Part 114: TitanHere's one where Digitalis is sort of the opposite of unimportant
Authored by CobraKill.
This is the map I referenced my uber-stupidity on a few posts ago. I am not responsible for your mental damage if you choose to consume this update after having been thusly warned.
Pretty big one, it extends a bit below and above this image. The emitters are fairly moderate, most of them 100 strength twice a second. And it throws us a bone with that Inhibitor in the middle of the map, we don't have to clear the whole thing. More big maps in general should do this. Especially one coming up in a couple updates that almost drove me stark raving mad through its sheer grindiness.
Back to the present, it's also clear that every part of this map was purposefully designed. CobraKill didn't just throw stuff in here. That flat platform on the left is the only place we can start. ON THE DIGITALIS. I have to admit, that's a gimmick I never would have thought of - and I'm not sure, having experienced it, that I can endorse it. But it is different and, at least thus far, original. Shall we?
A few collectors, Reactors on the towers, let's save energy by going for the ore, and defensive Digitalis Pulse Cannons on the north and south.
The creeper took out the ore mine, but not until it had produced enough ore to supply the Sprayer, which recovered a defensive position in the area. Unfortunately, I discovered that two defensive cannons to hold back the digitalis was not enough. Especially when you don't get the second pair built in time. This is 1:47 mission time, and I would conclude within seconds that this attempt was doomed. Perhaps I shouldn't have abandoned the Sprayer idea as quickly as I did, but I came to the conclusion that I just didn't have enough time for it. And ultimately I think I was probably right, but it might well be possible to make it work.
Take 2 - 3:40 video
Ignoring the ore completely, I go for a similar setup with a trio of cannons on each flank and a Sniper on each side to combat the Runners. A problem that would haunt me for a while, and which I never solved, was getting a secure, yet effective post for this. It seemed everywhere was either too dangerous for them to survive or else it didn't provide an adequate field of fire.
I was doing reasonably well, building my way out of the energy deficit, cannons in the east to clear the way for ore and a Terp in place to try and wall that deposit off to make things easier - and then I realized I'd returned to one of my most common fatal flaws. I've largely exorcised this, but not completely.
Survival depends on building Beams before the Spores are incoming. Crash-bang-boom, disaster, and inside of four minutes another attempt bites the dust. I actually tried to recover this for a bit, and it might have even been possible - but under pressure and in an even bigger energy hole, I decided it wasn't worth the effort.
Take 3 - 7:48 video
This time I went with snipers on the eastern towers, and remembered to get Beams up. However, this meant less Reactors in place initially, which is an even bigger problem than I expected it to be. Here I'm at about a 6-8 deficit with 6.9 income. That's pretty rough, and as a result the Runners are periodically stunning things, and the snipers are taking their sweet time getting built.
The first wave of four Spores was handled ... but the pair of beams was virtually dry on ammunition by the time we took them out.
The next problem is that those eastern towers starting flooding ... so I had to pull back the snipers. And take a look at the control panel on the bottom - this is another no-Mortars-allowed mission. I didn't comment on that in the video until later I don't think, but it certainly removes one of the most obvious solutions to the dilemma.
The Creeper gradually seeped around behind us, and out of room I was trying to use that area to build more Reactors. That meant I needed to start throwing down defensive cannons, which I didn't have the energy for and the main platform was under increased pressure. Deficit of 10 here with 8.8 supply. Just not good enough.
Shortly after this, at eight minutes mission time, I gave up. Hadn't actually been overrun yet but it was clearly coming - the pressure was increasing just a little bit faster than I could work my way out of it, and it was only a matter of when the network would fall, not if.
Take 4 - 14:33 video
The next idea was get more energy up initially before the creeper shows up. There's not a lot of time, but there is some. Last time I had three reactors at first; by using that area in the west behind us, I get five going this time. Building all of them right away left me with just a tiny deficit, so it was close to the mark but a hair too aggressive. Things were going ok - not great, but ok ... until I forgot to get beams up in time again.
Really at that point I probably should have just realized that my brain wasn't functioning as well I needed it to, and tried again another day. But I was too stubborn to do that.
Take 5 - 15:32 video
"Maybe there are quick levels in the Alpha Sector, but this sure isn't going to be one of them."
I stagger-built the initial reactors, going with four initially to avoid that early deficit, then added another pair for a total of six, one more than last time. I wanted to keep pushing the envelope on that, because it's a lot harder to do so after the creeper arrives and there's a constant deficit due to the required defenses.
I had a 9.3 energy supply by the time the spores showed up ... but it was still only half, at most, of requirements. So I started building two reactors at a time instead of a single one. That was sort of a Catch-22; I wasn't sure I could maintain defenses with the kind of deficit that would create, but I was sure that if I didn't do it, I'd end up with the same issue of never getting out of the hole and fighting a slowly-losing battle.
Just past six minutes in, we didn't get one of the spores, which smashed into a reactor on the rear towers just as I'd gotten the cannons up back there.
Take 6 - 19:30 video
I knew I needed to be even more energy-focused at this point. This time I went for eight reactors, hoping to squeeze them in and still have time to defend. It worked, and after that I went for constant two-Reactor-builds right away also. In fact, I concluded that I could make at least one more Reactor at the start and still have time for everything with proper timing.
This time, when the first Spore Alarm went off, we had 10.4 income and only a deficit of 4. Still imperfect, but a heck of a lot better. Problem here is that there is limited room for more with the rough surrounding terrain. I was able to cram in a few and actually got an energy surplus of all things. Then it was time for a 'defensive expansion'.
This was to be my 'pasture' or whatever in the rear of the main base. An external wall is first, to keep the creeper out - the cannons would have to clear out some of the enemy first of course. Elevation of 5 is basically a compromise between the time required to Terp it into place, and being tall enough to keep out the creeper. I could raise it later. A second terp was added to speed up the work ... but it also put us back into a small energy shortfall. A necessary one though, in my view.
To even get to areas like this gap in the north, I had to use the terps to level out the terrain.
Eventually the work was completed, and I had a good-sized area to build on. Now there was a real chance.
Eventually the Pasture was given over to Reactors and Berthas, which were first used to clear the way to finally get a secure hold on that ore deposit and get a sprayer running. Finally, I was ready to go on the attack. The point of equilibrium achieved, I was confident of victory.
After raising the wall to the max and expanding our energy supply, I started working on clearing out the flanks. There's an emitter on each side to take care of before we can seriously consider trying to attack the Inhibitor. A terp leveled out the terrain as we pushed forward, with bertha support helping to clear the way and a massed Cannon formation doing the rest of the work.
It was fairly slow, but effective, with the usual single-shield technique getting us close enough to nullify the elevated target.
And then it was time. Time for the first of my two Great Moments in Stupidity. And I did not save the worst for last.
The primary issue here was worrying about stuff like expanding, building more reactors, acquiring another ore deposit, etc. before I secured this new northern territory with anti-Spore Beam defenses. This whole process begins a little short of an hour into the video by the way, in case you're a sadist.
One of them hit a relay, which blew up and the resulting creeper lake took out three more. But our cannons cleaned up the mess. I did not yet see the danger.
I rebuilt the Relays - sort of. Note that only one of the three cannons holding back the Digitalis is connected. So naturally, I just went about the business of building the beams I should have had down earlier, until ...
This is when I realized I had a serious problem. And by then, it was very nearly too late.
I pulled the weapons back onto the platform to defend, but all of my beams were already destroyed. More spores slammed into the pasture, obliterating a sizable portion of my infrastructure.
"Impressive. Truly impressive. Thing is, I think I'm gonna salvage this."
I still didn't get it. Moving a few cannons back there to clean up the mess, I did nothing about Spore Defense. Which lead to ...
And now, defeat has been decisively, firmly, and unquestionably snatched from the jaws of victory. Completely self-inflicted. I had things secured, and acquired a power zone, one of my flanks cleared and all other directions defensible for as long as I needed to do so. I had only one job - don't lay out a freaking welcome mat. And even so, I could have built relays properly and connected up all of the cannons after that first impact. I probably could have saved it by putting up a couple beams even after that first couple spores slammed into the pasture.
At each juncture, I realized what was going on WAY too late. And so, after over 46 minutes of what should have been a successful attempt, I had to restart. AGAIN. As usual, it was even more painful on the replay as I came to grips with how easily it could have and should have been averted.
Take 7 - 1:03:16 video, 3:57 mission timer
In an act of mercy to the internet, most of what I did to get to that point was edited out of the video - cutting it down to once again being just a hair under two hours. I did show a couple changes though.
I went with an even slightly more aggressive energy approach, and a somewhat larger pasture area. This might have been overly ambitious - there were more casualties as I struggled to clear it out. A couple times I'd terp down some territory to clear out space ... and the creeper would rush in, incinerating the terp. The creeper also started overflowing the 5-high wall before I raised it. But it did eventually work, and I had more territory to work with.
Much the same technique was used to clear out first the northern flank, and then the southern one. Except without the royal screwup of last time, of course.
Then I decided that this was a good idea. I needed to find a way to push east to the Inhibitor. It was time. Queue Great Moment in Stupidity Number Two. I really needed this guy around to point out the obvious:
Guilty as charged, Wesley. I tried for WAAAAYYYYYYY too long to get this to work. Shields don't help much, because they have no impact on the digitalis itself. Sprayers and Cannons can't fire above their location, so getting up to the next level without getting wrecked by the digitalis itself is rather problematic. I even brought in a terp to level things out more, which accomplished nothing useful. There's probably a dumber way to go about mounting an offensive on this level, but it'd have to be something like a mass suicide-bombing of all your weapons at once or something. It's just a really, really bad idea - which didn't stop me from spending something like ten minutes trying. I'm actually shocked it wasn't longer - felt like half an hour. Anyway ...
Yeah, this is a much better way. More spaced-out elevation changes, a plateau to start from, and of course no digitalis at the very south.
Once in position, I eliminated the Air Exclusion Tower up here, and starting attacking the digitalis from a much better position. Inefficiently and ineffectively at first, but it was still the proper idea.
Eventually, it occured to me to bring the AC up here, and progress accelerated. Taking this emitter and exclusion tower out is vital as a staging area for the assault on the inhibitor.
After screwing that up a couple of times for good measure, I got it done and then threw everything I had at the Inhibitor. It was sort of slow going, but I got close enough with the help of shields to knock it out, and finally slew the Titan.
This is a good level. Just ... don't do it the way I did it. Spare yourself the pain.