CO Conversion Bonus: Days of Ruin COs

Bonus update: in which I look at and rebalance (some of) the Days of Ruin COs.


Will
2/0 stars. Direct attack ground units.
2 CO Zone.
New Era: +2 to move for direct attack ground units.

Will sucks.

Okay, to be fair, from what I gather the competitive scene considers him to actually be valid within in it, but he's low-tier and Isabella is considered to be the top of the tiers, ignoring Caulder (Who is banned from online play anyway) and, interestingly, Tabitha on pure ground and/or Fog maps. (Tabitha is apparently considered balanced on maps that have both ground and air in matches Fog where is off)

So my basic point still stands.

If I were to rebalance Will in an attempt to make him not-bad-Isabella, it would go like this:

2/0 stars. Direct attack units.
3 CO Zone.
New Era: +2 to move for direct attack units.

Now Will charges faster than Isabella and affects more units at a time, as well as affecting all air units and most sea units. He's still flawed, but he's much more worth considering.

Brenner
0/2 stars. All units.
3 CO Zone.
Reinforce: +3 HP to all units.

I actually consider Brenner to be one of the best-balanced COs in the game. At most I might give him an extra star of defense (Maybe 2?), if I found that the overall higher-tier metagame tended to shunt him aside. He's a great all-around CO who doesn't push anyone aside or overlap too heavily with anyone, with a reasonably unique dynamic.

Lin
2/2 stars. All ground units.
1 CO Zone.
Scout: +2 line of sight to all units, and tiles do not hide units.

Lin has the best overall stars of any CO who isn't specialized in air or sea and isn't Tabitha (Hampered by her CO Zone of 0) or Caulder. (Not intended to be balanced at all)

On the other hand, having a CO Zone of 1 seriously hampers her, and her CO Power doesn't do anything except spread her power if the map isn't Fog. Her specialization in ground units is also a questionable design decision, as out of land/sea/air specializations, it's the only one that can be indistinguishable from "benefits everything" on the right map. (ie on any map that lacks both sea and air)

Here's one possible way I'd rebalance her:

2/2 stars. All units.
1 CO Zone.
Spot: +2 line of sight to all units, tiles do not hide units, and +1 range to indirects.

You might go "But that basically invalidates Gage!" and you'd be right. That's okay, because if I'm rebalancing Lin, I'm rebalancing Gage too. More on that when we get to him.

Isabella
1/1 stars. All units.
2 CO Zone.
Deep Strike: +2 move for all units and +2 range for all indirects.

Seriously, Isabella normally charges as fast as Will, has the same star total, benefits all units including indirects (Something he doesn't do, hurting him on even pure ground maps), has his movement boost but for everything and has Gage's range boost for indirects! I have no idea why Intelligent Systems set up Will to be so obviously overshadowed by her, and Gage is either worse about being obviously overshadowed or only slightly better, depending on what you focus on.

That said, Isabella herself isn't who I would choose to focus on for rebalancing. She's actually what I'd consider a 'target goal' -a strong, consistently relevant CO who doesn't warp the metagame with their presence.

Forsythe is so unpopular I can't find his cutin!
Forsythe
1/1 stars. All units.
5 CO Zone.
No Power.

I sort of like the idea of Forsythe, but he ends up bounding a lot of other COs -Brenner, for instance, matches his size when fully charged, has the same star total, and has a CO Power, putting Forsythe at serious risk of being invalidated by him as-is. He's also just... weak, and his tremendous CO Zone is not very leveragable since his bonus is so small. You'll almost always be better off with Brenner or Isabella in practice.

If it were me, I'd come from an entirely different angle on the "CO with no power" idea.

3/3 stars. All units.
3 CO Zone.
No Power.

Now Forsythe has an impressive bonus in an impressive base radius, with the caveat that he has no CO Power and won't expand his range. Revamped Lin, for instance, has the same Zone size when fully charged, only slightly lower stats, and can activate a CO Power. He'll still be better up front, and bounce back from losing his CO more readily, though, keeping him relevant.

I never noticed how his cutin makes him look like he hasn't slept in forever
Gage
2/1 stars. Naval and indirect-fire units.
2 CO Zone.
Longshots: +2 range for all indirect-fire units.

The other CO Isabella laughs at and basically kicks out of the meta. I found Gage was almost competitive on maps that were closely clustered islands, such that his indirects could contribute to the sea fights and there was nowhere for land units to hide from his Battleships, but that's about it. Anywhere else, Isabella pretty much directly one-ups him, except on 'pure' sea maps where instead Greyfield tends to one-up him. In theory he's decent for pure-land maps via artillery batteries, but Isabella providing benefits to the direct-fire units too tends to overwhelm his slight firepower advantage with indirects. He just plain has no good niche.

Rebalancing him in the context of this project is slightly complicated by Grit's presence, but let's take a shot at it anyway.

5/0 starts. Indirect-fire units.
0 CO Zone.
Longshots: Indirect-fire units can move and shoot for this turn.

This is a Gage reliant on setting up in a Rocket or similar, pounding away the enemy with a core of powerful artillery, and pressing forward with said core periodically, relying on the indirects' zone-of-death to hold newly-taken ground. His crippled CO Zone makes it difficult for him to get started, and unlike Tabitha he doesn't make it harder to kill his CO Unit, so it's a bit of a fragile dynamic.

I dropped the sea specialty because it's just... there, no explanation or justification, in the game, and it's a poor fit to his CO Power. (Both the new one and the old/canon one)

Tasha
4/2 stars. All air units.
1 CO Zone.
Sonic Boom: +2 move to all air units.

Tasha has the highest star count of any CO that isn't Tabitha or Caulder in the base game, and her CO Power sounds very useful, but a CO Zone of 1 is almost as bad as Tabitha's 0 for an air game, as air-to-air combat almost never lines up in little rows. In practice she tends to be shunted aside by Tabitha (More stars, not restricted to air units, CO Zone size disadvantage is less important than you might think), Isabella (Flatly superior CO Power, better CO Zone), or Waylon. (Only one less star total, bigger CO Zone, CO Power actually has similar utility in spite of not looking like it does)

Let's come at this from a different angle.

4/2 stars. All air units.
5 CO Zone.
No CO Zone

This Tasha provides a big bang to a large area, but only for aircraft, and with no CO Zone to give her a bigger push. Overpowered on maps with air? Maybe. I'm not convinced, honestly. An air focus is always narrow on any map except certain pre-deployed ones. (And in Days of Ruin, your CO only determines your music on a pre-deployed map) Eagle somewhat obscured this point in previous Advance Wars games, because his (S)CO Power is so general and amazing he's actually viable on a pure land map, but when you focus on just an air specialty, like Tasha does?... Honestly, she might still end up overshadowed by Revamped Forsythe.

Greyfield
1/4 stars. All sea units, plus Sea Planes, Battle Copters, and Transport Copters.
3 CO Zone.
Supply Chain: Restores fuel, ammo, and materials on all units.

Greyfield is an admirable attempt by Intelligent Systems to make a naval specialist who isn't terrible as a result of being a naval specialist: he also covers Copters, and with Sea Planes giving even naval maps that lack Airports the potential to have your sea power projecting useful force arbitrarily deep into land, he's already taking advantage of one of the ways Days of Ruin addressed the problems with naval specialists. Specifically: an air specialist is also only relevant on maps with the right Properties, but their units are relevant regardless of the exact map construction, where naval units are only relevant to naval battles, air units that bother to expose themselves to naval battles, and land battles that are conveniently in Battleship range.

Supply Chain is a nice support to the Sea Plane issue, as Greyfield can have one or two Carriers pumping out an infinite supply of Sea Planes. This is very nice, as every 4 Seaplanes you want normally demands a surcharge of 2800$ from making a new Carrier under normal conditions. As Carriers are, themselves, of limited utility if a map isn't mixed air/navy, this is a fairly significant burden to pay, so Greyfield opting out of it past the first Carrier(s) if he's not suicidal with them is very nice. Since Sea Planes are primarily limited by their awful Fuel and Ammo reserves, there's another layer of natural synergy there.

On the other hand, that's still a lot of money to be spending before Greyfield's advantages are being leveraged, And if you think he can get by on focusing on the relatively cheap Copters... Waylon is probably better at using them, with the same Star total, a more relevant CO Power, and a serviceable CO Zone, while then benefiting all the other aircraft too.

Honestly, within the bounds of Advance Wars' 'design rules', I don't see much point to modifying Greyfield. He'll perform well (Or at least decently) on sea-oriented maps and poorly everywhere else. For an even more serious attempt at rebalancing Days of Ruins' COs, I'd probably try to overhaul him... and specifically I'd probably move him away from being navally oriented at all. The navy is just too limited in Advance Wars.

Waylon
2/3 stars. Air units.
2 CO Zone.
Wingman: 270% more defense (27 stars) for all air units.

Wingman boils down to taking a little under 33% of base damage, which is amazing by Days of Ruin standards, effectively tripling the durability of his aircraft.

Waylon could probably use a tweak/boost, but I'm not sure what it would even be. When it gets down to it, having more than one air specialist in an Advance Wars game is a dubious, problematic proposition, so improving him while finding him a niche and maintaining his specialty is actually pretty nightmarish. For the purposes of this project? I'm leaving him alone, alas.

Tabitha
5/5 stars. All units.
0 CO Zone.
Firestorm: 8 HP of non-lethal damage to enemy units in a targeted (Automatically, without the player's input) 5X5 radius. Oh, and of course Tabitha's entire army is benefiting from her stats.

I've never actually gotten confirmation on Firestorm's targeting rules and haven't tested it enough myself to be reasonably sure of its mechanics myself. Probably it either targets by cash value or HP value, as with equivalent CO Powers in the prior games, but I don't actually know.

The main thing I might do if I were to rebalance Tabitha would be to tone down Firestorm. I mean, come on, you're already spreading your insane bonus to everything on the map. Do you really need to also one-up Sturm? Alternatively, I might ramp up her stars even further and remove her access to a CO Zone, though that would tend to lead to her struggling on larger maps.

Overall though, she's an amazing CO but unlike Caulder she's not flat-out broken. Her crippled CO Zone makes it hard for her to get momentum going, and while whatever unit she's running around in is strong, it's not unstoppable or anything.

Penny
1/1 stars. All units. Units are unaffected by weather, even when not in her CO Zone.
3 CO Zone.
Stormfront: Changes the weather to a random, non-clear weather for this 'day', the next 'day', and the 'day' after that.

I've always found it telling that the devs still ended up incorporating a CO with a map-wide effect, in spite of their desire to move away from that with Days of Ruin.

Anyway.

Here's what I'd do:

2/2 stars. All units, but only during a Sandstorm. Units are unaffected by Sandstorm at all times.
2 CO Zone.
Sandblast: The default weather is permanently set to Sandstorm until Penny's unit is destroyed. If the weather is currently Sandstorm, does 2 HP damage to all enemy units.

Sandstorm specialist!

... honestly, I'd prefer to make her more distinct from Converted Olaf, but I'm not coming up with good ideas. Weather specialization has always been wonky from a balance standpoint, all the way back to the original Advance Wars, and it doesn't help that this project implies multiple weather specialists.

Bizarrely, I can't find Caulder's cutin either.
Caulder
5/5 stars. Units regain 5 HP each turn, at cost as though repaired. All units.
3 CO Zone.
No power.

Caulder is pretty disappointing on a design level. He's monstrously overpowered, invalidating basically every other CO just by existing, and the game doesn't even use that fact properly -the final mission's difficulty comes much more from the Nest setpiece than it does from Caulder being ridiculously overpowered! Which is the only time Caulder shows up in gameplay. Basically, Intelligent Systems missed out on an opportunity to create a really interesting CO (His CO Zone providing healing is a cool, interesting mechanic), and it doesn't even do much to help make Caulder a scary endgame superboss or anything.

Tentatively, this is how I'd rebalance Caulder:

1/1 stars. Units regain 5 HP each turn, at cost as though repaired. All units.
3 CO Zone.
No power.

Compared to Converted Rachel, he does more healing with a better base radius and even provides some actual stats, but he has no CO Power and his radius is inferior to Rachel's once she's charged.

This Caulder's primary goal is to build up a core of elite units and grind the enemy down with no need to retreat. He lacks the usual potential a CO has to make a big push, but he puts a fair amount of pressure on his enemy on an ongoing basis -but doing so burns cash, so he can end up hamstringing his production.

... honestly, 5 HP a turn is potentially a gamebreaker all by itself. Caulder is someone I'd keep an eye on, if I did this as a serious project.

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So, that's this design exercise done with. Hope you got some value, anonymous reader.

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