ALL SUGGESTIONS AND CORRECTIONS ARE WELCOME. THE GOAL OF THIS THREAD IS TO BECOME "SEMI-OFFICIAL" AND USEFUL TO ALL NEWCOMERS
Hi! I wanted to sum up some of my findings for new players... or rather for new players that want to have more fun with the game, wish for more control and understanding, and have visited forums for that.
This message board already has a TON of very insightful, deep and thorough threads, with tables, character builds, calculations, discussions... I got most of my info from these fine people. But now I think a simple short article with tips for beginners would be useful too. Not everyone loves to do math or comb through forums piecing everything together. This guide has some math in it, but only the minimum possible amount (like 2+6+4 = 12).
What to do: have fun or be a grindy power-gamer?
Don't fret. You CAN make four rangers that are good in a fight AND cover almost all the skills, revealing all of the game's secrets and experiences for you. And you don't have to cripple your suspension of disbelief, strictly follow "perfect" character builds, play a certain way, artificially stretch the game or grind anything. You can make a "power-party" and play any way you like on any difficulty (of course, this guide implies that you generally like to explore and sidequest — after all, this is a guide to see everything).
Many people have limited time to play. I hope this guide will help them to think things through in advance, have less frustration with the game, and discover everything as it comes, not leave things untried "for the next playthrough", or put up with awkward characters to keep from restarting the game.
I'll try to be brief. Basically, it all comes down to efficient Attributes distribution.
What you need to know about Attributes (that isn't in the manual)
You might notice that every Attribute gives you small bonuses. Thing is, these bonuses matter much less than your primary specs: Combat Initiative and Action Points. So for now, don't pay attention to Coordination (COO) promising to make you a better shooter or Strength (STR) — to turn you into Conan the Barbarian. They won't.
How smart should your Rangers be?
Intelligence (INT) 4, 8 and 10 gives you give you 3, 4 and 5 skill points per level. Simply put, this means 3, 4 and 5 maxed out skills. Plan accordingly. Like "OK, this guy's a shooter, a demo man and a leader" - 3 skills; "This gal is shotgunner, lock and safe picker" - 3 skills. Repeat for each Ranger. Every one of them will be able to "dabble" in extra skills later. Try to go with 4 INT for everyone, maybe give ONE person 8 or 10. Believe me, it's enough.
What the hell is "Awareness"?
Awareness (AW) can be important, but it's not a priority in and of itself. All it does is raise your Combat Initiative (see below why it's good); but otherwise, it's just sitting there and hogging points. It's good to channel some extra, leftover points there — even if it lowers COO.
Why do you need Coordination? (And why you don't.)
Every 4 points in STR, Speed (SPD) and INT summed up give you 1 AP — an action point to move and shoot. This is tricky: it means you need to add these three up and divide: e.g. 2 + 6 + 4 = 12/4 = +3 AP. But wait... every 2 points in COO also give you +1 AP! Hold your horses: even though it seems that COO is a great deal, it's not really true.
It's much better to pick the needed attributes (INT, or SPD, or SPD+STR) and arrange them to fit character's "image" — that is, speedy, mighty, or smart. Then simply round the COO up to next even number (for a minimum of 2 — it's 1 extra AP for just 1 point).
I want to make a Casanova or a Gambler
The advice that many don't like (including me): dump Luck and Charisma — except for a single Charismatic Ranger.
Believe me, I'm all for role-playing. But these attributes really do not manifest in-game and in the plot! They don't change anything apart from little things in combat. This includes activities like persuading people and even gambling. I've struggled with myself to get rid of them (a party of luckless jerks?), but it's a good move, because it lets you create capable, fleshed-out, characterful Rangers.
NOTE: You still can add both Luck and Charisma if you like the idea of it. It's just a balancing act: every point you sink in them makes a Ranger a little less interesting in-game, and the return is just an idea that's only in your head. Also, there're party-wide Charisma checks for some companions - just look it up on this forum. I got the hardest one with 1-2-6-1 Charisma stats on my main Rangers, with the help of companions and collar trinkets only.
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Now what you do is try to flesh out your imagined Ranger, while keeping an eye on a single number: your Combat Initiative. If it is high (around 15), and the number of Action Points isn't awful (shoot for 8 or more), you're set for any difficulty.
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So why is Combat Initiative (CI) so good?
Because it gives you an edge to win every time. You get to go BEFORE enemies in combat, and you go MORE OFTEN. That's the way Wasteland 2 combat system works. With CI = 15, most of the times your Ranger does 2 whole turns for every enemy turn! Nice, isn't it?
This means that SPD is almost always better than STR (and a little better than AWA). It simultaneously gives you movement speed, APs and Combat Initiative. So even for a mighty basher, don't max STR. It's better to give him both decent STR and SPD. This is because melee fighters (as well as SMG and Shotgun wielders) need to get there RIGHT NOW. If they spend 2 turns to arrive, the fight is mostly over by then, and they feel silly. Later, you can compare your efficient guys to some of the melee and short-ranged companions: most of these guys will reach the enemies panting and wounded... when the smoke has already cleared.
This also means holding back on Strength. Only one of your Rangers needs STR more than 6. Everyone else will do fine with 4, 3 or even 2 STR. There are backpacks in the game, and companions, and inventory management; moreover, all vendors buy stuff off of you at the same prices. Later in the game, you can drop a point there to haul heavier weapons&armor, and take the Hoarder perk.
So don't concentrate on separate attributes, or even maxing your APs at all costs. Get your Rangers to 14-15 CI, and they will be TWICE as good as 10 CI guys! Even a 10 INT scientist egghead, or a weak, slow skillmonkey, provided with 15 CI and an appropriate weapon, are formidable fighters.
Neat trick: when tinkering with Attributes, you can sometimes find yourself with an extra point. Consider putting it into Coordination to get an odd number. That's because when you reach Level 10, you get an Attribute point! Add it to COO, and you get another Action Point just like that. The same goes for Combat Initiative — you can plan ahead to add a single point into Awareness, and raise the CI from 14 to 15, for example; just in time for the quicker and more dangerous enemies that might get the jump on you otherwise.
But I still want to make a Charismatic Ranger!
...And you should. You really should! But this is a tricky one. Raising Charisma (6 will do) makes a Ranger slightly weaker in his Attributes (for example, I had to sacrifice 1 AP for such Ranger, so he became a little sluggish for a rifleman with 7 AP). So, naturally, there's temptation to make him "the skill man" and "the Diplomat". DON'T DO IT.
Thing is, Charisma is useful only for one thing: Leadership. It DOESN'T affect conversation skills, so DON'T give them to Charisma guy. Others can sweet-talk and intimidate; his job is to invigorate for battle, and he must be INSIDE the battle to do it, to cover everyone with his "Leadership Bubble".
This means, preferably, someone in the middle (not a sniper out back, not a melee deep in front). Raise his Leadership skill to 10 (8 with +2 trinket) and he will give the WHOLE PARTY a +20% chance to hit (plus save companions' asses from rebelling and running in the line of fire to get shot). And his extra XP points from Charisma will let you max his weapon skill earlier, because he doesn't get the Leadership bonus himself.
Lastly, NEVER give Leadership to anyone else. Even a single point in it destroys all bonuses from any other Leaders.
Now, what about skills? Are there dump ones?
You see, if you divide skills by four Rangers, they can pretty much cover it all (if each one specializes in one weapon). Just remember that you don't need to max everything. It's FUN to max your main weapon skill quickly. It's great fun to max your 2-3 assigned skills, or try and max conversation skills.
But you don't need Barter at all. You don't need to max Outdoorsman, Weaponsmithing or Mech Repair. You can find skill books, and use them LATER, to save greatly on Skill Points (that's because the better your Skill, the more expensive it is to upgrade). And trinkets are diverse and plentiful.
With 7 people in your squad and little planning, you can reach every single skill you want easily — if you don't start trying everything at once. More in-depth info on skills here: viewtopic.php?f=40&t=14492
CONCLUSION & CHEAT SHEET
Everyone can win. You can have a believable role-playing party, with a smart guy and a charismatic guy, with varying weapons and strong skills, all perfectly able in battle and very useful outside of it. You can play with these rangers only, and not even take companions. You can use diplomacy, open all the loot boxes and solve all mysteries.
You just need to:
- (Optional) Spend an inordinate amount of time thinking of what kind of thing did this person do to get stuck with Rangers training unit, choosing a custom portrait and a favorite food / method of killing people. It doesn't let you proceed if you don't provide a name anyway. Could as well invent everything else! =)
- Tweak Attributes so everyone has decent CI (13-15), INT of 4 or more, and other attributes to taste;
- Make one charismatic guy who is NOT a skillmonkey and NOT "the smart one", and give him Leadership (think of him as a battle leader, a Sergeant type);
- Think through the skills or write them out on paper, divide them by rangers — 3 for each, with 1 weapon specialization (don't dilute them, focus on one weapon); high INT "genius" can take 5. This way, you don't even need a wimpy "skillmonkey";
- Go back to attributes and tweak Rangers a little to their chosen weapon and skills. For example, a melee could use a SPD boost and half-decent AP; SMG guy would like SPD too; Sniper doesn't need SPD or STR at all, but would love extra CI and APs from other Attributes.
- Choose a Quirk and then go back again: did it change the picture? Example: Brittle Bones gives your sniper 2 bonus AP. Now you can free up a whopping 4 Attribute points and make him a Genius or a CI monster, while still getting 1 bonus AP! Another example: Twitchy gives you a movement speed boost. Maybe you can sacrifice some speed to raise CI, or add strength? Or even make the bruiser a genius with 8 INT?
It seems like a lot of work just to get started. But you'll be glad you did. The game will not be hard or frustrating for you, and you will be able to do anything. Just stick to chosen skills, focus your guys, and there will be nothing that can stop you from having fun and exploring the world, even on the highest difficulty levels!
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PS: Of course, most people "would like to know more". Like, you know, in Starship Troopers. That was a parody of propaganda. So maybe you don't want to know more? Anyway, you can learn the very useful info on how the weapons progress in Director's Cut viewtopic.php?f=40&t=14051 (useful to know how many APs each Ranger really needs). And also what your potential companions are viewtopic.php?f=40&t=8733 (both full of spoilers, and useful to know who you can dump your unwanted skills onto, or, on the contrary, what insanely cool people you're gonna meet and fall in love with).