This man-portable total destruction device is the heaviest weapon alien artifact you'll discover. It fires the football-shaped Blaster Bomb which can hover and route through up to nine programmable waypoints before detonating on impact with a small explosion. 'Small' being a relative term for battlefield nuclear weapons. A safety radius of 10-20 meters is a good guideline. Blaster Bombs are outside toys, and can generally be relied upon to kill anything unlucky enough to be hit by them (and anything nearby). Although the weapon can only fire one shot before requiring a reload, one shot is usually enough.
Blaster Launchers will only be encountered during Battleship, Alien Base, and X-Com Base missions. Late game, you are guaranteed to face several of these things every battleship or Base mission.
Blaster Launchers are usually carried by Commanders, Leaders and Engineers. In the case of Mutons, Commanders and Leaders that have been demoted to soldier will retain their Blaster Launchers.
BB explosions have an 11 tile radius. A soldier on the 11th tile can still be killed as BB's do average 90 points damage at the edge of the explosion.
Note: Though the UFOpaedia states that the blaster launcher costs 80% of your TUs to fire, this is in fact incorrect. It only costs 66% to use the launch command. The 80% only applies to the blaster launcher's 'aimed shot', which is disabled when the 'launch' command is enabled. The launch command is a completely different firing mode entirely.
- Use left clicks to set up to 9 waypoints. Two are the minimum to avoid a bug concerning dud shells. To guarantee detonation, the last two waypoints should guide the bomb towards something solid such as a wall or floor. Right clicks will unset the last waypoint you set.
- The Hovertank fusion ball is fired by the top-most section of the hovertank (the upper left corner when viewed via the overhead map).
- A bomb fired from within the Skyranger cannot be relied upon to cleanly exit the craft. Firing from the lip of the craft may be safe, especially if you angle your first waypoint away from the edge adjacent to the firer: if you're on the left side of the craft, angle your first waypoint to the right, and vice-versa.
- Similarly, it appears to be impossible to fire a Blaster Bomb from inside an Avenger. On the CE (Windows) version of the game modified by XcomUtil, there appears to be a pink door covering the rear of the craft that the Blaster Bomb hits every time. Curiously, units can walk through this "door" and the explosion damage from the Blaster Bomb detonating also goes through the door and will kill any unit within range on the outside of the craft.
- In the CE (Windows) version of the game, attempting to fire a Blaster Bomb along an absolutely vertical path (as opposed to on an angle) results in it flying south instead. Aliens will still set vertical waypoints however, often killing themselves as a result.
- If it somehow misses a waypoint (via the above method or drift), a bomb will restart its path from the correct waypoint if it later passes it or if it flies off the edge of the map (so long as there are two or more waypoints remaining).
- Soldiers do not need to face targets or waypoints when firing.
- Blaster Bombs can break open a single section of UFO outer hulls (see Destroying Terrain). They will carry through with enough power to detonate the nav modules on the other side of the hull, if you hit north or west sides. See Explosions: When Is a Wall not a Wall. This is not true of shells fired from the Hovertank
Aim for large, open areas first to maximize the effects of your blasts. If you want to send a shell into a UFO, first punch open the bridge, then send a shell into that section of the craft to ensure you destroy the highest ranking aliens. This will reduce both psionic attacks and enemy morale.
When using BBs for base defense, remember that it is possible to destroy your own base with them! Use waypoints to hit the rear side of your (indestructible) entry lift (this helps to avoid destroying adjacent modules), then send another through the resulting hole to nuke the lift contents. Now nuke the (also indestructible) hangars. Be careful of the effects of drift whenever firing through a narrow area.
Units can only hold so many Blaster Bombs. However, because just about any target can be hit from anywhere, there's no real need for the launcher units to move about. Hence, one tactic is to have them stand on top of a large supply of ammo, as opposed to having them carry the extra bombs with them.
Blasters are the key for the ultimate anti-Sectoid Leader/Commander tactic: Load a Skyranger with three plasma tanks, two soldiers and a blaster with a high amount of ammo, but don't equip it. Send out your tanks to flush out and kill the aliens. As soon as one of the HWPs are sighted, the Sectoids will start to mind control one of the soldiers. Send that one into a two-story building and shoot out the stairs to put him/her out of the fray. If you see multiple Sectoids or Cyberdiscs gathering around (for example, in the Abductor's examination room), blast them. After the tanks have cleared the outside, use the blaster to create an entrance into the UFO wide enough for the tanks to enter (you might want to repeat it for every floor if the lifts are small). While clearing the UFO, you might want to destroy the bridge to put the Leader/Commander out of commission.
Blaster Bombs will often veer slightly off course as they travel, regardless of your units' firing accuracy stat. If it strikes an object (such as a wall, unit, or even the floor) before reaching the next waypoint, it will explode. The waste of a perfectly good bomb aside, a misfire could result in the decimation of your own squad.
Set the bomb's path through the air if possible. There's nothing to hit up there, so even if it does drift, this won't stop it from ultimately hitting the target. Remember to avoid setting waypoints directly above or below each other if using the CE version.
Drift can result in waypoints being missed completely. For this reason, it pays to set multiple waypoints around the final target. If you can, send the bomb up in the air, then dunk the bomb back down again - even if it misses your actual target, it'll detonate when it hits the ground. Be sure, however, that it explodes on the same map level as its intended target, as explosive damage does not carry over to other levels.
Drift is particularly dangerous when firing in narrow corridors, such as those found in bases. In order to avoid this, don't allow the bombs path to cross a tile that has a wall in it. Without benefit of a diagram, the best way to explain this is to say that waypoints should be set as south-easterly as possible (as walls tend to be placed in the northern or western most tiles). Also, try to enforce 90° turns.
Try to always have your soldier exactly facing the first waypoint position (turn soldier or set 1st point accordingly), to reduce the chances of BB drift.
Because of the indirect-fire nature of the Blaster Launcher, Launcher-armed soldiers need not be on your squad's front line. Ideally, Launcher-armed units should be kept out of the line of fire to prevent them from using reaction fire, which could result in the death of several friendly units, including the unit carrying the launcher.
While the Blaster Bomb is an awesome tool in your fight against the aliens, it is still originally their weapon, and there are times when it will be used against you. Alien units will only carry them during a base defense/offense mission or if deployed on Battleships. During these missions, soldiers caught out in the open are wise to crouch (true of any situation). A BB shot directly at a crouching soldier on a level course will simply fly harmlessly over their head, (hopefully) detonating at a distance.
If an alien is carrying a blaster launcher, you can prevent it from shooting by having your soldiers move right up next to it. The AI, though generally stupid, does have some sense of self preservation and will *usually* not fire a blaster launcher at a close range target. Just remember that units further away may still be fired on. This strategy only works on aliens with blasters and grenades, and only applies to UFO and TFTD. The aliens in X-Com Apocalypse are a tad psychotic when it comes to explosives.
Finally, when facing psionic Sectoid Leaders/Commanders or Ethereals, DO NOT give a blaster launcher to a soldier susceptable to mind control or panic attacks.
Sometimes you will get into a situation where your blaster launcher cannot be loaded with a new shell. When you examine the weapon, you'll find that it's still loaded, but will have 0 rounds. In order to use the blaster again, the empty shell must be unloaded.
This situation occurs whenever you attempt to fire the blaster launcher with only 1 waypoint. A blaster launcher fired by way of reaction fire (see next section) will also leave a dud shell behind, as it's technically a 1-waypoint attack. If you set multiple waypoints but the bomb explodes before it reaches its first waypoint, this will also create a dud.
Note that the Collectors Edition of X-Com UFO has rectified this problem to a certain extent. You no longer get a dud shell when:
- You fire the blaster with reaction fire
- You use a 1-waypoint attack and the blaster bomb misses its target and flies off the map. You will still get the empty shell if the fusion ball hits something and explodes.
Dud shells do not come back to base with you at the end of a mission.
Avoiding reaction fire
- In case it's not obvious, reaction-fired blasters are generally a bad thing. There is no chance to guide them, so they fly straight forward, and your soldiers will gladly fire at a target a few paces away. Unless the target is far away and the shot is very accurate, you can expect several friendly casualties. Keep your blaster units out of the line of sight of the enemy, and/or with weapons unloaded until needed. It may be sufficient to have them face away from the combat zone. Alternately, one can expend unwanted TUs by ordering the soldier to rotate in place or perform "sit-ups" (e.g. crouching/uncrouching rapidly).
- After a shot is spent via reaction fire, the empty casing "dud" must be unloaded before using again. This bug has been fixed in the Collectors Edition of X-Com UFO and no longer occurs except with normal one-waypoint shots.
- The time to reaction-fire a blaster is significantly less than the time it takes to normally shoot one.
- One trick to avoid accidentally using a blaster launcher during attacks of opportunity is to keep your blaster unloaded and only load it when you need to use it. You cannot fire an empty weapon. This works for Rocket Launchers and Small Launchers as well.
- An even better trick is to arm another weapon in the other hand and set it as the active weapon (that is, visible in the soldiers hands) before ending the turn. You will only switch over to the blaster launcher once the active weapon runs out of ammo (which will never happen if it is a Laser Pistol or Rifle).