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Join the XCOM 2 character pool today!

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
MetManMas;2589370 said:
Looking forward to finally getting into action!
Mogri;2589372 said:
I'm pretty sure abandoning a council mission causes you to lose control of that region, just like losing a retaliation mission. (Also like a retaliation mission, that doesn't happen if it's your home region.)
jpfriction;2589373 said:
Heck yeah, starting to worry that I showed up briefly 20 updates ago and died immediately.

I’m gonna warm the crap out of that bench.
Olli T;2589447 said:
Niiice, Big Sexy with the Alien Ruler kill.
 

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!





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!





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!





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!





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!





Mission 28: Like a Bolt from the Blue

Got a short one for you guys today, and hopefully a longer mission later this week. Let's do it!


Ok, it's GO TIME (Guerrilla Op That I Must Execute). We'll be choosing this one because it'll slow down the doomsday meter a bit - the intel we'll get is also a welcome bonus. It's a Difficult mission, which at this point is actually on the easier end of the scale. That's good, because I'm trying to keep most of our A-listers in reserve for an upcoming mission, so today we'll be fielding some younguns.


They kids won't be totally unsupervised, though. Heading up the crew will be Joan in his shiny new WAR suit! The WAR suit effectively trades an accessory slot for a heavy weapon and one extra point of armor. Most of the time that's a worthwhile exchange, but not always, especially with the poor selection of powered weapons we currently possess. Today he will be equipped with a garden variety rocket.


Eric and Aquadeo are both recovering from physical and/or psychological trauma, so we're sending whoever this is out into the fray to act as our healer. And since none of you guys seemed to want the sweet plasma crossbow, I'm taking it for myself! Two things I didn't notice at the time: I seem to be wearing huge ADVENT style shoulder pads and also my character is but a lowly squaddie. He won't be nearly as useful for healing duties as the senior specialists are.


Also on deck is our new Templar, Catharine Butler (AKA Scorch). I made her red so no-one would confuse her for our dearly departed pirate. I'm also fielding Flawgic despite the fact that she's tired and (very slightly) injured. Kurt and Joe bring a little bit of experience to round out the squad.


The first part of this mission is extremely by-the-numbers (see, it can happen!), so I'll be summarizing the most interesting bits. Here's Sensenic firing a rocket into a restaurant - don't try this at home, kids! The rocket isn't the best heavy weapon - not by a country mile, in fact - but it does have a pleasingly long range.


And this is the plasma crossbow! We're using the fully upgraded version of the bow - it comes with an aim bonus, it hits like a truck and aliens can't dodge it, which is great when facing annoying foes like vipers and specters. It also apparently has a bonus chance to stun "psionically-enhanced enemies", which apparently means Alien Rulers, which doesn't seem clear at all to me. Anyway, it usually hits in the 10-12 damage range, which puts it a step above our plasma rifles. Of course, you only get one shot before you have to reload and you can't equip it with any modifications, so I expect we won't actually be using it very often.


Here's Kurt making use of the Ranger class bonus that we bought at the GTS - it gives extra damage when flanking enemies, plus a critical chance on sword attacks.


Speaking of swords, Catharine swords this specter so hard that it destroys the wall behind it! I think she'll be a good fit for the team.


Despite being our lowest-level specialist, Banjo manages to pull off one of our only hack successes so far in the campaign in the process of completing the mission objective. If barely.

We've checked off our main objective, but we can't go home until we clean up all these aliens. And who do we find waiting behind the restaurant?


Oh, that's not good. This spherical thingy is a Gatekeeper, and it is possibly the most dangerous non-unique enemy in the game. Aside from having an absurd amount of armor and health, it possesses an array of psionic attacks, some of which are extremely deadly. But you're not going to get to see any of them today, because we've got this shit on lock.


Esha opens up with a psionic rift. It doesn't do huge damage, but it's enough to kill the wounded priest and it bypasses the gatekeeper's very sturdy armor.


I forget what the ability that allows this is called, but Flawgic also gets to roll for a bonus attack on each of the enemies damaged by the rift. Most of them escape unscathed, but this viper takes some extra damage and is panicked after resisting a mind-control attempt.


The viper takes a shot at the giant evil golf ball and misses, because - as it turns out - giant evil golf balls are surprisingly hard to hit. I'm not sure why this is, but it's apparently worse on the higher difficulty settings like Commander, which is the one we're playing on.


Scorch has Lightning Hands!


And a very relevant nickname! Like most psionic attacks, Volt ignore armor.


Now that's what you like to see. I also froze the gatekeeper because holy crap these things are dangerous, especially when you're up close like we are now.


Boom, crossbow to the face!


Joe finishes it off with a bluescreen-enhanced pistol shot...


...causing it to explode and injure my character. Thanks, Joe. Scorch is unharmed because she has Fortress, which she inherited from the psi operative skillset.


Nicely done, team! The only party injured is me (thanks Joe), but I get a promotion in exchange and use it to learn how to heal people at a distance. At least if we ever need to field Banjo again he'll be marginally useful.


We finish researching the plasma lance, which sounds totally awesome, but it's very possible that we'll never actually build one. Why?


Because Hunter weapons is why. Only 6 days to go! It's like waiting for Christmas.


Let's have a look at the map. We've almost finished building our East Asian radio tower! Meanwhile, ADVENT is building more facilities - but at least we can undo the red blocks if we take them out.


Story objective complete! This is the Shadow Chamber, which we will eventually use to research important key items like the codex brain we picked up a few missions ago. Unfortunately, doing this suspends your active research projects. We've got some real bangers to research right now, so I think the story progress is going to have to wait. On the bright side, the shadow chamber is going to give us some very useful intel whenever we launch a mission, so it's definitely nice to have.


Dang it, this is not the powered weapon I was looking for. We'll have to take another pull on the slot machine.


The radio tower is complete, and with that we can make contact with New India, completing the continent bonus for Asia! We immediately stick MetMan into the GTS and start training him as a ranger.


Well folks, Aqua is still recovering but the rest of the team is ready to go. I think it's time to put together a squad to go take out the Warlock. Eric is a decent healer, but he doesn't have the ultimate recovery skill yet. Instead, we're going to spend a few points to buy him Combat Protocol so that he has a few extra tricks up his sleeve. Remember folks, it's the best defense!


Another point toward the Avatar project, but this one isn't tied to a specific alien facility that we can raid. Instead, we get a shot of this spot in the middle of the ocean - that's kinda weird, huh?


Oh hell yes. The Hunter's rifle is incredibly useful, probably the best single weapon in the game. His pistol is no slouch either, actually. These guys are going to do some serious damage from here to the end of the game.


All right, I think we're as ready as we're gonna be. Let's put an end to this guy once and for all! Next time, that is - see you soon!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2590935 said:
[Bluescreen vs Gatekeeper]
Despite appearances, Gatekeepers aren't robotic. The good news is that means you can dominate them (and fairly reliably, too).

Whether that's an acceptable trade for bluescreen vulnerability depends on your team composition.
MCBanjoMike;2590938 said:
Shh, you're spoiling the surprise! Also, according to the Fandom XCOM 2 Wiki, Gatekeepers take extra damage from Bluescreen rounds, presumably because of their robotic shells. Anyway, how else do you explain the 10 damage that Joe's pistol shot did to it?
Mogri;2590954 said:
I do not explain that because it wasn't actually in the screenshot!

Man, the game could really stand to be clearer on what is A) organic, B) bluescreen-vulnerable, and C) hackable. Like Codices, for example, are organic but IIRC still bluescreen-vulnerable, which doesn't make a lot of sense!
Violentvixen;2591048 said:
[Viper misses the Gatekeeper]
This is made even better by the fact that it's surface pattern is literally a targeting reticle in your screenshot.
Olli T;2591315 said:
It's almost like it's taunting the poor viper there.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 29: I Choo-Choo-Choose You!


Warlock time! I've already posted this screenshot, but I didn't talk about the hot new ability that we have thanks to the Shadow Chamber. Check it out - a list of all the enemies that will appear during the mission! That knowledge can really help when it's time to plan your loadout. Speaking of which:


BAM, get a load of this A team. All top-tier soldiers, with the exception of Eric, who is maybe B-tier at this point. So I guess this is more of an A- team, but that's still pretty good IMO.

Now, since we're dealing with the hated Warlock, you'll notice a preponderance of mindshields taking up all that valuable space in our inventory. I didn't give one to Nightwalker, because they're supposed to be invisible and the Warlock can't mind control that which he can't see. That said, I did forget one very important thing; I'll give 10 XCOM points to anyone who can spot the glaring omission in our equipment loadout...
[spoilerpop]I forgot to equip the dang Hunter's weapons on Gerad! He's still using a frickin' railgun! Man, this is embarrassing.[/spoilerpop]


With the exception of the Chosen who awaits us at the end, this mission is effectively identical to the one we did when we took care of the Hunter. First we have to scour this facility for the teleporter room that will take us to the Warlock's bedroom. And yeah, there are badguys waiting for us...


...but unlike last time, we keep things firmly under control. Figured it was time to show you guys that I can actually play this game without constantly ending up in dire situations!


Gerad actually has a fairly productive Kill Zone for once, getting in two solid hits (and missing one shot because specters have Lightning Reflexes).


We mop up the first crew and move forward until we come across a second. Only our Reaper is in stealth now, so we can't be quite as proactive with our ambushes. Instead, we get set up in the room they're approaching and wait.


Ooh, I forgot that Eric has shredder! Maybe he's A-team material after all.


The second pod of enemies is smart enough to spread out a bit, but that doesn't save them from the enormous explosion radius of our gas bomb/void rift combo!


ViolentVixen recently picked up Hail of Bullets, which is a wonderful ability that uses up three ammo in order to get a guaranteed hit on any enemy that you have line of sight on. It's great for dealing with enemies who have a little health and a lot of cover, like this guy right here.


Of course, good old Combat Protocol will also do the trick in a pinch. For some reason, the camera in my copy of XCOM 2 no longer follows the gremlin as it zips over to zap our foes. Thankfully, we don't need to worry about it, because The Protocol Never Misses™. It does't have the same damage potential and it's got a limited number of uses per mission, though, so it'll never surpass Hail of Bullets in my heart.


Now this room here looks like the kind of place where a fellow might find an Ascension Gate. I stack the team up by the door to get ready for whatever is inside. But nothing could have prepared me for...


THE BERSERKER BARRAGE!!


I have never seen this many berserkers in one place before, they just come pouring out of the door like it was some kind of clown car. Coincidentally, we parked our resident Blademaster right by the entrance, so she gets a free swing at each of them as they pass through. Two hits and two misses - VV is batting .500 today.


Now this is all very intimidating, because seriously that is A LOT of meat, but let's take a second to remember the XCOM rules of engagement before panicking. We activated this pod on our turn, so they do get a free move to reposition, but they can't attack us yet. And they won't get the chance. Every one of these ladies (berserkers are all female, doncha know) is standing in a tight little group, so we give them a bit of space and drop a frost bomb on 'em.


Say, have I ever told you folks about repeaters? I have? Even so, let's take a second to appreciate just how broken these things really are. A superior repeater normally has a 15% chance to instantly kill any enemy you manage to hit. Add in the resistance order we're using that boosts our weapon mod effectiveness and the success rate climbs to 20%, or one in five. I've been quietly amassing a supply of repeaters and something like 4 of our squad members have them equipped today.


As they are more than happy to demonstrate! Considering how incredibly long the HP bars on some enemies can be, the repeater increases your damage potential in a huge way. Add in a superior hair trigger and you have a 20% chance to take an extra shot in your turn, which also has a 20% chance of instantly killing your target. Repeaters are basically too good not to use.


Even without the repeaters, the frost bomb has turned this into a regular turkey shoot. We deal with the 'zerks before a single one of them gets to make a move. I'm almost starting to feel bad for ADVENT at this point.


Welcome to the Warlock's Lair! It is...exactly the same as the Hunter's lair was.


This is different, though. Man, if you thought one codex was a pain to deal with, two is pain squared.


Or it would be, if it wasn't for my good friend Mr. Repeater! We drop the first codex in a single shot and, miraculously, take out the second before it can start cloning itself. Everything is coming up Tyrant Squad today!


We move up a little farther and the Warlock makes his grand entrance. For those who have forgotten, our friend here is immune to melee attacks and has a (fairly high) chance to retaliate against any missed shots we make. On the bright side, he is Brittle, which means he takes extra damage any time we hit him 3 times or more in a single turn.


All right folks, time for a Big Play. Spoony is going to break out Chain Shot, which lets him shoot twice...assuming that the first shot connects. There's an aim penalty that comes along with that, too, but the damage potential here is too big to ignore. And since we're right up in the Warlock's grill, we still have a 75% chance to hit that first shot. A 75% chance for glory! A 75% change for triumph!


...a 25% chance to miss and get shot in the face by the Warlock for our hubris. :toastybert:


Spoony isn't the only one who gets hit after missing a shot. Looks like we'll have to keep the fighting close if we don't want to give the Warlock an all-you-can-eat buffet of reaction shots.


Our first turn ends and we've done a pretty dismal amount of damage to the Chosen, between our missed shots and his sturdy armor. Spoony is out in the open, so I throw an aid protocol down on him to keep him safe during the enemy turn.


I hope you aren't sick of berserkers, because the Warlock has the ability to summon beast-type allies!


Thankfully, Spoony gets an overwatch shot from the Aid Protocol and - you guessed it! - his repeater takes care of the rest.


Gerad and Nightwalker take out the other enemy, because it's generally a pretty bad idea to leave a chryssalid running around unchecked. I'm being careful to keep Nightwalker in stealth for now, but he can still take kill shots without any risk of being discovered.


Our next turn begins and things immediately start to turn around for us. Spoony lands a nice shot, removing that pesky armor...


...and gets a bonus move, which he uses to freeze the Warlock. Frost bombs don't completely immobilize a Chosen, but it will reduce the number of things he can do on his turn.


Because of his Brittle nature, it's worth using low-damage attacks that I might otherwise skip. Psionic attacks typically can't miss and have a nice, long range, so we might as well take the hit and use it to give the rest of the squad that sweet damage bonus.


Now we're talking!


We've got the Warlock on the ropes, but he's got one last trick to play on us before he goes under. You might remember Spectral Army from a mission we did a while back, but if not: the Warlock summons 3 psionic clones of our troops and then puts himself into stasis. You can't harm him until you deal with the clones, at which point the stasis drops and he'll be vulnerable again.


Thankfully, the clones don't have all that much health. We mop them up in short order...


...and Nightwalker immediately dispatches the Warlock. That's technically a kill shot, so he's still invisible!


With the Warlock out of commission, the team starts laying into the sarcophagus. Some enemy reinforcements show up, but for now I'm ignoring them in favor of piling on the damage.


Spoony finally makes good on his Chain Shot gambit, doing a respectable 17 damage in one turn. It's really a shame that you can't use Banish on the sarc', but this is the next best thing.


I don't want to deal with another berserker right now, so into the bubble you go!


VV puts the final nail in the Warlock's coffin, so now we just have to take him out again and we'll be done here.


Gerad doesn't have a good shot on the Warlock, so he decides to take a swing at the archon and...well, you know.


There's my boy Eric, taking care of that armor for us!


And with that, Nightwalker is finally free to break cover and give the crowd what they've been waiting to see. Consider yourself *sunglasses* Banished.


The Warlock gives us a farewell speech, which I will post here in its entirety.


Little known fact: before getting the role of a Chosen, the Warlock first auditioned to play Hamlet.






And with that, the Warlock turns to stone because mind powers.


Two down, one to go! Things went extremely well this time around, only two of our people are wounded and they'll be ready to go again in just 3 short days. Considering how long this mission is, that's pretty good!


Not only that, but Nightwalker just made colonel! The choice between colonel-level Reaper skills is a pretty easy one. On one hand, there's an ability that lets you switch targets mid-Banish if you kill the first one. That's...fine, but you can only use Banish once per mission, so it's of pretty limited use. On the other, better, hand, we can opt to turn one of our claymores into a sticky mine that latches onto an enemy and explodes the next time they take damage. That's waaaaaaay better, if you ask me. I grab that and also pick up a Lt level skill that increases Nightwalker's crit chance during the mission for every kill he gets. Considering how often I use him to finish off weak enemies, that should add up pretty quickly.

Don't forget, folks: Reapers are good.


Seems like Eric is a bit distraught after all that killing and maiming. We're going to need to start training up some more specialists, because he'll be out of the action for a while with this. Thankfully, I already have someone in mind.


Spoony has developed some kind of weird aversion to being lit on fire. Come on, man, it's been like two weeks since the last time that happened! I do love the quote that comes along with this diagnosis, though.


Well would you look at that, another successful sabotage! This one would be a real pain if we had more people in the infirmary, but right now the squad is generally in pretty good shape.


The Warlock's disruptor rifle isn't quite god-tier the way the Hunter's weapons are, but it's still a really great gun. It replaces a standard plasma rifle, so it can be wielded by a pretty large number of our troops.


I was going to take Spook out of the psi chamber, but you know I just can't say no to Null Lance! We'll give Flawgic another turn after this.


Say hello to our newest recruit! MetMan is a spunky red robot with a love of sharp objects.


We immediately get the chance to upgrade him, so I send him down the Blademaster route. It wouldn't seem right to do otherwise. Shadowstep also feels like a good fit, since MetMan's namesake is pretty light on his feet.


Another month is over and we are just rolling in dough. But you gotta remember who your real friends are - the ones who would spot you 10 alien alloys when you needed to build a magnetic rifle, or lend you their dropship while yours was being repaired.


Hell yes, defeated! The Assassin isn't close to posing a threat to us at this point, but we'll probably deal with her soon just to be done with these missions. Well, and to get her custom weapons, of course.


Nothing too bad coming up in the next wave of Dark Events. That one on the left is worth a chuckle, at the very least.


It looks like we might be back in business when it comes to Covert Ops. Let's use this opportunity to bring the Avatar meter down a few notches. We're pretty safe at this point, but you can never be too careful - just ask Sensenic!


Another powered weapon, another disappointment. We still don't have the one that I really want. We'll keep trying, but Elerium cores don't grow on trees, you know?


Ooh, new toy! I wanted to move on to researching the alien ruler that we killed after this, but we got a breakthrough to increase the number of weapon mod slots on our Reaper rifles. Nightwalker is going to be a major player from here to the end of the game, so that's an avenue worth pursuing.


Speaking of weapon mods, we're somewhat flush with intel, so I decide to spend a little to pick up another top-tier repeater. At some point soon I'm going to have to start weighing the pros and cons of using the unique weapons versus having access to these things, but for now I'm gonna stock up.


Just because I have a lot of supplies, that doesn't mean I can buy whatever I want. Case in point, our psi operatives are still stuck using the default psi amplifiers, and we can't upgrade them to level two because we don't have any sectoid corpses. That sucks! Sectoids are a pretty rare sight these days, so we may have to leapfrog our way up to the top level psi amps, which require some more prestigious corpses to build.


I promised MetMan a custom weapon, so we get to work on that. It'll have to be upgraded, but hopefully we'll be able to swing that before long.

OK, we're just about finished for today, but before I go let's have a look at those Chosen weapons we've been collecting:


Chosen weapons all come with four top-level modifications equipped that can't be changed. That's one more than you can generally equip on a weapon, but the tradeoff is that you don't get to choose them (ie, no repeaters). The Darklance has a 20% aim bonus (very nice), a 20% chance to grant a free action (also very nice), it comes with four free reloads (decent) and it does 4 damage even on a miss (why not). It's also a bit more powerful than our magnetic rifles are, but the plasma lance matches it on that front. So on paper, that's a pretty good gun, but maybe not an exceptional one. The big thing that elevates the Darklance is that it only requires a single action to fire, which means you can move and shoot (or move and go into overwatch) on the same turn. That's huge! Stationary snipers are already great, but one who can reposition every turn is absolutely deadly. The only real downside is that we can't equip a repeater on it, but I'd say the pros outweigh the cons.

The Darkclaw is more powerful than the plasma pistol and pierces armor. The only tradeoff is that it doesn't use any custom ammunition that your sharpshooter has equipped, which means it won't be as effective against robots if you have Bluescreen rounds. Still, ignoring 5 points of armor is pretty darn good.


The Disruptor Rifle is no slouch either. Better damage than a stock plasma rifle, four superior weapon upgrades and it supposedly always crits against psionic enemies. The guaranteed 4 damage is nice, and I like giving this gun to a specialist because I typically leave their actions for the end of the turn. That way, if the rest of the squad manages to wound an alien, we can get the guaranteed kill with this gun. It also has ammo for days, which pairs well with the specialist ability that gives them a chance to take multiple overwatch shots in a single turn. I'll spend a few AP getting Aquadeo ready to really take advantage of the Disruptor Rifle, at which point he'll be pretty fearsome in his own right.

Well kids, that's all the time we have for today. I'm about to leave for 3 weeks of work travel and vacation time, so there probably won't be another upgrade until August. Enjoy the summer, everyone!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2591412 said:
After all those repeater procs, I was really hoping you'd get one on the Warlock!
MetManMas;2591422 said:
Looking forward to Met's first mission when you get back! Really hope I don't get Octo'd.
Sensenic;2591438 said:
For some reason I found the combination of the Berserker barrage and the clown car comment hilarious. XD

That dead archon reminded me: you haven't shown what happens to dead Alien rulers in the trophy room, yet.

And look at that Warlock, letting his otaku loose at death's door and anime-ing it up, "turn-to-stone death" included. Good for him to finally get some release, even if it was at the very end.

[Dodge +9]
Aw yiss, I'm gonna be motherfuckin' Neo.
Torzelbaum;2591466 said:
[MCBanjoMike gets exploded]
Irony or poetic justice?

[Psi-zapping the Warlock]
I'm helping! (also, ow.)

[The berserker in the bubble]
Off to the penalty [STRIKE]box[/STRIKE] bubble you go!

[Spoony has being-on-fire-phobia]
Why are you afraid of fire? It doesn't do anything (to me).

[Sensenic is going to be Neo]
Or MC Hammer.
MCBanjoMike;2591532 said:
[Hoping to proc on the Warlock]
You and me both, buddy!

[What happens to dead alien rulers in the trophy room?]
Oh, it doesn't happen in the trophy room...

[Or MC Hammer]
*frantically googles 'xcom 2 hammer pants mod'*

Dammit. :toastybert:
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
MCBanjoMike;2600596 said:
Well folks, the summer is over, but I'm afraid we still have fascists to punch. And to get back into the swing of things, why not change it up a little? It's time for some video! I have the day off, so today at 10 AM Eastern I'm going to stream Tyrant Squad vs The Chosen Assassin over at my YouTube channel. If you've ever wanted to see your characters in action, this is your chance*! Of course, I will be writing the mission up here later on, but if you just can't wait to find out what happens, click that link in about an hour. See you then!

*Assuming I put them on the squad for this mission.
MCBanjoMike;2600606 said:
Oops wrong link, it's actually youtube.com/onthesticktv

EDIT: Finished! And, uh, I forgot to take screenshots, so it's gonna be video or nothin' for that mission. I actually have another mission to write up from a week or two ago that's chronologically set before the Assassin mission, that'll probably get written in the next few days or so. Please look forward to it.
Sensenic;2600732 said:
Neat, I wasn't able to watch the stream live, but I'll get around to it probably on Friday.

Watched the first minutes, out of curiosity... I didn't have a pronounciation in mind when I came up with "Sensenic", and people've read it differently, so I say however you read it is correct. That's canon. XD
Violentvixen;2600795 said:
I had not appreciated just how ridiculous the glowy axes I have are until now. I love them.
Olli T;2600808 said:
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Well Olli? How about one?

Violentvixen;2600795 said:
I had not appreciated just how ridiculous the glowy axes I have are until now. I love them.
Don't get too attached, those don't belong to you! But we'll get you fixed up with something nice in short order.

Now let's take a step backwards in time to when the Chosen Assassin was a terrible threat looming over our every action. Before the mission to neutralize her, there was one other operation that has yet to be documented:

Mission 30: Sun's Out, Guns Out

Today we have a very special goal: show off some of Tyrant Squad's cool new toys! Let's get right to it.


Here we see Gerad (finally) rocking the Darklance, which is absolutely the gaming PC case of sniper rifles. Don't be fooled by that huge damage, he was shooting a robot with bluescreen rounds so it hit extra hard. The real draw of this gun, like I mentioned last time, is that it allows you to move and shoot on the same turn, which no other sniper rifle does. Gerad over here actually gets a bonus for not moving between turns, but it's pretty rare that +10 aim outweighs the usefulness of being able to reposition every turn.


Not to be outdone, Flawgic picks up the plasma crossbow and finishes off the unsuspecting spectre. No damage bonuses here, that's just the natural stopping power of the 'bow.


Perhaps a little less impressive is Aqua's showing with the Disruptor Rifle, but he's shooting at an archon and they're pretty squirrely. I don't have any other shots that show off the weapon itself, so just imagine that the damage number is higher and we'll all agree that it's a pretty nice gun.


Here's the Darkclaw, which ignores armor but doesn't benefit from the Bluescreen rounds we have equipped. Another miss, huh?


That's better.


Our new(ish) templar Scorch doesn't get to equip cool weapons, but she can shoot force lightning from her hands!


And speaking of neat tricks, Kurt knows Bladestorm now! He, uh, isn't quite as adept with it as VV is, though. He's using a sword that you unlock by playing the Tactical Legacy pack, I believe it's supposed to be inspired by the laser weapons of XCOM: Enemy Unknown (which didn't have swords, but whatever).


The penalty for missing turns out to be steep! Don't worry, though, I have Aqua heal him up and he's good to go again.


Just so he doesn't feel left out, here's Spoony exploding a turret with his regular old plasma cannon.


Well hello, sailor! This here is our first Sectopod, the last regular enemy type that we'll be seeing in this campaign. As you can tell by its large size and intimidating nature, the Sectopod means business. For example, where most enemies would go around that building to get a shot at us...


...the Sectopod is happy to just plow straight through it. Here's Johnny!


If the giant robot and his friends weren't bad enough, we also stumble onto this group of ADVENT at the same time. It's 6-on-6, time for a slugfest!


First things first, we can't leave that giant robot unchecked. Sectopods do big damage and have very little respect for cover, so we're either going to take this thing out of stick it in a stasis bubble - preferably the former. Spoony starts by hitting it with an EMP bomb, which does solid damage and (I think) shorts it out for a turn, buying us some time.


Since we have a bit of a breather from ED-209 over there, Esha uses stasis on this shieldbearer instead. The only thing worse than fighting six enemies at once is fighting six enemies with shields.


The beautiful thing about stasis is that not only is it extremely useful, but it doesn't even end your turn! Flawgic drops a void rift on these two...


...which has the knock-on effect of mind-controlling the purifier! Pretty sweet, she took two threats off the board in a single turn and gave us control over one of them.


Turns out we had two characters packing EMP bombs on this mission, probably because the Shadow Chamber alerted me to the possibility of Sectopods before the mission began. Or rather, it forecasted an ENEMY UNKNOWN, which at this point could only be one of these big fellas. Either way, we were ready for it.


With the robot on the ropes, Kurt takes the final shot...


...causing it to go up in flames. Remember, kids: never stand next to a Sectopod!


By my count, there are still three enemies who will get the chance to act this turn. Thankfully, we deployed the Virtual Tyrant, who graciously soaks up all the hits, leaving the squad unscathed.


Scorch cuts down one of the MECs for us.


And now it's time to try out our purifier! Purifiers have notoriously bad aim, but they also come equipped with 1 (ONE) incendiary grenade. I love using up enemy ordnance when I have control over them, since it removes the danger of them ever using it on me.


Situations like this are what Combat Protocol was made for! Of course, with the Disruptor Rifle, Aqua would be guaranteed to do enough damage to kill this guy even on a miss, but I must have forgotten about that at the time.


Kurt finishes off the last of them, demonstrating an alarming level of pelvic flexibility in the process.


We move the squad up toward the extraction zone (I think we're rescuing a VIP or something?) but run into another enemy patrol on the roof of this building. Kurt quickly dispatches an ADVENT soldier, but we still have this advanced MEC to deal with and half our squad is down on the ground, where they don't have line of sight. So what's a squad to do?

ACTIVATE QILLER QUAD QOMBO!!


First, Scorch uses Invert to swap places with the MEC, putting it closer to the edge of the rooftop.


This puts it within range of Spoony, who fires up the Shredstorm cannon and peels its armor away...


...like so. NEXT, Flawgic uses Inspire to grant an extra turn to Kurt, who is up on the roof.


Finally, Kurt brings the heat, melting our adversary down to slag before it can raise a metal finger against us. I love it when a plan comes together.


With that, we skedaddle on out and take the VIP with us. Success!


Back on the 'venger, it's time for another comms room. We still have four regions left to add, but the phone lines are all occupied!


We finish a Covert Op, bringing the Avatar project meter down to a comfortable 7 blocks. We should be fine on that front until the end of the game, but it never hurts to buy yourself some breathing room.


In other happy news, JPFriction has completed his training! With that, our entire roster of custom characters has been assembled. There's only one problem:


JP here trained so hard that his pelvis turned invisible! What exactly does specialist training involve, anyway?


We get his nethers patched up and ready for combat duty. Welcome aboard! We can always use another healer.


Gerad and Spoony head off for another round in the Friendship Chamber.


Esha picks up Domination and then starts learning Sustain. She's getting to be pretty useful! Wouldn't want anything bad to happen to her...


In sadder news, we have once again failed to develop my most highly-coveted powered weapon. Gotta keep trying, this streak of bad luck can't last forever.


We finish researching modular Vektor rifles (ie extra weapon mods for Nightwalker) and I decide to take a crack at this huge list of autopsies. I start with the Gatekeeper because that will finally allow us to upgrade our psi amplifiers. I want to start controlling some minds, you know?


We also drop some bucks to upgrade our Resistance Ring. This will let us assign one more wild-card faction bonus per month, which is pretty nice.


The Hunter's Axe is complete, and I immediately upgrade it to plasma level. I lend it to ViolentVixen for a field test, but its true owner will be MetMan, who will take it up when I send him on his first mission.


Hey, that's a pretty good looking squad! We only have two colonels, but there are plenty of majors, captains and lieutenants; it's a pretty deep bench at this point. Also, people are in generally good shape right now, which means it's time for us to take on...


The Chosen Assassin! Which I already did yesterday! So let's roll right into that one.

Mission 31: More Asses Than an Ubisoft Annual Report


Here's our team! As usual, I spare no expenses when setting out on one of these missions. Although honestly, at this point it should be a piece of cake. Even the game isn't willing to assign this one a rating of Very Difficult.


We drop into the Chosen's base and quickly run afoul of this squad of ADVENT.


Joe is packing the Darklance and he starts us off with a very satisfying hit, causing the rest of the baddies to scatter.


But not to scatter very effectively. Sensenic manages to get all four of them in this gas grenade blast, killing the wounded MEC in the process. And that takes us to the start of our video!


Well now, that was exciting. Now you're all caught up on the happenings of Tyrant Squad. See you next time, when we start checking off the remaining story missions. The end is within sight!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Torzelbaum;2601161 said:
Hey Mike, do you mind if I post a partial transcript / mission report on what happened in the video?
jpfriction;2601172 said:
When I told you I’d train my ass off, I didn’t mean it literally.
MCBanjoMike;2601548 said:
[To Torzelbaum]Hey, knock yourself out! I was away for the weekend and haven't played any more, so it'll be a bit before my next update. Might as well fill up that dead air!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Torlezbaum's After-Action Report (by T. Baum)



(I put this behind a spoiler in case you want to be surprised while watching the video.)
[SPOILERPOP]We start in media res with a dead shieldbearer and MEC but an elite Lancer and purifier remain standing.

VV uses Hail of Bullets on Elite Lancer. It's super-effective!

Aquadeo wounds the purifier and then Spook uses souLfire to kill the purifier. The purifier explodes.

Mike ends the turn.

Enemy activity : a forklift blows up.

Mike moves Nightwalker up to check out the next room. He sees some bad guys and decides to move the squad into position to get overwatch shots but
Mike: "I did make a bit of an issue by filling this room up with poison smoke"

The enemies are another purifier and two basic Advent soldiers.
Mike: "This is really not a big deal so we're probably going to save our fun tricks for a little later."

While moving around Joe runs through the poison gas.
Mike: "He must have the vest that makes him immune to poison."

On the enemy turn the Advent troops don't move from their room so Mike decides to "poke the hornet's nest a bit". Mike moves VV into their view and they activate and Mike sees that there is a also a specter in the room.

Joe shoots the purifier and then NightwaLker explodes it.

Mike moves Spook up to be in a better position for a nice [STRIKE]boy drift[/STRIKE] void rift on 2 of the remaining 3 enemies.
Spook: "I guess I'll be OK..."
The drift manages to disorient the specter.
Mike: "that's slightly helpful"

Mike moves [STRIKE]Lockwood Dave[/STRIKE] Aquadeo up to be able to target any enemy. Aquadeo shoots the specter for 9 damage then gets a free action and shoots at it again but only grazes it.
VV takes a shot and does 13 damage and then moves back. Sensenic moves up and does a "very palpable hit" worth of damage.

(Enemies shoot at Sensenic and destroy his cover but he only takes 1 damage.)


VV runs up and swords a fool (well, technically she axes him with the plasma axes "which are supposed to eventually go to [STRIKE]madmen mass[/STRIKE] MetManMas") to death.

And Aqua flanks the remaining guy and takes him out.

Mike moves the squad around an unpatrolled hangar for a bit before deducing where the ascension gate is. He moves towards it and spots some enemies.
Mike: "Oh, that's the good stuff"

Mike can't move the squad too close so he moves everyone to where they can get overwatch shots.

The enemies start moving and apparently Mike considers an andromedon and 3 mutons to be "the good stuff" but he thinks the amount of armor they have is gross.

Joey, VV and Spook take their overwatch shots. (Spook does 8 damage and poisons an enemy with the plasma rifle + venom rounds combo.)

Mike uses one of his favorite combos : Nightwalker tosses and then explodes a claymore mine to hit all of the enemies and puts the poisoned muton out of its misery. Joe takes out another muton.

(I think VVs takes out one of the weakened Mutons at some point.)


Mike has someone soften up the andromedon twice and then has VV run up to slash and kill the guy in the robot suit and then "woop woop woops" her back to cover.

The robot suit disappears from the squad's view so Spook can't put it into stasis.
Mike: "That's not great. Oops. Well you know [if] someone's got to get punched by a robot [STRIKE]soup[/STRIKE] suit you have some good healing on staff."

Robot suit walks back and forth in a confused manner accomplishing absolutely nothing.

VV shoots the shell and then Joe finished it off by doing 15 damage to it with his blue screen rounds.

Mike moves Nightwalker forward and spots the transport portal but doesn't rush the squard forward.
Mike: "Last time I walked right up to the corner because it seemed safe and I got ambushed by 4 berserkers so I'm not making that mistake again."

...

There's no ambush this time.

The squad goes into the ascension chamber and comes out with Spook on point. They move forward a little bit and he gives the freeze hand signal and then the in-engine cutscene ends.

Two basic advent soldiers are in the chamber. Joey lights them up to draw their attention and then they get brutalized by overwatch shots. VV has a really nice shot that drops one of the soldiers while he is running to a new position. Mike then moves her to flank the remaining one and take him out. (I'm glad she's on our side.)

Mike keeps the squad back because he doesn't want to trigger the assassin but he has VV move forward a little and grab some loot.

Spook gets a little freaked out and thinks about calling the Sky Ranger but Mike stops him and just has him reload his plasma rifle instead.


Mike activates the Assassin. Mike moves Sensenic right next to the assassin (since he has shredder) and unloads on her point blank which one-shots her.

Mike: *laughs* "Alright then. This one might be a little bit on the easy side."

The squad starts unloading on the sarcophagus and then two "nasty MECs" teleport in.
Joey uses Lightning Hands to do 11 damage to one of them.

*The MECs don't get a turn for some reason so Mike goes into his next turn.*

Joe uses his rifle to take out the MEC that he had just Lightning Handed.

The other MEC is softened up by the Shredstorm Cannon and then VV takes it out with a free thrown plasma axe.

The squad takes some more shots at the sarcophagus and then Nightwalker uses Teamwork to give another character a 2nd turn to finish off the sarcophagus.

The Assassin re-appears on the far side of the map. Mike moves Nightwalker up and then has Spook use Inspire on Nightwalker.


Mike: "Now it is time for the super art finish."

Nightwalker uses Banish on the Assassin. The first shot hits for 8 damage. The Assassin starts trying to run her mouth off but Nightwalker tells her to shut up by taking her out with his 2nd shot.

And then there's a really bad soliloquy. And at the end of that the Assassin commits seppuku.

Results for the squad: Sensenic was the only one wounded and he was so lightly wounded that it will only take him one day to recover. And Joey got a promotion to Captain!


Mike "You know what - Kill Zone has disappointed me many, many times. I think it's time to give someone Faceoff." (Especially since we have the hunter's pistol.)

VV will get the Assassin's weapons (shotgun and sword) - once they have been researched.

This guy congratulates X-Com on a well-executed mission.

Mike: "Thanks Riker"
[/SPOILERPOP]

Oh no! Why did I choose to train with jpfriction?!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission what are we up to now 32: The Kids Are TBD

Well folks, the Chosen are all gone and honestly it feels a little quiet out there in the world. All sense of urgency has dissipiated, as we now have the means to keep the Avatar meter from rising too quickly and ADVENT has thrown every trick they have at us. We've got pretty much all of the best equipment and a whole heap of soldiers who are Colonels or at least pretty dang close.

We have entered the XCOM Doldrums.

This is not a new problem; it's been happening at least as far back as XCOM: Enemy Within. Once you get to the end of the game, your nigh-unstoppable army of super agents can fend off the aliens at will and you're stuck running pointless missions until you clear a path to the final confrontation. War of the Chosen does a great job of stringing out the interesting part of the campaign for a longer period of time, but once our three talkative friends are out of the picture, we're left without a clear and present threat. Which means it must be time to finish this.


The first thing we have to do is start researching our collection of plot-critical items in the Shadow Chamber. Unfortunately, this suspends our active research, which means we aren't going to be using those shiny Assassin weapons for a little while yet. It will only take us 5 days to finish researching the vial of goop from the ADVENT blacksite (in case you forgot: it's people), but in that short span we're going to have to take care of two (TWO!) filler missions.


Before we get to that, though, a little housekeeping. We have a ton of alien cadavers left to autopsy and not enough people to hold the forceps. Let's rustle us up another scientist!


Ok, guerilla ops. Looks like we'll be facing a gatekeeper on this mission. I'm expecting that or a sectopod on every outing from here 'til the end of the game, but it's nice to know which one it'll be ahead of time. Note that we have a special Sitrep for this mission, which I'll get to shortly.


Lookin' pretty colorful there, squad! This mission shouldn't be too hard, so it's time to push a few of the young folks out of the nest. Our featured rookies today are DWN009 and JPFriction - let's hope their first mission isn't also their last! I send along Sensenic to keep an eye on the kids.


So here's a Sitrep I've never seen before: it shows us where every enemy in the level is and we can see their positions at all times. Man, I could get used to that! It's also the reason why I didn't bring Nightwalker or Matchstick on this mission - they're both tired and I won't be needing their help for scouting today.


Knowing where everyone is, I can safely stack the team up by the doorway nearest to the pod of enemies guarding our mission objective. Closest to us right now are a couple of specters and an archon.


Ted opens things up by one-shotting one of the specters. And then...


...all hell breaks loose! Don't worry, the hell is entirely directed toward the badguys.


MetMan climbs up to the overlook and gets his first kill, executing the weakened archon.


Not to be outdone by the whippersnappers, Sensenic clears out the last of the group of enemies.


That leaves Flawgic free to crossbow the enemy transmitter, which she does with enthusiasm. Dang, we've already cleared our main mission objective, nice work kids! But we can't go home until all the baddies are dead, so it's time to poke that hornet's nest.


Poke poke!


Uh, poke? Looks like we got two groups for the price of one, which isn't what I was hoping for, but that's life.


The gatekeeper and its muton guards line up perfectly for Sensenic to catch them all with the shredstorm cannon. One of the mutons manages to evade, but the other is immediately dismantled and the orb o' death loses most of its shields.


Ted has a thing about robots - he don't like 'em.


Big Sexy softens up the orb and the muton...


...and MetMan shows us all his special power: AXE THROW. That muton is toast!


We don't have enough actions left to kill the gatekeeper, though, so we stick it in stasis for now. I also toss out our hologram decoy to buy a little time, because there's still a full trio of healthy enemies approaching from the other side that we haven't dealt with.


One of the ADVENT soldiers hits us with a grenade, but that's small beer in the grand scheme of things.


Flawgic finishes off a wounded soldier using her Boy Drift...


...and MetMan axes the other a very difficult question. That leaves him a little too close to the gatekeeper for my liking, however.


I knew that gatekeepers were both robots and also not robots, but I didn't think you could poison them when they were inside their shells! Somebody needs to hit that thing with some caulking, make it nice and airtight.


Olli takes care of our big, spherical problem for us.


There are two enemies left, a soldier and a specter. But why settle for 6-on-2 when we can make it 7-on-1? Flawgic busts out Domination and permanently mind controls the soldier. Welcome to Tyrant Squad!


The specter doesn't take this betrayal very well, immediately blasting its erstwhile compatriot. Better him than us!


Enjoy this very nice screenshot of an EMP bomb.


JPFriction tries to finish off the specter, but they're slipperly little devils. He actually gets to take two shots, thanks to a weapon mod proc, but the specter dodges both of them and takes reduced damage.


Unfortunately for it, Ted really doesn't like robots.


Mission accomplished! Sensenic gets promoted, so of course I grab Hail of Bullets for him. I also spend a few AP to buy him Run and Gun, which is a bargain at only 12 points.


Back on the Avenger, we finish building our second comms station. Then we immediately use it to make contact with...


Indonesia!


The USA!


And Australia! At this point we have every region on the globe except for one, but to add the last one we'll need...


...to upgrade our comm station. Which we do! Oh, and we'll also need some intel, because I just spent everything we had, oops. So for the time being, our map is still only 15/16 complete.


Spook is still fogging up the psi chamber, but it looks like he's almost finished paying his dues. Instead of choosing from three abilities, he only has two to choose from - which is because there are only two left! Soon he'll be a psionic master and Flawgic will have the tube to herself (hopefully they disinfect it between users).


We've completed researching our vial of Blacksite goo! This unlocks our next mission: a trip to the ADVENT Forge. Uh oh, sounds like ADVENT is about to start building some photon cannons! We'd better build a few firebats and go deal with this forge.


But as much as I'd like to do that, we immediately get interrupted by a Council Mission. This sort of thing is mostly an annoyance at this point in the game, but at least it'll pay off with some intel. You can never have too much intel.


Uh, except for when the Black Market is closed and you have nowhere to spend it. :derp:

Mission 33: Keep Moving or Get Out of the Way


Our team from last mission did some great work, so let's field them again! This time, though, I'm swapping out Sensenic for Matchstick because I need someone on scouting duty. No free radar sweeps for us this time, sadly.


Things start out according to protocol: we sneak up on a group of ADVENT and explode them. Pretty by the book stuff.


Here's JPFriction getting his first kill! Nice shot with the Disruptor Rifle, ace.


The first group drops like a sack of potatoes, so I start scouting ahead with Matchstick. A little farther up he spies a heavy turret on the roof. Ted is coincidentally also on a roof, so he lights it up for us. Because a turret is just a shitty robot, after all.


Unfortunately, this is a particularly generous roof, and it also has a gatekeeper and two specters to share with us. Gatekeepers are, pound for pound, the scariest enemies in the game, but they have to get close before they can really do much damage. Instead, we first turn our attention to the specters, since their shadowbinding can swing the balance of the fight against our favor and that's not something we need right now.


Ted wings the first specter and MetMan hits it with his free action axe-throw (free axeion? I'll workshop that a bit), but it still has a handful of HP to its name.


The injured specter hops down and shadowbinds JP...


...but the effects are short-lived.


Despite the awful 50% chance to hit, I let myself be swayed by the huge damage potential and tried to pull off this Chain Shot with Olli. As you can see, it went about as well as expected.


The gatekeeper is only half-robot, but that won't save it from Ted's wrath.


Kurt is packing an EMP bomb, which he puts to good use here. The gatekeeper is stunned for two turns, which means it can still act but it probably can't pull out its nastiest tricks.


Not that it even gets the chance to try! Flawgic inspires Ted, who takes a second shot and seals the deal. Beep boop, motherfucker.


Of course, that still leaves this second specter, who once again opts to shadowbind one of our team members.


I employ a proven remedy that solves the problem in short order.


Right, time is ticking and we've got a VIP to kill/abduct. Of course, you don't get the intel if you kill him, so we're going to bring him home. Olli here sends the poor sod to dreamtown.


Bad news, though - we've got an Andromedon and some ADVENT waiting for us at the extraction point. There's also a group of reinforcements about to drop in to the side, and the squad isn't positioned very well to deal with any of this.


When you've got a problem you don't want to deal with, try putting it on ice for a while.


And then, uh, shooting it through a window. That's...that's what my grandma always used to tell me? She was a little on the ornery side, though. Anyway, a bunch of folks take crappy shots through the window, wounding the Andromedon and one of the soldiers...


...which Flawgic manages to kill with a righteous drift. As a bonus, she mind-controls the other ADVENT soldier! This isn't a permanent effect, but it alleviates the pressure for a turn or two.


Kurt kills the Andromedon's pilot and then someone (probably Ted?) takes out the robot suit.


JP grabs our enemy VIP and come on dude, he can't be that heavy. Unless he's wearing some kind of prototype lead suit? Maybe that's why XCOM wants him?


I don't remember what was happening here, but look at this pair of badasses! Just look at them!


The ADVENT reinforcements are creeping up on our flank and we're starting to be really short on time to finish this mission. Very bad things happen if we don't evac the squad in time, so it's time once again to chill these guys out while we hoof it.


Unfortunately, we only freeze 2/3 of the reinforcements and the remaining soldier gets a solid hit on Big Sexy. Nobody hits on Big Sexy on my watch!


Note to self: when you're running out of time to evac, DON'T BLOCK THE ONLY DOOR TO EXIT THE BUILDING THAT EVERYONE IS IN. With Flawgic clogging up the way out, I was legitimately worried at this point that some squad members wouldn't be able to clear the distance to the extraction zone with only one turn left.


It's a dramatic escape as ADVENT fires on the squad...


...but in the end, everyone makes it to safety! Except for the enemy VIP, who makes it to what is surely a very dangerous situation for him.


Lookin' pretty cool there, team. Even Olli is limping in a cool fashion.


Kurt makes major and becomes Untouchable, which is just as good as it sounds. Sadly, his list of bonus XCOM skills isn't very interesting to me, so he might not make it on to the A-team for the final mission. Serial is definitely a good one, but at 25 AP it's a really spendy skill to pick up.


Look at all these possible friendships! Who do you think we should hook up, dear readers? Let me know in the comments, and don't forget to like and subscribe!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2603269 said:
Olli x JPFriction, Ted x MetManMas
MetManMas;2603325 said:
So happy to see XCOM Met finally in action chucking axes at aliens. I am also happy that I didn't die on my first two missions.

Ted and Met are gonna make a kickass duo.
Torzelbaum;2603432 said:
Man, everybody wants to be pals with Olli.
jpfriction;2603509 said:
I need to hook up with some physical therapy, apparently. Looks like I threw my back out lifting that dude.
Olli T;2603602 said:
[Everybody loves Olli]
J-just like in real life?
Torzelbaum;2603655 said:
Sure.

...

Uh, do you need pals to fight aliens with you?
Olli T;2604368 said:
I mean, who doesn't?
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 34: Tyrant Squad Rides Again


Welcome back, everybody! We may be finished with the, uh, good part of the game, but that doesn't mean I'm going to leave you hanging. It's time to get back to work, which means we're going to be taking on a STORY MISSION! The Advent Forge, you may recall, is a site that we found by researching the vial of mystery goo from the Blacksite. What mysteries could await us there?


Today we'll be sending in a mix of our best and our pretty dang good. This isn't what I consider a very hard mission, but I don't want the kids running around completely unsupervised.


We pull up outside the Forge and are greeted by what seems to be a squad of wargame miniatures on the world map. Could this be a clue pertaining to what's inside?


Our goal is to investigate a Big Building, but before we get there we have to deal with its brother Little Building. Lil' B has a couple archons holding the fort, along with a turret that we exploded with bluescreen rounds shortly before this screenshot was taken.


Sensenic opens up with Hail of Bullets, the better to hit that squirrely bird...


...then Eric and Gerad team up to take it down.


The second archon falls back a bit before firing at us, showing a flagrant disregard for company property in the process. That workstation costs more than your annual salary, Archie!


Flawgic voids and disorients the archon, but sadly doesn't pull off the mind control. Man, it would be fun to have control over an archon, we really need to upgrade our psi amps. Anyway, Eric shoots it dead and we move the squad up.


Our next speed bump is a trio of ADVENT soldiers.


The snipers take their shots...


...but Flawgic prefers a more intellectual sort of combat. She uses Fuse to explode this trooper's grenades while they're still carrying them; it's totally badass.


Not to be outdone by the whippersnappers, Sensenic scores a kill.


It isn't all fun and games, though, as the last of the ADVENT gets in a modest hit on Ted. He is quickly dealt with on the next turn.


Moving up, we get our first glimpse of the Forge proper. And guess what it's guarded by?


Our good buddy, Sectopod!


Eric happens to have shredder, so I start off by having him take out some of that pesky armor. His gun procs, granting him a free turn, so he shoots again and gets rid of the rest. Not a bad start!


Gerad's bluescreen rounds pack a whallop!


I got greedy and tried to finish the encounter off using Deadeye, a low-level sharpshooter skill that I tend to ignore in favor of the (generally superior) Lightning Hands. It's great when Deadeye pays off, but the hit that your accuracy takes is enough discouragement to keep me from busting it out very often.


Scorch (our new Templar, if you had forgotten) plinks away at the sectopod with her machine pistol before handing things over to Sensenic, who uses that sweet guaranteed damage to shut 'er down - permanently.


Just a few steps more and we come across an archon and an ADVENT soldier. Flawgic makes good use of the crossbow, which can't be evaded by slippery types like the archon or the specter. You either hit or you don't, and she did.


Scorch zaps the soldier, but they retreat into the Forge, forcing us to move up in pursuit.


Just inside, we come across yet another pod of enemies. I had forgotten just how many there are on this mission. That said, for the most part they're small fries.


But if I know one thing about fries, it's that you shouldn't eat poisoned ones! That's a little tip that's gotten me through some tough times, folks.


Scorch runs up and slices the ADVENT priest, who goes into stasis. However, it only has 1 HP left, meaning the poison finishes it off as soon as it wakes up again.


Scorch, on the other hand, is immune to all forms of poison, fire, and explosion! She crosses the poison cloud with impunity.


Now that we're inside, we can see that the Forge is filled with these capsules, one of which opens to reveal...a baby ADVENT! So this is where they've all been coming from. Now if you've played video games before, you might expect capsules like these to start opening up, spewing combatants out from all sides. That would be pretty cool, wouldn't it! But nope, nothing of the sort happens. It's good for keeping you on edge the first time you play this mission, watching over your shoulder the whole time as you wait for an ambush that never comes. But knowing that it won't happen, the whole fakeout honestly seems a little lazy. Gimme some encounter design, Firaxis!


While there are quite a few generic ADVENT tubes in the Forge, one in particular seems to be in a place of honor. More importantly, it's a different color than all the rest! Clearly, something very important must be inside. Clearly, we want to take, or at least destroy, whatever it is.


Looks like we won't get it without a fight, though.


Scorch uses her Lightning Hands to soften up this shieldbearer before slicing it across the grain and plating up over a red wine reduction.


Flawgic puts the andromedon on ice, so we can focus on...


...the archons, one of whom has decided they're going to blow this [strike]case[/strike] building wide open! Dude, there has to be a better way to protect all this valuable ADVENT infrastructure, what is it with archons and property damage?


Thare are good snipers, and then there is Ted, who hits a flying target that he can't see through a roof. Don't get on that guy's bad side, I tell ya.


Flawgic crossbows another archon...


...which Scorch cuts into pieces as both our holosoldier and the andromedon look on in horror. Happy Halloween!


I was all geared up for a big fight with the andromedon when this happened.


I can't remember if we killed that first archon or not, but either way its pinions land, redecorating the forge. Gotta admit, the place feels very airy now.


Flawgic just keeps getting those hits in, doing a solid 12 damage to the andromedon shell. All you folks who turned your nose up at the crossbow must be feeling pretty silly now!


With the enemies disposed of, it's time to find out what's inside the capsule. And the answer is...an astronaut? More accurately, it's someone or something inside an ADVENT stasis suit, which is something that players of XCOM 2 might have seen in the game's tutorial mission. We didn't play that one, since it's optional (and boring), but it starts with a small squad of soldiers rescuing someone from an ADVENT facility. And the person inside the stasis suit turns out to be none other than YOU THE PLAYER!! It's a long story.


Anyway, whatever is inside this suit is unresponsive, so Scorch starts schlepping. We'll bring it home and let Tygan see what's inside.


The only thing standing between us and that are reinforcements. Lots and lots of reinforcements. A new group lands every turn until we evac - I think we dealt with three full pods' worth on our way back to the ship.


Nothing really scary ever shows up in an ADVENT dropship, though, so it's something of a turkey shoot for the team.


This one guy gets the full brunt of the shredstorm cannon, because I didn't find a better place to use it earlier in the mission. That's gonna sting in the morning!


I don't want to put in a dozen pictures of the team shooting enemies as they land, so suffice to say we made it to the evac point, hooray!


Not sure how we found the time to pose for a photo on the way out, though.


Eric makes Major, so I give him Guardian. This gives him a chance to chain together overwatch shots, which should go nicely with the huge clip size of the Warlock's Disruptor rifle.


And with that, we're done! Look at the goofy little oven mitts on that guy. Anyway, we get some money and the doomsday meter goes down two block for our efforts. We'll need to research this thing, which will take a few days, plus we have another story mission to unlock in the Shadow Chamber before we'll hit the endgame. Add in the generic missions that will come up while we do all that researching and we're probably looking at 3-4 more missions before we undertake our final operation. I do hope you'll join me as we mop up the remaining ADVENT forces and take our planet back!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 35: Hey Little Sister


Boy, everyone on the team is looking pretty tired. Not me, though, I'm doing great!


We're pretty comfortable at this point, so I'm starting to focus on covert ops that will give our top soldiers an edge. I'd love to hand this aim bonus to Gerad, but tired soldiers can't undertake ops, so VV gets the buff. Later on, I sent her on another mission to get a dodge buff, since rangers tend to be in the line of fire pretty frequently.


Once again, we have failed to produce the powered weapon that I want. Oh well, at least this is one I've never seen before. I'll give it a try while we take another stab at developing
REDACTED
.


We finished our Gatekeeper autopsy, which unlocks the Alien Psi Amp! With this, we can skip the tier 2 psi amp and go right to the best one. Score!


We saved Vermont to be the final region added to our resistance network, which just goes to show that I'm playing XCOM with my head and not my heart. Anyway, that's it, we caught 'em all! Now we can undertake missions across the entire globe. We also are pulling in a stonking ridiculous amount of money each month, something on the order of 700 supplies. Speaking of which...


...a new month is upon us. The only one of these dark projects that really has any bearing on us is the middle one, which I will endeavor to stop when I have the chance. Intel costs aren't much of a problem now that we have every region unlocked! And the Chosen won't be bothering us any time soon.


Yes, the Chosen are gone, but not forgotten. We finish research on the Assassin's weapons, which are going to go to ViolentVixen at the first opportunity.


But before that, uh, Match is just gonna borrow them for a little bit. You won't even notice they're gone!


There are important Shadow Chamber projects that we need to research if we ever want to finish this game, but I can't resist doing one more autopsy before we get into them: the Archon King. Autopsies of the three alien rulers are accompanied by audiologs dictated by Dr. Vahlen, the head scientist from XCOM: Enemy Unknown. She had a bit of a thing for taking extra terrestrials apart - and apparently putting them back together, too.


I'm going to build a radio relay in Oceania to unlock the continent bonus here. It gives us a chance to have an ADVENT soldier join the squad on any mission we run. They're somewhat useful and, more importantly, entirely expendable!


Spook learns Soul Steal (←→↘↙←→ + [ATTACK]) and then starts to work on his final psionic ability, Fuse. After that, he'll be a grandmaster magus! Then we'll stick Flawgic in the tank until the end of the game so she can power up.


We're sitting pretty comfortably at this point, not much risk of losing the campaign in the near future.


Is it that time already? This is going to be a milk run, there isn't a single Sectopod or Gatekeeper on the mission!


Just as well, since so many members of the A team are tired right now. Kurt's only 1 day away from a full recovery, so I take a chance on fielding him because I want to have a ranger on the mission to field test the new weapons.


Not a lot of noteworthy stuff happens on this mission, so I'll just show off a few highlights, like this shot of Ted doing serious damage to an elite spectre. Not enough to one-shot it, though, those guys have like 20 health.


Looking pretty sleek, there, Match!


This is one of those retaliation missions where the local resistance cell is armed and fights alongside the squad. They've clearly been upgrading their gear, because their shots hit for 6-8 damage most of the time. That's actually enough to be somewhat useful, even when the enemies are armored. It also makes this mission a piece of cake.


The mission is centered on a church, where a group of (mostly) unarmed resistance members is holed up. They're under siege by a large number of berserkers, codices and specters. A couple folks get squished, but that's how it goes.


Another berserker rushes in, this time flanked by a pair of chryssalids. But I have just the thing for these bugs.


A plasma cannon! As far as I can tell, it's functionally identical to the shredstorm gun, except with a smaller area of effect. According to the XCOM 2 wiki, it ignores armor rather than shredding it, so I guess it's useful if you're more interesting in straight up killing enemies than in weakening them? Whatever, I can't wait until I get my
REDACTED
.


The problem with codices on a mission like this is that resistance members keep shooting them, which causes them to split. Then they go and do annoying stuff like this. I would be mad...


...except that sometimes the resistance cleans after itself. Thanks!


Boosh!


If you think Match looks cool here, you should meet him in real life.


By now, we've made it to the church and Aqua's putting the hurt on the aliens, too.


Unfortunately, this puts him in harm's way and he gets shadowbound by an elite specter. But don't worry, we have a solution for that:


BOOSH


We clean up the last of the aliens and make a quick stop by the photo studio before heading home.


Aw man. :( Looks like we'll be down a ranger for the next little while. And he was only 1 day from [strike]retirement[/strike] a full recovery!


We completed the Archon King autopsy! I have it on good authority that this will unlock a delightful set of armor for us, I'm really looking forward to trying it out.


There isn't anything else important for us to autopsy right now, so I'm finally going to start working on a Shadow Chamber project: deciphering the codex brain. I think that'll unlock our next story mission, although I could be mistaken. Anyway, the end is nigh! See you next mission.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Torzelbaum;2628678 said:
[Re: the shredstorm cannon]
Is that an upgrade for [SPOILERPOP]Ted[/SPOILERPOP]?

[Soul Steal + Alien Psi Amp construction]
"I'm interested in this."
Violentvixen;2628679 said:
[Kurt borrows some pointy things]
YES I WILL DON'T TOUCH MY SWORDS
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mission 36: Like Best Buds

I promised you people some new friendships and it's high time I deliver!


First up, it's Sexy and Spook! Theirs is a torzel-BOND that can never be broken.


And then there's the one-two punch of Met Man and Mailman! I'm, uh, not entirely sure what these two are up to in this image. Hopefully everyone involved is a willing participant, in which case I won't kink-shame.


Back on the Avenger, we are continuing to fail to make the gosh-darned powered heavy weapon that I want. I've got cores to burn, though, so we're just going to keep trying. I can do this all day! :mad:


Not only does Spook have a new friend, but his psi op training is finally complete! With Fuse at the ready, he can now ascend to the rank of Magus. And since he's armed with an alien psi amp, the baddies will be shaking in their boots whenever he's around.


Now that the competition is out of the way, Flawgic has the psi chamber all to herself for the foreseeable future. What better way to celebrate than by learning NULL LANCE?


I finished building a radio array in Australia, unlocking the Double Agent bonus. What does it do? Stay tuned to find out!


We finish researching the codex brain, getting a screenful of lore for our trouble. It also unlocks a new mission for us!


That's right, folks, it's story (mission) time.


Here's our team for today - we've got one of our new sets of bondmates along for the ride. Note that Vixen has also regained possession of her precious weapons and is going to start making up for lost time. I'm also bringing Scorch along for a couple of reasons, one of which being that she's somewhat expendable.


But who is this I spy? Why, it's our very own ADVENT stun lancer! Yup, this is our reward for getting the Double Agent bonus: a chance to have a free enemy soldier on our team on any given mission. This stun lancer - let's call him Harvey - isn't exactly an ace combatant, but he's even more expendable than Scorch over there.


And that's very convenient, because this level is full of hidden chryssalids! We get a camera flyby of something like 6 of these bugs burrowing into the ground across the level. Whenever someone walks near one, our chitinous friends will pop up and get a surprise attack in on the unlucky soul. You can protect your troops with copious amounts of overwatch or, ideally, the blademaster Ranger skill. But the best defense of all is to have a disposable soldier on your team! Harvey here will be taking point for as long as he is physically able to do so.


Of course, there's more to life than a bunch of bugs. For example, here's a group of mutons and an andromedon! They're bunched up real tight, so Scorch tries to, you know, scorch them using Volt, which chains from target-to-target. When it feels like it. Which apparently isn't today. Because it didn't.


Big Sexy is rocking the venom rounds today, throwing a little poison into the mix.


Harvey here is no great shakes when it comes to shooting stuff, but at least he isn't actively trying to kill us.


Spook finally gets to test out his new alien psi amp! This started as a garden-variety void rift, but he got two followup attacks as a bonus. That muton is ruptured! It's also mind-controlled! It's also dead! So I guess we won't be acquiring any more ADVENT cast-offs today.


Oops, looks like there are more of them. Nothing too worrisome for a team of seasoned pros, but that's an awful lot of HP for us to chew through.


Then again, VV does have a new shotgun to break in.


We haven't fully dealt with that other squad of ADVENT, but Harvey seems to have more pressing problems. He pops this hidden chryssalid, taking a nasty stab wound in the process. Thank you for doing your civic duty, redshirt!


That said, we aren't going to leave him to hang (yet). Scorch and Sexy take care of the bug for Harv and then Aquadeo patches him up so he can continue serving as our human (?) canary.


Man, there's just so many HP on an Andromedon.


Scorch slices up an ADVENT MEC that Gerad had softened up for her previously. I'm trying to level her up, so I'm feeding her a lot of kills over the course of this mission.


Poor Harvey can't catch a break, but he does catch this Andromedon's mean left hook. Miraculously, he survives!


Unfortunately, he isn't so lucky the next time. Farewell, Harvey, you saved a bunch of more important people from taking all those hits!


Scorch avenges our fallen comrade, looking totally sweet in the process.


When chryssalids kill someone, the corpse turns into a chryssalid cocoon, which spawns weaker bugs every turn. I don't want to deal with that, so I get Big Sexy to bust out the old Chain Shot, which doesn't miss for once. It probably helps that the target is stationary.


Farther up we find - you guessed it! - more bugs.


Olli weakens them with a well-placed gas grenade...


...and Vixen finishes this one off as it crests the hill. Pretty cool shot, IMO.


Past those chryssalids, we find what we were looking for. It's Stargate: Atlantis! Tygan just has to have it, so we're going to clear out the map and bring it home. Surely nothing terrible could come from experimenting on this barely-understood alien teleportation device, right?


The last obstacle in our way is this Gatekeeper, which warped in through the gate as part of the cutscene. More like a Gateuser, amirite?


Spook softens it up with an EMP grenade...


...before Gerad really puts the hurt on. That was a pistol shot, folks. A pistol with bluescreen rounds that ignores armor, but still.


In fact, the pistol shot even does more damage than the rifle shot that follows it! To be fair, that's because Gerad has shredder, so rather than bypass the armor this time he is destroying it.


Aqua picks off the last straggler, and with that we're done.


Let's bring this thing home! Hopefully Lily has some kind of adapter for it so we can plug it into the Avenger's power supply.


Good job, team! Not a single injury and only one dead ADVENT guy


VV made colonel! We celebrate by buying her both of the top-level skills. Rapid fire is incredibly powerful, so long as you choose your shots - it lets you fire twice in a single turn with an aim penalty. Get your ranger close enough to the enemy and you're almost guaranteed to hit twice, doing massive damage. I also grabbed Serial, which lets you chain kills together to get free actions. I don't like it quite as much, but it's cheap and could come in handy.


Looks like we'll have to install the gate in our science lab and then research it. We're up to three incomplete Shadow Chamber projects, but those are all that stand between us and the final mission! I imagine we'll end up running a filler mission or two before I can get all that research over with.

But for now, we out! Stay healthy, everyone.

Looks like we'll have to install the gate in our science lab and then research it. We're up to three incomplete Shadow Chamber projects, but those are all that stand between us and the final mission! I imagine we'll end up running a filler mission or two before I can get all that research over with.

But for now, we out! Everybody stay healthy, now.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Mogri;2636471 said:
Gatekeepers are organic, despite all appearances.
Torzelbaum;2636520 said:
Sexy and Spook - the bond so nice Mike mentioned it twice.
Violentvixen;2636541 said:
I will hit the weak point for massive damage... twice.
MCBanjoMike;2636580 said:
[To Mogri]
It actually counts as both! That’s why it took damage from the EMP grenade.
Mogri;2636590 said:
Huh! TMYK.

But the nice thing about them being organic: they make really nice Domination targets.
MCBanjoMike;2636597 said:
That’s a good point, I should really start using domination more now that we have good psi amps.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Fast Forward: Missions 37-40

Gotta say, folks, it feels like we've been stuck here for a while - and that's because we have. I had a look back through this thread and I realized that it has been fully NINE MONTHS since I declared that we were entering the XCOM Doldrums, that late-game period of time after you've finished all the interesting missions but before you can complete the campaign. I could go on about why I dislike this part of the game, but I think the Talking Heads put it best on their 1979 album Fear of Mutons:

When this mission's over
It will start again
Won't be any different
Will be exactly the same

Oh, XCOM
XCOM is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing never happens


They don't specifically clarify which part of XCOM they're talking about, but we all know. (Also, for as good as that album is, I personally prefer the followup, Remain in Cover.)

Anyway, we're stuck in the lifeless endgame and it's time to break free. Because everybody knows that when the wind won't fill your sails, the only solution is to strap a jet-engine to your boat. So this week, we're going to cover no fewer than SEVEN MISSIONS as we power our way to the final confrontation. Are you ready? Let's goooooooo!


Well that's inauspicious. We're now on the run from an aggressive UFO that's looking to track down the Avenger. In vanilla XCOM 2, this mission was triggered by one of the ADVENT Dark Events and can be prevented with careful play. In War of the Chosen, though, it seems to just pop up whenever it feels like it. To be fair, this usually happens way earlier in the campaign, when it's much more of a problem. The special mission that occurs when the UFO catches up with you is quite difficult in the early game, but with a ship full of high-level troops it will be little more than a speed bump. You can try to delay this mission by keeping the Avenger away from the UFO on the world map while scanning for stuff, but at some point the game just decides that it's gonna find you and there's nothing you can do about it. That won't happen for a little, however, so let's try not to let it get us down.


On the bright side, we now have this! Remember that Archon King that we took out? Well we, uh, made a suit of clothes out of its skin! It's extremely creepy, but also very useful and, honestly, pretty cool-looking. The Archon suit allows you to jump up and down from high ledges when moving, plus it grants you the ability to basically teleport twice per mission. These moves have a huge range and are free actions, which is kind of incredible. Also, any Archons that you meet have a chance of panicking because you're wearing the skin of their monarch as a suit.


It's GrOPs time! We don't really need any of the potential rewards at this point, so I tend to choose the missions based more on which Dark Events I want to avoid. Having a chance of capture on all covert ops is no bueno, so we're going with this one.


This mission's got zambies. They would barely register as cannon fodder by this point in the campaign, but now we've got the resistance order that turns any hit on a zombie into an instant kill, too. MetMan mows down the shamblers with impunity.


Here we see Gerad using one of the free Icarus Jump moves to fly into position...


...and completely wreck this gatekeeper's day with two consecutive crits. The Darklance free-action bonus seems to proc way more than one shot in five, but I'm sure as heck not complaining.


Olli plants the X4 charges on whatever our target was and we're out.


Mission accomplished. Next!


Gerad makes Colonel and we give him Fan Fire, a skill that lets him shoot his pistol three times at a single enemy. The Darkclaw ignores armor, so skill can be extremely effective against larger enemies.


Olli and T.Baum are now Level 2 Friends!


THERE IT IS. This is what we've been trying to build with our last 5 attempts: a Blaster Launcher! This heavy weapon is basically a drone-bomb that you can guide to any spot you want to do massive damage. It has fantastic range and you don't need line-of-sight on enemies to use it, so it's incredibly versatile. A scout can spot an enemy two floors below through a skylight and then your Grenadier can deliver this parcel directly to the target's feet from two timezones away. It serves as a great get out of jail free card, like a more destructive version of the decoy beacon.


We unlock one final continent bonus, which grants us a chance to have a resistance member accompany us on any mission. This is exactly like the ability we have that randomly assigns us ADVENT soldiers, except you feel kinda bad when these ones die. I believe it's possible to have both bonus soldiers on the same mission, which would give us an extra-large squad of eight soldiers!


Research on the recovered stasis suit is complete. TL;DR it's made from people but it's not alive. Yet.


Next up: Council Mission.


We start the mission with a group of Archons. Gerad shoots at their spectre buddy...


...and his costume causes one of the archons to panic. Again, that's a very rational reaction.


We mop them up and then proceed to the van where our VIP is waiting. Eric hacks the door, and unlocks this extremely valuable bonus in the process of doing so. Don't ask me why this one was guaranteed to succeed when you get stuff like "20 bonus intel" that has a 12% chance of success.


A little farther on, I stumble onto a Gatekeeper. Breaking with protocol, I don't manage to kill it on the first turn and it actually gets a chance to act. It opens up its shell and we finally get to see the cuddly tentacle monster that has been hiding inside all this time.


Shelled gatekeepers mostly tend to just shoot at you with their enormous (but thankfully inaccurate) cannons. But exposed gatekeepers are all about the psionics, which is generally bad news for us. This one emits a pulse of purple energy that kills a bunch of civilians...


...and then reanimates them all as psi-zombies. That's pretty gnarly, dude!


Thankfully, Nightwalker is on the case. Banish, along with his skill that lets him partially ignore armor, makes short work of ol' squiddy. The gatekeeper explodes and all the walking dead go back to being stationary dead.


We rescue the VIP and make a clean getaway. Two missions down, five to go!


At this point in the game, most of the covert ops I run are selected because they give permanent bonuses to valuable troops or else they earn AP...that I can use to apply permanent bonuses to valuable troops. This time, however, I also picked up a highly-valuable resistance order. Tactical Analysis basically removes an action point from any enemy that we stumble onto during our turn. That really takes the sting out of blundering into squad of baddies at the end of your turn, since it cuts the harm they can do during their turn in half. It's in the top tier of resistance orders, right next to the one that improves all of the weapon attachments.


We finish researching the codex brain in the Shadow Chamber and ugggggghhhhh now we have to skulljack a codex. That is not how I wanted to spend my Saturday.


Furthermore, we don't have enough Alien Alloys to undertake the next bit of Shadow Chamber research! I thought this was going to be a minor inconvenience but (spoiler alert) it wound up being an enormous pain in the ass. Because you don't get alien alloys from most missions. You can buy them at the black market...except the black market was closed by a Dark Event. For SIX WEEKS. You can pick them up by scanning or running covert ops, but none of the scanning spots and ops that we have available offer alloys as a reward.


Well, what about assaulting an alien facility? They've probably got to have some allows somewhere in there, right?

(wrong)


For this mission, I brought along as much of the A-team as I could, because I was expecting to have a final confrontation with either the Berserker Queen or the Viper King (since alien rulers often guard facilities like these). Sadly, neither of them decided to show their faces - potentially because they don't want to have said faces removed and worn by our squad. Still, bringing the heavy hitters was a good idea, as you shall soon see.


What we do find, right off the bat, is a codex-led patrol. We move the squad into position on an overlook and then I send Matchstick ahead to hack the CPU, as it were.


*hacker voice* I'm in.


With that, we have access to all the sensitive, gooey files of the Avatar Project. Man, who knew I'd be able to knock off that objective so quickly! And here I was expecting it to be a huge pain.

...

Except.


The first time we skulljacked an officer, a codex appeared; we traded an easy enemy for a decidedly nastier one. Hacking the codex produces this...person? It's basically Underwater Goku, but the official name is Avatar. Yup, this thing seems to be the reason why the aliens have been turning millions of people into soup. Naturally, we are going to kill it.


Except Kurt's little sprint across the badlands had the unfortunate effect of alerting some enemies to our presence. There are the two spectres who were patrolling with the codex, of course. There are also these ADVENT troops and the heavy turret on top of this nearby building. And the Avatar who just warped in.


And this Sectopod.

Now, good readers, I'm not going to lie to you: this is extremely bad. As happy as I was to have checked the skulljack-a-codex box, it seemed like I was going to be sacrificing some of our very best soldiers in exchange. We have something like 8 enemies facing us, including 2 of the nastiest in the game, and Kurt is completely exposed, far from the rest of the squad. I was preparing myself for the worst.

So how did it go?


Eh, you know, not too badly. *flex flex*


Ok, but seriously, how did we get out of this without so much as a scratch? By pulling out all the stops, for one. We start with a little Kill Zone from Gerad...


...then Sensenic busts out the BLASTER BOMB to soften up the Sectopod and the Avatar.


Avatars have an irritating habit of teleporting every time they take damage. They're actually less annoying than codices, because they don't clone themselves every time, but it's still a pain. Then again, you can also use it to your advantage if you're careful. Because every time they move, someone on your team is likely to have a good shot on them. If you chain together the shots with the best hit chances, you can sometimes ping-pong them back and forth until they're dead.

Or they can teleport to some out-of-the-way corner where nobody can even see them. That happens too, sometimes.


(Not today, thankfully.)


Nightwalker banishes the Sectopod, which lights up like a Christmas tree.


One of the spectres runs up and shadowbinds Sensenic. Inconvenient. Thankfully, it wastes its next turn shooting at our decoy hologram, as do a few of the ADVENT troops.


This stun lancer runs up on Matchstick and gets a facefull of Blademaster for his trouble. Then he tries to attack him, but - guess what! - Kurt is invincible! That's right: because he killed that codex with the skulljack earlier this turn, his Untouchable skill activated, protecting him from the first attack that came his way. Nice!


You could probably tell from all the purple, but Avatars are real big on brain powers. This one mind-controls Aquadeo, so now we're down two soldiers. This will not stand!


We start by having Gerad take out the nearest of the spectres.


This frees Sensenic from shadowbinding and destroys his evil clone. He then uses his newfound freedom to inflict a Hail of Bullets (can't miss) on the Avatar. Ignore the spectre corpse, it took up this pose earlier when Gerad killed it.


The Avatar teleports one final time and comes into range of Matchstick's blade. With that, it is no more. But don't worry, there's more where that one came from!

With that, and a couple of lucky misses, we manage to make it through the enemy turn unscathed. The team mops up the stragglers and we press on to actually, you know, finish the mission. There was definitely some luck involved, but I think this encounter shows just how formidable Tyrant Squad has become.


We make our way over to the base that we're supposed to destroy. It's guarded by a few more enemies, so we drop a poison grenade on them. Did you know that you can poison gatekeepers? It's true!


You can also use brain lasers on them.


We blow up the base and head back to the Avenger. Sadly, though, we don't manage to salvage any alien alloys from the wreckage.


That was definitely one for the books. Tyrant Squad's finest hour!


One thing we do bring home is this Avatar corpse. We'll have to examine it in the Shadow Chamber to unlock the final story missions...you know, once we've dealt with our alloy problem.


MOAR FRIENDZ


Aw geez, the chickens have come home to roost. Time to face the music. Gotta pay the piper. And other such metaphors.


The alien UFO chases the Avenger for a while before damaging the ship to the point where we are forced to land.


Somehow, it gets us to emergency-land right next to this weird beacon-thingy. This tower emits yellow energy that is somehow preventing us from restarting the Avenger's engines and getting the hell out of here. We need to take out this tower, and soon, because a horde of ADVENT are descending on the Avenger. This is a do-or-die situation, folks.


We deploy at the Avenger's access ramp with a group of six soldiers - you can even field wounded soldiers on this mission if you want. Every turn or two we'll get reinforcements from the ship, so it's possible to have a good 10 people on the field by the time the mission wraps. That's good! But if even one enemy makes it to the Avenger's ramp, you lose. That's bad.


As I mentioned earlier, this mission is quite difficult for a group of low-to-mid-level soldiers. At this point, though, we have some serious firepower on our side. It's still quite a brawl, though, as we have to carve our way through a horde of weaker enemies to make it to the beacon. Reinforcements arrive regularly, so there's some pressure to keep advancing. Of course, you also need to defend the ship, plus you have to run everyone back to the ramp after the beacon is destroyed so they can escape on the Avenger. I tend to wind up with a group of soldiers stationed around the ship and a smaller forward squad pushing toward the beacon.


Somewhere along the way, Scorch made colonel! Here, she's using a top-level Templar ability to transform a dead ADVENT soldier into a being of pure energy. This psi-clone has the same abilities as Scorch and will stick around until it uses up all its focus. It's a pretty good ability TBH, but you can only do it once per mission.


After fighting through a bunch of chryssalids, mutons, MECs and ADVENT, we arrive at the beacon. I'm trying to go pretty quickly with these recaps, but we're a good distance away from the ship at this point.


Spoony drops a Blaster Bomb on the beacon, Scorch takes a shot with her pistol...


...and Joe finishes it off from all the way back by the Avenger. Now we've gotta book it back to the ship, because once the beacon is destroyed you start to get enemy reinforcements every single turn. The trick is to run the farthest soldiers back as quickly as possible while the ones in the mid-field cover them, moving as much as they can while still shooting. Once your forward squad has consolidated and retreated a bit, they should hopefully be close enough to the ship that the reserves can cover the rest of their retreat. You have to balance moving and shooting so as to not get shot in the back but also not take too long, since the odds against you grow steadily with every turn.


We send the psionic Templar clone in the other direction to distract the enemies that were guarding the beacon. Thank you for your service, Purple Scorch.


Meanwhile our defenders are doing their best to keep the path clear for the soldiers returning from the front. I don't know who this handsome Canadian is, but he's doing a great job!


More reinforcements keep on coming, however. The priests in particular put me on edge; in a past life, Aquadeo had a very bad experience with one on this very mission. The priest put him into stasis right as everyone else had boarded and the Avenger was about to take off. I couldn't risk waiting another two whole turns for the stasis to wear off, so we had to leave him there. He was captured by ADVENT, but later rescued on a council mission where he was the VIP! Of couse, he missed like three months of action and was completely underleveled compared to everyone else, so he spent the rest of that campaign sitting at the bar telling war stories. But still, we got him back, and now his (identical) great-great-grandson is fighting for Tyrant Squad!


There sure are a lot of enemies in this mission.


But we prevailed! Everyone is back at the Avenger, and we hightail it out of there without looking back.

This concludes part one of our XCOM Fast Forward, but stay tuned - we'll be covering the last three missions in the very near future. Maybe even today, but by the end of the week at the very latest. Zoom!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Fast Forward: Missions 41-43


The Avenger is back in the air, but we're still treading water as we don't have enough alien alloys to complete our next story objective. While I'm waiting for some to materialize, this Guerrilla Op shows up. A lot of our heavy hitters are fatigued right now, from the one-two combo of base assault and Avenger defense, so today we're fielding Team Red + Ted (in the Archon suit). Even so, Scorch and Flawgic are both tired and will likely become Shaken after this mission, requiring some downtime. But I don't feel comfortable sending in the C-team, so we'll just have to deal with that when it happens.


We start this mission in stealth, but Scorch immediately gets ratted out by a CIVILIAN COLLABORATOR. How's that boot taste, turncoat??


Our mission today is to intercept (ie kill) an ADVENT Commander before they can evacuate in 5 turns. I like these missions in general, because engaging with the enemy is, theoretically, secondary to finding your target before they escape. Sometimes you can carefully scout out most of the map, waiting to strike until the enemy VIP is in your sights. No such luck today, though; with our cover blown, the Commander starts making their way to the extraction point. On the bright side, the evac zone is marked on our map, so we know where to look for them now.


After blaster bombing that group of ADVENT in the previous shot, the codex splits in two. One of the halves meets its end at MetMan's Metal Blade.


Esha Dominates an Archon! This guy is on our team until the end of the mission, since this type of mind control never wears off.


The other half of that codex from earlier drops this stupid energy field on us, which is probably the single thing I hate the most about that enemy type. These three soldiers won't be able to fire without reloading their weapons first, plus they have to waste one move each because this area is going to explode next turn. It basically nullifies half the squad for a turn, which is a real pain on a timed mission like this one.

In the meantime, I use our newly-acquired Archon to scout ahead, figuring Sniper Ted can take some potshots on whoever we spot from relative safety.


Well, folks, I didn't count on this possibility.


The Sectopod walks through the building wall, quickly closing the distance. I had figured any enemies would attack the Archon, since it was much closer, but a Sectopod with its legs extended has an aim bonus that basically negates low cover. The AI in XCOM 2 will almost always take the highest percent shot it can get, and because of the Archon's natural squirreliness (airborne enemies are harder to hit), the easiest target actually turns out to be...Ted. Ted takes a solid hit from the Sectopod, which then causes his buddy Esha to Shatter, meaning she spends her turn either hiding behind cover of hunkering down.


Esha's Shattering then forces Scorch to roll against panicking herself! Thankfully, she comes through and keeps her cool. But unfortunately, we still have a problem:


TED TED, NO!!

Sectopods get three actions per turn, which means the hulking mech was able to take a second shot at poor old Mailman, putting him in the ground. Farewell, Ted Teodoro, you were as good a third sniper as any commander could have asked for.


Oh and guess what: losing Ted causes MetMan to go berserk. Holy cow, this mission has gone completely mams up. I have to be honest, I was really blindsided by this one. I thought scouting ahead with our expendable Archon would be a safe way to trigger any dangerous enemies on the map. Well, consider that a lesson learned.


Speaking of expendable, we also have an ADVENT Stun Lancer on our team. With half our squad dead or panicking, it's their time to shine!


We finally get eyes on the ADVENT commander, who is trying to make their way up to the roof of this building. We have three turns to take them out, plus we have a Sectopod at full health to deal with. Let's get to it.


The upgraded EMP Bomb is very helpful here, since it does solid damage to the 'Pod and it stuns it for a turn or two. I use this time to chip away at its health with part of the squad...


...while Scorch runs forward to deal with our mark. Templars are good in these situations because they can move twice and still attack for decent damage. Plus, after attacking Scorch can Parry, which will nullify one attack directed at her. With the Sectopod locked down, I'm confident that she'll be able to survive out in front of the team. The Commander is accompanied by a trooper, but neither of them poses a huge threat.

Also, just to keep the panic train rolling, the commander grazes Scorch, which triggers her to become Obsessed.


Big mistake.


The commander starts climbing, but there is no escape from an angry Templar.


I've gotta say, Scorch has really come into her own. Between the solid melee attacks and the extremely cool psionic clone ability that she has, she's a force to be reckoned with. I've always liked the Templar class, but I find their damage output flags a bit in the late game. But for missions like this that require mobility, they're as flexible as they are deadly. I haven't even used their Invert ability in this campaign, which switches places between the Templar and an enemy of their choosing, but there are some really cool tricks you can pull off with it. My ideal squad is still basically one of each of the four standard soldier types plus a psi operative and a Reaper (for scouting + banish), but a Templar is almost good enough to be top tier too.


And just to prove that it can do something aside from getting Ted killed, here's a shot of our domesticated Archon shooting, uh, something. Nice work, pal.


Farewell, Ted. We're, uh, gonna keep using your armor though. Hope that's cool.


For all the harm it did, that Sectopod will still be of some use to the team. I'm not sure why this is the first one that dropped a wreck, but we can finally tear one down to get the best Gremlins for our specialists. That means more healing and higher damage whenever we use their abilities. Pretty cool!


At long last, after three consecutive filler missions, this is what we need! A supply raid should yield some alien alloys, assuming we manage to actually tag a few of the crates. Let's do it!


This is both a supply raid and a zombie mission. You may recall that we have the resistance order that turns any hit on a zombie into an instant kill, so at this point we can pretty much discount the crawlers entirely. Case in point, I decided to blaster bomb these ADVENT goons, despite the fact that doing so would attract a horde of the Lost. But I've got something special to deal with them:


And that something is named Joe. Joey here has an ability called Faceoff that lets him shoot every enemy he can see with his pistol in a single action. And right now he can see quite a few enemies! So he starts shooting...


...and he keeps shooting. Every shot that hits a zombie is a kill, so by the time he has finished he's racked up 8 kills in a single action, 7 Lost and one ADVENT. That's a record that I think is going to stand for a little while!


Later on we find a gatekeeper, and by now you all know what we do to gatekeepers. We don't even empty the clip on Banish because the repeater procs and the alien is executed halfway through. This has me thinking that I should maybe get Nightwalker the Reaper skill that lets you use your remaining Banish shots on different targets. It's very spendy, but it might get you a bonus kill or two depending on how the dice go. Hmm.


All right, that mission went significantly better. We pick up some alien alloys and we can finally start researching the psionic gate that we grabbed a while back! After that there's one more Shadow Chamber project, which is to autopsy the Avatar we killed two missions ago. Once those are complete, we'll be on our way to the final showdown.


The end of the month arrives, which gives us an opportunity to finally slot in the Tactical Analysis resistance order. If only we'd had that a month earlier, poor Ted might have survived his run-in with the Sectopod =(


Amazingly, no missions pop up while we research the warp gate. Time to start our final project!


Since it's generally been a pretty hard time for everyone lately, I decide to add a little happiness to the world by christening a new friendship. Let's take a photo to celebrate!


Uh...guys? You OK there?


Oh geez, whatever they have is spreading. Is it too late to quarantine the barracks?

In truth, what actually happened is that I got a new hard drive for my computer and I used Steam's migration function to copy the XCOM 2 directory over to it. Unfortunately, doing so seems to have broken all the mods that I had installed and I have yet to figure out how to restore them. Turns out that our troops are built using quite a few mods! So the squad's going to look a little...abnormal for this next mission. Hopefully I'll find some way to get everyone back to their old selves before the next update.


Because this is, frankly, unacceptable. :toastybert:


Anyway, this is your bog standard Guerrilla Op, what with the exception that Spoony has been replaced by Bob Ross.


Thankfully, he's still the same old Spoony on the inside, as this Andromedon can attest.


Joe's rocking the Archon armor today. Sorry about the stains, Joe, we cleaned it up as best we could.


Here's our Tactical Analysis in action! We stumbled onto this group, led by a gatekeeper, but they won't be able to get up to much on their first turn. As abilities go, it's a literal lifesaver.


This is a pretty easy mission, but what are we gonna do, not make a psionic energy ghost assassin?


As promised, I tried to Dominate this Gatekeeper. They're pretty fun to have under your control, especially if you're willing to blow up some civilians to create yourself a zombie army. Unfortunately, they're pretty tough to control, what with them being masters of the psionic themselves.


So we just get our energy ghost to blow it up.


One last shot of Esha working the crossbow, because why not?


Weirdly, nobody seems to be missing any body parts in this shot. A lot of them have the wrong armor or are missing their cool accessories, but the models in-mission seem to have been patched up in a way that they aren't on the Avenger. Weird.


We finish researching the Avatar corpse! Feel free to read all about it, but I'm not gonna.


Completing our last research project triggers a cutscene where we get a call from Agent 47. He has some bad news for us: apparently we've done such a good job that we've spooked the aliens. They are going to "accelerate" the Avatar project.


Which, unfortunately, involves turning an even larger number of people into goo to make their psionic troll dolls. Oops.


But a plan has been hatched! We're going to take control of the ADVENT network tower, which we will use to both disrupt their operations and also broadcast some important video evidence of ADVENT's crimes against humanity. Lots of regular people still think the aliens are doing an OK job of running things on Earth, so the hope is that we can remove their blinders and cause a revolt against those who would put humanity into a Vitamix and set it to high. Personally, I find this idea to be wildly optimistic, but I guess it's worth giving it a try?

With that, we have arrived at our destination: there are only two missions left in the campaign! We'll be putting together a team of 3 B-tier operatives for the first of them, saving the A-team for the final assault as part of a 7+ (!!) person crew. For as much as I've played this game, the last mission is still something of a challenge, so we'd better not get overconfident. Look forward to the beginning of the end next time on Join the XCOM 2 Character Pool Today!

man I really need a better title for this series
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Torzelbaum;2649984 said:
[The case of the missing limbs]
Oh no! Has everyone been training with jpfriction?

[Codex hate]
After playing Chimera Squad I can certainly agree with you (except there it can affect most or all of your squad). The codex enemy sure does give you a lot of reasons to hate it.
jpfriction;2650008 said:
My bad, guys, doctor said it probably wasn’t contagious.
Falselogic;2650017 said:
Not enough Falselogic in any of these updates...
MCBanjoMike;2650034 said:
Man, you fired a crossbow AND got shattered, what more do you want?
Falselogic;2650045 said:
Not to get shattered for one =P
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Penultimate Mission: The Spirit of Radio


Folks, we are at the threshold of no return. It's time to commit ourselves to action and end the menace of ADVENT once and for all!

...

Uh, almost. We've actually got a couple of things to take care of on the Avenger before setting out. First off, I've taken some time to rest everyone up, so our A-team is in perfect shape. Second, just as the final missions opened up I got a research breakthrough to improve the damage on our grenadier's cannons by one point, and since there wasn't much risk in doing so I ran the clock for 5 days until that unlocked. During this time, I also ran a covert op with some of our third-stringers that gave us...


...our very own Skirmisher! We will never be using him. However, as a fan of the dearly-departed Waypoint XCOM 2 YouTube series, I am tickled that we pulled a Mort for our team.


Another very important thing that needs to be done before starting the final missions is spending all of our accumulated AP! We go on a shopping spree, outfitting the A-team with the abilities that I think will be most helpful on the final mission:
  • Nightwalker gets target definition (all enemies remain visible forever once spotted) and blood trail (extra damage to any enemy that has already taken damage this turn)
  • Aquadeo gets guardian (50% chance of another overwatch shot after a successful one, works very well with the huge clip in his Disruptor Rifle) and haywire protocol (hack enemy robots)
  • Sensenic gets holo targeting (aim bonuses for the squad on any enemy that he shoots at) and also guardian IIRC
  • ViolentVixn gets conceal (go into stealth once per mission)
  • Gerad gets run and gun
  • Spook doesn't get nuthin' 'cause he already has 14 abilities and I don't think you can train psi ops at the training center and it's not like he needs any more anyway
In the process of doing this, I realized that Sensenic somehow never made colonel? In fact, we don't have a single colonel-rank grenadier, which came as quite a surprise. I typically use grenadiers to start off encounters, either by exploding a group of patrolling ADVENT or by firing at an armored target to shred away some of its protection, so I guess maybe my heavies don't get as many kills as the other classes? It's too bad I didn't spot this earlier, I could easily have stuck him on a covert op to get a guaranteed promotion. But I don't want to delay the final missions any further, so we'll just have to make due with Major del Castillo as he is.


Ok, with that all sorted out, let's get going! This second-to-last mission offers us a chance to spend our leftover intel for some bonuses. I take the one that improves everyone's aim and the one that starts us off concealed.


Deploy the B-team! We only get three soldiers for this mission, so I tried to pick a group that would be pretty self-sufficient. Everyone here is versatile and experienced; they're really more of an A- team IMO. Match and False are both feeling a little tired, but that shouldn't be an issue since this is going to be their last mission - one way or the other. To tilt the odds as much as possible, I'm letting them use all the best gear (sorry VV). Esha, of course, will be rocking her trusty plasma crossbow.


As we approach the dropsite, we get a glimpse of our target: the ADVENT radio signal. Which is, of course, a bright purple laser beam shooting into the sky. The way radio signals are.


This is a pretty short mission, but it's still somewhat risky due to the small squad size. This andromedon poses more of a threat, since we don't have six people ready to whittle down its huge HP reservoir.


That being the case, we aren't stingy with our resources. Kaboom!


Kurt lets 'em know we're here by doing 4x the remaining HP on this Codex in a single shot. That's why we keep the Rangers around, folks.


Spoony finishes off the Andromedon wreck with a chain shot. I mostly included this picture just to prove that chain shot can actually hit once in a while (despite mountains of evidence to the contrary).


Next up we find an archon and a viper. Match runs up to katana the snake lady...


...revealing another andromedon and a sectoid in the process. Oh bother.


The archon get in a hit on False, who has to roll a willpower check (presumably because she was a little tired coming into the mission). Thankfully, she keeps her cool.


The andromedon takes a shot at Match, but thankfully he is protected by the power of murder. Untouchable is such a great skill, y'all.


Spoony and Match take down the andromedon's first life bar. For her next trick, Esha decides to use Domination on the archon. Now, you may recall that last time I tried that trick, I only really succeeded in getting Ted killed.


But Ted's dead, baby, and this time our archon is going to pull its weight and then some. Note that the andromedon shell decided to retreat, for whatever reason. We get this shot in, but it escapes across the bridge and into the next building.


I send Archie after it and discover our last group of enemies, a couple more archons and a spectre.


Esha drops a void rift into the building, since you can never have enough purple in your life. Archie gets caught in the rift, but them's the breaks.


This time, my plan of sending the mind-controlled archon ahead of the team is working perfectly. All the enemies are focusing on Archie, while the team takes potshots at them from relative safety.


Archie isn't just a training dummy, either, he puts some serious work in!


We eventually end up with a lineup of three archons in a row. And if I've learned anything from puzzle games, its that when you line three things up in a row, they tend to disappear.


With a little help from Kurt, in this case. Unfortunately, he gets a little overzealous and ends up shooting Archie in the process. Oh well, it's not like we were going to bring him back to the Avenger with us.


Esha finishes off the andromedon shell with her trusty crossbow, because I know False will complain if I don't give her enough to do on her last mission.


With the baddies taken care of, we are free to hack the radio tower. This is a story hack, so of course we're guaranteed to succeed. So what happens once we control the airwaves?


As the team starts to make their escape, they are set upon by another round of ADVENT forces.


But suddenly, the ADVENT radio signal changes color, sending a brilliant pulse of yellow light through the sky!


The signal weakens the aliens' telepathic control over the ADVENT soldiers, incapacitating them...


...and shutting down their mechanized defenses for good measure. Sounds like part one of our plan was a success! But what about part 2: the deprogramming of the oppressed humans of Earth?


We next cut to an ADVENT news broadcast, where humanity is being promised an end to all disease if they only stop by their local gene therapy clinics. Of course, we know that the plan is to liquify anyone foolish enough to submit themselves to these "upgrades". This putz here is basically ADVENT's press secretary, if I cared more about the story we would have seen him earlier.


While he's espousing the greatness of ADVENT's new medical techniques, the images behind him change to show the genetically-modified ADVENT soldiers and scenes of ADVENT attacking human settlements.


The people watching his speech are justifiably upset.


Douchebro isn't getting the reception he expected from his speech, so he turns around to see what everyone is looking at on the screen behind him. Mob justice is quickly dispensed and this silicon-valley looking loser is no more.


And with that, our second-to-last mission is complete! Great job, team, you're almost the best XCOM has to offer!


As a retirement bonus, Matchstick makes Colonel from his last mission! That'll be a nice bump to his pension. Of course, he also develops a fear of archons, which is a little weird, since he killed three of them last mission and didn't get a scratch in the process. Not like it matters, he's heading to the bar for a nice glass of ginger beer.


Now there's only one thing left to do: invade the enemy stronghold and destroy the source of their power! Uh, somehow? Feels like there are maybe a couple of steps that we're glossing over here.


It's time to assemble the A-team! But before we do that, I just wanted to show off Sensenic's incredible 58 dodge skill. He's spent the whole campaign turning himself into an unkillable being of pure energy, and it's really paid off.


Here it is, the roster for our final mission. Everyone is in peak condition, equipped with our best weapons and armor. You'll notice a lot of mindshields in the loadout - that's because we're going to be facing more of those Avatar creatures in this mission. They can mind-control your squad pretty effectively and they have a habit of teleporting way out of range, so I'd rather nip that problem in the bud as much as possible. The only exceptions are Nightwalker, who will be spending almost the entire mission invisible, and Sensenic, because I really need those grenades. If either of them gets controlled we'll be in a bit of trouble, but hopefully that won't happen. (NOTE: I haven't played this mission to completion yet, so I really don't know if it's going to happen! This isn't foreshadowing).

But wait a second, you didn't think we'd go into the final mission without at least one surprise, right?


Remember this thing? We found it at the ADVENT cloning facility. It's basically an Avatar that hasn't finished baking yet. Well crank up the oven, folks, because we're gonna...frost it? Help me out here, I've got nothing.


Over here in the red suit, we have your standard garden-variety human being.


Through the magic of ♫science♫, the person inside this suit is going to take control over the Avatar body to pilot it remotely. Just like in that famous movie, Surrogates! Starring Bruce Willis!


But who could the mysterious person in the red space suit be? The answer is...me! Not the XCOM soldier who bears my name and callsign, but like, ACTUALLY me. The guy writing this post! Yes, the game literally self-inserts you into the final mission, where you get to control psychic Goku alongside your squad. Is that cool? I'm not really sure, but it means we get to have seven soldiers instead of six, so I'm all for it.


We're treated to a little cutscene of everyone saluting as you (me) walk down the hallway. And at the end, we arrive at our destination:


The Warp Gate! What awaits us on the other side? Find out next time, in the thrilling conclusion to Join the XCOM 2 character pool today! Coming soon to one of two possible forums near you!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Violentvixen;2655314 said:
[Literal self-insert character]
Uh okay sure. That's bizarre.
Mogri;2655344 said:
The tutorial mission, if you don't skip it, has your soldiers rescue You from the aliens' clutches. The story is that the first game is a series of simulations that they played in Your head in order to win the war (because You are such an awesome tactician). Because You were part of the psychic network once already, You are the ideal candidate to become the avatar and restore peace [STRIKE]to the four nations[/STRIKE].

A side effect of the backstory is that playing the first game means you're secretly helping the enemy.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Final Mission: Avatars in Waterland

And so we come to Tyrant Squad's final mission. What awaits us on the other side of the warp gate? Who will live to tell the tale and who will be the subject of a commemorative poster? What was the story of this game anyway? Only one way to find out!



Welcome to the Elders' secret ocean base, affectionately (?) known as Waterworld. So just who are these Elders, anyway? In a nutshell, they're the head honchos who control the invading alien empire: tall, skinny, four-armed aliens that are very good with psionics. They're a late-game enemy in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but they are conspicuously absent in the XCOM 2 campaign. Turns out that they're suffering from some sort of degenerative disease and their bodies are wasting away. The solution: make a bunch of Super Saiyan Avatars out of mulched up humans to be their new bodies!


Just like this one here that we commandeered for this mission.


As the team steps into the chamber, the Elders (AKA Ethereals) start a propaganda reel about how we're really messing everything up and they totally have our best interests at heart so maybe don't kill them, OK?


But we didn't come all this way to NOT solve our problems with violence. It's worked so far! This is a long mission and it's full of different enemy groups, starting with these hapless Mutons. At this point they don't stand a chance against us.


Farther up we find some ADVENT patrolling with a Sectopod. Here you can see Nightwalker's new ability in action - since he scouted this group of enemies, they are now permanently visible even when no one is in visible range of them. It's a handy skill, but I didn't wind up using it all that much on this mission in the end.


Even a Sectopod doesn't represent that much of a danger to the team, so long as we get the drop on it. That said, this is a very long mission and I'm trying to save our most powerful items and limited-use abilities for the end, so we are slightly limited in which of our tools we can deploy here. Normally, a Sectopod would be the nastiest enemy on a given mission and I would at least hit it with an EMP bomb or something. But for now we'll have to settle for recharging abilities like Vixen's Rapid Fire...


...and the Commander's Dimensional Rift, a souped-up version of Void Rift that does more damage in a much bigger radius. We can't risk losing the Commander on this mission because I am very important, but thankfully the Avatar's abilities all have super huge range and you can generally keep it out of harm's way while still being very effective. Its other skill is Null Lance, same as any other Psi Operative. Note that Dimensional Rift is great from a pure damage standpoint, but it doesn't come with the knock-on effects that you sometimes get from Void Rift, like bonus Mind Control. Also note that, next turn, that rift will collapse, taking basically every piece of the environment with it. This can create huge zones where no cover is available, so you should be a little selective about where you deploy these things.


Next up: four very unfortunate Sectoids.


Gerad gets two of them with Kill Zone and the squad mops up the rest.


A little farther on we find this group with no fewer than FOUR Codices, plus a pair of Archons for good measure. This would be another great spot to bust out Kill Zone, but that skill is currently recharging. So what's a sniper to do?


Serial is what! For the rest of the turn, any time Gerad makes a kill he will get a bonus action. As long as every shot is a kill shot, he can go indefinitely! He starts by popping a Codex for us. Note that we aren't obligated to take all of his actions in a row, we can switch to other team members and come back to him later so long as it's in the same turn.


The enemies scatter, taking up defensive positions inside this room. Normally they'd be safe from any area-of-effect attacks, but they didn't count on the enormity of Dimensional Rift. Look at the size of that thing! That said, it was a bad call to use DR on a group of Codices, because it doesn't do enough damage to kill them. And any attack that doesn't kill a Codex tends to cause it to clone itself, meaning that we now have 6 weakened Codices to take care of scattered across the map.


Of course, that isn't a huge problem, since Gerad is currently at the all-you-can-shoot buffet. He takes another 2-3 of them out for us and seriously wounds one of the Archons with his last shot. The rest of the team manages to clean the up enemy squad without letting them get a turn in. So far, so flawless.


Here's a shot of the Dimensional Rift collapsing and exploding everything inside its radius. I don't know who is taking the 9 damage that you see in the screenshot, because it isn't VV. Mysterious!


More Mutons! I guess they didn't see what happened to the last group.


Sensenic's self-preservation skills are so honed that he has even learned how to shoot at enemies without leaving cover! Walls are no impediment for Joan of the Castle.


Spook uses the delightful Fuse ability to explode this Muton's grenades while he's still carrying them. It's like a fireworks show!


Here come the robbits.


Man, look at the damage Gerad can do with just a pistol shot, these robots are fucked.


Done and dusted.


Moving on, we find a pod that's a little more our speed - two Codices and DOUBLE GATEKEEPER. This is one group that we'll have to take seriously.


The map starts to get a little strange at this point, too. Until now, we've been in a pretty generic-looking alien facility. Lots of curved walls and science-fiction-looking machinery. But at this point we enter what appears to be a suburban home, complete with a backyard and a swingset? Obviously the Elders have been up to some weird stuff, but I don't quite understand what the purpose of this place is. Are they raising humans here? If so, where are they now?


Double Gatekeeper is a problem worth expending some resources on. We start by having Nightwalker stick one of his augmented claymores onto a Gatekeeper. This can be done from extremely far away, which is nice, and it will explode as soon as the enemy takes damage...


...which happens immediately, thanks to an EMP bomb fired by Sensenic. The combined double explosion instantly vaporizes the two Codices and does massive damage to the golf balls.


Gerad takes out the first Gatekeeper, who then explodes, further damaging the second one.


And finally, we send VV up to finish off the straggler. Expertly-done, crew!


Beating the last Gatekeeper triggers a change of locale, taking us to the inner sanctum of the Elders. They start giving us a big spiel about how they're fighting some sort of larger battle and how everything they've done so far was to ensure the survival of all the races of the galaxy. Hah, as if I'd fall for that one!


No, folks, the time for talk is over. This is the final showdown! The main event! The big cheese! The battle of the pointy-haired Avatars!


For the final confrontation, our task is to defeat three more Avatar enemies, along with an endless (?) supply of reinforcements. At the start of the battle, however, only the first of the Avatars is deployed, along with two Archons. Once an Avatar falls, the next one will spawn, generally in the next group of reinforcements. I guess I don't know what happens if you take too long dealing with them, maybe you'd have to face all three at once? That would suuuuuuuuuck.


The map for the final confrontation is roughly diamond-shaped; our team warps in at the southern tip and the enemies appear in the north, east and west. The first Avatar's squad is directly north of us, but we are separated from them by a large wall running east-west. This is where the huge range of psionic attacks can really come in handy, we can drop Dimensional Rift on the enemy group without putting our own Avatar in harm's way.


Remember, every time you injure an Avatar, it teleports to a random location on the map. This is actually more of a help than a hindrance, because there really doesn't seem to be a lot of thought behind the places they choose to go. So what I typically do is focus on attacks that I know will hit, regardless of their damage potential, until the Avatar pops up in a spot where I can do some serious hurting. Spook uses Soulfire, which can't miss, to force the Avatar to move again.


It then hops closer to the squad, where we can flank it for an easy kill. Sensenic is first to notch an Avatar!


We still have to deal with those two Archons, however...


...along with this fourtet of mudmen that appears on the east side. None of these enemies are especially dangerous, but it's going to get crowded in here if we don't keep the population down.


VV is more than happy to oblige!


One of the Archons fire off a blazing pinions and then flies closer to the squad...


...where it catches site of Gerad's armor and panics. This causes it to flee, taking another move that just happens to pass right next to Nightwalker, revealing him. That's kind of cruddy, I'm really counting on him to scout out the enemy Avatar locations and I only have one charge of stealth left for the entire mission. Plus, using Banish will reveal him if he is hidden, which means I might need to do that before sending him back into stealth mode. Not ideal.


A group of vipers shows up on the west side. They're really far away from us, but I need to keep them in mind in case things drag out long enough for them to arrive.


In case you were wondering, the Commander's Avatar does indeed know how to shoot things. The damage is nothing special, but it does have a unique weapon type and animation, for what that's worth.


We've cleared out most of the mud men. The free turns that you sometimes get from the Chosen weapons really help with culling the herds.


The blazing pinions land, destroying most of the cover near our starting location. I started moving the squad up and to the east, since you can't really hide behind the big wall forever if you don't want to get ridiculously outnumbered.


Here comes our second Avatar on the east side, along with its honor guard. Man, two Andromedons is nothing to sneeze at. The Sectoids aren't much of a threat, though, since almost everyone in the squad is psi-shielded.


Since we're down our usual scout, I decide to put Vixen into concealment so she can go scout the location of Avatar 2 (coming to a theatre near you in 2035).


Turns out the Avatar is a good ways up, hidden behind cover. No-one has a good shot on it, so I have Sensenic use Demolition to destroy its cover.


And then I kind of panic and have Nightwalker use Banish. This was a bad move and I honestly knew it was at the time, because to-his hit percentage was just a hair over 50% and his rifle wasn't even fully loaded at the time. But I was getting antsy because I wanted to put him back into stealth mode and I was hoping to get lucky with a Repeater proc that would instantly finish the second Avatar off. No suck luck, sadly, Nightwalker gets about 3 hits in but does minimal damage in the process.


The Avatar appears on our left and Spook uses Null Lance for some reasonable guaranteed damage. Unfortunately, we're out of moves, so we can't finish it off before our turn ends.


The Avatar responds by using mind control on Nightwalker, which is just, like, a worst-case scenario for me. Nightwalker doesn't have a psi shield because he was SUPPOSED to be invisible for the entire duration of the mission! Thankfully, the mind control failed, which was a really lucky break. I mean, we could probably have killed the Avatar before it had a chance to use him to ill effect, but it's pretty stressful having someone under mind control from an enemy that can teleport to the other side of the map on a whim. Whichis more or less the same reason why the Warlock sucks, come to think of it.


We're not out of the woods yet, though. The two Andromedons take shots on the team, injuring Spook and Aquadeo despite the fact that both were in high cover a long distance away. Just bad luck, I guess.


Well, when the going gets tough, the tough get Blasting. The explosion kills the Sectoid, softens up one of the Andromedons and sends the Avatar teleporting out to a location...


...where ViolentVixen has eyes on him. VV also has Hail of Bullets, which, you may recall, cannot miss. Avatar 2 is down! Take that, James Cameron.


Aquadeo has a really powerful skill that can heal everyone on the team in a single move...but I don't actually need to use it right now. Healing doesn't end your turn, so you can do it twice in a row. Aqua patches up Spook and then tends to his own wounds, and everyone is back in fighting form.


I had only meant to do a bit of damage to this Andromedon, who was behind cover, but we get a free Mind Control in the bargain! The Andromedon only has a single HP left, but it's still a nice bonus. This mind control is a temporary dealie, so we'll have to make the best use of it we can before it wears off.


On the west side of the map, the final Avatar squad warps in. Look at all those HP!


With three Andromedons now on the map (plus the one in our control), I decide to deploy our mimic beacon. It sacrifices itself one last time so that Tyrant Squad may live. *salutes*


It may surprise you to learn that one of my favorite things to do with mind-controlled enemies is use up their explosives so they can't use them on me later. I thought this acid bomb would finish off my mind-controlled Andromedon while damaging the two other enemies, but it turns out that Andromedons are acid-proof. :derp:


We take the first life bar down on the enemy Andromedon and then Sensenic gets our only repeater proc for the whole mission on its shell. The dice were pretty stingy today, I tells ya. At least this is a nice enemy to get an instant kill on.


Yikes, two Berserkers and a Gatekeeper join the fray. Bear in mind that we still have the final Avatar's squad plus that group of Vipers running around out there. It's getting kind of hot in here!


Uh, and that one Andromedon that was formerly mind-controlled. Which wakes up and lands a hit on Gerad. Oopsy.


I just can't deal with all of these guys right now, so Sensenic puts them on ice. But then I have another idea:


DOMINATE THE GATEKEEPER!


As much fun as that is, we don't actually do a lot with our great white orb. Nightwalker locates the final Avatar, to which he applies his last claymore mine. Gerad does the honors of detonating it for him.


And then the Avatar makes the galaxy-brain decision to teleport...right next to a Colonel-ranked Ranger with the best shotgun in the game.


GG, ADVENT.


As soon as the last Avatar is dead, the mission ends. We weren't doing too badly, but there are times when you're completely surrounded and on the ropes and you can shoot the moon by ignoring all the regular enemies and just trying to kill the Avatar to end the mission. That's definitely worked for me in the past!

Now, though, it's time to evacuate as the emergency self-destruct activates.


But wait, the portal is unstable! How will our brave troops make it back home?


Thanks to the Commander's (AKA me's) super brain powers! We (I) single-handedly stabilize the portal, allowing the squad to return safely to the Avenger.


BUT WAIT. The Elders aren't finished, they want this Avatar with its precious, human brain. Because the Commander (again: me) is the single greatest military mind in the history of the galaxy and whoever has them (me) on their side is guaranteed to win any conflicts they take part in. And look, I can't argue with the facts, I totally get where they're coming from.


However, after a short moment of head-clutching, the Commander rallies and draws upon the never-before-seen blue brain power to combat the traditional purple brain power used by the Elders.


There's even a traditional Beam-O-War battle where the blue slowly overwhelms the purple. God the writing in this game is so bad.


We get another cryptic hint that there may be some sort of worse creature in the universe, hunting for...something? The Elders have apparently been worrying about this thing for some time, but the Commander don't give a fig.


They (I) beat back the Elders' psionic energies and send them packing. Presumably that means they're all dead? I haven't played enough Chimera Squad to know whether there are any signs left of the Ethereals after the end of this game.


And with that, the Commander's consciousness returns to his regular human body. Bradford makes bedroom eyes at us as we wake up again on the Avenger.

Will you two just make out already?


We then get a series of different scenes, showing how the civilian population is faring against the rudderless ADVENT. The answer is: surprisingly well! I wouldn't expect a mostly-unarmed populace to stand a chance against a fascist military regime, but ADVENT were all being controlled psionically by the Elders, so maybe they don't know what to do now that they have free will?


After a couple of news reports and pirate TV messages about the uprising, we get a scene of this super dumbass walking up to an ADVENT checkpoint with a baseball bat. I would normally expect them to shoot him on sight, but for some reason they don't...


...which gives his resistance backup to show up. After 20 years of occupation, it looks like humanity is free once more!


But under the surface (get it), not all is well. The camera takes us deep under the ocean, to the wreckage of the secret Elder facility.


There we find some sort of glowy fissure in the ocean floor, oozing what appear to be psionic tentacles. X-COM historians will immediately realize that this is an oblique reference to Terror From the Deep, the second of the classic X-COM games, where war was waged against ocean-dwelling aliens. In the old game, these ocean enemies (anemonies?) were sleeper agents working for the same force that you were fighting in the first game. Here, though, it seems to be some kind of enigmatic force from beyond space and time. Sequel hook!

If we were playing vanilla XCOM 2, that would be the final scene. In War of the Chosen, however, we get three little vignettes to wrap up each of the factions' stories.


First up we have Riker the Reaper, leading his people back into humanity's embrace now that the aliens have fallen.


Then there's a group of ADVENT soldiers, who approach the skirmisher leader Betos before kneeling and removing their helmets.


And finally, we have a group of Templars walking through the woods, having a very serious-sounding discussion. God, these guys are a bunch of clowns, just look at them.


They stop at a scenic overlook, from which they can see a halo of light rising out of the ocean. Things are definitely pointing to some sort of psionic creatures living underwater, which I assume will figure into XCOM 3 whenever that game is released. Again, I haven't played enough Chimera Squad to know if they actually follow through on this line in that game, but I imagine we'll learn more when they finally announce the next major game in the series.

And finally, we are left with our stats for the campaign! I'll post these for anyone who is curious about them, but the only thing I really have to say here is that I'm pretty sure a lot of PC players cheat at XCOM 2. That was even more obvious in Enemy Unknown, where you'd see people earning 10x more money than you over the course of the campaign. Anyway, have a look and see how we did!











And with that, our campaign draws to a close. Thank you to everyone who was a part of our team! Whether you killed a hundred aliens or were gunned down on your very first mission, you were the very best of eggs and I couldn't have made this omelette without you. This will be my last LP on this incarnation of Talking Time and it has been the longest to complete by far, but XCOM 2 is my favorite game and I'm glad I got to take you all on this whirlwind tour of it with me. Don't forget that you can still download Tyrant Squad from the link in the first post of this thread - if you ever feel like trying your hand at this game, I know just the people to get you through your campaign! Or to die horribly by the end of the first month. That's XCOM, baby!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Torzelbaum;2657251 said:
Fellow members of Tyrant Squad, it has been an honor to kill fascist aliens with you.

[On the mimic beacon's final heroic sacrifice]
*joins in the salute* He (?) was the bravest hero of all.
Mightyblue;2657252 said:
IIRC it's somewhat implied that
the Commander is the PC of the third-person shooter prequel(? it's dubiously 'canon' to the main XCOM series), who ends that game being psychically fused with a rogue Ethereal.

Make of that what you will, but plot's never really been the driving point for these games.
Gerad;2657288 said:
It was a pleasure to serve, sir!
Violentvixen;2657289 said:
This was so fun and I'm glad I got to be a part of it. Thank you!
Olli T;2657649 said:
Awesome stuff! It was really fun following along. I feel like I got much more out of this game than I would have from trying to play it myself (I didn't do too well even in XCOM 1)
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
Thank you for running this Mike! I love me some XCOM and the post credit clips leaves me hopeful we'll someday see a new Terror from the Deep!
 
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