Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Misadventures in Rust Angels: The Base Defense Contest

 By Bixyl Shuftan

Anyone remotely famillar with Rust knows there are two kinds of servers. There are the PvE servers in which all is peaceful between players. And then there are the PvP servers, in which there's the potential of combat and raiding between players. Of the later, a few are somewhat relaxed, somewhat, with a majority of the players not fighting or raiding unless provoked. But some can be so vicious, players can expect to be attacked within minutes of entering, let alone after they've gathered enough materials for and having set up a base. While some of my friends have given PvP servers a try, hoping for the more relaxed variety, others have had more then enough of the "PVP kiddies" and are sticking to PvE ones. So when the Angels Rust server was back up, it was soon populated with Nydia and her friends, including myself.

But the trouble with PvE is, what to do to liven things up? Yes, there are the "ninja bears" who appear out of nowhere to eat you, the scientists who shoot at you, and the ever threatening chopper that fires death from above. But without human opponents, things can seem a bit predictable. To spark some excitement, there's been a couple "Wacky Races" in the server. But setting up the track was a lot of work to server moderator Umbra. So for September's challenge, he had a different idea: have the contestants get ready for a raid.

Most folks have built their base so for those who are interested in doing so I have a little competition for those interested.

The contest:

Build a base to house 4 to 8 players.
No items from mods
Base should be built to be defendable.
Base size around 12-20 foundations across, no height restrictions.
Contestants must build their own base, no team builds. (But definitely talk among your team mates and bounce ideas off them).
Required items that must be in base:
Workbench 1,2,3
Research bench
Repair bench
Anything else is optional. Be creative with your designs.
How long?
Now till the end of the 24th.  Judging on the 25th by myself and Nydia.

How do I enter?
Pick a spot on the map, screen capture the map location and dm it to me.

Are you in this channel?  Good, you can enter.
Im not whitelisted on your server…
Dm myself or Nydia with your steam ID and we will get you whitelisted

Do I have to gather resources?
Wood stone and metal are provided in three kits that are now live on the server.  Items that require scrap or tech trash you will have to source out.

Judging criteria?
Functionality - Does your base have all the necessary items to be sustainable?
Defendable - Can you fend off a determined raid of well equipped players?
Architectural design - Is there an idea of theme in how you built your base?

Foxy, who had experience in PvP servers and defending against raiders, one would think this contest would be a welcome challenge. But be bowed out as there'd been a few complaints about large bases causing lag, "I'd build the Citadel again but I'd get yapped at. So I'll be on the sidelines." But there were two entries. There was Snowy and there was me. Both our initial bases were too small to fit what the contest rules required. So she started a new one nearby. I ended up packing and moving to not too far from where she was, to a spot close to the stone quarry and within fair distance (by vehicle) of the sulfur and high quality metal quarries, as well as some abandoned marts & gas stations and a mining station.

Snowy had no real experience with defending against an attack, so she studied several Youtubes of bases made to be hard to crack. The result was what she called a "Frustrator." It was a two story base with a top wall that sloped outward - which rendered scaling to the top with ladders impossible without wrecking them. The top of the base was a "battledeck" with special slit windows that defenders could fire out of, but were reasonable protected. And the walls were made of high quality metal, making it a tough nut to crack. And if they did, they place was "honeycombed" with garage doors that were more difficult to take down than normal metal doors. And the tool cabinet was cleverly hidden. This would not be an easy base to take down.

My personal experience with defending against being raided has had, mixed results. A lot of redundant doors made a few turn around and leave before getting to anywhere important. One I caught in the act trying to chop down a door with hatchets, and blasted him. However I've found well-planned and equipped raids impossible to stop. Only once was I online and at the base when this happened, and I was poorly prepared, the two invaders armed with explosives blasting their way through and me with just a shotgun and grenades. I tried waiting in ambush, then tried tossing a grenade just as the wall in front of me came down. But somehow instead of being thrown, the grenade fell to my feet. Respawning in my bed, I tried getting them from behind with a pistol. But they saw me coming, and stopped me with a machine gun. There was nothing I could do after that, and they pretty much wrecked the place. Later on after traps were developed, I once logged on to find a hole in the wall and a number of doors knocked down, the last one having a shotgun trap behind it.

Concluding a determined raid couldn't be stopped at the outer wall, instead of going all out to try to, I concentrated on making the place hard to get through once inside. The place was also larger than Snowy's base, with individual bedrooms, the refinery and large furnace inside the building, and numerous stairwells. Only the bottom of the outer wall was metal and high quality metal. the rest was wood, with interior walls made of metal and stone. There were numerous HQM doors, most of which could be where the tool cabinet was hidden. But it was well hidden that would made finding it hard, at least that's what I thought. The main "vault room" where most of the guns and more valuable items were stored was out of the way, and I thought about making my stand there if they did get in for an ambush. And then there were the traps. I placed shotgun traps all over, notably in the stairwells and behind doors in closets. Thankfully Snowy had encouraged me to learn about making an electrical system, so I set up windmills and batteries, and rigged a number of turrets. Maybe Umbra would make a mess going in, but I was determined to make it a slow hard slog.

Snowy and I also ended up cooperating some, trading some resources. I guess we saw it as more than just a competition, but also cooperating against someone who thought he could beat us, "All your base are belong to us." I also started helping her in fights against the Bradley Armored Personnel Carrier, patrolling the launch site. The thing is tough to beat, with a machine gun and a cannon. While it's possible to blow it up with explosive charges, you'll need a rocket launcher and rockets if you want much of a chance. Snowy found the best place to fire at it was from the top of one of the buildings. Beating the thing, you have a chance of finding an M249 light machine gun in the loot crates, one of the best guns in the game and one that can be found only by beating that or the attack helicopter, or things like heavy metal doors, which helped me in honeycombing my base. Snowy found taking it on and blowing it up therapeutic, as well as a team-building exercise. While she occasionally went after it alone, she usually had the help of her friend Nikki. For me, it helped that the launch site was not far from the sulfur quarry. Since the thing ran without my help anyway as long as it had fuel, several times I would go and help her while it churned out the mineral. I also gave her some shotgun traps.

With all of the traps on my base, I was confident at times Umbra would be in for it. Recalling the scene in "Home Alone" when the burglars called the kid's home a "funhouse," I started calling it just that. Snowy thought it more resembled a hotel with it's bedrooms and stairs. One small complication, I found out Nydia would be helping Umbra on the raid. Since Nydia and I are close, I was a little worried a hard fight might upset her. But she assured this wouldn't happen. So we got ready, during which time Snowy had a little accident with her camper that she had to take a picture with her camera to be believed.

Finally the day of the contest approached.

After judging Nydia and I will attempt to raid the base for 30 minutes, while we do that you can see how comically bad we are at this kind of thing and/or get shot.  A lot. (Said base if destroyed will be rebuilt)

The day of the raid was going to be on Sunday night, but it got postponed a few days due to technical issues. I used the time to set up another few turrets after getting a few more TV cameras from military crates and Bradley kills. I also set up some "dragons teeth" around the Funhouse walls to discourage ladders. Finally on Wednesday night after the Cutlass party, Snowy and her friend Nikki got ready at her base while I got ready at mine. Umbra and Nydia decided to go after the "Frustrator" first. Umbra was streaming their actions, which made it a little easier for us. A little as we still couldn't always see what Nydia was up to. 
Flying over in their helicopter, they encountered trouble right away as the base had a Surface to Air Missile launcher, as well as their own personal rocket launchers. Nydia dropped Umbra off, and tried to safely land the copter nearby. But it caught fire, and became unusable after she landed. Umbra tried sneaking over, and throwing grenades into the upper windows. It worked sometimes, but while one was respawning and running back, the other was still firing away. Umbra also got hurt by a shotgun trap and blown up by a mine. At one point, Umbra hopped into Snowy's camper and took off, "The keys were right in there." That might have been a successful troll, but unless there were any weapons or ammo in there, no contribution to the fight.

Finally Umbra and Nydia gave the place a rocket barrage from a distance. The walls took a beating, but being made of High Quality Metal, they held. Snowy's team did have some trouble. Stormy came on late, and a glitch knocked her off the team, causing the shotgun traps to go off on her. Then for some reason the shotgun traps started going off on all of them. It seems after two or three respawns, they no longer saw you as friendly. They ended up having to hole up in the sleeping area. But Umbra and Nydia still couldn't get in.

Finally after a little over an hour, Umbra called a ceasefire. Snowy's base had successfully held off the assault. It was then my turn. Seeing their chopper, I tried firing at it with my rocket launcher a couple times. But the only result was to get their attention. They landed and managed to get to the building, and I tried dropping grenades on them. They missed, but I'm sure it shook them up some. I then tried making quick peeks, and fired with my M249 when I had a target, darting back after a few seconds. Once I wasn't quick enough and got nailed with one of Nydia's rockets. I quickly got back up and resumed, and managed to get her back with the gun. They tried grenades, but only ended up knocking themselves out a couple times.

Eventually night fell, then Umbra and Nydia went back and gave the base a rocket barrage from a distance. I tried looking out with night vision goggles, but I couldn't see them. While trying to see them, another rocket ended those efforts, and trying to get back up, I got hit by my own shotgun trap. And with so many of them around, I could only hole up next to the vault and wait for them if they ever made it there. Their rockets ended up blowing a big hole in the side of the building, taking down not just the outer wooden walls, but sections of stone floor and metal and stone walls. Then then started moving inside. But while they took out a few traps, there were still enough turrets to slow them down, Umbra getting knocked out by them a few times and Nydia once.

Finally after a little more than an hour, Umbra called a ceasefire. While they had gotten in, they had neither found the tool cabinet or main stash of supplies. And progress was slow due to the traps. So he felt this counted as a win for me. It was then he noticed, "Um, is your tool cabinet still up?" In all of the excitement, neither one of us noticed it was gone, presumably from the rocket barrage, the stone walls it was behind not quite enough. But since Umbra had already declared for me, it was too late for him to place one of his own. While I'd gotten some unlucky breaks in the fight, in the end luck was on my side.

So both Snowy and I had won against the raids. Nydia ended up leaving her weapons behind at my base after the raid, and Umbra didn't bother picking up those from when he'd gotten clobbered earlier. But they'd left a big hole behind while Snowy's base was intact. It turned out one wall was close to breaking, but it didn't. So she was the bigger winner in the competition. Nydia and Umbra offered for us to return the favor on their base, but Snowy answered she'd rather take out Bradley another time.

Umbra would later do a post-mortem on the raids. The fight at the Frustrator had more people getting clobbered more often, Umbra getting 5 kills while clobbered three times. Nydia got two kills in while being knocked out three times. Snowy was even, four to four, while Nikki got a kill in while getting knocked out three times. Stormy having gotten in late ended up getting clobbered once by opposing action without getting a kill of her own. Umbra didn't count the deaths by the shotguns. With the Funhouse, there were fewer kills overall, but more friendly fire accidents and several kills by the turrets. Umbra missed one of the two rocket kills by Nydia on me and considered us even. He never got a kill on me, joking that time he was a "deployable dummy," just on the traps which he considered hollow victories. "Those turrets Bix ..." he would later groan, saying they really hurt, musing if the machines ever take over, I'd have a place among the robotic overlords.

So could the lessons here be applied to a base in a PvP base? Maybe. We both knew when the attack was coming and had time to prepare. In PvP servers, this would seldom happen, attacks coming anytime from anywhere and most likely when we were asleep and logged off. There's also that decay was extremely low in the Angel's server. In a normal one, both bases would require materials to maintain every day, mine more overall and Snowy's more of the hard to get high quality metal. Still, some version of the Frustrator would be useful, and would certainly deter a number of raiders who would look for easier targets.

With the competition over, Snow and I would take on Bradley a few more times. Once I would clobber it solo while waiting for her, real-life having interrupted her trip over. But most of our time was getting ready for the wipe by deciding what to store in our backpacks to make setting up again easier. Snowy had gotten more M249 light machine guns than we could take. Umbra told us we couldn't take metal, wood, or stone. Among the things I would take with me were several weapons and stacks of ammo, pipes and tech parts, a stack of cloth, a tier three workbench, and lots of scrap. Snowy and I would say goodbye to our vehicles and bases that served us well.

And if we hold another base-defense competition? Foxy would say he might take part if we have another, time permitting. I've also thought about what worked and what didn't and what I might do differently. But there won't be another for some time at least. As for what Umbra's challenge will be in October, he hasn't told us much. His only clue was that it would involve "precision." That could mean a number of things. In the meantime, there's time to prepare for whatever it is, and time to set ourselves up again after the wipe.

"Good gaming to you,"

Bixyl Shuftan