Dungeons and Dragon lady.

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It’s nice sometimes to take a break from all the soldiers and killing to paint a fashionable civilian. The Dragon Lady – Imperial Service Judge, was no exception. She hits the seen with a parasol, some manner of neotenous, porciform animal companion and a qípáo inspired extreme double split midi dress that puts her on par with Asuka  for the most pervy Infinity figure I’ve painted.

It was a comfortable model to paint, although on closer inspection you will find  the floral design is a crude imitation. It really felt small compared to the Su-Jian that preceded her in the queue, but the actual surfaces you have to work with are, for the most part, quite large. The red dress, the skin and the parasol. Only the spokes of the parasol really felt like a chore. The red was done with a mix of mainly GW Mechrite Red with some Blood Red Thrown in, highlighted with the same mix plus some bleached bone. The skin was done with a far out of date bargain bin dropper of Vallejo Bronze Skin Tone I bought randomly, shaded with Vallejo Cavalry Brown. The Parasol skin is Vallejo German Cam Beige (This colour has really grown in favour with me and cops a hiding on my Tohaa). Hair was done with Vallejo Scurvy Green, and highlited with the same plus Bleached Bone.

The animal companion, hereafter refered as Zhū-zhū, was basecoated in German Cam Beige and shaded with whatever black I had diluted on hand. After shading, I did the Ribbon in GW Warlock Purple and then GW Tentacle Pink. I then lightened most of the Zhū-zhū’s skin with Vallejo Deck Tan, leaving some conspicuous dark patches in an attempt to give the mottled appearance of a pig’s skin. Zhū-zhūs eyeballs were painted white with CW Ceramite White (AKA brushkiller) and then shaded with a highly diluted GW Enchanted Blue. Pupils were added with black.

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As far as I know, the only instance of the Dragon Lady’s  fluff bio is buried deep in the news pages of the Infinity Website, so I thought I’d wrap up by posting it here in case anyone is curious.

Imperial Service judges are high-ranking functionaries in service of the Emperor with an authority that inspires a great deal of reverence and dread. As such, they enjoy a social standing and influence comparable to that of mid- to high-ranking Party officials.

Most judges cultivate personal and professional connections to either of the two dynasties of the Imperial System. Hexahedron analysts have coined a codeword, ‘Dragon Lord’, for the small subset of judges who have consolidated most of the power around themselves via their position at the High Courts or their familial or political ties to the Imperial System.

You’re a firework.

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Since they were first teased last year, at Gencon I think, I have been salivating at the prospect of there one day being Yànhuǒ Invincibles in my collection. Whilst it was the HRMC profile that raised eyebrows, being I think the third sighting of the weapon in game, and the first not attached to a TAG, the 2x Missile Launcher variant was bestowed upon us first. Sometimes overlooked due to it’s  comparatively low B value, rare indeed are profiles with the potential to cause more than 6 wounds with one short skill. If it ever happens in game I will be sure to make a post.

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Visually, it’s a stunning sculpt to behold. I had always wanted a centrepiece unit for the collection and this definitely looks the part. I can only imagine how dangerous Nomad Geckos must feel in your hand. I’m also very happy to start seeing the future Invincible Army Sectorial taking shape.

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When I painted the Hac Tao, I felt like I was painting  a big model. When I painted the Yànhuǒ, I felt like I was painting a small statue. I primed and painted him all in one piece, but looking back I wish I did the backpack assembly with the weapons as a separate bit. I managed not to snap them off but it was quite fiddly working around the launchers and by the end of it I was so fed up with them that I rushed highlighting on them. Other than that you get some lovely smooth surfaces that even an amateur like me could get a good finish on. That said, for the time being I am too chicken to put the freehand green markings on it. Besides, while the number of models for the Invincible Army is small, I’d rather he look coherent with the Zúyǒng. When they release more Yànhuǒ models, I will hopefully be skilled enough to pull it off.

As I do with almost all models, I painted this one section by section. I find this gets me more excited for the finished model and keeps me motivated. It also skips that pit where the unfinished model looks worse than it did with just the primer.

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Being such a big model, it naturally took longer to finish, but I also never got a decent stretch of time with him and basically had to fit in a quick session wherever I could. Not my favourite way to paint for sure but it did mean more WIP shots to share than normal. In the following photo you can see the different stages involved. I followed my usual recipe for orange very closely with the exception that I have started highlighting with bleached bone rather than skull white. You can’t really see a difference in the side by side shot of the two Invincibles earlier in the article, it’s just that I have more Bleached Bone left than Skull white at the moment.

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This ought to build the confidence of aspiring painters out there. It’s hard to believe the difference between the crude looking torso and the finished legs is a thin layer of Scrofulous Brown. It truly is the best paint in the world.

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Now let’s look at the name. CB did most of the work for me this time, and a good job at that. From the website:

Any who have seen the Yan Huo Regiment in action, unloading their terrifying firepower, know just how fitting their nickname is. The regiment’s name means “fireworks” in Chinese, written with the characters for “smoke” and “fire” (烟火) although the latter also means “rage, anger”.

…Yep, that about covers it.

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It’s also pretty easy to pronounce compared to some of the other things I’ve written about. “Yàn” rhymes with “Pan”, as in “Pan-Oceania”. The ‘uǒ’ sound  is pronounced as “war”, so just put a ‘h’ in front of “war” without taking anything away and you’ll have “huǒ”.

If you look closely at the characters themselves, you’ll notice some interesting things; The 火/huǒ character for fire is a fairly non abstract (by Chinese Character standards) pictogram of a flame, and that it is also present on the left hand side of the 烟/yàn character for smoke. It turns up in several characters related to fire. You can also see both characters in the logo.

Yan Huo logo

The Walking Dead.

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After painting that Celestial Guard last night I actually got stuck straight into another model, one of the Kuang Shi I bought to justify impulse buying that OOP blister with the the Celestial Guard controller. By the time I finished it though it was to dark for a decent photo so I decided to save the blog post for later.

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It’s a good thing I did get him done last night though, because I actually just used him in a game this afternoon, something that gets discussed frightfully rarely on this blog about gaming. The horror. I hope I never have to face one of these killing machines.

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I painted him from the same pool of colours I always use. The orange was the same method as I used on the Pheasant Agent, whereas the grey shirt was GW Fortress Grey washed with a diluted Abaddon Black. The pants were Castellan Green washed with Abaddon Black.

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The naming of the Kuang Shi seems to have a very similar story to the Hac Tao. “Kuang Shi” doesn’t fit any modern systems of writing Mandarin or Cantonese with Latin characters, however the Kuang Shi spelling is used in an article on the same website as the Hac Tao spelling to describe China’s hopping rendition of zombies.

We can hypothesise that Kuang Shi is an earlier romanisation, most probably of the Cantonese  or something related’s pronunciation, (goeng si/殭屍) since its closer than the Mandarin (jiāng shī/僵尸) and these myths tend to come from the southern provinces.

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Note these are the traditional characters, the ones that appear in the artwork.

Taken individually, the characters mean “stiff” and “corpse” respectively. The classic Chinese zombie doesn’t decay, in a fashion more similar to a vampire. Instead the emphasis is on his rigor mortis to convey his undead nature, leading to his hopping gait. In two separate artworks in the beautiful Human Sphere book, one of which also appears on the box, the Kuang Shi have the characters running vertically down their faces in reverse order, which would normally mean rigor mortis. I dare not attempt to paint them on myself. Getting the unit logo on his back was enough of a challenge!

Kuang Shi Logo

“At my signal, unleash hell.”

Brave, loyal, and trustworthy, the Hac Tao are characterized by their soft and silent moves and are famous for playing very hard. The function of this well trained troop is the interdiction of enemy troops, causing as much damage as possible with their actions….”

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…And boy do they look the part. Isn’t it funny that in a hobby of miniatures, it’s still the big ones that get people excited. I’m not gonna lie, I just love everything about the Hac Tao. His profile, his background, his sculpt, all of it. Even the name sounds cool. I know I say this about everything, but the Hac Tao is one of the units that got me into Infinity. Not this particular one of course, who only exploded onto the scene last month. That honour belongs to this classic.

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Most people, including myself will tell you the HMG profile is the safer option though, and with the unexpected bonus of the Executive Order +  HMG profile from N3, this holds truer than ever. He also scored a nanopulser and a points decrease. Needless to say this guy will be a huge boon to my state troops and nascent White Banner Sectorial Army.

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The grey was a haphazard mix from a pool of Games Workshop Fortress Grey, Skull White and Chaos Black that I dragged the brush through a different way depending on if i was looking to lighten or darken an area. The orange is the usual combo of Vallejo Orange Brown and Scrofulous Brown. I reckon I will be tidying those lines for a couple of weeks though. The muscle fibres are Games Workshop Hawk Turquoise with gradually added Skull White.

Here is a close up of the effect, from when I did the concept limb to test out the scheme.

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There are some peculiarities with the name “Hac Tao” that I wanted to talk about. The design team was very straight forward in explaining what they were going for with the unit name; The unit description on the old website reads:

“The name of the Hac Tao Special Intervention Unit means “Black Tao” or “Black Magic”…”

It’s confusing because “Hac Tao” isn’t really consistent with any current systems for romanising Chinese. A quick search through Google turned up only one use of the “Hac Tao” spelling that wasn’t in relation to Infinity, a page on Encyclopedia Mythica discussing Chinese black magic. The page was created in 1997 and last modified on 2004. Infinity kicked off in 2005 as far as I know so it could have been their source.

From all this we can be very clear that the first character is meant to be “黑“, which means black. In Cantonese, 黑 is usually romanised as “Hak” or “Haak”, which is much closer to “Hac” than the Mandarin “hēi”, pronounced similar to the “hey” you would use to get someone’s attention.

As for Tao, it’s clear from the unit’s description and the big Yin-Yang insignia that this refers to Taoism. “Tao” itself is an early romanisation of 道/Dào, literally meaning “the way”. That’s from mandarin however, if we want to be consistent, the Cantonese pronunciation of 道 is “Dou”, similar to the dough you’d use for making bread.

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In summary, the mandarin name would be “Hēi Dào”, the Cantonese name would be “Hak Dou”. Probably best to stick to the Infinity International Standard Code (ISC), since everyone who has ever read the words “Hac Tao” pronounced it the same way anyway.

The unit logo also includes some  Chinese characters to look at.

Hac Tao Logo

The bottom reads “玉京/Yu Jing“, as I am sure everyone knows by now. The top reads “特殊单位/Tèshū dānwèi“, which means “Special Unit”, in line with the unit’s full ISC, Hac Tao Special Unit.

Celestial Gardening, Part 2

In an earlier post I alluded to how I picked up the Celestial Guard with Kuang Shi Control Device, despite being put off by their grimdark nature. Well she’s  done.

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Unusually, I deviated a bit from Angel’s scheme, which  I rarely do. The studio model has more orange panels, but I cut back to match the artwork and the Celestial guard Hacker I already painted. I think it was the right call. I almost painted the hair a more subtle colour like I did on the Zhanshi Mecha Engineer/Gongcheng, however by coincidence I happened to be watching Revolutionary Girl Utena at the same time, so the pink hair stayed.

So what was I talking about when I mentioned grimdark? Surely not in Infinity right? Of course not. All a misunderstanding. Using without permission a few images from the Human Sphere book, I wish to clarify this misunderstanding about Celestial Guard.

So here goes…



CHANG Longwang signs an online petition urging independent review of the treatment received by Japanese citizens in custody of the Imperial Service.

Concerned for his emotional well-being, agents of the Celestial Guard immediately stop by to see how Chang is doing, and  invite him to visit their top secret underground installation.

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At the Celestial Guard facility, Chang is offered inter-cranial refreshments and shown a presentation about how the Imperial Service always works in the best interest of Yu Jing.

To a party

So moved is Chang by his treatment from his new friends that he joins the Imperial Service as a Kuang Shi! He bravely carries a remotely detonated explosive vest towards a terrorist position while his comrades in the Celestial Guard provide smoke cover from safety.

From a girl

Great job, Chang!

Roll Credits…

Zuyong and Zurestless

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This post was long overdue. After all, this page would not have been here if not for this guy. The Zúyŏng Invincible pictured above has the distinction of being the first model I painted in the orange. Subsequent satisfaction with the result set about a whole sequence of chain reactions. I bought Sun Tze to paint him the same, which eventually lead to me buying up most of the Imperial Service to keep him company. I repainted all my stuff to make it match him. I also created this guide at the behest of /tg/ and built a blog around it, that now even has a couple of followers. Funny what an unexpectedly decent paintjob can do for your confidence.DSC01434

Now, lets take a look at the naming and iconography of this unit.

The full unit name is given as Zúyŏng Invincibles, Terracotta Soldiers. If you really squint, you can see that their logo reads 卒俑 无敌, that is, “Zú yǒng wú dí“ in pinyin.

Zuyong Invincible Logo

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So, if you guessed that “Zúyǒng” meant Terracotta Soldier, close but not quite. The second character, that is 俑/yǒng, refers to funerary statues. For example, within China, the famous Terracotta Army, charged with protecting Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China in the afterlife, is simply referred to as “兵马俑/Bīng mǎ yǒng“, made up of the character for soldier, the character for horse, and then yǒng. To pronounce 俑/yǒng, it’s just like “bong”, with a ‘y’ instead of a ‘b’.

So does 卒/Zú stand for terracotta? No it does not. 卒/Zú denotes low ranking soldiers, grunts, and has connotations of servitude. So all together 卒俑/Zúyŏng denotes a tomb figure in this role. To pronounce, 卒/Zú, use the same sound we used for “Sù” in Sù-Jiàn, but instead kicking it off with a plain old western ‘Z’ sound. Start with the word “tool”, take away the ‘l’, then turn the ‘t’ into an ‘z’.

Onto the second part of the name, 无敌/wúdí, which process of elimination pretty much guarantees will mean invincible. Well it does, in a manner worth exploring. 无/wú means none or without, and often works as a prefix. For example, put 无 in front of the character for heart and you’ve got heartless and so on. It rhymes with the Sù-Jiàn “su” and the   Zúyǒng “zu”, but this time starts with a ‘W’. What is a Zúyǒng “without” you might ask? 敌/dí means enemy or opposition. Together the characters in 无敌/wúdí, (which sounds almost exactly like woody) could be translated as “matchless”, “peerless”, “unrivalled” and the like; Basically lacking the qualities that make someone vincible.

Interestingly, 无敌/wúdí does not feature at all in the name for the Invincible Army to which the Zúyǒng Invincible belongs. That formation is, according to the rulebook, called the 常勝軍/cháng shèng jūn, sharing it’s Chinese name and a little backstory with the Ever Victorious Army of antiquity.

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Oh, the Su-Jianity! Part 2.

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Well, that was intricate. Don’t think I’ve needed that much time to paint a single figure before. At least it’s done now. I’m glad Infinity is a skirmish war game, because I would not want to assemble and paint another. That said, the effect is awesome. What a cool robot. It was a simple model in terms of painting, there’s only really 4 kinds of surfaces aside from the base. Armour, light structure, dark structure and lights. I painted them all the same as his mobility form to try and pass them off as the same trooper. Access was the real pain, it’s not a good idea to invert this thing to get at hard to reach places. I learned that the hard way. Either paint it in pieces deliberately, or you will be painting it in pieces by accident. 

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Now, onto the name. The unit description on the old website, which is the same as in the Human Sphere book, says Sù-Jiàn means swift sword  (I’ll paste the whole bio after because it is cool). From that we can work out the characters are “速剑”.

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The first character, 速/Sù, can function as a noun for speed itself, or can be used as an adjective, as is the case in this unit’s name. To pronounce it, take the word “tool”, take away the ‘l’, then turn the ‘t’ into an ‘s’. You should be bang on the money.

The second character, 剑/Jiàn, usually denotes a specific kind of sword, that being the iconic Chinese double-edged straight sword, which is often used in Wushu and Taiji. It’s pronounced as a single syllable not unlike “j’yen’. You can see that is is spelled similar to and rhymes with 天/Tiān,the character that features heavily in the Celestial Guards. As a recent creation, pinyin is internally very consistent, which is good news for anyone trying to learn.The tones are a little different but I am not going to try and convey tones over the internet, seeing as I struggle in real conversation.

On to the unit description…

The Sù-Jiàn Program, “The Swift Sword”, is the weapons system of the future. It goes beyond tactical exoskeletons and other concepts of modern war. It is a sure bet for progress. A jump into the future. The first step towards a war machine being a true extension of man’s will. The sublimation of the virtual warrior […]

[…] The Sù-Jiàn Program is the jewel in the crown of Yu Jing’s military industry. A Remote Presence Heavy Infantry with variable morphology. The key to its success is the integration of Remote Presence technology, the supposedly PanOceanian great achievement, into Yu Jing’s military specialty: its famous Heavy Infantry armor. Usually, servo-powered armors are slow and heavy, while what was sought was the opposite, nimbleness and mobility. To that end, instead of creating and developing hardware improvements, it was decided to remove the human operator.

After the achievements in terms of hardware from the Karakuri Project, it was necessary to go beyond them and create a precise interface able to reflect quickly and exactly the movements and intentions of its remote operator. The pilot had to become his own armor. For this purpose, it was vital that the remote interface allowed a direct connection with its operator. New neural connections had to be created that would work within the reduced space of a human sized exoskeleton.

Through the interface, a pilot feels the sensation of the exoskeleton getting ready for action. The energy concentrates in the limbs’ accumulators, while the entire system focuses on responding to new challenges, acquiring superhuman strength and agility. The interface also has an onboard tactical assistant, a computer built into the exoskeleton’s connection and control devices. This assistant remains constantly active, processing every situation and predicting future events; tracing trajectories, anticipating an enemy’s movements, guessing the pilot’s intentions and improving them. [1]

The Sù-Jiàn’s variable morphology allows it to exploit both the incredible speed and movement capabilities of its High Mobility shape and the more lethal and precise qualities of its Combat form. In the Sù-Jiàn’s body design the peculiarities of urban combat have been taken into account. The geometry and perspectives of urban fights are very different from those in open fields, as it is much more vertically-oriented. This is why the designers were especially anxious that the Sù-Jiàn would have incredible speed and agility, even on vertical surfaces. The result of this aggressive R&D effort is a unit capable of going where a TAG can’t, thanks to its smaller size, weight and impact on terrain. It is a very quick, agile and mobile unit, equipped with considerable firepower and good armor. All of this adds to the aggressive tactics of its remote operators, creating a highly effective troop in all aspects. [2]

“Yes, effectiveness is great, but the best part of piloting a Sù-Jiàn is activating the boosters and running at top speed through the battlefield, or defying gravity and climbing like a spider up the side of a building to shoot a pair of antitank projectiles at the enemy from where he least expects it!” [3]

“Variable morphology means you can choose between two operative modes: Combat or Mobility. In other words: Kick Ass or Full Throttle.” [4]

[1]- Fragment of “Jì Shù Jīn Rì” (Technology Today) Educational broadcast from the Information Ministry, StateEmpire of Yu Jing.

[2]- Fragment of “The Future of War” Broadcast no. 93. Program from the military entertaiment channel Sabot! Only in Maya.

[3]- Sergeant Yin Wenbo, Sù-Jiàn Unit. Interview for Diàn Guāng (The Lightning) channel. Exclusive broadcast in the Yu Jing territories’ Maya net.

[4]- Non-commissioned instructor officer Zheng Tāo. Sù Jiàn Unit. Special Training Centre of Cheng Tû, Prefecture of Zhî Tû, Yutang, Yu Jing.

Here’s how I imagine all that might look.

SAMSUNGSAMSUNGSAMSUNGSAMSUNG    SAMSUNGI had been day dreaming about that for a while now. Putting the two models side by side doesn’t really convey what the Sù-Jiàn is all about. Maybe my blurry montage can better convey the dynamic nature of the trooper presented by the unit description.