Dire Friends

20170507_115519.jpg

I’d long wished for an original Yu Jing character who was not Japanese or a recreation. This wish came true in the form of Xi Zhuang, a Celestial Guard turned covert operative. Xi Zhuang’s covert operations tend to involve the use of a flamethrower and rolling with a squad of his old buddies. He’s an interesting troop on his own, but given the presence of Number  2 on his only profile, he’s designed to support a team.

20170507_115657.jpg

Here’s the kind of team I think he shines in. My logic is that if you are investing in a CQB specialist for your link, you probably think that link is going places. And if you are dragging your fragile line infantry into the fray, one of them might as well be a martial artist legal scholar with power armour and a machinegun. Probably BS 16 after mods, solid medium range-band and burst 5 makes a formidable pointman. Like many mixed links, there is great cost efficiency to be gained by pairing an expensive, dangerous pointman with cheap link filler. Celestial guards and Xi Zhuang are not exactly cheap, but they are less liable to melt under pressure than the chocolate soldiers of other factions. The addition of an imperial agent gives the link a hacking vulnerability that it otherwise would not have had, although stealth (Thanks to martial arts) tends to mean they will be tripped on your terms. Defensively, Xi Zhuang’s MadTraps have the potential to keep hackers (and pig disgusting Ghazi Muttawi’ah) at bay. Overall, it’s a nice synergy, that only gets better when you start upgrading the filler. Boarding shotguns, MULTI sniper rifles and Kuang Shi control devices all have something to add. I’ve taken to having the hacker running separate, as his vulnerability to SWORD programs seems to make him a liability as he does not have stealth to protect him. It’s also less of a hassle to upgrade him to an EVO hacking remote if I am bringing a Garuda tacbot.

20170507_115731.jpg

Painting Zhi Xuang didn’t call for anything onerous. His pro-active law enforcement pose didn’t preclude painting him in one piece, which is always a plus. His Madtraps on the other hand, where a phenomenal pain in the ass. Their arms and heads are all separate bits if you can believe that. By the time I had got them to stay together I never wanted to look at them again. Eventually they looked passable but I greatly missed the 10 minute job CrazyKoalas represent.

20170507_115543.jpg

And that’s all I have to say about that. I’ve only had a chance to use him once but it looks like he will have a long career ahead of him.

The changing of the (Celestial) Guard

20170507_110855.jpg

It’s time to celebrate a semi-retirement of some much-used and distinguished servants of the Dragon.

20170507_120100.jpg

The shock arrival of the Imperial Service starter and some unexpected space in my painting queue lead to the earlier than expected completion of their replacements, who you might have seen sneaking into a few earlier photos on the page. I have nothing but love for the previous sculpts, which is part of the reason the new ones came as a shock. The new ones are, of course, very cool, although I already miss having an up to date shotgun model, in addition to the SWC profiles. For the time being I am taking a break from running ARO sniper plus cheer-leading cores while I wait for the box to arrive (It was said at Adepticon that it “has to happen”, but there was little to indicate that it actually was on the planning horizon). Instead I have been experimenting with a more varied approach, which I first touched on when talking about the Spitfire Crane but will likely report on in more detail in Xi Zhaung’s post.

20170507_110922.jpg

Paint-wise, all the colours were aped from the Kanren, except for the trousers which used the loincloth mix from the spitfire Crane, but with more black. They don’t have their unit logo painted on their backs anymore (phew) but check out this article from my first Celestial Guard to learn a bit about the Chinese Character involved.

20170507_110751.jpg

The attributes of the Celestial Guard in the RPG previews give as a more intimate appreciation for their talents that don’t manifest on the scale of the tabletop wargame. Their fearsome reputation affords them bonuses to psychological warfare, whereas their near limitless authority manifests as bonuses to command and leadership in firefights. Also they have files on everyone.

Assume the Crane Stance (for the second time)

20170207_191428

The Imperial Agent Crane Rank brandishing a spitfire is a model I never expected to release when it did and never knew I wanted until I took it for a spin.

With no skills or equipment that helps him shoot better, I often considered him as a cost-inefficient Shang ji with a bunch of niche gear tacked on to drag the cost up. This was especially true before HSN3 when only Crane Lts could form fireteams with Celestial Guard in Imperial Service for some reason.

Now, the Crane feels like a pricey but worthwhile upgrade for the Celestial Guard spitfire, and the efficiency of getting fireteam buffs from far cheaper troopers than himself comfortably cancels out the cost of his close combat bells and whistles that he was unlikely to use when going about his core business of mowing guys down at B5 BS16.

With Celestial Guard Guifeng Xi Zhuang and his Madtraps currently  in bits on my desk, local tables should soon be seeing a durable, versatile, scoring fireteam with a very mean anchor. I would still never take this profile out of a fireteam and I am interested to hear if anyone can make a case for it.

20170207_191305.jpg

Assembly was fairly easy. Whilst his chunkier braid is less identifiable as the Qing Dynasty Queue/Bianzi hairstyle, it has to date never snapped off. I know of some Morat players who wish they could say the same for their Daturazi.

20170207_191315.jpg

Thanks to his unusual pose (I still have no idea what he is doing) he was very simple to paint in one piece. The colours have changed slightly since the old crane but it wasn’t that hard to execute. The black was done the same as my beloved hac taos and the orange is the orange that I’ve been using since day one of the blog.

20170207_191327

The loincloth and tails were done with a 50/50 mix of Vallejo Turquoise and Heavy Blackgreen with a black wash an highlights made by adding GW Bleached Bone to the initial mix. The “NMM” “gold” trim followed the same structureless please-god-let-this-work approach I employed on the Guijia‘s hook sword. I really should sit down with Angel’s book some time.

14890448_10154176328881848_1545559856072830755_o

And that’s all there is to it. If you want to know more about Cranes, especially the Chinese name, be sure to check out the post from when I did up my original Crane.

Hsien is believing

DSC01926

The first Infinity figure I ever bought and painted was an Imperial Agent Pheasant Rank. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this essentially meant I would never buy an Imperial Service Starter, as he is bundled into the kit. Not that it would have mattered to me in the slightest back then, because I never intended to play Imperial Service, much less use it exclusively. Funny how things work out, yet people still call slippery-slope a fallacy.

I eventually grabbed a Celestial Guard hacker to enrol my remotes, but never really planned to take it further until I stumbled on an out of production Celestial Guard Kuang Shi Control Device blister that I could not resist, which also included one of the Combi rifle sculpts from the starter as well. So I grabbed a box of Kuang Shi to go with them, and went hunting for the out of production Celestial Guard MSR and Spitfire blister, as they were at that time already bundled with the Kuang Shi Control Device and Hacker I already had bought individually. I eventually found them, and got to thinking just how nice the 5 man fireteam bonus is, whilst at the same time trying to find the right way to exploit the smoke light grenade launcher wielded by the Celestial Guard with the Kuang Shi Control Device. I have a lot of Bao and a Rui Shi, so I am not exactly lacking Multispectral Visor Level 2, but I learned the hard way that these are not particularly durable troops, even when protected by Smoke.

So the logical answer for how to get to a 5 man link of Celestial Guard were the Combi rifle and Boarding shotgun sculpts exclusive to the starter, and with them the Hsien, a super elite heavy infantry trooper with an MSV2, also bundled into the starter. By then I had also impulse bought a Wu Ming fireteam, including the separate boarding shotgun blister, which is, you guessed it, also bundled into the starter. It was beginning to look like I had made some poor economic decisions.

Thankfully this story has a happy ending, as a player on the  Infinity Australia Facebook page was selling piecemeal some of his less used figures, mostly assembled and primed. I jumped at the opportunity and, as you can see, finally got what I needed.

DSC01922

There is a lesson here. I now have every model in the starter, and every model in the Celestial Guard support pack, only I bought them individually at a greater cost than the two bundles. I really should have just started with the starter.

The second-hand figures came fixed to Micro Art Studio Urban Bases. I originally planned to re-base them with my usual bland basing style to make them fit in with the rest of my guys, but once I had them in my hand and saw what a nice job the seller had done with them, I pulled a 180.

DSC01928

I really like the sculpt, he has a posture that is both menacing and commanding. Also his head looks a lot like that of EVA Unit 02, which I don’t think is an accident.

To paint his armour, I used the usual orange. It was a welcome break from the earthier tone I use for most other Imperial Service units like the two Celestial Guards in the background of these photos. His cloak is a mix of Games Workshop Dark Angels Green and Regal Blue for the base layer, with successively more Bleached bone added in layers that covered successively less of it.The padding on the inside and outside of his cloak was painted with Vallejo Mutation Green, with I think Games Workshop Dark Angels Green watered down over it, I kinda rushed that bit.

DSC01932


Hsien is the Wade-Giles romanisation of the character ‘仙’, which is romanised as ‘xiān’ using the more modern and intuitive pinyin system and means Immortal. Xiān/仙 can be pronounced by taking the ‘sh‘ from ‘shot’, and placing it before ‘yen’ like the Japanese currency, and saying it all as one syllable.

Xian

This is the exact same xiān that is used as the first character of crane. As I mentioned in that post, the character means ‘immortal’ and interestingly, is made up of the character for ‘person’ (人) and ‘mountain’ (山). The implication here is one of transcendence, becoming immortal by ascending the mountain. I don’t quite get it, but as I pointed out in that earlier post, the relationship between immortals and mountains is hardly unique to China.

Unexpectedly, the Xiān/仙 character does not feature at all in unit insignia of Hsien Troops.

Hsien Logo

In addition to the characters 龙服务/lóng fú wù/Dragon Service running across the top, which is the in-universe name for the Imperial Service, the  insignia instead features the character ‘永/Yǒng’ prominently. 永/Yǒng means perpetual/eternal etc, similar to what Xiān/仙 means. I’m unsure why they elected not to use 仙 in  the logo or call them Yong Troops. That said, Hsien have been part of Yu Jing from the beginning and Corvus Belli’s use of Chinese has definitely improved greatly with time, so it might just be a legacy thing.

Service updates.

This post is mostly about playing catchup with a few models that I painted recently but never wrote an article for. I also played a pair of games yesterday that happened to use all of these models, but more on that later. DSC01887 First up is the Sniper half of the Celestial Guard special weapons blister, who I painted simultaneously with the Wu Ming from last post. I’ve already had a few chances to discuss Celestial Guard, so there isn’t much left to say. She’s a cool model, to me she has the feel of part of a fireteam in an urban environment, reacting to movement in an upper story window or roof top. As far as colour goes, the only thing that is really unique about her is her hair. DSC01886 My original instinct was to forgo purple for something more identifiably oriental, but in the end my inner Weeaboo won out. I painted it by highlighting the black undercoat with Skull White, before putting a slightly wetter Liche purple over the top. I’m happy with the result, and will probably replicate it if I ever manifest the courage to take a brush to Miranda Ashcroft. I fielded the sniper as part of a fireteam in the second game I played, (annihilation) although she personally never fired a shot. Instead her partner with the Spitfire took point in an absolutely tense fire fight with a Shasvastii Gweilo link team over two turns, eventually prevailing over three of them after many exchanges. This reversed a very poor start and the momentum carried me through to a welcome win. DSC01884 In anticipation for the games, I quickly whipped up the second Wu Ming the night before. As I found a method I was happy with on the guy with the Combi Rifle+E/mitter, I went straight for the HMG, who I anticipate will see the most table. I painted him exactly the same as his predecessor. Painting the numbers on his head is quite hard! His number is meant to be 三十五 / sān shí wǔ, the characters for 3, 10 and 5 (meaning 35) respectively. Won’t get too bogged down in numbers for the time being; I think I might do a whole post on numbers to celebrate finishing the fifth Wu Ming, so look forward to it. DSC01882 I deployed the Wu Ming with HMG in the first game (The Armoury), on a fairly quiet flank. Because of a chronic shortage of orders on my second turn, he never got activated. Why were my orders in short supply? Well, I had this wonderful idea of using a Rui Shi to suppress the objective room from one of the doorways with assisted fire from the Celestial Guard hacker. On the way to the room however, a crafty Noctifier came out of hidden deployment on a distant rooftop. As the remote broke cover on his second short move skill (I thought it was safe, my first mistake), the Noctifier had a beautiful normal roll against it and disabled it. Thanks to my tunnel vision, I spent a lot of orders getting a Sophotect up to fix it, which meant I finished my turn bunched up around the doorway where I wanted to set up the Rui Shi (Second big mistake, although I didn’t know it at the time). My friend did notice my mistake however, and wasted no time notifying me by way of Shasvastii Seed Soldier with light grenade launcher, who unloaded speculative shots at the mass of troops until one hit. With the objective room under his control, he let his Sphinx off the chain to keep me busy while he plundered the armoury with impunity. Sphinxes are awesome by the way. I did eventually put it down, but it took enough effort that I did not have the orders or the manpower to make a push on the armoury. Total defeat. There is a silver lining though. When I first presented my Crane on the blog, I said I’d wait till he bagged a Shasvastii before I painted the dead one on his base… DSC01880 That damned Noctifier who set about the chain of events leading to my loss of the armoury? The Crane braved his AROs long enough to take a shot with Triangulated Fire. What should have been a -12 modifier despite the X-Visor for the combination of long range, cover and TO camo was taken up to a comfy -3, and the xenos was purged with shock ammo. Tactically irrelevant but it sure made me feel good. I also took the opportunity to  get started with the freehand detail on the inside of his cloak. I think it needs some bleached bone but happy with the result so far. DSC01875

More Mooks.

DSC01832

I actually finished painting the final Kuang Shi around the same time I painted the Ninja/Oniwaban. Unsurprisingly, the latter made for a more interesting and original post and I ended up forgetting about this guy. I am very happy with how he turned out, despite forgetting about him. Originally I thought the pose was a bit over the top, but now I love it!

DSC01830


More recently, there were some new arrivals for the Celestial guard family, one of which I painted some time on the weekend.

DSC01841I put more effort than I normally do into the Spitfire, and the result reflects that. I regret not doing this for all my painted soldiers. I might have to do another pass on them all at some stage.

DSC01840

His partner with the MULTI Sniper Rifle is now competing with several other models for my next painting session. Unexpectedly my figure count exploded and I am sitting on a shameful amount of unfinished models, seven off the top of my head.  Maybe I’ll get some done over the weekend.
DSC01838

Celestial Gardening, Part 3

DSC01693

Just finished painting this Celestial Guard with combi-rifle. I really like this guy’s pose, it’s dynamic without being silly. As the most basic unit for building an Imperial Service list, it’s good that I finally have one of these guys. In regular lists, he’ll make a good temporary lieutenant while my other recent acquisition waits for the right moment to burst out of hidden deployment and start wrecking people’s shit.

DSC01692

In terms of background and language, there’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said. I painted him (and her) using the same orange as the Pheasant Agent. Unusually for a both hands on gun pose, I painted him completely assembled. I’d say it has a lot to do with how not much of a hassle he was to paint. I imagine I will do this more often, because it drives me nuts when you feel like you have finished and there is still a pewter gun and arm lying in your work bench. It wasn’t that hard to reach around with the brush, especially compared to how much of a pain it is to paint small, unattached bits.

DSC01690

Hopefully I will be able to source the MSR and Spitfire Celestial Guard soon so I can form a fireteam. In the mean time, I have a swarm of Kuang Shi to paint, and I want to finish at least the boarding shotgun one before I permit myself to get that beautiful, beautiful Yanhuo Invincible.

DSC01692