Mission Breakdown Ep. 2: Classified Objectives

BUT CLASSIFIED OBJECTIVES AREN'T A MISSION!!!!

Yes but they're worth discussing, at least in my mind. As I've been going over some of the Missions that see regular play I've noticed that there's an interesting mingling of Missions that have Classifieds, their number of Classifieds, if they punish Specialists, and what the best Classifieds to target are. So let's dive in and break this down!



Breaking Down Classifieds By Numbers

As most people will know there are 20 Classified Objectives in the ITS Season X Deck, this is so if you didn't buy the deck you can simply roll to generate (pro-consumer move by Corvus Belli). Let's start by detailing who can accomplish Classified Objectives:

Hackers: 5* (2 are dependent on access to the Spotlight Program)
Veteran, Elite, or Chain of Command Trooper: 3
Medium or Heavy Infantry: 1
Forward Observer: 3
Engineer: 3
D-Charges: 1
Doctor/Paramedic: 3
Multispectral Visor, Biometric Visor, or Sensor: 1
Anyone: 4
DataTracker: 1
Overlap: 4 (Spotlight and Forward Observers)

Corvus Belli was smart to make it so that there's no overwhelming advantage with any particular type of Specialist although Hacker is sitting on top, provided you have Spotlight which requires a Hacking Device (no other Hacking Devices have CLAW-1 Programs). Without access to that Hackers still win and are often the most useful Specialists during play so I can say with reasonable certainty that Hackers are on top of the heap.

The remainder are quite interesting in that "Anyone" can also do 4/20 Objectives, another is tied to Equipment, another tied to Medium/Heavy, and finally a whopping three are related to Veteran/Elite/Chain of Command designations. That adds up to 9/20 Classifieds that pretty much any Faction can have access to while also using a wide range of builds.

It's worth remembering that for each Classified Objective in a Mission you draw two cards and select one, giving you even better odds of hitting something you can do. You can also trade a Classified Objective for HVT: Secured in nearly all Missions which would go in the "Anyone" category.

Past Hackers all the Specialists are well-represented although the particulars of what each Specialist can require you to do varies wildly. It's not enough to just play by the numbers, let's take a look at the nitty-gritty.



I Have to Do What?!

I'm not going to write out each and every Classified Objective as they're freely available in the ITS Season X Packet but it is worth going through them as categories. This way we can get a general idea of what a chosen Specialist actually needs to do in order to earn those points.


Hackers

By and large you'll be passing WIP Checks against either an enemy Trooper or the enemy HVT. The one exception is a piece of Terrain that is entirely in the enemies Deployment Zone with the Hacker in B2B contact.

Some of these can be accomplished with a Repeater, some can't. It depends on if you're making a WIP Roll or actually using a Hacking Program. Anything targeting a Trooper can target a model in a Null State so Unconscious models are fair game as well as being a much easier target.

Overall Hackers are often some of the most difficult to get done because they largely can't be done via Repeater and those that can require the Spotlight Program. Hackers are often quite squishy so delivering them is an issue, Fireteams or Marker States will mitigate this. Regular Hacking Devices are also typically on lower end models such as Line Troopers, this can reduce the pool of possible Classified Objectives even with a Hacker as finding a deliverable, Hacking Device model is a rarer find.


Doctors/Paramedics

Healthcare professionals will find one of the easier set of Objectives to accomplish, the most obvious being to recover a model from the Unconscious state. While this can be difficult at times against opponents with Shock/Viral most players won't double tap a corpse unless it's a very valuable Doctor target. It's also possible to engineer an Unconscious model in times of need by just walking into a single shot ARO and declaring Idle as the second skill.

The other two involve getting into contact with the enemy HVT. This is stricter than just getting into Zone of Control but Doctors/Paramedics are popular inclusions for Fireteams and there are also a surprising amount of Airborne Deployment and Marker State options. Although this ends up being a bit harder than the Hacking Objectives the role of Doctors is different, you don't have to worry about having the wrong Hacking Device, and one of the Classifieds can be done using G: Servant which is a great delivery method.


Forward Observers

As one would expect given their limited role in a game (ignoring Classified Objectives) Forward Observers have by far the easiest set of Objectives. They're all shared with Hackers using the Spotlight Program which is quite nice because you can tackle these from multiple angles if you possess both types of Specialists.

Even with the overlap, Forward Observers are much better at accomplishing Telemetry, Mapping, and HVT: Designation than Hackers are. The reason for this is almost every Camo and TO Camo model has a Forward Observer Profile, as do many Airborne Deployment Troopers. Since delivery is the biggest obstacle to those three FOs get around it by hiding. FOs are also on Line Troopers, a popular inclusion for Fireteams in Sectorials.

Forward Observers balance a small pool with the easiest to accomplish pool overall, making them a great (and cheap) inclusion.


Engineer

Engineers are EXACTLY the same as Doctors/Paramedics but there are a few small differences. For one Engineers are on the rarer side for Specialists and generally less useful, you have to have a few REMs or be very afraid of Isolated State to take one. They're also often stand-alone models so moving them around near HVTs and the like can be Order inefficient.

A boon for Engineers is that they almost always have D-Charges which enables them to do Sabotage, one of the easiest Classifieds. Any Faction with Smoke or who can put the Engineer into a Fireteam can likely get that done and D-Charges are on the rarer side in the game as a whole.


Veteran, Elite Troops and Chain of Command

Time for the unsung heroes. Veteran and Elite Troops are more common than people think because outside of Classified Objectives it doesn't really matter what Classification a model is. ITS also makes Characters fall under this umbrella so every Faction has at least some access to these Profiles, Characters are often strong choices which makes it even easier to include them.

As for what they have to do we're running the gamut here. Getting a model across the mid-line and passing a WIP Check is extremely easy. Getting a model into B2b, and keeping it there until the end of the game, with a Null State Enemy Trooper is harder but very doable. Finally Civ-Evac'ing the enemy HVT is pretty difficult, you have to get there, into B2B, and pass a WIP Check with theconsequences for failure potentially pulling the HVT into LoF.

Overall these Classifieds ride the middle for me, Net-Undermine is very easy but the other two are highly board and game state dependent. This balances out with not having to pay extra points for the models, having at least one model who can meet these requirements is an easy inclusion and betters your odds of being able to do the Classified.


Miscellaneous

These are the super weird ones, requiring either specific Equipment or Medium/Heavy Infantry. Not all Factions have easy access to MSV and many have no access to Sensor/Biometric Visor and many Factions don't build well with Medium/Heavy Infantry. This is balanced by the Classifieds being fairly easy to do, see a pattern?

Identity Check massively rewards Sensor but MSV can do in a pinch, getting into LoF often goes hand in hand with ZoC but not always. MSV2 models typically hang back and shoot but MSV1 is often on front line troopers who can more easily get to the HVT. Biometric Visor is very rarely taken and one of the rarest pieces of Equipment to have so it's fairly easy to ignore.

Follow-Up is one of the easiest cards in the deck, just requiring a wide range of models to get the HVT within ZoC and pass WIP. Almost every Faction can do this at no cost, even Tohaa! Having some delivery Smoke is appreciated but using Terrain and clearing a path works in a pinch.


Anyone

Rounding out our deck are the "anyone" options, this just means almost any model can get these done but certain models are better at the job. In particular CC Combatants shine here as that's the only way to get Predator and they'll often be near Unconscious models for Extreme Prejudice and In Extremis Recovery. For the last two most models are fine to do them although, as always, models that can deliver themselves are best as Unconscious Troopers are often in the friendly Deployment Zone or close to midfield.

The last is Rescue and it's probably the weirdest Objective. Fortunately it's pretty easy, as I mentioned friendly casualties tend to fall in your Deployment Zone or near mid-field so picking them up and moving them isn't too hard. As always Smoke really helps avoid AROs but Marker State is still useful, you just have to reveal to save your friend. The additional benefit of being able to grab two points from Rescue also makes it very attractive, that's probably why I've never drawn it. :P



Putting It All Together

So what can we learn from my endless typing? Well there's a few takeaways, for one Hackers are far and away the best Specialists not only for Classified Objectives but general game play. Needing a regular Hacking Device to turn on all the Classifieds is a bummer, Killer Hackers and Hacking Device Plus are vastly preferred, but you can cover those with a Forward Observer if needed. Speaking of FOs, while they aren't the most useful Specialist they have very easy Objectives and are often great button pressers because they're cheap and often come with their own delivery method.

Engineers are surprisingly weak because while they share the same type of Classifieds with Doctors it's harder to deliver them and they're less common. REMs are also prime fodder for double-taps, especially Total Reaction REMs, so picking them up can be hard against a seasoned opponent. The inclusion of D-Charges helps a bit but given their weak role in most games, on their own merits, I'd usually leave an Engineer at home.

Doctors don't have the best deck either but benefit from Fireteam inclusion and a more useful in-game role, although your mileage may vary. I wouldn't take a Doctor or Paramedic for Classifieds, they have to benefit the list and probably the Mission itself to boot.

Finally it's clear that you can often get by with a Hacker and some Forward Observers. That gives you five Classifieds right off the bat and then another five that most armies can do, four that anyone can do, and one that's available if you have a DataTracker. Adding that up you're looking at between 14-15 viable Classifieds on top of HVT: Secured and two draws from the deck and taking the card of your choice.

But Verso, I don't have good Hackers! No need to fear fellow Tohaa Player (only half joking), just make sure you can get the Equipment and Trooper based ones done and you still have strong odds. Adding a Doctor/Paramedic is going to be your best bet instead of a Hacker or if the the Mission only has one Classified and an HVT you can even leave a lot of that at home. In actual play the person who wins often does so with a dominant board position which means that HVT: Secured is very viable and you'll always have access to it.

What really matters about Classified Objectives is not how you build your list to pursue them but how quickly you accomplish them in game. Specialists are a prime target in many Missions because they can interact with Consoles or Antennas, if you put the Classified off until late you might not have the appropriate models left. Generally I like to focus on HVT: Secured from the get-go or whatever the actual Classified is, less to worry about later when your Order Pools are dwindling. If you don't feel confident about getting Classified Objectives done fast, or keeping your Specialists safe, then invest in some redundancy. Most Factions have cheap Hackers and almost all have cheap Forward Observers, bring more than one!



Punishment

 Certain Missions, such as Firefight, award points for killing more Specialists than your opponent while also challenging you to get Classifieds done. This is where your choice will matter the most, you can't just spam FOs and cheap Hackers as easily because you'll likely lose them at some point, trading points on the Mission for your opponent gaining points AND attrition.

My preference for these Missions is either very tough Specialists or very deliverable ones. Marker States shine the brightest here but Heavy Infantry and the like also works. What you don't want to do is hide the Specialists and then make a mad dash on Turn 3, by then you might have run out of Orders, be in Loss of Lieutenant, Retreat, etc. Remember that the bulk of Classified Objectives require you to get out there and do something which means reprisal is waiting.

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That's all I have on Classified Objectives until ITS Season XI but hopefully this showed they aren't something to be scared of. I don't consider Classified Objectives when making the majority of my army lists, I need models to press buttons anyways so it typically sorts itself out.

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