Ah, ye old art of concealment! It’s been an essential part of warfare for millennia. 170+ years in the future, it’s more relevant than ever! In the world of Infinity, the Camouflage game mechanic serves as an abstraction for everything from the lowest tech grease paint and ghillie suit to the most advanced thermoptic adaptive systems.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that Camouflage is also the most powerful and disruptive mechanic in the game. Hopefully, by the end of this article, I’ll have convinced you of that. To start, let’s talk about what the mechanic even does!
What is Camouflage?
Let’s start with the basics. The Camouflage mechanic in Infinity is actually several things: there’s the Camouflage skill which grants the ability to enter the Camouflage state during deployment and during the game. The Camouflage state allows you to represent the trooper as a Camouflage marker on the table. Confused yet?
Yeah. There’s a lot going on here, and we haven’t even talked about the skills that typically accompany the Camouflage skill on a model’s profile like Mimetism, Stealth, and Surprise Attack!
For now, to keep things as simple as possible, let’s just focus on the Camouflage state, which is the interesting one. The only thing you need to remember about the skill is that it lets you be in the state. Got it? Good.
Part of the reason why the Camouflage state is so complicated is that it introduces a number of exceptions to the base rules, which can be very confusing. If it helps you to develop your mental model, pretty much all of these exceptions arise because troopers in the Camouflage state are represented as markers, not models. It is a different thing on the table than a model, so it behaves differently!
Here’s a list of the ways the marker itself differs from a model:
- Can’t Touch It – You cannot enter silhouette contact with an enemy camouflage marker — meaning you can’t stab it. And before you tell me that Guard will work…
- Can’t Shoot It – You cannot declare an attack against a camouflage marker, unless otherwise specified (yeah, exceptions to the exceptions!).
- It Sees You! – Camouflage markers have 360 degree LoF, meaning it sees in all directions, so no sneaking up on it!
- It Has Secrets! – Unless the model represented by the marker has been previously revealed, the details of its profile are secret. You get to know the silhouette of the model, i.e. you know how big it is, and you also get to know if it has Mimetism as well as the level (0, -3, of -6). You also know what combat group the marker belongs to. Decoys copy the stats and combat group of the original model.
The AROs you can declare are limited as well! You can only declare:
- Discover – That marker is sus.
- Dodge – Get away from me!
- Look Out! – Everyone else, get away from it!
- Reset – Nuuuu not the 1337 h4xx! Also useful if you’ve been hacked and your opponent forgets that your model can see their camo token moving around.
You can, however, choose to delay declaring an ARO against a Camouflage Marker. After your opponent activates their Camouflage marker and declares their first short skill (and assuming whatever that skill is doesn’t cancel the Camouflage state and thereby force them to replace the marker with a model), you can wait to see what the second skill is before declaring your ARO.
This sounds great, right? There’s a catch—if your opponent’s second skill declaration doesn’t cancel the Camouflage state, then you’ve wasted your opportunity to ARO! This is potentially a big deal, as it may allow the Camouflage marker to move behind you and cause some serious problems. I’ll talk more about the strategies and decisions in a moment.
Why is Camouflage (good)?
So why do you want to use Camouflage? There are lots of reasons, because Camouflage offers lots of utility! Let’s break it up into three main reasons:
- Defensive – The Camouflage state can’t be interacted with in the normal ways when defending, so you’re mostly safe from getting shot, at least until your opponent expends some resources.
- Offensive – Camouflage offers you lots of offensive opportunities to improve positioning, dice odds, or outright get unopposed shots due to positioning.
- Utility – It’s just plain useful! Improving your positioning can often let you get to an objective safely, or just bypass a dangerous ARO. The state also lets you play a shell game and hide information from your opponent, at least for a little while.
Let’s break each of these things down in more detail.
Okay, first off, Camouflage isn’t an invincibility shield. Your objective defensively is to overload your opponent with bad choices and drain as many orders as you can. To achieve that, let’s talk about what your opponent can do to a model in Camouflage state:
- Discover – If an opponent declares Discover as a short skill or ARO and passes a WIP roll, you are revealed. If they fail, the declaring model can’t try again until the next turn!
- Intuitive Attack – If equipped with the right weapon, e.g. a Chain Rifle, your opponent can make a WIP roll against you as an attack, which would oppose any action you take like return fire or dodging.
- Collateral Damage – Any template that hits a non-marker trooper that also hits a Camouflage marker will cancel the camouflage state and potentially do damage to the trooper in the Marker state.
You can control your opponent’s ability to do any of these things with positioning, especially the latter two, and you should. Given that your objective is to drain your opponent’s orders, don’t give them order efficiency by putting your Camouflage Markers within template range of each other or within a non-marker-state model! That will allow your opponent to either intuitive attack or land a template to cover multiple things and get a 2-for-1 special!
Your opponent landing a template on a non-marker model that also covers your Camouflage marker will generally force a dodge for you, depending on the situation. You may want to sacrifice either the visible model or the camouflaged trooper to take a shot back, especially if you have your own template, but you’ll have to make that decision based on the the following factors:
- Orders Left – If your opponent is low on or out of orders, the risk of continued destruction is lower. In this case it’s probably okay to dodge.
- Multiple Wounds – If your targeted units have multiple wounds and there’s no chance of taking multiple wounds from the template, i.e. single hit, no fire, not a missile launcher, etc., you could consider taking the hit on your armor (or BTS).
- High ARM/BTS – If you think you can tank the hit on your defensive stat, you can always gamble!
So in summary, if you take a template hit and you think you can either tank the hit on wounds or armor and have a good chance of killing the attacking model, go ahead and fire back. If you think you can dodge and then figure out a way to get rid of the model on your next turn and your turn is coming up, go for the dodge.
It gets more complicated if your opponent did an Intuitive Attack, because that forces a face to face roll against your dodge. In that case, you might want to fire back if you think you have better odds, like you have a shotgun or a good BS stat. Lots to think about, but remember you’re just trying to drain orders and hopefully keep your models alive. Whatever is the most efficient way to achieve that goal. It might be to kill the attacking model to stop further damage, or it might be to just force that model to fire chain rifles at models with high PH while they dodge. One thing to note is that you can’t get into silhouette contact with a Camouflage marker, so anyone wanting to CC attack you will have to discover you first.
Discover is a different beast entirely. All it requires is LoF, whereas most template attacks require the attacking model to be close (exceptions are things like grenade, rocket, and missile launchers, and the dreaded plasma weapons). You generally want to avoid positioning things that would allow a circular template to cover multiple models, so hopefully you won’t be in that position!
If your opponent is declaring Discover in their active turn, that usually means that you intentionally left a camo marker out for them to see or they’ve maneuvered in such a way that they can see something. In both cases, this probably means that you’re draining orders properly. Either they had to move to get something in view, or you left something out to encourage them to Discover. Discover is also no longer a valid skill to declare during an Impetuous order, so warbands won’t get “free” Discovers anymore on their first order.
Generally, you won’t plan on having a model move into view and then Discover you–it’s hard to set that up and to encourage your opponent to do so. I’m talking about your opponent marching a model all the way into the midfield and then walking around a corner to Discover, not poking into a firelane to see a marker you have standing on a roof or something. If your opponent spends a lot of movement, that’s generally good for you–they’re only advancing one thing (or a link, which creates more attack avenues for you) and they’re choosing to stop and deal with something. Hopefully the exchange works out for you, but this again is just a case of “how do I make things more annoying?”
Let’s look at the other case. You have a marker watching a firelane, which you intentionally put there. There are a couple of cases:
- Second Skill Move – Your opponent has declared two movement skills and on the second movement is now in view of your marker.
- First Skill Move – Your opponent has declared a movement skill, and is now in view of your marker.
- First Skill Discover – Your opponent is already in view, and is declaring “Discover,” most likely following it up with attack.
Depending on what is under the marker and your intent for it, I’m generally of the opinion that you should in most cases force your opponent to perform a successful discover. Generally, your opponent will be WIP 13 or so, and with cover, that puts them at 50% chance of succeeding on the discover. If you also have Mimetism (and most things with Camouflage do) that further decreases those odds, especially for Mimetism -6. If your opponent fails the discover, they cannot try again with that model that turn, which is amazing for you. They can still try with another model, but now you’re forcing them to bring another model into position to try again, which means you’re draining orders and being annoying, which is exactly what you should be doing.
Let’s go through the options.
- Second Skill Move – This is bait. Whatever your opponent threw out in front of you is likely either A) going to survive what you do to it or B) a sacrificial lamb. They are trying to get you to break your camo state and are willing to risk something for you to do so. Look around the table. Is there anything else on the table that can threaten your Camouflaged marker? Perhaps another marker on their side of the table or appropriately ranged weapon a short skill move away from being in LoF of your marker? Unless your model is durable and you expect it to survive a few orders of concerted effort to kill it, I’d say keeping marker state is better.
- First Skill Move – Force the discover. They’re trying to get some order efficiency here by encouraging you to reveal. This is especially the case if the thing they revealed is likely to kill you, like a HMG or equivalent. There is a slight risk here, especially if a second move will allow them to cross a narrow firelane and get to safety, but in general, you want to drain their orders. Best case scenario, they fail the discover and they have to try again with a different model, which may ruin everything. Worst case scenario, they discover successfully, and now you can shoot back on their next order.
- First Skill Discover – This is the tough one. It really depends on what the specific matchup is. If you think they have a low chance of success at the discover, you may want to take the chance that they fail. If they have a high chance of success or you have a good chance of succeeding in your ARO, you may want to reveal! It also depends on what is under your marker. If it’s a throwaway unit, like a Daylami, you may want to let them have the free shot if they succeed, it’s not a big deal if you lose it, and they’re still wasting orders.
Regarding the last option, there is a Discover+Attack option. The intent is to allow you to declare an Discover and then an attack on the model hidden by Camouflage. This is to allow you to declare an attack that would otherwise be illegal. If the Discover is successful or the model reveals itself, the attack is resolved. If the Discover fails, then the attack is canceled. Note that the Attack need not be declared against the target of the Discover, and that you can also split burst to include both the Discover target and other targets.
So, in summary, defensively you just want to drain as many orders as possible and make things difficult. That’s what you should be optimizing for. Just remember that killing something also drains orders on subsequent turns. If you want some easy rules to follow, always forcing the discover is generally a good rule to follow, and as you develop in your playstyle you can add exceptions as you see fit.
Now for the fun stuff. Offensively, Camouflage is very powerful. When it’s your active turn and you’re activating a Camouflage marker, there are very few options available to your opponents in terms of legal AROs:
- Discover – They can try to break your Camouflage.
- Dodge – They can hide from you, get free movement, or try to move into a more annoying spot.
- Look Out! – You can have other troopers declare dodge in place AROs, so they can turn to face the threat.
- Reset – Generally this would be used to get out of some sort of status effect for free.
You can also Delay against a Camouflage marker. This is a double-edged sword, because you are allowed to wait till the Camouflage marker declares its second short skill. If you’re reasonably certain that the marker is going to reveal itself and attack you, declaring that you will Delay is a good idea, as it will let you have complete information. You’ll know the trooper as well as the weapon or equipment they’re using to attack your model and then be able to respond the most appropriately.
However, if the model does not reveal itself on its second short skill, e.g. it continues moving, you will have forfeited your opportunity to do anything. If only one model is capable of seeing the marker, this choice can often be difficult! If multiple models can draw LoF, then having some models declare discover while the others Delay is generally a good plan.
You can “telegraph” an attack by pushing your camo marker into view and in cover. Hopefully your opponent will delay, and then you can move to safety. And herein lies the real power of Camouflage in the active turn: there is almost nothing your opponent can do that will deny you the ability to move your full movement safely. They may successfully discover you, but you will only be visible on the next order, so you are entirely safe for this one.
As always, there is an important exception: mines. If a mine catches a Camouflage marker in its trigger area, it will go off and potentially kill a marker! To prevent shenanigans, you can only place a mine that would affect a Camouflage marker if you succeed at an Intuitive Attack, but that only matters at time of placement. You can avoid this restriction if there are other legal targets for the mine at time of placement, so this is yet another reason to be careful of putting visible troopers in template range of your markers!
In your active turn, all this means is that you should give all suspicious enemy Camouflage markers a greater than 8″ berth, to avoid getting hit by a mine. Unless you’re very very sure that it’s not a mine.
Offensive Camouflage is all about leveraging the ability to move without being attacked, for at least your whole movement. The ideal scenarios are either you:
- Move in front of a single trooper who discovers you, at which point you can just shoot them, unopposed, with a normal roll.
- Move in front of multiple troopers, who all delay, at which point you can just keep moving with impunity.
If a single trooper delays against you, as a trooper with the Camouflage skill you likely also have access to the Surprise Attack and Mimetism skills. Depending on the rating of those skills, e.g. -3 or -6, with cover and range modifiers you could even apply a -12 penalty to your opponent’s reaction if you reveal. If your intent is to open fire with the model, opposing a single trooper in a face to face roll is probably fine.
The issue is when you have multiple troopers in sight and the declarations are mixed. The most common case is a disposable trooper like a messenger remote, aka a flash pulse bot, declares discover while the more powerful trooper (usually with a real gun) delays. In this case the decision is more complex. If your intent is to attack the delaying trooper, then it’s business as usual. Start blasting! If you’re trying to move somewhere, then do that.
Basically, if you’re exposing your model to some number of your opponent’s models, then be prepared to take multiple AROs and have a plan for the various possible combinations of delay and discover. You only really have one full movement of “invincibility” so if you’re trying to get somewhere, so don’t try to cross a 12” gap or something. If your opponent makes what I would consider a mistake and doesn’t discover with something, you can get multiple moves safely.
So, why move?
- Attack – By moving, you can possibly get your target out of cover or be behind them entirely and deny them the ability to shoot back.
- Defense – This is more of a rare case for Camouflage. You generally don’t want to grant a discover if you’re just trying to move back into a safe spot, but sometimes you’ve over-extended something important (like a Camouflage Lieutenant) and you’re willing to spend a few extra orders entering the camo state, walking away, and then re-entering Camouflage if you got discovered.
- Objectives – Infinity is generally a game of interacting with objectives, which you have to get to. The most efficient way to get there is to just spend all of your short skills on movement, and Camouflage lets you do that.
In summary, for the Offensive uses for Camouflage, you’re basically trying to leverage your ability to move and or stack negative modifiers against your opponent. You have a lot of capabilities, but be very careful as Dodge is now significantly more powerful in N4 than it was in N3.
If you grant a Dodge ARO to an enemy trooper, they can move into a very inopportune place for you! As an example, you may want to plant a mine near an enemy and then come around the corner to force bad decisions on them. However, now they can dodge into line of fire of you as an ARO to the mine placement, which ruins all your plans.
We’ve already talked about how to use Camouflage to gain the ability to more or less move freely through contested areas. This will let you shift models into various areas in an area control mission, get models to objectives, etc. So, as a quick summary:
- Movement – As we described earlier, you can move about the table with some freedom of movement to get better positioning to attack or to get an objective.
- Obfuscation – If you haven’t previously revealed your trooper under the marker, your opponent doesn’t know what it is. That lets you surprise them with some gear or tricks, or just force them to over-invest in putting points into an area to control as they don’t know how many points you’ve moved in.
There are also a number of things you can do like include a camo token in a coordinated order, which may force your opponent to declare AROs against visible models as opposed to a camo token.
From a perspective of utility, getting you to an objective safely is the primary benefit here, and we’ve talked about how best to approach that already. Note that you can also re-enter the Camouflage state as a coordinated order, which may help you protect your own troops before the end of your turn.
How to (deal with) Camouflage?
I think the above discussion should prepare you to deal with a handful of Camouflage troopers, but what if you’re standing across the table from a vanilla Ariadna player? Ariadna players can, without expending any real mental effort, take an all Camouflage list that will be quite effective on the table. There are certainly other factions that can do similar things, but the same ideas apply.
So, if you’re faced with Camouflage spam, what do you do?
- Play the Objective – First off, remember that the goals for defensive use of Camouflage were to drain as many orders from your opponents as possible! Don’t fall into the trap! If the mission isn’t a mission focused on killing, just work on the objectives.
- Use Your Camouflage – If your opponent pops camouflage to Discover you on your turn, hey, that’s great! You can get to the objectives, do your business, and get out.
- Ignore the Camo – Your objective is to get the job done. If you have to shoot your way through Camouflage troopers as they reveal themselves, so be it. The danger here is camo troopers with missile launchers and the like catching your link team in an explosion, or catching you out cover, etc. Heavily armored or multiwound troops not in a link team are excellent for this job.
- Use Sensor
- Discover Bonus – Sensor gives you a +6 bonus to your discover roll against Camouflage markers. This is a passive benefit, and works for free whenever you declare the Discover skill. Make sure you’re aware of what models your opponent has with sensor when you’re moving your models too!
- Sensor Skill – The skill allows you to make a roll at WIP +6, which will reveal all Camouflage troopers (and hidden deployment troopers) in your Zone of Control. Typically you could only reveal troopers in your Line of Fire and only one at a time with Discover, but Sensor allows you to reveal multiple models from out of Line of Fire! This can help offset the order drain of having to move to LoF and Discover one model at a time.
- Deny Recamouflage – If an enemy is in ZoC of a model with Sensor, they cannot regain the Camoflage state. This reduces the utility of your opponent’s camouflage, even if all it does is force them to move away from you before re-entering camouflage.
You’ll find your own balance of how to deal with Camouflage, and you’ll start to be able to read your regular opponents to see if they’re bluffing you with a Decoy camouflage marker. Orders are the main resource of the game, and Camouflage drains them. Play carefully, only invest as much as you need to, and if you can ignore the threats your opponent presents and still achieve your aims, do so!
At the beginning of this article, I wrote that Camouflage was the strongest mechanic in the game. Hopefully I’ve convinced you, but if I haven’t, let me take a step away from Infinity and into interactions in gaming in general.
Camouflage as a mechanic introduces non-interactivity into the game, which for a game like Infinity, where “it’s always your turn,” is quite disruptive. Normally, my defense against your troopers that are moving up the table to attack me is to shoot at you, but I can’t do that anymore. I’m now faced with a choice of waiting for you to do something, or letting you shoot at me for free, which is somewhat of a non-choice for me, as both are bad.
So now, my way of interacting with your model isn’t there anymore, and you’re more or less free to move about and do what you like. In my active turn, you can just sit there and not declare any AROs as I move around in front of your camouflage markers. You force me to spend my resources to interact with you by discovering or sensoring you first, which are rolls that I can fail. I think we’ve all had a game or two where you’ve thrown 2-3 maybe even 4-5 discovers at a marker, all of which have failed.
In other words, Camouflage breaks all the normal game mechanics of Infinity and forces your opponent into bad decisions (which cost resources) to interact with you. This is similar to having hexproof or protection from in Magic the Gathering, or being out of range in other games, etc.–basically anything that renders your agency impotent.
In Infinity, you can regain agency, but it costs orders and mental reserves. You have to have the right tools in the list to help you, the orders to get the tools to the right place to declare the right skills, and the presence of mind to be able to execute your plan on the table. Don’t let your opponent lead you around by the nose with their camouflage, just play to your objectives and get the job done. If you have some Sensor on the table, that wouldn’t hurt either!