Thursday, February 16, 2017

NCA Tactica - Part 1 (Light Infantry/Skirmishers)

Intro


When I first approached the Pride of Rodina and my fellow writers, there was a lot of interest in doing more tactica style pieces, and certainly it seems to be something we’re finding that you readers out in the community enjoy as well. With a few Pano players among our ranks, it only seemed like a matter of time after the excellent SAA tactica went up that a couple of us wanted to do something comprehensive on the amazing Neoterra Capitaline Army (NCA) sectorial... And so, RFJ and I went to work on putting something interesting together for you all.

Of course, what authoritative guide on the NCA sectorial would be complete without the input of one of the best and most highly regarded NCA players out there - our multi-event winning NCA general, also known as Barakiel on the forums! We were very fortunate to have both his input and his interest in putting together this work, culminating in not just two of the best NCA players among our regular writers, but also the valuable guest input from an expert in our Infinity community.

For you convenience, here are some shortcut links to each entry
- Auxilia
- CSU
- Fusiliers
- Devas
- Hexas
- Locusts
- Machinist
- Trauma Doc
- Warcor


Anyway without further delay, let’s begin with one of the most collaborative and up-to-date breakdowns of the entire sectorial ever to hit this side of the Human Sphere. Due to the scale of this project, the first part of this article will focus on the biggest core of the NCA sectorial, the wide array of light infantry choices!

Auxilia
Auxilia





Barakiel


Auxilia are truly unique in Infinity, representing the only inexpensive g:sync unit available to any faction. Unlike their heavier brethren, such as the Guarda de Assalto, Rasail Boarding Team, or Scylla/Drakios, the Auxilia's cheap price point and modest stat lines make it more of a support tool than a dedicated assault unit. They represent PanOceania's unique approach to warband units, with the Auxbot providing flexibility and a much-needed direct template weapon for PanOceanian forces.


As cheerleaders, Auxilia provide fantastic support. Their Auxbots can defend the approaches to your deployment zone, helping to protect your backline from attack without providing their Auxilia handler (and their valuable Regular Order) to hostile fire. They also make effective late-game sweepers, able to move up and claim objectives once your heavier troops have cleared a path by using the Auxbot to deny the approach of enemy units. Auxbots are especially good for protecting the back of your heavier troops, helping to discourage close-ranged attacks once you have retreated elite units, like a Swiss Guard, back into cover.


On the attack, the Auxilia can force your opponent to make difficult decisions. A Combi Rifle or Flash Pulse is certainly capable of making an opponent worry, but this is amplified by the fact that they will take a Flamethrower hit unless they choose to Dodge. This forces an opponent into a difficult decision, either Dodging and reducing their damage output to zero, or going for the Ballistic Skill shot but suffering a guaranteed direct template hit. This dilemma is a hallmark of g:sync units, and allows the Auxilia to punch far above its modest weight as a BS11 Combi Rifle. Use that flamethrower to tackle multiple Wound units, tough-to-hit threats like ThermOptic Camouflage or Optical Disruption Device troops, or to play off an exposed unit to let the template cover Camouflaged units. Working in tandem also means you can throw two Discover attempts against Camouflaged or Impersonating troops, helping you to reveal those difficult hiding opponents.


As great as Auxilia are however, remember their drawbacks as well. G:sync units cannot participate in Coordinated Orders, meaning that Auxilia require significant concentrated Orders to advance. Additionally, the Auxbot is highly vulnerable to hacking attacks. Being Immobilized or Disconnected is a constant threat, so be aware of enemy Repeater zones or Hackers controlling chokepoints and be sure to utilize your own Hackers to help clear a path for them. Additionally, if you enter Suppressive Fire with the Auxilia, the Auxbot cannot fire its heavy flamethrower since it is not a Suppressive Fire-capable weapon, so be conscious of this if you're hoping to maximize firepower in the Reactive turn.


Auxilia fit comfortably in most NeoTerra lists, where they are cheap enough to provide support Orders and tremendous flexibility as Specialists or in attack/defense roles. Their significant limitations do not make them a default choice by any means, unlike in previous editions where the NeoTerra roster was much more limited. However, they remain a hallmark of the NeoTerra's high-tech playstyle, and are a good investment for any NeoTerra player.



















Lazarus0909


For me, this combination of line infantry troop + warband (cheap disposable template weapon) arguably forms a crucial part of any NCA list. Back in the day, people used to take a lot more of these and run a "horde" of models, but the fact that they can't be part of coordinated orders anymore definitely makes running more than 3-4 of them unnecessary. The normal profile is only really worth it if you're trying to save a point vs the FO loadout, while the Lt profile is unfortunately obvious to your opponent (because it’s not a specialist) and otherwise pretty similar to the Fusilier option, just with an Auxbot attached. While it’s nice to "use up" the auxbot with a Lt order occasionally, the fact remains that it’s probably not worth the 1 SWC cost attached, especially in a sectorial that usually really needs it. So for me, the FO profile is the real winner, and I would always advise taking two of them, one for each flank (this is especially effective at guarding against AD models and defending against rushing enemies).
You'll notice as well that the Auxilia actually have below average BS for Pano (11) and are only WIP 12 (making scoring a touch difficult at times), so you really want to leverage both aspects of the duo to get the most out of them compared to a standard FO line trooper. In combat situations then, exposing both models at once only trips one ARO, and at close range most opponents will usually prefer to dodge, making the measly BS 11 combi-rifle actually quite adept in a firefight when opponents aren't shooting back. This also makes them pretty great for suicide runs and piece trades if opponents DO want to shoot back and take that flamer hit on the chin instead, and indeed you can make some particularly interesting trades by using the auxbot to kill models, detonate mines or discover opponents without risking losing an order by keeping the controller safe. Finally, despite the low WIP, the Auxilia is fairly effective then at dealing with camo and other skirmishers, as while low WIP for discovers is lame, two chances at it and a heavy flamer to try intuitive attacks with is no joke.





















RFJ


Auxilia are, as both Barakiel and Lazarus have noted, a backbone of almost any (save for Limited Insertion) NCA lists. I personally never used them in a “horde” type of list, but that’s only because I would run at max four of them. With really only two usable profiles, it comes to which of the two you value the most. In my mind, the only reason to NOT take the Forward Observer is if you absolutely MUST save that point for something else. Otherwise, the utility added by the Forward Observer skill and the Flash Pulse make it a crime not to run it. While yes, technically, that third Lt profile exists, in a sectorial where (as mentioned above) every little SWC counts, wasting it on the Auxilia is… less effective .


Their overall statline is just ‘ok’, with the lowest BS of almost any troop in NCA, nay PanOceania as a whole. If PanO and NCA HAD more access to higher than WIP 12, I’d be more annoyed by it, but since that’s what we get as standard, that’s what we get. I find them useful for ITS missions, such as the Armory, where you can get them in the Objective Room and, as Barakiel noted, give your opponent the headache of deciding which poison to pick; do they go for a BS attack FtF on the Auxilia (a safe-ish bet, with the low BS), and trust in their ARM to protect them from the HFL, or do they straight Dodge, losing the chance to hit back. Additionally, that pairing of actions from “Calvin and Hobbes” (to use the names from N2) is quite nice for forcing opponents into less than fun options, giving you that chance to move up and make life difficult for them. I’ve even found success using the enemy’s Smoke (if they’ve used a Special Dodge) to their detriment, moving up under its cover to grab objectives and, if the enemy gets frisky, to try Intuitive Attacks and force them back. It’s quite pleasant.


Overall, while the Auxilia don’t find their way into EVERY list I run, their combination of good weapons in a small points value means they are always a candidate.

CSU

CSU





Barakiel

The Corporate Security Unit is a truly unique unit to NeoTerra. Technically mercenary units that are legal to be fielded in all NCA lists, the CSU are light and flexible bodyguards that bring a unique and unpredictable tool to PanOceania: Metachemistry.


On their face, CSUs are fairly skilled light infantry with a good range of high-tech firepower. The breaker rifle is essentially an Armor Piercing BTS rifle, resolving hits versus halved BTS rather than ARM. This is an advantageous rule, since the overwhelming majority of units in Infinity have inferior BTS values compared to their ARM, and this allows you to keep the CSU as an emergency reaction unit when stopping power is required. The Boarding Shotgun is inexpensive, and is a nice asset for PanOceanian troops who are typically starved for shotgun choices. If you can squeeze this CSU through a gap in your opponent's defenses, you can often score kills against massed opponents.The Nanopulser is perhaps the most useful asset though, allowing the CSU to simply stand guard duty in your Deployment Zone until its services are needed on the attack.


Metachemistry is the wildcard for the CSU. Depending on the outcome of the role, the CSU can evolve from a simple Order provider with decent weapons to a DZ storming assassin or durable line breaker. The vast majority of Metachemistry rolls will not greatly alter the CSU's role, but a few choices are amazing. Enhanced Mobility, Super Jump and Climbing Plus are certainly the most interesting. Each of these options provide the CSU with tremendous Movement variance, allowing for rapid assaults or attacks from unexpected quarters. These choices transform the CSU into a rapid flanker. Dogged and No Wound Incapacitation make the CSU a more tenacious assault or defense piece, allowing for scrappy defense via Suppressive Fire or the ability to press an attack thanks to the added durability.


The other results are more niche, but certainly have their role depending on your opponent and how the game unfolds. Overall, the CSU should be considered a support piece with a small probability of significant impacting the game, rather than a mainstay of your strategy. Invest in them as cheerleaders, but capitalize on their abilities if you find they have the right equipment and Metachemistry result to have a major impact on the game.


















Lazarus0909


The CSU is not a profile I'm actually all that familiar with, but I've recently got a great pair of sculpts for some and I have to say that I find them surprisingly underrated. They certainly won't see the cut in every list, but including them in more "model heavy" NCA lists is a very good idea due to their low cost. On the face of it you've got some fairly typical light infantry stats, but in Pano that still means BS 12, and the trade of ARM to BTS probably doesn't make much difference overall. For the small bump in points over a normal Fusilier though, you get Sixth Sense L1 (always great with a template weapon, as you can delay your ARO to see if opponents do anything but dodge), MetaChemistry (a fantastic if random suite of abilities that definitely dictate how you play this model), and a weapon bump on every profile. Combi rifles might be standard on Fusiliers, but either upgrading them to a Breaker rifle for more punch vs. the majority of models out there or adding a nanopulser is already a pretty big jump in combat capability, which considering the cost, isn't half bad at all.
What I personally find to be the most interesting loadout for the CSU though is also the cheapest, with the Boarding Shotgun + Nanopulser combo certainly grabbing my attention. Even as just a cheerleader option, you've bought yourself some fantastic backfield defense with a pair of close range weapons and Sixth Sense to ensure your precious weak models are that much harder to take by surprise, and that's not a bad upgrade for the tiny price you pay. More importantly though, this model is a fantastic CQB combatant that can really take off with a decent MetaChemistry roll, as you'll notice practically all of the options on that table really benefit a model that wants to get stuck in there. This could be anything from bumping durability (directly, with +1 ARM/+6 BTS/Dogged/NWI, or indirectly for things like immunities, extra PH for dodging or Sixth Sense 2) or by increasing your movement options (8-4 Mov, Super Jump, Climbing+). No matter what you roll then, you’ll end up with a cheap model that plays cheerleader and backfield defense for many games, but has great offensive potential in a pinch that goes far beyond what a typical model in that point-bracket can usually manage.























RFJ


CSUs are unmitigated FUN! Now I have an idea why my Nomad friends love Bakunin... The CSU is not a Morlock, but with their access to the MetaChemistry table, they are a really fun wildcard. The choices are such that the only one I find to be useless is SS Lvl2, but only because the CSU already comes equipped with SS Lvl1. In my local meta, where all flavors of Ariadna are popular, I find a LOT of use out of the Breaker Rifle loadout, since Ariadna’s ARM is generally ok but the BTS is lacking. It gives me a chance to really start eating away at their troops, especially since it’s on a troop that will match most, if not all, of them on BS.


Since I personally favor a direct and aggressive (and yes, foolhardy at times) playstyle, my CSU will go out in my second player turn to whittle away at troops my opponent has brought out to the objectives, especially if I’ve been lucky and gotten a MOV boosting MetaChemistry roll, Again, my favorite weapon is the Breaker Rifle, which often allows me to break down Specialists or Fireteams that have come out. If I needed to save that point and have the BSG, I’ll be looking to see where I can get the most bang for my template buck by trying to find someone bunched up, or to try and flank an HI and use the AP mode to get some wounds off of them. Until that opportunity arises, I’ll try and set up my CSU to to work a flank, ofttimes in conjunction with a Bulleteer.


Fusiliers/Bipandra

Fusiliers




Barakiel


Linked Fusiliers are possibly the single greatest reason to play NeoTerra. Link bonuses, combined with Fusilier's exceptional Ballistic Skill of 12, provide superior firepower for minimal cost. However, Fusiliers excel in a support role as well.


With +1 Burst, Sixth Sense Level 2, and +3 BS, a 5-man link of Fusiliers is a potent gunfighting force. While even the simple Combi Rifle benefits greatly from those bonuses, the Heavy Machine Gun becomes a truly fearsome tool when used to support the operations of other NCA troops. Use this loadout to tackle anything foolish enough to expose itself, including defensive Specialists or even hard-to-hit units, like Camo and TO Camo defensive pieces. By contrast, the missile launcher is a fantastic defensive piece. If you can maximize rangebands or kill off your opponent's best gunfighters, one or two linked missile launchers can rule the table as one of the game's most fearsome AROs. The MULTI Sniper Rifle loadout represents a compromise between the two, providing a nastier ARO than the HMG thanks to Double Action ammunition, but able to outburst the missile launcher if you need active turn Firepower. For players who appreciate balance or flexibility, the MULTI Sniper is a great asset. It's also an ideal tool if you expect very long firelanes or more open tables, since it can outrange any other weapon system in the game. The grenade launcher is more of a niche option, but one that provides unique benefits in the form of speculative fire. If you can advance the Fusilier link within 16 inches of any point on the table, the grenade launcher can hammer that point via Speculative Fire on very respectable 12s, allowing you to break up a strong defensive position or punish grouped-up miniatures. The grenade launcher is therefore a good choice for players who want to attack aggressively with their Fusiliers, or for players who expect a concentrated defense in certain areas of the table, such as Objective Rooms or key take-and-hold consoles.


In their support role, the Fusiliers provide their most critical function. As a group of 5 inexpensive Orders that can hold off light opposition, they're a helpful Order pool to support the rest of your force. With Forward Observers and Paramedics, they can interact with objectives and help provide coverage for Classified Objectives. They also provide a 0 SWC Lieutenant, who can hide safely in the back and lead your force without being exposed unnecessarily to harm's way. Don't let the poor WIP of 12 concern you. The difference between a WIP12 and WIP13 Lieutenant is statistically minor, and the Fusilier does a perfectly adequate job of leading a NeoTerra force if necessary. Perhaps the most useful and unique support role though is the Hacker. Bringing the versatile standard Hacking Device, the Fusilier hacker is an easy way to incorporate Support programs into your force. Use the onboard Repeaters on your Bulleteers or Peacemakers to give them Marksmanship Level 2, and this allows them to cleave through 1-Wound units with Shock Ammunition and elevates them to effective Ballistic Skill 15, thanks to ignoring Partial Cover. They also provide great protection versus enemy Hackers, giving Fairy Dust to your Heavy Infantry and allowing you to concentrate Hacking AROs through your Repeaters. Park one of your Combat Remotes near a key objective, supplement the Fusilier Hacker with a Hexa Killer Hacker and a Swiss Assault Hacker, and watch your opponent try to deal with the nightmare of massed Hacking AROs whenever they wander within range.


My typical Fusilier link team includes a Heavy Machine Gun, Missile Launcher, Hacker/Forward Observer (depending on how badly I need Supportware) and then two standard Fusiliers to help mask who is my Lieutenant. Turn 1, I will focus on stripping my opponent's overwatch/gunfighting pieces as best as possible, maximizing the offensive capabilities of the heavy machine gun, and then switching them over to a defensive/overwatch role once I am confident that most threats to them are gone. Whenever fielding the missile launcher, watch for shots of opportunity that allow you to catch multiple models in the blast. If an opponent is careless, it is sometimes possible to use Palbots, antipersonnel mines, or other non-threatening units/equipment to splash damage on opponents hiding around corners. The biggest threat to Fusiliers are generally via short-range Specialists, such as shotgun wielders, melee Specialists, or direct template threats that manage to get up close and target multiple Fusiliers in a quick barrage of Orders. Such situations can not only gut your Order pool and kill multiple heavy weapon and support pieces, but can leave you in Loss of Lieutenant as well. As such, always try to stagger your Fusilier deployment so that they are not lined up for templates or shotgun blasts. Deploying them across multiple levels and spacing them out as much as possible while still keeping link coherency are good steps. You should also ideally supplement their defense with Auxilia/Auxbots, or Drop Bears from a Black Friar or Bolt. Initially, deploying a Hexa Sniper or Swiss Missile in position where they can "babysit" your Fusiliers in the opening turn is also a good protective measure.


When discussing Fusiliers in NCA, it is also worthwhile to discuss Bipandra. Bipandra is much-maligned, but that does not mean she is useless. In fact, she is quite at home in NeoTerra. Not only does she provide a 6th linkable body, letting you hold onto your 5-man link bonuses for Fusiliers in case they suffer a casualty, but she supports the team well as a Doctor who can pick up link members and keep them fighting.


However, Bipandra's two greatest strengths come from her armament and the apparent redundancy of having both Doctor and Specialist on her profile. In a gunfight, she's absolutely fearsome at short range with that light shotgun. Maxing out at a pretty stunning Ballistic Skill 21, she is a close-range monster. Additionally, since she has two skills that qualify her as a Specialist trooper, she's basically immune to the Intelcom Card effects of certain missions. Many missions allow your opponent to use the Intelcom ability to "steal" the Specialist status of many troopers, preventing them for holding or contesting a key objective. However, since Bipandra is basically a double Specialist, the loss of one of her abilities still means she has another leftover, meaning that she will continue to hold her objective despite Intelcom interference. This makes her very good at assaulting and holding objectives, helping you to score guaranteed points that your opponent might otherwise deny without having to lift a finger.


Overall, Bipandra does not necessarily have a place in every NeoTerra list, but she certainly has her place in missions that demand your Fusiliers get up-close-and-personal with the opposition.




















Lazarus0909


The famous Fusilier link team, this option forms the backbone of the vast majority of NCA setups that don't run a link of bolts (i.e. most of them) and is great source of both cheap orders and heavy weapon firepower for the list. In all honesty I can say that just about every profile has its uses, with weapon options in particular making up a good chunk of SWC expenditure depending on how much you have left after fleshing out the rest of the list. In terms of guns, the HMG serves as a great active turn weapon, the Missile Launcher makes a fantastic ARO, and the Multi-Sniper gives you a bit of capability of both with better range bands overall, so I use 2 of these 3 weapons every time in a different combination depending on what costs allow and the other heavy weapons in my list (e.g. Hexa Sniper, Aquila HMG, Swiss Missile).


To me, only the Grenade Launcher i find it hard to find a place for, and not because the weapon itself has any particular problems but mostly because I find Speculative Fire a touch unreliable. I also prefer to keep the Fusilier link team at arms-length, which tends not to mesh as well with the weapon's shorter range bands. Either way, I find 2 big guns is usually plenty for me, as taking 3+ tends to reduce the allowance too much for the rest of the list and taking only 1 fails to diversify the firepower of the link enough and makes you too limited after losing a crucial model.


The linkteam however is also the gift that keeps on giving, and even after picking up a pair of big guns I usually find a couple of decent specialists is the best way to form a 5 man link (unless I really need to trim the points and use the barebones profile instead). The Forward Observer profile in particular is the stand-out option for being both cheap and having the utility of repeaters, but the Paramedic is a half-way decent option if you want specialist diversity for your classifieds (and especially if you can't bring a Doctor along for the ride).


The hacker profile got some serious utility buffs since HSN3 in being able to do supportware from the link, which means that even with lousy WIP and BTS, he can both allow you to take and support your REMs quite nicely. However, don't forget that with getting Sixth Sense Level 2 from the link bonus, being able to use a delayed Hacking ARO in the ZoC of a Repeater still gives you potential for nasty unopposed rolls. So even if the Hacker is a touch expensive, you get a lot of utility to boot. Finally, the Lt option I would say is perhaps the most common "default" Lt option in NCA, being the cheapest option by far, having the defensive benefits of the link, and generally hanging back with a few similar looking models giving him some survivability, even if his stats aren't anything to be proud of.


Finally, I wanted to talk about Bipandra, who I feel belongs in this section with the Fusilier link as one of the models I consider in the "specialist" slot should points allow. Bipandra has always been a very contraversial choice among NCA players, both for her high points cost (largely inflated by a few token stat bumps) and the bizarre 0.5 SWC, but I definitely fall on the side of liking her if I have room. Despite the additional costs incurred in bringing her, the fact that she has one less order compared to a list with say, a Trauma Doc + bare Fusilier, I find that this is often mitigated by the fact that she is far more likely to actually save orders by being closer to the right place at the right time as she follows the link around to objectives or as they line up enemy models to shoot.


In particular, the light shotgun she brings to the link is also not something to be ignored, as hitting people with B3 BS 21 shots in a good range band is nothing to joke about and this definitely adds some nice short range protection for a link that tends to otherwise have much more of a long range focus. The other crucial point to mention is that taking her lets you run a "6th" Fusilier (useful if you want to leave your Lt somewhere far from the link, or want to reform after a casualty at 5 members again), and while Bipandra might not be the best doctor in the game, her competition in NCA is pretty laughable as well. Therefore, I'd argue that if you can find the 0.5 SWC (seriously, that has to be fixed!) and find your Trauma Docs either unreliable or too out of position to get the job done, give her some thought and consideration for your link.








































RFJ


Well, it’s a given that Fusiliers are going to be your go-to Fireteam for NCA, especially given how unimpressed most folks are with Bolts. That’s fine by me, not because of any particular animosity towards Bolts, but rather because I like other big toys and a Fusilier Fireteam gives me the flexibility to take those big toys.


We’ve got the stats printed above, and while Fusiliers are nothing TOO special, I do like having that PanO BS+1 that we always get compared to other faction’s line infantry. It’s pretty nice because it means that, especially with the 5 man Fireteam, you’re going to have great target numbers in your FtF rolls. Since I almost always run them as my Fireteam, let’s look at what is, for me, a typical composition.


First and foremost, the Missile Launcher. If I take a Fusilier Fireteam without one, my local meta usually rings my wife to let her know that I’m ill, and that she needs to come and get from the game store! I’ll typically put in a LEAST one other SWC choice, most often the HMG. The +1B in ARO makes it nice, and I value it over the MULTI Sniper Rifle because of the lower SWC. I struggle to find a place for either the LGL or that MSR, just because they don’t fit me and my playstyle. They always just feel “off”. A Hacker is a common sight, partially to be a Hacker, partially to be a Specialist, and partially to let me bring REMs. Of course, as I’ll mention farther on with Hexas, I oftimes forget that I HAVE a Hacker, and he gets underused… especially as I’ve usually taken REMs as well.  *sad face* As for the standard Combi option, it’s really best if you’re just looking for a way to hide your Fusi Lt., which is, for me, a common choice. Generally though, if you can’t find a way to get those 2 points for an FO or Paramedic, you’ve got bigger problems.


The FO and the Paramedic are my standard options to fill out the Fireteam, considering that they’re cheap specialists, and the Flash Pulse on the FO comes in quite handy. Epecially since, as I’ve mentioned in other places, there’s a decent amount of Ariadna floating around my local meta, and Flash Pulse is awesome against low BTS. One of the things that makes the FO so attractive, to me at least, is that he helps you have some good up close AROs, that add variety beyond just shooting. Yes, I will likely have the HMG and ML shoot, but that Flash Pulse, and the possibility of putting the enemy trooper into the Stunned state, is great. If they’re visible, and I can Stun them, then they’re paralyzed, unable to do anything for fear of triggering additional AROs, and are totally tied up. Just another fun thought!

Going to the last bit of the title Bipandra... why? She’s .5 SWC, and I’m almost always starved for SWC, so, no. Her extra WIP+1 isn’t worth it, nor is really having a Doctor in a Fireteam. Now, her MINI sees the table an awful lot of the time, because that Medikit model is perfect for the Fusi Paramedic.


Now that we’ve BUILT the Fusi Fireteam, how do we use it? Well, for me at least, I’ll oftimes use it as a defensive bulwark, with the HMG and ML on the frontline (behind cover and ready to take potshots at anyone who comes up in ARO), and the other three members prone, (outside of Template range, but within Coherency). In a pinch, I might move them up, but generally they only get orders in my Active turn to set up my Reactive turn. I understand that some folks have good offensive Fireteams, but that doesn’t suit my style.  They’re going to be that bulwark, the breakwater the enemy wastes themselves against.  This is where my Hacker usually manages to earn their keep, since I (typically) will remember those REMs Repeaters in the Reactive, and use them to try and ward off enemy Hackers.  So, again, I’m largely using that Fireteam as a defensive piece, rather than offensive.  I may be (and likely am) wrong, but that’s the way I roll.


Devas

Devas




Barakiel


On loan from the ALEPH faction, Devas are another unique asset that are an available choice for the NCA sectorial. Truly superhuman, Devas boast superior durability, stats and a broad range of flexible loadouts for a reasonable cost. With their Willpower 15, they're excellent Hackers and Lieutenants. Their Hacker presents a durable and capable Standard Hacking Device that can assist other units with Supportware, as well as grabbing objectives with unparalleled reliability by PanOceania standards. As a Lieutenant, the Devas can bring a Devabot to protect itself with a heavy flamethrower, or can provide utility and support via the Sensor role. The Lieutenant profiles tend to stand out quite easily to your opponent, so make sure you maximize use of Auxbots, Drop Bears, linked troops, or Hidden Deployment choices to help protect your highly capable Lieutenant and keep them safe. In such situations, it can often be useful to double up on the same loadout to help mask which unit is your actual Lieutenant. This is a great step to keep your opponent guessing, while still letting you leverage the flexible nature of the Deva.


The Deva + Devabot profile functions much like a more elite Auxilia, while the Sensor profile is great for exposing Camouflage troops. Remember that the Sensor sweep can also reveal hostile units in Hidden Deployment. If you think a hostile infiltrator may be lurking near an objective waiting to reveal, it can often be worthwhile to attempt the Sensor Sweep and get the drop on them in your own turn. Similarly, the Sensor profile pairs well with Pathfinder or Fugazi Remotes with Sniffers to help reveal huge swathes of the table and restrict the capabilities of Camouflage troops. Since Sniffer extends the range of Sensor and also prevents units from re-entering the Camo state, it's a great asset if you're operating in dense, high-traffic areas of the table where you expect a lot of confrontation.


In addition to leadership and support, the Deva's a fantastic combatant. The MSV2/Spitfire loadout is an incredible unit for its cost, providing more mobility and durability than the Black Friar, while being cheaper and easier to incorporate into a list than an Aquila. This is often a standard unit for many NeoTerra players, and provides a strong and flexible gunfighter that can help even the odds versus Camo, TO Camo and ODD-heavy opponents.


The greatest risk to Devas, of course, are weapons that inflict multiple Wounds or include the Shock effect. No Wound Incapacitation is a great ability, but it can be bypassed by many effects in the game. Always treat your Deva as a precious commodity, especially on tables where antipersonnel mines, Multi Rifles or Viral Ammunition are making an appearance.





















Lazarus0909


Devas are a really nice utility piece in NCA, bringing a decent mix of MI stats and costs but adding the much rarer benefits of No Wound Incapacitation (NWI), a Nanopulser and the 4-4 MOV that MI don't typically have access to. This makes them play more like a "pocket HI" than a LI, trading off the ARM and “real” wound of an HI choice but for a much smaller pricetag. Probably the most notable stat though is their fantastic WIP 15, which makes the last 3 Lieutenant loadouts an understandably popular option, and even more so when you notice that they don't pay any additional points or SWC compared to their non-lieutenant equivalents.


The base Lt profile isn't much to look at when you consider that for just one point more you can get Sensor. Camo is a common enemy in most games of Infinity, and this upgrade is particularly worth it on the Lt option as you can do it almost "for free", assuming you have a Fugazi or Pathfinder get a couple of Sniffers out there first. The other decent option out there is to take the Devabot instead, who is identical to an Auxbot in every way but Silhouette (2), and again it makes a decent use of the Lt order (assuming something is close enough to cook!) without risking the safety of your Lt.


The Hacker is another really great loadout to make use of that great WIP. It's a little expensive for sure, but high WIP specialists in Pano are extremely rare. On top of that, the NWI is doubly useful for giving added insurance in many hacking duels (things like Trinity aside) or making a dash to an objective where you can't help but take an ARO on the way over first. Lastly, the Spitfire is a fantastic profile, bringing you an incredible gun and MSV2 both for a bargain cost. In terms of MSV2 gunfighters, NCA only has the Black Friar as a competitor, but the Deva trades his overall utility and cost for a significant edge in terms of burst, speed, and durability. The other popular option for dealing with Camo, ODD, and so on of course is the Aquila, and while the Aquila has the Deva beaten in just about every important metric, it costs nearly twice as much to do so (in fact, you can run 2x Deva Spitfire for only 4 points more than an Aquila Spitfire). This makes this Deva loadout a very popular model for dealing with enemy camo models without breaking the bank, or can even let you "double down" on capabilities by combining both options together for a brutal skew.
























RFJ


Devas, for me, at least, have three primary loadouts:  Hacker, MSV2 Spitfire, and +Devabot.  I generally don’t have much use for the Sensor loadout, since if I want Sensor, I’ve usually taken the cheaper and faster (yes, I know the WIP is lower) Pathfinder, maybe supplemented with a Fugazi.  The plain profile doesn’t have much use, for me, since for the same cost I could swap in a pair of Fusi FOs.  The Lts are nice options, but, again, add little more for me than the regular profiles with the same loadouts.  If only there was an FO loadout…


The Devabot option, especially if it’s on your Lt., is interesting, since it gives the same advantages as an Auxilia, but on a more durable platform.  Truth be told, if it DID have an FO option, it would be an autoinclude, or if it had Drakios or Scylla’s Devabots.


The Hacker I enjoy because it gives my a high WIP Specialist, so I can feel very confident that they’ll be able to accomplish any of the Objectives in their wheelhouse, and with the NWI, survive it.  The biggest problem I tend to run into (at least in my meta) is the wonderful abundance of Shock, which does cut down on the utility of the NWI.  I won’t go too deeply into the Spitfire MSV2, because he has MI competition for his role in the Black Friar, who gives you a good set of advantages over the Deva.  However, if you KNOW that your opponent will have a good amount of Camo/ODD, that MSV2 for 1SWC is attractive, since it gives you a good hunter for a low cost, one that’s mobile, and especially, if you can get in Cover for your shots, has a decent ARM, even against AP.  I would still likely take an Aquila over him as a long range piece, since, well, the Aquila is the Aquila, but if you’re looking at a TAG list, the Deva gives you much of the same utility, while freeing up points and SWC for the big boys.


Hexas

Hexas




Barakiel


These are simply brilliant. Though some players dislike their lack of Infiltration or additional rules, Hexas have virtually zero rules bloat which helps to keep them very cheap. Of course, TO Camouflage is their greatest asset. Keep them hidden and safe until they are needed, then reveal them to fulfill whatever role you need. The MULTI Sniper model is a tremendous defensive unit. Keep her lurking in a strong vantage point until an opponent maneuvers into range, ideally when they are beyond Partial Cover and when the opponent has few Orders left with which to retaliate. Take the shot, relying on extreme range bands and TO Camo to protect the Hexa, and kill off your opponent's models in their own turn. Of course, careful judgement should always be applied when revealing your TO Camo units. Beware an opponent with MSV or long-range gunfighters waiting close at hand, and don't tackle an opponent who has an easy chance of beat you in return. The advantage of Hidden Deployment isn't taking AROs at the first thing that walks into range, but rather the ability to pick and choose the best moment for your AROs.


The Spitfire is a similar choice. Keep this model waiting for the right opportunity, then run him into the midfield to hammer vulnerable targets or even use the Spitfire's great range band to attack threats within the opponent's DZ. TO Camo, Surprise Shot and Burst 4 provide an amazing platform for picking off vulnerable single wound opponents. Use the Marker state for running the Spitfire Hexa between buildings, crossing open fire lanes, or bypassing enemy template wielders in order to create the best odds for yourself. In particular, watch out for antipersonnel mines (the marker state provides no protection versus mines) as well as high Ballistic Skill opposition with link bonuses or using Suppressive Fire. The Hexa can tackle tough opposition, but is always vulnerable to an unlucky crit or a lurking template weapon, so always try to protect your investment.


Perhaps the most important and valuable profile the Hexa offers is the Killer Hacker profile. The Killer Hacker, though highly limited in application, is extremely good at what it does: killing enemy Hackers for cheap. NeoTerra, perhaps more than any other force in Infinity, is full of Hackable targets. Auxbots, Bulleteers, Pathfinders, piles of Heavy Infantry... these are all NeoTerra staples that will struggle to maneuver against concentrated enemy Hacking networks. The Hexa Killer Hacker solves this issue by pairing lethal offensive Hacking programs with the flexibility and lethality of the Camo state. Run your Bulleteer around the table killing things. An enemy Assault Hacker reveals? No problem, have your Hexa use the Bulleteer's onboard Repeater to attack from across the table, combining Surprise Shot with Redrum to stack negative Willpower modifiers and nuke your opponent with a lethal Damage 16 attack. Similarly, if your Swiss Guard or Uhlan survives a successful attack run and pulls back to safety, park the Hexa nearby to protect your Hackable VIP and help keep opponents at bay.


Killer Hacking Devices (KHD) also provide Impersonation. Worried about enemy antipersonnel mines? Concerned that enemy Sensor units will reveal you too quickly? Use Cybermask to become an Impersonator, a de facto enemy miniature, and walk past their own Sensor or antipersonnel minefields without fear of Discovery. This makes the Hexa KHD a wonderfully flexible objective runner, able to bypass virtually any defense and reach an objective without needing to fire a shot. Since NCA cannot rely on Smoke Grenades for mobility and objective-running, the combination of Impersonation and TO Camouflage provides a high-tech alternative.


The only downside to the KHD is that you are now making your Hexa vulnerable to enemy Hackers. While the Hexa normally wouldn't be affected by standard Hacking programs, carrying around a KHD makes the Hexa fair game for AROs or targeted attacks that normally wouldn't affect a standard Hexa. In short - always bear in mind what you're exposing your Hexa to as you maneuver.





















Lazarus0909


A barebones TO unit, Hexas appear pretty simple on the surface but are surprisingly nuanced for their cost. Hexas make their way into a lot of my NCA lists, and I think all the profiles have some merit. The most notable thing about Hexas vs. a lot of other TO models in this game is that they are incredibly cheap, with their cost being kept down by lacking things like Infiltration, Mines, or other extras, which makes them very lean profiles on the whole. This also means that getting mileage out of Hexas means taking a single thing and focusing on it very well, as they won't have the sheer versatility of other TO model options, but equally, they won't be paying for it either.


That being said, I think it's only really worth taking the barebones combi option if you really need the points, as only paying 3 more to upgrade to a Killer Hacker is definitely worth it to get one of the most useful Hexa loadouts. Killer Hacking Devices (KHDs) are fantastic in HSN3 for dealing with all kinds of nastiness, but when you factor in that you've also got TO (to keep you hidden and completely safe until ready to strike), a whole slew of repeaters (via many NCA remotes), and that it is the only KHD in Pano, this Hexa profile is easy to see as a clear favorite. 3 points to upgrade a basic Hexa buys you a lot of capability, and being a scoring TO model for that cheap (and crucially, 0 SWC) is an excellent starting point.


If you have spare SWC then, the other Hexa options all have various merits. The sniper is a very close second place for me, edged out only by the KHD's unbeatable cost. A long range weapon to cover a lane that an opponent didn't know you were watching is incredibly useful, and even more so if you wait to time your moment well, as most opponents either have to move more cautiously around the table to avoid AROs or take risks that you can use to your advantage. Likewise, the Spitfire is an incredibly cheap gunfighting platform for what it does, giving you the winning combination of high burst + great defensive modifiers, and of course the ability to go into suppressing fire from a dominant midfield position (juicy -12 mods abound!). This profile I feel is particularly effective as a counter-attacking piece, used to shore up a weak flank with a strong active turn or to punish an opponent who overextended something crucial and is now going to let you retake the valuable midfield. Really the only option I usually don't run with a Hexa anymore is the regular hacking device. This is very much the "jack of all trades" option, as the KHD has definitely edged out the utility of being a TO specialist for me, whereas regular hacking devices are available on plenty of other platforms in NCA, such as the Fusilier (Supportware) or on the Deva (better hacking stats overall).





















RFJ


Hexas are, by far, my favorite unit in NCA. Yes, some of the HI we’ll get to later might have bigger and badder tricks, but I personally feel that few units give you more bang for your buck. Hexas are no frills killers. They don’t bother with heavy ARM and have nothing fancy beyond their wonderfully nasty CH:TO Camo. Their stats are nice, especially the fact that they have WIP13 and two relatively inexpensive profiles that are specialists. The Combi rifle load out gets no love, as the KHD is only three points more expensive and is BETTER, in every appreciable way. Yes, the KHD exposes you to return fire on your Hacking Attacks, but with you above average WIP (for PanO), and the Surprise Shot coming out of the TO Camo state, you’re looking at putting ANYONE below your WIP. If you use a program like Redrum, you’re going to have a strong chance of either 1) having a better target than your opponent or 2) forcing them out of an offensive program and into a defensive program. Since most NCA lists are going to be seeing at least one REM with a Repeater in them, you have an opportunity to keep your opponent’s Hackers on their toes and have a fairly wide net to blast away with. I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of them, and have had Hexa KHDs go toe-to-toe with Custodiers and Interventors. Now, no BTS IS a bit of a drawback, but you roll with what you have, rather than worry about what you don’t.


The regular HD Hexa doesn’t find much use for me anymore, since first I’m too lazy to run any of the Gadget Programs, and I like to shoot things more than Hack them, so I don’t have much use for him. The last two options from the Hexas are the MSR and the Spitfire, and of the two, I’ll usually be running that Spitfire.  I like to use him to get behind enemies, or catch (at least) a pair of targets coming out of TO Camo.  Now, to get the best out of the Surprise Shot, I’m often only getting that -9 MOD, rather than a max -12, but it’s still a good trade off.  Regarding the MSR, I will take her (sometimes) if I can be fairly sure that the opponent won’t have much MSV, so that I can get the maximum benefit from her concealment.


So, long story short, one profile I don’t take (Combi), two I LOVE (KHD and Spitfire) and two that I use in specific situations (MSR and HD).


Locusts

Locusts




Barakiel


The latest addition to the NCA arsenal, the Locust provides PanOceania with a precious commodity: another specialized Infiltrator. Though not a traditional Camo Infiltrator, the Locust is still a skilled gunfighter thanks to her ODD. For NeoTerra, she's the only Infiltrator available, and therefore provides highly valuable flexibility for the otherwise-static NCA force. She also provides a number of very unique weapon and equipment options, each of which are wildly different from the other and gives the Locust a broad range of midfield combat options to choose from.


The main thing to note about the Locust is that its role and intended prey will vary tremendously based on the loadout you choose. Regardless though, each profile retains some basic similarities. The notable advantages are the Optical Disruption Device, Infiltration and Stealth. This makes the Locust very adept at maneuvering around the midfield, positioning itself for alpha strikes or objective grabbing, and avoiding triggering enemy Hacking/Change Facing AROs until she's ready to act.


Note though that the Optical Disruption Device, while making the Locust a superior gunfighter, limits its mobility since it cannot maneuver as a Marker. This means that crossing open gaps or closing distance with the enemy is always going to prompt a dangerous ARO, as opposed to Camouflage Tokens that can maneuver with more impunity. It also means you must be extremely cautious when deploying the Locust, because you cannot rely on Marker status or Hidden Deployment as protection. As a result, support the locust with strong overwatch units to help prevent opponents from storming her on Turn 1 before she gets a chance to act. The Swiss Missile or Hexa Sniper are ideal candidates, though the Total Reaction Sierrabot and linked Fusiliers can also serve as a deterrent.


For the profiles themselves, the first two loadouts are remarkably similar, differing only in the choice of close combat weapon. Note that CC20, while still a respectable score, doesn't quality the Locust as a dedicated Close Combat Specialist. Without any level or Martial Arts or the ability to use Surprise Attack, I would not commit to the Locust to melee voluntarily. I view the Locust's CC score as more of a defensive option.

The breaker rifle is a fine weapon. Against most opponents it will act like a harder hitting Combi Rifle, since most miniatures lack BTS. Pair this unit with a Sensor choice like the Deva or Pathfinder to hunt midfield targets, using the Breaker Rifle's relative range to stay away from mines or direct template wielders. Breaker ammunition is also good against ultra-hard targets like Heavy Infantry or TAGs, especially if you can flank them. The D-Charges are also an interesting point. They allow you to achieve the Sabotage Classified objective with ease if you're playing an ITS mission, especially since the Locust can often deploy on or near the terrain piece you wish to Sabotage. Unlike most PanO units though, the Locust is also a reasonable candidate for using D-Charges in close combat. I already mentioned that the Locust is not a great melee combatant, which still holds true, unless the opponent will not get an ARO in response. If an opponent is mobilized, whether it is through Hacking, the Locked State, E/M ammunition, etc., then D-Charges in close combat are a very reliable, potent, hard-hitting way to remove these pieces efficiently. If you can get the jump on a rampaging TAG or Hac Tao, then the Locust can sometimes save you valuable Orders by going for the D-Charge option.


The last major appeal of the Breaker loadout is Suppressive Fire. A Locust in Partial Cover with Suppressive Fire up is at a staggering -12 to be hit, giving its a strong edge versus the majority of opposition. Obviously this application will be limited if an opponent has MSV, smoke, templates or a big range advantage, but a Locust that's Suppressing can easily hold most opposition at bay.


The Boarding Shotgun/Drop Bear profile is especially popular. Drop Bears are one of NeoTerra's unique technological assets, but they're limited to very few platforms. With the Locust, thanks to starting up the field, you can use Drop Bears in a more aggressive and dynamic role. Seal off objectives with a minefield on Turn 1 before opponents have a chance to leave their deployment zone. You can also use powerhouse gunfighters to clear enemy defensive units out of the way, giving the Locust a lane to advance through and wreak havoc in the enemy Deployment Zone. Drop Bears can be placed at corners before the Locust swings around them to gunfight, forcing the enemy to Dodge or be auto-hit by the exploding Mine as they declare their ARO.


Note that the Locust's Physicality is good enough to toss Drop Bears with great reliability, but it isn't infallible. Always consider whether it's necessary to attempt to toss the Bear, or whether it's acceptable to just deploy it Base-to-Base like an ordinary antipersonnel mine, with no chance of failure. Few things are worse than wasting all of your Drop Bears on failed throwing attempts.


Be aware of the limitations of the boarding shotgun as well. The "sweet spot" of the shotgun's rangeband (8 inches) puts the Locust in harm's way for a huge multitude of defensive weaponry. Enemy mines, direct template weapons (both large and small templates), hostile shotguns, and even the lowly pistol all give your opponents options for respectable AROs at short range. Do your best to exploit the Locust's Stealth to outmaneuver opponents, preventing them from using Change Facing to hopefully catch them in the back or caught unaware.

The Assault Hacker profile stands out simply because it's NeoTerra's only Infiltrating Specialist.  The uses of the Assault profile are relatively straightforward: it remains a versatile gunfighter, can interact with objectives in ITS play, and can use the Assault Hacking Device to interfere with Hackable targets using the full range of programs available to that device.  Once again, the lack of Marker state means this profile must be used very conservatively.  Use the Stealth of the Locust to bypass hostile Repeaters and Hacking threats in the active turn, and be aware of Killer Hacking Devices which will be the greatest danger to this profile.


Possible the most unique profile for the Locust is the Marksmanship Rifle.  The effective rangebands of his weapon, when combined with Marksmanship Level 1, provide a great mid-range platform for swatting down enemy warbands or eradicating long-range ARO troops who are vulnerable at short and medium ranges.  Against opponents with a lot of Impetuous troops, keep this Locust as your reserve drop and then use its positioning to "drag" Impetuous units in an unexpected direction.  This can skew their Movement dramatically, either carrying them away from the direction they were intended to go or luring into the Locust's Line of Fire where Shock can eradicate even Dogged troops.  Note that Marksmanship Level 1 is a voluntary ability, making it an improvement over a Marksman Rifle with inbuilt Shock.  This means that if you run into troops that gain specialized survivability versus Shock such as NeoTerra Bolts, you can opt not to fire Shock ammunition and avoid triggering their improved defense.


While Locusts are a far cry from being "mandatory" in a NeoTerra list, they do provide some unique flexible choices.  My personal suggestion is to avoid treating them as typical "disposable" Camo Infiltrators, instead using them as specialized high-cost elite units who come with some increased Order efficiency by deploying a little ways up the table.  If you happen to go first, don't be afraid to push the Locusts hard into the enemy table half and reap a bodycount, but they are worth using conservatively if your opponent will be the one going first.


Lazarus0909


One of the new entries for NCA since HSN3, Locusts are an expensive but unique profile that bring several interesting capabilities to the table. Like a number of NCA choices, Locusts come with a fantastic -6 mod via ODD, and combined with decent weapons and a midfield position, this can make them fabulously annoying gunfighters for their cost. Locusts are unique for NCA as the only infiltrator (although they can be backed up with Peacemakers who have Mechanized Deployment), and for the profiles with D-Charges, this makes them excellent for accomplishing the Sabotage objective or any other scenarios that require destroying scenery. They are also one of the few to have decent melee, Multi-terrain (a life-saver in scenarios like Rescue!) and have various other unique equipment options.


The first 2 loadouts are near identical (with a difference in their melee weapon), but like the Hexa I feel that immediately you should be looking to upgrade to the Hacking option unless you really can't afford the points/SWC. As we've seen, NCA has 0 infiltrating specialists, and the ability to score right away on many scenarios is a really strong capability that I wouldn't overlook in a hurry. This strength only gets amplified when we consider the advantages of upfield Assault Hackers being able to at least slow down a HI/TAG rampage, and combined with Peacemakers, this can make a really strong hacking "net" while the two mutually support each other in combat. Finally, because the Locust has Stealth, this is a great feature for moving your Hacker past enemy repeaters or other hackers if it needs to, a luxury which many other hacking options lack.


The Boarding Shotgun is another great loadout, sadly giving up the D-Charges but picking up both Grenades and Drop Bears instead. This combination is amazing for giving other infiltrators in the midfield a hard time (Speculative Fire even letting you clear a few rooftops) and clearing corridors, but you can also use the last two weapons to slow an opponent's advance out of their deployment zone or even threaten cheerleaders with a well placed throw. Boarding Shotguns are great weapons to have in the midfield, and if you go first you can buy yourself much needed breathing room by clearing or contesting the scenarios from opposing scoring models, or simply keep opponents from advancing too close to your other big guns hiding in the backfield. Lastly, the Shock (Marksmanship Lvl 1) Marksman rifle is an amazing midfield "sniper", who trades some of the versatility of the other loadouts for pure gunfighting potential. 8-24" range bands are excellent to bully more common rifle (0-16) and HMG (16-32) ideal range bands in their "blind spots", but stacking ODD on top of that means that you can often be rolling straight dice while enemies have to deal with -9 or even -12 modifiers in turn.


Overall then, Locusts bring some very unique capabilities to NCA and some midfield capability which is often lacking, but the high cost and lack of marker state or other infiltrators to support them means they will take some careful play to get the most out of without simply being killed. This makes them a strong choice, but certainly not one for every list.


RFJ


I…  LIKE…  LOCUSTS!!!  NCA has an Infiltrator, and with a SPECIALIST OPTION TO BOOT!!!  So, the pair of Breaker Combi loadouts, differing in CCW, are nice.  The high CC attribute, while lacking any sort of MA, is kind of odd, but with the Stealth there’s a strong probability that you can sneak up on a “standard” troop and stand a good chance of putting them down without them being able to, well, do anything about it.  The PH and BS are standard, but having that WIP bump is nice, especially on the AHD version.  Finally, for NCA, an option to get a Specialist started up the board, and one with an excellent weapon, as well as ODD to keep him from getting, well, shot to pieces.


As mentioned with the CSU, the Breaker Combi is, to me, worth it’s weight in gold in my meta, with the proliferation of Ariadna.  The AHD is also a great option, since you’ve got a breakwater unit, halfway up the table, on a decent WIP, able to stall or at the very least re-route, many of your opponent’s heavy hitters that don’t want to get locked down.  I’ve enjoyed him going toe-to-toe with a Swiss Guard AHD, since they’re both on the same WIP, and it kept the Swiss Guard from being able to run amok.


One profile that I haven’t run yet, but that intrigues me, is the Marksman Rifle profile, with the accompanying Marksmanship Lvl1, giving the Locust Shock effects on his shots…  so, sitting at midfield…  with ODD…  in Cover…  in Suppressive Fire…  putting your enemy at -12, before they come back with any positive MODs, and hitting on B3 12s.  That, to me, is a VERY tasty proposition.


However, since they’re new(ish), I’ve not gotten a full run out of them, so I’ll have to report back and let you know what I think as I get more games with them under my belt.


Machinist

Machinist




Barakiel


The Machinist is a straightforward, no-frills Engineer. However, with BS12 and a Combi Rifle, the Machinist is also capable of light skirmishing or last-ditch efforts to reach a forward objective. D-Charges allows for the the Sabotage Classified objective, but the low CC of the Machinist makes it unlikely that you will ever want to use those D-Charges in Close Combat. The Machinist's primary role, of course, is to keep NCA units patched up and functional. With the huge concentration of REMs and TAGs available to NCA, the Machinist can play a crucial role in repair. Similarly, if your meta regularly encounters Adhesive or E/M ammunition, the Machinist can provide useful support in dealing with that as well. Keep him protected in your backline, with a palbot to increase speed and coverage, and the Machinist can cheerlead in safety until required. Don't forget the use of Command Tokens when fixing up Remote Presence units; those rerolls make a key difference, and you can continue attempting re-rolls as long as you have Command Tokens to spend.


Lazarus0909


The standard Pano engineer, there really isn't much to say specifically about the Machinist other than the fact that he's pretty much identical to most faction's line trooper engineers with the exception of having above average shooting (BS 12) and below average WIP (again, 12). This can make him frustratingly inept at his job sometimes (or soak up command tokens on rerolls...), but as he is literally the only engineer option in NCA, he gets included a lot even if only to round out the options for completing classified objectives. Indeed, not only is he the only profile that can complete Test Run or Retro-Engineering, but he is also one of only 2 profiles with D-Charges (the other being the Locust, who costs a LOT more) and his ability to detonate them in relative safety for the Sabotage objective leaves him with a pretty good role to play. The thing is though, when you consider that NCA actually has a decent array of REM options (higher AVA than many in Vanilla or other sectorials) and a pair of pretty good TAGs, the Machinist really cements his place in most 300 point lists.


Repairing may not exactly be the most reliable thing in the game with a Machinist, but if you're running any combination of TAG centric builds, multiple TR bots (the Sierra), or mass combat REMs (with Peacemakers, Bulleteers, Pathfinders and of course Auxbots all being solid options in NCA lists) then you're not going to make a list in a hurry without it. The only real question mark for me is when you consider whether or not to take a Palbot. This really ups the board presence on your Machinist for a miniscule cost, but unfortunately prohibits the Machinist from taking part in coordinated orders. For me, this actually means I'm less keen on servant assistants than I used to be, as being able to move a specialist upfield and get those aforementioned classifieds while moving other guys around is a big plus, and lets me reduce the number of "real orders" spent on this model.


RFJ


My Machinists tend to lurk in a corner, running their G:Servant Palbots up the board, keeping close tabs on a TAG, or maybe a group of REMs.  D-Charges sometimes come in handy, and in many missions, my Machinist will go on a “hell bent for leather” charge for a last objective or two.  Generally speaking, if my Machinist is using his Combi, something has gone TERRIBLY wrong, and I praying, rather than expecting, something good will happen...


Trauma Doc

Trauma Doc




Barakiel


Trauma Docs are very comfortable sitting in support Order pools, contributing orders to another unit until they're needed. Like the Machinist, the Trauma Doc is a no-frills support unit. She is much maligned for her WIP12, but don't forget to use those re-rolls via command tokens when the situations calls for it. Deploy her near your defensive Specialists, such as a Fusilier link, and she can patch them up and get them back in the fight. Like with any units attempting to heal, it's critical to balance the Orders spent healing with the benefit of recovering a unit. If you spend half your Order pool getting someone back on your feet, you were probably better off leaving that unit Unconscious.


Lazarus0909


Like the Machinist, the Trauma Doc is pretty much a bare-bones doctor option, who again comes with above average BS and below average doctoring ability. You’ll often take both, but depending on the composition of your build, the Trauma Doc can be more or less important than the Machinist based on your ratio of living models vs. Remote Presence pieces. The extra layer of complexity though is that she is arguably less essential for Classified objectives if you ever need to make the cut. Only Innoculation and Experimental Drug require taking the Doc, and the fact that both Fusilier Paramedics and Bipandra exist as viable alternatives for both of these (where the Machinist has less competition) means that you certainly aren't as forced to take her. Either way, I strongly recommend having at least one doctoring option in every list regardless. In general, the Trauma Doc definitely outperforms the Fusilier Paramedic on every measurable metric for only two points more, but she also cannot be part of the link (though that opens up the Palbot option) which has its own considerations as discussed above.


In terms of her role as a doctor, the lack of WIP can make the actual specialist role frustrating, and this has given the Trauma Doc her fearsome reputation for perhaps killing more Pano models than she ever saves. While the math definitely doesn't support this notion (especially when command tokens are involved), the WIP 12 is certainly a sore spot and often leads to much grumbling about this model. My overall assessment is that you're probably taking one doctor regardless for objectives and all around utility, and most of the time that means running the Trauma Doc unless you need to shave off points (use the Paramedic) or have some spare (Bipandra). However, be prepared for an absolute love/hate relationship with this model, as she either saves a crucial model from the brink of death...or kills your godlike Swiss Guard even with 3 rerolls after a frustrating expenditure of command tokens. Again, just like the Machinist, I've largely ceased using the Palbot with this model in favor of just lumping her in with coordinated orders, but it's still an option if you have multiple spread out pieces that might need saving or you have plenty of orders in your build.





















RFJ


Trauma Doc. Let it be said, the most lethal model in the entire PanOceanian arsenal. It’s jokingly said that if/when I succeed on a Doctor roll with her, I just win the game, no ifs, ands or buts. Generally, whether I’ve taken her or the Machinist will depend less on whether my list has troopers or REMs/TAGs, and more on what the mission is, and whether or not I’ll get a bonus from using a Doctor. I don’t really look at her as being a 14 point model, but rather as a 17 point model since I almost always include a Palbot with her. The Trauma Doc will usually hang out with my Fireteam, working to make sure they stay up, and the Palbot will roam around, taking care of whomever needs to be taken care of. Other times, that PalBot will be glued to my Aquila and take care of him, but, again, I look at them as a pair. I MAY at times use the Trauma Doc to snag an objective, but generally only in the last Player Turn... if it comes to that. The grumbling about her low WIP I get, but, hey, this is PanO. We don’t heal, we recover Cubes and your insurance takes care of the rest.

Warcor

Warcor




Barakiel


For 3 points, the Warcor is a fantastic purchase. Use that Flash Pulse as an emergency ARO, or go for Discover Attempts on a lurking Camo or Impersonation token. Warcors are especially useful in the last turn of a hard-fought game, where they can slow an enemy Specialist for a turn and mean the difference between victory and defeat. The Aerocam, functions as a 360 visor in game, and is a useful choice for watching the Warcors back and turning the Warcar into a poor man's defensive turret. 6th Sense Level 1 is good if you anticipate a lot of Camo or Close Combat Specialists who may stack modifiers or seek to outmaneuver you at short range. Either way though, if you find yourself with 3 points to spend and you've already bought Palbots, you can't go wrong with a Warcor. I especially like them as a chance to include a fun miniature in the game that might not otherwise make an appearance.






















Lazarus0909


Most people are pretty familiar with Warcors in just about every faction and sectorial, and their usefulness in NCA certainly doesn't stop here. When you consider that NCA is often running towards the elite end of the spectrum (12-14 orders), every single order you have is precious, and so having a dirt cheap irregular order for things like making Discover rolls, using Alert, stepping on mines, or to simply taking an uncontested zone is worth its weight in gold. In particular, I've occasionally found that, on a super desperate turn, converting the order to a regular one with a command token is an excellent way to squeeze out just a bit of extra juice. Indeed, when you consider that many models in NCA can't actually use the token to just coordinate (links, G:Sync Auxbots and G:Servant Palbots), sometimes that seemingly costly expenditure can be worth it, especially if running a small second order pool.


Otherwise, the Warcor is also a very cheap Flash Pulse option, which makes it a great way to soak up enemy orders on clearing your overwatch or risking getting stunned on an important turn. This works particularly well in NCA when paired with amazing ARO options, like the Fusilier link Sniper/Missile, tempting enemies to consider splitting their burst or risk a powerful active turn rampage being cut short after only a single order. This gets even more effective in NCA when you couple this combination with powerful TO overwatch options, like the Hexa Sniper and Missile Launcher Swiss Guard, as powerful active turn models might be forced to split their burst even further or risk taking unopposed rolls. In many cases, I've found that this simple addition can push a firefight from "unfavorable" to at least "dicey", causing opponents to either take the chance, waste orders by killing the Warcor from another angle, or simply avoid the fight and choose another option. It's not a bad option at all for 3pts, and I think the first "filler" option that I would reach for when rounding out the list.





















RFJ


As far as WarCors…  well, I’ve never really used them, but in theory I would if I couldn’t find any other use for three points.  Flash Pulse is always tasty, and they’ve got a good WIP to use it on…  360 Visor is a nice option to have, and that couple with the Flash Pulse means that I would, likely, use a WarCor to try and camp on an objective, ready to Stun an enemy Specialist, and either force them to split Burst away from deadlier options, or to take the Stun in an attempt to flip the switch.

Conclusion


Well that just about rounds up the first part of our NCA tactica, and I hope many of you out there find this useful when trying to build effective and interesting lists. Next time we’ll focus on the much tougher Medium/Heavy Infantry choices, so tune in then to catch more tactical NCA advice and get those more expensive muscle pieces on the table!

Until then :)

5 comments:

  1. Long panoceania tactica! good good! cheers! :D

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  2. Excellent article. Nice to see the different viewpoints, Thanks very much.

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  3. Very nice post! A long and indepth view from different players that gave me new persective on some of our units, and semented my existing feelings about others. Altough it was a long read, I´m already looking forward to the next installment. Great work!

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  4. Very nice post, thank you all!
    I can't wait the next part...

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  5. Excellent article! Thanks so much. I can't wait for part 2!

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