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Author Topic: Re: The X-Com Files - 3.2: The Colors of Sin  (Read 1986852 times)

Online psavola

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.0: Beyond Human
« Reply #5700 on: October 20, 2023, 09:00:37 pm »
For example, I only build one base until after all cults are finished. then only one more in the future.
Some people like to create 4 or 5 bases. I think it's all about what we like and what has been successful for us in our previous missions, game plays.

This sounds like a very odd, even unworkable strategy for XCF. If you have just one base, you're limited to about 40 scientists until the beginning of 1999 or so (= improved lab). This leaves you very far back in the research curve (and all the time more and more so) and I can't see how you could research even the most basic stuff to progress the game and/or survive. In my current campaign, in November 1998, I already have something like 140, though I suppose somewhat fewer amount would also be workable.

Offline Juku121

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.0: Beyond Human
« Reply #5701 on: October 20, 2023, 10:55:03 pm »
...the universal cover is the vessel itself.  This makes only two ships a viable assault transport: the alloy skyranger, and the dropship (to a lesser extent). 
I never tire of shilling for the Lightning, which is essentially a giant turret that flies around the globe. :D

shrapnel rockets
Shrapnel has been basically a cheat for, well, ever.

If you have just one base, you're limited to about 40 scientists until the beginning of 1999 or so (= improved lab).
Well, you could be really picky about your research. But, yeah, that'd be pushing it.

Last I played, I had about 80 by 1999. Granted, I was taking things slow, researching quite a few random topics and investing a massive amount of money into a standardised armoury with almost all weapon types and a giant pile of ammo and explosives. :-[

I was always bleeding money from salaries, too. The halved Council funding (+ score bounties), probably.

Offline zee_ra

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.0: Beyond Human
« Reply #5702 on: October 21, 2023, 04:38:43 am »
I never tire of shilling for the Lightning, which is essentially a giant turret that flies around the globe. :D


I never used Lightning craft in a playthrough.  I have referenced this
video to check it out.  I see that it is hardly different from Kitsune, tactically speaking.  How do you use it on difficult missions?

Offline Juku121

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5703 on: October 21, 2023, 05:56:10 am »
This is the OG Lightning, which is indeed not particularly better than the Kitsune or similar. I think XCF uses some version of the "Tactical Lightning", which looks like this.

Online psavola

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5704 on: October 21, 2023, 05:58:50 am »
XCF Lightning doesn't have a ramp, but rather "elevators". You can easily test the craft designs with a "new battle". The design also prevents enemy grenade launcher reaction fire (if you go down instead of up), but obviously not straight fire. I could very well see it used with a tactic, go down, shoot a snapshot, come back up to safety. You'll still have to deal with enemy reaction fire but you could just take it or drop a smoke. This design would be particularly useful in missions which are so full of enemies that you might have trouble dealing with all of them close by no matter what you do. You could also deploy units on elevator squares so that chryssalids or any melee-only units couldn't get at you.

With kitsune you can also jump down, take a snapshot and run back up. However, due to the ramp the craft is more exposed, and the enemies can come and throw a grenade in or shoot with a rocket launcher. So it's not full safety.

The same applies to Osprey and all the sky* craft. It's open-ended and at a certain angle enemies can shoot inside or throw a grenade inside. Trying to stay in the cover is especially risky if the landing area is in the bottom parts of the map. Obviously if the landing area is in the top, it is much more difficult for enemies to get to the angle that they could hurt you.

The benefit of skymarshall is that it is on ground level. So you can get back in to cover with far fewer TUs and with osprey and other sky*. I'd suppose this is particularly useful with the front exits because the doors there will actually protect you from attacks during enemy turn (while the open-ended main entrance does not). But if you end up in the top end of the map, "run back inside" tactic will work from the main exit as well.

I have never bothered with other than early Osprey/Skyraider and Kitsune. But I suppose I could see a use case for both Lightning and to some degree Skymarshall.

Offline zee_ra

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5705 on: October 21, 2023, 08:29:07 am »
This is the OG Lightning, which is indeed not particularly better than the Kitsune or similar. I think XCF uses some version of the "Tactical Lightning", which looks like this.

Thank you for sharing this.

This is indeed a rather different craft than the one displayed in the video.  It is more similar tactically to the Mudranger and Dropship.  However, an important caveat goes with crafts that expose troopers on the roof: they are much more vulnerable to turret fire than the troopers shooting from behind the cover of the craft itself from the ground level, especially if the latter sort of troops shoots an arcing or a guided projectile.

Offline zee_ra

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5706 on: October 21, 2023, 08:38:40 am »
XCF Lightning doesn't have a ramp, but rather "elevators". You can easily test the craft designs with a "new battle". The design also prevents enemy grenade launcher reaction fire (if you go down instead of up), but obviously not straight fire. I could very well see it used with a tactic, go down, shoot a snapshot, come back up to safety. You'll still have to deal with enemy reaction fire but you could just take it or drop a smoke. This design would be particularly useful in missions which are so full of enemies that you might have trouble dealing with all of them close by no matter what you do. You could also deploy units on elevator squares so that chryssalids or any melee-only units couldn't get at you.

With kitsune you can also jump down, take a snapshot and run back up. However, due to the ramp the craft is more exposed, and the enemies can come and throw a grenade in or shoot with a rocket launcher. So it's not full safety.

The same applies to Osprey and all the sky* craft. It's open-ended and at a certain angle enemies can shoot inside or throw a grenade inside. Trying to stay in the cover is especially risky if the landing area is in the bottom parts of the map. Obviously if the landing area is in the top, it is much more difficult for enemies to get to the angle that they could hurt you.

The benefit of skymarshall is that it is on ground level. So you can get back in to cover with far fewer TUs and with osprey and other sky*. I'd suppose this is particularly useful with the front exits because the doors there will actually protect you from attacks during enemy turn (while the open-ended main entrance does not). But if you end up in the top end of the map, "run back inside" tactic will work from the main exit as well.

I have never bothered with other than early Osprey/Skyraider and Kitsune. But I suppose I could see a use case for both Lightning and to some degree Skymarshall.

The problem with the hatch leading to the top is that even if a trooper shoots ordnance (rocket, grenade, or a mortar round) from the roof, there's a high risk of reaction fire.  In case of turreted crafts, the reaction fire might as well come from the turrets themselves.  The hit-and-run tactics opportunities are thus limited even with such designs.  The Lightning works out tactically as an improved Mudranger of sorts.

With the Skymarshall craft, a different approach is possible, where a portion of the craft could serve as a cover.  A cheap option versus turrets might as well be TT explosives, or mortars.  Hit-and-run at a distance, from very difficult to reach angles becomes a possibility.

I managed early Arbiter takeovers when employing such tactics consistently.  Most of my troops used shrapnel rockets, and a handful was using small launchers.  Result: a lot of dead sectopods and about half of ethereals (it's mid-1999!) were captured alive, including commander.  I highly doubt that such a result would've been even remotely possible had I used any other craft, including Avenger.

Yes, with blaster bombs (and my modded-in blaster stun bombs), the aforementioned fight would've been really easy, even without psi.  However, without these capabilities, the Skymarshall seems to be the only craft design that is able to provide such a tremendous tactical advantage.

That is the reason I particularly appreciate the Skymarshall (which I referred to by as "alloy skyranger" in the recent posts to this thread).

Offline Juku121

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5707 on: October 21, 2023, 09:45:05 am »
The Skymarshall indeed provides better cover for indirect fires, no doubt.

How is it better for direct-fire, though, like for the aforementioned shrapnel rockets? If you have LoS, so does the turret. I mean, you could perhaps hide a bit of your agent's body at the time of firing, but that would be highly dependent on the turret and the craft aligning perfectly to give you that possibility.

The Lightning is nice because it can either provide high ground when you don't have to worry about return fire (smoke, non-static enemies, sniping and the like) or cover from arcing weapons when shooting from below the saucer, which even the Skymarshall doesn't really have an equivalent to.

If you double down on mortars and grenade launchers, you indeed get a unique advantage out of the Skymarshall. Pop-up fire seems better from a Lightning, though, especially as you don't have the doorway jams when the enemy is coming from several directions. That is, I can see the superiority of the Skymarshall against static enemies that always react and can be safely indirect-fired to death; but I don't see it if you are not exclusively facing those and using that tactic.

And you're somewhat at the mercy of the map generator, since if your craft is facing the UFO or other enemy concentration nose- or tail-first, the advantage is gone. Probably pretty rare, though.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2023, 09:47:17 am by Juku121 »

Offline zee_ra

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5708 on: October 21, 2023, 12:24:19 pm »
The Skymarshall indeed provides better cover for indirect fires, no doubt.

How is it better for direct-fire, though, like for the aforementioned shrapnel rockets? If you have LoS, so does the turret. I mean, you could perhaps hide a bit of your agent's body at the time of firing, but that would be highly dependent on the turret and the craft aligning perfectly to give you that possibility.

The Lightning is nice because it can either provide high ground when you don't have to worry about return fire (smoke, non-static enemies, sniping and the like) or cover from arcing weapons when shooting from below the saucer, which even the Skymarshall doesn't really have an equivalent to.

If you double down on mortars and grenade launchers, you indeed get a unique advantage out of the Skymarshall. Pop-up fire seems better from a Lightning, though, especially as you don't have the doorway jams when the enemy is coming from several directions. That is, I can see the superiority of the Skymarshall against static enemies that always react and can be safely indirect-fired to death; but I don't see it if you are not exclusively facing those and using that tactic.

And you're somewhat at the mercy of the map generator, since if your craft is facing the UFO or other enemy concentration nose- or tail-first, the advantage is gone. Probably pretty rare, though.

With Skymarshal, it is possible to setup two teams of 6 rocketeers at each edge and fend off any assaults.

I also have made mods to mortar rounds set to enable fragmentation rounds (which actually corresponds to a real military practice across the world) and also have experimented with setting up 3 waypoints on the rockets.

Note that those are essentially optimizations.  With mortars, I could just expend 1-2 extra HE rounds and still destroy the turret.  With strictly direct fire rockets, the trick is to explore the geometry both of Skymarshall and of a UFO.  What needs to be done is to peek just a little bit from the cover, then target a part of structure near enough the turret.  The terror ship and cruiser (the one with lots of terrorists and four turrets; do you recall if it is indeed called a cruiser, or has a different name?) have such properties: their turrets are not set at the flat open surface, but rather near walls.

By the way, if you edit-in the frag charge rockets, you could add them as special x-com rockets with limited maneuverability.  That corresponds to current portable anti-tank weapon capabilities across all advanced militaries in the world, so it's a very reasonable addition.  I would even argue that such rockets should be sellable, and maybe even shootable from a regular (= not advanced) rocket launcher.

I appreciate you sharing your observations about arcing shots.  This is a nice property, albeit none of the mid-game enemies are a serious threat in that category.  Still, the enemies are pretty good at throwing grenades, so there's still extra advantage on the side of Skymarshall, with its narrow doors design.  In general, it suffices to keep a certain area around the craft clear to prevent any serious dangers, and that is very doable with rockets.

Offline Juku121

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5709 on: October 21, 2023, 12:46:55 pm »
What do these 'fragmentation' shells of yours do, cutting damage instead of concussive?


Trying to peek so that you don't see the turret, only a tile nearby, is also dependent on the map generator collaborating with you, since one step near a corner corresponds to quite an angle in visibility.

Ultimately, the Skymarshall also still suffers from the 'open ramp' issue, even if the tail blocks most of it. A few Sectopods or Cyberdisks staring down on your equipment pile on turn 1 is a big problem there.


Also, this probably only works due to the overwhelming power of shrapnel rockets, since otherwise you'd be getting serious degradation in damage done and thus armour penetration. And these effin' turrets are quite heavily armoured.


The ship you're talking about is probably the Troop Ship. A Cruiser looks somewhat like a dildo ;) and has two small and two large turrets.


...special x-com rockets with limited maneuverability.  That corresponds to current portable anti-tank weapon capabilities across all advanced militaries in the world, so it's a very reasonable addition.  I would even argue that such rockets should be sellable, and maybe even shootable from a regular (= not advanced) rocket launcher.
Isn't that what a Mind Missile is?

Anyway, top-attack munitions weren't as widespread in 1997-1999, though the Javelin did go into service in 1996 and the Bofors already in 1988.

Although I can't see how you'd fire a Javelin from a Dragon launcher or similar. It's a new weapon system, not a munition upgrade.

I appreciate you sharing your observations about arcing shots.  This is a nice property, albeit none of the mid-game enemies are a serious threat in that category. 
In my experience, grenades and Blasters (and cultist explosives) are the number one cause of deaths I could not have prevented by playing a bit more cautiously. YMMV.

In general, it suffices to keep a certain area around the craft clear to prevent any serious dangers, and that is very doable with rockets.
Perhaps. Rockets and mortars have the distinct disadvantage of firing very slowly, not working at close range unless you have serious power armour, and needing an ammo supply line in any extended engagement. I suppose with good fire discipline and the OP shrapnel shells, it's not as much of a problem.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2023, 12:52:53 pm by Juku121 »

Offline zee_ra

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5710 on: October 21, 2023, 02:24:45 pm »
What do these 'fragmentation' shells of yours do, cutting damage instead of concussive?

Correct.  The charge is equivalent to a rocket of corresponding type, minus the incendiary effect.

Trying to peek so that you don't see the turret, only a tile nearby, is also dependent on the map generator collaborating with you, since one step near a corner corresponds to quite an angle in visibility.

This approach works very consistently in practice.  The only issue with terrain generation is when the transport is too close to the UFO.  Still, it's not impossible to win even in such cases, even against deployments that include Chryssalids.

Ultimately, the Skymarshall also still suffers from the 'open ramp' issue, even if the tail blocks most of it. A few Sectopods or Cyberdisks staring down on your equipment pile on turn 1 is a big problem there.

I actually moved the equipment into the middle of the vessel by editing a file in the mod.

Ideally, the backside would be doored as well, but in practice the situation is very manageable, especially when a couple of heavy troopers with rockets are near the exist (so, they only need to make a step, and still have time to aim).

Also, this probably only works due to the overwhelming power of shrapnel rockets, since otherwise you'd be getting serious degradation in damage done and thus armour penetration. And these effin' turrets are quite heavily armoured.

The effect is a consequence of shield resistance.  The resistance against cutting damage is uniformly at 125%, same as plasma, across all shield types.  Also, cutting damage works nicely against enemy armor resistances.  This seems pretty consistent with the real world, apparently.

The ship you're talking about is probably the Troop Ship. A Cruiser looks somewhat like a dildo ;) and has two small and two large turrets.

Indeed!  Thank you for clarification on this one.  There is another vessel as well, a large oblong ship, called Arbiter, with many turrets, but with the same design feature: walls near turrets.

Isn't that what a Mind Missile is?

No.  The difference between 3 and 9 or unlimited waypoints is significant in practice.  The idea is to have a slightly correctable missile, like the one in the CoD, etc..  The rationale being that such missiles are still reasonably inexpensive to be available as a standard offering, if only for spec ops troops.

Anyway, top-attack munitions weren't as widespread in 1997-1999, though the Javelin did go into service in 1996 and the Bofors already in 1988.

The basic idea I wanted to illuminate when referencing the anti-tank missiles has been that the technology for missiles that could be steered in flight is already available.  The 3-waypoint missile simulates such approach nicely.

Now, given that the waypoints could be relatively arbitrary in this game, we should think of such in-game missiles as an extension of the current AT missiles technology, into a special product geared to elite special operation units.

So, the 3-waypoint rockets are a bit of acrobats, but they don't even remotely approach the magical effects of a genuine blaster bomb.  Especially, when you set the waypoints for the latter to infinity.

Ultimately, the 3-waypoint rockets are an optimization, and could be replaced by mortars and regular rockets, whether with frag shells or without.


Although I can't see how you'd fire a Javelin from a Dragon launcher or similar. It's a new weapon system, not a munition upgrade.

The in-game "Rocket Launcher" is a distinct product most definitely.  Still, the capabilities at the level of 3-waypoint guidance are more in the human-tech realm than even xcom-tech.

In my experience, grenades and Blasters (and cultist explosives) are the number one cause of deaths I could not have prevented by playing a bit more cautiously. YMMV.

It's possible to have a zero casualty playthrough, with very conservative reloading policy.  I tend to play very aggressively in the first turns, in order to create a suitable beachead.  It works much better than defense.

All in all, it's possible to overcome tactically the challenges of grenades and blasters.  The key here is access to ordnance.  Also, I would like to note that auto-mortars feel almost magical in their demolitions capacity.  A trooper could carry 7 rounds of mortar charges.  A fire team consists of 4 troopers.  That is usually more than enough to demolish enemy.

Rocketeers are there to provide cover for mortars.  They tend to be idle once the mortars start working (and with auto-mortars, it's possible to fire every turn).

Prior to promotion 3, some elements of such tactics could be simulated by the use of dynamite and HE packs (sourced as trophies).

Perhaps. Rockets and mortars have the distinct disadvantage of firing very slowly, not working at close range unless you have serious power armour, and needing an ammo supply line in any extended engagement. I suppose with good fire discipline and the OP shrapnel shells, it's not as much of a problem.

With mortars, it is necessary to setup a good spot to fire from.  In general, you do have four shots of rockets to help with that even when heavily surrounded by cyberdiscs.  The slightly maneuverable rocketry helps to bring casualty potential to nearly zero in such circumstances.


Offline Chuckebaby

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.0: Beyond Human
« Reply #5711 on: October 21, 2023, 05:12:57 pm »
This sounds like a very odd, even unworkable strategy for XCF. If you have just one base, you're limited to about 40 scientists until the beginning of 1999 or so (= improved lab). This leaves you very far back in the research curve (and all the time more and more so) and I can't see how you could research even the most basic stuff to progress the game and/or survive. In my current campaign, in November 1998, I already have something like 140, though I suppose somewhat fewer amount would also be workable.

As I said we all play the game differently.
You are indeed correct, research is extremely slow. But your also not worrying about defending 2 or 3 bases from monthly base attacks. Which can be very cumbersome at times.

Offline Juku121

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5712 on: October 22, 2023, 12:15:01 am »
I would say the base defence issues are a side effect of your slow research but, knowing XCF, it's probably just the RNG hating on you. :D



The charge is equivalent to a rocket of corresponding type, minus the incendiary effect.
The morale damage is gone, too, I presume? What about the armour shredding effect?

Anyway, most Mars aliens are more resistant to cutting than explosives, but all their robotic minions reverse that, for some reason I have a hard time imagining right now. Probably 'to make melee viable'? So, yeah, that boosts the shrapnel rockets some more vs turrets. Not necessary nor realistic, IMO, but it's your game to change.

This approach works very consistently in practice.  The only issue with terrain generation is when the transport is too close to the UFO.  Still, it's not impossible to win even in such cases, even against deployments that include Chryssalids.
Winning is one thing, using the cover as you say is another. I've never managed to just peek around neither the nose nor the tail of the Skymarshall while consistently remaining out of enemy LoS, unless I was sniping and out of LoS anyway. I suspect it's more about the rocket+mortar firepower than it is about the cover. Or perhaps the fact that alien turrets have no real vision advantages (heat or psi vision) and you can either smoke yourself or get some smoke cover going by just shelling the turrets hard enough. Or maybe I'm just bad at using the Skywarden. :-\

Ideally, the backside would be doored as well, but in practice the situation is very manageable, especially when a couple of heavy troopers with rockets are near the exist (so, they only need to make a step, and still have time to aim).
If three Cyberdisks are staring at said troopers on turn 1, the first fellow to take a step or shoot a rocket invites return fire. And the Troop Ship has a boatload of terror units just prowling around.

Not impossible, as you say, but the open back door is a liability you have to work around.

Also, cutting damage works nicely against enemy armor resistances.  This seems pretty consistent with the real world, apparently.
Not sure if you're joking, but if there's one thing 'realistic' armour should work against, it's cutting damage. At least the armour you use against the savages still restricted to one planet. :) Otherwise, we get the effin' High Crusade again.

Indeed!  Thank you for clarification on this one.  There is another vessel as well, a large oblong ship, called Arbiter, with many turrets, but with the same design feature: walls near turrets.
The Arbiter is the ultimate UFO, of sorts. IMO, the Terror Ship/Troop Ship turret layouts are worse (for X-Com).

The basic idea I wanted to illuminate when referencing the anti-tank missiles has been that the technology for missiles that could be steered in flight is already available.  The 3-waypoint missile simulates such approach nicely.
Well, the ability to turn on a dime isn't that 'realistic' for 199x tech. I'd give such a 'Javelin' just 1 waypoint, if it was up to me. Maybe 3 for an advanced one from M.A.G.M.A. or similar, developed after the Advanced Launcher or so. Otherwise, yeah, the Mind Missile is a bit more magitech than that.

I tend to play very aggressively in the first turns, in order to create a suitable beachead.  It works much better than defense.
Doesn't track with psavola's "'nade them in the dark" experience, or mine. I've found moving aggressively, with little hard cover or smoke leads to more reloading, even if it gives me better firing angles.

Shooting the enemy up ASAP and with as much firepower as possible, that I can agree with.

All in all, it's possible to overcome tactically the challenges of grenades and blasters.
Well, yes, but that's not done via firepower, unless you can somehow spot and kill everyone with said grenades and Blasters. That's done by not getting spotted at all, hiding your scouts in hard cover and abusing your own grenades.

Never mind that Blasters can just shoot you at will once you get 'seen'. I know of no tactic to avoid that, short of hiding somewhere the Blasters can't get to. I still have a vivid memory of that Brutal AI tester guy's TFTD colony mission where the only thing between a squad wipe and half a dozen alien DPLs homing in on the entry chambers was the fact that underwater 'elevators' are indestructible.

In general, you do have four shots of rockets to help with that even when heavily surrounded by cyberdiscs.  The slightly maneuverable rocketry helps to bring casualty potential to nearly zero in such circumstances.
How do you escape return fire from said Cyberdisks? Once you shoot, other disks shoot you back and, worse, the ones you hit spot you as a target for any 'sniper' on the enemy turn. And aliens have a lot of snipers.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2023, 12:19:15 am by Juku121 »

Offline Chuckebaby

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5713 on: October 22, 2023, 05:33:28 am »
Did another Terror mission today. I realized that my issue isn't as much the turret strength as it is their accuracy.
I had a laser turret hit one of my guys from approx 80 tiles away and killed him with one shot.

So if anything I'd like to see the accuracy drop off after 20 tiles or so.

I'm not complaining though, i actually really enjoy the terror missions. They are difficult and more times than not return a very generous score (in the 1000 point range) if you're able to save enough civilians.

Offline Juku121

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Re: The X-Com Files - 3.1: Lights in The Sky
« Reply #5714 on: October 22, 2023, 09:41:47 am »
I mean, it's an alien super-tech laser. Don't walk around in plain sight of it if you don't want to be burned. :P

AKA smoke is your friend, since the aliens forgot to install even the basic infravision sensors us monkeys put on our most primitive drones.