Thursday, 26 January 2017

Further Thoughts on Long War 2

Regions have different ADVENT strengths; currently I'm dealing with low
strengths, but I suspect it's going to get nasty once I manage to scrape together
the resources to build a radio room and reach out to somewhere I've not been
yet.
My second attempt at Long War 2 is going better; partly because I've better distributed my veterans and made serious use of the 'train rookie' function of my Guerrilla Warfare Facility, partly because I'm not attempting short-time missions(1), but also because I'm playing on easy, because I don't find getting repeatedly slaughtered fun(2). Even on easy it's pretty damned tough.

Once you get into it, two things strike you about Long War. One is the increased depth of the overworld strategic game; the other is how the way you play changes. Stealth becomes important for more than just setting up your first ambush. Whereas in the standard game it's a point of pride to get all of the aliens even if your mission is to evac a VIP; in Long War, you've never done better than if you never have to fire a shot. The first time I stealthed all the way to the cells and nipped out the back door with the prisoners without a single exchange of fire, I felt like a god; probably Loki. There's still a satisfaction - a huge satisfaction, even on easy - in a two-strong Ranger team taking on five-to-one odds to put down the guard on a prisoner transport, but it's no less a victory when you then book for evac without even stopping to see what reinforcements are coming.

Infiltration fundamentally changes human resource management.
The changes in the strategic game are simple, yet profound. Firstly, there is an overarching goal to the missions in each area. Many missions involve intel gathering, which may turn up a lead. Once you have a lead, you have a shot at Liberation missions, which reveal the location of Regional ADVENT HQ, unlocking a straight assault mission to remove the region from ADVENT control entirely (although I suspect not irrevocably.)

Secondly, infiltration completely alters your troop management. In the basic game, you get one or maybe two squads-worth and train them hard, while the bottom of the order sort of languishes. In Long War, teams spend days at a time infiltrating mission sites. Between that and healing times, you'e going to use much, much more of your roster and it really is worth cycling through to keep everyone trained up. Weapon and armour management is also once more a thing, as Long War removes the squad upgrade option; new weapons have to be built individually and supplies are at a premium. Something is nicking most of my drops and I still don't know what. Maybe if I can get the Officer corpse I need to make a skulljack(3) I can finally find out!

Finally, there's the whole question of managing the resistance. I've barely got into that, and although it mostly seems simple - each resistance member at a haven can scavenge for supplies, snoop for intel, recruit new resistance members or hide - I suspect it may become important later and I may regret not paying more attention now. Given that the havens are now persistent entities with characters who do things for me, I anticipate retaliation missions feeling a lot more personal.

(1) Attempting anything with less than 200% infiltration is a doomed venture, at least with basic gear. Once I can send a couple of heavily armoured ninjas into the field, I may spec a squad for short infiltrations.
(2) I'm basically not committed enough to break the cycle, so I never get the catharsis of victory to counter the constant frustration.
(3) Proving Ground projects don't need huge amounts of supplies, but tend to require 'parts', and since most of your missions end in evac, you don't have as many stiffs lying around. You can't pick up dead or incapacitated enemies and carry them to evac; I've tried.