While I’ve known for some time that Blizzard is going to be putting out Classic World of Warcraft Servers, I never thought much about it until recently – When I listened to the video on Barrens Chat, and thought fondly to myself, living in the nostalgia, of the days when I used to play WoW, back on Gilneas. I dove deep, from then on, into the argument about just what a Classic WoW Server is. I’ve formed my opinion on it. Maybe others have their own version, but this one, this is mine. 

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I’ve taken a short break (about 3-5 weeks) from my D&D articles, and I’m going to write a few thoughts about the games I’ve played so far this year. I don’t think its going to be anything groundbreaking or amazing, but it’ll be fun. Follow me now into the first of the series: Thea: The Awakening. This game, something that will have been our for 2 years this November, is easily among the favorites I’ve ever played. It took me a little bit of time to figure out why, but man, I am hooked. 

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Last week was a low point. A dark and cramped place which I was sure sunlight would never embrace again. Warmth and comfort were simply memories. The only end, if it ever came, would come from the cold and merciless eyes of an alien overlord.

The bleakness has passed. It was the fire that has finally tempered me into an alien killing monstrosity, as hated by those who I am trying to save as those I am seeking to destroy.  I strike from the darkness, leaving nothing but bodies, burning buildings, shell casings. Where I choose to walk, aliens, and their collaborators swiftly perish. They hunt me. They hunt me to prevent themselves from being the prey. It is to late.

I don’t expect this feeling to last past this evening.

(There will be spoilers)

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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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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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2013-12-25_00246XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within are easily my favorite game(s) to come out in at least the last 3 years. There were other honorable mentions along the way, but none of them drive me to play again and again in the way that XCOM does, has, and will continue to. With the announcement of XCOM2 to come this November, I’ve been itching to make an attempt at the longest version of the game published: Marathon Mode. Though Impossible is an option I’ve been eyeing, its not likely to come to fruition.

I’ve beat Classic, and Classic Ironman, so I figure the next, honest, step is that to Classic Marathon Ironman.

Of course, spoilers beyond, though I assume you know that, as I walk through the options I choose for my Marathon Game

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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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.


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.


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.
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.
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.

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

While the aliens continued their assault unabated, certain members of humanity have sided with the aliens. They are out to grab all the tech they can and stop XCOM.

This cannot be tolerated.

The current mission is to send one of my soldiers to infiltrate an Exalt cell. I assume that there was a chance everything could go south and the covert operative could be lost if they were not good enough, so I send in my leveled support – Daria “Jaws” Jaworski. Once I send her out, she is gone for 6 days, unavailable to use on missions of any type. Of Course, During those six days I have to deal with a terror mission and a set of abductions, making the choice to send one of my more senior soldiers into the compound very, very troublesome.

The missions attempted while my point-man and combat veteran are indisposed are a pain, but I make it through them without her. I even level an assault for my troubles.

Then, to my surprise, the mission gets complicated. Exalt is onto Daria, and I need to extract her ass from the compound. Time to load up my best soldiers and bring her home.

As I start the mission, I get some curious instructions from Bradford: turns out that Daria isn’t quite yet finished her task. I have to cover for her while she gets the deed done, and she is lightly armed and completely vulnerable, aaaand on the other side of the map. She was almost done hacking a set of communication consoles, and the last two that she needs to hack are here, on this map.

These enemies in this mission are different. Instead of aliens human soldiers are attacking. They are snappy dressers, though: slacks, button-up shirts, suspenders, wielding standard ballistic weaponry, and working together. They have decent HP but are only slightly tougher than my soldiers, which is alright. I manage to beat them back, and though they take some shots at the Jaws, She lives. Linking up with the group makes the rest of the mission easy as I cover for her. She hacks both the Com towers, and then runs to the extraction point, at which point Bradford give me an option: Clean up the Exalt, or roll out. I see my Soldiers as my most valuable resource, so I bail, feeling victorious

The after-combat report, as always, lists how well you did. It tells me I did “poor” because I didn’t kill enough Exalt.
I thought the whole point was a hit and run mission, an extraction. I thought that being prudent would be the better mode. Turns out, that its just better to murder all the Exalt. Who’da thought. I’ll know better next time.

So My first encounter with Exalt was a good one. I got in, struck hard and got out. The mission was also a little different than what I’d been used to, which was refreshing. I Look forward to tangling with them in the future. A worthy foe.

Exalt continues to cause serious problems for me over the course of the next few months. I always play with a very delicate panic balance, trying not to loose my countries and trying to keep those that exist calm. Exalt throws an enormous wrench into that formula, causing extra panic to accumulate in their active country. That extra panic does, however, give me a way to see where Exalt exists. I was never sabotaged, though the Tip Screen warned me that it could be devastating. The only thing exalt ever did was push panic higher and higher in whichever country they exist in. While you can wait, every time a cell would show up, I’d send in a covert operative, they’d muck up, and I’d send in an extraction crew.

Exalt composes their forces much like XCOM, and they have Heavies, Medics and Snipers. They seem to work as a semi-unified team, but they seem to enjoy reloading, throwing smoke and tossing frag grenades, none which are extremely threatening tactics. I keep loosing operatives on the first try of a map because I don’t understand the layout.
Once XCOM locates a cell, they ask you to send an operative, and each time it goes the same: 6 days later, they get interrupted, and you have to go on an extraction mission to save them and the vital information they hold.

There are two types of extraction missions: King of the Hill and Communication Disruption. These seem to have their own unique maps, as I didn’t encounter them anywhere else throughout the play through. I enjoyed the King of the hill missions much more. Its a simple, if challenging, setup in which you have to race to the designated area and then prevent the Exalt forces from holding it. If they hold it for 3 turns, then you have to fall back on a second designated area and hold that area. If they force you back from there, you loose the mission. You win the mission when they give up on sending soldiers in, and you kill the last wave. The the first time it gave me fits because I had no idea what was going on. I did, however, bring two heavies, both with rockets galore as I’d realized that the Exalt forces don’t have weapon fragments, so I didn’t need to worry about abusing explosives and loosing access to research materials, so I was able to post up in the first area and just shell everything that came close. Originally, I thought that you had to hold the designated area for a specific amount of time, and that was not the case. It got a number of my men killed, and I reloaded because the explanation was rather bare. Once I understand the mission parameters, though, it was a mission I looked forward to every extraction. It definitely changes the pace, positing you as an aggressive defender. You’ve got a ton of waves to fight through, but you have very little leeway in positioning. If you are too aggressive, you’ll get flanked and overrun, but if your too slow, Exalt will jump into the Zone (which counts as turn 1) and then you only have one turn to push them out or you have to fall back. I never suffered that particular humility, but came close.

The second mission is Communication Disruption. This is the one I did first, with two objectives on the field that the operative needs to get in contact with, and then hack to acquire data about Exalts HQ location. Once the Information is acquired, you then need to extract the operative through the landing zone. Most of the time your covert operative starts on the far side of the map, with fog of war between them, and the squad. Sometimes they’ll be near one of the two comm towers but its not a given. Oftentimes, moving your squad forward is going to triger enemies between your operative and the squad, and perhaps even the objectives. If your operative does not have mimetic skin, it can be a real problem getting your operative through the enemies alive. Most times, I try to link my operative up with the rest of my squad, and then have them escort her to each objective, and then back to the extraction point. These ones were the most straightforward missions, and once you know the maps they get much easier. I even tended to bring enough heavy weapons that was very little left of the Exalt forces once I extract the operative, having only to eliminate one or two to end the mission. This mission specifically seems like its going to be a big challenge in Ironman.

Eventually,after a few missions, Exalt ups their game. Their soliders get more HP, access to some gene mods, and improving their accuracy while also arming themselves with laser weapons.


The laser weapons are lethal to unarmored soldiers, I learn that one quickly, and leave a trail of poor covert operatives dead in their wake. Until I reload to figure out whats going on.

Each mission brings me closer to my ultimate goal: The end of Exalt. With each successful extraction I squeeze out just a little more information on where the base is, slowly homing in on the harboring country. These little morsels tend to be eliminitory: They don’t tell you where the HQ is, they let you know where it is not.
* Exalt HQ is not located in a country that is within the Arctic Circle
* Exalt HQ is not located in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Ect, ect.

Thankfully, the game put simple icons on the countries that you have eliminated from harboring Exalt on the map in the situation room. If your bad at geography, you won’t have to worry about decoding the clues correctly. Eventually enough covert operatives finish the mission and gather the information on Exalt, and you find out where the HQ is. After three missions you can guess and just go all in, but be careful if you decide to guess. If you choose wrong, the country leaves the council!

Now, with the HQ exposed and all other countries eliminated from contention, its time to tear down Exalt! I for one waited and made sure there was no chance of losing a country. I know where the HQ is, no guessing. I kit my squad out for maximum Carnage, I’m not looking to be accurate, just looking to burn it to the ground. Exalts lowish health and their tendency to hide even more than aliens makes me pack heat: Two heavies, a MEC, an assault with deep pockets, Jaws, and Bullet, my main Sniper. I pack everyone full of alien grenades and send them out.

Exalt Basejpg

The HQ is on the top of an office building in the middle of a city, but it seems that XCOM just doesn’t care anymore. We land the skyranger on the roof, my squad disembarks and I charge the base. Exalt forces respond, but I’m ready for them. Each group of Exalt is met with a fusillade of missiles, grenades and accurate sniper-fire. Anything left standing is swept up by ‘Mountie.” As I scorch their Headquarters room by room, the sirens blare around me. There is not nearly as much resistance ad I had feared, and though they had laser weapons and missiles and alien grenades, I was able to shrug off what they tossed at me. The flamethrower on the MEC was invaluable, as twice I was unable to kill everyone I could see, and both times I was able to light them on fire and make them panic. Controlling the flow of the battle really matters. After an intense, if both short and one sided, firefight, I sauntered back to the skyranger and flew off into the darkness, leaving only a smoldering ruin in my wake.

I assume That there would be more to the Exalt story line, but as I kept playing, it seems that I have accomplished exactly what was advertised. I sought Exalt out in their den, cut the head off the snake, and killed the beast once and for all.

Now, about these Aliens causing havoc in my world…

This post has taken so long to get to your desk because I’ve been playing to much XCOM. It is so hard to pull myself from it and even type anything at all. I want to be playing RIGHT NOW

My favorite game as a kid had to be Mega Man III.
But right behind that is XCOM: UFO Defense. It was a smart, fun, insane game of sci-fi aliens and decision making. I would go over to a friends house to “help” him play the game after school and it was glorious: Well worth the walk in the woods, in the dark, on the way home in the evening.

So, imagine my glee when I learned that XCOM was being remade, and then subsequently released late 2012. When I finally got my grubby mitts on the game, I was not disappointed. There were significant changes, but I liked almost all of them. XCOM: Enemy Unknown evoked UFO Defense in all the right ways. The few problems I had with the game were simply ascetic. I even managed to play through the game twice, which is something I almost never do. Classic difficulty held to the standard I had envisioned, and Ironman mode was a concept I had tried on the original XCOM to no success. This time, though: Victory was achieved and the world was saved. Taking down the Temple ship was a little bit of a let down as I was really looking forward to Cydonia, but hopefully sometime in one of the expansions we’ll get back to Mars

Two DLC’s came out for the original: The Armor DLC and slingshot. The armor customization was a great addition for only a few bucks, and allows a who host of new colors and looks for every trooper. The greater opinion on slingshot was poor because it was a small DLC. That says something, though, when people are disappointed not at the product itself, but because there was not enough of it. I thoroughly enjoyed it because it was a unique set of missions, in unique locations, with unique goals. there was only 3, but it was excellent.

Recently XCOM: Enemy Within was released, and though I had to rush through the last bit of HOMMVI to get to it, Its been well worth it. I’ve spent hours crushing aliens beneath my boot so far already!

Now, onto my playthrough!

I figure that I’ll start with my style of play, and an Introduction to the game.

The game is played on two maps. The first is greater strategic base setup, where you research alien science, build new weapons and armor, higher soldiers, Buy aircraft to fight alien spaceships, decide which countries to save or let fall, build facilities in the base, research psionic powers and train their devotees, and buy and sell alien artifacts. Whew! That’s a massive game in of itself. I dare say if they fleshed it out a bit, you could have a game in which you only direct XCOM in saving the world.

The second map is the smaller, tactical, turn based map in which you fight aliens and their sympathizers. Aliens come in all shapes in sizes, from the Brutal Mutons, to the Small, emaciated Gray man like Sectoids. Their weapons are powerful, and they outnumber you from the get go. Your Out manned, outgunned, and out technologied. What you do have, is good old human determination and the home field advantage. Your troopers level up and gain classes, which give them specific abilities, and as the game goes up, even more abilities become available to choose from.

The game also has a number of other settings that you can tweak: Advanced Options, and Second Wave Options. Advanced Options cover what type of DLC is on, Tutorials, and the famous Ironman option. Ironman is a mode in which you have one save. A single file that can’t be reloaded or reset. You’re choices have real consequences, and your soldiers die real deaths. Along with the fact that it is very easy to loose the game and need to start over on Classic and Impossible difficulties, it can be a great challenge. Second Wave options are the fun ones. They enable you to capture some of the feel of XCOM: UFO Defense.I turn Training Roulette (enabling random skills from leveling up), Not Created Equally (all rookies have random starting stats), and Hidden Potential (Skill ups are random every level, so that I can capture the essence of random troopers. I also turn on Damage Roulette (larger damage spreads) and eventually, New Economy (Countries funding is not tied to real life economy), just for fun. The final two, Save Scum and Flanking angles, I leave off, as they seem unfun. Part of the game is playing within its save game rules and trying to flank.

My greater Strategic goals are simple: Loose few countries, Figure out how to save my troops lives, and get more money. Saving my troops involves researching weapons and armor as fast as possible, with all other R&D going to the wayside as I make sure my troops can face the aliens fighting them. I rarely sell anything, as I want to be able to research what I have available at any time, so pretty much the only money I make is through corpses, broken spaceships, and funding. Managing the worlds panic levels seems to be much of the game to me, and I’ve managed to get pretty good at it. Classic makes it a little difficult with a starting panic level of 1 in every country, but I manage. In the effort of saving money on what I use, I always start the game in Aisa. Future Combat enables me to spend tons less on the projects I value most: Foundry and Officer Training School. The OTS is the facility I aim for from the very beginning. Enabling Wet Work, New Guy and both squad increases is one of the primary driving forces for how I play.

When it comes to Troop Actions, I generally lean towards offence being a good defense. While explosive weapons destroy artifacts that the aliens have and set me back some in terms of research or monetary value, it has the high reward of keeping my troopers alive, experienced, and ready to fight the alien threat. This means I’ll sometimes be behind the times when it comes to fragments, I have excellently trained troopers in multiple sets that I can send out when the time comes. I tend to lean towards a fire base of troops that can lay down a ridiculous amount of firepower. This is going to change, definitely with the new Meld resource. In the first game my go to squad was 2 Snipers with Double Tap and Squadsight, two Heavies with Bulletswarm, and either two support or a support and assault. The amount of firepower I could drop was apocalyptic.

I am going to jump right into Classic – Ironman (C/I) and see how this works out for me. Wish me luck.

I hope I can tear my self away from the game long enough to give some reports on how this is all going along.