Long War 2 Beginner Tips: Read before starting your first X-COM 2 LW2 Campaign! (Havens, Resistance, Supplies, Intel, Liberation Missions and more)
The Long War 2 free mod (or expansion if you prefer) for XCOM 2 increases the time, complexity, and difficulty of the XCOM 2 campaign. While I feel its an amazing mod, one of my main issues with is that the overall world map mechanics are not explained well enough. This article will be a quick primer of the information that every player should know before starting up a Long War 2 campaign.
Before Starting Long War 2: Setup, Installation, Mods, Workshop
This article does assume that you have played the original X-COM 2 campaign and are fairly familiar with how X-COM 2 works in general. If you haven’t I would recommend playing through the original vanilla XCOM 2 campaign first.
Installing Long War 2 is thankfully much easier than the original Long War was. Simply go to the Steam Workshop, find the XCOM 2 section, then find the Long War 2 mod. Note that you do NOT want to download the mod pieces like the Long War 2 Alien Pack etc. Just click subscribe on the Long War 2 mod and then check your downloads tab to ensure it is also downloaded.
At this time you may also want to install some other mods that are compatible with Long War 2. I have written a separate article that sums up what mods you should really use and I have fully tested them with Long War 2 over dozens of hours. Read my recommended DayDull Recommended X-COM 2 Long War 2 Compatible Mod List Here.
Gathering Supplies at Resistance Havens
In Long War 2 you now gather supplies by recruiting members at resistance havens, then setting them to the “supply” task. Each day, the supplies gathered are added to your supply drop which occurs every 20 days.
When you look at a Haven in the world map you will see $X ($Y) next to the haven name. The first number ($X) is the amount of supplies you will generate at that haven per day with the current resistance member assignments. The second number is how many supplies it will generate by the next supply drop (or perhaps $Y is how much has been generated and “banked” so far this supply drop period? — I’m still a little unclear on this).
You can also get a small and unreliable amount of supplies from mission rewards or by selling corpses and loot in the Black Market like in the original vanilla game. Remember that corpses and loot drops are needed for some research and engineering projects though so don’t sell them all.
“Unknown Source” Stealing Supplies – Spies, Infiltrators
This is probably the most confusing aspect of the game, but is pretty important to understand. Some people consider revealing information about this to be a spoiler to the game, but in my opinion it is so vital to your campaign’s success that you should know about it before starting. At random when you recruit a new member at any Haven, it may be an infiltrator. Each day when your supplies are calculated, the game looks to see if you have any hidden infiltrators present. If so, a percentage of the supplies you earned will be siphoned away. You won’t know how many supplies you’ve lost to this mechanic until the Supply Drop happens and there’s no way to know which members are infiltrators on the Geoscape world map.
How to Stop Losing Supplies and How to Reveal Faceless Infiltrators in Long War 2 (Resistance Spies)
Once you see that you’ve lost supplies to an “Unknown Source” in the supply drop, you know you have a Faceless Infiltrator in one or more of your havens. Unfortunately there is no real way to know which haven(s) this is happening in. In order to reveal and eliminate this infiltrator you have to station a soldier as an Advisor in your haven(s). Generally you will want a soldier advisor there most of the time in the early game anyway, since they also speed up the “Recruit” task and help fight on certain missions. Higher ranking soldiers are better at revealing infiltrators. Higher ranking Officers are even better, and Psionic soldiers are the best at revealing infiltrators.
When a soldier advisor is stationed, there is a small chance they will generate a mission over time where you interrupt a spy rendevous with the Advent. It may take 1 week or 2 months etc. depending on random chance and the soldier rank. The popup will be red and the description will clearly state that you are interrupting a spy meeting. If you accept that mission, you go in with your Soldier Advisor and a few of the resistance members. Note you don’t get to change loadouts before launching the mission. The enemies in this mission usually consist of 2 groups of enemies. Each “pod” will have 3-4 advent troopers, officers, or faceless, plus there will be 1-2 enemies that turn from civilians into faceless. Those are the infiltrators that you are there to kill.
During the Early Game You NEED to Focus on Liberating a Region!
After two long Long War 2 ironman campaigns, the one biggest thing I can recommend is that you focus immediately on Liberating a region. Not only does this advance the story and reveal the end-of-game timer, but more importantly you really need that reliable source of supplies. The Advent Strength slowly increases as the game time progresses which will make it harder and harder to liberate regions.
Ideally you want to be well on your way, possibly done liberating a region in May or June according to the in-game calendar. If you get to September or October without liberating a region it might just be too late!
Assign Resistance Members to Intel and Recruit in the Early game, NOT Supply!
This is kind of a trap. Early in the game you think that you need supply to recruit soldiers and start upgrades and facility construction. However what you really want to do is focus on intel gathering until you liberate a region. Recruiting will help you recruit some additional resistance members so that they can also be assigned to intel. You will still be generating some supplies by selling corpses and other loot. Also until you get higher ranked soldiers, you will be unlikely to be able to reveal faceless infiltrators so your resistance members on supply will be generating less anyway.
How to Liberate a Region in Long War 2
This is another problem with the current state of Long War 2. The process to liberate a region is super unclear, but is vital to a successful campaign. Not only that, but you need to do it early on, but might not even know that you should be prioritizing it or even that its a possibility.
In order to liberate a region (for example South Africa or East Asia) you need to first set resistance members to the “intel” task. Flying the Avenger to the region then scanning adds extra intel gathering and assigning a scientist as the Haven Advisor also increases the effectiveness of resistance members on the intel task. With more intel gathering you will see increased amounts of available missions popping up in that region and the mission expiration timers will often be longer. The result from changes in intel assignments seems to generally be delayed by a couple of days. Once your first haven has about 6 or 7 members I would set them all to intel, set a Scientist advisor, and scan with the Avenger at that location until you start the liberation mission chain.
On the Geoscape / world map, at the start of the game, you will probably see “Find a Lead” as your objective listed in the upper left. This isn’t really explained and is really pretty confusing–I really think they should add some explanation somewhere to clarify how this works to new players. Regardless, when you have your resistance members searching for intel, eventually you will see a mission pop up with only Intel (not an intel package) listed as the reward and in the description of the mission it will mention a lead. If you complete the objective of that mission successfully, you should be able to start the Liberation mission chain. Again this is not clear and is not explained in game much, but that’s what this article is for! Finding and completing this mission should be your number one priority in any new Long War 2 campaign!
The Liberation Mission Chain – How to Recognize each Mission
Keep in mind that failing or ignoring mission 2 or 3 will “reset” your progress in the liberation mission chain for that region. For example, failing on Mission 3 will put your progress for liberating the region back to mission 1. However I believe once you reach Mission 4 and 5 your progress won’t be reset (needs verification.)
- Liberation mission 1: Hack an Objective (workstation etc) recover data cache etc (the reward will be ONLY Intel, not an intel package and no other reward and will mention a “lead” in the description – that is how you can identify a mission popup as the first liberation mission.) See the image below for an example of what to look for. Your squad starts this mission in concealment.
- Liberation Mission 2: Rescue a friendly VIP from a vehicle or jail – advent strength increased by +3 from baseline. No concealment on this mission.
- Liberation Mission 3: Destroy Relay or Kill/Capture enemy VIP advent strength increased by +3 from baseline. Note on the capture enemy VIP mission type there is a higher chance than usual that civilians will turn into Faceless enemies. REWARD: Intel and immediately after completing the mission it will reveal mission #4.
- Liberation Mission 4: Secure Network Tower – destroy network tower. Reinforcements will be called in during this mission so be ready. Tough mission. When I did this it was impossible to sneak past any enemies due to the patrol pattern and map layout. Reinforcements start coming in shortly after you are revealed as well. This mission allowed me to bring in a maximum of 5 soldiers and had no expiration (so you could infiltrate to 200%) REWARD: Location of Advent Regional HQ (reveals mission #5 immediately after completing this mission) and some Intel. Squad starts concealed.
- Liberation Mission 5: Final Mission: Assault Regional HQ – this will be a mission with many enemies and will be usually be very tough. Luckily you can take in a full squad of 8-10 soldiers if you want, and there is no expiration so you can infiltrate to 200%. Unfortunately enemy activity will likely be very high, possibly “Swarming.” There will also probably be a General (very strong officer/captain) defending a building at the far end of the map. Once you complete this, the region will be liberated permanently. Advent will no longer attack the haven there and you can safely recruit up to 13 members then set them all to supply for maximum supply generating. If you don’t liberate the region and try to generate a lot of supplies from it, eventually the aliens will attack it and there is almost no way to prevent them from killing at least 4-6 (or more) members each time that happens. Squad starts concealed on this mission.
How to Recruit New Resistance Members at Havens in Long War 2
To recruit new members, set one or more members at the haven to the “recruit” task. Assigning a soldier as an advisor increases the speed or chance that you will recruit new members. Doing this also gives you a small chance to have a new soldier available for recruit in the Armory. Higher ranking soldiers recruit new members faster.
If you happen to be unlucky and all of the resistance at a haven are wiped out during a mission, you can still recruit new members by stationing a soldier as an advisor. However this will probably take a while to get your first new resistance member, like 2-4 weeks.
How Infiltrating and Intel Gathering Works In Long War 2
When you set resistance members to gather intel, they contribute to finding missions, and finding them with more time left on the mission expiration timer. Generally you will only want to accept missions that you can reach at least 100% infiltration on with 4-6 soldiers. This means the mission timer needs to be about 5-6 days at least. The more intel gathering you are doing, the more likely it is you will reveal a mission when it still has a high timer.
Baseline enemy activity tells you how many enemies you will encounter if you infiltrate to 100% (your infiltration time must be lower than the mission expiration timer). You can always boost infiltration by 75% whenever you want at the cost of 25 intel. This can let you do vital missions that otherwise would be extremely risky or impossible.
- 6-9 enemies: Extremely Light
- 10-12 enemies: Very Light
- 13-15 enemies: Light
- 16-18 enemies: Light-Moderate
- 19-21 enemies: Moderate
- 22-24 enemies: Moderate-Heavy
- 25-27 enemies: Heavy
- 28-30 enemies: Very Heavy
- 30-32 enemies: Extremely Heavy
- 33+ enemies: Swarming
Only accept missions with Baseline Enemy Activity of Extremely Light or Very Light (In General)
This is a general concept, but generally only accept missions that you can infiltrate with 4-6 soldiers, reach 100% infiltration, and have a baseline enemy activity of Extremely Light or Very Light. There will definitely be times where you break or bend this rule, but for new players this is what you should keep in mind.
If you are able to reach 125% infiltration, enemy activity will decrease by one level from the list above (e.g. “Light” to “Very Light.”) At 150% infiltration, it decreases by two levels, and at 200% it maxes out at 3 levels decreased. In actual practice it was generally good if I could reach 100 or 125% infiltration, with Extremely Light or Very Light enemy activity, and 5 or 6 fully equipped soldiers. If it met those criteria I would consider doing the mission if the rewards were good.
Bookmark and Get Familiar with the Infiltration Calculator
This is another big issue I have with Long War 2. There’s no reason that it should be necessary to use a separate calculator in order to properly play and use strategy in the game, but as of right now this tool is vital. The infiltration calculator, made by xwynns allows you to plan during squad select so that you can hit the desired infiltration percentage. Without this there is no real way to plan what soldiers and equipment to bring if you plan to use intel to boost infiltration speed. Hopefully the LW2 devs will update the mod so this is not necessary.
Here’s the link to the Google Doc version of the infiltration calculator. As mentioned there, once loaded, you need to go to File > Make a copy then save it to your account so that you can edit it.
Covert Missions – Avoiding Combat Altogether
It is a totally viable strategy in Long War 2 to stealth through all, or almost all of SOME missions. Depending on the timer and enemy activity / strength, you may only realistically be able to infiltrate with 2-3 squad members in the time allowed before a mission expires. You can equip soldiers with SMGs so they can move farther. Bring a specialist so you can remotely hack or access the objective and be careful and avoid patrols. As mentioned above I think modifying the mission timers to add about 4 extra turns makes the game a lot more enjoyable. It helps give you the time needed to avoid patrols and do covert missions successfully.
Using this strategy its possible to successfully complete way more missions than you otherwise would be able to. Normally you have to commit a full squad of 5-8 soldiers for about one week in order to do a single mission. If you’re able to scrape through a mission with stealth you can complete many more.
Also important to know: in Long War 2, soldiers gain experience mostly by completing missions, NOT by getting kills. Kills do still grant some experience, but its much less than in the vanilla game. You also get an experience boost if you complete all objectives without any wounded soldiers. This allows you to get a huge experience boost in stealth missions without needing to kill any enemies.
You need to skip some (many) missions (often)!
Again this is not really explained in game. In previous XCOM games you generally took every mission that popped up unless things were going very badly for you. In Long War 2, you need to carefully consider if doing a mission is worth it to you. In the early game your number one priority needs to be finding and completing the liberation missions for at least one region. You should be able to safely de-prioritize and avoid missions with only soldier recruits as a reward. During the early game they will be low level recruits and you should be able to just recruit enough new soldiers from the Armory. Obviously try to avoid getting soldiers wounded as recovery times can easily be 20+ days. This means only taking the highest priority missions, at least until you liberate a region and have multiple squads and backup soldiers.
Rethink Playing on Ironman for your First LW2 Campaign and/or play on Rookie Difficulty
I love Ironman in the XCOM games. I played both of my main Long War 2 campaigns in Ironman on Veteran difficulty (no reloading and the game saves automatically). I definitely feel like in XCOM 2 Ironman mode helps you get really attached to your soldiers and makes missions very tense.
However Long War 2 is VERY LONG. Too long to waste time on a doomed campaign, and the way the game works you may not know you are in a doomed campaign until 50+ hours in. In my experience a campaign will probably run 50-80 hours. The worst part of it was during my first campaign I was still learning the Long War 2 mechanics and after about 50 hours in I got the game over screen with no warning! There was no countdown timer like in vanilla. I had been putting off doing the liberation missions (I didn’t realize their importance when I first played), but didn’t think things were going that badly. That’s a lot of wasted time and a hugely anti-climactic and disappointing ending.
Because of this, the first time you play Long War 2, I would recommend NOT playing on Ironman because you’re going to make mistakes due to just being unfamiliar with the new mechanics. There are also occasional bugs or even just mis-clicks that could lead to you failing occasional missions or losing some soldiers.
Based on my experience I would say you have until about late October or November in game before the game ends unless you complete some story objectives or counter Dark Events that set back the Avatar project timer.
Any corrections or comments are very welcome! I’ve spent a lot of time with X-COM 2, Long War 2, and the other X-COM games and I’ve also done a lot of research. However I’m sure I have more to learn and there are other players out there with differing or better strategies so I’d love to hear them! Post in the comments below and I’ll answer any questions you might have.