Friday, June 14, 2024
Battle Reports

Active Depletion

By the borisgreymenace

Overview

  • Mission: Extract and Escape
  • Forces: Tunguska Jurisdictional Command versus Morat Aggression Force (300)
  • Deploy First: Tunguska
  • First Turn: Tunguska

The first tournament of the new year has arrived and it begins with this custom mission. Designed by Toasty, Extract and Escape is intended to ensure there is no inherent advantage to turn order with shifting objectives that change over the course of the game. And but for the data tracker selection, it does away with classifieds, HVTs, and other extras that are present in the season.

Custom missions are intimidating to plan for, because even though the design notes trace its pedigree to Mindwipe, Panic Room, and Supplies, it only resembles those missions for a turn, so you can’t just take a particular list build or watch these missions played and assume that it will translate into success. And since Infinity is a game that rewards a lot of theory crafting and list refinement–it’s guaranteed I will spend more tweaking in Army than playing the actual game. So I opened up a new tab and began throwing together the likely suspects.

List design for me in TJC has centered around a defensive Securitate core led by a Grenzer with an Interventor Lt to maximize my chance to win the lieutenant roll. Without going into the self-aggrandizing gore of writing up nine list iterations, my primary thinking centered around convincing myself to move away from that archetype. It’s good for a lot of reasons, Grenzer marksmanship is a good shooter, sixth sense Interventor is reasonably well protected from hacking threats and can lay down some spotlights, and the Securitate being veteran is as close to CoC as I can get. But looking at the mission made me want Puppets to do the dirty work of scoring since they don’t risk orders but can do the thing in each round without issue as well as Hecklers for advanced deployment and camo threat projection along with a Szally and Stempler with their extra orders. So I ended up pairing this core team down to just the basics for me, four-man Securitate (sixth sense is still important to me) with a feuerbach and paramedic and Lt plus decoy so the rest of the toys could fit in. I debated guided missile but I would have to put in a true hacker and on balance felt that doing that plus Szally was ultimately at cross purposes. So I just keep the killer hacking potential to contest being possessed and hope that a turn 2 or maybe even turn 3 Reaktion Zond will have a chance to be dominant on defense.

Open in Army

In terms of planning, I wanted to move on from visualizing to actually getting some practice in. My regular opponent was out and it was the night before, so I just booted up TTS and picked an Acon netlist. Better at shooting with threat vectors of a Tikbalang, Bulleteer Spitfire, Peacemaker HSG, and Regular Sapper/Sniper in a core link and chock full of specialists with full order pools to back it up, I figured this would test my list in several ways as well as giving me a chance to work out the mechanics of scoring. As an exercise, I think there’s some value here, but I’m not sure it really translated onto the table. An actual test game against a live opponent would have been better. But the upshot was it taught me something about deployment (give Szally a place to fail guts to) and helped me learn the scoring pretty well. None of that would help me in the end, but that’s not necessarily a failure of the exercise as much as failure in praxis and some first game jitters.

My strategy ended up being fairly straightforward–go first. Use the Puppets to capture an antenna and/or Stempler to grab another, hopefully two on turn one to lock out a point since dominating in round two would be impossible. Retreat if possible to preserve assets. Kill anything standing with Szally. On turn two do some more killing and chuck either the Stempler in suppressive fire and/the Puppet BSG into the room, maybe supported by a FastPanda or still camo’d jammer Heckler just outside to isolate anything that wants to dominate, if the opportunity is available, but otherwise assume I’ll get no points. Then on turn three send Szally and the remaining Puppet or any of the 6″+ movers to go grab the cores and hide.

Open in Army

Deployment

I think I might have actually won the Lt order here. It’s been so long since I have won that it feels like it should have registered more clearly, but it’s not so important. I spend a command token to reserve two units, holding Szally and the Puppetmaster back.

My opponent, George, is playing Morats meaning that I need to be careful of the Rasyat but don’t really expect it for the mission (as opposed to something like Mindwipe). But with the ‘tate team, 360 visor Warcor and Reakton Zond, as well as a Puppet master and MBH to guard corners, I feel ok about containing sudden DZ threats. Less so about Hungries and Daturazi rushing forward.

But my biggest issue on examining the table is a sense that I actually have “the bad side.” My left hand console cannot be reached without being visible to the enemy deployment zone. Same but to a lesser degree with the right side. We’re playing the Strompost Alpha table which we play so that the buildings obscure TAG height, so there’s no straightforward way to rush the consoles and I have no smoke (or white noise) to cover an advance. So as I’m assessing the table, I realize that it’s going to be really hard for me to score on turn one, especially since consoles require a specialist to activate. Szally can shoot open some gaps but that’s about it. From my end, I can only cover one approach to a console. So the plan as it begins to form is to use the Securitate feuerbach to cover the right hand console cross table with the MBH to overlap the short range gap and access from the paramedic to bring him back if he only goes unconscious. The TR bot on top to cover both sides of the panic room, and then put down the flashpulse bot in cover (mistake) and position the Clockmaker and Zondbot in such a way as to provide repair coverage on both sides. The Stempler went on the left hand edge of my DZ so that I can use its tacaware and climbing plus to get that console. The Hecklers would go down so that the killer hacker could make a run on the left hand console if necessary and the jammer would be on the right to jam stuff up (I forget, of course, that most Morats are Veteran and immune to isolation). My thought is for the puppets to cover the middle and Szally to cover the right flank, climb up on stuff, and blast away with the HRMC’s great ranges. The MBH rolls a 20, an HMG, which is nice. I pass deployment to George to see what he’s bringing.

The Morat list has a couple of surprises and not so surprises. Counter deploying me on the left is a core link of a Vanguard, Vanguard Paramedic, Yaogat Sniper, Katok HRL, Dartok hacker with the Kaitok standing overlooking a lot of the table. On the levels beneath them is the first haris led by Anyat with a Rindak and the dual chainrifle Kaitok, supported by a Daturazi. On the right flank, a second haris of the dual chain Kaitok, Rindak, and Raktorak are hanging out with a Gaki. I think a T-Drone is the reserve, which is an interesting choice given that Morats playing the missile trick are uncommon as far as I know. I think an Ikadron rounds out his list.

Seeing that Kaitok HRL commanding basically the entire table throws me and I decide to switch up my reserves, putting the Szally out (but in cover) to oppose it and putting the Puppets down on the right instead of the center to get the console. I would think this is a mistake but with the benefit of hindsight it might actually have been the right move, undermined by different mistakes. Regardless, we shake hands and start the game.

Turn 1

Top of 1 – Tunguska

First order of business is to shoot that Kaitok down. We go for three exchanges in a row. I’m at bad range, looking for 11s with the Kaitok in cover and if I remember correctly, George says that with big team he’s up BS +2 minus my cover for -3 for net 11s. We then proceed to roll five dice to two and offset with critical 11s for the first two rolls, and then on the third he scores another crit 11. For anyone who’s keeping track, we shouldn’t have the same target numbers, and I’ll cop to some sour grapes here–I probably should have won these first two exchanges and deleted the Kaitok. Not knowing the HRL rangebands was devastating for me here, because instead of winning the exchange I take a wound and basically have keep fighting or cede this commanding view of the table to the Kaitok for the rest of the game. Since time travel is literally impossible, I will try and spend my energy coming to terms with the fact that both me and my opponent are entitled to forget things and make mistakes, and maybe take some solace in the comforting lie that if only this one thing changed then the game was in the bag. Truthfully, we never get to know how things might have been. Maybe there were 9s that George rolled that would have been crits anyway, but I just didn’t clock them. Regardless, Szally is wounded and I keep having this fight until she goes unconscious.

So, it’s now desperate times with my TAG down on my first turn. I try to finagle the Puppets up the side to grab the console, making my second critical error and forgetting that the infinitely high panic room would have obscured a slightly more circuitous approach that might have allowed me to secure a console. We both forgot about it and the result is that the puppet FO goes down, meaning I no longer have a specialist on that side and in the first group who can secure the right hand console. Plan C is to send my heckler KHD on the left hand side to grab the very Kaitok HRL exposed console. This is peak desperation. I know it’s going to die but am putting the fate of two objective points in the hand of a WIP 13 roll. The Kaitok succeeds on the discover and the Heckler fails the WIP roll in the next order and dies. My last ditch effort is the Stempler, who climbs in the shadow of the tower to try and kill off the Kaitok with its combirifle. Anyat’s Kaitok has line of sight and drops two flammenspear on the Stempler, but it holds strong and survives all incoming ordinance. Durable is not the same as effective though. Even when it wins the exchange, the Kaitok laughs off the puny rifle shots and stays in place. Eventually, I have to go prone but at least the Stempler is alive and one set of flammenspear is unloaded. I don’t have the orders to run it down the side of the building and get the console, so I have to end first turn without having scored any points.

Bottom of 1 – Morats

George starts off with a full pool of orders which is how I internalize an ineffective turn one. The Dat starts with its impetuous order and runs up to throw smoke. We talk through some lines of fire for the Yaogat to take on the Reaktion Zond and he places the smoke where we agree he can get line of sight with the MSV2. The team spends a few orders moving up and eventually lines up the shot with double action rounds and deletes the TR bot off the board. This frees up Anyat and team to walk up and secure the left hand console and score three points. On the right hand side he throws the Gaki under the bus (first kill with the feuerbach!) to trigger the ARO from my Securitate, thinking that the feuerbach will unload so that he can take it on with the other Kaitok’s flammenspear, but when he realizes that I can shoot back still we unwind the order. Instead, he takes the big team up and drops a pitcher with the Dartok and spotlights the feuerbach. This allows the T-Drone to eliminate him so that the Raktorak haris can secure the second console. He spends his last few orders repositioning and then passes the turn back to me.

Turn 2

Top of 2 – Tunguska

Well, the good news is that I weathered the storm pretty well. I lost more units in my active turn 1 than reactive. The bad news is that I am completely out of position to score the central room and probably cannot weather whatever gets thrown at me, but I’ll have to try. Time to regroup.

First thing I do is spend an order to dismount Szally’s pilot. Though I lost the order I still have a KHD who can handle the Dartok, which is in the Stempler’s repeater range. I drop it with Trinity in that order and break the core fireteam. Second thing I do is stand up the Stempler with its tacaware order and put three shots into the Yaogat, who is a real mensch about it and dies. The Kaitok HRL deletes the Stempler.

The rest of my orders are now about getting the last remaining puppet into the panic room. Pumpkinhead climbs down from the ladder it’s hanging out on and takes the route that would have been best for turn 1 towards the panic room. Along the way, I see the Kaitok and get to take some shots at it. Despite B4 AP/Shock it either takes one or zero wounds and passes guts to get out of line of fire. This gives me enough orders to get the bot into the panic room and go into suppressive fire behind some scenery. I can’t cover the whole room but it is enough to require orders to dislodge. I move up the Heckler Jammer but can’t quite get the confrontation I want and end up leaving him just out of LoF. I spend what’s let in group two trying to move the Warcor to somewhere where he can get a meaningful ARO and not die immediately. He ends up in the wind but such is a life of a 3pt ARO piece. I pass the turn.

Bottom of 2 – Morats

With something in the room, George is forced to dislodge me. He uses the Dat to impetuous up and drop smoke, and basically take the long way around the room, dodging as second skill to prevent the ARO. Eventually, he lines up the Puppetbot with the Dat and beserks in, killing it and dying for the trouble. Then Anyat’s team moves up to secure the room while the other Kaitok haris covers the right hand console. The Vanguard and Paramedic go into suppressive fire and George scores another 3 points.

Turn 2

Top of 2 – Tunguska

It’s the last gasp for anything at this point. In turn 3, anyone can grab a console and the only anyone I have left is the Motorized Bounty Hunter. I move my remaining orders into group one and see how far that can take me. The first order is on the Clockmaker to gizmokit kill the Szally off the board. Not great but I would have rather leaned into a 1W TAG to grab a console than a 1W bike. The rest of the orders are basically move-shoot to get the bike into position. It takes on the Kaitok chainrifles and Vanguard in split burst, winning basically all the confrontations downing the Paramedic. The MBH swings out to see the Kaitok HRL, now on single shot against her B4, with both at bad range. Predictably, she dies. I move up the Securitate paramedic to medikit kill her for good and then spend the rest of the orders shuffling the Heckler to get the right hand console in ZoC in order to jam a Morat (because I keep forgetting that Veteran doesn’t care about isolation). With no cores in my control, let alone DZ, I am forced to end turn 3 scoreless.

Bottom of 2 – Morats

It’s pretty perfunctory here. Anyat’s Kaitok grabs a core and retreats to the Morat DZ. The other Kaitok grabs the other, gets jammered, laughs, and walks that back to the Morat DZ. At this point, the game is basically secured and no easy kills remaining. Having killed only the Dartok, Yaogat, Daturazi, Gaki, and Vanguard Paramedic, army points lay in George’s favor making it a 10-0 Morat victory.

Post Game Analysis

Hey, losing is no fun. A complete blowout is less fun! But there are probably more lessons in defeat than in victory.

I let my nerves get the worst of me on turn one and kinda blew the game as a result. Missing the safe route for the puppets to the right hand console was an error that I can’t blame on anyone else. Hoping that the Heckler can make a roll in one was more wish than strategy. Basically, between some jitters and losing the Szally, I just went from bad to worse decisions and threw away the game instead of just repositioning for the next turn. 

I would also be remiss if I chalked the loss up to my opponent’s recollection of his range bands. There’s a lot to remember in Infinity and ultimately it’s a game of trust. I forgot that the puppet marksman rifle had BS Shock, and we ended up having to unwind a move by the Vanguard paramedic to revive it. George assumed but didn’t check that the Feuerbach was disposable, meaning that the Gaki died for nothing. Everyone forgets or is on the wrong side of some mod stacking or rules interaction. Yeah, losing a 72pt Szally over a 5pt Gaki is way worse in terms of consequences, but placing undue faith into dice rolls with only 55% chance of success is at least just as (or mostly) responsible for its death than a miscalculation of BS skill.

Which brings us to the things I could control. My plan was to put Szally on the flank and the puppets in the middle. Despite knowing what I do in hindsight about what I think our target numbers should have been, my take away at the time was I should have stuck to this plan and put Szally on the right flank, taken the fight in the shadow of the panic room, and tried to stack odds and rangebands so I was on flat 14s. Even barring that, I could have positioned Szally to guts out of the way of the Kaitok, like I practiced. Or spent more studying the table before rolling the dice. That might not have won me the game, but it would have scored me three points. And I think therein lies something I really need to focus on. Winning the round was not fighting against a hard ARO piece. It was scoring consoles. Putting that on the shoulder of my Stempler or Puppetbots and taking a moment to step back and evaluate the gaps in my opponent’s coverage of the terrain were how I should have spent my initial orders, and then invested in Szally fight only after I had my points. The Kaitok is hard to dislodge as a piece that I don’t think there’s a world where I don’t have to try to kill it, but there is one where I secure points first and take fights second, which is something I need to remind myself of.

That said, I think there were some things that I did well. Practice on TTS in lieu of a live game is inferior, but it did give me enough idea of how I should have deployed, and I really should have honored that instinct. I also feel that I recovered decently well in turn two and was able to blunt some of George’s threat and put myself in a position to score. It didn’t really translate into points or any advantage in turn three, but at that point things had snowballed so bad I no longer had tools I knew how to use. And maybe that’s the note to end on. I had the right tools, but poorly utilized, and I was humbled by it. But I now know to take an HRL fight outside of 32 inches.

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