Tuesday, 9 June 2015

XCOM vs My Little Pony

As a bit of fun, I decided to make an all-pony team in my latest  XCOM game. I'm playing the Classic Ironman version, which is difficult plus you can't reload if it goes wrong. All decisions are final! After a disastrous mission on board an alien battleship where I lost most of my best soldiers, I thought "What the hell, let's go pony!"

All your favourite characters, now with big guns! Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Twilight are support class, Fluttershy is the heavy, Rarity is the assault and Pinkie Pie is the sniper. I also gave Pinkie Pie my one archangel armour so she can fly (in retrospect it would have been funnier if that were Twilight, ho ho) while everyone else has to make do with a mix of titan armour for extra protection and skeleton armour for extra dodging ability.

Weapons are a mix of laser and plasma, so these bad boys should pack a punch! The aliens won't know what hit them! That's XCOM, baby!

Aliens are attacking Moscow and we need to stop them! This is a terror attack mission which means that somewhere on the map are 18 civilians which the aliens are trying to kill. You need to rescue them, or at least one, or the country it occurs in pulls out of the XCOM project and all the other countries in the continent panic.

Operation Twisted Fog? That doesn't sound so bad! It's not "Bloody Death" or something. It'll be fine!

Okay, straight away we have a horrible situation. This is not a good map. I have had some very bad experiences on this map which I do not wish to discuss.

The aim is to rescue civilians. Unfortunately there aren't any nearby, so we're going to have to push in quite deep if we want to rescue the requisite one to not fail the mission. Unfortunately there's only half cover to protect us, and most of the cover is cars. Cars tend to explode. Meanwhile the aliens will be on the roadway, which is high ground thus giving them better cover and aim, and lots of places to hide behind.

I have had some very bad experiences on this map.

I decide to push forwards and fan out. The best way to do this is to run two soldiers to each furthest edge of the area you are moving to. This reduces the likelihood of discovering aliens on the last move of your turn. As this is a Terror Mission, you can mostly expect Chryssalids (scuttling things which lay eggs in your face), Floaters (they fly) and Mutons (big guys with big guns).

Fluttershy and Rarity take the lead as they have the worst aim, while everyone else holds back. Straight away we uncover two Heavy Floaters. This isn't good, because Heavy Floaters can fly, have powerful weapons that can kill you in one shot, heavy armour and grenades. This means they need to die quickly.

Unfortunately, this is what I'm dealing with here. Yeah. 7% to hit. With no-one on my squad able to shoot worth a damn, no skills like suppression to keep them in check, and no hope to kill the aliens in one turn, my choices are to hunker down (which increases my defense), take some shots, or go into overwatch (which makes them shoot if the enemies move, but if the enemy can see you in overwatch, they won't move, they'll just shoot at you).

I take a mixture of these depending on where people are, and lay down a smoke screen.

Then three more Heavy Floaters move into view. That's five Heavy Floaters together. I don't think I've ever seen that many!

With the odds against me, I need to get rid of those floaters FAST. Fluttershy brings the pain with her one rocket, and uses it to explode the cars the floaters are hiding behind, murdering one and severely injuring the other. Just uh, ignore the body of the civilian being flung into the air by the explosion. It's war! These things happen!

My main mistake this mission was to put Pinkie Pie up in the air. Snipers are excellent in Archangel Armour if they have the Squadsight ability, which means they can target anything anyone else can see. If they don't have that, they can't hit much, and putting them in the air just means they're easier to shoot. So the alien move results in everyone shooting Pinkie Pie, until she falls from the sky, mortally injured.

I decide to use Twilight to save Pinkie with the team's sole medpack, and then everyone else brings the pain on the Heavy Floaters! Pew pew pew! The odds are a lot better now!

...And then these guys show up to the party while I'm trying to mop up the floaters. Because I'm an idiot I ran Rarity forward for an easy shot on one of the Floaters, which uncovered these fellows. A Sectopod, which is a gigantic tank with huge lasers and missiles which can fire twice in a round, and two Drones, which have their own weapons, but can also repair the Sectopod. God. Damn. Look at those red bars. Those are its armour. God. Damn.

So Rarity takes her shot at the Floater, because she's out of movement points, and is stuck in front of the giant death machine! The Floater still has one health point left, but hey, that's what friends are for, and Applejack makes the kill.

"HAY GUYZ!" says the Sectopod. "COME OVER HERE, IMMA HAVIN A PARTY!" So two more Heavy Floaters turn up out of nowhere. If you're keeping score, these are not good odds.

Rarity survives the Sectopod's shot (which also blows up the car she's behind) so I decide that my theme will be 'pull the hell back'. I start to move everyone back to hopefully limit the number of enemies I have to fight.

What I forgot was that the Sectopod has a ridiculous number of shots, and can make shots and then go on Overwatch. When I tried to pull Rarity back further, the Sectopod used its overwatch shot to blast her! Rarity was mortally wounded and needed a medkit to stabilise and save her life, or she would bleed out within three turns. Unfortunately I WASTED my medkit on Pinkie Pie. Rarity's only hope to survive was that I could kill all the aliens on the map within three turns.

Spoiler: That is very unlikely

Let's see how I, the greatest XCOM Commander of all time, turns this situation from certain defeat to glorious victory!

Rainbow Dash stands atop the fallen body of Rarity, screaming a bitter vengeance! There's still two Heavy Floaters, two Drones and one massive death-dealing Sectopod out there, and only four XCOM members left! It can't get any worse!

Zombies! Zombies wander into Fluttershy's view! This means that along with all the other stuff I've been fighting, there are Chryssalids wandering around the map, laying eggs in people’s faces. The Chryssalids turn you into a zombie, and if the zombie survives for 2-3 rounds (I forget which) it turns into another Chryssalid. There are 18 civilians on this map that I've not been rescuing, that's a lot of people into whose face eggs can be laid.

At this point, things start to get better. Fluttershy kills the zombie. Twilight and Rainbow Dash make a start on killing the Heavy Floaters, and for some reason the Sectopod gets bored and walks away. Phew, right?

Wrong! I barely even got a chance to screencap this as it happened so fast. Two-three turns later, the Sectopod was still off-screen, but missiles from it rained down on Twilight and Rainbow Dash (and the dead body of Rarity), killing Rainbow Dash! C'mon, that's cheating, surely!

Oh look, there he is! Miles away! He comes around the corner, and it's only Fluttershy, Applejack, and a wounded Twilight to fight him. And then more zombies turn up! And Chryssalids!

Also, see that counter up the top? That means there are 4 civilians still out there, 0 saved and 14 killed. As Chryssalids are about, that could be up to 14 zombies/potential extra Chryssalids!

Now, this is tricky. The problem with Chryssalids is that they move really far in each turn. They need to touch you to kill you, but can generally do enough damage in one attack to do so. The usually technique is to pull back and keep shooting/overwatching. However there's a big Sectopod up there which will probably kill anyone who moves. Poor Applejack has a Chryssalid right next to her, and a zombie just behind it. She shoots the Chryssalid, but it's just not enough to kill it. Could this be the last roundup?

Twilight Sparkle to the rescue! Everyone's favourite pony princess unleashes the full fury of her plasma rifle, blasting it to oblivion! I decide to risk pulling back further, since both Twilight and Applejack are pretty injured at this point.

Disaster! I wasn't able to kill the zombie in time, and it hatches into a new Chryssalid, racing towards Twilight and...

...Oh hey everyone! Twilight's got wings! IN HEAVEN! ;_____;

Fluttershy panics! She murders the Chryssalid who killed her friend, and dodges a direct shot from the Sectopod, which I bet you'd all forgotten about! I... totally did.

It's good going, but her luck doesn't hold out. Twilight resurrects as a zombie, and thanks her friend for avenging her by doing whatever zombies do and killing her. GEE, THANKS TWILIGHT.

Applejack puts down the abomination that is Twilight Sparkle. Now, I could pull Applejack back to the ship and escape, however:

1) While there's a Sectopod out there, I still want to save at least one civilian to stop the mission being a complete waste
2) Applejack is worst pone, I could not let the others die and save her!

I decide that despite being heavily wounded, Applejack needs to avoid the Sectopod and rescue one person!

Unfortunately at the very end of her turn, Applejack meets this guy:

And this happens:

I don't think killing 16 aliens should be classed as 'poor'! The odds were really stacked against me! I thought I did really well! For some reason, base is telling me only five died on this mission. Perhaps one of them made it back to the Skyranger as a zombie. Who knows, my friends. Who knows...

Fluttershy killed 6. She is a monster.

As a result, Russia withdraws from XCOM, and London and France fall into panic.

And I need a new Mane 6.


Yes, I know, I know...

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