About enemy deployment

I have just completed the game on Legend with NJ, having previously completed it on Hero with Anu and with Synedrion on Veteran.

Since my second playthrough I have been playing with increasing self restrictions to avoid First Turn Strikes (an overwhelming attack on the first turn that decides the engagement, leaving the opponent without any real opportunity to win before it even had a chance to move) (FTS).

For my last playthrough on Legend, I limited each skill use to once per turn per soldier (and Rally the Troops and Electric Reinforcement to once per turn per squad), did not use Frenzy, soft capped Speed at 20 and not cast Rapid Clearance before Adrenaline Rush.

Overall, this worked reasonably well most of the time to avoid FTS, though by the very late game (I finished in early March, game time) my veteran soldiers had the full skillset, and maxed out stats (except Speed, which I kept at 20) and the Pandas never stood a chance.

Of course, the first problem is the prodigical flood of SPs that by its own momentum turns the veterans into Terminators by late game (incidentally, of my veterans only 1 was from the original 4 - the other 3, and many more perished along the way… ). This fundamentally inverts the difficulty curve, more so on Legend: a moderate to hard start is followed by increasing difficulty, until reaching a peak somewhere just past mid game, after which the difficulty suddenly plummets. It’s the old XCom curse, just worse.

The second problem is that the above mentioned self restrictions still allow for some powerful combinations, such as Biggest Booms and explosives (particularly the Thor and Ragnarok rocket systems, but also just grenades with the Quarterback perk and Ready for Action), and Phoenix Point laser PDW with Rapid Clearance and the corresponding third row damage buffs (a build which works similar to the assault/serker Rapid Clearance + Adrenaline Rush combo with AR, except there is no need to cast Adrenaline Rush).

However, an additional issue that I see is the enemy deployment, which, particularly in the last missions, makes FTS unavoidable and terribly effective.

The thing is, deploying large number of enemies to increase difficulty in the face of FTS is putting out the fire with gasoline. The last NJ story mission, as well as the final mission, are prime examples of this. They are over before they even begin, because those enemies that survive the FTS are panicked from the loss of WPs occasioned by the deaths of their comrades.

Now, I’m coming at this issue from the “game is too easy on Legend because of FTS”, but the same argument can be made in reverse - “the game is too hard on Rookie if you don’t do FTS”.

I didn’t notice any difference in the last missions on 3 different playthroughs on 3 different difficulty levels. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any - there could be double the number of enemies, with more HPs and layers of armor; it means I didn’t have a chance to notice anything about them before I wiped them out. In other words, increasing enemies, or their stats won’t increase the difficulty. On the contrary: for FTS, filling the map with enemies like sardines in a can only makes it easier.

Thus I would like to submit the following for discussion and consideration:

  1. Reconsider the deployment of enemies, avoiding their placement (especially in clusters) within easy reach of the player. The player should as a rule start on one edge of the map and the enemies on the other, without LOS between them.

  2. Add more and more types of dormant, and hidden, enemies, for example Arthrons in cocoons, that will activate when either they, or connected Pandoran security systems are disturbed by the player.

  3. Use Pandoran reinforcement points more extensively, perhaps giving advanced warning of which point will spawn the next wave of enemies.

The 2) and 3) could be used to modulate difficulty, so that significant numbers of dormant/hidden enemies and reinforcements would only appear on Hero/Legendary.

This would also smooth out the difficulty by making early detection by enemies less probable, which, you know, leads to entirely predictable and legitimate complaints about Chirons…

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I think it is good idea. Less enemies at the start and more spawns around the map could give some results.

And what you think about limiting WP gains from kills? Soldiers with level 7 woudn’t gain WP after kills except from killing Scylla. Also limit it for other aliens. Overall I see this like that by soldier levels:

on 1st level gain WP for any kind of enemy killed (yes even worms and eggs)
2+ remove eggs, worms and mindfraggers from that pool
3+ remove Arthrons without any evolved part
4+ remove Tritons without any evolved part and evolved Arthrons
5+ remove evolved Tritons and Sentinels
6+ remove Sirens
7 remove Chirons, so only killing Scylla will give you WP boost

Another thing should be to lower WP penalty for aliens when their ally is dying. This should only affect aliens standing close to killed unit (4 tile radius)

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Yeah, I was thinking about our ongoing discussion on pace/detection etc., and also after playing the Lair maps.

Lairs are currently the most mature mission type in PP, clearly a head above everything else, especially the special missions. The architecture of the maps, enemy placement, the spaces, etc… It’s a huge improvement, which is great, because what has been done for Lairs can be done for Citadels and other mission types. I mean, bringing to the mission design the kind of understanding and experience the devs have of the game now, 5 months after release. It’s stuff like reducing number of reinforcement points so that it is actually feasible to cover them, for example.

About WPs…

There is a thing I like about this (that I venture you probably don’t), which is that it allows for some ‘good’ meta. Or maybe it’s not even that meta. I’m referring to purposefully optimizing WPs gains.

This I’m not partial to. I’m playing a game of EW on the iPad from time to time, and one of the many things I miss is a proper morale mechanic. I think PP really nails it, even if relying heavily on abstraction.

Like pods in Firaxis Xcom games?

@VOLAND, deployment definitely matters, but so does the count and stats. the power of a tactic, the reach a tactic can cover, how repeatable a tactic is and how reliable a tactic is are all key factors.

personally I feel the drive to wipe out half the map before the fight begins is mainly facilitated by the huge damage players can rack up by using a combination of capstones, third rank skills and a few extremely powerful pieces of equipment. as damage fuels both the power and reliability of a tactic…and accuracy and reach are also somewhat intertwined as it depends on how close you can go.

The only real way I see to mitigate power, is making it harder to stack insane damage…I’d prefer nerfing damage acquisition from skills, over buffing HP or adding resistances. as the latter will turn an enemy into a sponge and turn the damage stack from a problem into a necessity. and I’d rather not lower the damage stats of most pieces of equipment for the same reason.

reinforcements can be a good way to hack into low repeatability, as it does throw a spanner in combinations that rely on a 1-turn buff (like rapid clearance), skill spam, or rely on tools that only have a few uses (not that the game limits how many of these tools you can bring along). provided that the kills made in the previous round don’t simply WP fuel the next round. this is where @Yokes suggestions would work extremely well. but reinforcements would feel downright odd on a “clear map” objective. and so would indestructible “egg clutches” of sorts. and in most cases reinforcements would simply become a trickle that results in more “cleanup rounds”.

you can slow the player drastically, effectively increasing the distance between targets or making target takedowns much less reliable. it could also turn the game into a drag…I can understand a lowered speed cap and looking into the frenzy buff as one shouldn’t be able to cross the entire map multiple times with a single trooper in a single turn. but the early game lvl 1 heavy is already being jet powered by me to get him into the fight. this is where I agree with @VOLAND that capping is the best idea (along with turn limits on skills like dash), it just has to be communicated effectively to the player.

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I don’t know, playing Legend, Scavenge Mission, 15 Arthrons 360 HP , Shields 150

They were all over the place, without Fury , only one Heavy, with Goliath, 6 soldiers squad, not matter deployment, I can’t kill every Panda in a few turns

I’m thinking more like the worm and mindfragger eggs already in the game, but in addition to that, also, say, a couple of Arthrons hidden in the passage walls of a nest. Like aliens… in Aliens.

And placing eggs in clusters in cover, out of LOS. For example, like the new cover structures on Lair maps.

Like now, you could choose leave them alone, or to attack them preemptively.

Yes, it depends on how the enemies are deployed and on player’s team composition.

That’s why I specifically mention some special missions in the game. There you always have these huge clusters of enemies and either you have a maxed out or almost maxed out team that can do a First Turn Strike and you wipe them out, or you don’t and there is really not much you can do.

Yes, absolutely. I think of it as high damage and reliable delivery - that’s why I always say “buffs to damage/mobility/accuracy”, because it’s about excessive damage that can be reliably delivered through extreme mobility, or accuracy.

However, reducing/capping these buffs is not a silver bullet. For one thing, reduce damage too much and everything becomes a bullet sponge. Reduce the HPs and armor too and everything stays exactly the same. Reduce accuracy and mobility too much as well and the combat becomes too much RNG.

Of course these buffs must be curbed, but by how much? There has to be some room for situationally doing massive amounts of damage, it is fun and rewarding when it’s the result of good planning and execution, of making a series of right choices among many others that were not all obviously suboptimal. For example, when you manage to get the enemies to bunch up together by luring them into some spot and pull an AoE attack on them.

In conclusion: the buffs must be curbed (TBH, I don’t know how exactly, whether by tinkering individually with skills/armors/augmentations, putting a cap, turn limits, etc), but other things must be done too, and enemy deployment is one of them. (The big others are, IMO, character progression and changes to some skills, like Rapid Clearance, turn limits, etc).

I think not necessarily. It actually makes perfect sense for a Haven defense mission, where during the first turns the enemies would come in waves. On the save VIPs missions it could be an infinite trickle, the mission ending when the VIPs are evacuated (and if they are killed, mission failed).

But these are just some ideas - it’s not about overdoing it. Also, “clear the map” missions should have their place, but their current prevalence has to do with extreme mobility. Many special missions have pointless dual objetives of “get to that tile” and “clear the map”, and that is clearly because the devs realize that the first objective is trivial because of extreme mobility.

Look at what has been done with the Lair maps - that shows the way forward, I think. Have reinforcement points far away/not in LOS from the objetive and exfil zone. Put security systems (Terror Sentinels) to make advancing to the objective require some planning. Again, it’s not about making all missions like Lairs, just taking the same approach to of taking better advantage of all the systems the game has to offer when it comes to mission design, of which enemy deployment is a key part.

No, you definitely want them to be destructible, and the hidden enemies to be hidden, not undetectable. You want the player to be wanting to take a flamethrower along.

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I can understand the call against uber alpha strikes, but limiting the player to not be able to take out dangerous enemies on the first turn isn’t the answer. Again examples are pointing at a super squad, which most players don’t have early on. Perhaps one to three, but not yet a full squad. Again, what about limiting alpha strike abilities of the enemy? I know, is said that this is intended by those calling for nerfs on the player, but which comes first, the cart or the horse? If overpowering enemies don’t exist, then yes cap some of the more excessive combos.

To avoid FTS devs must decrease mobility or double map size. It’s easy and simple.

meaning? avoiding double dashing?

With lower mobility you can’t move from enemy to enemy for 1AP, you will need more AP or Dash. So you can’t make chains of kills.

And one can not move to cover to avoid grenade launching Arthrons or explosive Chiron. Mobility isn’t always used for offense. Most maps are too small to not need mobility for defense as well as the offensive offence.

But Atron with launcher will also can’t run half map and fire.

Lol. Ok, I will bite. Just out of curiosity, what max number of tiles per turn do you need to outrun grenades from Arthrons and Chirons? Because right now just with top speed, Anu armor and dash (all available practically from the start of the game even on Hero) you can move 30 * 0.75 = 22 tiles for a single AP and 4 WP. Which is more than any Chiron or Arthron can run using all of their APs.

So that’s without even throwing in a third row skill that gives +2 to SPD (Quarterback), the speed leg mutation (+5 SPD vs +3 SPD of the Anu skirt) or Frenzy that adds 50 freaking % to the whole thing, or Blood Lust that adds up to another 50 freaking % on top of that!

So let’s assume that for some reason me, and the ‘chorus’ who ask in every single post that the game be balanced for all players so that easy is really easy, really only care about our ‘Hardcore’ experience on Legend and are doing everything we can to do the game much harder than it really is, oblivious to the plight of the rest of the players.

Please give us a number - the absolute max number of tiles per turn that a soldier should be able to move. A single number that you consider reasonable to allay any concerns that once teleportation is banished from the game even if difficulty is not adjusted that the gaming experience of all players will not be diminished.

Please don’t worry about what needs to happen to the game mechanics to arrive there. I will give you mine - I’m fine with 30.

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All nice, but don’t change the rookie levels…:slight_smile: And I am a happy chappy…:slight_smile:

I am talking early game (2 weeks game time). My Assault still have their initial armor (no way can they have Anu armor) and speed of 14. Nor do they have any advanced skills (let alone any from the 3rd row). My first encounter with Arthron have full armor, machine gun and grenade launcher. A siren has gifted them frenzy. I move my Assault forward to scout out the area (2 AP). It’s night, so perception is low. They discover the frenzied Arthron as well as twin explosive Chiron (40 range). So, yes I need dash to find cover.

Why must the answers always assume one is well beyond the beginning levels were one has no chance of having the magic OP bullets you site? Am I making up this scenario? No, it happened (and in more than 1 playthrough). Do I have screenshots, no. That mission came and went (I don’t even have a save game file to go back to). So yes, later in the game one can do what you site, but that wasn’t the situation I sited (my bad for not mentioning that).

There is, of course, some merit to your arguments, but one also needs to take into context different scenarios that exist before one can even come close to achieving your uber-skill stats.

How after two weeks you have 14 speed? Oo
After first level up you can have near 20, after second up you gain max 25 speed. It’s few days after begining for main squad.

Why, because I opted to use the SP for other things to fit my play style, like skills, strength, will power. Not everyone builds for running across the map and back. This is still early in the game, and I tend to build balanced units first, later I will go for speed and other forbidden OP combos when I have SoD to burn.