A fairly distinctive feature of TOI is the option to choose between either normal fire (i.e. “ going for the kill”) or suppressive fire, which affects a targeted squad’s morale, if successful. But when do you go for which type? Please keep in mind that the points presented below are general guidelines. There may well be very specific situations which may overrule them.

First of all, a very useful rule of thumb would be to simply look at the odds to hit: simply look at the number of dice you would throw (often the same regardless of the attack type, though, with the very notable exception of mortar attacks!) and, more commonly, the number of red defence dice the defender would be entitled to roll. While most terrain types, obstacles, fortifications etc. will grant the same amount of cover regardless of attack type, squad composition (see “normal fire”) and e.g. a medic specialization token as well as certain strategy and operation cards, may well affect the number of cover dice rolled. Needless to say, very often the preferred type of attack should simply be the one that grants the defender the least cover dice.

However, unfortunately- or should I say “Thank God”?- things aren’t always that simple. After all, if it were, I wouldn’t be submitting this article (-;

Suppressive fire

In my humble opinion, normal fire is always a good idea, but sometimes suppressive fire is better. In the following situations, geneRally speaking, suppressive fire should be used:
  1. If you want to stop a fresh enemy squad from activating (pinned or disrupted squads can do very little, though they can still be used to spot for artillery cards/ mortars etc.)
  2. If you want to stop an enemy unit from being able to complete an assault, move and fire or move action. Note that you must have (a) unit(s) in op fire mode to be able to do so.
  3. If your opponent’s squad has, say, 3 figures remaining but is already disrupted. To eliminate the squad with normal fire you would have to score at least three hits, whereas a single suppressive hit would result in the enemy squad routing, which is, for all intents and purposes, the same as being destroyed (this example also applies to the above squad being pinned; to kill it with normal fire would again require three hits; turning its pinned status to disrupted, just one.)
  4. If your opponent is about to score victory points by either moving off the map [ quite a few scenarios work that way] and/or claiming an objective hex. If you can pin such a squad, it cannot move [any further] (see 1 and 2 above).
  5. When you have a double mortar squad (a very common squad composition; though often after a squad transfer) it’s often best to use suppressive fire as it allows you to throw a whopping 8 dice; arguably the most powerful attack in the game! (Note, however, that currently, with the exception of the US M10 tank destroyer, all vehicles are immune to suppressive fire, which only leaves you with the option of using a normal attack). If the target hex contains both vehicles and squads, the type of attack would normally depend on the odds of damaging the vehicle(s) and/or how badly you want to suppress the squad(s) in the hex.
  6. To take an enemy unit (often MG's) out of op fire mode: a squad that is in op fire mode and is pinned [or disrupted] is immediately fatigued. This makes moving your own units around the board a lot safer (-;
  7. To set up for an assault (see tactics article "the Beauty of Assaults"): Pinned squads only defend at half firepower against an assault and disrupted ones cannot defend at all. Note, though that if these enemy units have substantially more cover against suppressive attacks, of course simply weakening these squads by using normal fire may-depending on the exact situation-also be a very suitable option!
However, in certain situations it’s usually better to stick to normal fire:

Normal fire

  1. If an opponent’s squad contains an officer. One of the officer’s special abilities is “Rally”. It entails that rather than the normal downgrading of a disrupted token to pinned in the status phase (which renders the squad in question as good as useless for an additional game round, as explained above), a disrupted token is immediately removed. Especially if the odds of actually affecting such a squad with suppressive fire are poor (i.e. because you only have one or two attacks to accomplish this or the squad has extra cover against suppressive attacks (see “3” below), it’s often better to simply weaken it by using normal fire.
  2. Another officer’s ability is that it provides +1 cover (not cumulative with other officers) to each squad in the hex when targeted by suppressive fire. While that +1 may not necessarily make a world of difference, if combined with “3” below, it may definitely shift the balance in favour of choosing to make a normal attack instead.
  3. If the targeted squad(s) are heavy on elites. While each elite figure in a squad adds +1 cover in case of suppressive fire, it is just as vulnerable to normal fire as a regular!
  4. When the, often used “Desperate defenders” and/or “No surrender” operation cards are in play. These greatly reduce the effectiveness of suppressive attacks. Note, however, that situations may well arise in which, despite it being more difficult to pin/disrupt squads benefitting from these op cards, suppressive fire may yet be called for (see suppressive fire above).
  5. When the squad targeted is already fatigued. As the squad won't be activated anymore this round, pinning it will make little sense. The minimal result you'd need is a disruption to have a longer lasting effect (also see above, though, regarding officers and elites).This may often prove difficult, especially if you have few attacks left (which should often be the case anyway when you decide to target already fatigued squads, as otherwise fresh enemy squads should usually be the preferred targets, but that's another article...). Weakening the squad and thereby its attack strength by normal attack is therefore usually the better option.
Two final notes:
  • Combined fire and opportunity fire (“op fire”) are also either normal or suppressive in nature. The former simply entails using more than one friendly unit while performing a concentrated fire action, whereas the latter is the only type of fire that allows you to react to enemy movement during your opponent’s action turn. Opportunity fire may also be combined (i.e. more than one unit may do so at a time).
  • Assaults are ALWAYS considered to be normal attacks.
I hope you've enjoyed this article and that it will help you appreciate TOI even more.

Off-topic: TOI is a much deeper game than many give it credit for, I believe. Though it's perfectly enjoyable as a beer and pretzels game, it can also present serious tactical challenges for those willing and able to see them.

Happy gaming!
Log in to comment