Suggestions for Equipping Troops (Apocalypse)
When arming common consumable items like grenades and ammo, and other common items like medikits, it is a good idea to store them all in the same slots. By doing this, you can quickly re-arm your entire squad, or a sub-set of your squad at the same time by selecting multiple agent portraits and rearming all of the agents at the same time.
Each troop should always carry a medi-kit, as you are bound to get hurt, and medi-kits save lives.
In either mode, and for most of the early to mid portion of the game, it's not a bad idea to arm all of your agents with a selection of staple grenades including AP grenades, stun grenades and smoke grenades. See the RT or TB sections for mode-specific uses.
- AP grenades are weak weapons but can be useful for quickly destroying groups of minor enemies or for detonating other explosives. Agent in full suits of armor can detonate them in close proximity with minimal harm - if any.
- Stun Grenades are perhaps the most useful of the basic grenades, providing a means of capturing aliens as well as neutralising smoke or fire.
- Smoke Grenades are portable cover, and can be used to quickly put out fires or neutralise stun gas clouds.
In the late game, Vortex Mines are a must-have item for raiding buildings in the Alien Dimension. These are the only explosives that will destroy the orange re-enforcement pads by placing them on or at least 1 tile away from them. Bring plenty, as they are not always easy to salvage.
Buy up (or seize) as much Marsec Armor as you can and use it to speed up your low strength troops, especially hybrids, since Megapol Armor is very heavy. The chest piece also gives flight, which is a great tactical advantage. In RT, this equates in improved speed, in TB more time units.
As soon as you have Personal Disruptor Shields researched, equip them. Each shield adds an extra layer of (recharging) protection against all types of physical harm. Shields are essentially an extra layer of (recharging) hitpoints. They bring in a new dimension and you can start employing riskier strategies you would never even think to attempt under normal circumstances. Note that shields do not protect against stun gas, psionics or brainsuckers.
To help conserve ammunition, equip a Stun Grapple as your secondary weapon. This serves two functions. First, it gives you a very strong weapon against those annoying close-combat aliens (hyperworms and poppers) and can quickly take down humanoid enemies. Second, it will significantly increase your chances of capturing live aliens, which is essential to developing toxiguns. When not fighting in close quarter combat, keep it stowed in your backpack until it is required so you do not suffer the accuracy penalty.
For general armament, a common practice in RT combat is to have agents arm two of the same weapon. At the cost of lowered accuracy, their rate of fire is increased. Adjusting the firing mode to snap or aimed balances the accuracy with the improved rate of fire. Dual M4000's on aim for example are nearly as rapid but more accurate than a single M4000 on auto. When accuracy is not required, use auto for optimum damage.
stun grenades should be carried in plentiful supply. In addition to stunning aliens, they can be useful for quickly clearing unwanted smoke clouds. In RT, stun damage from stun grenades are administered in two ways. First a small dose of stun is dealt from the impact of the grenade exploding and then from the amount of time the alien spends in the cloud. Blanket an area or serially detonate stun grenades for maximum effect. Aliens in stun gas will always flee from the cloud, momentarily preventing them from shooting at you.
AP grenades are not powerful, but are useful general purpose explosives. They can quickly dispatch groups of small enemies like hyperworms and brainsuckers. In RT, AP grenades are lifesavers for lone agents that find a brainsucker suddenly latching on their head. To remedy this situation: grab an AP grenade and set it to .25 or detonate-on-impact and drop it. Note that you have to access this agents inventory by going through another agent as the soldier being brainsucked will have their open-inventory button temporarily locked.
M4000 Machine Guns are useful general purpose weapons that are effective against most early enemies. They are ideal accuracy trainers thanks to their high rate of fire and low damage, as accuracy improves by the number of successful hits. The Megapol Lawpistol is a stronger substitute, albeit does not have a large clip.
Dual Auto Cannons are exceptionally powerful in the hands of the right troopers. Auto Cannon AP rounds are the most damaging non-explosive rounds you can fire prior to Disrupter guns. High Explosive rounds are powerful and require little accuracy to use effectively. Lone agents can also use it to shoot brainsuckers off their own heads. the Incendiary rounds are useful to set fire to Multiworms to pre-empt hyperworms at the moment they hatch.
Laser sniper guns are weak, but with enough of them trained on the same target, they can deal a decent amount of damage to make it worthwhile. If you really must fight in close quarters with them, consider using dual rifles and switching to auto, or carry a sidearm.
Megapol Plasma Guns, once available or stolen, are great all-rounder weapons with decent accuracy, damage and a high capacity ammunition clip. They can easily fill in for the laser sniper rifle or Auto Cannon/AP roles. Their size make them excellent secondary sidearms before the Toxigun.
As soon as you have Toxiguns, carry them on any mission where you will encounter humanoid aliens. Particularly those armed with shields as toxiguns do not damage them. Toxiguns have a very high firing rate, so there is no benefit to using two at a time. Use the free hand for other equipment or weapons. Against agents and other humans, Toxigun ammo (all three types) deal damage comparable to M4000 rounds. They have the advantage of leaving your troops mostly unable to harm one another if under psionic control (apart from grenades). Sustained fire is still lethal.
Against aliens that do not carry disruptor shields, use Disruptor weapons to conserve Toxigun ammunition. Start with the rapid-fire Disruptor Gun and work up to the Devastator Cannon. Be aware that the Devastator Cannon can cause a lot of collateral damage in city buildings.
Heavy Launchers and Minilaunchers are effective weapons - if somewhat limited in ammunition. Mini Launchers are useful for use (albeit controlled use) in city buildings. Heavy Launchers are good for UFO assaults or other situations where collateral damage is not your main concern. Their hefty punch can aid in softening up tightly packed UFO defenders and Megaspawn. All missiles in Real Time will track their targets. As missiles track their targets in Real Time, high accuracy is not a requirement.
Late game tactical combat is often straightforward. You should plenty of Personal Disruptor Shields, Devastator Cannons and/or Toxiguns, and X-COM Disruptor Armor that you need to take out the enemy easily. When all you want to do is cause a lot of damage, swap toxiguns out for more Devastator Cannons, Dimension Missile Launchers or even Entropy Launchers as required.
Bring the usual assortment of stun weapons to capture aliens you still need to research. Stun Grapples lose their edge as they have no effect against Personal Disrupter Shields, but will continue to work against unshielded aliens and are absolutely essential for capturing Micronoids. Stun Grenades and Mind Benders remain useful.
If you stuck with the game long enough, you can reward yourself with the use of the Personal Teleporter. Teleporters are practically a cheat in Real Time, since they work instantaneously while the game is paused. This means you can pause at the precise moment before a projectile hits, or even while an explosive is detonating, and teleport your agent out of the way. Useful for avoiding missiles, instantly-getting into close proximity with enemies for quick kills, and escaping from any number of tricky situations or to explore areas previously only accessibly by flight. Note that they need time to recharge, so carry multiples or build a stack of them in a safe spot for quick refills. Be prepared for a lot of teleporter juggling.
Although you can fire dual weapons (alternately) with shift-click attacks, there's little value in dual wielding in TB as you do not get any TU cost reductions. Two-handed weapons should be fired with nothing in the other hand to increase accuracy; since moving things in your inventory is free you can just keep any secondary weapon in your backpack. This also means you can feel free to bring a stun grapple and equip it as necessary, but be careful of weight.
Marsec M4000 Machine Guns and to a lesser extent the Lawpistol are very useful early game weapons thanks to their high rate of fire. Given an agent has a low enough max TU level, an auto shot will only cost 1TU for the M4000, or 2TU for the Lawpistol. Agents may often find it more effective to spend some TUS to run up to their enemy, switch to auto and fill enemies with bullets and not worry about accuracy. As accuracy is trained based on number of hits, machinegunners tend to train fast.
Auto-cannons are very effective weapons in the early game because their explosive ammo is still quite effective in the hands of agents with poor accuracy. Auto-cannons maintain their effectiveness right through the game against two important enemies - Brainsuckers and Poppers. Auto-cannons are the only weapon that can effectively give reaction fire with explosive rounds, making them good for taking out Brainsuckers, Poppers and Hyperworms as they charge. Near-misses will often result in a kill. Your starting armor is very effective, so shooting HE at point blank range won't hurt too much (though switching to AP ammo is free anyway). The downside is that throwing explosives around will cause property damage, destroy artifacts and kill stunned aliens.
AP, stun and smoke grenades should be standard issue for everyone. Grenades are great for low accuracy agents to get kills on Hyperworms and Brainsuckers. Stun grenades cause a lot more 1-hit KOs in TB mode, making them superior to AP grenades as a fallback. Drop smoke frequently to protect agents against return fire and to get closer with machine guns and stun grapples. A soldier can prime and drop a smoke grenade at their feet with 0 TUs, so an agent who finds himself in a vulnerable position at the end of a turn can give himself smoke cover.
Equipping some Laser Sniper Guns in the hands of your high accuracy soldiers can work well, allowing them to kill enemies at long range, especially small enemies like Brainsuckers and Hyperworms. The downside is that their accuracy training is poor and their damage is easily the lowest in the game. Most combat in Apocalypse is short-to-medium range, so it's difficult for snipers to get good vantage points unless they fly (this has an accuracy penalty). Replace your Laser Sniper Guns with Plasma Guns as they become available; they're not quite as accurate, but they pack more punch and more ammo, making them much more effective against tougher aliens.
Once you research Toxiguns they'll become an important weapon in your arsenal. They have mediocre accuracy, but their fire rate more than makes up for it, surpassing the M4000. They should replace any M4000 Machine Guns and some Auto Cannons. Keep some ACs around for their HE ammo capability, preferably on Androids so they can't be used against you through psionics or brainsucking. Provided you research and manufacture Toxiguns as soon as possible you will find the alien Disruptor Gun little more than a side show.
Heavy Launchers and Minilaunchers are useful weapons to pick up. A shot at a location can miss, but a shot at a unit will home and always hit. This makes Minilaunchers extremely useful for those shots you can't afford to miss like your last shot of the turn against a Popper, Brainsucker or Hyperworm swarm. Heavy launchers can fulfill the same role, but take more TUs to fire and are extremely bulky and heavy.
Use Proximity Mines and Boomeroids for Brainsucker and Popper defence when you're camping a corridor or UFO entrance.
Disruptor armor will neatly solve your weight problems and allow even your lowest strength soldiers to be armed to the teeth. In TB your ability to charge up to a Megaspawn or Psimorph and toxigun it to death without it shooting back makes them considerably easier than in RT, such that even late game your most credible threats remain the lowly Brainsucker and Popper.
Toxigun agents equipped with Teleporters make the rest of the game a joke. Despite the heavy TU cost, agents can teleport to alien spawn points and kill them on turn 1.
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.
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.