More XCOM: Chimera Squad Guides:
- Cheat Codes (Console Commands).
- Scavenger Market Guide (Items and Costs).
- Agents Guide (Godmother, Cherub, Terminal).
- Agents Guide (Patchwork, Shelter, Torque, Zephyr).
- Agents Team Synergies Guide.
- How to XCOM but Breaching.
- Resource Increase Guide.
- Time Increase Guide.
This guide concentrate on how to build and optimize your Agents (Verge, Axiom, Blueblood, Claymore), as well as how to use them on the field to the best of their abilites. You will find informations about how to outfit your Agents' weapons, a detailed explanation on their abilities and what to choose when leveling, and some example of synergetic team to help you face the various enemies you will encounter in City 31.
Guide to Loadouts, Abilities, Builds and Synergies
Verge / Virgil (1)
Verge is a psi-specialist alien that uses his powers to stun, disorient and turn enemies upon each other. He will need time to properly set up his neural network but once he has a few enemies linked to it he can quickly dish out good damage upon multiple foes.
Verge use an assault rifle, and can use both legendary weapon to their full potential depending on the situation. I'd recommend giving him the Impetuous Spire, as the Banish ability let him focus down a powerful enemy like a praetorian and completely shut down a Berserker at the cost of his ammo. However, shooting is not what you will do often with Verge as his role is more of a specialist than rifleman.
I'd recommend outfitting him with a Holo-targetor to mark enemies for his teammates, and either a good Scope, a Stock or even a Hair trigger if you're in a gambling mood as the bonus free action can sometimes be used to launch a devastating mindlash on a wounded enemy.
As for utility, Verge can make great use of Smoke Grenades to better protect his position, considering he will stay far away from the frontline and a Medikit to heal himself during emergencies. As he will rarely shoot his gun, the many different speciality ammunitions should go to other Agents that need them to boost their damage.
Abilities and Build
Starting Skill: Stupor and Battle Madness
Stupor is Verge's bread and butter. For the cost of one action this friendly sectoid will launch a psi attack that is almost guaranteed to stun or disorient an enemy character. Use is as often as possible, as each time Verge launch a psi attack, the enemy will be added to his Neural Network but be mindful that once an enemy is in the network it cannot be the target of another psi attack from Verge. Use Stupor to stun Ronin before they launch their Tempo Surge, to stun a Codex and stop it from using the Psi bomb or their cloning ability and to shutdown a Dominator mind control or an Acolyte Psi Suplex. If you hesitate between shooting a far away enemy or using Stupor, choose the later, as a guaranteed stun/disorient is often more valuable than risking a miss.
Battle Madness is Verge's second starting ability, and while it is a great skill, it is slightly less useful than Stupor because it renders the enemy berserk for a single turn. By turning an enemy berserk, you can force an enemy to shoot at the back of his comrade, which is very efficient if you turn a shotgun wielding Muton being protected by a shield-bearer Guardian. However, Battle Madness only last for a turn, and once added to the neural network the enemy cannot be the target of Stupor. Use this skill wisely and try to aim for the furthest enemy from your frontline, one that is on a flanking position to his comrades.
Deputy Agent: Levitation
Levitation is a breach skill that can be used as often as you want. Verge lifts an enemy in the air and removes their cover bonus as well as canceling their Alert or Aggressive status. While you do not do any damage to them when you lift them it is often beneficial to stop a Sacred Coil shield-bearer Alert status to delay their shield buff, or to stop a powerful enemy from shooting your squad if you didn't manage to down them during the breach. At first underwhelming, Levitation can be great to protect the squad from incoming arm and stop some troublesome Sacred Coil enemies to proc their defensive skills.
Field Agent: Crowdsource or Collar
Crowdsource is a passive ability that buff Verge aim and critical chance for each enemy that he connects to his Neural Network. For each criminal you use Stupor or Battle Madness on, Verge will become a better shot. Keep in mind that enemies that are rendered unconscious instead of killed will remain in the Neural Network and contribute to Verge's buff if he chose Crowdsource. With but a few enemies connected to his neural network, Verge can reliably nail a target on the other side of the map.
Collar is an insurance that every enemy that Verge has connected to his neural network will be rendered unconscious instead of killed, so that you are almost guaranteed to gain some intel at the end of the mission. However, keep in mind that some enemies, even if you connect them to the Neural network, will always be killed instead of rendered unconscious, such as the Andromedon living form and the Codexes.
I recommend picking Crowdsource over Collar, as even if Intel is hard to amass in the early game, you will be swimming in it toward the end of the second investigation while a reliable aim and crit boost will always be useful, from early game to end-game. Furthermore, there is nothing stopping you from using subduing action to quickly render an enemy unconscious instead of using Verge to set up a Stupor first.
Special Agent: Mindlash
By reaching this rank, Verge start to ramp up in power. Unlocking Mindlash let Verge unleash a mental attack upon enemies he has connected to his Neural Network that will deal 3HP worth of damage, bypassing armor. It is a great skill to finish off wounded enemies, and is a reliable way to deal consistent damage across multiple target. Once you unlock mindflay, Verge will use his gun even less as most of his action economy will consist of doing Stupor then Mindlash across the enemy team.
Mindlash can also synergize well with Terminal cooperation, so that Verge can use Stupor and Battle Madness and Mindlash his target during his bonus action.
By reaching this rank, Verge unlock a training option that will give him a welcome bonus to his dodge. Considering his relative low HP pool, it is often a good consideration to pair this training with a brand new Mach Weave to boost his dodge and let him be grazed if an enemy shoot his way.
Senior Agent: Network Healing or Slam
Network Healing is a passive ability that provides a 1HP heal for each enemy Verge managed to connect to the Neural Network. While the amount seems small, remember that Verge can reliably connect two people per turn to his neural network, and combined with a Regen Weave can get a 4HP heal per turn! A good defensive option to consider if you like Verge to hang back and slowly connect every enemy to his neural network.
Slam synergize with his Levitation break skill to deal a slow amount of damage to his target but, most importantly, to instantly connect it to his Neural Network. Enemies that are left on 1HP during a breach can hence be rendered unconscious as Verge jam their mind and welcome them to the slam at the start of the round. Remind yourself that the target of a Slam attack will connect to his neural network and hence be impossible to Stupor or Battle Madness in the following encounter.
Both of the skills choices are interesting in their own way, and your choice will essentially depend if you want to give Verge a more defensive mindset or to gain time to set up a good mindlash. I would personally recommend Slam as the small amount of damage can sometimes be enough to take out dangerous enemies left on a low amount of HP after a breach and... more importantly, can provide a very good setup for Verge ultimate ability which is...
Verge / Virgil (2)
Principal Agent: Puppeteer
Puppeteer is a one-time use active ability that make Verge try to take control of each enemies connected to his neural network for one round. It can synergize very well with an opening Slam, as you can use Verge to Battle Madness another enemy and use Puppeteer to try and take control of two enemies in the opening round. However, keep in mind that Puppeteer can fail, and it will be more difficult to take control of powerful enemies such as Sorcerer or Ronin, but managing to take control of a living Andromedon can quickly turn a difficult engagement into a cakewalk as you use their Acid bomb attack on their comrades.
By reaching this rank, Verge can undergo training to boost the damage of his mindlash from 3 to 4. While a +1 damage might not seem impressive, Verge will use mindflay more often than his gun over the course of an encounter, and the armor bypassing damage can be very helpful in quickly taking armored Praetorians down.
Synergies and Favored Enemies
Verge can work very well with Terminal to setup his neural network quickly thanks to her cooperation skill. His ability to stun multiple people can also help Zephyr charge into battle without worrying about too much incoming damage.
He will performs very well against the Sacred Coil, as Andromedon and Chryssalids make prime target for Battle Madness and Puppeteering, and will have slightly more trouble against the Progenies as their superior Psi training make them less vulnerable against his own psi attack. Against Grey Phoenix, Verge can have a field day making powerful Mutons shoot their allies in the back and making sure to shut down a Dominator attempt to mind control an ally.
Final Ranking: B
Verge is a great asset to the team but his rough action economy, his inability to target the same enemy twice with his Stupor and the long time he need to set up his neural network can hurt him on the long run. He will be most useful during the early game, whereas toward mid-game and late game he will turn into a somewhat superior rifleman that is there to finish off weakened enemies.
Axiom is an aggressive, mobile and unpredictable Agent that can use his both shotgun and melee to lay waste upon his enemies. Using Axiom is not without risks, as his melee can miss and puts him on a vulnerable position or proc his berserker rage, making him decide upon himself to charge a random enemy without the player's input. However, a good Axiom can use his rage to come into play during the enemy's turn to deal heavy damage.
Thanks to a good action economy, Axiom can make good use of the Callow Ember legendary shotgun and its Rapid Fire ability. By first moving in to smash a target and then using Rapid Fire upon a dangerous, high-HP enemy, Axiom can reliably lay down heavy damage across the board.
Giving him a good Laser Sight to boost his critical ability will go well with his close-quarter combat playstyle. You can also consider giving him an Impact Frame to make his subduing action a more reliable source of damage. A good quality auto-loader can also help alleviate his somewhat intensive ammo consumption.
Axiom's role as first breacher imply that he will not use the tactical breach items to their full capability. Consider giving breach grenades to other characters.
A good armor can help Axiom tredemensly during firefight. A Plated Vest can boost his armor rating to a comfortable position, but I'd recommend outfitting him with a Hazmat Weave to protect him from Acid, Poison and most importantly the Burning status that stops him from using his many abilities.
As for utility item, giving Axiom Tranq Rounds in the early game can help accumulating Intel as he will be one of your heavy damage dealer. A more specialized ammo type such as Dragon Rounds or Talon Rounds will make his late-game damage skyrocket. Consider giving him either a Medikit to provide him with a quick healing possibility in case his rage leave him in a precarious spot, or a good Plasma Grenade to destroy the cover of his enemies and leave them vulnerable to his powerful shotgun.
Abilities and Build
Starting Skill: Smash and Psych Up
Smash is a powerful melee attack that Axiom can damage enemies for around 4 to 7 HP and leave them disoriented, stunned or even unconscious. That mean that Axiom can potentially one-shot any organic enemy by doing his smash attack and rendering them unconscious, even Praetorians! The possibility of inflicting debilitating effects with Smash is increased the more Rage Axiom has stored, similar to Cherub's charge playstyle. Be mindful that contrary to Zephyr's attack and the subdue attack, Smash can and will miss enemies and can make Axiom enter his Muton rage. It is a gamble, but a gamble worth undertaking, especially when paired with his Adrenal Surge perk.
Psych Up is a free action that increase Axiom's Rage. Consider that Axiom can never enter berserk from doing Psych Up alone, as his Berserker status can only proc from being damaged by enemies or by performing Smash, so there is no downside to using Psych Up every turn. Do not be afraid of Axiom's Berserker state, as he will never (at least, he never did during all my testing) target an ally when in a berserker state. If there is no enemies left on the field and he enter berserker rage, he will usually reload his weapon or skip his turn. Rage can be stored up to five time, and will completely disappear after Axiom perform any action during his Berserker status.
Deputy Agent: Battering Ram
Battering Ram is a passive breach skill that Axiom automatically do if Axiom is in the first Breacher slot during a normal Door situation. He will perform a mighty roar that has a chance to leave enemies in a panicked state after the Breach shootout. Panicked is one of the most debilitating status that you can inflict upon enemies as it will often lead them to shoot their comrades in the back or spend the whole firefight cowering in a corner, unwilling to fight back your Agents. It will also let you see one of the Viper enemies most adorable animation where they curl up and rattle their tail when panicked.
The more Rage Axiom has stored, the higher the possibility that he will leave enemies in a panicked state at the end of the breach standoff.
As such, Battering Ram can combo very well with Godmother's Alpha Strike as it will let both Axiom and Godmother move and shoot before anyone else in the Timeline.
Field Agent: Aftershock or Shrug it off
Aftershock upgrade Axiom's Smash ability to deal a small amount of damage to nearby enemies, as well as giving a chance to disorient, stun or render them unconscious. It is a straight upgrade to one of his mainstay abilities, but the actual area of effect range of it is rather short and can also miss. The damage done is rather low, but it is still hilarious to render a praetorian unconscious by doing 2 damage to him even as you aimed at the riot shield mercenary that was defending him.
Shrug it Off is a passive ability that gives Axiom a chance to reduce all type of incoming damage to 1. It has a 50/50 chance to activate, and can potentially reduce a dangerous attack such as a Null Lance or a Soulfire to only 1 pip of damage.
In my opinion, Shrug it off is the better option between the two. Aftershock actual area of effect is rather slow and it is very rare that enemies bunch up enough to make it worthwhile, especially considering the fact that Smash can still miss enemies. Shrug it off gives Axiom a good way to mitigate incoming damage, even if its activation is left to random chance. It can also give Axiom a chance to defend against heavy incoming fire if a bad Rage proc left him on a vulnerable position.
Special Agent: Adrenal Surge
Adrenal Surge is a powerful active ability that greatly enhance Axiom action economy by making Smash only cost one action, even if Axiom need to dash to perform it. While under the effect of Adrenal Surge, Psych Up and Smash loose their cooldown, which mean you can spam Psych Up to make Axiom instantly reach 5 Rage on his opening turn! You can also use Adrenal Surge to let Axiom use his first action to Smash a far away enemy, then use the following free action to shoot or use Rapid Fire on a flanked enemy. Adrenal Surge gives Axiom a much needed flexibility when it comes to his action economy, but be mindful that using Smash with a high Rage count can lead to him going berserk and choosing his own target and action. Adrenal Surge can also be used toward the end of an encounter, to give Axiom his maximum Rage and upgrade his Battering Ram breach skill.
By reaching this rank, Axiom unlock a special training that give him 1 point of armor. As Axiom is often in the thick of the fight getting shot and outflanked, it is a very important training to undergo and will help mitigate incoming damage in the long run.
Senior Agent: Fear Factor or Regeneration
Fear Factor upgrades Smash by adding the possibility to inflict Panic in a large radius around the target, even if Smash miss the original target. As mentioned before, Panic is one of the most debilitating status that you can inflict upon your enemies, and making multiple enemies shoot their friend in the back or skip their turn can quickly change the outcome of a difficult engagement. Fear Factor doesn't need Aftershock to proc on multiple enemies, and synergize well with an aggressive Axiom playstyle that use Adrenal Surge to boost his Rage count in the opening turn and proceed to smash everyone and everything in sight.
Regeneration is a passive ability that heals Axiom at the end of his turn for 2 HP. Combined with a Regen Weave, it can combo to heal Axiom for 4 HP at the end of his turn. It is a good defensive ability, that will greatly enhance Axiom survivability on the longer missions that goes across several encounters. It also synergize pretty well with Shrug it off, as it let Axiom heal back the damage he managed to absorb almost completely.
Between the two, I still think that Fear Factor is the better perk. Regeneration goes well with a defensive-focused Axiom, but Shrug it off, a regen weave or a Terminal Safeguard can take care of healing. Being able to inflict Panic on multiple enemies across the board is something that is not to be underestimated, especially as it can lead to threatening enemies to completely shutdown for the duration of the firefight.
Principal Agent: Quake
Quake is a one-use active ability that makes Axiom damage enemies and destroy the environment in a large radius, about the same size as Claymore's shrapnel grenade. Quake is a high-risk manoeuvre as it will inevitably lead to Axiom standing out of cover, but it can also help finish off multiple bunched up enemies. You can set up a good quake by either charging a row of already stunned enemies (by means of Shock Grenade or Patchwork drone) or by protecting Axiom with one of Cherub's kinetic shield. Quake is still slightly too dangerous for Axiom to actually put in use, so keep this in mind.
Upon reaching this rank, Axiom unlock a training that will let him use Counterattack, a passive skill that can lead to Axiom being able to totally absorb an enemy melee attack and counter with a powerful counter attack worth 4 to 6 damage. Being able to counter a Chryssalid rush, a Ronin melee spam or a Berserker punch is nothing short of hilarious, especially if you can kill them in the retaliation strike. Try to undergo this training as soon as possible, but keep in mind that like most of Axiom's skill, it is left to random Xcom chance to properly activate in your time of need.
Synergies and Favored Enemies
Axiom can pair exceptionally well with Godmother to form a very powerful breacher team, where Axiom open with his Battering Ram and Godmother follow with her Alpha strike to let them act before anyone else in the timeline. As they both use shotgun, they gain a lot from an early Assembly research to enhance and perfect their weapon, and make them the heaviest hitters in your roster. Axiom can also works well with Terminal and the many possibilities of using her cooperation action and insured by her GREMLIN heals. Finally, Blueblood can form a perfect buddy-cop duo with Axiom and use his many offensive possibilities to finish off wounded enemies left in the big Muton's wake.
Axiom can perform well against all enemy factions. A high level Axiom with Counterattack will do wonders against the many melee-centric enemies of the Sacred Coil (Andromedon / Chryssalids / Ronin) and his high base damage and mobility can help against the many heavy-armored Grey Phenix mercenaries.
Final Ranking: A to B
At the end of the day, Axiom can either be a boon or a curse, depending if you prefer to control every aspect of the battle or leave something to chance. Most of Axiom's kit leads to a degree of unpredictability, from Smash chance to miss to Shrug it off and Counterattack random nature. His berserker status can lead him to charge blindly into the fray, leaving him exposed and vulnerable. Despite this, Axiom is one of the heaviest hitter in your team, and is the only character able to inflict Panic upon the enemy with the proper build. You need to understand his quirks and how to control his anger, but once you understand how Axiom works you will be able to enjoy Muton-grade devastation.
Blueblood is a mobile and versatile character than has one of the better action economy in the game. His pistol starts off weak but he can quickly ramp up in power with the proper equipment and training. He is a good offensive character that can complement rather well any kind of team setup.
Blueblood weapons of choice are pistols, which make him deal sub-par damage in the early game and render fights against armored opponents difficult. Nonetheless, he can work wonders with the Artful Fathom legendary pistol as the Lightning Hands perk can help him shoot three times in a round and has the same cooldown as his Lancer pistol. With this weapon, you are almost guaranteed to always be able to shoot at least twice every few rounds.
As such, Blueblood can make good use of a Expanded magazine or an Auto-loader until he unlock his last training option. A good Stock is a worthwhile option to consider, as even with missed shot his ability to shoot multiple time in a round will lead to consistent damage upon the enemy.
One of the most interesting utility item to give Blueblood is some A.P rounds. With them, Blueblood will be able to overcome the pistol greatest weakness and bypass enemy armor. Alternatively, once pistols are upgraded in the Assembly, giving him a specialized ammo type such as Venom Rounds will let him spread status effect on multiple enemies, and Talon Rounds can synergize very well with his high critical chance to boost his damage.
Abilities and Build
Starting Skill: Deadeye and Desperado
Deadeye is a simple active skill that makes Blueblood take a shot with lower hit chance but greater damage. If your hit chance is superior to 90% when using Deadeye, it is often worth it to try to take the shot and inflict greater damage than with his normal attack.
Desperado is Blueblood main trait, and lets him be able to shoot twice in a round, or use his first action to shoot at someone without ending his turn. As such, Desperado function like a free Reflex Grip for Blueblood and open up his action economy to versatility.
Deputy Agent: Lancer Shot
A rather straightforward Breach skill. Lancer shot makes Blueblood pulls out his Lancer pistol and shoot at an enemy during a breach standoff, negating all cover bonus of his target. It is more useful during the early game, where the Lancer pistol has the same damage as his main weapon, and quickly loses its edge as Blueblood Aim improves and you upgrade his main gun damage. Nonetheless, it can be useful to finish off a troublesome aggressive enemy hiding out behind full cover.
Field Agent: Warm Welcome or Ever Vigilant
Warm Welcome makes the first bullet of every clip able to disorient a target, which can shut off a Dominator mind control or a Necromancer Psi zombie revival. It can lead to a bit of micro intensive gameplay if you combine it with an auto-loader or Blueblood ultimate training option to reload and use the disorienting bullet across multiple enemies.
Ever Vigilant makes Blueblood automatically enter total Overwatch if his last action is spent moving, including using Subdue or dashing to far away cover. This overwatch function the same as the one you can get from breaching, and cover the entire field. Ever Vigilant can make Blueblood particularly useful during hostage extraction missions or when you need to defend against multiple waves, as he will be able to shoot at enemies regardless of their point of entry.
In my opinion, Ever Vigilant is the better perk of the two. If disorienting is a pretty useful status effect, being able to enter Overwatch at the end of a movement action makes Blueblood more efficient at covering his squad's advance. Be mindful that Ever Vigilant will not work against Ronin, as their Lightning Reflex will make any reaction shot against them automatically miss.
Special Agent: Phase Lance
Phase Lance is one of Blueblood signature skill. This active skill makes the by-the-book cops pull out his Lancer Pistol and fire in a straight line, ignoring both line of sight and bypassing cover bonus to automatically hit everything in its path. Phase Lance can be used every 3 turn, but will end the turn if used as Blueblood's first action. It's a great finisher skill and by giving Blueblood a better angle, can lead to impressive damage number across multiple enemies.
By reaching this rank, Blueblood can undergo training that will add +15 to his crit chance. This will make him a prime candidate to use Talon Rounds to give a comfortable boost to his overall damage.
Senior Agent: Fond Farewell or Cascade Lance
Fond Farewell is a passive ability that makes every last shot of each clip deal double damage. While it seems nice on paper, keep in mind that most firefight will end before Blueblood runs out of ammo, and some enemies can disable Blueblood weapon to force him to reload to full. It is a very situational skill that is hard to put in practice and can lead to great disappointment and potential depression if the last shot of his clip is spent missing a 98% shot.
Cascade Lance upgrade the Phase Lance skill to ramp up damage for each enemy hit in a single blast. By making sure Blueblood is well positioned, the Cascade Lance can lead to impressive damage number if he can manage to catch at least three people in the blast.
There is no contest for this skill choice, Cascade Lance wins by far by making one of Blueblood signature skill even better. As Phase Lance is a guaranteed hit every three three turns, you can inflict good damage upon multiple enemies. If you are feeling mischievous, use an allied Agent like Axiom or Zephyr as the first "target" of the Phase lance, so that the enemy behind Blueblood's ally takes the full brunt of the upgraded damage.
Principal Agent: Faceoff
Faceoff is a one-use active skill that makes Blueblood fire once at every enemy in his line of sight until he runs out of ammo. This is a great skill to use in the opening turn to quickly wound many enemies and inflict status effect upon them by using specialized ammo type, but be mindful that Faceoff tends to come with a hefty aim debuff which can lead to many misses in a row.
By reaching this rank, Blueblood can undergo training to unlock Quick Reload which makes all of his reloads be free actions. This effectively gives him an natural auto-loader, and makes him scoff at a Codex psi bomb, a hitman weapon disabling or a Ronin disarming strike. It is not necessarily a vital training to undergo, but it is a very helpful one.
Synergies and Favored Enemies
Blueblood can synergize pretty well with Axiom as both of their good action economy complements each other. Paired with Terminal, he can be able to shoot 4 time in a single round. All in all, Blueblood is a versatile character that will fit well in any team composition.
Be mindful that early game, the high armor of Grey Phoenix mercenaries will protect them against Blueblood damage. In the same vein, Sacred Coil tends to field many enemies in a single encounter, which can lead to appealing target for his Phase lancer skill.
Try to give Blueblood A.P Round as soon as possible, and you won't regret it.
Final Ranking: B
Blueblood is a straightforward offensive character that function pretty well in many team composition. His good action economy makes him be able to deal good damage across the board but he is still gimped by the fact that you need to dedicate precious time to upgrade pistols in the Assembly. He is somewhat a late bloomer character and needs some time to unlock his more powerful skill, but come late game Blueblood can get really powerful.
This gentle giant of a man is Chimera Squad resident demolition expert. As such, he has access to many explosive options when it comes to deal with the enemy factions. Claymore needs proper care and some clairvoyance when it comes to using his skills, as improper use of them can lead to devastating collateral damage and can lead to civilian death.
Claymore is a shotgun wielding character that benefits well from his weapon high base damage. However, he will spend most of his time chucking explosives everywhere. Both legendary shotgun can suit his playstyle, but try to remember that he tends to stay in the backline compared to Axiom and Godmother.
As such, it might be a good idea to give Claymore a Reflex Grip to let him shoot as his first action and use his sticky bomb to finish off a wounded enemy. A good Scope can help Claymore shoot accurately at enemies from his position in the backline, and a Stock is a good option to consider if you want him to be able to deal consistent damage even if he miss his shot.
Claymore is a good candidate for a Plated Vest to stack up on Armor, and a Hazmat Vest can potentially be used to give the same effect of one of his skill.
Claymore's main power comes from the utility item you give him. He makes of course excellent use of the various grenades you come across, offensives and defensives ones.
I would personally recommend giving him Acid Grenades if you want to deal consistent damage, or outfitting him with Shock Grenades if you want to be able to inflict stun reliably across a large radius and deal with robotic enemies easily.
Consider giving him Tranq Rounds to render enemies unconscious in the early game, to boost your Intel income a little bit. A medikit can also be used to replace a specialized ammo type and give him a possibility to heal himself during emergencies.
Abilities and Build
Starting Skill: Shrapnel bomb
Shrapnel bomb is a powerful active skill on a 1 round cooldown that let Claymore chuck a wide radius explosive charge that detonate after about 3 or 4 turn down the timeline. This is Claymore's bread and butter, and early game will help him deal consistent 4 pip of damage across the board if you shoot at the charge before the enemies have time to get away from it. However, be mindful about deploying a Shrapnel bomb is many civilians are present on the field, as an enemy can sometimes force the civilians to move into the blast radius of one of your bomb.
Deputy Agent: Concussive Charge
Concussive Charge is a breach-skill and is effectively an upgraded Breaching Charge item you can use to open up walls and use alternative point of entry for encounters. It deal a small amount of damage if enemies are very close to the point of detonation and most importantly rupture them, leading to double damage against them during the ensuing shootout. Use it if the occasion present itself, as the rupture status can really help in dealing with enemies quickly and efficiently.
Field Agent: Fortitude or Improvised Explosives
Fortitude is a passive ability that makes Claymore immune to all types of grenades (the one thrown by Shrike's Mutton Bombers and Sacred Coil Purifier Incendiary) as well as making him immune to environmental hazards, such as Acid, Poison or Fire. It doesn't make Claymore immune to car or barrel explosion, however, or at least during my testing he was still damaged by the explosions.
Improvised Explosives let Claymore regenerate one charge for a carried grenade at the end of each encounter. This means that Claymore will always be able to chuck grenade at the beginning of each encounter, which is very useful on the long 3 encounters missions where you don't can use your gear with reckless abandon.
There is no context in my opinion, Improvised Explosives is the better perk between the two. A Hazard Vest can be equipped on Claymore to grant him the immunity to status effect, and grenade wielding are too rare to warrant a perk dedicated to countering their attack. Being able to use grenades for each encounter will lead to consistent damage or utility, especially when using a powerful grenade type such as Shock Grenades to stun and destroy robots or Turncoat Grenades to make your foes fight between each others.
Special Agent: Sticky Grenade
Claymore's second signature skill, Sticky grenade is an active skill that will makes Claymore throw a sticky grenade upon any enemy in his field of view, including enemies too far away to shoot with his shotgun or hidden behind full cover. It is also a guaranteed source of damage as the Sticky Grenade will always succeed in connecting with the enemy. Once stuck, the targeted foe will enter a "falling back" state where they will move to a new location. This new location can be "another enemy", an empty square, near an explosive barrel for maximum hilarity, an innocent civilian or even your own Agents. Therefore, be mindful when deploying Sticky Grenades and try to aim for the furthest enemy in the encounter, to reduce the risk of them doing a kamikaze run toward your line.
Sticky grenade can also be combined with another Agent's Overwatch to force your target to trigger an allied agent Overwatch during their falling back phase, doubling the damage and often leading to a quick kill.
Upon reaching this rank, a new training unlocks for Claymore that lets him gain 1 point of armor. This is a worthwhile training to undergo, as armor is one of the best and most consistent way to mitigate damage and will make Claymore slightly tankier than his other human teammates.
Senior Agent: Heavy Shrapnel or Impending Doom
Heavy Shrapnel upgrade Claymore's signature Shrapnel bomb to be able to damage all enemies in its blast radius, regardless of their cover. By default, an enemy hiding behind a half cover would be protected for the blast, and you would need to "flank" them with the bomb to damage them. With this perk, you can do consistent and reliable damage across the board, regardless of your foes position. As long as they are in the blast radius of the shrapnel bomb, they will be damaged.
Impending Doom upgrade Shrapnel bomb to inflict the Rupture status effect upon all enemies that are within the bomb's radius when it lands, which mean they are ruptured before the bomb even explode. This means that you can use Claymore to reliably inflict rupture upon a wide radius of enemies, doubling the damage upon the affected enemies. Shrapnel bomb then becomes less of an offensive skill and more of a debuffer, where you care less about the bomb explosion and more about making that tough Berserker really vulnerable to Claymore's shotgun.
This is a tough call. Both of the perks are good in their own way. I would say that Impending Doom wins by a very short lead by helping Claymore inflict Rupture across a wide radius of enemy, which can be used by the other Agents to quickly take down bunched up groups of enemies. Heavy Shrapnel is a viable alternative, but Impending Doom status effect combo very well if you use one of Claymore's own utility grenade to detonate the Shrapnel bomb, and that's a lot of damage coming your foes' way.
Principal Agent: Barrage upgrade both Shrapnel Bomb and Sticky Grenade to do +1 Damage and stop those skills from ending Claymore's turn. Additionally, Shrapnel Bomb can be used more than once, and this can help Claymore setup impressive explosive kill zone where one Shrapnel bomb will detonate another. A good strategy upon reaching this rank is throwing one Shrapnel Bomb on a group of enemies, detonating it with one of Claymore's grenade, then finishing off the wounded with a Sticky Grenade or laying down another Shrapnel Bomb to either force your enemies to move or kill them outright.
The radius of the Shock Grenade is the same as the Shrapnel Bomb blast radius, meaning you can reliable stun and damage enemies by planting the bomb first and detonating it with the Shock grenade once you unlock this perk.
By reaching this rank, Claymore unlocks a new training that grants him Heavy Ordnance which make him bring two grenades for each encounters. Note that it seems that the second grenade will not recharge even if you picked Improvised Explosives. This is a great perk to have, so send Claymore to training as soon as possible to benefit of the possibility of throwing two Shock grenades and potentially stunning the entire enemy roster for the encounter.
Synergies and Favored Enemies
Claymore can work well with character that can entrench and form a good defensive line. Patchwork and Terminal can provide useful synergies to Claymore many area of effect skills, and Verge can provide a valuable help by stunning an enemy to make it a prime target to a safe and secure Sticky Bomb. All of them are units that don't need to move much to be efficient, which can help form a really solid line.
Claymore can works pretty well against all enemy factions, but his armor shredding capabilities can do wonders against the Grey Phenix mercenaries. If you kit him out with Shock Grenades, he becomes hilariously powerful against the Sacred Coil he can reliably down MEC in one turn and make Chryssalids group blow up.
Final Ranking: B
The only thing stopping Claymore from reaching the A rank is his very low mobility. During hostage extraction mission he will often lag behind and be unable to provide explosive covering fire with his Shrapnel grenade while he run to the extraction point. He is nonetheless a very strong addition to any team and his explosive can provide a reliable and consistent source of damage across the entire game. Just remember to be especially careful when there is a lot of civilians in play, as a panicked civilian can lead to devastating collateral damage.