Starting NCA: Getting to Know Bolts.

I played my first full game with NCA.

I actually played a single Deployment Exercise, as detailed in my last post, followed by a normal 300 point game. The Exercise I did first was on the same table, but with a different opponent, so I had something of an edge in Deployment that way, but that didn’t stop my opponent from sealing a 7-0 victory. We played Acquisition with no special options. My opponent was playing Onyx Contact Force, and I went first. I opened by picking off members of his Unidron link, and his Maakrep. I then moved a Pathfinder up to push a button, put my Black Friar in Suppression overlooking the Tech Coffin and the path the Unidrons would come down, and ended with attempting to knock down another Unidron with my other Pathfinder and succeeded in losing a Pathfinder.

That’s when the Sphinx showed up. The score sat at 1-0 (my favor) for the rest of Round 1, with most focus being on the Sphinx. In round 2 focus continued to be on the Sphinx, but the score shifted to 0-1 (opponent’s favor.) In round 3 the focus was still on the Sphinx, but the game ended at 0-7 after he Controlled the Tech Coffin with his DataTracker and Controlled the Antenna he had previously Activated.

I decided to try out a Bolts Core this time, for the reasons also detailed in my last post. I enjoyed using them, but I feel like I still need a few more games to get used to using them. I brought this core link:

BOLT MULTI Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 26)
BOLT Missile Launcher, Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 27)
BOLT Hacker (Hacking Device) Boarding Shotgun, E/M Grenades / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 27)
BOLT Paramedic (MediKit) Combi Rifle + Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 24)
BOLT Combi Rifle + Light Shotgun, Drop Bears / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 25)

The Sniper and the Hacker got the most done during the game. Most of the orders I spent on them were to remove a Unidron core which was across the table from them. I lost the sniper to Plasma AROs, but succeeded at getting rid of all the Unidrons which were a threat. After that I moved them up to the middle of the table to attempt to deal with his Sphinx. I probably should have used the Hacker’s E/M grenades, but I had never Possessed a TAG before, so that’s what I did. It did work, and he was out of Command Tokens, but he still had a Nexus Hacker and easily took it back.

I like that there are so many options there, but I felt the lack of a high burst weapon in the link. A good option might be to swap out the MULTI Sniper for a Spitfire and leave the long range to the Missile Launcher. I have access to other Snipers, and have usually been bringing a Hexa, so I can probably shift that role out of the link. The Combis can get to Burst 4, which is good, but there’s not a lot they can out-range so if I’m using them I’m probably not using the best modifiers I could be.

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This will just come with time, but I need to be more aware of what tools I have in the list in general. I spent a lot of orders trying to deal with that Sphinx via strong firepower and coordinated orders, but I never attempted to bring an Auxilia over. The Auxilia + Auxbot will achieve the same goal of the coordinated orders I used, but with much less investment. I had basically relegated them to sideline defenders and wasn’t thinking about them in my active turn.

I found myself leaning on my Pathfinders more than I probably should have, because they were my most mobile units. I really like the Pathfinder for a lot of reasons, but I shouldn’t have been using them as primary attackers like I did just because it was more order efficient than walking further with a slower model.

My limited mobility I think also made it so I didn’t feel the order bump vs my last list. The Bolts were powered by the main group of 10, and were limited more by needing to free themselves of AROs than by orders. Group 2 was mostly powering the Black Friar, who is slow, and died early. I spent two Command Tokens on the coordinated orders I mentioned earlier, and one on reforming my Bolts Fireteam after the Sniper was killed by an ARO, so I ended up with not enough to merge my groups.

I was able to keep the second group useful by spending orders on the Hexa MULTI Sniper after the Black Friar died, but by the end of the game I had just my Fusilier Lt alone, unable to do anything, and not contributing its order to anyone else.

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While I enjoyed the Bolts, I missed some of the solo units I had been using. After the game I changed my Bolts list to drop the two Pathfinders into Fugazis and replace the CSU with a Hexa KHD. I don’t like the cost of the Locust, but I think I should try one out. The AHD is able to perform a lot of Classified objectives, and as I haven’t really been thinking too much about missions since I’ve been focused on learning unit profiles, I realized when I got to the table that my list couldn’t perform a lot of the classifieds.

I feel like my list of things to try is growing as I get to try more things rather than shrinking. Not that that’s surprising, really. I want to give Bolts another try with a Spitfire in the link. I want to make a point of considering how my Auxilia can help in the active turn. I want to work in a Hexa KHD and/or a Locust AHD. 15 orders is a pretty comfortable number for me, but I think I need more experience with the sectorial to distribute models in the groups effectively.

My lists waiting for the right mission stack includes a single order group one with a Squalo, and one with an Uhlan. I have my eye on picking up the double ORC blister so I can try out the ORC Haris, but I want to feel like I’ve gotten a complete sense of what Bolts can do first. I also have the shipping notification for my Beyond Ice Storm set, and that Swiss Guard is going right to the top of my get-it-on-the-table list when it arrives.

All the Season 9 changes create a new dynamic in a lot of ways too, so now I’m trying to adjust to both the new sectorial and the new ITS at once. I do know if anyone wants to try the new Soldier of Fortune option on my game night, I’m starting with 4 Yuan Yuans and an Aquila HMG…

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Here is the list I used:

Bolts
──────────────────────────────────────────────────

GROUP 1 10
BOLT MULTI Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 26)
BOLT Missile Launcher, Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 27)
BOLT Hacker (Hacking Device) Boarding Shotgun, E/M Grenades / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 27)
BOLT Paramedic (MediKit) Combi Rifle + Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 24)
BOLT Combi Rifle + Light Shotgun, Drop Bears / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 25)
AUXILIA (Forward Observer) Combi Rifle + AUXBOT_1 / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 15)
AUXBOT_1 Heavy Flamethrower / Electric Pulse. (- | 4)
AUXILIA (Forward Observer) Combi Rifle + AUXBOT_1 / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 15)
AUXBOT_1 Heavy Flamethrower / Electric Pulse. (- | 4)
PATHFINDER DRONBOT Combi Rifle, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 16)
PATHFINDER DRONBOT Combi Rifle, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 16)
CSU Boarding Shotgun, Nanopulser / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 11)

GROUP 2 5
BLACK FRIAR (Albedo, Biometric Visor L1) MULTI Rifle, Nanopulser, Drop Bears / Pistol, CC Weapon. (0 | 28)
FUSILIER Hacker (Hacking Device) Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 18)
FUSILIER Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10)
HEXA MULTI Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Electric Pulse. (1.5 | 32)
FUSILIER Lieutenant Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10)

5.5 SWC | 300 Points

Open in Infinity Army

 

 

 

 

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Starting NCA: First Impressions

I got my first game in with NCA. Sort of.

Sort of because what I actually did was deployment exercises with one of our USARF players. We rolled for initiative normally, deployed, played through the first round, then switched armies and repeated. I think looking at my list from both sides was a good exercise and I’d be interested in trying it again, but it also was a little awkward to try to act like there would be more rounds, and USARF had first turn both times. Next time we’ll trade first turn.

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The one photo I remembered to take. My Hexa MULTI Sniper’s view to the starting point of the Maverick she revealed and shot at in response to the Maverick’s Impetuous activation. I rolled a 20. That became a theme for both of my Hexas. Woo!

Having not played any mission to completion, I don’t feel like I have a complete feel for anything, but I have some impressions.

The first thought that came to me with the conclusion of the exercise, was that I was set up to lean heavily on three models – Swiss Guard Assault Hacker, Aquila Guard Multi Rifle Lieutenant, and Hexa Spitfire – but I didn’t provide enough orders to power them. All three were in my first combat group, which was 10 orders, and I had two orders in the second group. When I was running my own forces, in the face of fairly extreme odds, Van Zant put down the Aquila, and a Pathfinder before running out of orders while Dogged. An infiltrating flamethrower grunt knocked out both the Hexa Spitfire and the Fusilier Missile Launcher with one template. (This is going to be a later point as well.) A Combi Fusilier was targeted, and taken out by the Katyusha. Going in to my first turn with only four orders in the group, plus the still hidden Swiss Guard’s order, was very painful. I opted to convert three orders to regulars, and use the Paramedic’s irregular to try to medikit the Aquila up, and succeeded! But then he died again in his first exchange on the next order. I now didn’t have enough orders to do anything useful. I attempted to maneouvre the Swiss Guard to shoot a Foxtrot in the back, but fell short by an inch. My opponent’s first turn really pulled the rug out of under me, I never had a chance to build up any sort of momentum. It was a great opening on his part, but I think I could have weakened the blow on my part before I even got to the table if I had put more orders into the list.

Part of the reason I was so low on orders was that I wanted to include all the shiny new toys. The one I was really forcing in there is the Aquila, and that’s just because I like it a lot thematically.  I find it a little hard to justify when I could be putting in the Deva Spitfire and still getting effective camo hunting at a lower cost, though. This is a new challenge for me, as the limited access to high-tech toys in Haqqislam means I haven’t generally needed to choose between them. I’ll need to learn how to decide when a particular piece of equipment is going to be valuable when I’m making my lists. I like the Aquila enough that I’ll still try to put it in there often, but I might leave the Swiss Guard out in that case.

The Aquila poses another challenge for me. If I’m running the MULTI Rifle I want to be able to use the Lieutenant Order on it, but without Chain of Command I’m inviting, if not guaranteeing, Loss of Lieutenant at some point. In Haqqislam, in addition to having Chain of Command unless it’s QK, I tend to think about a lot of my troops, with a high order count and a lot of redundancy, as fairly disposable. With the lower order count I was working with, and the heavy reliance on a few of my models, I needed to be a lot more careful and calculated than I’m used to being. This will be beneficial across all factions, I’m sure.

Related to being more careful, I should Dodge more. When, for example, being hit by a template I will frequently shoot anyway just because I’m willing to risk the Armor roll to remove my opponent’s model. With a need to preserve what I have, I think Dodging is something I should consider more, especially with TO Camo, since choosing not to Dodge is immediately writing that off. That’s not something I’ve had to deal with before since the drop from Camo to Mimetism isn’t quite as painful. Additionally, to support that, I should try to maintain Line of Fire overlooking my other troops. That is, of course, a good idea anyway, but it feels more important if I’m planning on Dodging more.

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I’m now thinking about what I want to try next.

I might feel more comfortable if I can construct a list that feels more similar to something I’d use in Haqqislam and just incorporate a few of the new toys I’m excited about at a time. The Bolts toolbox might feel a bit like the Muyib toolbox. My next game I’ll try out a core of Bolts and see how I like them. It seems like people generally love them or hate them. I hope I’m in the former group, as I now have six.

The trouble with that is I’m still at a relatively low order count. This is partially just because I am trying to stick to mostly models I own and I only have one box of Dronbots at the moment. I’ll need to pick up another one and add in Fugazis. I have, however, ran plenty of 10-12 order Hassassin lists so I think it will still be a valid experiment.

An ORC Haris is also something I’m now looking at trying, as I like Haris teams in general, but that will wait for another time. The next thing in my assembly queue is some more Bolts to fill out that Core link. After that I may pick up the new repacked ORC blister to get the full Haris and give it a try. In Hassassins I really enjoy the Asawira Haris with two Muyibs. A full ORC Haris will be much more expensive, for a much worse Haris option (that Spitfire Haris Asawira is just solid gold. Having to take a Boarding Shotgun for pretty much all the other ones always hurts after being used to the Spitfire) but has many more wounds and could be a pretty effective way to deliver a specialist through heavy resistance. I certainly wouldn’t scoff at a burst 5 HMG at BS 14.

Starting NCA: Expectations

I have mentioned Infinity in previous postings on this blog. My next several updates will be about Infinity. There are a lot of guides to starting new sectorials and to starting specific sectorials, and I won’t assume I know the answers to everything and provide that, instead I will be documenting my experiences delving into a new sectorial. I have not started yet, so this first article is about my expectations.

Starting in the next few weeks I will commit to playing the NeoTerran Capitaline Army at least until I’ve found my groove with them and feel like I understand the sectorial. It has been nearly two years since I last played PanOceania. I have only ever played Vanilla PanO before. I have decided after spending time on all the flavors of Haqqislam, to take a vacation to the lovely vistas and villas of NeoTerra.

As I’ve never played NCA and I’ve only played against NCA once, I don’t really know what I’m getting into. I do have expectations, though.

First, things I expect to enjoy about playing NCA, outside the table:

  1. I like the sectorial thematically as a Classicist.
  2. I like the Latin names, and especially the Aquila for ties to Rome.
  3. The NeoVatican relations are also fun.

These are the things I expect to enjoy on the table:

  1. TO Camo. Haqqislam only has one TO model in the Tuareg, and as I play more Sectorials than Vanilla, I’ve used the Tuareg… twice? I’m expecting to have a lot of fun with Hexas and Swiss Guard.
  2. MSV3. I’ve been running a lot of Djanbazan cores lately because I run in to a lot of camo/ODD in my meta. Auto discovering and ignoring surprise shot from all those camo tokens is going to be beautiful.
  3. MULTI weapons. Haqqislam has very limited access to MULTI Snipers, and no MULTI Rifles or HMGs. I do love my Shock Ammo, but I am going to enjoy shooting DA again.

Clausewitz-Uhlans-und-Acontecimento-Tikbalangs--2

While I am really looking forward to that sweet, sweet tech, there are things I know I’ll miss about Haqqislam, and I may find myself wishing I had them or needing to find an alternative method to solve the problems I’ve used them to solve.

I expect I will miss:

  1.  Viral Ammunition. It’s so good.
  2. Shotguns on everything.
  3. Shock Marksman Rifles.
  4. Smoke. NCA doesn’t even have PanO’s single access to Eclipse smoke (the Guarda de Assaulto) so no smoke tricks, and no cover for movement.

I expect the specific things I’ll miss, as well as just some of the differences in what Haqqislam is good at vs what PanO is good at, will give me some difficulties. Especially losing my Haqqislam crutches because not all of them translate directly to something NCA can give me. The most glaring crutch I don’t see a replacement for is Warbands. I love my Warbands. I lean very heavily on Muttawi’ahs and Yuan Yuans in Haqqislam. I’ll still have the DTWs from Auxbots, but those are not Warbands. Without anything to just unleash and cause general chaos more pressure will be put on my main forces to keep the pressure on my opponent. I think I’ll need to improve my ARO game overall and think harder about my deployment.

 

I said that I want to stick with NCA at least until I’ve found my groove. Everyone has their own play style, but I think that style can be different and sometimes needs to be different from faction to faction in Infinity since the sectorials can be so different from each other. I feel like NCA is well suited to both a very heavy assault approach and to a more delicate approach of powering a few TO units. I expect going in guns blazing will be fun and novel for me, but I’ll tend more to being sneakier and running multiple Hexas with a defensive Fusilier link and inexpensive remotes to power them. I am drawn to those expensive power pieces like the Aquila Guard and the Swiss Guard so I will probably split the difference and build my list around one powerhouse and then Hexas to push buttons and move around the table more freely, and then Fusiliers. I’ll have to give a Bolts Core a try at some point, but I suspect they’ll be more mission specific for me. I’ll probably always have an Albedo Black Friar.

I mentioned several specific units just now, and I’m excited to use all of those, along with a few others. The things I want to make sure I try and am excited to put on the table are:

  1. Aquila Guard
  2. Swiss Guard
  3. Black Friar
  4.  Hexa
  5.  Uhlan
  6.  CSU
  7.  Auxilia

BlackFriar-Multirifle2

So those are my expectations. I think this is going to be a fun experience for me, and I hope it’s useful and/or interesting to others to be able to read about my experiences delving into this new sectorial. I received a lot of positive commentary about my analysis videos during Wotan, so I intend to bring those back as part of this series.

My closing question for this post is: What would you like me to reflect on during this process?

Extra Life 2016 Recap

Extra Life last year went wonderfully. I’ve been juggling a lot of things lately, and didn’t say anything about it here, but I have one of my big prizes finished so it seemed like a good time to post the recap.

Highlights of the campaign:

  • I broke my personal fundraising record
  • I received a huge batch of prizes donated from Blizzard employees that were exciting to give out.
  • I worked with Play it Painted to run the Paint Day at Comic Quest.

I’m still distributing prizes, but the bulk of them have gone out now.

I once again offered both painting services and adventure writing services, and am doing one of each. The painting request was a Gray Death Legion Shadow Hawk for BattleTech. I just did a photo session with it, so here those are:

I noticed that it still had some shiny spots, but decided to take the photos anyway and then put another matte coat down. So this technically isn’t the final product, but it’s very close.

I also have a 360º video here.

NAGADEMON: Neverwhere RPG

I was hoping to have this more done before posting it, but here we are at the end of November.

My wife and I have talked about running a Neverwhere game as co-GMs for a while now, and it came up again at about the same time as I found out about NAGADEMON, so I decided to make some custom rules for it.

They’re pretty simple.

The rules are here.

The character sheet is here.

That’s it for now, folks! I hope someone finds it useful/fun/inspiring/cool/not awful!

Infinity: Attrition League Narrative

Intro:

78 hours ago, Sphere Standard Time, the PanOceanian salvage ship Ambition attempted to take in a Templar craft found adrift in the Human Edge near the gas giant HD 23523 c. The Ambition was attacked by a Combined Army ship as it was towing in the Templar craft. In the ensuing combat, all three ships were damaged and trapped in the gravity of the planet’s second moon, designated c/2173 (HD 23523).

With the HD 23523 system being too far from any circular route for timely reinforcement from the Sphere, patrols in the area were redirected to the moon to neutralize the Combined Army threat, and provide aid to any survivors.

The potential to quietly secure lost Templar technology while achieving their main objective has not been overlooked by any military command.

About  c/2173 (HD 23523):

Early colonization efforts were abandoned when what was thought to be a rich Teseum deposit was depleted not far below the surface. This left scattered collections of buildings across the otherwise gray, monotonous surface. The surface is composed primarily of shale, forming an irregular, soft landscape.

The atmosphere is breathable, but thin, and slightly acidic. The lack of maintenance following abandonment has allowed the acidity in the atmosphere to slowly wear at the structures, leaving them in varying degrees of instability.

Gravity is low, at about .75G. Considering the low gravity, soft, breakable landscape, and decaying structures, surface parties should be reminded to mind their footing. Any troops familiar with adjusting to peculiarities of terrain should have little difficulty.

Infinity: Attrition League

OR Introducing Resource Management to Infinity the Game by Corvus Belli

I asked the guys over at MayaCast for their thoughts on a Resource Management mechanic for Infinity, and it ended up generating a lot of chatter both in their listener emails and on Facebook, so I decided to put what I ended up doing out for the public to see.

I have not tried these rules yet, as I had been busy with Extra Life events, and now we’re coming up on the Holiday season and people’s schedules are crowded.

What I decided to do is a four round series of 300 point ITS missions, with bonus objectives tailored to the narrative. There is a fair amount of bookkeeping between rounds, so my intention is to do these either over 2 weekend days, or 4 week nights.

In any case, here are the rules I ended up with:

  1. Create two 450 point lists, following ITS rules for SWC, AVA, etc.
    1. Send them to the TO
  2. For each round, create a 300 point list from your total of 900 points selected earlier.
  3. At the end of each round, following medevac/cubevac rolls, remove dead units from the total units available.
    1. Roll under the Physique of each dead model. Cube grants +1, Cube 2.0 Grants +2. A successful roll revives the unit. With a failed roll the unit is lost.
    2. Send a list of what units died to the TO
  4. After 2 rounds, 150pts of Mercenaries can be hired.
    1. Send the list of which mercenaries were selected to the TO

The big question for everyone I talked to about this, or heard talking about this, was what to do with Cubes. If Cubes get an edge, Ariadna suffers comparatively. If Cube 2.0 gets the edge they have in Paradiso, ALEPH just ignores the whole point of the exercise. So I went away from both the Paradiso rules, and standard Infinity math. +2 hopefully won’t break things too much for ALEPH, but they’re a little less likely to lose their precious named characters. And presumably they’re paying for that Cube 2.0 somewhere in their point costs, even if it’s only a point or two. If this doesn’t work, I’ll revise it.

 

And for those who want to play along at home, I’ll be posting my “narrative” when I run it here. Since this is all about the new list building mechanic, the narrative is pretty light – just a little fun and an explanation of why you can’t get reinforcements easily.