AWBW is a fan-created site where you can play Advance Wars online against other players from around the world, all for free. AWBW is designed with the 'mail chess' concept in mind, where all players of a match take their turns whenever they are available to do so. This means that games are typically played at a slower pace over the course of several days or weeks.
While AWBW is primarily based on and plays like Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, it incorporates additional elements from Advance Wars: Dual Strike. This includes all units, COs, game mechanics, and more, for a completely unique Advance Wars experience.
Additionally, there are 11 new custom armies to choose from, allowing for games and maps that have up to a total of 16 players. Outside of these few custom additions, no community customization is accepted, in order to maintain AWBW as a (mostly) faithful representation of the original cartridge games.
AWBW is back under active development as of August 2017. A small team of developers and contributors are slowly (but steadily) working on projects to improve AWBW. You can find a list of all recent changes on the Changelog.
AWBW is currently closed-source, and is not accessible for open development from the community. However, if you would like to contribute there are many other ways to help, from reporting and testing bugs to graphical support. Contact an administrator for more details.
The quickest way is to go to the Join Game page and look over the list of public games waiting to start. The games here are available for anyone to join.
If you would like a casual one-on-one match, the best games to join are the 'Z-Games'. These are script-generated matches with names starting with 'Z - ', listed at the bottom of the page. All matches, whether Z-Games or created by other users, will have various settings for CO bans, unit bans, whether Fog of War is enabled, and so on. It's recommended to look over a match's settings before you decide whether or not to join it.
When you try to join an open match, the site will prompt you to choose your CO and country for the match. After you have joined the match, the match will appear on Your Games page, where you can then switch your CO, country, or starting position (if available).
The most direct method is to click Create Game on the menu. Then follow the steps below:
Step 1: Select a map...
Search All Maps (recommended): Use the Search Maps page to select any specific map preferences you'd like. Once you've chosen your preferences, click the '[Search]' box at the bottom, and sort through the outputted maps for a map you like. Then click '[Create Game]' under Options. This takes you to the page for creating the game.
Your Maps: If you have created any maps on the site using the Map Editor, you will be able to pick one out from here. If you haven't created any maps yet, this area will be blank.
Search a Category: This is meant more as a tool for experienced AWBW users who knows what map they're looking for. But by choosing a category and then a map from the list, you can quickly load up any map. However, for new users, it is recommended that you use the Search All Maps feature to make it easier to pick out an appropriate map.
... or load existing settings.
You can also load up pre-made settings to make creating a game go much faster. For this, there are two options:
Your Settings: If you have saved any personal settings while creating a game, this is where they will be found so that you can pre-load them again any time. If you haven't saved any settings, this area will be blank.
Global League Settings: This is a list of settings currently used for Standard (STD), Fog (FOG), and High Funds (HF) games in the Global League, the premier competitive scene on AWBW. Using any of these will instantly load up settings for a League-approved map with balanced settings, and is typically one of the best ways to find a balanced one-on-one match. However, if you want to see the map before loading it up, it's usually recommended to use the Search All Maps feature instead.
Step 2: Enter the basic game information
Game Name: Self-explanatory. All waiting games are listed alphabetically.
Game Password: If you want your game to be accessible only by your friends, type a password here and give it to them so that they'll be able to join. Otherwise, if you want anyone to be able to join, leave this field blank. (Please remember that private games are listed on a separate page from public games. Also, you can directly invite players to your game via the Your Games page.)
Comment: If you have any extra information to add about your game, simply post it here.
Change Map: If you changed your mind about the map or the pre-loaded settings, clicking this option will take you back to the earlier page to select a new map. Note: All other settings will be preserved if you load in a new map.
Rec'd Settings: Short for Recommended Settings, these are settings used for official competitions such as the Global League, or created by the map creator themselves. If you've yet to pick any options for your game and you're relatively new to AWBW, it may be a good idea to choose one of these settings if available to make the process easier.
All Settings: This lists all available pre-loaded settings that can be chosen for the map in question. Be careful to check the settings carefully when using another player's settings!
Step 3: Select the game settings
Tags: Click this to enable all players to choose a pair of COs instead of just one CO. (Please note that while this is based on the Tags system from Dual Strike, Super CO Tag powers are not enabled on the site.)
Weather: Clear weather is standard play and highly recommended, rain and snow affects movement for all units, and random weather alternatives wildly between clear, snowy, and rainy weather.
Fog: Turn this on to enable Fog of War and rely on the vision of your units to find the enemy force. If you don't want Fog, leave this off.
CO Powers: Leaving this on will enable day-to-day abilities, CO Powers, and Super CO Powers for all COs. If you turn this feature off, your chosen CO will be nothing more than your avatar for the game.
Funds Per Turn: The amount of funds you get per property. 1000 funds is for standard games, while 2000 funds is common for High-Funds games.
Starting Funds: The amount of funds you get at the beginning of a game. It's standard to leave this at 0.
Capture Limit: This sets the number of cities to be captured as a win condition.
Days Limit: This sets the number of turns a game can have before it is declared over.
Unit Limit: This sets the maximum number of units a player can have at once. No more units can be built (or spawned) once this limit is reached.
Boot Interval: This sets the number of days a player has to make a single move in the game before they are booted from the game.
AET Interval: This sets the number of days a player has to end their turn before the turn is forcibly ended for them.
Step 4: Select the CO and unit bans
CO Bans: This is where you can ban specific COs or even whole tiers of COs from being chosen for the game. (Please note that the top tier, Tier 0, is considered to be the 'broken' tier, and should always be banned if you plan on playing a serious match.)
Unit Bans: This is where you can ban specific units from being built in the game. (It is strongly recommended that you ban Black Bombs and Stealths, as Black Bombs are universally considered to be a game-breaking unit while Stealths can ruin certain maps.)
Lab Units: If there are Labs on the map, this is where you can choose units to be restricted from being built by anyone unless they have a Lab in their possession.
Step 5: Create the game
Create Game: The one you're looking for! Once you're all ready, click this to have your game be created and made open for other players to join. After creating, you can find your game on the Your Games page, and also on either the Join Game or [Private] page, depending on if you entered a password.
Reset: If you feel like you've muddled too many of the settings, click this to revert everything to their default settings.
Step 6 (optional): Manage your saved user settings
Save Settings As: If you personally like how you arranged the settings and would like to save them for an easy set-up next time, simply give them a name for easy reference and click the 'Save' button.
Load Settings: Use this button to load in settings you have previously saved. Note that this will override any existing options you have selected, including the map, name, and password.
Delete Settings: Delete an existing setting. Be careful, as this cannot be undone!
The Your Games page on the menu contains a list of every game you're currently playing in. This is also where you can manage your games that are waiting to start, including changing your CO, country, or starting position in the game. It also shows games you've completed in the last 3 weeks.
Additionally, the Your Turn Games page will show you a list of any games where it is currently your turn.
For any game that was created automatically (this includes Z-Games, Global League games, and tournament games), the game will start automatically once all players are ready. You can see the "Ready" status of all players in your game on Your Games page, next to their username. To set your own status as "Ready", simply click the white "GO" button.
For League and tournament games, the game will also start automatically after a certain interval if both players have not readied. This interval is equal to the boot interval setting for the game (for example, 4 days for Global League games).
For games created by a user, the game must be manually started by the game creator once all open spots have been filled. For your own games, the Start Button can also be found on Your Games page, under the Players list. If the game is a Team game, don't forget to Update Teams before starting the game!
The Your Turn Games page will show you a list of any games where it is currently your turn. A red number next to the menu button indicates the number of games waiting for you to take your turn; if there is no number, there are no games waiting on you. The Your Turn Games page will also refresh automatically once per minute, so you can keep this page open in the background to be indirectly notified when it is your turn in a game.
You can also be notified when it is your turn with an email notification. To turn on email notifications, simply go to your User Info page and set 'Turn Notification Email' to 'Receive'.
AWBW's interface is purely point and click, and the game is contained entirely within the browser. There is nothing you have to download or install. However, there is also no music or sound effects, no battle animations, and the game page must refresh on every game action. Therefore AWBW cannot perfectly emulate the experience of playing Advance Wars on a handheld GameBoy.
If you've played the original Advance Wars games, you'll intuitively figure out a lot of how the interface works by treating your mouse cursor like the cursor from the games. Clicking on one of your empty factories, for example, brings up the build menu for all ground units. Clicking a unit brings up the options to Move, Fire, etc. However, prior experience can't explain everything about how AWBW works, so here's a few details you might miss while playing AWBW for the first time.
The unit menu (the menu that pops up whether you click on a unit) has the same familiar options from the original games, like Move, Capture, and Wait, but there are several new options you won't recognize at first. They are:
Set Path: Works the same as the Move option, but instead of clicking the tile you want to move to, you click the exact path you want your unit to follow IN ORDER, and then double-click the final destination. This may seem useless at first glance since the Move option lets you move your unit with just one click, but Set Path is extremely vital in Fog games, as the Move option will always pick the quickest path to your destination, which can easily get your unit ambushed.
Check Damage: Precisely what it says. Clicking this option on any armed unit allows you to see how much damage it can inflict from its current terrain on any other enemy unit atop their current terrain. This serves as a way to help you see how powerful an attack with a specific unit can be. If you need more specific calculations for any reason, use the Damage Calculator. (NOTE: This feature is disabled whenever you are playing against Sonja).
Wait: You might remember this option from the original games, but here on AWBW it works in a more convenient way; instead of having to click 'Wait' every time you move a unit, you can go ahead and immediately click another unit to give them orders. Doing so will automatically order the other unit to Wait.
The build menus that pop up whether you click on a factory, airport, or port are listed in the exact order of pricing; the cheapest units are at the very top while the most expensive units are at the bottom. Banned units are not shown, while lab units are shown with strikethrough.
The Menu tab beneath the game works similarly to the in-game menu from the original games. The options are:
Resign: Do you feel like the current match is beyond your ability to win now? Wave the white flag by clicking this option, and inputting your account's password to confirm.
Set Draw: If for any reason you need to end the match and resigning isn't a good way to do it, click Set Draw to offer a draw to the opponent. If the opponent accepts by clicking Set Draw themselves, the match will end in a draw.
Screenshot: If you want to take a picture of the game's current situation, clicking Screenshot will give you an image of the game in another page for you to save.
Info: Works the same as the Info option from the original games. This shows all the settings of the current match.
View: Want to change the look of the website? You can do it quickly from here. The options are:
Gridlines: Want to be able to easily count tiles? Enable Gridlines to clearly visualize every tile on the map.
CO Theme: This determines the theme of the CO portraits used in matches. AW1 will use the Advance Wars 1 portraits, AW2 will use the Black Hole Rising portraits, and AWDS will use the Dual Strike portraits.
Map Theme: This determines the sprite designs used on all maps of the website. AW1 will look like Advance Wars 1, AW2 will look like Black Hole Rising, and Ani (short for Animated) will look like Black Hole Rising with animated sprites for all units.
Warnings: When enabled, actions such as ending your turn and ordering units to Wait will prompt you to confirm the action before it is carried out.
Shoals: AWBW has custom shoal designs to easily show where it's possible for units to traverse shoal crossings, since such crossings can look impassable with the original designs. If you'd prefer to have the original designs, choose the Classic option from this tab.
The Tools tab contains several options specifically meant for the match you're viewing. They are:
Messages: This is where you can send messages to other players involved in the match.
Replay: This is where you can view all previous turns of the match. (NOTE: This feature is restricted until the game is finished whenever you are facing Sonja, or if your opponent has a Stealth or Sub on the field)
Log: This is where each and every action taken by a player on their turn is logged. Use this page if you're curious about how someone did their turn. (NOTE: This feature is restricted whenever you are facing Sonja, or if your opponent has a Stealth or Sub on the field.)
Planner: This loads the current game into the Move Planner, which allows you to simulate an active AWBW game and plan your moves.
AWBW is designed with the 'mail chess' concept in mind, where all players of a match take their turns whenever they are available to do so. This means it's not necessary to finish a game in one sitting. Additionally, the players you'll meet and challenge can come from anywhere in the world, so it's not always possible to complete a match in real time as you could in the original Advance Wars games.
Activity level varies by player, and many players will only take a couple turns each day, so you can expect most typical one-on-one matches to take several days, or even weeks. A common practice on AWBW is to play several matches concurrently to compensate for the slower pace of each individual game. Alternatively, faster 'real-time' games can be organized with other players. The AWBW Discord Chat is a good place to find opponents for real-time play.
Yes, you can spectate any game that you are not playing in, as long as the game does not have Fog of War turned on. To view another player's game, simply click on the game name (for example, from the player's profile). You can also find a list of all ongoing games on the Current page, as well as a list of all recently completed games on the Completed page.
You also have the ability to follow other users' games that you would like to track over time. Simply click the '[+]' button to follow the game. Then you can view the list of games you are following on Your Following page. A icon will appear next to any game that has been updated since you last viewed it.
If a game has been completed within the last 3 weeks, the replay is publicly viewable by clicking on the "Tools" => "Replay" button in the game menu. This allows you to view the state of the game at the beginning of each turn.
However, all replays are deleted from AWBW after 3 weeks to preserve storage space. If you want to save the replay of a game before it is deleted, you can click Download on the Replay page to download a local copy of the replay. To view the saved replay, use the Upload Replay tool to load the replay back onto AWBW. This will allow you to view the replay for 48 hours. If you need more time, simply upload the replay again.
Note: The limit on upload file size is 2 MB. Therefore long replays of games with multiple players or on large maps might not be possible to upload after saving.
AWBW has two main options for competitive play currently. The first is the Global League, where players compete in a ladder format to move up on the leaderboards. You can read the Rules and Info page for more information. The Global League is great for consistently finding competitive games on balanced maps against players of similar skill, and there are three modes available to play: Standard, Fog of War, and High Funds.
The second regular source of competition is tournaments. You can visit the Tournaments page for a list of ongoing and completed tournaments. Currently the only regular tournament is the AWBW Open Cup, which is a monthly single elimination tournament open to all players with at least 5 completed games. The theme varies from month to month, and all games are played with a short time limit to encourage quicker play. Tournament signups open on the last weekend of each month.
Unfortunately, AWBW does not have a lot of beginner-friendly resources for improving your game quickly. Like anything, the best way to improve is to play against (and lose to) better players, and try to mimic the strategies and tactics used against you. Many veteran players will gladly give you tips and help identify your mistakes if you send them a message after the game.
That being said, the Basic Strategy Guide is a must-read for all new players. If you are unfamiliar with Advance Wars itself, it's highly recommended to play through the Field Training in the Advance Wars 1 Campaign, as well, as it will provide valuable information on the units and mechanics of AWBW.
No, AWBW only offers player vs. player matches. However, it is actually recommended that you play against humans rather than AI to start with. Advance Wars is a deceptively deep game that is most rewarding when you're playing against another human on even odds, rather than against an AI that needs the odds to be strongly in their favor to have a chance. Additionally, playing against AI can actually be considered to be unhelpful and even counter-productive to play against people, because the usual habits that are successful against the AI on the cartridge games can set you back against human players.
AWBW is based on AW2, as this was the most current version of AW at the time the site was created. Although extra content has been added from AWDS, the gameplay and CO characteristics follow their AW2 mechanics wherever possible. This means that the COs from AW2 use the versions from that game, rather than AWDS. One notable exception to this rule is Sturm, who uses an amalgamation of the Versus Mode version of Sturm from AW1, the COP from AW1, and the SCOP from AW2.
There are no features from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (DoR) on AWBW. The gameplay, COs, and units from Days of Ruin are vastly different in functionality compared to AW1, AW2, and AWDS, which AWBW is based on. Implementing them all into the same game setting would require changes to either the AW1, 2, and DS COs to fit the DoR COs, or vice versa, which would drastically alter the changed group's functionality/effectiveness.
In a turn-based strategy game like Advance Wars, there are inherent advantages to moving first. This concept is usually referred to as the 'First Turn Advantage', commonly abbreviated to FTA. While this was never important when playing against the AI, human players are more skilled at capitalizing on this advantage, and therefore it must be countered in some way for fair player-vs-player gameplay. On many maps, a predeployed infantry for the second player is the tried-and-true way to counter FTA, but countering FTA isn't always that simple. For more information on FTA, you should read the Introductory Guide to FTA on AWBW.
While each CO has their own strengths and weaknesses, not all COs are created equal, and some may become stronger or weaker depending on the style of map being played. As a result, certain COs will naturally be more desirable choices and others will rarely see any use. When some of the stronger choices are banned, this provides the opportunity for weaker COs to be viable, which helps keep games fresh by offering a variety of different CO choices and specialties to employ and defend against. When done correctly, there will be multiple available COs that are equivalently good choices on any given game.
CO ban lists may be set automatically for balance purposes in official games or be based on personal preference in more casual, user-generated games. The CO Tier List is a great resource on relative CO strength within the context of typical 1v1 AWBW matches.
Over the course of AWBW's history, some COs have proven time and time again that they are a cut above the rest. Colin, Grit, Hachi, Kanbei, and Sensei, collectively referred to as the Broken 5, are such COs who have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to defeat any non-broken CO handily except in cases of significant player skill disparity. They've been deemed by the community to be overpowered as a result, and are banned in most matches you'll find on AWBW. It's also important to note that, while they're all considered broken, there is still a great deal of variation in strength between them, which can make it difficult to organize balanced, competitive matches without them being banned.
Other COs can also end up in this category depending on the circumstances. For example, Sturm is frequently banned due to his movement bonuses that let him gain an early, irreversible positioning and funding advantage. Similarly, Javier is considered to be broken if he owns two or more comm. towers due to his Kanbei-like stats without the drawback of increased deployment costs.
Simply put, Black Bombs are extremely effective units and, if left unbanned, they dominate gameplay and undermine strategic considerations in competitive matches.
This is primarily due to the fact that they allow the user to deal high amounts of damage without charging the enemy power bar and they are hard to defend against. A key tactic in AWBW is using more sturdy or expendable units to defend your more valuable and vulnerable units, and black bombs counter this strategy extremely well by allowing walls to be broken very easily, dealing or facilitating critical, game-deciding levels of damage in a single turn. Generally, any time a single unit has this great of an impact on the outcome of a match it causes balance and gameplay issues and the unit is banned as a result.
Like Black Bombs, Stealths are sometimes banned to prevent them from dominating the game. Stealths walk a fine line between being a high-priced, tactical unit and an overpowered, game-determining unit, and this can depend heavily on the map. Stealths are inherently powerful units due to the fact that they can hide like subs, making them invisible to the enemy and counterable only by fighters and other stealths. However, unlike subs, stealths have the advantage of traversing almost any terrain and attacking almost any unit in the game for respectable damage. In some cases, such as where opposing airports are too far away from each other, it can be nearly impossible to counter a stealth, and they are banned as a result.
On AWBW, you are able to create maps in which a player owns more than one HQ. In this circumstance, losing any HQ results in a loss for the player, resulting in the same effects as losing your HQ normally would (such as transfer of properties to the capturing player).
The primary function of labs are for restricting access to lab units (designated during game creation). If a unit is set as a lab unit, it can only be built by players who own a lab. Note that losing a lab will cause you to lose the ability to build lab units until you capture another lab.
Labs can also function as the player's HQ if there are no HQs on the map. The primary differences between labs and HQs are that labs do not provide income or repairs while HQs do and, more importantly, players are not eliminated until they don't own any labs. Losing any HQ results in a loss, while losing ALL labs will result in a loss (but only if there are no HQs).
On maps with HQs, labs are only for lab units. If there are HQs on the map and no lab units set, then labs are purely decorative.
Units that do not have an HQ affiliated with them on the map will disappear when a game is started on that map, and become what is known as a ghost unit. Ghost units prevent producing units on those tiles, meaning that you cannot build units from ghosted properties, and Sensei's CO powers will not spawn footsoldiers there. These properties provide income and can be used for repairs, just not building units.
In-game you can always tell which tiles are ghosted by hovering over them with your mouse - a icon signifies the tile is ghosted. Ports are often ghosted to not only allow resupplying, but also to create a sort of makeshift bridge that both sea and land units can traverse.
A port which is landlocked by shoals is intended to be used only for transport units, namely Landers and Black Boats. This allows for more complex land unit gameplay in situations where Battleships or other naval units may be too powerful. Note that a strong ranged unit such as a Battleship or Carrier can still be built as a stationary "turret" if the player so wishes.
The black terrain tiles that appear on some maps are a known glitch turned feature dubbed 'teleport tiles'. Units cannot wait or be dropped onto teleport tiles, but every unit type can traverse through them for no movement cost at all, hence the name. Note that since this is still technically a bug, the tiles may not function properly. You are playing on these maps at your own risk!
Yes! To create your own map, go to the Your Maps page, where you can find a form for creating a new map. Note that it's recommended that you determine the actual size you would like your map to be before submitting this form, because you cannot change the map size once it has been created (the maximum is 36x36). Once you've filled out the whole form, click 'Submit' to be taken to the page for editing your new map.
On the Edit Map page, just select the tile you want to use, and click away to place that tile on the map! The map designer also has an 'auto-symmetry' feature that you can use to save yourself a lot of work. Simply choose the symmetry option that best suits the idea you have in mind for your map (the recommend symmetry is 2 Quadrant Rotational for 1v1 maps). Note that reloading the page will clear your symmetry selection, so you will need to re-check it after saving the map.
Once you are finished with your map, return to Your Maps page and click "Publish". This makes the map visible to other users, who can search for and play on it. Note: you cannot edit your map while games are being played on it. Because games can last a long time, be sure that you are done editing your map before publishing it.
This option is for uploading maps via text file. By clicking the 'Export Map As Text' link on any map's page, you'll be directed to a page showing the map tiles as a grid of numbers (corresponding to terrain IDs). By copying this grid into a regular text file, you'll be able to use the 'Upload a map' feature to add the map to your account. From there, you can edit the map if so desired. Please note that doing this will not save any predeployed units left on the map.
AWBW has a massive library of user-created maps. By clicking the Search Maps link on the menu, you will be taken to the Search page for all maps on the site. From here, you can search for maps based on a variety of map characteristics, such as name, creator, number of players, category, etc. If you're looking for a map to play on, it's usually recommended to filter your search by choosing a mix of the following categories:
Map Quality: The options in this column will filter the search by quality of map, with S-Rank being the best of the best for competitive play and Casual Play being, well, for casual games. These rankings are determined and maintained by the Map Committee, a group of veteran map makers.
Map Function: Choose whether you want to call up more serious maps, maps that are more for fun and hilarity, or a mix of both.
Map Features: Certain types of gameplay call for certain types of maps. Choose the type of maps that best fits the match you have in mind here, whether it's a team game or a heavy naval or a Fog of War match.
Once you're satisfied with your search settings, simply click the 'Search' button to see a list of all the maps that match your criteria.
You can also find a list of the Most Recent design maps submitted by users on the site.
All map categorization is accomplished by the Map Committee (MC), made up of a volunteer group of veteran map makers. Whenever a new map is published on AWBW, it is evaluated by a member of the MC and placed into the appropriate category (if any apply).
For a full list of the existing categories, you can click the Categories link on the menu. For a further description of what each category is, click here.
There are several guides and other documentation available in the design maps section of the TYT forum. It is also recommended to visit the #design_maps section of the Discord Chat, where you can chat with other users and get feedback and tips on improving your maps.