Hello! This is Klinktastic here, and I’m currently in the process of transferring my Jihad Campaign over to www.ourbattletech.com. Until then, I’m going to post up some campaign tactics primers to get you all in mood for some campaign after action reports.
This first tactic article was based off of a very good article written by Fireangel called Conventional Infantry 101 (link was broke when CBT.com crashed). The article was primarily about infantry organization in the BattleTech Universe and discusses the different types of infanty one would see or use in the game. Well this article got me thinking about the use of conventional infantry in the use of the campaign thus far. In tabletop strategy games, I’ve always been a fan of infantry. One of my favorite Warhammer 40k Tau tactics was the ‘Fish of Fury. It’s a nifty tactic in which you can drop your troops just far enough away that your fragile troops can shoot without getting attacked in hand to hand combat my 90% of units you’d be facing. Anyway, I digress.
So far in our campaign, I’m the only merc unit that has any conventional infantry. Most of us have some battle armor at least, but not much in the way of conventional infantry. However, we have faced and had “NPC” allied infantry which has given me decent sample size of how to use conventional infantry as they relate to a campaign type game.
To help get everyone on the same page, I’m going to steal the terminology used by Fireangel to classify the types of infantry:
1. Foot – Troops are just on foot, move 1/1/- and typically have 28 troops
2. Jump – Troops have jump gear, move 1/1/3 and typically have 21 troops
3. Motorized – Troops have bikes/jeeps, move 2/2/- or 3/3/- depending on their weaponry and typically have 24 or 28 troops
4. Mechanized – Troops who have small support vehicles (from Total Warfare). They move with a speed based on the vehicle that is made, so faster with hover or slower with wheeled or tracked.
5. Mounted – These are basically Foot, Jump, or Motorized infantry units which have been loaded onto Combat Vehicles that have enough cargo space to carry them. Good examples are the Bandit, Badger, and Goblin.
Uses of Conventional Infantry
Throughout the campaign, we’ve encounter or deployed infantry during obvious defense scenarios. Due to their lack of movement, infantry make great defenders. The premise is, to cluster them close to whatever the objective is and then the enemy will come to you. They are great in urban settings, as Jump or Motorized infantry platoons can move from building to building with relative easy. Buildings give them a cushion against incoming attacks. Additionally, if they are on the 2nd floor or above, they use the Punch Hit Location table, meaning a 1 in 6 chance to hit the head.
Defensively, especially with proper forewarning, you can hide your troops in buildings and the opponent won’t know where they are. My particular favorite strategy is to place them along an area that would ordinarily seem like it is lightly defended. Maybe concentrate your ‘Mech forces to one side, making another look susceptible to attack. Then as the enemy makes their approach down this corridor, you can “ambush” them. Surprisingly, a lot of the popular ‘Mechs made past 3055 don’t really come equipped with MGs, SPLs, or standard SRMs in which to fit Infernos (which is a favorite of mine).
Now ‘Mechs are usually more maneuverable, but in urban environments, they are forced to stick to the streets, while infantry can move between buildings, giving them a huge advantage and allowing them to stick on heavier ‘Mechs that are usually ill-equipped to handle them. There is nothing more satisfying than watching some poor guy shoot your infantry with his ER PPCs and MLs into your infantry units.
There is another use of infantry which is not so obvious, but is quite effective. I call it “territory denial”. By placing infantry in a location, you can all but guarantee opposing ‘Mechs won’t want to get close. It’s useful to deny heavy cover or Line of Sight blocking terrain. It can help funnel your opponents in the direction you want them to go. Just mine fields, infantry can be used as physcological warfare against your opponent. Everyone’s had a ‘Mech get leg critted or swarmed and never want to experience it again. This can be done ad hoc with Mounted infantry to deny what could be very pivotal terrain in the ensuing battle. Often times, you might see your infantry get ignored, maybe they don’t even fire a shot all game. If that is the case, then they have done their job and denied the opponent use of that area of the battlefield.
My favorite use of infantry is to have them equipped with field guns. I have 2 platoons of Foot infantry with two light gauss rifles each for defensive engagements. They aren’t powerful, but great at sniping and good against light ‘Mechs. I personally recommend a few field guns set behind your main block of infantry to poke some holes. Other good field guns are UACs for double tapping (which I believe can’t jam) and regular ACs with Precision ammo (or Flak if you are facing vehicles, aerospace fighters, or other infantry).
Conventional infantry are very cheap and effective crit seekers. You should always have them fire last in a turn to maximize their crit seeking-ness. Personnally, I do not like to use anti-infantry weaponry on my own infantry. Battle armor, vehicles, and some ‘Mechs just do the job so much better. Infantry are best used to deny beneficial terrain, act as decoys, and harass and all for typically pretty cheap.
The new TRO:3085 has some new faction specific special forces conventional infantry units. Eventually I’ll get to reading them over and maybe even using some in the campaign. So yeah, these are the observations I’ve made about conventional infantry over the past couple of months of gaming. In any campaign, infantry are cheap to acquire and maintain. Although they have limited uses, they are definitely useful in the right situations. Since campaigns are typically a conglomeration of varied scenarios that put you in different situations, they are a cheap effective tool to have available for those specific situations. Additionally, they can be used to help control the battlefield in dynamic ways. Next time you play, I’d recommend incorporating a platoon or two of infantry just to start to get the feel for them.