After a lengthy hiatus (AME - entirely my fault, SORRY!), we’re back with Part 2 (Part 1) of our ongoing NCA Tactica collaboration, bringing together our top NCA writers all together in one place to give you their breakdown of the faction.
This week, we’ll be focusing on the more armored end of the spectrum, concentrating on the small number of elite medium infantry choices, the big dangerous heavy infantry options, and of course, both of our mighty tags. Just as before, we’ll be giving you a full breakdown of each unit, it’s various options, and usage on the tabletop, hopefully shedding some light on how to use those more expensive NCA choices.- Bolts
- Black Friar
- Aquila Guard
- Swiss Guard
Bolts are NeoTerra's Medium Infantry offering. With their high Ballistic Skill, multiple shotgun loadouts, Core linkability, E/M Grenades and a Spitfire rather than an HMG, Bolts have a distinct focus on Close Quarter Battles (CQB). This is further enhanced by three fairly rare rules in the world of Infinity: Bioimmunity, Drop Bears, and Veteran Level 1.
Bioimmunity has a fairly helpful in-game effect: it takes the Biomunitions (Shock, Viral) and downgrades their special effects, making them normal ammunition. However, you can choose to use either your BTS or your ARM value when saving against these ammunition types. The best aspect of this is ARM6 when eating antipersonnel mines to the face, and ARM9 when you're in cover slugging it out versus standard Sniper Rifles or any MULTI wielder silly enough to declare he is firing Shock instead of AP or DA.
While circumstantial, this does make Bolts very tanky in the right matchups and versus the right weapons. This is probably most apparently in matchups with lower tech/alternate tech factions, such as Haqqislam, Ariadna, or Tohaa. Each of these factions and their Sectorials make heavy use of standard Sniper Rifles, Viral, and Anti-personnel mines.
The second fantastic rule comes in a form of equipment: Drop Bears. Drop Bears function like antipersonnel mines that do not deploy with a Camo State, but they can also be thrown in a similar fashion to a smoke grenade. The result is that Bolts can deploy anti-personnel mines in unique or hard-to-reach areas, even sowing them in the midfield or tossing them long-range to trap opponents in their own deployment zone.
Obviously Drop Bears cannot rely on the Marker State to help protect them, so it's important to deploy the bears in a location where they can't be easily picked off by an opponent, or they can trigger immediately at any opponents that attempt to target them. Common uses will involve throwing drop bears around corners to hit opponents in total cover, or hurling them from the safety of total cover to pin/trap strong ARO pieces like those in Suppressive Fire.
Drop Bears have obvious defensive applications too. PanOceania in general is vulnerable to enemy close combatants, and all link teams (especially Medium Infantry link teams, with their indifferent PH and 1 Wound) are vulnerable to direct template wielders. Drop Bears can create a defensive corridor of angry shrapnel, the perfect defensive tool for fragging incoming opponents hiding in smoke or under Camo Tokens. Any player who has ever watched bitterly as a Jaguar or Makaul link rips apart his star PanO troops will immediately appreciate the value of making those suckers Dodge through multiple mines in order to reach you.
The last very unique offering of Bolts is Veteran Level 1. In essence, models with this rule continue to contribute a Regular Order to their pool even when their force is in Loss of Lieutenant. This means you can run a Lieutenant aggressively, knowing that your force can continue to function without the crippling loss of an entire turn spent in Loss of Lieutenant. While NeoTerra doesn't have that many clear nominees for aggressive Lieutenants, it does have a few offerings. The Squalo is certainly the most assertive, and that Lieutenant Order goes a long way on a 6-4 MOV platform. The Aquila Lieutenant is another candidate, though many will debate the usefulness of marching a short-range Lieutenant into the midfield. One heavily underappreciated choice is the ORC HMG, who provides a medium price BS14 gunfighter who can take some risks thanks to Bolt backup.
Note that despite the Drop Bears, Spitfire and plethora of shotguns attached to Bolts, they also possess some long-range weapons. The MULTI Sniper Rifle is a respectable addition if you need to clear long lanes for your Bolts to advance, and the combination of Double Action and Burst 2 (3 with link bonuses) forms a well-balanced active or ARO threat. The missile is a great candidate if you plan to use your Bolts more defensively, making a terrifying BS16 Explosive ARO that can watch the back of that powerhouse Lieutenant you're romping around the table with.
The Bolt Hacker deserves special mention for the unique tools it brings to the table. The Boarding Shotgun adds some excellent punch if you need to can-open a heavy threat. As a Hacker though, while it suffers from low WIP12, excellent BTS6 and versatile Standard Hacking Device make for a well-rounded support piece. This guy can lend his help to a Repeater net, and his Gotcha or Brain Blast can be a helpful ARO when also combined with a Hexa's surprise Redrum or a Swiss Guard's Oblivion or Carbonite. Additionally, if you need supportware for your Heavy Infantry or Remotes, the Bolt Hacker can provide it.
The Bolt is also bringing E/M Grenades as his unique last bit of kit. While Bolts have fairly indifferent PH, the threat of E/M Grenades can be a helpful deterrent. In most situations, you're going to be happier AROing with a BS22 Boarding Shotgun if anything happens to get close, but careful coordination with a Forward Observer, Sat Lock, or Spotlight can let those E/M grenades tackle some truly big game. If an opposing link team gets careless, spending a few Orders to Isolate or even Immobilize a pack of them can be game-winning.
The most common question you'll see with regard to Bolts is their role compared to Fusiliers. This debate continues to rage throughout the community, and probably won't die down anytime soon. Both units have their merits, and while many will properly claim that both units fulfill different roles within a NeoTerra force, it's undeniable that both Fusiliers and Bolts are competing for the use of that Core Link slot. That being said, there are some players who have run both Fusiliers and Bolts in the same list with success.
Bolts are at an interesting crossroads in NCA, and probably one of the most controversial choices in the sectorial. On the one hand they have a lot going for them - one of only two linkable cores, one of only two choices with Drop Bears, BS 13 base, underslung light shotguns, and of course their very interesting special rules (Veteran making them immune to loss of lieutenant/isolation and Bioimmunity giving them quite an edge in durability vs. snipers, mines, viral and other nastiness). On the other hand though, they're only ARM 2 (so they still die almost as easily as line troops unless Bioimmunity matters), they’re saddled with 4-2 Mov (like most medium infantry), and of course they cost the earth. Indeed, for the cost of a full link of Bolts and a single Fugazi Dronbot, you could swap that for a link of Fusiliers and an Aquila. So in order to get the most out of them, you have to make sure you really stretch the full value of their abilities, otherwise you're better off with cheaper options.
Unlike much cheaper Fusiliers, their slew of advantages largely pushes Bolts into a more aggressive midfield role, rather than sitting back as a firebase and largely working to provide orders or simple AROs. Bolts are thankfully resilient to a lot of close range nastiness like mines or regular snipers, but unless you face overwhelming amounts of those weapons, their durability is a bit of a misnomer and it's important to remember that they are almost as squishy as line troopers, so you definitely want to play them cautiously. This means that they support aggressive builds well, but you still want other more resilient models like HI or TOs to do the bulk of the heavy lifting while Bolts hold the key objectives and support the primary attackers who have better ways to push fights in their favor.
In terms of building them, you really want them to be linked, and while they wish they had a Haris, this means building a solid 5 man Core that can cover multiple bases to justify their cost. Drop Bears seem like a given for the first member, as they are such a unique and useful weapon that taking one is just sensible, and even two can be a good idea if points allow to ensure you have ample supply. Like all big links, a specialist or two (in this case, Hacker and Paramedic) are both really nice, with the Hacker getting a special nod from me for being BTS 6 base and of course SSL2 from the link, making it a worthy option in the midfield which is where Bolts want to be. Finally, I think the Spitfire complements their medium range capability beautifully, and if points/SWC allow either a Sniper or Missile launcher makes a lovely 5th member. A lot of people argue against this choice considering the Bolt's midfield role (though I will note that the LSG on the Missile Launcher model helps!) but providing a long range option on the approach and of course both benefitting nicely from full link bonuses for early game AROs is an excellent way to round out the build and cover all your bases. I have also recently experimented with a sixth member as a “spare” link team model, (for which the Boarding Shotgun loadout is excellent to keep costs down) but the price of the whole link is pretty high so you have to be careful with how that changes the effectiveness of your list.
Understandably the expense of them makes Bolts a difficult choice to just throw into a list, so ultimately you generally find that including one isn't really a challenge in building the link itself, but building the rest of the list around them. Veteran L1 generally encourages an aggressive Lt option, so often Bolts are a decent pairing if you plan on running the Aquila, Orc, Squalo or Deva Lt options and anticipate them going down eventually. The other list building situation that they shine in is of course limited insertion, as the added expense can actually be a good thing if you aren't swimming in other super-expensive models. Bolts certainly aren't for every player, and indeed while I personally fall into the camp of liking them more than hating them, they definitely have a very clear role in mind and need a lot of specialist focus to get good use out of, otherwise I would stick to Fusiliers.
Hmmm… Bolts… the Marmite of NCA… you either love them or you hate them, isn’t that it? Unless, of course, you’re me, in which case it’s more that I just never have time for them. Not because I don’t think they’re optimized, or don’t have good load outs, or anything of the like, but rather because I (since I’m not the best of players) generally pick the troops that I think are cooler, look nicer, etc. WIth their special skills (Bioimmunity, Veteran: L1) being somewhat niche, it makes it harder to justify the extra cost over a bog standard Fusis Fireteam: Core. Yes, you get better BS, slightly better ARM, much better BTS, but that MI 4-2 puts a damper on things. Now, with some of the tweaks and fun things that came out with Flamestrike, and the likely increase that will come in Wotan, I feel it’s likely that troops like the Bolts will start to see more use.
However, I do share the two standards complaints… ok, I’ll be honest, whines about Bolts, the lack of a Haris profile and the lack of an engineer. Ok, with that out of the way, the times that I *have* used them I’ve always been impressed by the Drop Bears option. Those little whirling balls o’death are stellar, and in a Fireteam, they’re even better. In fact, I’ve actually used a Drop Bears profile in conjunction with a Baggage REM to have a lot of fun in the past, just cluttering up a side of the board. The only other lone profile I see much use for is the Hacker, but even then…
In a Fireteam, the usual construction I’ve used (on the rare occasions) has been either an ML or a Spitfire, a Paramedic, the Hacker, and the either one or two Drop Bears, with the other a “normal” Bolt (if ML, two, if Spitfire, one). With it, I’ve got my main piece (either the ML or Spitfire) and it’s support. If I’m feeling aggressive, that option is going to be the Spitfire, pushing up, mowing things down, using the B2 on the Drop Bears to protect flanks, and having a pair of objective grabbers. If I want to camp on something, it’ll be the ML, in a good field of fire, with it’s support team doing the same things. However, again, I’ve not used them that much, because they just don’t appeal that much to me.
The Black Friar is an interesting choice, providing two very different roles depending on the profile you select.
The Sniper variant is a fairly generic long-range piece. MSV2, the hard-hitting MULTI Sniper Rifle, and solid Ballistic Skill allow it to engage in long-range gunfights versus hard-to-hit targets. Do your best with the Sniper to maximize rangebands whenever possible, ideally from outside of 32 inches where many weapon rangebands drop off dramatically in terms of effect. As a defensive tool, always try to remove your opponent's strong gunfighters before committing the Friar Sniper to overwatch, since he isn't likely to last long against anything wielding a HMG. The Friar Sniper is probably happiest in matchups that tend to skew smoke or ODD in extreme fashions, and he can counter rampaging Galwegians or Myrmidons very handily as long as their long-range gunfighters are removed.
The MULTI Rifle/Albedo/Drop Bear profile is an entirely different loadout, and is possibly one of the most unique profiles in all of Infinity. MSV2 allows him to skirmish in the midfield, hunting down Camo Infiltrators. Pair this Friar with a Pathfinder or other Sensor Wielder to help easily Discover tough threats so the Friar can engage with Drop Bears and MULTI Fire. The Biometric Visor also gives NeoTerra a very useful asset against enemy Impersonators. If you expect a lot of Fidays or Speculo Killers in your meta, the Friar is a very good defensive piece for Discovering and removing them. Keep the Friar as your reserve drop to try and give yourself a clear sense of where those Impersonators will be deployed, then use it to help counter those Impersonating threats. Note that the Friar can't stand up in ARO, but is best used as an active turn piece or to help protect a vulnerable backline Lieutenant from a smoke kill in close combat.
Beyond combating Impersonators, this Friar is a good defensive model who provides MSV2 at zero SWC cost and roughly half the cost of an Aquila Guard. Include the Friar in a Coordinated Order or two to help get him up the field, then use his Drop Bears to guard crucial corners or mine up an important objective. Whenever possible, try to deploy the Bears in base-to-base rather than risking the throw. Use the toss when appropriate, but few things are more annoying than missing the throw with all three of your Drop Bears. A Baggage bot, kept in a nearby support pool to reload the Friar, is a great asset if you're really committed to holding an area. MULTI Rifles also excel in Suppressive Fire as well, since you can toggle between AP or Shock freely while still maintaining the Suppressive Fire state. This makes the Friar a great choice for knocking down and deterring incoming smoke tossers or Dogged Troops who may try to rush a key area of the table.
This loadout's last option is Albedo. Ordinarily a fantastic rule for maneuvering and gunfighting against Visor-wielding troops, this rule's full efficacy is hampered a bit by the Friar's slow movement speed and short range. There may be circumstances where it's helpful rush the Friar up the field and engage a Visor wielder at short range, but in a Sectorial like NeoTerra where superior long-range gunfighters are highly prevalent, you will almost never need the Friar to achieve this role. Instead, use this rule to freely maneuver the Friar across lanes that are covered by long-range Visor threats. Be certain not to engage MSV2 link teams either, since 6th Sense allows them to return fire against Albedo users without suffering any penalty, rather than the usual -6 that would be incurred in these situations.
One of the newest additions to the NCA arsenal, the Black Friar is a veritable treasure trove of equipment that fills an interesting niche as far as elite models go. Religious is a debatable feature (nice if you want to stick around or avoid retreat, bad if you want to fail guts to hide from enemy fire) but statwise they are about what you'd expect, continuing the Pano trend of elite BS (13 being on the high end for MI) and otherwise being fairly typical MI in terms of 4-2 MOV and a bit of extra ARM. Both loadouts come with MSV2, so along with the similarly priced Deva, it makes the Friar a solid inclusion for tackling enemy camo, ODD and so on. Beyond that, the profiles differ so wildly that it's best to look at each of them in turn.
The Sniper loadout is a fairly standard, bringing both a Multi-Sniper and a Nanopulser to the table, which cements his role as a long range gunfighter, but it's nice to have the backup template weapon to deter CQB attackers. There are a few other sniper options in NCA, with Fusiliers, Bolts and Hexas being the Friar's main competition for precious SWC, but none of those options have MSV so that gives this model it's particular niche. If you like MSV Multisnipers in your list, then great, the Black Friar is for you. And indeed, it will perform well at tasks like stopping advancing warbands in spite of their smoke, hounding tricky Myrmidon/Moira link teams from a distance, or even simple gunfighting vs. other powerful TO or camo models. Because the Black Friar lacks defensive mods of his own though, it is probably wise to avoid staying up for ARO on the reactive turn unless you are confident that your opponent won't simply be able to bring a high burst weapon to bear (like an HMG), or you are only watching a very particular lane where it is going to be difficult to reposition the right tool to come and kill you.
Really though, it is the other loadout that most NCA players see as the real "all star", trading the Multi-Sniper for a Multi-Rifle, but also grabbing Drop Bears, a Biometric-Visor AND Albedo as well. The latter are somewhat niche abilities, but the Biometric-Visor is a godsend when having to deal with enemy Impersonators to both Discover them easier and ignore their Surprise Shot/Attack modifiers. Meanwhile the Albedo is somewhat difficult to utilize on the first turn for a short-ranged 4-2 MOV model, but at least this lets you comfortably advance past enemy MSV overwatch early on and sets yourself up for positioning later in the game. This Friar loadout is basically geared towards fighting Camo models, as regardless of their camo state, markers still set off Drop Bears (Mines) and are easily discovered with MSV2. So long as you can deliver him then, the Friar excels as a midfield skirmisher, making life difficult for the majority of high tech users out there (Impersonators, Camo, MSV), laying mines to secure ground and still having the raw gunfighting potential and stats to bully weaker models in a firefight.
The Lord has the best Dogs. Seriously, I enjoy my Black Friars and I find they fill a nice niche. They’ve got good kit (MSV2, which I always find worth it’s weight in gold) and good stats. No, the BS13 isn’t off the charts, and rather standard for PanO MI, but still good. The interesting things begin more when you start to look at the weapons load out. I’ll be brutally honest, I don’t care to the MSR profile, but then I don’t like MSR profiles in general. I find the MSR (outside of the UNHOLY Nisse) to be too limited for my liking. Yes, good in ARO, but outside of that before mentioned profile, too niche. However, I am a BIG fan of MULTI Rifles, and on this bad boy? Hades yes! The combo of Albedo and Biometric Visor L1 strikes me as… odd, but in a good way, and in a way that I’ll take it. Move up, hide from any MSV troops, be able to see through any Smoke Special Dodges, and use that lovely lovely Shock Special Ammo to leave little blobs of goo across the board… Oh, and toss those charming little Aussie balls of love around a corner or two, just to make things interesting. Speaking in seriousness, I’ll always have more use for the MULTI over the MSR, and I like this loadout better. I feel that the MI MOV is, of course, a drawback, but the overall statline makes Black Friars a good option to go hunting with, or to move itself to a defensible position, lock lanes down with the Drop Bears, and force folks to come to him.
ORCs are PanOceania's line heavy infantry. Despite this generic nomer, they do in fact equal or exceed the combat capability of most other faction's elite troops. Reviewing their statline, they have the hallmark PanOceanian trade of +1 Ballistic Skill, -1 Willpower. It's also worth noting that their Physicality of 14 and Armor of 4 are also very strong, giving them good defensive attributes. This is offset by a weak BTS of 3, making them naturally vulnerable to Hacking Attacks.
The defining characteristic of ORCs in NeoTerra is their ability form a 3-man Haris Fireteam, as long as you bring the Haris-equipped ORC profile in your list.
While a 3-man fireteam of ORCs is pricey, it does allow you to move a varied and effective toolbox rapidly up the table. The ORCs are equipped with some varied profiles that let this fireteam handle a multitude of threats at a variety of ranges. A Haris team with boarding shotgun, HMG wielder and assault Hacker can effectively gunfight at any range out to 32 inches, and also brings along a Specialist for ITS-related button pushing.
Note, of course, that such a team requires significant support. While it excels at gunfighting and has good general survivability thanks to high BS, ARM and PH, the lack of direct templates or deployable/perimeter weapons make it vulnerable to Close Combat, Hacking, and TO/ODD threats. Pair this team with a Hexa MULTI Sniper to help watch their back and guard against close-range threats, or use Drop Bears to create a supporting minefield. In the case of hostile Hackers, make use of Repeaters to help extend your Hacking network and help your other Hackers provide support AROs if anyone gets too close. A Hexa Killer Hacking Device lurking with Redrum is a great deterrent. Make use of your Standard or EVO Hacking Devices to set up your ORCs with Firewall, giving them an edge with Hacking or Reset Face-to-Face rolls. For players that are really concerned about Infowar, include the MULTI profile with Tinbot. Not only is the MULTI Rifle a highly versatile weapon, but the Tinbot is a greater additional counter to hostile Hackers.
Outside of the Haris teams, ORCs have a lot to offer as individual profiles. Solo ORCs are often overshadowed in NeoTerra since Swiss Guard and Aquila present highly specialized individual profiles instead. Of course, ORCs are significantly less expensive than either the Swiss or the Aquila, allowing for a strong Heavy Infantry gunfighter that's slightly more economical than their more elite counterparts. The HMG lieutenant is particularly interesting, since it pairs well with the Veteran status on Bolts. Since Bolts remain Regular even in Loss of Liutenant, they can let you run a more aggressive Lieutenant choice without worrying too much about the crippling effects of Loss of Lieutenant. In addition, the ORC HMG provides punishing firepower at long range, letting the Bolts advance to medium and short ranges where they excel. Note, of course, that a big Bolt link team plus an Orc Lieutenant will represent the bulk of your points, so give careful thought to what role both of these units will fill before building a list around both.
Solo ORCs particularly shine in low-point games, where their elite stats and diverse weaponry can fill a gap in any list without needing to pay full points for a pricier Swiss or Aquila.
Arguably the most vanilla HI in the game, ORCs emphasize the Pano style of taking a single task and doing it very well while keeping the profile cheap by doing away with all superfluous equipment or extra rules. Indeed for what you pay, Orcs may not be as cheap as some of the other HI in Pano (especially Knights like Hospitallers and Teutons), but their lack of Frenzy keeps them in check and they certainly aren't as expensive as high-end Aquila and Swiss Guard either. NCA takes this equation and puts an interesting spin on it -not only by reducing the number of overall competitors for the valuable HI slot (no Knights), but also because ORCs can form a fireteam in NCA - a very expensive (but very deadly) Haris.
And really, unless you are really trying to shave a ton of points off by taking a single cheaper ORC in place of an Aquila or Swiss, this is probably the de-facto way to run them in NCA. Compared to those choices, for less than the price of an Aquila+Swiss you can get 3 ORCs, who while lacking any of the frills or better stats, still get you an extra body (2 extra wounds) and of course trade the TO camo and MSV for the advantages of +1 Burst when shooting. In scenarios that reward concentrating armored presence on a single area of the board, the ORC Haris lets you plant 3 incredibly durable bodies in a key area and lock it down, requiring an immense effort to shift and still leaving you plenty of points to spend on controlling the board elsewhere. This is certainly an interesting tradeoff, as depending on your meta, MSV and TO might not have the immense impact that you are certainly paying for, and you might find that having that extra body and both active/reactive turn power from the fireteam plays a greater role. In any case, it is almost guaranteed to be more order efficient - you won't be as likely to suppress, spend orders re-camoing, coordinating movement as you bring multiple bodies up the table... etc etc.
In terms of fireteam composition, you're locked into bringing the Boarding Shotgun already with the Haris loadout, which to me is more than enough shotgun punch for a single link. I also don't rate any of the Lt profiles due to the inherent fire the Haris will draw, but they can be okay if you like to psych out your opponents with unsuspecting Lt options, especially as they represent no extra point/SWC investment. The combi is only really there to shave some points, so unless I really need to cut down (which seems silly for how much you invest in this unit!), you're probably better off upgrading to a Multi rifle or a Hacker. The Hacker in particularly I like for the same reason most people do - you're able to bring a specialist around with you while your unit advances and clears the table, and while the Hacker is decidedly pathetic as an actual Hacker (lousy WIP 12 and BTS of only 3), it's still a 2 wound choice and valuable for scoring.
While we're on the subject of hacking, a potential slot for the third Orc and an upfront Haris is of course the Multi rifle+Tinbot loadout, who still shoots half decently, protects the whole link from nasty hacking, and of course doesn't break the bank on SWC by keeping the whole Haris down to a total of 1, a useful option if you find your other choices are hungry as most NCA models are. Otherwise, the HMG is hard to beat and very cheap - 44 points for a BS 14 HMG in a Haris is surprisingly economical, able to emulate the weight of a full 5 man link team of BS 11 line troopers by himself and able to survive more hits to boot. This is my preferred third choice if the SWC is there, and seems to be the most prudent use of ORCs for a powerful setup that can cover all 3 range bands well (Shotgun, combi, HMG) and balance durability, killing, and scoring potential.
Well, after having little (read: zero) use for ORCs prior to the changes introduced with N3HS, I’ve started to enjoy them more. Now, I don’t really do anything with them as a single or solo unit, but I have had fun with them in a Haris, typically in conjunction with a Fusis Core. So, that means I’m taking the BSG, and, usually, to make it worthwhile, the HMG. Now, the last question I have to answer is whether or not I want the AHD version, with its Combi, or a TinBot and MULTI Rifle version. While Hackers are frequent in my meta, the TinBot just doesn’t convince it’s worth the SWC cost, while the AHD works for me.
They’re not REALLY an improvement over running a TAG or a Swiss Guard, but using the Haris Fireteam as a three part specialist has been quite useful, and has come close to justifying the high cost. In fact, that three part specialist role has given me reason to run the MULTI Rifle version rather than the HMG multiple times.
So, generally speaking, my ORCs Haris is going to be one of two things: long range fire support, or a tough-as-nails objective grabber. There’s really no in between, and, with the competition from the two other HI options I have available to me, well… yeah. Very situational, but very potent when used. In an example, at Rumble on Route 66, one of my lists had a Fusis Fireteam supported by an ORC Haris in Rescue, and they performed VERY well. I went against Vanillia Haqq, and they proved their mettle by 1) putting down a AP HMG Azra’il 2) grabbing and bringing back a Civvie and 3) covering my backfield to keep my opponent at bay. With that, they more than earned a place on the table for me.
The Aquila Guard is one of the game's rare BS15 choices, and comes with an equally rare item of wargear: the Multispectral Visor Level 3.
If your local meta or event is jam packed with Camo, TO Camo, Smoke and ODD, then the Aquila is a specialized tool for fighting these threats on an even footing. Not only will the Aquila ignore all negative penalties, but he also ignores the effects of Surprise Shot and can automatically Discover Camo and TO Camo tokens without needing to make a roll. The result here is that the Aquila is a remarkably stable and consistent gunfighter, always hitting on at least 15s as long as his target is in his preferred range band. As a result, the Aquila HMG is a popular choice because of his superior long-range firepower and high burst. This is a choice that can challenge any volume of Camouflage Tokens, and can intimidate Hidden Deployment ambush-type snipers into staying hidden based solely on its presence on the table. The MULTI Rifle, by contrast, is an economic choice that is strong for hunting through the midfield and capitalizing on the MULTI's availability of specialty ammunition. Note that the MULTI Rifle profile can also serve as your Lieutenant, pairing well with Bolts for players who want to capitalize on an aggressive Lieutenant choice. The MULTI Rifle is especially good in defense versus warbands and smoke-heavy opponents, since the Shock of the MULTI Rifle can knock down Dogged Troops and the Aquila’s strong PH and ARM give him recourse to Dodge if a template wielder gets too close.
One of the Aquila's strongest roles is in Suppressive Fire. Because of his high base Ballistic Skill, ability to ignore almost all modifiers as well as Smoke grenades, as well as generally tough survivability as a Heavy Infantry, the Aquila is a great defensive bulwark for scenarios or missions where you absolutely need to defend a critical section of the table.
The last word in NCA firepower, the Aquila is known throughout the Human Sphere for raw gunfighting potential. BS 15 is very high for an HI and continues the Pano trend for having +1 BS (and -1 WIP) vs. most other faction equivalents, and in fact even vs. our own HI the Aquila tops out at the high end for stats, with his ARM 4, BTS 6 and of course that lovely PH 14 for important dodge rolls (great considering how many Camo/ODD models have things like nanopulsers, flamers, chain rifles and mines). These stats mean that the Aquila is tough enough to take a real beating, which is great because he costs ~60 points per model and puts out significant firepower that you want to keep active as long as possible. The MSV3 though is the real feature of this model, happily ignoring all modifiers (including Surprise Shot/Attack, which is useful when trying to defend with Suppressing Fire in the reactive turn) and of course having the all important "auto-pass Discover", which lets him more efficiently sweep the table of camo models on the active turn or automatically spot them crossing gaps in the reactive to keep your other models safe.
Unfortunately, the Aquila Guard is otherwise a very no-frills model, who lacks any other real backup weapons (much to the lament of Pano players when the HMG model actually HAS a panzerfaust on the sculpt...) or abilities to diversify its role. The Multi rifle is obviously the preferred close range option for more active camo-hunting in an up close role, and indeed it also has the option to be the Lt for players who like a more active Lt model or are bringing Bolts and don't mind the added risk. However, for me the extra order expenditure this profile represents and drawing him closer to other threats (like the hinted at LoL, hacking, or even simply into most model's +3 rifle band) mean that I'm much more likely to reach for the HMG loadout instead. HMG and MSV3 is a nearly unique combination (only the Charontid competes, and is a bigger more expensive model too), and when you consider how the HMG is not only deadlier but that band keeps the Aquila safely out of range of the models it likes to hunt (Most ODD/Camo/TO users pack shorter ranged weapons) it arguably fits in better with its role.
Overall then the Aquila is a very single-minded, very expensive, but very deadly instrument. Your opponent should know exactly what he does, which means his job is primarily not to let you do it and your job is to spot and neutralize obvious counters so you can continue a strong active turn rampage and an easily defensible position. Even if you only kill 2 models a turn and survive until the next, normally that’s plenty, so don’t get carried away unless the piece trade is too costly for your opponent to recover. In many cases you can even use the obvious presence of this model as bait, with the HMG often meaning that opponents want to ambush him up close and often falling prey to other hidden deployment options, such as Hackers, Snipers or other ARO’s.
The Aquila Guard is great. If you don’t have him in your list, you’d best have a very specific reason why not, because more than likely you’re wrong.
Sorry, did you need specific reasons why he’s great? Oh, ok.
He sees through everything, he usually hits everything, he takes almost any hit and keeps on ticking. What ISN’T to love with him? He appears in many lists that I build, because he is such a wonderful beast on the table. His stat line is glorious (no, I don’t care about WIP, because 1) I play PanO and 2) he’s never a Specialist) and this means that I can go toe-to-toe with most things. Out of a sheer lack of imagination, I most often run the HMG because he is so effective at cutting things to shreds. Now, I WILL often give him something of a bodyguard (KHD Hexa, Bulleteer HSG, etc.) for when things get TOO close, but mostly he simply strides across the battlefield, wreaking havoc. However, when I *know* (friendly game, etc) that I’m going to be facing Ariadna camo spam (*cough* TOAD *cough*), I may instead take the MULTI version, to move closer and use that nice Shock ammo to cut through troopers. I think I’ve only ever used his Shock CCW weapon once, so not much comment on that.
As far as USING him, it’s much as Lazarus noted. He’s a centerpiece, and he should be drawing the opponent’s attention, in one of three ways: the AG himself is walking around killing things, the opponent is hiding and moving around furtively to avoid him, or the opponent is actively trying to get to him. Now, with Burst being so vital in Infinity, the AG does suffer a little in ARO, but then everything does, since that’s the point. That’s why I’ll often have him go prone, either in Deployment or at the end of my Active turn, to protect him that little bit more. As Lazarus noted, having him out there is a good way to shape where and when the enemy has to go and how they have to respond. Yes, yes, we get it, he costs a LOT, but you’re getting maximum bang (literally) for that buck, so (since he’s from Aquila) Vorwärts die Mannschaft! Use him to force your enemy’s movements, because there are few ways to avoid him, and you pretty much HAVE to deal with him. If you’re looking at an area/quadrant mission, he easily locks down a section for you, and means you can be aggressive with other troops in going after the others.
Possibly the finest gunfighter in the game, the Swiss Guard is a superior ranged combatant. With an apex Ballistic Skill of 15, ThermOptic Camouflage, Armor 5 and BTS6, the Swiss casually out-guns virtually all opponents.
The Swiss' most distinguishing feature are the many roles it can fill, based on the loadout you choose.
First and possibly foremost is the Swiss Guard Hacker. In a faction that isn't known for high-quality Specialists, the Swiss Hacker stands apart as a frontline Specialist that can muscle its way through almost any defense. WIP13 and BTS 6 are strong by PanOceanian standards, and the Assault Hacking Device provides a broad spectrum of useful abilities. Be cautious however, since the Assault Hacking Device makes the Swiss vulnerable to Killer Hackers. However, the Assault Device also gives you a broad range of tools. When defending a forward bottleneck or supported by multiple Repeaters, the Assault Device can easily Immobilize enemy Hackable targets. Many players consider Assault Hacking Devices a less popular choice now that Killer Hacking Devices have become so pervasive. With the Swiss though, since the Assault Device is your only Specialist option, it’s well worth maximizing how you use that Assault Device for greatest gain. The Assault Device is a highly versatile tool, so read up on the range of tasks it can achieve. From locking down Hackable targets via Carbonite, or simply taking them out of the game via Oblivion, there’s a lot that can be achieved through a strong Repeater Network.
When combined with a Hexa Killer Hacker and a Fusilier Standard Device, you can overwhelm an opponent with Hacking AROs if they wander too close to one of your repeaters. Remember that ThermOptic Camouflage allows you to Surprise Shoot with your Hacking Attacks, potentially giving the Swiss an edge to overcome enemy Hackers. Perhaps most advantageous is Swiss' ability to use the Marker state (or Stealth) to sneak past enemy Hackers without triggering AROs. As a Hacker or a Specialist, this gives the Swiss extreme mobility when you need to send him/her towards a well guarded objective. High ARM and Physicality even means you can risk Dodging antipersonnel mines if necessary.
Most units sacrifice firepower when they upgrade to a Hacking Device, but the Swiss gains a very potent tool in the MULTI Rifle. Not only is the MULTI's Shock ammunition mode a strong asset versus opponents who run heavy with Dogged or No Wound Incapacitation troops, but the Armor Piercing is hugely useful if you do run across a TAG or rival Heavy Infantry. The Rifle remains strong at short and mid-range bands, and with the Swiss' huge Ballistic Skill and the TO modifiers, can even gunfight out to HMG ranges with a decent likelihood of success. Remember too that the Double Action ARO can be a life-saving surprise if a strong enemy piece starts to storm into your Deployment Zone. Revealing a Hidden Deployment unit to ARO is always a risk to use, but a well timed Double Action Round on an enemy unit that wasn't expecting it can be a game-saving tactic.
The Heavy Machine Gun is a popular choice, simply because it’s hard to beat Ballistic Skill 15, Burst 4, and TO Camouflage. This is a true fire superiority piece, offering punishing long-range firepower at high cost. One of the great assets of the HMG, of course, is how versatile it is. While obviously very strong from 16-32 inches, it can be made to work at close range in case of need, and is even capable of long-range AROs or Suppressive Fire if you really need to commit to defense.
Perhaps the Swiss’ most unique loadout is the missile launcher and light shotgun. This is the Swiss’ mayhem profile: when revealing with Surprise Shots or lethal AROs at extreme range, those missile shots can turn a game on their head and ruin the plans of any opponent. The same is true for the light-shotgun; few opponents can possibly match the lethality of a BS21 light shotgun on an ARM5 TO platform. This loadout is best suited for ambushing an enemy with opening missile shots, then maneuvering for shots of opportunity where both the missile and shotgun templates can cause maximum damage. Note, of course, that the rangebands for both the missile and the light shotgun make this a profile of extremes, and tend to put the Swiss in harm’s way. When standing off with missile shots, the Swiss is vulnerable to linked missile users or MSV2 Snipers. When engaging at short range, beware mines, templates, Suppressive Fire Crits, Close Combat, Hacking… In fact, regardless of profile, be ultra cautious how you commit the Swiss at close range, because this is always a dangerous area on the table.
The Swiss Guard is quite possibly my favorite choice in NCA, and I think it has something to do with the fact that it combines lethality, durability, and utility all in a single package. A heavy infantry model with some of the top-end stats in the game, the Swiss is definitely a brute force piece of kit, but a lot of careful usage is required if you’re going to get the most out of its abilities. All of the loadouts come with TO camo, which means getting the first jump on opponents is generally the norm, at which point you want to carefully balance how much you kill, when you know where to stop, and whether you want to recamo, suppress, or simply hide at the end of a long rampage. Long story short – the Swiss is as much about restraint as it is aggression, as while you can happily chew up opponents like no tomorrow with that BS 15 and brutal negative modifiers, if you get caught unawares by hacking or enemy MSV, it’s very easy to lose the Swiss to a piece half or even a third of its cost.
All of the loadouts come with brutal weapons. The HMG is the clear front-runner when it comes to active turn firepower, letting you choose to engage most foes beyond the effective range of most weapons and generally slaughtering anything as a result. It’s a very single minded profile, but what it does it does very well, and as long as you keep opponents at arm’s length and are mindful of enemy threats, it can be a nuisance to deal with and even harder to avoid. The missile and light shotgun loadout gives you an incredible ARO piece, and we all know games where appearing out of hidden deployment to nuke a link team in the open has won a game singlehandedly with just one roll. Likewise the Light Shotgun gives you a solid backup play, jumping into a solid counterattack piece if opponents are up in your grill and probably swinging dice heavily in your favor. My only issue with this loadout is the incredibly low burst – some games you roll hot and absolutely nuke the world, but others you roll a lousy 4 on your single dice and all your luck runs completely dry. Swingy pieces are normally not my thing, and only more so when it comes to a 68 point model, but it definitely has its place if you can choose engagements well and supply a little luck.
For me then, the big winner is the fabled Swiss Guard Hacker, a piece I could never sing the praises of enough. Compared to the standard Multi-rifle, I always find the upgrade worth it (advantages of hacking outweighing vulnerability to KHD in my opinion) and packing both scoring potential and deadly hacking potential to a supremely good gunfighting platform is just the kind of versatility I’d want out of a model this expensive. Really there isn’t a model in the game that the Swiss Hacker isn’t a good contender for destroying, with the Multi-rifle an excellent tool for putting down everything from dogged warbands to even armored TAGS, and TO+BS 15 often letting you engage beyond optimum distances and still reliably win most fights. In suppressing the Multi can actually often perform better than the HMG, with the shots and range bands being identical and the ammo types frequently excelling vs the HMG, especially vs. higher ARM. For anything you don’t want to shoot, the hacking stats may not be particularly worth writing home about, but with BTS 6 and Surprise Shot imposing another -3, it’s often a great tool to take on big nasties.
There really isn’t much that the Swiss Guard can’t take on, but like the Aquila, the trick is often to avoid biting off more than you can chew and being careful not to overextend. Plan your attack run carefully, and make sure you try to anticipate those obvious counters and position your other pieces accordingly. Once your enemies MSV, Hackers, or deadly template users are taken care of, a Swiss Guard still standing by Turn 3 is often a helluva thing to try and shift, and with the ability to score, a late game showing is often just as valid a strategy for this model than slaughtering your opponents early on.
The Swiss Guard is, to put it bluntly, beastly. Now I personally have not used the HMG or the ML very much recently. I find that, for me, the AHD or just plain MULTI Rifle versions are the best for my play style. Seriously, who’s going to shift the Swiss Guard AHD once he’s camped on an objective? Anyone? Anyone? If I can, I try and get him close to the objective, and just have him there, ready to obliterate anyone who comes up to try and do anything with the objective. If he’s in cover, then well, anything that doesn’t have MSV will have a very hard time shifting him, since he’ll be on, at worst, 6s to hit in decent range, and, well, if he doesn’t have SOME kind of cover, he can hide near the objective, then you can flip the switch and then hide in plain sight, getting ready to take anything to pieces back in your active turn.
The just plain MULTI Rifle version works well as a hunter of, well… anything. He’s got revolting ARM, he’s got revolting BS, he’s got TO Camo, he’s got (for PanO, at least) great WIP, he’s got high BTS... He’s flat out nasty. Since he’s got his unholy BS, (provided you’re not beyond maximum range) you always have a chance to hit, and as mentioned above, at optimum range, the worst you could possibly be on are 6s, and mostly likely 9s. After all, if you’re looking to kill an enemy TO Camo model in your own active turn, the worst you’ll have are those three dice on 9s, assuming enemy Cover, and making sure you’re in cover, giving them -9 MODs, assuming now Surprise, and -12 with. Let’s go kill something!
I have used the ML in the past, mostly as either a Fireteam stalker or as an Anti-HI/TAG piece, looking to stack MODs in my favor, and then begin the destroying of the heavy unit. Yes, I know that the Swiss Miss is very, Very, VERY deadly, but she just doesn’t fit my particular playstyle, so I don’t take her. The HMG hasn’t seen much use in my lists, but again, as has been mentioned, I (recognize the deficit), I tend to play more by “Rule of Cool”, so… yeah.
So, end of the day, he’s ugly, period, with (for me at least) the AHD then MULTI, with the ML and HMG bringing up the rear.
The Uhlan is one of the few TAGs in Infinity that can maneuver as a Token. This ability to enter Camouflage is the Uhlan's greatest asset, and is undoubtedly the best reason for taking the Uhlan to begin with. The Uhlan itself is a lighter TAG. With ARM6, it also gives up the popular MULTI HMG in favor of a standard HMG and a Feuerbach.
The Feuerbach serves two functions: it allows for a high quality Explosive ARO that's comparable to the MULTI HMG's explosive round, but also functions like a high-powered MULTI Sniper Rifle that pairs very well with the Uhlan's high Ballistic Skill and use of Suprise Shot. Note in particular that the Feuerbach has a very long 0 range band, allowing it to engage targets even at extreme range with a high possibility of success. That being said, the Feuerbach is only really effective in the active turn if you find yourself seriously needing the Armor Piercing component of the Feurbach's ammunition. Otherwise, the Heavy Machine gun is almost always going to serve you better thanks to the safety and reliability provided by its Burst 4.
Regardless of the weapon profiles in use though, the Camouflage token is the real asset. TAGs are always vulnerable to close combat, hacking, direct templates, and modifier stacking. The Camo state helps to offset all of these factors. Best case scenario, an unprepared opponent will simply fail his Discover attempts against the Uhlan and not be able to target it. A canny opponent will make effective use of Sensor or Intuitive Attack to reveal the Uhlan, but this is where you can use other units to help provide support. Both the Hexa Killer Hacker and the Black Friar MULTI Rifle are great defensive assets: the Friar's Drop Bears and MSV2 can keep smoke tossing warbands or Camo units at bay, while the Hexa (especially if paired with a Repeater, to keep the Hexa at a safe distance) can be a strong deterrent to those repeated Possession attempts that an opponent might be inclined to make.
In addition to the obvious advantages of the Marker state, giving Stealth to a TAG makes a huge difference. The Uhlan can now maneuver through dense terrain and limit the opponent's ARO options without needing to Recamo, saving valuable valuable Orders that can instead be applied to doing extreme damage.
Note that this last TAGline ITS season has given the Uhlan new flexibility, both enhancing your ability for a Machinist to make repairs thanks to the Tech Bee, and deploying the Crabbot to allow the Uhlan to capture objectives. And on a Camo TAG, the Bot gets even greater functionality. Imagine you want to capture an objective that isn't surrounded by any cover, and is being actively covered by the enemy. Perhaps you don't have the Orders to engage and remove them all. With the Uhlan, you can run close to the objective as a camo token. You can then deploy the Bot using the silhouette of the Uhlan for cover, using a short Movement Skill. As part of the same Order, you're still allowed to use your high Burst HMG and Surprise Shot to defend the Uhlan and help mitigate incoming hits. The Crabbot, now protected by the Uhlan's silhouette and out of Line of Fire, can interact with the objective safely before re-embarking.
A note on defense: While it is always sorely tempting to place the Uhlan in Suppressive Fire where it can rock and roll, I don’t always believe this is the safest choice. The Camouflage State is one of the strongest rules in the game, because it makes its user essentially invulnerable to the vast majority of attacks in Infinity. Use this! Let your other units defend the Uhlan and back it up, and use that Camo State to keep the Uhlan safe from threats. When you reach the point in the game where the survival of the Uhlan is no longer critical, such as the last turn of the game, should you be ready to maximize rules like Suppressive Fire. Additionally, don’t forget the Feuerbach gives the Uhlan a very potent long-range ARO. The Uhlan makes a very strong sniper deterrent early on, especially if the Uhlan is still hidden safely in your Deployment Zone and can duck its way back into Total Cover if its finds itself outgunned.
The Uhlan is the smaller of our two Tags, but size is definitely pretty deceptive as it still packs a mean punch. ARM 6 is on the low-end for a TAG, but BTS 6 is perfectly acceptable, and his crucial TAG stats definitely add a touch of resilience that excels even our top-end heavy infantry. The biggest feature though is his camo state, which means that the Uhlan is not only surprisingly difficult to hack (as you can’t hack a marker), but also gives it Stealth for moving around the field and avoiding enemy repeaters. When you factor in that the Uhlan is focused on long range firepower, a lot of the common threats to running tags, such as enemy hackers or dangerous melee, are hard to bring to bear, as he rarely gets close enough to these types of dangers for them to end up being a problem.
Looking at his gunfighting potential, a BS 15 HMG gives him an excellent active turn option to whittle down most targets, and of course this also lets him set up in suppressing fire and stack those juicy modifiers. Cover, Camo, and Suppressing is annoying to shift for an ARM 6 3 STR model, and if suppressing is going to be a liability on the reactive turn, you can always revert to a camo state instead and force opponents to discover him first. Of course if the camo HMG is all you want then you’re probably better off with a Swiss HMG (who loses a wound and gains TO camo for 30+ points less…) so to me, the Feuerbach is where it’s at. The Feuerbach is an incredible weapon on this platform, giving you solid active turn punch vs. harder targets thanks to the combination of AP+DA ammo, and like a Multi-HMG, a B1 EXP option for long range deadly ARO’s.
So long as the Uhlan can keep opponents at arm’s length, it can engage almost any kind of target, especially with the camo state allowing it to pick and choose engagements (using the marker state to cross crucial gaps, force difficult discover decisions or bypass certain defenses) and stack modifiers (-3 Camo and often -3 Surprise Shot) as well. The big downsides of this model are the price - 99 points is a lot. This is especially true when you consider that it pretty much entirely lacks any short range defenses, so you’ll want to support it with flamers, hackers, and shotguns to prevent people trashing it up close. In this sense, the Uhlan is best thought of as a mobile “super-sniper”, prowling around your own backfield and shelling opponents from a distance before retreating to safety and forcing them to chase after it.
Finally, both of our TAGs also now come with the Crabbot, which certainly helps to mitigate the fact that in many missions, spending a good 1/3 of your list on models that cannot score is a bit of a liability. The Crabbot can’t fight much (though it can do things like detonate mines or occupy space!) and base WIP 10 is laughably poor, but considering the speed of both our tags, the Crabbot is a decent option to snatch a far flung objective (especially on the last turn) and is a nice option to have in your back pocket. While it’s definitely not as nice as the TAG actually being a reliable scoring model itself, having a “APC” to ferry a weak scoring model around isn’t bad by any means, and while it won’t come up very often, it has the potential to save a couple of games.
Well, first and foremost, we’ve written it wrong. It’s UUUHHHLLLAAANNN!!! Now, with that out of the way, let me simply say that, since my personal playstyle is picking minis I *like* even if they’re not optimal, the Uhlan has started hitting the table more and more for me. Now that he has the CrabBot to make him into a specialist, that will only increase. Now, he *is* specialized, and if, as it were, an enemy can get up under the guns good range bands, well… he’s not going to do so well. However, it that happens, then I’ve done something wrong.
He’s fast (after all, he IS a TAG) and the S6 as opposed to the S7 means there are more places he can go, and a gap that might make the Squalo or a Bulleteer balk are child’s play for the Uhlan. Coming out of Marker state on an opponent, if you’re doing it right, means that you’re giving that opponent a -9 MOD, and if you do things right (firing the Feuerbach from outside 32 inches) you can put anything besides extreme long range weapons (MSR, ML, etc) at a total of -12. And if you’re not winning in that fight, well, then, meu filho, I can’t help you.
The big question always boils down to which of your two big guns makes the most sense to shoot with… the HMG or the Feuerbach? This question is that age old battle of Burst vs Damage. Yes, the HMG has higher active Burst, and higher DAM;however, the Feuerbach’s projectiles are AP+DA, so while you don’t have the same weight of dice in the FtF, if you hit with both shots, you have as many chances to do a W or take a STR point than you do with the HMG. Also, we have to balance how much ARM the target has (are they in cover, etc…). After all, shooting a Yan Huo in Cover means (assuming all successes in the FtF) the HMG is wounding on 7s or less, while the Feuerbach is wounding on 8s or less, so only a marginal improvement… But when hunting the Uhlan’s true targets (TAGs), such as a Guijia in cover, that does get better,, where the HMG is wounding on 4s or less, while the Feuerbach is on 7s or less… kind of swings and roundabouts…
As a final bonus, now our jolly fellows in the TAGLine have their CrabBots running around, this makes things EXTRA fun! Especially for the G: RP TAGs, as this means you’ve a disposable little bugger running around to flip the switch… Yes, it has weak WIP, but he’s entirely disposable! If he snuffs it, roll you TAG’s WIP and back he goes, ready to slaughter in the name of the hyperpower!
At first glance, the Squalo appears a highly generic TAG. With ARM8, a MULTI HMG and a secondary weapon, and no other abilities to speak of, it appears a very straightforward piece. The real beauty of the Squalo though are its interaction with another unit in NCA, and the performance capability of one of those secondary weapons.
If you take the Squalo as your Lieutenant, it's arguably the best way to maximize the Veteran Level 1 of Bolts. If your Squalo gets trashed, your game isn't dead-in-the-water, since the Bolts can fuel you with enough Regular Orders to salvage a turn and keep going.
More interesting, however, is the heavy grenade launcher. This is an extremely rare piece of equipment, and one that can absolutely decimate an opponent. Using the Squalo's trademark PanOceanian Ballistic Skill, you can lob grenades across the field with a higher chance of Success than a Fusilier Grenade Launcher within 16 inches. You can, quite literally, bombard an opponent's Deployment Zone without having to move forward. If you pair this ability with Forward Observers, you can increase the reliability of your Speculative Shots. Of course, be sure to weigh the number of Orders spent marking a target with the numbers of Orders you're likely to spend simply on attempting shots.
Note that the Squalo also boasts a heavy pistol as its secondary weapon system. Unlike many TAGs, which have a direct template weapon for close-range combat and point defense, the Squalo will be relying on a face-to-face mechanic to defend itself or assault up close. This is both a positive and a negative; while a heavy flamethrower is undeniably devastating, and would maximize the Squalo's ability to take a hit in return for indiscriminate damage, the heavy pistol is not a bad option either, since potentially hitting on 18s gives the Squalo a potent short-range face-to-face with which to defend itself.
In addition, the Squalo boasts an advanced ECM. Another rare rule, the Advanced ECM not only negates the +6 advantage when an opponent fires guided munitions, but even confers an additional -3 as well. While extremely corner case, this rule does make the Squalo marginally more survivable if its finds itself being bombarded by guided fire.
As with all TAGs, a Machinist with palbot for speedy repair and recovery, as well as a Killer Hacker to potentially troubleshoot any opposing infowar potential, are always safe investments. Linked Fusilier and Bolt Hackers, while very modest with their WIP12, are also good defensive precautions because they can ignore the Stealth of any Hackable targets that are maneuvering near the Squalo. When setting up a defensive bastion for your TAG, in addition to traditional defensive assets like drop bears/mines and templates, being able to drop a Repeater or position a Repeater-equipped Remote nearby can allow your Hackers to all provide mutual support if someone comes after your TAG.
I personally like to support my use of the Squalo heavy grenade launcher with rapid assault units like Bulleteers or the Garuda. This way, if an opponent spreads out in their deployment zone to avoid multiple units being caught in each template, there's often a gap in overwatch or defense that your fast assault pieces can squeeze through to attack.
Aside from a bizarre resilience to Guided Ammo, the Squalo is on the face of it a pretty bare-bones Tag, sporting none of the fancy rules of some of the other Pano tags in favor of an interesting selection of weapons. Despite being a more durable “heavy” TAG, it is actually cheaper than the Uhlan, and the bigger guns it brings with it as a result clearly cement a clear-cut offensive and generalist role. BS 15 with a Multi-HMG is a fantastic primary weapon, and if that’s all you get out of the TAG in a game, then you’re probably still doing pretty well. AP and Shock ammo in the active turn on a fast model makes for some hard-hitting, mobile firepower, and getting Suppressing Fire options or EXP single shot AROs on a high ARM platform means that the Squalo is no slouch in the reactive turn either. The last interesting quirk to note on the profile is the presence of a Heavy Pistol, which while nothing to relish compared to the Heavy Flamer on some other TAGs, is still a nice backup close range weapon on an otherwise long range focused choice.
Personally I think the standard loadout is really only worth it over the version with the HGL if you REALLY need to save the points, but I’d argue that the HGL is such a strong option and the TAG is so expensive in the first place that you might want to rethink your plans if this is something you’re considering. While the HGL regrettably has no positive range bands, the fact that you can freely speculative fire on 9’s at pretty long distances is certainly a nice feature, and while perhaps an order-intensive procedure, can really punish opponents who thought they were safe and chose to clump models together. Get somebody targeted (perhaps using Satlock via a Pathfinder with an EVO in the list) and you can absolutely trash a whole link with this weapon if you played it right, so it certainly has amazing potential. Like shooting a missile or any template weapon, it’s also important to remember you can direct fire this weapon too, as BS 15 makes it a great choice to both take out the enemy model and clear any of your opponent’s friends who just happened to be standing around in close proximity.
The Lieutenant option is also a popular way to run the Squalo, and this is actually a fairly interesting option for opponents who want to make use of Bolts (above). Bolts take a lot of the risk of running a rambo Lt out of the equation, so you can be very aggressive with the Squalo, do some real damage, and then probably not care too much if your opponent does find a way to eventually kill it as you’ll still have a few regular orders to mitigate the loss. My only main griefs with this loadout is that it sadly gives up the HGL on the normal profile, and that the combination of both the Tag+Bolts tends to eat up almost all of the points (usually around 225ish), leaving you to maybe dedicate a small handful of points to any of your scoring needs and making sure you hit 10 orders. It’s definitely a worthy approach for consideration in things like direct action missions or limited insertion, and while Bolts and the Squalo may not seem like anything particularly special on their own, together they complement each other’s strengths quite well.
Squalos (technically Lancers, as that’s their role, and the TAG itself is the Squalo, which is also the chassis for the Dragão and Jotum) are, as it were, the “basic” PanO TAG. However, “basic” for PanO is pretty much better than everybody else. Truth be told, I’m more likely to put a Squalo on the tabletop than I am an Uhlan, because the overall package of the Squalo is more impressive. No, you don’t have the CH: Camo, but you have a MULTI HMG, a Heavy Pistol (which I’ve personally used to take down Oniwabans), and (if you need it) the HGL. Add on to that the new little CrabBot in the shoulder, and he’s a hefty beast.
The Squalo is the essence of a TAG. No frills, nothing silly, just the maximum application of firepower. If I’ve taken the HGL version, I *will* invest the orders needed to rain down death, and especially to try and break a Fireteam. Yes, Speculative Fire is a whole order, and can be an order sink, but the ability to be hitting with a Template on 9s while putting your opponent on Change Facing at -3 is a good thing.
If I have to go into a toe-to-toe slugging match, I’m good with that, since the only HI I’m going to worry about are TO or Camo ones, and the only TAG I’m going to worry about is the Avatar. Beyond that? Nothing much. I’ll plink away at you.
And, one last time, the Heavy Pistol is not to be scoffed at. It’s a great option for a secondary weapon, and I actually prefer it to the HFL on the majority of our TAGs. After all, while the HFL will simply be putting down a template in ARO, the Heavy Pistol is forcing that FtF, and will, in it’s good range band, be at absolute WORST on 6, against a TO Camo unit using Surprise Shot, and more likely (assuming Cover for the opposing Trooper) will be on a 15. Add in the fact that it’s putting out DAM14 Shock rounds, and I’ll take that.
Well I hope you all enjoyed our epic Part 2 of the NCA tactica, and are finding yourself looking at the sectorial in a whole new light as you enjoy the capabilities of the armored end of the NCA spectrum. Next time we'll pick up with the many REMs that the sectorial enjoys, but until then.