XCOM 2: Blogger Succession Game — Mission 32: Operation Failing Altar

As a bit of a recap, Kluwes, UnwiseOwl and I are the final three players of the game. This is more player drop-off than we saw during the Civilisation 6 Succession Game, but perhaps this isn’t really too surprising. Arguably, XCOM 2 is the more difficult game to get into — particularly when the ramp-up between missions you individually play can be so severe. Not to mention, the Civ 6 game ‘only’ took a year to wrap, whereas we’re now rolling into the year and a half or so territory on this one.

Player drop-off aside, I’d say the game has been fairly successful of late! The Avatar project progress has been beaten right back as we take out facility after facility.

When I opened the Geoscape to consider the world situation, I was greeted with the fact that UnwiseOwl’s prior actions set the Avatar Project back to just three pips. This gives me a high degree of freedom to improve our overall situation without an immediate pressing worry.

Operation Failing Altar

With the immediacy of the Avatar Project threat reduced, I thought it might be better to get in some preparation for the future. We have a supply drop coming in the near future, and I still had time to build a radio tower which would double the income from the region I built it in and, better yet, activate the continent’s bonus.

I start work on one in Eastern Europe as it has a good base income and, well, because I was already there.

While building the radio tower, the power relay our engineers had been working on was completed, which is good — because we were running right up to redline on power capacity. Initially, I thought this was why I wasn’t allowed to progress our overall mission and build the Psionic Gate, although I later worked out we had to research it first in the Shadow Chamber before we knew how to construct it.

With Power Armor so close, I opt to let that complete first. Hopefully, the additional income will help us build it right when available, too.

The Avatar Project facility in Australia does manage to increase progress by one pip as the build work continues, but I’m still not overly bothered by this. Still… We’re going to have to deal with it eventually, so I do make contact with Australia my next action.

Also worthy of note, though: The European continent bonus (now activated) is All In, and it improves our total monthly supplies income by 20% (on top of the extra income generated by the radio tower itself. Yay!)

I don’t get the finish, however, as a Guerilla mission pops up. It feels like a while since we’ve done one of these!

It’s ultimately the rewards on this one which decides my next action. We’re not short on Intel right now, and Engineers are always useful. Stopping the ADVENT from having poison rounds almost convinces me to change my mind, but the other event is ‘Hidden’ so I have no way of knowing whether it’s even worse… So. Rewards it is! Engineer, here we come!

The Failing Altar Team

  • Col. Tessa ‘Endalia’ Hastjarjanto – Sniper — Fast-firing pistol hotshot.
  • Col. Sofia ‘Black Widow’ Vasilyeva – Specialist — Callsign notwithstanding, Sofia’s here to heal.
  • Sgt. Klaus ‘Mailman’ Weiss – Sniper — Following after Endalia with a pistol focus — but still able to send it from a mile away.
  • Cpl. Vasily Malakhov – Grenadier — Yet to earn a callsign, but filling in a much-needed skills gap.
  • Maj. Easha ‘Silentdeath’ Dustfeather – Ranger — Stealthy. Deadly. Potential scout of the group.
  • Maj. Naithin Nahilin – Ranger — Can’t send my team where I’m not willing to go. Good with a blade in a pinch.

While still a relatively high-ranked team; some of the XCOM big-guns like Magi are staying home to recuperate this time around. Filling in, we have ‘Mailman’ Klaus Weiss, UnwiseOwl’s third or so ingame stand-in character who — spoiler — becomes something of a hero in this round, a couple of times over, and Vasily Malakhov as a much-needed fill into the gap of Grenadier.

The Mission

Mimic Grenades. Never leave home without ’em.

I had to use the one I brought pretty much right out of the gate this time around. You see… I kinda bumbled Easha too far forward, and activated not one, but two rather intimidating ADVENT pods before she’d even finished running to the first spot I sent her.1

I almost took my mulligan then and there.

How on earth was she meant to survive that situation?

The situation. Easha is running in from the south side of the screen — there is a Codex and Andromedon already visible. Easha’s destination is the car. When she gets there, an Archon and another soldier up on the rooftop to the north decide to join in too. After the ADVENT do their scramble moves — Easha will find herself flanked and out of moves.

But I decided to play it out regardless. Maybe there would be a way?

Turns out, there was. Not only did Easha make it, but she — nor anyone else — took a scratch in the process. That would absolutely change later, but for now! No damage.

I sent my character, Naithin, down to ground level and threw his Mimic grenade behind full cover but within detection range of the angry aliens. Next up was Endalia, unleashing her pistol-driven wrath from on high. Lightning Hands took a free shot at the Codex, damaging it and triggering it to clone itself. Tessa followed up with Face Off to fire again at all visible enemies, finishing off the split Codex and damaging the Andromedon in the process.

Black Widow, not to be outdone, took a standard shot at the Andromedon landing a critical and destroying the organic alien within. Learning from past experience, we knew it wasn’t done yet though. Malakhov got in position and went overwatch, ready to take it out when the inevitable charge toward Easha started. ‘Mailman’ Weiss wasn’t about to stand around waiting though, he reckoned could land the shot right from where he stood. Turns out? He was right — 9 points of damage. Not a kill, but lining it up for Malakhov to save the day.

But now, it was the ADVENT turn.

Predictably, the Andromedon shell started to charge — but was stopped short by Malakhov’s withering fire.

The ADVENT Soldier took the bait of the Mimic grenade and fired at it instead of potentially blowing up the car Easha was still hidden behind. For the Soldier’s troubles, Malakhov launched a frag grenade his way, removing cover and allowing Easha the much-needed release of taking something out herself. She took it out with a stunning critical and an explosion of loot.

Just the Archon remained.

With the distance involved, Endalia cast aside her pistols for this shot and went back to basics.

Tessa, Naithin and Mailman collectively took it out with ease. Mailman sending a shot from across the map for 12 damage on only a 53% chance to land it. For the time being, the coast was clear, and everyone was safe. And like I mentioned, nary a scratch on anyone.

It was time to move forward again and hack the terminal.

En route, reinforcements arrived — but they were nothing too scary. Three soldiers, including an elite and a captain. Two of the three didn’t even survive their groundfall, however, and the third was taken out shortly after.

We hacked the terminal with plenty of time to spare, but then… Well… Then things started coming off the rails a little bit.

It was bound to happen eventually.

No one died, but in the process of taking out a Gatekeeper / Archon duo, we took a fair amount of damage. It… um… It was Easha who discovered them too, with her face again. I really don’t have a wish to see Easha’s character dead, I swear, but I would have to forgive you for thinking so with the incidents in this run.

The Gatekeeper let loose with an orb of Psionic energy, which did moderate damage to a few of our soldiers, but perhaps more worryingly was that it raised a couple of previously-inanimate corpses to fight for it.

I still had a Flashbang packed away — the other grenade type you should never leave home without — but I have to admit, I wasn’t entirely certain it would work on a Gatekeeper. Fortunately, it did, and the now animate corpses went back to their inanimate state without achieving much of anything.

Turns out, plasma fire from rifles and pistols ain’t the only thing Mailman can send. He can also deliver precision rockets from a goodly distance, which finished off the Archon Naithin had weakened and shredded yet more armour on the Gatekeeper.

Ultimately, we all made it home with a new Engineer in tow, although perhaps a little worse for wear here and there.

After Action Report

Easha on promotion unlocked a hidden ability, too. I had honestly forgotten is even a thing. But with the Advanced Warfare Centre built, occasionally a soldier can learn an ability from other classes, in addition to what they’ve picked up from their own class.

Easha got a good one too — Shredder. Her normal shots will now shred armour.

The Colonel promotion choice is between Rapid Fire and Reaper. Rapid Fire allows you to take two shots at a single enemy, but both with -15 aim. Reaper on the other hand, starts a melee attack chain, where your first strike cannot miss. Every kill you make with Reaper active provides you with another turn, but subsequent melee attacks will deal reduced damage.

I have to admit; I wasn’t especially blown away by either option!

-15 aim is fairly significant. But on the other hand, melee has fallen off as the danger of the enemy has increased — let alone melee in a situation where you might be inclined to dash into multiple enemies. Perhaps it might be useful in an AoE group where a number of enemies have all been left at low health? Although even then, I imagine the Sniper ability ‘Serial’ to be the far safer option, and without the damage drop off too!

I split the difference and took Reaper on Easha, and Rapid Fire on Naithin.

Guess we’ll have to see how they go!

In any event, it’s now over to Kluwes again! The save game is right here.


This was posted during Blaugust 2022, the annual blogging event hosted by Belghast. Blaugust is an event aiming to welcome new blogger blood into the fold and revitalise those who’ve been at it a little longer.

The Blaugust Discord is still available to join in year-round!

Footnotes

  1. I do, in fact, know only to send the scout forward one set of action points at a time, but I was complacent here. Quite often, you’ll do a full team sprint on the first turn without spotting the enemy. Not this time though, it was a very cosy seeming map!

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.

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