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My Game: Why I Love Alien Colonies


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#1 Kereminde

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 04:27 PM

Okay, first off some background. I haven't played the game on anything higher than <2>. After losing in Feburary I knocked it back a bit to learn more about these Lobstermen and what the heck was needed to kill them. Now I know: Sonic Cannons and paired squad members. I behave really "dumb" in the beginning, sacking Aquanauts with Bravery under 30 and Firing Accuracy under 55. I might make an exception for someone with 20 Bravery and a high Accuracy, but 10 Bravery is a pink slip. As I don't have the ability to evaluate M.C. Strength . . . well, that can be a problem.

A colony mission is a simple thing, because the layout of the structures is always the same, and you know what aliens you're facing. Roughly 8-10 Tasloths, 4 Tentacluts, 2 Hallucinoids, and 4 Aquatoids. The outer segments are where the Hallucinoids usually hang out, on the third elevation level. Expect them near the guard towers. The Aquatoids usually are distributed inside the main building, and are always Squad Leaders. Tasloths are peppered all over the place, but if you want to take them down hard you should enter through the north wing and clear the gallery there, then march into the center and blow everything away in there. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Aquatoid Squad Leaders seem to be equipped largely with Disruptor Pulse Launchers, though once or twice I swear there was a Sonic Cannon. DPLs are not as big a deal as you think, unless they see you coming. More problematic are the Sonic Pulsers they carry; they are not shy about firing those off. The DPL seems to be used only near your invading sub. If you're in the structure you will likely NOT have one fired on you.

Tasloth Soldiers almost always have Sonic Cannons. Usual rules apply: shoot to kill, not to shoot. The extremely high Health means they can take two shots to take down and require two stuns of a Thermal Tazer to drop. Do not get caught in the open without cover before your turn is up. They are great shots and if you're within 10 tile-movements you are likely dead. Sometimes they'll have a Sonic-Blasta Rifle. These MUST DIE QUICKLY because they rarely miss their shots.

Tasloth Squad Leaders often waste their time using M.C. on your people. They're really really good at it, so if someone is prone to it, don't take them out of the sub until you're winning the battle. Most of these guys hang out in the center building, where there's no danger. Crash the party and kill them, and you'll take out 50% of the M.C. strength in the base. Assaulting the center means . . .

Tentaclut Terrorists. Always one present in the center room, and they move fast. If you haven't seen one in the room, don't end your turn inside or they will get you. If you spot one, they are Priority One Targets; no armor in the world will save you from them, and they will more than likely not trigger a reaction shot unless your reactions are super high or they move a long time within sight range. They're relatively fragile but still can take a shot from a Sonic Blasta-Rifle and not fall over. Go for broke and use Sonic Cannons.

Halucinoid Terrorists. There are two floating around somewhere, and they are nice big targets. If you have Ion Armor, you have nothing to fear and they become target practice for your soldiers. Otherwise, take them down hard. As they're four spaces wide, they are rather easy prey when on your elevation. Unfortunately, they're very often floating high and you'll have trouble hitting at long ranges.

General strategy is simple. You have two options: get to the elevator in and move on or destroy everything in your way. A nice little bug in the game prevents you from recovering anything from the first section, so if you want to go the genocidal route you should stuff extra ammo and weapons in your backpacks. Take some time and recover things you want to keep. DPL ammo is a big one, as are weapon ammo clips; you will most likely run out of these if you're not gathering. (The plus side to the tough work of alien genocide is the score will be fantastic.) Don't travel in groups less than two, one person with an accurate weapon and the other with a powerful one. It helps if, like me, your team has had lots of experience and has good firing accuracy (few people in my team measure below 60). Feel free to use grenades on the upper level, as it can make breaching the center a lot easier on you. Bring along melee weapons if you have them, those are useful for the second section. And PACK STUN WEAPONS.

The second segment is a little harder to describe as it's randomized. Imagine a 4x4 grid of "rooms" which have a specific arrangement for the four elevation levels. Put the Synonium Device in a 2x2 block, and fill the rest with some random facilities. You'll get to recognize the patterns of rooms and how they interconnect the more you do this, so no panicking. What should make you panic are the tight corridors, narrow fire paths, lots of exploding "terrain" you can hit, and fighting the enemies. They're Lobstermen and Tentacluts.

Lobstermen are tough sonuvaguns. Where Tasloths could take hits and keep moving due to high health, Lobstermen have high armor and not too hard health. They have a melee attack which WILL KILL anyone outside Ion Armor. There are three types wandering around the base: Soldiers, Technicians, Squad Leaders. Technicians always have Thermal Shok Launchers and there are usually two of them close together. They have no qualms about exploding one in their own face if it means taking you out. Squad Leaders usually carry DPLs and never use them (that I've yet seen). Soldiers have Sonic Cannons. All flavors of Lobstermen come with the armor which makes them difficult; they usually soak two shots of Sonic Cannons and will take two shots of a Thermal Taser. Preferred method is the Thermal Taser if you have Ion Armor. Just try to keep the bodies collected and watched in case they start moving again.

Tentacluts are even worse here. First of all, there are many blind corners they can hide in, their movement rate means they can come almost out of nowhere if they know where you are, and some of the rooms on the top floor have an extra high roof where they can congregate. Their saving grace is the fact they are easier to destroy than the Lobstermen.

Some notes: Most enemies seem to congregate in the lower two levels of the base, and never in the same "block" as the Synonium Device. There's a reason for that, as there are already three enemies in that area guarding the device. There seems to be a concentration of enemies inside certain structures over others, especially in the little "three tile rooms" in the lowest level. They love to hide there. Lobstermen sometimes stand perfectly still and do not even move unless shot at; this is good for you as it gives you time to get a good fire team up there. The bad part of this is any reaction shot will be an AIMED SHOT. Also, Lobstermen Soldiers will sometimes forget they have a weapon and will charge in to attack claw-to-hand; if you have Ion Armor this is saying 'please kill me now'. Usually this happens if you're within three tiles, rarely ever if you are far away, and NEVER if they haven't been hit yet.

The Synonium Device is the goal, and with it are your secondary goal: Three Lobstermen Navigators/Commanders (I don't know the exact composition). Stun them, grab them, and get the heck out. Your exits will generally be on L2, in two of the corners.

OR you could go the genocide route, and score TONS of stuff for sale and research. 20-25 each of: Alien Sub Construction, Alien Cryogenics, Alien Cloning, Alien Learning Arrays, Alien Reanimation Zone, Alien Implanters, Ion Beam Accelerators. Hundreds of Aqua Plastics and Zrbite. All of this is going to be a GREAT help to your funding and your manufacture. Not to mention you WILL see a four-digit score that month unless you seriously botch the rest of it.

If you have advice to add, corrections, or just to say this is helpful, post! :)

#2 NKF

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 05:11 AM

Do you have access to the drills? I'd recommend you have some when prowling around the interior level's maze-like tunnels. They operate a lot faster than thermal tazers (brilliant a weapon though it is) and lobstermen have no damage resistance against them. Your choice between the vibroblade, thermic lance or heavy thermic lance is up to you.

Instead of destroying the colony, you can choose to leave it alone and raid the supply ships that dock there at semi regular intervals. This will introduce a regular supply of alien resources (including the much coveted Zrbite), training and more than enough activity points to nullify the slow buildup of alien activity points that the colony generates. You can also launch smash-and-grab raids on the alien colony by going in, grabbing whatever you can topside and dusting off without destroying it. A great way to get DPL ammo.


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Just a minor correction, aliens cannot use aimed shot with reaction fire. They can only use snap or autoshot - although it doesn't really count since no hand held alien weapons in TFTD have autoshot.

The high TUs do however mean that their initiative is much at 100%, so they're more likely to get off a reaction shot than usual. Which is just as bad as an aimed shot. (Initiative = current TUs / Max TUs * reactions)

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A solution to your problem with MC is to capture a live Deep One or Calcinite terrorist. They give access to the MC Lab.

- NKF

Edited by NKF, 26 April 2008 - 05:12 AM.

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#3 Kereminde

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 09:04 AM

- Yeah, I have a M.C. Lab being built. And Readers on the research tree (at an auxiliary base). I only worry because I had 2/3 of a team once which was really susceptible to M.C. I split them up so now one or two are at the three bases I have running. New blood seems more resistant, but unfortunately my sharpshooter (82 Firing Accuracy! Accuracy 93%, with a Sonic Cannon Aimed Shot! 105% on kneeling! You can't BEAT that!). That's why my strategy is hit hard, fast, and go for the center to blow out as many Squad Leaders as possible. Panic em so they can't focus. Or empty the da** sub and give them a lot of spread out targets. That usually confuses the heck out of the AI but it results in me having less effective results.

The downside to leaving a colony is the effect on populace; it seems funders like to shut down when a colony is in the neighborhood. Now, I DID raid supply ships in a previous game and got really really good at quickly disassembling the subs. Because I simply could not survive a colony assault in that game.

I'm glad you know about reaction-aimed shots. Still full TU means they can shoot more.

I'm after the melee weapons. I took Tasers because I needed live aliens. I still need a live Tasoth, er, wait, no I got one in an Artefact mission. Heheh. Regardless, they're not as huge on my list of things to research. I'm doing fine now; "fine" defined as "no longer doing the quicksave quickload tango as often". Those happen when a Tentaclut starts above my sub . . . when two Aquanauts start isolated in a colony and they're served death before I get a chance to unify the team . . . you know, the Random Number Generator cranking out a big middle finger to you.

#4 NKF

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 03:47 PM

Luckily initiative drops every time the alien fires, since it is based off the percentage of their remaining TUs. So the next reaction is not going to be as easy to pull off as the last (if it goes below your initiative level). Unfortunately the same applies to your aquanauts - so stick to the sniper/scout strategy where the person that sees the alien does not shoot the alien but lets rearward snipers do that job.

On higher difficulty levels the alien accuracy is so high that their snapshots have an accuracy that's just as good as an aimed shot. Superhuman Biodrones and Triscene for example end up with 100+% snaps. Utter madness! You really must kit your scouts with Ion Armor.

If you keep your activity points in the area that a colony resides greater than the amount of points the alien colony and general USO activity can generate, the country should be perfectly happy with your progress. (5 points a day vs. whatever you get from any ships in the area - 1 supply ship should just about cover the whole month). Losing the country could be caused by infiltration, which is not activity point based. It just happens.

Still, losing the country is no big loss - the money, experience and equipment you earn from the supply ship generally outdoes the funding in any case.

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#5 Kereminde

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 10:39 PM

But if you lose enough countries, you lose the game. Somehow, I've had an immense score but lost countries due to infiltration or maybe colonies . . . poof. Game over, despite having an excellent position to fight from. It's hard.

And I don't plan on Superhuman. I want a challenge THAT HARD I'll play NetHack again.

#6 NKF

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 11:38 PM

When you've played superhuman a bit, you kind of forget that there are easier difficultly levels. :D

You don't quite lose the game when lots of countries withdraw. There's more to it. An old thread in the UFO section discusses it in detail: http://www.xcomufo.c...?showtopic=7679

A quote from Zombie in that thread roughly sums it up:

From what I can determine, it does not matter if you lose countries. Aside from the loss of funding, the aliens cannot penalize you any more than they already have.

There are four ways to lose the game in X-COM:
1) Stay in debt of over $1 million for two months in a row,
2) Have two consecutive bad scoring months,
3) All X-COM bases are captured by the aliens, or
4) Fail to win the 2 Cydonian missions.
That's it, nowhere does the OSG mention that if all countries switch sides then the game is over.


I've prolonged some of my games, and have lost a number of countries to the aliens. Interestingly enough, the aliens are smart enough to re-infiltrate countries that have already withdrawn funding. A time wasting exercise that probably won't mpact you much besides the area activity score.

- NKF
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