Advance Wars Strategy and Tips

With the release of Advance Wars: Days of Ruin on the DS, I figured I’d hand out some general strategies and tips for the Advance Wars series. These are just some things that you should look to incorporate into stategy, if you aren’t already doing so. For newcomers, these are some of the most essential and basic things that you’ll need to learn in order to score well on the single player maps and to hold your own online. For experienced players, if you’re missing out out on of these, this will definitely help you elevate your game. If any readers have additional tips (no codes or cheats), please comment and I’ll update the post and give you credit. Anything that is specific to a Days of Ruin will be noted.

At the Start of Each Turn:

The first thing you should do at the beginning of each turn is to scout out your enemy’s units. Check to see if they’ve positioned any indirect attack units (rockets, artillery, battleships, etc.) in a way that if you don’t shift your forces around that you’ll be open to attack. Also, before building any new units, double check that your factory isn’t within range of any indirect attackers. This is pretty simple, but it’s a real bummer when you build a shiny new tank only to get it slammed by a rocket attack before you even get to move it.

After checking on the indirect attackers, check the attack reach of the enemy tanks and air units. These are typically the units that will give you the biggest headaches because often they can attack without fear of counterattacks. If you have air units threatening you, try to move your units within reach of your anti-air defenses. If you don’t have anti-air defenses, you need to get your ground units out of the reach of the bombers and dusters (DoR unit), as they’ll tear your ground forces up quickly. If air units are ever a threat, it’s a good idea to have at least one missile unit traveling along behind your tanks to act as a deterrent.

After identifying the range of your enemy’s attacks, do the same for yourself. Before you just start charging into enemy lines, check out all of your units that are in attacking range and plan out an order of attacks that will minimize the damage you take from counters. Always fire off your indirect attacks first!

Now that you’re ready to attack, don’t feel that you need to attack with every unit possible. At certain points you’re better off retreating to cover or positioning your units for later attacks rather than just attacking all out every turn.

Attacking Strategies:

When you identify a unit you want to engage, check the surrounding terrain. If you can attack from cover, do so (unless moving into the cover puts you in range of one of their attackers next turn).

Never attack without considering why it’s important to eliminate or damage the enemy’s unit at that time. You’re ok letting an Infantry survive if attacking it will break your attacking formation or delay your overall strategy.

Treat air units like indirect units. Attack with your air units first to soften up the enemy before you roll your tanks into the fight.

Army Movement Strategies:

Move your army together as one cohesive unit. Don’t leave units behind as stragglers or else the computer will make short work of them. Also, never send units far ahead of the pack, they’ll get slaughtered before you have a chance to make use of them. If you are fighting on more than one front, follow the same tactics and keep your units close to each other in their respective areas of the map.

Use your indirect units to create space. By positioning rockets up just behind your tanks/infantry, your enemy will be reluctant to approach. This is a good tactic to push opponents out of key capture areas or to force an enemy to withdraw out of strategic choke points on the map.

When possible, move your infantry and mech units into the mountains for better cover. Tanks, anti-air, rockets, missiles, and other units should take the spots in the woods and cities if available. For naval units, choppy water provides some defense, so avoid smooth waters if you can.

Use your air units to block off the advance of enemy ground units. Sometimes a cheap duster (Days of Ruin) or transport chopper can be very valuable for blocking the enemy advance while you get your ground units and indirect units into better position. Use this strategy to buy your infantry more time to capture cities, ports, factories, airports, and other structures.

Don’t feel too bad about placing a cheap unit like a recon into a sacrificial situation. If you can buy an extra turn to get your indirect units in place by letting a War Tank (Days of ruin) unleash on a cheap recon, it’s worth it.

When you’re making good gains against the enemy, parking a unit on top of their factories or airports is a great way to limit their rate of building. If you can put a cheap unit on top of one of their factories that will last through the computer’s attacking phase, you’re effectively denying them a building phase.

Building and Production Strategies:

Don’t always buy the most expensive units. Unless your situation is calling for pure brute force (which is rare), you just don’t need to always be pumping out spendy units. Many times you’ll need middle of the road units, like regular tanks or anti-air units, to help build up your lines. You can use these lesser units to slow down the enemy’s advance.

Always, always, always, have some anti-air units around. These are incredibly versatile and are the single best unit for dealing with infantry that are trying to capture bases or cities. The anti-tank units can move long distances per turn, which allows them to keep the enemy’s air attack out of range for long periods of time as well as stop their infantry advancement.

Don’t build units that will be within the enemy’s indirect attack range unless they can be repaired to full or near-full strength on your next turn. You can waste a ton of money building tanks only to have them get slammed by a rocket attack seconds later. Try to deal with indirect threats before bringing new units onto the map.

Build at the end of your turn rather than at the beginning. After you’ve launched a few attacks and repositioned your army, you might find that what you would have built moments earlier no longer makes the best sense.

General Tips:

Keep your troops, tanks, indirect units, and aircraft well-supplied. The computer doesn’t make very good use of APCs (rigs in Days of Ruin), so their tanks often run out of ammo and their aircraft eventually run out of fuel. If you can keep your units well-supplied, you’ll eventually come to a point when you can just tear through their units.

Remember that fog of war applies to the AI as well. The computer enemy can’t see through the fog of war, so hide your units in cities, woods, and mountain areas. Also, putting infantry in the mountains helps you see through the fog a lot better. If things aren’t going well, don’t be afraid to drop back to the fog and re-evaluate. Always have recon units in play during fog of war levels.

Use battleships to support your ground units when possible. It can be difficult to get landers to unload your units safely, but if you have a battleship or two near the beach, it will keep the enemy from moving into that area long enough that you can gain ground. Make indirect units and the larger tanks your primary focus for battleship attacks.

Use the seaplane (Days of Ruin)! The seaplane is one of the easiest units to forget since you have to produce a carrier first. This unit is capable of devastating ground units quickly, just remember to return to the carrier to refuel regularly.

Thanks for reading. If you have things to add or see anything you might question, please email me and we can discuss it or work to update the guide together. You can email me at jar155 [at], or you can just comment on the blog and I’ll definitely notice.


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