Over the last few days, Sodapop miniatures has come another small, closer step to releasing their models. They have released starter box breakdowns and videos of the models as well.

Star Nebula Corsairs
Cerci Speed Circuit
Noh Empire
Doctrine
Shattered Sword
Black Diamond

Each of the updates has a bit of the faction story line, the battlebox, and then the contents.

I purchased the Star Nebula Corsairs because they were the least Pin-uppy of the group, and I liked the idea of playing a group of pirates. It wasn’t a large pledge, but I was pleased to be getting the game. We played a couple games with the original beta rules, and they were an overall solid game. I haven’t had a chance to go over the new preview rules, but I will need to soon, and I’ll let you know how the game plays and feels!

I was very excited to see the models when the Kickstarter ended some 2 million years ago, and when they finally showed up, I was stunned. They were not models I would like to play. They were flat, two dimensional models, and it was especially obvious next to the giant Noh Dragon.

So, while I was still excited, it muted itself fairly quickly. I’ve made worse choices in kickstarters. Then, on January 31st, they posted the update above, and it got me really pumped again. Lets go through it!

The first thing they showed off was the Card Deck. It comes with some 15 reference cards and all the Esper cards you can ever need. I hope they are of good quality, and it cool of them to include them in the starter box. Might make it more expensive to start a second faction, but it’ll be great the first time.

RK card deck

They also preview the Mini-rulebook, a growing trend in the miniatures game world. Where once you were forced to buy the story and all the fluff behind a game, now you have access to small rules manuals that leave all of the story and world behind and deliver the rules in a portable, understandable way. I enjoy the concept, personally. I don’t always like the fluff of a game, and sometimes it actually is completely boring.

RK mini Rulebook

Then they pull out all the game-related you get in the box: Piles of tokens, objective markers and a pair of objective cards, along with the cards for all the models in the box to go along with the models themselves. I find the pre-colored bases insanely strange, but I’ll take it. I’ll just prime over the damned thing anyway. Finally, they also give you a dashboard, the place where all your maintenance happens. I really expect these will end up a lot like MT:G Playmats, with huge varieties spawning, and a booming secondary market. No one likes customization and color matching like minis gamers.

RK dashboard

Then came the moment of truth: The model Video. I watched it hoping that the models would not disappoint me. Each model brought more and more hope. The two Corsairs to start our were really cool, the broadsides cannon was freaking awesome, the Third corsair was much more dynamic than I remembered. And then, Harker. He, still, is such a disappointment. He’s just so… flat. I understand certain static poses: Seige and Irusk and others have has some really great static poses. But this model is just not what I want to have in my army.

So, I am back to being stoked. Its been forever since the kickstarter ended, and a thousand failed promises on a due date, but one day, I will have space pirate miniatures, and that makes me pretty happy.
I leave you now with previews of the Relic Knight of the Star Nebula Corsairs: Calico Kate!

Calico Kate 1

Calico Kate 2

The first weekend of February was the pre-release of Born of the Gods. It was the first time with an official Two Headed Giant format for pre-release sealed. My brother and I went into Saturday night hoping to get some good games in. Last time, with the Theros Pre-release, we did pretty well. This time.. We, uh, failed.

So, the change in the format allows for two 6 pack pre-release boxes between the team. 2 Color-skewed packs, 4 Born of the Gods Packs, and 6 Theros Packs. Normally you’d only get 8 packs to build your deck with, and my brother and I thought that these packs would help smooth the process out. Sadly, this was not the case. Instead of helping it created a ton of tension – Every color and every combination was solid.

We took green and black: Both colors had almost thoroughly solid rares. Black removal and green ramp were going to be where it was at.  We had a solid pull, however: Gift of Immortality, Fated Retribution, Purphoros, Hammer of Purphoros, Spear of Heliod, Mogis, Karametra, Nessian Wilds Ravager (Promo) , Flame Wreathed Phoenix, Eater of Hope (Promo), Curse of Swine, Heroes Downfall, Archetype of Imagination: one more,  but I don’t remember it having a great impact on what happened.

Unfortunately, with all the colors being so filled out with the 12 packs, we had a hard time cutting any. I built a black/red fast deck, and my brother built a green/white/blue heroic deck. we had to cut a ton of really good cards, and I think it hurt us a lot that we didn’t drop one color, probably blue. We argued a bit about the cards we wanted in each deck. With each color so rich there was always going to be something good left out. It was really much harder to make a 12 pack deck than it was an 8 pack. Next time, we cut a color early.

our first set, against our friend Dan and his buddy from CA,  ended out pretty poorly because I couldn’t get a second swamp on board. with three sips of hemlock rotting in my hand because I had only the one black source, the new Hero of Leina Tower dropped on turn 2 got real big, real fast, and we had no hope of stopping it. The ordeals and Aura’s targeting it made it really bad. We had a chance here and there, if I’d have been able to either asphyxiate it or Sip of Hemlock it, but we just couldn’t get it in.

Next, we got the bye, which is sad. You come to places like this to get some games and and hang out. My brother and I got to play each other, though, and hang out, which was awesome. However, with the decks built as they are, mine just out-removaled his, and I won most of the matches we played: But he wasn’t built to actually take any decks on alone, so it made sense. I just happened to have the removal deck.

The last set we played was against our friends John and  Ben. Turns out, that not having two mountains is just as bad as not having two swamps. Ben ended up playing Mogis, and we just couldn’t keep up between the 4 damage a turn or sacrificing creatures to appease the god of Slaughter.

We didn’t win a single game, and that was really alright, because I got to hang out with my brother and a few friends, and I did make out with some seriously good Pulls: Mine were Hammer, Mogis, Karametra, Heroes Downfall, Gift of Immortality, and Fated Retribution. I should be able to either put them into commander decks, or trade them off for good stuff, and honestly,  I look forward to starting to draft again in March. 

Until then!

All the things that PP released from Templecon this weekend have me immensely excited to be playing their games, all of them. Even Level 7: Invasion has me really stoked to pick up a copy and defend the world.

There have been spoilers coming in from a thousand different directions, and I’m going to try and consolidate as many of them here as I can. If I’ve missed something, let me know.

Vengeance:
The very first thing that came out, Wednesday, was the Warmachine: Tactics Backer update. In it we got two Images:
Vengance Novice Warcasters

The first, above, is the painted sculpts of all the novice Warcasters, coming in Vengeance, along with Sturgis in both his epic and original incarnations. Sturgis is a separate release, but you know, I’ll accept that.

The second, below, is the cover of the short story compilation of all the novice Warcasters. If you look close enough, though, you’ll notice that the Khadoran ‘jack is wandering about in a distinctly different weapon load out. This lead to Kiko commenting on it and Matt Wilson replying with:

Indicating he knew about it, which is fantastic. Later on, Sunday evening, rumours started to surface that the gun on the hidden are of that monstrosity was a beast: ROF 5 and Double strike. Crazy, I say, but most things I’ve seen that are crazy come to light from a grain of truth.

Vengance new Khador Jack

Thursday morning, the store opened, and there were a number of early releases available, as their always is at these events. Among them was Rollin’ Bones Goreshade – a con exclusive sculpt of a soon to be released alt sculpt. Plarzoid got some unboxing pictures, and he looks really cool. He is not my style, but I can definitely see where he could appeal to a lot of people. s. Its a fantastic sculpt, and I look forward to the standard one.

About 10am. Chain attack got the scoop on Stryker 3, and man is this guys good!

Stryker 3 Compiled

I spoke with Lyle, who’d been running his Theme list all weekend:

Lord General Coleman Stryker,+5+5
-Stormwall19
-Ol' Rowdy9
Storm Lances 10
Storm Lances 10
Major Laddermore5
Stormblade Captian2

As you can see, the Theme List does at least two things.
-Point Cost reduction on Storm Lances
-FA Increase on Storm Lances

Lyle also mentioned that there were two other benefits: Armywide Pathfinder on turn 1, and +2 speed for ‘Jacks on turn 1. None of that is wasted space. The speed combined with Escort will rocket the battlegroup across the table. Pathfinder will make sure the army gets in position regardless of deployment, and cost reduction is two free points in the army, enough to grab a Stormblade Captain, say. I do not look forward to the beatings I expect to receive the first few times I fight him.

The next peak was late Thursday night, when Will Schick had his Goresshade III photograhped and put into the Cryx forums. I am really looking forward to grabbing him and putting him on the table.
Goreshade 3
Goreshade 3a

The final drop on Thursday was Will, again, sending a simple tweet out.

Turns out everyones favorite executioner got a bump in focus. With the known spoilers so far giving him a debuff feat that also makes enemies explode into fiery bonfires, and the Wracks immunity to non-magical shooting, the extra focus is going to be a stellar addition. with that 14″ control area and the Huge 4.75″ base, he can really reach a large portion of the battlefield with any control area effects he has, including his feat!

and this was all before the keynote Presentation Friday morning!

The keynote was all sorts of insane, too. While I was disappointed at the keynote of L&L last year, nothing of the sort can be said of this years Templecon. Dear God, did they set the stage. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch all five parts here

Lets dive in one piece at a time!

First came the Warmachine Tactics preview, where they showed all sorts of Sexy model preview and level designs. While I appreciate the preview, I’m still stoked from Kickstarter. I didn’t need anything to raise my level of excitement. It was really cool to see the Protectorate ‘jacks, along with Sorcha and Strakov. I Hadn’t know that they were going to have Strakov, though, and that’s cool to know.

The next Portion moved into something near and dear to my heart: IKRPG! They seem to have done the same thing with the IK as they did with Warmachine and Hordes. Its two separate, compatible games. IKRPG: Unleashed gives us a whole pile of new player character races: Tharn, Gatormen, Bog Trogs, and Pygs. You can also take Human, Trollkin and Nyss, though they are available in the IKRPG:FMF. They have Bonegrinder, Monster Hunter, Tharn Ravager and Bokur as classes for the taking. They also specifically call out each race as having vastly different Warlocks, which will create some really cool characters. Oh, and over a hundred pages of monsters! A hundred! That is just overwhelming. I can’t wait to get back to playing the IKRPG! Screenshots:

Unleashed 1

Unleashed 2

Unleashed 3

Now, now we get to the meat of the matter, the huge pulsating heart of the keynote.
Hordes: Exigence
Now, here is where we get all sorts of screenshots and Details. I’ll just link the pictures to a gallery. If you want to see what something looks like, click the link!

Hordes Exigence:
Female Gator (Juga Juga) and Farrow Casters (Helga the Conqueror)
The female gator has an undead snake, and behind her is an undead Tatzelwurm
Xerxes 2, mounted on a Rhino, on what looks to be a Huge Base. He’s also mentioned as having the most badass wheelchair, so its plausible his legs are broken.
Legion gets Epic Absylonia, who is said to have Conferred Rage, stolen from Butcher 2
Gator and Farrow Battle Engines: The gator one is a mobile sacrificial alter, and the Farrow one is a meatgriner/flamethrower.
New Character Warbeasts, including a Heavy Nephalim for Saryn/Rheays That has two different affinities
Satyr Warbeast that looks blind. Has a spear/staff for circle. Mentioned at the same time as more character warbeasts, but who knows.
Lesser warlocks for each faction with no set battlegroup but affinities for certain beasts
Troll: Pyre/slag
Circle -Falconer w/ Griffons
-Legion Lesser warlock mentioned, but no picture.
Three of the four (five?) factions will get Warbast “packs” of four smaller warbeasts. Is a combination of both unit (separate damage tracks like a Medium based unit, no spiral) and a warbeast (all the fury rules apply)
The Skorne look like little monster diggers
The Legion ones look like giant wasps
Rules:



There was also a brief moment that a trollkin unit with pistols showed up

Then, there is a short stint about a Risk-like game for Level 7: Invasion. I’ve very much enjoyed [escape] so I’m pretty sure I’ll pick this one up.

And, they saved the best for last, IMO. The new Mercs that are coming out at Lock and Load 2014: Cephalyx! Its been 6 years in the making, but it looks glorious!

Cephalyx will be a merc contract like Talion
– They will have living monstrosities, That are Living giant “not warjacks” with low arm but 36 boxes. – No cortex, do not count as warjacks, and are super cheap: No more than 7 points.

Cephalyx have Merc Attachments for any small or medium based merc unit, with Boomhowler, Alexia and Forge Guard called out. The UA will make them better, but if he dies, the unit starts to run.
A solo, a unit and a caster were spoiled:
Exulon Thexus


The solo is supposed to act like Choir, giving Cephalyx models +2 to hit and damage, a welcome addition to the monstrosities stats:
Cephalyx 1

The Unit is a Cephalyx and some special drudges that it can use as arc nodes, hopefully for some good effects. Thankfully, most of the Cephalyx have some sort of sacrificial pawn ability, enabling them to stay alive longer than would normally be the case. Except for Blast: that’ll kill ’em every time.

The final Spoilers I’ve managed to collect are on the Cygnar Reliants Gun. Supposedly, it shoots thunderstorms: AOE clouds that do lightning damage.

All in all, I am very pleased. Definitely picking up Cephalyx at L&L in June. Epic Xerxis looks awesome, as does the Skorne Beast pack. I am kinda upset I didn’t get to see the Skorne Lesser Warlock, but I can wait what with all the other Insane crap coming out!
Oh lord! I am going to have to get someone to paint my Sacrificial Alter for the Gator Exchange…

Till next time!

Malifaux 2e beta wave 2 has come to an end!

Well, Almost. There are two more stages that are coming, but neither of them are extremely earth shaking. Instead, they will finalize the game as it was, and will allow the developers to go forward with their new, shiny, awesome game.

The finalized rules are set to come out on Feb 10th, a little under a week away, and are going to represent the arsenal cards will for the models. I’m extremely glad that the large part of the beta test is over, as I can start preparing for what I want to have painted and able to be put on the board one day. The Avatar playtest is scheduled soon, and I’ll only have one or two dogs in that race, so we will see how involved I get.

I can only really talk about the Guild and what changes were made regarding their models, sadly, I just didn’t have the resources to keep up with all the factions and masters. I barely play my own faction as it his. I’ll just rundown a few of the changes I liked or disliked real quick

The-Guilds-Judgement

Captain Dashel, the old Drill Sargent totem from 1e, has had a full upgrade to henchman, and can now use soulstones! He’s really a Buffers buffer, and can aid almost any Guardsman shooting with Ready! Aim! and Fire!  He is significantly difficult to kill with both Armor +1 and Hard to Wound, and has a significantly brutal attack with his baton, ranging from 3/3/4 up to an absurd 5/5/6. He can even apply slow if needed, smacking the opposing model in the head. His final ability is a reactivation for a single friendly minion that then is sacrificed. I’m not a fan of sacrificing my all to precious models, but I play Perdiata. Maybe its just my training.  All in all, I am looking to putting him on the board with Either McCabe or McMourning!

Abuela Ortega:  went through a ton of changes throughout the playtest and was one of the models I was happiest to just let others hash out. She now has a varied suite of support and denial abilities, and a couple defensive measures. Her obey was changed, and she is now thematicly in a wheelchair with Roll Backwards and Roll Me Closer, Dear. Overall, I think the changes are neutral, and will have her in most of my Ortega Lists. I’m sad that she’s not cheap enough to fit into every list, just for the fun it’ll be.

Guild Hound: Ugh! these models have been beaten to death. I’m just glad that their 3 points and conditionally Significant. everything else is just bonus.

Guard Seargeant: Poor bastard. Demoted because Dashel was such a bad ass.The old Guild Guard Captain is now just a lowly Sergeant. I was initially displeased with Him, but I really like where his is now, with one caveat – his health. Frightening Authority, Lead the Patrol, and Accomplice all net hims some good, passive synergy with Guild Guard. His axe has a pretty decent damage potential, sitting at 2/3/4 with the possibility of Crit Strike, which is the same as his Collier army, making him just as good at range and in CC. His final ability to shift Scheme markers around is neat, but does not fit his theme. It really does make me sad that this pudgy bastard doesn’t have more hp though. You can’t have everything, though, I guess.

Exorcist: This guy got batted around a ton through out the playtest, as well, and ended up in a pretty decent spot overall. Finish the Job and Hard to Wound make up his utility suit, and he retained his ability to banish undead and Spirits, but found a way to turn others into undead to make this worthwhile. Overall, he’s got a thin niche, but I’m fine with how the rules on him turned out.

Pistolero De Latigo: A model near and dear to my heart, as I really wanted him to be good this time around. I think they might have made. With Ruthless, and Look Out! they want to activate last, and thats compounded with their Press the Advantage trait. Their weapons do appropriate damage for a 5ss model, and they have about the right HP. Lastly, the added family to the models, because unlike 1e, you only get to activate 2 models in a row. While they are more expensive than before, they also don’t seem to be laughably bad.

Pale Rider: This model is one I never got to use in 1 or 1.5, so I don’t have a lot of cause for celebration or sadness at his rules. He seems to be a shooting model that gets better over time with a pile of HP and a huge speed boost and a really cool push action. I am really looking forward to putting him on the table to see how he actually pans out. Oh, and his model is pretty bad ass, so there is that.

Guild Riflemen: I really couldn’t be involved in the continued, heated debate on this model from the start of the wave 2 beta, but it was really interesting to see the back and forth that went on this one particular model throughout the playtest. Almost everything on this model changed at least once during the test, and his final ruleset seems to have come out the better for it. Hold! is a unique ability allowing them to keep the Focus condition for longer than a turn, Firing Line enables multiple Rilfemen, or any guardsmen, to work together well, and the ranged damage and focus bonus, along with a touch farther range, really make them shine in the 5pt slot.

The Final two are the Guild Pathfinder and the Clockwork Traps. I never really got how these models were supposed to work but I look forward to trying them out. From the Shadows, Set the Trap and Scavenge Supplies all seem to work well for the pathfinder, and his gun seems to do a ton of work. The Clockwork Traps really seem to take on their own life, literally Clamping Shut on models moving by.

As it sits now, I have a three master collection centered around the Guild Masters of Perdita, McMourning, and McCabe, with plenty of cowboys and guild guard all around. I am anxious to get a non-Perdita crew on the table, and I thought I’d never say that. Its good to know that The test is near an end, and that sooner rather than later there will be a complete rule set out there. I waited patiently and was well rewarded with a game that seems balanced, fun, and challenging. A good move for Malifaux, and an excellent move for Wyrd. 

It took them only a little longer than they said, but in late December, my WWX models finally arrived. Thankfully, they are very nice models. Unfortunately, the rules leave a lot to be desired.

Geronimo, the model I backed the kickstarter for, is an enormous pile of plastic and resin larger than a Slayer. Sadly for me, their is a huge gap in his raised arm, and I can’t put him together yet.

The Great Elk, the second model I really, really loved, is an enormous model as well. Almost as tall as the Kraken, but not nearly as wide, long or cool, he takes up a goodly portion of his enormous base without enveloping it.

Sitting Bull, of which I have two, is a unique prospect. The game has True LOS rules, which are dumb, but the models here really exemplify why. Standard Sitting Bull is a pretty cool model. Alternate Sitting bull is also a cool model. But, due to the way TLOS is, the alternate is the only logical choice. He is 50% smaller and 3/4″ less wide. at only 1.5 inches tall, his alt for can hide behind many barriers that his original sculpt cannot.

Walks Lookings model is pretty cool, but the one hand keeps falling off because its stupid resin arm is glued by the smallest of small joins.

Sky Spirit is a fun model: Were-birds just aren’t as represented as they could be, and he’s taking full advantage with a giant spirit bow. Sadly, this model too has problems, and has a hole in his damned foot.

Energy Riders are next up, but, sadly I only have one. I ordered 3 energy riders, and got Energy rider #3. The other two will have to wait some time, I guess.

Stone Fist is the Cav leader, and he’s just not well designed. His horse goes together alright if they give you 2 front and 2 rear legs, instead of 3 rear and 1 front. His Torso, however, is busted as hell. The angle of the mold cut is terrible, and his arms don’t fit where they are supposed to. The best solution on the forums is to hot water-bend the model into place, which is a terrible solution. Yet another model I cannot finish.

Sadly, as I unpack, I realize that I ordered the wrong Mercenary model, and get stupid Jake Mattia instead of awesome Flowing River.
I mean, Jayne is cool and all, but who doesn’t want River Tam!

I’ve also got a pile of base inserts, but not enough to do the whole crew. I’ll just put them on important or good looking models.

The Hired Hands are the basic troopers, and they come in boxes of 10, with 5 melee and 5 Ranged, The models aren’t all good, but the ones that are, I really like. “Two Guns” and ” Fighting Backward” are both models I would rather do without. And while we’re at it, I’d like less static ranged options. oh well!

All in all, the models are a cool bunch. I’ll be glad to paint them up when the time comes, but there were so many problems with them overall, that its just, I don’t know its worth it. Maybe, like Malifaux, the 2e will be glorious!

Early this week Matt Wilson,CCO of Privateer, Tweeted that he was going to be going to the Main office in Seattle, and would try to send out some spoiler pics. He sent three over the course of two days (and may even send more today.) Typical of Wilson and Privateer, they are all half obscured, upside down, or some other form of difficult.

 

The first pic was this one:

Stryker

It originally comes upside down and backwards, but that’s OK. Its obviously Stryker 3, mounted Cyngar Warcaster. The connection point for this super awkward model is fortunately huge wall. You can see other bits on the table underneath, including the horses head, Strykers head, and either a cloak or cape. This could be a really cool model, and with my small Cygnar army, if the rules are right I could definitely see adding him. Oh the awesome!

The next Picture came the following day:

Cephalyx

This hulking monstrosity has a few details that have been noticed by a couple forum goers. The first was that the back models base is un-slotted. Currently, the PP line only has 50mm unslotted models. that means that this model is on a large base unless PP has some kind of in-house unslotted smaller bases. The other part is that the plastic (perhaps?) models have different heads and joins in the army. The current theory is that they are a Large-based Plastic Warbeast kit.

If the cephalyx are an army of their own, I’m going to be selling my Merc army for them. I really enjoy the style and feel of the models, and would be thrilled to field a whole army of them!

Goreshade

 

Shortly thereafter, Came this picture. Its at a strange angle, but I’m pretty sure, from the Deathwalker in the back, the long, black hair, and the Spike-rack smokestacks that that is an Alt. Goreshade.
Nothing has made me want to play Goreshade the Bastard. Until I saw this. If the second half of the model is 1/3 as good as what I can see here, I’m going to have to use him. He seems to capture the power of a stationary model, and the malice of a moving one.

Reznik

 

and then, Thursday, he posts this puppy. Resin horses, the body of Reznik, Wrath of Ages, his spear and other assorted bits. this model is going to be enormous and insane, and I know a friend who really enjoys dropping Reznik on the table, so I hope his rules are solid enough to get the job done.

 

I think Matt’s splurge of Pics is done for now, he is heading home before going to templecon next week, where I am sure we will see all sorts of goodies. I hope its more revealing than last years L&L Keynote. I’ll be in person at L&L again this year, so we will see how that goes!

 

Edit: Simply moments before posting this, Chain Attack‘s facebook page posted a full stryker three!!

Its been quite some time since I’ve painted a model for me to use, I do believe. I remember painting up Jerek of Jhord for the IKRPG game, but I can’t think of anything in my warmachine or hordes or Malifaux models that I’ve painted for me. Instead, I spent the last year Painting models for my Gator Exchange. I paint something for them, They paint something for me. It was cool, but It didn’t really motivate me to paint a ton. I do have some outstanding ones yet, but I’m working on it. One day I’ll have an Internationally painted army. While it was great, I wouldn’t really do it again, I have to work on my own stuff!

I’ve painted: a Gallant that went to Ireland

A Magister and Artificer that went to Iowa

A Totem Hunter that went to Utah

A Vassal to Georgia

Karchev and a hrullg to Massachusetts

Seige to texas

Blood of Martyrs to Maryland

and Anyssa Rusaal to Utah.

(not pictured) A Dougal McNaille to both Kamloomps BC and Tennessee, Rhadiem to Colorado, and a Helldiver to Iceland

I also participated in a generic Excange, and painted a model for someone else in payment:

Reclaimer, for a recent Exchange

Sylas, in payment for Siege above.

and finally, I started and finished my PG Gorman di “Sea” Wulfe:

 

So, with the first model I’ve painted for myself in just about a year, I’m ready to get rocking and rolling again. and I am really, really jacked to get  back into my Cryx and finish the models that I have left: Crabjack-Chassis, Scavenger, Asphyxious the Hellbringer and Vociferon, Revenenat Pirate Crew Riflemen x3, Erebus and Iron Lich Overseer. I also have some duplicates as well: Scavenger Helldiver, Deathrippers x2, Slayer, Warwitch Denegra and a Necrotech. We will see how all of that pans out in the year to come. I’m just really looking forward to painting some models for myself, and not for others!

 

 

As with the other XCOM articles, this contains my experiences from the game so will contain spoilers
See part 1, part 2, part 3, , part 4, and part 5 in my XCOM: Enemy Within Discussion
This’ll be the last Post for my Classic-Normal Playthrough! You can look through the Best Of Screenshots I took from the whole campaign here!

This is where we fight.
This is where they die!

The end is here. I can taste it. I have plasma, MECS, and the Hyperwave Decoder. With the building of the Hyperwave decoder relay, I am now able to see what type of ship each UFO is, alongside what type and how many of the aliens are on board.My next mission is simple: Intercept and assault the Overseers Ship. Sadly, the Overseer’s ship is fairly anti-climactic. I’ve fought Sectopods and Muton Elites before, and nothing in this wreck scares me all to much. I would go so far as to say that I might have completely crushed out this mission.

It turns out that the overseer has The (an?) Ethereal Device on his ship. Vahlen has some interest in it, so take it home and she starts some tests on it. Turns out, its some sort of Mind-globe that needs a super-psionic solider to access it.We also have to build a specific room for the damned thing, so I start on that immediately. Unfortunately, I don’t have any psionically powerful soldiers with which to use the Gallop Chamber.
Matter of fact, I don’t even have a single Psionic solider. Probably should fix that. As I work up to it, thought, I get sent on a unique council mission to France.

The setup is simple: It is a re-skinned bomb disarm, but with a longer timer. My team is making it across a bridge that the aliens have damaged, all the while releasing water valves to stop the whole thing from collapsing. they give you a more than generous time limit, and each valve gives you 2 more turns.

I was never worried.

I am racing to find the “bomb,” in this instance a convoy truck with a secret weapon inside. Aliens keep beaming down to try and stop me, but they have no chance. Moving and overwatching forward every turn allows me to really put a cramp in their style.

The Yellow Circles are overwatch shots. Poor bastard.

I get to the end of the mission, and out from this container jumps this psychic warrior woman who tries to run, but we calm her down via threats to her life, and she agrees to come back to base with us: With XCOM, she’d get a chance to kill aliens.

I finally get the Psionic Labs done and start testing test her up, along with Undercover, who has the greatest Will stat in the army, and thus a high likelihood of having Psionic potential.

While they are both out of commission being tested for powers, another council mission pops up. Also in France. Annette Durrant, the rescuee from the last mission, has friends that the aliens got to first. Time to negotiate with the aliens for their release.

Once again, this is a moderately unique council mission we have to get to the ship as fast as possible, try and sneak in, and get the hostages out. Of course it never works that simple, and the aliens set up the ships self destruct. We have only turns to plow our way through the ship and set the prisoners free. Thankfully, our troops are up for the task and we bring the three friends home. The Three furies: Alecto, Magaera, and Tisiphone are the trapped soldiers. They voulenteer to assist in the XCOM project now that I’ve freed them. I betcha, if I test them, they’ll all be psionically adept, and they don’t fail me. All three tested positive for psionic abilities once they were ready. Durrant and even Undercover both ended up being gifted as well, and I now havr five squad members who were gifted. I need to get at least one of them up to max psionic level and wearing a psi-armor outfit in order to activate the Gallop Chamber. It worries me, taking them out on missions this close to the end. high level soldiers are valuable, but I have to get them trained up and ready to fight the alien ship that I know is coming afterward. I am careful in my missions and make sure that each one it taken slowly and methodically. I risk no one, but I still have to reload a couple times in order to get the team I want to take to the end game ready.

I am finally ready to use the Gallop Chamber. I send in Durrant, because she really, really wants to kill aliens.

Annette Accesses the Ethereal Device

A ship appears, in her mind.

and a Uber Ethereal shows himself.

It is time.
The Temple Ship awaits.

This is one of the parts of the game that makes me kinda sad. The Temple ship is a really cool fight. Sadly, though, its a set piece fight that does not change from playthrough to play through. While it was fun, it was less than challenging.

I grabbed my Greatest Team: Durrant, Big Red, Grinder, Bullet, Jaws and Undercover. Undercover and Durrant both have Mind Control. This one is going to be a good day.

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We get to the Temple ship, and I know its going to follow a very specific template. I am going to go straight through the ship while the Uber Ethereal tests me, summoning each different type of alien in turn. The first a Sectoids. They prove just about as problematic as you would expect them to, given the tech level I’d achieved. After them, a pair of cyberdisks with drones to repair them. They, too, drop like flies to Bullet, Big Red, and Grinder.

With each new alien species summoned, the Uber Ethereal tells me why they didn’t pass the tests that I seem to have. Secotids are cowards, Cyberdisks have no emotions. Floaters, who’s bodies failed to evolve enough, are next. They, too, are eliminated. As soon as I drop the last one, Cryssalids are summoned. Turns out they are completely incapable of being commaned, but they made damned good weapons. All three are easily overcome. A trio of Thin Men block my way for only a brief moment. Turns out that Thin Men just cannot have psionics. Interesting. Mutons are in the next room. Three Standard and a Beserker. This one takes some brief finagling, including the discovery that a standard grenade will set off a proximity mine. Resulting in 13 instant damage. Pretty useful to take away from this. The Mutons are incapable of independence, and are therefore also failures to the Uber Ethereal.

The next room is where the game has broken down for me completely. The first go round in Enemy Unknown, I stumbled into the two Sectopods. Since then, it has not happened. Its a unique shaped room that is easy to see coming. This run I have three stealth soldiers. Bullet, Undercover and Durrant all set up. Jaws, Grinder and Big Red Prepare to move forward to lay unrelenting fire upon them. Unfortunatly, I guessed wrong as to where Grinder could go, and I alerted the Sectopods to my position. One fires its beam cannon,thankfully missing Big Red, and the other wanders out of sight of the top platform.
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My turn comes and I Fire everthing I have from Grinder and Big Red into the one I can see. Its just not enough, so I have to send Jaws in. One down. The the squad on the lower level, the hidden ones, turn their attention to the remaining enemy. While they aren’t able to scrap it, they come close. I was moderately worried here, because Durrant, the Chosen One, was standing next to the Sectopod. Thankfully, it used its cluster-bomb ability on Undercover and Bullet. This bought me a turn to run out of the area of effect before I got hammered. The Secotopod never had a chance.

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At the end of the room with the Sectopods was a trio of Muton Elites. I took control of one, and killed the other two.
Again, we get to a position that is uniquely identifiable, and I set my squad up to end the game. With the Uber Ethereal lined to be lined in my sites shortly, I send in the ghost units.

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Unfortunately, again, I screw up, and they detect on of the soldiers. The Ethereal moves before I can draw a bead on it. This’ll be the first time I actually fight the aliens in this room. 3 Muton Elites, 2 Ethereals and the Uber Ethereal. Fortunatly, I have a Muton of my own! I take control of another Muton Elite to balance the equation, and after a quick firefight, most of the enemies are down.

And that is when I realized I had a chance to do something awesome. I started running, with a bit of caution, Grinder towards the Uber Ethereal. Undercover gets mind controlled, but she can’t do enough damage in the time it takes me to free her – by killing the normal Ethereal in control of her – to change my plan. I sweep the rest of the room, putting down both standard Ethereals. Sadly, Jaws gets exploded towards the end, but thanks to her second heart, stays alive. I have only the Uber Ethereal left to kill.

Grinders got this.
I pop a few shots into him to soften him up for the inevitable end he’s going to meet: A giant Mecha-fist to the face.
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After that, its all over but the Exploding. I get everyone back to base and take a look at my final scores.

Well, that is it for my play through of Classic-Normal. I really enjoyed the new aspects of the game. The new enemies were challenging, but not overpowering, and the missions were a welcome break from the same ones employed in the first. I think I am finally ready for the Ironman run. I know its not going to be easy, but I am going to try it out!

As with the other XCOM articles, this contains my experiences from the game so will contain spoilers
See part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 in my XCOM: Enemy Within Discussion

I literally could not stop cheering. Bradford put the gun to the traitorous soldiers head, and the mission starts.

I’ve two soldiers pinned down in the globe room. They have the assistance of a couple XCOM security Guardsman, but otherwise, they are on their own.

While they are trapped, equipped as they are with the best gear that XCOM can buy, the Security Force holds no such advantage. Body armor, frag grenades and assault rifles will hold nothing to the firepower that the aliens are about to bring.

Warmachine Launches rockets

Warmachine Launches rockets

And bring it they do. Bradford instructs that the two trapped soldiers will have to hold off as best they can until the power generator, cut off in the attacks, can be brought back up online. That could take some time.

Great.

I am fortunate, however. The three soldiers trapped are Jaws, Bullet and Warmachine. With incredible accuracy on Jaws, a strong sniper in Bullet, and a vast array of explosives on Warmachine, I should be able to hold off the few aliens that the game throws at me the first turn. It even gives me a turn to prepare. I got this.
I could not have been more wrong. The game pans out Starts showing aliens dropping into the base just off screen.
A Mechtoid drops into the center of the room.
then a second.
Two Chryssalids.
A Muton Elite, a Muton, a beserker.
A second Muton Elite.
Jesus! Thankfully, Bradford is able to send in the Cavalry, and I get Big Red.

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With the substantial amount of firepower I bring to bear, I am able to take out the first wave, but its not easy. I focus on the heavy hitters first: Mechtoids and Muton Elites. I know that they both can just wreak havoc on my position, as vulnerable as I am. But I’d also assumed something that I didn’t double check until much later in the mission: The aliens in this mission, unlike every other one, don’t drop in on overwatch. You can run all you like across the map to get to good position, and rightly so. The mission was very, very hard for me because I was under the impression that they were following the rules for the rest of the game, when clearly, they are not.

Once the power-crew is removed from the board, I deal with the lone Muton, and am able to reposition the one or two Security defense that have not acted. I pull back from the door that I know has Chryssalids and a Muton Berserker lurking just beyond my field of view, and put who I can on overwatch. That turn, the three aliens advance into the room, into what I thought would be a withering barrage of gunfire that, just, never emerges. However, I am able to remove all three from existence before the start of the next turn. I assume the aliens are going to bring more threats, so I try to take as much cover as possible. Whatever comes through that door, We will stand and fight.

And come through the door they did. Three Cyberdisks, three drones, two heavy floaters and a normal floater.
Whoo boy.

It was only turn four. While I slowly crush through the armor of the Cyberdisks, my forces keep coming through the door, every few turns. Grinder shows up shortly after Big Red, adding, literately, punch to my squad. A few turns later, Breaker shows up, and I learn a sad, sad lesson. My reinforcements come with whatever gear they had loaded last, which in Breakers case was a standard issue sniper rifle and body armor. We’ve come a long way since those times were good times, and he’s not going to live through anything, So I take care with placing him.

Unfortunately, he’s my last reinforcement. I’ve got a few Security guards, but they are quickly being overwhelmed, and I start using them as grenade lobbers, and not much else.

Just as Breakers strides in, Bradford alerts me that I’ve secured the globe room, but that their are more signals coming from the MEC Bay, conveniently located right next door.
Fantastic.
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More Mechtoids, Sectoid Commanders and Sectoids later, I’ve cleared out the MEC Bay.

Now, there is one more wave. I get informed that the back entrance is now full of bad guys, and I’ve got to go clear THAT bay out.

Sectoid Commanders, Mechtoids, Cyberdisks, Drones and a Sectopod.
Have I told you how much I hate Sectopods?

I have a story.
In Enemy Unknown, there is a spot where you find two Sectopods, standing side by side, ready to rain death on your poor, unsuspecting heads. Its a brilliant trap that lost me a solider to its whiles in Classic/Normal. In C/I I was prepared though. Heavy Weapons Trooper with both Mayhem and Heat Ammo did the trick. Because I’d played the game before I knew where they’d be, Used Ghost armor to spot them and Blew the living tar out of them. Poor bastards only had a single HP left after that, and my squadsight sniper took care of that. No Problems.

Now, In Enemy Within, they’ve scaled back heat ammo. That is fine. Oh, and they gave Sectopods 50% damage reduction. Great. Just Great. not only is my best weapon gone, the giant turds are more durable. Just what I wanted. Now, they are difficult to take down in the best of situations.

Right. Back to Base defense.
I get to the final area, and there is a Mechtoid and a Sectoid Commander. The Mechtoids a threat, but the sectoid commander just can’t live. I drop him as soon as I can and drive into the final area. Unfortunately, there is a Sectopod hanging out right around the corner. UGH. So I shoot it with my sniper.
1 damage.
1 Damage.
Seriously!
Well, fine. I’ve got a Heavy Weapon.
1 Damage!
There is no way! None!
And then I realize: I must have damage roulette on. It explains the strange swingyness I’d seen earlier, but wrote off as rebalancing.
There, There… There’s no way. After pulling open the Second Wave options,though, there it is, staring me in the face. Damage Roulette.
*&*(^&$%&^$@#@@~!!!!!

The sectopod, thankfully, is also subject to Damage Roulette, and does 1 damage with his giant pulse cannon to my Sniper. The Mechtoid and the Cyberdisk don’t pose a challenge, but the Mechtoid gets what it had coming.

Finish Him!

Finish Him!


The mission ends, and I get a good rating.
I killed 43 aliens, it tells me. 43. I cannot remember a mission in which I got even close to that. The final mission of my first runthrough was close, I seem to remember, but not 43.

The base defense mission is the highlight of Enemy Within, for me. I don’t even care what comes after this.

I have one more after this: from after the base defense to the endgame. After that, I might do an Ironman runthrough, but it won’t be as detailed as this.