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Question: How is having weapons in both hands handled when dealing with reactions? Is there a "favored" hand? Is the quicker weapon always chosen? Are both weapons checked?

This is important because if I have a Laser Pistol in one hand and a Blaster Launcher in another, most of the time I'm not going to want my soldier wildly firing Blaster Bombs. Also, if (for example) it always checks the right hand first and I happen to put the Blaster Launcher there, I will fail a lot of reaction rolls I could have made if it had checked the other hand holding the Laser Pistol.

Have people noticed that the soldier always fires just one weapon... or have people seen soldiers alternate?

I've just run a test. I edited a soldier to 80 TUs, 200 reactions and 200 all-round armour. I then got a pistol, laser pistol and a blaster launcher and went off to run a few tests. Here are the results.

Attacks of opportunity are performed with the active weapon. That is to say, the weapon that's visible on your sprite. The weapon that is activated when you bring up the weapon's attack menu. I think putting a new weapon into your right hand will also change your active weapon to it.

You will continue to use the active weapon for reaction shots until you run out of ammo, then your active weapon will switch over to the other weapon. Assuming it's got ammo, of course.

I tried this first with the pistol and laser pistol combo and it worked as I've outlined. Then I tried it with the laser pistol and the blaster. Again, the blaster only fired after it was set to the active weapon.

In summary, accidental reaction shots with the blaster can be avoided by arming another weapon and having it as the active weapon at the end of the turn. I'd go with a laser pistol myself. You don't want to run out of ammo and then switch over to the blaster.

This works well with the blaster as no accuracy is lost. With the launcher or small launcher, you'll suffer the accuracy penalty, but you will otherwise be able to control them in the same way.

Oh, this only applies to reaction fire. Not unit mind control.


P. S: One thing I noticed with the blaster launcher in the Collectors Edition while running the test. You no longer get a dud shell left behind for reaction fired blaster bombs. However, you will still get the dud shell when you actively fire a blaster bomb with only one waypoint - and if it hits. If it misses its mark and flies off the map, the blaster will not have a dud shell. Interesting. I'll go and put this in the blaster launcher entry.

A good question was asked on the xcomufo boards by Seeker whether you get a reaction point if you are in such a condition that your turn-towards-attacker spin is initiated, but you run out of TUs to fire your gun as a result. I'm sure this was mentioned somewhere, but I can't seem to find it.

Also, regarding the free experience point earned by soldiers in a group when one soldier manages to kill the alien before the rest. I guess all units are sorted in an iniative queue, and every time you or the enemy spend TUs your position in the queue drops. Every time a reaction shot is triggered, the game runs through all units above the alien in the queue and give the experience point to the ones that were able to trigger. I guess that's how it works.


One thing that came to my mind this afternoon:

Starting stats for reactions are 30 - 60. Now, that's fine and all, and I accept this - it's mentioned in the official strategy guide after all. But I recall that I was able to generate a brand new soldier with 20 reactions on one of the easier levels. I'd like to figure out how to get this reproduced.


Hmmm, do you remember what version you were using? That might play a role. (And if I ever find the starting stats in the executable, this would be the easy way to verify). The only other thing may be corruption, but this cannot be reproduced without luck.--Zombie 19:27, 17 January 2007 (PST)

I know, that's what I thought. I'm sure that I cannot reproduce it in the CE (I've tried), but I believe it was through the Dos version. I'll try and run a few tests on my copy as soon as I can clear the olde-computer table and find the keyboard - or even the PC itself if I'm lucky!

I just recalled that I was challenged years ago about the reaction's starting level, and having actually seen a reaction stat at 20, I'm a little unsure now. I'm still all for the official starting values, I just want to see if this little glitch is reproduceable and would like to add it as a footnote to the official entry.


For the record: Occasionally, you get more reaction experience points (Unitref[80]) than rounds fired. It can be readily seen when numerous soldiers react to enemies, such as with a firing squad. Each time an alien goes down (dead or unconscious), one of your soldiers is likely to gain an extra point. You may even see 15 reaction points after firing a clip of 12 bullets, although this is rare. What causes the extra points? Possibly reactions are "queued" when reaction ability is checked, but then the game doesn't make sure that the target is still viable until the next queued reaction comes up. You won't get an extra point every time an alien goes down, even with firing squads, though. This is probably because the last queued reaction on "your" side (before the enemy acts again) put the alien down. All in all, the more soldiers you have with similar reaction levels (TUs x Reactions, so they all all queue up at the same time) and with shorter snapshot times (puts more shots in the queue), the more likely you are to get these extra points. And the max possible extra points equals the number of targets. Still, unless you're peeking at Unitref[80], it's practically impossible to know when it happens. So sometimes you get a bonus to your reactions, even if you didn't know it.

Tip: If some soldiers have high reaction and some have low, the high ones are liable to get off a ton of shots before the low ones, and kill the target. Thus, the high ones get even higher, distancing themselves even more from the low ones - a vicious circle. If you want to build up low Reaction skills, try to keep "reaction stealing" in mind and work around it. If you have the funds, most players recommend recruits with at least 40 Reaction, if not 50 - there seems to be a definite notch where low Reaction soldiers get left behind. Also see the links below for more tips on training skills.

[ NKF: Alternately, arm the high reaction soldiers with slower-firing snapshot weapons (heavy laser/cannon, auto-cannon or rocket launcher, for example) and arm the low reaction soldiers with faster firing snapshot weapons (pistol, laser pistol). This evens things out a bit, and although the higher reaction soldier will fire first, the higher TU cost lowers the reaction level considerably. And the lower TU drop for the faster pistols means the soldiers with lower reactions will not drop in reaction level as quickly. You've just got to remember that no matter how high your reactions are, they're meaningless if you don't have any time units.

It's always a lot better to train reactions as a group, with some high reaction soldiers to soften up the enemies a bit. The more the merrier, as they say. Also, the sight of 8 - 10 soldiers with laser pistols unleashing a seemingly endless amount of bolts of light at a couple of aliens leaving a UFO is sight any player should behold, at least once.

Some food for thought regarding the reaction skill. Does the reaction counter increase with an unloaded weapon? Or does it happen in the scenario you mention, when there's insufficient TUs to fire, but your reaction level is greater than the alien's.

Here's one related question I'd like to see answered sometime: What actions cause an attack of opportunity to be triggered? I ask this because not all actions that use TUs will trigger it immediately, such as muddling around in the inventory screen.]

[ MTR: [snipped - see below]

Roger that re: what triggers opportunity fire. I wonder, too. It's also 100% clear that doing a psi doesn't cause reaction fire - and it takes lots of TUs. I have also never seen an alien fire on me when I was only turning, although I have seen cases where I fired on aliens, when they only turned. I've been trying to keep an eye on this for several weeks now, and haven't noticed any exceptions. This makes me heavily wonder whether it is tied to energy usage, not TUs, per se. Remember that most aliens have U[45]=0 and use energy even when they turn, but soldiers have U[45]=1, and don't. See what I mean?

Another thought to throw into the pipe: I wrote this second paragraph about personal lighting. Something all us vet players know. But since then I've realized that movement that doesn't use energy (elevators) does not trigger "backfield" personal lighting. And, just did more testing - in fact, energy usage is needed to trigger any check of aliens' personal lighting. Examples:

  • You MC some aliens on a regular turn; people move; aliens are lit, as usual. Start of next turn: Still lit, although no longer MC'd. Move any of your soldiers so that they use energy - the formerly-MC'd aliens go dark.
  • Same situation: MC some aliens, they light up, end turn; start of next turn, formerly MC'd aliens still lit. Move one of your soldiers up or down on an elevator: They stay lit. Move her off elevator: They go dark.
  • Same holds for formely MC'd aliens or aliens you just MC'd, and moving them. Whether they are 'supposed' to light up or go dark, no difference... Movement up or down on elevator: no change (no personal lighting check). Move off elevator: aliens change status.
  • Whether they should be lighting up or going dark, energy usage by you or them is needed to trigger the alien lighting check and make them be "correct".
  • But wait! Beginning of turn: formerly MC'd alien called "A" is still lit. MC some other alien called "B". Now move B on the elevator: A is still lit. No problem. But turn B so he uses energy: A is still lit. Move B off elevator: A goes dark. ARG! B used energy, but A did not change status...

These are interesting findings in and of themself, especially in those dark windy alien base "gardens" - a.k.a. don't move anybody and you'll see formerly MC'd aliens better! Anyway, clearly, alien personal lighting checks interact with energy use somehow, not movement per se. Maybe the equation behind the scenes has U[45]=1 for everybody, and doesn't check the unit's U[45], per se?? But then that would counter my obs. that I can't remember aliens every reaction firing on me when I was only turning. Has anyone ever seen aliens fire on them when all you did was turn?

So there's at least one "movement" thing that we now realize is actually related to energy use, not movement per se. See, they are so very closely related, that the programmers may have used that as a simple way to differentiate all the many possible actions, vs. ones that really "count" toward certain things. While I'm not at all certain about this, one quick check would be to hack Unitref[45] to no energy usage... then go waltzing out in front of aliens that are loaded for bear and see if you make it across the field... reminds me of the opening scene to Dances With Wolves. ]

[ MTR: NKF - I snipped some of my long-winded ramblings above, because further testing showed what's up - See my revised "For the record" above. I only ever saw extra points, consistent with what I wrote above. It's not what I had been thinking... you don't get extras if you turn to reaction-shoot, and then don't have enough TUs left to shoot. Also I can only recall seeing it when they still had bullets... I didn't test them as of the turn they ran out of bullets (I had 8 guys shooting 1 alien). Anyway, what I wrote above is very consistent, at least for a firing squad sitation.

It's possible that there are other ways to get extra reaction points. The other concepts such as an alien moving out of or into view (one or the other) can't be as easily tested.

I'll leave this up for a while to see if there's continuing interest and if not, will get rid of most of my comments. And move my stuff on energy-vs.-lighting to Personal Lighting.

Another little note: Even if you only have one person doing reaction shooting, it is possible for them to get the one extra reaction point when an alien goes down. I figure that this happens if your shooter was going to get off two reaction shots before the alien fired. I.e., your guy was queued to fire twice before the alien, but the first one put the alien down.