10 April, 2015
Somewhen in what is turning out to be a very long day…
When we last left our heroes, Sq. Bhagpuss was busy getting strangled by a mechanical and be-tentacled alien creature after Sq. Othnieltcs left him in favor of body blocking for Sq. Wolf, who in turn was “one stubbed toe away from dying.”
(The Seeker, a new enemy in the XCOM: Enemy Within expansion, does 2 damage on initial strangle hit, and paralyzes the victim caught in its coils. Every turn thereafter, the strangled individual will suffer 1 damage.
From an “on paper” perspective, I really like the design of this enemy. Similar to how special zombies in Left 4 Dead dissuade lone rambo heroes, the Seeker encourages an XCOM squad to stick together or at least travel in pairs with a partner – something just as tactically sound as staying in cover and always trying to flank your enemies.
Dealing with one though, especially when you’ve never seen it before…. urgh.)
Sq. J3w3l is still climbing down from the roof (but has since switched back to sniper rifle) and has her view blocked by pretty much everything, so her rescuing Sq. Bhagpuss is right out.
Sq. Othnieltcs is needed where he is to deal with a roomful of pissed-off aliens.
As fortune would have it, Sq. Wolf is juuust about near enough to try something.
A frag grenade is right out, of course, since Sq. Bhagpuss is just as in the way.
So, taking care to hug PLENTY of cover this time around, Sq. Wolf leans out from behind a full cover corner to attempt a 57% chance to hit, 70% chance to critical shotgun blast.
It connects! But only does 4 damage out of its 5 health bars.
With an indignant screech, the alien creature recoils in pain? and releases Sq. Bhagpuss from its tentacled grip.
Good news, Sq. Bhagpuss is no longer choking to death.
Bad news, he’s now catching his breath with a still alive alien right next to him.
(Catching Breath imposes a 75% penalty to movement, so it’s pretty impossible to run away AND -50% to aim.
Sq. “Can So Too Hit The Broad Side of a Barn” Bhagpuss, you may or may not recall, only has a base Aim of 55.
Hmm, we’re going to need to shorten that nickname to 11 characters eventually, when he officially gets one later.
And there are a whole host of other factors in play.)
Yes, he’s at super-close range, which gives a +41% chance to hit, but it has a natural -10% defense, it’s flying so another -20%, and he’s catching his breath -50%.
All tallied up, that means a 16% chance to hit…
…assuming he even had ammo to fire in the first place.
Turns out the Thin Man running away from him while he was in Overwatch drew out the last of his bullets from the LMG (heavier weapons are notoriously prone to chewing up ammo quickly), leaving the way clear for the other alien creature to attack. Egads, how dare they coordinate!
He does still have a rocket launcher left, but since he can only fire it while remaining in place – and it’s known to do 6 damage – that wouldn’t be smart at all.
There’s naught to be done but sit in place and reload.
Sq. J3w3l has finally made it down from the roof and got to a place of cover where she -should- be able to help with the altercation about to take place within the building, and just as theoretically ought to be able to help Sq. Bhagpuss…
…except there’s two big pillars and a honking big station wagon blocking her view. Dang it.
So she takes out the only alien she -can- see, hiding way over yonder building behind a counter, thinking no one can see it.
Sq. Othnieltcs stomps his way up to flank the other alien – 100% chance to hit and 60% chance to critical… with a minigun.
It only has 3 health.
It’s not so much of a fight, more of an execution.
And what of Sq. “Really Close to Dying” Jeromai Wolf?
He’s in full cover, but there’s a detached mechanical monster with lots of tentacles pretty close by, and let us not forget, they came as a pair.
So there’s another invisible one lurking around -somewhere.-
The Commander proposes that he might be safest moving further away from where the tentacled things -probably- are, and lurking in cover -behind- a counter very close to their team’s own mechanical monster, Sq. Othnieltcs.
Which leads to a heartfelt curse of epic proportions as his dash takes him in view of a previously unseen floating alien in mid-flight outside, at the other end of the building.
Somehow, the angle wasn’t right for Sq. Othnieltcs and it to have seen each other, but -now- the thing gets to take a free reaction shot at Sq. “One Bar Left” Wolf.
Which miraculously, misses.
He also did activate Run & Gun, which leaves him the ability to fire a shot after dashing.
And at close range with a shotgun, takes care of the alien hovering over Sq. Othnieltcs’ head with 4 damage, just enough to take it out and send it crashing in a heap on the ground.
Well, if he’s going to die this mission, he may as well give a good accounting of himself, right?
It’s Sq. Othnieltcs’ turn to act, and the Commander finally realizes the -other- disadvantage to MEC suits.
Their minigun eats up ammo so fast, they can only shoot twice before having to reload.
Ordinarily, it would be wisest to move to a safe position and reload, but there’s a very wounded soldier behind Sq. Othnieltcs to worry about, and we KNOW the alien outside can see Sq. Wolf, having just taken a free shot at him.
What the hell. The big guy has 14 bars of armor and health to spare.
See this bigass gun, you mechanical freak? I’m a gonna shoot you with it next, once I reload it, that is.
It takes the bait.
It fires down at Sq. Othnieltcs for 4 damage, possibly melting a bit of surface metal and probably ruining some of the paint job.
Back outside, the one visible alien next to Sq. Bhagpuss… decides to vanish from sight.
Now we’re back to TWO invisible aliens. One seriously wounded, and one at full health still not yet showing itself. Dammit.
All goes quiet, and it’s the XCOM squad’s turn to move again.
This turn, Sq. Othnieltcs’ promise to shoot the floaty thing comes true.
85% chance to hit, 10% chance to critical.
No critical, but 5 bars of damage puts the floating thing away for good. It’s a really fortunate thing for Sq. Wolf that the alien thing doesn’t seem to have much brains.
In the meantime, all the much more human and squishy soldiers have been called back at a dead run (poor choice of words there?) to gather at the front of the petrol station, near to each other and all in cover this time, in a more tactically sound formation, where Sq. J3w3l can cover their asses in Overwatch.
Sure enough, the very angry wounded alien creature comes out of stealth and makes a bid to strangle Sq. Bhagpuss again.
Sq. J3w3l takes a reaction shot… and misses!
That’s the last thing Sq. Bhagpuss sees before he’s choked up again in coils that tighten around his neck for another 2 damage. Down to half health, now.
Let’s not count Sq. Wolf out of the fight just yet. From around the pillar where he’s taking full cover, he crouches and takes careful aim at the top of the creature… an 85% chance to hit and 70% chance to critical.
Blowing it away for 7 points of critical damage where we only needed just one.
Sq. Bhagpuss is left to catch his breath (no doubt, very thankful there’s no such thing as friendly fire with shotguns in XCOM.)
One more invisible alien to go. Overwatch time.
Sq. Othnieltcs calmly collects the last Meld canister by himself, daring any aliens to just pop out and stop him. Just try.
(I think MEC troopers are choke-proof. Shoulda used him to rambo off from the get go, but who knew these dang Seekers existed then?)
The last invisible alien finally makes itself known.
This was terrifying to watch, because it had picked Sq. “No Health Left to Speak Of” Wolf as its target.
If it latches on, he’s probably bought the farm, unless he gets lucky enough to be ‘merely’ critically hurt and bleed out in 3 turns.
(Assuming the rest of the squad can complete the mission within 3 turns and evac the soldier for treatment, that will still inflict a -Will penalty, though I’d gladly still take it as the lesser of two evils.)
It has 5 bars of health.
Sq. J3w3l appears not to have line of sight and thus couldn’t fire while in Overwatch.
Sq. “Broad Side” Bhagpuss saves the day.
The floating alien is blown away pre-attachment for exactly 5 points of damage in an Overwatch response.
(Which remember, imposes a -20 Aim penalty, and the thing is flying so another -20, and has a defense of -10. Guy’s got 55 Aim, and only has a close range bonus to help him out.
The LMG has a base damage of 3-5 damage.)
Absolutely stunned, the Commander is left staring at the ragged remnants of the miraculously still-intact squad, wondering why on earth the mission hasn’t ended yet.
Sq. Othnieltcs is sent to scout.
Oh, this guy.
The Thin Man who ran off and decided it was better off waiting for its friends to do the killing.
Wrong decision, there.
(Not that I’m arguing with the dumb decisions any aliens choose to make.)
Another execution by Sq. Othnieltcs and the mission thankfully ends.
Operation Blind Thunder, incredibly, ends with an Excellent rating for all categories. Just past midnight. Longest day ever. (So far.)
8 aliens killed.
0 XCOM operatives lost. (Teamwork and incredibly good luck brought you-know-who home. Alive. Barely. BUT STILL.)
2 of 2 Meld canisters collected.
After action report for Operation Blind Thunder.
Yours truly is gravely wounded for 11 days. BUT STILL. ALIVE. “It’s just a flesh wound!”
Sq. Bhagpuss has been wounded for 11 days too, and has gotten a promotion to Corporal.
Sq. J3w3l is unscathed and has gotten a promotion to Corporal.
And Sq. Othnieltcs is perfectly fine, though the engineers are no doubt tut-tutting at the state of his suit’s paint job.
When it rains, it pours.
11 April, 2015
It’s not even 24 hours that the XCOM squad got back from Operation Blind Thunder, to be called on again.
This time, it’s another urgent council communication.
There has been a hijack attempt on a mysterious French military convoy. The alleged perpetrators were human, but aliens were also seen in the area, raising some questions about what “cargo” was being moved (and possibly stolen.) An XCOM squad will be sent to investigate.
Coming up next, Operation Burning Bell with our two unwounded soldiers from Operation Blind Thunder, with the now-recovered Cpl. Syl and Rk. Skyrim filling out the team!