Part 101: FarborFarbor
Let's do this.
Warning: that video is a hair over two hours long. With about an hour of material either off-screen or edited out. Also worth noting; At about the 1 hour, 25-minute mark is when I did the sound fix. There's a little blurp about that and some other stuff at that point.
That blue box is hard to read as this zoom. It says 'Destroy the Ore Processors before the Prism Ship launches.' We'll get to that. We're definitely at the point here where the levels were specifically designed and balanced to be challenging, and we've got digitalis, separated landmasses, spore towers building, some weird thing on a mesa in the northeast, and whatever that Prism Ship thing is in the middle. We'd better discuss this situation before proceeding.
OIC. So that giant sucking sound is everything I know about physics being flushed down the drain. Understood.
So ... if we take too long and don't stop the Prism Ship in time, the Creeper might not destroy us on purpose, but rather on accident as a side effect. That's just grand.
It's a good thing that 'give up' isn't in Skars' vocabulary.
The eight grey pads around the Ore Processors 'activate' right away. At first I didn't even notice, much less have any idea what they were doing. We'll get back to them.
While I looked around at the map and took note of the emitter strengths, which aren't that high(20-30 every 0.5 seconds), the pads finished what they were doing. Which I eventually would discover, is building these transport ships. They go out to various ore deposits, gather loads, and bring them back for processing. Each load allows the construction of the Prism Ship to advance. I would later discover that if you have an ore mine or something else blocking the deposit they are trying to land on, it is simply and instantly destroyed with no harm done to the ore transport. I think that's pretty much a dirty trick.
Two nearly-identical islands, one in the northwest and one in the southeast, are the clear starting locations here. So it's a multi-tasking operation. That naturally complicates things. Each one has a totem, ore, an emitter, and an elevated place to put the command node.
In both locations I did this basic deal; as many collectors as I could get away with, a couple cannons to hold back the creeper, then reactors to expand the energy supply. I noticed the Prism Ship was at about 20% here, and it was about at this point when I relented to the idea that this would be an experimental attempt. I needed to learn how the mission worked, I wasn't going to be winning it on the first try. Which wasn't a real surprise anyway.
I hadn't even thought about getting Beams up yet, so uh this happened when the spore towers activated. Eventually I fought back to get enough of them going, added a sprayer on each island, and made gradual progress -- while the prism ship was rapidly getting finished up.
Eventually I got to one of the emitters, but also discovered that, as you can see here, cannons-mortars-sprayers-nullifers can't do diddly-squat to their ore transports. That's unfortunate.
At about 13:40 on the mission timer, an alarm sounds as the Prism Ship is launched. All is lost.
Pretty elementary stuff honestly, as anyone who paid attention during primary-school Rift Space Studies knows.
'Everything we have' isn't much at this point. But all is not lost. Yet. Farbor has achievements for beating the mission both Early(keeping the Prism Ship from launching by destroying the Ore Processors) and Late(not stopping the Prism Ship, but blowing the Enhanced Totem before it fires).
The target area has emitters, digitalis, runner nests, a nice amount of built-up creeper, and and an Air Exclusion Zone covering almost the whole island. Almost, but not quite. Still, it's quite well-protected.
About this point I started wondering about Snipers. We've seen them take out gliders, runners, etc. which can defeat our other weapon systems. Can they do anything to the transports? A minute after the first message, the Prism Ship reached the Enhanced Totem and began the firing sequence ...
That's true, but he's been a bit blase and cocky here.
I was playing with house money since I knew I wasn't going to win the mission this time, so I just started messing around with things for part of that 20 minutes. Here's a third of the way through it, you can see a reddish beam, the opened totem, display of the 34% progress so far, and whatnot. That gives a regular countdown on how long it is till Doom.
I built some strafers, not having noticed the air exclusion zone yet. Here's what happens when you try to violate it ... once you enter the zone, they just stop firing. They can fly through it, just can't do anything while they are there. I've also got a couple of berthas up, you can see the explosions from that below.
Since somebody had mentioned this in the thread, I gave it a try; the Return to Orbit option on the command node when full of ore. That gets the Rain Man achievement, and does this. It's literally raining anti-creeper.
Locations appear to be random on where they fall. That's cool, if a bit pointless. At this point, with several minutes before the firing sequence was complete, I just restarted. They didn't seem to be any point to continuing this attempt, and I wanted to try to improve my starting strategy.
Take 2 -- 33:40 video, 3:35 mission timer
Got off to a bit better start, and figured I had a decent handle on the initial build order. Which basically at each island is a bunch of collectors, a couple cannons to hold off the creeper, reactors & a beam to boost energy, then eventually ore mine/sprayer/more reactors/a third and fourth cannon/one mortar on each. With emphasis on MOAR REACTORS, otherwhise energy just isn't going to happen.
I also did some SCIENCE and discovered that snipers can in fact damage the ore transports. So perhaps with enough of them, I could at least slow down the construction of the Prism Ship ... they can take a lot of damage though, so one sniper isn't enough to do a whole lot of good.
To completely stop a transport from getting any ore, it took three snipers. That's enough firepower to blow it up before it can pick up a load and leave. As seen here, when that happens they just build a new one, but still it does slow things down. I can't be shooting down all eight of them, because some of them don't come anywhere near the two starting islands, but it does work to an extent.
Take 3 - 45:07 video
So I restarted with the idea of focusing on slowing them down with the sniper strategy and see how much good that did me. By the time I had enough energy to power the intial snipers, it was six minutes in and the Prism Ship was already at 40%. So that was a bit discouraging.
In the north, this small island was another spot where I could take out the transports, making 3 of 8 under my control. It still had limited effect, and a lot of my energy was going to the effort, even with a SuperSniper in place there.
I decided to give this a try and see how far I could push things. Crossing over to the southern landmass here. The Prism Ship still finished at 16:12, which is later but only by about two and a half minutes. The Sniper Method bought me time, but no matter how much better I did it, that's all it was going to do. And I couldn't say with any confidence that it was even worth the time as opposed to putting resources elsewhere.
This was as far as I wanted to go, snagging another PZ, ore deposit, totem, and using that small island to cross over to the mainland. Of course guppies could have worked as well. That's something else I just haven't gotten in the habit of using. Sue me.
Well, I've made it to the primary island. On the other end of it is the Enhanced Totem. So this is progress. One emitter was quickly neutralized ... but the firing sequence was at 76%. It was clear this was taking too long.
I discovered something interesting though; taking out an Ore Processor also destroys both transport pads connected to it.
It's awkward moving through this whole area, where the prism ship launched from, because you can't land on any of the grey pads.
I took out everything in that area but wasn't quite ready to move forward when the end came. First, a blast of whitish Aether ...
Then a complete fade to black. Everything is destroyed. I particularly like the '167 more messages' on the left. Also, I perversely got an Achievement for this; Failure Has Its Own Rewards. Which is rather ironically named. The achievement itself is the only reward, and as far as I know, it's the only time you can lose a mission and get an achievement for it.
I wanted to conduct more SCIENCE, but I waited several days before doing it.
Take 4 -- 1:25 video, 32:40 mission timer
Having done a bunch of stuff off-screen, I resumed here with fixed audio and blathered on a bit about that. And sniper experimentation was the entire point of this run. You can see I have a stupid amount of them, and haven't taken out any of the ore processors. Reason being, I wanted to find out if I could slow down the firing sequence at all. I theorized that it might cost the Creeper energy to build the transports, so if I was constantly destroying them on all of their pads -- they literally barely have time to finish building, if that, with this many guns shooting at them -- perhaps that would drain energy from the Totem or something.
You'll be happy to know that all I accomplished in this was confirming that this has no effect whatsoever. The sequence still proceeded just as quickly, literally to the second, as if I was doing nothing. Shooting at this stuff has no impact whatsoever after the Prism Ship launches, and I wasn't going to be able to stop that. I thusly concluded that the whole sniper angle was basically a waste of time. Also, if I wasn't going to build snipers then there really wasn't much point in building that second network in the northwest island that I was never going to hook up to anyway. So I would focus on just starting on the one in the southeast, following the same expansion path, and just being fast enough to take out the totem before the Doom Timer was up.
This is how low I eventually had to turn down the effects. Any higher, and stuff like a lot of mortars/nullifiers firing just drown everything out.
Take 5 - 1:28:10 video
So it was off to the beginning again, and for the first time I was actually expecting to win at Farbor. One thing that only working off the one island/command node did was it allowed me to be a bit more efficient, esp. with a starting build that I was by this time quite familiar with. It didn't go perfectly, but in a little over eight minutes I had kicked the creeper off that island. Too often I forgot that I needed to constantly be building more reactors, but otherwhise it was a smooth progression west across to the bigger 'strip' island, then the hop north to get to the launching pad area. The reactors are particularly important due to the time crunch -- you can upgrade energy efficiency in the Forge, but that means less Aether for weapons upgrades.
With relatively few significant errors, I made this crossing again with, by my estimation, just over 15 minutes remaining to get to and take down the Enhanced Totem. I was confident I had plenty of time.
I didn't press the attack too much right away, waiting to increase the energy reserves. I also wanted to make sure to re-target the two SuperBerthas as we moved forward.
I didn't really need to take out the spore towers here, except I wanted to utilize all the power zones I could to leverage against the creeper. Not progressing as fast as I'd like, but still almost ten minutes left ...
Then I had sniper/runner issues. One, I didn't expect the snipers to insist on targeting the ships sitting on their launch pads instead of shooting the runners. And two, I didn't have enough of them ready. Which meant a bunch of units getting stunned, and general delays.
Unfortunately, snipers don't seem to have a 'target priority' function. Not that I considered looking for one at the time, mind you.
"You're shooting THAT? Why are you shooting that, of all the things you could shoot?!? Gotta put another nullifier over here just to get rid of that stuff, just so you won't shoot at it!"
I was a mite perturbed, a trifle annoyed, at my snipers here you might say. By the time all of that was sorted, I was ready to cross the digitalis and had 3-4 snipers ... but there was only five minutes left. I really did NOT want to do this again.
A digitalis-focused SuperCannon is just begging to be placed here. Snipers are now clearing out any runners before they get close. More SuperBerthas on the way. 78% complete firing sequence. AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME!!!!
Misclicking, time-wasting, mis-positioning all cost critical seconds. Things I normally wouldn't care about became vital. I targeted most of the big guns on the Totem Plateau as I approached. This was going to be over soon, one way or the other. It reached 95% by the time I got the nullifier in position with three cannons guarding it ... 97% as it finished building and started requesting ammo from the network, which had to come across half the map to get there ... 98% as the supply started to arrive, and I wasn't sure we'd make it. It hit 99% just before the nullifier started to fire, and
Well then. At 34:33 on the mission timer. I'm confident I had a solid 15-20 seconds to spare. Not that it was close or anything. I was literally pulling my hair out at the end, having made it considerably more difficult than it needed to be. But we made it! Skars and Lia are still alive! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
The thing took several seconds to fully explode, and then ...
The blather needed to continue. I really am incredible, aren't I?? It's a dangerous job, but I do it for my species. Well no, they're gone. I do it for myself, for the sheer morbid curiosity of things, and for my ... ship's computer? Hmm. Not as inspiring, that.
Remind me to smack that old goat Platius into the next universe the next time I see him ...
May your browsers forgive me ...