Classic Ironman An Army Of Four (EU2012)
Enemy Within & Slingshot
The An Army Of Four achievement is not available without EW. The Slingshot DLC gives the following advantages: More experience, one key additional plasma rifle, a medium high-Aim Heavy soldier (which can fill a hole and be a backup unit on Base Defense), easy massive cash infusion, and easy Fusion Core loot (otherwise only available when shooting down Battleships late-game). Disadvantages are one or two tricky missions which must be handled carefully and must be prepared for with either impeccable game-play, luck, or very specific soldier abilities that make them much easier.
Operation Progeny gives extra loot, experience and several guaranteed psi-soldiers.
Tutorial Options & Second Wave
The basic Tutorial gives you some advantages. The disadvantages is that you cannot skip the cut-scenes, it makes rerolling your first soldiers and starting base configuration extremely time-consuming. If you've gotten to the point where you're even considering a Classic or 'An Army Of Four' Ironman attempt, then you likely have little patience for baby step-by-baby step instructions.
The Meld Tutorial is extremely advantageous, on the border to outright cheating, and should always be taken. It's extremely fast, gives two easy Meld pickups and makes the first mission carry almost zero risk, given that several alien pods (hereafter referred to as 'pulls') are single-alien groups.
New Economy makes it easy to increase the first month's income.
Not Created Equally makes it easy to get at least one 80-Aim soldier on the first mission. Focusing on leveling a few 80-Aim soldiers will drastically affect the use and deadliness of Heavy class soldiers, which otherwise suffer from low Offensive stat increases.
Training Roulette makes soldier skills more unpredictable but the game exponentially more replayable. Highly recommended for the returning player.
Aiming Angles takes away some of the cartoonish boardgame-style of the original game in favour of a more realistic simulation of actual tactics. However, it does not much affect the difficulty of the game, though it may make it slightly easier.
Rerolling first mission
Ideally you will have two soldiers with 80 Aim with Not Created Equally, for a significant chance of one of them being a Heavy. Two soldiers with 75 Aim is an easier target, given that you will have options for the second mission.
Ideally you will have the first or second square to the right of the first-level Access Lift open, in order to get a Workshop up quickly. This significantly affects the ease of getting money and facilities done on or ahead of schedule the first month, and is worth re-rolling for, even if you rolled two 80-Aim soldiers.
Rerolling a few times you will quickly get a routine for which boxes to check when starting the game.
It is imperative that the player is fully cognizant of various bugs and intricate quirks of the game. Improved Pistol 1 and 2 are known not to have an effect as of January 2014, other than possibly Imp Pistol 1 (and 3) for a Covert Operative. Some escort missions, the first two Operation Progeny missions and the Confounding Light (EU2012) Slingshot mission can be absolute murder unless you remember where and what triggers when the aliens drop in. A simple thing like forgetting that an alien does not trigger Overwatch fire when it moves 'into' a square, only when it moves 'out of' a square (including dropping in from above, and the Floater's Launch ability) can easily turn a simple situation into a life-and-death struggle.
Satellite Rush Strategy 1st month
For further discussion see Survival Guide (EU2012).
- Day 1 - excavate ($10, 5d, space for Workshop);
- Days 4-7 - Abduction Site (+4 engineer, for Workshop);
- Days 7 - Workshop ($130, 10d, +5 engineers for Satellite Uplink), excavate ($10, 5d, space for Power Generator);
- Days 7-10 - UFO (small scout, 1 interceptor needed). Let the first UFO go, you get a Medium Scout with more loot. The downside is a slight delay, but more kills, more experience and more loot makes up for the lost time.
- Day 11 - 3x-4x satellites ($77 each with 9 engineers; 20d) not in pack (1 by 1),
- Day 12 - Power Generator ($60, 5d, power for Satellite Uplink);
- Day 17 - Satellite Uplink ($150, 14d);
- Day 31 - Launch satellites for maximum cash with an eye to getting the South American continent bonus as soon as possible.
- Day 32 - Council Report
2nd Abduction Site and Council Mission will be this month, but it usually goes after day 17.
Genetic modification for Mimetic Skin quickly makes things much easier and can dramatically improve the odds of one experienced and modded squad leader being able to help 80-Aim rookies through their first mission or two in the middle game.
Alien Containment and the Arc Thrower dramatically cut down on research times with the South American continent bonus.
Carapace Armour dramatically improves soldier survivability.
Laser Rifles are generally cheap and quickly gotten, ideal for your Support and Assault classes.
One Medi Kit will generally suffice, but with a four-person squad you will find that a dedicated medic is a must, with either the Deep Pockets or Field Medic abilities.
SCOPEs tend to be extremely useful on all but Assault class soldiers, given that with only four soldiers you simply cannot afford to miss shots.
Retreat from contact and make sure that the aliens take hits from your Overwatch soldiers. Pulling a new pod of aliens before you're done with the current pull can quickly doom your squad, and a few dead soldiers or one aborted mission immediately makes all following missions harder. That said, quickly killing a new pull can often minimize the risk faced.
Terror Missions generally demand extremely conservative, cold-hearted play. Going for perfect rescues is not recommended, the risk is simply too great. More zombies also give more experience, unfortunately.