by Tim Bancroft & Rick Priestley
One of the more useful weapons in an Antares infantry squad is the Micro-X Launcher. It can be used overhead (OH) like a hand-portable grenade launcher with several different types of ammunition, or can be used in a direct fire mode like a short range mag gun. Given it is a standard weapon, it can also be used in the Point Blank Shooting phase of Assaults, prior to hand-to-hand combat.
It’s available to troops in several lists including the Algoryn, Freeborn and the Ghar Battle Group 9 Veterans. Because micro-X launchers are so flexible, it is hardly surprising that mix-ups crop up from time to time, so we thought we’d run through them and explain how they work. First off, the stats:
|Direct||20||30||–||1×SV1||–||Optionally: as Slingnet (+1 pin on target unit in not heavily armoured)|
|Overload||20||30||–||1×SV3||–||Inaccurate (Algoryn, primarily)|
|Overhead||(10)20||30||50||1×SV0||–||OH; EITHER: Blast D4, No Cover; OR Slingnet (+1 pin on units hit)|
The micro-X has two main modes of firing: direct or overhead. In direct fire mode, and providing the army has access to them, it can also fire special munitions such as slingnet or overload.
When firing direct, the micro-X has the same range as a mag repeater. When doing so, it can use its normal ammunition like a short range mag gun (SV 1). More usefully, in Algoryn armies the grenadiers are given Overload ammo that they can use instead; whilst cumbersome and having a hellish recoil (Inaccurate, meaning -1 Acc), overload is useful against Ghar battlesuits and even the lighter vehicles. In Freeborn armies, domari are given slingnet munitions, a munition that is highly applicable to low-damage, shipboard use.
When firing overhead, the micro-X has a longer maximum range, about the same as a plasma carbine, but has a 10″ minimum range, like other OH weapons. However, in such a mode it suffers the -1 for shooting OH and cannot get the +1 for a Fire order (p.29) – the shooter has to draw their own LoS or can use the unit’s spotter buddy (see below). The micro-X can use both slingnet and its normal blast ammunition OH, providing it has been equipped with such, of course.
In either OH or Direct fire mode, every micro-X in a squad has to use the same mode but does not have to use the same type of ammunition. That means that in a squad armed with two micro-X, one micro-X could use slingnet OH and the other micro-X could use its normal Blast D4 ammunition in OH mode. In such a case, the template would have to be used twice, once for each overhead shot (Slingnet and Blast)!
This flexibility makes the micro-X deadly.
LoS and Targets
Like every other weapon in a unit, micro-X’s have to shoot at the same target as the rest of the unit. From our perspective, the rest of the unit has to shoot at the same target as the micro-X. That means that, irrespective of the unit having a general LoS to the target, the model carrying the micro-X has to have clear LoS from itself to part of, or a member of, the target unit. This is exactly the same as every other infantry weapon.
That means that in direct fire mode you cannot hide and protect a micro-X launcher in the back rank of a unit: the operator must still get a clear LoS to their target and must have that gap to see through like every other weapon. Even in OH mode, the launcher’s model must still have a clear LoS to its target except that if the unit has a Spotter buddy with clear LoS to the target, the micro-X can shoot OH even though the model itself has no LoS (see below). This is the same as normal weapons but also includes the OH shooting benefits from spotters.
If it has no LoS to the target, a micro-X can shoot but only in overhead mode and must use the ‘Blind Fire’ rules – still at the same target as the rest of the unit. In such a case, the unit has to be on a Fire order just like any other OH weapon firing blind.
Micro-X and Spotter Drones
The micro-X can use a spotter buddy like the rest of the unit and in OH mode like other OH weapons.
More? This means that not only can the micro-X use spotter buddies for rerolls, remembering that it is only one shot from the whole unit that is rerolled, but that the micro-X can also use the spotter to establish LoS. This means that even if the model carrying the micro-X has no LoS to the unit’s target, it can still fire OH as normal using the spotter as for any other OH weapon.
An importaant distinction is that whether or not a micro-x user has a spotter with LoS, they still can’t fire in direct mode if they do not have LoS.
There is another upside, here as OH Patch Sighting comes into effect. This means that the shooting model can patch through its spotter drone to another friendly spotter buddy or scout probe within 20″: if either of those has LoS to the target, then their LoS can be used instead.
All of a sudden, a major benefit of Down, camo-screened AI Infiltrator squads becomes clear: its spotters. When an Infiltrator squad with one or two spotters and camo drone gets into position, it can patch through all the dual-micro-X armed AI squads just over the other side of the hill: a nasty potential barrage, indeed!
We’ve mentioned this but it’s worth repeating. When shooting overhead and whether using slingnet or ordinary blast ammo, the micro-X uses the blast template like any other overhead weapon. This means it diverges, as normal, so on a miss it moves a number of inches shown on the to-hit dice and in the direction the dice points. Hits from blast templates might affect models that are otherwise could not normally be hit due to intervening terrainso some players prefer allocating them to other models to minimise the number of hits on each model.
Similarly, a target that would normally cause rerolls does not do so to the OH shot but halves the damage dealt, instead.
An interesting twist with slingnet and shooting overhead is that if the template happens to land on two units then both get two pins: 1 for being hit and +1 for the slingnet, providing they aren’t Heavily Armoured, of course. This is a slight variation on the normal rule that means a unit only receives a pin if it is allocated a hit.
Note that the Blast template is only used with overhead shooting with ammunition like blast and slingnet (or with suspensor net ammunition from X-launchers and such). The template is NOT used in direct fire mode.
Point Blank Shooting
A micro-X can be used in PBS like any other standard weapon. However, in such a situation it can only use direct fire mode. This means it could be used for slingnet (useful in PBS) or could be used like a mag gun at short range. The reason a micro-X cannot be used OH in PBS is that the range for PBS is, well, point blank and well within the minimum range for OH fire.
What makes the micro-X so potent and sometimes confusing is its flexibility and adaptability. However, with or without the special ammunition, its OH fire mode, spotter use and patch sighting make it an incredibly useful addition to a unit. The standard AI plastic sprue comes with a pair of micro-x’s and the domari sprue also incudes a micro-x. Whilst micro-x’s can be replaced with mag weapons, it’s worth taking all the micro-x’s you can even in enclosed spaces as they often have special munitions that extend their sqaud’s flexibility.