Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Infinity - Secondary Unit Roles

Welcome to the second part of my series about list building in Infinity.

In part one I wrote about the primary roles that I tend to build lists around. If you haven't read it then I recommend that you go take a look now as I'll be referencing it quite a bit.

There are clearly many units that don't fit into the roles I've previously described, so this time I'll be talking about secondary roles which should cover most of the outstanding units. Understanding these roles and knowing why you are taking a particular unit can be very helpful for making a cohesive and competent force. Not only that but it can help you determine weaknesses in your opponent's armies too.

Once again there is a disclaimer: These aren't hard and fast rules and many units can fit into multiple roles or may not appear to fit any - but this is good place to start. All examples are assuming a 300 point army built for ITS missions.

Please enjoy some pictures of March's releases from Corvus Belli: Does anyone else find the cactus weirdly cute?

Secondary Assault 

Example Units: Hexa, Zuyong Invincible, Loup-Garou, Odalisque, Grenzer, Rodok, Myrmidon, Sakiel

What are they?
Secondary Assaults are a mix of Assault and Guard.

They are cheaper and have weaker weaponry or have fewer skills compared to the Close/Ranged Assaults I've talked about previously . More specifically I'd describe them as having a big gun but no special capability offensively/defensively or, vice-versa, some kind of special capability but just armed with a regular rifle or equivalent. Lower burst heavy weapons often end up in this role too.

They are somewhere between your standard Guard and a dedicated Assault unit in ability and should be priced appropriately - typically less than 25 points.

What do they do?
They are there to pick up the pieces when your Primary Assaults die, are unable to act or find themselves out of place.

Your Primary Assault units can't be everywhere at once, especially once they some of them start being killed off, and repositioning them can be expensive in terms of orders. The best way around that is to have a Secondary Assault (or two) who can quickly pick up the slack.

Secondary Assaults won't always get involved in a game so may find themselves sitting at the back and just providing orders. This is fine. If you aren't needing to use them then the game is probably going well! Like Guards they benefit from being put on Suppressive Fire early on.

How many should I have?
One to Four is probably ideal. Any more than that and you will likely be wasting points because you simply can't make use of them all in a single game. Any less and you might not have enough attacking units.

You could potentially have more if they also can be used in other roles - as Blockers for example. This is pretty typical in Ariadna 'camo-spam' armies.

Two Secondary Assaults is roughly equal to one regular Assault. So aim to have the equivalent of around two of each type of Assault (Close and Ranged) in your list.

What happens if I don't have any?
It's possible that you don't have enough attacking units and that your Primary Assaults have to shift around more (thereby wasting orders) to get where they need to be.

Not having any Secondary Assaults at all is often the sign of a 'top-heavy' army where this is a large distinction between the troops you actively use and your Guards. You may also have more Guards than normal. This isn't a bad thing but do think a bit more about protecting your weaker troops - maybe an extra Blocker would be called for.

Many AD Troops, including the Akalis, had their HMGs replaced with Spitfires in N3. 


What are they?
Snipers are a mix of Blocker and (Ranged) Assault

Snipers are, as you guessed it, armed almost exclusively with Sniper Rifles. They deserve their own specific mention as their huge +3 range and high damage potential makes them a really unique and dangerous unit.

Snipers often have some kind of defensive skill such as ODD or Camouflage which they can use in addition to range and cover to make themselves very hard to kill. Alternatively they may just be very cheap (such as Fusiliers or Ghulams) in which case they are pushed more towards the Blocker end of the spectrum.

Expensive 'Snipers' with no defensive skills, especially those with MSV2, are probably a (Secondary) Ranged Assault in spite of their weapon. However, they also have their uses for blocking models that want to advance under the cover of Smoke.

The reason is that defensive skills are always 'on' and the worst that happens is that your opponent negates that ability. This is really important for a reactive unit because you won't have a chance to pick your fights and want the greatest benefit against the greatest number of models. Also you just want to stall your opponent as long as possible - actually killing something is a secondary concern compared to just wasting their orders.

For active units such as Ranged Assaults, MSVs are more important because you want to win fights as quickly as possible against even the most well defended target and can actively hunt camouflaged models.

What do they do?
A Sniper's job is to dominate the table. They lock down firelanes and are often very difficult to kill efficiently. They force opponent's to take the long way round, to bring in smoke or to make risky attempts to deal with the unit. However once an enemy gets up close the Sniper is normally as good as dead.

They are one of the few troops who can regularly and reliably be used for AROs because they can use their extreme range and defensive skills to out-shoot opponents. They also incentivise the opponent to keep their troops in total cover more than they normally might.

How many should I have?
One or possibly two. The shake-up of range brackets in N3 gave Snipers a new lease of life and you ought to have a very good reason not to take one.

More than two however, especially for high-tech factions who have SWC-heavy MULTI weapons, is probably not worth it. There simply won't be enough good places to put them and they can leave you short on units who can engage at closer ranges.

What happens if I don't have any?
Then you'd better have a good plan for dealing with your opponent's Snipers as you probably won't have anything to match their range.

Consider taking an extra infiltrator or airborne deployment model to ensure you have some way of quickly getting within that magical 16" range where Snipers start to weep. Alternatively, take an extra Ranged Assault (preferably with a Multispectral Visor) in order to try and ensure that you have at least one who can get within 32" and avoid the range penalties.

Also, make sure you have enough other Blockers to keep your opponent in check.

Can Morats be made to look any more awesome? I don't think so.


Example Units: Shaolin, Irmandinho, Kum Biker, Morlock, Gaki/Preta

What are they?
Pawns are a mix of Guard and Blocker.

Pawns are expendable Irregular units typically armed with Chain Rifles that can be used to, rather suicidally, attack and defend without much fear of loss. Note that being Irregular (and cheap!) is obligatory for this role. If they were Regular then they'd be Guards instead.

They are often Impetuous and come with some kind of Smoke grenade as well.

What do they do?
Pawns are highly expendable threats that can also act as Blockers until an opponent dedicates some amount of resource to clearing them out. They are great for holding buildings or hiding round corners as their template weapons let them act like reusable mines.

Early in the game they can be deployed on the flanks to act as a great counter to Airborne Deployment and they can also be used to aggressively make Discover checks both actively and reactively.against camouflage markers. They also can be used to punish 'in-your-face' Fireteams, such as Myrmidons, that overextend into your half of the table.

Being cheap, Irregular and often Impetuous means that you are able to throw them into high-risk situations with barely a care in the world - you can't do anything else with their orders anyway.

Life insurance for Pawns is very expensive!

How many should I have?
Probably not more than four - even less than that if they are Extremely Impetuous. You certainly don't want to be spending lots of your orders just keeping them in check. The problem with Pawns is that they don't actually do much and having more of them doesn't really unlock extra strategies - except possibly smoke spam.

Having too many in your main combat group can also dangerously eat into your supply of regular orders.

What happens if I don't have any?
Not having Pawns isn't a big deal for most armies as long as you have some Blockers/Snipers for table control purposes and Guards to cover your DZ. They are just a 'nice-to-have'.

In some factions (Yu Jing, Ariadna, Haqqislam) not having any does mean that you may be bereft of (cheap) Smoke support though. Whether this is something you can accept is up to you.

I'm not sure what to make of Jaguars yet, they are cheap non-Pawn sources of smoke though.


What are they?
Support units are a varied bunch, but come in two main categories:

AI Beacons, Minesweeper/EVO/Servant/Repeater Remotes etc. - These units aren't taken for their ranged weapons but provide some other kind of benefit instead.

Units armed with Smart Missiles, Repeaters, Markers, Smoke Grenades etc. - These are all skills or pieces of equipment that you are paying points for but that don't directly contribute to killing enemy models or capturing objectives. Their usefulness is at least partly based on the rest of your list.

What do they do?
In both cases you are effectively purchasing upgrades for your army and are unlocking new abilities and strategies. Support units synergise with the rest of your army but on their own tend to be underwhelming.

How many should I have?
Support troops are never required, but add a bit of seasoning to your forces. Just be mindful not to water down your list too much - you want plenty of actual 'guns' to attack and ARO with after all!

What happens if I don't have any?
Nothing really. All these units are strictly optional, although I would recommend taking Servant Remotes where possible and some kind of Repeater coverage is useful for a hacker-centric army.

Putting It All Together

One interesting point of note is that profiles which fall completely outside of all of these roles tend to be much maligned. Models such as the Pheasant Agent, Moblot, Atalanta and Riot Grrl are good examples here.

Some reasons why units can fall outside these roles include:
  • Assault skills with a Sniper weapon
  • Too expensive to be Secondary Assault but not strong enough to be a Primary.
  • Points cost bloated with special rules
When building a list, try and work out what role each of your models plays and how you intend to use them over the course of a game.

Right, I think it's time for another example list. This time I'll try my hand at Yu Jing (a faction I've never played before) to see if I can put together something workable based on the principles from these articles. Actual Yu Jing players, feel free to mock my decisions!

 Yu Jing | 11 models

Combat Group #1
 Yan Huo HRMC (54|2)
 Bao Sniper (30|1.5)
 Raiden HRL (19|1.5)

These three are our Ranged Assaults. The Yan Huo is Primary, the Raiden is clearly secondary and the Bao is a kind of middle-ground. 

I'm a little uncomfortable with the Bao as it is quite expensive, has an Assault skill (the MSV 2) but is armed with a Sniper's weapon. Unfortunately a Ninja was too expensive and our Guilang AVA was being used elsewhere so there wasn't room for a dedicated Sniper. It should be good for counter-Sniper work but it's very possible that it should be a Rui Shi instead.

 Daofei Hacker (59|0.5)
 Karakuri Mk12 (40|0)

We have two powerful Close Assaults, both Primary, who are tough beaters with decent weapons. Conveniently they are both specialists as well which is handy given that we expect them to be in the thick of it. Not only that but the Daofei has some Blocking skill because of his camouflage too.

 Guilang FO/Repeater (27|0)
 Guilang Minelayer  (26|0.5)

Next there is a pair of Guilangs which act as Blockers and are used to establish an early board presence. One of these is a specialist which can make a good use of the Infiltration ability and the Repeater pairs nicely with the Daofei Hacker.

They can both act as Secondary Close Assaults if called upon. Normally we wouldn't bother spending orders bringing rifles into range, but Infiltration means we won't have to! This results in the list having plenty of close range capability.

 Yisheng Doctor (15|0)
 Yaozao (3|0)
 Zhanshi Lieutenant (11|0)
 Zhanshi Combi (11|0)

We have three Guards - one of which is a specialist, one is our Lieutenant and one is a 'decoy'. They are a cheap way of bulking out the army and, along with the Karakuri, provide exactly four models to put into Suppressive Fire at once!

The Yisheng could be replaced with a Tokusetsu Butai if you wished to free up a point to turn the Minelayer Guilang into a second Forward Observer for missions which require more specialists.

Combat Group #2
 Shaolin Chain (5|0)

Lastly we have a lone Shaolin in a separate combat group. This extra Pawn is used as a disruptive element that can protect our vulnerable units from Airborne Deployment and provide a bit of smoke support for the army.

300/300 points | 6/6 swc

Overall the army leans a little towards Ranged Assaults and it relies on the durability of its four specialists to complete the mission. There is a decent amount of anti-camouflage ability and the army can comfortably engage at all ranges and with a variety of weapons.

It can deploy five camouflage markers at the start of the game, plenty enough to cause confusion and has a decent amount of infiltration which it can use to restrict an opponent's progress and to protect a vulnerable Lieutenant and the Ranged Assault elements.

I would like to have added an Airborne Deployment unit and an extra specialist (so probably a Tiger Soldier Paramedic/Hacker), but the points just didn't add up that way.

Is this a good or a bad army? Let me know what you think.

As always, I hope this has been useful or at least interesting. The third (and final?) article will be a general round-up of other list building advice and should show up sometime next week.


  1. I'm afraid I don't know Yu Jing well enough to comment on the example list, but I'm curious by your mention of the Riot Grrls... I'm starting to think about Bakunin Sectorial, and trying out a Riot Grrl link team. What are your thoughts on their stat line, both individually and in a Fireteam?

    1. A fair question. I don't mean to say they are useless or underpowered, just that newer players tend to benefit from taking units with clearly defined roles and focused stats/equipment.

      In Vanilla the Spitfire is an excellent model. It makes a good close Assault with a decent gun, MSV1, good PH for dodging mines/templates and two wounds. It also suffers the least from the bloat of Flash Grenades/Blitzens, so you'll never had dead equipment. They do have Frenzy unfortunately, but that just accounts for their cheapness.

      The other profiles are lackluster though as you just don't get enough 'bang' for your 30ish points. They aren't powerful enough to be good Close Assaults and they are too expensive to leave on the sidelines. I rarely see them end up in lists.

      In Bakunin they are more useful because the Riot Grrls are the only MSV available to the army and you also have the chance of linking them in order to ignore their Frenzy. They compete with Moderators and Moiras for link space, each of which brings something very different. (Does anybody take Custodier links?)

      I think a Link of them definitely could work. 10 Wounds of (effectively) PH16 models is hard to shift, but that will be over half your points and most of your SWC (assuming you want two Spitfires) gone. It's possible that a 3-man link might be worth trying out, maybe with a backup link of Moderators for when a Grrl dies. It's just a shame that there isn't a specialist profile to make the most of getting them stuck in and there isn't a Sniper/HMG to give them a long range option. You do get to support them with Avicenna though which is pretty tasty.

      If you aren't going to link them then consider just sticking to a Spitfire.

    2. Having done a few test lists, there's little reason not to take a second Spitfire, as your chances of getting many more SWC in once you've bought some specialists is minimal!

      I can also understand why you wouldn't necessarily put a Sniper or HMG onto a profile with frenzy, but it doesn't provide much flexibility to link team builds.

      The lack of specialists really does hurt. An Assault Hacker or a Forward Observer Riot Grrl would make me incredibly happy.

    3. That was my thinking, but it leaves you super short of weapons with a range over 24". If you've got a 5-Grrl link there's almost no reason not to have a second one though, like you said. I do think a 3 Grrl link merits testing though.

      If Riot Grrls had a couple more options then they would be really excellent in Bakunin. Hopefully they'll release some more one day. :)

  2. Thanks for your thoughts and time putting this together!