The original Human Sphere supplement brought with it many exciting changes that added new tactical depth to the game. In the wake of the Third Edition of the Infinity rules, we have a new edition of Human Sphere which has introduced several new units, providing players with even more options! The Taskmaster is one of those units.
Essentially an enforcer on the huge Nomad spacecraft Bakunin, the Taskmaster provides the faction with access to a hulking Heavy Infantry unit with a range of weapons systems. Let’s look at the profile:
Straight away, we can see that it’s a tanky unit. It’s CC (Close Combat) score is a healthy 19, so it will have a chance in close combat against most units, and a BS (Ballistic Skill) of 13 is very good. The PH (Physical) score of 14 means it’s good at dodging, and will deal decent damage in close combat.
What stands out is the Armour score of 5 and BTS (Bio-Technological Shield) score of 6. The Taskmaster is designed to withstand punishment, and with 2 wounds, should be a difficult thing for the opponent to deal with.
In terms of skills, the Taskmaster has Martial Arts Level 1, which slaps a -3 modifier onto an enemy in close combat, and also gives him Stealth so he can sneak past enemies that don’t have line of sight. This is good news, because as Heavy Infantry, the Taskmaster is susceptible to hacking, so the ability to sneak past enemy repeaters and avoid hacking attacks is very useful.
Kinematika lets the Taskmaster dodge an extra inch. This tends to be used in conjunction with the Engage reaction, which allows units to move into close combat in the opposing player’s turn, although looking at the weapons available to the Taskmaster, my guess is he’ll be shooting rather than trying to get into close combat.
Free Agent is a new addition to the game from Human Sphere 3rd edition (HSN3). Essentially, it means that the unit can be switched from one command group to another at the start of the turn, without spending a Command Token to do so. Players usually have a command group of ten orders (the maximum size) and a smaller group of supplemental units, with units only being able to use orders from their command group, so being able to do this provides flexibility, although in truth I’m not entirely sure how useful it really is.
Finally, skill-wise, we have Fireteam: Duo. Another addition from HSN3, this lets players take two Taskmasters and move them with a single order. However, in non-sectorial Nomad lists, you would need to take an EVO hacker (a special new hacking platform) to enable this. But in theory it makes your force more mobile and efficient.
This is the important part, to be fair, as the Taskmaster is something of a walking pillbox, a bit like a Bakunin version of the Gecko in the Corregidor sectorial. All of the loadouts have a Heavy Pistol for close range shooting, and a Double Action Close Combat Weapon. So if you do find yourself winning a round of close combat, you’ll be forcing the enemy to make 2 saves per hit.
The first loadout sees the Taskmaster toting a HMG (Heavy Machine Gun). Rolling four dice, and with a good range, this may not be the most flexible loadout but it provides the player with a durable heavy weapons platform. However, at 2 SWC (Support Weapon Cost) you’ll need to sacrifice other toys in order to fit this in.
The second loadout option includes a Boarding Shotgun, a fearsome close-range weapon that lays down templates and can fire in Armour Piercing Mode. But more importantly this also inlcudes a Pulzar, a large template weapon that forces targets to make a BTS save or take a wound, and Crazy Koalas! These little things rank amongst my favourite things in Infinity, leaping at enemies in the opponent’s turn, forcing them to dodge or take a Damage 15 ‘Shock’ attack. They’re brilliant for keeping enemies at bay! The cheapest option at 43 points and no SWC, this is a very nice close-range defensive unit.
Third, we see the Crazy Koalas return, this time with a light shotgun (less damaging than the Boarding shotgun, and without an Armour Piercing Mode) and a Heavy Rocket Launcher. This is an outstanding weapon. Better in the mid-range than a missile launcher, and causing fire damage via templates, it’s ideal for taking out groups of enemies and enemies in cover. Personally, I love the combination of the rocket launcher and the shotgun. It means that the Taskmaster is great in short and long range firefights, and the Crazy Koalas once again keep enemies at bay. Possibly my favourite loadout, even at 47 points and 2 SWC.
Fourth, we see the Pulzar and Crazy Koalas once again, this time with a Tinbot A which boosts the Taskmaster’s protection from hacking attacks. His main weapon is the Red Fury, a rapid fire weapon with decent range, which fires ‘Shock’ ammunition. It’s not great, but it provides a high burst weapon to a unit with good Ballistic Skill and Armour, so in the right position, this could make the Taskmaster very hard to shift, especially if you place him in Suppressive Fire mode. This is the most expensive version in terms of points (53) and costs 1 SWC.
Finally, we have a Lieutenant option. This is a bit of a two-edged sword, since the Taskmaster is very durable, so will be tough to eliminate. Unfortunately, players may want to use the Taskmaster to attack the enemy, which means your Lieutenant may find himself on the front line. That’s a big risk!
Personally, I expected to see something a little more ‘weird and wonderful’ for Bakunin, which is a truly bizarre sectorial full of psychotic snipers, arena mutants, monkey-men, killer nuns, elfin hackers and chemically-boosted monsters! Against this backdrop, the Taskmaster seems a little ordinary. But his role is to keep the peace in a place where craziness abounds, so it’s fitting that he’s wearing hulking battle armour, crammed with all manner of weapons systems!
It certainly provides an option that Bakunin was lacking, and in the right role will cause a nightmare for opponents. The addition of Crazy Koalas is absolutely brilliant, too, especially in missions where you need to hold down specific areas of the table.