Infinity: Stars of the Human Sphere: The ALIVE Anti-Establishment Group

Today Chris H looks at something a little different: the ALIVE Anti-Establishment Group! They’re not (yet) aligned to a particular faction, and they don’t (yet) have their own models, but they offer a great range of cool abilities to any Infinity team! Take a look and see what you think, and then start thinking about the models you’ll be using for them and how you’re going to modify them!

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The future, it seems, is ALIVE. As part of the TAGLINE campaign, in which players are invited to participate in a more narrative-focused series of games, Corvus Belli has introduced the ALIVE Anti-Establishment Group. This team of tricksy hackers is currently available to all factions, but the idea seems to be to have them eventually find a home working for one particular member of the Human Sphere.

Regular or Irregular?

The ALIVE Group is a small band of units that can be taken individually, or as a collective, offering factions access to technology and tactics that they would not usually enjoy (more on that later). Taking them as a team makes every unit Regular, so that they contribute regular orders to the Order Pool. This means that you can use their orders for other units, adding greater flexibility.

If you prefer to take fewer than the full compliment of ALIVE members, then they will be Irregular, and will provide orders that only they can use. Players will still be able to spend Command Tokens to convert these to Regular orders as required, but with Command Tokens limited to 4 per game (usually), this isn’t something you’ll want to do too many times.

At present, there are no miniatures available for these new units, so players will be proxying. This in itself is pretty exciting, since the Infinity community contains a lot of excellent painters and hobbyists who will doubtless be sharing some awesome models over the next few months!

Who are they?

Good question! Infinity has a very deep socio-political narrative to it, and plays on the complexities of inter-faction relationships, politics and economics (as well as subterfuge, guerilla warfare and futuristic hyper-violence). So even though the ALIVE Group are branded ‘Anti-Establishment’, we are left to wonder whether this is propaganda, or are they generally a team of underground mavericks? It’s entirely possible they are agents of ALEPH, the dominant AI of the Human Sphere, but they could just as easily be Nomad undercover agitators. Or simple mercenaries hiding behind a romantic ideal! For now, we’ll just have to wonder.

The Team Members

Let’s take a closer look at the members of the ALIVE Group and see what benefits they offer to the factions of the Human Sphere:

Cypher


Immediately we see that the ALIVE members aren’t soldiers. Cypher’s BS (Ballistic Skill ) of 10 is very underwhelming. However, he does have a reasonably good ARM (Armour) and BTS (Bio-Technological Shield) which should offer decent protection against ranged weapons, viral attacks and enemy hacking attempts. Probably the most important statistic is his WIP (Willpower) of 14. This is significant, as certain factions, such as Pan Oceania, have lower Willpower scores, so to players who struggle to field hackers with high WIP, units like Cypher are very tempting.

In keeping with what we might expect from this group of hackers, Cypher carries an Assault Hacking Device. This hardware is excellent for immobilising enemy Heavy Infantry, Tactical Armoured Gear (the anime-influenced Mecha of the Infinity universe) and other hackers, and many a game has been won or lost due to the actions of Assault hackers.

But Cypher is not just a skilled hacker. He is kitted out with some very appealing toys. First of all, his Repeater is worth noting. This isn’t the same as a Deployable Repeater which costs an action to place. This is actually a fully-functioning device that allows all hackers in the force to attack enemies within 8” of Cypher. So players can move Cypher into position behind cover, and within 8” of an enemy, and then use another hacker to attack that enemy. As someone who regularly uses unit with Repeaters, I can say that it’s a very tactically useful device.

There is a downside, of course. Enemies can also hack back through your Repeater, and in the age of Killer Hacking Devices which are designed to murder hackers with horrible programs like REDRUM, this is a very real threat. But if Infinity was safe, it wouldn’t be fun!

Cypher also has Mimetism which means that enemies without special visors will suffer a -3 to hit him. This will help him survive against ranged attacks. However, this isn’t as useful as it sounds, due to Cypher’s weapons loadout. He carries a stun pistol, which isn’t great, so whilst the Mimetism gives him an edge in shoot-outs, he’s unlikely to win many of them. And if he does, he’s very unlikely to hurt anyone.

But that doesn’t leave him defenceless. Far from it! In fact, his weapons loadout is what draws me to him. Cypher carries a rare weapon called an E/Marat, which until now was not widely available. Now, thanks to the ALIVE team, every faction can use them. E/Marats are fantastic template weapons that hit automatically, affecting everything under them with E/M ammunition. This can immobilise Heavy Infantry and TAGs, and even isolates light infantry, leaving them unable to receive orders from the Order Pool. Just for fun, Cypher carries two of these weapons, so can place two templates over different groups of enemies, or place both over the same group of targets, to force those who fail to dodge to make two BTS saves instead of one. This is very, very nasty, especially against marauding enemy fireteams (squads that move and act as one, and can be very effective in Infinity).

Finally, Cypher carries an E/Mauler, essentially a deployable mine that fires E/M ammunition! I can see Cypher being a very strong defensive unit for those factions looking for a method to deal with aggressive enemies.

For 20pts and 0.5 SWC, he’s a decent unit that provides very useful options in terms of effective hacking, repeater range and defense. The E/Marats are terrifying prospects for enemies to face, and may be the one reason many players opt to take him.

Bit & KISS


The next member of the ALIVE Group is Bit. An interesting unit, Bit comes with a REM (Remote), a small synchronised robot. So the player gets two units, a human light infantry and a dinky little robot! Neither of them can be taken at face value.

Bit has a reasonable BS of 11, which you would expect from a basic trooper, although with no Armour you wouldn’t want to get in the middle of too many firefights. A BTS of 6 is excellent though, and this combined with a White Hacking Device makes Bit a great counter to enemy hackers. White Hacking Devices enable hackers to gain additional defensive options against hacking attacks, and even enables them to turn attacks back towards their enemies. They’re not widespread in Infinity, so again, we’re seeing previously uncommon technology being shared amongst many different factions.

Bit’s weapons are also tactically intriguing. The Stun Light Grenade Launcher is an unusual template weapon that can limit enemy effectiveness. It’s also able to be used in the Speculative Fire mode, letting Bit launch Stun grenades at enemies hiding in full cover.

Bit also carries a Pitcher, which again isn’t a device that most factions have been able to use until now. With it, players can launch Repeaters across the battlefield, getting hacking coverage wherever they want it. This is simply superb, and in my opinion makes Bit worth taking.

The last pieces of kit are an electric pulse, which can be effective in close combat and causes enemy units to become immobilised, and a FastPanda. Previously seen being used by Nomad Interventors, these little robots can be placed anywhere in 8” and essentially act as Repeaters. So Bit is very good at getting your Repeaters where you want them.

Looking at the Remote, KISS, we can see that it’s 6-4 movement makes it nice and quick, and that it also has a Repeater. What’s appealing though is the Adhesive Launcher. This weapon fires a quickly solidifying agent at the target, effectively encasing it in super-strong glue. It can, theoretically, render TAGs useless in one shot. However, players should bear in mind that KISS has a BS of 10, so even in the +3 range band, you should be prepared to miss every now and then!

Bit and Kiss will set you back 19 points in total, and 0.5 SWC. It’s pretty cheap for 2 regular orders, and the equipment loadout is interesting. Bit is clearly geared up to be a defenive unit, with the White Hacking Device, and can get some excellent repeater coverage.

Switch


OK, so here’s the one that made my eyes go wide. Switch is very aggressive, something that is evident in his/her order type. Now, the other members are either Irregular if taken individually, or Regular if taken as a group. But Switch is always Irregular. He/She (we just don’t know yet!) also has the Frenzy special rule, so if Switch kills an enemy, you get an extra order to spend. Which can be really useful, but can also lead to Switch running into enemy fire lanes and getting chewed up.

For a Frenzied unit, Switch has a low CC (Close Combat) score of 13. So don’t expect to charge into combat and tear the enemy to shreds. However, a BS of 11 is in keeping with most line troops. Sadly, Switch has no Armour or Bio-Technological Shield, so if you get hit by a buller or an E/Mauler, you’re going to struggle. But Switch’s Willpower of 13 is good. Not great, but good.

So far, not awesome. But wait!

The amazing aspects of Switch are all in the equipment and weapons loadout. Switch has a Killer Hacking Device, introduced to the game in the Human Sphere Third Edition rulebook. This nasty item murders hackers. Hacking Devices might be able to hurt enemies, Assault Hacking Devices can freeze them. But the KHD makes heads explode without much effort at all!

On it’s own, a KHD is great. But Switch has a Holoprojector, which lets the player mask Switch as another unit. So your enemy won’t know that you have a Killer Hacking Device until his deployment zone is covered in hacker brains! To augment this, Switch also has Stealth, so you can sneak up on enemy hackers and then take them out. Very, very unpleasant.

It doesn’t end there. Switch has one of my favourite weapons in the game, the E/Mitter. This weapon fires an E/M pulse that forces targets to make 2 saves using half their BTS. If they fail, they’re isolated and can no longer provide orders to, or use orders from, the Order Pool. If they’re Heavy Infantry or a TAG, they’re immobilised. Switch carries two of these, so rolls two dice when shooting with them, instead of one. This member of the ALIVE Group just has me rubbing my hands with glee!

At 15 points and no SWC, I say Switch is an absolute bargain.

There’s a Deal to be Done

At the bottom of Switch’s profile, we can see that the entire ALIVE team can be bought for 50 points and 1 SWC. This is a slight saving on buying them all individually, and overall, a good deal in my opinion. They’re very useful units, with some extremely nasty weapons loadouts, although it has to be said that against an enemy who doesn’t bring many hackers, Heavy Infantry and TAGs (yes, these strange people do exist), you may find that they don’t bring much to the table.

As for ideas on how to field them as a team, I can see myself using Cypher to immobilise heavy enemy units in order for KISS to shoot them with the adhesive launcher. The target won’t be able to dodge, and hopefully the glue-gun will stick them in place for the rest of the game (or until you shoot them with impunity with real bullets until they disintegrate). As for Switch, I’d like to use Holoprojector to mask him/her as a sniper, lying prone on a rooftop, and then unleash the KHD on an unsuspecting enemy hacker using one of the Repeaters laid down by Bit.

Balance

The ALIVE Group gives players access to gear they may well have never used. And as with any game, the more choice there is, the more players can express themselves, get involved creatively, and have fun. But what about balance? Is there an issue with taking devices available to certain factions, and giving them to everyone?

This is certainly a valid concern. Factions all have strengths and weaknesses. Some are great at hacking, others are terrible at it. Some are great at getting Repeaters where they want them, other’s aren’t. Nomad players may be irked that now everyone can fling Repeaters around like confetti at a wedding, or that some of their less Neuromancer-infused foes can suddenly compete in the hacking game. But on reflection, I think this is all good. Yes, factions with typically low WIP can now attack you with a formidable band of hackers, and yes, some factions have now fixed holes in their defensive line. But in this new era of Killer Hackers, putting down a Repeater comes with a risk, and the factions who have always been strong in the hacking game remain strong.

To sum up, this is an exciting addition to the game. Infinity has a dizzying array of units already, and thanks to the game’s mechanics, every unit is useful, so you don’t end up with a narrow meta. I’m sure the community is looking forward to trying out the ALIVE team. Dirty tricks FTW!

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If you like the sound of the ALIVE Group, be sure to check out our full range of Infinity miniatures to find yourself some proxy models, and look out for our range of paints and modelling tools coming at the end of the month!

And if you’re in the southeast UK, take a look at the Chaos Cards Tabletop Gaming Centre’s Facebook page to get all the latest news on the events, including Infinity events, that we’ll be running!

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