Part 21: Operation Naked Prince
Operation Naked Prince
A lot of work gets done on the base before this mission. Several compartments are cleared up for future building and provide a nice boost to supplies on hand to help start more construction projects. Notably the workshop was completed. The workshop works differently in the second game. Staffing the workshop with one engineer results in two staffing gremlins which function almost identically to engineers except they are limited to facilities adjacent to the workshop. With that minor limitation aside workshops let you effectively boost the number of engineers you have on staff. Planning where to put the workshop and other facilities becomes pretty important, but the constraints are fairly easy to work around. Personally I like to have the communication center nearby as that is a building you will always want fully staffed. Other possible considerations include the Psi Lab and the Proving Grounds.
Other than that the base is in pretty good shape. I now have the manpower and energy supply needed to build and staff most if not all of the facilities that are my immediate concerns. With the Avatar progress tracker getting pretty high the ability to contact and expand into a large number of additional regions will be a huge benefit not only for fighting the Avatar project but for securing more continent bonuses and additional income from the extra regions. The Psi Lab is still in the process of getting built and can not arrive soon enough. Psionic soldier progression works differently in the second game versus the first but I'll cover that in depth when we get there. For now I'll say that getting a Psi Lab up early is certainly possible, but expensive. Once you get going out of the early game there becomes a huge list of possibilities and facilities you have the choice of spending your time and money on. The proving ground, the AWC, communication center, a workshop, additional power generators, the GTS upgrades, and so on will present you with more options than you have resources for and so unless a conscious effort is made then a Psi Lab will take some time to get running. However there is a benefit to getting the Psilab up earlier rather than later, aside from the obvious part about having Psi soldiers. Namely Psi Soldiers do not level up the way the rest of the troops do. They do not level from kills or missions completed. Psi soldiers level up based on how long you leave them in the Psi Lab training. They will train and gain new abilities over time, rather than by experience in the field. Naturally this means getting the lab going faster means you will have stronger psionic soldiers faster. It's a judgement call, Psi Labs are expensive to get going early on, but the results can be very powerful.
As for the mission there wasn't anything particularly new but there were two things that were variations on what we've seen before. First off was the Unexpected Trouble of the queen showing up. Thankfully I got a good spot on it because of Talow remaining concealed. I got a decent initial engagement on it because of that and was able to drop a lot of ordinance on it right away, the frost bomb, the acid bomb, and then a rocket. However looking back at it I may have been able to do better by moving as many people as i could to just beyond visual of the Queen, overwatching everyone and then sending Shredder forward to trigger the Queen into moving forward into a wall of overwatch fire. Still, it was handled fairly well and didn't disrupt the mission too poorly. The Queen escaped with an unknown amount of HP left, but it's not very much and likely will not be a big problem the next time she shows up. Secondly was the recovery of overextending myself in the ADVENT building and triggering a pod of ADVENT soldiers near the end of my turn, notably with Cain caught out of position and flanked. Somewhat amazingly I was able to turn that around with a combination of skills and equipment choices and recovered from it with out any of my would be ambushers even getting a shot off on me. Nothing too amazing but another moment I was proud of my ability to dig myself out of a bad situation (that I put myself into by hastily advancing gasmask).
Ranger, Major skill choice
Deep Cover vs Untouchable
Deep Cover is a simple skill, if you do not attack during your turn you hunker down for free at the end of your turn. It honestly seems of very little use to me, though having never selected it I would have to wonder and test how it interacts during certain circumstances. Since hunkering down drastically shortens a soldiers view distance around them how would that effect a soldier overwatching? It could potentially ruin a soldiers ability to overwatch because hunkering down cuts their sight range down.
Untouchable makes a soldier immune to the first attack against them on a turn following a kill. It's maybe worded a little awkwardly but Untouchable grants a ranger a 1 hit immunity following a kill, but this immunity doesn't last more than the following turn. It's great for rangers that have to really extended themselves to get a kill and can be exploited a little when there is only a single thing left to shoot at your ranger.
Sharpshooter, Captain skill choice
Kill Zone vs Face Off
Kill Zone sets up a cone shaped zone you place over an area of the battlefield and enter overwatch. Anything that moves in that zone will draw a reaction fire from the sharpshooter. This skill is only limited by the number of rounds loaded in the sharpshooters gun and the number of targets that enter the kill zone. This skill is perhaps the primary reason I place additional ammo capacity mods on sharpshooter rifles. It is not particularly hard or uncommon to be able to place Kill Zone orders to cover 3+ targets during a fight and the amount of damage landing a sniper shot on multiple targets all in the same turn can easily turn the tides of a fight.
Face Off is an interesting alternative to Kill Zone. It works differently in use and mechanics, but it accomplishes the same goal of putting a lot shots out against the enemy in a single turn. Face Off will have the sharpshooter fire a single pistol shot at every target they can see. That is potentially a lot of shots and a lot of hits. However it's still subject to the usual rules of cover, range penalties, and having your sharpshooter in a situation where they are surrounded by enemies.
Essentially there is no choice here. Either you want a sniper or you want a gunslinger and if the previous ranks skill choice didn't make you pick one way or the other then this one will. You will either pick Kill Zone because you have your sharpshooter set up to be killing things through squad sight. Or you will pick Face Off because you've chosen to have your sharpshooter in the thick of the things like the rest of your soldiers.
Winner: Kill Zone
Grenadier, Captain skill choice
Volatile Mix vs Chain Shot
Volatile Mix adds +2 damage to all grenade hits. This turns regular frags from 3-4 to 5-6 and further boosts the other special explosives. Focusing just on regular frag grenades which have a 80% chance to deal 3 damage, adding plus two to that is a 66% increase in their damage. That's huge. Grenadiers are on the field to blow stuff up and this is a skill that is easy to get a lot of mileage from.
Chain Shot is the shitty little cousin of Rapid Fire. It incurs the accuracy penalty of Rapid Fire but demands that you land your first hit or you don't even get to take the second hit. This leads to a likely situation of taking a shot with -15% aim and if you miss you get no benefit whatsoever. This is a bad skill unless your odds of hitting are super high. But this skill comes on Grenadiers who are your least accurate shooters. Maybe usable at point blank ranges.
Winner: Volatile Mix
Also a reminder to give Talow a nickname.