Examining Tiny and Crinis' status reminds me that I really need to take a good hard look at my own. I've stacked up a reasonable supply of Biomass, certainly enough to start investing in upgrades to the two most expensive organs I have, the Vestibule and Nave. I've brought my antennae up to +15 since the reset, but to this point I'm yet to even have a look at the options for those two new(ish) additions. In the past I expanded the range of the Vestibule, but that was due to a rather specific reason, namely being captured and hoping the Colony would be able to detect me. Now that no such conditions are pressing on me, I have a little more flexibility in what I want to choose.
I watch and assist as Tiny and Crinis continue their rampage through the ever growing wave, turning my thoughts over in my mind. I mean, first and foremost amongst my concerns is that I still don't really understand precisely what the combination of Vestibule and Nave actually does. The sustained energy that pours into me, ensuring I never get tired, refilling my reserves and refreshing my body so long as there are ants nearby, that's all great, and certainly the effect is vastly more pronounced than it was before. As long as the Colony is nearby, my energy is absolutely limitless, to the point I think I could run at top speed forever, without ever growing tired. Something else I noticed is that my health regeneration around the Colony is also much higher, my cells regenerating with incredible alacrity so long as the Vestibule continues to provide me with its power.
When you add on top of that the rapid healing provided by the regeneration gland, and the fact that the gland refills super quick thanks to the Vestibule, my level of heal tanking is getting out of control. Combined with my general defensive setup, being both hard to hit and hard to damage, I'm very, very hard to kill. Which is obviously a good thing! I'm sure that if I poured all of my evolutionary energy into it, I could have been an absolute brick of a monster, with multiple carapace and supporting structures in between, with additional healing glands to keep the juice pumping in a continuous cycle, but I've had other considerations.
All in all, I'm fairly happy with my current build. Good defensively, good with magic, reasonable physical fighting capacity. To be honest, it's the physical fighting that I'm by far the worst at. My stats lag far behind in the pure brute strength department, and I just don't have the kind of Skill synergies that Tiny has that give his punches extra destructive power. I might be far more flexible than my ape companion, but other than specialised attacks like the gravity bomb, my ape like pet has me beat on pure offensive output and he's only a tier five! I suppose in the long run I'll out sustain him. I'll be using Doom Chomps long after he's passed out from exhaustion so long as there are a few of my siblings nearby…
Alright! This cannot stand! I'll have to dive into the menus and see what I can do about powering up! Surely some new Skills must have unlocked for me since the last time I had a poke through the list!
[Good work you two! Let's pack it up and move back behind the chokepoint. Make sure you bring some Biomass back for snacking.]
They happily get to work complying, especially Tiny, who's living in a kind of heavenly bliss right now, fighting, eating and sleeping every day. Enjoy it while it lasts, big guy, it isn't going to last forever. The two of them cooperate to grab a few of the more delectable offerings that they were able to defeat and fight off the monsters swarming around them as they retreat. Invidia and I provide cover with a few healthy blasts of magic and before you know it we're back behind the wall and inside the safety of the Colony's territory once more.
[Great. Let's eat and then I'm going to go through my menus and do a bit of mutating. You guys know what to do, right?]
The two of them nod solemnly, though I can tell Tiny is already thinking of his nap.
[No sleeping until it's done,] I warn him, [you know how important this is.]
He grudgingly nods again and I turn around, satisfied, and start poking away at the menu while they eat. Honestly, what could be more important than maintaining the dignity of the Eldest within his own family? There's more at stake here than just my shallow pride! This is Colony shattering stuff! Also, I'm certain that if that damn statue carver ever saw me mutating there would be a gold plated monument of me rolling around on the ground with my legs flailing in the air before the day was out! Unacceptable!
Now, menu time. Ah, the endless lists have returned once more. Back in the good ol' days there were like, five Skills I could purchase? Look at me now, there has to be hundreds available, unlocked by glands, or size, or crossing stat thresholds, or just pure mass, or any of the other things I now know can unlock skills in the menu. There's a ton of good stuff in here too, makes me wonder why I don't go poking around in here more often…
Wait! This is actually something Granin warned me about! Even though Skill points feel as though they rain down from the skies above, if you actually purchase a whole bunch of skills and then level them until they actually become properly useful, say rank three or four, suddenly you've invested twelve levels worth of Skill points! Then maybe you find a nice fusion, that could be another ten, or more… It adds up. Skill purchases need to be carefully managed to avoid bloat.
With that in mind, let's see what we can see. I'd really like some more combat actives, although active Skills tend to be hard to come across. At the moment, the only active Skills I have are Doom Chomp and Dash, which doesn't lead to a whole lot of variety. Granted, Doom Chomp is a fusion of three different active bite Skills, but still. That brings up a good point, what do I want to be able to do? To be honest, I'm not really sure. I suppose I'll just take a look at the options and see if there is something I like.
Leaping Strike? Do I have the physical stats to qualify for this now? At rank one it basically helps you coordinate better as you jump at an enemy, but I can tell this will turn into an active as it ranks up. Do I really want to be jumping at my opponents? I'll think about it. What's next?
Charge. Seems fairly straight forward. I bet I had access to this Skill ages ago but never bothered looking for it. According to the description, this is more about using your mass to inflict damage as you move forward than it is about moving as fast as possible, ala Dash. I'm willing to bet my left antenna that the two Skills fuse. This one is a possibility. What's next?
Antenna Whip. I mean… really? Who in their right mind wants to use their sensory organs to hit their enemies with? Does a human attack with their eyeballs? Wait… does the Queen have this Skill?! I don't think she did back when I modified her core… but it wouldn't surprise me if she picked it up somewhere along the way… Not interested.
Slash Attack. Ah, the Slash Attack, I haven't seen you for a long time. You were one of the first Skills I could buy, allowing me to attack with my legs… which seems really, really unnecessary when I have powerful mandibles right on the front of my face. Besides, my legs aren't really made for attacking… I could have mutated them for it, or attached blades to the end of them when evolving I suppose. It just doesn't seem very… ant.
Come on, there must be some other useful Skills in here?!