Back to Basic: Present Arms!

Back to Basic, Heavy Gear

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  • Infantry
  • Aircraft
  • 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.

Cracking Armor

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.


Back to Basic: Form Up!

Back to Basic, Heavy Gear

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.

Form Up: Building Your Heavy Gear Blitz! Force

This being the first week of Back to Basic, it seemed best to start and the beginning and talk about organizing your force for Heavy Gear Blitz! This article will be split into two parts, but after reading it you should have a better idea of how to construct a force.

Army construction in most miniatures wargames usually forms a tacit “Strategic Phase” of the battle. And like most games, while it isn’t really possible to win the game during army construction, it is certainly possible to lose it. We will talk about some basics to avoid a bad list in part two, but for now let’s get to the basics.

The T.O. And E: Units and UA

Your army is made up of a number of Primary Units and their attached Support Units. You can have as many or as few Primary Units as you have points for. We will get more into the specifics of how many units to bring next week. For this week we are focusing on the bog simple basics.

A Primary Unit is a group of coordinated models, you can think of it as a Squad or Combat Group, a small unit that deployed together. The first step to making a Primary Unit is choosing its number of Actions. You can chose any amount between 4 through 6, and do note you are choosing actions not models. This means that in a 6 action unit you can have 6 one action models, 3 two action models, or a combination of them equaling 6 actions total. Units must follow this structure:

  • All models must share the the same UA classification.
  • You cannot have more than 2 of any particular variant. (so you can have 6 kinds of Hunter, but only 2 Hunter Gunners)
  • Models that share the chosen UA that also have the (CMD) classification can only be selected by a unit Commander or upgrade officer such as a 2iC or XO.

Special Case: Sometimes a UA will have a (0+) after it. This means the profile is a basic trooper and you can have as many of that model in a unit as you wish.

There are other options such as veteran units or generic upgrades, but for now we are just looking at the basics.

Example Unit: Here is an example of a six action Strike squad to take ground and hunt a wide variety of units. All the models in this unit must share the Strike (or SK) UA. I have started with the Combat Group Leader (you can think of her as the squad Sergeant). She is using an Arrow Jaguar with the Thunder upgrade (since it is only available to the Commander). To deal with infantry and provide a few small AP shots, I have added two Hunter UC, models that share the SK UA of the Arrow Jaguar. Then, to round out the squad I am adding three stock Jaguars. The Jaguar profile has a UA of SK (0+) meaning that in a Strike unit they are stock models and I can select more than two of them for the unit.

Special UAs: Recon and Other Special Deployment

If a unit is chosen with the RC (recon) it can use special deployment rules found in 15.4 allowing them to get a free move before the game, or to arrive from the board edge on turn two. This is not the only way to access these rules, but it is one that offers wide unit options.

Another thing to consider when building your forces is that if models share certain traits (Stealth, Air Drop, or Amphibious) they can unlock special deployment options.

Support Units: A Little Help From My Friends

Now for the fun stuff. You may have noticed that it’s hard to work in certain UA types especially in smaller point games where you can’t bring a whole boat load of tanks. That is where Support Unit’s come in.

Each Primary Unit can choose to add Support Unit (or SU) of 1-2 actions. A Support Unit:

  • Can be a different UA than the Primary Unit.
  • Can use special deployment rules allowed by their UA type or profile.
  • Can’t have any Upgrades unless they are an Army’s Duelist.
  • Activate at the same time as the Primary Unit and can make use of any Orders the Primary Unit receives

So say you have the Strike unit we listed above and want to add something to support it: a heavy hitting artillery gear the Rabid Grizzly. Normally you couldn’t since the Rabid Grizzly is has a UA of FS (or Fire Support). However you can add a Support Unit to your Primary Unit. You can use the UA of FS on that Support Unit and have the Grizzly too. Essentially the gear has been added to their detail by command for this mission even though it normally wouldn’t be part of their operations.

Dirty Tricks:

Here are a couple of dirty tricks to keep in mind for Support Units:

  • An SU is an easy way to add ECM or Artillery to a unit that doesn’t have any good options in their normal UA
  • RC units or profiles with Stealth are a good choice for a SU because they can use their Ranger movement to get a free move after deployment to claim a little ground and cover your advance
  • It’s also a good way to get spotters for indirect fire weapons. Cheap units with TD can be sent out without risking a Primary Unit of heavy weapons
  • Likewise, if you want to bring an off board artillery piece, or only own one tank and want to field it, this is the way to do it.
  • If you are feeling lucky you can buy 1-2 actions worth of Air Drop units. When they arrive they will have to use a drop commander leadership of 6, but if you can make the roll it can really catch an opponent by surprise.

The Deadliest SU: Duelists

Finally, a single SU of one model can be upgraded to a Duelist for 2 points. This elite pilot comes with a skill point and can purchase special upgrades from the Duelist list to make them more of a terror. The Duelist still keeps the UA and any special deployment options of the support unit, so Recon, paratrooper, or even amphibious duelists are legal and scary.

That’s it for this week. Next week we will talk about some tips for building a force, what to prep for, and what not to do.