XCOM: Diary Of Wimpy Squad #5 – Bucket List

By Cpt Alec 'Zulu' Meer on October 17th, 2012 at 9:01 pm.

My self-indulgently RPS-themed XCOM Classic/Iron Man campaign diary continues.

Having just lost Tim Stone and Dan Griliopoulos we’re feeling a little shakey, but at the same time we’ve got some veterans on the team now. And laserguns. Can’t argue with laserguns. So, are we ready for our first Terror Mission?

Today, two RPS writers die and four more join.

Battle Report #8

Honestly, the number of misses from this team is absurd. Can’t I get the civilians on this mission to take up arms instead? They’re bound to be better at it than these dipshits.

As a result of my squad’s hopelessness, one of the Chyrsalids skittering about the map is able to kill a civilian in plain sight of us, the cheeky sod. Procter rushes forward to finally take out the Chyrsalids, then hangs around looking all smug.

Then the dead civilian stands up right next to him and clobbers him with its big zombie fists. Lewie, Lewie you’re gonna die.

Ack. Just two turn in, we’re down to four soldiers, we don’t have anyone to tell us where to buy cheap videogames any more, and there’s no longer a hot pink presence on the battlefield. This may be our darkest hour. Our least pinkest hour, anyway.

‘DJ’ Smith and ‘Crater’ Rossignol grimly take out the zombie, while the rest of the team pings around rescuing civilians. We’ve got four rescued (but five killed) when a pair of Floaters arrive on the scene, scoring a critical but mercifully non-lethal hit on Crater. The Smith brothers proceed to coolly take out both aliens, and I find myself ruing that there isn’t a High Five button in the game.

Five more civs get rescued as we comb this burning cityscape. Two more FLoaters turn up, perishing to cannonfire from Rossignol and sniperfire from Meer, earning the latter a promotion. Captain Alec ‘Zulu’ Meer! I do like the sound of that.

So, we’ve lost another soldier, and more distressingly heshe was one of only two Support types on the team. More positively, Meer’s promotion to Captain allows us to upgrade the squad size to six in the officer training facility. We are now FULL POWER. Except, with Procter dead and Rossignol on another of his regular trips to the infirmary, we need to bring two new rookies into the fray to help deal with an Abduction report in Germany.

Let’s see who’s lurking in the barracks. A Scottish lady? It has to be former RPS contributer and now IGN UK games editor rookie Keza MacDonald.

Her favourite colour is orange, and I give her an arc thrower, which is definitely because I respect her close-quarters combat abilities and not at all because it’s far more prudent to give rookies the most danger-fraught tasks. And let’s just hope she doesn’t once again abandon all that is good and true in favour of joining a faceless, inhuman enemy. Zing.

Next up is rookie Richard Cobbett.

From my time working in the same office as him, I recall him wearing a lot of black. I also give him a Medkit, because Mister Cobbett has long been the guy we call in to handle emergencies we cannot.

Battle Report #9

After his commander’s worryingly shaky hands accidentally dashes him into the open, Smith, A. takes an immediate hit from a Thin Man. Fortunately, rookie MacDonald proves a strong addition to the team right away – killing two and stunning one in short order. Her reward is the rank of squaddie and the designation of Heavy. No such joy for Cobbett, who goes home unpromoted this time.

10 enemies down, 0 losses. This was a good fight.

Back at base, we’re finally able to start researching Carapace armour. It’ll take two bloody weeks, but we really need to stop losing people at this stage, and an upgrade to defence is the best hope of that. Well, someone else playing the game for me is a better hope, but get off my back, right?

We also crawl to the end of the month, earning our much-needed wage from the Council. The world’s getting a little panicky, however – Europe loves me but several of the Asian territories are big danger of pulling out from the XCOM project. Pah. They’ll come crawling back when aliens have stolen all their curry/sushi/noodles/insert stereotypical national food dish as appropriate.

Battle Report #10

We’ve shot down a UFO over Australia, so it’s time to go to the land down under, where Mutons growl and Beserkers thunder.

In fact, this mission marks our first encounter with Mutons, heavily-armoured humanoids weilding full-on Plasma Rifles rather than the nancy Light version carried by Thin Men and Floaters.

Fortunately we spot them from a mile off, with Zulu headshooting one for an insta-kill and combined arms from the other five soldiers sorting out the other two before they’ve gotten close. /Flex

We’re also keen for some Captures this time around – there’s a lone Floater who looks likely, but we end up chasing him around the battlefield for several turns before giving up and grenading him into oblivion (fun fact: I still can’t help but capitalise Oblivion even after all these years).

The Outsider, who we need if we’re to invade the aliens’ base, is another matter. The newly returned to action Cara Ellison softens it up with her laser pistol, enabling Rookie Cobbett to go in for the non-kill which his Arc Thrower.

Another successful mission, and a promotion for Cobbett. He becomes another heavy, which means we now have four of them on the team. RPS likes BIG DAMAGE. MacDonald bags herself a second promotion too. And little wonder, too:

Battle Report #10

Textbook! Textbook. We even capture a Floater. Giggle. Could we be over the early-game hump, able to manage our threats rather than simply roll with the punches?

Rossignol is now Captain Jim ‘Crater’ Rossignol, Meer is Major Alec ‘Zulu’ Meer and Ellison is Sergeant Cara’ Vita’ Ellison. Being named after a dead-in-the-water handheld games console, oh dear oh dear. Let’s hope it’s not prophetic, eh?

More importantly, research on Carapace armour is completed at last, and having flogged a few alien corpses on the Gray Market we’re able to construct six shiny new suits of the stuff. To slightly less fragile battle!

A.Smith, Q.Smith and Keza are all licking their wounds, so once again two new recruits are needed.

An American lady with giant red hair means only one thing – rookie Leigh Alexander has joined the team.

Matching armour seems like a safe bet to me, but I’ve probably done a terrible job of identifying what cool people in New York wear.

Next is rookie Brendan Caldwell.

I’ve dressed him all in green because he’s Irish. Not only is that disappointingly racist of me, but he’s actually Northern Irish so it’s inaccurate racism too.

Battle Report #11

They join us for an escort/evac mission set in an observatory. [I've never seen this map before, and I'd say it's one of the best in the game].

There are so many Thin Men in this map, making it perhaps the most threatening mission so far. The ones on the rooftops are particularly deadly as the cramped, indoor spaces my soldiers are stuck in down below make it very tough to get a clear shot at them.

And so it is, after all six soldiers consecutively miss one Thin Man, that Rookie Alexander falls (as shown, spoilertastically, at the top of this post).

Rest in peace, o bright light of games journalism. You did well. Well, you didn’t, as you didn’t kill anything before getting annihilated by the game’s second-puniest foe, but you know what I mean.

Four missions, two fatalities? That’s not half bad, if I say so myself.

__________________

« | »

, , .

92 Comments »

  1. Discopanda says:

    So, any guesses on who’s gonna get mind controlled and kill half the squad? My money’s on Rossignol, I get the feeling he’s been waiting for the chance to murder the rest of you for awhile.

  2. Faldrath says:

    Enjoying these reports a lot, but the fact that I’m not home to load up the game saddens me a bit. Also, poor Leigh. She had such a promising career.

    Speaking of missing people, where is Adam?

  3. S Jay says:

    Bravo! I am still collecting the bones of my classic iron man play.

  4. TormDK says:

    Sounds like you are not doing too bad – I’ve yet to complete it on Classic as I tend to end up rage quitting due to the not-so-rng rng that happens from time to time. Missing those 80+ shots really annoys me to no end because the aliens rarely have such issues.

    • cspkg says:

      I’ve found that Classic difficulty is not so bad if you’re not on Ironman (crazy self-loathing) mode and are prepared to spend time reloading saves on a regular basis. The low hit rates mean that I find it difficult to cultivate snipers and end up having tons of heavies (a la RPS). But it is tons of fun after an initially spectacularly steep learning curve. I’ve also had 5 soldiers miss a pne health muton from almost point blank range, and had to use my last grenade to finish the bugger off before its turn. Alas, I haven’t finished it yet as I got distracted by Dishonored and real life and stuff. :)

      Hope this diary keeps on rolling for a while. It’s been the most entertaining RPS feature in a long time (in terms of pure laugh-out-loud value). I loved all the old diaries of old, the main reason I started reading this site, and this is really great addition to the pantheon.

      Opinion, away!

      • vakthoth says:

        Yeah, I tried ironman classic twice after beating my normal play-through, and it went so badly that I got really bummed-out, like I haven’t since trying for all the platinum medals in Blast Corps when I was a teenager. So I switched to regular classic to try and learn how to deal with the difficulty, and it’s actually gone tremendously better. I’ve only had to load two or three times (I think I’ve loaded three times, and I only really HAD to load [i.e., wiped] twice — once in our first or second mission, and once on a bomb disposal, which, damn, that stuff is night-and-day versus how it is on normal).

        So if anyone’s thinking of jumping straight from normal to classic ironman, I’d strongly recommend trying classic by itself first, so you can readjust to the difficulty.

      • gibb3h says:

        I have had nothing but Supports since I started the game and I have just captured a psy sectoid, no idea why the game thinks EVERYONE needs to be a healer :|

      • Joshua Northey says:

        You do understand what 80% means don’t you? It does not mean 100%.

      • darkath says:

        I’ve been playing Ironman Classic from day one, without any fluff (glam cam, health bars, tutorials etc.).

        So far my record is 169 days, and i didn’t get past the alien base. Blame the Muttons.

        Am I insane ?

        Probably.

    • Cooper says:

      A 90% chance to hit means you won’t 1 in ten times.

      I’m gonna bet you’ve taken 90% shots many more than ten times. Which would explain thosemisses. It’s amazing how often high percentage chances get incorrectly translated into certainties by people…

      • phuzz says:

        Which is why an 80%+ shot failing three times in a row is annoying. That has less than a 1% chance of happening, and yet it seems to happen to my useless shower of idiots, sorry, squad, every mission.
        Of course, there’s a certain amount of observational bias going on here.

      • ix says:

        I think the way probability is handled here is a bit annoying because intuitively we expect the probabilities of subsequent shots to be dependent on the previous shots. If you missed once, it feels like you should have more information now, like by how much your scope is off (or whatever made you miss).

        Of course, it’s a simulation and condensing a lot of stuff into one number, but I suspect this is one of the more glaring ones for people, because it just goes against our intuition so much.

      • Captain Joyless says:

        The displayed odds are wrong, at least on classic/impossible.

        After recording results from “45%” shots (alien in half cover with average distance, no skills, using assault rifle) I hit 22.5% of them over 10 different missions (ie, no reloading, since the RNG is seeded at mission start.)

        Before you cry “NOT ENOUGH SAMPLE SIZE”, no, you’re wrong. Testing 40 shots and getting 9 hits is such a strong signal that it is statistically significant and we can be quite confident in rejecting the displayed odds as true.

        What are the actual odds? I don’ t know. The data only say “not 45%”.

    • Filden says:

      60% of the time, it works every time.

  5. Andy_Panthro says:

    I read Tom Chicks review today: http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2012/10/16/the-xcom-enemy-unknown-review-that-took-18-years-to-write/ – contrasting views of his 1994 and 2012 selves. Worth checking out!

    As for me, I’m still struggling with my Alien Alloys. I feel like you can’t lose a mission on Classic without it severely hindering your progress. One lost (as in total team death) mission can have a terrible negative effect on your future missions, as you miss out on good soldiers, money and resources.

    • Carbonated Dan says:

      rush light plasma rifles and don’t build any laser rifles – the alloy savings from capturing light plasmas makes for a much stronger economy

      EDIT
      Tom’s tying XCOM to boardgames is such a telling insight,
      I wish he was still a fixture on 3MA (i miss the coffee)

      • Lacero says:

        The entire turn based part screams Bloodbowl to me. I actually think it would be improved with zones of control too, there’s too much cheesy “run round their back” used when shotgunning with assaults.

        A chance to catch a grenade out of the air when it goes over you would be cool too.

        • Droopy The Dog says:

          I… Don’t think you’re supposed to catch them…

          Something zones of controllsy could be interesting too, like you say, flanking by just running past someone with run and gun is far too easy.

          • Lacero says:

            I was thinking you’d grab it and throw it back where it came from. But, if it followed blood bowl rules it’d end up scattered to the other side of the map anyway.

        • Carbonated Dan says:

          I had exactly the same thought about zones of control in my last terror mission – I had found myself arranging my fragile snipers behind [redacted] armoured heavies as if they were blockers

        • AmateurScience says:

          The game screams ‘Necromunda’ at me, they’re mechanically very similar. This is a good thing.

      • cspkg says:

        On a good mission I keep on thinking that this feels a bit like 3D chess. When (and not if) things go bad, it’s more like a conspiracy to make me look like a pain-loving ass-monkey. But boy is it fun.

      • Captain Joyless says:

        It’s not tom chick’s insight. The XCOM designers talked about how they mocked it up as a boardgame internally during development.

        The tactical combat is a boardgame, and it works pretty well (with some issues like map size/balance/variety.)

        The strategic layer is a complete abomination of unfinished features and poor design. It wasn’t in the boardgame.

    • Pilcrow says:

      That review is exactly my problem with this game. And he doesn’t mention one of the things that are making me nuts: making a heavy plasma costs more than twice the price of an advanced fighter, which by the way needs four time less metal than a personal armor. I haven’t built firestorms just to conserve the suspension of disbelief.

      I’m enjoying the game, and despite its simplicity the tactical part is clever and elegant, but the strategic part, with the scripted events and the “pick one” panic missions, is just dumb.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        The strategic part needs balancing, particularly the complete uselessness of scientists compared to engineers.

      • 0over0 says:

        The advanced interceptors use a lot of captured parts, though, unlike the rifles and armor, which can be manufactured from broken pieces. The ships require unbroken, working, alien parts–thus, the primary difficulty in acquiring them is successful ship missions that don’t blow up all the components.

    • BooleanBob says:

      That’s a great review. Great idea, and even better execution. Bet there’s loads of games journalists kicking themselves for not thinking of it.

  6. Sheng-ji says:

    A high five button is a great idea!

    • cspkg says:

      As would be a ‘slap with a wet fish’ icon. Professional soldiers who cannot shoot straight are not professional in my book. 80% chances should connect dammit! :)

      • The Visible Man says:

        Yeah, except for 20% of the time.

        • cspkg says:

          That’s true, but it’s still frustrating when it seems like the aliens never miss (pretty much). Nothing like an assault shotgun to the face of an alien to guarantee a kill. :)

          • Joshua Northey says:

            It sounds to me like you are not using cover. At half cover they will hit like 50-60% of the time, at full cover much much less. If you are standing out in the open they will indeed hit 90% of the time.

          • cspkg says:

            I can see why you might think that, but I stick to decent cover at pretty much all times (ie when it’s available). I’ve found (painfully) that you cannot get far in Classic without doing so.

            No, what gets my goat is when aliens that are not flanking me and which I can only hit for 20/30%, but which also just magically critical my guy/gal in full cover. Snake men are the worst offenders, so I keep a rocket/grenade just for them. To be fair it doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it’s pretty galling.

  7. Carbonated Dan says:

    I’d like to recommend skipping laser weapons and rushing straight for light plasmas as soon as carapce armour finishes (interrogating a muton will half the initial research time – initially light plasmas were a 57 day project for me, but a captured muton on day 24 allowed us to finish on day 25)

    because light plasmas can be captured from the enemy and behave exactly like laser rifles with a +10 to hit they make for a much stronger mid game economy, give rookies a fighting chance and in the hands of a rapid firing assault can deal exceptional damage

    good luck commanders, we will be watching

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I hadn’t been doing much capturing, so that’s one thing I could improve on. I just prefer my heavy weapons and snipers… getting in close is too dangerous!

      • AmateurScience says:

        I have developed a deep love of rushing in with two assaults and messing up the joint. Even better when you get [redacted] armour later on in the game.

      • Droopy The Dog says:

        That is the downside of skipping laser weapons, odds are you won’t be getting any improved heavy or sniper weapons until well past mid-game. I ended up sticking with an assault/support/rookies team for a long while after I got the plasma weapons, worked well though, also meant a lot of rookies got some ranks.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      It doesn’t sound like you are playing classic if you are researching capture technology that quickly.

      • Carbonated Dan says:

        by capturing and interrogating a muton I was able to finish the research on day 24 of the 57 days proscribed

        which is somewhere in the middle of the third month of the invasion

        • Joshua Northey says:

          I thought you meant you captured a muton on day 24. Which IMO is not likely and also terrible strategy. I don’t break out the stun guns until month 2.

  8. McDan says:

    Bloomin’ excellent once again now Major Alec Meer. I foolishly didn’t get many satellites up so now South Africa has pulled out, have the laser guns and better armour now though. So definetely over the first hard part bit. What a game, all my friends have died but I have somehow made it to the top rank on their demises. That’s life.

  9. wodin says:

    Satellites and Uplinks are very important..without them your doomed as the nations soon depart..

    You can win every battle and have the best troops but if you don’t give Sat coverage your doomed and doomed pretty quickly aswell..

  10. Inglourious Badger says:

    Gah! Damn you Alec! I’m enjoying this diary so much I’ve been inspired to start a Classic+Ironman game, even though I haven’t finished Dishonored yet. Can’t get enough of this game. I was worried Classic would be too frustrating for my normally strategy-phobic psyche but it’s actually going (touch wood) ok so far…losing about 1 soldier a mission, but apparently that’s ‘good’ according to the annoying guy with the knitted jumper and call-centre headset.

    Just researched and purchased laser rifles 1 day before my first terror mission. Feeling charmed.

    • Carbonated Dan says:

      let us know how that terror mission goes, it’s often the beginning of the end

      Good luck commander, we will be watching

      • Inglourious Badger says:

        Oh, so YOU’RE the guy who’s ‘always watching’?

        Yeah, sorry, I meant ‘I just researched…’ as in I researched them this evening. The Terror mission went amazingly well thanks to laser rifles and a superb piece of rocketeering by my heavy (who usually blows her own cover up instead) to whittle down some Chrysallid health. I still lost 1 soldier to a Chrysallid laying an egg in his face, but I managed to end the mission on the next turn so didn’t have to laser him to bits aswell.

        I even managed to stun my first live capture (after accidently blowning up a stunned alien in a previous mission. D’oh.)

        AND I saved enough Civs to get an ‘excellent’ at the mission end. Like I say, it’s all going surprisingly well so far! The only problem with completing a normal playthrough beforehand is I know what’s coming round the corner…..

  11. Bobtree says:

    I’m starting to regret not being able to pick armor colors, at least for utility and easier troop ID. It’s a locked pre-order-only feature, and that sucks. Come on Firaxis! Fix the bugs too please.

  12. AmateurScience says:

    I had to accept that classic was too much for my first playthrough and turn it down to Normal. That made the early game manageable but now as my squad has gained power it’s become a bit of a cakewalk. A total blast of a cakewalk mind you but a cakewalk nonetheless.

  13. noom says:

    My second attempt at Classic Iron Man is going far better than my first. So much so that I refused to play it tonight because I’d had a drink on getting home from work, and didn’t want to risk playing with mildly impaired judgment.

    • Carbonated Dan says:

      that same impaired judgement caused me to start a new game in which I rushed light plasmas, which turned out to be the best decision I’ve made

    • Filden says:

      I do the same thing on my classic/ironman play-throughs. If I think I’m getting tired, or not at my best, I’ll put it away to keep from jinxing it. I also force myself to take a break after a serious setback. Otherwise, I tend to “play angry”, and catastrophe soon follows.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Yeah I beat normal easily on the first try, but on Classic I keep having a good run, then I will get complacent and start doing a few missions while talking to the wife, or on the phone, or listening to something technical, and I will get wiped.

        Classic ironman really requires constant vigilance, when you have that little voice that says “I really shouldn’t do X, but oh it would work so well”, you really really need to ignore the second part and refrain from whatever risky thing you were considering.

    • mike2R says:

      That’s what happened to my most promising playthrough so far :(

  14. The Random One says:

    Ha ha, Operation Swift Priest? Look out, those holy men are deceptively quick on their feet!

  15. makute says:

    ” And let’s just hope she doesn’t once again abandon all that is good and true in favour of joining a faceless, inhuman enemy.”

    I see what you did there, Mr. Alec.

  16. wodin says:

    I’d like to see a Space Marine Mod.

  17. Fede says:

    If you speak italian, Cara Ellison’s nickname works well with her name. Cara = Dear, Vita = Life.

  18. Sarkhan Lol says:

    I love this game to bits, but I’ve officially given up on Ironmanning of any kind until a few more patches in. Losing the bomb mission AGAIN because the camera’s wigging out or my guys can’t open a door/walk through an open door/path like regular human beings was just a little too much for me.

  19. lowprices says:

    See, I used to give the arc thrower to my least valuable rookies, but it was a death sentence. I lost three before giving the task of live capture to my cartoonishly unstoppable assault guy, which seems to be working much better.

  20. vakthoth says:

    Never expected to see a Louie reference in an article about XCOM. Well done!

    Man, Thin Men on classic are a nightmare. I’ve honestly had a harder time with them than I have with mutons and cyberdiscs. So far, anyway. It’s like they’re nearly incapable of missing, or not critting, for that matter. And maaaan, in a bomb disposal mission? Totally boned. With the countdown and all, you don’t have time to hang back and wait for a situation to become more manageable with flanking and such. Just gotta get lucky with where they are and how well you do shooting them in cover. That was how my last squad met their doom (fittingly in the graveyard map with the mausoleum in the center), with the thin men killing five of my guys themselves, while the sixth was killed by the bomb. At least I killed more of them than they did of my guys (in absolute numbers, that is, not proportionally), and they all presumably died in the blast as well. So it’s really a tie, if you don’t count the city of Shanghai.

    But since I’m not playing ironman (I tried it twice and it went so badly that I got seriously depressed and viscerally dreaded trying again before playing a regular classic game to get the hang of it), I reloaded to before that mission began, and luckily the bomb disposal took place in the trainyard this time, which was also ugly but not nearly as bad as the graveyard had been. I also reloaded my way out of another mission, which I had successfully beaten, but with a death, because of a hilariously errant rocket that blew up while we were all in cover behind various cars, caused the cars to explode, and seriously injured all but one of my soldiers (and a cyberdisc was onhand to capitalize on the accident). Save scum, I know, but… hey, I was a lot worse about that when I played the original games.

    • f1x says:

      Yeap thin man in classic is hell, specially at the beginning,

      but they teach you to move from cover to cover (if full cover is avaliable much better) and to always have a couple guys in overwatch covering the moves of the rest,
      but, best way to deal with them so far for me : fucking rocket launcher, grenades before they can start positioning and shooting, or run and gun to neutralize them fast

      I’ve not advanced that much in classic tho, but if you think “thin man” are pain, fucking ussain-bolt-chrysallids vs normal armor…. :S

      • cspkg says:

        Yes. Those two buggers scare me more than cyber discs or mutons. Explosives get used up pretty fastish and I tend to roll with at least two heavies now. Rockets are great but positioning said rocket man is not always so.

      • vakthoth says:

        Haven’t had any problems with chryssalids in this playthrough either. I got laser weapons very shortly after running into them, and iirc the only mission I went up against them without lasers was a terror mission and they mercifully went after civilians instead of my own dudes. And suppression+holo-targeting and that one assault talent that gives you a free close-range reaction shot, makes those guys pretty weak.

        They did, however, put the last nail in my coffin in one of my two ironman attempts.

  21. ceb says:

    So.. Is this supposed to happen?

    Landing in a graveyard. Fittingly enough. Nice to know one is close to home.

    Deploying down the ramp, spotting globes 45 deg left and right. (8 out of 10 its a waste, the other 2 times it saves lives )

    And surely, 3 Muts 2 o’clock. Soften two of them up with a schreder ( the last is oor ). Then miss miss miss etc. End of turn.

    Alien activity: 3 Thin men spawn 11 o’clock about 5 meters out. ( and i have basically not moved from the ramp yet ). And as a bonus the 3 Mut’s teleport(?) on top of my point man ( 2 meters out at 1 o’clock ) in a line like they are in a fkn parade.

    Painfull story short: lives were lost. And since I Ironman: Thats all she wrote.

    After three minutes sitting on my hands, the urge to let my pc fly from the 7th floor gave way for an urge to sitevisit the dev’s. Then hours later i canceled the fight tickets and the stun gun order and wrote this instead.

    So, anyone else have this happen? And are there more joys like this to expect?

    • Cocapelli says:

      never go up the ramp. it is a tactical deathtrap. assault through the graveyard.

      yes. there is tons where that came from. there are not that many maps, but they were designed beautifully.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Indeed, last night I lost a map because for some reason an alien wouldn’t display was not visible/targetable. It was standing in a parking lot! :(

      II run and gun up next to a muton, he is invisible, so I run another up, still invisible, I figure it is a glitch but keep trying, and then he nades all my men.

      Anyway time to start over.

  22. varangian says:

    @Alec The ones on the rooftops are particularly deadly as the cramped, indoor spaces my soldiers are stuck in down below make it very tough to get a clear shot at them.

    My guys legged it swiftly out of the observatory and sneaked round the outside and got the VIP to the Skyranger with just some minor poisoning to worry about. Then the idiot refuses to get on the bird and the mission can’t be ended successfully. Alien bugs are sometimes less of a problem than coding ones. Fortunately I’m on marshmallow man mode and a re-start got me there next time around.

    I agree with Alec’s comment about it being a fine mission and I think that’s because the map is of a decent size and configuration. Bugs and minor niggles aside my only real disappointment with XCOM is that many of the mission areas are too cramped. On some missions the first trooper takes his/her first half turn forward and it’s immediate contact followed by a slugging match that hardly moves from the jump off point. And the bomb defuse mission where the first power node to tackle is right in front of the start point and the rest form a breadcrumb trail that would – if unopposed – take only a few turns to traverse is a bit silly.

    I know huge maps where you’d spend 10 minutes wandering around trying to find the enemy would get boring but it’s the missions where I spend at least a few turns moving around not knowing exactly where the bastards are and wondering if I’m being flanked, fretting over whether the disperse the squad to cover all the angles or keep them together, that are the most satisfying. A bit more tactical space to allow fall back and regroup manoeuvres and the nasty possibility of those ‘They’re all around us, man’ moments would be high on my wishlist.

    • Vurogj says:

      I’ve had one observatory extraction mission, and it’s been by a distance my favourite so far.
      I went in with 2 support, 2 heavy, sniper and assault. Highlights were the heavies getting poisoned and rushing back to the supports repeatedly (3xmedikit use), the dirty cheat spawn thin man landing three squares away from my sniper who I’d snuck onto a roof *BOOM*, and the crowning glory was the assault bursting through the last building only to be shot at by another hiding thin man. Lightning Reflexes, turn, bang. Scientist, get thee to the extraction point, we’re all done. I couldn’t have scripted that mission better if I’d tried.

      As a proper response varangian, I agree with almost everything you say about the maps. Instant contact feels so wrong, doesn’t the skyranger pilot see the aliens and move slightly so he/she can land on them?

    • cspkg says:

      The observatory and bridge levels have been my favourites. I felt like a proper badass negotiating those. It helps that sniper radar ‘grenades’ are actually useful.

      The swamps have been nothing but muggings on my hapless numpties. How does having no cover in a cover-based game equate to a fun time I hear them sob. I wish I had answers.

    • inomisu says:

      I see you haven’t played the original game…there were times you’d land and get a grenade IN the ship before you could get people out! That’s why people loved the game- it isn’t fair, and it doesn’t try to be. Besides, the ridiculously small maps put the snipers at a disadvantage, otherwise why not go with three snipers all the time? One map I was on, 10 mutons activated on turn 1. Teaches you to not be complacent!

      Finally finished Normal Ironman, took six tries and almost 50 hours combined. I know, most of you finished it in 30 minutes or less. I never did manage to capture a berserker, even at 95%. Am I just unlucky, or is there a trick to it?

  23. f1x says:

    I started straight away with Classic mode, (with tutorial enabled), and I’m enjoying it, I’m abusing the save/load a lot tho, but its good to get you into knowing how to play

    After I finish Classic, I will go Classic/Ironman and customize all the chars with Game of Thrones names, as I think they will get killed quite fast… :D

  24. The Tupper says:

    I really wish people would stop writing exciting things about this and ‘Dishonored’.

    I have fifty quid in my Steam Wallet specifically so I can take advantage of the sales I keep missing. The idea that XCom is a coupla clicks away is tantalising.

    But I must be strong.

    • cspkg says:

      Absolutely. You must buy Dishonored first. It is redonkulousky good and nowhere near as brutal as XCOM, even on ‘very hard’.

  25. 0over0 says:

    When I had a Terror mission early on–still didn’t have any advanced weapons or armor because I was taking it slowly–I decided, screw the civilians. My top priority was that my squad all survive. So they laid low and, by the end, we saved 2 civilians but, more important, none of the squad died!
    Quite a few aliens got away–oh, well, get them next time and all that. I’m just glad they got that last civilian before they realized my squaddies were all near death.

  26. Snowskeeper says:

    This article made me feel slightly less horrible about my last mission.

    Recording it here because nobody will probably care:

    Everything was going well; my squad, composed of a sniper, two supports, an assault, a rookie, and a heavy (the heavy had been with me since the beginning of the game, and for some reason no one else wanted to be a heavy), had taken down a few floaters and were advancing on the UFO I’d shot down. It wasn’t even a big one; it had exactly two rooms.

    Some Mutons and the ship’s Outsider showed up, and we softened them up fairly quickly. The Outsider was down, and, though none of the Mutons were down due to some really weird unit placement issues, they were all within three health thingies of death. An alien tossed a grenade, killing a rookie I’d placed too close to the entrance… And that’s when four out of my five remaining units panicked.

    Three of them, including the Sniper, the Assault, and one of the Supports, decided it would be a good idea to see if the Aliens would accept them if they started shooting each other. My Heavy chose to run straight into the open, and the Sniper shot him for it. The Assault shot the Support and failed to kill him, and the Support returned fire, putting him down. Next turn, a squad of Thin Men came out of the underbrush and wasted the Support. I ordered my lone surviving unit, a Support equipped with nothing more than a laser rifle and some Carapace armour (he’d already used his Smoke Grenade and healing kit, to hide the Sniper and to heal the Assault, respectively) to dash back to a nearby tree.

    This is when this tale magically shifts from one of despair to one of pure and utter awesome.

    The Mutons ran straight towards him, as did the Thin Men. The Thin Men also chose to take pot-shots, destroying the tree, but the Support shot down one of the Mutons and managed to avoid taking any damage whatsoever. Ditto next turn, ditto next turn. Miss after miss after miss from the Aliens, and kill after kill after kill from the Support.

    Finally, there was no one left on the battlefield but the Support.

    Needless to say, his nickname now reads ‘Asshole.’

    • vakthoth says:

      I love it. Haven’t had one of those last man standing situations myself yet. And I’ve gotten so lucky with my dudes panicking; I think they’ve engaged in friendly fire only once or twice. More often they shoot aliens (with surprisingly good accuracy, at that), and the rest of the time they do nothing. Big change from the original, where if a guy panicked you could pretty much guarantee that he would shoot another one of your soldiers six times or so. Seems to make more sense the way it is now.

  27. jmtd says:

    The dead person in the first pick looks just like M Bison.

  28. Santiaguito says:

    Well, numbers have been working for me..a little actually. On my first playthrough at classic ironman, i wiped my main squad miserably, and then got a terror mission….i standed on mission control, with the cursor over the launch mission button, knowing that 3 rookies and a sniper wouldn’t be able to complete a “very difficult” mission, but i went in anyways. The result, however, was great: i saved 14 out of 18 civilians, and killed like 14 aliens, chrysalids and floaters mostly, with the team of rookies. Only 2 of them died, and one did after stunning a floater. So you do have those times where numbers work against you in a horrible manner, but there are times where the most unexpected result comes through.
    An amazing game, fellas.

  29. SentientNr6 says:

    Where’s episode #6?
    Why is it taking so long?
    Maybe something happened to Alec?
    Maybe it’s one of those Universes where the aliens win?
    Yup I fear it’s a wipe.
    Too bad since I really liked this series.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>