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Builds and TacticsEdit

Suggested builds suitable for all difficulties and DLCs:

Main article: Squad Tactics (XCOM: Enemy Unknown)

Assault Class Edit

Vanguard SoldierEdit

Early-game "pointman" build (1-2 months):

Skills
Tactical Sense, Lightning Reflexes, Flush, Close Combat Specialist, Resilience
Equipment
Respirator Implants, S.C.O.P.E., Laser Rifle, Skeleton Suit
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Mimetic Skin
Tactics

Trips Overwatch hot zones and flushes foes out of high cover. This allows for Advancing Cover and Squadsight kills.

Close Quarters SoldierEdit

Mid-game "breacher" build (3-4 months):

Skills
Aggression, Close and Personal, Rapid Fire, Close Combat Specialist, Resilience
Equipment
S.C.O.P.E., Chitin Plating, Alloy Cannon, Ghost Armor
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Ammo Conservation, S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade, Mimetic Skin, Hyper Reactive Pupils
Tactics

Aggression will always give a minimum 10% boost to critical chance. If that doesn't kill the target, Close Combat Specialist will provide yet another shot should the target moves (which if flanked will most likely move).

Psi-Rifleman SoldierEdit

Late-game "lineman" build (5+ months):

Skills
Aggression, Lightning Reflexes, Rapid Fire, Bring 'Em On, Killer Instinct
Equipment
S.C.O.P.E., Chitin Plating, Light Plasma, Ghost Armor or Psi Armor
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Ammo Conservation, S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade, Mimetic Skin, Hyper Reactive Pupils, Mindfray, Psi Panic, Mind Control
Tactics

Light Plasma-only designed to compliment Alloy Cannon-build (see above), as they both works very well together with this build. Allows Rifleman to excel in mid range shootouts against numerous lesser enemies or mind-controlling high-valued targets. The key point in this tactic is making excellent use of fireteam discipline.

Lightning Reflexes provides the flexibility to seek out good cover for this without fearing enemy reaction fire. Use Heavies to break cover and wipe out groups with a hail of accurate, medium damage gunfire from long range without having to flank and potentially alert extra groups.

Heavy ClassEdit

Main article: Squad Tactics (XCOM: Enemy Unknown)

Heavy Class builds suitable for all difficulties and DLCs:

Anti-Tank SoldierEdit

Early-game "rocketeer" build (1-2 months):

Skills
Bullet Swarm, Shredder Rocket, HEAT Ammo, Danger Zone, Rocketeer
Equipment
Respirator Implants, Chitin Plating, Laser LMG, Skeleton Suit
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Blaster Launcher, Mimetic Skin
Tactics

Your universal panic button. The absolute best "insurance policy" on missions with large quantities of Hardened foes, especially in harder modes. Danger Zone + Shredder guarantees the death of lesser enemies. Bullet Swarm + HEAT Ammo brings significant firepower against Cyberdiscs and Mechtoids.

Automatic SoldierEdit

Mid-game "lockdown" build (3-4 months):

Skills
Holo-Targeting, Suppression, Rapid Reaction, Danger Zone, Mayhem
Equipment
S.C.O.P.E., Chitin Plating, Heavy Plasma, Titan Armor
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Ammo Conservation, S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade, Mimetic Skin, Hyper Reactive Pupils
Tactics

Designed for close quarters combat against Chryssalids and Zombies: Danger Zone + Mayhem and Heavy Plasma, suppression deals a guarantee 3 damage in a small 2-radius area (equivalent to a Frag Grenade). Holo Targeting triggers with Suppression to give a much needed Aim boost against Sectopods, which have 40 passive Defense. (Note: Shaojie Zhang is particularly effective at this role.)

Psi-Grenadier SoldierEdit

Late-game "utility" build (5+ months):

Skills
Bullet Swarm, Suppression, HEAT Ammo, Grenadier, Rocketeer
Equipment
Alien Grenade / Ghost Grenade / Flashbang Grenade (x4), Heavy Plasma, Ghost Armor
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Ammo Conservation, S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade, Alien Grenades, Mimetic Skin, Hyper Reactive Pupils, Mindfray, Psi Panic, Mind Control
Tactics

Addition of the Ghost and Flashbang grenades maximizes combat efficiency and adapting options in terms of actions, being no longer limited to strictly extra/redundant destructive potential, while still having decent firepower. Utilizes multiple utility grenades to become much more versatile support gunners, and frees up item slots for supports to carry Medikits and Arc Throwers. The key point in this tactic is making excellent use of fireteam discipline

Bullet Swarm allows Grenades, Suppression, or Mind Control to be used after firing. Grenadier provides four Alien Grenades that can be unleashed after moving or firing. (That's a total of 24 damage, which is more than all 3 rockets combined!) Throwing grenades does not break Mimetic Skin's cloak if enemies do not have line of sight; the small radius helps ensure minimal collateral to EXALT and UFO equipment.


Sniper ClassEdit

MobileEdit

Mobile snipers use their "Snapshot" ability for hit-and-run tactics, where they outflank enemies engaged by the rest of the squad and gun them down. "Gunslinger" is a questionable choice for this setup because mobile snipers have an option to retreat from too-near target and engage them in one turn. "Damn Good Ground" is more preferable, because mobile snipers suffer an accuracy penalty from "Snapshot" after moving. "Battle Scanner" is also helpful to plan moves in advance, as mobile snipers can engage only targets in their own view zone and the scanner can be used to scout the area without alerting the enemy. However, the scanner's field of view is separate from that of the sniper, and the soldier still needs to approach the targets, and thus alert them, to make an actual shot.

The key point of this tactic is to master outflanking without putting your sniper at risk.

Advantages: Mobile, can shoot with the rifle in almost any circumstances.

Disadvantages: More dangerous for the soldier, less accurate.

StationaryEdit

Stationary snipers use "Squadsight" to bring heavy punishment from afar. Using this tactic, stationary snipers select a "nest" with good view and remain in it, shooting at targets spotted by squadmates. "Gunslinger" is helpful for this spec, as stationary snipers can't move and shoot with the rifle and are forced to use the pistol when out of the nest. The combination of "Squad Sight" and "Battle Scanner" can allow "free shots" on exposed enemies, as the scanner can be thrown at extreme distance, covers a wide area and doesn't alert the enemy.

Additionally, if a sniper with both Squad Sight and Battle Scanner is also given "In The Zone", one of the two final tier perks, the combination becomes quite powerful. Used wisely, each of the two available uses of Battle Scanner, combined with a forward scout (moved forward after the use of Battle Scanner, and ideally with Ghost Armor equipped and activated) will allow a sniper with that specific selection of perks to potentially eliminate an entire squad of enemies. This is also a very efficient way to deal with Sectopods. Sending a scout forward for the first half of their turn, hitting them with your sniper, the pulling your scout back so the cannot hit him/her. This can also allow you to bait enemies into advancing unto the rest of your squad who can use overwatch to defeat them.

However, be aware that the first shot will alert the enemy group, causing them to scatter and potentially moving out of the Battle Scanner's Line of Sight (LOS). Therefore, choose the location to drop the Battle Scanner wisely, keeping in mind the LOS considerations, and attempt to deny a suspected enemy squad at that location any opportunity to do so.

The key point in this tactic is finding the best spot to sit, which is often the highest point on the current map with the fewest LOS obstructions, and changing locations at the correct times.

Advantages: Stays out of harm, accurate.

Disadvantages: Bad mobility, bad performance on the move or vs close targets. Floaters can exploit a lone sniper far from friends (Can be mostly countered by leaving someone back with your sniper, like your medic, but this removes their firepower from the fight).


At impossible/classic difficulty, the sniper class is your carry. Like carries in other games, he starts off as one of the most useless, weakest classes, and by the end carries the team to victory. Highly promoted snipers with elevated positions (or in flight at high altitude) can safely pick off targets in complete safety, without alerting additional packs of aliens, while your squad only has to not die for a couple turns. Before Squadsight, you have to do everything you can to get kills and promotions to your snipers. Keep them in the safest cover, have them take first crack at any enemy that will be focus fired, have them use grenades to get the last hits if you have to. Sniper promotions > Alien Research, weapon fragments, everything. From there, build the right side of the sniper promotion tree. The must-haves are Squadsight, Damn Good Ground, and Opportunist. Keep soaking up the XP on the snipers, because with proper positioning they will rarely ever be at risk and so the XP they pick up will never be wasted. Even if everything goes wrong and everyone dies except your snipers, they are generally so far away from the battle that you can just return to the LZ, evac, and the squad can still function, rookies in front as bait instead of vets and snipers still picking everything off. At this point, begin every mission by getting the highest ground; not only is there bonus visibility, huge sight lines, a natural defense and accuracy bonus, but 'Damn Good Ground' increases many of the bonuses further. If you Overwatch here, you can engage patrolling aliens at great advantage, then after they are dealt with, your squad can move through all the sight lines of the snipers to clear the stationary groups. Now you can clear the camping aliens inside UFOs and buildings without any fear of alerting additional packs, meaning your assaults can dominate in CQB using run and gun liberally without fear while they flank around. Furthermore, you can also use explosives to give snipers sight lines to support the cleanup operation in a pinch. 

In the Sniper as a carry method, the Colonel promotion is a tough choice. Double tap allows you to wound multiple high health enemies without always killing them outright. As EXP would be wasted on your Colonel sniper, this is ideal to rapidly dole out promotions out to the rest of your squad. In The Zone is safer as it prevents being overwhelmed, especially in terror missions or when paired with explosives, but every time In The Zone triggers it is a waste of EXP, unless a vet on the battlefield would die without such help. It is also less effective against large targets. Once you grant Double Tap to your one Colonel sniper (generally your first), and In The Zone to another Colonel sniper, you have won the game no matter what the rest of the squad looks like. The carry technique is the secret to how players emerge victorious in Ironman/Impossible runs despite 30+ XCOM soldiers in the memorial.

With Stationary Snipers (obviously with Squadsight), always move last. That way you can ensure you can react and potentially save teammates who discover aliens but have missed their shot or ran out of actions to be taken. After everyone else took their turns, it's up to you to decide whether to choose Overwatch or to move the sniper to another position.

Covert OpsEdit

Early-game "doubletap" build (1-2 months):

Skills
Squadsight, Gunslinger, Disabling Shot, Opportunist, Double Tap
Equipment
S.C.O.P.E., Respirator Implant, Skeleton Suit
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Mimetic Skin
Tactics

The best General Purpose Sniper Build. All-round great sniping performance and not completely helpless when moving. Can also function as Covert Operative due to Gunslinger and Double Tap allowing two high damage shots. 

An unconventional build, but if you're very tight on cash and you need some firepower before those laser weapons are ready, or you simply hate sniper rifles but want to make use of those surplus Snipers in your barracks, consider this build. With normal pistols, Gunslinger deals a minimum of 3 damage on hit, which is actually more than normal rifles (2 damage). This means that unless you're playing on Impossible, this build terminates Sectoids with rapidity. Same goes for Thin Men with Laser Pistol. However, this build remains fairly flexible and useful in late game with all three Improved Pistol upgrades researched. It's one of the better Covert Operative builds as a Sniper's very high Aim combined with a Plasma Pistol will allow your Sniper to deal a minimum 5 damage every shot, which is comparable in both firepower and accuracy to Light Plasma Rifle, but with half the manufacturing cost and zero reloading. All this plus extreme range Overwatch with Squadsight + Opportunist coupled with Low Profile you're looking at perhaps the cheapest (because you should have at least one free Plasma Pistol from a captured Sectoid) and most reliable damage dealer you can have in mid game.

Force ReconEdit

Mid-game "snapshot" build (3-4 months):

Skills
Snap Shot, Damn Good Ground, Battle Scanner, Executioner, In The Zone
Equipment
S.C.O.P.E., Plasma Sniper Rifle, Ghost Armor
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Mimetic Skin
Tactics

Mobile scout-sniper that can actively hunts and terminates low health targets and move to safety in one turn. Best to have this build after getting a Squadsight Sniper. The -10 Aim will be neutralized with S.C.O.P.E., and Executioner simply gives a better chance at killing targets and trigger In The Zone. This build benefits a lot from Grappling Hook in Skeleton or Ghost Armor, which also boosts movement speed. Excels in Council Missions where enemies (usually Thin Men) will drop in, often outside of cover, and the hunter can pick off targets at its area, move to another spot, and continues the streak, and move again to cover. Also great in Terror Site missions where it is possible to get flanked from the side and the Squadsight Sniper has no vision on one side without moving. Generally good at indoor missions or when inside buildings where your Sniper may need to move around a lot. 

Designated MarksmanEdit

Latey-game "in the zone" build (5+ months):

Skills
Squadsight, Damn Good Ground, Disabling Shot, Opportunist, In The Zone
Equipment
S.C.O.P.E., Plasma Sniper Rifle, Archangel Armor
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Mimetic Skin
Tactics

Late game dominance sniper, designed to terrorize lesser beings. This all-out Guardian Angel Sniper will have all round vision and will terminate all weaklings that tend to come with tougher targets, such as the Drones with a Cyberdisc or a Sectopod, Sectoids alongside a Mechtoid, Mutons beside the Berserker, and so on, before letting loose a disabling shot at the stronger target. This build is designed purely for Archangel Armor and works best with Plasma Sniper Rifle. Extremely powerful in open area.


Support ClassEdit

Main article: Squad Tactics (XCOM: Enemy Unknown)

Support Class builds suitable for all difficulties and DLCs:

Combat Medic SoldierEdit

Early-game "savior" build (1-2 months):

Skills
Sprinter, Field Medic, Revive, Dense Smoke, Savior
Equipment
Medikits, Arc Thrower, Laser Rifle, Skeleton Suit
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Improved Medikit, Improved Arc Thrower, Mimetic Skin, Lead By Example
Tactics

Four Savior Medikits and a Dense Smoke Grenade helps ensure the squad's mission success, increases efficiency of alien captures and meld recovery, and remains versatile for any situation. Even early game, the medic can still be trained and equipped so that it can be effective late game.

Field Engineer SoldierEdit

Mid-game "sentinel" build (3-4 months):

Skills
Covering Fire, Smoke and Mirrors, Rifle Suppression, Dense Smoke, Sentinel
Equipment
Arc Thrower, Ghost Grenades, Light Plasma Rifle, Ghost Armor
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Drone Capture, S.H.I.V. Repair, Mimetic Skin, Lead By Example
Tactics

Ideal for squads consisting of 1-3 Heavies / M.E.C.s for breaking cover, and 2-4 S.H.I.V.s for high-risk scouting and suppression. Three Dense Smoke protects the S.H.I.V.s as they absorb enemy fire. An Arc Thrower keeps the S.H.I.V.s and MECs propped up. Rifle Suppression deals with multiple tough enemies in a mission. Ghost Grenades, Sentinel and Covering Fire performs flawlessly against enemy flankers.

Covering fire alone is not much. But if you combine it with an Assault who has Lightning Reflexes, now that's a whole different story. It gives some real depth to the class system.  Support on overwatch at key points and then go in with assault revealing enemies it works wonders. There is nothing more satisfying than watching an enemy get revealed and then get auto-blown up without getting a chance to do anything.

Psi-Guardian SoldierEdit

Late-game "trainer" build (5+ months):

Skills
Sprinter, Smoke and Mirrors, Rifle Suppression, Combat Drugs, Savior
Equipment
Medikits, Flashbangs, Light Plasma Rifle, Psi Armor
Upgrades
Tactical Rigging, Mimetic Skin, Psi Inspiration, Mind Control, Lead By Example, Star of Terra
Tactics

Specifically designed for promoting Rookies and Squaddies during Scout crash site missions and Covert Operations against EXALT. Combat Drugs and Psi Inspiration counteracts Psi-attacks and panic-induced Intimidate. Two Savior Medikits, Flashbangs, and Suppression are vital against tougher targets, locking them down and letting Rookies engage in "live-fire target practice".

MEC TrooperEdit

Ultimately, a MEC Trooper should be built to suit the player's play style and complement the abilities of the squad. A MEC Trooper built in the early game can still be trained in a way so that it can be effective late game. An understanding of the capabilities of the player's squad and the various builds and abilities of MEC Troopers is required before choosing any build.

Engaging Psionic Enemies

Players should be careful with their MEC(s) when fighting psionic foes (Sectoid Commanders, Ethereals) who possess the Mind Control ability. MEC Troopers have no pistol option to switch to, and pack a lot of firepower. Thus, having a Mind Controlled MEC is a highly dangerous proposition, and is made all the more possible by the fact that they cannot equip Mind Shields or be gene modded with Neural Damping. Thus, it may be advisable to augment soldiers with high Will to make Mind Control more difficult.

When a MEC Trooper is at high risk of being Mind Controlled, there are the options of emptying the MEC's primary weapon using Collateral Damage or simply firing at the psionic enemy in question, to deprive the MEC Trooper of some offensive options should it be mind controlled. It may be easier if MEC Troopers simply remain near the Squad Leader (preferably Psionic coupled with Lead By Example) and out of a psionic enemy's Line of Sight until ready to dash in for a kill.

MEC Squad Leader

Using Shaojie Zhang, it is plausible to create a very high Will MEC Trooper that exploits Lead By Example. Example: 16 (Iron Will OTS) + 90 Will (Colonel base) + 20 Will (MEC-3 Paladin bonus) = 126 Will total will be boosted for other soldiers.

Warden Tanking

Absorption Fields ability seems dubious due to the high HP of MECs, but it is very powerful when combined with Damage Control, Repair Servos, a MEC-1 Warden and 6-HP Colonel MEC Trooper. Do not research Shaped Armor. Since this build is intended to deal with late-game heavy hitters - especially the dreaded Sectopod - the Kinetic Strike Module is more useful than the flamethrower. Without Hidden Potential, the only way to get a 6-HP colonel is to use a sniper in Impossible difficulty. A Sectopod's accompanying Drones can damage the Warden faster than the Sectopod itself can, so either capture or eliminate these nuisances quickly.

Sniper MEC TrooperEdit

Use a Sniper as the MEC Trooper base:

Skills
Platform Stability, Advanced Fire Control, Vital-Point Targeting, Jetboot Module, Expanded Storage, and Reactive Targeting Sensors
Equipment
Flamethrower, Grenade Launcher and Proximity Mine Launcher
Upgrades
Advanced Servomotors, Jellied Elerium, Shaped Armor
Tactics
MEC Trooper jetboots to high ground with good fields of fire, and remains stationary while firing explosives. Overload allows your main weapon to fire twice, with two bonus damage per shot and 10% extra hit/crit chance. Overwatch accuracy is also boosted, along with giving it free reaction fire to a target that fires back.

Assault MEC TrooperEdit

Use an Assault as the MEC Trooper base:

Skills
Shock-Absorbent Armor, Advanced Fire Control, Damage Control, Jetboot Module, Expanded Storage, Absorption Fields
Equipment
Kinetic Strike Module, Restorative Mist, Electro Pulse
Upgrades
Advanced Servomotors, MEC Close Combat, Shaped Armor
Tactics
MEC Trooper rushes close-quarters with either Kinetic Strike or Electro Pulse, and primarily uses its main weapon, firing twice per turn, while still getting a (3rd) free reaction shot. The MEC will have incredible mobility, improved ammo storage, and the ability to stun Sectopods and kill Sectopods and Mechtoids in one turn. Everything about this build is oriented toward late-game dominance.
The Kinetic Strike Module with the Absolutely Critical Second Wave option enabled guarantees a critical hit every time. The punch does 18 damage, which can be upgraded to 27 with two uses per turn by MEC Close Combat.

Heavy MEC TrooperEdit

Use an Heavy as the MEC Trooper base:

Skills
Body Shield, Automated Threat Assessment, Damage Control, One For All, Expanded Storage, Reactive Targeting Sensors
Equipment
Flamethrower, Grenade Launcher, Proximity Mine Launcher
Upgrades
Advanced Servomotors, Jellied Elerium, Shaped Armor
Tactics

MEC Trooper is optimized for early game dominance. The defense abilities allow this MEC to avoid and/or shrug-off early game attacks with impunity. The area-based attacks are enough to kill or cripple most early and mid-game enemies. However, late game (even with upgrades), the player will find both this MEC's damage and defense options waning when compared to alternatives.

Support MEC TrooperEdit

Use an Support as the MEC Trooper base:

Skills
Distortion Field, Automated Threat Assessment, Vital-Point Targeting, One For All, Expanded Storage, Reactive Targeting Sensors
Equipment
Flamethrower, Restorative Mist, Proximity Mine Launcher
Upgrades
Advanced Servomotors, Jellied Elerium, Shaped Armor
Tactics

MEC Trooper supports allies by provoking enemy fire. Nearby allies should be in cover and distorted. Concentrate fire on higher threat targets, while leaving the MEC's squadmates to take care of the weaker enemies before aiding the MEC. Only use this MEC if you need a tight squad. You will be able to take out Chryssalid "Zerg rushes" with flamethrowers.

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