Commanders in Blitz are one of the easiest ways to boost your troops’ effectiveness. Far more than just the person who rolls initiative, your leaders can improve attack rolls, let you react out of turn, or give models critical re-rolls. They do this through the Orders mechanic. Every combat group must automatically elect one leader to be the Combat Group Leader. This CGL gains a free Command Point (CP) and any Skill Points (SP) they have or gain during a game will also become CP.
Command Points let you use Orders. We will go more into that below, but first it is worth pointing out that commanders can only issue Orders to their own combat group. However, one commander in your force MUST be upgraded to the Force Leader. The Force Leader will make initiative rolls on behalf of your troops!
Orders are not actions and don’t follow the standard turn order. This means you can use one at any time, even during another player’s action. You can also issue more than one at once! If you find yourself suddenly under heavy fire you could have your commander issue both the Defense Up and Pop Smoke orders when shots are declared. There are only three general limitations to orders:
- They cost a Command Point (CP) from the commander issuing them.
- A Combat Group Leader or Second in Command can only issue them to their own unit, but an officer (Executive Officer, Commanding Officer, Task Force Commander) can issue them to anyone in the army.
- Certain orders might specify timing or require use of an action or React+ token (such as Pop Smoke which requires you to expend an action/React+, or Try Again which requires the receiving model to have just made a roll)
Issuing orders in the heat of battle requires a roll! While the Electronic Warfare rules are cut and dry one can assume that there is all manner of chaff, active jamming, and just electromagnetic noise from the Terra Novan environment. Because of this, commanders will have to make an unopposed EW roll to issue orders. If you fail, the CP is spent and the order doesn’t happen. Remember if you are issuing several orders at once, it is still just one roll. We will break down what orders do in depth below, but first let’s talk about ways to make issuing them easier and how to block them.
The Comms trait allows a commander to issue orders to anyone within formation (IE within 6” of it and from the same combat group) and automatically pass the EW roll! You can also use the Comms trait of any other model in formation, so there is no need to make sure your commander’s model has this trait so long as you keep your radio guy close.
You will still have to make an EW roll for models outside of formation, but if you do so with another models Comms, you will also use their (likely better) EW skill. Satellite Uplink is an improved form of Comms and does all the same things. However, it ALSO improve s your EW skill by 1 when you do have to make an unopposed roll. Finally ECCM will give +1d6 to any EW roll (opposed or unopposed) to all models in Formation (same CG and within 6”).
Stopping Enemy Orders: That’s My Jam
Orders can be stopped by the ECM Jamming Reaction. ECM Jamming is a Reaction by a model with ECM or ECM+ which forces an opposed EW roll, before the roll is made for the order.. Since it is opposed, the bonus to the EW skill from SatUp is not available. On a margin of success of 0 or above, i.e. the Jamming model has an MoS of >= 0, the Model is successfully Jammed and may not issue orders or declare Scan actions for the rest of the round!
If the Jamming attempt is unsuccessful, the commander issuing the order rolls as normal, and may still fail the order attempt. ECCM will grant +1d6 to a model being jammed as well as the model performing a Jamming action, so it’s a good bit of kit to have around!
- Try Again – This lets a model in your Combat Group re-roll the roll they just made. All the usual limits on Re-rolls apply, but sometimes you just really need something to get through or defend a key model. Beware issuing this order if your EW skills aren’t very good–you may fail the roll to issue the order and therefore not be able to make the reroll!
- Let Them Have It – This puts “Stable” on all attacks for the Combat Group allowing them to be more deadly when moving. This is a very powerful order as it either improves a Combat Speed shooting maneuver, or negates the penalty for moving Top Speed! That infantry unit hiding behind cover may have thought it was safe, but you might just be able to deliver that Frag Cannon-toting Gear along with a fresh helping of buckshot!
- Coordinated Attack – Re-roll attacks on one enemy model. It can be combined with other orders for helping to take down big threats. This is often more powerful than Try Again, as it lets more models attempt a reroll. However, you don’t know if you’ll need to reroll, so use wisely!
- Charge – Removes the Top Speed -1d6 penalty for melee. Great to let your models with Brawler retain some of that bonus!
- Defense Up/Pop Smoke – These orders let you use the ECM Defense and Release Smoke actions as if they were reactions. It still costs the model using the ECM or Smoke an action, but it lets you deploy those defensive assets and use them immediately. Note that you cannot spend your React+ in this way, it has to be an action. These orders can be a good use of a command point when an enemy surprises you with a firing lane you didn’t expect, or when you don’t have initiative and need to get defense up before your models activate.
Getting the most out of your commanders
While you will notice that while there are many options to upgrade your Combat Group Leaders none of them add additional command point. There are still ways to get more orders for your units though. Remember any SP on a leader becomes a CP. There are a few ways to get those Skill Points. Some vehicles (often the Command variants) will have SP listed in their profile meaning they grant a free skill point. Veteran upgrade also gives a Skill Point.
Finally, notice the Second in Command upgrade. This lets one additional model in a combat group get a CP. The above options also apply here meaning you could upgrade them to veterans or give them the right equipment and have a combat group with 4 (or more) orders. If you delve a little into the profiles in your faction you can start to unlock hidden synergies and get the most from the brass.