I guess I am starting to get the hang of how to play X-Com (OpenXCom). My landing team already has personal armor and plasma rifles so things are looking better now. I missed one terror site incident though, but generally countries seem to be satisfied with me luckily. I just built my third base (one in US, one in Europe, one in Australia).
Currently the problem is Elerium, which is needed for manufacturing lots of advanced things. Yeah I get it, I can't produce nor buy it so I am somehow supposed to rob it from the aliens (I think I originally got it when I raided an alien ship which had landed, but now I have run out of it already, more is needed for stun grenades, more plasma weapons etc....). Reading some FAQs, apparently the easiest and best way is to try to locate alien supply ships going to alien bases, not quite sure yet how that works out:
- How can I tell an alien aircraft is a supply ship?
- Should I shoot them down, or just follow them until they land, and then strike?
At least the X-Com agents now located one alien base in Australia, so maybe I should leave it intact and try to attack any alien ships landing near it...?
I still don't like the land battles that much. Whenever a new terror site is reported, I give a huge sigh as I know it will mean yet another 2 hour land battle where I slowly comb the area for any aliens, trying not to get hit by their shots... Wasting my time. I wish those land battles would be much shorter and smaller, say like the turn-based battles in Gorky 17 which usually don't last longer than around 2-10 minutes. The X-Com land battles are just too drawn-out.
One way to notice supply ships is that the radar indicates them as 'large'. They're always worth following because either they are landing/creating a new base, or they are on an infiltration mission which you definitely want to stop. If they've landed somewhere then there's a good chance there's a base nearby, or one under construction so remember the spot. In fact it's worth having a couple of radar-only bases around the globe so that you can more or less track their activity worldwide and in so doing discover several bases / stop infiltration missions.
You can shoot them down but you'll risk losing some of the Elerium in the process, though you'll probably recover a lot unless you use very powerful weapons to shoot it down. The Elerium can be seen inside the actual UFOs : it's those glowing orange vertical tubes. They're in smaller UFOs too, but are easily destroyed when a UFO crashlands. One way to increase the likelihood of salvaging Elerium from a downed vessel is to not inflict too much damage to it in a dogfight. A UFO crashlands as soon as it is 50% damaged, and from what I've seen it looks like the more severely you damage the ship during the dogfight, the worse for wear it is once you find it at a crash site. Eg a small UFO taken out with cannons only is likely to survive the crash landing relatively intact, as is a medium UFO taken out with a cannon and stingray. But if you try to down either with Avalanch missiles or worse, then you run a significant risk of finding little more than a skeletal wreck at the crash site.
Tanks, use tanks. They're incredibly useful on land battles for scouting because they're expendable and may survive 2/3 hits. You can research and create better tanks than the starting ones. Also, try to train two or more snipers if you can, and keep them crouched at the back. Snipers have saved my soldiers lives on countless occasions. Oh yes, and one more thing, so you don't fall into the same trap that I did: play with many soldiers (at least 20) all with good stats - fire newcomers with bad stats. The reason is that you'll want to relegate those soldiers to base defense that turn out to have poor psi stats, but you only discover that late into the game once alien mind control comes into play.