The Art of Defense in Infinity

The SciFi skirmish game by Corvus Belli

The Art of Defense in Infinity

Postby MudgeBlack » Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:28 am

I am posting some articles from the SBWG boards as they are closing them down and I don't want to lose this info.
Originally posted by Michael


The Art of Defense in Infinity

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Postby Michael » Tue Apr 07, 2015 5:42 pm
I accidentally clicked "Load Draft" yesterday and found a number of articles I started writing a while ago that I had not posted. Since we have a new edition recently released, plus some new Infinity players, I wanted to take the time to update and finish them.

I prioritized this subject, because it's incredibly important and also very difficult for new players to master. It's the art of keeping your troops alive, especially when you don't get first turn. Deploying your troops before the game begins, and figuring out ways to keep them alive when your opponent is coming to kill you, can be very brutal in Infinity. This article is intended to help educate and prevent such horrors from happening. Note that I went through and tried to edit out all the carry over rules from the previous edition, but please let me know if I missed any!

Total Cover: A Man's/Woman's/Space Ape's/Lobotomized Political Prisoner's Best Friend

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The Infinity rules differentiate between Total Cover and Partial Cover. Total Cover describes models that are completely out of Line-of-Fire of the enemy. They cannot see any enemies because of intervening terrain and no enemies can see them. Generally speaking, Total Cover will always be your force's greatest friend in Infinity. Deploying your models tucked safely behind walls, or prone on high rooftops (basically, any place tall enough that noone can look down on them from a higher vantage point) is never a bad idea. At the very least, it forces your opponent to walk all the way across the board, around whatever obstacle is giving your units Total Cover, and engage them at point-blank range. Ideally, by the time a hostile model makes that long trek, they have spent a lot of Orders and will not have enough left to either engage your force effectively, or retreat to safety to guard themselves against a counter-attack. This is the most basic principle of defending yourself in Infinity; just because your models can take AROs does not mean you should leave them exposed to get shot at. ARO is never as good as the Active Turn!

Total Cover: It's a Trap!
I know I just mentioned that Total Cover is excellent, and generally speaking it is. However, that does not mean you should bunker your entire force with their heads down. You still want to have some units able to provide defensive AROs, contesting any enemies who get too close to your Deployment Zone. One of the worst feelings in the game is hunkering half your army behind a building, only to have some cheeky Mine-toting Infiltrator or monkey with a Chain Rifle walk into your Deployment Zone and blow away half your army with a single template. Note that this does not mean you should leave your troops open to being shot from across the table (see Total Cover: A Man's Best Friend.) Ideally, you want to deploy troops to cover the immediate advances to your Deployment Zone, allowing them to challenge and fire at incoming models, but still not be visible to that monstrous linked MULTI Sniper Rifle or Heavy Machine Gun that is sitting in your opponent's Deployment Zone. You want to force your opponent to spend as many orders as possible moving into position, because Orders that your opponent spends moving are not orders that are spent destroying your models. Being able to cover the short approaches to your DZ means you can spot and destroy models that would otherwise wreak havoc to a completely bunkered force. Link Teams, Total Reactions or Neurocinetic units, as well as cheap Direct Template units are very good for this role. They fire with Burst 2 or more in ARO, or else they are disposable enough that their deaths do not hinder the effectiveness of your force in future turns. Remember, you still want your force to be able to defend itself.

Area Denial: Nothing Says "Stay Out" like like Angry Shrapnel

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One of the greatest defensive assets in Infinity are Direct Template Weapons. These include Flamethrowers, Chain Rifles, Nanopulsers, and any other variant weapon that does not require a Roll To Hit. Mines can also fall into this category as well, since their explosive blasts are functionally similar to Direct Template Weapons. The advantage here is that any opponent who advances into sight of these weapons is going to take an automatic hit, and must therefore roll damage. Generally, players can rely on the Full Burst of their weapons in the active turn to be able to win Face-to-Face rolls and therefore defend themselves from being hit. Since Templates bypass Face-to-Face rolls, the Active Turn does little to protect models here. In this way, cheap Chain Rifle/Flamethrower units, as well as models with Mines or the Minelayer upgrade, are great candidates for defending your side of the table from incoming units. Be careful though, because all template weapons are inherently short range and therefore will not provide any advantage if your model gets shot in the head by a Sniper from 36 inches away, or if your Minefield is Discovered and Destroyed without detonating. Ideally you will want to deploy Mines or position Direct Template models behind corners, inside of buildings, or any other area where the fighting is guaranteed to be short-range. You want to force your opponent to have no choice but to come into range, or else force him to burn orders doing ridiculous things like climbing up buildings to take a safer path, or take the Long Way 'Round© and thereby burn through useless orders in the process.

Note the Minelayer ability, which is one of the game's greatest defensive assets. Note that a model equipped with Mines is not, automatically, a Minelayer in game terms. Minelayer is a special rule that allows a mine-equipped model to place one of their mines within 8 inches of them, as a Camo Marker, during deployment.

Not only does this let you begin with a mine on the table that an enemy can walk into, but it also allows for some fantastic trickery and shell games using other Camouflage Markers. If a model with Minelayer also has the Camouflage ability itself, then you can keep an opponent guessing as to which model is the mine and which is the unit that placed it. You can also deploy a Minelayer visible to the enemy, with two Camouflage Markers nearby. Then your opponent's brain will really explode: is that Camouflage Marker a mine, which is only dangerous when you come close to it? Or is a model with a Sniper Rifle who is going to pop them with a lethal ARO? Is that model a vulnerable hidden Lieutenant, waiting to be assassinated? Or is a torrent of high-velocity shrapnel? Tricky...

Area Denial: It's a Trap!
When using Direct Template Weapons or Mines on defense, watch out for their natural counters: Engineers/Minesweepers, close combat, or opponents with high Physicality.

Engineers/Minesweepers: Players who are too dependent on Mines can find them removed in the blink of an Order. All Engineers have the ability to remove Mines by moving into their area-of-effect and passing a boosted WIP check. Minesweepers are even worse. They tend to be fast and very cheap (somewhere in the 8 point range) and therefore highly disposable for the job of clearing mines. To make matters worse, they not only nullify hostile mines, but also take control of them. This means that a force that is barricaded behind a wall of mines can literally find themselves trapped by their own arsenal if an opponent is successful with his Minesweeper. The best defense here is simply, basic AROs to kill the Minesweeper before it can get close enough to sweep. All Minesweepers are unarmed and relatively fragile, so keep your eyes out for an opportunity to blast them with an ARO if your opponent announces that he has a Minesweeper during deployment.

Also, remember that Direct Template Wielders are very likely to die. In addition, mines explode, and once they explode they are not coming back. This means that Template Wielders and mines are a good deterrent, but not a guaranteed defense. The advantage of Direct Template Wielders is also their disadvantage; they hit automatically and bypass Face to Face rolls, but this also means that anyone shooting at them is facing an uncontested role To Hit and therefore very likely to obliterate them in a single order. Thankfully, Corvus Belli recognizes this phenomenon and tends to price Direct Template Wielders very cheaply as a result. If you want more defense, load up on those mines and direct templates and position them in such a way that they can wall off the approaches to your more valuable units.

Camo Infiltrators: Ninjas in the Rafters, Charlie in the Trees

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Infiltrating Models packing Camouflage or TO Camouflage can make for very good defensive units. Mechanized Units also fall into this category, even though do not start out as Markers. The valuable role here is midfield interdiction: by having a unit parked in a defensible position in the middle of the table, you force your opponent to spend orders removing them from play before he can safely get to your more valuable units in your Deployment Zone. This situation becomes even more advantageous with Camouflage/TO Camouflage; if you choose not to ARO immediately, an opponent must spend orders Discovering your Camouflaged unit before he can advance. If he fails to Discover, he has a true dilemma: he must either advance past the Camo Marker and risk getting shot in the back, bring up another model in his force to attempt to Discover, or spend further orders attempting an Intuitive Attack (even assuming he has a Direct Template Weapon.) All of these results achieve the goal of forcing an opponent to expend Orders, bringing him closer to the end of his turn before he can actually achieve anything of value. Even worse, a Camo Infiltrator that is left ignored can become an enormous threat, rampaging through your opponent's backline. Camo Infiltrators with Mines or a Direct Template Weapon become an additional threat; not only can they start in an advantageous position in the midfield, holding a crucial lane of advance or camping near an objective, but they provide all the aforementioned advantages associated with Templates. These become amazing tools for area denial, and while their lifespan may be short, they become very difficult for an opponent to safely remove from play unless they burn a large number of orders to do so.

In a similar vein, Camo and TO Camo Snipers make great pieces for ARO. The most notable disadvantage of makign AROs, of course, is only being Burst 1. This makes conventional Face to Face rolls a liability. However, when you have advantages like Camo (-3 to be Hit) or TO Camo (-6 to be Hit) as well as Cover, you can start making it very difficult for most opponents to reliably engage you. In addition, the long range of Sniper Rifles and MULTI Sniper Rifles become their own advantage. If you can engage an opponent beyond their effective range and start stacking To Hit Modifiers, you can create a very strong defensive position. A Ballistic Skill 12 model that is +3 to Hit has very good odds against a Burst 4 Spitfire that is -3 for Range Band, -3 for Cover, -6 for TO Camo. For many models, successfully hitting becomes Impossible, let alone unlikely. These models can be ideal for holding a main line of advance.

Camo Infiltrators: It's a Trap!
As with so many things, Camo Infiltrators have their appropriate counters. For one, their generally light armament and equipment pose little threat to Heavy Infantry and TAGs, who are likely to be able to shrug off the Rifle or Mine blast that a Camo Infiltrator can throw their way. In addition, models with Direct Template Weapons can always attempt an Intuitive Attack and torch them to death before they get a chance to do anything useful. Similarly, if you are not careful with your Deployment, an opponent can always Discover them from a distance and gun them down while largely ignoring their weak AROs. Be careful when facing ultra-heavy opponents in this fashion.

Camo and TO Camo Snipers function slightly differently. They happen to excel at being engaged from range, and since their protection relies on stacking massive To Hit Modifiers, they can often remain safe against small arms. The main dangers here are when an opponent starts bypassing those Negative To Hit Modifers, either by engaging them with a similarly long-range weapon, or by possessing Multi Spectral Visors capable of ignoring their Camo or Therm Optic Camo benefits. Once again, be sure to do your homework during your opponent's Deployment. Find out which models possess long-range weapons, which models possess Multi Spectral Visors, and act accordingly to make sure you are not throwing away a valuable model in a useless Face to Face roll. Similarly, watch out for being flanked by Airborne Deployment Models entering play behind your Sniper, or getting blindsided by another Camo model who is able to sneak forward and Combat Camouflage from ideal range bands. The value of this kind of defensive models is in its projected threat: the concept of dominant firepower at range. Once that threat is dispelled, this model can become free points for your opponent.

Suppression Fire: The Rallying Cry of Combat Junkies Everywhere

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Suppression Fire is available to all models with weapons that are naturally Burst 3 or higher (they will be listed with the Suppression Fire trait in the rulebook.) Suppression Fire is a long skill, meaning that you must spend a full Order to perform it. Suppression Fire changed tremendously in role and functionality from N2 to N3. In its current incarnation, a model with Suppression Fire will target any enemy model within Line-of-Fire, responding in ARO with Burst 3. Note that the standard rangebands associated with your weapon, whatever it might, are replaced with the Suppression Fire rangebands. Not surprisingly, Suppression Fire is not as accurate as most weapons are. Suppression Fire will shoot with a +0 modifier at anything with 16 inches, a -3 modifier out to 24 inches, and cannot target anything beyond that. In addition, anyone shooting at a model in Suppression Fire suffers a -3 penalty in addition to any other penalties. This makes Suppression Fire a relatively short range defense, but it will almost always increase your odds in a firefight compared to gunfighting at the standard Burst 1.

Suppression Fire can be a useful tool for any trooper, but some are more likely to benefit from it than others. Obviously, troops with higher Ballistic Skill can rely on Suppression Fire more. In addition, troops with naturally high Armor and multiple Wounds/Structure Points are more likely to survive going toe-to-toe with the enemy over multiple orders, increasing the likelihood of sneaking through a lucky shot.

As a result, I consider Heavy Infantry and TAGs to be a natural choice for using Suppression Fire. Their higher Ballistic Skill, higher ARM, multiple Wounds/Structure Points can make them very, very difficult to dislodge. Troopers with 360 Visors are also quite good, since they can use Suppression Fire in any direction!

Troops with Camouflage and Mimetism also benefit here, since they can potentially stack multiple rangeband modifiers. A trooper with Mimetism, standing in cover, maintaining Suppression Fire is going to benefit from being -9 to Hit before any other modifiers.

Suppression Fire: It's a Trap
The big danger of Suppression Fire is benefiting from this defensive firepower without exposing them to odds that are simply too dangerous. Often, the Order spent placing a model into Suppression Fire would be better spent pulling that model further back to safety, or moving another trooper up to provide support. Also, since Suppression Fire only has a maximum range of 24 inches, beware hostile models engaging from extreme range. In addition, the art of stacking modifiers works both ways. Since Suppression Fire (at best) only provides +0 to a weapon's rangeband modifier, it's inherently less accurate. An enemy in cover using rangebands, Camouflage, Surprise Shot, etc. can easily stack so many modifiers that the Suppression Fire trooper has little likelihood of success. If you're fighting an opponent with a lot of Camouflage, Optical Disruption Devices, etc. than be cautious using Suppression Fire. Note that troopers with Visors make very good Suppression Fire units, since they can maintain consistently accurate Ballistic Skill while being able to avoid a lot of the negative modifiers associated with Camo'ed enemies! Additionally, you cannot begin the game in Suppression Fire. As a result, you won't be able to rely on its advantages until you get the opportunity to spend an Order.

Smoke Grenades: How to Hide a 600 Pound Werewolf in an Open Field

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Smoke Grenades are a very strong defensive asset. In many ways, they are the most reliable way in the game to win a F2F roll, and some of the highest rolls you can make involve Smoke users defending themselves. Since Smoke Grenades create a Zero Visibility Zone that models cannot see through, throwing a Smoke Grenade in reaction to an opponent shooting at you creates a Face to Face roll. If the Smoke-throwing model succeeds, they nullify the enemy shot completely. Since models throw Smoke Grenades using their base Physicality (PH) stat, and since models with Smoke Grenades are often very buff, throwing Smoke is often more likely to succeed than Dodging or Shooting. A PH16 Cameronian throwing Smoke gets the standard +3 range band modifier if he tosses that grenade within 8 inches, taking up him up to a monstrous PH19. Since this throw ignores modifiers like enemy cover, enemy camouflage, etc., this makes Smoke a very reliable defensive asset.

Smoke Grenades: If Someone's Dropping These in your Deployment Zone, You're Already Dead
That being said, the downside to Smoke Grenades are many. For one, models with MultiSpectral Visor Level 2 and Level 3 ignore Smoke Grenades, so throwing Smoke as a defense is useless against such high-tech opponents. Note that Zero-V Smoke is a high-tech version of regular smoke that even Visors cannot see through, but Zero-V is rare and tends to be limited to technologically advanced factions. Most importantly, if you drop smoke at your feet, you blind your own troops too! This may allow opponents to maneuver towards objectives or get closer to you, since you have effectively blinded your own side from being able to see the enemy. This can be very dangerous if an enemy has nearby Visor or Direct Template-wielding troops. The Visor troops can fire through the smoke with impunity, while your troops suffer a hefty penalty trying to return fire. Similarly, Direct Template wielders can run close and pass a Willpower (WIP) check to perform an Intuitive Attack, basically spraying shrapnel/fire/flesh eating nanobots into the smoke field and murdering all those hiding within. Don't let smoke give your opponent the advantage of free maneuvering!

In addition, smoke is the preferred killing ground of Close Combat specialists. If you see someone running towards your Deployment Zone lobbing smoke grenades while waving a big sword, you may find yourself in big trouble. Tohaa Makaul, Haqq Islam Hassassin Fiday, Yu Jing's Shinobu Kitsune, ALEPH Myrmidons, some of the game's most effective close-quarter combatants will use smoke to protect themselves before they launch into close combat. Choking your own Deployment Zone with fields of smoke cover might be the perfect opportunity to let an opponent walk in and cut you in half, so watch yourself...
Last edited by Michael on Wed Apr 08, 2015 12:12 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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