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.

The changing of the (Celestial) Guard

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

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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.

New-Jian

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A lot of stuff happened and I didn’t post for a while.It seems in the mean time that Corvus Belli decided that Yu Jing was the only faction that matters and everyone else is just NPC races. There’s a lot of catching up to do and the rebooted Su-Jian is great place to start!

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The Su-Jian underwent a complete redesign that I think fabulously portrays him as heavy infantry with remote presence rather than a remote. He is humanoid in his combat form, but the proportions are still bestial. He shares some design elements with existing heavy infantry (and the Guijia!) so he looks right at home with his team mates, yet there is no mistaking him for one of them. The new Spitfire + light flamethrower design is also excellent. I love this model.

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There is of course, more than one model to love. The mobility form (AKA BEAST MODE) version is completely radical. Apparently the idea of felid remotes for Yu Jing existed a long time ago, but this still caught me completely by surprise. If someone told me the Su-Jian was becoming a mechanical cheetah I almost certainly would have said “That’s stupid”, so I’m kind of glad it did. It just looks powerful.

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When the preview dropped, Javier G. Urena, the digital sculptor for many of Infinity’s most amazing models, including the majority of Yu Jing, attended to many questions about the design which was enlightening. They put a lot of effort into making the transformation plausible. For instance the knife folds back on the forearm and you can see it stowed in mobility form. He was predictably bombarded with questions about the tail, which apparently collapses in on itself an folds into a hatch on the oversized codpiece when not in use.

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Not content with simply producing a massive redesign, Corvus Belli also revisited the stats of this literal killing machine. This included jacking up it’s armour, BS and giving it No Wound Incapacitation, unprecedented on a unit with remote presence. I love this company. Also, painting both forms was a real breeze once I finally got back on the horse after I think 4 months. There is only really two types of surfaces, armour plates, which I did in orange (thankfully I wrote down the recipe somewhere), and the muscle layer which is all grey. I left the knife arm off mobility form when I painted the model so I could reach the belly.

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If you want to read more about the name of this unit, how to pronounce it and what it means, check out this article from when I did up the original Su-Jian.