Preparations for the ITS After Dark event at GenCon continue. This week we’ll be looking at the magic of Impersonators
More than any other tabletop miniatures game I’ve ever played, Infinity allows you to lie to your opponent. No, Infinity encourages you to lie to your opponent. It supports deception in a way that few other games do, with multiple rules mechanisms built into the game to provide loads of ways to keep your opponent guessing. In the Part 2 I talked a little bit about Hidden Deployment, which allows you to just not put a miniature on the table at all until you decide it’s time to reveal it.
While Hidden Deployment can be a super unpleasant surprise for your opponent, it’s still limited by your deployment zone. The Infiltration skill (which many troops with Hidden Deployment also come with) allows you to deploy up to the mid-line of the table without making a check, or – if you’re feeling frisky – allows you to deploy that model anywhere outside your opponent’s deployment zone by passing a PH test with a -3 modifier. Loads of troopers with the Camouflage special skill (which allows you to deploy as a marker rather than a model) also have Infiltration.
But if you really want to be a jerk, if you want to put your own troops directly into your opponent’s deployment zone before the game even starts (as opposed to using something like Combat Jump, which happens during play), then you need an Impersonator. Troops with this skill can be deployed anywhere outside your opponent’s deployment zone without making a check, and if they pass a straight WIP test can be deployed anywhere on the table – including within your opponent’s deployment zone.
The idea here is that using some kind of super-advanced holographic technology or voodoo-tech shape-shifting nanite nonsense, one of your troops can pose as an enemy. In our local games, we always jokingly referred to the resulting Impersonation markers (the official design for which come with an adorable smiley face on them) as “Bob, from Marketing.” Hey, if Infinity forces can include journalists (in the form of the 3-point War Correspondent), then why not marketing execs? It’s all about building a brand for your black-ops team, right?
As you can see from the markers, Impersonation has two levels representing the two possible game states the impersonating trooper may be in (IMP-1 and IMP-2 from here on out). The IMP-1 state represents a unit fully “blending in,” and imposes a -6 modifier to any enemy rolls to Discover that trooper. One of the key bits of Infinity is that if a unit fails in a Discover check, it can’t make another attempt against the same marker in the same turn. “Yup, that’s Bob from Marketing, no need to look his way again.” But crucially (and unlike all the other marker states), if a trooper in IMP-1 state is successfully Discovered, the model moves to IMP-2 state rather than being revealed and placed on the table. This means that it is somewhat order-intensive to scrutinize these jokers to the point where you can shoot at them. Fortunately for your opponent, the IMP-2 state comes with no penalties to attempts to Discover – apparently it’s easier to suss out that Bob from Marketing is out of place when you see he’s carrying a shotgun. Go figure.
Very few factions in Infinity have impersonators at all, and only two factions in the game (Haqqislam and the Combined Army) have access to the holy grail of Impersonation – the IMP-1 marker. It probably says something about me as a player that I started Infinity with Haqqislam and have moved to the Shasvastii (a sectorial within the Combined Army known for its sneakiness). What can I say, handing my opponent a courtesy list that is just a page full of lies (or worse, a blank sheet of paper) appeals to me on a visceral level.
Within the Shasvastii list, the Impersonator unit is the Speculo Killer:
In addition to the critical Impersonation skill, there are a number of things that stand out here. Like most models capable of entering a marker state, the Speculo Killer has Surprise Attack (-3), meaning that if you launch an attack from a marker state (either shooting or melee), your opponent’s rolls to oppose you suffer a -3 modifier. Dodge +1″ is good for covering distance and getting where you want to be when pirouetting away from enemy attacks. In my mind one of the stand-outs is the oft-overlooked Regeneration skill, which in this case gives an Unconscious Speculo Killer a 60% chance to stand back up at the end of each player’s turn. Combined with the Shasvastii skill mentioned last week (in which Unconscious troopers still contribute their points values toward dominating zones), it can make the Speculo Killer almost as troubleseme when unconscious.
At only Close Combat 22 and Martial Arts Level 2 the Speculo Killer is good at close combat, but not great at it, and as such you have to pick your targets carefully. If you go up against Musashi or Deadp…er, “Senor Massacre,” you’re likely to get stomped. But one of the things that makes the Speculo Killer so good is its Monofilament CCW. These things are ruthless, especially against models with more than one Wound or Structure point, because the opponent gets no benefit at all from armor, and must beat a score of 12 on a d20 to avoid going straight to dead. Yes, that means if you get hit there’s a 60% chance that you’re just toast. This makes the Speculo Killer a decent TAG hunter, which I suspect will come in handy in a 400 point game where everyone is forced to take more expensive stuff to spend the points while still staying under the 15-order limit.
With only three profiles there’s not a lot of choice. If you’re going to treat your Speculo Killer as a sacrificial piece and burn her up taking out a bunch of your opponent’s pieces in a blaze of glory, it’s hard to go wrong with the Boarding Shotgun. If you’re going to take a more measured approach, then perhaps the Combi Rifle is a better bet. But if you can spare the extra half a point of SWC, the Minelayer profile is the real dick move. The Minelayer skill lets you place a mine anywhere in your Zone-of-Control during deployment. That means if you pass your WIP roll, you can place a mine in your opponent’s deployment zone. This is hilarious good fun, especially if you end up going second. So let’s take a moment to weigh our options as it regards the mission set at hand.
Capture & Protect
One of the missions in this event is Capture & Protect. In this scenario, each player has a beacon, located at the center of the forward edge of their deployment zone. The goal is to grab the other player’s beacon while simultaneously keeping them from grabbing yours. You get 2 Objective Points every turn you control the enemy beacon, 2 Objective points if you control the enemy beacon at the end of the game, one Objective Point if your own beacon isn’t controlled by the enemy at the end of the game, and the game has one Classified Objective (though as a twist it can’t be one that references an HVT, as neither side deploys an HVT in this mission), for the ITS-standard maximum possible score of 10 Objective Points.
Critically, any trooper can pick up an opponent’s beacon (you don’t need to be any kind of specialist) but you cannot move your own beacon at all. Because of this, most players will camp the hell out of their own beacon and make it nigh unto unapproachable, with the game occasionally devolving to both players blasting the crap out of each other in the mid-field until late in Turn 3 when enough casualties have been caused that someone thinks they can make a break for it. One of the key problems with this mission is simply having enough orders to get to your opponent’s beacon in the first place (although this mission does give each player a free motorcycle trooper just to help with this a little bit).
Though the lack of exclusion zones means that Infiltrators and troopers with Combat Jump can get where they need to go in short order, both of these kinds of troopers are going to take significant risks getting to where they need to go (as Infiltrating past the mid-line or combat-dropping onto the table both require some kind of PH roll). But recall that Impersonators don’t if they’re staying outside the opponent’s deployment zone, so if you can set up your Impersonator close to the enemy beacon you can really reduce the number of orders you need to burn getting there. Additionally, as all of the Speculo Killer profiles have smoke, if you’re careful about you initial placement you can make it hard for the opponent to spot your approach without dedicating MSV troopers to babysitting their beacon.
Alternately, if you don’t think you can make it to the beacon itself, using your Impersonation skill to be in your opponent’s deployment zone may allow you to make a run at a key overwatch/support piece like a Total Reaction bot, Neurocinetics trooper, or likely Lieutenant.
Impersonators are probably the most dangerous in their Active Turn, where their ability to move unimpeded and set up beneficial trades is most easily taken advantage of. In the Reactive Turn their capabilities are much more limited, but the need to Discover them twice (in separate orders, mind) in order to directly engage them means they can be a huge order-sink for your opponent. I’ve had opponents spend as many as 6 Regular Orders digging out an inconveniently-positioned Impersonator. Sure, I ultimately lost the model and didn’t even kill any of my opponent’s troopers in the process, but orders are a precious resource in Infinity, so that trade was absolutely worth it.
Using Impersonators can be tricky, however, and good players will anticipate all of the places you can put one and cover those locations/approaches appropriately. And how aggressively you deploy will be dictated by whether you’re going first or second. But for only 32-34 points, the ability to frustrate your opponent can be cheap at twice the price if you play it right.
Unlike my dour-looking Hassassin Fiday, the Speculo Killer mini is female (ostensibly, if greebly-aliens-in-disguise can be gendered that is), so “Bob from Marketing” seemed somehow inappropriate. But among my regular group, “Karen from Sales” seems to have stuck. She even has the haircut.
I kept with the white-and-two-tone-blue color scheme I have used with all my other Shasvastii, but this time added a mottled leather to the mix for her duster. Makes her blend in more among the humans, see? For the skin, the rest of my Shasvastii have a sort of mottled grey-pink color. I wanted to do a variation on that theme but more human(ish), so I did a very pale, very pink flesh-tone (roughly 1:1 VMC Salmon Rose and VMC White as a base, highlighted with a 1:2 mix of the same colors). I then washed this with Citadel Carroburg Crimson, paying special attention to the eye sockets. The result was a skin tone that looks simultaneously pale and somewhat bruised. Combined with pupilless eyes done in an off yellow (VMC Buff) and bleach-blonde hair that’s a little too blonde, I feel like she is comfortably (or perhaps uncomfortably?) in the Uncanny Valley, which is exactly where I wanted her. All that was left was her gaping maw (done in a couple of Citadel reds, with nasty, yellowed teeth picked out in VMC Buff).
Disturbing thought for the day: The existence of the Uncanny Valley implies that at some point during mankind’s evolution there was a reason to fear something that looked human but wasn’t.
With this model complete, my total for painted and tournament-ready Shasvastii rises to almost 300/400 points. I’m getting there!
Grinding it out
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