This is a dedicated effort on my part to beat this game on Impossible Ironman mode. There are some great tips out there on the web on how to go about combat and base management that I will be referring to and attempt to implement as XCOM funding allows. I pick Asia as my base location: the Continent Bonus is Future Combat (all projects in the Foundry and the Officer Training School cost 50% less).
The first mission is a fixed event Alien Abduction scenario in Mumbai, India with the following boilerplate mission objectives: sweep the abduction site and identify threats, and neutralize all hostile targets. It is a big map on a city street and in this iteration it appears most of the aliens (all Sectoids) are located initially inside the building. I try to be meticulous as I sweep the squad around the edges of the map, and that approach pays off at first.
The Sectoids were great at destroying cover. I was unaware (probably due to the laziness developed in playing the game so much on easy mode) that brick walls (and perhaps all walls) that are on fire eventually explode (similar to a vehicle on fire), and while not harming a Soldier standing next to it, the blast eliminates the cover and allows the aliens a free shot (usually a kill shot) on my unit suddenly without cover (this cost me one Soldier).
Another Soldier was lost when I decided to trade her life for grenade damage on some Mind Merged Sectoids. In immediate retrospect this was a horrible decision to trade a Soldier who had a kill already (and would have been promoted had she survived the mission) for blast damage. It was a completely asinine decision on my part which left me shorthanded, further putting the remaining units at risk.
Towards the end of the mission I started to get a sense of baiting the aliens back to my position by revealing a unit on a move then hunkering down in full cover or running back to another unit in Overwatch. Unfortunately I lost a third Soldier when I had the remaining two one tile away from a Sectoid but both Soldiers only had a 54% chance on the hit (and both missed). The alien killed one Soldier and on my turn I was finally able to put it down to complete the mission.
After the mission was over and the Skyranger made it back to base, the lone survivor Tiffany Rodgers is promoted from Rookie to Squaddie and automatically assigned the Heavy Class with the first Ability of Fire Rocket (fire a rocket using an equipped launcher. This ability cannot be used after moving, or more than once per mission). She is wounded and will be out for four days.
Based on the suggestions on the Wiki site, I order the Research Department to begin with Weapon Fragments (normal, eight days). These fragments are all that remain of the powerful alien weaponry we've encountered so far. Further study could lead to advances in our own weapons development programs. The Engineering Department is ordered to begin excavating a cave to the right of the Access Lift on level one of the Ant Farm, and I order one Medikit to be manufactured.
The next scenario is another fixed event Alien Abduction scenario, and I go with Port Elizabeth South Africa as the potential reward is four Engineers. My crew is still all inexperienced Rookies, although one of them is carrying the Medikit that I just had ordered. I try to tactically maneuver the squad along the edge of the map; however the first alien reveal is enough to force me to abort the mission, which I did with Soldiers outside of the evacuation zone, causing me to lose everyone on the mission.
This causes South Africa, Brazil and Australia to go full red on Panic and it is only day four of game time in the first month.
At this point I order the Engineering Department to begin construction of a Satellite and go to the Barracks to hire two additional Soldiers to stopgap my losses.
I receive notification from the Research Department that the Weapons Fragments project is complete, which unlocks the S.C.O.P.E. item to be manufactured. I order Alien Materials as the next project to be started on.
The next event is a UFO Contact, designated UFO-1: a small unidentified class alien ship over Japan. A Raven Interceptor armed with Avalanche Missiles is launched that splashed the bogey, and the Skyranger is launched to investigate.
This is the first UFO Crash Site scenario, so the objectives are slightly different: locate the crashed UFO, sweep the area for surviving crew and neutralize them and avoid additional damage to the craft if possible, some components may be recoverable.
This is another abysmal failure in my tactical abilities however this time I manage to abort the mission and save two Soldiers from dying, which at least saves me the financial cost of replacing them. Panic played a huge role in this mission, causing me to lose an entire turn.
I cannot afford to continue with these types of combat losses and have any hope of making it out of the first month, let alone be setup to be successful in the second month.