Y u no flame?!

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by chrisloomis13

Since I started playing Dropzone Commander there have been units that see no play time.  Some of these are very specific, but there were two broad categories of units that have been dismissed.  These would be fast movers and flame units.  I will leave fast mover coverage to someone else, but I can’t help but wonder why I rarely see them.  Yeah, I know, I should’ve written this in arcs so you could read while rolling your eyes.

This will be the first of two articles on flame weapons.  The first will cover why they are unappreciated and basic tactics.  The second will discuss the specific flame units and how best to utilize them in their respective factions.

There are a few reasons why flame units have been left out in the cold:

  • No one will get within range of a flame unit.
  • They are too specific and do not contribute to all the missions.

The first reason is silly.  If you can control elements of the opposition’s army, you are doing something right.  Threat and denial are underappreciated, as they are difficult, if not impossible, to calculate their worth.  When a unit kills another, it is easy to take the point cost of the destroyed unit to give a number for perceived worth of the first unit.  When a flame unit sits outside a building and the enemy doesn’t approach it, it may seem worthless, but if that flame unit had not been there the enemy would not have been deterred.  This last point is also good against everybody’s favorite MC, the Freeriders.  They will not allow you to flame them, but you can strongly encourage them to go elsewhere with a well placed flame unit.

The second reason is the easiest to immediately recognize, but I believe it to be a falsity.  So far, flame weapons are mounted on vehicles (with the exception of the Ferryman’s Lifthawk), and when viewed as a vehicle they do seem too specific and a bit useless most of the time.  This is the wrong way to look at them.  They are an extension of the infantry.  They may not be able to search for objectives, but they trump all infantry.  Troops < Exotic < Flame.  When looking for points in order to fit a flame unit in your list, replace a squad of infantry first.  It may be one less unit searching for you, but if the flame unit does it’s job it could cost the opponent more.

infantryfoodchain

It could be argued that infantry do not contribute to all missions, but they get a pass because they search for objectives and intel, which is the way you win missions that have objectives and intel.  Flame units stop infantry from completing their objective.  If infantry is not diving in to get the objectives or intel, they are not scoring points and they are not contributing to the game.  By stopping the opponent from scoring, you are increasing your chances of beating them.

Also, it is worth noting that Bunker Assault is a focal point mission where infantry can hide without having to worry about falling masonry or demo.  The only ways to get infantry out of bunkers is with your own infantry and flame weapons.

This brings me to my next point, there are only three ways to threaten infantry.  They are by your own infantry, demolition, and flame.  By committing your own infantry you are not only exposing them to danger, but you are also revealing your hand.  Furthermore, this can quickly escalate, as no one wants to lose their infantry, and no one wants their infantry hung up in CQB.  Unless you have good exotic infantry, and more of it than your opponent, you can come out the loser in the CQB which may dictate the game.

Demolition is another fair strategy, not so much for the falling masonry (though it helps), but for dropping the building.  This is great, but if you take enough demo to reliably drop a 30DP building in your standard 1500 point all comer’s list, you are probably lacking in a different department.  This means that unless you roll hot, the enemy infantry will be able to escape with their lives.  You will have prevented them from getting the objective, but it also means you will not be able to get it either, as the building will be weak and they could then drop it on you if you were to try.  I am not dismissing demo as a valid strategy, but you will need a game plan to support these denial tactics.

So lastly there is flame, which doesn’t expose our infantry, but it does allow you to win the objective, rather than denying it.  But how can one best utilize these specialized vehicles?

There are two realistic uses for them, and they are:

  • Denial.
  • The bait and switch.

Before I get into either it is worth stating that your flame units want to activate last in the turn.  Any wise opponent isn’t going to step in front of your flame unit until after its activation at worst, after it’s been dealt with at best.

Denial is pretty straight forward.  The flame unit is going to be placed in the best possible way to allow it to reach a potential target while also trying to avoid incoming fire.  For most this will be fairly close, but if you have some other units with them it gives the opponent something to think about as they cannot take out the flame unit without exposing their units.  This makes them choose, take out the flame unit so their infantry can begin their search while exposing their anti tank to you, or confront your other units wasting time they could be searching.

Bait_and_Switch

This leads into the other use, the bait and switch.  As you have probably guessed, this involves luring enemy infantry in to a building so that you can leave, flame, and hopefully put your exotic infantry in afterwards.  Most cannot do all three steps, but even two of three can put the hurt on your opponent’s infantry.  It relies on you being the occupier, which can be accomplished by committing your infantry to the building in front of your flame units in the last activation of the previous turn.  This gives your opponent a choice, they either let you search, or try to commit their forces against yours.  It’s unlikely they will fail to notice the flame units parked outside, but unless they spend the resources to remove those flame units, they cannot go into that building without getting flamed (again, flame units activate last).  Lastly, if everything has triggered in the right order (a huge ‘if’ against an opponent on their A game) you then re-enter the building with your own CQB specialist.  This will give up occupation of the building, but will knock their infantry down and leave them with the choice to either commit more of theirs, or let that unit fall.

The biggest shortcoming of these tactics is if you have first activation, and thus your opponent gets the last activation, assuming he hasn’t lost a BG.  This is a good reason to finish enemy BGs when possible, but also it gives your opponent an interesting dilemma if they win activation.  They may be tempted to go for the double tap they set up, but if they do that then your flame unit gets last activation.  The double tap is nice, but objectives are what wins missions.  In this same vein, if you win initiative and have the flame unit set up, you should opt to go second, and make decisions around the thought of going second.

So without talking about bunkers, what do you do in focal point missions?  The same thing essentially: inhibit enemy infantry from participating in the battle.  Besides that, they become unsavory targets as they do not threaten vehicles.   This can be used to your advantage, by screening your own forces and making your opponent’s LZ hot for that last turn focal point grab.

So what you think?  What experiences do you have with flame units?  Whether you agree or disagree, please flame me in the comments and until next time just remember that dead braves can’t gate.

Dead_Braves_Cant_Gate

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25 thoughts on “Y u no flame?!

    • That’s awesome! I’ve only come across them once, and they did a number on my infantry, but this is the exception and not the rule. Glad to hear others appreciate anti-infantry.
      chrisloomis13

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  1. I’d love to use Menchits, but it’s just more economical to bring the building down. I can spend a few more points and be able to kill more than just infantry. Flamers are just too narrow in their application. Maybe if the triad gun had Focus, I would consider them. Give them something that can hurt light vehicles.

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    • To each their own, building demo is a completely legitimate tactic to win the infantry game. However, killing infantry with demo takes a little luck, either from the dice or your opponent being a numbskull. Flamers can take down A5 scouts if that’s any consolation, but really their intended purpose is to burninate [the countryside] enemy infantry. I didn’t mean this article as everyone take flamers, but as I see no flamers currently, I wonder why some don’t give them a try. Especially if they are having trouble with any type of enemy infantry.

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  2. I would like to see more flame used, but they are too focused. The do 1 job and 1 job alone. I think that the flame weapons should be secondary weapons on other tanks, maybe on APC’s that would give APC’s an edge over light dropships as well.

    One point i don’t agree with, is that if you take flame, you can take less infantry. Flame should be a supplement not a replacement.

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    • I’m not going to hold my breath. Hawk wants everything to be an option and I fear putting flame on APCs would make the true flame tanks worthless. I suppose a small flame, like a 2shot, but then it’s not going to do a whole lot. APCs have the bonus of DP between themselves and the dropship.

      Where do the points for this supplement come from? If one is building a balanced list already without flame units, I think some of the points needed to fit the flame units in need to come from infantry, as that is the spectrum flame units affect. I question if less infantry will go farther with proper support, or in other words, are people taking too much infantry currently b/c they don’t run any support with them outside of MOAR infantry. Recently I have been trying out this theory.

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      • Yeah, I’m taking less infantry than those in the UK (they take 4+, typically) in favor of building demo.

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      • I think in your reply, you have summarized nicely why people don’t take flame.
        It boils down to ‘where do the points come from?’
        The main reason that people use demo to supplement their infantry is because it serves multiple purposes, it doesn’t have to be used solely for demolition. It doubles as decent anti-tank too. Flame weapons only do 1 job, and not all the time either, so it’s a kind of tax in a multi-game tournament/campaign where you make an all comers list and don’t know the missions .
        If you know the mission and then design a list, flame is perfect.

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      • So what does all that infantry do in those tournament games that are not objective diving scrums? Either they’re contributing, and thus flame units have something to do, or they are not, in which case your flame units get in the way and take up space. If the points for the flame units comes out of your infantry allowance, you are not hurting yourself nearly as much as if you pull the points out of other areas of a list.

        If there is no anti infantry weapons, then it makes sense the people with the strongest infantry will win.

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      • Chris, the only mission type where they might not have much to do is Kill Point based. Focal points they usually count double, right? Objective based you HAVE to have them, unless it’s completely rural in nature. Even then, if you run all skimmers you have to have them to get into forests and such. Same with Intel based. Plus, most of them can AA or snipe stuff. Even infantry can be made useful in most missions.

        To me, it’s really hard to make flame units as useful as just spending those same points on other units. There’s just better options.

        For example, I’d much rather spend a few more points on Sirens in a Triton than Menchits in a Neptune. Sirens can outright destroy other infantry (arguably better than Menchits), they can kill A5 vehicles, they can find objectives/intel in buildings (where 99% of games are played) and they are FAR more mobile. And, more resilient due to having six DP and a Hellacious dodge, too.

        Flame needs to be made a part of a unit like Junos (ground transport) or an upgrade to certain troops. Nearly 120 points for somewhat mobile Menchits is almost 10% of a list for PHR. That’s a lot of points on a very niche unit that does things that other units do better.

        Resistance have it correct: cheap and fast. You can buy just 1 flame wagon for 18pts(?) for your group of 12 wagons, right? I can’t remember.

        Again, I REALLY want to like/use them but I just can’t justify it in my mind. Thanks for the article, though!

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    • -If infantry count double, more of a reason to flame them. It kills their infantry w/o risking your own.
      -Rural is a different beast, and infantry only get 1″ move in forests. You need walkers or tracked/wheel vehicles.
      -Deploying flame units forward in intel lets them cover multiple buildings meaning they are doing more than usual.
      -Infantry AA is 6″ and a few extra shots are nice, and if they are in a position to do so, then they are also in a position to get flamed.
      -All flame units can kill A5 vehicles.

      All of your Siren example is exactly why i’m arguing for flame. Exotics are great against most infantry but against enemy exotic they can very well die. The flame units don’t risk themselves. Also, dodge save and 6 DP means diddly-squat against flame.

      I’m not disagreeing that flame weapons on other mounts or upgrades wouldn’t be better, but at what point does Hawk stop casting the current flame units? It doesn’t seem to fit into Hawk’s typical course of action, and so I won’t hold my breath.

      Not all factions are created the same, and some flame units are better than others. I also don’t expect every list to have flame, but currently it seems none do and I can’t help but ponder the implications. I didn’t want to go down this road, but there are a lot of complaints about Shaltari infantry, most attribute it to the gates, but has anyone ever given the Shaltari a reason not to enter a building? Infantry doesn’t work b/c they can choose to outnumber you or ignore you. Demo will disuade them not to, but it also prevents you from entering that building, meaning they have kept their infantry advantage for which ever building you commit too. Flame disuades them while keeping the building intact for when you are ready.

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      • You make a bunch of sense. I just don’t think the PHR option is worth it at all. It really needs something to make it a bit more all-around-useful for that amount of points.

        Flame units are a low risk against troops in a building, but the trouble I have is the risk they face vs the rest of the enemy army. Where they need to be is close. So you have to support them. But in having them, you have less support because they really can’t defend themselves too well. If they could disembark and fire the flame weapon?

        Maybe I’ll drop to 2 troops and try them? But then collecting Intel/Objectives gets harder… MY BRAIN HURTS!!!

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    • PHR are the hardest to build, I like to build PHR lists as an exercise before making statements. I think your Menchits may be dying b/c your list tends to hang back exposing your Menchits. PHR is the only faction I am building full lists for the next article b/c they have the least wiggle room it seems folly not to. I wouldn’t suggest going down to 2 infantry.

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      • This would be my list, then…

        Will of the Sphere
        Clash: 1500/1500 points
        Standard Army
        PHR Standard Roster [1500/1500 pts]
        Hand of the Sphere – White (Hand of the Sphere) [412 pts]
        Nemesis: Nemesis(Battle Vizier) [280 pts]
        Sirens: 2x Sirens, Triton A1(+Miniguns) [132 pts]
        Battle Pantheon – Blue (Battle Pantheon) [246 pts]
        Battle Squad: 2x Phobos [126 pts]
        Helios Squad: 2x Helios [120 pts]
        Battle Pantheon – Yellow (Battle Pantheon) [279 pts]
        Battle Squad: Ares, Menchit, Neptune [119 pts]
        Helios Squad: 2x Helios, Neptune [160 pts]
        Immortals [218 pts]
        Immortals: 2x Immortals, Neptune, Juno A1, Juno A2 [146 pts]
        ^ Sharing ^ Immortals FAC [Immortals]: 2x Immortals [72 pts]
        Heavy Pantheon [210 pts]
        Taranis Squad: 2x Taranis [90 pts]
        Erebos Squad: 2x Erebos-A, Neptune [120 pts]
        Air Wing [135 pts]
        Athena Squad: Athena [135 pts]

        I’m very happy with everything else, BTW!

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      • I dunno if you could fit more than one Menchit and still field a viable list. Everything I’ve come up w/ has had only 1. Could be viewed as a bonus that you don’t have to buy a full flame squad and can just purchase one.

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  3. Nice piece, Chris!

    I was just wondering what you were thinking/suggesting running your infantry in if you do flame tanks? Would you do the Medium Dropship+APC combo even though it’s slower and puts a lot of infantry eggs in one basket, or would you do Light Dropships?
    The reason I ask, is because the fastest your Flame units are going to be able to move is roughly equivalent to the Medium Dropships and APCs, but then you have to invest a lot of points into that infantry “blob”. But, on the flip side, the extra speed of the light dropships are kind of wasted if you have to wait for your flame tanks to get there, since you’re not going to want to send your infantry into a contested building before your flame units get there and they are a lot more prone to being 1-shot.

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    • I think it depends on the faction, as all flame units sit in different slots and the BGs are arranged a bit differently. Most flame units are going to be concerned with central buildings which are likely 22″ away. Your flame units have 6″ range, but the infantry has to get within 1″, so I don’t think the disparity is too great, and you could run it either way. I’ll be exploring this more in the follow up post.

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  4. Pingback: Y u no flame?! pt. 2 | Rolling Hot

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