Reactions Training

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There is only one way to improve the reaction stat - a soldier must use reaction fire in battle. But the Reaction fire formula tells us that soldiers need good reactions to get reaction fire. This makes it very difficult for soldiers with bad reactions (anything below 45, for example) to improve. But if a Rookie arrives with good reactions, there is plenty of potential for them to become very good. Here's how to make them good.

UFO exit ambush

Patience is a virtue

The simplest approach: wait outside the UFO exit. Once the surrounding area is cleared, just keep pressing the "end turn" button. It may take 50 turns or so, but the aliens eventually get curious and step outside.

Shooters and looter.png

The soldiers assaulting this UFO have decided to wait for the aliens to come out. Four shooters are kneeling, facing the UFO's only exit. These soldiers have the highest reaction stats in the squad - only soldiers with reactions above 50 should be used.

Before shooting one of the soldiers, an alien must:

  • Open the door (4 TUs)
  • Step outside (4 TUs)
  • Turn to face the target (2 TUs)

Or, if he's not the first one out:

  • Move onto the square in fromt of the door (4 TUs)
  • Step outside (4 TUs)
  • Turn to face the target (2 TUs)

Either way, the total is 10 TUs. For a slow alien like Snakeman, that's a significant fraction of the total TUs, and the loss of 10 TUs often allows a soldier to fire first. Also, aliens do not always start on the square next to the door so they ma have used up even more TUs.

The other soldier in the frame isn't a shooter. He's a looter. Looters have nothing to do with increasing anybody's reaction stat and everything to do with increasing X-Com's "bank balance" stat. Looters pick up corpses, stunned aliens, and dropped equipment and carry them somewhere safe, where they won't get destroyed by an explosion. Stunned aliens can optionally be left alone to provide even more reaction training once they recover.

Proximity grenades

The square marked with a 'G' is a good place to put a Proximity Grenade. It is a good idea to mine the exit while the shooters are getting into position - in case an alien pops out before you are ready. Once the shooters are ready, the proximity grenade can be destroyed with a normal grenade. But if the UFO contains Mutons, leave the proximity grenade where it is to soften them up before the reaction shots. Then grab the loot and set another proximity grenade for the next one.

Which weapon to use?

This depends on how many shots you expect to get, which in turn depends on how many shooters there are, and how good their reactions are. If the number of shooters is small, it is best to use something accurate and powerful to get a quick kill. The Plasma Rifle has the most accurate snapshot in the game, and is an excellent reaction weapon. If there are lots of shooters with excellent reactions, spraying with rapid fire weapons like the Laser Pistol will result in greater stat increases. The Laser pistol is also incapable of penetrating the front armour of a Flying Suit or Power Armour, which makes it possible to set up shooters on both sides of an entrance without any risk of damage due to friendly fire.

Heavy weapons

Lack of an autoshot mode is not a disadvantage, because reaction shots are always snapshots. The Heavy Cannon may therefore be the best standard weapon for reaction shooting.

The Small Launcher

This weapon has the potential to generate many reaction shots. This is bordering on an Exploit.

The Rocket Launcher

This is messy but effective. Few things are more entertaining than hitting an alien with multiple reaction-fired large rockets. If fired from some distance from the side of the UFO (e.g. by the blonde soldier in the picture) then even a miss is likely to strike the wall of the UFO and do some damage. Firing from above ground level - either with a flying suit or from the roof of a conveniently placed building - is also very likely to hit something close to the target. It is definitely not recommended when using two groups of shooters facing each other, and care must be taken to ensure that all soldiers are safely outside the blast radius.


Aliens with a HTH attack only are helpless against soldiers equipped with flying suits. Just put a flying soldier nearby, one level off the ground. Eventually the alien will move, and hopefully someone will get a reaction shot. Since there is no risk of getting shot, there is no reason not to use a weak weapon like the standard pistol, in order to maximise the number of reaction shots.

Flying and Mind control

Mind control an alien and make it throw its weapon away. Now the worst it can do is toss a grenade. Hovering soldiers in flying suits have nothing to fear from grenades, so they can wait and shoot with impunity.

Cheating and Mind control

Mind control an alien, access its inventory, and make it drop everything. Now it is harmless, and excellent target practice.

See also: Reaction fire formula and Laser Pistol Gifts