The Nomad Nation is composed of three enormous spacefaring motherships, each of which is home to a distinct group of outcasts from the wider Human Sphere. Tunguska (the money) is run by gangsters and bankers; Corregidor (the hand) is a former prison inhabited by hard bitten workers; Bakunin (the soul) is an eclectic mix of alternative lifestylers, mad scientists and religious extremists. These very diverse groups are united by a mistrust of the authority of other nations, particularly the AI Aleph, which unites and supports – Nomads would say it secretly rules – the Human Sphere. Since their ships are so vulnerable, and their population so small, compared to the power bases of the other nations, the Nomads have to survive on their wits in the cutthroat politics of the sphere. Their diplomatic efforts (and more pertinently to Infinity, the black ops of their intelligence and the Nomad Military Force) are working round the clock to maintain a delicate equilibrium. Only by keeping an elaborate set of safeguards and playing other nations off against each other can the Nomads hope to survive as an independent polity.
On the table top, Nomads are one of the core factions of Infinity. Their background and aesthetics are one of the best-established parts of the game and they feature prominently in the fiction. Some would say this lets them access a disproportionate number of character units, which have a higher chance than most units to be competitive! Overall Nomads sometimes attract salt online for being an all-rounder faction that can access most important abilities in the game, including on competitively-costed profiles or in unique combinations. They are particularly notorious for playing the infowar game well, by having wide access to hackers, individually strong/efficient hacking options, and most of all, good ways to extend hacking area across the board via repeaters.
Now I really, really like Nomads, from the look to the idea to the models to the rules, so now I’m going to bang on about them at length.
Competitive Lists in Infinity
It’s always a bit facile in Infinity to talk about ‘faction strengths’. The game does not feature faction-exclusive rules in the way that, say, Warhammer 40k does. Nomads do not re-roll 1s to hit! Abilities and equipment are on unit profiles, not factions. (there are a couple rules that are only on a few profiles within a specific faction, Combined Army have Sepsitor and Tohaa have Pheroware for example) If someone says to you “Nomads are a competitive/top-tier/broken faction”, what they mean is that Nomads have certain profiles which, taken together, can form a very strong competitive list. Infinity is a high context game, a powerful shooting unit, for example, can be useless in some games, when targets don’t present themselves, and dominant in others. A unit’s value depends on the enemy list and how your opponent plays it, as well as your own decisions. So it is not just that profiles, not factions, are good, many profiles are good because of how they can be used and how they fit into the wider list. This dependence on synergy and the list being able to cover as many tactical situations as possible is certainly evident in the current most competitive Nomad lists.
Infinity does have some partially solved internal balance issues within factions. Each faction has a huge list of units and profiles available. There is a pretty well-understood, much smaller, list within each faction of the really top tier profiles. The ones which are the most capable choice for their role, or which feature a combination of skills/equipment that are particularly efficient, and/or can’t be found in most other factions. Infinity is still quite tightly balanced – table position and all the other aspects of skilful play would let a very good player pick less optimised units, provided they were still logical choices for their roles, and usually triumph over a less skilful opponent using a highly competitive list. But clearly, when going into a tournament to try and win, almost all players are going to start their lists by considering this refined list of best-in-faction picks. The Nomad-specific version of this is fairly notorious and the resulting lists have been used by some excellent players, including the winner of the 2023 Interplanetario. Part one of this Nomads guide is going to dig into the components of competitive Nomad lists, how and why they are strong in conjunction, and discuss the best known examples.
There may well be other units/profiles that aren’t universally recognised as top-tier, but can find a place in competitive lists, especially when considering the missions it will be used for. So Part Two of this article, to prevent one screed which would be enormously long, is going to run through most Nomad units, separated into roles, and offer some variations to consider, and what alternative units players might want to keep in their back pockets, replacing the usual suspects in some situations.
There will also be a part three where we consider how to build Reinforcement Sections (and the corresponding Main Section lists) for Nomads. That new game mode is still settling into a defined meta, but there are already some obvious picks and trends in how Nomad players want to build their forces.
Top Competitive Units
In no particular order, here are the most universally agreed top-tier competitive Nomad units. Some are either the best option for their role in the faction, and/or a particularly Nomad capability. Many of them are valuable particularly when taken in tandem – see the next section on how the meta Nomad list works. It’s important to understand that while units can be agreed to be particularly efficient or good at their roles, in Infinity we are talking about very marginal differences to other factions’ equivalents. When we say the Szalamandra is a good TAG, it has a couple of nice features (see the entry below). But it does the same thing as everyone else’s full weight TAGs, you use similar tactics to attack and defend with it and you don’t expect anything vastly different to happen!
Szalamandra (or sometimes Gator)
All Infinity lists need long range firepower. If opposing models can be spotted from across the table, i.e. they are not completely tucked away behind total cover, the quickest and most efficient way to remove them is to just shoot them with a high-BS, high-Burst gun. TAGs are a very attractive way to achieve this; their pure firepower is equal or better to any smaller shooters in the game. As well as being equipped to win Face to Face (FtF) rolls, they have high Damage weapons, usually with AP/Shock ammunition available, so very few targets can effectively stonewall them in the Reactive turn. Additionally they have enough ARM and STR that they can’t easily be shot straight off the board themselves, taking them out requires some specialist ammunition or hacking, which can be an Order intensive and impermanent solution. All TAGs are broadly competitively priced for their raw stats and extra skills (like Tactical Awareness).
In Nomads, this holds true with a TAG being the most common choice as a ‘primary gun’ in competitive lists. The usual unit for this is the Szalamandra, which for a reasonable 72 pts, boasts the fearsome Heavy Rapid Magnetic Cannon (HMRC), a Burst 5 gun with even better range bands than the B4 Multi HMG which most heavy TAGs carry. This Active turn terror weapon, and BTS9 are the main selling points over a bog standard TAG, and they are certainly enough to make it one of the better TAGs in the game. The key point of using this unit is to preserve it from close quarters attack. It should level anything short of an Avatar when shooting in your own Active turn. It must be preserved for that role, if targets are not visible at long range, use something else to move forward, or count Orders to see if you can go forward, draw LoF, shoot, and still return to a safe position.
The Gator is sometimes seen as an alternative to the Szalamandra. It gives up the HMRC for a more prosaic Multi HMG, but that is often enough to win FtF rolls and put opponents down anyway. In return it gets great melee skills (CC20, Natural Born Warrior and Dodge +2”). These combine to make it basically safe from any models that might try to neutralise it in melee combat. Even if an enemy model had the skills and weapon to have an even chance in melee, which might well be a good asymmetric trade-off, most opponents won’t be spending multiple Orders to have a try at it. In some situations, like being attacked by a Bearpode with Berserk, remember that it doesn’t mean you’re immune to melee damage! Further, the Gator has a Mine Dispenser, which gives it a limited capability to force forks on enemy ARO pieces or threaten models hiding behind cover, and for a few additional points it can buy the NCO skill, which is a nice efficiency in Nomads, which competitively always feature a passive Lt.
As stated, competitively the Szalamandra is the more common pick, because for the role it fills in the list – sweeping down ARO pieces and threatening long range death to any enemies which show themselves – it is more efficient and reliable than the Gator. The latter comes into its own in missions where you might want or need to send it forward, like Supremacy, Frontline or Frostbyte. In those missions, a Szally can be vulnerable to melee threats when it has to move forward to score. Both are considered substantially better than the other TAG options, the Lizard, the cheaper/lighter Gecko, and the abysmal Iguana, which is a good example of what we mean by solved internal balance in a faction.
The premier Nomad shooter of yesteryear was always the Intruder HMG profile. The excellent gunfighting mods (Camouflage/Surprise Attack, Mimetism-3, MSV2) let him engage targets reliably at range, and especially by firing through smoke, exercise great board control. Obviously rather cheaper than a TAG, he is far, far more fragile. Even in Active turn use, one crit or unlucky roll and he will be down or dead, where a TAG would survive to try again. Once revealed from Camouflage he is also easier to kill in the Reactive. Lacking the AP or boosted Damage of the TAGs, many popular ARO pieces can stonewall his Active turn push. Any ARM8 TAG can just let him spend the whole turn trying to shoot it; it would expect to take about 15 ARM rolls before going down, and the Intruder would probably get unlucky and die to an ARO before it happened. The main source of hard stop AROs in the game, snipers/MLs with Core Fireteam bonuses, are similarly an unacceptable risk. With Sixth Sense they don’t care about being Surprised or targeted through smoke. An Intruder can normally get an advantageous FtF roll against them, but not by enough to justify the risk, or enough to guarantee a quick, efficient win. So this is a piece which may struggle against the very things which opponents are likely to expose as long range AROs. Nonetheless, it is still so useful as a hunter of lighter units that some players still favour it in competitive lists. That was what led to its prevalence through N2-N3, when most heavy-armoured units were considered less competitive. Although its target set may be less common in Turn 1 of competitive games, it can still be a deadly threat once TAGs and Core team AROs are dealt with and MSV2 is a huge deal against factions that can bring massed Mimetism-6 (principally Steel Phalanx and Bakunin).
Knauf shares all the same fragility issues, and can’t shoot through smoke nearly as efficiently with his MSV1. He loses some Burst but gains the ability to outrange many AROs by engaging at extreme range, and to combat armour with AP. He’s also much cheaper. Knauf isn’t a common choice as the primary gun in a competitive list but is sometimes seen as a secondary gunfighter. His issue is that you wouldn’t normally risk him against a hard ARO like a Core Fireteam sniper/ML, although you could argue that is a situation where competitive Nomads should be using hacking & guided missiles. Where Knauf does excel is in out-ranging enemy HMG-type weapons if they have been left partially exposed in the mid-game, pinning down smoke warbands, and preying on flash pulse bots.
The closest thing to a dangerous ARO in vanilla Nomads is the Reaktion Zond (Total Reaction bot), which while not universal, often crop up in competitive Nomads lists, serving as a secondary active gun as well as an ARO piece. The key with these is always to not stand up and ‘fight the world’. A TAG will blow through these one way or another in a couple Orders at most, and any competitive army will include those or a Mimetism-6 or smoke-shooting method to remove them without any risk. TR bots need careful deployment where they will stop warbands breaking into your DZ, or will offer AROs over key Objectives, but any enemy shooters will have to move repeatedly to actually engage them. If you can keep a TR bot alive to Round 3, and have removed most of your opponent’s best gunfighters, it can be a game winner.
Like the Uberfallkommando (see below) this is a weird unit, featuring one Puppetmaster, who is essentially a support trooper with the Counterintelligence skill, which is damn useful for helping the list put together alpha strikes, and 0-3 Puppetbots as Peripherals. These are effectively 2STR (actually they have two separate 1STR profiles, becoming Battle-Ravaged and getting worse stats once they’re damaged), lightly-armoured REMs. They can be deployed anywhere on the field in relation to the Puppetmaster, but all the bots must remain in mutual ZoC. This is a highly multi-functional unit. You can deploy the Puppetmaster as standard, as a minelayer or as a hacker. The latter is highly unusual if actually taking Puppetbots, because if he becomes Unconscious, Dead or Isolated, the bots are all Disabled. So becoming a hacker just opens up new avenues of attack against him. The Puppetmaster is definitely a unit to keep safe in the backline. The Puppetbots feature a rarely-seen Red Fury profile (competitive lists don’t have the spare SWC to spend on it), an AP+Shock Marksman rifle which forms a very efficient secondary shooter, and a boarding shotgun Forward Observer. Those latter two, usually taken one of each, mean that you can move these two 6-4 models round with one Order, similar to a Fireteam Duo; they can shoot things up to 24” or piece-trade close up; they can activate Objectives; they form a speed bump ARO that can take multiple Orders for enemies to chew through. They’re simply one of the best values in the whole game. Critically, Puppetbots do not provide Orders or count towards your 15-trooper limit. So while squeezing them in means you need additional cheap Orders to make your 15, when they are sacrificed in the Active Turn, or ideally your opponent has to spend their Orders dealing with them in your Reactive, you aren’t losing anything from your Order pool. Leveraging these to be a pain for your opponent is a guilty pleasure for many Nomad players. You actually want the Puppetbots to offer AROs in many situations, within 24”. Conversely, the Puppetmaster needs to be protected from attack. The most common configuration (Master, marksman rifle, FO) runs to 38 points. That makes the Puppetmaster, who in stats is a vulnerable line infantry trooper, a tempting target for an enemy Impersonator or anything attacking your DZ.
Hacking is a key part of all competitive Nomad lists. A lot of players focus on hacking as a way to neutralise units without taking direct AROs. In practice, hacking in the Active turn to Immobilise, Isolate or Possess Hackable units is a tool for very specific situations, and it’s often better to accept some risk and try a more direct solution while using fewer Orders. Having access to Guided Missiles though (see Vertigo Zond below) lets them pose a more lethal threat to enemies, including non-Hackable targets, and that synergy is key to why hacking is such a universal feature of Nomad lists. Where hacking excels is in ARO. With the range of repeaters available, Nomad players can create wide areas of the table which opponents can’t operate in without risk of hacking, ideally while also facing other direct AROs, and that creates a strong soft defence. Always remember that enemies with Stealth can move through your hacking area quite easily, they need to be forced to declare non-movement skills, usually by other AROs, before you can get a hacking area ARO against them.
Jazz & Billie
Jazz is probably the most efficient hacker in the game. She’s not the all-round strongest, but at WIP14 and BTS6 she is close to the top stats, and she has the excellent combination of Hacking Device Plus and Trinity(+1 Damage) – she gets all the important hacking programs. Critical context here is she costs a mere 18 points. This is a prime example of CB pushing splash release characters into the cutting edge of tabletop efficiency (intentionally or not, we leave up the readers’ own opinion). She is such a good value that she will always be the first hacker a competitive Nomad player adds to their list. She also comes with Billie, a 7pt Remote with some valuable functions as a speed bump ARO, carrying E/M mines, a flash pulse and a repeater. Compared to common flash pulse bots, which are already a common sight across all factions’ competitive lists, including Nomads, he holds up well, so having to bring him along is no hardship at all.
One thing that Jazz’s Hacking Device Plus (also available on Interventors, but they aren’t quite as multi-role) brings is White Noise. This program is just a great thing to remember when facing MSV models. You should have good places where you can place it across the table thanks to Moran Masai (see below), even before spending any Orders placing more repeaters. Shooting an MSV target through White Noise can make a risky ARO very manageable, and if they have Sixth Sense, which is very common via Core Fireteams, you can still use the program to bypass them, or to let a template weapon get close enough to piece trade. Few pleasures in Infinity are equal to blocking Atalanta’s view with White Noise and then obliterating her with a TAG (although no savvy opponent is going to be caught out that way).
Many lists will take at least one additional hacker beyond Jazz, because like every hacker, and every 1W model, she is very vulnerable in the Reactive turn. It is eminently achievable for opponents to ‘scalpel out’ Jazz in Turn 1 with their own Trinity-using hacker(s), or with a model breaking through to your Deployment Zone (DZ). If she was your only hacker, well, the repeaters and guided missiles you’ve probably invested in are now rather useless. Beyond trying to avoid that state of affairs in deployment and play, taking a second hacker gives you redundancy. Although more expensive, Zoe (& Pi-Well) may be the most highly-regarded option; she is also an engineer, so brings support to your TAG and/or Remotes without having to use another trooper slot. Mary Problems is almost equally flexible as Jazz as a hacker, losing White Noise, but gaining Trinity (AP) which lets her realistically target any enemy hacker in the Active turn. She is also quite mobile with Forward Deployment +4” and Climbing Plus. Unfortunately she pays for all this mobility and versatility. While a good mission specialist, as a hacker most players prefer to save points and protect Jazz and/or Zoe in their own DZ, instead of running Mary around where she can be more vulnerable. Paying for things like Mimetism-6 is great on a gunfighting model, but it won’t be as universally helpful on a hacker in the midfield, who has to worry about enemy templates and hacking programs instead. Interventors are actually great for hacking support, with the best stats of all (WIP15 and BTS9) but tend to get edged out by the efficiency and dual utility of Jazz or Zoe. Their other main use is as Lts, but that has some issues too (see below).
A simple but integral piece to the majority of competitive Nomad lists, this is a guided missile bot, as seen in most factions’ rosters. Basically, having one of these deployed safely within your DZ means that activating anywhere in your hacking area is extraordinarily dangerous for unhackable troopers which normally could treat being Targeted as an inconvenience or manageable downside. Now, any trooper which gets Targeted in ARO can expect a swift demise on your next Active turn. The Vertigo Zond also enables you to make assassination plays by bringing a repeater into position, using the Spotlight program in Active and then sending the missiles. This can be Order intensive, you are relying particularly on getting that Spotlight, typically with an even FtF roll (your WIP14 Spotlight vs the enemy declaring Reset on WIP12-15). But it lets you strike at almost any model, even those which present a deadly shooting ARO, without taking any risk. That ability to strike at targets behind Total Cover, with a greater reach than you can achieve by suicide-run warbands, is a key threat of competitive Nomad lists. It makes a huge difference in games like Decapitation or Unmasking which rely on scalpelling out key pieces. Guided Missiles don’t care if the target has Mimetism, and they will generally get through armoured 2W models in 1-2 Orders. Note that a very few models are still not good targets. TAGs are slow to kill due to their ECM (Guided)-6. Total Immunity models, especially those with multiple W/STR, like Bearpodes and other Ariadnan type beasts, will never just get wiped out in one Order. Any 2W model, in fact, should usually try to Reset if attacked by Guided. Rather than hope to win the FtF with a Dodge, they have a better chance to luckily take only 0-1 Wounds and Reset normally, forcing the other player to try and Spotlight again. The hacking is the slow or unreliable part of the Guided attack chain, not the missile itself. That is why threatening hacking in ARO is so important.
Because the list includes a Vertigo Zond, usually a TAG, albeit not a Remote Presence one, and a Chimera, which are all valid to repair, it can be very helpful to include an engineer. They can also usefully remove the Isolated condition on a hacker or anything else, which will come up occasionally when confronting enemy hackers. There are three good options in vanilla Nomads: the Clockmaker is a plain support engineer, but has an enviable WIP15 which is nice when repairing your TAG, since there’s no way to Command Token re-roll this make or break dice. Zoe is just as good and is simultaneously a strong hacker, so taking her covers multiple roles, especially as she comes packaged with Pi-Well, a utility specialist remote who can sort of gunfight or ARO and helps repeater coverage. She is a very good choice but certainly skews lists toward the hacking, repeater placing style of play, because her points cost is a commitment. Finally, the Monstrucker is only average at engineering (WIP13) and is Irregular, but it’s the cheapest, and the best profile has a chain rifle and drop bears so is not a vulnerable/attractive target in your DZ.
Any of these are valid, and while an engineer isn’t mandatory to make the list work, it does make your synergies less fragile. If you are using Jazz (or whoever) to Trinity an enemy hacker in Turn 1, and they ARO Oblivion, win the FtF roll (not that unlikely) and Isolate you, well that’s a major blow to your game plan. An Engineer can get you out of this. Similarly, an Unconscious TAG can be brought back. It’s a risk, 25-35% chance to just fail the attempt, and more than that, a competent opponent will try to remove the TAG entirely so you won’t get the chance. But having an Engineer so they have to spend at least one more Order bouncing rounds into your TAG, just to stop you maybe reviving it, is valuable in itself. Ditto with your Vertigo Zond, if it goes down to a rogue warband that got to your DZ, an Engineer can get your capabilities back online. The key to all this is positioning. An Engineer who is even 2-3 Orders of movement away from their target is dead weight, you need them on the spot, and for that reason a Zondbot, or even two, are highly recommended.
These are the cornerstone of the Reactive repeater network, which Transductor Zonds and Billie also support. Obviously we’re referring specifically to the profiles with repeaters, not the Limited Camouflage versions. Their Crazy Koalas are also useful as deployables, and for setting up Active Turn forks. Morans thus create two separate defensive Zone of Control (ZoC) bubbles around their deployment positions. These can give your opponents fits, but they do need to be placed very carefully so they can’t be taken out fairly efficiently by aggressive, disposable warbands, and of course they always want to be in total cover from any enemy shooters or potential firing positions. Those same cheap warbands, or HI models, can easily Dodge past Koalas, although there is some risk involved. The nightmare situation for Morans is when an enemy hacker is deployed against them who is potent enough to access the Nomad hackers via their repeaters. An Anathematic or Asura hacker profile will happily enter Morans’ ZoC and engage, even against two of the most common Nomad hackers at once, despite Firewall mods.
Morans are also good Mission Specialists, they’re cheap FOs you can deploy right next to the Objectives in many Missions, although there is a balance between deploying them in defensive positions to survive and remain as obstacles, and positions where they can easily access the Objectives. Overall they are one of the absolute best value units in the game, although 0.5SWC does need to be calculated into the list cost. Almost all competitive Nomad lists include these at the full AVA2 although that does have an impact on the overall SWC structure, and you need to watch out for Missions with Exclusion Zones, which dramatically reduce their game impact.
Generally, when using a pair of Moran Masai they should deploy in separated positions where they can’t be easily attacked in the same run, and their ZoC ‘bubbles’ can affect a wide swathe of the board, rather than overlapping. Remember not to think in terms of pure area, but where the best firing points and the key routes into/out of your DZ lie.
Heckler with Fast Panda & Jammer
The Heckler profile with Jammer and Fast Panda is the best way to get a repeater into position in the Active turn. Unlike using Pitchers, there is no need to roll, or to achieve direct line of fire to the placement area. Note that the Camouflage state, combined with a willingness to sacrifice the Heckler if necessary, allows a hacking reach of 28”. You can Move-Move once, even if you are Discovered during that Order; then use a second Order to Move-Deploy Panda. That means a repeater is now up to 20” from your starting position, and a target up to 28” away is in your list’s hacking area. Chaining this manoeuvre up with the old Spotlight and missile party gives competitive Nomads the ability to trade the Heckler, and a pile of Orders, for pretty much any target in the game. It’s most commonly used to get Trinity onto enemy hackers, or to Spotlight a hard stop ARO or an obvious Lt model. But it’s good against any target you need to die, which can’t be reached with direct fire. As a cherry on top, the Jammer makes this a very handy defensive profile, able to stop attack runs by even Total Immunity models, like Bearpodes.
The weirdest warband in the game, this is probably only surpassed in that role by Bearpodes as a salt generator. It is absolutely unanswerable in the Reactive Turn except by defence in depth and making it overspend Orders. The root of this weirdness is the presence of 3 melee Peripheral Pupniks. Always take the 20pt profile with 3 Pupniks – there’s not much better you can ever spend a single point on. This format means the Uberfallfommando unit can take out targets in melee without exposing the Chimera to any risk, the Pupniks go and savage the target while the Chimera hides around a corner. It can even hit dedicated melee fighters, because by activating 2 or more Pupniks in melee with the target, they have to ARO against one, then you can nominate the other to fight. This makes both rolls normal, so usually it means trading a 1pt Pupnik for your target. If you’re out of Pupniks and decide it’s time, the Chimera itself is an apex melee fighter, capable of beating most other units in the game. Just be aware that any melee roll is a risk, so generally players try and use the Pupnik shenanigans first. Having 3 Peripherals has some other advantages too. Pupniks can watch for Impersonators or other markers infiltrating the DZ and declare Discover if needed, albeit on WIP10. Indeed, if your opponent rolls and deploys an Impersonator inside your DZ, and the Uberfallkommando is a reserve drop, you can consider surrounding the marker with 3 Pupniks and just trapping it. In the Active turn, you can use the Uberfall to hunt down enemy markers – even at WIP10 on three of them, it’s a lot of chances to Discover. Pupniks can Dodge on a 19, so they can reliably clear all deployable weapons, and some players even deploy them standing up in the DZ in some situations. If the opponent shoots at them, they’re using Orders to try to clear 1pt Peripherals, and if they activate in LoF and don’t shoot them, well, it’s free 3” Dodge moves.
Just remember that getting into silhouette contact with the enemy is very Order intensive. Most warbands have a template they can default to for easier trading, Pupniks have to actually get into silhouette contact and fight. The Uberfallkommando is very much a finesse piece for the Active player using them. It takes some practice, when you are used to more normal warbands, to wrap your head around how to move the Pupniks around the Chimera. There is a certain amount of judgement in knowing when to only throw the Pupniks into contact, keeping the Chimera safe for further Orders/Turns, and when to actually commit it entirely. The Chimera itself is relatively vulnerable in the Reactive Turn – an Eclipse smoke ARO is nice, but with no Mimetism or ability to gain Partial Cover, it will get beaten by an average B3 shooter most of the time, and Total Immunity doesn’t help much when you’ve only got 1STR. Incidentally, Chimeras are a tempting target for engineer support, but you can’t ever rely too much on it, e.g. by spending multiple Orders to get an Engineer in position to try and revive it. The chance of failing the roll, with no Remote Presence to fall back on, is just too high. This unit is overall the Nomad list’s alternative method (alongside guided missiles) of removing units that are hiding in Total Cover, or are too risky/inefficient to shoot. Savvy opponents will definitely try to target it in their own Active turn just to remove the threat. Finally, remember the Chimera does actually have a combi rifle. It’s no great shakes at using it, but often, when you are deep in the enemy DZ, trying to pick off another support trooper, taking Burst 3 attack at a target up to 16” away, especially if you can get it out of cover, is going to be a valid alternative to approaching to melee.
Bran Do Castro
Not really a recognised staple of meta Nomads lists, Bran do Castro received a significant profile revamp when the Bakunin Sectorial was revised in 2023. He is now good enough that he may move into the top tier of faction units, because as an Infiltration+6 model with melee skills and a shotgun, he fills a similar strategic role to the Uberfallkommando, going after units that are not exposed to direct fire, as an alternative to setting up guided missile strikes. The way he works is very different from the Uberfall. He doesn’t sprint his way across the table behind smoke, he starts near his targets (80% of the time) if you risk the forward infiltration roll. He doesn’t attack hard melee targets, he preys on lighter units. Nevertheless he can be considered a great Active turn attacker, probably included in the list in a different combat group to the TAG or to the Uberfallkommando. Personally, if there’s one unit in the meta roster I could see him replacing it would be the Uberfall – noting he is rather more expensive at 32pts – but the meta hasn’t settled yet.
If Uberfallkommando are the bespoke, high value warband, used to decapitate priority targets or take down enemy melee fighters, Morlocks are the value-for-money, off the peg option. Every faction that can take 6pt Impetuous smoke-throwers does so, and Morlocks are even better than most. They have two great profiles: one gets an E/M CCW, which makes them an existential threat in melee to any unit big or small, and one an Assault Pistol, which makes them superb at dealing with targets who might easily Dodge a chain rifle, at close range. Having a Morlock in the list just gives some free smoke for reaching Objectives (or enabling an Intruder to smoke-shoot) and, especially if it receives a good Metachemistry roll like 8-4 Movement, it gives a disposable attacker who can go and kill most single targets, and doesn’t impact the rest of the list much if it dies.
Moderator Lt & Decoy
The almost universal choice as the Lt in competitive Nomads is a 9pt Moderator, with a decoy Moderator deployed somewhere else on the table. The dynamic duo (not actually a Fireteam Duo) is the best Lt option(s) Nomads really get. You can’t have an ‘obvious Lt’, ie one which a savvy opponent can figure out is definitely that one model on the board. There are too many things – Impersonators, guided missiles, combat jump (explosion) units – that can assassinate such a Lt on Turn 1. Simply having 2 equally likely potential candidates introduces that 50% failure chance to opponents considering such a play. Usually opposing players then redirect their assassination to some other soft target (frequently Jazz, or maybe a Puppetmaster). If they do pick the correct Moderator, or attack both, they are also weirdly resistant to melee attacks, which are a major part of many assassin units’ plan. Not that a Moderator is tough, they still die to templates, but if your opponent commits to covering them in smoke and walking into Silhouette contact, their high CC stat and Para CCW(-6) make them harder to shank.
Fitting the Meta Nomads Build Together
As we stressed in the introduction, none of the unit profiles above are that unique as ingredients in a list. Other factions can get TAGs, including ones that are as good or better than a Szalamandra at shooting dominance. Other factions can get damn good hackers, and repeater coverage including placing repeaters at deployment. Other factions can get hard-to-stop warbands. What competitive Nomads are infamous for is combining these ingredients efficiently into 300pts of finely tuned machine. I nearly described it as delicate, but that’s not quite true. The archetypal Nomad list is pretty capable in defence, particularly against hackable offensive pieces, and particularly against opposing lists that can’t confront their hackers with dangerous hacking of their own (or if the Nomad player, striking first, can remove the enemy hacking threat). But precise attacks or bold enough piece trading can remove elements of the Nomad list and as the synergy is lost the threats do become more manageable.
Playing the List
As with any army, the meta Nomads player should think very carefully about deployment. The Lt and decoy will usually be far back in the DZ in widely separated areas. Other vulnerable models like the Puppetmaster, Jazz, any Engineer and the Vertigo Zond should be tucked safely away and not grouped up too much. You can also use the Vertigo Zond to look across your own table edge if the enemy has access to Parachutist (DZ) threats, if there is a position where it can do this and be sheltered from the enemy table half. It also helps to place the missile bot where it can stand up, look out and either try a cheeky B1 Active shot, or present a long range ARO, in the final turn. Similarly, Jazz (or any hacker) primarily wants to be safe, relying on the Morans and Heckler to access any targets in the enemy table half. But there is some balance in deploying where you can peek out and fire a Pitcher within 16”, or where you can move to a central Objective in the late game, if needed. We’ve described how Moran Masai spread your deployable weapons and hacking area across the midfield. Transductor Zonds or other repeaters like Billie should spread across your DZ, layered with template weapons like Morlocks. Puppetbots and a Reaktion Zond if present should be peering out to slightly longer ranges, not too far, just looking horizontally across the table toward the attack routes into your DZ, or occasionally to cover Objectives. Depending on the likely enemy threats, the TAG can look out to long ranges.
Using a TAG as a delaying ARO, to engage for an Order or two and then get to safety, is a good problem to set up for many opponents. TAGs won’t usually go down in one FtF roll. Their use in ARO depends only partly on a chance of winning the FtF, it’s more about bouncing any ARM/BTS saves you have to make, absorbing a failure in your 3STR, then declining the engagement with your Guts Roll. Incredibly important: This must only be done where the TAG can definitely use Guts Roll movement to retire behind Total Cover, e.g. behind a tall building. If your opponent can find the right firing position, where 2” of movement won’t get your TAG totally out of sight, they can continue to hammer it! Even when you do find a good position to set it as an ARO, remember that certain units are capable of blowing your TAG up entirely in one Order. You don’t want to risk even one FtF roll against things like an enemy TAG with an HRMC (B5 and AP at Dam16), or a Karhu in a Fireteam (B4 and AP+DA at Dam14), and if your opponent can access long ranged E/M weapons like Blitzen, remember that they can Immobilise you on the spot, so not Guts Roll, then you’re in real trouble. If you are in any doubt, if you think your opponent might have access to such a threat, or if you think you will be asking a lot of your TAG later in the game, as it’s unusually critical to your Active turn plans, just don’t do it. Place your TAG with limited, horizontal AROs across the face of your DZ instead. Knowing how far to push this kind of risk, being familiar enough with other armies’ tools to make the judgement, calculating whether you need to take the ARO risk to sufficiently impede your opponent’s plans, are all parts of being a good player.
Offensively, as well as the standard targets – obvious enemy AROs, their best Active turn threats, possible Lts, Specialists who are necessary for the mission – a big priority for this sort of list is to get control of the hacking game early. With tools like Jazz’s Trinity(+1 Dam) fired through a friendly repeater, you can realistically take on almost any hacker in the game in your Active turn. It’s miles better than trying to weather such an offensive in your own turn, when you will lack Burst and probably be facing Firewalls from going via an enemy repeater. If enemy hackers are hardened against this kind of assault, e.g. because they are in a Fireteam with a Tinbot: Firewall, or for whatever reason the hacking FtF looks too risky, or you need Jazz’s Order pool for something else, then you should consider sending in an Uberfallkommando or Morlock to deal with the threat. Only slightly less vital is attacking targets that can threaten your TAG. If you can reach the late game with your TAG alive and the opponent has lost all their AP weapons and hackers, it is a terrific obstacle to them achieving any Objectives. Key to this is never ending an Active turn with your TAG beyond the protection of your hacking area and other soft AROs. Especially if it’s the Szalamandra rather than the Gator, you have to protect it from close assault.
Competitive Nomads lean heavily into the ethos of all Infinity missions being played as attacking the opposing force as the first priority. Scoring points for the mission is something you should plan to achieve as efficiently as possible on the way to killing the enemy, or better yet, if the mission allows it, in Turn 3 once the enemy power has been completely broken. Efficiency is key to enabling this. Yes, concentrate your Orders on killing the enemy, especially in Round 1. But try and get Specialists in positions nearby the Objectives they need to activate before the end of the game; if you can take a WIP roll that you will ‘lock in’ Objective Points for a Mission, en route to your attack, then that’s an Order well spent.
To reward readers who have stuck with my prosy nonsense for this long, we will now actually look at two examples of these lists as a whole picture, as used by the experts:
USA ITS Winner Lobo’s Version
American ITS Winner Lobo has been one of the leading proponents of this archetypal Nomad list, although by no means the only person to have arrived at it independently. As such, all his unit choices are the ones we have discussed individually, but how he has structured them is very interesting. Note the 8/7 Order split, a player has to be very clear and confident in their planned Order usage to make this work. Lobo is a strongly aggressive player who prefers to go first in most Missions whenever possible, and having the Szalamandra in one group and the Uberfallkommando in another lets him push home an alpha strike. The Reaktion Zond gives a limited ARO, more than being a secondary gun, which is a role for the marksman rifle Puppetbot, which again is an alternative group to the Szalamandra. Lobo has planned for the Reaktion Zond being knocked out with a cheap Monstrucker engineer, if it goes Unconscious he can efficiently use the Irregular Order via its Zondbot to revive it; if not the Monstrucker can still usefully try to throw out a mine. Lobo has thought out how to position his soft defence and absorb enemy attacks, while the list is absolutely leaned into as much offensive reach as possible. When playing against this list, my perspective would be that Jazz is the most important/vulnerable target. Lobo has said that in situations where he anticipates a hacking threat he can consider swapping in an Interventor, whose higher BTS is a good protection against Trinity.
Interplanetario Winner Weran’s Version
Interplanetario 2023 Winner Weran used an interesting variation on the most commonly seen meta lists. Note that this was the list used in the final game, Frostbyte against Steel Phalanx, which was very interesting and worth watching in a battle report by his opponent Khavrion here. Weran’s second list in the tournament was specific to Biotechvore, which is a real challenge for non-Sectorial armies, so included a lot of crazy stuff like mass Impetuous troops who could try and clear the danger zone – I don’t believe he used it for any other missions in the event.
He did not use a TAG, his primary and secondary shooters are the Intruder HMG and Armand le Muet. The latter can be used as an ARO piece although during that tournament I don’t believe Weran usually stood him up as an ARO in Round 1. Armand is a really interesting choice, he is durable and Mimetism-6 is a scary prospect for many opponents, but as an active turn shooter, his B2 multi sniper rifle is going to struggle to get work done reliably. In another big divergence from the archetype, the Uberfallkommando is absent, with Fiddler providing a close assault role instead, backed by two disposable Morlocks. Fiddler is more expensive and broadly resilient than the Chimera and with her two Jackbots, actually deadlier (against everything but Bearpodes or certain close combat specialists). In one way she is less forgiving as there’s no Eclipse smoke to enable safe moves, but on the other hand, Jackbots are a massive threat to anything within 8” while Pupniks need to get to Silhouette contact – and Fiddler is a Regular Specialist. I can see how deadly this would be, since Weran can get her into position with Morlocks’ smoke and Jazz’s White Noise if absolutely necessary.
However this is very much a hacking/guided list, with only one Moran Masai but two Hecklers with fast pandas, which are more focussed on using those repeaters in the Active turn. Guided is a primary tool for this list. Note how the Hecklers and hackers are split across both combat groups; this gives the maximum scope for using all the Orders to push through the repeater/Spotlight/missile attack sequence. This is especially important as it will be the first choice for dealing with hard AROs – both the Intruder and Armand would be taking a big risk and not be decisive against armoured targets. Accordingly, Weran has further invested in Zoe as a second hacker, bringing Pi-Well along as a short-ranged gun and mission specialist (remember that he benefited from some great bonus rules under ITS14). This is a really good example of a player who is not at all netlisting or looking at things from a theoretical stance. The double Heckler, going down to 1 Moran, losing the Uberfallkommando and Puppetactica, are all hard choices and presumably grounded in Weran’s experiences during play.
Meta Nomad Weaknesses and Counterplay
For all their efficiency, the key units in the competitive Nomad line-up, except Puppetbots and the TAG, are 1W/1STR. They will die if the opponent can bring something to bear against them in the Active turn. The tactical interplay of the list is using hacking defence, the more disposable models, and the resilience of the Puppetbots and TAG to absorb the enemy attack. If you’re facing competitive Nomads, just understanding these list dynamics helps a lot. Time and again I have seen people put too many Orders into removing my Moran Masai and their crazy koalas in an inefficient way, or spend Orders shooting at Puppetbots, or trying to push a hackable piece forward without doing anything to remove my hackers first. Nomads’ opponents should have a clear list of priorities:
- Kill the hacker(s). Your own pitchers or similar ways to deploy repeaters are the best way to do this, if you can access decent killer hackers. (it’s like the clue is in the name!) Impersonators are also great if you have them, and using those is its own training in how to piece-trade effectively. Any cheap warband can have a try at getting through, but the first use case for those units will be . . .
- Take the Moran Masai out quickly. Attacking into these is a catch-22. You usually have to remove them to gain control of the battlefield. They can be bypassed if you have taken care of all the Nomad hackers, but the more common aim is to attack them directly. The unit you use to get LoF to them close up is going to receive hacking AROs, so obviously you want to use something unhackable and that you don’t mind losing to a guided missile in the next Turn. Cheap Impetuous warbands are the perfect tool. Order efficiency is key here. If you spend too much doing this, you are playing into the Nomads’ hands. Better to be quick, even if it means sacrificing a cheap trooper. At the end of the day, any competent-at-deploying Nomad player is going to get some value out of their Morans, you’re just limiting it. Don’t let them bog you down in decision paralysis. Similarly with koalas, use a unit with a decent Dodge to take the ~65% chance to clear them, and accept the risk of a hit if you fail, don’t waste too many Orders dancing around trying to shoot them from outside 8”, unless there is a clear and easy way to do it.
- Look for any chance to assassinate the Puppetmaster. It’s much quicker than dealing with the bots individually and it takes away an Order from the Nomads.
Aside from those, the methods for fighting Nomads are the same as most Infinity opponents. Dominating ranged shooting is still the primary method, you just need to be aware that competitive Nomads start the game with two great alternative fighting methods: hacking (plus missiles) and warbands. The best way to take out the former is to strike first, and failing that to establish real depth with your important stuff behind cheap, disposable units. The best way to stop warbands is, again, hunting them in your Active, or alternatively, creating depth so that warband attacks spend a prohibitive number of Orders to attack anything valuable.
With that strategy in mind, what tools should you bring against competitive Nomad lists? Good killer hackers are going to make things much easier. At the same time, they will be very vulnerable if they can’t deploy in a marker state (or Hidden/Airborne deploy) and they will find it much easier to strike first if you have pitchers – although Stealth and a marker state can still do the job. Hard stop AROs are going to be of limited value while the Nomad TAG is still alive. But AP shooters, such as a TAG of your own, will be very useful just by offering a long range threat to their TAG.
That’s it for our discussion of how Nomads are most commonly (or infamously) fielded in competitive play. In a game as varied as Infinity, there is clearly a lot of scope to modify that for the Mission set or just to wrong-foot your opponents. Additionally, as I am always banging on about, the margin between the top profiles and their neglected competitors is often quite thin. There is nothing stopping you, especially if you are not playing to win a large tournament, from trying out some alternatives to what the Internet has told you is the winning formula. There are some frankly excellent units which don’t feature in the meta Nomads list, often they are every bit as good in a vacuum, but just aren’t as necessary to its synergy. So that will be what we’re looking at next time: what other Nomad units you can take to fill all the necessary roles in an Infinity list.
Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.