Some time ago, I noticed that Game Boy Wars 3 manages some good ideas for anti-indirect combat. While Artillery is still too powerful there, that's merely the result of it having 5 range while the AA Tank has bad defense and has to deal with the bad execution of the Focus mechanic. Even with that and the ability to move and fire on the same turn, it's entirely reliant on Bazooka flooding to do anything that warrants cringing.

What could have happened that Artillery still is anywhere close to being balanced with upwards of NINE effective attack range rather than their meager 3 in the AW games? In order to hit the Artillery, you have to reach it before it can hit your guys and wipe them out, which becomes a problem especially on rough terrain. Well, believe it or not, for starters, GBW3 has reduced Movement Costs. Let's compare to the Movement Costs used in Days of Ruin.

GBW3 Grunt DoR Grunt GBW3 Lite DoR Tire GBW3 Armor DoR Tread
Plains 1/1 1/1 1.5/1.5/1.5/1 2/1 1/1 1
Forest 1/1 1/1 3/3/1.5/2 3/3 2/1.5 2
River 2/2 2/1 x/x/3/3 x/x x/4 x
Mountain 2/2 2/1 x/4/4/4 x/x x/x x
Wasteland 2/1.5 1/1 3/3/3/2 3/3 3/2 2
Beach 2/2 1/1 x/x/3/2 2/2 x/4 1

In EVERY single scenario except the Beach terrain costs, GBW3 is more or less the clear victor. The Lite Land vehicles are more mobile on Plains, Forests don't hinder vehicles as much, Mountains and Rivers are not complete barricades to all vehicles, and even the Wasteland is a little less difficult to deal with. Well, not quite, armored support units actually end up having more difficulty.

That brings up something. The Artillery actually end up having only 4 Movement Power as opposed to 5. DoR Artillery gets 5 Plains, 2 Forest+1 Plains, or 1 Forest+3 Plains. GBW3 Artillery has 4 Plains, 2 Forest, or 1 Forest+2 Plains. But you know how the Light Tank is called fast in the standard AW games? Even though there's not a considerable difference there, just a free Plains tile worth of movement unless there was a blatant Forest clump or a repeating Forest-Plains-Plains-Forest-Plains-Plains combination as the optimum path. Let me wait to talk about each. Point is, 6 Movement Power is in GBW3 actually mere standard aside from the AA Tank (5 Movement Power), rather than the "fast" that AW claims it is, as there's even a 7 Movement Power anti-tank vehicle with mountain and river crossing (enough said) as well as lack of problems on Plains. This means that the Artillery can't hide as easily.

And even the 5 to 6 Movement Power transition actually does something. Let me go back to the two examples: both would be blatant attempts to fix the pitiful Movement Power difference between the Light Tank and the MD Tank. Without the 1.5 Movement Costs, Forest clumping is just asking for aggravated infantry spamming because 6 Movement Power vehicles, and even 7 Movement Power ones, will be no faster than the Infantry themselves. FPPFPP still has problems too, as 4 Movement Power vehicles still won't move any slower than 5 Movement Power vehicles, and if you have the optimal path be 1/3 Forest tiles, that still reduces the Light Tank to effectively 4.5 Movement Power, when vehicles are more likely to come out 3 days later than infantry, and they're certainly not going to be built in bulk before midgame, when the infantry spammage has already overtaken the center because they're freaking core units.

What does 1.5 Movement Cost do? Fixes that easily. Now 5 Movement Power units can move through 3 Forest tiles per turn. 6 Movement Power ones will move through 4. Now they're legitimately faster than infantry. Not by enough? No problem, the Work Car can fix Forest clump problems by turning some of the tiles into Plains. (And if you don't have predeployed Work Cars on each side to counteract the high prices of some of the units, I don't know what to say. They'd be useful for toning down the price problems and managing the Materials spike for bringing in early vehicles.)

Now if you think that terrain clumping is a bad idea simply because of the defensive cover, it was only so in the AWs because they balanced 1HKs and general damage around Plains at most. Definitely not Cities. Let's see: first off, Artillery 2HK stuff too easily there. There are only a few matchups where any indirect deals sub-50 base on a valid target. And the Artillery even effectively 1HKs Infantry and Mechs, since it deals 85% base, allowing for an Infantry followup to finish it off, and the Artillery costs less than the Light Tank. As a result, the only thing direct-fire units really have over them is open battle range, but good luck managing to set that up without a map that will meet with other blatant issues. Problem is, the number of hits required is MUCH more important for a direct-fire unit than it is for a range-fire one, since it has to move next to the unit to begin with, where it prevents another unit from attacking as easily and can't be covered by another unit if it fails to destroy the enemy unit.

In addition, Anti-Air Tanks deal only 105% base to Infantry and Mechs. They can't obliterate the pains in one volley at all if they have only 85 Net Attack, which is bound to happen if the infantry are on Cities.

This would bring up that Game Boy Wars 3 seems full of Glass Cannon units. Key word there is SEEMS. What's really going on is the widened range of valid matchup damage and simply higher number of lopsided matchups. Buggy VS Humvee, for example, deals only 7 HPs of damage. Humvee VS IFV deald only 6. Humvee or IFV VS APC provides 8, not bad but not considerable. MB Tank VS IFV dishes out only 6. And Gunship VS IFV? Only 7. It's actually harder to notice because the AA Tank is more of a Glass Cannon itself, Fighter VS Fighter dishes out 7 HPs of damage, the Buggy and Humvee are vehicles that can be hurt by MGs, and there's a better number of Road 1HKs, with terrain and partial HP KOs being more plentiful.

Meanwhile, the MB Tank and Tank Hunter's mirror matches each deal only 4 HPs of damage. This is a revamp I like because tanks are the staple of a working army and having them be defensively stronger than they are offensively tones down FTA by preventing self-countering. But I'm wanting to point out that the two tanks actually have defense power. The Bomb weapon is the only weapon (outside the Tank Cannon++) that deals more than 6 HPs base to the Tank Hunter or the MB Tank. The MB Tank actually takes less than 5 HPs base from basically any land unit, and I'm going to talk about how this becomes important soon enough. As for the indirects, the Artillery's 30 Armor ATK is actually less than that of the direct-fire anti-armor units, except the Tank Hunter, but THAT has considerably more defense. The Artillery, in fact, even gets 1HKed, although on Roads, by the Humvee and IFV, compared to only overexpensive units being able to 1HK it on Roads. This is important, because the game inherently balances around City defense, and more importantly, terrain defense actually affects low attack values more.

Yep, that's right. Rather than use percentages, terrain defense flatly subtracts hard damage.

Let's do a quick comparison of matchups and how much damage is done to show how useful it actually is, listing a second value in the GBW3 values for 8 HP damage.

GBW3 City GBW3 Forest DoR Plains (110 ATK) DoR City (110 ATK) Old AW Plains (100 ATK) Old AW Forest (100 ATK)
Grunt mirror 3.5/2.5 3/2 54% 50% 49% 44%
Grunt VS Bazooka 2.6/1.8 2.1/1.3 44% 40% 40% 36%
Bazooka mirror 2.6/1.8 2.1/1.3 54% 50% 49% 44%
Bazooka VS Grunt 3.5/2.5 3/2 64% 59% 58% 52%
Bazooka VS Light Tank/Tank Hunter 3/2.1 2.5/1.6 54% 50% 49% 44%
Bazooka VS MB/War Tank 2/1.3 1.5/0.8 14% 13% 13% 12%
Bazooka VS Artillery 7.3/5.6 6.8/5.1 70% 64% 63% 56%
Light Tank/Tank Hunter mirror 2.7/1.9 2.2/1.4 54% 50% 49% 44%
Light Tank/Tank Hunter VS MB/War Tank 1.8/1.1 1.3/0.6 20% 18% 13% 12%
Light Tank/Tank Hunter VS Artillery 6.8/5.1 6.3/4.6 70% 64% 63% 56%
MB/War Tank mirror 2.9/2 2.4/1.5 54% 50% 49% 44%
MB/War Tank VS Light Tank/Tank Hunter 4.2/3 3.7/2.5 84% 77% 76% 68%
MB/War Tank VS Artillery 9.6/7.3 9.1/6.8 104% 95% 94% 84%
AA Tank VS Grunt 15.5/12.1 15/11.6 104% 97% 94% 84%
AA Tank VS Bazooka 10.7/8.2 10.2/7.7 104% 97% 94% 84%
AA Tank VS Gunship 11.1/7.8 11.1/7.8 132% 132% 105% 105%
AA Tank VS Attacker/Bomber 7.8/6.3 7.8/6.3 77% 77% 75% 75%
AA Tank VS Fighter 7.1/5.7 7.1/5.7 77% 77% 65% 65%
Artillery mirror 6.8/5.1 6.3/4.6 74% 68% 67% 60%
Artillery VS Grunt 6.5/4.9 6/4.4 90% 82% 81% 72%
Artillery VS Bazooka 4.2/3 3.7/2.5 84% 77% 76% 68%
Artillery VS Light Tank/Tank Hunter 2.7/1.9 2.2/1.4 60% 55% 63% 56%
Artillery VS MB/War Tank 1.8/1.1 1.3/0.6 34% 31% 40% 36%
Gunship mirror 7.5/6 7.5/6 71% 71% 65% 65%
Gunship VS Grunt 12.2/9.5 11.7/9 74% 68% 67% 60%
Gunship VS Bazooka 8.8/6.7 8.3/6.2 64% 59% 67% 60%
Gunship VS Light Tank/Tank Hunter 4.7/3.5 4.2/3 70% 64% 49% 44%
Gunship VS MB/War Tank 4/2.9 3.5/2.4 44% 40% 22% 20%
Gunship VS AA Tank 3.5/2.5 3/2 10% 9% 22% 20%
Gunship VS Artillery 6.8/5.1 6.3/4.6 64% 59% 58% 52%
Attacker/Bomber VS Grunt 10.1/7.8 9.6/7.3 114% 105% 99% 88%
Attacker/Bomber VS Bazooka 7.2/5.5 6.7/5 110% 100% 99% 88%
Attacker/Bomber VS Light Tank/Tank Hunter 6.6/5 6.1/4.5 104% 95% 94% 84%
Attacker/Bomber VS MB/War Tank 5.7/4.2 5.2/3.7 74% 68% 85% 76%
Attacker/Bomber VS AA Tank 5/3.7 4.5/3.2 84% 77% 85% 76%
Attacker/Bomber VS Artillery 9.3/7.1 8.8/6.6 104% 95% 94% 84%
Fighter mirror 7.1/5.6 7.1/5.6 54% 50% 49% 44%
Fighter VS Gunship 12.5/10 12.5/10 132% 132% 120% 120%
Fighter VS Attacker/Bomber 8.9/7.1 8.9/7.1 71% 71% 100% 100%

I'm going to actually say Days of Ruin a few things (not quite all) right from what is shown in the above table. If you're wondering which ones, you're free to ask me on Skype (mknightdh). But right now, I just want to point out a few things, which Days of Ruin DOESN'T do right. First, I find balancing around City cover works for the following reasons:

  • Weaker self-countering, which results in weakened FTA.
  • You fight over properties to begin with.
  • Surplus units are forced to use what amounts to sub-standard cover terrain. This punishes spam and bad unit organization.
  • Air units always have set Cover to begin with.
  • Forest needs only 10 additional Cover to be useful. (This gave me misgivings at first.)

Next is AA Tank VS Grunt. (AA Tank VS Bazooka being underwhelming results from Bazooka's 14 Armor DEF.) 8 HP AA Tank still deals 12 HPs of damage to a City Grunt--an inherent 1HK. Even the HQ won't change that (10 HPs of damage), so don't even expect it to. Compare to in Days of Ruin where the AA Tank needs to be at 9-10 HPs to manage the Plains KO. With luck damage. I'd rather not lose the AA Tank's infantry 1HKing ability too easily because somebody decided to abuse defense. My AA Tanks can still get hit, but I'm expected to guard them well to begin with so that I don't become victim of an air raid. Anyway, point is, high attack and low defense aren't affected much by terrain because the damage cuts are more or less hard values, barring the defender's HP.

On the other hand, low attack and high defense values actually suffer. Tanks get high defense per their very purpose (surviving abuse) while Artillery have lowered attack values than in the AW games. If you look at Artillery's matchups against the tanks, you'll noticed two things: Tank Hunter doesn't even get 3HKed on the City, whereas in the AWs the Light Tank gets 2HKed easily. And the MB Tank isn't even 4HKed on a City, while a Forest makes sure they live through no fewer than FIVE hits. In a 10 HP system, this is VERY impressive, certainly something compared to the 3HK that the War Tank in DoR takes on a City from a 110 ATK Artillery (31+34+36=101).

And it gets even worse for the Artillery. See how quickly their damage values still dip when they get damaged? Yes, you're actually punished for getting an Artillery piece hit. Sure, they still don't get 1HKed easily despite their low defense, but that's mainly a problem if they're inexpensive, allowing for easy backup. Of course, an Artillery piece in GBW3 needs repairs MORE than usual because they are considerably less useful when damaged, as they will still have the same amount of damage cut as before, only now they have a low amount of damage to begin with. So you'd need the thing repaired even more, and that's going to hurt your funds. Stuff like tanks can at least get back to the action sooner and do something useful, so it's easier to avoid noticeable repair expenses, but with an Artillery piece, the necessary amount of repairs can lead to trailing in value units.

Of course, the repair problem is an off-balance weakness, since you need to hit the Artillery to cause it. And admittedly, Game Boy Wars 3 is far from perfect in that regard due to OP Bazookas mixed with effective lack of first strike, but it does have some inventive ideas that just would just need to be fine-tuned.

That should be that for now.

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