Part 63: Day 20: All ThingsBrowsers, Prepare Yourselves.
Day 20: All Things
We're back to Obliteration to end the Story section, and it seems fitting; you want no half-measures with a Nexus involved.
Those who play with the devil's tools ...
Gotta say I don't think is the most prudent course of action. Experience counts for something when the survival of the species depends on the outcome of a battle.
NHA seriously needs to upgrade the encryption protocols on their communications gear.
20k energy is a lot to bring along in crystal form. A big lot. We've also got a few gateways here in the initial view, surface creeper as mentioned, and all those excavation tunnels they have marked mean the bowels of the deep will be opened.
** Doom Timer: 6:52
Destruction comes swiftly as soon as the excavation packets break through, to any who are not sufficiently prepared. It'll take about six and a half minutes for that to happen.
Aliana said do conversion bombs right away. Ok, I'll try that. A couple launchers too, to start working on the deeper stuff here. The bomb on the left here goes first, and starts losing health as soon as it makes contact with the creeper.
The control panel for these is simplicity itself. D for Detonate. They also detonate automatically if they run out of health.
The light show here infects the Creeper for two squares in all directions. This lasts a few seconds.
And then, voila!
I soon realized that killing the surface Creeper with the launchers wasn't actually a good idea. Much better to just convert all/most of it to use later. While I was doing that, a powerful surge/explosion from deep underground occurred(7:56 video). The audio accompanying it isn't subtle.
A Nexus does nothing halfway, apparently.
Once the conversion bombs had cleared away all surface threats, I went with a traditional get-the-reactors-going approach. A reliable source of energy is almost always a big priority - but with the threats here and all the storage we have, actually not the best idea in this case. Also, the part where the cursor is right now? Have a look at this:
Yep, that's nearly a billion creeper. In one square. With the gateways popping out drones pretty regularly too, of varying types.
I most eloquently remarked 'That is INSANE!' when realizing this. I knew the briefing advice about striking first against these concentrations with conversion bombs was quite necessary, and prepared to do so. Unfortunately I breached before having the bombs ready.
"I don't think I'm ready. I think this is a terrible disaster", about here:
Yep. But hey, now I have an idea of what at least the first challenge is; being able to handle those masses of creeper before the excavation packets bring them to us.
Take 2: 15:40 video, 0:58 mission timer.
This, more or less, is the starting approach I would adopt from here on. Build a bunch of bomb(12-20) right away, using several(5-6) to clear away surface anti-creeper. There's a very much an 'insurgent war' feel to how this level starts out; the more of the enemy's force you can take away from them and use for yourself, the better off you'll be. This time it took about till 2:20 to get all bombs in place and detonated: I would get better at it but the basic idea would remain intact.
I wasn't really sure what to do next. Started to place a reactor and then thought better of it, taking a look at the drones here. In the view here, that drone on the left is a 120-HP SuperDrone, while the ones on the right are mid-level 16-HP models. There are two other sources, one of which has 4-HP drones that are quite fast. But in looking at these, closest to surface, I concluded that 'we need some serious blaster power'.
So this time I've got a bunch of bombs and blasters built, I dig down and open up an entrance to the creeper, detonate a couple bombs, just to try things out. And the general idea is good. Exact execution, not so much.
Drones pouring out of the ground overran much of our defenses, and the creeper ate through our comparatively minimal anti-creeper reserves pretty quickly as well. Once this happens everything's a losing battle because the bombs you detonate above-ground are converting creeper that has spread out and is therefore much less densely concentrated. Getting it underground in a confined are means each bomb converts more of it(and further away from the Liberation Ship).
Just over a minute after this, one of the SuperDrones incinerated the Liberation Ship, and this attempt was officially over.
Take 3: 20:51 video, 4:26 mission timer.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Blaster Arch. Basic idea here is a concentrated zone of fire(I've totally given up on building anything other than a surface beacon to extend operational area at first now, it's all weapons) to take out the blasters as they emerge and keep them from wrecking everything. A few bombs in place for initial use, and more on the left to be moved in as needed. They unfortunately are rather slow. This is an improvement, but many will undoubtedly notice one obviously missing item.
No shields. I confess I did not even consider using them when I played this. In retrospect, this idea is a LOT more powerful if there are, say, three rows of shields in place to contain the creeper. Blasters packed outside like in this case to handle drones, bombs to move in to convert the creeper below. That is probably the Right Way(tm).
I wasn't aggressive enough about getting enough bombs down in there, so once again the creeper erupted. And took out my beacon, deactivating half the remaining blasters. It was still better than the last try but not nearly good enough.
Take 4: 23:09 video, 3:30 mission timer.
I should mention here that there are about 2-3 attempts not included. They didn't really add anything so I just cut them out entirely. In other words, it took me even longer to figure this out than it appears here.
So this time, I just made an improved Blaster Arch. Reserve bombs closer-by and more in place near the opening. MOAR BLASTERS, naturally. I opened it up before the bombs were ready though, and once again understimated the speed with which it would come up. Really this time I should have known better by this point.
Take 5: 24:13 video, 2:41 mission timer
This time I decided to just not build any blasters at first, just get a bunch of bombs ready and convert a bunch of the creeper before the gateway caverns were even connected up.
This is the first time I really succeeding in 'clogging the pipe', so to speak. The creeper is still winning the battle here after one underground and one surface cleanup bomb detonation, but it's doing so slowly. Slowly enough to get more bombs down the hole and turn things more in our favor.
Two bombs later. Now that's progress. There are two exit points to the surface and this is just one of them. Drones will be coming eventually. But another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. I started opening up the left-side and was doing passably over there ... but then the drones came up and I wasn't ready for them. So work yet to be done.
Take 6: 26:06 video, 1:55 mission timer
The goal here was to get a decent push down both pipes, and somehow maintain that while building blasters to defend against the drones in time. With the speed issue the bombs have, it's one of those things where by the time you have a real problem, it's basically too late to fix it. So I needed to be proactive on both sides.
Two and a half minutes later. It hasn't gone perfectly but this is really good. By far our deepest penetration underground there on the right/middle, and some breathing room on the left. Initial surge of blasters has been dealt with also. I think it's fair to say this is the first time I started off well enough to have a chance.
A new group of drones was eventually connected up to the network, dealing a big blow to my blaster defenses; they were fairly weak, but very fast. Then, as seen here, the left side was connected up to the network, and occasionally drones came out there. This SuperDrone did so, and made a beeline for the ship. Better luck next time, humans.
Take 7: 31:54 video, 5:54 mission timer.
I could stand to have more bombs built here, but I still have well over 15k of the original 20k energy and both exit points with quite substantial blaster guards. The next set of drones(lower-right) are about to be released again.
We survived that wave, and I would run out of bombs a couple times. Built some reactors on the surface, but not enough to satisfy our needs. However this is a moment worth celebrating; eventually, after a few salvos of several bombs at a time being sent down to get more control of deeper areas, I managed to nullify a Gateway. Most of the energy is now gone though(3.5k left).
I would give up on this attempt shortly thereafter -- probably prematurely. I was making progress but not quickly enough, and energy was going to become a problem soon - at which time they'd gradually wear me down.
I took a detour from this path of improving attempts next to go for a couple shots at using the Dark Beam. And even so, didn't really understand what I was doing by this, the second attempt. Selected here is the Dark Beam itself. To it's right is the Dark Beam Mirror, which can turn various directions and redirects the beam downwards. And basically I'm just trying to test them out here for different options.
As somebody who never did this before, I got this wrong but it looks to me like there's conflicting information. There's that red highlight on the Dark Beam which does it mamke it look like something's amiss ... but also the blue line coming out from it making it look like the beam's working. Lower-right shows it has fully ammo supply.
I open up one of the underground areas, and that blue line/beam does jack squat. Which is because, if you look at the lower-left of the previous image, the bloody thing isn't even armed!!. But nothing else starts unarmed. You just have to disarm them if you don't want them on, which you generally don't. Now the briefings do say this whole thing is just basically to attack the Nexus core anyway, but this still is quite obtuse and unintuitive ... or at least it was to me. And by the way, the reason I think is that they have an insanely high(which actually makes sense I think) energy requirement. But given everything else that's covered in the briefing, I really think Aliana should have mentioned this in there somewhere. A single sentence is all that would have been required.
Anyway. Off rant/soapbox. All this test business is in the 50:30-52:00 range of the video, if you care to see it in motion. I end up concluding thusly ...
"So I think it's only use ... is against the Nexus." And return to the previous plan. Also, the mandatory relevant help files:
Take WhateverWhoReallyCaresAtThisPoint: 52:57 video, 1:30 mission timer.
Best start yet. A quarter of the energy is already gone but I have control of the two large starting veins, one on each side, and actually opened up this connection on the left to the drones to get things moving quickly. Lots of weapons of both types in position.
Here's an example of the approach that I generally found to work the best. Flood the zone with bombs, basically. Drones coming up will take out some of them, but it's just too slow to send one, see what happens, send another, etc. Multiple, at least three, at a time on each side in slightly different locations which can always be adjusted later, usually allows conversion of a significant area. Destinations of course indicated by the green squares down in the creeper-invested tunnels.
Still it was not without issues. At 1:04:30 a SuperDrone made it to the Liberation Ship, and it was sheer dumb luck that it targeted something else.
Again down to a few thousand energy left. I'm trying to get bombs into that central chamber where the emitter is as much as possible, and also get the first gateway nullified again.
This isn't nearly enough, but it is 5+ energy per second with this improvised reactor farm that I've dug out. Most of the initial stored-up creeper veins have been dealt with. That SuperEmitter(1M six times a second is no joke) is down there doing it's dastardly thing that it does, and we have only one gateway down and four to go, but this does allow the fight to continue in some form. Less than 10%(1822) energy left here.
I lost and had to replace reactors multiple times due to drones taking them out -- but even at that, honestly, reactors are cheaper than blasters, a lot cheaper than bombs, so frankly it's still a good tradeoff when the drones take damage from them. It really started being a battle of attrition, and I wasn't at all sure it would be a successful one.
The plan was to work my way towards the gateways on the extreme left and right first. Drying up the drone supply would make things more stable.
I built nothing else while this Nullifier was getting constructed to make sure it gone done ASAP, and at exactly 31 minutes on the mission timer a second Gateway went down. See the one below-left of it? I was wrong. There are six of them, not five. But still, two were handled now. A few minutes later, the left-edge one went down. Still regularly rebuilding things but it's still turning in my favor.
I gradually pushed deeper and took out another Gateway; now those two by the emitter were all that was left. I started building beacons and reactors deeper, building bombs in secure areas of the tunnel network itself, moving my reactor defenses underground ... the net was closing.
Here's how it looked when I started seriously going after the central SuperEmitter Chamber. 1 hour 33 mins. video, 41 and change mission timer. I had a couple of TechDomes on the surface and was teching up slowly but surely. At this point succeeding in this 'initial section' was purely a matter of time.
It was necessary to literally have regular bomb detonations next to or even on top of the emitter itself, because of how strong and frequent the pulses are. But eventually I figured that out ...
All that was left was cleanup here. Next?? Well I built in sporadic wherever-I-could-fit-them spots up to my normal 10 TechDomes, because I wanted to max out everything. If ever there was a time to do it, this is it.
Another vein of creeper awaits us. Another 1 billion per square. Let's just be glad they didn't excavate a path to this for whatever reason. But that's tens of billions more to deal with here. But by now I know to handle this situation. Lots of bombs, shoved down through it as quickly as possible to maximize conversion.
And now I need to prepare for the final battle. The Nexus is supported by four SuperEmitters, each of which pumps out a full billion creeper every two seconds. So 2 billion creeper per second. It also regularly pumps out these drones, which move fairly quickly and are 100-HP variety. Thankfully I have the choice of when to move in. Which I definitely didn't want to do until fully prepared, tech to the max with an obscene amount of prepared weaponry.
I took about 15 minutes to do that. In addition to what you see here, I upped TechDomes to 15 of them instead of 10, built about 40 above-ground blasters just in case something went wrong, built more 'reactor shelving' to cram as many of them in as I could basically, etc. The principle that anything worth doing is worth overdoing was definitely in play here. 2:01 video, over an hour on the mission timer.
Energy production was at 30, which was basically half of what I needed to keep everything running. There was a noticeable slowdown, but bottom line is I only lost a handful of blasters and the biggest anti-creeper waterfall descended upon the Nexus which shrugged it off like a harmless housefly.
Next step: Nullify the supporting emitters. Also building new shelves on the sides of the nexus chamber for more reactors. Look at the top emitter though; those things have to be nullified three times each to be destroyed.
Here I've pretty much got everything I need in place. All the SuperEmitters are down. I've use bombs to temporarily take out the creeper on top of the nexus ... but those dark beams are doing nothing because I haven't yet realized I need to arm them.
Eventually(78:49 mission timer, 2:21:21 video) the light dawned and I armed one of the dark beams. You can see the difference here in the thin blue line having a 'thicker highlight' coming out from one of them. Notice I've also basically surrounded the Nexus with blasters, but at a distance; the idea is for them to fire at any adventurous drones but not attack the creeper itself, wasting energy that way. Even with all the supporting emitters gone, the nexus itself still produces quite a bit.
The Nexus has various things to 'say' to me as I have finally started damaging it. Over the ensuing period it also claims that:
** "Others who have done the same have failed!"
** "Your strategy is flawed!"
** "Inferior creatures" as health dips to a mere 942 out of 1000. This, uh, might take a while.
** "My strength comes from the Loki!"
The more I'm able to flood the area surrounding the Nexus with conversion bombs, the more damage the dark beams do. The drones it produces get in the way and complicate things. So does the fact that I don't have enough energy to support the dark beams: currently I have four of them up.
** "Your weapons are meaningless!". Your health readout determined that was a lie.
Soon pretty much all the energy is going to not even remotely supply the dark beams. So I deactivate three, wanting one to fire as much as possible. Still not enough to keep it going.
** "You will fail before I am defeated." A while later as I've got two active dark beams firing constantly, cerca 2:28 on the video. Still only a third down.
It seems each dark beam requires several energy to function on it's own; after upgrading reactor efficiency a few times I'm in the low 40s. Of course I'm constantly building more bombs to clear away the surrounding creeper, and every 2-3 seconds a new 100-HP drone emerges from the Nexus, so the blasters are constantly needing to be resupplied as well.
** "Your weapons will not last long enough to defeat me." The hubris of the nearly-defeated.
Energy started running low again.
** "I must call upon the Loki for more strength". No, I don't need more random crap appearing out of some wormhole or something.
Shortly after a drone takes out a mirror, the unimpeded beam incinerates five buildings instanteously(2 blasters, three reactors). That crap is dangerous. You, uh, don't want to get in the way. I go back down to one active Dark Beam, so that anytime the bombs clear a hole it can be damaging the core consistently.
Eventually I make a couple more improvements. Here I've taken down all of the techdomes, as they are no longer needed, replaced with a few more reactors. Also building bombs in multiple places because the drones are targeting them. This way I can approach from basically any direction, and while their drones will still do some damage I should have more persistent bombing runs to the core. 2:36:35 here, and the Nexus still has a third left.
** "No... you must stop! ...". It's a bit late in the game to beg for mercy.
** "Stop now while you still can ... "
These two statements cycle as we were it down, until(2:40 video).
It does not go gently into that good night, to put it mildly.
Took me so long that this is basically a shambles. Could probably do it in half the time now that I know how stuff works, but so be it. And with this, the Humanity Saver achievement for completing the Story.