This is part two of a multi-part series looking at Nomads in Infinity. You can find Part 1 Here.
We have already looked into the widely acknowledged competitive Nomad list building defaults. Now it’s time to examine alternative options. As strong as ‘the list’ and its variants are, there will be times when other excellent Nomad units/profiles are going to be better options as the table, mission and opposing army change. Not every player wants to play ‘the list’ – as we discussed it needs to be operated a certain way to get maximum effect and won’t necessarily lead to success if it doesn’t fit your style. Beyond that, while we are writing from a broadly competitive standpoint, it may not be fun for you or your frequent opponents to play against the same tools again and again, changing things up helps us to practise and learn about the game while keeping the experience fresh.
So without further ado, we are going to look through the various unit roles that Nomad (or any Infinity) players will need to consider slotting into their lists, pick out alternative choices, examine their use cases and in many instances compare them to the top competitive picks. Finally we will talk about combat group splits and the general principles of building lists in Infinity, which is hard to envision for new players, but just as important as picking good unit profiles.
Part Three of this Nomad article will specifically centre on Reinforcement units and how to list-build and play Reinforcement games.
Lts and Command Support Options
Every Infinity list needs a Lt and a primary concern is keeping that Lt safe without committing too many resources (points and trooper slots) to the task. Secondary is getting some value out of the Lt Order, potentially with other command benefits such as additional Orders/Command Tokens or the Strategos skill. This is an area where Nomads typically go for efficiency over proficiency. ‘Active’ Lts, models that can beneficially use the Lt Order on themselves, typically big, powerful profiles suitable for attacking the enemy, are only usually considered in competitive Infinity when the player can access some sort of insurance, usually another model with Chain of Command, and that’s a skill Nomads can’t access outside of Reinforcements. Additionally, the big punchy Nomad models that can be Lts (Kriza Boracs, Taskmaster, Cassandra Kusanagi) are all shooters who don’t generally get picked over TAGs or other non-Lt competitors anyway. So Nomads do default to ‘passive’ Lts that can hide in the backline, ideally with eligible decoys to confuse enemy assassins trying to single them out. Note that decoy Lts need to have the same WIP as the real one, because the opening Lt roll is open information and savvy players will always check this.
- As discussed previously, Moderators are the most points-effective Lt option in Nomads and cheap enough that you can double them up for (50%) protection in (50%) anonymity. They’re just that bit cheaper than Securitate or Alguaciles, the latter also having to pay a nonsensical 1SWC tax to be Lts.
- Interventors are also backline support models, but other profiles are considered more efficient as pure hackers, any hacker has additional attack avenues opened against them from enemy hackers, and Interventors are too expensive to deploy two as a decoy/real pairing. Due to their WIP15, an Interventor Lt can only be decoyed by another Interventor.
- There are several Lt options that aren’t super punchy but are more expensive/capable than line troops – Wildcats, Grenzers, Mobile Brigada, Reverend Moiras, usually armed with rifles. These are truly the most miserable category of Lt options; like line troopers with heavy weapons, they exist in vanilla only as a sort of design byproduct. They aren’t powerful enough to justify the risk of using them aggressively or drawing attention by using the Lt Order on them. They are far more expensive than a line trooper Lt. They are not tough enough reactively to reliably weather enemy attacks. Just take a Moderator.
- Maybe there’s some sort of big brained play where you include a Brigada shotgun and a Moderator Lt; anyone would assume the Moderator is the decoy because you’d be mad to spend the excess points on a Brigada in that role, then if they do attack the Brigada, they are committing Orders to hacking, or an aggressive model to a potential trade against the shotgun, for little benefit. But spending points purely on mind games without any mechanical benefit is seldom a good idea in Infinity.
- The more unusual and unique alternative Lt option is the Daemonist Observant. This is an expensive HI (so hackable) model which can bring Lt +1 Order, as well as Counterintelligence, so it’s one of only two Lts in Nomads with any special command benefits (the other is Kusanagi’s +1SWC). It’s a big commitment, usually taken to fuel an NCO option, typically the Gator; Nomads’ other NCOs, Reverend Moiras, and individual Grenzer and Wildcat profiles, are usable but not highly competitive. Spending Orders on the Observant itself, being a short-ranged model that starts in the DZ, is unlikely except as a desperate Turn 3 play and/or in certain unique missions like Panic Room. An Observant brings its own Decoy mirror image, but as they must deploy within 8” of each other, that isn’t the same protection as bringing two identical troopers in a list, who would normally deploy in widely separated table areas. Your opponent can commit to attacking the Daemonist and picking the Decoy as their original target usually won’t cost them more than an Order or two. The Daemonist is able to defend itself within 8” using Guard and a vulkan shotgun, but it is still very vulnerable to hacking plays. All Lts or backfield models are attackable via guided missiles, but the HI Observant can be Isolated by any hacker. In some match-ups the Observant will be a very obvious and achievable way for your opponent to put you into Loss of Lieutenant. Even worse, it just costs too much for the capability. Yes, +1 Order is great. But it’s twice the cost of two Moderators, who bring the same total of 3 Orders (2 Regular + 1 Lt). Unless you’re super stretched for trooper slots, or really want to get the maximum number of Orders into a Gator, this just isn’t a top option.
Sweepers – Active Turn Shooting
The quickest solution to a visible enemy model in Infinity is to point a big gun at it. Most models have limited range (good range <16”) weapons, because the long ranged ones have an SWC cost attached. So for most models, even worse than being seen in the Reactive turn, is being seen at long range. The only models that actually want to stand up and draw long lines of fire in ARO are specifically very resilient, disposable and/or dangerous. An Infinity list needs Active turn guns that can reliably overmatch and destroy such models, or it will be pinned down as the opponent controls the board from long range. In any game, if one player ends up losing their long guns, and the other still has theirs and seizes the opportunity to set up AROs, this becomes really evident. You need to include direct long ranged firepower and that includes redundancy. This does force some choices on Nomads because SWC is also used for your hacker(s) and Moran Masai, and for a Vertigo Zond if you’re taking one. All of these can contribute to long range board control, in concert, but they form a delicate system and they don’t entirely replace direct fire.
- TAGs. We’ve already discussed why the Szalamandra, or more rarely Gator, are the top picks for that direct fire role. The Lizard is not as attractive as a Multi-HMG/heavy flamethrower TAG. It lacks the B5 of the Szally and protective upgrades of the Gator. Where it does have a longstanding niche is as a grenade-launching platform. Being able to speculatively chuck grenades on 8s is not a very decisive way to attack. But in the absence of other options, e.g. because your target is in an inaccessible position on a roof, it’s something and doesn’t open you up to any risk. It can also just get inside the heads of Sectorial opponents whose Fireteams may be clustered up during the game. Interestingly, it was given a more close-quarters loadout (AP Spitfire and Heavy Flamethrower) when Reinforcements were introduced. While this may be more useful on heavily built up tables, or in missions with 16” DZs, it normally flies against the role you need your TAG to fill – smashing aside long range AROs – and the core principle that TAGs which advance into the midfield are making themselves more vulnerable to enemy hackers and melee warbands, neither of which the Lizard is that well protected against.
- The Iguana is just a bad TAG. 2STR at ARM7, then 2W as a very anaemic BS12 HI model, is not as tough, and not as useful as an ARO roadblock, as the 3STR/8ARM statline of the other bigger TAGs. Its regular HMG is far less impressive than the Multi-HMGs of its brothers, let alone the HRMC. Having an onboard repeater and ECM (Hacker)-3 does not give much polish to this turd.
- Lower down in price we have the Gecko, which similarly to the Lizard AP Spitfire, doesn’t fit into the classic long range TAG firepower role. It is starting to make a real saving in points and SWC cost though, which opens up a role for it as long as the list also contains a better-ranged gun. I am actually quite fond of the multi marksman rifle (+1B) profile, paired with a lighter long-range shooter like an Intruder or Knauf. As long as it doesn’t have to worry about engagements over 24” it is a very efficient fighter, once you factor in its resilience and tactical awareness.
- The Kriza Boracs, particularly the HMG profile, is probably the best non-TAG shooter in Nomads. Burst 5 with BS13 and Mimetism-3 is exceptional, so it’s all the more interesting that these are almost universally rejected in vanilla in favour of TAGs. It basically has the same weaknesses to hacking and the same strengths (wounds and ARM) just less so. Yes, a Kriza is cheaper with Mimetism, but players would rather pay for AP capability and that increased toughness. A really good example of how profiles can be strong in a vacuum but aren’t considered competitive because there’s a better option in the faction. That’s not to say a Kriza won’t do its job as a sweeper, because it definitely will against anything short of a TAG.
- Cassandra Kusanagi has exceptional stats (BS14 with Mimetism-6) and is relatively tough at ARM3 with NWI and Shock Immunity. Her limiting factor is weaponry, with a spitfire, so only effective up to 24” and not much threat to heavily armoured targets. That said, she is one of the best gunfighters in the faction if you can deal with the range issues, and can even activate some objectives along the way, as she’s a Specialist Operative. She is also probably the best Active Lt option in the faction, although as mentioned above I don’t think that is a good idea at all. At least she’s not hackable, so opponents need to invest in the guided missile suite rather than simply Isolating her like they would a Kriza Boracs Lt.
- Nomads boast a host of acceptable gunfighting options, i.e. BS13 with either resilience or some gunfighting mods. These are not ideal in vanilla and tend to only be seen as the shooters in Sectorial Fireteams: Mobile Brigada, EVAders, Grenzers, Wildcats, Hollow Men. Riot Grrl spitfires and Reverend Moira HMGs are both very capable shooters, but are far better in Bakunin where they can gain massive Fireteam Composition bonuses and avoid becoming Impetuous via Frenzy. Losing the ability to take Partial Cover is a killer for a gunfighting unit. All of these are examples of units that work in their role – nothing wrong with a Wildcat spitfire at its core job of shooting things – but just don’t offer a competitive edge.
- Nomads have a couple of firepower choices that leverage Infiltration, Hidden Deployment or Combat Jump. Prowler spitfires are too expensive, and the midfield is a very dangerous place for 1W models, where any template can knock them out. But having a spitfire your opponent may not expect to pop out of hiding can be handy. Similarly, the Hellcat spitfire doesn’t see much play because when you do get it into position, it’s a BS12 model with no gunfighting skills and only 1W, so it can’t attack into templates. But in theory, if you can open up the right positions for it, good work can be done. These finesse pieces don’t usually get a look in competitively. Perhaps the value of wrong-footing your opponent is worth something, but that tends to be most relevant against less competitive players who get sloppy in positioning for their Reactive turn. I’d definitely throw one of these (or even a Spektr sniper) into the rotation occasionally to keep opponents on their toes.
- It’s hardly even worth mentioning SWC guns on line troopers like Securitate, Alguaciles or Moderators. These exist in the game slightly for use in Sectorial Fireteams but mostly as a sort of design relic, from the earliest days of Infinity when there weren’t that many units and tactics of how to list build and play were still emerging. A weird trap for very new players.
- The part one competitive article touched on some merc snipers like Knauf and Armand le Muet. They’re good. But I want to just single out another mercenary choice which is an extremely efficient Burst 4 gun – the Motorised Bounty Hunter with red fury. This is BS12 with Mimetism-3 and Booty, which can, occasionally, throw you a powerful stat boost. But importantly it’s 16pts and, in SWC-hungry Nomads, 0.5SWC. Given that motorcycles are the most mobile troop in the game, I think this is a great option to have in the back pocket, especially in missions with Exclusion zones where forward-deploying options are more limited. Many opponents could be unprepared for this model getting into firing position so quickly (remember you can dismount the motorcycle to climb onto buildings and other terrain) and at this price, if it gets sacrificed, so what?
- Vostok Sputnik. A rather odd utility brawling piece, the Vostok isn’t really a sweeper, since it is only effective within 24”, but it is hard to shoot down with Mimetism-6, and highly resilient with ARM3 and 2STR, especially if you back it with an engineer. This can be a decent firepower unit to pair with a longer ranged option, although it is more popular in Sectorials where a Fireteam can boost it up to Burst 4. In vanilla Nomads, to get much work done you may need to support it with an EVO hacker for Marksmanship, which is stacking up the commitment. But that does bring us back to the strengths of having an onboard repeater on your attack piece, since it can turn an opponent’s defensive hacking network into an opportunity for your own hackers to destroy them.
Hard Stop AROs – are these even a thing in vanilla Nomads?
Nomads do have a purpose-built ARO unit in the Neurocinetic Sin Eaters, but TR bots are cheaper and more versatile – beyond remaining B4 in Active, having 6-4 Movement and climbing plus really helps them work into positions which will trouble your opponents. Reaktion Zonds are also actually more resilient due to Remote Presence, despite the Eaters’ better protective stats and Mimetism-3. Both are very vulnerable to Mimetism units, smoke shooting or just being rolled over by a TAG. Even in the absence of these tools, a good opponent can use camouflage or smoke to get a template weapon close to either type of ARO piece, and that will usually get them Unconscious, if not actually kill them. Which might be a perfectly good use of an ARO piece for you, forcing your opponent to spend some Orders and trade something to knock them out temporarily. But the key point is that when using ARO pieces, you have to plan to lose them, and Sin Eaters are a higher investment than TR bots with less Active turn usefulness and a greater likelihood to be permanently killed trying to do their job. My advice is, leave hard AROs to Sectorial armies that can fold them into Fireteams, or use a TAG in a position where it can Guts Roll back if engaged by a real threat.
Warbands and other Close Quarters Fighters
Warbands, troops whose primary role is fighting in melee combat, are an excellent way to punish ‘null deployment’ where players simply hide all their models behind Total Cover, forcing you to move in very close to provoke AROs. Most models’ cost includes expensive shooting-related skills and stats. So in CB’s design formula, models without any decent ranged weapons (range >8”) are cheap, and if you can get them into Silhouette contact with non-melee-skilled enemies they will annihilate them, regardless of Mimetism-6, high BS AROs or other such defences. Infinity is primarily a shooting game, drawing LoF to the enemy with a good shooter in your Active turn is the simplest and most Order-efficient way of dealing with them. But close combat offers an asymmetrical alternative. Even if you can just get within template range, most warbands can piece trade. If you have enough Orders to throw smoke or dodge around a corner to get into Silhouette contact with an enemy without suffering a shooting ARO, a warband unit can reliably kill a model worth many times its points cost. Some players don’t appreciate just how reliable a FtF roll between a skilled melee model and a normal one is. E.G. A model with CC22 and Martial Arts L2 (such as a Morlock or Jaguar), fighting a model with CC16, which is higher than most ordinary troopers and will be their best ARO rather than dodging, is extremely likely to win the FtF and has a 30% chance to inflict a critical hit. Because the target is then taking ARM rolls without any cover, it’s quite deadly. Any list in the game, even outside Nomads, can benefit from taking Warbands.
Apart from the benefits of having a non-shooting solution to enemy models, many Warbands come with smoke grenades, they’re the only source of these besides [longer ranged but more expensive and less reliable] smoke launchers, which in Nomads only occur on the Zondnautica motorcycle. Having smoke in a list opens up the ability to bypass any ARO which doesn’t have MSV. This is particularly useful for getting to Objectives that your opponent was positioned to try and hold you back from. It gives a great way to attack and kill any model without MSV or Sixth Sense, if you have an Intruder or other MSV model of your own. Having smoke access is one of the checks a list has to go through before being considered ‘good’ in wider Infinity. Take some smoke in every list.
Most Warbands have a second important reason for consideration in any list: they’re cheap. Every Infinity list needs to include a certain number of cheap models so that it can fit in the heavyweight push pieces and still have a healthy number of Orders. Finally, even when not being pushed into an attack, warbands can sort of harden up your DZ against attack. 1W enemy attackers are going to struggle to put together attack runs into the midst of your models if they will run into Warbands that can just lay a template over them in ARO. Most opponents will not commit to such attacks, because they either spend precious Orders dodging to no effect, or they are gambling on the run ending there. Against multi-wound, harder attackers, Warbands’ best defensive use is to threaten to Dodge into close combat. A lucky success at that ARO can similarly stop an attack run and set an expensive enemy attack piece up to get slaughtered hand to hand in your own Active turn. If it doesn’t work and the Warband dies, eh, it probably wasn’t expensive and your opponent didn’t use that Order to kill anything else.
Warbands with smoke, these are a category you almost always want to include at least one of:
- Morlocks are an archetypal cheap, Irregular Warband that can throw smoke essentially ‘for free’ with their Impetuous Order. See the part one article on the competitive Nomad meta, because these are the most ubiquitous Warband in the faction, and for good reason.
- Similarly, Uberfallkommando makes the cut into the top competitive tier, see part one. With Eclipse smoke and unusually high potential to annihilate things in close combat, this unit fully justifies its higher cost. The main reason not to take one in every game is that your friends will get sick of your bullshit.
- Jaguars are great, at least the 11pt profile with a shotgun, E/M CCW and smoke. Although they are overshadowed by Morlocks at 6pts, they do have advantages: Dogged, their Regular status and the ability to take cover make them superior as point guards within the DZ.
- Perseus is a kind of prestige Warband. He’s expensive, especially since he is NWI without Shock Immune. You have to keep him away from mines and SMGs, which is a hard sell in many match-ups. He’s 4-4 Movement, Frenzy rather than Impetuous, and starts in your DZ. So in many ways, not a good unit to launch close assaults. The reason to include him is that he can also gunfight up to 16” pretty well. Competitively, players tend to prefer pure gunfighters and/or those with greater range, and to use cheaper, more efficient Warbands, since the close assault role normally means sacrificing the Active model, either during their run or to an enemy counter attack in the next Reactive turn. But in some games Perseus can shine as an attack piece, it just needs the right table – with targets reachable at <16” but outside template range – and match up – without too many of those cursed mines or MSV AROs. Personally, I am rather fond of him in Missions with 16” DZs, although there is a lot of competition for his role. I can’t say he’s a better attack dog than Fiddler, the Uberfallkommando etc, but he is very self-sufficient.
Warbands without smoke are a trickier prospect. They don’t do as much for the wider list, they are useful purely as close assault units against targets that aren’t protected by long range AROs, and as deterrents to your opponent getting too close. Generally they have to make up for this serious deficiency with some combination of mobility, resilience and special skills.
- Diablos are pretty attractive with their effective 2STR (in fact they ‘degrade’ to a worse profile after taking 1STR damage) and 6-2 Movement with Impetuous and +2” Dodge. Downsides are that they are hackable, not Stealthy and that Impetuosity is a double edged sword, taking away much of their resilience. The big draw here, in conjunction with those stats, is Berserk. You can move 6”, Dodge 4” into view of an enemy, then Berserk 8” into combat. Not a bad threat range for something you really need to die, and unless you are doing this in the face of a heavy flamethrower, EXP ammo or multiple AROs, you can even survive the experience. Overall, worth considering as a close combat punch in your back pocket.
- Diggers are weirdly similar. 2W in this case (so revivable by Doctors/Paramedics, not Engineers) and hackable, they are good speed bumps in ARO and can launch a melee assault. Thanks to Burst 2 in close combat, they can try this even against enemy melee specialists. With these, the draw is the Booty rule. Sometimes it barely matters; sometimes you roll Mimetism-6 or +4 ARM. Very much worth throwing one into a list.
- Krakot Renegades fit into the same cost bracket as the two above, who have sort of pushed these monkey pirates into the background. Their special kit – Forward Deployment +4”, Metachemistry, Impetuous and good template weapons – makes them very efficient for launching close assaults. If your opponent doesn’t cover them with an ARO, they can launch forward in Turn 1 and be on the halfway line immediately. However, knowing the opportunity won’t always come up, many players prefer the second W/STR from his competition. Metachemistry is the wildcard here, probably even more than Booty for the Digger it can elevate a Krakot. The best options (NWI or Dogged with Immunity, 8-4 Movement) really reinforce their role as disposable attackers. But it’s not reliable. Very much a fun and decent option.
- Cheerkillers are indisputably the worst Warband in Nomads, they blur the line into light infantry (their official type) but their cheapest, 13-14pt profiles are definitely warband-ish, with short ranged template weapons and melee skills. They’re just bad. Bottom-tier melee skills by warband standards, with no Frenzy or Impetuous. An improved Dodge roll is no substitute for smoke grenades. No one would ever take these as warbands over a Jaguar, they exist as a Tunguska Sectorial option.
Many missions and match ups reward having at least one way to get right into the enemy DZ to attack vulnerable models at close quarters, ideally without spending a lot of Orders. Warbands like the Uberfallkommando can do this, but there are at least a few Orders to spend crossing the table and a few ways your opponent can try to stall you out. Similarly, guided missiles are a great way to strike at seemingly protected models, but they can struggle to get a Spotlight off or a very conservative enemy deployment (especially if you had to deploy first) could make them difficult to get down. So having a different capability to directly hit the enemy where they live is nice. Look how popular Impersonators are – every faction that can take them does, because fighting in the enemy DZ without spending set up Orders is a way you can win games.
- Carlota Kowalsky is an inescapable threat in Nomads. If you deploy fewer than 15 models (or in Reinforcements it looks as if you have less than 250pts on the table) your opponent must watch their back board edge, as well as their flanks. Parachutist (Deployment Zone) is very useful in that way, although the right units deployed on the enemy backline can restrict its use. Carlota is particularly a great pick in certain missions that require you to get anti-materiel melee weapons, ideally D-Charges, to your opponent’s DZ (Mindwipe, Looting & Sabotaging).
- Bran do Castro is the other premier option for striking into the opponent’s DZ, but where Carlota is often a late-game play, Bran is better suited to attempting an alpha strike when playing first. As a hyper-mobile (6-2 with total terrain and super-jump) model with camouflage and an effective 2W, he can generally get to what he needs to attack. The first barrier to using him is making your roll on 16s to actually deploy forward. Nothing can be done about this – part of using him is accepting the risk that 20% of the time he will fail and become mostly irrelevant to the game. For this reason as well as exposing him to easier discovery and attack, I wouldn’t normally risk deploying him over the halfway line unless playing first. The other limit to Bran is that he is best suited to attacking ‘soft’ targets – 1W models without great Dodges, Mimetism, or high ARM. Although he carries a boarding shotgun or breaker combi rifle which can help with ARM/BTS, as a BS11 shooter he just doesn’t reliably land enough hits to put down well-protected targets. For this reason the shotgun is almost always my preference, the templates are particularly good for threatening forks and punishing those who shoot back, given Bran’s NWI he can usually trade to advantage, and if you end his turn inside the enemy DZ a shotgun makes him harder to dig out in Reactive. Although Bran is a melee-skilled model, he only has a Shock CCW, so you should really only be getting into Silhouette contact with 1W models, again ideally those without much ARM. It does give him a good way to fight Mimetism targets.
- Hellcats vs Tomcats. As attackers, both these options are BS12, 1W models, so they rely on their positioning to do well. Shooting models in the back from outside 8” is just the holy grail of Infinity plays and airborne deployment is a good way to do it. The issue is, you are robbing from your own Order pool until after they arrive, and your opponent has to make a mistake, or at least extend themselves fully into an attack, before opportunities to deploy these units open up. Hellcats pay a little more for the ability to Combat Jump, on 15s (18s if you spend an Order on an EVO hacker, which isn’t worth including one just for this purpose, but can be worthwhile if you already take one to improve a Remote as well). As attack pieces that is well worth it, a lot of savvy opponents can watch the flanks of the table because they know you have <15 models and probably have an airborne or hidden unit in reserve. But it is almost impossible to cover all the potential spots where a combat jump can usefully land.
- Bandits. These are nice cheap, disposable camouflage attackers. Send them in aggressively after key targets, either laying shotgun templates, or abusing camouflage to walk straight past a lone model (which doesn’t dare Discover in case you blast them, so just has to Hold while you move closer) then getting into melee from behind them. If I am taking a Bandit (and no Bran do Castro), and I am going first, I often take the 50% chance to place them directly outside the enemy deployment zone. If it fails, it’s only a ~25pt trooper, it’s ok. If I succeed I can properly frighten many opponents.
In many Infinity missions you need to get Specialists forward to centrally-placed Objectives. I think of these as ‘active’ or ‘mission’ Specialists, models that are meant to go and do that mission instead of supporting the force from back in the DZ. Jazz, for all her utility, is by default a supporting Specialist. She can and should do hacking via repeaters and pitchers, and at 4-4 Movement with no mobility skills, isn’t particularly great at running up to the centre. She may have to do it in the late game, and it can work fine if you’ve decimated the opposing force, but it shouldn’t be your plan A. In the common competitive list archetype, this role is carried by Moran Masai, but as I have mentioned, there is a tension between using them to activate Objectives vs keeping them sheltered as defensive pieces. The competitive archetypes can also commit to using Jazz or another DZ-based hacker in Turn 3, or can use the TAG Pilot as a specialist.
When purposely building in other Mission Specialists, the best skill is Infiltration (or Forward Deployment), followed by Combat Jump/Parachutist.
- Zeroes are some of the cheapest Infiltration/Camouflage Specialists in the game, and for that reason can always be considered. They can deploy right where you need them and aren’t quite as dead meat if you’re going second. Don’t ever think Camouflage makes you invulnerable, but unlike repeater Morans you are at least safe from guided missiles, speculative grenades and Tohaa Pheroware, and warbands need to at least try one Discover or Intuitive Attack roll (and spend an Order) to get you. Note that you can take Limited Camouflage Morans and they’d be top tier if it weren’t that it’s a choice in place of repeaters, so everyone takes those instead. If for some reason you didn’t have any hackers, those Moran profiles are obviously worth it over the repeater versions. Bandits are a small step up from either in cost, and that’s to account for their melee skills, so really they are more for attacking into the enemy table half, with being specialists a secondary role. WIP12 is especially painful, so I wouldn’t take one as a mission specialist outside of Missions with a bonus to the roll for hackers.
- Hecklers get a fairly efficient killer hacker for a reasonable price, with bonus cybermine and assault pistol kit that gives it some extra options for fighting within 8”. The downsides, only FD+4” and Limited (ie one-use) Camouflage, I like to mitigate by taking him as a mission specialist in missions with an Exclusion Zone. For instance, in Unmasking he is a decent choice to go forward, reliably activate the Objectives, then hunt designated targets with the assault pistol.
- Sombras are a lot more expensive than those other Camouflage options and only have Forward Deployment +8”. What they’re paying for is some slightly punchier weapon loadouts, climbing plus, and resilience – being an NWI/Shock Immune model is pretty great, especially for overcoming enemies with templates who would be an unacceptable risk for a 1W model to attack. A lot of people favour the specialist operative profile over either hacker type. If you’re not confident of dominating the infosphere, it’s nice to preserve your non-hackable status, so you can activate Objectives without risk of being stopped in your tracks by hacking AROs. See below for a discussion of the hacking variants. Ultimately Sombras are a bit less efficient than the cheaper Camouflage options, so less often seen, but they are capable midfield brawlers. Using climbing plus they can hunt down enemies tucked away in cover, and unlike their cheaper friends, you can risk them against harder targets – their multi or breaker rifle is a nice capability to have.
- Tomcat Doctor/Engineers are great although they exist in the shadow of Carlota and you should always ask if you want/need to upgrade to her. Like her they should ideally be taken with a Servant Peripheral. It’s tempting to remove this in list building to shave points – don’t! My experience has always been that when you deploy these Parachutists, you will very frequently, especially in hotly contested games, have a choice between sending them in to attack, and going to revive another model. Having a Peripheral lets you deploy, quickly revive, then risk the attack.
- Hellcats tend to get overtaken by Tomcats as specialists, because Tomcats are cheaper and can access peripherals. The Hellcat hacker, though, may not be as good at actual infowar as Jazz/Interventor/Mary P/Custodier operating via repeaters, but it is absurdly good at achieving classified objectives. I try to have one when playing Highly Classified or Countermeasures. Similarly, if you need to flip an Objective in the centre of the table, one thing Combat Jump does let you do is risk the deployment roll and roll to activate the objective using just 1 Order from your pool. Not usually something to hang a game on as your plan A, but honestly it is worth considering.
- For the same reason players can consider the Meteor Zond, a combat jump/parachutist Remote. Being a Specialist and having Sensor is nice, but this also has a lot of synergy with hackers as it can introduce a repeater where you want it.
- In Exclusion Zone missions the gap between Infiltration and Airborne Deployment closes and both skills are less crucial, being potentially overtaken by simply using models with high Movement. Here the Zondnautica unit finds its niche – not generally competitive as either a shooter or a hacker, in Exclusion Zone missions it can be an 8-6 Move specialist. If you consider the mechanics of moving from the closest possible deployment spot to a central Objective on Turn 1 (several missions give the chance to lock in OP by being the first to activate multiple Objectives), a Zondnautica will ‘overtake’ a 4-4 model deployed on the edge of the Exclusion Zone as it reaches that Objective, and it will be much faster moving from one Objective on to the next. Additionally, once it has activated an Objective(s) it can protect itself better than other motorcycle units by dismounting into an S2 trooper and a template-carrying Peripheral, which can be sacrificed in ARO.
- Nomads can access Infiltration & Hidden Deployment models that can be Specialists – Prowlers and Spektrs. Both are expensive and not terribly competitive for general use, but in some Missions, notably those that score by having activated Objectives at the end of the game, a very powerful trick when playing second is to deploy a specialist in hiding right near an Objective, and pop out in the last turn, when your opponent can’t reply, and try to flip that Objective.
All hackers are potential Mission specialists, but here I’m talking about them as troopers you take to actually do hacking against enemy hackers or hackable units. I’ll mention as we go whether they are useful for primary mission objectives.
- Jazz, Zoe, Mary Problems have all been discussed in our part one article on competitive lists – in that Order they are all the premier hacking choices for Nomads. Jazz is by far the most efficient pure hacker, probably in the whole game. Zoe is a multi-purpose support model with her engineering role, and unusually is quite difficult for enemy hackers to kill – don’t over-rely on that, because while her Zero Pain ARO is strong, success doesn’t inflict anything on the enemy besides blanking their Order. They can just keep trying until they get you, and if you are declaring multiple AROs, and Zoe’s is Zero Pain, the enemy hacker can just concentrate all their Burst on the other target(s). Mary is definitely the mobile option with her FD+4” and climbing plus, with her pitcher she is sort of self-sufficient for placing down repeaters, although there are even better options for that in the faction. Just be aware that operating in the midfield (the reason you would take her over the competition) is where you will be exposed to counterattack from enemy hackers, rogue warbands etc – most of which will bypass Mary’s Mimetism-6. That and her improved Dodge are nice, but they won’t reliably keep her alive. A good tip is to Cybermask her if she ends your Active turn anywhere forward, which will protect her from hacking and at least take another Order before she can be directly attacked close up.
- Interventors. These have been overshadowed to some extent by the characters above. We’ve mentioned why they are an uncommon commitment as Lts – one is obvious and vulnerable, two are expensive. As hackers, they are the best stats available in the faction, and nearly the best in the game. They’re just that little bit more expensive than Jazz and less multi-purpose than Zoe or Mary. But the hacking device plus brings White Noise, which is a great thing to have. More than most, they are well protected from enemy killer hackers, especially those which would try and access your repeater network – with a Firewall on top of their BTS9, they shrug off 90% of ordinary Trinity hits. There is also a niche for the killer hacker version. 22pts isn’t much and with its own fast panda to extend repeater coverage, and Trinity(-3) to beat enemy hackers, it’s a good pick if you really want to commit to dominating that infosphere. Interventors would be a strong competitive choice if Jazz didn’t exist.
- Reverend Custodiers are very good hackers, but pay for a bunch of fighting stats that don’t help that role and bloat their overall cost. You could say that Mimetism-6, ARM3 etc would be helpful to them if going into the midfield and achieving objectives, but why would you? Nomads have access to specialists, including hackers, that can deploy there, or have faster movement, for cheaper. If you want a pure hacker, Interventors and the characters are cheaper. Those combat stats won’t help at all when doing the actual hacking. Ultimately, these are really here as an Observance-themed hacker and are fairly good in Bakunin Fireteams; in vanilla Nomads they are obsolete. Cool models though.
- Zeroes, Hellcats, and Bandits are all hackers that are only really intended to be mission specialists. Of course they can all hack in a pinch, but without good WIP or BTS scores, it gets dangerous. I tend to only take these as hackers when it makes activating the mission Objective a +3 roll on two dice, or for classified objectives.
- Prowlers, Spektrs, and Sombras all have better stats for the role. A lot of the value here is the ‘surprise’ element of hacking in ARO. Vanilla Nomads has a lot of Camouflage options and even savvy opponents won’t necessarily always avoid your ZoC with potential hacking targets, of course not if you’re in Hidden Deployment. An important tip is to be restrained and not reveal/decamo in ARO unless the potential reward is very high (like Possessing an enemy TAG) and/or it is the very end of the enemy Active turn. It is not worth losing your hacker just to take a Burst 1 ARO that may well fail! Anecdotally, I once revealed a Spektr hacker to Spotlight in ARO. Failed the roll, and I had forgotten my opponent had a hacker with a pitcher and Trinity in his own DZ. He still had some Orders, and two of them later, my expensive hacker was down and I was kicking myself. The pro move is always to reveal on the very last Order of the enemy turn, or when you are absolutely sure they won’t be able to attack you further. The other issue here is that with Mimetism, especially Mimetism-6, you are paying a lot to be safer from enemy shooting. If you are then a hacker, and opponents can attack you without suffering the Mimetism-6 mods, it’s a big waste. So with Spektrs, when using them it’s extra important to ensure enemy hackers, especially killer hackers, are dealt with.
- Line infantry are all poor to mediocre hackers, with Moderators being marginally the most efficient, but it’s seldom worth using a trooper slot to get a cheap, purely support hacker when a little more investment could get something with more utility. Shout out to the Puppetmaster – we’ve described why it’s dumb to take one as a hacker if running any Puppetbots, but if you are planning on squeezing one into a list just for Counterintelligence, upgrading to a hacker can be a way to get some further use out of it.
- Rem Racers are an odd one, being a bit expensive for a normal hacker with OK stats (WIP13 and BTS6 at 21pts) but also granting +1BS to a Remote in your force. This might be a fun one to try out if you’re pushing a Vostok or similar unit, it’s not outstandingly bad, but you have to ask just how many points +1BS is worth, even on a unit that’s integral to your firepower plan.
- There are a few more units which get hacker profiles, but shouldn’t really be used in that role. Mobile Brigada, Hollowmen and Wildcats all pay for fighting stats, so they’re not very efficient as pure supporting hackers, but still lack the deployment skills, marker state and other bits that make good mission specialists. Wildcats are particularly bad, falling into the trap of paying for multiple skills and minor stat boosts, plus being a hacker, when they can’t bring all of those to bear at once and are still a vulnerable 1W model. The Mobile Brigada does have an excellent -6 Firewall Tinbot, but it’s a huge cost commitment, even in Corregidor where it can spread that Firewall across a Fireteam. The Hollowman is probably the best of these with its 6-2 Movement and super-jump, plus a Firewall-3 Tinbot, but realistically you would take a cheaper support hacker or a mission specialist with deployment skills, rather than this expensive hybrid. Perhaps it has a use case in a Duo Fireteam (see below).
I just want to expand on the idea of hackers operating by preference through repeaters. This idea is key to most competitive Nomad lists (see part one) but beyond the most well known meta options (Moran Masai and Hecklers with fast pandas), there are even more ways to lay out repeaters in Nomads.
- Hecklers are the Active turn leader with Camouflage and Fast Pandas. Interventors can also carry Fast Pandas and these work great when the enemy has advanced into the midfield. Think of a fast panda as a way to hack something 16” away from the carrier.
- Pitchers are carried by Jazz, Zoe/Pi-Well, Reverend Custodiers, Tsyklons (with X-Visors), Moderators and Mary Problems. Pitchers are a bit of a risk because you can simply fail to place them. Baggage (ie Salyut Zonds) lets you reload them as disposable weapons, and keep going. While that is fun, it would need to be carefully planned as a contingency at deployment. Repeatedly (ha) reloading and spamming out pitcher shots is not really recommended in most situations. Conceivably it could completely box in a hackable enemy. But how often will that opportunity come up, when your opponent has no solution to the problem, like unhackable disposable units, and you yourself don’t have any more aggressive options to use your Orders on? Pitchers are best used for an immediate Active turn manoeuvre, or to efficiently get the repeaters where they will take multiple Orders for your opponent to draw LoF to and remove. For example, if your pitcher model is elevated and can see a rooftop that your opponents’ models can’t, try to slap a repeater down there! In the Active turn, a pitcher is literally a way for you to get a model up to 24” away from the firer into your hacking area, which if you are deployed centrally, is a huge swathe of the board. Offensive pitchers (often backed up with guided missiles) are an infamously powerful way to punish defensive deployments, remove hard AROs and generally alpha strike.
- Nomads boast several units which are themselves repeaters: Morans are the kings here due to Infiltration. But Transductors, Meteor & Stempler Zonds, and Vostok Sputniks can all be used to extend your hacking area, creating a very wide defensive hacking ARO net. This is also true of the Iguana, Securitate and Lunokhod but those are overpriced by comparison.
- It’s not as flashy, but Zeroes, Spektrs, Hellcats and Tomcats can also place deployable repeaters. This doesn’t have the effective range of fast pandas or pitchers, but it’s reliable and the units carrying them can deploy safely under camouflage, or even in hidden/airborne deployment, so opponents won’t necessarily see them coming. The only real downside here is that they’re not Hecklers with fast pandas, but there can be advantages in their other non-repeater-laying abilities.
Because of cost mechanics in Infinity, every list is going to have some supporting players, units that aren’t there to spend many Orders, or any if the game goes to plan, they just provide Orders to the Order pool and maybe have one job that might come up. Some of these fit into the categories we’ve already discussed. Many support hackers will just declare AROs in a game, you might never Activate them in your turn. Warbands, similarly, will just hang out and act as a deterrent if there’s no opportunity for them to charge home. Your Lt choices want to fit into this role and avoid dying! But there are a few other selections I think of as falling mainly into this role:
- Transductor Zonds, the same ubiquitous ‘flash pulse bots’ most factions in Infinity can access, are the cheapest Regular Orders in Nomads at 7pts. Many lists will include a pair of them, the maximum allowed. They simply give you so much in repeater coverage and a surprisingly stubborn ARO out to 24”, making them good Reactive speedbumps. Note they move 6”-6”, which can be super useful in the late game, either to score zones for a mission, secure the enemy HVT, or get a key target in the midfield into your hacking area.
- Salyut Zonds can be cheap Baggage bots, which are mostly overshadowed by flash pulse bots. Such a small saving over other Regular troopers with actual guns just isn’t worth it when you are limited to 15 slots. The Total Reaction combi rifle, similarly, just isn’t worth it, too easy to take out with a serious gunfighter. Probably the best profile is the EVO hacker. Firstly, a couple ITS15 missions give you a bonus Order simply for taking one, and they get a nice mission bonus in the Last Launch mission. Outside those scenarios, Nomads have a host of good candidates to receive Marksmanship via supportware – Tsyklons, Vostoks, Reaktion Zonds – and in some missions you may want to give a Hellcat the reliability of dropping in on 18s.
- Total Reaction and Sensor bots can both play a role. As mentioned in the last article on competitive lists, a Reaktion Zond is so useful defensively, and so resilient if properly deployed and supported with an engineer, that it is a common secondary shooter in lists. Stempler Zonds are cheap specialists for activating mission objectives (although they are definitely surpassed by some forward deploying options where the mission does not’ have an Exclusion Zone), and a nice card to have in your back pocket if facing a lot of Camouflage.
- Guided Missiles from the Vertigo Zond are a key faction feature. For a modest points investment, and a much more serious SWC commitment, a Vertigo Zond makes your hackers a huge problem to all enemy models, not just the hackable ones.
- Doctor and Engineer options for reviving models are not necessarily a feature of the most heavily-optimised lists, which tend to be completely focussed on killing and hampering enemy movement. But Nomads do have serviceable options for both – the Clockmaker is an unusually good engineer at WIP15, which is nice if supporting a TAG, since most are not Remote Presence, meaning the repair roll, if you get a chance to make one, is a real do or die roll. Sometimes players take a Monstrucker engineer instead for points saving and defensive utility. Whether incorporating one of those support engineers, or a Daktari (or less commonly the more expensive Reverend Healers or Agatha, which are more expensive and definitely not purely support troops) remember that Zondbot peripheral servants are your friends! They vastly extend the effective range you can revive friendly models at. In most games of Infinity, if you need to spend more than 1-2 Orders getting to a model to try and revive it, the play isn’t worth it. It really pays to plan ahead at deployment, if you are using a Reaktion Zond to hold the enemy up in ARO, you need your engineer or their servant close by in support. If you place Knauf up on a roof, you want a Daktari or their Zondbot on that same roof! Note that Tomcats or Carlota can also be great at this sort of rescue, because the positioning is more forgiving as long as your models are working the edges of the table, and your opponent can’t plainly see the revival manoeuvre coming, so won’t always take the time to fully kill Unconscious models.
- Cheap warbands and line troopers both have a supporting role as ‘cheerleaders’, ie cheap Orders. In a 15-trooper cap environment, units are no longer taken purely for that role, they need some other utility. In Nomads, line troopers typically only appear as Lts or decoy Lts. Jaguars are a better option if you want a cheap Regular Order that’s not a Remote. Even then, the key is deploying them where they can fend off close quarter attacks, or efficiently provide smoke or charge forward to shank an enemy model that’s moved forward too far.
Weird Units That Don’t Fit One Role
- Stigmaton. This is a TAG which isn’t a natural sweeper. It hits out to 32” with a Burst 3 HRL, which is very handy for both the impact template and continuous damage, but at BS13 with no gunfighting modifiers, it can’t be relied on to overcome top level shooting AROs. It does still bully weaker units effectively, you don’t want it to be the top option in your list to break out of your DZ, but your opponents can’t pin it down with just any old thing. Where the Stigmaton excels is as an assault piece, inflicting unusual, deadly ‘forks’ on targets within 8”. Basically this comes from the duality of having a hacking device and a heavy flamethrower. Any hackable unit which a Stigmaton attacks at close range is in big trouble. If they shoot, they get flamed, if they dodge, they get hacked, if they reset, they get flamed. It’s deadly. That’s beyond the normal utility of having a very resilient, mobile specialist and the list synergy of a Nomad hacker. While it may not have quite the hacking stats of an Interventor, it’s important to remember the biggest threat to any hacker is enemy killer hackers, because Trinity is Burst 3. Now when you have 3STR, it is suddenly a lot slower, and therefore riskier, for enemy killer hackers to assail you in that way. Yes, you can still get Isolated or Immobilised (or more rarely Possessed) just as easily as anyone else, but all those states can be cancelled if your opponent doesn’t capitalise on them immediately. For that reason, and because it has Remote Presence, it’s a no-brainer to plan some Engineer support for a Stigmaton if you’re taking one. This is a truly unique multi-role unit and may well become a competitive staple (it’s relatively new).
- Libertos. One of the biggest salt mines and possibly the most efficient piece trader, speed bump and deployment annoyance in the entire game. The minelayer option is a great deal if you can spare the SWC, which is often at a premium for Nomads. But either is great, because having a truly disposable, Camouflaged light shotgun in the midfield, with Dogged, lets you just trade it away to probably take out any 1W unit, even at a surprising distance. Because you can move 8” as a marker, even if it gets you discovered, then move 4” into your attack, vulnerable targets need to be well back to be safe from a Libertos. In the Reactive turn, equally, Dodging on 16 and Dogged make them potentially super frustrating for your opponent. Even more so as a minelayer. Ideally you can force someone to dodge-clear your mine, then make them spend an Order attacking the Libertos to put it into Dogged, then spend another Order to try and finish it off . . . at which point you place another mine as your ARO. Hilarious. Libertos are a staple of competitive lists in most armies that can take them. They’re not an auto-take in competitive Nomads just because guided missiles and Moran Masai cost SWC, but even then, Libertos are a good choice.
- Robin Hook. This is the newest way for Nomads to put a mobile repeater in the midfield, and in this case it’s on a Total Immunity platform with effectively 2STR (actually two separate 1STR profiles, degrading from one to the other on being wounded). Honestly a pretty good deal for the repeater coverage and ability to chuck some drop bear mines while getting into position. As an enabler of hacking and guided missiles, many players prefer the Heckler because it can throw out a repeater 8” without exposing a model to risk. Morans are cheaper in points (dearer in SWC) and are actually Specialists, as well as minelayers (koalalayers?). But Robin brings a resilient presence in your Reactive turn, she’s not trivial to remove and while only FD+4”, is good at actually moving, with 6-2 Move, climbing plus and super-jump. As with so many Booty units, Robin can experience great games when she just rolls into some terrific upgrade.
- Beasthunters. These are either Irregular close-attack camouflage pieces (similar to Bandits, but cheaper) or Irregular minelayer DZ guards. The latter is pretty good but more or less does what it says on the tin – deploy it and its AP mine, then just let it secure an area, or jump out for a crack at anything that gets close, or presents a high-payoff panzerfaust target. There are competing defensive choices that basically aren’t as good (Mimetism-3, a heavy flamethrower, panzerfaust and minelayer is a lot) but also provide Regular Orders. The latter is an interesting disposable attack piece. Burst 1 on an Active model is difficult because a tiny bit of luck against you and you just won’t accomplish anything. But it can do melee combat forks with its heavy flamethrower, and it does provide a flammenspeer (ie a long ranged impact template) under camouflage, which is not something Nomads are known for, and thus can surprise opponents both in Active or ARO. Nomads do get camouflage minelayers so you can even try and bluff a Beasthunter as a mine, deploying it standing up and looking out. Simply decline to ARO until your opponent does provoke an ARO with the second half of an Order, or moves a fireteam into view. Then take your shot. But bear in mind you might miss, Burst 1 is a gamble and ultimately you get what you pay for!
- Bounty Hunters. Both the Regular, dismounted and Irregular, motorised versions have Booty (ReRoll) which makes them fun units to fish for a game-changing result with. We’ve mentioned the mobility and efficiency of the motorised red fury variant. Apart from that they don’t have reliable firepower choices, and while both types can access cheap template and short-ranged options, they are not as cheap as their competition. Realistically, the motorised options see some use because motorcycle movement is great, the regular ones are usually neglected because except when you get that great Booty roll, they’re just overpriced line infantry, which itself is a neglected type of trooper. See the Duos bit below.
Look, no unit is bad, we are all sacred in the eyes of the game designers, it’s how you use them, some partners prefer the smaller ones, etc. But realistically, some units in Infinity are undertuned. I don’t just mean there are units in the same role that can do better – most profiles in the game fall into that trap – but some units just don’t do anything well while being too expensive. Or their kit supports a certain purpose that other characteristics chime very badly with. Let’s look at some examples of things which we would almost never advise anyone to take in their lists:
- Line Infantry (Moderators, Alguaciles, Securitate). Units in a good Infinity list tend to be taken for a particular Active turn job, when you need to go fight something or achieve an objective, or to defend in the Reactive turn and provide Orders or some kind of passive ARO capability. The basic line troopers in the game are not very useful at the former. They don’t have any special skills, good stats, or unique equipment. Their only attraction as fighting pieces comes in Sectorials where they can contribute to or benefit from Fireteam bonuses. Yes, they are cheap, but your Active turn attacking units are exactly where it’s worth paying points to win FtF rolls and the game! Defensively, line troopers are often easier to remove than Warbands or Remotes, while also being more expensive. A flash pulse bot, with its Mimetism-3 and WIP13 flash pulse ARO, is a lot more capable of defending itself than a Securitate that costs nearly double the points. It also brings an onboard Repeater. A Jaguar (we won’t even compare to the cheap, Irregular Morlocks) can be had for 10-11 points, and is a much better unit for guarding and counterattacking than the 9-10 point basic Moderators and Alguaciles. The only role where line infantry still have a role is as Lts, or decoys for the Lt. In every other use case they are badly outshone by competing units.
- Lunokhod Sputniks. Badly overpriced, the Lunokhods’ problem is they are only scary at very close quarters. That can be valuable – Minelayer crazy koalas, a heavy flamethrower, heavy shotgun and repeater make them excellent at defending areas from close range assault. But they will not often have the chance to show off their situational strengths. Silhouette 4 models are extremely hard to hide. If you try and use them in defence, the enemy can probably draw LoF to them from over 10” away, and they will get shot down. Suppose the situation is ideal and you do get to trade them in the Active or Reactive turn – they are too expensive for that to be a great advantage. You can get much cheaper units to guard your DZ.
- Iguana Squadron. We’ve already mentioned that this is the worst Nomad TAG. 2STR is a terrible weakness compared to its peers, and lack of AP on its HMG is also a seriously limiting factor. You won’t automatically lose the game if you field one, but why would you ever pick it against the other Nomad TAGs?
- Cube Jager. This is a Parachutist paramedic in a faction where you have access to Parachutist/Combat Jump paramedics, and Parachutist doctors, albeit for a few more points. It also has an SMG, which doesn’t shoot well >8”, which is the exact range you want to be shooting people in the back from, when you drop in behind them. Being Irregular is theoretically great for airborne troops because it makes them cheaper and they usually don’t benefit from Regular anyway, since they appear, do their work and often get killed before ever contributing to your Order pool. But the Jager spent that points break on some mediocre melee skills and an unnecessary monofilament close combat weapon. You could try and drop behind a TAG and slice it in half, it might come up once in a blue moon. Or you could take a Tomcat.
- Oktavia Grimsdottir. In Infinity, anything which shows itself in the Active turn should be either firing at the enemy, or moving toward an objective. If you have a model that doesn’t have the Burst or stats/skills to reliably beat the enemy, it can’t be used for the former. If it’s not a specialist, it can’t be used for the latter. Oktavia has neither. (there are other uses like cheap Regular Orders and piece traders, she’s not any of those either) She is bad in the Active turn because BS12, Burst 2 without any modifiers will simply lose too many FtF rolls. For every game where she’s lucky and blows something up, there will be another where she dies trying, and that’s before you consider enemies with Mimetism, Fireteam Composition Bonuses, Total Reaction etc. Anything which stands up and presents AROs in the Reactive turn needs to have great skills, or be very resilient, or be very cheap. Otherwise it just gets killed and the owner has harmed their own game. Oktavia is also bad in the Reactive turn, because she’s a 1W, BS12 model. Dogged and Sixth Sense won’t protect her from the many things which can reliably take her out. I can’t imagine any situation when Oktavia would be a good use of points or SWC.
- Lobos, Correctional Response Unit. Ugh. Like a lot of units with BS12, ARM3, 1W and no other gunfighting skills, Lobos are expensive enough to not be disposable, but not punchy enough to have a real advantage in fights. They have a mishmash of equipment which bloats cost and doesn’t add much use. Biometric Visor is nearly useless – the only time they will come up is if you play first and your opponent deployed their Impersonator(s) somewhere they can be quickly attacked. This can happen – perhaps your opponent is trying to pin one of your long range shooters with the threat of a Fiday or Speculo – but normally, when you play the first turn, enemy Impersonators just deploy further back and tucked away. The Visor does nothing to really impede these threats in your Reactive turn, which is when they are dangerous! Veteran is an expensive skill that only comes into play if you are already on the back foot in Loss of Lieutenant. +1” Dodge, on their unimpressive PH11, is not going to contribute much. They are CC23 (bizarrely it’s actually CC20 with the CC+3 skill, no one knows why) but have no Martial Arts, so even their Para CCW (-6) will only let them fight on equal terms with enemy Martial Artists, and they are inefficient at bullying non-melee units because they won’t kill them quickly, just Immobilise them. Lobos don’t have particularly impressive weapons either. All of them do get +1 Damage, but there are better shooters in the faction to use rifles and light flamethrowers. They even get Flash Pulse (+1B), but who uses a flash pulse in the Active Turn!? Everything about these profiles infuriates me. Perhaps the NCO red fury is the best of a bad bunch? Even there, you can get a host of better gunfighters for equal or less points and SWC.
So linking two models together in a Duo can be a great source of synergy and Order efficiency, as you attack with two models that can take over the lead in succession as they encounter obstacles suited to their strengths. In theory. In practice, the Nomad Fireteam Duo options are pretty terrible, featuring units that aren’t the best in the faction (many are perfectly usable). The classic Duo combo is one big scary Active piece, dragging along a specialist, or a model that supports it (like an Engineer for a TAG) or a close combat specialist to remove certain threats with melee and/or protect the main piece with a sacrificial template. That doesn’t happen here, almost all the Duo options are fairly expensive models, so not really things you want to tie together in your deployment and gameplan, while the synergies seem fairly limited. Your expensive, firepower models are OK but not great profiles, while the cheaper models don’t play that well off them. Let’s look at some potential uses, but spoiler, none of the Duos are viewed as good ideas from a competitive standpoint.
- Geckos. A TAG is usually something you would invest some points in supporting, and that is sort of still true for a budget version like a Gecko. There aren’t any engineers available, but hey, that’s not as beneficial for a manned TAG as for one with Remote Presence anyway. Close combat support? You could take a Cheerkiller or Miranda Ashcroft, neither of whom are particularly great at melee, and neither bring smoke, while Miranda isn’t even that cheap, she’s paying for Mimetism-6, which isn’t necessary in a junior Duo partner. I struggle to recommend a 15pt Cheerkiller specialist operative. There are more efficient ways to achieve the mission in most games, and as a fighting profile I think it’s dire. Maybe a Hollowman Hacker, which at least comes with a Firewall-3. This is sort of attractive on the face of it, you’re dragging a specialist into position and gaining cover against hacking attacks. But the Hollowman isn’t a particularly dangerous hacker, and against opponents with capable hacking of their own, you’re not protecting your TAG from hacking, so much as putting one of your own hackers in front of it as an ablative target. Firewall or not, if that 34pt Hollowman gets Isolated or knocked out in a couple of Orders by an enemy hacker, you’ve committed a lot of points and your opponent can continue the attack into your Gecko.
- Bounty Hunters. These are an unusual troop, basically line infantry with BS12 and Booty (ReRoll). So if you want to use one of the models, you could partner it to one of the firepower pieces in the Duo list – Kriza Boracs, Taskmaster, Gecko, probably not the Hollowman since its only unique selling point is bouncing around with Super-Jump, which doesn’t work in a Duo. That means your push piece has at least got a sidekick in position who might have some usable skill. This is pretty ‘meh’ as a tactic. Why bring a light model that’s not a specialist forward into an attack run with you? The benefits are niche and you’ve probably got better uses for the points and trooper slot.
- Motorised Bounty Hunters. These Irregular motorcyclists don’t necessarily compare well to Nomads’ other Irregular warband options, but 8-6 Movement is always useful and as mentioned above, the red fury version is a very cheap gunfighter. Now Irregular troops are weird in a Duo. You can’t spend their Order at all without breaking the fireteam. But Duo does stop them being Impetuous. Motorcycles can already choose to not be Impetuous at deployment, so that’s useless, right? Well, being in a Duo means that you can deploy them with the ability to take partial cover, then have the freedom to cancel the fireteam at any point (i.e. directly before your Impetuous Orders step) to actually get value from the movement.
- So it’s not a great competitive strategy, but you could take the red fury and SMG/chain-colt bikes as a Duo. Choose for the SMG one to be Impetuous. Assuming you don’t break the fireteam immediately before your first turn, to sprint the SMG forward, you can push Orders into them, then use their Irregular Order to suppress with either, or suppress the red fury and move the SMG further into an attack, or leave it somewhere that your opponent needs to worry about its Impetuous move in the next turn.
- Alternatively, you can Duo the cheap SMG motorised bounty hunter to pretty much any of the big units in the list, just to abuse that Schrodinger’s Impetuous state, and to drag a truly disposable piece up the field in case you need to use it in a piece trade. Marginal gains, but could be handy.
Fitting a List Together
Lists aren’t just a mishmash of units thrown in at random, are they? Or even a couple of selections from each of the roles above. Looking at units’ efficiency and skills in a vacuum isn’t the whole picture. There are a few ways to think about what you should actually take as a whole product:
- The requirements of the mission come first. There is no such thing as a ‘take-all-comers’ list in Infinity, although some competitive players do use one list build, and tweak certain specialist profiles in and out to account for the mission pack. But if you try and play Countermeasures without a range of models to cover all the classified objectives, or play Mindwipe without models that can use anti-materiel close combat weapons, or play most any mission without specialists that can move into the midfield, you are not going to do well. You must have a plan to achieve the primary mission objectives, and that starts at list building by including models that can do it efficiently and well.
- You need to have the ability to fight at all ranges. If you don’t have any long-range guns, you won’t be able to fight your way out of your DZ against enemy AROs. If you don’t have anything that can defeat enemies at close quarters, or at least piece-trade with templates, then your opponent can just tuck in behind Total Cover and laugh at you.
- In the Active turn, you need to be able to defeat hard AROs. Some opponents will put out a TAG or a high-BS missile launcher in a Core Fireteam. How are you going to deal with that? There are asymmetric options available to Nomads like hacking, or bypassing with smoke, but most AROs can be defeated head-on, albeit by accepting a bit of risk, and if you don’t have that option, you are forced to spend more Orders, absorbing the punch of your Active turn and playing right into your opponent’s hands. In list-building, you need apex long range threats to avoid having the game dictated to you.
- In the Reactive turn, you may have the ability to delay your opponent with ranged AROs, but as mentioned above, that isn’t a strength of vanilla Nomads. More achievably, can you stop or absorb a push into your table half by a mobile, aggressive enemy unit(s)? This can be done by hacking in some cases, but good opponents are going to use unhackable and/or Stealth models to get through. Ultimately, you can’t stop an aggressive enemy attack, you have to bog it down with sacrificial AROs, ideally layered with hacking, or Dodges into melee combat, or smoke – the goal is to keep that enemy attack away from the models you really don’t want to lose. At list building, you need some models who are disposable and/or a little harder to slog through.
- Are you investing in hacking? The issue here is that some of the biggest threats to hackers are other hackers, and due to how hacking area and AROs work, a single hacker is more vulnerable to direct attack via their own repeaters than multiple hackers are. So my list building advice is, either go big, investing in at least two quality hackers and the right enabling pieces (repeaters, even a guided missile launcher) or go home, staying out of it altogether. But there’s a get-out clause, which is to use hackers that can stay off the table or in a marker state. These are not as vulnerable to enemy hackers.
- Caveat on numbers: it’s basically better to have 15 Orders, ideally with some use from Impetuous, NCO, TacAware on top. There is some play in potentially fielding 14 visible models to make your opponent play in fear of Carlota or some other hidden piece. But it’s generally not worth taking fewer than the maximum number of Orders; it’s just too important to have both the reach they give, and the board control/depth from having more pieces on the table. When we discuss combat groups below, we are basically assuming 15 troopers.
Choosing and Limiting your Active Pieces
Probably the most common trap I fall into when building lists for casual games, or trying out new ideas, is including too many Order-hungry models that need to be resourced in the Active turn to fill their potential. Now clearly, you need more than a couple strong Active models. If you were to only include two (one in each Combat Group), well, if they get killed, you are on the back foot and only have a host of supporting models to leverage. But if you have more than say 4 really powerful pieces for use in the active turn, you are investing less in your Reactive models and supporting capabilities, and you won’t get full use out of that many Active pieces. Realistically, if the game goes well, one or two of them will be underused, sitting where cheaper units could perform the same role. If it goes really badly, yes, your fifth, sixth back-up Active models can come out to play, but if you had concentrated your Active turn power more and prepared better for Reactive turns, you might not be in that fix!
A good guideline would be to include two Active turn shooters and two break-through pieces for punishing enemies who have hidden in Total Cover. The line between those two roles can blur, and either of those roles can also be filled by a Mission Specialist, but those are the biggest Active turn categories, the ones you would pump multiple Orders into. For the biggest punch, you would want to have a clear idea of which shooter is your first choice, and which is the back-up. That lets you pay more for the biggest and best primary option – power at a point, which helps you win FtF rolls and start to tip the game in your favour. An example would be a meta-competitive Nomad list – a Szalamandra TAG is a very potent Active turn shooter, the back-up might be something far leaner like a Puppetbot with AP marksman rifle. It’s not quite as competitive, but still valid, to have more balanced primary/secondary Active models. I quite enjoy a Gecko, which is brute force within 24”, and an Intruder HMG, which has better options against Mimetism and/or at longer range, especially with smoke support. The important thing, competitive or casual, is to choose a couple models that will carry your attack and play well off each other, ideally with a little bit of redundancy, because your opponent will try and kill things in their Active turn, and you might be unlucky yourself and lose some things in ARO.
Combat Group Structure
This is a part of list-building in Infinity that sometimes only becomes apparent once you’ve practised with a draft list. Your split into two Combat Groups, so two Order pools, needs to be right to resource the troopers in each group to do their jobs effectively. There will always be a choice of which model to spend Orders on, but the split needs to be right so that no model is in a group where it can’t possibly fulfil its full potential. E.G. If your Uberfallkommando is in a Combat Group of 5 models, it will be very difficult for it to run forward into the enemy DZ and wreak havoc – if that’s your plan for it. If your plan for the Uberfall is to stay safe and jump on enemies which enter the midfield to attack your force or activate Objectives, it might be enough, provided that small Combat Group stays intact.
As well as providing reach to individual models, it’s useful to arrange Groups so that big tandem manoeuvres are using both pools. Touching on the idea above of primary and secondary options for your main attack pieces, you should consider spreading them between two groups. E.G. if I wish to alpha strike the enemy on Turn 1 with a TAG gunning down hard AROs or exposed models, a Heckler/Moran laying deployables, a hacker and guided missile bot laying down some attacks, I shouldn’t have all those models in one group, even if it’s a full 10 Orders. I can probably put the TAG in the smaller group, with its Tactical Awareness Order on top it can complete its job with those Orders, leaving the more Order-intensive attacks against hidden models to use my larger pool. In fact I might put the Heckler/Moran in that smaller group as well.
Most players are more comfortable using a 10/5 or 9/6 split. 8/7 tends to be avoided, because either group can become quite short-reach if docked Orders by Strategic Use Command Token when going first. (note that many competitive Nomad lists will include Counterintelligence, which mitigates this). Using an 8/7 split well needs a lot of discipline to focus on doing a job efficiently with either group, and not overextending. Even so, I personally don’t like it, because some jobs, like breaking through into the enemy DZ, there is no such thing as too many Orders and I prefer to weight one group towards that, and more strictly limit my other group, allocating it a support task. I also think that 8/7 splits suffer more from casualties as the game goes on. With a 10/5 or 9/6, provided you split them correctly, it’s easier to maintain one functional group even after heavy losses. 8/7 builds can end up with two groups that are both too limited in reach to achieve much.
Especially if going for the 10/5 split, you need to consider, are you going to fill that 5 purely with support models that have discrete, few-Order jobs? Or are you going to put in at least one push piece? I favour the latter but the important thing is to be clear about what you expect a small group to do, and that their role contributes meaningfully to your game plan.
Some list builds do go 10/5 with the explicit intent that the models in the smaller group are likely to be killed in ARO (aggressively deployed flash pulse bots), sacrificed during a game (warbands) or moved into the larger group with Command Tokens to replace casualties (anything, but particularly airborne deployment troopers waiting in the wings). This structure is usable but not as efficient as building two groups that can both strike at the enemy force if needed. In ITS Season 15, particularly, one Command Token per round can simply be used as a Regular Order, so your ‘plan A’ shouldn’t really be moving troopers between groups, the opportunity cost has become higher.
Similarly, that extra Regular Order is more efficient than converting an Irregular Order to Regular. So when including Irregular troops, it pays to be certain they can contribute with their one Order in a pinch. You shouldn’t count on leaving them static and converting their Order every turn, because realistically it won’t be efficient to do so, and you won’t have the Command Tokens to do it at all more than once per game at most.
Airborne Deployment and Hidden Deployment Troopers
In previous ITS seasons, if I included a Parachutist or Combat Jump trooper, I generally placed it in my smaller Group, planning to swap it into the larger one if a good attack run presented itself. In ITS15, with the opportunity cost of using Command Tokens to provide extra Regular Orders, it is more important to place these non-Order-contributing models where you actually expect them to operate (and the same for Hidden Deployment models). The tension is always that deploying such units, at least the cheap-middleweight options Nomads get, in Round 1 is seldom seen. They are mostly late game assets, so having one in your larger group is weakening the reach of the main pool for alpha striking. Now, I would consider having an airborne deployment mission specialist in a group with no more than 4 Regular Orders, if I expected those Order-contributors to survive long, but I would be more likely to place a significant model like Carlota into a big group with 9 other Regular Orders, accepting a weaker first turn but increasing the chance I could use her to full effect without spending a Command Token.
This may be obvious, but because they don’t contribute anything to the Order pool, there is a pretty hard limit on how many airborne troops you can fit into a list. Most people would only take one; two, split one into each Combat Group, is the sensible upper limit. There is value in wrong-footing your opponent by doing the unexpected – I once lost a tournament game to a madman who was playing Onyx Contact Force and dropped three Fraacta Drop Troops on me – but without Orders it’s hard to get things done (I wouldn’t have lost that game had I not made some other mistakes). Hidden Deployment is a bit more forgiving since the model can use its own Order when it appears, or reveal in ARO, but those models should also be kept to a low number, drawing from the same unofficial limit on the number of ‘off-board’ models you want to include.
That is basically all the advice I can offer about list building vanilla Nomads from first principles (rather than defaulting to the agreed competitive meta). It’s interesting to see how some of that advice leads us to the same place. Look at the competitive list examples from part one, and you can see some of my general points being reflected. But competitive Infinity does have a problem that the most optimised profiles in a faction – the ones with a unique edge or that are just 1-2 points cheaper than comparable units – will show up again and again in tournament lists. Hopefully this article equips people to understand why certain units are strong, but also how the less well known units and profiles fit into a spectrum of good to bad. If you structure the entire list well, and position and play it well, that should matter more than using the top units. But if you’re going to a big event to try and win, don’t feel bad if your list looks a lot like the competitive examples from last time. Assuming equally sound plans and micro gameplay, it will have an edge.
Next time we will look at the newest extra game mode, Reinforcements, and how it affects Nomad strategies in list building and on the table.
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