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FAQ/Strategy Guide by Deathspork

Version: 1.0 | Updated: 03/08/01

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                                    For NES
                              Strategy Guide v1.0
                                 by Deathspork

 The Units
 How To Play
  --Getting Started
  --Choosing A Scenario
  --Modifying Your Force
  --Commanding The Units
  --Terrain And Refueling 
  --Winning The Game

 The Scenarios
 Effectiveness Chart
 General Tactics



(Taken from the booklet)
"The world is at war and the Desert Command Force under your direction is on 
the front lines. As leader of this crack Force, you alone have the power to 
determine the course of history. 

Sure, you've got powerful tanks and artillery and the well trained troops to 
use them. But so does your opponent. To be victorious, you must destroy all of 
your opponent's units or capture his headquarters. You must rely on your 
military training and instinct to plan a brilliant strategy. There is no room 
for mistakes.

The troops await your instructions..."

Its too bad they don't give Pulitzer prizes for videogames..


D-Pad: Moves the game and menu cursor

A Button: Chooses a command or unit

B Button: Locates the next available unit automatically or cancels a command

SELECT Button: Brings up the status report screen

START Button: Brings up the map screen

The Units

Your force in Desert Commander can consist of 9 separate types of units and 1
headquarters unit. Each scenario gives you a different set number of units to 
use, you can mix and match them however you choose without going over that 
limit. The available Units are as follows:

Tanks: A great all around unit, all around average without any major weakness

Armored Car: These excel in mobility, and are just as useful as tanks

Troop Transport: One of 2 vehicles with a special ability, can load the 
infantry units onto it to increase their mobility

Infantry: Low mobility, very effective against the enemy base

Field Cannon: Low mobility, effective against ground units

Anti-Aircraft Gun: Slightly more mobile than field cannons, effective against 
any type of aircraft

Supply Truck: Can pick up supplies from supply depots and use them on other 

Bomber: Airplane that is extremely effective against any ground unit but is 
extremely weak against fighters

Fighter: Airplane used primarily for taking out bombers

Headquarters: Not very mobile but has a very strong defense, destroy the enemy 
headquarters to win the game, if they destroy yours then you lose

    |The following chart summarizes the capabilities of each type of unit |
    |                                                                     |
    |  UNIT           RANGE  RANGE ON     RANGE    MAX FUEL     MAX AMMO  |
    |               ON ROAD    DESERT  IN WILDS                           | 
    |  ----         -------  --------  --------    --------     --------  |
    |                                                                     |
    |  Tank              16        10         8         100           10  |
    |  Armored Car       20        13        10         100           10  |
    |  Troop Transport   16         8         5         100            6  |
    |  Infantry          12         8         5         100            6  |
    |  Field Cannon      12         6         4         100           15  |
    |  Anti-Aircraft Gun 14         7         4         100           15  |
    |  Supply Truck      16        10         8         100            6  |
    |  Bomber            20        20        20         100            4  |
    |  Fighter           20        20        20         100            6  |
    |  Headquarters      12         8         6         100           16  |
    |                                                                     |

How To Play

Getting Started
Press start at the title screen, and then choose to play between either a CPU
controlled opponent or against a friend in 2-player. After that, you choose the
scenario and then modify your force, see the later sections of this FAQ for 
details on those aspects. Now you are in the game, simple as that.

Choosing a Scenario
Each scenario is a different map with varying size and terrain, and if you 
choose to fight the CPU there will be a different ratio of units you can 
command to units the CPU can command. On the easiest scenario you will have the
same amount of units as your enemy, on all others your enemy will have more 
than you. There is no variance in artificial intelligence in this game, so the
only thing that makes the later maps harder is the larger number of units your
enemy has.

The 5 available scenarios are as follows:

They get progressively harder as you move down the list. For full details of 
all scenarios consult the Strategies section of the FAQ

Modifying Your Force
Just before you start the game, you will come to a screen with a row of plus 
and minus signs next to a picture of each type of unit. Here you can just press
START to begin with the default battalion, or you can move the pointer to the
plus and minus signs and mix and match units however you want, as long as you
stay within the predetermined limit for that scenario. Just check "units left"
at the bottom of the screen, if you have no units left but want more of a 
certain unit, then just subtract a unit somewhere else.

You can also use the second controller to modify the second player OR the CPU's
forces. Personally, I consider changing your enemies units cheating. 

Commanding The Units
Each side takes turns issuing commands to all units (each unit can be commanded
once per turn). Use the cursor to select a unit and press the A button to pull
up a command window. The SELECT button will automatically locate the nearest 

The top-middle window shows the ammo, fuel and unit numbers, along with the 
terrain the unit is on. The lower right window is the command window, here you 
can choose your operation:

Movement: Use the D-pad to move the cursor to the desired destination. Remember
that every unit has it's own range, and that range varies according to the 
terrain. If you move into a square directly beside an enemy unit, you will have
to stop right there, you can attack if you want to.

Attack: When given the option of attacking, you'll have a pointer you can move
to any of the 4 squares directly beside you horizontally or vertically, choose 
the enemy to attack and press A. This opens up the attack screen and the battle
takes place.

Power: Brings up a window that shows the units name, range on each terrain, max
fuel, max ammo and ammos range. Not all that useful.

Change: Choose this whenever you want to end your turn, and hand it over to


Map: Press start to see a general map of battle, you can use this to plan and 
plot out strategies

Battle Statistics: Press select to see the remaining units of each side, and 
also change both army's theme music.

Winning The Game
The object of the game is to destroy the enemy's headquarters unit. Do that and
you've won that game.

Terrain And Refueling

There are many different squares that make up the grid on each scenario. Some 
of it is plain terrain, such as desert or grass. Some of it is difficult 
terrain like mountains and wilds, that will take away from your units range. 
And then there are places to refuel your units, and areas that will protect the
unit put there.


Desert: This is the average ground, that makes up most of the map

Grass: Little difference, but you tend to have a _little_ bit more attack power

Mountains and Wilds: Rough terrain that slows down your units

Road: Smooth terrain that will make the trip easier and prolong the range of 
ground-based units

Ocean: Only accessible to bombers and fighters, use it to your advantage

Other Squares

Town: Move a ground-based unit there to refuel it

Airstrip: Move planes their to refuel them. Fits 2 at a time

Wall: Greatly increases the defense of the unit, when moved there

Oasis: Greatly increases the offense power of the unit, when moved there



The Scenarios

First Battle
Ratio of Units (vs CPU mode only): 14/14
Grid Size: 34 height X 40 width
This is a good map to build and test new strategies and tactics out on, and 
familiarize yourself with the game. Even though it's the first map, the terrain
is pretty mountainous in the middle. 

Way To Victory
Ratio of Units: 14/18
Grid Size: 34H X 43W
Not all that much more difficult than the first scenario, against the CPU 
though you are slightly outnumbered, and the enemy forces are spread out 

Offense and Defense
Ratio of Units: 14/24
Grid Size: 34H X 55W
The difficulty level more than doubles here, since the map is a lot bigger and 
you are now far outnumbered against a CPU opponent. Now YOUR forces are spread
out while the enemy starts out in one tight cluster.

Bloody Battle
Ratio of Units: 21/31
Grid Size: 34H X 48W
Here you should start focusing strongly on aerial assault. It's not as big as
the last map and the terrain isn't so tough, but the enemy still far outnumbers

North African Front
Ratio of Units: 19/39
Grid Size: 34H X 57W
The last scenario is by far the toughest. I can only beat it with the "bulldog"
strategy (which I will discuss later), since you and the enemy are put at
completely opposite corners, you're going to HAVE to refuel each unit at least

Effectiveness Chart

This chart will show how each unit will fare in battle against each other unit.
I'm using numbers instead of the unit name so the chart will fit within the 79
characters wide limit of FAQs:

1. Tank
2. Armored Car
3. Troop Transport
4. Infantry
5. Field Cannon
6. Anti-Aircraft Gun
7. Supply Truck
8. Bomber
9. Fighter
10. Headquarters 

Effectiveness is put into 3 groups:

VE = Very Effective 
 A = Average Effectiveness 
NE = Not (very) Effective 

The unit listed to the left is the attacker, across the top is the defending
                        | 1| 2| 3| 4| 5| 6| 7| 8| 9|10|
                       1| A| A|VE| A| A| A|VE| A| A| A|
                       2|NE| A| A| A|VE|VE| A| A| A| A| 
                       3| A| A| A| A| A| A| A| A| A| A|
                       4|VE|VE|VE| A|VE|VE|VE| A| A|VE|
                       5|VE|VE|VE|VE| A|VE|VE|NE|NE| A|
                       6|NE|NE| A|NE|NE|NE| A|VE|VE|NE|
                       7| A| A| A| A| A| A| A| A| A| A|
                       8|VE|VE|VE|VE|VE|VE|VE|NE|NE| A|

NOTE: Even if a unit is very strong against another unit, that doesn't mean the
other unit cant be equally strong back. Take for instance bombers versus 
anti-aircraft guns, you can take out a lot of the guns with a bomber, but the 
guns are still very strong in return.

NOTE 2: Units gain experience as they get in more battles. A unit that has 
survived through, say, 3 battles will be pretty hard to finish off. This is 
especially true for the Headquarters.

General Tactics

-Use the Map
Press start during the game to get a general overview of battle, you can use it
to plot out a nice strategy.

-Move your headquarters unit into position
There will be at least a couple small red brick wall icons on each map, move 
any unit onto them to greatly increase that unit's defense. I strongly 
recommend reserving these spaces for the headquarters.

-Surround your headquarters
The enemy can't attack if they can't position themselves next to the unit. 
Block them out by putting a "guard" unit in each of the 4 squares directly 
adjacent to the HQ (or as many squares as you can). They'll have to get through
that unit to attack the HQ.

-Go for the jugular
That is, if it is at all possible, attack the enemy headquarters, ignoring any
units that aren't directly blocking you. 

-Attack with the fullest unit
If there is more than one unit within the range of the enemy HQ, consider both
its effectiveness against the HQ unit and how many battered the unit is. A full
unit of 10 vehicles should go in instead of one with 7, right? Once you attack
the base one turn and get some damage in return, you will want to retreat on 
the next turn if there's another, fuller unit that can take your space. 

-Build a shield
You can sacrifice some units to act as a wall or sorts to keep out enemy units 
from, say, your own HQ, or you can block them out of protecting their own base.
Just position a group of units 3 squares apart (leaving 2 squares of space in
between them), make sure its perfectly horizontal or vertical, if you want to
curve your shield then leave only one space in between units in that area. Now
no enemy can get through without first defeating a unit, but you can still slip
right on through.


The "bulldog" strategy
Here is the one I created and use, it is a quick kill for any scenario, but 
ONLY against a CPU controlled unit. Another person will easily guard against 
it. This has been the only way I've beaten the 5th scenario, North African 

-Set ALL of your units as bombers. That's right, every one of them.

-Use your first turn forming a huge cluster, out horizontally from the starting
position. If you are on a scenario where the units are split up, just join the
smaller group with the larger group, or at least move each unit somewhere close
to the main cluster.

-Also move the headquarters unit into position (behind a brick wall), or if its
out of range move it as far as you can towards the wall so you can put it there
on the next turn (VERY important).

-End the first turn.

-You're GOING to have units beaten and badly damaged, but just as long as you
still have a nice number of fresh bombers in the middle of the cluster, don't
worry about it.

-Fly your armada right past any proceeding enemy units, avoiding battle. Use
this turn getting your cluster around the enemy headquarters unit, in the ocean
if at all possible

-Make sure the fresh, 10-vehicle units are well protected, form a shield with 
the already-battered units behind them, to keep most enemy units away. Space 
them 2 squares apart so no unit can pass between them (this step isn't 
_absolutely_ imperative but it helps a lot).

-If you are playing the last scenario, North African Front (and only if), 
ignore the previous steps for this turn. You have to reform your cluster around
a runway and send them through one by one. It's time consuming, but just think,
your enemy has to travel the same distance and refuel as well. When this is all
done, re-read the previous steps here for the second turn and do them.

-End second turn

-After the enemy is all done, now is the time to put the operation into action.
Immediately fill any spots adjacent to the enemy HQ with a bomber, and attack.
Now when you have attacked as much as you possibly can, surround the HQ and the
cluster of other units surrounding it, and reposition your wall of bombers to
keep other units out of the area. Still keep a good supply of fresh bombers a
bit away from the main action, put some on a runway if possible.

-End third turn

-Basically repeat everything from the last turn. Pull out any battered units 
that attacked the HQ last turn, and refill their spots with full units. You 
should win the war in this turn. If you have to, try and take out some of the
units guarding the HQ, but don't block your other units out.

-This all works because its you getting to them before them getting to you. 
Also, since you moved your headquarters into position, they will have a hell of
a time trying to put a dent in you, so you have the advantage all the way. The
only thing that could possibly go wrong is if the CPU moves their HQ behind a
wall as well. This has never happened to me

Well this strategy should get you through any encounter against the CPU. I
unfortunately can't get anyone to play against me, so you're on your own as far
as a good strategy to use against a human opponent, but just look at the 
tactics section and you should be fine. If you have any tactics or a strategy 
of your own to add, just send an e-mail detailing it and I'll put it right in
(giving you credit of course).


                               -WRAPPING IT UP-


I've got to thank my older sister for buying me this game, and also paying for
me to go out to Washington state where I found the game. Also, Kemco/Seika for
making the killer NES strategy game North and South, the fact that this game 
was also made by them was the only reason I bought it. Thanks to them again for 
creating Desert Commander, as well as the instruction manual from which I got 
much of the information used in this FAQ. I of course thank God for my very 
existence. And thank you for reading this FAQ.


This document is Copyright (C) 2001 by me, Deathspork. It is a free document, 
you are free to upload it anywhere you please as long as it remains unchanged,
in its entirety, in its original format, and proper credit is given. Also, no 
profit should ever be made off of this document. Desert Commander is Copyright
1989 by Kemco, all rights reserved.

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