History is supposedly written by the victors, but that was looking unlikely at the point I offered to compile this report. Dan’s Yu Jing force were off to a flying start in our 100 point Annihilation match, and even with limited experience I could tell that the early momentum was going his way. Luckily for me this plucky O-12 quintet turned out to be more resilient than either of us expected, so here I am as battle reporter AND buzzer-beating victor.
O-12 SQUAD PLANNING
With a good deal of guess work I’d planned half a dozen or so 100 point squads that could work for this opening round of the N4 Escalation League. The rationale behind the list I eventually settled on was:
- Make the most of Epsilon’s MSV-2 and shooting options (went with Heavy Machine Gun over Sniper Rifle given the terrain layout on the table we were allocated).
- Make the most of the Gangbuster’s Forward Deployment and minelaying utility.
- Maximise the order pool and provide smoke for Epsilon to shoot through with the impetuous Varangian Guard.
My opponent Dan’s Yu Jing squad included a sniping Haidao, a Hsien Lieutenant with MULTI Rifle and two smoke-throwing, impetuous Shaolin Warrior Monks.
Dan won the opening roll and chose to keep initiative. He annoyingly (sorry Dan) held back his Haidao to deploy last, so I kept my Gangbuster in the hope of limiting the sniper’s impact even a little. The Haidao deployed atop a building towards one corner of the table, so the Gangbuster immediately forward-deployed with its first Madtrap mine halfway up the board near the same edge to discourage future flanks.
I’d initially miscalculated Dan’s order pool and used an executive Command Token to start out with suppressive fire on my lieutenant instead of removing two orders from Dan’s first turn. This would prove costly when I eventually realised he was starting out with eight orders to my seven…
Then Dan sniped my suppressive fire lieutenant and I was down to five orders, one of which was impetuous… bugger.
There was some smoke bomb action and a successful armour save before Commander Cho (who had been holomasked as a Kappa Hacker) finally went unconscious, but it was pretty tidy ranged work from Dan’s monks and Haidao. A couple more moves and the dangerous MSV-2 sniper was nearing the middle of the map to lock down three of my remaining troops in the opposite quadrant.
Leaving his Haidao facing towards the middle of the map enabled what could have been an elegant and deadly response from my Gangbuster. Four orders would be just enough for him to:
- Enter Impersonation-2 state using Cybermask.
- Make two full moves across the midline of the map, hopefully avoiding detection from Dan’s one possible ARO trooper.
- Drop a mine behind the Haidao sniper and/or shoot it in the back with an SMG.
In reality only Step 1 took place, as Dan’s Hsein discovered the Gangbuster on the first try then nailed it with a single shot as it attempted the second move towards cover. He graciously allowed the Gangbuster to drop his mine while falling unconscious, but this would be the Gangbuster’s final contribution for the match. The potentially awesome flanking response was a flanking failure.
Converting the leftover regular order into a coordinated move allowed my three remaining troopers to reposition and ARO most of the entry lanes to ‘O-12 Stronghold’ if needed.
Dan’s Hsein had set itself up behind cover with a smoke wielding monk earlier in the game. Given that smoke would be of no use against my waiting Epsilon the monk impetuously move-dodged out of cover for an ill-fated push. Naturally the Epsilon’s HMG took care of this, reducing Dan’s order pool by two. The Hsein was next to try breaking cover, relying on its strong shooting profile to solve the Epsilon problem. Unfortunately for Dan the Hsein’s MULTI Rifle was operating at -3 and my HMG was +3. The dice went my way and Dan’s Hsein dropped to a single wound remaining. The Hsein must have been feeling bloodlust as he then pushed my Dakini Tacbot, a much weaker shooter at only BS 11. The dice were on my side however, as we drew the roll and all three O-12 troopers survived unscathed for another turn. With this twist of fate Dan was now in the precarious position of having his lieutenant exposed in the middle of the map, a fact which my Tacbot would immediately seek to exploit.
With only one impetuous and two regular orders left I moved my Varangian Guard around cover at the edge of the map with the vague goal of curling in behind Dan’s troops sometime in the future. At this point I still thought Infinity matches went for four rounds, so the planning wasn’t spot on…
For now my objective was simply to take aim at the uncovered Hsein with Tacbot’s Combi rifle. The first regular order was a big old miss; the second did the job. Two more orders down from Dan’s formidable starting pool, meaning Turn Three would be a more even affair.
In what should have been a decisive move, Dan’s Haidao sniper pushed forward unchallenged. This left one order with which to round a corner and shoot my poor Tacbot Paramedic in the face with a Breaker Pistol. The pistol hit twice, but remarkably the Tacbot saved both wounds. What’s going on?!?
With only three orders of my own I took advantage of the Varangian Guard’s impetuousness to move slightly towards Dan’s Deployment Zone (but mostly towards the centre of the map). The two remaining regular orders enabled the Guard to exit cover unseen, line up the Haidao and fire a burst into its back. One hit plus one failed armour save equals one unconscious sniper.
[NOTE: Had the Haidao been oriented slightly more towards mid-map he would have been able to ARO my Varangian Guard and alter the outcome, but I’ll gladly take that oversight!]
Dan was quick to offer his congratulations to which I responded with some confusion, expecting a fourth round to follow like in Warcry. It turns out that Infinity only has three rounds per match though, so that final shot with the Combi Rifle was enough to swing the objective points in my favour and secure the win at the last possible moment.
Complete shock ensued. Except that as an O-12 I’m pretty much shock resistant. You get the idea though…
This game was an intoxicating mix of stress, fun and deep thinking. We both made some sensible strategic plays, some ill-conceived strategic plays and took about half an hour to think each one up, but that’s part of the learning experience. For my first N4 experience (in table size if not army size) I’d say it was an immense success.
Big thanks to Dan Smith for the game, Jacob Hawkins for organising, Outpost 6030 for hosting and the combined brains trust of the N4 Escalation League 2021 for a great night overall!
Now to get theory-crafting for 150 points…