The Art of Limited Insertion
In preparation for the Emerald City Incursion, we’ve been playing a lot of games with Limited Insertion. For those who are unfamiliar, Limited Insertion is an ITS format, which restricts players to a single combat group, and prohibits Strategic Use of Command Tokens.
Compared to regular games of Infinity, Limited Insertion and 10-order lists in general, often take much more time to craft a solid, and effective army. Your orders suddenly become an extremely finite resource. You’re only ever going to get 30 orders during an entire game, and much more likely that you’ll only get 20 or so, even if things go well.
In this article, I’m going to go over different considerations that you should make if you’re interested in playing in a Limited Insertion event, or just if you want to play some 10-order lists.
Army of One
The most common thing I see when people make Limited Insertion lists, is to build a list focused around one model who is going to do all the heavy lifting. Units like the Avatar, Marut, Achilles, and other expensive power houses tend to take center stage, backed up by a handful of cheap order generators and specialists. Sometimes, this concept may also revolve around a pair of powerful units, such as a Su Jian Duo, or even a powerful Haris, but in principle they work very much the same. In my experience, these lists tend to win big, or lose big, a single lucky Assault Hacker, isolating your most important model will quickly lead to your army falling apart. Similarly, by hunting down their weaker supporting troops, your big monster can quickly become starved of orders.
Now, that’s not all to say that an army like this can’t be effective. I’ve won plenty of games with an Avatar list, but it’s always been risky, so much of what I end up doing isn’t playing the scenario, but instead focusing on keeping my Avatar alive and in combat. If you’re going down this route, you really need to have a Plan-B for when your big guy goes down, and also have the doctors/engineers necessary to keep them in action.
Most recently, instead of building lists around a single powerful unit, I’ve been making lists where no single model is the lynchpin of the whole list. Infinity is replete with interesting characters and units which bring a wide array of equipment. Often times in standard games, these characters may be ignored or overlooked, as they also tend to cost a lot of points. Since you are limited to so few models in Limited Insertion though, having a model which can accomplish several tasks, suddenly becomes much more desirable than having several models filling the same role.
Lets look at the kind of unit that I am talking about:
Corax Hasht has become one of the staple units in my Combined Army lists. Wielding a spitfire, backed up by BS13 turns him into a very competent gun slinger. He’s a specialist, so can accomplish mission objectives. Finally, Nanoscreen, NWI, and Shock Immunity, makes him surprisingly resilient. This is the ideal kind of unit in my ensemble kinds of Limited Insertion lists, some of my other favorites are the Charontid or Anathematic Hackers, Asuras, Karakuri, Lupe Balboa, and Father Knight Assault Hackers.
One of the best things about capitalizing on these units is that you end up having all the capabilities you need, spread out across the whole army, rather than in a single location. Having Corax Hasht on one side of the board, Anyat on another, and an Umbra in the middle, means you can get a deadly fighter, or specialist, anywhere you need it, without having to spend a lot of orders redeploying your less-versatile units.
A Special Note on Fireteams
Generally, I’m not a huge fan of a 5-man fireteam in Limited Insertion. A defensive link supporting a powerhouse for an Army of One style list might be decent, but overall, I find having half of your army stuck in one place tends to be a bigger burden than anything. If you are playing a sectorial, try sticking to Haris and Duos instead, which will let you spread your army across the board more effectively.
This is always a tricky thing in any game, but doubly so in Limited Insertion. Generally, I’m of the belief that ARO pieces are put out there to get shot and killed during your opponent’s turn. When you’re restricted to only 10-models, it isn’t very appealing to have a bunch of your orders shot and killed before you even get a turn. In Limited Insertion, it’s easy to just deploy everything in total cover, and avoid getting shot. Sometimes though, this can be exactly what your opponent wants, allowing them to move up onto objectives, or worse, freely move attack pieces up the board and start killing you anyhow.
When selecting units to protect your army with powerful AROs, you really need to think about how your ARO pieces are going to affect the enemy’s orders on the first turn. Units like Fugazi, which are a staple in most games, end up being more of a liability. Their ARO isn’t that powerful, and your opponent may well be able to take it out in a single order. More suitable ARO pieces in this format are going to have multiple wounds, or at least Dogged, visibility modifiers, and if you’re lucky, high armor. Great ARO pieces for Limited Insertion include the Yan Huo missile launcher, Noctifer missile launcher, Q-Drone (and all Total Reaction remotes), Swiss Guard or Hac Tao missile launcher, Proxy Mk.2 MULTI Sniper. All of these units will generally take your opponent several orders to dislodge, and if they’re also playing a 10-order list, could very well ruin their entire first turn.
An obvious part of playing Limited Insertion, and really the whole point of the format, is that it puts extra emphasis on how efficiently players use their orders. Infinity is a game of options, there are MANY things any one model can do with a single order during their activation, but to really be effective when you have so few orders, you need to pay close attention to how you spend each and every one of them.
Some of the most common, and powerful combination of skills, often consume extra orders. Spending an order on supportware for a Total Reaction remote is a great example of this. Total Reaction remotes are already pretty damn good in shooting, thanks to their high burst, and long range, and they only become even more brutal when they have Assisted Fire used on them. When playing with so few orders though, you really need to ask if Assisted Fire is worth spending a full order on. Often times that order can be the difference between getting a model into position or out of a bad spot, or having a second chance at activating an objective.
Smoke is another tool which is incredibly powerful, but each time you throw it, you’re spending an order not killing the opponent’s ARO pieces, and not doing something else which gets you closer to accomplishing the ITS objectives. Look for other ways to safely advance up the table, try using coordinated orders to move many models at once. Better yet, if you can move multiple pieces at once with a coordinated order, and have them all fire at an enemy ARO piece. You may lose one of them in the process, but that one order allowed you to move 3 other pieces, and probably kill the TR bot at the same time. This brings up another point… piece trading.
Piece trading in Infinity is a very common practice, where you sacrifice one of your units to kill an opponent’s piece. Generally speaking, the goal is to kill something worth more than the piece you’re sacrificing. In Limited Insertion though, every piece trade you make, both players will be losing an entire order, which means both players are losing 10% of their order pool. Because of this, when you piece trade, you can look for opportunity cost, rather than unit effectiveness. Losing a powerful unit of your own, to take out an ARO piece, can be well worth it, if it means you can use the rest of your orders more effectively. Using Coordinated Orders to take out enemy ARO pieces, as I mentioned above, often results in losing one of the members of the coordinated order, but is also quite likely to kill the ARO piece as well.
Finally, doctors and engineers are both great at keeping powerful units on the table, but if it takes you 2-3 orders to bring back your piece, then the enemy has already succeeded at wasting nearly half your turn before you’ve fired a single bullet. This is something which the ensemble lists really do great, you can totally skip doctors and engineers, because if you lose one piece, or it becomes isolated/immobilized, you still have plenty others to use in it’s place.
Limited Insertion ≠ 10 Models
A common misconception is that Limited Insertion strictly means 10 models. While this is generally true, there are plenty of ways to get more models on the table! Post Humans are the prime example, able to take up to 5 models for a single slot in your combat group. Puppetactica are another notable unit, much like the Post Humans, but what about everyone else? Synchronized pieces are where it’s at. Every Auxbot and Antipode is potentially another wound of troops your opponent has to chew through. Capitalizing on these, and deploying them in places where your enemy has to deal with them, is another way to diminish their order pool, without affecting your own. Piece trading with an Auxbot will be agonizing, you won’t lose an order, and your opponent will, that’s an incredibly powerful advantage.
Here are a couple Limited Insertion lists I’ve put together, one Army of One, and one Ensemble, both with my Combined Army (because hey, that’s what I’m playing now).
First up is a list I’ve been honing in on lately. It’s compromised almost entirely of a bunch of self sufficient units, nearly all able to perform multiple tasks on the table. The Charontid Lieutenant Hacker is a fantastic unit in Limited Insertion, since I can safely use my Lieutenant order, thanks to Mnemonica, to enter Cybermask at the end of my own turn, so that he is difficult to kill for the opponent on theirs. The Noctifer, Q-Drone, and Speculo all do the job of being fearsome threats, which can take many orders to deal with, while Hasht, Kerr-Nau, and the Shrouded back up the Charontid in pushing buttons.
Next is the Avatar list, the TAG of choice for Combined players everywhere who want to lose a few friends. The rest of the list is designed with supporting the Avatar in mind. A pair of Killer Hackers help take care of any pesky Assault Hackers, and the Nullifier on the Nexus can be used as well to prevent the Avatar from being targeted by any hacking attacks. This still has the Noctifer and Q-Drone ARO threats, just to slow down anyone who might get some momentum against the Avatar itself. If things go south, the Kurgat with Slave Drones can bring the Avatar back up. I opted for the Kurgat, because really the only thing I care about keeping up is the Avatar, and maybe the Q-Drone, so it saves me a few points not getting the Med-Tech.