Author Topic: How much do you rely on graphs screen?  (Read 1052 times)

Offline pencil

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How much do you rely on graphs screen?
« on: April 28, 2019, 05:53:48 pm »
Hi all. I've just started playing again after recently discovering openxcom, which has been great. After warming up a bit and exploring some of the mods, I've settled on a mostly-vanilla run on the middle difficulty, and am almost to June. I'm also doing Ironman, which I've found way more enjoyable as it adds so much suspense (which is otherwise lost as I tend to become quite abusive with save/load), and I can't get obsessed with doing everything perfectly.

Anyways, ever since I learned the mechanics of the graphs screen, I've been able to use it as a global radar (particularly with oxce graph zoom). It *is* fun doing the detective work of tracking movement this way and trying to blindly intercept, while having to balance the fuel constraints of intercepters.

However it is also tedius: once the graph gets noisy enough, I end up taking screenshots to compare and find changes (well, actually I take pictures with my phone...). Also my eyes end up glued to the clock so I can check graphs every 30 min instead of enjoying the geoscape. In fact my main motivation for building a radar network at this point is to save myself the tedium of using Graphs.

Also, it clearly is a huge advantage over normal radar alone, as I get many more missions/income earlier on, which accelerates my progress (vs. the aliens'). I'm considering disallowing myself from using it if I play through again, though I don't know if I'll want to bump the difficulty a notch easier to compensate.

I am wondering how other people usually play. For example I've seen people talk about how "easy" the vanilla game is, even on max difficulty. I wonder do they use the graphs screen, or is that considered 'cheating' or maybe just 'cheese'? (or maybe it's easy either way)


P.S. sidenote: due to back problems I can't sit at a computer normally, so the whole reason I found openxcom was to try to play xcom with a controller. I've found with proper bindings it actually plays nicely with an Xbox controller. Just wanted to say thanks to the developers for allowing me to play xcom at all! (Android version is also very cool, but I find my phone screen is a little too small to enjoy the interface.)

Offline Meridian

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Re: How much do you rely on graphs screen?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2019, 11:18:09 pm »
Hi pencil, and welcome!

I use graphs relatively a lot before I get global coverage (which you should get asap).

You actually only need to check them a few times, to find out in which regions the missions are happening at a given month, then you can just go there, without checking the graphs again.

Graphs can't tell you that a UFO has just spawned somewhere and you should go intercept it, for that they are not quick and granular enough... unless you are a complete autist (apologies to all real autists out there)... but probably even then you'll actually intercept the next UFO in the alien mission, not the one that changed the graph numbers.

I don't consider graphs a cheat or a tedium... just a "friendly incentive" to expand quicker.

Enjoy! And let us know of all the glorious rookie deaths :)

Offline ohartenstein23

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Re: How much do you rely on graphs screen?
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2019, 01:15:41 am »
I somewhat compulsively check my graphs for the first few months before I get global coverage, but not on a 30 minute cycle. I generally turn on 1 Hour time acceleration and just press "G" for graphs every now and then. Usually only 2-3 regions have alien activity per month, so once you identify those you can just watch for those ones to tick up and then send a transport. An extra skyranger as a radar craft to support your graph-watching is helpful.

Offline The Reaver of Darkness

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Re: How much do you rely on graphs screen?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2019, 09:03:53 am »
Graphs can't tell you that a UFO has just spawned somewhere and you should go intercept it, for that they are not quick and granular enough... unless you are a complete autist (apologies to all real autists out there)...

Autist here. They're really not quick and granular enough. While a graph can tell you that a UFO has spawned in a region within a half hour, more often than not you don't even get a single pixel rise in activity while the UFO is merely flying through. This means that more often than not, you're not finding out about the UFO until it has arrived on site, and then the transit time of your interceptor can mean you miss the UFO. As Meridian said, it's better to just learn the two regions at the beginning of the month, and patrol them for the rest of the month.

Each month the aliens typically select two regions to begin a mission--one a terror mission and one random. As you shoot down terror scouts, you change the timing of the terror scout appearances, and same with other UFOs. Each one shot down delays its mission typically by some 2-6 days IIRC. Once you learn how each mission works, you can track it in the region it spawned in, and then patrol that region until it has completed. You can also stop patrolling for 2-3 days after shooting a UFO down for that mission, and focus elsewhere.



But I find that putting so much effort into the game is fun only a few times. After a while, it's just wasted time. I recommend using graphs to find a few UFOs in the early game to boost your research and money. Once you have that squared away, you can easily get by without touching the graphs, as long as you shoot down enough UFOs during the month and make enough points. There's several things you can do to increase how well you do in the game, but I recommend you just pick a couple and mostly ignore the rest.
 A.) Check graphs at the beginning of the month to discover the location of the new random mission.
 B.) Make multiple bases with interceptors and shoot down every UFO you can. (Make sure your bases are defended.)
 C.) Run as many crash sites as possible.
 D.) Always run every terror site, and also hunt down alien bases and run them. (Patrol with aircraft to find them. Radars won't see them.)
 E.) Get Hyper-Wave Decoder ASAP and be sure to deal with every UFO that is on an infiltration or retaliation mission.
 F.) Try to get at least a small amount of activity in as many regions as possible each month.
 G.) Blaze through research and use research points to maintain your score.
 H.) Do lots of manufacturing for money. (Vanilla: make laser cannons.) Make sure you put the money to use improving your score.
 I.) Get fusion balls and destroy (not crash land) as many UFOs as possible (improved score over crash and forget).
My favorites are B, H, and I.

If your gameplay becomes too meticulous, consider that while your actions may be improving your game-time effectiveness, you might be getting less from the game in real time. You should decide how much time you actually want to spend playing the game, and be willing to let a strategy go if it's too tedious for your time constraints.


There's also varying ways to play on the battlescape:
 A.) Basic rifles - shoot everything with direct damage. This method is clean and simple, possibly tedious but tends to have a high loot amount.
 B.) Smoke for camouflage - put smoke down everywhere and use motion scanners to see through it. This method is very tedious but extremely effective.
 C.) Explode everything - use rocket launchers, grenades, or blaster launchers to destroy everything that might have aliens hiding in it. This method is quick and dirty, great for scoring quick kills or completing a mission, but terrible for bringing back home any UFO components. On terror sites it's a quick way to get a neutral score.
 D.) Save scum - save every turn or multiple times per turn, and reload the game every time something goes wrong. This method is the most tedious but results in a perfect score every time. Disadvantage: you won't be learning many of the important strategies that other playstyles will teach you.
 E.) Stun everything - once you get the small launcher, just hit everything with stun bombs. This method is both quick and clean, though ammo can get expensive, and in a few cases it doesn't work well (some terrain or some enemies).
 F.) Psi-hopping - Mind control every alien you see, and use them to spot more aliens. With effective unit placement, this strategy can strike with surgical precision. It can get tedious, however, and is only effective with strong psionic troops.
 G.) Super soldier training - take extra time to train your soldiers' bravery, reactions, and any other attributes that tend to get left behind. With a lot of early work, you can get a team of soldiers with maxed-out attributes. This strategy is most effective in tandem with strategies that reduce risk to soldier life.
 H.) Meat shields - Use tanks or rookies to draw fire so that your important soldiers are kept safe. You can also use the meat shields as scouts, and your main soldiers as snipers. This method is pretty effective relative to its low tedium, but relies on good terrain.

My favorite battlescape methods are A, F, and H.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2019, 09:23:44 am by The Reaver of Darkness »

Offline Hermann

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Re: How much do you rely on graphs screen?
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2019, 01:05:48 pm »
Reading all this made me think I need to work on my graphs reading game. You guys are much more strategic than me.

Offline The Reaver of Darkness

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Re: How much do you rely on graphs screen?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2019, 01:59:51 am »
Reading all this made me think I need to work on my graphs reading game.

You really don't need to. It's a useful strategy, but truly not necessary. If you don't enjoy reading graphs, then I recommend not doing it. You can learn a few quick tricks to glance at graphs and glean useful info, or you can ignore them completely. When ignoring graphs makes the game harder, you can spend all that energy you saved on tackling it some other way that you enjoy more.

Offline pencil

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Re: How much do you rely on graphs screen?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2019, 10:28:09 pm »
Oh the glorious rookie deaths : ) The game gets alot easier when you stop being so attached to your men. ( I just sort by bravery and doom the cowards :D )

If you use the graph zoom hotkeys in OXCE, you can pretty much always see where the ufo is each 30min tick. After the first few ticks you can often get an idea of the ufo's trajectory and head it off. 2 interceptors + region&country data is usually enough to find it in time. I guess patrolling the "hotspot" regions would save me from being glued to the graphs screen.

I like your ideas around strategy effectiveness vs fun. I definitely found the game more fun when I stopped save-scumming; if I play again I'll probably try just sticking to radar. As it is I feel like I reached the end game too quickly anyways. Had to speed through 4 or 5 months of nothing but floaters and snakemen, so I could finally get psi (had a dearth of sectoids) and see the later races.

Offline Meridian

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Re: How much do you rely on graphs screen?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2019, 10:42:34 pm »
Oh the glorious rookie deaths : ) The game gets alot easier when you stop being so attached to your men. ( I just sort by bravery and doom the cowards :D )

+1

If you use the graph zoom hotkeys in OXCE, you can pretty much always see where the ufo is each 30min tick. After the first few ticks you can often get an idea of the ufo's trajectory and head it off. 2 interceptors + region&country data is usually enough to find it in time. I guess patrolling the "hotspot" regions would save me from being glued to the graphs screen.

So you actually did it? You mad man :)
But at least now we know it's possible :P

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: How much do you rely on graphs screen?
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2019, 01:56:11 pm »
So you actually did it? You mad man :)
But at least now we know it's possible :P

Totally agreed. :)

Offline andre2

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Re: How much do you rely on graphs screen?
« Reply #9 on: Today at 03:49:03 pm »
I check the graphs, when it is to silent. I then get suspicious ;) and wonder WTF they are about.
Also, I like to know how much score I have. When I´m 1k in the minus, it might be a good idea to hit that scary base anyway at the end of the month. To have at least some plus points. So that I don´t get supsended because of slacking right away. ;)