Defend the Base!, Operations, and Single Mission game modes are played with Squads you can customize on the Squad Assembly screen. We're going to introduce you to the elements one by one and explain all the important functions.
You can always create a new Squad, or load a previously saved one. When you save a Squad for the very first time, you'll have to choose a filename. After that, that file will keep all progress of your Squad automatically.
Progress is shared between all three game modes, and is stored in the appropriate Squad file(s). If you only play single-squad missions, it's best if you always use the same one – you can easily reconfigure it via Loadouts.
Depending on how the mission you're going to play is set up, the respective game configuration is active.
A configuration is made up of Squad Points per unit (marine), and the maximum number of units (per Squad). Squad files store loadouts for all configurations. If you don't already have a loadout for a given game configuration, you'll be prompted to set up a new one.
On the top right part of the main bar, you can review the current configuration, the current loadout, and the filename of the Squad (if it already has one).
In Defend the Base!, Operations, and Single Mission game modes, Squad Points (SPs) are the primary resource you can spend to purchase weapons, ammo, and other equipment for your units, and to promote them for extra Skill Points if necessary.
Your Squad Point budget is based on the configuration, but you can freely spend SPs on any of your units, there's no per-capita limitation.
In these game modes, your Squads always reset to their preset loadouts after missions. You don't gain extra Squad Points, and any ammo, etc. you spend or leave behind is reset to the original when you load your Squad.
Your Squads also have crafting materials that can be used to make special equipment and upgrade weapons. As crafted items don't cost Squad Points, this way you can improve your Squads beyond the SP limitation.
You can acquire crafting materials by completing missions; common materials are fairly abundant as a reward – based on game mode and difficulty –, while special materials are more limited.
You can always sell (disassemble) crafted items and get back 100% of the materials used. Also, your total crafting material pool is available for every loadout you make, just as every new loadout has the maximum Squad Points.
Crafted items can be unlocked by completing particular tasks (Operations or missions) to obtain item crafting blueprints. Weapon Upgrade blueprints can only be collected by hacking Databanks. For more info, visit the Blueprints entry.
If you're preparing for a mission with multiple Squads, you can switch between them with the numbered buttons.
To load an existing file for a specific Squad, just switch to that number first, then use the Load button. There's only one mandatory rule: a single Squad file can only be used for one Squad in a particular mission – e.g. you can't have a Squad file loaded for Squads #1 and #2 simultaneously.
Loadouts on the Squad Specs tab allow you to create different variations of your Squad and switch between these quickly.
You can create a new loadout from scratch with the green + button or clone an existing loadout – this is very useful if you want to experiment with a little different gear, a new weapon, etc., and you don't want to start from scratch.
A loadout stores all the Skill Point and Specialization assignments, promotions, unit activation status, Squad Point and crafting material allocations, and gear configuration. For each loadout, all of your Squad Points and crafting materials are available.
If you load a Squad, you can see how various captions change to show the name of the Squad, the name of the current loadout, and the filename. Also, most of the Squad Points and some materials are probably spent.
The big panel in the center is the main Squad Assembly panel. It has five tabs: three for purchasing weapons, ammo, and other equipment (see later), respectively, one for managing your units, and the last one, which is active by default, for managing your Squad as a whole.
On this tab, you can customize your Squad, view their statistics, and manage your loadouts – but we'll cover that in the Loadouts entry.
On the left side, you see the unit panels. These represent the members of your Squad, and let you quickly overview their most important attributes:
The icon of their currently equipped weapon and their callsign are also displayed. When in Squad Assembly, the maximum value for the respective attribute is shown; during a mission, the values will be always updated based on the actual status.
You can left-click on a unit panel to select that unit. You can also use the keys F1-F6, respectively. The panel of the currently selected unit is highlighted.
Changing the order of units
Only during Squad Assembly, you also have the option to change the order of your first three units. In non-Campaign game modes, your marines have different ranks, thus a different amount of Skill Points, in descending order. You can promote them for more (see later); reordering is only a convenience feature if you – for some reason – prefer one of your other highest-ranking officers to be on the top of the list. You can change the order by clicking on the UP/DOWN icons – it doesn't affect any of their qualities.
Activating / deactivating units
You can also deactivate your last units (the 4th in a 4-unit configuration, or the 4th-6th in a 6-unit configuration), starting from the end of the roster. This can be done by clicking on the red X button. (A deactivated unit can be re-activated by a green “tick” button.)
This feature lets you spend the same amount of Squad Points between fewer units, allowing for interesting tactical possibilities with smaller Squads of better-equipped, more well-trained marines. A loadout will store the activation status of your units, so you can experiment easily with different variations.
Note: this is only recommended for veteran players!
In the bottom left corner, you find the unit status panel. This shows more in-depth information about the currently selected unit.
The current level of Bleeding and Tranquilization (paralysis) will be displayed next to the Health and Morale bars. Below that, acquired statuses like Burning, Chilled, Frozen, Panicked or Berserk will be shown.
On the right-hand side of the status panel, you can see the Resistance, Protection, and Buildup values for all the different damage types/elements. These mechanics are explained in detail if you hover the mouse over the respective elements. It is well advised to read this information!
If you switch to the Unit Specs panel, you can see the Skills, personal data, and statistics of your currently selected marine. The latter two are pretty self-explanatory.
Each of your marines has an amount of available Skill Points (SP) based on their rank. You can also promote them to get +2 SP for 5,000 Squad Points, up to the max. rank.
Skill Points are used to train your units in the 9 Skills, available for each of them. Skill levels range from 0-5. None of them are mandatory for a marine to use weapons, perform actions, etc., but obviously, training them in the right skills is very important, giving you a lot of tactical choices.
If you hover the mouse over a skill, you'll see detailed information about it on the left side. You can also toggle the status panel to show skill information instead (default: K).
Every unit also has two specialization options: a Primary, and a Secondary. When you have at least 3 SP on a Skill, you can assign it as a Secondary spec.; for a Primary spec., you need 4 SP. A Primary specialization gives your unit both specialization bonuses for a skill, while a Secondary only offers the left one.
Assigning specializations is not mandatory, but very much recommended if you can manage to have the required amount of Skill Points. The passive bonuses granted by them can be a real “game changer!”
Every marine also has an inventory of 10 slots. The items you have here are either only carried, or currently being equipped/used (green background).
You can use the right mouse button or the alphanumeric keys 0-9 to activate/deactivate (equip/unequip) an item, given you have enough Action Points. (In Squad Assembly, AP info is just for convenience.)
Some inventory slots are restricted to a particular type of item (unless you have Field Expertise primary specialization) – keep this in mind!
You can select an item with the left mouse button. The selected item's slot will be highlighted, and you may do the following actions:
These actions NEVER cost any Action Points.
You can also sell items; select one, and click the “Sell” button (given it is unequipped, and, if a weapon, unloaded). The “Sell all” button will automatically sell all items in a unit's inventory that is not equipped and/or loaded.
The “Stash” and “Stash all” buttons move items to the Stash in a similar fashion. The Stash in the top-right corner is a temporary space to help you plan your loadout and to let you exchange items between your marines. Be sure not to leave items in the Stash when starting the mission, as they are useless there (while still costing Squad Points)!
Hovering over an item in the inventory will display all relevant information about it.
When you have a weapon equipped, or have selected a weapon in the browser for properties preview, you can see its details on the weapon panel in the bottom right corner.
Above it, you find the attack info panel that shows detailed information about the currently selected attack mode. All firearms have 2 ranged and a default (mostly ineffective, save for defending) melee attack mode, while melee weapons have 3 dedicated melee attack modes.
There are two ways to buy ammunition:
If you have a fitting weapon equipped, you can right-click on a stack of ammo to load it (it will also unload a different subtype of that caliber if the weapon is not empty), or click one of the Reload / Unload buttons in the bottom-right corner. The Reload feature will find the first fitting stack of ammo in your inventory if the weapon is empty, or will try to reload it with the last subtype used.
Types and Subtypes of Ammunition
Most ammo types (calibers) have more subtypes available, and these all have different modifiers. Modifiers can be either per-shot, per-attack, or both. Attack modes that fire multiple projectiles per attack benefit more from per-shot bonuses.
It is imperative to bring enough ammo to a mission. Though – with some luck – you may find ammo, or even weapons during the mission, it is best practice to estimate how much ammo you would need in the worst case. For example, if you could fire a rifle, say, 4 times a turn on average, and each attack cost 5 ammo, then for a mission that had a deadline of 20 turns, a minimum safe amount would be a stack of 4x5x20=400.
There are also a lot of different miscellaneous items you can equip your Squad with, and it's crucial to bring necessary and enough gear. The 3 main categories of gear are biochemical accessories, armor upgrades, and electrotechnical gadgets – you can find the latter two under the common Gear & Tech category (or under “All”, of course.)
Biochemical items include all kinds of stimulants, healing kits, hazard removal accessories, etc., while electrotechnical items include welding and hacking tools, deployable gadgets, and so on. The Biochemistry and Electrotechnics skills generally enhance the usage of items from a given category. (See the corresponding skill for more info!)
A general USCF tactical Squad consists of units with the following roles:
If the Squad size allows, at least one heavy arm specialist with some area damage capability is also recommended.
It is also wise to keep an eye out for combo possibilities, like using high-impact weapons to shatter enemies that have been frozen, or pumping additional fire and/or acid damage into targets that are already burning.
For different objectives, a slightly modified Squad configuration is always a good idea. For example, multiple melee-capable units are recommended when rapid movement is expected, so you can defend the Squad from different directions simultaneously. Use loadouts to quickly set up different variations.
Weapon Upgrade Blueprints allow you to enhance the capabilities of your weapons for crafting materials. These blueprints can be acquired as a random reward for completing a mission with datapads and/or code fragments in your unit's inventory.
Datapads can be acquired from unlocked databanks by any unit, while code fragments are acquired by hacking locked databanks. The more of these you have, the greater the chance of getting blueprints, up to 3 blueprints per mission (mission difficulty is also a factor!).
There are a total of 40 Weapon Upgrade Blueprints in 3 categories (small arms, heavy arms, melee weapons), and each can be upgraded up to Mark V by getting that type of blueprint (randomly) again. When you get an upgrade for a blueprint, it is automatically upgraded on all of your weapons that use it.
Every weapon can have 3 upgrades. The cost of applying an upgrade varies by weapon. To manage blueprints on a weapon, you must first select that weapon either in your inventory or in the stash (i.e. upgrades are not available while you're just browsing the store).
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