If you read forums, blogs, and watch videos you will find that overwhelmingly people believe that infantry are in fact useless.
This is not the case.
The reason why people believe this is because of a match between Tigga and Fiva55 at the Wargame Cup. Tigga was regarded as the favorite to win the whole thing with only a hand full of players even near his skill level. Fiva55 seemingly came out of nowhere and blind sided him with a infantry heavy rush with some helos and some vehicles.
The infantry were absolutely crushing and at first people were angry and felt this was a weak tactic that is easily counterable. However after Fiva55 used infantry to win the next 7 games and eventually the finals these infantry heavy approaches grew to dominate the game.
So when people say infantry suck in Wargame: AirLand Battle it is under the context that infantry were the most powerful unit in Wargame: European Escalation.
Basically in a Wargame a unit must trade for cost with its counter, but a large number of its counters should be able to take one of it out.
This just so happens to be how Wargame: AirLand Battle works. Infantry will counter most things in close quarters, however if there is a far higher supply of the counter sitting around, infantry will get torn assunder.
So what use is infantry?
General purpose infantry are those that run around with 1-2 assault rifles and an RPG. These bad boys when in close range can deal with nearly every single unit in the game at cost.
I should note, at cost.
Because these units are generalists they do not have that habit of getting insanely high trades.
When placed in buildings they gain a bonus to defensive stats that make them very tanky and hard to remove. In close quarters they can trade at about a rate of 2:1. This means if you have 4 motostrelki (60 points) they should be able to destroy an Abrams tank (135 points).
But the further you get away from this ratio the more massively destroyed these general purpose infantry become.
General purpose infantry have a few functions on the battlefield.
The first is frontline securing. You cannot just rush your tanks forward so having these warriors run forward and take forests and towns becomes very valuable. They are often in jungles wiping out anti-air and anti-tank weapons.
A second use is to act as a shield for weaker infantry types, more on this later.
A third use is for spotting various paths. Sometimes they can be placed in buildings just to spot for a flanking manuever. A 10 point general purpose infantry will easily pay itself off if you are covering the whole map in vision.
Flamethrower infantry are sometimes referred to as anti-infantry infantry (AI Infantry). These are used for destroying infantry. They have a secondary function in that fire causes high morale damage so on weaker vehicles and tanks they can cause vehicle malfunctions and retreats.
Flamethrower infantry however are primarily used against infantry. Because of this they die very easily to everything and should never be at the front line.
Flamethrower infantry can be used in towns. Towns are collections of buildings usually at very important locations. A flamethrower infantry would sit behind a general purpose infantry (where it is protected) and if the enemy engages with infantry the flamethrowers can be moved in to mow down your opponent.
This micro based approach means that flamethrowers are not about holding a position but about being mobile and being active on the map.
A second function for flamethrowers is to lead the way through the jungle.
Generally speaking people will have infantry in forests. By having flamethrowers lead the way they can clear out the forests so that you can place your own anti-air and anti-tank weapons in those woods.
Flamethrowers have a limited range of what they can do, but what they do they do the best.
Your anti-tank teams do the same thing as anti-tank vehicles.
The difference is that AT teams are very difficult to see in woods and can be used to ambush enemy tanks.
As well when placed in towns and buildings AT teams become more tanky and able to take hits, AT vehicles on the other hand will die much faster.
AT teams compared to most infantry soak up a lot of supply and sometimes it might not be worthwhile to resupply them.
Anti-tank teams are also well deployed in forward forest locations overlooking large open areas.
Once again AT teams have limited uses, but the places where they operate they do the best.
Anti-air teams are clearly the one infantry that isn’t the best. Quite the opposite… they’re the worst.
Their missiles have a lower average range than others.
Their secondary weapons do not shoot up.
They cost a lot of supply to maintain.
They are, awful.
So what are they used for?
A typical anti-air team cost 10 points. On larger maps this means you can spread out these cheap infantry to cover a large range against helicopters and jets. They are not your main guys but since the are very stealthy they can get into places that might be riskier to move a Marder Roland or a Tunguska.
Overall you will only use these to fill in the blanks.
AA teams are more valuable for the next selection.
Very few great players will have a tonne of vehicles in their decks. This is because infantry come in vehicles.
Vehicle selection is important. AA and AT benefit very heavily from expensive vehicles with rockets or tank destroyers mounted on them. This allows for cheap AT solutions.
Flamethrowers and general purpose infantry however do not value these expensive vehicles so much. Most of these favor the 1-point vehicles that act as only carriers or lightly armed vehicles for a little bit of ground support.
Overwhelmingly a lot of your infantry choices will come down to what vehicles you will get if you choose that infantry.
At the end of the day the biggest strength of the infantry is the thing that drops them off.
Hope this guide was helpful and enjoy the game.