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Tactics / Tactics Tuesday: Solid Decking
« on: July 17, 2019, 02:07:08 am »
Tactics Tuesday: Solid Decking

At the heart of your game of AD is your deck. No matter what units you bring, build or ‘borrow’ from your opponent, using them to their fullest depends on the tactics you employ on them. More than that, though, what cards you choose to bring with you will make or break your game plan far more thoroughly than any other element of your game. So let’s take a look at how to select your deck.

Before we get started, a couple of points.  We’re only looking at a 1-commander set in this article, so just the 30 card deck and only the one commander’s units to use them on. We’re also looking at a generic deck here rather than going into more detail on different builds.

So how should you build your deck? Let’s start with the fundamentals, or more accurately, the fundamentals of deck-building that we won’t be using. Unlike other games that might include a deck-building element, in AD you’re not shuffling and drawing from your deck. You won’t need to worry about what percentage of your deck has cards of type x, so that you’re more likely to draw them. There are also no restrictions about what to put into your deck, so if you really want to you can just take 30 copies of the same card and just spam it. Of course, that’s not really going to be all that helpful to you… unless… (*sits down and starts drawing up a plan for an all-Cougar force that plays nothing but Redline and rams the enemy to death*)

When choosing your cards, you want to have a nice spread of different options to play with. There will be many hard choices when deciding your deck composition, and those choices will only get more difficult as your collection of units (and therefore cards) grows. So which ones will you go for?

I like to build a deck around a few concepts. The portion of your 30 cards you devote to each element will differ, but here’s what I keep in each:

- The Basics. This is the set of cards that you find yourself reaching for time and time again.
- The Response. This is a collection of cards that you can take to respond to what your opponent will bring. Tailor it both to your opponent and to whatever vulnerabilities you’re likely to have.
- The Focus. Whatever you’re looking to do a lot of in a game with your commander, playstyle, forces and strategy, this is your set to build on what you brought in The Basics.
- The Specialists. These are cards that are closely linked to one or two of your units that they can’t live without.
- The Opportunities. This is a set of cards that you might need to use occasionally if a particular situation comes up, or else exploit a great setup for fun and profit.

The Basics.
There’s probably very few surprises in this lot. These cards are basically all out of the core set and are already the ones that get highest rotation in your hands each game. We’re talking about classics like Move, Shoot, Assault, System Crash, Redline, Rapid Fire and Precision Fire.
With these cards, you’ll want to choose enough that you can throw a few of them around in a turn. This usually means 2-3 of each card, and no more. Remember that your maximum hand size is usually 6 cards, and even if you’re going hard for one particular thing it’s often better to take a spread of different cards that do similar things (like if you’re advancing with your forces, some units may Move while others Redline, while still others may Assault as they move). Some of these cards will not need such numbers, but a single copy of the card may still see high rotation (like Rapid Fire or Precision Fire).
Overall, your Basics should come to around 12 cards (or 40% of your total!).

The Response.
This set is another lot of essentials, but generally the card count isn’t all that high… often a single copy of each card will suffice. These are the cards that you will want to use infrequently, but they are very important when you do need them!
The cards in this set include defined response orders like Hard Reboot, general emergency orders like Emergency Repairs and orders that allow you to respond to poor rolls like Buffer and Tactical Analysis. Also try to include at least one Capture card- you’ll need it if the enemy succeeds in using a Core Wipe but doesn’t have a Capture of their own ready to go!

The Focus.
This set will be where you support your basics set and aim for a particular playstyle. You’re probably looking at around 6-8 cards at most here, which is a sizeable chunk of your remainder after the Basics and Response sets.
This is where you ask yourself what general factors will be at play here, and a lot of them relate to your playstyle and planned tactics. Are you going to be an aggressive player? You might look at movement cards like Evasive Manoeuvres and Forced Crossing. Are you going to be spread out and need some more control? Pack a Signal Boost or two. Going to be defensive this game? Hull Down should be there. Will you be focused on Electronic Warfare? Reach for those Core Wipe cards. Whatever it is that you will be doing a lot of if you have your way, support that with cards you can use in your strategy.

The Specialists
Some of your units will need a special orders card to realise their full potential. Here we’re talking about cards like Jamming and Area Defence. You don’t have an absolute need to take these cards, but if you don’t bring them to the battle, maybe it’s time to reconsider whether you should really take that unit or perhaps just pick something else to fill that role.
After these ‘must have’ orders for your unit roles, consider some of the other units that might perform better with their specialised orders. Packing Elephants? Indirect Fire and Blindfire should be in your deck (if they aren’t already as a part of the Focus set). Driving a Vampire or leading some Vipers? Stealth Mode might come in handy. Bears are great places to place Divert Power, and your Centaur with an active sensor pod would love to use their Guided Missiles.
This set should be no more than about 4 cards. 

The Opportunities
If you’ve followed the guidelines above about how many cards from each type you should be taking, at this point you’re probably only able to take another four cards. This is your chance to add in the oddball cards (or at least, oddball compared to your usual strategy). If there’s a card that you’ve always wanted to try out, or one that you think might line up once in a blue moon, this is your chance to go a little wild. Maybe you’re an aggressive player but think you can pull off a spectacular Barrage with a Cheetah after you win the Surprise roll? What if you want to pull off a sneaky Spoiling Attack with your barely-armed Jackal?

Now, I did mention that you might have to make some hard decisions. This is a good thing, and it’s something that’s worth having a play around with. Pick more than 30 cards during your deck-building process, and then start paring back the ones you think are less likely to be used. Justify each card’s presence as you go through, and compare the likely usefulness of cards to make your decisions.
In some cases, you might even have to revisit your force selection to change your units. Having too many specialist units (especially where you have only one of them) might require more cards than you can fit into your deck, and it might be easier to choose a different unit instead of trying to serve those specialists properly with orders cards.

What cards do you like to keep in each of these sets? Do you have a different approach to deck building?

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Tactics / Tactics Tuesday: Building for Victory
« on: July 09, 2019, 05:29:09 pm »
Tactics Tuesday: Building for victory

Last time on Tactics Tuesday, we talked about the logistics phase in general. This time we’ll focus in on one part of that, albeit a part big enough to make it into the game’s tagline: building new units.

Armoured Digital allows players to build new units mid-game, which is rather unique in miniatures wargames and makes a huge difference to how AD plays in comparison to other games. You can send drones off into the fight or even self-destruct them (with the right orders card), safe in the knowledge that you can replace your losses with something else. Games that appear to be all over for one player can swing back the other way with one or two strategically-placed builds.

But how to use this building mechanic to your advantage? It all starts before the game does, in your force selection.

When you choose a force, you’re selecting not only what you put on the table, but what you want to back it up with. This depends somewhat on what you have in your collection: it’s pretty hard to field three Rhinos and a Viper if you only have the starter box, after all! When you build your forces you’ll need to have ready not only what you put on the table, but what you’re planning to build as well (assuming it won’t just be replacements for what you start with, that is!).

The choice of production specs is the key component, and this is the one thing that you get to specifically choose just before you start the game. If you’re playing an organised play event (like a campaign or a tournament), this is your chance to alter your forces to meet your opponent’s list. Are they heavy on the hardened armour? Take Rhinos, a Centaur and Bears. Are they fast raiders? A Meerkat’s jamming array will come in handy. Are they prepared to castle up and defend? You’ll be wanting a Jackal and Elephants.

There’s a lot of sneaky psychological stuff you can do with this build list. Remember that you don’t have to show your opponent any production spec until you actually build that unit, so have some fun with it. Try putting your Viper and Crocodile on the side of the table, complete with miniature and stat card, and when you start building you can instead pull a Bear from the box you have under the table to put into play.

You can take this tactic to the extreme and roll with a force of nothing but, say, Wolves. After the enemy deals with your massed raider wave, they will no doubt be building Elephants to shatter all that reflective armour. However, if you switch build tactics and pump out Rhinos instead, you’ll have the better counter to their forces and roll on in.

So what specs should you look at taking? First, you’ll need to think about how capable your commander is. The ‘generic’ research value for most commanders is 3. This means that you’ll have six production specs for a mid-level research commander, 8 for those who are a bit better at it and only 4 for commanders who think understanding tech is something that ‘other Digipaths do’. If you’re Bastion, those values are 9, 12 or 6 instead. A Bastion commander with Research 4 will not be faced with any difficult choices for production specs!

There are some staple production specs you’ll want in your hand no matter what: things like a replacement command unit (doesn’t have to be the same one you arrived in!), and a transport of some sort. After that, it’s time to make the harder decisions. Do you want to just replace your main combat drones with identical models? Do you want to completely change tactics and roll with different combat units? Are there mission-critical support units, like a Meerkat to compliment your Vampire command vehicle, that are a must-include?

The way I like to approach this is to select one combat drone of each type of firepower (projectile, explosive and energy). I prefer something different to what I have, so if I start with an Elephant in my explosive slot, I’ll probably take a Cheetah or a Cougar. I bend my choices towards what I think my overall strategy will be, so if I start with defensive units I’ll take faster raider types as my production specs, hoping that I’ll weather the first few turns and then send in faster units to finish them off. Alternatively, I might go hard at them in turn 1 and then my Wombat will be further forward, so units like the Bear and Elephant will be built closer to the enemy and not have to travel so far. Remember, too, the terrain that you’ll be playing on. If there are rivers and other water bodies around, you’ll want a Crocodile to cross them effectively. If there’s a lot of LOS-blocking impassable terrain (like buildings or rock formations), you’ll be looking for your artillery and a Jackal.

The last thing to keep in mind is that your production speed is limited. Your ability to produce units hinges on which units you’re building, your Resourcefulness stat and how many resources you have in your Wombat when you crank up the construction rate. With a maximum of three logistic orders on the Wombat each turn, your usual rate of production maxes out at 1.5 drones. This is where it’s worth considering the use of cards like Prepared Build. If you’re happy to sacrifice a couple of combat orders, you could take your Production 5 Rhino down to Production 3 and produce it with only one order, leaving you free to build a second unit in a single turn.

So what do you take into account when you choose your production specs? What are your most common units to build, and what are the ones you like to take but then never construct?

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Tactics / Tactics Tuesday: Supply and Demand
« on: June 25, 2019, 09:38:06 pm »
“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…” –Sun Tzu

Among wargames, it’s rare to see logistics represented in battle-level games. It’s assumed in most cases that the supply, transport, medical, workshop, rations and quartering work is all done either before or the battle. It’s assumed that players just want to battle and not care about the challenge of logistics in a contested environment.
AD cares, though. We think that there’s no reason to keep that challenge from you. And so, with the technological advances from the AD universe in place, you find that the basics logistic elements (repair, resupply and production) are all present at the pointy end of the battle.

Let’s start by having a look at what logistics resources you have available. The primary unit that you will want to pay attention to is the Wombat. Currently the only production unit in the game, the Wombat is your source of replacement vehicles and repair of damaged drones. It’s large, it’s slow and it’s quite vulnerable to the right type of attacker. It’s also easy to hide behind and can roll over the top of and crush enemy drones.

The next unit you will want to look at is your transport (or transports). Here you might go with the Squirrel, the Raccoon or the Armadillo. These guys are all about getting resources and getting out, but as they have more freedom of movement than your combat units (typically), you will find they’re useful as comms repeaters, artillery spotters or even as battering rams.

The Squirrel is the ‘standard’ transport, packing a great capacity of 8, and hardened armour to defend against artillery and ramming damage. This is a great all-rounder to run with, and that additional capacity to take resources is fantastic for any high-resourcefulness commander or a Nomad who’s looking to score the faction victory condition.
 
The Armadillo is a great way to deny raiders. With both Reflective armour and the Resilient trait, it will shrug off damage from energy weapons, at the low cost of only a single point of transport value. If the enemy is guarding that Extractor with Wolves, Crocodiles or Vipers, send these guys in as a hard tactical counter. Just keep an eye out for those Cheetahs, Cougars and Elephants! Also, if you’re the type who loves ramming, stick to Squirrels. Reflective armour is a poor choice to do that with!

The Raccoon is a very different vehicle from the other two. With a 12” standard move, you get a much longer single-bound range than you do with the other vehicles. The reactive armour will save you from projectile attacks at long range, but at only Prot 2 even those will get through from time to time. Carrying only 6 resources isn’t as great as the others, but with your faster moves you might be able to make up the efficiency by getting more loads back to base.


Good logistics starts with a good deployment. At the start of the game, there will be a combat phase before any of your logistic units can move, so there’s no -1 mods for being mobile. You’ll have to decide between an aggressive deployment to get your transports into the Extractor early, and deploying your logistics assets in cover to keep them safe.

Pay additional attention to your Wombat here. It’s a massive unit compared to others, so think hard about where it can or can’t fit through gaps. It’s also one of the few units where you need to think about which way it faces: the transports need access to the rear and the repair and construction work all happens at the front.

Your Wombat comes loaded with enough resources to give you a single new unit, or a couple of the lighter units (like a Jackal or Cheetah). This means that you can probably replace your first loss with a new unit from your existing stocks, but after that you’ll need a resupply. Ideally, you’ll want to keep on hand enough resources to produce a new command unit, in case you lose your existing one. If your commander isn’t logistically inclined, you might not even start of the game with enough to do this, so acquiring more is your top priority.

The most efficient a transport can be is if it is touching the back of the Wombat and one of the docking ports on the extractor at the same time. Then, it can simply spend two logistics actions to move resources to the Wombat, and the Wombat is still free to use all three orders to build rather than loading up by itself. Stepping down from that peak efficiency (which doesn’t happen all that often in real games), you want to look for single-bound distance. Single-bound distance is where a transport only has to make one move action to get between the Wombat and the Extractor. This still gives you a bit of tactical flexibility as to where to place your Wombat, but makes a transport highly effective at its job. It can load, move and unload in a single turn. If you can’t achieve this, don’t worry about bringing your Wombat too close. Use the distance afforded to you by a second bound to put it somewhere out of the fight.

Where possible, keep your transports moving, even where they won’t make it to the Extractor, to keep up that -1 to hit mod. Also try to maximise the cover available to you when moving in, and remember that when docked to the Extractor you will almost always count as being in cover.
A quick note on using your transports for things other than, well, transporting. This is usually the case where you have two transports, and can afford to use one for its primary purpose while the second one hangs out and waits to step in if the first one is too damaged or is destroyed. While all the transports only have an 8” comms bubble, if you put them in range of something that your comms net can’t cover (or provide a second channel if the enemy is using Jamming), you can get some use out of your transport while it’s waiting to step up.

Using them for artillery is also good. If the enemy is putting Reflective-armoured vehicles within range of your artillery but out of LOS, the enemy may not be expecting to be sprung by a sneaky transport at the end of the turn. You can get your lock now and be ready for the enemy next turn, as your transports still count as having moved until the following logistics phase. Make sure that you’re prepared to lose a transport that you use for this purpose, or use an Armadillo if you’re up against energy-armed raiders.

If you’re packing Squirrels, you’ll probably have figured out how great they are as guided torpedoes on wheels. Seek out those enemy units vulnerable to explosive attacks and hit them as hard and as often as you can, as your Squirrels will save against the damage back on a 3+. Also remember that when ramming something with a lower protection stat, you’re going to add +1 ADE and +1 firepower to the attack. Seek out those Prot 2 support units with your Squirrel, or even use your Wombat to roll over Prot 3 raiders!

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Tactics / Tactics Tuesday: Electronic Warfare (part 2)
« on: May 30, 2019, 11:53:52 pm »
Electronic Warfare in AD: Part 2

So in last week’s Tactics Tuesday article, we looked at selecting the right commanders, units and upgrades to get a decent Electronic Warfare action happening. We also looked at the list of EW orders cards available, with a bit of a focus on System Crash and Hard Reboot.

This week, we’ll take a closer look at some of the other cards available at the moment. As stated last week, there are more cards in development (which will be included in future releases), but we’ll leave those out of the conversation for now.

The first cards we’ll look at are Buffer and Tactical Analysis. Both of these cards work similar to a ‘get out of jail free’ card, in that you play them and then hold on to them as an insurance policy for the remainder of game (or until you use them). With both cards, it’s best if you play them early, and the ideal time is the first turn of the game. Not only will you then have them available for when you need them, the first turn usually has a lower likelihood of direct combat so you can afford to spend a couple of your precious orders on these, and you won’t tie up your command unit too much in the process, either.

Both cards are great to play if you’re having a really big turn (6-8 orders), or if you’re having a terrible turn (2-3 orders). If you’re having a big turn, you won’t miss the additional card that you might otherwise have played. If you’re having a terrible turn, grab a couple of System Crash cards to shut down attacking enemy (or Move/Redline to avoid them in the first place) and then play your Buffer to ensure that your next turn is much better.

Flexible Programming came with the Kickstarter sets and is a great card to play if you want to limit your risks in playing something. Maybe you’ve taken a Barrage to use by your fantastically-placed Cheetah, but there’s a decent chance that vehicle will be blown away before it can fire a shot. Take that Barrage and a Rapid Fire to follow it up, but add Flexible Programming to your hand to make sure that you can capitalise on it.

Signal Boost is a great card to play with most electronic attack cards. As cards like Capture, Core Wipe and Jamming all need comms range, adding 8” to your reach is a power move par none. Just remember that it also makes you an easier target to hit, so put yourself in a safe position before activating it (or have a move action handy to drag yourself out of the way of return fire!).

This is a very powerful combination with Jamming. If your Meerkat plays Signal Boost followed by Jamming, you’re up for a 28” bubble of annoyance that may force your opponent to abandon tactics they were relying on. Jamming has a range of uses, but mostly it’s there to put a handbrake on your opponent’s ability to control their drones. However, it can also be used to sneakily play cards like Capture on their drones- ask your opponent to test for comms when you’re about to play an order, and if you find a juicy target is without comms this turn you can skip the Core Wipe and go straight for the invasive reprogramming!

Core Wipe and Capture are some core mechanics to the game that set AD apart from others. In fact, in some cases it may be easier to play a Core Wipe/Capture combo than to shoot your enemy directly. They can also be used to get around the loss of your production unit… either capture the enemy one or just let them do the building for you and steal their units as they’re made!

If you’re looking to play these cards, there’s a couple of ways you can go about it. One is to take just one Core Wipe card for your command vehicle to take a stab at. If you succeed, great! If you fail, well, it’s only one order. Try again next turn, and remember that the enemy will react to the threat you’re presenting.

The other way to approach it is to play aggressively. Take at least two Core Wipe cards and hammer away at key targets. Make this your primary strategy, but realise that you’re going to run a risk when there’s only three cards that can fit in your command unit per turn (assuming none of them succeed). Take a Capture card or two so that you can capture the units now, as leaving abandoned units on the table will mean that the enemy will be racing you for those next turn.

Capture can also have a couple of quirks. We’ve talked about the combination of Jamming and Capture above, but also think about the enemy’s disposition of units. Is there a link in that comms chain that you can remove to leave their most distant unit vulnerable to direct Capture? What about that Meerkat lurking in the middle of the enemy formation… if you use your artillery to destroy it, will that remove comms? Also remember that if the enemy has naturally abandoned units on the field (like the Hoplite’s faction ability or by producing when you don’t have a slot handy), a quick move and/or Signal Boost may have you in range to sneakily grab something from the enemy’s backfield.

The final card that we’ll look at is Disrupt. This one is best played against a low-surprise commander, where you’re more likely to get more cards out of their hand. However, even if you can only grab one card you may well have a disproportionate effect on their strategy for this turn. What if the one card you grabbed was their only movement card, and now all their shooting is worthless? What if you knock out their Signal Boost, and they can’t cover the logistics vehicles all the way to the Extractor this turn? You don’t know what you’re going to randomly cause them to discard (we usually find it best for the disrupted player to hold up their hand and let the disrupting player randomly select the card to remove), but a decent read of your opponent may tell you which one/s they don’t want you to pick!

As we said before, there’s plenty more planned for this space in future. This includes the ability to make an enemy unit make a sudden move, to fire on the nearest unit (friend or foe), the ability to lock down a unit to prevent it being stolen, the ability to ‘turn off’ a unit’s special abilities, the ability to deploy viruses, a quick remote triggering of an enemy commander’s ejection system, and a comms attack that blanks a particular unit’s comms for the turn.

What are your favourite electronic attack strategies? What are you most looking forward to from the future cards?

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Tactics / Tactics Tuesday: Electronic Warfare (part 1)
« on: May 21, 2019, 09:26:32 pm »
Tactics Tuesday: Electronic Warfare

One of the most unique things about AD as a wargame is its wholehearted embrace of the programming side of drone warfare. At times, it may be more effective to crash an enemy CPU rather than shoot them. It may be simpler to invasively reprogram a drone than destroy it. It may be more straightforward to attack your opponent’s mind and systems than their combat drones.

In this article, we’re going to depart a little from talking mostly about units. This time, we’re going to talk more about the orders cards that you can use to effect electronic warfare upon your enemies. However, we do need to mention a couple of things about units and commanders first.

In order to send electronic warfare orders, you will need to have comms range on your target. In most cases this will have to come from your command unit, but the Meerkat Electronic Warfare vehicle (funnily enough) is a near-indispensable asset for this. With comms 5 and the Jamming trait, it’s useful to have one of these in your force even if your command unit is more than capable. And what does a capable command unit look like? A Centaur or a Vampire with comms hardpoint is your minimum requirement. A Centaur with comms is your best bet, giving you a massive 24” of comms coverage across the battlefield.

Your choice of commander is important as well. Some Electronic Warfare orders require a Surprise stat for contest rolls, while many other ones will rely upon your Research stat. When you want to hit some strong EW, consider what sort of cards you’re thinking of including in your deck when choosing that commander. The Skald Berzerker is the best pick from the core box, with 4 in both Surprise and Research. A Bastion Fellow will give you 4 in Research but leave you out in the cold if you need a Surprise roll done well. The Bushi Samurai is a quick thinker with Surprise 4, but as most contest EW rolls happen on research this is of limited usefulness. The exclusive commanders are also useful to look at, with Lenna Marsin not only packing Research 4, but also adding +1 to the comms stat of her command unit. You could reach 28” with comms, or 36” if you drop a Signal Boost on it! The Thief is also a contender with Surprise 4 and their Infiltration trait.

So, on to the cards. In the core deck you have a selection of EW cards to choose from:
•   Signal Boost
•   System Crash
•   Hard Reboot
•   Core Wipe
•   Capture
•   Buffer


Then you have some more in the exclusive cards and in the cards that come with units:
•   Flexible Programming
•   Tactical Analysis
•   Jamming
•   Disrupt


There are other cards that are planned for the future, but you’ll see those when they arrive!

I’ll talk about these cards in their natural groups. Let’s start with System Crash and Hard Reboot. System Crash is a great way to frustrate your opponent no end by making their prize units suddenly useless. It’s also dead simple to use: just send it straight to any enemy unit within comms range of one of yours. But what’s the best way to play this one? Here are a few suggestions.

Firstly, if your enemy drives out into your formation ready to throw Rapid Fire at your backfield units, shut them down right after they drive in. You’ll have them Sensor Locked six ways from Sunday, and you can pour fire into their raiding unit before it can reboot and hit you. An even better spot is if the enemy has used an order like Assault. Then, you’ll have them shut down after having fired and not yet moved 8” or more, so it’ll be easy to shoot them down. You can also hit a unit that’s yet to make its move, meaning that you opponent will have to re-think everything they were planning to do this turn, but this is a rare case.

A couple of ways that you might not have thought to use System Crash:
•   Use it to cancel a persistent order. Orders like Jamming and Evasive Manoeuvres are great examples of things that last until the unit receives another order. System Crash counts as having received an order, after all!
•   Use it to draw out a Hard Reboot order by playing one, waiting for the reboot, and then dropping another one (It’s highly unlikely they will have a second Hard Reboot ready to go!)
•   If you have a Jamming order in play, use them on more remote units so that if there’s a Hard Reboot played, there’s less likelihood that it will remove that System Crash.

And then there’s the absolute bastard’s way to play it: play them heavily (at least two a turn) for the first couple of turns, then don’t take any for the next couple before adding one or two for the last couple of turns. Your opponent will waste an order by taking Hard Reboot as they expect you to play more System Crash!

As for Hard Reboot itself, this is a card you want to think about and take deliberately. Take it when you know there is a particular unit that you will need to operate for your plan to work. Take it if you’re on a low model count, too, as it only takes a couple of System Crash to make your whole force inoperative. Also, with fewer units to play cards on, you will have more cards available per unit, so you can afford to take more ‘contingency’ cards.

That’s all the space we have for this one this week. Tune in next week for more on Electronic Warfare!

6
Tactics / Tactics Tuesday: a Commanding Presence
« on: May 15, 2019, 12:35:43 am »

Without doubt, the most important unit on the battlefields of Armoured Digital is the Command unit. This is the source of your orders, the noble steed for your commander and also a capable combat vehicle. So how to best use your command unit to best effect?
At present, there are two command units available to players of AD. These are the Centaur, a long-range support unit, and the Vampire, a close-in combat-centric command vehicle. The Centaur boasts a FP3 missile launcher, comms 4 and Simplified Systems. The Vampire instead has a FP4 laser weapon, as well as the Resilient and Stealth traits, but only comms 2 and no Simplified Systems.

To complicate matters, there’s a range of options for you to choose for your hardpoint system. Choose comms, sensors, shields or any of the six weapon systems to further customise your vehicle. Do you choose shields for your Centaur to keep it safer, or just keep it out of the battle entirely? Do you add Comms to your Vampire to overcome the weak point it has, or just add Meerkats or a range of comms 3 units to your force? Do you add another laser to your Vampire to extend it to Firepower 5, or do you add an HE hardpoint to give you more punch against units with Reflective armour, meaning that you will also be subject to the multi-weapon shooting rules on page 17?

The final (or is that first?) thing to take into consideration when choosing your command unit is who you will be putting in the command seat. A Vampire, with all its go-forward combat capabilities, is perhaps best placed in the hands of a Bushi or Templar commander for their bonuses to hit or save. Alternatively, an aggressive Hoplite commander might like to take the fight forward to the enemy while trying to achieve their faction victory condition. A Hoplite commander might instead prefer to take the Centaur in order to boost their Command stat and to have more control of the table with that 16” comms range.

It can all be a bit overwhelming to a new player, which is why for your first games we suggest leaving out of the rules the Option trait and the faction special rules. It will take time to figure out what works best for you as a player. While you’re trying out new and interesting things, here are some combinations that have proved useful in the past:

•   Centaur with comms, commanded by either a Skald Berzerker or the Kickstarter exclusives Lenna Marsin or the Theif. This gives you a long comms range from which to throw down Core Wipe, Capture, System Crash or other cards. The Skald Berzerker is useful for the Research and Surprise stat, Lenna gives an unparalleled range of 28”, and the Thief is super useful for winning Core Wipe and Capture contest rolls.
•   Centaur with Sensors, commanded by pretty much anyone but especially Bushi Samurai or Bastion Fellow. With this package, you can sit behind a hill or building and drop the Guided Missiles order on high rotation, throwing them at any target within sensor range. Take the Bushi to give you a re-roll to hit, or take the Bastion and enjoy the 20” active sensor bubble when trying to get a sensor lock on the enemy command or production units.
•   Vampire with HE, commanded by a Bushi Samurai. Avoid Precision Fire or Assault orders and instead skip to the Rapid Fire. This will give you FP5 energy and FP3 explosive, albeit at the expense of your chances to hit. Pair with a Jackal if the enemy are in cover and use those Bushi re-rolls to full effect.
•   Vampire with Shields, commanded by a Templar Knight. Put this one into the middle of the fight, and watch as it becomes the hardest thing to kill on the battlefield. Stealth, Resilient, +1 to all saves, a re-roll to a save dice each attack, as well as Composite Protection and Self-Repair.

So now you’ve chosen your commander and put them into the fight, what should you do with them? You’ll no doubt have noticed the number of orders marked ‘Command unit only’, or effectively do the same thing because of the command unit’s stats and traits (think Capture, Emergency Repairs and the like). This means that if you’re going to play your command unit in the fight, you’ll need to choose carefully what orders they will get each turn in their maximum of three.

Generally, it’s best if you don’t try to do too many different things with your command unit in a single turn. Just stick to one activity (relocate, attack, repair, electronic attack, etc) each turn. If you shoot and then try to Core Wipe enemy drones, you’ve only made yourself a bigger target. If you only bring one Core Wipe but your chances of success aren’t great, maybe take another Core Wipe instead of a Capture card. If you’ve sustained damage, get out of the fight as soon as possible. Pick your timing with cards so that you’re using your limited commander space to best efficiency, like playing your Buffer and Tactical Analysis cards in early turns and then waiting until later to go into battle.

Remember too to be cautious with your command units. While they’re a little more robust than any other combat drone, they make excellent targets and can die surprisingly quickly when the enemy focus fire on them. I’ve seen on more than one occasion a sneaky raider getting into an isolated command unit and one-shotting it once they’re in the right place.

7
Tactics / Tactics Tuesday: the unsuble art of defence
« on: May 07, 2019, 09:31:49 pm »
So we’ve talked about how to hammer your enemies and how to go forth to attack. How, then, should you defend your area? How should you play your forces in such a way that your enemy will come to you? This week, we will be talking about how to defend in Armoured Digital.

To defend, the first and most important thing you will need is to pick your ground to defend. The best ground has some LOS-blocking terrain that you can hide some of your forces behind, a bit of high ground that you can put your long-rangers on, and some scattered cover that you can hide behind but still see and shoot over.
The next most important thing you will need is the right mix of defenders. Aim for the longer-ranged units like the Centaur and Rhino, backed up with Elephants for when the enemy gets closer. Support units are essential, and the Porcupine, Jackal and Meerkat each have an important role to play. If you have room, grab one raiding tank like the Wolf or the Cheetah to use as a rapid-response unit.

Your long-range weapons should hold the high ground and command as much of the battlefield as possible. As these guys can out-range the enemy, use them to get as many hits in as possible as the enemy approaches. Try to deploy them with some form of cover, as when the enemy starts firing back you’ll be easier to hit when you’re standing still and shooting. Consider even reaching for the Precision Fire order if you need a few extra inches to reach the target you’re after. If you’re up against targets with reactive armour, HV Shot is your friend.

As the enemy comes closer, this is when your support units and artillery comes into play. Use your Jackal to hide behind terrain and sensor lock the enemy to guide your artillery and direct-fire drones onto target. If the attacker is smart, they will be using as much terrain as possible to get in close, so picking them out with that Jackal will make any advance towards you a dangerous prospect.

Also use your Meerkat to lay down a Jamming field, as this will help to disrupt your opponent’s approach. Remember that while each order happens in isolation, there are some effects that you can stack to make more of an impact. For example, you can drop a Signal Boost on your Meerkat to make it comms 7 (28”), then follow up with Jamming to make for a massive disruptive effect. Just be careful as that +1 to be hit from Signal Boost makes you a big target as well. Don’t forget, too, that having a mighty comms range is a great tool to drop some System Crash cards on your enemy.

One other sneaky combination you can make use of is your Centaur and the Jackal’s Guided Missiles order. With a sensor pod on top of your Centaur, you’ll be able to lock targets at 20” away and then launch missiles from behind LOS-blocking cover. Even if you’re sitting on top of a hill with your Centaur to add weight of fire, Guided Missiles will enhance your shots with rerolls to hit.

Having a Porcupine that sits behind the lines and within 12” and LOS of your forward units is another winner. Adding 2 save dice to your frontline units will make them hard as nails, and encourage the enemy to try to approach with an energy weapon to take them down. However, this will bring them in range of your Jackal and other forces. Just remember that you’ll want to drop the Defensive Fire card early in the turn to get maximum effect out of it.

Your raiding vehicle, typically a Wolf or Cheetah, should stay to the rear and well-hidden. Make it as non-threatening as possible, but leave some clear avenues to come forward into the fight. Its whole job is to remain in cover and then pop out to destroy enemy units that make it past the main defences. It will typically be Vipers or Wolves that make it that far, so a Cheetah is a great choice with its Explosive weapons to carve up Reflective-armoured attackers.

Finally, don’t forget your humble logistics units. You’ll probably have used your second logistics slot for one of your Support units, so your one transport has to run the gauntlet of fire to get to the Extractor. A Raccoon will give you more speed and better reach to do this, but the other transports can still work for you. Your Wombat should be sitting somewhere in the middle of your formation, as you will want to go for the cheaper option to repair your units rather than replacing them.

Overall, your strategy when on the defensive should be to try to kill as many of the enemy as possible. You’ll probably be ceding them the sectors victory condition, and the commander one is hard to achieve if they keep theirs out of the fight. So go for kills, and choose a faction that supports your defensive position (Templar is the obvious, but others like Bastion, Bushi and Skald could work as well) for your other VC.

8
Tactics / Tactics Tuesday: Specialist Raiders and midfielders
« on: April 30, 2019, 07:37:27 pm »
Last week we looked at using your fast raiding tanks, mostly the Wolf and Cheetah, to race past enemy defenders and cause havoc in the rear areas. This week, we’ll look at the Viper and Crocodile as more specialist raiders, and expand that to encompass other midfield tanks like the Cougar.

In a recent game, I took a pair of Vipers to the field to use as raiding tanks. Unfortunately, it had been so long since I last played that my mind defaulted to the fast raiding scenario rather than using them properly. It’s important to understand that the Viper, Crocodile and Cougar should be used in different ways to the Wolf and Cheetah. They have less speed and less firepower than those in-your-face raiders. Your strike will occur on turn 3 or 4 in most cases rather than turn 2 or 3, and leaving them in the open in the middle of the turn is a good way to lose them.

First to the Viper. This is a stealth tank with an energy weapon at Firepower 3. Stealth gives you a flat -1 to be hit, but this does stack with all other modifiers. If you’ve moved fast, are in cover and also have stealth, they will need to find some way to get a positive modifier in there to even try to hit you. That stacking of effects is the key to using the Viper effectively: don’t leave it in the open, don’t leave it without some form of defensive effect (like movement, hull down or similar) and it will be too hard a target for your enemy to have any real effect on. Beware travelling within 16” of something like the Jackal, which will strip your cover modifier away, or of being within 20” of a Centaur with a sensor pod using Guided Missiles... they will have a sensor lock to counteract your Stealth trait!

When you’re getting the Viper into position, try to move from cover to cover. Risk a Redline order or Forced Crossing if you need to, but don’t leave the Viper in the open with only Stealth as its defence. If you absolutely must cross open ground, play a Stealth Mode order on it first and then follow up with Redline and Move until you’re into a nice covered position for your later strike. Once you’re ready to heat up the laser and start frying Wombats and Armadillos, your covered position will make you a very hard target even in the midst of the fighting. Your longer sensor range of 12” will mean that you can lock more targets and blaze away with Rapid Fire, or simply outrange defenders like Elephants. Beware that while raiding with a Viper, you’re more likely to get a high-speed Squirrel crashing into you, so hiding in or behind Obstacles or Soft terrain is a great way to protect yourself.

The Crocodile doesn’t have the benefit of the Stealth trait to get it to the target. Instead, if the enemy is deploying based on terrain and have left you an approach corridor with impassable water or soft terrain, you’re good to go. The Crocodile is one of those tanks that is good to have as a production spec rather than in your starting lineup for this reason, so that you can snag the spec and play it in a later turn to counter the battlefield. On a side note, remember to add Soft terrain and water to your battlefields! It’s less common to see that sort of thing in some other games, but you’ll find that even just adding a bit of boggy ground or soft sand to your games tables will make for more enjoyable games of AD.

Move your Crocodile to a position on the near side of the water or soft obstacle(s), then use cards like Redline and Forced Crossing to get to the other side in one hit. You want to give as little warning as possible, so don’t cross until you’re ready to drive hard and cause havoc on the far side.

The Cougar could be used as a raiding vehicle as well, but one of its best uses is as a counter-raiding vehicle. The Explosive weapons will make a mess of any Wolf, Viper or Crocodile that comes your way, and Sensors 3 gives you a decent chance to hit your quarry. Use a lot of the same techniques that I’ve mentioned above for the Viper and Crocodile when operating your Cougar (move from cover to cover, use defensive orders before firing, pick your position and then drive hard). If you can, work from the edges of the formation: identify an outlying target and destroy it before moving on to the next.

With all these units, remember that they have better sensors than the other raiders. This means that you can lock targets for your artillery, so you can get supporting fire on target without giving the enemy the bonus for your drone shooting.

For the Crocodile and Cougar, they also have Comms 3. This might not seem all that important, but it lets you have more control over your attacking forces as well as more scope to impact enemy units within your comms range. Using other drones as repeaters (which can be simple Comms 2 or worse drones), Comms 3 vehicles can add that 12” of range to the already useful 16” of the Centaur, so even with only one relay vehicle you can manage nearly 30” of control range. When you put a couple of Comms 3 drones at that extreme range, you also get lateral control over larger sections of the table, giving you the flexibility to manoeuvre as you need to, and reach deeper into the enemy formation to deliver your System Crash cards.

9
Painting, modelling and modifying / Re: Painting C & C style
« on: April 30, 2019, 12:47:21 am »
Loving that NOD scheme!

10
Feedback, suggestions and requests / Re: Ask us anything!
« on: April 26, 2019, 09:30:00 pm »
If you're interested, the product descriptions for each unit have the card they come with listed in the text at the bottom. You just have to click on the unit in the Word Forge Games store to see that description. So for the Crocodile, you'll find the details about the unit and the card it comes with here: https://www.wordforgegames.com/armoured-digital-shop/veteran-pledge-283-294-297-298-299-301-302-303-detail.

I should point out too that there was an error with one of the orders cards. The HV Shot card is listed as 'Hardpoints' at the bottom but should say 'Rhino'. You'll find an FAQ and Errata link on the message boards here: https://armoureddigital.createaforum.com/faq-and-errata/the-armoured-digital-living-faq-and-errata/. We'll keep updating that as we go, so if you find something that doesn't look quite right, please let us know and I'll update the Errata. Same goes for anything that seems unclear, I can add an FAQ response to that to keep it all official.


11
Feedback, suggestions and requests / Re: Ask us anything!
« on: April 25, 2019, 09:41:18 pm »
I'm glad you're liking everything so far! I'm a father with two young kids (4 and 6 years old), so I know all too well how limited time can be. Feel free to point people towards the youtube explainer videos (although there have been a couple of small tweaks to the rules so if the rulebook differs, go with the rulebook), the Facebook group, here, etc. Most people who have played wargames pick up 90% of how to play within the first couple of turns. And this is a game that usually hooks people through gameplay (in my experience), so simply running demonstration games for new players is one of the best ways to get them into the game.

Yes, that Polecat was an error on the list that the publisher had. I think it's turning into an in-joke now!

For buildings, there's a limited set of buildings planned. At this stage the list is quite minimal: a command bunker, a production unit and a set of pod bunkers that use the Aggregate (3) trait from the main rulebook. These bunkers come with basic protection, comms and sensors, but then you can choose to put any of the hardpoints available into the bunkers. So you could use them as turrets, or as a comms repeater, or as a sensor post.

However, there's also what are called Support Structures being playtested for inclusion in the missions expansion. These are small structures that don't take up any slots, but can provide limited support. There's a sensor post, a repair drone post, a comms repeater (with sensor interference for defence), minefields and fire traps. In various missions players can build, place or activate these structures during the game to aid their chances of victory.

I've been working on this game for about four and a half years now, I think. 80% of the rules were developed in the first six months, but the playtesting wasn't very intensive at that point in time as my kids took up a lot of it. Over the following 12 months, the remainder of the rules were hammered out, and now only minor refinements are being made. These days if I need to adjust the game, I just come up with new orders cards to allow players to do different things with their units. An example of that is a card I'm working on called Deploy Stabilisers. This allows a unit to suddenly count as having not moved this turn, so it allows you to do things like move an Elephant forward, use Deploy Stabilisers and then use Indirect Fire. Once I'm happy with how it's working, I have to figure out how best to release it, and then we're good to go.

Energy/Plasma is indeed intended as a high-intensity flamethrower. Hydrogen pellets are energised to a fusion state by lasers in the reaction chamber, then contained in a magnetic bottle until ready to be fired at the enemy. Then they're ejected in thin streams, hit the open air and burn the living daylights out of what they land on. The effect on target it mostly thermal, hence they have a similar effect to that of a laser.

Stealth Mode should come with two copies with each Viper. If you didn't get them, please get in touch with Word Forge Games for replacements (wordforgegames@gmail.com). It can be useful in certain circumstances, but by far Stealth is best used as a stacking ability: move fast into cover and with Stealth you're -3 to be hit. If they don't have a lock on you or you haven't fired, that means they can't hit you at all (barring some cards like Precision Fire).

12
Comms Chain / First target: Boardgamegeek!
« on: April 25, 2019, 02:39:48 am »
Hi everyone,

If you're on BGG and would like to log your plays, leave a review, etc. we would love your help. Many people use the BGG ratings and number of plays to determine what they should be playing, and miniatures games are not immune to BGG hype! We would love it if you could encourage a few others who play to review or log as well.

Link to AD on BGG is here: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/245711/armoured-digital-miniatures-game

13
Painting, modelling and modifying / Re: Painting C & C style
« on: April 25, 2019, 02:35:08 am »
Awesome! I look forward to it. Josh Percy's industrial metal feel ones are already evoking memories of Total Annihilation, too!

14
Feedback, suggestions and requests / Re: Ask us anything!
« on: April 25, 2019, 02:33:20 am »
Hey Rentner, thanks for the questions!

Q: Will all future units follow the current name "scheme" (Animals)? Or will only Tanks be named after animals while Walkers or Aircraft will be named after something else (e.g. Gods, Colors, etc.)

A: There's a naming schema for each type of unit. Tanks are generally terrestrial vertebrates, with some degree of link between the name and the unit (albeit often tenuous). Command units have a mythological creature naming schema, aircraft will have birds, walkers will have insects/arachnids, buildings will have geological formations and hovercraft will have weather names.


Q: Once Aircraft or other unit types have been released, are there plans for Production and Logistic units of that type? Like a flying Resource Transport or a flying factory? Or will there be different types of Mobile factories?

A: There are plans for full suites of units, including command, transport, support and combat units. There are plans for different types of mobile (and immobile) production units. In the far distant future, there are plans for super-heavy units and war-scale games. However, our focus at the moment is on building the community and establishing ourselves. Once we have a player base and the game is a commercial success, then we can look to adding to our fleets of drones.


Q: In one of the Kickstarter updates Beaver and Polecat have been mentioned as units. Will these be the next to be released?

A: I'm still not sure where the name 'Polecat' came from. I think one of the guys from Beasts of War came along and misnamed the Jackal and the Publisher's staff got a little confused. It actually doesn't exist.
The Beaver, on the other hand, is designed as a repair/construction unit. It is planned for release with our buildings.



Q: AD is my first 15mm game so I don't have a comparison: Are the drones smaller than a usually 15mm tank would be?

A: Glad to be your first! If you compare our drones to something like a Panzer III model, you'll find the drone smaller than even that little tank. As Josh indicated above, the drones shrink the internal size required considerably. The other thing going for our drones is that they assume that successful Low Energy Nuclear Reactor (LENR) technology is available, and thus they are powered by multi-Gigawatt-range reactors about the size of a domestic dishwasher.


Q: As commander-on-foot can happen, couldn't there be any Infantry sized drones? So the commander has a model and also as a troop type?

A: We had considered small swarms of infantry-like drones in the early stages of development. The tricky thing is that they would break the game somewhat, and the weapons and armour they carry wouldn't hold against the larger weapons and sturdier armour of the full-sized drone tanks, etc. Sure, a small spider drone could kill an unarmoured human easily enough, but they wouldn't have so much hope of holding out against that same human in a command vehicle, especially when that human is a Digipath!


Q: You have mentioned faction packs as future expansions: Are these meant to have faction specific Order cards as well to further flesh out the factions or will it be "just" Commanders?

A: We are planning a few expansions in the near term, all of which will require more playtesting before we can release them into the wild. The faction packs are intended to come with four new commanders, at least two different faction-specific orders, variant vehicles that trade one stat or trait for another, and possibly even decal sheets and COF miniatures for that faction.


Q: Will there be different kinds of Extractors? Of course this can already be handled by different color schemes (Blue Extractor produces better/double ressources etc.)

A: At this stage there are no plans for different kinds of Extractors. However, in the Missions expansion (working title), there are a range of different things that might end up in the middle of the table in place of an extractor: a comms tower, a relic of mankind's golden age, or even a park of abandoned vehicles, ripe for the stealing.

15
Tactics / Tactics Tuesday: Raiding part 1- fast entry
« on: April 23, 2019, 06:13:27 pm »
Tactics Tuesday: Raiders (part 1)

Today’s article will explore the fundamentals of raiding. Raiding is putting your attacking tanks in the middle of the enemy formation, particularly amongst the production unit, command unit and transports.
As a highly aggressive player, this is one of my go-to strategies, especially for early in the game. There are a couple of ways to approach this: fast raiding, designed to get in close and fast and before the enemy can react. The second one, which I will cover next week, is using specialist raiders to get in past the enemy defences before wreaking havoc.
So, to the unsubtle approach. The two main contenders you will be looking to for your raiding work are the Wolf and the Cheetah. Both pack speed 4 and rather high firepower stats, so they’re perfect to run past the enemy’s guns before opening up with their own. Neither vehicle has anything special in the comms or sensors department, and the Cheetah has the downside of only protection 2 as well.
It’s best to start your raid with two drones if possible, but one can still work. The risk you run is that the enemy can bring your raid crashing to a halt (pun intended) with a well-placed System Crash card or similar. You will also need to make sure that you support your raid by placing units where they can keep up communications with your raiding drone/s, and putting the rest of your units into position where they can’t just be ignored, either. You want your opponent to have to choose between threats. 
A typical raid will spend one turn moving to a point to start the attack, another breaking in, and a third (if still functional) causing as much havoc as humanly (dronely?) possible. That means that on turn 1, you’re using a Redline/Move card or two to move your raider/s up to a position where you have cover (or even better, the enemy has no LOS to you at all). You’re relying on your speed, the cover, and the fact that the enemy will likely have more movement and fewer shooting cards on turn 1. Once you’ve finished your move, your opponent will have to react to that next turn, and they may be ready for you.
Turn 2 is where this hots up. You want to focus your turn on this raid, so either put all your cards into it or wait in your covered position for a better turn to strike. If you’re poised to strike, that can sometimes be just as effective a psychological tool as using the raid itself. Use a Move or similar card to ensure that you move the full 8” for cover, and get yourself within your sensor lock range of 8”. After that, switch to a combination of Shoot and Rapid Fire. It’s handy to keep an Assault order handy here too, as if you need to readjust position or take cover after destroying enemy units, it gives you that flexibility. At this point, know that your drone is going to be lost, but pump out as much damage as possible while you’re there. Be bold in your positioning, and pack more shooting orders than you think you will need.
When raiding, know what targets you want to pick in advance. If you’re using a Wolf, your primary target should be the Wombat to get the most effect out of your weapons. If you’ve got the Cheetah, Armadillos and command units are your primary targets. There are a few other orders that can work well here, including using Plasma Blast on harder targets to get more ADEs (ie a shielded Vampire is not a good target for a Wolf, but a Plasma Blast can fix that). Barrage is a perfect one to use if the enemy is packed into a small space, but the restriction on not moving before shooting means that you’ll want to be in position to use it at the start of your turn 2. Don’t underestimate packing one or more System Crash cards either, as your raiders will be in comms range of those juicy targets and you can really mess up their turn by playing them on enemy production and command units. You will also more than likely be in place to spot for your artillery, so a cheeky Indirect Fire directed at an enemy who counterattacks one of your raiders won’t go astray.
The vulnerabilities of this sort of attack are mostly around command and communications. Beware an enemy with a Jamming order already in play, as this will undoubtedly cover your raiders. Don’t expose your link drones to enemy fire, as they will be prime targets. If you can swing it, put a Hard Reboot card down as your command unit order to prevent your raid grinding to a halt from enemy System Crash cards.

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