…Why Would You Take a Forward Observer?

Game Theory

In writing some hopefully helpful advice to a fairly new Tohaa player, I realized an oddity in many players’ common strategy.  In Infinity the Game’s current official scenarios, many players have a vestigial organ from the previous edition…
TNTStandaloneForwardObserverAndParamedic Forward Observers became ubiquitous in Corvus Belli’s Infinity Tournament System.  Winning games required seizing objectives, which required specialists, which required a grip of orders, which a standard 10-man group couldn’t do effectively.

Since a specialist was a specialist was a specialist, and the Forward Observer was the cheapest specialist, in most games the “strategy” was (a) find your faction’s cheapest and fastest and smartest Forward Observers, and (b) bring as many of them as possible.

But the current edition is a bit different.

As with the previous scenario, to score victory points, you usually need to pass a WIP roll on arbitrary objectives.  However, in the 2015 season of ITS, many scenarios now impose a blanket WIP-3 penalty to objective rolls.  However still, in two of the current scenarios, this penalty can be overcome if your specialist is a Doctor―or a Paramedic.

The scenarios “Cold Sleep” and “Coffin Raiders”, as well as the possible secret “HVT Innoculation” objective, all impart a WIP+3 bonus, negating any baked-in scenario WIP penalties.  Contrarwise, Forward Observers never receive a WIP+3 bonus for any objectives.

So why take a Forward Observer instead of a Paramedic?  Sure, an FO gets a Flash Pulse, but he has a gun too―and you really brought him for the objectives, yeah?

Is a Flash Pulse more important than a 65% chance, instead of 50% chance, to win objectives?

Additionally the Targeting feature is famously great if you’re already bringing a cheap Chaksa-mounted Smart Heavy Rocket Launcher―but if you’re not bringing that guided weapon, why bring a half dozen targeters?

…Well, because Forward Observers are cheaper.  Slightly cheaper, but still cheaper.  Anyone who’s had the LEGO experience of stacking up points to 300 in an army list knows how much 1 point shaved here or there can really help to squeeze out the best options.

Forward Observers do have a role, and if you’re trying to pull off grenade shenanigans (a bit uncommon in Tohaa, but doable), a Forward Observer helps greatly.  Clipsos and Kotails, after all, only offer the Forward Observer skill as their Specialist role, and they’re both perfect for that in or out of ITS scenarios.

The juice here is that Tohaa players generally should have no default inclination to Forward Observers when outfitting Kamaels as specialists.  As I noted to our acquaintance on the forum, for just one additional point over an FO, you can get WIP+3 in ITS scenarios (that value cannot go unstated), an extra opportunity to heal should your Kumotail get killed, and no -3 penalty when healing Symbiont dudes.

If you’re still relying on Forward Observers, that’s not bad.  But you might give the Paramedics a second look.

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