Friday, 24 October 2014

Infinity - Loss of Lieutenant and Retreat changes.

Over at Bell of Lost Souls there is an article about some of the recent N3 announcements that I feel it's worth talking about a bit more.

Two of the harshest parts of Infinity currently are the Loss of Lieutenant rules and the Retreat rules. Both of them are effectively crippling for an army, but that's all changing now. Just take a look at the chart below.

A game changer

So let's see how it compares with the way the game works currently and see if we can work out what effects it may have.

Loss of Lieutenant in N2

Currently in every turn which you start without having an Lt active you are reduced to having only two regular orders plus whatever impetuous orders you would normally get. Seems bad enough, except that it takes those two regular orders to enrol a new Lt. This means that you effectively 'skip a go' and your impetuous troops can't be reined in. This often signalled the end of the game for the affected player.

Religious troops (and by extension, Morats) become 'irregular' for the turn instead and retain their own orders in addition to the two regular orders you receive for being in LoL. Any combination of these orders could be used to allocate a new Lt.

Fireteams that are in LoL don't automatically break, but any model that uses its 'irregular' order will have to leave the link to do so and these 'irregular' orders can't be used to activate the entire link.

Loss of Lieutenant in N3

You no longer receive the two regular orders, but you do automatically get a new Lt at the start of the next turn - so that's a wash. Although it does mean you can't be in LoL in consecutive turns unless there are literally no models left that can accept the promotion! The really important change is that by default all your troops now simply change to irregular for the turn.

This is something I've long suggested as a sensible game mechanic. Your forces are disrupted, communications are chaotic and there are no orders being given out so everyone is forced to act on their own initiative. At the end of the turn, order is restored.

What we didn't know up until now is how this religious and Morat troops were affected by the changes. For religious it was simple (they don't get any special benefit) but Morats have a very important change, they aren't affected by LoL at all it seems. Similarly, 'Veteran Level 1' troops are not affected either. Currently Veteran is not a levelled skill and it just confers Valor: No Wound Incapacitation and Sixth Sense L2 and is only available to the Veteran Kazak. Expect this rule to be changes substantially and handed out more liberally in N3.

How this affects Fireteams we just don't yet know, although it could certainly be speculated that Morat (and Veteran?) Fireteams are unaffected by LoL as they retrain their Regular status. It's also possible that all Fireteams are unaffected - fluff-wise this might represent the fact that they can still communicate effectively between themselves - because currently there are no provisions in the rules for Instead. But this is all just assumptions.

New Retreat thresholds

Retreat in N2

Currently being in Retreat means that all troops become impetuous and all these impetuous orders must be made towards a player's own table edge. Otherwise, the models follow all the necessary impetuous rules (avoiding revealed mines, suppression fire corridors, etc.). Retreat kicks in once an army has lost over 60% of its starting points value and ITS games finish at the end of any turn in which a player started in Retreat.

Retreat in N3

First we have to point out that the Retreat threshold has changed to 75% casualties - currently it's unknown what it will be for Morats but it might be safe to assume that they now have the same threshold as everyone else. This stops shenanigans where Combined Army forces with a single Morat have higher retreat thresholds than anyone else. 

For normal and impetuous troops Retreat has become more punishing. They all become Irregular and enter the Retreat state. This makes them non combative (can't make attacks) but can still move and dodge.

Courageous and Remote Presence troops (so various elite forces, martial artists, cyborgs and robots) become irregular but don't have the same compulsions and can still act normally. Makes sense, they are either well trained professionals or artificial beings with no fear of death!

Lastly we get to the final tier, the we-don't-care brigade. Religious, Veteran and Morat troops are seemingly unaffected by Retreat!

I, for one, welcome our new Morat overlords. Image from the Infinity the Game website


So what does this mean for us?

Firstly, we should understand that this is still not the full picture, we still don't know if Courage will remain part of the Valor skill tree and we don't know what happens to impetuous troops that have Courage and are in Retreat, for instance.
  • ITS games will almost always go for the full three turns and, because LoL isn't as crippling, they will in fact be a 'full' three turns.
  • There will be reduced pressure to leave your opponent intact in ITS games as putting them into Retreat, and ending the game early, will be far more difficult. 75% casualties is remarkably hard to achieve if you are also trying to complete objectives. This also means that you won't be penalised for tackling the missions more aggressively.
  • Morat Aggression Force will receive a significant boost in ITS as they are now completely unfazed by seemingly everything. They are completely capable of acting normally in constant Loss of Lieutenant meaning that they can afford for their Lt to be packing the biggest gun possible just to make use of the extra order.
  • Shasvastii, assuming their own rules don't change substantially, will also be almost immune to Retreat. Outright killing 75% of a Shas list (including the Spawn Embryos) is rather tough even when you dedicate yourself to it.
  • Losing your Lieutenant is still bad and you don't want it to happen. Just because it isn't as devastating as it used to be doesn't mean you can throw your Lt into the fray without careful consideration.
  • Aggressive Lieutenants should see more play as a whole. This might mean that some previously underused Lt options will become more viable - particularly obvious Lts such as those with Strategos.
  • Courage becomes hugely important in Retreat situations. Some factions (such as PanO) will fall apart in Retreat whilst others (such as Aleph) can fight through it to some extent.
Overall I'm looking forward to these changes in N3, they should result in a lot more close-run ITS games and it will be far harder to lock a player out of the game early. I'm sure we can all agree that's a good thing.

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