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.

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