Rob seems like a experienced enough strategy game player that he could probably do well at X-Com ironman mode if he looked at some videos of skilled players playing ironman at the highest difficulty. Mostly it’s about going slowly into the fog of war, and always, always, always asking yourself “what am I going to do if I lose the dice roll”, even if it’s a 95% certainty.
But I do really have a problem with the difficulty curve too. The first third of my ironman run on normal difficulty felt extremely difficult, but the second third started to feel really easy, and by the last third I was very annoyed at doing mission after mission where I felt no danger and just wanted to finish the game. The difficulty doesn’t seem to increase much at all as you get better at the game because your upgrades are as good or better than the alien’s upgrades.
It makes me wonder if they specifically tune the game for you losing a lot of battles early on, making you more behind the curve on money and xp. I restarted 2 or 3 times before I got an opening I was happy with, but I was probably overestimating how far in the hole I was by restarting and robbed myself of the joy of turning what seemed like an impossible position around.