A flawless victory! Fatality!
I've been mildly irritated that my recent wins always had "artistic flaws" where a bunch of enemies would breach home base way the end. This time I found one of the "perfect" formulas that left no room in doubt, so I am ready to do a big writeup.
1. Overview notes
Autobot Stronghold is a tower defense type game with waves of enemy armies. I have remarked that for a tie-in to a commercial ad, it really is well put together and balanced. Now that I figured out a crucial aspect, I no longer believe I even have seen any bugs!
Without looking at spoilers like this or others on the net, it's a game that you have to play at least "seven times" to win, because it pulls some tricks you just don't see coming on your initial pass through. There are more tactical details involved, but here are the crucial points I now understand.
2. Crucial strategies
a. Levels 1-25
For months I thought you didn't earn the right to deploy Optimus Prime until level 25. That's because at a "certain pace" ... it just tends to be there when you get the right pre-reqs. But the correct answer is 100,000 points plus 50 sparks. So on the early levels when you are tempted to just "play relaxing" and you end up with whole minutes waiting for the army to die, while you make coffee and stuff, is a mistake! In fact, you can actually "send next wave" whenever you like -- and you get bonus points doing so! So this means that you can get an extra 15,000 ish points over levels 5-22, and if you don't overspend and make sure you have enough sparks banked up, starting around level 23-24, you can get Optimus one crucial frame early *before* the "breakpoint level" 25.
b. Once you unlock the rights to deploy Optimus, unless you are "hardcore playing for score", there is no further reason to rush, so then it makes most strategy to stretch existing resources to the very max and not go for "squash crushes" of the armies - you will need a bank of sparks on hand for emergencies! Both deploying and upgrading Optimus are in batches of 50 sparks each, and once you have him unlocked, it no longer makes any sense to buy lower level units.
c. Soldiers, Rats, Copters, and Dreadnoughts
One reason it takes "7 plays to win" is you have to see the spread of armies over all 50 levels ... because there are lots of "close but no cigars" at the end! You do indeed get a lot of "slack" where letting through two dumb rats and a helicopter won't end your game ... the problem is that once you miscalculate and get overloaded, it all just caves in! So while in theory you can ignore the big slow moving dreadnoughts, by themselves they won't kill you - but what they do is siphon off your defense fire in distraction while 15 other things get through!
Chances are the Soldiers, while durable, aren't your main problem. The bigger problems are that the copters come straight at the middle of the board, and the rats run really fast around them. So you need a really solid spread to handle them in pairs, and a good chunk of strategy to avoid getting "magpied" by the dreadnoughts that basically refuse to die.
3. Top row!
The game DOES "play fair" by sending a couple "sacrrficial scouts" at the top to let you know that's a legal entry point, because chances are the first time you play you have no idea that's even legal! So even at worst if those two get by, the point is, it's warning you that you better put up some *powerhouse* defense up there because your 20 guys down on the bottom don't help with 23 guys storming in at the top in the high 40's levels!
.. And that REALLY is a problem! So while having one good upgraded Optimus over on the side does help, you really need to load up on the top left because a quad of Optimus protects the entire top left of the board.
A big "close but no cigar" problem to avoid is that enemies with 1 hp left still damage your base! So it's bad news to "almost kill them" and let them all get too close. So at different levels you can put a few "closers" like at the top right and down right by home base just to "seal the deal" with the random few guys that slip through from "micro timing" through your main strategic defense.
Here is my diagram. The diagram box on the bottom right is resources that *are not there in the final scenes*, but indicate how they were there for "earlier needs" in levels 2-30 before getting sold off at the end to get more Optimus bots.
5. "Trap buys"
Not all bots are created equally useful. In approx order my eval of value is:
1-3 gold Ratchets, 1-3 gold Bumblebees, and a whole lot of sky-aiming (copters!!) silver Ironhides. I never had a use for the Jazz bot. It just seems like too little of anything to be useful except as an esoteric "hard way" experiment.
Start to really hang on tight because a good couple send-next waves tips you over the 100,000 point mark to get Optimus, and make sure you have the sparks on hand. So it's okay to play it really tight where you even allow 2 guys through because a couple of these levels have that incredible balancing where something like 2 rats and/or 2 copters get through just from micro placement. You don't need to waste 40 sparks desperately trying to stop them - because then you just tricked yourself out of an Optimus!
Optimus! *Upgrade him!* What I completely missed until I had to look online was that while the other guys in early levels "just get kinda strong", Optimus can shoot *multi rays*! So notice there are only so many really correct strategic placements because single deploys elsewhere just end up failing at the last second. Instead, upgrade the strategic ones to level 2-3.
Good luck! Tower Defense games collection updated 27-9-08
Here's one with a few less purchase-then-sales on the side traded for a more aesthetic bot on the bottom to add that extra solidity to the lower half of the board. Tower Defense games collection updated 27-9-08