Help me enjoy X-Com

An additional sidenote: I noticed Steam doesnt use the latest version of DOSBox, so... I had fun updating it manually to the latest .73. Isn't that crazy... I don't have to patch, but I seek out ways to tinker. I'm insaaaaaaaane.

grobstein wrote:

Borderline irrelevant but: I just discovered that the Steam XCOM package runs great on Mac DOSBox too.

Because this was the last post on the page, and I think a couple people have mentioned Macs and not being able to run this game. Steam runs on a Mac?

No, but you can download the game from Steam on a Windows box, whether emulated or on real hardware, doesn't matter, and then move the unencrypted files to a Mac, where you can play them with Mac DOSBox. Even on Steam, it's running via DOSBox... you're just moving the files and starting up a different emulator.

X-Com is a really, really old game... it just needs DOS to run.

mrtomaytohead wrote:
grobstein wrote:

Borderline irrelevant but: I just discovered that the Steam XCOM package runs great on Mac DOSBox too.

Because this was the last post on the page, and I think a couple people have mentioned Macs and not being able to run this game. Steam runs on a Mac?

In Wine it does. =) At least, usually enough to install stuff...

So I fired up X-Com yet again specifically because of this thread - after a few UFOs shot over sea my first mission was the terror one. During daytime. My last guy lost to their last guy. Goddamn! It was great anyway, a few reapers (and houses) died because of well-aimed rockets, the stupid last floater decided to evade a few autoshots (with 17% accuracy, oh well). Anyway, this game is great!

I couldn't follow up on everything but I've played this game a lot.

I learned a tactic of base defense after getting attacked on month 1 in beginner difficulty (my best weapon was a laser pistol and I had 2 or 3).

Spoiler:

- Hide your people behind doors
- When the turn starts someone opens the door and take a peek . If he sees an alien facing him find another soldier to go kill that alien(shoot it in the back . If the alien is not facing your soldier shoot it autofire preferably point blank range.
- If you don't see anything go back inside face the door and go to the next soldier then end turn

This way you can avoid getting hit by a blaster launcher . Those alien also like bringing heavy plasma on base raids and they can be deadly in the early stages of the game.

There is also a tactic of how to deal with alien inside a ship safely that is based on the same idea (aliens lose their patience at some point ).

By the way, there is an epic X-Com AAR thread over at the Penny Arcade forums:

Part One and Part Two.

X-Com inspires better fanfic than almost any other game.

My start strat for those new to the game. Pick your first base, put it in Europe if you want. It autopopulates with some soldiers, scientists, and engies. Immediately put the scientists to work on the research project of your choice by using the research button inside the base. Immediately purchase a base upgrade for storage, and for living quarters.

Buy 30 proximity grenades. Figure out how to use em, later. Buy two more Avalanche launchers, and 30 avalanche missiles. Put both your current ava's on interceptor 1 and send him out always. Retrofit Int2 when the other av's roll in.

Then purchase 30 more soldiers from the purchase button inside the base. When those soldiers arrive, fire anybody with less than 40 bravery. If you still have more than 10 soldiers, fire the ones with 40 bravery, too. Purchase more soldiers until you can flesh out a team of 12-14 with 50+ bravery. Name the one with the most AP's but the worst accuracy after me (optional). Load 8 on the ship. You can load up to 12, but it is just too many to control, in the beginning.

If you have any money left over, purchase as many scientists as can. You will be limited by cash or living quarters until you can finish the construction from paragraph 1. keep the scientists busy. After their first discovery, keep the engie's busy, too. And sell off what they make that you don't need. I think laser pistols are the best $/engiehour, but I could be wrong.

As you bring things in, sell off corpses, mind probes (keep one for research) and crap like alien entertainment to keep the ware machine stoked with monies.

Month two: Build a base far from your first with a hangar, stores, living quarters, and radar. Buy another interceptor and two avalanche launchers after the hangar is built. Shoot down more aliens.

That AAR thread, by the way, is thoroughly impressive and great fun to read.

There is also an entertaining TFTD thread on the Penny Arcade forums here.

So, I know I promised another mission a while ago, but I decided to give it a bit of a break, beat Mass Effect 2, then come back. I did so tonight - revved up the boys, brought down a craft, waited until daytime, and entered.

SUCCESS!

So daytime makes a huge, huge difference. I can actually see the opposition! And with Autoshot, have a good chance at hitting them! The first mission was a huge success, with me wiping out 4 aliens with no casualties. They seemed to be laid out pretty easily, though, so I figured I'd give it another go. I was prepared, though - I had a tank and EVERYTHING.

Second mission was a success as well, but didn't go so well - I lost 3 men. But that second mission is what finally made me see the appeal - Holy sh*t, I lost 3 men! But now I have tons of cash, more tech, and my guys have gained experience!

So yeah, it was a bit of a tough slog at first, but I learnt me some lessons and I'm actually into it now. Mostly, I just wish the game told me not to go in at night

Some observations/questions -

1) My 400 000 dollar tank got 1 shot by an alien before it could do anything. I was pretty disappointed. Why is the tank so great? Why not just send in a cheaper rookie to take that hit instead? I assumed a tank could take a bit of damage, but it getting 1-shot was a shocker.

2) So it's happened several times where I've had guys prep grenades to throw the next turn, only to have the alien they were going to throw the 'nade at die before they could throw it. So the next turn, I had them throw the nade into an empty field. Does this happen a lot to you guys too? Do you normally only throw same turn grenades? Also, is there a way to check which grenades are currently active? I'd like to set a grenade for 5 turns from now just in case I run into a standoff from an alien, but don't want to forget about it. Really, I think the grenade timer is all pretty silly - I want contact grenades, dammit!

3) My guys with the heavy weapons (Auto Cannons, etc) lose a cut off their max TU's just for having it equiped. Is there any way to mitigate this? Is this a function of strength?

4) At this point, both me and the aliens seem to be getting 1-shot - I die on one hit, but they also die on one rifle hit. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do to have my troops take a bit more heat beyond leveling them?

5) So, at the end of the missions, I have all this alien loot - mind probes, corpses, etc. Should I just sell it all? Or is there a reason to keep it I can't see right now?
Thanks for encouraging me to stick with this, guys. It will be a slow burn, but I can see many a late-night alien kill-fest coming up.

1. Losing a tank is much better later on since you can't choose who stands a tthe front and if your veteran commander gets one shot the blow to morale and ensuing panic can end your mission very quickly.

2. I tend to hold an unprimed grenade in hte off hand and prime and throw on the same turn. YMMV

3. Rename guys with high strength, append there name with an S or something so oyu know they get the heavy weapons. I use HW for Heavy weapons

4. research alien alloys and then personal armour, that'll get you started with protection, as for aliens, the sectoids are squishy, wait until you see how much a muton or chryssalid can soak up.

5. hold onto alien ship components, you'll need a few to build your own craft. hold onto at least 1 of everything else until you've researched it. if you're going into plasma weapons don't sell any ammo, and NEVER sell Elerium.

Prozac nailed it. Regarding tanks: I don't think you take the points penalty when a tank "dies" that you take when you lose a xcom operative. I'll also add the reminder that you should also consider culling out the low bravery people, they can really hamper a mission. I'm pretty sure there are proximity grenades. Just be careful because they also detect your proximity. I've thrown plenty of proximity grenades only to forget where they were and KABOOM... one less good guy.

Grenades don't explode in your hand. The number you prime the grenade for is not turns, but steps (you can easily test that). I don't know why it even exist, to be honest with you. Pre-primed grenades are only dangerous if your guy gets shot and drops the grenade. This, on the other hand, can be a good tactic for clearing out entrenched aliens with your low morale (or otherwise undesirable) people.

In other words, if you keep your guys properly spaced out, you can prime grenades in their left hands (to 0 time), and keep playing. When needed, toss the grenade.

Prozac did a great job of answering these questions, I'll just add my $.02 worth:

Dysplastic wrote:

Some observations/questions -

1) My 400 000 dollar tank got 1 shot by an alien before it could do anything. I was pretty disappointed. Why is the tank so great? Why not just send in a cheaper rookie to take that hit instead? I assumed a tank could take a bit of damage, but it getting 1-shot was a shocker.

Yeah, sometimes this happens and it sucks. But this is not normally what happens. Usually, tanks will soak up more damage, they can move farther than your squaddies can at this point and they tend to have more firepower than almost everyone in your squad (unless they all have rocket launchers). Also, since the tank is first out your squaddies are safe while deploying. So always carry a tank. You can make better tanks too (love me some plasma hover tanks).

Dysplastic wrote:

2) So it's happened several times where I've had guys prep grenades to throw the next turn, only to have the alien they were going to throw the 'nade at die before they could throw it. So the next turn, I had them throw the nade into an empty field. Does this happen a lot to you guys too? Do you normally only throw same turn grenades? Also, is there a way to check which grenades are currently active? I'd like to set a grenade for 5 turns from now just in case I run into a standoff from an alien, but don't want to forget about it. Really, I think the grenade timer is all pretty silly - I want contact grenades, dammit!

I usually use a 1 turn grenade, the aliens usually do not move far enough to get out of the blast radius in one turn. I only use grenades for emergency purposes (as in, "I know there's an alien around that corner but I do not want to expose my soldier, time for a grenade" sort of thing). I use proximity grenades much more often, since they act more like "contact" grenades. Arm one, toss it somewhere, and you don't have to worry too much about that area. If you have to go back through where you tossed a prox, then just shooting it will set it off. Also, they are great to set in front of doors into a UFO or inside a UFO.

Dysplastic wrote:

3) My guys with the heavy weapons (Auto Cannons, etc) lose a cut off their max TU's just for having it equiped. Is there any way to mitigate this? Is this a function of strength?

You need high strength guys to carry the heavy stuff. As Prozac said, indicate which of your guys are HW guys by inidcating it in their name. I usually get a guy with at least 33 strength and pretty good accuracy and give him the rocket launcher, other strong guys take the other heavy weapons.

Dysplastic wrote:

4) At this point, both me and the aliens seem to be getting 1-shot - I die on one hit, but they also die on one rifle hit. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do to have my troops take a bit more heat beyond leveling them?

Like Prozac said, research and then you can make armor. Research some more, and you can make better armor. You can even make armor that let's your soldiers fly, which is useful.

Dysplastic wrote:

5) So, at the end of the missions, I have all this alien loot - mind probes, corpses, etc. Should I just sell it all? Or is there a reason to keep it I can't see right now?

Follow Prozac's advice. Also, build an Alien Containment unit in one of your bases. Eventually, you will capture live aliens and will want to keep them alive for interrogation

Note that carrying things in your off hand (like grenades) gives an accuracy penalty if you are using a two handed weapon (ie most of them). That's why I never really used them much, though I know others swear by them. For me it's generally a two turn operation, and only used when there are a cluster of aliens, or they are pretty entrenched, or I am outnumbered in that part of the map. I would hide somewhere, move the grenade from the belt to the hand, prime it, then attack the next turn.

Because this is unwieldy I usually try to flank enemies from different directions simultaneously to get around their cover. When I need explosives I count on my two heavy weapons guys, or my tank.

Some exceptions:
Pistols do not suffer an accuracy bonus from having a grenade. If my Heavy Weapons guys run out of ammo (fairly rare) and pull out their pistols then there is no reason for them not to have a grenade in their hand as well. Although whether you want to risk a primed one is up to you.

Laser pistols and up are actually decently powerful and accurate. They can't compete with the corresponding rifle of course, but if that's what you wanted you could definitely justify having a "grenadier" or two on your team with a laser pistol and a bunch of grenades. This is assuming that you have alien grenades, which are far superior to human ones, if you don't have them yet I would stick with heavy weapons and rifles.

Terror missions, especially at night. Especially if you are fighting--Tommy, are you ok? You don't look very good man. Why are you running at m--AAAAAARRRGGGHHHHH.

In an urban environment there are a lot of blindspots that aliens can be hiding in. It's not at all uncommon to turn a corner and be face to face with a bad guy. (Being even more stingy with your time units and using high reaction soldiers helps.) During the night buildings and alleys will reduce the effectiveness of your flares. A good high powered explosive will let you see right through that wall though.

As for the Chrysalids... Well the only reason not to carpet bomb the entire city is to save the civilians, but if there are Chrysalids in the area then they are already dead.

Another reminder: Doing things improves your stats. I know that is a little generic, but what I'm saying is that carrying heavy things improves your strength, shooting improves your accuracy, etc. Especially in early missions or with new recruits I have my teams that are far from the "action" who I KNOW are safe (one alien left in a ship sort of deal) just autoshot random things like walls to help improve accuracy. Also try to get kills with soldiers rather than tanks, since the solider will benefit from the kill whereas the tank will not. Remember, your troops won't get better very fast if they go on mission and don't do anything.

Dysplastic wrote:

1) My 400 000 dollar tank got 1 shot by an alien before it could do anything. I was pretty disappointed. Why is the tank so great? Why not just send in a cheaper rookie to take that hit instead? I assumed a tank could take a bit of damage, but it getting 1-shot was a shocker.

Personally, I feel like the tank isn't really a +EV investment at the beginning of the game due to the steep initial expense, as well as the number of arguably more productive options (like scientists) at the outset. Even though scientists and other base improvements involve upkeep costs, the first assessment of that upkeep comes after the entire month is complete; if my monthly income from countries and item manufacturing is already compromised to such a point that I can't turn a profit off of the first month, then I'm already in big trouble for this playthrough anyway.

Of course, that proposition also invites some additional on-field risk in the early game; since I already take a super-methodical approach to my on-field risk, I feel like I'm a good position to deal with that risk effectively, but Your Mileage May Vary.

(One other negative point about tanks in the early game: they have virtually no possibility for reactive fire, which means their offensive capabilities are limited to more of a "seek and destroy" approach which, in my experience, really doesn't play well until the rest of your troops are outfitted well enough to keep pace and offer supplemental support.)

Anyway, I feel that tanks become much more appealing after you get a month or so into the playthrough. Sure, there are some general benefits, such as the increased movement/TUs and weaponry, that have uses throughout the entire game...but the more crucial benefits of immunity (stun weapons, psionics, and zombification) only come into play when you start encountering the more advanced alien types.

Dysplastic wrote:

4) At this point, both me and the aliens seem to be getting 1-shot - I die on one hit, but they also die on one rifle hit. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do to have my troops take a bit more heat beyond leveling them?

This is normal in the early game, until you research the armor technology. Once you get armor (and Medi-Kits), you'll see a huge jump in resiliency. (Just another reason why early game research is super-important, IMO.)

It seems that your armor has a percentage chance of taking a shot. If it does take a shot, its effectiveness is degraded on that area of the character, so it has a lower chance of taking another shot. You can lose soldiers and tanks to individual hits at any time, even late in the game, no matter how much armor they have.

Without armor, a single surprise shot has a very high chance of killing the target. Basic armor will often take one hit, and heavy armor will usually take one and frequently take two. But even in heavy armor, they can nail you in the throat or eyes or something and instantly kill you. I think flying armor isn't as good as heavy armor, but I don't remember for sure.

Generally, whenever possible, you want to structure your fire teams so that surprise aliens never get more than a shot or two. A full burst from a camping alien is lethal.

edit to add: Like Prozac says, never never sell Elerium. It doesn't exist on Earth, and that's the only supply you will ever get. And you only get it, generally, from intact alien ships, which is why you want to take some of them without shooting them down first.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

(One other negative point about tanks in the early game: they have virtually no possibility for reactive fire, which means their offensive capabilities are limited to more of a "seek and destroy" approach which, in my experience, really doesn't play well until the rest of your troops are outfitted well enough to keep pace and offer supplemental support.)

Not exactly true. My tanks regularly make reaction shots. You just have to leave them with enough time. Last mission, the tank wasn't moved the turn before, and did two reaction shots in the same turn. This has the usual drawback of reaction fire from a rocket launcher, of course.

I use tanks as scouts. They have better movement than most soldiers. They can consistantly move at max speed turn after turn and never run out of energy - try that with a soldier and you will find he starts using all his energy and not regaining it all the next turn, which means he can't move his full TU.

Tanks are critical for two things: Being first off the lander (i.e. dying on the off ramp so your soldiers don't) and scouting. In XCOM, you don't want your scout shooting, it draws reaction fire from the aliens. Instead, the scout moves up, sees the alien, stops, freezes, and waits while the soldiers behind open fire - safely out of sight so they don't draw reaction fire.

And of course, the tank is expendable. If you send in a suicide soldier, his death will hurt the remaining soldiers' morale. Take enough casualties, and you could end up with soldiers panicking (dropping their held weapons and run away at random), berserking (stand in place, spin in circles, fire at anything in sight - including the other soldiers), and lower morale leaves the soldiers more vulnerable to psionic attacks. A tank dies? You don't suffer this problem.

I'm a strong advocate of the 10 soldier/1 HWP loadout. Later on, when you get the Avenger, I go with two or even three HWP, but by then I normally have Hovertank/Plasma HWPs, which are even more useful. Then the tanks are the scouts for the 'Awful weapon', a Blaster Bomb Launcher.

Malor wrote:

I think flying armor isn't as good as heavy armor, but I don't remember for sure.

Flying Armor is better than Powered Armor, by at least 10 armor points in all hit locations. Which isn't much, really, but every little bit helps.

LtWarhound wrote:
OzymandiasAV wrote:

(One other negative point about tanks in the early game: they have virtually no possibility for reactive fire, which means their offensive capabilities are limited to more of a "seek and destroy" approach which, in my experience, really doesn't play well until the rest of your troops are outfitted well enough to keep pace and offer supplemental support.)

Not exactly true. My tanks regularly make reaction shots. You just have to leave them with enough time. Last mission, the tank wasn't moved the turn before, and did two reaction shots in the same turn. This has the usual drawback of reaction fire from a rocket launcher, of course.

Well, yes - if you let the tank sit a turn without doing anything, then the lack of unspent TUs ends up in a very positive calculation of the reaction fire formula:

UFOPaedia's post on reaction fire[/url]]

Current Reaction Score = (Reactions Stat) × (Current Time Units / Max TUs)

Your reaction score, also known as your initiative, is your reaction stat multiplied by the percentage of your remaining TUs.

As you spend time units on any actions, your initiative weakens by a percentage of how many remaining time units you have left.

For example, if you have 50 Reactions and have spent 50% of your TUs, you will only be able to use 25 points out of your 50 Reaction points to defend against reaction fire.

When I said that tanks have virtually no possibility for reaction, I meant it in the sense that their reaction scores are typically very low, from what I remember. You can get around that limitation by saving up TUs but, if you're leaving that many TUs for the tank in between turns, you're not covering a lot of ground, which kind of reduces the productivity of the tank as a scout unit. (Though maybe that's less of an issue, depending on how you're approaching the encounter tactically.)

Malor wrote:

edit to add: Like Prozac says, never never sell Elerium. It doesn't exist on Earth, and that's the only supply you will ever get. And you only get it, generally, from intact alien ships, which is why you want to take some of them without shooting them down first.

If aliens attack your base and you defend it successfully, they will leave you with A LOT of elerium there. If you're short on elerium, sometimes it can be useful (if costly) to build a lightly defended base with a few well-equipped soldiers, wait for the alien attack and enjoy the elerium. Also, UFOs attacked on the ground (green) bring more elerium and alloys than the crash landed ones (red).

Hey didn't someone mention UFO Extraterrestrials? Well its on Steam now. Think we should all check it out?

Tamren wrote:

Hey didn't someone mention UFO Extraterrestrials? Well its on Steam now. Think we should all check it out?

I can install it and try it out again after I patch it (did they release one? ). It's not a great port from what I've seen but it's playable and enjoyable if you like turn base tactical combat. There are turn based games like Jagged Alliance 2 and Silent storm which have a richer feature set than XCOM(stances ,sneak,cover,weapon penetration, aim to body parts) . After playing those games UFO ET looks like a half baked lousy xcom clone.

I just took a peek on what steam is selling they are selling some kind of "gold edition". Does that mean I have to pay for this game again to get a bug fix?

I'll recommend you get GoG version of JA2 (cause of the mods available) or Silent storm gold (I think i payed 15$ with ship on Ebay and I think it got starforce) and wait for the price to drop to 5-10$.

I think someone mentioned the mods for it are where its at. But browsing back I can't find the page it was on.

Jesus de Gama, I never thought I'd be learning things on a game that's pert near 13 years old from reading this thread. Steps, not turns? That make so much... less sense than turns.

I know this is an odd thought, but what's the release date on X-Com? If there were ever to be a GWJer holiday, this would be it. I would take off work, no doubt, to have a holiday with you all somewhere online. A holiday of torpid, gaming bliss. And Rabbitinis.

According to Steam:

Release Date: Dec 31, 1993

A December 31 Holiday? How useful is that!

TheWanderer wrote:

I know this is an odd thought, but what's the release date on X-Com? If there were ever to be a GWJer holiday, this would be it. I would take off work, no doubt, to have a holiday with you all somewhere online. A holiday of torpid, gaming bliss. And Rabbitinis.

A quick googling and checking of the Wiki reveals... nothing really other than 1994 for the original version and October 25 1995 for the PSOne version. Answers.com says UFO Defense was completed in March 1994. I think we're stuck on the actual original release date.

Terror From the Deep shows as June 1, 1995 @ ign, April 18 1995 from Answers.com. One google hit that doesn't actually direct me appropriately says this:

0.7 Revision history April 15th, 1995 -- Initial release, quick patch together job from XCOM USG, missing lots of stuff June 1st, 1995 -- Major revision, ...

So I'd say April 15, 1995 for TFTD

Tax day?