What the Hector

Day 1 of Rose City Raid, 2021 started pretty well! Table setup went quickly, and I was enjoying an adult beverage as round one was about to start. Cue the only real problem of the entire weekend when Adam walked up to inform me that we had an odd number of players and our ringer was indisposed. Something about his keys being in his wife’s car and her having just left to run an errand.

Adam suggested we give one player a bye, which I found less than ideal. People came from other states to get some games in, so I wanted to make sure that everyone got to play all 5 rounds. Only problem was, I had left my models at home. Those of you who know Tim Adair (Chainsaw) know that he likes to tweak his lists right up to the very last moment. Here’s Tim and Clint at the middle school slumber party after the TDA Live! patron/subscriber party on Friday night, tweaking Tim’s O-12 lists. Clint is also responsible for this excellent title for the battle report.

The dynamic duo, Clint (pseudonymmster) and Tim (Chainsaw)

To support his… penchant for optimization, Tim had brought his entire O-12 collection (which funnily enough I had bought for him in exchange for his Acontecimento) to the tournament, which meant that there was stuff in his minis bag that he wasn’t using. I dashed over to him and asked him to make me a list out of whatever hot garbage was left over in his bag after he put together his round one list. Tim is well known in the Infinity community for assembling lists at the drop of a hat, so this was his time to shine!

Everyone else got down to playing amongst the shade of the trees while Tim texted me the list he had built and handed me a tray of miniatures.

By the grace of RNGeezus I was on the airplane table, which is one that I am extremely familiar with. Home turf advantage, at least! I was paired with Anthony (SaintAnthony), playing Haqqislam.

I won the rolloff, chose side, and had Anthony deploy first, as I wanted some more time to familiarize myself with the list. I needed a few extra models to round out Tim’s list, so I borrowed some S3 REMs from Anthony and Cameron (Camerones), dice and a tape measure from Anthony, and some tokens and dice from Tony (Zhukov2). For some reason, Tony (Zhukov2) had enough suppression tokens for me to form an order pool entirely made up of suppression tokens…

Overview

  • Mission: Mindwipe
  • Forces: Starmada versus Haqqislam (300, SpecOps)
  • Deploy First: Haqqislam
  • First Turn: Haqqislam

Round one was Mindwipe. As I turned out, the list that Tim had given me was not Hot Garbage. It consists of the beefiest of links: Hector, Andromeda, and three Nyoka HRL. Because why not. The rest of the list pretty much exists to power the link, which can be refilled with a PSI-Cop in case something goes wrong.

Not Hot Garbage
GROUP 1 10

HECTOR (Lieutenant [+1 Order]) Plasma Rifle, Nanopulser, Grenades ( | TinBot: Firewall [-3]) / Heavy Pistol, EXP CC Weapon. (0 | 69)
PARVATI Submachine Gun(+1B), Flash Pulse ( | GizmoKit, MediKit) / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 38)
NYOKA Heavy Rocket Launcher, Chain-colt / Pistol, Shock CC Weapon. (1 | 19)
NYOKA Heavy Rocket Launcher, Chain-colt / Pistol, Shock CC Weapon. (1 | 19)
NYOKA Heavy Rocket Launcher, Chain-colt / Pistol, Shock CC Weapon. (1 | 19)

PSI-COp (Multispectral Visor L1) Nanopulser(+1B), MULTI Marksman Rifle ( ) / Heavy Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 25)
FUZZBOT (Minesweeper, Repeater) ( ) / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 8)
FUZZBOT (Minesweeper, Repeater) ( ) / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 8)
KYTTÄ Flash Pulse / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 7)
OKO Combi Rifle, Flash Pulse / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 16)

GROUP 2 3 1 1

CYBERGHOSTS (Hacker, Hacking Device Plus) Combi Rifle, Pitcher ( ) / Breaker Pistol, PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0.5 | 21)
VARANGIAN Submachine Gun, Chain Rifle, Smoke Grenades / Heavy Pistol, AP CC Weapon. (0 | 12)
CRUSHER (Combat Jump, Parachutist) Boarding Shotgun, Panzerfaust, D-Charges / Pistol, E/M CC Weapon. (0 | 36)
WARCOR (Sixth Sense) Flash Pulse / Stun Pistol, PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 3)


3.5 SWC | 300 Points | Open in Infinity Army

To complete the list, there’s a Crusher, a Cyberghost, and a Varangian. Anthony’s list is heavily based in Ramah, with all the super soldiers making an appearance: Muhktar, Namurr, and even Nahab. There’s even the new Hassassin Bahram sneaky bois in there as well!

SaintAnthony
GROUP 1 9

HAFZA (Lieutenant) Rifle, Light Shotgun / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 15)
MUKHTAR (Multispectral Visor L2) Red Fury, Nanopulser(+1B) ( ) / Pistol, CC Weapon. (1 | 36)
MUKHTAR (Hacker, Hacking Device) Rifle, Light Shotgun, D-Charges ( ) / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0.5 | 31)
HORTLAK AP Sniper Rifle / CC Weapon, Viral Pistol. (0.5 | 35)
NAHAB (Parachutist, Specialist Operative) Boarding Shotgun, D-Charges / Pistol, Viral CC Weapon. (0 | 32)
NAMURR Spitfire, E/Marat, D-Charges / Heavy Pistol, E/M CC Weapon. (1 | 43)
BARID (Hacker, Killer Hacking Device [UPGRADE: Trinity (-3)]) Rifle, Pitcher ( ) / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 15)
SHUJAE AP Rifle, Light Shotgun, D-Charges / Breaker Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 27)
NADHIR (Forward Observer) Submachine Gun, Flammenspeer / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 24)

GROUP 2 2 3 3

FANOUS REMOTE Flash Pulse / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 7)
GHULAM HUSAM (Infinity Spec-Ops) Rifle, Rifle, Light Shotgun / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 12)
NASMAT PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 3)
NASMAT PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 3)
KUM Chain Rifle, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, Shock CC Weapon. (0 | 5)
KUM Chain Rifle, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, Shock CC Weapon. (0 | 5)
KUM Chain Rifle, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, Shock CC Weapon. (0 | 5)


3 SWC | 298 Points | Open in Infinity Army

Of course, no Haqqislam list is truly complete without some Impetuous smoke, which showed up in the form of a trio of Kum bikers.

Deployment

Anthony spread the Kum bikers across the back table edge and then deployed his Hafza as a Janissary ML, prone, next to his Doctor/Eng/Jammer Spec Ops on the right. His Muhktar held the middle/left, with the leftmost Muhktar backed up by a Nadhir hiding nearby. A Namurr went down on the right, with a Barid KHD in the middle of the table. There was even a Fanous hanging out to protect the severs.

My turn to deploy. The Varangian went on the left to support the PSI-Cop behind it. I put the Oko there as well, figuring that I’d at least have some repeater coverage on the approach to the backfield. I put a Fuzzbot off-camera on the left behind the trees, and then another one all the way on the right, hanging out with a Kytta, Cyberghost, and a Warcor. The Kytta and Warcor were left out to ARO anything that crossed the midline and pushed forward.

Hector and Parvati hid in the back, screened by all the Nyoka HRL, who Ieft up to ARO. None of them really see beyond the mid line thanks to all the trees (or so I thought). I figured that it would take Anthony awhile to get his stuff there and then he’d be a bit overextended. If I lost a Nyoka I could refill with the PSI-Cop, and I figured I’d only lose one, max two, thanks to the sat and low-vis zones. The Red Fury Muhktar was a bit dangerous, but Red Furies aren’t really cutting it anymore with the increased relevance of ARM values. I certainly wasn’t worried about Hector in that regard.

I took a look at some various firelanes, and the rightmost Nyoka was watching the right console (by the “8” table number) in case the Muhktar hacker got excited. The middle Nyoka and left Nyoka were watching the other console as well as the approach of the Namurr, who wouldn’t really be able to do it safely at all thanks to the big negative penalties of the terrain.

Anthony dropped a Hortlak sniper out of reserve in the middle of his deployment zone, which was a good call. I responded with a Cyberghost. Anthony was operating under similar constraints as I was, having made his list late the night before. He thought the Shujae had Hidden Deployment, and ended up never putting it on the table.

Turn 1

Top of 1 – Haqqislam

I was playing a pretty aggressive ARO game, but only out to the midfield. I knew that if I could really stall out Anthony’s first turn, I would be in good shape. Thankfully, this was the exact table that would stall out a turn with all its difficult terrain and saturation zones. I asked how many orders he had in each group, and he told me six in the first, a handful in the second with a bunch of Kum bikers. I generally try not to dock orders nowadays because I prefer having Command Tokens for my own use. That said, when I can reduce someone to four orders on the first turn I will do it. Given the state of the table and the fact that the Nyoka HRL would have lines on his Kum if they advanced, Anthony elected to not spend his Impetuous orders, putting him at a net -5 orders on the first turn, not accounting for the missing Shujae, the Nadhir, and the Nahab, which are an extra -3 orders.

I felt pretty confident that because he would have to reposition anything that he wanted to shoot at me with, and that it would have a hard time getting to where it needed to go, and it would be on bad odds to hit me, that his turn would be over pretty quickly with hopefully minimal damage. As it turns out, it took him two orders to get the Hortlak into a spot where he needed to be to see one of my Nyoka. He won the face to face, but I tanked the shot and broke contact. Really all I cared about was just stalling him out and preserving my order count, in that order. I would’ve been happy to lose two Nyoka and have him do nothing else.

Anthony really wanted to take something out on his first turn, so he committed the Namurr to the fight. I have a lot of experience on this table, and I was pretty happy to see this. With all the penalties stacked on the poor Namurr, it was on -12 so my one HRL shot back snuck through, doing a wound.

Anthony’s second pool was spent running his SpecOps doctor over to patch up the Namurr, then he passed turn. He was pretty disappointed in the turn, and I certainly don’t blame him–with the bad odds on most of his plays it just didn’t work out. I think with 4 orders and seeing what I had on the table there was an opportunity to try to correct any deployment issues he thought he might have, throw some pitchers out with the Barid, and set the Hortlak up.

Honestly, I’m a little surprised that he didn’t spend any orders on his Kum advancing to cover the midfield with smoke and chain rifles. I was locking down a bunch of approaches with HRLs, but there were definitely places to go. I can understand not spending the impetuous orders, but even then, he could have leveraged the table’s difficulty to his advantage by stopping the first move once he hits difficult terrain and forgoing the second move. That would’ve given him at least 2-3″ in most cases, which is not nothing on this table. Spoilers: The one Kum he did advance during the game ended up killing two Nyoka at the cost of 2-3 orders for me.

I think this turn is a good example to learn from about what happens when you’re playing a severe order disadvantage in turn 1. It was really his list composition that put him in this situation, with all the hidden/airborne deployment troopers (and the unfortunate situation with the Shujae). In his defense, Anthony did offer me a copy of his courtesy list, which I did not take in the interest of time–I knew I would have to push really hard on the time because I was not mentally prepared to play. I didn’t want to have the ringer game go to time, so I just was hyper aggressive and didn’t think too carefully about my decisions, just go go go. Had I looked at his courtesy list I probably would’ve caught the Shujae mistake, so this is a reminder to TOs out there if you’re in this situation–check your opponent’s list to see if they made any mistakes to help ’em out.

I think had the list been more balanced in its order pools the first turn would still have been difficult, but not as ineffective as it was. This table is designed to be a tar pit. If you expect to be aggressive and land a devastating alpha strike, you will be sorely disappointed. That isn’t to say alpha strikes aren’t possible, but they require AD, over-infiltration, or impersonation to be effective. See game 2 of this tournament for an example:

One positive thing to note about Anthony’s list is that when docked two orders it’s basically a Loss of Lieutenant simulator for turn 1. I absolutely understand why he made the decisions he made–first game of an intimidating tournament, gotta be aggressive and start punching faces early. However, with only 4 orders in your primary pool and a table that is a massive saturation zone, you have to play for setup and recovery, not aggression. Were I on the other side of the table, I think I would have fired a few pitchers behind trees–that’s two orders. Another order to set up the Hortlak, and then if you’re going to threaten a Jannissary ML, sell it by standing it up!

Sure, it’s your lieutenant, but I’m pretty unlikely to challenge a ML outside 32″ through a low-vis/saturation zone! That would have delayed me by a few orders and forced me to shape my movement in a way that might have been to your advantage. It’s risky, but you can always dodge prone if you think you’re in danger.

Bottom of 1 – Starmada

Anyway, with nothing killed and with Hector as my Lieutenant, I had a full 12 orders to power my core forward. My objectives for this turn:

  1. Advance – I’m trying to play a fast game, and Hector wants to beat face. Get him into position to do so.
  2. Kill the Hortlak – That’s a dangerous tool. He can’t have it.
  3. Kill the Muhktar Red Fury – Same.
  4. Kill the Muhktar Hacker – Get rid of the Uberhacker, why not?

It’s Tim’s list/models, I should play like Tim! Solve problems with BULLETS (and plasma). Even with the difficult terrain I made good progress by carefully skirting around the Hortlak’s line of fire. I don’t want to engage at bad range, I want to be within 32″. The hacker was on the way, I the first thing I did was take a shot at the Mukhtar hacker, forcing it into cover.

I challenged the Hortlak next, losing the face to face and failing the ARM save. Thankfully, the Nyoka are shock immune so I was able to pick it back up with Parvati, reform the link, and burn the Hortlak off the table immediately after. I kept pushing, and now Hector was in range of stuff. I challenged the Muhktar Red Fury, dumping essentially the remainder of my orders into trading fire with it but ultimately failed, with Hector falling back to some cover.

I spent my orders covering the Muhktar Hacker with a pitcher from the Cyberghost, landing the pitcher on my last order. That Uberhacker order is so important! I wasn’t expecting to really get any work done with the pitcher, I just wanted to drain more orders and force Anthony to choose something to focus on. If he focused on the Pitcher/Cyberghost, great. If he focused on the link team, also great. If he tried to do both, then he’d have another ineffective turn, because this table does not allow you to do multiple things at once when you have basically no orders.

Turn 2

Top of 2 – Haqqislam

After setting up some smoke with a Kum biker, Anthony’s Mukhtar Red Fury challenged one of my Nyoka to a fight. Neither of us did any damage, so Anthony switched tactics.

He brought in a Nahab behind my link. Unfortunately for him, that was where my Varangian was after its impetuous move, so I dodged into base to base. The subsequent CC fight did not go well for the Nahab, and I was able to save my link from being shotgunned.

This was pretty lucky on my part, because I wasn’t terribly careful here in my facing. Fast play leads to mistakes like that. Fortunately, good fundamentals kept me safe. Warbands on the table edges is pretty much always a good idea for many reasons. Guarding against AD is one of them, and I was able to prevent a disaster here. A great example of why you want to practice games and build good habits so things like this take no cognitive load. It just felt comfortable to have a Varangian on the flank, so I did it without thinking.

I got lucky again with my Cyberghost. Anthony split his attention and revealed a AP Marksman Nadhir to try and take out the Cyberghost. I lost the face to face, but passed ARM and went prone. I can understand the desire to do this, especially because you really want that order on turn 3. I probably would’ve revealed it on Turn 1 given the situation and corrected positioning on it, or used it here to go after the link. There was a possibility that it could eat even Hector with its AP rounds. You’re playing from the back foot now there’s no time to mess around. The Cyberghost isn’t going to win the game for me, it’s just going to annoy you. Move, shoot the pitcher on your way out, then attack Hector/the link.

I did move the link closer, so the Namurr’s rangebands were now relevant. It moved out and back to see my Nyoka. Sadly, I rolled well and the Namurr took another wound from the return HRL fire. I think that going after the Nyoka was a mistake here, there aren’t enough orders to go down the line and take on all my link team members. Hector already had a wound on him, and it’s time for big plays. I think you go for Hector here and try to drop him. Not great odds, but it’s the best odds you’re going to get with the Namurr past 16″. The other thing you could try is to set up smoke for an E/Marat run, which could’ve been devastating.

Anthony’s SpecOps doctor patched the Namurr right back up though, so all was well there.

Still, at this point, Anthony was out of orders and was forced to pass turn. There hasn’t been much forward momentum here, and most of the plays have been reactive. Again, this all makes sense. There’s an enormous amount of pressure bearing down on Anthony here. A fully intact Hector link is in the midfield, and the main play to remove it, the Nahab, failed. Had I been on the other side of the table and saw my misplay with the link’s facing (Parvati was facing backwards but that’s not going to stop an angry Nahab), I would’ve smoked the Muhktar Red Fury (which he did), then pushed the Red Fury into the smoke to kill the Varangian not the Nyoka. Then you bring the Nahab on and start shotgunning.

You probably cannot correct the Muhktar’s positioning, but maybe you have the orders to throw it into suppression, forcing me to chain colt/nanopulsar you while you shoot something important. Maybe not Hector, but you can at least kill some Nyoka. Kill enough and I can’t make a link anymore.

Bottom of 2 – Starmada

My turn is straight forward. Figure out which server has the AI, plasma my way to it, and then whack it with Hector’s EXP CCW. Parvati did her thing and determined that the Rogue AI was in the leftmost server. One of his Kum was advanced pretty far up so I tried to take out it out with a Nyoka and failed against its smoke.

I threw a pair of Nyoka at it to trade chain rifle and chain colt fire, losing both in the exchange but getting rid of the pesky Kum biker. I was hyper aggressive and sloppy in my positioning, which allowed Anthony to cover the two Nyoka with a chain rifle template, so that was on me. This left Hector, Parvati, and the remaining Nyoka HRL to advance up the table to get some work done.

Hector plasma-rifled his way through Anthony’s defenses, tanking what return fire snuck through. At one point I was face to facing the SpecOps, the Barid, and the Fanous and tanked a bunch of saves. The flash pulse is more dangerous here–Hector can power through taking a wound but if he’s flash pulsed he’s useless. I always threw more burst at the Fanous and eventually broke contact.

Anthony also shot a pitcher at Hector’s feet to threaten Oblivion or Carbonite from the Muhktar Hacker, but I just switched to my other order pool and isolated the Muhktar with a crit Oblivion from my Cyberghost. This is another reason that the Nadhir should’ve just shot the pitcher and moved on.

Hector was now in striking range of the server I needed to kill on my left with the Rogue AI, so I let the SpecOps doctor template me with a light shotgun as I hit it three times with Hector’s plasma rifle, melting both it and the nearby Namurr who only managed to dodge one of the plasma explosions.

I had plenty of orders left to smash the console. A crit and a hit later, the server was rubble.

I had an order left, which let me take care of the offending Barid who was still watching the server.

At this point, all that was really left was the Kum, an isolated Muhktar, the Hafza, a Nadhir, and the Fanous, so Anthony opted to call it halfway through his third turn after he realized he wouldn’t be able to get anything into range of activating the console. He had Experimental Drug from healing the Namurr, making it a

9-1 Starmada Victory!

Post Game Analysis

Holy cow. That was a rough game for Anthony. I have to give him credit for taking it so well–I’ve played him before, and he’s always been gracious in both victory and defeat. Tim, you’re a monster for for making that list, and I’m a monster for running it on this table.

I talked a bit about what Anthony might have been able to do to change up the outcome of the game throughout the battle report. Even with careful play, I think it was an uphill climb. His list would have been difficult to pilot in the best of conditions, and here he was trying to pilot it on a punishing table two orders down. There are only two options for attacking the servers, the Muhktar Hacker and the Shujae. I didn’t have a ton of options either, but I think my odds of delivering Hector, the Cyberghost, or the Crusher are more likely than any of the options that Anthony had. Once I was able to isolate the Hacker I was in very good shape.

I’d also like to call attention to my very heavy metal link. The Nyoka HRLs are there primarily because it’s the cheapest Nyoka profile, but I really do think that the triple HRL build is pretty good. Here’s why: when you’re building a list, you typically have one, maybe two weapons covering different rangebands. If you need to advance up the table, shooting at different things along the way, your HMG can only be in one place at a time. With three HRLs I can be in three places at a time and not have to spend any orders shifting an HRL to shoot at a different target. That’s entirely why I was able to advance so aggressively up the table in the terrain zones–I never had to reposition, just advance.

Once I got there, plasma did the rest. Hector consistently deals out hot plasma death, and this game was no exception. I just needed to trust in his ability to put out damage. In retrospect, I probably should’ve thrown him against the Kum biker that was in the way–there’s no way that the Kum would take him out in one hit with a chain rifle and getting plasma on the Kum will punch through the Kum’s dogged.

In any case, the rest of the weekend went swimmingly. Lots of fun was had by all and our ringer arrived in time for Game 2, making my day a lot more smooth. A big thank you to Tim (Chainsaw), Tony (zhukov2), Cameron (Camarones), and Erin (IceCream) for lending me models, tokens, and dice. Same goes for Anthony, who lent me the dice that betrayed him and put up a good fight in a great game! Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you all at Rose City Raid next year!

Rose City Raid Tables

If you want to have a look at all the tables at the Raid, here’s a gallery spread across both days! Enjoy.

WiseKensai

I primarily play Infinity and Heavy Gear nowadays, but I dabble in plenty of other game systems.

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