Boilerplate: As always, the breakdowns and advice for this mission assume equivalent player skill and roughly even dice luck.
What the heck is Tempo?
In chess, time is measured in ‘moves’. So many moves until the loss of a queen, so many moves until check or checkmate. Making a move that accelerates that timeline for you is gaining Tempo. Making a move that decelerates the timeline for your opponent is making him lose Tempo.
Infinity is not chess, but it definitely has tempo. A better metaphor for Capture & Protect is reeling in a strong fish. Sometimes you have to let the fish run to tire him out, but if he runs too far, you’ll be the one that gets tired trying to get him into the boat. Should you spend orders killing your opponent’s datatracker or going after his orders? Or should you go for the beacon yourself, and trust to your defenses to slow your opponent? Your ability to read the Tempo of the game is how you answer this question.
The previous version of Capture and Protect was a favorite of many, but it had a fatal flaw: those pesky consoles. By requiring each player to push a button to ‘release’ the enemy beacon and make it capturable, the timeline for scoring was lengthened, effectively making each player lose tempo before the game even started.
“That stopped the first player from running away with the game!” you shout, defiantly.
“Did it though?” comes the response.
The mission scored (and still does score) at the end of the game, not round by round. Who gets the beacon first is irrelevant–only players with troopers holding a beacon at the end of the game will score. The true purpose of the consoles was to incentivize actually leaving your deployment zone on the first turn. After all, if I can’t score until the end of the game, I can just sit here with all my guns pointed at my beacon, right? Not if I have to go push that button, so I might as well get it out of the way…
In practice, the effect was not quite so motivating. Players would deploy a skirmishing specialist next to the console and push the button. Trivial, unless you encountered the dreaded failed-WIP-streak. Worse, sometimes players would spend the entire game fighting over the consoles, and never touch the beacons at all. Compounding everything is the fact that turtling up in Infinity has always been a self-limiting strategy … why? You guessed it, Tempo.
Turtling up (tucking all your troops out of sight, leaving only snipers out for ARO) ensures that your opponent can only lose tempo. You cannot gain it. On the other hand, a player who uses the mobility of the active turn can both gain tempo by moving his troops closer to their objective, and cost you tempo by killing your orders or your Datatracker.
(#wellactually There’s a caveat that when 2 novices play against each other and neither knows how to effectively dislodge snipers and TR bots, it can seem like turtling up is strong. But it’s really not, it’s always best to get something moving rather than lose the initiative in a vain pursuit of survival)
So why dedicate half the mission to consoles whose purpose is to discourage a strategy that discourages itself?
Enter the Datatracker. New with season 9, this rule allows you to pick a scoring trooper from a much broader range than ever before. What’s more, this choice is made after deployment, not during list building. That’s huge in the tempo department, because you can both gain Tempo and cause your opponent to lose Tempo by deploying a single trooper. I can’t speak for anyone else, but to me, that’s vastly more interesting that deciding if I’m going to push the button on the left or the button on the right.
HVT is not used, leave it in the bag. It’s helpful not to be too literal here. The mission says to remove the HVT-related cards. There’s no reason that ‘Remove’ can’t be done as the cards are drawn. It’s a waste of time to take them out before drawing.
Players who make balanced lists out of habit won’t have a problem with Datatracker. Players who (for reasons passing my understanding) like to make all-and-nothing lists of all camouflage, all remotes, or wack-a-doodle lists with 5 AD troopers might get into a pinch. Friendly players will observe closely and offer a reminder if they don’t see a legal Datatracker when their deployment is done. Non-friendly players will find a way to be a d%$k about it, like they do with everything.
Common rules of beacons are sometimes redundant, sometimes superfluous. You’ll want to take note that you Take or Steal a beacon by standing in base contact with the carrying Trooper, but you contest control by standing in base contact with the Beacon marker itself. In and around doors and corners, especially as the game winds towards the final scoring turn, this distinction can be made to matter.
THINGS FOR TOs TO WATCH OUT FOR
Capture and Protect can be a nice breather in your day of Special Operations Button-pushing.
The beacons are 25mm markers, not 40mm. Unlike Supplies, there’s no requirement for a 40mm piece of terrain. There’s nothing stopping you from setting up with a 40mm marker to indicate the beacon’s starting locations, but it’s not required.
Players must deploy a legal datatracker by the end of the last figure step of deployment. You’ll need to be ready to rule on this. The ITS document does not give explicit guidance on what to do if a player fails to deploy a legal Datatracker.
For this mission, since a killed Datatracker is not worth points to the opponent, the simplest solution is to require the player to complete the game without a Datatracker.
GETTING A MAJOR VICTORY (MID TIER)
It’s all in the title. If you want a major victory, you’ll need to capture the enemy beacon and protect your own. Everything else is somewhere between Cake Frosting and a Trap.
Holding the enemy beacon with your Datatracker or in your Deployment zone is probably not necessary, unless you’re trying to rack up Objective points to make sure you win a possible Tournament Points tie after the final round.
Do not waste orders on the Classified objective. Even in the disastrous event of a 3-3 tie your orders will be better spent trying to kill the enemy beacon carrier or going for Cake Frosting to break the tie.
HOW TO STOP A MAJOR VICTORY
Hold your own beacon. The beacon is worth 6 points to your opponent, and your opponent can get none of them if he cannot get to your beacon. It’s worth a further 3 points to you if you keep it. Stack everything you have on top of your own beacon… but don’t start with that link team. Set your fireteam somewhere else. You’re going to want to use it to attack the enemy beacon. It’s just too many eggs in one basket to allow your opponent to close on your beacon and annihilate your fireteam on the way in.
First Use Passive Defenses
Any kind of perimeter or deployable weapon. Anything you have defending your beacon is going to draw heavy fire. Make your opponent first deal with things that do not cost you your orders when it dies. Mines, Madtraps, even Auxbots and Devabots are all much much better as a first line of defense than your precious fireteam.
Second use Skirmishers/Forward deployment
Calling these second is sort of a misnomer, since your opponent will probably encounter them first. Ideal placement is probably facing away from the enemy DZ, back to a wall, eyes on the prize: your beacon.
Total Reaction/2ndry Fireteam/repeaters
Self explanatory. Honorable mention to the sectorials that can ‘spam’ AVA 3 reapeater bots. These, combined with an engineer to fix them when they break and an EVO repeater to give them B2 Flash pulses, and they actually mount a hefty defense. They’ll never kill anything, but if you’re playing the Tempo game, death is only one of many negative outcomes. If you have 2 fireteams, it’s not a terrible idea to use the back up to cover your beacon.
One TO trooper with a multi sniper rifle, CC, or even just a well-aimed rifle can halt an entire advance.
KEY LIST ELEMENTS
You can leave specialists at home entirely. You don’t’ really need them for this mission.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WIN THE LT ROLL
Second turn is best, but it’s probably not worth deploying first.