Welcome back for another Pulpi Talk!
This time we're trying something a little different to hope to provide you guys with regular weekly content and something with a bit of a more casual fun "discussion" format. Each week, the team and I are going to chat for a little bit about a given topic in infinity, chime in with our thoughts, and talk about how it influences our gameplay on the tabletop.
So this week's topic will be: TR bots - Yay or Nay?
- How do you guys use them (if you do).
- How do you support them? (Engineer? Hacker for MM:L2?)
- Any particular factions/sectorials where you think they excel?
- Oh boy. I'll get into that in a little bit. That one's a can of worms for me...
- Seemed appropriate!
- I'll start us off then, haha! I think TR bots can be very hit or miss. I only have access to them in Pano at the moment, but I think they can be very effective in the right setup. In NCA and SAA, I tend to have issues with SWC, and so including one over say, a Bulleteer or Peacemaker with a Spitfire is definitely a conscious decision. But getting that cheap HMG in there alone is definitely valuable, and they're quick enough to relocate in a pinch.
Usually if I am including one, I'm taking the Engineer for sure. The Hacker is definitely a bit more thorny (outside of Specops) because SWC is a big problem, and even more so in SAA because the line troop hacker is that much more expensive (thanks to having an LGL as well as the standard hacking device).
However, having Marksmanship Lvl2 I think is absolutely invaluable. People can't easily "-12" you anymore (e.g. cover, TO, surprise shot) and so a Crit always remains a possibility. For this reason alone, I say I always try to include a hacker, but understand those that don't.
- My own Sierra Dronbot, fresh off the painting table!
- I like to use TR bots as cheap attack pieces. Sometimes, a faction/army doesn't have a good, cheap, and reliable attack piece (looking at you Hassassins, with your few HMG options), so slapping some supportware on those silly things means you've got a real killer! Sure, they might be a bit order intensive, but eh. Also, I like to keep a repeater bot next to them, for some cheap orders and cheap hacking coverage to allow for easy buffing. Sometimes, I use them as ARO pieces, but only after I get supportware on them. So if I'm going first, then maybe I'll use them for ARO duty on first turn. If I'm going second though, then I save them for ARO duty on second turn.
- Deadly Hassassin firepower, the Shihab HMG!
- For me, TR HMGs are a fun but seldom chosen option. As backup attack pieces, they tend to lose out to the Bulleteer, and they are too easily removed by a TO sniper (or Missile) to be valuable against forces with easy access to those. When I do take them, I look for lateral lines of fire, across rather than down the table. I'm looking to constrain aggressive mobility or free access to objectives, rather than aggressively targeting the enemy deployment. But with backup from their own TO models in Hidden Deployment, either close range with Infiltration or long range with heavy weapons, they can become an even more deadly threat.
To me, the Engineer and Hacker support for remotes is essential. It simply makes too much of a difference to their survivability and threat. Being able to pull an SWC weapon up from two levels of unconscious, and effectively bump it to BS 14 and Shock is invaluable. Thanks to the overall moderate cost of the package (61pts for TR HMG, Engineer+PalBot, and Line Hacker) it is easy to support it with plenty of orders. In that kind of environment they can be very effective, combining speed with a solid attack.
- Aforementioned Bulleteer competition...
- Okay, TR bots... Preface: my rule is that anything that inconveniences me in this game, that my faction doesn't have (in this case, Ariadna – and don't you dare pull that “But the Uragan is TR!” crap with me. Uragans aren't worth their weight in goosefeathers as TR bots.) is bullcrap.
TR bots, therefore, are bullcrap. All jesting aside, I really don't like them. They make the learning curve on the game much, much steeper, because you have to get your butt chewed up by them A LOT to learn how to deal with them. Sure, there are plenty of hard counters, but from the perspective of someone who's new to the game (or in my case, just not very good) it can be extraordinarily frustrating because they make any sort of movement in their field of fire outright impossible. They can shut down huge swathes of the table, and that's very frustrating. Of all the things I had to learn to deal with in Infinity as a new player, TR bots are the one that pissed me off the most to the point of almost a table-flipping rage quit.
- Ya'll knew this meme was coming...
They also tend to become a crutch for those that use them. It's really annoying to see the same goddamn bot in every list some players make. They can also severely unbalance low point games... because at 200 points, a 25 point bot isn't that much to spend, and unless you've planned for exactly that contingency with sniper rifles and/or missile launchers, you're in for a really difficult time, because they're very order intensive to take out otherwise.
Thankfully, they're becoming pretty rare in my meta. Everyone figured out a long time ago how to deal with them, and since nobody's come up with a novel new application for them, they don't make appearances that often anymore. These days, it's much more about setting up coverage on multiple firelanes and using coordinated orders to put people into suppressing fire and having two missile or heavy rocket launchers in 5 man links.
Now, I almost never use them when I play PanO, because I can usually find a much better platform for an HMG. They're too fragile, they're too big to take cover easily (and they can't go prone), their BS isn't spectacular, and you pretty much have to follow them with a repeater to keep the Marksmanship up on them for them to actually reliably win gunfights. Plus, with PanO, my only engineer option is WIP 12, so he's more likely to break it further than fix it if it goes down.
There is one player who no longer plays around here (sadly, he moved away) that did something actually interesting with his, rather than just parking it on a rooftop and putting Marksmanship L2 on it every turn. He plays Nomads, and he would actually make use of that Climbing Plus on his Reaktion Zonds to actively go hunting with them. He used them as offensive pieces that happened to have stellar defensive capability. Which actually made them a lot more dangerous and annoying.
- Mmmmm... TR bots... the source of many, Many, MANY tears for my opponents, and typically very few for me. I ADORE the Sierra and the Zayin, and the headaches they cause my opponents. Getting one of them up on a building? Beautiful, just beautiful. I love how with that HMG, they are generally speaking on 2s at worst (which, yes, isn't nice, but crits happen) but they give that weight of dice that can cut down on the enemy's chances in the FtF. Additionally, the fact that much of my local meta just seems to ignore TR REMs is just wonderful for me.
Truth be told, there's really only one other player in our meta who uses any kind ARO piece, but they play Bakunin, so it's Sin Eaters. I find that they make it very simple, depending on terrain of course, to lock down a large swath of the board and to really force your opponent into the teeth of some of your heavier hitters. Anything that can force my opponent to confine themselves to one side of the board, or eat up more of their orders to try and deal with it, works well for me.
I find them to work best with Camo. I plan to keep using them as I expand out into Haqq and other forces, because they just work well for me. I also find that, even without any buffs from a Hacker, that they can be useful to go hunting with. As a final note, they will always have a special place in my heart after I rolled three Critical Successes on Kitsune. After a performance like that, they will always be in my toolkit.
TR bots are definitely a piece with prescence in infinity, and whether you love or hate them, you're bound to see them crop up somewhere on the tabletop.
We hope you folks enjoyed this nice bit of light morning reading to go with your coffee (or an evening glass of beer, depending on where you are in the world!). If this format is something you'd like to see more of in the future, let us know and we'll try to make it part of your weekly lineup.
So tune in next week for more Pulpi Talk :)
So tune in next week for more Pulpi Talk :)