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The Bot Squad: Puzzle Battles - Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Better Bot Battling

Posted by Jordan Minor on October 21st, 2014

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Curious to know what we though about all this robot-on-robot carnage? Then check out our Bot Squad review!

The Bot Squad: Puzzle Battles offers nearly 200 stages based on its varied approach to tower defense. That’s pretty great, but it also means there are lots of strategies to master and the amount of options can be a little daunting. Here are some tips on how to save Dynamo City.

The Best Defense



The Bot Squad is separated into Defensive stages and Offensive stages. Defensive stages play more like typical tower defense games, and many of the same strategies apply, but they still have their own quirks.
  • To start, use standard Smacker and Blaster tower bots to weaken enemies that cross your paths. Always pay attention to the range of your units and try to cover as much ground as possible.

  • Sometimes it’s good to be redundant and have multiple towers clustered in the same area to kill enemies faster. It depends on the stakes.

  • Stop enemies in their tracks with Stoppabots like Blockers and Grabbers. Unlike towers though, these obstacles can be destroyed. They can also only be placed on certain terrain so be smart with them.

  • Certain levels provide a limited number of towers to take down a limited number of enemies. However, other stages have an unlimited supply of towers that spawn at set intervals. Enemies come fast and furious in these levels though, usually in big groups, so quickly put your extra power to use.

  • If a level already has a few towers, pick them up and rearrange them to forge a better defense.

Zombie Highway 2 - Tips, Tricks, Strategies, and Cheats for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. For a Bit.

By Lee Hamlet on October 10th, 2014
Hopefully these tips and hints will be enough to help see you that extra mile on the inevitably doomed journey down the aptly-named Zombie Highway.
Read The Full Review »

Six Dos and Don'ts for Taking Care of Your New iPhone 6

Posted by Nadia Oxford on September 25th, 2014

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It's the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, both of which hit North America on September 19.

As might be expected by this point, the iPhone 6 is an expensive chunk of technology. You need to talk to it softly, pat it gently, and reassure it as necessary. Here are six tips for taking good care of your new friend.

Also included: Blatant suggestions on what not to do with your phone, regardless of whatever that "fwd: fwd: fwd: READ THIS APPLE FANS!!!" email suggests.


How to Clean your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus


Image Source: LifeProof

DO: Use a soft, dry cloth. Like most open-face electronics, the iPhone 6 collects fingerprints as efficiently as a 12-year-old collects Pokemon.

DON'T: Use a scouring pad. Or a rock. Or your cat's fur. Do not spit on your screen and rub it in your shirt. Do not hand your iPhone to your child, for handing anything to a child is the exact opposite of cleaning it.

How to Charge your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus


DO: Use the provided Lightning cable. Plug it into a USB port, or use the prong extension to plug it into a wall socket. Proceed to twiddle your thumbs for the next hour or so.

DON'T: Use your microwave. Not unless you want to risk killing yourself in an inexplicable quest to own a stinking, molten chunk of plastic, aluminium, and circuitry. Seriously folks, just because a press release is written in Myriad typeface doesn't mean you should do what it says.

How to carry your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus


Image Source: The Mary Sue

DO: Purchase a protective case for your device; preferably an amusing retro tribute that resembles a Game Boy or an NES control pad. Keep your iPhone in a bag or purse pocket that's separate from coins, keys, and gremlins.

DON'T: Stick your iPhone 6 in your back pocket, as aluminum and bum-heat don't mix favorably (the validity of this rumor has yet to be debunked or verified by Snopes, but when is it ever a good idea to keep electronics in your back pocket, anyway? Hint: Never).

How to share your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus


DO: Be generous about letting your friends examine your iPhone 6. Understand their need to do so; touching an object is the most primal way of memorizing its texture, shape, and curves. You should probably stop any attempts to sniff or taste the iPhone, however.

DON'T: Hiss and rear back when your friends reach for your iPhone. Or, if you must do so, at least try and prevent your eyes from flashing yellow and constricting into cat-like slits.

ALSO DON'T: Hand your iPhone 6 to your child. We've already discussed why.

How to eat with your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus


Image Source: MacSkins

DO: Sit your iPhone up at the table, put a bib on it, and offer it a scone.

DON'T: Smear peanut butter between two phones and take a bite.

How to properly show off your iPhone or 6 Plus


DO: Lift up your phone slowly and carefully while humming the "Sunrise" theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Before presentation, review your position with the Earth's sun so that its rays may catch and glint off the sexy aluminum backing.

DON'T: Drop the bloody thing.

How to Completely Delete Your iPhone's Contents With iOS 8 Before Trading in for an iPhone 6

Posted by Rob Rich on September 18th, 2014

The iPhone 6 is out tomorrow, and plenty of people are excited about it. So much so that they're planning to - or already have - traded in their old iPhone to go towards it. The thing about trading in hardware is it's very important to make sure your personal information isn't still on there once it leaves your hands. You generally have nothing to worry about when going through reputable businesses, but these days it never hurts to make sure.

Chances are you'll have to wait a bit if you didn't already preorder your iPhone 6, and in the meantime you'll probably be updating to iOS 8. If so, you'll want to know how to clear all the data from your phone with the new iOS before you hand it off for a downpayment.

Guardians on the Go - How to Connect to and Make the Most of the Destiny Companion App

Posted by Rob Rich on September 16th, 2014

At this point I'm relatively certain most of the country is familiar with Destiny. And for those looking to augment their game a bit, Bungie has changed their Bungie Mobile Companion App to Destiny Companion.

Destiny Companion is meant to make it easier for you to monitor things like clan activity and special events from outside the game, and if you've got any Guardians of your own sitting at home it's probably something you should take a look at. But where to start?

Demand Better - Submitting for Reviews Without Being Taken for a Ride

Posted by Rob Rich on July 28th, 2014

Mobile apps and games have always had their share of problems, and it’s not going to stop any time soon. Exposure, pricing, cloning, advertising, cloning clones, freemium monetization, etc - there are a ton of little (and big) things to worry about every time you put something up on the App Store. Heck, simply getting noticed by review sites in the first place can be a monumental task.

The unfortunate reality is that there are no guarantees. Sometimes legitimately great apps and games will fade into obscurity before they even had a chance. It can be disheartening. It can be downright frustrating, even. Another unfortunate reality is that there are people out there who would use a developer’s desperation and frustration to make a quick buck.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, or know of a sure-fire way for you to get noticed, but I can tell you that paying a website to review your submission is wrong. Like “Do Not Pass GO” wrong. So I’d like to offer up some tips on how you can, at the very least, avoid wasting your money on a service no decent person would actually charge you for.

How To: Add a Lanyard or Wrist Strap to the iPhone Case

Posted by Jeff Scott on February 19th, 2014

Not so many years ago, every phone came with a built-in loop for attaching a wrist strap. Not so much any more. While there are a few cases that support a lanyard loop, not many still do. And there's the Netsuke from Poddities that adds a loop to the Lightning connector.

A lanyard or wrist strap can be a great feature for safety, especially in high "Apple Picking" crime areas like San Francisco, New York City, or just about any tourist destination worldwide. Not to mention it can help keep a phone from hitting the concrete when pulling it from a pocket.

Here's a quick and easy way to add a simple lanyard to the new iPhone case. I've done this with a few different cases now, and even look for cases to use that fit what is needed to do this. The main feature to look for in a case that this technique will work with is a very sturdy sidewall, made of hard plastic. It needs to be a sturdy build to keep the lanyard from cracking or tearing the case. A soft silicone type case won't work for this.

Choose a lanyard or wrist strap. A variety of them will work. There are probably a couple in the junk drawer left over from an old camera or maybe even an ancient cell phone. Make sure the loop part of the lanyard is at least an inch long to allow space to connect it. If there are none around, I'm a big fan of these from Rokform. Sturdy and just the right size for a wrist strap.

Next, I choose the side - either left or right. Both work. Choose the side that matches the hand the phone is usually held in. I usually hold my phone in my left hand, so I chose left.

Make two small holes about 1/2 inch apart on the side of the case using a 3/32" drill bit. This will leave enough space so that the case left between the holes won't easily break with a little tension. The spacing also needs to be small enough so that the loop part of the lanyard can go from one hole to the other and back.

When drilling, make sure to let the drill do the work; no need to push it through with force. Also, be careful to keep your fingers away from the drill bit and away from the back where the bit will emerge.

Next, loop the lanyard through the holes from the bottom outside through the back of the top hole. If the lanyard string is thicker, something like a paperclip will be needed to push the string through. Slide the lanyard through the loop and then insert the phone and ta-da, a lanyard on your iPhone! Simple and easy.

I have also successfully tried this on the Mophie Juice Pack Air Case, the Olloclip Flip Case, and the official Apple iPhone 5s case. As mentioned above, rubber or silicon cases don't work as they tear easily. If you chose to do this, make sure all common safety rules are followed and it's not our fault if you destroy your case, drill through your hand, or burn down your home.

Howto: Install Flappy Bird Even Though It's No Longer on the App Store

Posted by Jeff Scott on February 10th, 2014

Flappy Bird, the phenomenon of a game, has been pulled from the App Store by the developer Dong Nguyen. But, if you previously downloaded it you can still install it from the list of previously purchased items in the App Store, here's how.

• Launch the App Store on the device Flappy Bird needs to be installed on.
• On iPhone: Go to the updates tab, tap on Purchased at the top of the list.
• On iPad: Go directly to the Purchased tab.
• In the search bar, type Flappy Bird to narrow down the list of available apps.
• Click the iCloud download button.
• Flap, flap, flap your life away!

So Flappy Bird is gone, but not forgotten. Enjoy!

How To: Turn Emails into Reminders Using IFTTT

Posted by Carter Dotson on December 2nd, 2013

Often, incoming emails can feel like things to do - important items just kind of floating around the inbox until they're finished. Want to add these emails to the iOS Reminders app so that they can be dealt with in an important place? Well, this is possible by using IFTTT. Here's how to do just that.

First off, download IFTTT and register an account with the email address that you primarily want to forward items from. Now create a new recipe, which is what IFTTT calls the actions that it executes.

For starters, let's choose the Mail option. You can choose to forward all mail from your registered email address to the IFTTT trigger email address, or only emails tagged with a certain hashtag.

For the second part of the recipe, choose iOS Reminders. By default, this will add the email subject as a reminder to a list called IFTTT. However, that is an option that can be changed from the IFTTT recipes menu.

Tap on the recipe to open up its options, then tap Edit Recipe. From here you can configure what the reminder title will be, which list it will be added to by manually entering the name of the list, and what, if any, priority the reminder will have. Tap the blue plus sign next to an option to add in specific dynamic text like sender, body text, and more.

Now, if you use Gmail you should use the Gmail channel when setting up your recipe. This adds more options for what can trigger the IFTTT recipe. This can include emails from certain senders, emails with certain labels, starred emails, and more.

What the label trigger can do is make it easy to manage emails using Mailbox. Create a list in Mailbox with the title of your choice. Let's say it's Reminders. In IFTTT, have the label that the recipe is added to be [Mailbox]/Reminders. Now, whenever you add an email to that list in Mailbox, that will trigger IFTTT to add it to Reminders.

Now, you have a convenient spot to do things like send replies to emails once they are cleared from reminders. You can create a recipe in IFTTT to send emails when a reminder is completed in that list, but you might want to send more personal replies. Still, it is an option.

Hopefully this helps you get your inbox under a bit more control by utilizing IFTTT's powers of automation!

How To: Set Up and Use iCloud Keychain on iOS 7

Posted by Carter Dotson on November 27th, 2013

One of iOS 7's new features is the iCloud Keychain. What this allows is for passwords and credit cards stored in AutoFill to be shared between iOS devices and Safari on Mavericks so that you can easily retrieve them without needing to type them in again. It is also engineered to protect your data through an additional security key and two-factor authentication. Here's how to set it up, use it, and protect yourself.

iCloud Keychain can be set up when setting up a new device, when updating to a new iOS version, or from the iCloud menu in Settings. When setting up for the first time you'll be asked if you want to enable iCloud Keychain and to create a security code. By creating a security code, this will store the data in iCloud; if you don't create one it will still allow for data to be shared between devices, but it will not be stored in iCloud and you will need to authenticate a new device from another device with iCloud Keychain enabled on it. Authenticating from another device requires putting in the password to the iCloud account and choosing "Allow" on the dialog that appears.

To save a password or credit card to iCloud Keychain, just log in to a site or use a credit card in Safari. A dialog will pop up asking if you wish to save to the iCloud Keychain. Now, when you try to use a saved login or credit card from another device, Safari can automatically fill it in no matter where it was originally saved from.

It's important while using iCloud Keychain to have a passcode of some sort on your device. This treats you physically using your device as secure, so make sure that there's a security mechanism in place to ensure that your device is being used only by yourself or someone you trust. Otherwise someone can easily get access to your passwords and credit cards just by having your unprotected device.

What the security code for iCloud Keychain does is make it simple to sign in to the iCloud Keychain from a new device without needing to log in on that other device. This is a separate code or password from your login passcode, though it can be the same.

By default iCloud Keychain will prompt for a four-digit security key, though it's possible to either have an advanced security key that can contain letters and numbers, and/or one that is randomly-generated for complexity. If you forget this key, then you can use a second device in order to approve it. It also provides security so that even if someone compromises your iCloud account and wants to set up iCloud Keychain, they still can't get into your data unless they know the second password or if they have another device of yours that they also know the password to.

If you disable iCloud Keychain on a device by disabling it from the iCloud Settings, you can prompt to save the AutoFill data locally or erase it.

Hopefully this demystifies this very useful feature!

How To: Use AirDrop on iOS 7

Posted by Carter Dotson on November 18th, 2013

Apple has introduced a way to share files locally with other iOS users in iOS 7, called AirDrop. This allows for users to share photos, documents, and text with other iOS devices with ease. Here’s how to use it.

There are two important things to know about AirDrop: One, it only works with supported devices. These devices are oddly-selected: the original iPad mini can use AirDrop but the iPad 2 cannot despite identical - and technically slightly more powerful - internals. Two, this is different from AirDrop on the Mac despite being named the same, so don’t expect to send files from Mac to iOS.

To use AirDrop, it must first be enabled from Control Center. Swipe up from the bottom and tap on the AirDrop logo. Now, set it to Contacts Only or Everyone. Everyone will allow anyone within Bluetooth range to share files with you, whereas Contacts Only allows only people in your Contacts list to see you when sharing to AirDrop. Note that enabling AirDrop will turn on both wifi and Bluetooth.

To share a file via AirDrop, go to an app that uses the built-in iOS Sharing feature. This is generally indicated by an arrow pointing upward out of a rectangle. You should see the AirDrop description text first. After a short bit, any nearby AirDrop users will appear. They may need to have their device on and unlocked to be discovered. Tap on their picture that appears to share the file to them. Tap again to cancel.

On the receiving end of the AirDrop process, an alert will appear to Accept or Decline the AirDrop. If accepted, the AirDrop content will open up in the appropriate app.

Some uses of AirDrop include sharing photos from Photos, with the ability to share multiple at a time. All photos are saved to the Camera Roll.

Share contacts from Contacts – it’s possible to just temporarily view a contact card to call or email a person based on the contact info given (but not to FaceTime), or to save it to your contacts. This is great in lieu of business card trading. See a cool link in Safari? Share it with AirDrop.

You can share documents from iWork apps like Pages with others, in a variety of formats like PDFs.

More apps will start to use AirDrop as time goes on, particularly as it is an extremely handy way to send files without having to tap devices or share via the web!

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (and Enemy Within) - Tips, Tricks, Strategies, and Cheats For Beginner Commanders

Posted by Rob Rich on November 17th, 2013

Update: 11/13/2014
Since they're technically the same game, I've added tips for Enemy Within to our pre-existing guide for Enemy Unknown. All of the Enemy Within tips can be found towards the bottom of each category, and are denoted with a bullet point. You can also check out our Enemy Within review right here.

The X-Com series, particularly the earlier games, are notoriously unforgiving. Although while XCOM: Enemy Unknown has been modernized, and is therefore more player friendly, it’s no slouch either. In fact, even on the Normal difficulty there’s a good chance you’re going to get creamed if you try to breeze through it. But all is not lost. If you find that you’re losing soldiers at an alarming rate or keep getting the project disbanded because a bunch of countries freak out and leave, we've got a few tips you might want to consider.

Planning Tips

Facilities are essential. Your manufacturing and research abilities, as well as your satellites, all require the proper facilities to operate. Completing a terror mission to earn five engineers could be a waste if you don’t have enough workshop space to use them. And that could lead to falling perilously behind in the early game arms race.

Research, research, research. Don't neglect your scientists! The technologies they can uncover after studying alien corpses and weaponry are essential to giving your soldiers a fighting chance. By the same token, don't be afraid to take aliens alive. Assuming you can do so with relative safety. It allows you to recover their weapons intact, which can then be equipped on your soldiers or sold for a tidy profit.

Don't ignore the Council. You might prefer to spend your money and resources on better armor and weapons, but if you don't get a few satellites in orbit and ignore the Council's requests you stand to lose immense amounts of funding. Plus you can flat out lose if too many countries abandon the project.

Check your stores often. Sometimes you'll acquire items you don't need for research or manufacturing, and these can be sold off in bulk for a decent price. The same goes for alien tech and specimens you've fully researched. So long as it isn't Ellerium or alien alloys there's a good chance you won't need it for the long haul.

Build smart. Most facilities belong to one of a few different categories, such as energy production or satellite use. Whenever two facilities belonging to the same category are next to each other either horizontally or vertically (i.e. uplink next to an uplink, etc) they both get a bonus. This is a very good thing.

Pay attention to your upgrades. You won’t necessarily have the chance to develop all of them, but many of the projects you can produce at the Forge (once it’s available) can make a huge difference.

Consider holding off on major tasks. Despite all the open-endedness Enemy Unknown’s story does progress linearly. Every so often an urgent mission or task will appear, and once it’s completed the next phase of the story begins. While the alien forces will get more and more difficult to deal with over time, regardless of where you are in the story, there are benefits to keeping the plot in check. Namely it gives you the opportunity to research better equipment and gather more resources before the endgame.

  • Don't rush to build a Cybernetics Lab or a Genetics Lab right away. I know it'll be tempting to try out all those shiny new toys as soon as possible, but it will take you a while to collect enough Meld (the new alien substance you'll use to enhance your soldiers) for either one to be useful. You're better off focusing on keeping your squads well-equipped at the start - you can always build either (or both) structures later.

  • Both cybernetic and genetic augmentations take time, so plan accordingly. No matter if you're turning your soldiers into hulking death machines or enabling them to leap several stories into the air, you'll need to wait a few days - in addition to the upfront money and Meld costs, of course. You'll want to pace yourself so you don't end up with half (or more) of your best soldiers stuck in surgery or whatever when the aliens start a new terror campaign.

  • MECs don't use equipment. If you do ever turn a soldier into a MEC trooper, know that they won't be able to use any of their old equipment. If you plan to augment one or two of your soldiers and they happen to be using nice armor or weapons, you can pass them along to the others and save a few million bucks on production costs.


    Soldier Tips

    Pay close attention to soldiers' skills. Plan accordingly. Try to select skills that compliment each other, such as the heavy's Holo-Targeting (accuracy bonus to all squad members when firing on an enemy) and the sniper's Squad Sight (can target any enemy that other soldiers see, no matter the distance, so long as there's a clear path to the target).

    Consider having two or more of each elite class. It can take some effort but will be worth it. It enables you to create various soldiers with skills that are ideal for a variety of situations; such as a sniper that specializes in large, outdoor environments or an assault soldier ideal for cramped locations.

    Upgrade the barracks. Don’t forget about the Officer Training School. Many of the upgrades you can acquire can be a huge help throughout the game; especially the ones that increase the squad size. Check in every so often as more options become available as your soldiers gain higher ranks.

    Don't ignore the support class. Having a medic on the team can mean the difference between a favorite soldier spending a few days in the infirmary or getting their own epitaph. Plus their smoke grenades can really help out in a pinch.

    Sidearms can be your best friend. Pistols may not seem all that great at first, but they can mean the difference between life and death; especially plasma pistols. Make sure to give your most powerful handguns to your snipers as they can’t move and fire their rifle in the same turn unless they learn a specific perk. Otherwise, if you intend to move them at all, make sure they have rockin’ pistols. And make the effort to manufacture the pistol upgrades when you can, too. I’ve had my snipers take down enemies from quite a distance during their reaction shots using only a pistol on several occasions.

    You wanna live? Get a S.H.I.V. The S.H.I.V. is a small robotic vehicle, not unlike a human-sized tank. They’re no replacement for a battle-hardened soldier but with enough research and development they can be quite devastating. Plus they’re the perfect expendable solution to filling an injured soldier’s spot on the squad during a mission.

    Use the right armor. You might think it’s clever to put every single soldier in your squad into the most durable armor you can find, but it’s more likely to hinder them. For example, snipers shouldn’t be on the front lines, and therefore could benefit a lot more from armors that may not be super-tough but can help them reach the high ground easier.

  • Award medals to your soldiers as soon as you get them. Medals another of the new additions in Enemy Within, and you can use them to give your favorite soldiers a slight boost to various skills or attributes. Each medal can be assigned one of two permanent buffs (in other words, once you pick a medal's effect you won't be able to change it), so you'll also want to think about what will be best for the long haul rather than what might be handy in the moment.

  • No matter how cool it sounds, don't turn everybody into cyber soldiers. Sure MEC troopers are a force to be reckoned with, but they aren't as adaptable as regular or genetically modified soldiers. One or two MECs will probably be enough. And MEC suits are interchangeable, so even if you lose a cybernetic soldier you can still pass their rig onto someone else.

  • Autopsies lead to more modifications. As with the rest of your technology, the more types of aliens you autopsy the more gene and cyber mods you unlock. If you want to really dig into either of these new sub classes, make sure you don't dawdle when it comes to cutting those bodies open.

  • The Foundry can be a MEC trooper's best friend. In addition to a few new projects that benefit regular soldiers (such as giving everyone the ability to carry two items), there are quite a few that are specifically tailored for MEC troops. Things like improved armor durability and movement. Make sure you check these projects out if you're serious about cybernetics.

  • Converted MEC troopers keep their ranks. This is important because, just like regular soldiers, higher ranks means more skills. If you convert a high-ranking soldier into a MEC trooper, you'll be able to access the same number of skills from the MEC skill tree. It gives you a bit of a head-start, as it were.

  • Both cyber and gene mods are irreversible. The game makes sure to tell you this, but it bears repeating: once you modify a soldier, you cannot go back. On a similar note, MEC troopers can never be genetically modified or vise-versa.


    Combat Tips

    Cars can, and will, explode. It seems obvious but I can't stress the importance of keeping an eye out for burning vehicles enough. Cars and trucks do provide decent cover, but once they catch fire it's only a matter of time until they blow. And you don't want your soldiers near them when that happens. So take a moment to see if the vehicle you plan to move to, or are currently hiding behind, is a ticking time bomb before you make a move.

    Don't take unnecessary risks. It's often better to miss out on alien tech than to lose a skilled soldier. Take it slow and don't spread out too much. If a soldier encounters an alien squad and no one can reach them within a turn or two, they could be in serious trouble. Splitting up into groups of two or three is usually the best way to go. At least until your soldiers reach the higher ranks.

    Head for the high ground. Everyone, soldiers and aliens alike, benefits from a higher elevation. The higher up you are, the better your accuracy and the worse your enemy’s is. It’s not worth taking unnecessary risks to get to the top of a building or anything like that, but if you have the chance to take a higher vantage point then do it.

    Never, ever, ever, ever, blindly rush in to a room. It doesn't matter if it's a UFO, base, regular mission, or terror site. It's a sure-fire way to get vaporized. Approach with caution instead. Get at least two soldiers into good positions, preferably with one next to a door or window, and go into Overwatch. Then carefully open the door or peek in on your next turn.

    Approach all newly encountered alien species with extreme caution. At least until you know what they're capable of, and especially if you’re new to X-Com. What looks like a pushover could quite possibly decimate your entire squad if given enough of an opportunity. Just assume every new life form you encounter is the most dangerous creature you’re ever going to face and you should be all right.

    Take ‘em alive. It’s not always feasible, or worth the risk, but when you can you should try to capture an alien or two alive. Not only can their interrogation lead to new research opportunities, you’ll be able to recover their weapons intact which could save you a fortune in engineering costs.

    Push forward at the beginning of your turn, not the end. When you move ahead into unknown territory you always run the risk of encountering a squad of aliens. Believe me, it’s much better to discover them after only moving one or two soldiers than all of them. It leaves the entire squad incredibly vulnerable, especially in the later levels.

    Keep Chryssalids as far away as possible at all times. You’ll typically see these spider-like aliens during terror missions but they can (and will) appear elsewhere. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Trust me.

    Surprise attacks are possible. While the aliens are definitely at an advantage most of the time, they aren’t omnipotent. Use this to lure them into a trap on occasion. If your soldiers can’t see them, they can’t see your soldiers, so it’s possible to set a few up in key locations and use one of your own as a decoy to draw them into range.

    Don’t underestimate Sectoids. Sectoids are the most “normal” of Enemy Unknown’s, and possibly the most common. However, while they aren’t particularly durable they can use their telepathic abilities to strengthen their comrades. However, if you kill a Sectoid while its mind is merged with another alien both will die. Keep that in mind.

  • Pick augmentations that suit a soldier's class. Most of the genetic modifications you can research are useful in a variety of situations, but some are far more tailored to certain types of solders than others. For example, giving your sniper the ability to jump super-high will make it much easier for them to reach the high ground in a hurry. The modification that prevents poison and strangling is also great for snipers as they tend to hang back in combat, which leaves them susceptible to the new Seeker enemies (think robotic flying stealth squids). Similarly, it's most beneficial to give your scouts (typically Assault or Support classes) mods that allow them to 'sense' enemies that are still hidden.

  • MEC troopers are not invincible. Oh sure they're more durable than regular soldiers but they're also bigger targets and they can't use cover. Until you've got a high-ranking soldier using a second or third tier MEC suit, you'll want to avoid using them as walking, talking shields.

  • Try to use two MEC troopers, one with each kind of secondary weapon. The flamethrower can be monstrously effective against Chryssalids, especially when they group up, but it has a very limited number of uses during a mission and the lack of range makes it a poor choice against targets with guns. Foundry upgrades can make it more formidable, though. Conversely, the pneumatic fist (I don't care what it's actually called, that's what I've dubbed it) has absolutely no range. However, it can one-shot most small enemies and may even knock them several feet through a wall. It can also be a very effective (and cool looking) way to finish off larger enemies like Berserkers and the new Mechtoid.

  • Play around with new types of equipment when you can. Enemy Within also sports a number of new secondary items for your soldiers to carry into battle such as grenades that can stun your enemies temporarily and special ammo that deals significant amounts of damage but isn't useful over long distances. There's no reason you shouldn't try most (or all) of these new toys out - especially once all of your soldiers can carry two items apiece.

  • Do NOT investigate the fishing village. Trust me.


    The Most Important Thing

    Be prepared to lose. A lot. Newcomers, especially. XCom is a fair game, but it's also fairly unforgiving. A few wrong decisions early on could create a ripple effect that totally undermines your progress later (see previous tips about selling gear and tending to the Council). Depending on the difficulty and options selected you could also lose a beloved soldier in a flash thanks to one silly mistake. Avoiding these situations is incredibly difficult, but learning from them doesn't have to be.


    If you’ve got your own tips and strategies you’d like to recommend feel free to chime in below. With the odds stacked so firmly against us, We'll need whatever help we can get.

  • How To: Master the Intricacies of the Clock App in iOS 7

    Posted by Carter Dotson on October 28th, 2013

    The Clock app. Not much to it, right? Wrong. There's some little tweaks and intricacies that you should know about that can help make this core system app better to use.

    The World Clock section can display the times from various cities. Just tap the + in the upper-right corner to add a city. Tap the time to switch between analog and digital clocks. City searching is a bit frustrating in that it only supports a limited number of cities. Thus, for comparing where you are to other world cities, you may need to choose a city in your time zone that isn't where you are. For example, Lubbock, TX isn't in the list of cities despite being where I got my start, and the home of America's dreamiest football coach, Kliff Kingsbury. So, you may need to put in a larger city near you in your time zone. You can also search by country, not just city name, if you just need to find a city in a country somewhere to compare your time to.

    The Alarm section of course allows for various alarms to be set, but there's a variety of options here. Repeat allows for one alarm to be used on a regular basis, so you can set an alarm for weekdays, and one for weekends, or any combination of days, and not have to worry about setting it before you go to sleep. You can also label alarms individually. The Sound function works with songs, alert tones, and ringtones, so you can wake up to whatever you so choose. Snooze can be disabled for those who know that they'd get up way too late if they snooze too much. However, now when you snooze, the lock screen shows how long the snooze is for.

    The Stopwatch is a stopwatch. You can use the Lap timer to list any lap times, though the data can't be copied and exported in any way, unfortunately.

    The Timer can be used to set off an alarm a certain number of hours or minutes from whe it is set. It has one incredibly useful feature that you may not be aware of. Think that the When Timer Ends section is just for selecting which alert to play? Nope! Scroll all the way to the bottom and enable Stop Playing and when the timer ends, if you have a music app playing, sound will stop being played. Note that Spotify has a bug with it, but it works for the built-in music app and Pandora. This way, you can fall asleep to music without it wasting power your bandwidth.

    And of course, the system time can be set by going to Settings->General->Date & Time. Here you can configure 24-Hour Time to show 13:31 instead of 1:31 PM for example, choose to have the network set the time automatically, and manually choose your time zone, though automatic time setting will try to locate which time zone you're in automatically. You can enable or disable this in Settings->Privacy->Location Services->System Services->Setting Time Zone.

    Hopefully you now know all the useful little things you can do with this otherwise-straightforward function!

    How To: Use Keyboard Text Shortcuts in Clever Ways

    Posted by Carter Dotson on October 14th, 2013

    Keyboard shortcuts on iOS are an extremely useful feature. However they may be extremely underused, perhaps because people just don’t know what they can do.

    Read our guide on setting up and using text shortcuts (which is still valid with iOS 7) and then utilize these clever methods for keyboard shortcuts!

    Canned responses to emails

    Does your job have you responding to lots of emails saying the same basic thing? Create a shortcut with a good canned response to save some time and thought.

    Fix common typos

    iOS’ built-in autocorrect is useful, but sometimes its autocorrect can try to correct to phrases that aren’t what you want. So, make your common mistake the shortcut, and the corrected version your phrase. This will take preference over autocorrect’s suggestion so you can create your own autocorrections!

    As well, autocorrect works for text shortcuts you've created. So if you make a typo for a shortcut, autocorrect will fix it to the correct shortcut and correct expanded text. You don’t have to be perfect – just close.

    Only use the emoji you want

    Like to use certain emoji but hate having the international keyboard button? Well, it’s possible to have only certain emojis be triggered by using a keyboard shortcut. Just enable the emoji keyboard, insert the emoji(s) in the phrase section, and then create a useful shortcut. Want to insert the US flag into tweets? Just create a usflag keyboard shortcut.

    You can then disable the emoji keyboard and it will still work – it’s a system font, so it will work even if the keyboard is disabled. This works with any international keyboard, too, though emojis are more fun.

    Insert frequently-used URLs

    Constantly need to link to something? Set the URL as the phrase and set an easy-to-remember shortcut. This is perfect for reaction images or for, you know, more serious purposes. But mostly for GIFs.

    What kind of shortcuts should I use?

    Make sure that they’re phrases that don’t conflict with actual words. I like to make six-character shortcuts, usually making the first three relate to the topic of the shortcut, and the last three being something about the shortcut. It needs to be simple, memorable, and short enough to justify you saving time! Note that shortcuts do sync up between iCloud devices, so you don’t have to worry about having to recreate shortcuts when you pick up your other device.

    Keyboard text shortcuts are a great way to save time – using them is a great way to make the use of your device more efficient! Go on and be short!

    How To: Block Contacts in iOS 7 and Configure Contact Short Names

    Posted by Carter Dotson on October 7th, 2013

    iOS 7 contains two new options for managing contacts: blocked contacts and short names.

    Blocking a contact will prevent that contact from calling, messaging, or FaceTiming you. Blocked contacts can be added in two ways: You can do it from a message by tapping the Contact text in the upper-right corner, and then tapping the (i). From Phone or from FaceTime in the Recents list, tap the (i) icon next to the contact.

    After tapping the (i), scroll down to Block Caller. Tap this, read the warning text, and then tap Block Contact. This will block the contact. They don't inherently have to be in your contacts list, you just have to have received a message or call from the number or email address in order to add them to your list.

    You can manage your blocked contacts not in the Mail, Contacts, and Calendars section, but from any of the PhoneMessages, or FaceTime sections in Settings.

    You can remove blocked contacts from this section, and add new contacts to the list from contacts already in your book.

    For the blocked contact, their iMessages will show as delivered, but will not pop up on your device. FaceTime calls will ring on their device, but not on yours. Same with phone calls - your device just pretends that they don't exist.

    Now, for the people that you do want to hear from, one of the new contact options in iOS 7 is the Short Name option. This controls the way that contact names are displayed in apps like Messages. It allows for names to be displayed in a brief way, as opposed to just displaying the whole name entirely.

    You can configure Short Name by going to Settings and Mail, Contacts, Calendars. The Short Name icon is under the Contacts header. By default,Short Name is set to display just the first name only, and to prefer nicknames for contacts. The settings are all fairly self-explanatory: having First Name & Last Initial will show my short name as Carter D, for example.

    These features should help you manage your contacts in a much better way and make sure the people you don't want to hear from are ignored, and the people you do are shown in the way you want!