This is a short guide to help new users to get a game and start playing quickly. Links and actions(clickables) in the AWBW site are shown in bold below, note they generally show as green-type on the awbw site.
The quickest way to get playing is to select Waiting (Public) and join several 1v1 games on smallish maps, and perhaps join a game on a multiplayer or large map. The join options are over to the right in small green type. Don't be shy about joining, "public" really is for all and sundry, there s no pressure. When searching public waiting games check the game details and comments under the map for any conditions. Before joining click on the map title to see the map in detail, and after returning you can join if you like it. Individual 1v1 games on smallish maps (up to about 20x20) progress faster and are best for learning quickly. Note that "public" games can and often do start quickly should both players be available, sometimes within minutes.
FOG. In "fog" games you dont see the enemy until he gets close to your units within their range of vision, which can be scary but fun! Many players consider Fog to be the real McCoy of AW requiring anticipation skills and nerve, while others regard it as guesswork and luck. Many folk enjoy both game types.
Also you should join Leagues. The "new official/global" one http://awbw.amarriner.com/newleague.php will create a number of non-fog games automatically usually beginning the following day against other new players, and thereafter against stronger players as you start winning and rise up the league standings. You will need to select the number of simultaneous games you wish to play in this league, perhaps at least 5 initially may be good idea considering some of these will likely not progress as new players often stall (or not sure how to procede ?).
In addition, on the "official " league page there is a link to the various "Special Leagues" which have specific battle settings such as Fog, No-Powers, Tag, Weather effects, Speed (rapid play), etc . The link is indicated in green as a "here". http://awbw.amarriner.com/league.php You can join as many as you wish. One game in each will start as soon as an opponent is available, which can be a few days. If more players join these leagues the games start next day, as with official league.
CO choice. The various COs have certain characteristics, which you need to familiarise yourself with little by little. See charts, COs. Some COs are stronger than others, even much stronger, and it can well depend upon the map at hand. There are some tier lists giving approximate ranking in groups as generally observed with fair agreement amongst experienced players. But there are many exceptions so dont be too afraid to experiment.
Patience and Your TurnEdit
Having joined games in public waiting, you may be waiting 5 min, an hour, 24 hours or even longer for your opponent to start the game or make his/her move as he may be at work or whatever when you join or make your move. So at AWBW the norm is to play many games simultaneously. Taking your turn on one game can take 5 or 10 minutes or more depending on how complex is the game and how much you like to think! So if you have available an half or a whole hour every couple of days, then you could reasonably join and be able to play 5 or 6 games. If you are lucky your opponent may be online and you may both play some turns in near real-time. But generally you will play your turn on your games then come back 24 hours or even a week later and you then play your next turn. Selecting Your Turn Games shows all games where it's your turn. To see the map larger and be able to play, you need to click on the game's title (underlined)! This confused me initially.
For the "mechanism" of how to play, how units are moved etc, see Advance Wars Training And also...
Visit Categories next to Maps to see good and balanced maps. Look through and choose a map you like, then click play on this map (small green print), follow instructions to create a game and then it will appear in public, you just wait for other users to join or you can invite players who you know (nb. don't use the awbw invite feature... it sends an e-mail, which may not get seen for ages), better to use the awbw send message feature, found at top right of your User Info page.
Note the Create Game option available on left tool bar of screen contains all the thousands of AWBW maps and is not at all easy to use for selecting.
Strategy and ImprovingEdit
Playing AW against humans is much harder than against the computer AI, and everyone can't win every game like on the DS!
To play better there are several things you can do : check out various strategy guides, look over your games (Replay option), and also you can congratulate your opponent and ask what they saw as important plays.
Essential Strategies (newbies be advised!)
maximise unit numbers by buying on every base every turn (even if it means lots of cheap infantry) and consequently capturing bases as priority and capturing properties immediately to maximise income.
Map Making -- fun maps.Edit
Later you may wish to use the Design Maps feature. To create playable maps you'll likely need some playing experience. Certainly in the beginning its probably best to make only a few small to moderate size maps and then get feedback. People don't usually like playing on huge maps much as they are usually too slow. Also its generally not advisable to have more than 15 or so predeployed units per army simply because no-one likes doing so much manual clicking! AW doesn't respond yet to general commands like "attack", or "capture that bridge"!! In fact most good map-makers usually use very few predeployeds.
If you wish to make a fair, balanced map, then give a thought to the person (country) who plays second turn... think about what the first guy will "achieve" (funding, purchases, moving predeployeds) on his first turn and use your powers as mapmaker to give the other guy "half" of it in some way. That's called giving a counter balance to first turn advantage. Read: http://awbw.amarriner.com/wiki/index.php/FTA.
Map Making -- competition maps.Edit
Designing competition or league quality maps is not so easy. They need to be fair/balanced, stable, and not too easily drawn/stalemated. Expect exaggerated 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 your "design maps" page.
To get advice on making better maps, see the relevant AWBW guides sections and AWBW forum topics.