In the last episode of Jarenth Plays Beyond Earth, the aliens did it. You crazy bastards, you actually did it. No longer content simply with causing poison clouds, or with picking off my trespassing Explorers, or destroying my roads and improvements with their destructive worm bodies, or even preying on unguarded Trade Convoys, a pack of Wolf Beetles has actually directly attacked my one squad of Rangers. And… well, that’s it, then. Animals in your back yard that roughhouse and damage your property is one thing, but if one of them bites you in the arm? You have no choice but to put them down.
How does one fight aliens?
First things first: those Rangers are bailing. Wolf Beetles on the left of me, Siege Worm on the right? Yeah, you guys should go back to Le Coeur to catch your breath.
And speaking of: first up on the military side on my side is the city of Le Coeur. In Beyond Earth, all completed cities are in possession of a medium-range rocket-based defense system. It can fire once per turn, over two hexes, and while later buildings can improve the City Combat Strength that governs its effectiveness, it’s currently more than powerful enough to destroy a pack of Wolf Beetles in a single shot.
Yeah, Le Coeur is basically safe from most alien attacks. I’m not too happy about that Siege Worm, though: after the initial Wolf Beetle attack, it moved closer to Le Coeur than it’s ever been, churning up a farm in the process. If it decides to attack the city…
I can’t attack the Siege Worm with my Marines, because they’ll die. And my Rangers can take potshots, but they can’t do so right now. But… wait a minute! I have Tacjets! Ha, yeah, that should work: nothing to counter a ground-based murder-worm than air power!
Select the Tacjet squadron, mouse over the Siege Worm… huh. That’s odd. The combat prediction seems to indicate that… my airplanes die in that matchup?
Oh, come on. That has to be a mistake of some kind. It doesn’t make any sense for airplanes to lose to a ground-churner. How would it even… it just makes no sense!
Maybe I’m reading it wrong? Maybe… maybe what I’m seeing actually means the worm loses instantly? And for some reason, the bars are inverted? Glitch, maybe? Yeah. Yeah, that’s probably it.
I give the order. The Tacjets take off from Le Coeur, fly to the Siege Worm, and start strafing it. The Siege Worm responds by tearing itself from the ground, uprighting itself in a towering hulk of muscle, sinew, and churning spikes. It swings its three massive tentacles around in wide sweeping arcs, catching the utterly amazed Tacjet pilots entirely by surprise.
There are no survivors.
In a stupefied daze, I end my turn. I vaguely register that Samatar calls to complain about my Explorer digging up broken satellites near his territory. Sorry, Samatar. I won’t do it again, Samatar. Listen: can I call you back? I have a situation here.
Wow. How do I… wow. I don’t think I actually know how to deal with this?
I mean… alright, this isn’t all bad. I’d have figured that opening fire on the aliens would trigger all of them to start attacking me, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. The Wolf Beetle packs in Le Coeur’s hinterlands keep doing what they’ve been doing: running around in laps and obstructing my units’ movement. My Marines and Worker, currently blindly fleeing towards Prospérité in the face of what appears to be a Siege Worm on the hunt, are actually left alone by the numberless hordes. Which is… like a blessing, I guess?
The angry Siege Worm is still there, of course. And I can’t rely on the Wolf Beetles staying friendly forever. I’m tempted to stay confined to my cities and… I dunno, wait out the aliens, but I know I can’t. If I don’t kick my military production and activity into high gear, I’m going to end up living under these chitinous bootheels forever.
Prospérité! Build me a second Tacjet!
Le Coeur! You too! We need more airplanes to
smash into the Siege Worm use in clever, non-self-destructive ways!
Rangers and Marines! Move into position for a preliminary strike. Rangers, I know you guys aren’t fully healed yet. Just… be careful, okay? You have medium-range runs. Use them.
Virtues! Grant me the power of additional Science!
Samatar! What’s the status of our Open Borders?
Quest! Now that I’ve constructed an Alien Preserve building in Le Coeur, grant me the power to… finish you! Given the choice to either keep the aliens as pets or to put them to work as beasts of burden, I’m picking the one that a) gives me Supremacy points, and b) doesn’t rely on letting the destructive alien creatures I just declared war on in the homes of my families and children.
You may think that Virtues and diplomacy and questing all sound a little far removed from my stated goal of ‘kicking my military into high gear’. But the latter actually ends up working in my favour: the Supremacy points I get from the quest bring me to Supremacy level 2, allowing me to upgrade my rookie Rangers into equally-rookie-but-more-powerful Gunners.
As for the other two… yeah, okay, those didn’t matter to the war effort. Turns out that Beyond Earth doesn’t disable all its other systems whenever I get consumed by battle rage. My Workers near Prospérité and Aintza are still happily chugging away improving the landscape, for instance. Building-specific quests pop up here and there. Aintza builds not anything military-related, but a Health- and Science-boosting Cytonursery. And both my and the AI’s Trade Convoys are…
…hold on a sec. That’s a PAC Trade Convoy driving up to Le Coeur. Which… how did that thing get here? How did it survive getting here? How was it not destroyed by Siege Worms?
No, but seriously. How are those guys still alive? Siege Worms are hyper-destructive jerks! Here, I accidentally parked my unit of Gunners next to That One Siege Worm, and it just smacked them around without a second thought.
Damnit, PAC. What’s your secret?
Daoming remains silent on the Siege Worm issue, but my prayers are answered regardless when I discover that I do have a weapon that can hurt these monsters. Le Coeur’s defense batteries. As it turns out, rocket barrages capable of destroying a pack of Wolf Beetles in a single shot are also powerful enough to harm a Siege Worm.
Not much, mind. It’s still a poke more than anything else. But it’s a visible poke.
It’s not a great worm-killing weapon, of course. Like I said, these immobile rocket batteries only have a 2-hex range around Le Coeur. Strong though they are, I doubt they’ll be able to take down the worm: all it has to do is churn off somewhere to go heal in a Miasma cloud. Which I’m expecting it to do soon, actually.
Aaaany minute now…
I don’t really know how to explain this in any rational way. Despite having both the power to fight back against my cities and the opportunity to leave whenever, the Siege Worm elects to park itself under the ruined remnants of my one Farm, suffering repeated barrages of Le Coeur’s rocket fire, and die.
I almost feel bad for it, in the end. Do you suppose it understood what was happening, in the end? I don’t feel so bad, however, that I can’t be happy for the Science and Energy a quest manages to extract from its corpse.
I’d like to say that with that strike, my alien troubles are over again. That’s nonsense, obviously: not only are the Wolf Beetle packs still around, but the dying roars of the first Siege Worm have attracted the second one back into my territory. Still, I find myself emboldened by the success. Maybe I will be able to conquer this land, for real.
My army still isn’t large, but with my one Marine squad and my two new Tacjet formations, I start making inroads into the alien problem. Tacjets are as non-immune to Wolf Beetle counterattacks as they are to Siege Worms, but the power balance is skewed much more in my favour, this time. And the Science I got from the worm quest brought the Tactical Robotics technology within arm’s reach: with its Supremacy point, I can upgrade my nonexistent tanks into nonexistent better tanks.
This bug-alpha-strike hasn’t done much for my standing among the human players, either. While I was out stomping aliens, Vadim Kozlov has finished the Ectogenesis Pod, another global wonder. Even Samatar has gotten in on the wonder-building game with the Stellar Codex, a map of Terra Atlantea’s new stars. I’m less upset with that, because Samatar’s a bro, but it does cement my place as a low-rank pack runner among the colony leaders.
I’m down one immediate worm threat, in other words, but my troubles at large are far from over. How am I going to catch up to my rightful first place?