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My Game: Terror Missions


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#1 Kereminde

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 05:16 PM

Terror Missions. These are what you cannot, MUST NEVER, let pass. It hurts your funding, first of all. Secondly, this is the only time certain aliens will come out of hiding for your research aid. One of which you NEED to have alive. They can be frustrating, because all the AI controlled civilians will often just wander into lines of fire or areas with aliens hiding. There are three kinds of terror missions, and two aren't SO bad. One is long, difficult, and buggier than a beekeeper's backyard. And all of them are above water and thus some of your starting arsenal will not function (along with some higher-end weaponry) Here's some information about what you'll be seeing.

Aquatoids and Deep Ones. Easiest of the groups to take out, at first. Later on you might encounter some M.C. use sprinkled into the mix, but Aquatoids make nice targets. Deep Ones have a corrosive arcing attack which is not terribly accurate but will kill you if it hits. They are why you take Gas Cannons around early on; they will be your first experience with armored units, even if it is light armor. Harpoons won't work so well, and Dart Guns are rather ineffective.

Gill Men and Deep Ones. Easy. Gill Men are smarter than Aquatoids and seem to clump together more often. They also have Deep Ones along for the ride, but this isn't much different than the above mission. Except you have nothing to fear from M.C. here. Just roll in and hunt them down.

Lobstermen and Bio-Drones. Now you're getting unfair. These missions seem to exist solely to draw you to a surface attack and destroy you. Much of the time, that seems to be the goal of the enemies rather than chasing civilians; within five turns you will find many of the enemies converging on your location and dropping grenades on you. Bio-Drones are a big hazard. DO NOT ATTACK unless they are safely away from civilians as they explode on death with the range of a Sonic Pulser.

First, there are Port Attacks; these are set on a tarmac and with a few buildings scattered around. Sometimes there's watchtowers where aliens climb and play sniper from. Always there are one of the following structures: red-brick warehouse (usually an alien in here hiding around which will be hard to flush out), three-story administration building (almost always an alien inside somewhere, often multiple aliens) and the port docks themselves. The docks are fenced off and take up the last 5-7 tiles of the right side. Aliens hiding here love to sit in the upper or lower corners where you can't see them except for head-on . . . and they get reaction shots before you can see them. If it's a merciful mission, this will be a Thermal Shok Launcher and you can prepare for it. Overall these missions aren't as frustrating because it's a lot of open space between buildings offering a decent sweeping strategy.

Secondly, you have Island Attacks. Trickier, as they seem to happen more towards night-time and with the bad night visibility you have . . . it becomes much harder. You're in a tourist trap set of small cabins or restaurants, sometimes with many hilly mounds to hide in or around. Aliens love the hills with burrows in them; it's a spiral which ends in a single square where again you will have a reaction shot at you if there's an alien there. It won't leave that spot, so you have to flush it out the hard way. The larger burrow seems to be more of a restroom but it can still be a bad experience with the blind corners going in. Overall, your task is going to be hindered by the terrain and the civilians seem really just there to wander towards firefights.

Shipping Lane attacks are the third type of Terror Mission, and are two-parters. Here you will see potentially new and deadly targets; this will be the first time you see Bio-Drones most likely. You will also face Tasloths or Lobstermen mixed with Aquatoids or Gill Men. The deadly new aliens you will face are Triscenes or Xarquids, either of which will kill you harshly. Triscenes are hardy, have lots of time units, and are the alien answer to your SWS units. Attack at a distance if possible, or just use high explosives (check your fire for civilians first!). Xarquids are squishier, but no less dangerous as they are highly accurate. The benefits of a Shipping Assault:

- You always seem to have the same first map. Think the front half of a cruise ship, and you're close.
- Civilians inside staterooms often stay inside, making them less likely to get killed in crossfires.
- There are multiple entry points for many of the rooms, so if you find a tough concentration of aliens you can usually formulate a good assault plan.
- There are two sorts of lower deck levels: cargo space or engine room. The Engine room is easier on you, but it's full of tight spaces where a Bio-Drone will murder some unfortunate Aquanaut. The Cargo Hold is going to be an exercise in frustration as some boxes open up . . . and the aliens are all over the place. Good news is large and well-lit rooms . . . and they become fairly easy to sweep.

The bugs? Well . . . sometimes the freezer area in the first ship area is inaccessible for some reason; you can open the door but NOT enter. Almost always this means the last alien is inside. The same bug makes it nigh impossible to explode a wall open to access; I've tried a Sonic Pulser and had it do nothing but kill two civilians for my trouble. The good news is after some time it seems to just "go away" but by then you're likely to get shot up on entering. You can see through the French Doors to map out a room, but you cannot see enemies through them. So you need to open every single one to check it out, including closets . . . which means you can open it and stare a Triscene down for all of one second before it fries your unfortunate Aquanaut.

Overall, these aren't going to be too much fun and they will drive you mad. But they can be easier with practice and some foreplanning.

#2 NKF

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 05:33 AM

Aquatoids are paired with Calcinites. The terrorist unit that is cleverly disguised as an aquanaut that it is indistinguishable from your own.

Well, okay it's a rusty brown. And it's wearing its helmet while all of your aquanauts have taken theirs off. Yes, very cleverly disguised indeed! :D It's only got a melee attack, but its high TUs and moderate reactions mean that it moves fast. Very fast. Sort of like a neutered tentaculat.

Also an interesting thing to note about the shipping lane terror mission and the Xarquid. It's normally an under-water only terror unit (that replaces whatever land based terror units that may have been on board at the time), however it will appear on land during ship terror missions.

On port or island terror missions: GC-Phosphor shells are your friend. Not only do they work better on land than they do in water, they can be used to set alight any potential sniper points on the map. The railroad station with the storage room on the top level often has a sniper or two that can be very annoying. Set fire to the storage room and scoot off and do something else while the flames do their work. On island resort missions, the same can be done with the main hotel building. No worries - it's insured. ;) Phosphor rounds can also help flush out or just inconvenience aliens in the bomb bunker under the easter island heads, although there isn't too much fuel for the fire to work with.

- NKF

Edited by NKF, 26 April 2008 - 05:34 AM.

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#3 Kereminde

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 09:12 AM

Yeah, I was writing this late and usually saw Deep Ones with Aquatoids instead of Calcinites. Silly me.

I don't use the esoteric ammo that much, because I don't invest in X-Com standard/starting equipment. No, I go for the Sonic as soon as I have samples to study. It serves me well, and I highly recommend anyone arm their team with Blasta-Rifles until the Tasloths and Lobstermen show up. But if it works, hey, I won't suggest my way over yours. I just do it my way out of habit.

(Now, playing UFO: Enemy Unknown, Terror Missions have me in screaming fits because it feels like I'm shooting spitwads out of the rifles . . . taking three hits to down a Sectoid seems ludicrous. ON DIFFICULTY 1!)

The Xarquid is on shipping lanes. I got surprised by that myself. I can only assume it's a bug in the enemy code (there's a lot of that going around on shipping; Bio-Drones self-destructing for no reason?).

Dealing with the Calcinite:

Calcinite - Calcinites look like old fashioned diving suits. Or a rust-and-orange Aquanaut above water. They use melee attacks only, no grenades, but are quick buggers. Don't let them close because they can destroy an unarmored team. (Aqua Plastic Armor is unarmored, you know.) Armored, Harpoons won't usually take them down without some hits. Anything heavier works like a charm, if I recall correctly. Gauss is effective and you might have some laying around.

(Gauss Weapons are such an improvement over Laser Weapons, I noticed. A little weak in the late game but seemingly more accurate than Laser equivalents.)

#4 NKF

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 04:33 PM

I'm quite partial to the sonic pistol myself. It's like a miniature heavy gauss, only better. It's no submachinegun like the Gauss pistol, but it's still the fastest of the sonic weapons. It's just a pity the aliens discard it later on in favour of the Sonic Cannon.

Of all the equipment you can buy, most of the conventional firearms aren't particularly remarkable, but the gas cannon is an exception. It's a major step above UFO's Heavy Cannon, and it can still hold its own when you're using the Gauss weapons.

I usually kit half my squad with them at the start as they are that good - even in the late game I carry at least one on the sub. They can kill practically anything except the lobstermen, but that's thanks to their ridiculous damage resistance. Even so, a concentrated HE shell attack will kill a lobsterman - but that's an ammo wasting exercise.

One amazing ability of the HE shells that makes me bring it along into the later battles is to be able to fire up at ceilings - the blast goes through and hits everything above even if the floor survives (there's no back blast so there's no worry even if the ceiling is immediately above you). A must-have in terror sites if some bright spark suddenly decides to destroy the stairs! ;)

As for the weapon comparisons between laser and gauss, you're right. The autoshots for the gauss weapons are slightly more accurate at the cost of a bit of firing speed.

- NKF
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#5 Kereminde

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 10:37 PM

re: Sonic Pistol - Yes I loved it early on, it served my squad very well. Very accurate, very fast, and it was easier to research than Blasta Rifles. But once the Tasloths and Lobstermen come out it's not as useful to have as a primary weapon. However, I keep one guy with one and a Taser for scouting about. He spots enemies, and if they're in his face *ZAP*. Otherwise, the squad lends supporting fire and we roll on.

re: HE-Shells - It's a good thought. But once you have an energy-based weapon (Gauss or Sonic) you can shoot up through floors/ceilings anyway. I do like Gas Cannons but as I sprint right for Gauss Rifles near the start as a moneymaking idea (and sometimes I DO get that far before capturing a Sonic Pistol for research)

#6 NKF

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 11:50 PM

It's their direct-fire area-effect nature that keeps GC-HE handy. At least, not unless you want to abuse the 'throw grenades through ceiling' trick. Then again, there are the thermal shok bombs that can double as direct-fire area-effect weapons, though you can run through them very quickly. You might want to give it another shot - in the hands of a veteran it's quite formidable, and if you're wearing Ion Armor, you won't even feel the backlash from a point blank shot.

The sonic pistol and blasta rifle are very close together in stats, bar a speed/ammo and accuracy/damage tradeoff, so they fare pretty much the same against all but the lobstermen (a 5 vs 4 average shot difference). The difference is nothing as drastic as the Sonic cannon though. I just wish the aliens continued to carry them into battle.

- NKF
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