The Worst Timeline

Welcome to game two of the Shiv Games tournament from *mumble mumble* ago that I am totally on top of writing battle reports for. Jeff over at Shiv Games has been all about an open table meta, so welcome to this frozen hellscape:


  • Mission: ITS14 Decapitation
  • Forces: Steel Phalanx versus Kosmoflot (300)
  • Deploy First: Steel Phalanx
  • First Turn: Steel Phalanx

I’m playing against Steve (KingButt) who is doing quite well in the global ITS right now. I brought this poorly thought out mess for Decap:


HECTOR (Lieutenant [+1 Order]) Plasma Rifle, Nanopulser, Grenades ( | TinBot: Firewall [-3]) / Heavy Pistol, EXP CC Weapon. (0 | 69)
PANDORA (Hacker) Pitcher, Flash Pulse(+1B) / Viral Pistol(+1B), CC Weapon. (0.5 | 24)
MACHAON Combi Rifle, Nanopulser, Eclipse Grenades / Pistol, DA CC Weapon. (0.5 | 36)
PHOENIX Heavy Rocket Launcher, Nanopulser, Smoke Grenades / DA CC Weapon, Heavy Pistol. (1.5 | 35)

THYREOS (Minelayer) Submachine Gun, D-Charges, Shock Mines / Pistol, Monofilament CC Weapon. (0.5 | 24)
THYREOS (Minelayer) Submachine Gun, D-Charges, Shock Mines / Pistol, Monofilament CC Weapon. (0.5 | 24)
AJAX (Forward Deployment [+8″]) Combi Rifle, Nanopulser / AP Heavy Pistol, EXP CC Weapon. (0 | 46)
PENTHESILEA Submachine Gun, Nanopulser(+1B), Smoke Grenades / Pistol, Monofilament CC Weapon. (0 | 29)
LAMEDH Rebot Flash Pulse / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 7)
NETROD . (0 | 6)

10 2 | 3.5 SWC | 300 Points | Open in Army | Copy Code

Basically the plan is to Ajax and Penny stuff while Phoenix and Hector hold down the fort. It’s not a particularly solid plan and after the last game I was mentally drained and ready to go home.

Steve has what I would consider an archetypical Kosmo list. Bear, Mirage-5, Unknown Ranger, and linked Volkolak ML.

Questionable Interests
GROUP 1 7 2 2

> VOLKOLAK Missile Launcher, Chain-colt(+1B), Grenades / Heavy Pistol, AP CC Weapon. (1.5 | 40)
ROKOT Chain Rifle, Light Shotgun / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 8)
ROKOT Chain Rifle, Light Shotgun / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 8)
ROKOT Chain Rifle, Light Shotgun / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 8)
ROKOT Chain Rifle, Light Shotgun / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 8)

WALLACE (Lieutenant) T2 Rifle(+1 Dam), Light Shotgun, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, EXP CC Weapon. (0 | 35)
BEARPODE Heavy Shotgun(+1 Dam), Smoke Grenades / AP CC Weapon, Trench-Hammer. (0 | 31)
Equipe Mirage-5 undefined / undefined. (2 | 66)
MARGOT AP Rifle, Grenade Launcher, Light Shotgun / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 37)
DUROC Chain Rifle(+1B), Grenades, Smoke Grenades / AP CC Weapon. (0 | 29)

GROUP 2 5 2 1

UNKNOWN RANGER AP Spitfire, Chain-colt / Heavy Pistol, T2 CC Weapon. (1 | 47)
PATCHER Vulkan Shotgun(+1B), Akrylat-Kanone / Heavy Pistol, AP CC Weapon. (0 | 27)
VARANGIAN Chain Rifle, Smoke Grenades / Heavy Pistol, AP CC Weapon. (0 | 9)

WARCOR (360º Visor) Flash Pulse ( ) / Stun Pistol, PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 3)
TRAKTOR MUL (Deactivator) ( ) / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 5)
TRAKTOR MUL (Deactivator) ( ) / PARA CC Weapon(-3). (0 | 5)

4.5 SWC | 300 Points | Open in Army | Copy Code

The key is that it has Wallace as the Lt, so there’s some risk here. It’s also a game of decap so the penalty is less. The nice bit of spice here is the UKR/Patcher/Varangian Haris, which offers a lot of capability.


I deployed first, as I chose first turn. It’s a very open board, and I could hold two things in reserve thanks to Hector. I chose to keep Ajax and Penny in reserve, figuring I could use them to do some damage with them on the first turn. I started off by deploying the Lamedh and Netrod in spots on the left to spread out my units to limit the orders that could be removed with minimal movement, figuring that they would be the only things easily accessible over there.

I unfortunately had a lot of trouble finding useful spots for the Thyreos. There simply weren’t any good ones, which is a bit of a problem in the midfield against a bunch of bears. I decided to just use the only good tools available to me, which was to put the Thyreos on the bases of the sniper towers, and then put their mines as far forward as possible to help screen.

The mines were going to do f*#kall to bears, but hey, it’s something. Now onto the link and Hector. There were two spots where the Volkolak missile was going to go. Steve has been milking that Volkolak for value for awhile now, and I guessed it was going to live in the sniper tower in his deployment zone.

I decided to castle the link on the right. I put everyone in a big pile over there, split between both levels of the structure there. One thing that I really like about the modifications to this terrain is that all the buildings are embedded in foam, which really solves a lot of the problems I have with LoF and cover questions I have with the Comanche Outpost. It does, however, create some weird questions about how to get off the catwalks, which is sometimes impossible, so Steve and I agreed on some sane exit/entry points.

Steve’s side was pretty straightforward, just orders in the form of Traktor Muls and then a pile of Rokots and the Volkolak in the sniper tower as predicted. The bear went on the left along with the UKR Haris, and that was basically it since Margot and Duroc are waiting in the dropship.

I then asked Steve where Ajax was safe from the Volkolak and put him there, with Penny far enough behind so she wouldn’t zoom past Ajax and eat a missile. I forget what Steve’s reserve was, but I think it was Wallace?

Turn 1

Top of 1 – Steel Phalanx

There was some initial contention in the turn after Steve docked me two orders. As it turns out, Ajax’s exact position was the only safe spot from the Volkolak, and right behind him was not safe, so Penny drove up and blew them both up. Obviously I wouldn’t have made the impetuous move if I had known that she was in danger. However, Steve was pretty insistent that we keep it as-is, but when he missile crit and hit Penny and wiped them both off the table with a pair of missiles from the Volkolak, he graciously allowed a takeback given that it was an irrational move arising from a misunderstanding about LoF, which is public info.

Tone is hard on the internet, so I want to make it clear that I don’t think Steve was being unreasonable in his initial response. Nevertheless, having that happen on the first order when I was already in a bad headspace didn’t exactly improve my decision making skills. I got pretty bad tunnel vision on dealing with the Volkolak with specifically Ajax, which definitely was not the right plan. What I should have done was use Phoenix to take him on at outside 40″, putting me at 3 on 7’s and Steve at 2 on 3’s.

40.42 46.18 13.39

Steve mentioned afterwards that he would have dropped prone after seeing those numbers if he was allowed a guts roll. It was even 10% for both of us to take out Phoenix or the Volkolak, so this clearly was correct for me here. Instead what I did was flail around with Penny trying to get smoke down to get Ajax into optimal range. I managed to do it, but it just took entirely too many orders. Still, the odds aren’t terrible, thanks to Ajax’s Mimetism:

35.35 41.86 22.80

Still, dice are dice, and none of that matters when Ajax gets crit and you fail all four saves. Le sigh. It’s at this point that I figure out that Phoenix can deal with the Volkolak and so I throw him at the problem and force the Volkolak prone without doing any wounds. What’s annoying is that it became my only option aside from just spamming smoke on sad with Penny, when it was actually the best option.

In any case, I’ve got just enough orders to commit with Penny and drive her to the base of the ladder near Wallace, get her onto the platform (proxied by a Ekdromoi here), and get into CC with Wallace. Wallace CCs while the Varangian and Unknown Ranger template Penny. This is a golden moment for me. I could have double nanopulsar’ed Wallace, the UKR, and a Varangian, possibly killing all three for the cost of Penny and Ajax.

This isn’t what I did, of course, because I’m bad at this game! I instead choose to CC Wallace, winning the right thanks to CC -6, and then Wallace fails the mono save. Penny of course dies. I am now 100% out of orders and am forced to pass turn.

Bottom of 1 – Kosmoflot

Well, end of my first turn and I’m basically a third of my list down. Awesome.

Really I haven’t done nearly enough damage on the first turn, and if this turn goes poorly, that’s game. It’s really just sitting around and waiting for the inevitable. I don’t have enough board presence to slow down bears or the UKR, and with Margot and Duroc in the mix I really can’t expect to piece trade efficiently.

In any case, the turn starts with the Unknown Ranger standing up and killing one of my designated targets.

Margot comes on behind Phoenix and Macheon, allowing them both a dodge. I then misplay this pretty badly. Steve shows Margot to Macheon and Phoenix and asks for AROs. I declare shoot with both Phoenix’s heavy pistol and Macheon’s nanopulsar to keep the link intact. Steve just wants Phoenix down, so he double templates with Margot. This is the correct play by him.

What I should have done was declare dodge with the rest of the link and nanopulsar with Macheon. Thankfully due to the elevation difference and the fact that Macheon is prone, Steve won’t be able to double template both, and both are NWI. This probably forces Steve to try and hit-mode Phoenix on 11s versus his 12 while Macheon can potentinally drop Margot.

Margot does go down, and so does Phoenix. I’m a crazy amount of battle reports behind, so while current me knows that Phoenix is NWI, past me thought he was full 2 wounds for some reason, so he’s unconscious instead of off the table. In any case, Margot’s entrance does allow me to dodge one of the Thyreos back to try and protect against Duroc coming in on this edge, but this opens up a shot to the Unknown Ranger, so I lose it. I was under the impression that I had made it far enough around the corner but I misjudged it. Ah well.

Duroc does come on, and eats the Netrod and Lamedh, so I’m really in trouble.

Turn 2

Top of 2 – Steel Phalanx

I’m now at half strength:

I don’t have much in the way of plays here. I cannot allow Duroc to stay up, but there are also other problems that I need to address, namely taking out Designated Targets and removing Steve’s new lieutenant, which is a Rokot just below the Volkolak’s sniper tower. My confidence is pretty shaken at this point and I’m feeling pretty annoyed at myself for getting knocked out of kilter, so I decide to just commit to a simple plan.

In retrospect, I don’t think it’s a good idea, but at the time I decided to just try and keep Hector alive. If I could do that it’d leave some points on the board, and I might be able to handle a few other things on the way. Again, at this time I was still under the erroneous assumption that Phoenix was two wounds so I set about trying to pick him up. Macheon gets some smoke down to protect everyone from the Volkolak and then Hector lines up a shot on Duroc.

I land a a hit, but unfortunately Duroc passes enough saves to stay up. Macheon then manages to fail to get Phoenix up, which is… not good. I didn’t have the orders to get him into base to base to doctor so I was forced to fire the Medikit, which is really not going well for me these days.

Under the cover of smoke, I retreat Hector to a small roof at the back of the table to deny the possibility of getting in base to base with him and pass turn.

Bottom of 2 – Kosmoflot

So I managed to get nothing accomplished while also wasting orders on an illegal plan. Really unfortunate here. At this point I just need the dice to go my way consistently, otherwise I’m going to lose this game spectacularly. Duroc spends his impetuous order throwing smoke to block LoF to Pandora for later and then the rest of Steve’s totally immune units start moving.

The Bear jumps up to the second story of the Warsenal sniper tower. Fortunately he can’t move anywhere there because the catwalks are too narrow for his base, so I’m not in danger of having to fight him in close combat. I am, however, going to have to deal with his template weapons.

I keep double nanopulsaring the Bear with Macheon, eventually trading against the Bear’s templates.

Duroc grenades my last Designated Target thanks to his smoke, and then he goes after the Thyreos that’s nearby.

Again, he can’t end in base to base (which actually might be okay for the Thyreos), so he settles for dropping a template with the chain rifle. The grenade thankfully won’t work because he’d be caught in his own template.

Somehow I manage to dodge with the Thyreos’s coin flip of a PH stat, but it’s all for naught. The UKR’s haris makes it all the way to Hector and after a few orders worth of shooting the Patcher manages to take Hector down.

Turn 3

Top of 3 – Steel Phalanx

Out of spite I manage to take out the Unknown Ranger and the Patcher with Pandora, and attempt and fail to take down Duroc with the Thyreos, but that’s game.

2-10, 0-150 Kosmoflot Victory!

Post Game Analysis

I don’t think I did a single thing right this game. I’m even questioning my decision go to first. Sometimes you get games like this, but fortunately there’s a fair amount of things to take away from it. Let’s just go through the whole process.

Alright. So, I really didn’t like my list. It would have been less bad on a denser table, but with only one long range gun I had to deploy perfectly and execute perfectly, and I just didn’t have the mental reserves at this point in the day to do that. I think not having any impactful places to place the Thyreos really frustrated me, so much so I spent a fair amount of mental energy trying to recover some usage from them during the game, when I really didn’t need to do that. It would have been fine to use them as just order batteries, and deployed them more conservatively to defend against Margot and Duroc. That would have been a better use for them than trying to slow down a bear.

I was also incredibly reliant on Ajax–there’s this tendency to just assume he’s going to get the work done given his statline, but sometimes he just shits the bed. The reliance here was beyond me asking him to do something and him not delivering, it was more that I didn’t have a solid plan for him other than “kill stuff.” I really think I should have taken my other list for this mission, it would have been far more useful.

Speaking of plans, my first turn plan was just bad, even ignoring the frustrating LoF misunderstanding I had with Steve. I probably should have deployed Ajax on the left to help protect my Designated Target as well as working on Steve’s Designated Target. Even though the odds of Ajax taking out the Volkolak was comparable to that of Phoenix, the difference was it took multiple orders to make the attempt with Ajax, whereas it would have taken a single order to try with Phoenix. If I can kill the Volkolak or force it prone, I’m in good shape.

Steve has really been relying on that Volkolak–we’ll see that in future games as well. I think here’s the real gameplan. I have 10 orders in the first turn. I forfeit Penny’s impetuous, and maybe Ajax’s, depending on where he is.

  1. Phoenix takes a shot at the Volkolak, Steve shoots back. Hopefully I land a hit, maybe do a wound.
  2. I shoot again, Steve either dodges or fails guts to go prone on another hit.
  3. Assuming the Volkolak goes prone, Penny zooms across the table without having to spend smoke.
  4. Penny gets closer to Wallace
  5. Penny double nanopulsars Wallace, the UKR, and a Varangian, hopefully killing Wallace at least, and wounding the other two.
  6. Ajax makes a move on the Volkolak’s sniper tower
  7. Ajax continues approach
  8. Ajax kills first Rokot
  9. Ajax kills second Rokot
  10. Ajax sets up for turn 2.

Wallace might not be dead here, but I’ve taken some orders away, and I feel like I’m in a much better position, especially with Phoenix there. I probably have to deal with Margot and Duroc now, but I presumably used the Thyreos’s mine to outright deny Margot’s landing spot, meaning Duroc has to come on. I definitely lose a few orders here, and probably shift Steve’s attention to Ajax.

If Wallace is still alive, Wallace probably retreats, and then I have to go dig him out. If the Volkolak is still alive, presumably I’ve whittled down his link some so Phoenix can fight him more effectively. Regardless, I really don’t have a strong way of dealing with stuff on Steve’s side of the table once Ajax and Penny are gone. the UKR probably shifts (if he’s not dead to Penny’s suicide run) to take on Ajax…

There’s a lot of what ifs here, but it’s absolutely clear that I didn’t defend adequately against Margot and Duroc, and I made some very order-inefficient choices on the first turn that set me up for failure. I was pretty frustrated early on in the game, and I just didn’t have the mental or emotional bandwidth to really pull myself out of that to evaluate my choices.

And that’s really the big lesson here–if you’re in a bad mental spot before you enter a mentally taxing situation, you’re not likely to do well. I don’t think this is a unique or surprising finding, especially in competitive gaming. What’s unique about games like Infinity in comparison to other games where morale matters (see every sports movie locker room speech) is that the game is about decision fatigue and properly evaluating risks.

You’re not under immense split second time pressure–there’s time pressure but you can afford to take a breath or even walk away. Honestly I wish I had the awareness to do that more often in tournament games. I would be a far stronger player if I did that consistently. You need to hop off that arousal curve before you can make good decisions, and having a break to get a drink or take a breath away from the table might be enough. That’s how it works for me–you may have a different biofeedback mechanism that works for you.

I talked about my choices and their impacts during the write up so I won’t belabor them here, as I’m already risking turning this into a bit of a pity party. Really this game and this whole tournament is about managing your mental state and the direct impact good management has on your gameplay. There were clear, optimal choices that I did not take, because I was either rushed, frustrated, or both. It wasn’t a very good showing for my first game against Steve for sure.

At the time I complained loudly about the table being too open. People generally agreed with me, but I definitely had counterplay available to me that I wasn’t really taking advantage of. Furthermore, I had advance warning from the TO that the tables would be very open. It is a direct result of this game that I really think Teucer deserves serious consideration in addition to or even in replacement of Phoenix. I’m not saying Phoenix is bad, but you can often generate better numbers with Teucer, although of course this particular matchup against the Volkolak isn’t perhaps the best example thanks to Total Immunity.

It’s taken me several months to write this battle report, primarily because work and family have taken a significant portion of my time recently, but also because I was really struggling with this one. It took me awhile to be honest with myself and just admit that I had a really bad game because I just was bad at the game that day. It happens.

I also want to mention one more thing here. I was asked on a recent Late Night Wargames about how to tell if you get screwed by your dice or if you made a legitimate bad decision. Let’s look specifically at the Ajax versus Volkolak interaction. I had to spend several orders overextending Penny and Ajax to get that scenario up where I could have had slightly better odds attacking with Phoenix for a single order. So yes, I absolutely got screwed by the dice here, but I set up myself up so that the cost of failure–the loss of Ajax and a whole turn of potential–was too high.

Hopefully this battle report was helpful. I think it illustrates a way that you can still potentially fight your way out of a bad matchup of opponent or table to your list or playstyle.


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

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