Part 5: Mission 4: Test of Time (or "Black Hole technology lets us put Battleships in tiny lakes")
Mission 4: Test of Time (or "Black Hole technology lets us put Battleships in tiny lakes")
By popular demand, we're heading off to the lab!
What? How did they find us here?!?
I... I don't know, sir. Maybe a map fell into their hands?
Grrrr! How long will it take to erase all of the weapon data?
10... No, we should be able to do it if we have 7 days.
Well, get started! Don't let them get that intel!
So basically the upshot of that little conversation is that we only have seven days to beat this mission. If we end turn on day 7 and we haven't routed all units or captured the lab, we lose. So it's going to be tricky - but at least it's going to be a fairly short post. Okay, let's go!
If this goes well, we might be able to seize their new weapon designs.
Nell! We're ready to advance! But... shouldn't this be Sami's mission?
No can do, Andy! I'm still gathering my troops. My last battle left me with a shortage of combat-ready soldiers. But to be honest, I'd love to try and infiltrate their base by myself.
Do you honestly think that I would approve such recklessness?
It's OK, Sami! Helping each other is what we're all about! My troops are fresh and itching to go!
Right then. We've got a decent-sized predeployed force, but no bases. Then again, with only seven turns, a base wouldn't have much time to make an impact anyway.
Our goal is to capture this lab over here, the one my cursor's currently over. Labs behave in exactly the same way as HQs, in that if you capture them, it's game over for the AI.
Right, let's go mountain climbing. I don't think I mentioned this before, but infantry and mechs that climb mountains get three squares added on to their vision range - so it jumps up from 2 to 5. Handy, that. Anyway, this tells us a fair bit: we've got some medium tanks to fight against, a few units round the HQ, a rocket and a battleship...
"Wait a minute," I'm sure some of you are saying "why is there a battleship in that lake? More to the point, how on Wars World did it get there?". To be honest, I don't know myself, but maybe Flak can explain.
Joking aside, what to do about that rocket and battleship? Should we advance on them? It seems risky. But with a seven-day time limit we need to be risky so let's start out.
Well, at least we don't have to worry about the rocket any more.
Moving up a rocket and artillery so I can target the Battleship next turn. Again, risky because the Battleship will be looking to score some hits itself, but what can one do? I've also moved up the other medium tank to cover the chokepoint to the north.
Moving up the other artillery and rocket, and the recon for vision. And of course, the mech-loaded APC that's going to be key to our lab-capturing gambit.
Finishing off. I'm going to be leaving the AA back a bit, in case any of Flak's mechs get smart ideas about crossing the mountains and trying to snaffle my HQ (don't laugh, I think that happened to me first time I tried this mission on my first HC playthrough).
And yep, Flak's battleship says "thanks for the target practice".
Don't actually attack the rocket that poses a threat to you, Mr. Battleship, now.
(Okay, I admit that I cheesed this a little. Sometimes the AI decides to attack this rocket, sometimes it attacks the rocket that can actually hit it. I ended up trying this mission 3 times: on the first time, it attacked this rocket but I failed the mission. On the second time, it attacked the top rocket and I restarted. This time, Flak decided to attack the bottom rocket and everything went peachy).
Bye bye Mr. Battleship. Sorry, Flak, looks like your lander's going to be lonely after all .
Let's go round attacking other stuff.
Even the 1HP rocket gets to chip in and knock a hit point off a medium tank.
Owch! For once, Barbaric Blow does decent damage. Flak's recon wanded up to my medium tank and knocked off five health. Not nice.
How do I get out of this?
Oh right, yeah, power meter full.
Right back at ya, Flak.
Hyper Upgrade: saving you from potentially awkward situations since 2003.
Okay, let's start out by softening up all these medium tanks with my long-range units.
My tanks follow up, the middies storming the bridge while a small tank takes up chokepoint defence duties. That went well enough.
Sure, join up your medium tanks, Flak, I can concentrate my fire better that way.
The middies plough on along the bridge...
... Artillery and tank fire take out Flak's last middie...
... And my other long range units clean out that AA and small tank.
Everyone else moves up. Time to end turn.
Uh-oh, hidden fog of war rockets. No-one likes hidden fog of war rockets. Well all right, they're great if they're your hidden fog of war rockets, but...
Okay, so where might these rockets be?
Well, we know they're in a forest. And we know that they've got to be no more than five squares away from the now-damaged medium tank. So I reckon it's got to be one of these two squares that I've circled. Let's find out...
Yep, there we go.
Time to clear a path for the star of the show...
... this mech-carrying APC. Gotta unload today, it's going to take two days to capture and that's all that's left after this turn.
Setting up a defensive perimeter around the lab. Can't kill that rocket, unfortunately, but I have options if it decides to attack the mech: I could do enough damage to get Hyper Repair, or I could move that infantry up.
The rest of the team move up and I can end turn.
So the rocket decided it would better serve Flak's cause if it moved to a city to try and heal, rather than take a pot shot at my mech.
Yeah, how's that working out for you?
And for the hell of it, here's the lander guy Flak was talking about - he'd been hiding in a reef. Reefs are like forests, in that they act as hiding spots in fog of war. You want to give someone a nasty surprise, hide a battleship in a reef. We won't kill the lander, it's harmless and I think it would make Flak sad.
Right! Anything else we need to do? Don't think so, so let's finish this.
Delicious, delicious weapon plans.
.........Assemble everyone in the factory.
In the factory... Yes, sir!
(Note: In NC, you're forced to do the lab mission after the other three, so Flak's remark about retreating to the factory makes a little more sense. Still, in HC, the other three missions are against the other Black Hole COs - with Flak hiding back at his factory - so I guess it makes some sense).
Excellent work, in spite of difficult conditions. With these plans, we should be able to develop neotanks of our own. Anyway, congratulations! This was a great victory. Let's head for home and celebrate!
Wahoo! Let's have a BBQ!
... yeah, okay, why not, there's still a war going on but I guess we can stop for a barbeque...
Right, I guess I'd better stop stalling and explain what a Neotank is.
Neotank (22000G). Don't let the quirky design fool you, this secret Black Hole weapon is superior to the Medium Tank in pretty much every way bar cost. It does more damage and takes less damage, is faster and carries more fuel and ammmunition. Its main weaknesses are the same as the medium tank's: long-range attacks and air units.
Tune in next time for...
One down, three to go. I think POW Rescue was in the lead when I posted this, but feel free to drop in a different vote. Mountain Ops is the only mission of the three where you might see a neotank in action, but then again it'd be Sami's neotank, so it might not be that exciting. But we shall see.