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Old 11-18-2014, 09:12 AM   #1
I won't go 'til it's over
kirant's Avatar
Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
kirant's LP - X-COM: Enemy Within (Long War Mod) (v2)

So...yeah. Here we go? Again?

What is X-COM?
Spoiler: show
X-COM is a turn-based strategy game. It focuses on squad-based tactics. The stories are almost always similar: aliens are invading earth. It's your job to win. Good luck.

You play as the role of X-COM's commander. You command your soldiers (a quick response team to alien attacks), oversee X-COM's base, and run the science and engineering programs.

The game I'm playing is the reboot of the franchise after several years of being what I'd call clinically dead: X-COM Enemy Unknown. I'll be playing with an expansion pack (Enemy Within) and a mod (Long War). The mod specifically targets to make the game more complex and more of a "war" by adding more soldiers and aliens, expanding weapon strategy, and expanding soldier roles (from 4 to 8 different soldiers)

Long War is, as the name suggests, a very long game. If you'd like to contribute your name and a gravestone for a soldier's name, I'm still taking suggestions.

Character Listing
Spoiler: show
- Name (first and last of some variety).
--- Oh, and if you have a nickname you want, mention that too. I can enter one if you survive long enough to get one (you might not. I am fairly serious about keeping this as a standard LP in that regard and you might just die). Fun note, the game auto-named a fighter pilot of mine to "Bender" Rodriguez. I'm so going to make him again.
- Class you'd like to be. There are:
--- Infantry. They fight in the trenches and do all the heavy lifting. It's underrated work, but infantry seriously do a lot of the hard work for me.
--- Assault. Swift moving, quick striking, hard hitting. They are much less consistent from my usage but are excellent at dishing out a hard hit when in their niche.
--- Scout. Exactly what it says. They are hard to hit, deal good damage, and provide support for a team in the form of suppression and improving ally accuracy.
--- Sniper. Also exactly what it says. Shoot from far away, kill stuff, and probably get killed when I forget that cloaked enemies like to flank you. Also go on a lot of missions since they don't get hurt all that often.
--- Gunner. They get a heavy gun and...well...that's about it. Gunners are the sole wielder of the Light Machine Gun and Squad Assault Weapon. But make no mistake: these are dangerous toys. They are very much capable of many roles but support is often the forte as they don't hit as much as you'd like.
--- Rocketeer. If you like exploding stuff, here's your chance. Load your rocket, make stuff explode.
--- Medic. I'll make sure they don't shoot you first.
--- Engineer. Supportive grenades mostly. But you also can fix our mechanized weapons.
--- Also let me know if you'd like to become a humanoid mech later on. You become so fat people can hide behind you in quite a literal sense.
- Preferred equipment. Long War modifies the weapons to add in many options besides Assault Rifles. I've complied a list below:
-- Secondary Weapons
--- Pistols. Anybody can carry except Gunners/Rocketeers. Pistols are your emergency weapons, obviously, and are only used when nothing else is possible.
--- Machine Pistols. Anybody can carry except Gunners/Rocketeers. Just as the name suggests, these are rapid-firing side arms. They are not really accurate and are heavier than pistols but are high rate of fire and have a much higher punching strength compared to pistols.
--- Sawed-off Shotgun. Anybody but Sniper, Gunner, and Rocketeer can carry. Zombie killing aside, this is a useful option if you really, really want a second primary weapon. It is a single shot, but damn that shot hurts.
--- Rocket. Rocketeers only. They explode. Enough said. Oh, and there's limited ammo per mission so...good luck with that. Note though that Rockets are also very awesome if they hit their target properly.
-- Primary Weapons
--- SMG. Anybody can carry. The lightest of all primary weapons, SMGs confer a large movement bonus compared to the other weapons. Limited ammo and damage output, but if you don't need to deal lots of damage, an SMG works wonders.
--- Carbines. Anyone can carry. Carbines are the baby brother of Assault Rifles. They give bonus movement and accuracy in exchange for damage and critical damage rate.
--- Assault Rifles. Anybody can carry. This is the baseline weapon. Assault Rifles, like in most games, are flexible and useful in almost any situation. They suffer from lack of specialization.
--- Battle Rifle. Anybody but Sniper, Gunner, and Rocketeer can carry. Battle Rifles are big riffles. That seems obvious. They're hard to aim effectively, but they hurt. A lot.
--- Shotgun. Anybody but Sniper, Gunner, and Rocketeer can carry. They work the same as in virtually every game: short range, high damage output. They also tend to have a nice critical chance boost.
--- Sniper Rifle. Only Snipers can carry. They are weapons that can go to any point on the map provided a line-of-sight. It hurts like hell to get hit by it, have a high critical chance, and get more accurate the further away you are. The only real weakness is that it has a "you can't move and shoot without accuracy loss" policy. And atrocious close range accuracy.
--- Marksman Rifle. Snipers and Scouts can carry. Light sniper rifles with similar weaknesses. You do get to move around a bit more since you can move and shoot with impunity now.
--- Squad Assault Weapon. Only Gunners can carry. A lighter rapid-fire weapon, SAWs carry a lot of ammo and can be used to support. They are also great for time-sensitive missions since you can move and shoot (compare LMG below).
--- Light Machine Gun. Only Gunners can carry. Think of them the way you'd think of Sniper Rifles. They have no move and shoot capabilities but have a higher damage potential. They have a near bottomless barrel of ammo and are perfect for defence missions or those which don't need the Gunner to move at all.
-- Armour
--- Much softer rules here. Just tell me if you want light, medium, or heavy armour. There's the obvious mobility/armour trade off.
- General visual descriptors
--- Like skin colour you'd like (they classify by race, then by pigment), hair style and colour (anime hair is possible), armour, and armour colour. I've done people who request anime character appearance so just request and I'll get as close as I can.

Well, anyways, this is going to be a long

Gameplay Settings
Spoiler: show
Thankfully, X-COM has a lot of options for difficulty from generally reasonable to sadist hard. I decided "this is going to be a long game. Even normal runs of Long War generally border on 200 missions (without additional options). Let's leave it that low as is.

But...let's make it some more fun.

Last time I started a Let's Play of Long War, it had different options. Anybody who read the old one should note that the standards for "Strict Screening" has changed - namely, that the recruits coming into the X-COM squads are now randomized whereas Strict Screening fixes their stats to be exactly even on entry. So, no more of that.

I'll be using the below though:

Hidden Potential, which forces me to have no clue how good soldier project out to be. Heavy soldiers could get really low HP or they could be massive tanks.

Next up, Red Fog. No, if you're at near death, your accuracy will not be that good.

And Liberators. Let's make it longer by forcing us to liberate all the nations on earth from alien attack before endin the game.

Oh, and said countries are Results Driven. So the more disarray the country is in, the less money they can give me to work with.

Flanking will matter here. Well, more than usual. The more flanking they are, the better their shot.

And what's a war game without losing everything dead soldiers died with?

Psychic powers are a (key) aspect of X-COM. Let's make that harder to develop


Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
Shameless Self-Plug - Updated May 30 - A Letter to a Younger Me – Anime Edition
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Old 11-18-2014, 09:14 AM   #2
I won't go 'til it's over
kirant's Avatar
Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Prologue: Are Humans Always This Stupid?
Spoiler: show
So there are two ways to view this. I'll have the video then do a screencapped version below it.

So, we open to two interesting graphics. Mutare ad custodiam (approximately "We change to protect") and Bellator in machina (my best translation is "Warrior in the machine"). Those are both custom emblems of two future divisions of the X-COM project, genetic modification and mechanized warfare. They're still damn awesome though and I wanted to show them right away.

Incidently, the X-COM's project emblem lists "Vigilo Confido" on it. I got "I watch, I believe" as a literal translation. I think "We watch; put your trust in us" is probably the best non-literal translation.

Then we're greeted by a Buckminster Fuller quote. The base game used “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” (Arthur C. Clarke). I think you know where this is heading...

Anyways, we open to a meteor crashing and almost killing some guy.

So people do the most obvious thing on earth: stare at the object that just crash landed. You know, instead of calling the police or backing off...that thing's obvious not human!

There should be no surprise that I have no sympathy for these idiots who get attacked by green...whatever that is. I'd be several blocks away by now.

Then there's this guy. I honestly am thinking some H-related things happened to him.

Well, humanity's screwed anyways it seems.

And that's when they hired me to stop humans from killing themselves.

This bald, blacked out guy represents the nations of the world. They are the counsil which funds the X-COM project. He will always be their method of communication and will alert me about my progress and of the counsil's will. I've got my own theories about him but that's another story.

They have felt it's nessisary to create the X-COM project and have pumped massive resources into making it happen.

I'm here to oversee the first, and last, line of defence against the aliens.

Good luck.

One Last Note
Spoiler: show
I have based the X-COM project in Asia. There's no real reason for it, though it grants me the benefit of cheaper technology.


Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
Shameless Self-Plug - Updated May 30 - A Letter to a Younger Me – Anime Edition
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Old 11-18-2014, 09:19 AM   #3
I won't go 'til it's over
kirant's Avatar
Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
This may be a bit disjointed as I forgot the 10k character limit and cut parts.

Operation Driving Priest
Spoiler: show
This first mission will go into a great amount of detail since I'll be explaining much of the mechanics' details.

The first aspect I'll point out is the HP/Armour mechanic. A soldier's HP is generated by two aspects: The soldier's natural HP and the protection provided by their armour. Naturally, heavier armour means more armour HP. These are represented by white and blue HP markers above a soldier's name. The white are natural HP and the blue are armour. If your take damage past the armour damage, the soldier becomes injured and must heal at HQ after the mission. Enough damage and they become gravely injured. A soldier who has 0 HP is considered either dead or critically injured. Use of medical equipment can save the life of a critically injured soldier but inability to reach the soldier in a short period of time will result in them succumbing to their injuries.

The game takes alternating human/alien turns. I get to move all my men and then the aliens get a move. Each soldier on my turn gets 2 move units (represented by two blue arrow-like rectangles under the name). Moving inside the outlined blue range below will consume a single unit (the first one).

While moving outside this distance but inside their maximum movement rage (orange outline) is called "Dashing" and will consume their entire turn.

A soldier may undergo any number of actions besides movement. It wouldn't be much of a game otherwise. Almost all other actions, such as shooting, reloading, etc, will take up the rest of their turn. This often means that action-heavy turns involve a non-dashing movement followed by an action. I'll explain each action as they come along.

The first action is known as Overwatch. This is a key aspect of the game and keeps it under control or your soldiers quite often. The soldier spends the next enemy turn waiting for any enemy to move inside their line of sight. If they move inside this range, the unit takes a free shot at them with a slight aim penalty (after which they exist Overwatch mode). This ensure enemies don't move much. A numerical advantage in soldiers in conjunction with Overwatch is quite obviously lethal as you can prevent them from moving without considering the shots and can send soldiers to reposition.

Soldiers in Overwatch who can still shoot are identified by an eye of their army's colour over their head.

Another aspect I'll point out here is the notion of cover. There are two brands of cover in X-COM: Partial cover and full cover. A piece of terrain offering cover can be identified by an upright shield. We can see where Laurie Jenkins is going, there is a truck's back offering cover. Partial cover has a shield icon with half a shield filled while a fully coloured shield, such as shown by the truck, is full cover.

I make some modest moves for the rest of the turn and just scout out to get a sense of where I am. You can see an example of partial cover on the left side of the screen.

At the start of my next turn, I notice some alerts. The orange arrows point me to where Alien Meld is located. This material is important to the X-COM project as it is integral to research. Part of the job on missions is to try to recover as much meld as possible as you will be unable to acquire it after an unknown amount of time on the map. The alerts point me to where each canister of this material is located.

One canister of Meld was on the roof. I sent Brown to acquire it.

There, we make first contact.

The enemies are Sectoids. These are the most general enemies in the game. Similar in look to traditional grey Martians, Sectoids are physically very weak enemies; they can only lift low accuracy pistols and have very limited HP. Common weapons can easily kill them. They are also quite cowardly and will spend an unusual amount of time calling for help.

That said, they also house very interesting mental properties. They are the first enemy you'll meet that engages in psychological warfare and they will often try to either mind rape your soldier into taking damage or cause a panic by sending them terrifying images. Probably something along the lines of Space Whale porn.

When you meet an enemy squad in this game, they automatically get a free move into cover. Most of the Sectoids ran onto the street. Presumably without looking both ways. Martians.

Two things here: First is the obvious collection of Meld. Second though is some more HUD 101: The number of aliens a soldier can see is indicated in the bottom right corner. So the soldier I am currently selecting, Leah Brown, can see two aliens. Just above that though, we can actually see the cover for another soldier I have. It's a yellow shield. What's up with that?

Yellow represents flanked. That is, they have cover but it is worthless there. A soldier with no cover is just as guarded as a flanked soldier.

Some more notions of tactics: height, range, and statistics. Statistics I'll talk about once the mission is over.

Height is very key though to battles. Everybody who's played a TBT game likely knows that having the high ground is important. No different in X-COM - the higher up you are, the easier time you have shooting downhill. Here, we can see I'm being given a 20% hit chance bonus for it.

Range is also a consideration. All weapons have an effective range and going in adverse conditions makes hitting harder. Short ranged weapons, like pistols and shotguns, disperse very quickly and dealing damage outside of 10 squares away is a challenge. Semi automatic rifles are typically mid-range and are good in most situations...Sniper Rifles and Marksman rifles have interesting properties though. They suffer a significant short-range penalty but get more ACCURATE as they get further away.

Cover obviously plays a role to prevent getting hit. As does angle of attack, as my settings above indicated.

I've opened up the chance to hit details aiming at one of the Sectoid here.

And the result is one dead alien.

Part of the alien combat strategy is gun control. Any alien weapon will explode into pieces upon owner death. Well, alien owner. So I can't pick up their weapons and use them...I can only take them back to base.

I blame Michael Bay.

Another aspect is that we collect the corpses of dead aliens. Every alien killed by non-explosive means (Grenades, rockets) will be hauled back onto transport and brought to base.

I can only imagine the fun when the waves are 30 enemies at a time.

Here's another example of accuracy. Note how much worse it is when I have so many issues stacked against me (full cover, no elevation bonus).

Here's the overhead of what I'm dealing with. You can see the Sectoid, in red, is pretty well surrounded from three different angles. I've got two soldiers in Overwatch and enough ready to pick it off.

With Garcia, I've opted to use a Steady Weapon on his turn. This is an option only on some weapons, mostly semi-automatic rifles and sniper rifles. It allows a soldier to use a turn to increase their accuracy for their next attack only (and only if they don't move).

Our scared little friend here starts shooting up. Good luck with that, buddy.

The start of the next turn looks like the below. We can see the other Sectoid is visible and in Overwatch mode. The easy solution is to kill that since the one outside of overwatch cannot act on my turn.

Thankfully I did get a hit on the other Sectoid and Red Fog activates to limit its combat prowess. He misses and I face the same situation next turn.

I get a hit this time though and the Overwatch Sectoid is down.

Another elevated shot gets the injured Sectoid.

Now things have calmed down. I love having war in three-dimensions so I've put another soldier on the roof.

One more mechanic pops up as I move: reloading.

As I climb across the building, I see some things run into the shadows.

And then more of them show up.

Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
Shameless Self-Plug - Updated May 30 - A Letter to a Younger Me – Anime Edition
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Old 11-18-2014, 09:20 AM   #4
I won't go 'til it's over
kirant's Avatar
Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Operation Driving Priest, Part 2
Spoiler: show
The Sectoids start firing on their turn. Thankfully they're Sectoids.

Below is two things: first, it's an overview of the battlefield. Second, you can see the Sectoid glowing. They have the ability to Mind Merge. For one turn, a Sectoid powers up another Sectoid. The strong one now gets an accuracy bonus, 1 HP regenerated, and 1 higher maximum HP. This can be used as a slow healing mechanic (ex - A Sectoid with 1/3 HP gets Mind Merged. It now has 2/4 HP until next turn...then 2/3 next turn). It is often used as a way to reduce the number of at-risk Sectoids. Dirty cowards.

This has a considerable drawback though - killing the Sectoid that used Mind Merge while it's still in effect will also damage the powered up Sectoid. It takes damage and loses its bonuses. Good application of this can provide 2 kills at once.

Back to war though. Joshua Pierce grabs some Meld.

Then I ask him to lob an HE grenade. HE grenades, of the three available to start, are the only ones to deal damage to the environment as well as enemies. It typically will destroy softer terrain but doens't deal a great amount of soldier damage.

Similarly, I use an AP Grenade. AP Grenades draw lines out from their point of impact and damage any unit that isn't protect by cover from that location. It's a terrific anti-troop weapon...but struggles in heavy terrain and against heavy armoured opponents.

On my turn, I suspect the Sectoids will try to push their numbers advantage to gaining the upper ground. So I put extra precautions against them getting any traction there (see the Overwatch).

The Sectoids indeed show the same by targetting my high elevation soldiers.

And then crawling one up a pipe. He promptly gets shot. Overwatch is useful that way.

Here's an example of the Mind Merge...the one of the back is powering up one that I can't see.

And here's where it stands: No area has changed hands yet but the Sectoid numbers are thinning. I have a roof advantage and can shoot across the street to the far right Sectoids.

I also consider opening up a slight pincer maneuver. I send Edyta Malinowska (who?) through the building we're fighting by. The idea is that she can get inside and flank the hidden Sectoid.

Meanwhile, nothing much has changed on the main battle. Very few bullets hit...but I do manage to get the one hiding on the far right side to die.

But this is X-COM. The RNG is not your friend here. The single Sectoid in the area shoots, dealing 5 (of a 6 HP soldier) to Malinowska.

Soldiers who take damage or are intimidated face Panic checks. Panic is measured by willpower. If they fail the check, they Panic...Panic soldiers either Hunker Down or run and cannot be controlled for at least one turn. The biggest risk with Panic is that it can also spread: if a single soldier panics, especially if they're higher ranking than their allies, other soldiers may risk panicing as well.

Hunkering Down is an interesting move as it's both good and bad. A Hunkering soldier has very limited vision and cannot shoot...but has much greater damage prevention and utilizes their terrain defence far more. It's a decent way to keep soldiers alive if need be. Manually calling it may save lives.

Aid comes though and saves her from the scary Sectoid that hit her.

That's it, right?


Nope. One snuck behind and came next turn to flank our already injured soldier.

Grenades destroy more of this place and clear it of any cover...then it does from another shot.

Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
Shameless Self-Plug - Updated May 30 - A Letter to a Younger Me – Anime Edition

Last edited by kirant; 11-18-2014 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 11-18-2014, 09:24 PM   #5
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
I screwed something up:

Operation Driving Priest, Debrief
Spoiler: show
Every mission ends with a list of soldiers, their career stats (Missions, kills), the damage dealt to them, and any promotions available.

Any soldier on mission is automatically Fatigued. They can do another mission while fatigued but will be injured after (just as if they suffered a wound). We can see that the laser blasts did a number on Malinowska...but nothing lethal. This time.

Another aspect of Debriefing is net gains. We get Weapon Fragments from any weapons that self-destructed, corpses from killed aliens, meld from the cannisters we found, and this time some new research opportunities.

There are a lot of things to cover at Central HQ...

New Soldier Promotions!
Spoiler: show
I'll cover soldiers first.

For anybody who asks for a custom soldier, I've made them in the order I get them approximate order that is. I don't feel like randomizing promotions too much. Once I'm done that, or the soldier is unviable for requested soldiers, I'll use my own OC characters that I've accumulated over my writing projects. If they reach the second tier of promotions, I'll put in a short comment on them.

The first one is a Medic. Medics have the Field Medic ability. This brands them a support class for life. Every soldier has 2 accessory slots. In these slots, you can place a Medipack in there, good for 1 heal. Every time a Medic equips one though...they are fielded with enough for 3 heals. That is to say, you can pack up to 6 heals on one Medic.

Snipers are given the Squadsight ability by default. Normally, a soldier can only shoot things they can see. Snipers automatically gain the ability to shoot at any enemy with a direct line of sight with them. You could, in theory, park the Sniper on the high point of a flat map and hit anything you want.

Now come the requested character. Today's theme: Soldiers from other media. Apparently.

Rocketeers get the Fire Rocket ability, which gives them a Rocket Launcher in their secondary weapon slot. And gives them the ability to equip further rockets as accessories...such as Shredder Rockets, Rockets that temporarly grant the targets hit a debuff that deals extra damage to them.

Infantry have the Light 'em Up ability. This lets you use both moves as a shoot action instead of ending the unit's turn after shooting. Basically, if you have a situation where the Infantry has no reason to move, you can squeeze off two attacks. This is much better than it sounds.

We also have a Hanger. Hangers store our Interceptors. Interceptors...intercept UFOs. The Air War over Earth is a huge part of the battle. Which is why I keep renaming my pilots until they have funny names.

The Barracks
Spoiler: show
Here's the key data on each soldier. All stats typically increase as they get more promotions.

The number by the cross is base HP. Beside that is base mobility. Any soldier will have approximately that as its maximum move in a single turn (a non-dashing move being about half that distance in squares). Additional weight from weapons will drop that further.

The number right of the brain is willpower. Think of it like a "mental" stat. This is the chance of psychological attacks working on the soldier, the ability for them to use psychic attacks back, and the ability for them to keep cool while under attack and not panic.

THe next number is accuracy. This is, baring all else, how likely them shooting will it.

The final number is base defence. This is, baring all else, how much they will affect attacks on them. A high defence will result in a lower chance of being hit.

The Idiots I Work With
Spoiler: show
First is CO Bradshaw. He runs the military side of the base...or something. He's a terrible commander and (if you play the tutorial) gets three people killed in a small room. Yeah. But he gets better as time goes on. And he's typically what prevents my research and engineering teams from killing each other.

Next is Dr. Vahlen, a women of impossible to recognize accent. It's slightly German but her German is terrible and easily her second language.

She's also the most terrifying of the three. She manages to get any live capture alien to talk. I don't know how since they never actually survive the interrogations. Anyways, she does does research. I'll just leave it at that and avoid talking to her too much since I don't want to be the next "volunteer" for her next project...

The research lab has Scientists to help Dr. Vahlen out. The more Scientits I have, the fast her research goes. I ask her to first determine what these aliens are composed of.

Finally, there is Dr. Shen. He's the man who apparently built the first AI. He's actually probably the nicest guy in the game...most of his dialogue is about concern over the ethical issues of war. He frequently comments how the aliens cross boundaries and how he wants humanity to not take the direction they have chosen. But he does what he does well...and that's make equipment so I can keep up in an arms race.

Much like Dr. Vahlen has scientists, Dr. Shen has Engineers helping him. They help him conduct projects (which need a certain number of Engineers to even attempt) and assist the speed at which our devices can be built.

Dr. Shen is also in control of X-COM HQ's construction. Little did you know that the HQ is underground. It is very limited to start and I must spend money building it up. You have to balance energy consumption and energy production, among other things, to keep the base running smoothly.

My first step is to increase our satellite coverage. With more coverage I can stop more undesired UFO attacks. BUt more satellite coverage requires more satellite uplink faclities to read the data. So I do that.

The Rest of the Building
Spoiler: show
Here is the situation room. The red bars near the centre represent how many countries are out of the X-COM project. If that fills out, game's over. Earth loses. Go home.

Along the left and right side represent the funding nations. If they have a green satellite beside them (see: Japan), I can see UFOs over them and attempt to intercept them. Above that is how much money they give me per month...adjusting for terror. On that note, Terror is measured in the 5 bare below each country's name. If that bar fills up (which occurs due to not completing missions for them and stuff like that), the country is unable to support the X-COM project and withdraws. Every month, the satellite coverage decreases terror in a nation by one full bar of the 5.

Between the two is an empty shield. Sometimes nations will request sale of some of my equipment. Selling it fills that up and increases the nation's ability to defend itself.

There is also a Gray Market. Apparently people want our crap. I can sell it for money...though virtually everything I collect can be put to use by X-COM selling can sometimes be a bad idea.

And this is the main screen where I watch the world turn. As I scan for activity, time passes until another alien incident occurs.

And this is where I will wait most of the time.


Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
Shameless Self-Plug - Updated May 30 - A Letter to a Younger Me – Anime Edition

Last edited by kirant; 11-18-2014 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:20 AM   #6
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
People, Stop Telling Me To Sell Satellites
Spoiler: show
So, I mentioned before that the member nations of the X-COM project sometimes ask me for stuff. Well, here's the first offer.

This is the basic outline of a request. There is no penalty for failing it (just letting the time limit expire) but completing them will offer the reward listed as well as allow the nation to better defend itself (a function I'm not aware of how the inner details of). As you'd likely guess, I'll likely not complete this one as Satellites are valuable resources.

The rewards come in one of four forms though:
- Engineers for Dr. Shen
- Scientists for Dr. Vahlen
- Money
- A soldier from the country, typically reasonably levelled

I was writing my rejection letter, then this happened:

Alien Abductions are the standard alien attack form. These are typically shorter missions and easier. On map, they can be identified by the green humans lying around. There is no time limit on them (meld canisters aside) and you just need to beat up a few aliens to get through it. Failure to stop an abduction is minimal, a small terror bump, and even ignoring it really isn't a bad thing.

That said, I'll always take on Abductions unless I suspect a more serious mission is on the horizon.

After being alerted to a mission type, you'll be told where it is. Note that in comparison to the original X-COM game, the Long War mod reduces the number of simultaneous abductions from 3 to 1. This coincides with the fact that Enemy Unknown only offers you one Skyranger (a VTOL troop transport) and that you can't take on two threats at once.

This screen lets you the mission location (often to very specific cities - I've seen Calgary, Canada for example). the panic level of the country (to let you access the damage associated with not stopping it), and the reward the nation offers. It's virtually always money.

Once I accept the mission, I have to pick my 6 soldiers. The top left "Area of Operations", an idea unique to newer Long War mod updates, lets me know what I should pack to deal with the situation. For example, the close quarters, if I see it later, likely means I won't bring a Sniper that needs a lot of set up with me.

I've chosen to bring a lot of rookies to level more of them up. I also brought Flor with me because medics are always useful. While they can't prevent the injury and recovery time, they can stop the Red Fog issues from creeping in.

So off the Skyranger takes off. It's the first of many times we'll see it leave. Sometimes it'll return with fewer men than before. It might not even return with any. But the day is young and those are concerns for another time.

Once over the site of operation, you've got one last chance to chicken out.

Nobody calls me chicken.

Operation Spectral Spark, Part 1 - Even Aliens Want McDonald's
Spoiler: show

We land. It's quite a nice evening. I'll have to ask others from Brazil if it's always this nice.

First thing I notice on this map: this is certainly a McDonald's rip-off. If you look later you'll see a fairly close to trademark 24 hour sign.

Second thing I notice: man, Brazilians are calm. All these aliens attacked and not one car crash. Nerves of steel man. Nerves of steel.

On the tactical side, I'm close to a pipe that soldiers can climb to get on the roof. You know me. That'll be where some of them go.

Remember when they said I'd be making near instant contact? Well I found out they weren't kidding. Two moves in and I've spotted some Sectoids munching on fries.

An alien's gotta eat, right?

I'll take a step back to explain some of the differences in weapon types (which I did in the character submission aspect but I didn't explain elsewhere) - most soldiers auto-equip Assault Rifles. But I've specifically given Flor an SMG. SMGs have less ammo, less range, and do less damage than the Assault Rifle. Below you can see the damage isn't impressive. But they are also very light so I can manoeuvre her around the map much better than other troops. Which is what I want as (spoilers) I'll be making Flor a very dedicated cleric. Medic. Whatever.

The aliens didn't do much on there turn and this is what things looked like after. They pulled an Overwatch to force me to stay still while keeping that cover. I would suspect they're holding on until reinforcements come. On my side, I've focused my soldiers on a two-part attack - one above and one head on. Also, there's two guys parked on the opposite side to prevent a complete flanking.

Now I do something here that's ALWAYS scary until I get enough promoted soldiers - I expose myself to an Overwatch attack. It's fairly low risk but I intentionally run a soldier through the field to allow the Sectoid to shoot at him. This removes his single Overwatch and, with no other ones in that mode, allows me to move with impunity. But he's also fairly exposed and shots will generally be in the 4+ damage range when I do this. So you can see the risk I've taken.

Thankfully, he missed.

And lands a kill in retaliation.

To deal with the other Sectoid I see, I try to start a fire. No, literally. The cars in this game are Fallout cars or something - they are prone to exploding a turn after hitting them with an HE grenade. It didn't work in this case.

Instead, I use Flor again. It may sound strange sending a medic to the front of the battle but I'll also note that all soldier stats improve every promotion they take…so Flor actually is a better fighter than everyone else at the moment. Just has non-ideal long range equipment.

Side note - I haven't played with these new weapons before so that new bullet animation is great and quite a lot of fun.

Things fall silent. So silent that I can hear meld.

Then I start moving to the other side of the building and lo and behold - more Sectoids scatter.

I use this image for you to understand where they are - they ran back from the end of the drivethrough lane I was marching up. One is still visible but just barely.

I've mentioned before aliens call for backup if they feel they're in trouble. I caught this Sectoid doing just that. Every alien has a different animation for it (Sectoids rear back and make a "clicking" noise) and you'll often hear soldiers chatter over it (in this case, "They're trying to fall back!").

So very little has changed. Except one Sectoid snuck into the McDonald's. I'm sorry guys. They're closed.

Also, who the hell keeps an ATM in the drivethrough?

The exposed Sectoid dies very quickly while I start bombarding the other one with Grenades.

The Sectoid shifts over to get better cover.

Now I realize "This is a bank, not a restaurant". I feel like an idiot.

Also, remember that other Sectoid calling for help? His friends finally came by. And promptly noped the fuck out.

Operation Spectral Spark, Part 2 - To Do: Stand Around, Die
Spoiler: show
This mission basically turns into slaughter after.

That nopeing (noping?) I mentioned? Half the Sectoids are exposed. And die. Fast.

Heck, the one inside the bank doesn't even stand a chance as I get a soldier to sprint behind it.

The last Sectoid craps itself. If it could. I'm not even sure how those things eat…

Another flank attack is in order - I just charge up, grab the meld, kill it, an call it a day. Obvious hax is obvious though - look at the aim bot skill he has.


Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:21 AM   #7
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Operation Spectral Spark, Debrief
Spoiler: show
Not much to say - done by the book and executed perfectly that mission. No injuries, nothing.

New Soldiers. I Feel Like A Kid At Christmas!
Spoiler: show
I'll show a different option in the skill tree here - if you don't like the two options your recruit has for promotion, you can pick a random subclass for them to join. Now I did something here I'm not too proud of and that's savescum. In order to fit all the requested soldiers, I randomized until I got the subclass I wanted for the males.

The female promotion, on the other hand, was completely random.

So I got an insane guy here. I'm pretty sure that the damage output is a bit insane. They suggest Battle Rifles aren't for fresh soldiers but I think the backup damage options more than make up for that. The reason is that Engineers get the Grenadiers skill to start which gives an additional Grenade each time they allot an accessory for Grenades. So, instead of 1 Grenade, they are outfitted with another.

One soldier became a Gunner. Gunners are given Suppression to start. This is a skill I love to use. Suppression uses additional ammo but locks down an enemy by aimless fire. If the enemy moves, they are shot at. The enemy also gets a severe accuracy penalty (I think -30% chance to hit).

This Gunner also wields an LMG which makes him a hybrid Sniper/Gunner. LMGs cannot move and shoot but also confer the Squadsight perk that Snipers start with. Though unlike Sniper Rifles, they can't shoot across the map.

Our final soldier apparently is named after some guy on a TV show. He's a bulky Sniper though so that is nice…especially when we contrast my first Sniper, who is light and fairly frail. I gave him a Battle Scanner which temporarily maps out an area of the map. Tactical knowledge is key quite often.

Daily Life
Spoiler: show
As I write this, I realized I never toured you along the main menu of the X-COM HQ. Well, here it is. It isn't called "The Anthill" without reason. We live underground and we expand deeper.

Of cool note on this is the fact that we can see soldiers in the barracks side. I'll take pictures every once in a while since I think we'll see named soldiers on hhere every once in a while…

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Old 11-22-2014, 07:52 AM   #8
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
No. No Satellites For You. Stop Asking.
Spoiler: show
Apparently my APB wasn't noted. Satellites are not for sale, guys. The calls were ended with phone smashing.

I now owe X-COM 200 dollars.

Anyways, Harbin is under attack. For those interested, Harbin actually is a northern territory in China. It also, incidentally has very little water in the area (only a single river), making the terrain for this battle kind of unlikely.

Here's my troop deployment rationale: I still need lots of promoted soldiers. As in, bad. I need enough that I can get several good rotations of battle hardened soldiers and effective skills at my beck and call. Tannen is about the only other available soldier with a Medikit at the ready. And that's all there is to it.

Funny thought: As I was typing of this, I was thinking of an "and again" quote. But all I could think of was a Danganronpa Fan Fiction. I feel so stupid.

Incidentally, it's an excellent story though. If you've beaten the game, I'd give it a read. And not just because my personal favourite pretty much takes centre stage.

Operation Vengeful Crone, Part 1 - I Hate The Naming Team
Spoiler: show
Seriously. What the hell is up with their name choices? Vengeful Crone. At least it's not the worst I've seen. Operation Vengeful Vengeance once occurred. And Operation Hot Mother.

Be right back. Getting brain bleach.

Well…at least I know they weren't kidding when they said it was water heavy as a map. Landing, I can see the battlefield is a strip of land surrounded by water on both sides. This basically means my advance has to be straight forward.

I don't know why…but I decided the best course of action was to march up the right side…up the boat.

Also, my soldier is named Raul Castro. I have an 84 year old soldier.


FML a second time. Sectoids.

Oh. Wait. That's not so bad.

I'll stop here and present the advantages of a Sniper in the roster. This map is one of the two situations where Snipers really thrive. This map has long unperturbed corridors of shooting. I can leave a Sniper in the back of the formation and take advantage of the Sniper Rifle's increasing accuracy over a range. Where other soldiers need to get close, I can camp a Sniper in the corner and pick of enemies with ease.

By the way, soldiers with Squadsight, the Sniper talent and the one given by LMGs, have a unique portrait. An alien target with crosshairs over it means that the targeting is specifically given by the Squadsight ability.

But what about the Sectoids? I figure right now the best thing to do is expose them. I lob a grenade at them. On a boat. It goes as well as you expect for all the wrong reasons (namely, it fails to destroy the terrain I want it to).

There is thankfully one in the open and it dies a quick death.

The other two get their turns since everybody sucks at aiming. And they fail to hit anything. Let this be a lesson kids: never bring pistols to a full out firefight.

Did I mention that their turn had more Sectoids walk into the fight? No? My bad. Well, that's 5 Sectoids to manage now. And Overwatch was no help. Friggin' A Team.

So this is where we are: 4 Sectoids in the building to the left, one hiding in the boat to the right.

I told you before that Sniper hold the line in these sorts of fights though. Well, them, Infantry, and Gunners. But I didn't bring any of the last two.

My first thought was that there is excellent terrain inside that building to take advantage of. It prevents me from letting the Sectoids flank (the door closest to us is locked) and reduces that chance of both sides hitting. So I clear out a Sectoid.

And for a Sniper, that's an easy one hit kill. If it hits.

That gives me space to start moving soldiers into the area.

The rest of the turn is a disappointment. And the Sectoids decide to pull out all the stops.

So that's 6 Sectoids.

I think I mentioned before that Sectoids specialize in mental warfare. Well, their signature attack is Mindfray. Being hit deals 1 damage and damages mobility, morale, and accuracy for a turn.

And that's just a taste of their power.

Operation Vengeful Crone, Part 2 - Things Sectoids Shouldn't Do: Fight
Spoiler: show
So, here's where we're at. My basic plan right now is to hold onto what I've got in the building while making a move up the right-side boat. That gives me the ability to flank whatever's inside. That involves making a mess out of the Sectoid in the boat. Sorry, Dr. Vahlen, but tactical advantage takes top priority.

I mentioned before that accuracy takes a huge tumble with Mindfray. Here's a look how bad it is:

The good news is that Sectoids are still cowards. Instead of trying to overwhelm my position (something they actually might be able to do), they keep two Sectoids back and just buff two Sectoids.

That doesn't meant they aren't getting smarter…kind of. They started activating Suppression, which I've noted before is a very useful skill.

But I still hold my trump card here in the right side. This comes paying off immensely. From there I have free flanked shots on Sectoids. That's two kills.

In the meantime, I heal off that…mental damage? WTF?

So this is where the few turns leave me: I have breathing distance now. Ammo is a little scarce so reloading is a key function. But at least I've got a foothold. Which the Sectoids don't like. Thankfully they're not very good at their job.

Actually, this is where Snipers come in handy again. This distance works wonders on their accuracy. And their high powered rifles are very useful here.

I also learned that Sectoids have webbed hands.

The Sectoid on the far left of the map dies from lucky fire. This leaves a couple Sectoids. And a fairly advantageous situation.

Which the RNG gods don't like so they have to balance things out a little.

But morale is low throughout the enemies and they start to flee. Or reposition. I don't know which. It's their screw up either way.

And that leaves one easy to flank Sectoid.


Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
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Old 11-22-2014, 07:52 AM   #9
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Operation Vengeful Crone, Debrief
Spoiler: show
I feel a bit bad that Immenkamp is injured. But outside that, things went pretty well.

I re-rolled most of the soldiers.

The first is a new Infantry. I like this plan.

The next is a Scout. Scouts are probably my first attempt to defeat Overwatch since their ability is Lightning Reflexes, which lets them reduce the accuracy of most Overwatch attacks against them to near 0%.

And another Gunner.

Ooh. And an Assault. Assaults are the all-or-nothing class with a skill that highlights that. Run and Gun lets them move their full distance (Dashing distance) and shoot. This skill easily lets them reach positions no others can but also means that they are likely out of position if they fail to kill their targets. Fast attack but an even faster death if that's screwed up.

Of note: all that money I just earned went into further construction.


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Old 11-24-2014, 09:21 AM   #10
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
This Is (Not) Normal Life
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Good news everyone! Our new Fission Generator is online.

Later that night, I was awoken from my hangover/mid-day nap/day off when the Satellite in Japan detected a UFO. They decide to, creatively, name it UFO-1.

UFO encounters are a core aspect of the X-COM mission as you're expected to engage your enemy in the sky and on the ground. You have much less control over aerial combat but you must still scramble interceptors and attempt to keep pace. Shooting down UFOs makes the ground issues a lot easier. Conversely, getting dominated in air wars will likely mean your satellites are getting shot down. And that's bad.

There is a lot of detail here so I'll try to explain each part: The location is obvious except for the bracketed part. That is their altitude. Typically a lower ship represents one ready to engage in ground operations. A higher one is more likely to concern your satellite coverage. Intercepting lower air ones often results in less ground issues while higher ones are more to prevent you from losing viewing the world. That is to say, satellites over a nation allows you to see UFO activity in that region and allows you to attempt an interception prior to them landing.

UFOs come in a vast variety of sizes, small to extra-large. The difficulty, armour, speed, and firepower of each ship varies based on how you expect. This is a small ship, so it's likely very fragile.

There are also a lot of different classes. Some are scouts, some are battleships, and the most concerning ones are extra-large ships at very low altitude. They don't stop for anything. You'll see the why for that in the future.

I have the option of calling out fighters. So I do. I send out "Bender". Interceptors also have experience ranks: the more they shoot down, the better they are at UFO combat. I also can outfit them with different weapons (the default being "Avalanche Missiles", a weapon with decent shot rate but is outclassed fairly quick) as well as suggest attack patterns…defensive, balanced, or offensive.

So I talked to Bender and he told me this.

Now I don't know why I trusted him with this task. But he went anyways.

If your interceptor manages to get into combat range with a UFO, you'll be greeted with a very simple combat screen. It shows a 2D figure of your fighter engaging a 2D UFO. They'll fire blobs at each other until a limited time frame expires ("Window of engagement") or one of the two dies…or you call an end to your interceptor's attack. That last one is most common.

You can see the timer in the centre, the damage to my interceptor in the bottom left (red equalling bad, of course), and the hits to each unit as orange bubbles.

They've changed Avalanche Missiles since I last played. I swear that's a good 4-5 hits and still no shoot down.

I called "Bender" back after those hits.

As part of this aspect, damaged interceptors also require repair time. Bender will need 19 days to fix the holes punched through it.

But I know there's a weakened UFO out there so I go for the throat. I send out "King" Kong.

But the UFO runs as my interceptor approaches. And I see this.

The aliens are it seems.

Fighters who do not take damage/do not engage in an enemy need to refuel and that's it. They have 1 hour before they're ready for engaging UFOs again.

So I figure things are all normal. Of course they're not though.

Argentina decides that my aerial incompetence is enough reason to stop funding me.

Well, if all the countries are this sensitive, we're boned.

(Side note - this is perfectly normal. The way Long War adjusted certain mechanics, you need to have a nation leave the X-COM project).

And not long after that, Australia starts begging for help.

At least I can deal with that.

Operation Vengeful Fog, Part 1 - Vengeance! (Custom Characters: Merumi)
Spoiler: show

You know, when they said this was an urban area, they weren't kidding.

This map gives us an ice cream store and…bar? Okay.

Well, let's head to the ice cream store. We all like ice cream, right?

And first move in…

Damn. Well, I guess aliens love their ice cream too.

I move my team very specifically to engage this. Keep this in mind the next few lines. The cover is focused forward though I send Finn Fisher, who I might add has a great name, to cover the bar side.

Well, the Sectoids call for help. And this becomes ALL THE HELP at once.

Remember Finn Fisher? Well, he spots hostiles and blindly fires. That's coming from my flank.

Then they bring in a new enemy, Drones.

Drones are an introductory level enemy. Thankfully. They primarily serve to assist other mechanical units which appear later but also have a slight combat role. First, they provide a third-dimension to combat. They automatically fly so they can achieve any elevation they want. Remember how I said higher enemies have hit/evade bonuses? Well, they get them.

Drones also repair enemy mechanical units. And that's their big role. The most dangerous enemy in the game is mechanical and they are already tough to kill. Drones just make things worse.

The good news is that Drones are fragile and can't take more than a couple hits. And as flying units, they don't get terrain-based evade buffs.

But, we're still in trouble. On one edge, we've got a wave of 6 hostile and presumably hungry aliens.

And right on the edge of getting flanked shots are two other Sectoids.

This is when I start calling a pull back. Not a full retreat, but closing the formation enough that flanking is not an issue. Thankfully Merumi is in the right spot and can take advantage of Squadsight and an LMG to start hammering anything that moves. Also note that everything I have Merumi do on this mission did not take a single reload. LMGs have tonnes of ammo.

First, he goes after a Drone. He also destroys the door in the process :/.

On a side note, I see an ice cream cow wizard there. WTF Australia?

With the rest of the soldiers, I close ranks. This is where I'm at.

The Drones start moving since, you know, they don't give a crap about surviving. So they start tanking shots. Poorly.

One thing I should have mentioned before is that Rookies (redshirts) are very poor in terms of Willpower. Mindfray did a number that turn.

So this is the situations: We've got two soldiers cowering while the rest need to fend off a good number of Sectoids (and one Drone) all in poorly drawn cover. As the designers put it: That's X-COM, baby.

And, of course, the Sectoids know it's a decent mental war. So they keep doing that. How the hell does that kill you anyways?

It's my turn again. I have 6 soldiers. I keep four on this left front near the store while sending a second soldier to assist Fisher who keeps freaking the fuck out.

This is when I start bringing out the toys. I use Suppression on the Sectoid I see. I will note that Suppression also chews up twice as much ammo as regular shots. But in this case, I don't mind since it's an LMG and, heck, if that Sectoid does nothing, I'm happy.

The right side is doing alright. Sectoids are kept at a distance.

The left side? Well, that's not going nearly as well.


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