Hi everyone and welcome to part 3 of my escalation league series! In the last article I wrote a battle report for the first mission. However, I think the less said about that game, the better! In this article I’m going to talk about the second mission, including the objectives, and the list I had planned.
As with my prior list discussion, my intention here is to try to spark some inspiration or excitement for possibilities that you may not have considered before. Having said that, my chosen force was very similar to the last one I fielded, so I will not be adding a great deal of extra exploration. If you want to go back to see my previous list and strategy discussion you can find that article here.
Escalation League Round Two
Rules in brief:
- Normal table size (48″ x 48″) and deployment zones (12″ deep) etc.
- Armies can contain up to 150 points and 3SWC
- Points are scored for killing opposing troops and keeping your own alive
- Unlike the last mission, lieutenants are necessary
- No use of advanced rules (hacking, coordinated orders, command tokens, special terrain)
- The game ends automatically after the third round
- Retreat! rules do not apply
You can find the full rules in the ‘Rules and Missions’ document on the ‘Downloads’ section of the Infinity website.
As with all games I spent some time thinking about the deployment rules, the objectives I needed to achieve, and the size of my force. The second round of an escalation league is much like the first in that there are no added complications to do with deployment and the objectives are very straightforward – it’s a simple case of removing opposing troops and keeping your own safe. With a force size of 150 points and 3SWC (30 points more than mission 1 which was 120 points), I was aiming for closer to 10 orders. In the last mission I had 5, which I did not find sufficient.
List Building Strategy
Given that this mission was the same as the last, there is very little to add to the original thoughts I had about list strategy for that first round. Therefore, my goals were similar to those I had for mission 1 – to field an order-efficient and aggressive list that had the means to deter hostilities from the opponent.
The goals I gave originally and their justifications were:
- Due to the limited number of troops you can field at 120 points I thought it would be hard to play a solid defensive game. I therefore wanted to play aggressively. At 150 points this sentiment has not changed much so it remained an objective.
- I did not want to waste time moving when I could be attacking, so I opted to focus on impetuous troops that get ‘extra’ orders and camouflage or impersonation troops that can deploy close to the enemy. This seems like a solid tactic for all armies that focus on maximising opposing casualties and so I was happy to retain this goal.
- I wanted to discourage counter-attacks so I was keen to find potent ARO pieces and troops with skills that make them difficult to kill such as camouflage or impersonation. Again, minimising friendly losses is still an objective so I retained this ideal.
There was one key difference between this round and the last one, which was that I now had 150 points to play with instead of 120. This might not seem like it should drastically change my strategy but it did prompt me to start thinking about taking a larger list. One of the problems I had when playing round 1 was a lack of regular orders to achieve my objectives. If you recall the battle report for that mission, I found myself in a situation on turn 1 where Al-Djabel was stuck close to the Rui Shi, but unable to remove it safely due to a lack of orders. Part of that problem was certainly due to poor order management, but I still wanted a protective buffer against that occurring again. This time I was looking to include at least 6 regular orders. A small change, but I felt it was important.
This is what I settled on for mission 2:
Why These Choices?
This wasn’t a ground-breaking list by any means. In fact, it’s virtually the same force as the one I took for round 1. There were a few reasons for this:
Firstly, and most obviously the list did what I wanted it to do in round 1. It felt powerful and aggressive. Zuleyka and Al-Djabel reached the opponent’s troops quickly. The force gave me options, and it could react to a variety of different situations with multiple diverse weapons. Yes, I played it poorly first time around, but I really felt that was a reflection on my own decision-making, and therefore didn’t warrant changing anything except my own approach to the game. So, despite the result from round 1, I was happy with my original choices.
Secondly, Al-Djabel (and Fidays in general) are hard to play. Like many units in this game, they’re tricky to get right, and this only comes with practice. The more I play these difficult units, the more experience I pick up and the better decisions I make. I have to go through uncomfortable games where I make mistakes, and that’s fine. I want the practice! This reasoning can be extended to many of my other choices, particularly Zuleyka, so I thought that rather than overhaul what I ran before, I might as well try again in order to gain more experience.
Because much of my list stayed the same, I’m only going to discuss the units that are new additions. The rest have already been covered. As before, stats are provided for free by Corvus Belli’s Infinity Army, which you can find here.
I had two units that really wanted to get up-close and personal with the opponent (Zuleyka and Al-Djabel), so I immediately thought that a longer ranged gunfighter would be a nice addition. I was also aware that I had multiple sources of smoke, so an alternative angle of engagement would be to run a troop with MSV2 so that I could shoot through my own smoke grenades. The advantage to shooting through smoke is that any opponent shooting back has a -6BS penalty unless they have MSV2 themselves, and therefore it’s a very good way to attack an opponent whilst ensuring they can do little in return.
The Djanbazan HMG fills a niche that my list was yet to address. With BS12, MSV2, and an ARM value of 3 Djanbazans are tough old medium infantry that are competent at engaging a variety of targets, and have a high-burst, high-damage weapon that’s as comfortable taking on opponents in a straight fight, as it is performing smoke trick-shots. The fact that I opted for a longer ranged weapon is also significant because it allowed me to place the Djanbazan in a safer location than Al-Djabel and Zuleyka who both required significant risks to be taken in order to maximise their usefulness.
The Djanbazan HMG fulfilled my list goals because it’s an aggressive unit that’s very effective in the active turn that also manages to be exceedingly order-effective due to the fact that the range of its weapon minimises the need for it to manoeuvre into position. Finally it’s able to attack from relative safety and can be very difficult to dig out by the opponent, if placed in a reasonable position.
The Hafza was chosen as my lieutenant because holoprojector L1 allows it to disguise itself as another unit. I like to use this useful piece of equipment to have the Hafza pretend to be a very tough troop such as a Janissary (ARM4, 2W). It’s particularly effective if you holoproject as a unit that cannot be a lieutenant because this can throw opponent’s off the trail! If the opponent has knowledge of Haqqislam they’ll be aware that none of your units can be lieutenants and therefore will have to work extra hard if they want to find the correct troop. This protects you from going into loss of lieutenant, which is great!
The Hafza was not particularly chosen for its combat efficacy so I will not go into any detail there. It’s BS12 and has ARM2 so it’s passable but nothing special. It’s a mind game unit more than a straight-up fighter.
As with the prior list I opted for multiple Ghulams in order to provide cheap orders. This time around I didn’t have enough points for panzerfausts so I opted for forward observers instead. My plan, as before, was to overlap their fields of fire in the back-line as a defensive measure against advancing forces.
The reason why I chose forward observers is because they get to use the flash pulse weapon. Flash pulses are fantastic for Haqqislam units because they’re technical weapons. This means they’re rolled with WIP instead of BS. Ghulams have a disappointing BS of 11, but a huge WIP of 14. They’re therefore very likely to successfully hit their opponent when using a flash pulse.
The flash pulse itself is an exceedingly irritating weapon for opponents because a single hit has the chance to stun the affected troop – which means they may no longer perform attacks that turn. Whilst the weapon may not be capable of killing opposing forces, a single hit can be enough to totally halt an advance for the turn, which is still very useful. The flash pulse occupies the small niche of weapons that disregards how many wounds or ARM the opposing troop has – it’s as annoying for a troop with 3 wounds as it is for 1 wound. This makes it a very potent ARO weapon.
The best thing about Ghulam forward observers is that these troops cost a mere 13 points! They’re very cheap regular orders and have a lot of utility.
And that’s it for the new additions!
I played virtually the same list as last game because, despite my poor performance, I enjoyed the way it played and knew that the list itself was strong and could deliver results if I kept practising with it. The addition of a Djanbazan allowed me to engage from longer ranges and its MSV2 was complemented by the large amount of smoke I had with Al-Djabel, Zuleyka, and Muttawi’ah. My lieutenant was a Hafza in disguise which kept me safe from opponents that wanted to play “hunt the lieutenant”, and my Ghulams with panzerfausts became Ghulam forward observers in order to save a few points, whilst retaining ARO efficacy. I managed to gain another regular order in the process, which was great. I looked forward to the next game – another chance to test my aggressive strategy.