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Infinity N4: ISS Versus Varuna

Another weekend gone and another game of Infinity N4 thrown down. Sean and I both decided to keep exploring the sectorials we tried last week but upped the points to the full 300 point game. It would be a sneaky Varuna Immediate Reaction Division versus the eagle-eyed Imperial Service.

Varuna (keeping the lieutenant hidden)

This list is similar to last week’s 200 point list but I switched the Zhanying Haris to more of a hunting party with a closer ranged Hsien and a sensor driven Zhanying with lieutenant. I added my favorite model, the Su-Jian murder kitty and tried out a Rui Shi remote. To round it out, I brought the killer hacker Ninja as an insurance in case Sean wants to go comms war on me.

We decided to roll a random mission from the CodeOne 20×20 fan-created mission pack. We landed on “Alien Signals” and the the twist was it had us place 2 mines on the table that would affect any unit on the board. The Alien Signals start in the center of the board and after deployment move a random direction with a random distance. Three of them litter the map this way and any figure can be in contact with one to use a skill and try to gain an objective point. Get three in one turn and you get a bonus point.

I was a little worried this scenario might swing one way or another due to the random placement so we thought to limit it so that the signals couldn’t move to a deployment zone in round one.

I won the lieutenant roll and decided to choose deployment. Sean chose to go first and have me deploy first. I chose the top of the map as seen above. Going second, I didn’t feel like I brought a good ARO list to hamper his forces so I decided to conserve and hide my units in total cover. Sean deployed with lots of ARO options out including his Core fireteam in the center with nice diagonal corridors and equal secondary AROs with his TR bot on right and a camo’d Helot and the Zulu spitfire and rocket launcher Helot on the left.

We rolled for the signals (using purple supply crate tokens) and sure enough, they all scattered to my side of the map. The Blue shipping container was the edge of my zone so all the signals fell into my lap. Sean was up first though so it was his round to get to work.

Round 1a – Varuna

Sean didn’t relish the idea of sending all his troops out to try to claim the signal tokens in round 1, only to get shot to pieces during my turn. There was also the question of could he send anyone out to Rambo them for a suicide mission. On the one hand, I was pretty-well dug in and wouldn’t have a lot of shots at the unit coming in but that unit would surely die in my turn and it would take most/all his orders to get someone over there. Since I stripped two orders from him at the start of the round, this prospect looked least appealing.

Sean decided to set up defenses and make it harder for me to get to even the closest signals. His Croc Man set up a couple of mines in the left diagonal hall (under the catwalk buildings) and a repeater for additional security. The rest of his turn, he set up to get LoF options on all the signals. Satisfied, he turned the turn over to me.

Round 1b – ISS

Before I began, I asked the critical question: Do any of your non-camo figures have MSV (since the list printing feature in the Army builder isn’t at 100% yet, we didn’t courtesy lists)? The answer was no. Maybe a camo token or two would have it but all the figures I could see threatening the signal tokens didn’t and that was good enough for me.

I set the Celestial Guad Core to work, launching a few smoke grenades. They landed easily (using Targeted tokens) and completely blocked all Sean’s careful LoF maneuvers. I then had the Pheasant Duo run out with Adil under the cover of smoke and picked up two of the three signals. They pushed into the midfield to set up some defenses in case the Pan-O needed to rush through to my side.

The Zhanying Haris then moved out to pick up the third signal and push into the midfield as well, just inches shy of the repeater the Croc Man dropped earlier. This Haris was my hunting team with my Hsien using a Mult-Marksman Rifle at relatively closer ranges and the Zhanying with all the sensors I needed. Xi Huang was just a long for the ride to push buttons or throw down another mad trap as a defense. I realize I should have ended the turn putting one out but got sidetracked. The Zhanying discovered the two mines the Croc Man deployed.

I wanted that corridor as my main attack vector as I could throw smoke and have the Hsien come out to start ruining that Pan-O Core’s day. I needed to burn some orders to take out the mines and decided the Su-Jian should play. I didn’t notice the Orc Varuna and another of the Core had a shot on him so he dodged around the corner only to take an exploding shot and suffer two wounds. Luckily, the Su-Jian is super tough so it kept on going, this time peaking out to spot the mines and shoot them easily.

Getting low on orders, I shuffle my Celestial Guard core around to get out of some potential AROs after the smoke clears. It doesn’t do any good as they just aren’t in a good spot. I end the round up 4 points to zero.

Round 2a – Varuna

The round starts with us moving the signals and after the rolls, they basically are in the same area, just moved to might left side (opposite where most of my figures went). This is basically game over for Pan-O. The routes he has to get these signals are now in complete fire of 90% of my team so he’ll have to get through my whole army to get even one signal. If he can’t do that and I get even one, there’ll be no way he can catch up in points.

This is pretty discouraging so we try to solve this puzzle together knowing it is pretty hopeless. My team only has 2 specialists (that he knows of) and the biggest killer is smoke. Sean decided he doesn’t have enough orders to get people into ARO threat range and kill my smoke grenade launcher so he pushes his whole team out to try to kill my exposed specialists and make it hard to get a smoke shot off and get the signals.

With Pan-O on the move, Sean needs to take care of some things. First he starts the Core team to move out and blow up one of the mission mines he discovered earlier in round 1. Then his Croc Man moves out and (worried my Hsien may try to dodge away), puts another repeater out. I fail and then his hacker gets to work.

But! I have my Killer Hacker Ninja in waiting so when his hacker boots up, I reveal and react back with Trinity, hoping to take the hacker down. The hacker is trying to go through my Haris team that has a -6 firewall so the hacker gets two attacks with a target 6 and my KHD ninja gets one attack at 13. The Hsien tries to reset to avoid the hacker (target 14).

In a bout of terrible rolls, the hacker gets both hits and the Hsien blocks only one and then the Hsien fails the save to go into isolated. I forget what list I have and think that that was my lieutenant. I still have the Pheasant for Chain of Command. My Ninja whiffs the attack roll and the crummy Pan-O hacker pulls off a crazy turn. The Zulu Killer hacker then goes after my Ninja. Ninja flubs the roll again and goes down.

Emboldened by the hacking successes, the Core team moves out and eventually takes the central building, gaining LoF to a lot of my team. All my AROs fail and his shots eventually bring down my Pheasant (chain of command), Xi Huang, and put a wound on Adil (my remaining specialist). Shots get traded around some more with Adil dodging out of sight several times. The field is very much in Pan-O hands at this point with Yu Jing down several key pieces and all of Pan-O’s forces are still intact.

Round 2b – ISS

I’m about to start consolidating command tokens to convert what I can to regular orders when I check my list and realize I made the Zhanying my lieutenant and I wasn’t actually in “loss of lieutenant”. This was never announced to Sean so it wouldn’t have changed who he targeted but it did make ending this game pretty easy.

With plenty of orders to burn, my Celestial Guard Core (down a few Kuang Shi) was able to lay down more smoke and cut off all the LoF gains Pan-O made. That done, Adil then ran around capturing the signals to gain another 4 points for Yu Jing.

With no way of winning, we called the game.

Yu Jing: 8 objective points
Pan-O: x objective points

Yu Jing wins!

So that mission was a bust but kudos to Sean for going all out in the second round to keep things interesting. The lack of MSV to get around my smoke proved to be a pretty hard counter to his forces. In a mission that didn’t revolve around touching tokens, the smoke grenades proved to be the only thing I actually needed. Failing hacking attacks that were heavily favored, watching my murder kitty eat an explosion in the face and watching my AROs just fail to protect my line when that Pan-O Core fireteam came hunting didn’t matter when a little bit of smoke let the remaining force tickle the signals for sweet objective points.

Pan-O didn’t lose a single unit but I lost 144 points, almost half my points, to the victory. The Emperor must be so proud. I have to wonder if the game could have been Sean’s (or a much tighter/hard fought game) if he’d used that first turn to go all in aggressive and rush that Fireteam out into the mid-board building position. I know he was counting on the signals to reverse course and head back to his side of the board but it is kind of like racing games that are just “roll and move.” The pawn that gets the highest die roll to move at the start of the game is usually the winner. If this mission is thought of as that race and the signals all flipped to one side, the likelihood that they will reverse and all go over to his side is exceedingly low. They have to get the right direction (roughly 25% to have a good enough angle to get out of my side of the board) and get enough distance to push across the center line (50%). And really, all that does is bring the signals back to parity, they don’t favor him in that position. With only 3 rounds for these signals to “equalize,” if an extreme placement happens at the start, there is little chance they will do any different.

An aggressive first turn was definitely possible since most of my force was cowering. Pan-O might not have been able to get any signals on turn one but could have set up aggressively for a turn 2 kill fest. Smoke was always going to be the deciding factor and his forces might have done well to go prone once they got that high position and let me have the signals for round 1. Then turn 2, he could open up on me similar to what he did. The difference is he wouldn’t have needed any orders to get into position, could have decimated my force and possibly gotten points on the board. It’s all just a theory but something I should consider in the future if I’m on the receiving end of a lopsided mission like that.

ORCs eat mines for breakfast. Nomnom.




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  1. Sean

    It was def an interesting mission. And yeah, going into it – there was some pretty obvious signs that the mission could be very, very swingy. Overall, I had fun. When Turn 2 happened and the mission was lost, I then looked at it as a learning experience (first time playing with a 5-unit core fireteam) and I did learn a lot.

    And I think that’s the right way to approach mini-games – when the scenario/mission is a forgone conclusion against you, use the opportunity to try stuff you normally would not. Gather knowledge that you can take into the next game.

    • Christian

      Totally! There was a few moments during your suicide run in turn 2 where I thought you might turn it around. It was a testament to the “never give up” style of play that we should embrace more often.

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