She’s the Law

After my last game of Code One at 30 points, I really needed to collect some data on the 15 point level. Peter (Deklar) offered to throw down against me with O-12 against PanO on a tiny table! Here’s what Peter saw via my remote game setup:

Here’s what I see:

A bit more info about all of this. Basically everything is run via Skype and Open Broadcaster Studio (OBS) now instead of Zoom. I chose Skype because it provides NDI A/V streams of all call participants which I can import cleanly into the OBS compositing software instead of doing a super jank window capture and crop of the Zoom window.

I have a bunch of ancient gear lying around, which I’ve used to jury rig this mess. The easiest thing to explain is the Compositing Computer, which collects all of the camera streams, including the Skype video of my opponent, and composites them into a single video stream. I use my work phone as a wireless camera, transmitting a JPEG stream over HTTP to OBS. This is super important as it allows me to provide a clear image of whatever action is going on in the game to my opponent without having to wrestle with wires.

The compositing computer isn’t powerful enough to both do the compositing and transcoding for Twitch, so I fire an NDI stream over to my Encoding Computer (another janky old machine) which does the encoding for Twitch.

My ancient Macbook runs Skype because only the OSX and Windows versions of Skype support the NDI feature I mentioned earlier. For some inexplicable reason, my Bluetooth headset doesn’t connect to that Macbook properly, so I’m forced to dial in via my personal phone so I can communicate with my opponent.

To ensure my opponent doesn’t have to deal with the in-built lag from Twitch, I fire up Skype on the Encoding Computer and share the OBS window with my opponent. This also has the added benefit of them not having to worry about Twitch at all, unless they want to be distracted by Twitch chat.

If you want to hear a little more about this, you can check out The Dice Abide LIVE, Episode 2: Remote Presence! I’ve taken the liberty of fast forwarding for you to the appropriate section below:

Well, let’s get on with the battle report. I’ve got about one and a half Operation Kaldstrom terrain sets sitting on this 24″ x 32″ table below. It looks pretty good! A bit shiny due to the glossy mat, but that’s fine.

Overview

  • Mission: Domination (Code One)
  • Forces: PanOceania versus O-12 (15)
  • Deploy First: PanO
  • First Turn: PanO

Code One does really really strange things to your list building. There’s no loss of lieutenant, so I decided to take a brutal Alpha Strike piece in the form of an Aquila lieutenant–aside from bad dice, it will hunt down and kill just about anything I might find on the other side of the table.

Since this is an area control mission, I flooded the rest of my list with ‘bots, because they’re speedy, have a specialist option in the form of Pathfinders, and can do a great job of locking down the table with TR HMGs.

With this many ‘bots, I had to take an Engineer to repair them. I’m morally opposed to owning the old PanO support box, so I used Obadiah Hampton’s lovely zBrush sculpt of yours truly as a Monstrucker to stand in for my Machinist. Here’s his paint job, which is like looking in a mirror!

My miniature self comes with Drop Beers too, or at least the Monstrucker profile does! Even with all the filth in my list, I had some points left over, so I decided to take Gunnar just to have an excuse to build the model and because I thought Climbing+ might come in handy.

Peter had similar ideas, taking two Kytta and a Peeler as his bot package. As he had more metabags in his list than I did, he took a Doctor in addition to an Engineer. A his gunfighter, Peter chose the excellent Epsilon HMG. The rest of his list was made up of the excellent Gangbuster and PSI-Cop profiles, along with Cho to lead the way.

Unfortunately, I had some technical issues and wasn’t able to recover a usable recording from this game so I won’t be uploading it to YouTube. I had been testing some new settings for The Dice Abide LIVE, my show with Adam, and I left things in a broken state on my encoding machine during testing. Peter’s house lost power just before we started (thanks, California heat waves) so we just pushed forward. Talk about commitment to a game!

Deployment

Peter won the roll off and elected to choose deployment. After some initial confusion about which was the actual table edge (we’re not used to playing on a 2′ x 3′ table), we started deploying. I put my Sierra TR bots pretty close to one another, figuring that would drain a huge amount of orders trying to get anything through the central corridors. I put Fugazi and Pathfinders on both flanks to push forward and secure zones, and then put Gunnar on the tallest roof in my deployment zone. I figured being up there would let him move into the nearest scoring zone, and if I needed go anywhere, Climbing+ would let me get down easily.

Peter spread out in his deployment zone, contesting the central firelane with his own TR bot, then put a PSI Cop on either flank and pre-secured a zone with his Gangbuster by infiltrating it onto a roof.

I put my Aquila down on my left flank with a clear approach avenue, and Peter does the same with his Epsilon HMG on his left.

Turn 1

Top of 1 – PanO

I rocket my Aquila forward to do some damage. It takes two orders and a wound to drop the TR bot after I get there, then I try to take out the PSI Cop around the corner.

It doesn’t work, but at least I pass the Nanopulsar save. I decide to take advantage of the Aquila’s ridiculous BS and split burst three ways. I put a round into each of the PSI-Cops and the one Kytta I can see, dropping the far PSI-Cop hacker and the Kytta, but the near one doesn’t die. I pass my save against the Nanopulsar again and end out of line of fire.

I’ve got to pay attention to the objectives in this game, so I push both Fugazi and a Pathfinder forward to secure the two zones nearest to me. The Pathfinder manages to flip the near left console as well, which is handy.

Bottom of 1 – O-12

The PSI-Cop near my Aquila decides to take matters into her own hands and guns down my Aquila before taking cover behind the corner. Rude.

Peter then sets about undoing the damage I’ve done, losing his other PSI Cop to the less-then-gentle ministrations of the Lambda Doctor, but the Engineer succeeds in picking up the Peeler TR bot. Sigh.

With things sorted in his deployment zone, Peter pushes his Epsilon forward and guns down the Pathfinder I had on my left backstopping the Aquila.

The Epsilon takes out one of my TR bots and then retreats behind the red billboard before Peter passes turn.

Turn 2

We’re tied on quadrants, but I’ve got a console, so the score is 2-1.

Top of 2 – PanO

I shift my Machinist to cover the leftmost firelane where the Aquila died, repairing the downed Sierra as I do so with his Palbot.

I then jet my remaining Pathfinder up to take out Peter’s Epsilon, which I just barely manage to do against his pistol ARO. Phew!

Gunnar pops up and then back down prone and manages to take out Peter’s Doctor as well as move into the near left scoring zone.

I’ve got just enough orders to flip the far right console and retreat with my remaining Pathfinder.

Bottom of 2 – O-12

Peter’s remaining PSI Cop, convinced of her immortality, pushes my left flank, forcing my Machinist to crit-dodge into cover.

My Fugazi on that side isn’t so lucky, and I lose it to a close range burst.

The PSI Cop proves her immortality by challenging a TR bot, suffering a crit and a hit, and passing all three ARM saves.

Peter’s got nothing in his near left quadrant, so he tries to send in Cho by my Pathfinder denies this and guns down Cho with a crit.

He throws a Kytta under the bus and just manages to get it into position, securing the zone.

Turn 3

We’re tied on quadrant still, and I’ve now got two consoles, so the score is now 4-2.

Top of 3 – PanO

The PSI Cop is just unstoppable. I send in the Machinist and lose it immediately.

I risk Gunnar by popping him up and down over two orders, and the PSI Cop just shrugs off all the fire I can send her way. I stop messing around and rocket the Pathfinder forward to secure the far right zone.

I try to get lucky and have a TR bot fight, but Peter’s TR bot beats me and downs my ‘bot. With the Machinist down this is sad news indeed.

Bottom of 3 – O-12

Peter has one play, which is to use his unstoppable PSI Cop to try and tie up the game. His best option is to kill my remaining Fugazi, which would deny me a zone, and flip my near left console over to him.

He succeeds only in flipping the console, making it a

5-3 PanOceania Victory!

Post Game Analysis

Well, Code One at 15 points is really close to what Recon+ feels like. If you want to know more about that:

It feels more like a board game and less like Infinity in terms of its snappiness and movement. You really value different things in a game of Recon+ and Code One at 15 points–TR bots are extremely powerful as there simply is no way to deal with them other than directly attack them. You could move around them using terrain, but you’re basically conceding entire firelanes at that point. You can’t throw smoke at them, spec fire grenades on them, or try to outrange them with TO snipers on such a small table, you really just have to go in there with a high-quality gunfighter and chance it.

Visual modifiers are very very strong as well–I had a lot of trouble dealing with Peter’s PSI Cop. She passed a bunch of ARM saves, sure, but in most cases I was forcing only one ARM save because I’d miss 2/3 shots thanks to Mimetism -3. I think Mimetism -6 is the tool to deal with TR bots with any sort of reliability. Hackers are also a key asset to leverage in the midfield due to spotlight too, although it didn’t come up in our game.

HMGs are still relevant in the hands of an experienced player, but Spitfires are probably more generally useful on the smaller maps. One thing I really like about Code One over Recon+ is that it basically fixes a lot of the degeneracy problems that Recon+ did by just removing a lot of options. There’s no way you can pack in a Kuang Shi Controller and two Kuang Shi to power some monstrosity at 150 points, for example.

You can sort of do that with the 0.5 point flash pulse bots, but they’re literally just hunks of metal that don’t do anything as they don’t have flash pulses. They just provide cheap orders and possibly secure a zone in area control missions–a vastly different proposition than the Swiss Army Knife problem solving tool that a Kuang Shi is.

Going into this game, the following list kernel seemed incredibly appealing across a wide range of scenarios:

Three specialists, two TR bots, and 7 orders for 8.5 points. What a bargain! I don’t mind paying 2 SWC for the TR bots, as Marksman rifles and MULTI rifles can do a lot of work at the rangebands I would expect in a 15 points game.

The hidden problem though, is that the ‘bots don’t interact well with the Code One buildings. They have enough movement to squeeze up the stairs without a problem, but if you have any sort of large terrain object on the roof they won’t fit. That basically prevented me from accessing the console in the picture above with a Pathfinder–I could move up to the roof by using the new “squeeze through a gap” rules, but I couldn’t end my movement in a space that would fit my base.

Now, this could easily be solved by pushing the console to one side of the building, but it goes to show you the benefit of an S2 silhouette, especially when the ‘bots lose a lot of their utility by missing pretty much all of their N3 kit like flash pulses, Sat Lock, Sensor, Sniffers, etc. I think I’ll continue to employ this list kernel for awhile, if for not other reason than to let me use familiar tools as I explore the one or two pieces that I “salt to taste” with, i.e Gunnar and the Aquila.

I think that Peter adapted extremely quickly to the format and make it a very close game! We agreed in our post mortem that pushing the Epsilon up was a mistake, that the Gangbuster was great, and that the PSI Cop survived more because of Mimetism than anything else (see above).

I think I threaded the needle pretty well in terms of balancing objectives and killing, although I think I could’ve afforded to push a little harder on turn one with the Aquila. One thing that I don’t really like is how aggressive you’re encouraged to be with your lieutenant. It’s not that it teaches bad habits, quite the contrary–from my experiences with Nomads I think an aggressive Lieutenant is just fine. It’s more that there aren’t really any consequences to getting a free order on a powerful gunfighter than the Aquila. It’s a tough path to walk for CB, balancing a game competitively while also teaching new players new mechanics, so I don’t see it as a mistake, but more as a concession to the design constraints placed on Corvus Belli.

The more games I play (I’ve got a 30 point and now a 15 point game) of Code One, the more I’m convinced that it’s not for me as a competitive game by itself. As a Warcor using it as a teaching tool, yes! I’m 100% in on that! I would love to run a speed Code One tournament at 15 points though, where rounds are 30 minutes, timed by chess clocks. You show up, shake hands, start the clock and have to finish everything including deployment in 30 minutes. You can be sure that Adam and I will be doing this as soon as it’s safe and responsible to meet up in person.

As always, thanks for reading. Stay safe, stay sane.

WiseKensai

WiseKensai

I primarily play Infinity these days, but I have PHR fleet for Dropfleet Commander and I will eventually get my CEF for Heavy Gear built...

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