Tohaa 203: Intentional Losses

Combos, Tactics, and Strategies, New Players

This may seem silly to state, but it should be obvious.  Your opponent wants to kill your toys.

So let him.


Allahu Akbar!  Just do it.  Pop your defensive bubble.  Get bloody.  Send a Rasail into the death trap.  Get the Rasail killed.  Kill that death trap in the blaze.  Your opponent wanted to come kill your Rasail, anyway.


If you don’t decide who you want to get killed, your enemy will decide for you.  Deciding for your opponent who gets to die is to your advantage.  If your opponent is killing your toys, he usually isn’t completing objectives.  When you deploy units like the Nikoul or the HMG Chaksa, you shouldn’t expect them to kill stuff, you should expect them to be killed.
sep.gifThis is totally acceptable.  Such units excel at vacuuming up opponent’s orders.  If your opponent spent 5 orders maneuvering to kill a ~25 point troop, that literally means that for 25 points, you took away about a sixth of his orders for the whole game.
sep.gifAnd this should be decided first in your list.  When I make a Tohaa army, I usually set aside 50 to 150 points of troops who I do not merely expect to fight, but expect to die.  In turn 1, typically, these units go straight out in a mission to get themselves killed, because I know my opponent will try to kill them—and especially, because he will have to kill them, because to leave such troops alone means more death for him in turn 2.  I’ll show you some common examples:

logo_25.pngKAAURI Sentinel Sniper / Pistol, Electric Pulse. (0.5 | 19)
logo_17.pngRASAIL Lieutenant Viral Combi Rifle + 1 Chaksa Peripheral / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 39)
sep.giflogo_17.pngCHAKSA PERIPHERAL Heavy Flamethrower / Pistol, Knife. (- | 4)
0.5 SWC | 58 Points

In a big Limited Insertion tournament, this was a pair that sat on my left flank.  The Rasail beelined to murder an equitable number of points, while the Kaauri sat in open view of light camo troops, or troops without long-range weapons.  My opponents can’t flank the Kaauri, and the Kaauri in turn covered flankers for the Rasail, whom they had to kill before the Rasail had another killing spree.  No sweat for me, these guys were only 58 points.

logo_12.pngNEEMA Lieutenant (Advanced Command) Breaker Combi Rifle, Panzerfaust, Nanopulser / Viral Pistol, Shock CCW. (+1 | 46)
logo_5.pngECTROS HMG, Nanopulser / Pistol, Shock CC Weapon. (2 | 45)
logo_5.pngECTROS HMG, Nanopulser / Pistol, Shock CC Weapon. (2 | 45)
SWC | 136 Points

3 Ectros are just under half my points, but I have no problem in hurtling these three big orange buffaloes down the table to their deaths.  They almost always take Kaeltar support, to ensure maximum longevity and maximum annoynace.  People love attacking Ectros, so it’s wonderful bait.  And most of the time, one or more Ectros straggles alive by round 3.

logo_1.pngKAMAEL Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 16)
logo_1.pngKAMAEL Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 16)
logo_8.pngMAKAUL Heavy Flamethrower, Eclipse Grenades / Pistol, Viral CCW. (0 | 13)
logo_15.pngNIKOUL Minelayer Viral Sniper Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 30)
logo_10.pngCHAKSA AUXILIAR (Neurocinetics, 360º Visor) HMG / Pistol, CCW. (1 | 25)
3.5 SWC | 100 Points

SWC is plentiful in Tohaa, and last year, I ran this kind of crap all the time.  You can easily consume your opponent’s entire first turn with this kind of overwatch.  Don’t forget that HMG Auxiliars have a 360° Visor, and again don’t forget how good Symbiomates are on the Nikoul.


Get comfortable with forcing units to slay themselves upon enemy.  Rasails are my favorite, and I’m sure you’ll find a favorite, too.


Sometimes you have a great key unit that has to become “scorched earth”.  Unlike the units above, you don’t want this one to die.  It’s important.  But maybe it has to die:  Maybe you know that your opponent will destroy it on his turn.  In this case, you may be advised to “scorch earth” it.  That is, to deliberately―on your turn― send it to its death destroy another key unit. Piggybacking above, here’s some photos from an old game that illustrate this point in which I quite deliberately murdered my lovely Viral Rasail Lieutenant.


I hadn’t used these photos before, since they are messy, but I hope they still illustrate the point.

In this match from last summer, I was facing JSA.  We were running two heavy-duty lists.  Mine included a Gorgos and two Rasails, one of whom was the Lieutenant with a Viral Combi.  I planned to rambo the Gorgos like crazy.  The mission was Firefight.
sep.gifAcross two central buildings on his side, my opponent put down a fireteam of 1 Domaru and 4 Haramaki, two of whom had Missile Launchers.   He made some infiltration rolls during deployment, and I could tell by the result that my opponent had at least 1 unit with Superior Infiltration―which meant an Oniwaban, a Close-Combat TAG killer.
sep.gifI had the first turn, and the first thing I did was coordinate advance and Sensor sweep with my two Baggage Chaksas.  Unfortunately, they did not reveal the location of the Oniwaban.
sep.gifI scratched my head.  I only had about 7 orders plus the Lieutenant order, so if the Oniwaban was high on a building, I would be hardpressed to get to it, especially with the Haramaki Missiles overwatching the table.  I couldn’t move the Baggage Chaskas much further, since they would get wiped out by Haramaki Missiles.  I didn’t move Gorgos for fear of being instagibbed by the Haramaki or Oniwaban.  And I knew my opponent would want to kill my Rasail Lieutenant, should I reveal her.
sep.gifSo…I did.  The next order was the Lieutenant order to her sprint along the right flank.  I was familiar enough with JSA to know that the Domaru was probably the Lieutenant.  I smoked a pathway for the Rasail, and made a gamble, sending the Rasail on a one-way mission to kill the Domaru in the Haramaki fireteam of Haramaki.


A Chain Rifle Domaru is an obvious Lieutenant, and without him, a JSA player cannot reform a Haramaki fireteam.  In this flanking attack, the Domaru (who was center) broke link to Dodge to try to survive, but failed against the Rasail’s pincer.

It paid off.  I spent all those orders to get the Rasail back there, and the result was that the Domaru Lieutenant and one Haramaki were slain by the Rasail and her Chaksa.  At the top of JSA’s turn, the three surviving (and now Extremely Impetuous) Haramaki were slain to AROs from the Rasail and an overwatching Gao-Rael sniper.  JSA began its first turn in Loss of Lieutenant, and the Oniwaban barely moved.
sep.gifThe Rasail did die, but she consumed the entire JSA turn and over 100 points worth of troops in so doing.  The remainder of the game was an extremely fast cleanup and win, after her scorched earth maneuver.


The asymmetric trade—that is, losing a small amount of points to kill a big amount of points—was the main reason nobody bothered to bring Ectros and Gorgos before the Human Sphere book.
sep.gifAlthough their prevalence has softened, asymmetric trades are still quite common in Infinity.  You can avoid asymmetric trades by smart deployment, high-wound models without Symbiomates away from units like Auxilia and Naffatûn, and/or by keeping softer and cheaper units like Makauls, Chaksas, and the Diplomatic Delegate deployed ahead of your valuables.
sep.gifBut you can make your own asymmetric trades.  This is usually best executed by models which are not part of a triad, since losing a triad member invariably hurts the other two model’s effectiveness.  For that reason, it’s always wise to bring a few soloists in Tohaa; especially one or two cheapo soloists, like Chaksas or Kaauris.


In this example, we have a MULTI+Flamethrower Crusader who’s dropped in on the far right.  He’s wounded our Shotgun/Panzer Kosuil, and killed a Kaauri or Kamael or two.  The Crusader ended his turn in Suppressive Fire.
sep.gifWe could move our Viral Ectros around to Symbiobomb him, but that’s our only Symbiobomb, and the Crusader does have decent WIP/BTS.  But after we Symbiobomb him, then we could shoot him.  But this would be like 3 orders.  For 1 or 2 orders, the Viral Ectros could risk shooting him directly, but that’s also risky.  Viral is deadly, but it can’t outrange the MULTI RIfle, and the Crusader’s BS13 Suppressive Fire, with cover, is dangerous odds.


But no sweat.  Our Baggage Chaksa is only 10 points, to the Crusader Brethren’s 31.  The Chaksa flares up the Crusader, and gets lit up himself.  10 points lost, but the coast is clear for our important troops to advance.
sep.gifAs a rule of thumb, when you are looking at sacrificing models for an asymetric trade, you forfeit a model half or less the price of the model it’s attacking.  Sacrificing a Rasail (34+) to kill an Auxilia (13), however, is usually unwise.


For most factions, losing Wounds means losing army points.  The point of army points retention may appear peripheral in Infinity , but it is an important point, especially for scenarios where the point value of your unit matters to the scoring of that scenario.
sep.gifLook up the Nomads’ Igauna profile.  See how the Iguana pilot is worth 0 points?


Now look at the Ectros.  Notice what’s different?


Tohaa troopers retain their full points value, even when at Inactive Symbiont state.  This fact will not be relevant in every game, but in most Direct Action- and Join Operations-type ITS missions in Infinity, and indeed in many 20×20 missions and YAMS missions, the fact that your troops retain their points is directly relevant to mission objectives.  A flimsy Inactive Symbiont HMG Ectros is still worth 45 points, and can swing a game of Frontline.
sep.gifIt also means we have an added layer of insurance against Tohaa is pretty lucky in the Courage and Veteran department, so Retreat rules are not exceptionally dangerous to us.  However, they may be rare to see in any case, since Tohaa troopers do not depreciate in points value when they suffer wounds, as TAGs do as, illustrated above.


While not always intentional, of course, you will take many wounds on your Symbionts.  This tactic—and for you, it should be a habit—is key to success in elite lists and Limited Insertion gametypes.
sep.gifSymbionts are cheap.  We can take hits.  Yes, Symbiont armor is much better in its Active state, but being hit and staying alive, is a much better ability than what many of our competitors are getting for their points.
sep.gif“Symbiont cycling” is usually performed in a Triad, but may also be a common necessity to you if you field lots of Rasails, Kerails, Kotails, and Taqeuls.  This is a really simple thing to execute, but relies on you being attentive each time you spend an order.  Say you have two orders left in the turn, and you have this K1 Kosuil Engineer, Rocket Sakiel, and standard Makaul triad.  Let’s also say there is a Spitfire Tsyklon nearby who, you assuredly expect, will get the Marksmanship buff and go on a killing spree next turn, if you don’t kill it.


The setup looks like this.  The Spitfire Tsyklon, on the right, has ARM3.  You wisely move out your K1 Kosuil as link leader to shoot it.


But the dice fuck you, and the Kosuil ends up losing a wound.  Now—stop right here.

A newer player would continue shooting with the Kosuil.  The K1 Combi is the weapon of choice, in this case.  But it’s not worth losing your K1 Kosuil Engineer and breaking your triad, just to pop off another K1 volley.


Instead, you’re going to move out your Rocket Sakiel to deliver a volley.  Rockets and Combis aren’t ideal, but they can still kill stuff dead.  (In this case, if both the Sakiel and Tsyklon are in cover, the Rocket and Combi have nearly identical odds of killing the Tsyklon, so choose whichever gun you prefer.)


But we don’t stop there.  Remember that the intention of your movement determines where you end, so if you decide to end in the open, and the order is declared, you cannot backtrack and move him back into total cover.  So don’t think “move to shoot”, think “move out to shoot”.  Only terminate your movement in the open if you are sure you want to stay there for the indefinite future.
sep.gifNote that in this example, the Nomad player could have ARO’d against the Kosuil as it swapped places with the Sakiel.  When newbies spend shooting orders with triads, they are usually thinking move > shoot.  You have to think more comprehensively than that.  When you spend orders to shoot with your triad, you should follow a train of thought like this:

  1. Choose the right gunner for the target
  2. Move secondary gunner behind, close enough to swap places in 1 more order, but not close enough to be hit by a Template weapon, unless:
    2a. I am certain there is no danger of Templates, in which case make the most of each troop’s movement, else:
    2b. This is the last order I spend on this triad, in which case 4a.
  3. Make sure to move my gunner back into total cover, not leave him exposed, unless:
    3a. I want the gunner exposed for subsequent orders, else:
  4. If the gunner is fails and is wounded to Inactive Symbiont, move fresh Symbiont gunman to engage the target, else:
    4a. Reposition all other triad troops in cover in preparation for enemy turn, else:
  5. Continue advancing

That may look complicated, but if you make it a habit, you won’t have to think about it.  You’ll just do it instinctively, and you’ll be a much smarter and tougher opponent.



Thinking of your Active Symbiont profile as a “Mario Powerup” may be a better way to think it.  When the game begins, the Symbiont powerups the trooper to be bigger and better than it actually is.  However, the Symbiont pops after 1 hit (in most cases), the powerup is gone, and you are vulnerable.  Getting hit can bum you out as your Kotail deflates to a lowly linetrooper statline.
sep.gifFor this reason, it’s important to pay attention to who should and shouldn’t be out there shooting.  In my experience, the Sakiel, Nikoul, Gao-Rael, Gao-Tarsos, Kosuil, the Rasail, and even the Kerail can afford to get wounded without significant drawbacks to their effectiveness in their respective roles.
sep.gifA 1-wound model usually has to fight its way through everything to get to its objective.  It  can’t afford to risk getting shot unopposed.  However, with extra wounds, you skip fighting many enemies to get to the targets you really want.


Your broken-triad Ectros wants to get to the Panoply for the Firefight objective.  There’s an HMG ORC Trooper watching loading bay, however, and you only have 2 or 3 orders.


What you don’t do is shoot the ORC.  You won’t have enough orders for the Panoply.  Just move, facetank the HMG ARO, and continue moving into total cover.  Worst case scenario, you lose 1 wound, and fail the WIP roll.
sep.gifIt’s important to keep this ballsy option in mind, when orders are tight.  It’s the kind of move that may give you the win in the final round.  Triads composed mostly or entirely of Symbiont soldiers can do this, too; as well as all members of a Kerail team.
sep.gifYou can also facetank AROs like this to dash into flanking positions.  Rasails, Ectros, Kerails, Gorgos, and Gao-Tarsos can all afford to risk an enemy’s unopposed shot to get to better targets, like a cheerleaders, a light fireteam, or an obvious squishy Lieutenant.
sep.gifAnd don’t forget Pheroware.  A Symbiobomb can refund a lost wound to an Ectros or Rasail, and a Symbiomate can snuff the hit entirely.


On the human note, don’t let yourself get angry.  I think most of us know not to get worked up over a game of tiny toys for manchildren, but I’ve had my share of fumes over crappy dice, and I’m everyone else, does, too.  For most people, getting mad means thinking less clearly.
sep.gifIt is a dice game.  Infinity is tactics + slot machine action.  There’s lots of double-or-nothing risk-taking.  Sometimes you’ll pass every ARM roll and WIP every objective.  Other times, it might happen that you fail every ARM roll in the game.
sep.gifNo—that will happen.  But when it does, remember that you bought this game (I hope) for fun.

Image result for nerd rage

And on a related note, don’t let your ego get the best of you.  That Limited Insertion tournament I mentioned up there—I was first place running the entire tournament.  I was, until the very last order, of the very last game.  I remember what went through my head as I spent that last order marching my Ectros across Frontline.  “Yeah, I’m gonna win, it’s gonna be awesome, I’m fucking cool.”
sep.gifThat jackass move allowed my opponent to INTELCOM me for the win.  If I had played it cool, just played the game like I had the rest of the tournament, I would have won handily.  I could have just parked those Ectros and won.  But my hubris booted me down to 2nd.
sep.gifSo fuck pride.  If you’re going to dickwave, make sure you be and asshole and dickwave after you win the tournament. 🙂

Remember:  your opponent wants to kill you anyway.  It’s always better that you decide who he gets to kill.




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