Cmdr Spike's AAR - [Spoilers]


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#41 Hobbes

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 06:47 PM

View Postsp1ke, on 06 October 2015 - 04:17 PM, said:

Crap. Three times in a row failed on the first mission of Impossible. Being more cautious each time. Basically the Sectoids are far tougher and more dangerous than your Rookies, man for man, and they also outnumber you. So you need to tackle them one pod at a time, so you have 4 on 2 or 4 on 3 odds, and you more or less have to fight from good cover and fight defensively. Even then it's a numbers game and they grind you down. You frag any alien that's down to 3 HP and within range, but they generally stay out of grenade range and avoid bunching up. But you need to use the grenades early on, to even up the odds, any time you don't get a kill with rifle fire, which is most of the time, even when you are concentrating all fire on one target, the easiest target.

A few things to notice for your first mission in Impossible. If you fail, restart the mission. If you get two or more of your soldiers killed, restart the mission. If you get any map like Graveyard or Highway Bridge, restart the game. The best maps are those with stairs that allow you to literally get the drop on the aliens, like Liquor Store.

Quote

Is it true that the game lies about hit probability and in Impossible the real value is lower than what is shown on screen? I think that's really, really cheap and terrible game design. Whether it's understating or overstating the hit probability, it would be better just not to state it.

That is false. The percentages you see displayed are the real ones - and there's no rigged RNG either, you can and will miss 90% shots three times in a row (and so will the aliens but usually players don't notice those).

View Postsp1ke, on 06 October 2015 - 04:28 PM, said:

OK I am going to turn off the 2nd Wave option for damage affecting stats during battle, and in fact turn off all 2nd Wave options. And try a fourth time to win the first mission. :-)

Don't use Red Fog - it only affects your soldiers, not the aliens.
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#42 Space Voyager

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Posted 07 October 2015 - 06:32 AM

The RNG is rigged. It is OK for everyone else but it messes with ME! ;)

#43 silencer_pl

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Posted 07 October 2015 - 08:52 AM

I think you can also mess with SEED by loading other save, going for few turns, exit game and load the old one. At least I had this feeling that I somehow changed the SEED that way.
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#44 NKF

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Posted 07 October 2015 - 09:58 AM

From what I remember, the seed's saved with the savegame to prevent save scumming. That said, if you have any soldiers who are not needed for the current turn who still have some moves to use up, you can try and influence the RNG a little by getting them to do all sorts of different actions (walk X tiles, shoot something) this should change the RNG roll for the next action and give a different result for the action you were wanting to retry. If it's not the desired effect, try again and vary the actions of the spare soldier.

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#45 sp1ke

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Posted 07 October 2015 - 10:18 AM

OK I finally completed the first Impossible mission, though with 2 killed / 2 survivors. Both survivors were promoted (they had 4 and 3 kills each vs the 8 Sectoids) but one is gravely wounded for 9 days. I can see the next problem, after the first problem of completing the first mission with only rookies, is going to be how to build up the squad so they specialise (Sniper/Assault/Support/Heavy) and their stats improve. At this point I'm going to lose them faster than I can promote them. :-(

The key to winning the first mission I think is

- liberal use of grenades, even though you can't get a kill with them. (this is actually a 'silver lining' because you won't destroy the corpse and equipment I guess). Use grenades sooner rather than later and don't be afraid to use a grenade against a single target. In particular, if you can use a grenade first against a single target in cover, damage it and destroy the cover, allowing other units to finish the kill with weapon fire.
- an aggressive phase at the beginning of contact to thin out enemy numbers, followed by a very defensive phase to slowly take out the rest
- avoid any exchanges of fire between you in high cover and them in high cover. They will win that exchange as their weapons are more deadly (and they are more accurate?). In that situation retreat out of LOS, reload, then move back into LOS (but not tracing any movement through their LOS that would trigger Overwatch reaction fire).
-very defensive means not just behind high cover but with adjacent high cover you can move behind to be totally out of LOS while you reload. If you go out of LOS, the aliens will often move into exposed positions or at least into low cover.
- unfortunately their weapons will destroy your hard cover, whereas your weapons (except grenades) will break glass at best.
- try to get 'dual use' out of your grenades - damage an alien and destroy cover useful to that alien / other aliens

One of the real problems with the first mission in Impossible is that you can't even exploit aliens in exposed positions because your chance of even one kill is so low. So even if you have 4 guys on an exposed target and one has a grenade, you can't risk rushing in to flank or get close-range bonuses because it's entirely likely that 3 guys in a row will miss or fail to kill the target, and your exposed guys will almost definitely die in the return fire plasma pistol shots. So all the tactics that are written up for XCOM 2012 really don't apply for the First Mission on Impossible. You have no snipers, no perks, lousy chance to hit, basic weapons, a total of 4 grenades (that can't kill anything), lousy hit points. Even behind high cover you are far from secure and if you trade shots with the enemy in high cover, you will lose and you will die. The advice to hunker down behind cover, even, I don't think applies here. It's debatable. I have hit and even killed aliens with Overwatch. But more to the point I think Overwatch keeps them pinned down tactically. Then again maybe it's better to avoid Overwatch so that they are free to move out of high cover, then fire at them. The problem is that whenever you take an opportunity to fire, you can't then Hunker Down, so best case you take incoming fire in High Cover, with a fairly high risk of dying. Particularly if there is more than one alien firing, because it's quite likely the plasma weapons will destroy your High Cover and before you have a chance to move to new cover, the second alien takes a shot at you out of cover (and therefore also 'flanking' right?) and you probably die.

If Science and Engineering between the two of them could come up with some scientific/technical breakthrough that would allow soldiers to carry, I dunno, two grenades - I know, it's sounds just scientifically impossible - that would be more useful to XCOM than laser weapons or medkits or probably anything short of Carapace Armour. :-/

Yeah it kind of busts my balls that you can't carry multiple grenades (as you could in original XCOM and you of course can in real life). If I was the survivor of the First Mission, even if I aborted and evac'd out, I would be right up in the face of the Commander demanding multiple grenades per soldier as the only solution to beat the aliens in the short term. The soldiers seem to be carrying about 20 rifle magazines each (and by God they need them!), how about ditching some of those mags, or ditching the pistols, for extra grenades. I would happily swap a pistol for an extra grenade on these missions and it would not even be that hard to program in the game. I wonder if that's a feasible Mod? But more to the point each soldier has a 'Backpack' and rattling around in that huge backpack is the grand total of just one grenade. Hmm.

No doubt in my mind that from Mission 2 onward, XCOM Soldiers would be carrying grenades chock-a-block, at least until some more effective weapons came along.

Also, for that matter, how about starting Impossible with the New Guy perk already turned on? There's no justification really why you don't have rockets, LMG, shotguns and Sniper from the get-go. It would make the First Impossible Mission a damn sight easier, that's for sure! :-)
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#46 sp1ke

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Posted 07 October 2015 - 10:33 AM

Yeah the more I think about it, the Item Limit is one of the most frustrating things about XCOM 2012. So in that sense they have remained true to the original, ha ha. :-)

It's very annoying that you can't give everyone a medkit and a SCOPE, or a medkit and a grenade, or two grenades. Frankly it's just a game mechanic and not one that conveys any sense of realism. So it makes the game like playing chess or Yahtzee - just working within its arbitrary rules and mechanics, rather than a sense of realism about a special forces operation vs aliens. It's like the lack of night vision gear in the original game (though we have proposed various rationalisations to work around that).

I would be comfortable if each soldier had say 4 Backpack slots, even if a Medikit took up 2 or 4 slots and a SCOPE took up 2 or 4 slots (maybe the SCOPE has a big battery pack and computer etc). But it's ridiculous that wearing a Nano-Vest means I can't even carry the one standard grenade. That kind of 'unrealism' (I know, I know, it's science fiction/fantasy, but still there is basic physics right?) really bugs me and detracts from the game play experience.

I wonder if the play testers objected to this item limit? I realise it's a game-balancing exercise, but I would rather have grenades be almost useless against aliens, for some 'science fiction' reason, than have them be effective but only be allowed to carry one of them for some unexplained and stupid reason. For example, make grenades ineffective, only HE Packs are effective, then it makes sense why we can only carry one HE Pack. (Even then multiple grenades would be useful for remodelling the terrain... grr!).

And why do you have to be a bloody Major to carry even one reload for your rocket launcher.... grrr.

Like, after the first mission you could have a dialog that says "we've determined that almost all of our standard weapons are ineffective against the aliens, so we will be restricted to very heavy explosive packs (no grenades), specialised firearms, and single use very heavy rockets". Like maybe the Rocket is a TOW or something huge like that. I get the impression it's more like a LAW or an Armbrust, so why couldn't someone carry a spare, even if it isn't the Heavy who carries the spare? A bloody rookie could carry the spare and if necessary that rookie could forgo their grenade, though from what we can tell the Heavy carries their rocket using the carrying capacity equivalent to a pistol. So yeah a rookie could forgo their pistol (or their grenade) to carry a spare rocket for the Heavy. Grrr. Don't like it. It frustrates me.

I do appreciate it was cool to get rid of / streamline the tactical inventory management vs the original game, and I appreciate that we don't have to do ammo inventory management for firearms any more, but I think they have gone too far in the other direction, and using it as a game balancing mechanism is a poor excuse, in my opinion.
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#47 sp1ke

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Posted 07 October 2015 - 10:44 AM

Frankly Nano-Vest should use an Armour slot not an Item slot. It should either be stackable with other Armour types, or they should just have made it an armour type in its own right, one up from Body Armour. Making it use an Item slot, so you can't even carry a bloody grenade while you are wearing it, is ridiculous. It's just poor programming and there is no possible excuse or justification. Even as 'game balancing' it's ungainly and conspicuously awkward. :-(

If there are any cheats available to give Deep Pockets to everyone I would happily use them with no qualms. Ditto if there is a cheat to make Nano-Vest an armour type rather than an Item.

Or a cheat to give Grenadier to everyone - a whole TWO grenades per mission, whoop-de-do! - I would use that without qualms as well.
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#48 sp1ke

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Posted 07 October 2015 - 03:13 PM

Ok so I have reviewed the available Mods. I think all I need is to give Deep Pockets and Grenadier to all soldiers, including rookies, so that they can carry up to 2 items or up to 4 grenades, or 2 grenades and one item. I also like the Mod where the Arc Thrower goes in the pistol slot. And Rocketeer for all Heavies. And I like the Mod where pistols have to reload - whyever not, after all? I would still like a Mod for Nano-vests to be actual armour, though I didn't find that out there in Mod-land. I think I would actually be very content, with just those Mods only. Of course it would make the game easier, but I would just amp up the difficulty (eg with Second Wave options). I don't mind the game being difficult, I do mind the game being stoopid. :-)

I guess I would need Heavies to be able to pick different perks than Grenadier and Rocketeer when they get promoted, and similarly for Supports for Deep Pockets.

(I looked at Long War, which gives 2 slots, grenades can be equipped in both, plus perks to increase this later, and variant of either AP or HE grenade. But, Long War does not thrill me overall).

Edited by sp1ke, 07 October 2015 - 03:35 PM.

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#49 sp1ke

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Posted 07 October 2015 - 03:56 PM

Is there a Mod to get Dr Vahlen to stfu with her lectures? Particularly when the 'explosives' she is moaning about killing an alien also killed an XCOM Soldier? And particularly when the cause was vehicles set on fire by alien plasma weapons, then exploding?

She needs to 'exercise caution' herself or she is going to get a slap!
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#50 sp1ke

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Posted 07 October 2015 - 07:35 PM

The XCOM Tactical Ready Room was in somber mood. The entire tactical team, on and off-duty, was gathered round newly minted Corporals Wood and Ivonova, only survivors of XCOM's first real Op.  The deaths of Haddad and Semyenov were written on all their faces. Bad news though that was, the rumour mill was saying that if the Op had been a failure, which it very nearly was, the entire XCOM project would have been terminated.

XCOM's soldiers stirred, stood and saluted as The Commander entered the Ready Room. "At ease", she said. When they had settled back on their benches, she continued.

"As you know I've been reviewing the combat footage and your after action reports with Tactical Intel. But I wanted to come down here and hear your personal impressions on our first combat op. I know it wasn't an easy one. I want to make sure we have learned the right lessons."

All eyes of course turned to Wood and Ivonova. There was still fresh blood seeping slowly into Natalia's abdominal bandages, but she had refused to be confined to medical. She coughed, painfully, and started.

"Ma'am, X-Ray outclasses us in firepower, lethality, ability to soak up damage, and at this point, probably also tactics. The mission was literally, almost Impossible. There's no point pretending that's not the case, and if we do pretend, we are not going to succeed. We need to address the shortfalls and fix them, A.S.A.P." She spelled the letters out, despite her nearly perfect English.

Daniel Wood picked up the thread.

"In detail, Ma'am, we are expending upwards of two rifle magazines per kill. That's not 'spray and pray'. That's two magazines of controlled fire against reasonably exposed, static targets. Meanwhile, their weapons are taking our guys down, dead, in a couple of volleys. What's more, their weapons strip away the hard cover, which we need to stay alive, in a single burst. The only weapons we have that are remotely effective are the grenades. Even then, X-Ray doesn't die, we need to get in with rifle fire to finish the job, but then it's more like a magazine's worth of fire, maybe less."

Ivanova shifted on her bench and winced. She noticed a little blood on her fingers from where she had been pressing against the bandages. She continued:

"Commander, we need heavier weapons. Ideally what X-Ray has. Failing that we need heavy weapons. Squad machine guns. Rocket launchers. Maybe, for close range work, autoloading shotguns. And grenades. We need many more grenades. They are the only things that really work against these chertovy alien bastards."

The Commander took all of this in. She said

"OK well that accords closely with the summary from Tactical Intel and it's in line with the recommendations that have been agreed with the Council."

The troops leaned in, expectantly. Ivanova coughed again, and asked

"What are the new recommendations, Ma'am. What is the new tactical loadout?"

The Commander paused for a moment, uncharacteristically almost... nervous?

"The Council has approved the deployment of squad LMGs, and potentially disposable one-shot rocket launchers. Also combat shotguns. These will be assigned to hand-picked, specialist personnel only, on a named basis. Wood and Ivanova, you will be the first authorised to carry. Shotgun for Wood, LMG for Ivanova - when she's fit for return to duty."

The assembled troops were underwhelmed. Wood piped up:

"What about grenades. What about standard loadout, for everyone who's not 'hand-picked'?"

The Commander smiled awkwardly.

"Ah, the standard loadout will remain basically the same. We're upping the ammo load to 24 mags of combined rifle and pistol ammo. But, ah, we are sticking with one grenade."

There was stunned silence until Ivanova spoke up.

"A backpack full of chertovy magazines, and one grenade?" She threw her hands up in the air.

Wood looked his Commander in the eye. "Why Ma'am? Why?"

"I'm sorry Daniel. My personal recommendation was for a decrease in rifle mags to 6 or 8, increase in grenades carried to 6 or at least 4, dependent on fitness, and if necessary leave the pistols on the ship. However we had, ah, objections from the Science Section."

"Dr Vahlen?!"

"Yes. Correct. Dr Vahlen went over my head to the Council. She was actually insisting on no explosive weapons at all, of any type, on missions with X-Ray contact. She also requested that we issue low-velocity ammo to avoid the risk of fire and vehicle explosions or other secondary explosions. We were effectively deadlocked. I managed to hold the status quo of one grenade per soldier, plus permission to assign rocket launchers to specially trained, authorised personnel only. I'm sorry, it's the best I could do. "

The Commander noticed that no one would even meet her gaze, for a long time, until a hand went up at the back.

"Ma'am"

"Yes soldier?"

"Permission to transfer to the Power Generator section, Ma'am?"
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#51 Space Voyager

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 06:45 AM

I'm totally with you on the liberal grenade use (even my snipers used those to get any levelling done). After your people have a decent survival possibility, you can ease up on those.

Also agree that the one-item slot mechanics is not at all aiming for realism, it is more of an artificial complexity factor.

#52 ñΩxicity

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 08:20 AM

I think Dr. Vahlen needs some (explosives) ... of her own. Posted Image See what I did there? Yup, blow shit up! Sappers, grenadiers and all the demolition experts out there will fawn over you. Nothing wrong with a little incendiary once in awhile either. :)
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#53 sp1ke

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 11:56 AM

Meh. You know what? This game is all about not triggering multiple alien pod spawns. That's basically the game. That's the first rule. The second rule is controlling how to trigger a single alien pod spawn. Whoever said you can maneuver differently when you have not spawned a pod, well, yeah, but not really. Not much. Unless high cover is plentiful, you need to have 3 guys in or near high cover and one guy inching forward toward the spawn point's trigger LOS.

So basically that's the whole game and it's kind of boring. Get a good position and inch one guy up to trigger one cell spawn. Take them out and then repeat. Totally restrict your tactical movement (flanking etc) because any advantage of tactical maneuver is outweighed by the risk of triggering another pod.

Frankly I think it's all BS on a couple of levels. Unless the aliens not only lack any form of communication system (telepathy? radios? speech?) and are also deaf, there is no reason why all pods don't activate the moment the first pod activates. "Hey Gurgleplizz, what's that sound?" "Oh, sounds like native warriors attacking with their rapid firing metal-projector weapons, Fnurdzazz. What should we do?" "Let's just wait around. I'm sure Blarfdweb and Grnggnar will deal with it. Let's keep playing this hand of Blerbarfnitzvatch".

So all pods should activate on first contact. And if the game is then too hard, too bad. Turn down the difficulty level until you can handle the alien onslaught. But at least the squad tactics would make sense, rather than being like some kind of trivial variant of playing Minesweeper. :-(

I suppose there's no Mod that makes all pods activate at once? Does the AI crap itself if it tries to manage that many aliens at once?
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#54 sp1ke

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 12:01 PM

So based on the above, the game should either have one pod per mission or trigger all pods at the same time. Then you get to ignore the stupid meta-game of not triggering multiple pods. You still have to deal with the stupid meta-game of how best to trigger one / all pods. Which basically means preserving as many actions as possible at the point you trigger the pod, preferably triggering the pod with the first action of your first guy, each time. Which means doing one half-move (one single action of only one soldier) per turn. If you don't do that, you're being stupid, because you are losing the meta-game of pod triggering. So boredom and tediousness is mandatory.

How depressing!
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#55 sp1ke

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 12:13 PM

In fact it would be better if all alien units just spawned at the beginning of the mission, and used real movement / real tactics from then on, rather than the roving teleporting spawn locus approach.

I know the aliens don't get to fire at you. That's not the problem. The problem is you get an opportunity to both fire and maneuver to best effect, after seeing the positions they (all) deploy to. So passing up that advantage is giving yourself a handicap.

Really the turn structure of original XCOM EU was pretty smart and they shouldn't have messed with it. Real aliens sitting in real positions, probably on overwatch, waiting for you to move, requiring you to move cautiously and secure your flanks.

Yeah, I don't know why people complain about the pod spawning process like it's an advantage to the aliens. It's not. It's a freebie to the humans. The alternative would be you spot almost always only one alien at a time and usually the first you know about it is a reaction shot comes in from a flank and takes out your lead soldier. Then the rest that you can't even see yet start taking shots or maneuvering.

I realise that would be too much like original EU I guess and would make it almost just a graphics engine update. I don't mind that they tried new tactical rules but I am just not convinced the pod spawning mechanic is any good. :-(
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#56 sp1ke

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 03:32 PM

View PostNKF, on 07 October 2015 - 09:58 AM, said:

- NKF
NKF you will be pleased to hear I am making great use of the pistol / grenade combo in battling the First Impossible Mission. A grenade reduces an unbuffed Sectoid to 1HP as well as denuding its cover. A pistol hit is guaranteed to deal the necessary 1HP and saves the more effective Assault Rifle burst for a more worthwhile target, postponing the necessity for a risky and ineffective turn spent in reloading the Assault Rifle.
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#57 sp1ke

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 06:57 PM

As a slight improvement I managed to survive the First Mission with 3 soldiers, 1 gravely wounded, all 3 promoted. However to do that I had to save-scum quite heroically!

The promoted soldiers both died in the first turn of combat on the next mission and one of the two rookies died while they were running flat out back to the Skyranger. Well, they don't call it Impossible for no reason I guess!
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#58 Hobbes

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 10:27 PM

View Postsp1ke, on 08 October 2015 - 11:56 AM, said:

I suppose there's no Mod that makes all pods activate at once? Does the AI crap itself if it tries to manage that many aliens at once?

You don't want all of the aliens activated at the same time, trust me on that one. One of the worst experiences you can have is getting 5 Sectopods being activated in two turns on Terror missions on EW. Even with 6 Colonels you're going to have a tough time with that one.
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#59 sp1ke

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 11:45 PM

Aha for the first time I made it through the First Impossible Mission with 4/4 survivors, all promoted, one injured (9 days). So I am now going into the Second Impossible Mission with a Sniper, Heavy, Support and a rookie. :-)
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#60 sp1ke

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 01:34 AM

And got through the Second Impossible Mission (Abductions, Difficult). All survived, two wounded. 10 Sectoid corpses for the Lab freezer.

The strategic game is going to be tough on Impossible. I suppose the goal is just get 8 sats up. It seems impossible to get another Satellite Uplink up and running in the first month, even if you build a Workshop as soon as it is available. And if anything it's harder to build the satellites, as they would all need to be started by the 11th of March.
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