Mask of Arcadius: Orders

Orders is a secondary mechanic that sounds more interesting than it is: you can, by default, use one Order per turn, with the Order having some immediate effect at a cost of Command Points. Command Points are accrued at the end of a mission based on how much cash value of enemies you took out and how quickly you completed the mission -the faster you completed the mission, the better the multiplier on Command Point generation.

Since enemy counts per mission rise explosively as you progress through the game, aside a few early missions with abnormally high enemy counts where you're not really intended to kill all the enemies, Command Points start out as a somewhat precious resource where you only have the Command Points to maybe use a single Order in the entire battle, and ultimately are something you can be pretty slipshod with and have plenty to spare anyway, with the hard limit of one Order per turn being much more of a constriction. Kinda. We'll get into that...

The Orders are...

Full Forward
+20% Damage and +15% Aim for all units for 5 turns. Purged by All Guard.
Cost: 750 CP

Past the early game, Full Forward is an Order you should basically have on at all times. Killing more enemies total and/or killing enemies faster so you complete the mission faster means you get more cash and also means you get more Command Points; once you're past the early game, Full Forward is more than paying for itself to keep going on a regular basis.

Strictly speaking, it's probably optimal in some missions to delay a turn before using it to get the timing of when you'll need to re-activate it moved a turn later, due to reinforcement timing and other Order considerations, but as far as basic play goes having it always up once Command Points are plentiful is a good rubric.

All Guard
+10 Shield, +10 Evasion, and +20 to Flak for all units for 5 turns. Purged by Full Forward.
Cost: 750 CP.

All Guard has four key problems:

First of all, good play in Mask of Arcadius tends to give enemies little opportunity to shoot at you in the first place. Defensive boosts aren't as useful as killing everything dead.

Second, the non-Evasion boosts only apply to units that already have non-zero ratings: +20 Flak is not gifting Flak capacity to the Liberty, Bianca, Seraphim, and your Union Frigates. +10 Shield is only boosting the amount of Shield the Liberty and Bianca output, and also the Sunrider if you wasted money on its shield generator purchase, not providing personal Shield ratings to any of your other units.

Third, the boosts aren't that great. The +10 Evasion in particular is a joke, with only the Shield rating being reasonably tolerable, and only once you have both the Bianca and Liberty and preferably have extended their Shield radius already.

And lastly, All Guard is incompatible with Full Forward. If you could stack them, in the late game the above flaws wouldn't really matter; you'd use Full Forward on the first turn and All Guard on the second turn, that's all.

As-is... there's probably some specific situations in specific missions where All Guard is worth breaking out, such as to help you weather a Missile volley, but I largely ignored it in my own play and never felt like I was missing out. The few times I tried to find a use for it, I invariably ended up restarting the mission and trying a different strategy that avoided ever being in enough danger for All Guard to be theoretically useful. I never once completed a mission having actually used it in the successful run of the mission.

Repair Drones
Sunrider heals for 50% of its maximum health.
Cost: 750 CP.

Repair Drones has a very narrow window in which it's all that great. At the beginning of the game, you literally can't afford it, and anyway missions are mostly so easy you shouldn't need to waste the Command Points on it anyway. At a particular point in the plot, though, Repair Drones become something you have to purchase from the purchase screen to have access to the Order at all, with using Repair Drones using up one of your purchases. 400$ per Repair Drones use, which is initially painful to burn money on.

In practice, Repair Drones are thus potentially useful in the narrow window where Command Points are starting to get plentiful but before you have to burn actual money on them, and return to being somewhat useful toward the end of the game when 400$ a pop is chump change.

There's a bit of a meta problem here in that if the Sunrider ends up low enough on health to need a Repair Drones use it's probably ending up so low on Armor that it's going to be shredded by Assault weaponry, Repair Drones use or not.

The double-whammy past the early game of eating both Command Points and actual cash also makes Repair Drones difficult to justify, particularly since, as I commented in the Sunrider's own write-up, the end-of-mission repair cost numbers are always going to be way less than a Repair Drones purchase.

So... like All Guard, I would find myself breaking it out at times when struggling to get through a mission, but if I actually beat the mission it didn't involve a Repair Drones use getting me through.

Short Range Warp
The Sunrider is instantly moved to a chosen unoccupied space. The Order screen remains available.
Cost: 750 CP.

Short Range Warp is unlocked partway through the game, and has the unique quality of letting you use multiple Orders in a turn. It achieves this specifically by not doing away with the Order screen when you use it; you can teleport the Sunrider as often as you like so long as you have Command Points to burn, even if the Sunrider's own Energy supply is entirely drained, but if you fire the Vanguard Cannon you can't teleport anymore. This limits how abusable it is with the Vanguard Cannon; you can still, for example, teleport a few tiles out, fire the Vanguard Cannon, and then have the Sunrider manually retreat to your defensive blob, but you can't teleport way far out, fire the Vanguard Cannon, and then teleport back.

Of course, once Command Points are plentiful, the big thing Short Range Warp does is let you jump the Sunrider right on top of a chosen enemy and rip it apart with Kinetic cannons, completely ignoring the issues Kinetics have with distant targets... and then teleport right back, so you're never in danger. Notably, Short Range Warp doesn't even trigger attacks of opportunity! 1500 Command Points per turn might sound like a lot, but toward the end of the game you can easily be sitting on over 20,000 Command Points. So long as you're not completely frivolous with it, it's fine.

Mind, I got through the game only using that trick once, maybe twice, but that's how I know that you can reach the endgame with over 20,000 Command Points. I could easily have abused it more without it being an issue, and indeed it might even have partially paid for itself if I'd gotten missions ended sooner doing so. Certainly, I could've spent my money a bit differently...

Instantly resurrects a chosen dead unit, spawning it adjacent to the Sunrider or as close to adjacent as possible. Mercenary units are not valid.
Cost: 2000 CP

Resurrection is another Order you unlock partway through the game. No, not when Claude joins you in the Bianca. Later.

I personally don't use Resurrection much. Generally, if a key unit has gone down, there's something actually wrong with my strategy that needs to be fixed, and Resurrection is only going to delay mission failure, or if I do get through I'll have been so inefficient in other ways that it's not really worth it.

That said, in the late game and especially the final mission it can be nice to shrug off an unlucky death, such as if the Paladin gets wiped out by Rockets. That's the kind of situation I did break it out for.

Resurrection also seems to be a bit buggy. It's supposed to resurrect the unit with no Energy, and sometimes that happened for me but other times they resurrected at full Energy instead.

Vanguard Cannon
Inflicts 800 damage to all units -friend or foe- in roughly a straight line up to 6 tiles out from the Sunrider's current location, with the endpoint designated by the player.
Cost: 2500 CP.

The numbers provided are for the base stats. Sometime after the Vanguard Cannon is unlocked, you gain a purchase screen option to upgrade the Vanguard Cannon, raising its damage to 1000 damage and extending its maximum range to 7 tiles. As one of the most common PACT capital ships has exactly 900 HP, this can take you from weakening a line of four such cruisers to straight-up instantly killing them. That's not particularly hypothetical, either: I totally did wipe out four such capships in an actual mission because I had the Vanguard Cannon upgraded.

The Vanguard Cannon's damage is also unique in that it ignores all defensive qualities. Armor does not reduce it, units have no chance of evading it, and in spite of the graphics depicting lasers being fired Shields do nothing to reduce it either. They just take the listed damage, the end. This makes it easier to plan around it, and it also makes the Vanguard Cannon that little bit better at the role of softening the really tough units up before you use regular weapons to finish them off.

The Vanguard Cannon also doesn't care about the Sunrider's own Energy supply. It doesn't need any Energy, it doesn't drain any Energy. It's just an expenditure of Command Points.

Overall, though, while the Vanguard Cannon is actually really well-done at feeling like an impressive super-attack, it's actually surprisingly niche of an Order in practice. There's one early mission where you have the Vanguard Cannon and you're supposed to be trying to flee instead of fighting the increasingly unreasonable numbers of enemies where I stubbornly insisted on actually killing everything where the Vanguard Cannon was critical to achieving that, and there were a couple of other situations in the late game where it was worth it, but most of the time it's just a waste of Command Points. On most units it's either overkill or inadequate on its own, and enemies almost never line up so that you can actually catch a full line of units for maximum damage.

It's also made awkward by Mask of Arcadius using a hex system and then only letting you pick the endpoint -this is a bit of an irritating with Missiles as well, where sometimes they insist on their 'straight line' going through Flak fields completely unnecessarily, but it's a lot more annoying on the Vanguard Cannon, where you can have situations that ought to be a valid 'straight line' in hex terms but the game won't let you achieve that result and so you can't catch all the units you really ought to be able to catch from such-and-such position. Fiddling with the Vanguard Cannon is one of the few times I'm willing to abuse mid-mission saves, because it's awful to have things go wrong because I didn't psychically know ahead of time the game would refuse to draw a straight line in a way that would make perfect sense to do and now I can't back out of the decision. I actively recommend saving before you move (or teleport!) the Sunrider in a turn you're thinking of using the Vanguard Cannon.

Fiddly flaws aside, I actually do really like how the Vanguard Cannon is a cool super-attack that isn't spammably broken and isn't worthless either.


Yeah, I did basically just say 'you should spam Full Forward and mostly ignore all the other Orders'.

It's a system that could use work.

Next time, we move on to the first character-focused post: Ava, Asaga, and Chigara.


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