Infinity Tactics: USAriadna List Building
Taking a queue from the recent post on the Infinity website, having a rough set of goals when making a list is important to ensure that you have your bases covered before you play a game. USAriadna is in a bit of a unique spot though, they don't really need to worry much about generating enough orders, and they also don't have a whole ton of big hitting models to pick from, even their toughest models are comparative to mid-powered troops in the more elite factions. While they can get a lot of specialists, they're often lack luster and hard to justify. When you're playing an army with a restricted set of tools, what should you consider when making a list? While I can't speak for everyone's taste, but I'll happily talk about my considerations.
Similar to the list of parameters set out by that article, I'll be putting less emphasis on order generation, and more value on punching face.
- Specialists - As mentioned USARF can get lots of specialists onto the table, though a significant portion will be forward observers. Making sure you have adequate specialists for your missions is very important though, and lacking them will make Classified Objective very difficult.
- Beatsticks - USARF can spend a lot of SWC on tax, many lieutenants cost a SWC with Foxtrots weighing in at 2 SWC, Maverick FO's cost 0.5 SWC, as well as Grunt Infiltrators, and there is a 1 SWC tax on taking a Marauder Haris team. Be careful, you can quickly run out of SWC before you've taken any guns to handle tough enemies with!
- Roadblocks - Lacking good Total Reaction and MSV2 units can make slowing the enemy advance tricky at first glance, but you'll definitely want a few tools to make sure you don't get rushed.
- Orders - Usually not a consideration, though I do typically aim for at least 14 regular orders, though if I have a lot of Irregular and Impetuous orders (think combined totals of 18+), I don't mind going down to 12 or so regular orders. I won't go into detail here, since it's not really a challenge to do that in list building for USARF, but it's worth paying some attention to.
Many units in USAriadna have access to a forward observer profile, so squeezing them in is really a no-brainer. Not only does it make you a specialist, but it also provides an effective ARO with the Flash Pulse. If you have any models that can be upgraded, you may as well do it. Paramedics can also be found in Marauders and Grunts, letting you diversify a bit, though funny enough, Marauders have Dogged, making the Paramedic (their only specialist) kind of a useless option.
Aside from Paramedics and forward observers, you only really have a few other choices for Specialists: 112s, Dozers, Wardrivers, and the Unknown Ranger. Since the ALIVE crew is most likely going to be out of the sectorial at the end of the season (thank god), as well as Scarface and Cordelia, you're basically left with a single option for Hackers, Doctors, and Engineers.
The 112, the only doctor in the Sectorial is usually a go-to specialist for me, he's fairly inexpensive, and shock-immune Grunts and Minutemen love having a doctor nearby to heal them, since they're AVA 2, I've even been considering doubling up on them when I run Minuteman links.
Dozers are AVA1, and your only source of D-Charges, making them indispensable in missions that place a high value on Classified Objectives (like Highly Classified). Generally, you're not going to have any models for an Engineer to repair, unless you take Traktor Muls, so I often skip them in favor of 112s.
Wardrivers provide some hacking support to the army, but I find them pretty useless. Again, if you need the hacking device for Highly Classified, they're worth considering, but they're not a great offensive hacker, and unless you're using a Katyusha to buff with Assisted Fire, they really don't bring much utility to the army. They get no special discount for their hacking device, which makes them expensive (by Ariadna terms) for a unit which you're not going to get a lot of mileage out of.
Really, it comes down to this, USAriadna isn't going to be so great at achieving Classified Cards, without investing in a lot of specialists that don't contribute a ton of utility otherwise. I wouldn't spend too many points on trying to fix this, and instead focus on the mission and work around it, but if you have a good opportunity to expand your selection of Specialists, it's something worth considering.
Picking out the big guns is always an enjoyable part of list building. On the surface, people often notice that they get access to a couple AP HMGs, cheap HMGs on grunts, and several options for molotoks. What people often overlook is how incredibly inexpensive sniper rifles are in the sectorial. The Grunt, Foxtrot, Marauder all get access to sniper rifles at 0.5 SWC, while the Blackjack gets a T2 sniper for only 1 SWC, this is where I think the hidden strength of the sectorial lies, as you can easily get 3-4 sniper rifles, and have plenty of SWC left over for HMGs, molotoks, rocket launchers, and katyusha.
While they don't have units like the Aquila Guard, Hac Tao, and other terrifying, hard to kill units, they do have some atypical methods of killing tough enemies or dishing out heavy damage. USAriadna can get a fair amount of SMGs, either on Airborne Rangers, Mavericks, Desperados, or Blackjacks (not that they need the extra punch), and AP rifles on Van Zant, and Minutemen. The AP ammunition of these weapons increases their effective damage against heavily armored targets, so if you're firing them at an ARM4-5 model, they're hitting just as hard as an HMG, and against tough TAGs with ARM 6+, they're actually hitting even harder.
USAriadna can also get a good number of template weapons, quite a few units have shotgun options, chain rifles, flame throwers, light grenade launchers, and even Mavericks can take a light rocket launcher. While these weapons don't hit particularly hard, they can hit multiple opponents with the same attack, increasing the likelihood of taking down a few opponents. The Devil Dog can be especially fun thanks to their chain rifle or heavy shotgun, since super jump allows you to more-easily get into a position where you can hit many opponents at once, and if you survive getting that close, he hits like a truck
The Traktor Mul brings perhaps the most destructive weapons in the entire force. There is some debate between the katyusha and the urugan, but in my book the Katyusha wins, no contest. The multiple-burst rockets of the urugan and it's Total Reaction, all require being in LOF of the enemy, it has terrible BS, and very limited range bands, so I prefer the Katyusha to hide in the back of the army and shell (using both Guided and Speculative Fire) the enemies that have been targeted by the factions abundant forward observers.
Finally, the man who needs no introduction, Van Zant. He doesn't have any particularly hard-hitting weaponry, but his ability to show up on any table edge and take advantage of poor enemy deployment can turn the tide of a game. I used to take him every game, but quickly my opponents got much better at defending their back edge, so now I take him about 50% of the time, just to keep them guessing.
My go-to beatsticks are Grunt or Foxtrot Snipers, Minutemen with AP HMGs and missile launchers, and assault pistol Desperados charging into clumps of enemies. The Marauder heavy rocket and molotok are also decent choices, though either they'll be your core choice and you will lack a Haris, or you'll be paying an extra SWC for the Haris option, of the two I think that the Heavy Rocket works best on it's own thanks to it's MSV1. I do however often take a list that focuses on the katyusha, supported by 3-4 Foxtrot forward observers, which catches people off guard.
Many of the units I just mentioned are fantastic active-turn killers, but stopping your enemy from gunning up the board, securing objectives and massacring your troops is also important. Now, USAriadna has no access to MSV2, so stopping warbands advancing through smoke is going to take a different approach, similarly they don't have access to Total Reaction (on a model you'd want it on anyhow), so you're lacking two of the most common ways to prevent the enemy from advancing, so how do you do it without these?
Suppressive fire can be the poor-man's Total Reaction, and thankfully a significant number of models in the army have access to good weapons for it! Any SMG you have can bet set to Suppressive Fire with either AP or Shock ammunition, and their range-bands over 8" suffer no change. Marauders with Molotoks in the mid-field on Suppressive Fire can create a tough position to advance through, and thanks to their Dogged, even if they do damage you, there's a good chance you'll still be standing for the rest of the turn giving the enemy a headache. Spending a coordinated order turn 1 to put units in the mid-field into suppressive fire can go a long way to blunting the enemy advance, but how do you defend yourself if you are going second?
Fireteam Bonuses in the reactive turn are incredibly effective for giving the enemy a heinous time moving up the board. USAriadna has very few Link Team choices, but the Grunts stand out as their premiere defensive choice. Incredibly inexpensive, ARM 3 and Shock Immunity makes them a difficult rock to shift, at a very low cost. The HMG is a fairly versatile choice to add into a Grunt link as well, while they're more expensive, they give you some active-turn versatility. Taking a 5-man link with 2 snipers, 2 forward observers, and a paramedic only costs 70/1 points, if you want to get really dirty, you could even take 4 snipers and a paramedic for only 84/2! Imagine that, a building in the deployment zone littered with 4 snipers, pointing every which way, and it not even taking up 1/3 of your points in a standard game.
Foxtrots and Hardcase are inexpensive infiltrating units that can carry shotguns, jamming 2-3 of these up the table will force your enemy to deal with revealing them before they advance, or suffer the consequences. A Foxtrot can also drop a mine as an ARO, which is somewhat situational, as you'll often get shot in the face in the process, but against enemy motorcycles, the dodge they'll have to risk with their next order may be enough to stop them in their tracks. Grunt Infiltrators can also be handy for this, though their unreliability keeps me from relying on them.
One last thing to not overlook is the effectiveness of a single Grunt Sniper. For a mere 18/0.5 points, you can cover a firing lane with an ARM6 sniper. They're not terribly threatening, but they have a powerful enough weapon to turn them into a serious consideration for your opponent, even taking two of them isn't all that prohibitive for 36/1, and they'll almost certainly force your opponent to spend a few extra orders to advance.
To slow the enemy, I almost always take 3-4 Foxtrots and/or Hardcase, and either a Grunt defensive link with two snipers, or two individual Grunt snipers backing up a Marauder or Minuteman link. I think I may have to try a 4-sniper Grunt link in the future though (the reason for 4 instead of 5 is so you can hide the link leader).
Okay, so how do we put all these ideas together? I'm going to share with you 3 lists, based around the three operation types in ITS tournaments: Direct Action (few specialists required), Joint Operations (mid-amount of specialists), and Special Operations (the most specialists). Obviously I'd tweak them a bit for the specific scenarios if needed, and you get to write a second list as well, but I think these are some solid starting points:
USARF Ohio + grunt snipers ──────────────────────────────────────────────────
GROUP 110 MINUTEMAN Missile Launcher, Light Flamethrower / Pistol, CCW. (1.5 | 29) MINUTEMAN AP HMG / Pistol, CCW. (1.5 | 34) MINUTEMAN Boarding Shotgun, Grenades / Pistol, CCW. (0 | 24) MINUTEMAN (Forward Observer) Rifle, 2 Light Flamethrowers / Pistol, CCW. (0 | 23) MINUTEMAN Lieutenant Rifle, 2 Light Flamethrowers / Pistol, CCW. (0 | 22) MARAUDER (Multispectral Visor L1) Heavy Rocket Launcher / Assault Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 26) FOXTROT (Forward Observer) Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 18) FOXTROT (Forward Observer) Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 18) FOXTROT Boarding Shotgun, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 19) VAN ZANT AP Rifle / Heavy Pistol, AP CCW. (0 | 38)
GROUP 23 112 Light Shotgun / Pistol, CCW. (0 | 12) GRUNT (Marksmanship LX) Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 18) GRUNT (Marksmanship LX) Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 18)
5.5 SWC | 299 Points
Van Zant, the very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room; accept no substitutes. Backing up this bad ass with a full team of well armed Minutemen. Your first turn will likely consist of a Van Zant rampage, while the Minutemen move into positions to provide a strong reactive turn with 5 effective longer-range ARO weapons. The 112 is a clutch piece, spend his orders to heal Grunt Snipers or Minutemen, it's probably worth moving him into the main order pool at the first opportunity.
USAriadna Artillery ──────────────────────────────────────────────────
GROUP 110 GRUNT (Marksmanship LX) Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 18) GRUNT (Marksmanship LX) Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 18) GRUNT (Forward Observer) Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 11) GRUNT Heavy Flamethrower, Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10) GRUNT Lieutenant Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (1 | 10) DOZER (Traktor Mul Control Device) Rifle, D-Charges / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 14) TRAKTOR MUL Katyusha MRL / Electric Pulse. (1 | 11) TRAKTOR MUL (Minesweeper) Electric Pulse. (0 | 5) 112 Light Shotgun / Pistol, CCW. (0 | 12) FOXTROT Boarding Shotgun, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 19)
GROUP 27 2 2 AIRBORNE RANGER (Forward Observer) Submachine Gun / Pistol, AP CC Weapon, Knife. (0 | 21) FOXTROT (Forward Observer) Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 18) FOXTROT (Forward Observer) Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 18) FOXTROT (Forward Observer) Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 18) MARAUDER (Multispectral Visor L1) Heavy Rocket Launcher / Assault Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 26) MARAUDER (Fireteam: Haris) Rifle, Heavy Flamethrower / Heavy Pistol, Knife. (1 | 22) MARAUDER Paramedic (MediKit) Rifle, Heavy Flamethrower / Heavy Pistol, Knife. (0 | 23) DESPERADO Chain Rifle, Smoke Grenades / 2 Assault Pistols, CC Weapon. (0 | 13) DESPERADO Chain Rifle, Smoke Grenades / 2 Assault Pistols, CC Weapon. (0 | 13)
5.5 SWC | 300 Points
One of my favorite lists, a combined order count of 21 orders, this army has a lot of resources to do any job you want. The Marauders and Desperados have a pool of 6-7 to work with, while the Katyusha can attempt to fire it's rockets a full 10 times. If you are going second, your opponent doesn't really have an obvious pool to detract from, either they reduce your Katyusha pool (and 8 is still plenty) or they reduce your Marauders (still leaving you with 4 to use on Foxtrot observe attempts). To accomplish your missions you have 8 Specialists to pick from, 3 of which are camouflaged infiltrators. The play style of this list keeps your opponent off guard, attacking in many different ways. If you want to tweak it a bit, you could try a Hardcase instead of Airborne Ranger and spend those points on a third Grunt sniper.
USAriadna Ranger Force ──────────────────────────────────────────────────
GROUP 18 2 2 FOXTROT (Forward Observer) Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 18) FOXTROT (Forward Observer) Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 18) FOXTROT (Forward Observer) Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 18) GRUNT (Marksmanship LX) Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 18) 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 / Pistol, Knife. (1 | 10) DESPERADO Submachine Gun, Smoke Grenades / 2 Heavy Pistols, CC Weapon. (0 | 13) DESPERADO Submachine Gun, Smoke Grenades / 2 Heavy Pistols, CC Weapon. (0 | 13)
GROUP 28 1 1 112 Light Shotgun / Pistol, CCW. (0 | 12) MARAUDER Molotok / Heavy Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 28) MARAUDER (Fireteam: Haris) Rifle, Heavy Flamethrower / Heavy Pistol, Knife. (1 | 22) MARAUDER Paramedic (MediKit) Rifle, Heavy Flamethrower / Heavy Pistol, Knife. (0 | 23) MAVERICK (Forward Observer) Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 19) GRUNT (Inferior Infiltration) Heavy Flamethrower, Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 11) GRUNT (Inferior Infiltration) Heavy Flamethrower, Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 11) AIRBORNE RANGER (Forward Observer) Submachine Gun / Pistol, AP CC Weapon, Knife. (0 | 21) WARCOR (Aerocam) Flash Pulse / Stun Pistol, Knife. (0 | 3)
6 SWC | 299 Points
It's not only important to grab objectives, but it's also important to defend them. A Marauder Haris with Molotok is a solid mid-field unit, able to advance up the field with punishing firepower. The goal with the Grunt link, Grunt infiltrators, and Desperado is to try and keep your opponent stuck in their deployment zone, having to overcome your roadblocks to get up the board onto objectives. The Airborne Ranger adds another element of surprise, with so many models on the table, worrying about another specialist coming on the table edge might be far from their minds, or they'll expect something and spend a lot of effort defending their back edge from a non-existent Van Zant.
There you have it! That's basically what I'm thinking when I approach list building. It may not be perfect, but it seems to do pretty well for me. Are there any extra considerations you take when writing your list for USAriadna? I'd love to hear them!