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XCOM: Diary Of Wimpy Squad #5 - Bucket List

Alexander the not-so-great

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.

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