What to do about Overwatch?

Goumindong
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:04 pm

What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Goumindong » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:19 pm

In Long War 1 overwatching used to be a very strong ability. Enemies AI would respect it and so you could use it to hold their movement. The perks that made it stronger were varied and powerful.

But now overwatch is kind of weak. There are a few builds that kind of work, but in general its a bonus you get when enemies patrol into you. The main issue is that not something you can easily strategize around and that, by nature, any strategy that takes targeting out of your hands will tend to be weaker than those that do not. Actively killing aliens is stronger than letting them kill themselves.

Additionally the builds that do work come online late, interact poorly with the current skillset of units, and have significant pitfalls. This kind of ties into the old ranger debate, because people seem to love the ol' shoot twice hit-nothing ranger and i am trying to find a way to modify it in a manner that doesn't suffer these problems. Though i am not going to do it; I am not sure that simply removing the overwatch tree isn't the proper answer.

In terms of mechanics: Overwatch(not suppression) seems to have four primary skills:
  • Cool Under Pressure
  • Rapid Reaction/Sentinel/Guardian: (These are essentially the same skill just in different forms)
  • Ever Vigilant
  • Covering Fire
And then the bonus Kill Zone/Long Watch

(Long War 1 had 4: Covering Fire, Opportunist, Ready for Anything, Sentinel, all of which equal to or better than their counterparts here. The opportunist bonus is better than CUP at any aim above 33.3. RFA lets you shoot and OW. CV negated cover (iirc) when it went off)

Ever Vigilant and covering fire is probably the most interesting combination because it allows you to easily generate your own flanks and then overwatch. Ensuring that any offensive action will result in an attack. However, at its best, the combination of EV and CV is slightly worse than a run & gun activation because you still have the 70% or 60%(dashing enemy) aim penalty to attack and you can't crit without CUP as well.

The bonus is that you can do it every turn... but at the same time this is still kind of weak. Flanking consistently in this manner means you're going to have to have the defense in order to take advanced positions. And in order to get one low aim exposed rifle shot against an enemy we need to spend 3 perks. Which means that there is very little space left for either the offensive or defensive perks that the soldier will need to be properly competitive as a killer while also moving.

The end result seems to be, to me, that the optimal overwatch "spec" is to take CUP and RR/Sentinel and ignore everything else. For a ranger this is an issue because CUP is on the same tier as Aggression. And RR is on the same tier as Rapid Fire. So uhhh. Yea, that seems reasonable. Giving up the ability to do very high damage in a directed manner for the ability to maybe take 3 anti-synergistic* relatively low aim shots

Specialists have a similar problem. The overwatch feats are also on their strongest/most important tiers. Medical protocol justifies savior and field medic. Ever Vigilant has hard anti-synergy with every aspect of a specialists kit. Sentinel kind of requires CUP in order to justify... but Combat protocol is a near essential early game option. A specialist who takes CUP and Sentinel loses either medical protocol and savior OR the hard utility of combat protocol early. This makes them inefficient lategame as a medic and inefficient early game as guaranteed drone killer... But at the same time, the other things on the tree aren't so powerful that you would not consistently trade them were they on other tiers.

I am mainly posting to get a sense of what people think of the overwatch perks and what they would do to shuffle them around on specialists/rangers. My current full changelist that i am working on is in the spoilers and does a few extra things (it also is not completed, nothing is yet done to assaults, nor shinobi, nor rangers, nor specialists. Shinobi for one will be losing all of the +defense perks in the middle of the tree in favor of more dodge and may also be having some stealth swaps) which is mainly to boost some of the ammo, remove 2 action attacks from the AWC (and swap deadeye for precision shot, making precision shot a 1 action attack and giving deadeye back to sharps)
Spoiler: show
AWCPack.ini

;personal preference
ALWAYSSHOW= False -> True

;Removed 2 ability cost offensive actions besides cyclic fire from AWC
REMOVED:
+AWCAbilityTree_Offense=(Level=1, AbilityName="Deadeye", ApplyToWeaponSlot=eInvSlot_PrimaryWeapon)
REMOVED:
+AWCAbilityTree_Offense=(Level=2, AbilityName="Kubikuri", ApplyToWeaponSlot=eInvSlot_PrimaryWeapon)
REMOVED:
+AWCAbilityTree_Offense=(Level=3, AbilityName="DoubleTap", ApplyToWeaponSlot=eInvSlot_PrimaryWeapon)

XComGameData_SoldierSkills.ini

;This may get replaced with a recent psion mod: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/f ... =888340114
SOULFIRE_COOLDOWN= 4 -> 2
INSANITY_COOLDOWN= 4 -> 2

;Deadeye aim penalty reduced. Might be reduced further. Replacing Precision Shot on Sharpshooter Tree
DEADEYE_AIM_MULTIPLIER= 0.15f -> 0.10f

XComLW_SoldierSkills.ini

;this may get replaced with a recent psion mod: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/f ... =888340114
MIND_MERGE_DURATION=2 -> 4 ; This is number of "half-turns"

; Sting Grenades now stun for only 1/2 a round. But do so all the time
STING_GRENADE_STUN_CHANCE=50 -> 100
STING_GRENADE_STUN_LEVEL= 2 -> 1

;Flush is now better
FLUSH_DAMAGE_PENALTY= 0.90 -> 0.75

FLUSH_COOLDOWN= 2-> 1

FLUSH_AIM_BONUS=20 -> 50

;Precision shot now only requires one action. Being replaced by Deadeye on sharpshooter tree
PRECISION_SHOT_MIN_ACTION_REQ= 2 -> 1


XComGameCore.ini

;Increase value of all ammo
BLUESCREEN_DMGMOD= 3 -> 4
TALON_CRIT=1 -> 2
AimMod=5 -> 10 ; [XComGame.X2Effect_TracerRounds]

XComLW_Overhaul.ini

;Increase value of all ammo
SHREDDER_ROUNDS_SHRED= 1 -> 2

STILETTO_ALIEN_DMG= 2 ->3
NEEDLE_ADVENT_DMG= 2 -> 3
REDSCREEN_HACK_DEFENSE_CHANGE= -25 -> -50
FLECHETTE_BONUS_DMG= 2 -> 3

;Change XP calcs to reduce progression of soldiers on stealth missions
SQUAD_SIZE_MIN_FOR_XP_CALCS= 3 -> 5

XComClassData.ini

[LWS_Technical X2SoldierClassTemplate]

;Tactical Sense is super good and Rapid Fire is speciality on a non-shooting primary class
;RF goes earlier to compete with quickburn and salvo. Things that let you action+shoot.
;Tactical Sense is now a capstone for the tanking line
Tacitcal Sense -> MSGT ; Replaces Rapid Fire
Rapid Fire -> GSGT ; Replaces Tactical Sense

[LWS_Grenadier X2SoldierClassTemplate]

;Bluescreen bombs are kinda dumb from a gameplay design, turning a specialty option into a perfect option
;They get removed in favor of potentially more flashbangs

Flashbanger Replaces Bluescreen Bombs

[LWS_Gunner X2SoldierClassTemplate]

;Hail of Bullets and Shredder now competes with Demolition.
;Shredder has utility for pure suppression gunner, gives demolotion some competition for them
;Hail of bullets competes directly with demolition as early vs lategame perk
;Flush/Iron Curtain earlier force variance in "shooting" builds

Flush -> CPL ; Replaces Hail of Bullets
Iron Curtain -> CPL ; Replaces Shredder
Hail of Bullets -> SGT ; Replaces Flush
Shredder -> SGT; Replaces Iron Curtain

[LWS_Ranger X2SoldierClassTemplate]

[LWS_Sharpshooter X2SoldierClassTemplate]

;As Precision Shot is now a 1 turn action deadeye goes back into sharpshooter tree at CPL

PrecisionShot -> Deadye

*Overwatch itself has anti-synergy with Bring-Em-On (because the shots are end of turn this will necessitate lower bonuses from these), Close and Personal(can't choose which target to shoot, hard to ensure you're close enough), executioner and locked on (because you cannot easily control who gets the overwatch shot when you shoot).

marceror
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:47 am

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by marceror » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:57 pm

Personally, I don't think anything needs to be "done" about Overwatch.

It may have had a different impact/effectiveness in Long War 1, but XCOM EU and XCOM 2 are different games, and overwatch by extension works differently.

Personally, it seems to work just fine in my opinion. I have a few characters that are spec'd to be overwatch champions, but by making that choice the tradeoff is that they are going to be really good at something that I/the player can't directly control. So I tend to focus on attacks that I can directly control, and use overwatch as another opportunity to do some damage, which is often still quite effective. Add a ranger with overwatch perks or even a specialist here and there to make those overwatch opportunities more powerful. There seems to be reasonable choice and consequences here.

I dunno. Maybe there's an issue and I'm not seeing it, but overwatch as a mechanic in LW2 seems perfectly serviceable to me, even if it's not quite what it was in LW1.

chrisb
Terra Invicta Dev
Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:43 pm

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by chrisb » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:06 pm

Overwatch is wierd now. The perks got nerfed pretty hard, but you now have sequential overwatch. This makes overwatch more powerful when you have all of your soldiers doing it, but having 1 dedicated overwatcher is now sort of useless, and covering fire simply makes overwatch worse not better most of the time.

Rangers could be good overwatch if they had better perks. CUP/CF need to be buffed and RfA needs to be added to have anything close to a useful overwatch ranger.

I don't understand why Specialist even has an overwatch build. They have the lowest aim progression, no defense perks and are rarely the type of soldier you want to put near the front line. The whole class seems like a loosely cobbled together and neutered version of the LW1 medic, which at least had either strong utility or strong overwatch. Now you have neither...

The other problem I have with overwatch is the nerf to scopes. Having to choose between aim on a controlled shot vs aim on an uncontrolled shot makes overwatch even less valuable. Taking both only means you have to choose between mag/reload. With how bad ranger overwatch is already, I don't see me ever putting a hair trigger on a ranger.

I would say

CUP: +20 Aim on reaction fire
CF: Reduce enemy defense from all sources by 50% (Would make it a nice counter to Tac Sense/Static Defense as well as negate high cover).
RfA: Bring this back

I doubt anything will change with the HairTrigger/Scope nerfing, so I'll not waste my breath on that. At least if you had decent overwatch perks you could justify losing the scope.

Even then, I don't think I really care what they do with overwatch, it's 100% better to kill aliens on your turn.

Tuhalu
Posts: 433
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:02 pm

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Tuhalu » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:27 pm

It's 100% better to kill aliens on your own turn, except when you have to move out of your heavy cover to reach them. Then it's 100% better to make them come to you and die in a withering field of overwatch fire.

Most of my Rangers are overwatch experts. I always have at least one overwatch Specialist. In my latest campaign I also got a Gunner with Guardian (AWC). Anything that survives moving out of the fog of war is easy meat for the rest of the team.

marceror
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:47 am

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by marceror » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:39 pm

chrisb wrote: I don't understand why Specialist even has an overwatch build. They have the lowest aim progression, no defense perks and are rarely the type of soldier you want to put near the front line. The whole class seems like a loosely cobbled together and neutered version of the LW1 medic, which at least had either strong utility or strong overwatch. Now you have neither...
I see it as more of a novelty, to be honest, but assuming you are using "Not Created Equally" it's possible to have some high aim specialists. I have one such candidate in my squad of former Navy SEALs (Zulu Squad - The Diamondback SEALs), which is a very combat oriented squad. Mr. Erik S. Kristensen himself is the specialist who leads that squad, and he is quite deadly with his overwatch perks and Coil Rifle (with an elite hair trigger equipped). The team Ranger, Mr. Michael P. Murphy focuses direct fire capabilities rather than reaction fire, and by extension he uses an elite scope. Incidentally, I can now manufacture my own elite scopes for my squad. :P

This configuration has been working very well for this squad. I have no regrets about building them that way.

chrisb
Terra Invicta Dev
Posts: 364
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Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by chrisb » Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:14 pm

Tuhalu wrote:It's 100% better to kill aliens on your own turn, except when you have to move out of your heavy cover to reach them. Then it's 100% better to make them come to you and die in a withering field of overwatch fire.

Most of my Rangers are overwatch experts. I always have at least one overwatch Specialist. In my latest campaign I also got a Gunner with Guardian (AWC). Anything that survives moving out of the fog of war is easy meat for the rest of the team.
I don't really understand your first point. "except when you have to move out of your heavy cover to reach them".

The biggest problem I see with this strat is that you give up all control to RNG. If your running back out of fog of war, then your not supressing/flashbanging to shut off abilities that negate or don't care about overwatch. Your only control here is a kill shot, which is less likely to happen because you give up all the damage perks to get overwatch.

Anything that launches grenades/projectiles can 'cheat'. They can land pixel perfect shots through terrain/floors of buildings from out of LOS. They can very often get into a position that doesn't pull your overwatch and land perfect grenades/rockets that wipe your overwatch for this turn and possibly the next 2. Not to mention setting you on fire, destroying your cover for the rest of the ayys to deal with you. This is mostly possible because they can calculate perfect shots from every tile they can reach, where as you'd basically have to cheat with TTC to do the same.

Sneks would be another issue. They care little about overwatch. A pod of sneks would wreck an overwatch trap pretty quickly. Anything with LR/Tac Sense/Dodge/Defense is going to care little about an overwatch trap. In fact anything with above kill shot HP is going to care very little about overwatch since nothing changes if you don't kill them.

I guess I just see it as a very risky prospect compared to being able to control if not kill. Those are really the only two things that matter. Wounding them does nothing on their turn.

Goumindong
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:04 pm

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Goumindong » Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:33 pm

marceror wrote:Personally, I don't think anything needs to be "done" about Overwatch.

It may have had a different impact/effectiveness in Long War 1, but XCOM EU and XCOM 2 are different games, and overwatch by extension works differently.

Personally, it seems to work just fine in my opinion. I have a few characters that are spec'd to be overwatch champions, but by making that choice the tradeoff is that they are going to be really good at something that I/the player can't directly control. So I tend to focus on attacks that I can directly control, and use overwatch as another opportunity to do some damage, which is often still quite effective. Add a ranger with overwatch perks or even a specialist here and there to make those overwatch opportunities more powerful. There seems to be reasonable choice and consequences here.

I dunno. Maybe there's an issue and I'm not seeing it, but overwatch as a mechanic in LW2 seems perfectly serviceable to me, even if it's not quite what it was in LW1.
Well the choices are reasonable in abstract. But not necessarily in reality. Because not only are actions that you can control more powerful in abstract but the perks associated with that are more powerful in actuality as well.

So while i want to have an overwatch character be "something i can do to get some extra value in a few situations" the bonus that they get in the few situations is smaller than the bonus they lose in general.

marceror
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:47 am

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by marceror » Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:37 pm

chrisb wrote: I don't really understand your first point. "except when you have to move out of your heavy cover to reach them".
I'm pretty sure he means that, while it is generally better to be on the attack, if you have to give up a strong defensive position to do so, it is often better to set up heavy overwatch positions and let the enemy move into your strong defensive position.

Once they are there, you can rely more on preemptive attacks rather than reaction fire. I can agree that in many situations this is tactically a better way to go.

marceror
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:47 am

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by marceror » Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:48 pm

Goumindong wrote:
marceror wrote:Personally, I don't think anything needs to be "done" about Overwatch.

It may have had a different impact/effectiveness in Long War 1, but XCOM EU and XCOM 2 are different games, and overwatch by extension works differently.

Personally, it seems to work just fine in my opinion. I have a few characters that are spec'd to be overwatch champions, but by making that choice the tradeoff is that they are going to be really good at something that I/the player can't directly control. So I tend to focus on attacks that I can directly control, and use overwatch as another opportunity to do some damage, which is often still quite effective. Add a ranger with overwatch perks or even a specialist here and there to make those overwatch opportunities more powerful. There seems to be reasonable choice and consequences here.

I dunno. Maybe there's an issue and I'm not seeing it, but overwatch as a mechanic in LW2 seems perfectly serviceable to me, even if it's not quite what it was in LW1.
Well the choices are reasonable in abstract. But not necessarily in reality. Because not only are actions that you can control more powerful in abstract but the perks associated with that are more powerful in actuality as well.

So while i want to have an overwatch character be "something i can do to get some extra value in a few situations" the bonus that they get in the few situations is smaller than the bonus they lose in general.
I think many players myopically focus on the individual effectiveness of each soldier, and neglect to account for the concept of a balanced squad being greater than the sum of its parts.

If you're rolling with a squad of 8 soldiers, in my experience you can absolutely afford to have one or two that are specialized for roles that aren't the shootiest, killiest roles possible. And in fact, the SQUAD is often better on the whole because it's better prepared when those specializations come into play. I have a number of overwatch rangers, and when you have those inevitable turns where half the map is coming at you, and you're going to need to go more defensive and do overwatches - those 3 overwatch shots can be life savers, even better if someone else is laying down a kill zone.

People seem like they want to build their entire barracks with soldiers who are spec'd for the best case scenario combat situation -- i.e. see enemy, kill enemy. Unless you're playing a different Long War 2 than I am, missions OFTEN don't present you with the best case scenario.

Yesterday I recently completed a "destroy the alien data node" type mission that I had 5 hours to infiltrate. Doing it would allow me to counter a nasty Dark Event, so after some deliberation I decided to bring in a squad of 10 and try my hand.

I was successful in that mission, which had a final tally of 47 enemies, after 2 reinforcements. 4 of my soldiers were injured and none were killed. I only managed to beat the mission by going offensive when the situation warranted it, and being much more defensive when it was tactically necessary. Overwatch played a big part in my ability to overcome that mission. If I had run out to the alien positions, I can guarantee I would have lost my squad due to the 8 turn evac counter.

Goumindong
Posts: 193
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Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Goumindong » Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:15 pm

marceror wrote: I think many players myopically focus on the individual effectiveness of each soldier, and neglect to account for the concept of a balanced squad being greater than the sum of its parts.

If you're rolling with a squad of 8 soldiers, in my experience you can absolutely afford to have one or two that are specialized for roles that aren't the shootiest, killiest roles possible.
OK, but you haven't said anything about OW being that answer. Or why the current structure actually makes sense. Or how tweaking OW to be a bit stronger/fit in better with the stronger builds produces a bad situation

Its also well, wrong. If you need to go defensive you go defensive. But OW is not particularly defensive and only functions as such when enemies cannot shoot at you. If enemies can then they just shoot at you from behind their cover, and you traded (at best if you have CF) better attacks for weaker attacks. If enemies cannot shoot at you you don't need to go defensive, so trading powerful active shots for iffy passive shots seems foolish. If enemies can shoot at you but cannot hit you do not need to worry about actions in the intervening turns.

Edit: its only if enemies cannot see you and will move into range to see you and shoot at you, that a heavy OW spec makes sense. But preparing for that isn't "preparing for a worst case scenario" its preparing for a best case scenario.

marceror
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:47 am

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by marceror » Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:47 pm

Goumindong wrote:
marceror wrote: I think many players myopically focus on the individual effectiveness of each soldier, and neglect to account for the concept of a balanced squad being greater than the sum of its parts.

If you're rolling with a squad of 8 soldiers, in my experience you can absolutely afford to have one or two that are specialized for roles that aren't the shootiest, killiest roles possible.
OK, but you haven't said anything about OW being that answer. Or why the current structure actually makes sense. Or how tweaking OW to be a bit stronger/fit in better with the stronger builds produces a bad situation

Its also well, wrong. If you need to go defensive you go defensive. But OW is not particularly defensive and only functions as such when enemies cannot shoot at you. If enemies can then they just shoot at you from behind their cover, and you traded (at best if you have CF) better attacks for weaker attacks. If enemies cannot shoot at you you don't need to go defensive, so trading powerful active shots for iffy passive shots seems foolish. If enemies can shoot at you but cannot hit you do not need to worry about actions in the intervening turns.

Edit: its only if enemies cannot see you and will move into range to see you and shoot at you, that a heavy OW spec makes sense. But preparing for that isn't "preparing for a worst case scenario" its preparing for a best case scenario.
Meh. I don't have a lot of time to explain the entire set of tactics I would use, especially since it would depend on the situation. But, if you thought I was advocating that overwatch, and overwatch alone was the answer, allow me to assure you I was not. First off, if you have an overwatch spec'd ranger, for example, their shots shouldn't be inferior shots. They will have strong accuracy and the ability to crit -- of course the big downside is they will shoot at what they see first, which may or may not be advatageous. Further, it behooves to try to gain high ground advantages, using smoke grenades on your squad, flashbangs on the enemies, using rockets to blow cover and apply damage to enemies (I use red fog for enemies and my squad by the way) while leaving them in the open. In the mission described above, I had a fully ranked SPARK with the ability that sucks up damage for the squad. Officers can use abilities to reduce explosive damage, if that is a risk. You can also use a tank character as a decoy, putting them up in the front with aid protocol and perhaps even a mind merge buff. The point is, there is an entire litany of possibilities that you can use to reduce your chance of being injured while the enemy runs into your line of fire. And if you do it right, once the enemy comes in range, most if not all of them will have dashed to get there, so they won't even get to take a shot.

This is a lot of what I relied on in the mission I described above. The most important thing is to think. Think through those difficult moments carefully to make sure you don't overlook an advantage. Overwatch doesn't win missions, nor should it. Thinking, I would argue, does.

EDIT - At any rate, my intention here isn't to convince anyone that overwatch is exactly as it should be, as I'm not even sure that's the case. In my mind, the burden of proof lies with the original poster, as he's asking what should we do about this "overwatch issue" (a la "what to do about overwatch). I'm not convinced that there's a problem with overwatch, as I seem to be doing just fine with it, and nothing I've read thus far has convinced me otherwise. My intention was just to chime in to say perhaps we (err, Pavonis) do(does) nothing about overwatch, and players just roll with what they've got like I've been doing.

I realize that's not going to fly for the large number of players who like to scrutinize over every little detail. I'm not one of them. to be sure. I'm finding the game to be imminently playable and imminently winnable, so I'd rather spend my precious hours of free time enjoying the game rather than arguing about the minutiae. That's just me. :geek:

But I will say that your statement that I'm "wrong" gives me a chuckle, as my success in the game thus far would suggest otherwise.

Notintheface
Posts: 11
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Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Notintheface » Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:53 pm

I am curious what is generally thought of as the best way to activate new pods in an untimed mission, once first stealth opener is blown.

I generally form a line with the shooty people in the best cover I can find, then send out a shinobi scout to find the new pods, and draw the pod with the DFA snipers. If they are far away I get to whittle down a couple of the biggest threats every turn until they reach the defensive line, but when they do the defensive line is all on OW. So actually I quite like my RR rangers, and I have a RR gunner (AWC) that I enjoy a lot as well.

Even in timed missions, it seems best to activate pods on their turn if you can help it (e.g. you scouted them out, again after the initial engagement so there is already some noise/yellow alert and they are actively looking for you, then form up just out of LOS waiting for them to patrol into you), so again strong OW-ers seem helpful?

Goumindong
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:04 pm

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Goumindong » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:11 am

marceror wrote:First off, if you have an overwatch spec'd ranger, for example, their shots shouldn't be inferior shots.
Yes. They are. A non-OW spec'd ranger will have either CM or aggression and will have a higher hit rate on rapid fire against exposed targets than the OW spec'd ranger will against exposed targets. (to 85 base aim. Below the OW is slightly better to-hit than RF. Without RF its to 33 adjusted aim.)

This means the non-OW shots will be rocking 5 to 30% more critical strike (or +1 damage) at the minimum(Assuming builds are the same with the exception of CUP and RR). This doesn't include OW specific defensive buffs.
Further, it behooves to try to gain high ground advantages, using smoke grenades on your squad, flashbangs on the enemies, using rockets to blow cover and apply damage to enemies (I use red fog for enemies and my squad by the way) while leaving them in the open. In the mission described above, I had a fully ranked SPARK with the ability that sucks up damage for the squad.
Overwatch doesn't really do anything against exposed enemies which are flashed, shooting into 7 armor smoked sparks. You could have just shot them when they were exposed with a shot that had higher aim. You seem to be confusing the effect of overwatch with the effect of flashbangs, smoke grenades, and spark defense tanking.

You've actually reduced your advantage here by specializing overwatch.

chrisb
Terra Invicta Dev
Posts: 364
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Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by chrisb » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:24 am

Sure, there are strats that can make overwatch more effective. And I'm sure anyone who spends lots of time playing with it will get better at using it. I tried doing overwatch builds for awhile, and having played more aggressive alpha strike builds I found them very underwhelming. They often did not kill because they lack any sort of damage perks. Not to mention all the hard counters that exist that make overwatch useless that only become more prolific. Add on to that how late in the game your actually getting decent overwatch. I can understand carrying a Sniper to get Serial, but carrying an infantry to get rapid reaction? Especially when those middle ranks of the crit build are so good to your mid-game, it simply takes to long for an infantry to become useful at overwatch.

I don't play with red fog, I think it nerfs the game by too much. I might try a game with Red Fog XCom Only, but you already have so much initiative advantage that red fog is a nerf 90% of the time. It's far too easy to turn Legend into Rookie with red fog.

Without red fog, the massive nerf to overwatch, grazing, no damage perks available... it's a novelty that only works if you are snowballing your campaign and your tech is allowing your overwatch to 'seem' good. If your not snowballing, then those overwatch shots are just not going to connect, and if they do they're not going to kill.

marceror
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:47 am

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by marceror » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:46 am

Goumindong wrote:
marceror wrote:First off, if you have an overwatch spec'd ranger, for example, their shots shouldn't be inferior shots.
Yes. They are. A non-OW spec'd ranger will have either CM or aggression and will have a higher hit rate on rapid fire against exposed targets than the OW spec'd ranger will against exposed targets. (to 85 base aim. Below the OW is slightly better to-hit than RF. Without RF its to 33 adjusted aim.)

This means the non-OW shots will be rocking 5 to 30% more critical strike (or +1 damage) at the minimum(Assuming builds are the same with the exception of CUP and RR). This doesn't include OW specific defensive buffs.
Further, it behooves to try to gain high ground advantages, using smoke grenades on your squad, flashbangs on the enemies, using rockets to blow cover and apply damage to enemies (I use red fog for enemies and my squad by the way) while leaving them in the open. In the mission described above, I had a fully ranked SPARK with the ability that sucks up damage for the squad.
Overwatch doesn't really do anything against exposed enemies which are flashed, shooting into 7 armor smoked sparks. You could have just shot them when they were exposed with a shot that had higher aim. You seem to be confusing the effect of overwatch with the effect of flashbangs, smoke grenades, and spark defense tanking.

You've actually reduced your advantage here by specializing overwatch.
My comments about flashbangs were meant to address your previous comment about overwatch not being a good defensive tactic. I was elaborating on all of the other stuff you should be doing alongside some of the overwatches to get your squad into a strong defensive situation. I was never trying to imply or say that those abilities modify the effectiveness of overwatch. I think you must have imagined that part.

And to your comment about reducing one's advantage, again, totally situational. If enemies are running into my line of fire ON THEIR TURN, and I get to take 3, highly accurate, potentially critting shots at them because I'm spec'd for overwatch, in that scenario I'm certainly at an advantage over ranger who spec'd a different way.

When I killed the Berserker Queen with one of my top rangers with my third and final overwatch shot... and she didn't get to do squat to my squad, I certainly wasn't thinking "let's create a thread about how overwatch is weak".

That all said, you guys knock yourselves out if you want to spend the next 10 pages arguably ad infinitum about, whatever you want to argue about overwatch. I'm not interested in getting sucked into that.

I enjoy going into different missions with different sets of tools and finding ways to make them work. And I continue to maintain that overwatch has been and continues to be an effective tool in my squads arsenal. I have no regrets for speccing a handful of characters to be extra effective at this skill. Did I do a detailed analysis based on lots of number crunching to form that opinion? Hell no. That's the last thing I want to do when I have a couple hours of free time.

Are my opinions wrong? Well, as long as I continue to win the game I'm not even sure that question is particularly important, or relevant. I would rather say my results speak for themselves.

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Nagul
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Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Nagul » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:49 am

marceror wrote: In my mind, the burden of proof lies with the original poster, as he's asking what should we do about this "overwatch issue" (a la "what to do about overwatch). I'm not convinced that there's a problem with overwatch, as I seem to be doing just fine with it, and nothing I've read thus far has convinced me otherwise.
This. I spec 2/3 of my ranger in overwatch as I find them superior in most situations. My first MSGT is usually my first overwatch ranger (I don't do stealth mission), so obviously they aren't hindered by speccing overwatch.

I also disagree that overwatch isn't something "you can easily strategize around". IA is predictable and overall take decisions that make sense. Overwatching deny some good decision to the IA, like grabbing a better cover or preventing them to rush a vulnerable squad member. I'm perfectly fine in "wasting" a turn on one of my soldier if I know it significantly reduce the odds of one of my guy getting killed.

I always have 1 overwatch guy on my A-team. I'm sure lot of other people here also do. Because they fill a crucial role better than any other spec. Explain to me WHY I'm doing things wrong since overwatch is that weak. Otherwise, any proposed change isn't worth considering. You didn't convince anyone by only stating it's "kind of weak".

marceror
Posts: 137
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Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by marceror » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:57 am

Nagul wrote:
marceror wrote: In my mind, the burden of proof lies with the original poster, as he's asking what should we do about this "overwatch issue" (a la "what to do about overwatch). I'm not convinced that there's a problem with overwatch, as I seem to be doing just fine with it, and nothing I've read thus far has convinced me otherwise.
This. I spec 2/3 of my ranger in overwatch as I find them superior in most situations. My first MSGT is usually my first overwatch ranger (I don't do stealth mission), so obviously they aren't hindered by speccing overwatch.

I also disagree that overwatch isn't something "you can easily strategize around". IA is predictable and overall take decisions that make sense. Overwatching deny some good decision to the IA, like grabbing a better cover or preventing them to rush a vulnerable squad member. I'm perfectly fine in "wasting" a turn on one of my soldier if I know it significantly reduce the odds of one of my guy getting killed.

I always have 1 overwatch guy on my A-team. I'm sure lot of other people here also do. Because they fill a crucial role better than any other spec. Explain to me WHY I'm doing things wrong since overwatch is that weak. Otherwise, any proposed change isn't worth considering. You didn't convince anyone by only stating it's "kind of weak".
I hadn't thought to mention it, but my top overwatch ranger has my 3rd highest kill count in barracks of more than 100 soldiers, at 97 kills. She is beat only by my top Sharpshooter at 102 kills and my top Assault at 111 kills!

She must be doing something right! ;)

EDIT - Oh, and just checking missions completed, she got her 97 kills in 25 missions, the sharpshooter got hers in 29 missions, and the assault got his in 37 missions. So, on a per mission basis she's just about my best alien killer.

Tuhalu
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Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Tuhalu » Sat Mar 25, 2017 1:29 am

The perfect time to overwatch is when only your scout can see the enemy and you know they are heading your way (patrolling in the right direction or on yellow alert). The result, when using 2 or 3 overwatch specced characters is that 2 or 3 additional enemies die or take serious wounds as they run into your overwatch (as they are moving in the open, none of them get cover benefits). This leaves you with only a handful of enemies to clean up before the next pod arrives, which your cleanup specialists can handily take care of (with sharpshooting, rockets, grenades, hacking, suppression fire, etc).

Yes, if the enemy managed to get the TDE for lightning reflexes on a bunch of enemies, your overwatchers will have more trouble. That is by no means assured. I've only got 1 or 2 enemies (Archons mostly) with Lightning Reflexes in my current campaign in December, so most of the time it has no effect. When I know one of those enemies is with an incoming pod, I snipe them down while they are still well outside of overwatch range.

Shadowstep adjusts which enemies get shot dead as they move into range and which ones need to be killed on my turn.

Overwatch experts win because they they put out a high volume of fire during the aliens scamper action, preventing them from taking offensive actions and keeping a few shots ahead of the incoming crowds.

They work incredibly well on guerilla ops too, since most engagements involve 3 or 4 enemies at a time and your additional shots against out-of-cover opponents leave you with very few enemies to clean up.

My experience is that "crit rangers" have more trouble keeping up with a mobile force and are stuck shooting targets in cover more often, reducing their effectiveness.

chrisb
Terra Invicta Dev
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Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by chrisb » Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:08 am

marceror wrote:in barracks of more than 100 soldiers
Maybe if you stop exploiting it'll be easier to take you serious on any discussion on balance. Until then your win screens and kill counts are meaningless.

marceror
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:47 am

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by marceror » Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:18 am

chrisb wrote:
marceror wrote:in barracks of more than 100 soldiers
Maybe if you stop exploiting it'll be easier to take you serious on any discussion on balance. Until then your win screens and kill counts are meaningless.
Are you joking? How am I exploiting?

Is there some rule I missed that I'm not supposed to build the strongest XCOM I can? Am I supposed to try and do poorly, and then join the majority of folks who complain that the game is too hard and needs to be rebalanced? That makes like zero sense.

How am I supposed to take you seriously when you make laughable comments like that?

Bu6613man
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:44 pm

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Bu6613man » Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:07 am

Well, this thread has degenerated a little bit. But I'm really intrigued by this question. The overwatch tree for the Ranger is perhaps the most interesting tree in LW2 in my opinion (deciding the right Sharpshooter tree is another great question.)

I think that my past trouble using OW rangers, excluding things with shadowstep and Lightning Reflexs, is the lack of damage. It's perhaps easier to find flanks, and therefore crits, with OW Rangers, but you miss out on both Aggression if you want CuP, and Bring 'em On if you want Ever Vigilant. The rifle already hits weaker than all the other shooty classes. Without Shredder, I've seen three shots get absorbed by high armor enemies relatively frequently.

But I think the biggest problem here is the perk order. Covering fire is really only useful if you have Ever Vigilant, or a Threat Assessment (genuinely a contender for my favorite perk) Specialist. Both of those are relatively late perks. To be able to flank, and then shoot on anything but a hunker is a big part of what makes Ever Vigilant worth much. I think that Rangers are intend to be successful as over watchers, and that they seem to have a whole tree dedicated to almost that whole concept (I'm looking at you Suppression *grr.)

To that end, I'd either build Covering Fire into another perk, or give it to the ranger for free. The opportunity cost for Covering fire over either Close and Personal or Walk Fire is just too large to justify ever taking, even on rangers intend to OW. Honestly, I think Rangers would still have a claim to the weakest class in the game, if you either gave them CF for free.

Suppression is an obvious outlier, is too weak, and has no place on the tree in my opinion. I think I might try to edit the Ranger skill tree, can I do that in the INI's?

Goumindong
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:04 pm

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Goumindong » Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:29 am

You can do that in the ini's yes. Edit: what swaps people would make is exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for.

nightwyrm
Posts: 260
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:52 pm

Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by nightwyrm » Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:35 am

Bu6613man wrote: But I think the biggest problem here is the perk order. Covering fire is really only useful if you have Ever Vigilant, or a Threat Assessment (genuinely a contender for my favorite perk) Specialist. Both of those are relatively late perks. To be able to flank, and then shoot on anything but a hunker is a big part of what makes Ever Vigilant worth much. I think that Rangers are intend to be successful as over watchers, and that they seem to have a whole tree dedicated to almost that whole concept (I'm looking at you Suppression *grr.)
Threat Assessment grants Covering Fire, so the CF perk is actually redundant in this case.

Notintheface
Posts: 11
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Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by Notintheface » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:59 pm

Notintheface wrote:I am curious what is generally thought of as the best way to activate new pods in an untimed mission, once first stealth opener is blown.

I generally form a line with the shooty people in the best cover I can find, then send out a shinobi scout to find the new pods, and draw the pod with the DFA snipers. If they are far away I get to whittle down a couple of the biggest threats every turn until they reach the defensive line, but when they do the defensive line is all on OW. So actually I quite like my RR rangers, and I have a RR gunner (AWC) that I enjoy a lot as well.

Even in timed missions, it seems best to activate pods on their turn if you can help it (e.g. you scouted them out, again after the initial engagement so there is already some noise/yellow alert and they are actively looking for you, then form up just out of LOS waiting for them to patrol into you), so again strong OW-ers seem helpful?
Still curious as to OP's thoughts on how he activates pods, to contextualise the different opinions on OW - whether it is partly because of playstyle that you think OW is weak.

I guess it is also a reasonable view that you can do the same thing without OW builds to slightly less effect, because the alternative builds give you more important things like burst. After all, if you can set up this kind of "best case scenario", it doesn't quite matter how many OW shots you get. While the other builds give you more in the other, less ideal scenarios.

LordYanaek
Posts: 940
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Re: What to do about Overwatch?

Post by LordYanaek » Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:31 pm

Speaking of my Commander difficulty experience.
  • Overwatch Rangers. Those can actually be good in the right squad. I had one in my heavy duty "Sledgehammer" squad (it was the actual name of the squad). He didn't have Covering Fire (i'm still debating whether this is a situationally good or plainly bad perk) nor Ever Vigilant (squad was rarely running) but had Grazing Fire. That squad was often doing bad infiltration missions, after i decided to stop exploiting 0% raids they did all the low infiltration Prevent Dataleak and in those missions when you go loud and kill the first pod you can expect to see another one (or two) come for you in the next alien turn. Most of the time he would land 3 shots and kill 2-3 aliens. Grazing Fire allowed him to still have a chance when a LR Archon was leading the pod. He did a really good job at helping me. If required he could shoot once to finish an alien and then OW for a total of 4 shots which is really not bad (a RF ranger can only take 3 shots). I also had a DFA sniper and an holotargetting officer in this squad so when they were not surrounded by pods, i would usually try to kill stuff from a distance (thanks to the shinobi scout). Other soldiers would OW and wait and then again that Ranger was very useful with 3 shots when everybody else had 1. He worked really well in this squad.
  • Overwatch Specialist. I had one going in small to medium squads doing guerilla missions. When you have to run for the objective, automatically overwatching can be pretty useful and doing this with 2 shots is even better. If someone discovered me, they would suffer and i could dispatch them more easily. It was still a specialist to hack stuff from a distance with good chances to get additional rewards. Note that this build can actually be dangerous if you'r trying to do a pure stealth mission as the shots will attract more pods but in medium size missions it can be useful.
Answers to some arguments i've read.
  • OW shots are weak. With CuP, Hair Trigger and Laser Sight you have both bonus to hit and bonus to crit, something you can't do with a scope. Your shots go on exposed targets (usually OW targets units moving between covers) so you actually have a pretty good crit chance, even without some crit perks. They might have slightly lower to hit chances but when you get them moving, the lack of cover means you still have pretty accurate shots. You can't always shoot at exposed targets during your turn.
  • Wounding an enemy (and not killing it) does nothing. Well, if you have Red Fog they are already weaker but even without Red Fog they won't take an offensive yellow status reaction and if you had Venom/Dragon rounds, they now suffer a debilitating DoT effect. I wish i could tell my RR ranger to never take a second shot at a wounded enemy, it's waste of status effect when he kills them outright.
  • Specialists are bad overwatchers because they have the worst aim. Wut???? They have the same aim progression as Assaults, Shinobis, Grenadiers and Techs. Only Rangers, Gunners and Sharpshooters are better and for Rangers and Gunners only by 4 points that become 2.8 when you consider the 70% for overwatch. The difference with a Ranger is small enough that the rookie-level aim is almost exclusively what determines your final result (for an overwatch build). If you train only low aim soldiers as specialists then of course they will be bad but it's a decision you took (and one that can obviously be defended) but not a specificity of the class.
Bottom point, i think overwatch builds usefulness really depends on their squad. They can be useful or useless depending on how we play (like many other options we have in LW2) and it's actually good that we have options that fit different ways to play. I don't see any issue with them, the only issue is when a player tries to use them but plays in a way that doesn't use them, then of course they become useless. Well, a DFA sharpshooter is almost useless if you just keep pushing forward every turn and blast everything with tons of AoE. It might be easier to find how to make the DFA sharpshooter useful but the situation is basically the same, they can be useful in the right situation, if your gameplay is such that the situation never arises, don't train them as they will be useless. :)

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