Each week in Back to Basic we will take a deep dive into one particular facet of Heavy Gear Blitz! We will explain how the rules work, give play examples, and offer some dirty tricks for more advanced play. If you have a question or a suggestion for a future topic feel free to send me a message.
Present Arms: A Balanced Blitz Force
Last week we talked about how to build Primary Units and Support Units, the building blocks of any Heavy Gear Blitz! Force. This week we are going to get a bit further out into the canyons on the topic. There are two basic ways you can try and build a force for any wargame. Balanced, a force that with redundancy and ability to deal with multiple types of situations and Skew, a force that is strongly aimed towards one tactic or exploit. Were talking about balance today.
But before we do that, let’s talk about one important way that will help you balance the units you want to bring with the mission you will need to accomplish: Upgrades.
Upgrades let you add weapons or equipment to models in a Primary Unit (not Support Units). A list in section A2.2 gives a full load out of what you can purchase but essentially these are things like anti armor gear (hand grenades, shaped explosives, panzerfausts) Anti-Air upgrades to existing weapons, drones, or command staff.
You can also upgrade one Unit per force to Veterans for 2 points a model which grants them a skill point and allows them to buy veteran upgrades. Veterans and Command Staff are special enough to be their own topics, so we won’t get into them here.
Unit Upgrades are a great way to deal with your weaknesses, specialize a unit, or give yourself some redundancies. Three options leap to mind here:
- Anti-Air costs one point and lets you upgrade any AC, RC, LC, or ATM to have the Anti-Air Trait. ATM’s also become SAM of the same type.
- Hand Grenades are blast weapons, which means they always have at least 1D to attack and they have high PEN which means even a single success can threaten most medium and high armor targets.
- Smoke allows a unit to spend an action to place a 4” area of obscurement around them. This can give you some help against direct fire weapons when you need to break cover and take ground.
Covering Your Bases: What Every Force Should Have
So what do you need to bring to any given game? Let’s start with offense. You need a way to kill:
- Armor 9+
Infantry are the easiest of these to deal with. Most Gears in the polar factions come with some form of anti infantry solution, normally an APGL. If you find that your particular build doesn’t have anything with the AI trait, then it might be worth adding hand grenades to any units you expect to be taking objectives. Usually you will find infantry standing in rough ground to control and objective, so it is scoring units that benefit most from Anti-Infantry weapons.
Aircraft can be controlled for with a AA upgrade to one of your units. You will want to do this on a model that can easily get to a good position on the board to hunt VTOLS, or have high enough armor to avoid being taken out by them on turn one.
Finally, High Armor is worth talking about in detail especially because it is a learning curve for most new players.
The function of high armor (9+) is to make most weapons in the game useless. For example, if you are trying to damage a basic Strider or Medium Tank with an Medium Auto-cannon you will need an MoS of 4 just to do a single point of damage. There are two work-arounds for this: AP and High PEN.
When an AP weapon fails to break armor, it does a minimum of 1 point of damage per MoS of the hit, up to a max of the level of AP. So for example say you get a an MoS of 2 with a Light PZ against an Armor 9 hover tank. Normally your total PEN would be 8 (6 PEN + MoS 2) and you would do no damage. Because of AP 2 however, you instead do 2 points. If you had hit the same tank with a MAC you would have only done a glancing hit, and at best, 1 point of damage. You can also quickly tell from this example that AP falls off in effectiveness after AP3 Since it is rare that you will not do damage in the first place with it. Thus you want to do AP hits en-mass and bring down heavy vehicles with a thousand cuts.
This should also be instructional as to why high damage is so important. It is OK to have medium pen weapons in your force, but bringing a three or four with high PEN really makes it easier to deal with armor skews. There are some long winded math reasons for this, but a good stand by is to try and have access to PEN 9 weapons.
Failing this, your options are to get in the back arc (especially deadly against tanks), plink things to death with AP, or outlast your opponent and win on objectives.
Dirty Tricks: Unit Activation Control
Now that we have talked about what you want to bring, we will close with a good dirty trick: order of activation. In a game of HG Blitz you and your opponent trade off activating one Primary Unit (and it’s Support Unit) at a time. You MUST activate a unit when it is your turn to do so, but sometimes you will want to avoid sticking your head out of cover until after your enemy’s scary stuff has already gone. A good way to do this is with either multiple small Primary Units or a “slush” unit.
- Small Primary Units can let you do things with less risk to the main body of your force.
- However, they can have trouble killing any threat they have exposed themselves to and can suffer from a counter attack.
- Additionally, they benefit less from Orders since these affect the whole unit.
Another strategy is the Slush unit. This is a very cheap unit you have for a specific purpose not related to your other strategies. Examples would be:
- 4 Basic Trooper Heavy Gears.
- Cheap recon models good at hiding or able to assist with long range sniping.
- Infantry who are just there to stand on an objective or crowd your DZ.
My favorite Northern Guard slush unit is a PU of 4 infantry, two with mortars. It comes in at 10 points which is pretty affordable. I put the mortars in behind heavy solid cover and close to unwatched parts of my DZ to prevent air drop (since air dropping units need to be placed at least 6” from any enemy and the other foot-sloggers either on an objective, or close to the board edge where they can prevent Flank maneuvers (which, like AD, must stay outside of 6” of an enemy model. By keeping them spread out on four points in the field, they are hard to remove, so I will almost always have a unit activation to burn when I need it, and usually have a unit to contest an objective late game or contribute a little fire with a long range mortar shot. It’s worth noting that paratroopers or stealth teams can serve the same function, but do so with more risk or higher costs.
That’s all for this week! Check back next week when our topic will be Cover.