Part 9: The Orange Star Factory - some strategic notes
The Orange Star factory - some strategic notes
This is a factory. Say hello, factory.
... well, I guess I shouldn't expect anything more sensible from Flak's factory.
Factories are, essentially, horribly broken. They can produce units for Black Hole free of charge, landing straight on to the three squares in front of the factory, and the produced units can move and fire on the same turn that they're built. So not only do they wreck the idea of you trying to win a war using superior economics, but they can lead to some very nasty surprise attacks (for example, I think on one turn during the Blue Moon factory mission, Lash springs three Neotanks on you). Factories can't be destroyed directly, although you can block them from deploying by parking on the three squares in front of the factory, where the units come out.
Coming out of the back of the factory is one of Black Hole's notorious pipes, feeding the factory with the raw materials it needs to make units. Even air units can't fly over pipes, although long-range units can fire over them (I guess they must set their firing barrels at a very high angle or something...). The pipe is also indestructible. But there is a weak point...
... a seam where two sections of pipe are bolted together. This behaves just like any other breakable Black Hole structure, and bombers, long range units and the heavier tanks can do serious damage here. Our objective is to break this seam: do it and the factory shuts down, winning us the mission and liberating Orange Star. Crossing the rivers to the north and capturing that base and airport are the key to this. We've also got a couple of missile silos - they won't damage the pipe seam, but they could be handy for a number of reasons - slowing down capturing infantry, damaging Flak's larger concentrations of units, and so on.
However, factory missions are hard, and annoying, and I fully expect my string of six 300-pointers (and one 297-pointer) to come to an end here.
Anyway, which CO to use? Each one has their advantages and disadvantages for this mission:
Max has the firepower to take down the seam in one hit, if he can grab the airport and get a full-health bomber there. A medium tank or a neotank can also make fairly short work of the seam, although he'd have to grab those bases first. The airport and bases will probably be heavily contested, so that won't be a walk in the park. His strong tanks will also stand a reasonable chance of pushing back all the units that come out of Flak's factory. However, Max's weak indirects mean that taking on the seam that way isn't really an option. So although Max has a good Plan A, if Flak gets a decent anti-aircraft force going then Max doesn't have much of a Plan B.
Sami's infantry and mechs will have an easier time grabbing those key bases and that airport, and if she needs to defend her HQ she can always produce a giant mech flood to gum up Flak's assault. Her weaker air units and tanks will make taking down the seam a bit tougher, although a rocket on the forest square directly south of the pipe seam would be in a nice position.
Andy offers an all-round package of having any strategy work reasonably well, but the weakness of not having one killer strategy. Andy might have more trouble than the others defending his HQ, but Hyper Repair and Hyper Upgrade will help even out the economic advantage that the Factory gives Flak, as well as giving a new lease of life to any units that get crippled while trying to attack the seam, letting them finish the job in style. As with Max, he'll have to fight hard to secure the base and airport.
So, all three COs have advantages and disadvantages here. I'll try my best with whichever CO you pick, although if I get really stuck I may switch to a different one.