Infinity: Merovingian Rapid Response Force Unit Reviews
Unlike the rest of Ariadna, Merovingia sets itself apart by having access to "high tech" equipment. First and foremost, Loup-Garou are one of the few units in the entire Human Sphere with access to Viral ammunition, and they are very adept at using it. Briscards also bring much-needed Multispectral Visors to the Sectorial, and MRRF was also the first Ariadna Sectorial to be able to bring a Hacker. In addition, MRRF can access the Anaconda Mercenary TAG, and is the only faction in the game that is able to legally field this unit for ITS play. We will discuss the specifics of these units in greater detail later, but the technological advantage of MRRF is significant.
Metros are the standard line infantry of Merovingia. While they are essentially Metropolitan police responsible for peace keeping in urban areas, Ariadna's long history of warfare with both Antipodes and external threats from the Human Sphere makes the Metros both resourceful and heavily armed. While their generally poor stats are noteworthy, this does keep their cost very low, making them ideal support units. These poor stats can be offset with link bonuses, and when you factor in their inexpensive cost, the result is a heavily discounted unit that provides valuable Orders and can still sling HMG fire at BS13. I use Metros in virtually every list I use, for a number of reasons. Since MRRF practically craves running double Combat Groups at 300 points, 5 or 6 Metros are an ideal way to form the backbone of one of those groups. Additionally, the Metro HMG is one of the few high-burst, long-range weapons that Merovingia can access, at B13 and Burst 5 when linked, it's a dangerous platform for providing much-needed long range fire support. In addition, the modest Metro Lieutenant should not be overlooked. The difference between the WIP12 of the Metro and the WIP13 of more elite troops is negligible, and there is also no SWC cost associated with taking a Metro Lieutenant, making this a safe choice who can hide in the backline and stay out of trouble. The Metro Paramedic is also valuable, and while Paramedics are generally unreliable, this is still an invaluable Specialist who can allow your Metros to seize objectives.
Besides the aforementioned standard profiles which can compose an effective link team, Metros follow the traditional MRRF strategy of being tricky as hell. With limited Camouflage, Inferior Infiltration, D-Charges and a DEP, Metros can sneak up the field, choke the table with more Camouflage markers, fulfill the "Sabotage" Classified Objective with their D-Charges, or try to crack tough targets with their one DEP shot. I fully admit that this configuration is tough to get maximum use out of, since it relies heavily on luck and opportunity. Still, it is very good at surprising an unprepared opponent.
The Professional. Bruant is the dirty bastard of MRRF, the disgruntled survivor who reluctantly leads. Bruant has the very, very rare characteristic of being able to join a Link Team while in his Camouflage state. While his Camouflage is merely Limited Camouflage, and while his identity will be obvious to any opponent as soon as they realize he is linked, that Camouflage provides an extra layer of protection for Bruant and also a slight edge the first time he reveals with Surprise Shot. As a gunfighter, Bruant is a big help to Metros, with his base BS12 representing a significant improvement over their BS10. When linked with full bonuses, Bruant is a terror, churning out Burst 5 BS15 Molotok shots. The Molotok itself is a unique tool, combining the rangebands of a Spitfire with Ariadna's penchant for AP ammo to create a strong mid-ranged firesupport weapon that's amazing versus armored targets. Bruant also comes with D-Charges, a nice asset for completing the "Sabotage" Classified, and is also a capable Lieutenant. Many opponents naturally assume that Bruant will lead any army he is a part of, so it is possible to lure people into hitting the wrong target. Even without Metros for support, Bruant is a good solo choice. The Limited Camouflage gives him that additional protection while maneuvering across open fire lanes, allowing him to make aggressive moves against priority targets or well armored big-game.
The Loup-Garou are an iconic Merovingian unit. Elite and very well equipped, especially by Ariadnan standards, the Loup-Garou specialize in bring unique weaponry to bear. The most popular loadout by far is the Viral Rifle, a weapon that is absolutely feared for its stopping power even against hardened targets. Even threats with high BTS will fear Viral ammunition, since forcing two saves still has tremendous likelihood of forcing damage compared to standard munitions. The Loup-Garou's X-Visor synergizes especially well with the Viral Rifle, allowing the Loup-Garou to engage targets from 16 inches to 32 inches with no negative modifier. As a result, a 5-man link of Loup-Garou can hit a target in Partial Cover up to 32 inches away on solid 12s, making Loup-Garou some of the best rifle wielders in Ariadna. Not only does this make them a great active turn threat, but also allows them to make powerful long-range AROs. The X-Visor also impacts Suppressive Fire, allowing Loup-Garou to blast anything within 24 inches with no negative modifier, giving them a very good likelihood for contesting and scoring hits on anything that wanders into range. The Viral loadout also comes with Flash Grenades, as well as being able to access a Flash Light Grenade Launcher. Flash Grenades are more of a fluff concession; since dogface units typically come with Chain Rifles, a direct template weapon, this theoretically means that Loup-Garou would get hosed with molten shrapnel when engaging at close range. The Flash Grenades would allow them to stun the Dogfaces while the Loup-Garou neutralize or detain them. The Flash Grenades are still there, and can be situationally useful, but unfortunately the rules for Speculative Shot do not synergize well with link teams since they automatically break the link when you use a long-skill, meaning that Flash Grenades are only going to be used when you have LoF to the target. Still, there are situations where the probability of success with a Flash Grenade will be marginally higher than success with the Viral Rifle, though never forget that the pistol makes for a good defensive sidearm as well. Flash ammunition is best used as a last-ditch attempt in ARO against a very deadly opponent, with the hopes of stopping them for a turn and neutralizing their rampage.
The other Loup-Garou loadouts are more situational but still highly valuable. The Boarding Shotgun/Adhesive Launcher combination is fantastic. The Boarding Shotgun is the weapon of choice for engagements within 8 inches, though the Loup-Garou's X-Visor means they can fire all the way out to 24 without suffering a negative To Hit penalty. Use this to flank or surprise clustered enemies who would normally think themselves safe from a shotgun at extreme range. The shotgun also compensates for the "rifle blind spot" of the Viral loadout, making Loup-Garou nearly unstoppable in case of close encounters. The Adhesive Launcher is also situational, but is really one of the strongest weapons available to any faction since it has a very good probability of Immobilizing any opponent in 1 hit. Since the Launcher is only Burst 1 though, it is a useful weapon in ARO or in situations where the enemy cannot easily retaliate with a reliable ARO of their own (for example, after they have been blinded with Flash Grenades, or when engaging at long range in conjunction with the X-Visor.) Some players exclusively favor the Viral loadout, but including at least one Boarding Shotgun/Adhesive Launcher will give you flexibility at short ranges or against extremely tough targets.
The last loadout is the Sniper Rifle. While not especially flashy compared to the great kit of the other two loadouts, the Sniper Rifle gives Loup-Garou an extreme range option if necessary. Since I find many games often begin with an exchange between overwatch models, having a Burst 3, BS15 Sniper on my side can be a great asset if I need to shoot something over 32 inches away that's hiding in the backmost corner of the table. Once again, many players differ on how exactly they load up their 5-man team, but I personally appreciate having the Sniper Rifle as an asset.
The big disadvantage of Loup-Garou is that they have no Specialists. As a Special Forces buddy of mine affectionately says, "they're shooters, not thinkers" and therefore you will need to rely on other Specialists in order to fulfill your objective grabbing needs. Additionally, like all MRRF units, their Physicality and Armor is not spectacular, making them vulnerable to stacked modifiers, direct template weapons, and any attack that easily forces damage.
Zouaves are great all-around soldiers, skilled and versatile thanks to their standard load-out of Assault Pistol, Rifle and DEP. The most notable feature of the Zouave is Mechanized Deployment, allowing them to start up the field in a similar fashion to Infiltration, but forcing all Zouaves you take to deploy in the same area of the table. Zouaves add a skilled, short-range gunfighting component to the MRRF midfield presence. Unlike Chasseurs, Zouaves cover the 0 to 8 inch blindspot with the assault pistol, a Burst 4 terror which makes them very lethal at short range. Zouaves require quite a bit of finesse to use since they cannot utilize Camo, antipersonnel mines and direct templates to defend themselves in the same way that Chasseurs can, but they compensate with that increased short-range efficacy. If you take first turn, Zouaves are at their best, able to easily and aggressively assault from their starting place in the midfield. If you go second, Zouaves must be used more conservatively, perhaps deploying prone on rooftops or other defensible areas with additional overwatch models to support them. The standard Zouave loadout can be either a Forward Observer or Paramedic, giving you ITS flexibility and added Specialist presence up the table. This makes Zouaves a nice addition in objective-heavy scenarios, in case you have already maxxed out AVA on your Chasseurs or managed to get them all killed. The DEP is also an interesting weapon, basically the equivalent of a modern day LAW, and is often good as a last-ditch ARO if the Zouave is outflanked, or very good when used as part of a Coordinated Order to bust a hardeded target.
The Light Grenade Launcher is an interesting niche option as well. The light grenade launcher is basically an opportunity weapon, able to waste Orders attempting to Speculative Shot, or else zapping easy targets like palbots or antipersonnel mines in order to damage targets hiding nearby. The tradeoff of assault pistol for grenade launcher is a steep price to pay, since the assault pistol is the really distinguishing factor of the Zouave, but this is still an interesting tool.
the E/Mauler is another rare piece of technology, something normally not available to USAriadna. Functioning basically as an antipersonnel mine that uses E/M ammunition, this equipment can be devastasting. While it is non-lethal ammunition and will not directly kill the target, any model that suffers an unsaved Wound will become Isolated. This forces them into their own Combat Group, essentially making them Irregular as well as unable to receive Orders from any Order pool. As if this was not bad enough, Heavy Infantry, TAGs, and REMs enter the Immobilized-2 State and an Engineer is the only way to remedy this. This allows the Zouave to create some very dangerous traps, since E/M is often a more dangerous deterrent than a simple antipersonnel mine.
The Sapper variants of the Zouaves are very interesting. Not only are they spectacular models, but they allow the Sappers to create their own Cover and Mimetism in an open patch of ground. Use the sniper variant for a quality long-range ARO, or combine the HMG with Supressive Fire for a nice defensive roadblock. One interesting note with Sapper is that if you move to a corner and stop short, then use the Sapper skill to switch to a bigger base, this does not give an enemy an ARO. So this allows Zouave Sappers to prepare a fire position, moving to a corner, using Sapper, then allowing their larger base size to see and fire around the corner with a second Order. While setting up this fire position is Order intensive, it is a very nice way for Zouaves to even the odds and give themselves Mimetism in a firefight. Note, of course, that the Zouave is a still a 1-Wound model with fairly light armor. While it might be tempting to set the Sappers up in the open and blaze away, they are still fairly fragile, and should be used wisely for maximum effect.
Para Commandos are a great Airborne Deployment choice. Their primary drawback is that they can only use the Parachutist ability, meaning that you must determine their quadrant of entry before the game begins, therefore making them less flexible and more limited in application. The advantage though is that this keeps Para-Commandos cheap, while still allowing them to be skilled, elite troops with a good range of weapons and abilities.
Each of the Para-Commando loadouts is worth of consideration. The basic rifle loadout is a good mid-range gunfighter, helped by the fact that he will often be able to engage enemies from behind, helped by his incredibly good Mimetism. When possible, always upgrade to the Forward Observer profile. Not only does this give you a fantastic ITS objective grabber, but it also gives you access to a WIP14 flash pulse for use in attack and defense. Given the limitations of the basic Ariadna rifle, the Flash Pulse is a great tactical asset to have. In addition, for players interested in Speculative Shot, the Para-Commando is one of MRRF's best Marking platforms thanks to Mimetism and that excellent WIP score.
In addition to the Forward Observer loadout, the Para-Commando is one of the best shotgun users in the Sectorial. Once again, Mimetism is an incredibly useful skill, but the ability of the Para-Commando arrive and assault clustered troops huddled in the deployment zone, or stacked up in the midfield, makes him a fantastic opportunistic killer. If an opponent is careless enough to leave a gap of the table edge uncovered, the boarding shotgun can utterly punish hardened targets or destroy swathes of clustered troops.
The long range weapons are a big more circumstantial. The Para-Commando is one of the best Heavy Machine Gun platforms in the Sectorial with his good Ballistic Skill and Mimetism, but this is hindered slightly by the fact that he will be arriving at short range and may prefer a more CQB-oriented firearm. That being said, an HMG equipped Para-Commando in the right area of the table can be devastating. This is also a great choice for deploying normally in the deployment zone, without utilizing Parachutist at all, in order to provide a force with a great self-contained gunfighter capable of lending long-range support. The Sniper is also capable of fulfilling this role, though I would encourage the HMG over the Sniper in this case to be able to fully utilize that active turn burst.
True to form, MRRF only has a single Medium Infantry choice. That choice, in my own modest opinion, is one of the finest infantry choices in the game. Briscards, the veterans of the Merovingian armed forces and charged with patrolling the mountainous regions of their border, are capable of performing almost any task. Coming standard with Multispectral Visor Level 1, they are the premier MRRF choices for engaging and destroying Camo, ThermOptic Camo and Optical Disruption Device equipped troops. Taking both MSV1 and the 5-man link bonuses together, they are one of the few tools that evens the odds versus ODD and TO opponents.
Their expertise does not just stop with the Visors, however. Unlike almost all other Medium infantry in the game, Briscards are 4-4 MOV, representing the speed and rapidity of their parent Sectorial. This allows Briscard links to move forward aggressively to seize objectives and Quadrants.
As if this was not enough, they have a fantastic versatile loadout of weapons. For close quarter engagements they wield the Assault Pistol, and a linked team of Briscards is one of the game's most fearsome opponents from 0 to 8 inches. In addition, they are one of a few units in the game to wield the Marksman Rifle, a solid weapon that can accurately engage from 8 inches to 24 inches. This makes Briscards amazing at short and medium range, and while these weapons only max out at Strength 13, they give the Briscards reliable tools for any firefight. In addition, Briscards can take the infamous Heavy Rocket Launcher. The HRL combines the large blast of a missile launcher with the Burst 2 of a sniper rifle, allowing it to fire with impressive Burst 3 when linked. Not only does this make the HRL a reliable gunfighting tool, but its long range bands extend the Briscards even further out to 32 inches. This weapon is a terror against single models, clustered models, groups of antipersonnel mines, and multi-Wound models. It is arguably one of the finest weapons in the game, and when you give it to an exceptional platform like the Briscards, it can be a game winner. As if this was not enough, Briscards can also take the standard Sniper Rifle, extending their reach even further and giving them a reliable tool against Dogged and No Wound Incapacitation opponents through virtue of Shock ammunition.
In addition, Briscards (unlike Loup-Garou) can serve as your Lieutenant, can Forward Observe, and also serve as a Paramedic. This not only gives you ITS Specialists, but a little tactical flexibility as well.
The culmination is a link team which can attack at range, defend at range, seek and destroy opponents that the rest of the force struggles to engage, can clear objectives and Camo Markers, capture objectives, and move together as a lump of points to camp a Quadrant.
For all of their advantages though, they possess many disadvantages as well. As with all MRRF units, they are fragile. A single well-placed template or strong gunfighter can eradicate the entire team, so caution should always be used. In addition, they do not possess the lethal killing power of the Loup-Garou, so their weapons can sometime struggle to be decisive against well-armed opponents. Briscards can reliably win gunfights, but will struggle to "seal the deal" against high ARM, while Loup-Garou suffer against stacked modifiers but are almost certain to do damage if they can hit.
The choice to take Briscards or Loup-Garou varies greatly depending on scenario and opponent. It is common for players to use Loup-Garou in missions that are not objective-intensive or that do not involve a Camo-heavy opponent, while Briscards are great for Specialist-intensive missions or against Camo/ODD/TO Camo heavy opponents like Ariadna, Steel Phalanx or NeoTerra.
Similar to the Medium infantry category, MRRF only possesses a single Heavy Infantry choice: the Moblot. As with all Ariadna Heavy Infantry, the Moblot are not true Heavy Infantry in the conventional sense because they are only 1-Wound models, rather than having the full 2-Wounds associated with powered armor Heavy Infantry. So despite their classifications, Moblot function more like ultra-heavy light infantry rather than ultra-light heavy infantry. As a result, care must be taken so that they avoid template weapons or other means capable of inflicting easy damage.
The reason to take Moblots, however, are many. They represent the third choice in the Trinity of MRRF specialized infantry, and are undoubtedly the most versatile of the three. Coming standard with BS13, they are more skilled in a gunfight than their counterparts, and their loadout of light shotgun and rifle gives them tools for a variety of close and mid-range gunfights. In addition, their special weapon is the straightforward and effective Heavy Machine Gun. Eschewing advance technology or precision weaponry, a 5-man linked HMG can simply hammer opponents to death with Burst 5, BS16. Moblots can also access the Panzerfaust and the Boarding Shotgun, similarly direct, effective gunfighting tools. As a result, the Moblot team is not about subtlety; they have straightforward weapons which allow them to use their superior skill for maximum damage. While Loup-Garou and Briscard weapons are occasionaly circumstantial, Moblots are very direct with their weapon loadouts.
That being said, some of their loadouts are unique in role. The Moblots provide MRRF's only Engineer choice, besides the modest Dozer. This gives the Moblots an excellent combat engineer that can play forward, help disarm mines, provide support, and fulfill Classified Objectives. One of the Moblot loadouts also has Mimetism, giving a strong edge in short and mid-range gunfights where the shotgun and rifle will win out over the Heavy Machine Gun.
The last Moblot choice once again supports the notion of a Rapid Response Force. Unique among nearly all Heavy Infantry in the game, Moblot have an Infiltration profile. Note that the Infiltrator Moblots cannot link, and are therefore very much a "solo" choice, but they compensate for this by bringing a skilled, dangerous gunfighter to the midfield. This brand of Moblot functions very similarly to the E/Mauler Zouave, with all the advantages of an E/M weapon, but still retains its skilled BS13, rifle and light shotgun. This is a good choice for players focused entirely on using maximum mobility. For a player going first, an Infiltrating Moblot can slip through enemy defenses and waste an entire deployment zone with light shotgun attacks.
On the whole, Moblot should be selected for players with no need for subtlety and wish to play aggressively. Lacking the X-Visors and ARO stopping power of the Loup-Garou, or the MSV1 and long-range of the Briscards, Moblots want to use their Heavy Machine Gun to cover their advance until their rifles and light shotguns take over. This makes Moblots very good for scenarios that involve playing forward aggressively, seizing objectives, controling Quadrants, and denying them to the enemy.
MRRF has only one Skirmisher choice, and it is arguably the best Skirmisher in the game. There are players who start the faction specifically to have a chance to use these guys on the table. Chasseurs are the kings of Camo Infiltrators. Their equipment and abilities are perfect for their role, and their cost is shockingly inexpensive. The first thing players often notice when assessing the Chasseur is their modest BS11. This often deceives players into thinking the Chasseur is not an elite choice, which could not be further from the truth. When you factor in the advantages of gunfighting with Cover, Camouflage and Surprise Shot, Chasseurs can very easily win gunfights against light opposition. In addition, Chasseurs have good WIP (making them strong for objective grabbing and Flash Pulsing) and amazing Physicality. The Physicality is great, since Dodging is always a good recourse in the dangerous lives of Camo Infiltrators. In addition, these veteran operators come with 6th Sense Level 1, meaning they are impossible to surprise or ambush at close quarters. Even without 6th Sense Level 1 though, the real beauty of their kit is their light flamethrower.
Mirage-5/Margot and Duroc
Mirage-5 is undoubtely one of the most unique units in Infinity. The Mirage units are specialized 2-man teams used by the Rapid Response Force for special operations, and Mirage-5 are certainly the most skilled and unorthodox of the lot. Both Margot and Duroc function as a duo, and must be purchased together in any army list they join: they cannot be purchased separately. They both utilize Airborne Infiltration, allow them to enter play from any table edge that is not in the opponent's deployment zone. This makes them premier shock troops and hunter-killers, able to enter play where the enemy is most vulnerable to either engage their most elite troops directly, or tear the guts out of their unprotected backline.
Margot herself is an elite Moblot, coming standard with an AP Rifle and light grenade launcher. She is the best shot in the entire faction at BS14, which probably makes her the most accurate marksman in all of Infinity, considering she achieves that great result using nothing but an old rifle and a holo sight. That AP Rifle and high Ballistic Skill means she can hunt light opposition as well as super-armored targets with equal measure. She's lethal when catching a high points-per-Wound opponent out of cover. Her light grenade launcher is also a unique tool, allowing her to Speculative Shot at BS11 to hit targets around corners or behind obstacles, making her lethal to clustered enemies. This support weapon is also scary if you can enter play behind clustered models, engaging them from their back arc for unopposed template shots. Her ARM3 does give her a little staying power, but at 1 Wound she is far from invincible and should be used cautiously. Note that she makes a good Suppressive Fire roadblock thanks to her high Ballistic Skill, allowing her to pin enemies in their own Deployment Zone or arrive to protect a key objective from enemy attack.
Duroc is the truly unique component of the Mirage-5 team. Duroc, as a dogwarrior, shares many similarities with a basic Cameronian: He has superior MOV stats and Super Jump, making him very mobile and able to take the fight to targets in three dimensions. As an Extremely Impetuous model though, he has to enter play right away, and also can never claim Partial Cover. This means that Duroc must be used with careful consideration. Even though he has multiple Wounds and Total Immunity, he will still get himself killed with ease unless he moves are carefully considered. That being said though, the tools he brings to the table are truly unique for MRRF.
For one, Duroc is the only MRRF unit that can be considered skilled in close combat. This can be a great tool for safely engaging inept models, but is especially valuable for tying up high priority targets that are also not very skilled in melee (examples: TAGs, shooty Heavy Infantry.) That being said though, Duroc is at his best when using templates weapons to simply annihilate light opponents, trimming their Order pool. Double chain rifles allows him lay direct template death, but I believe his strongest asset is actually his Fragmentation Grenades. Normally Grenades are difficult to use because low PH many on models means they're not very adept at using Speculative Shot, but Duroc does not suffer this issue at all. Not only can he hurl grenades at targets with 95% accuracy, but he can perform Speculative Shot on anything within 8 inches hitting on very impressive 13s or less. Use Duroc to frag corners, doorways and inside of buildings. This tool is perfect for removing Total Reaction Remotes without exposing himself to hostile fire, as well as hard-to-hit threats like Camo and TO Camo Snipers. If he can hit clusters of enemy models, all the better. In addition to Duroc's offensive potency, he is also the only model in all of MRRF equipped with Smoke Grenades. Smoke is a highly valuable and versatile tool, allowing your units to advance to objectives while block Line of Fire to the enemy, or even jamming enemy sight lanes and forcing them to waste Orders to move around/through the smoke. So while it is often tempting to have Duroc go out in a blaze of glory, he can also play a critical role by surviving as long as possible and helping MRRF fulfill their mission with critical Smoke support.
As far as using Mirage-5 as a cohesive Duo, there are many fun tricks that can be utilized. One of their biggest vulnerabilities is not having a safe place to enter play; a canny enemy will cover the table edge, getting unopposed AROs as Mirage-5 enters play. One way to help force them onto the table is to have Duroc enter play via his Impetuous Move, eat the hit, and survive with his multiple Wounds and Total Immunity. Then, since his Silhouette is bigger than Margot's, have her enter play using Duroc as a shield to block Line of Fire, then have her engage and gun down (or have Duroc throw smoke) to allow them to maneuver with safety. Obviously this method comes with risks, but it can be helpful against light opposition. In addition, do not forget that you can use the entire rest of your force to help support Mirage-5. Obviously no opponent wants to have such a duo sitting around in their backline, so annihilating Mirage-5 tends to become priority one as soon as they enter play. Use long range AROs to support Mirage-5 and help keep lethal enemies at bay. Use the flamethrower and antipersonnel mines to help deny area around Margot and Duroc to force enemies to burn even more orders moving to engage them. Use Para-Commandos to enter play as well, creating multiple Suppressive Fire fields or close-range boarding shotgun AROs to provide added support. Note, of course, that both have their limitations, but with the proper application and support, they are a dangerous and unique asset for MRRF.
Adam - There we have it, these units are what make the MRRF truly unique when compared to other Ariadna sectorials. On top of these characterful units, the MRRF has access to a number of Nomad units, even an Alguacil Hacker and the Anaconda TAG! Woah! Or should I say, "sacrebleu!"