Fireside Chats: Distributing troopers into combat groups

Putting an army list together is a mindboggling task. You want to cram in as many goodies as you can, but soon you realize that you have to make concessions. Once you are done with this, comes another pain for the brain: Dividing up your troops into two combat groups. Here is a guideline on how to do it.

Categorizing troopers

When it comes to dividing up the troops, I divide up my soldiers into three categories:

  • Heavy hitting fighters and specialists, troopers you want to spend orders on. You can subcategorize this group into order intensive troopers and those who need less orders. Close combat fighters and specialists usually need more orders than long distance fighters.
  • Cheerleading” soldiers, meaning regular line troopers who supply the heavy hitters with orders.
  • Irregular troopers who are not heavy hitters. Yuan Yuans, Hardcases and (unlinked) Galwegians are examples of such troopers.
Line troopers such as Fusiliers, make perfect "cheerleaders"

Line troopers such as Fusiliers, make perfect “cheerleaders”

It is not so important whether troopers from the first category are regular or irregular. You will want to move them every turn anyway.

You should make sure that you have enough troopers of the second category in both groups. Don’t put your cheerleaders into the second group with the main combat troopers and specialists in the first! Divide up your cheerleaders depending on how many orders your main troopers will probably need.

The troopers of the third category are the hardest to distribute. They clog up the system a bit. To be honest, I see irregular as a serious disadvantage. I try to avoid irregular troopers, especially if I feel I will not necessarily want to activate them every turn.

Make sure you have decided which category your soldiers belong to before you divide them up.

Balanced combat groups

One sound approach is to simply divide up the troopers equally into two groups. In that case, avoid the numbers 11, 12 and even 13 as your total of troopers like a vampire shuns garlic. Go for 7-7 if you have 14, 8-7 if you have 15, etc. If you really have 13, you should probably go for 8-5.

If you absolutely cannot avoid to have 11 or 12 models, please read the part Shifting troopers into the other group during the game below. If you do not want to follow the advice given there, you are probably better off with getting rid of a weak trooper and exchanging a heavy hitter with an even more expensive model, just to stick to the magical number 10.

If you opt for a balanced combat group, just put an equal number of troopers from each category into both groups.


Units likethe SAS will use up a lot of your orders

I do not play with balanced combat groups that much anymore, I prefer unbalanced ones:

Unbalanced combat groups

You do not necessarily want to have a balanced number of troopers in each group. This would mean that troopers from both groups have only few orders at their disposal. You better have a strong group with many troopers and a smaller one. This is especially true if you use order intensive troopers such as dog warriors who will  move a lot. This approach gives you more flexibility, but only works if you carefully select the troopers of the second group.

In the unbalanced approach, you want to have the main group as full as possible. It is preferable to have a group of 10. You put the majority of your category one troopers into this group, but also a few troopers from the second category. Make sure all your most order intensive troopers are in the main combat group.  Avoid having category three troopers in your larger combat group.

However, depending on how many troopers you have in total, you still want to have an effective second group. A group should have at least 5 members. If I have a list of 14, I will probably put 9 into the main group and 5 into the smaller one.

This weaker second group could simply consist of one or two category one troopers supported by the orders of a few line troopers.  In this case, you would not want to have any category three troopers in there.

A second option is placing troopers from the first category, but who are not order intensive, into the second group. Examples of such models are stationary snipers, total reaction bots or sappers. Sometimes they get more shooting to do than you expected or have to leave their initial position. It is unlikely that everyone in the second group needs to do that, so you can use the orders of the other troopers on the one guy who gets more work than expected. This allows you to put troopers from the third category into this smaller group, but better not to the point that your low order intensive fighters have to rely solely on their own order.

ARO pieces, like the Zouave, usually start in the smaller combat group and are shifted to the bigger one as casualties mount up

ARO pieces, like the Zouave, usually start in the smaller combat group and are shifted to the bigger one as casualties mount up

Shifting troopers into the other group during the game

Fortunately for the players with bigger forces, Corvus Belli introduced the possibility to shift troopers from one group to another at the cost of a command token. This allows not only for emergency changes, but also for strange setups as a group ratio of 10-1.

This option allows for a few tricks: You could put a model you have no intention of using early in the game (a hidden TO trooper or an airborne for example) as the sole member of the second combat group. By the time you want to use that troop you can switch him/her into the first group and thus get the maximum effect. Of course, this does not only need careful planning but also the demise of one of your precious soldiers.

A case can also be made for putting 1 or 2 weak irregular troopers into the second group if you have 11 or 12 models. You use their own orders until they can be shifted into the first group so you have all the regular orders in the big group. (Yuan Yuans would be a terrible choice for this as you want to deploy them early and move them on immediately.)

Keeping it all in your mind

A further subject for this topic is memory: If you have a troopers of the same units, you may want to put them in the same group to avoid confusion. Maybe that is just me, but I sometimes find it hard to remember which combat group a trooper is from if I have several of the same type and they are in different groups.  This way I can easily avoid unintentional cheating. You may choose to do it like me but that will make your time tinkering with your list even harder. It is obviously better to have a good memory and remember which model was in which group.

I am sure that not everybody agrees with me and that much more can be said on this topic. If you feel that this is the case, do not hesitate do share your opinions in a comment below.

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4 Responses

  1. MrChadTompkins says:

    Thank you for the advice good knowledge as always sir!

  2. Patrycjusz 'Alkasyn' Piechowski says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article – this week I’m just the messenger and Prophet of Doom is the author 🙂

  3. Tom says:

    Great article. Thanks a lot for publishing it. Very useful.

  4. Prophet_of_Doom says:

    I am sure there is way more to be said about this issue. I mindboggle about it every time I write a new list. Dividing troops into combat groups is probably the most unfun aspect of Infinity.

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