In this week’s Infinity Tactics article, we’re covering Lieutenants – how to use them, how to protect yours, and how to take them down.
Today’s article comes from a reader question. One reader asks:
People working out who your lieutenant is seems a big deal. What are some good ways to hide which model it is?
One of the biggest choices in Infinity list building is deciding who is going to be your Lieutenant (LT). One of the major points of differentiation between various sectorials is the LT choices they have access to; some labour under the weight of terrible, non-synergistic choices while some thrive with profiles not available to vanilla.
Lieutenants are especially relevant in N4 with a minor but extremely meaningful change: Your Lieutenant’s willpower stat is now public information. This is a huge shift that negates a great number of plays that people could previously take to conceal their LT’s identity. It’s now much easier to figure out who to target, and much more important to ensure you have a plan for this critical area of the game.
To Lead From The Front
The first and foremost choice every list faces is: Are you going to have a combat lieutenant or not?
A combat lieutenant comes with an extra order – a critical asset in today’s constrained combat groups and loss of Limited Insertion. It allows you to put even more power behind your strongest piece which is already something that you were planning on babying due to its points cost. In an attack where one order is the difference between finishing the job and retreating in disgrace, combat LTs are extremely appealing.
The alternative is a backfield lieutenant – a cheap body whose job is to stay out of trouble. These may seem like budget picks but they come with their own considerations that make them more expensive than you might initially think. As backfield lieutenants are very squishy you need to invest in some form of protection from them – most commonly, multiple decoys. Moreover, you’ll likely spend at least two turns of the game not using that LT order.
Which one you take will depend enormously on what your faction has access to. I think overall the N4 metagame favours active combat lieutenants, but some factions just don’t have them so backfield lieutenants have to be accounted for.
In the finest traditions of 40K, the biggest dude can also be your warlord. There are a few ways to do this.
Artillery Lieutenant: This is a LT piece whose job is to engage in long range gunfights while never leaving your deployment zone, best exemplified by the Charontid MSV3 HMG profile in Combined Army. Because the piece isn’t committing deep into the enemy lines you can minimize risk and you can always find a use for that extra order in repositioning or suppressing overwatch elements. It’s rare that you’ll have a piece like this that can defend itself from close combat attacks as well to make extremely sure you’ve got it defended with close combat experts. You’re also kind of taking your life in your hands with this piece if you’re fighting, say, a Kamau Sniper who stands a good chance of just beating it in a sniper duel and killing it in reactive. Having a secondary long range gun, preferably a repairable total reaction remote, can save you from just PanO Losing on your first activation of the game.
(A PanO Loss is where you take a gunfight statistically weighted in your favour and it goes the other way, killing your critical piece in reactive.)
Sweeper Lieutenant: This is an aggressive mid-range assault piece that can take any fight in the game, of which Achilles is the exemplar. This piece needs to be, above all, tough. It needs to be able to take several hits without going down, threaten enemy close combat masters, engage in a variety of rangebands, and preferably be fast as well. High armour, many wounds, some kind of mimetism and close combat stats are all essential to a piece like this – it may likely be ending its turn away from the safety of your lines. This Lieutenant type is very likely to be Heavy Infantry so you need to pay special attention to how it’s going to survive getting Isolated – which will put your entire army into Loss of Lieutenant just the same as if it got killed outright.
Note that if you have a somewhat mediocre sweeper Lieutenant available to you it can still perform the role of late-game attack piece. Sun Tze is a piece who just doesn’t have the combat stats to go on attack runs by himself but on turn three he can take a couple of gunfights and stomp up into a position where he can use his huge health pool to avoid being dislodged.
Suicide Lieutenants: This is real hard to manage effectively so you’ve got to have a serious plan to back it up. Essentially this is a Sweeper LT who you send on a one-way attack run, going all out on the aggression until the piece dies or winds up with no orders deep in enemy territory. The enemy will then kill it immediately, but if it’s positioned well and tough enough, it can take them 4-5 orders to pull off if you’re lucky, which could be half their turn gone on top of the damage the LT inflicted on the way in. This kind of play works exceptionally well as a turn two play, where extremely aggressive use of your lieutenant can render the opponent’s second or final turn extremely disorganized and inefficient. This works because by placing your LT so aggressively you can bait an irresistible trap while either having a list that can mitigate the loss or buying enough board position with your attack so good that you can handle a loss of lieutenant turn where you just move and consolidate.
I used to run a list where I’d send Mobility Armour Joan of Arc in on turn 2 to inflict all the damage she could and end turn in suppressive fire somewhere inaccessible. You really need to understand how to handle a loss of lieutenant turn but it can be a lot less problematic than you might expect, especially if it’s happening on your terms.
TAG Lieutenants: Generally these function much the same as the first two categories, but more – and because they represent such massive point investments you absolutely have to get work done with them. The only special note I want to make here is if your TAG LT is possessed, and you cancel possession with a command token at the start of your turn you are not in Loss of Lieutenant as the command token check happens before the LoL check.
Hacker Lieutenants: A very good local player has been experimenting with these a lot. They feel degenerate, like they should instantly die to the first ninja killer hacker to de-cloak on the table, but it’s been proving harder than it sounds because low-shelf killer hackers have left the metagame and with a powerful repeater net they’ll likely have to engage the hacker LT and two of her friends at the same time – and it’s further made secure if the hacker in question is an Interventor or equivalently powerful category three hacker. These won’t be front line LT picks but can generally safely spend their LT order every turn.
Perhaps you don’t want to risk it all with a combat lieutenant. You could just play extremely courageously and have a single unsecured fusilier hanging out in the darkest corner or highest rooftop on the table while hoping nothing bad happens to her, but we live in a world with Fidays, Liu Xing and speculative fire so that’s betting your entire game on a coinflip. Here are some ways to increase the survivability of a fragile coward LT.
Decoys: One fusilier in the open is obvious, three is not. Oftentimes just having three valid choices pre-emptively shuts down assassination attacks. Opponents are often loath to spend 3+ orders and trade a 30 point attack piece for a 10 point pleb and a 1/3 chance of getting the right girl. This is the bare minimum and for factions who can put their backfield LT in a samey link team that supports a real gun or overwatch piece, often the correct one. If you have Holoprojector models, or especially holoprojector LTs, you can perform decoy tactics even with expensive sweeper models.
Veterans and Chain of Command: You need at least four veteran models on the table to make this a reliable play, but if you’re playing something like Morats or TAK you can endure the loss of a LT and still have an extremely reasonable turn afterwards. Some factions have very mediocre or overcosted veteran models but if you happen to natively have good ones then this can be a valid play. Chain of Command models are likewise expensive, but don’t forget that they also count as specialists for performing objectives and some factions have really good ones.
Marker States: Either through their own natural camouflage or through having access to the Cybermask program, marker states can make LT assassinations almost impossible because after everything the opponent has to go through to set up the attack they’ve still got to make a blind coin flip to see if it’s all irrelevant. Marker State LTs are also especially desirable because they can always usefully spend their LT order to re-enter a marker state.
Strategist/NCO: The wasted order of having a coward LT can be mitigated by having either strategist or NCO on the table, either of which allow you to make use of those critical orders. These rules don’t directly defend the LT but they do let you position the LT based on the assumption that you’ll never ever have to move it to get value out of it.
Hiding: Just put the LT in the deepest, darkest, most inaccessible corner of the map and surround her with kung fu flamethrower robots. This is honestly enough a whole lot of the time. Where you’ll really get bitten is when a giant werewolf starts speculatively throwing grenades into the general area. To secure yourself against hacking runs make sure your killer hacker is between your LT and the enemy table edge.
Reserve Drop: If you’re really worried about a Fiday coming down you can just make your LT your reserve drop in deployment especially if you’re going second. That way you can be absolutely certain you won’t get stabbed in the first order.
The Death List
So how to identify your opponent’s LT?
Well, the high-effort way is to scroll through Infinity Army in an attempt to memorize every LT profile in the game. A far more practical way is to ask your opponent after each game ‘so who was your LT in this list?’ if it wasn’t obvious and note their answer and the logic they give for the choice. Here are a couple of very common choices to keep your eye out for:
PanOceania: Fusiliers, a common fixture in every list for being cheap bodies that fill out powerful link teams around big gun overwatch models, and all the big TAGs can be LTs as well.
Yu Jing: What you’re looking for, especially if there’s a Mowang on the table, is a single camo token in or near their deployment zone. This is likely a Daoying, a very popular choice for its LT2 special rule that it can use to feed the Mowang with NCO. Hsien Warriors are also common LT options.
Ariadna: As Ariadna has extremely poor sweeper options in general, aim for their line infantry – the grunts, line kazaks, rokots, etc. William Wallace is a standout obvious LT. They may have their LT under a camo token but that’s very expensive – either 30 points for a Scout or 2SWC for a Foxtrot.
Haqqislam: Don’t even try if it’s vanilla Haqq or QK, they’ve got dirt cheap holoprojector models with LT options so it could be anyone, and hassassins chain of command models under camo tokens. If you get a Haqq lieutenant it’s a happy accident. Saladin may hit the table but he’ll likely be paired with a holoprojector decoy.
Aleph: Almost always a powerful sweeper LT – Achilles, Hector, and an Asura Hacker are the big ones to watch out for. Aleph generally can’t afford to have a LT hanging out backfield, though they do have Shukra Consultants who are cheap Chain of Command with Counterintelligence that often make lists.
Nomads: Either a line pleb or an Interventor. Nomads generally only have a small number of big gun pieces, sometimes even a single Kriza Boracs, and they generally can’t afford to baby those pieces as much as they’d want if it was also a LT. Inteventors, being practically immune to killer hackers, are good if obvious choices if their LT is WIP 15 – but you might want to think about Isolating one with Oblivion if you can get a repeater of your own in range, Oblivion being AP and big enough damage to pierce their repeater net.
Combined Army: The Combined Army has a vast range of absolutely show-stoppingly incredible LT profiles, it’s one of the faction’s greatest strengths. From Kornak – unhackable Hector – to Sheshkiin – unhackable Achilles – to the various EI aspects who come packaged with unlimited chain of command, and all the Morats have veteran. Like Haqq, this is almost a don’t even try situation, though note that Mnemonica doesn’t help against Oblivion so you can still soft-kill EI Aspects this way.
Tohaa: This is definitely a don’t try situation because Tohaa lists usually start with two amazing chain of command models for their pheroware. You’re more likely to table a Tohaa player than to put them in LoL.
O-12: O-12 is an interesting faction because as a faction it is extremely focused on not getting its leadership assassinated – arguably that’s the faction’s core identity. The Alpha is a fat guy and his boxing robot caddy who is just WAITING for a Speculo Killer to come at him and there’s a holoprojector LT option who can also have chain of command. It’s not quite a don’t-try situation but O-12 is a very hard target for this kind of work.
NA2: On the other end of the spectrum, most NA2 factions are extremely vulnerable to assassination runs. A lot of them are forced into taking incredibly awkward Brawler lieutenants – if you see a single Brawler on the table it’s the LT – or paying SWC premiums for a lot of their options, like JSA. Since NA2 factions are mishmashes of various faction’s models it can be hard to keep track of what’s even a viable LT, but if you’re looking into these factions you’ll see that a lot of them only have 1-3 LT choices, all of which are bad or obvious. If players in your local meta run NA2 factions scroll through their faction’s army list until you’ve got an idea of their choices.
The Hitman’s Arsenal
So say you’ve looked at your opponent’s deployment and have enough experience with the game and their faction to have a sense of what their LT is. How do you kill them?
Impersonators: Haqq and Combined have access to Impersonators, a kind of mega-infiltrator with a double marker state. These models are practically unstoppable on the approach, threatening 12 inches with close combat from wherever they start – which can be inside their opponent’s DZ. They also have guns, including template weapon guns. If an impersonator knows who she’s going after there’s practically no stopping them, even if it costs them their life.
If you’re a faction with Impersonators, it’s a key strength of your faction. I seriously recommend taking the time to follow through on my initial suggestion to read through Infinity Army until you know what the LT profiles look like in as many factions as possible.
Drop Troops: Less reliable than impersonators, and often very fragile, drop troopers can savage a backfield and potentially kill a LT just by racking up a high enough body count. They’re very vulnerable to flamethrowers, chain rifles and other trading pieces though – but if your drop troop is in a situation where it’s going to get hit by a chain rifle anyway it may as well take that suicide dive on the enemy LT.
Speculative/Guided Fire: Rather than penetrating way deep into the enemy’s DZ to run directly at the LT you can just stand off and lob missiles and grenades into the area. This is normally a very order inefficient process, but if the target is a 1-armour 1-wound light infantry girl and the payoff is negating an entire enemy turn you can afford a little inefficiency. Special note goes to E/M grenades, especially from Dart who has them under a camo token, which can soft-kill a LT or TAG from safety.
Suicidal Attacks: Like a drop troop but less efficient, this is running a model all the way from your DZ into theirs to kill high value targets. Bikers and other disposable warbands are great for this because anyone who goes deep enough to kill a turtled LT without going through the entire enemy army first probably isn’t coming back home.
Hacking: Especially through Crazy Koalas or pitchers, if you can land a clutch Oblivion on a LT hiding backfield then you can surgically cut their communications network without exposing yourself to danger. Valuable against popular combat or hacker Lieutenants.
Beyond that – it’s hard. Sometimes the problem you’ll have with killing LTs is that it’s hard to kill them without killing your opponent’s entire army first. A LT assassination play needs to be something that can bypass those layered defenses somehow and they’ll usually get shot a whole bunch in the process. If your opponent has done their due diligence and packed the standard issue two decoys then it’s very hard to justify diving that deep when you could just play a normal turn instead.
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