So finally got time to tackle this.
All that gun talk from the last article is completely worthless without the most important part of the equation. The platform your gun is mounted on.
Let’s start with some extremes to clean your mind of stuff you think was/is good and start from scratch. No one in his right mind would pass a MULTI HMG + LSG Achilles with FO. On the other hand you will have zero use for a non LT Avatar with Combi Rifle. Fortunately CB isn’t the kind of company that would give us either of those Profiles.
If you spent a fair amount of time with this game you should have some sort of Infinity Lizard Brain and can tell immediately both of these Profiles aren’t balanced and shouldn’t exist. In reality spotting a good or bad combination isn’t quite that easy and has a lot of variables. Now on to figure out what makes a gun do damage and worth taking.
Active and Reactive Turn weaponry
Guns fall mostly into 2 categories. Weapons with high, reliable damage potential like HMGs, HRMCs but also Viral Rifles and Shotguns are better suited for your Active turn. Weapons with high but less reliable damage are still good but definitely a step below in most cases for Active Turn. However with each single shot hitting a lot harder, low B weapons with DA/EXP/Viral Ammunition and good Rangebands are significantly better in ARO.
Active Turn weapons don’t just need to win a FTF, they need to cause damage and put stuff unconscious or dead. This can be complemented by secondary choices with Rangebands your main gun can’t cover or things like E/M Grenades that are situationally better suited to take out a heavy target. Active turn is all about having the most efficient tool for each job available.
In you Active Turn you want guns meant to help you win the mission, by straight up achieving casuality based objectives, opening up the paths you want to use, taking key pieces out of commission or simply gutting the other guy’s Order Pool. You want to win every FTF you can and while a tie is not optimal it is better than straight up losing a FTF and taking a hit. Rolling more dice helps with that.
In your Reactive Turn however, killing becomes secondary. What you really want is to prevent the other guy from achieving objectives and getting the mission done. The most effective way to do that is to waste as many of his Orders as possible. If you get to kill stuff on top of that see it as a bonus. Simply rolling a tie, making your ARM roll, taking a wound with a HI/TAG and retreat out of LOF or making someone use 3 Orders to Smoke past your Missile Launcher is what you are really after. Non lethal Ammunition like the humble Flash Pulse can have more devastating effects than stripping wounds here. Negating the Order investment your opponent put into a multiwound troop half through is turn is often better than just putting a dent in it. Flash Pulse troops also come for as cheap as 3 points, which is basically worth it already if the other guy has to spend an Order on it.
Your Reactive turn guns are already doing their job if they dictate your opponent’s movement without rolling a single dice. Every Order that isn’t spend on achieving objectives is a tiny win already. Remember that things like TR Bots can be a lot harder to get rid of than to put back up. If someone spends additional Orders to kill your unconscious TR Bot, because you brought an Engineer that is part of the TR Bot’s and Engineer’s value.
The most expensive way to directly impact your BS Attack FtF Rolls but also the most reliable one. BS Skill will always apply, and while it is easily outclassed by both MSV and Negative Visibility Mods, it stacks with both of them and applies when neither of them does. However don’t make the mistake to overestimate it. A BS12 MSV2 easily outguns BS15 against ODDs.
Links – even the odds or “win harder”
It is really simple. Looking at a Keisotsu HMG you know it is cheap and it isn’t good (BS10). However, the same Keisotsu HMG with full Link bonus throws 5 dice on 13s. +3 BS, +1B as well as Order efficiency is the one thing you can buy a Link for. MI and HI in Fireteams benefit the same but can already be expected to have an edge in your active turn, they follow a “win harder” principle. Turning a 70% chance to win a FTF into an 80% chance might not look like much, but it’s there nontheless. A lot of links fail to impress with their capability to get the job done after dropping a member or two, while it’s also easier for them to lose a member in the first place. A Link based on troops that are capable on their own only leverages the Link’s Boni to hit even harder and gain movement efficiency on top of that. They’ll still be able to do what you need them to do after getting a bit decimated.
This is why I’ll split this topic here into LI Links, providing utility, ARO weapons and Orders, and other more aggression oriented MI and HI Links with higher emphasis on Active Turn weapons you’ll spend a lot of Orders on.
As a general guideline your list should have a better way to deal with a TO Sniper than a Linked Fusilier HMG. Every Faction and Sectorial without access to Smoke has to fight their way across the board. For example Onyx can’t just bring a couple Makauls with Zero-V Smoke and take a bunch of Viral Rifles for heavy lifting like Tohaa could. They have to bring long range guns, Infiltrators or AD to get access to the board.
The longer a game progresses the more valuable options get. By turn 3 there will be a lot of gaps to exploit in your opponent’s defenses, but this also applies to you. Don’t fall into the trap to invest too much in a LI Link. But how much exactly is too much? Well, too much is taking a HMG and a Missile Launcher when somewhere in your list a HI is running around with a Combi Rifle. I’ll guarantee you there is a better way to invest those points and SWC than on your LI. If you find yourself with leftover points and SWC, you can absolutely go back to your LI link and get that 2nd SWC weapon. But avoid doing this instead of upgrading something nastier.
LI Linetroopers in general are more suited to use the full 5 man bonus for a Sniper Rifle or Missile Launcher. With +3 BS, +1B and SSL2 to ignore getting shot at with Surprise Shot or through Smoke they pose a threat to anything for a fraction of the points. If a 15 points ML bites it, you’ll be down one Order and that is how things go. If a 15 points ML wins a FTF you probably created a very big problem for your opponent without any effort.
So who should run across the field with a B5 gun? Basically everyone who can handily win a gunfight with “just” +1B to begin with or wants to get close for other reasons. Cheap LI needs the 5 man bonus to stay reliable and efficient. They also fold very fast in their Reactive Turn when you hand over control over picking engagements. So they are usually better suited to annoy people from afar and stay away from Shotguns, DTWs and Mines. MI Links are best at winning an Active Turn shootout on a budget while keeping their distance. HI Links want to cover ground and use several weapons in their arsenal to full potential – delivering Shotguns, various upgraded Rifle types, DTWs and CC Skills into range.
MI Links are even more fragile than LI for their points. At 1W and ARM 2-3 and double or triple the cost of LI they are an investment that needs to do work for you. Be sure to use their available tools to the utmost potential. Take one of the most hated Links in the game – Bolts. Most of their Profiles want to be in midfield. While there might be a point for taking the MSR to get there, I’d say take another Specialist or Drop Bear guy instead. A Bolt team looking to use their Sniper or ML will always be inefficient. MI sucks at soaking fire, so their ARO potential is situational at best. Get those Grenades, DTWs and other Skills/Equipment to work. They’re generally speaking the strongest unhackable utility offense in the game. Meaning they can cover multiple Rangebands and Specialist duty. Some solo pieces might be better at individual tasks, but never at everything a MI Link can cover. Always have a good plan around them. As soon as Hacking is not an issue they have a hard time to compete with TAGs and HI. 4-2 is more and less of an issue than you think. Might never need it, but when you do, you’ll notice how much impact it has.
HI Links can often do multiple things at once, but never have to. A complete waste of potential would be a Domaru + Tanko Link with 2-3 Missile Launchers sitting in your DZ. 1 ML to use as a roadblock or Active Turn opportunity weapon is a reasonable investment into an already expensive HI Link. But you’re not getting enough out of your 140+ point investment if you completely forfeit getting five guys with 10+ points per model in CC Skills and Grenades across the board. A B2 ML is not what gets you close enough to use that, a B5 Spitfire is. A linked HI ML with BS13 and SS L2 is quite strong so bring one and use it until you start advancing. Those 1.5 SWC and 11 points spent on a ML simply are a cheap but substantial upgrade to expand your expensive beatstick’s capabilities, which is points well spend. HI ARO has the added advantage that, more often than not, you get to use your 2nd W and high ARM. Nothing wrong with dropping your HI Prone after they lose a wound just to waste Orders. Most multiwound troops operate at full capacity until they enter a Null State, so trade those extra Wounds to eat Orders and make ARM work in your favour.
Figure out what your Link is best at and enhance it, take the utility options if you can fit them in (like a ML for HI Links), but don’t neglect strenghts for it.
Dirt cheap and makes you better at Shooting 90% against everyone wanting to shoot back. Completely useless vs any sort of MSV or against non BS Attack AROs. Despite that most Active Turn Pieces don’t have Visors and MSV2 and 3 are a lot more expensive than Mimetism. In your Reactive Turn impacting multiple dice with a negative MOD is usually better than increasing your single one and also works if you don’t use BS Attack as ARO. The simple fact it works against significantly more targets than not makes it high utility, low cost. Useful for Active Turn and ARO Pieces.
Improved, more expensive Mimetism with a twist. It is Fire Sensitive and completely useless if Burnt until repaired, Mimetism doesn’t care about taking Fire hits. This is situational as taking a Fire hit has a good chance to drop you dead anyway, but on the same time important to remember on sturdy ODD pieces. Not quite cheap but still amazing to have on any sort of gunfighter for the same reasons as Mimetism. Better on Active Turn Pieces, in your turn you pick the fights. Expect any sort of capable opponent to bring something that can deal with your (expensive) ODD. MSV2/3 and DTWs are significantly better value against ODD than Mimetism. Feel free to leave ODD troops out as ARO pieces as soon as there is nothing left to deal with them efficiently, just don’t put them on a roof on turn 1 against a Charontid. In your Reactive Turn they are weak against other ODDs (more dice than you), MSVs (for obvious reasons) as well as Camo and TO (more dice, VIS MOD and Surprise Shot) alike.
Mimetism in plain better. Marker State allows you incredible flexibility (waste Orders, Surprise Shot, Stealth) and sometimes hides the identity of your troop. The last point is situational, as good players may be able to guess what you’re hiding with almost perfect accuracy. You can try playing mindgames but usually the thing they guess is what you should be running anyway. Camo is one of the best answers to Hacking thanks to Stealth and Marker State as well. Suffering a Fire hit downgrades you to Mimetism, which means no more Stealth and Marker State. It is important to note that a Camo Marker will be able to do a MOV-MOV at no risk, losing the Marker State as a worst case (with the notable exception of Mines nd Perimeter weapons). Camo is incredibly valueable all around, even a Sensor revealing you needs an Order for it. Sucessful Discover+Shoot/MSV3s is the only real weakness. Marker State makes both Active Turn and ARO Pieces a lot better at their jobs, the utility from Camo stands in no relation to it’s cost at the moment.
Camo turned up to eleven. Not only do you get all the benefits and the VIS MOD is now -6, but you also gain Hidden Deployment. Aside from a lucky Sensor guess there is nothing your oponent can do about that. HD means you are almost guaranteed to pick your first fight no matter who’s turn it is. It also enables you to set elaborate traps to get a Normal Roll and allows you to wait for the last few Orders to reveal when the best response your opponent has isn’t capable to reach you anymore. Most important is that you can layer them together with other potent ARO pieces, overwatching the same area as a Linked LI ML for instance. Not a lot of opponents can deal with both pieces at the same time and it is very likely you’ll throw a massive spanner in the works by doing this. Active turn Pieces benefit a lot from TO as well. Sniper Rifles and Missile Launchers are already good with Camo, but TO simply takes the cake when you’re looking for something that does work in your opponent’s turn.
Okay lets be completely blunt for this one. Multispectral Visors are pushovers in your Reactive Turn. Sure, having a BS15 dude with MSV2 in SF on turn 3 is great, but that is not what you took him for. I’m talking about stuff like a MSV2 Multi Sniper/HMG you paid 30+ points for. Those are not ARO troops. They aren’t any better than regular guys against regular guys. The exception from that rule is when you can leverage Smoke or Low/Zero-Vis terrain in your favour, which is very unlikely on ARO (unless your group actually plays with terrain rules). On top of that White Noise and Albedo completely screw them over.
So why are MSVs even good, when they do nothing against regular guys and have a dedicated weakness? That is actually easy to answer, the troops carring them are usually capable shooters and all you want from a Visor is to be able to be universally good against everything. MSVs being good against any sort of Vis MOD is a nice bonus for an already strong Active Turn Piece. That also means you want a potent weapon with high Burst that can fight the usual ARO Pieces on their own turf. Yes there are MSV troops that work with Sniper Rifles or Missile Launcher, but those usually don’t have have a better Active Turn choice. Take the HMG if there is one, take two if you want a Sniper as well.
Live large. Die large. Leave a giant coffin …. or Silhouette Marker. Which kind of gun to mount where also depends on Silouette Value. TAGs can’t go Prone will have a hard time sneaking up in optimal Shotgun Rangebands, so you’ll want a gun that works straight from your Deployment Zone. Most TAGs don’t get much of a choice in the matter, but it is still important to remember to put a Red Fury in your Xeodron Haris.
Mobility Skills shouldn’t be underestimated. They allow you to get LOF to Prone troopers, make moving a lot more efficient and allow you to have fun with Infinity’s maybe best feature – functional 3D movement. Both Skills are rather cheap so if there are other deciding factors at hand they should take precedence.
In general these troops are meant to move parcour style across the table and will find themselves in close quarters rather often. So your weapon of choice will be a bit more close ranged than usual. My personal example would be the Seraph, I used to think “why doesn’t he have a HMG?” every time I looked at him. After putting the model on the table and using it I’ve come to the conclusion that a HMG on him would be a damn waste. The Spitfire will be in better or at least equal Rangebands most of the time. Both Skills are hard to pin down, after you’ve got used to them they are invaluable to have for aggression.
Here comes a tricky one. In short, don’t take the Rifle and use them to the strength of their gun afterwards. Not satisfied? Figured as much.
ADs can be your entire strategy, just one tool in the box or your reserve plan to fall back on. In case you’re confident about your list and want to leverage potential mistakes, a Shotgun wielding troop is your guy. He mostly relies on your opponent giving him a couple of bunched up targets and will most likely run out of targets after earning his spot fairly quickly.
A HMG or Spitfire on the other hand is just a better Rifle with different Rangebands in the hands of an AD trooper. You’ll always be the one to bring him on the board. So you should have a very good reason to settle for the lower DAM and B here – that reason is petty much always because you wanted a Specialist. They can do a lot of work as they’re usually MI or better and capable to take on quite a lot frontally. However this might not be what you want to go for with them. Find a weak spot, punch or walk through and start shooting people in the back from an unexpected side of the board. This is what you need the range for and what a Rifle can’t hope to compete with.
AD is always a gamble and I can’t really recommend ever dropping them on the table instead of walking. As a last ditch effort in a difficult situation it will be useful to think about the possibility, but that’s about it.
Making your investment work
So far so good. All of the above have an impact and a fair bit is completely interchangeable. Now is the time to remember that every weapon in the game costs the same amount of points for every troop, only the SWC differs. So a HMG for a 70 point Swiss Guard costs the same 8 points over a Combi Rifle it does for a 18 point BS12 Fusilier. If you had to pick one or the other – where would you put it? Quite obvious isn’t it?
You should always and without exception consider putting your biggest guns on your best troop. That is less straight forward than it sounds. As you can simply add a duplicate to have wiggle room or you don’t get much of a choice in case of a TAG. If you take several highly capable troops you might just benefit more from making the slightly better one a Combat Specialist and the other guy the HMG. A Haq Tao Hacker is plain awesome if you already have a Hsien HMG. A Hsien Multirifle with a Haq Tao HMG on the other hand pales in comparison. Sure, +1SWC on the Hsien MR LT might look good, but you should be spending SWC on him instead. What good is SWC if it doesn’t get you the most optimal choice?
Lone HI outside of a Link have no business wielding a basic weapon. Again there are exceptions – a Specialist toolbox that can make up for it in CC for instance. Same goes for anything that isn’t a basic troop. A Skirmisher sticks to his Rifle because you want a Minelayer or Specialist, not because Rifles are amazing weapons. Why would anyone take a lone Santiago Paramedic with Combi when a Hospitaler Doctor with Multirifle is available?
As a result of keeping things on the top end of the ladder fully kitted out, you will rarely put any weapon upgrades at all in your line troops outside of Sectorials and Links. Putting 8 points worth of extra guns into a lone Alguacil just isn’t worth it, cramming another Order to fuel your Intruder HMG is more beneficial.
With so many factions around there hardly is a definite best way to do things. This turned out rather different from how it was originally intended. Anyway I hope it gets the point across at least to some. Experienced players tend to be able to build a list quite naturally. Newcomers or people starting a new faction are usually those struggling to figure things out.
So if anyone feels a bit smarter after sifting through these superficial list of vague guidelines, then it was worth writing this.