XCOM 2 Resistance Order Analysis: Templar

Wrapping up Resistance Orders with...


Templar

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Noble Cause
Soldiers recover Will 20% faster out of battle.

Reminder that Will recovery per se does not affect how quickly soldiers recover from Tired or Shaken. Noble Cause means multiple easy missions chained semi-close together are less likely to Tire your soldiers, but that's about it.

Noble Cause is thus one of the lowest-value Resistance Orders. It can sometimes let you send your favorite soldier on three missions in a row where normally they'd end up resting from the second, but this is only a chance, and much of the time it will do, essentially, nothing. Slot it in if you have nothing else of relevance to plug in, but only Resistance Orders capable of being outright useless (eg Impact Modeling after you've researched Powered Armor) are liable to be displaced by it..

I feel like this really should've affected the amount of Will soldiers lost within missions. That would've effectively included Noble Cause's current outcome -that of making it easier to chain missions together with a given soldier- while also making it more likely any given soldier would come out of any given mission not Tired, more directly reducing Fatigue crunch. Something like reducing the Will roll chances from 50% to 40% odds of triggering. (Which is roughly equivalent in percentage terms to its current effect) That would've still been luck-based and on-average, but it would've had a pretty consistently noticeable impact on your overall Fatigue load, among other points actually helping you cope with heavy mission crunch and thus helping give it a clearer niche: you'd want to slot it in when you were approaching the point of being able to hit Chosen Strongholds, Avatar Project Facilities, and plot missions, to mitigate the risk of overloading your soldiers from multiple missions ending up close together.

As-is, I like the thematics of Noble Cause, but it's one of the most underwhelming, uninteresting Resistance Orders in the entire game.


Suit Up
Experimental Armor, Spider Suit, Wraith Suit, E.X.O. Suit, W.A.R. Suit, R.A.G.E. Suit, Icarus Armor, and Serpentsuit all complete instantly.
Can instead be a Continent Bonus.

It might seem a little odd for the Templar to provide an Armor-related Resistance Order, but remember that Gauntlets gain upgrade tiers based on your armor technology.

Suit Up itself isn't precisely great, but it does have a meaningful, interesting impact on a run. If you've got a ton of Elerium Cores such that you're unlikely to ever use them up conventionally, it makes it easier to justify rolling Experimental Armor a few times in hopes of getting Hazmat Vests, if you get it early it makes it easier to justify building E.X.O. Suits and/or Spider Suits (I rarely build either in most War of the Chosen runs, because the Proving Ground is too busy with other projects that won't be invalidated by later technological advances and are higher-value in the here and now anyway), and if you have Alien Hunters it makes it so taking advantage of the Alien Ruler armors isn't a burden on the Proving Ground. A run with Suit Up tends to play noticeably differently than a run without it, in terms of strategic planning and to a lesser extent tactical action.

As such, even though I consider it one of the lower-value Resistance Orders, I like that it exists. It's one of the better Resistance Orders about shaking up runs.

As a continent bonus, it's shakier. If it's placed on a continent you're grabbing anyway, great! Much of what I said above still applies, and it's a nifty, interesting outcome that helps vary runs.

But if it's instead on a continent that's a bit out of the way, the fact that it's a bit lackluster of an effect overall makes it a bit difficult to justify. Especially because of timetable issues: I've had cases where I did decide to grab Suit Up, only to find that by the time I'd built the radio relays and contacted all the regions I'd run out of Elerium Cores and so Suit Up wasn't doing anything for me. In one case, I proceeded to get to the end of the game without ever acquiring another Elerium Core, making it literally worthless!

So luck plays a substantial component in whether Suit Up makes for a nifty continent bonus or a wasted one.

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Trial By Fire
X-COM Ability Points generated spontaneously in combat are doubled. This applies not only to Ability Points generated by high ground shots, flanking shots, 'combo kills', and 'ambush kills', but also to the Ability Points dropped by 'boss' enemies. (ie Chosen, Alien Rulers, and the Prototype Sectopod)

That is, when you get the random Ability Point triggers, they'll be +2 per trigger instead of +1, that kind of thing. The odds of getting Ability Points from random events is not affected, it's the payout when they do trigger that's better.

This is one of the better Resistance Orders of the game, particularly if you're actually aggressive about spending Ability Points. (I'm not: I'm bad about hoarding Ability Points up until I notice I have 100~, at which point I'll buy a couple of skills and then go back to hoarding) Worst comes to worst, you can spend them on your endgame squad, and it's extremely unlikely they'll manage to buy all their skills so you'll get its full benefit in actual fact. If you get Trial By Fire in a run, you should basically always slot it in immediately and never pull it out except maybe if you're confident you're going to launch the final missions in short order.

Or if you're doing some gimmick run that limits your ability to use Ability Points, like a SPARK-spam run, I guess.

Regardless, this is versatile, powerful, and surprisingly interesting, in particular being one of the Resistance Orders that can make it tolerable to actually buy one of the 25 AP skills that are normally basically impossible to justify buying. The change-up is appreciated.


Deeper Learning I
Soldiers gain 10% more experience from kills.

I'm not entirely sure how this works given the actual experience mechanics of XCOM 2, but my experience is it does actually accelerate soldier leveling.

Regardless, Deeper Learning I is okay. War of the Chosen's Fatigue system means your experience gets spread around a lot: in the base game, a Commander difficulty run that's not regularly losing people expects to have the entire squad at Colonel something like halfway through the run. In War of the Chosen, I've had Commander-difficulty runs where nobody died but I still ended up launching the final mission with a couple Majors on the team!

The point of that remark being: there's technically an expiration date on Deeper Learning's benefits in War of the Chosen, but in practice it'll be helping you throughout the game, because even your favorite soldiers will take a long, long time to hit Colonel, and helping pull up your less used soldiers so they're able to meaningfully help against serious threats when you're forced to fall back on them is also quite nice.

It's difficult to really quantity Deeper Learning's benefits, but they're very much real, and it's one of the better Templar Resistance Orders to keep running.

... starting from Commander difficulty. If you're playing down on Regular or especially Rookie, you should probably ignore Deeper Learning I and II, as soldiers gain experience hilariously fast down at those difficulties.

Note that I'm reasonably confident this does not affect experience from Covert Ops.


Deeper Learning II
Soldiers gain 20% more experience from kills.

Deeper Learning I, but more so.

Notably, this is one of the better version II Resistance Orders. Usually the second tier is worth 50% more than the first tier, not 100% more. It's not a huge thing, but where often a II is easy to ignore if you already have the I, in Deeper Learning's case I tend to grab its II from Covert Ops even if I have the version I.


Vengeance
If a soldier dies or goes into Bleeding Out mode, the squad gains random bonuses for 2 turns.

This is literally the base-game GTS upgrade, only now it's functionally worse because instead of being a one-time investment of your least important and most numerous resource, it indefinitely clogs up one of your precious Resistance Order slots if you want the benefits.

I'm also ignoring that I haven't actually tested the implication of the in-game description not referring to soldiers being sent into bleeding-out mode, which would be an explicit nerf if it's true. I'm pretty sure that's just a lack of clarity rather than an actual change, but I could be wrong.

The only good news is that it's possible for your Resistance Order situation to end up with enough literally-useless ones that it still makes sense to slot in, but honestly you're pretty unlikely to ever use it unless you play the game a lot.

Anyway, it can boost Aim, crit, Will, and Mobility. The higher the rank of the soldier that went down, the more likely any given bonus is to trigger and the bigger the bonuses can be. (Except for Mobility, which is always +2 if you roll it) Each stat is a 10% chance by default, +5% for the rank of the downed soldier.

I dunno if these are the same values used in the GTS version in the base game, because the relevant section of code isn't exposed in a config file in the base game. I also don't care. Vengeance is underwhelming and really out of place in this game, regardless of the details.


Stay With Me
Soldiers are vastly more likely to bleed out rather than die when hitting 0 HP.

Like Vengeance, this is a GTS upgrade converted into a Resistance Order. I suspect the mechanics are different given that Will no longer grows by default, but I'm not sure. Also keep in mind that the Chosen never kill your troops, not directly; just because someone went down but wasn't immediately dead doesn't necessarily mean Stay With Me was relevant.

You're generally better off with Resistance Orders that help prevent casualties from happening in the first place, but out of the Templar Resistance Orders that are underwhelming Stay With Me is one of the easier ones to end up slotting in for lack of a better option. Keeping soldiers alive is a nice investment, and War of the Chosen gives you a lot more reason to care about individual casualties; Resistance class soldiers are unusually difficult to replace, and the Training Center overhaul means that an elite who goes down can represent a unique and uniquely useful combination of bonus skills and/or a large number of invested X-COM Ability Points down the drain.

As opposed to the base game where soldiers were pretty interchangeable and only Psi Operatives (And SPARKs, if you have Shen's Last Gift) can't be acquired at high levels as rewards or purchased from HQ late in the game.

Stay With Me is still kinda eh as a Resistance Order, mind, but a lot of Templar Resistance Orders are more lackluster so you're going to be using it anyway...


Art of War
Soldiers gain 25% more Ability Points from levels.

Note that this is not retroactive. I'm also not entirely sure what happens if you use the Training Center to reset someone while you have Art of War up, whether they get Art of War bonus points or miss out. I've never had reason to organically bother with retraining in War of the Chosen and have never gotten around to setting aside a moment for testing the topic.

Also note that it rounds up, so for example a regular soldier with a Standard Combat Intelligence will gain 4 AP per rank instead of 3, making it actually a 33% improvement for roughly half of your soldiers. Well. Your non-Resistance class soldiers, since they start from 10 points per level as a base and so Art of War is generally much closer to its stated percentage in actual fact for them.

Anyway, Art of War is another one of the better Templar Resistance Orders. Purchasing skills for 'free' -that is, without spending X-COM Ability Points- is an easy decision to make that can have a lot of value, making squad compositions more flexible (eg by getting Shredder on non-Grenadiers), more concentrated in their power, and the value is often disproportionate since there are a number of examples of skills synergizing such that having two specific skills is not twice as good as having either one alone but is somewhere above twice as good. Implacable plus Untouchable, for example, can be bought together to do stuff like letting a soldier make a slightly risky shot from a safe position, and if it kills the target now they can move out (via Implacable) and safely distract an enemy for one shot. (Via Untouchable)

As such, Art of War's 25% boost tends to have a much larger impact than you might expect given it sounds like a relatively conservative boost.

It's especially nice if you manage to get it early and prioritize building a Training Center early, especially if you're up on higher difficulties, where it takes longer to level. Being able to reasonably readily afford Shredder on a Ranger or Specialist down at Sergeant when you've got 2-Armor enemies running around and you've finished Magnetic Weapons but not Gauss Weapons can make quite the difference, as a concrete example of the kind of utility Art of War brings to the table.

I personally consider Art of War one of the rare Templar Resistance Orders that should basically always be slotted in if possible. As Templar Resistance Orders mostly trend toward being a bit underwhelming, this is rarely a hard decision to commit to.


Bonds of War
Soldier Bonds develop 25% faster.

Note that this is 'Bond experience' in specific, and has no affect on the time it takes a Bond pair to level their Bond at the Training Center.

Bonds of War is... bad. I like the thematics of it, that the Templar apparently have a grasp of psychology or something that translates into the power of friendship, but it's one of the worst Resistance Orders in the entire game. The Bonds system doesn't particularly reward being picky about which soldiers end up paired up, soldiers are always guaranteed to have multiple Very High Compatibility soldiers out of your current pool of soldiers and Very High can easily hit the first rank in one mission, the second rank in two missions, and the third rank in something more like four missions; Bonds of War's effect is borderline irrelevant if you're just Bonding people to whomever is easiest. (It's not like difficulty affects Bond experience, either, so this isn't more valuable on Legendary or anything)

Furthermore, when you do want to be picky, or you're trying to get a Bondmate for someone who ended up with no available good Compatibility potential Bondmates (Because you already paired them off with other people), you will virtually always be able to make use of the Teamwork Training Covert Op to force whatever Bond you're wanting to have happen, which skips the entire process of slowly building a Bond and thus is unaffected by Bonds of War.

Bonds of War isn't literally worthless, but it's pretty close.

It really needed to be something like an extra charge on Teamwork and Advanced Teamwork, or something else actually useful...


Tithe
Missions rewards are increased by 15%.

As far as I'm aware, this can only affect Supplies and Intel provided by missions. It's possible I'm wrong and it eg affects the Alien Alloy and Elerium Crystal counts from Supply Raids, but I'd be surprised. It certainly doesn't somehow give you 15% of a second Engineer or anything like that.

Regardless, Tithe is okay but not great. The Supply boost is nice, but only a fairly small portion of your Supplies come directly from mission rewards in the first place, and the deeper you get into a run the more true this becomes, with the Resistance Supply drop growing as you contact new regions, your ability to offload junk at the Black Market rising, and in the midgame you're going to be hitting the Excavations that are fairly big Supply payouts. The Intel boost is better; a lot of your Intel comes from mission rewards, and this is only slightly blunted by progressing through a run.

Unfortunately, that means Tithe is largely worse than Inside Job. Inside Job II provides the same degree of increase, but applies it to every source of Intel, and Inside Job I having a mere 10% boost still tends to work out to more Intel in total simply because it's universal.

Sure, Tithe is doing Supplies and Intel at the same time, so there's an element of slot efficiency to consider, but it's not like Supplies and Intel are even in their value. Intel is a perpetually valuable resource, something you're usually hungry for all the way into the endgame. Supplies has a period in the midgame where you're perpetually short on it and so could always use more, but ultimately very consistently becomes something you have more than you know what to do with -a point that can be exacerbated by other Resistance Orders, such as Resistance Network potentially causing you to explode your Supply drop's value in the span of a single month. And remember: you can buy Supplies from the Black Market, so an Intel boost can be translated in a Supply boost. Inside Job boosting Intel alone doesn't necessarily mean you end up with fewer Supplies to work with than having Tithe instead!

In practice, you're still liable to use Tithe if you have it because let's be honest, the Templar Resistance Orders have the highest proportion of junk to them; if you're eyeballing a Templar slot and your options are Tithe, Noble Cause, Bonds of War, and Vengeance, you're going to put Tithe in.

But Tithe itself is still pretty bad.

The comparison to Inside Job only gets worse on Legendary, note. The fact that Tithe covers Supplies is even less valuable since Supplies are much more rarely in short supply on Legendary, while the Intel situation hasn't somehow became more favorable to Tithe. Again, you may well slot in Tithe anyway from a lack of better Templar options, but that's not to Tithe's credit.

The weird thing is the devs seem to have thought Tithe was a particularly outstanding Resistance Order, as Tithe is only rarely offered. This pretty directly contributes to it being lackluster; if you do get it, it's relatively likely to be offered in the form of a Covert Op so late that you don't actually care about its benefits at all.

It's one of the weirder missteps in War of the Chosen.


Greater Resolve
Lightly wounded soldiers can be sent on missions.
Can instead be a Continent Bonus.

I really like the idea behind Greater Resolve, but War of the Chosen as a game is honestly pretty hostile to it as a concept.

First of all, Greater Resolve only lets you send such soldiers on missions. It won't let you send them on Covert Ops, or continue Psi Operative Training, or hop into the Infirmary to clear their Phobias, or hop into the Training Center to boost their Bond to the next level... if it did, it would be an incredible Resistance Order that dramatically reduced your soldier unavailability load by sending wounded soldiers to non-combat duties as your first priority. As-is, it only lets you send injured soldiers into the one context missing HP actually matters in: combat. Even if you use Medikits to undo the damage before combat starts, that still means you've got less Medikits available for the mission proper, which can be a serious problem if things go awry.

Second of all, in do-or-die missions like Avenger assaults and the endgame missions, the game already lets you send injured soldiers in, and indeed will let you send them in even if they're borderline-dead. This is the exact context Greater Resolve would be most beneficial in, in theory, and it's usurped by built-in mechanics.

Third of all is the issue of how wound mechanics are handled and progress in general.

How an injury is classed and in turn how long a soldier is out of action is defined first and foremost by what proportion of HP the soldier is missing. This means in the very early game, when your soldiers have barely leveled and you haven't gotten Predator Armor online, losing 3-4 HP (Pretty typical damage from being hit by an early-game enemy) is liable to be classed as Wounded or Gravely Wounded, because they're down the majority of their HP. Greater Resolve is thus rarely relevant to the early game; only a handful of damage sources can do the 1-2 damage that's necessary for a low-level soldier to be Lightly Injured.

Later in the game, once you've got levels under your collective belts and have some real armor, it's actually quite realistic for an enemy to lob a grenade or land a shot but Graze and result in minor enough damage that they're Lightly Injured, and so Greater Resolve can actually matter...

... but since injury recovery time is proportionate to injury scale, they're also a lot more likely to have recovery periods like 5 days and be ready to go before the next mission, as opposed to the 35 days of recovery time a Rookie losing 3 HP may require at the beginning of the game. At which point Greater Resolve only matters if you want/need to immediately do another mission.

Exacerbating this issue is the Infirmary. No, I don't mean the Hyper-Vital Module: that doesn't exactly help Greater Resolve's case, but my actual point is that a manned Infirmary triples recovery speed. (Compared to no Infirmary at all, to be clear) So where a Lightly Wounded soldier in the early game might require a solid 10 days of recovery, that same injury recovery roll in the late game will be shaved down to a 3.33 day recovery period, usually so short you don't actually care that they were technically out of action except maybe by virtue of it delaying their ability to get to their next Bond tier... which, again, Greater Resolve doesn't help with.

Adding insult to injury to all this is that injured soldiers by definition lost additional Will from the fight, and so are disproportionately likely to be Tired underneath that injury. The game 'covers' a Tired state with an injured state because under normal conditions them being Tired doesn't matter, but this is just a display thing; the game still keeps track of whether they're Tired or not. Sending an injured and Tired soldier is just plain a terrible idea, and Greater Resolve letting you inflict this bad idea on yourself isn't a thrilling benefit.

On top of all that, you're unlikely to be interested in sending a Lightly Wounded soldier into combat in the early game anyway, simply because nobody has developed enough to be an important lynchpin. Why send your Lightly Wounded Corporal Grenadier when a Squaddie Grenadier is only very slightly worse a combatant? You'd have to, like, get your Reaper Lightly Wounded and then desperately want them for a Retaliation mission or something of the sort.

The overall result is that Greater Resolve is extremely narrow in the conditions it's liable to be useful, making it extremely difficult to justify burning a Resistance Order slot on it. There's a narrow period in the early midgame, where your soldiers are decently leveled and have Predator Armor and you presumably have't built an Infirmary yet, where it has okay odds of maybe helping sometimes. That's... that's really as good as it gets, and there are tons of better Resistance Orders.

It's notably more interesting and effective as a continent bonus, at least. It still suffers from being unreliable to have a chance to trigger, but you won't go 'eh, I've had this slotted in for two months and gotten no benefit' and replace it if it's a continent bonus. Thus, if it's placed relatively early and conveniently, the odds are actually decent you'll get some use out of it at some point in a run.

Probably not worth going out of your way to grab it, though...


Mental Fortitude
All soldier Panic ends after one turn.
Can instead be a Continent Bonus.

The game itself calls Panic 'Battle Madness', but what this means is unclear to your average player since the game never actually bothers to inform you of what 'battle madness' is, not even indirectly, except by virtue of Mental Fortitude affecting it. Hence why I've stuck with calling it Panic, even if it's slightly confusing to refer to Panic having a sub-form also called Panic.

Anyway, note that the way the game defines 'one turn' means that if a soldier Panics during the enemy turn (Which is the most likely time for them to do so, it should be emphasized), they'll be instantly ready to go once your turn rolls around. Indeed, with Mental Fortitude up your soldiers Panicking has decent odds of effectively being a free turn, such as if they immediately take a shot. Sure, their odds of hitting will be notably reduced... but for one thing a Stock will guarantee some damage out of it.

This makes Sectoids in particular much less of an issue, but can also make it easier to tolerate Phobias on your soldiers, particularly Phobias that are extremely unlikely to trigger during your turn. For a run that rolls Mental Fortitude early and just keeps on acquiring Phobias, this can be a decent band-aid solution until you have the Infirmary online, particularly if the Phobias are heavily biased toward Phobias that usually trigger during the enemy turn. (eg Fear of the Chosen) This is especially notable on Legendary, where it's harder to avoid soldiers getting Phobias, and construction timetables mean that an Infirmary will take forever to get to if you don't heavily prioritize it and if you do heavily prioritize it you're probably seriously delaying something else that's rather important to have as soon as possible.

If your Phobia situation is under control (Or biased toward Phobias like Obsessive Reloader that don't constitute a form of Panic) and you're not concerned by Sectoids -such as because it's solidly the midgame where they're a rare sight- then Mental Fortitude is basically worthless unless you also regularly send Tired soldiers into missions. Don't waste a slot on it.

As a continent bonus, Mental Fortitude is kinda junk. If you happen to have it as literally your starting continent's bonus, you're probably going to acquire it regardless and so it will... probably... end up helping you. If it's the continent bonus for an adjacent continent, and that continent is North America, Europe, South America, or Oceania, that may also result in you acquiring it kinda incidentally and at some point benefiting, simply because 2-region continent bonuses are easy to end up acquiring without specifically meaning to.

Beyond that, it's extremely unlikely to be worth the bother or to benefit you if you do pursue it. Sectoids and Spectres are the only enemies that can directly induce Panic with no warning, and Spectres are extremely reluctant to actually use Horror, while Sectoids usually get Mind Control when going for a Mindspin in War of the Chosen and almost completely disappear fairly quickly up until Gatekeepers enter normal rotation. (Sectoids are one of the preferred followers to a Gatekeeper) You have to drag the game out a bit for Gatekeepers to enter normal rotation: they take forever to show up, such that it's entirely possible to wipe out all the Chosen, do every plot mission, complete every Shadow Project, and then stall for a solid month and still not see a Gatekeeper in normal rotation. Sectoids are more or less never seen in the second-to-last mission, either, and in the final mission they're both fairly rare and, crucially, if your team is in any danger of a Sectoid getting things to go wrong, probably your team is bad enough -or you're a bad enough player- that you're going to fail the mission outright regardless.

Meanwhile, you'll eventually build the Infirmary and so wipe away Phobias, your team's durability rising means new Phobias get rarer to acquire as you go forward, and you'll increasingly destroy the game's ability to pressure you so badly sending Tired soldiers makes sense.

Oh, and you'll have a pile of Mind Shields and so if you really want to just launch the final mission already you can slap a Mind Shield on whatever Tired soldier is delaying you launching the endgame and there you go Panic is no longer a problem at all.

Taken altogether, this means Mental Fortitude's utility pretty consistently goes down as you progress, such that it being a continent bonus on a continent that's not completely incidental is almost certainly worthless. Indeed, in every run I've had it as a continent bonus where it wasn't my starting continent's bonus or the immediately adjacent continent, it never had the chance to help.

That's a bit frustrating, and one of the better examples of how the War of the Chosen continent bonus design is one of its iffier elements.

Not that the base game's continent bonus design was particularly great, mind...


Feedback
Enemies attempting to use psionic abilities on your soldiers immediately take 4 points of damage.

Surprisingly, this triggers on initial Psi Bomb use. Even more surprising, it triggers once per soldier in the targeted area. And still more surprising is that if the Codex survives all that damage, it will only clone itself once! As such, Feedback does a surprising amount to make Codices in particular less of an issue, since they are quite likely to kill themselves on trying to wipe your ammo. This can still be a serious problem if other threats are in the area, but at least you won't have to worry about struggling to kill the Codex before it starts flank-shooting people.

Somewhat frustratingly, Feedback doesn't trigger on successful Mind Control, including if it was caused by a Sectoid's Mindspin. As Sectoids in War of the Chosen will almost always get a Mind Control out of a Mindspin, this makes Feedback surprisingly limited in its utility against Sectoids. (It's not like Psi Zombie triggers Feedback, nor is it terribly realistic to boost Will enough so Mind Control is unlikely, not before Sectoids are largely out of rotation anyway) Even more frustrating is that it also doesn't trigger on Stasis, which means ADVENT Priests are pretty unlikely to be hit by Feedback; they have to go for Mind Control and have it fail, which is pretty rare. This also limits Feedback's relevance against Avatars, since they have an extremely strong preference for going for a Mind Control and if you're playing above Regular it would require an insane amount of Will grinding to have even a chance for their Mind Control to fail on a given soldier.


By a similar token, Spectres Shadowbinding someone doesn't count for Feedback's purposes. As Shadowbind is their first preference, and shooting you or Vanishing their second preference, this means Horror potentially triggering Feedback is not a terribly relevant possibility.

Still, the ability to ignore a Codex and focus on other threats is a nice boon. Mindshields also make Feedback more useful, as blocking a psionic effect with a Mindshield will still allow Feedback to trigger; this can be used to punish Avatars, for example, even though normally their Mind Control is essentially impossible to resist, particularly in War of the Chosen.

On that note, you may actually wish to remove Feedback when it comes time to Skulljack a Codex, so they won't kill themselves on your squad with a Psi Bomb before you can Skulljack them.

Overall, this is a much more niche Resistance Order than you'd intuitively expect, but still worth potentially slotting in regardless. Even with it mostly applying against Codices in practice... they're an evergreen threat, showing up early and staying relevant and common all the way into the end of the game. On that basis alone Feedback stays decently relevant throughout the game.

One odd thing to note: where Between The Eyes visibly grants all your soldiers an ability, Feedback does not. I'm not sure why. This can be inconvenient if it's been a bit since you played and you've forgotten your run has Feedback currently slotted in... or you remember slotting it in, but forgot that actually you removed it on the last month turnover...


Pursuit of Knowledge
A Laboratory provides an additional 20% improvement to research speed.
Can instead be a Continent Bonus.

Maybe it's just me, but I seem to get this as a continent bonus ridiculously often, far more so than any other Resistance Order that can be a continent bonus.

As a Resistance Order, this is okay. Worthless if you don't have a Laboratory built yet, but once you have one it's a nice little boost to research speed. Given Scientists have significant diminishing returns, a 20% boost is more significant than it might sound when you're solidly in the mid-to-late game. War of the Chosen also just generally makes research boosts more appealing; individual enemy types are generally less common due to the new types of enemies, so many enemies that in the base game you very casually hit the Instant threshold on their Autopsy in the base game don't have that happen nearly so consistently in War of the Chosen, the fact that a few Autopsies are now necessary for other researches makes it less appealing to wait for them to hit their Instant thresholds, Chosen loot adds additional researches you can't Instant, and Breakthroughs popping into the lab are occasionally good enough to justify them, all of which slows your research down. Inspirations usually help offset these changes and indeed sometimes lead to you being ahead on the research curve overall, but the overall result is that in War of the Chosen your overall progress often ends up lagging behind the base game. In the base game, I've had runs hit the endgame with literally every research performed without any attempt to stall at all, whereas in War of the Chosen I've once had a run manage to eat through literally every research, and that was a run where I specifically and deliberately stalled for an in-game month or so, specifically so I could check the Breakthroughs-when-no-researches mechanic.

As such, it's actually meaningfully useful to prioritize research boosts in War of the Chosen.

As a continent bonus, this is in some ways more interesting. If you get it early on, there's something of a pressure to build a Laboratory ASAP so your continent bonus is actually doing something, where as a Resistance Order you can just slot in something else until you've got a Laboratory built. It's even actually worth considering building a Laboratory very early if you have Pursuit of Knowledge early on; getting everything done a decent amount faster from the very beginning of the game adds up more significantly than you might expect, especially if you get lucky in regards to eg Alien Alloy intake so you can actually pay for what you're unlocking as you unlock it.

Of course, if it's placed fairly out of your way, it... might not be worth going out of your way to grab it. If you're only going to earn it when you're pretty close to launching the endgame anyway, what's the point?

So it's a bit more uneven as a continent bonus. Still a bit more interesting than as a Resistance Order, but less well-tuned, definitely.


Hidden Reserves I
+2 Power for the Avenger

On lower difficulties, Hidden Reserves is usually a junk Resistance Order you're extremely unlikely to actually use. On higher difficulties, particularly Legendary, it can help you get critical infrastructure online much sooner, without having to wait for an Exposed Power Coil to be dug up and a power relay installed in it. You'll probably eventually replace it with something else regardless, but it's a surprisingly useful Resistance Order on Legendary, where it takes forever to get your first Exposed Power Coil online. If you unlock the Shadow Chamber quickly, it lets you build it right away by only sacrificing one facility, rather than two, for example. (The Shadow Chamber needs 4 Power, as opposed to the 3 your core-most facilities all require, and so normally would deny you two facilities in practice to build in the early game)

It can also be useful in the midgame, once you have your first power relay built, to let you perform upgrades or slot in one extra facility without having to upgrade your power relay/slot in an Engineer semi-permanently/wait for the next power relay to be built, where your current power supply is just short of letting you do whatever it is you're wanting to do. If you're prone to not planning ahead -or are bad at planning ahead- this is particularly appreciated, letting you make errors like whoops using 1 too many power to build the Shadow Chamber just yet and then shrugging and slotting in Hidden Reserves when the month rolls over, minimizing the damage.

Overall, Hidden Reserves I is a bit lackluster, but it's close to unique in its utility and is straightforward and obvious in its application and payoff when applied. You may go an entire run without bothering, but if you do use it you'll never be left wondering whether it actually helped.


Hidden Reserves II
+3 Power for the Avenger

See previous. Significantly, several core facilities require 3 power apiece, so Hidden Reserves II acquired very early does notably more to expand your options than Hidden Reserves I, such as letting you fit in the Proving Ground a lot earlier if you normally build the Resistance Ring, Guerrilla Tactics School, and Training Center as your initial set.

Minor thing worth pointing out: this is more power than either Resistance Ring upgrade demands. As such, upgrading the Resistance Ring with intent to slot in Hidden Reserves II is a scenario worth considering to squeeze out a bit more power. 1 power is pretty difficult to directly make use of -most facilities require 2 or 3 power- but it can let you do slightly odd divisions, and if you don't mind the Supply burden of upgrading the Resistance Ring it can be appreciated for giving you a jump-start on your power situation once you do have a power relay built.


Machine Learning
Breakthroughs are twice as likely to occur.
Can instead be a Continent Bonus.

Machine Learning's name is in line with a robot Resistance faction concept and not at all in line with the Templar concept; it's the single biggest reason why I buy that, yes, there was supposed to be a robot Resistance faction. The second-biggest reason is that the Covert Op for recruiting an Engineer will sometimes refer to strange rumors of robots in the wilderness, which does kind of fit an Engineer recruitment, but mostly seems to me like a shout-out to their original plans that leaves it natural to implement them later (Maybe they considered incorporating them via DLC?) or possibly as something they would've cut once they cut the robot faction but they didn't catch they still had an allusion to such. (War of the Chosen has a decent amount of stuff that doesn't properly fit the final game, like Bradford talking about the Reapers/Skirmishers/Templar having sent one of their own to help in a specific mission even though that's not a mechanic; allusions to not-actually-implemented ideas is absolutely a thing in it)

In any event, as for Machine Learning itself... it's kind of whatever. It doesn't affect the minimum or maximum times for Breakthroughs, so it has less impact on the pace they're offered than one might hope. Longer researches like Plasma Rifle or Powered Armor are often already more or less guaranteed to have a Breakthrough thrown at you after completing them, and if they don't it's easy to do something like crack open a Datapad in a day to fish for a Breakthrough if you care. More importantly, the vast majority of Breakthroughs are a dubious use of lab time anyway; only a handful of Breakthroughs are sufficiently powerful/generally useful to justify burning lab time on them. This means that Machine Learning-triggered Breakthroughs are often Breakthroughs you're going to just ignore, realistically speaking, making Machine Learning itself often a waste of a Resistance Order slot.

It's relatively likely you'll slot it in anyway simply because the Templar have the largest proportion of 'dud' Resistance Orders in the first place and so it may genuinely have no real competition for the spot, but Machine Learning is one of the worse Resistance Orders of the game. It could have been very good, if Breakthroughs had been tuned differently, but as-is the rate at which Breakthroughs underwhelm drags it down too far, too consistently. And if you do slot it in... there's really no way to tell whether you got one of the really good Breakthroughs due to it or not.

As a continent bonus, Machine Learning isn't much different. If it happens to be eg your very first continent's bonus, you're probably going to acquire it more or less incidentally, and it will probably cause you to get a useful Breakthrough at some point in the run, but conversely if it's even marginally out of your way you should probably completely ignore it. It's just not a good payoff.

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One thing that's notable about Resistance Orders as a whole is that it's a mechanic that only really hits it's true potential on Legendary difficulty, consistent with the broader trend of War of the Chosen clearly being tuned first and foremost with Legendary difficulty in mind. On lower difficulties, it's often the case you'll spend a good chunk of the game with an extremely limited ability to engage with the Resistance Order setup, with only one wildcard slot and no Resistance faction slots or only slots from one faction, and then you get to your first Exposed Power Coil and rapidly unlock your other wildcard slots and start making contact with new regions so you can start hunting other Chosen, and the overall result is you go extremely rapidly from 'barely able to do anything with Resistance Orders' to 'in your endgame state for Resistance Orders'. That's weird, and means in a lot of runs Resistance Orders are actually kind of bland in practice; instead of having a slowly evolving strategy as your Resistance Order situation slowly diversifies and gains slots, you jump more or less directly from barely engaging with it at all to suddenly having your endgame state, aside possibly currently running Resistance Orders you'll replace in the long haul. (That is, stuff like Heavy Machinery with an unambiguous expiration date) This is a pretty static, uninteresting experience when it happens, and it happens fairly regularly...

... unless you're playing on Legendary, in which case facility construction is better-paced and Chosen hunting is more widely spaced. On Legendary, you'll consistently have the proper experience of your Resistance Order situation slowly evolving over the course of a run, only fossilizing fairly late in a given run.

It's really too bad Legendary difficulty tends to drag on too long, because in a lot of ways Legendary difficulty is very much where War of the Chosen is at its best and most interesting, and yet I personally play Legendary only intermittently because individual runs take too long without having enough variation over the course of a run to remain fully engaging all the way to the end of the run. I can enjoy a Legendary run intermittently, but only intermittently.

Anyway, as far as the Templar in specific, it's interesting to me that the theme of their Resistance Order set is actually not focused on psionics -Feedback is their only Resistance Order directly focused on psionics, and no Resistance Order is particularly synergistic with Psi Operatives- but rather the primary themes are personal improvement, pushing your limits, and refusing to stay down. That's an intriguing set of choices, given the rest of the game mostly frame Templar as wild, crazy, loose cannons. I'm curious if later games will hold to that, as it'd be pretty interesting to explore.

Anyway, next time we cover the continent bonuses from the base game.

See you then.

Comments

  1. Good to see you back from hiatus.

    It feels like the Resistance Orders are written for a slightly different game; there's clear *intent* that the Templars are the relatively small, elite faction, with XP bonuses and benefits like Noble Cause and Greater Resolve letting you run any given soldier more often without rest. And on the other hand, the Reapers are aimed at some kind of human wave tactics, where Recruiting Centers and Live Fire Training let you get a larger number of low level soldiers.

    (and Guardian Angels, so you can use the low level soldiers on Covert Ops without losing them to ambush, and the Templars are missing an equivalent to Volunteer Army/Double Agent supplying an expendable bonus unit).

    But, with all the other mechanics around, they really don't make much difference to your team size; at the tactical level, you still send in the same number of troops to any particular mission (modulo the unreliable boost from Volunteer Army), and the Templar bonuses don't help enough with issues like Tired and injuries to let you run a significantly smaller roster at the strategic level.

    I don't see this improving in XCOM 3; Resistance Orders are a good way to build character for the factions, but the "elite troops/many troops" divide isn't one that XCOM supports very well, and it seems like they want to skew more in an RPG-ish direction, with more attachment to individual squaddies.

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    1. Ah. Now that you mention it, I could see this model having been on some portion of the team's mind. It never occurred to me to take it that way since the Firaxis XCOM games are so fundamentally hostile to that kind of variability in team quality/size -6 slots is not enough to cram in anything comparable to HWPs eating multiple team slots without the result being really, really dumb- but it does occur to me that they worked closely with Pavonis Studios and War of the Chosen very obviously draws inspiration from a lot of elements of Long War. Long War 2 DOES have a variable squad scale mechanic, and while it's not really meant as a mechanic for choosing between overwhelming a mission with numbers vs sending in a handful of elites, the potential for that dichotomy does organically exist in its design. I could imagine War of the Chosen's development was influenced by expectations of Long War of the Chosen being a thing, and in that scenario a number of Resistance Orders would become notably more interesting, such as Greater Resolve actually being appreciated for helping you to keep sending consistent squads so they can build up their Officer bond benefits, or Live Fire Training suddenly being a bit evergreen because Long War 2 expects to inflict deaths more and raises demands on your soldier counts by a greater degree and for a larger portion of the game.

      For that matter, even a number of elements of the Chosen mechanics are a lot more interesting in the context of how Long War 2 is constructed. In War of the Chosen as we got it, the fact that they control specific territories isn't very important in a mechanical sense, but Long War 2 already gives you several reasons to care about specific territories. Chosen ruling a particular territory atop Long War 2's existing mechanics would have a bunch of interesting implications and dilemmas ("The weakest territory I've got available is ruled by the Hunter, but I'm not sure my teams are really suited to fighting him right now... should I do a few missions there anyway, just to pull attention away from other territories?"), and it's easy to imagine the current lackluster Chosen strategic layer being given more depth in the context of Long War of the Chosen, such as the Chosen crackdown being shuffled into them beefing up the defenses in their particular territory on a long-term basis, or Sabotage targeting Havens, maybe with a new type of Haven worker made that attempts to prevent Sabotage attempts.

      If this is what underlies a lot of War of the Chosen, I'm even more impressed it's as much of an improvement as it is, not to mention curious if the Long War of the Chosen project is going to leverage the new mechanics appropriately or 'stay true' to base-game Long War 2 in a manner that misses all the potential of the new mechanics.

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