Assume the Crane Stance (for the second time)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Killing Mahsien

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I recently finished painting my first model from the very popular Operation Red Veil, choosing to prioritise the redesigned Hsien Warrior because he’ll fit right into my existing imperial service. I already have a painted Hsien in the previous style (itself actually a redesign of a model that came and went before I took the Infinity plunge). The Hsien armed with a MULTI rifle served me well, but I always wanted to try the HMG yet never got around to buying one until now (To my surprise, a Hsien Warrior with a MULTI rifle in the new design is apparently not far off).

20161105_104945.jpgThe Imperial Service is certainly becoming the sectorial army of high fashion. I do love these coats. But it’s not just looks that kill. Ballistic skill 14 kills as well. Especially when it’s taking aim with a heavy machine gun through a Multispectral Visor Level 2 (2 is only one less than 3). Camo? Dead. Thermoptic Camo? Dead. Optical Disruption Devices? Dead. Smoke? Dead. The Hsien hits what he aims at unless it has white noise or eclipse grenades, and unless it is buried in armour and cover, there is a good chance what he hits becomes Swiss cheese. His combination of negative mod removing visor, high burst and high ballistic skill means he should win most exchanges in his active turn, and that’s how he should be used. He has some extras, some might call distractions, including a nanopulser, CC skill of 19, Martial Arts Level 1 and an APCCW. I think it adds flavor, and it is not without gameplay utility, despite increasing his cost without increasing the delivery of his core business. Some people will point out that for one point more, the PanOceanian Aquila Guard  has BS 15 and MSV3, with the same armour and HMG. They are right that the Aquila Guard is some of the best value point and click in the game, but the Aquila Guard is not in a faction with 5 point smoke warbands.

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Many people have asked about which way the spines on the Hsien’s back should go. When the Hsien was designed, his antennae pointed up, and this can be seen on his dossier and on the renders released on Facebook by the sculptor, obscenely talented  Javier G. Urena. When the studio put him together, they decided they liked how it looked down and rolled with that. This was not unanimous, but being 4 separate bits, it’s up to the owner to pick how they go. I like how they look angled down when looking at the back (my view from the table in-game), but I am not convinced I made the right choice when I look at him from the front. He would certainly have a more interesting silhouette if I went with up.

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Painting him was pretty straight forward, although I regret not doing the coat before the armour. Because I did the armour in my typical orange, which involves a red wash that has a tendency to overflow, I normally do it first. The large area of the coat however tempted me to use a larger brush which hit the armour in places. Nothing I couldn’t fix, bit I’ll know for next time. The coat was done in 3 layers. First was Vallejo Heavy Blackgreen plus GW Regal Blue. Second was Heavy Blackgreen plus Vallejo Turquoise. Final was Heavy Blackgreen plus Turquoise plus GW Bleached Bone.

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Be sure to check out the article written about my first Hsien if you haven’t already. It includes an allegedly useful guide for pronouncing “Hsien”.

Exchanging Pheasantries

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The Imperial Agent – Pheasant Rank is a troop dear to me because the first ever Infinity model I ever owned was one.

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Furthermore, I believe the Pheasant with MULTI Sniper rifle is one of the best looking models of any game, ever, and the only competition I can name comes from the new Ninja with Tactical Bow, incidentally from the same sculptor, Javier G. Urena.

I love Pheasant agents so much I even used them once or twice.

The Pheasant had the unenviable reputation of having a very poorly optimised suite of profiles pre Human Sphere N3 that made him a hard sell in the sectorial of such remorselessly cost efficient units as Kuang Shi and the Rui Shi. I had one or two memorable games where I took one, but we were all very new to the game. I don’t know if I would get away with sniping two Q-drones from outside 32 inches in one game against those guys now, and I certainly wouldn’t be game to invite such risk again anyway. Thankfully, the redesigned model comes with a redesigned profile the ups his usefulness considerably. Free agent, a tempting Haris option and the price dropped generic shotgunner that I’m showing off today provide some tempting choices. I’m hanging out for a model of the Red Fury profile.

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The model itself has an easy pose to paint and crisp, embossed details. If I were doing it again I’d leave the ponytail off, paint the figure, glue it on and prime it with the brush then paint it last. This might not be necessary if you are not as clumsy as me but I ended up accidentally squeezing it off at some point. I used the same set of colours as always, except now that it appears Yu Jing trousers are getting a standardised colour, I’ve settled on mixing Vallejo Turquoise and Heavy Blackgreen and washing it with Black.

20160730_122918Seeing as the lore and naming has not changed, if you are interested in a little Chinese language be sure to check out the original Pheasant article.

Hsien is believing

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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!

I’m not a Pheasant Plucker…

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…I’m a pheasant plucker’s son,

but we’ll continue pheasant plucking,

till the pheasant plucking’s done.

My father taught me that nearly two decades ago. Only now do I realise he was trying to trick me into admitting congress with game birds.

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I recently painted a total badass figure. Sinister and menacing, the Imperial Agent Pheasant Rank quickly became on of my favourite models in my collection. The unit’s full name given by Corvus Belli is “Imperial Agent, Pheasant Rank (YĚJĪ)”. Yějī, which means Pheasant is pronounced close enough to “Yeah, jee”. It is made of the characters “野” which means “wild” or “undomesticated”, and  “鸡” which means chicken.

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Fun fact, if you look at the right hand element of the Character for chicken, that is the character for bird (鸟/Niǎo). Kind of looks like a bird in profile, doesn’t it? That’s totally intentional. Many Chinese characters are abstract pictograms.

The MSR profile is widely considered online to be the worst loadout for an already horribly cost inefficient profile. Still, I could not say no to this sculpt. Perhaps my loyalty to the dragon will be rewarded when the next wave of updated profiles are released.

[EDIT] Massive cost decrease!

I just love how this guy turned out. Curiously, I did not add any Scrofulous Brown to his armour panels like the others as it made him look too bright. The non metal metal, a technique for which I am a total amateur, turned out acceptable.

SAMSUNGWhat’s more, I can now link my Bao Troops!

SAMSUNGI AM THE LAW.