Hi Team. I was up at Rose City Raid in Portland, Oregon the weekend. Organized by my friend, the famous @TheDiceAbide , this Satellite was sold as "Infinity Hard Mode." Ultra dense terrain tables, Hard Mode Classifieds, challenging missions. I'm not going to do an in-depth play-by-play, but figured I'd highlight my lists, the tables, and some thoughts about VIRD and the challenges of playing in this kind of format. The mission lineup was a tricky one: Highly Classified (red objectives) Power Pack Transmission Matrix Unmasking Frostbyte Though the missions were fairly varied, there were some pretty common themes throughout: They all rewarded having a durable aggressive Datatracker, or had situations where a Heavy Infantry was generally pretty useful. Trans Matrix, Frostbyte and Unmasking all want Datatrackers who can get somewhere that's defended, while Power Pack also likes having a durable mini who can sprint the field if necessary, and Highly Classified has some uses for Heavy Infantry. So this meant I was bringing an ORC along. Not my favorite, because the ORC ends up pushing out some of the more interesting choices, but I'm actually a fan of what it brings to the table. Some button pushing. Unmasking, Frostbyte and Powerpack all have consoles that need to be interacted with, which meant I wanted at least two midfield Specialists. I've used the Zulu Killer Hacker and Croc FO in the past, and both are quite helpful in Highly Classified also, so this was an easy choice. Ultimately, both my lists ended up looking pretty similar. I find this is really helpful at a 5-game tournament, because it lets my deployment and play stay consistent from game-to-game, and doesn't create errors or mistakes as I'm trying to remember which unit is in which list. The downside, of course, is that you're limiting your tactical options quite a bit. I spent a lot of time debating whether to bring Patsy for Highly Classified, but I found that once I'd bought Patsy, a VIRD Machinist and a Kamau HMG, I was just too light on other units that I consider really important. I love some Echo Bravo, but there were a number of considerations (Exclusion Zones, the high cost of miscellaneous scoring models like ORC, Classified objective coverage, etc) which made me leave them at home. I disliked this extremely, but this was a tough environment for them to operate in. I used Team 1 for all missions except Highly Classified. Team 1 ────────────────────────────────────────────────── GROUP 1 9 1 ZULU-COBRA Hacker (Killer Hacking Device) Breaker Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 28) ZULU-COBRA (Sensor) Combi Rifle, Jammer / Assault Pistol, Knife. (0 | 29) KAMAU (Multispectral Visor L2) MULTI Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 32) ORC (Varuna Div.) (Multiterrain: Aquatic/Jungle, Stealth) HMG / Pistol, Knife. (2 | 45) FUSILIER Combi Rifle + Light Grenade Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (1 | 14) FUSILIER Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10) FUSILIER Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10) FUSILIER Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10) FUSILIER Lieutenant Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10) HELOT MILITIAMAN Submachine Gun, Light Rocket Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 9) GROUP 2 5 1 CROC MAN (Forward Observer, Deployable Repeater) Combi Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 32) ZULU-COBRA (Sensor) Combi Rifle, Jammer / Assault Pistol, Knife. (0 | 29) FUGAZI DRONBOT Flash Pulse, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 8) FUGAZI DRONBOT Flash Pulse, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 8) TRAUMA-DOC Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 14) PALBOT Electric Pulse. (0 | 3) HELOT MILITIAMAN Submachine Gun, Light Rocket Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 9) 5.5 SWC | 300 Points Open in Infinity Army I used Team 3 for Highly Classified. Team 3 ────────────────────────────────────────────────── GROUP 1 9 1 ZULU-COBRA (Sensor) Combi Rifle, Jammer / Assault Pistol, Knife. (0 | 29) ZULU-COBRA Hacker (Killer Hacking Device) Breaker Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 28) ORC (Varuna Div.) (Multiterrain: Aquatic/Jungle, Stealth) HMG / Pistol, Knife. (2 | 45) KAMAU (Multispectral Visor L2) MULTI Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 32) FUSILIER Combi Rifle + Light Grenade Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (1 | 14) FUSILIER (Forward Observer, Deployable Repeater) Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 12) FUSILIER (Forward Observer, Deployable Repeater) Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 12) FUSILIER Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10) FUSILIER Lieutenant Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10) HELOT MILITIAMAN Submachine Gun, Light Rocket Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 9) GROUP 2 6 1 CROC MAN (Forward Observer, Deployable Repeater) Combi Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 32) FUGAZI DRONBOT Flash Pulse, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 8) FUGAZI DRONBOT Flash Pulse, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 8) MULEBOT (Minesweeper, Repeater) Electric Pulse. (0 | 8) MACHINIST (Varuna Div.) (CH: Mimetism, Stealth, Aquatic Terrain) Combi Rifle, D-Charges / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 17) TRAUMA-DOC Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 14) PALBOT Electric Pulse. (0 | 3) HELOT MILITIAMAN Submachine Gun, Light Rocket Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 9) 5.5 SWC | 300 Points Open in Infinity Army Game 1: Highly Classified vs OSS OSS sucks to fight in Highly Classified under the best of circumstances, mostly because their defense is very hard to crack, and NWI / Dogged means ALEPH rarely leaves a body laying around for you to score off of. Your only real bet for generating a body to score from is to crack their DZ, which is a pretty tall order. I did get a good look at the Shukra LT on Turn 1 with my ORC HMG, but he managed the Dodge to Total Cover. The most interesting part of the game was that our link teams never really got to interact... They had basically deployed in opposite corners, so there wasn't much freedom to maneuver for Line of Fire. As a result, it mostly came down to our solo troops. Naturally Snake Eaters are no joke, but it's pretty tough to compete with Posthumans and Dasyus in terms of just being annoying and tenacious; that NWI, the Nanopulsers and high WIP Flash pulses, etc. can turn a game on its head with a lucky moment. My Jammer did hold on very well, keeping my left flank safe from a ton of pressure being piled against it. Eventually he lost an active turn shootout, with a Dasyu sneaking a Combi shot through vs the Burst 4 Triangulated Assault Pistol. Losing that defensive tool opened the game up for OSS, letting him clinch Extreme Prejduce and seal the game. My opponent, who'd go on to get first place overall, had a strong opening turn for a quick lead, then didn't give much away. He walked away with a good win, and while putting him into Loss of Lieutenant for Turn 2 sure would have been nice, he did a great job playing to the objectives throughout the mission. Game 2: Power Pack vs HB Power Pack's a tricky one. With VIRD vs HB, you mostly need to watch your own table half and interdict those impersonators. If you're playing someone who is skilled, you have to hide your Kamau MSV2 to avoid coordinated Daylami Panzerfausts. If you're not playing someone skilled, you can mostly own the table. My opponent was 1) Skilled 2) Benefiting from tons of Saturation, so I kept my Kamau MSV2 fairly well hidden to police my table half. Jammer vs Jammer's pretty hilarious, but my dice carried a ton of momentum in those 1-dice interactions, and I managed to score some quick Jams on incoming Mutts to help stall those early Chain Rifle rushes. My opponent set up a nice network of mines in the midfield, so I had to spend much of Turn 1 and most of Turn 2 trying to clear my way through it. My Croc grabbed one console, the Zulu Cobra KHD another, before my ORC sprinted the field, dropped the Xenotech off, and parked on the enemy objective. Props to my opponent, who had to keep reforming his gameplan as his dice failed on him repeatedly. Even with the Sat Zone, the Kamau's pretty dumb in this matchup. Game 3: Trans Matrix vs OSS OSS again, but I was feeling better about the scenario. Robots are a bit less happy in the jungle, though my opponent had enough Muliterrain Skirmisher to keep me working for it. Once again, the Kamau MSV2 basically just locked everything down. My opponent made a pretty aggressive run at the Kamau with an HMG, hoping to Burst her down, but gave up his Partial Cover in the process. Hitting on 19s was just bone crushing. From there, the Croc and Zulu Cobras did their work, Sensor Sweeping and following up with Combi, Assault Pistol, etc to help keep my table half clear and secure the mid for consistent scoring. Suppressive Fire was good here, not because it generated many kills, but because -1 to enemy Burst and -12 to hit means even ALEPH units struggle to actually hit a Zulu Cobra who is Suppressing. My ORC kept his head down, away from any Repeaters, before jogging up through the jungle in Turn 3 for a Designated Target kill. Game 4: Unmasking vs Combined Army My opponent had a brilliant opening Turn 1, pushing one console, immediately identifying the correct Civvie, and then obliterating that Civvie with Sheskiin (with Sheskiin tanking my Sniper AROs in the process.) 5 points that I can't overturn is a great way to start any game, and meant I had to chase down points for the remaining Rounds. I did get lucky fighting off a Speculo though, which is always nice. I never did manage to get to Sheskiin, but I did gather enough points elsewhere to secure this win. My opponent's beautiful Turn 1 kept me from the major though, which was significant. Terrain on this table was standard, but the lack of Sat Zone to manipulate Burst meant that even Sheskiin was reluctant to tackle the Kamau MSV2. Once again, she just dominated the table. The Speculo attempt was solid... My opponent did all the right things... But the challenge there is that once you crunch the numbers on passing the WIP roll, making the f2f, the Kamau rolling saves, as well as dealing with any intervening Camo tokens or other tools that block B2B... I don't think that attempt is statistically likely to succeed. That's pretty rough, and I think having a backup crew for Coordinated attacks vs the Kamau is really helpful here. Round 5: Frostbyte vs Yu Jing Ooh. Hmm. All of the internal corridors on this table were playable, so my opponent had plenty of places where his Impetuous troops could lurk and get some work done. However, I did get the table side with the huge-ass sniper tower, which immediately dictated pace and control of the game. Not wanting to tangle with all those exploding, martial artsing, smoke-tossing Chain Riflers in the corridors, my Snake Eaters mostly stuck to the rooftops and the jungle (Jammer was pretty helpful here.) My Helots did a nice job trying to interdict some of those Turn 1 Impetuous moves and objective runs, but couldn't quite find the dice and went down early. Yu Jing went for a strong opening Turn 1 to immediately snag two consoles, but it allowed for a pretty strong counter-punch in my own turn. In particular, my Croc Man was the man of the match. Hidden Deployment is just such a strong unknown, even for opponents who are expecting it, so the Croc was able to reveal, flip on my crucial DZ heater, then eventually breach the corridor network and make a suicide run on my opponent's Datatracker. The moment the Croc revealed, he immediately ate a storm of Chain Rifles and Madtraps, but not before scoring 3 Combi Hits to score that crucial takedown. Yu Jing soldiered back into it with a Tiger Drop that tore up my backline pretty effectively, dropping most of my Fusiliers as well as my ORC. Thankfully though, through virtue of going Second, I'd relegated Datatracking duty to a lowly Fusilier, meaning my ORC was free to play aggressively and got shot in the face without sabotaging my gameplan much. This one wrapped up with me literally belly crawling the Fusi Datatracker, prone, for about 6 Orders in order to reach the Exclusion Zone, with nasty Suppressive Fire Hac Tao and Rui Shi shots screaming overhead. Conclusion: When the smoke cleared, I had pulled off 39 Objective Points (highest in the tournament) and was 2nd highest for Victory Points (I was really pleased with this, considering I barely utilized any baggage.) Unfortunately my Tournament Points weren't as hot, landing me in 4th Still, that was actually a more consistent finish than I was expecting. Between the hard-mode Classifieds, the terrain, and the tough lineup of missions, I was happy with the performance. The format for the event meant that noone swept with five Major victories, so everyone was clamoring for all the TP they could gain. I believe first place had done 3 majors, 2 minors for 13 TP. Second place and third place were tied at 12 TP, 35 OP, with the tiebreaker decided by about 100 Victory Points... Overall, it was a great lesson on both the tactical and strategic levels. VIRD was certainly happy competing here. I think Shock Army might have been a more rewarding pick though. All those antipersonnel mines would have given me a helpful defensive edge in the missions where my opponent scored hard on Turn 1. There was also the sense that the Kamau MSV2 just became the focal point of the game, in every game. I'll make that a consideration for next season, but for this time around, VIRD keeps doing its thing.