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“Jagged Alliance 2” Hints and Tips – Part 1

by on Feb.23, 2010, under PC Game Hints & Tips, PC Retro Gaming

Part 1: Character Development and Mercenary Profiles.

Read on to view an extensive range of disturbing mercernary psychological profiles.

Sir-Tech’s latest strategy game, Jagged Alliance 2 (JA2), in an impressive accomplishment combining character development and role-playing in a war-torn nation with a detailed tactical combat engine. While overall campaign strategy and tactical finesse may be the primary focus of most gamers, forming an effective initial mercenary unit and preparing for action is paramount to getting off to a good start. Let’s start out by taking a look at choosing your initial squad members.

Gun for hire
For your initial squad, you are looking to hire three or four cheap mercenaries to assist your alter ego (which we will be generating later) in retaking Arulco. Of the standard mercenary skills we are primarily interested in marksmanship, medical, and each mercenary’s experience level. Essentially we want to establish a foothold in Arulco by force of arms as quickly as possible. once you have settled into your newfound home you can begin hiring more specialist troops as required. Of the mercenaries available from A.I.M., I prefer to choose my team from Buns, Steroid, Fox, Hitman, Spider, Blood, Igor, or Barry. They each have a range of complimentary skills and abilities that will give you a very good chance of winning your first few engagements with a minimum of pain. It must be pointed out that although Steroid is a popular choice recommended to me by quite a handful of gamers, a lock-picker isn’t actually essential at the beginning of the game. There are several highly skilled characters that you can recruit (Dynamo and Maddog) who will fill that niche neatly later in the game. In any case, explosives and or a strong boot can open most of the locks you will encounter in the early stages of the game. A single medic is more than enough, so don’t hire both Fox and Spider.

The length of contract can vary according to available cash and/or perceived requirements; however, in most cases you will probably be happy to recruit each member for a one-week period. Always purchase equipment with any mercenaries you hire as Bobby Ray’s Guns and Things web site won’t go on-line until Drassen (or Meduna) is captured and you have an airfield to fly your equipment into. You may also note that for quite a while you will be relying mainly on team members packing pistols and other light arms. If you are keen to obtain more impressive weaponry early in the game, hire a suitably equipped mercenary for a single day; when his contract expires you get to keep all of his/her personal equipment. Note that ammunition supply might be an issue for a few days until Bobby Ray begins acquiring suitable supplies.

Keeping the mercenaries that you initially start with over the course of the game is actually more cost effective than switching and swapping on a regular basis. Although they will ask for more money as they improve in stature, they are still cheaper to hire than many comparable higher-level mercenaries are. Given that even low-level mercenaries with high Wisdom ratings learn at an accelerated rate, individuals such as Barry, Igor and MD are actually good long term investments that will pay off over time rather than in the short term. Finally, when you are finished with a mercenary, ensure that he’s fully healed up before returning him to A.I.M.; that way you get to retrieve your full medical deposit as well as increase the skills of any medics you have handy (the cost of using medical kits is minimal).

Psych Pro Inc.
Despite the tutorial’s recommendation that you generate your personalized mercenary first, I find that it’s actually easier to wait until after you see which members make up your initial squad. This allows you to cover any deficiencies you may have with your initial choices due to merc unavailability or cost overruns (click on the Personnel tab of your laptop to see the skills of each of your team members). Depending on how you answer the questions presented, your alter ego will acquire one exceptional or two specialized skills with which to make his/her fortune. With over a dozen skills to choose from you may wish to save the game before generating your character in case you end up with an unwanted mercenary with skills in needlepoint and muffin baking.

When you have answered the questionnaire and are ready to assign points there are a few things you should consider. It is probably a good idea to specialize in one or two basic skills and set the others to zero; while you won’t be able to ever improve them, other mercenaries can cover the deficiencies. Never feel the need to have evenly skilled individual mercs; the idea is to form a team of mercs whose strengths and weaknesses counterpoint each other. The other main observation is that wisdom ratings never improve. As such, it is obviously preferable to have a high initial wisdom with generated mercenaries to allow other statistics to improve more quickly. For example, if you were to put a large proportion of rating points into Leadership, Mechanical and Wisdom, you character would rapidly evolve into a highly skilled trainer/mechanic ideally suited for rear area deployments fixing equipment and raising militia. If your mercenary is going to be placed in a frontline role, high agility, dexterity, and marksmanship ratings are important to ensure that your character has high action point ratings and weapon accuracy. Don’t worry about health points too much; in future articles we’ll deal with how to avoid getting shot in the first place.

Mercenary profiles
Every merc can become a trained specialist given enough training and battlefield experience, but for those in a hurry the following guidelines may assist in making cost-effective decisions for your team member selection. Some animosities between characters have been noted, but there are unquestionably plenty more out there if you are lucky (or unfortunate) enough to discover them.

Barry. An interesting character similar to Steroid but sporting excellent explosive skills as well. A quick study and a great initial choice for a squad.

Blood. With his experience providing more “interrupts” than lesser mercs and his above average statistics, Blood is a useful starter in any squad. He doesn’t get on well with Cliff though, so an alternative medic may be required.

Bull. He’s bull headed, and very tough but lacks any other redeeming qualities. His skills in expert hand to hand combat might be impressive, but there is little need for them in most combat situations where a burst from a silenced MAC-10 will suffice. A cheap merc but not a very cost effective one.

Buns. A precision shooter and useful medic. Great for training other mercs; she has good marksmanship and is a quick learner to boot. Also rather adept at detecting trapped locks. A definite “must have” merc for your initial squad and a worthwhile long-term investment as well. She has a hearty dislike of Fox, but she’s definitely the preferred choice of the two lasses.

Buzz. A good choice for a line soldier during the middle and late portions of the campaign.

Cliff. A doctor that can sew up a sucking chest wound while providing covering fire for his comrades. For as long as you need a doctor on your team, he’s the man for the job.

Danny. Yet another two-handed medic. His low marksmanship and lack of supporting skills makes his initial value suspect, but his learning capacity can turn him into a lethal soldier of fortune given the right opportunities. If you do give him a chance, keep him at the cutting edge of your campaign and watch him improve dramatically.

Dr Q. Another medic who is quick on his feet and a fast learner. His low marksmanship is a limiting factor. Until he’s trained up, you are better off finding more efficient and cost-effective mercs more preferable to your squad’s needs.

Fidel. A skilled demolitions man with good accuracy but little else of note. It is unlikely that you will require extended use of his services.

Fox. Good medical skills and a two handed penchant for light weapons makes her a useful close up assaulter. Unfortunately her lack of initial marksmanship and a hatred of Steroid means that she’ll probably only make short cameo appearances from time to time.

Grizzly. A slow moving but strong individual. A useful merc if you have some spare cash and need the extra body but not one you will really want to nurture over the course of the campaign. His hatred of Dr Q is really only a minor problem as neither of these two chaps is really worth the angst.

Grunty. Exceedingly average is the best way to describe this felon. Apart from price, there is little going for this character initially and by the end game you’ll prefer the more proficient mercs you’ve groomed over the past few weeks.

Gus. The ultimate mercenary. Experienced, highly skilled, and handy with heavy weapons. His overall superiority in all mercenary aspects makes him the most cost-ineffective mercenary available. Unless you have money to burn, this merc isn’t worth paying through the nose for.

Hitman. Excellent skills in tossing things around and highly accurate. His initial experience level makes him a good interrupter/point-man during the early stages of the game.

Ice. A skilled mercenary with a knack for automatic weapons and very good accuracy. A.I.M. recommends that you don’t issue him anything more explosive than a 4th of July firecracker unless you wish to blow up half your squad.

Igor. An inexperienced merc with average skills but excellent learning potential. His mechanic skills are a considerable bonus and, with battlefield experience, his future in any squad should be assured.

Ivan. The ultimate weapons specialist. Give him a long-range weapon and watch the body count rise.

Len. A good militia trainer with average basic skills and useful with automatic weapons. A good buy during the mid and end games if he’s available.

Lynx. A brilliant sniper who dabbles with explosives and electrical goodies. Add night operational skills and you have an outstanding covert operative useful at providing overwatch for your squad.

Magic. A highly trained mechanic and lock-picker. A high end acquisition that is worth his stats in greenbacks.

Malice. Knife and hand to hand combat skills aren’t really vital in most combat situations and Malice’s low basic skills and learning ability limit his worth considerably. Useful if you have dollars to burn. As an aside, he’s also pretty keen on Spider.

MD. A soldier with excellent medical and learning skills. A useful static medic but considerable training and experience will be required before he can be placed in the firing line with his peers.

Meltdown. Good Marksmanship and an ambidextrous nature makes her a nifty assaulter and useful in confined combat situations. The heavy weapons skill will also pay off in the campaign end game. A good choice for the long haul.

Nails. A useful lock-picker with exceptional basic skills and stats. A useful mid-game mercenary.

Raider. Undoubtedly the best militia trainer available to date. Excellent stats and basic skills make him invaluable in the field as well.

Raven. Precision marksman with skills in automatic weapons and night operations. A useful albeit initially inexperienced general purpose trooper.

Reaper. A great assassin for rooftop work and with stealth and lock-pick skills he’s an excellent covert operative.

Red. An impressive demolition expert who provides an alternate method for passing locked doors. However, his teaching and electronics skills are of lesser value in the game. Given a good locksmith, you probably won’t be requiring his services that frequently. His dislike of Buns is another good reason to give him a miss.

Scope. A night specialist and sniper. Highly experienced and a valuable acquisition.

Scully. An expensive standard soldier with too many excellent skills. His knife throwing ability isn’t that practical either. Not recommended for miserly recruiters.

Shadow. Silent and deadly, Shadow makes for a great covert ops mercenary. If you’re into more overt and conventional operations, there are better choices available for your hard-earned dollars.

Sidney. Possesses excellent shot and useful supplementary medical skills. Probably not a mercenary that will grace your team for extended periods.

Spider. She’s a quick learning doctor with skills in night operations and stealthy movement. once Cambria Hospital has been captured her usefulness tends to diminish, as lesser doctors with better stats are usually sufficient to keep your mercs in top shape. Good in the short term but minimal long term utility. She also loathes Buns; given a choice, Buns is clearly superior!

Static. Brilliant mechanic and skilled with electronics to boot. An ideal rear-area repairman if your strategy requires him.

Stephen. An average merc who’s a quick study. once a specialty has been chosen for him, his skills will rise rapidly. If you plan to use him, hire him early and mold him into the style of mercenary you need.

Steroid. He’s big, slow moving, and speaks with a heavy accent. He’s also very accurate and a nifty lock-picker and mechanic. Highly recommended merc for initial squads with excellent long-term prospects.

Thor. A useful battlefield medic who also specializes in covert operations and militia training. A good cost-effective choice.

Trevor. Very inexperienced but a lightning quick learner. Outstanding basic skills and stats and a lock-picker/electronics expert extraordinaire. He’s expensive but worth every penny. Grab him in the mid-game to build up his experience for the end of the campaign.

Vicki. A two-fisted knife thrower with excellent mechanical skills. A good assaulter in close quarter combats.

Wolf. A useful jack-of-all-trades. His mechanic skills will also be of value to your team’s efficiency.

Next time around, we will investigate detailed tactical maneuvering and combat operations.

©1999 Strategy Plus, Inc. (reprinted with permission)

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