Friday, November 30, 2012

Unpacking - Ariadna Roger Van Zant

Here is Ariadna's Roger Van Zant (and all of his arms!), courtesy of Dicebag over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - Ariadna Tankhunter Autocannon

Here is Ariadna's Tankhunter with the mighty Autocannon, courtesy of Dicebag over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - Ariadna Mormaer T2 Rifle

Here is Ariadna's Mormaer with T2 Rifle, courtesy of Dicebag over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - Haqqislam Khawarij

Here is Haqqislam's Khawarij, courtesy of Dicebag over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - Ariadna Kazak Doktor

Here is Ariadna's Kazak Doktor, courtesy of Dicebag over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - Haqqislam Hussein Al-Djabel

Here is Haqqislam's Hussein Al-Djabel, courtesy of Dicebag over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - Ariadna Cameronian

Here is Ariadna's Cameronian, courtesy of Dicebag over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - Haqqislam Azra'il Feuerbach

Here is Haqqislam's Azra'il with Feuerbach, courtesy of Dicebag over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - Ariadna Starter Box

Here is the Ariadna starter box, courtesy of Dicebag over on the Infinity forums!

Top row from left to right: Chasseur, Line Kazak, Veteran Kazak.
Bottom row from left to right: Line Kazak, Line Kazak, Highlander Grey.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Campaign: Paradiso - Ariadna Impressions 1

I played my first Campaign: Paradiso game last Friday, and it was a hell of a nail-biter.

By way of some explanation, I've chosen to stick with my first Infinity love - vanilla Ariadna.  We're playing a sort of hardcore mode, wherein you're locked into a faction (including sectorials) and characters of any kind can die for good if you fail the requisite rolls to save them with MEDEVAC and CUBEVAC.  This was chosen mostly as a handicap for the more experienced players in our area, but man...I'm already feeling the pain.  I was scared, for instance, of taking Covert Uxia or Valerya Gromoz because losing them in the first mission means that I will never see them again.  This also means that I am basically down any kind of hacking support, so I feel like I have to be super-aggressive when it comes to eliminating the enemy's hackers (who can invariably stop my attempts at winning by jamming the signal).  The first game felt like I had to be constantly on the offensive, because my opponent had access to options that just don't exist in the Ariadna toolkit.

That said, I had a lot of fun.  Here's a quick run-down of what I fielded and how I felt about it.  The Task Forces, by the way, are combat groups I indicated with coloured beads.  It made things a lot easier on everyone, including me!

Task Force Blue

Alfonso Padron - Irmandinho Smuggler (AP Rifle)
Status: KIA
Alfonso joined the Ariadna Expeditionary Force with the promise of phat booty.  He served his nation well, but was mercilessly mowed down by a Yu Jing war machine before he had a chance to collect.

This particular Irmandinho was an absolute dynamo.  I had deployed an Irmandinho on either side of the table just in case the Alien Info decided to be tricky, and good thing too...after the other Irmandinho discovered that the Alien Info was actually furthest away from him, Alfonso found that he was in the perfect position to recover the data.  My opponent had the location covered with a Keisotsu HMG, though, so I needed to spend orders on my Chasseur to clear the lane before Alfonso could reach the objective.  He eventually grabbed it and managed to survive a Tiger Soldier onslaught (thanks to his elevated Prone position and the selfless warning of my Spec Op's Alert ARO), but was coldly gunned down by a Su Jian before he could transmit.

Rating: 10/10.  Alfonso did his job in relatively few orders because of his Impetuous status, and served as a real bullet-magnet for my opponent's first turn.  A shiny gold star for you, Alfonso.

Lillianne DuGaul - Dozer
Status: Alive and Kicking
Lillianne was always good at breaking things.  After a short stint in a juvenile correction facility, she was offered the chance to do well by her country and receive combat engineer training to assist on the Paradiso front.  Now Lilliane has forgotten the thrill of destruction, but has a new thrill - running up-field to accomplish objectives in the face of enemy fire!

I honestly thought that I'd go into this scenario with my Irmandinhos ripping around the field and my Dozer just standing there doing nothing.  Lillianne picked up the slack near the end of the game, though, and recovered the Data from the fallen Irmandinho after a brave rush up to his position (I had deployed her around the middle, while the two smugglers were on my flanks).  She failed to send off the data immediately, as the enemy hacked her transmission, but I got in a few more attempts after slaying the enemy hacker with my Dog-Warrior.  Unfortunately, Lillianne didn't seem to be familiar with how data transfer devices work, so after 4 normal rolls (my last 4 orders before my opponent ran off the table), I still didn't manage to upload anything.

Rating: 7/10.  Lillianne grabbed the data to upload it, but in the end it didn't make much of a difference because I'd already scored the points for picking it up.  It was nice to have her around as a backup, though - not to mention she lets me field Traktor Muls (which didn't do anything, but don't tell Lillianne that!).

Bohdan Khmelnytsky - Intel
Status: KIA
Bohdan was named after a famous Eastern European hetman, and everyone in the Stavka had high hopes for him.  He didn't fail to disappoint, bravely warning his colleagues of enemy attack...but that heroic act was his last one.  Time for the Stavka to start training another "elite" troop...

I know I didn't have to use my Intel in the first game, but I wanted to at least have the model on the table.  Bohdan was pretty hidden, so I didn't anticipate any real altercations in his area of the battlefield.  My opponent, though, had other plans - a Tiger Soldier dropped down within his LoF, ready to blow my Irmandinho out of the water from behind (said Irmandinho was not within 8" to turn).  Instead of shooting the Tiger, which was closer than 8" away, I opted to Alert my troops (chiefly my engineer) so that the Tiger would have a much tougher time of things.  Bohdan failed the face-to-face that followed, and fell face-first into Paradiso dirt, dead as a doornail.  That's ok, though...there's plenty more where that came from.

Rating: 7/10.  I wasn't counting on Bohdan to do anything at all, and at least he managed to warn my Irmandinho (which survived the Tiger as a result) and buy me some time.

Odyn - Traktor Mul Uragan
Status: Running smoothy.
Odyn sat there, purring smoothly.  Lillianne gave it a look, and turned to her other work.  But Odyn was watching...oh yes, watching and waiting.  Soon, it would get its day in the sun.

I had a few Forward Observer models, but no real opportunities came up during the game.  Between rushing for the objectives and using my Chasseur to set a whole bunch of things on fire, my Uragan sat in the back of my lines, running on standby.

Rating: 5/10.  Really, it's not the Uragan's fault.  Still, I wish I could have gotten in some guided missile shots.

Dva - Traktor Mul Minesweeper
Status: Didn't even run out of gas.
Dva silently mocked its brother Uragan after the battle.  Sure, it had giant missiles, but did it get to use them?  No.

Dva was around basically as a Baggage backup for this scenario.  I didn't get the opportunity to take advantage of Baggage anyway, but it was nice to have around.

Rating: 7/10.  Dva did what it was supposed to do: hang around, provide an order, and give me Baggage.  Good times.

Task Force Red

Xoan Curro - Irmandinho Smuggler (+2 ARM)
Status: Relaxing in a bar somewhere.
Xoan Curro really hated his kinsman Alfonso Padron.  I mean, really hated him.  So when Alfonso signed up for the Ariadna Expeditionary Force, Xoan just had to do one better.  Now Alfonso is face-down in Paradiso dirt and Xoan is enjoying all the booze and women his paycheque can buy.

I deployed this particular smuggler on my far right flank, and my very first non-Impetuous order of the game was him scanning the console and finding out that the Alien Info was on the far side of the board.  After a little game of impetuous chicken with an Oniwaban (neither of them ever saw each other), the late game saw Xoan running across to the middle of the table and scanning one more console for +1OP.  Overall, Xoan scored me 2 points, so I'm not at all sad about his performance.

Rating: 8/10.  Xoan wasn't quite the order sink that his cousin was, but he managed to score me just as many OP.  He definitely gets a silver star for this one, and at least he lived to enjoy it...

Gleb Domashev - Tankhunter
Status: at the ammo depot, paying through the nose to replace his one fired Autocannon round.
Gleb is a career soldier.  After a long stint in the Line Kazak Corp, he reenlisted with the hopes of doing more for his country.  And in Ariadna, how much "more" can you get than an Autocannon?

I intended on using Gleb to mow down my opponent's heavier units, but he never really drew LoF to any of them.  He did nothing all game except move once and scare the daylights out of an enemy Tokusetsu with an ARO shot that went wild.  I don't even think the presence of the Autocannon made my opponent flinch, because he really felt that the objective crunch was on with my quick start.

Rating: 3/10.  On one hand, Gleb didn't really get to do what I wanted him to do.  On the other hand, he flubbed an ARO shot needing a 15 to hit (and probably rip the enemy Tokusetsu to pieces).

Osip Budanov - Line Kazak Lieutenant
Status: Drinking cough syrup to soothe his sore throat.
Osip was born to lead.  In fact, when he joined the Line Kazaks, they told him that a Lieutenant position awaited him some day.  With his booming voice and incredible ability to hide behind tall objects, Osip knew that they were right.

Osip basically stood steadfastly behind total cover and shouted orders all game long.  In other words, he did exactly what a non-combat Lieutenant should do.  If I never go into Loss of Lieutenant, my Lieutenant is doing his job right.  Enjoy the cough syrup, Osip: you've earned it.

Rating: 7/10: Osip didn't actually do anything, but I feel like it's not really a Lieutenant's job to "do" things so much as it is "stand there and don't die."  And at that job, Osip was a pro.

Mirren Abernathy - Wulver
Status: doing whatever it is Wulvers do after battle.  You can probably guess.
Mirren was a born killer.  Actually, he was a born quarter-breed, but that one-quarter was born to kill, so it sort of evened out.

Mirren was much like Gleb in this game.  Like Gleb, I planned on using Mirren as a counter-threat to blow up enemy units that stuck their noses out too far, but no such opportunity presented itself.  My opponent played really cautiously, and when there was a threat, either my Dog-Warrior or my Briscard dealt with it.  I love Wulvers and I would have liked to actually do stuff with Mirren in this game, but objectives come first.

Rating: 5/10.  Mirren basically stood there all game, polishing his Mk12.  The flank he was covering only had a very shy Oniwaban on it, and it would have taken too many orders to re-position him while scoring objectives at the same time.  At least he didn't miss a potentially game-winning shot, though.

S'hivy Pes - Dog-Face
Status: Licking his wounds and probably doing whatever Mirren's doing, too.
S'hivy Pes (Grey Dog) really only came along for the violence.  He knew that there were important secrets to be found on Paradiso, but leave that to the tech-heads, he figured.  Plus, he knew that enemy tech-heads would be chasing the same goals, so what better way to work out his aggression than by tearing apart a bunch of pretentious cyber-dweebs?

S'hivy Pes was my mother-effing MVP.  He protected the Alien Info objective, killed the Tiger Soldier menacing my lines, killed the Tokusetsu who almost managed to send off the data, killed the hacker who was preventing me from sending off the data, and...well, generally made life hell for my opponent by just being within 5-10" of the objective.  I was intensely happy with Pes' performance, especially after my Chasseur cleaned up the potential threats (HMG, Spitfire) to his health.  This is one Dog-Face who earned his R&R.

Rating: 10/10.  S'hivy Pes' order efficiency and utter refusal to die (even after taking 2 wounds) puts him in the gold star book for this game.

Jean Cornett - Chasseur FO
Status: KIA.
Jean Cornett always knew that he would die for his mother country.  He just didn't know he'd die worlds away, chewing on Paradiso dirt.  At least he managed to take an honour guard of enemies with him to Hell.

I saved Jean for my reserve deploy, and actually tried to infiltrate him despite the campaign's rather harsh infiltration penalties.  He scattered about 10", but it was a lateral scatter so I didn't mind too much.  I headed towards my opponent's deployment zone, dropping a few mines along the way (I didn't want to make things too easy!), and let loose with a flamethrower against a Keisotsu HMG and an Aragoto Spitfire.  The Keisotsu survived, only to miss with his ARO and take 3 Rifle bullets in the face on the very next order.  I spent the last of my orders on objectives, so Jean was left hiding behind a building...and on my opponent's next turn, the Su Jian came out and blasted him to pieces.  Jean's mine managed to deal a point of damage to the Su Jian, though.

Rating: 9/10.  This aggressive Chasseur really won me the tempo in this game.  I'm not sure if the mines he left behind were of any use (besides the one that hurt the Su Jian), but his destructive output definitely helped my Dog-Warrior cover the objective without the threat of heavy weapons looming over him.  The only thing that would have made Jean's performance better is if he had lived and burned the Su Jian to a crisp, but that's almost wishful thinking.  Jean definitely deserves a posthumous gold star.

Mori Kazuo - Briscard
Status: writing touching poems after the battle.
Mori Kazuo was a Nipponese defector who found love in the arms of a very boisterous French woman.  After meeting her family, he vowed to protect his newfound kin and way of life, even if it meant putting his own life on the line.

Kazuo is a Tokusetsu model that I used as a proxy for my Briscard Forward Observer, mostly because the actual Briscard is not out.  This guy mostly lurked around the back-field with Mirren and Gleb, but when the enemy Su Jian showed itself through Low-Vis, I knew that I had to seize the opportunity.  Using a cautious move, I managed to cross the Su Jian's LoF, gaining Cover and firing on it with my next order.  Since it had already sustained a wound from my Chasseur's mine, Kazuo's Marksman Rifle caused enough hurt to put the remote-heavy beyond the aid of enemy engineers.  After only one game with the Briscard, I have to say that I love the Marksmen Rifle/MSV1 combo.

Rating: 8/10.  Kazuo wasn't pivotal in my overall plan, but he did manage to get rid of the Su Jian that was giving me trouble with the objective.  He also proved to me that the Briscard is definitely a unit worth buying.

Kyle - Volunteer Chain Rifle
Status: cleaning up after the battle.
Kyle joined the Ariadna Expeditionary Force because his mother wanted him to.  He was always a timid boy, but with a beret pushed down on his head and a Chain Rifle thrust into his arms, what choice did he have?

Kyle basically just stood there wetting himself the entire battle.  He was supposed to be backing up Xoan, and I admit that the presence of a second Chain Rifle on that flank (opposite an Oniwaban) made me feel a little more comfortable, but I didn't end up spending a single order on Kyle the entire game.  Which, I guess, makes him a grade A cheerleader.

Rating: 6/10.  Kyle had an opportunity to nail an Oniwaban with his Chain Rifle, but I opted not to in favour of actually achieving objectives.  Still, the potential for automatic hits made Kyle seem a lot more useful than he actually was.  Oh yeah, and he was a 6 point order all game long.  That's a plus, right?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Survival Guide - Hard and Soft Counters (Part Three)

~The Problem~

The problem for this week is the AD/Infiltration surprise attack.  Surprise attacks are the order of the day in Infinity. After all, how can you react to threats you don't see coming? You already have to deal with multiple possible attack vectors because of the order system, and things just get trickier when you have to deal with models that have actual surprise capability. That's right, we're talking about Infiltrators (chiefly TO and those kept in Reserve) and AD units.

Time for some unorthodox diplomacy...

~Why is it a problem?~

Simply put, these units combine the element of surprise with a drastically more efficient order-to-action ratio. Your opponent could spend three to four orders moving his attacker into position, or he could spend one to bring down an AD troop. Infiltrators start further up the board – in some cases, much further than normal – saving the orders required to move a normal model towards the enemy. Because these troop types save on orders for movement, they can now spend all those orders on killing – and that is what makes rushes so deadly. It's true that there's only so much you can do to stop these rushes, but when your opponent has a lot of orders and a perfectly-placed model, you'll want every advantage you can get.

~Hard Counters~

Infiltrators and AD troops are similar in their order efficiency, but the counters to deal with them are actually pretty different. What works as a hard counter to an Infiltrator rush may not work as a hard counter to an AD insertion, and vice versa. I initially hesitated to write on this topic because I don't think it's necessarily an issue of hard versus soft counters, but I think there's enough here to merit at least a few hints that'll help you survive these rapid assaults.

Total Reaction/Neurocinetics: These are hard counters against non-Camo surprises. Every ARO your opponent doesn't want you to have is a good one, and they get even better when you get full burst. It's true that your opponent can use the active turn to set up a confrontation that's beneficial to him, but it's taking him orders to do this, which means that he'll have fewer orders to do everything else.

It's especially fun to see a wayward AD3 unit scattering and landing in full view of a Total Reaction/Neurocinetics model, only to be ripped to pieces by a full unopposed burst.

Let's be honest, though: your opponent is not going to let this happen very often. To get the most use out of your units, you need to place them in such a way that they cover possible entry zones. This is something we'll talk about later in the Model Positioning section.

Mines: Mines serve as hard counters to Camouflage of all kinds. In a game where reactions are key, models that limit reactions – like Camo units - are super-powerful. More powerful, though, are the pieces that trump this ability. Because Mines can react to Camo tokens (whether they move or shoot), they rob most Infiltration rushes of the element of surprise in two ways: first, they utterly bypass the “first strike” ability of combat camo; second, they force your opponent to spend orders bypassing the problem, which means fewer orders for the attack. Mines are just as capable dealing with AD as they are Camo, too: just place a Mine in a potential drop zone, and render it off-limits to most surprise attacks.

~Soft Counters~

Camo/TO: Use your opponent's advantages against him with Camo and TO Infiltrators of your own. The more you muddle the battlefield, the harder a time your opponent will have with what was supposed to be a simple surprise murder-death-kill. As I mentioned in a previous article, Camo versus Camo matchups are awful affairs – and this is exactly the kind of defensive position what you want your opponent to run into.

TO is extra-fun because you can use your hidden positions to throw a wrench into your opponent's surprise attack plans. While it's true that you might not want to reveal your TO on your opponent's turn (to give your opponent full burst against it in a situation of your opponent's choosing), sometimes it comes down to the simple fact that your opponent has not spent nearly enough orders for your liking and you have to do something about that. For example, they might be about to claim an objective or within range to kill one of your key pieces, and making them spend one or two more orders on a new target is just enough to make them think twice about their original plans.

As an aside: even though non-Camo Infiltrators seem a lot less dangerous, they can also soak up the orders your opponent was planning to spend on something else. Simply by being in the way, your infiltrators can provide a screen that makes your opponent burn orders on targets that simply aren't his priority.

Model Positioning: Since every ARO counts, you have to make sure that you maximize your number of AROs at every turn. Even if your reacting model is facing a very certain future as thin red mist, it's worth it if you can keep your opponent's surprise model from stomping all over the rest of your minis. This can be achieved as easily as having your models cover corners and watch each other's backs, but there's a bit more nuance to putting up a real resistance to AD and Infiltration pushes.

First, it's not just about covering angles. It's about covering angles in such a way that maximizes your bonuses while minimizing those of your opponent. If I have a very strong feeling that my opponent is going to drop an AD HMG unit somewhere, I want to position my defenders in such a way that they force a 0-8” confrontation – ideally with 0-8” +3 weapons of their own. CC ability comes into play here, because models with good PH may be making their Dodge FtF roll against a much higher target number than they would if they were shooting. Once your model gets into CC, the surprise rush suddenly needs to spend a lot more orders – and take a lot more risk – to be effective.

Second, you want to force bad firing positions. Most Infinity players will not be shooting at you from outside Cover unless they have no other choice, so your goal is to try to change this. Set up at angles that force your opponent to choose between firing without cover or taking multiple AROs. Make your opponent spend that extra order to turn the sharp corner to open fire, because it means a retreat (if your opponent is so inclined) will also take an extra order they may not be willing to spend. This obviously comes down to how cautious an opponent you are facing, but reading your opponent is all part of the game. If I know, for instance, that my opponent is going to go balls-out with his Infiltrator and not really care if it survives, I know that this particular order-drain tactic probably won't have much effect. If I know that my opponent is really careful about each model and wants them all to survive (ideally), then this tactic suddenly becomes more useful.

Third, you want to surround your biggest threats with layers of ablative armour. In other words, make it a pain in the ass to get to them. Maybe you've got Mines in the way. Maybe there's a sacrificial lamb that'll make your opponent's Infiltrator de-Camo before he wants to. Maybe it's something as simple as forcing your opponent to answer every ARO, no matter how trivial, so that it's just impossible to reach your key models with the orders he has left. In short, make your opponent spend so much time peeling the onion that by the time they get to the centre, the centre has readied its fully-automatic weapons and has developed a thirst for blood.

Fourth, you want to cover possible entry zones. Maybe there's an open area that looks like a juicy landing zone, or maybe a particular table edge looks like it might be really handy for launching surprise attacks. Hell, maybe there's even a conspicuously empty part of table that might just be the nest of a TO Infiltrator.

If you can learn to pick up on these clues, you can place your models in such a way that surprise attacks are either stopped altogether (though this is rare) or are forced to surprise your lookout model rather than the model they actually wanted to gank. Think of how you would wage a war of surprise, and look out for locations that your opponent could use to do the same.

Fifth - and I cannot stress this enough – don't let your opponent get the chance to surprise you. Many players are so concerned with initial deployment that they forget about maintaining the integrity of their line as the game progresses. Preventing surprise attacks is not just a measure of good deployment: it's also a measure of how well your minis play as a team throughout the game. Cover each other's backs. Be within 8” to allow a Change Facing if your friend get shot. Drop Mines to cover key angles of approach. And, most of all, punish your opponent by crippling his order pool more than he cripples yours. After all, an AD surprise attack with 3 orders backing it is a lot less scary than the same attack with 8 orders behind it.

Admittedly, the best way to stop a surprise attack is to cripple its fuel in your active turn. This isn't always possible, though, and even if you follow the ideas laid out above, there are many times where your line will crumple under the violent onslaught of a well-placed Infiltrator or AD unit. AROs are nice to have, but when it's 4 dice against your one in a situation your opponent (not you) has chosen, they are often foregone conclusions. Critical hits certainly help, but they're not something to rely on.

~Final Notes~

I don't want to leave off on a negative point though, so here's some parting advice on how I view defending in Infinity. My very first rule of defence is this: make your opponent pay for each and every inch of ground. If he wants to pull a surprise attack, make sure that you make him spend as many orders as possible performing it, because that'll leave him with few orders to do anything else. There have been times where I've felt the wrath of an AD troop, and it was only the sacrifice of my dodging line infantry that left my opponent with one too few orders to accomplish his actual objective in the end. The brutal truth is that Infinity is a game of losses, and one of the best places to hit your opponent is his order economy, even if you're not actually killing his models.

As always, I hope that there was at least something little in this article for everyone.  I apologize for the lack of visuals this time, but hopefully there will be more the next time around.  Stay tuned for the next article, coming in a week or two!  In the meanwhile, I'll be working on padding the previous articles with some suggestions from Infinity forumites. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November Releases!

I'm a little pressed for time today, so I'll have to save the commentary until the meanwhile, here are the new Infinity releases for November!

Hassassin Muyibs (Haqqislam/Hassassin Bahram)

Hatail Spec-Ops (Tohaa)

Ajax the Great (Aleph)

Briscards with Heavy Rocket Launcher (Ariadna)

Scarface and Cordelia (Mercenaries)

Hac Tao with HMG (Yu Jing)

Moderator with Multi Sniper Rifle (Nomads/Bakunin)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Unpacking - Yu Jing Pangguling Remotes

Here are Yu Jing's Pangguling Remotes, front and back, courtesy of Claudius Sol over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - Yu Jing Support Box

Here is Yu Jing's Support Box (Zhanshi Mech-Engineer and Doctor, two Yaozao), front and back, courtesy of Claudius Sol over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - Yu Jing Domaru Chain Rifle

Here is Yu Jing's Domaru with Chain Rifle, front and back, courtesy of Claudius Sol over on the Infinity forums!

Unpacking - ALEPH Posthuman Proxies

Here are Aleph's Posthuman Proxies, courtesy of Siliconcreature over on the Infinity forums!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Survival Guide - Hard and Soft Counters (Part Two)

~The Problem~

The problem for this week is Camouflage, both normal and TO. Also included are the penalties to hit that arise from Camo and TO, and from the marker-less-but-still-deadly ODD.

~Why is it a problem?~

Camouflage is a constant source of agony for players because it breaks one of the fundamental promises of the Infinity system: the face-to-face roll. With Camo, you only ever get to react if you survive.

"I didn't even get to say ow..."
On top of this, Camo carries the added bonus of to-hit penalties, so even once the model is out of Camo, it's still a pain to gun down. It's even more of a pain when the penalty is TO or ODD's -6.

(As a brief aside: this article focuses chiefly on dealing with the marker kind of Camouflage, but I'll also touch on soft counters to the to-hit penalties of the above abilities.)

~Hard Counters~

The Multispectral Visor is, in many ways, a counter to Camo. The MSV3 can just plain see through markers, eliminating the need for any skill in dealing with the Camouflage mechanic. Sure, you have to maneuver the MSV3 around to hit models, but it usually isn't that hard. On top of this, each and every model with an MSV3 is a beast, meaning that they're great and terrible all on their own.

I don't usually engage in fair fights, but when I do...

The lower levels of the MSV are hard counters too, but not against Camouflage itself. Instead, these visors strip the Discover and to-hit penalty from the Camouflaged model, making it easy pickings as long as you can get out it out of its marker state. The MSV2 is the stronger choice here, as it negates all penalties to discover and to hit, full stop. The MSV1 does very little against anything higher than regular Camouflage and Mimetism, but it still acts as a hard counter against those skills. Overall, though, MSV2 and MSV1 are hard counters against the skills surrounding Camouflage, not Camouflage itself.

~Soft Counters~

Sometimes you just don't have a hard counter. Sometimes your hard counter has been killed, leaving you wondering how the hell you'll deal with that Camo horde. Sometimes your faction just doesn't have access to an MSV3, which will make other people wonder how exactly you get along without their most favourite toy ever – and why you would even bother to play a faction without it.

If any of these rings true for you, then don't worry: it's time to make those players eat their words. The MSV3 is the easiest way to deal with Camo, sure, but it's also the least skill-intensive. The more you learn to adapt to the battlefield – and the more you realize that you don't need certain toys to win – the better a player you will be.  So forget about the MSV3!  There are actually a number of ways to deal with oncoming Camo tokens, and they don't all involve high technology. These ways – your soft counters - include Direct Template weapons, the lower-level MSVs, the Sixth Sense and Mine blockade, and finally plain ol' tactical skill. Let's go through them one at a time, and then we'll put all the tricks together in the tactics section.

1) Direct Templates

Direct Template weapons are quite versatile when it comes to dealing with Camouflage. For starters, models carrying Direct Template weapons can make use of a very special order: Intuitive Fire. By declaring a long skill and passing an unmodified WIP roll, a direct template can target a marker. This isn't as easy to use as an MSV3 (you can't just point and shoot), but it offers you another tool for your kit.

Burninating the countryside...

Burninating the Ninjas!

Next, Direct Template weapons automatically hit their targets, forcing the enemy to Dodge if he wants to escape the damage roll. This directly bypasses all to-hit penalties that Camo, TO, and ODD bestow, making it a great weapon for hunting down those models that have dropped out of marker state. In short, direct templates don't discriminate: unless you dodge, you take an automatic hit. Most Camo models are not well-armoured, so even the humble Chain Rifle can be deadly.  Fire, of course, is even more deadly because it destroys Camo/TO/ODD, knocking the first two down to Mimetism.  And speaking of Mimetism...

2) Speculative Fire

Parabolic weapons like Grenade Launchers come with an interesting firing mode of their own.  By spending a long skill, you can fire your weapon over Cover and tag models that are either partially or fully in Cover.  Speculative Fire particularly shines against models with Mimetism/TO/ODD because they'll probably force you to take a penalty to hit them anyway.  By placing the centre of your template in such a way that there is no Cover between it and your enemy, you actually deny them of Cover altogether - this may seem like a tradeoff (-6 for Speculative Fire VS -3 Mimetism/-3 Cover, for instance), but remember that while the modifiers are the same, your opponent gets no bonus to his ARM roll.  Just keep in mind that you can't actually use Speculative Fire to "accidentally" catch a Camo marker in the blast radius if there's nothing there: there was no reason for you to shoot in that direction, and the game rules account for that.

But hey, suddenly those sneaky jerks aren't as tough as they thought, are they.  This isn't the only thing that helps against Mimetism, though: we also have...

3) MSVs

Now that you're familiar with the potential of direct template weapons, let's talk about the lower-level MSVs. We already know that they aren't as easy to use against Camo markers as their higher-tech cousin, but that doesn't mean you should write them off. For example, the MSV2 helps you Discover any level of marker without penalty: if it's on the board, you're rolling at even WIP at worst to Discover it. The MSV1 only affects regular Camo, but there is an awful lot of that in the game, making even this piece of equipment worth its weight in gold.

So I hear you've got a problem...

In the end, Camouflage markers thrive on making their opponents burn through orders trying to reveal them: if you fail with one model, you have to move on to another, which will probably end up costing way more orders than you bargained for. As a result, every little edge on your first Discover attempt is worth noting.

Once the marker is revealed, your visors double as hard-counters to utterly negate the to-hit penalties of the enemy. And hey, now your Direct Template weapons have targets to automatically hit. Remember, you don't only need to use one model to solve your problems: your visor can discover, and your warband can template right after.

4) Sixth Sense and Mine Blockades

Camoflage tokens thrive on making you burn orders, and by slamming you with first-strike attacks that are tremendously hard to defend against. Let's turn the tables on them and make them blow all their orders to get even a single good shot off, shall we?

Mines are an obvious advantage to have when you're coming up against Camo tokens. They take some foresight to use properly, but a well-placed minefield can stop a Camo onslaught in its tracks. After all, every order your opponent is spending on avoiding your mines is an order he is not spending on killing your troops or achieving the objective.

If positioned correctly, troops with Sixth Sense can act like pseudo-mines. They don't go off when Camo markers move, but they force the marker to make a decision about whether to stop and deal with the Sixth Sense model in a face-to-face roll or to keep moving and risk reprisal later. While it's true that models with the burst advantage typically have the upper hand, a model with Sixth Sense (and especially a model with Sixth Sense and a Direct Template weapon) will make your opponent think hard about taking certain avenues up the board. And, just to stress the point again, the more cautiously your opponent is moving, the less he's Camo-blitzing through your lines or toward the objective.

5) Tactics

Now that we've looked at some of the tools at our disposal, let's put them together with tactical movements to really put the easy-mode MSV3 to shame.

Your Priority: To Force Reactions
The best way to deal with a Camo token is to force it to react on your terms. Most savvy opponents won't make this easy, though, so the next-best thing is to force them to make some hard choices. Typically, these choices amount to “do I react and break Camo, or do I not?” Here are some ways you could potentially force a reaction.

1) Key Piece Aggression

Use your key pieces (heavy weapons, etc.) aggressively. They can work to force Camo reactions because your opponent knows that otherwise they'll go on to wreck other enemy models. By forcing your opponent to use his marker as a speedbump, you are denying him the freedom to use his Camo offensively. Pull your key piece back to safety if you can, though.

What I Would Do: risk the Camo marker. Sacrifice it to keep that heavy weapon at bay.

2) Direct Templates and Mines

Use models with multiple ways to reveal Camo markers. Models with Direct Template weapons shine here, because you can always fall back on Intuitive Fire if you fail to discover the marker you're chasing. Knowing that you have multiple chances to succeed using only one model might scare your opponent into a Camo reaction. This tactic can be used by any model with Mines as well, making it far more common than you'd expect: if you fail to discover an enemy marker, you can always try to lay a Mine – and Mines can react to Camo markers. Again, this takes an Intuitive Fire order, so it always helps to have a higher WIP model attempt it.

What I Would Do: If the opponent has already declared a first half (Move, for instance), I would stay put on the first order. If he has not, then I am expecting a Discover + Shoot, so if he sees me, I'm dead anyway – I'll shoot back with a Direct Template/lay a Mine, or try to Dodge out of sight to make things harder for him. I would stay put in the first situation because if I can force an Intuitive Attack, it means the opponent is using an extra order to kill my Camo marker. Any way you look at it, two chances to deprive me of Camo on your terms are two chances too many, so I am going to try to avoid that in every instance.

3) MSVs and High WIP Models

Moving an MSV or high WIP model into LoF of a Camo marker might also force a Camo reaction. Camo markers rely on the odds, hoping that the discover roll will fail and that you'll run out of discover vectors, or burn orders, or both. Models with lower-level MSVs can help to tip the odds in your favour, whether or not you actually intend to deal with the marker using that model.

What I Would Do: if the model is close enough, I will lay down a direct template or a Mine, if I have one. If not, I will get the hell out of sight, because the MSV model is well-equipped to both see me and see through my secondary defences.

4) Proximity

Your opponent wants to dictate engagements on his own terms, and Camo exemplifies this philosophy. The best way to deal with this is to put the opponent off-balance, and this often requires ballsy moves that your opponent isn't expecting. I'm not talking about dancing your models around in an open field without cover, having them scream “shoot me, shoot me!” as the second half of their order. No, I'm talking about pushing into your opponent's comfort zone. I'm talking about proximity.

One of the often-underestimated tactics that can force a Camo reaction is the proximity of your models to your opponent's. This tactic is related to Key Piece Aggression, but is far more circumstantial: your line infantry may not be packing a Spitfire, but if you could potentially use it to kill the AD troop your opponent just pulled back to safety behind a Camo position, you can bet they'll be thinking about a Camo reaction if they value that piece. The same goes for Infiltrators you have pushing towards the enemy's cheerleading line: he'll likely risk a Camo reaction if it means potentially saving his order pool. Punish him for it.

This tactic gets even better when your model potentially threatens both a Camo piece and another model, because now your opponent has to wonder if he should break Camo and gain ARO superiority or trust in his other model's single roll. This works best if you're using a relatively expendable model, of course, because someone stuck in this position probably isn't going to last longer than the encounter. A situation with two visible Camo markers is extra-interesting because now your opponent is forced to decide if he wants to break one to react (in which case you shoot it full of holes), break both to react (in which case you use other pieces to clean up the mess if/when your initial attacker bites the dust), or neither (in which case you get a free unopposed Discover roll, and your next order's first half can be “I Discover the other token...”, potentially making both enemy models eligible targets for your second half).

Proximity is one of those tactics that can really freak out newer players who rely too heavy on their toys. Experienced players deal better with being off-balance because they know how to use the tools at their disposal, but there are times where the best thing a mouse can do is admit that the cat has cornered it. Just remember: when using proximity to force a Camo reaction, always beware of potential Mines.

~Final Notes~

As a final note, I think it's really important to say that Camo markers generally suck at dealing with Camo markers. Because of the way Combat Camo works, your Discover roll will reveal you, and if you've already declared your first half (Move, for instance), then I now have an unopposed roll on your no-longer-marker. The situation changes slightly if you've finished your previous order and have started a new one, because now I'm reacting to your Discover...and if I reveal my marker, you will still have your shots. Basically, if you're using your Camo marker to deal with mine, you're not gaining the advantage of having a Camo model – and that's something you're paying for. Still, Infinity is about flexibility, so if you can clear a path to the objective or otherwise remove a pesky defender, sometimes you just have to use that Camo model, even though you might really not want to.

Anyway, I hope there was something in this article for everyone.  Next time, I'll talk about hard and soft counters to AD and Infiltration rushes.  Catch this article on November 23rd!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Unpacking - ALEPH Steel Phalanx (Assault Subsection) Starter Box

Here is ALEPH's Assault Subsection Starter Box, courtesy of Baiyuan over on the Infinity forums.

Agema Marksman

Thorakitai Chain Rifle

Myrmidon Hacker

Eudoros, Myrmidon Officer

Thorakitai Combi Rifle

Thorakitai Light Rocket Launcher

Unpacking - Combined Army Ikadron Batroids and Imetron

Here is the Combined Army's new EI-construction, the Ikadron Batroid, and the Imetron that accompanies it.  Both are presented front and back, and are courtesy of Ironmonger over on the Infinity forums.