Luck vs. tactics in XCOM, which matters more?

#1 Posted by jpnelson82 (94 posts) -

Back in the ancient days of the 133MHz P1 chip and the A drive there were games called Panzer General, Allied General, Fantasy General, Pacific, and probably a few more I'm forgetting. My memory of the games is primarily one of luck mattering more than unit stats or tactics, or anything else short of weight of numbers, maybe. In these games I had zero luck, even my entire army could not dislodge Italian regulars from Sidi Barani, despite my technological and statistical superiority. Squadrons of fighters, whole regiments of infantry, and tanks in their dozens would fall to the Italians. That experience put me off turn based strategy games, and I got into RTS games like the original Warcraft, and Tides of Darkness. Now, along comes XCOM, and I'm older and I've since learned a fair bit about small unit tactics and the like from real world experts, field manuals, instructional videos, and I'm curious, is luck still as relevant as it was back then or will real world tactics beat the luck factor? 

#2 Posted by ryadings (2 posts) -

It's all about luck. There is no tactic involved other than "Don't stand in the open" or throwing the occasional grenade/firing a rocket. I've had soldiers (end-game!) miss aliens right in front of them when they had limited cover on the OPPOSITE side. Or have 4 people miss their shots of opportunity on a moving target on several occasions, which is pretty much ridiculous as I usually had 80+% on aliens that had no cover. So ... luck is necessary.

 

PS: You should have used artillery/ships/bombers to soften up those Italians before going in with Infantry or even better Engineers.

#3 Posted by thrice00 (951 posts) -

Or the really fun ..... i got crit behind 2 walls. Not sure how tactics can prevent that.

But still i think both matter. You need to play well an get lucky.

#4 Posted by Agarwel (85 posts) -

Well it is kind of both. Basically each shot can hit/miss and you have no idea what the result will be. Only on rare occasions like you are standing right next to the target, you have 100percent hit.

On the other hand, the enemy AI is using some patterns in behaviour (for example they can not attack you the same turn they spot you.) So there are "tactical" ways how to exploit it. basically the imiportant element is to have your first soldier that moves to spot the enemy. And then use the rest of the squad to finish him/them before his turn begins. Or even better is if enemy spottes you during his turn. Then you can use all your action to aliminate them. The tricky part is to move slowly and carefully. Do not encounter enemy with your last moving soldiers (enemy will have big advantage) and do not spot many enemies at once (so do not explore to vide are during same turn - even if you see just one enemy, be carefull how you approach him. There is nothing worse than agro 4 more before you kill this one)

The problem with this strategy is - it is too slwo and kind of boring :-/ But if you play faster (exploring little bit of map with all units. Not just move the first a little bit. and then make sure rest of them will jsut move behind this unit.) than the luck play huge role. If you spot two groups of enemies with your last moving unit, half of your squad can die. If you spot these group with your first unit... you will probably leave without scratch. Considering you have no idea where the enemies are, it is eaghter about luck, ar about very slow, caerfull,surgiacal movements that are imho boring.

#5 Posted by Avenger1324 (16344 posts) -

Tactics matter more than luck.

Better tactics will put your soldiers behind better cover, reducing the chance of them getting hit, or preventing them being hit by criticals.

Better tactics has your soldiers close in on an enemy for a better chance to hit, or using skills at the right times to injure / disable / kill an enemy or get out of harms way.

Better strategy will have your soldiers protected by better armour or equipped with better guns.

Better strategy will bring along medics to heal your soldiers so fewer die or have major injuries.

Every shot has an element of randomness, but it's not toss a coin luck. Higher % chances hit more often, low % chances tend to miss more often, but your actions affect those numbers.

#6 Posted by jpnelson82 (94 posts) -

Or the really fun ..... i got crit behind 2 walls. Not sure how tactics can prevent that.

But still i think both matter. You need to play well an get lucky.

thrice00

I'm glad you asked, let me explain. 

I basically figure the Bundeswehr model is the best one for this game. The smallest independent unit in the Bundeswehr is 5 soldiers and called an Halb-Zug. An infantry Halb-Zug consists of one NCO, two riflemen,an LMG gunner, and gunner's aide with SMG. Translated into XCOM, that would be four assaults and one heavy. Infantry units revolve around the heaviest gun they have, in this case the LMG. if you have six soldiers, you'd go with the list above, and whatever unit type you desire. However, in the German model the sniper is there to support the Zug, but operates independently from it, so really in their model snipers make no sense in a unit of fewer than six. That's the sort of information I'm asking about, does knowing that sort of information help or is it a game, and game tactics are what you should use because luck is more important.

#7 Posted by F1tsy (21 posts) -

It's all about luck. There is no tactic involved other than "Don't stand in the open" or throwing the occasional grenade/firing a rocket. I've had soldiers (end-game!) miss aliens right in front of them when they had limited cover on the OPPOSITE side. Or have 4 people miss their shots of opportunity on a moving target on several occasions, which is pretty much ridiculous as I usually had 80+% on aliens that had no cover. So ... luck is necessary.

PS: You should have used artillery/ships/bombers to soften up those Italians before going in with Infantry or even better Engineers.

ryadings

Sorry to say, but i just think you´re b*ching over a specific situation now. These things CAN happen, yeah. But is more of an exception then a rule. Just because it happened once to you is no reason to say the game is flawed or inaccurate. Tactics along with a strong team, upgraded equipment, positioning and yeah, luck is part of the equation. Just like a well balanced game should be.

Edit: To be more specific in my criticism of your statement:

It´s all about luckryadings
No it´s not.

#8 Posted by dzimm (4651 posts) -

My memory of the games is primarily one of luck mattering more than unit stats or tactics, or anything else short of weight of numbers, maybe. In these games I had zero luck, even my entire army could not dislodge Italian regulars from Sidi Barani, despite my technological and statistical superiority.jpnelson82

You know what they say: luck favors those with a good plan.  If your entire game plan is being undone by a few turns of "bad luck", then I think it's safe to say that you didn't have a very good game plan in the first place.

#9 Posted by jpnelson82 (94 posts) -

Well, I did pick up XCOM and so far the game has been a lot more fair than Panzer General was, I have yet to see an entire halb-zug wiped out by a single sectoid, who just can't miss.