I know that this would fit better on the Battalion Wars Wikia, as Mortar Vets do actually exist there, but I'm planning to post this there too. However, talking about Mortar soldiers is what I'm doing here because it's appropriate here as I'll talk about soon enough.
Mortar soldiers are guys who fire grenades with launchers to hit opposition from safe location. Basically, they're range-fire Bazooka soldiers. The idea actually gets railed on in Advance Wars communities as an irredeemable unit idea, only beaten in awfulness by the sniper idea in fact. I find this to be proof that Battalion Wars handles power much better than Advance Wars does, because in Battalion Wars, I wouldn't place Mortar Vets any higher than upper mid on a unit tier list when Mortar Vets have a learning curve to begin with.
Don't understand what I'm talking about? Well, let me mention something simple: Mortar Vets in Battalion Wars have attack power problems as their weakness. Let that sink in.
Now back onto the subject at hand: Mortar infantry ideas are detested as being unable to be useful without brokenness, just like with the sniper except with different unit targets in mind. The unit with which main comparison is made is the Artillery. Here's the thing: the Artillery has only 3 net range, because with its attack power and limited danger from 1HKs, any more would mean that it would be able to function too well in a low crowd battle, which is something that should not be able to happen. Because, you know, that 6000G price tag means that low crowd battles are totally going to be a worry.
And yes, I'm going to be milking the Game Boy Wars 3 cow, but like I pointed out in my previous blog post here, there were ideas to give Artillery well deserved suffering such that it sees fit to actually let it move and fire on the same turn with 5 base maximum range. The Humvee is self-explanatory, but what's also important is how much terrain bothers to help units like tanks: not only do the lower Movement Costs allow for higher terrain cover levels to be a working standard, but the subtraction factor defense also hurts lower attack power more. Lower attack power units like Artillery.
So let's review how the Artillery works out. Starting with in low crowd battles, let's see why they suffer:
- Advance Wars - with only 3 net range, Artillery are easily kited.
- Game Boy Wars 3 - lacking the attack power to punch through terrain cover, Artillery can't hurt units like the MB Tank when they sit on Forest tiles.
- Battalion Wars - the manual unit can easily wade through the Artillery's fire.
And in high crowd battles, here's how they benefit:
- Advance Wars - there's so many units that range is no longer nearly as important. The Artillery WILL find a target. If they don't, they gain ground anyway.
- Game Boy Wars 3 - there are only so many terrain cover tiles, so something is bound to leave itself exposed and make itself a vulnerable target.
- Battalion Wars - the Artillery shots have high splash range in addition to high knockback on AI infantry. Also, emplacements. Self-expanatory.
The method used in Advance Wars revolves around the most passive behavior. Attacking into the Artillery formation too early will get you smashed, but they can't go anywhere. In order to be able to do so, they end up being more powerful against cover units than given a God given right to be.
Battalion Wars Artillery has the most variety, but GBW3 Artillery have the most potential for balance without breaking simplicity. (What's ironic is that they're the SIMPLEST. No need to program in the move+fire ban, which is there to keep Artillery from abusing position, but comes at the cost of making them Mighty Glaciers.)
But how does this have to do with Mortar soldiers? Well, despite 3HKing MD Tanks on relevant terrain (Days of Ruin reduces this to 4HK, but then does things like having the War Tank have less Movement Power and nukes its safety from Battle Helicopters to make taking ANY damage even more fatal), AW Artillery don't have as much attack power as you'd expect from Mighty Glaciers, or else they'd break the game, as if they aren't doing that already. Unfortunately, the damage cuts being a percentage ends up favoring lower end attack power units. And Mortar soldiers in AW would be VERY low end to ensure that there isn't ANOTHER unit that can humiliate War Tanks, which need to be actually viable without causing slippery slope.
Now the Mortar Vets in Battalion Wars are pretty much what you'd. Oh, expect that their shots also knockback AI infantry and have a good splash damage radius. Both of those are points of depth that wouldn't fit in AW, but they help the Mortar Vets and yet it isn't enough to even warrant calling them simply overpowered, let alone broken. Other units' added depth isn't why, because the Light and Heavy Tanks are both simplistic enough to translate to the standard NW games and they contest Mortar Vets just fine. The environment is a definite factor (existence of Flame Vets comes to mind, not to mention merely posting about this proves that much), but the main factor in the reason for them being fairly balanced is their lack of power, both offensive AND defensive.
Mortar Vets can try to frontline, but it is laughably inefficient, because they practically function like Bazooka Vets there, except Bazooka Vets actually have the attack power to be useful doing so by destroying the enemy armor units, but they end up taking a beating in general. Mortar Vets in the same scenario deal less damage and consequently take more hits for more punishment, when Bazooka Vets already have to work to survive. So they want to stay behind their comrades in arms, but even there it's not entirely safe, because an enemy unit that can punch through the frontlines without too much trouble can easily make their lives miserable. Low offense power makes it easy for the opposition to survive and wait for an attack opportunity, and low defense power makes them easy to take out.
But Mortar Vets are not without their use. In fact, they can definitely contest ANY land unit aside, though how well varies between units. Still, they're definitely more versatile than Bazooka and Flame Vets, if at the cost of effectiveness against individual units. Actually, why don't I provide a few lists? The infantry hierarchy in Battalion Wars has some interesting aspects about it.
First, the unit types that each infantry type contests (but doesn't hard counter due to low defensive power):
- Bazooka Vet - land vehicles (strongly)
- Flame Vet - infantry (strongly)
- Anti-Air (Missile) Vet - air units (strongly)
- Mortar Vet - land units (moderately)
- Grunt/Assault Vet - low defense units (moderately)
Now the best option between swarming and attacking different targets, and the optimal position for attacking:
- Bazooka Vet - swarm, frontline
- Flame Vet - attack different targets, opportunity
- Anti-Air (Missile) Vet - swarm, midlines
- Mortar Vet - swarm (vehicles) or attack different targets (infantry), backlines
- Grunt/Assault Vet - swarm, opportunity
And here are some tactics aside from what's implied above (IE Bazooka guys should keep themselves in good shape):
- Grunts can sponge low end attack power abuse, as well as pressure enemy infantry and even chip KO them. The scenarios where this advice is helpful aren't common, but definitely remember it for the times where it is.
- Flame Vets can easily guard flags, since they easily destroy enemy infantry that try to grab them. Of course, naturally, the difficulty is wresting the area from the enemy vehicles in the first place.
- Bazooka/Flame/Anti-Air (Missile) Vets can easily come down to which side can neutralize one type of the opposing units first. If one of the infantry types deals with all of their valid targets, they are free flag/emplacement units. However, if one of them is dealt with, the countering units have free reign on what's left over.
Okay, so that's less than I'd like. I guess I'll bring up some potential unit combinations and what counters them:
- Bazooka Vet + AA Vehicle -- Mortar Vet
- Mortar Vet + AA Vehicle -- Tank
- Anti-Air (Missile) Vet + Tank -- Bazooka Vet
That brings up something: in effect, Mortar Vets create a useful RPS triangle where they beat Bazooka Vets and yet tanks give them trouble. It would be a perfect combination. What I'd like to know, though, is why the AW community didn't think of this before.