Beating Vector TD – easy and normal

I’ve been playing Vector TD on and off for ages.  Up until this morning, it’s always been a pretty significant challenge.  Although I’ve been able to beat the easy maps it’s never consistent, and even the normal maps have been tough for me, often ending with me losing around wave 44+.

I’m sure many people reading this are thinking ‘you dick, it’s easy’, but at least two folk on Twitter commented they don’t find it that easy and one person asked me to describe my new found strategy, that this morning allowed me to beat both easy levels and two normal levels without losing a single life, and the third normal level losing only one life.  So, this post is for them.

There’s not much to the strategy, and this isn’t a step-by-step guide (although the first few steps are common), it’s a number of basic rules that I followed this morning.

Basic rules

  1. Unless you have absolutely no choice, do not upgrade any towers, or buy any towers in between waves.  Always upgrade/buy towers after starting the wave, this gives you the best interest earned on your cash.
  2. Always take increased interest from the bonus waves.  By wave 44 you should be getting 27% interest on your cash.  You can use the wave 45 bonus to buy a damage or range increaser if that suits, because by then, cash won’t be an issue.
  3. Place as few towers as necessary, don’t place them pre-emptively if you can at all help it.
  4. The aim is to maximise cash, so that after each wave, you end up with either more cash than you started the wave with, or at least nearly the same amount.  This means you get constant ‘free’ upgrades and towers.
  5. You can beat all 5 levels with four tower types.  One maxed Green Laser 1, one maxed Red Refractor, one maxed Blue Rays 1, a whole bunch of level 1 Blue Rays 1 and as many high level Red Rockets as you can afford.
  6. Only the Fast Yellow creeps should be an issue at any stage.

Specific approach

  1. Your first tower should be a Red Refractor.  This uses $200 of your starting $275.  On it’s own, and placed correctly, this single tower can defeat the first 3 waves without any upgrades.
  2. You should place the tower in a position on each map so that it gets two goes at all the creeps on each wave.  I pick specific spots, and you might prefer other ones, but the key is to ensure the creeps have to move quite a way to get back in range, to give the tower time to focus on both lines of creeps.  You can see below where I place my starting 3 towers on each map.
  3. Do nothing for the first three waves.  Let that one tower defeat them all, don’t upgrade, don’t spend any money.  If that single tower doesn’t work, you need to find another spot on the map.
  4. The fourth wave is a green wave.  The red tower will struggle, but at this point, you’ve got quite a bit of cash saved up.  I place a green tower (boring names, compared to red), next to the red tower, and maybe boost it to level 2.  This should easily defeat wave 4.
  5. I then place a blue tower right next to the red and green ones we’ve got so far for waves 5 onward.
  6. Over the next few waves, during the waves only, upgrade those towers only if your creeps almost get past them on the second pass.  By that I mean, your towers should destroy more than half the creeps as they go by the first time, as they round the corner and come back, your three towers should easily wipe them out.  If it was close, or you don’t clear half as they go by first time, upgrade the towers a little bit.  Preserving cash should be your main focus.
  7. I tend to get the green tower to level 10 quickly because it’s cheap, and because the Red Refractor struggles on the green waves.
  8. You should easily and quickly get to $3000 or $4000 in the bank, with just those three towers by the time they are all level 10.  You might need an emergency tower for the swift yellow creeps further along, don’t invest too heavily and don’t worry about placing lots of cheap towers anywhere at this stage.
  9. The entire rest of the game is now about adding Red Rockets and Blue Rays, without spending too much money.  I usually buy the first Red Rocket when I have around $6k in the bank.
  10. Each Red Rocket should be configured to target weak creeps first and to have target locking disabled.  This ensures you get rid of as many creeps in each wave as possible.  If you end up with one strong creep surviving, so be it, but it’s frustrating to watch them spend ages trying to kill one strong creep while 15 weak ones get through.
  11. Each Red Rocket should be placed to give good coverage, don’t put them all in one place, but do try and ensure they all overlap as well.  Don’t put them anywhere that will mean more than 40% of their coverage is walls.
  12. You should place Blue Rays all around the entire track, one every 3 or 4 squares.  You don’t need to increase them beyond level 1 at all.  When you have $15000 in the bank at the end of every wave, and you’re earning 20% interest, you can add 10 level 1 Blue Rays without decreasing your bank balance, so you can quickly swamp the map and turn the whole thing into treacle.
  13. Spend each wave slowly adding Red Rockets, levelling them all together up to around level 6 or 7 and adding Blue Rays.  Do this while keeping your bank balance always over $10k if possible.
  14. Once you defeat wave 45, you can blow the rest of the cash on increasing the Red Rockets to level 10 and sit back and wait for victory.
  15. I usually end up with between 7 and 8 Red Rocket towers, each between level 7 and 10 by the last few waves.


These are where I place my 3 tower startup for each map.  Only the second easy map doesn’t have any single good spot, and it can get a bit ‘exciting’ on the 3rd wave and the first yellow wave.

Good luck, I hope it helps.

I can’t yet beat any of the three hard maps, mainly because the choke points don’t work well enough and you need to have more than three towers on the go very quickly.

A Nightside Rant

I recently read and reviewed Just Another Judgement Day and The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny by Simon R Green.  The reviews will be up on BookThing soon.  I avoided any spoilers if at all possible in those reviews, but it should be obvious I was less than impressed.  In this post, I’ll rant about why, and there will be spoilers.  I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to moan about an author’s work, since they’ve put a lot of effort into it and I’ve basically done fuck all with my life.  That’s why I’ve tried to keep the reviews slightly more objective.  However, this is my blog, and I just need to vent about some stuff.

You have been warned – Nightside spoilers incoming!

Continue reading

Hashtag Rant

This is a hash -> #

This is a hashtag -> #hashtag

This is not a hashtag -> # <- it’s just a hash.

I’m sick of people on TV and/or radio saying, “Send us a tweet using @someone hashtag funnysaying”.  No.  It’s either, “Send us a tweet using @someone hash funnysaying” or “Send us a tweet to @someone with the hashtag funnysaying”.

Get it?

Hash -> #

Hashtag -> #plussomewords

Gears of War 3

Finished Gears of War 3 yesterday after a long hiatus (in which I basically finished Dead Space 2, Mass Effect 1, Mass Effect 2 again, and some other stuff).  Playing GoW3 after finishing ME1/ME2 reminds me of the major difference between third person shooters and third person shooters with roleplaying elements.

GoW3 is relentless.  Kill your way through a bunch of the enemy, moving from cover to cover with the odd moment of heroic full on battle charging thrown in, watch a 2 minute cut scene, and then rinse and repeat.  During the scenes you are an observer, not a participant, watching a scene take place from some eye-in-the-sky camera.

This isn’t a complaint by the way – just an observation (an obvious observation).  I had to take a 5 or 10 minute break after most of the long set pieces in GoW3 just to break that relentless feeling of bullet-powered progression.  It’s probably the exact feeling the game designers were going for.

With games like Mass Effect, there are long stretches of combat (more so in ME2), which can feel pretty relentless, but thrown in you get periods of dialog in which you control the direction, and I think that’s the key about why I prefer those games over just standard 3rd person shooters.  You are more invested in the character, you do feel more part of the story rather than an observer of it.

Anyway, Gears of War 3 was fun, I took too long a break to really say if it was gripping and I can’t say much other than it was pretty much like the first two.  Fun, frivolous and entertaining, but on a different engagement level than Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fallout, etc.

Mass Effect

Mass Effect 1 and 2 are old hat, been out ages, surely no one in their right mind would start talking about them now when Mass Effect 3 is just around the corner?  Well, I’m not in my right mind.

Grete played (plays?) ME1 and ME2 to death on the PC, she loves them and the Dragon Age games.  I had ME2 on the Xbox 360, played it one and a half times, and then sold it on to fund more games.  I promised myself that’s what I’d do with nearly every game I bought, new or second hand.  I didn’t want to end up with a huge pile of games, played or unplayed.  Anyway I never bought or played ME1.  With ME3 around the corner, Grete wanted to see ME1 and ME2 ‘on the big screen, with surround sound’, so she picked them up super cheap for the Xbox from the local store.

I picked up the DLC’s for them both (the ones I didn’t already have for ME2) and thought I’d give ME1 a shot.  It’s pretty good!  It’s odd playing ME2 before ME1 for a couple of reasons.  First, you kind of know where the story is going, but the flip-side is you go through a lot of ‘aahhhhhh riiiggghhhttt’ moments when you discover stuff that leads to things you did in the second game.  Secondly, the mechanics change a lot between games, and having to handle a million equipment upgrades in ME1 was not fun, especially knowing ME2 gets rid of that mechanic almost entirely.

But what really sets ME1 and ME2 apart from the general gaming population is the story and the characters.  I love it and them, and ME1 proved no less enjoyable than ME2.  In fact, I got 60 hours of game-play out of ME1, and another 45 hours out of ME2 even though it was my second play through.  ME2 straight after ME1 was a much better experience than previously, and being able to bring the ME1 character along made some of the decisions more personal.

I love the setting, the Space Opera style and the world building.  The little details and the massive scale work really well together.  I’ve spent the last two weeks feeling like I want to write a huge epic space opera story myself, although to be honest, what I most want to do is all the world building that goes into it.  Never could find a story inside myself I wanted to tell enough to actually write anything.

Mass Effect 3 demo looks good – very interesting approach offering three play styles.  Story mode – reduced combat involvement, full dialog options; Roleplaying which is the same model as the previous games; Action which reduces conversations down to cut scenes (I’m guessing you can still pick Paragon or Renegade using the triggers) but provides the full combat experience.  If more companies can pick up that approach, offering just as much content but with a range of roleplaying levels it would be excellent.  I’d love to play Modern Warfare with a significantly improved roleplaying feel.

Not sure how the multi-player will work out – and I hope the ME3 mechanics (which look to be somewhere between 1 and 2) don’t overwhelm the play.  I’m sure we’ll find out.

Either way – the Reapers had better watch out, I intend to convince the entire Galaxy to make a stand, and Hold The Line.

Hands off my content!

I gave up one of my domains a few months ago, the one relating to David Gemmell.  I won’t repeat the domain here for reasons which will be obvious in a moment.  Last night, I wondered wistfully if anyone had picked the domain up.  A quick whois showed it had, and so I visited it in my browser to see what they were doing with it, hopeful it was being used to bring David’s fans together.

Sadly, rather than that, someone had basically taken my David Gemmell eulogy, and a brief bio, combined them as the only post on a WordPress install and stuck adverts between each of the paragraphs.

Maybe if it had been something less personal I would have simply ignored it, but that eulogy was very personal to me, despite me posting it to the web.  It was still mine.  There was no attribution on the post on the site in question, and although my eulogy finished with “I will miss you ….” the way it had been re-posted just to generate advertising revenue made it meaningless.

The whois entry didn’t give a contact e-mail address, so I tracked down the web host (same company as the domain registrar) and sent a polite e-mail to their support department, showing the original content on my blog, explaining that it was my copyright, and asking if they could please speak to the owner of the site.

In their defence, they replied in a few hours saying they would contact the owner, and this morning when I rechecked my content had gone.  To be replaced by a generic Eco Advice post, interspersed with adverts.  That same content is all over the web, including one site lovingly titled “ArticleSnatch”.

I sort of feel like writing back to the web host and saying the owner is doing it again, but this time they’re using generic content designed to convince search engines to send traffic their way, but frankly, I can’t be bothered.  Now they’re not stealing my personal content, I can’t work up the enthusiasm to say much, and I guess the text they have used doesn’t belong to anyone specific.

Funny old world the web these days.  A few years ago we were told you couldn’t run a site off ad revenue alone, and now some ‘enterprising’ individuals basically make a living delivering nothing of value with advertising thrown in.