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.

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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

Dō-maru Beauty

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For a society that thought disemboweling yourself was beautiful, disemboweling your enemies must have been the bee’s knees. That’s what these guys do. They mulch things, aesthetically. They are so committed to beautiful death that they are willing to sacrifice their lives to get that perfect hit in, although with 2 wounds and ARM 3, often all that is sacrificed is your opponents sense of agency. An unopposed normal roll on 32 is about as sure as anything gets in Infinity. I’m unaware of any of any other stats being pushed higher by any other unit.

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The number of units in the game who feel like base contact with a Dō-maru is a good place to be can comfortably be counted on one hand. Even close combat monsters that are double or triple the cost like Seraphs and Achilles, who are likely but not guaranteed to turn the brave mecha samurai into scattered mince in retaliation, will more often than not find themselves immobilised  when the bits settle. That is of course, if the Dō-maru opts to take them on head-first, which may not be necessary when you can speculatively peg E/M grenades at PH 14.

In short, I love Dō-maru. I’ve used at least one every game I’ve played as JSA since the first one I bought was painted. I’ve used two in every game since HSN3 dropped. I think duo is obscenely good value on someone who has no real ranged combat ability and therefore often has to take the long way around to the enemy to avoid getting shot. There’s no downside to breaking a duo once you are arrive at your destination, so the extra order of the 0 SWC lieutenant option gives that extra boost which permits it to dive into the enemy ranks and go to work. When he finally does run out of steam, the second one is right around the corner.

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As for the other profiles, there is one which trades the E/M CCW for a DA CCW. This one has the advantage when you want to prioritize lethal damage. When the E/M CCW crits, the enemy still gets to make an ARM roll (against DAM 14), which could potentially be frustrating if slicing your way through chaff. In these situations however, I’ve found a solid critical karate chop is enough to send foes into blissful unconsciousness. I’d much rather the rare instance of having the enemy pass their save against DAM 12 by 1 or 2, than to have missed the opportunity to mission kill a TAG in one hit. There are also some profiles with various more expensive ranged weapons. I’ve yet to use one. Maybe I will in a core link however I’ve yet to explore core links with these guys. When I do go down that road, you can bet that it will be a Haramaki link with Dō-maru thrown in, to take every weakness of the unit and replace them with disgustingly optimised ranged strength.

I was extremely lazy painting these guys. I primed them with army painter Uniform Grey, like most of my JSA. I then painted their calf plates and servo muscles with GW Shadow Grey. I painted the abdominal and thigh guards, I think they are called Kusazuri and Haidate in Japanese, using GW Castellan Green. Then I gave the whole thing a fairly heavy wash with diluted GW Abaddon Black. Once that dried, I went back and hit the raised area of the abdominal and thigh guards with Castellan Green. I then mixed some GW Bubonic Brown into the Castellan Green and picked out the edges. This is barely visible at the moment so I might go back and do it again. Mine are noticeably flatter and darker than the studio’s. I then painted on the red panels of the shoulder pads (Sode) with GW Scab Red, which was then blacklined with the same wash, and highlighted with Scab Red mixed with GW Bleached Bone. Once that was all dry (and I mean really dry, nothing says impatient like a bright red finger print on white armour), I edge highlighted all the bits that I originally did in Shadow Grey with GW Ceramite White. I then painted the armour panels with the same colour. No layering, blending, mixing or anything. I just threw white at it, lazy as anything, but keeping out of the grooves. I tried to leave a fade to the original grey but it didn’t really happen.

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The scabbards were done with GW Blood Red, with Vallejo WW2 Ger. Cam. Beige banding. Note that my friend Dragonstriker from the forums fixed me up with the paired swords from an older Dō-maru to put on the Spitfire model, who ships without swords.

The electro Katanas were done by doing a hard edge highlight over the base-coat with white, before a few layers of watered down GW Liche Purple.

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.

Guijia

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.

Gui Jia

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!