To prevent alpha-strikes

To prevent alpha-strikes what if on turn one of a mission (some) Pandorans could (evolve) the ability to start the battle on overwatch?

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And what about the times the enemy alpha-strikes?

Alpha-strikes are rather tricky to deal with, since PP only has some manner of fog of war in underground pandoran bases (not knowing what’s around the corner makes people cautious), Players’ units always move first and they have a lot of options to make a hard pre-emptive strike on the first turn : sniping, dashing, chain-killing, bombarding… until they provoque wide-spread panic.
On the other hand, giving enemies the first move would be a death sentence on many small maps. It’s one of the reasons XCOM 2 has some very large maps, fog and infiltration mechanics : so both sides may play a few turns (and therefore explore a little, search for one another, get into position…) before the fighting begins.

But I can see a few ways to damper alpha-strikes, and/or put players on a more defensive stance. First of, spawning various enemies “at the ready” :

  • Arthrons with deployed shields,
  • Pandorans in mist bands (I believe the “mist bubbles” project is in part meant to adress that),
  • various units on overwatch, especialy some kind of sentinels
  • various units already “alerted”…

And here are some ideas outside of spawning, some may already be in dev’ :

  • giving some units a wider detection range (so their combat behaviour may kick in sooner), a better ability to alert others and/or sometimes having an “auto-detection” of sorts (mainly on “home-field” maps) would also prevent some of the more passive behaviours that make alpha-strikes so easy,
  • more stealthy Tritons and generaly more hidden units would incite players to be more wary (and make better use of the “detector” mounts), as mindfraggers already do sometimes.
  • some larger, more congested and/or partly hidden maps would help, too : lairs, for instance, already impose a measure of caution on the player’s part,
  • units less prone or sometimes even imune to panic,
  • giving more units reflexive abilities, as the Arthrons’ return-fire, some Scillas’ spawning mist when injured, tentacle retaliation, etc.

The game at large doesn’t need to prevent alpha-strikes entirely, but make them more risky or more situational, so it’s not always the optimal tactic.

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Then players would give all their soldiers the shadowlegs bionics to ignore overwatch :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Edit: it’s a good idea though, also what Wenlock says.

Or they start the mission standing behind a goo field.

I think Spite’s point is that by definition, the enemy can’t alpha-strike on the first turn.

PP always gets first move. So if you’re cautious (like me), you take cover, set up an OW screen, and get the lie of the land. Rather like Sherman tank crews in WW2, I always assume that there’s a Tiger (Siren or Bombard Chiron) round the corner, until I’m shown otherwise.

If you spot a Bombard Chiron in range, you alpha-strike it. If you can’t do that, you take up positions under cover and figure out how to take it down or Panic it in a minimal number of moves.

If you’re a Power-gamer, who likes stacking your OP Skills, you send your [pick OP build of choice] on a killing spree.

Then, once you’re done, whatever’s left of the Pandas gets to alpha-strike you back.

The game quite a few of these situations built in to it.
I’ve been explosive spammed more than once in the Pandoran’s first turn and i’ve been goo/explosive spammed more than once as well.
Not to mention having three from eight soldiers mind controlled and starting a return fire spamfest (although they have solved that one).

Needs work and balancing this kind of thing is going to be hard. Look at the forum here, people saying the game is too hard, people saying it’s too easy…

exactly !
Both sides are overpowered and too deadly.

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I think when people say game is too hard, mostly they mean some of situations are just unfair and you have no ways of countering them. Also, when people say game is too easy, mostly say some of skill exploits give you unfair advantage and let you cheese through game.

It doesn’t mean both sides contradict each other, but they point out issues in two different aspects of the game: enemy can be unfair, player can be unfair. Right now both are the reason why alpha-strike is so necessary and why it works. You have to use all the unfairness you can get to prevent other side unfairness.

I think alpha-strikes should be prevented along with reducing the need of an alpha-strike, but that’s basically: Nerf everything. If we prevent first turn alpha-strike, you may and probably will end up in much worse scenario with even more need to release the kraken. It will delay massacre by one turn, of course if you survive and still have means of such after potential mind-control and bombarding out of nowhere.

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I think we are meaning different things by alpha strike in this thread.

For me alpha strike is an overwhelming attack delivered on the first move of the first turn (before the opposing force can make any preparations) that disables (kills, or cripples in a way that negates any capacity for responding to the alpha strike) most of the opponents.

So,

  1. Pandas by definition can’t do it, because the player always moves first and can always make some preparations before the AI turn (whether they are effective, or not is a different story).

  2. Taking out a few enemies on the first turn doesn’t qualify as alpha striking, as the opponents capacity for response remains largely intact.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t unfair situations for the player, rather that they have to be addressed differently, they are not related to the alpha strike issue.

For example, explosive/acid Chirons - we all agree they are a problem, but they are not an alpha strike problem.

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Most hit a notch here, though

I have to say: my definition is slightly different.
Let’s say the enemy army consists of 2 Sirens, 2 Chirons and 4 Crabbys and 2 Tritons. If I only cleaned away 2 sirens and 2 chirons in the first round and did not stop in the middle of the rest of the opponents (e.g. from a safe distance or later moved far away), it is also for alpha strike, although more than 50 % of opponents are alive. My argument is: after the first round, the enemys clearly have no chance. Much worse: Now only the weak who are less of a problem are over.

The other way around: If my team (let’s say 3) is hit by a Chiron (bomb, acid) from a large distance , it is also over (body parts and weapons destroyed, or death after unfair acid)! And yes I know you can pull the soldiers apart, but sometimes you don’t see the Chiron at first and it is already over in the next round, although 5 soldiers (again> 50%) were not hit. That was even a gentle example, I have experienced major losses with frustration.

If anybody needed any confirmation that alpha striking (as I describe it in my post above) is bad for balance both ways, note that on Canny rework difficulty is now “closed”, because:

“We did changes in difficulty system in Leviathan patch. Dynamic difficulty influence was significantly decreased. Game is easier now in general. Our numbers confirm this change as winrate of missions went up 10%. We made easy difficulty easier and very hard harder. We will continue working on difficulty but for the most parts it can be considered as complete.”

The emphasis is mine.

Conclusion: alpha striking is making the game seem much easier than it actually is when the devs look at their stats.

EDIT: link to canny https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/rework-difficulty

Can you post the canny link?

That is so bad

The whole forest is not seen for the trees …

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Yes, you are right - I was imprecise when I said “a few enemies”. I meant to say that the opponent’s capacity for response remains largely intact.

It is very unfair, but it’s not an alpha strike, regardless of whether you could effectively prevent it, or not… though actually you could usually prevent it: by alpha striking - which is why alpha striking is so bad for balancing :crazy_face:.

Alpha striking is a very specific and very complex problem.

Chirons are Chirons - fix the explosives bug, nerf the damage, and if that is not enough, make them prep for one turn. Even if for some reason they can’t be fixed, they can be just removed. Not so with alpha striking.

Excerpt from the canny feedback:

Give enemies more damage, more armor, smarter behaviour. Reduce numbers of recruits available, reduce number of resources for trade, increase research/manufacture time … and generally make the game much more challenging on higher difficulties.

Doesn’t this point lead to an arms race and later to necessary methods such as alpha strike? :thinking:

Excerpt from dev answer:

We made easy difficulty easier and very hard harder. We will continue working on difficulty but for the most parts it can be considered as complete.

Would it be possible that the devs with difficulty do not necessarily mean the balancing and thus the alpha strike problem?
On the other hand, unfortunately, they did not respond to my request to respond in this regard.
.
Well … unfortunately expect the worst now, but hope for the best.

I would say that if the list was processed in the thread “nerf everything”, it would be a very good start. Maybe I’m too naive, but I guess 90% “OP” and thus alpha striking would be gone.

Nerf everything

Yes, balancing is a separate issue and it is always being worked on, so it has been said repeatedly by UV here.

What I meant is that alpha striking introduces a bias in the devs stats that prevents them from adequately evaluating the difficulty of the game.

i agree …

People trying to make the game harder again. Grrrr.

Think about the amount of people that would quit a mission, or possibly the game, if they kept getting alpha striked by the Pandoran’s on turn 1?

That is exactly what should be prevented!
We are on your side :wink:

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