Finally, back to St Alban’s for another Infinity tournament! This was my first in person event since the last one in August, and my first in person event of ITS14. I played Nomads in the last one with some success, and my only event since was an Infinity Global League played on Tabletop Simulator, in which I also took Nomads and performed rather poorly (lost my first two games, won the second two). This was a welcome chance to get back on the horse – I nearly got to an event in September, but fatherhood got in the way. Advice to readers still considering settling down: It’s great, but go to all the wargaming tournaments you can before doing so.
The Missions for this iteration were:
Cryogenics, the new kid on the block, which I did predict in our ITS14 round-up would probably feature in every event going for at least 6 months. I have only played it once before, in the aforementioned IGL, and won easily, partly due to overall luck and even more because both HVTs ended up on my half of the table. So while I don’t have the most experience with the mission, I acknowledge it can be very random and you need to fluidly adapt to where those HVTs pop up. Unlike other zone control missions like Supremacy, you can’t pre-plan your strategy at Deployment. It rewards Doctor/Paramedic specialists and like all zone control missions you need to be able to shift some points about efficiently, through expensive midfield units or Fireteams. Finally you need a resilient or protectable non-marker model to serve as your Master Breacher, and actually it would be great to have a way to assassinate the enemy’s Breacher – doing so on Round 1 will seal off 3OP beyond their reach.
Cryogenics seems to slightly favour the second player, because of the end of game positioning scoring. But there are advantages to going first as well: as with any mission, you can try to achieve victory by breaking the opposing force, and it gives you the first opportunity to nab that enemy Master Breacher. Also, if you rush and activate 3 consoles, you lock in 2OP and deny them to your enemy. Not sure if that is worth it. A wild card factor here is the location of the HVTs. The first 2 quadrants activated each definitely have a 60% (1-12 on a D20) chance to be empty. Once you have 2 empty or have found both HVTs, clearly you know the remaining results. But if you find one HVT and find the next Objective empty, the third quadrant activation is still in doubt. I have nearly gone mad thinking about this. I am considering, if going first, that it is better to hasten a specialist forward and activate an Objective in your opponent’s table half. This will be slightly more likely to be empty than not. You can then activate both on your table half, which should be easily achievable. This guarantees at least the 2OP for activating objectives, and you are likely to get at least 1 HVT on your side. The danger is you roll 13+ for the far objective and 1-12 the next two times, in which case you are going to need those 2OP in an uphill struggle! There’s no sure way to mitigate the randomness and I am unsure if capping Objectives early is really worth giving up committing to an attack on the enemy force, starting with the Master Breacher. Obviously if you go second you just secure what Objectives you can and you play for the third Round.
Supplies, the old favourite, was actually revealed to be the worldwide single most popular mission by recently released ITS data. This one has a slight benefit to going second in close games, but it’s probably stronger to go first in most match-ups. It can definitely be played as Annihilation until the late game. Like Cryogenics it needs some forward specialists and midfield control, as well as giving a Doctor/Paramedic bonus, so there’s an obvious list building synergy.
Finally, Panic Room. The higher-achieving bastard son of Biotechvore and The Armoury. Interestingly, this mission was added following a design contest, and the designer, James, ITS handle Murkage, is a friend and a regular attendee at St Alban’s. Like all Objective Room missions the one thing you absolutely need is brawlers who can fight in that room. It is still really helpful to have some long range threats though – as in all Infinity games, if one player can dominate long range firelanes with units their opponent can’t contest, they have a significant advantage. Yes, many close quarters units have smoke grenades and such to circumvent this, but forcing your opponent to spend Orders on those manoeuvres can be an advantage in itself. Holding the room is very difficult against a competent player, and the surest way to do so is to limit the Orders they can spend to attack it. Having long range AROs that hamper enemies moving up to the room is a key part of an effective defence.
Panic Room now has a strong EVO hacker bonus (+1 regular order, which can take a Combat Group to 11) so I expect that to be a common inclusion in this season. The thing is that with an 8″ deployment zone and an encroaching Biotechvore Zone, you don’t really want many, if any, models that are static in the back line. You get 2 Antennas which can shelter you from the Zone effects, but you never know prior to seeing the table whether those positions will expose you to enemy fire. So that EVO hacker is one of very few models I’d want to take with a purely support role. It’s not quite as important or immediate to rush everyone forward as in Biotechvore (part of why that mission is so divisive) but you need to have a plan at deployment, not just to keep models safe in Round 1, but to efficiently get them to safety for Rounds 2 & 3.
Mission analysis done, on to the lists!
From the start of my mission analysis, I knew I’d be doing 1 list for Panic Room and 1 for the other missions. The difference in requirements is just too vast. The TO has actually been very kind because Supplies and Cryogenics have very similar list building requirements to my mind – midfield presence and control, active specialists with a perk for Doctors/Paramedics, and a need for some striking ability to scalpel out Supply Box carriers or the enemy Master Breacher. Whereas Panic Room just needs close up fighting ability, and additionally needs models that can thrive in the room and earn the Essential Personnel bonus, i.e. are Chain of Command, NCO, Number 2, Headquarters Troops, Characters or your Lt. You need some plan for that or you’re giving up 3 potential OP.
Because of the specific requirements of Panic Room I opted for Corregidor. The advancing Zone alone encourages Fireteams as a good way to get models clear and into the middle of the table. While some of the best meta competitive Nomads units excel in Objective Room missions, they don’t always get that Essential Personnel point, while Corregidor has excellent melee specialist Characters which can do it. I also thought that for Cryogenics and Supplies I could make use of Fireteam-able Doctors to reliably cap Objectives, while also, in Cryogenics, moving points efficiently to secure quadrants.
I have recently questioned my longstanding process of mission analysis and creating dedicated mission lists. Some of the best players I know develop one basic list that they always take. For a tournament they might have 2 variants of it, with a specific unit switched out in case of certain tables, opponent match-ups or missions. I can really see the benefit of this – by constant practise you improve your knowledge of your own units and how they act together, freeing up thinking power to concentrate on achieving the mission and countering the opponent’s plan. But ultimately it’s not for me. I like trying new combinations and rotating in not just units, but different list structures that I feel suit the missions.
List 1 – Cryogenics & Supplies
I started with the initial assumption that I would field 2 Fireteams, each including a Daktari, to potentially move forward and grab Objectives or secure zones. At the same time, for redundancy and board control, I knew I needed the stalwart Moran Masai – 17pt minelayer specialists with Repeaters, and probably the most frequently used models in my collection – which meant bringing their friends Jazz, Billie and guided missile bot. I know, this is the dazzling insight Infinity players read this site for. It’s a normal Corregidor list, of course I took Jazz and Morans. When you’ve taken them, guided missiles are the next logical step. They can be a negative play experience for opponents, but honestly the main function is to threaten the opponent with hacking AROs and inhibit their movement. Trying to aggressively Spotlight and Guided in the Active turn is an option, but very Order Intensive. The only ways I usually try it are for a mission critical target like the enemy Lt … or a Supply Box carrier or Master Breacher. So I defend my choice as mission appropriate as well as just generally sensible.
To further assist this Repeater net and hacking capability I wanted to try a Tsyklon – this is a mobile Repeater which can also fire B2 Pitchers and is an OK gun piece in an Active Fireteam. I chose to support it with an EVAder engineer, a useful specialist and secondary gun. For my other team I went with an EVAder Feuerbach as I thought it could act at long range and against hard targets which the other team wouldn’t engage directly. Because that EVAder Feuerbach has a Firewall Tinbot, I then slotted in Valerya Gromoz. Not as good a hacker as either version of Jazz, she does bring another Pitcher. Finally, wanting another secondary gun for the late game (I might need to attack the enemy to get back a Supply Box, or secure a far quadrant) I opted for a multi rifle Mobile Brigada Lt rather than the conventional Alguacil Lt and Alguacil decoy. This is a dangerous potential weakness of the list. Savvy opponents will immediately clock that he is my Lt and target him. If I have to go second and come up against the right tools, e.g. Impersonators or Pitchers & Missiles, I can easily spend my Round 1 in Loss of Lieutenant.
My first ideas for this list included a Salyut EVO Hacker and a Hellcat Paramedic. The idea was I could buff my Tsyklon, potentially refill Pitchers, and then reliably drop a specialist who could reliably get an Objective. I eventually rejected this. AD is useful in quadrant controlling missions, but I can’t see a paramedic dropping to the objectives in the endgame in either mission, I think the Objectives will get activated in the opening phases and am more comfortable using my infiltrators in that role. I also considered McMurrough, because he is great. However I didn’t see him being as vital in Supplies, a mission which is ultimately decided by midfield specialists, and while I have a strong case for him in Cryogenics, at some level I just felt that (since I’d 100% take him in Panic Room) I should do something different. So I ended up going with a Bandit Killer Hacker. While he can attempt objectives (1 roll on WIP12 can be annoying) I mostly have him as a disposable attacker – Camo state can really help penetrate defences – and to add a third, hidden threat to my hacking structure. He gives me another ARO if some big boy hacker wants to attack through my own Repeater net.
As I juggled these little tweaks and strengthened the hacking structure, I ended up with a team of 4 and a team of 3 in my first group, rather than my intended 2×3. I’m fine with this as Sixth Sense is a really nice bonus to Valerya as a Firewalled hacker, and it reduces the risk of offering up my Feuerbach as a Round 1 ARO – not something I’d usually do, but always an option.
List 2 – Panic Room
My instinct as I began to draft this Panic Room list was to include a Gator, McMurrough, and 2 Fireteams which would include Wolfgang and Massacre. That would give me 4 efficient push pieces that could all score the essential personnel bonus. I also knew to include a Daktari, because in my opinion reviving a powerful model like Wolfgang or McMurrough is a clutch move, and you need to have that option. I initially wanted a ‘pure’ Core Fireteam of 4 Jaguars and Senor Massacre, and planned to include 1-2 panzerfaust Jaguars as disposable AROs. However my 1 practice game convinced me I had to tweak things to get a decoy Lt in there (I originally just YOLO’d it with one super obvious Alguacil, and while I came out OK, it clearly could have cost me the practice game). So I ended up with 2 Fireteams of 3 models, figuring that a Diablo would be a useful option to Berserk if necessary. I was quite concerned that the list lacked long range firepower, with only the Gator, and missiles as a back-up, but reasoned that if I went first, the Gator should do the job, and if I went second, I could always throw smoke and get to the Objective Room that way, even if pinned down at range.
Round 1 – Cryogenics, against Hassassin Bahram
Starting with an apology – I was excited and didn’t take any pictures of the deployment or start of the game. I’ll get this right one day I swear.
I won the roll and opted for deployment. Even against Hassassins and their horrible Impersonators, I rate the second turn advantage quite highly in this mission and was prepared to go second, mitigating the threat by covering my key models with Jaguars, crazy koalas, or if needed my reserve deployment. My opponent sensibly chose to go first and spent a command token to hold his 2 Fidays as reserves.
My opponent’s basic set-up was a safe 3-model team of Ghulams, obviously including his Lt, tucked out of Line of Fire (LoF) in his Deployment Zone (DZ); a 5-model team of Govads and Muyibs, including Doctor/Hacker/Engineer, gaining composition bonuses, and spearheaded by a Tac Aware Muyib Spitfire with X-Visor. He had a couple Ghazis and a flash pulse bot, but an unusual key feature of his list was a pair of Hassassin Shujae (Mimetism-6 skirmisher specialists), one with a rifle and one with a boarding shotgun, deployed to take the nearest objectives. I have only ever seen these before as SMG/Flamenspeer hidden deployment ARO surprises, and their inclusion was an indicator that my opponent planned to prioritise mission objectives over winning the firefight.
Seeing his lack of properly long ranged firepower (and anticipating his reserves would be Fidays) I placed my EVAder Feuerbach overwatching most of his force, including both Ghazis and his Fireteam. My other models were scattered about in cover, with plenty of long cross-board AROs in the DZ to hamper Impersonators and Jaguar’s covering Jazz and my Core team. He deployed his Fidays without rolling, one poised to attack Jazz on my right, and another prone on a roof threatening a Moran on my left. I deployed my reserve, the Bandit Killer Hacker, near my lef
t objective and rolled a multi rifle for his Booty. He chose the Shujae on my right as his Master Breacher; I chose my EVAder engineer on my left.
Round 1 kicked off with his Impetuous. He chose to move and throw smoke with the Ghazi on my right, despite the Feuerbach ARO. In my opinion this was an unecessary risk – the smoke wasn’t super important as his objectives and Shujae were already covered by terrain, and he was on a 15 to survive vs my 2x 16s to obliterate him. However I rolled a pair of 2s and he got the smoke down. The jammer Ghazi, also covered by the ARO, wisely chose not to activate. My opponent devoted some of his first turn to activating his Objectives, getting one and finding an HVT and failing an order to get the other. Mostly he used his Fiday, moving near Jazz while being discovered to Imp-2. He then laid 2 boarding shotgun templates on a jaguar, who discovered, and Jazz who dodged, while facing 2 normal rolls of 13s from the feuerbach. Both my models died outright and the shots missed. Worst possible outcome. This blessed Fiday then activated twice in ZoC of Valerya, who had AROs thanks to Sixth Sense, and chose to throw smoke (to blind the feuerbach) while taking a crazy koala to the face. I failed both Spotlight rolls, he tanked the koala (on 15+ to not straight up die!) And got his smoke down. This was not an auspicious start to my tournament. I was lucky the attack wasn’t more focussed on my key targets. It would have required even more atrocious luck to successfully dive-bomb my ARM5, 2W Lt – he was covered by multiple AROs including a B2 long range panzerfaust – but it could have happened. My opponent instead stpent his remaining orders developing his Core team’s position. In my opinion this was a mistake. Quadrant controlling isn’t scored until Round 3 and he brought a lot of targets into easier range of my attacks. He also did not re-impersonate his lucky Fiday, although to be fair I don’t remember if you can do this within ZoC of enemy models.
In my Turn 1 I had only lost 2 models, so had 13 Orders. I started by clearing available targets: my Core team activated and the EVAder cleanly feuerbach’d his one flash pulse bot, activated again and my Brigada Lt multi rifle’d his Fiday, activated again and the EVAder took his smoke Ghazi. So far so good. Things then got more Order Intensive as I landed pitchers to block his Fireteam’s further advance with the Tsyklon, and near his Master Breacher Shujae with Valerya, and wasted 2 Orders failing to land Spotlight. Then I realised I could fork with a Moran, deploying a koala covering him, before trying Spotlight again. This left my opponent with 3 options: do nothing, making the Spotlight easier; Dodge, trying to clear the koala but again risking being Targeted; or Reset and take a koala in the grill. Clearly the third option is terrible on a light unit, with a 70% chance to just die. I think the first option is the best as one way or another the active player needs to at least keep spending Orders. In the event my opponent chose to Dodge, on 13s, failed the roll anyway and died to the koala. I was very pleased to have nabbed his Breacher, sealing him off from at least 3OP, but in doing so I’d spent all my Group 1 Orders, so I gave up the chance to move my own Breacher into a scoring position. With my remaining few Group 2 Orders I moved my Fiday-threatened Moran on my left – my opponent, rather unwisely in my opinion, opted to reveal and template me, despite it meaning another koala in the face, and after some mutual risks and another Order his Fiday was dead to my combi rifle. So at the end of the Round I had taken a minor lead in inflicting casualties, neither of us had scored, and one HVT was revealed on his side of the board.
My opponent’s first concern during his second Turn was to flip the remaining Objective on his side, which to my dismay revealed the second HVT! Having both on the far side of the table meant I would have to really batter his forces in order to claim the 4OP at the end of the game. Next he pushed his Muyib Spitfire against my feuerbach ARO. Despite the long range, his composition bonuses and X-Visor meant we were on 13s all round. But with B5 to my B2, I took a wound and elected to drop prone into total cover, rather than risk being cut down in the next Order. Forcing my Tsyklon to drop prone as well after passing an ARM roll, he then pushed a Shujae forward to flip a third Objective, knowing it was empty, and locked me out of 2OP, because now I would be unable to activate 2 objectives myself. I could have opposed him by Dodging my Bandit out of camouflage, but my opponent had a few Orders left, and with that pure Core Fireteam (with MSV1 Govads as well as Muyibs, all of them BS16) I estimated I would probably lose him and my opponent would still have a good chance to claim the Objective. He spent the final Orders of his Turn 2 sending that Muyib Spitfire against my fre turret, outside of 16″, and here disaster struck him. I crit on a 4 and downed the Muyib, his Doctor revived him, he tried again and was downed again as well as being Targeted, and finally the Doctor failed the roll and killed him!
At the start of my Turn 2, I knew that I couldn’t score over 7OP for the game, having missed out on activating 2 or more consoles and on scoring a quadrant with my Master Breacher in Round 1. But in terms of the opposing forces I scented blood in the water. So I immediately activated my Core team, sighting my feuerbach on his Doctor, who it turns out had a panzerfaust, rolled better and vapourised my EVAder. Whatever, I didn’t need him! My opponent’s Fireteam was just too far forward to be safe. I Spotlighted and guided-missiled his remaining Shujae while moving my own remaining Core team forward, then I stood my Vertigo Zond up to take a cheeky missile shot at 2 members of his Core team who were clustered, with one just visible. The shot went home, the actual target passed all 3 saves and dropped prone, but his buddy got killed. My Bandit hooked round and felled his Muyib doctor with his illicit Booty multi rifle. Some inconclusive play between my EVAder engineer & Tsyklon, and his remaining Fireteam members, resulted in the Tsyklon I think dropping unconscious, but the EVAder Master Breacher safely scoring a quadrant.
My opponent started Round 3 with really quite little left. 3 Hassassins Muyib/Govad in his right near quadrant, and his three Ghulams in the centre of his DZ, truly pinned down by my Vertigo Zond. He activated his Govad Hacker but took a hacking ARO, a missile and I think a couple other shots, going down immediately. His remaining doctor managed 2 medikit rolls, on another Muyib and a Ghazi, and he passed the turn. Somewhere in all this (might have been the start of my Turn 3) my Tsyklon went down unconscious.
My Turn 3 was simply cutting down a couple of revived models, failing a gizmokit attempt on the Tsyklon, and pushing my Mobile Brigada Lt into the completely empty far right quadrant, while my Master Breacher secured the far left, assisted by the Bandit, although the only remaining Hassassin turned out to be 25 points to the EVAder’s 28 anyway. I already had my Classified Objective, which luckily was Telemetry (Forward Observe or Spotlight an enemy, aka the best one in the deck for this sort of Nomads list).
Result: 7-2 Victory to Corregidor, 207 VP to the enemy’s 63.
This was only my second game of Cryogenics and I maintain that the randomness of where the HVTs end up is just a bit silly. In a tight game, having 2 on the friendly side of the board can be an insuperable advantage. In this particular match, my opponent did exactly what I’d theorised about and locked 2OP by activating 3 Objectives, and he had that positional advantage – but like many missions that score heavily on points remaining at the end of the game, not every Round, it comes down to annihilation. Not to be overly critical of my opponent, but I think he put too many resources into achieving the objectives, and manoeuvring his Core team forward in Turn 1, when he should have been trying to degrade my forces more. Hindsight is 20/20 obviously.
Round 2: Supplies, against Caledonian Highlander Army
For the second game I drew an opponent who is new to me and was playing some nicely painted Caledonians. Once again I was very lucky in the pre-game, I drew Telemetry again, and Experimental Drug, 2 classifieds which were eminently achievable and wouldn’t waste any Orders, and I won the initiative roll! I chose to go first, as the very limited advantage to going second (you can snipe back supply boxes) is only relevant in close games; if you go first and utterly batter your opponent, they can’t usually gain much back in the final Turn. Having perhaps foolishly risked going second against Fidays in the last game, and got away with it, I also didn’t want to risk the opening rush of warbands and Uxia, probably backed by a Core team HMG.
I deployed my Fireteams on and behind buildings in opposite corners, scattered my support about, deployed Morans relatively aggressively and held my Bandit back. My opponent put up 2 camo markers on roofs in his DZ, 2 infiltrating camo markers hiding forward, some warbands (a pair each of Galwegians and Cameronians) scattered in hiding, and a 5 model Core of Wallace, a Scots Greys HMG, volunteers including a paramedic, and Isobel McGregor (a utility character hacker). He held one model back which I was damn sure would be Uxia McNeill. Here is where I started to ride my luck. I saw that my Bandit, if he could get up to the enemy Core team, could have a bash at Trinity-ing the hacker and then shotgunning trh doctor, before threatening the more valuable/resilient pieces. So I rolled (10 or less, perfect 50% chance) to forward infiltrate him, and passed on a 2. My opponent looked concerned and counter deployed a camo marker.
Turn 1 begins and I am docked 2 Orders in my larger group, fair. I immediately activated my feuerbach EVAder, knowing I was in line of sight of both camo markers, I moved so that I finished only in LoF to one. I figured these were Cateran snipers, probably T2, so this would be a huge risk, but if they revealed I could always try Spotlight and other direct fire options against them. I didn’t want them hanging around restricting me all game. I was wrong, one (the one I was breaking LoF with) was a Scots Guard missile! So his shot could splash my Brigada Lt as he shimmied prone into a building. A big risk. In the event, the missile was over 40″ so needed a 6 to hit, and missed – another Cateran might have even been more dangerous. As it was I lost the split burst FtF against the T2 sniper, but passed my save-or-die roll (needed a 10+). I began to look for other options to break this deadlock, because I did not fancy trying B3 on 7s against the Cateran on a 12.
So I used the Bandit, who conveniently rolled 8-4 Movement from Booty. I moved out of Isobel’s hacking area, then in a new order, declared Discover/Shoot on Uxia. I think we both used templates, but in any event I lived and she died. I then moved back and knocked out Isobel with Trinity. I moved again and scored 2 shotgun hits on his paramedic, beating her shots back, but my opponent passed both saves, and a warband Dodged into sight to cover me. After much hemming and hawing (I was running damn low on Orders) I moved my full 8″ to threaten Wallace, this forcing the Fireteam to Dodge, but taking at least 2 other template AROs. I split my burst between the paramedic and the Grey HMG, reasoning that these were the 2 important models which would be fully neutralised if they failed one ARM roll. Realistically this was a wild gamble, I have no idea what I was thinking. The Paramedic and the Bandit both ended up Unconscious, the Grey beat the shotgun with his Dodge roll.
I moved up my Tsyklon on the left and tried and failed B2 Pitchers which would have covered both his Cateran and Scots Guard. Damn. Relying on my Group 2 Order pool, I moved my left hand Moran right forward (big shout out to the mission rules giving them Super Jump, since they are Terrain Total models – couldn’t have done it otherwise) to within ZoC of his Scots Guard, while throwing out a koala. This let me fork Spotlight/Boost on him, similar to the previous game. My opponent once again chose to Dodge and died immediately. Hurrah for koalas! The TO dropped by during this Order and commented on how nasty they can be to force AROs like this. Finally, with that risky ML dead I decided to go for broke and try to get board dominance while I still had Burst advantage, and I risked my feuerbach against his Cateran sniper (B3 on 7s vs B1 on 12, since it was well over 32″ and he had Mimetism-3). Luck favoured me and the EVAder killed the sniper.
This left me in a very strong position at the end of my Turn 1. I had downed 5 models including 2 of my opponent’s 3 long range guns. My Tsyklon spitfire and EVAder feuerbach were both in positions where they locked down much of the table and could stop the enemy warbands, but the Grey HMG would have to spend several movement Orders to see either. And critically, while my opponent had I believe 4 Impetuous activations, he had 2 pools of 4 & 6 Regular Orders left. Not enough to build good attacks on. But I’m struck, looking back, on how confused the order in which I did things was, I wasn’t thinking too precisely and more just flying by the seat of my pants. I could easily have lost the Bandit in his first exchange, same with the EVAder, and spent all my remaining Orders trying to spotlight and failing. I was absolutely riding my luck.
At the start of his Turn 1, my opponent took a wound on one Cameronian on my left, near my overstretched Moran, during his Impetuous move (he rolled poorly for smoke) and also got Targeted, netting my a classified. His other warbands moved down the flanks safely. One note I saw here – in his Impetuous activation for the Galwegian down my right flank, we discovered I had an ARO from my Daktari in the Core team, but the Galwegian beat my shots with smoke. I think my opponent should have Dodged instead, then his Grey HMG should have been able to sweep up my Daktari easily. Instead, my opponent moved his Fireteam across, shooting down a koala but only forcing my free Secdet CSU prone after I passed 1 ARM roll. He sacrificed his wounded Cameronian to down my Moran, and his other Galwegian, on my far left, to get a chain rifle template onto my Tsyklon. I passed that ARM roll as well. Lucky, but frankly I had an engineer right behind and plenty of command tokens, so I don’t think that was a worthwhile risk. Finally, my opponent forced his other Cameronian along my right flank, downing my other Moran but dying in the process. I can live with that. All this allowed his camouflaged SAS in the centre to nick the middle supply box and try to hide away.
My Turn 2, I began by sweeping up the remaining Galwegian with my feuerbach EVAder. With his other 3 warbands all having gone down in ARO, this left my opponent with just his 2 SAS, the remaining 3 Fireteam members in a corner, and a 112 Motorised Doctor pinned down in the middle by my dominant feuerbach. I started activating my Haris on the left, getting a successful medikit on an Unconscious Moran (achieving my second Classified Objective) and swiping the left-hand supply box with my Daktari, then moving left to right across the board. I killed his SAS holding the box in the centre with either the Tsyklon or EVAder Engineer, can’t remember, and then picked it up with the EVAder. Finally my Tsyklon engaged his Grey HMG and knocked him out, leaving that Haris holding 2 boxes in good cover in the centre, with the box on my right still unclaimed.
My opponent’s Turn 2 saw him with very little left, in fact probably just over Retreat. He had Wallace, one SAS still in Camouflage, a cheap Volunteer and his 112 Doctor. He couldn’t challenge my feuerbach ARO, or indeed the Tsyklon, so he simply moved his SAS cautiously to achieve one Classified Objective and prepared to Secure the HVT
In my Turn 3, I spent most of my Orders grabbing the remaining supply box and hiding with my Secdet CSU – mission granted Super-Jump once again proving useful to get into total cover on a raised walkway – and pulling my Haris with the other boxes back into total cover. I did have a slap at his 112 and his SAS with my feuerbach and my Vertigo Zond, but his Dodge and Flash Pulse rolls beat me.
In my opponent’s Turn 3, with both classified points but no real hope of winning the game, he chose to throw smoke on Wallace so he could safely climb onto a high shipping container, then move into view and take a last ditch, plunging shot at my Daktari over the barricade he was sheltering behind. While an ingenious move, I survived. He had 3 shots on 7s and I fluffed my Dodge, I took 1 hit but passed the ARM roll. I also am not sure this was really necessary. All props to my opponent for playing the spirit of the game by denying me OP, but technically tournament standing is by TP/OP/VP – the number of OP scored against you doesn’t count. So in his position I might have elected to keep Wallace alive instead of taking a chance to deny OPs.
The final result was a 10-2 Victory for Corregidor, with 247 VP to his I believe 46. I had everything and he had one classified and secured the HVT.
I was just overall lucky throughout this mission. No super egregious rolls, like crits on unlikely AROs, but my opponent consistently failed or low-rolled smoke grenades, my key attacks won the FtF and downed the target in one Order, that sort of thing. My opponent was thoroughly polite about it as well, fair play to him. Looking back I took some big risks and thought sloppily in my initial Turn 1, and the game only turned out well because I put so much pressure on my opponent when it turned out well.
Round 3: Panic Room, against Onyx Contact Force
Panic Room is always an absolute slugfest and a fun game. My opponent, incidentally, was an all round fun guy, we were laughing, joking and having a blast right from the beginning. His army was also gorgeous, as seen in the pictures. Every surface blended and highlighted masterfully in some vivid alien colours. Here I was a bit lucky yet again: my opponent won the initiative roll, but chose Deployment. I consider the second Turn a huge advantage in Panic Room, and given that the confused deployment rules hamper alpha strikes (as do 8” DZs, but those are a double edged sword since they also constrain defensive deployment) I am perfectly willing to deploy blind if it means going second. It is so very much easier to attack into the room than to try and hold it. As a bonus, I drew a choice of In Extremis Recovery (coup de grace and a WIP+3 roll) or Predator (kill 2 models in cc, with a bonus if 3 or more), which are both achievable with my list. I opted for Predator just because it could probably be done without wasting any Orders and the enchanting prospect of a bonus point if things got really messy.
I deployed with my 3-model Fireteams hidden, with sacrificial Jaguars if needed, both near the centre, my Remotes on the right, trying to present flash pulse AROs to anything trying to break into my DZ, but not beyond that. On my left I put Wolfgang and Jazz, each flank had an Alguacil, and secretly the one on the right was my Lt. My opponent had a big Unidron & Nexus Fireteam, including the plasma sniper and missile launcher, on my right, some Ikadrons and Imetrons, Bit & Kiss in the centre, and then a Duo of Nourkias and a HRL (+1B) Overdron on my left. As Reserves, I dropped the Gator where it could oppose enemies assaulting the centre of my DZ, and my opponent rolled to deploy a Geif Operator – fortunately for me he failed the roll and went back to his DZ, on my left.
Looking at the enemy force, I decided the real existential threat to my TAG, which I thought was the most exposed important piece, was Bit. I don’t have an engineer in my stupidly aggressive list, so Oblivion is a probably game-ending program for it. Accordingly I took 2 Orders from his smaller pool, reducing them to 4 (he had an EVO hacker for the mission bonus) but leaving a full group of 10, plus the Overdron’s Tactical Awareness and Nourkias’ NCO.
My opponent would spend all 12 of those Orders in an extremely aggressive push with that Duo. First he moved them straight up my left flank (I had no AROs covering that approach, which against the Overdron I was fine with) up to my very DZ. Here, with golden hindsight, I think my opponent made a mistake. The Overdron has a Tinbot Firewall-3, which perhaps my opponent really wanted to ensure Nourkias could beat Jazz in a hacking duel. But I don’t think that relatively minor mechanical advantage is at all worth bringing a valuable model (valuable in points and in future usefulness as a long range, resilient ARO and attacker) right inside my reach, especially since, as a TAG, it is vulnerable to the close assault units he could see my list was full of.
In any case, his opening attack was for Nourkias to Trinity Jazz, and with his Burst advantage and 15WIP he handily knocked her out in one Order. I think he also poked out and tried his breaker combi rifle at Wolfgang and my decoy Alguacil, but that Order was inconclusive. My opponent then set about using Total Control on the Gator. It took him a few Orders, but he did get it. Here I think he made a second error in how he used it. Within its +0 range band, the Gator used its Multi HMG and did knock Wolfgang Unconscious, but I was able to cover the remaining accessible models (the Jaguar, McMurrough and Alguacil with the Jaguar’s smoke. Now when I was asked what weapons the Gator had, I reeled off the full list, and I really should apologise to my opponent if I did not slow down enough for him to realise it has a Mine Dispenser. This came up after the opportunity had passed, and it transpired he had not realised that. I now believe that probably would have been a good move, so sorry if I cost him that chance. Deprived of the chance to gun down any more targets with the Orders remaining, the possessed Gator was then marched into cc with McMurrough, but frankly that wasn’t too terrifying a prospect for me. The Gator rolls CC20, but McMurrough has a decent chance to Dodge on 16s and has Total Immunity so will almost always survive one Order.
Only then going to his reduced Group 2 Orders, my opponent got long-ball Pitchers down, covering my Gator, with Bit/Kiss and ducked them back into Total Cover. B3 Pitchers, which could be infinitely refilled by the conveniently placed Ikadrons, are an absolutely savage hacking projection system. My only saving grace was that Bit can’t Spotlight, so only my Gator (and my Diablo a good way off) were vulnerable to her ARO shenanigans. He had 1-3 Orders left after the pitching which he could have used for Oblivion, so even my Command Token use might not have saved my Gator, but fortunately whilst it was in the Possessed State it wasn’t a valid target. Even more seriously, having spent his entire Group 1 Order Pool on the attacking Duo and then my Gator, he had to take BTS rolls on 4-6 models from the Biotechvore zone. He was really very lucky to lose only 1STR on his Overdron, and his Unidron ML.
When my opponent’s turn ended, I was down Jazz and Wolfgang, McMurrough was wounded . . . but at the bargain of 1 Command Token I had my Gator back unharmed. He was pinned under a Repeater, so my opening moves were to use my Daktari, revive Wolfgang, re-form that Fireteam and move up toward the Objective Room, destroying the Repeater with B3 light shotgun templates on the way. Then I moved McMurrough round the building and approached the Overdron. My opponent sensibly Dodge Nourkias to threaten counter-cc, and I didn’t want to risk mutual melee destruction just yet, so I used my Gator, dropping a mine near Nourkias and then trying to shoot him, but he Dodged again. So, to save Orders, I sent McMurrough against the OVerdron and took its remaining 2STR in one blow, knocking it out. Nourkias Dodged into melee with McMurrough in ARO. So my next Order was to Berserk McMurrough. Nourkias took 3 Dam18 AP/DA hits from a crit and died, and while I was risking a coin flip to go Unconscious, even with my ARM4 Total Immunity, I was happy to take that risk – I could always fire B2 medikits at him and try to revive on a 16.
This is what I meant by my opponent making a strategic error. His attack was terrifying, and with a bit more luck and things falling out differently could have put me in serious danger. But he also left his Nourkias/Overdron Duo, 98 points, where I could immediately attack them. Not worth giving up second turn advantage, and it could also have cost him a lot more if the Biotechvore BTS rolls hadn’t been so forgiving. With the last part of my Turn 1, I cleared my models from the danger zone, positioned my Gator as a cautious ARO, put my decoy Alguacil into an aggressive Suppression Fire position (for lack of anything else to do, since I didn’t want to over-stretch the Gator with the other Orders in that group) and finally ran Wolfgang just inside the Objective Room, claiming a nice 2OP for the Round.
My opponent, nothing daunted, kicked off his Turn 2 with another furious attack. He got Marksmanship up on his plasma sniper Unidron using his E-Drone, and then led that pure Core Fireteam into the midfield. Without any failed FtF rolls, which is natural enough on B3 17s, he obliterated my flash pulse bot, and simultaneously the EVO hacker which was too close behind it, and was caught in the template. Then he took 2STR off the Gator in one Order, forcing me to Guts into total cover. He stormed through Wolfgang (Unconscious again), the suppressing Alguacil, and then, by moving around the other side of the Objective Room, ended up fighting a Jaguar and my Gator again simultaneously. The Jaguar melted but knocked out another Unidron with its template, and finally the Gator scored the lucky ARO hit he needed (I think it was actually a crit) and having taken 5 models down with him, the Unidron sniper expired – may we never see his like again. To cap it off, the Greif Operator took a cheeky combi rifle burst at McMurrough and killed him cleanly. I lost 6 models in this Turn! My opponent ended it with a Unidron and a Nexus Operative in the room and a spread of pitched Repeaters to keep my Gator back.
In my Turn 2, I moved the wounded but still dangerous Gator laterally across my DZ, gunning down a Unidron in the room from the centre. Then I sent in Senor Massacre and his Fireteam, using Eclipse smoke to close in and murder the Nexus, who was Prone so couldn’t be taken at range. I also revived Wolfgang again, so I ended the turn with 4 models in the room and scored the full 2OP again.
At the start of Round 3, my opponent still had a fair few models left, but was running low on points and even more on models which could fight in the room. He put Marksmanship on his EVO drone and had a blast at Wolfgang, but I passed either my Dodge or ARM roll and got back into total cover. I believe he pushed it again and got destroyed by the Gator in ARO. Finally my opponent was reduced to throwing an Ikadron into the room, but luckily I passed Dodges with all 3 affected models and locked it into melee with Senor Massacre. My Turn 3 was simply killing it, more to gain the second kill and score Predator than anything else, and moving my other models safely from the zone. I also medikited my decoy Alguacil, just for the VP.
Final result was 10-0 to me, with 215 VP to his 74. This was a brutal mission, and to me the scoreline mostly reflects how much I prefer to go second in Panic Room. I think if you go first, you have to target the right things, put up some very impressive AROs and also be a bit lucky. It can be done – I heard about a very interesting game being played simultaneously, where a Tunguska player managed to win going first by occupying the room in strength and blanketing Repeaters and hacking threats – but I find it much more natural to go second. Even if my opponent had neutralised my Gator and Jazz and left his Overdron and Unidron plasma sniper in overwatch during Turn 1, I think I could have snuck the OPs by using smoke to get inside the room and forcing him to fight at close quarters.
Well, having won all 3 games, with a total of 15TP and 27OP, I did manage to sneak first place at the tournament. The next placement, out of 19 players (we had one cancellation, so there was a bye) had 14TP and 23OP, so I can fairly say I won. I do think that I was very fortunate to get that result, for several reasons. In all three missions, I got the turn order I wanted. I had highly achievable and efficient Classified Objectives in all three missions. My luck at FtF rolls was fine in the first and third games and very good in the second. There simply weren’t any notably unlucky rolls against me in any critical situations – I lost a couple models in ARO during Game 1, but that was at a point where those models didn’t matter. The worst statistical luck I had all day was a couple occasions when enemy 1W models passed 3 ARM rolls at once from missiles. But of all the Orders to be unlucky on, those are the perfect kind, because you don’t lose anything by it, you simply have to spend another Order, which in those cases I had. Finally, while all three of my opponents seemed like sound players who understood the game, there were maybe 6-7 of the attendees who I know well from previous tournaments across the UK over the years, and who I know are formidable opponents with long track records of competitive success. By chance, I didn’t draw against any of them.
The last point to note, maybe more important than the results, is that I had a great time. I saw plenty of friends, it was good to catch up, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves immensely, the day was well organised and ran smoothly. I brought my golden retriever and everyone fawned over her, although I’m not sure that one chap should have given her quite so much of his sandwich. I have already marked my calendar for the next St Albans tournament, which should be in February 2023 and be counted among the UK Satellite events.
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