This past Saturday my local game store, Atomic Empire, hosted the largest Infinity tournament I've had the pleasure of competing in: Shooting the Bull, a Dire States event. Not only was this the biggest infinity tournament I've played in but it was also the first with the 3rd edition rules. I've played a few N3 games, but they've mostly all been simple annihilation matches. I was greatly looking forward to testing my my Haqqislam troops in these new scenarios while enjoying the great company of our local meta here in Durham NC and meeting more folks who were traveling to attend.
Before I get into the tournament itself, I do first want to thank Karl-Christian (FatherKnowsBest on the forums) for organizing and running the tournament (while also playing the role of walking rule book... despite the occasional attempt to take a minute to hide). I was unfortunately unable to attend the Sunday event, but that took place thanks to Charlotte warcor, Derek (dlfleetw). Also worth thanking are all the sponsors of the event. Of note amongst the sponsors was another local warcor, Brian Ramey (Doremicom - on YouTube) - several nice models and boxed sets offered at the random draw at the end of the night seemed to be a Doremicom donation. Finally to everyone who brought and set up the absolutely amazing tables (see below for photos) and to Atomic Empire for hosting. (If I've missed anyone, my apologies and thanks to you also).
On to the actual event. After a little WORLD ORDER in the car and a lot of coffee I was ready for (28mm scale) battle. I've previously only played Hassassin lists in tournaments, but having picked up Tarik Mansuri and the Kum Bikers relatively recently I was reluctant to leave them behind and so set aside my Muyib link team and came prepared with two vanilla Haqqislam lists.
Round 1: Annihilation vs. Russ
My first game of the day was an Annihilation battle against Russ and his Caledonians. I'd not played Caledonians before, so wasn't quite sure what to expect other than to keep my eyes peeled for the werewolves. As it turned out these didn't wind up being as much of a problem as the profusion of cheap HMGs and a well deployed link team. While there's no doubt that knowing the other factions will help you fight them, there's still so much variety in what you can bring within any faction that you really never know who you'll go up against.
This game was the first time I've used my Fiday in close combat with the new martial arts rules in N3. In my past N3 games my primary goal has always been to find a good target for his Boarding Shotgun so that he has a chance to take down as many minis as possible before his inevitable demise. In this game, however, there weren't a lot of opportunities for that and Russ's Highlander Grey with HMG was looking particularly nasty so he became my prey. I still think the surprise shot shotgun blast is a great use of the Fiday, but holy cow is surprise attack with martial arts level 2 effective! The Highlander held on for one more order with his dogged state, but ultimately didn't survive and I found my Fiday in a great protected spot in Russ's deployment zone holding a boarding-shotgun ARO over the heads of several models.
This was ultimately a very close battle and ended in a tie (slight advantage going to Russ who had 134 points alive by the end to my 129). I lost a lot of individual minis, but keeping a couple of expensive troops (like Tarik) alive in Annihilation, while prioritizing higher value targets made a big difference... that and using Doctor Plus and my Djanbazan's regeneration to keep as many points up as possible by the end of the game! In fact, my HMG wielding Djanbazan regenerated so many times throughout the day I need to officially rechristen him "Djanba-zombie" (Yes, that's a bad joke. No, I don't regret it).
Round 2: Transmission Matrix vs. Da
In keeping with fighting sectorials I've not faced before, round 2 had Da give me a lesson in the effectiveness of the MRRF. The scenario this time was Transmission Matrix. This was actually the one N3 scenario I had played once before and so I was looking forward to this game. The scenario is interesting in that you have to be within 4" of the antenna with more points than your opponent to control it. However, each antenna acts as a repeater so in controlling an antenna you also open yourself up to be hacked. In my previous playthrough of Transmission Matrix this enabled me to repeatedly hack a Sogarat, turning him into an expensive Morat statue. In this game... did I mention I was playing MRRF? Not exactly known for fielding a ton of juicy heavy infantry to hack! (yes, I know you can hack other targets now in N3, but it's just not the same as locking up 60 points of heavily armored mobile gun platform).
So one of my first lessons of this game was to beware of Mirage Team 5! During my deployment I was slightly nervous about putting my Shihab total reaction HMG bot and my Lasiq close to each other, but they had an amazing field of fire and so it seemed worth it. This...was wrong...and bad...and oh so disappointing when both of them (along with the Nasmat doctor bot close by to heal the Lasiq) fell in the first order of the game when Da dropped Margo and Duroc within 16" and speculatively shot her LGL at them. Margot proceeded to try the same with Tarik who took a wound but managed to stay alive and then fought off Duroc in CC. Beware Mirage Team 5: Lesson learned.
When it got around to my turn, however, I had my own little lesson in deployment: when facing Haqq, don't deploy your link team in a line. If you read what I wrote about my preferred use of the Fiday up above, you're probably already seeing what's coming here: surprise shot with a boarding shotgun, hitting an entire link team. In my defense, I feel this is a hugely painful tactic so I did ask Da during deployment "Are you sure you want them all lined up like that?"... perhaps too a subtle hint, but enough to assuage my guilty conscience! It did take more than a single order to bring down the full 5 man link as dodge has become very effective in N3 (one of my favorite changes), but take them down (dead or prone and out of the battle) the Fiday did. I'm amazed whenever I see a Haqq list that doesn't include a Fiday - they are an absolute essential for me. Although I did start Infinity with the Hassassins so I suppose that reveals something.
Blood-spillage aside, the way to win scenarios is objective points. Throughout the game Da and I both (mostly) held the antennas on our own sides of the table. The central antenna was in its own room and was a fight of camo markers as camo markers are allowed to control antennas in the scenario (although it leads to the weird case of revealing how many point are under a given marker). Fortunately for me, my Farzan ain't cheap and so he held the central antenna giving me the lead after the first round. Da brought up reinforcements the second round but they couldn't quite make it close enough. However with Tarik eventually succumbing to Margot's LGL I lost one antenna on my side ending round 2 in a tie. The third round saw some fierce fighting with my dead-and-back-again Djanba-zombie (it's growing on me) preventing Da from taking my open antenna and grabbing the HVT, but he had enough points in the room to now overwhelm my Farzan. The central antenna went to Da and the game ended in a tie.
As with the first round, this was a close fought and tremendously fun game.
Round 3: Antenna Field vs. Austin
This is where my day's mediocre record of 0/0/2 begins to go a bit south! Round 3 saw me facing Austin's Morat forces in Antenna Field and... well, those monkeys came out swinging! I think I might have won a point or so early in the game, but ultimately Austin came very close to tabling me.
Looking back on this game I think possibly my troops were spread too thinly and that I lacked a bit of firepower in this list. I built around specialists, but whereas in my Hassassin list I would have embedded those in a Muyib link team or brought along a durable Asawira doctor, my light infantry specialists in this list (Ghulam, Farzan, Barid, etc.) were a bit on the squishy side. Nothing to sneeze at... unless you're a Sogarat who's caught the scent of Haqq blood (he sneezes via HMG. It's... not pretty)!
By turn three I had been reduced to a single miniature. Fortunately, that miniature took the heroic form of Tarik Mansuri. The Morats at this point controlled... well, just about everything. Not content to let them get away with this, however, Tarik used his final order of the battle to super-jump up in the air and unleash his spitfire at the two Morats who controlled the central antenna. He drew the fire of just about everyone on the board as, in order to pull off this feat, he needed to jump higher than all the buildings on the table with no hope of cover. And yet. And yet that spitfire blast killed unto death the Morats holding the central antenna. Inexplicably, the return fire bounced harmlessly of the super-soldier's armor, he landed safe and sound... and out of orders. The game went to Austin, but that last order was probably the most satisfying one I played all day.
Naturally, I realized after doing this that it may have been a somewhat selfish move - denying Austin a couple of extra objective points for the sake of cinematically soothing my wounded pride. Still, Austin bought the first round of post-battle beers, so I don't think he was too upset by it! Cheers, Austin.
Round 4: Nimbus Zone vs. Stephen
The final game of the night: Haqq v. Haqq. There are surprisingly not a lot of Haqq forces hitting the tables locally (surprising as they are clearly the coolest of the Infinity factions, amirite?), so opportunities to play another Haqq player are rare. Not having played Nimbus Zone, I was a bit intimidated by all the rules and how to deal with the titular nimbus zone spanning the center of the table and so I was very curious to see how another Haqq player would build a list for it.
As it turned out, the VIP of the game proved to be Stephen's Shihab total reaction HMG remote, a bot that I was deploying too. In this case, however, Stephen's superior deployment with the Shihab and a heavy rocket launcher-wielding Muyib completely shut me down, keeping a vital corridor riddled with bullets and taking out any of my troops who dared set foot there. My best bet was my Djanbazan who could see through the nimbus zone's low visibility effects. With his high-burst HMG I felt sure that he would be the key, but it was not to be so. After coming back to life twice (Djanba-zombie!!! Yup, it's totally a thing now), it was simply not to be in the cards... or more accurately the dice.
While the Shihab and Muyib steadily cleared away my left flank, Stephen's sneaky Al Hawwa hacker successfully protected by a lone sniper gathered objective points on the right. Low on orders and with troops deployed in the "wrong" place, I desperately tried spending what remaining orders I had at the end of round 2 to jump Tarik into a position where he could take out the Al Hawwa, but after his heroic last-ditch feats against the Morats, he was clearly too tired to push through again and he finally fell to a bullet (or 3) in the back from the deadly Shihab remote.
I thus ended the tournament with a final record of 0/2/2... and just enough points to avoid last place! We ended the day with prizes, literally everyone taking home something thanks to the amazing prize support from all the sponsors.
Yeah... it's a long post to recap a long (but fantastic) day, so a conclusion feels like it's in order. Some final thoughts:
- It was a great day - the tables were brilliant, each with it's own distinct theme (I've posted some more photos below).
- The competition was top-notch - the Infinity community is simply a lovely set of fellas ("fellas" as it was a bit of a unisex showing... but I suppose that's not unusual).
- I've not yet figured out the best way to deploy my Kum bikers to avoid them impetuosly riding out into a hail of bullets. I cross my fingers and hope the smokescreen lands. This will come with more practice, I'm sure.
- I learned a lesson in the effectiveness of the Fiday in N3 CC the first round of the day which I promptly forgot. He was sadly ineffective in the final two games of the day. It's always easier to see where he should have been deployed after the game begins!
- Tarik sadly didn't really get into the action. There were always (seemingly) better places to spend an order and so he spent much of the day commanding from the rear rather than super-jumping into certain glory (and death... but that's why I bring along a Chain of Command backup)
- I miss my Muyib link team, but am still really enjoying the bikers and Tarik -- when they're great they're grrrr-eat! And who doesn't love Frosted Flakes?