Unfit for XCOMmand CH1: Gasping King

By Rutskarn
on Jan 17, 2017
Filed under:
Lets Play

I don’t know what happens after you die, but I do know what happens when an XCOM soldier almost dies–and whatever does or doesn’t lie beyond the grave, it can’t be much worse than post-apocalyptic guerrilla military hospital food. Today it’s porridge. You can make porridge out of anything, and apparently, they have.

Fisher says he doesn’t mind it. Fisher is liar, and in direct consequence, one of the most reassuring members of the unit. He and I have some disagreements about Operation Gasping King.

“It’s a simple clean-cut operation,” he says. “The rookies are ready to go, and Donny will be there to cover their backs. I say it’ll go down with no serious problems.”

“They’re all gonna fuckin’ die,” I suggest.

“You don’t have any faith in the Commander. Operation Gatecrasher went down alright, didn’t it?”

I look over the infirmary, current site of the Operation Gatecrasher afterparty, still going strong after nearly a week. “If the plan is for us to develop a tolerance to alien grenades, then we’re off to a strong start.”

Fisher shushes me–the snow is clearing from the operations monitor set up by the surgical table. We’re not supposed to be watching this, since we’re in recovery, but the medics aren’t real doctors and they can all eat my ass.

Not that I`m knocking them. After all, we`re sure as shit not real soldiers.
Not that I'm knocking them. After all, we're sure as shit not real soldiers.

“Menace 1-5,” says Bradford, “your objective is to destroy the alien relay and secure the evac. After landing, you will have eight minutes to get it done and get out.”

“Eight minutes!” I wipe sprayed porridge off my chin. “Shit, why not grab some burgers first?”

Menace 1-5 deploys, pretty covertly for an illegal uncleared VTOL, and puts the squad down tightly grouped a block or two from the objective. The Commander’s voice is pretty thin on our speakers, but I hear Mertens, Choi, Hawkins, and King copy and see them all begin to move up the sidewalk.

So far, they haven’t been spotted. And as long as they take their time, check their corners, and move up nice and slow…

Menace 1-5, be advised you have seven minutes remaining.”

“Seven fucking minutes,” I mutter.

King, the only one in the squad who’s actually seen an alien, receives a special order from the Commander. He slings his high-powered rifle over his shoulder, and while the rest of the squad moves up the sidewalk, he climbs a drainpipe.

“Good,” I say. “Just stay up there. Nothing for you down there, Donny…”

“I’ve got contact,” says Choi on the ground.

Sure enough, the monitor picks up the first two bad guys of the day. One of them’s an Advent Soldier, and is for all intents and purposes some stupid mutant kid with a laser–not much more formidable than a single XCOM operative. The other one is a sectoid, and as best as command can figure, they’re cast-iron psychic sharpshooter wizards. The good news is, they don’t see Choi.

A few quick orders crackle in the speakers, and carefully, but efficiently, the squad moves up into position to engage. And then King gets his orders, and he nods, and he slips back down the drainpipe…

“No, no, no, why is he doing that?”

“He can’t set up on the roof without them seeing him,” says Fisher.

“So send him to the back of the building! Don’t just have him run up with the rest of the squad, he’s a fucking sharpshooter!”

“He can’t just hide in the back while time’s running out!”

The audio channel blows up. It is instantly clear, even to totally untrained meatheads–which, that’s everyone in XCOM–that Menace 1-5 is no longer concealed from anything. There was no ambush. There’s just a lot of screaming.

Mertens is dead.  Another squad of Advent is running up, and King is scrambling out of his useless cover and back to the evacuation. Choi is panicking, spraying fire out in the open, and a sure pick for next to get shot. Hawkins unloads his rifle at a gutter. For a second I think he’s cracked, and then I realized that one of the Advent bastards ran up onto the goddamn roof.

Menace 1-5 went from covert to outflanked instantly.

I hear the Commander’s voice, very calm. The three survivors start running–and barely a minute later, they’re being yanked out of combat in a haze of laser fire.

On the bed next to mine, Fisher is silent. Then, after a while, he rolls over and goes back to sleep.

COMMANDER’S SUMMARY OF ENGAGEMENT:

Rks. Choi, Mertens, and Hawkins accompanied Sq. King in an attempt to disrupt an alien relay. Their squad (Menace 1-5) detected a pair of hostile combatants and took cover awaiting my instructions to ambush. They were instructed to open fire should their position be compromised.

However, for reasons that are presently unclear, Menace 1-5 did not open fire until after the combatants discovered them and fired first. This is expected in situations where XCOM operatives are outflanked by the enemy, but it is at present not clear how two aliens stumbling head-on into a diversely arranged and well-secured squad could be considered “outflanking” much of anything.

Nevertheless, Mertens was killed instantly and Choi panicked, leaving the squad with two out-of-position and evidently outflanked members to confront both the original threat and an additional enemy squad that stumbled onto the action before anyone had time to respond. Of those two operatives, only Hawkins was capable of moving (which at this point was strictly necessary) and firing his primary weapon at the same time. King would not be able to use his high-powered rifle while taking cover.

Therefore, in the certain knowledge that the firefight could not be concluded before the mission terminated, I made the difficult but informed decision to extract all three survivors. I am happy to say the retreat was wholly successful.

So, hey. We killed one solider, they killed one solider. Let’s call it a draw.

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202020205There are now 85 comments. Almost a hundred!

From the Archives:

  1. Jon Wood says:

    Glitch? Glitch. I’mma call it a glitch.

    “That’s XCOM, baby!”

    • ehlijen says:

      I’m curious myself. My best guess is that the Commander misclicked and had the sniper jump off the building into sight instead of taking cover and shooting?

      Rutskarn’s writing is great, but sometimes I have trouble following what he’s describing as having happened.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        When you cant figure out what is happening,remember these wise words:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm9UB-FejMA

        • ehlijen says:

          While that’s true, it doesn’t really help in making a literary work compelling.

          • MichaelGC says:

            I’d say it might be the other way around: elements introduced to make the literary side of things more compelling may end up clashing with the immediate turn-to-turn experience of playing XCOM, thus leading to confusion for those trying to match things up one-to-one based on their own experiences of playing the game.

            It’s the series on Blood Bowl I’m thinking of, really, where the story was clearly inspired by and distinctly linked to what happened on the field, but with some licence also taken throughout for story purposes. Might well be something similar happening here.

    • Falterfire says:

      If you don’t have eyes on the enemy, it won’t highlight which squares are within the enemy’s detection range. I’m betting he moved into a position that instantly revealed his squad after the sniper could no longer see the enemy, which would mean he could no longer tell which places were safe.

      • ehlijen says:

        But if the sniper was the only one who could see the enemy, why’d he climb down claiming to be unable to set up a shot from up there?

      • Writiosity says:

        Ah… yes, yes indeed. This was a lesson I learned the hard way, lol.

        “What… WHAT? What the fuuuuuu??? HOW DID THAT BASTARD SEE ME, THERE WAS NO SIGHT MARKER!”

        Discovered eventually it was because I didn’t have eyes on one particular ADVENT trooper but he could very much see me. Yes.

        I also got the UFO mission WAY before I was able to prepare on my first play-through, had no turrets for the Avenger, no AWS or other useful stuff beyond the Proving Ground and a few relatively levelled up members. Said members mostly died during that mission, putting me back to square one.

        XCOM2: Serious Business.

  2. Da Mage says:

    So ummm…you’re playing this on Commander Ironman. Have you actually completed XCOM 2 on Commander before?

    If not, this could be a very short series. I only ask because pulling out on a mission this early in a campaign will only make the steep curve even worse. Commander difficulty expects you to win nearly every mission with a minimal amount of casualties.

  3. Jimmy McAwesome says:

    I know they did it for balance and all, but it really bugs me that only one person on your squad can get an ambush shot in. It seems like a squad of indeterminately trained soldiers should at least be able to count to three.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Not exactly.Only one soldier can take an active ambush shot,yes,but everyone set to overwatch while concealed will also take an ambushing shot once concealment is broken.

      • Jimmy McAwesome says:

        Having only played like 5 hours so far, I’m glad you mentioned this before I beat the whole game not knowing this was an option.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Yeah,when you are the one springing an ambush,you should do it with your last soldier,so that the ambush overwatch can trigger.Unless you have other soldiers that can remain concealed after others have been revealed,that is.

          • cerapa says:

            Oh no. Nonononono. Bad idea. Never set the whole squad to overwatch.

            Under no circumstances should you rely on hitting overwatch shots, or normal shots for that matter(no, not even 95% shots). If the ambush fails and leaves an enemy standing, at least one of your buddies will die.

            Always have enough firepower to deal with a missed shot. Grenades are guaranteed damage. Use guns when you 1) have enough grenades to kill an enemy in case you miss 2) are unable to finish off an enemy with grenades.

            A correct ambush involves leaving your squad behind good cover, overwatching with those with the best hit chances and leaving enough grenadiers to kill any survivors, or to at least kill some, in order to reduce the amount of incoming fire during the alien turn.

            The RNG is a powerful god, but even a god is afraid of too many explosives.

            • Writiosity says:

              I love how a rookie can miss a 95% hit chance shot with a rifle, but can then go on to bounce a grenade off five different surfaces and have it detonate right in a stupid Sectoid’s ugly face EVERY SINGLE TIME, lol.

        • Coming_Second says:

          The most effective way to do it is to set some of your remaining troops to OW before pulling the ambush shot. In this way you’ll get plenty of free shots in whilst retaining an option or two if they all manage to miss.

      • sheer_falacy says:

        And the ambush overwatch shots don’t suffer any of the normal overwatch penalties – they can crit and everything. It’s really useful, and I thought the game taught you about it pretty early.

  4. Miguk says:

    This is a typical early-game mission for me. I try to set up a good ambush but I botch it somehow, usually by not anticipating who can see where. Then one of my guys gets instantly killed and I know I can’t win with just 3 left.

    One of them’s an Advent Soldier, and is for all intents and purposes some stupid mutant kid with a laser

    I’m disappointed that most of the enemies are just generic helmeted mooks. It might be interesting if they were human collaborators, but no, they have no existence outside of that helmet. The sectoids aren’t quite as lame as in the last game, but they’re just bland humanoid monsters. I cannot understand why they don’t just make them little gray aliens with big eyes.

    Of course I’m not disappointed enough to actually stop playing.

  5. Content Consumer says:

    I’m confused… how do you get a successful shot percentage of zero, yet still manage to shoot someone?

    EDIT: “Choi is panicking,”
    Maybe panicked successful shots don’t count as successful?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Grenades dont count towards shooting percentage,but do count towards damage.Other explosions too,I think.Not sure about melee weapons though.

    • guy says:

      The successful shot percentage display is apparently half-random or something; I’m watching The Commander’s Field Manual to the Resistance, and it’s showing 100% hit rates in missions that had people miss multiple shots.

      • Merlin says:

        My suspicion is that it only counts the basic Shoot command. Overwatch shots don’t seem to be included, and any other soldier abilities either don’t count or screw with the count. (E.g. I have no idea whether Rapid Fire is tracked as 0, 1, or 2 shots/hits.)

        • Decius says:

          I think it’s something like “hits/shots, capped at 100%, but only counting…”

          It’s useless in any case, since it’s not like you should try to maximize any measure of “%hit” in the tactical layer. Imagine a basketball player landing his first shot of the game and deciding to have a 100% accuracy.

          • ehlijen says:

            It’s not terribly useful, but still somewhat of an indicator of how well you’ve done in setting up decent shots for your soldiers (through ambush and outflanking, as those tend to give better odds than against targets in cover) vs how often you bank on hail-maries with low odds in static shootouts.

  6. Coming_Second says:

    Oof. Difficult to tell exactly what went wrong here from the writing – if it’s a bug it’s not one I’ve ever run into. However, Ironman does force situations that feel unfair, whether due to bugs, weird LoSs, or just awful luck. As others have said, if this is your first time on vanilla IM Commander, this series likely isn’t going to last long.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Rutskarn tends to know what he’s doing even when what he’s doing is not knowing what he’s doing. Er, if you follow me. He knows what he’s metadoing. And like DL says, look at the title of the series….

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      My guess is that Rutskarn sent the sniper to the roof without noticing the “will it be visible” thing is not there,decided to climb down,and got spotted.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I have also experienced a couple times with snipers that the game is not entirely accurate or fair with the “is it visible in this spot” thing for rooftops. Several times I’ve moved a sniper into position who should not have been seen, but was. I presume it is something with elevation and half cover somehow messing up the display.

        • Coming_Second says:

          Usually this is to do with the fact that there’s one or two enemies out of sight behind the corner of the building you’re clambering onto. They do have visual of the spot you’re moving your dude to, whilst the ones who are in sight do not. This is 90% of cases I’ve mucked up an ambush.

  7. ehlijen says:

    I don’t suppose the sectoid tried to mindspin anyone?

    It’s one of the symptoms of boardgame-itis that put me a little off this game: Take an action, then spin the wheel of outcomes. More specifically: Mindspin randomly either panics, stuns or mindcontrols the target, with possibly more possible effects. Fine, on an AI critter that might just make it a mysterious x-factor, but XCOM itself does stuff like that, too:
    Psi operatives learn their skills in a random order
    The Advanced Warfare centre randomly gives your soldiers random bonus skills (if you build it early enough).
    The ‘experimental thing’ project produces random equipment
    Continent bonuses are random each game

    It’s clearly a dice roll or deck draw mechanic each time, and it further moves XCOM away from simulation to abstracted board game, further than I wanted it to be.

    • Ysen says:

      I’m more than happy for it to move more towards board game than simulation. When I play more simulationist tactics games, I often feel like playing optimally requires a bunch of micromanagement which slows the pace to a crawl. Of course, I also like actual board games…

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I like actual board games too.But thats not what original x-com was,and thats not what xcom was sold as*.

        What bothered me the most is the shooting mechanic,both in xcom and in xcom 2.In the original,when you shoot your gun,a line is traced from your unit to the alien,and then the computer rolls a die.If you score a hit,then the bullets follow that line.But if you miss,then the bullets get scattered away from that line,which can still lead to a hit,especially if you are closer to the alien,or if its a larger target.Here,its just a binary pass/fail,and that one irks me.I tolerated it in 1,but in 2 I was just fed up with it.

        Worse,they added a bunch of destructible terrain in 2,which is a good thing,but they still dont allow you to manually aim regular weapons,which is a bad thing.If I cant hit an alien behind a wall,Id rather spend a bullet to destroy that wall than a grenade,but nope,not allowed.

        The random psi powers thing that ehlijen mentioned was there back in the original.But there,you had a squad of 8 in the beginning,and up to 20 later on.Which meant that one panicking soldier isnt a problem.Heck,even 3 or 4 soldiers being mind controlled was manageable.But here,a single soldier being out of the action for whatever reason is a HUGE problem.

        *This is also the reason why I was so pissed off by the master of orion remake.I like real time strategy games.Heck,I consider starcraft 1 to be the best game ever.But when I play a turn based strategy game,I expect it to be turn based,not this bastardized hybrid.So when a game is sold to me as X,I expect it to be X.Not Y,not XY,not mostly X,but X all the way.

        • GloatingSwine says:

          And having 20 slots in your Avenger meant that you had room for plenty of mental shielding.

          By which I mean soldiers with intentionally crap psi defence armed with only laser pistols so they couldn’t hurt your power armoured troops, because the AI knew all the stats of all your soldiers and didn’t require line of sight to use psi attacks (technically nor did you).

          Psi attacks are far less bullshit in XCOM than they were in UFO because they have a LoS requirement.

          • Decius says:

            You needed to see the target with /someone/.

            It didn’t have to be a human. I cheesed the last mission a lot by having a cadre of highly psycic soldiers stay at the spawn and mind control a relay of aliens.

            Best/worst thing about that was that larger aliens counted each tile as different for control effects. I took over one part of a sectopod and another saw it move and took an opportunity shot, killing it.

            • GloatingSwine says:

              You did.

              The aliens did not. If they could see one of your troops they could psi attack any of them.

              • Ninety-Three says:

                It was actually worse. As soon as the aliens saw any of your troops, they permanently gained the ability to psi attack all of them, even if you killed the spotter or broke line of sight.

                As much as it was bullshit, I didn’t really resent it because the game needed some form of pressure to push you to advance at more than a snail’s pace, and without psi attacks the only pressure is “I want to reach the UFO by turn 20 so I can set up a firing squad for when the crew exits”.

                • ehlijen says:

                  Until you get enough hover tanks for your avenger. The aliens don’t get Psi-‘LOS’ if they only see a robotic unit. Of course, you had to widen most UFO doors with blaster launchers if you played that way, mostly obviating the need to still get in afterwards…

      • Merlin says:

        I’m more than happy for it to move more towards board game than simulation.

        Agreed. All that simulation tends to boil down to the same hit/miss/destroy cover outcomes anyway. I don’t sleep any more soundly knowing that there’s a bunch of largely-unimportant trajectory math going on under the hood, especially since making use of that preciseness tends to hurt the actual playability.

        Perfect example in counterpoint to Daemian’s complaint: when I want to shoot an enemy in XCOM, it’s a simple couple of keystrokes, clear & quick. When I want to lob a grenade at somebody, it’s a lengthy process of contemplating exact placement while wrestling with camera orientation, zoom, elevation, and placement. Grenade free-aim is undoubtedly more useful than locking on to enemies (a la the Fuse psi-power in XCOM2), but there is a major con to it, and the game gets away with that con specifically because it avoids that fiddliness everywhere else.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          All that simulation tends to boil down to the same hit/miss/destroy cover outcomes anyway

          Except it doesnt.Tracing the shots can lead to a plethora of different outcomes,as can be seen in the original.Hit the enemy,miss the intended target but still hit the enemy,hit an adjacent enemy,hit an unseen enemy,hit a piece of cover,destroy a piece of cover,destroy the floor and cause enemy to fall,start a fire(that can do damage),make smoke(that can stun),hit your teammate,hit a civilian,and so on,and so on,and so on.All of these can cause the game to develop in a wide variety of ways.And a fraction of this can be seen when you go from xcom1 with no destructible cover to xcom2 with destructible cover.

          since making use of that preciseness tends to hurt the actual playability.

          Thats the opposite of truth.The thing you describe in your example is an interface problem,not a simulation problem.Imagine if grenades snapped to the enemies by default,and you could nudge them where you wanted if you wished for more precision.Such an interface would make them just as quick and easy to use as weapons,but at the same time allowing for greater precision when it is required.Heck,I can think of an even better interface,where you could toggle whether grenades would snap to enemies,or to tiles that would hit the most enemies.Sacrificing gameplay for the sake of an interface is not a good thing.You should remove clutter,not meaningful interaction.

          • Merlin says:

            Except it doesnt.Tracing the shots can lead to a plethora of different outcomes,as can be seen in the original.Hit the enemy,miss the intended target but still hit the enemy,hit an adjacent enemy,hit an unseen enemy,hit a piece of cover,destroy a piece of cover,destroy the floor and cause enemy to fall,start a fire(that can do damage),make smoke(that can stun),hit your teammate,hit a civilian,and so on,and so on,and so on.All of these can cause the game to develop in a wide variety of ways.And a fraction of this can be seen when you go from xcom1 with no destructible cover to xcom2 with destructible cover.

            All of those are discrete categorizable outcomes that don’t require the middle man of ballistic physics, most of which the game already models. In order, you’ve listed: two instances of “hit target” (modeled by the game), two instances of “hit other target” (technically modeled by the game, but confined to extreme corner cases), miss (modeled), miss and destroy cover (modeled), miss and destroy floor (modeled), two copies of miss and create hindrance (not directly modeled, but possible if you miss and tag an explosive obstacle), and two other variations of “hit other target” (not modeled, but also extremely unlikely based on circumstances). You don’t need to model individual bullets and Aces & Eights style spray mechanics to incorporate these outcomes into the gameplay.

            Your complaint is not about what the game does, it’s about how it does it, which I first submit is silly and secondarily submit is directly related to the grenade UI. The grenade UI is fiddly and complex as a direct result of the grenade mechanics actually using the fiddly and complex trajectory & placement logic that you’re requesting. Could the interface get some improvements in a vacuum? But it’s still limited by the complexity of the game system’s implementation. (I’d also point out the XCOM2 got rid of the predecessor’s misfire chance on explosives, which suggests that the other outcomes weren’t excluded because they were impossible so much as because they were annoying.)

            In programming speak, you’ve defined a function call with a lot of parameters, so the call ultimately has to contain a lot of arguments. We can make sure that those elements all use sensible data structures & variable names, and we can arrange them in a sensible order in the function definition. But you’ve demanded complexity with your request, so ultimately complexity is a matter of “how much”, not “if.”

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              In order, you’ve listed: two instances of “hit target” (modeled by the game)

              Nope.You either hit or you miss.There is no instance of a low aim individual hitting a big target just because its a big target.Basically this.

              two instances of “hit other target” (technically modeled by the game, but confined to extreme corner cases),

              Nope.Youll never hit someone you dont aim at.Even if you shoot at two aliens that are side by side,and the animation shows that the bullets are going through the other one,you will just miss.

              miss (modeled),

              Not quite.Its always the same miss.Point blank,or across the map,every miss is identical.

              miss and destroy cover (modeled), miss and destroy floor (modeled),

              Technically true,but its always just the cover the target was using.Never a lone one.

              two copies of miss and create hindrance (not directly modeled, but possible if you miss and tag an explosive obstacle),

              Definitely not true.Oh sure,if the hit cover is an explosive thing,it will explode.But you cannot create obstacles,just a single explosion that will happen either on the same turn,or the turn after.Not nearly as intricate as the fire/smoke/explosion of the original.

              and two other variations of “hit other target” (not modeled, but also extremely unlikely based on circumstances)

              Not true.Its not unlikely,its impossible.

              You don’t need to model individual bullets and Aces & Eights style spray mechanics to incorporate these outcomes into the gameplay.

              Technically true,but incorporating them using just dice would be way more complex.

              The grenade UI is fiddly and complex as a direct result of the grenade mechanics actually using the fiddly and complex trajectory & placement logic that you’re requesting

              Not true.You arent picking the trajectory,you are picking the landing spot.And if your pick is not behind an impassable obstacle,the trajectory will be calculated perfectly every time.It does not influence the ui one bit.

              Contrast this to the long wars addition of rocket aiming.Now there you are picking the trajectory,not the destination.And its waay fiddlier than the grenade mechanic in either xcom.But the reason it is fiddly is that it is using the ui in a fashion that it was not meant to be used.

              Simulating the bullets would not change the ui one bit.You would still pick your target in the same fashion.What it would change is under the hood mechanic,replacing the binary pass fail with a rainbow of outcomes.The only time you would have to change the targeting mechanic is if you wanted to implement the ability for every soldier to shoot wherever you want.But thats not tied to the simulation vs the binary choice.The two are independent.

              • Decius says:

                I have absolutely hit objects that were not adjacent to the target. Often it’s a wall well behind or in front of them, sometimes it’s a tree or car (again, not one that anyone is using for cover).

                Hitting another character is not something I’ve seen.

                • ehlijen says:

                  I have seen that, but only because the UI sometimes doesn’t make it clear who I’m aiming at (eg if a bigger alien is in front of a smaller one, you might shoot the smaller one thinking you’re aiming for the bigger one).

                  Also, no, XCOM 2, I never ever want to shoot the petrol station pump my wounded friend is crouching behind, please stop putting on top of the target priority list just because a beserker is also standing next to it!

        • Miguk says:

          It’s not the same. You can only shoot at spotted enemies. In the original X-Com I would routinely shoot at locations where I suspected an enemy might be.

          Jagged Alliance 2 was even better. If you fired a long burst of automatic fire at a cluster of enemies you might miss them all, but they would still be suppressed because the bullets had passed close enough to them.

          • Decius says:

            You could also shoot at locations very far away where someone more expendable saw an alien. Much of the mid-endgame ended up being a few good shooters in the back with spotters forward.

        • ehlijen says:

          Agreed. All that simulation tends to boil down to the same hit/miss/destroy cover outcomes anyway. I don’t sleep any more soundly knowing that there’s a bunch of largely-unimportant trajectory math going on under the hood, especially since making use of that preciseness tends to hurt the actual playability.

          That’s not all it did in the originals. It also informed tactics. One soldier standing behind another might shoot his friend in the back by accident. Burst firing on an enemy that just walked through a door when there is another XCOM soldier standing behind it on the other flank of the door might result in overkill shots killing your ally. Burst firing at aliens near civilians in terror missions might get the civilian killed.
          And the aliens faced the same issues, only worse due their poor AI and the fact that they couldn’t crouch to mitigate these issues.
          And all this was turned up to 11 with XCOM: Apocalypse’s super destructible terrain.

          In XCOM EU/2 meanwhile you can hose down an alien surrounded by your allies with your heavy’s machine gun and nothing bad will happen (unless the alien dies explosively). Nothing ever makes you worry about whether your machine gun firing arcs are clear of friendlies.

          Maybe that makes it more playable, but it also makes it less deep.

      • ehlijen says:

        I’m also not opposed to board games and play them whenever I can in real life. But I also like tactical simulation games.

        XCOM:EU was a good blend, for the most part, I thought. XCOM 2 went too/blatant in some respects.

        It felt at times like one of the Fantasy Flight Games dungeon crawler games (Dungeon Descent, Imperial Assault etc):
        Pod based activation, ‘Dark Events’ cards for the evil player to use, ‘draw from the deck’ equipment building and magic training, very simple action point system (2AP vs 50-80AP in the original), alien rulers that turn the turn based system on its head essentially altering the laws of time and space…

        But mostly, it was the idea that the Engineering department was at times a slot machine. Put in an elerium core and see what falls out!

  8. guy says:

    The funny thing about sectoids is that despite their formidable stat lines their AI makes them kinda suck most of the time. Their highest-priority action seems to be raising a psi-zombie and if at all possible at least one sectoid will do that, though if you run into two sectoids simultaneously one of them may do something else instead. Thing is, psi zombies a) suck and b) die when their sectoid does, and while sectoids do have a decent chunk of HP, they’re not that tough.

    But wow, this was a spectacularly unlucky start. Near as I can figure, there’s only one possible way this could have happened:

    1) King broke concealment on his move, triggering the alien pod on the Xcom turn
    2) The pod’s instant move to cover got them exactly into firing range of the Xcom troops, just one square short of triggering overwatch
    3)Alien turn begins, and the AI is smart enough to just open fire if pinned by overwatch, so they did.
    4)Then another pod just happened to wander over, though this one did trigger overwatch.

    Oh, and by the way, the timer isn’t eight turns to get the data and get out, it stops ticking once you have the data. The missions where you have to get out within the time limit have somewhat longer timers, but also have fixed evac points.

    • Coming_Second says:

      Your spoiler is just one of the reasons ABA2 is a must for more experienced players. It tweaks the A.I. so that the ayys take optimal moves like taking flank shots instead of idiotically activating their special whatever the case.

      • Merlin says:

        Does it make them more aggressive with grenades? That concerns me far more than the shot/ability calculus. Especially with fall damage being an issue in XCOM2, those things are far scarier than a plasma rifle.

        • Decius says:

          Given that your troops are going to be outnumbered on the map by 3:1 or so, any decent AI is going to mop the floor with you. A pod of 3 that gets a turn with grenades should take away cover and exploit that- two flanking shots, one dead soldier.

          Player ambush can reasonably clear one pod cleanly, but without extraordinary luck expect two losses (40 supplies) per mission.

        • Coming_Second says:

          Not that I have seen, but that’s mostly because they have Mecs to destroy your roof campers. They certainly do pop smoke grenades.

  9. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    My main question about this Let’s Play: Is Rutskarn intentionally playing poorly, despite knowing what the better options might be? Or is he ATTEMPTING to do his best, and decided to do a Let’s Play considering how often that seems to go awry for him?

    • MichaelGC says:

      Well, he attempted to fail in the last one and failed, thereby succeeding, which has to go down as a failure. So, maybe this time he’s determined to succeed in failing to succeed, which failure would be counted as success. My head hurts.

    • Locke says:

      I’m pretty sure the idea here is that Rutskarn is trying to play as effectively as possible, but is woefully unprepared for an Iron Man game at this difficulty and therefore anticipates failure.

  10. Baron Tanks says:

    Oeh boy, so excited for this. Off to a bonkers start! This is exactly what I was hoping for when you mentioned it on the Die Cast :)

  11. MichaelGC says:

    **Just Typeos**

    Fisher is liar
    -Unless it’s like a Tarzan thing or a reference to the Platonic Theory of Forms

    We killed one solider, they killed one solider.
    -Clearly the weakest died on both sides. From an evolutionary point of view, they did us a solid, we did them a solid

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