September ITS

Infinity

Yesterday I was able to hit up the monthly Infinity tournament at Redcap’s for the first time in a while. Our group is in a rebuilding phase following a lot of growth in 2017 and a dip in 2018, so I was happy to see a showing of 8 players that was simultaneously small but solid (below our late 2017 average, bit higher than 2018). Don handled scoring & pairing and it was a low key, fun day.

For me it was another datapoint toward my half-serious suspicion that I have a narrow band in which I play Infinity best, because… I won! That band is basically “Have played enough recently to remember core rules and dynamics, but am not playing enough to try to get tricksy.” Some of our group’s heaviest hitters weren’t in attendance, but I directly faced two of our top tier players and was happy with my play. This batrep has some quick notes on what I was thinking.

Shock Army

Shock Army of AcontecimentoComing back after a bit of a hiatus, I decided to build and field a squad from the Shock Army of Acontecimento. I’ve played RECON+ firefights with the faction but had never previously prepared enough troops for full games. I really really like a lot of the models though, so I just committed to using this event as a forcing function to get together a 300pt army. Entertainingly, literally as I was sitting down to paint a bunch of the models, Adam H sends Don & I a message “Did you see that Shock Army got discontinued?” and I was like “¡¿WUT?!” (Corvus Belli is rotating a number of the models out of production, but the faction will remain playable)

I then decided to orient my army around Bagh Maris, mostly because I love the most recent sculpts. It also didn’t hurt, though not a huge consideration either, that the Season 10 ITS rules gave the unit Forward Deployment. I’d had a box sitting on my shelf for ~18 months now, and I had picked up the HMG blister at an event two weeks ago just to support that shop (Maplewood Hobbies). So I guess on average the turnaround time from box-to-table for these models was… almost reasonable??

Looking at the recent faction updates I also decided to add Dart just because the profile grabbed me and I had a cool model for it. I’ve never played with Camo except for mostly trivial uses of TO Camo (pop out from hiding and tap an objective or surprise shot something) and she seemed like fun. Last week I’d noticed the new CSU blister at Redcap’s, had randomly picked it up just because it looked cool, and it clicked that it could be a passable Dart proxy: S2 profile, Uzi-style pistol for a Submachine Gun, funky shotgun-thing to stand in as a Viral Tactical Bow. Personally I really like the image of this Corporate Security character playing with Dart’s very mobile abilities—she’s so skilled, so tough, so cool under fire, that she’s out there sneaking around (Camo), climbing walls (Climbing+), and tanking hits (No Wound Incapacitation), all in her business suit. It’s the James Bond firefight aesthetic, which I really enjoy.

So I got to work. Wednesday evening I assembled the models, Thursday I got in a practice game to have played the units at least once, overnight Saturday I painted them, Sunday they were the core of winning three games—I actually couldn’t even put them in my cases to drive down to the shop because the final washes were still drying.

Bagh Maris and CSU-Dart freshly out of the cloning vats or whatever.

Missions

The three missions for the event were Acquisition, Supremacy, and Unmasking. I’m not a big fan of ITS missions generally (many are a bit overly complicated, the Classified Deck has issues with balance and negative play, and the writeups are unnecessarily confusing and poorly presented). These were enjoyable though. For my intended primary units they worked well in that they each require some specialists to work objectives and there’s a lot of mid-field play. Bagh Maris, for example, are suited to those because they have Paramedic and Hacker specialists, a good selection of ranged and close quarters weapons, and at least in this season have Forward Deployment.

Importantly in hindsight, the morning of the event I sat down and wrote a quick summary of the missions. My primary motivation was to share with the group and help keep things moving and people informed. But that also meant I’d closely read all of the scoring conditions and had better familiarity with the missions than I usually have.

Lists

In thinking about army lists I applied a standard top level rubric of mine:

  1. Keep it simple—one or two tricks;
  2. Need some redundancy but can’t spend on too many heavy hitters;
  3. Pick cool models.

I also constrained myself to only painted models, with the Bagh Maris and Dart being all the new models I could stretch to realistically get done before the event. Those added to the Akal Commandos, Regulars (and Fusiliers if needed), Montesa Knight, and variety of Pan-O bots that I had on hand ready-to-go.

In the end I chose two lists:

Bagh Mari Runaround list for Acquisition and Unmasking.

Akal Commando Drop for Supremacy.

As with the overall army direction, some of these selections are just about cool models. Why a Regular Sapper Sniper over a Bagh Mari Sniper? On our group’s tables Sapper on the Regular is a wash with Mimetism on the Bagh Mari, the latter can likely deploy in cover. The Regular is 6pts cheaper, but not as well equipped (weaker armor, no MSV1, mines, etc.). Ultimately I just wanted to play the Sapper. They’re both really cool models, but the former I’ve had painted for a while but never used because it doesn’t make sense on the small tables of RECON+, so she got her chance.

But, I did put some thought into these selections.

Bagh Mari Runaround

The core idea in the Bagh Mari Runaround list is a big ‘ole 5-man fireteam with a bunch of tools to roll forward onto objectives while Dart and the Naga provide mid-field surprises and the Sierra & Sapper long range reactive coverage from my backfield.

The “one or two tricks” is the 5-man team along with Dart & the Naga. I have very very rarely played a full fireteam like that, so managing it and using it effectively was going to be a challenge. Camo games are also not something I have much experience with so I was worried about using the latter two well. The Naga was a late addition that I’d also never used before but happened to have a painted one from a trade some time ago. I figured it might synergize well with Dart, and at minimum could play a lot like my beloved TO Camo Order Sergeants in my Military Orders lists: A specialist that can be deployed close to the objectives and not have to spend orders running upfield. Between the big team and the Camo, that was about all the complication I wanted.

For heavy hitting I thought a lot about including a Montesa Knight in this list. I absolutely love the starter box model and it’s been the core of my RECON+ Shock Army lists (deploying forward with a Spitfire, a Lieutenant order, and good armor can be very strong on those tables). But I couldn’t justify it here because of the investment in the Bagh Mari fireteam. That was going to be my primary driver, consume most of my orders, and need as many of those as I could get. I would also already have two HMGs on the table, plus a Sniper. So, following my second guide of not having too many heavy hitters, the Montesa Knight sat out. I was also thinking the Montesa Knight would be too far backfield to step in if the team got wiped, but on second thought with its Mechanized Deployment that’s not true so I’ll think about it again in the future.

Bagh Mari Hacker works on an antenna while his fireteam defends their position.

Akal Commando Drop

The core idea and “one or two tricks” in the Akal Commando Drop list is having a bunch of Akalis to drop into the enemy sectors for domination points, while the Haris option on the Bagh Maris lets me have two fireteams to efficiently advance onto objectives.

Notably, the Akalis are all organized into one combat group so I can put coordinated orders on them right away. The cute idea here is ideally I’d bring all four onto the board, take just a couple actions, and then use coordinated orders to move them all into safe positions and Suppressive Fire to rack up points in the domination sectors. This is really risky, effectively starting very low on orders with at best just six on the table in the primary combat group at game start. But I play a lot of AD-heavy lists and single combat groups all the time with my Military Orders, so I felt comfortable with it.

Fight!

My two lists and (very) freshly painted models in hand, I headed into the tournament.

Round 1: Acquisition

First up I faced Wayne and his Nomads, trying to hack Antennas and be in base-to-base with a Tech-Coffin on the centerline in Acquisition.

Acquisition table configuration.

Wayne brought a very small list focused around a Gecko and a fireteam with multiple HMGs. He went first and made a solid firebase with the Gecko in a central position overlooking the Tech-Coffin while the HMGs provided overwatch. I lost my Sierra TR turret and Regular Sniper very early in a string of unlucky rolls. The Bagh Mari team got into a good position covering an Antenna and the Tech-Coffin, and the HMG had a sustained fight with the opposing team. Eventually though something was able to sneak around the building they’d camped out on and take him down with a Chain Rifle. I also played my Commandos poorly, a little too aggressively and a lot too carelessly. I didn’t check line of sight well enough and one got pipped right away on landing. The other held on, took out a model, and absorbed some orders, but wasn’t well spent. Dart spent a lot of orders on a very lucky specialist on the other Antenna, but eventually was able to clear the latter and then break the HMG team.

Outcome: Major victory.

The big success here was to not stress about losing my heavy shooters early. I took a moment to settle, then focused on line of sight and Careful Moves around terrain and onto the objectives without the benefit of big covering fire. Importantly, I didn’t try to press an attack or maximize my quantity of AROs. I mostly held to my table half, kept my models alive, and did just enough to continually trim down Wayne’s orders and keep his advancing units off the objectives but not actively go forward to further engage his army or lean my guys out to get whittled down.

Sapper waits for action.

Round 2: Supremacy

Next up was Tom and his Nomads, trying to hack Consoles and dominate (have more army points in) quadrant sectors in Supremacy. I think of Tom as my benchmark player: We’ve been closely matched for a little while now, but he has much deeper experience with the game. So if I play very well I might beat him, but it’s always a real tough battle and we’ve been going back and forth 50/50 on wins, which is great.

Supremacy table configuration.

At the start of this battle I realized “Oh snap, I did not practice this at all and have not thought this through!” My list had no good model with which to sync the mission’s Xenotech (i.e., without breaking a fireteam). Ironically I had made comments about that problem for my typical Military Orders lists when Season 10 came out, but just didn’t think about this mission too much coming in. Sooo my Xenotech wound up synced to my Sniper in their Foxhole, which audibly confused Tom when I declared it. I carefully maintained a stoic visage of grand strategery…

On the one hand I made some dumb moves throughout this game. The Bagh Maris could have trivially deployed much closer to an objective and saved an order. I spent the last order in my primary combat group Turn 1 to put my Akalis into Suppressive Fire, kept one out because I didn’t want to activate it in sight of a TR bot, only to then realize my Sniper actually had a shot on that bot and took it down, so by not staging orders properly I had blown what could have been a very strong position for that Commando. Very late in the game I could have positioned Dart better to cover the approach to an objective. Lots of little but important missteps like these.

On the other hand, that I was picking up on those inefficiencies was a good sign that I was generally on my game. As planned, early on the Akalis took the battle forward and acted as speed bumps, so we were fighting over Tom’s sectors rather than mine. That created space for my fireteams to run up into my quadrants and claim the Console objectives. Dart shored up the center, and the fireteam of Regulars came forward on the side and denied Tom’s last minute attempts to claim a second objective.

Bagh Maris sweep and clear a laboratory.

The Xenotech syncing turned out… weird. It actually wasn’t terrible to be synced to the Sniper—the Sniper did its thing, then moved forward enough to get the Xenotech just short of placing the Multiscanner but inside a quadrant. The Sniper died but an Akal re-synced the Xenotech, only for the latter to fail dropping the Multiscanner and the Commando to get shot down. Upshot was for three turns I had the Xenotech in a dominated quadrant but not synced and the rules-as-written seem to clash with plausible intent as to whether or not that met one of the scoring conditions. After a good amount of discussion and searching books & Google among Don, Tom, and I—the rules debate we prompted is still going in the WGC Infinity Facebook group—we went with the former. That put the game in my favor, from a 1 point loss to a 2 point victory.

Outcome: Minor victory.

I had two big successes here. One was taking the fight up into Tom’s sectors and putting him squarely on the defensive. The other was that I had strength in depth on the center and a supporting flank. So, for example, a Taskmaster started coming forward but got held in check by a series of speed bumps—two Akalis, another Akalis Hacker, Dart, a Spitfire Regular—and eventually put down, yielding its sector.

Regulars take a breather advancing on the right flank.

Round 3: Unmasking

Last up was Don and his new OSS trying to hack Consoles while identifying and eliminating a Designated Target hidden among several decoy civilians in Unmasking. Don and I have been playing games for 15 years now, ever since he was the first one to stand up and say hi when my friend Daryl & I walked into our first PAGE meeting. So I was really happy when he started playing Infinity… and then dismayed when he started practicing a lot and got good at it! (kidding) (about getting good at it! oh, snap!)

Table configuration for Unmasking.

The terrain and limited independent units in my army composition kind of forced my deployment to be concentrated to one side, leaving the left-most civilian looking entirely unprotected. Don teased me about it, that I better not be taking a wild flyer making that the Designated Target hoping he would assume it couldn’t possibly be. I thought about it! But I also knew that I had Commandos waiting to drop in on that side if necessary. However, I went for a conservative option and chose my centrally placed civilian. I figured Don would have to hedge his bets by moving toward my heavily defended civilian, but if my defenses failed I didn’t want my Designated Target to be at the point of that thrust. Those defenses were also mostly applicable to the center one.

A bigger risk was that the Bagh Mari team all camped out behind a barricade on the flank, absolutely ripe to be surprised by some kind of Airborne troop or a Smoke warband running up to template them. But there wasn’t much cover on the available buildings, I wanted to be upfield a bit, and from that position they’d have a good angle on one of the two main approaches, so I very hesitantly went for it.

That was ultimately a critical decision. Backed up by the 5-man team (so +3 BS, +1 B) and its MSV1, the Bagh Mari HMG eventually won a gunfight with an advancing team and took a ton of energy out of Don’s forward advance. The Naga worked terrain angles to run up to the center Console and find Don’s Designated Target, then settled into a good position to defend mine. Dart came up and Spiderwomanned into her own excellent defensive position on the other Console. Going into Turn 2 Don was in Loss of Lieutenant and my forces in really strong defensive positions covering all the major arteries. I didn’t lose much and then was able to swarm forward to take out his Designated Target and move the action decidedly onto his side of the table.

Bagh Mari team overwatching a firelane, waiting for the OSS to come.

Outcome: Major victory.

A big success here was actually meta-game, the physiology of tournament play. The game with Tom was tough and I’d just barely held on mentally, let alone in the score. It was getting late in the day, hadn’t slept much, getting hungry, etc.. So at the top of this round I had to drink some water, spend a quiet moment refocusing, and explicitly think toward pushing on to win rather than relaxing and settling for second or third.

Game-wise, my big success here was deployment. We’d actually joked during it that “This is the whole game, right here, we’re just gonna set up models and then think about it, decide who would win.” That turned out true to a large extent. I had a good mental map on all the different angles across the board and all my units either in strong positions or able to get into them. Importantly, my first turn I didn’t worry about killing or even too much claiming objectives. I spent all my orders just getting troops ready to rebuff Don’s next turn and then go forward in mine, and it worked out.

Conclusion

With two major victories and a minor, I came out ahead on tournament points and objective points. Winning is obviously good, but I was happy just to play well. I hadn’t actually played Infinity between mid-April and mid-September, and it was nice to get back into the groove fairly quickly and do well against a couple tough opponents in good games with friends. Looking forward to playing more!

Dart defends a critical position at all cost.

NeX-1119: Construction

Recently I finished construction of my next miniatures terrain board: NeX-1119, a secretive high-energy research facility. I’d built much of this last summer, and a few people have actually played games with some of the pieces. But the collection has lain unfinished on my shelves until I could figure out what game I was making it for and how to complete it. Now it’s all built!

NeX-1119, a secretive high-energy research facility.

In the end the board is oriented toward Infinity miniatures, but should work for other games as well. The big difference versus 40k, my other main game (along with X-Wing), is that there isn’t really any area terrain. If I’d focused it on 40k I would have mounted the smaller components on hardwood bases to create intuitive area terrain, much like many of the buildings in my Medea Refinery. It would probably also need fewer pieces. That said, there’s enough large line-of-sight blockers here that I think it’ll also work for 40k. It’ll just play differently than more typical ruins+forests+LOS boards.

At the same time, these pieces will also foster somewhat different Infinity dynamics than more typical MDF terrain. Much like my Derelict Depot, there aren’t many parapets and railings, so there’s limited ability to move on the top of the structures under partial cover. Instead you need to hop across gaps between generators, radar dishes, and so on to stay covered.

Front oblique overview.

I was mindful while working to line everything up and ensure I covered at least 4 square feet, 25% of a standard 4×4 Infinity board. That’s the default density my group has largely aimed for, though recently we’ve shifted to more like 20%. In the end I built a good bit more than that, so this collection might be able to provide for two somewhat less dense tables. Certainly it can provide for multiple 2×3 RECON+ boards.

Rear oblique overview.

Building Modules

Much of the collection are simple constructions of electrical boxes combined with 3D printed parts for detail. Here and there some other parts crept in, like hatches from a Rhino. With the exception of a tower shown below, all of the 3D printed parts used here were designed and printed by me. Some are available on my Thingiverse profile.

These buildings have very different dynamics from typical Infinity MDF buildings in that they have much less roof area to run around on. But I think they work great as sci-fi, space-colony-module looking pieces. Several different sizes and types of electrical boxes are used, and many different kinds of bits, to create a pleasantly varied look.

Half-size module.

Full size module.

Comms center.

A few simple scratchbuilt ladders and walkways add some vertical dimensionality, making it easier to access and move between the roofs. To further vary the overall look and heights, a large block is included on which some configuration of buildings can be placed, making them noticeably taller than the others. This also functions as a LOS blocker that covers substantial area/angles, but only for shorter figures.

Half modules with integral balconies, raised on a large block, and connected by a walkway.

Twinned small modules, connected by a walkway with a ladder at one end.

Walkway construction.

Major Buildings

A few simple pieces scratchbuilt from packaging foam provide larger LOS blockers. These are not especially detailed, but have interesting enough shapes that a quick paintjob should bring them to life and look good in play. Notably, all their sides include built-in cavities or protrusions large enough for figures to tuck behind for partial cover. This reduces the amount of scatter terrain needed for the table as it’s not needed to create positions for models to leapfrog between in advancing along the longer walls.

Major LOS blocker.

Landing pad.

Towers

Rounding out the buildings are several distinct towers. One is made from a laundry detergent can with a foam base and some tape wrapping to break up the shape, and an optional long ladder to reach the top. It provides the tallest location on the board. An interesting feature though is that, provided you put no scatter terrain on top, I don’t think it’s an automatic choice as a sniper location for Infinity. There’s just enough lip at the edge that a prone model won’t see anything, but nor will it get any cover if it stands to shoot. So there’s some built-in balance to its commanding height.

Compute tower.

The other towers provide more straightforward sniper positions with partial cover, but in return are much lower. One is made from 3D printed parts custom designed to fit a canister of Gatorade powder. The other is a fully-printed piece that my friend Adam designed to fit some of my Kolony buildings. He left it behind at the shop one day and I figure he can always print more, so I’ve absorbed it into this collection.

Liquids tower.

Gases tower.

Scatter

The last portion of the collection is a bunch of scatter terrain. There’s of course a small pile of the containers and chests in my Deployable Cargo set. New are some vaguely sci-fi looking pylons made by 3D-printing details and bases to fit a commonly used style of drink mix tablet packaging. Here I’ve used Nuun sports drink, but Airborne vitamins and other companies are also sold in this style canister. These should be interesting in that they provide good partial cover even for larger figures, and if you work the angles carefully you can move around a bit in total cover. But it’ll also be easy for an opposing figure to get an angle through the pylons to take a shot at your troops.

Energy pylons.

Painting

Despite the long gap in the middle, the actual work time for this build was fairly short. My collection of 3D-printable bits work well with these electrical boxes, and some quick scratchbuilding filled out the set. Next up is a (hopefully) quick paintjob to complete the NeX-1119 research station. I’m not sure yet what direction I’ll take that, but probably cleaner and more high-tech looking than many of my previous projects.

Cube Jägers and Battlefield Tasks

For this tournament season Corvus Belli has added a new mercenary unit to all the vanilla Infinity factions: Cube Jägers. I’m super interested in Airborne Deployment troops and the Jäger is the most 40k thing in Infinity right now (it’s essentially an Apothecary, running around harvesting geneseed—I mean, cubes—from dead troopers). So when a discussion about it came up in our local group my comments got long and I’m posting them here. Along the way I hope this post introduces useful general ideas for newer players toward evaluating troops (not that I consider myself especially experienced at Infinity). Comments, questions, and corrections are welcome!

Model

One quick real life sidenote is that I’m not excited about models exclusive to winner’s kits. I really liked the Scarface Turner model last season and being able to buy it would have tipped me over into picking up his TAG, which I was seriously considering for a while. At least in the Jäger’s case there are plenty of very similar proxies to choose from (Scarface had a lot of unique personality) and I like the model but aren’t super captivated by it (I think the green Tohaa “hair” on the demo model is putting me off).

Profile

More important: Gameplay, starting with availability. Unlike Scarface in the previous season, the Jäger wasn’t added to any of the sectorials (as far as I can see spot checking). So whether it’s a useful troop or not depends in the first place on whether or not you’re playing a vanilla faction. Otherwise it’s not even an option. The Jäger also only has an AVA of 1, so beyond that you’re back to your usual choices.

Assuming it’s available, next up is the troop’s profile and options.

First thing to note is that, fairly unsurprisingly for a mercenary, the Jäger is Irregular. That’s a big tradeoff, but less punitive than on a typical trooper because it only matters for at most 2 turns under Airborne Deployment. If you’re bringing a Jäger you’re also probably doing so to achieve a specific active task, so presumably it has something to do each turn and being Irregular isn’t a big limitation. That’s different from, say, a Crusader or Akalis airborne troop that I might bring mostly to drop in and cover a forward area with Suppressive Fire while their Regular order is used elsewhere.

Second is that the relative utility of Airborne Infiltration versus the higher levels of AD, most commonly Combat Jump, depends a lot on the size and density of the boards you play on. The local tournaments I play in tend to have very very dense boards. Every other month they are also RECON+ events on 2×3 tables. Pickup play naturally goes similarly. In the overwhelming majority of my games therefore there are limited viable options to drop in versus walking on. So for me, having Airborne Infiltration isn’t hardly different in practice from having Combat Jump. In other scenes that won’t be the case.

Third, the Monofilament Close Combat Weapon I see as at best a small bonus for hunting TAGs and Heavy Infantry rather than a primary feature of the Jäger. On this troop it doesn’t seem that scary. The Jäger has no Smoke to shield an advance toward close combat and that could be tough for squadmates to provide given it’s likely arriving forward on the battlefield—if it’s easy to get the smoke up there, you probably have better forward CC options anyway. Further, most of the units for which I find Monofilament terrifying (TAGs, Father Knights, etc.) have the edge against the Jäger in CC even if it manages to Stealth in without getting shot. We do have to allow somewhat that CC without genuinely superior skills is very unpredictable due to the low number (B) of D20 rolls. The Jäger could win these matchups; but you can’t count on it. So the limited value I see for the Jäger’s Monofilament CCW is to quickly kill TAGs and HIs that have been Immobilized with the E/Mitter, the latter being the real threat because at that point they’re mission killed anyway. The Jäger would be more efficient without the Monofilament CCW and presumably thus lower points or SWC.

Battlefield Tasks

Beyond that, given its abilities, equipment, and cost, the Jäger isn’t a general purpose troop to bring without a specific role, in which terms it should then be evaluated. I see five primary battlefield tasks for the Jäger:

  • Doctoring: A paramedic coming in up the battlefield could resuscitate your prime mover without having to spend orders following behind them or getting there.
  • Suppression: Walking on with an SMG to cover a forward area with Suppressive Fire and deny the enemy easy movement in that space could be useful.
  • Trooper Hunting: Appearing on the side edges with a Boarding Shotgun can be a fun way to hit advancing troops from their rear and either stop or divert their forward thrust, or to go after backfield cheerleaders.
  • TAG/HI Hunting: Coming in behind advancing Heavy Infantry or especially TAGs, because they’re more likely to be visible, and tagging them with an E/Mitter can really neuter your opponent’s main weapons.
  • Button Pushing: A Specialist with Airborne Infiltration can be real handy to tap objectives, especially on RECON+ boards or missions with many objectives where they will be easier to reach from the sides.

That might seem like a lot, but there are many other roles in the game. Most obviously, between its abilities, weapons, and BS, the Jäger is not, for example, well suited to provide any kind of relatively static mid-to-long range fire support. The Jäger’s ability to arrive late & either forward or somewhat flexibly where you need it also puts it in a different class of these roles: It’s not just Suppression, it’s Airborne Suppression.

First up is simply thinking about how viable these roles might be for the Jäger in general, setting aside for now whether it’s the best option.

Doctoring

Airborne Doctoring sounds real neat but I think is easily dispensed with in any general discussion so this post won’t talk about it more. For that to make sense you would need to have a specific plan and very expensive key trooper to support. There are very low odds it’ll pan out—that critical trooper needs to not be outright killed, in a position readily reached from the sides, and pass a PH-3 roll. Airborne Engineering would be much more useful, because a TAG is generally much more valuable and it’s much less likely to be outright removed from the game. I would, for example, be very interested in such an Engineer to support my Seraph, because a regular Engineer can’t keep up with it 6-4 Super-Jumping up the board and even a Palbot would require spending orders to follow along with the TAG or run up to it once downed.

Suppression

Certainly seems that tucking into cover with an SMG in Suppressive Fire with a lot of flexibility to do so around the board as necessary is a useful ability.

Trooper Hunting

Being able to exploit weak points and uncovered angles to rob the enemy of Orders and weapons is also definitely a useful thing to do.

A quick follow-on then is that if we’re specifically tailoring the Jäger to hunt troopers via Airborne Infiltration to get into close range and confident we can do so, then the Boarding Shotgun is indeed the weapon to take. For example, face-to-face against an Alguacile in cover at ≤ 8″, the Jäger SMG has a 40% chance of killing its opponent, with a 22% chance of the Jäger itself being killed. With the Boarding Shotgun though the odds improve to a 49% chance of killing the Alguacile and a 20% chance of the Jäger itself being killed. Roughly similar matchups in this tactic, such as the Alguacile being out of cover or in Suppressive Fire or fighting a Medium Infantry target instead, continue to favor the Boarding Shotgun. However, if we won’t be able to get into 8″, the SMG becomes dominant via its extra die, though generally by a somewhat slim margin.

TAG/HI Hunting

It’s also worth thinking generally about the TAG/HI Hunting role to make sure it’s viable at all, because that’s not obvious. This is really about the Jäger’s SMG+E/Mitter profile:

  • SMG can do 3 shots at DAM 13 with AP, cutting ARM in half.
  • E/Mitter can do 1 shot at DAM 13 with E/M2, which forces two rolls on half BTS, failing either of which causes the target to become Isolated and TAGs/HIs/REMs to become Immobilized-2 as well.

Some newcomers miss this due to the name, but Immobilized prevents attacks as well as movement. That’s likely a mission kill, most times it’s not going to do anything else that game. So the E/Mitter can possibly one-shot a TAG, but how likely is that?

Let’s assume the TAG has ARM 7 and BTS 6, which most of them do. If you manage to use the Jäger’s Airborne Infiltration and Stealth to get around behind a TAG, you could:

Those are of course best case scenarios, and the likelihood of getting into that position highly subjective. If the cliche that TAGs never leave their deployment zone bears out, it’s going to be difficult. Playing any of the several ITS missions that heavily encourage TAGs to move forward, you should have a better chance. For me, frequently fielding a Seraph whose whole deal is to advance hard forward, I’m pretty scared of this attack.

The odds are also not impossible even in worse situations. Most TAGs have BS 14 and an HMG. Say your only chance is to go at one head-on. Within 16″ and the TAG not in Suppressive Fire, there’s a 34% chance the Jäger takes it down with the E/Mitter, 34% chance the Jäger goes down, and 32% of nothing happening. Of course it goes downhill from there, but that’s a better matchup than I would have guessed.

All told, whether or not it’s the best approach or if it’ll even work are huge questions. But it’s at least not ridiculous on its face to send the 18pt Jäger TAG/HI Hunting.

Pretty scared right now, actually.

Button Pushing

Finally, it seems completely reasonable to assume that a ~20pt AD Specialist might be pretty useful and efficient to send after objectives.

Given that the Jäger might be applicable to at least the latter four of these battlefield tasks, we can start comparing to other unit options available, evaluating from the perspectives of each because effectiveness and relative cost varies per role.

Tomcats

One of the most immediate comparisons for the Jäger is to Nomads Tomcats, which are also Airborne Infiltration with Specialist options and similar cost.

I don’t play Nomads, but I don’t think you’d take the Jäger over a Tomcat unless you really really didn’t have the points. Across the profiles, a few extra army points and equal or less SWC buys you:

  • Regular instead of Irregular—it’ll only matter on 2 turns, but this is still significant
  • Climbing Plus—super useful for arriving in total cover & getting where you need to
  • Combi-Rifle for long range & Suppressive Fire
  • Light Flamethrower for short range & Intuitive Attacks
  • Extra point of BS
  • Extra point of PH
  • Doctor over Paramedic—WIP 13 vs. target PH-3, opportunity to reroll on Cubes
  • Alternately, Engineer+D-Charges—an auto-win for the Sabotage Classified
  • A Cube

In contrast the Jäger has:

  • Monofilament CC Weapon
  • +3 BTS
  • +1 CC
  • Shock Immunity
  • Stealth

I think the Tomcat’s abilities are well worth that short list plus a few points. A Combi-Rifle alone is valued at a point over a Boarding Shotgun (see, e.g., Crusader Brethren and Akalis Commandos options for fairly direct AD troop comparisons), covering the difference between that Jäger profile and a Specialist Tomcat. Regular and Climbing Plus are probably each worth a couple points, and +1 BS another.

Evaluating in terms of the Jäger’s primary battlefield tasks we then get:

  • Suppression: Generating a Regular order combined with +1 BS, other abilities, and greater utility of the Combi-Rifle for +1pt tips this role toward the Tomcat.
  • Trooper Hunting: At close range the Tomcat with a Combi-Rifle would do 3 shots on 15s while the Boarding Shotgun Jäger does 2 shots on 17s. Against a BS11 Alguacile with a Combi-Rifle in cover, the Jäger Boarding Shotgun would hit & win 49% of the time while the Tomcat Combi-Rifle would only win 43% of the time. However, if the Alguacile is not in cover, the Tomcat would hit & win 62% of the time while the Jäger would hit & win 60% of the time. Further, at ≤ 16″, even with the Alguacile in cover, the Tomcat Combi-Rifle leaps out ahead: 43% win versus just 27% win for the Jäger, and that pattern continues for not in cover and other situations. The Tomcat Combi-Rifle would also of course dominate the Jäger SMG due to the range bands and higher BS, except against less common targets where the AP or Shock ammo on the latter really matter. So, this role could be swung by a small set of specific expected situations, but considering the Combi-Rifle’s wider applicability and that it alone usually costs 1pt more, combined with the Tomcat’s other advantages, for +1pt I’d say this role goes to the Tomcat.
  • TAG/HI Hunting: Tomcat also has an E/Mitter option at just 2pts more, as well as a D.E.P. option at just +1pt (AP+Explosive though Disposable 1), so with its better stats and other abilities this role as well seems to tip toward the Tomcat.
  • Button Pushing: Climbing Plus is very very helpful toward getting to objectives after walking on hidden, so I think that plus better stats for just +4pts tip this role as well toward the Tomcat.

So unless I’m mistaken or misjudging, there’s no reason for Nomads players to take a Jäger unless they’re desperate for a couple points. The very similar Tomcat is better at each of the Jäger’s battlefield tasks and costs only slightly more.

Parachutists

Haqqislam and Ariadna also have very similar units among their Parachutists, and I wouldn’t consider them dominant (better in all roles) as I would the Nomads’ Tomcat.

Haqqislam

For Haqqislam, Bashi Bazouks are very similar to the Jäger but cheaper.

Notably, Bashi Bazouks are also Irregular. The two have similar stat lines, with the Jäger at +1 WIP and +3 BTS in trade for the Bashi Bazouk’s +1 CC and +1 ARM. However, the latter’s Holoprojector L2 is a very useful piece of equipment, even in using their AD ability (which would normally make L1 much less useful), as the Holoechoes provide substantial protection for the unit. The Bashi Bazouks are also a little to much cheaper across the board. Evaluating by the four battlefield tasks though:

  • Suppression: Bashi Bazouk is better as it’s cheaper (in some cases much cheaper), has Holoechoes and better ARM, and selecting a deployment location in advance doesn’t hinder this role as much.
  • Trooper Hunting: Many will debate this hotly in favor of the Haqq troop, but I think there’s some competition between these units for this role. The Boarding Shotgun Bashi Bazouk is a big 6pts and 0.5 SWC cheaper, and has Holoechoes. But for this role it’s just so useful to not have to commit to a deployment segment in advance that I would consider, but not necessarily choose, the Jäger.
  • TAG/HI Hunting: Somewhat surprisingly, this is a close call, I think leaning toward the Jäger. The two unit’s SMGs of course have the same effectiveness, so with the Bashi Bazouk’s considerably lower cost that’s a question of how effective that weapon might be in this role. Comparing the Jäger E/Mitter to the Bashi Bazouk’s AP Rifle though, at their shared best situation, from the back at ≤ 16″ so good range and no ARO, the E/Mitter has a 54% chance to disable a typical TAG, while the AP Rifle has a 72% chance of doing at least one wound, 27% of doing 2+, and 4% chance of 3+ wounds. To a large extent these are doing different things, going for a lower probability (but likely) quick kill versus a more reliable whittling down. So comparisons from there get complex: Airborne Infiltration versus cheaper Parachutist with Holoechoes? How long will you actually live to whittle down a TAG? The Jäger of course also has both SMG and E/Mitter. At minimum I would say there are reasons to at least consider the Jäger for this role. I personally am probably slightly more inclined to try for the one-shot kills.
  • Button Pushing: This task of course goes to the Jäger as the Bashi Bazouks have no Specialist options.

It doesn’t seem to be the case that Bashi Bazouks are a strictly better choice than the Jäger across all roles. Indeed, at the very least there are reasons to consider the Jäger for Trooper Hunting, and very much so for TAG/HI Hunting. The Jäger in turn also isn’t obviously better or as efficient, but it’s at least competitive enough to be a plausible alternative selection. And of course there’s relative utility in the Jäger as a flexibly forward deploying Specialist, which Bashi Bazouks simply can’t do.

Ariadna

Ariadna also has very similar troops in its Para-Commandos and Airborne Rangers.

The relative utility of these to the Jäger are close calls, in large part because of their inferior AD level requiring you to choose their arrival segment during deployment. A big counterpoint to that though is the Jäger being Irregular while these are Regular. Which is better among these units I think varies by battlefield task:

  • Suppression: This is tight, but I would give it to the Para-Commando at 20pts and no SWC. In this role you can often plan in advance where to AD the unit, so parachuting isn’t a huge disadvantage. The other two units have a better gun for Suppressive Fire, which equalizes the range bands between the Rifle and SMG but keeps the latter’s AP or Shock modes. However, the Para-Commando’s Mimetism will help it win firefights. It will also provide a Regular order while it sits there.
  • Trooper Hunting: This goes to the Jäger. The extra point of BS on the other two is maybe worth the couple extra points, and the Para-Commando’s Mimetism is a big plus. But being able to choose where to walk on based on the current game situation is such a huge advantage in assassinating something. Being Irregular also isn’t a huge disadvantage for this role because it’s frequently sacrificial.
  • TAG/HI Hunting: The Jäger is a cheaper SMG than the Ranger, but otherwise these units go at this role in totally different ways. At minimum there’s space to consider the cheap E/Mitter approach of the Jäger versus the Ranger’s Molotok or Para-Commando’s HMG, especially given its higher AD level.
  • Button Pushing: This is a toss-up which I would maybe give to the Para-Commando. Flexibility to arrive on the battlefield wherever is best is important, but if you’re running at an objective you can also do a lot of advance planning. So the Para-Commando’s Mimetism and higher WIP probably edge out its inferior AD.

Spetsnazs also have Parachutist profiles, but at considerably more cost (starting at 31pts) and no Specialists. Ariadna also has a variety of units with Infiltration at similar cost that provide strong competition for the Jäger in these roles. I would guess though that at minimum it might still have a place in the two Hunting roles, because it’s just so useful in those to be able to deploy precisely where needed to best hit a juicy target.

Akal Commandos

For PanOceania, my primary faction (albeit in MO and SA sectorials), the Jäger is also interesting. The most similar unit is the Akalis Sikh Commando, of which I am a big fan.

The Akal Command starts just a few points more than a Jäger and has +2 BS, +1 ARM, +1 PH, and +1 CC, with the downsides of being slower (2″ secondary move) and -3 BTS. The value of Religious is somewhat subjective as it depends on what you usually want to do with the troop. I think it’s mostly a strong benefit that occasionally gets your unyielding dudes killed. Combat Jump versus Airborne Infiltration is strictly better but, again, may not actually be more useful depending on play area size and terrain density.

With its range of options, the Akal Commando can tackle all the same battlefield tasks:

  • Suppression: Combi-Rifle at +2 BS, +1 ARM, Religious, and Combat Jump for +3pt tips toward the Akal Commando for being more likely to win shootouts and hold its ground. E.g., in Suppressive Fire against an Alguacile at close range, the Akal kills 45% of the time and dies 28% of the time, while the Jäger kills just 35% of the time and also dies 35% of the time.
  • Trooper Hunting: Boarding Shotgun at the same cost and less SWC with better ARM and Combat Jump means the Akal is strictly better than the Jäger for this role.
  • TAG/HI Hunting: With an E/Mitter at +6pts, and a Hacker or Spitfire at +10pts, there’s space here to consider the Jäger. Comparing the E/Mitter options straight-up, it’s close: Again in the best situation, the Akal has a 61% chance to one-shot a typical TAG, while the Jäger has a 54% chance. For +6pts I’m not sure that’s worth it, especially with the Jäger having Climbing Plus and the Akal only +1 ARM and -3 BTS. Either way, it’s enough of a points difference that the Jäger might fit in a good number of lists that the E/Mitter Akal doesn’t, especially in RECON+ games.
  • Button Pushing: At +10pts for a Specialist, there’s almost certainly space here to consider the Jäger, particularly if you generally won’t see the benefits of Combat Jump versus Airborne Infiltration.

Crusader Brethren, the other PanO AD trooper (setting aside Kirpal Singh, a 35pt Akal character), cost more than the Akal but has +1 ARM and +3BTS.

So, off the cuff it’s a tough call between the Crusader and the Akal Commando for the Suppression and Trooper Hunting roles, but the Jäger doesn’t win either way. For TAG/HI Hunting the Crusader has HMG and Spitfire options, so it’s debatable between that and the Akal Spitfire. But all of those are a different and more expensive approach from the E/Mitter, leaving the Jäger viable versus the Akal’s E/Mitter as discussed above. There’s no Specialist option at all for the Crusader, so it also leaves space there to consider the Jäger since the Akal isn’t an auto-select for that role.

Among the other PanOceania units, I don’t think there are options that dominate the Jäger for the latter two roles at its cost and in the fashion it approaches them. The Specialists with Infiltration all cost quite a bit more (starting at 27pts for a TO Camo Spec Sergeant Forward Observer), which might be worth it for their various abilities and equipment but leaves a place for the Jäger in low-cost flexible Button Pushing.

Button Pushing

I’m not as familiar with the other factions and there aren’t as direct comparisons as the Tomcats and Parachutists—unless I’ve missed some there aren’t other low-to-moderate cost Airborne Infiltration or Parachutist units in the vanilla factions, excluding a few somewhat pricier characters here and there.

But I would guess the other factions largely shake out like PanO:

  • There are better options for Suppression and Trooper Hunting;
  • Some place for the Jäger in TAG/HI Hunting if you think the low-cost Airborne Infiltration E/Mitter approach is viable;
  • But almost certainly space to at least consider the Jäger for Button Pushing.

To the latter, surveying the vanilla factions for Specialists with Combat Jump to use as very flexible objective grabbers, we get:

  • Tohaa Gao-Tarsos Paramedic is +12/+9 pts; effectively an extra wound, +3 CC, +1 BS, +2 PH, +2 ARM, Combi-Rifle, D-Charges; but -2″ second move and -3 BTS
  • Aleph Ekdromoi Hacker is +8/+6 pts; has Martial Arts and Super-Jump, +8 CC, +1 BS, +3 PH, +1 WIP, +1 ARM; but only -3 BTS and whatever your take is on the merits of Chain Rifle and Nanopulser versus the Jäger’s SMG or Boarding Shotgun
  • Combined Army Fraacta w/ Hacking Device is +17/+14 pts; effectively an extra wound, +3 CC, +1 BS, +2 PH, Combi-Rifle and Nanopulser; but -1 WIP
  • Nomads Meteor Zond Forward Observer is +3/0 pts; has Sensor, Sat-Lock, Repeater, +1 PH, Combi-Rifle, +2 primary movement; but is -6 CC, -1 ARM, and an S3 Remote so harder to move & hide and an inferior Dodge
  • Nomads Hellcats Paramedic is +6/+3 pts; has Superior Combat Jump and Courage, +1 BS, +2 PH, +1 ARM, Combi-Rifle; but -2″ secondary movement
  • Haqqislam Hassassin Ragiks Hacker is +14/+11 pts; has Dogged and Religious, +1 BS, +2 PH, +2 WIP, +1 ARM, Rifle and Light Shotgun; but -3 BTS
  • Yu Jing Tiger Soldier Paramedic is +11/+8 pts; has Mimetism, +1 CC, +2 BS, +2 PH, +1 WIP, +1 ARM, Combi-Rifle and Light Flamethrower; but -2″ secondary movement and -3 BTS
  • PanOceania Akal Commando Hacker is +10/+7 pts; has Religious, +1 CC, +2 BS, +1 PH, +1 ARM, Combi-Rifle and E/Mitter; but -2″ second move and -3 BTS

Here again I think the Nomads have better options in their faction already unless you really can’t squeeze out the points (and the Tomcat dominates anyway).

Among all the others though the point savings are significant enough that it’s worth considering the Jäger. For example, in RECON+ games I see the boundary of what I can usually scrounge up without changing the basic character of a list as being about 4pts, which all these options are well over. The counterpoint to that is if you significantly value Combat Jump over Airborne Infiltration; think the Irregular Order is a real limitation; or will make use of the faction unit’s other abilities, such as hacking.

Conclusion

I started looking into the Jäger because I enjoy using Airborne Deployment troops extensively and wanted to see if it’s worth considering. Many people on various forums have of course immediately decried the Jäger as trash completely useless to everyone. I disagree with those takes. If you break down the analysis by battlefield roles, there’s most likely a place for the Jäger in every faction except Nomads. Even against Haqqislam Bashi Bazouks, for example, cited by some as totally superior, the Jäger seems at least competitive in several roles, and can fill one they cannot.

More generally, I hope newer Infinity players take away the idea that there’s often limited use in just comparing units generically. You have to evaluate units and their profile options in context of how you’re planning to use them. Of course the ability for a unit to adapt and cover multiple roles as the situation changes is very important. But in choosing a list you should be thinking of your strategy and evaluating efficiency and effectiveness of units and options in light of the specific tasks that plan entails. Most of us do that intuitively, but it’s worth explicitly framing the process.