Multiplayer Information

General Multiplayer

These articles cover the basics and are applicable to any version of the game.

Getting Started

  • Introduction
  • Glossary of Short Terms
  • Naming Philosophy

AW4 mechanics

AW3 to AW4 differences

  • Mechanics and unit changes
  • DEF shift
  • Base damage changes

Competitive Multiplayer

These articles are more in-depth, but more importantly, they assume that players are using the AW4 Balance Patch. This changes the statistics of the commanding officers (COs) and assumes various game settings. As of May 2020, all online competitive play uses the AW4 Balance Patch.

The World of Intelligent Defense

  • Introduction & How to find games
  • Standard game settings
  • Why are sea units not played?
  • It’s not just about winning
  • Myths and assumptions debunked

COs

COZoneEffectPower
Brenner3110/130 all+3 HP all
Caulder1130/130 all, +1 HP/day (costs funds)None
Gage2140/130 indirect, 110/110 other+2 indirect range
Greyfield3140/120 tech, 110/110 otherSupply all units (incl. materials)
Forsythe5120/130 allNone
Isabella2120/110 all+2 MP all, +2 indirect range
Lin1130/130 land, 110/110 air+2 vision land, hidden tiles revealed
Penny3120/120 allWeather change for 3 days
Tabitha0170/160 all (190/180 COU)8 HP 2-radius nuke (cost bias)
Tasha1160/140 air, 110/110 land+2 MP air
Waylon2130/160 air, 110/110 land+270D air
Will2130/110 direct land, 110/110 other+2 MP direct land

Units

  • Soldiers (infantry, bike, mech)
  • Core (antiair, tank, copter, artillery)
  • Tech (mdtank, wartank, rockets, bomber, duster)
  • Niche (recon, flare, antitank, missiles, fighter)
  • Transport (t-copter, rig)

Theory

  • Cost efficiency
  • Direct-fire folly
  • First turn advantage
  • Hard and soft counters
  • Indirect clusters and lines
  • Material advantage
  • Tech units
  • The 1HKO
  • Unit count

Strategy

  • Banking
  • Capturing
  • Chip damage
  • City support
  • CO units
  • Double teaming
  • Forced leveling
  • Joining
  • Mopping up
  • Offensive COU push
  • Parallel formation
  • Shielding
  • Turtling
  • Wall busting
  • Zone advantage
  • Zone management

Charts

Anatomy of a day

What happens during a day?

The structure of turns, or days in AW parlance, are designed to be simple on the surface, yet complex enough to provide interesting gameplay. Each day, many things happen, but most of them are automated before the player is given control. The order of steps is shown below. All steps before Action are automated.

Income: At the beginning of the day, players earn income in which to buy and repair units. In the PvP environment, each property provides 1000 funds (F) per day, so calculating daily income is simple. Own 15 properties? F15000.

  • To earn more income, properties must be captured by soldiers. Each property has a capture count of 20. Once it reaches 0, the property is captured. A soldier may move onto a property and reduce the capture count by the amount of HP it has. The capture count is reset if the soldier moves off it or is KOed. Thus, a healthy (10 HP) soldier can capture a property in two days.

Property repair: Units on any properties will be repaired or supplied as long as the property is able to do so.

  • Repairing will heal a unit by 2 HP, set health to 10 x HP, and supply the unit with full ammo and gas.
  • Repairing costs 10% of the unit’s cost per HP healed. If a unit only needs supplying, this is done for free.
  • Cities and the HQ only repair land units. Industries only repair the units they build.[1] The temp structures (temp airport/temp seaport) only repair their designated units.
  • Radars and com towers cannot repair any units.

Sea supply/repair: The cruiser supplies all loaded copters, while the carrier repairs all loaded air units. Standard repair costs apply.

Gas upkeep: Air and sea units have gas upkeep. This is 1 for all sea units, 2 for copters, and 5 for planes. After upkeep, the game checks for any of those units with 0 gas, and destroys them.

  • Having exactly enough gas to meet the upkeep isn’t good enough. The game only cares if the unit has 0 gas.
  • Submerged submarines have a gas upkeep of 5 instead of 1.
  • If an air or sea unit has 0 gas as a result of movement, it won’t be destroyed unless it has 0 gas at the next gas upkeep.
  • Land units don’t have gas upkeep. They will simply be unable to move if they have 0 gas.

Rig auto supply: Units adjacent to rigs will be supplied. Note that this is after gas upkeep, so you cannot rely on this to save a unit in danger of being destroyed! You must use the rig’s manual supply the day before the critically low gas unit is doomed.

Action: The player is given control. Units may be used however the player desires, whether it’s moving, attacking, or staying idle. Once a unit has been used for the day, it will change to a darker color. Once it seems you have used all your units, make sure you haven’t forgotten any by performing the L-check. Press the physical L button to select the next idle unit, if any.

Build: Units are built from industries, which are special properties. Building units from industries should always be the final actions taken before ending the turn. By using all of your units first, you’ll have an idea of what you’ll need to build if anything didn’t go as planned.

  • Players cannot create more industries. PvP maps allocate an equal amount of industries for each player.

End turn: Self-explanatory.


Footnotes

[1] The seaplane, though built from a carrier, may be repaired at an airport or temp airport.

Interface

AW4 101

New to multiplayer? Welcome to AW4 basics, where you’ll learn everything from how the controls work, to all the nitty-gritty mechanics explained. Most people reading this already have an idea of how multiplayer works, but this section will assume absolutely nothing. It’s better that way in case you learn something new.

There are three ways to win in AW multiplayer:

  • Rout: Destroy (KO) all enemy units.
  • HQ capture: Each player has a specific property called the HQ (headquarters). If that is captured, the player loses.
  • Property count: Most games have a turn (day) limit. At the end of the day limit, whichever side has more properties is the winner.
    • If property count is equal, whoever has the least loss value (as shown on the results screen) is considered to be the winner. This rewards a player who has dealt more overall damage than the other.

Singleplayer missions occasionally have different goals, but those three goals are the only ones in PvP (player vs. player) play. Each side chooses a CO (commanding officer) that tailors to a specific playing style. COs provide specific boosts, and most of them have a chargeable COP (CO power) meter. Once this is charged, the CO can invoke it to cause a map-wide effect.

The first three games took place in a land called Wars World. The fourth game, Days of Ruin, is a near-complete reboot. All COs from the first three games are gone, and many mechanics were changed, but the essence of AW gameplay remains intact. AW4 is the first title to feature online internet play, and was thus the first game in the series to receive substantial PvP play.[1]

In a PvP map, players typically start with a low income. They build inexpensive units and capture neutral properties to earn more income, which allows them to build more powerful units. Battles are fought over who can hold more properties than the other.

How attacking works

Units can attack in one of two ways: direct or indirect. A direct unit must be adjacent to the enemy unit to attack, but may move into place before attacking. An indirect unit can attack from afar, but cannot have moved that day.[2] If a direct unit attacks an enemy direct unit, the defending direct unit will receive the hit, then counterattack if able. Indirect units cannot counterattack, nor can they be subject to counterattacks.[3]

Extra boost

In the first three games, the CO boost applied to units regardless of where they were on the map. In AW4, the CO boost is only applied to a limited area around the CO. A CO must first attached to a unit. That unit, called a COU (CO unit), will have an aura around it called the zone. Units in the zone, along with the COU itself, are boosted according to what the CO provides. Zone units are able to charge a CO’s COP meter. More details on zone mechanics will be explained in other articles.

Stylus control

The first two AW games were on the Game Boy Advance, so those games only had d-pad control. AW3 (Dual Strike) was on the DS, so it introduced stylus control, and AW4 refined it. Though AW4 supports both d-pad and stylus control, it is highly recommended to use stylus control exclusively. Stylus control is faster than d-pad control, and if there’s ever an AW5, you’ll be all set! There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back to d-pad control again.

There are three possible actions while using the stylus:

  • Tap: Touching the screen momentarily.
  • Press: Touching the screen and holding.
  • Drag: Touching the screen, then moving the stylus in a direction.

To select one of your own units, tap it. A transparent green set of squares shows the possible movement area. Any enemy units that can be attacked are highlighted in red. There are different ways to control the stylus at this point, so this will be tricky:

  • Non-menu cancel: Tap away, which means tap a non-highlighted tile.
  • Menu cancel: If you are in a menu and wish to cancel, you must tap the B icon on the lower right, or press the physical B button. The non-menu cancel method doesn’t work, and this is a peculiar bug of AW4. The attacking methods below avoid menu canceling.
  • Move and not attack: Tap the tile you wish to move to, then tap Wait to confirm, or menu cancel.
    • In fog games, you may wish to drag a manual path in order to avoid an ambush.
  • Move and attack with a direct unit: A direct unit must be next to the enemy unit it wishes to attack. Drag from the attacking tile towards the enemy, then tap the enemy. The damage box will appear. Tap the enemy to confirm, or tap away to cancel.
    • The reason for doing this instead of going into the menu to fire is that in the menu, you cannot tap away to cancel! You must press B or tap the B button on the lower right. Learn to minimize menu canceling in order to play faster.
  • Attack with a direct unit without moving: If your unit is already next to the enemy unit, simply tap on the enemy. The damage box will appear. Tap again to confirm, or tap away to cancel.
    • You could also do this if the enemy unit is far away, but then the game will auto-assign a path, and you may wish to attack from another tile. Use the move and attack with a direct fire unit method unless there is only one attacking tile.
  • Attack with an indirect unit: An indirect unit can only attack if it hasn’t moved. This is exactly the same as attacking with a non-moving direct fire unit. Tap on the enemy, then tap again to confirm, or tap away to cancel.
  • Load a unit into a transport: Tap on the transport, then tap Load to confirm. If you wish to cancel, you must menu cancel.
  • Attach a CO: The unit must be on the industry used to produce it, or on the HQ. Tap the unit, then tap CO. This costs half of the original price of the unit. The new COU may then perform another action.
  • Build seaplane from carrier/launch from carrier/shoot flare from flare: Units with these actions must not have moved already. Tap the unit and select the action from the menu.
  • Build temp structure from rig/supply from rig/unload from transport/raise or dive submarine: These actions can be performed after moving. If a cruiser or lander has two loaded units, one or both may be unloaded.

The only reason to see the menu is for non-attacking actions. Therefore, menu canceling should almost never happen for expert stylus users. Think of non-attacking actions as being subject to touch-move in Chess: don’t do them unless you are absolutely sure. Canceling attacking actions are forgivable because players need to constantly check the damage box.

There are a few actions which involve pressing:

  • Check attack range: Press on the unit. This is used on enemy units almost all the time, but can be used on your own units.
  • Check enemy unit movement range: Tap on the unit. This is nowhere as useful as checking attack range, but is sometimes used to check non-attacking units. Non-menu cancel to leave.
  • Dim all units: Press on a tile without a unit.

The only action that cannot be done with the stylus is select next unit. You must press the physical L button for that. The “L-check” is a useful technique at the end of the day to ensure that you haven’t missed any idle units.

Dual screens

The lower screen is the main screen, where all of the action takes place. You perform all stylus actions here.

AW4 has two viewing modes which can be toggled on-the-fly. Always play in zoomed-out mode. Not only do you see more of the map, but the units themselves are more aesthetically pleasing because they aren’t angled.

The upper screen is the info screen. Basic information about units and terrain are displayed. If the cursor is on a unit, you may toggle between terrain and unit info pages by tapping the page icon.

The unit info page shows the unit vitals, and a very simple chart listing what units it’s good and poor against. On offense, there are only three indicators: an up arrow for effective, a down arrow for ineffective, and a dash for cannot hit.  Defense is a little more detailed: units on the yellow warning line deal 75 to 85 BD (base damage) to it, while units on the red warning line deal at least 90 BD to it. As these charts don’t detail the important nuances of all the matchups, don’t rely on them. Instead, use the base damage charts as your main resources.

The terrain info page is much more important because it has player information. All players are listed along with their chosen COs, COP meters, and total unit count. If fog is off, property count and current funds are listed for all players. If fog is on, they are only listed for the active player.

Pressing the menu icon brings up the main menu. This is accessed to end the turn. The only practical options you may use is Delete Unit and Surrender, both of which for some reason are hidden in Mission Info. The other Mission Info options are rather superfluous because the terrain info page is good enough.


Footnotes

[1] Advance Wars By Web is an online version of PvP AW. However, it’s not faithful to any version of AW. It’s a mashup of AW2 and AW3 COs with AW2 mechanics, and is thus considered an unofficial spinoff.

[2] The battleship is the exception: it is the only indirect unit that can move and fire.

[3] One exception: An antitank attacking into or defending from an enemy unit 1 tile away can counterattack or be counterattacked by direct units and other antitanks.

Gas trick

Normally, a unit spends 1 gas per 1 MP. The gas trick can be used to make almost any >2 MP movement cost only 2 gas!

To be more specific, the gas trick allows a unit to spend only 2 gas for any non-straight path greater than 2 tiles, or for any straight path greater than 1 tile but at 2 less maximum MP. A 1-tile diagonal approach is needed.

      N
     xNx
    xxxxx
   xxxxxxx        O = B-Copter (6 MP)
  xxxxxxxxx       x = Gas trick possible
 xxxxNNNxxxx      N = Gas trick not possible
NNxxxNONxxxNN
 xxxxNNNxxxx
  xxxxxxxxx
   xxxxxxx
    xxxxx
     xNx
      N

How to do it:

  • Select a unit.
  • Draw a path to 1 diagonal tile away from the destination. You may do this with the d-pad or by dragging the stylus.
  • Tap on the destination tile with the stylus, then confirm the final action. If the path didn’t redraw itself, the gas trick should happen.

Notes

You can also reach the destination tile by executing one frame-perfect diagonal movement action with the d-pad, but this isn’t recommended as it’s easier to mess up.

The gas trick is actually in every single Advance Wars game. As AW1 and AW2 don’t have stylus control, the frame-perfect d-pad diagonal movement action must be used.

As the approach to the destination must come in from 1 diagonal tile, a straight line path is only possible if the path is 2 MP less than a unit’s maximum MP. Therefore, a fighter (which has 9 MP) can use the gas trick to move 9 tiles in any non-straight path, or 7 tiles in a straight path.

Competitive multiplayer impact

The gas trick is an allowed technique in competitive PvP (player vs. player) because it takes slightly additional time to execute than just regularly moving a unit. PvP uses a turn timer, and if there are many units to control, a player may skip the gas trick if time is at a premium.

For land units, the gas trick is almost never used. There are always plenty of cities in which to supply your land units. But for air units, especially COUs and planes, the gas trick is very important. Air units have a gas upkeep of 2 for copters, and 5 for planes. In addition, air units typically dance around the map and constantly re-position themselves. Air units cannot be supplied by cities. All of this means that players will typically use the gas trick for all of their air units, or at least the key ones. When done repeatedly, air units usually won’t need to be supplied. This allows players to save the money that would’ve been used on a rig, and spend it on something else.

For example, let’s take the t-copter. Without the gas trick, the t-copter will use 8 gas per day (6 MP + 2 upkeep) as it shuttles mechs back and forth. All air units (except seaplane) have 99 gas. This means the t-copter can normally do 12 full movements before it runs out of gas, or shuttle 6 mechs from a base. But with the gas trick, the t-copter will use 4 gas per day, and be able to shuttle 12 mechs because gas consumption has been halved.

The duster is the most important unit when it comes to using the gas trick, due to its high movement, plane gas upkeep, and tendency to switch between fronts. Each day, it uses up to 13 gas: 8 MP + 5 upkeep. With the gas trick, the duster will instead use 7 gas per day and survive for at least 14 days if it uses all MP each day. As PvP games last up to 30 days, doubling the practical gas capacity of the duster is absolutely crucial.

1HKO reference chart

Click the image to get the high-resolution chart

This 1HKO chart serves as a quick reference to calculate which matchups result in a 1HKO at various ATK and DEF values.

How to read

  • ATK: Attacking unit’s ATK
  • BD: Base damage
  • DEF: Defending unit’s DEF. This is the highest DEF value that will guarantee a 1HKO.
  • %: The projected damage shown in the damage box. If this is ≥100, then it’s a guaranteed 1HKO.
  • +10D%: The projected damage shown if 10 DEF is added. This will no longer result in a guaranteed 1HKO.
  • Chance: The chance (in %) that the +10D% matchup results in a 1HKO. There are four 100D matchups in the table that are <100%; in these cases, this is the chance that those matchups result in a 1HKO.

Key matchups

This lists most of the common matchups from 55 BD to 105 BD that can result in a 1HKO. Only ≥75 BD artillery matchups are shown. No matchups involving rockets are listed, as it is the least common tech unit. No matchups involving niche or transport units are listed.

Additional chance notes

Note that this is assuming that all possible hits of the d11 luck roll are equally random. Like everything electronic, the DS uses a pseudorandom seed. Evaluate your paranoia and weigh the risks of losing the luck roll accordingly! You may also notice that the chances differ even though the +10D% values may be the same, such as 130A/80BD/110D and 130A/95BD/130D (94%). This is because the luck roll is added after ATK and BD are multiplied, but before DEF is divided.

Right side charts

The right side charts are for specific COs who are able to boost their ATK beyond 150A. Some theoretical matchups aren’t listed:

  • Tasha almost always uses a COU copter, so nothing above 75 BD is listed, as the copter doesn’t have >75 BD to anything except the t-copter (90 BD).
  • Tabitha has so much offensive power that matchups >160D aren’t listed, as it is rare that >160D is seen outside other COUs. 

PvP damage chart

Click the image to get the high-resolution static chart, or click the download link to get the morphing chart.

The PvP damage chart simplifies the full base damage chart, resulting in greater readability:

  • Units are sorted by PvP frequency: This makes more sense than grouping all the land units together by cost, then all the air units together by cost. The most common matchups are at the top-left area of the chart.  The core unit triangle matchups are in the dotted box. Transport units are at the right area of the chart for readability purposes.
  • No sea: Sea units (and the seaplane) are removed. They’re not part of the metagame.
  • Out-of-ammo secondary fire values are not included: Backup fire almost never happens in a PvP game. If your mech runs out of ammo, then it uses the bike damage values. Every other offensive unit has 5 or 6 ammo. If a unit runs out of ammo, then you should really retreat it to a city (if it’s a land unit), or join with a fresh unit. I’ve had maybe one or two games out of thousands where backup fire mattered. Consult the full base damage chart if you really need the values.

The morphing damage chart is an Excel file that lets you change the ATK+, DEF+, and HP values. ATK+ and DEF+ assume that 100 is added to any value, so input 30 if you want 130A or 130D. Install the fonts for best results. The chart’s calculations are game accurate, and will correctly calculate the rounding exception.

Full base damage chart

Click the image to get the high-resolution chart

This is the full AW4 base damage (BD) chart, complete with sea units, secondary fire BD values, and unit vitals. If a BD value is full-sized, it means that the unit has primary fire only. Units are mostly sorted by competitive multiplayer (PvP) usage, but transport units are at the right side for readability.

As this is for reference only and is not optimal for PvP, a morphing version isn’t offered. Take a look at the PvP damage chart for a tuned alternative that trims all the fat.

Advance Wars 4 (AwDoR) Balance Patch

Base Game: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (U)
Release Date: 3rd May 2020
Version 1.1: Download (XDELTA Format)
Short Description: This patch does 3 things:

  • Balance the COs. As well, all English information screens are re-worded to reflect the stat changes.
  • Adds a turn timer of approximately 5 minutes. (The exact timer is 4:58.65 due to coding quirkiness.) This should be plenty of time for remote desktop play.
  • Cracks Nintendo’s SSL authentication protection, allowing the game to connect to altwfc servers. Note that there still isn’t an emulator that can reliably do wi-fi play for everyone, thus this is currently only good for those with DS flashcarts.
Continue reading

Damage Changes from AW:DS to AW:DoR

This is an abbreviated list of the unit damage changes from Advance Wars: Dual Strike to Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. It is particularly helpful to see how the roles of units have changed between the two games.

Unit Damage Changes
Attacking UnitDefending UnitDamage ChangeAW3 DamageAW4 Damage
Anti-Air Tank-1025%15%
Anti-Air AW3 Mid Tank/AW4 War Tank-510%5%
Anti-Air Bomber-575%70%
Anti-Air Fighter+565%70%
Anti-Air Transport Copter+15105%120%
Battle Copter Anti-Air-1525%10%
Battle Copter Mech-1075%65%
Battle Copter Missiles-1065%55%
Battle Copter Transport Copter-1095%85%
Battle Copter AW3 Mid Tank/AW4 War Tank+1025%35%
Battle Copter Rockets+1065%75%
Battle Copter APC/Rig+1060%70%
Battle Copter Tank+1555%70%
Battle Copter Recon+2055%75%
Bomber AW3 Mid Tank/AW4 War Tank-2095%75%
Bomber Anti-Air-1095%85%
Bomber Missiles-10105%95%
Bomber Infantry+5110%115%
Infantry Artillery-515%10%
Infantry Rockets-525%20%
Infantry Missiles-525%20%
Infantry Anti-Air-25%3%
Infantry Battle Copter+17%8%
Mech Anti-Air-1065%55%
Mech Battle Copter+39%12%
Missiles Battle Copter+5115%120%
Missiles Transport Copter+5115%120%
Recon Tank+26%8%
Recon Anti-Air+44%8%
Recon Infantry+570%75%
Recon Battle Copter+810%18%
Recon Missiles+2728%55%
Rockets Anti-Air-1085%75%
Rockets Tank-1080%70%
Rockets AW3 Mid Tank/AW4 War Tank-1055%45%
Rockets Missiles-590%85%
Tank AW3 Mid Tank/AW4 War Tank+515%20%
Tank Battle Copter+810%18%
Tank Anti-Air+1065%75%
AW3 Mid Tank/AW4 War Tank Battle Copter+2312%35%