In April 2016 Japan was visited by seven UFOs. This time around five of the visitors were medium sized raiders, along with one scout and an abductor. X-Com interceptors were able to shoot down the scout and one of the raiders. The abductor, on the other hand, was a large UFO that conducts abduction missions all over the world, and the best strategy for these is to let them land and deal with the abduction mission rather than trying to shoot them down. At this stage of the game our interceptors are no match for them, and the best early air game strategy is to save the planes for scouts and "scanning" UFOs. UFO-10 was one such "scanning" raider and I scrambled a plane just to try to inflict enough damage to save my satellite over Japan. Much to my surprise the plane landed hit after hit and shot the UFO down.
|X-Com's monthly report for April 2016.|
The second raider landed and was subsequently boarded by X-Com troops. Crash recoveries and UFO assaults are crucial not only for the supplies of alloys, meld, elerium and UFO components they provide, but also because raiding a UFO successfully unlocks research into that particular UFO type. Successful research makes that particular craft more vulnerable to terrestrial fighters, as well increasing the yield of supplies from subsequent salvage and recovery missions. The two raiders X-Com was able to secure meant that these craft were now fair game for our air force, and it would be these contacts that we would target specifically in the future, along with the fragile scouts.
April was a busier month for X-Com's ground forces. They conducted five abduction missions, two UFO crash recoveries and one UFO assault (UFO-11). In addition we also had our first terror mission in China, and a DLC mission, Portent, in France, for a total of 10 missions in April. The terror mission re-introduced an old but familiar foe in the chryssalid, while Portent squared X-Com off against more thin men dropping out of the sky. Experience once again paid off as our teams completed all the missions successfully. It was not without cost, however, as this month X-Com suffered three casualties. During a crash recovery Lopez was killed by outsider fire while cowering behind low cover. In an abduction mission in Australia Ortiz died from overwatch fire from a thin man while attempting to cross some train tracks. Inoue died in completely avoidable circumstances from floater overwatch fire. She was a scout and had the Lightning Reflexes perk, which imposed a massive to-hit penalty on the first shot, and a lesser, but still imposing penalty on subsequent shots. While dashing forward she was shot at by two floaters in overwatch - the first missed, and the second killed her with a 16% shot.
|The first casualties of the X-Com project.|
Her death wasn't bad luck, however, because it could have been entirely circumvented. If I'd used my snipers to clear the skies before moving her forward she wouldn't have been shot at at all. Instead I played the odds, and lost. Inoue's death is on me. In fact, all of the operatives suffered entirely avoidable deaths - Ortiz shouldn't have been bounding across open spaces like that - that's what scouts are for - and I shouldn't be letting outsiders take potshots at Lopez. Outsiders and thin men become increasingly dangerous as the campaign progresses and they start picking up skills and perks. Thin men in the mid-game become snipers with the Squad Sight perk - that is, they can shoot at anyone their side can see. Ever been shot by a sniper you can't see in X-Com? It happens in the Long War. Outsiders aren't quite as dangerous, but they're tremendously durable because they regenerate health in the Long War, and so every UFO breach needs to be accompanied by numbers and flashbangs. By mid-game outsiders can't be suppressed anymore (because most of them start having the Lightning Reflexes perk) so the flashbang remains the only sure fire way of locking one down. Lopez facing an outsider in a one on one high noon showdown was a losing proposition, and should never happen again.
|Inoue, moments before her death. In the next turn she would brave the overwatch fire of two floaters, and was killed by the second shooter by a 16% shot.|
Nonetheless April was still a good month for X-Com despite the loss of three soldiers. Several soldiers achieved the rank of Corporal and earned their callsigns:
Hugo "Murf" Cervantes, Infantry, Spain
Hiroshi "Tengu" Hara, Infantry, Japan
Junichiro "Akuma" Ishikawa, Scout, Japan
Valeriya "Eva" Ivanova, Sniper, Russia
Ernesto "Graev" Maestas, Sniper, Mexico
Aiko "Oni" Okamoto, Grenadier, Japan
Bridget "Syl" Roche, Sniper, France
Paoquan "Dacheng" Tsang, Sniper, China
Late April saw the establishment of the Officer School, and three soldiers were promoted to Lieutenant based on their Will scores:
Lieutenant Hugo "Murf" Cervantes
Lieutenant Yuri "Tenshi" Hatakeyama
Lieutenant Bridget "Syl" Roche
All three officers were given the Stay Frosty perk, which reduces the rest time required by soldiers under their command. This shrinks the downtime from 4-5 days to 3-4, which allows them to be redeployed faster after each mission. These three are my new squad leaders.
|Most of the UFO activity in April centered around Asia, as can be seen by the commensurate rise in panic levels within the region.|
On an unrelated note I just found out that the Mexican Constitution prohibits Mexico from sending troops out on UN peacekeeping missions unless at war with the belligerent. This doesn't affect my campaign in the slightest, but it does affect my fan fiction piece, because one of my characters - Chestnut, who deployed in the Ogbomosho story - was originally Mexican. I'm going to have to remove the Mexican troops from my story. As for the Mexicans in the campaign they'll stick around, but I'll be removing Mexico from the pool of recruitable countries in the INI file.