I’ve beaten the brutal mission on my second attempt. While it was fun to play and way more challenging than usual game, I’m still concerned it’s not brutal enough, especially if you take all the possible skills into account.
After action report:
Turn one: Heavy and Scarab go left, and tactically nuke explosive chiron, and generally make themselves visible to draw fire. Techi deploys turret at the back, Assault holds the main entrance with overwatch. Sniper hides in the Scarab, because he’s basically one shot liability at this point.
Turn Two: Artillery chiron fires one barrage, but the building catches most projectiles. Firebugs fall from the sky around the Scarab, but Sniper can get out, gunslinger them point blank, and still get back in the same turn. Scarab finishes off the explosive chiron, while Heavy uses his second rocket on nice group of three. Tech and Assault secure inside of the building - they can’t quite dispatch everyone, but by now all crabmen are panicked.
Turn Three - Four: Fireworm drops from the roof and promptly reduces Assault to crispy longpork. Heavy cleans up the left flank and wastes a turn trying to find second mindfragger, but I think it’s been obliterated in one of the explosions already. Sniper drives around in the Scarab and unloads rocket launcher at another chiron - can’t quite kill it, but it’s ok since it panicks and runs around. Tech deploys another turret on the right side and finally kills it
Turn Five: The queen appears and starts spawning mindfraggers, and there are two last crabmen on the map. Scarab is out of rockets, so I park it near the queen and get the sniper out. Tech tries to move for the last crabmen, but doesn’t kill it and is left awkwardly standing in the open. Heavy is on the wrong side of the map, reloads rocket and fires at the queen, but the damn thing is actually armoured and doesn’t really notice.
Turn Six: Another fireworm drops from the roof (seriously, if you give those guys ability to jump and ambush you from above, they will be terrifying!) and alights my Tech and crabman. Combined with wounds, the tech has all limbs disabled and 2 hp left - but mechanical arms don’t require arms to operate, so he patches himself up. Sniper scavenges nearby crate and nades the mindfragger. Queen takes the bait and spits goo at Scarab.
Turn Seven-End: Scarab tanks like a champ. Right side turret does most of the damage, while Sniper finishes off damaged limbs for that sweet bleeding effect. Tech backs down for the other turret, but by the time he’s back fight is almost over so focuses on cleaning up mindfraggers and crabman. Heavy finally jumps in range on last turn to steal the boss kill (that bastard!)
Overall, quite tense and not flawless, but for the amount of tactical errors I would expect something more … brutal
Now overall feedback.
Explosives are unfun, especially how they interact with limb mechanic. Anything that is not immediately dead will likely bleed out on their next turn. Chirons artillery can oneshot sniper/assault class, and the worse part is there is very little you can do about it (find nearest sufficiently big building as cover?). This is actually what happened on my first attempt, when I did not know which chiron did what.
Heavy’s pin-point, map-range rocket is just a kill button on almost anything, and I don’t think it can balanced to not be either op or useless without overhaul. To compare, Scarab with huge scatter is really binary - it obliterates if it actually hits something, which makes it situationally useful only in target-rich environment. But Scarab can’t do anything else, so it’s not like you make a meaningful choice to fire or not.
Granades are more fair, since they have short range, require a slot and take AP to even equip (that is unless someone would have skills that gives you free grenade throws and other ones that lets you manipulate inventory for free, and you happen to fill your backpack with them … wait a second …). And if enemy manages to come close enough to throw one - well, that’s what called tactical error.
Same thing with any multi-shot per turn skill. Your 10 willpower sniper can gunslinger empty your pistol clip (and get 5 points back from easy fireworm kills), reload, and still have enough AP to fire sniper rifle. It’s like Firaxis Lost all over again.
Thankfully extortion spam is harder, but increasing cost is just a bandaid - if you can increase your willpower as high as current builds suggests, 15 will soldier can still fire up to x6 in a spike. I really feel like those skills should be limited to once per turn, or willpower should have more in-depth management.
On the bright side, I really like where the AI is going, mindfraggers lurking from cover to cover, crabmen deploying shields. Any chance they would learn to work together? Eg. shield guys positioning themselves to cover more vulnerable teamcrabs after they fired.
I learned new respect to fireworms. If they catch you unprepared, you’re in for a bad time. I wish they had better AI in the normal game (eg. ambush attacks), rather than just crawling at snail pace through open maps.
Thanks again for the game!