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.

Advertisements

Assume the Crane Stance.

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

SAMSUNG

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.

SAMSUNG

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’.

Xian He

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!

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

“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….”

DSC01655

…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.

DSC01682

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.

DSC01662

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.

DSC01641

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.

Hei Dao

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.

Liars game.

In 2013 I said to the guy who I started Infinity with something to the effect of “I would never get Bao troops or Kuang Shi” because their unit descriptions are ‘2edgey4me”.

DSC01582

I guess my hatred of traitors and terrorists has grown since then. Or maybe I just couldn’t let the opportunity to grab these two in the out of print blister rather than the 4 figure box that includes the hacker I already own.

Zuyong and Zurestless

DSC01442

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

Zuyong Wudi

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.

DSC01454

DSC01450

Fancy Zhànshì

Well, I finally did it. Anyone close to me knows I had been agonizing over the decision of whether or not to redo the original flouro orange of my Zhanshis with the new orange, as I did with the Shaolin Warrior Monks, Gui Feng Spec Ops, Yaoxie Rui Shi, Yao Xie Lu Duan and Yaozao remotes. The reason for this was because compared to the others, the old orange really worked on these guys.

20140106_130455The Zhanshis were actually the second Infinity figures I bought, after the original Imperial Agent Pheasant Rank, in line with my plans to put together a fairly regular army unit. As I gravitated slowly toward the Imperial Service Sectorial Army (completely contrary to my original intent), it was looking like these guys were going to see less and less play, and I was almost certain to leave them as they were, as a tribute to my first efforts.

Then N3 came out, causing me to fall in love with the Yan Huo Invincible. Then they teased the new Hac Tao. What this meant was that I would need cheer leaders, and something to fill the gaps whilst I grew my legion of invincibles in anticipation of the “upcoming” sectorial army.

I am strong (strong!), I am Invincible (invincible!)
One day this guy is getting his own post.

In short, despite how cool my pure Imperial list is shaping up to be, the Zhanshis are going to continue to get a workout with my State Army Units, as seen below. Now all I need is a hacker or a TAG.

SAMSUNG

So, you have gone through this article reading Zhànshì this and Zhànshì that, but were you internalising it correctly? Wonder no more!

As with all Chinese words, each syllable has its own character. Zhànshì is made up of these two, 战(Zhàn) & 士(shì).

Zhanshi

In Pinyin, the ‘Zh’ sound of Zhàn is pronounced like the end of “judge“, starting at the ‘d’. The ‘an’ rhymes with “ran”. The character  (战) stands for combat. This can be from wars to battles to brawls.

“Shi” sounds like the first part of “shit”, like you were going to say “shit” but stopped yourself three letters in because children might read the blog. The character (士) is usually used as a suffix to denote a professional.

So taken together the literal meaning of Zhànshì (战士) is fighter, but the professionalism implied by the second character would make warrior the more fitting translation.