XCOM 2 Resistance Order Analysis: Skirmisher

Second Resistance Order post, covering those coming from...


Anytime an enemy drops timed loot, there will be an additional item in the drop.

War of the Chosen is a lot less generous with timed loot overall (Among other points, Lost and all enemies Savage tries to plug in are normally unable to drop loot, and the game doesn't do anything to make up for loot lost to such missions), so Vulture is actually potentially worth the slot. This in spite of it being overall a downgrade to when Vulture was a GTS upgrade, in the sense that now it long-term competes with other benefits.

Luck is a notable factor, as well as DLC. If you have eight Elerium Cores by the time you have the Proving Ground up and have the Tactical Legacy Pack, it's a dubious use of a slot; you'll probably get more Elerium Cores well before running out, while your Weapon Attachment needs are heavily handled by the Tactical Legacy Pack weapons. At that point Vulture is primarily a way to fish for PCSes, and honestly relying on drops for PCSes is going to be pretty consistently underwhelming; I usually just buy from the Black Market to get the Speed and Perception PCSes I want on my best soldiers. So Vulture is kind of underwhelming in that case.

Mind, strategy/team makeup is also important. If you're planning on using SPARKs heavily, like fielding 2-3 of them into most missions, Vulture is a lot more appealing even if you have the Tactical Legacy Pack, since there's no TLP gear for SPARKs and building SPARKs is Elerium Core-hungry. Sure, SPARKs don't benefit from PCSes, but it still works out to Vulture being above-average in performance.

Similarly, even if you do have the Tactical Legacy Pack it can still be made a lot more relevant by doing a weird run (eg using a single class exclusively, such that the TLP gear being one copy per is a meaningfully relevant limiter) or by having fun with certain kinds of mods, like ones that add in new primary weapon categories (That include Weapon Attachment support) or that expand Weapon Attachment support significantly. (eg letting you slot in three Weapon Attachments to everything by default and letting you change the Weapon Attachments in TLP weaponry)

But overall, it's very good and by default one of the better uses of a slot until fairly late in the game, while being a lot more questionable if you do have the Tactical Legacy Pack. (Assuming you actually unlocked the weapons from it, I mean)

Inside Job I
All Intel rewards are 10% greater.

How relevant this is depends pretty heavily on other factors.

If you're playing below Commander, this isn't very important. Your primary Intel expense is from contacting new regions, and below Commander you pay less for that, such that you tend to have more than enough Intel to spare unless you're prone to failing Council missions that provide Intel. (Or at least failing the Intel-providing portion, in the case of Neutralize VIP) There's probably better ways to spend a slot.

On Commander, it gets a little better, potentially quite a bit better. The game is roughly tuned so that contacting regions and building radio relays as fast as you can will go through your mission-provided Intel faster than you're provided such missions by a small to modest margin, which means you tend to have to crack open ADVENT Datapads or Alien Data Caches if you're needing to pretty continuously contact regions for an extended period... and means Black Market purchases directly interfere with contacting new regions for a decent chunk of the game, or interfere with your research by requiring you crack open more Datapads/Data Caches. Extending how much Intel you get from each and every source by 10% isn't a lot, but it's not unusual for you to end up with eg 38 Intel when you need 40 Intel and so be forced to wait until you've cracked open a Data drop -assuming you have any available- or get a mission that provides Intel. That can easily mean waiting days or weeks to start a contact that will, itself, take days to complete, and since Data drops take longer to crack open each time you finish one the difference between needing to crack open a couple Datapads vs needing to crack open four of them is more than doubling the research load, instead of doubling it like you might expect.

Delays have the obvious problem of threatening to let the Avatar Project complete, but more subtle and usually more relevant is that a significant part of the strategic layer, and of making the tactical layer threatening, is managing Fatigue load. The sooner you're in contact with regions containing plot missions or Avatar Project Facilities, the more ability you have to fit them in when your schedule allows it safely, rather than being forced to send a Tired and/or under-strength team because you're running out of time.

Similarly, Black Market purchases are that little bit easier to fit in if you have a little more Intel. Again, it's not uncommon for it to be the case that you have slightly too little Intel to both make a relatively cheap purchase and contact your next region, such that 10% more Intel would handily solve that problem.

If you luck into Resistance Network, whether as an early continent bonus or as an early Resistance Order, Inside Job I doesn't precisely get better, but it does become more important, because Resistance Network means you can spend that Intel insanely fast so long as you also have Contacts. This makes your potential hunger for Intel much more noticeable, and the benefits of having more Intel much more substantial.

On Legendary, the pacing of Intel intake vs how quickly you'll contact new regions if doing so aggressively is pretty similar, but Black Market costs have mostly gone up only marginally while the Intel costs for contacting and amounts provided by missions and Data researches have doubled. This makes it a lot easier to fit Black Market purchases in (Unless you have Resistance Network, anyway), which in turn makes having a little more Intel on hand more consistently add up to a worthwhile purchase being made. Thus, Inside Job I is even more consistent about having meaningfully real benefits on Legendary.

Inside Job I is, on the whole, another of those Resistance Orders that's difficult to quantify its benefits ahead of time, but which tends to have pretty substantial, noticeable benefits. Anytime you see that you have barely enough to cover your costs, you'll know Inside Job I deserves credit. And Intel is honestly overall your most valuable resource. Exactly how true this is varies by difficulty, mind, but overall it's generally the most consistently valuable resource, and the fact that you can do stuff like buy Supplies, Alien Alloys, Elerium Crystals, etc, at the Black Market means that even if what you really want is other stuff Inside Job I can potentially cover it anyway.

While it might be tempting to slot it in for one month, crack open as many Datapads and Data Caches as possible, and then remove it, this is dubious in practice because those researches take longer each time they're performed anew. So if you start with 6 Datapads at 2 days of research and 3 Data Caches at 5 days of research, that won't take 27 days of research. (ie able to fit inside any one month just fine) It'll take longer, and your plan will be only partially successful, and also this requires you consistently ignore Breakthroughs and Inspirations even though you can't actually predict that they'll all be worth skipping. It's generally better to just leave Inside Job I slotted in continuously unless and until you're certain you're basically set for important Intel costs. (eg you have contact with all plot mission regions and enough Intel on hand to make some Black Market purchases and still be able to buy every bonus for the second-to-last mission)

Inside Job II
All Intel rewards are 15% greater.

See Inside Job, but slightly better.

It's a very small difference, but I personally consider Inside Job II to be basically an auto-take, where Inside Job I is something I'll sometimes put off in favor of other Resistance Orders. It adds up surprisingly quickly.

Under the Table I
Goods sell for 20% more Supplies at the Black Market.

You're going to be selling stuff at the Black Market. A number of enemy corpse types are useless once you've Autopsied them, after all, so no reason not to hurl them at the Black Market. That means this basically automatically does a certain amount of work.

That said, it's perfectly justified to ignore it for the first month or three. ADVENT Officers are the only corpse type that you're guaranteed to both Autopsy quickly and then have no further need for their corpses, and they don't appear often enough or sell for enough to be worth a Black Market trip all on their own. It takes until you're a bit past the midgame for visiting the Black Market every month to be essentially consistently yielding a decent amount of Supplies, specifically once you've Autopsied Mutons and ADVENT Mecs. (Which are both important Autopsies, but whose bodies have no use past the Autopsy) Something that's actually helping you now is probably a better choice in the earliest months.

Under the Table I's performance is, by default, comparable to Popular Support I's performance, in that they both can end up mattering by pushing you over a threshold, but they also both are small enough values they'll often not really matter at all at any given moment. I say 'by default' because Under the Table is notably influenced by a few different factors.

First of all, if you get a hold of Interchangeable Upgrades, Under the Table I gets noticeably better because you'll be selling Weapon Attachments earlier and more often. Weapon Attachments sell pretty decently, and you loot a fair amount of low-end versions.

Second of all, if you have and are running Vulture early on, you'll once again be selling Weapon Attachments earlier and more often by virtue of having more than you need faster. If you have Vulture and Interchangeable Upgrades and Under the Table I, you'll be selling quite a lot of Weapon Attachments quite quickly and very much appreciate them going for 20% more.

Less dramatically, Adaptive Personal Combat Sims will likely lead to you selling some Basic PCSes relatively early, particularly if you have Vulture. War of the Chosen forcing you to field a fairly large roster while PCSes cannot be shuffled freely among your soldiers -even Adaptive Personal Combat Sims doesn't change your overall PCS load needs- means you won't hit this point as quickly as with Weapon Attachments, but PCSes do sell for noticeably more than Weapon Attachments, and there's a decent argument to be made for just selling lower-tier Agility PCSes. A chance of halved damage when successfully shot, vs turning that chance into cash you can spend on things that will help avoid being shot in the first place? Selling is certainly worth considering.

Luck with Rumors and Sitreps can also make Under the Table I put in an unusual amount of work unusually early. An early Automated Defenses Sitrep can lead to you getting a lot of ADVENT Mec Wrecks and so hit their Instant Autopsy threshold well before you're supposed to hit it. After all, they only require 4 Wrecks on Regular and Commander, and 7 on Legendary; an early Automated Defenses can potentially have 9 Mecs, three pods of three Mecs, and so immediately hit that Instant threshold on even Legendary while leaving you a decent number of corpses you have no reason to not immediately turn around and sell the instant their Breakdown is done. Less dramatically, early Psionic Storms can lead to you hitting the Instant Autopsy threshold on Sectoids and/or ADVENT Priests unusually early, and in the case of Sectoids there's a pretty clear upper limit on how many of their bodies you need for equipment purposes so if you end up with two Psionic Storms happening close together early on (Unlikely, but I've had it happen), you can end up with 20+ Sectoid corpses bizarrely early and decide to sell off ten-ish of them kind of thing.

Rumors, meanwhile, can lead to sell fodder a few different ways. Large enough quantities of Alien Alloys that you feel comfortable selling a decent amount, for example, such as if you have Scavengers and Resistance Network so Rumors are more valuable and you can afford to continue pursuing them into the midgame. And of course you could get loot you don't consider worth holding onto, be it Assorted Loot providing low-tier Weapon Attachments, ending up with the Heavy Weapon Rumor providing a Flamethrower you turn your nose up at, or the Ammo+Grenade Rumor providing a basic grenade when you've already performed Advanced Explosives.

DLC and DLC settings is also a factor. If you have Alien Hunters and play with the Nest enabled, you're going to end up with a ton of Viper bodies extremely early in a run, more than you're liable to ever need, such that you might as well sell some of them. If you have the Tactical Legacy Pack and are taking advantage of its weapons, that drastically lowers your Weapon Attachment needs, leading to selling spares sooner and more often. Even if you want, in the long haul, different Attachment setups from the TLP ones -the TLP Rifle's lack of an Expanded Magazine makes it less desirable for Specialists once they're high enough level to have Guardian, for example- you'll still get to avoid wasting Weapon Attachments early on to some extent, where instead of slapping something in just so you've got the slot used you just use a TLP weapon instead, knowing that their Weapon Attachment will upgrade on its own as you improve your technology. Why put a Scope on a basic Rifle when the Old World Assault Rifle not only has a basic Scope but will upgrade it to an Advanced Scope and generate a free Advanced Repeater once you've got Mag Rifles online?

Other stuff can boost it more indirectly, as well. For example, if you've got Resistance Orders improving your ability to buy stuff from the Black Market, you're liable to do more in the way of selling Weapon Attachments, because you'll have cases where you would've slotted in a Basic and then an Advanced and finally a Superior, but you bought the Superior early enough that you ended up selling the Advanced instead. Or maybe you would've slotted in a Laser Sight into a weapon for lack of Scope access, but you bought an Advanced Scope and so decide to just sell the Laser Sight instead. Whatever.

Conversely, Under the Table I can have its value effectively reduced a few different ways. The big one is Resistance Network: if you have Resistance Network, you can very suddenly have your general Supply income spike massively, such that getting a few more Supplies from the Black Market just plain doesn't matter. Less dramatic but still relevant is all the other Resistance Orders that specifically bring in more Supplies, like Popular Support or Tithe; if you've already got two or three of those, Under the Table is probably overkill to stack atop them.

Mission-wise, being very explosion-happy will lead to you destroying loot semi-regularly, and so give you less opportunity to sell redundant Weapon Attachments, while doing an unusually large number of missions with The Horde Sitrep will directly cut into your corpse counts (Lost do drop corpses, and the game does track the count for Instant Autopsy purposes, but you can't sell them) and so reduce your sell capacity. Similarly, being good at quickly and efficiently finishing off a Chosen Stronghold will directly reduce how many bodies you loot, since you'll be preventing reinforcements from spawning by finishing the mission quickly. And similar to that is the question of which missions Chosen elect to jump you in, intersecting with how efficient you are in killing them; a campaign where the Chosen just happen to mostly randomly show up on mission types you'll loot bodies in, and where you are sufficiently slow at killing the Chosen they consistently summon reinforcements at least twice, is a campaign that will have an above-average number of bodies looted. A different campaign that still has the Chosen show up primarily in looting-allowed missions, but where you consistently end up killing them without them ever summoning anything, will have a below-average number of bodies to sell, because the Chosen will be replacing a normal pod of 2-3 enemies and then they don't drop a corpse when killed. Early in a below-Legendary run, that will literally be shaving off 1/3rd of the bodies you were supposed to loot!

Lastly, Legendary difficulty is... kind of weird. On the one hand, you are going to be selling stuff at the Black Market a lot more on Legendary than on lower difficulties; you collect more corpses while having only a handful of cases where your corpse needs have meaningfully risen, and so will sell more bodies, and the greater length of the campaign will lead to you eg maxing out your Weapon Attachment situation a lot sooner, proportionately, than on lower difficulties. On the other hand, Legendary difficulty also makes Supplies all-around more plentiful relative to your Supply needs; on Commander, you tend to be solidly on the road to finishing the game by the time you have more Supplies than you know what to do with. On Legendary, it's entirely possible to spend the entire game with more Supplies than you need, and usually you at least hit that point more in the midgame than the endgame when you hit it at all. So burning a Resistance Order slot on getting more Supplies tends to be a bit of a waste...

Overall, if you're not sure whether Under the Table is worth equipping in any given run, going with 'yes' is probably the safer choice than going with 'no' simply because there are so many more factors for helping prop it up than for knocking its utility down, but it's certainly worth keeping in mind that very early on it's probably genuinely a waste of the slot, and to pay attention to your rate of selling things; if you keep swinging by the Black Market and barely selling anything, Under the Table clearly isn't helping much.

Design-wise, I like the idea of Under the Table but feel it's a little ignorant of the game's overall design and tuning. Below Legendary, generally the point at which you've accumulated enough stuff that there's things that are pretty mindless to sell off is also the point at which Supplies have largely stopped being a meaningfully limiting factor and so generating even more of them isn't very useful. On Legendary, Supplies are usually sufficiently plentiful that this tends to drown out the part where you spend a lot more of the game with plenty of things you might as well sell because they're worthless otherwise. Either way, that's a bit of a poor fit, and I feel it's something of a happy accident that a given run may find Under the Table I decently helpful anyway, rather than a successful implementation of thoughtful design.

Crucially, you need to get the intersection of both getting Under the Table I and of one of the RNG elements that props it up coinciding with such, and all this happening early enough that Supplies are still worthwhile, for Under the Table I to end up decent for a given run. This is a pretty unlikely scenario, overall, which is a bit of a dubious fit to Resistance Orders. They're supposed to shake up runs and encourage diversification. Requiring a collage of RNG alignment to be solid doesn't really fit that.

... still more interesting than Popular Support, though.

It doesn't help that I'm pretty sure Under the Table rounds down, aside ensuring a minimum increase of +1 Supplies per sold object, when the price change occurs at the level of individual objects, not your final total.

Under the Table II
Goods sell for 30% more Supplies at the Black Market.

Under the Table I, but that little bit better.

If you get both of them, that works out to selling stuff for 50% more. That's actually a pretty big boost in its own right, and if it happens to coincide with one of the other factors that helps the Under the Tables can lead to your Supply situation reversing fairly dramatically. So that's cool.

Naturally, you should probably remove either (or both) Under The Tables if you get hit by Gone to Ground, since the Black Market will be unavailable for more than a month. No reason to burn slots on stuff that only works if the Black Market is available when it's not usable for a while.

Quid Pro Quo
Black Market goods all cost 33% less Intel.

A pretty big slashing to the cost of stuff at the Black Market.

In the very early game, this is bad. The Black Market doesn't even spawn right away, and runs rarely can afford to spare Intel on the Black Market for their first visit or two, even with the help of Quid Pro Quo. Something has to be going on like you also have both Inside Jobs and managed to slot both of them in very early on, such that you have a weirdly high amount of Intel.

In the midgame, Quid Pro Quo gets a bit better. Most of your Intel will be tied up in contacting new regions, but you can usually afford to buy one or two minor things from the Black Market even without Quid Pro Quo, and depending on, among other things, your difficulty and luck with Rumors/Covert Ops, it can sometimes be worth buying an Engineer. Quid Pro Quo bringing these options into easier reach is pretty nice.

Late in the game, once you've contacted everything you care to contact, Quid Pro Quo turns into basically an automatic slot. You shouldn't spend all your Intel on the Black Market -you'll want to be able to afford at least some of the bonuses in the second-to-last mission- but you don't have to worry about buying a Superior Perception PCS and having this directly lead to a game over because it meant you couldn't push back the Avatar Project before it ended your run. Depending on how readily-accessible the Forge and Psi Gate missions ended up being, this may mean you have a lot of Intel with nothing better to spend it on, and then Quid Pro Quo will make it go 50% farther. Nice!

Basically, if you're not sure what to do, probably shun it until you've revealed and gained accessed to the Forge and the Psi Gate, and then slot it in once you've made contact with both of their regions and at least two Avatar Project Facility regions. That's a pretty decent rule of thumb for avoiding getting your run ended by the Avatar Project.

Of course, you should probably remove Quid Pro Quo if you get hit by Gone to Ground, since it'll take more than a month for you to get Black Market access back, just like the Under the Tables.

Bomb Squad
Experimental Grenades, Experimental Heavy Weapons, and Experimental Powered Weapons Proving Grounds projects all complete instantly.
Can instead be a Continent Bonus.

Experimental Grenades are all powerful and useful, effectively pretty straightforward upgrades to your soldiers for most purposes and if nothing else your Grenadiers will use them, so generally speaking you're basically guaranteed to perform the Experimental Grenades Project several times. Bomb Squad letting you get all that out of the way early is useful, and the fact that it also works on Experimental Heavy Weapons makes it a lot easier to justify rolling that a few times; I personally don't perform Experimental Heavy Weapon very often as the results will be made obsolete by Experimental Powered Weapon, the Flamethrower is usually worse than your basic Rocket Launcher, and while the Shredder Gun is mostly an improvement the Rocket Launcher's range and ability to fire on targets past allies without hitting those allies still gives it some use. All this together tends to make me hesitant to spend Proving Ground time and Elerium Cores on it when I could be spending them on Experimental Ammo and Experimental Grenades, both of-which tend to act as fairly straightforward (And substantive) boosts to soldier performance.

Bomb Squad doesn't address the Elerium Core part, but I have had runs where I had Bomb Squad and the RNG was sufficiently generous with Elerium Cores I felt comfortable performing Experimental Powered Weapon once or twice. That's a nice effect.

Experimental Powered Weapons are much more obviously worthwhile, but they do normally suffer from the fact that it takes a while to perform the project, requires third-tier heavy armor is constructed before you can start on it, and if you haven't specifically prioritized researching Powered Armor it's quite possible that you're pretty solidly in the endgame by the time you're even starting your first Experimental Powered Weapon. This can result in you having a fairly small window to perform it at all unless you're willing to stall on launching the final missions, especially if you have Alien Hunters and end up killing one or more Alien Rulers fairly late and prioritizing unlocking and building their respective armor.

Bomb Squad pretty neatly resolves that issue, making it so Elerium Cores and Supplies are the only limits on your ability to spam it before launching the final missions.

All of this is to say that Bomb Squad is one of the more impactful and interesting Resistance Orders. Just keep in mind that you should consider swapping it out temporarily after leveraging it your first time, and then making sure to swap it back in once you're close to unlocking Experimental Powered Weapon, and then hopefully swapping it right back out for something that will more directly help in the final missions.

As a continent bonus, Bomb Squad is one of the more decently-tuned ones. If it's placed early, you get to leverage it right away, and that's great. If it's a little more distant/out of the way, where you see you'll be able to get it from fairly early but will have to wait a while before you can actually acquire it, you still get to plan around the fact that you'll eventually get it, such as by shifting Experimental Grenade priority to later on the idea you'll unlock Bomb Squad and then spam them. And if it's way out of your way, it's still worth considering grabbing it before you're done so you can spam Experimental Powered Weapon. This makes it one of the few possible continent bonuses that isn't painfully sensitive to position for whether it gets the opportunity to really matter, and thus one of the nicer things to roll as a continent bonus. It's sorta vaguely annoying on a 'fairness' level that once you're done loading up on grenades and Experimental Powered Weapons it ceases to benefit you, in that when it's a Resistance Order you get to swap it out for something that actually helps where with a continent bonus no such option exists, but that's a far sight better than eg acquiring Live Fire Training once you've already got a dozen Major-to-Colonel soldiers.

Bomb Squad is surprisingly cool all-around, in short.

At the start of the next month, removes a block of Avatar Project progress.

Notice that this is literally Scavenger's icon, but with the Skirmisher color scheme. It's also literally Vulture's icon, but with a radar thing or whatever behind it. Have I mentioned War of the Chosen was obviously rushed?

Anyway, note that this can drain a block from Facilities if the non-Facility progress has already been zeroed out. In fact, it can result in a Facility that isn't carrying a block of progress at all!

Sabotage can take a little bit to wrap your head around properly, as it removes Avatar Project progress after you've done all the beginning-of-month stuff with listening to the Spokesman, checking on Chosen progress, and deciding on Resistance Orders for the month. You might thus intuitively expect it to be the case that assigning Sabotage immediately removes a block, but no, it will remove it at the start of the next month. You might also think it needs to be active two months in a row to function or something, but no, if you assign it on one month, then remove it in the next month, it'll remove a block of progress immediately after you've confirmed removal of it.

This makes sense to me on a balance level, but is still poorly-handled as far as ergonomics, since it messes with your sense of cause-and-effect. It would be a lot clearer if Sabotage removing a block occurred before all the other month-transition stuff started.

Anyway, Sabotage proooobably shouldn't have been made a random Resistance Order. A run that gets a hold of it early dramatically reduces the pressure on you, allowing you to hold off on hitting Avatar Project Facilities and plot missions until your squad is better-equipped and all your best soldiers are well-rested, where normally the Avatar Project pressures you into doing missions under sub-optimal conditions, which as I've noted before is one of the main ways the game arranges challenge existing in the tactical layer.

Sure, the Avatar Project will still be progressing over time, as facility construction occurs roughly once a month and non-facility progress tends to occur once or twice a month, but that's still slowing it down by somewhere between 33% and 50% of its normal speed, and Facilities can be smashed, and plot advancement provides even more hits to Avatar Project progress.

One of the most powerful Resistance Orders, possibly the most powerful.

Decoys and Deceptions
Chosen gain 33% less Knowledge from all sources.

On lower difficulties, Decoys and Deceptions is generally a waste of a slot. Chosen accumulate Knowledge slowly and are easy to prevent from getting it in the field -in my Regular difficulty run, I never once had a Chosen attempt an Avenger Assault because I always killed them before that point. This was literally my first time playing War of the Chosen, note; the Chosen are really, really un-threatening on Rookie and Regular.

On higher difficulties, this is genuinely appealing. Chosen are harder to prevent from Extracting Knowledge or Kidnapping someone, and on Legendary in particular Covert Ops all take longer, giving them a lot more time to build Knowledge, when Legendary has no modifiers lowering their Knowledge gain rate. Furthermore, as Chosen raise their Knowledge level, they increase the tendency for Covert Ops to be hazardous to your troops, making it more likely you'll end up risking someone being Captured on a Covert Op, which leads to more Knowledge being gained. Not to mention on Legendary the Chosen are so overwhelmingly powerful that for the first couple of encounters you may genuinely be better off letting them Extract Knowledge/Kidnap, simply so they don't wipe out the entire squad!

Being able to slow them down can thus be worth spending the Resistance Order slot, especially since it will delay their ability to engage in Sabotage, which is actually the Chosen action most consistently seriously harmful to you.

On Legendary in particular I'd argue this is one of the best Resistance Orders, due to how much longer it takes to deal with the Chosen and how much longer it takes for you to tech up: on Commander, it's entirely possible to have your first Chosen only get around to launching their Avenger assault once you've got some beam-tier weapons and Powered Armor online and have 8+ Major/Colonel-level soldiers. On Legendary, it's entirely possible to be hit twice by Chosen when your highest-level soldiers are still mostly Captains and you have only magnetic-tier weaponry and Plated Armor. The latter scenario is far more likely to get soldiers killed, or even result in a game over!

It's also worth pointing out this is the only thing you can do to slow down Chosen Knowledge gain. If you personally struggle to prevent them from Extracting Knowledge and/or Kidnapping your soldiers, Decoys and Deceptions is literally your only option for blunting this problem. Give it more priority if this is an issue for you, no matter the difficulty you're playing on.

Private Channel
Mission timers are extended by 2 turns.

Below Legendary, Private Channel is a nice idea but probably not worth the slot. Mission timers are generally generous, and plenty of missions put you on a timer that doesn't take the form of an explicitly displayed timer affected by Private Channel. (eg Protect The Device missions are effectively on a timer, but decided by the device's HP and the strength of the attacks coming its way) The primary exception is that psionic transmitter missions starting you out with a 4-turn timer and expecting you to extend the timer by destroying nodes puts you under tremendous time pressure if you're wanting to actually set up an Overwatch ambush; extending this to 6 turns to start is just enough breathing room you can reliably expect to set up such an Overwatch ambush even if you don't have a Reaper searching for the closest pod. If Psionic Transmitter missions stress you out like mad, Private Channel will help a lot.

On Legendary, Private Channel is notably more worth considering. Missions have more enemies, most of whom are noticeably tougher than on lower difficulties, and this will slow down your squad. As a quick example, an early-game Sectoid plus two ADVENT Troopers will, on Commander, demand four or fewer successful strikes if you're not using Rookies, Specialists, Reapers, or Skirmishers, with Skirmishers able to shoot twice and/or Justice a Trooper to kill them so they're misleading to include; one each to kill the Troopers, and two more to kill the Sectoid, with potential to get lucky and kill it in one strike, such as by a Blademaster Ranger getting a crit on their Slash, a Templar rolling high or already having 1 Focus, or a Ranger, Sharpshooter, or Grenadier getting a clean shot that crits and rolls high enough to one-shot the Sectoid. This all means you can easily spend less than half your squad's movement capacity on the fight.

Legendary doesn't affect the Troopers, but the Sectoid jumping from 8 HP to 10 HP does a surprising amount to slow the squad. On average you expect two hits from most primary weapons to kill a Sectoid, just like on Commander, but on Commander two low-rolls on eg a Cannon will still kill the Sectoid. On Legendary, two low rolls will instead leave it standing with 2 HP, requiring another hit to go down. More consistently pertinent is that it's almost impossible to one-shot a Legendary Sectoid with early-game troops; a Shotgun that crits and rolls max damage is one short. A Blademaster Ranger Slashing with a Conventional Sword can kill the Sectoid in one hit, but it requires they either crit (10% chance in the early game) or roll max damage. (1 in 3 chance) A Templar can also one-shot with a crit (10% chance), or can have prior Focus. (50% chance to roll high and kill at 1 Focus, guaranteed kill if at 2 Focus... and both irrelevant if the Sectoid in question is in the first pod you attack)

This kind of thing crops up all over Legendary's early game, with a lot of enemies gaining just enough HP your squad ends up burning more action points on killing a given pod, which directly slows the squad down. Suddenly those missions that on Commander you regularly clear with 3-4 turns left on the clock have you show up with 1 turn left, barely able to complete the objective. Sometimes the map will generate so it's actually literally impossible to make it, where even Dashing every turn would be too slow! (This is rare, thankfully, but something to be aware of)

An extra two turns on the clock can mean the difference between failing a mission vs scraping through.

Note that Infiltrate is almost directly superior, though. Only one form of VIP Extraction is both timed and doesn't start you with squad Concealment, and missions generally endeavor to design themselves so it takes a couple turns at minimum to reach your first pod. You know, when Dashing everywhere, which Infiltrate makes unnecessary. As such, 99% of the time either Resistance Order applies, Infiltrate will provide at least as much benefit, and usually more.

Also note that if you play with Time Turners on, this is pretty much completely worthless. Even Psionic Transmitter missions are almost completely trivialized by Time Turner in spite of it not affecting the time provided by destroying the relays. You should probably ignore Private Channel if you have Time Turner on.

Integrated Warfare
PCS bonuses are improved, either gaining +1 to their effect or increasing their bonus by 25%.
Can instead be a Continent Bonus.

Yeah, this is the GTS upgrade from the base game, no changes beyond how you activate it. Getting it as a Resistance Order is pretty eeeeeh, though. Vulture is no longer a given, so you have less loot overall and thus less PCSes, and the number of soldiers you need to equip with PCSes to be consistently fielding squads that all have a PCS has grown massively, so it's considerably more likely for you to regularly have only 1-2 soldiers with PCSes in a given mission, limiting how much Integrated Warfare is actually contributing. Stat grinding from Covert Ops also means PCS boosts are overall less proportionately valuable, and by extension Integrated Warfare's boosts are less uniquely valuable; sure, you can squeeze out a little more Aim, another hit point here and there, etc, but you could also pull that off with targeted Covert Op usage, and most stats have something of a diminishing returns aspect. (ie +1 HP is noticeably more likely to matter when it's added to 5 HP than when added to 8 HP)

It's still potentially worth slotting in, especially in the leadup to the final missions since so many Resistance Orders don't do anything in them, it's just overall worse off than it was in the base game, and suffers from Resistance Order mechanics and options. For example, either Inside Job providing more Intel and Quid Pro Quo reducing Black Market costs is, at first glance, not clearly overlapping with Integrated Warfare boosting PCS effects... but both of those make it easier to afford Superior PCSes as they show up. If you're considering Quid Pro Quo or Integrated Warfare for a slot, it may work out that Integrated Warfare's boosts are beaten out in practice by Quid Pro Quo because you end up mostly with Basic and Advanced PCSes, which are worse than Superior ones even when boosted by Integrated Warfare.

It gets noticeably better if you also have Adaptive Combat Sims, since that encourages slotting in PCSes early even if they're not your preferred option on the idea you'll swap them out at no cost later. ie you might slot Conditioning into a Templar early on even though that's kind of a waste overall on the idea that you'll plug in Speed once you've got one available. And of course it means you'll never destroy a PCS, meaning more of your squad will be equipped with PCSes and so Integrated Warfare will be more useful. Having Vulture also props up its relevance, since you'll generally end up with more PCSes as a result, and so Integrated Warfare will be more consistently relevant.

It's still overall worse off than in the base game, though, where you had a smaller number of soldiers in rotation and Integrated Warfare wasn't competing with anything in a concrete way. Just a one-time injection of Supplies and there you go.

As a continent bonus, it's decent enough, among other points being one of the few continent bonuses that lacks an 'expiration date' and that directly helps in the final mission. Even if it's out of your way, it can be worth grabbing it just for that little bit of a boost, particularly if you make a point of buying good PCSes for your A-team. The final mission is tough enough every little bit counts. I actually like it a lot more as a continent bonus than as a Resistance Order, design-wise.

Weak Points
All attacks that Shred remove one more point of Armor than usual.

Grenades, Shredding Heavy Weapons, Shredder-backed shots... all of it.

This is particularly useful in the early midgame, before you have Plasma Grenades/Advanced Explosives/beam weaponry, and so most of your splash Shred only removes 1 Armor and your directed Shred only removes 1-2 Armor. Weak Points will let a Frag Grenade strip all the Armor off Commander/Legendary Mutons and basic ADVENT Mecs, for example, and will allow magnetic weaponry to tear off all of a Sectopod's Armor in 2 shots below Legendary, 3 on Legendary, as opposed to 3 shots below Legendary, 4 on Legendary.

Mind, Weak Points is pretty notably affected by difficulty. If you're playing down on Rookie or Regular, it's worthless in the early-to-mid-game since everything has at most one point of Armor, and is unlikely to be all that useful even later on; Sectopods are only 4 Armor, and Gatekeepers are only 5 when closed. Two Plasma Grenades will be enough to wipe a Sectopod's Armor either way, Weak Points will just add a single point of damage to that step, for example, and you will typically have Plasma Grenades online before being forced to fight Sectopods. Gatekeepers and Andromedons are really the only enemies Weak Points is notably helpful against on Regular: Gatekeepers because their 6 Armor means Weak Points is the difference between chucking 2 Plasma Grenades vs chucking 3 for completely wiping their Armor, and Andromedons because they're not so tough as to be crucial to completely Shred but shaving off an additional point of Armor when smashing their Cover or shooting them with a Shredder soldier can still lead to needing one less attack to kill them.

Okay and I guess technically Turrets are relevant on all difficulties, but they're really rare in War of the Chosen, and can often be one-shot by blowing up the ground beneath them, making Shred per se a bit moot. A lot of the time, you can also just avoid fighting them, and in missions like the Blacksite there's usually no reason to actually fight Turrets encountered in the initial squad Concealment phase.

On Commander, Weak Points comes into its own as a decent Resistance Order in the mid-early game, as now ADVENT Mecs and Mutons have 2 Armor and show up early enough you may well be stuck with 1 Shred; Grenadiers are your only guaranteed early Shredder soldier if you don't have Shen's Last Gift, after all, and Cannons take longer to get to their magnetic tier than Rifles/Shotguns, so if you don't eg build the Training Center early and luck into a Ranger or Specialist getting Shredder, you're liable to be stuck with Frag Grenades (1 Shred) and Conventional Cannons backed by Shredder. (Still 1 Shred) This is slightly less beneficial if you have Shen's Last Gift and play with Integrated DLC off and specifically with the Shen's Last Gift mission on; your very early SPARK means you have a very early Rocket Launcher, which is 2 Shred right there. Regardless, in addition to ADVENT Mecs and Mutons being common, widespread examples of tough 2 Armor enemies that show up early enough for Weak Points to be appreciated on Commander, it's also the case that the Warlock will hit 2 Armor early enough for it to matter if you happen to be fighting him that early, and Shieldbearers get enough of an HP spike on Commander that while they already had 2 Armor on Regular Shredding both points is a lot more likely to matter on Commander.

And in the late game, 2+ Armor is sufficiently common on Commander that Weak Points will be pretty regularly helping you.

On Legendary, Weak Points is starting to border into amazing. Purifiers have 2 Armor as early as their Advanced version, Shieldbearers jump to 3 Armor (4 at Elite!), the Warlock has 2 Armor at his basic level of Training and the other Chosen will hit 2 Armor the instant they hit their second tier, and Sectopods and Gatekeepers both tick over another point of Armor too. Frag Grenades Shredding 2 Armor will matter much more consistently to the early game, Plasma Grenades Shredding 3 Armor will get chances to shine semi-regularly without needing to wait for endgame enemies to show up or end up fighting a Turret on solid ground, etc. Weak Points won't be relevant to every mission, but it will be relevant sufficiently often with sufficiently significant impact I consider it close to an automatic inclusion on Legendary if it's not competing with more clearly amazing Resistance Orders like Resistance Network.

Inside Knowledge
Weapon Attachments all increase their effect by one tier.
Can instead be a Continent Bonus.

I talked about this back in the Weapon Attachments analysis post, but this includes that it boosts Superior versions a step further.

Conversely, it's buggy and tends to not boost Stock damage at all, especially on Tactical Legacy Pack weaponry and Chosen weaponry. As in, I've never seen it boost Stock damage on those, and with regular weapons I'm not entirely sure I've ever had their Stock damage boosted either. It's also somewhat buggy with Expanded Magazines, where activating Inside Knowledge can lead to an Expanded Magazine-equipped weapon starting a mission with one unit of ammo missing. This will fix itself for good on that weapon after your first reload it or after replacing the Expanded Magazine, even if it's with a better Expanded Magazine, and it's unlikely to get someone killed or anything, but the point is that Inside Knowledge is coded imperfectly.

In spite of the bugs, Inside Knowledge is actually a very solid Resistance Order overall. If you don't have the Tactical Legacy Pack, it's not something you should be slotting in for the early game; you're just too likely to have barely any Weapon Attachments, with no guarantee of them including Weapon Attachments that are particularly appreciated in the early game, or that particularly appreciate being boosted. (That is, a Basic Repeater or Laser Sight is extremely low-value, even once boosted by Inside Knowledge, while an Auto-Loader is often basically overkill in the early game outside of Lost-containing missions where it doesn't help as much as one might hope) If you do have the Tactical Legacy Pack, it's well worth considering slotting it in right away; without Inside Knowledge, a Rookie wielding the Old World Assault Rifle has a 95% chance to hit a target they're flanking and directly adjacent to. With Inside Knowledge, that's suddenly a guaranteed hit! Same with distant high ground shots on eg Lost. The difference between a 0% chance of missing vs any chance of missing, however small, is a pretty big one!

Inside Knowledge really comes into its own once you're upgrading to magnetic-tier weaponry, of course, and turns into a borderline must-have once you've unlocked all the Chosen weaponry. Naturally, Modular Breakthroughs also improve its value, and the only way for it to be particularly bad is if you lack the Tactical Legacy Pack and routinely blow up enemies so they don't drop loot and completely refuse to buy Weapon Attachments from the Black Market and refuse to use Covert Ops to get them and refuse to kill the Chosen. (Or refuse to unlock their weapons, I suppose)

Very solid as a Resistance Order.

As a continent bonus, it's arguably even better. Like yes if you get it really early it'll take a bit to seriously pay off, but there's no possibility of agonizing over whether Inside Knowledge or Sabotage is more important to you right now, or anything like that. Just unlock it, and enjoy the increasingly great benefits forever.

Double Agent
Each mission has a 33% chance of an ADVENT Trooper or ADVENT Stun Lancer joining up for the duration of the mission.
Can instead be a Continent Bonus.

A neat point is that if a Dark Event is currently boosting ADVENT Troopers and/or Stun Lancers, the Double Agent will actually benefit from the Dark Event!

More surprising is that these ADVENT Troopers and Stun Lancers are able to carry bodies and participate in certain plot cinematics you might expect them to not work right with. (eg the Forge) Body-carrying potential was clearly not properly planned for: they'll (usually) animate properly for picking up the body, but beyond that they don't have real animations for carrying bodies and will perform their normal movement animations with the body dangling from an anchor point inside their chest. Ironically, this janky behavior makes them more appealing for body-carrying duty than regular soldiers, because one of the annoying things with body-carrying duty is that the animations for moving about with bodies are slow, and you'll often want to move the body-carrier late in a turn and so potentially have to wait for them to finish. (The game is normally nice about letting you switch to other soldiers and issue orders without waiting for already-moving soldiers to finish their animations) ADVENT Troopers or Stun Lancers carrying a body will animate at their usual running speed, instead.

The odd thing is that some of the very standard animations you'd expect them to play just fine don't work properly. They can set X4 charges, for example, but no animation will occur. Even odder is that they can't Subdue a hostile VIP; you'll have to have a human soldier do that, even though the double agent can carry the VIP. (Don't try having a Stun Lancer melee the VIP; that'll just kill them) More evidence of War of the Chosen's rushed state, since this stuff would almost certainly have been ironed out if the game had been given more time.

Double Agent is, surprisingly, generally overall better than Volunteer Army. (And shares many of its qualities like 'I've never seen it trigger on either kind of Avenger Defense mission, Ambushes, etc') Volunteer Army gets the edge in raw damage output late in the game, and does have the benefit of getting Aim climb from closing in on the enemy, but ADVENT Troopers will be carrying a Frag Grenade if they're above Basic (And Basic ADVENT Troopers are phased out so fast you're unlikely to have Double Agent in time for them to spawn at all, even on Legendary difficulty), while Stun Lancers have massive movement and the potential to Stun, Disorient, or knock Unconscious your enemies -yes, that does work on enemies, even stuff like Andromedons! Stun Lancers in particular go well with the way these Resistance Orders function, in that the natural way to use them of hurling them at the enemy for melee attacks in turn tends to draw fire from enemies, which you don't care about since they vanish into thin air after the mission.

You can also work around their lack of Aim climb with Holo Targeting and Aftershock support. Even on Rookie difficulty, the worst Aim of either possibility is 65, with Stun Lancers adding 10 to that when making a melee attack; Holo Targeting+Aftershock brings a Basic Trooper or Basic Stun Lancer's shooting up to 95% accuracy on a 0-Defense target in the open, and ensures that the Basic Stun Lancer will always hit the target in melee if it doesn't have innate Defense. Higher tiers have better Aim, of course -well, unless you're playing on Rookie or Regular, in which case Stun Lancers remain stuck at 65 Aim throughout the game. Outside that, though, higher tiers will do better with support/need less support/etc.

Though while we're on the topic of difficulty, it's worth pointing out Double Agent is a Resistance Order whose quality goes up as you go up in difficulty, as the Trooper or Stun Lancer you get has difficulty-appropriate stats. If you're playing down on Rookie, Resistance Army is probably actually better, simply because Rookie cripples so many enemy stats so severely, thus crippling Double Agents. If you're playing up on Legendary, a Double Agent will be an impressively solid meatshield/distraction. Stun Lancers in particular are hit by this difference to a tremendous degree: a Legendary Elite Stun Lancer has almost twice the HP of a Rookie Elite Stun Lancer, as well as innate Defense, innate Dodge, an innate crit chance, slightly higher Aim, slightly higher Mobility, and superior resistance to psychic assault. A Legendary Elite ADVENT Trooper, by contrast, has less than 50% more HP than a Rookie Elite ADVENT Trooper, and its only other advantages are some innate Defense, a small Aim boost, and a small Will boost. Enough to make a difference, yes, but not nearly as dramatic as with Stun Lancers.

Mind, many of my complaints with Resistance Army, such as how it being a 1 in 3 chance is not a good way to try to balance it, apply to Double Agent as well. But it is overall the better Resistance Order, and thematically speaking it has the edge that it's always completely natural for Double Agent to trigger in all the missions either Resistance Order is allowed to trigger on; excepting The Horde missions, you're always fighting ADVENT, so it's always plausible for someone on site to be an inside (wo)man, and for The Horde missions it's still possible to potentially sell it, especially since Sitrep The Horde only ever occurs for missions where the clear train of thought is 'ADVENT was here until just recently', so you can just assume the double agent found arranged to get left behind, expecting you to show soon.

(Possible caveat: I haven't tested if Double Agent can trigger in The Tower or The Nest, ie the DLC missions. If it can, that would be... kinda weird, thematically, but still excusable)

While we're on thematics, it's worth commentary that this is one of my favorite Resistance Orders in that it goes a long way to mitigate one of the uncomfortable elements of the base game, which I touched on in the Skirmisher analysis post: the way the base game treats your enemies as faceless monsters to be shot to death for their evil crimes, even though the narrative elements make it clear it's not that clear-cut whether they're even marginally willing participants and, crucially, X-COM the organization should know better. Double Agent instantly shows that not everyone currently inside the regime is an unsympathetic monster deserving of death; some of them hate the current regime enough to help fight against it from inside it.

Even better, it also helps mitigate a different issue the Skirmishers otherwise are consistent with: that a lot of narratives are only willing to forgive once-bad-guys for their crimes if they instantly, totally reject the evils they were once part of the very second whatever moment happens that the narrative considers a crucial moment. (ie in this case Skirmishers are edging dangerously close to 'they're only acceptably good because they go rogue the very instant they're not mind-controlled') This kind of narrative always makes me cringe because in real life such transitions are often a gradual thing; people rarely sit up one day and go 'wow, I just realized I live in and help perpetuate a society of evil, and I'm going to immediately run away and start trying to burn it to the ground'.

For one thing, an awful society/government/organization is rarely awful in exactly one, specific manner. Having a lightbulb moment that one thing you're part of is terrible doesn't mean immediately realizing all the other terrible things are, in fact, terrible. For another, it's rarely easy to quickly cut ties or otherwise change things: people have friends and family, and crucial and not-clearly-evil elements of what's going on have been constructed to be dependent on the terrible things continuing to happen. An individual who did sit up one day and go 'every awful thing in my society is awful, and I am now an enlightened good person who refuses to participate anymore' would be pretty unlikely to be able to actually cut ties right away. They'd want to extract the people they care about, whom are of course also embedded in these circumstances and probably consider a lot of it natural, acceptable, or even admirable. And for something like a totalitarian regime, as XCOM 2 is depicting, one key element of the awfulness is a deliberate attempt to entrap its members, make it so leaving is highly undesirable, up to and including killing people who attempt to flee or change things.

So even something like a vat-grown clone who never made any friends but nonetheless had enough moral fiber to decide this all has to stop (An unlikely combination, by the way; people tend to be motivated first by concern for them and theirs, with this possibly leading down the line to a realization that broader principles should be held to) would probably still struggle to get away: say you're an ADVENT Trooper assigned to some random Avatar Project Facility in a godforsaken stretch of countryside, whose chip fails and you suddenly realize everything you're part of is awful and needs to stop. Since you're the totalitarian government's slave-soldier, you have no private home to live in, you've very possibly been raised to think of food as something that comes out of a box or a kitchen with zero concept of wilderness survival, and since this is an evil totalitarian government and you're a slave-soldier it's pretty obvious you're not getting a vacation. Generating an adequate excuse to slip away unnoticed without being tracked down in short order is going to be hard, and if you've spent most of your (very brief) life as a mind-controlled puppet you're unlikely to have experience and skill thinking on your feet anyway. And then you'll have no idea how to survive if you do manage to get away without being immediately run down and punished for deserting your post.

All these kinds of factors mean that people, even people who hate everything about what they're surrounded by an participating in, often struggle to disentangle themselves from the situation. If they can forge a path at all, it's often one that takes years.

Which in turn means that narratives that assume you're completely evil if you don't immediately abandon everything to stop being a part of the bad guys are atrocious.

Double Agent helps keep the Skirmishers away from that side of the line. The game doesn't delve into it in detail or anything, and the mechanics are very simple and kind of silly -a double agent really ought to be doing stuff like leading you through a back door, not acting as an extra body carrying an extra gun- but the fact that it exists at all is huge.

My one complaint in this regard is that there's no Double Agent-esque Resistance Order for showing that the aliens can fight from the inside, too...

... but thankfully, there's mods for that, and even better Chimera Squad has most of your non-human recruits explicitly have appropriate history, instead of contriving for none of them to have literal or metaphorical blood on their hands.

This all does a lot to mitigate what aspects of Skirmishers are problematic.


Oh, and as a continent bonus, Double Agent is pretty great. It suffers a bit from the hardest mission types pretty uniformly refusing to let it trigger, including no possibility of it triggering in the final mission, but it's appreciated when it does apply, especially if it lines up with encountering a Chosen or Alien Ruler. There are also missions that can potentially be pretty rough that it's still allowed to trigger on, like Psi Transmitter missions, and it's not terribly time-sensitive; getting it earlier is better, of course, but it only becomes completely worthless to pursue when you're literally ready to launch the final missions. This makes it one of the less bad possibilities to be moderately out your way.

Impact Modeling
All armor-related research occurs 15% faster.

Impact Modeling is overall notably less useful than Ballistics Modeling. There's fewer armor researches, and in total they consume less research time than weapons research does, even though individually they take longer than roughly equivalent individual weapon researches. Furthermore, they're not so backloaded: getting Ballistics Modeling after you've completed both magnetics researches still nets you the vast majority of its benefits. Getting Impact Modeling after you've completed Plated Armor is missing out on a third or so of its benefits. This makes Ballistic Modeling less sensitive to timing than Impact Modeling for how much it helps.

I'm actually not sure whether Impact Modeling affects the Alien Ruler Autopsies. Frankly, I'd expect it to from a game design standpoint since the only payoff to those Autopsies is new armors, but I don't actually know. They usually have short timeframes when you acquire them, and the game only ever lists things in terms of days, and it always rounds the prediction up; shaving 15% off of a 5-day research would result in 4.25 days, and the game would still list that as 5 days. This makes it a pain to check within play, especially since it's in addition to Scientists being added, a Laboratory being constructed, or Pursuit of Knowledge being acquired all also changing research time. If you're not taking notes or something...

Anyway, regardless, Impact Modeling is okay. Plated Armor and Powered Armor are both fairly lengthy researches, and Plated Armor is one of the most important researches in the game. A run that gets Impact Modeling early, slots it in, and then gets Plated Armor Inspired is a run that's notably better off. You can also feel relatively free to swap Impact Modeling out after completing Plated Armor (At least if you don't have Alien Hunters), since the gap between it and Powered Armor is so huge; you're not going to remove it and then regret it by later that month starting on Powered Armor.

But that's all Impact Modeling is: okay. If you never use it in any run, you're not necessarily hurting yourself at all, and if you are it certainly isn't by much.

To be honest, I don't really get why this isn't a bigger modifier. It's plain to see that weapons tie up more lab hours than armor, and by quite the margin, and the game is designed so that weapons are overall a lot more essential than armors. Powered Armor in particular is really basically optional; doing the final mission without third-tier armor is less of a loss than you might expect if you're reasonably skilled at the game, and yet it takes only a little longer to get done than the Plasma Rifle research! The other three beam-tier weapon researches all take half or less the time Powered Armor takes, but that still works out to Ballistics Modeling shaving off something around twice as much lab time than Impact Modeling when looking at late-game researches. That means you could literally double Impact Modeling's savings and it would still be overall a little worse than Ballistic Modeling!

I dunno, maybe it actually affects the Proving Grounds Projects for building armors? I'm pretty sure it doesn't, but even if it did that wouldn't exactly make up the difference, especially when you consider that War of the Chosen's Resistance classes can't make use of those armors and so it's a lot more questionable whether you want to build six such armors. (And it was already questionable in the base game, since you're giving up an Item slot for switching away from medium armor)

Modular Construction
Facilities are built 25% faster.

This is another Resistance Order that can be great to roll early in the game, especially on Legendary, but loses relevance as you get deeper in the game. Acquiring it when the Avenger is full-up is, of course, outright worthless.

It's also, it should be noted, usually clearly inferior to Heavy Machinery if you're choosing between the two. For much of the game, particularly on Legendary, the primary bottleneck on facility construction speed is Excavation having to be done first, and Heavy Machinery provides a bigger boost than Modular Construction in terms of days saved. This isn't even touching on the Engineer-efficiency part; for non-urgent facilities, they can be left to construct themselves, no Engineer necessary. Excavation demands Engineers, or else it won't get done at all. Heavy Machinery thus gets your Engineers freed up to contribute other ways sooner, where Modular Construction does not except when it comes specifically to urgent facilities, particularly ones that don't have an Engineer slot once complete. (eg the Shadow Chamber)

Of course, if you can readily slot in both in the early game, that's excellent, but just keep in mind that it's not until Excavation is largely done that Modular Construction has decent odds of being the better choice if you're only using one or the other.

That said, I love the conceptual layer here. The game never draws your attention to this fact in a substantive way, but if you bother to pay attention it's very obvious that ADVENT-distinctive construction is modular. One might be tempted to dismiss that as a convenience for the developers to make destructible buildings easier to visualize correctly, and maybe it did start out that way or something of the sort, but the engine is clearly perfectly able to cope with non-modular constructions nonetheless having each individual tile segment separately destructible in a coherent way. It really is that ADVENT is supposed to make use of modular construction technology, which is further supported by how maps are actually fairly fond of ADVENT infrastructure having been quite obviously rapidly set up in eg an existing town.

(This is, it should be mentioned, likely all in part a callback to The Bureau, where the alien invaders used suspiciously similar modular constructions to rapidly drop walls and whatnot in the middle of cities and the like)

So it makes perfect sense that ex-ADVENT soldiers would have familiarity with ADVENT's modular construction techniques to at least some extent, especially given this modular construction gets used for places like Avatar Project Facilities that certainly weren't assembled by human civilians or something of the sort. The most natural explanation is that ADVENT soldiers assembled these constructions, and so would have prior familiarity when going rogue. And the fact that this leads to faster construction is intuitively natural to how we see visual evidence that ADVENT seems to rapidly deploy these modular constructions with little in the way of groundwork.

How believable it is that the Skirmishers can recreate this technology is another matter, but one I'm willing to run with because the game never addresses the topic directly enough for it to create any holes. There are plenty of modern innovations that can be done with technology that was available centuries ago, and just didn't become widespread until more recently for any number of reasons. I can readily buy that ADVENT's modular construction is something simple and clever, rather than having to be backed by a massive industrial base to be physically possible to build in any kind of reasonable timeframe.

Information War
-20 Hack Defense on all hackable enemies.

The game itself indicates Information War affects object hackables and ADVENT security towers, but as far as I can tell it doesn't actually do that at all. This is unfortunate, since those are the hackables Information War would be most consistently appreciated against, between objective hacks being mandatory and ADVENT security towers having relatively low Hack Defense in the first place; shaving off 20 points would semi-regularly result in the better-odds hack of a security tower going from an 89% chance of success to a 100% chance, that kind of thing. Alas, it's just actual enemies affected.

As such, in actuality Information War only serves to make robots a little more likely to be successfully hit by Haywire Protocol and Skulljacking/Skullmining more likely to get you a bonus. If you're fond of Skullmining, whether because you're okay with accepting intermittent Infirmary time in exchange for the ability to mostly-reliably one-shot eg Shieldbearers right through their shield or because you desperately want more Intel, or both, you might as well run Information War if you get it. Same for if you like going for Haywire Protocol attempts in general.

If you're not prone to those, Information War isn't enough of a tilt to really justify giving them a second chance. Skullmining in particular has the unavoidable flaws of having a fixed miss chance and frequently requiring a soldier stop in an awkward position in the field; even if Information War were a massive tilting of the odds of success, those flaws would remain as serious issues, particularly how they combine together; if Skullmining couldn't miss, you'd be able to resolve the 'stuck in a bad position' issue by only giving your Skulljacks to people with Implacable, for example.

If you do get it early and lack strong alternatives, you might as well slot it in just because it does make the plot-mandated Skulljack uses more likely to give an additional payoff, but overall Information War is a cool, thematically-appropriate-to-Skirmishers Resistance Order, but lackluster in its actual utility.

It doesn't help that it's the only Resistance Order that helps with Hacking. If there were a Resistance Order that gave +20 to soldier Hack ratings, the two together would potentially make Hacking a more appealing thing to try out in a given run. Sure, you can grind the Hack stat from Covert Ops, but it's not like that's particularly quick to hit ranges where Information War is meaningfully appreciated...

On a different note, while it never occurred to me to think of this as wrong for Skirmishers, I do wonder if this is a repurposed Resistance Order originally meant for the fourth Julien-led robot faction I mentioned evidence exists was meant to be a thing. Robots helping you hack better would be pretty typical, after all.

Tactical Analysis
If a pod is activated during the player's turn, all members of that pod will have one less action point on the immediately following turn.
Can instead be a Continent Bonus.

Interestingly, this includes Lost spawn waves: if you eg toss an explosive and a Lost wave spawns in immediate response to that during your turn, Tactical Analysis will steal an action point from each Lost, making it much safer to be liberal with explosives. However, a Lost wave that spawns immediately prior to the Lost turn will be unaffected by Tactical Analysis... though since they don't take an immediate turn that's not much of a flaw.

Tactical Analysis also normally doesn't affect Chosen (For some reason it does affect them if you hit the final mission with Chosen still alive, but in every other case they're immune), and though all the in-game information will claim it affects Alien Rulers in actuality it effectively doesn't; they won't miss a Ruler Reaction turn or something like that, and in War of the Chosen Alien Rulers don't get two-action turns during the Alien/ADVENT turn, so Tactical Analysis never gets the opportunity to shave off an action point.

Codices, it should be noted, are not actually immune to Tactical Analysis, but when dealing with a lone Codex they're effectively immune anyway: they'll Teleport with 1 action point, and magically have 1 action point after they teleport, which of course will promptly be spent on a Psi Bomb. As such, Tactical Analysis is only helpful against Codices if you activate a group of them and allow more than one to survive/end up cloning them. If you do get a group of Codices, it's surprisingly prone to helping a lot; frequently the later Codices will spend their turn moving, instead of taking shots or going into Overwatch, and thus you'll often get a turn of breathing room before anyone is in real danger, but massed Codices is an uncommon scenario.

Its utility against ADVENT Turrets is also lower than you might expect, as while it's nearly impossible for them to be activated outside X-COM's turn and they can shoot twice in a turn, AI-controlled Turrets are extremely prone to taking a shot and then skipping the rest of their turn or at most taking a shot and then going into Overwatch, making Tactical Analysis rarely actually helpful against them.

It's also, of course, useless if you're very reliable about ensuring no enemy affected by it ever gets a turn in the first place. This makes its value decline as your own skill as a player rises, and also means its value mostly declines as you progress through the game because War of the Chosen is designed so that enemies hit their apex well before your forces do, which is to say you're expected to be able to take on endgame threats with mid-level soldiers equipped with magnetic-tier weaponry and Predator Armor and therefore actual endgame gear is overkill.

In spite of all those caveats, Tactical Analysis is a surprisingly excellent Resistance Order, particularly for a new player. If for some reason you're reading all this without having ever touched the game, I'd highly recommend you prioritize slotting in Tactical Analysis anytime you get the chance, at least until you reach the point of being very reliable about preventing enemies from getting turns. It's surprisingly common for enemies to move somewhere as their entire turn after a Tactical Analysis, it ensures that unless you actually activated a pod such that they started flanking your soldiers there's no possibility of a flank, it cripples the ability for melee enemies to contribute (Dedicated melee enemies in particular can often be completely ignored for a turn), it forces most enemies you flank to choose between staying flanked while trying to fight vs escaping the flank but not doing anything with their turn, and for those enemies that have ways of spending multiple action points on non-movement actions (eg Officers, Sectopods), it's a pretty consistent drop in their contribution.

As I noted with the Grenadier post, one thing Tactical Analysis does is make Suppression actually a good choice, enough so I recommend defaulting to Suppression over Demolition in War of the Chosen just in case you roll Tactical Analysis. After all, with only 1 action point, a number of enemies will have two options: break the Suppression by moving, which gives you a shot at them and doesn't let them contribute anything on that turn, or take a shot at -50 to Aim. Very few enemies break 75 Aim, even on Legendary, even in the endgame; a Suppression-afflicted shot will usually end up at either 5% or 0% chance to hit, since it's not like they'll be able to get a flank; -50 plus -20 from Low Cover is already -70. And remember Suppression can stack: -100 Aim is such a massive penalty only a handful of enemies would have any chance to hit a target that's in the open if they had high ground!

I'm talking about the Chosen and Avatars, by the way. Literally every other enemy caps out at 80 Aim at most, and enemies don't get innate Aim bonuses for closing with you or anything like that. And Chosen are (mostly) immune to Tactical Analysis while Avatars basically never use their gun anyway...

Furthermore, one of Tactical Analysis' most beneficial qualities is that the situation that's most alarmingly problematic in XCOM 2 -accidentally pulling multiple pods in your turn when you weren't ready for them- is exactly the time Tactical Analysis is at its most beneficial. You shouldn't treat it as licence to be reckless, mind, but it's tremendously good at reducing how punishing being caught by one of the many weird edge cases of the pod activation mechanics is. Instead of doing a seemingly reasonable thing that has no chance of backfiring, only to learn some arcane rule of how the engine draws line of sight or whatever means it actually activates two pods at the end of your turn and promptly having all of them start working on killing people, you're a lot more likely to have something happen like only two enemies actually try to attack, and they're both doing so from unfavorable conditions and so probably everything's fine and you can start working to get the situation under control.

Seriously, Tactical Analysis is one of the best Resistance Orders in the game prior to attaining an extremely high level of skill, and even once you hit that point it's still fairly solid. Among other points, some of the most dangerous missions are the ones with oversized pods or a large number of pods relative to the map size such that even with a Reaper it's extremely difficult to pull exactly one pod, including Chosen Stronghold assaults and both forms of Avenger Defense. In such cases, it's not always possible to arrange a for-sure kill on every enemy you just activated, and Tactical Analysis is here to help.

As a continent bonus, Tactical Analysis is still quite nice, being relevant throughout the game and particularly helpful in the final mission, contrasting with how many continent bonuses contribute nothing in the final mission. It's not quite high enough value for me to say you should definitely pursue it if at all possible, but it's one of the few possible continent orders that's seriously worth considering going through the effort of unlocking even if it's literally the last un-contacted regions of the world. Indeed, I'd argue that overall Tactical Analysis is even better as a continent bonus than as a Resistance Order, because as a continent bonus it isn't at risk of being left unused because other things are a higher priority.

It's actually one of my favorite continent bonuses, and I'd be thrilled if -assuming XCOM 3 is reasonably comparable to XCOM 2 in design- it came back as a continent bonus-or-whatever again.


Skirmishers have probably simultaneously the most thematically boring but also most coherent set of Resistance Orders, as most of them are relatively intuitively traced back to 'is ex-ADVENT'.

The main exception is the Black Market set, which it's sort of funny that the quotes for them imply the Skirmishers intimidate the Black Market into giving better deals. I'm not entirely sure why these got put onto the Skirmishers, actually. I'd have intuitively expected Black Market stuff to go to the Reapers, if anybody was going to have such a specialization.

Honestly, my suspicion is that it's a side effect of Skirmishers being Intel-focused for thematically-appropriate reasons, since the Black Market is one of your main ways of spending Intel.

Regardless, excepting maybe the Black Market ones none of them stands out as wrong for Skirmishers, but equally they mostly don't do a lot to round out the Skirmisher character, unlike Reaper Resistance Orders showing that Reapers do well with the average citizen on the ground.

They also lack anything on the gamebreaking level of some Reaper Resistance Orders, but equally have fewer duds or potential duds. Information War is their only Resistance Order that's pretty reliably just plain bad. That's better, more consistent design than he Reapers, which is interesting given the Reapers seem to have gotten the most development attention.

Anyway, next time we cover the final set of Resistance Orders, that of the Templar.

See you then.


Popular Posts