One of the most enjoyable aspects of playing XCOM, at least for me, is the punishing difficulty levels. Unlike my initial fears, this game is turning out to be at least as challenging as its predecessor, and will quite likely outstrip it as either Retaliation/Second Wave or Expansion packs come out for it. What I initially took for soft is, instead the plush outer coating of a grenade wrapped in velvet, and once you’ve cut off the skin, there is no going back.

What happened to my second game is testament to this concept, and one of the key reasons I keep coming back to this and Enemy within. Amusingly enough I keep having the voice of Illidan run through my head.

You are not prepared.

Be forewarned. There may be light spoilers ahead, but mostly about gameplay, less about story.

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There is an aspect of this hobby that is both maddening and joyous all at once, and that is the mini Christmas, called new model release. Well, for some of us its called new model purchase or delivery. However, and whenever, you get your new toys, there is this insatiable itch to get them on the table and see if they actually are as good, or as bad, as the internet has proclaimed them to be months ago. I just recently picked up Barathrum and a pair of Shrikes, and I am suffering from the burning sensation to give them a whirl.

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This second go-round in XCOM 2 is progressing remarkably better.  I have no faith that I will be able to beat my second run, because the game can’t be that easy, but during this session I am making better choices, building a better Avenger than last go round and taking down enemies more efficiently in missions.  More than anything, though, I am learning how the game actually functions and how to set op the game for the results I need, especially with the Tactical Missions.

Remember – Gamplay and a few story spoilers beyond the break

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The Last Stand of the Avenger

 

It is done. The first Timeline of the XCOM universe also ends in disaster. Though they fought a valiant campaign, the war was not to be won. Following two successive completely failed mission, resulting in the loss of 8 of the 10 combined soldiers, the Avenger was shot down. All the soldiers remaining aboard rushed to defend the entrance of the ship. Sadly, that last line of defense consisted of Warrior, Hunter and a Rookie. Three against an army.

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art by Marek

 

With the return to Cryx and the list of casters I wanted to play being pretty short, I knew that Goreshade, Lord of Ruin was going to get his shake pretty swiftly. The urge to put Denny 3 on the board was enormous, as both her model and her rules were extremely compelling. Goreshade 3 had come out much earlier and was burning a hole in my brain for longer, and had even come up, prior to Denny 2 and Body and Soul, as a strong Cryx tournament caster. I was extremely torn.

Fortunately, Deneghra showed up at the wrong time, was unable to be assembled until recently, and still has a cadre of models that need to be assembled before I use her. Goresahde 3 hit the table the first week of January, and I’m not looking to trade him in for a while yet. Continue reading

I’ve not talked about it much, but there is another massive drain on my free time. on that has been the boogyman to my Fallout gameplay, my hobby time and my sleep for a long while now. Its also going to be one of the few games I ever break my rules with.

Because its XCOM, and there is little like it in the world of video games.

*there are possible Story and Mechanic spoilers. You are warned. I will not mention it again this article* 

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Ruin is upon us. 

With the new year, I’ve put aside my Skorne, and for the next 18 or so months, I’ll be playing Cryx, the army that brought me into Warmachine and the one that I love the most. Its a faction that feel like how Warmachine was imagined to be played, which is a start contrast to the types of games I used to play. Coming from the long, brutal slogs that are Skorne, it is going to be a refreshing change of pace to play with a heavy assassination hand.

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