Posts Tagged Tips

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a deceptive game because it can be so easy to get into, but doing well winds up being a bit of a challenge. Well, for those just jumping into the game with its iPad release, here are a few general tips on how to get better at Hearthstone.

HearthstoneFAQ-UnavailableCardsIf you’re serious about becoming a good player, dedicate yourself to doing so. This is not a standard mobile title, this is a Blizzard-made PC game that’s available on mobile. Yes, it has an easy learning curve to get into, but there’s a steep mountain to climb to be an expert, and part of that is collecting all the great cards that are out there.

So, if you’re going to go from newb to even just being respectable at the game, be prepared to dig in. Get ready to lose often, and to spend a lot of time learning how to play well as much as actually trying to play. Remember: you’re at a disadvantage because there’s plenty of experienced players out there already thanks to the game’s PC beta period, even though there are those folks just jumping in as well. Also remember: this is a free-to-play game. You may want to spend money on booster packs if you want to get better cards.

Hearthstone: Heroes of WarcraftTake advantage of the resources that are out there. The benefit to this being a widely established game is that there are a ton of resources out there already. Use them! If you have a question, Google it – someone’s probably answered it! There are sites like the Hearthstone Gamepedia Wiki, Liquidhearth which includes a very handy tier list for the Arena mode and a forum to browse and ask questions in. This guide to the 25 best cards is extremely enlightening because some of them are common. Also, the game is one of the most popular titles on Twitch. Watch and see what people are doing, and learn accordingly!

HearthstoneFAQ-PracticeDon’t be afraid to experiment. It can be easy when starting out to stick with the starting class and to just try and build them out. Don’t do so – there are nine classes in total, and it’s possible that one might be more conducive to your play style than another. So try them out as you unlock them. This is why I say you should be dedicated. You likely won’t get to a position where you are at an optimal level for a long time if you’re committed to being good.

So always be trying out different things, playing as different classes, trying different strategies, and especially forming different decks. I recommend reviewing a deck often: is a card a good idea to have in a deck? Would a new card be better than one already in the deck you’ve made that you’re comfortable with? You won’t know for sure until you try it out for yourself.

Hearthstone-8Pay attention. Try not to be distracted when you’re playing seriously. You want to know at all times what your strategy is going to be, what cards you’re going to play – and more importantly, not play, as a powerful ability might be better served for later. Mana amounts are more of a suggestion of what you can do, not what you must do. You have some time to make moves, so take advantage of it!

But the other big reason to pay attention is that decks are only 30 cards. While it’s impossible to know what exactly a player has in their deck, if you know they’ve used something already (especially twice), then you know what they can’t do in the future, or can even just have an idea on what they might do, based on their class (this is why you experiment)! Be smart, and you can outwit your opponent.

HearthstoneFAQ-ObjectivesPlay often! You’re not going to get better by not playing. Play regularly – practice against the AI, especially when starting out. But try to complete the missions daily if you’re a serious player: they’re free gold for the taking, and free gold means less real-world money spent on arena entries and booster packs (or just more of them if you’re intent on not paying)! And remember: the things you learn will stick more when you play and do them more. Your account will transfer between different platforms, so you can play wherever you so choose.

So get out there, and get Hearthing those stones for great victory!

hearthstonerelease

Keep Your Clan in Tip-Top Shape with The Pocket Gamer Guide to Clash of Clans, For Free!

Posted by on September 9th, 2013
iPad Only App - Designed for iPad

Having trouble with some pesky rivals or figuring out how long certain units may last against high level defenses? Well fret no more! Pocket Gamer has released their own guide for Clash of Clans, and it’s totally free.

The Pocket Gamer Guide to Clash of Clans covers just about anything you’d want: from beginner’s basics to intricate strategies. It also includes comprehensive break downs of troops, heroes, spells, buildings, resources, and defenses, as well as a plethora of general tips and tricks to take advantage of.

If you’re neck-deep in all things Clans, Pocket Gamer’s guide will probably be of use to you.

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via: Our Review source: Pocket Gamer

On the heels of Plants vs. Zombies 2’s release for iOS, we decided it might be fun to pass along a few tips and tricks we’ve learned over the last month; starting with some helpful strategies for setting up a solid foundation. Keep an eye out all next week for even more zombie-stopping strategies!

Start With Sun and Spuds

IMG_0617Anyone worth their salt knows that nothing happens in the conflict between zombie and zucchini without the assistance of plenty of sunlight. This is why it is key to make planting sunflowers the early emphasis of almost every match. But that’s a no-brainer, right? What might not be so obvious is how easy it can be to get an entire row of sun production in the ground before ever needing to plant a single pea shooter.

But what about the zombies bent on munching the marigolds? It turns out that the lowly land mine, which is available from the start, can prove to be crucial in tackling the issue while simultaneously helping a player lay the groundwork for victory.

At the start of every match begin by planting sunflower seeds across the entire back row as quickly as possible. On most maps, by the time the second plant has sprouted the first zombie will begin meandering down the aisle. Carefully note the location of the creature and plant a land mine in that row, the third column from the rear.  The standard walkers that start nearly every match will take long enough to saunter that the entire back row of sunflowers should be able to be seeded before the first brain-chomper goes boom.

IMG_0618Follow suit for the second critter that appears, making sure to observer the same buffer of two squares from the back. This buys time that can be used to either plant an entire second row of sunflowers (my personal preference) or layout the first layers of protection. After the first two to three undead, this will have allowed for a free chance to stockpile energy or shore up defenses for whatever onslaught the hoard has in store. Fortunately this setup will work in almost every scenario and can help set the stage for a swift conquest.

Be sure to let us know in the comments if you have any Plants vs. Zombies 2 topics you would like to hear about. We will be taking requests all next week. And remember, there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps blood off of your hands!

deusexguide00Despite the apparent opulence of Deus Ex: The Fall’s world, it’s still a very dangerous place. Whether you fight back against your aggressors or sneak past them without any bloodshed is a matter of preference, but one way or another these threats will have to be dealt with. It’s the very reason we’ve put together this handy guide that includes suggestions for weapons, attachments, augmentations, and general tips that should help Ben Saxon live to get caught up in a web of corporate intrigue another day.

General Exploration and Hacking

deusexguide04There are lots and lots of worthwhile goodies to be found just laying around the environment, but you won’t be able to reach all of it without a little help. Oftentimes there will be a couple of different options available for getting inside of a locked room, but without the proper augmentations certain areas will be off-limits for the entire game. That’s why you may want to think about teaching Ben a few of these skills if you’re interested in scrounging every last inch of the world for gear.

Strength – Move Heavy Objects is a handy skill to have both for exploring and circumventing enemies. It boils down to shoving large boxes out of the way but it often reveals hidden access points or opens up new paths. Punch Through Walls can also be quite handy, even from a non-combat standpoint. With it Ben can essentially create his own doorways through specific points of the environment, although punching through solid concrete makes a fair bit of noise so exercise caution when using it.

Hacking – If you want to find all the hidden goodies, you’re going to need to get used to hacking. Aside from the general Capture skills that allow Ben to hack more and more advanced systems with each upgrade, he can also make use of Hacking Stealth to make him less noticeable when capturing nodes as well as Fortify to strengthen captured nodes and make a trace more difficult.

Combat Augmentation and Weapon Specializations

deusexguide02We can’t always avoid confrontation, and when that happens in Deus Ex: The Fall it can quickly turn into a kill or be killed situation. Thankfully Ben has more than a fair amount of combat experience, so by focusing on certain firearms and augs he’ll be more than capable of holding his own when things get dicey.

Armor – If you plan to get into a lot of firefights, you’ll definitely want to take points in armor. Not only will it increase Ben’s toughness but after a couple of upgrades he can also learn EMP Shielding, which will nullify the effects of EMP blast from grenades and mines as well as render him immune to electrified flooring.

Strength – Punch Through Walls is great for exploring, but it’s also handy for fighting. With the proper timing Ben can easily dispatch an enemy that would otherwise be difficult to sneak past simply by reaching through the wall they’re standing by. Recoil Compensation and Aim Stabilization are also important since there’s bound to be a lot of shooting (especially once he blasts a hole in a wall with his fist) and accuracy will be very important.

Weapons – With the exception of the Stun Gun, all the firearms are lethal. The Crossbow can silently take out unarmored enemies with enough damage upgrades while the 10MM Pistol and Combat Rifle can also be fitted with sound suppressors in order to take out targets from a distance without making too much noise. If subtlety isn’t an option (or desired) there’s also the Q Tap attachment for the 10MM Pistol that adds armor piercing. Then there are all the non-so-subtle weapons like the Tactical RPG, Plasma Rifle, and Shotgun. Ben also has access to Frag Grenades and mines, both of which can be devastating if used against groups of enemies. EMP Grenades and Mines are also worth considering as they’re useful when dealing with mechanical enemies as well as augmented humans.

Stealth Augmentation and Weapon Specializations

deusexguide01Not everyone is looking to start a fight or kill hapless guards. In fact, it’s entirely possible to complete Deus Ex: The Fall’s first episode in its entirety without killing anybody. It requires a lot of sneaking around and some very particular skill choices, but it’s also incredibly satisfying to pull off.

Cloaking System – Ben’s ability to cloak gives him a distinct advantage when it comes to sneaking past enemies. Its power usage is limited, but when used at the right moment it can make navigating a room full of guards a lot easier.

Multiple Take-Down – Since ammo is somewhat limited and the Stun Gun is for close range, you’re going to have to get really familiar with non-lethal take-downs. Each one uses up one of Ben’s energy bars, however, so being able to take out two guards in close proximity at the same time (and on a single charge) just makes good economic sense.

Radar System – Ben has access to the first stage of this aug right from the beginning, but upgrading it to improve its range will be very useful when it comes to planning a route through hostile territory. Although it can be tough to tell where each enemy is, exactly, since they’re only represented as little spots in an empty box.

Smart Vision – Smart Vision makes up for the radar’s shortcomings by showing enemy locations and orientations in real time. It can be tough to tell which direction the little green arrows are facing on the radar, especially when playing on the smaller iPhone screen, so being able to see exactly where each enemy is in relation to Ben through solid objects is a major help.

deusexguide05Energy Converter – Because so many of Ben’s essential stealth augs require energy to activate it’s important to sink some Praxis Points into this skill. Specifically the Energy Recharge Rates as the faster his batteries recharge the sooner he’ll be able to use more skills. Adding more bars through Energy Upgrades is handy, too, but it’s important to remember that Ben only naturally recharges a single bar by default. The rest have to be refilled using items. Of course with enough points in Energy Upgrades you can unlock a Recharge Capacity Upgrade which will allow Ben to refill two bars automatically.

Cybernetic Leg Prosthesis – Ben’s legs have a few enhancements that can make sneaking around easier. Run Silently allows him to move at top speed without making noise and drawing attention, and it works in conjunction with his Movement Speed Enhancements so he can pretty much zip around without making a sound. Stealth Dash is also useful for closing the distance between cover points in a hurry without alerting every guard in the room.

Weapons – Ben has a few less options when it comes to stealth-friendly weapons, but there are still more than enough tools to work with. The Crossbow is still a very viable option and can be fitted with tranquilizer darts for non-lethal sleep shots. The Stun Gun is also a handy option for saving on battery power but it’s close range only and doesn’t reload very fast. If you don’t have a problem with killing, both the 10MM Pistol and Combat Rifle can be fitted with a silencer for more quiet long-range options. Finally, Ben can make use of Concussion Grenades and mines to stun enemies while he makes an escape or beats them to a pulp.

In the world of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, even the lowliest of alien adversaries can be lethal. Especially early on. Whether it’s a Thin Man’s poison or a Heavy Floater’s mobility, every single species has at least one kind of combat specialization you’ll want to look out for. Simply shooting at something until it’s dead can certainly work, but if you want to kill it and keep your squad alive, you should probably take a look at the tips below.

[SPOILER WARNING: This guide lists all of the aliens you'll encounter on missions throughout the game. If you don't want to be surprised, please stop reading now.]

xcomeu12Sectoid – Sectoids are one of the most fragile aliens you’ll encounter, but that’s no reason to take the lightly. They’re numerous, they’re quick, and they can boost each others’ combat abilities by linking up telepathically. Of course if the Sectoid that initiated the mental link is killed, both will die. Just stay in cover and pick them off and you should be fine.

Floater – Dealing with Floaters can be a bit tricky because of their mobility. They can simply fly up to “the high ground” whenever they feel like it for an accuracy and defense bonus, and can even airdrop themselves anywhere on the map at the cost of their turn. When one or more Floaters goes missing, it’s a safe bet that they’ve repositioned themselves and are planning to flank you, so make sure to keep everyone in Overwatch whenever possible.

Thin Man – Thin Men are about as formidable as Sectoids (i.e. not very), but they’re far more mobile due to their ability to leap over large walls or on top of buildings. They’re also poisonous and can use that to their advantage by spitting venom at soldiers or leaving a noxious cloud behind when they’re killed. A Thin Man’s poison doesn’t do much damage, and it only lasts a few turns, but it can add up so try to stay away from those green clouds.

Muton – When you first encounter Mutons, you know things are getting serious. These green jumpsuit-wearing aliens are essentially the enemy equivalent of a typical XCOM soldier. They’re formidable, come equipped with Plasma Rifles, are a lot more accurate than most of the other aliens you’ll have encountered up to this point, can use their Blood Call ability to boost their allies’ offensive capabilities, and have alien grenades that they aren’t afraid to use. Mutons are Enemy Unknown’s first real test, but things will only get tougher from here.

Chryssalid – I mentioned Chryssalids in the beginners guide but the warning bears repeating: do NOT let them get close. Chryssalids are primarily deployed at Terror Sites and will often go straight for any civilians they find. When a Chryssalid kills a human (including your own soldiers), which is very easy because their razor-sharp claws to a lot of damage, they also implant a sort of egg into them. This will create a sort of zombie – which is also a rather durable and hard-hitting enemy – that will shuffle around for a few turns before bursting open as a new Chryssalid jumps out. Yes, they reproduce. They’re incredibly fast, do lots of damage, and create more of themselves by killing things. Never, ever, ever, ever let them get in close to your soldiers.

Cyberdisc + Drones – The Cyberdisc is basically the aliens’ equivalent of a light tank. It’s rather mobile in its disc form, and a horribly intimidating death machine when it changes into its combat form. It can lob grenades, fire off some really heavy hitting plasma weaponry, and is usually flanked by two drones that can also deal a bit of damage with some small lasers and repair damage that the Cyberdisc has suffered. While it might be tempting to take out the drones first so they can’t fix anything, the Cyberdisc is a far bigger threat that can usually be dealt with in one turn provided enough soldiers are close by and can perform actions when it appears. Another benefit is that the Cyberdisc is too big to use cover, although it does still benefit from elevation bonuses. Also, try to keep clear when you take a Cyberdisc down as they explode afterwards.

Berserker – Berserkers are a very intimidating breed of Muton which usually appear with two regular Mutons in tow. They don’t bother with fancy weapons, but rather bum rush anything they don’t like and try to rip it limb-from-limb. Much like Chryssalids they make up for their lack of ranged attacks by being more mobile, although Berserkers aren’t quite as speedy. The flipside is that they take a free movement action towards their attacker whenever they take damage. That, and they can Intimidate nearby soldiers, causing them to panic and lose a turn. This can be advantageous, however, as it’s possible to corral a Berserker over the course of a turn by taking pot shots at it with several soldiers while drawing it into range of the bigger guns.

xcomeu18Heavy Floater – All of the mobility, elevation, and air-dropping benefits regular Floaters possess are also a part of the Heavy Floater’s skillset. However the Heavy Floater is far more durable, uses stronger weapons, tends to be more accurate, and makes liberal use of grenades when possible. The same basic tactics for Floaters apply, but doubly so.

Muton Elite – Muton Elites are essentially badass Mutons. They’re tougher, hit harder, and fight harder than the average Muton. They wield Heavy Plasma guns instead of the more run of the mill Plasma Rifles, and like to use grenades a lot more. Oh, and they also like to show up in groups of three. Best to treat Elites as you would regular Mutons, but be a bit more cautious and don’t hesitate to bring out the big guns.

Sectopod + Drones – Whereas the Cyberdisc is the alien equivalent of a light tank, the Sectopod is more like a full on battleship. This mechanized walker fires a devastating laser (twice!) as well as a cluster of rockets, and it has the most health out of any regular enemy unit in the game. Oh, and it also has two damage-repairing drones with it. Sectopods are pretty much the entire reason for teaching a heavy soldier the Heat Ammo skill since it gives them a bonus 100% damage against robotic enemies. Assuming a heavy soldier is present and in range, a rocket certainly wouldn’t be out of the question. At the very least it should destroy the drones and damage the primary target. A sniper with Disabling Shot is also handy since they can use it to shut down the Sectopod’s primary weapon for a few turns and give the squad a chance to regroup.

Sectoid Commander – Think “regular Sectoid,” but on mental steroids. Sectoid Commanders are only slightly more sturdy than their underlings, but they make up for it with some pretty serous Psionic powers that go well beyond simple being able to buff their pals. Mind Control isn’t out of the question, actually, so it’s imperative to make Sectoid Commanders a top priority target, unless an Ethereal is present. Kill it and the controlled soldier will be free, but if not you’re going to have one heck of a serious problem on your hands.

Ethereal – These incredibly powerful Psionic aliens have no need for weapons. Their minds are weapons. Taking on an Ethereal is no easy task as it’s packed with offensive and defensive skills. It puts up a Psionic shield that makes it very difficult to hit, can prevent damage when it is hit, has a tendency to counter-attack, and has an entire arsenal of mental attacks at its disposal. If handled improperly, an Etheral can all but wipe out an entire squad by using mind control, causing panic, and simply tearing a target’s mind apart. The two Muton Elite escorts are just gravy. Thankfully mechanical devices such as the S.H.I.V. are totally immune to mental attacks and it’s possible to develop Mind Shields for your soldiers to equip in order to boost their defense against mental attacks. Treat with extreme caution, regardless. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little overkill.

We’ve already gone over a bunch of the basics when it comes to surviving (or at least prolonging) XCOM: Enemy Unknown. But what about more advanced tactics? That’s where these advanced tips come in. This article in particular is all about the soldiers; what gear compliments which class, what skills work best when paired with others, that sort of thing. This is by no means meant to signify the only successful setup, but rather to give players looking to optimize their troops’ effectiveness with a few guidelines to get them started. And by all means, if you have any related questions or would like to chime in with your own loadout tips, please do so in the comments below.

[SPOILER WARNING: This guide involves the use of armor, weapons, and skills that won't be available until late in the game. If you don't want to spoil anything for yourself, please stop reading.]

Equipment Sets

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Assault – A very effective equipment set for an assault soldier is Ghost Armor, an Alloy Cannon, Plasma Pistol, and Arc Thrower. Ghost Armor allows a soldier to cloak for an entire turn (so long as they don’t shoot at anything), and when coupled with Run & Gun is ideal when trying to figure out where enemies are hiding without alerting them to your presence. The Alloy Cannon is simply a beast at close range, and when used in conjunction with Run & Gun can get the soldier up close for an almost inescapable blast of shrapnel. The Arc Thrower isn’t necessarily essential, but when using Ghost Armor it can be very easy to get in close to stun a target. Unfortunately Run & Gun doesn’t pair with the Arc Thrower, but it’s still ideal for closing large distances in a hurry.

Heavy – A good loadout to consider for a heavy soldier is Titan Armor, Heavy Plasma, and a S.C.O.P.E. Titan armor is the sturdiest armor available, and is immune to poison and environmental fire damage to boot. It’s not particularly mobile, but it’s incredibly durable. Heavy Plasma is, of course, the nastiest of the heavy machine guns but as with all the other versions it’s not remarkably accurate or frugal with ammunition. This is why I recommend the S.C.O.P.E over, say, a Nano-fiber Vest; because that extra 10% accuracy bonus can make the heavy a far more effective alien killer without resorting to using rockets prematurely.

Sniper – I’ve yet to find a more effective set of equipment for a sniper than Archangel Armor, a Plasma Sniper Rifle, Plasma Pistol, and a S.C.O.P.E. The rifle and S.C.O.P.E are kind of a given, but pistols are also important because a sniper’s accuracy doesn’t only pertain to their primary weapon. And since it’s only possible for them to move and fire their rifle in the same turn with a particular skill (and the shot still suffers an accuracy penalty), the pistol is great for repositioning them and using Overwatch. The Archangel Armor is the real star, though. Everyone gets an accuracy bonus when they’re positioned higher than their target, but snipers can get an even bigger bonus with the right skills. With this armor equipped, all a sniper has to do is fly straight up as high as they can and wait.

Support – My ideal set for a support soldier includes Ghost Armor, a Plasma Rifle, Medkit, and Nano-fiber Vest. Why Ghost Armor? Because it can be incredibly useful to be able to make the squad’s primary healer invisible for a turn. That and it’s possible, with the right skill selection, to increase a support soldier’s movement distance. It’s not quite as good as Run & Gun, but when coupled with invisibility it makes them a very effective scout. The Nano-fiber Vest is more of a take it or leave it thing, but another handy perk support soldiers can get is the ability to carry two items instead of one. Unfortunately it’s not possible to equip two medkits, but the added durability provided by the vest can certainly help keep them alive longer. An Arc Thrower is also a perfectly reasonable choice.

Skill Combinations

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Assault – As I’ve mentioned, it’s unfortunately not possible to use an Arc Thrower along with Run & Gun (Squaddie). However, Killer Instinct (Colonel) works quite well with it as it boosts the soldier’s critical damage by 50% for the rest of the turn. The catch is that it only applies to critical damage, but a number of skills such as Close and Personal (Sergeant) and Aggression (Corporal) make critical hits a lot more likely. Since I tend to push my assault soldiers into harms way I prefer to stick with the more defense-oriented skills such as Lightning Reflexes (Sergeant) and Tactical Sense (Corporal). I’ve also found that using Flush (Lieutenant) while another soldier, probably either a heavy or support, is suppressing the target can be very effective as Suppression not only reduces the target’s movement and accuracy but grants the shooter a free shot if they attempt to move. So a successful Flush won’t only damage the target but also force it out of cover, which will in turn give the suppressor a follow-up shot.

Heavy – Bullet Swarm (Corporal) is certainly a tempting skill as it gives the heavy a chance to attack twice in one turn, so long as they don’t move, but I vastly prefer the accuracy bonus Holo-Targeting (Corporal) grants. Especially when paired with Suppression, which will keep a target pinned down, reduce their accuracy, and boost the other soldiers’ accuracy against it. Similarly the choice between Rapid Reaction and Heat Ammo (Lieutenant) might seem easy, but note that Rapid Reaction only grants a second reaction shot if the first is a hit. And later in the campaign the chances of most target surviving the first hit are pretty slim. Conversely, getting a bonus 100% to damage against robotic enemies can be a godsend. Mayhem (Colonel) is another great skill to pair with Suppression as it grants a damage bonus. So the heavy can suppress a target, hurt it, reduce it’s everything, then probably kill it if it even attempts to move.

Sniper – Squad Sight (Corporal). Forget about being able to move and fire the sniper rifle in the same turn with Snap Shot (Corporal), Squad Sight is a sniper’s best friend. Being able to move and shoot might be handy in the early stages of the campaign, but there’s an accuracy penalty associated with it. Plus there’s really no substitution for flushing out enemies with other squad members, then mopping them up from over halfway across the map. Squad Sight also works incredibly well with Damn Good Ground’s (Sergeant) higher elevation accuracy bonus and some of that Archangel Armor I mentioned previously. Pair all of that with Double Tap’s (Colonel) tendency to let the sniper fire off a second shot during their turn and you have an extremely formidable killing machine the aliens won’t ever actually see. Seriously, one of my snipers that was using this setup took out a Sectopod single-handedly in one turn.

Support – Support soldier builds can essentially go one of two ways: healing or buffing/debuffing. I prefer healing as it’s far more useful (and likely) to repair damage than prevent it. The Sprinter (Corporal) ability can be incredibly useful because it gives the support soldier a few more tiles worth of movement that can, and often does, mean the difference between getting to an injured comrade in time. Similarly, Field Medic (Sergeant) is another great way to keep the squad alive since it lets the soldier use a medkit up to three times per mission. Revive (Lieutenant) can also be incredibly handy as it not only stabilizes a downed soldier but can put them back in the fight, effectively keeping the squad at full strength. Savior (Colonel) and its bonus 4 health whenever a medkit is used, when combined with upgraded technology at the forge, means the support soldier can bring just about anyone back from the brink and keep them in top form.

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

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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.

Soldier Tips

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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.

Combat Tips

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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.

The Most Important Thing

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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.

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Tony’s Tips ~ Photo Sharing

Accordion Wallet InsertRemember the good old days when your dad would want to show off how cute you were. Whenever he could get the chance he’d whip out his wallet and that accordion style photo holder would flop out with a dozen embarrassing photos…well today’s kids have it even worse. Think about it, with an iPhone the parents of today can walk around with over a decade of snap shots in their pocket just waiting to embarrass their 25 year old son with…no, I’m not bitter!

To make matters worse, not only can they whip them out at a moments notice but now they can share a copy of them with anyone on the spot simply via MMS or e-mail. If you’re not familiar with this, it can be easily done from the Photos application. Clicking on the arrow in the lower left corner of the Album View will bring up 3 options. “Share,” “Copy,” and “Delete.” Next you’re able to select up to 5 photos and by tapping on the Share icon you’re can choose either “MMS” or “Email.” Quick, simple and to the point, right? But what if you have 12 or more photos you’d like to share, is your only answer going back and forth creating 3 separate e-mails? Nope, here’s your trick: Copy. Share Photos ChecksBy selecting the Copy option instead of the Share your iPhone will allow you to select as many as you like and paste them in a new blank e-mail all at once. This can be a handy little time saver but there are some restrictions. For starters it won’t work for MMS and also the number of photos you can send in a single e-mail is limited by how large of a message your provider will allow you to send. Oh and BTW, this trick does not work with videos either.

Now if you’re a parent, go forth and embarrass away with all of those priceless photos. If you’re the victim…I mean child in this disastrous scenario well then I’m sorry. But do take some comfort in the knowledge that someday you’ll probably be sharing your kid’s holograms via text.

Tony’s Tip – 3.1 Remote Passcode

With all of the announcements and new iPods last week, 3.1 really seemed to slip through the cracks. Sure Steve made a special point to show off the new app store genius, which really is a cool feature, and of course the new organization in iTunes is pretty sweet but it also added a cool little security feature for MobilMe users. 3.1

Spawned from the days of the .Mac service that was really built for a niche market, MobileMe has quickly and quietly developed into a godsend in the iPhone world. With features like the automatic contact syncing, the Find My Phone, and Remote Wipe features, there was already plenty of reason to be looking in this direction. However, until now there was still a small security concern lurking. Find My Phone gave you the ability to locate your phone if you left it somewhere and the Remote wipe would clear it off if it was stolen, but what about if you’re not sure which has happened. Maybe it was stolen but maybe you just left it at the bar. If you wipe it then you can’t locate it any longer, but if you don’t then someone could be looking through all those pictures you took last week in Vegas. BAM, Apple brings you Remote Lock. Via the MobileMe web page you can set a pass code lock that instantly kicks the phone out of any app it’s running and locks it up nice and tight. Someone could still shut the phone off at this point but at the very least you know they aren’t getting to your information. All and all, this is a great little feature that really completes the security circle Apple is trying to build for it’s iPhone users. Here is the list of other features 3.1 add as well.

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