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Join the XCOM 2 character pool today!

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2560852 said:
Mutons! Don't do the stupid thing I did twice: if you melee a muton, it gets a free attack on you first, Hamedo-style. I lost two really good units that way!

[On the near-invisibility of Reapers]
Units in Shadow have a detection radius of 1, so the enemy has to walk actually right next to them. That may have happened to me on a mission where I also tried to melee a muton.
Kirin;2560918 said:
[On my propensity to leave Templars out in the open using Parry]
This is the sort of talk that makes a guy uneasy, but still, I can't really argue with getting to use Force Lightning and getting another promotion. That Bladestorm really does sound delightful! Also that looks like quite a kill-count I'm racking up.
MCBanjoMike;2561007 said:
[Don't melee a Muton]
I can't believe I forgot to mention that! It's true, melee and Mutons do not mix. There's apparently a chance that their counter will fail, but I've never seen it happen - typically they completely cancel your attack and hit you back instead. Very nasty surprise the first time it happens (and every subsequent time when you forget).

[Invisi-Reapers]
It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that Reaper stealth was better than standard stealth, and even then I don't think I knew this part.

[Templars and parrying]
Don't worry, I would never let a useful soldier die needlessly and you're still quite useful for now
Mogri;2561012 said:
UPDATE: The enemy has to walk actually right next to them and flank them. That mostly doesn't even bear mentioning, but I just ran a mission where a MEC was directly adjacent to my Reaper, who was half a tile down and therefore not flanked. One of those subway maps.

TMYK
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
As Promised: It's Infrastructure Week!

Killing aliens is fun and all, but sometimes you just wanna do some nesting, you know? Take a little staycation. So today we're just going to bum around the Avenger in our pyjamas and try to get caught up on our emails. Figuratively, anyway.



Our first task is to finish making contact with Western Europe, which gets us a little cutscene of an XCOM representative landing at the local resistance camp. But our new friends in France aren't the only ones to greet us...


It's the last of the Chosen! The Assassin is an invisible swordslady who is more dangerous than the Hunter but still a good deal less troublesome than the Warlock. Her big thing is that she goes into stealth mode on a regular basis; the best way to find her is to fan out and hope that somebody flanks her, at which point she will be revealed. There are also a few abilities that let us scan parts of the map, too, so I might invest in those before long.


Of course we can't forget about the Avatar project, which is still humming along. We're up to 6 blocks out of 12 completed, so we need to start thinking about ways to slow it down. We don't have a ton of options just yet, though.

(For people that were wondering, the map being all glowy in North Africa is a result of the Chosen hanging around in that region. If the Chosen moves, the scorch marks will follow them.)


Modular cannons, OK! Those extra mod slots will pay off down the line, even if they aren't worth much right now. There's some high-priority research that we really need to move on to soon, but completing this project inspired the decryption of an ADVENT datapad, so I spent one day doing that first and got a bit on intel for my trouble.


We're also at the point where the MEC breakdown is instantaneous, so what the heck. Tearing this thing apart nets us the ability to improve our Gremlins, which means better healing, so you know I'm interested in that. We can also research the bluescreen protocol, which is a way of developing grenades and ammo that are particularly effective against robots. Some of the nastiest enemies in the game are robots, so we'll be very interested in having some countermeasures available.


Dammit Tygan, I'm trying to research something important now, we don't have time for another breakthrough! Ugh, fine - Reaper rifles already do pretty poor damage, I can't afford to refuse a free +1 boost for the rest of the campaign. Five more days to research this and THEN we'll do something important.


We finally have enough space and enough funds, let's start building the psi lab! It won't actually take 21 days because I'm going to assign an engineer to the project. Looks like Spooky is finally going to get some time in the limelight!


Vixen comes back from a covert op with some AP for the gang and a permanent move upgrade. Good stuff!


Missions to hunt the Chosen are inherently more dangerous, but this time we can negate the risk of ambush just by sending an extra soldier along. We've got tons of nobodies to throw at these things, so I pick one at random to fill the 3rd slot. The Chosen assassination missions are long and difficult, and we're not really ready to undertake one, so there's no incentive to stick to one particular path right now. The first step is generally the one that's the least risky to complete, too.


It's the end of the month! Agent 47 is still very happy with us, but the Avatar project is making advances that we won't be able to ignore forever.


Here's our update on the Chosen: the Warlock and the Assassin are still little Chosen babies, but the Hunter has earned his first level up. He can now summon priests during missions, which is more dangerous than anything else he's done to us so far. I'm still not going to lose any sleep over it though.


And of course, our monthly Dark events! I pay some intel to reveal Signal Jamming, which is by far the worst of the three on offer. You can bet I'll be trying to stop that one next time a Guerilla Op pops up.


Time to swap our some Resistance Orders. We don't need to do any more digging right now, so instead I take a "build faster" order that we'll get some use out of. Note that I also get to assign the Skirmishers an order because we completed the first part of the hunt for the Warlock. They can only take red orders, but that's OK - I slot one in that reduces enemy hacking defense. We don't have any specialist hackers right now, but that'll change before long. Long term, we'll probably want that one that boosts the effects of PCS upgrades, but for now we only have a handful of those.


Time to go get our supply drop - $313 is a decent little sum. You have to scan for them like everything else, but it only takes 3 days and you actually get a third of the money each day, rather than a lump sum at the end. That's pretty handy if you get interrupted midway through by a mission and you want to buy some equipment.


We wrap up research on improved Vektor rifles only to have inspiration strike! I was going to get Gauss weapons soon anyway and the time that we'll save researching them will handily compensate for the 5 days it took to improve Vektors. Lucky!


A popup on the Avenger screen alerts me to the fact that I can improve the bond between Vixen and Aqua...except that I can't, actually. Leveling a bond up requires a training center, where two soldiers can undertake teambuilding exercises TOO POWERFUL to contain anywhere else in the Avenger. For now, we'll just have to imagine the kind of powers that increased friendship could bring these two.


But hey, speaking of friendship, get a load of these two! Peas in a pod, huddled far away from the dangers of the outside world.


Another covert op down, and this one gave Eric a boost to his hacking score. I celebrate by giving him the ability to hack enemy robots, which is something we should really try out at our earliest convenience.


Before we can do that, though how about another mission to boost his hacking? Sounds like a plan! I'll be happy to have that extra engineer, too.


Research is underway on Gauss weapons, but we're gonna need a whole bunch of alien alloys if we want to actually pay for all those new guns. I swing by the black market and spend a bit of intel to get some. Alien Alloys and Elerium are too semi-limited resources that you pick up from completing certain mission types (think supply raids) or clearing out some of the deeper rooms in the Avenger. We're surprisingly OK for Elerium right now beceause I shielded that first power coil pretty early in the campaign.


We were promised another alien facility "imminently" and here it is. This one is located in New Chile (almost all the regions are "New" something, which definitely begs the question of what happened to Old Chile), which is two steps away from us right now. But distance isn't our only problem:


The facility is guarded by a dangerous enemy. This would be one of the Alien Rulers, which are added to the game by the paid DLC of the same name. Supposedly these are test subjects of Dr. Vahlen, the head scientist from Enemy Unknown who had a fascination with dissecting aliens to see what makes them tick. This is my first time playing with this DLC, so I'm curious to see how well I'll be able to handle them. They're basically souped-up versions of a Muton Berserker, a Viper and an Archon that have a ton of hitpoints and that get a free move every time your squad does...basically anything. Should be fun!


While we can't do any missions in South America yet, ironically we can stop by and see our friends the Skirmishers at their home base here any time we want. Spending time scanning here boosts construction speed, which is handy because we have a couple of rooms under construction right now. Speaking of which...


...our psi lab is ready! You can only train rookies to be psi operatives, which is why we've been keeping Spooky on the bench for so long. Now we can slot him in and he'll begin learning the mystic arts. Psi operatives are unlike all other soldiers in that they gain experience and learn abilities by spending time here, rather than from going on missions. That means you can fully train up a psi operative to max rank without ever sending them into the field, which is just incredibly useful in the late game when low-ranking soldiers are unlikely to contribute to (or survive) most missions. I've never actually gotten a psi lab built so quickly before, so it's possible that Spooky will actually lap most of our regular soldiers and hit max rank before the rest of the squad (except for Aqua, who has a leg up on everyone else).

We can speed up psi training by staffing an engineer at the lab, but right now I don't have anyone to spare. We can also upgrade the psi lab to train two soldiers at once, but it's expensive and I've got other things to spend supplies on right now. That said, if somebody wants to join Spooky in the chamber eventually, let me know and I'll send you down the path of the psycho soldier.


We had an empty room in the top-left corner, so I started building a Proving Grounds up there. The PG lets us develop new weapons by spending Elerium Cores, which are items we pick up from enemy loot drops. There's a bit of a gacha element to it in that you don't always know precisely what item you're going to get. That can be frustrating if you really want, say, and acid grenade, but I kind of like the fact that you're sometimes stuck with items you wouldn't normally buy if you had the choice. It gets you to mix up your tactics a little, you know? There's also a plot reason why we need to build the proving grounds, but honestly it was sort of an impulse decision for me. If I had spent a little more time thinking about it, I probably would have build a resistance comm center instead, since we really need to branch out our network further right now.


Gauss weapons, hooray! Now we can finally kit out the rest of the squad with better guns.


Here's where we're at on the research front. We have a lot of autopsies available to us right now, but few of them will yield anything really essential (the notable exception being the Faceless autopsy). We're very much overdue to research Resistance Radio (for expanding the network) and Plated Armor (for not dying), however. I'm going to go with Radio first, if only because it'll be done sooner. Note that we also have the option to research some experimental weapons - this is another thing from the Alien Rulers DLC that I hope to look into once we've upgraded the squad's armor some. We're starting to be somewhat behind the curve when it comes to survivability.


Look at all the stuff that Gauss Weapons opened up for us! It costs a lot to get everyone kitted out, but it's worth it. We pick up the sniper rifles and heavy cannons, along with the Vektor rifles. I use our Reaper pretty much every chance I get, so they deserve the best. The rest of this stuff will have to wait until we have some more funds lying around.

All right, that's enough groundwork. I'm starting to get a little worried about the progress of the Avatar project, and for now there's only one thing I can do about it:



Join us next time for the assault on the ADVENT Blacksite! Drama! Explosions! New faces! You won't want to miss it!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2561400 said:
Are you going to
Reaper cheese
the Blacksite?
Torzelbaum;2561447 said:
Wait... Who's Spooky? Did someone cut in line in front of me? Does that mean I'll have to go out in the field instead?

Or are you planning on using some untested new technology to fuse me and Spoony into a single entity? I don't like the sound of that either.
MCBanjoMike;2561472 said:
If the worst thing that happens to you here is someone adds a Y to your name, then you can consider yourself lucky. :toastybert:
Aquadeo;2561756 said:
I was happy just that live past the first mission. Then I was delighted to know I’d helped expand the squad size. But I think the best thing so far is knowing that this ship isn’t built to contain the full, unrestrained power of friendship!

High five, VV!
MCBanjoMike;2561838 said:
Violentvixen;2561844 said:
Whoooo!

Also I can't decide if I'm moving my hair back behind my ears in that picture or if I'm doing the "mind blown" hand motion.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 10: Saturday Night's Alright for Blacksite Igniting


Today's the day, folks. The ADVENT Blacksite is our first story mission, as well as our first chance to set the Avatar project back a little. It's a lengthy mission, although not especially challenging once you know what to expect. Of course, despite Mogri's suggestion, I would never cheese the mission by just sending in a lone Reaper and running straight to the objective! Instead, we have a full team, including some folks who will be seeing combat for the very first time. That's right, it's the Squaddie Sniper Spectacular, starring Mogri and Ted! Backing them up will be a solid team of veterans, including...wait a second.


You can be damn sure Sensenic isn't going to just walk into danger without taking some precautions! We picked up an Advanced Agility PCS, which we can slot into his brain to give him +18 dodge. Combined with what he got from that covert op a while back, he's up to an impressive 28% chance to take reduced damage from any attack that would normally hit him. He also has Blast Padding, which gives him extra armor point and reduces damage from explosions, along with a bonus HP from a different covert op. At this point, he is nigh-on indestructible! Now if only he could do something about all that enemy armor.


We land on the outskirts of the blacksite and find our first pod, a Muton and a sectoid. I guess I should probably capitalize sectoid too if I'm gonna capitalize Muton, but it's not like the MLA are reading this LP.


Nightwalker finds a perfect target to detonate with Remote Start, it'll easily take out both...oh no wait that's us.


Fine, we'll do it the regular way. This is a long mission and I don't want to use up all my explosives early on, so I save the Claymore mine and just have Sensenic drop a regular grenade on the enemies. We've got two snipers and Aquadeo on overwatch to clean up and I'm saving VV's action in case one of them manages to escape and needs dealing with.


But she gets to take a coffee break, because the overwatch trap is executed perfectly. Not only that, but both Mogri...


...and Ted get their first kills! Good job, baby snipes!


Oh hey the Hunter's here *yawn*.


Our next pod has a MEC, a purifier and a captain. Now these guys are worthy of the Claymore treatment! Note that our upgraded Claymores now do a respectable 8 damage and the blast covers a larger area. Nightwalker tosses it into the group...


...and Mogri lights it up from 400m away. The Claymore causes the purifier to explode and the whole pod goes up in a glorious fireball, along with a significant chunk of one corner of the Blacksite. It was a thing of beauty.


The squad closes in on the Blacksite proper, which triggers a little cutscene. Humans and/or human remains are being dunked in a green liquid and seemingly processed into some kind of special substance. It's horrifying and also pretty stupid and also basically the ending to
Mass Effect 2
! I wish I enjoyed the story in XCOM 2 as much as I enjoy everything else, but it's honestly kinda dumb.


There's our target: a jar of the precious refined person goo. As Mogri hinted in his post, you can complete this mission by stealthing a character up to the jar, grabbing it and then hightailing it to the extraction point. It was possible in vanilla XCOM 2 and it's even easier using a Reaper, since their super stealth is much easier to maintain as you wend your way across the map. Playing on Ironman, I'm a little hesitant to try anything quite that outrageous, because if you mess it up it's going to go pretty bad.


Our next group of enemies approaches: a MEC and two soldiers.


Joan softens them up with his second grenade and then one of the soldiers makes the mistake of taking cover behind...


...a destructible object. Yay remote start!


Vixen takes an extremely convoluted route, which involves climbing to the roof of the facility and dropping down through a skylight, in order to put herself in harm's way. She takes a shot on the MEC and gets in a solid hit, but it's still up. Now she's wide open and nobody has a good shot to finish it off. Buy you know what we do have?


The Power of Friendship. Aqua uses Teamwork to give her a second shot and she finishes dismantling the robot fascist.


The remaining soldier is a little spooked, which is understandable, so he retreats back to some cover. Aqua used Aid Protocol to give Sensenic an extra overwatch shot, which he fails spectacularly. I'm pretty sure it's a bug in the game that causes him to aim in the completely wrong direction, but I like the emergent storytelling that you get from moments like this. Maybe Sensenic has some sort of weird condition in his visual cortex that makes things seem like they're 90 degrees away from where they really are?


Nightwalker takes care of the remaining soldier but is revealed in the process. He still has his ability to go back into stealth, though.


A little further up we run into a squad of three sectoids. Man, there sure are a lot of enemies on this map.


Ted nails a difficult shot to take one of them out with a single crit. I'm really enjoying these magnetic sniper rifles, I don't know about the rest of you.


VV misses her overwatch shot on another sectoid that decided to climb up onto the roof for some reason. Pathing! If nothing else, it makes for a pretty cool screenshot.


Oh right, this guy. The Sniper hasn't done a single thing since he showed up at the start of the mission, he's just been hanging out all the way at the back of the map. What a harmless rube this guy-


HOLY SHIT. Hunter takes a regular old shot on Vixen and manages to knock her out in a single hit. That sucks! I knew I was overdue to get the squad some better armor, but this is rough. I guess we're lucky that she didn't straight up die, because she only had 7 HP and the shot did 8 damage. Still, that's a serious wake-up call. I suddenly find myself regretting that we didn't bring Kirin along for this mission...


Aqua injures the second sectoid and Mogri finishes it off with a well-placed grenade. That leaves us with one final sectoid and the suddenly-menacing Hunter to deal with before we can grab the vial and get out of here. To be fair, I could always just take the MacGuffin and run, but right now I think it's actually a safer play to take the enemies out rather than risk losing someone else during the retreat (especially if I want to bring VV back home, which would require dedicating a soldier to carrying her instead of shooting aliens). Still, it's important to know when you can and should just run the hell away. I've had campaigns turn on missions where I made the call to retreat rather than losing my squad in a fight I couldn't win.


The Hunter's next shot misses, thank god. The calculus of this fight would shift pretty quickly if I had another soldier get downed. Now it's time to deal with the Chosen.


Ew, Ted, no! You're standing in the people juice!


Mogri gets to work, landing our first shot on the Hunter. Unfortunately, he's got a lot of HP and we no longer have a melee character around to exploit his weakness to close-up attacks.


Sensenic gets in a good hit, but misses with his followup Aid Protocol shot.


The Hunter misses again, thankfully. The third sectoid is bumming around the outside of the Blacksite, but it isn't doing anything too threatening just yet. I think it summoned a zombie or something.


Bit by bit we're grinding him down. Mogri gets in a good shot, Ted wings him with his pistol, and Sensenic gets in a crit for solid damage.


Nightwalker finally finishes the job with a shot from close-range, which gets a damage boost. The Hunter takes off and leaves us with a single sectoid to deal with. Phew, that was a lot harder than I thought it would be.


Just imagine me cut-and-pasting this screenshot like 4 times as I try to get Aqua to shoot this sectoid through the laser window and he keeps missing.


Mogri deal with the psi zombie...


...and Aqua finally hits the sectoid before having his kill stolen by Sensenic. Now the team is all clear to grab the canister and get the hell out of here.


Ted grabs Vixen to take her home and everyone starts heading toward the extraction zone.


We evac Ted and VV while the rest of the team sets up shop near the dropship. I've played this mission enough to know what comes next...


At the start of my turn, I have my soldier with the highest mobility grab the canister.


This triggers something that we haven't seen yet: an ADVENT flare drops, signalling the imminent arrival of reinforcements. By grabbing the canister at the top of our turn, we give everyone the opportunity to get into position before the ADVENT show up to the party. The evac zone is far enough away that even Nightwalker can't make it there in a single turn, though.


The ADVENT dropship flies by, leaving us with one final squad to deal with. Unfortunately for them, I've got Aqua, Mogri and Ted all on standby.


At this point we could just leave, but I'm not gonna say no to free experience!


Poor bastards didn't stand a chance. Note that evacuating is a free action that you can perform even at the end of your turn. Any soldiers standing in the evac zone are free to take their shots before leaving the map, so there's no reason not to take potshots on your way out.


We clear the entire enemy squad out before they can do a single thing and then the team boards the Sky Ranger. Note that I have the Evac All mod installed, which conveniently lets you evac everyone in the zone at the same time. It's pretty fun to watch, honestly.


We did it! Lots of promotions to go around, but poor Vixen is going to be out of the action for quite a while. I give both sharpshooters the ability that lets them use squadsight for overwatch shots, but in the future I'll be sending them down divergent paths. I think I gave Sensenic Demolition? Can't quite recall.


VV gets Run and Gun, which is another real corker of an ability - it lets you move twice and still perform an action before your turn ends. In Enemy Unknown, the ranger equivalent class got Run and Gun as its default squaddie ability. In XCOM 2, you have to choose between that or the ability to go into stealth once per mission, which makes the choice a little harder. On the other hand, X2 Run and Gun is improved in that you can take any action you want, instead of simply shooting. It's very good and a ranger doesn't feel complete to me without it.


For our trouble we get...125 supplies and one tick off the Avatar project. Huh, I was kind of expecting more. I guess the mission wasn't that hard, all things considered.


With the Blacksite behind us, we now have a new story objective to decode some alien encryption. I don't even remember what exactly is supposed to be encrypted, because again I don't pay attention to the story in this game. We're also going to need to research our vial of Blacksite goo, but we can't begin to do that until we build a dedicated super research room, so don't hold your breath.


Here's a shot of the Avenger to close things out for today. We're only a few days away from having a Proving Grounds and all the fun toys that come with it. I've also started excavating our next room, which will probably become a comms center. The shielding of the second power coil is on hold because we don't actually need it yet, but it will be pretty quick to complete whenever we decide to go back to it. And finally, it seems that VV has developed a fear of the Chosen because of that one time she was almost murdered by one of the Chosen. Can't really hold that against her, but it's going to be pretty inconvenient in the future. We'll have to build that Infirmary eventually, since it's the only way to cure soldiers of negative traits like these.

All right folks, that's all the XCOM I've got for you this week. But we'll be back soon with more War of the Chosen! Have a good weekend, y'all.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2561869 said:
Don't think I didn't see a body in the background here! You only fooled me for a little bit there.

Was VV flanked? I've never seen the Chosen take potshots before.

My own campaign has the Hunter weak to Reapers. He dies to a single Claymore~
MCBanjoMike;2561876 said:
No, I'm pretty sure she was on the other side of the pillar from Aquadeo, behind full cover. This isn't the first time the Hunter has just up and shot at someone, though, I believe he injured Spoony a while back.
Torzelbaum;2561954 said:
[STRIKE]Soyl[/STRIKE] ADVENT Green is people!

...

OK, going back to training now.
Sensenic;2562256 said:
[On having a 28 dodge skill]
Aw yiss.

[On missing a shot by 90 degrees]
Hey, I thought I saw the Hunter over there, I was showing some initiative, proactivity!

Alt answer: this LP made me check one of the original, out of curiosity, to see the differences and what was there since the beginning... And maybe this so called "bug" is a small homage to the accuracy of the starting rifle in the original:
[thumb]https://lparchive.org/X-COM-UFO-Defense/Update 5/30-xcom071a.gif[/thumb]
Mogri;2562374 said:
Don't blame the rifle! Blame the rookie!
Sensenic;2562379 said:
I mean, the shot is visibly coming out of somewhere in the middle of the rifle's shaft, so...
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Whiskey can count himself lucky the thing didn't blow up in his hands when he pressed the trigger (spoiler: Whiskey didn't live much longer after that shot anyway :( )
Torzelbaum;2562515 said:
Government contractors...
Ted;2562599 said:
Rescued a team mate, blasted some alien scum, and got a promotion; that was exciting!

[On people being made into green goop]
Gives new meaning to the term 'active ingredient'.

Man, why do I have this sudden craving for a nice, cold Soylent Dew? I'll grab one after this mission. Okay, time to get focused....
Mogri;2562630 said:
[Following the link Sensenic posted to a LP of the origina X-COM]
I started reading that but had to stop halfway through. It's a big pet peeve of mine when LPs hijack the actual story with their own.

It's one thing for you to create a metanarrative (like that one had from the beginning), but it's another to mask and distort what's actually going on in the game to better suit your story.

Also, it wasn't entirely clear that the player knew how to play X-Com very well, but that could just be because he rarely talked about the game mechanics
Sensenic;2562713 said:
Yeah, it's basically a polar opposite to this one: no focus on the gameplay, and all on the made up plot and goon contributions.
As far as I know, though, the missions themselves are played honestly and the plot added on top.

I am enjoying it though, it's funny in a military farce sort of ways, and very elaborate. Has some icky elements though, being a sth awful LP from 10+ years ago - Andrew Jackson, the president, is in there, somehow, courtesy of some goon, and portrayed so far as, well, your typical American President, noble and solemn. Eurgh.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I've got time for a short one today, so let's do

Mission 11: A Short One


The Blacksite is gone, but the war is far from over. Time to sabotage a Dark Project! As I mentioned last time, I'm much more interested in shutting this one down than the other options. Scanning stuff is how we build our resistance network and it also gets us lots of useful bonuses, so we don't want to be hobbled on that front for six full weeks. And we're still a couple engineers away from maxing out, so the reward is half decent too.


Purple squad, roll out! Inquisitor is finally back in fighting form, so we bring him along, too, even though he's just a squaddie. Note that I have several mindshields equipped, because the Warlock might drop in on us today. I considered giving Spoony one too, but I'd rather have the extra grenade. I also equipped Mogri with a stun grenade, which is one of the only countermeasures available for dealing with mind control. I don't remember if it completely breaks the control or if it just makes the controlled soldier really ineffective, but either way it's a good backup option. And Mogri doesn't have anything useful to do with that item slot yet anyway.


We've seen this crew at work before and there aren't any new enemies on this mission, so I'm going to start reducing the number of action shots to keep things from getting too redundant. We start the mission with a couple of sectoids, one of which Gerad makes short work of. The second get's Kirin's classic Slice and Dice Special. Hey, more sectoid corpses = more tinfoil hats to protect us from mind control!


Our second pod proves to be somewhat thornier. We've got a MEC up on the roof and a Viper on the ground, plus I think there's a lancer hiding somewhere in the building.


The Viper is behind this short wall, which prevents most units from having a shot on it. Never one to be discouraged, Spoony decides to make line of sight happen where no line of sight exists.


That's what I call teamwork! Not to be confused with Teamwork (patent pending).


Inquisitor plinks away at the MEC, but with his Skirmisher rifle he can't do much damage through its armor. I think I forgot to buy him the magnetic weapon upgrade before this mission, which was a mistake.


That MEC retaliates with a solid hit on Kirin...


...and the lancer runs up and stabs Inquisitor. Note that our Skirmisher is still a little baby and he's super squishy, one more point of damage and he'll be taking another dirt nap.


I've had about enough of these guys. Spoony puts down the lancer...


...and Aquadeo and Mogri tag-team the MEC. We never really dealt with its armor, but with mag weapons you can at least get some decent hits in.


Our objective is to hack a terminal inside this building. Kirin is extremely unsuited to the job, but he's closest and time's running low, so I have him take a look.


Hacking objects can garner one of two rewards for the soldier who does it; typically there's a nice reward that's harder to get and a lesser reward that's easier to obtain. In this case, however, the easy reward is a permanent +20 hacking bonus! That would be a real feather in Aquadeo's hat, so I run him within range and use his Gremlin to hack the terminal from a few spaces away just as time is about to run out. He of course fails the roll miserably, which means that not only is he a terrible hacker, but he is going to stay a terrible hacker. Sigh. On the bright side, you can't completely fail mission objective hack, so at least we didn't fail our mission.


We can't go home until all the ADVENT are dead, though. The final group is set up in the warehouse adjacent to us. I like this shot of Inquisitor firing from one building to the next, it isn't a situation that comes up too often in XCOM 2.


He misses the shot, but don't forget that Skirmishers can act a second time even after shooting! Rather than waste another shot on a well-covered target, I opt to use Justice to drag him into viper's nest. Figuratively, I mean, in this case we are the vipers.


Pictured: Mogri the figurative viper.


After Aqua's hack fail, I decide to bolster his confidence by giving him a shot he can't miss. He did not miss it.


And neither did Spoony! Ahh, look at that armor peel away, it gives me life. Every grenadier should aspire to be more like you, Spoony.


There's one guy left in the next building, so I have Kirin run in and soften him up...


...then very carefully drop in a grenade at just the right distance to kill him without singing our Templar. Grenades in XCOM 2 are binary, you either take the full damage or you don't take any at all. There's an option you can turn on that causes blast damage to fall off farther from the explosion's center, but come on, that doesn't sound like fun.


Here's the team, more or less intact after their mission. IIRC, I gave Inquisitor the Skirmisher ability that lets him throw a grenade as a first action without ending his turn. Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to skirms.


Unfortunately, we do have one issue right now: every single one of our melee attackers is injured and won't be combat-ready for weeks. Well, OK, we do have that nameless ranger that I've been sending out as filler for covert ops, but we don't plan on using him in the actual campaign, right? We'll need to do something about our lack of stabby boys and girls, but we're rapidly approaching the point where training up a squaddie ranger is starting to look unappealing. There's an ability you can get that lets you train rookies directly into sergeants, which would be perfect right now, but I haven't seen any sign of it (and indeed it might not even exist in this campaign, since they're randomly distributed).


On the bright side, our Proving Ground has been completed! I get to work immediately on developing the Bluescreen protocol - there are some scary robots out there in the world and they're gonna taste the fury of Windows 95!


Eric's back from another covert op, and he's hackier than ever! Sadly, he was injured, so he too will be out of commission for a bit.


We finally finish researching Resistance Radio, far later in the campaign than I usually do. We need to start building radio towers and expanding the network, but we don't have any capacity for new contacts right now. There's a covert op available that would give us one more, but it has moderate level risk of capture and ambush, so it's pretty unappealing to me. We'll just build a dang comm station ASAP.


What's next? Well unfortunately, we don't have the alien alloys we need to research plated armor just yet. It's possible that we'll get a few when we finish clearing out our next building site in the Avenger, which would be good, because we're in desperate need of some better armor. For now I'll take advantage of the inspiration and research alien encryption. I would also like to finish the Faceless autopsy, but I have a very hard time resisting inspiration.


Some group of third-stringers comes back from a covert op with modular sniper rifles - again, this will be great down the line, but for now it's pretty superfluous. Now it's time to push forward with some serious business, which is to say another Chosen hunt. There's nothing we can do to completely eliminate the risk of an ambush, so I'm just going to put together a competent squad and hope that they don't have to put their skills to the test.


We finish Bluescreen Protocol at the proving grounds, which means we can now freely build bluescreen ammo and grenades. These are our first type of special rounds, and that's pretty exciting! I'm a big fan of fancy ammo. Snipers in particular are well-suited to using different ammo types, because they are generally too far from the enemies to throw grenades and you've gotta do something with that item slot. Plus, you may have noticed that we quite a few snipers on our team!


I'd like to stay that it's time to build a [STRIKE]Destil[/STRIKE] SPARK, but for now we're too broke. I think I started work on an experimental grenade instead, since one of those just costs an elerium core.


We found ourselves a scientist bumming around on the world map! Note the cheeky name of the scanning site where we just spent the last week.


Unfortunately, we're not the only ones hard at work. ADVENT is taking caffeine pills, so now they'll notice us at greater distances than before. Not the end of the world, especially when you consider that all our up-close soldiers are in the hospital. Maybe we should consider fielding an all-sniper all-star team soon...

Soon, perhaps, but not today. We'll be back soon with more XCOM 2, so stay vigilant!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Sensenic;2562990 said:
Wait, so "Ravely Wounded" is actually a cut "Gravely wounded"?
And here I thought I was learning new English vocabulary - here I was imagining it meaning sth as "wounded as badly as if he fell to the floor in a rave and everybody kept stepping on and kicking him".

Also, is it me or does Kirin keep getting (ravely) wounded? I guess close combat does have its risks...
MCBanjoMike;2562998 said:
Yeah, it's something of an occupational hazard for Templars. All the e he's taking doesn't help things, either...
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 12: Sniper Joe & Co


It's the world map! Shows you where you're at! Now that we've researched resistance radio, it also shows us the continent bonuses available to us. To earn them, we need to connect every region on the continent and build one or two radio towers to boot. The bonuses will stay active for the rest of the game so long as we don't lose any of the regions in question. Right now we're pretty close to unlocking Africa's bonus, Volunteer Army. This gives us a chance of having a random resistance member join our squad on any mission we run. They're low level and 100% expendable, so basically it's like having a bottomless supply of Smashmouths. That would be a fun bonus to have, but the one that really catches my eye is Europe's Live Fire Training, which would allow us to train rookies directly into sergeants at the GTS. That would make it much easier for me to field our remaining Tyrant Squad rookies...except for the part where I don't have even a single region of Europe under control right now. I guess it's something to work towards.


It's m-m-m-mission time! This one should be a cakewalk - just a simple supply raid, and we get extra charges of stealth to boot.


There is one complicating factor, however: all our melee characters are wounded, and Aquadeo and Spoony are out on assignment. That leaves us with Sensenic and four and a half snipers available for the mission. To be fair, I could have sent my own avatar along to act as a low-level medic...but Aqua took the only medkit we have with him on his covert op and I spent all my remaining money on magical robot-killing bullets that I gave to Gerad. No regrets. Go team Sniper!


We drop into a region that is covered in psychedelic purple foliage. The game never addresses this, but I guess the idea is that some alien flora and fauna have been introduced into the environment and are gradually taking it over. You'd think Central would be a little more worried about it. As for me, I'm currently worried about our first pod, although not very.


A MEC, a stun lancer and a new enemy type: the ADVENT Shieldbearer. Shieldbearers aren't very aggressive, but they do have the ability to give any nearby enemies a shield that will absorb the next 5 or so HP of damage that they take. In practice, that means you either want to kill them first (so they can't deploy the shield) or last (since they aren't very dangerous alone). I'm hedging toward the latter here as I have Gerad take down the MEC using his super bullets. Nice damage, G!


Sniper twins, together 'til the end! Between Mogri and Ted's shots, the Shieldbearer is pushing up daisies.


The map is interesting on this mission: there's a high ridge that runs along one side and parallel to that is a flat, low region. All this high ground is perfect for a team with 4 sharpshooters on it. The stun lancer picked a good spot to hole up, however, as he's shadowed by the cliffs where Joe can't see him. Instead, Sensenic softens him up with a grenade...


...and Nightwalker flanks him and finishes the job. He's revealed in the process, but we have tons of stealth this mission, so I immediately put him back under. I do the same for Joe and Gerad, who are at the front of the hilltop sniper squad.


Well look who it is! The Assassin shows up and then immediately goes invisible, as she does. The best way to deal with her is to fan your soldiers out so that she can't attack one without being flanked by others - even she can't maintain stealth when she's exposed.


It's even easier to catch her unawares when you have a stealthed Reaper doing recon for you. I have no idea what her plan was here, she isn't even in cover! And she doesn't know we've found her, at least not yet...


Mogri opens up with a shot, doing reasonable damage. At this rate, it's going to take another 4-5 hits to send her packing. But then, inspiration strikes!


The Assassin is weak to explosions...and weak to Reapers...and she's standing next to a truck. Oh my.


Remote Start no justu activate!


SWEET AUNT JEMIMA, I don't think I've ever done that much damage with a single attack before! Between the double-strength explosion and her two weaknesses, that's a whopping 24 HP we took off her! I'd be shell shocked too, TBH.


No sense in leaving the job unfinished, is there? I have Sensenic use Teamwork to give Nightwalker another turn and the deed is done. Wow, we absolutely schooled her. That's the second quickest I've ever taken out the Assassin!


Joe is still in stealth, so I run him up to scout a little bit. This...was a mistake. I forgot that the enemies have an increased detection radius right now, so this group of enemies (who were somewhat hidden from my line of sight because they were below the cliff) catch us with our pants down. That weird robot-looking thing with the vipers is a Spectre and they are not my idea of a good time.


The bad news is that the enemies have the drop on us and we only have two moves left before it'll be their turn. The good news is that Spectres are robots, so Gerad hammers this one for a solid 13 HP...which unfortunately isn't quite enough to kill it. All that's left is Ted, but he doesn't have a good shot, so I put him on overwatch, despite knowing that you can't hit a dang Spectre with an overwatch shot. Man, fuck those guys.


Here's why you don't want a Spectre to get a move in: they can Shadowbind your units. This is double plus bad, in that not only do they make an evil clone of your soldier, but your guy is incapacitated until the doppelganger is taken care of. We can achieve that either by killing the clone or killing the Spectre, whichever comes first. Unfortunately, killing Spectres is easier said than done, because as I mentioned, the first overwatch shot of each turn is guaranteed to miss them. Oh, and they can turn invisible to hide from you. Seriously, fuck those guys.


While the Spectre is busy creating clones and not dying, the Vipers decide to focus their attention on Mogri. Mogri is up on the cliff with full cover, so thankfully this attempt to snare her misses.


But the other Viper's shot...does not.


And with that, our sweet confused wannabe ADVENT is no more. Poor Mogri only had a paltry 5 HP to her name (argh we really need some armor) and she didn't succeed the roll that would have put her into the bleeding-out state. To be fair, I've already had things go my way on two of these close calls, but it's still rough. RIP, purple sniper lady.


There isn't any time for navel gazing, though. We've still got two vipers, a fake Joe and a mostly-dead Spectre to deal with. I start by dropping a Claymore into this group of two Vipers + fake Joe. Sadly, the enemies are spaced out so that only one of them will get hit by the explosion of the Claymore. To compensate, I use another explosion to detonate the mine, which kills the first Viper and injures the other two enemies.


Ted tries to clean up the second Viper, but they're slippery little eels. This one is still alive, if just barely. Gerad doesn't have a good shot on anybody, so they bad guys get to go again. This is not ideal!


The Spectre uses a psionic ability called Horror on Ted, which damages him and causes him to panic and hunker down. For those keeping track, we are presently at three soldiers disabled. Not ideal!


Then one of the vipers lands a solid hit on Sensenic. NOT IDEAL. This is followed by fake Joe throwing a grenade at him, and lord almighty was I convinced he was done for. Except, somehow, the grenade missed? It looks like Sensenic's legendary cowardice came to his aid in his time of need!


Gerad is finally in position to hit that damn Spectre. He tries first with Lightning Hands, but the shot misses, so I just use his regular shot and we get the kill.


This releases Joe from suspension, and it so happens that he's in a great spot to take care of the last Viper. Mission's over, thank god.


We hobble our way back home and claim a couple of promotions. Joe will of course get the ability to land overwatch shots via squad sight.


But the real winner here is Nightwalker, who gets two supremely useful abilities this level. Silent Killer means that any kill shot he takes is guaranteed not to reveal him, which opens up a ton of possibilities in missions. And he has just about enough points to also pick up Tactical Rigging, which grants him a utility item slot. Time to get him some specialized ammo!


Of course, it's not all wine and roses. Goodbye, Mogri. I'd say we'll miss you, but I still have like 4 other snipers.


We pulled in quite a haul from this supply raid. That's enough alien alloys and elerium to build a half-dozen fun new toys, plus we got four elerium cores to spend at the proving grounds.


With all that burning a hole in my pocket, I head right over and initiate project SPARK. Sentient robots, coming soon to a squad near you!


Uh, hey game, maybe no thanks? I don't think we need the alloys that badly...

I go park the avenger at Templar HQ instead. We can scan here for a few days to speed up recovery times and get some of our soldiers back on their feet.


We finish researching Alien Encryption, which unlocks the ability/necessity to construct a Shadow Chamber. This is mostly a plot doohicky that you have to use to run some story-related research projects, but it comes with the bonus of telling you what enemy types will be on missions before you deploy. That's nice, but it's going to be a while yet before we build one, as we have a number of fish in dire need of frying first.


We've killed enough Vipers to get an instant autopsy, so I do that and unlock a new Proving Grounds project that we can use to improve our medkits. I'm always in favor of better healing, but the fact is we don't have enough HP right now to even make use of it. Also, once upgraded, medkits become more expensive to purchase and require Viper corpses. You're better off building a few before you complete the research project, since all the ones you have on hand get a free upgrade when you do.


FINALLY. PLATED ARMOR. YES.


It's our good boy Spook(y), the psychic! Having completed his basic psi ops training, he now has white hair and a nice purple glow. The only skill he has learned so far is Stasis, but honestly even that's enough to make him kind of useful. We'll try to keep him on reserve until he's a little more thoroughly cooked, though.


Every time a psi operative learns a skill, you get to choose from one of three to train next. None of these is top-tier, so I'll take a quickest one. Supposedly, leveling up reduces the time it takes to learn new abilities, so when in doubt take one that you can get fast and it'll speed up everything else down the line.


We can officially no longer wait to start building Resistance Comms. Let's hope that we still have enough time to recover, because the Advent project is nearing completion. This is always the part of the campaign where I have the least idea of how things are going to go.


Speaking of Avatar, this particular facility is starting to look pretty juicy. We only need to connect two regions to get to New Chile, so I have a feeling we'll be heading in that direction next. Sorry Europe, but the insta-sergeants will have to wait a little longer.


It's the end of the month! We only get about 200 supplies this time, which is thanks to all the counter-ops that the Chosen have been running. There will be more of that this month, too, but the Hunter has a new trick up his sleeve - adding an extra Dark Event to the pile. Super.


Ugh, this is a nasty spread. We may have no choice but to intercept the one that instantly jumps the Avatar project forward, since we're running out of headroom. A new ADVENT facility is actually less of a problem, because we can eventually find it and dismantle it. Reduced supplies is a pain, and more expensive rookies ain't great either, consider the fact that I'm supposed to buy all of you folks. Remind me to pick up a few rooks before the Dark Event hits.


Aqua and Spoony make it back from their covert op, safe and sound. They bring back knowledge of the Assassin, as well as improved standing with the Reapers. That gains us an extra resistance order slot, which we can use with the order we just unlocked that allows us to make contact with new regions instantly! Or...we could have if the frickin' away team had gotten back like three hours earlier. As it is, we just barely missed the window, so we don't get to profit from any of that stuff until next month.


Plated armor is expensive stuff, so I send these guys out on a milk run to get some more supplies for us. Note that we are now getting covert ops that can remove progress blocks from the Avatar project. That's great and we will 100% be doing that soon.


Our first experimental grenade project has been completed at the proving grounds. The results of these projects are randomized, and while I prefer to get acid grenades, gas grenades are still decent. They're basically regular grenades but with a larger explosion radius, what's not to like?

Well, that's all they XCOM you're getting today. I'm on vacation next week, so if you want to see your favorite characters in action, go download them and start your own LP! I'm going to be soaking up some very-carefully-controlled amounts of sun in New Cuba. Viva la revolución!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2563694 said:
[It's the world map! Shows you where you're at!]
Is that a C. Kane reference? If so, I'm almost not upset about being killed!
Falselogic;2563724 said:
Finally someone is dead and we can get some new blood in this thing.

After Banjo gets back from vacation.
Sensenic;2563982 said:
Nooo, Mogri, my comrade in "dubious allegiance" arms! :_(

And sheesh, that was too close for comfort. I'm clearly not safe enough, commander! ò_ó
Oh well, at least I'll now be living the ravely wounded life; yeah, I think I now know what it means: it means to use your wound as an excuse to rave and party hard without having to worry about "responsibilities". :D

And finally a question:

[Spectres = nanoparticles]
The line uttered by Tygan here is regarding the Spectre as a whole, or to its Shadowbind clones no jutsu?
At any rate, I don't quite like it's design... it looks a bit out of place, far sleeker, glossier, more Everything is an iPhone in the future than everything else shown in this LP so far from the aliens & ADVENT.
MCBanjoMike;2564054 said:
The Spectre itself is a cloud of nanobots - that’s why they can evade reaction shots so easily. It’s true that they look pretty different from the other enemies in the game, but the alien forces are a disparate lot. This isn’t really addressed in XCOM 2, but in the last mission of Enemy Unknown you get a bunch of narration about how the elders (four-armed psychics that don’t really appear in this game) have been selecting races from across the galaxy and modifying them for their purposes. So it kinda makes sense that there’s little consistency across the alien types.
Falselogic;2564071 said:
I dont know what I was thinking but I started a new XCOM 2 game with the DLC. I've never played with the DLC nor have I played since the game came out. I also decided to play on legendary and ironman.

I lost two agents on the first mission... You know the intro one where you blow up the statue.

Uh, we'll see how this turns out.
MCBanjoMike;2565682 said:
Godspeed, Commander.

[I lost two agents on the first mission...]
That's actually not that bad of a sign, really. On Commander and Legendary, new recruits have all the resilience of wet tissue paper, pretty much any hit can put them under (cfRk. Prime). It's too bad you won't have the squaddies for your next missions, but if you rush the Resistance Ring you'll be tripping over replacements as soon as you start sending them on covert ops.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 13: A Walk in the Park


We get a call from the Resistance Council (which I'm pretty sure is just that one bald guy in a poorly-lit room) with a new mission for us. You know I'm all about rescuing scientists and gaining intel, so let's do this!


We've got a team of seasoned veterans with us today, but they're still wearing that paper-thin armor, so I'm a bit skittish. As the power of the bad guys ramps up, we'll be looking at more and more one-hit KOs if we don't make these guys a bit more survivable. Our armor upgrade is just around the corner, let's hope none of these guys is one week away from retirement...


We drop in under stealth and find our first group, a Spectre and a Viper. Gerad has Bluescreen ammo, so he initiates the fight with a very solid hit on the robot thingy.


The rest of the squad then pooches the ambush, missing the snake three times in a row. Good thing I brought along the A-team. :toastybert:


Thankfully, Nightwalker is equipped with his new ability that lets him stay in shadow any time he scores a kill shot. I run him up to flank the Spectre and take it out before it can reenact the Kidnapping of Joe Drilling from last mission. We still get the golf-swing "chance to reveal" meter after the shot, but since the chance is 0% we can breathe easy for now. I enjoy this particular ability quite a bit, thanks for asking.


Kurt runs up and gets in a hit on the snake, but alas it still has 1 HP left. Thankfully, it opts to retreat rather than attack us.


Nightwalker scouts ahead and finds our wounded Viper...right next to another group of ADVENT. Hmm, what to do?


It's a slightly risky shot, but I gamble on having Nightwalker finish off the Viper and my bet pays off. Once again, the kill shot means to chance of being revealed. Now, what to do about the other 3?


A claymore is what.


Gerad, parked on a rooftop about a kilometer away, lights up the claymore, completely clearing the second pod in the process. This has been the Reaper Appreciation Minute, thanks for joining me!


A little farther up, Nightwalker finds our VIP trapped in an ADVENT holding cell. He could open the door himself, but that would reveal him. Instead, I have Eric come in and hack the door at a distance using his Gremlin.


God damn it, Eric, we needed that! If he could have succeeded at this roll, we would have had short scanning times for a full month, which would have been a huge help. Of course butterfingers rolls like a 22/100 instead and we get bupkis. This is the second time we've muffed a 70% hack roll for something really good, I'm starting to get a little superstitious here.


You still have to physically open the door, so Aquadeo runs up and does so. We now have the VIP under our control.


Mogri and I went back and forth a while back over the relative advantages of the Sniper vs. Gunslinger builds of the sharpshooter class, and here we see the undeniable downside of my preferred build. Gerad has been our eye in the sky for the last few turns, firing away from the rooftop where the team first landed, but now he's way, way behind and will need to spend the next two turns sprinting to join up with the rest of the squad.


At this point, I've moved pretty much the entire team into the ADVENT detention facility. It's nice and defensible, which is good...


...because we've got company coming. Gerad is only barely inside the building, so I actually burn Aquadeo's one charge of Teamwork to give him an extra move and get him into better cover before the reinforcements arrive.


Meanwhile, Nightwalker is scouting our exit route when he comes across this group of ADVENT. Just...just standing there...right next to...


God I love remote start. Thank you for joining me in this extra special double length Reaper Appreciation Minute.


With one problem taken care of, we now turn the just-arriving reinforcements.


Eric takes a pretty gutsy overwatch shot through this hole in the wall (left over from our claymore explosion earlier), but he misses the mark.


When his turn comes up, we decide to put his combat hacking skills to use for the first time. That MEC is a prime target, I'd say! When hacking a robot, you always have the easy option, which is to shut it down for a couple of turns, and the hard option, which is to take control over it temporarily. The latter is obviously way, way cooler, but I've had my fill of failing hack rolls and we don't really need the extra firepower. I take the guaranteed shutdown, since I figure this must be our last group of enemies for this mission.


Spoony tosses in his brand new gas grenade to do some AoE damage. The gas grenade has a larger explosion radius than a regular grenade and also poisons units, dealing damage at the start of each turn. It's a straight upgrade over a standard grenade, despite the fact that robots don't have lungs, and as such don't get poisoned.


Aqua dings the remaining soldier and Eric takes out the shut-down robot.


There aren't any enemies left, so we hightail it to the extraction zone. Another flawless mission (sorry flawgic).


Here's a commemorative shot for the 'gram.


Promotions! Aqua is now at the second-highest possible rank, still a good ways ahead of the rest of the squad. He gets Ever Vigilant, which puts him into overwatch at the end of his turn if he used both actions for movement. That's pretty nice! There's also acase to be made for the other Major-level specialist ability, which gives you a chance to trigger multiple overwatch shots in the same turn, but that's an ability I'd rather have on a grenadier if possible. Gerad gets Death From Above, which prevents his turn from ending if he kills an enemy from high ground with a sniper shot. This isn't quite as good as it sounds, since you can't fire the sniper rifle a second time (since each shot costs two actions), but it does give you a chance to reload or reposition. That would have been nice to have last mission, where he wound up a football field behind the rest of the team.


Ooh, this is a very nice scanning opportunity that you don't see too often. A permanent power upgrade to the Avenger would be great...but we desperately need to start expanding the resistance network, so it'll have to wait. Hopefully it'll still be available once I've made contact with New Chile, where our first Avatar facility awaits.


Before we can get to (New) Chile, however, we have to hook up with the folks in (New) Brazil.


Kirin and Mike come back from a covert op with some supplies. I then turn right around and spend some of them on our next mission, a somewhat-risky attempt to turn back the Avatar clock by one segment. Eric and Sensenic are a pretty hardy duo, so hopefully they can survive an ambush mission if it comes down to it. I've managed to avoid those so far, but my luck can't hold out forever...


Spook learned...something? Soulfire, I think, which does a small amount of guaranteed damage. Now I'm going to grab Sustain for him, since that will keep him alive and I'm a big fan of alive soldiers.


FINALLY oh my god


With our armor research complete, we get inspiration for Future Combat, which reduces the cost of any further bonuses we buy at the GTS. I start working on it and then immediately regret it. I'll probably buy all those upgrades eventually, but the total cost we're looking at is something like 400-500 supplies. That means we're trading 5 days of science research for, at best, 100 supplies in savings farther down the line. Probably not worth it, honestly.


On the bright side, Predator armor is much less expensive to buy than I remembered it being! I had 300 supplies in my head as the price, but that's what the next armor upgrade costs, this one is a very reasonable 150. Well, that leaves us with some petty cash to play around with, no harm no foul. And since recruiting rookies is about to get more expensive (cf the upcoming Dark Event), let's go grab some before that happens!


Esha Das, I choose you!


Big Sexy, get over here!


And just when you thought we had enough new faces for one update, look who shows up! We've completed work on DESTIL, our sentient robotic pal. They're ready for their first deployment, although like regular troops Sparks start at a low level and have to gain experience before they become super useful.


On the other hand, Sparks start with the ability to fire a heavy weapon, which is nice. I insert a couple of Elerium cores into the Proving Grounds gacha machine to get us a heavy weapon and another type of specialized ammo. It'll be a few days before we find out what our prizes are, though.


It's GO season once again, and this time we have a very clear objective. I can't afford to let the Avatar project progress any more right now, so we're off to West Africa for another mission.


Team Purple is ready for action! Join us next time as we put our robot to the test in another exciting episode of JtX2CPT! But, before I go:

HEY FALSE AND OLLI

Now that you've been recruited, what do you want me to do with your characters? The first option is to send them through the GTS, which will train them as a class...but they'll be lowly Squaddies afterwards, likely to get killed on their first missions. If you want to wait a bit, I might eventually get the continent bonus for Asia, which would let me train you up to sergeant. That's way better, but who knows when I'll actually have all of Asia connected in the network. The final option is to go for psionics training, but this will require waiting for me to build a second training pod (or else just stealing time in the main pod whenever Spook is injured). Let me know!

HEY EVERYONE ELSE

If you have any changes you'd like made to your characters, say the word! You've seen a bit more of what XCOM 2 has to offer, maybe you'd like an accessory or an armor pattern or a scar or something? Raise your hand if you think your character needs some sprucing up.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Falselogic;2567481 said:
Give me mind powers!
Destil;2567503 said:
Very boxy and purple, I approve!
Gerad;2567516 said:
Bosede Cissoko will take a cool orange and blue color scheme on his armor if one can be arranged.
Olli T;2567635 said:
Continent bonus I guess?
MCBanjoMike;2567637 said:
[Mind powers for Flawgic]
Will do! You'll have to time-share the psi-pod for now, but I'll probably upgrade the lab next time I'm feeling flush with cash.

[Destil approves]
Good! The gun is still green, which at the time I liked, but we can easily change it if you want a more coherent color scheme.

[Gerad wants to be orange and blue]
No problem!

[Olli wants to wait]
We're short on grenadiers, so in your case I could see maybe training up to Squaddie and then trying to find a covert op that would get you promoted to Corporal. At that point you'd at least be useful to the team, and with our new armor you might even survive a mission or two. I don't think I could stand the thought of losing Big Sexy...
Destil;2567977 said:
The internet is awful so maybe we can change that up to black or cyan? The green is dark enough that I don't think it's actually an issue.
MCBanjoMike;2571156 said:
[Teaser]
Just look at all those smiling faces! But don't get too attached, folks - one of these brave souls won't be coming home. Update today or tomorrow!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 14: LIFO


Our mission begins with a group of ADVENT, eagerly shooting at some doohickey that we're supposed to protect. Annoyingly, the life bar for the macguffin isn't appearing, so I have no idea how close it is to death. Well, we'd better move fast, I guess.


TOO FAST VV, THAT WAS TOO FAST. This happened because I moved Vixen up to the edge of a doorway; she was behind cover, but there was an enemy on the other side of the wall that I didn't know about. It doesn't matter if you're behind cover, if you get within a certain range of a badguy they're going to spot you. This happens a lot when you're up on a roof - I once lost an entire squad to a Sectoid who noticed someone three floors above their head because they were only 2 horizontal tiles away from them.

Well crud, we've been spotted before getting the chance to ambush any of the enemies. So what's the damage, anyway?


Holy fuck. This is not, as we in the business say, ideal.


We've got nine - count 'em, NINE - ADVENT soldiers on alert versus one ranger who is out of moves and far away from her squad. If you aren't worried for our blue-haired swordslady right now, well, you should be. Thankfully, we do still have one trick left up our sleeve: Teamwork! I use her extra move to run her behind high cover and then Aqua throws an Aid Protocol on her with his Gremlin. Even so, things are looking pretty grim right now - nine enemies is a LOT to deal with at once. On the bright side, this is a special all-ADVENT mission, so none of these guys is, say a Viper or a Spectre, with their particularly troublesome abilities.


The squad gets to work thinning the herd, but it's slow going. The ADVENT are far away and mostly in cover.


To get around that (literally!), I activate DESTIL's standard-issue robot ability. Overdrive gives a Spark unit three actions instead of the usual two, which is quite nice indeed. This should give me a chance to position them across from the big doorway and fire a rocket in, doing some damage and destroying some of that pesky cover.


EXCEPT INSTEAD OF DOING THAT I RUN THEM AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, USING UP ALL THREE MOVES IN THE PROCESS AND LEAVING THEM COMPLETELY ALONE AND UNPROTECTED. Great job, me. DESTIL takes a hit for my stupidity, but thankfully they are equipped with some armor to soften the blow.


The ADVENT priest puts Vixen into stasis, which in this situation might actually constitute doing us a favor? She's still way ahead of everyone else and a pretty inviting target for the baddies, so making her immune to all attacks is actually kind of appealing right now.


On our next turn, DESTIL delivers the promised rocket. Rockets have really great range, although they generally do less damage than some of the upgraded grenades/bombs you can get later in the game. They're very useful in the early parts of the campaign, though. We're researching another heavy weapon for DESTIL at the Proving Grounds, but a lot of the time I just prefer to use the default rocket anyway.


Inquisitor uses Justice to pluck one of the injured ADVENT out of the flames and finish them off. He then picks off another with a shot on his second move. Skirmishers are low on damage, but high on flexibility!



VV comes out of stasis and the Priest immediately tries to mind control her. Thank god for mindshields!


The enemy keep picking away at our mission-critical target, but there isn't really anything I can do about it right now. The situation is still bad enough that I need all hands on deck just keeping the squad alive. If we have to risk failing the mission to save our soldiers, then that's a trade I'm willing to make right now.


DESTIL gets in a hit, but their gun hasn't been upgraded and it isn't doing a lot of damage right now. Sparks are honestly not the best class in the game, but they have a few cool tricks that at least make them fun to use. Unfortunately, with Overdrive on cooldown and our only rocket spent, DESTIL's not good for much beyond taking potshots and resisting mind control attempts.


The Priest is on the ropes, so he retreats and activates Holy Warrior, granting a 5HP shield to one of the ADVENT. This actually presents us with an opportunity, as killing either the soldier or the Priest at this point will cause the other to die too due to the psionic link. The same thing happened in XCOM EU with sectoids pretty frequently.


Joe takes care of two problems for us at once.


DESTIL takes another hit, because giant robots aren't so good at hiding behind cover. The armor is still helping, but we're getting a little low on HP right now. Thankfully, we can always fix our robot when we get back to base, and they don't accumulate negative traits the way regular soldiers do when they are injured.


VV swords...


...and Aqua shoots, evening the odds somewhat.


But just as things are starting to look up, ADVENT lands a third shot on our big purple, not-behind-cover friend. Unit DESTIL is no more. And, uh, it turns out you can't repair a Spark if they are 100% dead, which this one is. Sorry, buddy.


Spoony takes revenge on the ADVENT by poisoning a few of them with his gas grenade. I guess I forgot that gas grenades don't destroy cover in a very large radius, I suppose that's one point against them.


Unfortunately, this leaves him out in the open, where he takes a pretty nasty hit. On the bright side, VV is still swording and Aqua is still shooting, so we've managed to thin out almost all of the enemies on the map.


Inquisitor runs up and tosses a grenade, killing the last ADVENT and ending the mission. I still have no idea how much health the mission-critical thingamijig had left, but I guess it was enough.


What's left of the squad returns to base; a triumphant yet bittersweet victory. Spoony will be out of the action for a while, which isn't great news.


As for DESTIL, apparently they were a she? That's what the game seems to have decided, anyway. Rest in power supply, you great purple cube.


Back on the Avenger, it's time to take care of some bookkeeping. As per Gerad's request, Bosede is now sporting a lovely orange and blue set of armor. No wonder the guy's so mad all the time - he's a Mets fan.


All right, back to business. We're still making our way over to New Chile, where there's a juicy Avatar facility to be plundered. We finish making contact with New Brazil, but at this point we're very far from our point of origin and connecting up New Chile is going to cost a whopping 120 intel. We don't have that right now, so it's time to install a radio relay! That will bring down intel costs for any nearby regions and it will increase our monthy income, which is starting to really suffer from all those attacks the Chosen are making. Note that our first radio relay only costs 50 supplies to build, but that price goes up with each subsequent one, so we can't place them willy nilly.


That's what we needed! This covert op takes two blocks off the Avatar project, putting us at a much more reasonable 8 out of 12. That'll buy us the time we need to take out a facility. Also, bonus hacking ability for Eric. One of these days we're going to hack something and it's going to be really cool...


We finish working on our breakthrough (if you forgot: reduced costs at the GTS) and get inspiration to research Elerium! Elerium research is important and slow, so I'll happily take this opportunity to start working on it and save some time in the process.


Spook learns Sustain, which automatically puts him in stasis if he gets killed (just like the enemy Priests). That's going to make him much more survivable, so I think we'll be able to take him into the field soon. I start training him on Solace, which removes mental effects from nearby squadmades - that'll be helpful for recovering from the stun effects that the Chosen are so keen to throw around. He still doesn't have any of my favorite psi abilities, however, so it might be worth leaving him in the oven for another week or two.


So, uh, guess we won't be needing that heavy weapon anymore, huh? Might as well cancel this project so we can put that Elerium core to better use. Sorry, DESTIL.


ADVENT complete their dark project, so it looks like we won't be recruiting any more rookies in the near future. Thankfully, we've already got Big Sexy, so I'm good.


Speaking of which, he's a grenadier now! I'm going to try to get him up to Corporal via a covert operation and after that he'll be pressed into service. We really could use another grenadier on staff.


"Hey Shirley, get a look at this here doohickey. Ya ever see one o' these before?"

(We completed building our radio relay in New Brazil.)


OK, finally! We're only one week away from having access to that Avatar facility. We have four red blocks worth of headroom currently, so I'm pretty sure we'll be ready to go with time to spare.


Looks like we've got other fish to fry first, however.


Man, the Avatar project gained another block while we were flying to the mission. These guys just won't give us a break.


Gear up, squad! We've got a resistance base to save...next time. Hopefully I won't get anyone else killed for a little while!

No promises, though.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Destil;2571250 said:
Beep. Motherfucking. Boop.

*pours out a piston of hydraulic fluid*
Violentvixen;2571344 said:
Damn I did not expect to make it out of that one.

Also I like "keep on swordin' " as my new motto.
Sensenic;2571364 said:
Here's to Destil *presses F*

Her tanking and noble sacrifice saved the lives of VV and the other squad members and greatly lessened the effects of the commander's fuckup. She shall be missed.
MCBanjoMike;2571372 said:
The administration accepts no responsibility for the unfortunate events that occurred during operation Severed Gears.

Severed Gears? What the hell was PR thinking when they came up with that one? Wait, the next mission is called what?? God damn it, somebody get me Frank on the phone.
MCBanjoMike;2574043 said:
Holy shit I can't believe the situation I got you all into last night. On the bright side, Flawgic is going to get to start her psi training!

Update will probably take a few days to put together, sorry.
Mogri;2574046 said:
join me in death, comrades
Torzelbaum;2574145 said:
That's either really good for my character or really bad.
Falselogic;2574163 said:
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Missions 15 & 16: The Boy in the Bubble


So hey, it's time for another ADVENT retaliation mission. One thing I appreciate in XCOM 2 is the amount of worldbuilding that is achieved through the background scenery during the tactical missions. Here, for example, we have a resistance settlement that was apparently built around a downed UFO. Neat! They've got scaffolding around the edges and corrugated steel on the roof to make some sort of observation platform or something. You know, makes the place feel homey.


Aside from that detail, though, nothing very interesting happened on this mission. There were tons of mutons, the game crashed once, Joe got shot - no big deal. I'm going to try not to overwhelm this LP with screenshots of people shooting at random aliens, so lets fast-forward to the end of the mission.


Lookin' good, team. And don't worry about Joe, he'll be back in action before the next mission even comes up.


It's time to continue our pursuit of the Chosen. This mission against the Assassin is relatively safe for us to undertake, but there's still a chance of an ambush. I decided to send out a skilled party, just in case they have to fight their way out of a corner.


We completed some ammo research, netting us a set of talon rounds. These are really good for rangers, since they increase the already-high crit chance on shotguns at close range. Not that we have any shotguns at the moment.


The month is over, which means it's time for money and resistance orders! Also dark projects. None of these is terrible, but two of them are pretty annoying. We're perpetually short on supplies, so halving our monthly drop would be a bummer, and I don't feel quite comfortable enough yet to let ADVENT accelerate the Avatar project. I'm not quite sure which one poses the greater threat, but I have some time to mull it over before I'll need to decide.


I slotted in the resistance order that allows us to make contact instantly, and with that we quickly extend our network to New Chile. There's a big, juicy ADVENT base here, just waiting for us to destroy it!


Ooh, we've finished Elerium research. This opens up the top tier of weapons and armor, although we'll have to research each of them in turn. We also get an instant autopsy of the Muton, since we killed so many of them on that last mission. That opens up some improved grenades and grenade launchers for us to buy, and you know how much I love stuff that goes boom.


We could dive right into researching plasma weapons or powered armor, but I want to take a few days to unlock the Experimental Weapons first. It's a set of three ridiculous gadgets that comes with the Alien Rulers DLC, old-timey unique weapons that I've never had a chance to mess with before. It'll only take us three days to research and there's a possibility that we'll trigger some research inspiration once we're done, so let's go for it.


We just got our monthly supply drop, so let's go spend some of it! I finally upgrade Inquisitor's equipment to tier two like everyone else, and I pick up the advanced grenade launcher for funsies too. The upgrade increases the range that you can huck grenades, which is pretty useful - especially when you're trying to ambush enemies that haven't spotted you. I also start working on plasma grenades at the Proving Grounds, which will eventually replace our basic grenades squad-wide.

Unfortunately, that's most of our money spent. I really need to find a way to get us some more supplies, since we still don't have an infirmary or a training center. And that powered armor is going to cost a cool 300 supplies once I research it too.


No time to dwell on that, though, as Commander Riker has a mission for us. I'm getting to the point where I don't really need any more engineers, but that intel will be useful. Anyway, it's generally a bad idea to refuse missions in XCOM 2, although in this case I don't think there would be any consequences for chickening out.


A good chunk of our A-team is still out on that covert op, so I cobble together some experienced troops and some fresh faces to build a squad. Inquisitor is up, despite being tired, because there's a chance that we'll get a visit from the Warlock. And look, somebody finally let Spook out of his tank! He hasn't reached maximum readiness, but he has a few cool tricks up his sleeve and I'm kinda short on manpower right now. I load people up with as many mindshields as I can, but I think one of our covert operatives is wearing one, so we still don't have a full set.


Things look sketchy as soon as we touch down. We're in the underground tileset that was added with the War of the Chosen expansion, and that's a place where bad things tend to happen. I also recognize this mission from having done it a few times: we need to rescue a VIP and we can't leave until the mission is complete. With no option to turn back, we press on...


...right into the jaws of the lion. Once again, I moved a soldier up to the point where they entered the enemy's vision range despite being in cover. How bad is that for our squad?


well


uh


Pretty fucking bad, all things considered.

Now, you may recall that there was a screenshot not all that unlike this one in my last update. And that was a very bad situation, but this one is worse. Because this isn't a swarm or relatively inoffensive ADVENT soldiers, this is a mixed group of aliens with all kinds of nasty tricks up their sleeves. The mutons have grenades, tough armor and can't be melee'd. The robot also has grenades and is accompanied by a priest who can mind control my unshielded units. There's a spectre who can shadowbind one of our guys, turning the odds even further against us. And that weird looking flying dude with the spear is an archon, whose blazing pinions ability once definitively ended a campaign of mine. So we got problems, I guess is what I'm saying.


Well, one way of dealing with problems is the old divide-and-conquer. TBaum is pretty far up relative to the squad, so he's going to put this nearby muton into stasis in hopes that he'll live long enough to do something about it once it wakes up.


Meanwhile our biggest problem is that spectre, which can royally mess things up for us if it goes unchecked. Inquisitor uses Justice to yank it out of cover...


...and Sensenic puts it down. Hooray! Unfortunately, that's all that we manage to do before our turn runs out.


And the bad news keeps on coming!


Time for the aliens to have a go. The priest puts Inquisitor into stasis, which isn't great, but it's better than mind control.


Gerad gets in an overwatch shot on a lancer who makes a move on Sensenic. The lancer doesn't die, but thankfully they miss their melee attack.


No such luck with the archon, however, who hits Eric with a nasty blast of plasma...


...which is then followed up by the MEC's micro missiles. Sensenic has Blast Padding, which reduces the damage he takes from explosions, but he loses his one point of armor in the process. Eric takes two more damage and is now down to a single HP.


It's a darn good thing that we're back to our turn, then, isn't it? Eric heals up some.


Joe takes out the wounded lancer with a well-placed Lightning Hands pistol shot...


...before turning his sniper rifle on the archon and getting in a solid hit. Archons have like 20 HP, though, so this one is still kicking.


Spook uses Soulfire to do some guaranteed mind-damage to one of the mutons...


... and Gerad finishes the job. We've gotten a few lucky shots in here, although I've edited out some of the misses too.


Sensenic drops a grenade on the MEC to reduce its armor, but sadly can't manage to get any other baddies in the blast. This is followed by the priest mind-controlling Inquisitor, which hey, that's pretty bad?


Sensenic takes a shot from the MEC, but thanks to his high dodge stat the damage is reduced down to 2 HP. All his training in saving his own skin is paying off!


Archons can also use their spears (or staves?) for melee strikes, which this one demonstrates for us on poor Spook.


Not to be outdone, the remaining muton runs up and does the same thing. Geez, don't tell me we lost another soldier on their first mission?


But wait! Spook learned Sustain, which activates at the last instant to save his poor purple hide. He's alone and surrounded by bloodthirsty aliens, but he's still alive! For the time being, anyway.


Joe takes care of our MEC problem, leaving us with a priest, an archon, a muton. Oh, and a mind-controlled Skirmisher. Oh, and the Warlock summoned some phantasmal zombies. So, uh, no problem, right guys?


Spook comes out of stasis to find himself surrounded by an archon, a muton and a spectral zombie. I run him back a bit and kill the zombie, which detonates, damaging both of the other enemies. I didn't know that was going to happen, but I'll take it!


Baum is still at 1 HP, so Eric takes a second to heal him before taking a shot at the archon. Healing is nice because it doesn't end your turn, so you can heal twice in the same turn, or else heal and harm. Eric didn't take no Hippocratic oath.


Somewhere in there I killed the muton, so now we're down to the archon, one zombie and the priest. Things are looking up!


Gerad gets a lucky crit, which knocks out the archon. A regular shot wouldn't have been enough, so this is a rare bit of good fortune.


This, however, is bad news. Sensenic takes a nasty hit from the priest and is down to a sliver of health - plus he's standing right next to Inquisitor, who's still playing for the wrong team. Thankfully, our Skirmisher decides to toss a grenade at Eric rather than finish off our grenadier. That's not great, but it's way less damaging than some of the things he could have done.


I'm good and fed up with this priest by now, so Sensenic shows him the door. Somebody else takes out the last zombie, meaning that we've effectively cleared the map of any wandering pods. I am legit astounded that we didn't lose someone in that battle. That said, the mission is far from over - we still have a Chosen running around, plus a VIP to rescue.


The VIP is holed up in some sort of office up ahead, surrounded by the Warlock and the ADVENT troops that he just summoned. I know from experience that Bad Things are going to happen as soon as we tag the VIP, so we'd better clear the place out first.

The Warlock, thankfully, is kind of pulling his punches so far. Which is to say, he hasn't mind-controlled anybody yet. Here, he's using some kind of psi-attack that chains from one of my soldiers to another, seemingly without harming either of them. Maybe it has a chance to cause panic or something?


Sensenic tosses a gas grenade into the office, where one of the ADVENT soldiers has posted up. He very carefully manages to hit the enemy without poisoning our VIP.


Gerad begins the long process of whittling down the Chosen's HP. The Warlock is Brittle, which means we get bonus damage if we hit him multiple times in the same turn. That makes free attacks like Lightning Hands extra useful, since we can get a combo chain going even with weak attacks that don't pierce his armor.


Thank god for mind shields! It's way worse to be mind-controlled by the Warlock, since he has such a big HP pool. At least a priest or a sectoid can generally be killed within a round or two.


Since he's still new to the crew, here's an extra shot of Spook using his cool brain powers on the enemy.


Sensenic finishes the job, then runs over to loot the enemy corpse.


Gerad has a plan and he's sticking to it. Unfortunately, the Warlock has some decent cover, so his next shot misses. And that's bad, because...


...the Warlock has a chance to return fire on any missed shots. Gerad and Spook both fall victim to this ability, taking 3-4 damage each.


I'm getting tired of missing my shots, so I have Sensenic use Demolition to destroy the Warlock's cover.


Now we're getting somewhere. Joe and Gerad pile on the pistol shots (including both of their Lightning Hands), putting the Warlock into Bewildered state, where he takes more damage.


Then we grapple Inquisitor onto the roof, where he can use his Adversary status to finish the job. Consider this redemption for his earlier betrayal.


And with that, the area is clear! Phew. Still not done, however. We take a second to reload everyone and get into position, then Inquisitor goes to tag the VIP (who has probably spent the last 10 minutes wondering what all the ruckus was).


To the surprise of nobody, grabbing the VIP triggers a bunch of ADVENT reinforcements. Well, to be fair, I absolutely was surprised the first time I played this mission. Things, ah, didn't go so well that time.


A purifier and a MEC drop down on top of us, and a sectoid and an ADVENT soldier show up farther ahead of where we're stationed. This group doesn't stand a chance, as they're completely surrounded by troops on overwatch. I did have a moment of panic when Spook gunned down the purifier from point-blank range, though, as they have a chance to explode on dying. Good thing it didn't, or else he'd be dead!


As for the MEC, well, there ain't no MEC no more.


Down the hall we have this Sectoid, who is far enough away that we just can't friggin' hit it. I don't know how many shots I wasted on him, but I will tell you this - we never killed him.


His ADVENT buddy doesn't fare so well, though. Inquisitor yanks him up onto the roof, slashes him and then finishes him with his upgraded rifle.


We have to survive for three turns before we'll be able to evac out of the mission zone. Another group of ADVENT drops right into the middle of us, but they don't survive long enough to make it to cover. The stupid Sectoid is harrying us from down the hall, but our mind-shields are doing their job and no-one else has had any traitorous impulses.


At long last, our evac zone appears! This is a relatively good place for it to be, all things considered, not too far from the squad.


I immediately evac Spook and Eric, both of whom are in really bad shape. I also post Gerad in the evac zone but opt to keep him around for another turn in case anyone needs a shootin'.


The pace of the reinforcements accelerates and suffice to say that we need to GO.


On our next turn we get everyone to the evac zone...except for Sensenic. You can see him at the top of the screen, pinned down by some suppressing fire. The enemy will take a shot if he either shoots or moves, but unfortunately for Joan, we don't have any other options for him. Nobody else can see the enemy targeting him and we don't have any tricks to make his retreat safer. And waiting around until next turn would be a very bad idea.. No, I'm afraid we're just going to have to sprint him to the evac zone and roll the dice. And with only 2 HP left, even his high evade stat probably won't help him, as even a grazing shot could take him out.

Fingers crossed, I hit the button and Sensenic makes a break for it.


The shot goes wide! Joan must have several rabbits' worth of lucky feet in his pack; he has endured, dodged or evaded everything that the aliens can throw at him and he still lives to tell the tale.


Hot damn, they all made it out. Team Swiss Cheese has miraculously survived to fight another day, although it'll be weeks before they're all back in fighting shape. Even so, I'm can't believe I managed to get them all out without losing anybody. In the future I'll have to be a bit more conservative while I'm scouting, I've had two bad breaks in a row and I'm not sure how much more of this my heart can take.


Time for more upgrades! Inquisitor gets a cool electric lash ability - it's a free action that does extra damage to robotic enemies, but you only get one per mission. I have a strong anti-robot bias (just ask DESTIL), so you know I'm gonna take that. Sensenic gets an ability that lets him carry an extra grenade, because more explosions is always better.


After a mission like that, Joan is understandably a bit shaken. Seems misplaced for him to develop a fear of vipers, though.


Victories are great and all, but overall the team is in pretty rough shape. We'd better hope no other missions come up before Aquadeo, Matchstick and Nightwalker get back from their covert op. If I wasn't so broke I would start building an infirmary right away...


But hey, at least one good thing will come out of this: the psi training pod is going to be free until Spook recovers from his injuries, so we can start training Esha in the ways of the purple force! Psi operatives are super useful and I'll be happy to have a [STRIKE]spare[/STRIKE] backup for Torz.

Phew, OK, I'm all stressed out, time for a break. We'll reconvene next time, when I hope to put together a team to destroy the ADVENT facility in New Chile. Until then, vigilo confido!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2576556 said:
"Experimental Weapons" is four things, in fact: a melee weapon, a crossbow, a pistol, and a grenade.

And if you're unfamiliar with the Alien Hunters DLC, then you should be very, very afraid of the Archon King. You thought regular archons' Blazing Pinions was bad? Archon King fires them after a single action.
Sensenic;2576838 said:
Sheesh, that was one stressfull update to read!
Must've been a real blast to play!

[Duck!]
Oh boy, another pic where it looks like I'm being shot at by my own team mates. :(

[On dodging the shot from a MEC]
Haha, yesss!


[Joe's fear of vipers]
Hey man, phobias are not rational. And I'm onto those snakes, I know they were behind all that somehow! They've got our number! We're all gonna die!
AAAAAAAAAAAHH! *runs away hands in the air, screaming*
Torzelbaum;2577010 said:
Hey, could you be quiet? You're not the only one here who's ravely wounded.
Olli T;2577440 said:
What's a skulljack?
MCBanjoMike;2577457 said:
It's a knife-shaped USB port that we need to jam into an ADVENT commander's brain. Doing so has unpleasant consequences (for the victim, but more importantly for us too), so I've been putting it off for a while, but it's necessary for advancing the story. Unfortunately, for better or worse, the Chosen pretty much supersede the story when you play with the expansion. It's mostly for the better, since the campaign is much more interesting with them around, but in practice it means that you'll probably beat them all then do a victory lap of really easy story missions before your campaign wraps up.

Played a bit the other night and I had my first run-in with an Alien Ruler! They're...not so friendly.
Mogri;2577462 said:
Well, for better or worse, the thing you're afraid of triggering with the skulljack (and the psi portal down the line) will show up on their own, as I discovered on a recent campaign.

[Alien Rulers]
No kidding. Having played Alien Rulers prior to WotC, the Chosen feel incredibly tame in comparison.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Missions 17 & 18: Big & Bigger


While the team recovers from that last mission, the propaganda department gets back to work spreading the good word of XCOM. We add Eastern Europe to our network, which happens instantaneously because of the resistance order we have equipped this month. Then I sell a few muton berserker carcasses (the Black Market was Very Interested in them) and use the money to upgrade our resistance comm center. This gets us one more contact slot, plus the ability to staff a second engineer in the room to add two more later.


Currently, though, I only have enough intel to add New Mexico, which is apparently now located in, uh, regular Mexico. Since I can't connect to any more regions, there's no point in staffing the comm center yet. My free engineers are currently digging out the last rooms in the Avenger, and their time is better spent on that until I acquire enough intel to keep expanding the network.


Hey hey, we've tracked down the Chosen Assassin! This adds a mission to the map where we'll be able to finally take her out permanently, although I doubt we'll get to it for a while. The Assassin hasn't been much of a thorn in our side - you may recall that she's only showed up once and was instantly atomized by an exploding truck. The Chosen takedown missions are long and fairly difficult, so I probably won't attempt one until we have powered armor and plasma weapons.

Our next covert op is a milk run to pick up some supplies, since we're still super broke. Not worth a screenshot TBH.


We finished researching the experimental weapons! That means we can build four different unique weapons:
  • A frickin' crossbow (does very high damage and can stun enemies, but it only holds one round of ammo)
  • A flintlock pistol (has a special shot that is guaranteed to hit and puts the shooter into stealth)
  • A pair of axes (sword replacement, once per mission you can throw one of them as a free move)
  • The frost grenade (freezes enemies for a few actions, basically custom-designed for killing alien rulers)

HEY FOLKS: Do you want one of these for your character? Speak up if you do, otherwise I'll just distribute them as I come into the funds to buy 'em (and then upgrade 'em, since they start as first-tier weapons). The crossbow can be used by a specialist, ranger or psi operative, the pistol is sharpshooter-only and the axes are ranger-only. The frost grenade will just go to whichever grenadier I have on the squad, because it's too useful to leave at home. Most of these toys will become obsolete as we start collecting the Chosen's weapons, so let's enjoy them while we can!


As a bonus, research for Plasma Weapons is now inspired. My bet from last time paid off! We obviously get right to work on that.


Our redshirts come back from their supply run with the much-needed supplies. There's a covert op to reduce the Avatar meter that I'd like to run, but it's quite risky and there's nothing I can do to lower the chance of ambush. For now, I'll just accumulate some more ability points, since you can't have too many of those.


Gear time! I buy an EMP grenade, which is the explodive equivalent to the Bluescreen rounds. Absolutely one of the best items in the game, IMO, especially once upgraded. We finish researching plasma grenades, adding some much needed damage and shredding to our basic ordinance. And to complete the explosive trifecta, we start the frost grenade project in the Proving Grounds, although it won't be ready for a few days.


Esha is now officially a psi operative! Not much of one with only one skill, though, so we'll leave her in the oven for a while longer. Spook's still recovering from his rave, so he's not using it anyway. Building that second psi chamber would be a nice luxury, but it's expensive enough that we probably won't do it any time soon. Flawgic and Spook will have to keep hotseating it for now.


Hachimachi, that's a lot of red squares. Looks like we'll need to assault that ADVENT facility sooner rather than later.


Before we can, though, it's guerrilla op time. I can't afford to let the aliens speed up their Avatar development, so we're basically railroaded into doing this particular mission. Note the Sitrep: we aren't allowed to send any high-ranking soldiers on this one. I've only done one mission with this restriction in the past and it went pretty badly, but there's no getting around it. On the bright side, between the reward for this mission and the room we just cleared in the Avenger, we'll actually have some supplies to spend once this is over.


Here's our crew of fresh faces! You can tell I ran out of custom characters to field because Ferguson is back in the squad. On the bright side, Big Sexy is finally hitting the big time! Let's hope he fares better in his debut than DESTIL did. One thing to note is that I don't have enough cool accessories to outfit everyone in a six-person squad now that they have two slots each. We don't really need mindshields for this mission, but I don't have anything better to give Kurt and Ted, so I'll leave them equipped in case we are accosted by some priests.


As it turns out, this mission was pretty easy. I won't spend a lot of time on it, so here are the highlights. First, shooting (snake) people from roofs!


Second, Matchstick's repeater proccing and killing an archon with a single shot!


Third, here's a shot of the dropship that brings in enemy reinforcements, since I've never actually shown it!


Fourth, it's our cool new EMP grenade! This version does good damage to robots and makes them easier to hack. Once it's upgraded, it will also shut them down for a turn, which is HUGE when you're dealing with a sectopod.


Fifth, I picked up this thing! The mission objective was to grab this out of an ADVENT van, but I got pretty confused for a second when this notification popped up, wondering if I could actually do anything with this doohickey. I cannot, unless you count completing the mission.


Sixth, Big Sexy gets a kill! Two, actually, he grenaded a MEC to death earlier in the mission.


Seventh, it's a plasma grenade! They shred two armor, which is totes magotes, and the extra damage is a nice bonus.


Good job, team! Way to not die, Big Sexy!

We get a lot of promotions out of this mission, but sadly Sexy is not among them. I give Ted and Ferguson Deadeye, which is the sharpshooter skill that isn't Lightning Hands. It gives you a damage buff at the expense of accuracy, which honestly isn't a tradeoff you want to make a lot of the time. Lightning Hands is deffo the better skill overall, but we might as well have a bit of variety between our endless snipers.


Back at the base, we complete work on the Frost Bomb. I had called it a grenade earlier, but it's actually a bomb, which is the term for upgraded grenades. I guess they consider this thing good enough that it doesn't need to be upgraded, which seems fair. We also start building a radio relay in Eastern Europe to decrease the intel costs as we move into Asia. I've never really figured out where the best places to put radio relays are, although I'm sure there's a reddit post somewhere out there that goes into it in excruciating detail.


Ha ha, Warlock messed up his sabotage. I think sabotage has a fairly high chance to fail, which is good, because it takes one of your rooms our of commission. Or maybe it straight up destroys it? I don't remember, because it usually fails.


So. Let's get down to business.


This is an important mission, so we're bringing along the heavy hitters. Also Inquisitor, in case the Warlock shows up. I spend the money to build the last of our mindshields and we now have a full set! It's really annoying to have to waste an accessory slot per soldier on a mindshield, but it's too big of a risk to run when the Warlock might show up on a mission. The exception to this is Nightwalker, who will be spending most of the mission invisible. Can't mind control you if they don't know you're there [guy tapping his forehead gif].


You want Alien Rulers? We got Alien Rulers! This charming gal is the Berserker Queen and she has a whopping 90 HP. That may sound ridiculous, but the thing about rulers is that they don't heal between missions. So our goal for today is to a) survive and b) deal as much damage to her as possible before she runs away. Now the good news is that she hasn't seen us yet...


...but the bad news is that she isn't our only problem right now. This group is just sitting here, waiting, completely unsuspecting. It would be so easy to take them out with a combination explosion. Of course, doing that would alert the Berserker Queen, who is slowly making her way over to where this hapless bunch are waiting. So the smart move here is to just set up camp out of sight until she either overlaps with them or else moves out of range.

But that other pod just looks...so...tempting...


Unfortunately for my squad, I have poor impulse control. When I see an opportunity to annihilate an enemy patrol in one fell swoop I just gotta take it. Spoony lobs a grenade in, setting off the claymore, and 2/3 of the enemies are gone. The advanced MEC is still standing, but it's on the ropes.


Also I think that BQ might have noticed us.


She starts to close the distance on the squad. And she keeps closing the distance, because every time one of us takes an action, she gets an action too. That includes overwatch shots like this one, but not free actions...


...like Lightning Hands. So because the alien rulers get a free move for every one you take, the name of the game is piling on damage efficiently. With all that armor, pistol shots can barely scratch her (and these are upgraded mag pistols, another purchase from our latest shopping spree). In retrospect, I should have saved this move for a later turn once we'd burned some armor off the queen. Also in retrospect, I SHOULD HAVE USED THE FROST GRENADE ON HER. Curse the overpowering allure of the double explosion!


Speaking of free moves, Inquisitor's Lash is another handy one that we have available. It can only be used once per mission and is custom-designed to take down robots, so we use it to finish off that straggling MEC without giving BQ another move.


Unfortunately, his next shot is a miss - and you know what that means!


BQ's first offensive move is a ground-pound à la Donkey Kong. It does a small amount of damage to everyone in range.


Her next move tests the willpower of everyone close to her; anyone who fails will panic. Miraculously, everyone passes the saving throw. That's very fortunate, because I imagine that panicking soldier moves trigger ruler reactions just like everything else.


Inquisitor has better luck with his second shot (thanks to Zero In, which gives him a bonus for firing at the same enemy twice in a row), but it also lays bare our biggest problem right now: dat armor. Because I was so incredibly smart as to use Spoony's turn on the other pod of enemies, we don't have anyone with shredder to bring that armor down right now. And because I kitted the squad out for mind control protection, nobody aside from Spoony has a grenade to toss either. Which means we're going to be stuck for this whole turn doing piddly damage to the Berserker Queen, who is going to return it several times over for every action we take. I'm a tactical genius!


Spoony is on the receiving end of BQ's next attack, which hurts about as much as it looks like it does.


Nightwalker, surprisingly, is in a good position to do some damage because his shots have two points of armor piercing. No point staying hidden right now!


We manage to survive into the next round, so I quickly heal of Spoony. The queen responds with another scary yell and again the squad keeps their cool. Nice work, guys! Now I can finally do something about all that armor. Shredder works its magic and suddenly we're in a much better spot.


One positive thing is that BQ keeps walking past Kirin. Kirin has Bladestorm, which means he gets a free melee attack on her every time she does this.


By now, we've put a serious dent into the Berserker Queen's life bar. One more slash from Kirin brings her below 2/3 of her max HP...


...at which point she tries to make a break for it. If you look at Tygan's dialogue here you'll glean a bit of the backstory on the Alien Rulers. Apparently doctor Vahlen, the science officer from XCOM:EW, has been tinkering with aliens. For some reason, she seems to think that making super-powered badguys is going to help the war effort? Unfortunately, she isn't present to explain her reasoning and we're the ones who have to clean up her mess. Dang theoreticians.


There's no way that we can kill BQ before she makes it to the warp gate that she summoned, but every point of damage we do now is one less that we'll have to worry about next time she shows up. Nightwalker gets in a parting shot, and then she's gone.

Phew, all things considered, I think my first encounter with an Alien Ruler...could have gone a lot better, honestly. If I had been a little more patient I could have at least gotten the Ruler in the blast along with the three other enemies, which would have reduced her armor before the squad opened fire. Oh well, at least I haven't gotten anyone killed...


...yet. The team reloads and heals up, and then I immediately stumble into another pod consisting of a Muton, a Sectoid and this ultra-heavy turret. Man, my commanding game has been really off-kilter for the last few missions.


Ultra-heavy turrets have few HP, but they come equipped with a ton or armor. Gerad can't punch through it alone.


On the bright side, I at least remembered to use the frost grenade. That muton is now frozen and will lose his next turn or two.


Encased in ice, he makes for easy pickings.


Nightwalker's combination of bluescreen rounds and armor piercing makes short work of the turret, and Kirin dices up the sectoid for us. Once again, the situation is under control.



The rest of the mission is pretty uneventful. There's a squad of enemies guarding the heart of the facility, but none of them manages to lay a finger on us.


Kirin plants the charges to bring down the facility and then it's time to go. This time we have control over where the evac zone will appear, so I put it just outside the base and manage to get everyone into position to leave in the same turn.


Battered, but victorious, the team limps home. The mission honestly wasn't so bad, and if I'd been smarter about engaging the Berseker Queen we would have even fewer casualties. Oh well, it was a learning experience if nothing else - and we'll have many more opportunities to put these lessons into practice.


With the ADVENT base destroyed, a healthy three ticks are removed from our doomsday clock. Sweet, sweet breathing room! We have another base mission that we can undertake whenever we're ready, plus we can bring the clock down a tick or two each time we complete a story mission. So we'll need to keep an eye on it, but for now we're out of the danger zone. What should we do next? We'll figure it out next time on JTX2CPT!!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2578107 said:
I'm pretty sure sabotage just steals a piece of loot. That's incredibly tame, given how infrequently it actually works!

Also, you just made the Berserker Queen a potential random spawn on every mission until you manage to kill it. Have fun!
MetManMas;2578140 said:
Whenever DWN-009 joins the character pool I want him to be a crazy dual axes man.
Violentvixen;2578182 said:
I am kind of tempted by the axes, but I think I have to stick with my awesome sword.

I think.
Olli T;2578185 said:
Hooray, I got some kills!
MCBanjoMike;2578195 said:
[Here comes the Berserker Queen]
Good times ahead!

[Axes for Met Man]
That makes sense, consider it a deal. I'm going to have to unlock Asia's continent bonus before I train any other soldiers, but I'm headed that way now anyway.

[Sword or axe for VV?]
Don't worry, there's another unique sword farther down the line that I already have earmarked for you.
Violentvixen;2578383 said:
Oh man now I absolutely can't die.
MCBanjoMike;2578409 said:
Oh geez you just...don't say things like that, you know?
Violentvixen;2578581 said:
No no, not THAT reading. The "I must will myself to stay alive to get an awesome sword" reading of that line.
MCBanjoMike;2578637 said:
Easy for you to say, I'm the one who actually has to do it! :toastybert:
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Missions 19 & 20: Am small, leafy tree-like plant. What am?

Here's a riddle for you! Mull it over while I present...


...the totally sweet infirmary that I'm (finally) building! All those 20-day recoveries are starting to become a nuisance, so let's put a stop to them. We also have some PTSD to cure, thanks to the magic of future science!


Bah, I knew this was coming, but I'm still not happy about it. There's so much stuff I could spend supplies on right now, but I guess we'll have to make do with what we've got.


Esha learned stasis! Next up is Fuse, which is a delightful ability that explodes any grenades an enemy has on their person. It's fun to use and I think it fits her personality pretty well.


Time for a supply raid. This one is a Lost mission, which means it'll be easier than usual since there won't be as many aliens on the map.


Lost missions are a great way to power-level characters, so I stick Big Sexy on the roster in hopes that he'll make corporal (and ideally build up a chunk of experience toward sergeant, when he'll really start to be useful). Note that we have the continent bonus that allows us to field lightly-wounded soldiers, that's why we have a few people here who aren't at full health.


We start with a group of two vipers and a single spectre. I set up an ambush down a long alleyway and we engage.


We clear out one of the vipers and seriously damage the spectre, but it survives long enough to grab Aquadeo.


Thankfully, Aqua and Vixen are on the buddy system, so she kills the 'bot, which frees Denton and disappears his evil clone.


Here's something I've never seen before - a viper constricting a Lost! As you can imagine, that makes them both pretty easy pickings for the squad.


We get through the first encounter unscathed, but we're losing the race to secure the supply crates. Unlike in retaliation missions, there's no minimum number of crates that we need to collect in order to "win" the mission. We'll get less of a reward if ADVENT hauls their supplies away, but I'd rather that than make a stupid mistake in an attempt to grab as many as I can.


Here's a cool shot of Big Sexy annihilating a plate glass window, along with a troublesome zombie. I won't be showing every kill in the mission, but rest assured he gets his share. Gotta get that XP!


Farther up, we come across a trio of ADVENT hiding inside a warehouse. Spook proves the worth of the psi operative by putting the advanced MEC into stasis and then zapping the shieldbearer in the same turn. Psi ops are pretty sweet!


There are a LOT of zombies on this mission (check out the number of icons at the bottom of the screen), in part because I keep making things explode, which attracts more zombies. The Lost never were A Thing and they still aren't, although by now they're starting to have a lot more HP. That's mostly annoying because I can no longer count on endless, reload-free pistol killing streaks to clear them out.


VV slices her way through the rest of the ADVENT pod. I had forgotten that the upgraded sword she's using can stun robots - pretty handy! Not something you'd want to try on a big one, though.


I never get tired of the squad reactions when their teammates shoot over their shoulders.


I said I wasn't going to get greedy for crates and then I did it anyway. I stepped out just a little too far and triggered the last group of enemies in the level. The person in the worst situation is Spook, who is flanked by this new group. With only a few moves left in my turn, I have Aquadeo stick an Aid Protocol on him and hope for the best.


The protocol does its work, protecting him as an ADVENT soldier tries to take a shot. The archon finally does what I expect all archons to do and we get our first Blazing Pinions of the campaign! This is a move where the archon flies up high and releases a swarm of rockets into the air. We have one turn to move everyone before they slam into the ground, leveling whatever is in their path. In this case, it's actually a good thing for us; the archon didn't attack Spook while he was exposed and the pinions aren't going to cause us too much trouble.


The pinion targets are marked on the map by these columns of laser light. Normally they'd be sitting square on top of a number of our troops, but for some reason a lot of them are in pretty random spots this time. We'll need to move a few people to safety, but for the most part they can just stay put. Note that you want to get a few tiles away from the marked squares, as the pinions do explode on landing. I underestimated this in a previous campaign and basically lost my whole squad to this attack. That was the end of that campaign, so it's been engraved in my memory ever since. But hey, live and learn, right?

I mean...I lived and learned. No-one on my squad did.


The third enemy in the final pod is a purifier, but he's too busy doing his job (burning zombies) to bother with us.


I should really stop exploding cars on zombie levels, but you know I'm not gonna.


Really should, tho.


Because of my gung-ho attitude, the squad gets overrun by the endless horde of Lost. Vixen takes a couples hits and Aquadeo gets dinged too. Still, it's more of an annoyance than anything else at this point. I don't think I've ever lost a soldier to damage taken from a Lost attack.


Archons are naturally hard to hit because they are considered flying enemies, which gives them a defensive bonus. There actually aren't very many flying enemies in XCOM 2; there were a lot more in the previous game. The defense buff makes it hard to burn through their generous supply of health, so we use every means we have available to us. In the end, a steady stream of pistol shots does the trick.


Vixen pops the purifier, who never even raised his weapon against us, and the mission is over. Thankfully, we aren't expected to deal with all the ensuing zombies.


Decent round of promotions, there! I think Sexy clocked in over 10 kills on that mission. He has earned Shredder, the mark of a true grenadier.


Hey, one of my pet projects just completed! The Bolt Caster is going to need an upgrade before it sees any action in the field, however. Who wants to take this thing for a spin once it's ready?


We finish our radio tower in Eastern Europe, which gets us this handy bonus. It also gives us cheap access...


...to West Asia, who now join the fold. If I can get all four regions of Asia then I'll [strike]earn 7 bonus armies per turn[/strike] be able to unlock the bonus that lets us train rookies into sergeants at the Guerrilla Tactics School. That would be a very good way of getting our last few custom characters into rotation.


We complete the first leg of the Hunt for the Hunter and then immediately start into the second part of the Warlock's chain. I typically dispatch the Warlock first, since he's so much more annoying than his siblings.


All right, we've been putting this whole story thing off for long enough. Time to build the skulljack and accomplish one of our main objectives.


HELL YES, plasma weapons! I pay the 175 supplies to unlock plasma rifles squad-wide. Of course, that's no help to our snipers, grenadiers, templars, reapers and skirmishers, none of whom can use that weapon. But hey, it's a start.


I definitely can't turn down a chance for increased pistol damage. Think of all the lightning hands yet to come!


An instant shieldbearer autopsy gets us this, which is the random-gacha-item equivalent for vests. Some of the special vests you can get this way are actually pretty good, so I'll probably invest in a few later. As with the special ammo and grenades, these are unlocked at the Proving Grounds and cost Elerium Cores, which are in short supply right now. Or, come to think of it, pretty much all the time.


Time for our report card. The Spokesman is happy with our progress, but I'm still smarting over losing half our money. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have 500 supplies in the bank...


Here's where we're at with the Chosen. Despite my earlier statement, I may have to prioritize the Hunter, as he seems to be closest to filling up his bar. If that happens, we'll have to deal with a special mission that I'd rather avoid if possible. The Hunter is a chump, but he's got my favorite weapon in the game, so I can't say I'd be all that broken up about dealing with him first. Of course we're a good two covert ops away from that being an option...


Let the healing begin! Our shiny new infirmary is ready and I immediately staff it with an engineer to shorten our recovery times by half. I also slot Sensenic into the...trauma chamber?...so he can start getting over his fear of snakes. It'll take him 5 days to reconcile with our scaly friends, during which time he will be unavailable for deployment.


Esha learns how to make enemy ordnance explode with her mind, so obviously her next ability has to be Void Rift. It isn't actually that great in XCOM 2, but it suits her personality to a T.


So, who here figured out my riddle from earlier? Anyone? Bueller?

Yeah, it's ambush time. Had to happen eventually, I guess.


So here's the thing with ambush missions: they aren't actually that hard. The reason why I thought they were hard for so long was...Central Officer Bradford. Bradford was the goody-two-shoes operative in the XCOM vest from Enemy Unknown. In between EU and XCOM 2, he became a hardened, cynical veteran alien killer. He's also the guy who gives you the most radio chatter while you're out on missions.

When you drop into an ambush mission, Central has one piece of advice for you. Forget about cover, just run for the evac zone before you are overrun by ADVENT and zombies! Great advice, Bradford...if you're trying to get us all killed. Because shortly after you start making your escape, a signal flare drops and reinforcements arrive...behind you. If you follow Central's advice, you'll find yourself caught in a pincer attack as you try to sneak forward to the exit while being pursued from behind. It's a bad time!


It turns out there's a much, much better way to deal with this situation: set an ambush for the ambushers. All you have to do is clear out the (fairly small) group of reinforcements as soon as they touch down. Once that's done, you can take your sweet time making your way to the evac zone. It's almost like they give you bad advice on purpose just to amp up the stress of these missions.


A measly two ADVENT soldiers drop out of their ship and are immediately dealt with. Now we can use our Reaper to stealth our way to the exit in complete safety.


We run into a smattering of ADVENT and zombies as we make our way forward, but it's really nothing to worry about. I did make a point of putting a capable squad together for this mission, which definitely helps. It's also good to send along a full complement of three troops, even though it only technically takes two to run the mission.


Most of the time, the Lost seem to exclusively focus on your squad, no matter how many ADVENT are around. Every once in a while they'll fight with each other, which is nice. This ADVENT soldier wastes his turn shooting at a zombie, which is good news for us.


Or it would be, if he didn't blow up a dang car in the process. :rolleyes:


VV and Kirin tend to get most of the slashing action, but here's a shot of Matchstick showing that he knows his way around a blade too.


The last enemy between us and sweet freedom is this purifier. And wouldn't you know it, he's standing right next to a car...


I can't deny who I am, there's no point in trying.


And so, by completely ignoring Central's advice, we make our exit without taking a scratch. I've always been stressed out by these missions because of the small squad size, but if you keep a cool head then they're pretty easy. If all else fails, stick a Reaper on the team and you can probably just run them right to the exit without being spotted.


Nuff said.


Oh dang, Nightwalker just made Major. Reaper Majors are goooooood - both of these abilities are must-buy (in contrast to captiain-level upgrades, neither of which is great). Not only do we get to bring a second claymore with us now, but we also get Banish. Banish allows your Reaper to shoot at a single target until they run out of ammo. Augment their carbine with an expanded magazine and you can get up to seven shots in a single turn! That makes them exceptional boss-killers, especially if their target is a chosen who takes extra damage from Reaper attacks. You can only use Banish once per mission, and it does reveal the Reaper on use, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons.


Every time you finish a Chosen covert op, you become better friends with the faction opposed to them. That earns you new Resistance Orders, plus extra slots in order to assign them at the end of the month. This one is among my favorites in the game, it boosts the effectiveness of all our gun addons. That means something like a Superior Repeater, which already had a 15% chance of insta-killing any (any!) target, gets upgraded to a 20% chance. It's absolutely one of the best bonuses in the game to have, especially in the late-game once you have the modifications to really make use of it.


We immediately turn around and start the third segment of the hunt for the Warlock. For some reason, there's no chance of ambush on this one? Maybe they're too scared to try that sort of thing on us again...


We finish today's update by completing our Improved Pistols research. That's great by itself, but we also get inspiration for Powered Armor in the process! That means I have 13 days to scrape together the 300 supplies that I'll need to build the top tier of armor once the research is done. Challenge accepted.

Boy, XCOM is starting to become a force to be reckoned with. Once we have plasma weapons and powered armor, we'll be nearly unstoppable. It won't be long before we're knocking on the Chosens' doors! Will that happen next time? I haven't decided yet! Exciting times, folks, exciting times.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2579324 said:
[Esha learns void rift]
Disagree, love me some Void Rift. But then I always forget Stasis exists, so maybe I'm not the top authority on how to use psi units.

(See also: doesn't it seem like Stasis Shield is worse than basic Stasis? If you need to Stasis one of your own guys, you probably goofed up somewhere.)
Falselogic;2579383 said:
Who is Esha? Is Esha me?
Torzelbaum;2579389 said:
When I first read about the Psi Op class Void Rift was a skill that sounded really cool and that I hoped my character could get.

[Anybody wanna crossbow?]
I'm not sure if this really fits Spook's personality but I would have been interested. (Are those blades so it can be used as a melee weapon?)

[How about a plasma rifle?]
If this hadn't happened. I think I'll take one of these instead.

[Psi ops are sweeeeeeeet]
We sure are. :cool:

[Spook gets flanked thanks to his commander]
So maybe you could try to be more careful about doing stuff like this to us (well, mostly to me).

[On the subject of the Reaper skill Banish]
Does that also do extra damage to bosses that take extra damage from sequential attacks?

[On the value of stasis shield]
I don't know. It seems like a good thing to have for those "Oh shit!" moments - which seem like they could happen at any time in this game.

[Explosions everywhere!]
Does MC stand for Molotov Carktail?
Sensenic;2579435 said:
Aw yeah, I be like
Mogri;2579444 said:
I'm not denying it has its uses, but it's odd that Stasis Shield has Stasis as a prereq when Stasis is (at least to me) the clearly superior skill.
MCBanjoMike;2579448 said:
[Is Esha me? Am I Esha?]
Just like in the hit game Baba is You! Only it's Esha that's you! Not Baba! I actually really like the name Esha, it's so simple that I'm surprised it didn't catch on in any Western cultures.

[If you need to stasis one of your own, you goofed up]
It's like you aren't even reading this thread. :toastybert:

Yes, using stasis on an enemy is definitely preferable and it's what I do most of the time. But it sure it nice when you accidentally strand one of your soldiers out in the open to be able to shield them for a turn.

[Crossbow or plasma rifle for Spook redux]
The bolt caster, once upgraded, will also be a plasma weapon. I just need to liberate the funds first. I don't think you can melee with it, though. It would actually be a pretty good choice for a psi operative, given how flexible they are - if you ever found yourself low on rounds, you could use powers instead.

As for learning Void Rift, it'll happen eventually (assuming you don't die). Another great thing about psi ops is that they can learn every skill available to them for free, given enough time. It more than makes up for the high initial cost of building the psi lab.

[Sensenic in the bacta tank]
Snakes are cute. Snakes are our friends. Snakes mean us no harm.
Sensenic;2579450 said:
It's like that but instead of magic water I'm submerged in a vat of snakes. Shock therapy! It works!
Torzelbaum;2579569 said:
A plasma crossbow does sound pretty sweet but I think Spook would rather have more ammo (or at least the same amount as he currently has). So I'm not calling dibs on it.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Missions 21 & 22: Davy Jones' Locker


Welcome back, everybody! We start our update today by finally completing one of our earliest story objectives and building a skulljack. I don't know about you guys, but I for one can't wait to start jackin' it.


We have a little bit of money and a lot of empty rooms, so I initiate construction of the training center. This room will let us spend ability points to upgrade our soldiers. It's also where we'll be able to upgrade the power of friendship, AKA our soldier bond levels. I don't have any unassigned engineers left, though, so it's going to take a while to build.


Sensenic has finished curing his PTSD, so he's ready to go face-to-fangs with any snake the game can throw at him. Vixen has a bit of a mental block re: The Chosen, so I put her into the vita-chamber next to cure that. Also note that we're currently working on a scanning site that will lower the intel cost of the next region that we contact. A nice way to use that ability is to leapfrog out to an expensive, far away region and then set down a radio tower, making all your future connections cheaper. Hopefully I'll be able to try that for myself soon.


Everyone is in fine form and there aren't any missions knocking on our door, so let's be a little proactive here. We have the location of another ADVENT facility; it's only a one-pointer, but we might as well take it down while we're feeling strong.


Meet your Ruler Busting squad! Spoony is on frost bomb duty and Gerad is here because he's Spoony's buddy (and because we'll probably want a sniper on the team). Spook will be using mind-powers to slow the Ruler down and Nightwalker will be scouting to make sure we engage on our terms. Inquisitor is versatile and has a number of free-action-moves that won't trigger Ruler Reactions. And a healer will be essential, although Eric 'Rooster' Allen doesn't have anything in particular to recommend him over, say, Aqua.


We drop into the map and quickly find a pod of wandering enemies. Happily, we can engage these guys without drawing the attention of the Ruler.


Let's just say that a HOT time was had by all. :cool:


Eric and Inquisitor clean up and the first group of baddies is no more.


Unfortunately, moved Eric up a little too far and he got dinged by that ultraheavy turret.


Nightwalker, thanks to his very particular set of skills, makes short work of the turret (and another identical one a little farther ahead).


Tonight, the role of Alien Ruler will be played by the Archon King! After 3 years of delighting off-Broadway crowds, he's ready to step into the limelight.


Unlike our first run-in with a Ruler, this time we are fully prepared. We start by tossing in a frost bomb to prevent the next few reaction moves.


Then I have Nightwalker toss a claymore down and shoot it. Neither of these actions break stealth, which means he stays hidden, which means no free moves for the Archon King.


We take a couple shots, then I have Gerad give Spoony an extra move via teamwork so he can freeze the King a second time.


Inquisitor uses his free electric whip attack...


...then follows it up with two shots from his rifle. I like this shot of the Archon King, still encased in frost bomb ice.

Somewhere in there I also performed an experiment: having Spook put the Ruler into stasis. This works even better than the frost bomb, arguably, because the Ruler stays put for your whole turn, giving your team a chance to reposition, reload or heal up. The only downside is that you can't do any damage during that time, such is the nature of stasis.


Anyway, eventually we run out of ways to keep the King from attacking us. He launches his version of Blazing Pinions...



...which (as someone here correctly pointed out) drop as soon as anybody on our squad makes a single move. That's pretty rough! At this point, though, the entire team was at full health, so rather than try to reposition somebody I just took another shot at the Ruler. I mean have you seen how many dang HP that thing has?


After that, the King decides he's had enough. He summons a portal to escape and I have Eric take one last shot before he flees. Honestly, that encounter went pretty well - we put a serious dent into his health. I don't know if there's a way I could have avoided taking damage from the pinions, but otherwise it was a pretty flawless engagement.


Not much else of note happens on this mission. We run into another squad of ADVENT and I let Nightwalker test out Banish on a random captain. Uh...I should probably have used that on the Archon King, come to think of it. Anyway, I'll need to upgrade his clip size if I want to do any real damage with the skill.


Normally my troops look all frazzled when their friends shoot at things behind them, but not ol' Spoony. Cool as a cucumber, that one.


Anyway, we blow up the base and leave, striking a cool pose on our way out. Gerad was born in Egypt, but you can tell he's a Texan at heart.


The danger with being proactive is that sometimes you come home to find another mission waiting for you. In this case, it's time for our next Guerrilla Op, and unfortunately some of my best people are tired and injured thanks to their encounter with the King.


Not that this squad is anything to sneeze at, mind you. But I'd breathe a lot easier if I had a specialist to do some healing, or if Nightwalker was free for scouting purposes. Starting to think I should recruit a second Reaper soon...

Note that Kurt is rocking the skulljack - will this be the mission when we put it to use?


Well this is a fine kettle of fish. First turn of the mission, as I'm sending Kurt ahead for some scouting, he runs by a group of civilians and they rat him out. Collaborator scum!


This is not an auspicious start to our mission. We've got an archon to deal with and our team's positioning is all out of whack. I send Kirin in to deal some damage, but most of the squad is still on the roof of the building where they first loaded into the stage.


Gerad puts some work in with that pistol of his. The Talon rounds he has equipped also apply to his pistol shots, enabling him to do some decent damage with Lightning Hands.


Big Sexy explodes the archon, but no sooner have we taken care of one threat than another appears on the board. Well, for certain values of threatening, I guess.


The Hunter is as chumpy as ever, but our team is still on the backfoot. Exploding the Archon destroyed a bunch of cover, leading to a wide open stretch that's hard for our team to cross safely. We're also under time pressure, so I find myself using lowly half-cover square as I advance. That doesn't work out so good for Kirin here, as he takes a shot from the shieldbearer that was patrolling with the archon earlier.


Inquisitor uses Reverse-Get-Over-Here to bring himself to the shieldbearer, hit him with his claw and then immediately shoot him. Skirmishers don't hit hard, but they do hit often.


I really should have taken a second to put Matchstick back in stealth before advancing. But I didn't, so this group of two vipers and a spectre sees us before we see them.


The vipers drop down and get behind cover, but Sensenic quickly takes care of that, leaving them out in the open.


Kirin takes out one and the other is shot by I forget who.


Except that running Kirin up to melee that snake has alerted another group of enemies! This is a major hazard when using hand-to-hand classes. Ugh.


We still haven't dealt with that spectre, either, but it is hiding behind a truck. Kurt makes lemonade out of lemons by blowing them both up.


The spectre is badly wounded, but still standing. It drops down and shadowbinds Inquisitor, which would be bad for us if it had any idea where to hide itself afterward. As it is, Olli moseys over and mows it down on his next turn.


Kirin's way out in the open after slicing that snake and there are a bunch of ADVENT goons who have his number. He parries a shot from a magnetic rifle...


But then gets hit by a volley of bomblets from the advanced MEC. Which apparently set him on fire too? Geez, old K just can't catch a break today.


Sensenic drops a frost bomb to get us some breathing room, locking down the MEC and one of the troopers.


Inquisitor finishes off the big MEC, then Kirin and Matchstick take turns slicing this ADVENT officer through a concrete and iron bar fence. Unfortunately, Kirin is still burning, so he takes an extra 2 damage. Man, this is why I hate not having a specialist on the squad. We have medkits equipped, but we can't use one without being right next to him.


Compounding things is the fact that I'm making spectacularly bad use of my sniper right now. Gerad is way behind everyone, but rather than take a turn to run him to a better position, I keep taking pot-shots with low percentages and missing all of them. Then I tried using Kill Zone, a skill that allows him to take an overwatch shot on anyone who moves inside this enormous cone of blue squares. Yet somehow, nobody managed to trigger a single shot, despite him having an area the size of Montana within his sights. :toastybert: Kill Zone is definitely the skill with the highest disparity between how cool you think it's going to be and how cool it actually is when you use it.


Kurt takes care of this commander for us, leaving us with one more ADVENT soldier...oh, and that Chosen guy, right. For the record, all he has done this whole missing has been to slightly inconvenience our soldiers by marking them, which forces them to move before the next turn happens. The Chosen Hunter: He's a Chump (TM).


Kirin's in pretty bad shape and also still on fire, so we take a turn to stop drop and roll. Hunkering down allows a character to put out the flames, something that I normally would have done by having a specialist heal him. At the very least, he should be pretty safe there, hunkered behind some high cover.


The Hunter finally graces his with his presence, so I decide to dump him on the floor of this building by blowing up the roof that he's standing on. It doesn't do a lot of damage, but it removes his armor and also it's pretty funny.


That last ADVENT soldier is about to thaw, so I have Sensenic take a shot at him. Good damage! But maybe not such a great idea...


Freed from his icy prison, the soldier runs up onto the Hunter's roof and tosses a grenade...


...right down to where Kirin was hiding. All the concrete pillars in the world can't save him from the blast, and our elderly pirate friend is no more. Yarr.


Kurt's pissed now, so he runs into the building to take the fight directly to the Hunter. Our Chosen friend takes extra damage from close-up attacks, which I was hoping to use our Templar friend for.


We get revenge on the man who sank Kirin's ship, then Sensenic hits the Hunter with a frost bomb. The Chosen only lose part of a turn when they get frozen, so it isn't the most effective way to deal with them. But hey, every little bit helps.


The Hunter uses one of his harmless disorienting grenades to briefly stun Matchstick. That's fine, but you know what isn't fine? Have a look at the fire burning at the top left of the screen. Right next to...


...our objective. That's right, XCOM 2 is the kind of game where you can fail a mission because the computer you were supposed to hack got destroyed in the crossfire. I've had this happen because I got a little too trigger-happy with the heavy ordnance (hard to believe, but it's true). I've also had it happen because a sectopod decided to just up and step on the damn thing. I don't honestly know how I feel about this - part of me loves that it can happen, but it also sucks to lose a mission because of random chance. In this case, I don't even know what caused the computer to break. At first I thought it was the Chosen's flashbang, but looking at this shot it seems like the structural damage was already done beforehand.


Either way, this mission is FUBAR. But we can't go home until we take care of this Chosen, so Kurt gets up close to give him another piece of his mind.


I got a little overexcited and tried to EMP the Hunter. It's not very effective!


Inquisitor finally clears out the Hunter by giving him the old ONE-


[pause to appreciate the doofy look on this guy's doofy face]


-TWO.


Well that sure was a shitshow. It really goes to show how important good scouting is in this game. If I'd had a Reaper on the team, we never would have stumbled into so many groups of enemies.


Farewell, Kirin. May you sail the purple seas in the next life, ye salty dog.

I think we'll call it a day here. We may have made some mistakes, but the fight goes on. Tomorrow is another day, and it'll be time to make ADVENT pay! Pretty catchy slogan, huh?
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Sensenic;2582186 said:
Here's to the man that proved that you can live the dream, even if your dream is being a gaudy pirate who is also a Knight Templar who is also an operative of a secret alien killing organization... and look cool doing so.

*Salutes*

[On blowing up Viper cover]
Hahaah! Sweet revenge! That's what you get for traumatizing me! Somehow. In a mission you were not present.

Unrelated: Neat how the posters you made show up as propaganda on the missions!
Olli T;2582244 said:
RIP Kirin! You were the baddest of the badasses.
Violentvixen;2582644 said:
Noooooo

Also I just noticed the dialogue box talking about burgers. That's certainly a thing.
MCBanjoMike;2582714 said:
Ha ha jesus christ, Tygan, what the hell.

[spoilerpop]The writing in XCOM 2 is generally pretty dang bad, and one of the recurring "gags" in the game is Tygan's fascination with the ADVENT burger. At some point the characters talk about how the aliens outlawed livestock during the occupation, which doesn't seem to have had an impact on the state-run chain of burger joints. The implication is that the meat comes from less-savory places, but Tygan used to work for ADVENT and he misses those burgs nonetheless. His quip about standing next to an ADVENT Burger menu can pop up any time you take a photo of someone from your squad. I don't know if the designers realized it could happen while memorializing someone, but I hope they did and left it in anyway. That's dark as fuck.[/spoilerpop]
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 23: My Love For You Is Like A Truck

Hey folks! We're on the verge of something big, but we have to do one last round of table-setting before we'll get the big payoff. I've played the next three missions and I tried really hard to edit the screencaps down to a reasonable number, but I just don't think I can cram all three into a single post. Instead, I'll try to put up three quick updates in the next day or two in (somewhat) shorter posts. Here we go!


We begin by completing the third and final covert op in the Warlock chain. We can run the mission to take him down whenever we feel ready, which will be...not yet. The Warlock is, of course, the most annoying of the Chosen, so he does make a pretty tempting first target.


The weapons research gacha machine spits out a set of tracer rounds for us. These give your soldier a straight +10 to aim, which is decent, but not top tier. I usually give these to one of my grenadiers, since their aim is so bad, but it's a decent fit for a sniper too.


I send Inquisitor out on a covert op that will give him a bonus to his movement - always a plus for a character who can do melee attacks. With this, we should be able to start swapping PCS chips freely between characters. Hopefully someone will disinfect them in between brains.


It's time for a supply raid! We got zambies, so this should be a piece of cake.


No sooner do we touch down than my prediction is proven wrong. The fellow who looks like he just walked out of Rapture is an Andromedon, and you'd do well to not underestimate him. We're actually getting toward the top of the tech tree, enemy-wise; not counting the unique enemies, there are only 3 enemies that I would consider more dangerous in the game.

Actually, there are 4 enemy types that we haven't seen yet, but one of them isn't as bad as the others.


We set up an overwatch trap and drop a grenade in to deal some damage and remove a bit of that armor from the big guy. The enemies scatter and I immediately put the Andromedon into stasis so I can ignore it for a bit. Note that he's just on the other side of the tree that Kurt is hiding behind, meaning he won't be hiding for long.


There we go. Kurt was up ahead scouting, so when he's revealed we're immediately spotted by another pod of enemies. Peachy.


So, once again, we're one turn into the mission and this is the situation we find ourselves in. You may feel that this is happening a lot in recent missions - I certainly do - but part of that is that the early part of the campaign went incredibly smoothly. A situation like this in the early game means dead soldiers. But here, with decent abilities and good armor, there's a reasonable chance that we'll be able to pull through without any losses. My typical mid-campaign losses are pretty consistent with what we've been seeing in the LP lately, the difference is that I usually toss a dozen rookies into the meat grinder in the early game, rather than the 1 (one) that Tyrant Squad had to bury. RIP Smashmouth.


The odds ain't great, but on the bright side, the enemies are being distracted by the horde of zombies that's just behind them. Sometimes this doesn't help, because killing a zombie is a free action for both friend and foe, but when they miss their shots it ends their turn just like it does ours. Freebie!


Archons gonna archon.


We manage to off one of the mutons, but the other one retreats. Consider this your official foreshadowing.


After having a few soldiers lay into the Andromedon, Aquadeo takes a shot and drains the last of its health. Easy peasy, right?


Uh, not so right. When you first kill an Andromedon, it goes from being an alien in power armor to...an autonomous robot suit with a thirst for blood. And a whole extra life bar. The manned Andromedon is kind of like a muton, firing plasma shots and throwing grenades at you. The unmanned version is like a berserker, charging in to deal massive melee damage while also leaving a trail of poison slime in its wake. Just delightful chaps. On the bright side, at least the second form doesn't have any armor.


Not to be outdone by the Andromedon's resurrection act, the Archon decides to whomp Joe with its spear, thrashing him to within an inch of his life. The good news is that we have a lot of healing available to us - Aqua has his usual medkit and I gave Joe a backup one because I didn't know what else to equip on him - so we heal him right back up. The bad news is that the Archon immediately does it to him again on the next turn. Don't worry, folks, he'll be fine!


The Andromedon shell charges Kurt, throwing a haymaker in the process. Thankfully, this melee attack isn't very accurate, because it hits like a ton of bricks and I'm not sure Match would have withstood it. Note the trail of acid left by the robot as it runs - you don't want to stand there.


The team focuses in on the robot suit...


And Kurt finishes the job personally. Note the dead alien flopping around, halfway out of the suit! Fun fact: they wear them because they can't breathe in our atmosphere.


This Lost learns a valuable lesson the hard way: NEVER MELEE A MUTON.


Matchstick was down to 2 HP before killing the Andromedon, and he's still surrounded by Lost with incredibly long life bars. We heal him up and the squad gives him a hand clearing out the horde. Then we send him back into stealth so he can resume scouting operations.


DUN DUN DUN. Morgi warned me that the Berserker Queen could show up on any mission and here we are. Truth be told, I actually knew this was coming; as the Lost move around, the camera occasionally shows you things that your soldiers wouldn't normally be able to see. I could tell we were in for a fight, so I took the time to heal and reload everybody before very carefully creeping up on this group.


Queenie here comes with her own corps of Muton guards to keep her company. At first I thought she had three, rather than the usual two, and I was feeling pretty salty. But then I realized: it was the Muton that got away earlier! Diabolical. Also, bad news for us. Anyway, as usual, our opening gambit is to freeze the Alien Ruler to buy us some room to maneuver. This has the knock on effect of freezing one of the Mutons. That's good - as long as we don't attack it, it shouldn't wake up for a turn or two.


To be honest, I'm still fairly new to dealing with Rulers and I'm not 100% sure what the best way to go about it is. It seems like the smart play is to focus on them exclusively until they're dealt with, since the penalty for leaving them alive is so huge. We start taking shots, but the two unfrozen Mutons are shooting back. Kurt takes another bad hit.


Mutons may actually love grenades even more than I do; here's a particularly impressive one that destroyed a bunch of our cover.


You have to hand it to Kurt, dude doesn't flinch no matter how big - and close - the enemies get. Right now, the name of the game is inflicting as much damage as possible with the smallest number of moves. Our trusty plasma rifles are our most consistent damage dealers in that regard right now, so I have him take the shot despite the risk of repercussions. This hit is the last straw, and the Queen retreats to fight another day. At this point she has less than one row of HP left, so I'm pretty sure our next meeting will be our last!


Big Sexy with the clutch crit, leaving us with only two Mutons before we can go home.


*sharp inhalation through teeth*OK, Kurt's down to one HP, time to book it. That was way too close.


Spook has a very fun ability that lets him permanently mind control an enemy unit once per mission. Unfortunately, he's still a little green and we don't have good psi amps, so his success rate isn't very high just yet.


Now I know what you're thinking: NEVER MELEE A MUTON. But this wasn't a melee attack, it was VV using Blademaster as the Muton ran past her. Sadly, her strike misses the mark, his does too, so it's a wash.


When you can't win 'em over with mind control, win 'em over with force. Spook takes down the last 'Ton and we out.


Man, look at Match with the clean sweep of the leaderboard! Kurt's looking pretty smug as he takes it in. Sorry Joe, there's no prize for second-most-injured.


Da da da daaaah! Aquadeo is our very first colonel! He picks up Restoration, an incredible ability that heals and removes status effects from the entire squad once per mission. It doesn't even matter where your people are, the gremlin will find them and it WILL heal them.


Huh, Joe's scared of Archons now? That's weird.


Well look at that, a Chosen sabotage succeeded! In the end, the consequences are much less dire than I feared. An extra week to complete our current covert op is more of an inconvenience than anything else.


Ooh, this is one of my favorite random vests! The stasis vest will heal your soldier by 2 HP per turn after they take damage, up to a max of 8 HP per mission. It also gives them +2 max HP, so it makes them pretty survivable.


End of the month! Agent 47 is mad at us because we blew up the mission objective ONE TIME, but aside from that things went well. We're finally going to get a decent payday, as our next supply drop will worth more than 500 supplies. At last, a chance to buy some stuff!


On the bad news front, we've got a couple really nasty dark projects in the works. Not one, but two different projects that will lead to our soldiers getting captured. Captured soldiers have to be rescued by undertaking a special prison break mission and I do not like it, not one bit. Oh, also all of our overwatch shots are going to miss. Man, this month sucks.


But hey, new resistance order! This one will upgrade all of our weapon mods, and that's huge. Look forward to bigger clips, free reloads and more executions.


As Kurt will attest, that last mission came very close to disaster. It's time to finally complete one of the most important research projects in the game. This slimy mudball is going to be our best defense against my biggest blunders (a condition I call Commander Brain). The fact that I've made it this far without doing this research is honestly maybe the best proof that I'm pretty darn good at XCOM 2.


Our training center is complete! Not only can we use this to increase the POWER OF FRIENDSHIP, but we can start spending AP to get BONUS ABILITIES for our soldiers! And there's no place I'd rather start...


...than with our cowardly grenadier, Sensenic. That's right, Joan's finally going to learn Shredder!(!!!) Not only is he borderline unkillable, but now he can actually destroy armor. You know, like a grenadier does!


Joan isn't the only one getting an upgrade. Every soldier has their own personal pool of AP that I can spend, plus we have over 100 communal points to distribute. For his valor in the line of duty, and as repayment for all the broken ribs, we're going to give Matchstick Run and Gun. I also pick up:
  • Implacable for Vixen (gives her an extra move any turn where she kills somebody)
  • Shredder for Gerad (always take Shredder!)
  • Revival Protocol for Eric
  • Combat Protocol and Lightning Reflexes for Aquadeo (versatility is a specialist's greatest ally)
  • Lightning Hands for Ted (no sharpshooter should be without it)
...and probably a few others I forgot about. We'll be saving some AP to spend as soldiers' purchasable abilities are revealed, but that's a pretty good start.


We also stick Aquadeo and Vixen into the friendship chamber. In three days they will emerge, less stoppable than ever before.

Now all of that was pretty great, and you'd be right to think that's plenty of upgrades for one post. But this is E3 week, and in the spirit of the great press conferences, I have One More Thing for you:


It's POWERED ARMOR, and it's available on Nintendo Switch right now!


Here's Aqua showing off the latest model. It's got curves! It's got lights! It's the only thing standing between you and 3 tons of angry Muton! And you can have this upgrade for your whole squad for only one extremely expensive payment of 300 supplies. Good thing we just got paid, huh?

Well, folks, hope you enjoyed the show. That's gonna do it for today, but I'll be back real soon with the next missions as we put the pieces in place for something big. Hasta luego; see you soon!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Sensenic;2585882 said:
[On andromedon shells having no armor]
Kind of weird that, considering the only part left of the alien in power armor... is the armor!

[Re: the stasis vest]
*Bravely volunteers for field test!*

[On finally learning Shredder]
See? We all get there eventually. Life... uh... finds a way. :D
Torzelbaum;2585936 said:
[Morgi warned me]
Morgi? Is that like a corgi version of Mogri?

[On Spook's (borrowed Warlock) armor]
My armor sort of looks like the medieval armor illustrations you might see for Japanese video games. That's kind of neat.

[Failed the mind control, nailed the shot]
If they won't join you then beat 'em. Uh... That's how that phrase goes, right?

[On the training center]
Can Psi Ops join in that fun or is their only option spending some "me time" in the Psi Lab?
Mogri;2585939 said:
Where's the "say a thing and a person will draw it" thread when you need it?
Violentvixen;2586002 said:
"Friendship Chamber!" is a fun thing to yell out loud in a gritty voice.
Olli T;2586011 said:
Aw man, things are getting intense! What's the estimated progression through the game at this point? Halfway through? 2/3 done?
Olli T;2586011 said:
Aw man, things are getting intense! What's the estimated progression through the game at this point? Halfway through? 2/3 done?
MCBanjoMike;2586034 said:
[To Torzelbaum]
That's actually the Warlock armor, which is in my character customization pool because of the ADVENT armor mod I initially downloaded for Morgi the Corgi. I accidentally assigned it to a bunch of people without realizing, because it doesn't look like the Warlock armor until you get to armor tier 2. And then I think it stops looking like it at armor tier 3 - I guess we'll find out soon. Anyway, for a hot minute we had a whole bunch of people running around with sci-fi codpieces.

[On the training center]
Psi ops get an even better deal: by spending enough time in the psi closet they can learn every skill available to the class for free! Sadly, they don't get any skills borrowed from other classes, but they're still extremely powerful nonetheless. As for friends, I'm pretty sure psi ops can have them. But friendship is earned on the battlefield, and Spook hasn't run enough missions to get close to anyone just yet.

[On game progression]
That's a pretty good question! We're entering the last third of the tech tree, so on that front we're quite far along. But we still have three Chosen to deal with and another 5 or so story missions left to end the game. I'd say we're maybe 60% of the way done? I expect we'll have played a total of around 40 missions once this is all said and done.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 24: Jack Attack


It's part two of our three-part lightning series! Today we're dealing with another Retaliation mission, and this time the aliens bought something new to the party.


Say hello to chryssalids! I'll give any long-time XCOM players a moment to hyperventilate before I continue.

...

Now then, here's the thing. In X-Com: UFO Defense, chryssalids were a Big Deal. In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, chryssalids were a Big Deal. But here in XCOM 2? Medium deal at most. The thing is, while our delightful bug monster friends still run fast and hit hard, in XCOM 2 they don't show up until the late game, when your squad can generally deal with them without breaking a sweat. Sure, they have a point of armor now, but we have PLASMA WEAPONS. They do have one new trick, though: they burrow into the ground and pop out when you walk near them, like icky slashly little land mines. The game gives you a quick shot of the chryssalids burrowing at the start of the mission to let you know that you'll have to be careful going forward. Stepping near one will get your soldier stabbed unless you have people set on overwatch to kill the chryssalid the second it pops up.


The first enemy we actually have to deal with is this superheavy turret. I don't know why I didn't just have Nightwalker pop it, but for some reason I decided to try EMP grenading it and then hacking it.


Now that's a fine plan and all, because having one of these things on our side would make the next turn or two very pleasant, but we have a problem: there's a dark project currently active that makes hacking stuff really hard. Eric has the skulljack equipped, which boosts hacking, and even with the buff from the EMP grenade, our odds of success are lousy at best.


I might take a gamble if it was a 50% chance to take control, but I'm not going to waste a turn flipping a coin just to disable it. We have more...permanent ways of doing that.


As Nightwalker creeps forward, he spies a regular confluence of enemy pods. Not all the chryssalids are burrowed, some of them are just walking around like regular folk.


I think everybody knew how this was going to go. The classic double explosion opening takes out the entire pod of bugs, but sadly the blast doesn't catch the ADVENT troops. Now, the eagle-eyed will have spotted the car and may be wondering why I didn't explode that instead? The answer is civilians; it's never a good idea to do a bunch of damage outside your field of view when you're sharing the map with civilians that need saving.


We haven't dealt with the first group of ADVENT yet, but another has strolled into the area of operations. They haven't spotted Nightwalker yet, so he drops a claymore into the middle of the group...


...and Gerad lights the fuse.


Unfortunately, one of the buried chryssalids pop up and decides to take a chunk out of Spoony.


Spoony repays it in kind...


...but gets hit again the next round. Chryssalids:Spoony::Archons:Joe.


At this point we are surrounded by a large number of ADVENT soldiers. A lot of them are wounded, but not enough are dead for my liking.


Adding insult to injurt, one of our civilians also drops its disguise and turns into a faceless. Eric lays into it, although the giant piles of goop have more HP than a single plasma shot can burn off.


With something like 6 enemies spread across the field in front of him, Gerad once again decides to gamble on Kill Zone. How does it go?


Well. In the end, he only takes two shots, one of which misses. That means he could probably have just lined up a shot on an exposed enemy and had as much success, only without the crushing disappointment. Kill Zone very occasionally lives up to its potential, but most of the time it's a mixture of missed shots and inexplicable failures to trigger.

Give it to a grenadier, though, and then you're really in business.


Sensenic is kind of all alone, up close to the enemies, but at this point I kinda take it for granted that he can't be killed.


Oof, that's a nasty-looking hit from the faceless. They don't actually do that much damage, but the animation really sells it.


Spoony clears out the faceless for Eric. Note the psionic rift that Spook put down earlier; it dealt some damage to the first ADVENT we ran into and also exploded that car! Rift isn't nearly as powerful as it used to be in Enemy Unknown, but I like that it can trigger explosions. It also has pretty long range, though not as long as a skill he'll be picking up later.


Eric's all outta ammo, but he is packing a skulljack and that is an ADVENT commander...


HACK THE PLANET! We finally complete one of our oldest mission objectives, getting our first (and quite possibly only) kill with the skulljack in the process. Hacking the commander is a fairly...invasive process. It also gives us a chance to pick up some goodies (typically intel), although in this case it didn't pan out for us. I do like how the hacking menu pops up on Eric's arm before the body starts to get cold, though, that's a nice touch. Anyway, mission accomplished! But what's this?


A swirling vortex of psionic energy materializes on the battlefield, bringing with it...


...one of the most annoying enemies in the game! This is a codex: it's the internet given form and it's just as hateful as you would expect cased on that description. Codices have a variety of psionic attacks, including a super annoying one where they force a bunch of your soldiers to waste a turn reloading their weapons and moving away from a time-delayed rift explosion. Also, every time you hit them, they split into two new codices and teleport around the battlefield. They are just unbelievably tiresome creatures.


And that's why we aren't going to give this one a chance to do anything. Nightwalker Banishes the codex back to the murky depths of 8chan, making very worthwhile use of the single charge he gets per mission.

So now you know why I waited so long to pursue any of the story objectives. From now on, codices can appear in missions as a regular enemy type. They aren't all that dangerous once you know how to deal with them, but they are supremely annoying and there's no good reason to put up with them in the early stages of the game. It's a lot like the alien base assault in XCOM:EU - the game basically rewards you for putting off the story content until your squad is over-leveled.


Aw man, my civilians! This guy gets a raw deal and a chryssalid takes him out. In Enemy Unknown, dead civilians would turn into zombies, and if you didn't kill them quickly they would crack open and another chryssalid would pop out.


XCOM 2 cuts out the middle man by simply turning characters killed by bugs into chryssalid factories. This pile of goop here will spit out a baby chryssalid with reduced health once per turn for the next three turns. You can either wait it out, killing the weaker bugs as they appear...


...or take down its (very large) reservoir of HP to shut the factory down.


With all the regular enemies dead, our last disguised faceless shows itself and is promptly dealt with. Mission accomplished!


To celebrate their victory, the squad reissues their 1982 debut LP.


Using the skulljack may have cursed us with unlimited codices, but hey, we also get a block off the Avatar project meter! Gotta take your victories where you can.


Spoony owes his life to copious healing, so we decide to invest a little more in XCOM's health care system. Once the medkits have been upgraded, the price to build them will go up by 1 (one) viper corpse. That can be really annoying when you don't have any lying around, so I build a spare kit before starting the research - all the kits we have will be upgraded for free once it's done.


We connect to the (new) arctic, which means we have half of Asia under our sway! There's hope yet for our remaining rookies, if I can get the continent bonus we'll be able to train them up to sergeant rank at the GTS.


Chosen Hunt covert ops usually come with a certain amount of risk, but every once in a while you get a freebie like this. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I immediately send a team on this mostly-safe outing.


What the- there weren't even any vipers on that last mission, Joan! You were exploded by a robot!


Spook picks up one of my favorite psi abilties, Fortress. With this, he can literally toss a grenade at his feet and be none the worse for wear. Now, I was going to take him out of the pod to give Esha a turn to learn some new tricks, but then I saw the list of skills available to T Baum next:


Hey, you know how it's cool when two teammates are friends and one of them can give the other an extra turn once per mission? Yeah, pretty cool. Well what if you could do that to anybody on the team, multiple times during the mission? Yes sir, Inspire is here and every other ability in the game feels bad in comparison. You could give a psi op this one ability with nothing else and I would still probably take them on any mission they were available for. So clearly we've gotta get this one for Spook. Sorry Flawgic, you'll get your turn soon!


Speaking of overpowered, we finish researching the unique physiology of the faceless and our reward is this: THE MIMIC BEACON. Every one of these things that you bring in to battle is basically the equivalent of a get out of jail free card, except they're for tactical blunders instead of jail. Enemies just hate these fake XCOM soldiers and they will attack them almost completely to the exclusion of everyone on your squad, buying you a turn to regroup and thin the enemy numbers. I honestly should have built this thing the very minute it became possible to do so, so consider the last 10 missions to be me showboating.


Ooh, beam cannons! These are basically only for grenadiers, but that's not going to discourage me. Plasma gatling guns: what's not to like?

Also we built a radio relay in the (new) arctic, but that's not worthy of its own screenshot.


Hachimachi, that's a lot of knowledge! Chumpy or not, if the Hunter manages to fill that bar all the way up, we're going to be stuck dealing with a special mission that I'd rather avoid. Looks like somebody just moved to the top of our hit list! Will we be able to deal with the Hunter before it's too late? You'll find out soon, as our week of XCOM continues!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2586101 said:
For my money, the Hunter rewards are the best, and it's not even close.
Torzelbaum;2586133 said:
[Wearing the Warlock armor]
I guess that's approriate since I'm a Warlock.

[Promotion earned: a Warlock no more]
Oh.. Uh, is there some different armor I should wear now?

[Void rift can trigger explosions]
I'm glad that I can do what makes you happy, Commander. :) *salutes*

[Fighting yields friends]
Looks like I'll start having lots of opportunities to make friends soon. ... But that means I'll be going on more missions...
Gerad;2586202 said:
Maybe you can argue that you're crazy and so you're not fit to go on any more missions. I'm sure there won't be any kind of catch.
MCBanjoMike;2586214 said:
If he didn't want to go on missions, he wouldn't have chosen to be a psi op. :toastybert:

[Hunter rewards = best rewards]
No rational person would argue this point, I think. However, the Warlock is by far the most annoying of the Chosen, so it's still worthwhile to deal with him first...when the Hunter isn't breathing down your neck.
Mogri;2586262 said:
Mindshields >>> Warlock, though.

Ideally, you want them squad-wide, but it's hard to justify the expenditure. Now that you have a Psi-Op, though, you grab Solace (I think is the name? the AOE brain immunity) and slap a couple on key members, maybe bring along a DE-571L unit if you managed to keep it out of the scrapyard. The Warlock goes from nightmare to joke really quickly.
MCBanjoMike;2586285 said:
Even wasting a bunch of accessory slots on mindshields is enough to annoy me, though.
Look forward to that for the final mission of the game.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 25: Hail to the King

Let's see if we can knock one last quick one out before the weekend! I'm going to post this first and edit it later because I'm in a rush and I like to live on the edge.


Another month, another round of guerrilla ops. I've made my feelings re: captured soldiers pretty clear, so we'll be trying to shut down this particular project with extreme prejudice. We're also starting to be due for another engineer, so the reward lines up nicely.


No Reaper today, but otherwise this is a pretty tight looking squad.


This mission features an abundance of "savage" enemy types, so expect a lot of aliens and not very many ADVENT. Our first group is just casually strolling along the top of this subway train, which is a pretty cool look if I'm being honest.


Of course you know I'm not going to let that opportunity slip by! We toss grenade up there, dealing some damage and destroying the roof. This drops them down a level, doing a bit more harm in the process. Not the most effective use of the old "destroying the floor" tactic, but satisfying nonetheless. Dropping turrets down is a guaranteed kill, so it's worth trying next time you see one on a roof.


We deal with the mudmen without too much difficulty, but Kurt has to leave stealth to finish the last one off. This becomes a problem when we run into our next pod, a group of chryssalids, and they end up getting the drop on us.


Every single chryssalid makes a beeline for Inquisitor, who is only saved by the fact that he's against a wall and only two of them can actually get into position to deal damage to him.


The squad comes to his aid...


...but we all know what they say about those that help themselves.


A little farther up, we find the objective. It is strangely unguarded?


Ah, there we go. Hacking the terminal triggers a group of reinforcements to drop in. But that's not all...


Look who was waiting for us! It turns out the objective was a little more guarded than I realized.


And hey, guess who's still afraid of Archons? Gotta hand it to Joe, though - he fights back the fear and maintains control, even in the face of the literal King of the Archons. He's actually a little calmer than I am, at this point.


The squad overwatches the group of ADVENT that drops in, but there's an advanced MEC in the squad and it only takes minimal damage in the exchange. The priest takes the brunt of the damage and puts himself into stasis out of desperation.


It looks like somebody isn't very happy to see us!


Welcome to yet another crappy situation! We frost bomb the King to slow him down and buy ourselves a bit of breathing room.


Kurt immediately gets to work on the Archon King, because clearly he don't give a fuck about royalty.


VV is equally unimpressed, landing a huge crit on our flying pal. Maybe it's just a ranger thing? I know who I'm bringing on our next facility assault mission!


The King does his pinion trick, leaving us with only a single turn to reposition before the exploding starts. But you know who has a free grappling hook ability? It's Inquisitor! He uses it to zip away from the explosion zone without triggering a reaction from the Ruler.


The pinions land in a spectacle of sound and fury, but it doesn't signify much. We take a little damage, but the bigger problem is that Vixen is knocked unconscious by the blast.


I cannot for the life of me recall why I suddenly decided that Inquisitor should be focusing on the MEC. Maybe it was to properly finish off the priest at the same time? I think that was it. We get some armor off the MEC at the same time, so I guess it's a somewhat efficient move.


Matchstick is the one who pays the price for that grenade, though, as the Archon uses its reaction to hoist him up into the sky. At first I was worried he would be abducted, but that's not how the Alien Rulers roll.


Now this right here is a perfect situation to test out our newest friend, the mimic beacon! Aqua tosses it into a tempting spot, where it draws the attention of the vanilla archon and one of the ADVENT soldiers. They waste their turn destroying it, instead of making our lives more difficult. Go mimic beacon!


Yowch, that's a nasty hit for Spoony.


Joe's Lightning Hands are up, so he takes a shot at the MEC. Look at that damage! The bluescreen rounds he has equipped affect the pistol as well as his sniper rifle.


Next, he tries to free Kurt from the King's grasp, but to no avail.


We missed our chance to interrupt the King, so it completes its move by slamming Kurt down on the concrete floor. He takes some damage and is stunned by the move.


With Kurt stunned, VV unconscious and Spoony in rough shape, now is the time to bust out Aquadeo's limit break: Restoration! His gremlin zips around the map, healing and reviving everyone on the squad. You only get one charge of Restoration per mission, but its worth its weight in gold.


Vixen is back in the action, but we've still got something of a numbers problem here.


Easy freezy! Now available in Asian markets, just look for Easy Freezy Japanesey at your local store.


Insquisitor sees a chance to finish off the MEC and takes it. That leaves the Ruler another free move, which he uses...


...to fly right past our blademaster! More free damage for us!


The regular archon comes on over and it's starting to get crowded in Aqua land.


Well hell, Joe got mind controlled. Guess I didn't kill that priest after all.


Inquisitor also takes a nasty hit, but we're about to start turning the tide here.


VV puts a definitive end to our priest problems...


...and Joe snaps out of his trance long enough to put a serious hurt on the Archon King. With that, the Ruler decides he's had enough for one day and makes a run for it. We don't manage to kill him on his way out, but we did a huge chunk of damage to him and he'll be easy pickings next time he shows up.


The squad cleans up the remaining enemies and we're go for extraction. Nice repeater proc, there.


Looking good, team! No rules, and no Rulers.


Remember how I excited I was yesterday about the psi op's Inspire ability? Skirmishers get it too! I also buy Inquisitor a Skirmisher ability that's like a poor man's bladestorm. He'll never do the same kind of damage that VV does, but I'm happy to settle for a free 6 HP attack on every enemy who comes within range. It's especially useful when Lost or chryssalids are around.


We completed the advanced explosives project at the Proving Grounds! This upgrades all of our grenades to bombs, increasing their damage and explosion radius. It also makes our EMP bombs shut down enemy units, which is super duper useful.


We finish part two of the hunt for the Hunter and them immediately embark on part three which...is also surprisingly risk-free? I don't know what the deal is here, but I'm not going to give ADVENT a chance to make things worse. Unfortunately, I need a high-level soldier for this mission and Spook is one of the only ones who isn't injured or tired right now.


The friendship chamber now welcomes Sensenic and Nightwalker. Have fun in there, you two!


Time for all the dark projects that we didn't stop to activate. ADVENT carrying a bunch of extra explosives around might worry me more if we didn't have someone on our team who could detonate them with her mind. It'll be a good month to start field-testing Esha!


This, on the other hand, is much more of an issue. I'll be sure to remember this on my next missions (ha ha no I won't). But even this is nothing compared to...


...LEFT BEHIND. Say goodbye to covert ops, because we won't be running any until this dark project is over! Or not many; sometimes we'll be able to neutralize the risk of capture, but currently there aren't any missions I can run where this is an option. What a pain.


In happier news, East Asia joins the resistance! We're only one country (and one radio tower) away from having the continent bonus I've been eyeing for so long.


We're running low on power, so I built another relay on top of our second alien power conduit. We should be good for a while with this.


New friends time! Joe and Inquisitor are now the bestest of buds (level 1).


We finish researching beam cannons and follow that up with an instant archon autopsy (try saying that five times fast). This unlocks better s-words for our rangers! I'm into it.


We get a breakthrough that reduces the cost of building the shadow chamber. Not incredibly exciting, but we're gonna have to build one eventually and I'm always short on supplies, so I go for it.


Meanwhile, in the psi lab, Esha picks up Schism, which lets her do a bit of damage when she uses Insanity (which applies status effects to one enemy). And check it out, she can start working on Inspire next!


We completed the last leg of the hunt for the Hunter. That's good! But Spook was injured on the mission and will be out for a while. That's bad!


Also, this is what every mission on this page looks like now: captures and ambushes for days. What a drag.


Month's over! We're starting to pull in a really respectable amount of supplies each month, this will really help in gearing up the squad for the big missions to come.


Venom rounds! They still aren't what I was hoping for, but these do +1 damage and inflict poison on anything with a circulatory system.


Excellent, time to get ourselves some plasma sniper rifles.


We pick up some supplies and immediately spend them all on improved gatling guns and plasma swords. With all these goodies in hand, I think we're finally ready...


...to take down our first Chosen. The Hunter has earned himself the honor of being our first target, since he's so close to filling up his knowledge meter. This is going to be a long, hard mission, but at this point I'm pretty sure we can handle it. Powered armor, plasma weapons and...


...an experienced squad that is loaded for bear. I really wish Spook was available right now, but instead we'll be making use of our new beam cannons by running double grenadiers. We're ready to put the hurt on the Hunter for the very last time. Join us next time, when we take him out or die trying!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Violentvixen;2586405 said:
I keep thinking the King of Archons is just wearing a sports bra.
Torzelbaum;2586407 said:
]Gerad thinks you may be crazy]
But I'm not crazy - I really am immune to fire, poison, acid and explosions! Here let me show you. *picks up a grenade* Oh, all of you might want to step back a few feet...

[Hell yes advanced explosives]
Chief, I think maybe when this is all over you should consider doing something to address your addiction to explosions.

[Wounded Spook]
Oh man... I hope I wasn't ravely wounded again. That is not as fun as it sounds. Did I at least finish my training as a psionic motivational speaker?
Sensenic;2586427 said:
[But you were wounded by a robot!]
You don't understand, nobody understands me!
Don't you see they're so, so... scaly, and slippery, and cold and... how can anyone not fear them?!
I knew a simple Dragon Ball magic bath wouldn't be enough. :(

[Gunning for the Hunter]
Aw yeah, it's on now! (As long as there are no snakes that is. Please let there be no snakes... or things that may remind me of snakes, such as, dunno, robots)
Torzelbaum;2586470 said:
Hey, could you keep it down? I might be ravely wounded here.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 26: The Hunter Becomes etc etc


We're in! The team smashes through the roof of the Hunter's lair in a not-particularly-stealthy fashion. Thankfully, we've got our Reaper with us, so at least one person managed to be really quiet when they blew their C4 charges.

Might as well get settled in, because we'll be here for a while. Chosen assassination missions are long, two-part affairs that always play out in the same way. We're going to start by scouring this fairly run-of-the-mill ADVENT-type facility for a way forward.


Complicating matters is the fact that we have not one...


...but two groups of enemies patrolling on opposite sides of the room ahead of us. Neither one of them wants to come into the middle of the room, they just keep entering and exiting from their respective doorways.


I spend a few turns biding my time, hoping to either get both groups together (for some good old fashioned explodin') or to pick off one before the other can show up.


Predictably, I mess it up and we get spotted by both groups at the same time. Peachy.


Well, when life gives you lemons, [STRIKE]make life take the lemons back[/STRIKE] explode the lemons a bunch of times. We drop in a gas bomb, followed by a regular old plasma grenade, on the four ADVENT soldiers who had the bright idea to bunch up on the right side. This doesn't kill any of them, but it softens them up a bunch and also just makes me feel better.


Our squad isn't actually in the room that is being invaded from both sides, thankfully. We are, for the most part, posted up in the room below that, meaning that both groups of enemies need to converge in the middle before they can run up on us. Gerad, meanwhile, has an unobstructed view of the central room. It's time, once again, to spin the Wheel of Kill Zone! We start off with a decent hit on a charging berserker Muton.


Of course, berserkers have a whole lotta HP, so it manages to charge through the fire and smash Vixen. Not before she gives it the old Bladestorm, though!


This looks really bad, but actually it isn't. Purifiers have incredibly poor aim and this one managed to light everything around Spoony on fire without actually hitting him.


This, on the other hand, looks pretty harmless but is in fact quite bad! One of the shieldbearers manages to put shields up on about 6 of the remaining, enemies, adding a good 30 HP to the enemy pool. Ugh.


Gerad takes another shot and AAARGH I FORGOT THEY ALL HAVE LIGHTNING REFLEXES NOW. Damn it, two weeks ago Mike was right!


But just when I was about to give up completely on my Kill Zone strategy, this happened. Apparently, a repeater proc takes precedence over Lightning Reflexes? Whatever, I'll take it! This brings Gerad's Kill Zone total up to one hit, one instant kill and one miss - actually not too bad, considering!


We're still pretty outnumbered, so it's time for Virtual Aquadeo to make the ultimate sacrifice for the team. See you time time, fake friend!


Ugh, look at all those shields.


Well, no point complaining about it. The team gets to work on whittling down the weakest of the enemies.


Along the way, Spoony gets shot. Then, in order to reposition, he has to run through the flames and set himself on fire. It's, uh, all part of my grand strategy.


It's a nasty fight, and we use up a lot of our consumables (healing, grenades, abilities) in the process, but we eventually drive them back.


Look at our boy, just shredding away! I'm so proud.

Now that our initial (two) encounter(s) is taken care of, we can start looking for the exit that will take us to phase two of this mission. The base that we are in is pretty sprawling and there are multiple paths open to us. Normally, this means I would exhaust every wrong option and fight every enemy in the place before reaching our destination.


But not today! I luck into immediately finding the right place...along with trio of archons and their andromedon pal. The worst part is that Nightwalker scouted this room from the doorway and didn't see them, but when Sensenic posted up at the other side of the same door he activated the pod and they got the drop on us.


Still, 4-v-6 isn't nearly as bad as the 8-v-6 odds we had in our last fight. Sensenic gets whacked by an archon, but he survives and we quickly whittle down the andromedon's first health bar. Fun fact: did you know that the andromedon's second form is considered a robot? We shut him right down with our EMP bomb, buying us a turn to focus on the archons.


We put a bunch of them on ice, then make with the shooting.


Just imagine another 6 screenshots of our people shooting at Archons, because that's what happened.


With that group of enemies cleared out, the squad is now free to stand on the mystic circle. Once everyone is in place (and healed and reloaded), we activate the teleporter, which takes us in...


...to the Hunter's lair. Welcome to part two of our mission! The second half of every Chosen's final mission is an exact copy of this room, which features some futuristic-looking architecture...


...as well as one of these. This is the Hunter's sarcophagus, a technomagical doohickey that keeps bringing him back from the dead. Breaking it is now our number one priority!


Before we can, though, we have to clear out the small group of enemies patrolling this place.


Along with the andromedon, we have an elite specter to take care of. I have a new technique for dealing with these guys - park VV next to them and shoot! If the initial shot doesn't kill them, the bladestorm will as soon as their turn starts. Bladestorm is the best.


A lone andromedon isn't much of a problem for our squad at this point. Check out the cool tracer rounds that Spoony is using!


The way is clear now for us to advance. When we get within sight of the sarcophagus, a cutscene is triggered and our good buddy the Hunter warps in to monologue for a bit before fighting us.


¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Here's how this is gonna go. First, we have to kill the Hunter. Once he's dead, we'll have about two turns to damage the sarcophagus before he is reanimated. If we don't destroy it during that time, we'll have to kill him again to get another window of opportunity. The Hunter also gets periodic reinforcements, but killing them doesn't actually get us anything; the mission ends the next time we kill the Hunter after the sarcophagus has been destroyed.


Sensenic peels off the Hunter's armor (YES)...


...aaaaaaand Spoony's repeater procs, triggering the instant kill. Did I mention that repeaters can kill any enemy in the game? Cause they sure can!


With the Hunter taking a little nap, we get to work on the obelisk. To my great dismay, you can't use Banish on the sarcophagus...probably because that would make things too easy. Instead, we pile damage on the old-fashioned way. This thing has a very large amount of health, so we'll be working on this for a bit.


In the meantime, reinforcements start warping in to cover the Hunter during his revival. Killing these guys isn't strictly necessary, since the mission will end even if they're alive, but you can't leave too many enemies running around unchecked, it's bad for your health. Gerad does some due diligence.


As does Vixen. Man, it's a total repeater party in here today. Also, do you see that big 50 on the HUD? That's how far along the Hunter is in his resurrection. Every turn that number goes up by (I think) 25, which means we realistically have two rounds to do our damage before we'll be dealing with that guy again.


Back to work on the sarc'. Mostly I just wanted to show off the sweet muzzle flash on the Reaper's rifle. Remember, violence is wrong unless it looks really cool.


More bad guys showing up to ruin our fun. Some of the early reinforcements were small fries, but it's getting harder to ignore folks like this archon. Still, I really want to max out the damage that I do to the obelisk before our window closes.


Aquadeo gets in the last hit and the sarcophagus shatters! This may actually be the first time I've destroyed one before its Chosen could respawn. Feels good, man.


Just a little aside to show off the venom rounds that Nightwalker is using. They do extra damage and will poison organic enemies. I don't think I knew that archons were organic!


Anyway, once the sarcophagus is destroyed, the Hunter reappears on the field. He only has 75% health because we didn't let him complete his regeneration cycle. There are still a few various aliens to deal with on the map, but the mission will end as soon as this guy goes down.


Sensenic opens up with a brutal hit, removing the armor (again).


Vixen follows up with a slash, which does extra damage because the Hunter is weak to close-range attacks.


And Nightwalker finishes him off with - what else? - Banish. Actually, if we're being honest, my plan was to use Banish to take him from 75% all the way down to zero...but Nightwalker didn't have enough bullets left in his clip. So we just did a little baby Banish with only 2 shots. It did the trick, though!


The Hunter reappears in front of his sarcophagus to give us an extremely bad (though mercifully short) death monologue.


BWA HA HA you're such a tool.


And that's it! The mission is over and there are 1/3 fewer Chosen left in the world. Completing one of these missions is always a bit of an ordeal, mostly because they are so long. Depending on the reinforcements that appear, it can also get a little dicey toward the end. The key is to remember that reinforcements only appear when the Chosen is regenerating. If you start to get outnumbered, let the Chosen live for a turn or two while you clean house, then you'll be in a better position to damage the sarcophagus once you take them down again.


To celebrate, we get some promotions! I give Vixen Implacable, which lets her take a bonus turn (move only) if she gets a kill. This will let her get up close on an enemy, kill it and then run away again in the same turn. High risk, high rewards: The Ranger Story.


SCORE. The best part about killing a Chosen (even more so than not having to deal with them anymore) is that you get to take their weapons. We'll need to run these through Tygan's lab before we can use them, but the payoff will be huge. These weapons will turn any sniper that wields them into a tiny god of 90s Squaresoft proportions.


Not to end on a downer, but all this killing and being shot at is taking a toll on poor Aqua. If you don't give soldiers some time to rest between missions, they can become Shaken, which is basically like being hurt. This is another way that the War of the Chosen expansion encourages you to keep a larger roster. If you pick 6 favorite soldiers and use them for every mission, they'll all have burnouts before long. Oh well, he'll be fine once we give him a chance to rest. It's not like he's afraid of snakes or anything.

Well folks, we did it! One Chosen down and the rest will follow soon. We've already got the locations for the Warlock and the Assassin, all we really need is to let the squad recover a bit before launching our next attack. The missions are going to be a bit repetitive, but we'll get some totally sweet rewards and a bit more breathing room for our troubles. Until then, vigilo confido!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2588717 said:
Your propensity for opening with terrible engagements is somehow miraculously matched with an ability to get yourself out of them. I don't know how you keep the squad alive time after time.
Violentvixen;2588766 said:
[]VV vs the spectres]
Yay! I'm helping!

[On earning Implacable]
I am very pleased with this.
Sensenic;2588774 said:
[Sensenic totally shreds]
Finally, some recognition...
That's... *sniff* that's all I ever really wanted... ;_;
For you to acknowledge me, da...I mean, commander. *sob*

[On the Berserker rug hiding in the background behind Tygan]
Wait, is that... a Berserker muton skin rug?
*ew*
Disgusting *and* in bad taste. You go, XCOM.
Vigilo, confido & ugly decoro.

[Mogri questions my qualifications]
True that. XD
MCBanjoMike;2588785 said:
Honestly, I think it's just that my level of focus is proportional to the amount of trouble that I'm in at any given moment. I usually play late in the evening when I'm pretty tired, so it's easy to do something dumb in the early minutes - then the adrenaline kicks in and I start paying attention. Thankfully, we're at a point when I can easily soak up a dumb mistake or two per mission thanks to our armor, the mimic beacon and (usually) stasis. The early game is much more unforgiving, although the penalty for losing a low-level soldier is also lesser, so it kind of balances out. But for us to lose someone at this point will either require some serious bad luck or else a string of 2-3 consecutive bad decisions on my part.

Well, that or sheer attrition on one of the longer missions.

[VV is happy]
If you're pleased now, just wait until you get the Assassin's shotgun and your damage potential doubles instantly.

[A berserker rug??]
Oh man, if you think that's in bad taste, you're gonna love what happens when we beat one of the Alien Rulers!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 27: That'll Teach Me


Welcome back! Last time we were triumphant in the face of adversity, ending the "threat" of the Hunter once and for all. That's super, but the team is going to need some time to recover before we can do a mission like that again. We'll be depending on our 2nd and 3rd lines for a little while until the A team gets back on its feet.


Next time we check the world map, we get a cutscene! This guy is an Ethereal, AKA Elder, AKA Sir Not Appearing In This Game. He's pretty mad that we killed one of the Chosen, and he spends a little while telling the two who remain that they suck.


"Tch"


Back in the psi lab, Flawgic has learned Inspire! Between that and Sustain, she now has everything a psi operative needs to succeed in life, so expect to see her on the next mission. In the meantime, we'll start her learning Domination, which definitely sounds like the kind of thing she'd be into.


For the first time in basically forever, we are flush with cash and don't have 100 different things to spend it on. That means we can finally add the last of our custom characters to the roster!


Say hello to MetManMas and JP. They won't be doing much of anything until we finish locking down Asia's continent bonus, but that shouldn't take long at this point.


The Proving Grounds are idle, so I decide to use them to build a WAR suit...which completes instantly. Did I get another continent bonus without realizing it? Anyway, WAR suits are extra tough armor that give the wearer another point of armor and allow them to wield a heavy weapon. For the record, that's the same category of weapons that we saw Destil use one (1) time before they got exploded.


The WAR suit is actually the upgraded version of the EXO suit, which I don't usually bother building. There are two grades of heavy weapon and the WAR suit can use the higher tier Powered Weapons, which can be super great. As usual, they're researched using the gacha system and they cost elerium cores to build. I really hope we'll get a
blaster launcher
, but all we can do is cross our fingers and see what pops out in a few days.


It's been feeling lonely on the Avenger without any cosplayers slicing things up with energy swords, so I think it's time to recruit another Templar. Not saying that anybody can replace Kirin, but actually that is exactly what I'm saying. Turns out this is one of the few Covert Ops available where we can nullify the threat of capture (and there's no risk of ambush), so we might as well get ourselves a new slashyperson. Ted will get a promotion out of the deal, which should help him catch up to our other snipers, too.


While we're making it rain on the Avenger, we decide to start constructing the Shadow Chamber. This is something you need for plot reasons, but it actually has some real-world benefits beyond that. I did some breakthrough research to reduce its cost, so we'll be getting this thing for pennies on the dollar. Like, 50 pennies, but still.


Now that we're rich, let's go buy a bunch of upgrades from the Guerilla Tactics School! I get the ones for Rangers, Grenadiers, Sharpshooters and Specialists, all of which are some flavor of "increased chances for critical hits". The ones for Reapers and Skirmishers aren't very useful, and we can't buy the (really good) Templar ability until we actually have one on our team again.


Duty calls! I believe you can choose to refuse council missions without penalty, but we really need that Intel so let's saddle up.


Here's our roster for today; you can tell we're scraping the bottom of the barrel because [STRIKE]Sarah Koenig[/STRIKE] Ferguson is back on the squad. Not that she's bad, but I typically try to stick to our custom characters as much as possible. Also note that I forgot I had that WAR suit when outfitting the squad.


Our mission for today is to kill or capture this enemy VIP. Killing him is enough to succeed and collect the supplies we were promised, but if we want the intel too we'll need to bring him in alive. Doing so requires that you get someone to deck him and then haul his body to the extraction zone, like you do with your own wounded soldiers (minus the punching part).


Given that we don't want to kill the VIP, you might think I would be unable to start this mission with my customary explosion. But that would be severely underestimating my desire to explode ADVENTs! By placing this gas bomb at just the right angle, we can get 2/3 of the enemy pod without harming our target.


Our bomb goes off and we take a few overwatch shots without killing anybody. Big Sexy is in the best position to continue shooting, so I have both Esha and Inquisitor use their skills to give him two extra turns. He takes advantage of those to kill one of the ADVENT troopers for us.


My genius plan to bomb ADVENT has left us with a fairly large cloud of poison gas in the middle of the engagement zone, which is limiting our movement somewhat. But when you can't go to them, just bring them to you! Inquisitor pulls this guy up onto the roof and gives him the old one-two.


Well look who decided to drop in! That...makes things a little complicated for us.


Our problem is, as they say in real estate, location location location. That group of Archons is across the street and very high up, meaning they've got a good bead on us, but it's a lot harder for us to hit them back. And crossing the gap is dangerous when one of them gets to respond to every move that we make. This is where I wish I had one of our experienced snipers on the squad, as Ferguson doesn't really have the aim needed to hit a flying target from that far away.


Lotta this happening right now. We've got good cover, but we'll need to move some people up if we want to deal any damage.


Inquisitor takes the lead, avoiding an overwatch shot that I didn't know was waiting for him using Lightning Reflexes that I didn't know he had. Seriously, what is going on here? Is he somehow benefitting from the Dark Event that ADVENT is supposed to have? Is he...planning on betraying us to rejoin ADVENT??


We start plinking away at the Archon King, who thankfully doesn't have a lot of health left. We really did a number on him last time he dropped in.


Don't forget to use those free actions when facing an Alien Ruler, kids! Inquisitor's whiplash lands for reasonable damage and then he follows that up with two shots, one of which connects. He isn't hitting very hard, though - I haven't upgraded his Bullpup to plasma status yet.


The Archon King's weapon has Shredder, which is annoying because he is shooting everybody. So long, armor.


Thankfully, he follows this up with a boneheaded move where he flies through some burning wreckage (setting himself on fire in the process) and down to street level. There, he makes easy pickings for Big Sexy, who notches our first Ruler kill!


Now you may have noticed that this mission is on a timer. One thing that I forgot about while playing is that the mission timer stops ticking down whenever you're dealing with an Alien Ruler. Not realizing this, I was starting to worry about running out of time at this point. But in fact, we still had a healthy number of turns left on the clock.

Anyway, with two regular Archons left to deal with I decide to put one of them on psionic ice for a bit.


Enter: The Andromedon. These guys are a little ways away yet and honestly I don't want to deal with them at all, given that we've got a time limit here.


Kurt takes a hit from the other archon but gets a helping hand from Inquisitor in dealing with it. Inquisitor then positions himself next to the VIP so we can grab him and run next turn.


JESUS CHRIST. What was I saying last time?

But for us to lose someone at this point will either require some serious bad luck or else a string of 2-3 consecutive bad decisions on my part.
So, uh, which combination of these just occurred? Well, honestly I did a bad job positioning Insquisitor, in that he had no cover from the side that the andromedon was approaching from. But also FIFTEEN FRICKIN' DAMAGE CRITICAL is not something I foresaw, tbh. I thought that pod was far enough away that they would be next turn's problem, but apparently I thought wrong!


I still don't want to deal with that andromedon but I also would prefer if he didn't liquify anybody else on the team, so let's freeze him for now. Big Daddy lookin' asshole grumble grumble.


Esha draws the short straw and goes to take care of the enemy VIP. Unless the game has any more surprises in store for us, she should at least live until next turn.


All of this is happening pretty darn close to our evac point, which is handy. I can get everyone out in about two turns once we have the target. Unfortunately, that's also exactly where ADVENT has decided to drop a pod of reinforcements. If we don't wrap things up really soon, we're going to be completely surrounded.


Flawgic clocks the VIP, then the team collectively books it for the exit.


Meanwhile, the andromedon thaws out and drops a HUGE ACID BOMB on everyone in the squad. God this guy sucks.


At this point, everyone is within range of the evac zone, but there's a group of ADVENT blocking the way. Almost everyone on the squad was hurt by that acid bomb, so I'm going to need a sacrificial lamb to trigger the overwatch fire before I can move the group to safety.


Ferguson takes one for the team, charging through a hail of gunfire. She gets hit once, but miraculously doesn't die!


With the trap defused, I run every last living soul back to the extraction point and get the hell out of dodge. Damn, that mission went downhill in a real hurry. The combination of Archon King, pincer attack and time limit turned up the heat in a big way. In retrospect, I should maybe have repositioned the team to properly deal with the andromedon's pod before grabbing the VIP. It didn't feel like we had time to do that, but it probably would have worked out better. Then again, we only lost one soldier as is, so it could have been worse.


Looking pretty battered, there. I was hoping to get the troops in shape for another run at a Chosen, but it looks like we'll have to wait a little longer - especially if we want a competent medic on the squad.


As for Inquisitor, he will be missed (exclusively) by me until such time as I can recruit another Skirmisher. I've never been the biggest fan of the class, but I feel like Drask here proved his worth over the course of the campaign. However, as one of the special faction classes, he's actually much easier to replace than a regular soldier - hopefully I'll get the chance before long.


We get a couple promotions for surviving the meat grinder: Kurt picks up Bladestorm and Big Sexy gets extra grenades.


For killing the Alien Ruler, we get...the body of the Alien Ruler! Which is more useful than it looks. We also get this enemy VIP in an extremely tight suit, who we will be converting into Intel using techniques that shouldn't be discussed in polite company.


Spook, who I didn't know was in the psi tank, picks up Inspire, which I didn't know he didn't have. Uh, great! We start him learning Insanity, since it'll be a few more days before Flawgic recovers and can resume her training.


We need one more radio tower in Asia to get our quick training bonus for MetMan and JP, so let's build it here! I honestly might not bother if this wasn't an LP, because these towers are getting expensive. But that's OK, I'm loaded now. Once it's done, we'll be able to instantly add South Asia to our network and then start training up our latest recruits.


Ted's back, and he brought Templar!


Our newer, more generic Templar comes with (enough points to buy) all that you see here! It doesn't look like Scorch will ever get to be a Blademaster, so she'll never have quite the potential that Kirin had in the role, but I've never managed to keep a Bladestorm Templar alive either for what that's worth. She's higher level than Kirin ever was, so we get to buy her some fun stuff like Exchange, which swaps her position for any enemy within sight. You can get up to some fun stuff with that, let me tell you. She also grabs Fortress and Sustain in order to not follow in her predecessor's footsteps. And hey, Lightning Hands!

Honestly, being able to run a single covert op and come away with a Major level character is pretty incredible. If we get the chance to earn another Skirmisher this way it'll really help bolster the (tired, injured) ranks.


Oh right, this guy. Ugh, we're still not quite ready for this mission. In particular, I really want Aquadeo back on his feet for healing duties, but it'll be another week or so before he has recovered. We can probably wait that long, but I'm not happy with how close we're cutting this.


Speaking of rest, the squad won't be getting any any time soon! But I will, since I'm going away for Canada Day weekend. See you on the other side, folks!
 
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