Bringing Light to the Shadows – Dealing with Camo in Vanilla Haqqislam

Hi all, in the first of what hopefully becomes a series of tactics and strategy articles I take a crack at discussing a topic that has been something on my mind for a while, and that is the issue of dealing with camo.  Being originally a Haqqislam player (and still one, but not longer a purist), I decided to take a look at the topic from a Haqqislam player’s perspective, although a lot of the advise here will transfer over to other factions as well.

Overview

It is a commonly held view that camouflage and Thermo Optic (TO) camouflage are powerful skills that can be difficult to deal with, especially when taken in multiples, or taken with a large order pool to provide a lot of resources to put into using those models. First, for all purposes “camo” will refer to both regular and TO camo in the following paragraphs. To define some terms, there are several different styles in which you may face camo models in an opponent’s list; each one changes some of the considerations and choices you may make when designing a list or developing your tactics to neutralize them.

First, we have the situation where your opponent will bring one or two TO or camo models (or a mix) as part of a balanced force. There isn’t much particularly notable about playing against camo in such a situation, the basic tools and answers work and can be utilized in a largely straightforward manner. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have to have an answer for that pesky TO sniper on top of a building, or the camo infiltrating specialist that is going to grab all the objectives. You still need to have a plan and tools available, however it is simpler to deal with.

Second, we have the situation where your opponent will take a significant number of camo/TO models. As to what significant means, it is subjective, however I would start to consider any number of camo markers five or greater to qualify. Many people will classify this style of list as “camo spam,” I prefer the term “camo skew” as it has less negative connotations and more accurately describes the list archetype. There are several sub varieties of this type of list, as you can have a list with many camo infiltrating specialist models, or a bunch of camo support/heavy weapons worker models, or a mix of both. Regardless of subtype, the goal of a camo skewed list is to overload on the skill so that you an opponent who brings a limited number of answers to camo is unable to efficiently and effectively deal with all of the threats, and thus is forced to spend additional orders and engage on subpar terms, ceding the tempo and advantage in the game to the original player.

Third, we have a list archetype that strictly is unrelated to camo, and that is a list with a higher order count. Sometimes referred to as “order spam,” I will again refer to this archetype as an “order skewed” list.  As to what constitutes a high enough order count to be considered an order skew, again the answer is subjective, but I would define any list with 15+ orders to qualify, with potentially lower numbers qualifying depending on faction (e.g. an Aleph or Combined Army list with 14 orders probably fits the description as well). You very, very often will see order skewed lists also skewing for camo models as well (but not always, see NCA, QK, ISS, etc. for examples of effective order skew lists that do not necessarily need to contain much, if any camo). Thus, when considering how to deal with camo skewed lists, it is important to understand they will likely also contain a significant amount of orders as well.

 

Common “Anti-Camo” Tools

Across the factions, here is a list of tools (i.e. weapons, equipment, and skills) that can be effective against camo models.

  • MSV 1, 2, & 3 (MSV 1 is limited by smoke, which can be seen in camo skewed lists – particularly ariadna)
    • Allows you to reduce/remove penalties for discovering and shooting at camo models. Levels 1 and 2 are much more effective in the active turn, as in the reactive turn you still receive the -3 modifier from surprise shot.
  • Direct Template Weapons
    • Note, fire is often thought of as a great anti camo ammunition. It is really good…to a degree. Direct template fire is usually better than ranged fire (rocket launchers) because you do not suffer the camo penalties for the direct template. Fire is great because it stops the ability to recamo, which can be really annoying to deal with. That said, it does not remove mimetism, so if your opponent’s model has done what it needs to do, then you hit it with fire (and it survives), the loss of recamoing is not always that bad for the opponent. Fire is much more impressive against TO camo, as it not only prevents recamoing for TO, but reduces the negative modifier down from -6 to a more reasonable -3. The majority of camo models are lightly armored with 1 wound, so will often die if hit by fire anyway, so in that sense fire is only situationally better than other direct templates.
  • Sixth Sense Level 2 (level 1 as well, but much more limited in use)
    • Ignoring surprise shot modifier limits the offensive capabilities of camo models
  • Link Team Bonuses (irrelevant for Vanilla Haqq)
    • +1 burst, Sixth Sense level 2 and a +3 to discover mod, and + 3 ballistic skill go a long way to neutralizing any advantage a camo model has in a firefight vs. a link team. However, important to understand that link teams are still vulnerable to some of the weapons and equipment (direct templates, mines, shotguns) that you often see on camo models.
    • It is also important to understand that discovering camo models 1 by 1, even with the + 3 link team mod, is still often highly inefficient.
  • Deployables (e.g. mines)
    • Mines are a huge issue for most camo models as their strengths are their mobility and freedom to move around the board. Mines restrict that, as do other forms of board control.
  • Sensor
    • One of the other best tools in the game against camo. Particularly critical in matchups against camo + order skewed lists that will have a lot of camo markers, often midfield, that are extremely inefficient to discover 1 by 1. Sensor is so important against these kinds of lists that a good player will attempt to take out the sensor model ASAP almost regardless of the sacrifice, so make sure your sensor model is well hidden or protected.
  • Reactive Turn Camo models
    • This is actually a pretty significant one that is often overlooked. A camo model in the reactive turn that receives an ARO from a camo model activating in the active turn can choose to delay it’s ARO declaration, just as any other model. If the active turn model chooses to move again, or do anything else that does not reveal it, nothing happens. However, if the active turn camo model does reveal itself, for example to shoot at another model, it IMMEDIATELY must split its burst between targets. Since that decision occurs before AROs are declared, a camo model in the reactive turn will still be camo at the time the burst of the shoot skill is assigned and thus is not a valid target. Then, after the burst is assigned, the reactive model gets its ARO to the now revealed camo marker and can shoot at it as normal. This is a difficult interaction to understand, given that it appears to violate the typical “all actions in an order are simultaneous” structure that exists in Infinity. What this means is that by placing your own camo models so that they share LOF to other non camo models that you want to defend against your opponent’s camo, you present your opponent with a difficult choice: take the fight and risk a normal roll against their camo, or be forced to engage at a different angle or range band that is subpar or less efficient for them.

The keys to having a solid, dependable answer to camo, and more specifically camo skewed and camo + order skewed lists, are redundancy of tools, variety of tools, and knowledge of effective tactics. Bringing an MSV2 troop in your list can be effective vs. a camo model, but it will be of little help if you are facing multiple camo models, or if you do not adequately position and protect your MSV trooper so that they are able to do what they are supposed to do. Thus, having a redundancy of answers is key, as more answers means that you are better able to adapt if your opponent is able to take out one of your key anti-camo models. Variety is important as each of the answers to camo is an imperfect counter, meaning that it is not 100% effective and not always equally effective in different scenarios. An excellent example of this is MSV. It is great if you are able to engage multiple camo models that have revealed at range, however in close or when forced to spend multiple orders discovering models, MSV is often inefficient and at high risk to taking a direct template, mine, or other

 

 

Haqqislam – Anti-Camo Tools and Tactics

So given these general answers, how does Generic Haqqislam deal with camo?

There are a number of answers that the faction has. The four best answers are Djanbazan, cheap warband troops (Kum, Muttawi’ah), rafiq remotes, and cheap models with shotguns. The last point is important, as the majority of Haqqislam profiles are equipped with the versatile rifle + light shotgun. Bringing multiple models with this combination is an excellent tool for Haqqislam in the camo matchup, as shotguns can reduce or eliminate the modifier advantage that camo models protect themselves with, and with good tactical play, can allow you to engage multiple camo models with a single model without being force to discover them all 1 by 1. With the right angles, all you need to do is discover 1 camo marker and you can potentially hit 2 or more with the teardrop template from the shotgun.

Cheap Warband Troops

one of the strongest answers to camo. Since they are often as cheap as or significantly cheaper than the camo models they are hunting, they are expendable and can be traded in an exchange for 1 or more of your opponent’s camo models. This is perfectly exemplified by the dogged special skill on both mutts and kum, which allows them to take a single hit from most weapons getting into position, then keep going and sacrifice themselves to get a nice template or shotgun blast down on several opposing camo models before being removed from the table. Additionally, with both Kum bikers (and associated character Kum) and Mutts (who are technically not warband troops, but for all purposes they act the same as one) you have high to extreme mobility with impetuous orders and the 8-6 mov of the bikers. This allows them to get into position quickly and efficiently with minimal expenditure of your order pool. The Kum additionally come with smoke, which is highly effective vs. most camo armies (beware intruders) as camo models do not have MSV2 (again – except intruders) and many of the armies that field significant amounts of camo will not have access to MSV 2 in the list (one more time – watch those darn Nomads with their intruders).

MSV

A solid, simple answer to camo, MSV can be very valuable, although I do not believe it is necessary to bring to deal with camo. Options such as warband troops and sensor can be sufficient. That said, if I am bringing options such as the Kum bikers, or a Fiday (who leaves Bourak without a fiday), both of which come with their own smoke, I will almost always bring along a Djanbazan with support weapon as well. The smoke + MSV combo is very strong against all armies, not just camo skewed armies, and it provides an additional tool in the list to deal with camo, thus building up both our variety and redundancy.  In vanilla Haqq I am much less inclined to bring a Govad (they can be cool in HB), as for the few extra points you get so much more with the Djanbazan.

Sensor

The Rafiq is almost an auto include in any list I make in Haqqislam these days, simply because a 6-4 forward observer is amazing for ITS objectives. In a list geared towards fighting camo, I would say the rafiq becomes even more of an auto include (Mega super auto include?). It is Haqqislam’s only option for sensor, and sadly is only ava 1, so it needs to be protected very well. It can certainly win you the game, especially against lists with truly outrageous numbers of camo markers on the board. Important to note that sensor is the ONLY way to deal with the strategy of leaving TO specialist models in hidden deployment next to an objective until the end of the game and ninja’ing that last order flip to secure the game.

Camo models

We have some great, relatively cheap camo models that can be excellent deterrents to enemy camo. Specifically, the hunzakut and Al’Hawwa. While the Taureg is an excellent, amazing model, it is a bit too expensive and fragile to be effective against camo. What is excellent about both the hunzakut and Al’Hawwa is that not only can they utilize the Camo v. Camo trick I explained above to force free shots against an active turn opposing camo model that reveals itself, but they come with shotguns…so in their good range they are getting that +6, so even if the camo model is in cover they are both looking at 11’s to hit, which is decent odds for a free shot, which often outweigh the risk of revealing themselves. Another option to keep in mind with cheap camo models (or Fidays) is that they can still be used aggressively, even against camo skewed armies. Most forces will have at least some non-camo models, whether they are cheerleaders hiding in the back to provide orders, a LT, or additional specialist models. There should almost always be a target for your camo/impersonation models to hunt. Even better, in the process of going after your opponent’s non-camo models, you present them with the difficult question of revealing to try to protect their other models but risking themselves, or giving you free shots at their backline.

Mines/Deployables

The Fiday, Hunzakut, and Muyib Minelayer are Haqqislam’s main options for mines. Other profiles such as the taureg or sniper Hawwa have them, but they are somewhat less relevant in the specific matchup v. camo. Taureg can be utilized similarly to the hunzakut, they just require much more care and protection to avoid getting hit by enemy mines or templates. Placing a mine while there is a camo marker in its zone of activation requires a long skill, intuitive attack. Luckily for us, Haqqislam comes standard with that super sweet WIP 14 (or 15 with the fiday and taureg) which means we can quite reliably pop those mines around corners.

Jammer

Allah’s gift to the faithful and his glorious wrath against the camo infidels. The jammer is a unique weapon that appears only on the Ghazi Muttawi’ah. It allows for a zone of control ranged attack that is similar to hacking in many ways, except for it is can target any model in the game. A successful hit inflicted to the enemy causes damage 13 vs. BTS and isolates a target if they fail. It is an amazingly powerful weapon and one of the single scariest things for a camo player to deal with. This is because of a simple entry in the profile of the weapon that is overlooked: the Intuitive Attack trait. The jammer is the ONLY non direct template weapon in the game to date with this trait, and the only weapon that does not require LOF to us/ This means that if you have a Mutt within 8 inches of a camo marker, regardless of LOF, you can spend an entire order skill to attempt to hit your opponent’s camo marker with isolation at a whopping WIP 15! That is a 75% chance to cause Damage 13 BTS and force a roll, which will automatically reveal the camo marker even if they successfully make the roll. In reality, it is almost a 100% chance of revealing the camo marker, as most non-crazy opponents will choose to reset in ARO, revealing themselves but at least making it a face to face roll rather than a normal roll. This is an insanely strong option for Haqqislam in dealing with camo, especially when you consider that the jammer is on a 5pt impetuous model with dogged and who also comes with 2 different direct templates.

Even without intuitive attack, the Jammer is a formidable board control piece in ARO. Although you cannot directly attack a camo marker in ARO with the jammer, as soon as it reveals, if it is within 8 inches it can be hit. This provides a significant amount of board coverage in which it becomes very risky for the opponent’s camo models to enter, especially if you are able to get the mutts up the field tucked away into cover in the midfield.

 

More general tactics

A number of anti-camo tactics have already been mentioned above, such as the reactive turn camo v. camo shenanigans, assassinating the camo players backfield using our own camo/impersonating models, using intuitive attacks. To expand slightly on intuitive attacks, beyond the power of the intuitive jammer attack and intuitive mines around corners, our  direct template models, such as the Kum also can wreck havoc with intuitive attacks, or even just the threat of them. For example, A Kum biker starts the turn about 8 inches away after it’s impetuous order from the corner of a building, behind which are two camo markers. With his irregular order the Kum can move up and potentially peek out beyond the corner of the building, forcing the opponent to decide whether to ARO with any models or not. Likely they will not ARO with the models close by the Kum, as that means they will get hit by a chain rifle with the second skill of the order. They may choose to reveal a model further away to shoot at the kum, but unless it has shock ammo, they need multiple shots to do meaningful damage. On your next order, if the kum is alive it can now hit with an intuitive attack, forcing the opponent to reveal and dodge to avoid the template, or hope that you fail your Wip 14 normal roll. You can go even further with this tactic, using smoke as you advance and moving your Kum biker into LOF but within a smoke template, then using the intuitive attack with the next order to force the same difficult decision from your opponent.

Other tactics include such as the effective use of ARO discover. If you have a model that is able to take a hit, or is far enough away and in cover, and/or have your own mimetism, that the opponent’s camo model can’t effectively shoot at you, you can afford to discover their camo in ARO with much less risk. This forces the opponent to either slow down and move his camo models more cautiously to avoid getting AROs when they are caught in the open, or to be more reckless with their models and open themselves up to potential shots.

Finally, one of the most basic and general tactics, that has been touched upon throughout, is that you want to force your opponent to have to make as many difficult decisions on whether to reveal their camo models in ARO as possible. Usually, the answer is no, but if you can tip the scenario so that you pose a significant threat, or that you have a high odds chance of success, you can really reduce the need to discover models individually by forcing the reveal, and then capitalizing on it by engaging the revealed and now vulnerable camo markers.     

Building a List

So, what does this mean in regards to list construction? First, it is important to consider whether you are playing with ITS rules or not. In ITS, you have access to two lists. This makes stacking answers for camo in one list much more viable, as you can build your other list to be able to handle other threats and situations. This is my preferred method for dealing with camo, bringing one list that brings the variety and redundancy of answers I need (while still being effective vs. lists with less or no camo), while having another list that can take on the rest of the field quite handily.

Let’s look at an example:
Haqqislam

──────────────────────────────────────────────────

 

Group 1   8 / 2 / 1

HAFZA Lieutenant Rifle + Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (16)

DJANBAZAN HMG / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 35)

RAFIQ REMOTE Rifle + Light Shotgun, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (16)

FIDAY Rifle + Light Shotgun, Antipersonnel Mines, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, AP CCW, Knife. (32)

KASYM BEG Chain Rifle, Panzerfaust, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, EXP CCW. (16)

GHULAM Hacker (Hacking Device) Rifle + Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 20)

GHULAM Doctor Plus (MediKit) Rifle + Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (16)

NASMAT Electric Pulse. (3)

HAWWA’ (Forward Observer) Boarding Shotgun, D-Charges / Pistol, Knife. (21)

HUNZAKUT (Forward Observer, Deployable Repeater) Rifle + Light Shotgun, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (18)

KAMEEL (Minesweeper) Electric Pulse. (8)

 

Group 2 5

SHAYTANIYAH REMOTE Smart Missile Launcher / Electric Pulse. (1.5 | 18)

KAMEEL (Minesweeper) Electric Pulse. (8)

GHULAM Doctor Plus (MediKit) Rifle + Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (16)

GHULAM Missile Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 17)

MUTTAWI’AH Chain Rifle, E/Marat, Jammer / Pistol, Knife. (5)

MUTTAWI’AH Chain Rifle, E/Marat, Jammer / Pistol, Knife. (5)

MUTTAWI’AH Chain Rifle, E/Marat, Jammer / Pistol, Knife. (5)

KUM Chain Rifle, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, AP CCW. (10)

ZULEYKA 2 Light Flamethrowers, Smoke Grenades / 2 Breaker Pistols, DA CCW. (14)

 

5 SWC | 299 Points

I like the above list because it has basically all of the tools mentioned above for dealing with camo.

The first thing you will notice in the list is that I opted for an order skew. A lot of the best answers for camo in Haqqislam are the cheap warband troops and direct template weapons (and jammers). Thus, a lot of the time we may be trading 1 for 1 or 1 for 2/3 models with your opponent. By having a lot of orders and models on the board, we get the redundancy to be able to make those trades and come out on top overall. Having the large order pool also helps mitigate the fact that we have a very large number of irregular orders and impetuous orders.

From there, you’ll see that the Muttawi’ah and Kum bikers are there in multiples in order to really offer a lot of versatile and redundant options to get the advantage over camo models. If the opponent takes out a mutt or two on their turn, you still have another left, as well as a couple of bikes ready to zoom over and engage them. The list also has the single sensor, for even more options to reveal multiple camo markers at once. With the impetuous troops and smoke leading the way, the bot can get up the field turn 1 and either discover midfield markers, or hang tight in cover and make a play turn 2 once the opponent has committed more models to the middle of the board.

There is the single Djanbazan HMG in the list that can take advantage from all of the impetuous smoke from the bikes to take out any long ranged threats that the opponent leaves out for AROs. This is almost purely an active turn model, so in the reactive turn it will likely be behind total cover or prone to avoid getting easily removed by an opponent’s attacking pieces.

Additionally, there are a couple of the camo/impersonating models (Al Hawwa, hunzakut, fiday w/ mines) that not only provide some additional board control in the reactive turn, but offer options for active turn board control (mines), attacking the enemy backfield and non camo models, or completing objectives.

The ARO pieces I chose for the list were missile launchers (Ghulam and the Bot) as they are relatively cheap (while being SWC heavy – the list didn’t use SWC much elsewhere), and the template provides some additional board control as it punishes the enemy for deploying models in close proximity to one another and forces them to spread out. The bot serves double duty as if I am able to get a model marked by a forward observer (whether it is unconscious or doesn’t have camo or I simply discover it or it has already revealed), I can then shoot missiles into potentially grouped up enemies, ignoring the penalties for camo. Since a hacker was mandatory to take the bots, I went with a cheap ghulam hacker, who not only is a specialist with a light shotgun (so can deal with camo in a pinch), but also can provided supportware to the missile or sensor bot to make them even more threatening.

Finally, when facing any camo list in an ITS mission, you have to have redundancy and survivability for your specialists, as camo makes it relatively easy for them to take out key specialist models if you leave them at all exposed. With 6 total specialists, 2 being camo and infiltrating, and all of the other support in the list (e.g. smoke), there are a lot of options to take objectives as needed.

 

Conclusions

Overall, there are a lot of awesome options Haqqislam has when dealing with camo models and camo skewed lists. The tools we have are not always the most easily applied (e.g. Aquila Guard or Asura), but they are powerful and effective when used correctly. Must like the search for knowledge, the path is often windy and full of footfalls, but stay true and you will reach the truth. Having redundancy and a variety of tools, as well as effective use of tactics are the keys to defeating and overcoming the camo that you face on the table.

Comment here or message me at infinityaro@gmail.com if you have any questions, corrections, or feedback, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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