Infinity Unit Review: USAriadna Grunts
Continuing on our journey into USAriadna, I've decided to go back to the beginning, and talk about the most ubiquitous troop in the army, the humble Grunt. These models are what sold me on the army, and Infinity for that matter. When the Army Pack came out, there was plenty to get excited about, but seeing the amazing detail on the basic troops of the army really sold me on the overall aesthetic the line would achieve. On top of being amazing miniatures, they're also the only Core fire team which has had enough models released to actually run, so they are going to be an important part of just about every USAriadna army, now more than ever.
The first thing that should jump out on their profile, is their amazing ARM 3. The "cheap" infantry of the USAriadna army come in the form of medium infantry, slower than light infantry at MOV 4-2, but hard as nails with all that armor, plus shock immunity, so don't forget that 112. Equipment-wise, they all come standard with a pistol and knife, then have a bevy of weapon options.
Profiles of Note
Grunt (Inferior Infiltration)
This guy is without a doubt, going to be the most popular grunt profile in the army, and even in vanilla Ariadna. For the low price of 11 points and 0.5 SWC, you get a grunt armed with Heavy Flamethrower and Light Shotgun, which MUST attempt to infiltrate into the enemy table half, with a 40% chance of success. While they won't make it every time, or even every game, when you do pass that PH 8 test, you are immediately going to force your opponent into some hard decisions... I always take 2 in a list, more if I can spare the points, it's not even unheard of for some players to run 4 or more of them.
Grunt Lieutenant Light Grenade Launcher
Before HSN3, I think this profile was passed over frequently, and for good reason, you probably want your lieutenant to have the safety of a link team, and in a link team, you couldn't speculative fire. Well that's all changed! The Grunt Light Grenade Launcher is a great tool to take advantage of all the Forward Observers in the army, and having it on your Lieutenant gives you the added bonus of a Lieutenant option with 0 SWC tax attached. If you are considering a Grunt Lieutenant, there is almost no reason to not upgrade them to this profile.
The cheapest option for a link team in the USAriadna army, Grunts bring a formidable amount of firepower, for a very moderate cost. Typically, I focus my Grunts on being defensive, but also multi-purpose. The HMG is a great weapon to put orders into in the active turn, effectively firing at BS14 with B5, it turns their modest firepower into something to worry about. With ARM 3 and cover, it means that even if you fail to win the face-to-face roll, you still have a solid chance of shrugging off the shot. I've won many shoot outs with far superior opponents, thanks to the survivability of a Grunt. The Sniper Rifle gives a second cheap ARO weapon, though I've never once used the MMLX skill, but perhaps it's more usable if you were to ever run it solo. Finally, a pair of specialists to accomplish objectives with, they both are actually still handy for their intended purpose; Grunts being shock immune means you have plenty of chances to use the Paramedic, and the Forward Observer couples nicely with... The Grunt Lieutenant with light grenade launcher adds a bit more offensive versatility to the link. With the ability to fire indirectly, if nothing is in line of sight to your team, you can freely lob grenades across the field, and if you happen to have any Foxtrot Forward Observers, you might even hit the target!
GRUNT HMG / Pistol, Knife. (1 | 21) GRUNT (Marksmanship LX) Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 18) GRUNT (Forward Observer) Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 11) GRUNT Paramedic (MediKit) Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 12) GRUNT Lieutenant Rifle, Light Grenade Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (1 | 14)
2.5 SWC | 76 Points
If you have plans for your Lieutenant elsewhere, then simply downgrade the Grunt Lieutenant to a Forward Observer or Paramedic and save the points/SWC.
As always, Spec-Ops gives you the opportunity to add some additional skills to your army, that you otherwise may struggle to get, not only that though, having customizable equipment and being linkable with Grunts, you actually can totally change their use in the game. Here are a couple of my favorite Grunt Spec Ops loadouts:
INTEL Spec-Ops (12 XP) (CH: Mimetism, Hacking Device) Rifle, Molotok / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10)
First up is my all-time favorite. This load out basically makes him a mini Unknown Ranger, but for a fraction of the cost. With a Molotok and Mimetism, you've changed your Grunt link from being purely long-ranged to having a very aggressive option to move up and dish out some punishing firepower. A hacking device for good measure, and now you've got a totally different outlook on the Grunt Link.
INTEL Spec-Ops (12 XP) (Doctor, Chain of Command, Hacking Device) Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10)
If you don't want to get your Spec-Ops into a fight, then consider a load-out like this. He is able to stick in the backfield, providing some doctor support, while intercepting enemy aircraft, and should your real Lieutenant go down, he'll take command. This allows you to do similar shenanigans as with The Unknown Ranger, but at a much lower price point.
As far as cheap links go, it's hard to argue with the Grunts. You can get a fully equipped link team for 75 points or less, and once they've taken up a defensive position, they can be hard as hell to dislodge. They provide cheap orders which you can use to bolster the other ~225 points of your force with. If vanilla is more your style, you only have AVA2, but even just two Grunt Infiltrators can sway a game.
When you are making a link, I would avoid going too over the top with heavy weapons, the goal is to keep them as cheap as possible, though if I were to spam any one weapon, it would be the sniper rifle, 4 of these plus a Paramedic is a mere 84/2.0 and gives you a pile of ARO for the enemy to deal with.