Help me enjoy X-Com

You'll need to look through your squad and find the people with the highest strength. Take note of their names (Or even append a HW to their names) so you can assign them the heavy guns at the start of each mission. The computer just throws the Autocannon and Heavy Cannon on the first two people on the ship, which aren't necessarily the right people for heavies.

Also, you might want to go back a few pages and watch the youtube vids that were posted showing how to weed out bad recruits. Weed them out, put reaction times (I also include accuracy and the HW tag if they are strong enough) and buy some more recruits so your starting position is better. I followed that tutorial and I've been doing pretty well on genius difficulty, which I've never attempted before.

bighoppa wrote:

You'll need to look through your squad and find the people with the highest strength. Take note of their names (Or even append a HW to their names) so you can assign them the heavy guns at the start of each mission. The computer just throws the Autocannon and Heavy Cannon on the first two people on the ship, which aren't necessarily the right people for heavies.

Also, you might want to go back a few pages and watch the youtube vids that were posted showing how to weed out bad recruits. Weed them out, put reaction times (I also include accuracy and the HW tag if they are strong enough) and buy some more recruits so your starting position is better. I followed that tutorial and I've been doing pretty well on genius difficulty, which I've never attempted before.

This I have been doing, and having some success with it. My question is whether or not I can move those soldiers with high strength (and whom I have given my heavy weapons) to the middle of the ship. So the soldiers by the door are my cannon fodder.

nihilo wrote:
bighoppa wrote:

You'll need to look through your squad and find the people with the highest strength. Take note of their names (Or even append a HW to their names) so you can assign them the heavy guns at the start of each mission. The computer just throws the Autocannon and Heavy Cannon on the first two people on the ship, which aren't necessarily the right people for heavies.

Also, you might want to go back a few pages and watch the youtube vids that were posted showing how to weed out bad recruits. Weed them out, put reaction times (I also include accuracy and the HW tag if they are strong enough) and buy some more recruits so your starting position is better. I followed that tutorial and I've been doing pretty well on genius difficulty, which I've never attempted before.

This I have been doing, and having some success with it. My question is whether or not I can move those soldiers with high strength (and whom I have given my heavy weapons) to the middle of the ship. So the soldiers by the door are my cannon fodder.

The only way to move the order around is editing tools. I'm trying to remember which one I used.

Hmm.. I probably don't want to muck around with that. I'll just stick with sending my tank out first to soak up enemy fire. It's quite good at it.

I find this thread frightening, but the past 20 pages have helped me enjoy X-Com.

Thanks guys! Now I won't have to install my recent purchase!

So I decided to finally jump into X-Com last night, and came out of my first combat mission very, very underwhelmed. I had read the tutorials and the manual regarding combat, and some of the early pointers in this thread.

My team got absolutely devastated.

I has being very cautious - sending people in together to ensure I could put some sustained pressure on the aliens, keeping them kneeled whenever possible to improve accuracy and present worse targets. I set myself up where I had 4 guys shooting at 2 aliens across a field. The aliens basically devastated me - I kept missing them (even with aimed shots) and they kept hitting me (even when kneeled). I finally killed them, and then moved with my 4 surviving guys to the UFO. After finally finding the door, I moved in and my man in the entrance got destroyed by 2 aliens that were just waiting. I figured that I would set up outside the door and wait for them to come out. 5 turns later, they were still chilling inside. I sent a few people in in frustration, they got smoked as well.

I dislike the absolute lack of feedback as to what I'm doing, or what I'm doing wrong. The cost of movement, kneeling, getting up, etc is pretty unclear, as is stuff like line of sight. The UI is pretty annoying and unintuitive. All my troops look identical.

I also dislike games that are so unforgiving early on. If I make a mistake in the first level, my team wipes. How about you put me up against some weakling enemies so I can actually learn some strategy instead of getting smoked by them and quitting in frustration? I have no problem if you want to ramp up the difficulty once I'm actually familiar with the gameplay concepts, but there's no excuse for throwing me in the deep end right away.

I understand that it's an old game and so don't begrudge it its flaws - I'm just surprised that so many people still find it so entertaining to this day.

Either way - I'm willing to give it another shot, based on reputation alone. So please - help me enjoy X-Com by helping me get through the very first mission without wiping.

I kept missing them (even with aimed shots)

Auto shot. Much better use of TP until accuracy improves. Sometimes still better even after accuracy improves.

5 turns later, they were still chilling inside.

If I'm not back in 10 minutes -- wait another 10 minutes. Just keep waiting them out. Alternatively, bring proximity grenades and mine the door, then wait.

The cost of movement, kneeling, getting up, etc is pretty unclear, as is stuff like line of sight.

Experiment. Everything costs some time, even changing facing (which is right click in that direction by the way). Use the reserve boxes. If you are unfamiliar with them, they're the big red boxes on the left side. Green arrow is "let me use all my TP", the others are "reserve enough time for a snap shot/aimed shot/auto shot". Those buttons are key to your survival. You're better off taking one step at a time than standing in front of a hostile with no points left.

All my troops look identical.

Change their names to something that means something to you. Troops with low bravery are a liability. Troops with good strength, bravery and accuracy are treasures. Change their names to their stats if it helps, or come up with your own naming system that tells you who's important and who's not. If folks who aren't important die, you buy more troops. Folks who aren't important breach doors.

That help?

Dysplastic wrote:

I set myself up where I had 4 guys shooting at 2 aliens across a field. The aliens basically devastated me - I kept missing them (even with aimed shots) and they kept hitting me (even when kneeled).

Quoting from the second post in this thread. But it bears repeating, over and over again:

MoonDragon wrote:

Rule number 1: There is no such thing as an overkill. I mean it. If you have to level 3 city blocks to kill a single furry alien, then do it. In the beginning of the game grenades are probably the most powerful thing in your arsenal. Use them. A lot.

In your first mission, you don't stand across the field and trade shots with aliens like you were Nelson and he was Napoleon. You carpet bomb the mofos to the hell they came from. The moment you detected the first alien, 4 granades should have been flying towards it. Along with some rockets from a rocket launcher(s) and a rocket tank. None of this: I will kneel here and aim my shot at you, sir, after which you aim your shot at me.

Besides, what are you doing fighting 4 guys on your first mission. Why aren't you fighting one guy in a very small ufo?

If you sacrifice cannon fodder going into a door, you need to follow it up with more cannon fodder right behind him. The aliens have limited TUs as well. If the first guy died, the aliens will have less TUs to light up the next guy. Of course, this assumes you have cannon fodder to spare and that you need to get through that door in a hurry.

Another idea is to give some cannon fodder a grenade, pull the pin and run through the door. I'm not a big fan of that one, but it is darkly funny.

The option of waiting them out will probably save you the most men. Set up a kill field by the door and wait for the aliens to show their heads. It may take 10 turns, 15, 20. There's no penalty for taking a long time to complete a mission.

Reminds me of the number one tip for success in the field for this game: take your time! I often have guys sitting with 30-40 TUs at the end of my turn. Those are the guys with the most accuracy and best reaction time. They are providing cover. The less valuable soldiers are running around trying to find aliens without getting shot.

Also, never go through the front door of a house when you can blast a hole through the side somewhere.

nihilo wrote:

Also, never go through the front door of a house when you can blast a hole through the side somewhere.

So true. Blaster launcher, you're my only friend.

LilCodger wrote:

If I'm not back in 10 minutes -- wait another 10 minutes. Just keep waiting them out. Alternatively, bring proximity grenades and mine the door, then wait.

You're better off taking one step at a time than standing in front of a hostile with no points left.

I can't help but feel like both those points sound like they would make for a very boring game.

Besides, what are you doing fighting 4 guys on your first mission. Why aren't you fighting one guy in a very small ufo?

Because these were the guys in the first UFO I shot down? How am I supposed to know how many guys are in the UFO before I go after it?

Also, at the start, the Autocannon with explosive rounds is very handy. It may not be very accurate, but it fires a three-shot autofire. If you miss, the shots blow up. Quite effective at the start of the game.

Dysplastic wrote:

I dislike the absolute lack of feedback as to what I'm doing, or what I'm doing wrong. The cost of movement, kneeling, getting up, etc is pretty unclear, as is stuff like line of sight. The UI is pretty annoying and unintuitive. All my troops look identical.

Cost of moving = 4 TU's to walk orthagonally, 6 diagonally, 4 to crouch, 4 to get up (I think) plus each movement takes a bit out of your stamina, too. As for turning, that's a 1 TU per 90 degrees and turning 45 degrees still takes 1. Picking stuff up / moving things in your inventory takes a lot of time, and I'm not sure how much.Shooting tells you on a per person basis when you pick your shot type.

Line of sight, check for the red flashing box with a number in it. If it's not there, you don't have line of sight and if it is, 9 times out of 10, you have a clear shot (assuming the guy shoots straight enough). Also click that flashing box to zoom to the alien in question.

Does that clear up Time Units a bit for ya?

Dysplastic wrote:
LilCodger wrote:

If I'm not back in 10 minutes -- wait another 10 minutes. Just keep waiting them out. Alternatively, bring proximity grenades and mine the door, then wait.

You're better off taking one step at a time than standing in front of a hostile with no points left.

I can't help but feel like both those points sound like they would make for a very boring game.

You'll find that you get into a rhythm and start to learn how far you can go and still be okay. Also, not everybody needs to move every turn. Leapfrog your guys, don't move someone into an area without plenty of covering fire behind him.

Turns where you're not moving go by very quickly. Just end turn.

mrtomaytohead wrote:

Line of sight, check for the red flashing box with a number in it. If it's not there, you don't have line of sight and if it is, 9 times out of 10, you have a clear shot (assuming the guy shoots straight enough). Also click that flashing box to zoom to the alien in question.

Its not always true that if the number isn't there you don't have line of sight. Sometimes an enemy is out of range, but still in line of sight. You need to order him to fire to actually see 100% whether or not you have line of sight.

If you don't have line of sight on an alien.. what's blocking you? Is it the side of a barn? Blow it up. Now you have line of sight. A house? Blow it up. A cute puppy? Blow it up. The only thing you can't do this for is an alien spaceship.

Dysplastic wrote:

I can't help but feel like both those points sound like they would make for a very boring game.

So don't wait then. I never, ever, waited like that in any of my games. Bunch up all your guys by the door. Pick the red shirt and make him run through the door. Then, while the door is still opened rush all the rest of your team through. Make sure nobody that can die has primed grenades in their hands though. Or if they do, and they die, make sure someone else picks up the grenade off the floor.

Yeah I never waited at the door like that, I always burst through the door quickly with several people.

As far as you attacking a small spaceship (as opposed to a very small one) I wouldn't worry about it. I always just attacked the first thing I saw. As far as the difficulty curve goes, well, they do send the easy guys against you at first. It gets way worse. But your people get a lot better, and more importantly you get a lot better. It is a very difficult start, but I think that it's a conscious decision to set the mood and send a message to the player.

Two quick pieces of advice (though they have already been said):
1. Use Autoshot instead of aimed shot. Say Autoshot has a 55% chance to hit, and Aimed shot has a 75% chance to hit. That means that the aimed shot has a 75% chance to hit once, but the autoshot has a 90.8% chance to hit at least once.

The only time I use aimed shot instead of autoshot is if there is a civilian or teammate somewhere sort of near the direction I am firing.

2. Try as hard as you can to end your turn
a. Behind Cover
b. Crouched
c. With enough TU to shoot back at any enemies.

You don't have to always have everyone in the team like this, but most of them should be.

Aimed shot. When you absolutely, positively need to miss.

Also mentioned earlier but, in the early missions tanks are your friend. Bring a tank or two. Tank Tank, Tank Tank Tank. Tank. Tank Tank Tank. Tank. Seriously bring a Tank... Tank.

Dysplastic wrote:
LilCodger wrote:

If I'm not back in 10 minutes -- wait another 10 minutes. Just keep waiting them out. Alternatively, bring proximity grenades and mine the door, then wait.

You're better off taking one step at a time than standing in front of a hostile with no points left.

I can't help but feel like both those points sound like they would make for a very boring game.

Well, it is a turn based strategy game.

I was trying to offer you an alternative to the other thing you didn't like. In the early stages, you have two options for UFO/building entry -- wait, or go in guns blazing.

Personally, I'm with MoonDragon only even more extreme. I frequently have one of my best guys breach the door. I don't know the algorithms, but he typically gets to walk in and blast away. Maybe it's a "my reactions vs. their reactions"? When you go in and there's two or three aliens inside? Serious pucker factor there.

In my last playthrough inspired by this thread I did it with the guy named after me. Mofo ended up living through it all and being the highest ranking officer with a metric crapton of kills. YMMV.

nihilo wrote:
mrtomaytohead wrote:

Line of sight, check for the red flashing box with a number in it. If it's not there, you don't have line of sight and if it is, 9 times out of 10, you have a clear shot (assuming the guy shoots straight enough). Also click that flashing box to zoom to the alien in question.

Its not always true that if the number isn't there you don't have line of sight. Sometimes an enemy is out of range, but still in line of sight. You need to order him to fire to actually see 100% whether or not you have line of sight.

If you don't have line of sight on an alien.. what's blocking you? Is it the side of a barn? Blow it up. Now you have line of sight. A house? Blow it up. A cute puppy? Blow it up. The only thing you can't do this for is an alien spaceship.

You are correct, I didn't feel like explaining how the aliens see further than humans.

LilCodger wrote:

Well, it is a turn based strategy game.

This is what's wierd, though - I'm a fan of turn based strategy games, both of the computer and board variety. But there's something about this one that's pretty off-putting to me. The interface is really frustrating to me - I'm used to modern conventions where the map is divided into hexes, and it shows me how far I can move on any given turn. As it stands, I have to click a square I want to move to, and if it's too far, the computer will tell me that it's too far - without telling me which square ISN'T too far. I had to post here to find out that my guns suck and I should just be throwing grenades. And I'm still not exactly sure how they work - do I need to arm them before I throw them? Because that costs a hell of a lot of points, too. I'm aso not clear on what constitutes cover - I get that if I'm around the corner, they can't see me - but if I'm behind a fence, am I behind cover?

I dunno. I feel like the game wants me to make very strategic decisions without equipping me with the proper tools to make those decisions.

Early on, explosives are your friend. Right up there with flares for night missions.

Autocannons with explosive round.
Grenades.
More grenades.
High explosives (open door, step aside, guy behind you tosses in the satchel, step back, close door, step aside. Next turn, go through the door to survey the damage.)
Rocket launchers (one guy with heavy rockets, one guy with reloads for him. One guy with small rockets, for when the targets are too close to something you might want to save).

Initially, you have lousy aim. Be sure to take a few shots, but also, grenade the frak out of them. AoE, there is no such thing as overkill. Just insurance paperwork.

Oh, and try a smoke grenade or two, too. Sure, you can't see the aliens in the smoke (and they can't see out), but you can still toss in regular grenades, fire explosives into the area, etc. And sometimes the aliens pass out from the smoke. When they do, loot their bodies, so they can't recover, stand up and shoot you.

Its sad the way small UFOs always seem to level the farm they land at. Why did the aliens run around and blow up the barn, the shed, the farm house, the fences, the fields, the sheep? Dunno, they are aliens, after all. Not from around here, you see. Now if you will excuse me, have to haul these alien gizmos back to base and restock on grenades...

I dunno. I feel like the game wants me to make very strategic decisions without equipping me with the proper tools to make those decisions.

All true, and yet the game itself remains awesome. You are in a fight to the death with strange aliens. They want to rip your lungs out and chew on your liver. You don't know jack sh*t about how to fight them. The early punishment is part of the suspension of disbelief.... if aliens were really attacking, they wouldn't carefully explain how to be beaten.

You don't get a babysitter, you just get a lasgun. Make it work.

(X-Com, more than almost any other game, rewards patience and intelligence. You can get good at fighting those guys, even devastatingly good, but you have to figure out how. Success in X-Com is sweet indeed, because you earned it.)

Dysplastic wrote:

I had to post here to find out that my guns suck and I should just be throwing grenades. And I'm still not exactly sure how they work - do I need to arm them before I throw them? Because that costs a hell of a lot of points, too. I'm aso not clear on what constitutes cover - I get that if I'm around the corner, they can't see me - but if I'm behind a fence, am I behind cover?

I dunno. I feel like the game wants me to make very strategic decisions without equipping me with the proper tools to make those decisions.

As far as cover goes, just go with your gut. Being on the other side of a space ship wall is good cover, only blasters can penetrate. Being around the corner is decent cover, you aren't in line of sight, but the walls aren't too strong, autofire or a grenade may get you. A fence, bush, or a light post is ok. They can see you and shoot at you, but if you're lucky it will hit the bush instead.

As far as guns sucking, well your starting guns do suck, but I rarely used grenades, I just tried to get laser and plasma weapons as soon as possible. Most of these things aren't things you "have to know" when you start playing them. Some of them are purely a matter of personal preference (expensive tank vs soldier that can increase in skill), other things, while not particularly a matter of preference (seeking cover is never a bad idea) aren't things that you need to know going in. Every horrified scream of those under your command teaches you either how to do something better, and that even when you do something perfectly people will still die, just less often.

You do need to arm the grenades before throwing them.

Yeah, buy a bunch of scientists and research laser weapons immediately. Even a laser pistol is a significant improvement over the crappy starting rifle, and it has the advantage of being one-handed, meaning you can have a grenade in the other hand. For grenades, yes, you have to arm them, then throw them. If you set the delay to 0, they explode when they hit. Or, tragically, when the guy holding them is killed and drops them, blowing everything around him up.

The laser rifle remains a reasonably good weapon for quite a while, at least until you run into Mutons. At which point is becomes a very not-good weapon.

Dysplastic wrote:

I'm used to modern conventions where [examples]

I dunno. I feel like the game wants me to make very strategic decisions without equipping me with the proper tools to make those decisions.

Fair point. But those conventions all came around because somebody made a great game and the people playing it said "Man, I wish that (something)." This is that game.

Part of the problem is that this is an old game. The conventions were different then. Also, games were harder. And we had to walk uphill with no shoes. But I digress; the tutorials that we see everywhere now simply weren't done. Tutorials appeared in the manual if at all. (X-Com does, in fact, have a basic tutorial walkthrough in the manual, which explains basic mechanics, the maps, and how to use guns / grenades.)

Part of the other problem is that they tried - and I would say succeeded - to make the game such that "the proper tools" would mostly consist of common sense and insight. If you hid behind a fence in real life, would it provide cover? Well yeah, but they might shoot you through the holes in the fence. So it provides partial cover. (Play the game enough, and use fences as cover, and you'll see this is the case - sometimes a bullet passes through the fence, sometimes it bounces off the fence, and sometimes it destroys the fence.) Most of the time, if you think it might work in real life, it more or less will in the game. Think there might be an alien in a closed building? Throw a smoke grenade in the window and smoke him out. Want to draw aliens out of their UFO? Be real quiet and maybe they'll think you left. Getting hassled by a guy with a rocket launcher? Hit him with explosives and maybe the rockets in his backpack will go off.

Want to keep your guys alive? Leapfrog them around and give them cover to hide behind, and make sure there's a couple snipers watching over them when they move. Covering fire is also very worthwhile, especially once you get lasers and infinite ammo. Near-misses damage morale, and low-morale guys don't take risks, so you can keep an alien from popping out of cover and going after your guys just by spraying the area with gunfire. Use your low-reaction guys to spray an area and keep your high-reaction guys ready to dust anything stupid enough to stand up.

Edit: Also bear in mind that each turn is maybe 5 seconds long (an entire turn of TUs can be burned up by standing, firing a couple shots, and crouching again). So if you're standing around the entrance to the UFO for 6 turns waiting for the aliens to come out, you've been quiet for about 30 seconds. That's not usually enough to convince them it's safe to step outside.

I certainly wouldn't mind a revamped interface for X-Com. Though we've been pining for an updated version for years.

Yonder wrote:

The only time I use aimed shot instead of autoshot is if there is a civilian or teammate somewhere sort of near the direction I am firing.

Screw the civilians. My favorite memories of X-Com involve killing civilians before they could be zombified by nearby Chryssalids. Sometimes you have to destroy the village in order to save it.

Malor wrote:

The early punishment is part of the suspension of disbelief.... if aliens were really attacking, they wouldn't carefully explain how to be beaten.

But if Aliens really were attacking, wouldn't they send in more than a squad of rookie marines to deal with them? What the hell, earth!

X-Com, more than almost any other game, rewards patience and intelligence.

I have the intelligence, but I don't think I have the patience. I've been spoiled, I guess.

gbuchold wrote:

Part of the other problem is that they tried - and I would say succeeded - to make the game such that "the proper tools" would mostly consist of common sense and insight.

The more I think about it, I think the whole "TU" system is really what's pissing me off, and I'd argue that it's overcomplicated (and not common sense) compared to other turn based games. I had absolutely no problems with the AP systems in the Fallout games - they were simple and made sense. The system here seems a lot more obtuse.

Dysplastic wrote:
Malor wrote:

The early punishment is part of the suspension of disbelief.... if aliens were really attacking, they wouldn't carefully explain how to be beaten.

But if Aliens really were attacking, wouldn't they send in more than a squad of rookie marines to deal with them? What the hell, earth!

Just wait until they start pulling your funding. Seriously, guys, I've been making some huge advances and finally having success! And now you're pulling the plug?

My engineers need to get working in overdrive to fund my little private army.

ExitPursuedByBear wrote:
Yonder wrote:

The only time I use aimed shot instead of autoshot is if there is a civilian or teammate somewhere sort of near the direction I am firing.

Screw the civilians. My favorite memories of X-Com involve killing civilians before they could be zombified by nearby Chryssalids. Sometimes you have to destroy the village in order to save it.

Ah, Chryssalids. I still remember my first terror mission with them years ago. I'd picked the game up because it looked interesting, and was sitting around in the dark, trying to figure out what I was doing. I see these weird insect-like creatures. "Oh, I better shoot those," I think. So I do. "Uh, I better shoot those again," I think. And I do. "Oh crap! It's still coming! What the . . . what did my guy turn into? What is that? Wait, it's hatching! OH sh*t!!!"