Monday, 8 December 2014

List of the Week - Combined Army 'i0003 Style'

With Infinity 2nd edition getting the boot in the next week or so I thought I'd take the opportunity to write about one of the defining lists of the UK tournament scene.

Robin, i0003 to some, has blazed a trail across England this year and has posted excellent tournament results consistently. His force of choice? The Combined Army (...and Haqqislam ...and Yu Jing).

So now that ITS 2014 is all but over I thought I'd ask him to share with me a typical CA list from a recent event so I could try and break down the choices made and why the list works. Do note that this isn't a 'cookie cutter' force. I don't think the exact same list was ever played twice and tuning for the missions in a given tournament is important.

Ewww - weird hand-feet! - Image from Corvus Belli


 Combined Army | 20 models
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Combat Group #1
 Preta Chain (5|0)
 Preta Chain (5|0)
 Preta Chain (5|0)
 Preta Chain (5|0)
 Preta Chain (5|0)
 Preta Chain (5|0)
 Ikadron (9|0)
 Ikadron (9|0)
 Imetron (4|0)
 Imetron (4|0)
Combat Group #2
 Vector Operator HMG (35|1.5)
 Ko Dali (37|0)
 Daturazi Chain (14|0)
 Daturazi Chain (14|0)
 Shrouded Hacker (36|0.5)
 Shrouded Observer (27|0)
 Seed-Soldier Paramedic (18|0)
 Aswuang Lieutenant (25|1)
 Noctifer Spitfire (30|1.5)
 R-Drone Repeater (8|0)
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300/300 points | 4.5/6 swc
open with Aleph Toolbox  : http://goo.gl/3sA2G7


The Hungries and Support

No doubt the thing that stands out most is the six Pretas (which is actually admirably restrained). Formed into a combat group with the Imetrons and Ikadrons they form the vanguard of the army and, for a mere 56 points, the group is perfectly designed to make life very difficult for your opponents. There are three reasons why Pretas work so well.

Mines
When going first they can absolutely flood the midfield with mines. Their impetuousness and fast movement allows them to advance (up to four at a time with coordinated orders) and drop two mines each on the first turn. The Ikadrons and Imetrons allow the survivors of any incoming AROs extra orders to drop their remaining supplies of mines if needs be. So yes, this combat group alone can (theoretically) place sixteen (!) mines in a single turn. Try fighting through that.

More realistically they will only place one each as they will be using their second move value of six to close distance instead, allowing them to place a mine with their second order up to 30" across the board.

Chain Rifles
These little beasts of destruction are also packing Chain Rifles. This makes them excellent corner guards on turn 1 to stop early rushes or AD troops as well as making them a threat long after their supply of mines has been exhausted.

The fact that they carry these auto-hitting weapons means that they cannot be ignored until they have all been killed. Spending lots of orders killing five point models with high PH who can drop mines in ARO is a good way to waste most of a turn.

Dogged and Fast Movement
If a Preta wants to get somewhere then it probably will. Because of Dogged, special ammunition (Shock, T2, DA, EXP, Fire, Viral, Adhesive) are the only reliable ways to take one down in a single shot in ARO. Combined with being able to coordinate their movement to limit AROs (don't forget you can't split Burst in reaction) it is very difficult to contain them.

They also have a respectable PH of 13 which, combined with a 3" dodge move allows them to move significant distances in the reactive turn. Shooting one of them and having the other five dodge 3 inches closer is a scary experience!

Support
Their combat group is padded out with the cheapest regular orders available. Imetrons are cheap if somewhat unreliable and the Ikadrons are some of the best defensive units in the game.

The Ikadrons are armed with two light flamethrowers, flash pulse, 6-2 move and have repeaters for excellent hacking coverage. They also have the baggage skill which can be useful for Annihilation, Quadrant Control and Frontline.

Their loadout makes them excellent defence for the deployment zone and the two flamethrowers are great for clearing out any fireteams that get too close to your DZ.


MultiSpectral Visors

The main hitting power of the list comes from the Vector Operator and Ko Dali.

Vector Operator
This EM-vulnerable space-cockroach-banker can be used to punish models who try to set up for defensive AROs against the Pretas.

With MSV2 it can see through the smoke thrown by the Daturazi (more on them later) to gun down hapless defenders at long range. Super Jump allows it to find cover almost anywhere. Oh and it has Mimetism too. In many cases it will simply be impossible to hit a Vector Operator with an ARO.

Ko Dali
The Sepsitorised hero of Yu Jing is a deadly adversary. Her burst 5 Assault Pistols combined with her BS14 and MSV2 means that she will win almost all face-to-face rolls, although she has a bit of a vulnerability to template weapons. Using Protheion to pad out her Wounds she can rapidly turn into an unstoppable killing machine. Ko Dali is the perfect unit for making an opportunistic run on an exposed flank and can wreck an unsuspecting opponent.

She's also excellent at completing the Sabotage classified objective as she's packing D-Charges, which frees up the need to take an Engineer in the list.

All kinds of majestic. Infinity Artbook cover

Smoke

The two Daturazi in the list offer the smoke cover needed for the army to function at full effectiveness. Smoke lets the Pretas take safe impetuous moves, allows the Vector Operator to all but ignore AROs and blocks LoF to specialists needing to reach objectives or re-camouflage.

One of the defining features of ITS 2014 was the use of smoke cover and these 14 point warbands were among the best sources of it with their mighty PH of 14. Not only that but because they are Impetuous, if well positioned, they won't even use any of the armies order pool to get the smoke in place.


Specialists

One weakness of the list is the limited specialists, but this small selection of troops is still perfectly chosen.

Shrouded Hacker
The Hacker is required in order to take Ikadrons in the army and is well supported with three Repeaters - the two Ikadrons and an R-Drone. The unit is quite resilient with camouflage and an AutoMediKit although their actual hacking ability leaves quite a lot to be desired. Still, the difference between WIP 13 and WIP 14/15 when completing objectives is fairly minor and as ITS scenarios don't punish failure, other than with wasted orders, it really is sufficient. Data Scan is also one of the easiest classified to complete as it can be done on unconscious models and from out of LoF.

Shrouded Forward Observer
Pretty much everything about the hacker applies here too. Telemetry is another easy classified to complete as it can be retried indefinitely and it can be completed against unconscious targets.

Seed Soldier Paramedic
At first I was quite surprised to see this in the army instead of the Forward Observer variant which is something I would tend towards, but it actually makes a lot of sense.

This list features a lot of high PH models (The Daturazi with 14 and Pretas with 13) so there are plenty of potential targets to try and heal to complete the Experimental Drug objective.

Seed Soldiers are also an excellent way of wasting your opponent's orders as they count as full-height when camouflaged initially, but when discovered are only base-height. If they are deployed behind a low wall it is quite possible to make your opponent waste an order on a Discover check with them not being able to shoot the discovered Seed afterwards.


Second-Line Attackers

This is a term that is often used in D&D, where they are generally known as fighters instead of attackers, and I think it's something that's very applicable to Infinity. I would define a second-line attacker as one that is capable of winning face-to-face rolls fairly consistently but suffers from one or more deficiencies - either in Burst value, range bands, resilience, movement and/or other factors.

For instance, in PanO, a Knight of Montessa with Spitfire is a front-line attacker whereas a Fusilier with HMG is a second-line attacker. 

It's a bit of a nebulous concept and there are models that could fit into either camp, but they are a vital part of most armies. Your front-line attackers are the first to enter the fray (and are likely to take the brunt of any return fire) and you may well rely on them to do a lot of the work. But they can't be everywhere at once and they can get killed off which is what these second-line models are there for - to take up the slack.

Noctifer
The Noctifer is a very competent fighter. Armed with an ever-useful Spitfire it has the capability to kill most single-wound targets with an opening salvo from camouflage. I'm only really putting it into this category because in many games it is acting as backup for when the Pretas, Ko Dali and the Vector Operator aren't sufficient.

It is a reliable unit for attacking troops that have moved into the middle of the battlefield and it is excellent at picking off Rifle armed units at range. It also has Dogged which allows it to push an assault even after taking an unfortunate critical hit.

Aswuang Lieutenant
No slot is wasted in this list as even the Lt has the potential to take down heavy targets in a pinch. A camouflaged Adhesive Launcher is a serious threat and one that an opponent may not see coming. The Protheion skill also grants it Dogged which means it can be used quite offensively towards the end of the game once Loss of Lieutenant stops being an issue.

Defensively speaking it is a hard LT to pick out as it is likely to remain hidden among the numerous other camouflage markers for at least the first turn of the game.


Final Thoughts

This army exemplifies a lot of the features I talked about before. It has a whopping 28 orders to spend at the start of the game, forces lots of difficult choices for the opponent and is very resilient. The big downside to it is the lack of multi-wound models and limited amount of specialists. It's definitely a list that needs to be played with a certain degree of finesse.

It is extremely difficult to attack due to the Pretas/Ikadrons and the substantial number of camouflaged troops. Offensively it is devastating against anything short of a TAG (it is somewhat lacking in 'big guns'). The list is also perfectly capable of locking down swathes of the board in objective based missions, making it very difficult for opponents to score points.

Overall it's a super sweet army and one that gives plenty of room for opponents to make errors in judgement. With Ko Dali and the Noctifer potentially starting off-table and a variety of Camo markers you can feign a Skiavoros, Speculo Killer or even an Anathematic as your hold back. This can put a lot of pressure on your opponents deployment phase and can cause them to make mistakes or play too conservatively.

The list is not unbeatable by any means (killing the three specialists and the obvious Lieutenant model is a good way to start) but when played well can be extremely effective on the tabletop.

But with Pretas being overhauled, new camouflage and impetuous rules and the Exrah being removed from the range it doesn't look like this army will survive the transition to N3. So I know that I, for one, will be keen to see what Robin will show up with for the new season!

4 comments:

  1. Excellent list run-through and breakdown!

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    1. I'm glad you found it interesting. I'm planning to do reviews of more tournament lists once the 2015 season starts. :)

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  2. I won't miss you, second edition pretas!! I hope the sword of N3 hit you with all his power!! :P

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    1. I don't think many people will be sad to see them go. I really think the change from them having biomines to regular mines was a poor one. But don't worry Javier, they should be very different in N3!

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