own problems as well: once again, he doesn't have any Infantry at the start. Not only that, you want to know what his 120% costs, the reason he has a higher total cost value than even Eagle, are multiplying off of in general? Freaking MD Tanks that can barely do ANYTHING against the Fighters OR Bombers. Also, one of Kanbei's starting units is a Recon. ....okay, I can buy that Intelligent Systems are bringing up Kanbei being an idiot, but this sort of thing hasn't been an excuse for Olaf not having 2 Fighters added to his forces, since players would remember being introduced to plane units witnessing Olaf's planes crash because Olaf forgot to refuel them, and actually buy a freaking APC. Sure the starting units fit both for character and story, but I'm here calling out TFB's reliance on flash over substance. The clincher is the degree by which Kanbei's forces are more competent than Drake's or especially Sami's. At least Kanbei gets more Anti-Air Tanks, instead of wasting anti-air power on freaking Anti-Air Missile Launchers, the same things that a beached whale can outmaneuver. That's obviously the game's misbalancing that only drunks and idiots get hit by them, but dear GOD couldn't Sami and Drake simply involve more methodical gameplay instead of having completely gimped economies? Also, with only 3 anti-air units, as well as weakened directs in general, Grit ends up being underwhelming.

This makes the desirable CO combination Max and Eagle, at least on NC where Rivals isn't THE definition of That One Level. Of course, TFB AC is even more disgusting and not worth covering. I'll leave a URL with a picture that tells anybody in their right mind everything I could ever need to about that mess:
http://gbwn.main.jp/Mission21_Hard_GBWA.htm

Of course, you can claim that I'm just "whining" about having fewer resources. Yeah, well, notice how I kept bringing up competence with anti-air ability? That goes right into my next point.
Master Knight DH at your service.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnightDH

User Info: MasterKnight75

MasterKnight75
1 week ago#3
The Air Farce

The Advance Wars series already has a subpar at best track record with level design involving air units. In fact, *THREE* of the 4 Advance Wars episodes in whoisthisgit's Worst Levels Ever series incidentally involve air unit shenanigans:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89FYEUlCgbI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXhfxsyox-4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ocg1084FUI
This isn't a coincidence, because all 3 of those levels give the enemy force plane units at a dime a dozen in convenient terrain, while the player has very bad starting resources as well. I bring up starting resources because I have been noting how level design in the Advance Wars games actively involves them instead of the minor amounts of money, no starting units aside from player 2 getting an Infantry for FTA counter, and the deployment points spread between multiple fronts that Advance Wars By Web standardized. Notice how infantry are drastically weaker because tech units are already long out before the infantry congestion can happen? Granted, it's still notable that Anti-Air Tank VS Infantry doesn't KO on significant terrain without an attack/defense mismatch, but that's just talking about the metagame.

Where I am going with this is what Advance Wars 2 recognizes: how absurd plane units ultimately are when they aren't suffocated by infantry spam. Do you notice how WITG didn't make a WLE episode for AW2? Maybe because when the enemy gets enough planes, your starting forces are actually competent. Sure there are WLE candidates like Show Stopper, but they just stand out for being WLE candidates, and even then, they're not so absurd to handle if you don't care about Speed, plus there are enough levels you can choose to skip, Show Stopper among them.

All of the WLEs I linked to don't care about that. Kanbei's Error AC provides Kanbei with 3 Fighters, 2 Bombers, and 2 Battle Helicopters, totalling 146.4K, to the player's 1 Fighter, 1 Battle Helicopter, 1 Anti-Air Tank, 1 Anti-Air Missile Launcher, 2 Infantry, and 1 Transport Helicopter, a sum cost of 56K. Rivals AC is, of course, even more disgusting: 4 Fighters, 4 Bombers, AND 3 Battle Helicopters, in addition to the land units that can reach, but even the air units alone have a sum cost of 195K, to the player 1 Infantry and 2 Mechs at only 7K. Waylon Flies Again is actually the tamest with Waylon's 3 Fighters, 1 Bomber, 2 Dusters, and 2 Battle Helicopters (124K) to the player's 2 Infantry, 2 Mechs, 1 Bike, and 1 Anti-Air Tank (17.5K) in addition to AI support that is *BARELY* halfway competent support in light of Waylon having limited starting firepower against the Anti-Air Tanks, but even then, unlike Kanbei's Error AC or Rivals AC, the player doesn't start with any deployment points under their control.

This brings up another strike against those 3 maps: the terrain. Kanbei's Error completely locks your land units other than infantry to a small piece of land. If only we could use navy to transport our tanks around, so that maybe we could smash that Anti-Air Tank that whoisthisgit resorted to a flagrant AI exploit to fight back against. But oh wait, navy is innately stupid. The Stop Having Fun Guys say so. As for Rivals AC and Waylon Flies Again, land units do get options to move around, except.....they suck. They're so long, because clearly what we need is machines built to move in THREE dimensions wanting to move in only ONE instead of considering this incredibly complicated concept called flanking. Speaking of, look at the "optimal" player formation in Rivals AC (the one that the game screams at you to have to get the Perfect S-Rank). It's not only dumb for gameplay reasons, including the concept of flanking itself as you'd realistically have your air units get hit by THAT, it's also screaming masculinity contest, if you can even call it that. And Waylon Flies Again? It is an unavoidable grindfest that has drawn a lot of well-deserved ire.
Master Knight DH at your service.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnightDH

User Info: MasterKnight75

MasterKnight75
1 week ago#4
I spend multiple paragraphs to talk about those WLEs to point out the underlying summary of where I am going with the involved idiocy in TFB: that plane units are meant to be expensive because they can pull brain-dead kiting. Even AW1's AI, known for making APCs a priority over HQ capturing infantry, recognizes as much. Let me point to this pic AGAIN:
https://s25.postimg.cc/v4gigsihr/AYMHAAACAAAYUKl_QKk_Eykw.jpg
Yep. All a Bomber needs to be obnoxious is a *SINGLE* tile barrier of Mountains or some such and it's instantly safe from grounded anti-air. Don't say Anti-Air Missile Launchers either, because even if they could hit more than drunks and idiots, they are still so slow that they can't properly support the frontlines in time. Did you also notice how the only CO who gets any Fighters at the start is Eagle? Andy does start with his own air units....except the combat ones are freaking Battle Helicopters, which can't attack Fighters *OR* Bombers, and would easily get swatted by the Fighters as well. What kind of sick joke is giving the center CO units that just amount to target practice at the critical part of the entire battle? We get it, Andy's an idiot, but you'd expect he'd have tanks instead if we're going by that logic, especially when his infamy is over not knowing what an airport is. Seriously, if you want him pounded the whole fight while Eagle--...er, sorry. MAX, beats Sturm...do it right.

Oh, and this is bearing in mind AW1 AI. Let's talk about the Days of Ruin AI. You want to know what happens with it? The air units do exactly the obvious solution: camping across the river. There's no shooting them down as a result, so what you end up with is the, neutral at the start, forward deployment points being sieged with disgusting ease. Notice with that in mind how the only available Airports for the player are AMONG THE FORWARD DEPLOYMENT POINTS. That's right: your precious method of getting more Fighters gets snuffed because of the very terrain you would need them for. Because yes, there's a LOT of Mountains on the map, oh will I get to that.

It's abundantly clear why planes deserve to cost as much as they do. But once again, people can say that the superior starting resources of the enemy is just the challenge, it's not supposed to be that easy, especially with The *FINAL* Battle, and I should just play defensive until I end the initial attack. Yeah, there's more than starting resources.
Master Knight DH at your service.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnightDH

User Info: MasterKnight75

MasterKnight75
1 week ago#5
Attrition fest? lolnope

I'm going to get an AW1 exclusive point out of the way because while it's idiotic in its own right, it doesn't apply in Days of Ruin, but nor would it need to--far from it.

Yep, I'm going to talk about Sturm's Meteor Strike first. This thing drops a meteor on a cluster of enemy forces based on their expenses, knocking off 80% of their health. What cements it as obnoxious is how Sturm will get to use it just for losing a few units. The first Meteor Strike will easily come out of the destruction of those air units I just complained about, which as I made clear are already miserable in its own right. It would do that even with AW2's or AWDS's chargeup rates and whatnot, such is the immense price tags on the air units. Later Meteor Strikes will also be made easy by Sturm's 28K income.

Now you could tell me to shut up and be your ***** because there's an obvious solution of spreading out units. Yeah, guess what? With how confining in general the map is, in addition to Sturm already having powerful units breathing down your neck, this isn't reasonable. What people had to come up with, to make sure things wouldn't become even worse for Andy than they already do, is to have a side CO, typically the west one, cluster their own units to magnet the Meteor away. You want to know what's ironic? The west CO's area is actually the most open area of the map. Period. This means they would have the chance to spread out at all. But oh wait, they can't do that. Instead, they have to spend most of the battle rendering themselves useless just so their allies aren't so horribly suffocated.

Surely, though, since giving up one ally doesn't result in a Game Over, sacrificing them could be fine and dandy, right? *RIGHT?!?!?* **PFHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!** Yeah right. May I point out the next reason why Meteor Strike is only a chunk of the idiocy, and what I am going to bring up DOES carries over to Days of Ruin. Namely, the income comparisons. The starting incomes are Black Hole's 28K to the allies' total of 21K. Sure the neutral properties are ALL on your side of the river, but BH has completely safe Airports. You can barely get your income to 30K getting just the more secure Cities, but BH is guaranteed 3 Cities by suffocating the center front as easily as they do, increasing their income to 31K. It wouldn't sound so bad if not for BH's blatant air superiority. You get no leg room for giving up a front completely.

Days of Ruin, while subtracting some stupidity, also adds its own. Know what starts on Black Hole's HQ? A MD/War Tank, which even if you don't have it defaulted to CO status, is a guaranteed CO Unit because the 8K cost isn't going to DENT Black Hole's funding. Consider that Campaign Sturm in AW1 was a Glass Cannon, having an actual defense deficiency. Now consider that even a CO like Gage, the analogue to Grit, would have the War Tank boosted objectively. Yeah, Days of Ruin's War Tanks are slower and the COs don't have 1 Movement Cost units, but again, there's little room for evasion against the power boosts, and of course, I went with using Gage as an example. Imagine the Caulder CO War Tank on this map. When you do, at my behest, you will run screaming in the other direction at the mere thought of the brokenness.

And the clincher is, I'm still not done with providing the reasons why the map has problems. There's one more general reason to tear at for those who think I'm "salty" (God that term is stupid) about difficulty.
Master Knight DH at your service.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnightDH

User Info: MasterKnight75

MasterKnight75
1 week ago#6
The sucky ability to attack Black Hole

So let's say that Black Hole's offense can be rendered inefficient enough, despite my complaints. You still have to finish things by attacking their home base, and therein lies the rub. Remember how I complained about the map being riddled by Mountains? Well, it's particularly aggravating on Black Hole's side of the river. Literally the only way for vehicles to get into Black Hole's HQ area is to break through the 3 frontmost Cities owned by Black Hole at the start.

This is absolutely stupid. Any remote premise of flanking to be had by controlling the map is arbitrarily restricted to units vulnerable to Anti-Air Tanks. This in turn prevents any notion of countermeasures to flanking that would have their own drawbacks being used by Black Hole. Oh, but wait, there IS flanking against Black Hole. I'm just an idiot because apparently I didn't notice the paths the side COs could u- no, that doesn't work. Not only are the paths narrow leaving the units using them susceptible to air strike, but the 3 Cities still can't be flanked because there's Mountain tiles covering against that idea. And if you claim air units can just move onto those Mountain tiles, I'll just point out that both of them can be attacked from the north, right on Black Hole's side of the mountains.

What we are left with for the cleanup phase is a freaking grindfest. And the clincher is, there's already a lot of Forests on Black Hole's side of the mountains for Sturm to exploit with his 1 Movement Cost on traversible terrain, so why is it the game makes it impossible for vehicles to enter from the sides? It's quite possible for the tanks to get sniped by Bombers anyway, but at least this way the side COs' forces don't have to amount to surplus units that just aggravates the grindfest by justifying claustrophobia.

Really, if the developers would have to make losing ANY faction an instant loss result to stop ranking exploitation by Yielding with Andy's front on the last Day--which by the way also cuts down on the Stop Helping Me resulting from controlling different factions--I'd rather have that than the inability to flank Black Hole's base drectly. More options that still require some strategy in a strategy game (IMAGINE THAT) would appeal to people better than ONE option that is gimmicky beyond belief.

Oh and yes, speaking of ranking, I am left wondering: why does Power count for only 1 CO? Sturm isn't ever going to approach 50 units if you want a shot at clearing the map in 14 Days. And yes, 14. DAYS. With how the map slows you down as much as it does, I'd be wondering why the Par Time couldn't be something more reasonable like 16 Days, but then again, Advance Campaign has maps that are absolutely impossible to clear within the Par Time as early as It's War. There's a reason Advance Wars 2 was a lot less idiotic with the Par Times--to this day, I don't even know the Par Time for Great Sea Battle without looking it up and I still would have no problem getting full Speed when I set up around getting Yellow Comet, using freaking Kanbei on a map where the added costs absolutely sting, to snipe the Pipe Seam with a Rocket Launcher. (And actually, the aspect of knowledge does bring up how Battalion Wars 2 had a QoL improvement in reviewing ranking by getting to know the Par Time for a given mission, among other data.)

And yet....
Master Knight DH at your service.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnightDH

User Info: MasterKnight75

MasterKnight75
1 week ago#7
Somehow, the map doesn't suck as bad in Shattered Throne

A couple of people were uploading Advance Wars maps onto Shattered Throne's workshop. The Final Battle is among them, under the name "Sturm Reborn":
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1377341695
There are some changes to the map because of how Shattered Throne works. Just to clarify, the opposing CO is Lilith the Fallen, the de facto Big Bad of ST, leading Dark Cabal units, but you can choose *ANY* CO. This brings me to how even though the map copy designer gave Lilith a fortress wall to work with to make offense harder, it is far from unreasonable to clear this rendition of TFB within 10 Days even with a slow CO like Alera, as shown here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH9kcxWfH8U
Oh, and there's some misplaying around with Turn 8 where I could have ended the battle with a Banner snipe, even if the Banner had been put on a Fortress tile for the defense boost. Yes, I calculated: I had enough Seraphs and Town tiles to work with. Oh, and what makes Alera underwhelming as a Shattered Throne even though she has a D2D of 1 turn capture of enemy settlements? Her CO Powers are bad for a more simple offense. Contrast to Oakhart:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69onGWKHQ8I
Yes. *ONLY FOUR DAYS.* Oakhart's SCOP arguably contributes even though it's actually a weaker Lightning Strike aside from how CO Powers can be repeatedly used on the same Day in Shattered Throne, but really, it's the pseduo-Sturm movement that makes his offense nuts. Sure the only real benefits provided for non-horse units is non-friendly Fort tiles being low costing, but the easier time Unicorns have getting onto Forests makes SCOP usage MUCH more powerful. Clearing the fortress wall faster also allows for harassing the newly deployed units as well as the Banner.

Oh, and here's another CO who stands out:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U29Dm6bf0p0
5 Days. With a CO built to be defensive, as Morghast's abilities are all built around deployment, rather than any sort of active offense. Even if the mobility boosts on newly spawned units were lower, I would still have the option of using Necromancers' Energy Overload on max boosted Wraiths to quickly smash the Banner on Day 5.
Master Knight DH at your service.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnightDH

User Info: MasterKnight75

MasterKnight75
1 week ago#8
In fact, this brings up that there's a whole host of reasons why Shattered Throne plays out faster:
*Units move faster when Plains aren't involved--and by the way, TFB doesn't have a lot of Plains to begin with. Mountains can also be traversed by land units, albeit for a high movement fee.
*Price gaps are significantly smaller than in Advance Wars. Even with deployment point settlements not providing money, there's quite a number of possible combinations of units within 100G that doesn't involve Defender units.
*Warlord-type units, as a special mention, not only fly, but have *VERY* good abilities when used right. Seraph's Chainstrike being a Chain Lightning effect using Combo Points as the conductors, Wraith's AOE that gets bolstered by megaton ATK especially after being enough killed units, and of course Gryphon's extra turn for scoring the kill can bring about no shortage of devastation to enemy frontlines when given the chance to do so.
*Capture phase is faster with neutral settlements being taken in only 1 Day (enemy settlements still require 2, though the handling there is changed up), as well as ANY unit being able to take settlements. (Defender units get combat abilities to keep them from being left in the dust.)
*Range units can move and attack on the same turn, at the cost of attack power--keeping in mind that ST is a game with subtraction defense.
*ANY target within range is viable for attacking, even if it's as nonsensical as War Engine against a flying unit. This keeps not having an Academy for your own (non-Sprite) flying units from being a painful disadvantage.
*Combo Points incentivize methodical offense against even the tank units, as targets get weakened by Combo Points, and defeated targets with more Combo Points active on them cough up more Mana to use for CO Powers.
*CO Powers themselves can be used multiple times in a single phase without limit beyond Mana. There's a good number of extra turn powers, although with significant additional restrictions that provide blind spots. The COs who don't have extra turn powers generally still have CO Powers that are still solid in their own right, especially for their costs.
Master Knight DH at your service.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnightDH

User Info: MasterKnight75

MasterKnight75
1 week ago#9
Now Sturm Reborn, where it stands, still has problems, ones that are inherent to the map with little Shattered Throne can do to fix them, even if we change the Abyss tiles back to Mountains, which I want to say is more Oakhart's fault than anything. There is, however, clear improvement with a much faster pace and even some semblance of flanking and anti-flanking ability at key areas. If there was one quick fix I would do to Sturm Reborn besides the Abyss stuff, it would definitely be to add gates onto the fortress wall (gates being like the tile at the very center of the fortress wall), so that there would be far less need for a CO like Alera to hold out at the center.

Oh, and just for reference, YOUR STARTING FORCES DON'T FREAKING SUCK. All of your units, including the lowly Defender-types, can actually do something useful. If you're wondering what the biggest difference is, those Battle Helicopters I complained about? They're replaced by Gold level Warlord-types. Meanwhile, because of the smaller price gaps, the opposing forces' starting units total cost is about 820G, when even Dark Cabal's exceeds 900G. You could actually have an active offense during the second half of the battle that only slows down because of a terrain change that ultimately just does what was already done in vanilla TFB.

Of course, you might argue that besides being very different (as if that's an innately bad thing at all), it's because Shattered Throne is much faster than Advance Wars that would be why I could be talking out my butt with pacing, that I would, in all the farce of an argument I could ever hear against my own disposition, forget about the story of the tortoise and the hare, with Shattered Throne being a hare to Advance Wars' tortoise. This would work as a comparison with Advance Wars having the capture phase be slower, range units not being able to move and fire on the same Day, and of course the unit RPS composition, but if we're going to work with that, I'll just bring up the air unit mobility, because Shattered Throne's flying units are actually slower, even if they weren't slowed down by Mountains. They're still powerful, but even Vampire, for all that he personally bugs me with his enemy phase friendliness from healing off of melee attacks and generally having synergetic benefits for his own attacks mixed with his 7 Movement Power, actually has to worry about overextending due to par at best HP *AND* underextending because all 3 factions can answer him specifically without much flow loss if given the breathing room. By contrast, Fighters and Bombers in AW have well-deserved price tags for what they can do, and even then, anti-air balance is sketchy anyway, providing reason for the Missile Vets in Battalion Wars.

Lesson learned: when you balance a game, be aware of what can disrupt your theme, and ESPECIALLY consider the Counter Play much better. Advance Wars, TAKE NOTES.
Master Knight DH at your service.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnightDH

User Info: MasterKnight75

MasterKnight75
1 week ago#10
In closing

Now this whole thing is at this point clocking in at over 4500 words, and for what? A single level in a game which has communities that will happily claim that they've been trying to get rid of the troll for years but apparently I wouldn't be getting the hint--claims they'd be making while my bottom screen would be showing these two things:
https://pastebin.com/PUG8qA85 (a chat log showcasing the results of their behaviors)
https://pastebin.com/k3bbeh8x (testimony against the communities)

Even if we got past the politics that stain the Advance Wars communities and their general progeny like the Tiny Metal and Wargroove development teams beyond belief, why care about TFB's design anyway? AW1 is over a decade and a half old, and the series has long been abandoned by Intelligent Systems. Anybody interested in taking the reigns of a Spiritual Successor either gets bashed so mercilessly destroying any chance of halfway workable PR through no fault of their own (Checkmark Games, the makers of Shattered Throne), don't give a damn about innovation (Area35, the makers of Tiny Metal) or only care to throw in clearly half-efforted mechanics and call that "balance" (Chucklefish, the makers of Wargroove).

But yet, Shattered Throne has people using the Workshop feature to add AW maps, which is why I was visiting the subject of TFB in the first place, because it's as I pointed out: TFB plays out *MUCH* faster in Shattered Throne. And even then TFB still ends up with clear problems, but at least now they can be pinpointed. I might be able to tolerate Andy getting pounded the whole fight while Max--er, sorry, EAGLE beats Sturm and takes us to a nonsensical "friendly spar" because we went to the trouble of defeating Green Earth 4 times in a row with Sami to mitigate the damage done by having the west CO be a meteor magnet. What I can't tolerate is railroading that arbitrarily lengthens the cleanup phase, in a strategy game.

The whole thing boils down to history lessons on level design or especially game design, made particularly blatant BECAUSE this is talking about the climactic battle. If you need a bulleted list, here you go:
*Avoid Fake Difficulty such as Guide Dang It getting involved in even starting your level
*Have your difficulty settings based on actions in earlier levels be freaking consistent (yes, I'll keep tearing at arbitrary punishment to the player for doing the obviously harder option on one level for this, especially when it contrasts how Sami and Drake have awful forces in TFB)
*Provide the player freaking functional options that would allow for overcoming the involved disadvantage
*Make land units VERY able to punish air units that overextend, as well as able to consistently advance without getting ruined unconditionally by the damned kiting
*Compliment your game's pacing and theme as best you can, ESPECIALLY handling counterbalancing well
*Don't make the cleanup phase an atrocious nightmare with a grindfest
*For God's sake, *ALLOW COMPETENT FLANKING LIKE WHAT YOU'D EXPECT IN A FREAKING STRATEGY GAME*

Here's to hoping aspiring designers will listen, instead of continue to make similar mistakes.
Master Knight DH at your service.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterKnightDH
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