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Yesterday I encountered my first Sectopod in my Enemy Within Normal/Ironman playthrough. I was overconfident due to pre-expansion experience with them, and did not focus my entire squad on it. It nearly gave me my first casualty in months.

I know they have more HP and reduced incoming damage, but what other changes have been made? (and also, how much health do they have so I know what to dread in classic)

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    Probably the biggest change is that Heav's HEAT ammo only gives a 50% bonus now. – Raven Dreamer Nov 25 '13 at 21:02
  • Still worth getting though. – legacy Nov 25 '13 at 21:58
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    Indeed. The're prett good against Mechtoids also – Raven Dreamer Nov 25 '13 at 22:01
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    Are you sure that HEAT works against Mechtoids? I thought I tried it out near the start of the game... but maybe my Heavy hadn't levelled enough. – Flyto Nov 26 '13 at 8:41
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To the best of my knowledge there are only two changes to sectopods, although these are significant:

  • They take half damage, i.e. effectively they have double their previous health
  • Like other enemies that do not use cover, they can enter Overwatch on the "free" turn when they are discovered.

However, some changes to XCOM abilities make them more difficult targets:

  • The heavy's HEAT ammo now only grants a 50% bonus against robotic enemies (previously 100%)
  • The sniper's Squad Sight shots can no longer crit (which used to be rather frequent with Improved SCOPE against an enemy out of cover)

So the Sectopod has (effectively) more health, and XCOM's solidiers can put out less damage. On the other hand, there are a couple of new abilities that can help:

  • The MEC's Electro Pulse will reliably stun sectopods for a turn, and probably kill any accompanying drones. An extra turn of the enemy not shooting back can often make up for the reduced damage that it takes
  • A well-positioned Assault with Close & Personal can now get in three shots from an Alloy Cannon in a turn. While this can't kill a sectopod by itself, it can make a very large dent in its health!

There may also have been changes in the AI - anecdotally, it seems that sectopods are more willing to move than they used to be - but there's no way to be sure of this.

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    MECs are excellent against Sectopods if you can close to melee range in 1 half-turn with them. Close+pulse, then double kinetic whatever strikes for 18 damage. – kotekzot Nov 26 '13 at 9:26
  • its amazing how often my sniper used to crit, that squad site no crit thing is huge :( – l I Nov 26 '13 at 12:20
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    It's balanced, honestly. Snipers were the main source of damage in most games before the expansion. Usually, I took three Squad-sight snipers and one or two assaults and just mowed down whatever was there. I think MEC units and gene-mod really makes up for the changes. And the tweaks to make assaults more badass. – CrystalBlue Nov 26 '13 at 12:24
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    @spartacus hmm, y'know, I never thought of trying that! Now that snap shot is better and squad sight is worse, I'll definitely have to give it a go. – Flyto Nov 27 '13 at 10:03
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    Note there's one extra subtlety to the way Sectopods now take half damage: it means Drone healing effectively counts double, as when a Drone heals it for 3HP, it'd take 6 damage to undo the effect of that heal. – AlexC Apr 30 '14 at 12:36
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Well, one change that hasn't been mentioned (and this may be a glitch, I don't honestly know), is that sectopods can see units that are invisible (invisible due to the gene mod, at least). They can't hit the units with the cannon, but they can use their mortar weapon to fire at the invisible unit.

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    as in they will target a unit that is invisible alone? or where they just in the area where others were standing when the shot was fired? – legacy Jan 23 '14 at 20:56

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