MISSION BREAKDOWN: ITS 9 Hunting Party

ITS 9 is the biggest step forward in Infinity play since Campaign: Paradiso, and some growing pains are gonna come with that.

As always, the breakdowns and advice for this mission assume equivalent player skill and roughly even dice luck. Also, anything that’s unchanged from the Strikezone: Wotan article will have it’s header marked in Purple.

ITS needed a shakeup. We’ve had 4 years of dry missions with solid rules. Typos here and there sure, but solid, solid rules. And it was starting to show. Certain play-styles were becoming dominant, especially in more static metas. Infinity has always been very resistant to things like net-listing and auto-include troops, but even that wall was cracking around the edges. The timeworn motto of ‘It’s not your list, it’s you’ was showing its age.

Until ITS season 9, you could say that ITS missions had a certain dry simplicity: Push this button, stand on this spot. Hunting Party is emphatically not dry– it is a ‘Bring ‘em back alive’ version of Decapitation, which was itself a huge departure from all the ITS missions that came before. Hunting Party is a truly narrative mission, of a style we haven’t really seen since Paradiso.

Let’s talk a bit about that that means.

Thrilling Narrative or Tangle of Unique Rules?

Kids, today’s magic phrase is ‘false dilemma’. That’s when someone presents an argument as if there were only two possible outcomes, when the facts point to the existence of many more–possibly even a (big word warning) continuum of outcomes.

I’m not going to fix the internet with a blog article about toy soldiers so I will take the cheap way out, the time-honored shortcut you’ve barely tolerated since someone read a Webster’s definition of Success at your graduation: I will dump a link to Wikipedia:  False Dichotomy Bad.

So what’s the false dilemma we’re talking about? For us, it’s the incredibly false dichotomy that somehow playing the game narratively and playing the competitively are mutually exclusive.

either-you-love-bacon-or-youre-wrong
There is nothing false about this. Fight me.

 

Epic Story Time

Every game has a Narrative. Chess calls its pieces ‘Bishops and Queens’, despite being so abstract that there’s no representation of Matriarchy or Religion in the game at all. You could say that Go has no narrative, but as centuries of philosophy around the game has argued: the narrative in Go is you.

There are some folks who, for sure, pretend that a focus on ‘the narrative’ means they don’t have to learn the rules. They are wrong and dumb. It’s every player’s responsibility to showcase committed play for his opponent. Notice I didn’t say you have to be competitive: you just have to show up. Reading the mission and asking a few questions when something proves hard to parse is a pretty low bar for commitment.

Anyway, the story is better if both players tell it together, right?

A Moment of Clarity

Along with a sense of fun, we all expect competitive fairness in our games. We all want to approach the game with the understanding that the resources available can accomplish the stated goal, and that the puzzle of applying those resources will be apparent to both players.

Let me unpack that a bit, because someone right now is saying to themselves “I don’t care if the game is transparent to my opponent, just transparent to me“.

pogo
And if the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and I’m my own worst enemy then I’m also my own best friend. People are dogs. Proved.

Well, aside from being a dick, that guy is outnumbered. He’s outnumbered because his opponent and the event judge disagree, for sure. He’s also going to disagree with himself because, hang on to your butts, when he moves on to his next game, he doesn’t want to be the guy who doesn’t understand how the damn rules work.

If neither player understands the rules, that’s fair, but I think everyone agrees it’s bad. If only 1 player understands the rules, that’s iffy–because it relies on the transparency of that player for the game to be fair. Clearly, the best option is for both players to have a clear understanding of the rules. Again, you don’t have to be a tactical genius, but you do have to get your brain out of bed in the morning.

tenor
Thanks for coming this far, we’re nearly there.

The thing is, the Narrative can be more than a code word for ‘I didn’t read the mission’. It can be a coping mechanism to help us all manage the stress of adapting to the New Normal. If you didn’t follow the link above to read the article about how that author approaches playing Go, you really should. His description of long-term optimizing in particular is really insightful.

We, as players of ITS,  are relearning Infinity right now.  Rules that never mattered before have been given new impact by missions in this year’s packet. New missions are making us ask new questions of the rules. The path from ‘no one gets it’ to ‘everyone gets it’ is going to be littered with mines and at times hard to see.

But if we keep our minds right, it’s going to be fun getting there.

SPECIAL RULES

Reinforced tactical link (Capture Version)

This functions identically to the Decapitation rule, with the addition that Lieutenants in either version of the Immobilized state must be replaced as if they were Null. 

Restricted Range

This is an abstract rule to say the least. It is however easy to apply. Any attacks that are determined to be more than 32” in range are automatic failures. No dice are rolled, so BS attacks from outside 32″ cannot be face to face with dodges or even hacking through a repeater.

Hunt Down Objectives

  • Troopers must be in the IMM-1 or Isolated state at the end of the game to count as hunted down.
  • Troopers who are Dead are not in play and have no states. They cannot count as ‘Hunted Down’.
  • Airborne and Hidden troopers that have not been deployed by end of game count as automatically Hunted Down, so you can’t protect them by not bringing them out.
  • Troopers with the Veteran Level 1 skill cannot be Isolated and cannot be scored as Hunted down unless they are Immobilized.

There are Veterans and there are Veterans

Everyone knows that tomatoes are fruit, but did you know that watermelons are berries? Fun fact, there are 2 uses of the word Veteran in Infinity. One is a troop classification and the other is a skill. You can tell them apart by where they appear in the profile.

profilevet

There’s not really a shorthand for this and you’ll need to understand it in order to play this mission using all the resources available to you. I’d start with reading the Veteran Skill on the wiki  then hop over to Army6 and search your faction for any troops with that skill. Then hit the page for Troop Classifications on the wiki and do another search, just to see what your army is working with.

PROTIP: The Morat Rule includes Veteran L1, so no need to search if you’re playing MAF all your monkeys are Veterans.

Hunting Mission

  • Troopers with Multi-weapons can fire Stun Special ammunition. As of N3, this no longer requires consent from your opponent. It does however, limit B to 1.
  • In this mode, the multi weapon does not cause the Stunned state. Instead, if the BTS save is failed, the target is placed in the Immobilized-1 state.
  • The table below lists the troopers from each faction who receive a bonus ADHL at no cost. Troopers with an ADHL already in the profile receive a second one.
  • Troopers with any kind of pistol receive a stun pistol. Troops who already have a stun pistol receive a second one.  The second table below lists troopers with stun pistols by faction.
Troops who receive a free (or a second) ADHL
Elite Headquarters Veteran
Panoceania Akalis, Sikh Commandos

Svalarheima Nisse

Knights of the Holy Sepulchre

Hospitaller Knights

Magister Knights

Knights of Montesa

Knights of Santiago

Teutonic Knights

 

Hexas

Aquila Guard

Swiss Guard

Order Sergeants

Bagh Mari Unit

Crusader Brethren

Neoterra Bolts

Guarda de Assalto

Father Knights

ORC Troops

Yu Jing Imperial Agent, Pheasant Rank

Tiger Soldiers

Hac Tao

Imperial Agent, Crane Rank

Shikami

Oniwaban

Hsien Warriors Zhanying Imperial Agents

Dao Fei Tactical Section

Ariadna Kazak Spetsnaz

Tankhunters

Mormaers

Mirage-5

Veteran Kazaks

Ariadna Scouts

Blackjacks Briscards

Marauders

Moblots

3rd Highlander Grey Rifles

5th Minutemen ‘Ohio’

Haqqislam Khawarij

Djanbazan

Hassassin Ragik

Sekban, Naval Special Unit

Hassassin Ayyar

Asawira Kaplan Tactical Services

Druze Shock Teams

Al Fasid Regiment

Janissaries

Azrail

Nomads Hellcats

Intruders

Reverend Custodiers

Reverend Healers

Reverend Moiras

Kriza Boracs Grenzers

Prowlers

Sin-Eaters

Wildcats

Mobile Brigada

Taskmasters

Combined Army Umbra Legates

Umbra Samaritans

Rasyat

Yaogat

Sogarat

Speculo Killers

Noctifers

Skiavoros

Anathematics

Charontid

Avatar

Aswangs

Raktorak

Gwailos

Suryat

Malignos

ALEPH Ekdromoi

Posthumans

Asuras

Dasyus

Maruts Deva Functionaries

Myrmidon Officer

Myrmidons

Tohaa Gao-Rael None Kotail

Sakiel

Sukeul

Ectros

 

Troops who receive a second Stun Pistol
Faction Trooper Name
Panoceania Cypher, Switch, Warcor
Yu Jing Cypher, Switch, Warcor
Ariadna Cypher, Switch, Warcor
Haqqislam Cypher, Switch, Warcor, Sekban (Not HRL profile)
Nomads Cypher, Switch, Warcor
Combined Army None
Aleph Cypher, Switch, Warcor
Tohaa Cypher, Switch


THINGS FOR TOs TO WATCH OUT FOR

Normally I would limit this section to scoring glitches and rules oddities, but there are so many new and unusual rules interactions brought about by Hunting Party, I felt it was better to discuss them here in the TO section. Any one of these issues could stop a game, so they’re listed in no particular order.

Hunting down Lieutenants- Just like in Decapitation, a trooper counts for scoring if

  1. The Trooper was a LT at any point during the game
  2. The trooper is Isolated or Immobilized at the end of the game.

It’s not necessary for the Hunted Down trooper to be the LT at the end of the game. The method is to just check each Immobilized and Isolated trooper; if they were a Lieutenant (or a specialist) at any point during the game, they count as Hunted Down.

Flash pulses  cause ‘Stunned’ as a result of a hit and failed save. However, they do this with ‘Flash’ special ammunition, not ‘Stun’ special ammunition, so they do not benefit from the rule that allows Stun weapons to cause Imm-1.

Stun special ammunition requires 2 saves!

Veteran Troop classification is entirely separate from the Veteran skill. There is some overlap, but it’s not consistent. Refer to Army 6 or the Profiles PDF if there is a question. The tables above are accurate as of Strikezone: Wotan, Phase 1

The difference between Immobilization-1 and Immobilization-2 can be tricky. It’s very easy to conflate the duration, which is determined by the source of the state change, with the cancellations, which are native to each state.

Immobilized-1 (linked to Wiki)  IMM-1 caused by Multi weapons has no duration. It will last until the trooper in the state successfully Resets or it’s cleared for him by an engineer. There’s no change to the duration of IMM-1 caused by hacking attacks, where the duration varies by program.

Immobilized-2 IMM-2 cannot be cleared by Reset, and has no duration. It can only be cleared by a friendly Engineer.

Reset vs BS attack with Stun Ammunition – understanding this interaction keys on the fact that Reset does not go Face to Face with BS attacks, so both rolls are normal. If and immobilized trooper declares Reset vs an incoming Stun (IMM) attack, the trooper who is resetting will need to pass the Reset check AND pass the BTS rolls vs Stun (IMM) . If either fail, he’ll still be immobilized at the end of the order.

GETTING A MAJOR VICTORY

Hunting Party  has a nice spread of opposed points, which helps to keep the game uncertain. That’s nice in a mission that scores at the end of the game. It does however make getting  a Major Victory in Hunting Party a truly challenging achievement.

2 points are unopposed, 1 each from 2 classifieds. The remaining 8 points are opposed, with a slight caveat of a possible 3-3 tie if both players Hunt Down the same number of Lieutenants.

Like decapitation, you are likely to have only 3 opportunities to Hunt Down a LT. Unlike Decapitation, these points are not ‘locked’ because only the enemy trooper’s state at the end of the game counts for scoring.

Killing enemy Engineers should be your first priority. Only Shasvastii (Caliban) and Nomads (Tomcats & Carlotta the Tomcats Sgt Major) can hide an engineer at all. Enemies with Holoprojector Level 1 could ‘Spartacus’ their real engineers by placing fake ones on the table.

Killing engineers does not count towards the 2 OPs for killing more enemy specialists, but you risk them fixing each other unless you glue them all–leave even one free and he could free everyone. It will likely be worth it to leave the 2 points for specialists Hunted Down in contention if it allows you to take control of the 4 points for hunting down more LTs.

Only when your enemy’s engineers are depleted can you count on your points to be yours. Even then, only IMM-2 will ‘lock’ your points. After the engineers are killed, turn your sights to enemy Lieutenants. Killing them will not score points, and Loss of Lieutenant doesn’t exist for this mission, so there’s very little value to paying attention to an enemy LT until all his engineers are killed. Then Glue him.

HOW TO STOP A MAJOR VICTORY

It is possible to lock out a Major Victory by ignoring the ‘Hunt Down’ and instead holding both antennas and scoring both of your classifieds. It’s not strategically very sound for a couple of reasons.:

  • Bringing enough specialists to cover the classified missions makes you vulnerable to the Hunt Down objective for enemy specialists
  • The Antennas also can only be connected by specialists, potentially pulling your precious engineers away from ungluing your troops.

But playing to lose isn’t strategically sound anyway… so if blocking a Major is the only path left to you, do what you have to do.

Given the extreme value of Engineers, it’s a strong bet that your opponent will pick Classifieds like Sabotage, Retroengineering, and Test Run. Either way, kill his engineers.

KEY LIST ELEMENTS

Chain of Command, G:Mnemonica, and Executive Order

Much like Decapitation, Chain of Command & similar skills are diminished in value in Hunting Party.

  • If your LT is glued, you’ll bypass Chain of Command and end up picking a new LT
  • If your LT is actually killed, your opponent loses his chance to Immobilize your LT until you are forced to pick a new one in your next Tactical Phase. However, LT is Open information in this mission, so Chain of Command reopens this door. Chain of Command is obligatory so you can’t just choose not to activate it.
  • Ghost: Mnemonica is optional, so you can elect not to use it.
  • Be careful with Executive order. It can both help you and hurt you, depending on how you time the arrival of your XO.
  • Chain of Command troopers who assume the role of LT count twice if they are Hunted Down, once as a specialist and once as the Army’s LT.

Glue Gun Fun

Kaplans and Moblots are engineers who also qualify to receive a free glue gun, making them very effective troopers for this mission. Both can form fireteams in their sectorials. Kaplans even have an engineer who gets a second ADHL!

There are numerous Infiltrators and Impersonators that combine Surprise Shot with ADHL.  In some cases, like the Prowler, they receive a second ADHL and gain the +1 burst from Twin Weapons.

All Warcors receive a second stun pistol, allowing the use of the Twin Weapons automatic skill.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WIN THE LT ROLL

Despite it’s similarity to Decapitation, this is absolutely a ‘go second’ mission. The focus on Immobilizing instead of killing enemies makes controlling the final scoring turn a critical advantage that can easily turn a major victory into a minor or reverse a minor victory into a loss.

Further empowering the final turn is the fact that the Antennas only care who connected them last. Of course it’s not very likely that you’ll have enough orders in the last turn to Hunt Down enemies, complete classifieds, and connect antennas, but being able to cherry pick the ones that will get you the score you need to win is still very powerful.

As always, deploying first and going second will be a massive challenge, but it may be worth it to weather the first turn alpha in order to control the final round of the game.

 

 

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