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.

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.

Yes we Kanren

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A midfield meddler par excellence, the Kanren was an unexpected and welcome boost to the Imperial Service’s chronically understaffed selection of things that can enter play outside your deployment zone and things that can impose a negative mod during a face to face roll.

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The base profile has a fairly unique ability to clog the midfield with 5 models; 3 holoechoes and two Madtraps. He’s a competent  fighter thanks to surprise shot/surprise attack, but this profile lives for the day that he gets to finish off something juicy with his monofilament CCW after it has been frozen in place with his Madtraps. Opponents who choose to delay AROs against him for fear of copping a full burst of combi/BSG to the face on a normal roll will quickly find themselves in the threat range of the Madtraps.  On the other hand, the Madtrap profile gets little mileage out of holoprojector level 1 however, as he would have to sacrifice his forward deployment level 2 (8 inches, an orders worth of distance) just to convincingly portray a handful of niche Madtrap profiles that no one really takes on their own. For other Kanren profiles without Madtraps who can impersonate a wider selection of Yu Jing profiles convincingly, I still don’t think it’s worth giving up 8 inches to occasionally trick new or casual players. That said, on these profiles holoprojector level 1 absolutely must be used! If you have a KHD or AHD, hide it by pretending to be a forward observer. If you have a forward observer, disguise it as an AHD to scare off heavy infantry and bait KHDs into wasting orders. Then, when your regular opponents start to suspect the ruse, you can mix it up a bit by “disguising” your KHD as a KHD. I believe this kind of profile level trickery is a lot harder to spot and manage than some of the grand ruses you see suggested elsewhere.

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The minelayer profile is interesting but extremely niche. It pretty much allows the Kanren to safely reveal enemy troops from Camo, TO or HD state in two orders so long as you have a Weibing or certain Zhanyings/Cranes in your list. Minelayer itself is pretty useless unless you know a hidden enemy has deployed on the center line when you deploy the Kanren, or you know the location of his inferior/superior infiltration (Niche use against daylami and Shinobu/Oniwaban if you are psychic). Given the Kanren can already intuitive attack with his chain-colt, it’s probably not worth taking this profile over one of the specialist profiles. Whether to go with the Madtraps or specialist profiles is a tougher choice. Hopefully there will be another Kanren model down the line that is visibly a hacker so I can take two without doubling up, although with the current model lacking any visible equipment that is not common to all profiles, I would not hold my breath for this. Thanks Corvus Belli, you guys are the best!

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Painting the Kanren was fairly straight forward because he is a chunky guy with an open pose, with one arm extending far away from his body. I say this often but it is just so much easier to paint models in one piece. Orange was the orange. Greys were a spectrum of GW Abbadon Black, Dawnstone and Ceramite White. LEDS were done with Scorpion Green. Tunic is Dark Angels Green Mixed with Regal Blue and then Bleached Bone for the highlights. Skin is Vallejo Bronze Fleshtone washed with Cavalry Brown, my go to recipe.

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As I’ve gradually picked up nearly all of the Yu Jing catalog, it’s not very often these days I get to write about a Yu Jing unit with a Chinese name for the first time anymore.
Kan ren.pngPronunciation is pretty straight forward, “Kan” sounds like the can in “can of coke” and “ren” is just like “rent eats up more than half of what I earn  and the rest is Infinity”. The unit bio tells us the characters 侃/kan and 刃/ren, proudly displayed on the unit’s insignia, respectively mean “Bold Edge” which is a fair call. 刃/ren is definitely the sharp part of a sword and 侃/kan means bold in the outspoken/cocky sense. 侃刃 is not really an existing term so I do wonder where CB got the idea to name their new unit. Perhaps it is a literal translation of a Spanish concept but that’s just speculation. Untitled.png

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.

Miyamotwo Mushashi

At present I find myself wondering why I jumped at the chance to pay extra for early access to two more Miyamoto Mushashi’s than I have ever been tempted to take in a list.

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He looks cool in his alternate outfit, which I guess is part of the reason. Aside from looking cool, he’s also the most skilled melee fighter in all of Infinity, which might also have helped. He hits hard and often, and with a 6-4 move he can run like a gazelle, which may assist him in putting his talents to use.

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He has a decent dodge and a good flash pulse to help and keep him alive long enough to reach base contact, although he is likely to need assistance from long ranged weapons or smoke (other troopers) to navigate enemy AROs. All of this is theory though. I’ve never actually used him. My experience with Miyamoto boils down to a casual glance at his stats and reading all the volumes of Vagabond that were available in 2014. Hopefully I have more to talk about by the time I paint his other costume. miyamoto

That just leaves painting to talk about. I primed him with Army Painter Uniform Grey, as has been customary for my JSA troops. Aside from his skin, there are 4 major colour fields on the model. Light blue on his upper body, dark turquoise on his hat, shoulders, skirt and trousers, metal parts and leather for his webbing.

I deliberately tried to use the same blue on his upper body as I did on Yojimbo to so there would be some cohesion, whilst still being a unique looking figure. The dark turquoise is Vallejo Heavy Blackgreen mixed with GW Regal Blue and Abbadon Black. The metal parts were done the same was as on the Domaru Butai. The leather started with GW Scorched brown, and was stippled with Vallejo Cam Beige. By stippling, I mean I took an old brush, loaded some paint on the tip of the bristles, wiped most of it off until what was left was almost powdery, and then gently and repeatedly poked at the surface of the model with the tip of the brush. I don’t know if that is actually called stippling. The scabbard was done the same way but with much less “stippling”. I don’t want to talk about how the “tsunami” design on the back of his skirt turned out. Other than that I am very happy with him and he wasn’t that much of a bitch to paint, certainly not worse than any Tohaa model I’ve painted.

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All that’s left is to actually use him now.

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”.

Rollin’ Ronin

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Gaijin see him rollin’, they hating.

And rightfully so, Yojimbo is both extremely dangerous and in-your-face Japanese. He takes some of the key strengths of the Japanese Sectorial Army line up, that is, blindingly fast bikes and close combat blenders, and jams them into one 21 point profile with Crazykoalas to boot. Throw in smoke and No Wound Incapacitation and it seems too good to be true. He is however very vulnerable to bullets.

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He was also quite comfortable to paint. I painted the mounted version fully assembled, which is always a huge plus to morale. I had to really jam the brush in here and there to get underneath the seat but other than that I found nothing inaccessible. The standing version also has a nice open pose that is very conducive to painting. I can’t say I painted him in one piece, although I tried to. In the poor light of my flat, I ended up dropping him not once but four times during the process of painting, each time taking a bit with him. Luckily he made a full recovery, thanks to a pair of ratcheted surgical forceps my brother gave me, which I used to straighten the pretzel formerly known as his scabbard.

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The colours were really very simple, yet I am very happy with the effect. I started by priming the whole models with Army Painter Uniform Grey from a painfully expensive spray can. Then I painted the metallic areas, namely the servo muscles of his sword arm, the magazine of his contender, the engine and wheel hubs of the bike and the elbow pad and bracer of his right arm with Citadel Shadow Grey. I then applied heavy washes to the whole models with dilute Abbadon Black. Then, the jacket was painted with Enchanted Blue. Once the Jacket was dry, I mixed a wash out of Regal Blue, Abbadon Black and water, and painted the whole jacket with it. After that dried, I mixed Enchanted Blue with Ceramite white and painted most areas of the jacket that did not hold any of the wash. The tan areas, namely parts of the bike, belts and straps, left arm bracer and some detail on his Yojimbo’s shirt and boots, started as Vallejo WWII German Camouflage Beige, which is a very nice colour. I then sparingly added Deck Tan. Skin was painted with Bronze Fleshtone, then washed with dilute Cavalry Brown, then highlighted with the Bronze Fleshtone again. I got brave and painted the scalera of the mounted version, but failed in all attempts to give him pupils, so now he looks like someone out of Street Fighter. Can’t remember what reds I used for the rising suns, but I am sure Citadel Blood Red featured at some point.

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Funny story, Yojimbo is actually one of the only models I ever proxied (not that proxying is funny). He took out infiltrator Thrasymedes, my most hated of all the Homerotics, and that was enough to make me watch the movie and buy the figure.

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