The Let's Play Archive


by Jade Star

Part 26: Operation Lune's a top agent and an even better shot

Operation Lune's a top agent and an even better shot

The push into Europe begins! Finally with some time, supplies, and intel I can push into Europe to secure its continent bonus, income, and more importantly access to ADVENT facilities in eastern Europe and then beyond. Tech continues to plod away and make some nice new gear available, but at a huge cost of supplies so it'll be a while before everyone gets fully kitted out.

Also the Spokesman is a dick. Seriously. 1 unavoidable Avatar project tick up in the ocean, 1 alien facility constructed, and 1 dark event goes off and he calls my performance mediocre? It's not like I could do anything to stop any of those things. Eat a dick spokesman. Did you see that Archon King die two missions ago? No? Well how about you one shot an alien with 104hp huh? What a dick.

Okay more seriously new and cool shit shows up in this mission. Starting with the beginnings of plasma weapons. It's about what you'd expect, more damage per gun, but the slow but steady increase in enemy health means we need the extra damage from the weapon upgrade to keep up with them. It keeps aliens in the range of 2-3 shots to down versus 4 or more. That makes a huge difference. The supplies cost is really steep though, and beyond basic rifles and the Spark cannon it's going to be a while before we get plasmas online for everyone else. We will get around to some of the other toys like bluescreen rounds when we can afford the supply costs. Right now though I need supplies of the basic weapon upgrades and to keep a small stash of supplies on hand to build radio towers to continue my expansion.

New enemy type! I bet you thought Faceless were the new Retaliation Mission Thing huh? Yeah they show up in the first retaliation mission and you get this far into the game with out seeing chrysalids that you might have forgot about them. They were the first cutscene enemy reveal in the first game, and then Faceless stole that this time around so maybe players got complacent and forgot these guys were out there, waiting for you. They aren't terribly more powerful that the first time around. Bradford makes some remarks that they seem smaller, which might hint at small changes to them. Such as they seem to move a lot farther than before, and seem to have gotten around the limitations of only being able to attack if they could single move into a spot adjacent to their target. Now they can behave like rangers or stun lancers to cover a lot of distance before striking on the same turn. They can cover an alarming amount of distance before attacking in fact. A bullshittingly large amount of distance. On top of that they can now burrow beneath the ground to wait for you and trigger a sort of melee charge overwatch. Scanning items are a big plus in dealing with this. The last big problem from them is Jake's focus on turn limits, or in retaliation missions civilian deaths. Most of the time you are not afforded the luxury of slowly creeping around with overwatch on all your men every turn. You need to move and save civilians and that will often end up with some Chrysalids in your face. Aside from that though they are largely the same, a few more HP put them safely outside of 1 hit kill range even with plasma weapons (not counting critical hits), though just barely. They still are melee only and will cause poison on attack. Dying while poisoned is still very bad, though it has changed from a zombie for 3 turns to turning into a cocoon. The cocoon that forms has a large pool of HP, I believe around 30, and if it is not killed quickly it will spawn another chrysalid. That's a lot of HP to chew through to deal with it, but the upside is that its a turn where it's not doing anything, unlike the previous game where someone killed could get up as a zombie and punch you the very next turn.

The typical ways of dealing with chrysalids still remain from the first game. Typically on pod reveal they will move in a bunch straight at you, they don't use cover so they don't spread out and thus can usually be a easy target for explosives. Rangers no longer have the close combat free reaction shot at something within 4 tiles skill access from the first game, but Blade Storm can work much the same way. Keep in mind a sword strike is unlikely to kill a full HP chrysalid. Scanning beacons or scan protocol will flush chrysalids out of subterranean hiding and are good calls to help mitigate unwanted surprises. Chrysalid attacks are also not armor penetrating so heavily armored soldiers or a SPARK can mitigate a fair amount of damage received, though the poison is still a serious problem that needs to be dealt with ASAP. Bring medkits to deal with poison and wounds to keep them on the map and fighting. Or be like Guavamoment and evac poisoned soldiers cause Firebrand must keep medkits in the back of the Skyranger. Doing that leaves you shorter on manpower, of course.

Support Colonel rank - Restoration vs Capacitor Discharge

Like most of the other support choices this one is probably already determined for you by your other choices. Do you want a medic or an anti-mechanical operative? Restoration is a wonderful panic button to hit in case things go poorly in a hurry. For a single action a support can have the Gremlin fly to every injured soldier and either heal them or cute stat/unconsciousness as needed. This is an amazing recovery ability that can help recover your troops and keep you in the fight and reverse a situation which might otherwise look at a retreat or risk of death.
Capacitor Discharge is a once per mission area of effect attack with the potential to stun enemies and deals extra damage to robotic units. This is a pretty hefty nuke option, and it can lay out a lot of hurt at once. While best used against robotics, normally it's unlikely to find more than two robots close enough together to really make use of its extra anti-mechanical properties. It will still seriously damage or debilitate the one mech and wound any advent nearby. A solid choice for when the giant robotic crab of the mission shows up.

Winner: Like so many support choices, it's about Medic vs Combat Support. Take your pick

Ranger Colonel Rank - Rapid Fire vs Reaper

Both skills are damage dealing in nature and so they don't separate as nicely into Scout vs Assault choices. However the clear choice is Rapid Fire for it's ability to double your damage output on tough targets and to be used every single turn. No cooldown. If Rapid Fire had a cooldown, and Reaper's cooldown was shorter there may be a discussion here, but that's not the case. Get Rapid Fire.
Rapid Fire works the same as in the first game. Giving a soldier two shots for one action cost. Each shot suffers a -15% aim penalty, but as people who have done the math and plotted the graphs has shown you are always better off rapid firing if your shot is in the 35-95% range. The only times to not Rapid Fire is essentially when you're conserving ammo for the next turn, don't have two rounds loaded, or have a 100% shot that will kill if it hits. Always be rapid firing.
Reaper is a cool skill in theory, it just doesn't quite work out as well as I think it was intended. Reaper gives a ranger the ability to chain sword strikes one after another as long as the sword strikes are killing blows. Mechanically that's done by refunding the action cost it takes to dash, so after a sword strike you can make a regular move and blast someone with a shotgun if you like to end a Reaper chain. With a 4 turn cooldown, diminishing damage dealt after each attack, and requiring a killing blow after each hit to continue going, Reaper has some strong draw backs. Full value of Reaper would require set up, leaving a number of enemies at low health explicitly so the Reaper could finish them off.

Winner: Rapid Fire. ABRF.

SPARK Paladin Rank - Channeling Field vs Hunter Protocol

At first glance both of these skills seem underwhelming to me. Channeling Field sounds nifty, but a +1 damage for one turn isn't really going to make a huge different in a firefight by the time you have a Paladin SPARK. Hunter Protocol relies on low percentage chances to activate and I am never in favor of counting on things with one in three odds.
Guava makes good cases for both of these skills since I'm not fond of either. With Bulwark and Intimidate selected previously Channeling Field looks a little more attractive. With two skills that boost the SPARK's performance in relation to being shot at a third would synergize pretty well. A Bulwark SPARK is out there to draw fire anyway, why not give it the ability to return fire with a little more power behind its shot? Still the single point of added damage, for one turn, seems very underwhelming to me.
Hunter Protocol has potential to be a big swing hit, seriously weakening a just revealed pod of aliens. The problem for me is the 33% chance to activate per alien. As Guava rightfully mentions that is statistically a free shot on a pod of 3 aliens. I think he however overstates how much good that will do, as it still relies on a SPARK with their mediocre aim hitting an overwatch shot. Still it has potential to be pretty impactful during a mission and may wipe out or weaken a member of a fresh pod.

Winner: I am not enthusiastic either way. However I am leaning toward Hunter Protocol because it has potential to be meaningful. Where Channeling Field will likely only translate to 3 or 4 extra damage dealt over the course of a mission at best, a single activation of Hunter Protocol that hits it's target is looking at 8-10 damage dealt.