Hello, new poster with some tough questions


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#1 lokiju

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 10:01 PM

First of all, hello, and thanks for such a wonderful X-com site! I love this game, but have some questions of which the lack of concrete answers cause me much mental stress being one of those min/max type of strategy gamers. I did some scanning of older posts but still never found any hard answers...so hoping someone can help me:

1) I know you can transfer scientists & engineers the last few hours of the month to save on salaries...but can you
 do the same with interceptors & skyrangers? 

2) Given the short distances of the manufactured crafts, do any of you keep interceptors & skyrangers until you get Avengers? Or is the monthly rental too much (as long as you can't do #1 above)?

3) If you leave an area free of bases...does the game deter aliens from going there? I have the nagging suspicion that once you place a base in an area, the game starts more alien activity there. It doesn't make sense that you place 1 base in say America, but you then can't defend other areas since the aliens are hidden to you. Should we take our time in placing bases until you can stock one to defend an area, or does having early placements with little use but radar really help? Do the aliens attack other areas of the globe after a certain period of time? Because if not, then how do they expect you to defend the globe in the first few months?

4) Related to #3, how fast do you guys try to set new bases up?

5) I have heard that researching certain techs (like plasma) opens up the floor for harder aliens to show up. Is there any truth to this, and if so, are there certain techs to research last to avoid early difficulty?

6) I usually buy & sack soldiers until I get 12 decent 40+ bravery troops in the beginning of the game (I don't usually lose soldiers because I reload alot admittedly)...because I feel the faster I get 12 troops experienced, the better the game will be. I can then send 4 vet troops in the midgame to another area to help out once
 I finally decide to get a tank. Is this a bad strat? I feel like using tanks early make 4 soldiers lose out on potential experience.

7) Can someone give me a decent timeline on how many scientists and enginers you
 should have in the opening months? I find the salaries to be a bit over the top, but the game designers couldn't intend for us to use the salary tranfer trick...how did they esxpect us to research in any decent amount of time with the costs of scientists?

8) How many large radars do you use in your early bases? I try to get a sectoid navigator by the end of the first month to research for hyperwave decoder early. But I have read that people get better results with a large radar working in tandem with the HD (better distance?).

Ok, well, sorry to throw so many questions at you guys, but not knowing these things causes me a little min/max stress hehe.

    Thanks for any help you can offer!

#2 Knan

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 10:23 PM

Welcome!

View Postlokiju, on 18th January 2008, 11:01pm, said:

2) Given the short distances of the manufactured crafts, do any of you keep interceptors & skyrangers until you get Avengers? Or is the monthly rental too much (as long as you can't do #1 above)?

What monthly rental? :P ... really, it's not an issue. I only ever ditch skyrangers/interceptors in order to make room for building the homebrews.

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3) If you leave an area free of bases...does the game deter aliens from going there? I have the nagging suspicion that once you place a base in an area, the game starts more alien activity there. It doesn't make sense that you place 1 base in say America, but you then can't defend other areas since the aliens are hidden to you. Should we take our time in placing bases until you can stock one to defend an area, or does having early placements with little use but radar really help? Do the aliens attack other areas of the globe after a certain period of time? Because if not, then how do they expect you to defend the globe in the first few months?

You've never had aliens attack Buenos Aires when you're based in London? Can easily happen in january/february 1999 if you're unlucky. The whole globe is their target...

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5) I have heard that researching certain techs (like plasma) opens up the floor for harder aliens to show up. Is there any truth to this, and if so, are there certain techs to research last to avoid early difficulty?

Rumour is that researching the plasma guns causes aliens to start packing heavier weaponry, but no idea about the which aliens show up first & last & why thing.

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6) I usually buy & sack soldiers until I get 12 decent 40+ bravery troops in the beginning of the game (I don't usually lose soldiers because I reload alot admittedly)...because I feel the faster I get 12 troops experienced, the better the game will be. I can then send 4 vet troops in the midgame to another area to help out once
I finally decide to get a tank. Is this a bad strat? I feel like using tanks early make 4 soldiers lose out on potential experience.

Tanks are wonderful scouts. I buy one first thing on starting a game. I wouldn't go to a terror site without one, if it's not scrap from last mission. Far too many soldiers lost otherwise, which loses me hard-gotten experience. (Then again, losing less than half the squad is good enough for me to not save-scum.)

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7) Can someone give me a decent timeline on how many scientists and enginers you
should have in the opening months? I find the salaries to be a bit over the top, but the game designers couldn't intend for us to use the salary tranfer trick...how did they esxpect us to research in any decent amount of time with the costs of scientists?

Don't worry about it. Hire as many scientists as you can fit in your budget and living space early on. Add engineers later, the initial 10 are plenty until you begin mass-producing armor and such. It will all work out.


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#3 Gimli

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 11:23 PM

To start off, there isn't one single method of winning, there's quite a few standard methods, which people then fit to their own playing styles. So lots of different strategies there. :oh:

"1) I know you can transfer scientists & engineers the last few hours of the month to save on salaries...but can you
do the same with interceptors & skyrangers?"
A quick check in the game says yes.

"2) Given the short distances of the manufactured crafts, do any of you keep interceptors & skyrangers until you get Avengers? Or is the monthly rental too much (as long as you can't do #1 above)?"

My usual late game formation is 1 interceptor, 1 avenger and 1 skyranger (per base of course). Part of the reason is possible Elerium problems and part of it is that the avenger takes a long time to get repaired, wastes elerium and I don't really have the need for more than 14 soldiers, so I stick to the skyrangers.

"3) If you leave an area free of bases...does the game deter aliens from going there? I have the nagging suspicion that once you place a base in an area, the game starts more alien activity there. It doesn't make sense that you place 1 base in say America, but you then can't defend other areas since the aliens are hidden to you. Should we take our time in placing bases until you can stock one to defend an area, or does having early placements with little use but radar really help? Do the aliens attack other areas of the globe after a certain period of time? Because if not, then how do they expect you to defend the globe in the first few months?

4) Related to #3, how fast do you guys try to set new bases up?"

Well, I never used more than 6 bases, with a hyperwave decoder, I found them enough to cover the globe and provide a good network for fighter crafts. Meaning, I can more cover alien ships and prevent more of them from out flying my interceptors.
Again, there's many different things you can do with bases, from R&D bases, to listening posts, to full fledged bases. The reason you don't need to immediately cover everything is because the game starts off easier in the beginning You may have noticed that you encountered floaters or sectoids early on, but only later got to mutons and ethereals. Also, the aliens being easier will mean it will be easier to get a sufficient number of points to satisfy the funding nations. However, ultimately you want to prevent the funding nations from abandoning the project, because you can get a substantial amount of money. Of course, later on you'll mostly depend on selling off your equipment, but the money the funding nations provide you can be significant.
Personally I cover North America and Europe with the first two bases, then proceed with East Asia, and then with Africa, South America and Australia.
I set up new bases when I feel like I will be able to support it financially. In the last few games I've played, it ended up every 2nd-3rd month.
Personally, I don't tend to build listening posts, but if I did, I wouldn't do it until I felt like I'm out of the first months money problem. My secondary bases consist of mostly interceptors, some soldiers, a hyperwave decoder and sometimes labs and workshops. I do not build any kind of radar in a base until I have put some troops inside to defend it. Of course, if you're financially secure, then listening posts are a viable option, just be aware that they're at risk of getting destroyed also.

"5) I have heard that researching certain techs (like plasma) opens up the floor for harder aliens to show up. Is there any truth to this, and if so, are there certain techs to research last to avoid early difficulty?"

Not sure if it's tied to research, could be tied to how many months have passed. However, almost every piece of technology you get from the aliens is worth the more difficult aliens. Plasma weapons are really a class above most normal weapons you get. Not that you really have to use them all that much, laser rifles are quite good as well (always keep a few in the stores).

"6) I usually buy & sack soldiers until I get 12 decent 40+ bravery troops in the beginning of the game (I don't usually lose soldiers because I reload alot admittedly)...because I feel the faster I get 12 troops experienced, the better the game will be. I can then send 4 vet troops in the midgame to another area to help out once
I finally decide to get a tank. Is this a bad strat? I feel like using tanks early make 4 soldiers lose out on potential experience."
Well it seems like a waste of money, because early on, your soldiers are practically cannon fodder. Although it doesn't get a whole lot better with armors if you're playing on harder difficulties. Still, depends on your playing style, if you see it works, then you should use it. Ironman mode is a good way to asses how good your strategy/tactic is. If you lose a lot of soldiers every mission, then it's probably not good.
I immediately hire 12 soldiers. 14 of these go on missions, and 6 remain in case my base gets attacked while the skyranger is out. I used tanks a lot before, but now I just use them for base defense missions and Cydonia. I find 4 soldiers to be worth more, but for base defenses it doesn't hurt to have the tanks.

"7) Can someone give me a decent timeline on how many scientists and enginers you
should have in the opening months? I find the salaries to be a bit over the top, but the game designers couldn't intend for us to use the salary tranfer trick...how did they esxpect us to research in any decent amount of time with the costs of scientists?"

Again, more than one way of going about it. I get another 10 immediately and 5 engineers. Then when I get more living quarters, I try to get 50 scientists and 30-40 engineers. Doesn't happen immediately, but I always produce something - medikit when there's nothing important, because it sells well - so I like getting engineers as well.

"8) How many large radars do you use in your early bases? I try to get a sectoid navigator by the end of the first month to research for hyperwave decoder early. But I have read that people get better results with a large radar working in tandem with the HD (better distance?)."

1 larger + 1 small until I build the HD. Once I get it, I dismantle the other two, because they're not needed.


On another note, you can also find many answers on www.ufopaedia.org, and there's lots of thing you probably didn't know. Be sure to check it out.

#4 NKF

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 06:23 AM

Welcome - don't worry about asking lots of questions. A lot of your questions have been actually been asked and answered over the years - but finding them is your typical needle/haystack scenario.

Still, we're always happy to help if we are able to. The only problem with asking lots of questions in one go is that we end up with large replies. :P  


1. Make it a habit and sell the excess heavy plasmas you pick up in battle. If you've got a strong manufacturing team, you could also make and sell laser cannons for more money. Salary woes and aircraft leases become non-issues as you progress through the game.

2. The Interceptor and Skyranger are the most reliable ships you can own, even with their leases.

The interceptor armed with a plasma beam (or two) can shoot down all but Battleships, and do not rely on elerium for fuel. Also, it beats the Firestorm and Lightning for range. The Skyranger in particular has the longest air time in the game and can stay out for several days straight. One final exceptional feature that ordinary leased aircraft possess is that they aren't forced to return to base the very second their fuel hit 50% - hybrid aircraft will turn back immediately when this happens, reducing their air time even more (although it's not really an issue for the Avenger since it has an amazing top speed).

The trick with the interceptors is to build up a decent network of launch bases around the globe and only launch them when the UFOs have reached their destination. See, UFOs have a pattern to their movements. They move at high speeds to their destination upon creation. Starting aircraft and even the Lightning cannot catch them at this stage. When they reach their destination they wander about the area at a slower speed. This is where you get them. Finally the speed off and vanish, again you won't be able to catch them at this point.  

Of course, it's always best to have a mix of conventional and hybrid ships. The conventional ship do the ordinary every day stuff that don't need brute force, while the hybrid ships are deployed for emergencies or special occasions.

3. From observation, at first, the first few UFOs that you encounter will appear around your general vicinity, which is often enough to give you a head start in tech gathering. Terror sites will happen anywhere and it doesn't take much to trigger a base attack. Later on, UFOs will be active anywhere on the globe.

4. When you've got the cash. That's all there is to it, really.

5. Thankfully, it does not. There is the possibility that it is either score or date based, but you will not trigger tougher enemies or stronger just by researching good tech right away. The only tech I'd recommend researching last would be alien Medics of any kind. It's partly to avoid a bug and partly for efficiency. :oh:

6. You'd be better off hanging onto your soldiers regardless of their initial skills until you can screen their psi abilities. The way the game issues out experience, those with weaker stats can earn experience faster than those with high stats as long as you let them actively participate in the fight.

Trust me, a rookie that you initially look at as hopeless can make an amazing turnaround after actively participating in a couple of battles.

The reason I say hang on to your soldiers is because all weak stats can be trained, except for psi strength, which determines the bulk of a soldier's psi resistance and psi attacking power. That's fixed, and really makes or breaks a veteran when fighting enemies with psi.

There's also a derived stat, energy recharge per turn, that cannot be changed. It's a pretty minimal difference at best, soldiers can have between 16 - 20 points of energy recharge per turn. This is determined by initial TUs.

The key to effective training is to ensure that the soldiers actually hit the enemy with a bullet or explosive (stun or HE) or stun rod or even performs a reaction shot, just to name a few of the more common stat building tasks.  

You don't have to kill or even cause any damage to the enemy for these actions to build experience. So if you're fighting weak enemies like floaters, it might be in your best interest to switch to weak weapons like pistols and rifles to get some really good training out of the battle. Also, if your soldier is low on accuracy, consider firing rocket launcher (aimed + kneel) or throwing grenades. They don't miss easily.

When training reactions be sure to train in a large group. The more the merrier and even those who do not get off a reaction shot will earn experience if their initiative is good enough to put them into the reaction fire queue.

As for tanks, they are much debated and have their definite pros and cons. It's best to think of tanks as valuable scouts and throw-away units that function solely to protect your soldiers and keep them out of harms way. They should be used to kill enemies as a last resort where possible. Their use is generally prohibited by their price early on though. One small benefit is that they aren't targeted for psi attacks, and they're immune to stun bombs.


7. This is purely a matter of how you intend to approach the game. You can easily get all your core technologies with a small group of 50 scientists (at a cheap $3 mil a month!) in good time if you are very selective in what you research. Say laser rifles, flying suits, plasma beams and alien grenades just as an example of what you might be using the most. After that you can easily take your time and research the rest of the technologies as you need them.

If you want a team of 100 or 200 scientists, be prepared to find ways to pay their large bill by selling off excess loot that you pick up from the battles.

Engineers on the other hand are another matter entirely. They can easily earn their own keep for themselves and then some by pumping out craft laser cannons and selling them for a huge profit.

8. Large radars - only one. Only one radar of each type will add to the base's overall scanning capabilities. What you see in the base information screen is only a count of the facilities, not the base's detection abilities. So, at the start, the best radar combo you can have is a small and large radar. Once you get the HWD, it will still combine with the other two, but since its scanning radius is greater and it always picks up UFOs, the other two never get used, so end up being redundant.

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#5 Zombie

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 07:01 AM

Welcome! :oh:

1) Yup, basically anything which has a maintenance cost (minus base facilities of course) can be exploited at the end of the month by transferring between bases. This includes all personnel (including soldiers) and craft.

2) By the time you are able to afford the construction of advanced fighters/transporters, isn't the maintenance cost of leased craft a non-issue? Anyway, I usually keep one or two Skyrangers around just in case I need to prolong the life of a Terror Mission that slipped past the detection net. Conventional craft do not use up your precious Elerium stockpile, so having a dedicated Skyranger for missions is a great way to keep everything in check.

3) One of Murphy's Laws on Technology sums this up well:
"Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity, and other variables the aliens will do as they darn well please". :P Let me try to elaborate a bit though. If you build a new base somewhere, and start to detect UFOs flying around, you are going to do something about it, right? Obviously, yes. So you send out your interceptors and shoot down a few UFO's. But now the aliens are aware something is going on in that region and send some more UFO's to investigate. This means more alien activity. So your actions in a region will directly (or indirectly, depending on your view) increase alien activity. That said, the aliens will run missions in regions where you may not have a foothold yet and the selection is probably either psuedo-random or related to funding. Some of these missions produce lots of activity without any involvement on your part.

4) I usually build bases according to funding - Europe with its many sponsor countries fund more than the US so I build there first, followed by the US and Japan and finally somewhere in Africa. That basically covers the hotspots on the globe.

5) Researching may play a role in the switch between seeing the different alien weapon sets, but it isn't the only factor. Time probably plays a role as well since nothing rarely happens in the first few months anyway.

6) True, tanks rob valuable experience from soldiers but they can also help since they rarely panic, can resist psi attacks and can carry a greater load of ammunition than a lone rookie ever could. I rarely sack based on Bravery since it really doesn't play an active role on the battlescape. High psionic stats block panic attacks from the aliens so that is a good filter as blockage prevents the attack from using the bravery stat. As for the morale drop from deaths, bravery plays a role here too but not as much as other stats like shooting accuracy since that allows you to kill more aliens and increase morale.

7) I can't give you an exact timeline as everyone has a different strategy concerning quantity. Most people try to buy as many scientists as possible to complete research projects faster. While this is a good initial strategy, what happens if you need to manufacture something? "Hurray! I have Laser Rifles researched". Too bad that those 10 Engineers can't produce enough of them to equip all your men out in the field, eh? Blowing all your cash on scientists is brut-force economy of scale but there isn't any strategy behind it. The real trick is to manage scientists, engineers and soldiers together while still keeping cash on-hand to satisfy those unforeseen expenses such as new soldiers, tanks or even craft. My only advice would be to experiment a little with the personnel allocation to match your idea of "progress". I'm in no real rush to finish a game, so scientists are the least of my worries. Technology is and I usually lean to a heavier weight in Engineers to satisfy my soldiers.

8) Large Radars? One is enough for me. Once you get the Hyperwave Decoder, the normal radars are useless and I dismantle them. Radar stacking with the Hyperwave is meaningless since the Hyperwave decoder overrides the other less advanced facilities. A Small Radar + Large Radar combo does utilize stacking and better results can be obtained that way so you may want to try that in early base designs.

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#6 Bomb Bloke

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 10:32 AM

4) I usually build one base, stock it with everything I could ever need, then build a second one when I get bored. On rare occasions I might build a third base. This probably isn't the best way to save the planet, it's just the way I play...

5) There's been reports that the aliens won't use the weaker plasma weapons once you've researched them, but there also seems to be other factors at work (probably time). Really there's only two races of aliens that are worth worrying about (and one of them is often the first you'll encounter).

6) Aside from the already mentioned psi skills, the only other one I really look at is reactions: And then only when I've got a group clustered around a door and I'm not sure who's going in first. Bravery would be the last thing on my list when shopping for stats.

I use tanks from the word go. I like to bring a rocket HWP to every mission; usually it ends up getting toasted and for this reason I stock up in advance. The expense never causes me notable difficulties.

Let's face it, they're the best way to spread lots of explosions over a long distance. This is true for nearly the entire game.

7) Personally I start off by expanding my scientific staff to 50, along with 40 engineers (leaving 10 beds for troopers, eight of which I send on each mission).

As soon as I get the facs built I grab another 50 scientists, and then another 50 engineers. Some games I grab an extra lab worth of eggheads as well. I pick 'em up as soon as I can afford the initial hiring fees.

Re monthly costs, I consider the craft fees minimal. I don't use the salary trick either. In fact, for a long time I used to produce alien alloys whenever my engineers had free time (before eventually learning this was costing me money, not making it). Selling excess heavy plasmas seems to make up for a lot.

One thing worth noting is the base maintanence glitch. If you dismantle part of it, you pay good money to keep the dirt in good shape. More money, in fact, then you payed for the original component. Don't take base modules down unless you intend on replacing them on the spot.
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#7 FullAuto

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 08:51 PM

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2) Given the short distances of the manufactured crafts, do any of you keep interceptors & skyrangers until you get Avengers? Or is the monthly rental too much (as long as you can't do #1 above)?

I keep hold of them.  Not all UFOs are worth the cost in Elerium to intercept, so I keep hold of some Interceptors to bring the small/middling UFOs down and then send a Skyranger to the crash site.  By the time I've got my home-made craft, I'm usually doing well with money anyway.

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3) If you leave an area free of bases...does the game deter aliens from going there? I have the nagging suspicion that once you place a base in an area, the game starts more alien activity there. It doesn't make sense that you place 1 base in say America, but you then can't defend other areas since the aliens are hidden to you. Should we take our time in placing bases until you can stock one to defend an area, or does having early placements with little use but radar really help? Do the aliens attack other areas of the globe after a certain period of time? Because if not, then how do they expect you to defend the globe in the first few months?

4) Related to #3, how fast do you guys try to set new bases up?

I put out listening stations (just a base with a radar) quite quickly (one a month, starting on the first month if I have enough change), as the aliens will definitely pick on areas where you aren't.  They're cheap, and you can always expand them later if you want to.  It's difficult to defend the opposite side of the world, especially when the aliens are determined to set up a base, but it's impossible if you can't see what's going on.

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6) I usually buy & sack soldiers until I get 12 decent 40+ bravery troops in the beginning of the game (I don't usually lose soldiers because I reload alot admittedly)...because I feel the faster I get 12 troops experienced, the better the game will be. I can then send 4 vet troops in the midgame to another area to help out once
I finally decide to get a tank. Is this a bad strat? I feel like using tanks early make 4 soldiers lose out on potential experience.

If it works for you, it's not bad.  I don't use tanks, I think soldiers are much more versatile, and they're a lot cheaper, but tanks do have their uses.  Even crappy soldiers can be of use as cannon fodder, and if they survive you gain an experienced soldier.

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7) Can someone give me a decent timeline on how many scientists and enginers you
should have in the opening months? I find the salaries to be a bit over the top, but the game designers couldn't intend for us to use the salary tranfer trick...how did they esxpect us to research in any decent amount of time with the costs of scientists?

Lately, I haven't been hurrying research.  I usually hire ten scientists per month, to start with.  Engineers aren't that much use early on as there isn't that much stuff worth building unless you use them to churn out products for sale.

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#8 lokiju

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 02:01 AM

Wow, thanks for all the wonderful replies. Sorry my initial post was so long. :P

It appears I'm stressing too much over perfecting  my game. I just didn't want to be accidentally sabotaging my chances for success given the amount of bugs plus the choices available to us.

On a side note, I had a psi-sectoid terror mission in the middle of month #2...and with some ample reloading I was able to come out unscathed. Thank you smoke grenades!  :oh:  I finally found out that there seems to be an issue where it won't let you use more than a certain amount of smoke on the map (yes I used that many nades haha).

#9 Sylph

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 06:38 PM

Does anyone care to ellaborate on what Ironman mode is?

I've been playing the game for a while with the 'no reloading savegames at all' rules, but I'm not sure whether this is ironman, or whether ironman involves trying to finish the game without buying any new soldiers...

#10 NKF

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 07:21 PM

There are many interpretations on what an ironman game should be, but the main concept is not to use save/reload to recover from any mistake or to get an advantage against the aliens. So if you lose any soldiers or your aircraft, you live with it and keep playing.

Otherwise you can save the game as often as you like.  

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#11 Bomb Bloke

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 12:32 AM

Finish the game without buying new soldiers?! I'd like to see someone pull that off without reloading!  :oh:
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#12 Sylph

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 11:24 AM

Well, I was thinking it'd be more of a 'see how far you can get' than a 'try to finish the game' type challenge.




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