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Perk Rating Rubric #3 (Technical)

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:26 am
by Manifest
I remember those rustic summer days sitting with Papa on the porch, leaves rustling in the wind as he recounted the details of his childhood. As I grew older, he eventually entrusted me with the some of the stories from his time in the war. Of course, I badgered him for these accounts many times, and I always thought he seemed reticent to speak of such things to me. It didn't occur to a child that he was reluctant to speak of these things at all, but for my sake he relented. Sparing me the details that left him staring off into the distance, he painted the picture to me of terror and white knuckles interspersed with long stretches of ennui and listlessness. He always ended by expressing his solemn wish that I choose a path that kept me far away from the trials and sleepless nights he suffered through; I needn't worry about proving myself or flaunting strength for my country, a real man's worth is in his ability to live in times of peace. Recognizing his wisdom, I aspired to actively seek my own path and passion through this life, and was proud when I was finally able to relay to him my passions for video gaming and design, with the confidence that I had found my place in the world. For hours, I relayed to him all my experiences and new opinions on the balance and viability of the different mechanics in X-Com, as he listened deep in thought, nodding occasionally and savoring his drink.

The next day he blankly told me that if I didn't get accepted to West Point he'd shoot me. Curiously, I always feel like posting these accurately mimics the feeling of reminiscing on those happier times. Here're my ratings on Technicals using my custom rubric.

Squaddie: Heavy Weapons [Rocket] (Power 9/Reliability 6/Versatility 9/ Economy 3) [Flamethrower] (9/7/5/5)
LCpl: Fire in the Hole (7/8/8/6), Suppression (7/6/7/5), Roust (3/9/7/4)
Cpl: Biggest Booms (8/7/8/6), Fortify (7/7/7/5), Napalm-X (7/5/5/5)
Sgt: Concussion Rocket (8/5/7/5), Shredder (6/5/6/4), Burnout (7/7?/7/8)
SSgt: Tandem Warheads (7/8/7/5), Formidable (7/7/7/8), Phosphorus (6/7/8/8)
TSgt: Javelin Rockets (10/7/6/7), Fire and Steel (6.5/7/6/6), Incinerator (8/8/7/8)
GSgt: Salvo (7/8/6/8), Tac Sense (6/6/6/8), Quickburn (9/8/7/10)
MSgt: Bunker Buster (9/8/8/5), Rapid Fire (8/8/8/10), Firestorm (10/8/6/7)

Like the other 6 classes, Technicals gain access to shotguns upon promoting to Squaddie, in addition to Rifle/SMGs, and instead have most of their class power concentrated in their Secondary Technical Gauntlet, allowing them access to a Rocket and 2 uses of a Flamethrower.

Where the Sharpshooter's bane is its lack of versatility, Technicals suffer from a lack of staying power, where they are initially granted only 3 uses of their special abilities and nothing else. This is reflected in lower efficiency scores (perhaps "economy" would be a better word) at lower levels. This lack of stamina is exacerbated by the fact that, due to the relatively low range of their flamethrower, they are heavily incentivized to equip SMGs to take advantage of it. This either leads to suboptimal primary weaponry or trouble using their flamethrower weapon, both of which hurt their prospects in long missions. Naturally, they're my favorite class.

Heavy Weapons: I'd say that the power of the two technical weapons is comparable. The ability of the flamethrower to stun and inflict damage over time to its victims is balanced out by the massive AOE and environmental destruction of the rocket. Likewise, the ability to affect mechanical units and the large AOE also help keep the rocket somewhat reliable, but it does of course start with substantial accuracy problems, whereas apart from somewhat quirky interactions with enemies being too close and cover, the flamethrower is reasonably reliable at shutting down a good portion of enemies. The convenient range of the rocket lend it far more versatility, but its single use and severe movement penalties cause it to plummet in efficiency.
Fire in the Hole: Rockets are not reliable without this ability, and missing out on an innate and extremely powerful part of your kit seems like a waste. Low efficiency as they only affect one rocket at first.

Suppression: Suppression is a useful ability, but doesn't have further support in the technical tree. Suppression is also best paired with a rifle, which pushes you away from Flamers and more towards Rocketeers, but perhaps the most important part of being a Rocketeer is FitH. This does allow you to do something once your consumables run out, and the AI will still view it as a threat even with an SMG, so it's not all bad.

Roust: If I recall, this does not grant you another consumable, and still consumes one of your flamethrower charges for very little benefit. Again, this ability seems decent if you have low mobility and can't use flamethrowers, but the other two are even better for that case.

Biggest Booms: 1.5 extra damage on average. In most cases, flat, reliable damage is better than highly variable damage, however, because explosives are already highly variable/unreliable in damage and strike multiple targets, having very volatile spikes of damage is actually better for explosives. The rationale being that it's better to graze 2 targets and kill 2 targets than it is to deeply wound all 4. Basically Biggest Booms causes your rockets to be very lethal to half their targets. 50% is reasonably reliable for an AOE ability. BB is also very versatile as your technical can also equip grenades early on to extend their combat stamina; later on Gas Grenades might make the best fit due to their ability to maximize damage from BB with their dot and AOE, as well as making up for the technical's short grenade range. This is just a choice, however. Passive upgrades are efficient, but again, you only start with one rocket.

Fortify: +20 Defense is nice, and useful for staying safe when closing in to flamethrow. The issue I have with fortify is it's not really a "free action". I mean it is, but it's a free temporary activation of a passive. Imagine how much worse Low Profile/Center Mass would be if you only got to use it once every 5 turns but to turn it on was "free". As such, the insane cooldown for a temporary passive makes it kind of inefficient for a class that needs defense more often than most.
Napalm-X: It panics organics and disorients mechanical units if you take Phosphorus. Or so I've heard. This ability actually activates so rarely I don't think I've ever gotten a mech to disorient. I appreciate something that improves the reliability of the disable, but in my experience it just doesn't seem to activate very often.

Concussion Rocket: So this ability is indeed very "powerful", but of course suffers from intense reliability issues as well as from the drawback of smoking your targets. If you are able to stun all your targets, the benefits of being able to safely flank and acquire range bonuses more than counteracts the smoke, however that's a big if. Luckily it appears that this was buffed enough to where it can reliably disorient almost all enemies, and stun >50% of the time early game, making it a somewhat weaker sting grenade. The damage is also a nice bonus, but it seems as if none of the effects apply to mechs. This ability has powerful synergies when paired with Javelin Rockets/Coup de Grace or any other forms of guaranteed AOE damage, including simply following up with flame. And, hey it's another "rocket", so that's much better than nothing.

Burnout: Compared to Fortify, this ability does come with a suite of advantages. First of all, it negates crits even when you're flanked, secondly it can be used to cover nearby allies as well. Lastly, the drawback, that it can't be used at any time, is mostly mitigated by the fact that you'll most want smoke when closing in to flame anyway. Unfortunately, this ability seems to be quite buggy for me, as much of the time the technical does not actually receive the smoke buff until they move. If you're going to take this it's more reliable if you are willing to save and reload to force it to activate.

Tandem Warheads: Improves the reliability of your rockets, particularly when you're trying to hit larger pods as the game progresses, and also mitigates the drawbacks of rocket scatter. Works on grenades too, which might be useful.
Javelin Rockets: You can use this to snipe pods with a scout, meaning you can set up a favorable engagements on multiple pods rather than just on the first one. On untimed missions, you can even try to scout around and use this on the most threatening pod. Just, really, really good. It even makes Concussion Rocket a more appealing option, as stun and disorient are especially powerful on exposed enemies.

Fire and Steel: I've always passed over this due to the power spike of the other TSgt perks, but thinking on it objectively it's not really that weak. +1 damage is not bad on such large groups, and the +1 damage also applies on the DOT from fire, making it even more threatening.
Incinerator: Still, the ability to snipe with rockets, or to make even more devastating flamethrower ambushes that eat up whole pods, or even allow you to use the flamer more safely in open combat just seems too juicy to pass up. Hitting even 1 more enemy than you normally would have without this ability is just insane.

Salvo: Interesting ability, as you wouldn't often use your second action to rocket, what would you use it for? It might help to toss more grenades if you have them or can be a good synergy with airdrop, but when it's competing against Quickburn, you likely want something more oomph. One of the best uses of this ability is if you pair it with Rapid Fire at MSgt.
Tac Sense: +15 defense, maximum. Useful if you're planning on stacking defense, and it has some synergy with fire since you can leave disabled enemies in sight, but Quickburn also is extremely powerful for keeping you and your squad safe.

Quickburn: Really nice, even for a rocketeer. While it isn't quite as aggressive as Run and Gun, it is more safe since you can retreat or hunker after taking the offensive action, as such this has wonderful defensive applications, as well as offensive, where you can simply choose to flame or gun down any stragglers from your fire spray. One of the less obvious applications is that you can freely choose to burn foes from any angle and retreat instead of being forced to flame from potentially awkward cover. This can prevent you from activating pods, allow you to catch more enemies in a perfectly fine-tuned flame pattern, or even increase your effective range by using exposed cover to take advantage of the step-out mechanic.

Rapid Fire: The other MSgt perks are spectacular, no doubt, but this can also be an interesting alternative perk topper to extend your longevity in fights, and can be particularly explosive if paired with Salvo for an immediate burst of power. This wouldn't require much investment on your part, so you can make a very well-rounded technical at an efficient cost if that's your thing.