Fancy Zhànshì part 2

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Today I am again writing to celebrate the retirement of some Yu Jing line infantry models, this time some much adored but seldom used Zhanshi, the second infinity models I ever bought.

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I love these old models. I love the no nonsense haircuts, complex uniforms and action poses especially. They might be some of the best single piece miniatures ever in my opinion. The old combis are proportionally bigger than those abandoned OICW prototypes, but still look cool. The models may have changed, but the statblock regrettably has not. Whilst I get the impression my adoration for the sculpts is above the average, my “love” for the statblock is right there with the majority. That’s why these models are retiring after having been repainted more times than they have been used in a competitive match. Frankly, no one is taking Zhanshis to fight. Keisotsu and Kuang Shi cheerlead for better value in vanilla. Zhanshis will have no competative niche until a sectorial army list both makes them linkable and denies access to keisotsu butai, celestial guard and kuang shi. I hope it happens soon, because I like the new ones and am eyeing off the SWC box, despite having never played a profile without a combi rifle.

So what do the new sculpts bring to the table?

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In summary, big tits, round asses, manga aesthetic hairstyles, simple, easy to paint uniforms, sensibly sized weapons, modern-scaled bodies. Your mileage may vary on some of those but I’ve certainly seen the upside and am really happy with the new models.

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Whilst I would not have opted for many of the departures from the old ones if asked, I love the character and detail of these sculpts. I also like the poses, even if the blue haired woman is being a bit reckless with her gun. She was a lot of fun to paint, because she could easily be done in one piece in contrast to the others. I was foolhardy enough to paint the other two with their gun arms separate, something that I always regret until the models are together.

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Regarding the faces, I’ve spent a lot of time in recent years working in rural parts of Asia, and I think it is influencing my choice of skin tones. I’m definitely shading heavier. I’ve also tried a few different combinations, like shading with GW Snakebite Leather instead of Vallejo Cavalry Brown. I like the result but t is a little too close to the colour of the armour sometimes, even though it has no colours in common.

20170507_101155On the backs of the models, large black/grey areas with plenty of hard angles make for comfortable and quick painting too. 20170507_101050

Welcome to the team ladies and gentleman, the deepest insert of my figure case is that way. Get comfortable.

Hack Tao

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I don’t usually edit photos, but this time I could not resist…

The Hac Tao hacker profile finally has a model, after first being described by Bostria around the time N3 hit as a profile who no one used to take who would become a monster in N3. He’s what I’d describe as a jack of all trades, master of a whole bunch. There are few situations he doesn’t have an answer for. His stat block has a scary number of 14s  in it, his MULTI Rifle can threaten anything within 16 inches, his nanopulser can kill things he can’t see, he can complete objectives and can freeze, designate or possess the scariest models in the game through walls. His hacking device, paired with stealth also ensures he’s dealing with enemy hackers on his own terms in the active turn, whilst his ability to assume a marker state, high willpower, high BTS and access to the Carbonite program keep him safe in the enemy’s active turn. Finally, thanks to hidden deployment, a careless opponent might not even know how much trouble they are in until it’s too late.

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Model-wise, “super cool” doesn’t even cut it. He is posed with the confidence of someone whose only fear can be summarised as “Intruders”. I love that even though they went with his sword in hand, that the MULTI Rifle is evident on the model.

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His hack gear gives him a noticeably different geometry compared to his HMG wielding predecessor (Be sure to check out that article for everything you might want to know about the meaning behind the unit’s name!). That said, once I got painted, he started to feel very familiar, and soon they looked like peas in a pod. Here’s hoping you can take two in White Banner!

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Painting him was fairly straight forward, as there were few colours to figure out that were not used on the first one. Notably I did the crossguard on his oversized Jian exactly as I had done it on the Gūijiă, and the blade the same as the servo muscle.

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His visor comes from mixing black with a tiny bit of purple and a bit more turquoise, then adding in more white to it as I painted successive layers. That was something of a guess but it worked out all right.

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Super cool. Yu Jing really is blessed these days. Now I just have to use him quickly before the new Su-Jian comes out drags me back into the murky world of the Imperial Service.

 

Enter the Gūijiă

I’ve waited a long time for this.

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The description Corvus Belli sent to their distributors is probably the best summation why:

“The Gūijiă, the most versatile and heavier TAG of Yu Jing, has been redesigned and re-sculpted. This new box replace the previously released. With its huge sword and MULTI HMG, the Gūijiă is the personified nightmare of any soldier: a powerful war machine perfectly adapted to any combat situation.”

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The official unit bio is also a bit of fun but we’ll get to that later. For now it’s suffice to say that it’s clearly the meanest thing on two legs since Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Javier G. Ureña’s outstanding sculpt certainly looks the part. Whilst he only has the second deadliest gun available to Yu Jing, he’s faster than everything we have but the Aragoto and Sù-Jiàn (in mobility form) and wins the prize for “most durable” with his ARM value of 8 and 3 structure points.

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As for the model himself, the first thing I and many others noticed is that the Gūijiă is a big guy.  Heavy too. I probably used a foot of paper-clip pinning him together. Some advice for people about to assemble their first one, if I had a chance to do over I would probably leave his sword hand and gun off the model for painting purposes. That said, absolutely drill and fit the pins for his wrist before attaching the arms to the model!

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He’s huge, that means huge painting. With his extremely detailed servo-muscle system, with has crisp detailing on every segment of every strand, each casting a shadow, this beast drank a lot of primer, and I spent hours chasing up T-1000 effects with the brush after I gave up with the Chaos Black spray. Most of the surface of the model is painted with a metallic effect, which is very messy using my method, so I resolved to do it first, then the orange. I quickly found it was hard to judge what parts are meant to be orange just by looking at the model, and frustratingly had to keep returning to studio painter Angel Giraldez’ blog post to view it from many angles. The solution was to base coat the orange panels first, then do the metal, despite how fouled the orange panels would become with my haphazard dry brushing. Ideally I would have done the metal as I did on the Yanhuo, but I kind of rushed it on account of wanting to see it finished. Check out the comments section of that post to see how I should have done it. Once I had finished with the inner workings, the orange was predictably done the same way I have been doing it from the start of this blog.

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The sword is a focal point of the model yet I had no precedent for how I was going to paint it, so I nervously winged it. The base colour of the blade is Citadel Mechrite Red. This paint no longer exists but I hear Khorne Red, or Vallejo Heavy Red are good matches. I then picked out the edges in Ceramite White (not sure if I got a bad one or if this paint just kills brushes like it’s its job). I then mixed Baal Red and a tiny bit of Liche purpose into a rich wash that I then panted the blade with. The cross-guard is my most successful attempt at non-metallic metal painting to date. The colour sequence was Abaddon Black, Snakebite Leather, Bubonic Brown then Vallejo Ivory. Each layer covered successively less, painting from most elevated to most depressed.

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Psssh… Nothin Personnel… Kid…

As for the effects of the sword on Impudent Pano, this was a problem because I had to figure out how to paint PanO blue with the colours I had. I ended up mixing Citadel Regal Blue with Enchanted Blue, then worked in more and more white for subsequent layers. The scorch effect is Abaddon Black, Orange Brown and Cavalry Brown.

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Now this is the first time in a while since I got a new Chinese troop profile, so it’s time for some language! We’ll start with the name.

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The character 龟/Gūi is a catch all character for turtles and tortoises. It is pronounced “Gway”. The character itself is a pictogram of one of those animals.

The character 甲/jiă denotes armour. This pictogram is a stylized depiction of the scutes on a Testudine carapace/plastron and if you look closely you’ll see it is incorporated into the turtle pictogram – neat! Jiă is quite easy to pronounce but a bit difficult to explain. Lets try “jya”, as one syllable. The Chinese ‘j’ sound isn’t exactly our ‘j’ sound either, a kind of hybrid with ‘ch’.

Guijia Logo

Unfortunately an error crept into the unit emblem when it was redesigned for third edition. If you look at the top banner, the character after 龟/Gūi is different from 甲/jiă. This character, 家/jiā, is also spelled ‘jia’ using a keyboard input so it is likely the result of a typographical error. It means depending on usage, “home” and “family”. The correct 甲/jiă character features prominently in the centre of the emblem. The third character,  队/duì denotes a team, corps or squadron. Guijia ‘Squadrons’ and Wu Ming Assault ‘Corps’ both use 队 for the last word.

Now Corvus Belli did go out of their way to include some nice Chinese mythological references in the official unit bio, so I thought it might be fun to look at it. I’ve embedded some  Wikipedia links into the bio to help make sense of some of the Chinese words.

“The Sì Líng Squads are a prestigious unit, a source of pride for their military prowess in service of the nation. The Guijia machines of the State Cavalry are the best warfare tools devised by man to this day.

In days of yore, incorporation into an elite unit was a matter of lineage or rank, but not in the reality of Yu Jing where, thanks to Imperial socialism, only the best can join the best units, regardless of their birth. An aptitude testing programme carried out in middle schools selects young people with the potential to serve the State from the higher echelons of the military.

Once vetted, they are relocated to training centers, where veteran soldiers prepare and evaluate them. After a final selection, only the most promising, regardless of their social origin, receive the reward of joining the best Yu Jing units. […] Piloting a Guijia, the most advanced light war machine, product of our superior technology, a soldier can traverse the most gruesome killzone unscathed and help Yu Jing fulfil its destiny […] Sì Líng Regiments on planet Yutang, like those mythical creatures, are spread across the four points of the compass to defend the land. The Qílín (Unicorn) Regiment is deployed in the continental West […] The Fènghuáng (Phoenix) Regiment protects the fertile South. […] The Gui-Xian (Immortal Turtle) Regiment covers the North, our cultural bastion. […] And the Lóng (Dragon) Regiment defends the industrious East and our beloved capital. […] Sì Líng Regiments were responsible for many of our glorious victories during the NeoColonial Wars […] Comrade-subject, your children might become heroes of the Yu Jing StateEmpire. Your unsung efforts are the foundation of our socialist-Imperial society…” 

-Excerpts from Ministry of Information propaganda broadcast.

 

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As a tiger given wings

 

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The Chinese expression, “Rúhǔtiānyì/如虎添翼”, literally “As tiger add wings” , has been used for at least a thousand years to describe taking something dangerously powerful and making it more dangerous and powerful, then  letting it rip.

Having used this guy I can really see what they mean.

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Tiger soldiers are just amazing. Professional killers. Having had a few more chances to experience the profiles available to other factions, I am filled with admiration. BS13 and willpower 14 is huge. Then mimetism? I’m legit surprised people don’t complain about this. Also Tigers look better than anything anybody else gets. Sorry about that, other factions (not).

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Anyway, I talked these guys up a fair bit when I got the first one with the shotgun (who still sees table, despite my earlier prediction), and you should totally check out that link if you want to read a breakdown of the name and insignia.

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I painted this one exactly the same as the previous one , except I left his right arm separate whilst painting. Actually the little star on this one’s chest is better than the original, but is completely obscured by his absolute truck of a gun. Hard to be sad about it though.

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Eye of the Tiger

The Tiger has landed and boy, I just can’t say enough good things about him!


I mentioned in the last post that this guy’s impending arrival was enough to jerk me out of the Imperial Service and back into generic Yu Jing for a while. Whether it was his model or his stats, it’s hard to say.

Let’s start with the stats. With BS13 and WIP 14 he is a total professional. He’s slower than I’d like for someone with ARM 2, but you can’t be perfect at everything (unless you are with A.L.E.P.H). I guess being slow isn’t such a problem when you can bust in from the sides on the verge of the enemy’s deployment zone or roll the dice on a meteoric decent into the worst possible spot an the board. Mimetism as standard is just the icing on the cake. Marry a profile like this with a big gun and you have a match made in heaven.

On that note, a lot of people questioned the choice of releasing the Boarding Shotgun loadout as the first of a new generation of Tiger Soldiers. Even I thought of it as training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber for the day when one with a Spitfire is released. Turns out I was way off, and he’s spoiled me each time I’ve used him so far. Airborne deployment has allowed him to get good angles on his enemies and 19 to hit is just so tasty. Chk-chk boom.


Then there’s the model itself. Like the other recent Yu Jing knock outs, the Tiger Soldier was sculpted by Javier G. Urena to great effect. It’s hard not to sound like a fanboy when I write about how much I love this model.  Aside from looking awesome, it also lends itself very well to painting.  It’s posed in such a way that it can be comfortably painted after 100% assembly and gives you plenty of decent sized panels to create nice colours on.

Following the studio scheme as closely as I could, there were not many surfaces at all that I had to try new colours, which always speeds things up. The orange was the orange, the light areas (belly, calves, jump pack and face)  started as Codex Grey, then Fortress Grey, then White. The trousers were Goblin Green over Camo Green.

On to the name:

Unlike the newer Yu Jing units, Tiger Soldiers, who have been around since the beginning, don’t have any pinyin as part of their ISC name that appears on their profile in all language versions of Infinity. That said, using the a historical example of Chinese naming badass things after tigers as a precedent, it is not a great leap of faith to assume they would be called 虎兵/hǔ bīng, made up of the characters for Tiger and Soldier respectively.

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The 虎/hǔ sound is similar to the word “hoop” without the ‘p’ sound. Although the tiger, like the leopard and the wolf, was present in China and thereby scored a single unique character to represent it, it is sometimes preceded by the character  老/lǎo, which means, amongst other things, can denote age and the associated experience/respect. The same character is also often used in a much more sardonic manner.

Moving on, the 兵/bīng is the exact same as the end of  Yáokòng Wèibīng (rhymes with “thing”).

The new and improved unit logo of this prestigious unit interestingly does not include the character for tiger or soldier.

Tiger Logo

The characters at the top read 特别行动/Tè bié xíng dòng, meaning special operations, with the first pair of characters denoting “special“ or “particular“, and the second pair of characters denoting “operation“ with connotations of action and mobility. In case you have forgotten, the bottom two characters read Yù jīng.

So, I now have a pretty good head start on the rumoured White Banner Army. Their synergy on the table is phenomenal!

Assault Corpse

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No that’s not a typo. With the addition of troops from this infamous penal regiment, the dead men walking scene my Imperial Service is starting to get pretty crowded. Accordingly, I created this flow chart to help understand Yu Jing’s deployment of suicide troops.

Suicide troops

Originally low on my “to get” list due to lack of interest in their background, I eventually caved in to their tabletop potential. They bring staying power that my current IS builds were sorely lacking. As I still have no faith in my ability to not ruin models in the attempt to get them table ready, I started by painting the model least likely to see play, harsh as that is. In this case it’s the guy armed with the combi rifle + E/mitter. He’s not the cheapest option, he’s not a specialist and he’s not the most destructive option, only reaching his full potential as part of a coordinated order or fire team. It’s a shame too, because I love how he turned out. Hopefully he’ll see table when I finish the next two.

SAMSUNGUpon reviewing the studio paint scheme, I was somewhat surprised to find out how much of their armour was grey rather than Imperial Service Orange. I was also surprised to see that they also wore a significant amount of ballistic vest rather than metal plates.

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Accordingly, painting him was quite simple. There are only 6 distinct colour fields after all: Grey armour, grey equipment, orange armour, blue artificial muscle, blue lights and green fabric. The grey armour was simply done with Codex Grey, washed with Abaddon Black and then highlighted with Fortress Grey. The blue lights and artificial muscle where both Hawk Turquoise with Skull White gradually added. The orange armour was done with Orange Brown washed with Cavalry Brown, highlighted with Bleached Bone. The fabric was a mix of Castellan Green and Bubonic Brown.

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So lets look at the name of those without a name.

Wú Míng is written with the characters 无名, which together mean “nameless” or “obscure”.

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We briefly came across the first character, 无/Wú, when we looked at the Zúyŏng Invincible. 无/wú means none or without, and often works as a prefix.  To say it, start with the word “tool”, take away the ‘l’, then turn the ‘t’ into an ‘w’.

The second character, 名/Míng refers to given names. This is in contrast to 姓/Xìng which means family name. ‘Míng’ rhymes with ‘ping’ and ‘thing’.

Wu Ming Logo

There are also three characters atop the logo that haven’t turned up anywhere else yet (The bottom two are Yù jīng/玉京). They are 冲锋队/ chōng fēng duì. Together this means assault corps. The first character, 冲/chōng ,stands for rushing, striking, charging  etc, and can function, amongst other things, as an adjective or verb. The second character, 锋/fēng is a noun denoting the point of a sharp tool, the edge of a sword or also the vanguard of a military formation. Combining these two gives you the equivalent of “charge”, which can be a noun or verb in the same way. The final character, 队/duì denotes a team or corps.

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“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….”

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…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.

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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.

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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.

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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.