Sunday, June 22, 2008

Xeno Tactics Strategy Guide

Xeno Tactics started out as just a cool little flash game. Over the past month, since I last told you about it, I’ve spent an unwholesome amount of time playing this game. Part of that is because it takes a while to play to the high levels but mostly it is because it is very good game. Also I feel I am close to winning this game. That keeps bringing me back.

Disclaimers:

First off all advice in this article is meant for Xeno Tactics’ Mission 6. The rules for Missions 1-5 are pretty much ‘Do whatever you want.’ Compared to Mission 6 they are a cake walk.

Second, I am still working on beating this game. I am not sure if it is possible right now. I’ve only made it to Lev 93. However I did manage to kill 5 or 6 guys on that level so if I made it there with more than 2 lives left I might have made it past. It is that chance that I may be able to get thru that keeps bringing me back.


It’s all about the Anti Air:

That’s right; it’s all about killing those air units. This is the limiting factor in the game. You can kill every ground unit as soon as they show their faces but those air units will soar right over all your defenses and blast you right out of the game. You have to plan your strategy around the stages where you have to stop the air units. There a few key stages that you can use to measure your progress. Lev 49: You must stop these 2 Boss Air Units. Not only to save the two lives they would steal but also for the 140 gold you get from each of them. This money helps a lot in building up the necessary anti air defense. If you fail to kill them it is a good idea to restart. This does happen sometimes if you have a lopsided air defense. The AI can choose to send them out along the side of the entrances on the side you are weak so they can slip past. Lev 51: Coming only 2 stages after 49 this is a surprise the first time thru as you’ve probably been expecting an air wave every at every 7th level. This is the restarting point for that pattern. If you managed to kill the 2 boss guys on 49 you should have enough air power to stop this wave, but if your towers are off line for upgrading then you might have a little trouble. Lev 86: This is the next challenging air wave. Hopefully you’ve killed every air unit up to this point. These guys are tough and I’ve yet to make it thru unscathed. I died here a lot until I finally committed wholly to the air defense school of thought. And then there is Lev 93. As I said, this is as far as I’ve gotten. If you make it past these 104,000 hit point guys you are a better man than I. The hopeful part is that if you make it past here you probably won’t have to face any more fliers until the final level.

Let your missiles do your killing

Sam Turrets (which only work on ground units. Go fig.) are your friends. They might not have the fancy fire rate of the plasma turrets but when the bad guys are stacked deep and clustered tight there is no competing with a Sam Turret’s kill power. DCA towers are going to be your most valuable units. As I said above it is all about killing the air units and when they have over 100000 hit points they take a lot of killing. Getting enough Anti Air is the main challenge of the game.

Sample Map ConceptBuilding a perfect maze

You have to find a way to keep the groundlings busy. I still am working on different mazes trying to find the perfect one. Important features include:

It has to be long enough to take contain the waves of guys without spilling over.

It has to be careful of diagonals. Remember that splitters that die on diagonals will force their offspring out thru the cracks. Use straight lines and right angles whenever possible.

Keep the central area free for anti air emplacements. This is the area of overlap and most of your killing will be done here.

Make sure you have a way to regroup the aliens you are marching thru the maze. The more you can group them together the more damage your Sam Turret will do to them and the easier they are to contain.

Make sure you can easily reverse the field to get them marching the other way should they be approaching one end of your maze.

Remember that this maze is going to have to hold some incredibly tough aliens. Those splitter guys on Lev 48 often don’t die until somewhere in the 60’s.

Penny pinching

Don’t over spend on anti ground units. Aside from the Vulcan Turrets used as walls the only anti ground units you should be buying are Sam Turrets. The Plasma Cannons just aren’t worth it in the later levels and you’ll need that money for DCA Towers. Don’t buy too many. You just need enough Sam Turrets to keep the income rolling in. Last time I made it to Lev 93 I had only the one Sam Missile Tower for the first 50 levels or so. Also make sure your maze is long enough that you are not constantly reversing the field. Every time you open one end and block the other you are losing 3 gold. Yes it is worth it to keep the groundlings contained but try to make a maze that is efficient about it.

The Great Tower Debate

I am currently trying to figure out which is better the DCA5 or the THW Tower. DCAs 1-5 each double the damage dealt at each stage. The final upgrade to the THW Tower only increases it by 50%. It takes 330 gold to make a DCA5 and then another 310 for the final upgrade. Mathematically it looks to be a better deal to build a second DCA5. However, in practice the THW Towers definitely seem to be killing more units, especially at the higher levels. You can see from the image above that I went almost exclusively with the THWs and made it all the way to Lev 93 and when I tried the lesser towers I have trouble getting that far. So maybe there are some things beyond the onscreen stats that justify the final upgrade.

Speeding things up

When there are dozens of units on screen my system, which admittedly is a little old, has a rough time with it. I find that if I minimize the window it will run at closer to real time. This can be a huge time saver when you are just walking guys from one end of your maze to the other. Just be careful that you don’t get distracted with something else. Just a few seconds off and you could lose your game.

Another Glitch

In addition to the ‘NAN’ bug and the splitters squeaking thru on the diagonals mentioned in the last article there are a couple of more things to watch out for. First off the DCA/THW towers claim to have splash damage. I’ve never seen any significant splash damage on air units. I’ve seen great splash damage done by Sam Turrets against ground units so I know the code is in there. It just doesn’t seem to apply to the air defense.

Wish List

As good as a game as it is there are a few things I would like to see added to make it a better game. The first is a way to save a game. The game takes so long to play and the first 40 levels are so tedious it sure would be nice to be able to save off. Not only would you not have to pause the game overnight but you could also restore to the save point if you made a mistake or wanted to try something different.

I would also like to see Sonic Turrets effect air units or be a heck of a lot cheaper. Since the entire game is about stopping the air units it seems pointless to have these in the game.

I would like to see a one square unit. (if you break the arena down into a grid each unit takes up 4 squares.) Expensive or cheap, air or ground, just having something that would expand maze possibilities would be great.

And the thing I want more than anything else is a little more control over my units. I want to be able to tell them to shoot certain target over others. Nothing is as painful to watch as a Sam Tower firing at a boss creature all by him self when also in range is a pack of 20 or so guys all grouped together and you just know that the Tower is going to be firing at that boss guy until it leaves the Towers range ignoring all the better targets. Even just a way to mark a unit as ‘fire at air units only’ would be great but what I really want is a way to say ‘You shoot here.’

I hope you can take what I’ve learned and use it in your games. Let me know if any of you have other ideas and/or how these work for you.

V1.2/1.3 update:

The walls are a huge plus. They save money especially when turning the mass of ground creatures. I made it to level 100 in v1.2. Of course my four remaining health were no match for the 190000hp fliers at that level.


Lev 100


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