Infinity Tournament Report: Steel City Skirmish March 2023

After my last report I had the chance to attend another one day event, this time in Sheffield (a small city in Northern England, for anyone who doesn’t know it). They have an established Infinity group and this was actually a relatively large venue by UK standards. So we had 14 tables, 29 attendees (one got a bye).

The three missions were Frostbyte, a custom mission called Extrication which you can read here, and the dreaded Biotechvore. I looked at these, or more specifically at the stock missions, and thought this was the time to bring out my Military Orders. I needed some incentive to get priming and basecoating on them anyway. Praise the lord and pass the ammunition!

The Lists

Just for fun, I thought I’d try making these lists around 1 combat group. Just pack in the armoured elites. MO are so expensive points wise and I feel it’s very awkward to make even 14 models, you end up with every list taking the maximum number of bots and supporting 1W models. It’s sort of the opposite of how everyone envisions the Sectorial, IE a holy hit squad of space knights. If you want good examples of all round competitive MO lists, a player used them to take 3rd place in the recent IGL satellite, winning 5 of 6 games which must have been against very strong opposition. Both their lists include Teutons, Trinitarians and the Tikbalang, the holy trinity of MO tools, and pack in the unarmed bots to make up the numbers. I think it’s basically a solved faction at this point. But Biotechvore is a very different kettle of fish and Infinity would get very boring if we all did the right thing.

List 1: Frostbyte & Biotechvore

Now I was committed to the bit, but I’m not mental. So my starting point was 3 Teutons, and as the first list was for Biotechvore and Frostbyte, I backed them up with a Crosier Paramedic to try and revive things. I knew I wanted to play with the Tikbalang, which I acknowledge is the apex predator in the Sectorial and which I don’t have much experience with. So I threw a Curator engineer into the Core Fireteam as well. Normally I prefer engineers to be solo and use Servant bots, but for Biotechvore I wanted to move everyone up the table together. To add to the full core and Tik, I took the Montesa Paramedic, a super useful mission specialist and OK assault piece, Mendoza, just because I wanted to use him, then a flash pulse bot and Warcor because I was running low on points. This was efficient enough that I could afford a Trinitarian sniper in the second group.

I am actually really happy with this list for Biotechvore, and it’s fine for Frostbyte too. I have one big Fireteam, 4 regular models that can Coordinate and are actually fast enough (or can try to Forward Deploy) to leave the zone quickly. I have a Core missile launcher and a TAG to post AROs to stop the enemy leaving their zone, and a sniper ambush on top, although revealing him without being able to move him into he first group is obviously very dangerous in Biotechvore. For Frostbyte, ultimately I have the Tik and Mendoza who can put a LOT of points into the zone and specialists in the biker and the Fireteam, it’ll do.

List 2: Extrication

With that done I went on to write a list for Extrication. This has a hacker bonus which piqued my interest and caused me to commit to De Fersen and a Santiago KHD in two hacking-capable HI Fireteams. Maybe a false basis to go on; reading the mission again, there are only 2 objectives to WIP roll activate, and each player only really needs to do one of them. So the WIP roll bonus should not have been a big part of my list planning. In any case, I went with a 4 model Core Fireteam of De Fersen, as my Lt, and 3 Teutons inc a Tinbot Firewall-3 and ML. Then a Haris of Hospitallers Doctor, HMG and the Santiago KHD. Sticking with the single group precept I added in a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre NCO with AP HMG, squeezing in tow cheap bots to fill the group.

In hindsight, and not to spoil you on the list’s performance, I was a bit of an idiot here. The other missions are well suited to playing with fewer models. In Biotechvore it can almost be an advantage! Whereas this Extrication mission actually did want players to spend more Orders on movement, picking up and depositing Objectives, etc. I 100% should have gone with a conventional 14-15 model list. I even drafted one, and rejected it. I was very proud of my Tinbot-protected hacking in this list, but didn’t consider that I’d included no repeaters to extend my hacking or guided missile to capitalise on it. While I had specialists in both teams, one was my Lt and in both teams they were 4-4 movement and starting in my DZ. We’ll see how it played out in practice, but man this was not a sound idea. 

Game 1: Frostbyte

Pre-Game & Deployment

I drew against Haqqislam, and I did recognise my opponent as the winner of a previous tournament of attended a year or two before. However he said he hadn’t played much in the last year, and felt a bit rusty. I drew two good classifieds – Extreme Prejudice (appropriate for my gang of religious fanatics) and Follow-Up, and won the roll, choosing deployment. Here my list came into the equation. With many factions I would be nervous of going second against Impersonators. But with my array of fairly tough, Martial Arts-having models, and my Lt protected in a Core team, I wasn’t worried too much about them, and thought I’d rather stand the first turn attack, and counter to increase my chances of holding the zone, than go first myself. 

My opponent deployed a fairly standard Haqqislam array of Asawira, a couple Barids with pitchers, a missile bot and a Ghulam hacker at the back (I suspected, wrongly as it turned out, that this was a Hafza Lt) and a couple Daylami camouflaged about the place. He also had one Mimetism-3 camouflage marker forward deployed in total cover on his left. Interestingly he had a Duo on his right of a Rafiq FO bot, so Tac Aware and Marksman under the seasonal rules, and a Namurr Total Immunity spitfire. His only smoke was Zuleyka on his far left. Looking at this array, I wasn’t too concerned with his direct firepower, which I thought would be taking real risks to get into effective range and then engage my Fireteam or Tikbalang, and wouldn’t really be able to get Mendoza. On the other hand, the pitchers, hackers and guided missiles were an existential threat. 

I therefore deployed everything far back enough that pitchers would either have to be long-balled or fired suicidally while running into AROs. In any case Teutons in a Core team dodge on 17s against missiles, so do have some chance to recover, and in theory I had an engineer to remove any other negative hacking effects. So my Fireteam was on and behind a tall central building, with the ML stopping his biker from Impetuous moving and covering the doors that pitchers could be fired from. Mendoza, the Montesa biker and the other unlinked models were all stood relatively safe and awaiting their own turns. I hid the Trinitarian sniper on another rooftop, covering the obvious line of advance for the Namurr and a Barid on my left. 

My opponent deployed his 2 reserves, (he had spent a command token) which were the predicted pair of Impersonation markers, both outside my DZ to avoid risking a roll. One went inside a building threatening the Montesa, another directly in front of the Core Fireteam. In retrospect, I think my opponent might have been better off keeping his Asawira AP spitfire as one of his reserves. But different strokes for different folks. I deployed by Tikbalang on my back board edge as it was the one thing I really wanted to protect from hacking. If my opponent could get my fragile engineer with a Fiday, and get the Tikbalang under a pitcher, he could neutralize it and that would be a true embuggerance. I wasn’t as worried about the Fidays against the Tik directly, trusting in my Heavy Flamethrower and other intervening models’ AROs.

Round 1

The game kicked off, I stripped 2 orders from his first pool, and he immediately went to his Impersonators. Al-Djabel threw smoke carefully to cover the doorway of his building, while the Montesa outside it failed to dodge. He then crept through the smoke (the Tik could have ARO’d otherwise) and fought the Montesa hand to hand. Crusade redux! Now I think this was a bit of a silly risk. We were both on 23, so the FtF was a coinflip. He was Dam16 viral against my BTS6, so I needed 11s to save, while he was only ARM1 against my Dam14 DA, so needed 14s to save. I had 2 Wounds to his 1. Realistically it is more likely to kill Al-Djabel than the knight. In the event, the Montesa went down in the first order. Dice game, innit? However my opponent didn’t spend an order to coup de grace the knight. We discussed this afterward and agreed it was a mistake – my paramedic was in perfect position to stand up and shoot medkits at him later.

His other Impersonator spent an Order moving out of LoF of the Fireteam, into the storey of the building below them – I had not noticed it had openings on that side. I held my missile launcher’s ARO, not wanting to take unopposed shotgun blasts if I declared discover. I also didn’t ARO with the Trinitarian, because against a marker you literally have to declare ‘hold’ and place your own camo marker on the table, which spoils the surprise! He used this safety to chuck smoke behind himself, screening the missile. Now I think my opponent should have capitalized on this with some pitcher play, as he would try later on, but in fact he went to another part of the table, moving his Namurr and Rafiq forward and opening some doors. This was with his second action (the table had some prescribed rules for doors – it was a short movement skill to open or close them, and it could be combined with attacks, it explicitly wasn’t just open at the end of the Order) so I ARO’d with my Trinitarian and wounded the Namurr. This revealed sniper really discombobulated my opponent, fulfilling my best expectations of it. I was pinning down another Barid completely in the open, and stopping his advance towards either me or the Objectives. My opponent thought a while and then used a coordinated Order to reposition a few models, with said Barid moving to safety and the Namurr as the spearhead. With a choice of who to ARO, I chose to oppose the Namurr rather take a great shot at the Barid but risk being killed myself. Possibly a mistake.  Nothing happened, either we drew the FtF or he passed his ARM rolls. 

Surprise! The Hidden Deployment Mimetism-6 sniper is an Infinity tradition, and one I’ve not played with much previously.

Casting about for options, my opponent brought in a Bashi Bazouk on my right flank, on the very edge of my DZ, and behind my ML’s arc of fire. My Tik did get an ARO (at one of 2 visible holo echoes, so had to guess one) but missed. He used this to move, bluff the Tik into holding, then move again out of LoF, before moving and knocking out my Fugazi flash pulse. This was fine but honestly a couple regular Orders to take out a 7pt bot is fine with me, and the Bashi Bazouk was left swinging in the wind. Returning to his main force, my opponent moved a Barid on his left, opening a door and chucking a pitcher at long range, but fortunately making it. This covered my ML and possibly some other Fireteam members – but he was out of Orders to exploit it, and had to pass the turn after re-Impersonating with Al-Djabel.

My opponent’s first turn. You can see on my right where Al-Djabel has defeated my knight of Montesa and the Fugazi has been knocked out.

As I said at the time, my turn was definitely the Tik show. In Frostbyte, as my Master Breacher, it even got an extra Order to add to its Tactical Awareness order. I took out the Bashi Bazouk while failing to discover Al-Djabel, then moved and destroyed the repeater pinning my Fireteam. I worked around my right, passing right by Al-Djabel and provoking him to try and dodge into melee, only to be gunned down with B4 HMG shots – negative range modifiers are a small protection when you’re BS15 and not hampered by Mimetism or partial cover. This let me mount a building and try to kill the other Fiday, but he made his smoke Dodge. I continued on, taking a wound from a lucky panzerfaust shot but eventually taking out 2 Daylami, and finally reaching an elevated position where I could see Zuleyka’s fat Silhouette 4 over her cover, killing her easily. In my Fireteam, the medic struck a couple medikit shots into the Montesa, bringing him back to life, before the Teuton ML adjusted its position on the roof and blew apart his Rafiq at long range. This left my opponent down 6 models in total, while I’d only lost my Fugazi, but he still had plenty of force left including his gunfighters and hacking set-up. I set the Tikbalang on Suppression and passed the turn.

The end of Round 1. Note my Tikbalang in an aggressive suppressing position on my right.

Round 2

My opponent’s first move was to send the Asawira (his Master Breacher) against the Tikbalang, which proved to be a mistake. The only spot he could fire from without seeing the Teuton ML was inside 16″, so he was on 4x 8s vs my 3x 12s, and of course I was tougher than him with a higher Damage weapon. The Asawira took one Wound and realized it was a bad idea, pulling back behind total cover on my right. My opponent’s next option was his remaining Fiday, which peeked out of his building and put the Montesa down again. He then peeked on the other side to see my Curator and Teuton spitfire. They were equidistant from the window he used, so we didn’t think there was any way he could ‘slice the pie’ to see one first. I declared shoot with both, the Fiday killed the Curator with templates, but went down himself in a volley of return fire.

The Fiday taking down some Fireteam members and giving his life for the cause.

Only then did my opponent turn to hacking, which as in the first turn, I really think ought to have been his Plan A. Luckily for me, he missed a pitcher in good range which could have affected my Tikbalang. That left his Barid hacker on my right with no pitchers remaining. His Barid KHD on my left ran forward, accepting multiple AROs to fire a pitcher in positive range. He died but landed the repeater. Now it was affecting Mendoza, my Trinitarian, the Teuton ML, and the Teuton spitfire NCO. His Ghulam hacker went on a tear. He succeeded in 3 hacking FtF rolls in a row – but two were to Carbonite my Teutons, rather than trying to Isolate them. A real mistake IMO unless he had the Orders to follow up and shoot them, which he didn’t. The third Order was to try and Isolate Mendoza, which would have kept him out of the game, but I made my BTS roll. I think this was something of a wasted chance. Active turn hacking is very Order intensive but some combination of Oblivion and/or Spotlight on any of these targets and following up with missiles, or even Carbonite and following up with the Namurr’s spitfire, would have been better. 

A hackstravaganza! I was lucky to escape permanent harm here.

As it was, on my Turn 2 I was able to destroy the repeater with the Trinitarian, although he got Targeted as I did so. I then reset the Fireteam successfully, and revived the Montesa again. The biker knight was having a rollercoaster day at work. He promptly sped off to the Objective and activated a heater in my DZ, putting me on the board for some OPs. Back to the Tik! He launched forward, mantling over some neat 3d printed spaceship terrain to engage the Barid and Ghulam Hackers at long range, and down both.  Moving again, I fought the Asawira but he survived and rolled his Guts to move back into total cover. I sent the Tik in after him with my final Orders, after pondering if the camo marker next to him was a hacker that would end my career. My prediction was that, since my opponent had revealed his Asawira was his Lt, it was a Farzan chain of command … and I was right! Facing the prospect of a heavy flamethrower covering both models, the Farzan couldn’t just stand still, so both dodged. I split my burst evenly, and with that superb 15 BS, killed them both. Glorious rampage.

The Tikbalang having overrun my opponent’s Lt and CoC in the same Order – one of his earlier kills is visible in the background.

Round 3

This left my opponent in Loss of Lieutenant, and if Retreat were a thing in Frostbyte, would have been that as well. He had 3 models remaining, the Namurr spitfire, missile bot and a flash pulse bot. The Namurr ran for an objective into multiple AROs, splitting her burst to contest them, and died. The missile bot tried twice to blow up my Trinitarian – I beat his shot with my dodge, miraculously, on the first try, and he flat out missed on the second. Clearly god protected him.

With a free third turn, and having all my main Objectives done, as I had far more surviving, had a heater active which would preserve my cold-vulnerable models, and controlled the scoring zone, I simply completed Extreme Prejudice and returned the Tikbalang to the enemy HVT to secure it.

Summary

The game ended 10-0 to me, with 276 pts remaining to his 23. This was a really brutal pasting and I was delighted with how my list performed. I think my opponent had a bad match-up in that his Fidays didn’t have access to many of their natural prey, ie 1W models or those without melee skills, I was able to keep my Tikbalang safe from Fidays due to deployment advantage. I was lucky I won the roll and got my preferred deployment/turn order anyway. But also I would have done a few things differently in my opponent’s shoes. He spent different Orders on a variety of maneuvers in Turn 1, a bit of Fiday play, a Bashi Bazouk, finally some re-positioning and pitchers. My advice, with hindsight, would have been for him to go straight to the pitchers, spend all Orders on them if needed, try and Isolate my key models, then have a Fiday stage-dive my Engineer if the hacks got through. That could have crippled me. Disengaging my obnoxious hindsight visor, my opponent played well but suffered from the match-up, I know him to be a strong player but he did seem a bit rusty. The score would not have run as one-sided either if I hadn’t been a bit lucky with the Tik during Turn 2 – he could have been bricked by a hacker, or failed to kill the Asawira Lt and gotten into a slogging match in the final Haqq turn. If that had gone against me I still probably would have been able to win the game with Mendoza and the Fireteam, but it would have seemed less of a massacre. 

Game 2: Extrication 

This was a very interesting custom mission, written by the TO (and I believe local Warcor and Infinity community leader) for submission to the ITS in one of the previous contests CB has held, but so far not adopted. Admittedly I’ve only played it once, but I think it is a very interesting mission indeed and would be happy to see it added to the ITS or indeed replace some of the current missions. Like supplies, you activate Objectives to release supply boxes, but they aren’t in the same place. From Round 2, you can extract those boxes off the board from zones near each players deployment, and those zones can also be dominated at the end of the game. There is a lesser OP payoff for just holding boxes at the end of the game, if you can’t extract them. A really nice and more complex take on Supplies, with the same tension between wanting the right of reply, and being able to seize the initiative, smash the enemy and run away with the boxes. It also borrows a minor element present in Frostbyte/Mindwipe, that you can lock your opponent out of 1OP by activating both the Objectives (which releases all 3 supply boxes). Overall I’d say the mission does reward going first, but there are some balancing factors to it.

Pre-Game & Deployment

I was matched against a player I’ve seen a several tournaments before and knew to be top notch; we were glad to be able to play as we’d never had the chance before. I was less enthused that he was using Steel Phalanx – I have only played against this Sectorial once since their recent update, and was soundly beaten. They are a terrifying force and I don’t think MO has great counters to their massed Mimetism-6. I would have been happier with some cheap warbands and hacking/guided missile tricks. My opponent won the roll and chose to go first, and I stupidly stuck with my mission-specific list, which in hindsight I realize had worse tools against Steel Phalanx than the other, I should have been mentally agile enough to go back to that. 

My opponent had 2 horrible 4-model Fireteams, one on each flank. On his right was Machaon, Phoenix and 2 Myrmidons, on his left Eudoros, Acmon, Pandora and a Myrmidon. So basically strong gunfighters, to whose Mimetism-6 I had no real answer, reliable eclipse and normal smoke, tons of specialists, doc/eng/hacker support, and a mix of 1W and 2W models. If it’s not clear, I consider this army format extremely good. He had a couple cheap models, I suspected a drop troop or hidden model, and his reserve was Penthesilea in the centre.

I deployed my Teuton ML and both panzerfaust models on a rooftop on my left, because they could all see multiple members of the Machaon/Phoenix Fireteam, including Machaon, who was clearly his Lt, and he had no CoC. This was bold and did have a lot of potential to hamper his first turn offensive – we’ll see how it turned out. I realized later the drawback, that I was badly out of position to employ my Teuton shotguns offensively, and they would have been one of my better options against his Fireteams. De Fersen rounded out their team safely behind a building on my left, and my Hospitaller/Santiago Haris sat far back in total cover on my right. I hid a Mulebot under the Teutons so I could reload panzerfausts with Baggage, and a Fugazi in the middle. I counter deployed my Knight of the Holy Sepulchre on the centre opposite Penthesilea. Here I messed up a bit, I thought it would be clever to bluff covering her initial position, and made the real Holo marker one which wasn’t looking out too far. I have no idea how to maximize the benefits of this model defensively.

My Teutons offering AROs to an entire Steel Phalanx Fireteam.

Round 1

I stripped my opponent of 2 orders from his main pool, as there were only 3 cheerleaders in the other. His first problem was to extricate (ha, mission reference) his Machaon/Phoenix Fireteam from multiple dangerous AROs. Trusting in Mimetism-6 alone is dangerous against panzerfausts and missiles, if you’re trading normal rolls or relying on a single dodge roll. He adroitly used Penthesilea to cover some of the Fireteam in smoke. She wasn’t close enough to protect all of them and still place the marker within 8″ of herself, and maybe the angle would have been difficult anyway. But it did allow my opponent to reveal an Agema ML in his second group and smoke-shoot one of the Teutons, without provoking the others! Now this was, in my opinion, a nuts play. With my Sixth Sense and no Mimetism of his own, and we were within 32″, he was on a 13 vs my 2x 13s. We discussed this at length after the game and his logic was that by taking the risk, he could blow the game open. I agree and it’s interesting. I personally would have just totally shielded the Fireteam with smoke, then moved them out, and used Phoenix to engage the Teutons one by one from another position as I moved on the Objective. But my opponent wanted to avoid that as a bigger order expenditure. In the event, he lost the FtF and passed all 3 saves. I was livid. He tried again at my now-unloaded Teuton but I passed my 17 to Dodge and dropped prone. So he tried again at my ML on the same odds! Absolute madman, and this time he did win and knocked me out. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not bitter at all.

With all these orders saved for the main combat group, Penthesilea now activated and zipped right down the centre, closing on my Sepulchre Knight. She came into LoF of the real Holo, and I compounded my deployment error by saying I wouldn’t ARO, but my opponent shot me anyway! Either he saw through my ruse or didn’t want to move again. An illustration of the dangers of bluffing in Infinity. Fortunately I passed ARM rolls. He then blitzed toward me, a shootout was inconclusive, and then attacked me in melee. I was at a significant disadvantage, because the knight only has Natural Born Warrior and Penthesilea doesn’t have Martial Arts, just Close Combat (-6). So I was on 16 against her 23. Interestingly, if I’d had MA rather than NBW, it would have been much closer. But of course Penthesilea is cheaper than the knight, she has a monofilament weapon while he only has Shock (or a heavy pistol, which ironically is the same and 1 higher damage). I predictably lost the fight and died. This was an excellent, surgical move by my opponent, really leveraging his strengths against my weaknesses, and I completely failed to defend against it in my list or deployment. Penthesilea did take a volley of spitfire and rifle AROs from De Fersen and my Santiago, but passed all rolls from the hits. She moved again toward De Fersen, and I was bricking myself because my opponent clearly could tell he was my Lt, and he’s on a coin flip roll against monofilament. Fortunately Penthesilea lost the gunfight as she moved, and this time went down. Phew. 

Penthesilea (dismounted and hence represented with a Helen of Troy HVT) killing my Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in melee.

With plenty of Orders left, my opponent moved his Eudoros team up and activated one Objective. On his right, the Machaon/Phoenix team moved up near the other Objective, with Phoenix watching the whole board – I wouldn’t be getting anywhere near there! One of my Teutons was still standing and somehow ended up going prone, or there would have been another FtF, but I can’t remember how it happened. Maybe I dodged prone when Penthesilea passed by firing, I don’t think he had a shootout with Phoenix. That worthy Homeric hero did have a final shot at my Hospitaller HMG, with both of us in bad range. I took a hit, passed my ARM roll, and failed the Religious check to break LoF.

I was very firmly on the back foot at the start of my first turn, disgusted with my list, my luck, and Steel Phalanx in general, although not, I have to say, with my opponent, who was bags of fun and very generous about kicking my arse. I had to deal with Phoenix, using De Fersen, because the Hospitaller would have been on 2s. Here, luck got very screwy. I was on 5x 8s vs his 2x 14s initially, then his 2x 11s as I got within his +0 range. It took 5 FtF Orders to bring Phoenix down, and I think I crit in 4 of them, he crit once to nullify one of those, and he passed a whole lot of ARM rolls. Realistically the outcome was nothing too unusual, if anything I feel lucky to not have caught a rocket and burned my Lt to death. Phoenix is a wonderful ARO piece and that is what he does against non-MSV firepower. Absolutely killed my turn, as intended. I had a couple Orders left, no targets within reach, and moving forward would only lead to a quicker death at the hands of Eudoros. I had to try a reverse of the last turn’s misisle maneuver, trying my Teuton’s Burst 2 against the Agema’s Burst 1 on even dice, 13s all round, and accepting some pistol shots from Myrmidons while doing so. I lost the FtF and died without even having to roll out the pistols. This was only going one way. I moved De Fersen into safety and passed the turn.

The end of Round 1. Phoenix is gone but my opponent controls the midfield and I have no solutions to his Agema ML. This looks bad.

Round 2

Eudoros, damn his synthetic hide, took over and flawlessly executed my opponent’s gameplan. His team could use his NCO and Acmon’s Tactical Awareness, by moving his models around with command Tokens he had a full group to draw on. 12 Orders to seal the game and put me down for good. Eudoros picked up a supply box, moved it back, extracted it, came back forward, and engaged my Haris team which were around another supply box. He killed the Santiago in one Order, taking 2 nanopulser AROs with his BTS6. Advanced and fought the Hospitaller doctor one-on-one for a couple Orders, in a rather close FtF roll (23 against my 21) where we drew twice. Normally that would be great luck to delay an opponent in their Active Turn, but in this case I really could have used a lucky roll to preserve me. His Fireteam was moving in after him, and my Hospitaller HMG was furiously failing to dodge, while this was going on. Finally there was a close combat of Eudoros & a Myrmidon against my Hospitaller doctor – I accepted his death to strike and knock out the Myrmidon, and the turn mercifully ended. 

So in my Turn 2, I had definitely, irrevocably lost the game, being miles away from the objectives and having only 5 models left. I was struggling to hold onto my sanity at this point and simply stood up my last Teuton with his Impetuous Order to see if my 1 dice on a 13 would beat his ML on a 17. It did not, and the Teuton joined his brothers in heaven, but realistically it wouldn’t have matter to the outcome anyway. De Fersen shot Pandora in the back, then took too many shots to put down Acmon, and was then killed by an out-of-cover Eudoros in ARO. The edges of my sanity frayed a bit further.

End of Round 2. I’ve killed some of the Greeks rampaging over my lines, but most of my models are down and Eudoros is untouchable.

Round 3

My opponent used Eudoros (still completely unscathed after quite a few ARM/BTS rolls here and there) to immediately, effortlessly dispatch my remaining Hospitaller knight in one Order in close combat. He moved a bit to pick up another supply box and secure the extrication zones, leaving one box in his Deployment Zone unclaimed for lack of Orders. He may have just been being nice to me, I think if he’d thought hard he could have gone and picked it up for another OP.

Some of my opponent’s unengaged models stroll into control of an objective zone.

In my turn 3 I had only my Mulebot and Fugazi left, so I considered the situation carefully and went to have a cup of tea and a sit down.

Summary

While I have moaned a bit about luck, the capability of Steel Phalanx and how it matches up against MO, I have to stress that my opponent, as well as being a lovely gent, was a very good player. He didn’t make any mistakes, he was more familiar with the mission than me and had planned better how to do it, his plan to confront and beat my force was also completely sound. I probably would have lost to him on my best day. That said, I regretted my list and wish I’d built it differently or just used the other one. I feel the Tikbalang, Mendoza and sniper could have more easily hampered his advance, and I would have had more effective tools to counter attack with. As mentioned earlier, I invested in hacking I never leveraged at all and was overall just out to lunch in my pregame planning. My one good effort to slow him up was the ML/panzerfaust AROs at the start. As mentioned, if he had not triumphed in some significantly against-the-odds FtF rolls with his Agema ML, he would have had to spend more Orders and/or take more risks to get his game plan going, although to be clear I think he could have done so eventually, and his ML could have had great value as a reaction ARO if he’d tried those options first and the game had gone differently from that point onward. I felt overall that the game was marked by a lot of good rolls, especially ARM rolls, on his part, but it’s hard to be objective when you’re losing badly and a lot of those might just be the expected results of his superior play, positioning and leveraging his models’ strengths. 

I have certainly got some things to consider before playing against Steel Phalanx again with MO. I have rarely had such a thrashing, but at least I was firmly out of the running for the tournament, so could confront without any pressure the dreaded…

Game 3: Biotechvore

Biotechvore! The very name sends tingles of fear down the spine of many a traumatised ‘competitive’ Infinity player. Biotechvore is weaponised nonsense. I’ve written before about the common structure of Infinity games, how the deployment zones and 3 turn limit mold almost every mission into a shared pattern of each side occupying a firm DZ, sending models forward, fighting over objectives in the midfield and shooting back and forth. Biotechvore upends all that logic by forcing everyone right out of their tiny 8″ DZ and into the central third of the table, which is actually a very small space. You can’t play Biotechvore in a conventional way or with a conventional list; if you don’t plan for it in your list building you are at a huge disadvantage. Some newer players assume their priority is to move everyone forward out of the danger zone, but this is extremely Order intensive, especially in non-Sectorial factions. I think a key skill is deciding, at list writing and during turn 1, who you can or should leave in the zone. Then you spend concentrated orders to save the important ones. Models that are cheap/sacrificial, or can lose 1-2 rolls from Biotechvore and not be Unconscious, are important. 

Pre-Game & Deployment

This was our table for Biotechvore. Good lord.

My opponent was playing vanilla Haqqislam, which immediately put him at a disadvantage, and when I saw the table, I felt really bad for him. The standard for most of the tables at this event was excellent. More than playable, they were visually attractive – spectacular in some cases – and usually well thought out, no easy feat for 14 separate tables, all provided by the local club and TO with no players bringing any in, as far as I know. But our allotted table was definitely too open for Biotechvore. Even worse, my opponent slot the roll, I picked Deployment, and he picked to go first. Now I heavily favour going second in Biotechvore. Your opponent, when going first, has to rush out of his zone, and can suffer heavily against hard stop AROs unless he is extremely lucky and removes them head-on. The Orders can’t be spent on circuitous solutions like having, guided missiles, extensive smoke and so forth, because then he wouldn’t be able to clear the zone. You can creat terrible problems for your first-player opponent in Biotechvore that you would not try to do in any other mission. When the turn does pass over, the second player won’t usually have AROs in good positions. It would take a very good player to organize an effective defence while also clearing the danger zone, and probably some sort of highly tailored list full of multiwound models. 

Frankly I don’t think my opponent had hit on the right list structure for Biotechvore, which by his own admission he had only practiced once before. He had a number of Duos, which I guess is better than single models for efficiency running forwards. But many of his models were things which are staples for competitive Haqqislam lists, but woefully unsuitable for clearing the danger zone and brawling in the midfield. He had a passive Hafza Lt, a couple Barid hackers and a missile bot, for example. He did have a total reaction HMG bot, but his main active guns were a Mukhtar red fury and an Asawira spitfire. Both great profiles and in their own way usable for Biotechvore, but he didn’t have any way to directly engage and destroy aong range ARO. He did have impetuous smoke and that would have to be his solution.

I deployed my Core Fireteam Teuton ML in the centre, looking out from a rooftop at a lot of his army and all his real routes out of his DZ. The Tikbalang also watched one flank, while Mendoza made his Confused Deployment roll and went in the midfield, mostly hidden prone. If I’d made the roll for my Trinitarian sniper I could’ve hidden him in the central, safe area but failed. I placed him on my far left, covering the enemy missile bot and the left table edge, with the Montesa biker. I kept the motorised knight Impetuous, knowing I could clear the danger zone in one 8-6 order. 

The deployment. Hardly any cover and AROs galore.

Round 1

We spent a good while just talking about the table and my opponent’s options. I didn’t conceal from him that I thought he was utterly betrayed by the table and ultimately doomed. He did cover his initial advances from the DZ by throwing smoke normally with his two Ghazis. We considered it together and I advised him, honestly, that trying to get the smoke down in FtF against my Teuton ML (a 15 vs 2x 17s) was probably not worth it. One Ghazi died and the other survived as Dogged, throwing smoke normally again to further protect the advancing Regular troops. There was a fair bit of moving out of the DZ, but although models could get out of there under smoke, they were often still pinned within the zone. My opponent made a good effort to remove the Teuton ML with a hidden Hassassin Nadhir from his centre, using a surprise flammenspeer shot. Thanks to his Mimetism-6 he was on a 12 vs my 2x 8s. We both missed the first shot, on the second he crit! But I passed both saves, rolling the exact 12s I needed. That left the Nadhir out of flammenspeer rounds and dead in the water. My opponent had to scrape his forces into the centre as best he could, trying to kill Mendoza with his MSV2 Red Fury Mukhtar. Unfortunately I crit in ARO this time, but similarly he passed both his saves. I stupidly said I fired AP in ARO, writing this I realized I could have fired DA, which might well have killed him with continuous damage. Finally, moving on his right flank, my opponent lost his ML against my Trinitarian, got his models there into safety, and risked his TR bot against my Teuton. I lost the first FtF, failed one save, then crit again on the next FtF and blew the remote to smithereens. Rough.

The Teuton ML, with none of its natural predators in the enemy list, lays waste in ARO.

All in all I think my opponent lost that TR bot, the missile bot, and both Ghazis to my AROs, then he lost his Nadhir, a Barid, a Daylami, Zuleyka and finally his Hafza Lt to the Biotechvore plague. 9 models down and I hadn’t lifted a finger.

The Biotechvore plague wreaks havoc amongst my opponent’s force.

This was dumb. I hate to sound like an ass, but my list was designed for Biotechvore and I was in a much better position than my opponent since I was facing no dangerous AROs. My Montesa simply drove forward out of danger with his Impetuous Order. The Tikbalang moved onto a building using climbing plus, saw his Asawira and annihilated it in one go. It moved again, then drew a bead on his Rafiq FO bot and killed that too. I moved the Fireteam forward with a few Orders to get them out of the zone, then killed his Mukhtar red fury in close combat with two of the Teutons, passing the corresponding BTS rolls from its nanopulser. The Montesa shotgunned down a Digger (already wounded by the Biotechvore zone) on his left. The Tikbalang, moving again to safety, spotted his Namurr breaker rifle over some terrain and killed him as well. I coordinated an Order to ensure the Tikbalang, Montesa, Fugazi and Mendoza were all out of danger, this was part of my list planning for if I had to go first in Biotechvore. I didn’t even cover the Warcor’s Order, I just moved him forward to the edge of the zone, in case he miraculously survived. I had to do the same with my Trinitarian sniper, since he was alone in the second combat group. At the end of the turn, those two were the only models in danger; the Trinitarian went down while the Warcor survived. Good journalism!

The end of Round 1, and honestly the end of the game, I have lost 1 model and my opponent has 1 left.

Round 2

My opponent had 1 model, his Mukhtar hacker, alive in his Turn 2. So technically being in Loss of Lieutenant made no difference. It was sheltering behind a building on his far left. He moved it across the halfway line of the table. 

I spent my Turn 2 completing two of my classifieds with the Montesa paramedic. I scored Experimental Drug by reviving the Trinitarian with a medikit, then drive right across the table to his Unconscious Rafiq and used it to score Nano-Espionage or whatever it’s called. Doctor/paramedic a null state enemy specialist, that one. I ended up in position to secure the HVT next turn. The Warcor walked out of danger and my Trinitarian fell unconscious again. 

Round 3

My opponent, laughing at the way this was going, scored a classified, Net-Undermine with his new Lt the Mukhtar. 

The end of Round 3, with my opponent’s last remaining model remaining safe, while my biker secures the HVT.

I adjusted my Montesa to score the HVT, and then, imposing on my opponent’ patience and goodwill, indulged in Casevac-ing the Trinitarian out of danger using my Tikbalang, then reviving him again with the Core Fireteam Crosier paramedic. Just so I could say I’d had no casualties.

Summary

Game ended 10-1 to me, 300 VP remaining to his 31. This was in no way a proper game of Infinity. I am happy that I managed to finish this famously bloody mission without a scratch, but I can’t really be proud of it. The game was decided entirely by matchup and table. If we’d switched places after the Lt roll I don’t think I could possibly have won. This was just a demonstration of why Biotechvore needs specific tools (long range AROs, individually tough or mobile units) more than most games, and why it punishes a lot of support models that are autotake parts of many factions’ competitive builds. 

Conclusion

This was a nice, well-run tourney at a great venue (with an attached cafe!) and I’ll be more than happy to return for subsequent events. With 3 games played, I won 2 and lost 1, which is very much my standard. This time it was marked by all 3 games being utter stompings. I placed 7th of 29 players. You can see the full results of the event here. It was won by one of the most successful current UK tournament players, using Tohaa. He was the only player to score 15TP for 3 big wins, although I understand at least one of his games was relatively close; three other players won all 3 of their games, but scored only 14TP, using Military Orders, Steel Phalanx (my round 2 opponent) and Bakunin in that ranking. I’d be interested to see the Bakunin lists, players did have the option to use the brand new profiles from the army update earlier that week.

Interestingly, the players ranked 5th and 6th scored 1TP each for losing one of their games closely; this put them above me and other with more OP who had won two games, and I think it’s a really good part of the current ITS tournament scoring. In the distant past, you only got full TP if you beat your opponent by a margin of 5OP or more. That sort of incentivised massively stomping people over close game. Now it’s the loser who is rewarded for fighting to the last, while the winner just needs to worry about making 5OP, which usually means they are rewarded if they actively tried to complete the mission objectives. I think the ITS system is in a good place on that front, although I’d like to see some more actual new missions and fewer seasonal special rules. Several of us at the event had a good whinge about Decompression Zones (aka depression zones) and Intelcom, which all agreed are terrible, and inexplicably have remained in the rules for years.

I learned a lot about MO, I think this was only my second time using them outside of TTS. More elite (10-12 model) lists can be good, but it’s a mission gimmick not a consistent principle. You certainly don’t want a list that has a single combat group which is all homogeneous, foot slogging heavy infantry with no gunfighting mods that start in your DZ. Cause if that isn’t what you need, you don’t have any other options. You don’t need a reason to take a Tik; you need a damned good reason not to take one. I appreciate that like any expensive unit in Infinity you need to protect it and in some games the enemy will kill it before it can truly shine. In my loss against Steel Phalanx, for example, Penthesilea could have dealt with it exactly as she dealt with my Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. But if you can avoid losing the Tik outright, it has the mobility and brutal gunfighting you need to solve so many problems. With Tactical Awareness and climbing plus on Silhouette 6 it can get places and do things that a more conventional apex gunfighter couldn’t. I liked my hidden deployment and will definitely keep playing with the possibilities there. Teutons were a star for efficiency as ever. Mendoza didn’t really come into his own, simply because the rest of the list crushed it in both games where he showed up, but I’ll keep trying with him. 

One final reflection is that my space crusaders won decisively (twice) against the Islamic faction and got crushed by the Greeks. Sort of a bizarro-world refight of the historical Crusades in the Middle East.

See you all next time!

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