It is done, humanity has been saved and the alien threat has been thwarted and my veterans can now get some much deserved rest. As of yesterday I can now say that I have beaten Xcom enemy unknown classic ironman challenge.
Attempt # and time: game 19 and ~17 hours playtime
Total playtime (all attempts): 37 hours
In-game time: 267 days
Total soldiers lost: 17
Countries lost: USA, Mexico, England, France, China, Argentina
Starting country: USA
The last mission was done with a crack team consisting of 5 colonels (max rank) and one major of which there was 2 snipers, 2 support, 1 heavy (major) and 1 assault. I had three psykers, all characters had plasma weaponry and titan/psi armor. Foundry upgrades I found were useful for the last mission were the improved pistols and improved medpacks. I would have loved to have mindshields but didn’t wait to get the etherals bodies needed.
If you read the previous parts you may have noticed that the US was added to the list of countries I lost. This time it was a counscious choice. Moments before I launched the final mission I had a terror alert in Dallas and I chose to ignore it so I would not risk injuring anyone in my Team A. Sadly, this cost me the support of the US and probably meant that most everyone died in Dallas. I probably should feel more conflicted about this.
The overall strategy
Because I know this is what you’re all here for I’ll try to outline the broad goals. First of all there’s a definitive make or break point at the three months marker and then right at the fourth month marker. The first is whether you’re ready for mutons and the increased difficulty of the tactical game and the second is if you can manage well enough the terror levels. Both are tied of course but if you can make it past the fourth month in relative control then the worst is behind you.
Beating the Muton test: I’m using Mutons as the example but really it’s more about the increased difficulty in missions at the beginning of the third month. It comes down to really three elements, having laser weaponry, having carapace armor and having ranked enough soldiers. There’s no big trick to this either. Rush to laser weapons (rifles are enough), then to armor and keep using the same soldiers over and over. If you can get the rest of the laser weapons all the better but you need to be able to take down mutons in two shots and be able to survive a hit from their weapons.
Managing the terror level: First, you cannot afford to fail anything. It’s that simple or it will all snowball rapidly out of control. Then comes the abduction mission choices. The important thing here is that succeeding at an abduction mission will lower terror for that country only and raise the terror level in all of the countries of the continents you didn’t go to. So, not going to europe means you raise the terror level in 4 countries. The overall strategy is simple, just look at what countries can take a terror hit and which cannot and plan accordingly. Satellites will likewise be used to lower terror levels in strategic spots.
Of course while your busy fighting the aliens and managing terror you’ll be making as many satellites as you possibly can so you can get full coverage (I achieved in in month 4). Once that is done and you start shooting down Ufos with some regularity you’ll see the terror levels slowly recede and at some point the abductions missions will stop altogether.
The middle and late game
I won’t spend too much time here because I want to do a guide later this week that will cover this but for now suffice to say that once you’re past the early game you will want to get plasma weaponry next and then the big titan armor quickly and finally work on building that A team that will see through the endgame.
In the end classic ironman was a fun and very intense experience. There was a scary moment in the oversee ufo mission where came within inches of total disaster but I managed a win thanks to my two snipers and some help from the random number generator. I’ll definitively give this game a few more playthroughs the first of which will probably be a game on normal so I can mess around with the tech I didn’t have time for (ghost armor, Shiv for example). I may do an impossible ironman playthrough later but I think I’ll give myself some time first to enjoy this victory.