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Author Topic: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?  (Read 12844 times)

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #30 on: April 18, 2022, 11:22:46 am »
I don't think it's a bug with the beginner difficulty, since all difficulties work the same.

Could be some installation issue though.

Offline Fomka

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2022, 01:34:45 am »
I've decided to postpone my feedback on cults in 2.3+ at the time when I would have met them. Sorry for engaging in discussion without trying the gameplay for myself (I've cleared the cults before they received the boost). Maybe the experience will be good, at a later time. The first encounter with hunter-killer UFOs was fun.

Offline tarkalak

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #32 on: May 12, 2022, 01:25:22 pm »
...
3) You have a very firm opinion about how these things work in real life. I am not saying that you're wrong, but I do not share this certainty; even without delving into conspiracy theories (which this mod is all about), things like this can and do happen. Yes, it requires some involvement of high echelons in government and military circles, which is kind of the point. And it is definitely within the logic of this genre.
...

Now this is curious. Can you give an example?

In the 90s the eastern european countries had a lot of mafia infighting. I.e. the sort of thing you would see on the Italian "La Piovra" series or "The Godfather". At some point in Bulgaria there was a a road ambush where one mafia group tried to kill another mafia's convoy with RPGs and machine guns. A solid part of those mafia groups were (and the survivors still are) ex special forces or military.

Offline zee_ra

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #33 on: July 26, 2022, 02:45:53 am »
I don't have a problem with these features Solarius. They sound fun how you describe them.

In my game, and it was my first time playing Xcom Files, I could have easily destroyed these cult bases if I could have found them. Maybe I didn't have the required research, I don't know.

I had gotten to a decent level of research in my opinion, maybe not for the time I was at, but I was playing at beginner level. I was taken out by something I could not fight against. I had no way of finding these bases and no way of completing any more missions. Now I have to start again. It does feel a little disheartening. If I knew where the bases were but didn't have the skill or men to beat them at least it would have felt like I deserved to lose.

How do I prevent this in the future? Up until this point I had successfully completed most missions that had shown up. I had tried to take leaders alive and research them, but maybe I could have done a better job with this.

At what point do I need to be at to stop this from happening in the future?

Perhaps I did not have the right language set, but these craft only looked like UFO's to me. If they are only cars and helicopters could they move slower and be weaker on beginner difficulty? I had humvees with cannons on them and I could not take down a single craft. One time they ran away but the other two craft that were chasing me destroyed my humvee. My dragonflies could not even outrun them. I would assume a plane is faster than a helicopter or car. 

I had an enemy base right next to mine,  I know this because whenever a craft would launch it would get chased straight away. It is kind of funny to think about. I must have been doing terribly in the game.

But I do really appreciate your work Solarius, great mod and great work. My inability to beat it should not take away from that.

Anyway, I have attached my save file.

Edit: Keep in mind that I could not do any missions for the last two months of the game. So that may be the reason for any low ratings with countries.
Edit 2: Just found out by looking at my own save file that I had 14 cult manors on my map.

Thank you for sharing your experience.  Please allow me to share some insight.

I never had a problem with the first two game years in this game, on the superhuman level.  The progression seemed very natural.  My first playthrough, that went into about first 1.5 game years, had not been unsuccessful, but was unsatisfactory, due to what appeared a low pace of development.  However, even in that playthrough, I managed to take down cult mansions without access to OSPREY and BlackOps equipment.  I used trophy equipment, with explosives (a skillful use of even a dynamite would suffice) playing a very important role in such assaults.  The use of crawler was important for delivering enough troops to the mansion.  Please note that early mansion vehicles could also be taken out by a couple of humvees with RPGs.  However, with the hiring of a military advisor, you should have an option to use gun helicopters for these purposes, armed with 4 hwy machineguns.  For dealing with mansions guarded by attack helicopters (they look like Mi-24 Hind on the picture), it becomes necessary to use multiple gun helicopters of your own.  One way or another, the problem of early mansions, where no enemy fighter jets are involved, is solvable with really early tech.  I have found a playthrough that relied on this early tech to be very unsatisfactory, though.  One of the reasons for that being that by the time a mission to rescue a doctor from MiB assault had appeared, my tactical equipment had not been adequate (i.e. no full miniguns, mortars, and strong sniper rifles were available for purchase).

In my subsequent playthrough, I spearheaded the development towards the OSPREY.  This allowed me to storm the early cult mansions without any aerial fighter unit (whether helicopter or fighter jets) support: the OSPREY craft has sufficient speed to outrun helicopter units that defend the mansion.  I also spearheded the research into early armor (armored vest, incl. tritanium version) and BlackOps equipment access.  By the time of a first assault, I had armor vests (green ones), BO miniguns, and BO sniper rifles, along with trophy grenade launchers.  While the early assaults on the mansions don't really require such equipment, it is much more relevant for the cult base assaults.  Also, the presence of minigun on the mansion assault makes the assault much more streamlined.

I made all my tactical combats casualty-free.  I achieved this by using skillfully using smoke, dogs, snipers, grenades, and also occasionally rolling back into auto-saved positions (set to every two turns).  The basic tactics of skillfully using smoke, snipers and spotter units (early in-game, dogs are an ideal fit for this role) remains viable for a significant fraction of the game, until at least a very advanced armor becomes available.  With an occasional use of auto-saves, such approach allows for a rather easy casualty-free playthrough.

A first cult base could be taken out with OSPREY.  After capturing a main cult artifact, and researching it, it becomes possible to gain access to much heavier equipment.  In particular, mortars and rocket launchers.  By that point, storming cult mansions and bases becomes relatively routine.  Taking 4 mortars on a mansion mission, and skillfully applying that tool, leaves virtually no chance to the enemy.  In general, a skillful use of mortars and rocket launchers enables a successful completion of even a medium alien craft assault missions (e.g. harvester).  In fact, a skillful use of these weapons allows a very systematic and lethal approach to dealing even with the armored alien units.  I was able to take on a landed terror craft, with no casualties, by arranging for a proper rocket assault in the first turn, and a mortar salvo in the second.

Please note that an interrogation of EXALT top-ranking members may enable an access to a trophy fighter.  However, in practice it's of relatively little use, even though it could relatively easily take on the early helicopters, and -- with a good pilot -- even fighter jets.  A more important trophy craft is available through the Kiryu-Kai research branch, and I highly recommend to pursue this route, since it is capable of allowing a very quick global response to incidents, and could confront successfully enemy fighter jets.  In general, by the time the enemy fighter jets come into a play, and could not be outrun or outmaneuvered, the X-Com should have access to RAVEN.  A group of three RAVEN fighters, staffed with good pilots, could take down a terror ship.  Only battleships and special anti-fighter ships remain out of reach for this early, and relatively under-powered craft.

By the time a second or third cult base is being takedown, it is in general possible to gain access to, and to start fielding, both heavy tac suit, and its tritanium version.  The latter makes a huge difference in fights against both aliens, and also MiB.

The bottom line is this.  There is hardly any reason why there exists a difficulty in this game, in the early game segment (of two years), even on superhuman skill level.  I think the greater difficulty is with the necessity to capture enough ranking live aliens with relatively moderate capture equipment early enough, to gain access to alien power and electronics tech, that enables a more advanced weaponry (even gauss and laser).  The relatively long game segment, whence only RAVENs (still vulnerable to hunter support crafts, battleships, and well-setup small counter-fighter arrangements), tritanium heavy tac suits, and where OSPREY craft quickly becomes irrelevant, is the main source of strategical challenge.  In principle, the only reason to develop tritanium munitions is to keep combat efficiency reasonable in this critical segment, in the face of gradually more challenging enemies.  The tritanium munitions allow the BO equipment (mostly, its minigun and sniper rifles) to remain viable, even against tougher enemies.  Another source of challenge is the early limitation on the availability of AI units, and also on the size of the crew for underwater missions.

Offline Juku121

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #34 on: July 26, 2022, 10:45:00 am »
Interesting. But I'm not sure whether several of these suggestions really work out:
  • Using the Mudcrawler on random mansions in the ass end of nowhere means you must build a temporary base with hangars, living quarters and perhaps stores. That's about 1.15-1.75 million dollars, more than you'd usually gain from a single assault on even the highest-tier mansion.
  • Smoke means your troops are firing at a penalty. So are theirs, but theirs can outnumber you by quite a margin (Red Dawn, EXALT and BL depending on their team composition and where they actually move during the mission). And smoke tends to work against you more than against the enemy due to the "You hit me, I spot you, anywhere!" mechanic.

    Sniper rifles in the hands of high-accuracy troops mitigate the penalty quite a bit, but sniper rifles used that way are good for one shot per turn, at best.
  • Smoke also sucks against aliens since they mostly have heatvision and you usually don't. So they tend to spot you first. Kinda mirrors their night vision advantage. And aliens are almost uniformly all snipers.
  • In brief, hoping that smoke will hide you from the enemy is folly, unless you never attack anyone (and in that case, you're not a 'sniper'). Hoping it'll provide cover is a gamble. Only against non-sniper enemies or combined with actual hard cover does it of work. Mostly.
  • I am extremely doubtful of the general early applicability of mortars and rocket launchers against terror ships. The map is usually crawling with baddies, there are alien laser turrets that can take a rocket round or three and stay in the game. I can see it happening with a favourable starting position, map layout and/or a weaker enemy race (floaters&reapers :) ). But in general, the margin of error is just too damn small without strong armour and armor-piercing weapons.
  • I do agree that mansion maps are uniquely suited to mortars due to the open-air nature of your starting position, and the general openness of the map.
  • As mentioned before, grenades with their ridiculous range and accuracy make the game so much easier it's almost cheating.
  • The 'occasionally rolling back into auto-saved positions' bit is probably the biggest contributor towards no casualties at all.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2022, 10:52:46 am by Juku121 »

Offline Moth_Of_Decay

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #35 on: July 27, 2022, 02:22:34 pm »
Few things are as satisfying as hearing a dozen cultists scream in agony because you landed a mortar shell just outside the front door.

I ended up with like 15 manors spawning including some very close to my bases, but honestly I loved the experience because it genuinely made the existence of the cults a threat to XCOM. Annoying? Yes. Which I think is EXACTLY what should happen if you ignore them for too long. When I was finally able to launch a counter-attack with interceptors I was thrilled, as it was such a clutch situation fighting my way out of a -700 point deficit for two months in a row. It was exciting and frustrating in the same way that chyssalids and the like are.

Offline the nomad

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #36 on: August 10, 2022, 04:33:57 am »
Few things are as satisfying as hearing a dozen cultists scream in agony because you landed a mortar shell just outside the front door.

I ended up with like 15 manors spawning including some very close to my bases, but honestly I loved the experience because it genuinely made the existence of the cults a threat to XCOM. Annoying? Yes. Which I think is EXACTLY what should happen if you ignore them for too long. When I was finally able to launch a counter-attack with interceptors I was thrilled, as it was such a clutch situation fighting my way out of a -700 point deficit for two months in a row. It was exciting and frustrating in the same way that chyssalids and the like are.

I think they are badly designed to be honest. Yes the idea is great, but the quickness of their evolution is unbalanced. They seem to spawn what around the end of 1997? So by the time they first appear they are already tough, with your tech in mind, so you can't be expected to be able to destroy all of them as soon as they spawn. At that date I generally don't own an Osprey for example (though I am close), because thanks to bad RNG I generally did not capture one of the high ranking cult members yet. And they are very tough with 8 agents.

Soon enough you begin to destroy them, but due to their sheer amounts some are bound to develop. In example in my campaign by August 1998 I already terminated Red Dawn and Exalt, which is the best I can do. What did I face in a Lotus Manor the same month? Panic-inducing hosts, assassins all around the place, incendiary tossing Footmen, and 3 reinforcement in 5 turns, and I did not even do 10 turns yet. Armored, camouflaged soldiers with armor piercing rounds firing at me the same turn they appear, flanking my agents from three different positions, that is if they are not right next to me already. The total was 90+ enemies.

They are even tougher than HQs themselves by that point. And compare them to any other mission at that date, they are significantly tougher, including the HQs as I said, which again means badly balanced. Obviously they are doable as I completed them, but needlessly over the top. And one base roster is injured like a month per assaulted manor. They are already launching jets faster than my transports so I can't ignore them especially if they are built right near my base. It is not even the Fall of 1998 may I remind you.

And they don't get destroyed when I terminate a cult. That is very annoying. If they were easier when they first spawn, or they are not as OP as this by the 1998 summer, or they are destroyed when you terminate the related cult, then it would be a good design. I don't wanna get punished when I already did the best I could. After all the point seems to be punishing the lazy and/or milking player, but I am neither.

Offline Juku121

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #37 on: August 10, 2022, 07:51:55 am »
Spoiler"Manor mechanics":
Cult manors spawn in three 'waves': Oct 1997 - Feb 1998, Mar '98 - Jul '98, Aug '98 - whenever you destroy them. Each 'wave' only spawns the corresponding tier of manors. It takes a manor quite long to actually upgrade: 30% chance per month starting from the fifth month of being active, 100% chance on the 10th month. And that then repeats if the manor was originally low-tier. So the spawns usually outnumber upgrades for new tiers.

Once they hit 6 months on the highest tier, there's a small chance of progressing beyond manors: Hybrids, Golden Academy, Dagon High Temple (apparently you can have several of those at the same time?).
So I think the data supports you in that the manors spawn too fast and too tough. Despite the manors supposedly only being punishment towards the end of 1998, if you haven't killed off the cults by August 1998, you're in for some hurt.

The teleporting reinforcements are a pain. If they got delayed to severals turns in like the farmer MiBs, maybe. I could go with that speed of reinforcement for the HQs, but since you have to play ball with manors a lot, that's a bit over the top, too.

All in all, manors are kinda like the Ninjas of cult mission progression.

Offline itchie

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #38 on: August 10, 2022, 04:28:07 pm »

So I think the data supports you in that the manors spawn too fast and too tough. Despite the manors supposedly only being punishment towards the end of 1998, if you haven't killed off the cults by August 1998, you're in for some hurt.

The teleporting reinforcements are a pain. If they got delayed to severals turns in like the farmer MiBs, maybe. I could go with that speed of reinforcement for the HQs, but since you have to play ball with manors a lot, that's a bit over the top, too.

All in all, manors are kinda like the Ninjas of cult mission progression.

I agree, i love the game and been playing it for years but these manors are currently killing me, I have around 20 according to my save game and 6 of them just in europe including one next to my main base and one manor and embassy in the same spot. Basicly the whole of europe is covered except spain and i dont have the planes / vehicles yet to assault them. I can only get close by either building a base next to it or using a public van but with 4 guys its a suicide mission because of the rapid waves of reinformcents.

Atleast maximizing the amount of reinforcements would give me a little bit of a chance against them ;)

Offline Juku121

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #39 on: August 10, 2022, 05:39:24 pm »
...these manors are currently killing me, I have around 20 according to my save game and 6 of them just in europe...
:o ...you're fucked.

...including one next to my main base and one manor and embassy in the same spot.
I just had the same situation and I think it's probably Solarius ignoring the warning and 'weird shit' happening as a result.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 05:41:00 pm by Juku121 »

Offline the nomad

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #40 on: August 10, 2022, 09:21:47 pm »
Spoiler"Manor mechanics":
Cult manors spawn in three 'waves': Oct 1997 - Feb 1998, Mar '98 - Jul '98, Aug '98 - whenever you destroy them. Each 'wave' only spawns the corresponding tier of manors. It takes a manor quite long to actually upgrade: 30% chance per month starting from the fifth month of being active, 100% chance on the 10th month. And that then repeats if the manor was originally low-tier. So the spawns usually outnumber upgrades for new tiers.

Once they hit 6 months on the highest tier, there's a small chance of progressing beyond manors: Hybrids, Golden Academy, Dagon High Temple (apparently you can have several of those at the same time?).
So I think the data supports you in that the manors spawn too fast and too tough. Despite the manors supposedly only being punishment towards the end of 1998, if you haven't killed off the cults by August 1998, you're in for some hurt.

The teleporting reinforcements are a pain. If they got delayed to severals turns in like the farmer MiBs, maybe. I could go with that speed of reinforcement for the HQs, but since you have to play ball with manors a lot, that's a bit over the top, too.

All in all, manors are kinda like the Ninjas of cult mission progression.

Yeah, I don't know how realistic it is to eliminate all of the cults by August. It is not impossible but I tend to hesitate attacking Lotus forward bases and Dagon HQ for example, unless I am sure I have an ace team with 16 good agents, and thus wait for better tech etc. My understanding was I had to terminate the cults before the invasion date, so this kind of punishment should occur around Dec 98 in my logic. Or perhaps I am not that good of a player, and I am actually expected to destroy all of the cults by the summer. But doing so would just kill many of my great agents and leave me with more sucky dudes against the coming aliens.

I agree that toning down reinforcements would make them more managable, or perhaps they can spawn with 0 time units. I think best option would be manors getting destroyed when you terminate the cults, but maybe that can't be coded or something I have no idea. That way they would still be a pain in the ass and urge you to destroy the cults asap, and it would also make more sense lore wise imo. I already exposed Red Dawn, what are they doing around Russia and why are they not locked up?

I can't imagine their maximum developed state.

Offline Juku121

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #41 on: August 10, 2022, 09:55:01 pm »
Yeah, I agree that this stealth moving of goalposts is a bit underhanded. On the other hand, do you really want the invasion and the cultist ramp-up to coincide? I don't know, the cults don't really seem to get their marching orders from the aliens. Well, not the regular aliens, anyway.

Reinforcements hitting you hard from the word go I actually even like. But not if there are 20 mansions already swarming with regular cultists where it happens. And if you don't play ball, good-bye non-chartered transports. At least the MiB are avoidable.

Solarius wants the cultists to stick around and I like the idea in general. It's sort of interesting that you still have to wipe out the remnants and can't just do a decapitation blow. I imagine the reasoning goes that they more or less retired from Red Dawn or whatever and became local warlords or something. This is actually kinda believable for Russia (and especially 90s Russia), possibly also China, definitely Africa, large chunks of Asia and South America. It's the US EXALT, Japanese BL and European RD/Dagonites where this line of reasoning fails.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 09:57:44 pm by Juku121 »

Offline the nomad

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #42 on: August 10, 2022, 10:39:02 pm »
Yeah, I agree that this stealth moving of goalposts is a bit underhanded. On the other hand, do you really want the invasion and the cultist ramp-up to coincide? I don't know, the cults don't really seem to get their marching orders from the aliens. Well, not the regular aliens, anyway.

Reinforcements hitting you hard from the word go I actually even like. But not if there are 20 mansions already swarming with regular cultists where it happens. And if you don't play ball, good-bye non-chartered transports. At least the MiB are avoidable.

Solarius wants the cultists to stick around and I like the idea in general. It's sort of interesting that you still have to wipe out the remnants and can't just do a decapitation blow. I imagine the reasoning goes that they more or less retired from Red Dawn or whatever and became local warlords or something. This is actually kinda believable for Russia (and especially 90s Russia), possibly also China, definitely Africa, large chunks of Asia and South America. It's the US EXALT, Japanese BL and European RD/Dagonites where this line of reasoning fails.

No I wouln't want the invasion and ramp-up to coincide, that's why I think it shall be that way to punish the player. Because terminating the cults before 1999 is perfectly doable, and if you fail at that then the problems would start. August I feel is a bit too soon.

On the other hand if Scorch wants the cultists to stick around that is something else entirely. Maybe they are supposed to go OP and team-up and annihilate you hand-in-hand with the aliens. It would certainly add an interesting challenge. With some better alien tech gear even the most developed manors would be easy to wipeout anyway. With some interesting cat and mouse games in the geoscape I can do that even during alien invasion, though of course it would be difficult as hell. That's what campaign is going towards anyway lol.

Yeah maybe believable for some countries, I agree now that I think about it. Especially South America makes sense.

Offline Juku121

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #43 on: August 10, 2022, 10:49:36 pm »
The problem with mansions is that tier upgrades are more or less coordinated to happen at the same time. I think even August would be fine if mansions weren't both upgrading to and spawning as exclusively tier 3. There's some delay for the newest of existing mansions, but that's not a lot of consolation.

As far as I understand, Solarius wants the remnants to stick around as mostly an immersion thing. The cults themselves are dead at that point, and their place is taken over by the bigger conspiracies.

Offline zee_ra

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Re: Xcom Files: Why so many UFOs?
« Reply #44 on: August 24, 2022, 06:46:45 am »
Interesting. But I'm not sure whether several of these suggestions really work out:
  • Using the Mudcrawler on random mansions in the ass end of nowhere means you must build a temporary base with hangars, living quarters and perhaps stores. That's about 1.15-1.75 million dollars, more than you'd usually gain from a single assault on even the highest-tier mansion.
  • Smoke means your troops are firing at a penalty. So are theirs, but theirs can outnumber you by quite a margin (Red Dawn, EXALT and BL depending on their team composition and where they actually move during the mission). And smoke tends to work against you more than against the enemy due to the "You hit me, I spot you, anywhere!" mechanic.

    Sniper rifles in the hands of high-accuracy troops mitigate the penalty quite a bit, but sniper rifles used that way are good for one shot per turn, at best.
  • Smoke also sucks against aliens since they mostly have heatvision and you usually don't. So they tend to spot you first. Kinda mirrors their night vision advantage. And aliens are almost uniformly all snipers.
  • In brief, hoping that smoke will hide you from the enemy is folly, unless you never attack anyone (and in that case, you're not a 'sniper'). Hoping it'll provide cover is a gamble. Only against non-sniper enemies or combined with actual hard cover does it of work. Mostly.
  • I am extremely doubtful of the general early applicability of mortars and rocket launchers against terror ships. The map is usually crawling with baddies, there are alien laser turrets that can take a rocket round or three and stay in the game. I can see it happening with a favourable starting position, map layout and/or a weaker enemy race (floaters&reapers :) ). But in general, the margin of error is just too damn small without strong armour and armor-piercing weapons.
  • I do agree that mansion maps are uniquely suited to mortars due to the  open-air nature of your starting position, and the general openness of the map.
  • As mentioned before, grenades with their ridiculous range and accuracy make the game so much easier it's almost cheating.
  • The 'occasionally rolling back into auto-saved positions' bit is probably the biggest contributor towards no casualties at all.

The mansions could be stormed with OSPREYs.  I never found a need to use a mudcrawler.  The only instance had been when it was forced upon in Dimension X.  By that time, the soldiers wore Juggernaut armor, and didn't even need rockets.  Guess why?  (Answer: the psi ams + turbolasers were more than sufficient).

The Galil + Desert Eagle is a nice combo for any smokescreen tactics.  The limited use of grenades is possible in such scenarios, but I assure you that one sniper shot per turn tactics, with movement behind the smoke screen cover is a very workable one.

When you storm a larger cult installation at lower tech, you need three things: (1) OSPREY to carry 16 troops, (2) armored vest, better if tritanium, (3) explosives, with at last 2 dynamites primed per soldier at a minimum.  The explosives are absolutely essential for storming the mansions at lower tech, especially before the acquisition of miniguns, mortars, and rocket launchers.