LWOTC Class Builds - Gunner (2024)

Note: This post is a heavily revised version of my Long War 2 Gunner build, with changes to the text/build as appropriate for the new rules and skills in LWOTC. All changes to the rules/mechanics of LW2 are displayed in bold.

LWOTC Ufopaedia: Gunner

When I learned that Kubikuri was not available in this version of XCOM, I decided right then that I would need to put more emphasis on shredding enemies and doing it quickly. But I did not abandon the Suppression build completely until I realized how much it had been weakened in LWOTC; Every single suppression ability that I picked in LW2 (Lockdown, Mayhem, Cool Under Pressure) is less effective. Sigh.

But even if suppression hadn’t been nerfed, it’s a good idea to focus instead on killing boss enemies. Of particular note is the Sectopod, which can no longer be controlled with Stasis, or destroyed with Kubikuri, and is extremely difficult hack. The only solid option to fully control a Sectopod is Disabling Shot, but that maybe only buys your squad a single turn. Your squad will still need to shoot it to death, and they better do it quick.

Enter the Gunner. This guy has the biggest gun (aside from the Spark) and can easily acquire Shredder, as well as numerous multi-shot abilities. With Bluescreen Rounds and a bonus action via Command, this soldier can cut a Sectopod in half. This Gunner build is also great against the Chosen, and those enemies that have various immunities (eg. Purifiers, Priests, etc.).

Suppression is just not what it used to be. The Gunner is best spec’d to help kill bosses.

Shredstar

LWOTC Class Builds - Gunner (1)

Center Mass:

Center Mass adds +1 damage to every shot which is very good.

Alternatives: Grazing Fire or Combatives

Nobody likes Grazing Fire, including me. It doesn’t feel like you are gaining much. It’s an insurance policy against a total miss, but doesn’t pay well; and as the Gunner’s aim improves, the likelihood of triggering this ability diminishes. Most frustrating, I can’t tell when this perk has caused a graze, so I never feel the value. So why pick it? I often pick Grazing Fire in my LW2 campaigns because a Gunner’s aim never becomes great, and many of the Gunner’s shots will be against moving targets and thus have an aim penalty. So Grazing Fire is going to turn some misses into grazes. And in a lot of situations that makes a huge difference. An overwatch shot on an incoming enemy that is only a graze will still prevent that enemy from attacking. and with Chain Shot the first shot has a -10 aim penalty, and if it misses completely there won’t be a second shot. Also a graze is all you need to trigger special ammo abilities which may set the enemy on fire or apply shred or rupture. Grazing Fire is very good, even though it doesn’t feel that good.

Combatives can be extremely powerful, locking down a Muton or Archon for multiple turns. But a slow Gunners has a harder time using this ability than the faster Shinobi. And the counter attack with a knife is less meaningful than with a sword. Yet in a total breakdown this skill can save your squad, so it is good.

Formidable:

Formidable is +2 HP and reduced damage from explosives. Very good.

Alternatives: Lockdown or Flush.

Lockdown adds +20 aim when your suppressed targets try to move. With Lockdown, Mayhem, and Cool Under Pressure a Gunner can almost guarantee hits on enemies that run suppression - and this means suppression can be used offensively. Force a group of suppressed targets to move (by flanking or removing cover) and the Gunner can hit multiple enemies in a single turn, and can land crits.

Unfortunately, while this is still effective, it is not as great as it once was. All of the suppression abilities have been nerfed in LWOTC. Mayhem only adds +25% damage, rather than +56%. Also, enemies in cover that run the suppression will not be considered flanked, and so Cool Under Pressure will not always allow you to critically hit them. Lockdown is also weaker than it was in LW2, granting only +20 aim, rather than +30 aim (due to a bug), and it does not apply to standard overwatch shots. Lockdown is still valuable, but not great.

Flush is terrible. It often helps the enemy, as they will reposition strategically.

Shredder:

Shredder is one of the few ways (other than consumable ordinance) to break armor. And that is very important - lots of enemies have armor and there is no Kubikuri in LWOTC to easy-button the bosses. There are also many more soldier classes, and if you want to play around with hero classes and Sparks, you will often want or need to leave your Grenadiers and Technicals on the Avenger. Every late game squad needs a soldier who can shred armor. If you grab the Shredder ability with the Gunner it will allow your other soldiers to carry Dragon Rounds, or Venom Rounds, and it means the Gunner can carry Bluescreen Rounds to focus on mechanicals.

Alternatives: Hail of Bullets or Mayhem.

Hail of Bullets was wonderful as a LCPL ability; enabling a Gunner to carry a weak rookie squad to victory. At SGT rank it comes a bit too late; midgame squads have ways of getting around or through cover. And it conflicts with Suppression which is the Gunner’s default way of dealing with enemies that are behind cover. This is still a good ability.

Mayhem grants an extra 25% damage from suppression fire. This is pretty good. One limitation of Mayhem is that it really must be paired with Lockdown and Cool Under Pressure to maximize value. With the full Suppression build, your suppression fire will become very strong. If you don’t select those abilities, you shouldn’t select this one.

Chain Shot:

The Gunner is offered several multi-shot abilities. Chain Shot is the first available, and the weakest, but still great. Grazing Fire pairs nicely with Chain Shot, making it less likely to miss completely.

Alternatives: Iron Curtain or Demolition.

Iron Curtain had a narrow window of utility in LW2. However, in LWOTC this is a more valuable ability because of the constant (and annoying) movement of the Chosen. As this ability has little value outside of fighting the Chosen, I don’t feel that it is worth taking.

Demolition guarantees cover destruction, even for extremely sturdy objects - but not indestructible ones. This makes it a great ability. It is extremely helpful in dealing with the Chosen, who will reposition when you destroy their cover if they also take any damage. One drawback of Demolition is that it will often destroy the wrong cover object if the target has 2 sources of cover. It is also problematic to destroy cover with one of your primary shooters, because then your squad has one less shooter to shoot with.

Cyclic Fire:

Cyclic Fire is the 2nd multi-shot ability offered to the Gunner, and probably the best. It is better in LWOTC than it was in LW2, having only a -10 aim penalty on all shots, using only 3 ammo, and having a 2 turn cooldown. It is less flexible than other special shot abilities, requiring 2 action points, but taking 3 shots is always great.

Alternatives: Cool Under Pressure or Danger Zone.

Cool Under Pressure can protect your squad from activation fire which means it is a good perk to take. Overwatching is incredibly valuable as a defensive measure. Some of the worst hits are from incoming enemies that have flanking shots. Scouting is one way to prevent this, but your scout can’t be everywhere. The next best thing you can do is have a soldier that specializes in overwatching to protect your squad. Cool Under Pressure adds +10 aim on reaction shots, thus improving your chance to shut down enemy activation fire. It also allows overwatch fire to crit. But on timed missions the overwatch role is not handled well by the gunner who has a big problem with action economy. Gunners have a tough time keeping up with the rest of the squad, whereas a Ranger with Ever Vigilant can double move and still protect the squad with overwatch.

Danger Zone is also very good. It only increases the range of Suppression a single tile, but that matters a lot. This is because the AI knows how to spread out their troops just enough to prevent area suppression from enclosing multiple targets. Infuriating. With Danger Zone they can’t manage this, and you will be able to suppress multiple targets much more frequently. While I like Danger Zone, at this stage in the game your Gunner is not going to be suppressing the enemy very often - instead preferring to shoot multiple times.

Kill Zone:

Here is what I wrote about the Kill Zone ability in LW2:

Kill Zone does not work as expected when in concealment. Nor does it trigger as consistently as Suppression, requiring that the enemy move at least 2 tiles within the Kill Zone area of effect. I have been very frustrated with this ability not triggering when I expected it to, and have abandoned it completely, preferring instead to use suppression, which is very similar in effect.

Well all that has changed. Kill Zone works, and it works the way you would expect it to work from concealment. Also, the radius of the cone is much wider, so you should be able to target most of the enemies most of the time. Kill Zone enables your squad to perform a brutal double ambush when paired with either a Technical’s flamethrower or a Grenadier’s Incendiary Bomb.

Alternatives: Rapid Fire or Rupture

Rapid Fire is great, perhaps the best of the multi-shot abilities, because it has a much quicker cooldown timer. What this means is that at MSGT rank, the combination of Rapid Fire and Traverse Fire will be roughly equivalent to having Cyclic Fire, but available every turn. The problem is that these abilities come at GSGT/MSGT rank. That’s a bit too long for me to wait.

Rupture is great, but if you already have one or two multi-shot abilities, then it is a bit redundant in most situations; the exception is tough bosses, against which Rupture is often quite useful. Sometimes in a prolonged fire fight, the gunner benefits from having several special shot abilities because the others are on cooldown.

Combat Fitness:

Combat Fitness is very good. It marginally improves stats, which is especially good for a Gunner given their low aim progression and lack of bonus aim abilities. Both of the other abilities at this rank are more powerful than Combat Fitness - but overlapping functionality makes them less valuable for my build.

Alternatives: Saturation Fire or Traverse Fire.

Saturation Fire is great. It allows the gunner to target all enemies in a narrow cone of fire. Hitting 3+ enemies is common enough to make this ability a solid option. There is also a modest chance of destroying cover objects within the cone of fire. I think Saturation Fire is a worthy alternative to Combat Fitness, especially if you are able to acquire additional aim via holo targeting or the bondmate aim bonus, or whatever.

Traverse Fire will turn your Gunner into a Ranger… sort of. It’s great. You get a normal shot and then a special shot every single turn. When paired with Rapid Fire, the Gunner can shoot 3 times a turn, on every turn, and will be able to split those shots across multiple enemies to more efficiently apply shred and damage. The biggest drawback of this ability is that it is very similar to having Chain Shot and Cyclic Fire, but it comes much later in the game. In my opinion, it is not worth that delay.

Alternate Builds

I recommend watching DerAva’s Gunner build video, in which he breaks down his 2 builds: Suppression and Shooter. His class build videos also contain a lot of information on game mechanics and how those interact with various abilities, and is worth watching even if you stick with your own build.

Considering the skills on the XCOM row, I notice that quite a few enhance the Gunner’s mobility (Ever Vigilant, Reposition, Implacable, Run & Gun), and those have more value than it may seem at first glance, and can perhaps justify different builds. DerAva notes that Shadowstrike will make Saturation Fire a devastating ambush ability - so that is also something to look for, and would justify altering the Gunner’s build.

LWOTC Class Builds - Gunner (2024)
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