Episode 11.3: How to Make AROs Work for Tohaa Without Playing Like Everyone Else

Well I had three games this week but for various reasons wasn't able to do Battle Reports for any of them, I'm hoping to sneak one more in so I can get a game up. For those interested I had a 4-3 win against Military Orders, a 7-3 win against Aleph, and a loss to JSA in a game where both me and my opponent were....inebriated. We'll pretend that one didn't happen. :P

While trying to rope someone into another game I've been continuing to play with lists between rounds of writing a primer regarding Camo/TO Camo/Airborne Deployment. I'll probably post that when I'm happy with it but no ETA for the moment. Instead I've been thinking a lot about how Tohaa interact with AROs compared to other Factions so that will be the topic as I ascend my soap box.

 AROs, to me, are the defining feature of Infinity's rule set. It's a powerful ability to be able to react to an opponent's actions during their turn but it also adds complexity to list building as well as testing your decision making. While I've gotten much better at recognizing what my ARO actions should be I still find it hard to effectively setup for my Reactive Turn, hopefully my delve into this will be useful to even non-Tohaa Players.



Our Paths Diverge

When I was first getting into Infinity and looking for a Faction I found a website by the name of The Lonely Artichoke. This is a pseudo-blog run by someone who seemingly has long been the authority on Tohaa and it was his writing which made me choose them as my army. While he seems to have left the game recently, and published some bitter articles, one thing that was mentioned quite a bit is that Tohaa are actually a hard army to play once you get into the game. I'm obviously applying my own experience to that but I think Tohaa are the most difficult army to play in the Reactive Turn.

Let's take a step back. AROs in Infinity are best looked at through the lens of a scorched earth policy. It is very hard to setup AROs to actually win Face to Face Rolls as you not only need multiple models which work well in the Reactive Turn but they have to be layered in such a way that they support in other. This is why the majority of games I watch and play seem to focus around a "bend but don't break policy". Let's take the humble Total Reaction REM as an example. Most Factions have access to one of these guys and they're a very popular inclusion for a list. At low cost you get a Burst 4, BS 11, Remote Presence REM that will create a risky proposition for even Fireteams. A Core will usually be shooting on something like 14's-15's with five dice and receiving four dice likely on 11's. Not a very attractive fight and it gets worse if the REM was buffed with Marksmanship Lvl 2.

Instead many lists have to pump additional Orders into solving the TR REM puzzle. Maybe MSV 2 and Smoke is used, requiring 1-2 Orders to get the Smoke down and in position. Maybe a TO Camo model has to move in close, eating up Orders and revealing its presence. The point is that the Reactive Player is rarely expecting the REM to make it through the turn, instead its job is to slow down the advance and leave insufficient Orders to get into the army proper during an opponent's Active Turn.

Tohaa has no such options and is one of the few things that a Player might look at longingly. The first stop that many players make is the "Total Reaction" Chaksa. This functions similarly to the REM but with very key differences that I'll illustrate.

  • The Chaksa can go Prone, the REM cannot.
  • The Chaksa cannot be Hacked, positively or negatively, the REM can.
  • The Chaksa dies to Shock/Viral, the REM does not.
  • The Chaksa has one level of Unconsciousness, the REM has two.
  • Some of the REMs have abilities such as Climbing Plus or Mimetism, the Chaksa does not.
  • The Chaksa Dodges on 12's, the REMs Dodge on 7's.
  • The REM can shoot at full Burst during the Active Turn, the Chaksa cannot.

 While that may not look so bad on the surface, the Chaksa benefits very little from the differences. Going Prone with an ARO model is not an advantage, its job is to stand there and delay. While going Prone can prevent it from being double-tapped and then picked up by a MediKit/Doctor this assumes you have such a model in the list and in position. Comparatively many other Factions have cheap Engineers who have no issue standing behind the REM to force additional shots into it or it may come back again.
Dodging is where the Chaksa wins but again, this isn't that useful. While it can shutdown some tricks to take down the model there are still dice involved and one on a 12 versus three to five on a similar number isn't great. Dying to Shock is also a huge deal because MSV 2 Snipers with Smoke are a very common answer to Total Reaction models whereas the REM likely has to be shot at least once more after going down to keep it down. Finally Hacking buffs are a huge gain for the REM but being hacked by an enemy is pretty rare due to the REM being in the back, setting up Repeaters is often not worth the Orders.

I've completely written off the HMG Chaksa and find it's most recommended by people who play other Factions and consider it just as good as their REM. Going even further down Tohaa does not access to 8 Point Flash Pulse models of any description and also lacks Fireteam Cores who can turn even the lowlilest Ghulam into a Burst 2, Sixth Sense Lvl 2, +3 BS defensive juggernaut. So where does that leave our friendly aliens during the Reactive Turn?



Layer. It. On.

Originally when I started Infinity I played how others played, putting models that I thought would be good at ARO on their own with a commanding Line of Fire. I quickly learned that anything put forth to ARO should be expected to die as even with SymbioMates and multiple Wounds a TAG, Core HMG, and so on do not stop unless you crit (at best).

While Tohaa do not have the raw brunt of hyper-specialized REMs, solid TAGs in Suppressive Fire, Fireteam Cores, etc. we do have Triads. Triads...and cheap, effective models to put in those Triads. As I found one game against Ariadna, opponents are very hesitant to engage 2+ models at once in ARO when they're in a Fireteam. Even a mighty HMG will have to split fire, making for a relatively even firefight among all participants, or focus fire and take unopposed shots. Since most models in Infinity have only one Wound this is not an attractive play, especially if the Tohaa models are packing multiple Wounds and/or SymbioMates.

With extra Burst even normal Line Troops can be a roadblock to the Active Turn Player and Tohaa have no shortage of effective models to dump into a Triad. Forward Observers/Flash Puls and defensive Eclipse Smoke are two of my favorites. Forward Observers are already welcome in Triads for ITS Missions and often come with a Combi Rifle or Light Shotgun so now your Specialist is an effective defender at multiple range bands. Makauls, possibly my favorite model in the Faction, are also happy to make a Smoke Dodge and conveniently obscure their friends. Should an enemy walk into the smoke an Engaging Makaul is likely to give them pause.

Layering AROs requires very careful model placement, failure to cover all angles will allow an opponent to engage you one by one instead of two by two (or more), negating the advantage. This is why I like to have a "backfill" Triad in my lists, their primary purpose is to jump into my combat Triad should a member fall but they can also cover angles that a sole Triad could not. While this forces much of the army to get involved in the game Tohaa happen to be the most mobile army in Infinity as they're able to move three models for one Order across most of a list.

Another unique point for Tohaa is their preference for close engagements. Multiple flavors of Combi Rifle are littered throughout the Faction so engagements between 0-16" are artichoke friendly. Many other Factions prefer to keep their distance with HMGs, Spitfires, Missile Lauchers, and Snipers, picking models off to enable an advance. As the table permits I can setup shorter ranged traps that an opponent may not be prepared for. Even if I have to surrender that position or lose models you can sometimes get an opponent so far up the board that it's extremely Order efficient to remove their stranded pieces when the turn passes.



Trading Up to Get Over

As I've said, AROs are not something Tohaa excel at compared to other Factions. We have to position more carefully and build lists in unintuitive ways to even have a chance of slowing the enemy down. Having said that, it's not all bad. Tohaa are particularly good at trading during the Reactive Turn by layering as I already discussed but we also have some deceptively cheap and powerful reactive models.


Makauls

If you play Tohaa you probably already love these guys but they're great at AROs to boot. Heavy Flamethrowers, combined with luring an opponent in close, can force two Damage 14 saves with Fire to boot unless a model wants to Dodge (in which case the Makaul's friends are happy to try their luck). Get in too close and you might find yourself pinned in Close Combat by their 4" Dodge and fear of a protracted firefight can be ended with an Eclipse Grenade. I've found Makauls are the hardest models to position defensively but hit the hardest when properly applied.


Clipsos

TO Camo models make great Reactive Turn pieces for any Faction but Tohaa have some of the best. The Clipsos isn't flashy but it is cheap for what it brings, many players find themselves taking at least one 25pt Forward Observer. While the obvious play is to keep a TO Camo model in Hidden Deployment until the enemy comes thundering into the Line of Fire of another model and suddenly giving him two targets we have other options.

My new favorite is to take two Clipsos and leave a Console or other Mission appropriate piece of scenery undefended. Seeing an easy source of Points many Specialists will make a beeline for it, trying to avoid being exposed themselves if the Player is wise enough to suspect Hidden Deployment. Rarely do armies take more than one of these models though as most other Factions pay 30+ Points for undesired abilities which makes TO Camo cost prohibitive. When the Specialist comes in at least one Clipsos will be ready and with a bit of luck you can pickup a free kill. The cheap Sniper Rifle and Boarding Shotgun profiles can be even more effective with this as a dedicated role.


Rasail Boarding Team
These guys in Suppressive Fire, carefully put into a position where an opponent cannot see them and benefit from Cover, is a sight to behold. With either a Spitfire or Viral Combi Rifle the Rasail is deadly and hard to take out with a bucket of Wounds and the possibility of a SymbioMate. If they can be positioned to not give Cover there are very few models which can challenge the Rasail even in her Reactive Turn and creative Chaksa Peripheral placement just adds more problems for an opponent. It's very rare I don't end the turn with my Rasail in Suppressive Fire.
Krakot Renegades
Up until recently I hadn't given the Krakot much of a look but I now consider it one of the best trading pieces Tohaa has next to the Makaul. With Kinematika L1 and PH 13 (sometimes 16!) they're happy to Engage you as you round the corner and Chest Mines or Chain Rifles will trade with anything except the most heavily ARM'd of opponents. If they reach melee they're almost certain to trade thanks to Berserk putting fear into even the best Close Combatants. Better still they're Impetuous so they can get themselves into position at no cost to the broader army. Thanks Combined Army for pissing these guys off enough to help me out.



Putting This Into Practice

As a result of my never ending list tinkering I've put together what I feel like is not only a fairly balanced ITS Army but quite a competent Reactive Turn one as well. This matters a lot to me as I really like going second, you're advantaged in most Missions when you do and Tohaa take punches so well that it's much harder to alpha strike them than any other Faction.




 CLIPSOS Boarding Shotgun, Nullifier / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 23)
 GAO-RAEL Spitfire / Pistol, CCW. (1.5 | 33)
 SUKEUL (Forward Observer) K1 Combi Rifle, D-Charges / Pistol, Breaker Pistol, Knife. (0 | 32)
 MAKAUL Heavy Flamethrower, Eclipse Grenades / Pistol, Viral CCW. (0 | 13)
 SAKIEL (Forward Observer) Combi Rifle, Nimbus Plus Grenades / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 19)
 KAELTAR (Chain of Command) Light Shotgun, Flash Pulse + 2 SymbioMates / Pistol, Electric Pulse. (0.5 | 21)
 KAELTAR (Chain of Command) Light Shotgun, Flash Pulse + 2 SymbioMates / Pistol, Electric Pulse. (0.5 | 21)
 CHAKSA AUXILIAR (Baggage, Sensor) Heavy Flamethrower / Pistol, CCW. (0 | 10)
 CHAKSA AUXILIAR (Baggage, Sensor) Heavy Flamethrower / Pistol, CCW. (0 | 10)
 CHAKSA AUXILIAR (Baggage, Sensor) Heavy Flamethrower / Pistol, CCW. (0 | 10)


 RASAIL Lieutenant Spitfire + 1 Chaksa Peripheral / Pistol, Knife. (2 | 39)
  CHAKSA PERIPHERAL Heavy Flamethrower / Pistol, Knife. (- | 4)
 CLIPSOS (Forward Observer) Combi Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 25)
 MAKAUL Heavy Flamethrower, Eclipse Grenades / Pistol, Viral CCW. (0 | 13)
 KRAKOT RENEGADE Submachine Gun, Chest Mine / Pistol, DA CC Weapon. (0 | 15)
 KRAKOT RENEGADE Submachine Gun, Chest Mine / Pistol, DA CC Weapon. (0 | 15)

 5 SWC | 299 Points


If you've caught some of my past games you might notice that I'm solidifying some things. I really love the Triad of Gao-Rael w/ Spitfire, Sukeul w/ K1 Combi Rifle/Forward Observer, and a Makaul. These guys can do literally anything you need except fight at over 24" which I have never wished they could. Forward Deployment L1 on the Gao-Rael has made them so much better when going first that I'm hard pressed to leave this trio at home.

The backfill Triad is sneakily competent at ARO with the Sakiel getting a SymbioMate and access to Flash Pulses all around. While Kaeltars are VERY valuable to the list I can almost always afford to lose one so the Sakiel and one Kaeltar can layer up for others while the last guy hides. I also love Nimbus Plus Grenades and their endless combinations with the Template Weapons Tohaa bring whether you want them or not.

Two Krakots are something I'm experimenting with. They're very strong at ARO against armies without sufficiently cheap Warband models and very strong trade up pieces in the Active Turn. I'm not sure if the full two is the correct choice but they're fun to play with and very Order efficient, with their own Impetuous and a regular Order it's easy to get them in melee if they roll up 6-4 Movement.

Lastly I'm experimenting with two Clipsos. I feel like the FO Profile works for the army by letting me Hidden Deployment it near a far Objective so the rest of my army can bunker up. The Boarding Shotgun profile feels heavily overlooked, while the Nullifier is crap it provides a great "gotcha" ARO model and can go on a rampage in the Active Turn. Again, being in Hidden Deployment let's me flank with it and do other fun things, I don't think most players expect multiple TO Camo models from Tohaa either.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As I've tried to illustrate, Tohaa are not your typical ARO army. They require more aggressive and precise positioning to work but can also get more out of a Reactive Turn than expected. I say put away your Chaksa HMGs, your Gao-Rael Snipers, and your Sukeul Missile Launchers. Make the enemy come to you, on your terms, and face your numerous rifles and blades. As with all things Tohaa belong up close and personal, can your opponent say the same?

Episode 11: Weird Games Are In Fact Weird (Tohaa vs. Tartary Army Corps | 300 Points | Unmasking)

Yay I got to play on a Monday for once! Monday is the big day for my local meta and I badly wanted a test game for my upcoming tournament this weekend. Both Unmasking and Hunting Party will be in use (as a Thanksgiving theme?) and I have no experience with either of those Missions. Deadly Dance will also be played but I'm writing this more off as a loss because I do not own my TAG and won't have it in time for the event. I may make a list with K1 Combi and Missile Launcher as a counter though.....

This time I'm against Bill, legitimately one of the nicest guys I've ever met playing any wargame, and his TAC Sectorial. This is a great double-up for me, new Scenario and new Faction to play against! However Bill wanted to do something a bit different and decided to make use of a random army creator to build his list. The thought behind this was that it would force him to take units that he might not ordinarily and work within the confines of a non-polished army list. I wanted to test my normal build for the tournament so we figured the game might be a bit lop-sided but worst comes to worst it's good fun and we'd both learn some things. Onto the lists!





Tohaa


Group 1

Gao-Rael w/ Spitfire
Sukeul (Forward Observer) w/ K1 Combi Rifle, D-Charges
Makaul w/ Heavy Flamethrower, Eclipse Grenades

Gao-Rael w/ Sniper Rifle
Kaeltar (Chain of Command) w/ Light Shotgun, Flash Pulse, 2 SymbioMates
Kamael (Paramedic) w/ Combi Rifle

Sakiel w/ Combi Rifle, Nimbus Plus Grenades
Kaeltar (Chain of Command) w/ Light Shotgun, Flash Pulse, 2 SymbioMates 
Makaul w/ Heavy Flamethrower, Eclipse Grenades

 Chaksa Auxiliar (Baggage, Sensor) w/ Heavy Flamethrower


Group 2

Rasail Lieutenant w/ Spitfire
Chaksa Peripheral w/ Heavy Flamethrower

Kerail Preceptor w/ Submachine Gun, Smoke Grenades
Surda Beast w/ Pulzar

Diplomatic Delegate w/ Nanopulser, Flash Pulse

 Chaksa Auxiliar (Baggage, Sensor) w/ Heavy Flamethrower
 Chaksa Auxiliar (Baggage, Sensor) w/ Heavy Flamethrower
 Chaksa Auxiliar (Baggage, Sensor) w/ Heavy Flamethrower


This is largely the same list I ran for my last game with the exception of dropping an FO Kamael and FO Sakiel for a normal Sakiel, a Makaul, and upgrading the other FO Kamael to a Paramedic. I'm down Specialists but in a Mission that's all about them I can just change the Makaul to an FO Kamael, or go back to the old version. I think four Specialists if okay for most Missions, 5-6 is the sweet spot, but because Tohaa can move them around so efficiently we might be able to scrape by.



Tartary Army Corps

Group 1

Tankhunter Lieutenant w/ AP Rifle, Adhesive Launcher, D-Charges
Tankhunter w/ AP Rifle, Adhesive Launcher, D-Charges
Tankhunter w/ Portable Autocannon, D-Charges

Irmandinho w/ Boarding Shotgun, D-Charges, Smoke Grenades

Dynamo w/ Molotok

Line Kazak w/ AP HMG

Veteran Kazak Paramedic w/ AP Rifle, Light Flamethrower
Veteran Kazak (X-Visor) w/ T2 Rifle, Light Flamethrower
Frontovik w/ T2 Rifle
Frontovik w/ Molotok
 
Group 2

Irmandinho w/ Chain Rifle, Smoke Grenades

Warcor (Aerocam) w/ Flash Pulse


So....the list is really bad. There's a four model Fireteam: Core, the HMG is by itself, there's not that many Specialists, and a weird second Combat Group. That being said there are some things to worry about with the Tankhunters, the HMG, and the Dynamo. I really don't have too much to say about a random list, I believe Bill resolved to make minor adjustments if he repeats this experiment in the future. I also think that's for the best as you're still playing outside of comfort zone but you also wouldn't be as handicapped.



Mission & Deployment




With the Lieutenant Roll going to me I chose First Turn. I think Unmasking is slightly favorable for the second player just on the Mission itself but not so much that First Turn becomes unattractive. Because there is so much button pushing the First Player can either just go for advantaged firefights as normal or bum-rush the Consoles and try to find the Designated Target. I also didn't feel one side of the table was so overpowering that I had to have it. This is something I've talked about a bit in the past but I feel like tables should be built with an advantage to one side in most situations. In any case Bill had me deploy first and took the side he was already on.

My goal for Deployment was to set myself up to grab at least two Consoles if Bill didn't throw up much opposition or be able to barrel down any of the corridors should he challenge me on the Mission. The Gao-Rael Sniper Triad went in a back building which gave me a lane down the center and also covered approaches to my side of the table. My other Gao-Rael Triad stayed central, able to get into cover and go left or right, I also put the Sakiel Triad there for the same reason and to give me something to pursue the leftmost Console with. My Rasail went center-right, with the Chaksa hiding, and all my solo Chaksa just hid out behind buildings. Since TAC only has AD:Parachutist and one Infiltrator with Camo I felt fairly secure about my backlines but I can still get into Sensor range of mid-field with two Orders. Lastly I put the Diplomatic Delegate to cover my right side approach and held back the Kerail Preceptor.







Unfortunately I had nowhere solid to hide my HVTs so instead I put them in places where they could either deny Templates, block a Console, or deny a model peeking around a corner at me. Putting an HVT near a corner you expect to fight over has proven to be a useful tactic so far as it just disallows some weapons or may waste an Order for precise positioning.

Bill deployed extremely defensively, giving me no real targets of value. The Fireteam hid out in the far back-right with the Dynamo and Line Kazak only a few inches forward comparatively. Also on the right were both Irmandinhos and two of the Camo Tokens. Finally the Warcor poked up from a central building and the last Camo Token went more in the center, also on a building. Bill put his HVTs in much the same position as mine but of course on his side of the table.

I deployed my Kerail in the middle of most of my stuff, setting up for Smoke Grenades. Bill declined to hold a reserve model, for whatever reason some people in my meta just forget to do this. With that my Group 1 Pool was reduced by two Orders as expected and away we went.






Tohaa Turn 1

Right off the bat I have to make a decision between going after the TAC army or just playing for Mission. Looking at the table I can pickup the Warcor easily but everything else would either require Discover Rolls or pushing very deep into enemy territory. With a reduced pool of Orders I didn't think that was viable so pushing buttons is the thing to do.

Starting with the Sukeul Triad I started moving up the board, giving an ARO or two to a Camo Token which it declined. The Sukeul whiffed the Console but then managed to press it and I guessed the far-left HVT but was wrong. However this will allow the Sakiel to go for the left Console and shoot that HVT for some easy points. I also managed to remove the Warcor on my approach with the Spitfire, worst case I got Blinded and either give up or try with another model.


WarCor has nothing to report this game.


Not having anything to do for the moment in Group 1 I started walking the Rasail forward. Sadly he won't be able to use a Console but I can put him in a strong defensive position. To that end the Chaksa hugged a corner to protect the Console while the Rasail poked out to try and see the Extremely Impetuous Irmandinhos, going into Suppressive Fire.


The rest of my Group 2 Orders were spent moving the Kerail up, Bill had stayed heavily on the right side and a bit in the middle but totally abandoned the left side so I have a flanking maneuver in the future if I want it. I decided not to go as far as I could so I preserve the option for Smoke Grenades  and not leave myself unsupported.

Moving back to Group 1 I wanted to setup a strong, defensive, position so I covered the left alley where my Kerail was with the Sukeul and the right alley with my Gao-Rael Spitfire. This would provide at least two AROs no matter which way Bill came except for the extreme right, however I felt reasonably confident that the Rasail could hold its own.





TAC Turn 1

Bill quickly realized that while he'd made it through the turn without any real losses he was also badly pinned down. Starting with the Impetuous Orders both Irmandinhos both moved out and tosses Smoke Grenades to cover the advance. Sadly my Rasail was just about half an inch from being able to see them, I'd slightly misjudged the Impetuous pathing and also kept the Rasail a bit too close to cover in case she needed to Guts out of there. I would have been four dice on 12's against one dice on 14's so the odds are quite good that I put both models down, I just didn't go out far enough.




After some Line of Fire checking from the AP HMG Bill started with the Dynamo, racing up through the smoke and throwing a Mine past my Rasail after a failed attempt. I didn't mind the Mine too much as it's going to go off in a Face to Face Roll between the Rasail and something unless multiple models pull back so I can burn the SymbioMate and also be protected from losing the roll unless a crit happens. The Dynamo is also out of Mines because of the failed throw so there's no risk of it zipping into a very annoying place and laying one.




Deciding to have a go with the AP HMG it comes out and I shoot back with both Gao-Raels. Bill puts all his shots into the Spitfire but is just at +0 Range, meaning he's -3 overall. I crit the Line Kazak and put it Unconscious but the Sniper whiffs both his shots.




Getting towards the end of the main group's Orders the Boarding Shotgun Irmandinho sweeps through an alley and starts shooting my Gao-Rael. This goes on for awhile as we each crit and bounce while Bill makes his ARM in another Face to Face. Eventually the Boarding Shotgun gets through the SymbioMate and does a Wound, I fail Guts to safety.

One of the Camo Tokens then moves, to which I Delay, and reveals a Tankhunter with Portable Autocannon. My Gao-Rael Sniper shoots back but gets crit and goes Unconscious from the Explosive Ammunition.




Tohaa Turn 2

I certainly took some hits during the last turn but I'm only down one actual model and I've kept Bill off the Consoles for now. Being content with my Order Pools I have a look at the table and decide the Tankhunter has to go, his Line of Fire is too commanding. I want an MSV model for that job but one is down and other other is on his last Wound so it's a bit risky either way.

Having some Orders to play with I crawled the Kamael Paramedic towards my Gao-Rael but missed throwing the MediKit. Another Order got her base to base but the PH Roll failed and the Gao-Rael died. At that point the other Gao-Rael is my safest bet for winning a Face to Face. The Tankhunter was on 9's to my 12's, one dice to five, but I'd neglected to notice the Irmandinho still with Line of Fire in the alley. Both shot me back and I decided to put three dice on the Irmandinho and two on the Tankhunter, a much riskier proposition. Fortunately I won both Face to Face Rolls and both models went Unconscious.





Having repelled an incursion in the middle I moved to the Rasail, hoping to remove the Dynamo. After two Face to Face Rolls I did so with Bill Smoke Dodging each time but passing an ARM on the first Order. I then went around the corner a bit and put the other Irmandinho Unconscious, leaving Bill on one Specialist and no Smoke Grenades.





Feeling pretty safe I moved the Sukeul over and activated the other Console after a few attempts, guessing the center HVT but I was wrong again. However this allowed me to clearly move the Sakiel Triad towards the last Console, press it with the Kaeltar to reveal the Designated Target on the right, and then kill one of the decoys with another few Orders.




The remainder of the turn was just repositioning models to get AROs, putting the Rasail into Suppressive Fire again, and then moving the Kerail forward further. I knew Bill would have to come at me now as I have a massive lead in the Mission so anything I can do to slow him down was worthwhile.



TAC Turn 2

After combining the Groups Bill had 6 Orders to play with, his Fireteam and two Camo Tokens. The Fireteam started hoofing it, using two Orders just to get up into the action.



At this point there is a lot of Line of Fire checking because my HVT is preventing the Fireteam from being able to see my Rasail while also having cover. Eventually caution is ignored and the T2 X-Visor comes out but we bounce off each other and my Diplomatic Delegate lands a Flash Pulse, Blinding the Veteran.

A few more Face to Face Rolls also either bounce or go in my favor with Bill making his ARM, leaving my Rasail unharmed and the Fireteam very close to my lines.




Tohaa Turn 3

At this point the game is well decided but I'm looking to maximize score. My preference is to put the TAC Army into Retreat but Bill told me two of his remaining models have Veteran 1 so they won't care. With that my new goal was to get all the points I can, give Bill as few Orders as possible, and keep the Rasail alive if possible.

I move one Chaksa into Group 1 and start moving the Sakiel Triad all the way across the board. After three Orders I'm in range but whiff the Nimbus Plus Grenade so I move a bit closer and land it. The Makaul then moves into the Nimbus Template and after I explain what it does Bill breaks his Fireteam, Dodging with the two back models and shooting with the forward ones.

When the dust clears I've killed the models that Dodged but the others survive, as does my Makaul despite being hit twice. This leaves 4 Orders on the table for TAC but no Specialists.





Another round of Heavy Flamethrowers killed the Makaul but also removed the two remaining models. I had a couple Orders in Group 1 and all of my Group 2 Orders so we talked out the rest of the game. My Rasail would need one Order to then get within Line of Fire on the Designated Target with only a Camo Token to stop me, however that's not enough to remove the Rasail. I could then extract her with Eclipse Smoke and body block her so there's no way for Bill to shoot her. With that we ended the game, a 10-0 win for Tohaa.



Post-Game Thoughts

Obviously with an almost intentionally bad list this game was a bit of a meme but it was a fun one none the less. My focus was on playing a very clean game and I think I managed to do that, only being caught off guard by the Irmandinho Boarding Shotgun in Turn 2. Frankly I just couldn't see the model and forgot it was there, I need to work on looking at the table from the side before I start dishing out Orders or just ask my opponent where all his models are.

As for mistakes I should have given the Gao-Rael a Smoke Grenade to work with on Turn 2, this would have kept him safe from one of the two AROs and of course made it unlikely Bill would shoot back on either -9 or -3. I did see the play but I felt like the Gao-Rael could handle the Tankhunter barring a critical, which can happen no matter what, and didn't see the other threat as I said. That was a bit of a lucky Face to Face for me but I was favored on both and had a Medikit nearby if needed.

Overall I was happy with most of my model placement, engagements, and playing to the Mission. The only other hiccup was with the Rasail not seeing the Impetuous models, there's no guarantee I kill them but I could have tried. That seems like a good use for a Rasail, they can go anywhere and retain cover which means you can bait Impetuous Orders. Certainly situational but something I'll keep in mind.

On Bill's side of things I think he did what he could with the exception of getting the Fireteam involved earlier. Sadly he wouldn't be able to slice the pie as I positioned my Gao-Raels well so Smoke was off the table, the only other option is to go after my Rasail but that would be hard to win completely with his Order Pool and guns.

I still don't think Unmasking is a good Mission but it's not as bad as I thought. The "Guessing" for the Designated Target just adds more RNG to the game but you can argue it adds some mind-games/skill, I would disagree though. I'm not sure what I'd change about it, maybe have the Designated Target be revealed after the second Console is activated by a Player. That way the third Console/HVT aren't useless because of how the Mission is scored but it removes the feel bads for getting two wrong guesses.

I'm also still happy with how this list plays and I've had several people comment that it's very strong. I think the main weakness is a lack of Specialists but as I mentioned I can move barely anything around and have six. In most Missions I think four is fine, you just focus on keeping some alive. I'm also loving the bare bones Sakiel Triad, it does so much for the list that most people miss at first blush. Having those Nimbus Plus Grenades is one of the best things in the game for dealing with Fireteams either via Templates or just eating the -6 on everyone but limiting their defensive Burst. Sometimes you have to eat multiple AROs to break a Fireteam and I'd rather have 4 Burst against 2 than 5 Burst against 4.

That's all I have this time, thanks for reading!

Episode 10: GIVE ME YOUR SECRETS! (Tohaa vs. Imperial Service | 300 Points | Winter Wonderland [Custom])

Another week of Infinity comes to a close for me with a bit less success than I'd hoped for. I've been missing my local meetup night the past few weeks due to work and my makeup games have often fallen through. Fortunately I was able to just make a game with John, a local who also has issues making the weekly meetup but is still very much trying to improve and get into the tournament scene. Just like myself!

With a tournament coming up in December John asked if I'd mind testing one of the Missions, a Christmas themed take on Rescue. Here is a link to the Mission as it is custom and probably better read than explained. As a foreword I had never played the Mission and only read it through once before we began the game, that may become apparent later. :P



Tohaa

Group 1

Gao-Rael w/ Spitfire
Sukeul (Forward Observer) w/ K1 Combi Rifle, D-Charges
Makaul w/ Heavy Flamethrower, Eclipse Grenades

Gao-Rael w/ Sniper Rifle
Kaeltar (Chain of Command) w/ Light Shotgun, Flash Pulse, 2 SymbioMates
Kamael (Forward Observer) w/ Combi Rifle

Sakiel (Forward Observer) w/ Combi Rifle, Nimbus Plus Grenades
Kaeltar (Chain of Command) w/ Light Shotgun, Flash Pulse, 2 SymbioMates 
Kamael (Forward Observer) w/ Combi Rifle

 Chaksa Auxiliar (Baggage, Sensor) w/ Heavy Flamethrower


Group 2

Rasail Lieutenant w/ Spitfire
Chaksa Peripheral w/ Heavy Flamethrower

Kerail Preceptor w/ Submachine Gun, Smoke Grenades
Surda Beast w/ Pulzar

Diplomatic Delegate w/ Nanopulser, Flash Pulse

 Chaksa Auxiliar (Baggage, Sensor) w/ Heavy Flamethrower
 Chaksa Auxiliar (Baggage, Sensor) w/ Heavy Flamethrower
 Chaksa Auxiliar (Baggage, Sensor) w/ Heavy Flamethrower



Lately I've been switching my lists up a bit after some recommendations from better players than myself. A problem with my prior versions was poor ARO pieces so I'm attempting to remedy that here. To that end I have the Flash Pulse heavy Sakiel Triad which is also a backfill for the other two and a walking Specialist boat. One of the Gao-Raels is now back to being armed with a Sniper Rifle and the other Gao-Raels Triad can ARO well in close quarters.

I also managed to get a Spitfire on the Rasail, he's not particularly fast and also not good in a firefight beyond always taking cover along with him so the extra Burst is much appreciated. Beyond that I managed to sneak an extra Order into the Group 2 Pool by maxing out my cheerleaders. Fortunately the Chaksa are actually really useful for keeping my backfield clean and running around to Sensor should a Marker get too close.



Imperial Service

Group 1
  
Kuang Shi w/ Chain Rifle 
Kuang Shi w/ Chain Rifle 
Kuang Shi w/ Chain Rifle 
  
Celestial Guard (Kuang Shi Control Device) w/ Combi Rifle, Light Smoke Grenade Launcher
Celestial Guard w/ Combi Rifle
Celestial Guard w/ Boarding Shotgun
Celestial Guard w/ Spitfire
Crane Imperial Agent Lieutenant (X-Visor) w/ Spitfire, 2 Nanopulsers

Su-Jian w/ Spitfire, Light Flamethrower, Panzerfaust
Su-Jian w/ Heavy Shotgun, Light Flamethrower, Panzerfaust


Group 2

CSU (Specialist Operative) w/ Rifle, Light Shotgun, Nanopulser
CSU (Specialist Operative) w/ Rifle, Light Shotgun, Nanopulser

Sophotect w/ Combi Rifle, D-Charges

Yudbot
Yudbot



As with most armies I don't have a ton of experience against Imperial Service, I know they can bring a lot of Sensor and MSV2 if they have a mind to and the Kuang Shi are a premier trade up trooper. I like the Fireteam Core although the lack of an HMG option is disappointing for a big link team, getting a Hacker in there might be a necessity with all the best offensive pieces being Hackable.

I'm not sure about the Duo of Su-Jians, they're extremely good but mobility is already their strength and that's all they gain from a Duo. I suppose you can just decide to not link them but they're also quite expensive so you're still committed. The Sophotect is a great addition to help out the Su-Jian and possibly the Crane Agent, the CSU just feel like more Orders although they are Specialists in a list that's badly lacking them.



Mission & Deployment

I won the Lieutenant Roll and chose to take First Turn, although at this point I was under the impression that each Player could take one Holiday Box from each of the Sleighs. This still makes First Turn powerful but with how the Mission is currently worded you can just take 2-3 Holiday Boxes and run away to effectively win right off the bat. Since feedback is encouraged for the Mission I'll be recommending that change to how I thought it played, otherwise the Mission is badly unbalanced. In any case John had me deploy first.




 Despite my usual preference for not spreading out Deployment this Mission forces it a bit more, at least that was my thought being misinformed about the Mission rules. My hope was to protect my HVT from being given a Holiday Box and surrender John being able to deliver to his own HVT. To that end I put my Gao-Rael Sniper Triad on the center-right, overlooking two specific Lines of Fire with the Forward Observer Kamael helping out with vision to the center. The Diplomatic Delegate also went on the right to provide a Flash Pulse in case there's an attempt to flank me with the Su-Jian.



Both the Sakiel and Sukeul Triads went in the center, after seeing where John commits either of them can go for a Sleigh. All the Chaksa Auxiliars went in the backfield, at this point I don't know if there's a Ninja or not so I just want to keep their Orders safe as Combat Jump is also unlikely from ISS. Finally my Rasail went a bit further on the left, I'm likely going to have him be the Datatracker because of the extra Order so he can go grab the left Sleigh if needed.





 Moving to John he put a Kuang Shi on the right along with the CSU Duo and then populated the middle with nearly everything else. The Fireteam Core is spread out on a building, all Prone, with a Yudbot on top and on the bottom. Both Su-Jian are on the bottom with the Shotgun being forward and a Kuang Shi as backup. The last Kuang Shi and the Sophotect went on the left, hiding behind a building. All in all John gave me very few openings to attack models without at least a few Orders for movement.






 Reserve models were the Kerail for me who went fairly centered, hoping to help with his Smoke Grenades. John dropped the Spitfire Su-Jian near his partner but also very hidden.

Prior to the game John reduced my Group 1 Order Pool as expected. I select my Rasail as the Datatracker and John chooses the Spitfire Su-Jian.



Tohaa Turn 1

I will reiterate one more time that I didn't know I could go and grab all the Holiday Boxes, if I had that's what I would have done as John had lierally zero AROs to any of the Sleighs. I don't know if this would have worked well though because the Su-Jian would then have 10 Orders to just come at me, it's possible I could have layered an insane amount of AROs to dissuade that but I really don't know.

In any case I start moving the Gao-Rael Triad forward, hoping to soften the Su-Jian and pick up at least one Holiday Box. After a move Order I'll be able to pop out from behind the train running down the table but I go to the Kerail and throw a Smoke Grenade forward. This will cover my advance/retreat completely as well as the Sleigh and I would prefer the Su-Jian try to Dodge instead of shoot me back, both are equal odds but it makes a lucky critical less likely as the Shotgun Su-Jian would be shooting on 5's.




We then get into a bit of an extended firefight with the Gao-Rael shooting through the smoke into the Kuang-Shi and the Su-Jian. Both choose to Dodge and after a few goes I put the Kuang Shi Unconscious and do a Wound to the Su-Jian before he's able to reach Total Cover via Guts Checks. This took more Orders than I was hoping as John rolled great ARM Saves and made a Dodge here or there.



 Needing to put the Mission first I started walking back, picking up a Holiday Box with the Sukeul as I went and also killing the Yudbot. At this point I wasn't going to have enough Orders to get back to a safe place and I was a bit over-committed so I put the Makaul Prone and hid the Sukeul behind a tank. This puts me in a bad position against the Heavy Shotgun, however if it doesn't critically hit then I can absorb everything with the SymbioMate and Engage with the Makaul, or Smoke Dodge, so there's at least an out.




 At this point I move to the Rasail, walking him up to the Sleigh but not having enough Orders to make a play for it unless I spend the Lieutenant or convert an Irregular. I decline to do that and just put him in Suppressive Fire, I don't feel like anything but the Su-Jian can make it there and that doesn't seem likely to be John's play. I also use a Group 2 Order to reposition the Kerail Preceptor forward and put him in Suppressive Fire while Prone, this will let me at least put up a fight against the Su-Jian when they inevitably come after me.





 Imperial Service Turn 1

Being a bit bruised but not battered John does his Impetuous Orders, moving the remaining Kuang Shi but no one can see them. He then immediately allocates Orders to the Su-Jian who go into Mobile Form and head right for the Gao-Rael Triad.





 Shifting back to Combat Form the Spitfire starts moving toward the center Sleigh while the Heavy Shotgun rounds the corner and shoots my Gao-Rael. I choose to Change Face with the Sukeul, who passes but I put him just slightly out of Line of Fire or he'd have shot. The Gao-Rael shoots with his Pistol and the Makaul Engages.

When the dust settles I've lost my SymbioMate but the Su-Jian is in Combat. There was a bit of an issue where John did not move out far enough for the Shotgun to his my Makaul or Surda Beast but that would have been negated by the SymbioMate anyways so my plan worked.




Realizing the Fireteam is now pinned the Spitfire Su-Jian uses his Datatracker Order and leaves the Fireteam, moving just shy of being seen by my Kerail Preceptor. With another Order he pokes out and I shoot back with my Kaeltar's Flash Pulse, the Kerail, and try to Change Facing the Surda Beast as I didn't have his arcs correctly placed. We manage to bounce in the Face to Face with my Kerail but the Flash Pulse crits, ending the Su-Jian's reign of terror before it can start.




 There's a few weird interactions next, starting with the Su-Jian trying to melee my Makaul. I choose to do nothing with the Gao-Rael, I could have Engaged with him for the extra Burst on future swings but John had enough Orders left that he might shoot into melee and I wanted to preserve the SymbioMate, I also don't want unopposed swings into the Gao-Rael. I win the Face to Face and actually kill the Su-Jian with the Viral CCW.

The other Su-Jian goes into Suppressive Fire despite being Stunned, taking two Wounds from the Pulzar and Light Shotgun. He then fails his Guts Check and moves towards my Gao-Rael Sniper, this would cancel the Suppressive Fire state but I didn't know that during the game.





Having run Group 1 all but dry the Fireteam Core just moves up and then the CSU Duo starts moving forward to shoot my Sukeul. We have a couple Face to Face Rolls and I end up taking a critical but nothing else happens. At this point I end the turn with the barely surviving Su-Jian pinning down a lot of my army and the Sukeul being in an unsafe position. However John got nothing done on the Mission and I feel like I'm in a much more advantaged state, having exposed targets now.




Tohaa Turn 2

My first priority was to remove the Su-Jian and free up my Triads so the Gao-Rael Sniper got an Order, moving backwards. John got an ARO with his Spitfire Crane Agent and CSU and I decided to split my shots two and one into him. The CSU died to Shock Ammunition while I hit the Crane Agent for a Wound. Another Order now had the Gao-Rael out of any AROs and easily put the Su-Jian down.




Wanting to pickup some more kills I moved to the Rasail, walking forward to remove the Kuang Shi and Sophotect. My Chaksa rounds the corner while the Rasail just hangs out in the open but I make a mistake here. The Rasail would have needed another Order to avoid both being hit by the Chain Rifle but I was hoping to clear them out, maybe pickup one member of the Fireteam Core, and then double back for the Sleigh. I could have picked up the Holiday Box first but my focus was first on getting the kills because John is so far behind on the Mission.

I manage to kill both the Kuang Shi and Sophotect but my Rasail takes a Wound from the Chain Rifle. We did that interaction first then the Face to Face between the Rasail Sophotect, which I lost, and took another Wound from, burning the Symbiomate instead. This was a mistake on my part as I got caught up in the first few interactions and should have burned the SymbioMate on the Chain Rifle, just in case.



I then keep moving the Rasail, getting up to a Celestial Guard. John told me it had a Combi Rifle so I just ran at it then but he realized it actually had a Boarding Shotgun. At this point I should have altered my positioning as John gave me incorrect information but I didn't as it was a friendly game. In the ensuing Face to Face I kill the Celestial Guard but lose the Rasail and Chaksa to the Boarding Shotgun, a very bad trade for me. I continue to not play my Rasail well, this time I had the right idea but messed up on the SymbioMate and lazy positioning.



Going back to Group 1 I start throwing some Eclipse Grenades so I can extract my Sukeul from under the watchful eyes of the Crane Agent. With a few more Orders I successfully handed the Holiday Box to my HVT and then moved the Triad over to a very defensive position on the right. My hope was that John is now missing so many Orders he can't make it over there with the Fireteam.

Using the Eclipse Smoke I see an opportunity to Super-Jump the Surda Beast and hit all the remaining members of the Fireteam. Depending on how that went it could put John into Retreat but odds are it won't so I went for it. Unfortunately Jon made every single BTS Save and massacred the Surda Beast. To end the turn I took another shot at the Crane Agent with my Gao-Rael Sniper but we bounced, I also put the Kerail back into Suppressive Fire as he'd moved.



Imperial Service Turn 2

The remaining CSU was moved to Group 1, giving John 6 Orders. Knowing the game is pretty over John goes for some desperation plays, using a Regular and Impetuous Order to move the Kuang Shi and Chain Rifle my Kerail Preceptor. I tanked the ARM Save and removed the Kuang Shi with Shock.



The Fireteam then walks off the building, taking no fall damage due to the height. They begin to move forward and John loots the middle Sleigh with his Crane Agent. At the time I didn't realize this wasn't possible because it isn't a Specialist, Custom Missions can be hard.

The Crane Agent then leaves the Fireteam and moves to give the present to his HVT and then moves back to guard it. The remaining, three man Fireteam hunkers down to ARO my approach.






Tohaa Turn 3

Having pretty much secured the game my goal was to loot the last Sleigh and put John into Retreat if possible. However if I ran straight at the Sleigh I'd take a few AROs with the Sakiel which made a critical more likely and much scarier. Instead I gave an Order to the Kerail, poking out just a bit to have a go at the Combi Rifle Celestial Guard. It shot back and won the first Face to Face, doing a Wound to me, but I won the second and removed it.



Now the Sakiel would only take an ARO from the Crane Agent as he crossed, not enough to kill him but enough to drop one of the other models in the Triad. I moved across with him and then moved the remaining models with my second Short Skill and the Crane Agent missed the unopposed shot.

More Orders had the Sakiel loot the Sleigh and with two Wounds remaining on his profile I had at least two chances at giving the Enemy HVT a Holday Box. With the second to last Order this is just want I did, the Crane Agent again missing an unopposed shot. The last Order killed the Crane Agent with my Sakiel as I had nothing else to do, putting John into Retreat and giving me HVT: Secured. Without Retreat John could have gotten within 8" of my HVT to deny that.

Final tally in the game was 9-3 for a Major Victory. Because of the incorrect Holiday Box pickup by John it was actually 9-0 but either way a Major Win for Tohaa.





Post-Game Thoughts

Sadly another somewhat sloppy game due to being unfamiliar with the Mission but a good one otherwise. As the TO is looking for feedback on his Custom Mission I recommended that each Sleigh have one Holiday Box per Player, without that First Turn is too valuable. It's my opinion that Missions which favor the First Turn are badly imbalanced and ITS Season X certainly has a few of those but they aren't well liked as far as I know.

Moving to the game I had fewer mistakes than usual but I continue to struggle with positioning. I missed an ARO with the Sukeul onto the Su-Jian and of course made numerous errors with the Rasail, as is a frustrating tradition. In general I notice myself getting too bloodthirsty, which I think it the most common mistake in Infinity. It seems much better to cautiously approach and remove a few models then take gambles on getting a lot of kills but being exposed. I was also a bit too scared on Turn 1, the Sukeul should have been tackling the Su-Jian because of his K1 Combi but I really wanted to preserve the SymbioMates and I was afraid of a crit or having to put dice into the Kuang Shi to fend off an unopposed Pistol. These are not likely outcomes even if John had opted for them so I think my cautiousness was unwarranted. As it ended I barely scraped by because I was able to Engage the Su-Jian, if that had failed the game could have gotten extremely messy.

It's generally not my thing to excessively criticize an opponent but John handed me this game multiple times. The first was putting up no offerings to ARO, I could have easily grabbed all three Holiday Boxes on Turn 1. Even if the Su-Jian are able to chase me down the Holiday Boxes would still be on my side of the table, at that point I'd just pick them up again, give one to my HVT, and then do whatever I can to roadblock the Su-Jian while hopefully putting myself into Retreat.

Past that he effectively delivered both Su-Jian to me, letting the first one be Engaged and the latter taking free shots. Engage is a weird one because most people won't ask about Kinematica but there was no reason to put the other Su-Jian into Suppressive Fire. Where he was there was no way to prevent something shooting him in the back with every Order, instead it would have been best to just run away or not even play offensively and just pick up the Holiday Box.

Finally I didn't like the Fireteam positioning much, they were very safe but moving them was pretty hard. I think I'd have opted for a safer, flank position on the ground so they could sweep down on me, as it was they were underused. I also don't love the Fireteam Core and Su-Jian being in the same Group, they're both super Order hungry. It feels reasonable to swap them with the CSU, they won't have many Orders but you then get more mileage out of the Duo. Since the Su-Jian are also fast and have access to a variety of ranges 3 Orders is fine for getting a few Face to Face Rolls and keeping them safe to move into Group 1 once the Fireteam Core dies off. Even if they go down you use the Sophotect to pick them up and resume normal play next turn.


Moving back to my experience, I quite like the list as it is. I'm not sure whether I should have two Kamael Forward Observers or drop one for a Makaul. Having only two Makauls makes them very precious some games but I think it's a reasonable number unless I'm getting battered. In general I seem to be taking smarter engagements and playing towards the Mission a bit better, my positioning is still weak though. All the tools I need feel like they're lining up, I just have to make better use of them.