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I've reached July and have a capable squad of about 8 senior soldiers. As the missions get harder, however, I realize I need to have other trained personnel ready, and so I'm bringing Rookies along on some of the easier missions (I realize I probably should have rotated them more earlier in the game!)

My main soldiers are all equipped with Carapace Armor at this point, and I'm just starting to move from Laser Weapons to Light Plasma. Is it worth equipping the Rookies I bring into missions with better armour and weapons than their starting gear, given how weak and inaccurate they are?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yes, it's worth it.

a. If you don't put armor on them, they will die, so even if a rookie gets kills and is promoted, they won't help you dead.

b. To get promotions, a soldier needs to get kills, if they have lousy weapons that don't do any damage they are less likely to get the kills, also, because of this, when possible you should prefer to let the least experienced member of the team to get the kills, at least until they get a promotion (shown by a plus on their rank during combat).

c. The upgraded gear will do you no good laying at the base with your uber-soldiers, and even if they die, you will still get the gear back (as long as you don't fail the mission).

d. Light Plasma rifles and scopes give aim bonus (+10 each) to the soldier, which will make the mission as well as ranking them up easier. (Credit to Shadur)

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d) Light Plasma rifles have an inherent aim bonus which will offset their lousy aim. –  Shadur Mar 6 at 8:03
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also grenades are a great way to get kills. I even use grenades on squaddie snipers before they learn snapshot or squadsight. –  z ' Mar 6 at 12:46
    
@z- The only problem with that, is that you only get the corpse of enemies that you explode. It's another judgement call. Do we need the rookie to rank up that badly, or do I need those materials (weapon and armor fragments) to build better gear for my troops? Keep in mind that the rookies do get a small amount of experience just for being on the mission. –  NanoCarp Mar 6 at 16:15

Yes - there's (almost) no downside to fully equipping your squad before embarking on a mission. Assuming you have enough armor and weapons to equip your higher ranked soldiers first, you should use the remainder of your gear on your rookies.

The only situations where this is not the case are if:

1) You are using the Second Wave option 'Total Loss' (causing a soldier's equipment to be destroyed upon death)

2) This should not apply, assuming you are only playing the base game (at the time of writing, there is only an Enemy Unknown tag), but just in case (spoiler for Enemy Within):

Leaving rookies equipped with your best gear will make the base defense mission much tougher.

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To add to the other answers, which are excellent:

The only reason that you might not fully equip your rookies is if you are short of money or resources and can only make a limited quantity of your best gear. In this case you will have to make a decision on (for example) whose survivability you increase: the rookies, who are more likely to die, or the high-ranking squad members whose death would be a bigger loss.

Personally, if I can't afford good armour for everybody I tend to give it to the high-ranking soldiers and put Chitin Plating on rookies. Similarly, I give good weapons to the experienced soldiers as they are more likely to hit, let the rookies get their kills with grenades (exception: Light plasma rifles, for the +aim bonus).

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