N4 Brings the Rain

It’s finally here! Corvus Belli released Infinity 4th Edition (N4) on September 25th, 2020 to ravenous Infinity fans hungry for content. As can be expected from a big launch from a small company, there was a few bugs and missteps. Still, I think the general consensus is N4 is an improvement over N3–with the usual very vocal dissenters. Adam and I felt it would be irresponsible to comment on the release of N4 in our weekly Twitch Show without actually playing a game, so we masked up and played a game outside, his Shasvastii versus my Nomads.

I hosted the last few outside games at my place, so Adm offered to host and broke out the Novvy Bangkok table, much to my delight–I really enjoy playing on this table. It’s full of character and tactical nuance, and it’s not even done! A few things before we embark on this, my first battle report of the N4-era:

  • We got stuff wrong, for sure. It’s a new edition, new rules, new stuff.
  • It took us about 2 hours. Adam and I usually clock in at 60-90 minutes a game, but this time took a little longer with rules consulting, etc. I think that goes to show that N4 is a nice streamlining and refinement of N3. N4 really clarifies decisions without removing flexibility, e.g. with Hacking. Less programs, more capability, clearer interactions, less overall time spent thinking.
  • Lots of really cool new stuff to talk about–I’m sure I’ll forget something but I’ll try to capture as much as I can here.

Overview

  • Mission: Supplies
  • Forces: Nomads versus Shasvastii Expeditionary Force (300)
  • Deploy First: SEF
  • First Turn: SEF

Unfortunately, the new Army app is a little buggy, and the army codes don’t seem to be working for me. Furthermore, the feature I used to use to generate the nicely formatted HTML army lists isn’t there anymore, so we’re stuck with screenshots until I figure something out. There’s a HUGE amount of stuff going on in this list, so this section is going to be a little on the longer side. Feel free to skip ahead to the pew pew if that’s your thing.

First off, let’s talk about the mission, because lists out of context don’t really let you evaluate much other than what’s available in an army and how much it costs. The N4 version of supplies is very similar to the Code One version–basically there are three objectives in the middle, which only specialists can interact with, and you want all of them at the end of the game. Alright. Cool.

Just like every other variant of Supplies we’ve played over the years, we want to do the following things:

  1. Get as many boxes as possible.
  2. Make it hard or impossible for Adam to get boxes.
  3. Kill his box carriers and steal the boxes if possible.

The first thing, getting boxes, is reasonably straightforward for Nomads, we have plenty of access to midfield specialists. If that wasn’t enough, we also have access to the excellent Zondnautica with its zippy movement, smoke, and button pushing potential. N4 has really changed things up for the latter two points of making things difficult for Adam. The two main differences, if nothing else had changed between N3 and N4, are that:

  • Spotlight works in ARO now
  • Targeted is persistent, and requires a reset at WIP -3 or a engineer to get out of it.

This means that anything walking through a repeater, hackable or not, can be put into the Targeted state by any one of the vast array of Nomad hackers… and if you don’t reset out of it, I will rain guided missile fire down on you for days (well, 5 orders/turn). So, now not only does the Nomad midfield game include Crazy Koalas, Mines, hackers, and repeaters, it now includes the very real threat of missiles raining from the sky.

Now, to get a box, Adam has to walk up to the box, dodge my Koalas, deal with any other AROs I might have, retrieve the box, leave my hacking area, and then reset at -3 WIP out of Targeted. If he doesn’t do that, I can spend 1-2 orders on my turn to just obliterate his box carrier with Guided missiles. He also has to be careful where the box carrier retreats to, because if it ends up next to something else, that thing is also eating a missile. On average, this should cost one more order to do, or reduce movement by 4-6 inches–you were going to retreat anyway, and now you have to spend one short skill resetting. That doesn’t sound like much, but we all know how important one order is.

Let’s talk about each component of the list and how the N4 changes have affected it. First, the things that haven’t changed all that much:

  • Interventor Lt – Still the a very reasonable Nomad Lt. They can cybermask without a roll now, so it’s much safer to use that Lt order to go into impersonation.
  • Zondnautica – The AHD is now a HD, and it’s got access to all the goodness that comes with it. Straight upgrade.
  • Transductor – It was good before, it’s good now. It’s one point cheaper and gets +1 PH over N3, which is really +4 PH since REMs no longer have a penalty to dodge.
  • Vertigo – No more smart missile, now it’s just a normal missile. Straight upgrade.
  • Jaguar – Cheaper, no SWC tax, makes it much easier to just throw into a list as a battery for Morlocks or in this case the Vertigo.

Now the big changes:

  • Knauf – +1 Burst and MSV1 being able to see through smoke is HUGE. Talk about an active turn monster.
  • Vostok – I don’t think you need you need me to much commentary on this new REM. It’s amazing. The statline and profiles just speak for themselves. If you’re not used to pushing a Bulleteer around the table it might take some getting used to though.
  • Carlota – This was entirely unexpected, but I’ll happily take a Nomad Van Zant with ADHL +1 Burst. What’s not to like??
  • Evader – Excellent unit. It has all the things you’d want and comes in just about every flavor of awesome. I specifically wanted the engineer variant to pick up the Vostok and Vertigo.
  • REM Racer – Another unexpected profile. I’m not terribly excited by this unit–I’m generally not in favor of “buffs” and would rather spend the points on just buying the thing I want. In other words, if I can assemble a BS13 unit out of a REM and a REM Racer, I might as well just buy a BS13 thing. That said, having a reasonably priced hacker with a passive buff is fine, especially since I want a bunch of opportunities to make spotlight rolls. Also, you can take the +9 CC version and get a CC23 Lunokhod with D-Charges. Just sayin’.
  • Moran – Did not need the buff, but HOLY CRAP. Koalas work in both player turns now, I can treat them like super mines, and I have limited camo state with surprise attack for basically the same cost? Amazing. As far as I can tell, the Repeater works in camo state. I gotta say, Morans not having camo was such a pain, they used to die so easily to stuff from across the table. Now, at least your opponent has to discover them first. Some people are really upset by this change and claim it’s too powerful (even people who play Nomads). It is very strong, but I don’t think it’s broken. There’s plenty of access to MSV1 and sensor, and you can always Trinity through the repeater or Oblivion it to turn it off. I’ve lost a fair number of Interventors by getting hacked through a repeater when I go into Cybermask–always beware of Hidden Deployment KHDs! Anyway, everyone was annoyed by the Kamau (myself included), everyone will be annoyed by the Moran, and the meta will shift. It’ll be okay.

Update, September 30, 2020: The Moran profile got updated so it no longer has both Camo [1 Use] and Repeater. Now there are 4 profiles, with every permutation of Camo [1 Use] xor Repeater and Combi xor Boarding Shotgun. Everyone is now a Forward Observer too, and there’s a point drop to 18 for the Camo and 17 for the Repeater profile. A bit sad to have something taken away, but the new profiles are absolutely fine. None of my gameplan or execution would have changed in this game, with the possible exception of sending in the Moran instead of the Vostok at the bottom of 2.

So, the game plan for my list was to let Adam have first turn, protect the boxes with Morans and Koalas, then just let him spend orders grabbing boxes only to have missiles rain from the skies. The Jaguars and Knauf are there to cause trouble, and I’m just sort of trying out a lot of the other things like the Vostok. Carlota is my box retriever, since she can literally show up on the other side of the table.

To prevent the analysis paralysis of vanilla Combined, Adam took a Shasvastii list full of camo troopers. This isn’t particularly different than what I’d expect to see out of Adam in N3, and this makes sense since N3 SEF was more or less proto-N4 SEF. Lots of camo specialists which his big guns being the Gwailo and the Caliban.

Deployment

To my delight, Adam won the roll off and chose to go first. Exactly the outcome I was hoping for! There really isn’t much subtlety to his deployment: camo specialists everywhere, and guns on each flank. The left flank had the Q-Drone and the Gwailo, with the right having the Caliban. He also had a pair of Taigha to “clear out my Koalas,” as he put it.

My deployment was a little more nuanced. I decided to put my Vertigo right on the board edge on a roof, covering the approach path of one of the Taigha. Adam’s Caliban Spitfire was also over there, so if Adam didn’t want to blow up his own Caliban he might have to do some fancy footwork with the Taigha. I figured the Vertigo would go down at some point, so I put the Zondbot up there just in case. I then did some looking around and plunked down the two Jaguars covering the boxes I could see, with the left one backed up by Knauf. The Morans gummed up the midfield and covered the left and right boxes with their repeaters and Koalas. I decided to cover the center box with the Evader’s Panzerfaust and the Transductor, figuring that would be good enough. Since the Q-Drone and was on the right, I decided to put the Vostok over there to challenge it and buffed the Vostok with the REM Racer’s +1 BS.

It’s been a long time so I wasn’t thinking about Impersonators, and I left my Interventor Lt a little exposed on a roof by himself. It turned out to be okay because Adam stuck his Speculo guarding the edge of my deployment zone instead of directly trying to threaten my Interventor. The Zondnautica went into a protected position, ready to advance.

Turn 1

Top of 1 – SEF

Adam started off by sending in the Taigha. The one on the right successfully dodged a bunch of fire from the Vostok, the Transductor, and the Jaguar. I think Adam was hoping to bait a Panzerfaust out of the Jaguar, but I’m not going to waste a Panzerfaust on a Taigha. The Taigha on my left managed to find a safe path forward without exposing itself to the Vertigo’s missile battery, so nothing interesting happened on that side of the table.

What I absolutely would spend a Panzerfaust on is a Gwailo, though! Adam decided that Knauf had to go and sent the Gwailo after Knauf. Only problem was, the Gwailo would have to walk in front of a Jaguar first. I manage to land a hit and a do a wound, despite Adam having the burst and BS advantage.

Adam keeps pushing his luck and tries to get the Gwailo a little further, just to the edge of but not into my Transductor’s vision, and eats my remaining Panzerfaust, killing the Gwailo. What a start to my first game of N4!

Adam wisely uses the Caliban Spitfire to attack my Vertigo instead of trying to roll the Taigha in. The danger is that the Taigha is still close enough that it might be under the blast template! Fortunately for Adam I whiff and the Vertigo goes down for the count.

Adam decides he needs to get rid of my Koala and do some damage with his Taigha, so he just throws it under the bus and clears the Koala with a move-move. He passes the ARM save against the Koala but I manage to Spotlight the Taigha through the Moran’s repeater.

The other Taigha moves forward and successfully clears my Koala on the right with a dodge, but my Vostok hits it. The +1 DAM comes in handy and Adam fails the ARM save, knocking out the Taigha.

I don’t have eyes on the Seed Soldier near the rightmost objective, so Adam easily grabs it before retreating his Seed Soldier and shifting the Q-Drone into position to protect it. Of course, I manage to spotlight the Seed Soldier on its way out–everything is going according to plan!

Adam attempts to drop in a Cadmus KHD to Trinity my Interventor, but fails the roll, relegating the Cadmus to Adam’s back table edge (the sides are covered with AROs from the Vertigo and Vostok). With that, Adam passes turn.

Bottom of 1 – Nomads

My turn. I need to get rid of the Speculo’s mine, so I dismount the Zondnaut and throw the Zondmate under the bus. I attempt a dodge but fail, and then fail the ARM save. No big deal, that’s what the nearby Evader is for.

Next I decide I need to get rid of the Q-drone, but to see it I need to climb Knauf off his roof. I snag a kill on the Taigha on my left as I do so, which is convenient. Having Burst 3 on 19’s is pretty handy (+3 for Targeted, +3 for Range) against the Taigha’s dodge on 16’s.

Knauf makes short work of the Q-Drone, thanks to his Mimetism and the bad range of the Plasma rifle forcing Adam to either dodge or roll on 2’s.

I shift the Evader forward and fix both the Vertigo and the Zondmate over the course of two orders, thanks to my cleverly placed Zondbot. With the Q-Drone down, I think my Zondnautica is safe to advance.

I forget the Adam’s Speculo is nearby and declare Intuitive Attack on the Seed Soldier guarding the central objective, and my Zondnaut survives a near miss from the Speculo’s combi. I do lose the Zondmate to another Seed Soldier that has line of fire. Oh well. Really I just want to protect my order.

I can’t just leave my Zondnaut out in front of the Speculo, so I retreat her out of no man’s land, shooting as I go.

It takes two orders but I finally manage to down the Speculo.

The Caliban Spitfire on my left really needs to go though, as the Vertigo is pretty integral to my plan. Knauf ate all the Vertigo’s orders killing the Taigha and Q-Drone, so I’m forced to get inventive. I move the Moran on the left into repeater range of the Caliban, then Spotlight it with my Interventor’s Lt order. With the Caliban targeted, I bring in Carlota behind it and attempt to gun it down, but Adam rolls a crit dodge and the Caliban is safe. Darn!

Turn 2

Top of 2 – SEF

Adam’s Cadmus is right nearby so he uses it to take out Carlota. Very sad. I attempt to trade by using her light flamethrower, but I fail both ARM saves against the shotgun’s templates and Adam passes his. Darn.

It’s at this point Adam, while looking something up, realizes that all his Seed Soldiers have Panzerfausts and decides to coordinate Panzerfaust Knauf. He chooses the targeted Seed Soldier with the box on my right and the one that I attempted to Intuitive Attack as Coordinated Order members, throwing two camo tokens in there too for free movement. I decide I’m comfortable sacrificing Knauf to take out the box carrier on Adam’s turn, especially since it’s already targeted, and ignore the nearer of the two Seed Soldiers.

Everything goes well and I shoot the box carrier off the table while the other Seed Soldier whiffs with its Panzerfaust. Adam spends the rest of his turn grabbing the box on the left, now that Knauf isn’t watching it anymore, and then retrieves the box from the downed Seed Soldier with his Caliban Chain of Command, which had been hiding on a roof.

I think at some point in here Adam tries to take out my Vertigo with the missile bot but we trade ineffective fire. We realize we’ve been forgetting the States Phase, and the Speculo passes its Regen check and gets back up…

Bottom of 2 – Nomads

so I shoot it down again with the Zondnaut’s impetuous order.

I decide I’ll get fancy and try to use Knauf to take out the Seed Soldier guarding the central objective, but that first Panzerfaust miss let it dial in its ranging and Knauf eats a Panzerfaust crit to the face, killing him. I decide I need to get the box in the center, and I figure active turn burst will let me do that, so I send in the Zondnaut. She fails to kill the Seed Soldier but manages to force enough guts checks to force it out of LoF. This at least lets me get the box.

At this point, Adam has two boxes to my one, so it’s time to get a little aggressive with my remaining orders. I want to force Adam to waste orders picking the boxes back up again, and I need to set up my forces to go get the boxes on my last turn. I start by spending a bunch of command tokens to move the Morans and Vostok forward while retreating the Zondnaut. I stealth behind the Caliban and shoot it in the back, but Adam passes enough ARM saves to keep it alive.

The Cadmus that killed Carlota is still there though, so the Moran quickly makes work of it with a burst of combi-rifle fire.

It’s time to reveal my trick. I give the order to fire for effect and missiles start raining from the sky. First I take out the box carrier on my left, which dam never bothered resetting out of Targeted.

I’ve got a few more orders to spend, and rather than try and take care of the Caliban Spitifre with the Moran, I just fire missiles until the Caliban is a puddle of carbonized goo. I’m out of orders in my second group now, so no more missiles, and I’ve got a Moran and Vostok pretty far advanced up on the right. I decide I want to prioritize keeping the Moran in camo state in case I need to sneak past some AROs to retrieve a box on Turn 3, so I send in the Vostok.

Sadly, Adam makes his dodge roll and I’m left with a Vostok in CC with the Caliban.

Turn 3

Top of 3 – SEF

Adam starts things off by trying to CC down the Vostok with a D-charge, but the Immunity (AP) saves it and it only takes one wound. Of course, I spotlight the Caliban successfully through the Vostok’s repeater.

I had thought that at this point Adam was of specialists on the left, but I was wrong. He spends the rest of his orders retrieving the box on my left with his last camo specialist nearby and then puts his Speculo (who regenerated again) and some other troops into suppression. Sigh.

Bottom of 3 – Nomads

Long story short, I have two options here–one is to try and kill the Caliban chain of command, the other is to try and kill the other thing carrying the box on my left. I attempt to send in the Moran on the right to gun down the Caliban but succeed only in shooting the Vostok ineffectually, thanks to the new shooting into CC rules–any miss is now a hit on a friendly troop, and this is with the -6 for shooting into combat. I manage to take out the thing covering my Moran on the left with suppression fire at least, and then I run the Moran on the left into repeater range, tanking a combi rifle hit on the way in–I was totally out of orders.

After a successful spotlight with my Interventor, I drop three missiles on the box carrier on 18’s, and it either dodges or otherwise survives all of them…

This goes to prove the old adage a bird in hand is worth two in the bush or whatever it is, as Adam walks away with a

6-2 Shasvastii Expeditionary Force Victory!

Post Game Analysis

Well, in my opinion, N4 is clearly an improvement over N3. The rules are more streamlined, there are less things to remember, and there’s less decision fatigue. N3 hacking was a complicated mess–I often had to just tell my opponent what to do when they were hacking me. “Yes, yes, Redrum is indisputably better in this situation, just use it. I promise it’s the right call.”

I think the biggest change between N3 and N4 is the behavior of states and states cancellation. Everything else is just slightly different guns and ammo, and doesn’t really significantly change the interactions between units. I may care more or less about, say, a viral rifle now than I did before, but it goes bang and pew pews stuff, just as it did before. There’s a bit of a ratchet up in power level across the board for everything in terms of skill set and gear, but this isn’t a game mechanic change, this is more or less just a change to the target number when rolling dice.

Conversely, the changes to states are a mechanic level change and not a statline/gear change. Negative states basically last until you expend resources to cancel them, either via resetting or via engineer. Positive things happen in the States Phase, for free, with no ARO procing, which is fantastic. Having to kill Adam’s Speculo every turn was a huge pain in the ass, and he had to do literally nothing other than pass a free PH roll to annoy the crap out of me. Regen is SUPER strong.

So yeah. I have lots more thoughts rattling around in my head about the new edition, but I want to collect more data. If you want some hot takes though, you can come join us Tuesdays at 8:30 PM Pacific time on Twitch:

Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there.

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...

2 thoughts on “N4 Brings the Rain

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