X-Com: Enemy Within Assault Build Guide

The Assualt class brings the single best ability in the game at its first level.
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The last class, Assault, was probably my least favorite at the start of the game. Once I learned how to play this class and use it to the best of its abilities, it became my favorite.

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No one else is capable of dealing as much damage as Assault while having the survivability they do at the same time. This is your front line soldier. Blazing speed and critical chance are two of the Assault’s greatest strengths.



Run and Gun

Allows firing or Overwatch after Dashing on the turn Run and Gun is activated. 2 turn cooldown.

This is the signature ability of the Assault class. The first ability at the lowest rank and it has to be one of the best in the game. Run and Gun just sounds like you get to make a run move and then take a shot, but it’s far more than that. The primary use allows you to maneuver your soldier into an opponents flank quickly. With the flanking bonus to hit, it is rare that you’ll miss on these shots. The downside can be moving a troop into unfamiliar territory and waking up an enemy spawn point. Your soldier will be exposed with no movement left to hide.

A second use that makes this ability superior is that, while you can’t use items such as grenades, you can still activate mission objectives. This really comes in handy on the train mission from “Slingshot” and other “bomb deactivation” missions. You can activate Run and Gun on your assault soldier then dash to the objective to activate it. This has saved many a mission for me at the last second like a game winning shot at the buzzer.


The Corporal abilities are where you really decide the purpose of your assault soldier.

Tactical Sense

Confers +5 Defense per enemy in sight. (Max +20)

This ability decides that your assault soldier will be “defensive.” This doesn’t mean that they will be a completely defensive character, but they will depend on their skills to survive once they make the push to the front lines. This Defense bonus comes in handy any time your assault soldier ends up on the front and alone. 20 Defense is nothing to scoff at since that is the same amount light cover will provide on its own.


Confers +10% Critical Chance per enemy in sight. (Max 30%)

Taking Aggression would be the “offensive” option of the two. If you like to put your assault soldier as far into the enemy lines as possible, this could be the choice for you. Instead of going with survivability, you will be choosing to rely on your soldier’s ability to eliminate his foes before he will fall under enemy fire. +30% Critical Chance can go a long way to knocking out important enemies.


Lightning Reflexes

Forces the first reaction shot against this unit each turn to miss.

Seems simple enough. Once added to Run and Gun, it quickly becomes one of the best maneuvers in the game. You can charge your soldier up into the battlefield for the perfect attack position with little fear you will be shot dead while running there.

You can also use this ability to draw out the fire of an enemy you know is waiting on you with Overwatch or Suppression. Run the Assault into his field of fire, draw out his reaction shot and then bring in another soldier to finish the job.

Close and Personal

The first standard shot made within 4 tiles of the target does not cost an action. Cannot combine with Run and Gun.

If you’re looking for the soldier to run down the enemy gullet, this ability would be your choice. Add this to Aggression and you have a monster with +30% Critical Chance and the opportunity to take shots against two of those opponents after moving into position.



Fire a shot that causes enemies to run out of cover. The shot is easy to hit with, but does reduced damage.

This shot doesn’t seem like much at first. When used, the enemy often runs to different cover. It won’t really put you at a tactical advantage if the enemy moves further away from you or into better cover. However, if you have a soldier nearby on Overwatch, he will use it against the enemy running from one source of cover to the next.

Rapid Fire

Take two shots against a single target in quick succession. Each shot carries a -15 penalty to Aim.

When you really need something dead, this is the way to go. Your Assault soldier has the ability to Run and Gun to the front lines, where he will almost never miss, then unload to shots from Rapid Fire. The downside is the -15 penalty will often be enough to make this option useless at medium and long ranges.


Close Combat Specialist

Confers a reaction shot against any enemy who closes to within 4 tiles. Does not require Overwatch.

Fortunately, with Close Combat specialist, you will no longer feel like you are leaving your soldier out in the open. He will be able to shoot anything that moves into the 4 tile zone. Yes, he will keep shooting. As long as he has ammo, he will shoot every time an enemy enters that zone. You can even combine this with the Flush ability from above. If the enemy moves close enough to you, he will take a Close Combat shot right after he Flushed the enemy out from behind his cover.

Bring ‘Em On

Adds 1 damage on critical hits for each enemy the squad can see. (up to 5)

Anyone who thinks +1 damage is insignificant at this stage of the game has never been only a point or two away from killing the big bad guy. Even though this will only trigger on critical hits, you will find Assault soldiers with Shotguns and Aggression critical all the time. The few extra points of damage could allow you fewer shots on small targets and more on the big guys.


Extra Conditioning

Confers bonus health based on which type of armor is equipped. Heavier armor increases the bonus.

This is the ability that finally lets you put your Assault soldier anywhere you would like. He probably won’t die. Once you have the heaviest armor in the game, this bonus will give your soldier close to 20-25 Health with no other bonuses. You would have to make some pretty bad decisions to lose this soldier after this upgrade.



Confers immunity to Critical Hits.

Let me say that again. Immune to Critical Hits. Never will this soldier suddenly be killed with a weapon dealing an unusual amount of damage. Add this to extra conditioning and you have a damage sponge with the Assault soldier.

Killer Instinct

Activating Run and Gun now also grants +50% critical damage for the rest of the turn.

At this final level, your Assault soldier has a significant chance to critically hit on nearly every shot he takes. Killer Instinct will make those last ditch attacks with Run and Gun that much more successful.

So, How do you build your Assault soldier?

My personal preference is to have the defensive build. Tactical Sense and Lightning Reflexes make this soldier incredibly hard to hit as long as they continue to find cover while moving up the field. If you go offensively, you’ll be able to send this soldier into a room by themselves and have a high probability of clearing the room. The only downside there is, if you are wrong, you will likely have a dead soldier with plenty of offensive abilities.

What really matters is learning how to use Run and Gun. It can become a matter of finesse. It is tempting to use on a dug-in enemy, but could spell disaster if your soldier is exposed in the process.

Check out my other Xcom Class Guides

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Landon Sommer
While I do play some of the greats like Civilization and X-com, consider me your Tabletop guru here at gameskinny. Want to know about a tabletop game? Just ask!