How I played TFTD
I'm running the Xcomutil flavor of the game, where Gauss weapons are useful well into the game, and where boring engagements may be atomatically resolved. I'm also not above some save-and-reload cheating.
Until now, I followed the manufacturer line of play: research Gauss Cannon, build a major production plant, and have your factories pay for further expansion. Somehow that's cheesy. I also noticed thatthe organisation would effectively explode during March and April, all of a sudden there's listening posts everywhere and 200+ scientists and whatnot and in June, I'd be basically done – only that the troops aren't ready yet to catch a Lobsterman Commander from an alien base without severe losses. From the fights they fought they have gained barely enough experience to come out like top-of-the-line freshmen, and PSI training has just started.
This seems to be mismanagment: shouldn't one employ a number of eggheads from early on and do research as it comes in? Especially, I felt like I should try to get MC Labs built as soon as possible. Training takes two to three months anyway, and if I have to sack an otherwise promising Aquanaut, I'd also like to know this before summer.
Initial base in the Mediterranean, named Malta.
The standards: kick out one interceptor, sell all heavy weapons. Build another Lab, two quarters, a long range sonar. Hire as many aquanauts as possible and keep only who scores more than 50 on both firing accuracy and reactions. Finally I could afford another 10 scientists.
By Jan-15, I had salvaged two alien subs. I sold practically everything except Zrbite, even plastics and power source. The cash allowed me to build another base, Bermuda (US coverage), and hire another 10 scientists and technicians each. All told there were four Subs in January; by the end of the month, Bermuda had two General stores and a Wide Array Sonar in the making.
Research: Gauss tech, Gauss Pistol, PD Sensor, Gauss Rifle. The Sensor only so that the techs have something halfways meaningful to do when there's no other task at hand.
On the first terror mission my team was equipped with Gauss pistols and tasers.
D'oh: the terror mission yielded Deep Ones, but no MC reader. So I could develop MC Labs, but I'd run into a tech tree dead end if I did.
Staff was brought up to 60 Scientists and 20 Technicians. No construction in Malta; Bermuda will build two Workshops and Quarters each. 2.5 Million left in the bank.
No Aliens sighted In Europe; by Feb-8 the Graphs show activity in the south pacific. So I set up a new base there (Pitcairn) and immediately build Large Scanners, a Sub Pen and Stores; once the stores are done, a Small Sonar, Alien Containment and Quarters follow. The Triton is constantly Cruising in the South Pacific and actually manages to spot three subs (and thanks to some save-and-reload catches one, which pays for some of the facilities on Pitcairn).
Next Terror Mission on Feb-27 is again a Gillman Port attack. This time I get the MC reader. Work on the Transmission resolver is immediately canceled in favor of MC labs. Research finished in February: Deep One Corpse, Aqua Plastics, Ion Beam Accelerator, Deep One Terrorist, Magnetic Navigation.
The Triton & Crew is relocated to Pitcairn; lease & wages are forgotten while crossing the dateline. Something similar happens to Scientists and Engineers.
I'm short on funds, especially when considering that I will soon need to build two MC Labs; so staff is only brought up to 100 Scientists, 40 Technicians. Another Workshop in Bermuda (total 3). Transmission Resolvers will be due by mid-March, but hopefully can be paid for by raiding more aliens subs.
Pitcairn has struck gold! A constant stream of small and medium Aquatoid vessels. PSI-wise, I seem to have been lucky. After leaving the two soldiers at home that caused so much trouble during the first mission, the next two that constantly come under PSI attack resist most of the time (and at worst panic); no alien control. The income allows me to build *four* MC labs in time to be ready by April, two in Malta and two in Pitcairn. Both will be staffed with 20 of the best rookies money can buy (I hired 100 and sacked 64), eventually I hope to have two strike teams of 12-14 soldiers each, and one of those teams should be PSI resistant. Though seeing how twelve of the initial soldiers appear to be good enough, I may get lucky and end up with two calm teams.
Which will be needed: There's also quite some alien activity in the north atlantic; if this is any indication for things to come, one strike team won't suffice to handle it all, even if I had faster subs. The lone interceptor from Malta manages to down a few, which turn out to be Lobstermen. With Gauss Rifles and no armor, I let most of them alone. By the end of the month, the lobstermen build a base right next to Bermuda. It's painful to see a large number of juicy prizes touched down and be unable to do anything about it.
Still, there's nine Aquatoid UFOs recovered (six by autocombat). I hold back almost 10 Million for investments on March 1, but still the revenue allows me to build Listening Posts in Diego Garcia, Guam and St. Helena. And plenty of Workshops. And another Lab. and and and. Soon I will have coverage of 80% of the globe. And I'm confident that the rest will soon be taken care of, too.
It's about time that I get some advanced subs. Watching the whole globe will do me little good if I can't reach every point in time. However, Armor will be most important, as well as Hvy Gauss, so autocombat works against Lobstermen too.
Research in March (100 Scientists):
MC Lab, Transmission Resolver, Ion Armor, Mag Ion Armor, Hvy Gauss & Clip. Gauss Cannon in the works.
(Gauss Cannon is sort of a detour; but I will soon have plenty of technicians, so the cash cow item seems to be a good idea. I'll also want Sonic Pulsers soon. Given that I'll also employ 150 Scientists, this will delay the Hammerhead by (at worst) 15 days or so.)
By April 5, I will have one squad equipped with Mag Ion armor.
Two Terror missions during march: Gillman Island attack (yawn) and a raid on a shipping line. As I step out of the Triton, I see a Tasoth. Looking at my insufficient equipment, I shoot that one, step back and call it a day.
"Make one of your first bases cover the US of A" is decent, but not the best strategy. What do you want with a base there, if the aliens are elsewhere?
Apparently during the first month, Alien activity will take place wherever you built your starting base. But from February, you're on your own. However, alien activity in any given area will start off small and last like two or three months until the big vessels arrive. Keeping some cash at hand, watching the activity graph and build a base ASAP seems to be an excellent approach. You'll be late on the scene, but still in time to catch quite a few medium or large alien vessels.
Triton observation can serve as a crutch in the meantime; it would probably have worked better had the theater not been literally at the far end of the globe. When the Triton got there, it had barely enough fuel left to cruise for two or three hours. If it was closer, leasing another Triton might prove a good investment: it will pay off after the first sub you salvage. If it was closer, I'd probably not have needed the Sub Pen & stuff, as anywhere else would have been in range of the home base.
Anyway, once the base was up, harvesting aliens yielded much more than I could have made by manufacturing Gauss Cannon; at (slightly) less expense, too. The savings were mostly channeled into research. The workforce was small, but sufficient to provide me with all I needed. It didn't take me any longer until my troops were equipped with flying suits: more time to actually manufacture them, but that was made up for by faster research.
I had to give another lobsterman vessel the pass, but now it's training time. With Flying Suits and Hvy Gauss, the troops stand a reasonable chance against the lobsters. It takes like six hits to kill one, but they hurt. Lobsters aren't the best marksmen to begin with, when injured they won't hit a barn door at close quarters; besides, the armor offers my men a decent change of taking no damage even when hit. If they're ever shot at, that is: being off the ground, I can afford to let them approach in dense ranks. Inevitably, the lobsters throw grenades (which won't hurt my men) and are open to return fire. Main problem is that this is getting old soon – I could auto-resolve most fights, but wouldn't gain half as much experience that way.
Having two squads is absolutely vital, by the way. I've never played on superhuman difficulty before, and I have to admit it's nasty. It never rains but it pours: after acouple of days without sighting you get several at once. I hope to have Hammerheads by the end of the month, until then I'd actually need four squads to deal with every enemy craft.
- Can it be that damage-per-shot also depends on firing accuracy? My rookies require 8+ hits per Lobsterman, while the (relative) veterans manage to kill them with 3-5. As both teams are carrying the same weapons, this must be either chance (well possible with a sample of merely 15 dead lobsters) or experience pays off in other respects as well.