Starting With Haqqislam: Coherent Strategies

Thinking about coherent strategies

In this article I’m going to look at including coherent strategies in lists, and how to use them in play.

The overall aim of this piece of writing is to look at groups of units that work well together, and to provide brief explanations as to why specific units are powerful and which roles they can fill. Hopefully this can act as inspiration in your own list-building.

What is a coherent strategy?

In this article I’m using the phrase “coherent strategy” to refer to combinations of troops that work together to achieve some goal. A “coherent strategy” might be as simple as taking multiple gunfighters so that you can make turn 1 kills and then play very aggressively throughout the game. Or strategies could be more complex, such as building your list around a solid group of infiltrators and minelayers, in order to clog up the midboard and make it difficult for your opponent to push forward. I’m using the word “coherent” to make it clear that the units we include in lists usually work together towards unified goals. Therefore I am not solely interested in individual unit choices, but also small groups of units that work together towards achieving a joint aim.

Let’s dive in and take a look at some potential strategies and unit choices!

Note: The troop selections I show are merely suggestions to be explored; I’m not saying you should run exactly these configurations. They’re just demonstrations of selections you might want to think about yourself. You may want to perhaps tweak and change them to your own tastes, or maybe even ignore them if they don’t fit your style.

Area Denial

Area denial is a strategy in which you attempt to make areas of the board too dangerous or order inefficient for your opponent to enter. The selection shown above works towards an area denial goal in four ways:

  1. The Farzan and Hunzakut provide you with mines, which can be a large threat to light infantry.
  2. All three choices deploy as camouflage tokens, which your opponent will need to discover in order to reveal their identity. Many opponents are wary of approaching unidentified camouflage markers (for obvious reasons!).
  3. The group includes a hacker and repeater combo, which can threaten enemy heavy infantry and TAGs to such a large extent that they will probably want to steer clear.
  4. It includes a significant number of shotguns, which provide very threatening AROs if positioned around tight corners. Not many troops want to take a BS17 shotgun shot from a camouflaged troop, or a direct template!

If we put the strategy together what we’re looking at here is 68 points and 0.5SWC for the ability to place 4 camouflage markers up to the halfway mark of the board. This works because infiltration lets you deploy up to 24″, and the Farzan’s minelayer skill allows you to place a mine when you deploy (which joins the 3 camouflaged troops to take the total markers up to 4).

For your opponent to approach they’ll probably have to deal with a mine first, which will require discovering and shooting, dodging, or a sacrificial unit. They’ll then have to discover your camouflage markers if they want to shoot your units. Throughout this process you could be placing more mines, dodging away, or shooting as AROs. Once discovered, your opponent will have to start actually shooting your units to remove them. However, if you’ve placed your troops correctly then you’ll have nasty close-range shotgun AROs, which means you could be shooting back on BS17 or 18 with shotguns. Or just hitting them without rolling because shotguns have a direct template model. And throughout all of this, if your opponent is hackable then the Al Hawwa can declare hacking attacks without requiring line of fire.

It’s worth focusing individually on the Farzan and Al Hawwa here, because they’re both fantastic options. The Al Hawwa is a cheap hacker with high enough willpower to be reasonably effective at hacking attacks. In the active turn you can use it to hunt down hackable targets very aggressively. If enemy hackers threaten you then you can use your marker state to avoid them (remember markers need to be revealed before they can be shot or hacked). As an ARO piece the Al Hawwa can hack approaching heavy infantry, remotes, or TAGs without line of fire, and that makes it pretty terrifying if you put it prone on a rooftop where there’s little chance it can be shot.

The Farzan is noteworthy in that it can deploy mines and it has a pretty respectable BS value for a skirmisher (BS12). The mines are important because they can be a real pain for light infantry to deal with. Whereas tougher troops can ignore mines a lot of the time due to their high PH and/or high ARM, light infantry (with lower PH and ARM values) will usually just die to them instantly. This makes approaching a Farzan tricky for a lot of opponents. In terms of actual gunfighting, a BS12 troop with camouflage (which also gives access to surprise shot) is really respectable. If your Farzan catches an opposing heavy infantry out of cover in your active turn, then you’ll probably have two shotgun shots on 18s (BS12, +6 for range), whereas their best bet will probably be a pistol shot on 11s (assume BS14, +3 for range, -3 for camouflage, -3 for surprise shot). Those are really great odds, and this allows the Farzan to dominate short-range areas of the board and threaten troops which cost far, far more than it does.

ARO Network

I’m using the phrase ‘ARO network’ to refer to a selection of reactive troops which all overlook similar areas and therefore can all declare simultaneous AROs. This obviously makes it extremely dangerous for your opponent to manoeuvre troops into the areas that you’re covering.

This selection offers you:

  1. Three explosive weapons (panzerfausts). They’re all disposable (so you only get 2 shots each), but when you’re paying 6 points for them I think that’s certainly acceptable.
  2. Three camouflage markers, from the 3 Daylami. The Daylami camouflage has the ‘1 Use’ rule, so once they are revealed they cannot enter camouflage again. As I mentioned above, they’re only 6 points, so this seems completely reasonable.
  3. A Shujae with flammenspeer. Shujae’s are BS13 and have mimetism-6 so they shoot very well and are hard to hit. The flammenspeer is basically a disposable heavy rocket launcher, so it produces a circular template if you hit and therefore can blast multiple troops.
  4. And finally, a remote with a flash pulse, which provides a really cheap and irritating weapon that fires on WIP13.

The above selection is moderately invested. It costs a reasonable number of points (49), but having said that it does offer you 2 regular orders, 3 irregulars, a bunch of explosive weapons, and other effective ARO pieces.

The strategy here is to deploy your pieces in such a way that your opponent must face multiple AROs if they cross your line of fire. In such a situation they then need to decide whether they’re splitting their burst between multiple ARO pieces (which makes it more likely they fail some face-to-face rolls), or if they don’t split their burst then they face some very dangerous, uncontested AROs from panzerfausts. At best you have these cheap units threaten very expensive units your opponent is fielding, and at worst you probably waste quite a few of their orders as they have to slowly clear out your ARO pieces.

Daylami with panzerfausts are one of my favourite ARO pieces in the game. The reason that I like them so much is because they’re incredibly cheap (6 points), and they come with an extremely destructive weapon (the panzerfaust has AP and EXP ammunition like a missile launcher). They have two obvious downsides in that the panzerfaust only gets two shots (due to the disposable trait), and Daylami have a low BS value of 11. A single Daylami isn’t too much of a threat, but they really start to shine if you deploy a few together, or with other units. With the correct positioning, two nearby Daylami force powerful troops to split their burst, and this raises your chance of landing a successful panzerfaust shot. It is very possible to kill opposing heavy infantry or TAGs with a single ARO.

Smoke Shooting

Smoke shooting is one of the most common strategies in Infinity. Firstly, a unit throws a smoke grenade which blocks line of fire to one of your opponent’s troops. Next, a second unit with MSV1 or MSV2 shoots at the opposing troop, through the zero visibility zone created by the smoke grenade. If the opposing troop wants to shoot back it takes a -6 penalty to its BS for shooting through a zero visibility zone. (This is a weird interaction because despite the opposing troop not being able to see through the zero visibility zone it does still get to dodge your attack, or shoot back with a -6 penalty). The value of this is that you can take a really powerful ARO piece with a high BS down to manageable levels, due to the -6 penalty. Obviously this doesn’t work against opposing troops with MSV2 because they can see through the smoke grenade!

The selection above contains two different MSV options, one with a multi sniper, and another with a red fury.

This strategy offers you:

  1. Smoke grenades, which can block enemy ARO pieces’ line of fire, which lets you get around them safely.
  2. Two active-turn troops with MSV, which they can use to see through smoke and counter mimetism skills.
  3. A strong active-turn gunfighter equipped with a high burst weapon.
  4. An active-turn fighter equipped with a more powerful weapon that has lower burst.
  5. A way to safely remove problematic ARO pieces by combining smoke and MSV.

Haqqislam typically has lighter units than some other factions, so head-to-head fights can be risky because your lists will typically have lots of troops with low armour and one wound. Losing a face-to-face roll could well result in your fighter being killed! One way to minimise risk is to make sure your opponent’s BS value is minimised. The smoke strategy is one way of doing this, but there are other alternatives (another example is a camouflaged unit using surprise shot). As I explained above, it’s a very simple strategy – you just have one troop throw the smoke to block the opposing ARO piece’s line of fire, and then have another troop shoot through the smoke. The opposing ARO piece takes a -6 BS penalty if it wants to shoot back, so long as it doesn’t have sixth sense, or MSV2.

In the above strategy I’ve highlighted two very different gunfighters which I’ll briefly explore here:

The Mukhtar is a Haqqislam light infantry supersoldier. It has a great BS value of 13, it boasts mimetism-3 which gives opponents without MSV a penalty to shoot it, and it’s fast with 6-2 movement. As if that wasn’t enough the Mukhtar also has two wounds (well, sort of; it has one wound and no wound incapacitation). The Mukhtar uses a red fury which has a range-band of 8-24″ and a low damage value of 13. If you want to use the smoke trick in combination with a low-to-medium range gunfighter then the Mukhtar is an excellent pick.

The other choice is Knauf, who is a fantastic sniper. Like the Mukhtar he boasts BS13 and mimetism. The key difference is that his weapon excels from 16″ onwards, so he’s worse than the Mukhtar at very low ranges, but better at longer ranges. The sniper also has a lower burst value than the red fury so it can be a little less reliable, but each successful hit packs greater damage and has the ability to force the enemy to make two saves.

Thinking about strategies in general

I’ve provided some examples of overarching strategies you can consider in lists, but I want to point out that they’re just a tiny selection among many, many more. I think it’s important that everyone spends time thinking about which strategies and troop selections they personally enjoy, and to also think about choices which work well together. I believe the benefits of this style of thinking include:

  1. Feeling more confident in your list-building abilities.
  2. Producing lists which work well as a cohesive whole, instead of just consisting of lots of separate choices that don’t work well together.
  3. The ability to move from one faction to another and quickly spot groups of units that fulfil similar functions.
  4. The ability to look at opposing lists and get a decent idea of the kind of moves and patterns they’re going to use against you.

The way that I think about list-building is to look at troops and ask myself, “what does this troop do?”, and “what does it achieve in my list?”. The answer to that might be midfield control through suppressive fire or mines. It might be last-minute objective scoring through hidden deployment and infiltration. It could be scoring kills with an HMG and a high BS value. Once I’ve done that I then start thinking about other choices that might work well with it. A midfield minelayer or suppressive fire piece might want an overlooking sniper to provide other AROs. A last-minute objective scorer might want a short-range gunfighter to clear the way. An aggressive piece might just want cheap orders. Whatever it may be, there will be other unit choices that can help that unit do more, and that can take your lists to the next level.

Conclusion

The point of this article was to try to introduce the idea that list-building revolves around the inclusion of cohesive strategies, and to move away from just considering troop choices on an individual level. The key thing to remember is that troops often work better if you have a good infrastructure around them to help out. Drop troops may be more successful if you block ARO pieces with eclipse smoke, and take a hacker to give them +3 to their roll to land. ARO pieces might want support from other, similar troops. Powerful active turn weapons will need cheap orders to enable them and specialists to score. Lists work as a whole, and in large groups. Understanding that can help when you design your own lists, and when you play against other’s.

As you play you’ll find strategies that you particularly enjoy and use to great success – it could be leaning on camouflage markers, heavy infantry, or it could be the use of strong ARO pieces. You’ll probably also find strategies that you don’t like. That’s fine because Infinity is a varied game with a lot of room for different ideas. The more you mess around with different ideas and groups of units the more likely you are to strike gold.

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