Author Topic: "Early Cydonia" challenge  (Read 1272 times)

Offline krakp

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"Early Cydonia" challenge
« on: January 30, 2024, 07:37:27 pm »
Hello XCOM crowd!

I assume that the challenge I want to try has already been tried many times by many folks here - however somehow I was not able to find any references on this forum, neither on the net.

So the challenge is:

"Complete the game as early as possible". On Superhuman Ironman, without cheating. By "the game" I mean the original XCOM or rather the OpenXCom with vanilla settings.

First of all, how early is even possible? Any experience? Best scores? I heard some folks mentioning April'99 on the internet but is it really feasible?

Also - what would be the strategy? Methinks that I would start with:

1. Let (almost) every Ufo land to get the most (money!) of the battlescape missions
  a) Heavy usage of activity graphs (or even better https://openxcom.org/forum/index.php/topic,11659.0.html) to catch every UFO possible
  b) Get another Skyranger instead of Interceptor so that you can serve more landing sites (or should you even have 3 Skyrangers and no Interceptor?)
  c) Put Stingrays on the Interceptor to hopefully crash lands the Very Small saucers

2. Get Sectoids on the first mission so that you also get them on the first Terror (that's a rule, right?)
  a) stun the Sectoid Leader on the first terror to unlock Psi asap
  b) so that you can at least Psi test the folks you send to Cydonia (anybody managed Cydonia without any Psi training?)

3. Invest all the money you can in research (but what would be the order?)

4. Somehow make sure that when the moment comes, you can also quickly build the Avenger (so you need Engineers and Workshop space)

5. Would one base make more sense or building new ones as soon as you have the available budget?

6. Anything else to pay attention to? :-)

Thanks everyone for chiming in!
 

Offline krakp

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Re: "Early Cydonia" challenge
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2024, 08:35:20 pm »
OK I found a few speedruns on the net (like this one https://www.speedrun.com/xcom_ufo_defense_ufo_enemy_unknown/runs/zpgdlxvz - completing the game in < 7 min - WTF??? :-)  - but none of them tries to complete early (looking at the gametime). They are optimizing their "screentime" - and they tend to finish in May/June'99 .

This guy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wo71zOr5aU) managed to complete Cydonia with only Laser Rifles (no Blaster/Plasma/Psi), but he confirms in the comments that it took a lot of "reloading". That's clearly not Ironman. On Ironman you would need to balance the risk of going early (poor weaponry/armor/no psi) with the risk of losing in Cydonia....

Anyone tried to finish in March yet? :-)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2024, 08:41:45 pm by krakp »

Offline krakp

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Re: "Early Cydonia" challenge
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2024, 10:33:50 am »
An old similar thread on StrategyCore https://www.strategycore.co.uk/forums/topic/3435-shortest-game-time/.

So it is apparently possible to finish in March. But this guy did it on Beginner (and not clear if in Ironman mode).

Since the research time does not depend on difficulty, it should be possible to be done with your research earlier in Superhuman (cause the UFOs carry more aliens -> more loot -> more cash -> faster research).

Still - not sure if skipping some tech research is a valid strategy - anyone has experience with Superhuman Ironman Cydonia with only "earth" tech? One thing is flying to Cydonia early (I guess March could be possible with the right approach to economics), another thing is winning it... :-)
« Last Edit: January 31, 2024, 12:49:18 pm by krakp »

Offline krakp

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Re: "Early Cydonia" challenge
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2024, 08:46:44 pm »
Some early considerations:

1. If you want Cydonia still in March, it is totally not possible to have Psi. Building a Psi Lab takes 24 days + 1 month to get the first soldiers trained. So to have someone ready in March, you would need to train them the whole February and thus start building the Psi Lab on the 6th of January. But you can't even have an Alien Containment so early.... So the earliest you can ever have a PSI capable soldier is on the 1st of April.

2. I was considering above, whether getting rid of one of the interceptors is a good idea (to save money or get another Skyranger instead). After some tests/considerations, I think it is absolutely crucial to have 2 Interceptors in January. Immediately after dealing with the Small Scout that arrives on day #1 (you want to have Stingrays so that you can shoot it down without destroying it), I would equip them both with Avalanches and plan to shoot down the 2 Terror Ships that arrive later in the month (the only way to shoot them down is by 2 Interceptors shooting enough Avalanches at them). This is especially important for the first of the Terror Ships, cause it is not due to land - so shooting it down is the only option to get the goodies from inside it :-) (they are worth ~ $3M - and this money can really help speed up the research).
So I keep the 1 Skyranger and 2 Interceptors.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2024, 10:34:25 pm by krakp »

Offline krakp

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Re: "Early Cydonia" challenge
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2024, 11:00:49 pm »
Sooo.... My business plan is ready. And (no kidding) it was created with the help of an Excel sheet :-)

It seems that from the financial perspective it is a good idea to gather money in January and then hire plenty of scientists on the 1st of Feb. (hiring them still in Jan means that you still would need to pay their salaries which is not really the best deal :-)). Optimizing my Jan earnings (UFOs), spendings and investments, I estimate that I should be able to get around 230 scientists on the 1st of Feb. This could allow me to research Avenger until the 25th of Feb.
Then I would research the Cydonia or Bust, while building the Avenger - for maybe up to 10 days. Maybe I would get lucky and research some more stuff still during this time (Heavy Plasma? Blaster Launcher? Armour?)

But wait a sec... I still need to catch a Commander... Need to hope that my random mission in Feb would be a Harvest, Infiltration or Base to catch one. Or that I would trigger a Retaliation - however not so keen on fighting for my only base :-).

So if I don't get slaughtered by aliens while following my shiny business plan (and still fighting them with the simplest weapons ;-) I could be able to fly to Cydonia around the 5th maybe 10th of March....

OK - enough planning - let me get down to playing. Will report my progress or regress ;-P.

Offline krakp

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Re: "Early Cydonia" challenge
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2024, 12:47:14 am »
The challenge is ON!

The very first task is to down the Small Scout arriving on day #1 (it is $500k worth with the Mind Probe inside). This is however quite challenging. I tried it many times already (it is the first event of the game, so you don't lose much restarting the game totally), but still did not manage.

Some learnings for downing the Very Small UFO (Small Scout) - for an earlier discussion see here: https://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php/Talk:Small_Scout

1. The Small Scout is quite "shy" and since you will want to down it with a short range Stingray (an Avalanche will just evaporate it), you will rarely even get to shoot at it, before it disengages ("Ufo Outrunning Interceptor"). My tests show that you get a successful shot not more than 1 in 4 dogfights. Getting 2 shots (should the first one miss) is even less probable (probably less than 1 in 5).

2. After you actually get to shoot and the shot reaches the target before it disengages, you can still miss (30%) or destroy it straight away (40%). Only 30% of crashing chances. Combining this with #1, you get like a 1 in 12 chance of downing it in a dogfight....

3. You don't want to shoot it over water, cause then there is no recovery. However, avoid the temptation of catching it over water, minimizing the dogfight and reengaging over land. I think the "Ufo disengagement" counter does not reset on re-engage, and since it will take you a second or 2 to minimize the dogfight window over water, you make your chances of landing a shot even lower. I actually never managed this after reengaging - maybe I am a slow clicker :-). You seem to have much better chances if you overtake the UFO and patrol over land until it arrives, so that you can directly engage it.

4. Immediately after engaging go to the Aggressive Attack mode - this might slightly increase your chances of landing a second shot, should the first one miss.

I will report when this succeeds :-)

Offline krakp

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Re: "Early Cydonia" challenge
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2024, 09:51:05 am »
January the 1st 1999.

The challenge is ON! Exactly at 14:00 I received a report (https://openxcom.org/forum/index.php/topic,11659.0.html) of the first UFO, YAY! It was first reported over South America, so I sent out a welcome committee (my 2 Interceptors with the standard Stingrays + Cannons) to the south of Europe. One would patrol over Portugal, the other one over Italy (the very first UFO is guaranteed, I think, to arrive at the region of your base  // mine is in Łódź // , so it does not makes sense to chase it - you have better chances when you simply patrol).

Half an hour later (14:30) a second report - this time over Pacific. Since I did not quite know which direction this one would be flying into I decided to stay put and observe.

2 reports later (15:30) I had some clarity - the first UFO was already over North Africa (heading to Europe where my Interceptors were patrolling), the second one arrived over Japan - so it was heading West (from Pacific) probably somewhere into Asia. I decided to send my Skyranger in its direction (of course I first packed all the equipment and "reorganized" my rookies, so that the ones with the highest reactions can step out first from Skyranger).

At 16:30 I detected the first saucer over Spain - shortly after it slowed down a bit and I caught up with it over Madrid. However, it was extremely shy - it disengaged almost immediately after the dogfight had started and left at full speed towards the Atlantic Ocean. I kept my patrolling position over Spain (I definitely did not want to shoot it down over water) and hoped that it would come back at some moment.

And indeed - an hour and a half later (18:00) it was again over Europe (France to be exact). I caught it over Bordeaux and this time managed to send 2 Stingrays in its direction - the first one missed, the second one successfully downed it - "Ufo crash lands". YAY, Yay, yay.

In the meantime the other UFO was getting spotted over various parts of East Asia (China, Russia, Siberia). My Skyranger was already on the way, but I decided to send the 2 Interceptors in the same direction so that I get better detection coverage. And indeed around 20:00 one of my Interceptors detected the landed UFO in far-east Russia. Google Maps confirmed that the place is called Aeroport: https://maps.app.goo.gl/XHT59V25gshStFo69. I guess the Aliens must also have access to these maps - they chose their landing location very well. :-D

The additional bonus for me is that soon it will be day in here - so no need for a night mission (which without flares is usually quite a nightmare). I actually consider this very first mission, one of the most challenging in the whole game. You only have the 8 Rookies (against up to 9 Aliens), the default equipment, few smoke grenades, few rockets and most of all, nothing to make light (no flares, no incendiary ammo). If you are very lucky you might be able to put something on fire with the HE ammo of Heavy Cannon, I guess. However, you can't really depend on this. Therefore if the first very mission should be at night - it is quite a bummer :-).

In my case the UFO landed so much in the east that it will be full day before I arrive with Skyranger. On the other hand it will be still the 1st of January (the ETA says around 23:00), so I should still be able to sell the loot and use the cash for some investments before the end of the day. Since we want to go to Cydonia as early as possible, every day matters, especially at the very beginning.

So to sum up - the very small UFO is crashed over Bordeaux (I will recover it on the 2nd of Jan - there is around $500k of loot inside it) and the Medium Scout is landed in the Aeroport / fear-east Russia with the Skyranger will be arriving there any minute. Saving the game - I will come back in the next days with the report on my very first mission.

Cheers! :-)



Offline krakp

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Re: "Early Cydonia" challenge
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2024, 10:00:36 am »
Adding a pic: