For now, the guide is just serving as a depository for various tips and tricks to help players get the most out of the early stages of hard mode, making the later stages much easier. Eventually, the info will be organized into a more proper guide, and contain comprehensive information for mastering Evil Genius 2 on hard mode.
How to Beat Hard Mode
I'm mostly just dropping tips and tricks here for now based on my experience with Evil Genius 2 and it's prequel. While not always the case, I find that the two games are very similar mechanically and that the same tips from the original game apply in many ways. However, much of the information here currently IS based off of my hard playthroughs in Evil Genius 2, although some of it may be conjecture from past experiences.
Much of the game is gated behind the main quests. Things tend to ramp up quickly when you complete a main quest. Fortunately, if you take the time you'll get to a point where you're balancing your income and heat indefinitely before completely the next mission, giving you plenty of time to build/recruit/research and prep for the next stage.
Planning Your Initial Base
First, get used to the idea that your base will be ever-evolving. You will be building, moving and destroying quite a bit as you unlock extra rock layers, floors and techs.
General Build Tips
It's not always a good idea to build large single-facility rooms with lots of tightly packed equipment. Fires can spread pretty easily, so you'll want to be mindful of breaking points(points that will contain and break the spread, like walls). Power Stations especially should be broken up and spread around the base. I usually build them in groups of 4-5.
Build as needed. Don't bother with planning out your ideal base until you've unlocked all rock layers and Stairs.
Buffers and Back Channels
To explain in short, a buffer is an extended entrance area designed to thwart intruders through the use of traps, as well as to give you and your minions more time to deal with them before they reach your base proper. Your Cover Operation is technically a buffer area as well, one which you eventually gain full control over, so consider that as well.
A back channel, on the other hand, is a direct path from your HeliPad to your base proper. The shorter this is, the quicker your minions will construct your base and depart for schemes.
In the image above is a really basic buffer and back channel setup I'm using as a demonstration on Montañas Gemelas.
The entire area on the right is the buffer area. Ideally, you'll want this area to wrap around multiple times like a maze, and add traps to dispatch your intruders before they even get to the bridge in front of your base. You can use 2 wide hallways in order to get more use out of the space you have to work with, but you will not be able to use traps or doors in most cases. To offset this, you can create multiple choke points(will add screens to illustrate in the future) by opening your hallways to 4 wide, planning out your traps, then reverting to 2 wide. This is where you can get really creative with your designs, and conjure up all sorts of devious ways to deal with pesky intruders. You can even incorporate stairs and wind them through several floors of traps before they could ever hope to reach the bridge. Which brings me to the downsides of using a buffer.
The main issue with buffers is that they don't just increase the distance Intruders will have to walk to get to the goods, but your minions will have to walk that gauntlet, too. Valets are the most important when it comes to this issue. Your scientists, guards and basic minions will mostly traffic between your base proper and your HeliPad. Guards will only head towards the entrance if alerted to an intruder. Basic minions will do the same, but also move to build, move or destroy, which you have complete control over. Technicians will need to be moving through the buffer fairly often anyway, so that's fine. But Valets will be constantly moving from the CO to the closest available facilities to fulfill their needs. I do not have a fool-proof solution for this, unfortunately. I would suggest building a combination Staff Room/Barracks/Archive with a couple items to fulfill their needs, but I know for sure that minions will go hostile and intruders will get sus if they enter a barracks. I don't know for sure about the other two rooms, but I think they're fine. Feel free to try it at your own discretion, otherwise just double up on Valets.
As you can see along the bottom middle to the left of the image, I've separated the path to the HeliPad from the main corridor. This is the back channel. This will allow your minions to move freely without distraction. If you were to place stairs between the HeliPad and your base, it would provide quicker access to jobs on various floors. In the image, you can see that I joined the back channel and the main corridor near the front of my base proper. This is not ideal. Ideally, the channel would wrap around the outside of my available area and then join with the main corridor, with my base neatly tucked inside it. I'll provide screens once I finish renovating in my current game.
In my opinion, the benefits of buffers and back channels far outweigh the drawbacks. But that's not to understate the drawbacks. Using one or both of these techniques can quickly make time management extremely tedious. One thing I do to deal with this is designate a few wall tiles as breakaway walls. Basically, whenever you need to get your minions or your genius up to your CO, just break a few walls to shorten the path, and rebuild them when your done. Works best when no other constructions jobs are available.
Oh, and you may wonder why I haven't been mentioning doors much. I just don't trust them, so I'm working around them until I've successfully incorporated them. The tier 1 doors are basically paper even at the highest setting, and the next tier doors don't seem much better so far. Doors are great for blocking line of sight, making it harder for Intruders to spot your illegal activity, so do keep that in mind.
When it comes to deciding what to building first, you'll want to get a Control Room and Power Station ASAP. If you have the power available, build the Control Room first and get a Radio Repeater up and running so you can start your income flow. Then build a Power Station with a few Generators. I try to keep my available energy at ~20 at all times. If you don't have the power available at start, build the Power Station first, but only build 1 Generator, then your Repeater, then a couple more Generators.
Ignore the Vault. It takes up way too much space for too little gain. If you're playing the early game right, you'll rarely have more than 20K in your Vault at any point before you research Safe Racks.
Next is the Prison. Get one Holding Cell, and ignore the Interrogation Chair for now. The Cell is incredible important, though. If you don't get it up before your minions bring in a captured Tier 1 Minion, they'll get stalled at the HeliPad and start fights repeatedly until you do.
This might be a good time to carve out a small Infirmary with at least one Intensive Care Pod. I kinda just plop these around the base from time to time when I have an abundance of cash.
By this point, your minions are probably getting a bit pissy, and a couple of them have probably even defected. Screw them, honestly.......but it is time to address their needs. Build a Barracks. I usually go with 10 Bunk Beds and 2 Lockers to start. Next, build a Mess Hall, either attached to the Barracks or in a separate room, your call. 2 Basic Food Counters should suffice for now.
By this point you probably have a prisoner in custody. Build the Interrogation Chair, or save up for it if you can't afford it. Once you're done interrogation the prisoner, build the Training Room and set up their training station. You'll want to breeze through Guards, Scientists and Valets as quickly as you can, so prioritize them from here on out.
At some point, you'll want to get a Staff Room and Archive to round out the rest of the minions' needs. You can do it now, or wait until it becomes a problem if you have more pressing issues.
When it comes to your Inner Sanctum, this should be built when you feel that things are stable and your minions are capable of handling intruders fairly well. It's a high priority, as it's the only way to heal your Genius, but it could break you if you try to build it at the wrong moment, so use your best judgement.
Finally, we have the armory. I usually build this last, or just plug a small one somewhere between my Cover Operation and base proper if needed, just to centralize my Guards a bit. You'll be building a pretty tight security network eventually, but you still have some things to unlock before it can be tight.
Unlocking Tier 1 Minions
Honestly, before you do anything else when you start a new campaign, you should select a Minion Side Story. You'll want to do this before you get your Control Room and first Radio Repeater at the latest. You won't be able to see which regions have the related scheme needed for the Side Story, and you'll end up wasting time and money either building a second Repeater, or moving your Criminal Network.
As for which Minion Side Story you should go with first, I recommend the Guard, followed by the Scientist. You'll need at least some muscle early on to deal with Investigators/Agents that don't take to distraction. On hard, it doesn't take long before a single Investigator/Agent can take out multiple minions. I'd recommend keeping Guards at roughly 20% of your Minion Count.
After that you'll want to get research up immediately, so get some Scientists. Your base's capabilities are severely limited before you start unlocking new advancements. You should have twice as many Scientists as the amount of the highest single unique Laboratory Item you've built. So, if I have 3 Whiteboards and 2 Databanks, I'll train 6 Scientists, because I have 3 Whiteboards and it's the one Item I have the most of. Basically, the idea is that you want at least 2 Scientists available for any one workstation at all times, but you only ever use one unique Item per research, at least in the early tiers.
Next go with the Valet. Your Items shouldn't be in dire need of repair by the time you've unlocked all Tier 1 Minions, and the Valet unlocks your first Cover Operations Items. This helps immensely in stopping hostiles from reaching the entrance of your base. It just isn't as fail safe as it would need to be for me to recommend the Valet before the Guard.
Finally, the Technician. These guys are super important in the mid-late game, as they maintain all of your equipment, but are negligible early on.
Intruders, Heat and Global Operations
Investigators, Agents and Soldiers will attempt to invade your base periodically. The rate, strength and type are all determined by your Heat Ratings, of which you have 5 representing each of the F.O.J. Organizations. Having a higher Heat with one organization will increase the likelihood of units from that organization invading your base.
Early on, you should pay close attention to when intruders arrive, and mark them for Distraction immediately. Watch for when they get close to your base entrance, and path a few minions towards jobs around your Cover Operation, either selling stuff or placing cheap decorations. Do this until you either have the strength to take them on with guards and minions, or can design a longer path for intruders sprinkled with enough traps to kill off 5.
Ivan can take out 4 intruders easily with his rocket launcher, provided he has enough distance to fire it. Set him up in a long hallway, and wait for them to come to him. The minions will make short work of the 5th.
Just don't let any escape if they have an eye over their head. And try not to fight them in your Cover Operation.
Heat and Global Operations
On normal, cash is your most important resource.
On hard, heat is your most important resource.......but cash is still a close second.
Fortunately, managing heat isn't really all that hard if you take your time. Don't rush things, pay close attention to your criminal networks, take a step back if things start to feel a bit heavy.
- (Region: Group of sub-regions belonging to the same organization)
- (Sub-Region: The individual regions which can hold 1 criminal network)
Your criminal networks all start at lvl 1, and can generate a maximum of 50 heat before going into lock down. Each sub-region which has one of your criminal networks will slowly generate heat if you do nothing at all. Each sub-region also has 2 yellow schemes, which earn you money over time at the cost of an increased heat rate, and 2 purple schemes, which reduce heat by 50 at the cost of minions/cash or minions/time. If you can't find one of these schemes in any given area, unpause and wait a few seconds.
Each sub-region you are in which belongs to the same F.O.J. Organization will contribute to the same Heat Rating relevant to that organization. The best way to keep your Heat low early on is to spread your Criminal Networks across the greater Regions, cycling through them so they more or less have an equal amount of Criminal Networks.
Leveling up your criminal networks will raise the amount of Heat needed to trigger a lockdown in that sub-region, but keep in mind that this also raises the cap on your total heat for the greater region. This means that Heat will slowly become more difficult to manage, and you'll have to decide between growth and risk at many points in your playthrough. However, if you take your time and upgrade when you're sure you've got the capability for a greater threat, you'll be fine.
As mentioned before, Do not let intruders with eyes escape. They will contribute to Heat gain, and if ignored too often will add up to a real problem.
At this time, I'm not certain whether or not defecting minions or tourists who have witnessed a fight/murder contribute to Heat gain. It's been a bit tough tracking it consistently. I would assume they do, though. So be discrete, and try not to piss off too many minions. Don't worry about the occasional defector. You could be doing everything right, and someone will want to leave. If you're going to kill/capture them, do so before they get out of the base, just to be safe.
You gain money steadily through Criminal Networks, starting at 20$ per 5 seconds at lvl 1 for each. You can also send your minions on Schemes in any sub-region with a Criminal Network, which will increase the rate that you gain cash over a certain amount of time at the expense of an increased Heat gain rate.
Optional Objectives are small side objectives that pop up periodically and grant a cash bonus upon completion. These can be saved as a rainy-day fund, but you can only have 10 active and completed objectives available at one time.
Some Side Stories and Main Objectives will also grant a cash reward.
You can always sell stuff. Sometimes it's worth taking a small hit in order to create an investment. Buy something expensive that you intend to sell later when you really need the money.
I'd go with Improved Mining Techniques first, then finish out any other two Tier 1 Researches before moving onto Stairs. But I'm the early expansionist type, so this may not be the best case for you.
Getting into the new security measures is probably the best idea if you're not interested in early expansion. So start with traps and doors in that case.
This section will get more love soon enough, I just don't have that much to say about it. Can't really say I've found an "ideal" path for research.
Oh, I suppose one bit of advice is, when you're in a stable spot, sit back for a while and try to get through as many researches as you can early on.
Item Flash Cards
Information on items will be updated periodically. This is NOT an exhaustive list. lol, not even close right now, as I'm sure you can tell.