XCOM: Diary of a Wimpy Squad #3 – Coinky-Dink

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.

Smith misses.
Procter misses.
Ellison misses.
Griliopoulos misses.

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.

Procter misses.
Ellison misses.
Griliopoulos misses.

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.


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.


  1. noom says:

    Very much enjoying XCOM so far, but 12 hours into my first game, it’s all been a touch too easy. Rather think Classic may have been the difficulty to go for, rather than Normal.

    Ah well, next playthough will be Classic Iron Man, certainly.

    • AmateurScience says:

      Classic is definitely the sweet spot for me, can’t wait to get home and get some more playtime!

    • Filden says:

      I like Classic, but Normal mode doesn’t do a good job of preparing you for Classic difficulty, IMO. It’s almost a different game. Might want to take some time just playing in vanilla Classic figuring out how to survive before you go full Ironman, or you’re in for quite a system shock.

      • noom says:

        Warning noted. Guess I’ll test the water a bit first :)

      • S Jay says:

        Very true, I went from Normal Ironman to Classic Ironman and I just made a fool of myself.

      • Cleave says:

        Just finished on normal and while it felt kinda hard i didn’t actually lose much. Only lost a couple of key guys towards the end. I thought I was about to lose it as panic levels were rising and 4 countries had already bugged out when I realised I had everything I needed to go finish the game :) I imagine the strategic layer is a lot harsher in classic, looking forward to it.

        I wish the campaign was more open like a civ game. It seems a bit too structured with the technologies and missions you have to do to advance, and I’m not keen on how the enemies just sit dormant until you activate them. Also the levels repeat themselves a lot despite the dev’s claims before launch, really wish it had random maps. Never mind though, still one of the best games I’ve played in years. Plenty of room for improvement in the sequel though :)

    • Iceman346 says:

      Normal picks up a bit when Crysalids (horrible enemies, I loathe them) and Mutons with plasma rifles (not the light variant) appear. But all in all I too find it a bit easy, lost about 3 soldiers so far and most of my squad is already on the highest rank or close to it.

      So yeah, don’t know about ironman but I will certainly go classic for my next playthrough.

    • lagga says:

      How does ironman vary from normal? I’d assume perma-death for your soldiers but doesn’t that happen anyway?

      • Iceman346 says:

        With ironman the game autosaves and you only get one save slot. So every action you take is permanent.

      • Filden says:

        Ironman mode doesn’t allow re-loading or restarting a mission if it goes horribly wrong, or you make some stupid mistake, or didn’t understand the way something works, or the game glitches out, or you just want to do better. But it’s useful to be able to do those things when you first start on Classic difficulty, and realize everything you were doing on Normal difficulty no longer works. You have to learn how to really play the game, and Ironman can make it extremely frustrating to do that when your ignorance digs you into a hole you can’t get out of, and you cant reload something to see exactly what you’re doing wrong.

        I had a couple friends go right into Classic Ironman, and rage quit the game. I love Classic difficulty, but it’s definitely rough to start out in Ironman before you know how to play it. You’ll make plenty of mistakes and take enough losses as it is, without having to fight your own learning curve as well.

        • lagga says:

          Ah cheers, yeh might give that a miss till I get a proper grasp on the game then :D

        • Soulless says:

          Did they rage quit and not play again? Didn’t they know what sort of pain they were getting themselves into in the first place?

          I myself tried classic Ironman straight away.. it wasn’t pretty had about 5 hours of play and about 30 deaths. Definately need to brush up on my tactical thinking and learn the ins and outs first.

    • Belsameth says:

      I found Normal slightly too easy as well so restarted at Classic. I’m now down to 7 soldiers and have no cash to hire more. 2 are in the hospital. It is brutal!

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Yeah I would have agreed with you last night except I’m 13 hours in on normal and just lost half my squad on the last mission. I hadn’t lost anyone until a few missions ago though, it definitely felt too easy, but then suddenly I lost a rookie one mission, then my most decorated Sniper who had just reached Colonel on the next, and now 3 soldiers in one mission! It’s those damn Beserkers needing a whole team’s worth of firepower to bring down, meaning you’ve got noone left on Overwatch when a squad of mutons or likewise march in on you.

      • Zenicetus says:

        There are some difficulty spikes in Normal that can be frustrating, but they’re good for learning what mistakes you’re making.

        For example, I was playing too cautiously with explosives with my first run-through at Normal, trying to preserve loot. Everything was going swimmingly and the game was starting to feel way too easy, when suddenly we shot down a Large UFO and were swarmed by Chrysalids on the approach. I hadn’t learned the lesson of “use grenades and rockets when you need to!”, so…. squad wipe.

        So I started equipping more grenades. I’m on a Classic game now — voluntary Ironman with reloads only for total mission wipes, because I haven’t figured out everything about the economy, and a wipe really kills your finances.

      • DClark says:

        When it first appeared on the battlefield the Muton Berserker scared the hell out of me, but I’ve learned to cope with them thanks to my mission saviours “Plasma Sniper Rifle” and “Double Tap”. I set up two snipers on high ground and that gives me up to four shots to quickly thin the enemy.

        I’ve also learned to play “Berserker Ping-Pong” to my advantage. When you hit a Berserker he will charge at whoever hit him, so during your move you can actually lead him into view of your snipers or away from a fragile squadmate just by shooting at him with another squadmate.

        • Cleave says:

          My kick ass British sniper Sophie Green saved me from disaster on many occasions. She was with me from the start of the campaign and I kinda fell in love with her, sacrificing a couple of good men to save her. I might have to recreate her on my next play through :)

          • DClark says:

            My main sniper was an american named Christine “Snake Eyes” Clark. She was part of my initial collection of soldiers and I started using her simply because she had my last name. Then she got the sniper rank and kept making the important shots so I would use her whenever healthy; she got ‘gravely wounded’ a couple times but ended up taking the last shot in the game to floor the final boss from the next room.

    • Oak says:

      I felt the same at first, but it’s become pretty challenging since around the first terror mission (of course). The game could probably do with a new difficulty level between normal and classic, but having played both, I much prefer normal. Classic is murderously difficult; if you can’t keep constant pace with it, you’re doomed. By the end of my campaign (a mere 3 months in) I was just throwing rookies into the grinder while panic levels kept rising and rising.

      Conversely, normal gives you some wiggle room – perhaps a little too much – before it turns up the heat. I was able to get some satellites up and quality soldiers trained before I started taking regular casualties. And because my soldiers had had time to make an impression, when I did start taking casualties, it stung.

      • DarkMalice says:

        My normal-ironman game was going swimmingly, a bit too well I thought. I confidently flung my armoured squad of 4 captains and subordinates into the alien base, laser and plasma rifles freshly polished for the occasion… the amount of blood was disturbing.
        So with my highest ranking officer home (I couldn’t risk sending her, being a scottish sniper named after my fiance after all) I brought up 5 rookies for her to train out in the field. She made it out with 2 alive. Next mission, a terror mission, they all died in brutal fashion.
        So today I’m starting over lol. American GI Joe voices and non-customisable nationalities aside, it’s feckin brilliant.

      • Lemming says:

        I feel like ‘classic’ mode is a bit misleading, because while that’s accurate in terms of the tactical combat being just as challenging, the whole game itself is going at a much faster pace than the original UFO did, and that drags it into unfair territory, IMO.

        With the pace it sets, it means the choices you make between missions are no longer true choices. It means you have to make the correct choice, or you’ll just fail. I don’t like that. They should maintain the leeway in research and engineering that the original had rather than feeling like its “oh you didn’t research laser weapons the second the option came up, did you? WELL NOW YOU ARE FUCKED, MATE!”

    • Myros says:

      I’m really wishing for a difficulty level between normal and classic. One seems to easy and the other throws me to the ground and stomps my head in.

      • Filden says:

        Normal-> Normal + Ironman-> Classic-> Classic + Ironman

        • running fungus says:

          I was definitely wishing for a 1.5x Normal until the lightbulb went off last night and I figured my approach to Classic was all wrong. It’s been a completely different game since, and I won’t go back to Normal.

          • dglenny says:

            Perhaps you could share your lightbulb moment, then, as I’m in the same boat.

        • Myros says:

          Normal+ironman is fairly pointless, in my normal playthrough I never felt tempted to reload once – there was no need. I lost a few soldiers sure, but there was plenty of backups.

          In my most recent classic adventure at the end of the first month 2 nations have already canceled funding and 3 or 4 more are close (Ive had no oppurtunity to do anything about them), Ive got funding of 80/month the game started me off with no officers training module and Ive lost 8 soldiers, and no free satelite this time around. Brutal is right :) Even so, it was still fun.

          • Filden says:

            I don’t see that as pointless, though. Normal + Ironman lets people experience the typical RPG progression of evolving into godlike beings, while only punishing them if they make a particularly bad mistake. They get to experience Victory, while getting a taste of a few deaths along the way. I think that’s probably what most of the public is after, at least on a first playthrough. Whereas in Classic mode, it becomes almost a puzzle game where you have to do everything right, and will face constant setbacks, though it is completely survivable if you take the time to learn to play.

            And it should be pointed out that Ironman changes any difficulty. Even if they don’t make use of mission re-starts, just knowing that they *could* changes the way someone plays.

            I see both vanilla Normal and Classic as practice modes for their respective Ironman variants. It’s just that a lot of people jump into Classic Ironman mode, without having taken the time to practice it with educational mission do-overs first, and pronounce it too difficult.

    • Soon says:

      My first mission in classic (having skipped the tutorial) resulted in a death on the alien’s first turn, which caused a unit to panic and shoot a squad member dead, which caused another unit to panic and shoot that squad member dead. I’m left with a single panicked unit who then gets shot by a sectoid.

      Must have inspired a lot confidence in the World’s leaders that one.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        My classic Ironman was going well until about month 3 when I lost 4 countries and about 6 soldiers. Damn Mutons with rifles.

        You have so little money in Classic compared to normal/tutorial. Still I think I will beat it, I have a solid core of men and a lot of important upgrades.

        • Raitanator says:

          Doing my first playthrough in classic. I though, I save the ironman for the second. And it hasn’t been a bad choice. I think, I would rage, too, because there are some dumb mistakes one can make (like trying to stun a floater at last turn).

          Classic doesn’t feel too bad, but then again, I have been wishing current generation games to offer same kind of challenge that games had ten years ago. Feels almost like returning home, or something.

    • xenogrant says:

      i think i’m pretty far into the game, with disc thingies appearing now and then, and i haven’t lost a single guy on normal. Does feel too easy.

      • Filden says:

        The game has nastier things in store than the disk thingy.

        The game is really great at springing something new on you just when you thought you’ve seen the worst it has to offer. There’s always a new , “Oh **** what the hell is that??”, moment.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          I agree.

        • Oak says:

          It really is. It’s made me audibly gasp like a dork several times now. The first cyberdisk, in fact, shocked me pretty good. Poor Huxley was caught out in the open when it went into that firing animation…

      • xenogrant says:

        Unlocked: Oct 13, 2012 5:33pm
        In a single game, complete every Autopsy.

        27 hours played on normal, still haven’t lost a single guy, if anything the game is getting progressively easier as it nears the end.

    • Lambchops says:

      I started with Normal and haven’t changed yet. I’m perhaps finding the missions a bit on the easy side but I know if I turn up the difficulty I’ll stuff up the finance aspect of the game something awful.

    • Carbonated Dan says:

      I too have tales to tell, but I’d rather praise XCOM for giving everyone so many stories; it’s like the DayZ of strategy gaming :D

    • Captain Joyless says:

      Been playing only on Impossible w/ Ironman enabled. It’s still kind of simplistic. Some of the challenge just comes from AI cheating in tactical deployments (when I reach a scripted point, an annoying cutscene plays, and suddenly 3 sectoids appear and all get to move to cover.) Ultimately it is interesting but it is not a legitimate tactical challenge.

      The game is appropriately punishing if you don’t play correctly; my first Impossible mission took me 3-4 tries to win. After that, though, I rarely lose a soldier any more.

      • agauntpanda says:

        No world statistics yet but no forum threads around have announced an Impossible Ironman win. I’ll be rooting for you!

      • Eskatos says:

        If you have people on overwatch they’ll get a chance to shoot when you first see aliens. Otherwise you’re out of luck.

      • bglamb says:

        That’s not a feature of ‘Impossible’, that’s just how the game plays.

        Before they are discovered, the aliens move as a squad. When they see you, they get a free move to the nearest bit of cover and then end their turns.

        It doesn’t feel unrealistic to me, and it doesn’t feel unfair, as they could just as easily have been moving from cover to cover like I am.

        • Cleave says:

          Do they actually move though before they’re discovered? It seems like groups of them are just waiting around for you to get line of sight on them then they move. I’d be happy to be proven wrong on this mind.

          • AgentK says:

            Yeah they definately move around before being discovered, I’ve had groups of them appear during the enemy turn and you still get the cut-scene and them scampering for cover when they get in your line of sight.

          • socrate says:

            no they don’t using the sniper battle scanner you can see that everything in this game is totally scripted and dull they start moving toward you out of line of sight only when you are near them….no roamer so far…they can also call out your position and get other alien to come and rush you

            This game is just way overhyped and put on a high ranking for no reason at all…the tactic is almost non existent because everything is scripted and already set in stone…shot aren’t even physical and the outcome depend only on the badly made % they give you.

            it is also extremely linear game compared to x-com ufo defence which instead gave you a chance to do whatever you actually wanted to,in classic you are pretty much just following a pre made path while minimising your lost. and on top of that x-com ufo defence used tactic instead of plainly setting up preset scenario which tend to put you at a major dissadvantage because they have bad AI that repeat the same pattern over and over again

            its funny how people hate diablo3 so much but this game as as much bad thing going against it and still is claimed to be a good game…il never get gamer these days

          • Listlurker says:

            Yes, some groups move and patrol on their own, while others don’t “wake up” until they “hear” you (i.e. your troops physically come within a certain radius of them. This last is what poster socrate was seeing with his sniper battle scanner, although he interpreted it incorrectly.

    • Kohlrabi says:

      Sadly, my several tries on Classic have always resulted in frustration due to the seemingly blown up hit and crit chance of the aliens. A lucky crit more often than not takes out a well covered soldier, making Classic a game of chance rather than a game of tactics.

      I’d like to see a mode between Normal and Classic with the unshackled AI, slight buffs to alien damage output and HP, but NO brutal increase in hit and crit chance. Thinking of it, why don’t Firaxis just offer a “Game Setup” screen, like in Civilization, where you can fine tune all of these variables to your liking?

      • Captain Joyless says:

        This is certainly frustrating on Impossible too. It seems like aliens have something like a 40% chance to kill a soldier even in full cover.

        There are some other frustrations I have with the whole cover system, too. Like shooting someone not in cover who nonetheless should not have LOS from his attacker. Especially when the z-axis is a factor. Also when your character is diagonally behind a piece of full cover, it essentially counts as 0 cover. And bullets just pass right through it.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          You wopuldn’t have much chance of beating missions if that was actually true. But they are beatable.

      • Filden says:

        It does seem impossible at first, but if you take the time, you find out that all it really requires is just getting rid of the bad habits that Normal mode lets you develop.

        For instance, the only reliable cover in Classic is Line of Sight. No more running forward, taking cover behind a potted plant and trading fire. Those soft cover icons should be tombstones instead of shields, because they are deathtraps. Soft cover should be seen as an act of desperation, equivalent to prayer.

        Classic is a puzzle exercise in dispatching enemies in the most efficient manner possible, without taking any fire at all…killing them without them having the chance to target you. Advance armor tech will sometimes let you survive a mistake or two, but generally you should aim for not getting hit at all, especially early on with no armor and punitive healing downtime.

        • subedii says:

          Having played for a while on Classic Ironman mode, I basically agree with this sentiment.

          What you need to understand is that this game’s combat all boils down to likelihoods and percentage chances. Even the most unlikely chance to hit is still a chance (for you OR them). So if you keep taking risks with your troops, they WILL die. If you get into situations where you’re constantly trading fire at 25% chance and waiting for that one chance to hit, why should that be any different for the enemy?

          At which point it becomes far more about managing that risk and the situations in which it occurs. You don’t want to be trading blows. You begin to realise how important and powerful flanking is, and how dangerous blindly advancing into the unknown is (and there’s a tension between these two). You stop hoarding your abilities and resources as much so that you can end engagements quickly.

          One of the most important things to realise is that an engagement in which both you and the enemy have a 30% chance to hit doesn’t mean you’ve got to keep firing until you hit. It means that the engagement is one where they’ve got just as much chance of killing you as you have of them.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        If you have the time and nerves, the damage / panic increase / panic decrease etc variables are all stored within the main exe in plain text IF you have access to the, er, uh, “unencrypted” version.

        Theoretically you could cobble together your own version of the game, including one where you do NOT get a panic penalty in 2 countries for saving 1 and not getting a chance to do all 3(though that might actually stop the wild goose chase panic-flood the game tries to do on classic).

        There’s a ton of stuff you can tweak, but apparently the way it works you really have to hexedit / resource hack the main executeable. There are discussion threads up about this already.

        I agree that there should be very fine-grain option switches you can comfortably flip instead.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Clearly I’m rubbish then, because I’m only just coping on Normal.

      (although I only did the Alien Base mission last night. The only loss was my SHIV which took out 6 crisilids on it’s own, and I stunned the *redacted* commander first shot. As far as I’m concerned, that was a perfect mission)

    • Eddy9000 says:

      My main problems been on the world map rather than combat, on classic panic just seems to run rife no matter whether I win or lose battles. Lost 4 countries funding already and just can’t seem to produce new fighters and weapons for the larger ufos quick enough. It’s easy to get to a point where my funding drops and I can’t produce satellites quick enough to cope with panic levels and I landslide quickly into an unwinnable situation. Which to be fair is just like I remember Xcom.

      • Lowbrow says:

        One trick I’ve found is to save your satellites for the end of the month, and only use them on countries in full panic. This will get you less funds, but keep the countries in. Of course I hit a bit of a cliff later on when my top squad got split off and killed one by four and I’m thinking of abandoning this game, but I’ve got plenty of countries still in and spare satellite coverage.

        Dear lord don’t be like me,late game with only squaddies. They can’t hit the broadside of a barn when aiming, but their panic/mind controlled shots target your last remaining sniper .

      • Filden says:

        One of the turning points for me on the strategy end, was when I realized you could make more than one satellite at a time. They always take 20 days, but it’s the same 20 days for 1 sat or 3. They’re pretty cheap, so it’s best to order them in bulk when you can. The real bottleneck is Uplinks and engineer count, but at least you can always have a Sat on hand to launch as soon as it’s possible to do so.

    • yurusei says:

      Normal was a cakewalk, especially if you save-scum. Lost only one corporal to stupidity.

      Here’s a challenge for RPS readers : Would you dare to go Classic and equip your assaults only with shotguns?

  2. Arathain says:

    Great stuff, Alec. I love it when a mission comes together like that. You are brilliantly, affectionately snide.

    I’m sorry to report that Lt. ‘Hulk’ Meer faced similar circumstances, and got one shotted by a perfect blast from a Thin Man, while moving up to get in rocket range. If it’s any consolation ‘Hardcore’ Quinns went first, similarly one shotted by the first plasma shot of the mission.

    • Carbonated Dan says:

      Sgt Meer, are you playing classic or normal?
      sorry, this was meant to be a comment in its own right :s

  3. AndrewC says:

    ‘This is like when he cheekily gets his mates to write the Bargain Bucket for him all over again.’

    Tee hee! Don’t worry, he’ll be great againt the green man-aliens.

  4. Allenomura says:

    Great series of articles, but I am also interested in how your strategy layer decisions are holding up, and which upgrades you’ve opted to research – anything worth mentioning on that front?

  5. melnificent says:

    “The aliens shall cower in fear at his unpronounceable surname,”……. Grill a porpoise?

  6. Sleepymatt says:

    What, still no Grayson? I know he lives on the other side of the #nooceans, but seriously, what does the man have to do to get a piece of the action?! I’ve probably just sealed his fate to be one-shotted when he arrives now….

  7. Yosharian says:

    This game is fucking amazing, seriously. I’m having so much fun, I’ve barely touched Dishonored.

  8. Dozer says:

    A non-lethal takedown is always the most silent takedown.

    • Skabooga says:

      Stick with the prod, ‘ck with the prod. Just in case, though, we’re police.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Welcome to the coalition, JC. I might as well start using coke.

        • Boarnoah says:

          Ha! I am playing Deus Ex for the first time myself (right now) and got that reference.

          I feel proud of meself.

  9. sinister agent says:

    Wow. Was Lewie a character model for this game or something? The resemblance is uncanny.

  10. rustybroomhandle says:

    Loving the game and not regretting selling a kidney to be able to play it.

    Gotta say though, when I was first asked where I wanted my base, USA or Europe, I wondered if Europe meant I would have had to wait 5 days before I got to deploy there.

  11. Victuz says:

    I almost bought it.
    Than I realized it doesn’t work with windows XP…


    • Skabooga says:

      I’ve heard tell there are serviceable workarounds for getting XCOM to work on XP. I remember seeing something to that effect in the comments of either a previous ‘Diary of Wimpy Squad’ entry or general XCOM article.

  12. running fungus says:

    Early game, squad of four on Classic, at a crashed UFO site. Two soldiers side by side behind 2-wide rock outcrop, both on overwatch. Third soldier moves ahead and triggers alien movement. It’s also their turn, one takes a shot, and hits the leads soldier for 2 points of damage. Well, this soldier FREAKS OUT. Thankfully stays behind cover. But she’s spooked soldier #2 behind the rock outcrop, who up and shoots his buddy crouched next to him in the face. Buddy freaks out, shoots the guy who just shot him. Then they all pant like rabid puppies while the sniper who had lagged due to overwatching last turn catches up and just shakes his head.

    • TCM says:

      Panic Chains: Like the tantrum spirals in Dwarf Fortress, but not as deadly.

    • Lambchops says:

      I’d got in the habit of moving rookies forward first in case the aliens come from a direction I didn’t anticipate so they can be cannon fodder if they end up in the open. One mission I accidentally did this with my most upgraded veteran (the heavy that survived the tutorial). The aliens came from a direction that left him and a rookie completely exposed. Sure enough the aliens took out the hapless new recruit . . . but then something brilliant happened. My badass veteran of many missions panicked! Maybe you would if you saw someone blasted into a pulp and knew you were next! This may sound like a disaster but he panicked as a veteran should, by running around to the correct side of the cover and firing wildly at nothing. The aliens next shots missed him and he lived to fight another day.

      I love this game.

  13. Unrein says:

    I do encourage people to play on Classic, even if it can kick your ass if you’re not careful. I had to restart a few times, but once I got through the first month, month and a half things started to get a bit easier. The game still keeps you on your toes, but bad luck isn’t quite the shot in the knee it is in the very beginning. Take your time on the tactical layer and stuff the world full of satellites on the strategic layer and your chances to win rise exponentially!

    • Joshua Northey says:

      My proudest moment by far came on my classic ironman where on the first terror mission it was like 4 cryssalids + 4 zombies they made r8igth away plus 8 floaters vs my sorry bunch of rookies (everyone was wounded). Somehow through a complicated and crazy fight through the building I managed to get out with everyone alive, and most of the civilians. Each round I was one unlucky miss from disaster. The squad twirling and spining, and occasionally running from room to room. Once I ran through the enemy line to the other side of them to reposition.

      It is so hard to take those things down with just the default assault rifle.

      • Cleave says:

        When a soldier dies or gets wounded all his equipment is made available for other soldiers. Works that way in normal at least (was so glad of that after the soldier I’d just given my first plasma rifle to got surrounded by mutons right at the start of a mission and snuffed it in the first turn).

  14. Papageno says:

    I love the shout-outs to famous names past and present: so far I have a Mike Wallace, a Mary Martin, and I’m sure there will be more surprises to come.

    • deejayem says:

      My squad consists of members of England’s 2005 Ashes team. Appropriately, Steve Harmison’s first shot was a wild miss.

      As a side-effect, my brain insists on hearing all the on-screen messages in the voice of Richie Benaud. Little things …

  15. Jorum says:

    Jumped straight in at classic ironman.
    First 6 missions were brutal, but the few survivors got levelled up.
    Then things seemed much more controlled. Several missions with no losses , then a terror mission where we kicked aliens hard with not a scratch and only 4 civilian lost.

    At this point I was wondering if it was a little too easy….

    Then Manchester happened. Total wipe.
    Three of my five skilled soldiers lost, including my highest rank, medic and heavy.
    United Kingdom has withdrawn it’s funding.

    Since then has been a desperate struggle to get back up to speed.

    As of current save (mid-battle), the only two skilled soldiers I have in whole barracks are the only two still standing after first brutal encounter with mutons in a building site.
    Fortunately they include Mary “Wardog” Maudry, a hyper-aggressive Irish women with a shotgun. Only one floater left, so I think they are gonna make it.
    But financially the whole project is not looking good at all.

  16. AngusPrune says:

    I don’t know what it is about this game, but I get vastly more attached to my soldiers than I ever have in any previous Laser Squad clone. Deaths of my favourite soldiers often cause me to rage quit (grief quit?) a campaign even though I was doing well other than the jammy critical headshot that felled my man.

    For example, in one game my favourite assault commando who specialised in the Sectoid two-for-one bought it. He’d executed a fantastic attack whereby he’d leapt through a plate glass window in to a pub, jumped the bar and shot dead a mind-melding sectoid before anyone could say jack about it. Of course their little grey buddies weren’t enthused and three more of them opened up on him next turn, blowing the bar away and seriously wounding him. Time to get out of there. My support lays down a smoke grenade and plucky Lewis runs back to the hard cover in the doorway. Two angry Sectoids try and take potshots at him, but the obscuring smoke and the hard cover mean they miss by a country mile. I can’t spare my medic from the fight to patch him up, so I figure the best thing to do is just have him run to the back of the car park and hunker down until the fire fight is over, and next turn he does just that. Unfortunately, an overwatching floater picked him up as he ran and scored a lucky long-range hit from all the way across the car park and he was dead before he hit the ground. The worst part is if I’d just taken my sniper’s turn first, I probably would have shot the damn thing dead. Argh. Poor Lewis.

    This really is a great game. I still miss my trusty MarSec rifle though.

  17. Sorbicol says:

    Playing normal ironman for my first run through and thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve had a few niggles, mostly being the complete lack of assault soldiers spawning on level up, and one mission with a sectors hiding out on the roof for 40 minutes where I couldn’t shoot it. Annoying. Only other issue is the terrible camera angles when working through enclosed spaces.

    The economy system is interesting. The chain of satellite uplink, satellite & interceptors to protect it though is a little bit too much though. An entire months budget or get one in the air seems a little bit excessive. All that said though one good UFO mission can bring in a lot of money selling damaged goods on the grey markets.

    Overall it’s fantastic. Lacks the terror of X-COM but certainly keeps the suspense, the tactical combat is a lesson in staying patient!

  18. DXN says:

    As someone who always tried to save every marine in Halo (and equivalent in other games), this game is torture for me! I can’t stand to lose anyone, especially anyone who’s above Corporal-rank or so… and yet, I love it so, haha. :D

  19. Towercap says:

    Ironman classic. Just got my entire squad wiped, including my sniper and support who’ve managed to last with me since day one. ): Walked into 2 or 3 groups of thin men, picked a couple off while frantically falling back, got slaughtered. Niger’s now withdrawn financial backing and India’s on the brink of it.

  20. Listlurker says:

    Hey, is anybody else having trouble taking screenshots in the Steam version of XCom? That’s literally my only complaint.

    I know how Steam usually does it — press F12, and then look in the Program Files/Steam/steamapps/common game folder — but there’s nothing to be found this time.

    I have searched the internet, and my considerable mastery of Google-Fu has failed me for three days straight.

    I figured one of the posters at RPS would be savvy enough to know the answer.

    Thanks for reading. Sorry for the intrusion.

    • Snakejuice says:

      Try the print-screen button and ctrl+v in Paint until the Steam problem is fixed?

      • Listlurker says:

        Thanks for the assist, but that option wasn’t working either for me.

        I ended up installing the free version of the Fraps program. For someone who only wants the odd screenshot, it seems to work well. Cheers!

  21. Erithtotl says:

    I just lost my 9th Classic Ironman save.

    I lost on the strategic layer when I had to recall from an alien abduction mission. I had 6 colonel level guys but it didn’t matter. It was after the alien base and the supply ship missions and the mission was at the ruined/construction site map. The entrance was set up so that basically you had the deployment area and then a fence and then you were right in. Swarms of heavy floaters and muton elites were waiting inside and there was nowhere to pull back and form some kind of perimeter. Since even with laser weapons it takes 3-4 hits to take down one of these guys, there was no way I could hold them off before they wiped my whole squad.

    That’s probably the hardest thing I’ve found on classic difficulty. The armor levels of your enemies rise faster than the quality of your weapons (not to mention your soldier’s aim, which except for snipers never seems to get all that good). The result is that unless you can totally dictate the terms of engagement, a large number of enemies will get to you before you can take them out even if everyone is making their shots. Perhaps I’m not reserching the right techs in the right order?

    • running fungus says:

      I know that map, and every time I see it I think of Rhodes in Iron Man 2: “Don’t stay here — this is the kill box, Tony — this is where you go to die.”

    • SebbyTheFreak says:

      Its not your tech, its your deployment.

      If you can’t hit your ennemies, its not because you’re not well geared enough, its because you’re not positioning your men correctly.

      You need to learn the ennemies reactions to diverse actions and positions and deploy accordingly, and when all else fail, using explosives or heavy weapons to blow their cover. (Stray shots still damage terrain. LMGs are great for busting walls and crates)

      For exemple:

      Sectoids… just take them out with grenades

      Thin men will always try to flank you, which ironically makes them easy to flank them yourself. Concentrate all your attention on one at a time and make sure to have plenty of overwatch on your side.

      Floaters and Heavy Floaters are aggressive and dumb as all hell. They roam the map and WILL come to you at some point, so bait them and then hide your guies out of LOS at a distance that will cause them to deplete both actions on movement and end out of cover close to you. If done right, you’ll have a chance to kill them during overwatch and then have great, high-% shots immediatly after. Floaters with low HP will panic and run away, so don’t bother with floaters with low HP. They’ll run but eventually come back, by that time the others will be dead and they’ll be easy pickings. Ideally You gotta take them out all floaters first before progressing in the map.

      Standard Mutons are the other easy targets. They are aggressive but won’t fire if their hit-% is crap and play it safe, but will almost always split their group. Spot them then fall back and wait. After a few turn their bloodlust will take them over and they’ll do some really stupid stuff like running between cover trying to find you, or split to try to flank you. You will usually spot them one at a time. They’re strong, but with a full squad they die easily. IDEALLY bait them toward where they will use cars for cover. A rocket on a explodable car will instagib a muton (or three). Laser snipers with squadsight is great too.

      Chrysallises will go back and forth if they can’t reach you in one go. So use that to overwatch them to death. If their spawn movement gets them in range of your men though… well you gotta maximise your hit-% and crit-%. If they’re so close you are guaranteed to loose a man next turn if they’re not dead, don’t bother with cover and get as close to them as possible. They will reach you anyway. You want to max your crit potential to maybe kill them in one or two shots… and put your weakest guy closest, if it goes wrong, at least you’ll minimise your losses. Of course, if they do kill a guy, make sure to keep over 5 squares between you and the potential zombies. Zombies HURT.


      • Erithtotl says:

        Not to debate you here but I think you missed my comments on that map.

        There is NO WHERE TO GO.

        The moment I first did one short, hesitant move, I activated like 3 groups, 2 groups of heavy floaters and a group of elite mutons.

        They then started rushing me. My normal strategy of pulling back and making them come to me didn’t work because the enterance area is so tiny. Also, the floaters climbed to altitude and shot over the only cover (the fence) that was available. Even popping smoke didn’t work.

        It’s just a hopeless scenario.

        • running fungus says:

          Yeah, it reminds me of the holding pen gladiators are in prior to entering the arena. It’s ridiculously constrained, with very little movement possible before alien triggers (I managed to take on just 2 of the 3 at a time, though, until at least halfway through that battle). For those who don’t know the map, you’re in this tiny box the like of which no other map I’ve seen has — you can see all three borders shimmering right there on your screen without moving around. It’s odd.

  22. running fungus says:

    My furthest Classic Iron run ended a couple of hours ago, though it died in 2 stages: taking out a team of my best, and then struggling on for a few missions before the new blood was spilled anew. The rooks managed to take down a cyberdisk but fending off mutons at the same time was beyond their measure.

    Three units would have turned and fled but one was so panic stricken by the sergeant getting his head blown off that he just hunkered down by a burning car while the other two ran past, and then it blew. Mutons cut down the second while the third ran on to the extraction zone… to find there was no extraction zone. With no option to eat his own shotgun, he awaited his fate, which didn’t take long.

    This game certainly does produce drama.

  23. SebbyTheFreak says:

    To everyone who shares the pain of starting out in ironman classic… here’s the best tip I can give you.

    Don’t give up your game. Seriously. All WILL seems lost at various points, but the truth is… you can get back up. I had FOUR times where I was sure as hell I was gone for. My memorial has over … like… 50 names in it… and I’m the kind of player who always try to keep his men alive.

    At the end of the very first month, Japan withdrew and I couldn’t do anything about it. Second month had 3 more countries leave right after my fiasco at the alien base. I eventually lost a terror in europe who had the host immediatly pull the plug [I had just managed to retrain a batch of promising rookies from my original TPK at the alien base. I was still on ballistic rifles and light armor when I was hit with THREE cyberdisks, 9 drones, 5 chrysallis…. After that fight, i only had one man left in the barracks, he was the 6th man of that team who was still at the infirmary when the terror struck].

    Every single time I had trained a medic, he got assassinated in his first mission with the triple medkits.

    Yet I live.

    Not only that, yet i THRIVE. Right now my men are fully plasma-equipped, in powered or flying armour, supported by well equipped firestorms covering the skies. I’m more confident then ever, but also just as cautious. Feeling safe is the first step toward doing a big mistake.

    I guess I have a second tip…

    Never assume you killed everything in the map “but that last guy”.


    Oh yeah. I almost forgot the most important part of all parts.

    Buff your critical ratings. When done correctly, you can have a consistant 80-to-100% critical ratings whenever you really need it. It’s the only way to efficiently dispatch groups of high-health ennemies.

    In other words… never rely on luck.

  24. gbcrush says:

    So, it sounds like there’s quite a bit of difference between normal and classic. I find that interesting because I’m currently on my first play through, on classic, and am relishing in the painful lessons time learning on the strategic side (like how getting satalite coverage drives everything, from production queuing to early facility building).

    Also, I’m curious as to how you guys on classic got to plasma weapons. I researched lasers early, but only had enough resources to make one pistol. Then buoyed by my tactical success, I went and researched plasma weapons (14 days, one lab, no plasma credits) so that I could equip my squads faster than having to wait fora workshop and more alloys.

    That kept me in the game pretty well. It almost killed me too, but that’s a story of not building enough SATs. :-)

  25. Omgitsjamie says:

    My most decorated assault shoots at a beserker which causes it to advance and to use intimidate. She then panics and shoots him again. It advances further and she gets a free overwatch shot for it moving within 4 spaces. Corrie Hendricks will live forever in my heart for soloing a beserker in a single turn.