Dire Friends

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Assume the Crane Stance.

The Crane Agent is here to solve Yu Jing’s problems, with style.

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Having started playing 40K around the time that you were meant to ask permission to use special characters, I always had a nagging subconscious discomfort that the only Lieutenant option I had available for Imperial Service was a character, Sun Tze. The situation changed when I impulse bought the Celestial Guard with Kuang Shi Control Device, giving me the option of having IS’ most baseline grunt lead my army. Still, that did not strike me as cool enough, as I like having an ultimate badass lead by example. After all, one of the many ways I envisaged my eventual IS team was like a 40K Inquisitor and retinue built up of apprentices, acolytes, soldiers of fortune and all manner of freakshow. So I resolved to one day get a Crane Agent to be my Inquisitor. Sadly, the Crane was at the time considered a poor investment of points so I ended up biding my time.

With the advent of N3, The Imperial Agent Crane Rank has been elevated to the status of rock star, gaining all kinds of useful buffs at the expense of his seldom used Mono CCW. His points went down, his MULTI Rifle got better, his armour went up, he picked up sensor and his kung fu remains strong. How could I resist any longer?

Well to be honest I probably would have delayed longer if I knew how much of an intricate bitch to paint he was going to be.

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The ponytail came off once during painting. It is quite a feat to attach normally, but once the shoulder antennae are on it’s a real challenge. Too small an attachment to pin as well…

SAMSUNGFor the most part the model is just painted black and/or white mixed with grey. His cloak is Dark Angels Green mixed with Regal Blue for the base, with increasing amounts of Bleached bone.

SAMSUNGI haven’t painted the dead Shasvastii he’s using as a foot rest yet. I’ll do that to treat myself if he ever bags one. I have just the one in mind…


On to the educational stuff. The full name of the unit includes the pinyin Xiān Hè, the correct spelling for the characters 仙鹤, which indeed denote ‘Crane’.

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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. This 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. The relationship between immortals and mountains is hardly unique to China of course. Another interesting point is that under Wade-Giles, an earlier system for romanizing Chinese language, ‘仙’ is written as ‘hsien’. Presumably this is the hsien that gives Yu Jing’s Hsien Troops their name, as their name is also meant to mean immortal. Therefore I am left scratching my head as to why their unit logo instead features the character ‘永/Yǒng’ prominently. 永/Yǒng means perpetual/eternal etc, so why not just use 仙 in the logo or call them Yong Troops?

Moving on, The second character, Hè/鹤, is specific to the crane. It’s pronounced close enough to ‘her’. If you remember the post about the Pheasant Agent, you’ll notice that it also incorporates the same little character for ‘bird’ (鸟) that the character for chicken does (鸡).

As the second character means crane on it’s own, I’m unsure exactly why crane is often written as immortal crane. I’m told it’s in a similar vein to the way a black crow provokes feelings of unease. I suppose if there is lucky lions there can be immortal cranes.

Crane LogoThe updated logo, like it’s predecessor does not feature the characters for Crane. The central character on the stylised silhouette of a crane is 龙/Lóng, which means ‘Dragon’ and denotes the Emperor of Yu Jing. The characters at the top are 龙服务/lóng fú wù, the same lóng as before, with the latter two characters denoting service. We can safely deduce from this that 龙服务/lóng fú wù is the in-universe name for the Imperial Service. Cool!