Part 174: XeniveralXeniveral
This is really the last above-average sized planet in the entire system. Mostly covered up by the right of the control planel at the bottom is an Inhibitor. The big question though, which will become more apparent later, is where do you start? Tendrils of Digitalis are almost everywhere.
Uhh ... that doesn't sound encouraging. And early on, it was up to that description in terms of frustrating me.
First idea; start on high ground, and this nullifier will knock out two spore towers right away, and then ... well it became obvious real quick what then. There isn't time for this, the digitalis spreads too quickly. So what then is I die anyway.
I then took a look at the bigger picture. This shows the issues a lot better; it's a birds-eye view at exactly one minute in. At this point I identified two areas where it takes the creeper the longest to get; just west of center, and the southeast. I dismissed the southeast because creeper's already coming up on the plateau, and digitialis is covering a lot of it so soon after this screenshot that'll be flooded. Deciding that the center-west option was the best ... or rather, the least bad ... I embarked there next after one more pointless try similar to the first.
Take 3 - 4:15 video
Here, at 45 seconds in, I remarked 'I have NO idea if this is right'. Hint: It's not. But I'm trying to grab a PZ from the spore tower, put Pulse Cannons up at the most likely approach, and the advantadge of this location is it is the last one that creeper will naturally flood on the map and it's actually clear of, though surrounded by, digitalis itself.
It took less than three minutes for my position to clearly and obviously collapse. Creeper coming from all sides, Runners stunning stuff, and basically here I just wanted to check and see if the critters had any surprises. They don't - splurting creeper or AC is not a thing, you just need to kill them.
Take 5 - 11:25
I tried a few more times, and there were more attempts than this I think that I just plain removed in their entirety, but convinced myself I couldn't do it from this location. Too much digitalis too close, no way to keep the runners from stunning everything or fight off all the approach vectors. So this bit here has me just watching the starting spread of things and pontificating upon what to do next.
Short version, I decided to try the southeast.
Take 6 - 12:15
30 seconds in. We're almost at the east edge of the map here, which closes of one area of attack. The south is real scary, and that's a big digitalis vein in the west, but the north is even better protected than I noticed when playing it - there's a nice ridge that way that slows down advance from that side. The main reason I chose this was just the classic Ore advantadge - defense without spending energy once it is up and running.
I would soon figure out that going for the nullifier first is too slow getting the AC going. I couldn't even get it to fire before it was destroyed.
Take 8 - 14:10
After the first few collectors, I took to getting the Sprayer and Ore Mines operational first. Doing it that way, it comes online just before I'm getting swarmed under by creeper from the south. You can just see the digitalis approaching from the west. That still totally ruined by day on this attempt.
Take 9 - 15:34
Next thing I tried was throwing down all three Command Nodes, even though I knew two of them weren't going to survive. They could still contribute energy until they were kicked off the surface.
I was closer, but not there yet. By putting a nullifier in the right spot, knocking out the nearby Nest and spore tower, I get these two power zones. Getting secure weapons on each of those seemed vital, and I needed to fight off the creeper from the south and digitalis from the west. You can see how bare the north still is though. I was convinced by now this was a better starting location, and probably even possible.
Take 10 - 17:12
Ore first, then nullify, a pair of Reactors, and a couple weapons (one cannon, one mortar).
I've already lost some stuff here, including two of the three ore mines temporarily, and this was not a perfect start. It was good enough though. I'm defending in both key directions with SuperCannons, one of each type, we've got issues getting stunned, etc. but at 2:17 mission time here I am successfully keeping the enemy off the plateau.
I started going more energy + Forge, but then remembered that there are a bunch of spore towers. I calculated that a handful of Beams should be enough, focused mostly towards the west.
I had a slight energy shortage, but the defenses were easily holding. In fact, the AC had established a small safe zone for us. My next move was to vacate that southeast PZ and put up a SuperReactor there to jumpstart the supply situation. That gave enough to finish the forge and start upgrades. I was feeling pretty good about things now.
Still, creeper pressure was increasing, so I needed more weapons along with Snipers to combat the runners that were annoying, though thankfully not more than that due to limited places they could approach us from.
Nice thing about this location is that the Inhibitor is very close. Safely getting there will take a bit of doing, but I can ignore most of the planet.
Once I was reasonably confident we were killing about as much creeper as was being created, I started a slow push in that direction with some digitalis cannons and a terp.
Didn't need to clear that much of a wedge to get close enough, at which point I used the old Nullifier Platform technique, and blew everything on the map to pieces.
Really good example of the 'hard start' kind of level IMO, a challenge to get going and then once you do there's no slog to get the job finished.