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Whenever I advance my front-line soldiers into new territory, there's a chance of discovering aliens there. I keep trying different movement order, but can never seem to decide:

  1. Should I advance them in the start of the turn, so my other soldiers have a chance to take actions against the aliens, or

  2. Should I advance them after my other soldiers have already acted and are on overwatch, to enable them to attack the aliens when they do their "we've spotted an enemy" movement?

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if i am not wrong when you discovered the aliens and they are moving, I don't think the overwatch ability is triggered. its only on their movement on their turns then the overwatch ability is triggered. –  jonleech Nov 6 '12 at 7:59
    
I'm not sure about that. I think I saw it happen that I already had a soldier in overwatch, switched to another one that discovered new aliens while moving, and the previous soldier's overwatch was triggered by the discovery/movement of the aliens. –  pleinolijf Nov 6 '12 at 8:55
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There's definitely an overwatch opportunity when discovering new aliens. –  Aubergine Nov 6 '12 at 9:49
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1 Answer

up vote 19 down vote accepted

It's almost always better to trigger new enemies at the very start than at the end:

  • Overwatch shots cannot crit and carry an aim penalty against regular shots, except for Snipers with the skill "Opportunist". This pretty much offsets the advantage of Overwatch shots being fired at enemies who are not in cover.
  • Overwatch shots have no advantage over regular shots, except for the double Overwatch chance on the Heavy class.
  • Overwatch shots are basic shots only - all classes have pretty strong special attacks or double attacks that can only be triggered during your turn.
  • If your other soldiers are in position to take an Overwatch shot, they are also able to take a regular shot from the same position, if desired.
  • Instead of shooting from the same position, they could first move into a better position and then take their shot.
  • They could also retreat completely if necessary.

Given all these disadvantages and almost total lack of advantages, ideally you would never put any of your soldiers into Overwatch except as the very last actions in any given turn, if and only if you are sure that none of your soldiers have triggered new enemies.

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to add on to this, if you haven't exposed any aliens and its down do your last guy, its almost always more beneficial to not expose any territory with that last guy. This way, even if an enemy wanders into range on their turn, all they can do is move and not attack. –  z ' Nov 6 '12 at 11:55
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Since most units have the same sight range as their attack range, usually only the unit triggering the enemy plus your snipers will have any chance of a reaction shot, unless their movement brings them into range of another unit. I like to have 2 snipers and give Opportunist to one of them, and that guy is the only one on overwatch while exploring. Once the sniper reaches Colonel though, double-tap might be better than being able to snipe an enemy caught in the open. –  Elbyron Nov 6 '12 at 17:34
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Your 4th point is inaccurate - an overwatch shot can be taken while the alien is en route to somewhere where my troops won't be able to shoot. But the rest of your points, especially the 1st, make a lot of sense, so thanks for the insights! –  Oak Nov 6 '12 at 20:33
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