What Self-Restrictions do you Use?

I know a lot of us use self-restrictions to keep this game interesting, and I thought it would be informative to find out how people restrict themselves and why.

Me, I play on Heroic because I find Legendary uninteresting, and I have a list of self-restrictions as long as my arm:

  • No Terminators - explains itself really. I don’t use Terminator Builds, full stop. In addition, I limit Terminator skills…
  • RC max = 3 - I only allow myself to chain 3 kills on any single use of Rapid Clearance.
  • BB max = 2 - I only allow my Grenadiers to launch 2 explosives with any Boom Blast, not 3 (or 4 if throwing grenades).
  • Direct Fire costs 1AP min - The cost of directly firing a weapon (ie. not OW) costs a minimum 1AP regardless of discounts. This prevents chaining pistol shots and GL/GL/RL.
  • Onslaught max = 1 - I only allow each Squaddie to receive 1 Onslaught boost per turn.
  • RC/AR cannot stack - Both Rapid Clearance and Adrenalin Rush cannot be cast by the same squaddie in the same turn as any other skill. This prevents the most egregious Terminator Chains from happening.
  • War Cry = Suppression Fire - I treat War Cry as if it was suppressive fire by my Heavy: so at least 1 target of the War Cry has to be within LoS for me to use it.
  • Quick Aim max = 2 - My Snipers are only allowed to use a max 2 QAs per turn.
  • MfD cannot stack - I think this has been implemented in the recent patch, but Marked for Death cannot be stacked.
  • RB HMG - Rage Burst is confined to Deceptor-style HMGs only, which is as the skill was originally designed until somebody found the exploit.

That’s the skills. Then I have a whole series of House Rules, which make the game more ‘realistic’ (for a given value of realistic :wink:):

  • Leg Reinforcement - A Squaddie can only equip and use a Torso Mount or Jet Jump if (s)he is equipped with a Heavy &/or Techhie Torso & Legs, to take the weight and impact of the recoil. This also prevents the utterly stupid ‘ballet dancer’ look of a Heavy wearing Sniper legs.

  • Base Kit Only - Squaddies can only exchange kit between Transports if they are in a Base; though the Bases can be on opposite sides of the world (I rationalise this by saying they have 3D-printer Fax Machines that require an item to be broken down at one end and printed at the other).

  • Tooling Up - The only items that can be equipped directly from a Transport are spare Ammo, Medkits and Grenades.

  • Enhancement Recovery Time - A Squaddie can only be fitted with a Bionic Enhancement or a Mutation in the Base that contains the Lab. In addition, that Squaddie is out of action recuperating for 1 day per full 100 Resources spent on the surgery.

  • Surgery Time - Any Squaddie who loses a Location during a Mission must heal back in a Medbay, where their Location is surgically operated on.

And then there’s Diplomacy. I hate the way you can cosy up to all 3 Factions really easily, despite the fact that they are so ideologically opposed that they will even go to war against one another. So I restrict the number of Factions I can cozy up to like this:

  • At 25 Dip - I can be Friendly with all 3 Factions.
  • At 50 Dip - I can never Align with the Faction that hates the Faction I first Align with. From the lore, I infer that NJ hates Anu / Anu hates Synedrion / and Synedrion hates NJ.
  • At 75 Dip - I can only Ally with 1 Faction.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, but those are the main restrictions I use to make the game as challenging as it ought to be and to fix some of the more egregiously stupid exploits that the game currently allows.

So now the ball’s in your court - what restrictions do you use, and why do you feel that you have to use them?


-no raiding or stealing of technology aircraft or resources.
-no sharing equipment of multiple squads.
-no boomblasting of mounted rockets.
-no stacking accuracy gear on anything but a dedicated sniper.
-no use of sneak attack or adrenaline rush.
-1/turn use of remote control.
-no stacking of onslaught on the same soldier.
-no use of bugged equipment or skills that favor the player (used to be Dante, but examples include the mfD stack)

I’m going to add: no use of lotA equipment, no use of frenzy.

I’m more liberal in what I can use them @MichaelIgnotus, but I don’t like abusing the current low penalty for screwing over the factions relative to what you get out of it. nor do I feel its a good thing to share equipment between squads operating on different area’s of the globe.

I do not restrict because I absolutely need a challenge, I restrict because I feel the game “feels” better when certain skills arn’t spammed, and certain actions arn’t used.

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This could be interesting …

Most campaigns I played on Veteran because I don’t like the whole pace of the game and I know it ramps up on higher difficulties. I beat it 2 times on Hero and once on Legendary some time ago but I didn’t really liked it, not because it was too hard but because I felt stressed with even more haven defences and Pandoran base destructions. I don’t know how often I won it on Veteran but it was pretty often, since LotA DLC at least 2-3 times. After my last campaign (I wrote about it here in the Forum) I started just today with the new patch a new one, this time again on Hero.

Now my own restrictions:

  • Classes, Skills, Combos:

    • No restrictions, anything goes and I use anything what the game has.
    • But I don’t use any bugged mechanics and also no weapons without proficiency (Destiny)
  • Squads: not more than 5 members per squad but I fill aircrafts up with vehicles:

    • Manticore - 3 soldiers and 1 vehicle (right from the start I build as first a Scarab)
    • Helios - 5 soldiers, rarely 2 soldiers and 1 vehicle
    • Thunderbird - 4 soldiers and 1 vehicle, but I use it very rarely
    • Tiamat - … I simply don’t use it, just too slow
  • Diplomacy, Faction interaction:

    • I mostly go with all factions, so at this point no restrictions.
    • No resource raids, no aircraft and research stealing.
    • No abuse of sabotage, but I’m not that strict at this point. but rarely more than one, often even none (like the last one).
    • No abuse of constantly trading, but I trade when I really need resources

That’s it and I still have fun to just rumble over the enemies with my somehow small squads, but I also don’t expect any challenge with long tactical fights or something similar.

This game is for me a playground to try out anything that is possible with this, in my opinion, basically fantastic open sandbox class, skill and weapon system. It has more of an character based strategy game with a turn based combat system, like some RPGs, than a real TBS game like the old xcoms.
I also don’t longer expect much more than this, except to balance at least some of the most OP things and, for me way more important, to get the stupid pace tuned down.

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I forgot about raiding (told you I’d forget something, didn’t I :wink:)

Yea, no raiding, though I do steal an aircraft early in the game if I’m low on resources. This is less to do with the exploit - though I do feel that Dip penalties are fundamentally flawed (they’re far too low for essentially condemning a Haven(s) to death) - and more to do with my feeling that we’re supposed to be defending mankind, not preying off them.

I also don’t exploit the Trade loopholes, though I don’t restrict Trading.

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I also don’t use LotA kit, but that’s more because I find LotA an irritating drain on resources that appears at the wrong time (both in terms of the lore and of the strategy) than because the weapons are so OP.

I’m thinking of maybe trying LotA later in my current campaign, if I can be bothered.

But right now, I’m so tired of having to workaround all the bugs & loopholes in the game that I’m taking a break from PP for a while.

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I am in the middle of my second playthrough (haven’t finished the first one either). Hero difficulty.
Now my own restrictions:

  • Classes, Skills, Combos:

    • I always multiclass like Soldier/Specialist (Assault/Berserker, Heavy/Berserker, Sniper/Infiltrator, Assault/Priest, etc.)
    • No head mutations on my 3 starting soldiers (they have to keep their faces). No head mutations or head bionics unless absolutely necessary (like 1 Frenzy head in each squad).
    • No simultaneous use of Rapid Clearance and Adrenaline Rush at the same turn
    • Onslaught max = 1 (to tell the truth I think I didn’t use that skill yet)
    • Mark for Death - no stacking (also forget to cast this, never used it yet)
  • Squads: I use 3 of my 8 men squads to maximize SP gain (each of the squads has 2 aircrafts)

  • Bases: no stacking facilities like medbays and Training facility

  • Diplomacy, Faction interaction:

    • I go with all factions, so at this point no restrictions.
    • I only steal 1 aircraft, and after that - no resource raids, no aircraft and research stealing. No use of sabotage
    • No constant trading, but I trade when I have free aircrafts to spare

General rule:

  • Only 1 save
  • Only single class (I like multiclassing, but not the possible OP combos that result from it)
  • No raid (exploit)
  • No steal aircrafts (No consequences )


  • Only class related clothes (e.g. almost every soldier benefits from sniper head armor, but this can only be worn by the sniper) → as a result, the soldiers look … more uniform / more subtle / more realistic
  • No bionics (no construction time + additional (mighty) skills + resistance or immunity + more armor than comparable equipment = OP)
  • No ancients weapons (toys for crab terminators and questionable procurement mechanics )
  • No Judgment priest head (+ 5WP + one of the most powerful skills “frenzy” + more armor than other priest heads = why is there still a choice?)


  • No Lvl 7 skill from the technician “Electrical Reinforcement” I’m not sure if it’s really OP, but it looks extremely like a spell of might and magic

Oh, and something very important:
I have never used self restrictions in any game (no matter what genre) where content is cut out. It doesn’t really feel “right” either.


It used to be OP in that it stacked and applied to all friendly units. Now though it doesn’t stack, only has a range of 10(?) tiles, and the cost to use is the highest ever. It is sort of magical, but then so is armor break, war cry (on mechanical units), and frenzy. A frenzied alpha triton can move 39 tiles!

It was like that at the release. And it wasn’t OP, but broken, similar to MfD recently. ER is now helpful against fire, AR and shootgun attacks and is therefore more situational. So that’s right, rather not OP.

Yes that’s true.

What can I say: I just don’t like this Armor broadcast. A matter of taste. If it were the only thing I would do without, you couldn’t call it self restrictions :wink:

Frenzy is more powerful and is already on the list. This spell is very counterproductive against already small standard maps (40 tiles), so that the whole map can be crossed in one turn. I find it problematic for both sides.

And War Cry is also very powerful when used correctly.

I like the idea of having an officer with a Centurion helmet in my squad who shouts at the soldiers so that they run fasta and don’t panic while he walks behind them at leisure pace)))

Do not worry!
It will definitely stay that way :clap:

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Interesting self restrictions, although I don’t use Adrenaline, or Boom Blast or Goliath GL playing seriously,

What about no stacking facilities like medbays and TF?

Or Voland self restriction, soldiers not leaving the base with stamina below 20

Also Inspire, Heavy LV 6 ability , +1 WP for every soldier killing a worm?

And Brawler? killing a Siren using 3 AP bashing, you can’t destroy a weapon, your soldier will bring two heavy weapons, just in case

should I restrict number of times bashing every enemy? this is really insane

and the list is growing every time we play

I went from hard self-restrictions to something more like being generally suboptimal on purpose and avoiding doing things I don’t like.

I play on Legend with self-imposed Ironman, which takes care of some things on its own, like excess SP. Also, because I’m always losing operatives and not reloading, they just don’t last that long (my memorial is around 30 strong :slightly_smiling_face:; if you sign up with my organization you are usually dead within 2 weeks).

Things I avoid because I find them broken or just no fun:

  • Sabotage missions; it’s easy enough to advance diplo status without them, also not fun
  • Raids for resources; it just feels broken, not only diplowise but also that they have infinite resources to steal and IIRC they have resources to trade after you steal them. Also, I feel like I’m doing enough missions already.
  • Some skill combos, mostly with Rapid Clearance.
  • equipment sharing

With that, small teams with at least some low level soldiers and trying stuff that looks fun though might be suboptimal, I mostly manage to get by.

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I can see that your play style is the complete opposite of mine. I play to preserve my operatives and do not put them into unnecessary peril. I follow the guidelines outlined in the tutorial, “wait for them, they will come”. When I don’t know the attacking forces, I pull back and wait for them. Often times there will be occasions where one thinks it’s safe to make the first strike. More often than not, this is just a trap. Which I have learned to avoid.

I really enjoyed reading this thread, I hope the devs read these and take these as potential balance changes that might make the game better.

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Currently I use less of these restrictions, than before, because I try to reach end-game more easily than before.

So no longer:

  • Iron Man mode - when I loose some important soldier, most often I reload, mostly because I find some attacks of aliens too powerful (Arthron’s evolved MG and evolved pincer, Scylla Pincer, Harrower in hands of Triton)
  • no item sharing between squads - to be true I don’t use this restriction only because I don’t like to follow and write the location of where each item ‘should’ be. Of course I find this restriction really something that developers should invest time into and create separate stores for each base and aircraft.
  • only 1 ally - because of random element of the geoscape creation I don’t limit myself any longer in reaching ally status with only 1 faction - their missions can be too far at some point so I don’t eliminate any faction relation, and I really like to choose which ending I am selecting, so I try to stay positive with all of them so at the end I fast-run all research projects of my selected faction

Currently in use:

  1. Geoscape:
  • No actions against factions (stealing, raids)
  • No trading except situations where I go for a recruit to some haven
  1. Bases
  • Don’t build duplicated facilities, except research labs and fabrication plants (but I rarely do it too - to be true except unlocked buildings which I use one copy of, I only construct Uplinks and Repellers)
  1. Personnel (so leveling, equipment, augmentations)
  • Don’t train any perk that gives damage modification (even Cautious) except melee, so Close quarters specialist is ok for melee characters, Biochemist also excluded
  • Mostly single class soldiers + 1 personal perk, and if soldier don’t have any perk which can be trained (because of above reason), then I select second class and single skill which I find is not an abuse.
  • Strength max at 20 (this is probably why I find some of alien attacks too powerful and don’t use “pretend Iron Man mode”)
  • don’t augment soldiers until they reach level 7 and still try to avoid most obvious exploits for a class
  1. Research
  • don’t help factions research anything, until end-game, if I want their ending
  1. Manufacturing
  • Create only one copy of Ancient weapons
  1. Tactical part
  • almost all skills with a limit of 1 use per turn - Dash, Manual Control, and skills from mutations are usually an exception - and passives like Surprise Attack, Sneak Attack, Remote Deployment happen more than once (but activated skills like Onslaught, Rapid Clearance, etc. have this limit)
  • Ready for Action only in relation to own inventory (maybe sometimes I reach for medkit in other soldier’s backpack)
  • Rage Burst only with burst weapons (excluding shotguns or acid cannon or acid handgun)
  • Quick Aim only with sniper rifles
  • Surprise Attack and Sneak Attack only with crossbows
  • Manual Control only used once on any given target (but more than once per turn if there are 2 turrets or turret and a vehicle)
  • I try to not shoot at targets who are only marked with red sound ping, unless they are Tritons standing 3 tiles away from me
  • try to avoid using mounted weapons after casting Boom Blast
  • Adrenaline Rush mostly used with melee attacks (as I don’t multi-class anyway, and with handguns it is not important)

I play on Legend because it’s the closest thing I can get to a challenge, but still find large gaping flaws (mainly with Armor and Vehicles).

Game-wide Changes:

  • Ironman Mode - 1 save only. If you lose someone, oh well. (Shouldn’t matter though unless for some reason you’re putting your Team Leaders in cannon-fodder positions… you have cannon fodder for a reason)

  • Speed-demon - only do missions as necessary (game flows more like New Xcoms). Try to beat the game as fast as possible, always aim to progress to the next stage and reach the final mission and skip nearly everything else (in dead spots it’s fair to do side missions while waiting for research to finish or while waiting for a team to reach a primary mission). Most resources get spent on facilities instead of soldiers.

  • We’re Not Rebuilding the World Here - 4 Phoenix Bases MAX, choose wisely where to reactivate and what to build.

  • Full Augmentations - mod game to allow 3/3 augmentations. Since resources often end up actually scarce, this turns out to not necessarily be a huge benefit and instead a bit of a scary cost. Other restrictions in stats/abilities make these into more of special units to help offset late-game weaknesses.

    • Side Note: IF you’re not aligning with a faction, then reduce to standard 2/3 max and no head augmentations allowed beyond any earned from a recruited soldier/Priest.
  • Say No to RPG Mechanics - No spending SP on soldiers until level 5. Training facilities are used to reach lvl7 without missions after 2-3 weeks… often before main soldiers even reach lvl7. The low amount of total SP really limits what you can turn lvl7’s into without extra missions or G-SP spending.

    • Side note: Try not to spend SP on any soldier who you’re not equipping with armor either. Try to align equipment with SP so the game functions more like a standard tactics game and NOT a standard RPG (or some hybrid). Armor/advanced weapons once equipped on a soldier, stays with that soldier. (All of this surprisingly works and makes the game very tense and fun. Soldiers are clearly disposable and easily replaced beyond your “Elites” and “Team Leaders” - tend to have 1 “Elite” for every 4 cannon fodder - final mission is done with all Elites/Team Leaders)
    • 2nd Side Note: Early faction missions will be a lot tougher, recommended to put them off until manufacturing a Scarab (day 4 roughly).
    • 3rd Side Note: Strength is capped at 20. Willpower is capped at 12 (unless a Priest). Speed is capped at 18.
  • I Can Only Bring HOW MANY? - Find a way to mod deployment restriction from 9 to 12 on the final mission. (haven’t yet figured out how to do this, but final mission isn’t that fun with all these other restrictions in place and rushing)

  • You’re NOT a Pirate! - Can only attack factions on the conditions that they’re either hostile with your ally or your ally is hostile with them. However, you’re only allowed to do your Ally’s missions, not raid or steal until they’re at War.

    • Side Note: Only allowed to raid/steal once per week per haven.
  • They’re Not Gods - Limit active skills to 1 per soldier. Rapid Clearance or Adrenaline Rush? Not both. Extras afforded by augmentations/equipment don’t count.

  • We Were NOT Prepared! - Scrap all armor at the start of the game. (Feel free to keep Prestige, but don’t use it until unlocking the 4th base.)

  • Base Defenses Suck! - Mod the game to enable developer console. Type “win” on each base defense provided you have at least 4 soldiers there with equipment.

  • This is Just Getting Boring Now… - Mod the game to enable developer console.

    • Nest: After day 20, provided you have at least a Scarab and 2 soldiers tackling the mission, fire 2 volleys of a light weapon at your vehicle. Skip 2 turns, and type “win” into the console. (Simulate damage and Stamina loss - I find this more fun and less time consuming than actually doing the mission)
    • Lair: After day 40, provided you have at least 8 soldiers OR a jetpack+flamethrower and 6 soldiers then skip/fight for 4 turns and use some ammo before typing “win” into the console.
    • Haven Defense: On any defense that’s 10 or under after the 3rd week, just type “win” into the console.
  • Ancient Shmancient - DO NOT rescue Helena unless you’re not aligning with a faction. Find a weapon that aligns with your faction, manufacture ONE. If not aligned with a faction, feel free to do whatever you please here.

  • This isn’t Star Trek - No ability to transport matter across the globe. Craft must return to base after each mission to refuel and rearm.

  • Role-play your Ideology - If rising above 49 with a faction, then follow their lead and DO NOT raise above 49 with any other faction. Choose ally based on proximity to their primary cluster and try to protect the cluster (should hopefully become obvious within the first week or two of exploration.)

    1. ANU:
      • Technology is your enemy, avoid it. NO vehicles inside Tiamat. 1 Manticore only. NO cybernetics.
      • Stick to mutations and Anu equipment primarily. Large teams full of mostly disposable units augmented by Priests.
      • Ignore Pandoran structures (beyond the 1 each necessary to progress).
      • DON’T build Satellites or Cybernetics. DO build lots of Food and Mutation.
      • Tactics are to swarm enemies recklessly, relying mostly on speed, strength and willpower.
      • DO NOT assist Subject 24.
      • DO NOT do the mission “Overrun”
    2. SYN:
      • Stealth is the key, so try to do most missions at night.
      • Undo “You’re Not a Pirate!” restriction. Stealing tech from factions is allowed.
      • Stick to as few bases as possible. Create small elite teams using Helios.
      • DO build Mist Repellers, Satellites/Cybernetics/Mutation optional. If building Mutation Chamber, try to get Mutagen mostly from Lairs/Citadels.
      • Tactics are to remain hidden and whittle down enemies with poison, sneak attacks and spider drones for scouting.
      • DO NOT assist Subject 24.
      • DO NOT do the mission “Overrun”
    3. NJ:
      • Mutations are an abomination. Always reject anything supportive of the ANU ideology. NO Living Weapons.
      • Undo “You’re Not a Pirate!” restriction. Raiding/stealing from factions are allowed as long as your rep remains within New Jericho’s rep towards the faction.
      • DO build Satellites and Cybernetics, Mist Repeller optional. DO NOT build Mutation.
      • Tactics are to fortify positions and bomb the living hell out of the enemies with heavy weaponry, turrets and heavy use of vehicles as tanks.
      • DO NOT assist Subject 24.
    4. PP:
      • Anything goes really, but try not to be too wasteful. Undo “You’re Not a Pirate!” but you’re not 50+ with anyone. Make use of stealing/trading or Phoenix tech as needed. Do what you want 'cause a pirate is free!
      • The only play style that affords you the ability to not have to align yourself against Subject 24. Let the pure run wild if you please.

I think I’d also want to include some others in a game after perusing this:

UNLESS the craft has a Technician on board OR the injured soldier has the Regenerative Torso mutation.

… and couldn’t agree more with the following:

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There are a couple of mods that can help you here.

Sheepy’s ‘Unlimited Deployment’ does exactly what it says.

However, if you still want to impose some limitations, ‘Assorted Adjustments’ lets you set your max squad size to up to 10 I believe - which means the Final Mission would go up to 11.

Apparently it’s not working since Year 1 though. Same goes for a lot of mods that haven’t been updated. Haven’t tried it myself though. Got to the final mission, gave it a shot, got my ass handed to me by the mark, laughed and haven’t played since. I could still probably do it with 9 though, but now that I know what to expect I’d definitely change how I spent that 400SP from the general pool + probably take an Armadillo.

Assorted Adjustments is definitely working because I use it to tweak some of the settings - and it makes the UI of the Geoscape much more informative as well.

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