Last week Genghis talked about bringing White Company to the IGL Satellite event and the event’s first three rounds. You can find that article here. This week we’re finishing the fight.
Game 4: Frostbyte
Pre-Game & Deployment
I drew against Bakunin for the 4th round, against a nice chap from California. I realised afterwards that he is one of the people at The Dice Abide who stream weekly games on TTS – he recorded our game and you can watch it on YouTube here if you prefer.
He won the Lt roll and chose to go first. I wasn’t too troubled by that as I do think there are advantages to both in Frostbyte. His list was very typical of competitive Bakunin – a pure Riot Grrl Core including Fiddler and Avicenna, which is a real wrecking ball of a unit. Supporting them he had remotes including a missile bot, Zoe and Pi-Well (the non-peripheral version, to take advantage of the current Tachimoto bonuses), a Chimera, Morlock and Zero Minelayer. He deployed everything fairly conservatively, nothing committed to immediate engagement.
I tried to pin Pi-Well (who was on my far left) at his start position using my Haidao sniper, and also ensure it covered some of the routes toward my DZ. This is an unusual shape of map and not one I’m a fan of, although I respect the IGl team’s effort to do something a bit different. It features a big valley across the middle, without any big solid cover, so there’s no way to be safe and also near the objectives. 3 bridges cross this dead ground and connect the two raised DZs. Everything I had was tucked away, except the Haidao sniper. I didn’t realise at the time, but my deployment was quite split with only some Group 2 models on my right flank, and my main strength in Group 1 on my left. If I’d ensured I had models from each group in different sectors of the board, that could have given me more flexibility later in the game.
My opponent started his Round 1 by declining his Impetuous move on his Chimera, which would have run straight into my Haidao’s sights, but took it to advance his Morlock, staying in total cover. He then spec fired eclipse smoke with his Chimera, getting it first time on a 10, which allowed Pi-Well to escape the sniper and get towards a midfield objective. It took him 3 tries but he did lock it down, turning on the heater to his DZ. Pi-Well then advanced on my left flank, ending up where he was in ZoC, with his repeater, of not just my Varangian, but also my Haidao Killer Hacker. This was not ideal for my opponent, I believe he was planning to go after my sniper with hacking and/or guided missiles, but my Killer Hacker was just placed so he couldn’t get the one without the other.
Forced to use direct means, my opponent sent his Riot Grrl team into action, advancing onto the bridge on my right side and sending his missile Grrl against my sniper. Both in good range and in full Core teams, but he had composition bonuses so was on 2x 16s to my 14s. This was as good a chance as you’ll ever get in the Reactive turn, but I was painfully aware that as well as a more dangerous weapon, he was a full 2W with a great doctor backing him up, and I was just NWI. I was very lucky and won the first two FtF orders. I either wounded the Grrl, or knocked her out and she was revived by Avicenna, I can’t remember. With his last Order he engaged again and killed the Haidao cleanly – bound to happen really. Overall I was lucky to have kept the damage so limited, and while my opponent had capped one Objective, I felt that I had a real opportunity to take control of the match. His Riot Grrl Core was clearly the fulcrum of his list, and it was strung out along a bridge in the midfield.
Going into my first Turn, I used my left Varangian’s Impetuous Order to chain colt and knock out Pi-Well, getting Spotlit in the process but passing an ARM roll from his combi rifle. I ended the Impetuous Order too close to his Unconscious body to be missiled, so a nice start. I declined my other Impetuous Orders on Liang Kai and the right hand Varangian, as I didn’t want to face B2 BS16 missiles! Looking at how to tackle the Fireteam, I spent Hawkwood’s Master Breacher Order re-positioning, then reformed my Core team with him and Liang Kai for a full 5 members. I then advanced Hawkwood, as the team leader, onto the middle bridge to see his ML before his spitfire (the other team members were safely Prone). This was a decent chance to break his team head-on since I was within 24″, so was on 4x 14s vs 2x 13s, but still a big risk. I was lucky and killed the ML, but I made a really significant unforced error – jostling my other team members in a cluster behind, as I hoped to storm across the bridge, I placed Liang Kai too close. He ate the 2 hits from the ML template and died. D’oh! A really dumb mistake, there was no pressing need to try and squeeze the distance there, and I over confidently assumed I was eyeballing the 2″ safety distance. So his team was broken, mine was down to 4 members. Hawkwood moved and fired again and knocked out – but did not kill – the Riot Grrl spitfire. With Avicenna there, this would be an absolute turning point in the game, if I had killed her, I think I would have been in a commanding position.
I now had to figure out how to use my remaining Orders to secure the position or try and figure a way to finish off that horribly dangerous team. So, I made one of my characteristic bafflingly stupid strategic blunders. Not straight away, first I used 2 Orders in my second group on the Danavas, and one in the first group on Valerya, trying to shoot Pitchers, 3 affecting the team and one at Zoe. I failed all 4 rolls. This was the second big thing I wish had gone better (although I know how futile that line of thought is, and I was by no means unlucky in the game as a whole). I put White Noise on my right flank to block the remaining (shotgun) Riot Grrl and moved my Clipper missile bot across from the midfield to my right flank, to watch down the bridge, seeing Fiddler and Avicenna. I only had one Order to actually shoot, this being in Group 2, and failed the roll. Fair enough and it would be a troublesome ARO he’d have to deal with before reviving his spitfire. Now came my mistake. I advance my main Fireteam onto the central bridge, using Hawkwood to discover-shoot the Zero Minelayer, who took a Normal roll against another team member but fortunately missed. Then I Dodged the Jujak to clear the mine, and finally, at full stretch, sent it against Zoe and the Morlock inside my opponent’s DZ. All 3 went down in a flurry of templates. Honestly I was lucky not to lose Valerya as well, and the Haidao got wounded -my opponent had Dodged the Morlock into view of most of the Fireteam in the previous Order. This was not a good or worthwhile attack run, more of an even trade. Critically, it left my Fireteam badly exposed to counterattacks in Round 2. I have no idea what I was thinking. Everything I know about in Infinity should have led me to ensure my main strength was hidden from direct fire at the end of the turn. I’m just an idiot.
My opponent’s priority at the start of Round 2 was to clear my missile bot so he could get his Fireteam back online with Avicenna. First he tried a simple FtF with his own missile bot, since it was stuck in the small group with only a flash pulse bot for company, and couldn’t shoot at my Targeted Varangian. He was in cover and I wasn’t, but I was luckier and won the FtF, it might actually have been a crit. So he rethought and accomplished his goal efficiently with the Stempler Zond, moving prone until he could engage my missile bot in good range, although this gave Hawkwood normal ARO shots back, so it was a trade. But his gameplan was back online – Avicenna picked the Riot Grrl spitfire straight back up, he reformed the Fireteam, and after moving Prone a bit (I think we may have done this wrong as the spitfire should have stood up upon being revived, but it doesn’t matter much) she took out Hawkwood and then Valerya. Thus was my blunder come home to roost. Finally he moved his Uberfallkommando on my left flank, taking an advantageous FtF against my Targeted Varangian, but he spiked all 3 of his rifle shots, I rolled low, and the Chimera failed her ARM roll and went down! A pretty significant stroke of luck which would at least stop me being overrun in Round 3.
In my Turn 2, after promising beginnings, it was quite evident I was boned. I’d simply run out of guns, and that damnably resilient enemy Fireteam, still at 4 members with composition bonuses, was dominant in the (scoring) midfield. I had no good options to engage a BS14 B2 ARO in its good range. My only proper active turn piece, the Guilang Hacker, was pinned in the middle of my DZ, and would have to pass open ground to accomplish anything. Ultimately that is what I had to do, moving it across to my right, slicing the piece and trying a shot at Avicenna. I lost and was stunned by her flash pulse. So I had to resort to my wounded Haidao KHD, which advanced into his DZ, but didn’t have the Orders to actually try an attack, so did achieve 1 Classified – Data Scan – on an Unconscious Zoe. That was my turn done, down on Army Points, not scoring the Zone, having fewer Heaters activated than my opponent, and not much in the way of fighting power or position with which to regain anything.
My opponent’s Turn 3 was spent trying to kill my Danavas, Varangian and Guilang over on my right, with some cunning play of Fiddler throwing drop bears and a Riot Grrl shotgun storming their little walled area.
I can’t even remember who died and who just ended up neutralised. He also activated a second console with Fiddler, so I was locked out of Objective Points there. I was utterly pinned down in my Turn 3. I think I had about 6 Orders, but with the Guilang I think pinned into close combat with a Riot Grrl, my only play was to try and slog my wounded Haidao KHD, in his DZ, around to try and attack his Core team at no particular advantage. Even to try that I had to fight through a flash pulse bot, which held me up for 4 Orders, so with one or two Orders unspent I conceded the game.
The game finished 8-1 to Bakunin, with 115 points remaining to my 24. While almost all his remaining strength was in that damnable Core Fireteam, they held the centre zone and of course, having no active heaters, my own scattered remnants mostly died at the end of the game.
Not to detract from my opponent, who played very savvily and kept his cool after a frustratingly limited Turn 1, but I really feel I pumped that one away. I was in a good position midway through my own Turn 1, even after failing my attempts to land Pitchers. If I’d just drawn back into total cover, and perhaps tried to activate a console, yes my opponent could have done further damage in his Turn 2, but not nearly as easily or efficiently as he did because I’d over-exposed myself. I thought because I’d downed both SWC Riot Grrls that I was winning more than I was. I knew that the spitfire was far more dangerous in the active turn and would be revived by Avicenna, just when I couldn’t find a way to stop that happening, I failed to mitigate the impact. While I correctly identified his Core team as his centre of gravity, not only did I not successfully deal with it, I didn’t fully appreciate that my big Wildcard-filled Core was equally important to me, and I used it far too rashly. A deserved loss.
Game 5: Engineering Deck
Pre-Game & Deployment
For the penultimate game we revisited an old mission from ITS8, a whole 6 years ago! This features an Objective Room, which is to be controlled at the end of the game only, for 3OP, and 5 Objectives, one in the centre and one in each table quadrant, with 5OP available for having more active than your opponent, again scored at the end of the game. A very characteristic ITS mission of that era – lots of pressing buttons, and with the sheer number of Objectives, their placement, and the end-of-game scoring, it heavily rewards the second turn player and incentivises a number of forward-deploying or otherwise mobile specialists.
My opponent won the roll and elected to go first, saying that his faction, Aleph’s OSS Sectorial, preferred it. I had snap-chosen at the table to use my hacking-heavy list rather than my room-clearing list,since activating Objectives was worth more than controlling the room. I should have realised what he meant, this would be a very infowar-centric game. So I could keep deployment, which honestly, army match-up aside, I really think is the most advantageous set-up in this mission. I also was lucky enough to draw Telemetry as a Classified, the other, Capture, could at least be swapped for Securing the HVT.
My opponent’s deployment showed an Asura hacker with bonus Trinity (+2 Dam), which I knew would be the Lt, with an additional Lt Order. A very scary hacking threat, and indeed a bruiser within 16”. He backed this up with a Shukra for Counterintelligence and Chain of Command, a full Dakini Core with HMG & Sniper, EVO support, a Tachimoto Sensor bot, a missile bot and a couple flash pulse bots, and the ubiquitous Posthumans – in this case an Engineer, and a Mimetism-6 Camouflage token which proved to be a hacker. All deployed fairly conservatively behind total cover.
I therefore deployed similarly to Frostbyte (since that first Reactive Turn at least had gone well!) with both Valerya and the Haidao KHD in a big Core team with the Jujak Firewall and Haidao sniper, Hawkwood rounding it out. All my eggs in one basket, presenting a hard target on the left flank, where there is some high ground. It doesn’t dominate the whole board, which as can be seen in the picture is quite dense; but it did see the Dakini team’s natural attack point and cover the entrances to my DZ on my right flank; it also prevented any Pitcher being fired normally onto the surface where it would affect the whole team. I deployed my actual Fusilier Lt behind them, as was the Paramedic, my decoy Lt was on the right with a flash pulse bot and the Danavas in the rear right corner. My own missile bot and Liang Kai had sheltered positions in the middle, I had a Varangian covering each flank.
My opponent deployed a Danavas hacker as his reserve, clearly because he meant to use her Pitchers as the main vector for an alpha strike. Mine was a Guilang hacker, which I deployed fairly safely in my middle zone, trying not to be too easy for his Sensor bot to come get, since I’d be dead meat to the Asura if that happened. I will say that this OSS composition was not quite what I’ve normally played against from that faction. The Dakini Core with its composition bonuses and Marksman from an EVO, yes, a staple, as are Posthumans. But I’d not played against a list with the emphasis on the Asura as an offensive hacking piece. This would be an interesting demonstration of the current game and hacking/missile bot plays.
Despite Counterintelligence I still chose to try to take the edge from the first turn by stripping a single Order from his combat group which combined the Asura, Danavas and Dakini team. Note that he was using an 8/7 split, which I think is supportable given the Asura’s 2 Lt Orders, but I think it restricted him by having those 3 elements all in one group, I would have been in more fear of the alpha strike were they spread between two. My opponent spent 3 Orders developing his Danavas forward toward my right flank, Cautious Moving to cross my Haidao sniper’s lane of fire, and then fired a Pitcher which would affect my own Danavas, the decoy Lt (phew), the Varangian and a flash pulse bot. Pretty good placement, and being in good range, he landed it on the first try. As this happened my Varangian Dodged slightly and covered the Danavas with his templates, but my opponent wouldn’t activate it again this turn, it was now the Asura show. He went to Trinity my Danavas, and I saved myself with a crit (a 12 against his 3x 18s) on Oblivion! A heart-stopping moment for my opponent, but he passed both BTS rolls, and to be fair he had an Engineer Posthuman nearby in his other Combat Group, so it would have been more a delay than a devastating setback. In the second attempt, the Asura crit and knocked the Danavas straight out. That thing is a lethal hacker! Showing a bit better luck, it Spotlit my decoy Lt on the first attempt, and a missile promptly killed it.
With only a couple Orders left in that group, my opponent decided to send the Dakini HMG directly against the Haidao sniper. Using an Order from the other group to grant Marksmanship, he was looking at 5x 11s against my 2x 14s, because he was outside of 32”. For what it’s worth, my instinct is that he would have been better off buffing and using his sniper, for 3x 17s, but I have no idea of how the actual math works out. Over 2 attempts, I survived, tieing the first FtF and surviving 1 ARM roll on the second, and the Dakini team ended just out of sight. My opponent’s play with his remaining Orders in the other group was to send his Tachimoto forward into my table half, in my opinion maybe overextending it in his eagerness to get some kills. He Sensored my Guilang hacker, but with no Orders left for him to activate his own Hackers that Turn, I was free to ARO, failing an initial attempt; the bot moved again to shoot at Liang Kai, but the mad monk beat it with a flash pulse crit (on a 14 against 3x 11s) while the Guilang successfully Spotlit, gaining me a Classified Objective.
Overall I was very happy with how my White Company weathered a potentially dangerous first turn. My opponent had sensibly prioritised attacking my force, but at least this meant he’d have to spend Orders later, if at all, activating the Objectives. The pitcher/Asura nuke did exactly what he expected to a Danavas and a decoy Lt, and it would have been very different had that been my real Lt, but I still had plenty of options left. Now the Sensor bot and his Danavas were free real estate. My right hand Varangian knocked out the latter with his SMG in his Impetuous Order, and a missile blew up the former. This cleared my table half of enemies and I started on the Core Fireteam. First my Haidao sniper shuffled sideways and took out a flash pulse bot across the table on his extreme right. I spent one Order to move-move and then the sniper flicked into LoF of his HMG again, while the rest of the team arranged themselves. I figured one chance at this en route to doing objectives and laying pitchers was worthwhile. In the event, on 3x 14s vs 2x 17s (I’d entered inside good HMG range) I was lucky, scoring 3 hits while he missed both, and the Dakini went down. An astonishing piece of bad luck for my opponent. I had taken a significant risk, but I stand by it – I had a second wound to fall back on, as well as DA ammo and higher ARM to make the odds better than the FtF roll would imply. Staying with the Fireteam, I activated that quadrant’s Objective with Valerya on the first try, then placed both pitchers just inside good range, affecting his Dakinis and Posthuman Engineer, but not the Asura.
Here my luck held good – I failed an attempt with the Guilang in Group 2 to Spotlight the Posthuman, but then got it with Valerya. A missile went in and killed not only the Posthuman, but the Dakini Paramedic as well, breaking the Fireteam. This left me in quite a commanding position, so I rejigged my Fireteam, putting the sniper and the Jujak’s panzerfaust on ARO duty, developed Liang Kai just behind the Objective room, re-camoed the Guilang and passed the turn.
I had reckoned without just how damn good the Asura is at hacking. I’d thought that with my Firewall-6 and 2-3 AROs going back, I’d severely bog down any hacking offensive. Not the case, the Aleph Lt put down first Valerya, then the Haidao KHD in 4 Orders total, plus one Order on his EVO to give it Fairy Dust for its own Firewall-3. This efficacy was partly its Burst 3 on WIP15, which with +3 for Trinity meant it was still on 12s through my Firewall-6. But my opponent also had the good sense to ignore the Haidao’s Trinity, since he had 3 Wounds and could shrug it on 6+ thanks to his BTS and Firewall-3. Concentrating all his Burst on Valerya he easily beat her Oblivion (3x 12s vs an 11) and knocked her out, then wounded the Haidao KHD, then I got very lucky and wounded him, which really shouldn’t have happened, then killed the Haidao entirely, doing a few Wounds at once. So while I was shocked at the aplomb with which it tore through my hackers, I was lucky to wound it at all and to absorb another Order! I was relieved I’d chosen not to risk un-Camouflaging my Guilang to add an Oblivion ARO. While it would have presented the Asura with more risk, ultimately I could play the game without those Fireteam hackers, but the Guilang was my best way to score Objectives elsewhere on the board, so was worth preserving. In a different scenario, say at the bottom of a Round 1 where I’d gone first, if I’d had my Danavas as well, 4 AROs might have tipped the scales. An interesting illustration of the infowar game, and once again I felt that my White Company dispersed hacking net, which I liked so much in list-building, was inferior to the concentrated power of alpha-level hackers like the Anathematic or Asura.
While all that was going on the Asura had moved to the Objective room, and immediately opened it. Now in my opinion, while this was a logical move in general, because it gave my opponent more time to occupy it in Round 3, this may have been a mistake in our specific situation, because Liang Kai was standing on the other side of that room, and opening the doors gave him a route to the Asura.
My opponent used the rest of his Turn 2 on the Dakini team, now 3 strong, cancelling Fairy Dust and moving Marksmanship back onto the sniper. He fought my Jujak in a tied FtF roll, which meant I emptied my panzerfausts and remained in LoF, then used his last Order to engage the Haidao sniper as well, remaining in LoF at the end. Here my Haidao lost and took 2 ARM rolls, luckily passing both (on 10+), while the Jujak fired its shotgun normally, on 4s, and predictably missed both shots.
While my hacking capability was mostly gone, I felt that I could seize control now. Liang Kai moved stealthily into the room, behind total cover, in his Impetuous Order – I should have Dodged him into LoF and 8” of the Asura, but didn’t want to break Stealth and get Targeted. I forgot that it hardly matters if you get Targeted, if you’re trying to throw yourself into melee via Berserk! My left Varangian rolled a smoke grenade in front of the Haidao sniper, which let him take on the Dakini from much better odds (3x 14s against 2x 11s, which would have been a sphincter-tightening 2x 17s if I’d had no smoke) and knock it out. Liang Kai then move-Dodged nearer the Asura and into LoF, before hurling himself forward with Berserk. The Asura chose to fight in melee and crit on a 20, judo-chopping the monk to death! Fortunately, taking 3 ARM rolls at Damage 16, she failed 2 and died. Really very lucky that she’d unluckily suffered a Wound to Trinity earlier, since she’d have survived on NWI otherwise. That model is a beast.
Liang Kai having done his job, I looked at the board and thought my opponent was mostly spent. Definitely clear of Retreat, but I had to be careful and secure points rather than try to kill much more. I moved Hawkwood to shoot one of the two remaining Dakini through the Objective Room (we completely forgot the mission-specified Saturation Zone, sorry) and brought my Guilang left to right in my table half to secure a second Objective.
At the start of his Turn 3, my opponent chose to concede, pointing out that he couldn’t hope to secure the room or take more than 1 Objective. That is fine, he was clearly not having much fun by this point and indeed was bemoaning his bad luck without pause. I will say that while I am confident I could have got 10 points, by securing the room, holding 2-3 Objectives and securing his HVT for my second classified, I would have had to use the bulk of my Turn 3 Orders to do so, and sufficiently bad luck could have made it all very tricky. In my opponent’s shoes I might have tried push the Posthuman hacker through the Objective on his left, engage the un-camoed Guilang to flip my Objective on that same flank, then Dodge or Cautious Move the last Dakini into the room in a spot where it could go into Suppression fire. In that situation, I could still have scored the room by trading templates, simply beating the FtF with superior stats, or moving in several higher-pointed models at once, and I could have recaptured Objectives or gone for other ones. But both those manoeuvres would have required at least some dice rolls. If my opponent had been just a bit lucky in his Turn 3, I could have been a few failed WIP rolls away from defeat. So I do think he shouldn’t have given up in that situation, but ultimately it’s not my decision.
The game ended 10-0 in my favour, with 202 VP left to his 104. The key rolls of this game were played out with pitchers, hacking, missiles, and a few FtF gunfights between Core teams, so in one sense a commentary on the state of the game. On the other hand, I think positioning and the interplay of melee threats were also very important. With competitive lists it can often feel like the Active player is at least trying to deprive the Reactive player of all agency, by stacking mods or seeking attacks like missiles that have no risk associated with failure. That can be a negative play experience, especially for the player on the unlucky side of the dice. But I still find the game interesting even in such match-ups. In this game, while I know I was lucky at critical moments, I felt my opponent made one or two minor errors in exposing his Tachimoto, Danavas, and Asura (I overexposed my Fireteam hackers as well). I also think that while his initial pitcher attack run had potential, he was gambling for real effect on a 50% chance that he’d picked my real Lt rather than the decoy. When it wasn’t, he’d spent a lot of Orders, and left his set-up piece swinging in the wind, just to (decisively) kill 2 models with hacking and missiles. I think it’s an example of how the hacking and missile game enables nuking key targets, but doesn’t replace conventional BS, template and melee attacks which, if you can get them into position, will do the job more efficiently in terms of Orders, albeit at greater risk.
Game 6: Supplies
Pre-Game & Deployment
Into the breach for the last time, this time against another NA2 faction, the Japanese Secessionist Army, played by a very nice bloke from New Mexico in the USA. He was a terrific opponent and we had a great time. This game would be a real slugfest. I was lucky enough to generate two good Classifieds, to doctor/paramedic a friendly model, and to take a WIP+3 roll while coup de gracing an Unconscious enemy. Looking at the map and considering the mission, which does at least give an extra CSU specialist, I decided to take my list for the Armory – I felt Karhu would be useful in this match-up and wanted the Tiger Soldier and reaction bot more than the hacking capability and K1 in the other list. JSA are a highly aggressive army, and I won the roll and yet chose deployment. My reasoning was that they can be played either with bikes, Mimetism units and lots of Hidden Deployment, or they can feature a big team of HI samurai. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d see and wanted to try and counterdeploy. More sensibly, because the former line of reasoning is just rationalising indecision, I thought that while hidden ninjas can pop out for a decent alpha strike, I’d rather have the peril of them attacking my in my deployment, than have them go second with an excellent chance to assassinate supply box holders and flip the result at the end of the game.
My opponent deployed things I wasn’t quite expecting, a pure Keisotsu Core Fireteam on his left and a Tanko Haris in his centre, both with missile launchers! There were some interesting long firelanes across the board. He also had a Domaru & Yuriko Oda Duo in the centre. I was a bit surprised to see no Yojimbo, but I believe he was holding 2 units back.
I tried to deploy watching the Objectives but not his deployment zone. This was achieved by my TR bot on my left, a pair of Karhu in my centre, and a big Core of Fusiliers and the Orc HMG, bolstered by Shona and Liang Kai, on my right. I thought this was a decent defensive deployment, but I wasn’t expecting my opponent to deploy an O-Yoroi TAG. His other reserve placement was Hidden Deployed, but not forward of the halfway line. I deployed my reserve, the Beasthunter FTO Minelayer (which I chose to hold back in case one of his reserves was an aggressively deployed infiltrating ninja type) with his friends the Karhu in the centre.
My opponent naturally went to his TAG first, after I’d docked 2 Orders from its combat group. He moved forward and laid a Crazy Koala near my right-hand Objective. Good efficiency as move-moving would have provoked shots, but honestly I would have kept my koala for an offensive fork here. He then drew a bead to my Orc HMG with his second Order. I was trying to cover only the area by the Objective, but hadn’t reckoned on the height of a Silhouette 7 model. Unfortunately, despite his decent ARO (2x 15s vs the TAG’s 4x 14s) the Orc took 2 hits, failed both ARM rolls and went straight down.
My opponent then revealed Shinobu Kitsune in his other group, using her to throw smoke to screen my Karhu. Rather unorthodox throwing smoke in front of an MSV1 model, and it actually gave me a lot of agency in the next engagement. My opponent activated his O-Yoroi and moved up past the very slim firelane where the Karhu could see diagonally across the map. I had not seen this at deployment, and again I think the height of the TAG was crucial, a Silhouette 2 model would have remained hidden. Because of the smoke, I had free choice of whether to fire and provoke a FtF or not. If we were outside of 32″ he would be on the maximum penalty of -12, and even otherwise I’d have a relatively good chance. Was it worth revealing a fragile, key active turn piece like the Karhu? With the O-Yoroi bearing down rapidly on my Core Fireteam and various other models in my deployment zone, I decided I needed to try and hold him up, so I took the shot. Turns out we were fractionally under 32″, so he was on 4x 5s vs my 2x 10s. Now this is as good a chance as one ever gets in ARO, but I’m still not sure I should have done it. There are a lot of factors to weigh up beyond the chances of succes in the FtF roll. I could math out the chances to actually wound or kill both models, the O-Yoroi is probably much more likely to survive than the squishy Karhu, but I also had to try and measure the risk to the other models the TAG could go on to attack and the Orders my opponent had to do it. The chance to injure my opponent’s only long range active turn firepower, against my risk of losing my best tool to kill it in my own active turn. This is an example of why I find Infinity so rewarding to play. In the event, I missed both rolls and he stuck home with one of his. Sad tuba noises. The Karhu went down.
Freed of ARO threats the O-Yoroi moved forward again, and as he approached Shona I dodged her forward, figuring she was better able to defend herself than the other vulnerable models in that table sector (which did include my Lt). In a heavy flamethrower assault the TAG tried for Shona and my engineer. The latter failed his Dodge and burned to death, but Shona got into melee. While combat would be a coinflip, at least my weaponry was dangerous enough that he was also risking serious harm. I had not followed until this point that Kitsune was in his other combat group. Clearly this provided my opponent a solution and the master ninja snuck up to join the melee. Shona had lost Sixth Sense, her self-sacrificing Dodge had broken the 8” coherency distance on the Fireteam, so I was unable to try and escape. Kitsune has Martial Arts Level 5, meaning with the O-Yoroi also in the combat, she struck at Burst 3 on a slightly higher roll than Shona. We both crit in the first Order, but on the second try Shona died. She did at least soak several Orders and my opponent wasn’t able to exploit further – the O-Yoroi withdrew, not quite making it to an ideal defensive position, while Kitsune re-camouflaged.
Well, at the start of my Turn 1 I was down 4 models, which is dangerous territory. Shona and the engineer were both handy and fully dead, but the Orc HMG and Karhu feuerbach, which were critical to take on my opponent’s long range firepower and open up the board, were only down. My first move was an NCO Order on my Karhu paramedic, moving in total cover right to his buddy and attempting a PH10 paramedic roll. This was absolutely the turning point of the game and if I hadn’t made it, I would have almost certainly lost, and lost hard. But the Karhu arose! Come let us adore him. I reformed the Haris and engaged the Tanko ML clear across the board, at over 40”, where the feuerbach’s +0 range mod really punishes anything but a sniper. My opponent was on 2x 4s vs my 4x 10s, and died.
I then moved the Haris team across my DZ toward the threatened right flank, shooting a medikit at the Orc and reviving him as well, before using the paramedic’s multi rifle to discover-shoot Kitsune to death. Then I found an angle with my feuerbach against the O-Yoroi out of cover. Shooting on 16s against a failed dodge roll, I only managed 2 hits, but my opponent rolled low for ARM and the TAG went down in one Order! On the other flank, my TR bot gunned down his CSU, but failed against his flash pulse bot. I used my last Orders to kill the O-Yoroi so that Yuriko Oda couldn’t revive it, and finished with the feuerbach in a dominant position covering my half of the table, confident that my opponent had nothing left which could challenge it at range. From most of my firepower being down at the start of the turn, I’d killed 3 important models and sort of defanged my opponent of his best attack options. I can only re-emphasise how badly I needed that paramedic roll at the start. (in a pleasing symmetry, the Orc had rolled 1s on both his failed ARM rolls, and a 1 for his paramedic roll, while the Karhu rolled a 3 for both his ARM and paramedic rolls) I had also spent all my command tokens, so my Tiger Soldier was stuck in group 2 and I wouldn’t be able to reform any Fireteams.
Without any active turn pieces who could effectively break through into my forces, or contest either the TR bot or Karhu feuerbach, which both overlooked the approaches to the Objectives on my left and in the centre, my opponent played savvily. He cautiously worked the Yuriko and Domaru Duo Fireteam up towards those Objectives, failing to kill one of my Varangians – I was lucky enough to get my smoke down – and stopped near the Objectives, short of my overwatch. On his left, he moved his Keisostsu forward, the hacker grabbed that Objective, then went back behind total cover before reforming the Core Fireteam. His two remaining Tanko repositioned slightly to try and guard the Objectives he hadn’t opened.
Feeling confident, I went to seize the unclaimed Objectives and thin out the remaining enemies in my Turn 2. I was relatively confident that I could assault the Keisotsu and at least force them to drop the box they were holding in the final Turn. I Impetuous moved Liang Kai and my Varangian on the right flank, with that in mind for later. My Varangian on the left went Dogged against Yuriko’s panzerfaust, without accomplishing much. I then walked on my Tiger Soldier on my left, in just the right position to back-shoot the Domaru down, but he then failed to kill the flash pulse bot or Yuriko, running out of Group 2 Orders. So I returned to my faithful Karhu feuerbach, risking a FtF against the Keisotsu ML. I messed up the range and was just outside 32”, so was on 4x10s vs 2x10s, a huge risk which could have really held me up, but my luck held and the Keisotsu evaporated.
This freed the Karhu team to move on the middle Objective, where the Paramedic grabbed the supply box before the feuerbach killed Yuriko and a Tanko blitzen. I broke my Beasthunter off with his Irregular Order, since I could no longer afford to convert it to Regular, using it to score my second classified by WIP and coup de gracing the Domaru, and leaving him in position to oppose any attack by the remaining Tanko. Finally, the Karhu pair handed off the supply box, before the paramedic secured the final, left hand Objective, and they retired together to my table half. Now as I was at full stretch of Orders, I left the feuerbach standing up watching for the enemy, while the paramedic ducked around into total cover. I was trying to get more than 2”” away because I knew my opponent had a flammenspeer on his remaining Tanko. I didn’t think it was quite far enough, and I could/should have moved the feuerbach differently, or simply laid him down Prone, to avoid the risk of impact templates. Given they both held supply boxes, and the Beasthunter, TR bot and CSU could all cover them from the remaining enemy models, I absolutely should have hidden them both. But I thought the feuerbach was the best gun remaining on the field and could surely see off any final attacks. What could go wrong?
Banzai charge time! I had worried in the previous turn about whether my opponent would be in Retreat, and thought he’d be just over. For a minute we thought he was, then recounted and he was on 78 points remaining. Close! However the JSA would not take this lying down. His flash pulse bot (stuck in its own combat group) tried to flash my Tiger Soldier to ensure he couldn’t ARO, but the drop trooper crit and downed it. Now was the time for his remaining contender/flamenspeer Tanko to seek his destiny. He took his Impetuous move and downed the Beasthunter with the contender – I panzerfausted when I should have flamed, I thought it was just out of range. Turned out, measuring afterwards, I absolutely should have used that heavy flamer. In the next order, he killed both Karhu with one flamenspeer shot.
It was all going pear-shaped. He snuck around terrain for one Order, attacked the total reaction bot, which had Marksmanship, just within 16”, downed it with his contender, then killed my CSU in melee while tanking a nanopulser save. 5 models down! What an absolute hero, I have rarely seen such a kill streak, and never from a Burst 1-using active turn nutjob. With the final Orders the Tanko picked up an abandoned supply box. Bloody maniac.
I was now in a perilous situation, and what had seemed a very safe, practically won game during Round 2 needed a lot of work! My opponent held two boxes and I had none. Fortunately I had models poised to kill his box-holders, but with no Command Tokens left, I had to carefully think about how they could be picked up afterwards. I came to the conclusion that my 2 Orders in Group 2 were needed to move to, and pick up, a box from either my Unconscious Karhu or the Tanko. I had 6 Orders in Group 1 to kill the Tanko, kill the Keisotsu hacker holding the other box, and that would at least get me a win. I used the Orc HMG, spending one Order moving before firing across the table right to left and taking two FtF rolls before downing the Tanko. The humble Fugazi Dronbot scooted forward and recovered the samurai’s supply box.
This meant that Liang Kai, who had Impetuous’d forward again, had 3 Orders to act. He move-moved once, avoiding a crazy koala and the hacker’s ZoC, then stormed in and put the target down with his light shotgun. This left me with one Order spare, but I’d need two to pick up another Supply box, so the game ended there, with me holding one box (and having both Classifieds) and my opponent with nothing.
After some very squeaky moments, that made it 6-0 to me on Objective Points, with 147 VP remaining to his 40. I have to look at how close my opponent brought this game to the wire after some hard reverses in FtF rolls. The conditions for the whole game were set by relatively few long-range gunfights, with my Karhu feuerbach completely justifying his hype by removing both missile launchers and the TAG, alongside some other targets, while the Karhu paramedic shone equally bright. If I’d lost one of those rocket tag FtF rolls, or failed that paramedic roll in the bottom of Round 1, I could not have done so well. In the endgame, if either his hero Tanko had pulled out one last critical Dodge or contender shot in ARO, or the Keisotsu had done the same against Liang Kai, I could have been looking at either a very narrow win, or a loss. Throughout this very exciting, direct action game, my opponent was a complete gentleman and a really fun opponent, we were having a blast laughing at the antics on both sides. A real high to finish on.
So in summary I won 4 games and lost 2 (in the first and 4th rounds). About my average really, and as good as I’d hope for. I think my loss in Firefight was fairly understandable due to an excellent first-strike army composition played very well. I clearly accelerated my defeat by a foolishly bold deployment of ARO pieces. Interestingly my opponent in Round 1 does not appear to have been very successful in the rest of the tournament. Without knowing any of the details, this may illustrate the ‘submarine’ effect, if you lose your opening game(s) in a competitive event you can be more likely to win later as you are matched against less successful players. But it’s not certain, especially in a deep pool like the IGL; a player could easily lose their first game and be matched against a frequent tournament winner in the second; plenty of those were matched up in Round 1. My loss in Frostbyte, I can also say was due to a canny opponent who leveraged his Riot Grrl pain train effectively, but I had an opportunity to do better and compromised my own position. I really need to get better at considering risks before committing to attack runs. Otherwise it’s just gambling.
I liked White Company and will experiment with them more. I did feel that relying on Fireteam synergy can leave you vulnerable – one model goes down and that’s the whole house of cards falling apart. But the Sectorial’s gunfighters like Hawkwood, Tiger Soldier or the Karhu are great fun to use, as are the melee specialists. The hackers I felt really enabled some plays but only really shone for me in games where they were eventually overmatched by enemy ‘apex’ hackers like the Anathematic or Asura. Infowar is in a fascinating place in the game right now.
In the final standings, I stood 24th of 114 players. Interestingly, the first place was won by Norfolkot, using Bakunin Jurisdictional Command, as the only player to go 6 Rounds undefeated, with 5 Major Victories and one very close win in the final game – worth watching here. Interesting food for thought for anyone losing their mind about the Bakunin changes which have been implemented since. They will compose mostly different options for the Sectorial, while the very strong list structure the winner used, centred on a Riot Grrl Core team (very similar to my Round 4 opponent) remains valid and unchanged. Second place was held by Kosmoflot, and third by a Military Orders player, edging out the Ariadna finals opponent into 4th place. About 10 players seem to have won 5 of their games, with several more having won 4 and drawn 1. This was a fantastically competitive field and I’m very glad to have taken part. It is so interesting to see players from across the world, with their own local metas and ideas of what is the hot thing to take. If you’d like to read more about the IGL, you can visit their site here – and possibly keep an eye out for their next event – while the ITS results and stats for the event are here.
Until next time!
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