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Limiting Psionics


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#1 Warface

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 11:50 AM

I have completed (and completely dominated) the game on Superhuman mode using psionics (saving only in the geoscape), but of course the real fun for me is usually in the non-psionic tactical elements of the game. I don't like the idea of removing them completely, because counter-psionic measures add to the intensity of the game when you are on the receiving end. So I've listed the four methods I know of for reducing psionics (including removing them) and would like to know what other players think of them.

1. Self-limit. One psi-lab and/or some limit for psi-amps (or e.g. max 1-2 psi-soldiers per mission, etc).
2. Resist only. Screen soldiers with psi-labs but don't research psi-amps.
3. Hardcore. Don't research psionics at all, but let the aliens keep theirs. Screen soldiers in combat.
4. Non-psionic game. Disable psionics completely with xcomutil.

Though #1 still gives you a chance of a few strong psionics every month, you can choose not to rotate them, and you're basically stuck with the first batch until you break down and cycle another 10 soldiers through the lab.

#s 2-3 leave the option (and temptation) of building psi-amps later, but putting them off intentionally means it will still take a long time if you decide to "wimp out" and go psionic. It also means the aliens will be fully psionic in the meantime and you will have "toughened up" a lot as an anti-psionic battlemaster by then.

#4 reduces the game to "strictly combat" which would have been fine from the beginning, except that now it weakens aliens who were designed to have those powers (though Ethereals are still fairly tough without them, especially with Sectopods around).

I'm about to start a #3, and it's possible it will become a #2 after a few big Sectoid battles, and then a #1 when Ethereals start coming on strong, at which time I might just stop there and make it a #4. Any comments?

#2 Pi Masta

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 12:27 PM

Hrmmm....

I guess I've never really gotten to a point where I completely dominated battles using psionics. Though I think I've beat the game on Genius (not 100% about that, I know beginner but whoopdy doo). I usually had about 2 psi-labs, one at Europe and one at America, where my 2 recovery teams were.

Usually after I've lost soldiers in psi-labs and all I only get a couple of 'good' psionic soldiers, and a few decent ones. But maybe I'm not playing as aggressively as you and other people, with 'screening' as many soldier's as possible.

That said let me see if I can come up with some other ideas:

1. Modify Costs - make psi-amps and psi-labs much more difficult to build, or even to research. Make psi-amps take like 20 elerium or something, and make the engineering hours and cost like 10x more. This should (hopefully) slow you down quite a bit, but you still have psionics. You could also raise the time it takes to get Psionics and all in RESEARCH.DAT to slow it down as well.

2. Modify Psi-Labs - I think you can adjust how many soldiers can be put into a psi-lab by modifying FACIL.DAT (specifically offset E6). I would set this to 1-3, which sounds extreme, but you could still build tons of psi-labs, but this would greatly slow down how fast you can screen soldiers.

3. Modify Psionic Costs - Not sure if this has been located but I think it's in TACTICAL.EXE, raising the TU cost of MC and Panic would slow down things I would think. Something like 40 TUs, most aliens have that much I believe (if modifying this value would affect them), and only if you get a superduper guy with awesome Psionics and 80 TUs (max is 80-81) will you be able to do 2 psionics with one guy per turn. (As a side note, would it be possible to have psi-amps cost energy? I dont' think using any items uses energy IIRC. If you could, it would be another limit, you can do psi a bunch, but then your guy can't move or use psi in the following turns for a while.)

Just some thoughts, that should be do-able with a little bit of file modding.

#3 NKF

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 11:01 PM

Psionics are dreadfully annoying to go up against, and the moment you have the power to use it against the aliens and have a half-way decent psionic soldier, the game's over.

I've fallen into the habit of simply avoiding the construction of the psi-amp and use the psi-lab and actual field experience for screening my troops. The mind probe however is the only psi tool that I use to any large degree. It's not a weapon, it doesn't need the psi-lab to use and a lot of players underestimate it.

I'm artificially limiting myself there, but - like my decision to ignore loading Heavy Plasmas on my troop transport -, it's a choice I've made and it actually works for me and keeps the game fun while not completely removing the threat of psionics. It also doesn't require any editing - because I'm lazy. ;) And I like my copy to be as plain-vanilla as possible, or as untouched as Xcomutil will allow.

A softer option rather than taking any drastic measures is to stop using mind control and use the panic attacks. This has the advantage that even the most junior of psi-troopers can make use of this attack. On the other hand, there'll be a larger chance of berserking aliens. Those random shots could be aimed at anyone, and depending on your version of the game, they'll sometimes get 200+ Current TUs, allowing them to fire off many more shots than normal.

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#4 Pherdnut

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 07:21 PM

Just a couple psionic masters that can MC damn near anything is all it really takes to completely overwhelm the aliens. If you train properly you'll usually have a 3-4 such guys with one lab a couple months after the lab is completed. Just panic and MC every alien you see every turn you can before taking them out with your non psi agents. Your average rookie X-Com player won't get psi until ethereals show up. It's almost an easter egg really. But yeah I would just turn off psi completely if you feel it's unbalancing. Although really, powered armor with H. Plasma, alien grenades, and blaster launchers is pretty darn easy if the aliens don't have psi either.

#5 Warface

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 12:53 PM

Hrmmm....

I guess I've never really gotten to a point where I completely dominated battles using psionics. Though I think I've beat the game on Genius (not 100% about that, I know beginner but whoopdy doo). I usually had about 2 psi-labs, one at Europe and one at America, where my 2 recovery teams were.

Usually after I've lost soldiers in psi-labs and all I only get a couple of 'good' psionic soldiers, and a few decent ones. But maybe I'm not playing as aggressively as you and other people, with 'screening' as many soldier's as possible.

That said let me see if I can come up with some other ideas:


Really, once you get a handful of agents with psi-strength over 70, all you have to do is keep them alive through a few missions and give them a few tries with the amp, and before you know it they will be able to psyche anything.

Just a couple psionic masters that can MC damn near anything is all it really takes to completely overwhelm the aliens. If you train properly you'll usually have a 3-4 such guys with one lab a couple months after the lab is completed. Just panic and MC every alien you see every turn you can before taking them out with your non psi agents. Your average rookie X-Com player won't get psi until ethereals show up. It's almost an easter egg really. But yeah I would just turn off psi completely if you feel it's unbalancing. Although really, powered armor with H. Plasma, alien grenades, and blaster launchers is pretty darn easy if the aliens don't have psi either.


Stun rush has been SOP in my Sectoid terror sites and supply raids for years. Likewise with psi research once I get a psionic alien, and a base with 5 labs or more as soon as there is available dirt for them.

I guess that makes me an X-Com Vet. :P

Anyway I'm working with psi disabled and it seems a little mundane. In fact, just about any alternative to full psionics seems artificial, from self-limiting to outright modding. At least I have a lot of options available. In my next game I'll probably end up screening with labs and holding off on amps indefinitely... or at least until Cydonia.

#6 Virulent

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 11:05 PM

Ethereals are fine without psionics. They have high accuracy scores, even higher reactions and Sectopods on terror missions.

I've seen Ethereals tag my guys with snapshots from 32 blocks away. Was a shooter, the spotter already died but due to the way the CPU plays the game, it doesn't need a direct LOS to see your soldiers provided they haven't moved.

#7 NKF

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 12:45 AM

For basic firearm usage, the AI must be able to get the target within its field of vision before they can shoot at it. The range for the AI's field of vision is not affected by the night penalty, so they get to see the full 20 tile cone in front of them all the time, where yours might be reduced to 16 tiles. That -4 tiles is quite a huge gap. So deploy the flares and AC-Inc rounds liberally.

I don't know if this applies for the blaster. I assume it does, but you never know.

With psionics LOS is ignored completely. They just let loose on your weakest soldiers right away whether they've seen you or otherwise. There seems to be a short grace period where they do not attack, but this varies.

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Edited by NKF, 24 August 2007 - 12:47 AM.

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#8 Virulent

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 01:54 AM

For basic firearm usage, the AI must be able to get the target within its field of vision before they can shoot at it. The range for the AI's field of vision is not affected by the night penalty, so they get to see the full 20 tile cone in front of them all the time, where yours might be reduced to 16 tiles. That -4 tiles is quite a huge gap. So deploy the flares and AC-Inc rounds liberally.


Nah, I don't buy it. Is this set somewhere in the executable? I doubt it because I've been shot at from >20 squares plenty of times...in particular by Ethereals. I was under the impression that 20 squares was simply the reactions range.

Aliens have a CPU-only stat called Intelligence. This dictates how many turns an alien can "remember" your location, even if it doesn't have a clear sight on you. Pretty sure that you're fair game for anything once they have your location spotted by any unit, and you don't move. This also explains why if you spend all your TUs killing an alien, his buddy can walk out from behind cover and fire a shot at you without wasting TUs to turn around and get a visual on you. The only reason aliens don't spam shots from all the way across the map is because I'm pretty sure the CPU only ever fires shots it thinks it has a good chance of making. This is why they "let loose" with psionics once they have your target in their Intelligence bank. In addition, a psi'd target (controlled, panicked, or berserked) and any targets he spots remain in Intelligence banks, which is why aliens spam psi on your weakest...it's like psi radar to them, they'll always know where you and always get the drop unless the weak soldier dies or gets stuck somewhere with no LOS on your troops.

Oh, and off-topic...Ethereals also have more armor than Mutons (75% more), but much less health (75% less).

Edited by Virulent, 24 August 2007 - 02:00 AM.


#9 NKF

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 08:53 PM

I have done a few tests that involved rooting an alien to the spot. Basically stripping their max energy down to something really low, like 1 or 0, to prevent the alien from moving, but not preventing them from firing or using psi.

In one such test I launched a test on an ethereal base and auto-killed all of the aliens bar the commander. I edited the save to gave them all 255 wounds, ended a turn for the wounds to do the job, saved it, then reset the commander's morale back to 100 or else he would've been useless.

All I did next was end the turns, waiting for the psi attacks. After a few turns, I found that the commander chose to make a bee-line right to the access lift and gun down my troops. Now, the commander started in the command centre on the other side of the map. There's no way it could've known where my troops were.

I retried the scenario, but this time I rooted the commander to the spot by crippling its energy. I waited a few turns and my troops started to get attacked by psionics. Again, there's no possible way for it or any other unit on the map to have spotted my troops.

Basically, the AI already knows where you are, and where all your weakest psi units are. So it does not need to have seen any of your troops beforehand.

I'll have to do a check on the active firing ranges as opposed to the defensive firing ranges. I'll have to dig up my old smoke grenade test savegame where I've rooted a sectoid to the spot to run smoke grenade tests on. (The result for this were that smoke is always best between you but not on you or the enemy, and is at its thickest during the first 3 turns - this same test was used to determine the 20 tile firing range)

edit:

After running some tests, the sectoid wouldn't fire beyond the 20 tile range, even after I'd paraded the test subject in front of the sectoid for a few turns so that it would clearly remember him.

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Edited by NKF, 25 August 2007 - 06:56 AM.

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#10 Zombie

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 07:28 PM

I could have told you that. I performed all these tests too a while back at the StrategyCore forums. :P

Now I wonder what would happen if you have two aliens instead of only one. Root both of them to one spot: the commander within eyeshot of your soldier but unable to do anything, and the second alien 20+ tiles away from the soldier but able to shoot weapon. The commander acts as the "spotter" relaying the position to the second alien which fires beyond visual range. It's probably the same as with one alien, but you never know. If it doesn't work with a normal ranged weapon, try it with a Blaster Launcher equipped alien. That may be different. :)

Edit: I almost forgot the main reason I wanted to post. A fifth psionic adjustment. Allow soldiers to train in psionics but you can only use them in the final battle in the underground base on Mars. And only one soldier can use it. Or, whoever becomes your commander is the only person who can use Psi. Whatever psionic stats he has, tough. You'll have to make do. :wink1:

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Edited by Zombie, 25 August 2007 - 07:35 PM.

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#11 Warface

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 02:20 PM

A fifth psionic adjustment. Allow soldiers to train in psionics but you can only use them in the final battle in the underground base on Mars.


Heh, that's almost the same conclusion I arrived at in the last sentence of my last post :P I could just intentionally make the amp the very last thing I research.

And only one soldier can use it.


Compelling, although it would still feel somehow artificial...

Or, whoever becomes your commander is the only person who can use Psi. Whatever psionic stats he has, tough. You'll have to make do. :wink1:


Of course, he would have been screened, and coincidentally the low-psi commander would be the "braveheart" guy who charges into battle first ;)

Psionics would aptly be associated with intelligence when the new commander suddenly starts staying behind on the ship, and wherever he directs the rookies they find the aliens with their pants down, handing over their weapons, or even fighting amongst themselves.

#12 The Duke of Vandals

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 04:22 AM

How about botching agent psi skills? AKA: either mod (if it can be done) or kick out any agents with more than 40 psi strenght, for instance.

Also: how about limiting your research capability? That way if you go for psionics you might be sacrificing other research fields.

Edited by The Duke of Vandals, 05 October 2007 - 04:25 AM.


#13 stewart

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 06:21 PM

Allow soldiers to train in psionics but you can only use them in the final battle in the underground base on Mars. And only one soldier can use it. Or, whoever becomes your commander is the only person who can use Psi. Whatever psionic stats he has, tough. You'll have to make do. :wink1:

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reminds me of a challenge I'd made a long time ago. Rookies and starting equipment only at cydonia. If you can pull it off, then as Fred Mercury once sang "Nothing really matters".
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I'm starting to like the heavy cannon more and more.

#14 Morken

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 02:12 PM

Ok I'm a bit late on this forum, but let me chime in.

Concerning alien firing range, I won't comment.

However, concerning Psi attack from aliens and blaster bombs from aliens let me say:
(I play "Gold" edition)
The aliens begin the game unable to PSI attack you until they "see" at least 1 member of your team (tankettes count as members) on THEIR turn.
I recall going thru whole base defence battles versus sectoids and if I killed em all without them seeing any of my members on THEIR turn, the commander would not ever PSI attack me.
Remember however that the "windows" of both UFOs and your skyranger are a bit strange and inscrutable. You never know when the bastards have or have not had the privillage of seeing thru those windows.

Concerning blaster bomb, the aliens MIGHT blaster bomb the general location of your soldier if your soldier snipes at them.
So, if soldier A scouts, sees alien A, retreats...
Soldier B snipes alien A from long range.
You end your turn.
Alien A is dead, but Alien B blaster bombs general location of Soldier B because he saw "muzzle flash".
That is why, during base defence, it is better to have your sniper guys shoot, then retreat behind a living quarter or general store door, just to avoid blaster bombs.

#15 Zombie

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:54 PM

I did some tests a while back over at the StrategyCore forums concerning psionics. To test the theory that the aliens can't do anything until they see one of your men, I "rooted" all the aliens to one spot (basically I gave them all 0 energy so they couldn't move and a 0 energy refresh rate between turns). Then I waited. After a few rounds, the psionic attacks began. So obviously, the aliens know the location of all your soldiers from the start. Blaster Bombs follow roughly the same pattern as psionics. The aliens seem less likely to use them then psionics so there may be something else involved. ;)

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#16 Hellscream

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 07:15 AM

I did some tests a while back over at the StrategyCore forums concerning psionics. To test the theory that the aliens can't do anything until they see one of your men, I "rooted" all the aliens to one spot (basically I gave them all 0 energy so they couldn't move and a 0 energy refresh rate between turns). Then I waited. After a few rounds, the psionic attacks began. So obviously, the aliens know the location of all your soldiers from the start. Blaster Bombs follow roughly the same pattern as psionics. The aliens seem less likely to use them then psionics so there may be something else involved. ;)

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actually... if the alliens would use blaster bombs as much as they do with psionics i think it would be a little hard dont you think? ^^

#17 wakiki

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 09:52 AM

Hmmm well this is a slight necro but this is only on page two and I think it's neat so I'll go for it. =]

I did some tests a while back over at the StrategyCore forums concerning psionics. To test the theory that the aliens can't do anything until they see one of your men, I "rooted" all the aliens to one spot (basically I gave them all 0 energy so they couldn't move and a 0 energy refresh rate between turns). Then I waited. After a few rounds, the psionic attacks began. So obviously, the aliens know the location of all your soldiers from the start. Blaster Bombs follow roughly the same pattern as psionics. The aliens seem less likely to use them then psionics so there may be something else involved. ;)

- Zombie


I bet Blaster Bombs have something to do with soldier density. I'd do the same test (making the aliens immobile and having your soldiers outside their vision). But this time, put 10 soldiers shoulder-to-shoulder in a room far away. If aliens use Blaster Bombs like they do psionics, I bet a shiny football will come your way.

If this is true, it would be interesting to find out the "breakpoint" where aliens start to use area attacks. In my experience with Alien Grenades, two soldiers standing near each other will get plasma, but three will get grenades. On the other hand, I've had a lone tank get a grenade thrown at it, so it's not a hard rule.

#18 Sorrow

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 10:06 AM

I think that limiting player-use of psionics is a good idea. I wonder if it would be possible to mod the game to not allow the player to use/research psionics.