Part 135: The StartThe Start
A creeper stronghold in the middle, with digitalis dividing things into a sort of 'four corners' starting position. Plenty of runners, no spores on this map, and artifacts in three of the corners. I did not immediately realize how important those would be.
Oh good. A tutorial mission.
First, why does it say 'Lia' if you are CAIN? The latter is a mystery now solved - sort of - because that would be CNAI. This isn't how acronymns work!
This would have been a good time for me to consider what artifacts actually help against runners and an air tower. I didn't do that, because Idontknow.
Based on all of that, this is supposed to be the first and easiest planet in this system, one would think. But it isn't. It really isn't.
I begin in the southeast, because Ore. We also get strafers here. This is a bad decision.
Within two minutes, I'm contemplating how to expand. Then I'm noticing that I can't do it without crossing the Digitalis. Which is quickly filling with Runners. And we have no Snipers. That isn't to say it's not doable from here - I'd say this is the second-best starting location. I'd need lots of Runner-focused Pulse Cannons, use the ore for Sprayers, maybe use strafers on the digitalis ... I don't know if that would be enough. But I was soon convinced I needed to go somewhere else.
This is a good point to go over the mission limitations:
** No Titans at all. No Forge/Thor/Bertha, meaning no upgrades.
** 1 Command Node only.
** No Terp, Siphon, or Guppy. Shield Artifact is in the SW corner.
** No Bomber or Beam weapons available, though we won't miss those. Strafer and Sniper require the requisite artifacts.
Take 2 - 3:41 video
A longer stretch of land begins in the northeast. More importantly, it has that Sniper artifact, a more conventional way of dealing with the runners. Here, I want to cut off that digitalis on the western end of the land and keep the creeper from coming up, while nullifying the nearby emitter right away.
This soon proves to be too aggressive, and my position collapses.
Take 3 - 5:35 video
Early Reactors are clearly going to be key here. I extend too much again, though not as far, and the stunned Collectors at 1:23 mission time here are part of the early price for my hubris. The creeper next to that emitter is already threatening to push up into our business.
Continuing with the 'two reactors at a time' approach that I tend to default to, I'm able to retreat a bit, out of the range of the critters, and form a defensive line both west and south. At least for the moment.
7.7 energy income, 6:28 mission. I get one emitter down but there's about 10 or so more. Every little bit helps. Doing pretty well in the south but you can see the creeper piling up to the west/southwest. My next goal after this is regaining control of the 'starting landmass'.
A second Mortar helps relieve that pressure, and soon I start having to pack things in as close as I can. I leave the coast alone for the most part because I never know where I'll want to put in weapons there. Snipers are starting to go up to - hopefully - thin out the runner herd, or at the very least keep it from growing too fast.
Increased pressure in the east costs me that sniper temporarily, and I'm compelled to deploy a mortar to keep the creeper at bay long-term. Then its a slow crawl to the west, gradually increasing weaponry and energy supply. 18+ mins. here, with the creeper getting deeper and deeper, the 'wave' in all directions steeper.
I decided I couldn't afford to leave any space unused, and put up more reactors carefully and hesitantly along the coast. A third sniper is required to keep the runners mostly away, but it's enough to start pushing into the digitalis 'vein'.
Just over a half-hour in to this attempt, I've roughly equalized now for the first time. Each step further west is hard-won with brute force due to the Creeper Cliff(tm) that we are facing. Large sections of the map are over 30 deep, and I've got nothing better than mortars to deal with it.
If this is a training mission, particularly considering you can't use half the complement of equipment options in the game, I'm an Oompa-Loompa.
That first PZ turns into a true hero when I discover it just barely reaches to more emitters. Then this SuperMortar helps push things back further. A long fight still remains, but we're slowlly pushing back the tide.
Unable to see a good way to get to anything else vital, I simply push forward onto this strip of land, putting a bunch of weapons there to try and do a general pushback.
After an extended period of just killing a lot of creeper, slowly reducing the overall pressure, and not doing a whole lot else, I get enough space to take down one of the Nests. This is basically at the one-hour mark.
Continued slow progress further east gets us to a couple of power zones and takes out another nest, and then reaching this location for a SuperNullifier knocks out three more emitters. This allows me to finally pick up the pace more. Creeper depth is still the mid-20s at the far southwest corner, but that's 10+ less than it was at peak.
It's more than 15 minutes later until I reach the central plateau, after doing an end run around the east and partially surrounding that position.
A fair bit of wrap-up is left after this, but suffice to say I disagree with CAIN?'s assessment. For my money this is definitely the most challenging battle in the system.