Part 19: Operation Naked Serpent
Operation Naked Serpent
Totally a normal retaliation mission here, with only the introduction of Muton Berserkers to add any flavor to the fight. Berserkers work almost exactly the way they did in the first game. They carry no weapons and are only capable of melee attacks. The most noticeable difference is that when they are shot the new berserkers will roar and stay in place, rather than taking a half move towards the soldier that shot them like in the first game. This eliminates berserker ping-pong and makes them slightly harder to kill. Instead of taking a small move when they are injured the new berserkers roar and gain a buff that increases their movement range. It may work out to be effectively the same thing, but with out being able to draw the berserker around the map to set them up for easier shots by your squad. They still have a large amount of health to work though, but thankfully no armor so dealing with them usually isn't too bad if you can get multiple soldiers to fire on them in one turn. Berserkers are kind of like Stun Lancers in that you want them dead first. Letting them run into your group of solders and having them start pounding on your men is always going to very quickly go very bad.
I made use of scanning protocol this mission to! Yay me, Guava was proud. Honestly I was a little underwhelmed, only scanning something like 4 civilians with it. It did detect a faceless and let me kill it before it could even do anything, so that was kind of neat, but I was hoping for more. Like detecting the last alien pod that was only a little farther away into the shroud.
And nothing else interesting happened.
Oh right the Queen Berserker!
The second Alien Ruler to show up is a Queen muton berserker. Even bigger than all the other mutons and packing two giant pneumatic press plates or something strapped to her arms with Bane like tubes connected to tanks on her back the Queen can be really frightening. With 90 health and 3 armor the Queen will not go down easily. The Queen's attacks are more or less what you'd expect with a berserker, all melee and even an action to roar and make panic checks on all of your soldiers in a certain range. I'm not sure what that range is exactly, but it seems like it's if a soldier is in visual range of the Queen they are affected. The Queens direct attack can deal a lot of damage to a single soldier while the area of effect ground pound attack the queen has can do minimal damage to everyone in an area around the Queen. The worst part about the area of effect attack isn't the damage, it's that it can inflict status effects such as stun, disorientate, and even knocking a soldier unconscious. Getting unlucky with a ground pound can mean half of your team suffering from some sort of negative status and then letting the fight snowball against you. One quirk of the Queen is that it seems like she doesn't want to melee the same target twice in a row. This doesn't mean the ground pound and then a direct attack, but the Queen will at least not repeatedly melee smash the same soldier. I feel Jake put this in for game balance for other wise with the rule reaction mechanic it's easy to see a situation where the Queen gets next to a soldier that has used it's actions up and then punched over and over every time the Queen takes a reaction turn.
A fair number of people have a lot of trouble dealing with the Queen, and it's a fair problem. The Queen as too much HP to be dealt with very quickly so she will more than likely get into melee with you and start causing serious problems. More than before with the Snake King it's important to manage your action economy when fighting the Queen. A soldier with out line of site to the Queen is almost useless. Having to spend an action to move and then another action to shoot gives the Queen two turns. Forget that and look for options to deal damage in only one action. Be aware of your free actions especially against rules. Lightning Hands wont do much to a ruler, but it's a free action. Throwing the alien hunters axe will do good damage and is a free turn. The spider suits grappling hook counts as a free action and might be able to get you away from the Queen pounding your face in. Be aware of your actions, keep soldiers away from her with dashes when possible and ultimately one the best things to do is simply frost bomb the Queen somewhere you have lots of good lines of fire on and unload your biggest attacks on her while she's frozen.
Lastly, and I'm uncertain what causes this, but if you encounter the Queen with regular enemies around sometimes the Queen can go berserk and start attacking ADVENT units. I've only seen this once or twice, but then I've only run into the Queen with other regular enemies a small number of times. If I have to guess, I'd say dealing a fair portion of damage to her will enrage her and make her attack the nearest soldier, be it XCom or ADVENT. Super useful if you can get that to work out for you, but it's not something I could advise you on how to trigger.