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 dire 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 as an upgrade in several lists including the Algoryn, various Freeborn lists and the Ghar Rebels. But, because micro-X launchers are so flexible, it is hardly surprising that mix-ups crop up from time to time. As a result, we thought we’d run through them and explain how they work in the different modes, from Line-of-Sight (LoS) onwards.
It’s a good idea to look at the rules on p.71 for the Micro-X itself, p.87 for Slingnet ammo, p.89 for Overload ammo, p.114 for Spotter drones and OH Patch Sighting and for the OH shooting rules have a look through p.33 onwards. We’ve also gone into depth on OH fire on another Antares Insight post.
Mixing it with Modes
The micro-X has two main modes of firing: direct or overhead.
When firing direct, the micro-X has the same range as a mag repeater. When doing so, however, it can use its normal ammunition, somewhat like a short range mag gun (SV 1). Alternatively, if so equipped, the micro-X can used Overload ammo in direct fire mode, something that can be useful given its strike value of 3, though it can run dry (see p.89). What’s more, the micro-X can fire slingnet in direct fire mode just like an X-sling.
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 -2 for shooting OH and cannot get the +1 for a Fire order (p.29). 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, there is nothing to say every micro-X in a squad has to use the same type of ammunition. That means that in a squad armed with two micro-X and one X-sling, the X-sling could fire Overload, one micro-X could use Slingnet and the other micro-X could use its normal Blast D4 ammunition. 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 drone 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 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. This is covered for all OH weapons on p.36 (RHS, paragraphs 3 and 4).
Micro-X and Spotter Drones
The micro-X can use a spotter drone 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 drones 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. However, whether or not it has a spotter, it still can’t fire in direct mode if the model has no 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 drone 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, the use of AI Infiltrator squads becomes clear: its pair of 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 it 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 1d5″ (1d10″ on an Advance) in a random direction, +1″ per pin on the shooting unit and -1″ per Targeter Probe on the target unit. As ever, it is best to allocate hits from blast templates first as these have to be applied to specific models and might affect models that are otherwise could not normally be hit due to intervening terrain (see p.34, and it’s worth noting that the micro-X’s OH Blast ignores Cover bonuses, anyway). Similarly, a target that would normally cause rerolls does not do so to the OH shot but halves the damage dealt, instead (p.35).
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 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 only 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 10″ 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 mag launcher and the squad is able to take another – something that is worth serious thought as it gives huge flexibility to the unit. Other squads can also take micro-X’s as free upgrades, notably the Freeborn Feral and Domari units. The latter, however, are possibly more useful as they can also take a spotter, just like the AI.