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Alexander Newman
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Yay! I completed X-COM 2. I lost my specialist early in the last mission so I was unable to heal throughout, but a dominated gatekeeper and archon and sundry mimics and mind controls made it all OK. It got a bit touch-and-go towards the end, but it was fine. My sense that I needed loads of intel at the end wasn't right: the whole thing cost me about 130. I guess I was just fed up first time around.

Now I'm playing LW2 and after a couple of false starts while I got the hang of the infiltration mechanic, I'm liking it a lot. It's totally changed how I'm playing: before concealment lasted a turn or two until I ran into a squad that I ambushed and then carried on. Yesterday I managed an excellent mission with only six rookies staying concealed until they stole three mission stuff. I also like that it often takes more than one shot for a rookie to be killed by a trooper at the start, which opens up a load more tactical gameplay; that and having plenty of flashbangs: disorientation FTW.

It's still pretty desperate at the start: I have no supplies and precious little intel and yet to build any facilities, but I'm clearing the room below my first empty space to put a workshop in there and hoping that works out in the long run (if I survive). My HQ was in Eastern Asia, so my first contact was Indonesia and my next will be Australia because IIRC that continent bonus will pay dividends if I get it before I can even build armour.

The new character classes will take some getting used to, and I badly want to build the GTS so I can train rookies, but I'll get there. With the increased value of stealth, I'm thinking that small squads of Shinobi and Specialists are going to be essential.

I caved and got the DLC pack, so there's dudes in hot pants running around, but I don't intend to start any of the DLC story missions until I have some upgrades, because I really don't like being frustrated.

Still haven't figured out what the Character Pool is useful for, unless it preserves the stats, in which case I might pool some of the people with support high aim or hack.

X-COM 2 (vanilla)

OMG flashbangs are useful. Stopping an archon from doing terrible things or a codex repositioning is fantastic.

I have a baller colonel sniper now, some serious rangers and an generally striking fear into alien organs. Plasma lance and fusion blades FTW.

The pacing is a bit peculiar. The Avatar tracker can be kept manageable by keeping black sites ready to use as necessary, so it seems like it's going to be possible to build a strong global resistance without much real pressure. I'm still sitting on a load of Intel because I got burned last time and that memory is fresh. It may be unrealistic, but I'd rather have plenty. Hacking towers and MECs and skulljacking seems a good way to gain.

In the meantime, I think I'm just going to build the resistance up more. Now I've got armour and everyone's got another slot, it might be time to make some more vests, too. When I get some more engineers.

A couple more missions that went well. I didn't start an Iron Man game, but I haven't reloaded and have just lived with my dumb mistakes, and intend to keep it going. It helps that I haven't lost anyone yet, but taken some grave wounds.

I'm a lot more grenade happy, and quite a lot smarter about destroying cover and thus killing at a distance. The grenade thing is neat, because I hated using them in X-COM, and really don't mind using them in 2. I've been a bit close to the timer, but not desperate yet.

The geoscape is a bit stressful, because there seems to be a zillion things to do NOW NOW NOW, and that Avatar tracker, and the base to build, and research to do, and, and, and... phew. The missions are relatively relaxing.


I played this right up until a late (I assume) mission that seemed to be close to the final one, where suddenly, with no warning, one of your resources massively affected gameplay, and was so annoyed I stopped. It seemed to me to be a complete blindside move and just a bad choice to increase replay. I'm annoyed enough still (this was months ago!) that I think I'll start again. The timing may be weird though: not sure.

Hoard Intel.

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I often think online petitions are useless, but there is - and should be - a large upswell of anger at extending the invitation of a state visit to the American President. He's a racist, misogynist bigot, who believes torture is defensible and works. You've heard me rail against him before, but I don't think this is hyperbole: the steps he has taken in just over a week are exactly what the Nazis did in 1930s Germany, just faster.

The question, then, is not 'what would you have done?' but 'what are you doing now?' The petition linked below is a start, but is far from the only thing I'm doing.

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8 years ago, when I worked at Google, we had the pleasure of having Slavoj Zizek come talk (it's on YouTube). Google has an informal internal motto that has become famous "don't be evil" (the public mission statement is about bringing the world's information to the world), and I asked the philosopher about it.

Since then it has become clearer to me that the warning presupposes the potential, and implies it. While Google is comprised of good people, my friends and former colleagues, the organisation has the ability to do great evil. While I don't think any Googler would do evil voluntarily, I'm biased and the organisation obeys the law. It has resisted illegal actions by governments to its financial cost, but has not resisted legal ones beyond lobbying.

Now, the peril of big data, the potential for evil, has been realised, and the world will suffer the consequences. Whether it's Facebook, Google, or Apple is irrelevant. Your data exists, and it can and will be used. Electioneers have no scruples. Engineers are powerless, partly because we didn't think anyone could be that terrible, even while we were warning ourselves accidentally being terrible.

I was unaware there is a Mass Effect total conversion for Stellaris. This may not be a bad thing as the need for diversion increases this week.

Dear lazyweb, I want to print mailing labels from a subset of the contacts on my Android smartphone. How do I do that?

I have my phone, a networked printer, a networked windows box, a networked Apple box, and I won't install MSOffice ever again.

Thinking about bases and the teleport ability means that it's possible to create a destination for others and return to it when they visit. That would be rare, of course, but it's possible. Of course, I'm in the Hilbert Dimension, which makes visitors even less likely. Bah.

I've dismantled my base and put some hydroponics bays on my freighter until I find a base that is: on a nice planet, is next to caves and is next to an ocean with Rigogen (which I still haven't found yet but haven't been playing today). My farmer is being as willfully obstructive (buggy) as ever. He keeps insisting I plant gravitino ball plants, while standing next to gravitino ball plants I have planted.

When it comes to siting the base, the view is more important than the other two, but they have to be present, and it may take some looking.

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Fixed the bug by deleting the farmer's specialist terminal and moving it to my freighter (I got a new cooler one that cost me about 13m, ouch!) so I can progress again.

The mineral I need, rigogen, turns out to come from plants under water. I should have checked Reddit sooner:
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