Thursday, 24 December 2015

Infinity - Making an ITS List

Welcome to (a long overdue) part three about unit roles and list building for Infinity. If you haven't already then you may wish to check out parts one and two before reading on.

This final article in the series is going to be about putting together a capable list to take to an ITS event. It will include some general rules of thumb, strategies to look out for and common mistakes to avoid.

Once again there is a disclaimer: These aren't hard and fast rules and the suggestions below aren't set in stone - but they are a good place to start. They are just the musings of one person, so if you think I'm wrong about something (and I may well be)

All examples are assuming a 300 point army built for ITS missions and with no Spec Ops.

All image in this article are property of Corvus Belli.

Rules of Thumb

Take at Least One Full Combat Group
When starting out try and stick to the basics. Having a single full combat group will help you focus during the game and keep track of for AROs as you'll have less models to worry about. It also gives you the maximum amount of flexibility as to how you spend your orders.

As a baseline your main Combat Group should have at least eight Regular Orders in it. Too many Irregular Orders will mean that you will be left in situations where you can't activate models the models you need when you need them.

It's okay to have a smaller second combat group for Total Reaction remotes, Warcors, spare Guards, Snipers and so on but don't try and split your forces evenly across two even Combat Groups for now.

Cover the Main Roles
Make sure your army can fight effectively at all ranges, can act in an order efficient manner and can hinder your opponent. During a game you want plenty of flexibility and the ability to always engage the enemy on favourable terms.

While gimmicky armies that rely heavily on a single strategy can work, they are also prone to coming undone and losing disastrously.

Spend Your Points
This is a big one. I see a lot of people with four or five unspent points left in their army even when there is something more they could have taken. Upgrade one of your line troops to a specialist or to have a bigger gun, buy an AI Beacon or Servant Remote or hire a meatshield... err... I mean War Correspondent to fill out your ranks.

There is very rarely a legitimate reason to have three or more points left over.

the same is not necessarily true for SWC however. It's perfectly acceptable to have some left over, but if you've got more than a couple of SWC spare at 300 points then you may be lacking some big guns.

Everything Dies - Have Backup
Inevitably whoever you are most counting on in any given game will die to an unlucky critical hit (or three), so don't rely on a single unit to carry the day. Spreading the power of your list across multiple models not only makes your army more flexible but it also makes it harder for your opponent to choose what to target.

If you are going to take a very expensive centrepiece model then make sure it is supported appropriately. Bring Smoke cover if it has an MSV2 or better, have an Engineer/Doctor as appropriate and if it is your LT then try and take a Chain of Command unit as it is going to be the primary target in the game.

Protect your LT
Losing your Lieutenant is not as crippling as it used to be, but having all your troops being Irregular for a turn is far from ideal.

Have at least two models that could theoretically be your Lieutenant. Alternatively, hide him/her under a camouflage marker or have a Chain of Command model for backup. Having a significant contingent of Veterans/Morats can work too.

Many players will not actively hunt for your Lieutenant unless it is very obvious who it is, so a small amount of dissuasion can go a long way. This is the equivalent of having a lock on your front door. It's not there to keep out people who are really dedicated to ruining your day (they'll invest resources in killing every potential LT or kicking the door in as necessary). Instead, it's to keep away those who are just opportunists and looking for an easy win.

Have Enough of the Right Specialists
Typically four to five specialists is about right, although this number can vary depending on how survivable (Camo, multiple wounds) they are or how easily you think you can deliver them to their objectives (Infiltration, Smoke and so on).

You typically aren't going to get away with just having five Forward Observers either, you need some variety! Different missions reward the use of specific specialists and classified objectives require a good mix if you don't want to be reliant on securing the HVT.

Specialists that have some kind of deployment skill (Airborne Deployment, Infiltration, Forward Deployment) or fast movement (6-4 or better) are considered particularly valuable. Beware of missions that have exclusion zones however.

Build Both Lists Appropriately
You don't just have to make one list for an ITS tournament, you have to make two!

Both lists can be used any number of times at an event and you choose which to play with after meeting your opponent, knowing what faction they'll be playing, seeing the table and mission and after Classified Objectives have been decided.

Except in extreme cases (Biotechvore, Beaconland, Lifeblood) I would suggest that building lists that are only good at one or two of the missions is likely a mistake. You want as much flexibility in which list you take each game as possible so that you can make the best of any situation.

Expect the Unexpected

There are certain archetypes and strategies that you can almost guarantee to be represented at a tournament and it's important that you have at least a vague notion of how to deal with them.

It's worth building your lists with plans to defeat these strategies in mind, otherwise you could be spending a lot of time on your first turn and during deployment panicking about what to do!

This is a strategy most commonly used by Ariadna and the Shasvastii although many other factions can make a respectable attempt at it too. These armies have many camouflaged troops, sometimes with the Ambush and Minelayer skills and often with Infiltration, who can create confusing board states and take many orders to reveal and remove.

Multispectral Visors, Sensors and Fireteams with four or more members are all useful for easing the difficulty of Discover checks and template weapons of all varieties are useful for ignoring the penalties associated with attacking camouflaged units. A Spitfire with Multispectral Visor 2, for example, is a particularly good weapon as Infiltrating Camouflage users are likely to easily end up within your 24" effective range.

If you think you are up against mass-camouflage then consider opting to take the second turn in order to force the other player to move up, attack and voluntarily reveal his models. This could save you a few crucial orders that would otherwise be spent on Discover checks. Be warned though that your opponent may use this opportunity to snatch objectives and litter the battlefield with mines on his first turn!

This is the speciality of Steel Phalanx. It is not as sapping of orders as mass-camouflage, but it can be similarly frustrating to play against. Grenades, Chain Rifles and Flamethrowers are all good places to start and anything with a Multispectral Visor 2 (preferably a Sniper) is a great way of evening the score as it also ignores their ubiquitous Smoke Grenades.

Alpha Strike
There's a whole load of different strategies that fit under this heading and any faction can attempt it. They mostly revolve around your opponent trying to get a model into, or near, your deployment zone to start causing havoc and to take out vulnerable troops. Examples could be Dog Soliders, YuanYuans and other AD units, powerful HI such as Achilles, Impersonators, Oniwabans and Aragotos - all typically Close Assaults of some kind.

The best defence against it is having a strong backbone of Guards and Blockers to defend your deployment zone. In particular, template weapons on your Guards are a great way of dissuading an attack like this. Expendable ARO threats such as Warcors and Total Reaction remotes are also good at dissuading these kinds of attacks. When deploying try to have models covering the edges of the table against Airborne Deployment and even facing backwards to prevent drops directly into your DZ.

TAGs don't tend to see a huge amount of play in ITS because they aren't specialists and they eat up a big chunk of points. New range brackets for HMGs and the loss of Heavy Flamethrowers for many has meant that many of them have become dedicated Ranged Assaults rather than the deployment-zone-ravaging monsters they used to be.

However their rarity is no reason to be complacent as they do still crop up and it is best to be prepared. Broadly speaking, they die to the same things as every other unit in the game - lots of high Damage attacks and critical hits - but it is often worth having something big in your list just in case. Monofilament and Explosive weapons do a decent job of scaring TAGs, but even an average soldier with camouflage and a high burst gun can make a good go of it if they can catch the TAG out of cover.

Fireteams are exclusive to sectorial armies (plus Tohaa) and are practically guaranteed to be used in any faction that can take them. Not only that but some factions - Steel Phalanx, Qapu Khalqi, USAriadna and Tohaa - can take multiples.

Once again, template weapons of various kinds are a good way of breaking up Fireteams - they particularly fear weapons such as Missile/Rocket Launchers in ARO -  but strong Assault units will normally do the job if you can pick off members of the link one-by-one. Shotguns can also be devastating against them if you can catch multiple models under the template and force them all to either dodge, shoot or break the link.

The most important thing to be aware of is just how much ground they can cover with multiple models in just a few short orders. Expect your opponent to be able to reposition a large portion of their forces quickly.

Can you guess what's coming next?

Putting it all Together

I'll finish up with another example list for a faction I don't tend to play - this time PanOceania. Again, if you are a PanO player then please let me know what you think and how this list could be improved.

 Panoceania | 11 models

Combat Group #1
 Dragao (94|2.5)

We're going to bring out the big guns for this example. TAGs are extremely dangerous and, with a few exceptions, are conspicuously absent from the top tables of the UK tournament scene at the moment. They are generally considered to be too expensive and too limiting on the rest of your list.

But I like big stompy robots and so do you, so in it goes. The HRMC is a great gun and minces pretty much everything it is aimed at. Anything that shoots at Burst 5 is okay in my books.

 Nisse HMG (34|1.5)
 Hexa Spitfire (30|1.5)

Having said that, a TAG can't be everywhere at once (even with 6-4 Mov) and you'll eventually need other big guns to back him up.

Nisse are great for dealing with TO Snipers (and Combined Army Q Drones) who might otherwise trouble our TAG. His combination of MSV2, Mimetism  and a big gun is extremely potent. Be aware though that, unlike the sniper variant, this unit is not there for ARO purposes and you want to spend lots of time out of sight during your opponent's turns. He'll be invaluable against all forms of Camouflage as well.

The Hexa is a solid Close Assault that can go toe-to-toe with most enemy units and is a great candidate for suppressive fire. TO Camouflaged Spitfires are pretty uncommon and can shred all but the toughest units.

 Croc Man FO/Repeater (32|0)
 Croc Man Assault Hacker (36|0.5)

You don't tend to see Croc Men very often in PanO, possibly because their sculpts are quite dated now, but I think they are solid TO Camouflaged Infiltrators. They give us a couple of much-needed specialists and both have the capacity to drop mines as well.

They are both perfectly capable of dealing with line troops who may be hiding in your opponent's back lines and the Hacker also gives some measure of protection against enemy HI and TAGs.

 Fusilier Lt (10|0)
 Fusilier Combi (10|0)
 Auxilia FO (15|0)

Of course we can't have all these fantastic units without having some cannon-fodder... err I mean Guards in the mix too. A pair of Fusiliers hides our LT sufficiently and the Auxilia is great for defending against Airborne Deployment troops and is a specialist in his own right. The list is very light on templates so a Heavy Flamethrower is more than welcome. 

 Trauma-Doc Doctor (14|0)
 Palbot (3|0)
 Machinist Engineer (15|0)
 Palbot (3|0)

Without many points left to spend we'll add a couple of specialists and their robotic assistants.

While the Trauma Doc is much maligned due to her tendency to end the lives of her own troops, the ability to re-roll failed Doctor attempts using command tokens will keep her relevant.

The Machinist is there to fix the Dragao when it is inevitably blown up, Immobilised or Isolated. He also opens up the possibility of completing a number of different classified objectives.

Combat Group #2
 Warcor (3|0)

Last of all we have a War Correspondent. The list doesn't have much in the way of Blockers so having a unit that can ARO with impunity is handy. 


299/300 points | 6/6 swc
open with Army VI

So the list is complete and ready for battle. It contains a good mix of effective ranges (although lacks a dedicated sniper), has a sufficient amount of orders and specialists and doesn't have an overly exposed Lieutenant. It may not be the best of all possible PanO lists but it should be capable of holding its own.

Well, I hope that this has been helpful, now go take a look at some of the other strategy articles I've written - Command Tokens 101 and How to Win Games and Influence Outcomes.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you again. I plan on reading the two articles you mentioned at the end tomorrow.