Happy April, Bromads! It’s time to strap on your swords and get up close and personal, because this month’s mission is all about close combat!
This mission is very open-ended! All we’re asking for this month is for you to leverage close combat on the table. You don’t have to make half of your list close combat specialists like Raoul, Massacre, Jaguars, etc. If you use an Alguacil to tie up something important for a turn in close combat, that counts too! Think about how to use close combat to remove opponent’s troopers, force a bad face to face roll, drain orders from your opponent, or just put your opponent in a weird situation that throws them off. We’re Nomads! It’s what we do!
Write in about how it all went by sending an email to [email protected] to be entered to win a blister! Here’s the Bromad Academy Battle Report Template if you’d like to use it. It’s certainly not required, but it does make things easier if you want to include pictures with your battle reports. If you do, please use Google Docs to share your report with the above email address, it’ll make things easier for me.
Pictures aren’t required, and neither are battle reports. If you just have some general thoughts about how to leverage close combat in your games, we’d love to hear that too. As always, being a Nomad player is optional. If you don’t play Nomads, we still want to hear from you, and you can still win stuff! Like last month, I’ll ask questions and publish our conversations.
First off, let’s admit that Close Combat (CC) is a strange interaction in Infinity, which is primarily a game of shooting things. Careful observers will note that I didn’t write this article until after I got 10+ games in with my JSA… and there might be a reason for that. There’s a fair amount to cover with just the CC skills, so let’s start there, and I’ll move on to tactics in the mid-month update!
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first so we can get straight to the judo chopping and reverse flying monkey grabs a peach kicks.
Scene 1 – Getting Buff
Here’s a list of the various Close Combat (CC) skills available to Infinity Troopers, along with the relevant mods to target number, burst, and damage. Things that have caveats (i.e. they’re not always applicable) are italicized. Some skills also have additional effects, and they are also italicized. In general, you have to be actually CCing someone to use these skills. If you’re dodging or shooting, even if your opponent has ended up in base to base with you, you can’t use these (with the exception of i-Kohl in some cases).
|Skill||User Mod||Enemy Mod||Burst||Damage|
It’s clear that there are A LOT of skills. Let’s not worry about the details, or we’ll get overwhelmed pretty quickly. Let’s start with the statement that “We should always choose the best level of a skill for the current context.” In some cases, the choice is obvious, e.g. with i-Kohl. If you have Level 2, there’s no reason to choose Level 1. In pretty much all of the other cases, the difference between skill levels isn’t as cut and dry.
So, here’s my suggested chunking breakdown of priorities for you, looking at the most common case: a CC specialist fighting a non-CC specialist.
- Burst is Best – Giving you an extra die in CC is really really good. More chances to crit, more potential wounds, etc.
- Positive Mods – Giving a boost to your CC target number, especially if it’s significantly over 20 already, is also really really good, because it dramatically increases your crit chance.
- Negative Mods – Negative mods keep your model safer, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then choose skills with negative mods. It also increases the likelihood that you’ll win the CC by giving you a larger “window” of victory in the face to face.
- Damage Bonus – In general, this is reserved for hitting things that don’t hit back and have high ARM. Utterly useless for monofilament.
There are of course edge cases with this priorization. For example, let’s look at MA3 versus MA4. The MA4 case is more likely to cause wounds, but you are also more likely to take wounds. MA3 is safer, i.e. you’re less likely to take wounds due to the -3 to your opponent and your own increased chance to crit or just to roll higher than your opponent. Thanks to Obidiah (nehimiah) for this edge case.
In the less common case where you’ve got two competent CC specialists fighting one another, I’ll give you an easy “rule” to remember, courtesy of natetehaggresar:
Push your CC stat as high above 20 as possible, and push theirs as low as possible, in that order.
There’s a lot of subtlety in the probabilities and skills that we’re glossing over here. Things change dramatically when Total Immunity, Natural Born Warrior, multi-wound models, and Berserk get involved, for example. That’s okay, we’re looking for some coarse grained chunking here to reduce cognitive load. You can evaluate edge cases and do a deep dive post game if you want. Using this chunking, you only need to remember the exceptions, which will really help. And besides, you need to have a framework of “rules” to be able to break them, right? Hopefully by reducing the whole mess of that chart to four bullets, it’ll clear up CC skill choice some. You still have to reference the chart, but this should help you make the choice at the game table.
Scene 2 – Cruel Master
So let’s talk about some of the skills that have special cases. There are a few, and some are more straightforward than others. Let’s do the easiest ones first:
- Protheion – Basically the user of this skill is some sort of space vampire. It hits BTS instead of ARM, and for every failed BTS roll on a model with wounds (gotta drink that blood, no blood in a robot), you get an extra wound, up to a max of two extra wounds over your normal wound count. You can also drink the blood of unconscious models during a coup de grace. Nom nom nom. Gross.
- Poison – If your opponent has a wounds attribute, for every ARM savethey take, they have to make a BTS save as well. Pretty rare, but worth thinking about.
- Assault – Basically this lets you declare a special long skill order. If you have LoF to your target, and they are within a full Move-Move of you (i.e. within 8″ for a 4-4 model), you can run into close combat and punch them. To make up for all that scenery-chewing screaming and waving your sword about as you run in, you take a -3 to your CC roll. Do note that you have to check to see if you have enough movement right after declaration! This lets the opponent shoot you in the face or CC back depending on whether or not you make it into base to base with them, i.e. they may delay their ARO till you check move distance.
- Natural Born Warrior (NBW) – There are basically two versions of this skill, and you have to declare which one you’re choosing when engaging in CC, as they are mutually exclusive. Mode B is the one in the table above. You get a +3 to your roll, and +1 damage. Easy. Use this one if you’re fighting scrubs. Mode A means your opponent can’t use any CC skills, and you get no bonuses. If your opponent is also using NBW Mode A, nothing happens, and you just fight CC stat to CC stat. Models may also Assault you normally, as that is about movement. The -3 is still applied to your opponent in that case. NBW Mode A doesn’t cancel CC bonus skills like Stealth, V: Courage, etc.
Okay, let’s talk about some of the weirder skills, and when you might want to use them.
- i-Kohl – Basically the user smells really, really good. So good that it’s distracting, so if the opposing model has a wounds attribute, you can use this skill. If they have STR instead, then they are a cold, unfeeling robot with no room for love in their programming and i-Kohl doesn’t work. Also, because you smell so good, i-Kohl works for Dodge in CC as well as Engage into CC, unlike other CC skills!
- Berserk – Berserk is modeled as two CC modes, like NBW. One is called “Berserk Attack” and the other is called “Assault.” This is to enforce mutual exclusion, which I guess makes sense. Assault is literally just the Assault skill, which I talk about above. Berserk Attack, however, grants you a whopping +6 to your CC skill, and breaks the normal face-to-face mechanic, meaning both you and your opponent get a normal roll with whatever mods you get in isolation. Basically you’re using Berserk when you’re throwing something away to trade, like a Galwegian, or you have a high-likelihood of surviving whatevers coming back at you, like on a Domaru. You’re basically looking for a crit to kill whatever you’re fighting. On a platform like a Domaru, you can crit on an eight and up!
- Martial Arts 5 – There are very few things with MA5. Mushashi and Shinobu, basically. I like to think of this as a burst mirror. If you’re in base to base with 4 models in your active turn, you can roll one die versus each of them. If it’s your reactive turn and someone’s rolling 4 dice at you, you get to roll 4 dice back. With Mushashi and Shinobu already being stupidly good at CC and the -6 to your opponent, this is pretty scary.
- Dual Wield – Sometimes models have multiple swords, because someone at CB read the Book of Five Rings or something. This lets you combine the ammo types of each of the swords. Seems pretty straightforward till you roll a crit. Which CCW do you resolve as the crit? Well, if you have an E/M CCW you have to resolve that first, and only the E/M portion, not the Normal roll applies. So if you crit with Senor Massacre, your opponent auto-fails BTS and is Immobilized/Isolated as appropriate, and then must make an ARM roll against AP ammo because Massacre carries an E/M CCW and a AP CCW. If you don’t want the E/M crit, just make sure you’re declaring that you’re not using dual-wield for that order, and choose another weapon besides the E/M CCW to use. Thankfully, E/M is the only weird case.
- Electric Pulse – You’re a ‘bot or a Moderator (yeah they have it, it’s hilarious), and you can taser your opponent in CC! If you declare this skill, you’re rolling a 7. Period. Your opponent can roll CC or PH against you, to hit you or dodge, and they’re basically rolling against your 7. One added note: your opponent can’t apply any MODs to their target number for PH or CC. For example, if you’re fighting an Oniwaban, they can’t use MA3 to give you -3 and them +3, but they can use MA4 to give themselves +1 burst. They’ll still get the stat over 20 bonus to the die roll though, as that’s not modifying your target number. If you opponent loses the face to face, they don’t get a save and go straight to Immobilized-2, which will expire after two turns and is fixable by engineers as normal.
Scene 3 – Signs of Competence
Let’s quickly go over the various weapon options available to our Infinity troopers:
- Bare-Handed – You’re engaged in some bare knuckles fisticuffs! Your damage is PH-2.
- Knife – You brought a knife to a gunfight! Your damage is PH-1, shock. You’re also silent, like Steven Seagal in the opening to Executive Decision! More on this later.
- CCW – You’ve got a proper beatstick now, and your damage is your PH, unless your CCW is special. There are many flavors of CCW, but they’re all pretty self explanatory.
- D-Charges – For some reason you’re using your demolition charges in close combat because you’re crazy. You get a -3 to your CC stat, but if you land this (and somehow keep all your fingers), it’s a DAM 14, AP+EXP hit!
- Chest Mines – You strapped a mine to your chest, presumably because you’re a Morat. You get +3 to your CC stat, and it’s a DAM 13 Shock hit.
- Pistols – You brought a gun to a knife fight! You don’t get any bonuses to burst or to CC by using a gun, but you get to use your gun’s damage instead of your bare hands or a knife if you have a bad PH score. This is generally only useful if you have a cool pistol like a viral or heavy pistol.
In general, you want to use the weapon that gives you the highest damage and the most ARM/BTS saves. Most guys that have any sort of CC skills have a full-blown CCW, not a knife, so you don’t need to worry about it. There also isn’t really a reason to use the bare-handed weapon, unless you’re a TAG and you’re punching the AC2 in Looting and Sabotaging or something. There are quite a lot of combinations of ammo types for pistols and CCWs, so I’m just going to cover the edge cases here:
- E/M and E/M2 CCWs – A hit generates a BTS save at half BTS and a regular ARM save against your PH. E/M2 generates two BTS saves, both at half BTS. The BTS save is against Isolated and if you’re a REM, HI, or TAG, IMM-2. The ARM save is against your wounds/structure. Crits apply only the effects of E/M, so Isolated or IMM-2. Getting poked by Raoul’s Escrima sticks means a TAG is frozen in place until a engineer comes to save it! E/M also works against Ariadnan HI!
- Monofilament CCW – This is a lightsaber, basically. Your PH doesn’t matter, your opponent’s ARM doesn’t matter, they just need to pass an ARM save with ARM 0 against DAM 12. If they fail, you lightsabered them in half, and they’re just straight up dead, off the table.
- Knife – Knives are silent. Sixth Sense ignores this, so beware of link teams! Basically if you don’t enter LoF, you can stab them with a normal roll. If they survive, then they get to ARO. This also applies to Warning!, so if you can knife someone from behind, their buddies don’t know about it. Straight up specops ninja stuff! TheDiceAbide has written a whole article about it: Infinity Tactics 101 – Using Stealth and Silent.
The wheels are probably turning already in your head about how to use these things. There are a lot of edge cases to consider for CC tactics. I think that warrants its own article, so I’ll save that for the mid-month update. Until then, stay tuned, get out there, and start some fights between models!
Good Hunting, Bromads!