Thursday, October 20, 2016

XCOM 2 AAR - We're on fire!

It's guerrilla ops time! Same mission as last op; aliens have an unsecured terminal up. Go in, grab the data we need before they lock us out, and make sure all hostiles in the immediate area are eliminated. The battlefield today is a small town out in the suburbs, with a large group of aliens on one side of a small bookstore, and us on the other. I hope he has insurance, because that store isn't going to survive the fight.

The team sets up, hidden from the alien squad, and Lovenought begins the ambush with a cute little trick on his modified GREMLIN: set off a large discharge, potentially stunning and damaging any foes within reach of the blast.

That little machine is a beast. The uninjured soldier rushes towards us and is met with a rather unhealthy sight:

Boom! Headshot! Gedierond gets a kill with his first shot.  Culise takes up a forward position and grenades the wounded trio, killing the trooper and viper, leaving the archon disoriented and horribly wounded. Susanne is forced to retreat from the roof by a surprisingly nimble heavy MEC bearing down on her.  The aliens aren't able to do much besides fire suppression fire down on the newbie. We're that well setup. Hyme can't get a good shot from her position, so instead opts for a grenade on the MEC to damage and distract it.

Whatever this shop was selling, it's clearly out of business now. Susanne gets her revenge on the poor MEC with a burst from her cannon, finishing it off. Lovenought misses his shot on the disoriented archon, but Gedierond lands his second shot for a second kill. That's the first group down. Next to destroy is the restaurant holding our target. Susanne spots the next patrol, two sectoids and an andromedon having tea or something. Culise blows out the side of the restaurant with an acid grenade, shredding the armor off the andromedon and exploding the gas tank injuring him further.

But the hulking thing is far from dead and manages a brutal bunch on his aggressor. Her anger and pain prevent the first sectoid from messing with her mind, and the second does his ol resurrection parlor trick. Fires everywhere, Hyme lands a quick pistol shot on the andromedon, killing the alien but leaving the suit still intact. Gedierond lands a grenade on the nearby sectoid, destroying the rock it was using for cover. Gaius fires two shots into the andromedon, but fails to kill it. Hyme finishes it off with her rifle, then kills the wounded sectoid with her pistol, which also ends the puppeted soldier. The last sectoid is held down with suppressive fire from Susanne, giving Culise a chance to outflank and kill it.

A squad of reinforcements comes to try and salvage the situation, but we've already gotten our information with a rough hack from Gedierond. The elite trooper drops down and is immediately killed by Susanne and Hyme. The accompanying shieldbearer drops from Lovenought and Gedierond's combined fire, leaving only an unwounded heavy MEC to contend with. Lovenought has it handled though and easily executes the machine. All that's left is to find the last remaining patrol and deal with them. Preferably without taking any damage from the numerous fires we've started. Or the fumes of deadly acid we dropped that are currently eating through the roof of the restaurant.

Gaius's stealthy movements let her spot the new patrol undetected. Two soldiers and an archon, taking a stroll through the nearby woods. Apparently not understanding that the smoke and fire in the distance means they should probably be helping.

Susanne enlightens them as to why they should have helped by firing her rocket from a far-off defensive position. (And starts a forest fire). Lovenought easily handles the soldier on the left, while Gedierond gets his first miss of the day firing on the archon, missing and setting the fridge on fire. Culise makes his shot though and brings it down. Susanne seems angry, using a strong grenade to obliterate the last soldier.

I have a feeling Smoky the bear would be very ashamed of us right now, if he weren't already dead from the alien invasion. Sixteen aliens dead and a town and forest on fire, we head home for the day.

Back at base, life is boring. The science team is still waiting for enough supplies to start researching the psionic gate we brought back, or for additional corpses to carve up. Shen lacks the resources to use our new weapons tech to build weapons for the team, but does manage to construct a new suit of armor from the leftover bits and pieces we have in storage.

The wraith suit. Less armored than the warden suits the rest of the team prefers, it does contain an interesting "Screw you physics" device that lets the wearer phase through solid objects. Should come in handy. Shen also attached a grappling hook to the suit for maximum mobility. Will be handy for any additional missions.

Such as the new rescue the VIP mission that Mr. Mysterious now has for us.

Monday, October 17, 2016

XCOM 2 AAR - Chryssalids!

That mission done, we've bought ourselves some time on stopping the alien's AVATAR project. I certainly want to investigate the coordinates we found in the last codex brain, but Tygan has sent news that he's almost finished with a new type of plasma weapon and we do find ourselves with a fair amount of supplies on hand for a weapons upgrade. I can't resist a good new weapon.

He gives me an even better surprise: not only does he have a new sniper plasma rifle, but also a plasma pistol and a fusion sword. Those should all come in hand for future missions.

Our waiting does give the aliens time to launch another retaliation strike against the resistance, so off the team goes to stop them. The new weapons are perfect for this kind of mission, and I send two each of the rangers and snipers. The area we land in is typical for the resistance: lots of trees and good cover, away from any population center, and with most of it burning. Seems like they even have a bug infestation this time around:

Chryssalids. Bradford tells me of them when he fought them occasionally after my capture. Their claws are quite sharp, able to cut through armor with a fair amount of ease, and they reproduce by killing humans and injecting their larva into the corpse, creating a zombie that will eventually mutate into a new chryssalid. I'd think he was pulling my leg if I thought he had a sense of humor. Lucky for us, we're heavily armed and our armor should be capable of withstanding at least one blow from these bugs.

JCan starts the battle with a grenade into their group, as they for some reason decided on sticking together. The entire battle seems a bit different this time around, as both Gaius and Van Wezel are quite skilled with melee combat, wading into the fray and each getting a kill. Culise follows up with cannon fire to kill the final beast. A fourth chryssalid comes from out of the darkness. Health manages a glancing blow on it with her pistol, followed up with a second for a kill. A wandering soldier and heavy mec come around the corner, but we're ready for them. Health fires three pistol shots into the soldier, easily killing him. (Don't ask me how the new pistols fire so quickly)

Gaius shoots twice into the heavy mec, weakening it enough for a plasma blade slash from Van Wezel to kill it. Another chryssalid appears and slashes at him, but he dodges. Spyhawk shoots from his perch but the darned thing is too nimble for him to get a solid shot in. Culise tries the same but his cumbersome weapon isn't quick enough. The beast can't dodge quick enough for JCan though.

In a blasted out church is a horrid sight: two ADVENT soldiers, a heavy mec, and a chryssalid attacking a civilian. If Bradford is to be believed, that means zombie time. The mec advances towards us and JCan gets two good shots in, but the mec's armor holds. A grenade from Culise and a pistol shot from Health later and it goes down. The grenade also removed cover from the heavily armored shieldbearer, giving Spyhawk the opportunity for a well-placed head shot. Gaius takes down the nearby chryssalid, and JCan manages a good shot on the remaining soldier.

Spent, we wait for the upcoming zombie. Instead, what pops out is a very quick, very angry baby chryssalid which promptly starts tearing away at Van Wezel. JCan heals him up, reports that the poison from the baby was also cured, and then shoots it dead. Poison? Baby chryssalids? Time to uncover what's going on over there. I have Van Wezel toss a grenade in and destroy the cover blocking our view of the dead body.

That...does not look like a zombie. Gaius and Culise both burn the cocoon out with heavy fire. No more baby chryssalids for us. Off in the distance we hear the sounds of mimics transforming. Why are these aliens so disgusting?

Out from behind JCan comes the mimic, ready for a strong swipe at him. JCan has his weapon ready, and his aim is true, but these things are too tough even for a plasma rifle.  Thankfully, Spyhawk is watching and his aim is also true, bringing the alien down before it can do any damage. The other mimic targets Gaius, but she's experienced with melee combat and easily able to dodge the cumbersome blow. Van Wezel cuts at the the thing with his blade and even manages to set it on fire, but it stays standing long enough to get cut down with cannon fire from Culise.

9/13 civilians saved. Our best record yet. Why Bradford is so scared of these things, I don't know. The mission went so well, I have the team suit up for another mission, with a few replacements.

The coordinates lead to a rather lonely looking place in the middle of the Asian desert. With what looks like purple psionic rain. Something seems fishy here. We land near an abandoned house, inside of which is a group of three chryssalids standing near the gas container. Culise starts the ambush by igniting the container and leaving them easy kills for the rest of the team. One kill each to Health, Lovenought, and Trajan. As long as we stay cautious, I don't see the chryssalids being any real threat. No civilians around here to reproduce with.

Near the house is a small ADVENT storage area guarded by a turret. Turrets seemed tough with ordinary bullets, but it's nothing against plasma weapons. Two other soldiers and a heavy mec guard the outpost. The first soldier goes down to a burst from Gaius, while the second soldier hits only cactus with his return fire. Trajan locks the mec behind a psionic stasis wall, giving JCan the chance to get close enough for a successful hack. Gaius kills the second soldier with her new blade. The team advances, mec first.

Another chryssalid appears in the open, and Culise nets another kill. Lovenought fires at the mec, because it certainly doesn't look like the chryssalids will kill it before the hack wears off.

The mec spots more chryssalids in the distance, this time springing out from the ground. Guess that explains why the chryssalids are guarding the area. Why they don't wait before springing out, I have no clue. Gaius lands a shot on the approaching chryssalid, followed up by Culise and Health. The thing stood no chance having to traverse so much terrain. Oddly enough, Lovenought managed to protect the mec from the attacking chryssalid. The mec lands a shot on another chryssalid, weakening it for Lovenought to kill. The mec, having done it's duty, is killed by Health with a headshot in the back.

The last chryssalid is too far away for the team to reliably hit, but too close to allow to roam free, so Trajan binds it with another stasis. I'm beginning to think she might have a thing for that kind of work.

Before now it's been standard desert terrain (if you ignore the purple crap falling from the sky), but behind this chryssalid the land turns alien. Lovenought lands his hit on the chryssalid, with a followup kill from Culise. I get everyone in range before I start walking on that...whatever it is.

At the end of the alien pathway sits a psionic portal. Creepy. Looks like this is where the coordinates lead.

Out of the portal comes what I can only describe as a giant, mechanical, psionic eye. It quickly rockets forward, well in range of the team. It wants to die, I see.

Culise fires his acid grenade right on top of it, but it still has plenty of armor. JCan uses his precision fire to strip the armor off the eye, leaving it vulnerable. Health fires five pistol shots at the eye, and while you'd normally expect the sound of "plink plink plink" coming off the shots, her laser does serious work on it. Trajan ends it with a blast straight into the center. We group up and reload in case another eye comes out of that portal.

Instead, three chryssalids come from behind the portal. Trajan and Gaius take out the first, while Culise kills the second. The third makes it surprisingly far before JCan and Lovenought kill it. JCan moves up towards the portal, but the last chryssalid, the smartest chryssalid, stays buried until he gets close. It pops out of the ground and gets him in the face. He and Culise kill it, but we'll have to see how he does with that injury.

We bring the gate back and hand it off to the research team. They think they can manage it, but will need additional supplies - supplies which we don't have. We'll have to wait for the next supply drop.

Our newest recruit has finished his training. I hope he's luckier than the late Ms. Potassium.

XCOM 2 AAR - Forge Assault

We're in luck. The day we pick is a dark and dreary night lit only by the evil red glare the aliens seem to prefer for lighting, perfect for a quick smash and grab. The aliens have the place too fortified for us to take down or even better to comb through. Like the refinery, we're here to see what they're up to, take what we can, and get out. Hopefully without any major injuries or death.

Out in front is another heavily armored andromedon and a codex. The alien forces certainly have evolved since we first started this mess. The ambush goes off flawlessly. Susanne begins with a plasma grenade, weakening the andromedon's armor and scaring the codex into cloning. The rest of the team batters the suit with a barrage of fire, Health landing the killing blow on the andromedon. The suit, naturally, begins working autonomously, but Trajan is there to put it into stasis and eliminate the original codex. A followup shot from Hyme kills the clone.

The stasis lasts long enough for us to catch our breath and give it another barrage of fire. JCan,as usual, tries for a hack but the software is a little too strong. Our snipers take it down instead. We spot another patrol, two soldiers and a heavy mec. They take some weakening fire from our team, giving Van Wezel a good opportunity for a sword strike. His initial blast had missed, but did hit the vehicle they were using as cover. Trajan thinks fast and works to distract the soldier's mind with a psionic attack. Her first attempt and she mind controls him, keeping him nice and close for when the car inevitably explodes. The last soldier, wounded and clearly outmatched, retreats back to the bridge.

We give chase, but aren't fast enough to catch him before he reaches the next squad, an archon and an armored shieldbearer. The archon moves to fly over the chasm, while the hybrid soldiers fortify the bridge. Unfortunately for them, their fortifications haven't advanced enough to really protect against our new weapons. Van Wezel's plasma grenade blasts their cover and kills the wounded soldier, leaving the shieldbearer vulnerable to cannonfire to the face from Susanne.

The aliens bring in reinforcements in the form of a sectopod. These things are massive, and were used extensively to defeat conventional forces in the initial war. It's going to be tough to bring down. This thing walks through cover as if it weren't there, when I was proud of this cover being blown up by a grenade. The remaining archon makes a foolish leap across the chasm, running into fire from Trajan and JCan that drops it down into the chasm. Now it's just us and that sectopod.

Can you guess what happens next? JCan attempts a hack! Which fails, of course. But he couldn't resist. We're going to need conventional weapons instead. Susanne fires an acid grenade right on top of it, melting the armor and leaving it's unprotected innards available to a lucky shot from Health. Down goes the sectopod from a single shot.

Earth's armies were pansies if this was what killed them. The team reloads and makes their way across the bombed out bridge, thankfully made out of rather stern stuff.

Ahead of us looms the building we've come to investigate. The aliens don't seem to build anything that isn't intimidating. No more troops are in front, the rest remaining inside to defend whatever it is that's in there. The ADVENT troops take up a fortified position along the walls and behind the door, ready to shoot. Susanne drops a grenade from above to make her own "door". JCan goes for a hack on the heavy mec, "Making new friends" he calls it. He succeeds, and the remaining hybrid soldiers are really looking at a bad day. Van Wezel hacks the shieldbearer, burning out his mind and Trajan puts the officer in stasis. He gets to watch as a full squad of XCOM soldiers surround him and train their weapons down upon him. JCan gets the honors with two shots to his noggin, and then has his new "Friend" go scouting down the halls for the next patrol.

Tygan and Shen, working off the feeds from our soldiers, look along the halls and speculate on what's happening. As far as they can tell, this seems to be a factory of sorts. Hybrid soldier clones are being grown here. No wonder there's been so many; they don't need to recruit. Who care about losing a bit of meat and metal? At the back of the facility is a peculiar looking stasis pod, like the one they initially found you in. Looks like we've found our prize, as the techs want it brought back for investigation.

Guarding the pod is another archon and two codices. Our new friend is inside, but they're smart enough not to fire on it. It's beefy and hard to kill, but it doesn't have the aim to hit such quick targets.

There's no hiding from Trajan though. In a real display of power she sends a null lance through the wall into both codices. The blast of psionic power outright kills the nearest codex, while the second clones out next to our resident sword wielder who puts it down quickly. The remaining codex teleports out and creates a null field, but fails to find any cover. JCan ends it with a well-placed shot. The archon and mec have a bit of a duel while this goes on, neither doing much damage.

The aliens regain control of the mec, but Health is there to put it down before it can damage any in the team. Hyme works on the archon, weakening it for a melee attack from Van Wezel to put it down. The pod secured, we move in.

(At the beginning of the mission there was an evac zone put up near where we started. I thought initially that we'd need to make a run back to it , as there's usually only one evac zone and I had the squad setup for a run back the way we came. As it turns out, opening the pod leads to a new zone being created ahead of us, which makes this next bit fun)

Inside the pod is another stasis suit, exactly like the one you were found in. Just what are these aliens doing here? Time to grab it and run. The aliens are already setting up reinforcements for us, it won't be long until we're overrun. Just to keep things interesting, the new evac zone is ahead of us, behind the reinforcements. Two soldiers and a heavy mec, oh joy! Susanne uses her last remaining explosive to wound the mech and shred its armor. Hyme follows up with a strong sniper shot, but can't bring it down. For once, JCan neglects attempting a hack and instead just shoots it to bring it down. He follows up with a grenade into the first soldier, who's finished off with a pistol shot from Health. Health uses her pistol and grenade to kill the last soldier, leaving the field open for us to move towards that evac zone.

The reinforcements arrive before everyone is safely away, and they're setup to shoot anything that moves. Rather than fight them, Susanne runs forward attracting their fire so the others can get out unharmed. She's armored, but that still did some damage.

Given a little bit of time, Tygan sends words that he's discovered what that thing in the suit was. It's a template of sorts, with holes in the genetic code that the aliens could potentially add in codes from other species. What seems bad about the situation is that they seemed to be focusing on the psionically gifted portions of humanity. More soldiers that looked vaguely like humans is scary, but not the worst that could happen. We've been lucky that very few of the ADVENT forces are psionically gifted. Having hordes of them against us would be quite deadly. And that's before factoring in that the elders seem to be looking for something to stave off their muscle degeneracy. Perhaps this is what they were looking for? Moldable human DNA?

We'll need to visit the final site to find out. We'll go as soon as the team is healed.

XCOM 2 AAR - Interlude

I said before that it was time to hit that blacksite at the vial's coordinates and I meant that, but previous experience has taught me that bringing a specialist along for healing would be much appreciated. I'd like our entire squad to come back in one piece, if possible. Six days and JCan would be out of sick bay. That's short enough for me.

In the meantime, there's another UFO just waiting to be looted. For a longer mission I dont' want to go without a specialist, but a short mission like this should be just fine. Shen even has a present for us: a new W.A.R suit, she says is an upgrade over the previous EXO suit. Heavily armored, with a heavy weapon hard point, and the ability to generate short range shielding. Could come in handy.

Culise is given the new suit, while Susanne keeps her old EXO suit.

At the mission site, the group sets up in a very favorable position. Couldn't ask for better terrain. The archon goes down in three shots, finished off by Van Wezel, but surprisingly both mutons stay alive. One grenades Spyhawk and Susanne, the other bashes Culise upside the head, hurting and disorienting him. Perhaps he should have worn a helmet?

Susanne finishes off the injured muton and Health fires three pistol shots from her perch to end the second. The rest of the team gets up close to the UFO. As per the last attempts, we'll have to move quickly if we want to stop that distress signal, especially without a specialist handy to unlock it from afar. As is also usual with UFOs, there's a whole wealth of cover inside. Normally I might say to reduce damage so as to make sure we get as much as we could from this place, but we've got more than enough supplies at the moment. Susanne and Culise get the go-ahead for a full bombardment.

A patrol steps outside and sees our forces just beyond the door. They retreat inside, but Susanne fires in a grenade to break it all open. Behind them is another patrol, this one filled with heavier elements. Culise fires his own grenade, destroying what was left of the original patrol and shredding the armor off the new heavy mec. Van Wezel goes in for a skulljacking on the advanced officer, but fails and spots the last patrol of two vipers and an archon. It's an all out brawl here! Gaius goes in for a slice on a viper, but fails to land a killing blow. Well, this looks ugly. Spyhawk takes care of the pesky codex clone behind our lines with a well-placed grenade.

We're now outnumbered, Gaius and Van Wezel are behind them, cut off from the rest of the team, and they're all relatively healthy. Health has a perfect view for a good kill zone over the entire UFO, but things still look ugly. Van Wezel takes a shot from the soldier, but the new armor is more than capable of absorbing the blow. Gaius is hit by the plasma staff and then grabbed by a viper, but she should be alright. The wounded viper is, thankfully, finished off from a sniper shot by Health.

Susanne continues her shelling of the entrance, launching a rocket and then a grenade into the heavy mec and archon. The archon goes down and gives Culise a good angle on the viper holding Gaius. He frees her from the viper's grasp, giving her the chance to cut it down. Spyhawk kills the wounded mec, leaving two soldiers behind still working Van Wezel.

Just look at all that destruction. Van Wezel is easily able to take care of himself, killing the soldier on top of him, leaving the final officer surrounded and vulnerable to every member of the team. Everyone gets a shot before Gaius finishes it off. Mission well done.

The more *ahem* gung-ho nature of that little brawl did leave the team with many small injuries. Nothing too major though.

It does mean though that Gaius, Spyhawk, and Culise won't be available for the blacksite mission.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

XCOM 2 AAR - Failure

In contrast to the last mission taking in place in a rather rich city, this one more clearly shows how bad things can get for Humanity under alien rule. Trash and propaganda everywhere, it seems some citizens have taken to driving tanks, even in town.

Up above on the highway is our first wandering patrol with a new alien combatant: a being from a world so toxic it needs a heavy environmental suit in order to function. It looks ugly, and any release of what's in the suit would surely be rather bad for any nearby human. We setup, and the firing starts with a sniper shot from Health on the unsuspecting codex.

The rest of the group's fire focuses on the dropping andromedon. Three solid shots, and it's still at half health. That thing is armored! Rather than deal with it right now, Trajan puts it in stasis while the rest of the team works on the 3 codices still up. Trajan's first shot misses the alien, but does explode a nearby car. She'll fit right in. The null field from the injured codex does a number on the group. 4 out of 6 suddenly find themselves out of ammo. The aliens themselves group up though and Susanne grenades them, killing two codices and leaving the andromedon vulnerable to a blast from her cannon. A pistol shot from Health is enough to finish it off.

Of course, nothing is ever easy. The alien inside is dead, we're very sure of that, but the suit itself is over-engineered enough that it can still function without its host. Disgusting. JCan attempts a hack on the suit, but fails to gain control, accidentally empowering the thing. Trajan makes her shot on it as it advances forwards, but Van Wezel misses the follow-up to bring it down, and JCan takes a brutal hit to his face. 

It even leaves a trail of toxic goop as it walks. Ugh. Susanne moves to flank the codex, giving Health and Lovenought the opportunity to kill its clones. In a twist, Trajan misses her next shot on the suit, but Van Wezel makes his, bringing it down. An ADVENT troop carrier follows it up with reinforcements. Why they do this I don't know, as the group is brought down in a hail of overwatch fire. Bradford, smartly, yells at us that the terminal is soon to be locked out.

Oh. Yea. The aliens aren't here to kill us. They've got hundreds of troops available. Stopping us is just fine. Even given all the aliens we've killed so far, our one death with Potassium felt like it hurt us more than all the deaths we've dealt to them. It'll be a rough race to make it in time. Guarding the terminal is a heavily armored group, 1 mec, 1 heavy mec, and an advanced soldier. That's a lot of hp to work through. The heavy mec gets a good shot on Lovenought, that looked like it hurt.

Susanne fires a rocket into the group, but it looks like they're merely scratched. With the help of a grenade from Van Wezel, JCan is able to finish off the mec. Lovenought misses his key shot on the heavy mec, and Trajan is too far away to be of assistance. The soldier lands another hit on Lovenought, yikes. The heavy moves into Health's range, and she brings it down. Susanne grenades the remaining soldier and then cannons it, bringing it down, but it's too late. We're too far away from the terminal to reach it before we're locked out. The mission is a failure. We continue to kill the remaining ADVENT forces, as grabbing what we can is useful, but morale is low.

Not sure where the remaining forces are, we reload, regroup, and get people healed. Lovenought is the first to spot the new troops, hiding behind a building, he'll be the sole focus of that group for some time. The archon is able to get to Lovenought roughly unharmed, and hits him with his plasma staff. Third shot today. Susanne runs forward and launches her acid grenade on the remaining two soldiers. Looked like it hurt. The rest of the team works on the archon, but it narrowly survives. Now is when I'd use Trajan's stasis ability again, but she's placed herself just out of reach. (Not sure what happened. XCOM is a little buggy. Said she was able to target him, but wasn't). She does kill the nearby soldier though.

The archon takes a second swing at Lovenought. He's horribly injured, but alive. He responds back with enough of a shot to take it down, and Health kills the remaining trooper. The mission was a failure, but everyone is at least alive. I think it's time we paid a visit to the codex sites though. The aliens are advancing quicker than we are, best to go now.

XCOM 2 AAR - Why is the bar on fire?!

Another day, another human betraying Humanity by allying with the aliens. Mr. Myterious has another mission for us: capture a collaborator and bring him back to base for some well-needed intel. The collaborator does seem to be living the rich life. A nice place, rich looking, with its own bar and a muton escort. All it cost him was his soul.

The group moves in, landing quietly on the nearby gas station. We have our prey in sight, a squad of heavy mecs to our right and in front the target and his escort.

Unfortunately, we wait a little too long in setting up the ambush, and the patrol spots Van Wezel. (Woops, misunderstood the concealment mechanic) Our squad can handle it though. Some of the squad was in place, enough for a decent ambush. The soldier and regular mec both go down, to Health and Hyme respectively. Lovenought gets two solid shots in on the archon, leaving a very injured archon, two mutons, and a heavy mec up against us. Susanne takes a shot from the mec (who I didn't realize went into overwatch on discovery) and she grenades it. Van Wezel fires two quick bursts into the heavy mec to bring it down. Hard to withstand close-range shots from that heavy looking shard gun.

On top of the building the muton has aggressively charged in. If it lives, it's in a great position to get some killing in. Lovenought finishes off the archon below, firing through the floor to kill it. He tries a shot on the muton but hits only cover. Health's pistol is more up to the task though and the muton goes down. Hyme uses her position lob a grenade on the muton. It works, giving Gaius a clear shot with her blade for killing the muton, but it does set the very nice bar on fire. The Germans of the team let out a yell of anguish as the bar continues burning.

All that's left is a small group of sectoids standing near our evac zone. And the VIP of course. Hyme drops down, but attracts the attention of the group to the north, which also contains a hiding archon. The small amount of fire we're able to bring to bear isn't enough to take the archon down before it gets to Hyme's position, and she finds herself the victim of a very painful plasma staff attack. Gaius as well gets disoriented from a sectoid's psionic burst.

Health kills a first sectoid, while Susanne and Van Wezel take down the archon. Hyme, handily enough has a medkit available for use. When the sectoid leaves its cover for a better firing angle, Gaius and Hyme are easily able to take it out. Damn, these things are stupid.

Incoming reinforcements, but we're very ready for them. Yay for target practice. The team has the drop zone mostly surrounded. The only way out is via the nearby parking lot. The squad drops down, and the captain is immediately killed. One soldier stupidly hides with his back to health, and she double taps right to the head. The trooper is a bit smarter, hiding in good cover behind a mini-van, but then he finds out why we left that avenue open. Susanne's rocket is more than capable of bringing him down in a fiery explosion.

Then what follows is a surprisingly quiet period. We could, if I wanted to, go hit the coordinates that we've obtained from the codex brain's dismantling, but I'd rather wait. Tygan and Shen both say they've got interesting things for us.

First online is a new laboratory for Tygan and his team. Should help. (Base reward is you effectively get an additional scientist. Two if you upgrade it. The European continent bonus, which we have, also gives a 20% boost to science)

Trajan finishes her psionic training. Well, finished isn't exactly accurate. She's able to use psionic powers, but she'll have to continue training to learn new ones. If she's not out on a mission or in sick bay, she'll be here in this dark chamber learning new spells abilities. (Psionics work very differently compared to other classes. They don't gain any benefit by going out in the field, as they don't go by experience. Instead, they train if they can. You're given the option of  three abilities each time you finish, with a heavier weighting towards abilities nearer to your skill level.) She should prove useful with a bit of training.

Tygan also unveiled a new armor upgrade: powered armor. Now our troops can be heavily armored, while suffering no penalties from the heavy weight. Truly amazing. It also looks fantastic. I couldn't ask for a better upgrade. (Comes with +2 health and +1 armor over the previous armor)

Finally, we have new weapons.  The new plasma rifles should serve us well, but the added difficulties in producing different plasma weapon variety compared to the ease of adapting magnetic weapons means that for most of the squad they won't have any upgrades for some time. Plasma varieties, at least. Shen does have some time to spare, and enhances the grenades and grenade launchers for the team.

The quiet must end though, and a new guerrilla op presents itself: get to an open security terminal and hack our way in to stop the aliens from armoring their troops for the month.The squad readies itself with the new equipment, and Trajan joins us. We're all eager to see how she does.

Friday, October 14, 2016

XCOM 2 AAR - Purple Everywhere

Another day, another mission. A new wave of guerrilla ops for us to choose. The two we've learned about seem easy to deal with, so the hidden one it is again. A simple op, one we've had before: resistance members set up a data tap on the ADVENT network, and the tap needs to be defended while it does its thing. Main difference? We're after a skulljack on the codex the shadow chamber says will be here. Top crew this time. I'd like to get some experience for the newer of the team, but after last mission I want to avoid another death.

We land in a town out in the boonies. Wide street between us and the tap, but with good cover on our side. We'll head up to the roof, secure it, and move on. Should be a good location for the snipers.We find our target, the codex patrolling with an advanced trooper. No idea what will happen, so we don't set up for a proper ambush. Susanne gets her shot from above on the poor trooper and he goes down quick. Gaius rushes in for the skulljack, and does succeed.

In what should not be a surprise to anyone, a being pops out from ...somewhere, looking dangerous and ready to shoot.

What follows is a rather frustrating experience. The thing is quick, each time we shoot it, it teleports away, finding a new location to hide. It's tough to boot, but our team has this covered. Culise uses his new acid grenade on it removing the armor and giving it a nasty burn. Health gets a pistol shot, followed by an assault rifle burst from JCan before teleporting inside the building. Health is able to follow it in and get a final pistol shot for the kill.

Not sure what that was all about, but it's dead and our scientists will have something to do for the next week. The mission continues, with Gaius stumbling into a patrol of two mutons and an archon. Yikes. Hyme manages a sniper shot on the archon, but it doesn't go down and they're well able to get some shots in. The archon attacks Gaius, but she's well able to dodge, and the mutons shots on the team both impact harmlessly on the store walls.

Health and Hyme work together to bring the archon down, leaving Susanne and Gaius for the first muton. Culise suppresses the last muton, but the muton is able to fire through the hail of bullets back at him, dealing critical damage and definitely making Culise angry. Thankfully his armor stops most of the damage and he's fine. Hyme's supporting position from above gives her a good shot on it for the kill. Now to find the last group before they can eliminate the tap.

The final squad is a group of two soldiers lead by an officer. The first trooper makes an aggressive move towards Gaius, but is met with a rocket blast from Susanne, a shotgun blast from Gaius, and a final sniper shot from Hyme. The officer tries a similar move, and finds himself on the short end of a shotgun blast and a burst from JCan. The final soldier tries to fire at Gaius, but JCan's protective GREMLIN and her natural agility keeps her unharmed, giving Susanne  chance to fire a grenade, wounding him in the explosion and demolishing the roof he was standing on. Unlike the earlier mec, hybrids aren't built to withstand a long fall like that and his body remained unmoving in the rubble.

I'm not entirely sure why, but Tygan is calling the purple being we killed is an "avatar" and highly related to the avatar project. I'm not sure what to make of it, to me it seems a cross between a human, a codex, and a super saiyan. The aliens are always full of surprises.

While everyone stays busy on board the Avenger, we complete a few new projects. Shen completed her crash course on using the viper autopsy results to enhance our medkits. That should come in handy. Her engineers also completed the new psi lab.

Looks creepy if you ask me, but it should do its job. Shen highly recommends that we don't send anyone already experienced in the field to train here, so I grab a new recruit, a Ms. Jamie Trajan.

She seems rather excited and all around happy. Hopefully her experiences in the chamber don't crush her spirits.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

XCOM 2 AAR - Failed Ambush

After the "technical difficulties" we start again and Tygan has good news for the team: new weapons! The grenadiers and snipers both receive weapons using similar magnetic technology as was used for the assault rifles and shotguns the other classes used. Like the other weapons, this means they'll do more damage, and have a second slot for weapon upgrades. They don't have long to practice though as the resistance spots another grounded UFO. Time for more loot and plunder!

The aliens have certainly upgraded their defenses this time around. Standing guard outside the door we find a muton, sectoid, two vipers, and a new alien type we call an "archon". There's a lot of health in that initial group, and they don't know we're here yet. If I wanted to be safe, I could choose to wait for one group to get separated to make for a more sure ambush. But, up until this point ambushes have been quite overkill. Health especially has talked about a new technique she learned that would allow her to watch down an entire corridor. Anything moving within that would be a viable target, and given her new sniper rifle has both upgraded damage and ammo capacity, the potential here for damage is staggering.

The rest of the team sets up, and unusually for us we'll start off with a boom instead of a bang. Susanne loads up one of her specially upgraded grenades, and the fight is on! The archon dashes off, and meets up with overwatch fire, avoiding any direct shot and suffering only minimal damage from Lovenought and Potassium. The rest of the aliens go into cover, and Health gets a shot on each one, but the result is the same for each. Miss. Miss. Miss. Miss. Gaius and Culise were both on pickup duty for any alien that lived and threatened our position too much, but there's no way they could conceivably completely salvage this situation.

Culise manages a grenade on both the archon and the wounded viper, killing the viper and leaving the archon open to a strong shotgun blast from Gaius.

Three aliens still left. As if things couldn't get worse, a patrol of two soldiers and a codex wander in. Health uses her last bit of ammo to damage the codex, but we suddenly find ourselves outnumbered 7 to 6 as the codex clones itself.

Gaius dodges a tongue grab, but a followup poison blast can't be pleasant. The mutons, smartest of all alien forces, uses a grenade on our position. Blasting apart trees and leaving Potassium, Gaius, and Lovenought all out of cover and reeling from the blast. Inspired by his intelligence, the remaining sectoid uses his gun instead of his psionic powers and blasts away at Potassium, knocking her dead to the ground.

Things looking bleak, Susanne uses a rocket on their position, killing the codex clone and heavily damaging the muton. Lovenought follows up with a risky play. "Rampage!" he yells and gets up close and personal with the aliens.

He eliminates the viper with a clean shot, then turns and goes for the muton, but misses his shot. Rampage over. Good for him, Gaius is able to power through the poison and easily kill the sectoid. Culise eliminates the original codex, but that still leaves two soldiers and an angry muton. The battle devolves into a large brawl as the trooper cuts into Susanne with his sword and the muton bashes at Lovenought, stunning him and leaving him vulnerable.

Health gives the trooper a glancing blow with her pistol, removing the shield and giving Susanne a chance to bring the big guns to bear.

The muton in his rage neglected to get behind cover, giving Health a clear shot to his vitals, bringing it down. Gaius uses her skulljack on the remaining soldier, failing to jack in, but distracting him long enough for Culise to unleash a devastating attack to outright kill the soldier. (Hail mary attack, 28% chance to hit, 30% chance to crit. 8.4% chance to kill and he nails it) The team emerges battered, but mostly alive.  The clock is ticking though on that distress beacon. (For anyone wondering, the walls were fixed this time. No visibility problems)

Lovenought finds himself doing something different this mission: becoming the team's healbot. Or at least ordering his GREMLIN to be the healbot. He patches up Susanne, Gaius, and himself quite well. They should be in good shape for the remaining forces guarding the distress beacon. Inside is a squad of hybrid soldiers lead by an officer. The UFO is a challenging area to fight in, as high cover is all over but shooting angles are scarce. Missed shots abound. Thankfully, Lovenought's GREMLIN is able to flow and easily dodge any fire, so we don't have to get into the open in order to disable the console.

A soldier runs out towards a better firing position and is caught by Health's shot, injuring it and leaving it low enough that a grenade from Susanne can finish him off. The group loops around the center and catches the remaining two troops in their flanks. Health lands a shot on the shieldbearer, who is finished off by a slice from Gaius. The officer sits huddled in a corner as cannon fire from Susanne and Culise bring him down.

The mission is a success, but a somber one. Minor injuries for some, but Potassium's death dampens the mood. One mission, one shot, one damage. Such a short life she lead. The aliens will pay.

In honor of her memory, I have Shen work on some new armor. A new vest that will help protect them, and heal them if they take damage, keeping them in the fight. As well, Tygan finishes his work on examining the codex data. He says it should help us understand why the aliens are doing all this, making Humanity's life hell.

The data contains information on the elders. The caste of aliens with strong psionic powers, powers that make the sectoid look like child's play. They haven't been seen on Earth for almost a decade, likely because they're experiencing severe muscle atrophy. They're dying. They've been roaming the galaxy, taking what they can find of other aliens and incorporating them into their army through psychic and genetic domination. With Earth, they decided to stay, whether because they saw something useful in us that was special, or that they've become unable to look further. Whatever the case, it seems likely they're going through our genetics to find something of a cure.

But that's all he was able to obtain from the fragments of data. Filling in the final pieces will requiring skulljacking a codex. This should be fun.