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StellarRat

Ground Combat Guide For Beginners

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A very nice guide. Did you think about posting it on Steam?
I had not. I don't have much experience with the social media stuff in Steam.

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I use shotgunners with high time units. They are supreme. Run up to enemy and 1 shot kill using only 20 time units. One time I forgot to bring them on a mission and had a hell of a time raiding a UFO without shotgunners.

Yes rifles are mostly useless. They are good at nothing

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I use shotgunners with high time units. They are supreme. Run up to enemy and 1 shot kill using only 20 time units. One time I forgot to bring them on a mission and had a hell of a time raiding a UFO without shotgunners.

Yes rifles are mostly useless. They are good at nothing

If you pick troops with high reflexes and high TUs you'll have the perfect combo for shotgun troops.

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question re. Bounding Overwatch: how do you approach corners - particularly on farm maps with those impassible hedgerows?

As I understand it, the idea is that the guy at the back stays put to cover/shoot at anything revealed by the guy in front. When you come to round a corner, though, the guy behind won't have LOS to any aliens revealed when you do so. How do you position your guys to get round this?

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Corners are a problem in real life too. It's even harder in Xenonauts since our troops don't have necks. :P The solution I use is to send a high reflex troop with a shotgun or pistol / shield to take a quick peek around the corner and see if there is anyone around. The aliens are very unlikely to be able to reaction fire at someone with high reflexes and the weapon multiplying their reflex score by 1.5 on top of that. If it's clear then you can swing the rest of squad around to face the new angle (hopefully from covered positions.) If it's not you can duck back around the corner and decide what you want to do OR you might decide to have the scout try to kill whatever they spotted. If it's close and he/she has a shotgun there's a good chance you can just run up and gun it down immediately. Another approach is to swing the back of the squad around first, keeping the rear troops far enough from the action that the aliens won't see them. After that lead guy can look around the corner and the snipers/LMG in the back can still engage.

The bounding overwatch example I used in the guide breaks down a little in tight terrain. Although you should always figure out a way to cover your lead troops sometimes you'll have to bunch up to take advantage of cover or maybe you can't maintain a V, etc... On city maps it gets even harder. It takes a patience to reposition everyone. The lead troops may have to sit in one place for two or more turns while you rearrange the back of the squad. If you get impatient and forego covering fire you'll get nailed every once in a while. I can just about guarantee that. Once you've established a direction of travel changing it will take extra time and the bigger the unit is the harder it gets. Full armies are like super tankers, everything is great as long as you don't have to turn. :D

Edited by StellarRat

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Is the link for this PDF dead for everyone else? I get a 403 error...
It's working for me from my work. Might have been a temporary problem. Do you have a PDF reader installed on your machine?

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It's working for me from my work. Might have been a temporary problem. Do you have a PDF reader installed on your machine?

Huh, must have been a transient problem on DropBox's side. I tried several times this morning, and now it suddenly works. Looks like a false alarm.

Nice job on that from what I'm seeing so far! I'll read it a bit later when time frees up here at work. ;)

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I usually deal with corners using a scout car. They have incredibly good movement and most reaction fire from aliens will be of the single shot variety, unlikely to take the thing out. If your troops are close behind, you can have them follow up for the kill, since the alien will have expended his overwatch.

I divide and conquer with my team, despite only having 6 troops and the scout car. I make 2 teams of 3, who explore different sections of the map. The scout car can assist either team, and can be quickly repositioned if either team gets mired in a tough situation. I always take the rocket launcher car, as it is so immensely useful. It is so much more effective than a rocket launching soldier could ever be, being able to snap fire two rockets per turn if needed. Insane mobility and relatively immense durability.. this thing is practically a third fire team. As the two fire teams typically advance along the perimeters of the map, the scout car can handle the mid-field in the awkward first few turns where the fire teams haven't claimed the first two map corners yet (the two corners nearest the dropship). Disembarking from the dropship on turn 1 becomes relatively painless, as the scout car can roll out, put eyes on the surroundings, and allow the troops to better plan their approaches.

On to the troops...

Each fire team consists of (early game) three troop types.

Each team has one "breacher," which is my term for a guy with pistol and shield, grenades, stun rod and med kit. He is the point man of each fire team, and is the guy who pushes back the fog of war (if the car isn't around). This honorable position is typically occupied by a lower ranking soldier, since he isn't really called upon to make crucial shots and will receive more fire than the other two members of the team. It is absolutely still vital to advance cautiously and not rely on the shield.. the shield needs to be saved for the UFO breach if at all possible. A nice benefit of the pistol is that it is a good training weapon... easy to perform reaction fire with and doesn't cost many TUs to take pot shots. If I recall shots don't need to connect to grant ACC exp. I've also had plenty of times where a point-blank pistol shot finished off a wounded alien inside a UFO.

Next comes our heavy, who carries the LMG with one reload. Since this is an early game guide, I'm going to assume we're only talking about up to medium sized UFOs. Running with two heavies, one on each team, I have NEVER run out of ammo when taking a single backup reload for each. A med kit and a couple grenades rounds out this guy nicely. I find the key to using heavies is putting them in full concealment rather than crouched behind cover. I try to position them in spaces which are one step away from good firing lines. They can usually walk one step and then fire, but you need to anticipate which directions. This will always be somewhere further back then our fearless breacher. I never attempt to use the LMG as an overwatch tool, it's simply too dangerous, so I will sometimes intentionally burn TUs if it might be a problem. Use those TUs to get into a better position. A heavy that can't use his gun should always have a grenade of some type to toss, especially considering how inflexible heavy weapons can be.

Finally each has a Team Leader. This is typically a higher ranked officer, carrying a sniper rifle with a shotgun in his backpack and the best armor available. The sniper rifle means he can help teams advance across open ground, while the shotgun comes out if there are reapers around or when the team needs to pass through more cramped terrain. An added benefit of the shotgun is that it can be easily tossed to a breacher whose shield has been destroyed. As always, a couple grenades and a medkit round them out nicely.

Early game, I find strength to be a key stat, as it allows you to load the troops down with enough gear to be really useful to the team. Just don't recruit anyone with insanely low bravery and you should be fine. Most of my kills don't rely on immense accuracy, whether it be grenade kills/gassing by my breachers or burst fire from the heavies. The accuracy dependent sniper rifle is typically in the hands of a capable soldier who can aim a shot for 95 percent to hit a good portion of the time.

Edited by JonVanCaneghem

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I divide and conquer with my team, despite only having 6 troops and the scout car.

This is an absolutely terrible idea, and you've misunderstood that saying completely - divide and conquer refers to separating the enemy forces from each other so you can more easily defeat them a few at a time, or in other words what you are intentionally doing to yourself.

You may be able to get away with it on lower difficulties, but it's still a bad idea. The more troops you have in a group close to and supporting each other, the more firepower you have available to instantly kill any aliens you spot, and (especially relevant on the low difficulty you must be playing on since it's much more likely to kill aliens) the more you have for reaction fire.

The rest is either very obvious or personal preference that doesn't really matter that much (like the loadouts). Snipers being good at long range etc is something that's gonna be completely obvious even to new players - the hard part is how to move them around on the field.

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This is an absolutely terrible idea, and you've misunderstood that saying completely - divide and conquer refers to separating the enemy forces from each other so you can more easily defeat them a few at a time, or in other words what you are intentionally doing to yourself.

You may be able to get away with it on lower difficulties, but it's still a bad idea. The more troops you have in a group close to and supporting each other, the more firepower you have available to instantly kill any aliens you spot, and (especially relevant on the low difficulty you must be playing on since it's much more likely to kill aliens) the more you have for reaction fire.

The rest is either very obvious or personal preference that doesn't really matter that much (like the loadouts). Snipers being good at long range etc is something that's gonna be completely obvious even to new players - the hard part is how to move them around on the field.

I've been playing on Veteran difficulty, and having no problems so far. I do not save-scum either, and troop losses have become very infrequent. Teams of 3 have been working fine, especially with the force multiplier that is the scout car. I eventually plan to play the hardest mode, and perhaps that will change my perspective... I'm also not totally inflexible and will be willing to adapt as mission areas get larger. I'm looking forward to adding a new role to each team once I get a new dropship, probably a rifle/shotgun guy.

In general terms, it's all about attack vectors. If you create one big clump or wedge of 8 men, you are begging to be flanked. Relying on reaction fire is exceptionally dangerous in my experience, because it's entirely possible you miss and the alien gets free shots, something to avoid at all costs. Cover and crouching is an okay way to prevent lots of hits, but concealment virtually guarantees you won't get shot at. By concealment, I mean the types of terrain that block line of sight (walls and other large obstacles). The weakness of concealment is an enemy approaching from the side, which is all but guaranteed to happen if you move in one big group (presumably all moving the same direction). So the way to be safe in concealment is to clear the terrain to your flanks, since aliens do tend to roam the map.

Each team goes to claim the corners, which allows them to then move in the same direction on the map. Typically, one team will meet with more resistance, and 99 percent of the time, this means they are headed toward the UFO. This team's progress will be slower, but that's fine. The other team is likely going to be covering more ground and meeting less resistance, clearing away a lot more fog and removing uncertainty about the flank of the other team. The scout typically fills in the gap between teams, and remains in position to assist either team, effectively meaning that either squad can instantly jump from a 3 to a 5 in terms of threat level. It also can move to destroy annoying enemy cover, preventing the teams from getting bogged down. Primarily though, its job is to spot aliens. Those headlights are wonderful to have on night missions too.

To simplify:

Phase 1 - Take the corners

Both teams advance along the starting map edge with their one flank covered by the scout. These are the "easy corners" since usually the UFO will be on the other end of the map. Once you've hit those corners, you now have teams who only need to move in one direction, and will very infrequently take contact from the sides.

Phase 2 - Push the front

Advance both teams cautiously, putting them in points of concealment, not just cover. Never be spotted by an alien, always do the spotting yourself. Try to keep a rough line of frontage, so that no team advances too far ahead and gets flanked.

Phase 3 - Take the other corners

There will likely be one major pocket of resistance as well as a few scattered aliens on the rest of the map. Once the last two corners are cleared, you can then safely approach the UFO using the sides of the ship as full concealment. Scout car can gobble up any remaining fog of war that concerns you, though you eventually get a feel for where aliens tend to hang out. It can also watch for aliens making sallying efforts, though the idea is not to watch the door straight on, but at an angle. You just want to know if aliens are staying outside or going back in. Typically one or two aliens might try to make attempts to push out of the UFO, but the majority will remain inside.

Phase 4 - Take the ship

At this point the teams re-unite and breach as normal. I find that rarely are any aliens at the other end of the map to the sides of the UFO itself, which is really kind of silly of the aliens. It leaves a perfect way to approach the entrance without being observed by those aliens who keep popping the door open looking to take pot shots and re-close the door.

Divide and conquer does apply to this strategy, as you divide the enemy's attention. I don't know too much about the AI yet, but it appears that once xenonauts are spotted by one alien, others will move in to support. Since the enemy is taking contact in two or three places on the map, you don't have a situation in which all aliens are making a bee-line to your one squad (from multiple angles). By using this method, your forces only have one "front" with which to contend, and so the majority of contact will be taken from more expected angles. This allows teams to utilize points of concealment effectively, and prevent enemies from getting to fire at you on their turns. In fact, I tend to advance my teams fairly tightly to make best use of concealment. You never do this if the team has been spotted, as the last thing you want is burst fire suppressing all of them at once or a grenade taking them all down.

The only potential threat (so far) is the reaper rush, though they've never actually succeeded in killing one of my men. They will typically hilariously approach my scout car, only to look utterly confused by being unable to reproduce with it. Then I simply set up a charge for the reaper that's too far away for it to move and then attack. On the following turn, I get to choose how it dies (unless it gets pistol/shotgunned to death on approach first). I do take reapers into mind now when I spot sebilians, and it usually means taking maps more slowly and leaving more distance between troopers and the unknown.

Edited by JonVanCaneghem

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It is unlikely that a player will have a scout car before the first mission is available hence the reason I only mentioned vehicles in passing. My own opinion is that dividing your troops in half is never a good idea in Xenonauts unless the two groups are close enough to provide mutual fire support. Also, if you take a vehicle in the Chinook you can only take six infantry. That doesn't seem like an adequate number to build two separate fire teams (three each). You really need four and even then you'll probably have to give up a special weapon in each team. Whereas with one large team you can have a sniper, rocketeer and LMG and still have a five men assault and scouting force. A cautious advance should prevent you from getting flanked in most situations. My line of advance is usually dictated by the available cover not the map edges.

Edited by StellarRat

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Hi I appreciate the beginners guide but the terminology does not match. Took me a while to realize that LMG is actually Heavy Machine Gun as there is no weapon that says Light Machine Gun.

I imagine HE is something that comes later in the game so bad for a beginners guide so I took that meaning right now fragment grenades. The difference in terminology really made it confusing some. Otherwise I found it useful thanks.

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Hi I appreciate the beginners guide but the terminology does not match. Took me a while to realize that LMG is actually Heavy Machine Gun as there is no weapon that says Light Machine Gun.

I imagine HE is something that comes later in the game so bad for a beginners guide so I took that meaning right now fragment grenades. The difference in terminology really made it confusing some. Otherwise I found it useful thanks.

I put out a new version today that clarifies the naming problems you noted. Thank you for your input.

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how does one shield btw? my shield carriers usually have a reserved bed in the medbay and a discount on coffins if you catch my drift...

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how does one shield btw? my shield carriers usually have a reserved bed in the medbay and a discount on coffins if you catch my drift...
It needs to be in one of the weapon slots (the soldiers left hand is where I put it.) You can't put in the backpack. To use it effectively the soldier must be crouched and facing the enemy weapon. If you're lucky it will stop 1-2 shots from most alien weapons. The soldier has to carry it the whole time or put it on the ground if he needs both hands free. I don't use shield bearers myself. I think with good planning, proper use of suppression (by MG fire or flash bangs) and shotguns you can take any small ship without them. However, I'm sure there are some that would disagree with my tactics. Edited by StellarRat

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yeah, i figured it out in the end xD although ill have to agree with you stellarRat, I also dont realy use shields much now, only 1 per squad as mobile cover for no cover angles before ending the turn or as the 1st guy into a ufo

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Introduction/TL;DR version: Ceasan Leaders murder!! So, a tutorial specifically on dealing with Ceasan cruisers and up is in order, I do believe.

To start the technicals, I've found that the leaders on Ceasan cruisers and up will reliably induce friendly fire every other turn either via hallucination (which leads to zerky-berks) or mind control. I discovered there was a medal for dropping the leader while it was doing the mind control thing, and recently, had a somewhat normal zerky-berks go really horribly wrong: buddy had a damaged hedge between her and her chosen zerky-berks target, which was particularly berzerky: two wraiths beamed in right in front of her face, and there were two Predator kit friendlies to her left on the other side of the hedge row (*real* hedge row, not strange square black hole just in front of it teleported into oblivion by the cruiser's submap.) And there was a crap-tonne of heavy smoke between her and these two Predators. And *after* these two wraiths beam in, she gets hallucinated, selects the more distant Predator when she zerky-berks, and drops him with two hits out of three shots from her Mag Pistol at extended range (i.e. just over 10 tiles) through heavy smoke. I rage quit for the night and will try the mission again from the start shortly.

Rule 1:

I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

When in doubt, just airstrike it. I'm not going to do this for Blue Crimson because I don't want to bless those characters with too much leading knowledge (that would be bad fiction, IMHO - if I lose a dropship in the process, so be it), but generally, yeah. Airstrike is the safest option. Load up with extra stink bombs, shock bombs, and cattle prods and go after a Sebillian Leader instead.

Rule 2: Make sure your armor is ahead of your weapons. Ceasans are weak, so you can go back to lasers or even ballistics and still fare well if your packing hull-grade assault shields and Predator/Sentinel armour (beware Sentinel's 360deg view causing ppl to berzerk on friendlies behind them.) I didn't do this in the above epic fail, but I didn't expect the

to work on Predator armour, even with a Mag pistol (well, I sorta followed the rule - the pistol was the only Mag weapon on the field; the four Predators on this mission had two plasmas and two lasers.)

Rule 3: Put hard cover between your troops whenever possible before the end of a turn where you're expecting a psionic attack. I've noticed that troops that can't even see a target will not shoot when they berzerk. (It also wastes TU in mind control scenarios making it less likely the alien will find another friendly with enough TU left to make the kill.) To do this, you need to plan your turns judiciously, and play quite possibly quite a bit looser than usual in the early breakout phase, preferring to expose your troops to the enemy rather than each other in some cases.

Rule 4: Use smoke. Use walls, hedgerows, buildings, etc. to separate Preds and Sents between turns, and have the Predators carry and shake off grenades for your Sents (or whatever else might be) to use. Unfortunately, after a psionic attack occurs, the action induced by the enemy happens on *your* turn, after something like half to two-thirds of the smoke has dissipated, so it is not very reliable.

Rule 5: Use shields. About the only safe way to have assault troops near each other is to have them face each other with shields prior to the end of a turn. This was the idea for breaking into the craft in the example scenario, except that the second assault trooper hadn't caught up yet: Assault trooper far ahead cracks open the main door so one of the Predators could hail the central room (it's the version with the reactors in the wings, yay!) The other (more distant) Pred was going to take the starboard wing. They're going on security patrols for the next attempt...

Rule 6: If you're desperate (i.e. two 90%+ shots miss in a row), suppress or stun friendlies that might otherwise die or kill their friends. It sure beats losing them, and it's not as bad if they panic or flee instead of zerkyberks or alien control. (I'm saying this despite the fact that nearly every time my troops break and "flee" it is almost always towards aliens!)

Rule 7: If you can spare them, waste the next turn's TUs. Drop the weapon and pull out a medkit. You can also unload the weapon by right clicking on it. Dropping the weapon is enough to protect against simple zerky-berks, but an alien doing mind control is smart enough to pick it up, walk a few tiles, and take the shot. Rule 3 is more important, however: I've noticed the alien is not particularly good at finding friendlies if it can't already see them.

Rule 8: Learn the cadence. I saved this one for last because ppl tend to forget more stuff in the middle of a lecture than at the beginning and end (does your prof know this???) The Ceasan Leader can only do a psionic attack every *other* turn, not every turn, giving you a handy breather between attack turns where you can advance without having to protect your troops from each other. (I'm not 100% certain, so please point out if I'm wrong!) Pay attention to failed psionic attacks, especially late in the mission after morale has built up.

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As a newcomer to the game, have so far found much of the advice in the titular guide harmful:

in particular following sections:

1) Reaction fire - useless for several months. Your soldier's accuracy is awful, chances of reaction shots even hitting the targets are low. More importantly, your weapons are much too weak to impede your enemies. Even in ideal circumstances of having as many as 5 of your soldiers facing the right way to r.fire on a single enemy, the chances of them doing anything to prevent that enemy killing one of them are extremely slim. Rule of thumb is, if your soldiers are in position to reaction fire on enemy, they are likely in position to be fired on first. Even in moderate cover, there is a pretty big chance for aliens to one-shot a xenonaut. So relying on reaction fire is just a recipe for high losses. I am playing on impossible and so far, aliens firing on a unit with 50% cover, have about 1/3 chance of killing it, 1/3 chance of wounding it. Basically giving aliens a very high chance at killing one of yours, in exchange for very low chance to kill them back. So if your soldiers are using reaction fire, that's a sign that you just gambled them on a 50/50 coin toss.

2) Positioning and formations used in the guide - that "perfect" V formation in second screen shot is example of what one should never do. Soldiers are too close together - one burst at any one of them is likely to suppress 2 to 4 other soldiers nearby as well. A drone showing up from expected direction and firing at forward soldier has a decent chance of suppressing all 8 if it fires from far enough for the burst fire to spread. Aliens coming around corners of barn or the hedge to the right will be firing at soldiers in the open, high probability of killing the target and suppressing nearby soldiers. Alien snipers see at very long range and will pick targets not in cover - one firing at this formation from any of the 3 directions will have plenty of choices of soldiers without cover to kill.

In that picture, if there is a single alien around any corner of the barn, this 'formation' is likely to have 1 less soldier next turn, and high probability of half the survivors being suppressed and useless in trying to respond.

Overall the strategy described - inching forward like that and hoping reaction fire saves the team is going to get lots of soldiers killed, mostly due to mechanics I pointed out in section 1.

Alternate general tactic: have 3 'find and suppress' pairs of shield bearer and machine gunner, 2 snipers.

Pairs spread out from deployment point in 3 directions, Everyone moves from cover to cover, machine gunners stay at least 8 tiles 'behind' shield bearers. (that way they don't get suppressed along with shield bearer when contact is made). On contact, shield bearer will either take fire on alien's turn, or if player was patient discover alien during player's turn. In both cases, at least one machine gunner is in position to suppress and pin while snipers move into position. Depending on map, one of the other pairs may have gunner in position to fire from a flanking point. Shield bearer, assuming he was in cover when contact was made, should have a decent chance at living through first turn, and have an opportunity to retreat to dropship for a new shield if hit.

Key to remember - machine gunners have very long range. Longer then sight range in open daylight - their positioning should be approached with same consideration as snipers. Keep them very far back, unless dealing with an already suppressed enemy.

3) Breach of UFO, picture 3 - positioning before breach: one word suicidal. Also see - "how to lose a mission" Try that in the game, doors open, alien shoots at either shield-bearer from point blank range for a very likely kill shot with either shotgun or rifle burst. Rest of the aliens deeper in the UFO have direct line of sight at the 2 soldiers crouching out of cover directly in front of door. That small distance will not mitigate hit chances at all. Expected casualties when 'End Turn' pressed is at least 3 - get ready to start next turn with 5 panicking soldiers, half of whom will drop their weapons and spread out.

Proper positioning in that case would be one soldier with heavy machine gun standing one tile behind rail cart. 2 more soldiers with precise weapons (one preferably a missile launcher) standing to the sides of the doorway inside the warehouse, on each side of the UFO 2 'door openers' standing with 1 behind the green boxes and the other behind blue wagon. Spares can be deeper in warehouse, or behind the red wagon. That way, none of them are likely to die simply because aliens opened UFO door. On next turn, door openers even if newbies, should have enough TU to run up and open door from the side and then retreat out of the way, giving warehouse and those behind wagon LOS to suppress aliens inside, either starting with a rocket strike or machine gun burst to suppress. Machine gunners unless extremely slow/overburdened will have enough TU to take one step out of wagon/door cover, fire and step back into 100% cover. Extras behind the red wagon can throw grenades to either smoke, suppress or wound, right into the doorway. Sequence of who fires when can then depend on what is inside and precisely where.

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Well, I only lost one soldier on the mission that the graphics came from and that was because I was trying to create a manual and not paying strict attention to everything I normally would. So, I don't know what to say about your comments. I rarely lose more than one soldier per mission and a lot of the time I don't lose any.

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I agree with him on a lot of these points though. You're surely gonna have a really bad time positioning your troops out of cover like that, and relying on reaction fire. On Insane difficulty, you don't even want to take cover. If you're seen by aliens without smoke then you're pretty much dead. Your only hope of surviving is staying out of alien LOS, even if it means clustering up your troops (of course, the risk of being grenaded is real - but that depends on some other situational conditions too.)

Though since this is meant to be for beginners, I can still see a lot of its merits on lower difficulties.

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I agree with him on a lot of these points though. You're surely gonna have a really bad time positioning your troops out of cover like that, and relying on reaction fire. On Insane difficulty, you don't even want to take cover. If you're seen by aliens without smoke then you're pretty much dead. Your only hope of surviving is staying out of alien LOS, even if it means clustering up your troops (of course, the risk of being grenaded is real - but that depends on some other situational conditions too.)

Though since this is meant to be for beginners, I can still see a lot of its merits on lower difficulties.

Well, I do note that it's OK to bunch up if you have good cover like behind building. Also, the V formation was supposed to show you a way to move across open areas. That really wasn't as open as I wanted, but I had to have a map to play on to do the screenshots, so I made do with the one that came up. You are right that I wrote this for beginners doing the first couple recoveries on a light scout. I assumed a beginner would probably play on veteran level or less. It was never intended to cover anything beyond that. Once the maps get harder I usually rely on vehicles to do my scouting so the need to move across unexplored open ground with troops is greatly reduced and I can adopt a much more cover to cover approach for movement. My approach and choice of weapons is completely different for terror missions than it is for a recovery map just as an example.

I would like to see how other people play sometime though. The way I've learned how seems to work for me, but I'm sure there are other ways that would surprise me if I saw them in action.

Edited by StellarRat

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I may have come off insulting rather than just critiquing - didn't mean to. Though I did specify the higher difficulty level to which my advice mainly applied to.

Overall though, even for lower difficulties one should strive for tactics that don't get you shot as often - even if those shots are only resulting in wounded, rather than lost soldiers. "Beginner" tactics which work on low but are a complete 'no-no' on next difficulty level tend to lead to players who are new to the genre, who try higher difficulty and get completely curb-stomped by having all their "tricks" now result in mass casualties - which tends to lead to an incorrect impression that something is wrong with the game as a whole.

In my opinion, that's would partially true - reaction fire right now is a harsh dose of 'reality' to players. As a game mechanic it's rather unfair though because it is generally useless to players, and only useful to aliens. Also, there is this whole "trap" factor where the game's combat UI is basically suggesting that the player should rely on it - I mean even extra buttons are provided to save TU for it. When actually doing so is a waste of TU and it stays that way until you are half way into the game and have armor that can take a hit, weapons whose shots actually make a difference even if only 1 or 2 hits.

I wish they had at least implemented a 'build up' of reaction, so that if a heavy gunner is left to sit in one spot for several turns, he would semi reliably fire first when aliens show up in his field of vision - that way reaction fire would at least be marginally useful at start of the game because a heavily entrenched xenonaut could at least semi-reliably suppress an enemy during enemy's turn.

Also

In addition to general tactic I described above, I found it very useful to equip my 2 snipers with a rocket launcher and 2-3 missiles rather than having dedicated Rocket Launcher. Why:

1)Regardless of role, all of your soldiers will be gaining strength equally, unless you did something silly like under-equip them and letting them run around without being on verge of overburdened (silly because there absolutely no benefit to ever doing that)

So your snipers will be getting strength as you use them, but they have nothing to meaningfully use it on - they need to be mobile and have good field of view, heavy armor isn't something they will be using, and they shouldn't need it either unless you really screw up positioning in battle. All other roles have plenty of other things to carry that are needed - shields/heavy ammo packs/good variety of grenades... snipers don't need any of that. So they are ideally suited for carrying rocket launcher and its ammo.

2) Rocket launcher is long distance weapon and exact same consideration of positioning that applies to sniper, applies to rocket launcher. From defensive point - Rocket launcher is a weapon that requires high TU costs, making the soldier using it less likely to be able to get out of a bad position into a safe spot if he needs to fire or reload on that same turn, so it should be wielded by people in safe zones. From offensive - it's a relatively precise and long range weapon tactical weapon that needs it's viewer to have good overview of the field of battle. Rockets are frequently decisive, especially in early game - for example if you find an alien sentry bot, 1 sniper cannot hope to take it out - even 2 hits from sniper won't kill it. Same sniper can drop rifle, get rocket launcher out of back pack and fire in one turn - at least a small chance of removing threat in that turn.

Basically every sniper now turns into an effective suppressor/'quick killer'. When stun weapons are research, stun gas rockets also allow for effective area control if you need to cut off an enemy's approach route - and snipers are most likely to be in position to overwatch most approaches/unexplored directions.

Note: the game currently provides you a cheat with weapons stored in backpack - particularly rocket launchers which seem to magically reload with ammo out of nowhere after spending a few turns empty in anyone's backpack, so to those using it I suggest manually keeping track of the rockets your brought to battle and how many were used - I think Rocket Launcher is pretty well balanced when weight and size of ammo, loot destruction are taken into consideration, but with this ammo bug it quickly becomes an exploit for easy mode, particularly in combo with stun rockets. It becomes ridiculously easy to just safely gas half the map from long range with a team of rocketeers, still get most of the loot, and than blow up the other half with endless 'default' explosive rockets that keep magically appear inside backpacked empty rocket launchers.

Edited by apopov
poorly phrased

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Seriously? Maybe I haven't noticed but I've never thought soldiers could carry both a sniper rifle AND a rocket launcher without having 100STR. The Rocket Launcher can't be THAT lightweight ...

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