Getting Started

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Getting Started
Character Development
Classes and Skills
Mission Types
Final Mission (Spoiler!)

Preface and acknowledgements

This is the second edition of A comprehensive guide for playing Phoenix Point (or an attempt at one) that I first posted on the official Snapshot forum. A few fellow players were kind enough to read it, give comments and suggest improvements and corrections. As I was preparing this second edition at first I tried to directly quote and credit each contribution with a link to the post from where I took it, but it proved more difficult than I thought.

So, first of all, I want to thank individually all those who contributed to this guide (in alphabetical order and hoping I'm not missing anyone): conductiv, David123, MadSkunky, MichaelIgnotus, noStas, Unstable Voltage, Valygar, Yokes

Getting started.jpg

About the Phoenix Point Mentaculus

What is Mentaculus?

Mentaculus refers to a quasi metaphysical attempt to comprehensively capture the entirety of a subject so that the whole and any part of it may be perfectly understood.

While my colleagues at the University are pursuing what may appear as far nobler and worthier endeavors, I poured my efforts into this bottomless vessel of doubts and tribulations that is Phoenix Point, with the object of understanding it and making it understandable to others.

Why? Well, of course, such a thing as a Mentaculus is by definition the work of a madman, and perhaps that alone should provide sufficient explanation.

But as terrifying as it might be, and as much as it may lead me to be the object of scorn and ridicule by my colleagues and peers, I dare say that behind the admittedly crude and clumsy portrayal of The Ones Who Came Before Us may lie some greater truth about our future as a species and the trials that await us.

Dr. Voland Kandinsky

Miskatonic University, Akrham, MA

November 23, 2020.

How to use the Mentaculus

Any way you like, of course. I have attempted to avoid story spoilers in the Mentaculus itself, and whether a link takes to you another part of the wiki that contains spoilers hopefully there should be ample warning.

Please be aware that the work of compiling the Mentaculus is never over and you will run into outdated bits or contents that could use some improvement. You will probably also run into errors and typos of all kinds. Please feel free to let me know: I started a thread on the Snapshot forum, and you can also tag me on Discord (Voland#9494).

I have used some formatting conventions on the assumption that they will make reading easier:

Verified facts, rules, or formula are written in this code format

Defined Items (Anchors) Are in Caps, Underlined and in Bold

Tangent commentary and proper names, such the Phoenix Point, or Manticore 1, are written in italics

Instructions or advice regarding user interface is written in green

Something important or unexpected is in bold

Differences between the difficulty levels explained

There are 3 fundamental differences between each difficulty level:

1) Conditions on starting a new game (starting resources, recruits and equipment)

2) Acquisition of recruits and rate at which they improve (initial stats and equipment, skill points awarded per mission)

3) Enemy capabilities and behavior (strength on tactical missions, speed at which Pandorans evolve and frequency of Pandoran attacks on the Geoscape, which also sets the speed of the Doomsday Clock)

In broad terms you should be aware that

- Experienced TBS players that play Phoenix Point for the first time usually find that Veteran provides an adequate challenge. If you play Firaxis Xcoms on the third difficulty level (Classic/Commander) you should probably start Phoenix Point on Veteran, and if you find it too hard try on Rookie. Phoenix Point is a complex game, with many game systems. It can take you some time to master them.

- The difficulty curve in Phoenix Point is such that the game is easy at the beginning and progressively gets harder (though some optimal decision making and grinding can allow you to reverse this curve towards midgame making the late game very easy); if you are finding the first missions too hard, you should probably restart at an easier difficulty level.

- The hardest difficulty setting (Legend) assumes that the players are not only familiar with the game mechanics, but also have some meta knowledge of the game that will allow them to take some optimal decisions or that they will know how to live with the consequences of not doing so.

- Players who are already familiar with the game but prefer less pressure from the Doomsday Clock or want to take their time finishing the game often choose the third difficulty setting (Hero).

Conditions on starting a new game

Difficulty Starting resources Starting recruits Starting equipment Lose on HPC
Rookie: Tech 200 Materials 800 Food 400 Assault Assault 3 Sniper training.png Sniper 2 Heavy training.png Heavy 1 Medkit.png Medkits 10 Odin grenade t.png Odin Grenades 10 <5
Veteran: Tech 150 Materials 600 Food 300 Assault Assault 3 Sniper training.png Sniper 1 Heavy training.png Heavy 1 Medkit.png Medkits 6 Odin grenade t.png Odin Grenades 6 <10
Hero: Tech 100 Materials 500 Food 200 Assault Assault 2 Sniper training.png Sniper 1 Heavy training.png Heavy 1 Medkit.png Medkits 5 Odin grenade t.png Odin Grenades 5 <15
Legend: Tech 80 Materials 400 Food 200 Assault Assault 2 Sniper training.png Sniper 1 Heavy training.png Heavy 1 Medkit.png Medkits 2 Odin grenade t.png Odin Grenades 2 <20

Acquisition of recruits and rate at which they improve

Difficulty Initial stats of recruits from base (of LVL1recruits from havens) Cost SPs per mission
Strength Willpower Speed
Rookie: 22(24) 9 (13) 14 Recruit, weapons and armor with 20% discount 12
Veteran: 20(22) 8 (12) 14 Recruit, weapons and armor, regular cost 10
Hero: 18 (20) 7 (11) 14 Recruit and armor, with +10% markup 8
Legend: 14 (16) 6 (10) 14 Recruit, no weapons, no armor, with +20% markup 5

On Rookie and Veteran you don't pay for the ammo already loaded in the recruit's weapon(s)

On Rookie recruits come with a Medkit medkit and 2 mags of ammo, which you acquire at 20% discount

Note that since Ambrose stats of recruits from base different from lvl1 recruits from havens: recruits from havens have +2 strength and + 4 Willpower

Since Hypnos (October 2021), there is a chance to get one of the surviving haven defenders after a haven defense mission. The chance is highest on Rookie and lowest on Legend

Enemy capabilities and behavior

  1. The speed of Pandoran Evolution is lowest on Rookie and highest on Legend.
  2. There are more enemies and they are stronger on higher difficulty levels. This is true for both enemies deployed at the start of the mission and for the enemy reinforcements.
  3. There are more advanced enemy types on special missions on Legend, particularly in the first introductory missions given by each faction.
  4. The number of Pandoran structures that can exist on the Geoscape at that same time is lowest on Rookie and highest on Legend
  5. Pandorans attack havens more frequently on higher difficulty levels.

However, the enemies on all difficulty levels are the same: they have the same stats, mutations and abilities, and the same AI

A curious exception to the above are human enemies, which have the same stats as recruits from havens, and because recruits from havens have higher stats on lower difficulty levels, human enemies on Legend have lower stats than those of the same level on Rookie

Also, RNG is not adjusted for difficulty: you have the same chance to hit and of being hit on Rookie and on Legend, and the same chances with Exploration Events

Baby steps on the Geoscape

If you are playing for the first time, you should definitely start with the new Tutorial that comes with Polaris and Year One Edition update.

If you start the game without the Tutorial (or after you complete it), you will see your base, Phoenix Point, and a couple of nearby Points of Interest (POI) marked with Unexplored POI.png signs. You can travel to these POI with your aircraft (the Manticore 1) to explore them, which can result in any of the following:

- A haven of one of the factions (Anu.png Anu, NJ.png New Jericho or Synedrion.png Synedrion), and, when you meet a faction for the first time, it will give you its starting quest, which you can choose to do later (see Diplomacy for tips on how to handle factions), or Independent haven site.png an independent haven that gives a side quest (see Independent Haven missions, with spoilers!).

- An Exploration Event: a short text adventure that yields resources, adjusts the attitude of one faction towards another, damages the aircraft or the operatives in it, allows to recruit additional operatives, or does nothing at all, etc. (see Exploration Events for a complete list, with spoilers!).

You can also get text adventures or mini-quests at havens when you visit them for the first time (Haven Events) (see here all Anu.png haven events, NJ.png haven events and Synedrion.png haven events, warning, contains spoilers!) .

- A scavenging mission (you can choose to do it later)

- An ambush; you can't choose to do it later, nor prepare your troops adjusting their equipment, spending excess Skill Points, etc. The ambush missions work as a deterrent, to prevent exploring the map using an aircraft with, for example, only one untrained and unarmed soldier.

If the POI turns out to be a haven, it will reveal any POI within its operating range (it will also reveal distant havens of the same faction if their operating ranges intersect). Your base also has a Satellite Uplink that will automatically scan the surroundings in search of POI. The scanned area is that green, expanding circle.

At first faction havens appear on the Geoscape only showing the faction shield, but once you research haven trade protocols and haven recruitment protocols you will see something like this:

A =new Jericho New Jericho Haven
Example NJ Haven.jpg
this Example HavenRecruit Geoscape.jpg means that there is an Assault training.png Assault soldier available for recruitment at the haven
This Materials.png means that the haven produces and trades this resource

To trade resources or recruit soldiers you need to travel to the haven with an aircraft (can be empty).

You can’t travel anywhere you want on the globe - you can only travel to a POI that is within the range of your aircraft. This means that you fly around the planet in baby steps, or following a chain of POI. Eventually (sometimes quite soon) you will want to get to far away POI to do Special Missions (marked with this sign Special mission site.jpg for both main and optional missions, and with different hues for the faction diplomacy missions) that you are given over the course of the game and which you need to complete to advance in your path to victory, or to get something nice.

You want to discover as many POI as fast as possible to increase the reach of your aircrafts. Explore new POI and do scavenging missions whenever you can to gain resources, recruits or vehicles and combat experience for your operatives.

So, send your Manticore 1 out to explore, but first click on the flashing 'Research' tab and start researching, and then on the 'Personnel' tab to equip your operatives: have all your operatives carry a Medkit medkit, extra ammo and a Odin Grenade grenade (you can also equip your troops in mid-flight, or right before starting a mission, except in the case of ambushes and base defense).

First blood

To reduce the size of the user interface in tactical combat, uncheck in the GAMEPLAY tab in OPTIONS "SHOW DETAILED EQUIPMENT INFO IN BATTLE"

Chances are, your first mission will be either the introductory mission of a faction (which will offer it to you the first time you discover one of their havens) or a scavenging op (this one for sure if you are playing the Tutorial). If you are playing on Legend, you will want to avoid doing the first Synedrion.png Synedrion and NJ.png New Jericho missions because they are too hard for your initial team of rookies.

You might also want to postpone them (especially the NJ.png mission) if you are playing on a lower difficulty level. The Anu.png mission is easy enough (it does have a Poisonworm poisonworm shooting Chiron Chiron on Legend, but if you are skilled enough to be playing on Legend you should have no trouble dealing with it) and so are the scavenging ops.

Tactical combat is covered in detail here, but for now it's largely unnecessary: the first Pandorans you will face are melee only with little to no armor (Arthron Arthrons and Strangler Triton Stranglers). They are easy to take care of, provided you don't let them get close where they can do quite a bit of mischief. You want to either take care of them on your turn before they reach you, or use short range overwatch to dispatch them as they approach you.

After every tactical mission your squad receives experience points (XP) that are divided among the team members based on their individual performance during the op and each of them also receives a fixed number of Skill Points (SP), depending on the difficulty level (12 on Rookie, 10 on Veteran, 8 on Hero and 5 on Legendary).

XP (required for leveling up to gain access to new skills) and SP (used to improve attributes and acquire new skills]) are covered in detail in the Character Development section, but for now the big takeaway is that the total amount of XP depends on the type of mission and performance of the squad as a whole, while their distribution among the team members depends on individual performance (mostly enemies killed, but also damage dealt, HP healed and some other factors), which means that you don’t get more XP for slaying more enemies.

After each mission your operatives will heal any disabled body parts, but will not recover lost HP. However, these can be permanently healed by using a Medkit.png Medkit, which means that it's not really necessary to go to base to heal there.

'You have to return to base eventually because of Stamina':

Each operative starts with 40 Stamina, and loses 1 point per turn up to a maximum of 10 on a tactical mission. Once Stamina decreases to 10, the operative is Tired.png tired and has only 3 AP instead of 4 to spend each turn. If Stamina goes to 0, he is Exhausted.png exhausted and has only 2 AP. You recover Stamina at a base with a Living Quarters at a rate of 2 per hour per facility.

In short: you don't want to do any missions with operatives who have 10 stamina or less. You will get a warning before deployment informing you that some of the operatives are Tired.png tired or Exhausted.png exhausted, but if you want to save yourself the trip to the mission, check the stamina of your operatives in the 'Personnel' tab every once in a while.

Combat basics

Shoot and move.gif

Moving and actions

Your operatives can do actions in any order as long as they have Action Points (AP) remaining, and they can spend part of an AP on moving, then take another action (like shooting) and then spend the remainder of that first AP on further movement. So you can do things like move forward to approach an enemy, shoot, and then run back, or move into cover to break Line of Sight (LoS) with the enemy.

Aiming and projected damage

Maps are small. You will often start with some of the enemies already detected and within Line of Sight. Target them with different weapons (you will have Ares AR-1 Ares Ar-1, Cypher HG Cypher HG, Firebird SR Firebird SR and Tyr-1 Autocannon Tyr-1 Autocannon). Play around with the aiming reticle. Convince yourself that zooming doesn’t alter the size of the reticle. (For detailed explanation on how aiming works, see Accuracy).

So, the first thing you should notice is that most weapons are out of range of the enemies that you can see at the start of the mission: if the inside circle of the aiming reticle is not covering fully the target, you have less than 50% chance of hitting it, and the empty spaces that the target might have, count (for example, Arthron icon.png Arthrons are thin, and even when you have them completely covered by the aiming reticle there is a high chance that the shot will miss). Usually, you don’t want to take that shot.

Another thing you should notice is that targets are constantly changing their position, so their exposure changes. This is because all the characters are performing the ‘idle’ animations all the time and selecting the 'SHOOT' button or the 'FREE AIM' button at the right moment can enable you to take a better shot.

The Ares AR-1 Ares AR-1 fires 6 bullets that do 30 damage each and the egg is a single body part with no armor with 160 HP. You can see how the 6 white < wedges - each representing a bullet fired in the burst - cover the whole of its health bar and, as the whole of the aiming reticle covers the egg, a single burst from the Ares AR-1 will destroy it, thus the flashing skull and crossbones
In this case the Arthron another red.png has body parts with 0 and 10 armor strength, and the aiming reticle, though centered on the leg, covers other body parts and empty space. Thus, the projected damage shows a range 20 - 30 x 6 shots (each bullet from the Ares AR-1 will do either 20 or 30 damage, depending on what body part is hit) and there is no flashing skull and crossbones because some shots might miss the target entirely.

Look at what happens to the health bar of the targeted enemy as you move the aiming reticle around it. You will see that part of the red bar will be filling with white < wedges. The part of the red bar covered by the wedges and the size of the < wedges can change as you move the aiming reticle: each wedge represents the damage that can be dealt to the target with each shot taking into account the armor of the target at the spot where you are aiming. The more white you see, the higher the damage potential of the attack.

A flashing red skull & crossbones next to the HP bar indicates that the attack is certain to kill the target. You will see a similar HP bar next to a targeted body part and a card detailing what will happen if the body part is disabled. (For detailed explanation on how damage works, see Damage).

Because the aiming reticle usually covers more than the target, and more than one body part of the target, and body parts have different armor strength, Phoenix Point runs a Monte Carlo simulation on the current shot and the projected HP is an average of the results

Know your enemy

If you hover the pointer over an enemy you will see its basic Stats, like Hit Points (HP), Willpoints (WPs) (for more info on what are these, see Willpoints (WP) in the Combat section; for now think of them as both morale and mana for using special abilities) and Movement (in tiles).

Enemy info.gif

You can left click on an enemy and then left click on info, and see everything there is to know about it, as if it was one of your own troops. By hovering over its weapons you can see how Damage they can do (for more information on how to read this data, see About weapons)


You can use excess AP to set up overwatch to shoot at enemies during their turn. For detailed explanation and tips on how to set up effective overwatch, see here, but the basics are:

- Overwatch will be triggered by any enemy that steps into the overwatch cone that you set up (if it is within the Perception range of your operative after taking into account the stealth modifiers, but you don't have to worry about this for now)

- When setting up overwatch you can press CTRL and use the middle mouse button to adjust the height and base of the cone to choose exactly the area you want to be covered The max length of the base depends on the type of weapon

- Avoid painting the Overwatch cone over cover and obstacles; it is very likely that the enemy might be behind it when the Overwatch triggers and you will throw away your shot


The nuances of cover in Phoenix Point are dealt with in detail here, but for now just do not overestimate it, especially if you are coming from cover-centric games like Firaxis XComs. In Phoenix Point cover only protects you if it's actually in the way of a projectile. There are no penalties (like critical hits) for being outside of cover and no bonuses to defense for staying in cover. Your best defense is to neutralise the enemy before it can attack you, and your second best defense is to keep out of its Line of Sight and a long way away.

Things to be aware of when doing scavenging missions

- On missions where one of the objectives is to evac (notably scavenging missions and ambushes) any items left on the ground will be lost. If you want to take something with you, one of your operatives must pick it up and evac with it!

- Approaching blue crates (which you will find in the scavenging missions) opens them and grants 5 WP to the operative (for more info on what these are, you can check the Willpoints (WP) in the Tactical Combat section; for now think of them as both morale and mana for using special abilities - at first you will only spend them when using your Heavy heavy's Jet Jump jet jump (which costs 2WP and 3AP). Note that to transfer items from the crate to the inventory of the soldier you need to spend 1 AP.

This is where Ready for Action ready for action comes in very handy, as it allows transferring items from the crate to the inventory of the operative, or of another operative in an adjacent tile at no AP cost

- On rescue scavenging missions you have to approach neutral soldiers to gain control of them and then evac them with your operatives. There are different setups for these missions, but most of them are designed so that unless you are very aggressive and run as fast as possible to the rescue, most of the neutrals will get killed before you reach them.

- Enemy reinforcements will continue to arrive until your evac. They will be small in number and perfectly manageable, provided you brought enough ammo.

- There are Mist Sentinels Mist Sentinels (pillars of living matter) that will auto-spawn Pandoran mist every turn. Mist is bad for you, good for Pandorans: any 1pp.png operative starting the turn inside it will lose 2 WP and Pandorans gain 1 WP and are more difficult to spot; just don't go inside and be careful around it because there might be enemies lurking about. If for some reason you absolutely must get rid of the mist (for example, if there is an enemy inside and you can't spot it), you can use Odin Grenade Odin grenades to clear it up (any weapon that deals Blast Damage Blast Damage will do, including all kinds of grenades, missiles and spider drones).

Understanding the goals of the Phoenix Project and the Doomsday Clock (aka Human Population Census, or HPC)

One of the first technologies that you will research is the Human Population Census. At that point a white bar will appear in the top right hand corner of the screen in the Geoscape view and a percentage, which will start at around 99% and immediately start to decrease. If it goes below a certain threshold (depending on difficulty level, 5%, 10%, 15% or 20%), you lose.

The aim of the game is to defeat the Pandoravirus and save Humanity before the human population, represented by the Human Population Census (HPC), drops below a certain level.

Here is the first confusing part: what makes the HPC decline and is there a way of slowing it, or stopping it altogether?

In fact, what actually makes the HPC drop like a ship from Heaven in the first weeks is not the Pandoravirus, but... overpopulation. Many havens start with populations that they cannot support with their existing food supplies. There is nothing you can do about that.

The other major source of population loss is the destruction of havens, mostly by the Pandorans. You can do something about that, as you can intervene in any attack on a haven on the side of the defenders and stop it.

However, your goal is not to protect the havens indefinitely. You can't stop the Doomsday Clock; you have to beat the game before it runs out.

It's important to keep this in mind, because although you will want to defend havens to get rewards and to discover Pandoran bases, you should be prepared to let entire areas of the world go if defending them is not worth the time and resources.

To win you want:

- Resources to manufacture items, activate bases and construct facilities

- Many experienced operatives on several aircrafts to complete as many tactical missions as possible

- Research to improve your tactical and strategic capabilities and to ultimately uncover the mysteries of the Pandoravirus and how to defeat it

About RNG on the Geoscape and how it can impact the starting game

East Asia is a good starting position: a big landmass full of POI

A fairly common complaint (from other game players) is that there is too much 'dice rolling' on the Geoscape; start the game anew and you get a different start location (and no one wants Central or South America, because there is less landmass to generate POI) and havens are spread around differently. Reload the game, and you will get a different outcome from an exploration, different recruits available at the base and from the havens. Particularly, the way diplomatic missions can spawn on the other side of the world in some unreachable spot can be very upsetting to some players.

There is no question that RNG can limit your choices, particularly in the early game. If all you come across are Anu.png Anu havens and you want to ally with NJ.png New Jericho... it's a bummer.

Personally, this is something I find enjoyable because 1) it helps to make each playthrough different and 2) I have never had a situation where this RNG made me lose the game. Honestly, I don't find starting in South or Central America much of a disadvantage; activating the first couple of bases is cheap. As to the random outcome of explorations, good opportunities can be made of any scavenging ops: vehicles are very powerful in the early game, recruits are always needed and so are resources. If your aircrafts are reasonably manned and equipped ambushes are not a problem and can be used as experience training missions. Over a playthrough in my experience they always make a minor proportion of the encounters.

Of course you can start a new game if your initial base is in Central or South America, or even save and reload the game before every exploration. Or you can roll with the dice, and adjust your strategic plans accordingly.