UFO Ground Assault

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Explore the landing site and, if possible, gain entry to the UFO. The mission will be successful when all enemy units have been eliminated or neutralised. Recovery of UFO, artefacts and alien corpses can then be initiated.

Breaching UFOs

Most of a UFO ground assault is like any other mission. Use smoke grenades to disembark; illuminate the exterior in night missions with flares or fires; and use fire team tactics for Sweeping the Battlescape. The moment of entry into the UFO can be a unique challenge, however, as the first soldier inside a UFO strongroom is often a guaranteed casualty. Several measures can be taken to reduce the agony of this crucial (and sometimes climactic) phase of the battle.

1. Rookies ("puppets") first. It never hurts to deliberately take a few rookies or underachievers to absorb enemy reaction shots and/or psionic attacks. (You end up with a lot more Sergeants as these guys are rotated in and out of the Skyranger.) One of these should be sent first through UFO doors.

2. Cover the point. Have the rest of his fire team positioned a few squares behind with plenty of TUs to fire over his shoulder. They may be able to throw explosives (or even smoke) into the room, or even shoot all the aliens inside. They risk shooting the point (the rookie who entered the door), but the aliens are more likely to do that if you don't kill them all first. Any TUs the rookie uses to kneel, escape, or fire may get him shot. The aliens will have a harder time returning fire against shots over his shoulder (hitting the UFO wall etc). Save the point soldier's TUs until after the rest of the team has used all of theirs. Remember to NOT throw explosives until AFTER you have fired explosives.

3a. BANZAI!! (Note: Without the right equipment, this can be considered a "sacrificial rookie" tactic; but with the right equipment the rookie stands a good chance of survival. Consider a Power Suit and an Auto-Cannon with explosive ammunition for for this purpose, at least for the frontline rookies.)

The point may have to take one for the team. The worst case scenario is that the entire team misses the aliens, the aliens kill the point, and then come out to shoot the team (who burned all their TUs up covering the point). Even if the point tries to retreat, he may be shot, and if he is using a rifle-type weapon, he may still get shot after killing one alien. The solution is to use whatever explosives he is carrying to kill as many aliens inside as possible before dying, or upon death. Sufficient armor will allow him to do this with minimal personal risk.

Do this AFTER the team has tried and failed to clear the room. If he is carrying a grenade, prime it and, if for some reason he can't toss it (usually because he spent 8-14 TUs getting to and through the door) move him as far toward the group of aliens as possible. In a small room, he will be in their midst by the time they shoot him. If they don't kill him, and he has 2 TUs left, he can drop the primed grenade. This also works with smoke if the aliens are far enough away. If he is using rockets or explosive ammunition, fire at point blank range and blast everything in the room (preferably targeting the rear wall or alien). If he is wearing a power or flying suit, then ordinary grenades, AC-HE, and HC-HE ammunition will be nearly harmless. The edge of a rocket blast is also much less dangerous in armor. He or someone behind him may be able to bombard the room with minimal risk. Of course, in a small UFO the power source and Elerium may be nearby, so the use of extreme measures to clear the room in one turn may be at the expense of valuable resources. Another option is the Small Launcher, but the point has no defense against Stun Bombs. (see also #3b below)

3b. Shoot the rookie (gently). Send one rookie, wearing any armor, through the door. If he survives (which he often does, thanks to the mutual surprise rule), he can safely turn around to spot any aliens, as turning does not provoke Reaction fire. Unfortunately, taking any other action will likely prove fatal. So shoot him - with a Stun Bomb. With any luck, he'll drop to the floor, Unconscious - but alive (as long as he wasn't carrying a live grenade). Snipers can then shoot through the door at spotted aliens, from outside their sight range. This tactic works quite well when assaulting a Large Scout with destroyed interior; firing a large rocket through the open door and into the back wall has a good chance of killing the aliens who tend to lurk in that area.

The rookie could also carry a primed Smoke Grenade. This will go off after the rookie drops (for whatever reason), providing cover for the next soldier through the door.

Another soldier can pick him up and/or revive him after the room is secured. Be careful with explosives until then, as it is very easy to kill an unconscious soldier in any armor.

Alternate Strategy: Ambush (The old Stand-by). Depending on your soldiers' Reactions and Time Units, you may be able to form a firing line outside of dangerous rooms to wait for the aliens to emerge. On Superhuman difficulty, simply waiting outside a door may not prevent the emerging aliens from getting the first shot. You may need to force them to move out further, depleting TUs and ending up with less Initiative when they sight your soldiers. This can be accomplished by waiting around a nearby corner or by deploying a Smoke Grenade in front of the door with several squares' distance between the door and your firing line. Most of the aliens will pile out by Turn 20 or 21, but often a command crew will remain inside larger UFOs, and you still might employ the above tactics to finish the mission. Alternatively, set up a decoy... use either tanks or rookies to draw fire, while your more valuable troopers shoot any emerging aliens.

Also, beware of Blaster Bombs when setting up an ambush. If there is a clear path to a blaster-wielding Commander or Engineer (on battleships and base missions) it will blast the ambush team almost invariably. This is not a problem on all other UFOs (those not carrying blaster troopers). Terror Units also pose a threat to ambush teams due to their typically high armor and TUs. For these reasons, ambushes on missions associated with Terror Ships and Battleships should be carefully planned.

Supplemental Measure: Make a new hole. A second (or third, or fourth, or nth) entry in a UFO exterior created by a Blaster Bomb (or Heavy Plasma for interior walls) is a lot safer than a pre-existing door. Aliens can only patrol along the routes set in the game files and will be completely oblivious to any new entries/exits created. Aliens may know where your troops are, but will have to exit the normal doors in order to reach them. This allows your soldiers to set up ambush points along the perimeter of the UFO to nab aliens before they can do much harm.

Note: Proximity grenades may occasionally kill the aliens inside when one steps out, but this isn't always the case, and proximity grenades have other limitations (especially deep inside big UFOs).

4. Camp the Grav Lifts. This is really an exploit, but aliens don't know how to shoot down the lift shaft, so they're sitting ducks.

5. Shoot around corners is good ... Well, not really. But explosives can do damage to enemies (and objects) hiding around the corner, which means you can often avoid having to step around the corner and be immediately gunned down by a camping alien waiting to reaction shot you to death!

Specific UFO Tactics

Small Scout

If the alien is in the UFO, toss a grenade up the grav shaft or shoot up the shaft. Most likely, the alien will be found around the base of the UFO or about the battlescape.

Medium Scout

This UFO used to be hard to storm in the early part of the game, but improvements in Xcom knowledge has given rise to effective starting tactics. Later on, Stun Bombs are a good way of clearing the ship without destroying the precious Elerium. Or Psi... but then again, Psi beats EVERYTHING.

An Ambush strategy can work well. Early game, losing a Power Source, Navigation, and Elerium is NOT an option. ($660,000 worth of loot! And blowing up Elerium is WORSE than selling it.) And you have no blaster bombs. So ambush becomes one real option.

As for the remaining stragglers who refuse to come out... the Stun Rod is surprisingly good! Because it does not draw *immediate* reaction fire when used on aliens which cannot see you. See reaction fire triggers. Or a weapon with AutoFire. It's melee range is overcome by the fact that you are already at nearly point blank range after stepping through the door...

A rookie or two will usually die in any assault, but think of it this way... you could sell $200,000 worth of Elerium and buy 5 new rookies. 50 Elerium is actually worth much more than it's sell price though, I would say 1 elerium pod is worth more than 15 Rookie lives. (it's not worth failing the mission for though)

A new improved and practically foolproof method just developed (Jasonred 11:00, 5 April 2009 (EDT)) is to use Incendieries. This method leads to the probable death of ONE rookie in coveralls, or NO deaths if you have Personal Armor or Better. First, arm several troops with IN rockets, and AC-IN. Now, have your point guy walk through the door. Immediately stop moving him! Now... have all your other troops SHOOT HIM IN THE BACK with your Incendieries! The aliens will not have line of sight of your troops, since your decoy is blocking, so the whole interior will become a sea of flames, and the aliens will all be roasted without being able to shoot back. (So will the rookie in coveralls, but we all have to make sacrifices)

If you are willing to take advantage of bugs, then one way to do this without Personal Armor is to fire an Incendiery Rocket at the North, West or diagonal wall of the craft, then fire an Auto Cannon with IN ammo anywhere else.

Yet another bug exploit, but possibly forgivable since it is a sort-of-detrimental-and-yet-useful exploit is to use the Funky Fire Bug... with SMOKE. But smoke stun doesn't work on non Xcom units you say? ... that is the entire point! Have someone toss a smoke grenade on the floor in front of the UFO. Make rookie walk into smoke. Now, fire a lot of AC-HE shots somewhere else to KO that rookie! ... wait until he wakes up and have him breach the UFO. Now shoot him in the back with a IN Rocket. You'll probably set everything inside on fire, and also KO your rookie, giving him around 5 points of damage but putting out the fire. Now continue firing lots and lots of IN rounds into the UFO interior, cooking the aliens but leaving items untouched! (and unconscious units = items in gameplay mechanics) Of course, once you have small launcher, you could just have a rookie breach it and fire a stun bomb into his ass... simplifies matters a lot. But your main problems with breaching medium scouts will be at the very START of the game, so the most useful strategies are those that can be performed right from Month 1.

Large Scout

This is also hard to storm, as the grenade strategy does not work, then you have to kill/stun the navigators by rushing the command center, THEN kill the engineer in the engine room. Throwing High Explosives or firing Large Rockets (or even Stun Bombs) into the diagonal areas will allow the explosion to reach the inner bridge and may kill/stun aliens camped there. Then it's just a matter of luring the Engineer out of the engine room. Remember that the bridge has 2 entrances, and aliens will usually only be guarding 1 entrance. So you should mass your troops at both doors, then step through with 1 troop. If he gets shot at or if he has an alien facing him, charge in through the other door.


This ship has a weird layout, and is a total mess to storm without heavy plasmas and/or flying suits. If you have flying suits, enter the East door, then clear the ground floor and fly up to clear the remainder of the craft. Easiest to camp the Grav lifts, exploiting the poor AI.


Finally, one which is not quite so problematic to storm. Enter through the door, slaughter any alien in the entryway, then rush the next room. Either burn through the roof and kill the commanders (recommended) or work your way over to the grav lift, move up a floor, and then kill the command crew (only do this if you lack heavy plasmas). Either way, the command team is dead, and you just have to clean up the surviving, panicked crew.

Supply Ship

Mount a 2-pronged assault through both entrances, and blow your way in through the third floor walls to kill the command crew. The back of the first floor is surprisingly a common source of deaths for whatever reason, and the second floor is excellent for alien last stands, because of the compact quarters. In an unmodified map, the South East exterior door lacks a thru-route which makes it safe to stand behind it during the aliens turn. On your round you can safely enter the door, shoot at any enemies and then duck back out without many repercussions.

Terror Ship

This ship has the advantage that you can use HWPs to get your troops in, but they also have a terror unit ambush spot at each side. There is an open spot where terror units (like Chryssalids) like to jump down from. Fortunately, they also have a bridge with an exposed diagonal wall. Send in two blaster bombs and all the navigators, leaders, medics, and some of the engineers are dead. Follow up with flying suits while sending land-bound troops in on the bottom floor after your tanks.


The battleship is easy to enter, but filled with ambush spots. As usual, make a hole and kill the command crew. They tend to be in a defensive position covering the top-floor grav lift, so surprise and maybe stun them. Meanwhile, send a tank up to the second floor, then sweep the ship and blow a hole in the tiny room on the second floor. There are a few spots on L1 (the second floor) where large terror units may be stuck inside a wall. This affliction can sometimes help as you can target those areas from below with grenades before entering that level.

Assaulting Supply Ships with JFG

After staking out a Floater base and getting a recovery craft set up, I was hijacking a Supply Ship every week for a month, and be darned if I wasn't starting to follow a pattern. I had a modified Firestorm stalking them, with 6 soldiers and a HWP. After clearing the outside and sniping a few at the exit, I'd breach with a team of 3 at each door. Clear the one or two aliens usually at the grav lifts, quickly peek into the engine room in passing (150 units of intact Elerium-115 waiting, sweet); send one guy straight to the top floor to hide by the door, while the other two on his team go halfway up and bust open the shaft with plasma rounds. Five guys sweep the middle deck. Usually the floaters are starting to panic by now. Then all six troops re-converge on the lift, head for the upper deck, and advance on the control room. First guy out of the lift turns right, the second turns left, checks the corner, then turns to stand next to the closed door to the south, third advances past second guy to snipe towards control room, and the fourth (if time) enters the closed door to the south. Then it's just a matter of leap-frogging most of the team up the north corridor towards the control room with overwatch while one or two do a quick sweep of the narrow south corridor, perhaps opening a shortcut across the waist of the ship with heavy plasma along the way.

Occasionally I'd vary this routine by hitting the floor of the control room from below with HE-HC or stun rounds, but that could be considered cheating. But not as exploitative as the time I shoved a brick of HE up through the floor of the control room. A quick way to end the mission. Also fun is tossing HE or alien grenades into the diagonal walls at the back of the ship, near the lifts, from outside, with a long delay; if timed right, this kills anyone near the lifts inside just before the breaching team gets there. In mountain terrain, this might even destroy the outer wall at the waist of the ship! Easy lift access if I had stuck around!

And all that procedure comes from harsh experience, like the time I forgot to check the corner after coming out of the top level lift and was shot in the back.

And it got me a Sectoid leader for Psionics, too, once I had identified my weakest link and given him a standard pistol and smoke grenades. The decoy was being alternately panicked and controlled somewhere out in the forest right up until the powersuits kicked in the control room door and hit the preoccupied leader with stun rounds at point blank range. Previously, every attempted Sectoid supply ship hijacking or Sectoid base raid had been a psi-attacked disaster.

--JellyfishGreen 14:26, 23 May 2005 (BST)

Note: This was on Normal difficulty. At Superhuman difficulty, there's a few more aliens around, and it becomes wiser to stand in the lift (since aliens don't shoot down well) than to hide by the door. --JellyfishGreen 01:35, 26 Sep 2005 (PDT)


  • In the above example "I had a modified Firestorm stalking them, with 6 soldiers and a HWP" indicates a modified game using XcomUtil. In an unmodified game this is just an interception craft.
  • If you want Elerium, don't use explosives near the power cores.
  • If you have stunned a 'soldier' class and don't want it, relocate it and grenade it, or use medikits to awaken then shoot.
  • If you assault craft that are landed you will get more things to sell, but there may be more aliens to shoot your head off.

For medium-sized and larger UFO's in the later game, your best friends are some flying suits and a blaster bomb. Use the blaster to make a hole in the topmost level of the craft--only blasters can pierce the outer walls of UFOs. Then send in your flying units. This will let you take out the alien leader sooner-- which I believe adversely effects the morales of the enemy-- and lets you attack from an unexpected angle.

In general, it's best to make new doors inside a UFO than use the existing ones, since the aliens have a tougher time setting up ambushes that way. Use heavy plasma to shoot open internal walls (see Destroying Terrain). --Papa Legba 13:09, 22 Nov 2005 (PST)

If you feel like you absolutely must use a lot of explosives, you can save the Elerium by shooting the power source (with a non explosive weapon), and then picking up the Elerium crystal in the inventory. I don't find it worth the time to do, but if you must use explosives then it's better than losing 50 Elerium ~~ Blehm

See Also

UFO Crash Recovery

UFO Badge X-COM: Enemy Unknown/UFO Defense
Mission Types:Crashed UFOLanded UFOTerror SiteAlien BaseBase DefenceCydonia