To achieve kills effectively you will need to pay attention to a lot of factors that can make your shot go wide or fail to kill the enemy unit.
- Soldier's fixed accuracy and any accuracy losses coming from morale.
- Distance. The best way to kill a target is to walk right close to it and pump a full auto round (hard to miss). The bigger the distance the more chances the shot will hit something else.
- Weapon's power. The weapon's power should be able to kill the target in 2-3 rounds at the same location. This can be resolved usually by having several weapons firing at the same target.
Clarification of terms
There are 3 terms necessary to understand firing:
- Neutralize: to kill an enemy unit. To neutralize a unit usually the best weapons are general ones, like rifles but area weapons (such as cannons) can also be used, depending on the target's armor.
- Fire Support: fire directed to assist or protect your units. Fire support doesn't mean always to kill enemy units but simply to impair the enemy's own fire, by creating smoke or injuries. Fire support can be done with either general purpose or area weapons.
- Targets of Opportunity: unexpected enemy units which are identified during your turn.
Always use LEFT-ALT to check if the line of fire is clear. If there's cover blocking the target you will need to have sufficient shots to remove it, otherwise you might not kill the enemy unit.
The best weapons to clear cover are explosive rounds. They will destroy the cover while inflicting some damage to the target ("softening" him for the precision weapons to kill). However there is the following drawback of explosives: when they are used indoors target can fall down through destroyed floor thus going out of sight.
You should also match the weapon's power to the strength of the cover. Some terrains have features that are nearly impossible to destroy. On others, using a plasma rifle to clear a wall that could be taken by a laser is a waste of firepower.
Fire Zones and Concentrating Fire
The areas to where a soldier/team can fire clearly are their fire zones. If 2 or more soldiers share a common fire zone than the lethality of their fire is greatly increased for that zone. This makes certain areas very dangerous for the enemy to walk into because of the amount of shots that can be placed on that location.
A fire zone can be a very dangerous location for your or the other player's squad. The more units share the same fire zone the more effective it turns (because of the increased firepower). The potency of a zone also increases with the use of area weapons because of their ability to clear cover, which stops to be blocked by cover. General weapons can also be used for the role of clearing cover.
All of this also applies to your squad. If the units on an area start dropping down like flies then the other player has a fire zone there.
On occasions where there are multiple targets visible it is necessary to know which units should be killed first in order to reduce the efficiency of the other player's return fire. Here are a couple examples:
- Unarmored units are easier to kill and if taken out first will reduce the other player's numbers more quickly.
- Killing units with grenades and area weapons will prevent him from deploying smoke to cover himself (and maybe set off ammo and grenades).
- Killing his units with the best weapons (plasmas, lasers) will reduce his ability to fire at long distance.
- Leaving enemy Scouts alive will risk them moving on the next turn and spotting your units. It will also make you vulnerable to a close range attack.
- Flying units can be especially dangerous to be left alive if there are buildings for them to hide.
- The more units you kill on one turn the more disrupted an enemy attack/defense will become.
- Targets of opportunity are left at your discretion: if neutralized they reduce the enemy's numbers and hinder his response, but focusing on them may diminish your ability to mass.
To properly prioritize your firing you should then do the following:
- Locate all enemy units BEFORE firing. This is a basic mistake: a scout moves and spots an enemy 10 squares ahead and the player spends all his available firepower killing it. Then the scout remembers to turn left and suddenly spots an enemy right close to him but there's no units with TUs left to fire.
- Determine their threat level. There are 4 basic criteria: race/armor, weapon carried, position and cover.
- Assign a fire plan regarding who fires first, area or general weapons. Area weapons will destroy cover but smoke might conceal other units. Determine the amount of firepower needed to take down the primary target and the order by which they should fire.
- Neutralize primary target(s).
Distance and types of shots
The best way to kill a target is to walk right close to it and pump a full auto round (hard to miss). The bigger the distance the more chances the shot will hit something else.
Auto-shot in general tends to be used for all distances, because of the number of shots it provides, although its accuracy can be low at long distances. It can also consume a lot of ammo, forcing you to have to spend points to bring extra clips.
If you want to ensure a kill at long distance try using Snap instead of Auto, in the case of the rifles, or even use Aimed. You will still miss shots but usually the payoff of effectively killing units as planned will help your overall strategy.
Troops and Fire Support available
The terrain and the equipment of your units will determine the number of units necessary to ensure kills within a shared fire zone. To ensure kills it might necessary to concentrate units on a location in order to provide effective fire. For more details on the types of weapons see Weapons.
Precise Aiming does NOT increase the accuracy. However it allows you to aim for a specific area of the target in order to ensure that a direct shot won't be blocked by terrain. There are 3 uses for precise aiming:
- Basically precise aiming is used when part of a target is blocked by an object/wall. For instance, when a unit is standing on the lower part of stairs if the shot heads for the lower portion it will hit the stairs instead of the legs. If you use precise aiming the boxes will show not only the 3D shape of the unit but also the shape of the object, so it allows you to fire at level that isn't occupied also by terrain.
- Another use for precise aiming is when a target is on 2nd level at some distance and you are firing from first level with a wall halfway inbetween. To avoid the shot from hitting the wall you can aim at the top of the unit. This also applies to when both shooter and target are at the same level and there are obstacles that half cover the path to the target. You will need some guessing to figure out how tall the object is in order for the shot to avoid it.
- Finally, you can use precise aiming to easily blast holes through fences. Stand close to the fence and place the aiming cursor on the box containing the square or, if the unit is already standing on that box, aim at the box to where you want to move. Choose the 2-3 boxes and the unit will fire downwards, clearing the fence.