Difference between revisions of "Strategy (EU2012)"

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(Presumably means to say "Without". Completing the Alien Base assault with three or less countries having satellite coverage is unrealistic.)
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===Mission Frequency===
===Mission Frequency===
* Abductions - 2 possible each month
* Abductions - 2 possible each month
** After the Alien Base assault, Abductions only happen if there's still 3 or more Council countries with satellites.
** After the Alien Base assault, Abductions only happen if there's still 3 or more Council countries without satellites.
* Terror Missions - every 2 months
* Terror Missions - every 2 months
** Assaulting the base changes it to a Terror Site each month.  
** Assaulting the base changes it to a Terror Site each month.  

Revision as of 22:30, 8 January 2014

Game Factors

XCOM Objectives

In order to win the game, XCOM commanders will have to achieve two goals:

  • Prevent 8 or more countries from leaving the Council.
    • The game will continue endlessly as long as you have 9 countries still in the country. You can keep playing until 2039 or 2084 if you wish to do so, as long as you don't complete (or fail) some of the key missions (see below).
    • Unlike the original game, you can't lose from repeatedly getting a negative grade on the Council's monthly report or running out of funds. However, if those situations keep happening then most likely you'll lose since panic will spiral out of control and make countries leave the Council.
    • The higher the difficulty level, the more harder it will be to control panic.
  • Complete the Storyline objectives.
    • You'll need to complete 5/6 specific missions to win the game: the 1st mission (either the Tutorial or a regular Abduction), capturing the 1st alien and 1 Outsider, Alien Base Assault, XCOM Base Defense (on the Enemy Within DLC), Assault the Overseer UFO and Temple Ship Assault.
    • If you fail to finish the 1st mission, Alien Base, Base Defense and Temple Ship you'll be given the opportunity of replaying the mission or losing the game.
    • With the exception of the first, you can delay those missions as much as you want. However, as months pass the aliens will deploy more capable units, which can increase, or not, their difficulty, depending on how far you've progressed on your own weapons/armor research.
    • The difficulty levels have an effect on the number and type of the aliens present during missions and their individual stats.

Difficulty Levels

The Difficulty levels can have a major influence on the type of strategy chosen because of the specific changes they introduce. For details on their influence over funding, alien stats, etc., see Difficulty. For specific information about how difficulty levels change the number of aliens during missions, check Alien Deployment.

The difficulty will be further increased if playing with Ironman, Second Wave or the Enemy Within DLC expansion:

  • Ironman - makes it impossible to go back and fix a mistake such as satellites not being ready on time for launch at the end of the month.
  • Second Wave - some options are clearly designed to affect the strategic layer:
    • New Economy - randomizes the funding given by each country. The starting credits may be completely different from the regular values.
    • Marathon - everything takes longer to complete but appearances of new alien species will also be pushed forward.
    • Results Driven - funding is reduced by the country's current panic level.
    • High Stakes - scientist/engineer rewards from Abduction missions are randomized, can make impossible some strategies that depend on these rewards.
    • Diminishing Returns - massive cost increases for satellites.
    • War Weariness - funding trickles down to 0 over time.
    • E-115 - can lead to Elerium shortages for building projects.
    • Alternate Sources - Base facilities cost more power.
  • On the Enemy Within DLC the research time is increased increased on the Classic/Impossible difficulties by 40% and 70%, respectively. The plasma weapons building costs are also increased on average by 50% of their previous cost.

Starting Base Location

The location of the XCOM HQ automatically deploys a satellite over the country gives the continent's specific bonus to the player and will have a major impact on the early game. Each country covered with a satellite provides additional Scientists or Engineers, besides credits (§), that are received at the end of the month and can be very useful in gathering enough Engineers to be able to build Laser Weapons after they are researched.

If you cover an entire continent with satellites, then you also get that continental bonus even if your base is located elsewhere. Choosing which continent will be the first fully covered by satellites is another key move of the early game.

Country Funding by Continent (+50% Easy difficulty)
Africa Asia Europe North America South America

Egypt: §70
South Africa: §80
Nigeria: §100

China: §100
Japan: §100
India: §60
Australia: §60

United Kingdom: §100
Russia: §150
France: §80
Germany: §100

United States: §180
Canada: §100
Mexico: §50

Argentina: §70
Brazil: §80

Ʃ §250 Ʃ §320 Ʃ §430 Ʃ §330 Ʃ §150
All In
Monthly XCOM funding increased by 30%.
Future Combat
All projects in The Foundry and the Officer Training School cost 50% less.
Expert Knowledge
Labs and Workshops cost 50% less to build and maintain.
Air & Space
All aircraft and aircraft weapons cost 50% less to purchase, build and maintain.
We Have Ways
Autopsies and Interrogations are completed instantly.

The bold country is where the base will be located if you pick that continent to start the campaign.

Country and Continent Bonuses per Month (Easy/Normal)
Satellites Africa Asia Europe North America South America
1 +1 engineer +2 engineers +2 scientists +1 scientist
+1 engineer
+1 scientist
2 +1 scientist
+2 engineers
+3 engineers +3 scientists +2 scientists
+2 engineers
+2 scientists
+2 engineers
3 +2 scientists
+3 engineers
+6 engineers +6 scientists +4 scientists
+4 engineers
4 +8 engineers +8 scientists
Ʃ +3 scientists
+6 engineers
+19 engineers +19 scientists +7 scientists
+7 engineers
+3 scientists
+2 engineers
Country and Continent Bonuses per Month (Classic/Impossible)
Satellites Africa Asia Europe North America South America
1 +1 engineer +1 engineer +1 scientist +1 scientist +1 scientist
2 +1 scientist
+1 engineer
+2 engineers +2 scientists +1 scientist
+1 engineer
+1 scientist
+1 engineer
3 +1 scientist
+2 engineers
+3 engineers +3 scientists +2 scientists
+1 engineer
4 +4 engineers +4 scientists
Ʃ +2 scientists
+4 engineers
+10 engineers +10 scientists +4 scientists
+2 engineers
+2 scientists
+1 engineer
  • Losing a country on a continent due to it leaving the Council automatically means the end of the bonus. The starting bonus can never be lost, even if the country where the XCOM HQ is located decides to leave the Council.

Continent Analysis

North America

  • Resources: §320, 4 Scientists & 2 Engineers (Classic and Impossible)
  • Bonus: Air & Space - All aircraft and aircraft weapons cost 50% less to purchase, build and maintain.
  • One of the more useful bonuses by far, being able to procure Firestorms for 50% off is incredibly useful, especially if you're down to the wire on materials. It's less useful as a starting bonus, since a couple of Interceptors is really all you need in the opening days, but a couple extra will help when XCOM decides to be XCOM. As a side bonus, the high initial funding of the United States means North America provides you with the highest initial monthly funding on Classic and Impossible (on Normal and Easy Africa wins due to higher base funding).

South America

  • Resources: §170, 2 Scientists & 1 Engineer (Classic and Impossible)
  • Bonus: We Have Ways - Interrogations and Autopsies are completed instantly.
  • Only really useful if it's your starting bonus or you can get it within the first two months. Interrogations and Autopsies don't take that long to begin with and by the time you pile on a few scientists, they'll only take 1 or 2 days at most. Far more useful however if you're playing with Marathon on from Second Wave, since everything takes a little bit longer. Overall however, not a very pressing bonus to get.
  • On Impossible if you want to get to the Alien Base and complete the game before you encounter some of the more difficult aliens then this can help by unlocking Research Credits as well as the alien base once you get to the point of needing the Outsider Shard.
  • The Enemy Within DLC makes this bonus a little more attractive due to autopsies granting access to Gene Mods and several more items. Researching laser weapons and carapace armour is also a little slower and they compete with Meld research, making early game research time more of a premium.


  • Resources: §430, 10 Scientists (Classic and Impossible)
  • Bonus: Expert Knowledge - Labs and Workshops cost 50% less to build and maintain.
  • Unless your pounding out Labs in the very early days of the game, or playing with Marathon turned on, Labs aren't that useful while Workshops are only really useful once you've linked a few of them together. Furthermore, neither Labs nor Workshops are going to burn a major hole in your wallet. It's a little more useful as a starting bonus however, as it'll probably allow you to get a 2x2 block of Workshops a little sooner than if you didn't have it. Depending on how you build, it could be more or less pressing.
  • Europe is also the continent with the biggest income and the one with the most scientists, so it may be a good choice for later expansion, or to speed up Research.
  • On the Enemy Within DLC, the increased Research times and plasma weapon manufacturing costs in Classic/Impossible difficulties can also make Europe as an attracting option to deal with the bigger requirements.


  • Resources: §250 (§325 with 30% bonus), 3 Scientists & 3 Engineers (Classic and Impossible)
  • Bonus: All In - Monthly XCOM funding increased by 30%.
  • Quite possibly the single most useful bonus there is. Get it, and get it fast if it isn't your starting bonus. That extra money is going to pay dividends in both the long and short run, and the early and late parts of the game. You need money for everything, and you can never have too much.


  • Resources: §320, 10 Engineers (Classic and Impossible)
  • Bonus: Future Combat - All projects in The Foundry and the Officer Training School cost 50% less.
  • Asia's bonus is a little weird. When you're not focusing on your Foundry and OTS upgrades, you really don't care that much that you don't have it. But when you start to focus on your Foundry and OTS upgrades, you're going to wish you did have it. OTS upgrades are just money, so it usually isn't that big of a deal, but Foundry upgrades cost money and other materials, making it a bit more of a deal. Can be ignored if you aren't working on your Foundry or OTS upgrades, but you WILL want it for when you start to pound those out. Especially the Foundry upgrades, since those compete for materials (Alien Alloys, Elerium, Weapon Fragments) alongside Research and Engineering.
  • The Enemy Within DLC has made this slightly more attractive in the early game. The Foundry grants adjacency bonus to workshops and the very valuable Tactical Rigging project makes an early Foundry more attractive than it was in the original game, and this bonus will allow you to capitalise on it more easily while money is still tight.


Economy & Panic

See the appropriate pages:

Engineering & Research

See the appropriate pages:

Air Combat

See the appropriate page:

Squad Management

Early Game

  • The initial missions can be used to reveal the class of the starting soldiers or to increase the XPs of the survivors of the first mission to maximize their progression in the ranks, or both.
    • The first need is required if you want to start enlarging the pool of trained soldiers. But it disappears after the New Guy OTS perk is purchased, since the class of all existing or newly hired rookies is immediately revealed.
    • Choosing instead to favor promotions allows quickly to get critical abilities like Squad Sight for Snipers and to unlock OTS upgrades.
    • On the Enemy Within DLC, the promotion XP requirements have been increased, which favors the promotions first approach.

Soldiers Pool

  • A pool helps with dealing with possible "Code Black" scenarios, where all soldiers are lost during a mission. Such squad wipes are common to happen and it is possible to recover from them.
  • Getting the OTS is a major requirement since many upgrades will bring faster promotions and better stat gains, as well as enlarging the number of soldiers possible during a mission, increasing the possible slots for soldiers in training.
  • Getting a Sergeant is required to unlock Squad Size I and, on Classic/Impossible levels to allow construction of the OTS. Sergeant also unlocks Wet Work which gives a 25% boost to experience points gained through killing, making it very useful for training.
    • It can be gained either through focusing on promoting a single soldier to that rank (usually a Sniper with Squadsight since they're less

likely to suffer injuries and they usually amass a lot of kills.

    • Alternatively, a Sergeant may also be gained as a reward from a successful Abduction/Council mission.
  • Usually the distribution of classes will not be balanced, although the class assignment has been improved on the Enemy Within DLC. But you can also use rewards to make up with any shortfalls or to get immediately replacements for high rank officers lost during missions.

Middle/Late Game

  • Later, the emphasis usually switches to building a poll of soldiers usually around 10-12 soldiers, with around 6 preferred class builds, plus replacements for injuries and KIAs.
  • A basic setup is to have 2-3 soldiers of each class, depending on personal preferences - your favorite build(s) for that class and his/her replacement, its also possible to have an alternative build for more specialized missions.
  • Always bringing at least 1 soldier for training during missions is very helpful, in order to develop further the pool of soldiers.
    • Some missions are better for bringing several low ranked soldiers, like Council missions after you've deployed Titan Armor, or even Abduction and Small Scout UFO missions.
    • Other missions, like Terror Sites, the Alien Base or large UFOs can be more challenging for soldiers in training but also more rewarding since the trainee will have the possibility to earn more experience points through killing larger aliens.
  • After the Psi Lab is built the emphasis changes to checking the pool for Psionic soldiers and training them.

Timeline & Storyline


The game is designed to introduce new enemy units (both Aliens and EXALT) and UFOs at specific months, regardless of the difficulty level.

Month Missions Alien/EXALT Units UFOs
March 1st Mission
1st Abductions
1st Council/Friends in Low Places
1st UFO
2nd Abductions
2nd Council (EW DLC)
2nd UFO
Thin Man (1st Council)
Outsider (1st UFO)
Small Scout (Crashed)
April Portent (EW DLC)
1st Terror
Friends in Low Places (EW DLC)
Confounding Light
Seeker (EW DLC)
Chryssalid (1st Terror)
Small Scout (Landed)
Large Scout (Crashed)
May Site Recon (EW DLC)
Confounding Light (EW DLC)
Gangplank (EW DLC)
1st Covert Ops (EW DLC)
Muton (with LPRs)
EXALT Conventional (EW DLC)
Large Scout (Landed)
Abductor (Crashed)
June 2nd Terror Muton (with Plasma Rifles)
Mechtoid/Sectoid (EW DLC)
July Berserker
Mechtoid/Sectoid Commander (EW DLC)
Abductor (Landed)
August 3rd Terror Heavy Floater Supply Barge (Crashed)
September Sectopod
Muton Elite
Supply Barge (Landed)
October Battleship (Crashed) 1
1 Before September, the Battleship can appear if you've fail to bring down or ignored a previous UFO on a Scouting mission. In September the Battleship is added to the pool of available UFOs for Flying missions.

Mission Frequency

  • Abductions - 2 possible each month
    • After the Alien Base assault, Abductions only happen if there's still 3 or more Council countries without satellites.
  • Terror Missions - every 2 months
    • Assaulting the base changes it to a Terror Site each month.
  • UFOs - 2 possible each month
    • If the Alien Base isn't assaulted, the frequency of UFO appearances is reduced to a single alien craft each month in June and afterwards.
  • Council - 1 monthly mission between the 15th and 27th (unless the Tutorial is activated). In the Enemy Within DLC, between 0 and 2 monthly missions or requests possible. Slingshot or Portent campaigns replace the regular missions, if they're activated.
  • Base Defense - 2 to 3 weeks after XCOM assaults the Alien Base (EW DLC)
  • Progeny campaign Deluge and Furies missions - after Base Defense.

Alien Base

The Alien Base Assault is the most decisive Storyline moment affecting the overall strategy, due to its effect on the game:

  • If successful, it will give a worldwide panic reduction, a big chunk of loot for sale at the Grey Market and a boost on your squad's experience, all of which can help the overall situation on the early game.
  • However, after the Alien Base all UFO missions will now have Sectoid Commanders instead of Outsiders as its commanders, making it harder to assault UFOs and recover alien artifacts.
  • The longer you wait, the better equipped XCOM will be for the mission but the base alien garrison will also deploy the latest alien species.
  • Recovering and researching the Hyperwave Beacon captured at the base will also unlock Ghost Armor.
  • On the EW DLC, the XCOM Base Defense mission will take place 2-3 weeks after the Alien Base assault, where you'll face a massive horde of the most advanced aliens in defending HQ or lose the game.
  • After the assault, Terror missions will happen each month, instead of only in the even months.

Overseer UFO

  • Building the Hyperwave Relay triggers the appearance of the Overseer UFO, over any continent that has satellites deployed. Check Air Combat for the requirements to shoot down the Overseer.
  • The Ethereal will first appear on the Overseer UFO, but on the EW DLC it can appear before, during the XCOM Base Defense mission, depending how long it took you to assault the Alien Base.
  • The Overseer will also see the first appearance of Sectopods, if they haven't appeared on regular missions before.

Early Game (March - May)

During the first months the game objectives are resumed to 2 needs that need to be addressed: keeping panic under control and building up your squad to win the key missions. Later, after you've kept panic in control, the focus turns towards progressing through the storyline. Most strategies deal mainly with the first months, since those are largely considered to be the most decisive of the game.

This period has several key events initially taking place:

  • The starting mission, either the Tutorial or an Abduction mission.
    • Maps with better cover and elevations are usually easier than more open maps.
  • The 2nd Abduction mission.
    • On the Classic and Impossible difficulties, this mission is usually harder than the 1st mission, due to larger number of aliens.
  • The Small Scout on the 1st UFO mission.
    • If it is deliberately ignored a Large Scout (or worse) will appear afterwards with a Destroy Satellite mission but, if shot down it will bring more loot than the Small Scout.
  • The 1st Council mission.
    • The entry of Thin Men with their exceptional mobility, aim and poisonous attack. Bomb Disposal missions can be literally impossible to win and dependent on extreme luck.
  • The 1st Terror mission (April).
    • Chryssalids and Zombies.
  • The appearance of Mutons and EXALT in May.
  • The flyover of the 1st Abductor in May.

There are at least 3 main strategies to reach the game's objectives while navigating through the early months.

Satellite Rush

Satellite Rush deals with panic by aiming to build a 2nd Satellite Uplink on March, along with 4 satellites, and later to construct at least 1 more Uplink on April, in order to get 8 countries covered by satellites and strongly reduce the possibility of them leaving the Council. Later, the player may choose to get a 4th Uplink to cover 4 more nations with satellites or control panic through other means.

Since panic control will be achieved through satellite deployment, the criteria to choose between Abduction missions is usually to go for engineers (to reduce satellite construction costs) or credits (to pay for satellites and Interceptors to defend them, Workshops and Uplinks). This strategy can work better with a North America or Africa start. North America reduces interceptor cost and Africa increases further the income received from satellite deployment.

Alien Base Rush

With this strategy the focus is on research to assault the Alien Base on April for the worldwide panic reduction that takes place afterwards. The main milestones to achieve this is the building of the Alien Containment facility and the Arc Thrower to capture the 1st alien and the Outsider, while gaining 10 extra engineers (for a total of 15) in order to be able to build the Skeleton Key to unlock the Alien Base Assault. Optional research includes developing Laser weapons and Carapace armor to help during the assault, as well as OTS and Foundry updates.

The choice between Abduction rewards is to go either for engineers (to reach the minimum to build the Skeleton Key) or scientists (to speed up key research). A South America start is usually the best one since the More Than Ways bonus (immediate interrogations/autopsies) and early construction of the Alien Containment + Arc Thrower allows you to quickly complete key research steps. Other possible continents are Europe, to build Laboratories/Workshops in order to speed research or get the required scientists, or Asia to pay for the OTS/Foundry upgrades to equip the squad for the base assault.

Panic Control

This strategy can either be used from the start or as back up plan in case something went wrong with the 2 previous strategies. During the first 2/3 months the main steps to control panic are to choose the Abduction missions according to the country/continent panic situation and not the rewards, and disregard the continental bonuses when launching satellites in order to prevent countries with a level 5 panic from leaving. With this strategy, at the beginning of May you'll have 5/6 countries that left the Council and usually it will be required at that point that you build additional Uplinks or to assault the Alien Base to prevent losing the game due to more defections. The risk with this strategy is that to lose a single Abductions or Terror Site can have catastrophic effects, so you need to keep a decent squad prepared for all missions.

Due to the limited choice on Abduction rewards, the emphasis should be to maximize the use of what is given: scientists speed up research, engineers lower build costs and certain numbers are required to build some items, soldiers can unlock OTS upgrades be replacements for casualties, and credits are most welcome since you won't be receiving much of those through funding. This strategy can be applied from all continents, but Asia is usually the best since it reduces the cost of squad upgrades.

Mid Game (June - August)

After surviving the initial months and with panic under control, the choices of the mid game are either to when to attack the Alien Base (if it hasn't been done before), shoot down the Overseer UFO and to capture the Ethereal Device. The main factor that determines the speed of the mid game are Research times for advanced weapons and armor and/or and having enough credits, Weapon Fragments, Alien Alloys, Elerium or Meld to build whatever is required in Engineering. The regular highlights of this period are:

  • The large appearances of Mutons (with Plasma Rifles) and Cyberdiscs in June.
  • The first appearance of Berserkers in July, on all types of missions except Council ones.
  • The first appearance of Heavy Floaters in August.
  • The Abductor and Supply Barge UFOs appearing regularly, with Landed Abductors in June and Supply Barges in the months afterwards.

The main points to look for are:

  • To keep an eye on the Doom Tracker and prevent an accidental loss of a country (and possibly the game) through a failed Terror Site or a Battleship shooting down a satellite.
  • To develop plasma weapons and armor (Titan onwards) to deal with the more armored alien units that start appearing.
  • To complete the necessary Foundry and OTS projects.
  • To develop Plasma Cannons and the Firestorm to shoot down the larger UFOs.
  • To secure enough resources to build/research all of the previous.
  • Usually, this is a stage where a player may want to build Workshops and Laboratories to help on the way.

Late Game (September onwards)

Other than the introduction of Sectopods, Muton Elites and Battleships in September, the main objectives are still those of the previous game stage. The duration of this period will depend on the player's choice on how much further it wants to keep playing before taking the Storyline missions. It is possible to choose not to build the Alien Containment and capture the 1st alien or assault the Alien Base until September.


Satellite Rush

Source: Satellite Rush Strategy

April Base Rush

Source: original post at 2K forums

Other Strategies