Hackers on the battlefield in Infinity the Game

Phase 0: System Requirements

Several numbers of MNN ago you have had the opportunity to read POP/Jake’s contemplations about assassins in Infinity. I am completely fine with them (ok I am not since one of them cut down my Achilles with monofilament weapon), they are interesting elements on the battlefield and they have their moments of glory. However, what turns me the most in Infinity the Game are hackers. Thanks to them this game has so much in common with the classical anime Ghost in the Shell. In my opinion that is a brilliant business card of this system! There are many miniature war games with big guns and robots (I am not sure about women wearing power armor and high heels but I think it is a topic for another article ;) ), but how often can we infect power armor’s systems of enemy’s lieutenant with a computer virus, force jumpers to emergency descend from malfunctioning drop ship or force an AI of enemy’s robot to shoot its own team?

In neither this article there will not be nor shooting, nor fine swinging katanas. There is a war to win and during war there is no place for eye-catching tricks. Let us take a look at different faces of war. Let us contemplate about what can us offer specialists in info war - the hackers which are often underestimated and omitted when choosing the composition of a unit. They are also omitted when choosing priority targets on battlefield even though they can outweigh the outcome of battle.
I think it will be safer for you if you print this article before reading further. If you insist on reading on your computers – be prepared for an Overload!

Phase I: Software’s Manual

We will begin with several rules about using hackers on the battlefield. It is a little more difficult than with ‘regular’ units because choosing a model with highest BS (Ballistic Skill) and ARM (Armor) attributes is not enough. The most important parts of models characteristics are WIP (Willpower) and BTS (Biotechnological Shield). Moreover, deciding vote is usually for special skills model possess, but we will talk about this later.
All rolls we make are based on WIP attribute so it is considered to be wise to maximize it. On the other hand BTS should be as lowest as possible. If we have an opportunity to duel with another hacker then the enemy will have to subtract our BTS value from his WIP value – it can be very devastating for weakly motivated Pan Oceania soldiers…

From the tactical point of view, very important fact is that every hacker can use his system’s magic in 8” radius from himself without need to see an opponent! There are no Evangelions (anime/manga Evangelion for uninitiated) running with kilometers long optic fibers here – everything is happening wireless. All we have to do is to find a good, safe spot inside some building… and let us get the party started! Additionally every hacker can use so called Repeaters. Their Zone of Control (8” in radius) is treated like an extension of hacker’s hacking range. A model on the other side of the table can hack through a Repeater, which can be Remote, living soldier or a special marker. Moreover, each friendly hacker is also a Repeater for other hackers. Do you see this potential yet? Weak rookie on forwarded position and genius at the rear?

Phase II: Basic Programming

We already know a thing or two about our specialists. Let us think over how we can use them on the battlefield. We did not spend 0.5 S.W.C. for each hacker just for fun of it, right? The basic job is to overload systems of enemy Heavy Infantry, REMs and T.A.Gs. Well positioned hacker, during his ARO can suddenly deactivate passing Achilles or Remote armed with HGM and Total Reaction special skill. It will definitely increase our tactical advantage during our active turn. Enemy during his next active turn can try to reboot disconnected systems but if our hacker is still in range it will be a Face to Face Roll – there is a high possibility that hacked model will be still seeing Blue Screen and the order will be wasted.

Ok. T.A.G. is immobilized. What next? If we have an Engineer, he can run to the enemy and place explosives. Or we can just shoot. Someday he will fall. But why waste ammo if we can use enemy’s own toys against him? Our hacker may try to possess enemy T.A.G. If that is successful we can operate it like it was our own model! In his next active turn enemy may try to free itself by Reset short skill. However, we should remember that the presence of our hacker in range can prevent it from happening! It should be also mentioned that unsuccessful attempt to possess immobilized T.A.G. cancels his immobilize state too.

What should we do if enemy tries to use mentioned tricks against us? Let us set our own hacker on him! When enemy hacker attempts to hack our troops, our hackers get an ARO against the aggressor – there is no need for LoF to be drawn or to be in 8” range from the target. As the main character of anime Serial Experiments Lain used to say: ‘Everyone is always connected’. In case of defensive hacking we roll a Face to Face Roll on WIP of both hackers and subtract enemy’s BTS value. If the aggressor wins – target is hacked, if the defender wins – hack attempt is unsuccessful. If one of the sides manages to roll a critical, it additionally disables enemy’s hacking device! It is advantageous because disabled equipment can be fixed by Engineer only.

We may also try to overload systems of enemy hacker. While in range we make a normal hack attempt, usually a Face to Face roll against enemy hacker. The side which loose passes directly to the Unconscious state. Critical throw results in passing directly to the Dead state. It is worth mentioning that Repeaters used by the losing side are also destroyed.

Phase III: Advanced Programming

We left behind the elementary school of hacking. Now it is time to become acquainted with full capability of our cyber commandos. Nowadays only Ariadna’s technology is based on coal and steam rather than quantum computers and artificial intelligence. Computers are almost everywhere and almost everywhere we can utilize our hackers.

Probably every Infinity player gnashed his teeth when well situated landing on his rear turned out to be a massacre of our unprepared troops, right? But do we have to observe the sky with fear? Our hackers can scan the area for enemy drop ships and if they find one, they can try to hack its AI. It is not an easy task (WIP-9 throw) but if successful, it causes every enemy jumper to emergency descend from the carrier to the destination chosen by them with -9 penalty to their PH!
Another threat is a Forward Observer and Guided Ammunition. The good thing is that AI of every missile is susceptible to whispers of our specialists. After detection of coming missile, our hackers get an ARO and may try to alter missile’s trajectory so it will not harm anybody. Just to prevent questions… No, you cannot direct the missile to hit the enemy ;), but who knows what the next expansions will bring…
If we talk about the Guided Ammunition, that reminds me that some hackers are equipped with tuned hacking devices called Hacking Device Plus. With it our hacker can mark the target for the Guided and Speculative Ammunition (similarly to Forward Observers) but LoF is not needed in this case. It is enough to be in range of hacking!

When we are bored with simple annihilation games and we would like to play some scenarios (or just increase interactivity of environment) then hackers will show their potential while extracting data from secured data banks or opening electronic locks of reinforced doors. But why restrain ourselves? These dormant sentry guns are just waiting for the order to open fire…

Phase IV: Requesting Support Programming

Now it is time for the best – in my opinion – hacking toy. EVO Repeater. Thanks to the mere presence of this device on the battlefield, our hackers may request support and computing power from the orbital station or the rear base. Every time we hack, we can use one of four support programs: Icebreaker lowering BTS of the target by half, Capture allowing to possess a T.A.G. without need of immobilizing it first, Support Hacking allowing other hackers to support others trying to hack target (each participant adds +3 modifier to WIP) and Trajectory Assistant supporting our drop ship’s AI in computing landing trajectory for jumpers who gain +3 modifier to PH during the jump. On the other hand after successful hacking attempt on enemy’s drop ship we choose the landing zone for enemy jumpers. What will you say about emergency landing in a corner of the table? Approximately 50% chance for a dispersion beyond the table, and since it is our active turn, the enemy has no orders to spend so he cannot save jumpers!
Yes, these marvels make the info war on the battlefield flourish. Now T.A.Gs bring a smile on our faces rather than fear.

Phase V: Data log from Battle

Oh boy, sure I wrote a lot. I just hope I did not bore you to death with all these contemplations. If you managed to get through previous manual’s phases, now it is time for the main part of this article, i.e. how to use hackers efficiently on the battlefield.
It is clear that we can never be prepared for anything. It depends on faction we fight against and the game play style of our opponent. Just for our contemplation let us assume that the enemy has something heavy and powerful, for example Anathematics – a hacker additionally. 5 ARM, -6 BTS, TO Camo, Plasma Rifle... A hard nut to crack.
According to my previous experience there is a common thought that 3 HMG and eventually some weak hacker are enough to counter every surprises enemy can prepare. That may be true, but TO Camo model in cover ‘grants’ us -9 BS modifier and what if it used Suppression Fire order additionally? Let us think how we can outwit this abomination.

Let us start slowly. We run our hacker and initiate Anti Hacker Protocols. -6 BTS, high WIP of Anathematics and the fact that he has an ARO can be a problem. But why not assume that we have an EVO Repeater? Icebreaker and abomination has -3 BTS only. Looks better. But still, a lot of orders were spent for just a run to the target. What for if there are hackers with Infiltration special skill? We have this guy in the middle of the battlefield already at the beginning of the battle so he can get really fast to a place where hi is needed most. Even better if he has a Camo or TO Camo. Enemy will walk right into our trap unknowingly. It is worth mentioning that we can use the Combat Camouflage advantage. If we initiate AHP from a Camo or TO Camo marker form, our attempt will be a Normal Roll. Possible retaliation will come after our roll.

It is a fact that hackers with Infiltration and TO Camo usually are not some big shots so why not use them only as Repeaters for better hackers in the rear? For example, some 15 WIP and -3 BTS hacker? Sounds better. But we can also use Support Hacking thanks to the EVO Repeater and increase our hacker’s WIP by 3. Having in mind that we round fractions up it will have even better effect than Icebreaker used on a model with -3 BTS. But in the end why do we have to restrain ourselves to just one attempt? After all there is also such thing as Coordinated Hacking! Two or more of our hackers may coordinate their actions against the Anathematics. They are always connected so we can forget about need of staying in 8” range. It will give us two or more attempts to hack and we will do it even before the enemy can retaliate because of our Camo marker. Even if we will not initiate hacking attempt from the Camo marker form, the enemy will get an ARO only to a hacker who initiated the hacking attempt! It means that the abomination will have a Face to Face Roll just against the initiating hacker but the rest can download mp3s from his hard drive with impunity! Let us not forget that coordinated action can also benefit from the EVO Repeater.

This systems provides us with many possibilities to use our hackers and every army which can hack (aww silly colonists’ descendants) will surely find many adaptations for their toys. No point in hiding that Nomads are leading force in this matter with their throwing stationary Repeaters, hackers-jumpers and Repeaters and really good WIP and BTS attributes.
Generally I think that hackers can show their true potential only if they are fielded as a pair or more. It opens more ways to use them than even a good but lonely cyberpunk.

Summary word. Hackers are awesome and no one can deny it. Especially if we glue the holos to our models. Only thing I miss in Infinity the Game are infoshrapnels with Rawling virus from Richard Morgan’s book ‘Altered Carbon’ :). I hope my longish article could help to judge the usefulness of these specialists on the battlefield. Ok, now I officially conclude my scrawl and wish you many successful raids in cyberspace!

Data from blackout_sys (Sebastian)

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