Managing the Item Limit

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Working with the 80 Item Limit in 7623 easys steps

The game limits you to only using 80 items, and this is a rich source of concern for most players that have a style of play that calls for a lot of items and a lot of soldiers.

To understand why the 80 item restriction in place, one must understand that at the time the game was made, most IBM PCs and Compatibles did not come with a lot of RAM. At the time the game was first released, most common household computers had less than 4 megabytes of RAM. However, due to the limited memory available, constraints had to be imposed on the game so that everything could be handled by the computer within the limited amount of memory.

The item table for the Battlescape in X-COM UFO can only hold 170 objects on the map at any given time. The object table holds everything that a soldier can pick up, such as weapons, elerium and corpses. If the table is too full, items start to vanish off the map. This typically happens with corpses as they are only created on demand.

With only 170 possible items to work with, the game shares this space with the player and the aliens. Assuming an even split, each side only has 85 slots that can be used for weapons, ammo, tools, etc.

So if you only get 85 slots, why is the limit 80? The game needs to reserve some slots for generating Elerium pods, which can number between 0 to 4. Yes, if you didn't know, Elerium comes in a physical form, a pod that, when you return to base, converts into 50 elerium units per pod. It's a small purple box in the battlescape, but in the inventory it looks like orange crystals. Also some space needs to be set aside for corpses.

The aliens don't really use up the whole of their 85 slots, so there's often sufficient room for corpses and unconcious units to be generated in the common recovery missions.


Section 2: How?

So it looks like we're stuck with only 80 items. Isn't there any other way?

Short of obtaining the source code and fixing this, no. Using an editor to add equipment onto the troop transport will work, but again, you must remember that the aliens need some space as well.

Is there any way around it? Yes! Revise your strategies and start pruning your inventory loadout by removing all unnecessary items that are either rarely or never used, or redudant.

Note: A tank may count towards the 80 item limit in the Geoscape, but in the Battlescape, the tank is not counted as an object until it is destroyed.


Section 3: Bring out the shears

So what needs to go and what stays? As everyone has their own preferred weapon kits and styles of play, it would be impossile to say exactly what should go and what should stay. However, here are some suggestions one some items that can help minimise your space requirements.

Medikits

Many novice to experienced commanders would prefer to have each soldier carrying a medikit at all times. It makes perfect sense, as it's very convenient to have a medikit on you at all times. However, for a team of 8 soldiers, that's already 10% of your alloted limit. So how do we remain just as efficient but with a smaller number of medical kits? Teamwork.

Rather than 8 for 8 soldiers, consider 4 medikits instead. If soldiers go off in pairs or smaller squads, make sure each group has one soldier with a medikit, or is close to a squad with a medikit. If the wounded soldier and the nominated field doctor are not near a medikit, the nearest soldier with a medikit can always throw the medikit to the field docter using a technique identical to the grenade-relay.

Flares
Flares are always handy and last a lot longer than incendiary rounds as light sources. However, each flare takes up one slot, while a single belt of 6 or 12 incendiary shells only takes up one space. If, like the medikits, each soldier has one, this also knocks off a big chunk of the 80 item allotment.

You don't need many flares to be efficient. You only need to use a few - smartly. Remember that flares can be reused. Pick up flares as you go along once they've served their purpose and the area is clear and redeploy them.

Leap-frogging, a very useful strategy that can be used for soldier movement and for deployment of flares. Remember that.

Heavy Plasmas

It may sound strange, but if you plan to use Heavy Plasmas as your primary mode of offence, you can significantly cut down on your item usage by simply not bringing many (or any) Heavy Plasmas along at all! Simply substitute a few or all of your Heavy Plasmas with laser weapons and then scavenge for Heavy Plasmas off dead aliens in the field.

The trick here is that Heavy Plasmas literally grown on trees - or rather you're guaranteed to find several amongst the alien forces once they become standard issue. Laser weapons can defeat almost anything with a few good hits, and as they don't require clips, can easily make more space on your transport for additional equipment.

This doesn't necessarily reduce your firepower, as you can fill all that extra space with more powerful weapons, like High Explosives, and large rockets.

Alternatively, if you cannot live without the Heavy Plasmas, you can make some space by not bringing any spare clips along. The bullets in each clip are quite plentiful, and you can pick up more clips during the battle. This falls flat, of course, if your strategy involves hosing alien forces on the other side of the map with full auto continuously for several turns - and missing every time. The Laser Pistol and Laser Rifle fit that strategy perfectly because of their speed and limitless ammo - the heavy plasma on the other hand requires thought and a bit of moderation until you can find some spare clips.

Mind Probes

Mind Probes are useful information gathering tools, but certainly not a device you'd want to arm everyone in the squad with. Limit your supply to a reasonable level. Most commanders can make do with only one or two mind probes, a lot of other commanders just ignore it completely.

Stun Rods

How many Stun Rods you will be using depends entirely on your strategy. But they can also become a source of redunancy very easily.

Like the Medikits, don't arm everyone with Stun Rods. Halve your Stun Rod requirements, or set yourself a reasonable limit, such as 2 to 4 Stun Rods per transport and make do with them.

Be patient, share the Stun Rods and use them smartly. If you have access to the Mind Probe, use it to look for aliens you want to abduct and to check whether or not it's safe to walk up to them and give them a light tap on the shoulder.

Smoke Grenades

Another device that you can increase or decrease depending on your strategies. Smoke Grenades are very handy devices that can be both a blessing and a curse - but more of a blessing if you are wise in the ways of how the Smoke Grenade functions. But again, Smoke Grenades do not need to be carried by every soldier in the squad.

Many novice and even veteran commanders can make do without Smoke Grenades, but for those that do, remember that moderation is the key. Due to a game engine limitation, there can only be so many smoke particles at any given time, so you'll only be able to use a few of them per few turns.

Do note that explosive weapons can kick up a dust cloud that can be used for concealment, so you can make use of them as a quick alternative to Smoke Grenades, especially if it explodes on contact rather than at the end of the turn. Just remember that they will never be as effective as a Smoke Grenade smoke screen.

Psi Amps

Only arm soldiers that can acutally use their psi skills with psi-amps. Psi troops that are really good should can even go without weapons if they are truly powerful. You can always have the enemy arm them with weapons.

Grenades

The most common reason to make some extra space in the trunk would be to bring more along ammo, and grenades. From the standard grenade to the alien grenade, to high explosives and proximity activated mines. It's always great to have a few more of these.
Good tacticians make use of everything at their disposal. Everything, from the humble pistol to the deadly High Explosive, but if it doesn't fit in your playing style at all, then there's no reason to bring them along. This makes them a good source of junk for you to kick out to make room for other items.

Section Orange: Dumb Questions

Q: I used a game editor to add more than the 80 items. What's going to happen?
A: You're hogging the item table! Stop it! Aliens will be generated without weapons and it hasn't been verified, but it may be possible that elerium will go missing.

Q: There's a dead alien in my inventory! Get it off! Get it off! Wait, what is a dead alien doing in my ship's inventory anyway? Is it using up a slot?
A: Uh, it's just data corruption, or just a plain programming glitch/error. For some reason the pre-generated corpse has had its location stats defaulted on the equipment pile. Not to worry. It's just a harmless glitch.