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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

XCOM Long War Campaign AAR

Post 1 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-02 23:29:58 UTC

I really wanted to play Long War mod next after my EU4 campaign ended, but this made me think that Long War adds way too much randomness to the game which is already suffering from too much randomness. I already disliked mandatory damage roulette on explosives and rockets not hitting where you tell them to hit - all this randomness reduces strategic depth by a lot.

Also relevant:

Post 2 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-17 19:53:07 UTC

I've been watching people streaming it a lot, so I decided to give Long War a quick test run - normal, not so long war, training roulette, aiming angles, absolutely critical - just a few missions.

• Reusing maps in different contexts is fun
• I play this game ridiculously aggressively, just like all other games. That was fine in vanilla, and is fine against sectoids here, but thin men will squad wipe me if I keep doing that. I think second wave options I play with promote aggressive play, since flank=crit=kill, but then argument could be just as easily made that they should discourage it.
• Absolutely critical second wave option makes sawed-off shotguns unnecessary as far as I can tell
• I played this game a ton of time and I never knew that sounds alien make during their turns are determined by their type - only after watching some let's plays I got that. It's pretty silly retrospectively, but then very few strategy games use sounds to convey information ;-)
• Hiding melt timers is a bit less of a problem than I expected
• I wonder when Beta 14 comes out.
• Wow my interceptors are crap in this mod. If I understand correctly that changes pretty fast with some research.
• Larger squads are so much fun. Not reliably having someone with lightning reflexes, and someone with squadsight makes things a lot harder.

Post 3 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-17 20:08:54 UTC

Trying  #xcom   #longwar  ...

My soldier was behind full cover on the other side of these doors. The game decided that thin men somehow magically "flanks" him, which meant one hit crit kill.

I even implemented full xcom visibility and flanking mechanics for xcom roguelike I was making a while ago (never finished, but playable in browser if you want), so I think I understand them well, but this one makes no fucking sense. There are no windows or anything in this side of the building. Am I missing something, or is this some really bullshit bug?

Post 4 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-18 20:42:48 UTC

Just finished the first Slingshot mission in the  #xcom   #longwar .
• snipers are totally awesome, easily the most valuable class
• I think they changed mission scripting - instead of thin men being scattered throughout the map, and air drops being triggered by Zhang's movement, they kept coming against me in waves all the time, so I turtled 80% of the mission. That actually made it easier, since I start in elevated location with a lot of full cover.
• it was 1 chrysalid instead of 1 muton - way easier, chrysalids are only a problem in large groups. I wouldn't be able to use this opportunity to capture a muton anyway, since I don't even have an Arc Thrower yet (late April). Crysalid didn't even have lightning refrexes - I thought they all do in the long war.
• I might be seeing things, but there was one sectoid which seemed pre-activated
• I still got one soldier critically wounded, and my sniper down to 2 hit points
• I have no idea how the hell can I possibly do 2nd slingshot mission with my squad
• I can unlock squad size increase to 7, but I don't have any money
• it would be good to get lasers or better armor - I'm not too fond of my soldiers being vulnerable to death by one non-crit kill

Post 5 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-19 23:27:55 UTC

Portent is the most ridiculously overrated mission in all of  #xcom . Everybody on the internets is acting as if it's worse than Site Recon, but it's one of the simplest missions I've ever played - move slow, stick to the roof, easy win. I never lost a single soldier on it - and once more in  #longwar , in late April with 7 dudes (0 of them scouts sadly, both my scouts are wounded) and starting hardware only except for a few SCOPEs I easily won it (well, a few soldiers got wounded, so it wasn't that trivial, but still easier than most).

As usual, Sniper was the most valuable person of the mission, but engineer and rocketeer did some good job at removing cover too. Rocketeer of course missed once because the mod is a bit dickish about rocket spread and now will have to spend some time in the hospital.

I'm mostly worried by how slow my progress is. April just ended and I still have nothing except one squad size upgrade and a few SCOPEs - just 3 satellites and 6 interceptors in the air too. I built Alien Containment, but still don't have Arc Throwers. Lasers are just about to get researched.

Lack of scouts (and gunners, but I don't care about those much) is really annoying. Some large UFO just landed - no idea what's that and if I should just ignore that instead of trying to be a hero. Second slingshot mission might trigger any time (it's been a while since first Slingshot mission), and that is legitimately one of the hardest missions in game, since it's very aggressively timed and has very early Mutons.

Post 6 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-21 19:07:56 UTC

So I got large UFO landing site. I didn't think I could win this, so why not use it as a team building opportunity. 2 snipers, 1 squadsight gunner, 1 engineer, 1 infantry, 2 rookies. Yeah, rookies. That's crazy, but I don't have any non-wounded medics or scouts, and rookies have ability of Rookie Lightning Reflexes - it doesn't protect from alien fire, but it reduces how much I care about alien fire hitting someone. And in any case I won't get any more scouts unless I give rookies a chance to prove themselves. Anyway, I wasn't planning on winning this, just getting some XP, then GTFOing once things got too bad.

So it was really slow process of setting up overwatch traps, and sending rookies ahead to scout. 1 Muton, 2 Thinmen, tons of Floaters and Seekers - it wasn't too horrible actually... All I got was 1 damage from seeker attack, and I only used 1 grenade all that time.

Sure, no more aliens on the map, let's breach overseer room, there will probably be 2 since it's a large UFO... What the hell game, 5 overseers including one at 20 health? One of the rookies died in one shot, the other panicked, but then got its act together and delivered the final shot to the overseer commander. Unfortunately she decided to be an engineer, instead of doing something sensible like being a much needed scout. You can see her watching smoldering remains of the battlefield, wondering about life choices which led her there.

I also found that AP grenades don't destroy cover, but they still destroy alien power sources. Oh well, I got ton of stuff from the mission anyway. Day after (2 May) I got Beam Weapons researched. It wouldn't have helped me, since it would take a couple weeks to manufacture them anyway. Am I doing things too slow maybe, two months with no new hardware except SCOPEs?

I'm not totally sure if breaching the room was the right idea, and if it wouldn't be safer to stick to the roof instead, and have snipers kill overseers from far away. Maybe I would have played more cautiously if someone more important than a rookie was on the line.
 #xcom   #longwar

Overwatch trap. Not awesome, but that's the best that was possible in this situation.

Post 7 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-22 23:04:14 UTC

 #xcom   #longwar  RNG is so kind to me - I had two easy missions (abductions, then shot down UFO which tried to get my satellite), took 3 rookies to each, and I got by random choice 3 scouts, 2 snipers, and 1 infantry.

Finally scout shortage is over. I guess I still have gunner and medic shortage, but I just don't care much. Hopefully I'll have enough money in May to expand to 2nd continent, which will be North America (starting in Asia as usual).

Post 8 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-23 16:56:44 UTC

Another day, another dead rookie.

2 pods with a total of 8 aliens were already in sight of the landing party, and while we were fighting them every other alien on the map decided to join the fun - total 5 pods of 4 aliens each plus overseer - one of the pod activations I might have delayed, others there was really no way.

It was going really well anyway, until muton decided to throw a grenade at a rookie, destroying his cover, what made him panic and run into cover from the wrong side. He ended up dead next turn. Other than that it went remarkably well - just -1hp wound to acid poisoning I thought was already gone (2 soldiers next to each other got acid poisoned same time, I checked that it was gone on first and I assumed second would be fine too).

Aliens weren't even that bad - 1 muton, 1 thinman, 1 sectoid, 1 overseer, 2 seekers, 3 drones, the rest 12 floaters (if I remember correctly). It's just long war's random alien placement being an asshole in this case. I've heard next beta makes it less likely you'll start with aliens already visible.
 #xcom   #longwar

Post 9 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-24 00:45:34 UTC

So it's May 22, things are going sensibly well in  #xcom   #longwar  - I got basic laser weapons (not sniper or heavy lasers, no armor whatsoever yet)  I'm building by Arc Thrower, and I'm about to launch satellites 4 and 5, and then I got the Newfoundland mission...

It was ridiculously over the top hard even in vanilla, I'm so tempted to see what they made here... Are we going to land on top of 10 activated Chrysalids and 2 boss Chrysalids? I'll definitely save the game first, it's 100% optional and I don't care for a completely unnecessary squad wipe.

I probably should just sell everything and rush laboratories and everything. Right now my interceptors can't shoot anything even with 4 interceptors per continent.

Post 10 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-24 16:56:39 UTC

Newfoundland attempt two. My team had 7 soldiers:
• 3 rookies
• low level sniper, assault, and infantry
• high level sniper officer
Rookies and infantry had laser weapons, snipers and infantry had SCOPEs, everybody else had basically nothing - just some grenades I ended up never using.

The mission consists of three parts.

First - clean up patrols. This is the hardest part (and where I got squad wipe first try), since patrols get free move when you reveal them, and if you get two at once there's no way to kill them all and they'll be too close to you to run away. I won this one by setting up fortified position and overwatching forever. This time I never activated 2 patrols at once and I had more space between me and Chrysalids, so it was really easy. The primary reason I got squad wiped first time is that I expected vanilla style single random Chrysalids, not big patrols, and trying to play different game than it actually is tends not to work.

Second phase - discover whale, get massive wave of Chrysalids. That's actually easy since they're activated so they don't get free move, and they move individually not in packs, so if you're far away they'll keep running into you one a time, sometimes two at a time, not 7 all at once. I used Assault to lure them in once they stopped coming, and had everyone on this fortified position. My assault also found a few stationary zombies in this time, not part of the whale pack but close to the whale. You'll know when all aliens are dead as then alienn turn will take 0s - that's kinda gamey, but the game also uses alien turn to announce alien types with direction indicators, alien type specific sound etc., so maybe it was intentional.

By the way I haven't tested this, but there could be an exploit here. You can't go up ladder if there's someone on top/bottom ladder tile already, or go through door if someone is on the other side. This cabin my troops are on has just 5 tiles up front - so it's possible Chrysalids wouldn't be able to go up there ever, and I could just make a camp there - unless they can jump horizontally over water too as troops with Skeleton Armor would. I didn't test it, but if someone is trying to play this on impossible it might be the exploit you're looking for. Even if Chrysalids can jump over water, they'd probably need to go around instead of jumping straight to you, so even if it's only half-exploit it might be enough.

Third part - move your soldier next to the button (bottom as on screenshot, you don't have to go up, that saves you some moves), and all other soldiers to cover their escape route. Press button, GTFO. This part is basically trivial. I could have stayed a few more turns and killed a few more aliens for XP, but I left with 4 turns remaining until air strike.

Immediately after this mission I got informed about EXALT. EXALT is supposedly so OP in the Long War they're nerfing in next patch - this coming from the same people who want to give Chrysalids melee run&gun.

I got 7 promotions out of this mission, it doesn't have any other rewards, except for satisfaction that I won damn Newfoundland with mostly rookie squad in the Long War.
 #xcom   #longwar

My fortified position for 2nd wave

Press button, GTFO.


Post 11 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-24 20:55:31 UTC

Cemetery - the map I hate more than just about any other map. Ton of Zombies, ton of Chrysalids, and Cyberdisk with 2 drones. I'm just one cover ops away from end of May now.

Some observations:
• I still think rockets being so unreliable is total bullshit - even giving the rocketeer SCOPE, picking high aim soldiers as rocketeers, being stationary while launching etc. both rockets failed to go where I wanted, and even managed to kill a civilian which would otherwise be saved. A team of 6 snipers and 2 scouts would probably be the best team I can get.
• I have higher opinion of engineers than I thought - their grenades don't do guaranteed damage any more, but at least they're guaranteed to hit where I want, which is good enough.
• Apparently neither flashbangs nor chem grenades do anything to cyberdisks. Oh well, I can't be bother to alt-tab to wiki to check.
• 8/18 being poor terror mission result is really annoying - there's usually no fucking way to do any better since half of the civilians die off screen, and the other half die while you're busy fighting aliens. 8/18 is much better than average result and should could as such. (in vanilla 1/18 is considered good, but there you get free panic from missed abductions, so it's other kind of bullshit instead).
• My air power is ridiculously weak.
• I'm finally getting 2 Arc Throwers - probably will be ready for next month's first or second alien mission
• I thought I'd get 2nd Slingshot mission (the one with train and timer) soon after 1st Slingshot mission, but it's been a few months now
• Lasers make a huge difference - another reason I don't care much for rocketeers and gunners - their damage output doesn't get increased as much as regular troops yet. Snipers with laser rifles, that will be something, hopefully next month.
 #xcom   #longwar

Post 12 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-24 23:22:07 UTC

And so May ended with my first EXALT mission. It definitely felt like total bullshit - encoder was on the other side of the map with EXALTs swarming over there - even if I rushed all my troops ignoring basic rules of safety I wouldn't be able to make it in time.

Fortunately transmitter was closer to me and somewhat defensible, and 3 EXALT comm relays were very close to each other so I could trigger them on 3 consecutive turns - they can still throw grenades even when their primary weapons are disabled.

A lot of EXALTs survived with just 1 or 2 hp, so lowering their life a bit as next beta is supposed to do would definitely help, but I have no idea when that comes out.

I ended up with 2 wounded soldiers - one got his covered destroyed, panicked, ran into the open, fortunately the rest of my soldiers were able to kill all nearby EXALTs that turn, so he lucked out of it. The other one was grenade too. Better body armor will help with that - EXALTs get laser weapons at some point, not sure if they also get any grenades.

I started 1st laboratory and 4th satellite uplink - that's probably premature, I'll probably just get 1 satellite this month to get North America bonus, and 2 more in July (for South America maybe).
 #xcom   #longwar

Post 13 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-25 16:03:01 UTC

Damn it, I got my 2 Arc Throwers, two 55% shots in a row missed, and my best sniper got shot by a seeker surviving at 1hp :-/

At least with 8-soldier squad and 2 Arc Throwers things should start going a lot better.
 #xcom   #longwar

Post 14 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-25 22:21:32 UTC

It doesn't make for fun stories that capturing aliens requires ton of setup - and then it all ends up being a coin flip anyway. 4th coin flip worked and I finally got a captive Sectoid.

Here's base layout in case you're wondering why I didn't build any laboratories - satellite uplinks absolutely need 2 columns, and I didn't get any steam vents so I gave power supplies its 2 column grid.

I could have put Foundry on far left, Alien Containment on 3rd level below it (since there's no need to rush it), and then I'd have whole right column for labs, which would probably be better than my current layout.

So far aliens managed to destroy my satellite over India - and they're progressing pretty damn well, each meld canister has 8 meld in it. My air power sucks so hard I had literally zero interceptors I could even try to send against that satellite-hunting UFO. I'm building just 2 satellites this month - one replacement over India, and one for Mexico to get some air discounts. As soon as I get that discount I'll need to increase my air force from 4/continent to 6/continent (then I'll move 2 from each to third continent and buy some laser canons so they can actually fight in the air).
 #xcom   #longwar

Post 15 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-08-28 20:37:06 UTC

Random  #xcom   #longwar  rant: Many vanilla maps are just way too fucking tiny for amounts of aliens and soldiers they try to pack onto them. There's no strategy involved when any kind of flanking movement attempt will invariable trigger every single fucking pod on the entire fucking tiny map.

There's no way in hell to make this work like that. If there's no way to get map editor and make them larger, everybody's mobility and range should be cut by about 25% to make it still work, instead of making it even higher than vanilla by giving everybody shit ton of bonuses, some of which increase mobility.

Vanilla had a few really tiny shitty maps, in  #longwar  half of the maps are like that.

Post 16 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-09-04 18:33:18 UTC

I got back to it, and managed to capture Muton with Alien Grenades in really awkward mission, then got a request for a few alloys that offered huge amounts of money. I decided to build 4 more satellites this month and not send a new one to India anytime soon - instead last day of the month Mexico gets 1 and Africa gets 3, then first day of next month I'll build up cheap air force for my triple continental bonus.

My air force is currently really awful, hopefully laser cannons finish researching sometime soon. My soldiers on the ground can handle the aliens OKish - I'm even attempting to capture some most missions. Nobody with disabling shot yet, which is the best ability to help with alien captures - I'm manufacturing Arc Rifle which is Scout weapon that gives disabling shot perk (if I understand correctly). That's going to be pretty awesome if it works.
 #xcom   #longwar

Post 17 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-09-25 20:19:05 UTC

Oh that's fucking awesome. I tried to get back to my XCOM Long War campaign, now it freezes in start menu at "Load user settings" and google knows nothing about that. Fuck everything about modern gaming.

EDIT: Of twenty different "solutions" I've found online, starting Steam in offline mode is the only one that seems to work (but I only got to menu, I haven't tried any missions yet). Something tells me I wouldn't have any of these problems if I just used pirated version instead of fucking Steam.
 #xcom     #longwar

Post 18 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-09-26 17:16:01 UTC

 #xcom   #longwar  campaign is back after 3 week break!

OK, so full reinstall and some messing with settings later, the campaign is back on - with Confounding Light, the most difficult mission in the game (since it's on hard timer). I took far too many risks for my liking, and fortunately ended up with just two wounded soldiers, and I still barely made it. As was appropriate, Zhang (who's Assault in my campaign) delivered the device.

It's a bit awkward, as I brought all my best soldiers to the mission, and I have EXALT mission in 6 days, as well as Battleship mission real soon after this one. Both will be massive pain, with half of my best soldiers unavailable.

Post 19 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-09-26 20:30:31 UTC

The game sure doesn't bother with any originality. Terror attack - 6 Chrysalids, 20 zombies, have fun. I couldn't take my best squad since battleship mission and EXALT mission are coming in the next few days.

I'm surprised how many civilians survived that - especially since every single one of them was on far side of the map - I kept moving forward as soon as I could fight my way through alien hordes, but I never reached them the whole mission.

Nobody is wounded - against chrysalids you survive unscratched or you die, there's no middle ground. (at least that early into the game)
 #xcom   #longwar

Post 20 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-09-30 21:24:35 UTC

 #xcom   #longwar  - the battleship mission!

It was actually a lot easier (on Normal) than I remember it being unmodded Enemy Within Classic, normally they're about comparable, except for EXALT which is ridiculously harder in  #longwar  (supposedly gets nerfed in beta 14), and terror missions which are harder since saving 1 civilian is no longer enough.

• The hardest part of the mission is bugged preactivated Cyberdisk which can shot you or throw grenades at you the turn it finds you - now that I've played it enough I know how not to get squad wiped by it. Of course it still threw a grenade, seriously wounding two of my soldiers since it was on the right side, not on the left like I remembered...
• Another big issue was lack of full cover - but since Long War increases low cover bonuses (from 20 low 40 high to 30 low 45 high) it saves your ass a lot
• Thin men acid attacks and suppression are way less problematic than in vanilla - and Thin men no longer get massive accuracy bonuses here.
• As far as I can tell number of aliens did not increase significantly like on normal missions, since most of them are scripted - number of my soldiers on the other hand is 8 not 6.

Overall it went pretty damn well. Also snapshot sniper is pretty useful in this kind of crowded architecture, now that I can take snapshot + squadsight. Picking just one in vanilla was a total nobrainer.

Post 21 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-10-11 08:51:05 UTC

 #xcom   #longwar  postmortem.
I have an ongoing campaign, but I'll probably just let it go.

Main reasons:
• No end in sight. Even with "Not So Long War" option I don't see this game ever ending. Number of missions is just crazy, and my time is finite.
• Maps were just not designed for number of soldiers and aliens on them. Too often it's an instant clusterfuck.
• Way too much randomness overall. Sure, they reduced it in a few places - like chain panic and soldiers shooting each other happens a lot less often, but overall it's been increased way past the point it does the game any good.
• Ridiculous amount of time spend preparing squad every single time. In vanilla it took seconds. Here it's 5 minutes of time wasted for 30 minute mission. Many Let's Plays literally fast forward that, but it's not like you can do that yourself. Fatigue system forces you to resetup everything every time, and if you actually try to find decent squad (who has double use of Arc Thrower on my squad, how about double use of chem grenades...). I understand why they created fatigue system (not playing same squad every time), but it's just not worth added micromanagement.

The mod does a lot of fun stuff, so if you liked vanilla, it might be worth giving it a try, but with so many games out there I'll just play something else.

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