Friday, November 27, 2009

Basic Infantry Types for Future War Commander

Now for a quick break from the Colombian-Venezuelan brouhaha. Not to worry: Colombia’s OoB and TO&E is coming soon. This week, however, I’m in São Paulo and without access to my normal net provider. I’m thus only able to write stuff from memory and/or imagination. Luckily, I brought along my copy of FWC for between-gigs lulz, so here I am, typing out this article.

One of the things Future War Commander lacks is a generic listing of infantry-type units. Each list provided by the book is well enough, but units differ from list to list and, in some cases, it’s unclear what, exactly, is being modeled. Furthermore, the worst criticisms of the book to date have to do with the fact that the differences in technology level are not distinct enough in terms of unit capacities.

With these issues in mind, I offer up a brief description of infantry types by tech level. Basically, each tech level introduces a new style of infantry and several subsidiary types. These are as follows:

Primitive Tech
This is basically a tech level more-or-less around what we currently have on planet earth. Perhaps a wee bit more advanced. Infantry are armed with weapons which throw slugs driven by chemical reactions (i.e. gunpowder or similarly exploding materials). They are equipped with helmets and maybe torso armor which is designed to stop shrapnel and low-velocity projectiles. They are supported my heavy slug-throwers and conventional mortars. All of these weapons are effective against other infantry but have very limited use against even lightly armored targets. (However, all infantry are assumed to be equipped with rocket-propelled grenades and thus have an anti-armor value at short range )The principal anti-armor weapon is the dedicated anti-tank missile. These are smart missiles, but their warheads are light and have little to no anti-infantry capacity. Drones and robots fly over the battlefield and deliver attacks in a manner indistinguishable from airpower. Primitive tech units include:

Heavy Slugthrowers
Light Mortars
Heavy Mortars

Here is a typical Primitive Tech Infantry Battalion (495 points):
   1 HQ CV8                            60
   2 x Scouts                             60
   6 x Infantry                            90
   3 x Infantry w/Smart Missiles 120
   2 x Heavy Slug Throwers      100
   1 x Heavy Mortar                  65

Contemporary Tech (Basic Future War Commander)
This is the default tech level for FWC. Infantry are now armed with magnetic induction slugthrowers and magnetically propelled grenades which have a short-ranged but significant anti-armor capacity. Infantry are equipped with light but full body armor, which gives them a limited save value. They are supported by “smart” gauss guns or light energy weapons and fire-and-forget multiple rocket launchers (which generally replace mortars). These weapons are effective against infantry and armored targets. The principal anti-armor weapon continues to be the smart missile, but warheads are heavier and thee missiles have extended range. Robots begin to be used on the battlefield itself, the two most common uses for these being cheap remote-controlled static defensive emplacements and reconnaissance units. Some artillery units are also now effectively robotically controlled, but they function for all intents and purposes as regular artillery. Contemporary Tech units include:

Armored Infantry
Light Gauss Gun
Light Energy Cannon
Support Rockets
Recon drone
Sentry cannon

Here is a typical Conventional Tech Infantry Battalion (720 points):
    1 HQ CV8                                          60
    1 x Recon Drone                                 45
    9 x Armored Infantry                            225
    3 x Armored Infantry w/Smart Missiles 210
    2 x Light Gauss Gun                             90
    1 x Support Rockets                            90

High Tech
At this tech level, the distinction between infantry and light vehicles becomes academic, at best. Infantry is now equipped with fully armored and powered exoskeletons and the average soldier stands some 3-4 meters tall and can sustain a 20kph run, fully loaded, for hours on end. The basic hand weapon of the foot-soldier is an energy weapon of some sort, powerful enough to punch through even heavy armor at short range. Smart missiles now have greatly improved range. Heavy support weapons include portable missile systems with variable warheads (good against both infantry and armoured targets)and heavy energy cannon, as well as light support walkers. Infantry may also be equipped with special equipment, such as jump packs (which allow them to fly over brief distances), recon suites (which turn them into recon units) and fire control equipment (which permits them to direct the fire of other units’ smart missiles). At this tech level, robotic combatants finally come into widespread and a variety of drones are used on the battlefield. Any unit can be designated as robotic by applying the “robotic” characteristic to it (see below). The Artificial Intelligence suite upgrade allows any unit to be turned into a self-commanding unit. AIs are expensive, however, and these are generally reserved for massive units. High Tech units include:

Power Armor
Heavy Energy Cannon
Missile Launcher
Light Support Walker
Jump Pack upgrade
Recon suite upgrade
AI upgrade
Fire Control suite upgrade (directs smart missiles and can be used to spot for InfantryMissile Launchers)

Here is a typical High Tech Infantry Battalion (1495 points):
   1 HQ CV9 90
   1 x Power Armor w/recce suite and jump pack 105
   6 x Power Armor 360
   3 x Power Armor w/Smart Missiles 360
   3 x Light Support Walkers 240
   2 x Missile Launchers 240
   1 x Power Armor w/Fire Control Suite 100

Any unit may be declared to be robotic. Robotic units may only be controlled by robotic headquarters (which may not control non-robotic units) and use the Cyborg Tactical doctrine rules on page 54.Obviously, the rules regarding breakpoint only apply to robotic units. Regular units are affected by robotic losses as per normal. All robotic units under a headquarters’ control, excluding suppressed and transported units, must carry out the same order. (Sentry Cannons and Recon Drones, by the way, are not considered to be robotic).

Using infantry in your games
It would be an error to presume that just because a new technology level is reached, older technologies disappear. In my Arcadian campaign, for example, all three kinds of infantry are available to combatants.

Regular, unarmored infantry is generally citizen militia or corporate security forces and these units, as a rule, drive to battle in APCs or IFVs. Armored infantry represents regular troops of the main noble houses or corporate commando forces. Meanwhile, the Terran World Authority infantry units, as well as the various elite corps of the noble houses are equipped with up-to-date galactic technology and are fully power-armored. Not all galactic powers use the best available tech either. The Siliaz Hegemony, for example, prefers cybernetic power armor.