Standard settings for AWBW refer to clear weather, fog off, tags off, CO powers on, 0 starting funds, and 1000 income per property per turn with black bombs banned.
Under standard settings the metagame tends to be dominated by a few primary units: Infantry, tanks, artillery, b-copters, and anti-air. As this unit list would suggest, ground units will comprise the bulk of your army with some support from air units and little or no support from naval units; this is due to the fact that ground units are cheap, versatile, and the most directly responsible for acquiring new resources (capturing cities).
Unit count is extremely important in the AWBW metagame and building from every base every turn is standard practice, with extremely rare exception. With standard funding, this will result in the purchase of a lot of infantry, which can be used for capturing, shielding, blocking enemy movement, or helping to break through enemy infantry walls. Tanks and b-copters are the primary attacking units used for breaking through walls and attacking exposed units or threatening the area around their position. They are backed up with artillery and anti-air to help secure formations against enemy tanks and b-copters, respectively. As the game progresses, players may purchase higher tech units such as md tanks, battleships, stealths, fighters, and bombers to help secure their advantage or counter other higher tech units, however these will make up a small fraction of the units in the game and are rarely built at the expense of unit count.
Transports may see some use in the meta, but are typically reserved for properties that cannot be accessed any other way. As such, t-copters and black boats are the most commonly used transports, though landers may occasionally provide a logistical benefit, such as getting units to the front more quickly, or allowing for a sudden front switch that takes your opponent off guard and leaves them unable to react sufficiently.
Another important component of the metagame is selecting a strong CO and using their abilities effectively and can frequently be the deciding factor of the match. The CO Tier List contains useful information on relative CO strength and can serve as a general reference point when considering which of the available COs are the most viable on the map in question.
Gameplay will progress through three main stages: Capture Phase, Mid-Game, and Late-Game. In the capture phase, players build mostly infantry and capture properties as efficiently as possible, starting with any neutral bases, as capturing them sooner boosts unit count and subsequent capture rate. As vehicles begin to be produced and interact with each other, the match progresses into the mid-game; typically tanks are built first due to their mobility. At first, vehicles will use their movement and strength to threaten the field and may interrupt enemy infantry captures if they are left undefended. As more units and vehicles are built, players will resolve their units into more solid formations, shielding their more vulnerable units behind cheaper, expendable ones. Players then continue to attack and shift their formations in such a way that gives them an advantage in unit count/value, army composition, positioning, or funding and, if they are able to outmaneuver their opponent, they can deal a decisive blow, frequently in combination with a COP or SCOP, from which their opponent can't recover. If, after trading blows and/or (S)COPs, the players maintain strong armies and formations, the match progresses into the late game, and higher tech units will begin to emerge in an attempt blast through enemy defenses. Occasionally, maps may have supplemental properties in a difficult-to-reach area of the map that will require investing in a transport to access. If these have not already been captured, they are typically captured at this point to help break the stalemate. Similarly, any pipe seams on the battlefield may be broken to open up new avenues of attack.
For information on strategy and tactics that players might use and consider during gameplay, you can reference the Basic Strategy Guide. These tips are invaluable for players of all levels, and mastering the basics is the quickest way to drastically improve your skills.
Fog of War
The Fog of War metagame is similar to the Standard metagame, but with a heavier reliance on units and positions that offer good vision. As such, recons shift from being niche units to essential units that provide important information about enemy location and position. Similarly, forests become more important, both for obscuring information and building more secure formations; even leaving a forest empty in or around your formation may lead your opponent to incorrectly infer that you have a unit hidden and discourage their attack.
Gameplay style will change somewhat in fog as well, and advantages can tend to swing more greatly due to the incomplete information each player has about their opponent's army composition and positioning. Simple miscalculations in this area can result in major shifts in momentum under the right circumstances. Front switches become easier to execute as well, contributing to this effect.
In team games, cooperation and communication become the key factors. Much of the metagame will remain the same, but by having multiple players, teams can specialize based on the resources each player has available to them and help to compensate for each other's weaknesses. Considering the turn order and coordinating moves and attacks accordingly can easily give one team a decisive advantage.
Similarly, discussion of CO selections is important to make sure that all teammates have chosen COs that work well together and each bring something useful to the team. COs such as Sasha and Sonja (in fog) whose powers may help benefit the whole team become more important, while COs like Olaf and Drake whose powers may hinder their own teammates become less attractive.
Free For All (FFA)
The meta for FFA games frequently revolves around truces and betrayal and conventional tactics will be far less important than CO choice and diplomatic measures. Being aggressive or taking control of key, central properties can make you a target for other players who will perceive you as a threat and wielding a universally dangerous CO, such as Hawke, Olaf, or Kindle, will hinder your ability to make truces with other players. Frequently, FFA maps are asymmetric as well, and so the strength or vulnerability of your starting position will have an impact on your opponents' perception and your chances of diplomacy with them.
The high funds metagame differs from the Standard metagame in a number of different ways. First, the unit composition changes significantly, shifting away from infantry and towards higher tech units such as neotanks and bombers, and both vehicles and air units become more prevalent in general. Stealth are frequently banned as well. Additionally, some units take on different roles due to the shifting army composition, such as tanks being used more commonly to shield stronger, more valuable units.
Defensive formations are generally much harder to form in high funds due to the frequent use units that are capable of destroying many shield units in a single hit and, as a result, gameplay tends to be more aggressive and dynamic. Another key difference in high funds gameplay that contributes to this is the more frequent use of COPs and SCOPs that come as a result of the increase in average unit value. This effect shifts CO balance as well, favoring COs with stronger CO powers and making COs reliant on their day-to-day powers comparatively weaker.
For more information, see High Funds.