Finally beat the game on Classic Ironman!
I lost three dudes on the last mission, but otherwise I think i'm ready to move to Impossible, here I'll share some tips and tactics to improve your game, hope it helps someone!
Please share stuff you have learned along the way too, specially if you've finished above normal difficulty.
- Consider starting in Asia: Then get Africa, and then North America if you can. Don't start in Africa because it only takes 3 satellites to cover Africa and the bonus isn't as good in the first couple of months, it takes 4 to cover Asia so its worth having the perk right off the bat. Europe seemed like a good choice at first, but I went through my whole game without making any labs (until the end when I was raking in the big bucks), you only need more scientists, and you can get those from satellites on any country, or from mission rewards. You really only need a workshop or two tops to finish the game. When you build the officer training school, be sure to get Wet Work and Iron Will relatively soon, as they will increase the rate at which your dudes levelup and how much will they earn per level (increases psionic potential, and less panicking).
- Satellites are always the priority: Always be building satellites or satellite uplinks, ALWAYS! until you have covered everyone on the map. Save money and excavate preemptively.
- Don't assign satellites until 1D before the monthly meetup: Assigning a satellite reduces panic immediately on a country, but you only get the added bonuses and money until the end of the month. So you are risking their panic levels to rise again and losing them if you don't wait until the last possible day before assigning them.
- Always use high cover: depending on the alien's aim, they have around 50% to hit you in low cover, and around 25% to hit you in high cover. So you should stay in high cover unless you're out of combat or flanking. Its better to bait aliens back to your high cover if there isn't any inbetween, don't ever fight from low cover.
- Bring two snipers to UFO raids: UFO raids are full of open spaces, so bringing two snipers is key. If you bring assaults, don't give them shotguns either, otherwise they will be pretty much worthless until you're actually inside the UFO.
- Consider Assault Soldiers with Rifles: Even tho popping run & gun and then hitting an alien point blank with a shotgun is pretty satisfying, that will make you lose a lot of soldiers. They will be open for attacks, or you could pull an extra group of aliens you hadn't seen before. Equipping your assaults with rifles is incredibly useful. You can also run&gun to a flank, and that will be just as deadly.
- Never Dash on a single move: If you're planning on dashing in one action, always move in two steps. It's the same result, but with the added bonus of being able to backtrack to your original cover if you spot something you don't like.
- Reload in turns: If some of your soldiers aren't fully reloaded, don't reload everyone on the same turn, even when out of combat and specially on terror missions. Keep half on overwatch and reload half, then reload the other half next turn. Don't miss out on shooting guys on patrol.
- Bring a SHIV to escort missions: Escort missions have the extra mechanic of aliens magically falling from the sky, so even if you're placing your units according to your surroundings it may be that an alien drops somewhere you didn't foresee. Having a SHIV means you can add cover to the VIP on will so they wont get those cheaty flanks.
- Consider not bringing snipers to escort or bomb missions: I always get squadsight for snipers, its incredibly powerful. This means that your sniper won't be able to move and shoot in the same turns, so they are not as useful for missions like escort and bombs, since they're all about moving your squad forward every turn, bring an extra Assault instead. NOTE: Once you research archangel armor, you can bring them every time usually, unless there are lots of buildings
- Shoot with heavy with holo-targeting first: Also bear in mind that using suppression adds the holo-targetting bonus as well. Better to suppress if the heavy's hit chance are low, that will lower the alien's mobility and aim without having to do a roll. (props to )
- Always bring a Heavy with heat ammo: Specially for the mid-game. Once those cyberdisks and Sectopods start popping, you'll regret not having this.(props to )
- Use explosives sparingly: always have at least 1 dude with a grenade (or alien grenade) or a heavy, a single heavy with the shredder rocket and extra AoE radius is a huge boon for any mission to deny enemy good cover, secondly it's a force multiplier versus groups, thirdly not only are you denying the enemy cover you are also generally living them out of cover meaning extra crit% and with a shredder rocket even more dmg. Also a rocket that does not kill an alien does not destroy any of their salvage. (props to ).
- Don't peek out of corners all the time: If there's a larger area of full cover available, it's sometimes beneficial to not stand at the edges. Like how a pick-up truck has 4 squares of full cover: if you stand in one of the middle squares the aliens wont have a shot at you at all. Specially when dashing, since you wont be able to shoot that turn anyway, and you can always move to the edge next turn and shoot. An exception for this is if you need to shoot a heavy rocket (as you can't move and shoot at the same time) or snipe. But it's risky. (props to )
- Plan out your satellite deployment schedule:The income is only at the end of the month, but so are the expenses (so if you are constructing uplinks that you aren't using by month end they are simply wasting money). Satellite construction takes 20 days, and roughly half a month for uplinks/power. This results in a natural cycle: prep excavations before the month start, at the moth start build power, workshops, satellites, then about halfway through the month uplink, towards the moth end they are all ready, repeat.(props to ).
- Abduction missions can't occur in countries with satellites over them: (and abduction UFO is not let through), this means two things: cover a continent in satellites and not only do you get the bonus but it's panic level cannot rise (assuming you don't fail missions) not even by proxy from other countries, because abductions you don't choose to do raise panic in countries of the same continent only; finally a faster+full world satellite coverage means no more abduction missions, meaning no need to worry about panic at all.(props to ).