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The Varuna Immediate Reaction Division: A Tactica

Discussion in 'PanOceania' started by barakiel, Dec 27, 2018.

  1. barakiel

    barakiel Echo Bravo Master Sergeant
    Warcor

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    Author's Notes: I've played Infinity for a long time. I've played across three editions, and played PanOceania competitively across two of them. But throughout the history for this game, no release has excited me more than the Varuna Immediate Reaction Division. This Sectorial breaks the rules of PanOceania. Somehow, it manages to be completely unlike everything that has come before, while at the same time feeling more true to PanO than any other Sectorial available. Specific thanks to the members of the PanOceania forum, California Infinity, and Australia Infinity for the many discussions we've had about VIRD in recent months (many of you know who you are.) I hope that this article will help new players and veterans alike orient themselves to this great release, and help them find fun and success on the tabletop.

    -Michael/Barakiel



    Varuna Immediate Reaction Division

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    VIRD, also known as the Snake Eaters, are PanOceania's Special Forces elite. Like any PanOceania Sectorial, their ability to project ranged firepower is supreme. Their main asset, however, is that they're deeply innovative; they possess a range of equipment, weaponry and special rules that cannot be found elsewhere in PanOceania. This innovative flexibility allows Varuna to adapt to any ITS scenario, any opponent. When building a VIRD list, Varuna's specialty is in their elite operators, the true Snake Eaters: 1-Wound infantry in the 25-36 cost, all of which can be plugged into your roster to bring a different array of support and combat capabilities. While a skilled VIRD player will certainly use both cheaper and pricier troops to build out their lists, it's these mid-cost elite combatants that will form the combat backbone of any Snake Eater list. Use the powerful stats and equipment of these troops to execute your gameplan and win your scenarios, supported by inexpensive line troops, REMs and helots, or spearheaded by a powerful TAG. In a game that's centered around Special Forces operations, Varuna fully distinguishes itself as the Special Forces Sectorial. Welcome to the jungle.


    Fusiliers

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    Fusiliers are a familiar troop type for most PanOceania players, and are the functional backbone of a Varuna list. At 10 points per Order, with a 0 SWC Lieutenant, they’re going to be fill out your Order pools, provide link bonuses, and provide crucial support.

    In many ways, the best part of Fusiliers is not the Fusiliers themselves, but rather their linkability with both Kamau and ORC troopers. More on that to come, but Fusiliers in some form are going to be a universal sight in Varuna lists. Assuming that your Kamau and ORCs are carrying heavy weapons, the most common role for a Fusilier is to field the standard Combi loadout and let them contribute those link bonuses to support your more elite troops, and helping them clear short range threats via BS12-BS15 Combi shots. Makes no mistake, Fusiliers can get work done as necessary. Their firepower is more than respectable, and they’re the cheapest standard hacking device available if you want supportware.

    If the points are available, upgrade to Forward Observers to not only gives you a Specialist to help with button pushing, but a highly valuable Flash Pulse ARO that can stop even a TAG in its tracks. 3-4 Fusiliers supporting an ORC Fuerbach and/or Kamau Sniper is a very formidable defensive bulwark. The Forward Observer profile also comes with Deployable Repeaters; while this piece of equipment isn’t incredibly useful on a standard line infantry trooper, sometimes it can be critically helpful to lay down that Repeater and gives your Hackers room to operate. Expecting an enemy REM, TAG or HI to storm into your Deployment Zone? Or perhaps you’ve moved your link team up the field to defend a critical center objective? Use that Repeater to help project an additional threat in a very order-efficient fashion.


    Fusiliers also come with a Paramedic option. While I generally prefer the Forward Observer due to the triple utility of Flash Pulse, Forward Observing targets and Deployable Repeater, the Paramedic always represents a potentially useful (albeit desperate, low-probability) chance to pick up an Unconscious trooper. This chance gets a lot better if you plan to field an ORC in your mixed links; PH14 means ORCs stand a much better chance of coming back to life with a Paramedic’s help.

    If you add in a Fusilier Hacker, you gain cheap access to Supportware, as well as the most inexpensive way to Authorize REMs and bring them in your army list. If you decide to go Hacking heavy as well, the Fusilier Hacker in a link team is the easiest way to get a Sixth Sense Level 2-capable Hacker. The advantage here is simple: Sixth Sense Level 2 simply allows you to ignore the Stealth rule, which means that Stealthy hackable targets such as Camo or Martial Arts equipped Heavy Infantry cannot simply walk past your Repeater network. Use the Fusilier Hacker to “break the ice”, working past an opponent’s Stealth and letting your more formidable Hackers follow up as necessary.

    In addition to these obvious support applications, Fusiliers can still contribute useful firepower. Fusilier heavy weapons are all significantly cheaper than their elite mixed-link counterparts. For example, you could certainly reach for a Kamau Heavy Rocket Launcher and gain a very flexible, versatile gunfighting threat. But for 8 points less though, the Fusilier missile launcher provides a tried-and-true EXP ARO that’s quite a bit more disposable than a Kamau, and costs a mere 5 points more than a standard Fusilier. The missile is really worth remembering: while it lacks the raw Ballistic Skill, Burst and staying power of an ORC Fuerbach, it’s just as potent in ARO for roughly ⅓ of the point cost. If you find yourself with SWC to spare, the Fusilier missile is always a safe bet.

    The Fusilier Heavy Machine Gun is also tried-and-true, certainly able to lay down high-Burst firepower for 10 points less than its Kamau counterpart. If you need a backup gunfighter, this is also a great bargain choice.

    The Fusilier MULTI Sniper Rifle represents the hybrid choice of defense and attack. Double Action provides great stopping power if you manage to squeeze through a hit, and Burst 3 when linked is solid enough to win plenty of firefights. Some players love the flexibility of hybrid choices, and some players dislike them extremely. The MULTI Sniper is a decent and stable choice, though the Kamau MULTI Sniper brings so many advantages, it would always be my first choice when adding one to my list.

    The last SWC choice is the light grenade launcher. Depending on your frequent matchups, or if you choose to use your mixed link aggressively, this can be a highly valuable unit. It’s perfect for knocking down light opposition that tries to stage near your Deployment Zone, making it great in missions that focus on defending your half of the table, such as Frostbyte, Supremacy or Frontline. If you face an opponent that makes frequent use of Inferior or Superior Infiltration, it can be a helpful tool for dislodging them from rooftops and other hard-to-reach hiding places. If you’re fighting over an objective room or midfield objective where a lot of enemy units will congregate in a packed area, lobbing in some grenades is a typically a strong, safe way to break up their defensive formations, shift enemies out of Suppressive Fire, annihilate some link bonuses, and maybe catch some perimeter weapons or mines in the blast as well. The Fusilier LGL is rarely expected (they were an uncommon sight in NeoTerra, where that hard limit of AVA5 Fusiliers meant that players tended to purchase other loadouts instead.)

    The last Fusilier profile, and perhaps the most valuable, is the simple Lieutenant profile. While WIP12 isn’t particularly impressive, it’s certainly easy to hide your LT in a field of identically-equipped Fusiliers, making it difficult for an enemy to hunt your LT with any kind of reliability. The overwhelming majority of my own VIRD lists feature a simple Fusilier LT.


    Kamau

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    Without a doubt, Kamau are the iconic unit of Varuna. Among the most elite Light Infantry in the game, Kamau are distinguished by the incredible combination of BS13 and Mimetism. The result is that Kamau are a top-tier gunfighter, whether they’re operating alone or in tandem with a link team.

    The other thing to note is that Kamau retain the excellent 4-4 MOV bonus of light infantry. Most units with their range of skills and gear end up being classified as Medium Infantry, usually receiving the slower 4-2 MOV value that goes along with that. But Kamau are relatively quick, making them very good at punishing targets at long range, before accelerating forward to take objectives or attack aggressively in the midfield.

    Kamau also come with a multitude of support rules and stats. First, Stealth is both a thematic and effective addition for them. Stealth can allow you to maneuver close to the enemy, denying them any Change Facing AROs, and potentially allowing Kamau sneaky shots to the back arc. Against specialized opponents like Jammers, or if you have a Kamau Hacker in train, being able to stealth past any Jammer or Hacking AROs can be huge. Additionally, there’s a debated rules interaction involving mixed link teams of stealth and non-stealth units. Some groups believe that if a link team contains members with both Stealth and non-Stealth, and they maneuver near a unit like an enemy Hacker or Jammer, the non-Stealth units will trigger an ARO, and the Stealth units become a legal target. If your meta plays this way, having a Core or Haris team of mixed ORCs + Kamau, all with Stealth, will help you avoid this debate and maneuver your link team safely past these kinds of threats.

    Kamau also come with Shock Immunity. It’s not thematically clear if this represents elite durability or some kind of enhanced protection, but in any case, this is a phenomenal rule for a unit that spends a lot of time exchanging fire with the enemy. Knowing that your Kamau Sniper or HMG won’t die outright to a Supportware-boosted HMG, or a lucky Sniper Crit, is hugely valuable. Including a Doctor to support your Kamau heavy weapons

    The last notable support stat is BTS6. While this rule doesn’t come into play terribly often, it certainly is very nice to remember on those occasions where it does matter. Getting Jammed? You have great protection. Getting shot with Breaker? Not too shabby to have effective ARM3. Playing a home-baked narrative scenario where a flesh eating virus is eating all your troops? Sweet, your Kamau are very well protected there.

    When you combine the Kamau’s superior stat line with its support skills, and then add in the flexibility WIldcard (being able to join any link in VIRD,) the Kamau’s a universal sight in any VIRD list. When linked with inexpensive Fusiliers, you gain a top-tier gunfighter that few opponents can withstand. Even as a solo choice, operating apart from a link, a Kamau heavy weapon is a flexible, mobile gunfighter perfectly capable of working a flank on its own. The major distinguishing feature, of course, is that elite BS13 combined with Mimetism. This highly elite starting Ballistic Skill, as well as the inherent advantage of reducing your opponent’s Ballistic Skill via Mimetism, is a dominant pairing.

    The Heavy Machine Gun is incredible. As a solo piece, you basically buy a cheaper Nisse who trades MSV2 for a faster 4-4 MOV value. When linked with Fusiliers, you get a high-Burst gunfighter who will outperform most 5-man Heavy Infantry teams. This is truly an elite piece.

    Because of the inexpensive 1 SWC discount, this is also a very efficient choice from a list-building perspective. A list that relies on Kamau HMGs is going to find itself with plenty of spare SWC to spend on support choices, letting you easily include those .5 SWC choices like standard Hacking Devices, Helot, or Echo Bravo Special Weapons very comfortably.

    A pair of Kamau can work with one another very effectively. Deploy one with your Fusilier link, which will have dominant link bonuses but will be easy for an opponent to spot, and then keep a second Kamau HMG in reserve. Deploy the second Kamau solo, in a different segment of the board. If your opponent squares off against your Core link, deploying in reaction to it, you will often find that your solo Kamau will have better angles and lanes to maneuver through.

    In addition to the HMG, the Kamau MULTI Sniper Rifle is going to be a universal sight in VIRD lists. For one, it’s the only source of Multispectral Visor in the entire Sectorial. Paired with link bonuses and hard-hitting Double Action rounds, this will be the profile of choice for engaging smoke-tossing warbands and hard-to-hit threats like the Myrmidons and ThermOptic Camo threats. It also has the hitting power to take on elite TO Heavy Infantry or light TAGs.

    In the active turn, the uses for this profile are fairly self-explanatory: Burst 3 is perfectly adequate for gunfighting, and you should use range modifiers wherever possible to leverage an advantage over short-ranged opposition. Obviously, use good judgement when choosing whether to apply the MULTI Sniper or the HMG against a given target; the margins are actually very close against Mimetism/Camo targets, but quite distinctly different from one another.

    The real appeal of the MULTI Sniper, of course, is as an ARO tool. Sit back at maximum range, and you can stand a good chance against even elite HMGs as long as you outrange them. Note, of course, that specialized ARO tools get more valuable the longer you can avoid throwing them away. A Kamau Sniper in Turn 3 is going to be very deadly compared to a Kamau Sniper in Turn 1, because your opponent will have fewer Orders, fewer active turn pieces, and greater pressure on his Order pool to finish the mission and perform other tasks.

    The final heavy weapon choice for Kamau is the Heavy Rocket Launcher + Submachine Gun combination, and this is a notable choice for several reasons. First, it’s both a blast template and a source of Fire Ammunition, both of which are dominant rules to have in your weapon arsenal. Rocket Launchers are great active and reactive turn weapons, and while they lack the long-range safety net of the MULTI Sniper, they’re still very hard-hitting. The low cost of this profile is also very appealing… At 9 points cheaper than the MULTI Sniper, it’s a bargain choice that still brings dominant performance.

    The presence of the SMG is an amazing bonus. Not only do you get a dominant mid-and-long range weapon in the form of the Rocket Launcher, but the SMG brings specialty ammy types and can tear holes in any close-range opponent. This combination of long and short-range dominance makes this Kamau a very good choice for a last-turn “sweeper” role, carrying your Core link up the table to claim a crucial objective or eradicate a key enemy piece. The ability to choose between lethal Suppressive Fire and a long-range blast template also makes it excellent in defense.

    The three aforementioned profiles received special attention in this tactica, because they’re ideal choices for any mixed link team. Whereas any Fusilier Specialist can push a button adequately, or a Fusilier Hacker can dispense Supportware as needed, a Fusilier team cannot duplicate the effects of a Kamau heavy weapon. Kamau are trigger pullers, and while they are capable of performing other roles, they are very, very optimized for combat roles.

    That being said, the other Kamau profiles are all solid and helpful.

    The Combi Rifle is a solid, elite platform. At twice the cost of a standard Fusilier, it certainly should a better unit! You’re not likely to use a plain Combi profile much, unless you’re using a pure Core Kamau link. Since the Combi Rifle is the default weapon for the Haris and Specialist profiles though, it’s certainly possible you'll end up using a Kamau Combi on one form or another. In such a case, the Kamau is certainly quite dangerous. Even out to 32 inches, a full linked Kamau Combi Rifle is quite a dangerous threat in the active turn. Combi Rifles are lethal weapons, especially in the hands of a useful Specialist:

    The Forward Observer is a very strong platform for Flash Pulse, benefitting from solid WIP13, Mimetism, and rangebands that are considerably more flexible than a Combi shot. The Paramedic is also a fine choice, though Paramedics tend to be unreliable due to PanO’s generally low PH stat. If your Kamau are working closely with ORCs, the Paramedic can be a nice choice when applied to that strong ORC PH14, but you’re still gambling compared to using a standard Trauma Doc and her useful re-rolls on failed attempts.

    The Kamau Hacker deserves special mention. This is an iconic profile from a previous edition of Infinity, and will have earned a special place in the hearts of many veterans. At BTS6, she has some durability, though whether you feel like trying that luck against Damage 16 Killer Hacker programs is up to you. If you do, the combination of high BTS and Shock Immunity gives her a better survival chance against them than your typical computer nerd with a Standard Hacking Device. She doesn’t bring any particular benefit over the much cheaper Fusilier standard Hacker, though she retains her elite trigger-pulling profile. She’s a decent choice for a full Kamau Core or Haris link.

    Note too that if theme is important to you, the Kamau Lieutenant option is available for the taking. I don't consider it optimized for any particular role, but that doesn't stop it from being a superior combatant.

    With all of this in mind, Kamau are a good choice for a Haris Team. By purchasing the Haris option, you can field 2-3 Kamau and a VIRD Division Machinist as a mobile, elite, aggressive 3-man Haris team. While VIRD has a very strong Core link, you won't always want to maneuver those 5 bodies into the midfield, where they'll be vulnerable and exposed to danger. The Kamau Haris can help with this.

    Kamau Haris versus Patsy Haris:
    Note that while you can buy the Kamau Haris leader, Patsy can also form a Haris that includes Kamau, and she doesn't cost any SWC either. Use the Kamau team if you're worried about enemy Hacking, or desperately need to save points. That being said, Patsy is a phenomenal crux for a Haris team, but she's still comes with significant drawbacks (limited weapon range and Hackability being the two obvious ones.) Letting Kamau form their own Fireteam is a valuable option if you're worried about either of those components, or if you also want to include the VIRD Division Machinist. The FAQ tells us that the Machinist can only link with Kamau Core, or if a Kamau Haris leader forms the team, so the Kamau Haris gains the versatility of having the Machinist present too.


    Zulu Cobra


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    Wow, what a unit. PanOceania waited a long time to get a Camouflage unit to call their own, but once they received it, it did not disappoint at all. The first distinguishing feature of the Cobra is, in fact, their Camo. It provides all the advantages of marker state, stealth, Surprise Shot, without the steep price tag of the ThermOptic Camo that PanOceania units ordinarily rely on. The Forward Deployment Level 1 does not provide the freedom of full Infiltration, but still provides a nice up-table advantage, and also means the Cobra doesn’t overpay when playing missions that do not allow Infiltration or have Exclusion Zones.

    The Cobra has a few unorthodoxies compared to its Camo counterparts in other Factions. For one, it’s significantly more skilled in a firefight. Most Camo skirmishers are BS11, with BS12 being regarded as fairly elite. BS13 is nearly unheard of, being reserved for ultra-rare centerpiece units like the Yu Jing’s Dao Fei.

    This means that the Cobra is, first and foremost, a shooting-based combat unit. It will not be leveraging mines or other template weapons for its combat effect. Instead, in true PanOceania fashion, it’s using massive modifiers and amazingly Ballistic Skill to punish targets. The Cobra does come with a number of useful support and utility roles, but each profile is very much intended to be a Trigger Puller before anything else.

    The first and perhaps most anticipated profile is the Sensor + Jammer, Combi Rifle, Assault Pistol loadout. This profile is undisputed star of midfield hunting, support-oriented combat. First, if you fight Camo in any meaningful quantity, this unit will be your saviour. Not only can you Sensor Sweep, or benefit from +6 to Discover, but you can also Intuitive Attack enemy Camo with Jammer for the double-threat of revealing and Isolating them all in one. Coordinate with Fugazi to lay Sniffers, revealing critical portions of the table and denying enemy the ability to Recamo there. Feeling pressure in your backline, or on a critical objective? Get that Cobra onto a rooftop or some other secure location, and Jam everything that comes close. Remember that Jammer is not a very effective active turn weapon… Spending Orders to Jam is almost always a low-probability outcome, so do your best to use Jammer as a defensive area-denial tool. When I go first in a game, I almost always use this turn to advance my Jammers into defensible positions (rooftops, dense terrain, etc.) where it's difficult for the enemy to reach them, and they can force as many Jammer attempts as possible. Position the Cobra in a place where enemies will have to spend multiple turns trying to bypass you, and remember that Stealth units or models in a Marker state cannot be targeted by Jamming.

    Remember as well that the threat of Jammer can be just as potent as actually having one on the table. If your opponent thinks a Camo token is hiding a Jammer, they may not want to risk getting close enough to Discover and find out. If you can train your opponents into thinking every list might have a Jammer hiding in wait, you can project a very strong psychological threat over anyone you play, helping to keep your backfield safe.

    A note too: This profile is, without exception, the greatest platform for Triangulated Fire in the game. Most units struggle to use Triangulated Fire in a face-to-face roll, because Triangulated Fire is a long skill. If you move into position to set up the Triangulated Fire, you’re offering your opponent a shot that may be wildly in their favor.

    However, with the Camo state, you are guaranteed to be able to move safely into LoF of any enemy that you wish to target. They cannot shoot you, only attempt to Discover, which means you can safely initiate a Triangulated Fire Order from the position of your choosing. In addition, most Triangulated Fire units are only BS11 or BS12… Perfectly fine, but this means their BS -3 shots when using Triangulated Fire usually aren’t that accurate. The BS13 of the Cobra is phenomenal here.

    Use this tool to wildly outrange targets with ludicrous cross-table shots. Use this to fire into Close Combat, safely scraping opponents off your troops with no risk of Friendly Fire. Pair this with Nimbus Plus to keep your Ballistic Skill stable, while forcing the opponent into terrible odds. Because you can still use all the Cobra’s considerable modifiers (Camo, Cover, Surprise Shot) even long-range ARO Specialists will probably struggle to hit you with any return fire. Using Tech and Skill to engage a TO Camo Sniper with your basic Combi Rifle is so distinctly PanO, and also hilarious. Note too that this profile comes with an Assault Pistol. In most circumstances, this will be redundant with the Combi. However, if you’re engaging within 8 inches, or you’re able to Triangulated Fire at anything within the Assault Pistol’s maximum range of 24 inches, you can leverage that nice Burst bonus. So while the Combi does provide a decent staple weapon, look for opportunities to rock and roll with that Burst 4 against light opposition, either up close with conventional shots, or pulling cheeky tricks for Burst 4 Triangulated Fire. When you combined the Burst 4 of the Assault Pistol with advantage of Surprise Shot, you help offset the Ballistic Skill penalty of Triangulated Fire and allow for a very high-probability exchange with most opponents.

    Remember too that Sensor can also be used in Discover + Shoot maneuvers. Line up your Cobra on a Camo enemy, then spend a fresh Order to Discover + Shoot. Even at medium and long ranges, your opponent will be wary about the fact that Cobra is Discovering on WIP19 thanks to Sensor. If the opponent doesn’t reveal to contest you, a successful Discover lets you hammer home an unopposed shot, or immediately follow up with Triangulated Fire. This loadout is truly the bane of Camo opponents.

    Note too that VIRD can use the Sensor + Jammer profile as a Lieutenant without having to pay an added cost. This is a tremendous asset. If you’re playing any mission that emphasizes keeping your Lieutenant alive, or you’re playing a mission format where you may not be able to hide your Lieutenant’s identify (such as Limited Insertion) then having access to a Camouflage LT is very powerful. Not only can you hide safely from determined LT hunters, even using the Forward Deployment L1 to reach rooftop or other safe points outside of your DZ, but you can also Jam or Discover any threats that get too close and try to make a dedicated assault. This is truly one of the most defensible LTs in the game. In addition, for general combat practices, it gives us something to do with that extra LT Order. As a PanO player, in 95% of my games, I never use the LT Order at any point. This may be because my LT is linked and I don’t want to reveal her, or possibly because I don’t want to give away her identity too early in the game. With the Cobra though, you can use that LT Order for a variety of purposes: using Sensor through Sniffers, making Jamming attempts at nearby enemies, entering Suppressive Fire in a critical defense, recamoing for protection… On such a capable platform, the LT Order becomes useful again.

    Note of course that you should still be cautious when using your Lieutenant. Any time you spend the Lieutenant Order, you’re making a bold announcement to your enemy. In many circumstances, Patsy Garnett and her NCO ability will be a safer outlet for using that Lieutenant Order.

    Note that the Sensor + Jammer profile is just scratching the surface of all the potent uses of the Zulu Cobra though. Let’s look at both the Killer Hacker and Forward Observer loadouts. Both are quite similar. Any dedicated ITS player knows that both the KHD and FO roles are staple Specialist choices, and the Cobra is no exception here. Both of these units are excellent choices for button-pushing missions, being cheaper than the Croc Man while also padding out the table with Camo tokens, to help give the illusion of there being many possible Jammer Defenders hiding under each Token.


    The Killer Hacker gives us that valuable anti-infowar piece, which is very important if you plan to run many ORCs, REMs, or TAGs. With a marker state, Surprise Shot and respectable WIP13, it’s quite a decent choice. In addition, it’s a fairly cheap and efficient way to authorize REMs for your list, costing no SWC while still providing a very useful combat-capable Specialist.

    The Forward Observer is solid and straightforward, easily able to act as a mobile Specialist, and also providing that helpful Flash Pulse or the ability to mark targets. If you do plan to do a lot of marking, perhaps to support a Squalo Heavy Grenade Launcher or Clipper, consider using the Croc Man Forward Observer instead; the full Infiltration and added -3 from full ThermOptic Camouflage are very useful in that role.

    For general combat and button pushing though, the Forward Observer can do the job well. Both the KHD and FO come with an added benefit in the form of the Breaker Combi Rifle. This really helps to distinguish their roles; not only can they fulfill their roles as Specialists and Classified Objective fillers, but they can also crack extreme hardened targets, or prey very easily on units with no BTS value. This is a really helpful secondary skirmisher to keep up your sleeve in case of emergency, because it really has the potential to threaten anything if it can get close enough to it. Even TAGs will be wary of a BS13 Camo unit with breaker, and this unit will tear through Medium Infantry and other up-Armored, low-BTS opponents. These will be a common sight in many VIRD lists.

    Both the Spitfire and Shock Marksman Rifle + X-Visor loadouts deserve special mention, because they are geared entirely for attack and gunfighting. While the previous 3 Cobra loadouts combine attack and utility, both the Spitfire and SMMR are all about leveraging that Camo and high BS to punish enemy targets. Note that both loadouts are actually fairly similar: they’re acceptable from 0-8, and dominant from 8-24. The Spitfire is a tried-and-true weapon, and very dangerous in the hands of a BS13 Camo user. The major downside here, of course, is the steep SWC cost associated with the weapon: 1.5 SWC is pretty significant.

    The Shock Marksman Rifle lacks the Burst and hitting power of the Spitfire, but is quite a bit cheaper in points, costs no SWC, and is also incredibly lethal all the way out to 40 inches. Because the Marksman Rifle’s rangebands have very far-reaching -3 band, it pairs perfectly with the X-Visor. Suddenly your Shock Marksman Rifle suffers no negative modifiers from 24-40 inches, letting you outrange a whole host of weapons, and turning the Cobra into a precision rifle user who can hit a target in cover 40 inches away on 10s.

    As you can see, the Cobra is a true game-changer for PanOceania, and having access to AVA3 Cobras is truly a fantastic reason to play VIRD. Each profile offers a very point-efficient and lethal package. While we may miss having some solid staples like antipersonnel mines, PanO has always been about putting rounds on target, and the Zulu Cobra is now one of the game’s foremost practitioners of that philosophy.


    Echo Bravo

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    The Echo Bravo is one of the most innovative unit designs that PanOceania has ever seen: an Airborne Infiltrating unit with multiple well-designed loadouts, optimized for the role of walking onto a table edge and applying its specialty tools to an opponent’s weak points. Each profile is very different, changing the role of the Echo Bravo significantly depending on what you choose. The EB possess elite Ballistic Skill, but lacks any additional Visual Modifiers such as Mimetism, so you care has to be used that you don’t commit the Echo Bravo against tough defensive targets like elite link teams, hard Suppressive Fire targets, Total Reaction opponents, etc.

    As a result, the EB is always going to be happiest when it can sneak on behind an opponent for rear-arc shots, or leverage its template weapons against weak primary targets (such as Unconscious opponents, revealed Mines, unarmed REMs, etc.) to potentially splash and hurt more dangerous opponents. Therefore, the EB will be at its best when a player keeps their eye open for easy opportunities. Smashing your EB against a tough defense runs the risk of throwing it away carelessly; holding an EB until your opponent is most vulnerable can win you a game.

    The Paramedic, combi rifle + light shotgun, Wild Parrot profile is perhaps the most well-rounded of the various loadouts. As a Paramedic, you get an inexpensive Specialist loadout that can also make desperate attempts to revive Unconscious midfield units. Most importantly though, this unit is loaded for Bear against broad spectrum of targets. Having both a Combi Rifle and light shotgun is fantastic in the context of an Airborne Infiltration unit; use the Combi for longer-range engagements, able to hit flanked enemies out to 32 inches on 10s, or end your turn in Suppressive Fire for modest defense. The shotgun’s application should be self-evident; flank those backline cheerleaders and blow them away.

    The real innovation in this profile though comes from the Wild Parrot. This is a unique piece of kit, available (at the time of writing) only to the Echo Bravo. This ordinance functions like an E/Mauler: once deployed, it detonates at enemy units that perform an action or ARO in its trigger area, hitting them with the small E/M teardrop template.

    However, it’s the mechanism for deploying the Wild Parrot that makes it unique. It deploys in the same manner as a Fast Panda: the owner declares a Short Skill or ARO to use it, and then the device makes an 8-inch MOV from the owner and deploys in the final location of your choosing. Note that, unlike a Crazy Koala, the MOV of the Parrot provokes no AROs from the enemy. This allows the EB to hide behind a corner, and maneuver the Parrot to where it will inflict the most damage, either covering multiple enemies with its template, or using the 8 inch movement plus 8.5 inch template to hit a target at a distance.

    When you follow up the Parrot with an attack, you force the enemy to make a difficult decision: react with a Shoot, but eat the Parrot hit? Or Dodge the Parrot hit, but risk suffering the EB’s shooting attacks?

    The biggest disadvantage of the Parrots is that they’re only Disposable (1). However, I’ve gotten around this point by carefully maneuvering Baggage Bots in order to Reload an Echo Bravo. In Objective Room scenarios, I’ve even walked the EB on inside my own Deployment Zone, with a Baggage Bot already deployed and waiting, and then sent volleys of 2-3 Parrots up into the Objective Room, reloading the EB with a Parrot after each use, to really help ensure E/M hits against Heavy Infantry link teams or other threats that are difficult to dislodge in any conventional fashion.

    In addition to the Paramedic, we also have the boarding shotgun + light rocket launcher profile. First and foremost, this is the first light rocket launcher ever fielding on a unit that walks in from a table edge, already making it a unique and unexpected option. As if that wasn’t enough, the boarding shotgun provides a lethal cheerleader-killing or Armor-cracking secondary weapon, making this profile quite lethal at a variety of ranges. In terms of simple firepower and template mayhem, this profile is ideal. If your opponent has a lot of clustered units or weak backline troops, this profile can be a game-ender.

    Be cautious though, because Burst 2 on all weapons means this profile will struggle to reliably win face-to-face rolls against dedicated ARO opponents. As with all things in the world of the Echo Bravo, look to score rear-arc shots, or trying to splash templates onto weak, unopposed targets in order to catch more dangerous enemy units in the ensuing blast.

    Perhaps the most direct and outright dangerous profile for the Echo Bravo is the red fury. It’s impressively inexpensive for a Burst 4 squad automatic weapon, especially one with particularly excellent long range bands that can allow for some great cross-table shots if you can flank an enemy and negate their cover.

    The role for this weapon is simple: walk the Echo Bravo on, and then leverage that high Burst and good rangeband to devastating effect. With inbuilt Shock Ammunition, you don’t have to worry about tidying up your mess either… Most targets will simply be knocked out of play, avoiding the need to double-tap Unconscious miniatures so that they’re not Doctored back into play. The 4-4 MOV of the EB makes this unit very good at running-and-gunning as well, engaging multiple targets in sequence or even splitting Burst between multiple targets, allowing for maximum destruction in the course of a round.

    The last profile is possibly the most specialized. The Assault Hacker brings some infowar to VIRD lists. The advantage of an Assault Hacker that walks onto the table is twofold: you can get it close to the enemy quickly to lock down a critical area of the table, and you remain safe and untargetable by enemy Killer Hackers until you enter play.

    The potential for this loadout is certainly there… An unexpected Assault Hacker vs a high-tech enemy can be very potent. Ordinarily, I don’t think the low WIP of a unit is necessarily a debilitating feature… Low WIP simply isn’t that big a deal, as long as you can afford to throw an extra or two at trying to pass a roll. With Hackers though, that often isn’t the case: they may only get one or two attempts to try and bestow a crucial effect on an enemy, and every point of WIP really helps in these scenarios. A mere 60% chance of passing the WIP roll to disable key Comms equipment, or Isolating an important target, isn’t particurlarly high (and that doesn’t include the chance that the target will pass their BTS save either.) To sweeten the deal though, this loadout still remains fairly cheap compared to most AD Hackers, and also comes with a nice one-use DEP for some explosive mayhem.

    If you’re playing a heavy infowar game, the Echo Bravo represents a decent additional tool that can be held off-table until it’s needed. For most players though, the excellent competing roles offered by the other Echo Bravo profiles are probably going to serve you better.


    Helot Militia


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    It’s a brave new world, with PanOceania finally including their iconic alien race in a playable force at last. Helot Militia are a very specialized unit, blending a combination of skills and abilities that were classically “not PanO” until CB (in truly excellent fashion) decided to offer them to us.

    Helots are primarily distinguished by two rules: Neurocinetics, and then the choice of either Decoy or Limited Camouflage.

    Neurocinetics basically takes the active and ARO rules, and inverts them: instead of firing full Burst in the Active Turn, you fire at Burst 1. But in ARO, you can fire your full Burst. This application is obvious: the Helot is a defensive specialist, designed to contest the enemy in ARO, threatening their movement and helping to lock down lanes.

    Neurocinetics combines with either Decoy or Limited Camouflage to further enhance this defensive role. Decoy, in layman’s terms, functions like a cheaper, simpler Holoprojector L2. When you deploy the Helot with Decoy, you deploy 2 Decoy tokens and 1 “real” Helot. Note down in secret which of these 3 tokens is the true miniature, and the other two have no effect other than to convince your opponent to waste orders shooting them, or bypassing them while sweating nervously that they may reveal and shoot them with a rocket launcher.

    What I like about the Decoy profile is the huge amount of table coverage they provide, which your opponent can’t afford to ignore. Two Helots, costing minimum 18 points, can deploy 6 “clones” all packing hard-hitting weapons that resolve their full Burst. That’s excellent. In one scenario, your opponent is afraid of all of them, and spends Orders laying Smoke, blasting each Decoy down, or otherwise wasting Orders to avoid having the Helots lay some pain. In the other scenario, your opponent ignores them, and you potentially reveal when an opponent’s at their most vulnerable (for example, and entire enemy link team maneuvering around in the open) and blast them all to hell with the Helot’s weaponry.

    The Limited Camo option allows for a different type of mind game. While you cannot benefit from Surprise Shot when firing in ARO, you can keep your opponent guessing about what the Camo Token might be concealing. With Decoy, the weaponry and loadout of the Helot in question is public information: if you’re packing a MULTI Sniper, the opponent will know it as soon as you deploy.

    While Limited Camo doesn’t have the multi-token coverage of Decoy, it does create a blank threat that your opponent has to evaluate. If you’re interested in holding back some of your Cobras or Crocmen mines, deploying them in your standard Deployment Zone, you can push this illusion even further by making your opponent wonder how many Helots you have. Is that Camo Token a Jammer? A Killer Hacker? Or a Burst 4 Red Fury? Limited Camo is a very good tool for masking the identity of your threats. A Zulu Cobra will be a lot more effective if the opponent can’t spot it at deployment, and Helots can help with that.

    Limited Camo also has the advantage of providing 360 degree Line of Fire, making for a very effective all-round defensive turret. Decoys still have facings that they need to adhere to. Similarly, Limited Camo doesn’t break or go away when you spend orders on the Helot. Decoy is very much a one-trick advantage… As soon as you spend the Helot’s Irregular Order, the Decoys vanish. Limited Camo is a lasting benefit, so reach for Limited Camo if you want to move your Helots forward into more aggressive positions.

    Fitting Helots into the rest of your force:
    The Irregular status of Helots is key; they aren't contributing Orders to your force unless you spend Command Tokens on them. As such, they don't really hurt your Order pools if they die. With that in mind, you should absolutely look to kill your Helots off in the most advantageous way imaginable. They're meant to be risked, meant to be expose to harm, and fully intended to get in the opponent's way and sabotage their game plan. Helots are designed as a disposable ARO resource.

    Using Helots to support a Jammer Zulu Cobra is a natural defensive pairing. If the Cobra is dug into terrain, either up on a rooftop or around a corner, cover that trooper with a Helot. If the enemy attempts to gunfight the Helot down, you get unopposed Jamming attempts. If the opponent Resets vs the Jam, you get unopposed Helot shots.

    While Neurocinetics is good, but Helots themselves are not great gunfighters. BS11 with no modifiers is not exactly top tier. So a Helot either needs to project a greater threat than it actually is, or it needs to count on an opponent underestimating them and committing to a bad maneuver (such as accidentally ending their second short skill in LoF of a Decoy, or wandering a link team past a Helot without targeting it.) I think Decoy is much more likely to yield favorable results here.

    As far as the profiles themselves, their main expense is in SWC. As an Irregular unit, each Helot is quite inexpensive in terms of points, primarily paying a tax in SWC in order to put them on the table. In this instance, the fact that units like Kamau and Cobra are so cheap in SWC really benefits us when purchasing Helots to support our force. Only paying 1 SWC for a Kamau HMG pays dividends when we’re adding 2 or 3 Helots to our army.

    But which Helots to use? The MULTI Sniper Rifle costs a bundle of SWC, but hits very hard with Double Action ammo. It also has the advantage of having the longest range. Since Helots are using PanO milita profile (BS11, WIP12, etc.) they’re definitely the least skilled of our various ranged combatants, on par with NeoTerra’s Auxilia. As a result, the MULTI Sniper’s ability to challenge opponents at extreme range is basically the best protection they can get as far as winning a face-to-face roll. However, many players probably won’t have the SWC cost to afford the MULTI Sniper.

    The Red Fury is a bit more on track as far as both point and SWC cost. That Burst 4, plus the excellent flexible rangebands of the Red Fury, give it better odds of actually challenging and beating a dedicated attacker in face-to-face. Once again though, there is some associated SWC and point cost here.

    The Shock Marksman Rifle is a fair tradeoff for the Red Fury. It’s 1 point cheaper in cost, and 1 SWC cheaper, but loses out on a point of Burst. The role is similar though: use respectable Burst and good rangebands to make the enemy worry, and Shock certainly means that a Crit or lucky Hit will end the conversation with most targets. If you have the SWC to spare, the Red Fury upgrade is a no-brainer. Otherwise, this is a nice choice for aggressive contesting longer lanes.

    The Light Rocket + submachine gun profile is likely to be the most popular, primarily because of its double weapon systems and very cheap cost. Note that, of the 4 profiles, it’s the least equipped to actually contest long ranges. The mere Burst 2 and 24 inch range of the Light Rocket Launcher, while great, is a very big efficiency reduction compared to the extreme range of the MULTI Sniper, or the high Burst of the Red Fury or Marksman Rifle.

    What the Light Rocket does bring though, is a big blast template and excellent stopping power against tough targets. If an enemy is careless in manuevering either with a link team, or in coming around corners where multiple targets are grouped, the Helot can very easily score some devastating multiple-target hits. Similarly, if you score a hit or Crit against a valuable opponent, being able to Burn down multiple Wounds, or Burn off ThermOptical Camo or Optical Disruption Devices, is worth its weight in gold.

    The same philosophy is roughly true for the submachine gun. Though many players view the SMG as the overpowered, underpriced darling of CB’s design ethos, the truth is that the submachine gun is a very limited weapon with its rangebands. However, in the context of keeping an enemy out of your Deployment Zone, it’s fulfilling the exact role it needs to fulfill. Use it to stand at a corner and light up anyone bold enough to come around it. Contest their hits, fish for crits, and put them down with Shock Ammo. The high Burst is really nice if a Dogged Galwegian is foolish enough to wander into LoF, or if an Airborne Deployment trooper misrolls on their drop and thumps down in front of you.

    Regardless of which profile you select, the Helot is there to give their life to protect your valuable Regular troopers. Since they’re Irregular and not really contributing to your Order pools to begin with, don’t be afraid to sell them in ARO so that your more skilled troops might live. If your Helots do survive until an active Turn, put that Irregular Order to use; use it to shove them around into a more aggressive position, attempt an unlikely Discover attempt, or even spend a Command Token and make them Regular so that your Snake Eaters can do their job. In a critical turn, being able to apply even 2 or 3 Command Tokens to give your Order Pool a surge can be helpful for inflicting a devastating turn.

    Trauma Doc

    [​IMG]

    Some players believe that using Doctors is a waste of points and Orders.

    I am not one of those players. I believe Doctoring has incredibly valuable applications, especially for PanOceania. The reason for this is simple too: PanOceania solves virtually all of its problems with firepower, which means you need to keep your gunfighters supported and active. If other armies lose a key gunfighter or two, they often have a recourse they can fall back one: throwing smoke, rushing with warbands, etc.

    PanOceania cannot do this. We win games by putting our gunfighters in harm's way, to knock the other guy down. When we suffer a crit, or get beaten by a hostile gunfighter, we need to get our pieces back in play. The Trauma Doc helps with that.

    Generally, her role is always going to be a simple one: hide in the Deployment Zone, avoid standing too close to a hostile corner, and too close to a gunfighter who might get splashed with a template, and wait until someone falls Unconscious. Once that happens, hopefully she will only be one or two Orders away from making a WIP roll and getting your trooper back on his feet.

    Note, of course, that proper deployment here is very important. You want your Doctor close enough to your active gunfighters, but not so close that she gets in their way or risks harm herself. You also don't want her location to telegraph to your opponent where you're deploying your best shooters.

    Though her Willpower 12 is often ridiculed, don't forget that Command Tokens allow you to re-roll failed attempts for models with Cubes. If you're bringing your star Kamau Sniper back to life, it's often well-worth spending a Command Token to make that attempt.

    Lastly, remember that your Trauma Doc is a skilled combatant. She has a BS12 Combi Rifle, and a can bring a Palbot along to sweep mines and help clear a path for her. If the game gets desperate, don't be afraid to use her as an emergency Specialist for midfield button-pushing.

    Machinist
    [​IMG]

    PanOceania has seen its Machinists get revived with a whole list of Sectorial-specific Special Rules, and VIRD has one of the best. The standard Machinist is still around, and he's a decent choice if you want your Machinist to hunker in the backfield and help patch up broken units.

    The Varuna Division Machinist, however gets Mimetism (amazing) as well as Aquatic Terrain, Stealth, and the ability to join a Kamau Haris Team. Based on those rules, it seems he spent some serious time training as a Snake Eater, and he gets all the in-game perks that seem to come with it! If you have 2 points to spend, upgrading to a Varuna Division Machinist is an easy choice to make.

    Regardless of which loadout you take though, the support component of the Machinist remains the same. If a unit needs Structure Points repaired, needs Isolation or Immobilize-2 fixed, or wants to utilize tools like Deactivator or D-Charges, the Machinist provides all of that. This is your only option for restoring Structure Points to damaged REMs or TAGs, so it's well worth including a Machinist in any list that relies heavily on these units. Even if your list consists entirely of meatbag infantry, a Machinist is still valuable if you face a lot of E/M ammunition or similar ammunition, as well Hacking programs that Isolate. Like with a Trauma Doc, you can always leave your Machinist hiding safely until he's needed, using that Palbot for extra coverage.

    If you want your Machinist to get a bit more aggressive though, the Varuna Division Machinist can accommodate that. BS12 with Mimetism is fantastic, whether operating as a solo Specialist, or jumping into a link team. Note that the Varuna Division Machinist can join up with Kamau, either in their Core or Haris teams. Give that Haris team a Kamau heavy weapon like the HMG or Rocket Launcher, and they can escort the Machinist wherever he/she needs to go, with the Machinist providing some helpful mid-range Rifle Combat, Specialized Objective coverage, and added button pushing capability.


    Fusilier Indigo Bipandra

    [​IMG]



    What to say about Bipandra. For one, she counts as a Fusilier, so she can join a Fusilier Core team. Second, she comes with a Nanopulser, and she's a Doctor. That's about it.

    Bipandra's primary issue is that she's pays for a number of upgrades that raise her cost far above either a standard Fusilier or a Trauma Doc, without necessarily being better than either. Essentially, you're paying 9 points to be able to embed a Trauma Doc inside a Fusilier link, and she gets a Direct Template weapon in the bargain. She also gets some slight boosts to Survivability and Willpower as well.

    The Nanopulser itself is quite decent to have. PanOceania in general, and VIRD specifically, is very light on Direct Template Weapons. Many players will simply forget that Bipandra is available an option, allowing you to leverage the Nanopulser a bit more effectively as a gimmick/surprise tool. It's also quite a good weapon to use through Patsy's Nimbus Plus, since the enemy will be at -6 to Dodge or return fire.

    In fact, if Bipandra had the capability to join Patsy's Haris, I'd give her more serious consideration as a linkable option. As a gamer, it's my natural tendency to look for the silver lining or redeeming qualities in any unit. Bipandra is one of the few units though were I have to look pretty desperately to find something that encourages me to field her over other units.


    Tech Bee
    [​IMG]

    The Tech Bee never gets much credit, but she's never terrible to have in any list. Having an inexpensive Flash Pulse who is also a Specialist, and who also gifts a slight boost to your Machinist and Crabbots is not a bad thing for 5 points. In most PanOceania lists, she can hold a corner, watch your back, make a run for easy objectives, and her Irregular Order can be flipped to a Regular Order at need (if you're willing to spend a Command Token.)

    The defense role probably isn't as critical since VIRD has so many other defensive strengths, but having another Flash Pulse on the table isn't a bad thing. She can also save a game too if your primary Specialists suffer heavy attrition, and there are still buttons left to be pushed. While I would probably be more inclined to use 5 leftover points to upgrade Fusiliers to Forward Observers, or try to fit in another 8-point bot or Helot, the Tech Bee shouldn't be overlooked.
    Croc Men

    [​IMG]


    The Crocs come home to VIRD. A long-time staple of Vanilla, Croc Men are a very strong, elite addition to the Snake Eaters.

    First and foremost: Why use a Croc when there are also Zulu Cobras in the list? At first glance, the Zulu Cobra has a lot going for it: cheaper cost, more diverse loadouts, higher Ballistic Skill.

    There are a few answers here. First, Hidden Deployment is an incredibly powerful rule. It basically makes a unit untouchable until you opt to reveal, unless your opponent gets lucky with a Sensor sweep. Having this kind of precise control over when and how you reveal your Croc is powerful, and it also means your opponent will never be able to perfect counter-deploy against your Croc. They may guess where it is, but they won't know for sure, and this often means the Croc will have gaps that he can exploit in the enemy's deployment.

    Second, ThermOptic Camo is simply a strong rule. -6 to be shot and Discovered is always going to be strong. BS12 with TO is generally stronger than BS13 with Camo, against most targets.

    Third, Crocs have full Infiltration. Cobras can start a bit up the table with Forward Deployment Level 1, but this is a meager ability compared to Full Infiltration. If you need to push buttons and fight in the midfield, Crocs will start there.

    Fourth, X-Visor. If you get an opportunistic long-range shot, Crocs can turn their Combi Rifle into a decent-ranged weapon. You can snipe with a Combi Croc out to 32 inches with reasonable accuracy, and Suppress out to 24 without penalty. The Croc Boarding Shotgun really appreciates the X-Visor as well, helping to line up and land those critical template angles. It's the X-Visor that helps define a special role for the Croc Man. You can engage from outside an opponent's effective range, potentially accepting less accurate hits for the Croc, but almost certainly putting your opponent at near-impossible odds for success. This allows the Croc to gunfight with relative safety, allows it to a fulfill a similar long-range role as the Zulu Cobra's Triangulated Fire. This is a phenomenal asset for frustrating your enemies, maximizing the advantage of ThermOptic Camouflage, and attacking from unexpected quarters.

    Fifth, antipersonnel mines. VIRD is defensively a very strong Sectorial, but their main weakness is countering Camo opponents maneuvering in the active turn. Jammer, Sensor, Helots, etc. are all of limited effectiveness vs Camo Tokens. Croc Mines help address this issue, helping to deny area against sneaky maneuvering opponents. Mines are also a powerful offensive tool as well… Drop mines safely around corners to splash enemies as you engage them with a powerful gunfighter. I consider mines as one of the three strongest rules in the game, so having them in VIRD in any form is significantly important.

    So while Zulu Cobras might be the Camo unit that’s doing search and destroy, the Crocs are the unit that’s getting the mission done. Primarily, they’re going to be serving as your high-quality, order efficient button pushers. Use them to reach those consoles and tech coffins, flip them to your side, and drop mines along the way to deny area and create a persistent threat. With the obvious threats of a Core link, Helots and Zulu Cobras visible on the table, it’s very easy for a Croc to slip under your opponent’s radar, quietly getting the missions done and scoring those critical Objective Points.

    The Forward Observer + Deployable Repeater is the cheap baseline Specialist for this. 32 points is relatively expensive, but you get a lot for the cost. This profile is a cheap Specialist with no particular vulnerabilities, comes with a versatile Flash Pulse and the ability to designate targets, and has the added utility of Deployable Repeaters. If you plan to leverage Hacking/infowar to any significant degree, the ability to quickly place Repeaters in the midfield can be critical for success. It's rare for PanOceania to have this degree of flexibility with their infowar choices.

    The Assault Hacker, though even more expensive, can actually save you points overall. The increase of 32 points to 36 points is only a 4 point increase, assuming you’re okay spending the .5 SWC. This is significantly cheaper than the 8 points to upgrade a Fusilier Hacker, 25 points for an EVO, or 28 points for a Zulu Cobra KHD. If you need to authorize REMs for cheap, and you were planning to include a Croc Man in your list anyway, consider taking the Assault Hacker.

    Assault Hacking can be a vulnerability if you know you’re facing a lot of Killer Hackers, but it can also be an unexpected asset. Assault Hackers can be game-ending if your opponent is utilizing a lot of Hackable targets. If you pair an Assault Hacker with Jammers and good ARO coverage, you can grind an enemy advance to a complete standstill. This is a very useful tool in the arsenal of VIRD defense and area denial.

    The Boarding Shotgun Croc Man deserves special mention. While it is not a Specialist, and doesn’t bring any extra utility, it’s still a phenomenal aggressive combat profile. The x-visor pairs very well with the boarding shotgun for spectacular long range splash shots, capable of laying the template over enemies from outside their effective range. Hidden Deployment and marker state mean are powerful tools for launching an aggressive attack, and obviously the -6 to Hit and Surprise Shot make it a dominant gunfighter. If you don’t need your Croc pushing buttons, consider this profile for some added killing power.

    Another combat profile of note is the Croc Minelayer. The advantage of this profile is that it adds to the Camouflage mind games of VIRD. With Limited Camouflage Helots and Zulu Cobras in the mix, adding an antipersonnel mine to the table can cause endless problems for your opponent. Keeping them guessing about whether a Cam token will Hack them, Jam them, explode in their face, or light them up with Burst 3 Neurocinetics is a really potent tool for VIRD. Deploy the mine behind the Croc, either in your standard Deployment Zone or in the Forward Deployment Level 1 area, to help preserve the illusion.

    Just watch out though… The moment your opponent knows it’s a mine, they’ll have a pretty clear idea of where they should Sensor Sweep in order to reveal your Croc Man. Be prepared to support your Croc for this eventuality.

    Note too that the Croc Man can be your Lieutenant profile. If you are absolutely determined to have a Lieutenant who is difficult to attack, the Croc can assist with that. The difficulty here, of course, is that you can't use Hidden Deployment (you'll be in Loss of Lieutenant otherwise,) and the 2 SWC cost is very high. With the presence of the Zulu Cobra Lieutenant, you have a very cheap alternative to the Croc LT, so I don't see this profile being particularly useful in the current environment of the game.

    The last profile to mention is the MULTI Sniper Rifle. Make no mistakes, a Hidden Deployment MULTI Sniper is one of the best tools in the game... If you can stomach the cost. The Croc Sniper shoulders the burden of paying for Mines, Infiltration and X-Visor, none of which are necessarily critical to his role of surprise sniping from the Deployment Zone. Are they useless abilities? Not necessarily. Opponents rarely, if ever, expect Hidden Deployment sniper AROs to originate from the midfield. They expect most players to want to maximize the range of the Sniper Rifle, which means they won't expect a sniper to deploy closer than necessary. Similarly, mines on any platform are useful, and tossing down an antipersonnel mine or two around the Croc can really help secure his sniper nest and keep the area safe. Similarly, there's nothing wrong with getting aggressive with that mine placement. If you do need to gunfight at short range, taking risk with pistols or short-range sniper shots can still be worthwhile.

    As far as this units preferred role, I could write an entire article on how Hidden Deployment AROs should be utilized. To paraphrase from a recent discussion, I consider the following when I reveal a Hidden Deployment unit for ARO (note that this can be applied to the Cutter also:)

    • What turn is it?
    • How durable is the intended target?
    • Is my target likely to outshoot my TO unit?
    • Is the target likely to Dodge or Smoke my TO unit?
    • How many Orders has my target already expended?
    • How many Orders does my target have remaining?
    • What other units are in my target's Combat Group?
    • What other units are in my opponent's secondary Combat Groups?
    • Do I want to reveal the TO unit to have its Order in my pool next turn?
    • Do I need to save this ARO for a more important target?
    • How many Orders does an opponent have to spend to see my TO unit with a dangerous gunfighter?
    • Is my target linked?
    • Is my target the link leader?
    • In the intended target moving to engage another one of my units, letting me double up on AROs?
    • Is there a Doctor / Engineer near my intended target?
    • Can that Doctor / Engineer reach my intended target without me being able to fire another ARO?
    • Do I have a Doctor or Engineer near my TO unit?
    • Is my intended target using a weapon likely to overkill my Hexa, such as Viral, Shock, or EXP?
    • Am I relying on my TO unit for a secondary, more important defensive role, like watching a table edge vs an opponent who is likely to have Airborn Deployment?
    • If I lose my TO unit by revealing, am I missing out on a valuable active turn fire + maneuver role that makes my own turn more powerful or decisive?
    • Am I maximizing the long range of the MULTI Sniper? (i.e. is my opponent returning fire at a -3 or -6 range band?)
    • Am I maximizing the value of TO (i.e. does my opponent have MSV or crazy-high linked Ballistic Skill?)
    • How likely is my TO unit to actually hit what he fires at? (i.e. is my opponent wearing TO or ODD, is it out of cover, does it have a nanoscreen, etc.)
    • How likely is this to emotionally fluster or disrupt my opponent's concentration?
    • If revealing really sabotages my opponent's game plan, how likely are they to create a backup gameplan?
    • If I reveal the TO unit, will my opponent decide on a different strategy for the turn that's actually more dangerous? (i.e., if they were planning to push a console on Turn 1, but instead decide to bring in a drop trooper and it kills my backline, I may not have gained anything even if my TO unit prevents the console push.)
    • Have I given up a valuable psychological tool by revealing the TO unit too early?
    By revealing at the right time, it's perfectly possible to score a critical kill, throw your opponent's plan into disarray, and completely protect your investment from counter-attack. But these circumstances require careful planning to arrange, and there is almost always a risk when revealing a high-cost unit to try and contest your opponent's turn. That being said, the value of the Croc Sniper is growing on me: noone expects it, and it's an ARO that can be almost impossible to challenge.
     
    #1 barakiel, Dec 27, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
  2. barakiel

    barakiel Echo Bravo Master Sergeant
    Warcor

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    ORC

    [​IMG]


    The ORC finally finds its home in Varuna. The ORC has struggled to find its niche in Vanilla PanOceania and its Sectorials, primarily because it’s hard to be a generic Heavy Infantry. In all other forms of PanO, there’s always a Heavy Infantry choice with more rules, abilities or weapons that tend to overshadow the ORC.

    In VIRD though, the ORC finally shines because it has very little competition, and its durability is a very strong asset for the otherwise-fragile 1-Wound Snake Eaters.

    As with many VIRD units, the ORC comes with a generic profile and a Varuna Division profile. The ORC profile is fine, certainly bringing a decent stand-alone combatant, but cannot link and loses out on Stealth and Terrain Movement skills.

    Use the generic loadouts if you never think your ORC will link, and don’t expect much in the way of opposing Hacking, Jamming, etc.

    Generally though, the upgrade to Varuna Division is well worth it. Stealth is a powerful rule on a Hackable target, especially one who is likely to serve as an aggressive Datatracker. Being able to slip through Repeater networks, bypass Jammers, or avoid triggering Change Facing can be very powerful. Aquatic/Jungle terrain can be critical, depending on the tables where you ordinarily play. I find Aquatic terrain to be rare, but being able to move through it is helpful. Jungle terrain features are much more common, and this is a really nice benefit for VIRD ORCs.

    The first thing we see when deal with Varuna Division ORCs is that they’re linkable with Fusiliers. Fantastic. An ORC with 5-man link bonuses is a fearsome unit, especially when those link bonuses are provided for cheap. Notice that only 3 Fusiliers can join a fireteam with an ORC, so unless you’re bringing two ORCS, you’ll need a Wildcard option to fill in the team and gain you those 5-man bonuses (Kamau are perfect for this.)

    Generally, if you want to use your ORC as a fire superiority piece, you’ll want them linked. When using an HMG or Fuerbach, those 5 man bonuses are solid gold. The Fuerbach deserves particular mention in 5-man links, because the Fuerbach really benefits from the presence of +1 Burst, 6th Sense Level 2, etc. to make it a very diverse weapon. Either offensively or defensively, the Fuerbach represents a potent threat. Since the we have the Fuerbach present in the Varuna starter, players will certainly want to try this loadout and get it on the tabletop. If you do so, I strongly suggest either 5-man link or Haris Team for the +1 Burst; the Fuerbach will struggle to make a mark when it isn’t linked. When you do link it though, treat it similarly to a higher-powered MULTI Sniper Rifle with slightly less range. It can crack very tough targets, and intimidate 1-Wound opponents with its strong AROs.

    Though linking an ORC is the easiest way to give it battlefield dominance, the truth is that ORCs are much more likely to be operating on their own. The reason for this is simple: ORC armor is one of the few ways to give Snake Eaters a 2-Wound unit, other than investing in a biker or a TAG, and sometimes we need a durable unit whose role is to operate alone. in ITS Season 10, we have several tactical imperatives which demand moving a piece up the field. If you need an aggressive Datatracker, or a unit to accompany a Xenotech, the ORC is a logical choice because of solid 4-4 MOV and good durability. In these settings, it may not be practical to try maneuvering your entire Core link around (hauling 5 bodies into the midfield can be risky.) If you’re linked to a Xenotech as well, you can’t be part of a Link Team.

    When using an ORC in this solo fashion, the HMG is clearly a good choice. It’s flexible rangebands and superior Burst help this loadout make its mark on the battlefield, even without link bonuses. That being said, depending on table density, the MULTI Rifle or boarding shotgun are also viable (albeit very limited) choices.

    The MULTI Rifle and boarding shotgun are much more likely to shine as part a Haris Team, paired with Patsy Garnett. While this team can get expensive very quickly, it can be a dominant force for ultra-dense tables or setpiece close-quarter scenarios, such as Objective Room missions.

    If you’re looking for a Specialist for your link team, ORCS do technically have an offering in the form of the Assault Hacker. If you’re determined to field multiple ORCs, or want to use your ORC team for button pushing, the Hacker does provide an option. The Assault Device can also boost your Hacking presence on the field, though WIP12 and no Marker State leave him vulnerable to counter-hacking. If you do expect to field this loadout, and you’ll be facing a lot of Infowar, consider supplementing the link with a Tinbot profile to help.

    Generally though, you should rely on Patsy, or a cheaper linkable option (Kamau Wildcard, Fusilier Forward Observer) to push buttons for you. The ORC’s primarily role in Varuna is going to be durable gunfighting, soaking some damage and making your opponent work just a little harder to neutralize him as a Datatracker.

    A note on Kamau versus ORC:
    Make no mistake, in most situations, a Kamau is going to be a superior gunfighting choice. However, it’s a mistake to evaluate a unit’s worth purely by statistical dominance. Yes, BS13 with Mimetism is likely to be dominant in more gunfights than an ORC’s straight BS14. However, sometimes opponents have MultiSpectral Visors… Sometimes that raw superior BS is better… Sometimes they come at you with a Chain Rifle… And sometimes opponents score Crits. Those situations do in fact occur, and when they happen, an ORC is going to provide you with a more stable game plan and more tactical options than a 1-Wound infantry is. If you advance a Kamau for 4-5 Orders, only to have it eat a Crit and go Unconscious, that represents a significant waste of resources. If you advance the same ORC, it can survive that Critical Hit, beat the enemy, and you can still proceed with your gameplan. So while the Kamau is the better tool for many applications, it’s important to recognize the Kamau’s limitations, and recognize that the ORC’s durability is a very powerful tool in missions where staying power is required.

    Patsy Garnett

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    Patsy is a complex unit. On the face of it, she’s a solid Close Quarter Combat unit with supremely linkable flexibility and very good Order efficiency. She’s only 37 points, but her NCO ability means she can use two Orders, which effectively means you can pay her cost and still keep your Order count up.

    As far as combat armament, her Submachine Gun is a powerful short-range threat, is great in Suppressive Fire, and can still hit out to 16 inches with relative accuracy if you have her in a 5-man link. As a Forward Observer, her Flash Pulse gives her a bit more reach as well. Combine the Forward Observer with D-Charges, plus her status as a Heavy Infantry, and she’s a one-woman show for achieving multiple Classified Objectives. With Stealth as well, she’s comfortable sneaking past enemy Hackers and Jammers in order to get wherever she needs to go.

    The big thing for Patsy isn’t so much her own capabilities, but what she means for the rest of your force. First, as a fairly cheap Heavy Infantry who effectively gives you two Orders, and is also a Specialist who can Fulfill multiple Classified, has diverse ammo types, and can join any Link Team, she’s a very obvious Choice as a Data Tracker. If you need a Data Tracker who needs to attack or stay alive, she’s probably your best bet. With so many of VIRD’s best combat-capable units all “starting off the table” in one form or another, either via AD, Camouflage or Hidden Deployment, you really need to look to your ORCs for Data Tracking, and Patsy’s a good choice here. She’s more versatile, more order efficient, and cheaper than any other ORC out there.

    When forming a link team with Patsy, some clarification is helpful. Patsy can basically form a Haris team of any VIRD troopers eligible for joining any Haris. That’s the beauty of combining her Haris ability with her Wildcard status. Need a bruiser team of ORCs? She can do that. Plug in a Kamau as well, since their ranged power is a great choice for supporting her. Kamau can also bring more Specialist support with their Paramedic, Hacker or Forward Observer options.

    Continuing to analyze her skills, Patsy also includes the very rare Nimbus Plus grenades. What do these do?

    Nimbus Plus creates a -6 Poor Visibility Zone, and reduces the Burst of any troops firing through it by 1 (to a minimum of 1.) Note that this Zone, unlike Smoke cannot be ignored by any level of MultiSpectral Visor or 6th Sense, which means everyone who interacts with it is suffering the penalty. Note as well that any troop receiving an attack through a Poor Visibility Zone not only shoots back at -6, but is also -6 to Dodge.

    So what do we do with Nimbus Plus grenades? We drop them in place against high-threat enemies, then we shoot templates or Triangulated Fire through them!

    A mine or Wild Parrot that detonates through Nimbus Plus is -9 to be Dodged, before any other modifiers. A heavy flamethrower, like the one on a Peacemaker REM, is -6. If you really want your templates to do damage, this is a very good way to help ensure that this happens. Even Heavy Infantry link teams will be afraid of a Wild Parrot that’s -9 to be Dodged, and a Peacemaker with Marksmanship Level 2 and a Heavy Shotgun, firing through Nimbus plus in the +6 range using an Auxbot flamethrower, will be a dangerous threat.

    The Zulu Cobra is also a great selection here. With Triangulated Fire, the Cobra can fire its Assault Pistol through Nimbus plus with Burst 3, hitting on 10s. That’s very respectable. But any return shot will be suffering massive penalties: many opponents will be -6 for the Nimbus Plus, -3 for Camo, -3 for Surprise Shot, -3 for Cover, to easily achieve the maximum -12 modifier.

    Similarly, linked Kamau are also very good here. A Kamau HMG can realistically fire 4 dice at 10s, while an enemy will be -12 to respond.

    Since Nimbus Plus is -1 Burst, enemy link teams or Suppressive Fire opponents will have their effectiveness greatly reduced.

    Note, however, that you don’t want to always apply Nimbus Plus. While VIRD’s units are very well equipped to manipulate these modifiers and fight at a great advantage, they’re also significantly reducing both their accuracy and their Burst whenever they fire through Nimbus Plus. For many opponents, suffering the reduction in accuracy and firepower simply isn’t worth it.

    So when do we apply Nimbus Plus? While there is no comprehensive guide, I’d suggest the following:

    • Do the opponent’s AROs have a big risk of outright killing a unit you will really need laterl? Something like a linked missile, Viral Rifle, etc. may be very dangerous, and reducing their chance to Hit or Crit may very well be worth the orders of setting up a Nimbus Plus zone.
    • Do you have the Orders to spare? You may not have the orders required to set up the Nimbus zone, then take multiple Orders to fire through it.
    • Do you really need to down your enemy? Reduced accuracy and Burst increases the chance that your opponent can survive a hit and Fail Guts back to safety. If you’re looking to remove enemy pieces, you may not want to reduce your firepower.

    So while Patsy herself is a decent combatant, her primary role is to enable and support the capabilities of her fellow Snake Eaters. Whether she’s forming a custom-tailored Haris team for the mission at hand, serving as Datatracker with her aggressive loadout and decent mobility, tossing Nimbus Plus to allow for safer face-to-face odds, using NCO to help her team rush up the table, or achieving tricky midfield Classifieds, Patsy’s really the Joan of Arc for PanO support play.


    Knight of Montessa



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    Montessa Knights have undergone a lot of recent changes. Personally, I’m grateful for the new Montessa for several reasons: it gives us a very, very fast Specialist, and it gives us a model with anti-materiel Close Combat attacks. PanO simply did not have a unit like this previously available, and a number of very challenging ITS missions are suddenly possible because this unit exists.

    Broadly speaking, the Montessa is a fast shock trooper. The Montessa’s role is to use its speed to get close, and deliver one of 3 very dangerous modes of attack: BS-based attack, direct template weapon, or Close Combat attack.

    Though the Montessa conspicuously lacks a Spitfire profile, both the MULTI Rifle and the Boarding Shotgun are decent weapons for a biker. The MULTI Rifle offers added range, added Burst, Suppressive Fire capability, and those useful ammunition variants. This is a decent loadout for big-game hunting, though bear in mind the Montessa will struggle to be decisive in face-to-face because of its lack of Partial Cover. The Boarding Shotgun is quite nice here… It’s cheaper, and it synergizes well with both the bikes natural strengths and weaknesses. Because a unit riding a bike cannot use Partial Cover, you can use the Montessa’s speed to line up the best shotgun blasts available. Position for maximum coverage against the enemy, covering as many models as possible. The more enemies you affect, the more likely you are to actually do damage with each order, because an unlinked shotgun with no cover isn’t operating with very high margins for success.

    Since the Specialist Paramedic option comes with a boarding shotgun as default, this should be a common choice. When you need an ultra-rapid Specialist, use the Paramedic, and get comfortable using that boarding shotgun.

    As mentioned earlier, you should also develop a feel for the trio of combat threats: BS attack, direct template weapons, close combat. A lot of the Montessa’s combat success hinges on applying the right tool in the right situation. The Chain Colt is a great tool vs those hard-to-hit targets, where you can hopefully rely on the Montessa’s extra wound to try and shrug off incoming damage, freely trading hits with the Chain Colt. That direct template also helps versus Camo, giving you access to an Intuitive Attack.

    For Close Combat, the bike’s big MOV value really helps compensate for PanOceania’s lack of Smoke. Use it to reach vulnerable close combat threats. Bear in mind that bikes do not break Stealth, allowing you to freely play with turning Stealth on and off as you maneuver. Is there an enemy near a corner? Drive close without using Stealth, stop short, force the enemy to Change Face or Reset as their legal ARO declaration, then use your second Short MOV to simply drive around the corner into base-to-base, unopposed. Then follow up with a CC attack next Order to finish the job.

    The dangers to the Montessa are many. The big base size and lack of Cover make it naturally vulnerable to any dedicated attack by the enemy, so this is very much an active turn, alpha-strike piece. Beware of Hackers, and remember to utilize that Stealth to sneak past them as necessary. Since bikes are also poor at Dodging, watch out for mines, Chain Rifles, Flame Throwers, etc.

    In particular, watch out for linked heavy weapons with Multi Spectral Visors. The Mimetism of the Montessa doesn’t impress them, and they’ll be packing enough high Ballistic Skill and hard-hitting weaponry to make quick work fo the Montessa if you’re not careful. Always use the Montessa in conjunction with your dedicated gunfighters and Killer Hackers, to help clear the lanes and pave the way for your Montessa to attack. Remember too that Patsy’s Nimbus Plus grenades are a very nice tool for the Montessa… Neither his Chain Colt nor his Close Combat Attacks are bothered by the Nimbus Plus in any way, so Nimbus Plus is a very good tool for letting the Montessa get stuck into combat.

    Lastly, remember that regular Impetuous means that the Montessa has a lot of control over his Movement, and that he doesn’t have to stay on the bike if he doesn’t want to. If you’re safer on foot, either for the ability to go Prone, Dodge, Climb, etc., don’t be afraid to leave the bike behind and go in on foot. The bike is great for its raw speed, but the Montessa will live a lot longer if it’s able to operate freely on foot.
    Squalo

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    PanOceania’s Main Battle TAG. It already is unique as a BS15 Heavy Grenade Launching platform, and apparently the Snake Eaters have done some further modifications as well. The standard Squalo profile is present and untouched, but for a minor upgrade, you can get the retrofitted version that comes with Aquatic Terrain and Duo. If Aquatic Terrain and Duo mean little to you, there’s nothing wrong with taking the standard Squalo… But really, why not have one helmed by a Special Forces pilot?

    The nice thing about the Varuna Division Squalo too is that it now represents a much more difficult choice between Heavy Grenade Launcher and non-HGL variants.

    The HGL version is a PanOceania Staple. With Ballistic Skill 15, you can Speculative Fire targets up to 32 inches away on very healthy 9s. If you fight heavy Order spam, or in metas with sparse terrain in the deployment zone, this loadout is simply lethal. For missions that involve hunting Lieutenants or Designated Targets, you can often threaten them without ever leaving the Deployment Zone. Use Croc or Zulu Cobra Forward Observers to increase your accuracy, or Satlock from the Pathfinder to designate targets (don’t forget EVO to offset that steep negative penalty to Sat Lock.) The other nice thing about the HGL profile is that it keeps your TAG very safe. The Squalo can impact the game without ever leaving the deployment zone, remaining very safe behind a wall of Helots, Jammers and Kamau Snipers. If you play a mission that focuses on point preservation, killing while denying the enemy points, etc., then this is a very powerful way to play that game.

    The big point of caution for the Heavy Grenade Launcher is not to become too dependent on it, and to acknowledge its limitations. Speculative Firing at a single enemy is statistically unlikely to yield huge results, so you can always increase your chance of inflicting casualties by aiming for groups of targets, or simply maneuvering and firing with that MULTI HMG. That Speculative Fire is powerful, but isn’t always the best way to exchange fire.

    If you favor a more direct approach, the second valuable Squalo profile features MULTI HMG, Heavy Pistol, and Zapper (and even includes a Lieutenant profile too… Risky, but powerful if you can access Chain of Command via a Spec Ops.) This Squalo loadout possesses great weaponry for both long and close-range fire, but also comes with one of the strongest Direct Template Weapons in the game. The Zapper fires E/M2, meaning any hit will force two saves against half the BTS value of your opponent. What does this mean? It means that enemies that fail their saves versus Zapper are Isolated and (if applicable) Immobilized until an Engineer comes to rescue them. This makes Zapper one of the hardest hitting and most effective personal defense tools in the game. Warband coming at you? Zap him, rely on the Squalo’s durability to take the unopposed hit, and laugh as the enemy CC combatant is unable to spend additional Orders. Scrape that warband off your Squalo by using Triangulated Fire into Close Combat, then get back to work with your TAG. You can also go after entire link teams or dangerous Heavy Infantry, Isolating/Immobilizing them if they opt to stand their ground, or firing the MULTI HMG or Pistol if they opt to Dodge. The applications here are many, and they get even better with Patsy’s Nimbus Plus zone. Since the Squalo comes with Duo, and Patsy can join any Link Team in VIRD, she’s a natural partner for the Squalo. Not only can she use her stealth to hunt down Hackers/Repeaters, or use her SMG for close-range engagements, but her Nimbus Plus means any opponent who tries to Dodge a Zapper through a Nimbus Plus zone suffers a -6 to hit. Lethal, especially for taking on entire link teams at close range (not that Sixth Sense Level 2 does not ignore the -6 for Nimbus Plus.) This is one of the most devastating exchanges that VIRD can arrange.

    In addition to those combat benefits, Patsy can also help the Squalo along with her NCO ability. While she does have to be the Duo Leader, she can easily help the Squalo travel and reposition thanks to that essentially “free” order. The two make for a very effective team.

    Other strong support units are obviously the Zulu Cobra Sensor + Jammer, for defending the TAG and revealing hidden opponents. Croc Men are also good, forcing the enemy to navigate mines, or hunting down solo targets that aren’t worth the effort of bombarding. The Pathfinder is very good for racing ahead to Discover hidden enemies or push buttons, being very order-efficient with 6-4 MOV. The Kamau MSV2 Sniper is also a natural choice, allowing for long-range ARO and attack while also babysitting a link team of cheap Fusiliers to fuel those TAG orders. A Machinist and Palbot for repair are also logical choices… Remote Presence is a very powerful rule on a TAG, easily allowing it to survive and be repaired even when knocked Unconscious. Losing 3 Structure Points rarely means a PanO TAG is out of the game, as long as you have a Machinist with a few Orders to spend (don’t forget a Command Token or two to re-roll failed Repair attempts… It’s this reliability that sets our support teams apart from other factions.)


    Cutter

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    The Cutter is one of the most singularly powerful units in all of Infinity. Combining all the strengths of a PanOceania TAG with the offensive and defensive strengths of ThermOptic Camouflage, the Cutter was a common sight on the early battlefields of Infinity. Both the game and the Cutter have changed a lot since then, but the Cutter still retains its power as one of the game’s most feared combat platforms.

    What’s the purpose of the Cutter?

    To create the most statistically advantageous probability result for applying special ammunition types, utilizing speed, durabillity and freedom of mobility to engage targets of its choosing, while being very difficult to counter-attack.

    The goal to success here, of course, is ThermOptic Camouflage. On the face of it, the benefits of TO Camo are obvious: -6 to hit and Surprise Shot allows a player to skew gunfighting odds heavily in their favor. In the marker state, the Cutter can run across guarded lanes, walk past enemy Hackers, and generally move with relative impunity while bypass most enemy Attacks.

    Hidden Deployment is also a valuable component of TO Camouflage. First and foremost, a Cutter in Hidden Deployment is almost invincible to any sudden Turn 1 Attack your opponent can engineer. Worried about Oniwaban infiltrating your Deployment Zone? Grunt Heavy Flamers? Maybe a Speculo Killer? Lobbed Pitchers and Hacking?

    As long as your Cutter doesn’t reveal, there’s very little danger from any of those threats. Use this degree of safety to protect your investment. And as long as you aren’t under immediate pressure from these Turn 1 threats, keep your eye open for a chance to open up with a powerful Explosive ARO. Most PanO players know the value of a Hidden Deployment Sniper revealing to ruin an enemy’s day, catching a key unit when it’s at its most vulnerable. The Cutter is fully capable of doing this, sniping an enemy after they leave Partial Cover, or right before they’re about to achieve an objective. Pick off link leaders as they maneuver, and strand the entire link team in the open. Position yourself in a way so that you increase the chance of seeing enemies during their second MOV skill, giving yourself an ARO when the enemy can make no response. Whatever the case though, make sure your reveal at a safe time and in a safe location, where your opponent’s ability to counterattack is limited. Always leave your Cutter in a place where it can fail Guts back into Total Cover if necessary.

    This amazing capability is also one of the challenges with using the Cutter Lieutenant option; if you take a Cutter LT, you can't use Hidden Deployment without being in Loss of Lieutenant as well. I personally don't think that +1 Order is worth giving up Hidden Deployment, but that's an issue of personal preference.
    Pathfinder


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    Anyone who plays against me regularly knows that the Pathfinder is one of my favorite units. I believe this is the finest 16 points that a PanOceania player can spend. Why, do you ask?

    Simple. The Pathfinder is a 6-4 Specialist, with respectable WIP13. When it’s unopposed, it’s the quickest button pusher in our oursenal outside of the Montessa, and the Montessa costs nearly two and a half times as much as the Pathfinder does.

    So once you knock over the opposing army, sweeping the lanes clean with Superior PanO firepower, the Pathfinder can go to work zipping from console to console, scoring objectives and wrapping up the mission. This is how I get a lot of my button pushing done. Not with TO Camo sneaking from hiding place to hiding place, or a 100 point TAG disembarking its meager WIP10 bot, or a huge link team awkwardly trotting up the table, but instead a neat, fast, self-contained unit who quietly gets the job done.

    If you need more convincing, the Pathfinder also brings a lot of additional roles. Slap supportware on it, and it’s an effective BS14 Shock Combi Rifle. Use it to Discover + Shoot versus Camo, following up with Triangulated Fire if appropriate. Sensor Sweep all those hidden units. Get that Repeater where it will have the most effect. Use its Flash Pulse or Suppressive Fire to hold an important corner. Combine with EVO for Sat Lock, Revealing and targeting hardened targets for a grenade lob or a missile strike.

    It is worth noting that there’s some overlap in role between the Pathfinder and the Zulu Cobra Sensor, but their roles and capabilities remain different. The Zulu Cobra is search-and-destroy: he reveals things and shoots them, and does that role very well (much better than the Pathfinder.) But the Pathfinder is the complete package for mobility and button-pushing, with some light combat capability for good measure.


    Clipper


    [​IMG]



    This has been a long time coming for a PanOceania Sectorial. At the time of writing this, it’s been 11 months since Druze Bayram Security were first unveiled, using PanOceania hardware in mixed link teams for the first time.

    Now the Snake Eaters can get in on the action as well, with Clippers able to join any link you can imagine. How best to use this flexibility?

    As part of your standard Special link of Fusiliers and Kamau or ORCs, the Fire Team Option missile launcher offers a fairly versatile, slightly different ARO option compared to a Fusilier or a Kamau. With Supportware and link bonuses, the Clipper gets up to BS 18, ignoring Partial Cover. The extra Unconscious level of Remote Presence, as well as not being susceptible to Shock, also means the Clipper might force your enemy to hammer on it for an extra Order or two before removing it from play completely.

    There are downsides there though: The Clipper doesn’t fall Prone when it gets knocked Unconscious, so it can’t “fall to safety” and be healed back up like an Unconscious trooper can. Since the Clipper has no Repeater, it can’t start the game with Supportware in play, which limits its effectiveness as a Turn 1 defensive speed bump. The Clipper also requires a fair amount of extra support to operate at its full capacity, ideally with both a Standard or EVO hacking device for supportware, as well as a Machinist for repairs.

    If you plan to operate a lot of REMs to begin with, it’s easier to give a Clipper the support it needs. If you don’t plan to run REM heavy though, you’re probably better off with a traditional meatbag infantrymen packing a strong ARO weapon instead.

    As far as actually using the Guided trait, VIRD does have some options for trying to leverage this profile. The Croc Man and Zulu Cobra Forward Observers are both extremely high-quality and very good in this role, but their fairly expensive cost means you’re never likely to field very many of them. Choices like the Kamau, Pathfinder, and Fusilier Forward Observer are all acceptable, but none are really ideal at this role because of the huge amount of Orders required to get them in position. Additionally, both of our Spotlight-capable troop choices (Echo Bravo and ORC Assault Hackers) both come with WIP12, so the -3 when Spotlighting hurts them badly.

    VIRD’s best plan for inflicting the Targeted state is probably a Pathfinder using Sat-Lock, supported by an EVO Hacker. This is a fairly hefty point investment, but Sat-Lock is a very helpful multi-faceted ability that can Discover and Target all in one Order. Devotees of the Squalo Heavy Grenade Launcher know the effectiveness of this platform.

    Perhaps the best benefit of using guided in this context is that most opponents simply don’t expect it from a PanOceania force. It’s not a role or capability we’ve particularly excelled at, making this a decent surprise/skew build for ITS if a player has the courage to try it out.


    Fugazi


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    Tried and true. Fugazi are a staple of any PanOceania list. The multiple purposes they serve as a helpful asset for any VIRD list.

    • Need to put your Hackers to work? Use that 6-6 MOV and onboard Repeater to get close, then hack through the Fugazi. Be cautious of moving into an enemy Hacker's Zone of Control though... You don't want them disabling your Repeater.
    • Combine their Sniffers with your Sensor. Get a Fugazi into position, deploy that Sniffer, and use it to reveal hidden opponents in critical areas of the table.
    • Trip mines and Koalas. 6-6 is fast. If a mine, Mad Trap, etc. is blocking your advance, running the Fugazi into it to clear a path using very few Orders. This should be a tool of last resort, but better your REM eat the hit than a critical Snake Eater.
    • Flash Pulse. A WIP13 Flash Pulse with Mimetism and very respectable rangebands is a very, very good defensive tool. You can even give it Burst 2 with supportware. Use this to defend tables edges against Airborne Infiltration, force enemy warbands to throw smoke, or commit to defend an objective on last turn. Fugazi can even stop a TAG in its tracks with a bit of luck. It's also a good participating in a Coordinated Order, if you need to put a strong hit on a critical enemy.
    I take two in every list, simply because they can perform a lot of valuable roles that a Fusilier can't. If they were AVA4, I'd take 4. They're a very good unit, and finding helpful and creative uses for them is a good challenge for PanOceania players of all skill levels.

    Bulleteer


    [​IMG]


    The Bulleteer is a PanOceania staple, and is the envy of other factions when it comes to inexpensive, highly optimized combat Remotes. Fast movement, Optical Disruption, onboard Repeater, and the choice of either a Spitfire for Heavy shotgun make this a hugely popular combat unit.

    Use your superior long-range gunfighters to open up a breach in the opponent's lines, then scurry the Bulleteer through that breach to punish with the weapon of your choice. If you're worried about Hacking, keep a Killer Hacker on standby to assist, and a Machinist to keep the bot patched up. Since Core links are slow, Montessa's are less reliable in a gunfight, and TAGs are quite pricey, the Bulleteer is a great fast attack piece for punishing any opponent who tries to hide from your Snake Eaters. The Spitfire is the gold standard of fast combat and piece-removal. With the Bulleteer's speed, supportware and ODD, that Burst 4 will win gunfights with casual ease. This profile is certainly the easiest to use, especially when you can pair it with the strong defense of Suppressive Fire.

    The Heavy Shotgun isn't quite as universally applicable, but it's cheaper and can be much more devastating in the right circumstances. The uses here are pretty self-evident: engage at close range, blast clustered models or units that are poor at close range, and watch out for close-range Specialists like direct template weapon-equipped combatants, units with mines, etc. that can easily trade themselves for the Bulleteer.

    The disadvantage, of course, is that the Bulleteer has many hidden costs associated with it. Once you buy a standard or EVO hacking device for supportware, a Killer Hacker to remove enemy Hacking threats, and a Machinist to keep the REM in good repair, you've suddenly invested 64+ points in the REM before you've even added it to your list. As a result, try to structure the rest of your list around units that really help maximize the effect of the infrastructure you've paid for.


    Peacemaker


    [​IMG]


    The Peacemaker is very comfortable in VIRD. This Sectorial is packed full of choices that help the Peacemaker do its job.

    When your Core Link lays waste and clears a lane, rush the enemy Deployment Zone with your Peacemaker and lay waste with flamethrower and shotgun blasts. This is a classic PanOceania first-turn rush.
    Sacrifice this unit to assist your valuable Snake Eaters. Got a Zulu Cobra pinned by a mine? Is your Croc AHD getting hunted by an enemy Killer Hacker? Use the Peacemaker for that valuable support. The Auxbot's flamethrower is powerful and helpful, but it's also very good for sacrificing into enemy minefields or Koalas to help relieve some pressure and create breaches in your opponent's defenses. The Peacemaker, if necessary, can make two-step sacrifices: send in the Auxbot, then send in the Peacemaker, and you can potentially clear an entire lane of Deployable or Perimeter Weapons.

    Sheer hitting power. Combi Rifles and Assault Pistols are great in the midfield, but they don't always get the job done versus tough targets. A heavy shotgun or a flamethrower, however, are brilliant for cracking even ultra-hardened targets.

    Electric Pulse. Really worried about an enemy TAG? Navigate the Auxbot into base-to-base contact with it, and you've created a difficult dilemma for your opponent. Depending on their ARO, you have a chance to sneak through an Electric Pulse that can result in an easy kill vs a hardened target. Force the opponent to make that difficult choice: shoot at the Peacemaker, shoot at the Auxbot, CC the Auxbot, or try to Dodge all incoming threats. Whatever they choose to do, you can choose between shooting or Electric Pulse to inflict the highest probability, most devastating attack applicable. G:synch units are king for their ability to force the enemy into these kinds of no-win ARO situations, so use this broad application to go big-game hunting. There's a reason Peacemaker bots are feared.

    A note on Spitfire vs HeavyShotgun:
    Both are fantastic weapon platforms, but like the Bulleteer, they change the capabilities of this REM immensely. The Spitfire is significantly more expensive, both in points and SWC, but is certainly safer and easier to use because of the high Burst and long rangebands of the Spitfire. This is very strong as a self-enclosed, versatile combat unit. I personally favor the shotgun because of its cheap cost, its ability to project multiple templates with a single Order, and its ability to use the Auxbot to clear a path and help line up perfect shotgun blasts. The psychological pressure of the Auxbot really helps offset the low Burst and general limitations of the shotgun, so I consider this a very ideal platform for putting a shotgun to use.

    Spitfire versus Shotgun also breaks down to how you want the Peacemaker to be used. Used more conservatively, the Spitfire can be a methodical gunfighter capable of applying lethal pressure. When used hyper-aggressively though, the Shotgun is like a fist to the throat, able to project a devastating fast attack that most opponents don't always associate with fighting PanOceania. I find the template and cost of the shotgun really help to favor that playstyle, but there is no right answer when it comes to choosing your loadouts. Certainly a Spitfire/Auxbot duo is highly lethal and fully capable of obliterating light opposition in the midfield, and is much better at that kind of fire superiority role than the heavy shotgun is.


    Sierra


    [​IMG]


    Total Reaction bots are always useful. Their point and SWC cost does put them in the same point cost range as Snake Eaters, but they're also bringing significant utility and firepower as well. For a Sectorial already capable of projecting powerful long range AROs and stubborn defense, some players may ask themselves "why would I bother with the Sierra... I already have a Core link."

    The answer to this is that your Core link can't be everywhere at once. The location of your Core link is the first thing that any VIRD opponent will look for during deployment, and they will structure much of their own deployment around how and where you use your Core.

    The Sierra helps offset this by letting you put a powerful reactive and active Turn gunfighter in a vulnerable place, to shore up your presence there. A Core link is strong, but can be easily avoided. Maneuvering 5 bodies around, either for ARO or attack, can be risky and clumsy. Helots are great defensive tools, but their Burst 1 in the active turn means their active turn effect is negligible. The Sierra, by contrast, is a compact, cheap, contained unit that can hold a lane or maneuver quickly on the attack with 6-4 MOV and Marksmanship Level 2. This makes it a very flexible and depending choice against hiding enemies.

    Of course, the standard logic for using Total Reaction REMs applies: don't expect it to stop every attack, watch out for enemies with ODD, Camo, etc. who can manipulate heavy modifiers, and expect it to go Unconscious eventually if you expose it to severe risk.

    If you adequately support it with Supportware and a Machinist though, it can be a powerful combat staple for relatively few points. Remember the strength of that 360 Visor as well; the Sierra is not only powerful when projecting its fire from your Deployment Zone, but can also be moved to a good vantage point in the midfield to guard against threats that come in behind it. This is a really nice asset for VIRD lists with a lot of midfield troops, all of whom are pushing up aggressively, but are vulnerable to Airborne Infiltration or ultra-mobile troops coming at them from behind.


    Mulebot

    [​IMG]


    The humble Mulebot. All Mulebots are distinguished by having the Baggage rule and an onboard Repeater,but after that, their similarities end. Each of the three profiles fulfills a different role.

    The most inexpensive and perhaps universally popular is the cheap Minesweeper profile. This represents a very cheap order generator, and while the large 55mm base occupies a lot of room in the deployment zone, the ability to generate a cheap order, reload troops via the Baggage rule, and perhaps occasionally Minesweep something are all valuable for the low cost.

    The Baggage rule won't always come into play, but it does have a number of useful applications for VIRD. Being able to get more antipersonnel mines for a Croc is nice, though it's likely your Croc will be so far up the field that this won't come into play. The best application I've found for it is reloading Wild Parrots when you're making an attack on a midfield objective. The Parrot is such a dangerous and flexible tool, able to make a decisive difference when attacking an Objective Room or forcing an enemy out off a key objective, but it's only Disposable (1) and therefore a bit of a gamble when employed.

    However, if you walk the Echo Bravo in close to your Deployment Zone, and have a baggage bot waiting, you can effectively send in "volleys" of Wild parrots that can really bombard a defended zone with E/M ammunition. While still moderately Order-intensive, this is an absolutely terrifying way of hamstringing a Heavy Infantry link team, disabling a TAG, etc. and is worth considering for these kinds of setpiece attacks.

    Also useful in these setpiece attacks is Minesweeper. While this ability is severely limited in its application, if an opponent does make the mistake of deploying a mine, e/mauler, Crazy Koala, etc. fairly close to a Minesweeper, you can punish your opponent by taking control of that weapon. As with the Parrot Volley mentioned above, this is very good in centerline battles where you don't have to maneuver your troops too far.

    Minesweeper is also very good against Netrods or Imetrons. If your opponent suffers a bad scatter and a Netrod ends up within easy LoF of your Mule, take control of it and force your opponent to expend future Orders to destroy it in turn.

    The second Mule loadout is the Total Reaction Combi Rifle. This is not a particularly common choice, since it lacks the active turn punch to be decisive, and its reactive/corner guard role overlaps with Helots and your Core link team (both of whom can provide good defensive options for much cheaper.) Ultimately though, it's quite versatile in both active and reactive, and still provides utility with Baggage and a Repeater. If you were determined to get Baggage up the field for some reason, either to score a Quadrant or fight your way to a unit that (for some reason) needs to be reloaded, this is the only Mule option that's really combat-capable.

    The last option, the EVO Hacker, is certainly the most impactful. EVO unlocks a huge spectrum of capabilities, most of which are entirely unique to the EVO device. Rather than summarizing them, I'll highlight some of the best utility for VIRD:

    • Supercharging your own Hacking. PanOceania won't win any medals for high WIP or elite infowar capability, but that doesn't mean they can't participate and use Hacking to make a difference. EVO allows you to act with those critical re-rolls. Wait until a critical face-to-face with a Hacker, and re-roll those dice when necessary to land a critical Redrum or Oblivion. Similarly, use Kaleidoscope or Reboot to help your own Hacking-vulnerable units survive. The EVO itself is a capable Hacker that (best of all) is easily repaired if an enemy KHD goes after it, making it a good option for tossing into Hacking AROs or other risky situations.
    • General and EVO-specific combat supportware for your attack and defense REMs. Whether it's something as simple as Burst 2 Flash Pulse for all of your Fugazi, or giving Marksmanship Level 2 to a Bulleteer on a rampage, the EVO has significant capability over a standard Fusilier Hacker when it comes to making all your REMs better.
    • Removing the -6 penalty for Satlock. Satlock is an incredible ability... Both Discovering and Targeting an enemy unit has immense capabilities, especially when supported by a Clipper or grenade launcher. Running a Pathfinder and an EVO makes this ability easier to use, and unlocks a new attack vector that can't otherwise be used easily by PanOceania.
    So while an EVO isn't a tool for every list out there, it certainly works very well with other PanOceania units. As your only Hacker, it still provides some useful Supportware roles that can't be duplicated by other Hackers. The more REMs and Hackers you add to your list, the more benefit the EVO brings. It's a vastly important tool if you plan for REMs or Hackers to be an important component of your tactics.
     
    #2 barakiel, Dec 27, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
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  3. barakiel

    barakiel Echo Bravo Master Sergeant
    Warcor

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    Placeholder for army building/list expansions.
     
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  4. Barrogh

    Barrogh Well-Known Member

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    You mean Biotechvore? :P
    Other than that, good job deploying a tactica this quickly. Immediate Reaction is strong with this one.
     
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  5. barakiel

    barakiel Echo Bravo Master Sergeant
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    Isn't that what Biotechvore is :laughing:

    Naturally Kamau get some decent peotection in Biotechvore. Glad you like the write-up.
     
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  6. eciu

    eciu Easter worshiper

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    What Im mostly surprised is how actual few units VIRD has, yet it has several vialable buildss an option

    (or it is factI play MO mostly)
     
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  7. barakiel

    barakiel Echo Bravo Master Sergeant
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    I agree. The units that I consider you be the true Snake Eaters, the units in the mid 20s to 30s range, are all really viable and heavily change the list depending on which ones you choose. You could go pure Croc, pure Cobra, pure REM, or mix-match and still end up with decent lists.

    I'm also impressed by how viable ORCs become. Their durability, fueled by link bonuses, really helps them feel more appropriate for their cost.

    You'll have to tell me about MO. I don't even know where I'd begin for trying to understand them.
     
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  8. oldGregg

    oldGregg Well-Known Member

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    100% agree with this. I've always wanted ORCs to be this cool.

    Great job on this!
     
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  9. eciu

    eciu Easter worshiper

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    Mix the hyped knights with inflated number of units, general inflexibility of HI units ( its hard to make HI very different without making them crazy expensive), and long history of "patched units". 3rd Offensive was move in right direction, but it was imho in the middle of the road.


    I cant wait to start using VIRD (especially against TAK and other), it really looks agile and lean.

    Especially with interesting camo shell game.
     
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  10. ThananRollice

    ThananRollice Your Friendly Neighborhood Locust

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    Absolutely superb writeup. I've been waiting for this one! Can't wait to see the lists section.
     
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  11. RogueJello

    RogueJello Well-Known Member

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    "The advantage here is simple: Sixth Sense Level 2 simply allows you to ignore the Stealth rule, which means that Stealthy hackable targets such as Camo or Martial Arts equipped Heavy Infantry cannot simply walk past your Repeater network."

    Sorry, this is not correct, the Hacker must be the target of an attack.

    Also Patsy Garret is not the least expensive ORC, that would be the Boarding Shotgun model.
     
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  12. colbrook

    colbrook Black Fryer

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    Nope

    Stealth doesn't work against troopers with 6th Sense, this is actually part of the Stealth rule so the requirements of 6th sense don't matter.

    http://wiki.infinitythegame.com/en/Stealth

    "This Special Skill is not effective against troopers with the Sixth Sense Special Skill"
     
  13. Skyhusky

    Skyhusky Well-Known Member

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    I'm excited to play Varuna, as my first PanO sectorial. Haha. Thanks for the guide, Definitely Cutter is going to be one of my first few purchases along with Fusi's. Although I might just buy Bipandra just to paint her, she's an amazing model. Nothing wrong with having Angus around either.
     
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  14. RogueJello

    RogueJello Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, learn something new every day.
     
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  15. lord farfhocel

    lord farfhocel Well-Known Member

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    ERROR CORRECTED, seriously guys, no idea how I missed that...

    Again thanks to @barakiel for the write up, for cutter/squallo fans I recommend armored tactics by @daboarder (if I am not mistaken)...

    PS I am slightly disappointed with lack of improvements to cutter profile... I think it lacks a heavy pistol of any description... currently being the only tag with one weapon... especially if VI RD is handing out zappers
     
    #15 lord farfhocel, Dec 28, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2018
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  16. eciu

    eciu Easter worshiper

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    Man, please read Nimbus rules. It has reflective trait which means it affects both normies and people equiped with ANY MSV device.
     
  17. Teslarod

    Teslarod Trebuchet Enthusiast

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    @lord farfhocel see Nimbus Rules for reference. The reflective trait explicitly works against Visors despite being a Low Vis Zone.

    @barakiel neat writeup mate. Think I'll be mainly playing Varuna this year with a sprinkle of Vanilla. The main trouble I seem to be running into is forgetting to bring a nutcracker that can go and dig something nasty out of hiding.
    Aside from that Varuna is a wet dream, pun intended.

    One thing to disagree on would be Orcs (not Patsy though). Aside from the Core Linked HMG which I'd rate above the Kamau for assault duty, they still don't seem to do nothing of importance you couldn't replace with redundant unhackable Snake Eaters or more capable choices like a Squalo.
    Solo Orcs are still very bloated and the addition of Stealth just makes them an extra bit more expensive, something they really can't afford to begin with.
    Unfortunately Squalo, Patsy and Montesa seem to be better suited for Data tracker duty under any circumstances I can think of.
     
    #17 Teslarod, Dec 28, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2018
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  18. lord farfhocel

    lord farfhocel Well-Known Member

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    @eciu and @Teslarod, thanks for the quick correction, dunno how I missed that,

    Open question, how do you plan for nimbus in your life?

    (Obviously my plans/assumptions were completely useless)
     
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  19. Make PanO Great Again :P

    Make PanO Great Again :P Varuna, with the deadliest reptiles in the sphere

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    Great job @barakiel , thanks for the top notch work as always.

    Bonus track, with the picture so large i just realize of the tactical foregrip on the PanO BSG, fore some reason i find comforting.

    Sadly i´m sliding back too Joan Vainilla but with a heavy Varuna presence (they are a godsend), but i find a lot of overlap in how to use them in and out of sectorial, when the concept is so new they have nothing with what to compete.
     
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  20. andre61

    andre61 Well-Known Member

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    Wow! that was fast.
     
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