There have been a number of philosophical design points that are apparent to a person picking up heavy Gear for the first time and one. A clear one is that you pay more Treat Points Value (TV) for a model with better weapons and attribute scores.
The one thing we don't do in the Force lists is tell you exactly what to put on the table to make your army a real force on the tabletop that is more than the sum or its parts.
There are some basic concepts and synergies that you the player can use right away to get the most value out of the TV that you are paying to select your forces. A really important fact to remember is that there are specialists and there are generalists and then there are the lowly trooper Gears that form the backbone to many forces.
When talking about force construction I like to first determine how many trooper gears I'm going ot have and how I'm going to distribute them in my force.
One Hunter gear is pretty good for 6TV. It has a light auto cannon, a light anti-vehicle rocket pack, a light vibro knife, and a light panzerfaust. It's the go to workhorse of the North Force.
So why not build a force entirely out of Hunters? This, of course, is the question. Apart from the lack of spicy variety there are a couple of good reasons why not.
First, a Hunter is a basic chassis. You get the ubiquitous Arms trait and that's about that. It's great value because it only has one role – putting a warm body on the front line to ensure you don't get overwhelmed. In a pinch it is pretty good at tank hunting with the Panzerfausts but it cannot protect itself with Electronic Counter Measures cover mods, you need a Gear with an ECM trait for that, and it can't effectively go toe to toe with anything bigger than a Black Mamba or Black Adder without being seriously outclassed at range. In other words a Hunter doesn't synergize with anything, it supports them by being a cheap line holder and sold body for the points.
A clear Hunter buddy is a Cheap ECM gear. A Cheetah is great for this since it can easily keep pace with the Hunters and is quite survivable itself. Plus in a pinch it can do double duty as a decent observer for indirect fire or guided missile attacks. A could of Hunters with a Cheetah in support is going to have a solid presence on the board for multiple rounds and has the ability to move to whatever is their most effective range depending on their opponent.
Another problem for the all Hunter Force is the tank. Tanks should be an easy problem for the Hunters to fix with their vibro blades and panzerfausts but in reality that tank is going to be back using its big guns to strike at range while there are other models ready to punish the Hunters if they try to rush the tank. In this case a nice Strider like the Mammoth is perfect. It will not only attract a lot of attention away from the Hunters by being the more immediate threat. It can also effectively duel with a tank at range where the Hunters would be largely ineffective.
A real synergy is the obvious observer/support combination where a heavy model, be it a support tank or a vehicle parks itself and goes for an indirect fire attack or guided attack to ignore cover. The only downside to the synergy is that when using that recon model to be an observer it can't be contributing to the defense of the models around it. This leads to either purchasing another recon model to protect the first or using other models to clear the space around the first.
Possibly the best use of cheap but effective models like a Hunter is to use the I got your back rule (See 5.3a) to get additional shots at a model targeting a friendly model. The only criteria is that they have to be in formation with the model being attacked and even a target with Armor of 7 or greater is going to think twice about using a re-roll on the opposed attack roll when there is the possibility that they might need it for defense.
As a designer it is my hope that see three types of armies in regular use: Armies with a lot of basic trooper gears like Hunters, Armies that have a mix of Hunters and specialists, and armies that eschew the Hunters entirely. My goal is that all three types of force are playable, challenging, and fun to use.
Until next time,