A Call for Cooldowns

Based on the various discussions on all the different Threads about the plethora of OP Skill combos that are out there, I think it’s time for the devs to seriously consider adding limits to most skills.

I kinda get the sense that JG’s philosophy is to give players a Skills sandbox and let them come up with all kinds of inventive ways of taking down the Big Pandas, but I’m reading far too many posts saying: “If you do this, this and this, you can take out a Mission in 1 Turn.”

That gets very old, very quickly. Once you’ve got over the rush of finding a combo that can beat the game, you’re stuck with a broken game which is utterly boring, because you just Dash+Rapid Fire+Rage Burst with a 100% Stealthed Priest who Mind Controls the Scylla and sends it stomping all over the Chirons, while being doped up on Will by his Rally the Troops support team - and the Mission’s over in 1 Turn. Whoop-de-Effing-Doo!

So there comes a point where design philosophy has to give way to practicality, and either you give all of these OP skills some kind of serious cooldown, or the other way of doing it is squaring the Will cost, so that the first use costs eg. 2WP, the second 4, the third 16, and so on.

But you need to do something if you want this game to have legs beyond a single playthrough.

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Playing i understand that i can make powerful combos, but i understand too that i have to use the SP pool, so of I loose an overpowered soldier and i reload because of this it’s me that brake the game, not the game that’s broken.

Not quite sure what your point is, but any game that allows a Mission that is supposed to be hard and take several turns, to end on Turn 1 with a single action by a soldier is broken in my book (Citadel Turkey Shoot with Sniper RB).

Add to that the plethora of ways people have come up with to cheese, for instance, the Lair in 1 turn, and the game ceases to be any kind of interesting challenge.

Sure, you can do what I do, and refuse to use any of the cheeses, but that doesn’t stop the game from being fundamentally broken as it stands (and I say this as a huge fan of Phoenix Point).

There are, to my mind, some very simple fixes; and the devs went some way towards this when we raised similar issues in BB5, but they clearly haven’t gone far enough and new players with more time than I (and others) have to devote to the game have exposed a whole new bunch of exploits that need to be addressed.

Thing is, ultimately, in a Skills-based sandbox, the devs are fighting a losing battle trying to nerf every skill combo that hundreds of players can come up with. Much better to institute some kind of global limiting system (like repeat use of a Skill in any 1 turn squares its cost) than constantly sticking your finger in the dam.

Though, of course, that wouldn’t stop players having 1 hyped-up mega-dude being given 5-7 Actions by the rest of the Squad with Rally… :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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I think the ability to restore infinite amounts of Will is a part of some broken combinations.
Maybe if we had returned Will capped at 1/2 of soldiers maximum Will (per turn) and action points refund capped at 2 or 4 it would help?

Agreed, but the ability to restore Action points is even more broken.

Take a guy with, say, 15 WP. Give him Dash, Rapid Fire & Rage Burst, and equip him with a Shotgun. Back him up with a handful of guys who have Rally. Now he can Dash across the map, 1-shot most Crabbies, regaining 2 AP a time, and RB anything bigger.

It obviously needs fixing.

It’s more Will point the problem in this case, Dash 4WP, Rapid Fire 3WP, Rage Burst 5WP. That’s a huge pool of Will. Plus a team with Rally to backup, with 4WP cost each, it means 4 with rally other than the soldier doing the main job.

What’s missing for a Rally exploit is Inspiration but you can’t have Rapid Fire too.

Moreover if Rage Burst is required the exploit won’t last much.

Because of WP cost on the soldier such exploit is limited, it works only with one dash or two, no rage burst, no rapid fire, and series of one kill shot. It’s no way that elementary as posts can wrote. It’s possible but not basic and no way to wipe out a map in one turn at any mission.

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The way to fix OP Skills is to nerf OP Skills. Quite straight forward …
Limiting with cooldowns takes away from the will system which I find quite refreshing.

The tactics layer gets reduced to whatever abilities your soldiers have. THATS the culprit. Cooldowns wont fix anything.

Perks should be just that: perks. Not a game defining be-all and end-all way to win.

Maybe consider some severe side effects once your soldiers gets near zero will so that it is a more risky trade off.

I agree absolutely that the skill system as it is doesn’t work well- I’m firmly in favour of just giving active skills a cooldown and having Willpower serve as soldiers’ morale instead of being fuel for magical powers.
One caveat- just fixing those skills won’t fix the game- right now, hilariously OP skills are basically what makes certain later game missions reasonably possible. Yes, you can save-scum for hours and hours to beat a horde of 30 Pandorans without them, but it isn’t really likely to be much fun.
If we’re going to have the skills taken down to a level of being powerful abilities instead of having several ‘win button’ combos, then there need to be some kind of new tools to compensate for the loss.

Most of why I end up abusing the clearly OP skills right now is there’s no practical alternative, as your opposition gets more numerous and powerful over the course of the game, while your soldiers and their equipment just don’t.

Of course, once skills aren’t godly anymore, enemy balance has to be looked at as well. However, probably not to the extend one might think … you are meant to lose some battles afterall. Leading to the next topic of how difficult it is to recruit the soldiers you want/need.

I agree that probably WP cost should increase with each use to break some of the cycles. Though probably x 1.5 should be enough, square seems too much.

That and some specific fixes to OP perks/combinations should be enough, I think.

I will elaborate further.

There are basically

  1. a few skill combinations that are exploits:

rage burst (especially with sniper) for sure…, and I don’t know about the rest; they might be OP but they are not exploits. For example, berserker’s armor shredding skill working with the laser AR.

  1. some WP recovery loops,

that would be rapid clearance + dash + recovery

  1. the stealth mechanic, which is so lame I have the feeling it’s a placeholder for something else,

the current placeholder has to be replaced with an actual stealth mechanic. In the meantime I think the “stay in stealth” has to be broken after attacking and require hight WP cost to hide again.


  1. some weapons are a bit out of whack.

All these are solvable within the current game design framework (“boardgame with true ballistics and skills sandbox”).

Yeah, I happen to like it and prefer it to a “simulation approach”. (Though when I called it a masterpiece I went a tiny bit overboard :wink:). But, in any case, advocating to the developers “change the whole thing” is not going to be very productive.

I doubt designers consider Rage Burst Sniper as an exploit. The more I play the more it’s clear all Rage Burst usage are part of design. Even capture is designed with such abilities in mind.

Recovery can’t be a loop it requires 4AP.


Apologies, I meant “Inspire”.

Of course it’s an exploit - unless you are seriously claiming that the devs deliberately designed a game where the players can take down the Stronghold of the Bad Guys (the Citadel) with one shot on Turn 1.

Rage Burst is clearly part of the design, but I doubt the devs even realised it could be combined with a pin-point accurate sniper rifle until somebody actually did it. I know it never cropped up in BB5, because I was there.

Many of these “exploits” where in BB4 and BB5, in a different form but they where there. Testers reported them, only some of it was “fixed”, in quotes because most of the things where just toned down, not removed or reworked. Which conclusion could one make on the basis of this?

I prefer something else than cool-downs:

  • Remove completely unrealistic skills,
  • limit some skills to certain weapons,
  • increase WP cost of those powerful,
  • just place there 1 per turn use for some skills,
  • apply modifiers like decreased accuracy to skills with high damage output,
  • make all skills which are not a trick of mind to use Time Units.

Cool-downs bring to my mind some arcade game like Mortal Combat or something similar, not really fitness for the mind, like tactical or even strategic element.

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The one I made at the top of this post: JG’s design philosophy is not to limit his players’ imagination, but to give them an open skills sandbox to experiment with.

Which is fine, as long as it doesn’t break the game, which it is at the moment. So JG & the devs need to accept that a completely open sandbox isn’t working and figure out how to set limits on it. The trick is going to be doing that in such a way that it doesn’t totally destroy the ‘skills sandbox’ concept, because actually that’s really rather cool.

And yes, as I keep saying till I’m blue in the face, all of this must be linked to a rebalance of the Panda Nasties so that you don’t need your squad to be cheesy superheroes to survive.

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Honestly, I’ve just sank like 60 hours into a beta of Xenonauts 2 and I don’t miss any of these super powers and magical abilities of PP. You have so much more tactical freedom and cool moments when you win against all odds. You feel progression and it stays challenging, you see how all weapons make sense and rewarded for good composition of the team or using your team in a clever way.
Reading as to how balancing some specific skill in PP could improve overall gameplay sounds a bit like a joke. Yes you can balance all that but because the gameplay loop overall is non existent and there is no depth to tactical combat, all what balancing will do is make game less annoying, not necessarily more fun.

First of all, Pandas do need a re-balance if we are to remove cheesy tactics.
The reason why those exists in the first place is because letting them have their turn by not alpha striking is usually bad.

  • 50 damage MG
  • grenade arm
  • sniper in your face
  • explosive bombs falling from the sky
  • mind control (least annoying surprisingly)
  • goo (surprisingly annoying but a “nice” one)
  • over-watch useless since you won’t kill them anyway

I think that putting a cost in AP for lots of them would already do much into preventing too much cheese.

  • dash: 1AP/2WP instead of 4WP
    • using dash twice would be equivalent to 1 current dash + 2AP move
  • priest abilities should cost at least 1AP

And limiting some to weapon types (adrenaline rush for melee).

Well, it is fun, but too much in the extremes.

If I put my soldiers at maximum will (20 to 27 with some buffs), it doesn’t prevent them from being mind-controlled by a Siren (30 WP). If they gave less WP to Sirens, this could give an incentive to avoid spamming your WP to protect against mind-control. There, just spam it to get rid of as many Pandas to lower their WP.

Bio-grenades, and one handed heavy machine guns with super aim.
Sniper with too much precision (standing shooting).
Cover doesn’t protect you a lot and goes away very easily. I can snipe off a wall !!!