Previous: X-Com War Diaries, Part VI - July 2016
As with July, X-Com's increased coverage of the world meant that we would be seeing much more UFO activity. 15 contacts were tracked. Two abductors were allowed to land unmolested, and X-Com ground units stopped the abduction missions in their tracks once the ships departed. Two UFOs were destroyed by our interceptors, which were now sporting laser cannons and were commensurately more effective against the bandits in the sky. Three UFOs landed and were subsequently assaulted and boarded. The first was a simple raider, but the last two (UFO-41 and UFO-46) were abductor class vessels. Securing an abductor meant a windfall in salvage, as well as the chance to research the vulnerabilities of this particular craft so both missions were stacked with our best soldiers to ensure the capture of the vessel. The remaining contacts either escaped or were left unmolested due to lack of available interceptors.
|X-Com's monthly report for August 2016.|
Our new tactic in ground missions is centred on our alloy SHIVs, which are tremendously durable once upgraded with the appropriate foundry projects. SHIVs can effectively serve as tanks that are able to reconnoiter, absorb enemy fire, or suppress dangerous targets. They could also be used as mobile cover by our soldiers. It takes a lot of firepower to destroy an alloy SHIV, and when combined with an engineer with the Repair perk and upgraded arc throwers, damaged SHIVs can be patched up to full health and rolled back into the breach time and time again. It's a life saver for the troops, and this is how we conducted the assaults on the abductors this month. The results spoke for themselves, as both missions went off without a hitch and without any casualties. The only problem was our arc thrower's seeming inability to do its primary job, namely that of subduing aliens. During the assault on UFO-46 "Keen" Archuleta tried three times to stun an alien and failed each time. We wanted outsider shards - alien bases can only assaulted with the skeleton key artifact, and these things can only be made with outsider shards. The aliens controlled four nations - China, Japan, India and Russia - and it was our goal to ultimately liberate these countries. In the Long War countries that leave the Council can rejoin if the alien base within that nation is destroyed. Barring anymore departures from the Council, we would be needing at least four shards, one for each occupied nation.
|Constructing a psionic lab.|
In addition to the three assaults X-Com troops completed five abduction missions, two EXALT missions, one terror mission and one Council mission. The Council mission was a favourite - site recon on the island of St. John in Newfoundland. The first couple of times I played this mission I found it absolutely terrifying - the chryssalids were fast and deadly, the pods were large, and some of the chryssalids were upgraded versions with larger health pools, health regeneration, and Lightning Reflexes (drastically reduces the effectiveness of overwatch fire). Subsequent playthroughs were far easier due to having solved the riddle of the map - creating kill zones and luring the pods one by one into them with a fast scout was the key. I expected the mission to be another cake walk, and things started off promisingly as our intrepid scout baited the first pod to our waiting guns. Rather than waste overwatch fire on foes with the Lightning Reflexes perk the squad steadied its weapons and waited for the chryssalids to close in. We blew apart the pod, apart from one straggler, and prepared to rinse and repeat.
Events escalated when another pod came rushing in during the alien's turn. And another. Things got hairy, but it looked like we would be able to stay on top of it. Then another pod came charging in, and that's when things went to shit. The only thing that prevented total disaster were my rocketeers Towagozi, "Syncaine" Ben-David and assault trooper Jong. Jong in particular was tearing through the chryssalids with her shotgun - she had the Hit and Run perk (free shot at foes not in cover), and any chryssalid foolish enough to close in with her ate two shotgun blasts to the mandibles. Hit and Run also allowed Jong to blast a chryssalid then run away to safety. Other troopers weren't as fortunate. Syncaine paid the ultimate price - holding his ground to fire his rocket launcher meant he killed three chryssalids that would have otherwise torn through the rest of the squad, but it also left him at the mercy of the reprisal from the last surviving chryssalid. It ripped him in half, injected him with an embryo, then turned to Towagozi, who fired a rocket down its windpipe in the subsequent turn. It was overkill, but I was pissed at losing one of my best guys. The resulting explosion killed the chryssalid and the embryo, and the soldiers were spared the sight of Syncaine lurching to his feet as a zombie. I guess if one of your soldiers ever gets killed by a chryssalid just throw a grenade on the body and be done with it. That is, if you have no ethical objections about blowing up the body of your former comrade.
|Geopolitical situation has remained stable this month, with no other nations leaving the Council. X-Com has complete satellite coverage over North and South America, as well as Africa. Africa now also has its own fleet of interceptors.|
Syncaine was the sole casualty of August, and while his death was a blow, the paucity of casualties meant that we were winning the overall experience war. If the amount of experience gained across all your soldiers exceeds the experience lost when one of them dies then you're in good shape. The experience gained by the strike force in August made up for the carnage in the July. In fact, things were beginning to turn in X-Com's favour - the geopolitical situation had stabilized despite a scare over Canada. The aliens swarmed all over Canada, and I thought that there would be no way to avoid having the nation withdraw. In addition to a terror attack and an abduction attack, the aliens also bombed Canada and shot down the satellite over the nation which we promptly replaced. Somehow the Canucks held their nerve and didn't leave, but nobody could have blamed them if they did. Successfully completing the site recon mission also played a big role in reducing panic, and allowed us to retain Canada on the Council despite tremendous pressure from the aliens.
Our fighters were also becoming much more effective at dealing with the invaders. Foundry projects like UFO Countermeasures (decreased chance to hit interceptors), Wingtip Sparrowhawks (all planes are armed with Stingray missiles in addition to regular loadout), Penetrator Weapons (increased armour penetration) and Improved Avionics (increased chance to hit UFOs) enhanced our interceptors' survivability and firepower. We now had a squadron of fighters in Africa, and most of our planes were armed with laser cannons. X-Com could still not engage any of the large UFOs head on, but scouts, fighters, and raiders were all fair game. August also saw the deployment of Tier 3 weapons. Some of our boys and gals went into battle with gauss rifles and autorifles for the first time, and hopefully sometime in the next month our snipers and scouts will also be armed with gauss long rifles and alloy strike rifles. Once again alien alloys were the bottleneck, however, and the supplies we salvaged from the captured abductors were soon spent on crafting armour and weapons. We would need more if we wanted to outfit everyone. The biggest development for the strike force was the discovery of xenopsionics. Construction on the psionic lab was begun this month, and in September we would begin training suitable candidates in the art of psionic warfare.