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Freeconomics - Stuff For Free

"Get your money for nothing, and your kit for free..."

Free Ammo for Tanks

Any Heavy Weapons Platform (HWP) or Submersible Weapon System (SWS) at a base under attack will always receive a full complement of ammunition at the start of the battle, regardless of the actual level of tank ammunition in storage.

When that base comes under attack from an alien retaliation mission, tank ammunition will first be drawn from stores. If there is insufficient ammo to fill the magazines of any tank participating in the battle, base insurance will cover the expenses and the remainder of the ammunition will be granted for free for the purpose of defending the base.

The tanks receive ammunition for free only on base defense missions; because you are prohibited from assigning partially loaded tanks to transports, you cannot get free ammo any other way. Once the base defense mission is complete, the munitions are returned to your general stores, after which you can sell them or transfer them to another base.

Use this exploit when you have many Hovertank/Launchers since the ammo uses Elerium, is extortionately expensive, and takes time to manufacture. Do not hesitate to use as much or as little as you need.

To get the most from abusing this exploit,

  • do not stock any HWP ammo at the tank's home base.
  • transfer out all HWP ammo to the base which consumes it on missions.

NOTE: You must have at least one unwounded soldier at your base to start a base defense mission. You cannot defend a base that contains only HWPs and no active soldiers.

Extra Ammo Collection

Any partly-used clips will be discarded at the end of combat. However, in DOS versions of X-COM, partly-used clips (in X-COM or alien weapons) will be kept as full clips if they are unloaded from the weapon before the end of combat. XcomUtil also has an option to let you bring back to base any partly-used clips in weapons. Seb76's UFOExtender also has this feature.

  • Full ammo clips (loaded and unloaded) are always kept
  • Partial ammo clips loaded in a weapon are never kept (except in XComUtil?)
  • Partial ammo clips unloaded are kept ONLY in the DOS version or XComUtil

Free Manufacturing

When starting the process to manufacture an item, you typically assign some engineers to build a quantity of items. As soon as you click OK, you'll pay the costs for that first item, and any subsequent ones, to be built.
To have an item manufactured for free, do not allocate a quantity for production. Leave it at zero. When you confirm that zero quantity production queue by clicking OK twice, any engineers assigned (if you put them to work) for that production sequence are made idle. Now go back to that zero production queue and make a build quantity of one (ie: build only one item). Assign some engineers to that project and click OK. You will now build that item for free and without using any raw materials, however, if you build the second item from the same production sequence, you'll pay for its manufacture and use up some raw materials. To get the most use of this exploit, repeat the steps each time you want to manufacture one item for free.

WARNING There is a minor bug which is connected to this exploit. Read about it here: Cancel Manufacturing Bug

Tanks and craft weapons have the biggest profit margins if you want to make big dollars from sales, with the Hovertank/Plasma the single most profitable. But you can apply this exploit to any item which you can build, including craft if you have a free hangar.
NOTE: to start manufacture of any items that require raw materials (such as Elerium/Zrbite, Alien Alloys etc.), you must have the required resources at the base to actually begin production regardless if you plan in using this exploit, or not.

Free Wages

At the end of the month, your soldiers, scientists and engineers collect their pay. If any person is in transit, they will not be paid.
Use this exploit to save money by transfering your personel just before the end of the month. If you transfer scientists and engineers to bases that have labs and workshops and sufficient living space, they can start working as soon as they arrive and you have assigned them to a task. Leased craft (Interceptor, Skyranger, Barracuda, and Triton) also have expenses which are paid at the end of the month. However, you will still pay for these, since this exploit does not work for craft.

Robotic Factories

If you get exactly 256 Engineers at a base, the count of Engineers rolls over to zero (due to being stored in two bytes). You pay no further salaries for these Engineers and they cease to use up Living Quarters (they can all be dismantled if desired). Once you have done this, manufacturing at the base is limited only by workshop capacity (beyond even what 256 Engineers can produce, so there is no need to hire any more Engineers - just build Workshops).

In effect for an investment of about $14.5 million, you turn a base into a robotic factory in which every Workshop works at full capacity round the clock, with no accommodation or wages needed for any human Engineers.

This Exploit is extremely unbalancing to the strategic/resource aspect of the game. Really, you might as well just use a game editor to give yourself infinite money. Information on how to work this Exploit is here (there are some fine points of detail needed to make it work correctly - mainly just make sure you have some manufacturing underway when the 256th Engineer arrives). This Exploit also works in TFTD.

Cybernetic Laboratories

A similar trick to Robotic Factories also works for Scientists. Once you have 256 Scientists, research is free of wage and accommodation costs, and limited only by Lab space. Be sure to have at least one Research program underway before the 256th Scientist arrives on the base. You also need to make sure you always have a long-running Research project underway with 1 or more Scientist, otherwise once the last project stops, you can't start any new ones. If you are running short on topics, you need to unassign Scientists to slow down progress, until you have some other projects. The setup cost for this is around $17 million. This Exploit also works in TFTD.

Infinite Fuel

If you transfer a craft, when it arrives at its destination, its fuel gauge will read empty (ie: 0% FUEL). If you launch your craft for a mission (any mission will do) its fuel gauge will still read empty. Your craft now has an infinite fuel load until it returns to base.
To abuse this exploit, loadout any craft with weapons (dual Plasma Cannons/Sonic Oscillators are recommended) and wait for "Ready" status. Transfer the craft to another base. After it arrives, select a random point on the globe away from its new home base and have it patrol that waypoint. You can engage alien craft as normal, and it will head back home afterwards. If it lands back at base, it will refuel and you will lose your infinite fuel bonus. Do not let it return to base by ordering it to patrol another waypoint immediately after combat. Obviously, if your craft has run out of ammo it must return to base, which you could once again repeat the steps of this exploit for more infinite fuel. This exploit is not recommended for fighter-transports which you use for alien craft recovery missions. The only remote possibility that this could be useful is when you have a transport craft with combat troops airbourne next to an alien base and waiting for a resupply mission AND this alien base is not covered by xcom base radar.

Phantom Radar Trick

The radar coverage of your base is calculated only when a module is constructed at your base. Therefore, once you have a radar built, you can dismantle it, and your base will continue to retain the detection abilities of that radar until you order another base module of any type to be built. This allows you to make your base slightly smaller than it would be otherwise. However, the practicality of this bug is small, because the maximum maintenance for a radar is 35K per month for the Hyper-Wave Decoder, and dismantling the radar will trigger the Paying For Dirt bug. And if you attempt to rebuild over the square to avoid said bug, you will lose the Phantom Radar. So this exploit is only useful if you have spare cash and need a slightly smaller base. More data in in NKF:Talk

UFO Redux

It is possible to collect loot from the same UFO two or even three times (similar to "milking" an Alien Base). If you perform a UFO Ground Assault and abort the mission before killing all the aliens, the UFO will have all its aliens and equipment restored, even if you took or destroyed its Elerium. (Bring all captured equipment/corpses back to the transport and unload the alien guns if you wish to recover the clips). It seems the dead alien crewmembers have been quickly cloned, and new equipment has been generated using some form of replicator. :)

If the UFO has another landing scheduled, it will meander around until it reaches its second landing point, at which point you can perform another ground assault. Once a UFO has no further landings scheduled, it will head off at top speed. If you have an armed craft patrolling near the landed UFO, you can shoot it down and perform an additional UFO Recovery on it. (The patrolling craft must be faster than the UFO, which rules out using Interceptors, which cannot even catch Small Scouts at top speed.)

Using this exploit you can greatly increase the amount of valuables recovered and score earned per UFO. If the landing site is distant from where your transport is based, you may need an additional transport and squad available to perform the second assault, as the UFO will probably take off before a single transport can refuel and return. Crash sites remain accessible for several days.

Using this exploit requires a bit of work on the ground, as you need to execute a secure withdrawal to your transport, whilst carrying off all the alien bodies/captives and alien equipment. It can also be hard to safely and reliably leave a single alien alive and conscious (unless your troops are proficient in psionics). This exploit is best used opportunistically, such as when facing a Large Scout with a "stuck" alien inside.

Craft Weapons For Free/Infinite Money

Remember the "hangar split in half" bug, wherein you build a hangar hanging off the right edge of the map and it wraps around to the left side, one row down? This is because the game actually stores the base squares as a linear array, with the first row being 1-6, the second being 7-12, and so on; when you place the top-left quarter of a hangar on square N, the other three quarters are placed on square N+1 (one square to the right), N+6 (one square down) and N+7 (one square down AND one square to the right). If you put that top-left quarter of the hangar on square 6 (first row, sixth column), this will place the other three quarters on squares 7 (second row, first column), 12 (second row, sixth column), and 13 (third row, first column), splitting the hangar in half.

However, what if you put that top-left quarter on square 30 or later (fifth row, sixth column, or sixth row)? Now, your fourth quarter (and possibly the second or third) are at square 37 or more - beyond the end of the map! This is a buffer overflow, and will overwrite whatever happens to be next in memory with the values it's trying to write for hangar construction. In this case, the time to completion - 25, as the Hangar takes 25 days to build - overwrites values for the base stores. What, exactly, this does depends on exactly which "squares" you're attempting to build on, as follows:

"Square 37" is Engineers (you get 25 Engineers).

"Square 38" is Scientists (you get 25 Scientists).

"Square 39" is Stingray Launchers, low byte (you get 25 Stingray Launchers).

"Square 40" is Stingray Launchers, high byte (you get 6400 Stingray Launchers - 25 * 256).

"Square 41" is Avalanche Launchers, low byte (you get 25 Avalanche Launchers).

"Square 42" is Avalanche Launchers, high byte (you get 6400 Avalanche Launchers).

"Square 43" is Cannons, low byte (you get 25 craft Cannons).

...and that's as far as you can go, because the top-left quarter has to be inside the base map. Note in all cases that this overwrites the value currently there, rather than adding it, so if you have 5 Cannons and perform the exploit for Cannons, you'll still only have 25 Cannons.

By selling the craft weapons, you can get much more money than you used to build the Hangar. And since you can immediately demolish the partially-built Hangar and start it building again, you can get as much money as you want as long as you sell the craft weapons in between each time you knock down and restart the Hangar. Do beware of the Cash Rollover bug.

Obviously, use of this exploit greatly unbalances the game.

In TFTD, and also in UFO Collector's Edition, a sanity-check was put in place to prevent the "hangar split in half" bug, which also prevents this exploit. Thus, this only works in UFO DOS.

Score Points For Free

Warning: You are crashing the game on purpose to make this exploit work. Read this WARNING

works only with the DOS versions of UFO:EU and TFTD

The way this all works is based on the previous tactical in which you went really well and completed it. If the current tactical mission you are on does not go well, press CTRL-C. What has just happened is your current mission has ended with the results of the previous mission. That is, the score, items, corpses, Elerium/Zrbite, and stat increases are carried forward to this mission, from the last. Soldiers will get experience again even if they didn't come on this current mission and are back at base.

What is 'CTRL-C'?

Xcom1 and Xcom2 are DOS games (Disk Operating System, not denial of service). A command used in DOS is "break" which is keyed in as CTRL-C. What this keypress does is halt the current process. Xcom1 & 2 have a failsafe to "crashing" by returning to the previous "good" process, which was a completed tactical mission.

How to Cheat?

Setup: For the best setup, do a tactical mission with a landed (not crashed) VERY LARGE type alien craft (ie: Battleship/Dreadnaught). Avoid using any weapons that consume ammo (including the tank). Make sure no soldiers die, or tanks. Don't use any grenades, clips, etc. Try to do this mission in a 'bean counter' mindset. On the very last turn of the mission (you need to guess it), save your game in a new slot, and then don't overwrite it from here on. Now end the tactical mission normally and continue to play your game normally as well.
Using It:
Later on when you do your next tactical mission and are able to move your guys off the craft, just press CRTL-C. The mission now ends with the results from the VERY LARGE alien craft tactical mission. That mission was stored in a folder which is not overwritten when you save your game. It is only overwritten after a tactical mission has been completed (either from abort, total loss, or from winning). You have just received the score and equipment from a previous mission!


  • If you press CTRL-C without ever having been to a tactical mission, you will get an error. Read about it here: Big Text Bug
  • If you terminate a tactical mission by accident (by winning or losing - doesn't matter), the results of this current mission will be stored in the "MISSDAT" folder, overwriting the previous tactical mission stored there. To get your exploit mission back, save the game in your usual spot (you should be back in geoscape view if you have just completed your (accidental) mission). Load the VERY LARGE alien craft mission, then end it successfully. You don't need to save it again. The mission results are now refreshed in the MISSDAT folder. Now load your game normally (from the usual spot) and keep playing as per usual. When you next commence a tactical mission, just press CTRL-C.
  • If you use this exploit regularly, you'll find that your score goes up very quickly (just like used space in General Stores). Be ready to face more agressive aliens, and more agressive actions (base attacks) from the race of aliens present on that exploit tactical mission.
  • Use of this exploit afterwards would be best when you still have all the Xcom agents that participated on the original mission. Experience is wasted if most of the agents are dead (it doesn't matter if they are in hospital or at a different base, they'll still get experience), so to get the most benefit from using this exploit, either make new a tactical mission with some of your current seasoned agents, or try not to kill off/sack anyone from the original mission.
  • Big Cheat: Sometimes the icon denoting a crashed UFO/USO does not disappear from the geoscape view after ending a mission using the CTRL-C method (intact alien craft will usually take off after the first visit). This means that you can revisit the crash site again and again and rack up a ridiculously large score for the month. If you have multiple fighter transports (such as the Lightning or the Avenger), then you could have a constant stream of craft visiting the crash site due to the quick turn-around when they refuel/rearm.
  • You don't need to use a VERY LARGE alien craft specifically. You can start using this CTRL-C exploit after the very first tactical mission once it completes. It also doesn't matter what type of mission is in the MISSDAT folder. You can use base attacks, alien base assaults, terror sites, etc. as your previous mission.

Warning: You are crashing the game on purpose.

Due to such drastic methods to cheat, the game may behave strangly (resurrected soldiers, wrong calculations of experience, invunerable crash sites etc.) and it may corrupt files. If you choose to use this exploit, then save your game before you use it, then save your game again IN A DIFFERENT SPOT after you have used it. No one is forcing you to use this cheat, so you decide if you want to risk it.