How to Back Up A PanOceania TAG
It’s all well and good to talk about how good PanOceania TAGs are (and I’ve been known to drone on about that topic at great length), but making them work on the table is a little more complicated than slapping one down and then winning. Some of what a new commander needs to learn is about tactical choices with their TAG, but you also need to know what to take to support your TAG.
So, with that in mind, what ARE the important options to support a TAG in PanOceania?Well, I think the units you should be considering are:
Our TAGs are fantastic and deadly active turn weapons, but will die like anything else if you let the enemy target them with whatever they want in their active turn. They are especially vulnerable in turn 1 before they can get into suppressive fire (well, apart from the Cutter and Uhlan, but we don't all get marker state protection or Hidden Deployment). Cheap low SWC ARO tools are thus an important piece of support, and weapons capable of reaching beyond 32" are also well worth fielding. There's a strong argument in favour of also taking a Multi-Sniper but I'd reach for this effective tool for both roles first.
Auxilia Forward Observer
Cheap specialists are always going to be necessary in support of our TAGs, because even the cheapest is a hefty investment. But the Auxilia brings something more important in the form of their Auxbot. This "pseudo Warband" gives you additional Direct Template Weapon support to help defend your valuable investment from enemy attackers cutting in close and gives you a tool to clear out enemy Warbands ready for your TAG to advance. I try to get a pair into every TAG list I run.
Acontecimento Regular Minelayer/Sensor
With no MSV on any of our TAGs (something I wonder if Svalarheima will fix, a MSV1 Light Tag with Multiterrain being an obvious pickup for that sectorial) one thing which they can be vulnerable to is heavily stacked defensive modifiers. There are few cheap solutions to that issue better than Triangulated Fire, which this Regular brings along. Add to this the defensive tool of Mines (especially with Minelayer to get one out early) and Sensor to clear out enemy units in Hidden Deployment and Camo and you can easily see why this unit is so valuable. I try to get a pair into every TAG list I run.
Dirt cheap ARO support, Discover checks for advancing Camo and a throwaway unit to pull enemy Warbands out of position? Yes please. The only reason I'm not taking a Warcor is if my list doesn't have a spare 3 points at the end (and I can't give up something inconsequential to get them).
Machinist + PalBot
Don't think of these as separate units, the PalBot is part of an 18pt package if you're running a TAG. This is for one very simple reason, you NEED redundancy and we are blessed with a unit restriction on our total Engineers of 1. The PalBot is also pretty useful to keep in B2B with your TAG (because you don't care that much if it dies to a template, and you can do what you can to avoid it) so that it's locked in CC if the worse happens and you do get taken over by a hacker. TAGs are so unlikely to die to a single burst of enemy fire that repairing them becomes a far more viable strategy (and less wasteful of orders) than using a doctor usually is. Also, the Machinist helps against ADHLs and other anti-TAG options. Don't leave home (in a TAG) without one.
Cheap hacking support? Yes Please! Although they can't directly buff your TAGs BTS these guys can offer a Hacking ARO threat (especially if you keep your repeater net forward of the TAG) and also the chance to purge your TAG systems if they get taken over in your active turn. Don't forget you can possess your own TAG with your ARO if the enemy get control during their turn too! (or immobilise it if that's a better option at the time).
Even better than the package of support options a regular hacking device brings is the aggressive defense of a Killer Hacker. Because there's no defense like killing the other guy dead. Even better the Hexas gives you the option of staying in Hidden Deployment 'till the enemy wanders into your Hacking Area (especially one expanded with our wide range of repeater options) before surprising them with a melted brain. This is another option I run every time I put a TAG on the table.
Just like the Hexas, Switch is bringing a surprise Killer Hacking Device to the table. In this case I'd be a touch more aggressive with him (hidden as something else you want supporting your TAG), but that might just be my bias against mercenary scum (and traitors to humanity) showing. The up side is he's dirt cheap, the downside is that we may not have access to him in a few months time.
Go back and read the Warcor entry again... now assume I just repeated all that here. AS WELL AS THAT you are also buffing your Machinist (which you ARE taking to support your TAG anyhow) and the deployable backup specialist which your TAG can drop. This is an option I'm not used to having yet, but I think she's going to end up being a permanent fixture in my TAG lists going forward. The only issue is the conflict between aggressive disposable work (like the Warcor or as a backup specialist) and wanting to keep her up as a buff.
So, you know how one of the biggest vulnerabilities of our TAGs is to Impersonators? Well... the Dominican Order have your solution! Even better they are ALSO bringing along excellent quality MSV support and Albedo (for when an MSV unit REALLY HAS TO DIE). I won't fit these guys into every TAG list, but they are one of the options that I'll be trying to bring along where I can.
Fast specialist, Sensor, Sniffers, Sat-Lock, Triangulated Fire and Flash-Pulse all in one package? And it has a Combi-Rifle for Suppression Fire support and area denial as well? Count me in. Pathfinders are one of the best units in PanOceania and I'll try to get a pair into every TAG list I run, for the points it's hard to find anything I want more.
The cheapest Regular Order you can run (short of a Joan investment that your TAG list likely can't afford) as well as a Flash-Pulse and Sniffer dispenser, these are already a great unit to put onto the table. But their most essential role is as a fast (6-6 move will take you places) Repeater to keep your TAG inside your net (so you can re-possess, de-possess or immobilise it if you need to) and, with good positioning, to force enemy Hackers to face your own digital firing line before they can launch their assault on your stompy robot.
All of the advantages of a regular hacking device, plus the ability to actually support the defense of your TAG directly? It's a few more points, but I always at least consider putting an EVO onto the table with my TAG. And if you are going with a lot of Remotes as well as your big burly beatstick they can turn those into more dangerous ARO units as well (and ARO is where you want your buffing, because there isn't much that's a real problem for a PanOceania TAG in the active turn).
Baggage is useful, cheap orders are good and the extra repeater is a nice bonus. But what you actually want to consider this option for is the actual minesweeping option. Not that regular mines are much of a threat, but Monofillament mines and Viral mines are a different story and either can really ruin your TAGs day. There ARE other ways to deal with these, but as you'll be considering this guy just to bulk out your orders it's worth considering the other things you can use him for.
Other than those I do try to get an Assault Hacking Device into my lists (if for no reason than the package of options can really help my own TAG from being used against me) and filling out my cheap specialist options with a Traumadoc (again, mostly to keep the Engineer up... you NEED that Engineer).
Now this isn’t exhaustive, there are a lot of other options which are awesome. Some kind of MSV option is usually useful, and Hidden Deployment AROs can be amazing. Generalist problem solvers like Croc Men, Locusts or Black Friars are also good choices.
So, what does this look like in an actual list?
Well, here's one for Cutter support I've been working on/with, which is pretty much putting what I think about the individual units above into action:
This list is all about that Cutter. You are going to be using the Lt order actively, especially if your opponent has already made their suicide run against that “obvious” Fusilier. The Auxilia and Regular are going to make approaching the Cutter suicide, you want to have a 2-move through fire approach set up. The Fugazi is going to keep the TAG inside your hacking area while the Hexa and Fusilier provide anti-Hacker support. The Machinist is there to keep the Cutter up and the Trauma-Doc is there to keep the Machinist up, repairing damage when it happens is important. The Bounty Hunter and Warcor are both up for AROs and covering the approaches to the TAG.
But there are only a limited number of missions that I’d want to be running this for.
Obviously enough a lot of the advice above applies to all factions, and there are obvious choices to slot into many of the above roles for any TAG. Warbands replace the Auxbots (and/or mines) and most other factions have a regular and killer hacker option. So I hope this has been useful even if you aren’t a Hyperpower commander.
And if you’re facing down the ultimate argument of PanOceania?
Well, then you know now what you need to eliminate (and in what order) to leave the shiny gunboat bereft of the support it needs to succeed.