Let’s talk about what we are even fighting about?
Unlike certain grimmer and darker universes, military units are not just there to annihilate their opposition. In Heavy Gear each force will have a diverse set of objectives that match the design of their units. Unless you are playing a special scenario, this means objectives are chosen after set-up but before the game starts. This makes every game a bespoke scenario. Let’s learn how objectives work and some of the tricks for achieving them.
Overview of Role-Based Objectives
For the purposes of thie article, we’ll be looking at the Heavy Gear Blitz! Tournament System objectives and their assignment to roles as defined in the HGBTS document. You can read all about it in the Tournament System page:
Let’s break everything down by the available unit roles in Heavy Gear, as the objective selections are tied to the primary role of the unit.
General Purpose (GP)
General Purposes squads are exactly that. They serve a wide range of needs on the battlefield such as providing light fire support, spotting telemetry, or even just providing bodies to take and hold ground. In Heavy Gear, GP combat groups are generally made up of line gears, line infantry, or light vehicles which are correspondingly cheap, flexible, and plentiful. As such, the objectives are stand-ins for the types of tasks that these types of troops might need to accomplish:
When you declare the Hold objective, you place two 40mm tokens on your table half outside your deployment zone. These tokens must also be 12” fromother Hold or Capture tokens. At the end of the game, you get one point per each one of your Hold tokens that you control, i.e. you have more non-destroyed models within 4” and in Line of Sight of a token than your opponent.
Narratively, the Hold objective represents holding ground, unsurprisingly. If you have no models there, that means you failed to secure a section of the battlefield and therefore did not accomplish the objectives set forth by your commanders. If the objective is contested, that could represent that the enemy has found your supply dump and now you have to move it following the battle, meaning you have also failed to secure your hold objectives. If you outnumber your opponent, that could mean you successfully fought off the enemy and you’ve just barely held onto that area, maybe the situation is actually recoverable enough to be a success!
Mechanically, taking the Hold objective requires that you either keep forces on your table half or return them to your table half by the end of the game while simultaneously fending off the enemy forces. It sounds easy, but if your opponent is clever and has some speedy recon units, you might have a pretty tough go of it!
Flags is a new objective to the Heavy Gear Blitz! Game. Upon declaration of Flags, you must nominate two of your Combat Group Leaders (CGLs) to become Flag Carriers. Flag Carriers can spend an action while in the enemy table half to plant a 40mm flag token in base to base with themselves. Enemy models may spend an action within 4” and Line of Sight of a flag token to remove the flag token from the table.
If a flag token is on the table for two consecutive cleanup phases, you score one objective point (per flag token that made it through two turns). At this point, you remove the token, it’s job is done.
Of course, the idea of Terra Novan (or benevolent CEF forces) assigning any real weight to having a flag planted in the ground is a bit silly. However, there are many real-world scenarios where it would be valuable to advance into enemy territory, deploy equipment, protect it for some length of time, and then recover the equipment and leave. For example, you might deploy some sort of sensor array to sniff the airwaves for signals intelligence, triangulate where the enemy commanders are, etc. You could even think of it as placing a cache of weapons or equipment to support an insurgency against the enemy. The term “flags” is just a catchall term to represent missions of this type.
In terms of gameplay, the Flags objective forces you to extend your CGLs past the centerline, and have some sort of force protect the deployed token for at least two turns. There are timing considerations here. For example, you can reduce exposure time of the token by ensuring that your flag carriers activate last in a turn, so you enter the first cleanup phase immediately, but that also gives your opponent more time to kill your flag carriers! You also have to think about how to defend your tokens, and your CGLs!
Strike combat groups are generally composed of gears and vehicles carrying heavier armament and or heavier armor. They are intended to skirmish with the enemy, taking advantage of their armor, reasonable speed (in comparison to the truly high armor units), and heavy guns to suppress the enemy and clear the way for lighter units.
You will also see infantry in the SK role, typically due to them carrying Heavy Infantry Support weapons and the like. A fair number of SK gears also have access to the Airdrop rule, which models more of a shock troop, line breaking role.
Capture is mechanically similar to the Hold objective available to GP combat groups, with the difference being that the objectives must be placed in the enemy table half, outside their deployment zone.
The narrative aspects of the Capture objective are similar to that of Hold. Your commanders might be looking to secure ground in advance of the bulk of the forces coming on behind your units, and you’re designating rally points, or trying to hold a particularly advantageous piece of terrain.
Unlike Hold though, you don’t necessarily have to go backwards (unless you really push your opponent hard). Capture objectives encourage you to push your units forward into the enemy table half and stay there until the end of the game. You also have to push enemy units off your objectives, or outnumber them, so plan accordingly!
Pave the Way
The Pave the Way objective has you select two enemy combat groups. For each combat group you reduce to half (or less) of its starting number of actions, you get a point at the end of the game.
This objective leans in hard to the idea that Strike Combat Groups are there to, well, strike the enemy! Take advantage of your power to weight ratio here, apply maneuverability, and punch a hole in the enemy’s lines to advance through.
Pave the Way also allows you to punish opponents who spam cheap, lightly armored units to maximize their combat group count. It also allows you to target Independent Operator duelists to pick up quick, easy points (assuming your opponent isn’t playing a faction that allows Strider Duelists!).
Special Operations (SO)
Oftentimes called “Smooth Operators,” special operations combat groups are all about bringing specialized equipment and training along with laser-like focus on acheiving particular aims on the battlefield. In Heavy Gear Blitz, combat groups with the SO role can take a specialized flank deployment, staying within 6” of a table edge but extending the deployment zone an additional 12”!
To reflect their specialized equipment and high speed, low drag mentality, SO combat groups have some pretty interesting objectives:
This objective is pretty straightforward. You point at two enemy commanders, and if you destroy those commanders by the end of the game, you get a point per destroyed commander!
What if all this force on force action was just a cover for inserting some stealth gears to take out some key enemy personnel? You can even use this objective to discourage enemy commanders from exposing themselves, potentially taking a gun out of the fight by psychological pressure alone!
Like Capture, you have to place two 40mm tokens in the enemy table half outside their deployment zone. Unlike Capture, to score the Raid objective, you have to get into base to base with the token, spend an action, and then stay alive until the end of the game.
The story here is that you’re going to steal something from behind enemy lines. It could be any military or political objective! The hard part is getting there and staying alive until the end of the game!
Fire Support (FS)
Now we’ve finally moved on to the biggest and chonkiest of robots and tanks. These units exist entirely to dominate the battlefield and are capable of dishing out and taking massive amounts of punishment. Sometimes you’ll find smaller units with a FS classification, but those are usually support units for the big guns, e.g. spotter units.
Just by existing on the battlefield, these huge units shape enemy positioning, deny avenues of approach, and keep the heads down of opposing units! Since Fire Support units can project so much power and influence on the table, the objectives have to be relatively difficult to achieve.
Wipe Them Out
Wipe Them Out was often a difficult objective to justify, because your ability to achieve a maximum score is dependent on your opponent’s list. When you declare Wipe Them Out, you nominate an enemy combat group. If you reduce it to half actions by the end of the game, you get a point. If that group has a primary or secondary role of Fire Support, you get an additional point if you wipe out half the actions.
The narrative angle is clear here–more dakka now! However, by not taking dedicated FS units, your opponent could deny you an entire point. In a 100TV game, that’s potentially 25% of your total scorable points! That’s a big deal, and you have no control over it. Your opponent isn’t even significantly hampering their list by not taking FS units. SK-classified units generally hit above their TV cost, and you can generally field 2 big SK units for the cost of 1.5 FS units, which is not a bad tradeoff.
Depending on your meta, this may or may not be an issue, i.e. if everyone takes FS units, then Wipe Them Out is a safe choice. It also lets you punish your opponent for taking a powerhouse FS unit, but you have to risk your own unit. However, in competitive play where everyone is looking to maximize their points and minimize yours, why not start you off at a 25% disadvantage (if you’re not playing HGBTS)? Thus, the following objective was born:
Claim has you divide the table into two equal rectangular halves. You score a point if you have more models than your opponent in a table half, not counting tables on the dividing line or still in their players’ deployment zone. Don’t worry, if you get one of your units into your opponent’s deployment zone, they still count, it’s just their models in their zone that don’t count (and yours in yours).
If you have more points in both halves, you get two points. This sounds easy, but can be quite hard if you have a low model count army. You also have to dedicate movement to pushing things into the right zones and keeping them there. It also means you have to pay attention to where your opponent could end up. It’s likely you can get 1 point, but getting both will be quite difficult unless it’s a one-sided bloodbath.
Alright, last but least it’s our speed freaks, the Reconnaissance units! These models are comparatively lightly armored but make up for it with speed and in some case literal agility. RC units also tend to have access to E-War equipment like Sensor range buffs, SatUp, ECM, etc.
Recon units are all about going fast, scouting a region and reporting back to the main forces of an army. They generally want to flank an enemy or even go behind enemy lines to see what intelligence they can gather! To reflect this, the two recon objectives are as follows:
When choosing Detailed Scan, nominate two enemy commanders. If you successfully Scan a commander, you get a point. Scanning a sensor requires sensor lock within 6” and beating them on opposed EW roll. Detailed Scan can be Jammed, so watch out for nearby ECM units!
This is all about what Recon units are supposed to do–go get intelligence on the enemy commanders. This objective used to be an unopposed roll and not require sensor lock, but that proved to be pretty straightforward to get. Now it’s quite difficult, but with the addition of other objectives that encourage units to move forward, e.g. Flags, Claim, Raid, you can nominate commanders that are likely to move up!
Break the Line
Break the Line simply requires a unit being alive in the enemy’s deployment zone during a cleanup phase. Every turn you can do this gets you 1 point, up to maximum of two. You can’t score more than one point per turn per Break the Line objective, so don’t just throw two units under the bus at the end of a turn and expect to score out.
This objective represents going fast and getting behind enemy lines. It used to be a SK-objective, but it was most often RC units actually achieving this objective, so why not put it in the RC role? Well that and GREL Hoverbikes, but who’s counting.
How to Select Objectives
Well, we’ve talked about what objectives there are, a bit about the mechanics and the narrative behind each. Let’s talk about actually using them in a game!
After deployment you and your opponent will take turns selecting objectives. You get one per 50 TV of the force. This is done by selecting one combat group and generating an objective for them. You do this based on the unit’s role. You have to use all combat groups before repeating any objective and can’t pick any objective more than twice. This means the models will tend to match the mission (so unlikely to take your mega tanks out for a stealthy recon sweep).
Because you select and place your objectives sequentially, this makes the process into a mini-game. Did your opponent pick a Hold objective placed on their side of the table? Pick a capture objective and place it nearby so you can deny them points while scoring your own. This high risk high reward strategy might be the right move depending on the board and enemy forces.
Know that a certain unit is likely to try and score Break the Line? Choose Pave the Way and score points by killing that unit while also preventing them from scoring points. Worried about getting Detailed Scan? See if your opponent declares Flags, and choose those two commanders as your targets!
There are lots of hidden synergies and counterplays available in the objective selection process, so give them a go and see how they align with your forces and your playstyle!
Building Your Force With Objectives in Mind
Since there is a clear benefit to having flexibility in objectives. If your force is all fire support role combat groups, you will be locked in to trying to table the enemy. Similarly you might lean heavily into Recon only to find your opponent brought a mere two commanders and now locks you out of victory points. When building a list it is a good idea to take multiple kinds of combat groups and have a clear idea of how they might achieve each other’s objectives. For example, two fast moving SK and RC combat groups might be able to both score Break the Line and Capture, leaving you flexibility for whoever makes it across the table.
Another consideration is having access to opponent neutral objectives. That is building your plan around taking only objectives that don’t require your opponent’s input. Detailed Scan, Assassinate, and Wipe Them Out all require you to do something to enemy models. When your forces hit the table you might find that a hard climb given the matchup. Our meta has landed on always bringing a General Purpose Squad, even if it’s just a few infantry models, just for access to Hold and now Flags. Of course, a small unit like that is also easy pickings for Pave the Way and Assassinate, so there is a cost.
It’s always worth considering during list building how your forces will work together to get the job done. Try out a few different builds and see what’s best for your tactics and play style.
The next time you head to your favorite social media platform to share a Heavy Gear Blitz! list with your friends, consider including an explanation of what objectives you’ll choose and what units in your list you’ll accomplish those objectives with! It’ll make you a better player and I bet it’ll result in a more fruitful discussion of your list and any improvements your friends might suggest. Even if it’s perfect as-is, your friends will get to marvel at your tactical acumen in marrying objective selection and projected execution on the table!