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Tactics Tuesday: Artillery!
« on: April 16, 2019, 05:53:08 pm »
Tactics Tuesday

Every week, we will take an in-depth look at the tactics of Armoured Digital. This is intended very much as a workshop, so if you have any insight on things that have worked, not worked, etc for you, please add them below!

This weekís topic is Artillery. Artillery is often referred to as ĎThe God of Warí, and the presence of offensive fire support has swung many a battle in a generalís favour. Tonnes of high explosive steel rain turns the ground to mud, tears apart military equipment, kills those standing upright, and forces the remainder to cower in what cover they can find. Against armoured drone forces, though, artillery must be wielded in a very different way: as a precision tool that can attack from behind cover.

At present, the only unit with the Artillery trait is the Elephant (FP4 Explosive/Artillery), but more artillery units may become available in future. Here we will look at how to employ this flexible tool in your battles. Artillery is a Coded trait, so thereís no additional special rules that it confers on a unit. Instead, Artillery is required to employ orders cards like Indirect Fire and Blindfire. There may be more Artillery orders cards available in future, but for this article weíll focus only on these two.

Indirect Fire (core deck) is a shoot action that allows the unit to ignore LOS requirements so long as another friendly unit has both a sensor lock on the target and a comms chain back to the Elephant. It also requires you to have not moved this turn. Blindfire (Elephant expansion) allows you to fire on any target regardless of LOS, but confers a -2 mod to firepower.

If you want to employ your artillery, youíll need to put it in the best position possible to affect the battlefield. Consider deploying it far enough forward at the start of the game that your 24Ē range will cover most of the enemyís likely hiding places. Place it hidden behind LOS-blocking terrain if you can, but itís also useful to be near enough to the edges of that cover so that you can switch to attacking the enemy directly. If you have to move, push your Elephant with a Redline to get it into position, or else make heavy use of the Assault order- youíre only moving 6Ē anyway, so you might as well throw some fire towards the enemy as you move! Finally, if youíve moved into position and want to drop fire on the enemy without waiting for the next turn, Blindfire is your ticket. While two dice isnít much when attacking, it can still endanger low protection support units like the Meerkat and Jackal, or even combat units if they're carrying damage tokens. A quick use of a Blindfire may also change your opponentís mind about which places are safe and which arenít. The psychological battle is often more important than the orders and dice, so making them alter their battle plan counts as a win!

Once youíre in position and want to lay down some fire, youíll need a spotter. The gold standard for this is the Jackal, with an impressive 16Ē of sensor range thatís not restricted to LOS. As a bonus, the Hardwired trait Scout allows units within comms to ignore the cover modifier for any target it has a lock on. As any target that you donít have LOS to is technically behind cover, this is a massive bonus to your shooting.

However, the Jackal isnít the only unit that can help you out. Look to your Sensors 3 (passive) units (like the Rhino, Viper, Cougar or Crocodile) to fill the same role if you donít have a Jackal available. A great way to employ them is to play a move action of some description, put them behind cover, and then play Hull Down. If you donít shoot, that means your opponent is at -3 to hit (-4 if youíre the Viper!), so your spotter is rather safe from enemy fire.

And donít forget your humble transports. As these units tend to speed into the middle of the fight, a transport waiting at the Extractor may have a juicy target within 8Ē that either you or your opponent might have not realised is sensor locked. If you have multiple transports, thereís nothing stopping you from deliberately using one as an expendable spotter, too!

So what should you be shooting at? Thereís a lot to think about as you select your targets, but essentially it comes down to four questions:

∑ Is the target important to my/my enemyís strategy?
∑ Can I hit it?
∑ Will I hurt it?
∑ Is artillery the best tool to use?

Key enemy units like the command vehicle, production unit and support units like the Jackal and Meerkat all make excellent targets. Many of these will be well hidden and otherwise out of the fight, so reaching out to touch them with a few 200mm high explosive rounds is an excellent way to ruin any notions of safety. You can also try using artillery to save one of your units thatís overmatched by multiple enemies and otherwise unsupported.

Remember that without a Jackal, all your shots will be at -1 to hit due to cover. Avoid anything thatís moved and zero in on things that have fired without travelling 8Ē or more, if possible. Other orders can also give you a bonus, so if the enemy plays Signal Boost on their command vehicle, Jackal or Meerkat, treat it like an open invite!

Firing artillery at your enemyís Elephants is not a winning proposition, unless youíre all out of efficient options and youíre basically looking to inflict some ADEs on your foe. If the enemy have a Porcupine, itís even harder to hit anything protected by its Defensive Fire field. Targeting a Protection 2 (reflective) Porc before it puts its defensive field up is a good thing to consider if they're playing that tactic.

But as much as a Crocodile, Wolf or Armadillo are all vulnerable to your attentions with their reflective armour, think about whether you need to use your Indirect Fire orders on them. Raiders and transports will usually come closer to you as the game wears on, so you can use your direct fire cards (or another unit with Explosive firepower like a Cheetah or Cougar) to deal with those threats.

As a final note, remember that it's rare to one-shot an enemy (even a Protection 2 one). When you start firing, bring multiple Indirect Fire cards to the battle. While you're sitting behind LOS-blocking cover, it may be better to fire your Elephant at the enemy than it is to engage with a frontline combatant and make them easier to hit.

Over to you, Digipaths! How are you using your artillery, and how is it working out?
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 07:28:12 pm by CGReynolds »

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Re: Tactics Tuesday: Artillery!
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2019, 09:16:26 pm »

I still haven't played yet but I hope to have a game soon! Thanks for the article and the insight - it will certainly become in handy!