I’m playing an XCOM campaign at Classic difficulty in Iron Man mode, with soldiers named after RPS writers past and present. John Walker and Kieron Gillen are dead – who will be next? We’re off to somewhere near home – Liverpool, on an abduction mission. There’d been a choice of rewards, and between the Sergeant promised for this one and the fact that the UK is in a slightly higher state of panic than the others, Scouseland it is.
Rookie Stone is still wounded, as is wet blanket Rossignol. We can now take five soldiers out on missions, so looks like we need two more recruits. Who’s up for a visit to the meatgrinder?
Introducing Rookie Cara Ellison.
When the rest of us feel too tired, old and afraid to tackle new types of enemy, she’ll be there, being all young and fearless and stuff. She also gets to wield an Arc Thrower, as our Alien Containment chamber is now finished and waiting for its first visitor. Her favourite colours are ‘rainbow’ and purple. Purple it is, then.
Introducing Rookie Dan Griliopoulos.
The aliens shall cower in fear at his unpronounceable surname, which only just fits in the textbox. Dan is colourblind, so I can pick whatever Goddamn colour I like as it’ll probably look brown to him. So I pick the most lurid one I can.
Battle Report #4
We’re on what looks like a motorway, although I see no KFCs or service stations selling overpriced grab bags of Hula Hoops.
Creeping forward slowly, Sergeant Meer is able to pick off first one then a second Sectoid, before all hell breaks loose. Squaddie Smith has a New Vegas Review Moment, impulsively rushing ahead and stirring up total chaos – which, in this instance, is two packs of Sectoids at once, one to the left and one to the right. That makes six Sectoids in total, and we have only four soldiers able to shoot this turn.
We are so dead.
The first Sectoid mind-melds with one of its fellows, thus ending its own turn.
The second Sectoid misses.
The third Sectoid misses.
The fourth Sectoid mind-melds with one of its fellows, ths ending its own turn.
The fifth Sectoid misses.
The sixth Sectoid misses.
Oh. My. God.
Right. The baby Jesus has given us a second chance, so let’s make it count. A successful headshot from the incomparable Sergeant Meer on one of the mind-melding Sectoids kills not only it, but also the gray it’s brain-blended with. Down to 4!
Smith seeks to atone for his recklessness, letting off his sole rocket shot at two Sectoids sheltering near a car. One of these is mind-controlling a third Sectoid, sheltering in a nearby bus shelter. That means 3 down from just one shot.
We are down to 1! This is awesome.
I don’t believe in Karma. But.
The surviving Sectoid doesn’t have a death wish, which is to our favour – instead of taking a potshot (most likely at Smith, who remains the nearest to it) it flees into the perceived safety of a nearby armoured van. And vanishes. I can’t see it, but I am quite certain it’ll be bricking it. Today, we are heroes. Or at least we will be within one turn, if my crazy plan pays off.
I don’t know exactly where the hiding Sectoid is, but there isn’t much room for manouvre inside that van – so I take a gamble. Rookie Ellison, you have an Arc Thrower as I recall? Now, run blindly into that van, where there is definitely an alien horror holding a deathray waiting for you.
As the Heroes of Newerth community wish she would, Cara mutely does what she’s told and runs straight into the jaws of danger. Where she finds one quaking Sectoid, not in Overwatch, right next to her. You’ve got one chance here, Ellison. Otherwise you are almost certainly dead next turn.
The 70% stun chance works in our favour, and we have a live captive. Good work, Ellison – there’d be a promotion in this for you, if only the game gave promotions for non-lethal takedowns. Oh well, it may still say Rookie on your sleeve but we all know better.
And that’s it. Everyone goes home alive, uninjured, with a captive. Amazing. That was a mission to make me feel like a king.
Procter and Smith both promoted to Corporal. It is unclear what Procter has done to deserve this, having missed the one and only shot he took on that mission. This is like when he cheekily gets his mates to write the Bargain Bucket for him all over again.
Anyway: I elect for Corporal Smith to now be able to make two actions per turn, and for Corporal Procter to be able to run 3 tiles further. Both of these abilities could potentially save us from doom.
Right, what next? We’ve got a live Sectoid to get all Gitmo on, so… Wait, I forgot. We get a reward for this mission, as it was a council-ordered one. A new soldier, I believe. Who shall I name them after?
Then something really weird happens.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. I need to go and have a lie down now.
And from the North of England too, just like our own pet Manc. The real Adam Smith is not an enormous black fellow with the nickname ‘DJ’, but hey, close enough.
This is surely an omen. I am feeling good about this campaign. That almost certainly means someone will die any minute now.