These mission names… What gives, XCOM 2? UnwiseOwl just before me got ‘Operation Swamp Queen’ but I think this one of mine takes home the charming cake this time around.

More fortunately though, unlike last time I was in control, I actually managed to successfully hit the ‘record’ button. So if you’d rather watch the mission instead of read about it, you’re free to do so.

I have to say though, boy have things escalated since I last had the reins. All the scary enemies are out to play now. This mission I ran was no exception and for the first time since the very beginning ill-fated mission, I had to actually use my mulligan and start the mission over. You can see that in all its glory in the video below, too. Even in my refreshed run — where you’d think I might be a bit more careful — I almost got Rakuno killed by accidentally moving him in a dash. Whoops.

Oh well, on with the show!

Operation… *sigh* …Sweaty Star

It has been a while. Several months in fact. I last played back in November, so I took a few minutes to acclimate myself and see how our base was going these days before really getting stuck in.

Immediately capturing my attention is the reminder that we finished the Shadow Chamber. Looking into it though, we haven’t researched either the Codex Brain or the more recently acquired Stasis Suit to see what they’re about. Unfortunately, they pause our general research while our scientists change focus but at a few days a piece each, I think its well past time we found out what was going on here.

Summary of events here:

  • The Codex attempts to reverse hack us, and almost exceeds, shattering our Shadow Chamber’s containment unit before being deactivated. However, we do obtain some return coordinates which may be of interest to us.
  • The Stasis Suit contains a… genetic blank slate, of a sort. Mostly human in DNA but with blank spots where Muton, Beserker, or other DNA can be inserted. We’ve somewhat been fighting ourselves this entire time.

In amongst researching these items though, the Avatar Project goes mental and makes 4-pips of progress back to back. We instantly went from having a comfortable buffer to almost letting the project complete.

This decides my course of action this turn.

I ignore the normal Guerrilla Ops mission prompt and rush another contact, where an Avatar Project facility exists.

We have to slow the Advent forces down, before it’s too late. Now or never. Sure, some dark project effects are going to come to punish us later but in the grand scheme of things… What choice do we have?

The Sweaty Star Team

The team I take along to destroy the facility
  • Col. Liz ‘Magi’ Winterfield – Sniper — Here to make sure things die.
  • Lt. Naithin Nahilin – Ranger — Can’t send my team where I’m not willing to go.
  • Maj. Rakuno Venmuel – Grenadier — Shredding armor is this man’s game.
  • Maj. Sofia ‘Black Widow’ Vasilyeva – Specialist — Callsign not withstanding, Sofia’s here to heal.
  • Cptn. Bookah Nerk – Specialist — Hacking and Robot Combat, skills likely to be in hot demand this run.
  • Cptn. Tessa ‘Endalia’ Hastjarjanto – Sniper — Fast firing pistol hotshot.

I remove all the default picks and hand pick my team, ensuring to ‘make utility items available’ and ‘make armor available’ so I can kit them out with everything at our disposal.

In a mission with so many heavy units, I wouldn’t mind another Grenadier with Armor Shredding in the last spot — but Tessa has never let me down so far.

This is also a relatively high rank team. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take along at least one person in need of promotion themselves but I’m already terrified by whats out there.

Turns out? Rightly so.

Sectopods are on the scene.

The Mission

Sectopod. It started with roughly a million health and 4 armor.

As noted above, I ended up taking a mulligan this run for the first time since my first ill-fated run in the freaking opening mission of the game.

I left it in the video so you can see how deliciously wrong it all went but I’ll only talk to the ‘canon’ version of events here1. Which… Still wasn’t entirely without mishap. I’m getting ahead of myself though.

My main objective at the start of this mission is to activate as few pods of enemies at the same time as possible.

If I can get the Sectopod all on its own, so much the better.

It doesn’t quite play out that way, though. I commence Plan: Sectopod Ambush by tossing an Acid Grenade at it, to burn off some of its armor. This also alerts an advent shielder and stun lancer. Not ideal, but certainly not as bad as things played out in an alternate timeline.

Not to mention, Rakuno lands his overwatch shot right off the bat, stripping the remaining two armor.

The sectopod goes down in a rather impressive glory, right before another pod including an Archon and two more Advent soldiers come in from the back.

Naithin takes a blast of electricity from a stun lance but the two Specialists extract him from a rather precarious position.

Rakuno decides there are still altogether too many enemies angry at us at the same time and so launches a grenade into their midst, taking out the Archon. The aliens retaliate and he catches a dose of shock treatment for his trouble, too.

Not to worry though, the stun lancer essentially signed his death warrant, opening up a flanking shot from Magi.

Shortly after this, I do make a tactical error. I click Rakuno to run too far, into a dash rather than a single-action move. This leaves him right out in the open to return fire from the enemy below, without the chance to fire back first. <facepalm>

Sofia gets Rakuno healed and revived in short order, but this has used our full supply of remotely deployable med-kits on essentially the very first encounter.

The next encounter, fortunately, isn’t as scary as the first. It’s a pair of super-heavy turrets attached to the top of the facility.

Pfffffft. After the last round of enemies, these guys are nothing… Provided I take them out without also aggravating something else.

And this time? This time, everything goes to plan.

We mop up the turrets in relatively short order — with Specialist Bookah Nerk deactivating one via remote hack — and then head down for a closer look at the facility itself.

You know…

Before we blow it up.

As we close in, through the windows of the building in one side and out the other, we spot the enemy.

And… I’m just about ready to tell everyone to go home.

It’s another Sectopod. With support. We no longer have either the acid grenade or the element of surprise.

This could turn out… very badly.

*whimper*

The Sectopod does a pretty good Kool-aid Man, ‘Oh Yeah!’ing its way through the building walls. After which, it starts scanning Rakuno. Menacingly. I don’t think anything good will come of sticking around to find out exactly what happens when it finishes, but there is no way I can kill it in a single round.

Then I remember: The Mimic Grenade.

Will it help against a Sectopod? I’m unsure. Some of the more advanced enemies can choose to ignore it.

Fortunately for us, it doesn’t. It goes right for it. Pumps 10 points of damage into our hologram. Then another soldier fires at it for another 6, causing the mimic to disappear.

I am reasonably sure that UnwiseOwl, who spent the resources to build this grenade, just saved at least one person’s life on this mission.

This round, the Sectopod goes down, leaving the shielder and his soldier buddy.

Planting the bomb.

They go down in fairly short order. In the case of the shielder, quite literally. Tessa ‘misses’ her shot at him, but destroys the floor beneath his feet. Gravity exerts itself and gives this guy a particularly bad day. Considerable damage from the fall, and worse, now standing without cover right in the line of fire of… Pretty much the entire XCOM team.

Reinforcements are signaled, but I move the team into positions within the building, ready to plant the charge and then escape out the other side.

This goes off without a hitch, and everyone gets home. Perhaps a little worse for wear — but alive.

After Action Report

With how badly wounded Rakuno and I both were in the course of this mission, I expected the recovery time to be much longer.

However, with the Advanced Warfare Center finishing building before this mission started and being staffed by a drone to take care of the hospital functions, recovery speed in general should be much better going forward.

Hopefully we won’t have any instances of our entire top tier teams being out of action all at the same time.

… XCOM is going to make me regret saying that… I can feel it.

So quickly moving on… The promotions!

  • Naithin promotes to Captain, picking up the Bladestorm skill.
    This allows free sword attacks on any enemies that enter or attack from melee range. (Stun lancers, I got my eye on you.)
  • Bookah promotes to Major, picking up the Ever Vigilant skill.
    This one was a tough choice. Ever Vigilant makes it so that every time Bookah takes a dash action, he automatically ends that turn in Overwatch. The alternative, Guardian, says that every time Bookah made a successful Overwatch shot (by which I take to mean it didn’t miss, not that it necessarily killed something), there was a 50% chance of taking another shot. In theory this could chain. It’s a gamble skill though. Piling RNG on more RNG. Ever Vigilant being more reliably activated is what decided it for me.
  • Tessa also promotes to Major, picking up the Steady Hands skill.
    Whenever Tessa takes a shot without having moved the previous turn, her shot gains +10 aim and +10 critical chance.

Beyond the promotions, we also grabbed 2 more Elerium Cores, and a Superior Auto-Loader weapon mod. Most important of all though, we set the Avatar Project back by 3 pips and delayed further progress a little. It’s still far too close for my liking, but I pass over to the very capable hands of Rakuno next.

Rakuno, the save game is here.

Footnotes

  1. Although note to self for future: Remember that the Archon’s ‘Blazing Pinions’ move explodes in an AoE around where it lands.

Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

3 Comments

Rakuno · February 9, 2022 at 6:37 am

Good grief, that was some horrible luck in this mission!

You were also right to fear that Sectopod red scan. If I am not wrong (and I might be), that is their preparation to use the Wrath Cannon which is a horrible, horrible attack that you don’t want to deal with. Even if I am wrong it is just a good idea to run from it.

Also, that mimic beacon definitely saved someone’s life. I never thought that tool had any good use but this run changed my mind about it.

Considering everything you did an excellent job with this mission!

I will see if I can knock down a few more pips during my turn. Hopefully maybe even make it so they can’t pull something like this again any time soon.

    Naithin · February 11, 2022 at 9:11 pm

    I won’t lie, I too had been very down on the mimic grenade previously. I almost didn’t take it. And then when I did, I almost forgot I had it. Haha.

    Glad that neither of those things actually happened though, I think that mission would’ve gone very differently otherwise!

[XCom 2] Blogger Succession Game – Mission 26: Operation Night Song – Shards of Imagination · February 11, 2022 at 11:49 am

[…] started and finished the construction of the Shadow Chamber and Advanced Warfare Center. The first one was a requirement for the main […]

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