Part 128: Gorge of the VoidGorge of the Void
This is a long one, and even after completing it I don't think I fully understand the map.
A big map again, and one of those that noticeable is devoid of flat terrain to offer limited landing sites. Digitalis dominates the northeast, empty space in the middle, there's emitters all over the place but most are the 'standard' 20 per half-second variety, though a fiar number are different ... and only a single Spore Tower. Most of the land is also covered by Air Exclusion Towers.
I think this is a nice touch, designed so you really can't do anything with it; just a compass. I have no idea why the southeast and northwest faces are different.
This is in the southeast. We start with one Command Node; the other two can be 'acquired' by artifacts. We also can't initially use the Terp, but there's an artifact for that as well.
This white island in the middle of nothing seems to be the only real starting place. There are a few other places where there's room, but they involve starting almost on top of emitters so no.
Then there's this thing nearby which is the reason I don't think I fully understand this map. It appears to be generated both creeper AND anti-creeper. There's enough AC to more than neutralize the standard creeper, but not enough to do anything with. Also note the small holes in the terrain ...
Which are now gone. They are constantly appearing and disappearing in a cycle that never ends. I never found a way to interact with this thing. You can't connect to it in any way I could discover, including nullifying it. So what, seriously, is this thing supposed to do? What is the point of this tiny island structure that doesn't produce anything that can be used aside from to be in the way?? Is it just to force to me use ever-increasing numbers of question marks???
My early strategy was based around getting Beams up to defend against the Spores, then prepping an invasion of the mainland to the southwest as it seemed like the most inviting landing spot - hence the Guppies. The first part of that plan doesn't matter, because these are AC spores. Note to self; check their stinking payload. These are -57; apparently negative numbers means AC, not standard creeper. Given how cramped I am for space, getting rid of those beams immediately was necessary.
Here's our landing site. That emitter to the east of us here btw is real fun to get to, and produced 49 every 0.1 seconds to make sure you don't just try to land there. It'll be there for a while. My immediate goal was just do something to start killing creeper, but it soon became reaching that Totem and Emitter in the very southwest corner. We can't set up a proper network here because;
** There's not enough flat space anywhere
** We have only the one Command Node
** We don't have Terps
So this is going to be a soley guppy-funded operation. As I ramped up, this quickly became about cramming the best Reactor/Guppy combo I could on the starting island chain for delivery of the maximum amount of energy. I also had AC-Collection Sprayers up on a couple of them to ensure maximum AC supply to the sprayer down here.
At this point the invasion is largely mature. I've got four energy guppies, one for anti-creeper, and this is more or less what I can support with that. We've made it down the hill, but there's a gully and we have to go up the other side. Which is less simple. I would get to know this terrain really, really well.
I put up a Shield to help get us up the hill, and moved Cannons to the top for raiding. It wasn't quite enough though. All I really want to do here is get a Relay up in range of that Totem. Then I could start a Forge, do some upgrades, and really start moving. As I slightly tweaked the position of this or that, it started to become clear that I had a long-term problem; the creeper was overall accumulating faster than I was killing it. More and more was pressing in from the north.
I would eventually discover that this was necessary. Putting mortars facing north gave them just enough range to hit on the other side of the 'canal' or whatever it is, pounding the creeper that ended up there. It took a little while, but this did significantly lower the amount of it pressing down on my position.
By continuing to tweak what I was already doing with the raids in combination with the mortar work, shield, etc. I was barely able to accomplish this. It was tenuous though, the whole situation was basically balanced on a knife-edge including energy supplies. I waited until the amount of guppy ammo at this end of things was fairly good, then finished building the Forge. I was already a bit over an hour in to this mission by the time it was built - but now I had a way to break the deadlock.
At the time I had an income of 8.1, deficit of 2-3. A couple of energy efficiency boosts came first, then see-sawed with Move Speed which allowed the guppies to deliver it faster once the reactors got ahead.
Eventually the supply situation improved to the point where a couple more cannons could be supported. That gave me enough firepower to claim the heights, and with it take out the first Emitter. Equilibrium had been achieved, and passed - but I was far from done.
Next was a march up this ridgeline along the western edge of the area. That PZ became the home for a SuperBertha, and if you look close here you can see an Aether Deposit that I'll shortly put a Siphon on. There are also more totems to be had - I was definitely breaking out here. There's a whole lot of similar action as I push up this western landmass.
Further up is the Terp ... which I ended up not actually needing yet. But still, good to have.
Finding a spot just big enough to move the command node over, I also put up a series of SuperReactors on some of the recently acquired PZs. Energy was now at like 60 or close to it. It was no longer an issue. Now it was time for the grindy middle of this map, making my way to the remaining emitters, most of them over rough terrain. I had all the tools needed, it was just a bit tedious - but not so many of them as to be tremendously so.
Evenutally this SuperRelay connection allowed me to hook up to the initial island network, further strengthening our infrastructure. The Guppies were out of a job for now, but they'd see more action in the future.
These narrow formations in the northwest were the next thing to tackle.
I set up a few Mortars to pound this area now that we had enough range to do that better, but I wasn't quite sure yet how I wanted to go about it. I advise maxing out upgrades first.
The slog through those northern parts has a prize at the end; our second Command Node.
After a long pounding, and then terp-terraforming the territory to flatten in out, I was able to land here and take out this annoying little twerp.
I'd conquered half the map in a little over two hours. Yay?!?
There's a gap here in the AE coverage, so a mass landing with guppy support there seemed indicated. The bertha artillery also focused on the surrounding areas to clear the way.
I brought in a terp to flatten things out and get enough room to set our new node down on a power zone - just because I can, basically.
A gradual expansion with building a new reactor farm over here and the whole nine yards wasn't too terribly exciting, but eventually we embarked on another overkill expansion - and snagged the artifact which would permit a third node to be deployed.
Time for the third major section. Kind of hard to see from this high up, but this is once again a matter of using the hole in the anti-air defenses. The lower-right is clearly the best spot. It's a fairly strong emitter nearby, so this didn't go exactly as planned initially. Doing it the 'right way'(boring) did work.
Up the hill, take out another emitter, place another node, build another reactor yawnfarmyawn, and then it was time to take on the Digitalis itself.
Another guppy landing operation gets us across to some dry ground. Our berthas had long since killed off the minimal amount of runners, but I put up a SuperSniper nearby here teo make sure it stays that way.
These digitalis cannons handle the central emitter, which is something like 200 creeper every three seconds.
Then we play a fun game of 'you can't get there from here' to wrap things up. Both emitters in view are tough to reach.
I made this part more difficult than it had to be, because I mistook the very outer edge of this island for empty space. But basically I leveled out a big section of it in order to have room to place a nullifier for the emitter to the north. There's room for guppies, but only once you flatten it along the very western edge. Most of it is still air-excluded ... because of a tower underneath the emitter to the east.
A platform to keep the creeper away and some guppy-funded relays eventually got the second one.
This is the last one, and terping-from-a-distance seems required. It is also a royal PITA, because of the small area and the fact that the emitter pumps out 490 creeper every 0.03 seconds. Or constantly, at a rate of over 16k/second. Terraforming/walling proved insufficient. I might have been able to make it work, but instead I made use of something else I found lying around earlier ...
Hard to see the object underneath everything, but that's a Freeze artifact of Odin. It lasted long enough to power the nullifier, and wrap things up. In exactly three hours.
Despite the length, this was a good one I think - best planet I've seen in a while. The middle isn't overly tedious and gives you some rewards via the artifacts, siphons, extra nodes, etc. that are helpful to keep moving. Some parts like the end are designed to make you do things you might not do naturally, the guppy-powered assault at the beginning is appropriately difficult, etc. Aesthetics are good also. Still no clue of the purpose of that weird object at the start though. It just doesn't seem to do anything for the level.
Next one will be a two-fer, finishing up this system and moving on to Link327 as well.