The Let's Play Archive

X-Com: Enemy Within

by Jade Star

Part 22: Operation Final Illbleed

Operation Final Illbleed

The public train with alien transponders has run around Hong Kong and lured in an alien battleship ready for the taking. In the conclusion to the Slingshot DLC we board an alien ship while it is still flying, run around on the surface of it, and kill everything we see as we disable it so we can plunder the hell out of it. Metal.

Also the name generator for missions rolls around to two of my inputs this time. I tried to put in a few words that would have connections to some of the LP's that have been on SA. Some of them are a lot more subtle than this one might be.


This mission is called Gangplank in the council screen and is the last of Slingshot. It's a very nice set piece, though somewhat recycled in terms of assets. The alien battleship is itself a map that you can normally have, only Slingshot has closed off a few sections of it and put it in a very nice skybox. Of course you see this map way before you'll see a normal battleship map, so at the time it all looks and feels very impressive and climatic to end the DLC on.

Mechanically it's a bit of an endurance mission. The kill count for me at the end is 20 and the map spans a good long distance. The distancing actually works in favor of the player for this mission. The enemies are so spread out and tend to do the council mission air drop thing so the mission lacks the heavy pressure of even a normal abduction mission of 12 or so aliens. It does mean you need to come stocked with medkits or be prepared to minimize any injuries you receive as the length of the mission will often dictate no time for wounded soldiers to slack off or play it safe behind the rest of the team. For the most part the trickle in of enemies means that you can set up and control most of the situations you encounter. Your soldiers will almost always certainly have heavy numerical advantage, and the delayed air drop to overwatch method of new enemy contacts often means you can take a turn shooting them while they stand in the open where they landed, or reposition your entire team to a more advantageous position, some Lightning Reflexes may be required.

The real dangers of the mission are attrition and over advancement. A soldier that gets shot will likely need a medkit, as all the enemies deal in the range of 6+ damage a hit, and few soldiers will have enough health to be out of danger of the next shot killing them. Thin Men poison spit will also either cost a med kit or take its toll on soldier health, pulling them away from full HP and toward the breakpoing of a LPR threatening to take them out in one hit. When medkits run out, the casualties can happen, and its a very long map with lots of chances for poison spit or a stray shot to catch a soldier even in cover. Over advancing can also lead to more air dropped enemies before a previous set have been taken care of, leading to a more difficult situation. This is usually a rare case, but advancing to flank or maneuver around the battleship can sometimes cause this. The nature of the map tends to make flanking maneuvers hard to begin with anyway, and often it's best to grab the high ground and work around that rather than trying to cover a large distance to work around enemy cover.

Personally for me though Gangplank becomes pretty easy once you get a feel for the lay of the land, or ship, and understand how the enemies are coming at you. Having an assault with Lightning Reflexes also makes things easier to set up. Draw off an overwatch shot and set up and kill the enemies as they drop down. Don't give them time to scramble for cover and you wont have a hard time killing them. This also means killing them before they have a chance to shoot at or spit on you. It's not always available as an option, but most of the time the air dropped aliens should be able to be safely killed on the turn they drop down from. Either set up well in cover so you're ready when the come down, or have an assault or two with lightning reflexes to open up a window of opportunity for you.

The Douchedisk. Let's talk about that guy. That friggen Cyberdisk is almost guaranteed to find you at a bad moment and wreck your shit with a point blank crit to the face or something. Count it as a small blessing if you only get hit by its grenade. What makes this Cyber Disk so bad? Well for whatever reason, every time I've seen it on this map it is pre-activated. No warning to it, no spotting it ahead of time. It just likes to appear out of nowhere, typically in the split hallway sort of area between the two sets of doors, and murder someone. Often I have had it float its way right through the first set of doors as everyone was stacking against them spending a turn or two to reload and catch up. When that happens it just floats right past you, flanks all your guys, and then blasts one dead with a critical hit. What a douche. There isn't really even anything you can do to prevent this. It's always activated somewhere in that part of the map and I can't find any way to predict when or where it will show up. It actually came later than I was expecting in the video. My plan in the video was to stack on the first set of doors and open them as fast as possible so I could get vision further into the area and try to spot it before it had a chance to float right past me for a flank and kill. This worked, sort of, but it still floated right through the second set of doors I had no way of getting to and looking past at that point. I don't know where this disk lives, where it hides on the map, but it always, always gets someone. I'll take it as a victory it only got to throw a grenade at one of my soldiers this time around. Fuck that Douchedisk.

In The Zone vs Double Tap

Both of these are pretty amazing skills. Either of them multiplies the force a Colonel sniper can output in a big way. Double tap is a straight forward second shot every other turn for the sniper, letting you put the hurt on a tougher target, or pick off two smaller targets in one turn. In The Zone removes the action cost from any kill against a flanked or uncovered enemy, potentially allowing the sniper to take as many shots in a turn as they have ammo for.

In The Zone
+ Potentially 8 shots in a turn, given an ample supply of aliens to shoot.
+ Absolutely the best skill for murdering hoards of Chrysallids, zombies, and other melee enemies. As well as flying targets that don't get the benefit of real physical cover like floaters, drones, and cyberdisks.
+ Provides an amazing follow up for targets that survive a cover destroying explosion, like grenades or a rocket.
- May be more difficult to set up its potential value for those unused to the skill.
- Is sometimes a little glitchy with overwatch kills.

Double Tap
+ Extra free shot every other turn.
+ Reliable consistent boost to damage.

Neither of these skills are bad choices. Both provide for a substantial increase in a snipers killing potential but do it in different ways. Double Tap is the easier more reliable skill choice. You don't need to think ahead or worry about anything, it's passive and it is always there. Every other turn, extra free shot, easy as pie. ITZ requires more thinking to it. You have to plan your turn ahead of time a little to get the most out of it. Either you have to force enemies out of cover if you plan on using it on entrenched opponents, else you need only plan your turn order and use the sniper at the appropriate time. ITZ requires you to gauge the situation and understand how the order you move your soldiers in will effect how you can use ITZ. Set up an explosion here, or take the first shot on a tougher enemy so the sniper can finish it off and trigger ITZ, etc. These sorts of bits of preplanning are what get you the most out of ITZ. Though sometimes even that is unnecessary when two groups of chrysallids pop out at you, as they can just be popped off one after another until the gun is dry.

Over all I'd say the stronger choice is ITZ. But this call comes down to play style and experience. Double Tap is great for emergency situations where you really need to pile damage on a target in cover that will have a good opportunity to harm you after the end of your turn. Putting a second sniper shot into a tough target might really save you. However if you manage yourself and don't find yourself in situations where you're panicking to muster every bit of firepower from your team then ITZ offers a lot more, allowing you to clear fields of aliens in a single easy sweep. Drones, chrysallids, floaters, these things just become tally marks for your snipers kill board and they'll die before they ever pose a threat to your team.

The final word is really this; Get one of each. Pick one of each and put them in the field together and see how differently they work out. I thought ITZ was clearly inferior to Double Tap when I started out. Then I gave it a try and found the situations where it really shined. The one of each approach will let you feel out how they differ from either and offer some flexibility on deployment if you have a strong idea of the kind of foes and situation you will see on the battlefield.