Part 10: OctanChapter 10: Octan
That's a lot of words. I expected something more troublesome after the last two relatively easy worlds. A new toy is apparently going to be made available to deal with these Aerial Spores, and we have finally been told how to do something we've been doing for quite a while: capping emitters. This is one of those areas where they basically make you do it in the second level, but don't tell you about it until the 10th when it's supposed to be some new revelation; lots of good design in Creeper World but this isn't one of them.
We have the high ground once again, but there isn't much of it and six emitters oppose us. They'll quickly fill up the basins, so in terms of territory I expect to be fighting a losing battle soon. We've also got four minutes to snag that schematic and do something with it.
Doom Timer: 11:33
It takes a while to fill in all the lowlands, but once that happens the end comes quickly. Odin City even got hit with a Spore, but without support it dissipated. More than twice as long as Ara, but considerably faster than the last couple of outings.
Building out a network goes reasonably well; I let too much energy accumulate at a couple points but nothing too terrible. The path of it is pretty much dictated by the limited amount of real-estate that is on high ground.
We get the schematic and can now build SAMs ... with well under two minutes before the first Spores will arrive. Not much extra time there. I'm also not immediately grasping the logic behind using their shipping destinations as planets to visit.
Been a while since we were given something new. 7 of the 10 spots on the 'unit bar' or what-have-you are now filled in. These are the picture of simplicity; a reliable defense, and the only one, against the Spores. Essentially, Aerial Spores are a 'tax' on our economy; they require a modest number of SAM batteries to be placed, which takes resources away from other things.
I set up five of them right away, covering our current network. As you can see, there's the usual white area indicating the range. Like Blasters and Mortars, ammunition packets will be required once these are constructed. The coverage isn't perfect here, but it's pretty darn good. With 1:10 left before the first strike, it definitely remains to be seen though whether we'll be able to get them up and running.
Because I'm an idiot who wouldn't be fit to command a rubber raft on a calm day(apologies to Tom Clancy, bonus points to anyone who gets the reference), I add in a few collectors, spiking the energy deficit to about 30. The SAMs are cheap enough that I get away with it though; still takes only about 30 seconds to power them all up.
As it turns out, spores look like small asteroids. Here you can see one of our SAMs shooting a missile at one of them. Each site seems to have enough missiles to fire three times when full on ammo -- both are terminated before impact. I've also got a Blaster up and working, with a Mortar on the way as I keep expanding along the elevated ground. Also easy to miss is that the creeper in the northeast is overflowing its 'basin' there and heading my way ...
Not long afterwards, it does the same in the northwest. The in-construction mortar goes the way of all flesh, as do a couple of collectors and a SAM battery. I wasn't quite fast enough in getting things up and running -- and that Blaster should have been north more to fire at this threat, not shooting at the larger, slower-filling basins. Once it arrives there, I'm able to rebuild those assets.
I've added a couple more blasters, and the mortar is up and running; the tipping point has come, with the goal here to push east and north, clearing the high ground of Creeper presence before assault it's 'strongholds'.
A mortar bombing-run wreaked havoc on the once-full northeast basin ... and almost killed the mortar in the process, but it survived. That cleared enough room with the drain-off for a decent amount of expansion, leaving only the cleanup work left.
That would take a little over 10 minutes more.
Here's one reason why it took that long -- a spore strike with one getting through -- you can see where we have a couple of missing collectors and a good part of the network severed. It had just entered the range of one our SAMs when it hit, another second and it would have been eliminated. A bit of redundancy is indeed a good thing, and I paid the price for not having it. The dominoes fell a bit, as I lost two more collectors while the connections were rebuilt, since a number of our weapons platforms were no longer receiving ammo, giving the creeper a free hand.
Here's how it looked close to the end; we occupied most of the northern basins, leaving the southern ones to the creeper and just lobbing the occasional charge in there to make sure they stayed under control.
You can see the performance dip a little over halfway through when the Spore hit. Another one actually hit later, but wasn't nearly as problematic. Aside from that, not too bad.
The second leg is done, and on to the third which are Octan weapons systems customers apparently. And how many more? We're approaching the point soon where the levels will be new to me completely. When that arrives, mistakes will likely multiply.