Skipping Gauss Weapons

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General Discussion

In Xcom, researching laser weapons first is considered a matter of course... after all, you didn't want to be still using pistols and rifles when the Mutons arrive. Heck, even snakemen were hard to put down with those things.

However, in TFTD, Gauss has some huge failings. Using Ammo (a HUGE difference in the 2 stage terror missions and the alien artefact sites!), enemy resistances against Gauss are huge...

In my last few TFTD games, I skipped Gauss entirely and completely. Instead, as soon as I captured alien tech, I concentrated on Sonic Weapons, as well as Aqua plastics and armor.

Note that researching up to Gauss Rifles (with clips) takes 660 scientist days, 1350 for Heavy Gauss (with clips). Sonic Pistol + Clip take 1000 days.

The whole POINT of laser weapons in Xcom was that, early on, you could make do with terrestial weapons (actually, the explosive weapons stay good til the end of the game). Researching Laser Weapons gave you something powerful for when the tougher aliens started appearing. Laser rifles killed anything except Superhuman Sectopods with good efficiency.

Gauss Weapons... when the tougher aliens start appearing, Gauss becomes really weak and not very useful. Lobstermen laugh these off, Tasoth's take quite a few shots from this...

And the item management issue. Sigh. Laser Weapons were much treasured for the ability to bring in 20 soldiers to the mission and only need 20 item slots. Those Gauss things... aargh. You gotta bring at least 60 items, 20 guns and 40 clips, and even that will get spent really fast.

Overall, I would say that Laser Weapons are a very good long term investment in Xcom... you spend 450 lab days and a few engineering weeks, and you use them for the entire campaign. Gauss, you spend longer in engineering, and then you only use Gauss for maybe a month before realizing that you have to throw it away and rely completely on sonic weapons.

NKF seems to favor gauss... personally, I don't bother using it anymore. ... Any other opinions among you Xcommies out there?

Well Gauss weapons do have some uses. First of all though, if you are equipping squads based on what you learned in the first game, you'll have problems. Gauss weapons are not meant to be an entire team weapon like lasers were in EU. Weapon diversification is the name of the game in TFTD. Also, gauss has damage modifier issues which can make it totally ineffective against some (actually most) aliens. But Gauss does have something Sonic does not: Auto Shot. I find it useful when storming the inside of a USO. Accuracy at such close quarters is basically a non-issue. Damage from the sonic line is greater, but you will only be able to use Snap or Aimed shots. An Auto Shot from a Gauss Rifle is just as good as a Sonic Pistol since it's putting 3 shots on the target instead of 1. Of course, Gauss isn't going to do much against a few aliens so in this case Sonic has to be the primary weapon used. --Zombie 10:55, 4 April 2009 (EDT)
I've always considered it a stepping stone technology myself rather than a long lasting technology like laser tech. No - that honor goes to the drills. Such a pity they can't attack terrain!
Despite its damage being completely nerfed by the damage modifiers, autoshot for the gauss pistol and gauss rifle more than make up for it. The gauss weapons are mainly replacements for your jet harpoons and work very well against all the aliens you meet until you start fighting the lobstermen. By then you should've developed better weapons. In fact you would be wise to supplement them with sonic pulsers early into the game for when you need that extra punch. You can just as easily get by with Gas Cannons (and you can - they're awesome), but Gauss weapons fill the niche of your fast/weak assault weaponry that is valuable for your forward soldiers.
Is it a waste of research time though? Well - that's entirely up to you. It might matter if its your first time playing the game or if you're trying to run a speed game. But there's only a finite amount of technology available, so you can easily pick and choose the one you want right away and get the rest when there's not much else to do. No rush to T'Leth after all. But that's just how I approach the game. -NKF 16:04, 4 April 2009 (EDT)
Well one aspect that is quite similar to EU is the payoff for researching Gauss is the economic aspect, to manufacture Gauss Cannon for profit. So there is not just the tactical benefits to consider, there are also economic benefits for researching the Gauss stream. Spike 18:04, 4 April 2009 (EDT)
OMG, The Gauss/Laser Cannons. Geez. Takes QUITE a lot of researching to get them, and they're not as useful as Avalanche Missiles. The only point behind them is that you can sell them for big profit. GEEZ. ... Xcomutil's profit nerf renders them COMPLETELY useless, IMHO. In fact I'll add that to the wiki? ... But that's a good point, Spike.
No, you are right, there is no rush to T'leth. The rush is in researching Psi/MC, actually. Meh. ... Actually, NKF, I had a number of games (especially on Superhuman) where Lobstermen appeared far earlier than might seem reasonable. (of course the aliens should logically be very uhnreasonable and wipe you out with maximum force right from the start...). I found that not having researched Sonic when you get your first Lobsterman Terror Mission is a little horrifying.
Also, those freaking tentaculats! Freaking Flying Chryssalids! Erk. These alone make reaction fire very VERY important in TFTD. And, since reaction is always snap shot, I found that Gauss was never enough to save my agents from zombification, only sonics gave them a chance to survive.
I don't see how Gauss is a stepping stone to Sonics. It's more like a detour. (It is obvious Gauss Rifle is stepping stone to Gauss Cannon though).
The fact that auto-fire makes Gauss really powerful in close combat, eg when fighting in an alien craft, is a very very good point! ... However. DRILLS. Hmm hmm hmm.
Analysing the 4 races, Aquatoid and Gillmen can be easily dealt with via standard store bought equipment. Tasoth only take 70% Gauss damage and 120% sonic damage! Lobstermen laugh at Gauss. So, I find that using store bought Gas Cannons, and Hydrojet Cannons on Aquatoids and Gillmen seems to be very adequate to my needs. Especially, early on, my men have shit for accuracy and explosive ammo is uber... heck, those Terror units are pretty freaking resistant to Gauss too.
Anything, Gauss can do, Heavy Explosive does better. :) Jasonred 22:31, 4 April 2009 (EDT)


Gauss is not a literal stepping stone, as in a prerequisite. It just gives your troops a good start in the battlefield, allowing you to concentrate more on building up your resources and other supports so that you can start phasing in the sonic weapons.

Experiences will vary from player to player regarding the appearance of the Lobstermen - so you just have to deal with them as they appear, such as avoiding them or getting really good with the Thermal Tazer! (Coincidentally, did we ever bust the myth about sonic weapon research accelerating their appearance?)

But because we all have different ways we like to approach the game: You don't have to force yourself to use gauss if you don't want to. The game's lenient enough to let you decide how you want to cook your seafood.

Is till consider the first two gauss weapons as some of the best weapons you can start with. Perhaps not as powerful as the Gas Cannon, but they are still light and fast and come packed with lots of ammo. The high ammo does it for me, as I tend to go through it very quickly even when I take careful shots.

The mighty Gas Cannon can definitely be used in lieu of gauss (which is why I made special mention of it in the TFTD Best Starting Weapon Summary), but you have to be extra mindful of its ammo.

Then there's always the option of just researching the Sonic pistol after your first mission. Because it's still early into the game, ammo conservation will also be a major concern. We won't always be lucky enough to gather large amounts of ammo and might use more ammo than they can gather.

Weapon diversification often wins the day in TFTD's early stages and helps save the more precious ammo. If you can accommodate all three somehow, that's even better. I like my dual pistols thank you very much!

Not going to argue about the Sonic Pistol being a good reaction fire weapon. It has equal cost and accuracy as the Gauss Rifle. The Gauss Pistol is the best weapon for reacting with that can still damage a superhuman Tasoth (from the back). The absolute best weapon to react with in this game (and I really hate to say this) is the Dart Gun. Great training weapon nonetheless. -NKF 03:26, 5 April 2009 (EDT)

Depends what you mean by "best to react with". There's a) Makes you perform a lot of reaction shots and thus good for training. b) Kills your enemy.
I had some shipping lane missions. Somehow ended up burning all my Gauss ammo, ALL of it, by the end of the mission only 4 men out of my 14 men team could fire their weapons. Later on I did the missions with Sonics, and my ammo was just fine. Though this was quite some time ago, so maybe my memory gets faulty or something. ...crap. I remember getting Synonium Device missions early on as well. Those could get pretty hairy without Sonics, though I recall completing them with Gauss, albeit they were more of a headache.
I found that the Hydrojet Cannon was pretty darn great for underwater missions, actually. ...Comparing Gauss and Underwater only weapons...how many Land Missions against Gillmen and Aquatoids do you go through? ...How many missions against Tasoth and Lobstermen do you go through? ...Actually, I found that there were 2 playstyles. A) was to have a generic loadout for all missions. B) was to manually setup each loadout based on mission type. ...Overall, I found that before you get Transmission Resolver, you have no idea what type of alien you are going to be facing. However, you ALWAYS get warning before hand whenever the mission will be on land. Therefore, it is a PAIN, but it is very very possible to use Torpedo Launchers and Hydrojets in your normal games, and switch loadouts during land missions. (That's what I'm forced to do once I get DPLs, so I might as well get used to it, i guess?) However, having a team with a loadout for Aquatoids and meeting Lobstermen = abort mission.
Actually, I don't really consider Gauss to be "starting weapons". Truth be told, on Superhuman, by the time you get them, even rushing, it can be a little late in the game. Especially if you have to spend a lot of money making your base defensible. Same for laser weapons, really. Of course, in Xcom, the weapon flow is always : purchased weapons -> Laser Pistol -> Laser Rifle -> Heavy Plasma -> Psi. In TFTD, the enemy upgrades itself to Rifles so fast on superhuman, that I found my weapon flow to be : Purchased Weapons -> Sonic Rifle -> Psi. Hmm. Jasonred 10:29, 5 April 2009 (EDT)
"Best to react with" is as you say dependent on what you want. The Sonic Pistol is still the best to react with in the sonic family. The faster but depresslingly weaker dart gun for example would only be useful to interrupt a tentaculats charge. Ever notice how melee enemies seem to break off their charge after a reaction shot, then resume the charge on the next? Something like that anyhow. Not something to rely on exclusively. Much rather blast it to bits with sonic weapons any day - or poke it in the back with a drill.
I actually experience a lot of land missions in the form of shipping lane missions, and the various terror sites that underwater fights seem rare at times. But this varies from game to game, obviously. That's why I'm a little wary of using predominantly under-water-only loads and try going for mixed kits involving all sorts of equipment (to the point of having 1 gas cannon even in the late game when I'm almost entirely using sonics). Good thing the underwater restriction stops the aliens from using the DPL though. Love that aspect of it. No so for the HjC.
Gauss is a starting weapon in the sense that you have it right from the very start (even though you need a bit of research), and you don't have to go out and get anything to be able to get it. Also, some players are lucky (or should I say unlucky?) enough to get a few gauss pistols built before they go on their very first mission. Have had this happen to me a few times on superhuman after the first couple of subs I spotted fled from my Barracudas. -NKF 02:17, 6 April 2009 (EDT)
I, personally, like to research sonic rifle first. By the time research done, I already have several rifles. Even if clip research is not ready, it's possible to fire from trophy weapons. (At start I buy gas cannons and dump all other weapons. Works nice.) Research sequence goes as Sensor->Medikit->Sonic Rifle->it's clip->armor or Sonic Cannon.
My opinion:
  • Gauss Pistol: too weak
  • Gauss Rifle: mainstream stuff
  • Heavy Gauss: only until I get DPL (I never got to that point)
  • CGC: OK until I get CSC
  • SWS/G: nice!
However, that's just my opinion. I personally avoid being overly reliant on alien guns, researching but not using them (except stunners and blasters). I once ran into a situation in UFO when I was sitting in my bases, unable to do anything since I ran out of Elerium. Not to mention that I like the Gauss firing sound much more than Sonic firing sound (and I want to be visually distinctive from aliens). Xcomutil completely turns the tables on Gauss vs. Sonic: with Gauss weapons getting unlimited ammo, rapid-firing all over the place is fun!--amitakartok 17:47, 5 September 2009 (EDT)

Gauss vs. AP comparison

Just glancing at the damage modifier table for TFTD, a few observations come to mind. For the early aliens that you are expected to be using AP and Gauss weapons against (aquatoid, gillmen, Deep Ones and Calcinite - generally), most of the damage multipliers are roughly the same. Note this refers to non-explosives.

Both types do:

  • 100% vs. aquatoids and Gillmen
  • 90% vs. Deep Ones.

That means that both AP (in the form of GC-AP) or gauss weaponry are quite fair against these enemies. There's one alien that differs somewhat.

  • Calcinite, 100% AP vs 90% Gauss

That's not too bad a difference. You should be able to get past these aliens and move onto sonic weaponry before the higher tier aliens show up.

These two damage types start to really fluctuate in effectiveness against the higher tier enemies and the terror units. (do note that using lower tier weapons on higher tier aliens is often asking for trouble)

AP does better vs:

  • Tasoth: 80% AP vs. 70% Gauss.
  • Xarquids and Biodrones: 100% AP vs. 70% Gauss.
  • Triscene: 90% AP vs. 80% Gauss.

Gauss does better vs:

  • Lobstermen: 20% AP vs. 30% Gauss (slightly less useless)
  • Hallucinoids: 60% AP vs 80% Gauss

What a mixed bunch Gauss and AP are! You probably will have upgraded to Sonic by the time you meet these guys, but some of the above is worth knowing.

Finally, one last observation about Gauss vs. AP: Against your own units.

  • Unarmored and Plastic Aqua Armor: 100% AP vs. 100% Gauss
  • Ion Armor/Mag Ion Armor: 90% AP vs. 80% Gauss
  • SWS: 95% AP vs. 60% Gauss

AP's really earning its own title of "Armor Piercing" in TFTD. -NKF 05:20, 6 April 2009 (EDT)

Research Time Comparison

Gauss vs Sonic

Ref	Avg 	TOT.
0	50	  50	Gauss Tech
29	100	 150	Gauss Pistol
62	60	 210	Gauss Pistol Clip
30	300	 510	Gauss Rifle
63	150	 660	Gauss Rifle Clip
31	460	1120	Heavy Gauss
64	230	1350	Heavy Gauss Clip
32	420	1770	Craft Gauss Cannon
8	600	 600	Sonic Pistol
9	400	1000	Sonic Pistol Clip
6	700	1700	Blasta Rifle
7	400	2100	Blasta Clip
4	800	2900	Sonic Cannon
5	400	3300	Cannon Power Clip


Research discussion

An average of a thousand scientist-days of research is needed before you have a usable Sonic weapon - and you can't start until after your first combat. The Gauss weapon sequence delivers progressively better weapons at 210, 660, and then 1350 days. An additional 420 days (total 1770) unlocks the economic benefits of Gauss Cannon manufacturing. And each of these Gauss weapons is its own "stepping stone", a significant improvement on anything else available (so skipping research on the Clips is not sensible). Though, as has been discussed, in TFTD you need a mix of weapons.

The decision to develop Gauss weapons as a stepping-stone weapon may hinge on how much Research capability is available. If you have 50 scientists from the outset (or by your first combat), you may be able to afford to wait out the average of 20 days using only standard weapons. Even then it is likely to be a while before you have the manufacturing capability, or looting success, to arm all your aquanauts with Sonic weapons. Though if you tend to use small squads, that will be easier.

Personally I develop Gauss weapons from the outset. When I get my first Sonic Pulser, I switch to developing that, as it is easily scavenged and a massive equaliser. I develop Gauss weapons at least as far as Gauss Rifle. Unless I'm going down a Manufacturing Profitability route, I'm not so sure about proceeding to Heavy Gauss. The additional 690 days is not so far off the 1000 required for functioning Sonic Pistols. With Gauss Rifles and Sonic Pulsers in hand, you can manage pretty well during the delay in researching Sonic Pistol. Spike 10:05, 5 April 2009 (EDT)

Your totaling is incorrect, as Sonic weapons are independent of each other on the research tree. So reaching sonic cannon only takes 1200 days if you decide to skip the earlier ones. --(name here) 22:43, 12 August 2009 (EDT)
Thanks for pointing out they are independent, I was not sure, as I don't have access to a research tree (there is none on this site AFAIK). It's nonetheless true to say that at least an average 1000 research-days are required for the first usable Sonic weapon, and that research can't start until the first combat. If you choose to make the Sonic Cannon that weapon, you would require 1200 days, and you would start significantly later. As (arguably) the Sonic Pistol is the best all-round Sonic weapon, and usually the first one you have the opportunity to research, what I said here is the most likely case. Spike 07:56, 13 August 2009 (EDT)

See Also

Weapon Analysis

TFTD Research Sequences