All posts by mittenninja

Irmandinhos – Unit Analysis

An Irmandinho will buy or sell anything, that much is known: if it’s broken, he’ll fix it; if he can’t fix it, he’ll use it to bash someone’s head in.”

Ask any Ariadna/TAK player and they’ll tell you how much they love the Irmandinhos. They’re warbands, specialists, smoke support, harassers, and with the right booty roll they can really punish an opponent who ignores them.

StarCo is lucky enough to get access to these formidable troops, albeit at only AVA1. The Irmandinhos are the only true warband style unit available to StarCo (Jaguars being the next closest thing) and, like a number of units in the faction, can fill multiple roles beyond being an effective warband troop.

At CC20 and PH14, these guys are no slouch in melee, and with booty lvl1 offering a number of CCW possibilities, you could very well utilize it. The high PH score also means he’s going to be very reliable as a source of smoke. BS10 means that the chain rifle option is most often going to be the go to choice for profiles, with the shotgun potentially seeing some use even though it is double the cost. WIP13 means he’s an effective button pusher and can repair troops with average effectiveness.

Being Impetuous means he’s not going to stick around in your DZ to wait to repair that Reaktion Zond you’ve got protecting a firelane though. He’s going to be pushing upfield and getting in the thick of things, which means if having an engineer readily available to bring REMs back up is part of your plan, taking a clockmaker in addition to the Irmie is probably a good call. However, the Irmie makes a phenomenal counterpart to a Riot Grrl or Brigada fireteam that is advancing as it will be keeping up under its own power, providing close support, and then available to lend a hand if the HI fall victim to EM/Adhesive ammo or Isolation.

The one truly unique thing the Irmandinhos is capable of in StarCo though is the ability to attach G: Servants (which aren’t available in Ariadna), and this makes for a very interesting and effective combination. If the owner of a G: Servant is Impetuous, the servant also becomes Impetuous. At first glance that might seem like a huge downside, but if you start thinking about utilizing the servant as more of an offensive/defensive tool rather than a means to engineer things it starts to show it’s true colors.

Having a servant in btb with an enemy not only ties it up, but also gives a burst bonus to the Irmandhinos if he jumps in too. Leaving the servant(s) out in LoF of enemy camo markers means they can declare discover AROs. Running servants into mines, perimeter weapons, or holoechoes can nullify those threats with little to no risk. Or using them to surround an enemy impersonator in your DZ (I love holding the Irmandinho as my reserve for this purpose) so that he can’t move without entering btb with either a servant bot or the Irmandinhos.

Another interesting note about the combination of being a specialist and having Booty/Scavenger is the interaction with panoplies in missions like firefight or the armory. The Irmandinhos will auto activate the panoplies without a roll and get to roll twice on the booty chart and choose which item they’d like to take. Something to definitely keep in mind for the appropriate missions.

Finding the 8 points in your list to include one of these total toolbox troops should be a priority in your lists, and spending the time to understand their capabilities and find the best way to utilize them will reward you greatly.

Suit Up

Finding the Right Fit For Your List

Lists in Infinity are like suits.

When you go to a store that knows what they’re doing to buy a suit, you’re going to get it tailored. It’s going to be adjusted and modified to suit your needs and preferences so that it fits perfectly. If you grab a suit from your friends closet? Probably not going to fit very well. Grabbing one fresh off the rack from the store? It might fit okay, but there are gonna be things that are off.

The same goes for lists in Infinity. If you take a list from the internet, it’s not going to be tailored to your playstyle, skill level, or what you’re comfortable with. Taking the time to really tailor a list to suit you and your personal strengths/weaknesses is a huge component of finding a list that really grooves with you and the way you play. This is why net-listing doesn’t really work for Infinity.

So how do you go about tailoring a list to you? First, you have to start to figure out what your playstyle is. Before you start trying to define every element of your play, we don’t need to get super specific here, we just need to figure out what elements you really enjoy/feel confident with. A broad playstyle example could be “camo skirmisher heavy” or “elite board control” or “Tarpit Swarm.” Playstyle still isn’t that easily defined, but it will give you a starting point. Figure out what types of troops you like to use and how you like to use them and start from there.

Take those units you gravitate towards and build support around them. Find other units that synergize well with them and help them achieve their goals. If you love combat jump troops and want to get the most out of them, try to include either an EVO or Hacker that can use controlled jump, for example. Utilize a long range unit that can punch a hole for your AD to drop into, or maybe utilize infiltrators to clear out or protect an area for them.

Experiment with “unpopular” or “unoptimized” choices too, you may find something off the beaten path that is perfect for you and your play. I can’t stress this point enough. I’ve found numerous units/profiles that the community at large has written off as “useless” or “inferior” and found uses for them that no other troop can fill.

Get ideas from other players. Find out what they like, and most importantly why they like it and how they use it. The “why” and “how” are the most vital pieces of information you can get as they give you some insight into what they use that troop for. If someone says “I love Guilang FOs, I always take one” and doesn’t give you context, you might miss out on the fact that he also runs multiple hackers and relies on the deployable repeaters to take on targets with hacking attacks. The “why” and “how” will tell you if that troop will fill a role that you want/need in your list.

After you’ve got something together, try it on.

Get some games in and get a feel for things. Find out of the order pools are too restricting, if you really could use another pocket over here, or of you need to shorten the cuffs to trim excess material. A skilled tailor can figure all of this out very quickly, but that takes experience. For the less veteran of us, it will take more time, but keep playing and keep getting closer to finding exactly what fits you best. Taking the time to get your suit tailored and fit to your preferences will ensure it is comfortable and effective in any situation.

X-Visors and You

X-Visors are a very effective pieces of equipment that don’t get enough love beyond being used in combination with suppression fire (which is a great use). They completely change the capability of the weapons alongside it in a way that is not immediately obvious, but when used intelligently can have drastic effect.

There are only two units that have X-Visors in StarCo, Emily Handelman and the Tsyklon. Both are great units and should see lots of play on the table, so its important to keep this piece of equipment in mind so you can utilize it to the fullest in the appropriate situations.

Emily has probably the most obvious use with her spec fire capabilities, but what truly makes the X-visor valuable is the other weapons in her arsenal. Her Combi rifle can now outrange Spitfires, Marksman Rifes, and basically every other mid range weapon that drops off after 24″. Coupled with her mimitism, high BS, and fireteam bonuses she can turn her otherwise short range rifle into a mid-long range precision tool, reaching out much further than people would expect. The other weapon that often gets forgotten is the flash pulse, which now is at +0 rangebands all the way out to 48″. With WIP14 (and probably fireteam bonuses!) that’s a really solid ARO for almost anywhere on the table.

The Tsyklon is going to be either rocking a Spitfire or a Fuerbach along with a pitcher. The Fuerbach only gains benefit from the X-Visor at 0-8″, bringing the rangeband back to +0, otherwise it’s +0 all the way out to 48″ anyways. The spitfire however changes it’s 24-32″ band to a +0 from a -3 and will be shooting at -3 out to 48″ instead of -6. You can utilize the spitfire in a similar manner to the Combi on Emily (and it’s a phenomenal suppression fire candidate with it’s 360 visor as well), out reaching weapons that normally drop off hard past 24″, but where the X-Visor comes into play the most on each profile is the pitcher.

With pitchers being disposable (2), every shot needs to count, and the +3 rangeband on them isn’t too forgiving at 8-16″. Bringing the 16-24″ band to +0 is a big deal and will likely save you orders and ammo for this valuable equipment. It also extends out the areas where you can realistically get your hacking area extended too, which can be huge for your order efficiency, and vital if you’re running a heavy hacking list like this.

Leveraging your former -3 range (or even your former -6) to push out past the good ranges of your opponent is key to leveraging X-Visors effectively, which feels odd and counter intuitive initially because we’ve all trained ourselves to stick to our positive ranges. Get used to getting outside your comfort zone with your X-Visors, and you will be rewarded.

Spec Fire Speculation

As a StarCo player, you will undoubtedly be using the speculative fire skill more often than most, and while it may seem like an incredibly powerful skill that should be the cornerstone of your attack plan, I think it’s important to take a step back and look at how effective it really is (or isn’t).

It’s no stretch to say that with a fully linked Emily Handelman that StarCo has the most dangerous spec fire game in Infinity. She’s BS13, benefitting from the fireteam BS bonus, and has an xvisor to mitigate some range penalties for further shots. This means that at worst she’s looking for 7s out to 48″ and at best is looking for 13s between 8-16″. Hitting someone on a 13, or even a 10 with their only response being a dodge seems like a very tempting proposal, but it’s still only 1 die vs 1 die, and they still get a save afterwards unless you rolled a crit. The odds are not as favorable as you might initially think.

This is Emily in a full core team in 8-16″ range spec firing against a lone Ghulam.

A ~36% success rate is far from ideal, and this is against a trooper with poor PH and without sixth sense and in a range that likely involves moving Emily and the fireteam up the table. Once you start piecing together a more typical scenario, it gets even worse.

This is Emily in a full fireteam again, but now she is shooting at a linked Zuyong between 16-24″.

Now we’re looking at a just under 20% success rate. Throwing one of your potentially 10 orders at a 20% chance of success is far from efficient, and barring a incredibly juicy target (or an obvious LT), a hail mary or having an order or two with nothing better to do, you’re better off using them elsewhere.

If you manage to get a target in the targeted state (which can be easier with StarCo than elsewhere via hacking and repeater networks) the odds jump up pretty significantly, but then you’re talking larger order investment that involves dicey 1 die vs 1 die rolls before you even start lobbing grenades. It’s something to keep in mind for sure, but should never be your promenint strategy.

So if the odds are so abysmal, what’s the point?

Art by MyNameIsRobotJones

Like many other things in Infinity, the psychological factor and mere presence of some units can shape the battlefield and influence your opponents decisions. If your opponent has any experience playing against Emily, they will take extra time to make sure that none of their troops are too clumped up to provide juicy targets. Chances are also good that Emily, or at least the fireteam she is in, will become a priority target. You can use this to your advantage in a number of ways. One specific tactic is if the table you’re playing at favors one DZ over the other heavily as far as areas where you can deploy in total cover. If you choose deployment, and force your opponent to deploy their forces where total cover is more scarce, they may be forced to clump their models up more than they would like, or end up leaving them exposed.

Your opponent may also be so focused on making sure they aren’t leaving a juicy spec fire target that they forget to cover all their angles for AD to approach, which you can then exploit with Hellcats and/or Raoul.

Beyond the mind game side of things, having the ability to spec fire as a fallback plan when things have gone south is always phenomenal to have. It means you always have an option, even if the odds aren’t phenomenal, and it’s an option that could potentially shift things back in your favor very quickly with a bit of luck. There are also times where if you can eliminate a single ARO piece, you could potentially save yourself numerous orders. Throwing a single order or two at trying to take it out with spec fire may be worth it if it saves you 3-4+ orders down the road.

Lastly, it doesn’t happen incredibly often, but every once in a while you’ve got an order and nothing to do with it. Spec fire gives you a reasonable use for that order with little to no risk and large potential gains.

Whatever you do, do not chase the dragon and keep dumping orders into speculative shots in the hopes of success. Determine how many orders you actually have to spend on shots before you start and stick to that number. Emily is a force to be reckoned with, but she can rob you of your most important resource if you don’t keep things in check.

Brawlers, Mercenary Enforcers – Unit Analysis

The Brawlers are the one unit that is present in all NA2 factions (besides the Japanese), despite this they have very different roles within each of those factions due to availability and fireteam differences. Some NA2 armies basically dont use them at all (Foreign Company) while they are backbone troops of others (Druze and Dahshat). Their role within StarCo falls somewhere inbetween as they have a modest AVA but fairly limiting options for fireteams.

By far and away, the most common Brawler you will see on the table with StarCo is the LT. At 16 points and 0 SWC it’s the most affordable LT option in the faction and unless you’ve got an extra 1 SWC laying around for the Aguiciles LT, should pretty much always be your LT choice. The Brigada, your only other choice, might see the table as your LT if you’re running the Brigada/Massacre/Daktari team, but will likely be left at home.

Other than heading up the leadership side of the force, the Brawlers add a couple of other unique elements to StarCo by providing the only access to MSV2, HRLs, and the cheapest AHD in the game. Beyond those, the roles the Brawlers fill are generally better filled with other units available in the force.

What really defines the Brawler’s place in StarCo is the way they are able to form fireteams. They have no Core option and are limited to a Haris (with the possible addition of a CSU and/or Raoul) or a Duo. This mean that even with AVA 4, you will likely never see them as a sizeable focal point of StarCo lists. A Haris with the sniper or HRL is probably going to be the most prominent representation of these mercs on the table. The Doctor and Engineer profiles are only really compelling if used as part of a haris team as the clockmaker/Irmandhinos/Daktari/Avicenna are superior specialists in those roles.

Brawlers are also StarCo’s Spec Ops option, so when using the extra you’ll be bringing a Brawler if you want to take advantage of that. In that instance, utilizing the Spec Ops in a Haris as either an active turn or ARO threat (BS14 Red Fury or BS14 Multi Sniper) gives you some punch that is otherwise lacking in the faction. Used as a solo piece, I would lean towards utilizing it to bolster your defenses with things like minelayer (which is otherwise absent from StarCo) and flamethrowers or go for inferior AD to bring another trooper that can attack from unexpected angles.

All in all, Brawlers fill a very niche role within the faction besides being a common LT option, which means you will be seeing at least one on the table frequently.

Hacking It With the Best of Them – Army List

Let me start out this post with letting you know that this list is my go-to and has been for quite a long time. This has been one of my two lists in every event where I’ve played StarCo, and I’ve been able to perform very well with it in that time. That being said, it is very untraditional and has some flaws that can be difficult to overcome at times. It will by no means be a list that everyone will be able to use well, nor will it be ideal in all situations, but it suits my playstyle to a ‘T’ so I have a hard time not keeping it on the roster.

See this list in ARMY

The two biggest things I want to highlight with this list before we look at anything else is the 4 hackers and the plethora of options for extending your hacking network. Uhahu and crew pack a very formidable hacking presence capable of going toe to toe with any of the elite hacking factions in the game, while two units with pitchers and two more with deployable repeaters gives you the ability to reach out and hack anywhere on the table with very little effort. This can be harder to leverage when facing factions with little to no hackable troops (Ariadna, Tohaa, etc) but each of the hackers can still provide useful presence on the table without having targets to hack, as well as provide coverage for classified objectives.

Our four hackers, Uhahu, an Aguiciles, a Bandit KHD, and a Brawler AHD cover all our hacking bases and have varied secondary roles and equipment. Uhahu is obviously your primary hacker with the HD+ and her own pitcher. Her ability to drop white noise when needed is vital as the list does not have any MSV. Cybermask can also be incredibly handy for moving her upfield to snag an objective or move into a better position to utilize her hacking.

The Aguiciles is the sneaky cornerstone of the hacking network. Because of the core fireteam bonuses, he’s now a hacker with Sixth Sense lvl2. Sixth Sense is a massive boon to hackers because it ignores stealth. Meaning if a stealth HI moves through a repeater, your Aguiciles will get an ARO. The HI can then respond by either moving again eating the hacking attempt unopposed, or it can attempt to reset, which will break stealth and provoke hacking AROs from all the other hackers. This is they key to locking down even the most elusive of hackables targets.

The Bandit doubles as a midfield Specialist and an effective combatant. Her shotgun and ADHL make for some nasty AROs when you can force your opponent into their ideal ranges, and while she is only WIP12, combined with the AROs from the other three hackers, she’s still a major hacking threat.

The Brawler AHD is the cheapest AHD in the entire game at 17 points and 0.5 SWC. She’s WIP12, like the bandit, so won’t be a primary hacker. But at that cost she’s adding incredible value as additional force multiplication in ARO.

Against forces with a large amount of hackables (or even just key hackable pieces), getting your repeater net out and in position quickly is key. Obviously going first here is a big advantage as you can either leverage the X-visor on the Tsyklon to shoot a pitcher or Combat Jump in the Hellcat to plop a repeater down in a difficult to reach spot. While involving a bit more risk, the Hellcat is the ideal choice as it also brings in a trooper to protect the repeater from non-hackables trying to take it out. Jumping the Hellcat in, dropping a repeater, and then going into suppression is a very common sequence of events for me.

The anchor of the list is the Aguiciles core fireteam composed of an HMG, one of each specialist profile, and Emily. This team is incredibly versatile and can handle most challenges on its own without much support. However, they are generally deployed out of sight and provide backup support to the rest of the list via their orders, sixth sense hacking, and Emily’s dreaded spec fire capabilities.

The Tsyklon plays both hacking support and fire support roles. The x-visor pairs very well with both the pitcher and fuerbach and the climbing plus lets it maneuver to get a bead on exactly what it needs to with minimal order investment. With the addition of supportware, the Tsyklon can also be an absolutely nasty ARO piece with burst 2 EXP rounds and ARM 6 in cover.

The Cateran is the closest thing to an auto-include for me in StarCo. For 24 points and 1 SWC you get a camo, climbing plus, bs12 T2 sniper. Climbing plus is an incredibly underrated skill and, especially on a platform like this, it can make for a very effective tool for eliminating key units as well as repositioning for ARO coverage. The psychological factor of facing down a T2 sniper can be massively effective at keeping heads down as well. He always makes my lists and nearly always is one of the MVPs.

Raoul Spector is the primary attack piece for this list, and he’s an absolute monster when he can find a hole to exploit. Utilizing his shotgun in combination with his drop bears gives him uncanny capability to set up template crossfire to catch multiple models in the blast. Throwing a drop bear in a position to trigger on a secondary target when the primary target AROs to Raoul gaining LoF is a tactic that will heavily reward your use of him. Couple that with his Mimitism, NWI, and scary CC capability and he can slug it out in close quarters with the best of them.

Rounding out the list is an Irmandhinos and a Brawler LT. The Irmandhinos are just phenomenal troops for the cost, acting as smoke support, engineers, and warbands and for 8 points it’s hard not to take him all the time. The Brawler is by far the best LT option in StarCo at 16 points and 0 SWC. The Aguiciles is a better LT with WIP13, but also boasts a 1 SWC cost and the Brigada LTs are very pricey for what they bring.

This list is able to perform incredibly well against forces who rely on HI, REMs, TAGs, or hackers with the ability to completely bog down any advance and then maneuver key pieces onto position to either attack or snag objectives.

Where it has a little bit more of a challenge is against forces that are completely non-hackable or going second against a powerful alpha strike. Both of these situations force you to leverage a more hit and run, guerilla style mindset and utilize the mobility and precision firepower in the list.

Anaconda Merc. TAG Squad – Unit Analysis

Don’t Want None Unless…

Yes, the Anaconda is one of the most maligned TAGs in the game. Yes, it’s 4-4 move. Yes, it only has 2 STR. Yes, the pilot isn’t a specialist, hell it isn’t even a pilot. Yes, it was one of the select few TAGs to go UP in cost this season. But is it worth taking?

In StarCo, the answer is absolutely yes. Now before you get up in arms and yell at the screen “No, this thing is complete garbage”, hear me out. StarCo lacks big beefy active turn threats. Their options are a Mobile Brigada HMG (42 points 2 SWC), a Riot Grrl Spitfire (34 points 2 SWC), and the Anaconda (66-68 points depending on if you take the Spitfire or the HMG and 2 SWC) if you want BS 13 (the highest BS in StarCo) and a burst 4 weapon that can reach to at least 24″. So what does the extra 25-30 points for the Anaconda get you that the other two don’t have?

Well, the largest factor is the ARM/BTS of 6, which is twice as much protection as the other two (okay not twice as much ARM as the Brigada, but damn close). The other large factor is the Silhouette size.

“But wait, being a larger silhouette is a bad thing.”

Except it isn’t. Not necessarily.

Granted, this is largely going to be dependent on the terrain that you are playing on, but being larger means you can traverse the table more easily. Vaulting over obstacles that lowly S2 models would have to spend multiple orders either climbing over or going around which can make the 4-4 move a little easier to swallow ( Let me go on the record and say I still think the Anaconda should be 6-4 move though). This can get you to optimal firing positions, in position to score (the Anaconda makes a great Datatracker BTW), or help you back off to a safer spot before your turn ends.

The extra points also net you either a chain colt or a light flamethrower, something that both of the Anaconda’s competitors lack. A DTW makes for a great defensive tool as well as a way to force some bad decisions for your opponent. Coupled with the highest ARM/BTS in StarCO and you are more likely to tank the return fire too. In addition, you get a panzerfaust, which is a great anti armor tool or devastating ARO threat. Lastly is the Fatality lvl1 from being a TAG which means the snake is dishing out the highest damage weapons within the faction as well. Season 11 also brings along an extra order via tactical awareness.

There are some downsides to being a TAG over HI. The elephant in the room being possession. I’m not going to lie, having this thing turned against you isn’t a good thing to be vulnerable to. But the escape system is actually a huge benefit to this. If your Anaconda were to get possessed and you dropped it to 0 STR, the escape system still triggers. That means a cloud of smoke appears and your bs12 Spitfire operator who is worth 66-68 points pops out as is not possessed by your opponent since she is not a TAG. This can be huge for zone control missions or objective domination missions as the operator retains the Datatracker status of the TAG. Other than possession, the TAG is really vulnerable to the exact same stuff that HI is, and its more resilient to it.

“What about link teams?” you ask. “The Brigada and the Grrls can both be in core teams, providing effective BS16 with burst 5!”

While you aren’t wrong, we’re now comparing apples to oranges. Involving fireteams means increased costs (~150+ points vs ~70 points), increased vulnerabilities from fireteam mechanics and footprint, and dedicating more of your list composition to making a gun more effective at shooting. The Anaconda does those things with more cost efficiency, resilience, and more mobility while the only major disadvantage is vulnerability to an additional hacking program.

Now let me be honest with you here. You’re not going to take the Anaconda all the time. You might not even take it outside of Show of Force and that’s okay. But comparing the Anaconda to other TAGs and saying it isn’t good enough or it isn’t worth it’s points just isn’t true. The Anaconda is the most brute force fire support unit available in StarCo. This is why you use it. A resilient, BS13 DAM16 HMG with an extra order for the cost of an elite HI that can still hold a zone or keep providing an order after taking two wounds. That’s a tool that is definitely not useless.