I thought it was time to get back to writing some of the more tactical articles that I was used to producing over the last couple of years, so after a couple of recent games running pure Kazaks in limited insertion, I figured where better to start than there?
A lot of Kazak models weigh in at the “elite” end of the scale in Ariadna, and as a result, this makes some of them fairly straightforward to use. Generally, shoot the other guy to bits, survive, and score objectives. But one of the more nuanced choices among the Kazaks is the expensive (but insanely flexible) Scout. Of all the pieces I’ve seen used in the Kazak arsenal, this seems to be one of the models that people have most trouble with using. Often in fact, players are expecting it to perform a similar role to a simple Foxtrot FO, and they find themselves disappointed in paying the extra expense without getting any extra mileage.
Today though, I hope to shed some light on the real STALKERS of the Tartary sectorial, going over what the model does, some of the tactical uses, where they should be used, and some of the pitfalls to avoid.
So let’s get started!
To start with, the Scout has a similar profile to our other camo infiltrating brethren (Foxtrots, Chasseurs and SAS). For those of you who are less acquainted, that basically boils down to Infiltration, Camoflage, and Multiterrain. In addition, the SAS has Martial Arts L2 (exemplifying its melee role), the Chasseur has the incredible Sixth Sense L1, and the Scout has Marksmanship L1, giving it shock on all its weapons). Otherwise, all of them are near identical in terms of statline, with the SAS only pulling ahead on CC skill and paying slightly more accordingly. The Scout though is unique for having the only ARM (1, which is nothing special) and BS 12 (a more noticeable bump).
|Foxtrot||4-4||13||11||13||13||0||0||1||3 (4 US)|
|Chasseur||4-4||14||11||13||13||0||0||1||2 (4 MRRF)|
|SAS||4-4||19||11||13||13||0||0||1||2 (4 Scots)|
Overall though the points cost is the biggest outlier. Looking at the common FO profile, Foxtrots cost 18 Chasseurs costing 20, SAS costing 24 and Scouts all the way up at 30. Clearly then, stats isn’t where it’s at. No, where the Scout pulls ahead is it’s wonderful array of fantastic equipment.
You see, while most of the other profiles are stuck with a standard rifle on a scoring profile, the most interesting profiles for the Scout are instead equipped with an Ojotnik, a unique DMG 14 weapon with arguably one of the best range bands in the game.* That’s right folks…. +3 within 8-32″. Fantastic. On top of this, the Ojotnik is AP, and thanks to the Marksmanship Lvl1 on the Scout, Shock as well.
*I know the Scout also has a Boarding Shotgun and AP Sniper profiles, but both aren’t really interesting enough vs. the competition in Vanilla to usually be worth including. As I lack much experience with either one and find them less effective than other choices, I’ll be focusing only on the Ojotnik profiles for now.
Rounding out his specialist weapons, the Scout also has Mines (just like the Foxtrot and Chasseur) but he gains flexibility in being able to trade them out for E-Maulers (if you don’t take him as an FO, namely, you’re trying to save a point) and crucially, D-Charges. This lets the Scout blow open doors to the Armory rooms, complete the Sabotage classified objective, and maybe once in a blue moon blow somebody to hell in close combat.
All of these point to a clear direction for the Scout – flexibility. He pays a lot more in points compared to the other skirmishers in faction, but he gains quite a bit in capability. If it’s barebones scoring, minelaying and stacking mods in suppressing you want, the much cheaper Foxtrot is definitely the right call. But if you want something that can adapt to multiple roles, cover more bases, and play a much more aggressive flanking attacker, then the Scout is considerably more effective.
So far, so good then. The equipment profile of the Scout looks fairly straightforward as an upgraded skirmisher, primarily gaining a better gun and a few bits as well. But what makes the Scout stand out, and simultaneously, harder to utilize, is how to use it.
First things first, the Scout is a “bully” model. For those of you in Infinity who are familiar with snipers, you might be familiar with the concept, but the idea basically is a model that excels on picking off models that are much weaker than it is. The Scout isn’t a straightforward gunfighter then, as low burst tends to make fair fights too risky and it isn’t durable enough to take a hit on the chin. Nor is it disposably cheap either, like many Ariadna models. So even if you do get into a tactically sensible fair-fight, there’s always a decent sized chance it will go wrong and you’ll lose 10% of your army quite trivially.
Second of all, appearances to the contrary, the Ojotnik Scout is not a standard Sniper either. He’s decent enough at shooting, sure, but the Scout is inherently a flexible and mobile model, that wants to adapt to an evolving gameplay situation in order to get the best out of its abilities. Primarily, snipers are just too static, and not only do we have better options for them in faction, but it near guarantees that the Scout isn’t using a decent sized chunk of his toolkit. He of course can adapt to situational sniping as he carries himself around the board (which we’ll get into) but I just want to caution readers against leaving him in a firebase all day long.
Finally, the Scout does not have a fixed role. A lot of models in Infinity have a single role they aim to perform all game and stick to it, but the Scout deploys with one plan and adjusts on the fly. How you play it in one game is almost unrecognizable to how it performs in another, and that adaptive mindset is definitely the primary focus of the model.
This leads us nicely to…
Step 1 – Shooting
Namely, abuse range bands! The Ojotnik is an amazing gun, but to get the most out of it, you really want to abuse range bands more than any other weapon due to the low burst. This weapon is unique for having a range band advantage vs. just about any other weapon in the game, so vs. Snipers and HMG’s you can hit them accurately inside of 16″, vs. Rifles you can clip them beyond 16″ and vs. Spitfires you can hit them outside 24″. So no matter which opposing model you’re fighting, you can (and should) be able to engage them in such a way that you’re always stacking the odds heavily in your favor.
This flexibility, combined with the fact that the gun is essentially both AP and Shock means that the Scout is lethal to just about anything. It’ll still take some time to plink away a beefy tag outside of 32″ or just about anything with a negative modifier, but in essence, the Scout is at the very least a “threat” to almost every model your opponent can field.
Really the only weaknesses of the weapon is trying to fight inside 8″ and beyond 32″. Obviously you want to avoid these types of fights where possible, but sometimes it’s just so tactically necessary that at least you have the option. In the former case, don’t forget to use your pistol! I think I’ve scored more kills with the Scouts pistol than just about any other handgun wielding model in the game, just due to positioning (and especially when the enemy model is busy dodging a mine, see below). His handgun is nothing special, but at least you still have camo and the shots still have shock, which means you can likely still stack mods and pop a weak cheerleader, especially in the back.
In contrast, fights outside of 32″ are a different ballgame. As a camo model that has infiltration these don’t tend to come up very often, especially as you almost always have the option to move in closer under a marker state and get a more favorable range band. Still, if you do have to fight beyond 32″ at least you’re only on 0 mods for range. This means that unless they have negative modifiers like camo, at least you can still hit them on a 9, whereas opponents might be fishing for much lower beyond 32″ (usually -3 for range, -3 for cover, -3 for camo and maybe even -3 for Surprise Shot for that magical -12).
Now 9’s aren’t great to ensure a kill (there’s a decent chance nothing will happen in a F2F roll, and most opponents have higher odds of dodging), but if it means stacking the mods so low that your opponent has to dodge with something like a TR bot, that’s infinitely better than trying to engage them inside 32″ where both your odds are better.
Shooting inside 32″, TR bot opts to shoot – 35% you wound , 32% nothing happens, 32% TR bot wounds
Shooting outside 40″, TR bot opts to shoot – 37% you wound, 43% nothing happens, 19% TR bot wounds.
Better performance improvement overall. But really, you’re best off if you try this with Surprise Shot. This forces the TR bot to dodge (it can’t hit at -12) and you get the following:
Shooting outside 40″, TR bot opts to dodge – 44% you wound, 46% nothing happens, 9% TR bot wounds.
In summary, there are a few cases where the Scout might want to fight outside 32″, so even if it isn’t a particular strength for the model, it does come up. There are very few models out there you can’t bully with the Scout at some uncomfortable range band, so finding some weaker piece and bullying it from one of those sweet spots is key to using this model.
The other half of this coin though is that because the Scout is such a threat to anything, anywhere, and costs a fair chunk of points, in turn, it has a big target on its head. Now we’ve already discussed how the Scout won’t stand up well in a real firefight, so we need to look at other ways to keep this model alive. This brings us to…
Step 2 – Positioning
Scouts are excellent flanking models. Unlike a lot of infiltrators, they are just as comfortable at fighting decently up close and plinking models halfway across the table. However, they are just as squishy and quite a bit more in points, which combined with their less than ideal 0-8″ rangeband gives them all the more reason to avoid a quick death from many of the template weapons, mines and shotguns that tend to plague any midfield.
But it isn’t just weaponry that encourages the Scout to take a flank, it’s tactics. Offensively, one of the key reasons to situate your Scout on a flank is because it gives you an easier way to circumvent the most dangerous enemy troops, and hopefully find a way around and over to start bullying some cheerleaders or other vulnerable pieces. Most opponents have fewer models eyeing up the flanks compared to the midfield, which lets you not only makes it easier to fight them one-on-one (if you want/have to) but it makes it much easier to slip past one as a camo marker (where you can always recamo if you get discovered).
Defensively, the Scout can also have an easier time of running away again towards the ends of a turn. Your own left/right corners tend to have fewer eyes on them on a given turn, and it usually costs a fair few orders for opponents to go after the Scout again. If you do have valuable cheerleaders or a Lt back there, this also gives you the option of laying mines defensively, whereas a Foxtrot or Chasseur is likely to be much further away by comparison (We’ll cover mines in more detail shortly).
Finally, being on the flanks is a half-decent place to watch for AD models, as markers have 360 vision (essentially), most opponents aren’t willing to take an unopposed shot to the face (straight up 40% chance with a pistol to kill an AD model landing in the open, 75% if the Ojotnik), and you can sprinkle mines again defensively if they move in close enough.
Oh look, that’s the second time we mentioned mines. So I guess we should discuss them.
Step 3 – Laying mines
Unlike Chasseurs, Scouts can’t start with Mines in play, but that makes them no less useful. If you’ll recall, we mentioned how the Scout has a bit of a “weak spot” within 0-8″, and Mines in many ways help to mitigate this weakness. The best way to do this is often to combine them with the Pistol, as while it’s nothing too special, most opponents would rather dodge than fight back in an attempt to avoid the mine. In such cases, your average PH 11 trooper only has about a 25% chance to dodge you (40% to dodge the mine) so you’ve got decent odds of whacking him. Because of this, if you know they’re going to want to dodge it’s often better to break cover if it means that you can clip him in the open, bringing your odds up to a comfortable 50% chance of killing an ARM 1 troop (and he could always fail to dodge the mine as well).
Aside from using them as a “direct weapon”, there’s also laying mines for later on. Scouts will likely be adopting a different position from the rest of your other mine-laying models, which makes them better suited to lay mines on the flanks while other models manage the center. Because the scout has both Camo (and therefore Stealth), it’s often easy to creep around key opposing models and start laying mines around/behind them, often tying up things like link teams and wasting orders until the Mine is dealt with.
This makes minelaying with the Scout very different from how you use it with something like a Foxtrot or Chasseur, who are more focused on blunting an opponent’s advance. Instead, forward probing Scouts will be trying to circumvent enemy forces and drop off mines deep in their territory, killing opportune models along the way and retreating to one of the obscure corners of the board.
Next, there’s using mines defensively to cover the Scout itself. If you’re too far forward (and can’t/don’t want to spend orders retreating again) or you’re covering a particularly good long firelane, Mines can help cover the blind spots. In this sense, the mines protect the Scout more like a good sniper/heavy weapon, perhaps making it difficult to take some approach or simply making it that much harder for the nearest model to it to go and deal with it on your opponent’s turn.
In summation then, if you’ve done your job right, the best threats to the Scout will have been eliminated, the mine will keep the opponent outside 8″, and the nearest model might be too weak to go and deal with it. He can now either leave it alone (in which case, you can probably go and hunt down more cheerleaders, score, kill key models etc) or some more important model will have to go and deal with it, again letting the scout “handle” a decent chunk of enemy points, whether they’re dead or not.
Finally, we should make a quick mention of E-Maulers. These are a particularly dangerous bit of kit, because while a lot of more durable models aren’t nearly so terrified of treading on a mine, an E-Mauler with a bit of luck will seriously cripple one for the rest of the game by putting them in an Isolated state. Even high BTS models need to be concerned, as at most they are getting BTS 5 (halved from 9) which means failing roughly 1/3 of the time. Furthermore, if they’re HI, REMs or Tags, then the E-Mauler will also Immobilize them, potentially neutralizing a dangerous threat permanently unless they get an engineer over there. Lastly, any model with comms equipment loses that as well. In short, any high-tech model in the game is not going to want to tread on one of these, and even low-tech models that plan on not being Irregular for the rest of the game aren’t exactly fond of the idea.
The tricky part with E-Maulers is two-fold. Firstly is that while the opponent doesn’t know you have them while you’re in a camo state, your information is open as soon as you reveal (e.g. deploying one) so most savvy opponents will know that this is what you deployed. Therefore you want to keep the “threat” hidden as long as possible. Second of all, the E-Mauler is sadly NOT on the FO (specialist) profile of the Scout, which tends to be the preferable option in much of ITS. That being said, if you’re running missions that don’t particularly need specialists, or you are keen to shave off a point, then they are an excellent option.
And speaking of specialists and missions, the Scout has an excellent non-combat role…
Step 4 – Objectives
Aside from being pretty decent in combat, the scout is also an excellent model for accomplishing objectives. The base profile comes with a decent price-tag, which combined with camouflage makes it pretty strong for any type of zone control scenarios. It’s easy for opponents to think that a pair of camo markers are only mines, fakes, Hardcases and the like, but when you unveil a pair of 30 point scouts it can dramatically swing the points in a zone that your enemy thought they comfortably held.
Furthermore, all the most interesting Scout profiles come with D-charges. This lets you accomplish the Sabotage objective very early on given his Infiltration, as most table setups you’ll be able to pick a terrain feature right next to his deployment. D-charges also give you another option to blow up Armory room doors on scenarios with central rooms, as well as do things like destroy Nimbus Antenna if you have the chance.
Finally, Scouts have the excellent FO profile, which I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this piece. This turns the model into a specialist, allowing you to score most standard objectives. On top of this, you also gain the marginally useful “Forward Observe” skill, which lets you mark targetable objectives you can’t get to and bomb them with missiles instead… not to mention the usual uses of the skill, especially things like buffing Spec Fire. Lastly, being an FO gets you a Flash Pulse, giving you even greater weapon versatility. Many decent models out there can’t be killed so easily with an Ojotnik, but stunning them with a decent roll via Flash Pulse can be incredibly useful in a pinch.
So as we already discussed in the positioning section, the Scout wants to be taking a flank, which makes it ideal for both grabbing objectives over on the side and forward observing targets behind enemy lines. Usually if you want to go for anything more central, you might want to divert a different closer model to the task, but doing things like blowing the side doors of a central Armory room isn’t exactly out of the way for where the Scout wants to be. Otherwise, as they’re pretty flexible models, they can still go for both yours and the opponent’s more central objectives, but just be wary of getting into close-range “fair” fights, and decide if it’s not better to send a cheaper and more disposable model for the task.
Step 5 – Lieutenant
Finally, the Scout has the option of being your armies Lt, which is currently the only option to get a Camo Lt option without spending any SWC, even if it is a fair price tag. While most Lt options you buy in Ariadna will undoubtedly be squishy, being in a camo state negates this nicely, forcing most opponents to spend usually another order to get to you first (to discover you) and making it harder to kill you once they do (factoring in the -3 from camo). He can also lay mines for his own protection, detonate D-Charges safely after others lay them, and because the Ojotnik is such a flexible weapon, he can usually contribute to a fight from a safe distance without over-exposing.
Really the main downside here is cost. The Scout Lt weighs in at a hefty 29 points, which is more than every other camo Lt option currently. Furthermore, a lot of this cost is going towards equipment and abilities he may not necessarily use, as an exposed Lt like this is likely to get killed pretty quickly as soon as your opponent discovers he is your Lt, given the inherently fragile nature of the Scout. So why might you want to do this?
First of all, during the last turn of the game you don’t care about Loss-of-Lieutenant, so there’s always at least one turn where you’ll get some mileage out of him, even if you do play him cautiously tucked away all game. Because the Scout has a long range weapon in the Ojotnik, once you do bring the Lt into play, he doesn’t exactly have to play catch-up keeping pace with the rest of your models on the board, and revealing a last minute decent ranged weapon from a piece that was inactive all game can quickly swing things in your favor.
Second of all, certain scenarios and situations help to mitigate this risk. Chain of Command is the obvious inclusion, and while Ariadna only has one source of it outside of SpecOps events (The Unknown Ranger), the option does exist. Scenarios like Decapitation also make your Lt obvious anyway (and remove the LoL penalty if he dies) so many players enjoy having a more active Lt and the protection of camo in these cases, rather than the usual shell-game of cheaper troopers that you cannot mask the Lt’s identity with so easily.
Finally, one has to consider the alternatives for a camo Lt. Your main options in Ariadna are
1.) The Foxtrot, who while much cheaper in points (17) costs a massive 2 SWC. This means you have some trade-offs to make, as some lists have a lot more of one than the other, and eating up a third of your SWC for a simple rifle is not a decision most take lightly.
2.) The SAS, who is nearly exactly the same, but 5 points more and gains some melee power. Unless you’re always getting your Lt into melee (and note that most dedicated assassins will still probably beat you out) this is definitely a profile to avoid.
3.) The Tankhunter, who costs 25 points but still 1 SWC. He gains in durability, WIP (good for the roll-off) and Courage over the Scout, with most of the weapons being a debatable trade. Again, like the Foxtrot, really this is just about trade-offs, as both are good options.
4.) Bruant, who while strictly speaking only Limited Camo (which doesn’t tend to matter if you only plan on using him for a single turn) and costing 1 SWC, is still one point cheaper and brings a real heavy weapon to the party in the Molotok. This generally makes him a slightly better gunfighter, but of course you pay for it and lose some of the weapon and model flexibility in the package.
Overall I’d say the Scout compares very fairly with these options as a viable alternative, and the only one without SWC cost. Even though he is the most expensive option, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, with both surviving army point/zone scoring scenario possibilities to consider and Limited Insertion now being an ITS option that makes more expensive Ariadna models inherently desireable. It won’t be an option you reach for every game, and indeed many like myself still prefer the cheaper Line Kazak profiles for overall cutting of costs. Nevertheless, if you enjoy the flexibility of the Scout and are looking for a better way to protect your Lt, then it might be a choice to consider in your next game.
In conclusion, Scouts are a very flexible model that some opponent’s struggle to get enough use out of, but I hope this article shines some light on some of the more subtle ways to utilize this piece. Trying to use them like other (read: cheaper) midfield camo infiltrators usually isn’t the way to go, so instead you want to position them further over to the flanks and make use of all their different skills to make the most out of their bigger price tag.
Anyway that’s all from me for today, but hopefully I’ll be back soon with some more tactical advice on getting the most out of all your infinity models.
Until next time! 🙂