Talk:Alien Missions

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I'm curious, can people tell me if the aliens will ONLY retaliate against bases if the player is shooting down UFO's, and won't retaliate against the player always attacking UFO's while landed.

Having recently tried Superhuman for the first time, I was caught off-guard when the aliens retaliated against a base in early March for me shooting a single UFO down (in February, I think) near that base. It wasn't even in the same country... I got the impression that simply being in the same world-region draws the attack.

I decided to restart the game from scratch, disbanded all my interceptors, and only attacked UFO's using Avengers following them until they landed... this actually worked extremely well... I have the alien menace under control so far, and I've saved tons of money by not having interceptors, avalanche missiles, hangars, and all the other support infrastructure.

However, I'm actually a little disappointed that the game lets you get away with this no-intercept strategy. I think next game I will come up with a strategy to go back to interceptors with "hardened" bases very early in the game (though how I'll get cash for that, I have no idea).

If I were to come up with one improvement to the game, it would be to make air-superiority more essential throughout the game... I would make the UFO's "aggro" vs. Skyrangers -- if they spot a nearby Skyranger they will attack and destroy it! Later in the game, I would make the Battleship ALWAYS attack any SLOWER craft it spots in the air... the idea is to wear down the player's air assets and knock him out of the sky. As the game currently is, you really don't need air-superiority if you have ground-superiority!

Eric 21:57, 12 July 2006 (PDT)

I've had more or less the same experience as you with Retaliations: after shooting down only one UFO, I got regular visits from a Retaliation scout on that continent.

Ground Assault-only works pretty well, but there are several cases where Interception is preferable:

  • When the UFO doesn't make a landing at all (Retaliation scouts don't, for instance, and bigger ships often don't know where to land if you kill their scouts beforehand);
  • Infiltration missions (4 or more ships show up at once, and unless you have 4+ Skyrangers, you'll need to shoot down one or more craft); Harvesters often show up in pairs, too;
  • Distance (unless you've got multiple Skyrangers posted around the world, you might not be able to reach a UFO before it takes off again);
  • Night missions (If the UFO arrives at its target at dusk, it'll probably leave before daybreak; it's easier to down it, then storm it at your leisure);
  • Terror Ships (I bloody hate terror missions).

--Ethereal Cereal 10:31, 12 July 2006 (PDT)

To be fair, after running a few non-related tests that involved getting a HWD from the very start, I have noticed that the very first UFO you spot can begin on retaliation mission.

Interceptions - or rather - shoot-downs do attract them, that's for sure.


I ran into the "latency" issue with using Skyrangers, but came up with a workaround: I figured out each month what region the aliens were focusing on -- Australasia in February 1999, for example. My main (first) base with my Skyranger was on the NORTH POLE!!!, so obviously catching a UFO scout picked up on radar over Australasia before it disappeared was extremely unlikely -- a 12 hour one-way trip -- and if I did it would probably be at night anyway. Well, my workaround was, once I figured out Australasia was "targeted", I would send the Skyranger down there on a regular schedule, timed to arrive an hour or two before dawn -- the immense fuel capacity of the Skyranger allows it to loiter on station, over Australia, for over 12 hours before returning. It would then spend the next 12 hours or so refueling and then be ready for the next mission -- thus I could have a Skyranger in the region of alien activity during daylight every other day. Turns out the aliens would frequently show up early in the day and land during daylight with the Skyranger right nearby -- I snagged several UFO's on the ground in Australasia this way.

Another strategy I came up with was placing my bases specifically to be equidistant around the globe -- the idea being to pick up the UFO's far outside the target region -- South Asia in March, for example, is picked up over New Zealand -- giving me plenty of warning to launch a Skyranger... by the time the UFO has picked a landing spot, the Skyranger is close enough to snag it on the ground during daytime. My bases are on the north/south poles, baja california, north africa, taiwan, fiji, paraguay, and madagascar -- roughly on the tropics every 60 degrees. I have Skyrangers based from the poles -- the rest are listening posts (and eventually interceptor bases).

Eric 21:57, 12 July 2006 (PDT)

Interesting approach. In terms of global coverage, I usually wait until I've got the Hyper-Wave to build most of my bases. One per continent generally does the trick.

Could you detail your build-out sequence more? When do you build additional bases, how many Skyrangers do you have, and when do you acquire them?

--Ethereal Cereal 22:58, 13 July 2006 (PDT)

Yeah I'm currently torn regarding the hyperwave decoder issue... not too long after I get my bases built, the radar systems become "obsolete".

The idea is to have a "picket defense" -- rather than putting a base smack in the middle of each "high value" country, distribute bases evenly and try to pick up enemy UFO's inbound when they're far away from the high value country, and (eventually once the bases are built up) I can send multiple interceptors to converge on the UFO, because I have plenty of advance warning on where it is going.

OK, to detail my build plan: I build X-ARCTICOM first -- what can I say, I'm a fan of symmetry... it also has the benefit of being at the "center" of the northern hemisphere. I of course build an Alien Containment facility on day one. In my current game, I scrapped the third hangar and the 2nd interceptor... but if I had to do it over, strictly from a "winning" standpoint, I would scrap both of the southern hangars and both interceptors... the Skyranger is all that's required early on. But, I'm starting to think the no-intercept approach is a little cheesy so I'm trying to work out how to play the game "honest" while still maintaining my basic strategy.

On day one, I begin construction of X-NOAMERICOM, on the southern tip of Baja California. All future bases are added as money becomes available, but I give them extremely high priority in terms of funding... each base gets just long range and short range radars -- they are listening posts. The idea is, I'm trying to prevent the aliens from having any open spots they can harrass with impunity early in the game (my first Superhuman game, Australia signed a non-aggression pact in either February or March). As funding becomes availabe, the buildout is as follows:

X-NOAFRICOM (on the Prime Meridian and the Tropic of Cancer -- saharan desert)

X-SEASIACOM (western tip of Taiwan -- the closest I could get to E120 degrees)

X-AUSTRALCOM (actually in Fiji, closest to the international date line and Tropic of Capricorn)

X-SOAMERICOM (roughly paraguay -- W60 degrees and Tropic of Capricorn)

X-SOAFRICOM (Madagascar, closest to E60 degrees and Tropic of Capricorn)

X-ANTARCTICOM (south pole)

Technically the latitudes should be a tad closer to the equator to be truly equidistant (I worked the trig out once) but the tropic circles are easy to find on a map, have a pleasing simplicity to them, and the "high value real estate" is closer to the poles than the equator anyway, so nudging the bases a little closer to the poles works just fine.

The idea is to build a mirror of X-ARCTICOM down at X-ANTARCTICOM -- again, this provides both redundancy and also makes it easier to cover the southern hemisphere.

As I happened to play the game I only had one Skyranger until I built up X-ANTARCTICOM, but if I did it over again, I would probably go with two per polar base and 20 soldiers at each base -- enough for 10 men + 1 HWP per Skyranger. Then once X-ANTARCTICOM was built I would transfer one of the veteran squads from X-ARCTICOM down south and draft some new soldiers for both bases.

But, the idea is to give the the listening posts absolute top priority. Also, I've found that it's not ineffective to build small+large radars prior to the invention of the hyperwave decoder... they do the job... just not as well as the HWD. If I had to do things over, actually, I would postpone HWD research for better interceptor tech... and then once I have great interceptor bases, I would worry about having perfect UFO detection. Not that I'm opposed to HWD's... it's just a question of priorities. It's also more in keeping with what the game designers intended... they expected us to have to slug it out with simple radar tech for a while.

Eric 17:44, 14 July 2006 (PDT)

More info on mission waves

Every mission wave will be carried out by one alien race, typically in one continental zone over one month. Regular mission waves will consist of just a few small ships, increasing in size. These are the bread and butter missions for X-COM. Retalition waves consist of a series of scouts, increasing in size, ending with a battleship. If any of them detects the base then a new battleship will head straight for the base and attack it, otherwise the retaliation wave ends harmlessly.

The medium sized harvester and research ships have a different pattern, the same ships landing repeatedly until you deal with them. Large terror ships arrive once a month to terrorise cities but can also make extra unexplained flights without landing.

Alien bases are usually constructed by the simultaneous landing of a small ship, two large supply ships, and a battleship in the same zone. It's a good idea to recover at least the small ship to see what type of alien is building the base. Thereafter, two supply ships each month fly quickly into the base and depart, too quick for interceptors and distant skyrangers. - Egor

Something I noticed from a game I played when I made all my bases nearly impregnable with Fusion Ball Defenses and Grav Shields: The aliens seem to have a limited queue of missions. Since they were unable to break into any of my bases and had a large number of bases on Earth, the only missions I ever saw were Battleships on retaliation runs and Supply Ships on supply runs. On my newer file, where I use garrisons instead of flak, I see a lot of different types of ships on different types of missions.

--Dumas 13:36, 8 November 2006 (PST)

That is the FIRST decent reason I have seen to build base defense and avoid the tactical battles. With no infiltration or terror missions to worry about, the game becomes a lot easier. I wonder if the scenario can be easily reproduced?

- Bomb Bloke 14:32, 8 November 2006 (PST)

I think I only managed to get the defenses up after I'd lost almost all the funding countries to infiltration. It definitely did cut down on the Terror missions, though. The Harvest, Abduction, etc. also went down a lot. The large amount of research required to obtain Fusion Balls would make it impractical, I think. You would need to assault an Alien Base or large UFO (I'm not sure which ones carry Blasters) for the Blaster Launcher (or take one on a base defense mission). The Grav Shield requires even more time for development since it follows the Lightning. And of course you have to do research for armour and troop weapons, too.

Add on top of that the high cost of the defenses ($1.2Mil for the Shield, $800K per Launcher...say, $5.2Mil for five Launchers and a Shield) and the month-long construction, and I'm not so sure that base defense missions are worth avoiding. Also, the Battle ships seemed to come every five minutes or so.

--Dumas 15:01, 8 November 2006 (PST)

It sounds like good points, both ways... it sounds potentially really interesting, but it's also true that timing is everything... Many of us can probably get to a stable place where we've usually retained every country by the time we have the Hyperwave, ships, and men to shoot down or let land anything we want... At which point the cash is also rolling in and lots of defenses can be made... But once you reach that point, it becomes kind of moot, the need to channel UFO waves away from infiltration and terror... Hmm. Unless one is playing particular self-imposed variants (like, no Psi attacking), the rush for Hyperwave, Psi, and Avenger is probably the quickest course to domination. Hmm... - MikeTheRed 15:39, 8 November 2006 (PST)

Retaliation Tradeoffs

Some people seem to indicate that shooting down a Retaliation Scout will intensify retaliation efforts, as if in some cases it's better to just hope the scout doesn't find the base. This seems a little strange on the surface, given there's already a retaliation mission underway, and in the end the key is to prevent the scout from finding your base -- shooting it down would seem to guarantee that.

However, I also read that retaliation scouting is performed by a series of ever larger craft until they find the base.

This makes me wonder if perhaps what's really going on is that shooting down a smaller scout will cause the next-larger and more dangerous scout to quickly appear... so it accelerates the escalation of retaliation scouting efforts by the aliens. I'm guessing that perhaps the larger the scouting UFO, the better its base detection capabilities. Perhaps you're better off risking a small scout wasting time looking, than to shoot down several UFO's until you have battleships scouting the area and posing a far greater threat.

The upshot being, if you have total air-superiority -- HWD coverage spotting everything, backed up by plenty of heavily armed Firestorms/Avengers to knock anything and everything immediately out of the sky -- go ahead and actively thwart the retaliation scouting missions, but if you only have limited air-defenses, you're better off crossing your fingers that they don't spot your base before the end of the month (the retaliation scouting mission terminates at the end of the month, yes?).

Eric 13:59, 9 December 2006 (PST)

  • If the scout does not find your base, shooting down a retaliation scout has the same effect as shooting down any other UFO: the next retaliation scout UFO is delayed. Shooting down anything near your base can start a series of Retalation Scouts, as can simply scoring a lot of points.
  • If your base is not found by any UFOs in the Retaliation mission series in MISSIONS.DAT (including the searching Battleships), the series will end normally.
  • I do not know what the representation of a base being targeted for a base defense mission is, in the save files. It seems to be more of a fact about a base.

-- Zaimoni 17:07, 10 December 2006 (CST)

LOL... I should have known that it was a waste of time for me to speculate on the inner workings of the game, when this group has already thoroughly dissected the game files and know how almost all of it works. Reading that MISSION.DAT page almost ruined the game for me... I'll have to make sure not to study it too much... the amazing thing about X-COM for me was always the mysterious behavior of the aliens.

Eric 07:13, 11 December 2006 (PST)

Retaliation and Defenses

Once your base is located, they will continuously send Battleships at the base until one breaks through your defences. They will not stop until this happens.

Does this mean that base defenses are all basically valueless (except maybe Mind Shield), unless you basically want to get stuck with a constant stream of battleships attacking you over and over leaving little room for anything else to happen in the game (probably make for a very high score I guess)?

I have never really bothered with defenses because its more interesting to do the base defense missions to vary things from time to time, but seems a little odd that it is set up like this. Would the retaliations stop at the end of a month?

--Sfnhltb 00:26, 4 March 2007 (PST)

That is correct. They just keep coming until one comes through. Well, one for each group of aliens targeting that base, that is. I think we have discussed either on the wiki or on one of our associated web forums that destroying the battleship this way does not generate any activity points. But getting more concrete data always helps.
The only real benefit of having impenetrable base defenses would be if you need some time to prepare for the battle, either through getting more soldiers, more equipment or going so far as to reshape the corridor layout in your base. Once you're ready, reduce the effectiveness of your defences and have at it.
It suddenly occurs to me that since base defenses don't reduce the number of aliens that show up unless they shoot down the battleship altogether (right?), then they're totally useless unless they're impenetrable (and then you'll have to see the base defenses screen constantly).--Ethereal Cereal 02:29, 4 March 2007 (PST)
Well like a lot of things, if a battleship is destroyed by defenses is left up to chance. I've seen 3 Fusion defense hits take out a battleship, and 3 hits that don't. If you have less than optimal defenses like say 2 Fusion defenses and a shield (effectively 4 fusions) you will repel a good amount of attacks on the base, and hopefully the first one in case you didn't know it was coming (which I guess is absurd as you should have HWDs if you have good enough defenses) or you're not prepared for a battle (those HWPs aren't built quite yet). Hopefully the first few times the attack wouldn't get through, but in time it should. I remember Tsereve complaining how the aliens got through his defenses (which were pretty good, 3 or 4 fusion balls and a grav shield). The likely-hood of them penetrating it was less than a percent (I think). So I guess they are never truly 'impenetrable', but it's easy to get improbable odds.
It's kind of a wacky theory or situation to need it though, by the time you have these uber-defenses, the aliens should be putty in your hand. All in all I believe you get zip for shooting down a UFO this way, not even score (if there is a score it's little and less than the score from saving your base). Compare that to the spoils of the base defense and it seems rather obvious. I'll admit that I don't like base defense missions (especially early on) as I seem to do bad with them (getting better).
If I get around to working on PyXCOM some more, one of the things I'm hoping to 'add' is that base defenses will lower the number of aliens seen in combat, by simply 'simulating' the damage they would do and removing aliens before combat. (Exact scaling of such reduction I'm not sure of)
My 2 cents --Pi Masta 18:51, 4 March 2007 (PST)
If the next battleship in the sequence had to find out the previous was blown up, prep, and come into earth with a few hours delay then I could see some point to them, as you could marshal your defenses to some extent while the first few are knocked out, transfer across some soldiers and weapons etc, and then let them in (which I guess if you had big enough defenses to hold them off, would probably involved disbanding your grav shield or something, which is fairly extreme thing to have to do). With it being a few minutes, it would just be a drag to have to wait out hundreds of battleship attacks while you got ready. And the same point you made - how can you have that much air defense in a base, but not enough ground defense, its far cheaper and easier to get together some soldiers, a few half decent weapons, and a few hwps on each base and beat up them up the first time they come for any reasonable strategy I can think of. --Sfnhltb 19:03, 4 March 2007 (PST)
Mostly my point was the "lesser" defenses are really pretty pointless: you either build a superdefense or it's useless (provided you like watching the defense screen repeatedly anyway). One aspect of the game the devs failed to tune right. Can't complain; base defense is still fun.--Ethereal Cereal 00:56, 5 March 2007 (PST)

What does it take for Alien Infiltration to be successful?

- I (tequilachef) had the following situation: After two failed attempts to infiltrate China (I had shot down every single UFO participating in the infiltrations, even the battleships) one single battleship returned on an infiltration mission (i am absolutely certain China was not infiltrated at this point). I shot down the UFO over India and checked the area for an alien base just to be certain... China had been infiltrated. Then I tried the following: I reloaded an savegame about 2-3 days before the battleship turned up. I ordered my Avengers (8 in total) to take up positions all over the globe. Even when shooting down the craft rigth after entering the atmosphere and thereby sending it to the ground of the antarctic sea (which is about 10.000 miles from China) the infiltration was successful. This made me wonder how infiltration works. My most intelligent guess was that even infiltration attempts that fail get the aliens some "infiltration points" for that specific country or area, depending on how long the UFOs are operational. This would explain why there was just one craft on that mission and why infiltrating China was sucessful. The ailens were only short very few points! My question to all the X-COM scientists around here: have you discovered the mechanics behind infiltration? Have you seen similar situations?

Zombie says, "According to my preliminary results, Russia cannot be infiltrated in the CE version of X-COM so losing the game by this method is impossible." (Jun 16, 2005, StrategyCore forums)

Several players have however offered a different opinion on this matter and have lost Russia.

Precident from alien base operations would suggest that the infiltration occurs when the last UFO enters earth atmosphere--(name here) 09:15, 27 August 2008 (PDT)

For every single other (non-retaliation) mission, shooting down a ship doesn't stop the next ships from arriving, it ONLY delays them. However, shooting them down can keep the aliens from scoring points, or prevent them from deploying a terror mission or building a base. (Right? They don't repeat those if shot down, correct?) What about infiltration missions, though? The battleships don't need to land to be successful. Are you doomed to suffer infiltration no more than two months after the mission is initiated, and keep losing countries like that forever? Sowelu 20:39, 4 March 2011 (EST)

How do missions work

I'd like to know how missions work. In previous games (back in the 90s) I've seen quite a few abductors and harvesters. Now, not a single one. Is it possible that my early interception has become too good? Will the aliens cancel missions? Alternatively: in MISSIONS.DAT it says that downing one UFO will delay the arrival of the next one on the same mission... is there a maximum time per mission, so if the last ships are delayed too long they won't come at all?

All I see once HWDs are up are retaliation, infiltration, and terror missions. Incidentally, neither of these can be prevented by downing scouts. So is it just bad luck when I never get a harvest or abduction mission? --Schnobs 16:00, 29 October 2007 (PDT)

The maximum time to the next UFO in a series seems to be on the order of three weeks (this is a soft number). Note that Terror sites can be prevented by downing Terrorships. If there indeed is a "maximum missions at once" limit (don't have hard confirmation), Infiltration will clog things up eventually because it loops back instead of terminating. --Zaimoni 11:11, 30 October 2007 (CDT)

Supply mission probabilities

Every day, each alien base has a 5% chance of spawning a supply mission. If someone wants to play with this, the probability is dictated here (gold edition):

.text:00441DC6 cmp     ax, 6
.text:00441DCA jnb     short continue

Seb76 11:28, 9 March 2008 (PDT)

Alien Origins, Martian Solution, Cydonia/Bust

They aren't alien missions. Can we move them to a separate page? I don't know the wiki code to do it though. Same goes for the template.

Simple enough - copy and paste the relevant bits, then paste the contents into a new article. Edit the old article to remove the bits you moved. Voila!
To edit any templates that are used in a page, open that page's edit screen, then check the bottom. You'll see a list of templates that are currently in use by the page since the last save. Click on them to bring any of them up and then edit them as you would a normal page.
With the above topics though, they are probably better covered in the research section or any section that covers missions that you can go on, like terror missions or base attacks. On the other hand, they are also not listed on the page as alien missions and just listed as related topics. They do lead to the end-game mission, which is a mission certainly but not a job the UFOs perform. -NKF 03:02, 30 July 2009 (EDT)

It certainly doesn't belong in the Alien Missions template or page, since there's no relation either through Alien Navigators or in terms of needing the mission data for the game-ending research. It really belongs in a separate page, maybe "Alien Research"? After all, that's what the UFOpaedia category is called, and AO/tMS/CoB are more Alien Research-ish than the Alien Mission data. So I'd want to move "Alien Research" to "Alien Research (Alien Mission)" and create a separate page for the AO/tMS/CoB called "Alien Research". This ok? And would it be worth listing the TFTD AO/tUT/T,tA'sC there too? Magic9mushroom 05:36, 31 July 2009 (EDT)

I agree the Research discussions don't really belong on this page. But rather than creating a new page, there is already a category page "Research", which is linked from the site homepage, and also from this page in the See Also section. The various articles linked-to off this category page cover most of the topics you're discussing. I would suggest instead that you review those articles and see if anything needs adding to clarify these issues around Alien Origins etc - quite possibly they do need updating. I'm not sure it makes sense to add a new page called Alien Research - with a few exceptions (the laser weapons, medkits, motion sensors), all Research is Alien Research of one kind or another. So possibly remove the references from the current page and replace them with a very brief summary and pointer(s) to the appropriate Research page(s)? Spike 10:07, 2 August 2009 (EDT)

They do sort of form a unit, but maybe it's covered sufficiently elsewhere on the site. The reason I thought of such a name was because it's research into the aliens themselves (ie where are they from, what are they doing, how do we stop them). Magic9mushroom 08:27, 4 August 2009 (EDT)

Yes the "Research into the nature of the Alien threat" is conceptually related. It's almost the opposite of what's on this page, which is the Aliens' own activities. I think a cross-reference to Research is what is needed, and maybe an edit to a Research page (or a new Research page) to specifically discuss these related topics. Spike 12:57, 4 August 2009 (EDT)

UFOs over Russia

Just a comment on the last update:

UFOs do appear over Russia. It's the withdrawal of Russia as a funding nation that is difficult to achieve. -NKF 15:46, 6 January 2012 (EST)