I’ll be upfront about it, I used to save scum a lot in XCOM. I didn’t mind the damage so much, but some enemy placements were simply unreal and were more or less a mission failure. This was compounded by timer missions, where it was nearly impossible to set up the team without putting 5 guys in the open. WotC changes this up. 2 mission examples follow.
Mission – Relay Destruction
One recent mission required me to destroy a transmitter. There were high odds of Lost attacks as well. (Lost come out like crazy when there are explosions – such as grenades). I started the mission on an elevated platform (subway train) and moved along trying to inch closer. I had 17 turns, and the relay was about 3 full moves away. That’s not so bad, especially since my squad was concealed.
A side note, concealment breaks when you are within ~5 squares of an enemy, at even footing. By being elevated, I was not going to trigger a concealment break. More on this later.
I notice 2 MECs, 2 soldiers and a Viper around the relay. I set up the grunts, shoot a grenade to shred some armor and hit a bunch at once. The things get fun as I get a message that Lost swarms are inbound. A few close shaves (Templars are OP to start with Bladestorm) and I take down 4 of the 5 bad guys in 2 turns. Turn 3 starts with 3 swarms running to my position. That meant 15 new targets, ranging from 2 hit points to 8. The fan sure did feel like it was hit.
Creative use of pistols, reloads, and the Templar movement blocking got me through that rush. It was a nice adrenaline kick to be quite honest. A few turns later I destroyed the relay and was still required to clear out the remaining ADVENT forces. I put my Ranger into concealment and started walking around. Sure enough, I found them in a building and I lost concealment due to the distance issue I mentioned before. This is a larger issue when in tight corners, as concealment loses most of it’s value. I am of the opinion that if I am hugging walls, and concealed, I should not be detected…but the game has a different opinion. Ranger took a couple hits but I still finished the mission.
Mission 2 – Retaliation
A terror strike on civilians, with some rebel forces there to help out. Seems simple enough. A couple turns in, I am able to clear some sectoids and a beserker/muton mix, which free up 5 of the 6 rebels. They go off like rockets to the civilians.
Where the base XCOM2 required you to physically go next to civilians to rescue them, potentially out in the open, WotC simply requires you to protect them. This is a good thing, since there is always at least 1 Faceless hiding in their masses. Staying back lets you clear the map before 10hp flyswatter comes into play.
The rebels start shooting all over the place, but the fog of war prevents me from seeing exactly how many enemies there are. I take a couple of safe turns to get closer and set up my sniper & reaper. I put a Ranger a bit closer and somehow manage to trigger 3 groups of Mutons/Berserkers. At the same time. I couldn’t help but start laughing at the incredible bad luck. My wife even noticed.
Thankfully Berserker AI has them go after the nearest enemy, and Muton AI will run away if they are not in cover, and throw grenades when soldiers are within 3 spaces of each other. Destroying cover with grenades and moving the soldiers apart helps break up the groups. The Templar can “tank” a Beserker too, since he can melee, retaliates with melee when someone moves near him, and can shield fully against melee (partial for ranged). I took 2 points of damage over 4 rounds of combat, which is really quite nice!