Returning to the Combined Army
When I first got started with Infinity, I picked up both USAriadna, and Combined Army. In most games I play, I tend to pick up factions in pairs, with some sort of strong differentiator, which gives me a lot of options when I play games. For Infinity, I wanted the lowest tech faction in the game, and the highest tech.
For a while after the drop of Human Sphere N3, I got into playing Onyx, as it blended some of my favorite units from the Combined Army into a single sectorial, though it was missing some staple units like Daturazi and the EI Aspects, which I really enjoy. After this however, I got into playing USARF pretty heavily, as you may have noticed from Jon's (WiseKensai) battle reports, or the multitude of USARF related articles I published here. Instead of getting back to Combined after my USARF phase, I got distracted by Druze and then Ikari Company...
Well, now it's time to get back to my favorite army in the game, The Combined Army.
It has been a long time since I had so many tools at my disposal. I've got adept at finding unique situations to make everything in my other armies shine, so I'm looking forward to a whole new collection of troops to explore. That said, compared to the sectorials I've been used to playing, Combined has a HUGE amount of troops to pick from.
One of the biggest things I'm looking forward to with Combined Army is getting the aspects back on the table. The Charontid HD+ is one of my favorite units in the Combined Army, able to protect itself with Cybermask, and surprise shot the enemy with a BS14 plasma rifle. I also love the Anathematic, similarly able to surprise shot with a plasma rifle, but also protected by that -6 to be hit. I really just love all of the EI Aspects, and I'm sure my friends will be quickly reminded of their capabilities.
Playing USARF has done a good job of helping me discover different ways to solve problems, which higher tech factions often forget about or take for granted. Now that I'm getting back to playing with sophisticated pieces of equipment, like MSV2 and powerful hackers, I'm hoping that I can combine high tech tricks, but also be able to rely on some low tech solutions if the time comes.
I haven't REALLY played a vanilla faction in a while. I toyed around with some Avatar-centered Combined lists last Adepticon, but I didn't really get to explore the variety of choice of the army. Now that I'm back to playing pure vanilla Combined, I'm going to be playing without the Fireteams which I've become so used to using.
Furthermore, I've got very used to piece trading, USARF does this incredibly well with Grunt Infiltrators, or even Marauders, while Ikari Company can throw a handful of Yuan Yuan at any problematic enemy troops. Combined does have some cheap troops you could sacrifice, like the Ikadron, but since their heavy hitters are so order hungry, it's not always advisable.
I've noticed that this time around, I've been looking at the Combined Army differently than I had previously. Instead of mentally restricting myself, thinking of them purely as an elite army, I've really been falling in love with some of their less expensive options.
This isn't to say that I only like the inexpensive choices in the army, but I've gotta admit that 16 orders with Combined feels pretty fun. Thanks to Ikadrons, R-Drones, and Imetrons, you can get 6 orders for 42 points, bolstering the order pool for your more powerful fighters. I'll definitely use some Xeodrons, Anathematics, and other brutal pieces in the very near future as well, it's just fun to try all the extremes in list building.
As I progress with the army, building my expertise back up, I want to eventually end up running a lot of 10-order lists. Able to get both MSV+Smoke, and White Noise with a wide repeater net to use it in, makes it so that CA can dominate any fire-fight that they damn well please. Units like Anyat and Kerr-Nau, both bring amazing load-outs of equipment and skills, while Overdrons, Q-Drones and Charontids with HMGs can brutally dominate the active turn.
If any faction can make 10 orders shine, I think it's the Combined. Having obvious lieutenants isn't a huge deal for them, thanks to G:Mnemonica, so you can use that Lieutenant Order with little worry. The only irregular troops are the Cube Jager and Hungries, so coordinated orders will be very usable. Furthermore, the moderately priced troops in the Combined Army bring a serious tool kit.