Strategies for Troops (Apocalypse)

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Battlescape Fighting Strategies and Tactics

UFOs In General

  • The battlescape will be identical for the type of crashed UFO, but the aliens will be placed randomly at the start. eg: it is possible to have eggs spawn outside.
  • The terrain in which the UFO rests is not owned by anyone and its destruction does not influence the 'Damage to City' score.
  • Destroyed craft armaments and devices may not be recovered if damaged in ground battle.

UFO Battlescapes

Alien crash-recovery battlescapes typically have a basic layout of:

  • Access somewhere at ground level and always via a door (with only one single exception).
  • External armaments visible on the perimeter and on the roof of the craft.
  • Grav-lift access to higher levels inside the UFO.
  • Sections of the outer skin coloured differently to the general colour of the whole UFO, resemble opaque 'windows'.
  • Armaments visible inside enclaves inside the craft near the perimeter and near 'windows'.
  • A UFO that is eqipped with missile weapons as standard, the weapon's ammunition is stored in exposed areas inside the craft.
  • Craft devices located in small rooms in the upper sections.
  • Multiple engines, fuel stores, and control systems.
  • A trench in the terrain usually with spot fires.

Everything but the grav-lifts inside a UFO can be destroyed resulting in collapse, small fires, explosions, gas clouds etc. Fuel stores, missiles, engines etc. are especially dangerous due to massive explosions when hit from even the lightest weaponry, often resulting in complete destruction of the immediate area including breeches of the hull ...which can be an alternative entry point into the UFO.
Note: Craft devices (shield modules, cloaking device, teleporter, etc.) will be present on the alien craft even though such devices were not activated in cityscape combat. Recovery of these technologies is only possible when the Score (dependant of "UFOs Shot Down") permits these modules to be used first by the alien menace.

Skin Breech

  • Unconventional access is prefered if faced with difficult lifeforms (which need to be taken out quickly ...by Androids) or Megaspawns killed quickly with copious amounts of plasma fire before they get outside and use their launcher.
  • Roof access from a hole in the (exact) center is usually directly above the main grav-lift may enable easier combat since weaker X-Com agents can throw explosives 'into the hole' and it prevents melee-combat aliens from getting too close.
  • Opaque 'windows' at the perimeter can allow direct access to the floorplan if breeched (instead of cutting through multiple layers of thick 'skin' at randoms area).
  • External weapons (perimeter or roof) can be destroyed to create a hole.
  • Detonation of the craft's internal engines/fuel store (caution falling debris) which are close to the external wall with explosives outside the craft usually causes the largest tears and holes in the skin.

Common Tactics

Note: real-time discription
There are two main scenarios for battlescape crash recovery: the aliens are already outside, or the aliens are still inside!
Develop tactics that work for you! ...depending on loadout, agent quantity or type etc. This is only a basic suggestion.

Outside

The UFO crash site is always in terrain which contains alot of trees. Agents walking and cautious will fire on anything hostile and use cover, unless flying. Sweep the battlescape (including the roof when skeletoids are present) to kill off any surprises. Locate the doors...

Inside

...at first opportunity, throw a primed proximity mine near each door. Poppers love proximity mines! One door is commonly in a trench, so position your agents on the ridge on both sides of the door, however if not in a trench, position your agents in a large semi-circle facing the door and wait for the mine to go off. When the commotion starts, throw a stun grenade where the door was and kill any that try to escape the cloud. Keep refreshing the stun gas cloud to diminish any smoke grenade effect. When it the initial rush of aliens slows, kill the stunned via forced fire which are not needed for research (with agents that need experience) or stand on the alien body to 'save it' for live recovery. Careful of Poppers! If no more aliens are willing to get killed exit the craft, use Cautious Attitude (green) then walk troops into the UFO. A motion scanner is useful. Find the chrysalids and you should find the rest of them. Usually when there are no coccoons or eggs, all aliens will exit their craft.

UFO Crash Recovery

Note: Tactics specific for each UFO, check each page for: Battlescape Information. Transporter
Fast Attack
Destroyer
Assault
Bomber
Escort
Battleship
Mothership

Buildings In Mega-Primus

  • When fighting inside any building, conservative use of explosives is recommended, unless the building is owned by a hostile organisation.
  • Small X-Com cleanup crew = Small battlescape (if not heavily infested).
  • Time is not an issue. Don't rush.
  • Motion scanner is essential. No surprises = no ambush.
  • Civilians are good target practice!

Slums

Terrain which is very diverse. Flat open areas of dirty woodland to large buildings for squatters.
Aliens will move about in large loose groups unless eggs or coccoons need protection. Searching rooms can become (very tedious in Turn-Based combat) easier if a motion scanner is used. Trapping a hostile in a building is easy since the structure is generally weak, enabling capture if needed or target practice if not. All slums are nine levels high and any buildings may collapse easily with some sword fighting, killing many from the falling debris. Flying above and dropping bombs/gas is an easy method to neutralise stronger lifeforms, hiding on the roof with snipers or grenadiers when facing more advanced weaponry. If possible to isolate the enemy by strategically removing access (eg: elevated walkway in U-Hotel) essentially splits up the hostile force.
A dirty blight on the sterile city of Mega-Primus.

Temple Of Sirius

Indoor church-like terrain with large (segment sized) rooms seperated by weak walls with doors in some corners and some with small tunnels underneath.
The rooms are not complicated and offer many areas of cover. The divider wall are easily destroyed and allows a more direct route for long range weapons. Maximum height is four levels so flying is not important. Tunnels offer the better movement option since open areas above may allow missiles to fly cleanly or your troops to be flanked by the cultists.
Zealots and guns!

Corporate Headquarters

Large. Expensive. Modern. Three styles of executive buildings with open areas of sparse wooded grasslands.
One style of battlescape is a single large building with massive entrance staircase and large lobby which commonly is the area of battle due to the gravlift able to move a large force of hostiles without restriction. The upper levels will often hide the remaining hostile units if they are not hiding amonst the trees.
A second style of battlescape a wide, long thoroughfare lined with numerous multi-level small office bloocks. Hostiles usually are loitering on the main route with some in the upper office levels. Any isolated enemy may be found in the tunnels between the offices.
The last style contains office blocks with banked grassy slopes. The scattered placement of the offices governs a more methodical approach when sweeping the battlescape since tunnels and corridors allow easy flanking movement by hostiles and ambushes.
The coffee machine doesn't taste right.

Apartments

A hotel style of battlescape with grid like pattern of repetitive two-level rooms with garish wallpaper and carpets.
Clean and simple hallways connecting the pens rooms allows long range firefights interspread with hostile ambushes when searching the rooms for stragglers. Flight is restricted and not necessary. Smoke will allow X-Com troopers to flank or be flanked. Aliens are usually grouped in one part with poppers being a deadly threat due to limited height. A motion scanner should be used to check the rooms. Any anomalous traces insdie should be destroyed with explosive thrown from outside. The doors are choke-points.
No room service!

Police Station

A convoluted design of flammable corridors connecting many rooms of various size providing flanking opportunities within the three-level battlescape.
Fighting is commonly limited to the room level since tunnel access is usually restricted to just a single door. A sweep with higher reaction skilled X-Com troopers is recommended due to the small offices and narrow corridors limiting evasive movement from explosions. Tunnels are straight and can be level-long; rockets being the deadliest since no opportunity to dodge except at intersections. Removing the floor above hostiles in the tunnels limits their ambushes.
No criminals in the cells!

Lifetree Schools

The ultimate in convoluted design! A small squad usually gets a 3-level battlescape, large squads get double height of the segments (the 3-level segments are mixed again, then placed on top of the original 3). Thats why everyone says school sucks!
Large classrooms with hallways allowing entry via grav-shaft into basement corridors (sub-floor space of segments). Aliens are commonly found moving throughout the level via these spaces and will flank agents from multiple directions. Methodical clearance of each segment needs a larger than usual X-Com force to remove surprises. If double height, the corridors are also 'above their heads' which can be made no passable by explosives.

Arms Factory

A concrete sheel of large areas of factory equipment manufacturing and testing missiles of various type, storage rooms big and small, small office areas and occasionally a air-trans vehicle for deliveries.
Testing rooms and missile parts are common in many factory segments and are explosive death traps. Office segments are compact and flammable. No smoking!

Sewage Works

Complicated design of large pipes and restrictive access for ground entities ideal for ambush. Smells like flowers!

Senso & Astro Domes

Large open areas...

Manufacturing

Robotics, Appliances, Construction, Large Flyer, Flyer. Open plan factory floor with numerous conveyor belts, worktables, and process machinery, storage,...

Game Modes In-Depth

Androids and Hybrids

Two opposites, androids are physically strong, while hybrids are physically weak but are the only race that can effectively use psionics. Ideally, androids will have lots of extra equipment to either demolish everything or to replenish teammates supplies, while hybrids travel as light as possible but with a Mind Bender even if they haven't received adequate psionic training.

At the start of the game androids will have the best aim of your troops, so should be given the best weapons. With some training and experience your human soldiers will surpass them. Androids' high HP and immunity to brainsuckers and psionics makes them good scouts and shock troops, since turning a corner in to something unpleasant is less likely to result in their death than a human. Also, while by no means expendable, androids are more easily replaced than an experienced human. As such, once you have humans with good accuracy that can take over fire support, equip your androids for short range combat and/or demolition and use them in the front line. Another advantage of androids' immunity to psionics and brainsuckers is that they can safely be given heavy weapons like launchers, since there is no way for the aliens to take control of them. You can sometimes use androids as "bait" for brainsucker launchers, as brainsuckers will not attempt to brainsuck them, but anthropods and skeletoids will still fire brainsucker pods at androids (I think)

In the late game once you have disruptor armor and advanced, lighter weaponry hybrids really come in to their own. The lighter equipment makes a hybrid's strength disadvantage less of a problem, and the toughness of disruptor armor and shields makes their lack of HP less of an issue as well. Meanwhile, a hybrid's high psionic defence is an asset even if you don't use offensive psionics much, and their proficiency with weapons is comparable to a human.

Stun Squad

Early in the game, it can be a beneficial tactic to set apart a few agents as a 'stun squad'. This squad carries stun grapples and stun grenades and is tasked solely with capturing aliens alive. Because they'll be getting up close and personal with brainsuckers, it's a good idea to comprise your stun squad out of androids.

Once you've got a few aliens stunned and down, keep your stun squad near them. Real-time makes this much easier, as you can set them for Aggressive and Auto-Fire and they'll automatically re-stun any aliens that try to stand up. Using a separate stun squad made up of three androids with twin stun grapples and grenades in a fresh game, this editor was able to capture alive an Anthropod, Spitter, Hyperworm, Multiworm, and Brainsucker all within two missions following acquisition of the Bio Transport Module.

Heavy Weapons and Real-Time Mode

Heavy weapons, such as the MarSec Heavy Launcher and the Dimension Missile launcher should be used with care in real-time mode. Personally, I recommend avoiding missile launchers entirely if possible, as one brainsucked agent in Disruptor armor with a dimension launcher can cause some serious pain later in the game's stages. Unfortunately, the game's AI doesn't seem to check friendly fire prior to using weapons, and you can easily end up destroying your entire squad if you don't keep heavy weapons reigned in. If you must use weapons like these, this editor recommends keeping all of your "heavy weapons experts" in the same squad, setting that squad to 'No Fire', and manually ordering them to fire when it's tactically sound to do so. An excellent example of this is when you're tasked with disabling parts of alien structures later in the game.

Marksmen, Sharpshooters and Snipers

No armed organization can go to war without its snipers, they provide accurate, long-range cover fire to your other squads and, if used correctly, serve as spotters for target acquisition to aid your other squads. The minute you start a game you should be on the look out for recruits with an accuracy skill above the rest of your troops. Try not to use Androids for this task as their accuracy is a fixed value and will never improve, Humans make the best long-term snipers. Make sure these are always participating in combat training to improve accuracy, among other things. Give these guys sniper rifles and keep them in a squad together. (don't forget to arm them with stun grenades and grapples) When possible buy the Marsec Body Armour Units as these have the built in jetpacks which allow your snipers to stay out of harms way and to take the tactical high ground quickly as well as provide dynamic support for your troops on the ground. Always place your snipers on high ground if possible, ideally 3-4 floors above your other troops. This gives them un-obstructed fields of fire and sight, something that your agents lives depend on. Snipers are there to support other squads and are best used in a ratio of 1:2 1 unit of snipers to 2 units of machine gunners. However, bear in mind snipers become less useful towards the later stages of the game but still has uses, especially in ufo recovery, set them to watch the door from the cliffs either side.

Early Game Strategy

The Super Scout Strategy (real-time only)

It can be useful to use a lone Android as a scout to uncover the map and find out where the enemy is. Use the unit with the highest speed and strength if possible so that it can carry a lot of gear and also get away from the enemy as needed. Android immunity to brainsuckers is particularly useful here should you wind unexpectedly at close quarters. Sending a lone soldier gives your two particular advantages: he is easier to micromanage and maneuver and you're only risking one soldier. This also brings a new dimension to the game, as you can fight a large portion of your battles in solo mode if you are careful.

Armed with a sniper rifle, lawpistols, two Stun Grapples and a motion scanner, you'll have a mixed bag of weaponry for engaging at any range. It's particularly fun to harass the enemy with sniper fire and grenades, and retreat if there are too many. You can also liberally sprinkle the battlefield with stun gas grenades to keep the enemy off-balance or when you want to capture aliens alive. Also, gas grenades are safer to use around civilians or your own squad members. This brings up the next fun part--leading the aliens into an ambush. Support your android with a small squad of three solider equipped with long and short range weaponry so that they'll be ready for any sort of encounter. In addition to providing extra firepower, your allies can keep an eye on any unconscious aliens should they wake up.

As for what other troops to bring, it's up to you. I like to bring along a dedicated group of four snipers and four machine gunners to cover the flanks and establish a safe perimeter to retreat too if necessary. They can also act a reserve force if you get into trouble, though most of the time, they just sit at the edge of the map and take potshots at enemy which helps train their accuracy. Let them waste Lawpistol or Auto Cannon ammo if you find yourself burning too much machine gun ammo, which always seems to be scarce.

It's also useful to note the lawpistols are surprisingly useful when paired with a sniper rifle for your mixed troops since they are light and compact and offer comparable firepower to the machine gun without the weight. They can also be dual-wielded without accuracy penalties, which is another plus. Of course later on, they will be replaced by plasma guns, assuming there is enough ammo available.

Lastly, your scout should have a motion sensor. It's also handy to give one to the leaders of all your other squads so they enemy will not get the jump on you. You don't *have* to give the sensor to the leader, but this really helps cut down on the micromanagement, which seems to the be most tiresome part of battles.

Late Game Strategy

"Stealing" Personal Shields

Late Game, Personal Shields are rather ridiculously useful, since they will absorb almost any form of damage from enemies, and they absorb a LOT of it. Plus, they recharge over time. The only reason not to outfit everyone in your squad with multiple shields is that they take a lot of time to manufacture. So, the simplest way to get lots of them is to get them from the aliens OR on raids against humans. Only humanoid aliens can carry personal shields, and there's a limited amount of aliens compared to being able to raid the COS ad infinitum. So, the best way to get lots of shields is via raiding the COS.

Now, when you raid the COS for shields, you want them to either drop their shields units or you want to do damage that bypasses the shields. Shooting normal projectiles to wear down the shields will result in the shield units being destroyed instead. Therefore, you want to bring along PSI troops to make the COS drop their items before you kill them. Simple enough, if you've trained up strong Psi troops.

The other method of obtaining the shields is to use either Stun Grenades or Toxiguns. Stun Grenades will make them drop their items when they fall unconscious, but are a little harder to use. A simpler way to get shields from COS is to play in Turn Based mode and to shoot COS from point blank with your Toxigun on full auto. One strategy is to use Toxin A or basically your weakest Toxins, since human targets have the same damage modifier from all 3 toxins, so Toxin A,B,C will do 12.5, 16.25 and 21.25 damage respectively. Most COS will die in about a dozen shots, so at minimum, you need around 15 TU once you're right next to them for the kill. But, you should only be doing this for COS targets that are carrying shields. Therefore, you should carry a Devastator/Disrupter in one hand and a toxigun in the other. Get to point blank range and fire a Disrupter shot into the target. If you hear a dull thunk and see the blue shield flash, switch to the toxigun and pepper him full of holes. If you hear a scream, kill him with the disrupter. Or you can just scan the enemy with the mind bender. Note also that enemies will seem to be able to use ONE of the following: Personal Shield, Teleporter, Personal Cloaking Field. So, if you see a fuzzy looking unit, just Disrupter him to death, he won't be able to use his personal shield.

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