As a StarCo player, you will undoubtedly be using the speculative fire skill more often than most, and while it may seem like an incredibly powerful skill that should be the cornerstone of your attack plan, I think it’s important to take a step back and look at how effective it really is (or isn’t).
It’s no stretch to say that with a fully linked Emily Handelman that StarCo has the most dangerous spec fire game in Infinity. She’s BS13, benefitting from the fireteam BS bonus, and has an xvisor to mitigate some range penalties for further shots. This means that at worst she’s looking for 7s out to 48″ and at best is looking for 13s between 8-16″. Hitting someone on a 13, or even a 10 with their only response being a dodge seems like a very tempting proposal, but it’s still only 1 die vs 1 die, and they still get a save afterwards unless you rolled a crit. The odds are not as favorable as you might initially think.
A ~36% success rate is far from ideal, and this is against a trooper with poor PH and without sixth sense and in a range that likely involves moving Emily and the fireteam up the table. Once you start piecing together a more typical scenario, it gets even worse.
Now we’re looking at a just under 20% success rate. Throwing one of your potentially 10 orders at a 20% chance of success is far from efficient, and barring a incredibly juicy target (or an obvious LT), a hail mary or having an order or two with nothing better to do, you’re better off using them elsewhere.
If you manage to get a target in the targeted state (which can be easier with StarCo than elsewhere via hacking and repeater networks) the odds jump up pretty significantly, but then you’re talking larger order investment that involves dicey 1 die vs 1 die rolls before you even start lobbing grenades. It’s something to keep in mind for sure, but should never be your promenint strategy.
So if the odds are so abysmal, what’s the point?
Like many other things in Infinity, the psychological factor and mere presence of some units can shape the battlefield and influence your opponents decisions. If your opponent has any experience playing against Emily, they will take extra time to make sure that none of their troops are too clumped up to provide juicy targets. Chances are also good that Emily, or at least the fireteam she is in, will become a priority target. You can use this to your advantage in a number of ways. One specific tactic is if the table you’re playing at favors one DZ over the other heavily as far as areas where you can deploy in total cover. If you choose deployment, and force your opponent to deploy their forces where total cover is more scarce, they may be forced to clump their models up more than they would like, or end up leaving them exposed.
Your opponent may also be so focused on making sure they aren’t leaving a juicy spec fire target that they forget to cover all their angles for AD to approach, which you can then exploit with Hellcats and/or Raoul.
Beyond the mind game side of things, having the ability to spec fire as a fallback plan when things have gone south is always phenomenal to have. It means you always have an option, even if the odds aren’t phenomenal, and it’s an option that could potentially shift things back in your favor very quickly with a bit of luck. There are also times where if you can eliminate a single ARO piece, you could potentially save yourself numerous orders. Throwing a single order or two at trying to take it out with spec fire may be worth it if it saves you 3-4+ orders down the road.
Lastly, it doesn’t happen incredibly often, but every once in a while you’ve got an order and nothing to do with it. Spec fire gives you a reasonable use for that order with little to no risk and large potential gains.
Whatever you do, do not chase the dragon and keep dumping orders into speculative shots in the hopes of success. Determine how many orders you actually have to spend on shots before you start and stick to that number. Emily is a force to be reckoned with, but she can rob you of your most important resource if you don’t keep things in check.