I'm playing and diarising XCOM 2 [official site] on Commander difficulty in Iron Man mode, using characters based on the staff of RPS, replaced by readers as and when they die or go out of action. Full explanation and the story so far here here, and you can download the characters for your own game here.
Perhaps you would blame random number generation. Perhaps you blame my mismanagement of my squad. Perhaps you would blame it on the natural consequences of attempting a mission named 'Operation Death Tomb'. But I'm blaming this tragedy on Graham Smith, the Sharpshooter who missed 13 consecutive shots.
Graham, seemingly forgetting which hand his gun is in. Again.
Where once Graham was our leader, he's now a distant third to Adam and Alice, and I'm seriously considering benching him as a result of the tragic consequences of Operation Death Tomb.
The problem began in Operation Choking Prince (n.b. an actual military mission, not an optional extra available in certain saunas), which though without friendly casualties saw our crack sniper lightly wound naught more than a single Sectoid. With long-range support so inadequate, it fell instead to Ian Risingson's Gremlin, and its aptitude with electro-zapping and hacking the mess of turrets and MECs we faced, to see us through.
Risingson took a hit in the process, and was unable to attend to Operation Death Tomb - a Retaliation mission in which we had to rescue some civilians before Advent could massacre them all.
It was a challenging mission regardless of Certain Snipers' unwillingness to contribute; we had to make our way through what looked for all the world like a student union built onto a car workshop before we could even reach the main arena of conflict, and half the civvies were dead before we were even on the scene. Once we had made our way to the fight, we still had to push our way through a sort of small canyon, guarded by several Advent troopers, a Viper, a couple of Faceless and Oh God our first Muton. Death Tomb? Death Alley, more like.
Graham missed shot after shot after shot. The aliens did not, though judicious use of Flashbangs and Alice's heal-bot meant everyone stayed on the right side of dead. Our latest addition, Ranger Ian Forshadow (standing in for the injured Ian Risingson), distinguished herself.
As did Pip with her burgeoning pistol-powers.
Oh, Pip. Trusty Pip.
Already wounded by an Advent bullet, she couldn't survive the toxic spit from a Viper's maw. But that Viper was supposed to be dead. Graham was supposed to have killed it.
I was too certain of his success, and then too shocked by his failure, to capture images of the events - this is the only piece of evidence I have (click for a larger version):
1. There is Graham. Graham is in full cover. Graham is the only member of the squad with time left to take a shot; every other member of the squad has at least wounded an enemy in the moments before this scene. Graham has a perfectly clear shot to...
2. A Viper, standing in the open and already half-dead thanks to some top grenade-work from Ian ForShadow. Your grandmother could hit this. That's because your grandmother is awesome. Graham, unfortunately, is neither your grandmother or awesome. He misses, completely.
3. You can't see her, but Pip is sheltering (in full cover) behind this patch of trees, having just performed an epic take-down of...
4. A Faceless, which was recently in disguise as one of the people we were here to rescue. Killing it was a team effort, but Pip's snipe (as seen below) was the final blow. Pip is very good with a sniper rifle. Unlike someone else I might mention.
5. A correction: Pip was very good with a sniper rifle. GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!
Pip's demise was a lowly one: spat to death because her boss couldn't pull off a sure thing. Sorry, Pip. But I'll always remember you this way instead:
(Er, to clarify, that's her on the left. I meant that she was a total badass when faced with a giant monster, not that she resembled a pillar of calcified custard).
The cleanup operation sees both Ian ByteJacker and Ian ForShadow taking some nasty wounds, and Graham continuing not to hit anything. At least no-one else dies, and Alice gets to pull off a mission-ending super-shot against a final Faceless.
We go home. We don't feel good about it. And it's definitely, definitely Graham Smith's fault, not his Commander's for not making enough people shoot that Viper quickly enough or not healing Pip instead of having team medic Alice take another shot at something.
I might fire him. I should probably fire him.
Note: this diary now needs to go on hold for a short while, as in the wake of the first XCOM 2 patch my game is crashing regularly and I just can't stand it. My guess is there's a clash with one of the UI mods I have installed, but XCOM 2 prevents you from reloading a savegame made while mods were installed if you turn off any of those mods, so I'm stuck until there's an update from either end. Boo!
For more on XCOM 2, visit our XCOM 2 guide hub.