I notice my theory articles get a fair bit of traffic, so I’d like to talk about guns and Ballistic Skill in general in Infinity. Some things I would like, some things I actually expect in the future, and some things to run by the perpetual daydreamer.
GENERAL EVOLUTION OF BALLISTIC SKILL BEHAVIOR
As a background, this the changes (in my experience) to gun interactions in Infinity over the years. If you have been playing since 1st or 2nd, skip, you know.
Otherwise―you can see here how Ballistic Skill abilities and interactions have changed subtly and dramatically over the years. In no particular order, the modern standard is listed in bold, compared to its old status quo.
- Templates ignore Partial Cover.
In Second Edition and before, you could gain cover from Templates. This really helped light fireteams survive against rockets and chain rifles.
- Template weapons do not impart a Dodge penalty.
You might see a vestigial organ of the Dodge penalty in Antipersonnel Mines, and in dodging Shotgun templates without Line of Fire, but generally, there is no Dodge penalty. Previously, Dodging a template imparted a PH-6 penalty!
- The 4-inch range was merged with the 8-inch range.
Previously, a Pistols and Grenade’s +3 zone terminated at 4 inches. All these were condensed into the more generous 8-inch range, and the game’s weapon ranges were standardized into four brackets in increments of 8-inches.
- Spitfires lost BS+3 at 0-8 inches.
Spitfires and other Spitfire-like weapons had a BS+3 from 0-24 inches, making them powerful overall. This change gave Pistols, Combi Rifles, and Shotguns a more relevant place.
- Shotguns are BS+6 at 0-8 inches.
Previously, Shotguns were just +3, and were generally ignored.
- HMGs are good at 16-32 inches.
The old HMG range bands looked like this:
0-8/+0 | 8-16/+3 | 16-32/+3 | 32-48/-3 | DAM15 | Burst 4 | Damage: Normal
- The Targeted state imparts a BS+3 bonus to the targeter’s troops.
In Second Edition and before, Targeted just let you do Guided Ammunition, and nullified the BS-6 penalty to Speculative shots. The Forward Observe roll was also its own Short Skill, Burst 1, and could not benefit from Fireteam bonuses.
- Suppressive Fire is an option.
And “Suppression Fire” is no more. Suppression Fire allowed you to plop a 2-inch wide marker on the table. Any troop which crossed that marker took your weapon’s full Burst and BS mods. This include all models include where multiple models moved in a single order, like Fireteams and G:Sync units. Shooting at another target broke Suppression, like it does now.
The old suppression was not as broadly useful as the new one, but I did like it. It behaved much more like real-life suppression fire. It was nice being able to say, My ___ is locking down ____, for any kind of gun, not just Burst 3+ weapons.
- Marker-state troopers impart BS-3 from Surprise Shot.
Previously, the Surprise Shot from Camouflage and Impersonation acted like Berserk, where both parties made a Normal roll, instead of a Face-to-Face roll. However, the marker-state unit resolved his roll first.
In many cases, a camo unit’s target just died, and there was nothing the target could do. In many other cases, however, the camo was a liability. A camo unit shooting a TAG or HI probably wasn’t going to kill it, and so the TAG would get an unopposed shot back.
- Smart Ammunition is a BS+6 attack, versus a PH-3 Dodge.
Targets of guided munitions could only make ARM rolls against the inevitable damage. Hackers could ARO, but it was a WIP roll against an auto-hitting missile, instead of a cumulative BS-3 mod against a rolled shot. Being on the receiving end of guided munitions was dismal and thoughtless.
- Change Facing is now a PH-3 roll.
This is a big one. Previously, Change Facing was a thing you just did when declaring the ARO, but Change Facing gave you no roll with which to oppose your opponent’s. Flanking enemies was therefore the easiest way to get unopposed shots, and Airborne Deployment was significantly more popular (in my experience) in those days.
As you can overall see, the general trend has been move where +3 and -3 mods do or don’t apply, removing opportunity for unopposed shots, and generally making shooting interactions less binary. No longer is the HMG just the Weapon Of Choice™.
And a technical change is the existence of the native BS+6 bonus. We only see this in one place, shotguns. High BS bonus versus Burst bonus is not a central design tradeoff in most weapons. This may be because high BS is more threatening in ARO, and Infinity is designed only to modify Burst in ARO. But of course, that could change, and more.
LIGHTWEIGHT “HEAVY” WEAPONS
In the basics, one issue I notice consistently with this game is that few players bother with heavy weapons on light infantry unless the light infantry are in a fireteam. This strikes me as rather backwards design, since Infinity began with only non-fireteam armies. Changing “heavy” weapons to “light” would result in one or two simple new guns looking like this:
LMG (Light Machine Gun)
0-8/-3 | 8-16/+0 | 16-32/+3 | 32-48/-3 | DAM13 | Burst 4 | Damage: Normal
Basically, this weapon would replace HMGs for Light Infantry, a rifle-caliber box- or belt-fed gun that your average joe could actually carry. Presently, most players avoid buying HMGs on Light Infantry, due to the opportunity cost of the low-skill platform. A cheaper LMG might incite more players to put the “bigger gun” on unlinked Light Infantry.
If you would like to know the real-life difference between rifles, LMGs, and HMGs, I recommend this video from Lindybeige.
This is an LMG:
An HMG is basically impossible to operate handheld, without mechanical assistance. Extending the point, most light infantry should be running around with Light Rocket Launchers, Flammenspeers, and Panzerfausts, instead of Heavy Rocket Launchers and Missile Launchers. Obviously some macho factions like Kazaks and Morats should be exceptions, but I expect if we saw the troop design doctrine rework light infantry to have cheaper SWC-lite “heavy” weapons, we’d see a lot more rockets and machine guns on standalone light infantry. This design change would emergently result in more SWC freed up.
The non-choice of an HMG on a Fusilier instead of an HMG on a Swiss Guard might also be remedied by scaling costs, but scaling costs are a tricky one to balance. Even a point or two too expensive can push some troops into undesirable territory. See the profiles of current Zhanshi, or old Celestial Guards.
COMBINING EXISTING DESIGNS
There is also plenty of room in Infinity for combining existing into novel new weapons, without necessitating paragraphs and pages of explanation, like CrazyKoalas and Pheroware require.
You basically already see this everywhere with CCWs. It would be extremely easy to make a Fire CCW. The same is occasionally done to rifles with Breaker and AP ammunition, but they could go further than that with simple, game-changing but not game-breaking new entries. Such as:
0-8/+6 | 8-16/+0 | 16-24/-3 | DAM13 | Burst 2 | Stun
Impact Template (Small Teardrop)
The Stun Shotgun is a gun I fully expect to see in the O-12 faction and other Concilium-tied regiments. If the designers ever write anti-lethal Concilium Convention campaigns or ITS missions, such guns would be a must.
However, there’s room to combine concepts to other ends—that is, to condense existing entities. You already saw this along N3, when Meta-Agility was removed, and simply split into Climbing Plus • Super-Jump, which is literally all that Meta-Agility was. Other ill-used tools like the Hedgehog Weapon and Swarm Grenades also disappeared.
Now, I do not oppose the existence of nested rules, since it’s much easier to write Morat than “Isolation Immunity • Loss of Lieutenant Immunity • Religious Troop” every time one creates a Morat trooper with the Morat skill. It very well may be the case in the future that the Red Fury, for example, disappears, and is upgraded to a Shock Spitfire or downgraded to a Shock Marksman Rifle. Or contrariwise, they might replace all Shock Marksman Rifle profiles with (Marksmanship L1) Marksman Rifle. Not that I expect or want that, but we have precedent for things to compress that way.
BASIC TRAIT: SEMI OR AUTO
Newer players (and older players) might find this idea horrid, but in my experience, Triads, Haris teams, and Fireteams in general, killed low Burst weapons in Infinity. The only unlinked low-Burst weapons I see, ever, are on power platforms like the Noctifer or Nikoul. Previously, you might actually take a Missile Alguacil in generic Nomads, but simply because it was now a possibility to “link” that Alguacil and literally double the Missile’s Burst, why would you bother?
In the distant future of Infinity, wherever weapons are receiving some kind of “ballistic advantage” (such as in Triads), the advantage is keyed to the weapon’s innate trait: automatic or semiautomatic.
Automatic weapons, when advantaged, receive +1 Burst.
Semiautomatic weapons, when advantaged, receive +3 Ballistic Skill.
I would personally find that a more interesting interaction than B2 Snipers, Missiles, Rockets, and Contenders everywhere these days.
NEW TRAIT: PRECISION
Built-in optics on modern weapons allow a focused marksmen to pinpoint a smart round on a single target.
In the Active Turn, any BS Attack with a Precision weapon receives a BS+3 MOD.
This trait would add play to the Ballistic Skill MOD in the Active Turn to what is currently only played out in a weapon’s Burst. A weapon with this trait in a Triad, for example, would be firing Burst 1 or 2, but at BS+6 native, before range and cover apply.
NEW TRAIT: HI-ROF
The longer the trooper holds the trigger, the more rounds release.
Hi-ROF would play as an inverse of the Saturation rule: Any BS Attack with a Hi-ROF weapon receives a +1 Burst MOD, for every declared target after the first.
This trait would incentivize “high-burst” weapons to aggressively sweep multiple targets at once, instead of “slicing the pie” and dumping all Burst into a single target, as is the case in the majority of BS Attack interactions in Infinity.
NEW SKILL: SATURATED FIRE
The trooper holds the trigger and empties his magazine into the enemy.
As an Entire Order skill, Saturated Fire allows the user to declare an enemy target in his LoF and place an Impact Template (Small Teardrop). The attack has a flat modifier according to Saturated Fire’s range and enemy Cover, ignoring all other BS MODs, including Visibility Zones, Camouflage, etc. Saturated Fire has a fixed Burst value of 3, but uses the weapon’s Damage and Ammunition. This Burst may not be increased through special skills or other bonuses (such as Hi-ROF, Fireteams, etc.)
0-8/+0 | 8-16/-3 | 16-24/-6 | Burst 3
Saturated Fire could make its way onto most B3+ weapons (Rifles, Spitfires, etc), as a way to compete against the overbearing strength of Camo and ODD MODs. But as it is, that strikes me as needed extreme vetting, so I’ll presume that it is a unique gun attribute for the following.
Putting it all together, here are some examples of novel guns in this hypothetical future Infinity. For reference, on normal profiles, Light Shotguns cost 3 points, Combi Rifles cost 8 points, and HMGs cost 16 points.
0-8/+0 | 8-16/+3 | 16-32/-3 | 32-48/-6 | DAM11 | Burst 4 | Normal
Cost: 7 pts, 0 SWC
Good Burst, or good Damage? The Bullpup is a high-ROF, low-caliber rifle, designed to be an alternative type of Burst 4 primary gun, at 0 SWC. The choice when to choose the Bullpup over Combi is dependent on whether you expect to be ordering your gunner against high Burst/BS enemies (favoring the Bullpup), or 0-8 ranges and high enemy Armor (favoring the Combi). It’s a subtle but important choice, and we generally don’t get options like this in Infinity without paying SWC.
The Bullpup would be a staple in FRRM, and would probably also be available in Acontecimento, Corregidor, or Qapu-Khalqi. It would be quite in line with Infinity’s general standard of “different, not better” choices.
0-8/+0 | 8-24/+3 | 24-32/+0 | 32-48/-3 | DAM13 | Burst 2 | Shock
Cost: 9 pts, 1 SWC
The Designated Marksman Rifle is a direct application of the concepts of the high-accuracy, low-burst, semiautomatic weapon. In fluff concept, it would be the sort of snappy MLG SEAL-team headshot rifle.
In mechanics, it is the kind of gun used to overcome high-burst or high-BS-modifier targets, like a long-range shotgun, but without a template. A DMR would be effective both in and out of a fireteam.
0-8/-3 | 8-16/+0 | 16-32/+0 | 32-48/-3 | DAM14 | Burst 4 | Normal
Auto, Suppressive Fire, Hi-ROF
0-8/-3 | 8-16/+0 | 16-32/+3 | 32-48/-3 | DAM14 | Burst 3 | Normal
Auto, Burst: Single Target, Saturated Fire (Small Teardrop)
Cost: 15 pts, 1.5 SWC
The Microgun is a handheld minigun with 3 modes: a Saturated Mode discussed earlier, one where the operator pre-spins the action for precise firing, and the main mode, full-auto Schwarzneggar mode.
I really don’t know why a proper minigun doesn’t already exist in Infinity. A lower-point, lower-SWC heavy weapon to soak swathes of troops with pure burst would be a fantastic tool, and would fit right in in PanOceania, Ariadna, and Haqqislam. Microguns funciton primarily as crit-fishing weapons, relying on the overwhelming amount of dice to win the exchange. I’m sure Microgun models would be a riot on the table.
0-16/+0 | 16-24/+3 | 24-32/-3| 32-48/-6 | DAM12 | Burst 4 | Fire
Auto, Hi-ROF, Saturated Fire (Small Teardrop)
Cost: 16 pts, 1 SWC
The Rocket Pod is an “attack helicopter” weapon, a dumbfire hail of high-velocity light ordnance. Rocket Pods would be a weapon unique to TAGs, REMs, and very special snowflakes. A unit with a Rocket Pod would beg the player to run the unit past a clump of enemies and split the Burst to maximize the benefits of Hi-ROF, risking a wound on itself to blast 2 to 3 others in hellfire.
0-8/+0 | 8-16/+3 | 16-24/-3| 24-32/-6 | DAM13 | | Burst 3 | Fire
Auto, Suppressive Fire, Hi-ROF
Cost: 14 pts, 1.5 SWC
Unlike the effusive plumes of Flamethrowers, the Zippo is a precise stream of liquid fire. It is designed to hose soft targets in flames from afar. For added fun, it mandatorily adds the Explode L1 skill. 🙂
0-8/-3 | 8-24/+3 | 24-40/+6| 40-96/+0 | DAM14 | Burst 1 | AP+Shock
Cost: 15 pts, 1.5 SWC
Conceptually, the Railgun is an accelerated ultrahigh-velocity smoothbore round, fired with such tremendous force that glancing shots can cause concussive trauma. CB might fluff it further by having it be a multibarrelled weapon, firing a triplet of magnetically accelerated slugs on the target to ensure a hit.
The Railgun is an extreme example of the BS vs Burst option defecit I discussed above. Mechanically, the Railgun is a Burst 1 tool designed to overwhelm negative BS mod or high-burst defense troopers with a single, massive +9 mod shot. In a Fireteam, the troop with a Railgun would be the bearer of the mythical +12 mod, albeit at Burst 1.
In extant Infinity entities, the Railgun is an Ojotnik + Marksmanship L1 + Marksmanship LX combined into a single weapon.
I have not yet seen a player disagree that more “faction-exclusive” weapons would be a good move. Of the existing factions, Combined Army, Tohaa, Ariadna are equipped with exclusives. Only we Tohaa get Viral Combis, pricey but simple. Combined Army gets Sepsitors, Smart MULTI Snipers, and several flavors of Plasma unavailable to others. Ariadna has T2 guns, Ojotniks, Molotoks etc. To a degree, Haqqislam and Nomads have faction-exclusives, too. But it would be nice to see some simple guns that are restricted as factional flagbearers.
My dream PanO weaponry would be two very simple gun to reflect its PanO’s high-techness, without adding another new pricey piece.
0-8/+0 | 8-16/+3 | 16-32/-3 | 32-48/-6 | DAM13 | Burst 3 | Nanotech
Auto, Suppressive Fire
0-8/-3 | 8-16/+3 | 16-32/-3 | 32-48/-6 | DAM15 | Burst 1 | Double-Trouble
Cost: 8 pts, 0 SWC
A Rifle with Nanotech ammo, price the same as a Combi Rifle. The Nanorifle would be a basic gun for PanO specialists and heavies that would perform well for a skilled player, and a great BTS-hitter that doesn’t blur faction flavors of Haqqislam or Tohaa.
0-8/-3 | 8-16/+0 | 16-48/+3 | 48-96/-3 | DAM15 | Burst 2 | Nanotech
0-8/-3 | 8-16/+0 | 16-48/+3 | 48-96/-3 | DAM15 | Burst 1 | Double-Trouble
Cost: 13 pts, 1 SWC
The Nanosniper is a cheaper sniper rifle option for PanO, moderate on points and lite on SWC. The Nanosniper has a B1 DT shot for ARO, like MULTI weapon’s DA options. Kamaus, Bolts, and Black Friars could replace a Nanosniper over the old MULTI snipes.
I really notice in my PanO the lack of SWC-affordable sniper-range weapons. Since PanO gets no smoke save 1 Eclipse launcher on a 50+ point platform, the PanO units who do have such weapons have to be obsessively attended to. I still don’t buy the “no Smoke” excusemongering made against PanO, but if it has to be our restriction, there are good workarounds like this gun here.
For Yu Jing, I had a fun inspiration for a special Yu Jing disposable weapon, after reading about the historical repeating crossbow, the Chu-Ko-Nu:
0-8/-3 | 8-16/+0 | 16-32/+3 | 32-48/-3 | DAM13 | Burst 5 | Shock
Auto, Disposable (1)
Cost: 2 pts, 1 SWC
The weapon is a one-off volley of rapid-fire anti-infantry slugs. The Chu-Ko-Nu could make its way on some Sun Tze Marksman, Zuyong, or Zhanying profiles.
ALEPH lacks long-range weapons, and has a surplus of boring AP close-combat weapons, so why not make a disposable long-range weapon that can also be retained as a close-combat weapon?
0-8/+6 | 8-24/+3 | 24-32/+0 | 32-48/-3 | DAM=PH | Burst 1 | AP+Shock
Semi, Precision, AP+Shock CC, Throwing Weapon (Disposable: 1)
Cost: 2 pts, 0 SWC
The Akontia is a jet-assisted teseum-carbon alloy spear, designed with attention by ALEPH for its forces, able to be flexibly used in both ranged and close combat.
And now for something completely different: