Nahab Gonna Happen

For our second episode of Are You Werthy, I squared off against Erik Werth (Zelaponeepus), with commentary by Clint (pseudonymmster) and James (RomanLegion). You can check out the full feed with post game discussion below:

Overview

  • Mission: Hunting Party
  • Forces: Ramah Taskforce versus Haqqislam (300)
  • Deploy First: Ramah
  • First Turn: Ramah

I decided to try Ramah, mostly because Erik had dibs on vanilla Haqqislam and I didn’t feel like playing Hassassins. Also, James requested Ramah, so that was enough to solidify the decision. When I made the list, the army builder had marked the Nahabs as Immunity (Total). I discovered to my chagrin mid-game that the week or so between making the list and playing the game, Corvus Belli had silently downgraded the Nahab from Immunity (Total) to just Immunity (Shock). This certainly didn’t change the outcome of the game, but I think it definitely would have changed my list building.

In short, I took two Monstruckers, three Fanous, and two TR bots for defense and un-gluing people. The rest of the list was a 3-model core of Yara Haddad, a Namurr, and the Ghulam (NCO) profile. I decided to add a Ghulam Lt with extra command token, as I didn’t really want to risk an aggressive lieutenant, and then threw in three Nahab. My thought was that they’d be safe from isolation and glue due to Immunity (Total) and all I’d have to do is avoid getting jammed by one of Erik’s mutts. Sadly, that was not to be.

Erik took a pair of camo specialists, a Ragik, and Al-Djabel to do his dirty work, with the rest of his list as backup, smoke, and area control to protect Tarik.

Deployment

I was pretty distracted trying to run the technical side of the show along with playing the game–something I hope I’ll get better at or won’t have to do as often. The implications of this are that my screen-shotting of the game isn’t particularly great, so sorry about that!

I lost the rolloff and Erik chose sides. I made the mistake of choosing to go first, and set up pretty defensively to protect my Ghulam Lieutenant. I basically just blanketed my deployment zone with all flavors of ‘bots, and then put my Monstruckers in a position to chain rifle anything that might come my way. The Haris was deployed on my right, as I figured I’d have a good spot to bring on my Nahab parachutist on the left.

The two Nahab were infiltrated to basically the center line on either side of the table, and I held my Lieutenant in reserve. Erik more or less just spread his troops out across his deployment zone, finding pockets of cover everywhere to protect himself. We both held our Lieutenants in reserve, so that’s what we both placed at the end. The key point is that Erik actually had a specialist near both objectives, both in camo or hidden deployment.

Turn 1

Top of 1 – Ramah

I start the game of with no clear plan, and lose the game in the first two orders. The first thing I do is cybermask the Nahabs, and the second thing I do is move-move them forward, intending to really get stuck in with Erik’s forces. I suspect that I’m crossing past a Libertos and its mine–what I don’t expect is for Erik to reveal the Libertos and for a Kum biker to have LoF to this, so I get discovered. I suppose I could’ve argued to take the move back given the LoF surprise, but I’ve got a show to run–these things tend to run long, and I didn’t want to cause additional delays. In any case, I’m now revealed and in the open. I decide that I can probably survive shooting the Libertos and Kum back, and proceed to fail all my rolls and die.

With my left flank crumbling, I decide to throw the Nahab Red Fury into the mix. My primary objective is to kill the Muhktar, because I know how dangerous it is. I have to walk the Nahab on next to Al Djabel, who Erik doesn’t reveal, so I fully intend to ignore him. After I declare a long-skill jump up to the building since Al Djabel is blocking the thing I need to vault off of, Erik reveals Al Djabel to shotgun template me, which my Nahab shrugs off.

I’m reasonably pleased by this turn of events, and move to take out Al Djabel. Erik reveals one of the new Shujae, and my Nahab takes a wound while failing to Nanopulsar the Shujae. That would’ve been a very big deal for me, as if I had taken out Erik’s specialist on that side that would’ve caused some problems.

I then spend the next few orders out of LoF of the Shujae failing rolls to take out Al Djabel with all of the tools I have available–nanopulsar doesn’t work, landing multiple hits with a Red Fury doesn’t help…

I’m incredibly frustrated at this point, because nothing is working at all, so I decide that I might as well just try something else. I send the Nahab KHD on the other side of the table after Knauf and finally do a wound to something, shocking Knauf off the table. Of course, I should’ve lost that fight, and it was a bad idea, but I’m pretty convinced that I’ve lost the game at this point. I haven’t even accomplished my goal of taking out the Muhktar.

I think this because I had no plan starting my turn, then the off-the-cuff plan I cobbled together in the heat of the moment failed. Worse yet most of my forward pieces and tempo advantage is gone. My new plan is to just try and keep the point difference small, and keep my eye open for a window to glue a specialist or Tarik.

The problem is that no matter what I do Erik can undo it in his turn if he has the orders. I don’t think I have the capability to do so much damage as to render that impossible, so I’m really just trying to keep him from attacking me on his turn and keep him from running the score up. Usually I’m a big proponent of pushing till the last. This is Infinity, after all, but Hunting Party really rewards going second. I have a pretty poor win ratio in my games of Hunting Party, and I think it’s because I haven’t spent the time to really study it. Most of the time I don’t have a solid plan going in, either list-wise or at the table, and this time was no different. As I write this though, I’m determined to approach my next game of Hunting Party very differently.

Bottom of 1 – Haqqislam

Erik spends a bunch of time on his impetuous orders getting a lot of work done and setting up smoke.

His Mutt comes around the corner and E/Marats my Nahab KHD successfully, but I do manage to shock the Mutt off the table with the Nahab’s SMG.

With all the smoke on the table, Erik’s able to gun down both Nahab with his Muhktar MSV2. First the Red Fury…

and then the KHD.

What’s quite irritating is that I was taking normal shots on the Kum as they were rolling around from one or in I think in one case both Nahab but the dice were not inclined to favor me at all. Erik grabs an objective with his Shujae and then passes turn after throwing a ton of stuff into suppression.

Turn 2

Top of 2 – Ramah

I decideI need to get rid of the Shujae. My order pools are a mess and I don’t have much in the way of options. I decide to try and kill the Shujae and Al Djabel with my Monstrucker. I know this is a mistake, because I’m feeding a specialist Erik, but I figure I have one more turn to fix the situation if necessary using the other Monstrucker’s ‘bot. I get the Monstrucker in position and attempt to throw a Drop Bear and roll a 20. This is just not going my way. I throw a chain rifle on top of Al Djabel and the Shujae. The Shujae dodges and Al Djabel suppresses. Shockingly, Al Djabel fails his ARM roll and goes unconscious. And I guess fortunately for me, my Monstrucker is shot off the table by Al Djabel’s return fire.

I then throw my 3-model core into the fray, advancing the Namurr up to flip the objective on my right.

I then get really aggressive and take out a Druze…

and a Kameel.

This does mean that my link is broken due to the movement speed difference between Yara, the Ghulam NCO, and the Namurr. I had Climbing Plus’ed the Namurr onto the rocks in Erik’s deployment zone, figuring that to be safe, even from Tarik’s super jump thanks to the nerf to Super Jump. I retreat Yara and the Ghulam to safety, and then with my last irregular order I have the Monstrucker next to my Lieutenant place a mine.

Bottom of 2 – Haqqislam

As it turns out, Tarik is definitely able to see my Namurr and kills it over the course of two orders. I’ll give myself a pass on this one–I just had the geometry estimation wrong–It’s still hard for me in TTS. In any case, I had hoped that I would be able to ADHL Tarik, but I roll a 1 and a 20 over those two orders.

Erik then to get rid of Yara, as he correctly identifies her as a threat. I manage to fend off the Kum Biker with her Heavy Pistol, shocking him off the table.

Erik then undoes my Namurr’s work by flipping the objective back to him with a Hunzakut, which gets shot off the table by one of my TR bots. Sigh. I had hoped to glue an unconscious body. He then drops in a Ragik and fails to stick the landing. At this point he’s won, it’s just a matter of by how many points.

Turn 3

Top of 3 – Ramah

I have one option left to me, which is to run Yara across the table and stun pistol Tarik.

The effort fails.

Erik’s securing my HVT, has two antennas, and has no realistic way of improving his score, so we call it as a

3-0 Haqqislam Victory

Post Game Analysis

Let me start by prefacing that Erik played excellently, as he usually does. I’m not trying to take that away from him. There’s a reason why we chose him to be the star of the Are You Werthy? show.

Writing up games where you’ve lost in deployment or in the first few moves of the game is always hard. Things started to collapse in the first few orders of the first turn, and then I just threw good troops into the meat grinder. I always strive to end these things on a positive note, with some useful takeaway for improvement. Even after avoiding writing this for a good week to try and find the right tone and message, the words that keep floating to the front of my consciousness are “well maybe you should just stop sucking at this game.”

Mental state is such a key part of this game for me, and I have to be honest with myself that it just wasn’t good going in. I was rushed due to setting up the game stream and distracted by helping the commentators manage some technical glitches at the start. That’s not an excuse–I played badly, and I own that. Still, this is a lesson I just seem to never learn. If I start a game with no clear plan and in the wrong headspace, I know I’ll lose. There’s just something about being in the moment and being unable to recognize that and to do a mental reset. It was appallingly obvious by turn 2, probably even sooner, that things were just not working. You can hear the frustration in my voice and vocal tics. I suppose it’s fitting that the table was a literal salt mine.

Still, it’s more than just mental state. That has to translate into something on the table. I just didn’t have a plan. The Immunity (Total) -> Immunity (Shock) thing probably wasn’t even worth mentioning–it basically had no bearing on the game whatsoever. Sure, the Mutt was able to isolate the Nahab even though it wouldn’t have been able to the week before, but that Nahab got shot off the table.

I just went in and tried to just shoot stuff and be aggressive without a development plan or an exit plan. If I’m honest, I even forgot that there were objectives on the table until Erik flipped one with his Shujae! It wasn’t my list’s fault, it was entirely on my boneheadedness. What I should’ve done was hunt down his specialists with my Nahab, revealing them and then taking them out, then being very cagey with my own specialists. Over-extending the Monstrucker to attack Al Djabel was a mistake as well, which was prevented from turning into a disaster only by my disastrous dice luck.

With a different list, such as one that replaces both Nahab KHDs with Taureg specialists, I might’ve been inclined to take second turn. With the list as it is, I don’t think that would have been wise. As Erik says in our post game discussion, I should have attacked his specialists and developed my defensive bots to protect the midfield more. There’s nothing that prevented me from declining the alpha strike. In fact, I think alpha striking Erik is generally a mistake.

One of the reasons why I value my games with Erik so much is he’s always consistent. He may not have the strongest lists or do something unexpected someone like Adam might do, but I have to earn every one of my infrequent victories against him. What I mean to say is that we’ve all had that game where we just do something dumb and follow it up with something dumber, and basically hand the game to our opponent. Just look at my performance this game, if you’re looking for an example. Erik rarely, if ever, does this. It’s what makes him such an excellent sparring partner. He arrives with a plan, stays cool under fire, and most importantly, sticks to the plan.

I think that’s what I need to work on to really continue my growth as an Infinity player. I’m too inconsistent and focus too much on the details when I should be focused on the big plays of the game–push the button, accomplish the classified, ignore everything else, you get the idea. I think my self-inflicted choice to throw Infinity-related content into the void like this battle report is at somewhat at odds with that goal though. Part of content generation, at least the part that I find attractive, is to really home in on some small interaction, dissect, and describe it. We’re also at the start of a new edition, where experimentation and thus exploration down strange paths is in vogue.

Clinging to consistency and optimizing for the largest margin of victory is also a recipe for burnout–at least it is for me. I was constantly flirting with that in N3, and it’s a bit disconcerting that I find myself back in that mindset so soon at the start of a new edition. As the time of writing, I’ve been iterating on a JSA list to take against Adam in Biotechvore in preparation for our Late Night Wargames show. That list and my execution with it on the table is really being pulled in multiple directions. It has to:

  1. Be able to accomplish the mission.
  2. Be representative of a compelling playstyle for JSA in N4.
  3. Be interesting to talk about during the show by exposing some new interactions or rules that are in N4.

To further complicate things, Biotechvore is simultaneously not representative of a normal game of Infinity and very representative. It’s about killing, mobility, and classifieds, but it also denies a lot of board presence and encourages links, fast units, and order efficiency. Trying to juggle all of these concerns in Biotechvore and also feel confident that I’m also addressing the constraints listed above has been quite taxing. You can see this happening also in my game of Foreign Company versus Adam’s Dahshat:

… one of the reasons I keep putting myself through the trouble of writing these battle reports is that they allow me to reflect not just on the game I’ve played but my relationship with Infinity the game itself. I think part of the difficulty I’ve been having for awhile and am only just now realizing as I write these words is that these games have become not for me anymore. This isn’t for fun–it’s in service of building a library of battle reports that I have allowed myself the hubris to believe are educational and helping others improve their game. Whether that’s the case is questionable.

Anyway. I don’t want to end this on a negative note, so I’ll leave you with my notes for myself on how to improve:

  • Continue to try and find the presence of mind to arrest a bad mental state from further deteriorating. That reset to nominal is so hard but so important.
  • Arrive with a coherent plan that marries list to execution. Erik took two protected midfield specialists and tried to take second turn. I let him.
  • If your plan is “attack!” Stop and evaluate if that’s really the right plan. I have a tendency to get caught up by problem solving piece removal and not scenario winning. It’s the most overt objective, but not the most important one.

These aren’t new takeaways. They’re scattered throughout all the battle reports I’ve written. I just need to continue to work to implement them consistently. And with that, thank you, dear reader, for sticking with me. Take care, and stay safe.

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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