Part 141: thE ARk THat burned, the downpour, & islandhopperthE ARk THat burned, the downpour, & islandhopper
These three finish up the TrickyDragon system.
I didn't realize that the name of this one, considering only the capital letters, spells out EARTH at the time. I don't really understand why though, since it looks nothing like Earth, but whatever. And that's not the only thing I don't understand. There are three shield keys on the west side. Why?? There are no shielded planets around. What purpose do they serve?? Answer - not a blasted one. There are also resource packets for siphons - all except one of them in the west, which is where the creeper structures are concentrated and therefore most of them you can't get until they aren't of use anymore.
Those are relatively minor points though. This is an interesting level that is fairly well-designed IMO. But I still wonder at this stuff. Limitations:
** No Bombers or Terps
** 1 Command Node
** 22 Reactors ... that's a strange number to land on.
** 1 Sniper. We have Runner Nests and only a lone sniper. Fun.
Early combat against the Digitalis is going to happen no matter where we begin. The southeast, with a 150-energy Siphon resource seems best.
I'm a little late getting up cannons to defend against the vile webbing, but I do eventually manage it - only to have Runners start a stunning festival.
Soon afterwards, the digitalis ribbon has cut a swath deep into my territory, and I am well and truly screwed.
Take 2 - 5:14
Second try I went for a little bigger energy network at the start, got a Sniper up more quickly and a Sprayer soon afterwards, and put that Mortar in place to keep the creeper pool to the south under control. We still had some runner issues and still do, but they aren't as severe as before and seemed to be holding better this time.
Soon that nearby emitter was nullified, but I also lost my position at the top of the screen here to encroaching creeper. I wasn't out of the woods just yet. More Reactors and weapons was the short-term answer, and then I got a Forge up to start working more long-term.
With just the lone sniper, I made this nearby Nest a priority. That would drop runner production appreciably.
Got a SuperBertha up in the south, and this SuperCannon here in the middle got us more ore income. There are enough runners about though that making further progress at this point became decidedly non-trivial. I would switch this cannon to the rare green anti-critter variant, and a nearby 100-Aether resource was nice also.
This ridge rings the main enemy stronghold, and the artillery lowered overall creeper levels enough for me to claim it.
Range boosts for the Runner Cannons were particularly important on this map, but eventually I closed in and here am about to take down the final nest. Not a particularly long map, but a good, moderate challenge.
the downpour is very reminiscent of a CW1 map, though slightly different. I forgot exactly which one - having looked it up, it was Pyxis, second-to-last in the initial campaign. That one's a little different, but it has the same basic schtick - emitters at the north on high ground, while you try to fight from the lower terrain in the south as all of it wants to rush towards you.
Going for this energy siphon early didn't work, as it got rushed by the creeper too quickly. Meanwhile I largely set up behind the barricade, building collectors along the bottom level.
Here I gave up, perhaps a bit prematurely, just under a minute into the level. It's pretty clear though that my cannons-in-progress on the wings are going to get swamped before they ever have a chance to build.
Take 2 - 34:03
This is interesting I think because I've never seen it before. I'm not sure quite what the purpose is other than 'because the author can', but there's an 18-second delay on one of the Command Nodes. I didn't know that was a thing. So I can build the two right away, but not a third until later.
I tried getting a Shield up to grab that siphon spot again, but to no avail. I think it's just fool's gold - I don't see any way to get there and protect it fast enough. Down below, my wing collectors are going down but I've got the third Node in place and a couple reactors going up. That Cannon is to protect against the small hole in the retaining wall. Mortars behind the wall with a blanket of AC as much as I could to protect the creeper from swinging around it was my best idea in terms of surviving longer.
After a bit I realized that two Sprayers, one on each wing, would be best to divide up the limited ore I have most effectively. Four mortars does well at keeping the deep stuff away. All collectors left and right of this shot are long since gone, but I have a defense of my limited area here that can handle quite a bit and the Forge is up. Energy is at almost eight income, and I pretty much have expenses roughly equal to that. I can't do anything aggressive, but the equilibrium point is pretty much achieved.
A while later, at 12 minutes into the mission. I've added a Bertha to lower overall levels, a Terp to smooth out the bottom tier, fill in those pits that were around every so often, and generally create more room for reactors. I have one range upgrade in, a couple each in ore/energy efficiency, energy storage, packet speed, and build speed. It's time to start expanding and fighting back.
Leaving a mortar and a cannon each on the sides to protect the bottom proved more than sufficient, and here I'm about halfway up the hill. The easy half - this did not take all that long to accomplish.
Getting close enough to start eliminating Emitters was another matter. I needed shields, plenty of weapons, and multiple berthas concentrating to get this Nullifier close enough. Once the first three were down of course, the rest followed more easily. A quality mission I thought.
islandhopper finishes off the system. We're clearly going left-to-right here, with the Command Node placement pre-determined for us. More fun with Digitalis and Runners is clearly upon us.
I knew I wanted a lot of Digitalis Cannons here, but I overbuilt my energy supply initially. 1:56 on the mission timer, 5.8 income, deficit of 7. It is necessary to be fairly aggressive at the start unless you want to limit yourself to a very narrow ribbon of territory in the extreme west; otherwhise runners are going to stun your energy/weapons and then the creeper comes in. Some of that happened anyway.
The standard cannons are in place to protect against creeper coming in through the two 'canyon passes' or whatever. Otherwhise, lots of reactors, digitalis cannons, and snipers, with whatever upgrades I can manage. This is the 'I can defend but can't go anywhere' point.
A couple of Berthas then went up to thin out creeper levels on the eastern island. I also wanted to cut off some of the digitalis, but I would have needed more of them than I was willing to invest in to do so, so that part of the plan never really materialized.
Having weapons in reserve - one of the thread ideas that has really served me well - is important on this map. Here the digitalis gets a little bit out of control in the north, and that's really easy to have happen on this map. But I've got spare cannons to move in and plug the hole. I would have worse breakthroughs later, solved in much the same way.
Gradually, a wall of digitalis cannons with sniper support got me to the Void Ravine. Crossing it was another matter. I would spend a stupid amount of time doing it wrong, and it took me over 20 minutes to get this far.
The problems are basically 1) limited space and 2) concentrated runners. I think I should have just crazygonuts on berthas to just pound everything that moves in the area. You need snipers to keep everything from constantly getting stunned, and cannons to carve enough of the digitalis out to make more space, and there just isn't enough real estate to do that with a major commitment.
Here's a good shot of what I ran into. Almost everything I have on the top tier there is stunned. I end up just constantly building more stuff and throwing it into the grinder pretty much.
Eventually I got enough Sniper fire in place to whittle down the runner numbers, and cannons to keep the digitalis under control. This is 8+ minutes after the first crossing, but it's another one of those situations where it felt like a lot longer.
This spot on the north wing annoyed me. The PZ is so close to the edge that it's actually partway off the map, and therefore can't be used. In any case, I was able to slowly and steadily press in on the central Creeper stronghold here, and once it went down matters were quickly concluded.
Another case study is one of the fundamental, inexorable laws of CW3: Digitalis Sucks.