Dwarfling's Soldier Build Guide

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Dwarfling's Soldier Build Guide

Post by Dwarfling » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:12 pm

This is a guide that describes the builds I use for my soldiers during my campaigns (Legendary Ironman with no mods). I play an aggressive style that relies on cover destruction and activating pods from squadsight after concealment is broken. The reason for this is the LW2 metagame: the vast majority of the game will be spent doing missions vs 8-11 enemies against a timer, thus the need for finishing pod encounters quick and getting into the next ones as fast as possible.

I adapt my builds based on soldier stats. Although you won't really have a choice on soldier class with the first batch of rookies because you'll need to deploy them for your first missions, the promotion system can be predicted at times since it wants you to have equal amounts of classed soldiers, thus if you have two of every class but Ranger and Sharpshooter, your next promoted Rookie will class as either Ranger or Sharpshooter and you'll want to deploy the Rookie with the highest aim.

Assault (high mobility): Breacher build. Not much to say except you want them paired with a shinobi to avoid unwanted activations. Early on they carry ablative, frag and an empty slot for mobility. When enemy HP starts going up, switch Frag with a vest. After PCS: Speed, fill the empty slot with ammo. Also good with a pistol. Preferred PCS: Speed.

Lightning Reflexes: the absolute best way of getting rid of the overabundance of overwatch.
Close and Personal: it's the criticals that give the assaults their killing power.
Fortify: now this Assault can afford to stay up close against live enemies.
Formidable: can also be used to bait explosive attacks by grouping up.
Close Encounters: unlike Rapid Fire, this allows you to shoot and then move, or change targets.
Untouchable: for extra survivability, tho Close Combat Specialist is still a good choice.
Lethal: mostly for the increase in the odds of killing with one shot for Close Encounters.

Assault (low mobility): Stun Gunner build. What these soldiers lack in killing power is compensated in flexibility at handling certain situations. Same equipment as the Breacher build. Works with any weapon but I still prefer shotguns after a Speed PCS has been applied, as they still get Extra Conditioning and Rapid Fire. Preferred PCS: Speed.

Lightning Reflexes: Electroshock tends to go obsolete after you get Stun Gunner.
Arc Pulser: to enable difficult hacks and for finishing robots at a distance. CnP is an alternative if you plan to use a shotgun.
Stun Gunner: now you'll have great odds of stunning even targets behind cover.
Extra Conditioning: this is a soldier that constantly uses Run and Gun due to low mobility.
Rapid Fire: this can be used with RnG, unlike the other options and goes well with any weapon.
Untouchable: you might end up in danger after killing a target.
Chain Lightning: core skill.

Assault (avg mobility): Rapid Fire build. This soldier's job is to kill high priority targets with a double crit. Probably the best soldier against Codex and Avatar, so it's nice to have one soldier with this build in your barracks. The build benefits from having more mobility, but at higher mobility I prefer the Breacher. Same equipment as the Breacher build. Preferred PCS: Speed.

Lightning Reflexes: no surprise here.
Close and Personal: no surprise here either.
Killer Instinct: guaranteeing the kill is more important.
Extra Conditioning: RnG is your main skill.
Rapid Fire: unlike CE, this prevents clone and teleportation before full damage is dealt.
Untouchable: you might end up in danger after killing a target.
Lethal: to secure the kill.

Grenadier: (low aim or low mobility): Sapper build. They support all the shooters in the team, and can wipe out single or multiple targets with an Incendiary. Full Kit can be selected to help with long missions, but Combat Engineer is better for short missions which will still be plentiful late game. They carry a SMG for mobility and an inventory full of grenades, although you might want to carry ablative while the soldier's HP is too low to take hits and survive, which I normally fix with PCS: Conditioning and armor. My favorite setup is Flashbang, Frag, Frag, 2xIncendiary. Preferred PCS: Conditioning.

Sapper: it takes experience to know which objects are completely destroyed.
Heavy Ordinance: it also allows you to carry ablative and still have enough grenades for the mission.
Boosted Cores: the +1 also applies to the burning DoT, making this a +3 for Incendiary Grenades.
HEAT Warheads: core skill.
Biggest Booms: +2 might not sound like a lot, but grenades are AoE attacks.
Volatile Mix: mainly for incendiaries.
Combat Engineer: each plasma grenade acts now like Bombard. Can be swapped with Full Kit.

Grenadier: (above avg aim and mobility): Support build. These soldiers are usually better when deployed with a team that has either other forms of cover destruction or soldiers that don't rely on it. They also excel against large number of enemies, common in the lategame, so using the AWC to retrain a TSGT Sapper is a viable choice even if you lose the soldier for a month. Preferably they use Rifles, so they need good mobility to keep up with the team and also enough aim to hit stuff, but an updated SMG can be used if speed is a concern for the mission. Preferred PCS: Conditioning.

Rapid Deployment: allows you to use a support grenade, then fire, or use two grenades.
Protector: allows 2x Frost Bomb. Also lategame you might want an all Flashbang inventory.
Bluescreen Bombs: great with Haywire, robots are dangerous because of their skills and mobility, which this takes care of.
Dense Smoke: I rarely bring smoke, but the other options are worse.
Sting Grenades: at this point you might want to take mostly flashbangs as incendiaries become weaker as enemy HP gets higher.
Volatile Mix: benefits all your grenades. Salvo can be overkill.
Full Kit: makes this soldier great for long missions.

Gunner: (high aim): Rapid Fire build. Won't handle enemies behind cover as well as a Ranger can, but anything in the open will take tons of damage. Particularly useful lategame against robotic enemies and the Gatekeeper as you'll shred their armor. Takes ablative and a frag early on, then replaces frag for a vest and adds ammo. Preferred PCS: Perception.

Combatives: personal preference. Knowing all Gunners and Shinobi counter melee makes for easier planning.
Formidable: always good to have.
Shredder: these soldiers are your designated armor killers.
Demolition: particularly useful in long missions as it doesn't have limited uses.
Cool Under Pressure: benefits both regular overwatch and Area Suppression.
Rapid Fire: the only problem is that there's no Locked On to counter the aim penalty.
Traverse Fire: you're now effectively a Ranger with a bigger (but less accurate) gun.

Gunner: (low aim): Suppression build. Made for those Gunners that weren't lucky with their aim stat. I'll be honest, I never take these on missions unless forced to because they're so inconsistent, so they're permanently assigned to Havens. Same equipment as the shooter build. Preferred PCS: Combat Awareness.

Combatives: personal preference.
Lockdown: probably not enough to hit consistently but it helps.
Hail of Bullets: the only way these guys can hit something reliably.
Demolition: adds extra usefulness.
Danger Zone: Area Suppression ain't so much about hitting but about enemies being tricked into taking suboptimal actions.
Rupture: as if this soldier will ever reach this rank.
Saturation Fire: maybe you can chew up some cover.

Ranger: (above avg aim): Rapid Fire build. Will probably be one of your best damage dealers, but this soldier does require a fair amount of help, both from equipment and squadmates. Once your aim gets high enough, not even cover will save enemies from taking damage. Starts with ablative, frag and a flashbang, then moves into ablative, vest and ammo. Preferred PCS: Perception.

Ever Vigilant: for flexibility. Walk Fire goes obsolete, but this one will always help you.
Locked On: of course.
Aggression: you can take Center Mass if you prefer but Aggression shines on missions with lots is enemies.
Executioner: helps to kill enemies even behind cover as long as they're hurt.
Implacable: this one adds a lot of flexibility in that if you kill with your 1st shot you can move and rapid fire something else. Or move out of cover for a flank, kill, then move back to safety.
Rapid Fire: core skill.
Combat Fitness: Rupture is redundant because you're bound to do more damage just by using Rapid Fire.

Ranger: (avg aim): Overwatch build. Can devastate a whole pod, however some enemies with Lightning Reflexes can ruin your Rapid Reaction streaks in the late game. Starts with ablative, frag and a flashbang, then moves into ablative, vest and ammo. Preferred PCS: Perception.

Ever Vigilant: core skill.
Locked On: Covering Fire can actually ruin this build by making you try to hit something behind high cover.
Cool Under Pressure: core skill.
Fortify: you'll mostly shoot targets at full health. And fortify helps if you're in a bad spot but need to take shots.
Grazing Fire: helps you with Rapid Reaction streaks.
Rapid Reaction: core skill.
Combat Fitness: Kill Zone is actually redundant to RR and tends to hit just as many targets.

Ranger: (low aim high mobility): Sawed-off and SMG build. Basically an Assault that hits way harder but doesn't get Run and Gun and Lightning Reflexes. Cheap to equip, useful mostly in GOps. If you had bad luck and got both low aim and low mobility the build can still be done but requires PCS: Advanced Speed and foregoing the vest. Starts with ablative and a frag, then moves into ablative and vest. Preferred PCS: Speed.

Close and Personal: close range is where this soldier wants to be.
Pump Action: core skill.
Center Mass: now your SMG also hits hard.
Fortify: more defense is welcomed.
Implacable: now you can move back to safety after assassinating something.
Rapid Fire: now your SMG can also kill.
Combat Fitness: no other choice, really, and the stats are great.

Sharpshooter: (avg mobility): Snap Shot build. This Sharpshooter's strength lies in that you don't need to find high ground to be effective, being useful for all missions. If they start with below avg aim the build can still be done but it will take more levels and equipment to start shining. Starts with ablative and a frag, then moves into ablative and ammo. Preferred PCS: Perception.

Snap Shot: core skill.
Center Mass: helps during the early game.
Lone Wolf: easier to use when lagging behind out of sight.
Low Profile: awesome skill. The other choices are also bad.
Aggression: extra crit to secure kills.
Hunter's Instinct: you won't always be steady for Kubikiri.
Serial: remember to activate before moving. Great skill paired with AoE support from your team, particularly cover removal.

Sharpshooter: (low mobility): DFA Crit build. Depends on terrain to be effective but when they do they're about the deadliest soldier in your barracks. This build can still be done if your soldier came with low aim, but you might need to stick to a scope instead of switching to laser sights, and thus the crit will be less reliable. Starts with ablative and a frag, then moves into ablative and ammo, preferably Talon rounds. When possible, equip a Spider Suit. Prefered PCS: Depth Perception.

Death from Above: core skill.
Damn Good Ground: the extra aim helps defeat cover. The defense also helps.
Precision Shot: one of your best skills.
Low Profile: most cover in high ground is partial cover so in combination with DGG you'll rarely get shot at.
Aggression: extra crit for...
Kubikiri: the best way to kill the toughest enemies I'm the game. Pair it with Get Some!
Alpha Mike Foxtrot: helps securing kills to keep DFA going.

Sharpshooter: (very high aim): Holo Target build. Contrary to other opinions I think this soldier is the most dependent on aim to contribute with damage output in small team missions. Holotargeting is mostly used when shot% is too low. Must always pair up with cover destruction. Works best in large teams. Starts with ablative, pistol and frag, then moves into ablative, pistol and ammo. Preferred PCS: Perception.

Rapid Targeting: core skill.
Center Mass: this guy is not a scout, also boosts the pistol.
HiDef Holo: core skill.
Low Profile: most targets won't survive for Independent Tracking.
Vital Point Targeting: core skill.
Multitargeting: can be swapped if preferred.
Double Tap: will help you defeat tough enemies in the open.

Shinobi: (avg aim): Blademaster build. The advantage of Blademaster is that it requires no extra setup and the +1dmg helps early in the campaign. Starts with ablative, frag and flashbang, then substitutes the frag for a medikit and ends up with ablative, vest and medikit. Preferred PCS: Agility.

Blademaster: this one has studied the blade.
Combatives: muton-be-gone.
Hard Target: Cutthroat is lackluster.
Bladestorm: you'll be amazed how much the AI disregards this.
Reaper: quite amazing if you can manage to keep the kill streak.
Whirlwind: allows you to return to safety.
Coup de Grace: it isn't terribly hard to setup with the help of your team.

Shinobi: (above avg aim): Lone Wolf flanker build. This build works better with above avg mobility. The advantage of this build is that it can proficiently use the SMG, which is very important mid and late game when you'll lack bodies to equip all your Shinobis with the best swords. Still, you'll use Fleche most of the time. Starts with ablative, frag and flashbang, then substitutes the frag for a medikit and ends up with ablative, vest and medikit. Preferred PCS: Agility.

Lone Wolf: besides the aim, helps counter negative defense.
Combatives: muton-be-gone.
Hard Target: for safety.
Low Profile: again, safety.
Hunter's Instinct: bumps SMG damage.
Hit and Run: not only you can shoot twice, you can shoot and retreat.
Rapid Fire: now you can shoot up to 3 times.

Shinobi: (below avg stats): Scout build. Not terribly reliable in combat, but sometimes you don't need the Shinobi to fight. This build is good for soldiers that came with awful stat lines. They are the most reliable way of keeping a scout concealed for your sharpshooter. Starts with ablative, frag and flashbang, then substitutes the frag for a medikit and ends up with ablative, vest and medikit. Prefered PCS: Agility.

Ghostwalker: essential to staying hidden.
Combatives: muton-be-gone.
Covert: core skill.
Shadow Strike: if you ever need to engage, this makes it count.
Evasive: you won't have the aim to use the other skills.
Tradecraft: makes it easier to add an extra squadmate into a mission.
Conceal: now you get a second chance.

Specialist (below avg aim): Combat Protocol build. More of a support, these guys also make good officers. Can use any weapon, including the Bolt Caster, unless mobility is too low, in which case SMG is preferred. Starts with ablative, frag and flashbang, then replaces the frag for a vest, them replaces the flashbang for a skulljack. Preferred PCS: Hack.

Combat Protocol: not only it's guaranteed damage, it has squadsight.
Field Surgeon: Intervention is also a decent choice should you not have access to an Assault.
Trojan: if it doesn't kill it'll stun. Amazing to kill solo drones while concealed.
Airdrop: gives plasma grenades after the project is completed.
Failsafe: good to have for the riskier hacks.
Full Override: can win you a short mission outright.
Capacitor Discharge: best choice for this soldier.

Specialist (above avg aim): Overwatch build. Despite being a shooter, they make extensive use of the Haywire ability. Starts with ablative, frag and flashbang, then replaces the frag for a vest, them replaces the flashbang for a skulljack. If you consider HP to be high enough, replace vest with ammo Prefered PCS: Hack.

Sentinel: core skill.
Covering Fire: unlike Rapid Reaction, Sentinel doesn't require a hit.
Trojan: amazing utility.
Ever Vigilant: although buggy, good for mobility.
Cool Under Pressure: core skill.
Full Override: too good to pass up.
Kill Zone: makes for devastating conceal ambushes.

Specialist (above avg aim): Medic-Overwatch build. Basically your go-to Specialist for long missions. It's important to remember the lack of Trojan. Equipment depends on the kind of mission, as you won't need a lot of medikit charges for short missions. For the long ones, I take ablative, medikit and skulljack. Preferred PCS: Hack.

Sentinel: core skill. Revival Protocol, although very good, would make this soldier's damage output too low.
Covering Fire: unlike Rapid Reaction, Sentinel doesn't require a hit.
Medical Protocol: core skill.
Field Medic: core skill.
Savior: so that you won't need multiple medikit charges on a friendly.
Full Override: too good to pass up.
Restoration: a bit overkill but might save your mission.

Technical (low mobility): Rocketeer build. One or two rockets might not sound like much, but is more than enough for the short missions. Equips SMG, ablative, frag and flashbang, and one of the grenades can be subbed for a vest. After PCS: Speed they can start using Rifles. Preferred PCS: Speed (makes flamethrower use easier).

Fire in the Hole: core skill.
Biggest Booms: can deal a fair amount of damage.
Concussion Rocket: actually pretty good as a desperation move.
Formidable: good stuff.
Javelin Rockets: for out-of-sight hijinks.
Salvo: good for many things, including officer skills.
Bunker Buster: core skill.

Technical (high mobility): Fireman build. More of a hybrid, this build keeps the usefulness of the rocket for cover removal at the cost of skills of limited practical use. Equips SMG and starts with ablative, frag and flashbang, then replaces the frag for a vest. Preferred PCS: Speed.

Fire in the Hole: Roust might be good to finish enemies, but it can screw you over if it fails. Also goes obsolete.
Napalm-X: increases the chances of disabling enemies if burning fails.
Burnout: great skill for risky moves.
Formidable: Phosphorous is awful as all robotics have high armor which the damage won't push thru.
Incinerate: now you won't need setup for conceal traps.
Quickburn: core skill.
Bunker Buster: much easier to use than Firestorm as it carries much lower risks.

SPARK: This is the only build that works for me. Whenever possible try to get proximity bonuses as if you were playing an Assault, and always aim for flanks. One of the biggest advantages of this SPARK, besides the high damage output early and mid game, is that they're incredibly hard to kill, and even if they're damaged, they repair quickly in the Avenger and can deploy while damaged, specially after Repair.

Formidable: for the extra ablative.
Rainmaker: incredible skill. Even better when paired with Plasma Blaster, as it makes it a wide line that vaporizes cover.
Bulwark: extra armor and allows others to take flanks in the open. Remember not to move adjacent to enemies, as it gives them cover.
Repair: also helps when deploying damaged SPARKs as you can heal at the start of the mission.
Bombard: remember it has unlimited range, but you need vision of the spot.
Damage Control: keeps it alive. Stay away from Wrecking Ball, it's awful.
Impact Fields: easier to use as it doesn't end your turn, but Sacrifice is also good. Enemies are bound to prioritize the SPARK anyways.

Psi Operative: Since it's somewhat random the skills you'll get I can't give you an exact build, but just a recommendation: as sweet as getting one of the big skills early sounds (Stasis, Null Lance, Domination, Void Rift), try to grab the ones with a shorter training time first, as leveling up quickly is more important.

EDITS: typos, clarifications and extra info.
Last edited by Dwarfling on Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:45 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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Re: Dwarfling's Soldier Build Guide

Post by SpinDoctor » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:47 pm

Nice write up from the guru. This one is going into my LW2 Manual.

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Re: Dwarfling's Soldier Build Guide

Post by gimrah » Sat May 11, 2019 12:28 pm

Nice write-up. Couple of points of mild disagreement:

Low aim holobot sharp is really nice with phantom, especially if he has decent movement and maybe access to covert or ghostwalker in the AWC. On bigger missions it's hard to get value out a shinobi as it's dangerous to run in and you want to preserve concealment. Mea while holo shines on those missions as it benefits more soldiers and later it helps your kubi sharp kill the bosses - extra crit means he doesn't need get some, plus the aim means the kubi sharp can use a laser sight instead of a scope.

Beware soldiers with too narrow a role. They don't level up.

On rangers I think walk fire is amazing. Yes it gets less valuable later but until rapid fire having that renewable finishing skill is invaluable.

Cutthroat is pretty good on shinobis because shieldbearers are priority targets, plus the shinobi will spend a lot of time poking mutons in the eye with combatives. And it's+2 damage on those targets. Meanwhile coup de grace is showy but conceal is probably more useful, not least as it allows the shinobi to participate in more fights because he can still go back to scouting.

On grenadiers, I decide sapper vs support based on defence. The sapper doesn't want to take formidable but with no room for a vest a grebadier kind of has to if he's the one that's going to get shot at. Shooting is almost always irrelevant with a grenadier unless you really luck out with AWC skills.

Rocketeeer technicals have few moments when they shine. With early gauntlet and battlesuit they are great in mid game. (And a javelin rocket is a neat way to win an invasion.) But they are very expensive to equip and they fall off later. I tend to agree with joirbs that the derpy tanky bit-of-both technical is the most useful, and cheap to use. I like fortify instead of Napalm X: with the smoke perk you can stand in the open and flame for best positioning and still be safe.

Specialists decide path based on hack and aim. The non-OW builds are ok as officers on GOps but not that good later. Hack is just better than healing mostly, even on big missions (especially then as it can be clutch). And if you have a good hacker he'll use a skulljack for extra hack with no room for medkits. Medical route is a good option for low hack soldiers.

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Re: Dwarfling's Soldier Build Guide

Post by Dwarfling » Tue May 14, 2019 2:48 am

- Low aim Holobot Scout Sharpshooters: I just don't think they contribute enough to small team infiltrations, which is going to be the majority of the missions, and if deployed as scout can risk the entire mission by bopping into something.

- Cutthroat: issue with this skill is that you will most likely not target a Shieldbearer with a Shinobi as they're usually in the middle of other troops. And in the case of Mutons, having more dodge diminishes their chances of critting and going thru your Combatives. I'd rather play safe, even if dodge isn't a sure thing either.

- Napalm-X: they're both safety measures, problem with taking Fortify is that in the event you fail to CC the target the technical might be safe, but the rest of the squad probably isn't.

- Specialists: problem with picking medics with low hack is that if they don't also have high aim they aren't going to contribute enough to justify deploying on small missions, and without those, they ain't gonna level up enough to be valuable for the important missions.

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Re: Dwarfling's Soldier Build Guide

Post by senryakku » Wed May 22, 2019 6:25 am

something seems weird.... hum for rangers, are the skills in order? I mean some of them I don't have in this line or some other pretty much are on the same line like fortify and grazing.

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Re: Dwarfling's Soldier Build Guide

Post by gimrah » Sat May 25, 2019 1:41 pm

I have room for exactly 1 holobot phantom sharp in my roster. Yes they are worse than shinobi on a Gop. But the beauty is they don't need to level up much to do their job, so you don't yave to run them on Gops. By SGT they do all you need them to. VPT is nice but not essential. Multi is unnecessary, as is independent targeting.

Dodge ie not a great way to counter muton crit for shinobis. Far better just to put them in the basic grey vest (can't remember what it's called). That gives -25 crit, which means a muton cannot crit with melee. Also shinobis are likely to be exposed to flank shots at some point. So for basic enemies that reduces crit risk from 40 to 15.

On the specialist, if I get one with bad hack and bad aim he's just not going to be A team. I'd probably go OW medic, as that's quite a handy build to use as haven adviser.

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