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  #61  
Old 02-04-2019, 06:17 PM
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Mogri Mogri is offline
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Originally Posted by MCBanjoMike View Post

Lastly, we get...this guy. Well, we needed an engineer I guess. I stick him on the Resistance Ring construction project that I started a few days back. The Ring is a really great tool for getting stuff you need in the early game, so it's always the first building I make. We'll be using it to run some covert ops soon, but for now it's time for another break. See you next mission!
I'm helping!

if not in the manner I anticipated
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  #62  
Old 02-05-2019, 11:48 AM
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MCBanjoMike MCBanjoMike is offline
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Mission 3: Get Lost

XCOM is split between two gameplay modes: tactical, turn-based missions and the strategic layer, where you accrue resources, pursue research and build structures in the Avenger. So far we've mostly been looking at the former, since that's the place where you get all the sweet images of your characters throwing grenades and dying. But things haven't been completely silent on the Avenger front:


We built a Resistance Ring! This structure lets us send characters away to run covert ops, and it's just absurdly useful. Rewards from the missions vary from resources and items to new characters to information on the Chosen to (my personal favorite) extra AP, which lets you transform your soldiers into Tiny Gods worthy of a Final Fantasy game. The price you pay is to be without a couple of your soldiers for a few days, but in the early game that's win-win; none of your troops are worth a damn, so you won't miss them, and sending them on missions gives them experience, which makes them worth a damn. It can also give them permanent upgrades, such as the +1 to movement that you see here. Loathe as I am to part with Kirin for another 9 days (actually it'll be 6 once I set Adam to work in the Ring), this is too good of an opportunity to pass up; permanent movement bonuses are incredibly useful on melee characters. This particular mission also requires a second soldier to undertake, so I pick some random dude to accompany our Templar. Once the mission is complete, we'll have made contact with the Reapers and our reward will be a Reaper of our very own!


While those two are out spying it up, we get our next mission. You always get a Lost mission like this early in the game and it's a total jackpot when it comes up. The Lost are extremely easy to deal with compared to ADVENT, plus we stand to gain a scientist, some intel and even a free ranger if we play our cards right. And play them right we shall!


Lotta familiar faces on our team today, but we do have one new guy. Hope he lives through his first outing! XCOM starts you off with about a dozen rookies, but not all of them are drawn from the character pool. At this point, you've seen almost all of our custom characters - the rest are randomly-generated and of little interest. The one exception to this is Mogri, who I'm saving for later so that we can make her dreams of becoming a sharpshooter reality. Joan here didn't seem too picky about what class he played, so I'll let the game randomly assign him one (if he survives the zombie horde, that is).


As our most expendable soldier, Sensenic is of course taking point. Unlike poor Smashmouth, however, his chances of making it out of this mission alive are pretty good. The Lost are complete pushovers once you get to know them, and there aren't any ADVENT on this mission to mess things up for us. The Lost come in large numbers, but any time you kill one (using your gun), you get an action point back. That means you can potentially kill as many Lost as you have bullets in your gun for the price of a single action, so long as you never miss. Joan here takes care of his first zombie with ease, then runs up just a little too far, revealing a bunch more.


I don't want to leave Sensenic out to dry, so I use Aquadeo's teamwork ability to give Vixen a boost, sending her up to help out. We can only do this once per mission between the two of them, but I'm not worried enough about this mission to hold on to it (and Joan is a little too far up for his own good).


VV posts up at the front line and helps Joan out of his jam. Now that she's a Ranger, she has access to shotguns, along with plain old assault rifles. I used to equip all my rangers with assault rifles because I was a coward, but I'm gradually learning to embrace close-range combat. It puts them in more danger, but the damage potential of the shotgun up close is much higher. And anyway, the Lost don't exactly spend a lot of time hiding behind cover.


Here's what we came for: our VIP scientist. Once we get within range, she comes under our control; now our job is to get her back the evac zone in one piece. Lying on the ground next to her is our bonus objective, a wounded ranger. They won't make it back to the ship on their own, though, Sensenic will have to carry them. That's going to cost us one quarter of our firepower, though, since you can't shoot while carrying another character. Eh, it'll be fine.


This, for example, might look like a pretty bad situation, but I swear we're OK. Vixen can very easily take out the two Lost between her and the dropship with shots that are 100% to hit or just about. The shotgun does enough damage that a hit guarantees a kill, which means she can take out as many of these guys as she wants before retreating. That said, the game started spawning a ton of zombies once we tagged the VIP, so we aren't going to linger forever. Speedrunners will apparently farm Lost to gain a ton of XP early in the campaign, but that sounds equal parts game-breaking and boring to me.


While Joan was running around collecting VIPs, Aquadeo and Spoony have been hanging back to keep the escape route clear. They keep the Lost off the VIP and Sensenic as they run back through this building toward the dropship. Note that grenadiers are actually really badly suited to Lost missions, because explosions create noise that draws hordes of zombies to them. That means you mostly can't use grenades to clear out Lost, because you'll just generate a bunch more each time you do so. Sometimes you can use this to your advantage to create a horde near some ADVENT troops, but for the most part it's just irritating and counterproductive.


Once everyone's back safely in the evac zone, however, there's no reason NOT to blow up a bunch of zombies! Hey, it's free XP.

I had a couple of pictures showing the evacuation and the results screen post-mission, but they seem to have disappeared from Imgur. Suffice to say that everyone except for Aquadeo got a promotion: Sensenic became our 2nd grenadier, Spoony got the essential shredder ability and I gave Vixen blade master (extra damage from sword attacks). Lookin' good, Tyrant Squad!
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  #63  
Old 02-05-2019, 07:41 PM
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Looking good, indeed!

I think the last time I was on your team, I died almost instantly, so this is already a win in my book.
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  #64  
Old 02-05-2019, 07:57 PM
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Oh man!

I threw grenades at things unnecessarily, GOT A SWORD, have a bro AND shotgunned multiple badguys in the face?!

Best day ever.
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  #65  
Old 02-05-2019, 08:38 PM
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Oh man!

I threw grenades at things unnecessarily, GOT A SWORD, have a bro AND shotgunned multiple badguys in the face?!

Best day ever.
In XCOM, any day where you're still breathing is a pretty good day.
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  #66  
Old 02-06-2019, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Torzelbaum View Post
In XCOM, any day where you're still breathing is a pretty good day.
Indeed! *phew!*

Don't ever make me take point ever again >_<
You know, I get it, I was the new guy, everyone has to go through it... but now let me just shoot grenades and explode things from a safe cover, eh?

(On second thought I should've gone with being a defenseless VIP who has to be either rescued or hunted and is rather defenseless, like Adam. I failed to notice that option, though. Oh well, maybe next time)
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  #67  
Old 02-06-2019, 06:18 AM
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MCBanjoMike MCBanjoMike is offline
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Originally Posted by Aquadeo View Post
I think the last time I was on your team, I died almost instantly, so this is already a win in my book.
Pretty much every character in my old pool has died several times, myself included. Actually, the most dramatic thing that happened to you was on the Avenger defense mission, where you got left behind when a Priest put you into stasis as everyone else was retreating. We actually wound up rescuing you several months later, much to my surprise! Of course, by then you were way behind on the experience curve, so you mostly just sat around at the bar in the Avenger.

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Originally Posted by Sensenic View Post
(On second thought I should've gone with being a defenseless VIP who has to be either rescued or hunted and is rather defenseless, like Adam. I failed to notice that option, though. Oh well, maybe next time)
I'll turn the VIP option on for your character as well, so in the future he could be either a soldier or a VIP. Although given your backstory...maybe an enemy VIP would be more appropriate?
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  #68  
Old 02-06-2019, 07:56 AM
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I'll turn the VIP option on for your character as well, so in the future he could be either a soldier or a VIP. Although given your backstory...maybe an enemy VIP would be more appropriate?
If possible,


(Both VIP options I mean)
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  #69  
Old 02-06-2019, 08:14 AM
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This particular mission also requires a second soldier to undertake, so I pick some random dude to accompany our Templar.
Hmm, that random dude looks like a CQC expert to me.
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  #70  
Old 02-07-2019, 09:57 AM
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Just caught up on this. Who knew I could be such a badass? Even if I got pretty torn up doing it. Guess I really was pretty ticked at ADVENT messing up my piracy career. Anyway, hope my espionage mission went well.

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I like how the screenshot lists Kirin as "ravely wounded".
That's taking "four on the floor" too literally.
Noticed that too, and decided it was plenty appropriate given my outfit.
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  #71  
Old 02-07-2019, 06:37 PM
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Mission 4: I Choose You!


Welcome back to XCOM 2! Every time you load up the game, it generates a title screen showing one of the troops from your most recent save about to start something off. Here's Vixen and a group of hapless Lost - poor guys don't stand a chance.


Let's start by taking stock of our list of soldiers. Gerad is going to be out for a while, but everyone else is in fighting form (except for Kirin, who is busy being a spy). A few of them are tired, however. War of the Chosen introduced this mechanic as a way of forcing you to vary up your squad more than you might naturally want to. You can still send tired soldiers on missions, but if you do there's a chance that they'll become shaken. Shaken soldiers aren't injured, but they can't go back into the field until they recover some will. There are different ways of speeding up recovery from physical injuries and mental strain.


After finishing one of our research projects, Tygan proposes that we pursue this research breakthrough. These give you small-but-significant permanent bonuses to your existing equipment or facilities, but there's a catch - you have to do them right away or not at all. Being able to swap weapon attachments is great, so we put everything on hold to research it. Breakthroughs always take 5 days to research no matter how many scientists you have on staff.


Here's our current situation in the strategic layer. We started in South Africa, but our goal is to expand our territory to cover the entire map. You do this by spending intel (and a few days) making contact with the other regions. As the regions get farther away, the intel cost goes up, but you can eventually counteract that by building radio relay towers on the map. Adding regions is essential because you can't run a mission that isn't in your territory. It also increases our monthly supply drop income, which is also pretty important. If I have one big complaint about vanilla XCOM 2, it's that expanding your resistance network takes a ton of time and you can find yourself in a desperate situation because you didn't connect to North America 15 hours ago. WotC improves things a bit on this front, as we'll see later.


Kirin returns from his trip to Mexico a little wiser, a little faster. Joe becomes our second sniper. We also get a Reaper in the deal! Reapers are great, we'll meet ours soon.


You almost always want to be running a covert op, but that doesn't mean you're always in a position where you can. For example, right now I'd be happy to make contact with the Skirmishers (and get another hero unit in the process), but that mission requires a sergeant to undertake. Note that most covert ops also come with risks attached. Soldier wounded is the least worrisome of the batch, so we send these guys out and cross our fingers. I figured Sensenic would want to tag along to get that extra point of health, since he's so preoccupied with self-preservation. I partner him up with some guy and send them on their way.


Here's a shot of the inside of the Avenger. We have 12 empty spaces that we can build in, but 11 of them need to be cleared out first. That's not all bad, since clearing a space nets you supplies and sometimes other resources, but it requires time and at least one engineer. We picked up a 2nd engineer from scanning on the world map, so I set him to work here. We're going to want to build a Guerilla Tactics School sooner rather than later.


Guess what time it is! The ADVENT have gotten fed up with our little operation and are trying to take down a group of our supporters. We could leave our allies to their fate, but that would instantly cost us the region where the attack is taking place. And since we haven't connected to any other regions yet, we'd basically be throwing the game. So clearly that's not going to happen!


When the aliens come for retaliation, you send your A team. There's a time for training up new squaddies, but this ain't it. I mean, Joe here is still a squaddie, but that's because we only have three corporals for now.


We land on the ground and start to scout. Things obviously aren't going so well for the people of this resistance camp, as you can tell by all the fire. We don't get stealth on this mission, so I move everyone up cautiously until we come across a soldier and a priest. Isn't there a joke that starts like that?


But just as we begin to engage those two, who should show up? Why, it's our very first Chosen! The Chosen are three super enemies in the WotC expansion who cause you grief throughout the campaign. Sometimes they show up during missions to complicate your life, sometimes they sabotage your campaign or break something on the Avenger. They all have strengths and weaknesses, which are conveniently listed for you each time they drop in. The Hunter here is weak to Templars and melee attacks, which is going to be very bad for him. The fact that I pulled the Hunter as my first Chosen is very good for me, because he is by far the most chumpy of the three. He's still a pain in the ass, but his brother and sister are significantly more dangerous.


For now, though, he's way at the other side of the map and we still have to deal with the first pod of enemies we activated. Retaliation missions go like this: there are 13 civilians on the map, and you have to save at least 6 of them (by running into their blue circle) in order to win. If you save more, you are rewarded with an increase in the monthly supplies that the regions sends you. That's nice, but it's much more important to succeed the mission than it is to save everyone you can. Take your time, at least a little, because these missions tend to have more dangerous enemies in them and often a Chosen will show up too.

Anyway, time to fight. I wasn't able to get Kirin into position to slash the soldier, but he did hit him with his autopistol. Templar pistols don't do a lot of damage, so you mostly only use them when you can't get close enough for a melee attack. Note that the priest spent his first turn putting Spoony into stasis, which takes him out of the fight for one turn; he can't do any damage, but he can't take any damage either. It's still annoying.


Joe tosses out his grenade to finish the soldier off. Sniper's usually aren't within grenade range of the enemies, so I figured why not.


Kirin runs up to slash the priest...


...then runs back to tag one of the civilians. Tagged civilians immediately run off the map toward the dropship, so they are safe as soon as you grab 'em. The reason Kirin could make this move is that Templars have a special ability: after slashing, they can either move once or parry. Well, he could parry, but I don't have that ability unlocked for him yet. Anyway, even being able to move after meleeing is great, because it lets you be very aggressive with Templars. Rangers don't get the same luxury, they need a high-level upgrade before they can do anything similar.


On the priest's turn, he retreats a bit and guns down one of the civilians. Bad luck for that guy, but good for me.


The Hunter has an ability to mark one of your characters for a sniper shot. Presumably, if you leave them in place, they'll get hit pretty hard. This has never happened to me, because it's usually really easy to just move them out of the danger zone, at which point he just wasted his turn. The Hunter is a chump.


Kirin runs up and finishes off the priest, activating a few more enemies in the process. For the most part, enemy pods don't do much until you enter their line of sight. Managing your squad's movement is super important in XCOM, because taking one step too many can mean the difference between having 2 enemies shooting at you or 5.


Here's our first look at the Hunter - he's tall and he has a lot of HP. The sectoid on the bridge used his power to revive the priest as a zombie. That's way better than mind-controlling one of my squad members, which is what they usually try to do.


The hunter finally does something a little bit useful, tossing in a special stun grenade that all the Chosen carry with them. It stuns Kirin and Aquadeo, making them unusable and leaving them vulnerable to abduction. If the Chosen takes one of your soldiers, you lose them until you mount a rescue operation. Not only that, but the Chosen gains knowledge (AKA experience), which makes it stronger. The Chosen learn new skills when their knowledge level reaches specific thresholds.


The good news is that it's not too hard to help your stunned units recover. If you can get another soldier next to them, snapping them out of their daze is a free action. I run Spoony up to wake Aqua, then Aqua wakes Kirin. That way, they each have an action left to shoot at the Hunter, who is very close to the squad now.


Spoony grenades the Hunter and Joe takes a shot at him from the roof (which is where all good snipers spend their days).


Despite having recovered from the stun grenade, Kirin is still disoriented, which you can see by the stars swirling around his head. That's a lucky break for the Chosen, because it means he can't use his melee attack for a few turns. He fires his pistol instead, doing 6 damage because of the Hunter's weakness to anything Templar.


Instead of attacking us, the zombie that the sectoid raised starts shambling for the back lines. Presumably, this is to go kill some civilians, but it's a huge waste of time. Once I kill the sectoid, the zombie will drop and it's very unlikely that he'll make it far enough to hurt anyone before that happens.


The Hunter shoots Spoony with a regular shot, so I have Aquadeo patch him up. Now that he's a Corporal, he can do that from far away - it's super good.


The Hunter has a grappling hook, which he uses to zip up to this treehouse thingy. Kirin is still dazed, which means I can't sword that sectoid to death. Instead, we keep picking away at the Hunter with the autopistol.


Spoony, meanwhile, takes care of the sectoid for us.


Kirin's out in the open with a very mobile Hunter, so I use Aquadeo's Aid Protocol ability to give him some cover.


Good thing, too! That shot probably would have connected otherwise. Or maybe not, the Hunter is a total chump.


Finally freed from his daze, Kirin shows the Hunter what he has to look forward to on future missions. Between his double weaknesses, he takes 10 damage from this hit, which is almost twice our best hit to date. The Hunter runs away, but we'll be seeing him again, don't you worry...


Aqua totally nails this shot, killing the soldier on the far bridge.


Killing the last ADVENT triggers this scene of a civilian morphing into a giant clay man-monster thing. This is a faceless; they hide among the civilians and pop out when you try to rescue them (or when there aren't any other enemies left on the map).


Faceless only have melee attacks. By itself, way across the map from our squad? Well...


It doesn't stand much of a chance.


For killing the Hunter, we get 5 AP that we can spend on extra abilities for our soldiers...once we build the required room in the Avenger. 5 AP is about one third of a useful ability or 20% of a top-tier one. Doesn't sound like much, but every bit helps.


Spoony's going to need some rest, but everyone else is in fine shape. Aquadeo is now a sergeant, which is very exciting. I give him the upgrade that lets him remove status ailments from a distance, which would have been handy to have on this mission.


Sensenic comes back from his covert op with an extra HP, and his friend has earned a spot as a ranger. Say, I recognize that guy...


And it's time for our monthly report! Baldie here is all smiles and sunshine, since we didn't mess up any missions this month. We get 167 supplies from our various resistance regions, but unlike in Enemy Unkown, they don't just arrive in our chequing account. They pop up on the map as something we need to scan, albeit only for 3 days instead of the usual 7 or so.


Every month, we get a sneak peek of what ADVENT has in store for us. When we get our next guerrilla op, we'll have the chance to cancel one of these dark projects; any others will succeed. Later in the game there will be a third one that you can't see unless you pay some intel, but for now the difficulty curve is still ramping up.


We also get to set resistance orders, which are very powerful buffs that we can apply depending on how much we've ingratiated ourselves with each of the factions. Nobody likes us enough to give us a slot yet, but we do have one that comes from the Resistance Ring building. I have four orders available for now, but you earn more throughout the game as you build relations with the factions and you can unlock more through covert ops. I pick the one that gives us a movement bonus while we're stealthed; not one of my favorites, but the best I have available for now.


I send a couple more nobodies out on a milk run, but soon we'll get into some more interesting stuff in the Ring.


Finally, here's a shot of the Avenger in its current state. I started building the (essential) Guerrilla Tactics School in our empty space and I set one of the engis to clear out the room directly below. It would be much faster to clear out a room on one of the upper floors, but this one is much more tempting to me because of the power conduit. We're going to need more power to run all the rooms in the Avenger and building a power relay in this room will give us a nice big bonus. I'm pretty lucky to have started so close to one, normally it would take at least one or two more excavations to uncover.

Well, that's it for today! See you all next mission.
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  #72  
Old 02-08-2019, 07:28 AM
Ted Ted is offline
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Sensenic comes back from his covert op with an extra HP, and his friend has earned a spot as a ranger. Say, I recognize that guy...
Yup. Aliens arrive, so Adam Jensen unlocks his augmented beard.

Checks out to me.
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  #73  
Old 02-08-2019, 07:50 AM
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XCOM was a more "video game" adaptation of X-Com. XCOM 2 nudged up the "video game" just a bit. War of the Chosen is extremely "video game."

X-Com tried to be a simulation. Among other things, this meant that you could manufacture weapons to sell on the black market at an enormous profit; you could also take your enemies' guns, research them, and use them right away instead of advancing through the weapon upgrade tech tree.

Then along came XCOM, which threw out a lot of the simulation in favor of having a more tightly strategic/tactical experience. A single base, an extremely trimmed-back geoscape, soldiers with classes who can only equip certain weapons, equipment upgrades magically affect every soldier, and so on, but it stuck to its roots in an abstract sort of way. XCOM 2 went a little further in the same direction (equipping a different kind of ammo takes a grenade slot? loot just disappears after three rounds??), but it still hews pretty closely to the XCOM ethos.

And then there's War of the Chosen:
  • Tygan: We've made a breakthrough! We need to study this right now or else we'll forget about it due to reasons.
  • Bradford: Sorry, Commander, but we're already running a covert operation. We can't run two covert operations at the same time.
  • Factions magically grant your soldiers powers, but only one or two at a time, and you can swap them around.
  • The Hunter takes more damage from a Templar's pistol because...?
  • Ability points. Soldiers gaining ability points makes some sense, but then you've got the XCOM AP, which really doesn't.
  • Zombies, though? I mean, the series has always had "zombies" of some sort, ever since chryssalids first showed up, but now we have actual zombie swarms for some reason.

I could go on all day. None of this makes WotC bad! I don't mean to suggest that in the least. It's just an extremely video game approach to the franchise in a way that it never has been before. It's in the service of making a game that's more interesting to play, so as long as you don't think about it too hard, it's all good.
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  #74  
Old 02-08-2019, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by MCBanjoMike View Post
If I have one big complaint about vanilla XCOM 2, it's that expanding your resistance network takes a ton of time and you can find yourself in a desperate situation because you didn't connect to North America 15 hours ago. WotC improves things a bit on this front, as we'll see later.
Oh.

I think I may need this Expansion, because the few times I've tried XCOM2 campaigns that's certainly happened to me...
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  #75  
Old 02-08-2019, 11:41 AM
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Yeah, War of the Chosen is definitely XCOM: Superheroes. The Chosen are basically supervillains and once you've fully upgraded your soldiers they're practically unstoppable. Personally, I think it's the best gameplay the series has ever had (not that I have a lot of experience with the 90s PC games), but realism is out the window and on a bullet train to another time zone.

Mission 5: Tunnels Redux


So far our squad is looking good, but I think it's time to get a few more of our custom characters in on the action. I swing by the Avenger's recruiting office to see the list of available rookies. There are six from the character pool available for purchase, but since I have limited funds, I only grab two of them for now. I used a random number generator to pick Torzel Baum and Ted Teodoro out of the virtual hat. And you know it was really random because there's no way I would leave Big Sexy on the bench by choice.


Time to spread the good word about the Resistance! It'll cost 40 Intel to hook up East Africa's cable; that's as cheap as it gets, because they're right next to our starting region. Every step farther increases the cost by 40, and since we don't have any particular destination right now we're going to start with the closest/most affordable regions. As with all things in XCOM 2, you have to scan for about a week to finish the process. Moving the Avenger around the map to scan stuff is my least favorite part of the game, because you're constantly being interrupted by missions that force you to relocate. It really feels like busywork.


Our nobodies return from their covert op with some cash to pay for those rookies. They both get promoted to specialists, which I guess is fine.


Completing an autopsy on an ADVENT commander opens up a story mission for us! We will not be doing it for a very long time, because completing it introduces an extremely annoying enemy type into the game. But anyway, the goal is to build something called a skulljack, which lets you melee kill an opponent by jabbing an ethernet cable into their brain. Once you done that, you can hack the ADVENT network. It's required two times in the campaign and I almost never do it more than that, although there are some goodies to be had for the daring hacker.


It's time for another guerrilla op! Remember those two dark events we saw last time? Succeeding in this mission will prevent one of them from occurring. Normally we'd have the choice of at least two missions, since there are two dark events underway, but for now there's only one - we probably need to expand our resistance network some more. Thankfully, it's the mission that I would have chosen anyway. Despite the laughable incompetence of the Chosen Hunter, I don't want him and I especially don't want his family members dropping in on our missions on a regular basis. The Warlock in particular can really ruin a commander's day if you aren't prepared for him.


Here's our squad for the mission. A lot of familiar faces, but we're also going to take Nightwalker () our for a test drive. We're getting to the point where a four-person squad is starting to feel a little too small, but until we finish building the GTS there's nothing we can do about it.


Reapers are really good at one thing, and that thing is stealth. Stealth is hugely important in this game, which means Reapers are probably the most useful of the three faction classes. Reapers always start cloaked, whether the mission calls for it or not, and can get closer to enemies without being seen. They have a suite of abilities that are well-suited to staying hidden, unlike Rangers, who tend to give up their stealth once they go loud. To start with, we have the Claymore mine. It takes one move to place and a second to detonate, but doing so doesn't reveal the Reaper. You can also have someone else detonate the mine, in case the Reaper doesn't have any actions left (or has a car to blow up). One of my personal favorite tricks to pull is to drop a claymore near a group of enemies and then blow it up with a long-range grenade from a grenadier. Double the explosions, double the fun!


Our first pod doesn't warrant anything that excessive, so we set Vixen and Gerad on overwatch and have Joan lob a grenade in to wake everybody up. Nightwalker (snrk) doesn't get revealed when the rest of the squad, so no overwatch shot for her. Uh, him? I didn't actually get a look under that face mask and I only have a last name to go by. I'll assume she's a she for now, since the canonical Reaper is a lady. Anyway, characters who don't get revealed don't shoot; that's a really important thing to consider when upgrading your squad. It's great to stay hidden, but most of the time you'll want your soldiers to participate in your ambushes instead of staying quiet.


The ambush starts off with a bang...


...and ends with a second bang. Good job, guys! Our first pod is taken care of, but you can actually see our next group hanging out in the distance. It's a basic soldier and another priest.


I must have moved one of my other soldiers a little too close to this group, because the bad guys notice us and take cover. Whenever a group of enemies sees you, they get a free move to (usually) go find cover or (occasionally) put themselves on overwatch. Ambushes are fun because your squad opens fire on the enemies while they're out in the open, so if you play your cards right you can clear a whole group before they get a chance to act. That's the basic loop of XCOM, at least when things are going well: spot a group and eliminate it before anyone has a chance to shoot at you. Great fun when it works out.


I don't have a good shot on anybody, so VV runs up and puts the trooper to the sword. I wanted to take some damage off the board before ending my turn and while priests are more annoying, they're also less likely to just up and shoot you. Plus they have enough health that a sword slash wouldn't be a kill, and Vixen doesn't have the luxury of retreating to cover after her melee attack.


The priest retreats and I move my soldiers up, which activates another pod of enemies: a sectoid and a stun lancer. Stun lancers have a melee attack that hits really hard, it could kill one of our soldiers on a crit. Rather than taking a chance, I have Sensenic drop a grenade on him, which does some damage and destroys his cover. Note that the lancer is very close to our mission objective, so I have to be careful. If I blow up the computer that we're supposed to hack, we fail the mission. Don't ask me how I know this.


I don't want to reveal my Reaper, but I can't leave that lancer alive, so Nightwalker takes the shot. She gets the kill, thankfully. After every shot, the Reaper has a chance of being revealed (as opposed to regular soldiers who are always revealed when they attack), which gets higher the more shots she takes. This golf swing animation plays out and thankfully we remain in shadow. There's an extremely useful ability that the reaper can get which makes it so that kill shots don't ever reveal them, but we don't have it yet.


I don't even remember what the sectoid did on its turn, because VV ended it immediately after. That combination of boosted sword damage, the sectoid's melee weakness and a critical hit means Vixen takes the title of hardest hitter from Kirin!


Understandably perturbed by what he just saw, the priest opts to put VV into stasis. Also note that the lancer left behind some loot for us to collect. I think it was a low-level gun upgrade, the kind that I can now swap freely between weapons because of the research breakthrough we made last time.


Everyone else needs to move up this round, so the priest is left standing. He takes a shot at Vixen on his turn, but thankfully he misses.


VV, however, does not.


By this point, we're running out of time to actually hack the terminal and complete the mission. I run Nightwalker up to do the job, despite her being extremely unsuited to hacking. It doesn't matter, because you can't fail a hack on a mission objective. Hacking or planting explosives reveals hidden characters, but there aren't any enemies left so who cares.


Mission complete: FLAWLESS. No injuries and three promotions for our brave squad! Sensenic chooses to take the padded armor over the infinitely more useful shredder ability, because he is looking out for number one. VV gets the ability to not trigger overwatch fire, which is very useful to have on your melee characters. I forget what we gave Gerad; normally I like the ability that allows squadsight to trigger overwatch shots, but he's so angry that I may have given him the pistol ability instead. We'll find out another time.


We've canceled the apocalypse dark event and we got a free scientist to boot! Scientists speed up research, which is always welcome. I'm trying to develop the next tier of weapons for the squad and it's a very long undertaking.


Here's some of the crew chilling at the bar between missions. On the wall next to them is our memorial, with one lonely photograph. Rest in power, Smashmouth.
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  #76  
Old 02-08-2019, 11:44 AM
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Gerad Gerad is offline
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Yes! Healed up and promoted all in one shot! Everything's coming up Cissoko!
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  #77  
Old 02-08-2019, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by MCBanjoMike View Post
There's an extremely useful ability that the reaper can get which makes it so that kill shots don't ever reveal them, but we don't have it yet.
FYI, this isn't exactly true -- it just makes it so that kill shots don't increase the detection chance. If it was at 0, then they're guaranteed to stay hidden, but if they had previously increased it, then it'll still roll at the existing chance.

(Maybe you already know this, but it wasn't obvious to me.)
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  #78  
Old 02-08-2019, 12:11 PM
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MCBanjoMike MCBanjoMike is offline
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FYI, this isn't exactly true -- it just makes it so that kill shots don't increase the detection chance. If it was at 0, then they're guaranteed to stay hidden, but if they had previously increased it, then it'll still roll at the existing chance.

(Maybe you already know this, but it wasn't obvious to me.)
I mean, I didn't want to get too into the weeds, but you're right. Thing is, normally your base chance to be revealed is 50%, but getting this ability caps you at 0 so long as you kill with every shot. So the skill is actually better than its description, but in a kind of confusing way. If you don't kill with your shot, then you immediately jump to 50% and starts getting worse with each shot that doesn't kill. Thankfully, you get one free re-concealment per mission and doing that puts you back at 0%.

In practice, I rarely take shots with a reaper that aren't a guaranteed kill, so they typically stay concealed for the whole mission. I'd almost always rather have my scout stay hidden than get that one extra bit of damage (especially since Reaper rifles do pretty low damage in general).
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  #79  
Old 02-08-2019, 01:30 PM
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These updates would be a lot more interesting if I was in them...
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  #80  
Old 02-08-2019, 01:51 PM
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Enjoyed my vendetta with that Hunter dude. But honestly probably enjoying hanging out at the pub more.
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  #81  
Old 02-08-2019, 02:06 PM
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Mission complete: FLAWLESS. No injuries and three promotions for our brave squad! Sensenic chooses to take the padded armor over the infinitely more useful shredder ability, because he is looking out for number one.
Ayup!

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Here's some of the crew chilling at the bar between missions. On the wall next to them is our memorial, with one lonely photograph. Rest in power, Smashmouth.
Is that a poster of VV behind... well, VV? Celebrating her top damage I assume?
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  #82  
Old 02-08-2019, 02:14 PM
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MCBanjoMike MCBanjoMike is offline
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These updates would be a lot more interesting if I was in them...
Then maybe you shouldn't have lost the coin toss, eh smart guy?

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Enjoyed my vendetta with that Hunter dude. But honestly probably enjoying hanging out at the pub more.
Oh don't worry, your vendetta is far from over. Permanently killing a Chosen is quite an undertaking.

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Is that a poster of VV behind... well, VV? Celebrating her top damage I assume?
Ha ha, it totally is. The game takes pictures of your characters at various moments and they show up plastered on the backgrounds, either was ADVENT wanted posters or as inspiration for the resistance camps. I should really take more photos after missions, they can be pretty funny.
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  #83  
Old 02-08-2019, 04:36 PM
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Torzelbaum Torzelbaum is offline
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XCOM was a more "video game" adaptation of X-Com. XCOM 2 nudged up the "video game" just a bit. War of the Chosen is extremely "video game."

X-Com tried to be a simulation. Among other things, this meant that you could manufacture weapons to sell on the black market at an enormous profit; you could also take your enemies' guns, research them, and use them right away instead of advancing through the weapon upgrade tech tree.

Then along came XCOM, which threw out a lot of the simulation in favor of having a more tightly strategic/tactical experience. A single base, an extremely trimmed-back geoscape, soldiers with classes who can only equip certain weapons, equipment upgrades magically affect every soldier, and so on, but it stuck to its roots in an abstract sort of way. XCOM 2 went a little further in the same direction (equipping a different kind of ammo takes a grenade slot? loot just disappears after three rounds??), but it still hews pretty closely to the XCOM ethos.

And then there's War of the Chosen:
  • Tygan: We've made a breakthrough! We need to study this right now or else we'll forget about it due to reasons.
  • Bradford: Sorry, Commander, but we're already running a covert operation. We can't run two covert operations at the same time.
  • Factions magically grant your soldiers powers, but only one or two at a time, and you can swap them around.
  • The Hunter takes more damage from a Templar's pistol because...?
  • Ability points. Soldiers gaining ability points makes some sense, but then you've got the XCOM AP, which really doesn't.
  • Zombies, though? I mean, the series has always had "zombies" of some sort, ever since chryssalids first showed up, but now we have actual zombie swarms for some reason.

I could go on all day. None of this makes WotC bad! I don't mean to suggest that in the least. It's just an extremely video game approach to the franchise in a way that it never has been before. It's in the service of making a game that's more interesting to play, so as long as you don't think about it too hard, it's all good.
It almost seems to me like you ignored your own advice here.
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  #84  
Old 02-08-2019, 08:21 PM
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VV, however, does not.
Well done, me.

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VV gets the ability to not trigger overwatch fire, which is very useful to have on your melee characters.
That sounds like a hell of an ability.

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Is that a poster of VV behind... well, VV? Celebrating her top damage I assume?
Pfffft. That's great.
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  #85  
Old 02-11-2019, 01:14 PM
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MCBanjoMike MCBanjoMike is offline
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Mission 6: The Great Train-Adjacent Robbery


Happy Hour at the bar is interrupted by the news that ADVENT is undertaking the sinister Avatar project. If completed, it could spell doom for humanity. Note that this would still be preferable to watching M Night Shyamalan's live-action Avatar remake.

The Avatar project is basically the game's time limit. From now on, whenever we're on the world map we will see a series of red boxes at the top of the screen. They fill up as ADVENT makes breakthroughs on the project or builds facilities dedicated to pursuing it. When the bar fills up, it's game over for us.


Thankfully, there are ways to set the Avatar back: by completing specific missions, you can take a couple of blocks of progress off the meter. The first such mission is the ADVENT Blacksite, which always shows up somewhere near your starting region. Missions like these are the biggest reason why you need to expand your resistance network - if you can't get to the mission, you can't complete it.


The good news is that we just made contact with East Africa, where the Blacksite is located. We probably won't actually do the mission for a while though, as we have plenty of time left on the clock. If the Avatar meter ever fills up, a big scary countdown starts on the world map. You'll have a fixed amount of time to do something to set the project back before your campaign is forfeit. It can actually be good to leave a critical mission on standby until this happens so that you can bail yourself out as necessary.


Remember back when Aquadeo was promoted to sergeant? Remember how excited I was? This is why: having a sergeant on the team allows you to unlock Squad Size I at the GTS for a pittance, which lets us to bring a fifth team member on our missions! One of the most useful upgrades in the game, IMO. Speaking of which...


As much as I'd like to keep Aquadeo around for missions, he is our highest ranking soldier and I need him to become a Captain ASAP. Why? Because then we'll be able to buy Squad Size II, allowing us to field a full team of 6 soldiers. Not only is that good for tough missions, but it makes it easier to train up rookies and squaddies, of which we have plenty. My trick for fast-tracking a soldier up to captain rank is to abuse the Resistance Ring; some of the covert ops will reward your soldiers with instant promotions! And we need to make contact with the Skirmishers eventually, so there's no reason to put it off. Aqua and Ted pack a lunch and head off to make some new friends.


While they are out, we get our next mission: it's a supply raid! Supply raids are among the lowest-stakes missions you can get, basically it's just a chance to pick up some nice equipment without putting much on the line. That isn't to say that you can just ignore them, though - skipping a mission like this will cost you the region that it is located in. Don't ask me how I know.


Here's our first five-man team! We still haven't manufactured any new equipment to speak of, but that will change soon.


We start the mission as always by scouting ahead with Nightwalker. Seriously, I don't know if I'm ever going to stop finding that name funny. Anyway, he spies two new enemy types hanging out by a train: a snake lady and a purifier (ie flamethrower guy).


We sneak our squad a little closer only to have the enemies walk toward us on their turn. Enemies will see you if they flank you or if they get really close, we're very lucky that they didn't take another step in our direction. As it is, we still get a chance to ambush them, but it has to be this turn. As you can see from the red icons, we're in the danger zone and we won't go unnoticed for another turn.


I set up an overwatch trap and send Kirin to soften up the viper (AKA snake lady). Vipers have the ability to dodge attacks, which greatly reduces the damage they take. There's no dodging a Templar strike, though, those hit 100% of the time.


Eric finishes off the snake and Gerad completely whiffs on the purifier. I'm starting to think he might be kind of a bad shot? The purifier retreats, so I send Nightwalker up to scout some more. We find our missing purifier, along with the second pod of enemies.


The second pod doesn't know we're here yet, so I could leave them alone, but that second purifier is too tempting to ignore. Gerad gets things together long enough to crit the purifier, which causes it to explode in a very satisfying fashion.


The stun lancer and soldier from the second pod set up camp conveniently within the blast radius of one of Spoony's grenades. That thing the poor soldier is standing next to is a forklift, and it goes up in flames when the grenade lands, killing him.


The stun lancer is still up and that makes me nervous. Kirin is too far to use his blades, so I have him toss a grenade in hopes that it will destroy his cover. Alas, it does not and the lancer lives to stab another day. Or at least, this day, which is the one I care about.


The whole point of supply raids is to tag a dozen crates of goodies scattered throughout the level so that XCOM can collect them. The enemies also tag crates, and once they do you have a turn or two to grab them for yourself before they are airlifted away like this one. In actual fact, it's really not a big deal to lose a bunch of crates on these missions. It's much better to take your time and play cleanly rather than rush in and get your soldiers wounded or killed just for a few trinkets. We let them have this one.


The stun lancer rushes Eric but thankfully misses him.


Meanwhile, the purifier tries to light up Kirin but misses that too. Purifiers have surprisingly bad aim and miss frequently with their flamethrowers. They also have incendiary grenades which are a pain, but they don't use them very often. Really, the biggest danger they pose is that they have about a 50% chance to explode on death, which makes melee kills a bad idea. At least until we learn Fortress...


Eric returns fire on the stun lancer from point-blank range and...well, we didn't hire him for his aim.


Nobody else has a good shot on that lancer, so I pull a desperation move and use my Reaper to take him out. His shot connects, but he's revealed in the process. Not the end of the world, since he has the ability to go into stealth once per mission, but not optimal.


Now we just have to deal with that original purifier, who is still dogging us from behind high cover. Spoony misses...


...as does Gerad. Again.


Kirin could easily get the kill with his blades, but again, explodey explodey. Instead, he pulls out the autopistol and finally puts this guy down.


Here we see two of the crates of goodies being fultoned away for future use by XCOM.


Our last pod has a sectoid, along with another purifier and stun lancer. Two of them post up inside a nearby building.


Nightwalker tosses in a claymore...


...and Spoony detonates it. Good damage, but I didn't kill either of them.


The sectoid tries to mind control Kirin and I am very lucky that it fails. Having your melee units get controlled only ever ends in tears. Kirin is disoriented, though, so he can't stab anyone for a while.


Kirin is pretty exposed, so Eric uses aid protocol on him, which turns out to be a worthwhile investment.


That doesn't stop the last purifier from lighting him on fire, though. Units that are on fire take a bit of damage each turn and can't use certain abilities. You can put the fire out by healing them with a medkit or else having them hunker down, although that means they don't get to attack that turn.


Rather than do either of those things, Kirin runs up to flank the purifier and shuts him down.


Spoony gets in a good shot on the lancer...


...and Eric follows up with the kill.


All that's left is a wounded sectoid, so I have Nightwalker take the shot. Doesn't matter if he's revealed when the mission is over!


The team returns home with a bunch of promotions and one injured Templar. Eric gets the ability to heal at a distance, Kirin picks up Parry and Nightwalker gets the most delightful ability of all: remote start.


But that's not all! New bud alert: Gerad and Spoony 4ever.


With the mission behind us, we finish making contact with West Africa. We've connected every region in the continent and can now start making advances into Europe, Asia and South America. Or we could, except that we've used up all 3 of our resistance contacts. We'll need to build a comm station before we can add any more regions to our network. This is where you get into trouble in vanilla XCOM 2: if a critical mission pops up in a faraway region of the map, you might need to build a comms station and then contact 2-3 regions before you can access it. That takes resources and, more importantly, time. If your Avatar clock is maxed out, you've got about two weeks to get your butt over to the mission site and that's not long enough to do more than make contact with one new region, two at best. If you aren't proactive in building your network, you can find yourself in an unwinnable situation down the line, which is frustrating because it doesn't feel like you're getting yourself into trouble. It's all a bit too mushy for my liking, which is why I'm happy they added ways to slow the Avatar project in the WotC expansion.


West Africa is under the control of the second of the Chosen, the Warlock. This dude is bad news and I'm not looking forward to running into him on missions.


Mogri finishes up her training and is now a very low level sniper! We'll have to find a softball mission for her first outing.


Meanwhile, Aqua and Ted come back from their covert op and they bring us a new Skirmisher friend. Skirmishers are probably the worst of the faction classes; they are extremely flexible, but they don't do a ton of damage and many of their best abilities have limited uses per mission. They have the ability to shoot on their first move without ending their turn, plus they have a cool grappling hook for zipping up to high places, but they don't have the same meat-and-potatoes usefulness of a Templar or Reaper. Turns out that "never misses" and "amazing at stealth" are pretty hard to beat.


Aquadeo is now a Lieutenant, only one rank away from Captain, and Ted gets promoted to be...another low-level sniper. Geez, game, you can stop it with the snipers already.


We get a notification on the map that ADVENT has built a facility to advance the Advent project. The timer goes up a tick or two and the facility appears on the map in the Pacific Northwest (ie, very far from where we are). If we can ever make our way over there, we can run a mission to destroy the facilty, which will remove exactly as many Avatar blocks as the facility has contributed. Guess these guys should invest in a better system of backups.


Meanwhile, the Hunter has finished his first project, lowering our monthly income permanently. Annoying, but not that big of a deal all told.


We get a new scanning site that opens up the Black Market for us. This is a shop where we can buy all sorts of useful stuff, from alien materials to weapon upgrades to personnel, in exchange for our precious intel. We can also sell them stuff, like dead alien bodies and equipment, but they only give us supplies in return. Always think hard before spending your intel, it's hard to get more.


Prices at the Black Market vary a little bit. This week, they're very interested in sectoid corpses, so I sell off a couple. I probably don't need them for anything, right?


It's the end of the month! We get another glowing review from Agent 47, a supply drop worth $247 and a preview of what the Chosen are up to. The Hunter is going to pump some iron, which will raise his experience level above the first threshold, gaining him a new ability. He'll still be a chump, albeit a muscly chump.


Here are our dark projects for the month. None of these is terrible for us, although the one where overwatch shots always miss would be a pain. We'll pick one to thwart next time the Guerrilla Ops come up. Note that I had to spend some intel in order to see what the third project was - sometimes the projects are very bad, so I try to always know what's coming.


And now for resistance orders! I slot in a new one that speeds up digging, because I want to finish shielding our first power node and start working on a second.


We've finished researching magnetic weapons! Here's Lily Shen, our chief engineer, showing us what we have to look forward to. This second tier of gun gives us a damage improvement across the squad, but it's applied piecemeal as we upgrade the different weapon types. You actually need to research some more tech before you can buy magnetic weapons for your snipers and grenadiers.


Tygan pops in to say that we're inspired for psionics research, which significantly cuts down the time it will take if we start work now. I've got a rookie who's waiting impatiently for psionics training, so I start work unraveling the mysteries of the human mind.


We buy magnetic assault rifles, which can be used by our specialists and rangers. I typically don't buy upgraded shotguns, because it costs extra money and it's only useful for one class, but if I have a bit of extra cash I might get them later. For now, though, all rangers will be switching over to mag rifles.


And then I remembered what the sectoid corpses were for: building mindshields. These little devices are essential for missions against the Warlock and I usually make a point of buying enough to outfit a full squad. So...probably shouldn't have sold those two sectoids, I guess. Whatever, I wasn't going to build six of these things just yet and I'm sure we'll find more sectoids to kill.

That's all for this update! Join us next time, when things start to get thorny for Tyrant Squad.
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  #86  
Old 02-11-2019, 05:18 PM
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Gerad Gerad is offline
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But that's not all! New bud alert: Gerad and Spoony 4ever.
Just like peas in a pod, these two!
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  #87  
Old 02-13-2019, 01:19 PM
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MCBanjoMike MCBanjoMike is offline
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Mission 7: I've Got You Under My Spell


Commander Riker's got a new mission for us! Yes, it's true: Volk, leader of the Reapers, is voiced by Jonathan Frakes, making basically no attempt to change the way he speaks. He's not the only TNG actor who participated in the WotC expansion, either! John DeLancie (Q) heads up the Templars, Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar) is the head Skirmisher, Michael Dorn (Worf) is the voice of the first Skirmisher soldier you get and Marina Sirtis (Troi) voices the canonical Reaper. Also, I just learned that Nolan North apparently is the voice of the Chosen Hunter? Funny that I never noticed that before, dude's got range.


Anyway, there's a chance that the Warlock will show up on this mission, so I check the intel that I have on him before prepping the squad. He's weak to Skirmishers and also to being hit a bunch of times in the same turn, which is something that Skirmishers are good at doing. I know who's coming on this mission!


There are a bunch of Lost on this mission, so I'm bringing along a sniper and a Templar, both of whom have a pistol that doesn't require reloading. You can chain pistol shots until the cows come home if you choose your zombies right. VV has proven herself to be very good at clearing out hordes of the undead and Aquadeo is here to keep everyone alive. Spoiler: he'll have his work cut out for him. Finally, we have Inquisitor, our new Skirmisher friend. You'll note that I've outfitted my two melee soldiers with mindshields - that's because having a mind-controlled blade-wielder in the middle of your squad is very bad for morale, and for continued living. Don't ask me how I know.


We drop into the map in stealth mode, only to find the ADVENT fighting with the Lost. This doesn't actually happen all that much, so I'll take it! Here we have our first ADVENT MEC, which is also our first enemy with armor (the yellow dots by the health bar). Armor reduces damage from most attacks by one point per tick, which is why I'm very invested in finding ways to remove it. These Lost aren't doing a whole lot of damage, what with all that plating, but every hit is appreciated.


Sectoids, on the other hand, have no armor and take extra damage from melee. I've never seen one get hit by a Lost before! I could definitely get used to this.


Inquisitor initiates hostilities using Justice, AKA Get Over Here. Skirmishers can pull a human-sized enemy to them using their grappling hook and then...


...slash them with their wrist blade. It's a cool move for two reasons: one, it pulls enemies out of cover and into the open, and two, it has a better chance to hit than just firing their weapon. If an enemy is behind high cover, it's usually better to try Justice than to just shoot at them. Skirmishers also can attack twice in a turn (assuming they didn't move), so you'll usually be able to get in a point-blank shot after dragging the enemy over to you. This is somewhat diminished by the naturally low damage Skirmishers deal, but other soldiers can really pile the damage on to the enemy now that it's exposed.


Gerad hits the MEC, but its armor is keeping it alive. I want that thing dead before it gets a turn to attack us.


Unfortunately, Aquadeo misses the next shot. Aqua actually has more damage potential than Gerad right now because of his upgraded magnetic weapon.


I either forgot to swap Vixen's shotgun out for a mag rifle or else I assumed she'd be close enough to enemies that it was worth keeping, I forget. She clears out a pair of lost...


...before giving Aqua another turn using Teamwork. The power of friendship is unstoppable! And so are railguns!


Oh heck. That's not good.


Speaking of not good, that first sectoid is still alive and tries to mind-control Gerad. Thankfully, he resists it, but this causes him to panic. Panicking is usually not a big deal, in Gerad's case it causes him to run up a little ways and hunker down for the turn.


The Mec dropped some loot, so I run Kirin over to pick it up by having him slash one of the nearby Lost. Melee characters are much more mobile than most, because they can combine movement and attacking into a single action.


It was worth the trip! Two weapon attachments, a PCS (you stick it into your soldier's brain to upgrade them) and a datapad, which we can research to earn a chunk of intel.


Much like our first Lost mission, the point here is to rescue a VIP along with, if possible, her two bodyguards. Inquisitor runs up to the first bodyguard and tags her in.


She's another sniper, and I waste no time using her to clear out some more of the zombies. We get to control her until the end of the mission.


Or at least...


...we were controlling her. Ruh-roh. So my thinking here was that if I moved Inquisitor to the left, he wouldn't be advancing and therefore wouldn't trigger any new enemies. What actually happened was that he stumbled into another sectoid and a MEC right as our turn was ending. That gave them the opportunity to act freely and boy did they make use of it. The sectoid mind-controlled our new sniper friend...


...and the MEC bombarded Kirin and VV with his mortar. This is why I try to kill MECs ASAP.


And then, of course, there's this guy. The Warlock is my least favorite Chosen to deal with, although his abilities vary from pretty inoffensive to completely devastating. The worst thing he can do is mind control your units. Unlike a sectoid, however, he can do so from anywhere on the map. So the Warlock will drop in on the opposite side of the map and from then you're in a race against time. If he does take control of one of your soldiers, then your best course of action is to kill the Warlock, but that can be pretty hard when he's sitting 30 tiles away with 20 HP. So then you have to decide: will you kill your own unit, or can you stay away from them or neutralize them for 3 turns until the mind control wears off? Mind-controlled units fight very aggressively, and rangers and templars in particular have a huge radius in which they can deal damage (and potentially lots of it). XCOM 2 doesn't give you a ton of ways to non-lethally shut down a brainwashed ally, so really your best bet is to prevent them from being captured by equipping mindshields. But that's expensive and requires the use of an item slot, which makes it hard to do in the early game. Basically the Warlock suuuuuuuuuucks.


On the bright side, if he isn't mind controlling you, his other attacks are fairly ineffective. Here he uses mind scorch, which just stuns Inquisitor. Aquadeo can fix that without even getting off the couch.


But we still have problems. There's a MEC on the board, plus a sectoid and a brainwashed sniper. Inquisitor tosses his grenade at the MEC in a bid to take down some of its armor. Armor is usually removed either by explosives or characters who have the Shredder ability, which lets their regular shots destroy armor. Shredder is great and Sensenic is a coward who is putting the team at risk.


With the armor softened, Kirin can run up and finish the MEC off. Templars gain Focus by killing enemies with their blades; focus is spent to use abilities but just having it increases the damage that the blades do. Between his two kills this mission, Kirin has maxed out his focus meter. Time to spend some!


I could run Kirin back to cover, but instead I leave him out in the open and use Parry. Parrying negates the first damage that the Templar would take in the next turn at the cost of one focus (out of a max of two, currently). Enemies will almost always prioritize soldiers who are out of cover, so you can be relatively sure that someone will waste a turn shooting at your Templar. Parry only stops one attack, though, so I heal Kirin up just in case he attracts a lot of attention on the enemies' turn.


Sure enough, on the sniper's turn she takes a shot at our exposed soldier - or, uh, one of them. Unfortunately, Kirin's bait tactic doesn't work and Inquisitor takes the full force of the shot. He starts bleeding out, which is something that can happen when a soldier's HP is reduced to exactly zero. I honestly got lucky here, that shot could easily have hit for 6 and our Skirmisher would be 100% dead. As it is, I can keep him alive if I stabilize him or evacuate him in the next three turns. The Warlock is between us and the evac zone, so the latter isn't really feasible, but we can probably manage the former. All that said, this is starting to be a pretty bad situation.


I don't even remember who threw that grenade, but Kirin parried it. He's more Jedi than Templar now. The Warlock follows this up by trying to mind-control Kirin, but thank god he's got that doofy looking mindshield on his head.


We've got a lot of problems to deal with right now, but killing this sectoid takes care of two of them. Once the sectoid is dead, the sniper comes back under our control, which is a relief. It's tough to know what to do in a situation like this: I could have killed the sniper before she acted and maybe I should have. She came within a hair's breadth of killing our Skirmisher, after all. But as it happens, he's still alive and now we have her back for the rest of the mission - plus, she'll join the team if she makes it out of here alive. Still, trading her for my Skirmisher probably wouldn't have been worth it, and I'm only coming out ahead because of dumb luck.


With the sectoid and MEC taken care of, we turn our attention to the Warlock. Well actually, the Lost turn their attention to the Warlock. Go get him, fellas!


Warlock ain't havin' none of that. Sadly, the bad guys also get free turns for killing the Lost, so this doesn't use up his turn. Instead, he summons an ADVENT trooper, which is a thing that the Chosen can do. Just a regular one, though, no big deal.


Time is ticking away, so I have Aquadeo stabilize Inquisitor. This uses up one charge of his medkit, although he gets four so that's not too much of a problem. He also heals up Vixen, who is about to launch a VIP rescue mission.


Vixen clears out Lost until her clip is empty...


...and then takes care of the ADVENT soldier face-to-face. Stone cold badass.


I'm finally in a position to start dealing with the Warlock directly. I send Kirin up to do some damage...


...then run him over to tag in the other of the VIP's bodyguards. This one is a grenadier and he gets in a good shot, which does extra damage because of the Chosen's weakness to being attacked a bunch of times in a row.


The Traitor Sniper redeems herself somewhat by pinging the Warlock with her pistol, which also gets a damage bonus. She couldn't shoot him with her rifle because she wasted all her bullets killing our friend.


The Warlock is on his last legs, but he draws things out using an ability called Spectral Army. He creates a phantom soldier based on one of ours and puts himself into stasis. We can't hurt the Warlock until the doppelganger is killed. As the Warlock gains knowledge, the number of clones he creates will increase, but thankfully we only have one to deal with.


Our new grenadier is closest, so he does the honors.


This releases the Warlock from stasis, so Kirin sends him packing with one final slash. Kirin 2, Chosen 0!


Vixen, meanwhile, is on a quest to save the person that we're actually here for. She clears out some Lost...


...then heads upstairs and tags the VIP. At this point, the only thing standing between us and freedom is a never-ending supply of zombies, but you guys all know that's NBD.


Gerad grabs Inquisitor and we make a run for it. On missions where the squad has to evac, you need to bodily haul your downed teammates to the evac zone, otherwise they are dead. In fact, you can't even get their gear back without bringing their bodies home. Not super important for now, but once you have some unique weapons and fancy armor it becomes a consideration.


The whole team evacs out of the area and we breathe a sigh of relief. Man, that was a hell of a-


Oops, Gerad's still here. Uh, good thing there aren't many Lost left on the map!


Carrying a body doesn't reduce your soldier's movement range, but it does make them slow as hell. Gerad finally lurches over to the evac zone and gets on the dropship.


We get another 5 AP for killing the Warlock, not that he's actually dead.


Man, that was an ordeal. We take a photo to commemorate our hardest mission yet. Inquisitor is still unconscious, so presumably somebody Weekend At Bernie's'd him while they took the picture.


I am seriously so surprised that everyone made it back from that mission alive. Inquisitor is going to be out of the action for a solid month, though - looks like I should invest in building an Infirmary on the Avenger. Gerad gets a promotion, so I give him Lightning Hands, which allows him to take a free pistol shot at the start of his turn (when it isn't on cooldown). It's a fun, useful ability that fits his personality pretty well.


We do actually get a pretty decent reward for all that pain. Engineers are essential, Intel is great and we get to keep the two corporals that we picked up along the way. Let's go have a look at them.


Alice Ferguson here is our 43rd sharpshooter. She has a positive, can-do attitude that gets her through tough assignments like gunning down her squadmates with ease.


Daichi Sato isn't quite as redundant as our friend Alice, but lordy does he have a head of hair. When high-level characters join XCOM, they show up as blank slates and you get to customize them. I of course give Daichi the Shredder ability, which no self-respecting grenadier should be without.

Phew, that was pretty nasty! We had some bad luck and maybe made some bad decisions, but enough went right that everyone made it out alive. It's not hard to imagine how that could have turned into a team wipe, although the fact that there were two bonus soldiers to collect on the map probably reduced the danger of that. Still, I was expecting the worst and instead we got the, uh, averagst. Nice work, Tyrant Squad!
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  #88  
Old 02-13-2019, 02:12 PM
Mogri's Avatar
Mogri Mogri is offline
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My own WotC campaign crashed and burned last night after two full squad wipes. There was a solid mix of poor decisions and awful luck in the mix. I could maybe salvage it, but I've permafailed one of the Chosen missions at this point.

Nothing for it but to jump back in, I feel.
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  #89  
Old 02-13-2019, 02:13 PM
MCBanjoMike's Avatar
MCBanjoMike MCBanjoMike is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mogri View Post
Nothing for it but to jump back in, I feel.
Have I got a squad for you!
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  #90  
Old 02-13-2019, 02:46 PM
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Kirin Kirin is offline
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Whew, those last two missions were quite a workout for me! I don't much like being on fire, but I do like getting promoted, parrying grenades like a badass, and taking out mecha and Chosen, so it all works out!
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