Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tactics: Elite Orders vs. Cheap Orders and Types of Order Pools

Orders and their other token friends!
A famous military question: is it better to have a smaller, more elite army, or is it better to have a larger, less experienced troops? The same applies to Infinity and sure has since the dawn of the game.

So, let's break this question down a bit and see what you decide:

Large Order Pools

Nothing feels better in the world than having a metric crap ton (yes, that's an actual measurements used in...somewhere) of orders to get word done, either pushing buttons or wiping some hostile out. I can tell you as an Ariadna player who sometimes plays with 20 orders at 300 points, it's wonderful.

The main drawback here is that you have a lot of cheaper troops and very rarely do you have all 20 orders as regular orders. If you play your cards right, most of them will be regular, but rarely all 20 meaning that it might sound nice to have 20 orders, but the reality of it is that you won't. On top of that, you have to spend more orders to get the same effects out of most of your troops than a more elite army would and the more orders you spend, the more likely that troop is to be shot to dickens; a troop who is already weak and fragile enough. Also, do note that it can be an absolute nightmare trying to remember who's in which group, especially when you start taking multiples of the same profile.

Good ol' Ariadna

  • Lots of orders to make sure you get done what you need done
  • More troops, more guns, the more chances you have to make it hurt
  • Larger margin of error (can try and try again if something doesn't go right)
  • Trade in a small increase in chance for repeatability


  • On average your troops are less effective and deadlier
  • Run the risk of having too many irregulars and not enough regular troops
  • Lots of impetuous, so a good amount of your troops are running out into the fray or not receiving cover bonuses (aka, dead)
  • Much more susceptible to things like shock, viral, etc. that eat away at cheap, 1 wound models
  • Takes a lot of work and practice to remember who belongs to which Combat Group

Small Order Pools

Having a whole army composed of super butt-kicking heavy infantry and elite infantry is pretty freaking sweet too. Your troops are deadlier, more effect, and resilient compared to the large order pool list. You don't fear for the lives of the individuals as much and you can rely on them to get the job done more often than not. As an Ariadna player who sometimes uses 10 orders at 300 points, it feels great having troops who can actually get stuff done on their own.

When your 'starter' is 223 points, you're an elite army, for sure

The really big drawback here is the smaller order pools. Once you do get overwhelmed and lose a troop you take a significant drop in effectiveness compared to the large order pool. It might be harder to drop you down an order, but it hurts a whole lot more. Not only that, but this play style is arguably more difficult to play and master, requiring you to master stacking mods and keeping your troops alive, which in Infinity is a difficult task. Lastly, you really miss out on the ability to use Command Tokens to switch around your troops if you only use one combat group.

  • Deadly, efficient and resilient on a whole compared to the small order group
  • Takes less orders to get something done
  • Your orders are harder to kill off
  • More likely to include regular orders and no impetuous orders

  • Less orders to do things - each one is critical
  • Greater pain when you lose a single order
  • Missing out on a key function of Command Tokens (if you're playing Ariadna, what else are they good for besides coordinating orders?)
  • A much smaller margin of error compared to the large order pool
  • Much less board control

10 + 1 (or more) Order Pools
Since I've bashed on the other types, let me introduce my favorite type of order pool: 10 + some. This type of order pool has been extremely common ever since Third Edition has hit (coined N3) and ITS 2015. You take your typical order pool of 10 orders and then you have a second one to compliment your primary group. This group should be really focused on a specific task and able to perform that task with the amount of orders provided to it. I typically like to set mine for defense or late turn objective runs, if they're still alive.

10 + 1 + 1 Link Leader Token

Few types of complimentary/secondary pools:
-AD shenanigans (hide your AD or TO models in this group)
-Suicide attacks
-Order replenishment (using command tokens)
-Late turn objective runs

The benefit of this style is you don't have the barbarian horde of the Large Order Pools and you don't have the lack of orders that a Small Order Pool provides. Yeah, your troops might not be as powerful as the small order pool army, but they'll be stronger than the larger one, etc. etc. It pretty much meets in the middle between the two extreme types to create a medium between all of their strengths and weaknesses. Of course, the real question is how many orders to put into each and this is up to you and your preference: do you like the elite feel more than the barbarian horde with lots of orders? Find your niche and what works best for you and your army. I know I change my number of orders depending on what faction I play even, so I don't have a typical amount of orders either!

Take home message here, try an order group in the middle somewhere to find out what you really like and don't try to play either extreme until you've got some practice under your belt and find out which type works best for you. Experiment with the 10 + some type and see if you want your some to equal 1 or 6. Infinity is primarily about what works best for YOU, so read through the strengths, weaknesses and the types of 10 + 1 secondary pools to find what sounds appealing and try it out. As Sun Tzu always said, "Man who try many things, has tried many things".

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