Comments on class skills
If there is one class you can’t do without, it’s Assault. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that all of its skills can be useful for any multiclass combination.
Let’s take a look at them. I will only skip Return Fire - though a nice skill, there just isn’t much to it, IMO.
- Dash (cost 4WPs and 1AP) move up to 3/4 of the Speed attribute of the character (e.g. with a Speed of 20, a soldier can move 15 tiles casting Dash).
Dash is useful whenever you want to move 3 APs at the cost of one and you are willing to pay 4WPs for it, which happens very often. In fact, too much, as you can be tempted to cast it multiple times, e.g. to attack a faraway enemy, neglecting good positioning, exposing your soldier to retaliation and unnecessarily depleting its WPs.
How to achieve extreme mobility (and kinda break the game):
The max speed attribute is currently 25 (though it might be reduced to 21 in an upcoming patch). Some armors and augmentations provide a bonus to Speed; a combination of the medium Anu armor and speed leg mutation provides a bonus of +7. The Quarterback trait adds 2 to Speed. Casting Frenzy (using a special Priest head mutation) provides a +50%. Bloodlust (LVL5 Berserker passive skill, increases the damage and speed up to 50% in proportion to damage suffered) can provide an additional +50%.
Thus, a soldier’s Speed can be increased to 68, while most maps in Phoenix Point are 48 tiles in length, a single Dash (51 tiles) thus allowing the soldier to arbitrarily teleport anywhere on the map at the cost of 1 AP and 4 WP.
With the upcoming patch, unless other changes are made to mobility, the situation will not change that much - maximum mobility will be reduced from 68 to 60, a single dash enabling a move of 45 tiles.
- Ready for Action (passive skill) reloading and inventory management costs 0 AP
This is useful for moving grenades from the backpack to the quick inventory slots. With Boom Blast (LVL5 Heavy skill - see below) and Quarterback personal trait the soldier can throw very long distance up to 4 grenades in a single turn (without taking into account AP refund skills, Rally the Troops and Rapid Clearance).
- Rally the Troops (cost 4WPs and 2APs) refunds 1AP to all members of the squad, can only be used once per turn by the same soldier
The larger the squad, the bigger the return from the use of this skill. It is worthwhile to have an Assault support in the team, whose sole job is to cast Rally the Troops each turn. This makes a lot of sense when the caster is a soldier brought up in the ‘stables’ with few SPs (and thus low stats).
This skill can also be easily abused by bringing 2 or more soldiers with it to the mission. The mathematics of Rally the Troops are such that with 3 soldiers casting it on the same turn, not only does the squad experience a huge net gain in APs (e.g. a squad of 8 will receive 3*7-6=15 net APs), but even the casters themselves will not lose any APs. The only challenge is to do the casting in the correct order; that is, always making sure that each squad member except the caster has spent at least 1 AP so that it can be refunded.
- Rapid Clearance (cost 5WPs), get back 2 APs for each kill.
This is perhaps one of the most abused skills in Phoenix Point and the most common ingredient in the ‘Terminator Builds’.
If once activated, the soldier can consistently kill for 2 APs or less, he can clear large chunks, or entire maps of enemies on the first turn before they even had a chance to move.
Several things have to come together for this, but it’s very easy for it to happen if you keep stacking buffs as the game encourages you to.
So first you need to maximize damage, which in the game you can currently do up to >+350% (+100% from Sneak Attack, +50% from Bloodlust (maximum), +20-30% from proficiency trait, +30% from Reckless and +50% damage to a target from Marked for Death), and you don’t even need to go anywhere near that.
Second, you might need to reduce the AP cost of firing the weapon, which you can do with Quick Aim for direct fire weapons, with Boom Blast for explosives, or with Adrenaline Rush for all weapons.
Third, you need to deliver the damage to your helpless victims … errh, I mean the awful, terrible, dangerous, and scary Pandorans! This can be easily done using a fraction of the extreme mobility that you can currently achieve in the game.
And you can have up to 8 soldiers on most missions so they can soften enemies for each other and cast Rally the Troops to keep the Rapid Clearance killer loops going.
The most effective and well-known abuse of Rapid Clearance is casting it by a berserker/assault and casting Adrenaline Rush afterward.
However, even something as basic as an assault with a PDW proficiency (and a Laser PDW to take advantage of it) can do obscene amounts of damage and keep recovering APs with each kill.
This is one of the least understood and most unappreciated classes in the game. Many players can’t see past their poor aim with the Hel Cannon/Deceptor, particularly when clad in heavy armor that inflicts a 40% penalty on their accuracy.
The Heavy is the best class in the early game - period. It’s just not very good if you use it the same way you would an Assault, or a Sniper. So, don’t do it.
At short distances the Deceptor and the Hel Cannon are very effective against all enemies.
If you invest enough in Strength, a heavy can easily one-bash kill most Arthrons and Tritons, or at least daze them (See Melee; in summary, bashing scales with Strength of the character and weight of the weapon, so a Heavy with, e.g. 20 Strength, wielding a Hel Cannon will do 20*5 = 100 damage, with Brawler skill, +50%, so 150 damage; with 30 Strength it goes up to 225).
As a heavy can bash after jetpacking, he can easily close the distance with enemies. What’s more, with Warcry (probably the single most powerful skill in the game), he can neutralize the enemies around him for a whole turn. Plus, he has the HPs (from Strength - remember, each point gives 10 HPs) and that Heavy Armor is good against pretty much everything except sniper rifles (and dedication).
All this without the need to spend any SPs on Willpower, Speed, or dual classing, which makes it available from the very early game.
Later on this build only gets better, as you get Boom Blast, Inspire and Rage Burst, and access to mounted weapons.
Its biggest vulnerability is to Mind Control, but the most reliable defense to that is to keep the squaddies within a reasonable distance of each other, so that if (when) one of them gets mind-controlled his buddies can take care of the Siren.
Here is a closer look at the most interesting Heavy skills:
- Warcry (3WPs) limits the APs of all enemies within 10 tiles to 2.
In practice what this does is prevent most of the enemies affected by Warcry from attacking you on their turn. This is because usually, they want to move before shooting, and with just 2 APs they can’t do that. Some enemies will never attack at all because they need 3APs for that (Chirons indirect fire, for example).
Plus this skill is also a detector of hidden enemy units even without activating it. Yep, just selecting the ability shows all the enemies that will be affected by it, even if you haven’t seen them yet (reminiscent of that other exploit in Phoenix Point: if you can’t move to that tile, it’s because there is an enemy you haven’t seen yet on it).
But the best thing? The price. It’s a LVL3 skill (not a cap skill, though for what it does it might as well be) and it only costs 3 WP to cast.
- Boom Blast (5WPs), reduces the cost of using explosives by 1 AP and increases their range by 50% until the end of the turn.
This is another skill that in some alternate universe Pandoran players are complaining about on the forum because it is the bane of their existence.
Even without combining this with an Assault with Ready for Action and Quarterback, taking a pure Heavy build, this skill allows us to launch 2 grenades from the Grenade Launcher and a rocket from a mount.
Not only are there third-row skills that make these attacks even more effective (Strongman for a grenade launcher, Bombardier for rockets, and Reckless for both), but there is a nasty and elusive bug that sometimes multiplies the damage from explosives by 2 or 3.
Ah, and you can cross a Heavy and an Infiltrator, give him the echo bionic head (if you have the DLC), and top the whole thing off with another +100% to damage.
Just how obscenely OP this skill is, becomes (even more) apparent when you compare it to its direct-fire weapon equivalent - Quick Aim, which for 3WP reduces the cost of firing a direct fire weapon once by 1AP. Boom Blast, by contrast, costs only 2WP more but reduces by 1AP all indirect fire attacks until the end of the turn and increases their range by 50%.
This last part, honestly, I really struggle to understand. It’s like if Quick Aim also increased accuracy. Wait a minute… it did increase accuracy by 25% on release but that was subsequently nerfed in a patch. Not saying anything, just, you know… (Maybe nerf Boom Blast by removing the bonus to the range, even introduce a penalty instead…? Or at least stop it from allowing 0AP attacks with rocket mounts)
- Rage Burst (5WPs + standard AP cost of firing the weapon), fire the weapon 5 times with a 50% accuracy penalty, limited to one use per turn by the same soldier.
The thing about Rage Burst is that it can be used with other weapons, such as Sniper Rifles, and that the 50% accuracy penalty can be negated by wearing the right armor (for example, Synedrion sniper armor).
However, it also works perfectly fine if used by a pure heavy wearing heavy armor and using a Deceptor, or a Hel Cannon on a big target, such as a Scylla, a Chiron, a Terror Sentinel, or a Spawnery.
One thing to bear in mind is that Rage Burst will often prompt the target to change posture while being shot at (for example, Scylla will try to cover its head and body with its arms).
Everyone likes Sniper Rifles because of their high accuracy and high damage per shot. It’s an easy package for reliably overcoming armor at long distances.
Snipers skills make it even better with cheaper Overwatch (Focus) and cheaper direct fire (Quick Aim), even higher accuracy when there are no enemies nearby (Marksman), removal of armor from the body part that gets disabled (Weakspot) and a damage multiplier spell (Mark of Death).
Now, I’m not crazy about Sniper Rifles. Their damage per AP is the lowest of all types of weapons and they don’t shred armor. However, the Sniper skills are useful with other weapons, whether through multiclassing or third-row weapon proficiency. Below some comments and ideas on a couple of them:
- Quick Aim (3WPs), reduces the cost of firing a direct fire weapon by 1AP.
The most common use of this skill is to shoot a Sniper Rifle twice in a single turn, but of course it offers interesting combinations for other weapons as well (Dash + Quick Aim to land a shotgun blast being a favorite). Even more interesting effects happen when this is used with weapons that cost only 1 AP to use, such as most pistols and all PDWs, especially in combination with Rapid Clearance, as it nets 2 APs per kill. So a broken rapid clearance chain can be resurrected with a pistol kill, perhaps with an assist from a buddy.
Quick Aim is one of the main reasons I started limiting the use of skills to once per turn per soldier because I thought it was too OP. However, now I think that unlimited Quick Aim per turn is both too OP and that it encourages the player to do silly things, similarly to what happens with Dash.
The “silly things” players do because of unlimited Quick Aim are neglecting positioning and their WP pool. What often happens is that you don’t want to “waste” AP on movement and so instead of seeking a good defensive position try to shoot at things right from where you are. This sometimes works, and sometimes it doesn’t. What happens very often is that you take care of some visible enemies but leave yourself open to attack from other nearby enemies you have failed to detect.
The other thing you are often tempted to do (OK, I was often tempted to do, and did I give into that temptation too!) is to shoot with your pistol for 0 AP until your WPs are gone.
At this point I’m convinced that unlimited (and penalty-free) Quick Aim doesn’t do the game any favors, on any front; for experienced players it makes the game too easy, for new players, it sends the wrong signal as to how to play it.
- Marked for Death (4WPs), increases damage suffered by the target by 50% until the end of the turn.
This is a very useful skill for when you want to kill something and when you are about to take the shot you see that you can’t, that you can at most take 2/3 of the enemy’s health bar.
What makes MfD so terribly effective at boosting damage is that, unlike other buffs to damage, e.g. from third-row skills, which are additive (for example, Reckless and Strongman are added together to increase damage by 60%), MfD multiplies damage by 1.5 after all the other buffs are added.
Berserker is essentially a meta-class. There is no reason at all to use Berserkers as melee fighters. It’s probably the one thing they are actually bad at, and this is neatly reflected by their skill set.
- Armor Break (4WPs), next attack will shred an additional 50 armor.
This, of course, works best with a burst weapon with a nice spread, such as the basic AR, or the Deceptor, as it strips armor from multiple body parts of the target.
Using this with a melee weapon is a very poor choice indeed:
First, the one advantage of melee weapons is that they have the highest damage per hit of any type of weapon, so they naturally overcome armor; if you are close enough to someone to hit them with a hammer, just club them to death and forget about the armor.
Second, even if for some reason you want to strip armor from the target while standing right next to it, don’t do it with a melee weapon, because you have no idea what part you are going to hit and if it needs removing armor or not (remember, it is not possible to target body parts with a melee attack).
- Close Quarters Evade (passive) attacks from enemies within 10 tiles deal 25% less damage.
It’s nice, being a passive skill, but it’s not a game-changer by any stretch. Also, it doesn’t encourage the use of melee weapons.
- Bloodlust (passive) Damage and Speed are increased proportionally to the health lost (up to double).
It doesn’t matter how, or when the health was lost, so friendly fire and denial of health care are fair (meta) game.
If anything, this encourages to keep the berserker away from the action, indulging in the Bloodlust high from a safe distance with, say, a sniper rifle.
- Ignore pain (passive) Disabled body parts remain functional. Cannot Panic or be Mind Controlled.
This makes Berserkers particularly useful for dealing with Sirens and Terror Sentinels in Lairs but doesn’t really encourage using them as melee fighters.
- Adrenaline Rush (5WP) All abilities cost 1 Action Point until the end of the turn, can’t use any abilities that cost WPs after casting it, and accuracy reduced by 50%.
The first thing to take into account is that you can still use abilities that cost WPs before casting Adrenaline Rush… Like Rapid Clearance, for example.
The second is that you can use weapons that cost 3 APs at the cost of 1AP, particularly Heavy Weapons (including the Grenade Launcher) and Sniper Rifles.
The penalty to accuracy can be negated by armor/augmentations, or by extreme mobility. This is what the number one Terminator Build amounts to: Berserker/Assault with the Strongman perk and top Speed, wielding a Deceptor. It can clear maps in one turn all by itself. (Yes, that’s an ‘it’, because it’s clearly not human).
Last but not least - what Adrenaline Rush doesn’t do is anything to make Berserkers more interesting as melee fighters.
Infiltrators are very versatile, their skill set allowing them to fulfill very different roles even without multiclassing.
To use infiltrators properly it’s important to first understand how detection works, which you can read about here.
Unlike with other soldiers, you always know when the infiltrator is undetected because of the blue hue and the crossed-out eye on top of the screen when you select him. (pending image)
Though infiltrators are stealthy because of their training (as long as they are undetected, they get a +25% boost to Stealth) and their class-specific armor, you can choose not to take advantage of it until they achieve a higher level of experience, because their armor makes them squishy and they don’t get a buff to their damage for attacking from stealth until they are LVL7.
Their starting crossbow is not a bad weapon by any standard - it does the damage and has the AP cost of the NJ pistol, Iron Fury (60) but has nearly three times the precision (effective range of 34 vs Iron Fury’s 14) and is also silent. The biggest drawback is the clip size (only 3 arrows).
The way I approach them, infiltrators have two defensive skills, Deploy Decoy and Spider Drone Pack, and two offensive skills, Vanish and Sneak Attack, while their armor is only really meaningful if they are used as scouts.
Deploying Decoys and/or a Spider Drone Pack is a great way to distract enemies by presenting them with convenient targets. Though spider drones can also be used offensively, without the Technician’s skill to control them directly, they can’t be relied upon to do significant damage, which, if at all, will come after the enemies turn anyway.
Vanish and Sneak Attack combination is one of the easiest and most reliable ways of doing extreme damage.
To benefit from the Sneak Attack buff the infiltrator must refrain from using anything other than silent weapons (crossbows and melee), unless he has the Echo Head bionic. Of course, the infiltrator must also remain undetected at the time of the Sneak Attack, and the best way to achieve this is by casting Vanish. It’s the only way to achieve it if you want the infiltrator to use melee weapons, because no matter his stealth rating he will be detected when getting close to enemies (at a distance of 5 tiles, to be precise).
I have a confession to make: I don’t remember the last time I used the Technician’s signatory exo-arms for anything. Normally there is no reason to use them, and when there is (broken limbs) I forget they exist.
I don’t get to use Electric Reinforcement much either. By the time I have Lvl7 Technicians in my game, the rest of my soldiers are so powerful that they don’t need it; it’s the Pandas who could use the extra armor.
What I like my Technicians for is the turret-throwing and manual controlling. Now, the turret you want is the laser one, which does 60 x 10 damage. You have to be very careful where your place them, and where you place your soldiers. The turrets have a nasty tendency to shoot at targets behind you soldiers: as their projectiles cannot curve around your guys, they attempt to go very much through them, with tragically predictable results.
Put the turrets somewhere high (a tall column is ideal), or far ahead: one interesting multiclass is infiltrator/technician, clad in stealth armor (so no exo-arms). He can scout ahead, remaining undetected, and leave a turret, or two, closer to the enemies than to your team.
Turrets (as well spider drones and turret vehicles) can be controlled several times by different soldiers and the 600 pts of damage that the laser turret can deliver per attack at the cost of 1AP and 3WPs is a lot.
Of course the most abusive use of Technicians (and one that must have the Pandoran players up in flames in some parallel universe) is multiple casting of Electric Reinforcement. Each casting adds 20 armor to each body part of each soldier in the team, and costs 6WPs, but no APs. So casting it twice adds 40 armor points on top of whatever armor the soldier is wearing and after casting it twice, you can cast recover to recuperate WPs to do it again on the next turn.
Personally, I thought that double casting it by the same Technician, and then casting Recover was already too much and rendered your troops all but invulnerable. Then I read about somebody experimenting with two Technicians casting Electric Reinforcement twice on the same turn, for a boost of 80 pts of armor for the team…
The Priest is focused on decreasing enemy WPs (using Viral weapons and Psychic Scream) and taking advantage of it (Mind Control and Panic). He also has an area of effect attack that can be metaed into something wicked (Mind Crash), and what can be best described as a combined haste & bravery spell (Frenzy).
There is supposed to be another side to the Priest, more as a sort of defensive-support unit, with Psychic Ward (“Allies within 10 tiles are immune to panic and psychic damage attacks”), but when I tried I wasn’t able to make it work [if anyone has had more luck, please do tell - I reported it as a bug]. Then there is also the Mind Sense passive skill (“All organic enemies within 15 tiles are automatically revealed”), but in Phoenix Point you don’t need to be a psychic to spot most enemies much further away.
A particularity of Priests is that they have access to a different set of head Mutations, each of them adding another “spell” to their repertoire:
Judgment Head: Instils Frenzy in friendly characters within 20 tiles for 2 turns, increasing their Speed by 50% and making them immune to panic
Screaming Head: Scream, reducing Will Points of all enemy units in an 8 tile radius.
Synod Head: Living allied units within 7 tiles recover 2 Will Points at the start of the turn.
However, the Judgement Head and the Frenzy spell that comes with it are the best choices by far in most circumstances. A 50% increase in speed and immunity to panic for 2 turns? Any of these effects would have been enough to make it a worthwhile investment, but together it’s a no-brainer.
*How do Viral weapons work? Whenever a projectile from a Viral weapon inflicts any damage on the target, it also suffers a set amount of viral damage. The total amount of viral damage incurred by a character is subtracted from his pool of WPs at the beginning of its turn. The takeaway is that some damage must be inflicted with the weapon for the target to incur viral damage, meaning that the armor has to be overcome and that you have to wait until the enemies turn for the viral damage to take effect. This means that you can’t use Viral weapons to reduce the WPs of an enemy to lower the cost of Mind Controlling it on the same turn or to Panic it.
*How to use Mind Control effectively.
The cost in WPs of initiating Mind Control of an enemy is its current WPs and the cost of maintaining MC on each subsequent turn varies on the type of character (1WP for worms, 2WPs for Arthrons and Humans, 3WPs for Tritons, 5WPs for Sirens and Chirons, and Scylla’s currently can only be MCed in the current and only the first time it’s attempted).
if casting MC will lower your WPs to 0, you will lose the WPs and fail to MC the enemy;
if the enemy is panicked, you can MC them but they can’t do anything;
while under MC the enemy is for all intents and purposes on your team, which means that it will gain WPs from Inspire and from killing enemies.
So what you want to do is reduce the WPs of your target before casting MC, and you want to start by reducing its max WPs by disabling its head. For example, Chirons start with 30 WPs, but disabling the head reduces it to 10, and whatever the number of WPs a Siren has, they are reduced to 0 once its head is disabled. In the case of Sirens, you don’t want to continue reducing WPs, as it will just make her panic and useless for MC (another issue is that Sirens are not very useful when their heads are disabled), but with other critters you will probably want to bring them lower by, for example, casting Psychic Scream, or killing some of their mates to bring down the morale. You don’t want to reverse the order because if you first kill some enemies, or cast Psychic Scream, and then disable the target’s head, the reduction in max WPs will absorb those initial losses and you will not lower the cost to MC.
All this means that with MC you want to carefully plan ahead and do some math before you pick a victim.
Finally, don’t forget that you can release the critter from MC if it is convenient for any reason (for example, to avoid paying the cost of maintaining MC next turn, or because you want its water… I mean, WPs for dispatching it).
Initially, Mind Crush does 100 damage to all enemies in a 10 tile radius. That is enough to kill all kinds of worms (except mindfraggers), and do considerable damage to humans, Arthrons and Tritons, but you can stack it with Reckless or Sneak Attack to give it a more murderous touch. Or you can cross the Priest with a Heavy for the ultimate crowd control experience. Or with assault to gain Rapid Clearance. I haven’t used any of these meta-Mind Crush builds in a long while, so if anyone has more recent experience with them, please do share it!