Completed my first Long War (Long)

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beachgamer
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Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:06 pm

Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by beachgamer »

So...last night completed Xcom 2 Long War, my first ever of a Long War campaign. And campaign is the right word, over 210 missions and several hundred hours of gameplay. It is by far the biggest, longest single-campaign game experience I have ever, well, experienced. Sure there were bugs along the way, but in general hats off to Pavonis for creating such a (dare I say) fun mod to a great game. Also, thanks to everyone on this forum, which I checked fairly regularly and the videos by xwynns and marbozir, which were what really taught me the game.

Full disclosure, I was a shameless turnscummer to get through this campaign. I just don't see how anyone can even bronzeman their first time through a campaign, it is too difficult, too many quirks and tricks to learn, upper tier combat strategies to master. Or at least if they do Bronzeman, the time it would take to complete the campaign would be insane, 400+ hours. And if first-timers don't give themselves some help they will get 150 hours into a campaign and probably face a death spiral. Never getting to experience (and get better at) the end-game tactical combat. I rationalized it as the cosmic god(s) were on my side...they influenced spacetime in my favor letting me go back to the beginning of the turn!

First I need some rest, but my next trip through will be an honorman campaign, see how long my guys can hold out, and it will probably be a bloodbath. My impression is "honorman" is way harder than bronzeman, since so many missions knowing where the enemies are changes the whole mission - can transform an emergency evac with a couple killed guys to a dominating success. And battlescanners are nice but they are limited.

I only had two big strategies: 1) expand to as many regions as possible to try to identify dark events so I avoided the doomsday timer, and 2) build my squads around medical-build specialists who were also my officers and hack specialists. I liked putting them in the rear, let them influence the battlefield with their drones and commands. I also really favor medical protocol over combat protocol, you don't know who is going to get hit and this keeps guys alive to fight other missions. As for the rest, I experimented a lot and tried different builds in each class, had different team mixes, etc. Just figured it out. I also decided to skip psionics, focused on other things.

One other thing worth mentioning is I really invested in my haven advisors. Gave them good gear, rotated in some top guys, gave them officer training when possible. Probably my favorite build for an advisor is a Ranger graze/both barrels/tank build with the ammo that gives +2 against aliens (later w dragon rounds). Total faceless hunter/killer and adds nice firepower on a wide variety of other missions. He (or she) will pile up the alien bodies even if overrun with Chrysalids.

I ended the campaign with four or five pips left on the Avatar doomsday clock - plenty of time - and was pretty successful (and a little lucky) early to stop a slew of dark events though later in the game they seemed to sneak a ton in. The early successes definitely snowballed as compared to my two earlier tries at a campaign - more guys lived and gave stronger teams later in the game. Sort of obvious, but it felt good after two previous campaigns where I got wiped early (one of them the early reinforcements fired early and extra faceless soon after - brutal!).

The key to success in this game seems to me to be able to run a bunch of missions in any given month, at least ten and fifteen (or more) even better. Build a roster and harvest intel accordingly. Supplies are of secondary importance to the intel necessary to find the missions. I also think using the squads helped with infiltration and combat later in the game, from about halfway through I really kept the squads together. Kind of fun because they evolved differently, each had different ways to fight.

This is a long post, could share/write so much more given all the experiences in this long campaign, but will leave with two of my favorite moments in the campaign:

The first, on a "protect the datatap" mission mission my stud "kill from above" sniper just could not get shots and missed the few he did get. Just useless, meanwhile the haven rebels are turn by turn getting closed in (killed) and my xcom squad dead in the middle of a 3 pod ambush (love those!). Anyway, the sniper does not do anything all mission, I am literally cursing at him for how useless he is, the datatap is down to a final pip of health and a full strength muton rushes the building. No one has a shot on the muton as he is now inside the datatap building except...lo and behold...from completely across the map through a window the sniper has a beautiful yellow alien head icon on the muton...a flank shot cross map! Not only did he hit, he low-probability critted and one-shot killed the muton saving the mission and preventing a retaliation. Was just a beautiful sniper moment, out of the blue.

The other was on the final network tower mission, the one you do to get to the endgame. My team rushed forward, trying to get to the shut down console before reinforcements started spawning, I really hate late game reinforcements with 105 aim. Anyways, there are two pods to the rear, one close and one a move outside sight range. My technical rockets the close pod, destroying all cover and my team mops them up with grenades and rangers. Then my gunner - who was born and raised to be a kill zone gunner - sets kill zone on the entire area where the second pod will advance into. Which has no cover btw since it was just rocketed. 92 aim gunner, plasma cannon, elite magazine, elite hair trigger. It was just gorgeoous, "flight of the valkyries" should have been playing. One by one, the entire pod advanced into the kill zone, all of them, into the open and got a taste of plasma cannon from a guy who knew how to use it. I think he took a shot on the whole pod one by one, hit seven and outright killed four. It was a complete massacre of what was otherwise an elite advent pod, by one guy, when they otherwise would have flanked us from the rear. Probably my best long war 2 moment ever, still makes me smile.

Final thought is that this is the first game I can remember where I really HATED individual aliens. Where I really wanted specific aliens to die, and was happy when it happened. It became personal. Muton Elites, Advent Vanguards, and Gatekeepers, I really hated those guys. Nothing like getting critted from behind full cover by a guy who was suppressed.
chrisb
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by chrisb »

beachgamer wrote:So...last night completed Xcom 2 Long War, my first ever of a Long War campaign.
Congrats!
beachgamer wrote:I only had two big strategies: 1) expand to as many regions as possible to try to identify dark events so I avoided the doomsday timer, and 2) build my squads around medical-build specialists who were also my officers and hack specialists. I liked putting them in the rear, let them influence the battlefield with their drones and commands. I also really favor medical protocol over combat protocol, you don't know who is going to get hit and this keeps guys alive to fight other missions. As for the rest, I experimented a lot and tried different builds in each class, had different team mixes, etc. Just figured it out. I also decided to skip psionics, focused on other things.
Expanding is key. Not just for being able to pop DEs, but just being able to spread more vigilance around. It's hard to keep global vig high if you only have a couple of regions as they will soon be overrun with advent. I typically like having at least 4 regions available that I can rely on for missions. The more regions you have, the easier it is to manage the map.
beachgamer wrote:One other thing worth mentioning is I really invested in my haven advisors. Gave them good gear, rotated in some top guys, gave them officer training when possible. Probably my favorite build for an advisor is a Ranger graze/both barrels/tank build with the ammo that gives +2 against aliens (later w dragon rounds). Total faceless hunter/killer and adds nice firepower on a wide variety of other missions. He (or she) will pile up the alien bodies even if overrun with Chrysalids.
This I feel is one of the most undervalued aspects of the game by some people. Advisers are near my top priority to get up once I start hitting strength 3 regions. Having solid soldiers to man the relay until the cavalry show up is really important. I find it useful to use the advisers from other havens on the intel raids let's them all keep leveled up, if they get behind I'll take them on missions to catch them up. But overall I make sure they are at good ranks and with good equipment, this keeps the intel flowing and the missions at good times.
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nick_abbott
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by nick_abbott »

Fun post Beachgamer, thanks!
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johnnylump
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by johnnylump »

Thanks for the post.
beachgamer
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by beachgamer »

Thanks for the comments...I am still far from an advanced player but know enough to respect anyone that has completed a bronzeman or harder campaign.

I still really am not sure how vigilance works. In general, I just tried to keep hitting them all over the map. Have one or two primary regions at any given time, try to liberate those before advent strength gets to 7. Then do all the other missions that I can at 200 infiltration (if possible).

I really agree about the haven advisors, I think they matter a lot. Strong advisors save lives on "save the wiretap" missions, and turn the tide on retaliations. In addition to piling up faceless corpses on the spy ambushes (which I enjoyed more than some because I was invested in my advisors). So by mid game you just have a lot more resistance personnel working the intel. Which drives success in the game.

Next game, I am going to spam several rangers in the guerilla center, groom them from the start to be advisors. Btw, haven advisors are legit uses of otherwise worthless ironskin pcs. Bring on the faceless, chrysalids and lancers!

I still can't get over how happy I was when certain aliens were killed. I really really hated some of them. Can't remember another game that did that to me.
Jacke
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by Jacke »

Vigilance is the impact your successful missions are having on ADVENT. It will draw ADVENT strength to zones with high vigilance and enough global vigilance will increase ADVENT reinforcements from off-world. It will also start restricting the advancement of the Avatar Project. This final effect is vital to having enough time to build up to sufficient strength and technology to complete the Golden Path missions and defeat the aliens.
chrisb
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by chrisb »

I would also recommend Assaults and Technicals as haven advisers.

For the assaults I like Slug > CnP > Fortify > Formidable > CE > CCS > Lethal
For the technicals I like FITH > Fortify > Burnout > Formidable > Incineration > Tac > Bunker

The idea with the assault build is they can pop Fortify + RunNGun and charge out into the oncoming pod. Tank for a turn while the rebels flashbang/grenade things, then kill two things next turn. If you get good positioning you can knock out a lot with CCS as well later in the game.

For the technical, your kind of doing the same. Run out, flamer + flashbangs, then next turn drop a rocket and pick things off in the open.

The reason I like to not make them all the same class is that I use them on the raids as part of the main squad. You can't pull the adviser from the haven being attacked, but you can pull the advisers from all the other havens. I try to keep around 6 havens running full intel and so I've always got 5 advisers I can pull for the main squad. Throw in some gunners/snipers and you got a pretty badass squad that can just run up to stuff and kill them fast. Of course I'll take more of my main barracks squads if I feel the need for xp on them, but typically most of my advisers get pulled for raids/retals.
Jacke
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by Jacke »

I like keeping Advisors up to gear as well, but I think it might be asking a lot to consider having GSgts and their skills for Advisors. Unless you're really wanting to clear out a zone of suspected Faceless. Which would likely mean installing a good troop like a GSgt from the fighting Squads for a while to do so.

I think it was trihero who told me that you should expect most Advisors to be no more than LCpl or Cpl with maybe a rank of Officer as well. That's one place where the Technicals really shine as they get a lot of firepower early on.

When filling in Advisors with other troops, I have had good early Rendezvous missions with Rangers and Sharpshooters, but I don't know about using them specifically. With Rendezvous, if you carefully scout out all the enemy before engaging and control the engagement to not take on too many at once, you can likely be successful with any well equipped trooper with a few Rebels.

I've not done Retaliations (my campaign stalled when I was facing a disastrous Retal) , but I definitely think you'd need a good troop there. I think the Advisor carrying more Smoke might help the rebels survive until the fight Squad can join them, but you may get enough Smoke with the Rebels.
beachgamer
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by beachgamer »

That is an interesting idea to pull Haven advisors for the retaliation and save the datatap. I may try that next go around. My reservation would be they get knicked up and out of service, and miss protecting their haven should an event pop.

I did try technicals for advisors. They worked ok imo, but got less effective mid game on. Part of the reason is it is relatively expensive to equip technicals well with the x armor and gauntlet 2.0 plus weapon. Another is the flames don't kill, have limited charges, and faceless regenerate. I just found myself in a sea of faceless too many times, and at that range the rocket is useless. The alternative is opening with the rocket, and just dealing with how to close range on the second pod to flame. But at that point the second pod is coming in hot (they hear a rocket) and shooting at your rebels, with lots of one shot kills.

Give me a scoped ranger w the +2 rounds. Open with a rebel grenade. Ranger will severely wound two, possibly kill one or both. Flashbang the others so they can't attack, move too slow. Take a couple shots. Then clean up in turn two. Btw, I opened with a flashbang once just to see what would happen, it worked.
DaviBones
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by DaviBones »

Opening with a flashbang is underappreciated I feel. It is actually quite powerful. Not only is there the obvious benefit of CC'ing the entire pod, but additionally, the disorient affects the pod's scatter range. This takes away the agency of the movement AI, putting them in half cover, or spots that are easily flankable. If you flashbang the pod in the perfect spot, sometimes some of them can't even reach cover at all. Additionally, flashbangs are FAR quieter than frags.

I always open with a flashbang on gatecrasher, and will usually do so on Rendezvous missions as well (unless the haven adviser is a technical or an assault with trench gun).
LordYanaek
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by LordYanaek »

chrisb wrote:I would also recommend Assaults and Technicals as haven advisers.

For the assaults I like Slug > CnP > Fortify > Formidable > CE > CCS > Lethal
For the technicals I like FITH > Fortify > Burnout > Formidable > Incineration > Tac > Bunker
I like assault advisers but i build them with Trench Gun as it gives me an early power spike unlike CnP+CE.
Techs were good early but lost their punch in the late game. I moved some of my early techs as advisers after i stopped using them much in regular missions and they did an OK job but not as good as Assaults.
The reason I like to not make them all the same class is that I use them on the raids as part of the main squad. You can't pull the adviser from the haven being attacked, but you can pull the advisers from all the other havens. I try to keep around 6 havens running full intel and so I've always got 5 advisers I can pull for the main squad. Throw in some gunners/snipers and you got a pretty badass squad that can just run up to stuff and kill them fast. Of course I'll take more of my main barracks squads if I feel the need for xp on them, but typically most of my advisers get pulled for raids/retals.
I consider this an exploit personally. Retaliations and Raids are "quick response" missions where you are supposed to rush to help your guys who are attacked but you have time to take your advisers out of several havens across the world to field them on those missions. I always try to adapt my view of realism to the game but in this particular case, apart from "beam me up Scotty" i fail to find an explanation on how it's even possible :?
I wish there was a "proper" way to level advisers outside of the (rare) Rendezvous and the retaliations/raids but i think fielding an Adviser should only be possible in their haven's region, not halfway across the globe.
chrisb
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by chrisb »

beachgamer wrote:That is an interesting idea to pull Haven advisors for the retaliation and save the datatap. I may try that next go around. My reservation would be they get knicked up and out of service, and miss protecting their haven should an event pop.

I did try technicals for advisors. They worked ok imo, but got less effective mid game on. Part of the reason is it is relatively expensive to equip technicals well with the x armor and gauntlet 2.0 plus weapon. Another is the flames don't kill, have limited charges, and faceless regenerate. I just found myself in a sea of faceless too many times, and at that range the rocket is useless. The alternative is opening with the rocket, and just dealing with how to close range on the second pod to flame. But at that point the second pod is coming in hot (they hear a rocket) and shooting at your rebels, with lots of one shot kills.

Give me a scoped ranger w the +2 rounds. Open with a rebel grenade. Ranger will severely wound two, possibly kill one or both. Flashbang the others so they can't attack, move too slow. Take a couple shots. Then clean up in turn two. Btw, I opened with a flashbang once just to see what would happen, it worked.
I don't really optimize advisers for rendezvous as I've never found them to be that important. I've never done it but you can also sort of bypass them by revealing the faceless then evac out. You wont get loot but the faceless will be gone.

It's really more about optimizing for the intel raid/retal from having 10+ rebels on intel constantly. Especially with the upcoming change to network towers granting a free relay in that region will make going hard on intel until that is up even more important.

One of the interesting side effects is that once the intel raid is finished, another one can't spawn in that region for 2-3 weeks. This means your somewhat safe dropping a scientist in there. With full intel rebels + scientist your likely to catch the precursor mission for the full retal so you have a chance to swap him out, or just do the mission and win. The scientist can really help a lot with getting lib missions to pop with good times.
chrisb
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by chrisb »

LordYanaek wrote:
chrisb wrote:The reason I like to not make them all the same class is that I use them on the raids as part of the main squad. You can't pull the adviser from the haven being attacked, but you can pull the advisers from all the other havens. I try to keep around 6 havens running full intel and so I've always got 5 advisers I can pull for the main squad. Throw in some gunners/snipers and you got a pretty badass squad that can just run up to stuff and kill them fast. Of course I'll take more of my main barracks squads if I feel the need for xp on them, but typically most of my advisers get pulled for raids/retals.
I consider this an exploit personally. Retaliations and Raids are "quick response" missions where you are supposed to rush to help your guys who are attacked but you have time to take your advisers out of several havens across the world to field them on those missions. I always try to adapt my view of realism to the game but in this particular case, apart from "beam me up Scotty" i fail to find an explanation on how it's even possible :?
I wish there was a "proper" way to level advisers outside of the (rare) Rendezvous and the retaliations/raids but i think fielding an Adviser should only be possible in their haven's region, not halfway across the globe.
Even if the avenger had to fly around and pick everyone up you'd likely have enough time before the mission expired.

I'm not against realism in games, but I'd rather a game have balance over realism. Realism too often deprioritizes balance which is why you often have to throw out a certain amount of realism in order to balance the game properly. Is it realistic that you can kill hundreds if not thousands of aliens for every one of yours that dies?

Is this unbalanced? I don't think it is given that advisers currently have no other reasonable way of getting xp. Not to mention the extra resources your spending on gear that often just sits on that soldier without being used. If you couldn't pull advisers easily, then you'd have a lot more trouble dealing with raids. Or you'd have to not be gathering intel, which means you fall behind on vigilance. Either way it throws a lot of balance out of whack imo. I really think the game is more balanced having haven advisers be an integral part of the squad, rather than just the rabble that isn't fit for fighting. It also makes the game more engaging, I think intel raids are the missions I like the most, and having a proper squad makes them manageable rather than a frustrating mess.
LordYanaek
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Re: Completed my first Long War (Long)

Post by LordYanaek »

chrisb wrote: Even if the avenger had to fly around and pick everyone up you'd likely have enough time before the mission expired.

I'm not against realism in games, but I'd rather a game have balance over realism. Realism too often deprioritizes balance which is why you often have to throw out a certain amount of realism in order to balance the game properly.
You don't have to tell me that realism have to come after balance, as i said i always try to rationalize aspects of the game to find a reasonable explanation to the mechanisms rather than complain the mechanisms don't fit my view of realism.

However, on that particular subject i find the idea of gathering Advisors from all corners of the world to quickly answer an emergency totally immersion breaking. In this run i try to rotate advisers in and out of havens and field them on regular missions so they don't fall behind in ranks but for me an emergency is an emergency and that mean i don't have time to fly around the world twice :roll:

Well, that's how i see it but of course you're free to have a different view. From a pure optimization PoV your strategy is better as those are the missions that don't lock them out of duty for too long but i won't let optimization distract me from my game more than realism ;)
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