Part 132: BossBoss
What you see here is what you get for the terrain, slightly larger vertically than shown. Emitters and lots of creeper already in the west, along with Digitalis. Each of the emitters pumps out 400 every 0.03 seconds. There's only four of them, but that's still over 53k creeper total per second, not counting the initial amount. On the other hand I've got the high ground, and on that eastern strip plenty of Totems, Ore Deposits, Power Zones, and weaker AC Emitters. This clearly shapes up as a decidedly unsubtle, large-scale confrontation.
After placing the Command Node, I start to put out Collectors and then I'm greeted with this. Status stats on the as-yet-unseen Boss of this level, which any RPG fan will be familiar with. I'm sure all those terrible 'Like A Boss' memes from a decade ago are now filling your cranium as well. It doesn't take long to figure out that the HP corresponds to the amount of Creeper on the map at any present time. My first guess as to the ChanceOfAttack was that it scaled up with this amount - but that turns out to be incorrect.
Throwing up a couple rows of collectors on the top couple of tiers, connecting to the Totems and building Ore Mines, then proceeding with Reactors and a Forge. The general idea behind this - protect yourself with this plentifully-available AC while you build up a proper network and position - is the right one here. 2:36 in, and the Boss has almost 800 HP with a 2.2 attack chance.
There are three kinds of attacks the Boss can do. Here's the first one; a Creeper Ridge. This doesn't bother me right now, but it's not difficult to imagine that it wouldn't be a whole lot of fine if the two combatants were closer together. Meanwhile I'm getting up a row of Sprayers to start laying down a defensive carpet of AC. 3:30 mission time, 897 HP, ChanceOfAttack down to 0. At first I thought the Boss had to build the attack chance back up after each attack, but that's not the case. There's a brief period where it simply zeroes out so that multiple attacks can't happen too close to the same time.
Another wide, scaled-down shot to show the progression. Just over five minutes, 1100 HP, 3.6 attack chance. I've got the sprayers set to always on, and they are pouring AC downhill to slow down the tidal advance. Not by much mind you, but having enough of these to constantly keep AC supply in deficit is definitely recommended. I'm starting to expand the reactor farm as well.
Me: "Ok ... this is gonna hurt." I have no Beams up. I often do that out of stupidity, but I think I'm justified here. There are no Spore Towers on this map. This is the second Boss Attack. It just manufactures the things and flings them at you. I think, but am not certain, that how many it gets are based on the HP value. That might also modify the Finger attack, I don't know. For reference, 7:18 mission time, 1318 HP, attack chance up to 3.
I lose a bunch of collectors, but there were only a few of them and the payload pours back downhill into waiting anti-creeper. Rebuilding, and adding beams, is next.
Almost ten minutes, 1500+ HP, 4.4 attack chance. The next group of spores is much stronger, and some hit the reactor farm, almost wiping it out. Some of this section of them gets through as well. I chalk this attempt up to experience and elect to restart ... like a boss.
Take 2 - 11:40 video
Similar approach but more aggressive this time. Berthas won't fit on that narrow strip where the PZs are, so I set every other one for a SuperReactor and go with three tiers of collectors instead of two.
After getting sprayers and beams up, I realize I didn't have proper relay connections to the Totem/Mine pairings. Even after fixing this, I STILL missed for a while longer the fact that about a third of the ore mines hadn't been placed yet - LIKE A BOSS.
I also put up AC-collecting sprayers on the in-between power zones, to increase the supply and use those emitters to get the aqua goodness where I need it - downhill. Then it was time to start getting Berthas up, as many as our energy flow could support.
I also missed about a third of my 'front' that was without protection until it was almost too late - but I got beams up just in time to deal with the first spore attack.
LIKE A BOSS, naturally.
This thing causes me to partway flip out, hitting ten minutes in - just after the point I'd restarted on the first attempt. This is the third Boss Attack. It blackens out a somewhat random portion of the map for maybe 15 seconds or so. You can still select thing, but it's pretty darned difficult to effectively manage a network you can't even see.
I didn't notice this while playing, but it appears each attack actually consumes some attack chance; 5.4 to 3.6 before the big spore attack that came just before this, and then 4.6 when the black cloud or whatever hit, 3.9 afterwards. I've got about six or so berthas going, all on Auto-Target, and when their rounds hit there is a small reduction in HP ... but overall the trend is still upward as the Creeper ... well, creeps ... up the incline.
See that black outline drawing? That thing, which looks like a marine something-or-other, is The Boss. It only appears when it's about to do something.
I lose a few Beams here. 16+ minutes in, 1800+ HP, attack chance of 6.5 ... it was close to 10 before this. Stuff getting real. The delay operation has just about run its course. An extended period of general stalemate holds before long, HP at around 1900. The finger attacks regularly destroy some of my stuff, which I rebuild only to have different stuff destroyed shortly afterwards.
Here's the first real sign of apparent progress. I have something like 20 Berthas now, and the HP display shows 1795/1912 ... I've reduced it slightly, but significantly, from its peak a few minutes prior. There are areas with over 200 creeper depth, and it's covering a lot of territory - there's a lot of the death-giving blue hostile around.
I had a period of peace, during which the attack chance just increased. HP dropped to just above 1500, but then I paid for it. These two Fingers hit me with most of the map covered in blackness, so I couldn't see what to do. Best way I've found for dealing with them is moving everything in the path out of the way, then repositioning after the creeper's been beaten back. But that's not the easiest thing to do when it's all under a shroud.
I had just started putting up Mortars to the left of my Sprayer Row when this started, but that all went on hold as I started scrambling to save what I could.
Now it was pressing far enough up to hit my berthas, with attack chance regularly in the mid-20s so the gap between them was usually not long enough for me to accomplish much. It was clear that if I lost much of my artillery, I was going down to defeat. At this point I expected that to happen. I was having a hard time keeping up. Misclicks were costly and frustrating.
I continued working on the mortar project, which did seem to be helping wherever I could keep a few up for a while - combined with the sprayers, there was a noticeable affect in pushing the tide further down the hill. Also, here can be seen the SuperSprayers on the far right getting there two cents in; combined with range upgrades from the Forge, they would fire directly into any particularly bad incursions. That's some serious defense-in-depth on display.
The mortars coming online in addition to continued deep finger pushes even put us in energy deficit for a bit ... but the line was becoming more coherent with their addition and I was able to pull out of it. Here, at about 33 minutes, is where I think the battle really began to turn. The creeper is now a tier or two further down the hill from where it once was, I've more or less got a full line of mortars in place, and HP are under 1200.
That doesn't mean the Boss was finished - attack chance was now at about 50, but the impact was lessened and kept away from our most important structures. The process at this juncture involved gradually pushing forward to create space for more haphazard, decidedly suboptimal placing of reactors and berthas. Each operational big yellow creeper-buster meant bringing the end of this struggle closer, and more safety for the network.
Soon the fingers could only threaten our front-line units; beams/sprayers/mortars.
After a while, it could barely even do that. Yet the attack chance continued to mount - over 100 even while HP were down to 700. Half the hill was ours now.
I thought this was a malfunction when I saw it live, because it's subtle. It's not - it's a fourth type of Boss Attack. So I guess I lied earlier. Notice the line north and south of this Drawing Creature of slight elevated creeper. And then ...
Just after it disappears. Essentially it seems to bring a relatively small amount of Creeper forward, but in a complete front across the entire height of the map. You can see how much different the line separating creeper from AC is here compared to the previous shot.
I've been steadily decreasing the Boss HP for over ten minutes now. I have 200 energy coming in and nearly 30 AC. And I'm still building more, because I just want this thing to DIE.
When I finally got there ... nothing really happened. Any good RPG boss, or other NPC, dies when it hits negative HP. Or at least gets knocked out. Not this one. Nope, it just keeps churning. I was expecting a Warp Inhibitor-style effect where everything blows up and the level is over. No such luck, so I had to relay down there and Nullify myself.
Not only that, but the attack chance kept rising, over 220 by this point which means stuff was constantly happening - including that blasted black cloud. It does seem that extra AC is generated down near the emitters at the bottom of the hill once the HP go negative though. So that's a thing.
This is really impressive when you think about it. The Boss is dead. The level is over. I've won. And it's still attacking me, as evidenced by those just-launched Spores. The last emitter went down and the box telling me I'm victorious came up a minute or so prior to this. Boss doesn't care. Persistent jerk.
I may not have played this LIKE A BOSS - but I won. In this case, that's good enough for me.