Making the Game Harder/Scenarios

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Funding Council Counterintelligence

Expanding the Funding Council Income Only scenario, don't let even a single Infiltration mission succeed! If one country defects, it will start a series of events that result in X-COM being disbanded (ie. you have to start over the game). Confirmed (?) to be actually impossible on Superhuman.

Rank-based equipment

Only give the best stuff to officers. For example Squaddies have to use personal armors and laser rifles; rookies don't get armor at all. Advancing in ranks earns the privilege to use newest equipment. So Sergeants can use Power Suit, but not Flying Suit. Even better, only give Flying suit to your Commander. Of course, you never want to commit your most experienced troops to hazardous front line duties, so this creates extra challenge.

Fire-mode restrictions

'Cautious'-mode only available with long range ship weapons (Avalanche Missiles and the Fusion Ball Launcher). 'Aggressive'-mode with everything else, never 'standard'-mode.

Otherwise plasma beam is too powerful. Most alien ships have low range and are very fast. That they never return fire does not make any sense.

Single Plasma beam on interceptors

If a Plasma Beam is mounted on an Interceptor the other weapon slot must carry a less powerful canon (Cannon & Laser Cannon) or remain empty.

This creates a large niche for the Firestorm and the Lightning.

Solo Missions

Iron Man

If you are confident in yourself, use only one soldier. Knowing when to retreat and switch weapons at the dropship is essential, but try not to get wounded. Without friends with medkits around, fatal wounds are truly fatal. Get your popcorn out people and enjoy the show!

Chuck Norris

Your best man, a rocket launcher, grenades, and an automatic rifle. Nothing invented before about 1970. A stun rod to simulate the devastating karate attack - watch out Aliens!

Bruce Lee

One man, one stun rod. (You might want to cheat and max out your stats first.) They won't stand a chance!

Bozo the Clown

One man, no weapons. And pray that either some aliens died during the crash or that they are stupid enough to hit one another with their weapons.

Limited Military

Limit X-COM to a set number of soldiers per game. Not at one time, per game. So every soldier killed or sacked is an irreplaceable resource. The easiest version of this could be 250 soldiers, maybe rolling down to as few as fifty, depends on the masochism of the player. Optionally, to help a bit, start with maximum hires by editing the starting base, or allow those who want to can increase the physical stats of soldiers up to their caps in SOLDIER.DAT if wanted and can start with maximum hires. (Leave Psi alone!) This game is winnable, but increasingly hard as you decrease troops as every man lost is a critical resource you never get back.

The very hard version of this is to try and complete the game with just the 8 soldiers you start with. It is possible to complete the game with just one soldier if you really want to make the game harder. You better hope that he has good Psi skills as you will not find out for a few months. At least you'll have room for a 3 tanks on your Skyranger.

Tour of Duty

All soldiers sign up for only 15 missions in the beginning. After the soldier goes through 15 missions, they end their tour and quit X-COM for good (are sacked) unless they have a solid ranking (sargeant or higher) . This forces purchase of new troops. A useful challenge for savescummers to take away the edge of troops with good stats. For added difficulty try reducing the mission count or having all units be sacked after 15 missions.

Battlescape Time Limits

If you are used to playing the 'waiting game', pick up the pace. The Aliens aren't stupid. After 20 Turns in a UFO Ground Assault, they will take off again, leaving you empty handed (simulate this with a march back to the Transport, and Abort). After 20 Turns in a UFO Crash Recovery, the Engineers blow the reactor and destroy everything. Simulate this with a forced Abort on Turn 20, regardless of where everyone is at the time. Those who don't get airborne in the Transport are all missing or dead. Anything not hauled back to the Transport is lost.

Limited Elerium

Elerium is incredibly valuable, probably the most important strategic material ever encountered by mankind. Much too valuable for the CFN to leave it in the hands of those crazy commandos who run X-Com! The CFN governments insist on keeping most or all of the Elerium for their own use. You goet to see what it's like defending civilisation without it.

50 Elerium Limit

You are limited to only 50 units of Elerium for the whole game. Any surplus must be "sold" - i.e. returned to the CFN for a fraction of its real value. Keep in mind you need at least 12 units to build your Avenger, otherwise you can't win the game.

Avenger Elerium Only

You are only allowed to keep enough Elerium to fuel one mission of your Avenger (12 units). Everything else must be handed back to the CFN. This means you can't build anything that requires Elerium. It also means you must scavenge all the parts for your Avenger from UFOs.

Mandatory Recycling

As above, plus you are required to immediately hand over to the CFN ("sell") any captured items containing Elerium (except for the specific parts you need to build your one Avenger). This is so the CFN can send them to a top-secret Elerium Reprocessing plant for extraction of the precious Elerium. You are allowed to start Research projects on them when you first return them to Base, but then you must immediately hand them over to the CFN. You are not allowed to use these items (except during the actual Battlescape mission when you capture them - and even then your troops have to lie about the ammo counts and pretend the aliens fired them).

This means you can never hold any Plasma or Fusion/Blaster weapons or tanks, no Psi Amps or Mind Probes, no Stun bombs, alien grenades, Power/Flying suits. You can build a Firestorm or Lightning, but there's no point, since you can't operate it (since that expends Elerium). You can't arm your craft with Plasma Beams or Fusion Balls. Lasers are your best weapons: in the air, on your tanks, and in the hands of your troops.

As a quirk, you can still build Plasma or Fusion defences for your Bases, since those don't appear to require any Elerium. As mentioned elsewhere, perhaps these are powered by a regular power station instead of Elerium.

(If playing TFTD, you are allowed to hold one copy of an item in Stores, if it is needed to be present for a Technology advancement, but then you must sell it as soon as it is no longer needed, and you must never use it in combat.)

No Detection

Similar in concept to 1 Mission X-COM. No detection, and therefore no interception, of UFOs. Radar, airborne and hyperwave detection are ruled out. Almost as if the UFOs had some kind of stealth technology. This means no UFO Assault or UFO Crash Recovery missions. You are restricted to responding to Terror missions, Alien Base Assaults (when Alien Bases are detected by Agents only), and (possibly) Base Defence missions. This is quite hard as you get very little combat experience, artefacts or loot (and therefore very little cash). The Aliens also get a high score so many countries will defect. In fact, you cannot win this game, as there is no way to get UFO Navigations to build the Avenger. (Seb76's loader has 2 patches that do permit you to win: the "Roswell" UFO crashes option and an option where Base Control Tables don't explode.) More information here: Talk:UFO_Detection#Playing_With_No_Detection

The Kiryu-Kai Scenario

This scenario will be based on the Kiryu Kai project which eventually was disbanded due to the failure to stop the invasion and lack of funding in 1998. Although the game starts in 1999 it really doesn't matter. So start the game in Superhuman difficulty and only have one base centred in Japan. Only use the Skyranger and Interceptor, don't use the Lightning, Firestorm or Avenger. Only use Earth Standard weaponry and don't research anything except the medikit, the motion scanner, alien lifeforms, alien origins and the Hyper-Wave Decoder. Sell all alien artefacts and weaponry and strive to play on until the Kiryu Kai (XCOM) is defeated or the Council has cut all funding. The Kiryu Kai Scenario is fun and challenging but remember, you are basically screwed from the beginning so just try to keep the Kiryu Kai existing as long as possible. - User:WakkaDakka Updated 20th May, 2015

Pistol only run

Conditions for a complete Pistol only run:

  • Optional Starting conditions: Empty base with only an Airlock (placed wherever you like), no staff, no aircrafts, no equipment, anything.


As the title suggests, you will limit yourself to the use of regular pistols only throughout a playthrough of the game, preferably at Superhuman difficulty while also aiming to complete all research topics available (1x Alien Reproduction may be added to your inventory via an editor after successfully recovering a landed Supply Ship, though Alien Reproduction will be optional and not hinder you to complete this run).

The only other equipment you may use are Motion Scanners (always), Medi-Kits (always), Electro-flares (always), Smoke Grenades (always), Mind Probes (always) and Stun Rods (limited), which means the use of Psionics, for you at least, is not allowed.

Stun Rods come with the limitation of only allowing you to capture one type of alien and rank with it, i.e. you may only capture ONE Sectoid Soldier and ONE Floater Soldier, etc., all the others will have to be killed after successfully capturing one of them. Exceptions will be alien Medics, Navigators and Engineers in order to allow you to acquire otherwise unobtainable research topics (i.e. live Cyberdisc, Alien Missions, Alien UFO's, etc.), as soon as these research topics are completed, these alien ranks may no longer be stunned. Another exception will be Cyberdiscs and Sectopods, as their armour is too high for the pistol to infilct damage on them.

Whether or not you will allow yourself to use any of the new crafts and their weapons as well as upgrading soldier armour is up to you. I personally recommend on your first run though, that you will give every new craft a try as most players usually tend to skip all or some of them until they get to build the Avenger, which is sad and may shorten the total time of a playing session. Make sure to use each craft type at least for 2 months before advancing to a newer one or going for the final mission (unless at that point you already have completed all the possible research topics).

Wearing anything above Personal Armour will ease the challenge a little when your units get mind controlled, as pistol shots won't be able to or hardly harm your own soldiers then, so again you may decide whether or not you will be upgrading to those (certainly an OK for your first run along with the air crafts and weapons).

Additionally, you MAY have one HWP (any type) in your base at all times for base defence missions, but never take one with you on your aircraft.

A Psionics Lab may still be built though, for you to decide which soldiers to ditch and which to keep when it comes to fighting mind control during missions. There are no restrictions on the amount of bases you may build, your base layout or what facilities you may or may not build.

Other rules are:

  • No save game abuse: If a soldier dies, a mission is lost, an aircraft is shot down or your base gets destroyed, then that's something you will have to live with.
    • Optional: Do not abuse the interception bug that allows you to start every mission during daytime. For a tougher challenge unavoidable night missions add up to the difficulty. (This will also allow you to see the dawn/dusk colour-palette more often, which is really nice to experience in my opinion)


For an even tougher challenge on Superhuman difficulty, you can start a game without the standard base. Right when you begin a new game, sell/sack every Soldier (make sure to unassign them from the Skyranger together with the loaded equipment), Scientist, Engineer as well as the Skyranger and both Interceptors (equip both with Cannons beforehand), then proceed selling every equipment currently in your storage and dismantle all facilities. Then click the "Build new base" button to start the challenge with an empty base.

This will leave you with only your Airlock and around 3 million to start the Pistol only challenge with. Which means that your first month will definitely come with a negative score, as well as you needing to plan what facilities to build first in order to fight the aliens and not get terminated by the council.

On the other hand though, this allows you to go for a defensive base layout right from the beginning such as the Time efficient corridor build (if gone for this layout, make sure to rotate it by 90 degrees in order to avoid the Base Disjoint bug). - Zac x Me (talk) 03:36, 26 September 2015 (EDT)