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The Esperenza Campaign (Picture-heavy, 15+)


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#1 Sabin Stargem

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 04:38 PM

I recently wanted to try to play some X-COM, so I took UFO: ET Gold, and modded it up with the Uni-Mod. I lost a base in Antartica, the one and only X-COM. Goddess, I tried to expand too soon! But hope isn't lost, because I have a few days to get back my own...or so I thought. Things don't look good, do they?

According to the base's internal cameras, I got Hallucinoids, Snakemen, Chasers, and Chrysallids to greet me, and I only have vanilla rifles and grenades. Mind you, it has been about 3 months on Superhuman, with an alien invasion mostly consisting of Battleships, with the occaisional scout. Clearly, I am in over my head.


Landing Hangar & The Welcoming Commitee
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After using my rifles and stunning rockets to take down the Chrysallids, I soon found the real threat to be the Hallucinoids. Basically the bastard offspring of sectoids and reapers, they use their mental powers to paralyze units, then they close in to use their ginormous claws for dicing and slicing action. Drained of AP (Time Units), my troops are rendered helpless, unable to counterattack or to act during their turn. Unfortunately, the Snakemen and Chrysallids decided to join in as well. Out of my 8 soldiers, 3 are knocked out.


The hypnotic paralysis of the Hallucinoids is in full swing.
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The hordes close in, and yet another soldier is knocked out - by Chrysallid. Due to having set my game to "immortal", troops killed by Chrysalids don't die...but they still spawn a Chrysallid over their still body. This has to be done by the "killing" blow of an chrysallid (no one-shots here), but undoubtedly will cause me trouble well into the future. Fortunately, the sudden spawning of a baby chrysallid and a half a dozen melee units has clogged up the landing ramp: My two remaining troops are relatively safe, and are able to take off before being overrun. Whew!

The ramp is so overcrowded, that one of the team's members is able to escape. The other 7 soldiers are left to die.
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Moral of the story: Don't build bases in UFO-ET until you can build base defenses or have anti-psychic equipment for your troops. You will just be slaughtered, otherwise. I lost 7 of my troops since they weren't on the ship, immortal or not. That is my story for this encounter. :)

Edited by Sabin Stargem, 03 November 2010 - 03:35 PM.


#2 Sabin Stargem

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 01:41 PM

The year is 2108, the 25th of September. During the late 2048th year of the Common Era calendar, the scientists of Earth had created artificial sentience in many forms. Unfortunately, man wasn't suited to the upbringing of new lifeforms. Abusing their privileges as the creators of the "Artificials", the greed of the powerful had soon corrupted what was to be mankind's partners into slavery. This eventually brought about the Artificial War, which to the knowledge of the Esperenzians, is still ongoing.

Distraught by these events, an offshoot of the Future Consortium corporation had invested in Mass Alteration Devices and colonization modules, determined to find a new life and home that was away from the warring nations of Earth. They choose Esperenza Omega as their new home, located a tremendous distance from their homeworld. So they left, never looking back. Ever since the year 2050, they had reforged a new world and had their population explode over the next 50 years, going from a mere 126,000 to 6,393,205 lives through the use of cloning technology. For a time, an new era of peace and prosperity seemed to be at hand. Unfortunately, in the year 2,102 CE, strange ships and alien beings began to visit Esperenza, taking people, technology, and land as they pleased.

Despite reworking and focusing their technology towards that of war, the people of Esperenza soon found that humans simply lacked the physical abilities needed to fight on equal footing with what they had dubbed "Space Pirates", for lack of a better name. Losing all of their battles up to this point, they were forced to do the unthinkable: To create Artificials. Going with a server-client model, they selected 20 randomly generated personalities, placing them in servers. When it was time to do battle, these servers were granted permissions to utilize android bodies by creating an communications link. This afforded relative safety from Artificial Rebellion, and so X-COM was created.

Felicia, the "pretty face" of the Artificials
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The Artificials have proven to be far superior to humans, and have managed to achieve many costly victories. While their personalities and experience was rarely lost, their battle bodies often came away with scars and damage that would have killed a human. Repairing or replacing these bodies is time-consuming and expensive, as well as maintaining them. As such, costs were typically $40,000 a month to fully maintain the Artificials. Is it worth it? Many argue against X-COM, because a great deal of damage and lost lives has resulted from their altercations with the Space Pirates. In a single conflict, 32,000 aliens were eradicated from Tyrano City, but 11,000 civilians have passed on.


A PR Poster of a battle, satellite image
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For a while in the year of 2108, X-COM was awash in red ink. Fortunately for the Artificial population of X-COM, their performance in recent terror missions has yielded over $1,000,000 in bounty prizes, due to killing many aliens. Each alien head is worth $20,000, and the various artifacts have proven to be a boon after being understood. Newly armed with the BK01-Beekeeper armor, the Artificials are now well protected against plasma weaponry. Unfortunately, X-COM's ability to shoot down enemy vessels, even the scouts, was largely a failure to this point. However, a new type of interceptor, the "Thunder" and an advance in armor and weaponry for airborne vessels is looking to be a likely turning point in this respect. Downed enemy vessels promise a new source of income and technology, which is dearly needed: Australia, Africa, and Antarctica have all been overtaken by the Space Pirates, which has even resulted in the loss of an new X-COM base. The loss of these areas was a serious blow to the confidence in X-COM and the bottom line.




METAGAME REPORT

This is an short Let's Play & demonstration of UFO: Extraterrestrials Gold with GreyFiend's Uni-Mod, v3.84. There is a ton of optional settings that influence the gameplay, and I will cover some of them, plus some of the things that helps with making UFO: ET an equal of X-COM. A quick features list, that I am certain of:


FEATURES
Shields - carry these, and some damage will be prevented. Burns out with use.
Expanded paper doll in equipment screen.
Equipment template buttons, one to save a template, the other to use it. Handy!
X-COM Aliens & Personal, may be mixed with vanilla UFO-ET aliens. You can also introduce Demons...
More than two races can appear in missions, so there is a wider variety than X-COM.
Zoom in & out with scroll wheel.
Set the likelihood of character death.
You can take back lost bases, but they will be destroyed after 4 or 5 days if the aliens keep them.
UFO Swarms & Grouping.
Improved battlescape AI for Aliens. (Multiple settings)
Randomized battlescape*
The amount of time it takes to recover from injuries.
How costly the wages & hiring fees are.
The time it takes to produce items may be increased or decreased.
Use the Earth or Esperenza for the Geoscape.
Sounds change in volume according to distance in Battlescape.
Aliens make louder screams of pain as they take more damage.

LIMITATIONS
May hire only up to 20 soldiers, unsure about the number of tanks.
Only 1 base may possess research, workshop, and troop barracks. All others are airbases.**
Fixed battlescapes*
No flares, or smoke grenades. That takes away some important tactical options.
There are no stun rods, but you can get the Sirius Taser.
Limited & uninspired soundtrack. Not as good as X-COM. :(
Doesn't have X-COM's alien sound effects. Floaters squeak.
The primary base is placed automatically, you don't control the location.
Low morale doesn't result in chaotic action for Aliens or Soldiers. Takes out a lot of the randomness.


*There is a file at Greyfiend's website that enables random battlescape generation. Don't leave home without it!
**Grey-Fiend is planning to make all bases be fully operational in v4.0 of his mod. He might be taking away the X-COM aliens, though. :(


My current game: I set the difficulty to be Superhuman, and have a Psuedo-Ironman/savescum rule for myself: I can engage in any conflict, but may reload upon losing. However, I can only participate in any conflict only once, so if I lose at a mission, I will reset and not go into it. This is to prevent the death of my soldiers by mission-loss. (un)fortunately, I can't lose equipment from this, only potential bounties, ratings, and technology. So far, I have had gotten my head handed to me, but things have changed ever since I researched the Beekeeper armor. It is so much better than the Desert Rat armor!

MY PERSONAL RULES
Superhuman Difficulty
Max stats for soldiers
Immortal soldiers (They can't die from damage, only be hospitalized)
Can participate in a single conflict only once. May reload afterwards, but unable to try again.


Due to the loss of X-COM in Antarctica, the only remaining stronghold against the Space Pirates is ERO-COM in Europe. The loss of the $1,000,000+ that was spent on Antarctica was a major blow that almost stopped the research into new interception technology. Fortunately, my troopers were just barely able to resolve a terror mission, and recently completed a second one. With any luck, the bounties from those missions will fuel my anti-air campaign.


ERO-COM, the foundation of Love & War
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Edited by Sabin Stargem, 31 October 2010 - 05:19 PM.


#3 Sabin Stargem

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 08:41 AM

Money. Money never changes. While there has been many new developments over the month, the one thing that has never changed was a need for money. Selling off artifacti and pursuing grounded UFOs, we just barely rise above the $0 margin. Fortunately, we have managed to propel our technological development forward despite the many financial interruptions. We now have Laser Shields, an understanding of the Alien "shunt" effect, tasers with which to acquire live aliens, and an...interesting encounter.


An recent piece of technology that we have miniaturized is the Laser Shield. Up to now, we simply lacked the ability to make the powercells small enough to support a shield consisting of lasers, let alone to make it reliable. Dr. Martha figured out the keystone to correcting these issues, and so we now have shields to protect our own. Unfortunately, shields burn out with usage, and costs $5,000 to produce each one. Field testing has shown impressive results from personal shielding, but the financial burden is too great to produce them for field use. As such, we have abandoned this technology until we are more secure.


The chemical bombs of the Larva prove to be ineffective, as does the Sectoid's plasma gun.
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On the other hand, we have now made the Sirius Taser to be a standard replacement for the HARC-26 Rifle that we previously used. Much shorter in range and lacking in firepower, the Sirius makes up for these deficiencies by dealing a greater deal of damage, increasing mobility by removing the bulk and weight of a rifle, and is prone to stun opposition. We will be sure to equip some of our troops with the HARCs for ranged fighting, since the Floaters, Larva, and Cyberdiscs are all capable of flight beyond the Sirius's reach. As proven in the Brahmin Central, they are superior to standard Earth weaponry.


The first successful mission with the Sirius Taser, and an look into the Alien psyche. They enjoy having parks in their vehicles.
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During one of our missions to retrieve a landed UFO, we had an rather interesting encounter with an lifeform that we previously haven't encountered. As seen in the included picture, it resembles a "demon" by some extent, and also demonstrated the ability to ignite the area around our soldiers at will. While it was lightly armored, it still took over 50 bullets to eliminate, which is far greater than other unarmored foes, which usually require 10-20 bullets for Vipons, Hallucinoids, or Reapers. We have since dubbed the demon to be an "ArchVile".

The ArchVile, among the flames.
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The final one of the greatest events that the goddess of fortune has gifted us, was the introduction to the Civilian Assault Force via the Alien Shunt effect. Apparantly, the "Shunt" allows teleportation between vast distances, and allows our opposition to mix and match their forces from many regions, which makes them much more flexible. We are now able to tap into the Shunt, and was able to make contact with the CAF. We will assist each other via the Shunt Effect. The odds of victory has increased, because we now have more forces at play in the field!

The first human usage of the Shunt Effect, where X-COM and the CAF fight as one.
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Edited by Sabin Stargem, 01 November 2010 - 08:52 AM.


#4 Valken

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 10:58 AM

Love your reports! Keep it up please!

Archvile - is this the true origin for what occured in the "doom" series? Great easter egg! :D

I'm going to install ET on my new build to see how it runs. Any mods / patches you recommend for a fresh install so it plays like the old x-com out of the box?

Edited by Valken, 01 November 2010 - 10:59 AM.


#5 Sabin Stargem

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 11:45 AM

Just the Uni-Mod. I recommend using the Gold edition of UFO-ET if possible, but the Uni-Mod is compatible with vanilla. Be sure to get Patch 2 for vanilla ET if you are using that. Below is a link to Grey-Fiend's mod. Enjoy! :)

Grey Fiend's Uni-Mod

#6 Sabin Stargem

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 05:53 PM

A brief metagame report: I decided to restart, because I wasn't in any condition to continue. My loss was due to three things: fiscal mismanagement, a lack of understanding about the tech tree, and the early attempt at base building. Issue #2 is of relevance to all newcomers, so here it is: Capture alien commanders as early as possible. You need alien commanders in order to gain the understanding and use of Plasma weaponry, and other weapon tiers that the aliens bring to battle. The lasers in UFO-ET are regular weapons, unlike the perpetually charged and ready Lasers of X-COM. You also can't research Plasma weapons directly, so that is a major barrier to overcome if you want to approach equality with early opposition.

However, I have found that Shotguns with SEG ammunition is much better than the rifles that you start out with. The reason is because of the critical multiplier of the ammo, when compared to regular shotgun, rifle, and pistol ratings. The SEG gets x1-3, opposed to the straight x1 that the others get, but has 45-50 damage compared to the 60 damage of ordinary shotgun munitions. Not that much of an decrease, and it only costs 19 AP for me to fire off an accurate shot. Even so, I will try to switch over to Laser or Plasma weaponry, according to if I get a commander early on.

Edited by Sabin Stargem, 01 November 2010 - 05:54 PM.


#7 Sabin Stargem

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 09:51 AM

Excellent progress has been made, in that we have captured no less than 6 enemy commanders, and have interrogated one of them for the secrets of plasma technology. Unfortunately, the usage of Space Pirate plasma weaponry in the field has revealed that they are highly inaccurate, and personnel consider the shotgun's "SEG" ammunition to be a superior alternative. However, we will continue developing plasma weaponry, especially grenades and Heavy Plasma for anti-armor usage.

We also have introduced "Mind Shield" helmets among our troopers, because they lend considerable resistance against the psychic influence of the Hallucinoids and Sectoids. This has greatly reduced the threat of the Hallucinoids, who previously paralyzed our soldiers that were within range. Currently, the standard equipment of an X-COM soldier is as follows:

1 Mind Shield
1 "Beekeeper" suit of armor
1 Shotgun
1 Rocket Launcher
6 SEG Shotgun Ammunition Clips
2 Stun Rockets, MK1
4 Stimpacks
3 Phosphorous grenades
3 Fragmentation grenades



The standard equipment allotment of an X-COM soldier
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The tacticians at X-COM HQ has devised an alternative to smoke grenades, by using stun rockets and stunning grenades as a means to incapacitate enemies, and to obscure their vision at once. Due to the filters and equipping our troops with eyewear that can "see through" the smoke, we can secure landing zones and places with low coverage with excellent efficiency.

Metagame note: This is a theory, not a fact. It seems that smoke doesn't obscure vision much on my part.

Stunning gas: camouflage, and capture method in one.
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During an mission to pursue an Space Pirate expedition, we have found that they set up camp in one of our Avonium mines. An extremely powerful and crystalline fuel, we can barely use the power of Avonium effectively, but it seems that the Space Pirates can. We will try to acquire more of their technology and methods for utilizing Avonium, since that is one of the major resources of Esperenza. Furthermore, we have decided to revise mission policy to be more defensive than offensive, due to our greatly improved field repairs of the Artificial battle bodies.

An sonar & computer-enhanced image of the underground assault mission.
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Pulsar is an relatively small region of Esperenza, and we have decided to send one of our fighters to investigate. We had hoped to discover the location of an Space Pirate base, which should yield considerable resources and remove them from the recently taken Pulsar area. Fortune was with us, and we sent our troops within three hours.

An "Red Raider" enroute with an assault team against the Space Pirate's outpost in Pulsar.
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Upon entering the base, we soon found that it had featured an airlock area at the beginning. This favored us, shielding the Artificials from the initial defenders. The third chamber was some sort of command area, having no less than 15 defenders. More filtered into the command chamber, and an misplaced grenade removed the wall that protected us. However, a good number of the enemies were already deceased, and the increased mobility from having less walls helped the Artificials with making a strong offense. Once most of the enemy opposition was dealt with, the Artificials licked their wounds before splitting up to patrol the base.

Slow & steady is winning the battle at Pulsar.
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Ultimately, we achieved victory and lost only two battle bodies in the conflict. This was a triumph, and I am making a note here...

With 47,000 dead, the Space Pirates have something to complain about.
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Edited by Sabin Stargem, 02 November 2010 - 10:02 AM.


#8 Sabin Stargem

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 03:34 PM

Metagame Report: I feel that UFO:ET is pretty tough with the Uni-Mod. With most alien bases having over 40 enemy units on Superhuman, with 3-5 different races at play, it is a bit overwhelming on my part. Here are the changes that makes it tougher than X-COM


Things that make UFO:ET harder

Technological Pacing: Unlike X-COM, there is no early technologies that will last you through the game. There is about 6 tiers of personal weapons, and most of the technology you acquire will need two or three different lines of research in order to be obtained.

Enemy variety: Combining the types of enemies from UFO:ET and Enemy Unknown results in a wide variety of encounters, and some early battles in Superhuman difficulty will have them pop up. For example, my second mission featured Mutons, and another one had a combination of Hallucinoids plus Chrysallids.

No human psychics: Only the aliens can use psychic abilities, which makes human forces all that much weaker in a conflict. Furthermore, there is only the Bravery statistic, which gets drained by multiple psychic attacks, and you don't have a level of psychic strength or training. Considering that enemies don't need a line of sight to use their powers on humans, you will need to advance quickly and kill off psychic foes before they reduce your troops to huddled and shivering cowards.

No zombies: Chrysallids don't have an incubation period. They appear right after killing someone. This is slightly balanced by that they perform conversions with a killing blow, and may have to perform multiple attacks to convert someone.

UFO Swarms: Try shooting down a UFO when a swarm is around, and you will lose your own ships. Worse, you can turn on a option where the aliens actively gather and protect each other in convoys.

A lack of stun rods: You have no melee weapons that can readily stun enemies.

Smoke grenades: None are available, and smoke isn't that effective.

Lasers begone!: Unlike X-COM, lasers won't last you through the game, since they have limited ammo.

More complex AI: Generally superior to what X-COM has.

Soldier Limit: You can only have 20 hired soldiers at any given time, and they stay at a single base.

Reactions: The reaction ability of troops in UFO:ET is rather weak and subpar when compared to X-COM. However, aliens are generally more successful in this aspect, due to sheer numbers and having more powerful weaponry.

Numerous Foes: When fighting the enemy on Superhuman, their numbers can range from about 10 to 60, judging from my experience thus far. I expect the numbers to increase as time goes on, and I have found that missions at alien bases can take a while since there is so many enemies to kill.




Things that make UFO: ET easier

The Shunt Effect: You can bring in X-COM forces to fight by your side in the Uni-Mod. Unfortunately, they are pretty weak on Superhuman difficulty, and may end up as Chrysallid food.

The Vikings are Dead: No berserking for your troops or the aliens, so you don't have to worry about that kind of randomness. I wish it was there, though...

Hearing: You can sometimes hear the possible location for enemies, which can be helpful...or misleading, since they can move but leave the sound marker.

Unlimited Storage: You can have as many items stored at the base as you like. No longer do you have to work under an 80-item limit like in X-COM.

Controlled Stats: When a soldier gains a rank, you may pick where those statistic points go. Probably aggravating with the death of soldiers, since you would have to manually allocate stats for new troopers.

Unique Items: There are rare items that can significantly help your troops on the field, if you have the fortune to acquire them after completing a mission. Autodoc, Eternal Shielding, Psychic Leveller, Bioscanner, and a Portable Teleporter I believe.

Shields: Changed from the vanilla version of UFO:ET, the Uni-Mod has shields to be stronger and that a soldier can only equip one at a time. They are very useful, and I highly recommend their use since they prevent a significant amount of damage.




The General Report
Our continued attacks on the Space Pirate bases yield a great deal of technology, but we also suffer major casualties and often lose the battle. At this point, the Space Pirates occupy Seathopia, Thermos, and Medie. While we appreciate the assistance of the Civilian Assault Force, they often get slaughtered during the battles in record numbers. So much so, they may someday consider switching over to Artificial troops like we have. With over 36,000 deceased and increasing, it is worth considering.

Information given by the CAF has indicated that Esperenza is essentially the supply depot and preparation area for the Space Pirates, where their troops receive training and shore leave. As such, this region is considered to be safe for them. Apparently their population is quite large compared to that of Esperenza, and the CAF's homeworld - Medivo. Through the use of cloning technology and augmentations, the Space Pirates are currently waging war on Medivo, concentrating the majority of their forces there. We are merely bystanders caught in a crossfire. The CAF wishes to assist us with controlling the Shunt so that we could move forces between Medivo and Esperenza.


The opening moments of an base assault at Thermos.
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Within three hours, the CAF & Space Pirates suffer many casualties, but the Pirates win the battle.
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#9 Sabin Stargem

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 03:10 PM

The General Report

It is often said that the best defense is a good offense. However, X-COM's field commander had decided to make defensive measures the word of the day when it came to conquering enemy bases. Initial results appear good with our first trial of this concept, which is to establish a strong defensive line near the entrance of the base and wait the Space Pirates out. Unfortunately, the pirates eventually caught on and stopped sending troops, and we also discovered that we didn't give enough ammunition to our troops, so they often had to stop their attacks in order to reload. Time spent doing so before the enemy has been defeated is worrying, so we have reduced their grenade munitions in order to have sufficient room for additional clips.


With piles of deceased aliens lying atop of each other, they make for poignant PR pieces.
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The reason why we have taken to defensive posturing has to do with a failed mission against the Space Pirates terrorist activities. Whenever our troops disembarked into an area, they are often greeted by 5,000 or more troops, followed by an stream of reinforcements and being accompanied by heavily armored or psychic divisions. We simply can't outfight in a straight up conflict, and it is hard to find sufficient cover for our troops before things go completely sour. Strangely, invading their bases is easier, because we can take control of one or two great chambers, using them to have enemies coming into our line of fire, rather than the opposite.

Between the Silacoids, Larva, Mutons, and Sentinels, our troops died before they could find safe haven in Paradiso
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Due to this failure against the terrorist threat, we have decided to find and overtake Space Pirate bases in order to bolster our technological and financial goals. Fortunately, the terrain seems to favor us, since there are two great chambers at the base entrance, and most of the territory to the north-east seems to consist of walls and consoles. The enemy troops consist of Snakemen, Chasers, and Mutons, and most will be forced to come to us through the bottlenecks afforded by corridors, walls, and the door. We will try to avoid damaging the area, since destroying our best defenses isn't in our interest. Should the second chamber's walls be mostly destroyed, we will retreat to the base entrance for shelter. So far, the CAF has at least 4,000 troops still in operation, but we don't expect them to last long. While they have come a long way since initial contact, we still find them to be incapable of fighting the opposition on their own.

Securing the chamber, X-COM begins to wait out and eliminate the enemy. The CAF has done well to distract them during the setup.
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A Ban on Alien Juices
All X-COM & CAF personal are to immediately stop the consumption of Alien Juice or any derivative products of such. No matter how enjoyable the taste or sensations are, the substance is harmful to human faculties. Alien Juice is banned and will be confiscated upon discovery, with an measure of fines and jail time to accompany. Do not do the juice!

An iconic and unfortunate encounter with an alien tourist has resulted in a new drug trade.
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#10 Sabin Stargem

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 07:10 PM

UNI-MOD UPDATED - v3.90.1 now available!


The Metagame Report
I have updated to the new Uni-Mod version, which fixed an issue in how UFO vessels didn't get damaged when in a crash. This lend a great deal more variety to how an UFO looks. Furthermore, it seems like the terrain generator is better in general, which is always a good thing.


The General Report

Shady Sands: I am one of the battlefield units of the Extraterrestrial Combatants force, and I had an rather unfortunate run in with the latest and greatest of the Space Empire. Designated as "Preachers" and "Phantoms" by my partner, Felicia, they dish out a lot of punishment, but their greatest feature is the one thing that X-COM was innately superior when compared to the Space Empire: Shields. That is just plain unfair.

Phantoms are to Floaters as Etherels to Sectoids. A real step up, they got shields, floating ability, and a tendency to take far too many hits for my own good. Preachers are brains in a jar. A floating jar with a particle cannon, integrated restroom, windshield dome, internet connection, and...yeah. You get the picture.

Total and complete defeat.
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Fortunately, we later captured some of their troops, so that is fair, right? Especially with 8-to-1 odds. That gives me a warm feeling in my processors.

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Of course, my most favorite activity is to break into a UFO and lay down enough firepower to kill off the occupants. A pity we can't do that to our overseers, but hey...I get my action whenever I can get it.

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Edited by Sabin Stargem, 08 November 2010 - 07:11 PM.