Annihilation has lost specialists entirely, and it’s not alone in that. Several missions in season 9 now no longer need specialists at all.
But don’t be fooled. What really changed was how this mission scores.
Do you want to know more?
Notes: as always, the analysis below assumes roughly equal player skill and even dice luck. Also, anything that’s unchanged from the Season 8 article on Annihilation will have it’s header marked in Purple.
- Killing serves to define how to score enemy and friendly casualties.
- No Quarter has a passive but important function: making sure that the last order counts.
- HVT & Classified decks not used
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Let’s talk about Datatracker for a second. There is a hell of a lot more going on here than just ‘Classifieds went away’. Datatracker is a fundamental change in the nature of ITS, so deep that it affects the entire ITS meta, far beyond this one mission. But one mission at a time is how I decided to do this.
PLAYER INTERACTION VERSUS RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
DISCLAIMER: I’m not placing a value judgement on one or the other. I just want to be really clear about which is which, so when I do get to the judgey part, everyone knows where I’m coming from.
If I have to complete a Classified Objective, i’m interacting with a point on the table. Sure, you might have a sneaky sniper or a ferocious fireteam pointed at me while I do it, but they’re an obstacle, not my goal. My goal is to get to a certain spot on the table and pass a wip roll. (or detonate a D-charge or take someone’s car keys)
(Before someone starts sputtering ‘But but but Data Scan’ please be honest — how many times did you target a live enemy and how many times did you just wait for an unconscious target that couldn’t reset? […dramatic pause…] That’s what I thought.)
There’s another piece to classified objectives that makes them resource management rather than player interaction. They’re random. You don’t get to know your opponent’s list or even their faction when you’re making an ITS list, so it’s resource management, as pure as it comes.
But what if I kill my opponent’s specialists? That’s player interaction, right?
Not really. You see, outside of Firefight and Comms Center, you were not actually incentivized to kill enemy specialists. Killing that Foxtrot was still managing resources, just doing so in an aggressive way. If you’ve ever played Settlers of Catan and placed a road that does you no good and will never lead to anywhere just to stop an opponent from placing a road there, then you know what I mean.
If you’ve never played Settlers of Catan then please stop reading this and go play Settlers of Catan. It has hexagons so it’s basically the same as Infinity.
Now, to be fair, if you step far enough back from Infinity, it’s all order pools and spending orders and the whole game is resource management.
But we can draw a line to indicate where player interaction starts. It starts when my ability to score is directly influenced by my opponent’s choices. Placing the HVT was a sort of indirect influence; placement was restricted so heavily that most of the spots on the board that would actually make a classified harder to complete were not legal placements. Sure, I could put an HVT on the edge of the board and cut the area available for Secure HVT in half, or I could tuck it behind a rock and make Designation harder and Data Scan a lot easier. There’s not a lot of room to swing there. Pretty much everyone just dropped the HVT somewhere and went on with the game.
Datatracker is an entirely different animal, before we even approach the fact that it’s 2 points together rather than 2 classified objectives worth 1 point each. (which I’ll go into below).
The Datatracker is an openly designated enemy trooper. It can be in a fireteam, it can be a TAG, it can even be your Lieutenant. It’s entirely up to you to choose yours and your opponent to choose his. As if that weren’t enough, you choose your Datatracker AFTER deployment. That’s huge. You know all your opponent’s open information before you pick who your Datatracker will be. That’s scoring flexibility beyond anything in any previous ITS mission. That’s 2 OPs that are entirely in my control. If I screw up, I can’t blame the deck or my opponent’s specialist selection.
It’s all on me and personally I couldn’t be more excited about it.
THINGS FOR TOs TO CONSIDER
Killed or Dead?
Get out your scissors, because we’re about to split some hairs. ‘Killed’ refers to troopers who are Dead or in a Null state at end of game. ‘Dead’ is just a game state that’s common to all games of Infinity. Read that again. There’s going to be a quiz later.
There is some inconsistency in the application of the terms ‘army points’ and ‘victory points’. The simplest (and based on informal polling) most popular solution is to apply Baggage bonuses Army points and Victory points equivalently. The advantage of this reading is that baggage is a true risk/reward, which it would not be if you applied Baggage only to Victory points. The rest of this post assumes you’ll be playing it that way.
I think Annihilation is a fine first round mission in Season 9. I’m changing my opinion on event placement for this mission due to the way that Datatracker kills score. Details are in the section below on stopping a Major victory.
How is the Datatracker declared?
Per HellLois, the Datatracker is chosen after the end of deployment, in the same order as Initiative. That is, the player taking the first turn chooses and declares his Datatracker, followed by the player with the second turn.
GETTING A MAJOR VICTORY
All the OPs other than the Datatracker Kill are contested, meaning that by scoring points you simultaneously take them away from your opponent.
Generally, getting a Major means killing and not getting killed back. You needn’t be obsessed with tabling your opponent without losing a man, there is a sweet spot at 151/149 points killed/surviving: At 151 points of enemy troops killed, you create a ‘floor’ of 3 to 1. From there, you only need to kill the enemy Datatracker and hold your casualties to no more than 149 for an 8-2 major victory.
|Enemy Casualties||Your OP||Enemy Survival OP|
|Your Casualties||Your OP||Enemy Killing OP|
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
A trooper’s points cost stops being private information when he’s killed (removed from the table). Take advantage of this rule and keep track of where you are in points killed.
The killed and surviving thresholds do not change based on baggage. If your enemy has brought troopers with the Baggage skill, keep them closely in mind as you select your targets. Against Tohaa be very aware of Chaksa Auxiliars.
|Yu Jing||Yaopu Pangguling||2||56|
|Qapu Khalki||Kameel Remotes||2||56|
|Combined Army||Ikadron Batroids||2||58|
|Onyx Force||Ikadron Batroids||2||58|
HOW TO STOP A MAJOR VICTORY
Stopping a Major victory has become much, much easier this Season. because the ‘Sweet spot’ described above only grants a 4 point lead, you can stop a Major, even when your opponent is in this dominating scoring range by just killing his Datatracker and/or protecting your own. It’s Infinity so killing his will probably be easier to do.
If you can kill the enemy Datatracker and 150 army points, you’ll have locked your opponent out of a Major victory
Make your opponent spend extra orders for every kill. When in doubt, use suppressive fire.
KEY LIST ELEMENTS
- Bring doctors and paramedics and be tactical about using them; a restored friendly can be as good or better than an enemy casualty, particularly if it’s the Datatracker you’re bringing back.
- Make good use of passive defenses like Minelayers, camouflage, and perimeter weapons.
- Baggage is probably worth the risk, especially if you are playing Tohaa or Ariadna.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WIN THE LT ROLL
Go first. You should only consider choosing deployment if the table is extremely imbalanced.