LWOTC Class Builds - Specialist (2024)

Note: This post is a revised version of my Long War 2 Specialist 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: Specialist

There are 3 very clear paths for the Specialist: Healer, Guaranteed Damage (also called Hacker), and Overwatch. They are all great, but with each build a Specialist can struggle to add value when there is nothing to hack, no one is injured, and the enemy didn’t trigger overwatch. The Specialist can sometimes feel like dead weight, regardless of your build. Nevertheless I try to bring a Specialist on most missions because hack rewards and skullmining are a great source of loot.

The Healer build is particularly good for players new to LWOTC. After a few encounters with the Chosen, I quickly realized that I was going to be taking a lot of wounds, and switched my build to the Healer, and that was the right choice. Healers saved my soldiers and resistance personnel on numerous occasions as I learned how to fight the Chosen and cope with their automatic damage abilities. On two different Troop Ambushes gone awry (one featuring the Archon King) they kept every soldier at full HP, so that no one was ever at risk of dying. On the Blacksite mission (not knowing how hard it was, I brought only 6 soldiers) my healer used every medikit that he had, and my squad still barely made it out alive. On the 2nd Chosen Avenger Defense my Reaper was knocked down to 1 HP by my PsiOp’s Soul Storm ability,1 but was easily healed back up to full HP by the Healer. On a Light Destroy Relay mission I had everything under control until moving my pet Archon into an Elite Priest’s mental status negation field, setting it free, and sending the whole mission into chaos. Needless to say, the Healer proved invaluable on that mission.

In my first full campaign there were innumerable wounds that occurred because of ugly mistakes that only newcomers to LWOTC would make. And that is a good reason to use the Healer build if you are new to LWOTC.

The Healer build is only a modest compromise. Yes, it makes them weaker, but not that much weaker. They still have the exact same chance to hack enemies, and can skulljack once per mission, and toss out Combat Protocol or Aid Protocol when needed. The bonus actions granted by Teamwork or Advanced Teamwork are another way for a Healer to be effective during combat. Altogether, healers are weakish soldiers - but not that much weaker than other Specialist builds.

An alternative to the Healer Specialist, is to use the Field Medic ability on the XCOM row. This will enable your squad to heal up during a lull in combat, and it’s a good option. But often there is no lull in combat, and you are left with no way to heal wounded soldiers at long range during combat, which is usually how and when you want to heal wounded soldiers.

There are always going to be XCOM commanders who will cast scorn upon the healer build, claiming that they don’t need healing for most missions. These commanders are too good for healing. Besides, if you bring a soldier who can actually fight, your squad will kill’em all, and then you won’t need any healing.

There is a lot of truth in this.

But why optimize your builds for “most” missions? To make easy missions even easier? Instead, I would humbly suggest optimizing all soldier builds for the hardest missions in the game. If you are good enough to win without healers, you should be good enough to win with them.

Healer

LWOTC Class Builds - Specialist (1)

Combat Protocol:

All 3 of the abilities at this tier are solid. I choose Combat Protocol because guaranteed damage can be used with amazing efficiency to speed up fights and limit risks. If a dangerous enemy is behind high cover but only has 2 HP remaining, Combat Protocol can dispatch it without any hassle. Dealing with drones and MECs becomes a good bit easier as well.

Alternatives: Revival Protocol or Sentinel.

Revival Protocol is the ability I picked when I first started playing LW2. I found it incredibly useful in reviving soldiers that had been stunned by drones, or KO’d by Stun Lancers. Still, this ability is a crutch. Everything it saves you from is avoidable. Combat Protocol will kill the drones outright before they stun you, and flashbangs will disable a Stun Lancer’s melee ability. Revival Protocol is great for beginners, but loses value as your play improves. In LWOTC there is also another option: Unconscious soldier can be revived with the new Get Up ability, which every soldier can perform, but requires 2 action points.

Sentinel is a great ability that will soften up incoming enemies and protect your squad from enemy activation fire. Combining this ability with Ever Vigilant and Cool Under Pressure will really make it sing. The problem is that the Specialist is not a pure shooter, and you won’t get as much value equipping a rifle on a Specialist because they will be hacking much of the time, and will have a hacking PCS rather than a Perception PCS, and their aim progression is weak. Sentinel is still great, but Combat Protocol is cheaper and just as good.

Field Surgeon:

This ability will reduce wound time on every injured soldier, and that will help your barracks stay in fighting shape. In LWOTC wounds are more common, and so Field Surgeon is a strong pick.

Alternatives: Covering Fire or Interference.

Covering Fire is bad. It only provides a slight aim penalty to the target, and sometimes it causes the Specialist to miss a good overwatch shot, by triggering instead on an enemy shooting from cover. The most common overwatch fire is on activating pods, and here Covering Fire only applies a modest aim malus.

Interference is much better in LWOTC. It is now a free action, with more charges than you will probably need. But there are numerous ways to cancel an overwatch and this is the weakest option. Interference doesn’t cause damage, nor control the target. Every other ability that removes overwatch (Combat Protocol, Suppression, Flashbangs, Soul Fire, etc.) is preferable. Interference is worth taking, but I find that I usually don’t need more ways to cancel overwatch.

Medical Protocol:

Medical Protocol is great. It is so much easier to heal wounded soldiers with a gremlin than by running up next to them. This gives you a free heal as well. Like Revival Protocol, this ability is a crutch, but one that you will often need to lean on, as injuries are inevitable. Experienced players are better at avoiding injuries, and finishing fights quickly, which makes this ability less valuable as you get better at XCOM, but even the best players benefit from healing. There are more tough missions in LWOTC, and more enemies that are difficult or impossible to control. On these missions and against these foes, Medical Protocol can be a real life saver.

Alternatives: Trojan and Scanning Protocol.

Trojan is one of my favorite abilities. It upgrades your shutdown hacks from 1 turn to 2, and delivers enough damage to kill most drones, and soften up MECs. You can hack drones without breaking stealth, and with Trojan this will kill them. During combat, hacked robots can be used for one additional turn, instead of killing them on the last turn of control, so that they won’t attack you on the following turn. As good as this ability is, it isn’t necessary - hacking a drone or MEC will still win that encounter for your squad.

Scanning Protocol is much better in LWOTC. In addition to revealing Faceless and increasing the Specialist’s visibility range, it will also locate enemies blocked from line of sight, has 2 charges (more with gremlin upgrades), is now a free action, and on haven advisors, it will reduce the chance of recruiting Faceless rebels by 40%. Also, it is more valuable in LWOTC because it can negate the Assassin’s stealth. A Specialist with Scanning Protocol will be better at handling the Assassin, but I prefer Medical Protocol, and using a Shinobi/Reaper as my scout.

Field Medic:

Field Medic is very powerful. If you go with the full Healer build (Field Medic, Nanomedikits, Medical Protocol, and Savior) the Specialist can heal from a distance, 4 times per mission, for 11-12 HP each time2, and costing only a single action point. Amazing. In LW2, I was able to pass on this ability with my Specialist only because I could mine the AWC, to find Field Medic on other soldiers such as the Shinobi or Assault; their utility slots are less valuable than those of other classes, and they are often in need of a medikit or able to administer them. But things have changed in LWOTC. Healing is far more relevant throughout the campaign, and the Healer build is too good to pass up.

Alternatives: Airdrop or Ever Vigilant.

Airdrop is a great ability which relies on the presence of a Grenadier in your squad. Grenadiers become much more viable on longer missions, when the Specialist can gift them an extra 2 explosives. In LWOTC, with far more classes to choose from, I find that I don’t always bring a Grenadier, often taking a Skirmisher instead. Also, when I do bring a Grenadier, that soldier can equip and E.X.O. suit and be pair bonded to another soldier in the squad, giving the Grenadier 6 high power actions (4 grenades, 1 shredder gun, 1 Adv. Teamwork) before running dry. This ability is still great, and I regret not having it on my Specialists.

Ever Vigilant is a great ability that will make your Overwatch Specialist much speedier, a big advantage when equipping a rifle.

Savior:

Savior is a great ability for the Healer Specialist. Once again: heal from a distance, 4 times per mission, for 11-12 HP each time.

Alternatives: Failsafe or Cool Under Pressure.

Failsafe is a lackluster ability, and only just ok. It allows the Specialist to go for the more risky override hack, with impunity. Failsafe can also speed up missions where there is a low probability bonus reward on a security tower, with Reinforcements or another nasty failure penalty. On Troop Ambush missions a failed security tower hack can be a good thing, bringing in some extra corpse loot, but Failsafe will prevent this.

Cool Under Pressure is the obvious choice for the Overwatch build. It is a great ability that helps soften up incoming enemies and protects the squad from activation fire.

Full Override:

The Healer, Guaranteed Damage and Overwatch tracks ended at the previous rank. Full Override is one of the most powerful abilities in the game and a must take ability on all Specialist builds. It allows your Specialist to permanently mind control a MEC, often a MEC2, which will win you a standard mission. It is not too hard to engineer the hack of a MEC3, with Bluescreen Bombs and Redscreen Rounds, and that will really help on the Psi Gate, Forge, and Chosen Avenger Defense. On easy missions, Full Override can be used to steal a MEC, and give it to your resistance fighters, which is also nice.

Alternatives: Rescue Protocol or Threat Assessment.

Rescue Protocol is better in LWOTC, but still only good. It now grants bonus dodge and mobility in addition to a free movement, and begins with 2 charges. Not worth considering.

Threat Assessment is also good, but not worth taking.

Restoration:

With Savior, Restoration will heal up to 8 HP for each soldier (including Sparks) and will remove any negative status effects. This is a great ability that can save your squad in the worst situations. The Healer build already has 4 Medical Protocol charges, so this ability is often redundant; but there are multiple enemies that can nuke your whole squad; the Alien Rulers in particular, but also the Assassin when she uses Harbor Wave. Its also nice to have Restoration if you are fielding a bunch of wounded soldiers on a Chosen Avenger Defense. You can heal all of them up to full health right away, or after a few more soldiers are wounded, to maximize efficiency.

Alternatives: Kill Zone or Capacitor Discharge.

A Specialist on the Overwatch track should definitely take Kill Zone. Here is what I wrote about this ability in my Ranger build:

Kill Zone works in LWOTC, and it works the way you would expect it to work from concealment. Also, the radius of the cone is much wider than it was in LW2, so you don’t have to maneuver around to get all the enemies within your line of fire. You should be able to target most of the enemies most of the time, making this a great option for ambushes or against pods of enemies that you expect to patrol into your squad. Ammunition can be somewhat of a limitation for a Ranger with Kill Zone, and it mandates using the Extended Magazine weapon upgrade rather than an Autoloader, which would otherwise be acceptable. Kill Zone is much better when paired with Cool Under Pressure, but worth taking regardless, especially if you don’t have it on your Gunner build.

Capacitor Discharge is a good ability, adding some offense to a class that is lacking in that regard. In addition to a decent amount of damage that scales with the Gremlin, there is a chance to stun enemies.3 The biggest drawback of this ability is that it only has a single charge.

Alternate Builds

I recommend watching DerAva’s Specialist build video, in which he breaks down his 2 builds: Sentinel and Support. 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, there are some solid perks that will enhance the overwatch build, and shooting builds more generally, but I don’t think these are enough to justify passing on Healing.

1

The description of Soul Storm is a bit misleading, and I thought that it would not harm any squadmates in the blast radius. It hit my Reaper for 14 HP.

2

Nanomedikits heal 6 HP, +4 with Savior, +1 with Gremlin MkII, +2 with Gremlin MkIII.

3

I’ve searched around, but I could not find the Capacitor Discharge chance to stun.

LWOTC Class Builds - Specialist (2024)
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