This article aims to be a comprehensive guide for the Advance Wars By Web website to help new users to get a game and start playing quickly. If you have just joined up, welcome! Those who are completely new to playing Advance Wars should see Advance Wars Overview first for a run-down of the game's basic mechanics. If you are familiar with the series and are checking out the site for the first time, the steps to go through to start playing are not too difficult or unintuitive, but it still may be helpful to read this guide and have a look at what can be done.
Regardless of your past experience, playing AW against humans is naturally much harder than playing against the computer AI. Don't lose hope if you are struggling to win games, everyone has to start somewhere! Refer to the Basic Strategy Guide for some good tips and things to consider for actually competing, and do not be afraid to ask for advice from more experienced players or your opponents either.
Links and actions (clickables) in the AWBW site are shown in bold below, note they generally show as green-type on the main website.
Creating & Joining a Game
Before one is able to play Advance Wars by Web, a player must either create their own game or join an existing game. This article will cover the creating and joining of traditional (casual) public and private games. See Global League and Tournaments for information on joining official matches.
Joining a Game
Joining a game is the easiest and fastest way to jump in; you are able to browse the selection of available games using the options at the top of the page. There you will find hosted games (which are created by other players, often with specific maps and rules in mind) and Z Games, which are empty games that are automatically generated every few hours using randomly selected maps and settings, and are free for anyone to join and play.
Upon finding a game to your liking, clicking Join Public Game on the list will take you to the Join Game page. After selecting your preferred Country and CO you will be put in the game, starting when the host elects to (if it is a hosted game) or whenever you and your opponent are both Ready (for Z games).
Joining a private game cannot be done through the browser like this - for private games, you will instead be given a join link by the host which will take you to the game entry screen. The process for joining private games is otherwise identical except that you will be prompted for the password set by the host to be allowed access.
Creating a Game
Creating your own game allows you to play a game to your own tastes with any map or settings you desire. To start creating one, click the 'Create Game' link under the Games tab on the top bar of the website.
You will first be asked to select a map for the game to take place on, shown on the right. You can pick from one of your own maps, or any map from the archive of AWBW, sorted by map category (see Map Categories for an explanation of each category). Alternatively, you can skip this step by creating a game directly from a map's page by clicking Create Game option in the toolbar.
Once that is done, you will be taken to the game creation screen. Outlined below are explanations for the various options.
- Game Name: The name of the game, for identification purposes. The set name must not be in use by another game. If it is, your game will return an error, and your game will not be created.
- Game Password (Optional): If left blank, your game will be publicly open for any user to join freely. If a password is set, other users will need to know the password to be able to join the game and it will not appear in the list of publicly displayed games.
- Comment: Any notes or comments about the game that will be displayed in the game browser. This can be used to inform prospective players of the intention behind the game, if it is not clear from settings or map alone. This comment will disappear on game start.
- Map: By default, this field will show the map you selected previously in the map browser and the properties that exist on the map; clicking it will bring you back there to allow you to change it.
- All Settings: This will show any default or recommended settings available for the game in question. Particularly for maps in use in the Global League, using this can be an easy way to generate balanced competitive settings for the map.
- Team: Only visible if the map supports more than two players. If checked, Teams will be enabled to be set freely by the game host. Armies on the same team cannot attack each other, and will all be declared the winner should one (or more) players meet any victory conditions. If left unchecked, the game will be considered a Free-For-All, with the last person standing the winner.
- Tags: If checked, all armies in the game will use two COs instead of one. The currently leading CO's stats will be used in battle until swapped out for the other CO. Your CO selection in Field 6 will be your leading CO on game start.
- Weather: Selecting "Clear" "Rain" or "Snow" will permanently force the game to have the selected weather effect in play. Selecting "Random" will have each player's turn have a randomly selected weather, with the rate of weather being 85% clear, 10% rain, and 5% snow.
- Fog: If enabled, Fog of War will be in effect through the whole battle. If disabled, the entire map will be revealed to all players at all times.
- CO Powers: If on, COs will have their unique day-to-day abilities and (Super) CO Powers available. If off, all COs will be the exact same statistically and the CO choice will be for aesthetics only.
- Funds Per Turn: The amount of funds each property on the map gives players, per turn. Labs and Comm Towers will always provide 0 funds per turn.
- Starting Funds: The amount of funds each player begins the game with.
- Capture Limit: If set to a value, the first person to hold the amount of properties set in the value will be declared the winner.
- Days Limit: If set to a value, the amount of in-game days before the game is over. If there is no clear winner by the time limit, the player holding the most properties at the time limit will be declared the winner.
- Units Limit: If set to a value, the maximum unit count of an army will be limited to that value. Any attempts to build units beyond this cap will be prevented.
- Initial Time: The starting amount of time on the timer, which denotes the time players have left to complete the game. If players fail to complete their turn within the set amount of days, their turn will be automatically ended. If a player runs the timer down twice in a row, they will be booted instead.
- Increment: The amount of time added to each player's timer at the start of each turn.
- Max Turn Time: The amount of real-time days players have to complete their turn before AET (Automatic End Turn). If players fail to complete their turn within the set amount of days, their turn will be automatically ended. If a player trips the AET interval twice in a row, they will be booted instead.
- CO Bans: Any COs checked in this field will be banned from play, unable to be selected by any player.
- Unit Bans: Any units checked in this field will be banned from play, unable to be built by any player. If a unit is banned but also Pre-Deployed on the map, it will still be able to be used as normal, but no more may be built.
- Lab Units: Any units checked in this field will require ownership of a Lab on the map in order to be built. If a map has no Lab, any Lab Units selected will be effectively banned from the game.
When finished, clicking Create Game will finalize most changes, and, if no password is set, post the game in Public Games.
Upon creating or joining a game, the game will be listed under "Games Waiting to Start". Here you can overview some further options before the game starts.
- Clicking your CO portrait will allow you to change COs before the game starts; banned COs will be greyed out. This is not visible to other players in the lobby, so counterpicking COs is not possible.
- Clicking your country icon will allow you to change your selected country. This will NOT change your position on the map as this is determined by the default armies on a map; it will only change your colour and visual appearance, and whether your units face right or left. This will be visible to other players' in the lobby, and you cannot change to a country that has already been selected.
- The GO / Ready button indicates to the lobby that you are ready to begin. Once all players have clicked ready, the game will automatically begin.
- X / Drop Out button will remove you from the game if you do not wish to play.
- Switch Position on Map will change your place in the move order - for example, changing to Blue Moon from Orange Star will set you as Player 2.
Other options include:
- Remove Player will kick other players from the game, if you do not wish for them to play.
- Invite Players will bring you to a screen to invite any players on your Friends list or use an invite URL to send to anyone you wish. If all player slots are already filled, this will instead say Start Game which will start the game immediately, even if not all players have chosen to Ready. A game cannot be started with less players than the map supports.
- Delete Game will prompt you if you wish to delete the game. If confirmed, the game will be instantly deleted without starting.
- Make Public / Make Private will remove the password from the game and allow it to be visible in the public games list or allow you to set a password to remove it from the list, respectively.
During Your Turn
Viewing your active game will take you to a page that displays the game map in the center, timer and creation information at the top, the game bar above the map and the player overview to the side of the map (or below it, if the map is too large to display all at once).
To build a unit, you have to click on a production facility (Bases, Airports and Ports, and also Cities if you are Hachi with SCOP active), and select the unit you want to build. Units you can build will be unformatted. Units you cannot afford will be in black and crossed out, greyed out units are units that you can only build if you own a Lab, and units that have been banned will not appear at all.
The funds required to build the unit will be deducted from your "Funds" shown next to your CO portrait.
Games are played in AWBW purely through mouse commands - no downloads or scripts are required to use the site. Clicking a unit will activate commands for that unit, and the game will highlight all the valid tiles the unit can move to. To move a unit, simply click on the tile you would like it to move to, or if you need it to stay in place, click on the unit twice. If you need to cancel your order, click outside the valid area or the menu.
Moving to a tile requires a path the unit must travel along, shown as a red arrow. If it is not otherwise specified, the game will generate one automatically for you. You can specify a path manually (generally useful only in Fog of War or for fuel conservation) by dragging the cursor along the route you would like it to take, provided the unit has enough movement to make it and it is not blocked by terrain or enemy units. For mobile devices, you can click and drag to achieve the same effect.
Once you have picked a tile or chosen to stay put with a unit you must specify the next action before the unit will proceed:
- Fire is pretty self-explanatory and will appear if the target tile places the unit where it has valid targets to shoot; eligible targets for firing will show up in red. This command also has a shortcut; double-clicking a valid attack target within range with a unit selected will initiate a fire command without the need for the menu.
- A pop-up tooltip will also appear over the unit when hovered over that will tell you the range of expected damage you will do, based on the damage dealt in the attack plus the luck factor of your active CO. Note that this will not accurately reflect damage if Sonja's SCOP Counter Break is active - you should use the Damage Calculator to calculate damage as if her units were the ones initiating the attack to calculate this correctly.
- Wait commands your unit to simply end their move with no further actions, usually after moving. The Wait command is generally not needed for units that are are not moved that turn but it is still helpful for units you explicitly do not want to move that turn, such as a Recon scouting by hiding in Woods.
- Capture will become available for Infantry or Mechs if they are on a neutral or enemy property. Every property starts with 20 capture points and is reduced by an amount equal to your unit's HP every time you capture. Once the number is reduced to 0, the property is yours.
- Load / Unload will cause a unit to board/unboard from a transport. This will not end the turn of the transport unit itself, only the boarded unit.
- Resupply will command a selected APC to manually resupply all adjacent units around that location. This will end the APC's turn.
- Repair will command a selected Black Boat to repair and resupply an adjacent selected unit.
- Hide commands a Sub or Stealth to submerge or stealth, rendering them invisible to non-adjacent units and immune to attack from most units.
- Delete can be used if the unit has not used its turn yet and will delete it from the game. You do not receive the funds for this unit when you delete it; it is just gone. This command will bring up a prompt to confirm deletion before proceeding as there is rarely if ever a reason to delete your own units.
- Launch will only appear if an Infantry or Mech is stood upon a Missile Silo. Selecting it will cause a grid overlay to appear under your cursor; clicking again will fire the missile, at which point the Missile Silo cannot be used again for the rest of the game.
In the game options above the main playing area of a page, you'll see several options: Zoom In/Out, the Game Menu, Pause Timer, Messages, Damage Calculator, Move Planner, Replay, Toggle Follow, Tag CO (only if tag powers are on) and End Turn. In the Game Menu, you will see Resign, Set Draw, Info, View and Stats.
- Zoom In/Out increases or decreases the size of the game window during play, which can be very helpful for users with particularly large or small screens.
- The Menu has a handful of further options:
- Resign will cause you to forfeit the game, and is often used in the case where a game is clearly lost and a comeback is impossible but would take many more turns to fully resolve. You will be prompted for your password before you do this. Note that you cannot resign unless it is your turn.
- Set Draw is the setting to offer a draw to your opponent. If your opponent accepts the draw by clicking on their own Set Draw button, the game will end without a victor. You can choose to unset any draw after offering one by clicking the "Unset Draw" button (only appears if you have already set a draw).
- Info displays the current game settings such as funding and unit restrictions.
- View covers visual-only options such as the sprite set used for the game. This can also be changed in your Settings.
- Stats covers statistics such as units built and destroyed for the game being played.
- Pause Timer will put forward a pause request to your opponent(s). If all opponents click their own Pause Timer setting, the turn timer will be paused for all players and will not decrement, though actions can still be taken. This is generally not used in most games but can be important during some live games to allow players a break or to resolve problems without running down their clock unnecessarily.
- Messages displays the messages exchanged between players during a game.
- Damage Calculator will open a pop-up window where damage outputs can be calculated. This can be very important for planning out your turns.
- Move Planner will open a new tab where you can plan out potential moves more precisely.
- The Replay function can be used to replay and view previous turns, which can be very important during Fog of War matches where units may leave vision but you may not be around to view the action happening in real-time. Note that users of the old interface will have the replay function disabled for active games.
- + Toggle Follow will add the game to your list of followed games. You can use this to keep track of games you have an interest in seeing development for, such as a high-ranking League game or a major tournament matchup. This will also show how many players are currently following your game and how many viewers are currently spectating, including any of the players themselves.
- Select Next Unit will suggest the next available unit you have that has not yet taken an action - clicking it will select the unit for you. If no units are available, it will pick your next available base. If no units or bases are available, the section will disappear.
- Tag CO and End Turn are similar in that both of them will end your turn and pass to your opponent. Tag CO is only available in Tag games, which in addition to ending your turn will also switch over to your tag CO.
- Main article: CO
COs (with the exception of Von Bolt) have a 2-part CO bar, a shorter one with small boxes that informs the CO Power, and the longer one with large boxes comprising the Super CO Power. These will fill up as you deal and take damage, with every 9000 funds worth of damage taken comprising one segment and damage dealt worth half of that. Once you have dealt or taken enough damage to fill your CO meter to the proper level, the bar will begin to shake and a button will appear that allows you to activate your COP and SCOP.
If you can use your COP, a box with a gold star appears next to the power meter which can be clicked at any time during your turn to activate it. If you can use your SCOP, a box with 3 stars appears which is activated in the same way. A CO with the CO power or Super CO Power activated will have their power bar temporarily replaced for its duration, and their overview is outlined by a red or blue box, respectively.
During Enemy Turns
After you have completed all your actions and passed the turn to your opponent, be patient! AWBW is built around a similar concept to 'mail chess' where players may take five minutes, an hour, a day or even longer to finish their turn. If you are lucky, your opponent may be online and you can both play out your turns in near real-time, sometimes called a Live Game, but generally, especially if your opponent is in a very different time zone, it is expected to take some time for turns to play out.
Luckily, however, unlike in the original games, you are not limited to playing only one match at a time; in AWBW, the norm is to play many games simultaneously. Taking your turn on one game can take 5 minutes or more depending on how complex the game is and how much you like to think! So even if you only have an hour available every couple of days to spend on the game, then you could reasonably join and be able to play 5 or 6 games at once. When it is your turn for a game, you will be given a notification in the website interface and it will appear in the list of games on the Your Turn page.
Be wary of your game timer and especially your Max Turn Time if you cannot be online regularly. If you know you will be inactive for some time, you can enable Vacation mode in your profile settings to temporarily disable your turn time limit for all games for up to 2 weeks or until you begin taking actions again.
AWBW also includes email and Discord integration to allow a notification to be sent to you via these methods whenever it is your turn, even if you are not currently on the website. You may do so in your settings page:
The email used is the one associated with your AWBW account, or the one you signed up with.
Discord notifications will require joining the AWBW Discord server and are sent via a @mention courtesy of Nell Bot in the dedicated #site_notifications channel, along with a link to the game/lobby in question. Integration requires your unique Discord ID - note that this is not the same as your username, but a unique 18-digit number that is normally not visible to you. You can find it by querying a bot with the associated
!userid command in the server or using Discord's integrated development tools.
You may also wish to use the Design Maps feature. To create playable maps, at least some playing experience is very useful, but there are many elements to mapping that are not immediately obvious from just play alone.
Designing competitive maps and especially League-quality maps is not so easy. They need to be balanced, stable, and not too easily drawn/stalemated, with appropriate consideration given to FTA. Expect comments after you publish your maps! Take the criticism in good humor if you can, say you are new and ask for constructive advice in the comments below your new map. If you are making some kind of weird or specialty map, it's a good idea to say so in a comment below your map before publishing, simply click on the map title while in "map edit" or in the Your Maps page.
To get advice on making better maps, see the relevant AWBW guides sections and discuss with other users in comments, on the forum and the Discord server. Map Committee members in particular are recognized as reliable and friendly sources of good advice regarding map design.