Is there a non-cheese strat to fighting the Ancients?

… when starting in the open.

Trying to enjoy the game again, this time using a different series of restrictions and on Hero difficulty instead of the usual Legend. For the most part it’s been a hell of a lot more fun than it’s ever been but I hit a roadblock on the Ancient missions.

Some notable restrictions affecting the mission:

  1. Can’t have more than two active abilities on a unit.
  2. If cross-classing, unit becomes a “Hero” and can’t equip helmets. (edit) Once a Hero is made, their armor is locked in and can’t be changed. Sophia, Jacob, and Eileen start as Heroes, otherwise requiring level 7. Sophia and Jacob use the armor you see in the art. Eileen is a free choice.
  3. Can’t distribute points into skills until level 7.
  4. No raiding factions whatsoever (until Allied, but that isn’t applying right now) other than to exchange a craft for “The Gift” mission (turned my initial disappointment into a feature).
  5. No doing Diplomacy missions unless Allied (attacking other factions).
  6. Can only go above 50 rep with a single faction, and are locked in once decided. (in my case, New Jericho)
  7. Can not recruit soldiers from a faction’s haven until you’re Aligned with the faction.
  8. Stats are distributed based on class, 1 point per level, but can be freely chosen at level 7.

~ so some of my best soldiers have the worst gear. gear is limited. stats and skills are limited. that’s the point to help balance things out and make the fights more fair for the enemy that is otherwise grossly underpowered compared to these ancients :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m at the beginning of the 2nd month and I’ve essentially ran out of things to do with 4 bases, 4 craft, most research completed or near-completed and kind of just waiting on the Scylla/Lair/Citadel, so I’ve decided to do the ancient missions and get a jump on the good gear but I know I’m going in severely underequipped and underpowered compared to normal (what’s interesting here is EVERYTHING ELSE in the game is actually still pretty easy, but much more fun and tactical with the restrictions I have). While I do have a variety of characters at my disposal, I lack all the tools that make these missions easy. (Spider Drones and Stealth most notably) and the activation of the hoplites don’t make any sense to me as they seem to be able to react before I can even see them even in broad daylight. There’s no blips on the map to allow me to see them… it’s unfortunate.

So barring a lot of luck, it’s only a matter of one wrong mistep and suddenly I have a wealth of Hoplites incinerating my team and I’m restarting the mission. (5th time now watching the entire team get obliterated - even tried taking 1 step at a time per turn to slowly and safely inch myself towards the cliff… but still got obliterated). There’s virtually no cover from my start position (it’s a Protean Mutane Field) and I always die before I can make it to either one of the two hills on the map. With just Sniper Rifles and Shields of my own for the most part (and grenades that aren’t doing nearly enough), with the enemies having weird gaps in their body that allow you to miss… I end up missing 70% of the shots taken. So whether I stand and fight, or dash to run and hide, I get obliterated. They only need to hit me once on one soldier to win, I need to hit them 3-4 times per enemy.

Mostly I blame my restrictions here, but next to that I blame the awkward enemy design and the map that affords me zero tactical options in a tactics game. Without restrictions and instead cheesing these missions, they just become a walk around the park… but there’s GOT to be a fun way to fight these things. Has anyone yet figured out how to make these fights at all fun and enjoyable in a challenging non-cheesy way?

I’ve just got NJ and PX tech. Armadillos are junk on these maps I know and Technicians don’t offer much, especially when you’re starting in the open. Quick Aim spam on a bunch of snipers isn’t an option because it’s only available for two of my units, one of which instead uses an AR or PDW and if I get lucky it works, but it does require luck. Boom Blast grenades don’t do enough damage, takes about 4-6 to reliably take out a hoplite. Nothing is accurate enough to hit enemies reliably at range. Onslaught/Dash spam isn’t viable because of restrictions. It’s just kind of looking like this mission ~cannot~ be done with these restrictions and NJ as an ally without getting extremely lucky (or waiting until I’ve acquired more skills and more level 7s to abuse/spam abilities with to reduce the need for luck and waiting for armor piercing weapons - but the point I thought would be to fill the gap that exists in this point of the game). :frowning: (Synedrion as an Ally would make all of these missions the equivalent of opening the dev console and typing “win” except taking 500x longer, which tells me there’s something wrong with these missions or that they were designed for Synedrion’s benefit?)

but to attributes you can? If so then pumping strength and speed should help.

So how can you get to Allied status without doing any diplomacy mission (for Supportive and Aligned)?

you mean above 49 so to Alied status?

  1. EMP grenades (Zeus?) after researching Restricted Bionic Technology + any Shred weapons (10+ per attack) + any burst weapon (preferably assault rifle due to range). Normal weapons used just with attacks. I suppose it is not cheesing.
  1. Turrets are hard to hit and priority targets for Hoplites and Cyclops. They can really help you survive enemy barrage. Especially when returning fire.

  2. If you can use Dash then: use Odin grenade plus position yourself in first turn + close distance and use Mercy in second turn.

Oh oops, I must’ve deleted that part. Uh no, distributing stats is done in a specific way depending on class/cross-class/extra talents. Trying to avoid having 20 speed units or 35 strength soldiers until the end of the game for the final mission.

  • Haven Defenses boost rep
  • Clearing nests boosts rep
  • Various POI and Haven dialogues offer bonus reps based on dialogue choices.

By February I’d reached around 50 with all the factions roughly at the same time this way. NJ happened to be first by like 2 points or something. Early February, they’re now at 61. I feel this pace is far more enjoyable than the Allied with two by this point I used to get to in previous builds (on Legend), despite not even trying to get allies then either.


As for the rest, yeah those are under normal circumstances the bare minimum best I could come up with too. Just this “Protean Mutane” field map is just too disadvantageous to me it would seem.

I’m betting the other missions are probably far more doable, since they actually afford cover and I just happened to choose the absolute worst one to do first this time. Orichalcum affords the Mattock, and those maps are far easier from what I remember so I’m beginning to think the best idea here is to not choose the worst map first and maybe do it last once acquiring some better gear.

Oh and I gotta try Zeus I guess. I didn’t expect them to work, I didn’t think Hoplites were considered robots or electronic.

Reconsidering the approach of the Armadillo/Technician/Turrets. I know they won’t be able to do much other than offer a distraction, but maybe that’s all I need. I think I’m running low on time. Not sure the earliest the game can be beaten on Hero.

But you had to do all their diplomacy missions to be able to progress above 24 reputation. Along with their first missions.

For me turrets were blessing on these missions, and they stood long enough to let my soldiers do the thing. Just set them at second line (far enough from these damn beams) and go the other way - Hoplites like to put shields against these turrets - then your soldiers can attack enemy. If enemy decide otherwise then your turrets can wreak these Hoplites.

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Oh sorry, I meant the “Diplomacy Missions” as in the missions they offer you in the Diplomacy screen. “Destroy that Faction’s Generator” etc. There’s more rules that go along with these things but they weren’t really pertinent to the topic. All I am trying to say is that I only get access to 1 faction’s soldiers and technology at best during the mid-point of the game. (Another rule is Stealing/raiding becomes allowed if you become allied with a faction and they themselves become hostile with the other faction/vice-versa, which is guaranteed late game or if you’re rushing a faction’s research).

I’ve been trying to find a hole to put the Ancients DLC into in the game (under my custom ruleset), and it seems to best fit in the mid-late period where you’ll have most of the tech needed to be able to put up a fight against them + the high level soldiers with skills finally + enough time to be able to harvest their resources before the end of the game to have a few of their weapons. There appears to be a gap at this point in the game. I have no important missions to do (and now there’s far less Haven defenses and virtually no Base defenses… and I’m not complaining about that). Most of my soldiers are reaching level 7. Just a few POI left to discover. No need for resources or soldiers. Almost all research complete. (Minus anything related to a Scylla or Citadel/Lair) Feel like the game should be ending soon once those things are complete, so other than flying from Haven to Haven and trading resources, it seems like this would be a good time to begin doing Ancient missions. Except they’re just so much more difficult than the rest of the game that it’s a bit awkward to figure out and fit in. (And if I’m going to be honest, once I figured out they could be cheesed with Stealth, I’ve exclusively relied on that tactic to beat them, until I eventually just enabled Dev console to just type “win”. aka. I stopped doing these missions a long time ago because I simply do not like them, but I’m trying to find a way to like them right now.)

I’m also actually worried about the final fight itself. From what I remember, I do not think I have what it takes to win and I do not yet have a plan for that and I’m actually kind of wondering if it’s even possible as well.

Oh and most simple tactic against Ancients is hiding behind high obstacles and set overwatch. (Something similar to XCOM)

The Armadillo+Technician+Turrets worked wonders. Turrets did distract well. LOS pulled enemies close to Armadillo since it was able to move far very fast and hit+run tactic cleaned them all up with Rapid Clearance real quick. Just needed that mobile safety the Armadillo afforded, especially on the first two turns where I was nearly always guaranteed to be surrounded and couldn’t use any cover. Turned out to be real fun for once (something I thought was impossible on these maps with these enemies) and the Archangel Rocket Launcher is a pretty helpful addition with its precision, but I think I got a bit lucky on the spawns.

They all barely accomplished anything except walk into a kill zone on their turn.

Armadillo ended up being shredded down a bit towards the end but no one was even shot at. It seems like the Armadillo is a necessary teammate here under these circumstances (which goes against what I remember, but that was before I began using these cheesy hit-and-run tactics with vehicles, which I’ve been trying to keep to a minimum this time).

Still a very awkward difficulty shift and odd to go from barely being injured to witnessing an unrecoverable team wipe. (Reminds me of the early days) I’m not sure how I’d do this without faction tech still (as I was basically doing on my first attempt), but I do at least now have a means of tackling it reliably with New Jericho stuff.

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Hmm, from my experience taking vehicle to these missions almost in every case ended really bad for the vehicle.

My solution was without vehicle, but if that works for you then fine. My usual team in such missions were 6+ soldiers → 1 or 2 snipers, 2 or 3 assaults each with assault rifle and shotgun + additional grenades in backpack (if there were second sniper then there was one less assault), sometimes heavy to jet jump, and 1 or 2 technicians (if there was heavy missing) and each technician was holding at least 2 turrets (one shredding and one penetrating). Every soldier had at least one grenade (mostly simple Odin, but sometimes EMP, sometimes acid, and later on shredding grenades).

I played with not so severe restrictions as yours. But:

  • I didn’t double class any soldier
  • I was limiting Strength to 20 (exceptions were recruits from factions, but then I wasn’t increasing that attribute)
  • With most abilities I used restriction of “1 use per turn”
  • I tried to use only single mutation OR bionic augmentation on any given soldier, while most of them had none - only exceptions were soldiers recruited from factions where sometimes some of them had 2 such modifications
  • I had only single copy of each ancient weapon in late game, so when they were distributed between all my squads then it wasn’t so game changing mechanism.