Turn-Based Combat (Apocalypse)
Turn-Based Combat (TB) uses the same mechanism as the previous X-COM games, where both sides will play in separate turns. During each turn every unit's actions will be limited to the number of time units it possesses. It also features reaction fire where units may fire in reaction to enemy moves, if they ended their turn with enough time units to fire.
Turn Based Features
- In TB you have plenty of time to plan your moves and think about your next strategy. Though this is the same in RT thanks to the pause facility, the action in is not being acted out simultaneously. This can be very beneficial if you have a friend or two over and want to play a hot-seat co-op game.
- Your side will be moving single or selections of units at any given time while the world around them is at a standstill (mostly - until the enemies use reaction fire). This gives you more freedom to execute maneuvers against specific enemy targets or important structural features rather than have to worry about everything that's happening around you all at once.
- One good example of this is when you are attempting to stun and capture a difficult enemy like the Megaspawn. Though they aren't impossible to capture in RT with the right strategy, it can be a lot easier to do it when the big wall of missiles and Disruptor beams isn't shooting back at you!
- This cuts both ways unfortunately, as when the enemy takes its turn, your units will be all but helpless except for their reaction fire. This can spell disaster with an enemy like the Popper if you react when it's too close. Agents with no TUs, low reaction will make ripe pickings for Brainsuckers and poppers, causing the loss rate to increase considerably.
- Note that in vanilla Apocalypse, TU are limited to 25% at the end of a turn. This makes reserving more TU for reaction fire useless.
Turn Based Combat
- Grenade settings work differently in TB. Your timer starts to work by turns and also includes the blast on impact command. Like RT, you can still access this immediately with the left-click shortcut for priming instead of right-clicking.
- Lasting area effect weapons like the stun gas and anti-alien gas require their victims to be moving through the cloud in order for the effects to occur. Standing still will not cause them to be affected. The AI's not that smart, but the player can make use of this to keep their agents in relative safety while surrounded by gas clouds. This does not necessarily apply to fire.
Stun Gas A bug in turn based mode causes stun damage to be calculated from full TUs, rather than the amount of TUs spent in the cloud. This means that agents with full TU bars take little stun damage, but spending their last few TUs will almost immediately knock them out. This effect can be minimized by making a single move action out of the cloud, or maximized by shooting with your last TUs.
Smoke CloudsIn turn-based mode these are your primary defensive weapon. Aliens will stop attacks against targets they can not see, and might resume their patrols or charge in to engage. This makes it very effective at closing distance with aliens, so that rookies can efficiently use full auto weapons. Drop smoke at the end of your turn to prevent return fire as your agents move forward.
In Turn Based, each attack is an action requiring TUs and Psi Energy, and the effect takes effect right away. This is not too dissimilar to how it functioned in previous XCOM games, except that you require line of sight.
Stun damage is applied immediately. Morale damage is applied, and the enemy may panic at its next panic test (likely the beginning of its next turn). When Mind Controlled the unit is placed under your control for the remainder of your turn and the enemy's next turn.
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 a mediocre accuracy of 40,15 points lower than the plasma pistol, but their fire rate more than makes up for it, surpassing the M4000. They should replace any M4000 Machine Guns and some Auto Cannons. Consider keeping some ACs around for their HE and IN ammo capability, preferably on Androids so they can't be used against you through psionics or brainsucking, or use mini launchers if you can afford them. 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.