Operation Heaving Flame
XCOM 2 Blogger Succession Game - Mission 31
I was just thinking that it had been a little while since our last foray into the communal XCOM 2 Blogger Succession game here at the Leaflocker, especially since there are only three of the original roster of seven players left in the rotation after the other four have had to drop out for various reasons. It turns out that I haven’t played a round since the beginning of May, and as the post below will detail, the rust in my play was on full display out there. As usual with these play-throughs, you can choose your own adventure and read along with the AAR or watch the recording1, but if you choose the latter I recommend that you bring a book or make liberal use of the skip button in the intro and outro sections, because my poor old laptop was really chugging.
XCOM’s scientific progression continues apace, with the development of Powered Armor just around the corner. Since I’m not a man to stand between a hard-working soldier and his mechsuit, even in the name of getting closer to the end of the game, and I know we’re going to need a big financial outlay to purchase the upgrade, there was little for me to do in the Avenger except order a couple of custom grenades and head out into the world.
I soon discovered that Advent was licking their wounds after Kluwes’ killed an Avatar during his last turn, but with nothing else pressing on the agenda I decided to send a team in to clear out the Alien Facility in Eastern Europe to see if we could drive a nail into the enemy coffin. Projections anticipated the presence of Gatekeepers, and after I killed off one of our anti-armour units in my last outing and the other one was in the medbay, I knew that this would prove to be a challenge even with our third-choice Grenadier in the squad. I also elected to bring along Klaus Weiss, our third- or fourth-tier Sniper who I designated as UnwiseOwl III last time, and who I wasn’t expecting to contribute a whole lot, but I outfitted him with some EXO armour and a rocketpack for a little extra firepower just in case.
We came across the first pod of an Archon, Shieldbearer and Lancer out in the open and set up the usual ambush, but in my haste to get maximum damage I forgot that the two Rangers that I’d set up to take Overwatch shots were going to skulk in the shadows instead, and that got both Magi and Bookahnerk stabbed by the Archon and Lancer respectively. Clearing up the group and the nearby turret after that wasn’t a big challenge, but it did mean that I went into the mission feeling more than a little foolish.
The next pod of a Gatekeeper and two Sectoids was triggered along with another turret, which left me with too many targets and an inability to deal enough damage to them. Vasily’s grenades weren’t high-powered enough to cut through the enemy armour, and I had apparently learned nothing from last time about what happens when I leave my squad within Gatekeeper range, so Hound Dog was left far too exposed instead of retreating, and not even Silentdeath’s flash grenade could distract the enemy long enough to hit prevent her from taking a laser beam to the face and being down for the count.
This thankfully wasn’t a fatality, but it did mean that Bookahs was more or less out of the commission for the rest of the fight stabilising and then physically manhandling Hound Dog around the map.
Now down to four, including a grenadier without grenades and a sniper with a very poor record of hitting shots, the rest of the team managed to clean up the pod anyway and progress towards the Alien Facility. Vasily managed to slip inside and plant the X4 charges while Klaus fired his rocket, Easha took to the roof, Magi lined up her Killing Zone ability and Bookahnerk threw out the emergency Mimic Beacon to act as a little insurance against the final pod of Gatekeeper, Shieldbearer and Lancer.
Despite my ongoing ineptitude with the mechanics, wasting a couple of turns with some dangerous misclicks and tactical mistakes, the team managed to take out the pod and make it to the evac point just as Advent flew in some reinforcements. Usually I’d want to stay and fight on regardless, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valour, and for once I decided it was time to get out while I still had three soldiers left uninjured to use in the future.
Following the mission we’ve been left with long recovery times for Bookah and Hound Dog, while Magi should be able to bounce back pretty quickly. Considering that for most of the campaign I’d been feeling like things were all far too easy, I was left feeling embarrassed that for the second mission in a row I’d come back with such a depleted lineup. Perhaps I’m not ready for Ironman difficulty mode just yet after all.
I don’t think there’s all that long left in this campaign and the difficulty is undoubedly ramping up, but at least next time I’ll have Powered Armour to get my soldiers a bit more protection when I leave them overexposed. Hopefully when we next revisit XCOM three month’s won’t have passed so I won’t be quite as rusty, either, but I guess that’s over to Commander Naithin todecide.
It’s time for me to have a sit and a nice cup of tea to calm my nerves.
Or both, if you want. I’m not the blog police.