Part 163: Airbase OneAirbase One
Here's where we are headed, the Cavemaniac system. And there's something in there to strike fear into the hearts of most CW3 players.
Terror, thy name is Bardel. For anyone who has forgotten or wasn't around for it, the original Bardel is one of the early levels from the Alpha Sector. I think it was also the hardest one I've faced so far.
Bardel is a really elegantly designed level from hell.
This was said at the time, about six months ago, and is accurate. Winning time was four hours virtually on the dot, and I'm not at all confident that I'd be able to do more than get it down to less than three if I played it again.
I'm not playing it again. Sort of. Because we apparently have two 'homages' to the level in this system. One, at least from the preview, appears to be a virtual copy. I shudder thinking about what might have been changed ... or not changed. As I write this, I need to tackle those planets next. Which has resulted in me literaly procrastinating playing more, because I want to be sure I'm in the proper frame of mind to be flayed alive by the game.
Anyway, that'll be for a later time.
This is the largest planet, Airbase One. Note the position of the small islands. It's important in a way I did not guess at when starting out, to my detriment.
The west side seemed safest to me, so I deployed and got to work on a couple nearby structures. Here I'm about to get Beams up as the spores are starting to come.
Whenever I see random payloads like this, I think 'Why 94? Did you really balance it so 95 is too high, and 93 is too low?' Given that the whole point of Spores is pretty much to kill them before their payload matters, I doubt it. Anyway, a pair of SuperBeams with a few regular ones sprinkled in did the job for air defense, and I gradually kicked the creeper off the south end here. The Terp was soon used to level out some of this terrain. Salvos kept arriving every minute to minute and a half.
AE Towers crowd most of the next target, but a small bit in the southwest of the middle section of this map allows access. The lack of any nearby emitters was a big attraction for me in making this move.
In traditional Thotimx fashion, I get a bunch of stuff blown up on the first try and succeed on the second one. I think it's hilarious that after this many levels I'm STILL doing that, and miscalculating it consistently.
Even with three Guppies it was tight for a while, but I gradually started getting a grip. Thankfully that Digitalis Bridge to the northeast is the only source of creeper here. Once I got comfortable and had taken over most of this, I remembered that I can build a Thor. Could have put it up sooner - but not that much sooner. The energy requirements are still considerable.
I briefly tried out the island connection to get to the north-central area. I think terraforming would be necessary, and even then I'm not certain but I think it works. I'll get to why later.
With a bit of assistance from a SuperMortar, I eventually set the Thor to work bombarding from a distance. This is as close as I could get it, so it couldn't clear much.
I was able to land a couple of guppies along the coast, but once the ship didn't have enough energy for non-stop use of the Sniper Gun this ... happened. I recommend bringing dedicated snipers, that's for sure, but also MOAR GUPPIES. Took me a while to sort this out, and I definitely lost more hardware in the process.
Once that was secured, I just needed to head east. SuperRelay connected to this intermediary island, Thor sent in to bombard, a couple SuperBerthas to help where it can't reach, and ....
It looks like you just squeeze in a guppy here, and I tried repeatedly. Turns out you can't. The entire thing is air-excluded. So ... how do we get there? There are no spare Command Nodes. We can pound the thing as much as we want, but ...
A bunch of stuff was edited out at this point. There's another small island towards the south but it's no better. I looked and looked and looked for another option, but could find none, so:
** I moved the Command Node to the middle section, building more reactors there and guppies to send energy back west.
** Added a bunch of Berthas to bombard.
** Sent in the only thing I could ...
This meant the existing everythings would run out of energy, but I didn't think there was a choice. This almost worked too, but the creeper recovered just before the nullifier could do its work. Twas the digitalis more than anything - couldn't keep it dead without bertha support. Retreat the command node and every other darned thing, reconstitute energy before getting smashed by spores, try again.
Tried again at a better spot a bit away, uphill from the emitter and not directly on digitalis. This worked well until I started losing energy and couldn't figure out why. Fought my way out of it, but eventually it dawned on me. Forge is on the west island. When the guppies feeding it ran out of energy, I started losing the upgrades from it.
Anyway, after this position was gradually built up, I was able to clear things out and finish the level. If that Northwest Island Passage can be made to work, it is probably better to work right to left instead of left to right as I did. But guess what ... I finished the level this way. And I'm not playing it again to find out .