Infantry in Heavy Gear: Blitz!
Humankind has yet to reach a phase where holding terrain will not be a part of war, and even in a future battlefield ruled by four meter tall battle robots you still need boots on the ground. Infantry in Heavy Gear Blitz fill an interesting niche. They are lightly armed and armored but still difficult to remove with out the right tools. The common trooper is often an underdog, but in the right conditions can be a real nightmare for the enemy. Infantry come in three types in Heavy Gear. There are Infantry Squads which are 6-8 models on a base. They represent a full squad of soldiers and are the most resilient. Infantry Teams which are 2-4 models and are specialized fire teams often bringing special equipment or a point discount at a cost of being more vulnerable. Finally there are Individual Models which are reserved for mounted models, power armored FLAILS or the mysterious En-Koreshi sand riders.
Dug in Like a Tick
Infantry squads and teams represent groups of many soldiers spread out over a large area, making good use of cover. As such when you shoot at an infantry squad without using a weapon with the Anti-Infantry (AI) trait, you can only inflict 2 damage max. Infantry also get to make better use of terrain and gain 2d6 for defense anytime they would benefit from cover. Since most AI weapons are short range, this means a gear will have to get dangerously close to remove them. Most of the time this won’t be a problem but if those infantry are guarding an objective or killing them IS the objective, it can be a pain.
This is my Anti-Heavy-Gear Rifle. There Are Many Like it, But This One is Mine…
Infantry are mostly equipped with anti-infantry weapons. Their main job is to deal with other humans. Some options are available to infantry squads to remove armored targets though. Most faction infantry have access to Medium Anti-Vehicle Missiles, which bring both AP and a reasonable damage of 6 (plus the guided trait). Mortar squads can do decent damage to light vehicles without having to expose themselves.
In addition infantry can purchase Shaped Explosives and universal drones including the Demo Drone. It will require the enemy to get close to you to use these, but that synergizes with the fact that most common anti-infantry weapons have a range of “proximity” and gears will likely need to get close to fight you. Especially given how cheap this package is (4 points for a squad with medium shaped explosives or a demo drone) it can be an interesting option. This is especially true when you look at an entire GP combat group kitted with these sort of weapons for only 16 points.
Fast and Special Deployment Infantry
Most factions have access to mounted infantry units. The Leagues typically bring bikes or ATVs while some Badlanders ride tamed pack lizards into battle. Earth even gets hover bikes! These units are faster than most infantry and have the Ground (G) or Hover (H) movement types and usually come with grenade launchers to give them a little more punch. With movement rates comparable to recon units, they are good options for Break Through or Recon objectives.
It is important to note that they do have a few disadvantages due to their size. Only infantry models with the Infantry (I) movement type can enter APCs or Buildings. Since bikes change their movement type to G or H, they don’t qualify for that. This same distinction is true for buying shaped explosives. However, Lizard riders, available to NuCoal and the South, maintain Infantry movement type allowing them to buy shaped explosives. So your velociraptor cavalry can joust a gear and do basically the coolest thing imaginable.
Most factions have access to Paratrooper squads typically paying one additional point to be airdropped. This can allow you more flexibility to exploit terrain on the battlefield, or to get the most use out of the Fortifications rule by placing them outside of your deployment zone. Many factions infantry are also available in RC or SK Unit Availability, which gives them access to special deployment types and helps mitigate their otherwise slow speed. It is worth noting here that if a primary unit has the “Pathfinders” deployment for being RC or SF type, then their Support Unit also gets it. You can use this to bring an APC for support, or get a heavier model typically found in a Fire Support squad up the field.
Removing infantry is best done with weapons with the Anti-Infantry trait. That’s pretty obvious and most gears come with an APGL which can get the job done. The problem really comes in when to clear infantry. Once they get to cover the little jerks are typically rolling 4d6 for defense. Even with the +2d6 from Fragmentation on the APGL, you are still rolling at even odds. If you know they are going to be a threat, it is worth doing what you can to instead catch them out of cover, either by flaking them if they are hiding behind something, or catching them before they get to area terrain. Another good option for removing infantry is your own infantry squads. Their weapons all have AI and they are likely to want to be in the same general areas as enemy infantry.
If you think that you are going to deal with a large number of infantry, check what your faction has available for Anti-Infantry options. A quick search in Gear Grinder for frag cannons (most commonly the MFC), HMGs, or the less common Anti-personnel Rocket pod (APR) will give you some options to work with. A few factions even have dedicated anti-infantry units, such as the terrifying Command Mammoth Anti-Infantry variant which brings a DAM 8 CCW with AI, a weapon that can remove an entire squad with an MoS of zero. Except against very special skews it isn’t really worth going deep on dedicated anti-infantry equipment, especially if you have some generic trooper gears. But bringing one solid AI option or being prepared to leverage your own infantry to do the job isn’t a bad idea.
Faction Specific Infantry Overview
Expect future articles on some of these models, but for new players, here is an overview of Infantry by faction. Most factions share access to the same universal profiles for infantry. Their training and weapons don’t varry enough to be worth rewriting them for each section. However, most factions have access to at least a few special profiles. The North, Peace River, and Caprice all make use of the generic infantry only. The South can get several varieties of lizard riders! NuCoal has access to standard infantry and GREL (see the CEF entry below) but has also made alliances with the enigmatic Sand Riders, Terra-Novas mysterious desert badasses. The Koreshi sand riders load their rifles with White Sand causing the corrosion effect, bring tamed desert beasts into battle, or even deploy single on foot models capable of destroying light gears. Black Talons predictably bring troops with stealth and silenced weapons but also have jetpacks(!) allowing them much more mobility.
Caprice has generic choices but applies the Climber trait to their soldiers. Most of their forces will also let you bring allied infantry from other factions Eden and Utopia don’t have access to infantry within their lists, but can recruit CEF or other infantry as part of their sub-lists. I saved the best for last because the CEF bring the most frightening infantry in the game: GREL shock troopers. Expect a separate article on these genetically engineered super soldiers. To summarize here, GREL are everything normal infantry are with higher armor, better weapons, and boosted stats. They even have access to hover bikes, or the terrifying Morgana assault groups with stealth and brawler. If that wasn’t enough the CEF also have FLAILS something akin to power armored troopers that are even tougher to remove.
Another fine day in the corps…
So that about sums it up. Even if they are not your thing, I would recommend bringing along a few squads of infantry to try them out. They add balance to the game, and fulfill a specific and interesting role. Almost as important though is something infantry do that has nothing to do with their stats: they add scale. Having them along helps remind you and your opponent of how large the machines you are battling with are, and adds a lot to the presentation of the game.