Thinking about list-building
In this article I’m going to look at very general tips for building an army list!
The aim of this piece of writing is to look at how Infinity Army works before exploring troop roles that you might consider including in your lists. This article will approach the subject in a very broad way, whilst the next will look at specific Haqqislam units in detail.
Infinity Army is a free online resource that allows you to view every single unit available to each faction, and to build army lists. In order to build a list it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of how the website works. I’m going to be presenting a lot of information, screen shots, and examples from there so it’s worth opening the site in a new tab now.
When you first access Infinity Army you pick your faction by clicking on the relevant icon, and then you have the option to select any of the sectorials for that faction, or the vanilla army.
Once you’ve selected your faction you’ll see a screen like this:
The column on the left hand side is a list of every unit available to the faction. You can use your scroll wheel to have a look through the list.
The large box with the Haqqislam symbol in and the title <List name> is the list itself. You can see at the moment it’s blank. Once you start selecting troops they’ll be added to this box.
At the top of the screen you can see various options including “Type”, “Skills & Equipment”, and “Weapons”. These are all sorting boxes. If you’re looking for a particular weapon then you can click the “Weapons” box and select your choice from there. By doing this Infinity Army will only show you troop options with that weapon. Likewise you can filter by “Type” such as Heavy Infantry, or Light Infantry, or you can sort by a specific skill or piece of equipment. If you’ve got a filter selected and want to go back to the main list click the circular arrow in the top left hand corner, next to the “Type” box.
To select a unit simply click on the troop you want from the list on the left, and then the stats for that troop will appear in a large box in the middle of the screen. By then clicking on the loadout you want to include it’ll be added to your list. You’ll notice that the list will change from “SWC 0”, “Points 0” to show the total points and SWC cost of the troop(s) you’ve just added to the list.
Once you’ve finished your army list you can click on the printer icon to print, or the floppy disk icon to save. Both of these are found in the box containing your army. If you want to go back to the Infinity Army main page then click the icon showing a circle with three squares, situated in the extreme top right-hand corner of the page.
Those are the basics of Infinity Army. By using this program you can start looking through all the troops available to your faction and begin list building.
The Rules Of List Building
There are only two absolutely fundamental rules that apply most of the time:
- Include a lieutenant
- Plan your list around the mission objectives you need to accomplish
Yes, I do realise that neither of those are massively helpful tips!
There are two reasons why I can’t offer any more specific advice or guidance. The first is that Infinity is a remarkably balanced game. This means that there almost no choices that are completely unworkable. It’s very much a game where familiarity with your list and player skill are much more important than the specific troops you bring. The second reason is that Infinity contains a wide variety of missions. The list you bring to achieve one set of objectives may be very different from the list you bring to achieve another set.
Whilst it might be daunting to hear that I cannot offer much definitive advice, it’s also a blessing as well. It means that if you have a favourite troop that you enjoy playing then chances are it’s almost certainly going to be able to slot into a functioning list somewhere. This is not to say that all the available troops and their loadouts are as good as each other in every sense (clearly some examples fit particular roles better than others), but the point is that if there’s a profile you particularly love then it’s very likely you’ll be able to find a use for it!
As I explained above, very specific statements along the lines of “you should include this troop…”, or “you should avoid this profile…” are rarely warranted in Infinity. What I can offer instead is some general guidance about functions you should consider filling in your lists, and some broad tips that may be helpful.
- Successful lists are normally mission dependent and have clear ways to achieve their goals. If the scenario requires you to kill troops then it’s really important to include choices that do this well. If the mission asks for certain types of specialist troop (doctor / hacker / engineer etc.) then it’s very important to pay attention to this. Very few lists are one-size-fits-all (i.e. well suited to every mission). In fact I would argue that no list is suitable for every mission.
- Successful lists usually have good reasons for each troop choice; every option fills a definitive niche and has a purpose. When you build a list consider asking yourself, “what is this selection supposed to achieve?” after every unit you include. You might choose a particular profile to be an active-turn killer, to be a strong ARO piece, or to be a button-pusher.
- It’s generally accepted that having a backup plan is a wise idea. If the mission asks you to kill opposing troops then it’s probably best to take a couple of profiles that are capable of fulfilling this role. If the mission requires a lot of hackers then it’s a good idea to include multiple. Make sure you still have a way to achieve objectives even if your main plan goes a bit awry.
- You might want to think about including different flavours of troops that fulfil the same role. This is for two reasons: to avoid having too much overlap, and so that you can react to a diverse range of situations. For example you may have one active-turn hunter with an HMG and MSV, and another with camouflage and a shotgun. The first choice would be great at longer ranges and against camouflaged targets, the second choice would be much better at closer ranges and against troops that lack MSV.
- Having at least one active-turn weapon is a good idea. Even in missions that don’t reward you at all for killing the opponent’s troops you still might find yourself needing to remove a target. Perhaps the opponent has a specialist troop that you can kill to stop them scoring, for example. Including a choice with a high burst weapon (e.g. HMG or spitfire) can help you to take down tricky targets.
- Think about your plan for defending areas of the board and your own troops. Strong ARO pieces such as snipers, missile launchers, and rocket launchers can be very useful in slowing down your opponent and preventing them from scoring. Other alternatives include using mines or hacking networks (lots of repeaters!) to stop your opponent approaching.
- Consider how you’re going to answer different strategies your opponent may use. Might they bring mimetism units? Perhaps look for direct template weapons (chain rifles, flamethrowers, shotguns) that do not need to roll to hit, or MSV that ignores mimetism’s BS penalty. Do you expect TAGs? Check out weapons with explosive ammunition that cause three armour saves for each hit, or even just armour piercing rounds. Is it possible you’ll see opposing units with much higher BS than yours? It might be worth exploring units with camouflage because they’re harder to target. By planning for these circumstances it will be much easier to address them when they do arise!
I have mentioned a selection of unit roles already that warrant some further exploration: active-turn hunters, ARO pieces, and button pushers. In this final section I’ll give an overview of different troop functions and mention some (not all!) of the attributes and skills to be on the lookout for when making your selections.
Aggressive troops are sometimes labelled hunters, active-turn killers, or similar names. Their role is to roam around the board in your active turn and remove opposing units. This is an important function to fill for three reasons. Firstly, it might score you objective points. Secondly, it might stop your opponent scoring objective points (for example, if the missions relies on specialists and you kill their specialists). Thirdly, it might stop your opponent killing your own troops!
This is an extremely broad role that encompasses a whole host of different options, but largely the aims of an aggressive unit are to always win face-to-face rolls against the opponent’s troops. You might want to use a weapon with a high burst such as an HMG or spitfire so that you can roll more dice. You might want to use mimetism or surprise shot so that the opponent’s BS is reduced and it becomes a harder roll for them. You might want to use MSV so that you can ignore negative modifiers to your BS caused by mimetism. It may also be an idea to look at abilities such as stealth, camouflage, and other positioning skills that let you approach opposing troops in such a way that they get no AROs at all.
An aggressive troop will often have a selection of these advantages:
- Good BS value: 12 is passable, 13 is very good, 14 is really fantastic.
- High burst weaponry: Red fury, spitfire, HMG.
- A way to ignore negative modifiers from mimetism: MultiSpectral Visor (MSV).
- A way to cause negative modifiers to your opponent: Mimetism-3 or mimetism-6.
- Positioning skills that help you approach enemies in such a way that they get no ARO: Camouflage, infiltration , parachutist.
Alpha strikers are usually aggressive first-turn gambles. They’re similar to aggressive pieces in that their goal is (usually) to remove opposing troops, but they’re different in that what is being valued is their ability to strike hard from turn one. The goals of alpha strikers are usually to strip down your opponent’s order pool and to remove important targets (such as specialist troops) immediately.
This is quite a niche category and not very common in many lists, mainly because there are not many reliable alpha strikers in the game. The ones that do exist tend to cost a reasonable number of points, and they usually require quite a lot of skill to use correctly as they’re trying to get close to the opponent’s deployment zone (which is naturally a very dangerous place to be!).
The crucial element of any alpha striker is being able to reach the opponent very quickly, so immediately you want to look at skills such as infiltration, impersonation, or a huge movement value of 6-4 or similar. Alongside this you also want a way to guarantee you can successfully remove opposing troops, so some of the same rules as those seen with aggressive troops apply here too. However, many alpha strikers are close combat specialists instead of long-ranged specialists, so you might see CC values of 21 or 22, for example, along with a nasty close combat weapon (perhaps viral or double action), along with the martial arts skill. If aggressive troops represent raw power, alpha strikers are typically more interested in stealth and finesse.
Look out for some of these advantages:
- A way to deploy very close to your opponent: Impersonation, combat jump
- A way to move around without being targeted by AROs: Impersonation, camouflage, smoke grenades
- Good BS or sometimes CC value: BS12+, or CC21+ with martial arts
- Either a high burst long-ranged weapon or a destructive CC weapon: spitfire, HMG, viral cc weapon, DA cc weapon
ARO pieces are units that are designed to disrupt your opponent’s plans in their own turn. It’s difficult to get ARO pieces right because it’s quite tricky to win face-to-face rolls in the opponent’s turn when you only have a burst of 1, versus their burst of potentially 4 or even 5. Having said this, a well placed ARO piece can cause the opponent enough trouble that they have to spend orders killing it, and that can be a huge success. Every order they spend killing that troop is an order they could have spent potentially doing something a lot better!
It’s important for ARO troops to maximise the impact of each shot because most only get one. This means exotic ammunition such as explosive (EXP), or viral is key. Alongside this defensive skills that make the opponent less likely to hit you (such as mimetism) can help you to win the face-to-face roll despite only having one dice. Finally some skills such as total reaction or neurocinetics allow you to fire your full burst in the reactive turn.
Look out for some of these advantages:
- A skill that can reduce your opponent’s BS or ability to target you: Mimetism, camouflage
- A weapon that can kill units with just a single shot: Missile launcher, Heavy rocket launcher
- Good enough BS value to be threatening: 12/13/14.
- A skill that increases your burst when you ARO (these abilities are rare!): total reaction, neurocinetics.
I’m not going to spend any great time on this category because it’s pretty self-explanatory. Button pushers refer to specialists – the units that literally “press buttons” and score you objective points in missions. They’re characterised by a skill that makes them a specialist (being some kind of hacker, doctor, engineer, forward observer, specialist operative etc.,), a decent WIP score, and that’s about it. Each separate mission that you play will contain text about the troops that are considered specialists. However it’s almost always the list I posted above with one or two additions.
There are many different kinds of button pushers from heavy infantry that also double up as aggressive pieces, to very cheap line infantry with forward observer that are only there to score objectives and do little else. Do remember that all specialists have a skill that makes them useful in other ways. For example, doctors can heal unconscious troops, engineers repair TAGs and remotes, hackers can hack TAGs and heavy infantry, and forward observers can target enemies (making them easier to hit).
Order Providers / (Cheerleaders)
Cheerleaders are a reasonably small (but very important) category of troop. Their only goal is to provide orders for button pushers or aggressive troops, and therefore they are usually cheap and pack minimal equipment. The only requirement here is that they provide a regular order for your other choices to use. Many people like to combine cheerleaders with other categories, so they might double up as specialists or deployment zone guards (I cover deployment zone guards next).
Look out for troops that:
- Provide a regular order and are cheap in cost (that’s literally it!): Usually in the order of 5 to 15 points.
Deployment zone guards
Deployment zone guards have some overlap with cheerleaders because they’re usually reasonably cheap troops that are mainly present to provide orders for your other choices. As these units will typically stay in your deployment zone, they fulfil the important function of guarding your backline. They’re supposed to provide a solid defence against opposing aggressive pieces or alpha strikers that might try to approach from the rear in order to shoot your more important troops in the back.
It’s important for deployment zone guards to be cheap enough so that you can deploy a sufficient number to cover various different approaches into your deployment zone. Alternatively it may be a good idea to look for skills that offer more vision such as 360 visor which gives that unit a 360 degree field of fire.
It’s also important that these troops can offer some resistance to any alpha strikers or other troops that make it into your deployment zone. Now clearly if you’re trying to keep these choices cheap then they may lack a high BS value and only have basic weapons, but there are options that can threaten opposing forces without even having to roll to hit. Direct template weapons such as shotguns, chain rifles and flamethrowers automatically hit. Not only does this mean you can get away with them on units with very low BS scores, but it also means that they counter the typical alpha-striker trick of being hard to hit due to mimetism, because they do not have to roll to hit at all!
Look out for some of these advantages:
- Direct template weapons: Chain rifle, light shotgun, light flamethrower, nanopulser.
- Cheap enough to be taken in multiples: Roughly 5 to 15 points.
- Equipment that gives a larger field of fire: 360 visor.
Phew. This article was a bit longer than most, so I apologise for that!
List building is a complicated subject and I wanted to do it justice so I thought it was important to not skimp on the word count here. I hope that this has been enough to provide a broad overview of how to start building a list and the kind of troop roles to look out for. I am aware that I did not provide any specific guidance on particular unit profiles. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, I realise that list building is a very personal process so I think it would be wrong to impose my own views on you by saying “you should take this”, or “you should never take this”. Secondly, I couldn’t cover the basics and the specifics together in one article, so I decided to leave any reference to individual profiles for the next piece of writing. And with that tantalising look into the future, I end this piece. Until next time!