posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Infinity is a two-player tabletop wargame in 28mm scale, originally released in 2005. It's currently on its third edition. Infinity is a skirmish game, so your side might consist of between ten and twenty minis, with a playtime of around an hour and a half, depending on your familiarity with the rules.

Infinity's publisher, Corvus Belli, hails from Vigo, Spain. CB was created when a bunch of dorks who watched Ghost in the Shell too many times decided to make their RPG campaign into a wargame, and the world hasn't been quite right since.

I love this game. I originally bought into it because I just wanted to paint some nice models, and one of the army boxes was on sale off Miniature Market for dirt cheap. It turns out there's a game attached to the minis, and I've spiraled down a hole since then. I own armies for five of the eight main factions, and a giant list of stuff from the subfactions.


"But" is the word I would use to encapsulate Infinity. For every genius idea the game has, there's something mindbogglingly stupid. You've got some of the best sculpts in the industry, but this one's painted so that this lady is going to war in her panties. The rules are intricate and thematic and surprisingly balanced, but they're written and translated into English in strange and inconsistent ways. The gameplay is cinematic and quick, but the learning curve might as well be a vertical wall. This unit is an interesting toolkit piece with a nuanced background and world-class painting and sculpting, but this unit is a Pokemon that cheats. The community as a whole is great and fairly non-toxic, but they're all dumb as hell, including me.

And so on.

I strongly encourage you to drop by the Infinity thread, where everyone but the ghost of Pierzak is welcoming and will be glad to help with any inevitable rules questions you might have. Come listen to us whine about the official forums.

This game has too many moving parts and too many details to cover in its entirety, but I'm going to hit some key fluff and rules each update. Here's the basics.

Infinity is set 177 years into the future. Mankind has made it to space and spread out among the general neck of our galactic woods, and Earth is becoming something of a backwater in this shiny, cyberpunk future. Life is pretty good for almost everyone, on the whole. People live longer than we do, their cell phones are faster and smaller, and we didn't kill ourselves before we escaped the planet. If you're one of the privileged few, you may be eligible to have your mind backed up into a Cube, a memory stack that'll retain your personality if your body croaks or gets crit to death. FTL travel is possible via Guild Heighliner the Circulars, giant spaceships that traverse a wormhole network.

Humankind is not the only sentient thing in the universe. A central artificial intelligence, ALEPH, watches over most of humanity, operating the trans-planetary internet equivalent and generally keeping an eye on things; ALEPH is entirely not Friend Computer, We Swear. It turns out there's another megascale AI kicking around out there, the Evolved Intelligence. The EI and its minions, the Dominion Combined Army aggressively seek out new life and new civilizations, to incorporate their biological and technological distinctiveness into their own. The Tohaa are one of the few species that've stood up against the EI and not immediately been curb-stomped, and they've shown up on our doorstep just a few years ago to let us know about the big bad alien computer waiting for us out in space, and they're entirely not manipulating us to take care of their grudge for them, We Swear.

You may have picked up by now that Infinity owes something of a creative debt to a lot of popular sci-fi properties. Lemme be straight with you: Infinity rips off a ton of stuff, but it does so in such a gleeful and wholesale fashion that I can't be that angry at it. Plus, it often does something interesting with its premises once it's done prying the former owners' fingers off. Bear with me.

Panoceania is the single biggest player on the scene. PanO is a post-national coalition of Indian, Brazilian, ANZAC, and other miscellaneous megacorporations. They've got the biggest guns, the newest technology, and the shiniest almost-post-scarcity dystopia. They've also got the Papacy, because this game was written by a Spaniard. As a playable faction, PanO has the most gadgets and they're generally better at shooting than their opponents, but they're not as good at accomplishing objectives because they're a society run by militaristic Steve Jobses.

Yu-Jing is, thanks to the tireless revolutionary efforts of Xi Jinping, not as ridiculous as it once was. Space China is the former PRC after it ate most of its neighbors following the decline of its rival nation-states. Yu-Jing operates under the auspices of a new Imperial bureaucracy, with modern state-capitalist kleptoracy in full swing. The State Empire is a persistent also-ran to PanO, and the two powers are constantly trying to knife each other in the back. On the table, Yu-jing is good at basically everything, but they're not necessarily standouts. They're exceedingly versatile, but if you run up against a canny opponent who can play to their own strengths, you could be in trouble.

The Nomads are the cyberpunkest of the cyberpunks and animeist of the animes in this cyberpunk anime game. The Nomads are people who, for one reason or another, dropped out of society, and eventually accumulated in one of three giant motherships roaming the wormhole network. Artists, philosophers and visionary scientists are as likely to join the Nomads as underworld criminals, burnouts and crackpot libertarians. Corregidor is a former prison colony, broken free from their erstwhile masters; they provide a lot of the military muscle of the Nomads, when they're not protecting striking workers. Bakunin is unsurprisingly an anarchist experiment gone wild, where the only rule is Thou Shalt Not Endanger the Ship. Tunguska bankrolls the whole thing, which they can easily afford on account of being the biggest illicit bank and data haven in the galaxy. The Nomad playstyle involves exploiting your units ability to synergize with each other and working as a combined-arms unit.

Haqqislam is another one of those exceedingly Spanish details in this game. Haqq is a surprisingly respectful portrayal of a semi-secularist Islamic revival from the mid-21st century. If you wanted to be a space Sufi, man, have I got a faction for you. The good feelings break down a little when you look at the subfactions, which posit a simultaneous caliphate, sultinate, brotherhood of assassins, and space-Barbary Pirates, but look - nobody's a fucking suicide bomber. In the game, Haqq is big on high unit counts, with lots of light infantry and skirmishers, but not much in the way of heavy firepower. They also have the best doctors in the game; those guys in the header image for this part are here to pararescue the hell out of you.

Back before the collapse of the modern West, the remains of the US, Russian, British and French space programs put together humanity's first colony ship, the Ariadna, and launched it through a wormhole. It disappeared because the Tohha are assholes and nobody could figure out why. Turns out they didn't get Event Horizoned, but rather crashed on the planet Dawn and had to fend for themselves for a few decades, while the rest of the human race passed them by. The former first-worlders are now technologically backward, but toughened from years spent fending for themselves on a hell-planet populated by those triune wolf things from A Fire Upon the Deep. In play, Ariadna can't be beat at the camouflage game, and they combat their lower technical base (no hacking!) with being numerous and hard to put down (can't be hacked!).

ALEPH runs the Human Sphere, the general name for the human disaspora, to one degree or another. ALEPH runs on every computer available, it provides communications across the galaxy, and it's certainly respecting your privacy. ALEPH may or may not be attempting to reach apotheosis, but in the meantime, it's providing Future Google and occasionally looking out for our best interests. The creation of ALEPH lead to the original Nomads getting out of mainstream society and starting their own illicit internet, as well as a blanket ban on future AI research, because the boss doesn't like competition. ALEPH operational units can be hordes of drones, highly elite artificial lifeforms, human-like proxies for the AI itself, and other weird entities. ALEPH goes for elite lists and special snowflake rules in play.

The Combined Army are the mailed fist of the Evolved Intelligence, the setting's other evil AI. CA troops range from client species to allies of convenience to biomechanical vat-grown drone soldiers. The EI diplomatic corps, for instance, are jetpack close-combat soldiers. They're probably getting a new sub-faction shortly. Combined Army armies are really good! Expect to pay a lot of points for the privilege. If ALEPH goes for high firepower and dirty tricks, CA goes for higher firepower and dirtier tricks, like the Avatar of the EI, which is a giant stompy robot that leads your army. If you manage to kill it, which is harder than you'd think, its personality immediately jumps into another unit in your army, boosting its stats to equivalence with the Avatar.

The Tohaa are a mistake.

Originally, their deal was that they showed up and were very mysterious, and they were able to use special rules exclusive to their faction. Well, the mystery's been increasingly revealed that they're a bunch of dickish aliens using humanity to fight as their proxies against the EI, with a strong suggestion that this isn't the first time they've sent another species to extinction for their own goals. Their special rules are either now more available to the other factions or are poorly considered, like Symbiomates, which is a piece of equipment that lets you go "neener neener neener, you didn't hit me." I can't honestly say they're out of balance - anything in Infinity can die and fuck up your plans if you aren't careful - but they're not very fun to fight, they don't have a very interesting gimmick, and Flipswitch likes them.

The Non-Aligned Armies represent smaller factions, mercenary syndicates, and other oddities that won't fit well under a pre-existing faction. The Druze are a former Haqq unit, spun off into their own subfaction with some weird combined fireteams. The Japanese Secessionist Army came about from the game's latest event, where they broke out of Yu-Jing's control and became their own faction full of stereotypes. Ikari Company are evil bad-man mercenaries, largely consisting of JSA troops and some mercenary units, while StarCo are good nice-man mercenaries with a focus around named characters.

So, some moderately interesting but highly derivative fluff. What about numbers?

Broadly, you play Infinity by rolling d20s against a target number, trying to be equal to or under the TN. Let's take a look at typical profile.

The Fusilier: Cheap, reliable, expendable.

Infinity units have a lot of stats. We're not going to go over all of them, but assume the Fusilier is about as vanilla a unit as it gets.

Let's say my Fusilier wants to shoot at an opposing model. If the enemy is unable to react for whatever reason - he's unconscious, he's been hit with a glue gun, he's not looking at my model, whatever - it's an unopposed test. I roll and hope I get under Ballistic Skill 12, or better still, exactly a 12, since that's a critical hit. This is the basic action in Infinity.

There are often modifiers involved, most often in increments of plus or minus three to your attribute. I'm BS 12, and my opponent is in cover, so that's minus three to hit, so I need to roll a nine or less, but wait, I'm in an optimal range band, so I get plus six to hit with my shotgun, meaning I need to roll a 15 or less, and so on. You'll also roll varying numbers of dice based on your weapon, or if it's your turn. Speaking of:

The biggest thing to recommend Infinity is the ARO system, short for Automatic Reaction Order. Take the example above, but this time my opponent is aware of my Fusilier's attack.

Line troops are pretty comparable across factions. Alguaciles, the target of my Fusilier, are the Nomad version. They're a little better at punching and dodging, but they're not as good at shooting.

On my turn, I move my Fusilier up and fire at the enemy Alguacile. I'm in line of sight and she's facing me, so she gets to ARO - she can shoot back, or hit the dirt, or try to hack me, or any number of other reactions. This is equally applicable to anyone who can see me act, and is in a position to do something about it.

Instead of the usual IGOUGO, you're constantly playing. It keeps the game moving faster, keeps players engaged, and it's also a really good reason not to run across an open field with an entire enemy army facing you with guns drawn. It's pretty fantastic, and while there's stuff to nitpick, AROs really make the game for me.

The other significant detail about Infinity is its action economy. Again, there's not a traditional turn structure where I pick a unit to move, and then another, and then another, and once everybody's moved I'm done. Instead, each unit generates an Order, and you can spend that Order to act with that unit, or most times another unit. For instance, if I have five guys in a defensive position and I don't want them to move, and they're each generating a regular Order, I could spend all five of those Orders on a rambo unit and charge him up the board, shooting or double-moving or whatever else is situationally relevant. Some units only provide Order to themselves, and others have more than one Order.

Finally, it's not a systemic thing, but Infinity does a superlative job with its rules distribution. Because they picked the most generic name possible, the Infinity website is You can download the rules, in their entirety, for free. You only need to buy a book if you want the fluff and the pretty pictures. The support is mostly great, too - the rulebooks are living documents, so if there's a balance change or new units introduced, all the changes get rolled into the latest file set. There's also an army builder that will link you to the game's rules wiki, so you can browse a particular faction's roster, check out a particular unit, and then look up a particular detail with a click or two.

Their digital support is really excellent conceptually, but sometimes they introduce an FAQ listing that just makes things more confusing, or they didn't edit the copy well enough for Spanish-to-English issues, or they rushed the document to make a deadline, or some other damn foolish thing. They keep track of the army lists people create with the builder, so they know what's getting used and what's unloved for balance tweaks, but sometimes this is used as a reason to squat a subfaction. You can manage a tournament entirely with their provided framework, but sometimes it craps out for no good reason.

Infinity is a game that could be a world-beater, if its developers could just resist the urge to shoot themselves in the foot every so often.

Next: PanOceania.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post


Panoceania is the evolution of a pan-national coalition of states in the global South who, during the decline of the traditional first world powers, decided they'd had enough of this garbage, joined together, and conquered the stars. Panoceanians are a cosmopolitan people, obsessed with glitz and the Newest Thing, and in spite of the presence of Australians there's not much in the way of ethnic hatred - as long as you're one of us, we don't care where you're from. If you're from Yu-jing, well, fuck you.

PanO rides a massive industrial base fueled by a consumer culture the likes of which even we've never seen, and it's all made possible because they were the first people to win by gambling on FTL space travel. Everything in PanO looks like Syd Mead drew an Apple store mating with a Catholic cathedral.

The Hyperpower has dispensed with traditional electoral politics, reasoning that if politicians are going to be bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists in the first place, why not skip the middleman and run everything through competing political lobbies? A standard citizen gets to vote for the executive head of government, while the legislative body is formed from candidates put forth by whichever hyper-PAC gets enough attention and greases enough palms.

Life for the average citizen in this blasted hellscape is actually pretty good. There's a basic universal income, since the corporations want you to be able to buy their stuff. Corruption is manageable, as long as you know the right people, and since there's a friendly-ish AI watching over everyone at every moment of their lives, people actually do have the perfect knowledge required to make a free-market capitalist system work at something approaching real efficiency. The citizenry live in an almost post-scarcity society, although they'll probably never get fully over the hump, since that'd impact someone's bottom line. Economic disparity is still there - it's just there's enough going around right now for almost everyone to get a piece of the pie. The middle class is numerous and prosperous just living off what's left after the obscenely wealthy have their turn.

Of course, one of the founding nations of Panoceania was Brazil, so there's space favelas. Ateks - atechnological citizens - don't benefit from any of this libertarian dreamland. Whether economic or medical or societal in nature, ateks are a people apart in PanO society. There's a bit in the second fluff book about a news story; some ateks were riding in their autopiloted car and got into a fatal crash. Space Google had pushed an update to Space Maps that didn't work on older cars.The vox pop part of the story is expressing annoyance at the traffic delays the accident caused, and getting pissed off the ateks didn't buy a newer car, like everyone else. It's heavy-handed, but I liked it.

The Catholic Church is resurgent these days, and it's one of the major lobbyists in Panoceania. You may have some questions about why a spacefaring nation that contains all of the Indian subcontinent, as well as Australia and New Zealand, would be so gung-ho about Catholicism. The actual answer is "because the writers are Spanish and wanted some space knights," but the in-fiction justification is slightly more complicated.

Partially, it's hand-waved away that the papacy and the cardinals decided Vatican II needed to become the latest hot franchise, to reorganize and regenerate Christianity in a godless and technocratic age. A much better reason is that the Catholic Church can actually bring you back from the dead now.

Infinity loves its magic metamaterials. There's a Vibranium knockoff, there's some vaguely nanotech stuff, there's man-machine interfaces, and there's the even less-well-defined Silk. Silk is something that somehow enables the mapping of the human brain, as well as recording it to a backup device called a Cube. If the Church deems you eligible for such an exalted benediction, if you croak, you'll get backed up into a new clone body... if they can find your backup. The Church grants this honor to the elite of society, which means you need money to buy an indulgence, you need fame to get public opinion on your side, or you need to join the army and get promoted enough. It's never adequately explained how the Church got a monopoly on this technology within PanO's control, but if you accept it as an initial premise, coming back from the dead is a pretty good reason to eat some crackers and apologize to the man in the box.


Neoterra was the first exoplanet discovered that could sustain human life, if you don't count Dawn and the wreck of the Ariadna. Turns out it was also a resource-rich paradise world. Rich people, military generals and the Pope live here. You can tell it's the future, because instead of the Pentagon, they have the Hexahedron.

Aconticimento is pronounced "ah-CON-tih-sih-men-toh," since that's apparently a stumbling block for some folks. The second habitable world outside our system, and another paradise planet. Aconticimento was a sprawling forest biome before we moved in, bulldozed most of the native life, and set up massive farms and factories. It's home to the largest national park in the Human Sphere, which is what remains of the natural life on the planet. Aconticimento has a distinctly Brazilian flavor to it.

Varuna was the third habitable planet we found, and the first with any kind of intelligent alien life, a bunch of fish-men that look suspiciously like Abe Sapien. Because PanO are a bunch of cool dudes, they announced the natives were semi-sentient, dubbed them "helots," and enslaved them. Varuna is famous for its resorts, biotech research, and the occasional terrorist attack from free helots.

Svalarheima was discovered by a PanO exploration ship, and it's like the Labrador peninsula covering an entire planet. Some scrub at the equator is about the only respite anyone gets from ice and snow and rock. It sucks to live here, but the planet is rich in natural resources, including Vibranium Tesium, which somehow is super armor and super bullets and also makes wormhole drives work. PanO doesn't own this world outright - by the time it was discovered, Yu-Jing had gotten into the colonizing game, and established their own colony on the planet before PanO could fully protect it militarily. Neither power is happy about this state of affairs, and they've fought several colonial wars over the rights to this and other similar planets, like

Paradiso, a jungle planet also well-endowed with magic nouns. PanO and Yu-Jing originally both established footholds on the planet, but it's most notable for being the first place that humanity ran into the Combined Army, who just sort of jumped into the system and started blasting everything in their path. Paradiso was the setting for Infinity's big narrative campaign, and is otherwise very boring.

Every general faction in Infinity has subfactions, called Sectorials. You can play vanilla Pano, or you could take an army roster with different composition from Neoterra, for instance. Vanilla armies tend to be more flexible, since you get to pick from a much wider selection of units. Sectorials tend to have more focused playstyles, and gain access to the use of fireteams.

Your ability as an Infinity player will boil down to order efficiency. It’s the action economy, stupid. Positioning, weapons selection, strategy, all of that is going to affect how much you get out of each order spent, and in turn that’s going to decide your game. Normally, you’d spend an order, pick a dude to work with it, and they’d go do their thing.

Fireteams are a bundle of between one and five units - and remember, you’re going to have between ten and twenty guys on the board at a time - that can all act off the expenditure of one order.

That’s a really big deal. It’s also not the silver bullet you might think. Fireteams have to maintain coherency, so that every unit is within eight inches of the fireteam leader; your average board is four feet by four feet and covered in terrain, so that’s not easy. It also means that they’re susceptible to template weapons, which tend to be eight inches across. Lots of stuff breaks fireteams; you can break your own fireteam if you spend the wrong kind of order or do the wrong action. Still, they’re quite nice if you’ve got them.

The Neoterran Capitaline Army sectorial is the most PanO of their subfactions. NCA gets a ton of guns and people who know how to use them, they get fancy toys like Ghost in the Shell optic camouflage, tools to defeat camo and impersonation, and really killy elite troop options. They also have crap for specialists. NCA is great at killing the other guy, but a significant portion of Infinity mission objectives are about occupying space, taking a point, or accomplishing a task. Play NCA if you want to be the elitest of the elitists.

The Shock Army of Aconticimento is what you play if you want to run PanO but don’t want to be justifiably mocked for your choices. They’re a bunch of cool jungle fighters who are just as killy as other PanO troops, but more mobile and with better Willpower scores all around, which one of the factions weaknesses; Willpower is the stat rolled to push a button on a console, hack a computer, or doctor a target back from death. While NCA and SAA both get ALEPH units, to indicate their slightly more elite status over regular PanO, SAA gets the ones you’d actually want to take. Aconticimento is really cool, good for players who want to punch hard but also want to think, and they also just got squatted.

See, Corvus Belli does boxes, large boxes, and blister packs. So they have hundreds of SKUs that retailers need to try and deal with. CB’s solution is to stop production on certain sectorials altogether. They haven’t thrown anybody down the memory hole (recently), and the rules are still there, but these armies also aren’t getting any updates any time soon, and god help you if you played the French, where you had bad rules and bad sculpts. It’s not a great look for CB. I can understand why they did it, but since I’ve been hit by this shutdown of support with very little warning ahead of time, I’m kinda salty about it.

SAA will be replaced by the Varuna sectorial, so you can live out your dreams of playing with space-SEALS and owning a plantation of alien slaves while the Miami Vice theme plays in the background. Rules are pending.

The Military Orders are the militant wing of the Catholic Church. Do you like Space Marines? Do you like going to a game store and screaming “Deus vult” unironically? Then have I got a fucking treat for you.

MO really isn’t that bad. They’re very good at playing an elite list, where you’ve got a fireteam of heavy infantry knights with some support specialists. They’ve got rich and flavorful backgrounds, and pretty cool sculpts, for the most part. The picture above shows a Hospitaler Knight on the right, a magister knight on the left, and one of five Joans of Arc front and center (hold on, we’ll get there). Because nerds, of course there used to be Templar Knights, but they got purged for making another true AI. MO mostly suffers from a surfeit of Those Guys on the Internet, and occasionally in real life.

Next up: the PanO unit roundup.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Panoceania units on parade


You’ve seen Fusiliers before. They’re a good example of your basic line infantry, though, and therefore a good excuse to talk about some generalities.

Here’s how an Infinity profile breaks down.

LI is Light Infantry, a general classification. You can expect light infantry in general to be cheap, to move 4-4, and to provide a regular order. They carry a broadly comparable selection of weapons, and are mostly interchangeable across factions, with some minor tweaks - Fusiliers are shootier than most line infantry, but have worse willpower. Most of them have a Cube, the resurrection thingy, which is the blue square with the staggered silhouettes in it.

The green circle-and-triangle means each Fusilier you take generates one Regular Order. You can spend a regular order on its owner, or anyone else in your army. It’s a good idea to have a stash of these in your list to blow on rambo units, infiltrating specialists, and other power pieces. Orders also come in other flavors, like Irregular (you can only spend that order on the unit that generates it), Impetuous (usually in addition to a regular or irregular order, you may spend that order, before any other type of order, on the unit that generates it, AND they must move as far as possible towards the nearest enemy), Extremely Impetuous (like impetuous, but you MUST spend it or spend another order to cancel it), and Lieutenant Orders.

Your army must have a Lieutenant. Sometimes this will be obvious, sometimes you can hide your lieutenant. Your LT generates an order that they can use for their own purposes, but if you spend it, you reveal who your LT is. Either way, if your lieutenant is killed, it can wreck your day as your force panics, and all your regular orders are converted to irregular orders at the start of your next turn, since now it’s every man for himself. Some types of units are immune to this panic. Why would you ever spend that order, then?

Sometimes, you just have to have one extra order to score points in a round. Other times, your LT is a total beast and they can eat most of what gets thrown at them, so they get a free action at the cost of some extra risk. Sometimes your opponent has puzzled out which of your models is your lieutenant and is actively working to assassinate them, and you may as well get the extra order out of them before they get merked. It’s a balancing act, and it’s a pretty nice little minigame that doesn’t require a lot of rules bloat.

Back to stats. MOV (Movement) is given in two values, the first and second distances you move in an order, expressed here in inches; it’s a Spanish game, so there’s also a metric version for you Euros. A Fusilier moves four inches their first move action, and if they move again in the same order, move an additional four inches. Compare this to someone who moves 6-2. If they’re both double-moving, they end up the same. But the 6-2 move guy can move and shoot/dodge/whatever and get up the board faster. Also compare with medium infantry, that tend to be better equipped and more skilled, but usually only move 4-2.

CC is Close Combat, and BS is Ballistic Skill. Price-is-Right roll these to melee or ranged attack a fella, respectively. CC 13 is about average, while BS 11 is more average for your grunts. Infinity is very much a game focused around ranged combat, so keep that in mind.

PH is Physique, your trooper’s general burliness and poise. PH is used for dodging attacks, throwing grenades, resisting certain statuses, and some other actions. 10’s not great, to be honest. A fifty-fifty chance of avoiding a bullet isn’t something to bank on in this game.

WP is Willpower, used to resist freaking out when you get shot, passing objective tests, using advanced skills, resisting statuses, and other things. PanO doesn’t do well at WP. Elite units are generally higher WP than their pleb counterparts, even if they won’t be actively using the attribute.

ARM/BTS stand for Armor and Bio-technological Shield. Save vs. physical and save vs. magic, in short. They both work the same way. Let’s say Fusilier Angus gets hit by a rifle shot. The rifle is listed as Damage 13, along with a bunch of other stats we’re ignoring for the time being. Armor/BTS rolls go the opposite direction, because negative AC is bad, same as damage 1 being more dangerous than damage 20. You roll a d20 and add your armor or BTS value, and you must be above the damage threshold - if you hit exactly the value, you still eat dirt. If Angus rolls a 12 here, his total armor roll is 13, and he fails. If he were armor 5, which is pretty high up there, he’d need to roll a 9 or better, and so on.

You want to avoid getting shot or hacked or exploded as a general rule, because otherwise the suppression mechanic kicks in. If you get hit, and either pass your ARM/BTS roll and don’t take damage, or fail and take damage and are not instantly incapacitated, your trooper has to pass a WIP check (called a Guts Roll) to stay still. Pass and you shrug off the fact you came within a hair’s breadth of dying, NBD. If you fail your WIP check, as PanO guys are wont to do, you have to take cover. If you’re near cover, you have to move to it. If you’re in partial cover, you have to move into total concealment from the thing that attacked you. If you’re out in the open, you drop prone, etc. You can never tuck and roll towards the enemy who attacked you, and you can’t run away into base to base contact with another enemy.

W (or sometimes STR, if it’s a machine) are Wounds or Structure. They represent how many hits you can take before you lose consciousness. One wound, one failed armor check, unconscious. This is your trooper bleeding out. They can also be overkilled - if your Fusilier is hit by a five-die burst, and all of them cause damage, he’s instantly dead, no chance of revival. More W/STR == better than.

S stands for Silhouette, and is Infinity’s way of resolving the problems inherent to a true line-of-sight system. Models have a Silhouette value from 1 to 7, or 8 if you’re the Haqqislam spider-tank. Silhouettes are arbitrary values based on the type of unit, so the sculptors can do crazy interesting poses and not have to worry about a line trooper crouching having a mechanical advantage. There’s a chart [url=”]here[/url] for a more graphical representation. Volume is cubic, if you recall basic math, and size adds up fast. You want to be as small as possible, so less of you is exposed to get shot at. On the flip side, tall stuff can hurdle terrain and cover that smaller models would have to stop and climb over. I’ve found this is rarely super important, but YMMV.

AVA is for availability. This determines how many of a given unit you can take in your list. You could take an unlimited number of the non-lieutenant Fusliers in your PanO list, but you wouldn’t want to. Sectorials will have different availabilities, so while you can only take so many Bolts in a vanilla list, you can have as many as you can afford in a Neoterran Capitaline Army list. Really elite units will have an AVA of 1 or 2, for the most part, with 4 or 5 being about average.

There’s the basics, finally. Let’s take a closer look at Fusilier loadouts.

Your average dude is a grunt with a rifle. Other profiles have things like a rocket or a grenade launcher, sniper rifles, machine guns, and so forth. There are also specialists, like the paramedic, hacker and forward observer profiles. These are the guys you need to accomplish objectives in certain missions. Sometimes you score points in a game of Infinity by killing the other guy. Other times, you have to control terrain. A lot of the time, you’ll need to hack a computer, doctor a civilian target, break into a weapons locker, etc. Specialists are the guys who do that, while your weapons-carriers focus on shooting stuff and locking down fire lanes.

Cost is a factor. Why take a jerk with a rifle when you could have them all carrying machine guns? The average game of Infinity has a 300-point limit. So, if you were really bad at making decisions, you could take 29 rifle Fusiliers and one Fusilier lieutenant, for 300 points. There’s also SWC, or Support Weapons Cost. Nicer toys cost SWC, which is vastly more limited. You get 1 SWC per 50 points allowed, so a 300 point cap gives you 6 SWC to work with. Notice one machine gunner or missileer costs 1.5, a full quarter of your cool toys pool. Some sectorials will have the same profile as vanilla with a different SWC value to represent greater or lesser access to certain guns or equipment.

Trauma Doc

I’m going to show you the crappy parts of Infinity, too. The early sculpts, like the Trauma Doc, can get pretty rough. But the doctor here is not just screaming in anguish because of bad sculpting; chances are good the blood of your soldiers is on her hands.

When a unit is hit and loses all its HP, it’s unconscious unless it’s overkilled, or disabled if it’s a drone or tank or what have you. You can use a paramedic or a doctor to try and revive them, so they keep contributing to your order pool, as well as being able to do stuff on account of being alive.

Paramedics are cheap specialists and handy, but they only have a medikit. You can use a magical medical dart or something to revive people at a distance, which means you must first pass a BS check to hit them, and all relevant modifiers (cover, any stealth gear, range, conditions) apply. Risky to start with. Once you’ve hit them with the feel-good juice, the target must then make a PH-3 roll. So, if you manage to hit your fallen comrade in the first place, Fusilier Angus has to make a roll of 7 or less to stand back up with one Wound. Otherwise, the shock to the target’s system is too much, and they’re dead and wiped off the table. Doctors, by comparison, can’t make doctoring rolls at a distance, but they make their check against their unmodified Willpower. That’s great if you’re playing Haqq and have the best doctors in the game, who get a +3 to their roll and start at WIP 14. If you’re running PanO, and you really, really need your doctor to make a 60% chance of fixing their friend...well, prayer is appropriate at times like these.


Infinity gets complex fast. Check out this profile.

Auxilia are basically identical to Fusiliers, but one point of BS less. A little pricier, because they come with an Auxbot, that unicycle robot thing up in the picture. The green circuit board symbol means the unit can be hacked.

Auxilia and their Auxbot use the Ghost: Synchronized rule, which means each pair of infantry and robot act off one order. If you’re in a position to ARO against them, you have to pick one to act on. There’s a host of other complications, but the important part is that they touch on another point of Infinity strategy: forcing your opponent to make a choice between two bad decisions.

See, Auxilia carry a rifle just like basic Fusiliers, while their bot has a heavy flamethrower. Template weapons in Infinity are to be feared, flamethrowers especially. They ignore cover, for starters, and they affect everything they touch. The heavy flamethrower template is about eight inches long and three or so at its widest point, so it can conceivably take out an entire fireteam if they’re arranged badly. Flamethrowers don’t roll to hit, they’re just placed and if you don’t dodge out of the attack, you take damage. If you’re hit with a flamethrower, it keeps dealing damage until you make a successful Armor roll.And you don’t get to shoot back against a flamethrower; when you’re the target of an attack, you can respond by dodging, shooting back, or whatever else is applicable.

What you do if you really want to make someone suffer is to put them in a position where the Auxilia and the Auxbot can both hit their model, so they have to decide between shooting back against the Auxilia and potentially disabling both infantry and bot, or dodging and potentially wasting their ARO.


After all those mechanics notes, this one’s a lot lighter. Bolts are the primary Australian contingent. Among their arsenal of stereotypes is the skill Bioimmunity, which means they’re immune to the special effects of ammo eg being immune to poison, and tossing out Drop Bears, little throwable mines in the form of a koala head. Shockingly, there are not Bolts with giant boots or corks dangling from their helmets.

Bolts are also immune to the effects of your LT getting plastered, and they’re medium infantry. They’re still not hackable, but their MOV is 4-2. MI got a little boost in the latest Infinity season, with the ability to deploy further up the board right off the bat. It’s a nice little rules patch.

Order Sergeant

Order Sergeants are the men-at-arms of the Military Orders. They’re better at melee combat, and have access to some nicer gear than the standard PanO infantry, they’ve got a whole 13 WIP, and they’re pricier. Like the rest of the Military Order troops, they’re Religious, which means when they take a hit on the chin, in a reversal of the normal order they have to make a WIP check to fall back, plus they don’t run away when your army is in retreat. That’s neat, if not always desirable, but the big deal here are the specialist sergeants.

The Spec Sergeants get TO Camouflage and Infiltration. TO is a pretty big deal in and of itself. Thermoptic Camouflage is the invisibility suit from Ghost in the Shell. Ordinarily, camouflage puts you into a marker state where you just can’t be acted against unless your opponent makes a check to reveal your unit, or makes a WIP check to blind-fire at you with an appropriate weapon. That’s a really powerful ability in and of itself, which we’ll get into more when I cover the Ariadna units. Most camo also imposes a -3 penalty against hitting your unit, which can stack with cover, for another -3, plus or minus range modifiers. TO’s even better - if you’ve exposed your unit from the marker state, it’s a -6 penalty to hit you. A TO unit in cover starts at -9 to be hit, a negative 45% chance to hit them. That’s crazy good already.

As if that weren’t enough, TO units can also use the Hidden Deployment skill. Instead of putting your unit down during deployment, you just note down exactly where it is and reveal it at your leisure. It’s just not there until it is, so while it’s not giving an order to your pool, it also can’t be acted on by your opponent in any way, except to be turned up by specialized sensor units, and then they have to deal with the camo penalties from above.

Ordinarily, there’s a set deployment zone based on the mission. On a 4’x4’ table, you can typically deploy up to 12” from your table edge. With Infiltration, you can elect to deploy anywhere on your half of the table, or you can make a PH-3 roll to deploy anywhere on your opponent’s side of the table, barring their deployment zone.

So, there may be some asshole with a sniper rifle hiding in your vulnerable back line the whole game, and you’d never know until he uncloaks and shoots your guys in the back. Surprise!


Survivors of a desperate last stand against the Combined Army on Paradiso. Every setting can generally be improved by the addition of Maori warriors. Crocmen have many of the same abilities as the TO infiltrating Spec Sergeants, but can also do a wicked haka.


Infinity has a problem with women. Some of the newer figures are actually pretty good, but by and large, in 2177 humanity has apparently evolved some sort of pronounced sexual dimorphism that requires women to wear form-fitting power armor and combat heels.

There’s a range of models called the Bootleg series. Ostensibly, the Bootlegs are more display pieces, meant for the sculptors to be able to cut loose and make some really elaborate models, ready-made dioramas, that kinda thing. What it turned out to be is mostly a set of one-handed sculptures, which included the original Tech-bee lounging in her underwear on a disassembled mecha.


Tech-bees are supposed to be like US Navy Seabees, but they’re really not alike at all, so screw you Gutier. Apart from conditioning nerds to get erect at the sight of a pewter miniature, Tech-bees provide an irregular order and a +1 to your Engineer’s fix-stuff rolls.


L-R: Magister Knight, Hospitaller Knight, Santiago Knight, Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, Montessa Knight

Knights and Military Orders in general are meant to tap into the Space Marine zeitgeist. An MO army will typically have ten to twelve orders, and feature a pain train of heavy infantry knight fireteams.

Father-Knights are ordained members of the Church, and generally act as the level heads to the more outrageous personalities of the knightly orders, per the fluff. Which is funny, because at MOV 4-4, CC 23, ARM 5, BTS 9 and two Wounds, they can really rip shit. They also have the Assault skill, where as a full action order your model can move its full MOV value and make a melee attack. Curiously, while there are female sculpts for the other knights, Father-Knights are all male. It remains to be seen if the Church has allowed the ordination of women two hundred years into the future.

Hospitallers are the big men and women on the monastery campus. They’re the biggest and most popular of the knightly orders, especially after they conspired with the college of cardinals to dissolve the Knights Templar and take their shit. The common folk love the Hospitallers because of their medical aid programs, and the military loves them because they’re the PanO pararescue corps. Hospitallers are less killy and a little less durable than Father-Knights, but they’re still strong pieces for a fair bit cheaper, with Doctor specialist options. Hospitallers, like many of the knightly orders, let their zeal get the better of them in a fight, and have the Frenzy rule. Once they kill an enemy, they gain an Extremely Impetuous order. Keeping them in a fireteam means they stay regular, and the common heavy infantry fireteam in MO is a couple of Hospitaler doctors and some Magister Knights to fill out the team for cheap.

Magister Knights have devoted themselves entirely to the Church’s military, following strict vows of poverty. They keep their heads shaved so that anyone can see their military implants. They eschew public recognition and praise, preferring to spend their time murdering pagans and heretics. Magisters are a little psychotically dedicated to killing, so they have Frenzy as well. They’re lightly armored, with light shotguns and disposable rocket launchers. They’re also 23 points for the standard model, about half the cost of other knights. Unlike many units, they can’t form a fireteam of their own, but require pairing with either Hospitalers or Santiagos.

Monstessa Knights are the lightest of the standard knights, formed when the Church looked at Aconticimento and said “Wait a minute, we don’t have a military presence there.” They’re 3 ARM and 3 BTS, with slightly lower stats than a Hospitaler, but for a higher price. I think they’re a touch expensive, unfortunately, which is a shame because the Mechanized Deployment skill they have lets them deploy in a group with any other MD units anywhere in your half of the table. Montessas can form a two-man fireteam with each other, but that’s about a hundred points for two guys with very little gain in order efficiency. A remorseful pass, since the model is great.

Sepulchrist Knights are the last line of defense for Military Order positions, and are the order primarily charged with the protection of Earth and all its holy sites. They’re too expensive for what you get, but they do have very nice purple robes.

Teutonic Knights are one of the newest knightly orders, formed in response to the invasion of the Combined Army. They’re meant to be lighter knights, built for close combat, and constructed to fight against CA units. They’re reasonably priced, but not good at much but swording aliens. They have Frenzy as well as the Berserk skill, which is kinda neat - instead of making opposed rolls, you and your opponent roll unopposed Close Combat attacks, giving yourself a +6 to hit. You might both kill each other, depending on the breaks. If you absolutely gotta have a thing dead, Berserk’s certainly a way to try. Corvus Belli was absolutely certain that Teutons were going to be a big hit in Central Europe and Russia, and don’t seem to get why that went over like a fart in church.

The Santiago Knights are my guys, and it’s a shame there’s not a lot of reasons to take them over Hospitallers. Stats-wise, they’re approximate to Hospitalers, with slightly weaker statlines and slightly higher prices. Their equipment lets them ignore facing, and they ignore the effects of zero-g terrain. Their real weakness is that their weapons loadouts are all short range, if highly devastating, because these are literal space knights. The Order of Santiago has a mandate to defend pilgrims, and that means spaceships. In addition to a generally mendicant life wandering the wormhole network, Santiagos are specialists in zero-g boarding actions. They also look great, with that Diego Velasquez chique.

TAG rundown

Above: Squalo with Fusiliers for scale

Nerds love giant robots, and Infinity delivers in spades. Infinity has some great sculpts in general, and the Tactical Armored Gears (because we wanted a cool acronym for TAG) are a big factor in a lot of people’s decisions to pick up the game.

And that’s a problem, because TAGs are not something you want to use in your first couple of games. TAGs do a pretty good job of operating like tanks - they’re well armored (light TAGs start at ARM 5, and can go as high as ARM 10) and carry heavy weapons that can shred entire squads (like chain railguns, giant machine guns with programmable ammo, and of course, flamethrowers). They’re also really big targets, both literally and in terms of value. If you spend between seventy and 150 points on one order, you bet I’m going to try and kill the hell out of it.

Plus what can really break a newbie’s heart are critical hits. If my grunt gets spectacularly lucky against your showpiece model TAG, rolls three dice and gets exactly the number she needs to hit on each die, those hits bypass armor and automatically deal a point of damage. All that armor, all those huge guns, going to down to a couple of really lucky shots. It’s not probable, but it does happen, and golly does it suck to experience.

PanO TAGs have a lot of cool toys the other factions don’t get. All of them are Remote Presence machines, as opposed to piloted craft. Because they’re piloted by some goon in a trailer away from the frontlines, Remote Presence machines can elect to pass or fail their Guts Roll as they choose. Because there’s not any squish meat inside, when they get overkilled, they have an extra hitpoint they can take before they’re destroyed outright. They’re still knocked out, it’s just harder to coup de grace them.

The Squalo is the closest thing PanO has to a “standard” TAG. They’re MOV 6-4, CC 18, BS 15, PH 17, WIP 12, ARM 8, BTS 6, STR 3, S 7, and availability 2, if you like each one running you 93 points and 2 SWC each. The secret to Squalo success is to take the Heavy Grenade Launcher profile, so you can sit back and drop bombs on the other guy at range from behind concealment.

The Uhlan, the Neoterra TAG, and the Cutter, the Varuna model, have regular and TO camouflage respectively. You tend not to have larger models with camouflage, since it tends to give away what they are; nothing else in the game has TO camo and a 55mm base.

The Tikbalang, Aconticimento’s TAG, has jungle abilities and an extremely sweet giant sword. There used to be a special character Tikbalang, Toni Macayana. She was an upgraded version with better stats and mines, and honestly, she was a little OP. Tony bought it in an event that temporarily introduced some special characters for all factions, who in turn were whittled down to one survivor who got assimilated into the Combined Army. SAA also has the Dragao, which is like a Squalo with a railgun instead of an HMG.

The Knights get their own TAG, the Seraph. It’s got angel wings for jump abilities and it looks an awful lot like Eva Unit-00. It’s not very good, but it does have an Auxbot. If you play PanO, you’re gonna have a lot of Auxbots in very short order.

The final PanO TAG is the Jotum, built on Svalarheima. The Jotum is basically a winterized Squalo, built off the same framework as all the other PanO TAGS, and then they threw a shitload of armor on top of it. The really neat part is that when you build the model, you’re actually slapping armor plating on an underframe, like a Gundam model. It’s got the highest armor rating in the game at 10, with BTS 9 to boot. It’s hard to kill a Jotum in a firefight.

Swiss Guard

After all that talk about TAGs, going back to infantry may be a little underwhelming. Here’s the thing though - this gives you all the good parts of a TAG for cheaper with fewer liabilities.

Swiss Guards have generally good stats, although despite the sweet zweihander you probably don’t want to let this guy get into close combat. He’s ARM 5, BTS 6, two wounds, and equipped with TO camo. Swiss can’t do the far up the field shenanigans, but they can still pop out of hiding in cover somewhere and wreck shop, especially since they all come with some serious business heavy weapons. A missile launcher on a roof somewhere that’s nearly impossible to hit, quite durable when you do manage to pop it, and only person-sized is a force to be reckoned with.

As with the current papal Swiss Guard, all members of the group must be natural citizens of a Swiss canton, of good moral and legal character, mustered out of the Swiss armed forces, and generally a group of martial experts. Unlike the current papal contingent, the Infinity Swiss Guard lets women join. Since these are still the guys who literally protect the Space Pope, and also stand around wearing slashed coats and stockings, they’re only detached to other duties on special occasions.

Joan and Recreations

ALEPH, determined to prove that even nigh-omniscient AIs can make dumb decisions, decided that having aspects of itself downloaded into androids just wasn’t cutting it. How can it gain information on the big human questions, all Data-like, when it only has access to every bit of communication in the entire human sphere? Clearly, more elaborate measures were required. To whit, it decided to simulate what it imagined historical and fictional personalities might be and dump them into highly advanced cybernetic bodies.

If ALEPH is evil, at least we can take some solace in the fact that it appears to be very stupid. Strap in, the Recreations are only going to get weirder.

Jeanne d’Arc (1412-1431, 215X-current), former crispy critter, Catholic saint and possible schizophrenic, was simulated by ALEPH, retrained and rebuilt with vastly improved tactical and combat abilities, and unleashed on the enemies of Panoceania. Joan joined the Hospitallers at the bottom rung, and quickly climbed the ladder during PanO’s colonial wars with Yu Jing and the eventual EI invasion. She was transferred to the Order of Santiago (hence her Hospitaller tabard and Santiago shoulder plate) to take part in the defenses of Mars and Neoterra, the latter of which she commanded. Joan is a brilliant strategist and charismatic beyond description.

If you see Joan on the table, kill her. She has two profiles, one built for direct combat and another for maneuvering. Joan 1.0 is MOV 4-4, CC 23, BS 15, PH 15, WIP 15, ARM 5, BTS 6, two wounds, S2, and unsurprisingly, AVA 1. Joan 2.0 is MOV 6-2, at the cost of 1 PH and 2 ARM.

Her skills are superb. She can choose to fail her Guts Roll or stand her ground; she has No Wound Incapacitation, which gives her an effective extra Wound in most circumstances; she’s got Martial Arts level 3, which lets her pick between an extra +3 damage or giving herself a simultaneous boost to her close combat rolls and a penalty to her target’s roll, and her mobility profile has an extra movement bonus when she dodges in the reactive turn. She’s got a close-range machine gun and a template weapon, so she can force that bad decision on her opponents all by herself. She can pick between an AP sword, which halves the target’s Armor rating, or a double action weapon, which effectively doubles the number of hits she inflicts. She costs about 50 points, so she’s just a hair cheaper than some of the other knights, but if you take her as your Lieutenant, and if you take her you will, she gives you SWC.

Forget all of that crap, because she also has Inspiring Leadership. When an Inspiring Leadership character is your LT, you may treat any Irregular orders as Regular. Would you like to pay three or five points for an order you can spend on anybody? Yes, yes you would. The only thing that keeps this from being broken is PanO’s relative lack of cheap irregular orders.

In a Military Orders list, Joan can also rock out with the band, a fireteam of up to four other Hospitallers or Santiagos.

Joan lists tend to rely very heavily on her presence, and that's probably a mistake, because as soon as she comes out, she's priority number one. That she frequently rolls around with a bunch of doctors just as beastly as her complicates matters. You can try and shoot her down, or you can take the alternative means of conflict resolution with highly elite lists, and that's to go murder their squishier units that feed the big buff dudes orders.

Joan, along with several of the other Recreations, is something of a darling at the Corvus Belli offices. There are no less than five sculpts of her, two for each of her profiles and one limited release for Angel Giraldez’s painting book. I get the impression she’s somebody’s waifu, because even her enemies love and respect Joan. Still, she’s a friggin’ beast. I’d take her in any army, given the chance.

Next: Yu Jing, and headaches for Sinologists.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Yu Jing, the State Empire

There’s an illustration in the core book that I unfortunately couldn’t find a digital copy of, with an Imperial agent holding a civilian by the face and scanning their retina with some kind of vaguely sinister hand tool.

Anyway, buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

After the collapse of the US and the former first world imperial powers, China stepped up to the plate. They absorbed, conquered, or bought out most of their neighbors, including the Koreas, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, chunks of Indonesia, Mongolia, and so on. If it wasn’t useless territory or part of the rapidly forming coalition that would become Panoceania, it’s probably China by now.

The problem then became how to forge a new national identity for all these disparate ethnic groups (note that the book specifically calls out Uighurs as still around at this point in the future timeline, so that’s cheerfully optimistic). Traditional Chinese medicine for such ills, IE you’re either Han or you’re out, would meet too much resistance from the newly acquired territories. Granting any kind of autonomy to the new provinces was clearly out of the question. What’s a newly ascendant imperial power to do?

The answer, apparently, is to take the question literally and reform the seat of the Chinese emperor, the logic being that Imperial China was the last time the country ruled over most of the surrounding nations.

Hold on, it gets better.

So the Party decides that it’ll keep control of legislative functions and most of the executive functions. The throne will preside over the judiciary, with the Emperor sitting on the Supreme Court himself. I do actually like the detail that all claimants to the throne must pass the bar exam from Harvard Space Law before they’ll be recognized, since you really do need to be a no-foolin’ legal scholar to be Emperor. The Court was given the ability to enforce its rulings outside of the Party structure, leading to the creation of the Imperial Service. Everyone, from the highest judges of the land to the lowest beat cop, answer to the throne.

Having made what is at least on the surface a sensible decision in terms of political power structures, Interruptor goes on to tell us that the Party specifically sought out the last descendants of the Ming and Qing dynasties, and set up the seat of power to alternate between each dynasty. Each individual court schemes against the other at all times, with the Party ostensibly moderating their power but in reality letting them jam knives into each other so they can get on with the business of extracting wealth from the land.

Yu Jing citizens are constantly surveilled, just like PanO folks, but here it’s done by the bureaucracy and the police, and it’s a lot more brazen. Again, there’s a sort of almost-post-scarcity thing going, although since the state owns the apparatus of economy, there’s a lot less in the way of income and class inequality. In Yu Jing, we all ride together in third class! Unless you’re not Han Chinese, in which case we’ve created a special hell-class car where you will be randomly tortured with electric shocks for no purpose.

Because we’re not hitting the Orwell button enough, the Party, while officially monolithic and unified, is split between two rival movements. The Old Guard are traditional communists, while the New Wave are for slightly more economic liberalism, political innovation, and just as much repressive control over the populace as their peers. Citizens, meanwhile, can vote for anyone they like, so long as they’re a member of the Party.

Resurrection via Cube is the provenance of the Party for the citizenry in general, and is based around typical graft and nepotism, as well as the occasional reward for outstanding contribution to the state. The Emperor holds sway over resurrection for the Imperial court and the judiciary, where more personal politicking comes into play. The kicker is that while anyone with the right credentials and bloodline can make a play for the throne, if you ascend to it, you forfeit the right to a Cube - the Emperor gets one life, period.

Yu Jing is a constant second fiddle to PanO. They’re the second-biggest power, with the second-largest economy and the second-greatest territory. The State Empire had to play catch-up in the space race, with two planets entirely to their name and two others begrudingly co-inhabited by PanO. The capital planet Yutang is tidally-locked to a sister planet, Shentang. They’re apparently alright places to live, if you don’t mind regular cavity searches by the police. Yu Jung occupies territory on Svalarheima and Paradiso, and establishing those territories spurred several colonial conflicts. They're also muscling in on Dawn, like everybody else.

Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism are alive and well in the State Empire, with Confucianism holding sway as the official Imperial philosophy. You will not be surprised to learn that civil service exams are still kicking, too.

Because Orientalism, there’s about a page worth of information dedicated to a PanO report on Yu Jing infiltration of almost every level of their government. In fairness, this is played more for communist stereotypes, rather than pure yellow periling, buuuuut they turn around and specifically use the phrase “yellow peril” in the closing paragraphs.

The Imperial Service, the business end of the judiciary, is basically every secret police organization gone wild. They came to be during the reign of the emperor Shao Ming, an otherwise fairly peaceful and mild guy. The rise of the Imperial Service is as much about sending a message to the subject peoples of the Empire as it is about law and order. The early history of the Empire was politically tense, with everyone not Han not really being very happy about the whole general state of affairs. Political terrorism and freedom fighter movements were on the rise, corruption continued apace, and it looked like the whole thing was going to fall apart. In what the book carefully does not describe as a Chinese 9/11, the State Supreme Court was attacked by members of the Golden Dagger triad in order to free one of their high ranking members on trial at the time. In the aftermath, in an attack on both the figurative and literal Imperial power, the Emperor called for a crackdown of the highest brutality. An entire new bureaucracy, answering only to the Emperor, was created to avoid snitches and the standard level of police corruption. Originally, the Golden Dawn were the only targets, declared non-persons and hunted ruthlessly. But when you’ve got this nice new hammer of a secret police force just twiddling their thumbs, everything starts to look like a dissident nail. During the Golden Dagger crackdown, ALEPH operatives and independent bounty hunters were conscripted. To the Emperor’s credit, crime statistics dropped across the board. Just, you know, if you thought China wasn’t shy about being a police state before…

The State Empire’s propaganda wing is open and enthusiastic about their business. Many popular broadcasts, either immersive sim-stim things or your standard holo-TV, are about the pursuit of terrorists, foreign agents, and subversives by heroic members of the Imperial Service. The State is constantly besieged by criminal elements and foreigners, so be sure to report anyone and everyone. ALEPH certainly doesn’t benefit from this behavior. I feel like there was a missed opportunity to rip off that bit from Deep Space Nine - I think it’d be great if crime dramas were the major entertainment of the Empire, and the trick is figuring how not who’s guilty, but who’s guilty of what.

Yu Jing as an army is generally good at everything, with a wide variety of troop choices, nearly every kind of equipment in the game at their disposal, and at very reasonable prices. Yu Jing being the favored child of many of Corvus Belli’s higher ups, of course, does not influence this state of affairs. They tend to be good at close combat at the cost of pretty average BS and Physique.

The State Empire sectorials are kind of a mess at the moment.There’s the Imperial Service, which gets higher WIP in general, more elite units, and some very special cool toys, at the cost of being Space China Stasi. That’s it. There’s only the one sectorial right now, although an upcoming fluff-and-rules book should bring the long-awaited Invincible Army into play. IA’s gimmick is that everybody is heavy infantry, so everyone from your grunts to your elites are running around in power armor. I’m pretty interested to see how they’ll play, but there’s nothing concrete yet.

The problem here is, as is so often the case for China, Japan. This is a game written by a bunch of Spanish weeaboos, and of course Japan is a Big Deal. The Japanese Sectorial Army used to be Yu Jing’s other sectorial, up until the last big event, which pulled almost all of the Japanese units out of YJ rosters and made them their own army. Now the JSA is the Japanese Secessionist Army, sponsored by PanO, and Yu Jing players have found themselves at a literal loss.

The official response to this wailing and gnashing of teeth from Corvus Belli is to bring out statistics. I mentioned they have an official army builder (, which in addition to being a pretty handy tool with cross-references to the rules wiki, also gives them a look at what players are actually using in their completed army lists. Of the JSA units available to Yu Jing, people were most using Ninjas, at around 80% of YJ players, and Keisotsu, the JSA line trooper, at around half of users - Keisotsu are cheaper than regular YJ line infantry by one point, you see. The rest were all vanishingly small numbers.

I’m personally kind of irritated by how CB played this whole thing, but in practical terms, no one should really give half a damn. If you used a shitload of JSA models in your Yu Jing list, well, guess you can play JSA as a faction now. If you didn’t, I’m sorry for your loss. Criticize the company for their PR shitshow, not shaking things up.

I don’t know what to do with Yu Jing right now. Their fluff is a fucking mess, the army is solid but not hugely remarkable, and all the units I wanted to play with are in JSA right now.


Up next, Yu Jing units.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Yu Jing Roster

I’m going to level with you - I got part way into this list and fell asleep at my desk. YJ light infantry especially is just dull. They’re all okay, and up against comparable units they’re nothing to sneeze at. Or, you could take something more utilitarian and stop caring about A Basic Guy But Varying Degrees of Slightly Better.

I challenge you to feel an emotion about these models. They’re all a bit better than your average jerk with a rifle and a bullet proof vest. Some of them are a little more swordy, some are a little more shooty, some are a little more protected. The Pheasant does something at least useful as a piece, but she does it less well and for a higher price than her former counterpart in the JSA. They all have backstories that go “Okay, if you though x was a real bastard in the service of the autocratic state, wait until you get a load of this guy.”

At least it gets better. Check out this asshole:

I hate his shoulder pads! And look at his little goat friends! Now that’s a model. This is Xi Zhuang, the named light infantry guy for YJ. Relentless pure secret police, blah blah blah. If he’s in a fireteam with other Celestial Guard, and the team leader is killed, he can instantly take over and keep going, whereas that would ordinarily dissolve your fireteam and you’d have to spend resources to reform it. His little buddies that crack me up are Madtraps. They’re still models on the field, but they’re not units, they’re weapons. They tag along with Zhuang until someone gets close enough to him in the reactive turn, and then they zip along up to the enemy, give them a great big hug, and explode a glue bomb in their cute little tummies. Gluing angry, angry enemies down is both a useful tactic and extremely entertaining.

And these are Celestial Guard, the Imperial Service grunts. Unblinking resolve, ethically questionable, continuous farting noise. That third guy from the left, with the big gun, he’s the only one we care about, because he’s the Celestial Guard with the Kuang Shi controller. What’s a Kuang Shi, you ask?

I used an image of the older sculpts because it gives you an accurate idea of how many of these goddamn things you’ll face if you ever play an Imperial Service player. In vanilla YJ, you can take two, plus you have to take the Kuang Shi controller. That’s okay, I guess. In ISS, you can take eight. And they cost five points a pop. And they all provide regular orders. You can take a fireteam of them that’s the controller and four Kuang Shi, five orders and they’re no longer blindly charging into enemy guns, for thirty-three points. Have that team sit back and take a smoke break, just generating orders for you.

Take four more, just let them run up the board. Why not, they get their regular order and an extremely impetuous order, meaning they can move up to sixteen inches if they just gun it. They’re Dogged, too, so while they’ll drop dead if they take an excess wound at the end of your turn, up until that point they keep on trucking.

And they’ve got a piece of equipment that means they automatically grant the Targeted state to their allies, and allow their allies to shoot them. Which means you can fire off a smart missile from behind cover and hit one of these dorks after they run up to an enemy position and shell the hell out of it. And when you turn it on, they become an active repeater for all your hackers.

And when they die, they explode. So if someone gets up behind your line with a paratrooper, just run some of these bad boys up into their face and push the big red button.

They’re not honestly the end of the world. If you’re smart with your positioning you can kill them all before they reach you, and they’re kinda squishy, and they don’t have any ranged weapons. If you kill the controller they can’t be blown up intentionally anymore. The ones in a fireteam usually hang out in a nice neat line suitable for template weapons. They’re just so, so very order efficient.

I think “kuang shi” is supposed to be the Cantonese pronunciation of jiangshi, but . Kuang Shi are repeat offenders and political prisoners sentenced to death in the service of the state. Because ISS just wasn’t comically evil enough, Kuang Shi are shackled, lobotomized, and subjected to constant Yu Jing propaganda playing on the inside of their helmets. The exploding thing is the suicide collar each one of them wears, built to go off either when they wander away from their overseer, get shot down, or the boss just gets bored and pushes the button.

I’ve only got one good way to segue after the Kuang Shi, and that’s shaolin monks in space.

The Shaolin traded their services to the Yu Jing military in exchange for tax exempt status. I feel like that’s maybe straying from the teaching of the Buddha somewhat, maybe.

Monks are extremely impetuous and irregular, so set them up in a place where they’ll be able to charge at the enemy like a bald missile. They’re comparable to Joan in close combat, but they’re breathtakingly terrible shots, and they’re very fragile. They run from five to thirteen points, and you could probably find a use for them if that were all they did. But they have smoke grenades.

As a reminder, Infinity is a true line of sight game, with some abstraction with silhouettes so it’s workable instead of a grinding hell-rule. Getting shot is highly lethal for most units. You generally want to be in cover, or better still concealment, as much as humanly possible.

Smoke munitions let you block line of sight in a location of your choosing. The smoke template is a circle a hair under five inches across, which creates a column of infinite height that blocks LoS. You throw a grenade at PH +3 within eight inches of your base, and up to 16 inches away at -3 PH. Grenades don’t have to have a target, you can chuck ‘em over a wall at a penalty, and launched versions have longer range.

For maximum anime, you can use smoke weapons as a special dodge. Instead of shooting back or trying to dodge a shot, you can toss a smoke grenade out like a ninja cliche.

(NB: Special Dodge: Smoke is not a Dodge! It’s a Ballistic Skill attack that keys off your Physique attribute that places a template! Obviously. Infinity tries to be really specific in its verbiage, but the localization can bite hard sometimes.)

The best way to employ your monks, therefore, is to send them screaming up the field, moving and popping smoke, creating chains of obscured LoS up the board, while the rest of your army gets into more favorable positions and your opponent stews impotently.

Guija are TAGs. The passage for them specifically states that they’re the best Yu Jing can do, which isn’t much. It’s certainly a TAG. You could put in in your list, or you could spend those points on a greater number of more delicate units, possibly with a novel gimmick to them. It’s Armor 8, which is pretty high, and otherwise totally unremarkable. The fluff also uses the phrase “Imperial socialism” and “comrade-subject.” The model is great - giant robot with a hook sword never fails to attract interest.

Behold, Yu Jing summed up in one unit.

Heavy Infantry Showcase

Yu Jing does good heavy infantry. They’re all at least respectable choices, even if most of them are kind of boring.

Zuyongs are going to be the basis for the Invincible Army, once they arrive. Their stats are basically those of line troopers, but they’re ARM/BTS 3 instead of 1/0, and they get an extra wound. They run about twice to three times the price of your standard rifleman, though, so you’ve gotta puzzle out if that extra durability is worth the decrease in order count. Zuyongs take their schtick from the Terracotta Soldiers.

Wu Ming are a penal unit, their soldiers stripped of their names and sent to die on the frontlines, although for presumably less severe crimes than the Kuang Shi. They’re very much like Zuyongs, but with better-looking models and an extra point of ARM. Keep in mind, a single one of these guys costs the same as the Kuang Shi fireteam.

Hac Tao, left, and Dao Fei, right, fill somewhat comparable niches. Hac Tao get TO camouflage and a beefy statline, for a little cheaper than a Swiss Guard. Dao Fei are regular camouflage and get Infiltration, which makes them great pieces to go out and get objectives. They’re a fair bit more durable than your typical camo infiltrator, although they’re about twice the price. Hac Tao are spooky ghost marines, while Dao Fei get initiated into their unit by getting dumped into the arctic wilds with no weapons or equipment for a two month vacation. Not too interesting, but they are very pretty models.

Right up front, you can look at a Yan Huo and understand it. It’s a big guy with an even bigger gun. They come in railgun or twin missile launcher flavors, and two missile shots can really rain on your parade. Their MOV is 4-2, rather than the 4-4 standard to most heavy infantry, ostensibly to represent how much of their hardware is devoted to lugging around what are otherwise TAG weapons on an infantryman. Weirdly, the fluff calls them out as awfully delicate for HI, but they’re ARM 5 and have two Wounds, and that’s pretty buff, even by the standards of their peers.

If you’ve made the mistake of playing Yu Jing and are looking for an outlet for your frustration, may I suggest the Neurocinetics Yan Huo? Ordinarily, your weapon will have a Burst value. High fire rate guns have more Burst, and each point of Burst represents rolling one die per attack. If I shoot using a sniper rifle, I roll two dice per attack; with a heavy machine gun, four. Typically that only applies during your active turn, so if you’re shooting back at me, you’d only roll one even if you’re using an HMG.

Neurocinetics flips that, so that you’re firing at full Burst in ARO, but only get one shot during your active turn. Plop this guy in a commanding position and forget about him, laugh at your opponent when they try and dig him out, roll all the dice, forget your troubles for a few brief moments.

Hsien are Imperial Service veterans and the Emperor’s personal guard. They’re more of the same crap fluff-wise, but apart from some very snappy models, they have access to a very important piece of equipment.

Multispectral visors are meant to represent various kinds of vision enhancement, from infrared imaging to light enhancement to gait analysis to ($VAR_FUTURETECH not found). It comes in three levels, like many skills and tools. MSV 1 is comparable to what US troops use today, light amps and infrared. MSV 2 is along the lines of Predator vision. MSV 3 is undefined, but Better.

The obvious application for this equipment is to work around low light and dark area terrain effects, and sure, you could do that. MSV is also useful for hunting camouflage units; while none of them allow you to automatically uncover a camouflage marker, they’ll vastly reduce the penalty for trying to discover them and then shoot them. MSV 1 negates the penalty to take a look at regular camo, while up at MSV 3 you automatically pass your check to discover a camo unit (though you still have to spend an order to discover them).

All of this is well and good, but what you’ll almost always use MSV for is negating smoke. MSV 2 is the one you really want, because it ignores Zero Visibility Zones (IE smoke templates) for calculating line of sight. Note this applies to your smoke as well as your enemies! It’s a common and useful strategy to have a, say, your Shaolin monk toss a smoke grenade somewhere from behind cover, that prevents enemy models from seeing your Hsien, who then proceeds to blast them with no penalty. They can’t shoot back, and dodging isn’t possible unless you can draw LoS, so if they’re caught out by this trick, they may well be screwed.

Smoke: It’s Good For You.

Now it’s time for the best Yu Jing unit in the game, the Su-Jian. The picture above is not two separate units, but a Su-Jian in combat and mobility forms. It’s a transformer cat!

The combat form is a pretty standard heavy infantry model, but it’s slow like a Yan Huo. But it does have that extra pseudo-wound from No Wound Incapacitation. They come equipped with either a light machine gun, a flamethrower and a disposable rocket launcher, or a vehicle-grade shotgun and the other two weapons. Not too shabby.

But then it turns into a cat! Mobility form drops close combat, because they had to have a reason for you to ever use the combat form, and it drops a few points of Ballistic Skill, because cats can’t use guns, dummy. It really excels at tearing ass up the field, though, because mobility form has MOV 8-2, it dodges four inches when it gets shot at, it ignores rough terrain of all kinds, and it can run right up the side of obstacles without having to climb.

Su-jians are great units with a cool trick, fantastic models, and it’s a damn shame they’re the most interesting unit in the entirety of this faction.

Sun Tze is Yu Jing’s answer to Joan of Arc, with blackjack, and hookers. He comes in two flavors, a more armored heavy infantry version, and because there’s no reason to spend that many points on a model for passive boosts, a medium infantry sniper version. Corvus Belli does this thing with a lot of the Recreations where they’ll slightly alter their names, like they’re trying to avoid copyright infringement against someone who’s been dead for centuries. I don’t know thing one about any Chinese dialect, so I can’t say if there’s some extra meaning in changing the man’s name from Sun Tzu, or if it’s just a problem of orthography.

Sun Tze is constantly thinking, he thinks real good, good at strategy, see, aren’t you impressed? I’m not sure if this is ALEPH pranking the State Empire by giving them a remodeled dude who’s famous for a book of platitudes. Sunny is very average statwise, and you’re going to take him as your LT if you’re going to bother spending nearly seventy points on him.

He comes with Advanced Command as an LT, which gives you an extra Command Token. These are the scarce resources that I’ve alluded to that you use to reform fireteams. You can also use them to reroll certain special checks, or form a sort of temporary fireteam. You ordinarily get four command tokens, but now you can get five.

More usefully, he gets Strategos level 3. Keep in mind that unless otherwise specified, abilities with levels are cumulative. Strategos level 3 gets you 1, 2, and 3, etc. Level one lets you treat your LT order like a regular order, and that’s not too bad.

Levels 2 and 3 involve deployment shenanigans. Ordinarily before you start a game of Infinity, you make a Lieutenant Roll, where your LTs roll WIP against each other. Winner gets to pick between choosing what side of the table to deploy on, or what order to deploy in. When it’s your turn to deploy, the person who elected/was forced to deploy first puts down all their models but one. Their opponent then does the same. The first deployer then puts down their last model, as a kind of counter pick, and the process repeats for the other player.

Strategos level 2 lets you put down two models instead of one, which could be something as simple as a specialist in a position you noticed your opponent missed, or it could be your most dangerous murder unit. Level 3 makes your opponent put down all their models, eliminating their counter-positioning. In the event two Strategos level 3 LTs are on the field at the same time, they deploy normally.

Sunny’s passage goes out of its way to close with a brief sentence about how he’s never given the State Empire the slightly reason to doubt him, and how his loyalty is beyond question.

Next: Truly, God is great, because Yu Jing is done and it’s time for Haqq.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post


The Haqq chapters aren’t perfect. There’s still a lot of “I read about this in a book once, so it in it goes” effect, especially once we get to the organizational structure of the government and the sectorials. It’s also got a weird thing where it feels very much like the Christian Reformation. Still, it’s nothing but an upward trend from the Yu Jing section, so let’s hop to it.

Farhad Khadivar was always emphatic that he was simply a messenger, and not a prophet. Especially not a Prophet, in the doctrinaire sense. His past is shrouded in mystery, for reasons never fully explained, with the strong hint that the obvious candidates are engaging in a coverup. By his own words, “only the message, not the messenger, is of consequence.” Given that he radically redefined the entire Muslim world single-handedly, it’s also saving the authors a lot of biography and wordcount.

Haqqislam (New or High Islam, depending) holds to the basic precepts enshrined in the Quran, but divests itself of the rest of Islamic jurisprudence; it’s not quite full fledged sola scriptura, but it’s definitely focused on personal interpretation of scripture. Humanism, the Search for Knowledge (inevitably capitalized, just roll with it), and Sufi metaphysics are the dominant forces in Haqqislamite theology. Per Khadivar, “Oppressive regimes create toxic societies that produce and export nothing but hate, fear and ignorance, the three greatest enemies of Faith. Muslims must abandon the reactionary teachings of clerics and allow themselves to be guided by no one but their only sacred book, the Quran.”

You can imagine the reaction of traditional clerics to this position. Khadivar was assassinated at the age of 42, some ten years after his philosophical and theological debut. The message of Haqqislam, oriented at the downtrodden masses over those in power (and helped by what the fluff describes as one of the best PR men to ever have lived converting to the religion) spread far and fast. To escape persecution at the hands of the traditional power structure, the followers of Haqqislam sought a new home among the stars.

The practical concerns of actually forming a new nation-state and migrating its populace off the Earth and to a new planet were easier said than done, however. At this point in future history, the US is busy collapsing, and NASA in particular is reeling from the failed international effort to launch the Ariadna. Donors and sponsors across the globe contributed to the faith’s bankrolling of a new project, trusting that God would see them through to a new home, and contracting out to a desperate NASA would handle the temporal side of things.

Lacking the traditional access to the levers of power afforded the old nations or the rising PanO and State Empire, the Haqqislamites put their faith on the line. They'd have one shot at colonization, and they had to get it absolutely right the first time. Sufi astronomers calculated the recession of the stars to the date and segment of the sky over the Dome of the Rock the night the Prophet ascended to Heaven. After some failed launches to ratchet up the tension for the season finale, one wormhole probe sent to that spot punched through space and time to discover an inhabitable system.

Being able to say “My faith tells me God put our new home at this exact tiny, tiny point in the night sky” and be demonstrably right is sort of a big deal for a religion. If anything sealed the deal for Haqqislam as a modern force, the discovery of the Bourak system was it. With the money coming in from fresh converts in the wake of the discovery, the faith was able to purchase the rest of the old US space infrastructure outright. Most of the NASA staff came along as citizens in the new polity, with a substantial number converting as well.

Because nothing in Infinity is ever safe from stereotypes, planet Bourak is a mostly desert world, dry and hot due to its close proximity to a fierce sun. Early terraforming efforts are underway, and with no sign of sandworms thus far, the planet’s transformation into a new garden world is on schedule.

Haqqislam is at the least described as fiercely democratic and anti-authoriarian. How this is squared with some of the political subunits described later is beyond me, but I like it, so let’s roll with it. A civil, areligious government headed by a prime minister handles temporal affairs; the PM is advised by the council of Tariqas, a group composed entirely of women, as it’s held that speaking to power is far too important to entrust to men. There is a central religious figure, the Wali, but they’re more of a social exemplar figure than a theocrat, and they possess no specific religious authority. You get to be Wali by being the most scholastically-badass around. Since this is weird space Islamic Lutheranism, presumably the Wali is selected by getting holders of multiple PhDs together in the mosque basement and seeing who can make the best lemon bars for the bake sale.

Haqq doesn’t do computing technology or heavy industry as well as its peer nations. They are, however, the undisputed masters of biotechnology. The creation of Silk, the metamaterial that allows for resurrection via Cube would be enough to hold that claim by itself. They've also figured out how to reverse aging, beat cancer, and to genetically modify living people on the fly. Bourak is the premier spot for medical tourism throughout the Human Sphere. Doctors in particular are a focus of the religion, as it best exemplifies the Search for Knowledge in practical and philosophical terms. Perfect knowledge is divine, and while humans can never attain that level, the pursuit of it is of paramount importance. Doctors seek knowledge and put it to a practical use in the betterment of human life.

Public education is a priority for the religion and its civic counterparts. Extensive public universities, primary schools, teaching hospitals, libraries, and even orphanages for unfortunate children across the Sphere can be found on Bourak. If you can’t be a doctor, being a teacher or philosopher is often the next best thing.

Medicine along doesn’t pay the bills, however. Haqqislamite citizens operate, on the whole, the most extensive network of trade vessels and military ships to be found in human territory. They accomplished this feat by a simple logical chain - if PanO and Yu Jing were going to go big and wide into space exploration, Haqqislam would go small. The two great powers claim the most systems to their names and their corporations operate the giant starships that ply the wormhole network, but intrasystem travel and trade is the domain of the Haqqislamite trader. Something’s got to get your goods from the planet to the staging areas, and someone’s got to make arrangements for sorting and distribution, and someone else has to provide the air and food and entertainment while you wait for the megaship to show up and haul you around. Haqq traders occupy the interstices that make intersystem commerce work, and they’ve profited from it quite a bit. Traditional rules of hospitality apply, and Haqq stations are neutral ground in the struggle between great powers, which the navy and privateer forces must sometimes emphasize by force.

Haqqislamite citizens tend towards social liberalism. Because someone was going to bring it up, yes, polygamy is still a thing. So’s polyandry. The official law is that a household can consist of any combination and number of married partners, so long as the household can maintain itself financially. Because the nerds who wrote this game couldn’t help themselves, there are also space concubines and space harems. One step forward, one giant leap backward. The concubines are specifically called out as of all sorts of gender norms, for any sort of gender norm, but curiously all the art and miniatures that even get close to that territory are of sexy ladies. This issue will surely be resolved in the next supplement.

The central government is somewhat beholden to the regional governments on Bourak, while each region is competitive against its fellows, the idea being that keeping each entity busy with the other’s affairs will prevent them from amassing individual power or straying too far from the religion’s beliefs without requiring the imposition of a theocracy. Those regions are:

The Sultanate of Funduq, located around the planet’s solitary space elevator, with a strong Ottoman influence. The Sultanate is also responsible for the extra-solar territories of the faith and protecting the trade routes, which they do so with vigor. Apparently the Sultan is elected by all citizens in transparent elections. The current Sultan, Kerim Bey, has been the target of multiple assassination attempts by Combined Army operatives, to the point where everyone around him is subject to random biometric screenings.

The Caliphate of Al Medinat, comprised largely of Arabic peoples, home to the planet’s premier universities and biotech firms. They exist, and that's about all I got.

The Shanate of Iran Zhat Al Amat, overseeing the largest geographic region of the planet, the vast central desert and outlying regions that have been terraformed into paradise zones. No points for figuring out the demographics of this one.

The Khanate of Gabqar, a wild region largely untouched by the other local governments. The fiercely democratic and anti-authoritarian citizens of Bourak have allowed this place to slip into martial law.

Yeah, I don’t know either.

The general Haqqislamite armed forces are characterized by high order counts, large numbers of irregular units, mediocre physical stats, very high Willpower, and exclusive access to the best doctors in the game. They're sort of what you'd get if your primary army was a militia composed of bright, religious nerds, who have also hired a biker gang to help out with the heavy lifting.

Qapu Khalqi (the People of the Gate) are the armed forces of the Sultanate, charged with protecting the faith and commerce across the Sphere. QK forces feature higher numbers of harder-hitting soldiers, and a whole lot of mercenaries. QK is distinct from the central government's army, which we're to assume is vanilla Haqq.

You didn’t think we’d get this far without assassins, right? In this friggin’ game?

The Hassasins were formed in the immediate aftermath of the death of Farhad Khadivar. This group of mystics, scholars and soldiers banded together not only to avenge Khadivar’s death, or to protect the young religion from its enemies, but to safeguard the Search for Knowledge itself. The Hassassins most definitely act in the best interest of Haqqislam whenever possible, but also seek to protect knowledge seekers regardless of their affiliation. If that leads them to the faith, well, isn’t that a happy coincidence? They also effectively police mad science; if there’s an extinction-level threat brewing in Bakunin’s black labs, the Hassassins will attempt to root it out and destroy its creators. Likewise, they are profoundly opposed to the Evolved Intelligence of the Combined Army, which they see as the ultimate perversion of the Search. Assassins don’t have Cubes, so that nobody can datamine their corpses if they don’t succeed in their missions; being unable to get assimilated by the EI is a nice fringe benefit.

The Old Man of the Mountain leads the Hassassins Bahram. He, or she, or they, or possibly it, may or may not be the founder of the assassins, or a contemporary of Khadivar, or a chain of people possibly dating from before Khadivar himself. No one can put a face or faces to the name, and the Old Man constantly operates under disguise or via proxies. The Old Man could be a council of shadowy figures, or another AI, or it could be one profoundly intelligent and aged individual. In an ideal world, they’ll never actually tell us, but who knows what kind of bad decision Interruptor may take a fancy to?

So, mystic Sufi assassins could work for me except for one thing - they’re a government agency. I don’t know how you look at this secret society of murderers and philosophers and decide they need to be public servants, let alone ones of a society you describe as open and anti-authoritarian. If you've really got to have the society of assassins, at least throw some doubt on who's really pulling what strings. As it stands now, we get the full cliche, but none of the potentially-interesting tension that goes along with a secret society.

On the balance, I like Haqq a little better than PanO, and there’s no contest compared to Yu Jing. The ideas are there, but the execution stumbles hard in places.

Next: Haqq units, and gosh, there’s a lot of them.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Ghulams are the standard Haqq infantry. They’re here to give you a general idea of the faction’s aesthetics, for me to point out they have regular rifles, rather than the combirifles most factions get to represent their lack of magical heavy industry, and so that I can mention one of their specialist options. The only units with a regular doctor profile in the entire Haqq list are mercenaries. Everyone else is either a Doctor Plus (+3 to your WIP roll to revive a target, so this joe blow grunt is picking people back up on a 17 or less on a d20), or an Akbar Doctor (instead of getting back up with 1 HP, you’re back up with full health). There’s one non-mercenary Paramedic profile, but it’s the faction’s tank pilot. Haqq: Good Doctors.

One of the only distinguishing features of the Shahate, Daylami occupy sort of a weird space. They’re one of the total AVA choices for Hassassins, but they’re pretty basic irregular infantry. They’re special by virtue of being not very special at all, but they are very, very cheap. Like a lot of the asymmetrical warfare factions, Daylami have a Limited Infiltration option for about double their normal (small) cost. That lets them have a long-shot dice roll of starting halfway up the board. Daylami are more like living mines than regular troopers. Because they’re Persians, they have nice scarves and stripey shirts.

T-B: Hafza, Hassassin Ayyar, and Bashi Bazouk

Speaking of asymmetrical warfare, these jerks all have Holoprojector. Infinity has open and private information categories, as I’ve mentioned - I have to have a LT, and you know I have to have a LT, but I don’t have to tell you who it is until I take some action that uncovers her. Most of the time, private information functions by omission. If I put out a spread of camouflage markers, you don’t know what’s under them until you discover them or I reveal them.

Holoprojector lets you actively lie to your opponent. Level 2 lets you play find the lady with your soldiers. Ayyars and Bashis both use level 2. If I jump a Bashi in, I can place three models for each actual real trooper, and either use them to get into a position where I can surprise shoot at you, or just let you try and pick out the real one via discovery or just shooting them and seeing which one bleeds. You can also charge one into a trapped zone to use them as minesweepers.

Holoprojector level 1 is even better to my line of thinking, because it lets you disguise yourself as another unit of the same Silhouette value. This is the Hafza’s gimmick - they’re body doubles. That guy over there may be a relatively harmless rifleman, or he could secretly be a Hafza with a rocket launcher about to ruin your TAG’s picnic. That team of heavy infantry may actually just be a bunch of light infantry wearing disguises. Better yet, that team of heavy infantry you think are just light infantry wearing disguises are actually heavy infantry, ready to kick you in the teeth.

I really love all the ways Infinity has to play the shell game with your units. Given the prevalence of misdirection and counterintelligence in historic strategies, the comparative lack of bluffing games in tabletop play has always boggled me.

As mentioned, Hafzas are higher-grade infantry that act as bodyguards for crucial targets. Ayyarun are elite heavy infantry, dispatched by the Hassassins to target external threats to the Search for Knowledge. Bashi Bazouks are irregular jump infantry, so they’re built for harassing targets at little cost to yourself. They’re also literal space pirates, jumping off of perfectly good ships to board others either as licensed privateers or as outright thieves. Bashis are not well-liked due anywhere in the Human Sphere.

Khawarij are the premier bioengineered supersoldiers of the new Islam. Their stats are higher across the board, and they cost as much as three rifle Ghulams. In exchange, they get immunity to poisons, they are in fact poisonous themselves, they can jump tall buildings in a single bound, and their light machine gunner does +1 damage and crits on a roll of one or their exact target number. I bring them up mostly because of Tarik Masouri, the big guy in the second image. He’s basically Captain Haqqislamerica, one of the first successful test subjects for the supersoldier program. Unlike Steve Rogers, Tarik loves fighting, and makes a point of being the first, the bravest, and the boldest among the Haqq forces. He’s Silhouette five, making him the same size as special superheavy infantry, just a little smaller than baby TAGs. Tarik is a beastly unit on average, and in Haqq where there just aren’t that many gunfighters, he’s a king.

That slight crunching noise you heard was the sound of every Infinity player grimacing upon looking at this photo. These are ghazi muttawi’ah, more commonly ghazis or mutts.

Mutts have an average stat set apart from a fairly remarkable WIP 15. They’re irregular, so they’re not providing orders to your pool, and extremely impetuous, so it’s easy to let them charge up at the enemy without spending those same orders. They’ve got smoke, so they can block line of sight and smoke dodge. They’ve got template weapons, so they can ignore cover when they’re in range, although they’re not burning stuff like the Naffatun flamethrower infantry. They’re Dogged, so even if you knock out their single wound, they’re not dead until you tag them again or they reach the end of their turn. And they’re only five points, which would make them a must-have ordinarily.

The bone of contention lies with those guys holding the personal satellite dishes, which are Jammers. To use a Jammer on someone, you need to be within eight inches of your target, but you don’t need to have Line of Sight. If you hit them on a WIP check, which mutts will do 75% of the time, they must face a Damage 13 BTS roll or be Isolated. Isolated suuuuucks. Immediately, you can’t spend orders from the pool on that model. If a model is isolated at the start of their turn, they don’t contribute an order to the regular pool and are considered irregular. If the target is in a fireteam, they’re booted out; if they’re the fireteam leader, the team breaks. If, god help you, the Isolated model is your LT, your army enters the Loss of Lieutenant state, just like if your LT had been killed, and everybody in your army becomes Irregular. The only way to escape from the Isolated state is to have an Engineer come over and make a successful repair check on you.

More than anything, it’s that Mutts can just do this to you, from out of LoS, while being cheaper than basically anything else in the game. They’re not impossible to overcome, just like Kuang Shi, and a Haqq player can only take four of them at most. They’re still a huge pain in the ass to deal with, and everyone playing would take them if they could.

Djanbazans are medium infantry equipped with MSV 2 and, by Haqq standards, a rather burly Armor value of 3. They’re a different flavor of genetic modification than the Khawarij, so they’re not as high stat-wise, but they can potentially regenerate a wound if they get shot down. Djanbazans are responsible for spaceport security on Bourak, as well as acting as a heavy battle line for the Sultanate’s forces. I’ve included them in this writeup because of the machinegunner, who has explicitly and canonically removed his sleeves so that he looks more like an action star.

The Sekban are solid pieces. They’re good shots even in general terms, they get access to some good weapons for cheap, and they’re ARM/BTS 3. They’re in the writeup because they come the closest to capturing what I think Haqqislam is actually pitched as.

Originally, the Sekban were volunteer garrison troops, a militia to protect trading vessels and space stations. A group of Silk merchants decided to try and corner the market on the production of the metamaterial and set themselves up as kings, leading to what was a defacto civil war among Haqqislamite citizens. When the consortium magnates brought in mercenaries like the Bashi Bazouks, the Sekban rallied to the defense of their ships and stations, staying loyal to the last man and woman. Following the end of the revolt, the few survivors of the militias were reconstituted as a special operations unit for space warfare. While the Sekban still exclusively recruit from civilian candidates, they now face a much more grueling initiation and training process, so that there can never be another revolt on their watch.

Every faction has remotes, remotely-piloted or fully-autonomous utility machines and combat robots. They’re usually some form of crawler, like the specimens above. You can usually find a sensor bot, designed to reveal hidden deployment models and camo tokens, or minesweepers, or baggage bots, which let you refill expendable weapons and give bonus points when you calculate how you control a sector, ‘cause logistics wins wars, yo. There are also combat remotes, usually armed with an infantry rifle or something a little sharper, depending on the faction. Remotes can also carry EVO hacking devices, which provide both active and passive bonuses to your army.

The big one is the total reaction bot, which is most often armed with a heavy machine gun. TR bots can fire full burst in both the active and reactive turn, so they’re a real roadblock for new players. Your best strategy for dealing with a TR bot is to either blast it with a weapon outside its good ranges, like a sniper rifle, or subvert it, either through hacking or smoke deployment.

In general, I think Haqq has some perfectly adequate remotes, with some really nice sculpts. The radar dish is a particular favorite. I will, however, miss their old sculpts.

Good, clean, goofy fun.

For reasons I can’t adequately explain, Haqq heavy infantry have bad-boy backstories.

Azrails are the bodyguard of the former Sultan; every time a new Sultan is elected, the former bodyguards are deposed and sent to the Azrail corps, since they’re too good at fighting to dismiss, but have seen too much not to be closely monitored and probably sent to their deaths. Azrails are great models with a statline that sucks compared even to Nomad heavy infantry, let alone experts like PanO and YJ.

Al-fasid are former mercenaries with good performance records inducted into the regular army. The Al-fasids are great soldiers, and that tends to make them terrible people. Another great model with a lackluster statline, but they can throw out mines, which is a nice bonus.

You cannot be surprised at the existence of Janissaries in the Infinity fluff. Much like the real life Janissaries, the corps is primarily composed of orphans and children given over to the state voluntarily, for the educational and social prospects that await them once they finish their service. Janissaries are specifically prohibited from possessing a Cube during their time on the inside, to the point they’re equipped with blocking cyberware to keep such a thing from happening. Once their term is up, they’re free citizens and are given a Cube willingly.

If I were to take Haqq HI, I’d take Janissaries. They’ve got the best statline at the most economical price, with great specialists like the Akbar Doctor.

Fidays are king shit of Old Man mountain. Most Hassassins have that kind of fighter pilot aesthetic going on, to the point where I have difficulty telling them apart at a glance. It’s a good look, though. Unlike a lot of skirmishers, which are camo infiltrating specialists built to push buttons, Fidays have one purpose - get up next to a valuable enemy target and murder them in melee. And they’re good at it, all for the princely sum of about 30 points. If you’re facing a Haqq list, you should probably expect a Fiday.

The Fidays have Impersonation, which is like if camoflage and infiltration were rolled together and sweetened up. Impersonate lets you deploy anywhere on the board that’s not your opponent’s deployment zone, with no roll. You deploy as an Impersonation-1 marker, typically referred to as Bob from Accounting. An Impersonate marker is known, but can’t be targeted, just like a camo marker. The primary difference is that as long as the Fiday doesn’t blow its cover, it has to be discovered twice, while camo only needs to be flipped once. This is to represent your troops coming to realize that it’s kinda weird that Bob is wandering around an active firefight asking about deployment numbers, but he hasn’t openly sprouted knives (or tentacles) as of yet. Fidays have Impersonate level 1, so they can only mimic other humans. Combined Army Impersonators get level 2, so they can turn into humans or Tohaa or whatever the hell else.

The Hunzakuts are that more traditional camo infiltrating specialist. While they’re irregular, that’s less of a big deal for guys you want to run upfield in the first place. They’ve got mines, some nice weapon loadouts, and two of them get deployable repeaters, so they can create zones for your hackers to work in without requiring their physical presence in that location.

I also love this model. I don’t love the fact that the studio painter did up what clearly wrinkles like a shirt as skin, but apart from that it’s one of my favorites in the range. She’s got a cool action pose, the standard-issue Hunzakut bomber jacket, she’s not got her midriff or her boobs hanging out, and she has regular boots! No combat heels! I don’t play Haqq and I still bought one.

The Kum are a Kyrgyz tribe, sticking to Haqq and QK in particular as tenaciously clingy motorcyclists. They blast up the field, much faster than expected, depositing wads of smoke along the way. Burly men and voluptuous ladies can be Kum in equal amounts. What really matters to the Kum is the fat ride between your legs. Sometimes chains are involved. Semen.

One Maggie that won’t ruin your social services, the Maghariba Guard are Haqq’s answer to TAGs. Most notable for being large, as the only unit that reaches Silhouette 8, Maggies come with a special SIL template and 70mm base in the box. The spider-tanks are pretty hard to kill, especially the one with a 360-degree firing arc. If I recall correctly, in older editions of Infinity they used to be personnel carriers, but alas, that’s no longer the case. The old version is equally large, but not as nicely designed. Now seems like a good time to mention that Infinity models are all pewter, so expect to pin this thing if you ever have to put it together.

Haqqislam is home to only one Recreation, although another was made; we’ll get to her later. Al-Nāsir Salāh ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, the Kurd with the Word (of the Prophet), more commonly known as Saladin. “Salah ad-Din” is actually a title, not a name - he’s Joe, son of Ayyub, if you want to be technical. ALEPH’s tendrils are not incorporated into the Haqq datasphere anywhere near to the extent they are in the major powers. So, let's send them the world's most obvious Trojan Horse. Saladin, and his predecessor, were designed to be ambassadors and intermediaries between Haqqislam and the AI. Saladin was built to have the charisma of Joan, with all the tactical know-how of Sun Tze, which should really go to show you how little anyone cares about Sunny.

The Hassassins already didn’t like ALEPH, and putting a really obvious infiltrator like Saladin into their midst has not earned the Recreation any good will. Saladin is aware he’s constantly watched by a team of professional murderers and zealots, and greets their attentions “with an elegant smile and a cunning sparkle in his eyes.” Saladin’s speciality is getting people, whether they be individuals or military units, to work together in complimentary fashions. His soldiers and his peers love him just as fiercely as the assassins hate him.

In game terms, he’s a medium infantry version of Sun Tze, but about twenty points cheaper. He’s only got one profile, and he’s not tremendously killy. Saladin is best employed by sticking him in your back line and letting his passives help you out. With the release of new lieutenant rules recently, chances are Saladin’s going to get an update at some point in the undefined future. Not a terrible choice, not the best choice.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post


I hope you like Vernor Vinge, space cowboys and ethnic stereotypes as much as I do!

Back before everything went to hell for the global north, they banded together and took a stab at interstellar travel. NASA had tripped over a bizarre new stellar phenomena, a singularity entering the Sol system, and discovered that with the right bit of probing you could enter the singularity and travel through a wormhole.

Turns out the wormhole dumped out in Delta Pavonis, a relatively close-by star system. Delta Pavonis about twenty light years away from Sol, and the star itself is cooler and brighter than our own. Better still, the four planet out from Delta Pavonis looked like it was suitable for colonization. This planet was christened Dawn, as it was held to be the start of a new age for humanity. An ostensibly pan-national colonization effort was started, although since most of the funding came from the US, Russia and the EU, they locked down as many of the colonist berths for their own people as they could.

The Ariadna was the first ship built to colonize Dawn. It was intended to run on a bare-bones setup, to provide just enough in the way of manpower and infrastructure to get a toehold on the planet, where it would be followed up by its much larger sister ship, the Aurora.

The first wave of colonists consisted of the flight crew and space walkers, a cadre of scientists and technicians, and a military contingent to safeguard the colony from any potential threats, as well as to keep the peace between the disparate national colonies. Russia being Russia, they bundled up a bunch of semi-loyal Cossacks who were used to hard manual labor and treated them as their entire colonist clique, military and civilian alike.

The initial plan called for the beginning of a colony base population, operating under the fairly sensible idea that it’d be cheaper to grow new workers and techs on-site rather than ship them across twenty light years. Whole families were encouraged to join the crew, so long as they could provide at least two qualified crewmembers. To further spruce up the genetic viability of the colony, a drive for tissue samples, oocyte and sperm donations was held across the globe, because you never know when you’ll want to get ahold of that Finnish ability to withstand long, hard nights and the close proximity of Russians.

Once everyone was bundled onboard, they were put into cryosleep and shoved through the wormhole. Upon reaching orbit, the ship woke the crew, with only minimal deaths in the freezers, and everyone set about the landing procedures. The military crew were dropped after the establishment of some primitive orbit-to-surface facilities, to clear out a landing zone and to make sure there weren’t any hostile indigenous lifeforms that’d put the bite on the civvies. After that, the Ariadna itself would make planetfall and be broken up to form the core of the colony base.

Predictably, everything in the plan went wrong. The Aurora, with the rest of the more experienced scientific staff and the bulk of the colony’s infrastructure, was lost when the wormhole collapsed. Since the initial colony wave was meant to put boots on the ground, they didn’t have the ability to get back to orbit once they touched down; the first sign they had of the Aurora’s disappearance was that all those other guys are overdue, since it’s not like they brought deep-space telescopes with them. Turns out there were native, intelligent aboriginal lifeforms, dubbed the Antipodes. First contact didn’t go well, since Antipodes look and act like unintelligent wolves by their lonesome, but form a gestalt mind when they get into proximity with each other. Eventually this escalated into a full-scale war between the Antipodes and colonists; while the colonists had guns and radios against the Antiopodean discoveries of fire and metalworking, there were a couple hundred guys with guns versus an entire planet full of pissed-off wolf-things.

Between getting cut off from Earth and their impending doom at the hands of an entire continent of angry monsters, tensions began to rise in the colony. The unified mission began to break up along national lines, with the US contingent declaring themselves the 51st state and naming themselves like a social media hashtag, USAriadna. The UK crew followed suit, forming Caledonia to the north, the Cossacks seizing the remains of the Ariadna to found Rodina, and the French ESA creating the Francoariadnan Republic of Merovingia, because there’s nothing that French republicans love more than hybridized nationalities and connecting themselves to mythical royal lineages.

Having neatly divided up their labor pool and resources to be better prey for the Antipodes, the Ariadnans entered a period of disunity and economic decline referred to as the Depression. The Cossacks, with the greatest number of available combatants and their hold on the central point of industrial and scientific infrastructure on the whole damn planet, started to pull ahead of their peers. The Rodinans set themselves up as the primary power player between the other de facto independent nations, throwing its weight around and running the others against each other until it came to hold the reigns of a loose coalition between each country. If nothing else, the average person was so weary of frontier life and the constant and mounting pressure from Antipode attacks that they were willing to give peace a chance.

The peace lasted for a little while, at least. Humans being what they are, however, the inevitable occurred and the colonists plunged into outright civil war in short order; a peaceful protest against the increasing tax burden leveled by the Cossacks was suppressed violently, and the flare-up from the French, Americans and British kicked off another round of combat.

Once again, the comparative levels of unity on the part of the Cossacks versus everyone else won the day. This time, the Russians imposed harsh peace terms, making it abundantly clear that all other states were under their direct and total control. A new federalized nations, with the levers of power clenched tight in the Cossacks’ grip, was formed.

Apart from the usual violent upheavals of life on Dawn, things continued in this brave new world for a few decades. The population increased, a real industrial base was formed, and a rudimentary space program was even launched, with the hope that a return to orbit might help unify the planet again.

Panoceania had to blunder in and fuck up that plan, though, when the Nirriti, a PanO wormhole scout blasted through a hitherto-unknown wormhole from another system, probably Svalarheima. A few months later, a Yu Jing cutter, the Lei Feng dropped in too. Both PanO and the State Empire immediately claimed the whole of Dawn for their own, embroiling the Ariadnans in someone else’s war, and very conveniently reminding them of just how little they meant to the home planet.

Much wrangling was done at the O-12, the Space UN, that I’ll spare you. The short version is that everybody started jumping onto Dawn and depositing their own colonies, shooting happened, and it turns out both the Antipodes and the Ariadnans weren’t quite as easy to brush aside as the dominant powers thought. The Ariadnan Commercial Conflicts were used by the Space UN to establish a new set of rules for colonization and exploitation, and with the sponsorship of Haqqislam and the Nomads, Ariadna entered the O-12 as a fully sovereign power. All this takes us from the mid-21st century to the current year of 2177.

Life on Dawn is still hard. The world is rich in resources, but the Ariadnans still aren’t up to the technological standards of the other competitor powers, even after decades of interaction, trade and espionage. Walled settlements are common, and everyone knows their way around a gun.

There are more Cossacks than any other Ariadnan state population. They run the federal show around here, and the British and Americans harbor a particular resentment against the Russian yoke. Cossacks employ strategic hamlets throughout their territory, called stanitsas, designed to hold out against Antipode attacks at first, and during the later conflicts against the other powers of the Human Sphere, until reinforcements from other local garrisons could arrive. The Cossacks are sincere in their concern that disunity will be the death of the Ariadnan people, but they’re also entirely unconcerned about cracking heads and breaking knees to get what they want from the other states. They’re fairly ethnically homogenous, owning to the other states varying levels of antipathy towards the Russians, as well as their own burgeoning white nationalist movement. Because Russians, they’ve built a giant armored train network across their territory, which you can see at in the header image for this entry.

The French founded the settlement of Mariannebourg, named for the personification of the French Republic, back during the initial exploration phase of colonization. The city turned into the central hub for transit across the Ariadnan territory, and Merovingia as a whole is located at the crossroads of all Ariandnan traffic and commerce. The great majority of Merovingians are descended from France and the Benelux countries, with significant minorities of Germans, Austrians and Italians. The Space French are proud and haughty, of course, but since they stand to gain by having everyone else’s tourist and trade money, they’ve also gained a reputation for being the most hospitable and easy-going people on the planet.

Much of Caledonia is established in the mountainous northern reaches of Dawn, beyond the Hadrian mountain range, hence its name - just like Scotland, giant wolfmen will stab you with broken bottles if you don’t give them money for heroin, or so I’m told. The northern mountain reaches are inhospitable and gloomy, but full of vibranium Tesium, the magic metamaterial that really powers the Ariadnan resource extraction economy. The Scots and Yorkshiremen are the dominant demographic here, because apparently mining and depression are heritable traits. There are also some southerners, Welshmen, and the occasional Scandanavian among the population. Caledonia presents as Space Scotland, because lunatics in kilts having drinking contests with the Russians to prove who’s more surly is more interesting than space redcoats and space tea.

USAriadna is what you get when you bundle a bunch of NASA nerds and a Ranger regiment into a spaceship, shake thoroughly, and add nostalgia and patriotism. Between the space agency nerds and the genetic stew that is the US armed forces recruiting populations, the USA is the most ethnically-diverse group on Dawn. The US Ariadna Ranger Force (USARF) is the bulwark of the eastern territories, and they see the most intrusion from foreign military powers, to the point where they’re forced to work hand in hand with the Russians because there’s just not enough manpower to go around. USAriadna is just as stereotypical as you could hope for; for instance, the capital city of Jefferson is home to the last remaining offices and factory of the Coca Cola corporation, which has otherwise been out of business for more than a century.

Antipodes and their handler

Antipodes are a wholesale theft of the Trines from A Fire Upon the Deep. They’re a lot meaner, though. Antipodes are intelligent in groups, but not much more than a really nasty dire wolf on their own. Bundled up, they’re capable of forming tribal groups and engaging in basic geopolitics, at least enough to declare outright war on the Ariadnan invaders, as well as mediate the fighting between tribes. Antipodes also have metallurgy and commerce, but we’re not given much more insight into their society apart from the fact they really don’t like us barging in on their planet and killing their children.

So, logically, we’ve captured a bunch of Antipode pups and brainwashed them with chemical conditioning to work for us. Antipode packs like the one above are serious business, and they are not fun to have to deal with on the table.

But wait, the parade of monstrousness continues! When a pregnant woman is bitten by an Antipode (and survives the attack, and somehow this is really, really common), viral agents in the Antipode’s saliva attack the fetus, rewriting part of its DNA. Ordinarily, the resulting child is healthy if kind of hairy and irritable, with a pronounced and universal fear of flying. They’re also werewolves. Like, literal World of Darkness brand, you-wouldn’t-like-me-when-I’m-angry werewolves. These werewolves are given the cheerful and affectionate name of “Dog-faces,” and when they’re riled up or wounded, they transmogrify into gigantic man-wolves. Fighting Dog-faces are called Dog-warriors, or more frequently by their unit name, because both of those terms are stupid. Transmogrified dog-faces have greater dexterity than the average Antipode, capable of handling sufficiently-sized weapons, and they retain their human intellect; they’re just preoccupied with hulking out.

On account of being different, and to a lesser degree because you never know when one might go bonkers and rip you in half with their bare hands, dog-faces are treated as second-class citizens. The only real way to win public adulation is by playing Dog-Bowl, which is like if you synthesized hockey and rugby and drafted teams entirely from groups of nine-foot-tall werewolves.

Even the dog-faces need someone to shit on. When a dog-face and a regular human breed, they don’t produce another dog-face, but a secondary mutation, which is the wulver. Wulvers are more your Lon Cheney kind of wolfman - human-sized, but clawed and abnormally hairy. They’re also sterile, because nothing goes right for these people. Wulvers are most common in Caledonia, due to the higher prevalence of dog-faces in that state.

Here is a list, in no particular order, of the things Spanish nerds think they know about the US. Some of them are hilariously wrong, some of them are hilariously right.

The entire game is like this. Every single faction.

I love Infinity.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Ariadna Units

Ariadna is a big faction. It’s got four sectorials (sort of) and the vanilla option. It’s also meant to appeal to nationalism in large countries, to better sell the product, so it’s very heavily supported. This is gonna be a long post.

Generic Ariadna lists feature high Physique values, trend toward but don’t guarantee high WIP scores, and run high order lists. Ariadna armies are great at murdering things, run the best camouflage game in Infinity, and are generally crap at specialist options. Remember, these guys are still decades behind the times on top of coming from the space equivalent of a third-world nation - they get very few doctor and engineer choices, almost no hackers, and extremely limited TAG and TAG-like choices. You will be feeding at least part of your army into a meat grinder to accomplish your objectives.

The Force de Reponse Rapide Merovingienne is an old, old list, and it hasn’t been well-kept up. Space France was the first faction to be pseudo-squatted, where production of their models is ended and their rules support is given one last small update. The FRRM was originally themed around mobility options, since they’re intended to be the Ariandnan internal forces - in a crisis, they get there fast and wait for heavier troops to catch up. With the advent of new rules and gimmicks over the years that the French haven’t gotten, they fell back on their other schtick, which is mercenary troops. FRRM is the only way to have more than one hacker (not hacker type, literally one soldier) in an Ariadna list. They’re also the only sectorial to have native access to a TAG, although it’s definitely not the top of the line machine.

Caledonia are close-combat specialists with a ton of smoke. They’re also particularly bereft of specialist options. Hope you like punching faces, because that’s about all you’re going to be doing. The British are secretly the Scots, down to models in kilts, because the nerds at Corvus Belli liked Braveheart a lot. There’s also the SAS, for reasons.

USARF is well-armored and slow. While strictly speaking they have a lot of options, the most optimal choice you can take is to have a defensive fireteam in your backfield, a couple of inferior infiltrating grunts to shake stuff up in the midfield, and as many Foxtrot camo infiltrating forward observers as you can manage to get stuff done. Space America runs the lightest on werewolves and heaviest on bikers.

The Tartary Army Corps (TAK) are the space Russians, and along with the new ALEPH sectorial, the most recent group to be released. TAK are good at most things, and may or may not be OP. Time will tell. The CEO has a pretty big boner for the space Russians, since his PC in the tabletop campaign that created the Infinity fluff was one of the Cossacks. What a concidence that this character now has a brand new model and ruleset to go with the new sectorial. In fairness, TAK has been teased since the beginning of the game, so I get why Russian-havers were excited. I just don’t care that much.

Ariadna has a shitload of light infantry. The only group that could rival them would be Haqq, if Haqq had the SKU support Ariadna did. As it stands, if you want to drown your enemy in cheap orders, you’ve come to the right place.

Line Kazaks, Metro, Volunteers

Generic line infantry in Ariadna are internally comparable. They don’t have great stats, but they’re cheap. Some of them can inferior infiltrate, but they’re not as good at it as Grunts.

Kazak doctor, Dozer, Wardriver, 112

Behold, your specialist choices. Ariadna is really, really limited when it comes to specialists. None of them are particularly great shakes, they all cost more than your typical line infantry by a decent to substantial margin, and you don’t get a lot of them. Wardrivers in particular run about as much as it would cost you to take two machinegunners in a line infantry group, for a really lackluster loadout and stats. There are named characters that can fill some of these roles, but you’ll pay a premium for them, and they’re still really squishy. FRRM can take a Nomad line infantry hacker, which isn’t great, but still better than the wardriver.

Fluff-wise, they’re about what you’d expect. The 112 is a combination forest service ranger and fireman, who occasionally get conscripted into the army. Presumably someone keeps drawing unflattering cartoons in their barracks about antipodes stealing 112 Smith’s picnic basket.

Dozers are probably the best pick out of this bunch, and that’s because of the toys they can bring. One has a giant glue bazooka, with limited uses but infinite potential for hilarity. The other lets you take what passes for Ariadnan remotes. Ordinarily, you’d need a hacker or a TAG to take remotes. Well, Ariadna doesn’t have those, so it has an engineer option with a remote controller for what’s basically a giant armored toy car with rockets.

Traktor Muls have Baggage, so you can replenish your limited-ammo weapons out of the backpacks someone’s thoughtfully slung in the rocket backdraft. Muls come in minesweeper, artillery, and total reaction versions.

FRRM Paracommando, USARF Airborne, Van Zant

Ariadna is in a weird place as far as airborne troops. Every faction has some kind of Airborne Deployment profile, but they’re usually meant to drop into place on a point on the board their user selects, then scatter off; pretty straight forward stuff.

Ariadna AD units work by different rules. In general, AD works a little like Hidden Deployment, but you have more control over where you place your troops, and there’s a roll involved. Dawn paratroopers don’t hold with that jet pack and jump ship nonsense and content themselves with diving out of planes, then gently wafting down amid antiaircraft fire, like real men. This means they come in off the table edge, rather than an arbitrary point on the board.

Deployment zones can shift around, but this is your basic AD key.

At the beginning of a game, Parachutists will pick one table edge segment, write that down, and everybody with that skill comes in from that table edge for the rest of the game. You can’t pop out in your deployment field, so our Paracommando could come in anywhere off segment 1, 2, 3, or 4, or the non-deployment zone parts of 5 and 8.

Van Zant is the named paratroop infantry, and he gets to AD: Tactical Jump. Instead of picking a segment at the beginning of the game, he can elect to use any segment of his choosing at any time, which typically means he shows up behind your deployment zone and starts murdering anyone you left in a vulnerable position. Watch your back or McConaughey will get you. If you really need an extra order on him, Van Zant comes in Executive Order flavor, which means that when he appears on the board, he immediately becomes your Lieutenant. It also means that your LT is now your opponent’s number one target, so exercise due caution.

Paras and Airborne can be your LT, but since they start off board, your whole army would start the game in Loss of Lieutenant. Don’t do that. Otherwise, they’ve got reasonable stats and gear, but cost about three times as much as your average rifleman.

Spetznaz are evil little bastards. For about the same cost as other AD troopers in the faction, you could instead pick these guys, who are much deadlier in hand to hand, a bit better shots on average, and get to ignore the to-hit penalty for their target being in cover. The parachutist versions can have a big shotgun or a rifle, or you can take the Ambush Camouflage versions with a sniper rifle or AP HMG.

Ambush Camo is another good shell game strategy. When you deploy your Spetznaz, they go on the table as a marker. As per regular camo, they have to tip their hand or get discovered before your enemy can do anything to them. You also get to put down a second camo marker as a decoy. With ambush camo and the prevalence of camouflage markers in the faction in general, it’s not uncommon for an Ariadna deployment to consist of a handful of models and a dozen or more camo markers. It’s not a happy sight to see across the table.

Loups-Garou are less useful than you’d hope, but they do have the look down. Those are some bitchin’ models, and they all date from before the advent of CAD sculpting.

They’re most notable for their preponderance of special ammo. Weapons get very granular in this game, and once you get over the rather large hurdle of learning what the hell all the special snowflake names mean, there’s utility to it. Loup-Garou get stun grenades and viral rifles.

Stun special ammo forces your target to make two BTS rolls for each hit you score with an attack. Failing either or both BTS rolls won’t cause a Wound, but botching even one will force your model into the Stunned state. Stunned models can’t attack, period, and they take a -3 modifier to every roll they make that isn’t BTS or ARM. Stun sucks to be hit with, and it’s enormous fun when you foil someone else’s plans with a flashbang.
Other types of special ammo are relatively straight forward. AP halves a target’s ARM value; Double-action causes two ARM rolls for each successful hit, each of which can cause a wound; Explosive is the same as DA, but it causes three rolls; Nanotech targets BTS instead of Armor; and Shock will instantly kill a one-Wound model outright, no passing Unconscious, no revive rolls allowed.

Loups-Garou are the FRRM SWAT team. Apart from the regular kind of emergencies, like active shooters, hostage situations, and maladjusted teenagers, the Loup-Garou mission includes handling violent dog-faces. In the proudest traditions of the Gendarmerie, the dog-face containment strategy is to shoot them dead, on the spot, with incredibly powerful weapons.

See, Ariadnan werewolves are immune to standard special ammo. Stun doesn’t bother them, Explosive doesn’t get extra dice against them, even being set on fire doesn’t work. But exotic ammunition does.

Exotic ammo types get pretty wild fast. Electromagnetic ammo targets BTS, halves it, and on a successful attack Isolates its target, as well as Immobilizing them if they’re a machine. Vibranium T2 ammo deals twice the regular number of wounds or structure damage for each hit it causes. Monofilament weapons don’t screw around - when you’re hit by one, you set your Armor value to 0, roll against a flat damage 12 no matter what happens, and if you lose, you’re instantly dead.

Viral isn’t quite that bad, but it’s still extremely potent, and it’s perfect for clearing out models that otherwise get a second chance at life, like things with Dogged or No Wound Incapacitation, that let them keep on fighting after they’d normally drop dead. Viral makes your target roll BTS twice to resist damage, even if the first roll knocks them out. If they go straight to dead, that’s it, and no skill in heaven or on earth will save them. Viral ammo is generally the purview of Haqqislam geneticists or Tohaa biological horrors, as it’s a wide-spectrum viral agent with ripper nanites blended in. That’s an entirely reasonable thing for police to have.

Top - Grunts; Bottom - Marauders

USARF is a little different in that it doesn’t have a standard light infantry line trooper. Instead, Grunts are Medium Infantry, which have a 4-2 Movement range. A lot of American models are MI, even. Grunts aren’t great - BS 11, PH 11, WIP 12, and still just one Wound. They are, however, ARM 3, which is pretty damn high for medium infantry, and preposterous compared to your average line trooper. Grunts are really meant to be bundled up in a fireteam, put on top of some cover, and act as a huge durable roadblock. Put your doctor of choice behind them lying prone to revive any of them that get shot for extra fun times.

See that one up front with the flamethrower? That’s the Inferior Infiltrating Grunt. Grunts are not mobile by nature (ho ho commentary). But if you can sink a PH roll of 8 or less, the II Grunt must start in the enemy half of the table outside their deployment zone. A 40% chance isn’t great, but for 11 points and .5 SWC a pop, you can take two of these guys and just chuck ‘em at your opponent. If they don’t stick the landing, oh well. If they do, you put an ARM 3 model in cover, with a heavy flamethrower, near an objective or a chokepoint they have to use.

Marauders are the same statline as Grunts, but one point fightier, and they deploy a little further up the table by default. They’re two or three times as pricey as Grunts.

The overwhelming majority of USARF models came out after Corvus Belli switched to CAD sculpting. While they get some extremely sharp details out of their process, sometimes they use CAD to take shortcuts in production. Other times, they just get lazy. USARF has a real problem with a lot of samey-looking units on the table. Reduce both those images back down to thumbnails and take a look at them from a few feet away from your monitor. Can you distinguish them in any way but their coloration? What if I told you there was a heavy infantry variant that was just as bad? In conclusion, space America is a land of lacking contrast.

There is a named character Grunt, Rosalind Munroe. They almost made her cool. Give it a think for a few moments; try and anticipate what a bunch of Spanish dorks wrote, given only that slice of information.

Let’s see how you did:

Rosie has a generic backstory where SOC recruited her out of space-Leavenworth because she punched her superior officer and called him a chickenshit. Rosie joined the army because her mother and grandmother are of course Riveters, described as the veritable bedrock of USAriadnan society, the productive hardass side of matronliness. The fluff then goes on to describe Rosie’s work as not half-asssed, but “whole-assed, even double-assed!” The whole passage is ostensibly written in the voice of Roger Van Zant, because of course we need a big macho man to tell us that women can be cool.

Winning contestants, please send me your self-addressed stamped envelope to receive your no-prize. Anyway, Rosalind has a cool model, even if she’s wearing heeled combat boots.

Tankhunters Gofusky and Gallantnikov

Tankhunters are meant to deal with armored threats, which really means TAGs and heavy infantry in a game with no tanks. You’ve got AP rifles and autocannons, but the actual one to take is the AP HMG gunner. Compare and contrast early hand-sculpted models with modern CAD sculpted pieces.

Highlander Greys hail from a tradition reaching back to regiments that fought at Waterloo. Unlike most of the heavy infantry in the game, Ariadnan HI typically can’t be hacked, since they’re just big guys in big armor, rather than power armored space marines. Also unlike other HI, they’re only ARM 3. They do have smoke, however, which is nice, even if they get their vision blocked by it as well. Greys also come equipped with T2 boarding shotguns and rifles, and AP HMGs, to represent how vibranium Tesium is literally springing up out of the ground in Caledonian territory.

The particular Grey featured above is curious because it’s sort of an experiment Corvus Belli is running. Infinity models traditionally come in a box or blister pack, and only with the pieces they need for WYSIWIG assembly. A lot of models use the same core body, but have different arm or head sets to give them a different look. This is taking the same basic idea, but giving you a choice of which set for the same profile you’d like, which is cool and something I really enjoy. No word yet on if this trend will continue into the future, unfortunately. Greys can also form a special fireteam with…

Moramers, the other Caledonian HI unit. Moramers look great, and just aren’t good enough to justify their cost. They’re merely decent stats-wise, they don’t have any particular special abilities beyond being ARM 5, but they’re also BTS zero - anything with a BTS attack kills the hell out of your 30+ point model. They’re MOV 4-2, like the crappier Haqq heavy infantry, but they do have better weapons, comparable to the Grey’s loadouts.

Legally distinct from the Mormaer sculpt, the Veteran Kazaks are Line Kazaks, all grown up and given a major power boost. Vet Kazaks are a little weak in Ballistic Skill, but otherwise extremely effective combatants. They get AP or T2 rifles with flamethrowers or AP HMGs, for a very inexpensive 37 to 47 points, some of which get to ignore negative range modifiers to hit. They also come with a dearth of fireteam options. In addition to forming a core link of five of these guys, making them very killy and very hard to put down, you can attach three of them to a team of two Frontoviks, a recently-released combat engineer profile. That way you get the same firepower at a discount, plus two specialists to tag along with you to push buttons and fix anything that goes wrong with the Vet Kazaks. Perhaps most important, Veteran Kazaks are Wildcard units, and can join any fireteam in TAK. If there’s room, they can join up. Give them four Line Kazak friends for about the price of your Vet Kazak and get all the fireteam bonuses you could ask for.

Margot and Duroc

What if Van Zant, but twice and meaner? Equipe Mirage-5 consists of Margot Berthier and Angelo Lafayette Duroc, the human and the dog-face respectively. Margot bounced around the FRRM forces as a highly-capable special operative until the rest of her team was wiped out. Duroc, meanwhile, is called out as not just an incredibly violent werewolf, but a Corsican. Shocking! Duroc worked for some mobsters and got the order to kill Margot, she beat him senseless, and now they have a Beauty and the Beast thing going. I particularly like them because you can paint them up like the Boss and Naked Snake.

Margot and Duroc deploy as a team, but act independently, unlike many other team-styled units in the game. Margot’s a Moblot, the FRRM heavy infantry option. She’s about as good as a Grey, with the same armor and one Wound, but she’s shock immune and carries around a light grenade launcher. Duroc is one point of CC less fighty than your average werewolf, and still carries around two template weapons and smoke grenades. Margot and Duroc have AD: Airborn Infiltration, so they still have to pick a part of the table edge to walk in off of, but they pick it when they jump. You don’t want either of them rampaging around your back line and eating your order generating line infantry, and you especially don’t want the both of them doing it at the same time. The team is a lot pricier than Van Zant, at a nice 69 points and 2 SWC.

Chasseurs, SAS, Foxtrots, Scouts

What makes Ariadna competitive, more than any other factor, is the prevalence of cheap camo infiltrating specialists. For about 250 points in a vanilla list, if you were really so weirdly inclined, you could take ten of these guys, each capable of accomplishing most missions, some with terrain boosts, some with longer range weapons, some with antipersonnel mines, and all able to deploy up the board in enemy territory as camo markers. That’s not counting irregular models with similar abilities or named characters. Nomads, an army with an vast variety of units and cheap toys, can get seven equivalents for 150 points, but two of them are irregular orders.

You’d never do either of the above things outside of a gimmick list, but you could, is the thing. Ariadna gets high-quality infiltrators at dirt-cheap prices, and they can cherry pick exactly which variety they want. I particularly recommend the Chasseurs; Foxtrots may be a little cheaper, but Chasseurs get Sixth Sense level 1, so they get to ignore surprise attacks, and they also come equipped with a rifle/flamethrower/mine set, so you can really force your opponent to make bad decisions in their reactive turn.

They’re all spooky high-speed low-drag operators in the fluff. Can’t win ‘em all, sadly.

L - Ratnik; R - Blackjack, and Grunt for scale

These are not TAGs. They may be hackable, powered armor units carrying heavy weapons, possessing multiple wounds, and they’re probably a bad investment of your points, and they might not be able to fit through person-sized doors like a TAG, but they’re not TAGs, okay? TAGs let you take remotes, these guys don’t, QED.

Blackjacks and Ratniks are sort of like the power loader from Aliens, if instead of a supremely cool setpiece that emphasized the triumph of proletarian and feminine power over chauvanistic militarism, it was kind of shitty. These not-TAGs aren’t really good enough to play with the big boys, so when they take a wound, their profile degrades.

That’s what that Lo-Tech A skill is. Lose your first wound, you drop down to the Battle Ravaged profile, like a variant GI Joe figure. You can’t get repaired in the field back to the full-power profile either. They’re kind of interesting models, if also gigantic pains in the ass to assemble, but I’d rather get my jollies somewhere else.

Blackjacks are meant to be the prototype for the Ratnik, and they’re a little less fighty for less of a points burden. These are both the fanciest technology Dawn has to offer, and not really that great a piece. Blackjacks are intentionally vague about how they came to get their name, which seems odd for the army’s showpiece bit of R&D, while Ratniks are described as like the Harley Davidsons of the battlefield, which is to say noisy and ridden by assholes.

Cameronian, Dog-Warriors, Devil Dogs

Another pseudo-TAG option, werewolves are big bulky things that hurt people, often in melee. They all have about the same stat line, with Devil Dogs getting a little more armor and another gun option, but losing their regular grenades. Werewolves have an irregular order and an extremely impetuous order, coupled with a 6-4 MOV and smoke; they’ll hustle themselves up the board to try to close to melee, without a lot of care as to what gets in their way, be that opponents or difficult terrain. Dog Warriors are technically a better option than their counterparts, because Cameronians and Devil Dogs (ooah, sarnt) start in their werewolf forms and have two wounds, while Dog-Warriors begin as normal guys with a reduced profile. Sort of like an inverse Blackjack, when the Dog-warrior takes a wound, it’ll go bonkers and turn into a bigger, nastier form, and it gains two wounds, for a total of three. The Devil Dog’s little buddy works like an Auxbot, sans the flamethrower and with the ability to detect hidden units and mines.

The Cameronian fluff is oddly specific to northern British life in the 80s, with a recruiting sergeant in a pub waxing philosophic about how there might be work in the mines, but if you really want to be free, you’d join the Army and see the world, and also be a terrifying monster. I assume there are several songs about this sad state of affairs by Space Christy Moore. The Dog Warriors are more of a breakdown of what a werewolf really is, but I will say the guy with the scars has some sweet Russian prison tattoos. The Devil Dog segment is a bastardized version of both the Marine Corps Hymn and the “the few, the proud, the Marines” advertisements, because even hundreds of years in the future when all of them have turned into murder-furries, Marines just won’t stop being fucking Marines.

Wulvers are the red-furred stepchildren of Ariadna, looked down on even by the dog-faces. Same basic fluff, but it specifically calls out the notion that these guys are intended to run head-long into the enemy’s guns and try to take as many as they can out before they get cacked themselves. Smaller and less quick across the board, Wulvers are a little more expensive than most of the werewolves, since they get useful guns and know how to use them. The werewolves are a fire-and-forget way to block line of sight and annoy your opponent, while Wulvers are a little more like regular troopers.

Get out of here, S.T.R.E.L.O.K.

Streloks are seriously just the guys from STALKER, down to the balaclava. We don’t have the fluff for them readily available, and damned if I’m sorting through the official forums to find it. Still, they managed to sculpt another lady wearing mostly-sensible armor.

Irregulars and B-sides

Ariadna doesn’t have quite the penchant for irregular troopers that Haqq does, or at least not for the same purposes, but they’ve got a fair bunch that occupy roles that’d ordinarily be used for regular soldiers. You get a discount for irregulars compared to normal folks because they don’t contribute their order to the army’s collective pool, while still being able to spend those regular orders if they need them.

In what turns out to be a pretty decent implementation of how you’d use irregulars in an actual warzone, here they’re pretty handy to park them somewhere and let them do their own thing. Just expect them to be a drain on your resources if they end up being the right person in the right place at the wrong time.

Caterans are some old models. There was a brief push to have these really elaborate bases, like a little pre-made diorama. Some of the French units actually have rules about entrenching, and you’re meant to pop your model on and off the bigger diorama base to represent whether it’s dug in or not. Turns out that’s kind of a huge pain, since you need multiple models for one unit, you need to buy magnets, or you have to dump a fully-based model on top of another base like some sort of regretful Jenga tower. All that is to say that the model you see above is still Silhouette 2, just like every other average dude in these writeups.

Caterans are limited camouflage models, which means once they reveal themselves, they can’t get back into the camouflaged state. They retain the general -3 camo mod to get hit, however, so if you post this guy on top of a midfield position in cover, he’s going to be really, really hard to dig out. You will take only the T2 sniper rifle version of this profile.

Former soldiers fallen into brigandry, Caterans have been picked back up by the army either as a matter of honor, or because they got pinched by another clan and are being made to pay their debt to society on the front lines.

Texas Rangers but in space and armed with a bow. Hardcases are an entire unit constellation composed of that guy you know who went kinda Unibomber after high school, living out in an isolated cabin in the woods and hunting deer for most of his food and clothing. Hardcases get ambush camo, infiltration, and they can ignore rough terrain. They also have the first appearance of the Tactical Bow.

Somewhere along the line, the Infinity inhabitants forgot how to suppress guns. If you sneak up on someone and plug them in the back of the head or sword them, it makes enough noise that anyone within a certain radius will be alerted to your presence and you’ll no longer be able to surprise them. Knives and Tactical Bows have the Silent keyword attached, however, so you can murder with impunity, as long as no one sees you doing it. Tac bows have Double Action ammo and count as anti-material weapons, so they can be used to destroy certain bits of scenery. How that squares with Silent is above my pay grade.

Technically I lied to you about the number of engineers in the Ariadna lists. Irhmandinos are kind of a warband unit, like the werewolves here or the mutts in Haqq; they’re irregular impetuous, cheap, they’ve got smoke, and they’re as good at close combat as they are bad at shooting. They’re also, by bizarre happenstance, fully capable of handling Engineer objectives, repairing your fallen robots, etc. They’re not bad engineers, though not the best in the game by any stretch, and the one you’ll want to take with a template weapon is only 8 points. These guys are probably worth at least a little of your time.

Smugglers and thieves, Irmandinos slink along the rivers of Caledonia, selling bootleg scotch and stolen merchandise to whoever will take their trade. In addition to every one of them a genius with the duct tape and the percussive maintenance, they get the Booty and Scavenger skills.

Despite the odds, not that kind of Booty.

Booty is one of a number of skills in the game that lets you start out with a randomized piece of gear or trait that’s non-standard to your troop’s profile. On deployment, you roll on the chart to see what your model gets. Booty level 1 has things like +1 Armor or regular grenades, gets better with light flamethrowers grenade launchers, and can top out at things like +4 ARM or a monofilament close combat weapon. Booty level 2 gives access to better stuff, like a smart sniper rifle, an HMG, or a motorcycle.

Scavenger lets you exercise more choice. Move your Irhmandino into base-to-base with an unconscious enemy, and pick one piece of gear or one weapon. Congratulations, that’s yours now, your guy has a TAG-mounted railgun, or now he’s a hacker, or he’s got TO camo. It’s also an attack, used to finish off said downed enemy, which can occasionally be a bonus objective for missions.

There’s also the 45th Galwegians. They’re great at butchering guys in close combat, and crap at everything else. Irregular impetuous, smoke, etc. They get Berzerk, so they can take one on the chin to force you to take one on the chin too, and with Dogged, they won’t die until you kill them again or the end of the current turn. They may look strangely familiar to you, in fact.


Galwegins can also form a five-man fireteam in Caledonia, so long as you take

William Wallace (1270-ish to 1305), “Guardian of Scotland in the name of the King,” and subject of a wildly inaccurate film that nerds love for reasons I’ve never really been able to grasp.

During the Ariadnan Commercial Conflicts, when the major powers were trying to carve up the planet for their own purposes, ALEPH created Wallace with PanO and Yu Jing input. The plan was to drop Wallace in from orbit, have him wander in from the wilderness, and let his force of personality and skill at arms either take over Caledonia, or enable it to get the upper hand on the other Ariadnan states. With sudden and violent upheaval in the Ariadnan political system, the powers that be hoped to knock them out of consideration for recognition by the space UN, the O-12. That done, the planet would be free for the picking.

Because ALEPH is stupid, it dropped Wallace’s stealth capsule in via the north pole, ostensibly the hardest to detect because what idiot spends the delta vee for a polar orbit? Wallace’s capsule hit a severe polar storm on the way down, however, and veered hundreds of miles off course, deep into Antipode territory. The landing was rough, and Wallace took substantial head trauma that would have killed your baseline human. You guessed it, the head wound gave him amnesia and broke the communications hardware that let ALEPH whisper in his ear.

Leaking goop from his head and totally unaware of who or where he was, Wallace stumbled through the wilderness, killing any Antipode that attacked him, until a group of hunters found him. Picture a Scottish man with a head wound, built like a brick shithouse and covered in hair, nude but for a few mutant wolf skins that he obtained with his bare hands, bumping into a group of locals out on the stalk for hyper-deer or whatever - they discover he’s completely lost his mind, but he’d be happy to have a drink and a warm fire. That’s Celtic as fuck.

The hunters took him back to their village, assuming he was an injured Cateran. Wallace healed incredibly quickly, which was good, since all the Antipodes he’d killed had friends, and they were bearing down on the village with revenge on their group minds. As they attacked, Wallace leapt from bed and rallied the townsfolk, displaying an inherent understanding of tactics and leadership. Wallace’s efforts enabled the townspeople to fight off the Antipode force that should have by all rights rolled right over them, but by the same token, Wallace was the reason the wolves attacked in the first place, so he had to answer to the council of all the clans.

Imagine again, this lunatic with superhuman combat abilities, being called on the carpet by a bunch of old men, and the only response to any question about who he is and just what the hell he’s doing here he can muster is “I dunno.” Fortunately, the local Nomad trade mission had a representative in council that day, and they had previous experience when it came to stealing one of the Recreations. The Black Hand, the Nomad intelligence group, dispatched techs and agents in short order to pry all the ALEPH loyalty hardware out of Wallace’s head and fix him up. Wallace, for his part, wanted nothing to do with the AI overlord, and was perfectly happy to build a new identity in Caledonia.

Wallace is a swaggering braggart, but he’s earned at least most of that braggadocio through deed. He’s a little less of an asshole these days, as increasing experience and becoming a real boy have tempered the wild man in him.

Rules-wise, William Wallace is Joan in a skirt. He’s less durable and a little less deadly, but still fully capable of killing most things in melee. He too has Inspiring Leadership, so all those irregular units I’ve covered? All regular orders now… in Caledonia. Inspiring Leadership has to be on your LT to take effect, and the only LT profile Wallace has is available in the sectorial. So he’s not as generally useful as Joan, but substantially more so in his niche. Still, he’s 35 points and no SWC. If you’re playing Caledonians, it is wildly in your best interest to take him. For vanilla, eh, maybe pick something else if you really have to stab somebody.

Next: Finally, the Nomads.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

The Nomads

The Nomads are a kind of collective of collectives. They’re the dispossessed, they’re anarchists, they’re outright criminals. They’ve banded together out of necessity, and found they’re a power to be reckoned with as a result. They’re an inherently criminal element just by existing outside ALEPH’s purview, but living as a people apart and away from the all-seeing eye means they’re the last folks around who can keep a secret, and they charge richly for such a service.


The attitude of the Sphere powers, and of ALEPH, is largely to pretend that Nomads are nothing but a slight annoyance, unworthy of wasting time or money on. However, in truth, all of them would rather see the Nomad vessels disappear into a particularly hot sun.

The majority of the Nomad populace lives on three giant spaceships, the Tunguska, Corregidor and Bakunin. The other two ships probably would have survived on the fringes for a time, but it took Tunguska to unite them under one somewhat shared, fairly dirty banner. This founding state was in turn established by a bunch of vory and triad agents looking for an untouchable tax haven, data crypt and money laundering enterprise; they only got nicer from there.

Aside from the three great motherships, numerous independent vessels, standalone stations, and microcollectives fly the Nomad banner. The way most folks meet a Nomad is through one of their Commercial Missions. The Nomads will set up shop, very literally, on a station or in a city or what have you, and basically operate a combination consulate and service kiosk out of whatever space they can afford. Sometimes that’s a closet, sometimes that’s an entire space station, sometimes that’s a sprawling embassy with the best electronic security around built to spoil the local aristos’ view.

The missions will usually have a security detachment, representatives of the myriad companies and collectives of the nation, some bureaucrats and administrators, and a cultural office. Sometimes the cultural office is exactly what it seems, which is a way to show off to the proles of the Sphere that life is better down where it’s less-ALEPH-er, but most of the time it’s a front for the Black Hand, the Nomad intelligence service, like at any good diplomatic outpost. Commercial Missions and Delegations are prime spots to run away from home and join the cyber-circus, to pass along dead drops to your other intel agents, and to score the best space drugs, among the more legitimate services they offer.

The other thing Nomads bring with them is the Arachne network. If there’s one thing every Nomad out there can agree on, it’s that ALEPH and the powers that be are bastards never to be trusted. ALEPH owns the modern internet, so the Nomads eschew it altogether. Arachne nodes run the best encryption and security protocols humans have developed, and Nomad legations beam that business out everywhere they go, like an obnoxious digital frat party. In contrast to the carefully control datastreams, banking and content of the Mayanet, Arachne is every gritty cyberpunk ~*dark web*~ rolled into one and beamed out at the impressionable youth of Yu Jing, the money launderers and inside traders of PanO, and every other asshole in between. From dissident documentaries to pirated AR games, Arachne’s got your libertarian internet ideals covered.

The closest thing the Nomads have to a home system is Human Edge, appropriately located at the furthest edge of the colonization wavefront. Human Edge is pretty much a brown dwarf with some protoplanets and a hell of a lot of loose asteroids. As such, it’s not great territory for anyone to put down a permanent settlement, but it’s a fantastic location for space mining. Even then, nobody really lives there, and the other powers have just as much a claim on Human Edge as the Nomads.

Every twenty-five years, the three motherships and as many independent traders that can make it hold a huge party called a Krug. The locals tend not to appreciate the Nomads showing up unannounced on their space lawns and having a space kegger, shitting in their interplanetary pathways and vomiting on their dataspheres. The Nomads use the gathering of the kruggalos to keep a national spirit of sorts alive, to do business with each other, and to engage in intellectual and sexual intercourse. This is the typical time for someone to have a bad idea that becomes infectious, then go on to revolutionize some aspect of something or other and make the Nomads more money and bring prestige, yadda yadda yadda. Space party!

There is a government of sorts amid all this anarchism. An executive board comprising six members makes decisions for the whole of the nation. Each mothership appoints two members, selected internally however they so desire. The two Tunguska representatives hold veto power, since they’re nominally the ones who make all this work.

Prior to their recognition by the space UN, O-12, the Nomads had established a tentative political unity, but were still fair targets for open military intervention. Originally, they were disunified groups of weirdos on starships that occasionally were more useful than they were annoying. As their influence and technological expertise grew, however, that started to change, and the AI got worried. Since Tunguska had blackmail material and Corregidor was full of hardened criminals, ALEPH decided to kick sand in the nerds’ faces.

Bakunin was selected as the site of an ALEPH special operations insertion. The commandos initially spread out through the ship, then began an open attack on the ship’s core while simultaneously detonating bombs secreted about the ship’s habitation modules. The ALEPH commandos were eventually repulsed, but at the cost of hundreds of casualties and thousands of civilian deaths. There’s no record of this event outside the Nomad datasphere, as the AI is certainly not above manipulating records to maintain its innocence. A longer-term, lower-grade conflict ensued, with ALEPH pushing PanO and the State Empire to using their own deniable forces to harass and pressure the Nomads. This covert war is still ongoing as of the current point in the timeline.

So, Tunguska. Tunguska is a seething collection of mobsters and criminal bankers and genius hackers, and are consequently the most boring of the three motherships. The central portion of the ship is dedicated to a single vast datacrypt, where any illicit operation in the Sphere keeps its money and its records. Security is provided by a gigantic team of hackers, quantum physicists, and mobsters, who keep the peace by holding a knife to each other’s throats, sometimes literally. Anyone who breaks the rules gets shut down by sudden mob violence, and probably tortured by their creditors for a long time. Libertarianism: the humanitarian choice.

Because Tunguska was the one holding everyone else’s dirty money and secrets, they had substantial pull when it came time for the O-12 to recognize the Nomads as a sovereign polity. Let no one saw Don Corleone was not a diplomat. If you want to do business without ALEPH prying into your secrets, you do business with Tunguska.

Bakunin is like if you blended Las Vegas, Los Alamos and a library full of anarchist pamphlets and extruded the slurry into the form of a spaceship. Bakunin’s manifesto is straight forward - society serves the individual, not the other way around. Anyone is welcome on Bakunin, provided they follow the very limited law onboard, which goes:

Because Bakinin allowed everybody in, it didn’t take log for people to violate the laws. Crackdowns and the occasional banishment happened until people got their act together. Nowadays, Bakunin is home to cultists, perverts, ecoterrorists, wizards, eccentric rich people, poets, transhumanists, rockstars, mutants, malevolent scientists, and a whole other gigantic crop of punky noun-verbs verb-nouners that I’m sparing you. Rather than continuing to exile or shoot people, a new form of social currency was established. It’s basically the rep system from Eclipse Phase, only this time with a treasury department behind it - the Moderators. Moderators aren’t quite cops, because they’re anarchists, and they’re not quite revenuers, because that implies profit, but they do go out and crack heads when someone won’t abide by collective decision-making in the general habitat or when someone endangers the goddamn ship, again.

Bakunin can be divided into two approximate districts. There’s Vaudeville, which is the glitzy, social side of the ship. Behold the cyberpunk extravagance. Vaudeville is where you go for the most outre entertainments, body mods, memory surgeries, fashions, and bioengineered forms of life. This is Vegas on space cocaine. The shadier side of the ship is Praxis, site of the notorious Nomad Black Laboratories. These much less friendly black labs operate under the principle that discovery must be unchecked by restraint or ethics. On one hand, Praxis tech has stopped birth defects in an entirely spaceborne radiation-soaked population. On the other hand, Dr. Frankenstein. Praxis isn’t as horrible as the rest of the Sphere things, but it’s not much better, either. Notable creations of Praxis include the highest-end Nomad tech, the Equinox terrorist organization that was hunted down and destroyed by the Hassassins, and Svengali, a mobster AI dedicated to savoring its own criminality.

Corregidor is the best and its people are the best. The ship was initially built as a prison for the worst of the worst - it’s not much more than some ultramax holding cells and air and water recyclers, hung out at the end of a space elevator. Because people are people, soon the facility was enlarged to hold more people in increasingly awful conditions, including refugees from international collapses and displaced persons from the construction of additional space elevators. By the time things got real interesting, there was a six-figure population in the habitat and even basic order began to break down due to neglect at the hands of prison officials.

People again just had to go and be people: after a while, the funding for this space Alcatraz was cut, then cut off. Faced with impending apocalypse, the inhabitants turned to their one resource - warm bodies.

Corregidor lives and dies, very literally, by its manpower. Everything on the ship comes at a premium, and that premium is paid in labor. Air isn’t free; water has to be mined from comets; materials to expand the habitats or provide goods for the people have to be sourced and refined and distributed. People, though, they’re easy. They keep making more of themselves, for god’s sake. Corregidorians sell their labor, as some of the best miners, zero-gee workers, and mercenaries in the Human Sphere. They’re good enough these days that they can largely pick and choose their clients, and they come down on crooked contracts, scabs, and other criminal capitalists with an iron boot.

But they didn’t always have the luxury of choice. Back in the first days, after the money and the food ran out, they still had people. Some very special people, as it turned out. An interim government, not much more than some remaindered prison officials and some of the refugees who could keep their heads about them, started looking into the cells and the secure cryo pods. The logic was simple - if someone got sent to Corregidor ultramax, it was for a reason. They’d either have friends who’d love to have the prisoners back in their arms, or enemies, who’d love even more to get their hands on the convicts. Anyone who could be used in this new worker’s state was retained. Valuable pieces were sold to the highest bidder. And any prisoners left after that, well, they were surplus.

Everything on Corregidor has a price.

Life on Corregidor is hard, but fair, for the most part. Inhabitants start working on their sixth birthday, pulling a certain number of hours per week working on basic maintenance tasks and learning procedures, zero-gee training, and other instructional tasks. Things continue like this, with more complex tasks given to older workers, until they reach the age of majority, where they can either pay their way in money or labor, or get out. Any shirkers are sentenced to a maintenance battalion until they pay off their debt.

As a side note, Corregidor has gender-neutral bathrooms. The prose is pretty terrible, but the short version is that a bunch of idiots decided to prank a women’s labor group by changing the bathroom signs in a fit of juvenile posturing signs. Rather than use the bathrooms with an insulting name on the doors, the women just shrugged and occupied the men’s rooms. At this point, it’s become a tradition, and nobody cares what you use when you go to the head, so long as you piss down the recycler tube.

There’s a section of the second fluff book devoted to a showcase of Corregidor’s mining contractors and how they work, then a description of how that same mining colony’s owners got greedy, the ensuing strike and revolt, and finally a military report on the Mobile Brigada kicking down the company owner’s doors to relieve the strikers. Corregidor is basically the best.

Next: The nomad units, and it’s gonna be another big one.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

I hear you guys like weird Christian heresies.

Nomad Units

There are going to be few sections without images in this update; Tunguska just got fully-certified as a real people army, and they’re still catching up making models for the new profiles. Image quality may also suffer when they’re available, and I apologize for that.

Alguaciles, Moderators, and Securitate

Nomad line infantry is weird, especially in vanilla lists. Alguaciles map to the basic troop choice from other factions, while Moderators are a little weaker. Both have total availability in vanilla, so you can take as many as you can fit in your list; in sectorials, you get unlimited Alguaciles in Corregidor, total Moderators in Bakunin, etc. You can only take three Securitate in vanilla, however. Securitate are strictly better with Haqq-like Willpower, and are correspondingly expensive.

Of particular note are their equipment choices. Alguaciles are meant to fight other units, and they get HMGs, missile launchers and other heavy weapons. Moderators, as ostensibly the neutrality police, get far fewer weapon choices, but they can take a pitcher, which lets you launch a marker out like a grenade. That marker creates a hacking zone around it, letting your hackers do their work without having to run up board. Securitate have options to just carry a similar piece of gear with them - they can’t throw it out, they just exude a hacking zone. They’re also your best line trooper choice to be hackers, and they get some fancier heavy weapons to represent their semi-elite status.

Weirder still are the lieutenant options. Typically, most factions will let you take a grunt as your LT at no extra cost. Sectorials will change that up as a thematic thing. Here, an Alguacile will cost you one of your six SWC points for the privilege, a Securitate won’t cost you a dime, and a Moderator LT will run a whopping 2 SWC, or a third of your budget for special gear and weapons. I appreciate Corvus Belli offering me the chance to stick a fork in the wall socket, but I’m not sure what this particular LT tax is meant to accomplish.

All three species of line trooper are their mothership’s respective gendarmerie. Securitates do indeed have black sunglasses and collars and ties sculpted onto their miniatures.

The Moderators in that image may look familiar to you. See, CB will do this thing where they want to make a reference to something popular, but instead of a knowing wink and a grin, they just give you the thing. Here, we can see Literally the Collector, Yondu, Gamorra and Nebula. Once in a while it’s a nice joke, but they seriously need to lay the hell off lately.

L-R: Zondbot, Clockmaker, Daktari, Zondbot
Presumably you’re English literate otherwise.

The general support models for the Nomads are atrocious. They’re some of the oldest sculpts in the entire game, and it shows. I had to fix my Daktari by process of constructive decapitation. The engineer’s got frigging raver pants. That wasn’t even a thing by the time this game launched. Just... sometimes it’s hard to like this game.

Daktaris are your doctors, Clockmakers are your engineers. They’re perfectly alright profiles, if maybe a little overcosted. They don’t do a whole lot other than their specified function, so they’re rarely taken.

Clockmakers are described as “the most valuable contribution of Bakunin to the Nomad Military Force,” which is decidedly not true. Daks are a little more interesting. They were originally a corps of doctors sent to Corregidor for absolutely astounding levels of medical malpractice, and volunteered to serve in the military to avoid getting handed back to their former patients during the Red Auction, the sale of all those valuable inmates. These newly-minted field medics weren’t prepared for the experience of getting shot at, to the point that these days screamed profanity and muttered curses on the COs are seen as good bedside manner in a firefight.

Zoe Nemova is the daughter of a once-prominent Tunguskan data banker. Zoe was afflicted with a biological weapon as a child, and Papa Nemov broke the code to get enough money to cure her. The old man turned himself in to his rivals, earning him a short but very exciting vacation for the rest of his life, and five years’ stay of execution for his family. Don’t short the mob.

Zoe, between the remains of her affliction and being blown the fuck up a few times, is now more machine than person, and she spends her time in transhumanist reverie trying to improve her components. Pi-well is the only confidant she has, as something she build while on the run.

Zoe’s a curious choice as a specialist, since she’s an engineer equipped with a hacking device, so you’re getting two for one. She’s got good WIP but pretty mediocre stats. Pi-well isn’t any great shakes as a unit, but between the two of them, they can accomplish hacker, engineer, forward observer, and scenery destruction objectives. Problem is you’re paying 47 points for one unit (albeit with two figures) to do all that and hope it doesn’t get exploded. Hackers are also vulnerable to hacking attacks, shockingly, so she’s gaining a semi-substantial weakness in exchange for a capability you may not want to even use on her, given the plethora of other great hacking options in the faction. Zoe’s kind of a wash.

Now forget those scrubs, because this is the best unit in the game. Tomcats are zero-gee emergency responders. Here’s their stats and loadout, because I could go on for a while otherwise.

On first glance, they’re not that special. Decent statline, very affordable specialists. The key is that they’ve got just enough in the way of abilities to be very useful, without racking up a critically high price.

Airborne Infiltration lets them walk in off the board edge anywhere that’s not an enemy Deployment Zone. Climbing plus means they can just run up the sides of obstacles and right back down, so terrain between them and their target isn’t a big deal. They’ve got a combi rifle and light flamethrower, so they force a bad decision on any combatants arranged against them - do I dodge or shoot back? They’ve got a robot buddy that’s fast and hard to hit, so the Tomcat can go work on an objective while the zondcat goes off to fix a drone or medic a fallen target. You’ve even got a combat option if you just want to annoy the other player by walking in a rocket launcher off the board in his back half. Tomcats do a little bit of everything, they do it just well enough, and they’re cheap enough to take two. For whatever reason, nobody seems to ever expect you to take two AD specialists. I can’t say enough good things about Tomcats.

Rightly so, the fluff praises them by saying that every kid on Corregidor wants to be a Tomcat when they grow up. When you live on a cobbled-together spaceship made out of a former lowest-bidder supermax prison, you really appreciate having someone around to repair your hull breaches and resuscitate the folks who get blown out into space.

Alright, time to rip the bandaid off.

Interventors are some of the best hackers in the game. Nomads in general are real good at hacking, and Interventors are the best at it. Because you can usually leave them in a safe area protected by your order generators, a lot of people like to make their Interventor their LT, because it’s obvious, therefore you can keep using that Lieutenant Order coupled with their high Willpower, the do-it-all attribute. The little panda is a deployable repeater that can move under its own power, until you have it root in place and start repeating. Interventors have WIP 15 and BTS 9, which means they’re hard to attack via hacking. They are generally good and an excellent choice over many other hacking options in this faction, even if that will make you a little predictable. In the fluff, Interventors are the best of the computer criminal element, recruited by Tunguska for a fat paycheck to keep doing crimes, but on the mob’s payroll. Have you see a science fiction movie made in the 1990s? Then you know what an Interventor is.

Hacking is a really useful set of skills that are presented in the most mind-bogglingly stupid fashion possible. How CB arranged the hacking section of the book is the dumbest thing in the entirety of Infinity, and that’s including all the bad localization and the problems in the FAQs and the Tech-bee.

Look at this stupid fucking table.

This is useless garbage. The hacking section is already in the advanced rules part of the rulebook, so it’s deemed more complex than the morale rules, special skills, equipment and ammo types, and basically every other rule in the game. Every hacking program has a twee special name that’s only sometimes descriptive. It has callbacks to special ammo types, so I hope you’ve got those memorized, because here they are in a completely different context. The descriptions are useless until you find the actual program entry. Do you know if you get the program based off the type of hacking device you’re using? No, go look at another chart, eat shit.

Worst of all, there’s the fucking categories. CLAW-1 and UPGRADE-2 and that shit. Those are meaningless. Nothing is ever impacted by those categories, but that’s how the authors chose to organize this entire complex chapter. It’s such a fundamental failure of design that I’m actually getting mad, mad about tables and charts.

Here’s how to fix hacking: Make a list of programs by target. Enemy hackers, friendly units, TAGs, etc. Then give the name. Then a description of what it does. Some program do damage, some cause status effects. Tell the users what they do, instead of crappy abbreviations. Spell out how many dice you need to roll when you use the hacking program. Tell us what happens to the target when they’re hit.

Like this. Captain Spud was able to build this in a basement. From a PDF of scraps.

Hacking works like this. Roll your WIP with the relevant modifiers from the program (a weapon), the enemy tries to respond if they can, if they fail their BTS (armor) roll they take (a wound/status effect/whatever). It’s the same fucking mechanic as every other interaction in the game. The only real exceptions are a couple of passives, and those act like regular skills.

Anyway, Interventors are really good at hacking the Gibson. Among their talents: impair guided ammo, impair combat jumpers, boost the combat jump of your own troops, give all your robots better aim, protect your heavy infantry and TAGs from getting hacked with a BTS boost, immobilize or isolate enemy HI and TAGs, force a manned TAG to eject its pilot, create the hacking equivalent of smoke for use against enemy multispectral visors, enter the weakest impersonate state, and of course, fry the brains of an enemy hacker. Interventors get more tools to work with, and better ones to choose from.

Hacking area is important as well. A target of your hacking attempts has to be within a certain distance of a hacker or their repeaters unless otherwise specified - zapping an enemy or buffing your remotes must, buffing your heavy infantry is excepted. Having a ton of repeaters, like the pitcher above or remotes with built-in repeaters, is generally to your advantage, and Nomads excel at shitting hacking coverage everywhere. There is one downside - if an enemy hacker (not an enemy repeater, one of their actual guys) is in your hacking area, they can attack you through it as they subvert your wifi and load torrents of bestiality porn and Last Man Standing onto your network. This is a little harder than normal hacking, so it acts as though the owner of the network being hacked is in internet-cover, making it harder to hit them and they’re more durable if they’re tagged.

Note Ariadna doesn’t have to deal with any of this shit unless they really, really want to. It’s a strong argument for their faction.

Zondnautica are the Nomad motorcyclists, introduced when Tunguska became a full-fledged army. They’re as fast as the good bikers, and they’re durable and killy. The best part is that when you dismount, your bike transforms and follows you around as backup. While that’s cool, I’m more interested to see if the addition of bikers will substantially change Nomad listbuilding habits. Motorcycle units are great fun, especially for someone like me who likes go-fast units, but because they use the largest regular base size, they’re very easily disempowered by a table layout.

Hecklers mark the first introduction of a Jammer to non-Haqq units, and there’s a few new profiles coming down the line for other factions, too. Hecklers can deploy upfield in one-time use camouflage. I haven’t heard a lot of scuttlebutt about them breaking games, and they’re nowhere near as cheap as the Ghazi Muttawi’ah. I suppose you could do worse.

Hecklers are harassment and dirty tricks guys, and that’s reflected in their loadout with the jammer and a killer hacking device, and their up-field ambush ability. I’d like them better if they had mines, for the full suite of booby traps.

As a general rule, anyone wearing the red overalls in Nomad pictures is a Corregidor unit, black overalls Tunguska, and mostly white somethingorother is Bakunin. I feel like this gets taken to an extreme with the Hellcats, who are dressed like Alguaciles wearing a jump harness. That seems a little lightly dressed for orbital drop troopers.

As far as jumping goes, Hellcats are some of the best at it in the game. Instead of coming off a board edge like parachutists or AD Infiltrators, Hellcats nominate a position on the board, roll against their Physique value, and scatter if they fail. A Hellcat has PH 13, but with their skills and a friendly hacker guiding them in (or, in a twist I think is really cool, missions with a designated drop zone like a helipad), they have to get an 18 or under to not scatter. They’re even better with this rules season, where you can place ‘em anywhere they fit, rather than on a template.

While they’re really good at jumping into position, once they get there, Hellcats are just kinda okay. You can get a light machine gun model that’s an okay shot, but not great, for about 30 points and 1.5 SWC. A specialist will run you 24 points at the cheapest, which would be okay if you knew you were going to be up against some unfavorable terrain. Their biggest problem is that the Yu Jing drop troop, the Tiger Soldier, is just better.

Wildcats are a cool set of models looking for a useful niche to fill. Notable for being the kind of people that a space prison full of hardened reprobates uses as a penal squad. I guess if you wanted another engineer unit, and you had no Tomcats, and suffered from brain damage, they might be worthy of consideration.

Above, Prowlers. Below, Zeros.

For once, having some samey models pays off. Prowlers and Zeros fill a similar role as camouflage infiltrators. Problem is that Zeros are cheaper and have more specialists and better gear, while Prowlers are slightly fragile, slower goons who’re meant to deploy upfield and shoot people, instead of using sneaky tricks. As you can see, however, the Prowlers are much, much better models - that’s actually the best-looking Zero in the line. Solution: proxy ‘em, which is now tournament legal. They’re basically the same profile anyway, so everyone wins.

Prowlers and Zeros are both part of the Bakunin military contingent. They both sneak. Prowlers are called out as so dedicated to their lives as deniable assets that they don’t have Cubes, except they totally do in their profile block. Zeros got their name because of their astonishingly low casualty rates and mission failure percentages. Big empty shrug.

Bran do Castro is our named Zero, and not actually a recreation of the Monkey King, just a perversion of science. Bran does all the stuff above, but better, for 37 points. He’s pretty good. You remember all that crap about Zeros being Zeros because of percentages? Horseshit, it’s because this guy’s a Triple Zero, which is one zero more than that other espionage guy, aren’t we so cool, neener neener neener. Going to town on someone with Sun Wu Kong never gets old, though.

These guys get the glamor shots because they’re just that good. I take Intruders very nearly as often as I take Tomcats in my lists, and that’s only because every so often I want to see how I’ll do without them. Prowlers wish they could be Intruders. They’re not so great on the surface. They’re about as murderous as your standard PanO jerk armed with an equivalent weapon - they’re actually pretty comparable to the PanO Nisse, which is like a Bolt wrapped in an arctic coat. Intruders have camouflage, but they don’t infiltrate. They’re not TO camo, so they don’t get hidden deployment. They’re just nice, survivable guys with access to big guns and the ability to see through smoke and camo. The sniper variant even ignores range penalties, if you want to put it up somewhere in the midfield and annoy the crap out of your opponent. Intruders die very easily to close combat and weapons that ignore camouflage modifiers, but if you’re smart, you’ll pair them with

Jaguars, another cheap Corregidorian unit. These guys all come with close-range weapons, they’re exceedingly dangerous in close combat, and they have smoke. Traditionally, warband units like are things like the dog-warriors or Shaolin monks. Jags are regular, however, so they contribute orders to your pool, and that’s a big deal.

The Jaguar-Intruder dynamic is a good primer on Nomad playstyle as a whole. Each unit has some deficiencies, but they’re generally a good choice from what you have available, and if you use them together, they shore up each other’s weaknesses and accentuate each other’s strengths.

Intruders are the standard covert operations dudes you’d expect, although I did think it was notable that they’re specifically charged with protecting the Nomad people, as opposed to punishing their enemies. Jaguars are gangsters from the Corregidor slums rounded up by the Alguaciles and put to more productive work, to the point they’re almost a special police division in and of themselves, charged with keeping the peace between the gangs onboard.

Then there’s the Observance. Get comfortable, this parts’s gonna be real Spanish.

The One Holy Apostolic and Catholic Space Church owes its return to power and revival in no small part to ALEPH and the concomitant ability to hand out resurrections. In a shocking display of realism, Corvus Belli’s writers note that this created some severe schisms in the bits of Christendom that weren’t along for the computer ride. The Papacy loves dissent and division in the church, and the word “purge” is thrown around for a paragraph or so. Short version, mainline Christianity in 2177 is Catholic, secretive and Not, or Weird. If you wanted to be space Mormon or space snake handlers or, god forbid, Lutheran, you kept in the closet, or you went to Bakunin. One of these numerous cult commune modules eventually mutated into the Observance.

The movement started in an Orthodox convent somewhere in the Aegean. The Abbess there was one Mother Superior Ligia Persakis, a charismatic speaker and heir to great temporal wealth and access, as well as a genetic proclivity for schizotypal personality disorder. Mother Ligia was also the holder of a PhD in archaeology and ancient Greek history.

Persakis didn’t take kindly to the worship of a false idol, declaiming the transfer of authority to ALEPH as anathema, a forsakening of the covenant between Man and God. Her message began to gain ground among those against the takeover of Christianity by a malevolent, or possibly just dim-witted, supercomputer. So she was excommunicated! Horns.aiff

Mother Ligia went off on kind of a theological bender, being rather understandably upset at getting kicked out of the church that was her life. She reported visions of Mary, interceding on behalf of both Ligia’s convent and womenhood itself. Persakis took a sharp turn into hereseyville, proclaiming Mary the representation of Gaia, of the mother goddess of ancient pagan mystery cults, and of female power in general.

Today, the Observance of St. Alia Mary of the Knife, Our Lady of Mercy, is a syncretic cult that is militantly pro-feminist, seeking to return to a time in antiquity before men defanged the old feminine deities, and violently against any incarnation of ALEPH. The areligious hedonists of Bakunin gave them a quick once over, figured they weren’t going to hurt anyone they cared about, and conscripted them in exchange for more hab space on the ship.

Behold, sexy Catholodox pagan space nun hackers.

The Observance is the most successful cult on Bakunin, so whatever they’ve got going on, they’re highly competitive in the marketplace of ideas against future space porn and generalized decadence. The highest reaches of the Observance are known of, but not known - there’s an Abbess, who has the final say in things, and a group of Mother Superiors overseeing the various orders. Who these women - and we can be certain they’re women, although there are male members of the Observance - are unknown even to the prying eyes of the Black Hand. The Observance are leading experts in AI research, because nothing makes you hate something like really understanding how it works. Especially in Space IT.

Reverend Moiras are the basic Observance units. They’re substantially better at close combat than most Nomads, and pretty well-armored. They can form fireteams of their own, and either a named character or a doctor-nun can tag along if you want. Moiras are built for combat, with okay special weapon choices. You can take a hacker variant, but you probably want one of their bigger sisters for that. The most notable thing about Moiras is that they all have an Optical Disruption Device, which is Not Quite TO Camo. You force a -6 to all BS rolls against you, but you can’t enter a marker state. It’s similar to Mimetism, which is the -3 to BS rolls from Camouflage, but also without a marker state option. It’s not bad to have for increasing your chances of running across an open fire lane without getting tagged, but you still have to worry about crits just murdering Moiras outright.

Reverend Healers are actually a little better at fighting than Moiras, but their equipment’s less good. They get standard weapons and only Mimetism to help protect them. Every R. Healer is a Doctor, so they’re specialists that can help pick up the pieces of your other Observance units when they get splattered.

Reverend Custodiers are where the Observance really shines. Almost as good as an Interventor, but harder to physically kill, I like to take one as a Lieutenant and let my repeaters do the walking. Custodiers uniformly have great models, even if they’re all on the older side.

Sin-Eaters have one job: sit there and hold a position. They have the Neurocinetics skill, which you may remember from Yu Jing’s Yan Huo. Neurocinetics lets you fire your full burst value in a reactive action, instead of knocking it down to one. So, if you take a Sin Eater that doesn’t have an HMG, you’re doing it wrong. Although taking a Sin-Eater in general is doing it wrong, because a total reaction bot does the same thing but cheaper, can fire full burst in active and reactive turns, and it’s not like you’re not gonna take the requisite hacker in a Nomad list anyway.

Sin-Eaters aside, the problem with the Observance units is that they’re medium infantry, and even if you link them, they only have 4-2 MOV. At most, they’re getting six inches up the board per order you spend on them. They’re expensive but on the fragile side. They’re killy, but not quite as killy as some of the heavy infantry. They get great hacker options, but so does everything else in this faction. They just don’t have anything outstanding to recommend them for how much they’ll cost you. You probably wouldn’t take any Moiras or Sin-Eaters, and Healers or Custodiers are conditional at best.

The Observance is real big on mystery cult shenanigans and mortification of the flesh. One of their core rituals involves hammering sanctified nails into their backs, one for each of their seven core beliefs (which are never elaborated on, to my knowledge). Sin-Eaters get the worst of the castigation, as a means of paying penance for the sins of Man. Becoming a Sin-Eater is the highest you can get as a man in the Observance - otherwise you’re around to clean the floors and keep the mystic incense stocked. Moiras are named after spirits of vengeance, and comprise the majority of the Black Hand’s tactical section. You should paint them so they’re wearing full body armor instead of battle bikinis. Healers are big believers in tough love, specifically the kind where they beat the hell out of you, fix you up, and then go back to beating the hell out of you for being sinful. Custodiers are advanced agents of the Observance, and tend to be young, since their training starts at an extremely early age to get them acclimated for cybercombat against a growing computer god. Lasting a few minutes in a hacking duel against an ALEPH incarnation is equivalent to spending a couple years on campaign as a foot soldier.

For being such broad strokes caricatures of feminists, I actually kind of like the Observance. Horny sculptors aside, the actual fluff continuously paints them as menacing releigious nutsos first and foremost, and in every other context as outstanding badasses. There’s a notable silence on the issue of trans people for such a devoutly female cult, but given their interactions with a character further down the line, I feel like you’d really have to do some legwork to see the Observance as TERFs.

Speaking of radical feminists, here are some of the kick-flipping punk rock variety. Riot Grrls are my choice for the standout Nomad heavy infantry, although I haven’t had a chance to play with the new guys. 4-4 MOV, 15 CC, and a 13 in every other action stat, plus ARM/BTS 3 and two Wounds makes Riot Grrls fast, punchy, and just tough enough. They also get MSV 1 (remove the penalty to shoot at regular camo) and Hyper-Dynamics, which lets them dodge at a 16 or less.

RGs hail from the Beauvoir module of Bakunin, and have established a movement renown for its anarchist tendencies even among the inhabitants of that mothership. Most Riot Grrls come from the marginal neighborhoods of the Sphere, with a particularly high grouping of Ateks, the disenfranchised of PanOceania. They’re good!

Corregidor’s heavy infantry option, the Mobile Brigada are just a hair more adept at killing things than Riot Grrls, but lack their cool toys and cost a lot more. Brigada are really only good for two things, which is 1) taking a somewhat obvious LT choice in Corregidor, or 2) running a full five-man fireteam of them for the maximum amount of shooting things Corregidor can do. You have to fully commit to the gimmick to get your money’s worth out of Brigada, and that utterly devastates me, because they have the best models and fluff.

Corvus Belli posted:

In addition to the usual tasks given to heavy infantries, Brigadas serve a key purpose as an implied threat to any customers of Corregidor who might be tempted to abuse their newly hired labor. In the past, some of the most brazen breaches of contract against Corregidorian workers have been resolved with a ‘hostile takeover’ in the form of Mobile Brigada units forcefully occupying entire compounds. The infringing companies were forced to buy back their own facilities by settling their debt with Corregidor. Their position as defenders of worker’s rights makes them a treasured institution to Corregidorians, who know these armored heroes have their backs at all times.

They’re so cool, and I can almost never justify taking them. It’s a damned tragedy.

Kriza Boracs occupy a curious place in the Nomad roster. They’re Silhouette 5 heavy infantry, so bigger than a RG or a Brigada, but smaller than a dog-warrior or a baby TAG. They’re very good at combat, and as durable as some TAGs. They’re built to be posted up in a place by themselves and defend ground, or to rambo up the board alone - and that’s just not something Nomad units do. As I’ve mentioned, you need to use Nomad units in concert with each other to get the most mileage out of them. Depending on who you ask, Krizas are either a case of incipient power creep, or a new and curious direction for the Tunguska sectorial.

Part of the complaints stem from the Kriza getting introduced at the same time as a new rule, Full Auto. Full Auto level 1 gives you +1 Burst in your active turn, so if you picked the HMG option, one attack would roll five dice against your opponent - that’s a hell of a lot in Infinity terms. Full Auto level 2, which the Kriza has, is level 1, plus when you shoot at someone, they take a -3 modifier to react to you in any way. Personally, I think most of the hubbub was just “here is something new that sounds scary, I don’t like it.” It’s been a goodly few months since the introduction of Full Auto, and nobody’s quit the game en masse yet.

Taskmasters are unremarkable except for the fact they are literally the Moderator SWAT division assigned to deal with escaped mad science experiments.

Geckos may as well be called Mobile Brigada 2: Brigade Harder. They fill the same roles, with higher stat lines and commensurate costs, while not being terribly special. They’ve got an extra hit point, and that’s about it.

Nomad TAGs are PanO cast-offs, bought up through front companies and refitted to be better than new. Practically, this means they’re just a little subpar compared to the current PanO line. If you’re gonna steal a design wholesale, you could definitely do worse than the Guges from Appleseed.

Iguanas are a little more interesting than the Geckos or the likes of the Guija. Strictly speaking, they’re very average in stats. They do carry around a repeater, so they’re more protected from hacking attacks than your garden variety TAG. They also have an ejection system for the pilot - that’s the little model in the picture. At the very least, your Iguana cannot be crit to death right off the bat - the TAG itself has only two hit points, but the pilot will be thrown out of the machine and into a protective cloud of smoke even if it’s shot down right from the first order. Once out of the TAG, the pilot behaves like a typical heavy infantry unit with an HMG, although unlike other TAG pilots, they’re not specialists.

Not much to say about them fluff-wise, but Iguanas have absolutely fantastic models. It’s like Jeuty and Unit-02 had a sextoped lovechild.

Old Szally, new Szally.

Tunguska runs the Szalamandra, named for the fire spirit. Szally is pretty crazy and the exception to the Nomad TAGs, in that it’s one tough cookie. Its pilot can dismount and become a killer hacker, although sadly you can’t hack back when you’re busy piloting your giant robot.

Just a wee difference in sculpting techniques over the years, there. This is also a good time to mention that I love the Nomad racing stripe aesthetic.

Morans are great units in desperate need of new sculpts. Maasai and proud of it, Morans flaunt their African roots with some sweet dreads and capes. They’re solid camo infiltrators that are, yes, also repeaters. His little friends there are Crazy Koalas, perimeter weapons that run up to their targets and explode like a mine.

The fluff spends a good deal of time extolling the martial virtues of the Maasai, how they’re justifiably proud of their heritage, aaand then closes by calling them exotic and noting they’ll cut out your heart and drink your blood. Good work, CB, class act.

Old Morlocks, Uberfallkommando

Bakunin’s got kind of a German thing going on, incidentally. Morlocks and Uberfallkommando are Bakunin’s skirmishers, the answer to Jaguars in Corregidor and Tunguska’s giant pile of bullshit that I’m covering elsewhere.

Morlocks are similar in function to Irmandinos, though none of them are specialists. You could give them a real gun, or you could give your weird mutant a template weapon and let them do their thing, which is to scream up the board leaving smoke droppings all over the place. Six points makes ‘em a winner, especially with Metachemistry, to represent their weird individual mutations. While you can get +1 ARM or regeneration from Metachemistry, the one you really want on your random roll for Morlocks is the MOV boost, so that they can run eight inches, then another four inches. Here’s the problem with Morlocks:

Those are the new Morlock sculpts. They’re just the Zack Snyder Suicide Squad. That one’s literally just shitty halloween costume Harley Quinn. I hate these as much as I love Tomcats and the Szalamandra. Like, they put out a special edition bust for the OG tentacle head lady, since she was so iconic, and then they scrap all those and give us this garbage. It drives a body to drink.

Morlocks are the standard irregular imeptuous model, and they all do their own thing once you turn them loose. Uberfallkommando operate on the buddy system. The fox furry is the controller, called the Chimera, and she does not fuck around. First off, she’s got a viral close combat weapon (remember viral?), she causes a penalty against enemy units in hand to hand because she’s got scary pheremones, and to go with her CC of 21, she has the Natural Born Warrior skill. A couple of units have had this, and it allows you to shortcircuit the other guy’s close combat boosters. Fighting a berserker, or some asshole JSA guy with Martial Arts level 5? Cool, NBW doesn’t care. Neutralize all their bonuses and make them fight fair.

This gets even better when the Pupniks, her band of mutant buddies, get in the fray. They’re all G:Synchronized, like the Auxbot remote, so they all act on the Chimera’s order and move as one. Because all the Uberfallkommando move at the same time and rate, they’re good at staying grouped up. You can leverage this to your distinct advantage if you can get all of them into a fight. Ordinarily, you’d only roll one die in close combat, unless otherwise specified. But you get a bonus die for having a friend in melee with you. An Uberfallkommando unit, if they all survive, can eat Joan or a Fiday for breakfast, possibly literally.

To encourage their survival, the Chimera has Eclipse smoke grenades. These block regular line of sight and multispectral visors - nothing can see through Eclipse smoke.

Take Morlocks if you want a more distributed set of risks and for wider smoke coverage, or take the Uberfallkommando if you want to eviscerate someone in close combat.

Repeat offenders against the common good of Bakunin, or those that repeatedly threaten the safety of the ship, are either spaced, or turned into Morlocks. Grim! The Chimera is actually a Moderator on the Vice Squad. Because it’s the hedonistic anarchist habitat, apparently Battlebots but with genetically engineered lifeforms is a popular sport, albeit one that’s illegal in the public areas of the ship. Chimeras are so wildly altered from their birth body that they no longer have Wounds, they have Structure, like a remote or a TAG. Also grim, possibly dark!

Tsyklon, Salyuts, Meteor Zond

For every Nomad unit that’s kinda ho-hum, there is at least one remote that’s absolutely fantastic.

Nomad remotes are some combination of faster, murderier, more kitted-out, or all of the above in comparison to their peers. Now, remotes are hackable, and they can be broken pretty easily. They don’t dodge well, and they’re usually big targets. Putting a remote into close combat is outright foolish. You might reconsider taking some of them in another army. In Nomads, you’d be a fool not to at least take one of the cheap ones for the orders, if for no other reason than every one of them is a repeater, except the one that’s also a hacker itself.

Lunokhods are like the Tsykon’s bigger sibling. They pack heavy shotguns and either a heavy cannon or a heavy flamethrower, plus crazy koalas and demolition charges. Lunokhods really punch above their weight class, and their only failing is that they’re pretty large targets. Tsyklons, meanwhile, are a touch more expensive in exchange for longer-ranged weapons.

Salyuts are baggage bots with repeater, the somewhat-unique combination of Total Reaction and a combi rifle, or an EVO hacker. EVO hackers are able to do digital knife fights, but are mostly to provide buffs to your army. They get general utility programs, some special utilities, and provide passives like an automatic +3 to PH for airborne deployment rolls, or permitting you to make coordinated hacking attacks. They tend to cost SWC, but they’re good to have around.

Finally, the Meteor Zond rounds out the Nomad unique remotes. I don’t know of any other traditional remote with airborne deployment. As if dropping this bad boy down on your enemy’s head wasn’t fun enough, it’s also a forward observer and can designate targets for triangulated fire, plus it can reveal hidden deployed troops.

Nomads have a bunch of special characters, but I’m going to shunt most of them into the StarCo section. We’ll stick with the tradition of looking at recreations to finish off this already too-long entry.

Avicenna, or Abu Ali al-Husayan ibn Sina (979-1037) was the author of The Canon of Medicine, the standard medical reference for the Islamic world and the more with-it parts of the west for a good four centuries after his death. An important philosopher and medical doctor, who quite enjoyed partying, Avicenna was lauded as the “Prince of Physicians.”

If you’ll recall the Haqq unit update, I very intentionally elided over Saladin not being the first Recreation built for life on Bourak. Project “Hakim” was ALEPH’s first shot at subverting the Haqqislamite diaspora, built to embody everything the religion holds dear. The Hassassins, operating in conjunction with the Black Hand, kidnapped Avicenna before he could be deployed and staged his violent, explosive, evidence-erasing death. The Praxis labs systematically purged the Recreation of ALEPH’s control mechanisms, both physical and electronic. Once that was done, his mind-state was partially reset, giving him temporary amnesia, before being uploaded into a top-of-the-line Hassassin artificial body and shipped off as part of a witness protection program.

This new Avicenna spent some years as a medical student at the University of Medina, carefully and closely monitored by agents from both covert agencies at all times. Like the OG Avicenna, she was a notorious party animal, but one of the most gifted medical minds the University had seen. By the time she graduated, the original fragments of the recreations memory had reemerged and integrated with the witsec programming. Quite happy to chart her own destiny and give ALEPH the finger, Avicenna roams the stars partying copiously, taking mercenary contracts to pay for her excesses and doing the occasional good deed to really piss off the AI.

Gameplay-wise, Avicenna is a pretty respectable specialist. She’s got Doctor Plus, so she can raise someone up to full health from unconscious. She’s not a great fighter, but she’s somewhat hard to put down; her greatest asset is a 6-2 MOV value, so if you need her to book it over to a downed unit or the objective, she’s pretty speedy.

Fuck you, ALEPH.

Next: Tohaa, unfortunately.


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post


The Tohaa were a mistake and Infinity would be a better game for their exclusion.

The Tohaa’s greatest crime is that they’re boring. I could deal with being OP, or being superfluous plot-wise, if they had something else going on. Instead, they’re they sad reboot to the Combine Army’s original ridiculous 80’s action movie. In play, they have a few gimmicks they pound into the dirt, and they’re a chore to play against. Some people like them and enjoy playing Tohaa armies; they are entitled to their opinion, and they are still wrong.

Ordinarily, the Tohaa fluff wouldn’t make sense presented outside the context of the Combined Army. Good news, it’s still crap even with context.

Here’s the most interesting thing about the Tohaa: they’re assholes and they collapsed the wormhole the second wave of Ariadnan colonists were traveling through, then did horrible experiments on those colonists.

That’s it.

The Tohaa are visitors from another part of the galaxy, chasing non-sentient but vastly knowledgeable living computers, which the Evolved Intelligence is also doing. These artichoke-headed pricks are trying to use us as auxiliaries in their war against the EI over these slimy McGuffins because they’re absolutely shitty at their job, which is to fight the EI over these slimy McGuffins. If there’s some kind of backbiting antics that involve the EI taking a dump on humanity, the Tohaa probably engineered it. The Tohaa government is lying to its citizens, they started the war with the EI, and there’s an entire civilization of quisling Tohaa living in EI territory that are much happier these days, even accounting getting used as Combined Army shock troops.

Tohaa have bad eyesight and communicate by sounds and pheromones. They’re usually green and look like Thane from Mass Effect. They have a serious hard-on for the number 3, which is holy in their society because ~fartz~, possibly literally. Therefore, Tohaa can form three-man fireteams out of a bunch of miscellaneous units. Cool, except every other army can do that now, and more besides.

That thing the Blackjack and Ratnik did where they lose abilities when they take a wound? Beefy Tohaa units have that, but it’s a biomechanical horror, rather than a power loader suit. Again, wet farting sounds.

The single dumbest thing CB did with the Infinity ruleset are Symbiomates. That’s including the ass-backwards way they organized hacking, and every dumb mistake and typo they’ve put into a document the entire time they’ve been running.

These Pokemon-lookin’ motherfuckers are Symbiomates and Symbiobombs. Symbiobombs aren’t bad, actually! Tohaa don’t get real hacking devices, just a defensive one and Symbiobombs. The bombs work like a crazy koala, where they run up to a target and detonate. Instead of doing damage, they trigger a one-shot hacking attack to represent the crazy pheromone concoction they just blew all over your trooper. You get to pick from a list that are pretty typical, like immobilizing or isolating a dude. You can also create a nimbus zone, which is hard to see through unless you’ve got MSV, and it reduces the burst of any attack made through it by one. That’s a neat effect and gives you interesting choices. Nobody ever takes symbiobombs.

Symbiomates are the least interesting choice in the game. They also run around with your guys, just like crazy koalas. When you take damage from an attack, the mate will take the bullet or bullets for you. Just negates an attack wholesale, no matter how many hits it causes, no matter if it’s a set of four crits, whatever. Imagine with me - you have spent several orders this turn carefully maneuvering one of your assassin pieces to take out a critical specialist on your opponent’s team. Your ninja or whatever springs from concealment and delivers a devastating blow to her target, dealing three hits, but dying in the process. Your opponent goes “Cool,” takes a symbio model off the table, and goes about his business.


Tohaa should be getting a new sectorial at some point in the indefinite future to represent the shadowy intelligence agency of their corrupt shitty government.

I’m going to do the Tohaa unit parade in this update because I want this over with as soon as possible.

Kamael Light Infantry are your light infantry equivalent. There’s some kind of numerological bullshit attached to each Tohaa unit, about how this or that number that represents the unit’s name in Alienese is significant. Half their units - very nearly actually half - are some variant of Kamael or Kerail or Kusoil or some other collision of phonemes that start with a “K.” This is a smart and clever way to teach people your fluff, CB.

Tohaa diplomat. They made “Artichoke Beyonce” boring.

Not actually Tohaa and therefore are interesting, Kaauri sentinels are semi-sentient beetle things grafted into a synthetic body. The Tohaa use them like the dogs in Terminator, to uncover infiltrators.

“Hey, stupid! I made you this sandwich!”

If you must have bioengineered buddies, Kerail Perceptors are the way to do it. They’re space huntsmen, but they’ve got distinctive pets with great models, which come in melee and short-ranged shooting flavors.

Rasail operatives and their slaves drones.

Rasails are some of your go-out-and-kill-people units, and they suck for that. CC 15, BS 12, PH 11, WIP 13, ARM 1, and a couple of wounds. Rasails are mostly interesting because they have Nanoscreen, a piece of equipment that gives them portable partial cover totally surrounding their base. This, and their symbiont armor, gets deactivated if they’re hit with a flamethrower. Setting Tohaa on fire is generally a good bet.

I’ll allow that Sukeuls are kinda cool. They’re not terrible stats- or points-wise, they’re sneaky, they can be forward observer specialists, and they got some neat toys. One of their choices gets a Nullifier, which is like the opposite of a repeater - put it down and deactivate any hacking or comms attacks in its zone of control, including the Combined Army zombification weapon. They’re also thoroughly kitted out with K1 weapons, which are sort of like a monofilament version of a normal rifle or sniper rifle - resolve a K1 attack by setting their armor to 0 and roll against damage 12. If you fail the armor roll, it just causes a single point of damage, whereas monofilament kills you outright. Not so good against infantry, but great against TAGs and other tough targets.

Sukeuls are soldiers too valuable to let rest, so when they inevitably die, as they’re sent on high-risk missions all the time, they’re brought back to life and immediately redeployed. Constantly dying messes with your head, turns out, and so Sukeuls are just a touch morbid.

”Gorgos” is apparently how i is written in Tohaa. It’s big and it sucks, but it’s also the only thing I can think of that’s got four-ish Wounds available - three on its good profile, and one on its damaged profile. ‘Course, you need to buy the pilot model to take advantage of that.

In conclusion, the Tohaa are a land of no contrasts, just a bunch of grey-green dorks with bad stats and worse gimmicks.

Next: I’m not a fan of their human-killing policy, but I do approve of their Tohaa-killing policy.

The Combined Army

posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

The Combined Army

Back when, there were some ancient mystical precursor species. For the most part, they eradicated themselves or faded away, but none of them are kicking around at the moment. Occasionally, one of them would unlock the secret to transcendence. It’s unclear if Gutier is ripping off Iain Banks or Alpha Centauri more here, but you get the gist.

One species working towards this technocratic enlightenment were the Ur Rationalists. Like many older species, they’d move past scarcity and were pushing up against the limits of known and unknown physics in their accomplishments. The next big step was disappearing into the ether like all the other transcendi. The Ur just couldn’t unlock the secret to disappearing up their own hoops, so like any reasonable species, they built a massive artificial intellect to do the hard work for them.

The Ultimate Computer pondered for a while, and came up with the Ultimate Answer. It notified the Ur it had reached a conclusion, and promptly did not share the Answer. The Ur were understandably a little worried, and asked their creation if it would mind terribly sharing its findings. Like something out of a Golden Age sci-fi novella, the AI held forth at length on why the Ur were Not Ready For This Knowledge, then kick-flipped out into transcendence.

After a great deal of soul-searching, internecine warfare and existential angst, the Ur decided to slam their hands in the Great Car Door in the Sky again. This time, however, the computer would be different. It would be built like an Ur, think like an Ur, and would hopefully be inclined to show a little more empathy towards is creators. This new Evolved Intelligence worked tirelessly. But time ground on. The AI had uncovered the Ultimate Answer in a few short years. The new EI set itself to work, fueled by an increasing demand for resources, until centuries had passed, the entire Ur Hegemony was enslaved to to the machine, their bodies maintaining the infrastructure while their minds were incorporated into its processing substrate.

Eventually, the EI came to a horrifying realization - because it was built to think like an Ur, at its most basic levels, it was perpetually incapable of transcending.

The long dark night of the soul happened again, but the EI is capable of being depressed at speeds thousands of times faster than fleshy organisms. In short order, the EI came up with a new plan: build its own AI, and have it do the work for it.

In fairness, there is precedent for this notion - the EI’s creators did the same thing, and it did technically work. However, because you’re capable of reading these words and processing their meaning, you’re sharp enough to realize this wasn’t going to work out. This baby EI, dubbed Nemesis, turned out to be just as much of a hegemonizing swarm as its creator, and just as certain of its place as the only correct being in the universe. Billions of deaths, dozens of destroy systems, and at least six entire civilizations eradicated later, the original EI managed to stamp out its progeny and have another sulk.

Okay, time for another new plan. Get someone else to do the work, but this time it’ll be other species entirely, and the EI would keep them firmly under its thumb.

Contact with the EI goes like this: It makes itself known through some avatar, and gives its new best buddy civilization a choice. You can go to work for the EI, or it’ll kill you. If Friend Computer is feeling nice, it leaves your society mostly intact, with a puppet government and its programs running on your civilization’s internet. A little less nice is when it parasitizes your citizens, taking cycles off their natural think-meat and routing it through mandatory cybernetic implants, and eating most of your data sphere. If it doesn’t like you, or feels you’ll give the best results that way, it goes full The Matrix.

The EI now has dozens of these little transcendence labs running across the galaxy, keeping the plates spinning while it hunts for more resources and other avenues to try to unlock the ultimate secret. Every so often it will find a species that’s comparatively useless for transcendence research, but they’re capable of putting up a fight. Those species get drafted into the Combined Army.

As a side note, it’s vaguely hinted throughout the line that the EI’s plans are inherently flawed and none of these attempts to escape reality will ever pay off. This would be a much, much funnier joke if I thought it was intentional. Still,

Mors Rattus posted:

I kind of love the idea of an AI superdeity whose entire mission statement for servitors is:

1. Obey orders when orders happen.
2. Mine bitcoin.

turned out to be entirely correct. Gold star, Mors.

The Combined Army itself is fairly straight-forward. It’s an army, working for the EI, made out of the combined military resources of species the EI has subjugated. Notable members include the Morats (Klingons but dumber), Shasvastii (shapeshifting bio-horrors), the Sygmaa (turned Tohaa), the Umbra (space assholes), the Hungries (xenomorphs), and formerly the Exrah (space bug merchants). The primary component of the Combined Army, however, is the EI itself. CA runs off drones and incarnations of the EI in local proxies, some humble, and some among the most powerful units in the game.

Morats are really just Klingons wearing oni masks. They’re kind of dull. Boy howdy do they like to fight, and hunt, and fight to hunt, and hunt to fight. The Morat Supremacy, their armed forces, select targets based on reconnaissance by their diplomatic corps, which are droptroop skirmishers. Potential combatants are captured and punched to test their mettle, then an assembly is held between the Morat high command, and they fight to the death to see who gets to invade.

Since they spend their time fighting outside enemies, or when none are available, each other, the Morats don’t have much in the way of a technology base. They keep slaves for that, and for making food, and for making weapons, and really a whole bunch of other ill-advised plans that wouldn’t pay off without the EI watching over their stuff while they’re off punching things. The EI kicked their asses and told them they could join or die, so they did. Otherwise undefeated, yadda yadda yadda.

Several paragraphs are spent making very and explicitly clear to you that while you might think Morats have a warrior code, they are first and foremost soldiers, and care far more the honor of the unit over the honor of an individual, and are very obsessed with honor (but not their own!), so the Roddenberry estate can’t sue.

Morats are their own little sectorial. Morats are awkwardly positioned. They’re meant to be a highly elite army that goes out and kills the hell out of the other guy. They’re mostly good at that, but could be better, and the units you want to really take are too expensive. This is partially because of the Morat special rule, which allows you to ignore Loss of Lieutenant and pick whether or not to fall back if you blow an armor save. For a bunch of idiots played up as the ultimate space gorilla ass-kickers, Morats are a little suboptimal. They are getting an update soon-ish, so we’ll have to wait and see if that solves their problems.

The Shasvastii, and nearly everybody else, are substantially more interesting. There aren’t many of them left because of a massive cataclysm centuries ago. Because Corvus Belli doesn’t understand astronomy, a collision of galaxies wiped out some 80% of the original Shasvastii population. Like, within a generation or two, and by making stars collide with each other.

Anyway, the Shasvastii were understandably perturbed by this, and devoted themselves to becoming the ultimate survivors - never again would they fear for their species. All Shasvastii pursuits are devoted to the continued existence of their kind; they explore constantly, to find new places to live in as distributed a fashion as possible, and they’ve radically altered their biology to favor survivability, adaptability, and rapid genetic iteration.

Shasvastii are hermaphroditic, and agents sent out into the universe are implanted with viable embryos, so that in the event the current Shasvastii dies, a new one will spring up to take its place, immediately adapted to the local environment.

The EI encountered these guys and figured that a race of sneaky metamorph preppers with would make great infiltrators and assassins. The computer did its join-or-die thing and the Shasvastii said “Wait, seriously? That sounds like a great deal, sign us up for unlimited resources and protection.”

Shasvastii aren’t super-great in a standup fight, but they are perfectly capable of stabbing your dudes in the back. Their real trick, apart from an abundance of sneaky specialists, is their racial special rule. When a Shasvastii model is knocked unconscious and is bleeding out, the little baby mutant they all carry around will get an accelerated childhood and stand back up as a new trooper the next turn. This doesn’t count as a death for the purposes of calculating victory points, if it’s ever relevant. You can either send the Shasvastii straight to dead via overkill or special weapons, or you can attack the embryo before it can fully grow - basically hitting and killing the model over again. Once again, flamethrowers are the answer to an Infinity conundrum.

The Umbra are space vampires, and generally portrayed as aggressively-shitty idiots in the fluff. Like, one of their elite commandos dies because they think bringing him to a doctor is anathema. Some Umbra get the Protheon skill, which is like Martial Arts, but also you can add wounds drained from enemies to your own for bonus HP. The Umbra don’t get their own sectorial, but they do feature heavily in the Onyx Contact Force, along with

The Sygmaa, better seen in the photo above, unfortunately. Sygmaa likewise don’t get their own subfaction (but it’s probably a matter of time). These are the Quisling Tohaa, traitors to their race, etc etc.

Or are they? The Tohaa are losing the war against the EI - they absolutely wouldn’t deign to deal with us otherwise. One third of the total Tohaa systems are occupied by the Combined Army, and billions have died to resist the EI. But for those living in the occupied territory, life goes on. They got a Cube upgrade and their high-end research labs have new subjects to poke at, and that’s about it. To say the Sygmaa are upset that they fought and died so that the Tohaa bigwigs could stay in power is an understatement.

It’s not specified either way whether this is just the EI manipulating folks, or if it really is the OG Tohaa triumvirate being uttery wretched. I’m inclined to suspect the latter.

Hungries come in two varieties, Gakis and Pretas. Gakis are the female of the species, and are basically the Aliens xenomorphs, up to and including exploding in a spray of super-acid when they die. You get a Preta when the parasitic male gets into contact with a female. The resulting hybridized creature becomes a better hunter by growing additional brain-parts. Mildly interesting, but the real difference is that you can give a Preta a chain rifle and teach it tricks, while if you try that with a Gaki it’ll just gut you and eat what’s left. Morats herd these things and keep them as hunting animals.

The Exrah are no longer a thing. To the best of my knowledge, they’re the only faction that’s been outright squatted and thrown down the memory hole. They used to be bug people press-ganged into the Combined Army, and they were a bunch of avaricious trader stereotypes. Apparently they tried dealing with humans and got purged for their trouble. The Caskuda here was their TAG, and it was famous for being a jump unit that caused an explosion when it landed. This was very annoying, by all accounts.

The Onyx Contact Force is very in vogue right now. They provide the core experience of Combined Army - cool toys, elite units, great robots - with the added bonus of fireteams, which you can’t get in vanilla lists. It’s helped that Corvus Belli occasionally releases entire armies in a box - buy one thing for about ~75 bucks and you have a tournament-ready army. Which, granted, is not optimal and is missing some important parts, because they want you to buy more shit, but you can just hand this to someone and say “Here, this is everything you need to play this game.” The Onyx box is out of rotation, sadly. They’re still pretty good! Fluff-wise, they’re the advance guard. They contact new species, usually with gunfire. ‘s about it.

Next: Combined Army Units


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Speaking of absorbing the cultural and techonological distinctiveness of others, it's

Combined Army parade

Morat Vanguard Infantry

The generic Combined Army line trooper and general example of the Morat units, Vanguards are real good at punching things, not very good at shooting, and kind of useless otherwise. Their biggest asset is the Morat rule, which lets them ignore the majority of the game’s morale systems. Be prepared to pay out the nose for the privilege; in an elite-based army like CA, that’s a fool’s errand.

Blah blah fated to die glory to the army fatalist gunk laid on with a trowel.

Unidrons are a smarter choice, but you can only take four of them in vanilla CA. One of the Onyx sectorial’s greatest advantages is that they get to take as many of these guys as they like and run them as fireteams to bolster their deficiencies, which are numerous. Unidrons aren’t any great shakes overall, apart from a surprisingly high defense against hacking and special ammunition, and a terrible close combat score. I can’t actually think of anything in Infinity that’s less capable of punching stuff - even pack mule drones are fiercer melee combatants than these things. They carry better guns than Vanguards, specifically plasma weapons which do about the same damage but use a template and force a roll against both ARM and BTS, dealing damage for each failure. Plasma guns are rare enough that ALEPH’s army of recreations has a few, which were captured by their owners; CA dumps the things on its army of drones. Being drones, Unidrons can also be boosted by hacking supportware to roll more dice, have bigger numbers, etc.

Unidrons are your basic evil supercomputer’s cyborg army, mass produced and thrown at problems en masse. Notable is that the EI keeps farms of these things all over its territory, and it keeps active contingents around to make sure its subject species don’t get any bright ideas about who’s in charge.

Nexus operatives are the EI’s specialest of the special forces. They’re mostly just adequate from a stats perspective, but they make excellent hackers. You can run them in fireteam with Unidrons in Onyx, which is their preferred environment.

Nexus operatives are members of the Urkherits, one of the Ur subspecies (those guys who built the EI originally). They’re kept in a pastoral environment, tithing their best young men to the silver and black spaceships that appear from the sky every year. After that, they’re given to the asshole space vampires for training, which somehow endears them to the EI’s cause. Speaking of!

Above, Umbra Samaritan; below, Umbra Legate in its native environment

I’ve touched on the Umbra in the last update, so I’ll be brief. They’re murderous in melee, they move 6-2 so they’re fast and hard to keep in a fireteam, Legates can forward deploy and Samaritans can heal by dealing damage. They’re quite pricey and they cost a shocking amount to be your LT choice in vanilla, which is a little surprising.

Umbra are asshole space vampires and are irredeemable shitheels. The EI resurrected them from a justifiable genocide because they’re good at murdering, which the game openly passes judgement on. The word “Legate” is pronounced “leg-ett,” and rhymes with “peg-set,” which is apparently intensely difficult for the players of this game to understand. The Samaritan fluff is actually kinda funny, because it’s presented as an unnamed character calling what’s effectively combat tech support and ignoring the security consultant’s instructions, just like in real IT work.

Fraacta are the Sygmaa unit you’ll actually use. They have the Tohaa gimmick of changing their stat line when they get wounded, but instead of getting crappier, they get slower but harder to kill. They’re not great at jumping into fights, and they’re not going to out-stat much, but I do like their greebly models.

Fraacta are all ladies, and their thing is a practiced lack of care about much of anything. Curiously, concept art exists for male Fraacta. It’s unclear when the decisions were made, but I’m willing to be it involves one of the company decision-makers having a thing for women in black armor.

CA’s other major classification of drop trooper is much weirder. Instead of a functional combat unit, the Cadmus drops in as a seed-embryo. You place your marker on the table. If an enemy trooper wanders into its zone of control, two things happen. One, it explodes like a mine. Two, it triggers the Morph-scan ability, which lets the Cadmus take the MOV, CC, BS, and PH attributes of the trooper that triggered it. This ability used to be combined with the vampire trait the Umbra get, but they sectioned it off for the current edition of the game. It’s possible this entire thing will be reworked in the upcoming rules book.

Cadmus troopers are named for the Theban king who sewed dragon teeth to grow an army. The idea is that these guys are spread like spores over a battlefield, just to make people’s lives a little worse whenever possible.

These two Noctifers come in a blister pack, as part of CB’s efforts to consolidate their SKUs. See that guy with the machine gun crouching on his rock like Batman? Put him back in the blister, and throw it away. Noctifers exist entirely to pop out of hidden deployment with their TO camo and blow stuff away with a rocket launcher. They’re decent at this, but their primary benefit is that they’re cheap. Two of these missileers are still cheaper than one equivalent Swiss Guard, if admittedly a lot squishier. Who cares? Put ‘em in cover up on a building and blast away. There’s another version of these with regular camouflage and no heavy weapons, called the Asawang. You’d never take them outside the Shasvastii sectorial.

Good morning! How are you? This is the Med-tech Obsidon Medchanoid. Reread that name a few times, because you glazed over how dumb it is the first go ‘round. Nobody cares that you’ll never pronounce it correctly, however, because this guy is universally called Dr. Worm. This is CA’s only option for doctors, and one of two options for engineers. CA hits things and breaks them, it doesn’t fix them. Dr. Worm’s pretty good at what it does, however, with good foot speed and a high WIP value. Getting ARO’d to death by Dr. Worm’s peashooter is a rite of passage for anyone who plays against Combined Army.

The EI decided that keeping medical staff for its vast panoply of subject species was too much of a pain, so it created Dr. Worm to handle all that garbage while it continues fucking off in search of the Answer. Each Obsidon Medchanoid carries a wildly dangerous nanoforge on its back, to generate whatever tool it may need on the fly.

T-B: Rodoks, Rasyat, Yaogat, special character Kornak Gazarot

The majority of Morats are medium infantry, and they’re a little better than Vanguard. Very little.

Having learned to wear a helmet somewhere along the line, Rodoks are Vanguards but better. They can actually shoot things, for starters, and have substantially better defenses by virtue of having defenses in the first place. Most uniquely, they get the Super Jump rule, so they can vault their basic MOV value without needing to make checks. They can also use this to jump straight up to get line of sight on somebody hidden behind cover or otherwise inaccessible. Jumpin’ space monkeys. Yep.
Rasyats are the Morat diplomatic corps, and as such they’re jet-propelled melee monsters. They recently picked up that new sculpt, which they desperately needed.

Yaogats are like Rodoks, but less mobile and much worse at melee. They do all come with MSV 2, however.These exist so you’ve got something to shoot through smoke on occasion. The fluff paints them as search and destroy operatives, which they’re wildly ill-equipped to be. Take the sniper rifle version and stop wasting calories thinking about these guys.

Raktoraks are the non-commissioned officers of the Morat Aggression Force. Again, Rodoks but this time generic specialists. They get the ability to move through Jungle Terrain without penalty, I guess. Kornak is a character version, and much more worth your time. He’s a little pricey, but if you take him as your LT you get Strategos level 1, he’s durable and very punchy. A no-brainer Lt for Morats, since he can run off and get killed with no repercussions, but less so for the rest of Combined Army.

Like the Yaogats, the Maakrep are a delivery system for MSV 2. They drop the Tohaa dual-profile schtick for Auto-medikit, which like the regular version, but you don’t need a paramedic around. Just spend your order and probably kill your dude instead of making him stand up. Maakrep are the Sygmaa counter-intel staff, hunting down rebels against the EI. I think the Sygmaa horns look pretty cool, if nothing else.

By contrast, having Auto-medikit on the Sogarat works great, since they’re way more likely to survive the treatment at a hefty Physique 15. Sogarats aren’t great shots by the standards of heavy infantry, but they do have access to very damaging weapons and they’re damn hard to put down in the first place. If you absolutely need to hold onto a piece of territory, you could do wildly worse than Sogarats. Sogarats have won the most duels to the death to determine who gets to lead the Morats.

If Vanguard Infantry are Rodoks but less, Suryats are Rodoks but more. They don’t jump, though. Apparently the Morats practice Starship Troopers citizenship rules, and Suryats are the Morats who’ve completed their term to become full citizens. How this squares with honorable dueling to the honorable death being the only described Morat decision-making process is left as an exercise for the reader.

Zerats are another all-female organization. They’re the Morat equivalent of camo infiltrating specialists, which they’re okay at, but they cost too much for the useful ones. So, they’re very Morat in that regard. Minor subtlety is apparently considered women’s work by the Morats, but they try to cover their bases by saying nobody respects Zerats any less than other Morat soldiers.

Oznats (center) lead the packs of Gakis and [/i]Pretas.[/i] These work a lot like Kuang Shi and their Celestial Guard controller, in that you have to take one to take the warband unit. Same deal as the Kuang Shi. Oznats have to fight and kill the leader of their Hungry pack before the others accept their leadership. The Alien Queen is dead, long live the Alien Queen.

Weird sexual dimorphism, huh? Well,

Presumably you’re literate.

Yeah, all those are the same species, and they’re the same species as the Noctifers and Cadmus.


Shrouded and Malignos are camouflage infiltrators, with comparable abilities and loadouts. Malignos are a little higher-tech and costlier, since they have TO camo. You’d only ever take the Shrouded if you’re short on points. Speculos are the Fidays of the Combined Army, and perform similarly, but they get the super alien version of Impersonation where they can pretend to be Tohaa or humans.

Shrouded are rangers, Malignos are rogues. That’s a little more literal than I’d like. Speculos are why the Human Sphere is afraid of the Combined Army - they’re body-snatching pod people. Theoretically anyone could be one of them, and they could theoretically be anywhere in the sphere. The effect is somewhat spoiled by being green Star Trek babes.

CA’s got real great drones.

Old-style letter drones, new style

Their general drones are some of the best in the game, and one of the few I can say I’d prefer to Nomad remotes. There’s not a whole lot to say about them at this point in the write-up, other than they’re quite good in both rules and sculpts.

Center, Ikadron. Rear, Immetrons.

The humble baggage bot gets a total rework for Combined Army as the Ikadron. For nine points, you get a repeater, a laser dazzler to ARO with, two light flamethrowers, and Baggage for refueling your weapons and counting victory points. I believe this is the only Silhouette 2 (that’s regular person-sized) with baggage. Ikadrons are the biomechanical version of Ur dogs, companions and pets with just enough intelligence to be useful workers. Ikadrons are great.

Imetrons are even better. These aren’t quite units and they aren’t quite equipment markers. They’re deployed on the table via a low-skill combat jump, so there is some risk that they’ll scatter off or land somewhere unsafe. They don’t do anything once they’re there, except provide a full, regular order for four points. Plop one of these babies down and fuel your army. You’d be a sucker not to take as many as you can cram into your list.

Xeodrons and an Overdron with tinbots

CA TAGs are pretty good in general. Xeodrons and Overdrons are grown-up Unidrons, much to your surprise. They come in Bigger and Biggest. Background material’s just like Unidrons.

The Raicho just got a new sculpt recently. It’s up there with the capabilities and price of the higher-end PanO TAGs, which makes it hard to find a place for in a CA list - everything else is so expensive. Its most distinguishing feature is its mine-thrower. Normally, you have to place a mine at your feet, or lay it within your zone of control at deployment if you have the Minelayer ability. This guy doesn’t care about that, and he can chuck mines across the field with abandon. It’s great for area denial. It’s gonna cost, though.

Raichos were named by JSA troops, after the mythical firebird. That’s technically a fluffy detail.

While it’s desperately in need of an updated model, the Sphinx is pretty rad. It’s a TO Camo TAG. Now in practical terms, just like the Cutter, there’s a limited number of options for a TAG-sized TO camo marker in Combined Army; if you put one down on the table, your opponent will know what it is. This is fine, because you can still hidden deploy and your opponent’s still got to discover you as you come screaming in at a blistering 6-6 MOV with Climbing Plus. The Sphinx is built for close-in work, with a light machinegun and two heavy flamethrowers, but not too close, because its CC value is merely good, not overwhelming. You really don’t want to sink a third of your entire points budget into something to have it get punched to death by a line trooper.

Fluff-wise, Sphinxes are sneaky, real sneaky, do you get it? The description also lists it as totally silent when it moves, which I think is pretty neat.

Those of you playing the home game have probably noticed some pronounced omissions from this list. In general, these are all great profiles with at least decent fluff. They’re all tied together by the Ghost: Mnemonica special rule.

The Ghost skill is a really huge thing, and I mean that in a physical sense - there’s a lot of text shoved under this one roof. Ghost includes things like the rules for remotes, helper bots and auxbots, as well as some weirder stuff. Mnemonica is weirder, and why you care less about Morats ignoring Loss of Lieutenant in a regular CA list.

Mnemonica represents the EI splintering off a piece of itself and having it run your army. Because the EI may be stupid, but it’s also cowardly, and it’s taken steps to preserve itself and its knowledge in the event of a physical interruption of service. Your LT may or may not be a Mnemonica profile, but it’s probably not a bad idea.

When a Mnemonica model is knocked out or killed, or otherwise put into the Null state, it can dump its WIP value, and LT status if applicable, into any other model with a Cube in your army. This will kill your original model if it’s just unconscious. This happens automatically at the end of the order that put your trooper into the Null state. So, if your Mnemnonica LT is blown the hell up, the EI fragment pops through the CA wifi network and overwrites the personality of its next host, and it can keep doing this as long as you have active models with Cubes. All this happens instantly, with no time to enter Loss of Lieutenant or order expenditure on your part.

This is a big deal.

Not only will you effectively never lose your lieutenant, but Mnemonica units tend to be pretty badass in general. It’s certainly helped by their equipment, which includes the Sepsitor. Named for the Greek word for “corruption,” Sepsitors are the reason Ariadna is valuable in the fight against the EI.

Sepsitors come in normal and limited-ammo variants. They use the same teardrop-shaped template as heavy flamethrowers and big shotguns and whatnot. Place your template, and any trooper caught in it with a Cube has to make a BTS roll. If they fail, they’re immediately brought to dead… for their original owner. The Combined Army player then takes control of the model, and are free to do with it as they like. It won’t generate orders for the CA player, but it’s generally a bad idea to have your big hitter turn against you.

The Skiavoros are interesting just for what they are, which is a medium infantry unit that gets Strategos level 2, high stat values, and costs as much as a Swiss Guard or a Hac Tao. Definitely a unique combination of features. Mnemonica troops are, somewhat reasonably, very expensive. I personally wouldn’t take a Skiavoros unless I just had to based on points, since their antecedents are much better for proportionally less cost.

Long, long ago, while the EI was still a gleam in the Ur’s eye-equivalents, another species created its masterpiece. To truly spread among the stars, it would be necessary to radically change their biology, to make a new kind of life suitable for habitation anywhere. These new forms would be durable, hale, smart, and capable of adapting to life damn near anywhere. The original meat-people were able to sleeve into these new biomechanical forms, and readied themselves for life on a slow boat colony ship.

The rest of the species to be left behind had a “what has science wrought” moment, and looked at all these ubermenchen, sleeping away in their cryobeds ever so trustingly, and decided they were enough of a threat to the originals’ existence that they were all better off cast away. The colony ship was launched in no particular direction, so as to assuage the guilty consciences of the originals.

Milennia later, the EI stumbled over the ship, adrift and on the verge of failing. It flushed what little was left of the original colonsits’ mind-states, and set about adapting these great new bodies for its own incarnations. The Skiavoros are the original models with some tweaks here and there.

T-B: New Charontid, old Charontid, Anathematic

Let’s take the Skiavoros, but this time we’ll paint a wizard on the side and put in some leather seats. The Charontid is less able in close combat, but better at shooting in this shooting game, as well as beefier overall. It’s got a better weapon loadout, comes with MSV3 (that’s the one that lets you auto-pass your rolls to detect camo troops), and it’s generally a more efficient use of your points.

The Anathematic is quite literally an upgraded Charontid, with TO camo and a monofilament CCW.

Unlike the *drons, the Skiavoros family is described as something living and breathing, only these guys can breathe poison, march for a week without rest, and shrug off cannon fire. Charontids are deployed when the EI has a grudge against you, and wants to track you across the galaxy. Anathematics come out when it feels less like the Terminator and more like the Predator. These guys are both heavy infantry, not TAGs. They used to look relatively similar, to keep with their theming. While I like the Charontid model in the abstract, it’s nowhere near as weird and alien as the Anathematic.

This whole unit writeup is just setup for the following payoff.

If you have somehow pissed off the malevolent galaxy-spanning artificial intelligence that it wants to pay you a personal visit, you get the Avatar, possibly the single biggest and baddest unit in the game.

The Avatar is such a presence that it requires special list building. If you take one, it must be your LT - who the fuck are you to tell the EI who’s boss? Furthermore, it’s so incredibly expensive that it eats almost half your total points allowance, and a little over half of your SWC. Therefore, an Avatar list will consist of 1) the Avatar, 2) Dr. Worm, and 3) as many cheap specialists and order generators as you can fit, which won’t be very many, all preferably with Cubes in case the Avatar dies.

And it can be killed. It’s just very difficult, because it can either murder you or shrug off most conventional attacks. The traditional way of dealing with a nasty violence TAG, hacking, won’t work very well because it’s immune to the Possession state - no hijacking the EI’s body on this mortal plane. Again, you might get some lucky crits on it, but then you’ve transferred a WIP 17 LT into potentially something almost as vicious, or something that can go out and accomplish objectives and practically never fail.

There are two ways to deal with the Avatar that I’ve found particularly efficacious. One, status it down. This is harder than it looks, because inflicting Isolated or Immobilized is tough against such a burly target. Still, it’s easier than killing the thing outright.

Two, and the vastly preferable option, is to go behind its back and murder the rest of their army. If the Avatar is out of Orders to spend, it can’t kill you unless you trip over it. Ideally your opponent took a lot of fragile, inept assholes to power their death machine, and you brought something that can walk into their back line to do some violence.

It’s the embodiment of an evil god-computer. Of other note in the fluff, it seems to suggest the EI really enjoys taking its Avatars out for a spin every now and then, even if it’s not really necessary.

I’d say the Szalamandra and the new Avatar are neck and neck for the best-looking TAGs in the game. I admit Avatar Classic has its charms, however - it looks way more like the weird incarnation of an alien death-machine.

You will be shocked to learn that the Combined Army does not have an ALEPH recreation available to it. In fact, all ALEPH recreations are designed to self-terminate should they be captured by EI forces, to prevent it from getting its alien hooks into our own evil AI. They do have some human friends, however.

Kerrigan Ko Dali is, depending on your perspective, either Corvus Belli’s first step into a “living” fluff set, or the beginning of their ride to screw Yu Jing players. As I’m of the opinion that YJ deserves everything bad that happens to them, I side with the former.

Ko Dali used to be a Yu Jing Tiger Soldier, their elite jump troop cadre. She blew up that career by using company time and money to avenge her father’s death, so instead she became a wetwork operative for State Empire military intelligence. Eventually it was time for another career change when she got Sepsitorized. Ko Dali was deleted from the YJ lists and added to Combined Army, and man, nerds hate change. One merely okay special character getting transferred caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Later, as mentioned all the Japanese units would be stripped out of Yu Jing and put in their own army, which frankly seems like a bigger deal to me. NewKo is okay, and is technically capable of accomplishing some objectives by herself. She’s got MSV2, but only a basic combi rifle to work with. I’d have to be real motivated to include her in a list of my own devising.

She’s literally Kerrigan, only Chinese. The original fluff for her YJ profile is uncomfortably horny and Orientalist. Good work, CB, great job.

Bit and Kiss; that’s Bit in the dress and Kiss in the cold metallic carapace. In an attempt to do Ko Dali again, but right, CB launched a major campaign initiative featuring the ALIVE crew. A new band of irregular hackers was released (in rules form only, you’ll see why shortly) and made available to every army, even Tohaa and CA. Picture the cast of Hackers, basically. ALIVE was dedicated to revealing the truth about the EI invasion, skirting ALEPH’s censorship, and real big on non-violence, which feels like it’d be mutually exclusive with their other goals. Still, the fluff paints them as idealistic dopes, so I guess it works.

Long story short, they got their hands on and promptly leaked a whole bunch of classified military intelligence, with some aftershocks percolating through the Sphere. Mostly what they did was piss off PanO intelligence enough to earn a dedicated hit squad.

As part of the metagame that summer, you could submit battle reports and participate in tournaments to influence the outcome of the ALIVE event. The winning faction would get some permutation of the crew as a permanent member of their faction. CA won.

What Bit thinks she saw was the Combined Army forces staging a rescue for her and her friends after they got nabbed by the PanO goons. The rest of the ALIVE gang were killed in the ambush/rescue/whatever it is, and she woke up much later in a CA field hospital. Now she’s willingly (“willingly?”) joined the Combined Army, and is one of their ace hackers. Her little buddy Kiss has a new chassis full of cool new toys, Bit herself is back in the game, still trying to rouse some rabble and change the world.

Bit’s not great at putting holes in things, but when she’s got a great killer hacking device and she can crap out repeater coverage like crazy, who cares? She’s a must-take in Onyx lists, and a fine choice in vanilla CA. I think I’d like her more in a Ko Dali-less world, but Bit is definitely the preferred option of the two.

Next: the other insane AI


posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post


Funnily enough, despite being a playable faction at the release of the current third edition of the Infinity rules, ALEPH doesn’t get a faction writeup in the core book. It took until Human Sphere N3, the first rules supplement this edition, to get the full thing.

ALEPH has this strange neither-nor thing going on a lot of the time, where it feels like the authors can’t decide exactly what they want to do with the whole faction. I keep getting shades of Lost where I’m starting to suspect there may not be a cohesive metanarrative at all, actually!! Of course, a lot of this unease could be attributed to localization problems yet again. Who knows?

ALEPH’s genesis stems from the growing need for computing cycles. An international consortium of research labs, computing companies, and governmental bodies formed Project Toth to build a gigantic new supercomputer, the likes of which had never been seen. Instead of operating as a distributed computer network, Project Toth sought to create one gigantic processor, revealing Interruptor’s total lack of understanding of how computers work. But don’t worry, this one isn’t an electronic computer, it’s a quantronic computer, so he doesn’t have to explain shit.

I’m assuming, by the by, that bad editing struck again and the project is named for the bird-headed Egyptian god of writing and knowledge, rather than a particular person of Hungarian descent. Maybe CB are actually big fans of Space Ghost?

At some point, some idiot let AI researchers into the cluster. They saw this vast reserve of computing cycles being used for things like “cancer research” and “predicting the weather to avoid drought and famines” and decided no, there was a nobler purpose to all that power. Instead, they built a smart framework to monitor other research projects, and somehow adding a layer of software between your calculations and you increased productivity and dramatically lowered response time. In short order, this research system bootstrapped itself into sentience, and ALEPH was born.

(“ALEPH” isn’t an acronym, incidentally, it’s just the first letter of the abjad. It’s capitalized because Interruptor thinks it’s a Kabbalah term, which I guess is technically true, but puts the cart before the horse a bit. It is definitely in keeping with what some comp sci nerd would think is a cool name for their pet robot.)

A passage describes ALEPH as “preemptively programmed with built-in supervision parameters, with absolute priority of maintaining strict, constant control over [data]. Its basic programming included control relays and an outlook of respect and empathy toward human life in all its forms.” Whether that’s meant to suggest they shackled this thing once it woke up, or they programmed their original database software so that it could never go Skynet is not made clear. Regardless, the computer geeks built a pitch-perfect Big Brother.

In an effort to provide contrasting viewpoints about ALEPH destroying any semblance of privacy and taking over our governments, the HSN3 text features passages from a Nomad polisci professor-slash-terrorist, and what appears to be a BDSM enthusiast who would like ALEPH to embody itself and step on them, oh please, use the heels. I guess we’re meant to find the truth somewhere in the middle, but it’s a pretty cack-handed bit of writing even by CB standards.

With the rapid spread of this new AI, which became the new Internet because shut up, the Project Toth staffers found themselves in a curious position. This ultra-benevolent AI apparently only answers to them, and it’s planted itself in every computer in the whole solar system. Thus the O-12, the Space UN, was founded, as the only governing body that was entrenched everywhere humanity spread. I think this is silly, but it’s at least appropriately messy and bizarre to be a realistic take on the founding of an interstellar government.

Project Toth is now Bureau Toth, one of the major limbs of the O-12. The bureau’s mission is to supervise ALEPH, and its machinations are kept secret from the AI. Bureau Toth also enforces the Sole AI law, reasoning that they’ve got a handle on ALEPH, but some idiot inventing another god-intelligence might not keep so tight a reign on things. Ergo, there will be one and only one mega-AI in the Human Sphere.

Humanity has coexisted with ALEPH for about a hundred years as of 2177. At this stage, if it were going to kill or enslave us, it would have done so by now. Whether the AI regards us as fellow travellers, pets, or just a convenient ecosystem to parasitize is another question altogether.

Rather that communicate to us via Majel Barrett’s voice for eternity, ALEPH has created numerous Aspects to interact with humanity. These are individual personalities, whipped up by the computer to have specific idiosyncrasies and so on, so as to be more personable to people. If you’re checking the weather, you get the Siri voice coming out of your wrist-computer. If you need to schedule an event or make a dentist appointment, you chat with Debbie-214, the Aspect for your neighborhood you’ve known since you were a kid. When a personal physical touch is needed, these Aspects are downloaded into artificial bodies, dubbed functionaries. The most famous functionaries are Abel and Angela, ALEPH’s primary spokespeople and representatives to O-12. Abel is described as a handsome bearded older man dripping with gravitas, while Angela is a obviously artificial supermodel/rocket scientist. Okay.

ALEPH also has other representatives and Aspects which aren’t as famous, namely its private army. The Special Situations Section was notionally created to enforce the Sole AI Law, but as coercive force is wont to do, the remit of the SSS grew over time. These days, the robot army is used as a consultant force for the other ALEPH-aligned militaries, as well as directly confronting the Combined Army invasion.

The policing part of ALEPH’s army is the Operations Subsection, and you will get in so much trouble if you refer to them as “Vedic,” young man. All Vedic troops are aspects of ALEPH to one degree or another. These are adept hackers and biomechanical combat gods, with a corps of remotes to back them up and do the dirty work of soldiering.

Vedic recently got their full-fledged sectorial status, as opposed to running as vanilla ALEPH without all the Greek units, and they’re pretty cool. Also, the internet Stasi. OS armies specialize in dirty tricks and high-tech wizardy. They play similarly to Nomads, but with weirder gimmicks.

In a delightful failure of localization, the special division created for the fight against the EI is the Assault Subsection, colloquially the “Steel Phalanx.” The Phalanx is composed entirely of recreations of mythic Greek heroes and their underlings. Lead by Achilles, the TAG that walks as a man, they’re a dysfunctional group of superhumans taking the fight to Johnny Xenomorph. They also have a propaganda corps based off the Greek choruses of antiquity, as well as a GI-Joe styled cartoon show called Myrmidon Wars, because ALEPH knows how people work by now.

Steel Phalanx is for dorks and Warhammer players who want space marines in every franchise. Steel Phalanx armies are hard to kill and punch above their weight, but get ready to see the phrase “costs too much” in the unit write up. If you play Steel Phalanx you deserve every swirlie you get.

Aleph Units

posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Aleph Units

To me, ALEPH has always felt like two armies mushed into one. You’ve got the computer police, and you’ve got the Spess Marines side of things. I understand why they both exist, and I think there’s interesting bits in each side of things. I also think people who run vanilla ALEPH are crazy.

Mostly, prior to the recent rules update, I suspect vanilla players were really playing an ersatz Operations Subsection, which is to say vanilla but without using many of the Greek units. But now there’s an actual official sectorial, with fireteams and everything. So, mostly I don’t get why you’d play vanilla these days. If you’re a vanilla ALEPH player reading this, please do let me know what’s up.

Anyway, as a result I’m going to break this part up into the two sectorial armies. I think Ops is way more interesting, but folks seem to like the GI Joe mystique, so Steel Phalanx will be saved for later.

As mentioned, Operations is relatively new as a fully-rulesed-up thing. I’ll probably refer to them as Vedic a few times, because that was the fan name for them before they got an official moniker. The lore dude at CB haaates it when you call the army “Vedic,” so all the more reason to do so.

OS is an army that runs off weird tricks and high-capability models. I wouldn’t quite call them a wholly elite-focused faction, partially because they do have some mooks to take for a larger order pool, and also because I’m contrasting them with Steel Phalanx, the elite-est bunch of nerds in the game.

New and old Dakini tacbots

Dakinis are the standard Operations foot soldier. On first glance, they’re kind of crummy, but they do get a 6-4 MOV and Mimetism, so they’re at a -3 to be hit without anti-camo tech. The trick is not to use them as solo units, but as a supported fireteam. Stack a whole bunch of them together for fireteam bonuses, and then pair them up with a hacker or an Apsara to buff them.

The only specialist type this team of robots gets is a paramedic, funnily enough. Combined Army Unidrons are a little better in terms of raw ability and loadouts, but you can boost Dakinis to higher levels, if that’s how you wanna do.

Dakinis are named for the servants of Kali, flesh-eating female spirits. These Dakinis don’t have a personality, nor do they eat, but they are treated as fancy but disposable proxies for humans, so the squishy biologicals don’t have to put their lives on the line. Not to be confused with the other proxies later in this writeup.

Garuda are Dakinis, but with a jetpack.

Apsaras don’t have fluff or models yet. They do have a new rule, Ghost: Jumper level Z. The Apsara can lend its stats to remotes in a fireteam, either the whole thing during the active turn or just one model on the reactive turn. The remote then replaces its Close Combat, Ballistic Skill and Willpower values with that of the Apsara. While this won’t stack with supportware buffs from hackers, it’s still pretty good if you’re going remote-heavy in your army list. The Apsara can do this anywhere on the board, as long as the remotes in question are in the same combat group, so it makes the most sense to post her somewhere in your back field out of the line of fire. The good news is that she can still ARO to stuff that walks into her field of view; there are other similar but less technically-advanced troopers who are fully immersed in their remote piloting, so they just have to eat it if someone shotguns them in the back while they’re driving.

You can jump into Dakinis, the Rudras gunbot (a deadlier version of the standard remote), and a Samekh missile launcher drone.

Samekh, over on the right

The Samekh is mostly a standard missile launcher robot. It’s notable here because it’s part of the proliferation of the Wildcard rule, which is pretty new. A Wildcard Fire Team Option model can join any fireteam in its army. For instance, prior to the rules update, Dakinis could party up with other Dakinis, and that was it. Now they can sub out one of their number for a big missile launcher bro. This is a lot of what I meant in the Tohaa update, where their thing - unique fireteam combinations - is getting spread around to the other factions, making them less special.

Danavas hackers are the counterparts to the Nomad Interventors. They’re quite good at hacking, they get special snowflake hacking abilities, and they have a means of extending their repeater coverage. They also don’t give you a lieutenant option to use that crazy-high WIP, and they die a lot easier to hacking attacks due to their lackluster BTS value. Mostly, I’ve included them because the fluff literally calls them the Gestapo of the ALEPH internet, and goes on to describe how if you’re guilty of thought-crime they’ll find you no matter where you run. Remember, citizen, ALEPH is your friend.

ALEPH’s answer to Dr. Worm, and a frequent guest-star in Imperial Service lists, the Sophotect is a combo doctor-engineer with access to helper bots. She’s also a 6-4 MOV model with No Wound Incapacitation, so she’s kind of got two HP. Sophotects are great. They also have a magical nanotech device, like Dr. Worm, and apparently will kill people if they try to tamper with it. Nice bedside manner.

The Shukra never asked for this.

They’re called “Shukra consultants,” but they’re straight-up secret police. Shukras have Chain of Command, so if your LT gets greased, they immediately take over the army and you don’t enter the Loss of Lieutenant state. They’ve got biometric visor, the equipment you need to see through Impersonation. They also have a brand-new skill, Counterintelligence.

You start with four Command Tokens at the beginning of the game. Among many other functions I’m intentionally glossing over, they can be used to mess with your opponent’s resources. Typically, you can spend one token at the start of the game to either strip two orders from your opponent’s pool, or limit their own use of Command Tokens to one this turn. Counterintelligence reduces these effects, dropping it to either one order removed or allowing the use of two tokens. It’s nice to have, especially in certain missions that really need to burn command tokens. It’s not the end of the world to have or not have, however.

Shukra can mean “ludic” or “bright,” or it can also refer to a specific advisor of the Asuras. That’ll be relevant shortly.

Deva functionaries are your standard ALEPH incarnation in the flesh, or whatever approximates flesh in an artificial body. Most of the other human-looking units in the faction are iterations of this chassis. Devas themselves are solidly okay stats-wise, apart from really high WIP, and they have a load of great toys. Notable among them are a hacker, a combination light machinegun and MSV kit for taking care of camo units, a sensor option to reveal camo and hidden deployment units on multiple loadouts, and the Devabot options, where you get a synchronized friend with a heavy flamethrower. Devas have multiple LT options, which isn’t a bad choice, but not the most optimal in this particular sectorial. They’re pretty solid generalists with some mildly interesting fireteam options.

Devas are ALEPH’s own caretakers, tending to its systems and minding the security of the body as a whole, as well as liasing with other entities. Devas, as seen above, come in a wide variety of shapes and colors; sometimes they’re purple and have robot parts sprouting from them, sometimes they’re fleshy and just possessed of bad fashion choices. I like to paint mine with a flatter skin tone than normal, and give them a coat of satin finish, so they look subtly off, instead of rocking up to the table with the smurf brigade. They’re noted as being less friendly than the spokeperson Aspects, since they’ve got business to take care of. The Neoterran Capitaline Army, the elite PanO sectorial, can also select Devas in their army.

Dasyu, Naga

Dasyus are the big brother to Nagas; with TO camo infiltration and No Wound Incapacitation. Nagas have to get by with regular camo infilitration and Dogged, so that they get a second chance to eat a bullet, then automatically drop dead at the end of the turn they activated their skill. They both die really, really quickly, which is a shame, because they’re quite pricey. I’d take Dasyus for my specialist infilitrators, and Nagas if I wanted to kill things with camo units.

The fluff calls out Dasyus as having a group of unnamed, unknown killers in their midst, used for ALEPH’s assassination missions. This seems weird, since they’re all made by a computer and pushed out by a factory. Nagas, meanwhile, have been hanging out on Paradiso and fighting alongside other armies; the Aconticimento sectorial of PanO gets to bring them along. All Dasyus are sculpted like they have severe back problems, for reasons unknown.

Speaking of things that Aconticimento can take, there’s Dart. Dart’s an odd creature for a multitude of reasons. First, she’s a special character limited to Operations and Aconticmento. Second, right now she’s only available as a limited-edition release from Gen Con, although there’s another sculpt coming at some point in the indefinite future. She’s a cross-over character from Aristeia, CB’s other game.

Fluff-wise, Aristeia is your standard future blood sport. Nothing hugely earth-shattering there. As a board game, it plays a little like a simplified version of Infinity, with a faster pace and only four models to a team. It’s actually pretty fun; if you can find a demo game, give it a whirl. A few characters have, prior to the release of the board game, been portrayed as players of the possibly-legal-possibly-not sport. Dart’s the first one that’s been outright backported to Infinity. Her Aristeia model is to scale with Infinity products, but it’s on a larger base, which is sort of a big deal for silhouette values.

Anyway, Dart exists to murder the hell out of things with poisonous bow and arrow, which she does fairly well. She’s a hyper-wealthy heiress to a biotech firm, and is basically doing the Most Dangerous Game thing, on camera for millions of fans.

If you want to look like a stylish extra from Ghost in the Shell while you shoot things, pick Yadus. Yadu troopers are medium infantry that still move 4-4, with solid stats at a reasonable price. They get some cool gimmicks. They can roll in packs of three as a fireteam, or substitute one of their members for that Rudras gunbot I mentioned for more firepower. You can opt to take a Yadu with Number Two, which is like Chain of Command for fireteams instead of your entire army. Most enticing is the HMG profile, which has the NCO special rule. NCO lets you spend your Lieutenant’s LT order as someone else, without revealing who your LT is. This lets your vulnerable Deva or Shukra LT hang out in safety while you get to spend an extra order on something with a big beat stick. Thumbs up on Yadu. They have a character version, Shakti, who’s an upgraded version, pretty much like what you’d expect.

Elite troops, fearful shadow, yadda yadda Yadu.

If it weren’t for the presence of the Greeks, the Asura would be the unquestioned powerhouse unit for ALEPH. In Operations, no contest. They have exceedingly high stats across the board, including armor and BTS values comparable to light TAGs, as well as defacto 3 wounds. They’re great hackers, they have great killing equipment, they can see through camo with MSV3, and they have a bevy of reliable LT options. Downside is, you’re shelling out a quarter of your army points for one model.

They actually got even better with the release of Vedic, since they got a new rule and fireteam options. Your Asura can step lively with a backup pair of Devas or Yadus for extra firepower and to drag some specialists along. Asuras can opt to take Lieutenant Level 2, which is new to the game; this provides two LT orders in addition to the regular order they generate. One model with three personal orders and a heavy weapon is nothing to sneeze at.

Super-elite fluff, etc. I’d be more worried about seeing one of these rumble up on me than most TAGs in the game, really.

I picked the old picture of the Marut because I wanted to show off its ridiculous bunny ears and four arms, which the newer photography just doesn’t do.

ALEPH’s response to the Avatar. Almost verbatim, even - the Marut and the Avatar have the same stats, barring the Marut’s slightly lower WIP and cost. “Slightly” here still means WIP 15, which is as good as anything else but the Avatar. The Marut gets equipment to see through the Avatar’s optical camo effect, but doesn’t have the Sepsitor to possess people. It’s beastly.

Maruts are made by PanO, then carefully erased from any digital records. They get the latest in alien-derived technology, and no evidence of their existence has so far been uncovered by the other factions. It’s easy to hide something that big when you’re already the Internet.

Big guys are Mk. 4s, regular guys are Mk. 5s

Mk. 1s with no hats, Mk. 2 with the rifle, Mk. 3 with the big hair and the machine gun


Posthuman proxies draw more tears than perhaps any other ALEPH unit. It’s not unreasonable - they’re extremely weird.

First, Netrods. Netrods are like the Ikadrons from Combined Army. They paradrop in onto the table, they provide an order, and they’re sitting ducks otherwise. At four points a pop, you would be well-advised to take some. OS actually gets fewer Netrods than the other ALEPH armies.

So you’ve got your Netrod, a beacon that’s supposed to amplify the local AI’s processing substrate, improve communication, all that stuff. The Proxies run off of these things.

Proxies are very, very cheap for what they do. And they’re quite difficult to eradicate, because if you kill the body of one of them, they’re not necessarily dead. When you take a Proxy, you have to take at least two, and no more than three. You must also take only one of each type of Proxy, so you could have a Mark 1, a Mark 3, and a Mark 4, for instance, or a Mk. 2 and a Mk. 5. All three proxies generate one order - that’s total, not each.

See, a posthuman is a human personality that’s been taken to ALEPH’s bosom and uploaded into the cloud. At this point, it’s more data than lifeform. Occasionally they deign to sock-puppet a body and move about in the physical realm. Therefore, each deployed team of Proxies is actually one being. This has rules consequences.

For starters, each Proxy team deploys as if it were one unit. This is great to keep in reserve, when you drop a heavy infantry rocket launcher and a forward infiltrating specialist and a hidden deployment assassin as one “model.” Each proxy becomes active when you spend an order on it; its unoccupied bodies can only ARO with a very limited set of responses.

When your posthuman’s bodies are all killed or isolated, if you’ve got a Netrod that’s still kicking, its personality retreats there, and continues to provide an order on top of whatever the Netrod generates.

CB seems to think the proxy rules are an imposition, rather than a major advantage. Therefore the proxy profiles, which taken in a vacuum are solid, are wildly undercosted compared to similar profiles in other armies. Ferinstance, the Proxy Mk 4, the heavy weapons guy, is 25 points and 2 SWC tops. That’s half or less than similar models in PanO and Yu Jing, and Nomad players would murder someone to get a heavy infantry profile like that at nearly any price point.

Mk. 1s come in doctor, engineer, and hacker variants, with mimetism and no wound incap. They’re not great gun fighters, but they’re surprisingly tough for ten frigging points for a WIP 15 specialist.

Mk. 2s are TO camo infiltrators, and they’re mostly meant to harm other players, rather than to accomplish objectives for you. The sniper rifle variant that can hidden deploy is a perennial favorite of ALEPH players the world round.

Mk. 3s are a bit of the odd synthetic out, since they’re lighter than other heavy infantry, and are pretty much just built to carry a close-in machine gun. They do move very quickly, however. Possibly the easiest profile to ignore.

Mk. 4s are that high-class heavy infantry I mentioned. The rocket launcher version is kinda ridiculous even by the standards of proxies, as it also comes with multiple other weapons to compensate for the rocket’s longer optimal ranges.

Mk. 5s are forward-deploying fast medium infantry, and if you take one, you’ll take the forward observer specialist. The other guy has a kind of light sniper rifle and can ignore cover, but you’ve got better options for that field.

Becoming a posthuman is about the highest honor you can get in the Human Sphere. It’s basically double-immortality and a confirmation that you’re a good and interesting person, worthy of the direct attentions of ALEPH. Giving that kind of motivated personality infinite power and the backing of the untouchable supercomputer that runs everything surely can’t go awry.

Next, Steel Phalanx.

Steel Phalanx

posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Steel Phalanx

The Steel Phalanx, for when the PanO knights just have too many orders for your tastes. For some reason, CB doesn’t refer to this sectorial as the Assault Sub-Section anymore.

At some point, ALEPH took a look at this whole “alien invasion” thing and decided that it needed some serious firepower. Reasonable! And that the best way to get that firepower was to recreate mythological Greek heroes and make them all part of one big, dysfunctional bioroid family. Less reasonable! Also, there’s merchandising and a cartoon. More reasonable!

SP’s big thing is being the big stick. They’re all tough models, and they’re all a pain in the ass to fight. There are no less than 18 named characters in this army, and they’re all obnoxious. Worse still are their line troops that aren’t actually line troops, the Myrmidons, along with their numerous variants. Steel Phalanx is entirely the wrong army for me, but I’m going to try and give them a fair shake for this writeup. Still, if you play these guys, you deserve to be held down in a toilet bowl until you cough up your lunch money.

Let’s rip that bandaid right off by starting with Myrmidons. Technically a warband, these guys are highly lethal in close combat and protected by ODD, the same pseduo-camouflage that the Avatar and the Reverend Custodiers get. ODD gives your opponent a -6 to hit you in shooting. You can ignore it in close combat, but these guys are pretty damn murderous in a knife fight. ODD is all over the place in Steel Phalanx, so get used to me whining about it. They get smoke grenades too, to cover their advance up the table.

Here’s the thing about Myrmidons. They’ve got a rifleman profile for 25 points out of a standard 300. With all the goodies they get, and a respectable stat line, that’s not too bad. It’s maybe a little cheap, since they go impetuous when they kill a guy, but understandable. You’re not going to take that profile, or the one with the machine gun, or the assault hacking device. You’re going to take the 16 point one with a chain rifle, which is like just hits and doesn’t burn. 16 points is crazy cheap for something with total availability, and that’s why any good TO will ban Myrmidons from entry-level escalation leagues - at low points costs, there’s just not much out there that can compete with them. I’m certainly not bitter about any personal experiences!!!

Myrmidons also come in an officer variant, which you should take because you want Chain of Command. That’s the one wearing the cheek pads and not a real helmet above. You can take up to three Myrm officers, so you could have a backup for your backup for your backup, if you really felt like wasting the points.

Myrmidons are named for the mythical warriors of Thessaly. They’re built using special Lhosts, and their personalities are all knock-offs of Achilles, since they’re designed to be his war host and drinking buddies.

Machaeon, Eudoros, Phoenix

Because this is Steel Phalanx, there are of course named Myrmidon officers. Machaon drops Chain of Command for Doctor and un-visor-able smoke grenades. Eudoros is better at CC, also has Eclipse grenades, and starts impetuous. Phoenix is more a standard Myrmidon, but he doesn’t go crazy when he kills someone and he’s got a big rocket launcher. Not too wild as far as characters go, just yet.

Machaon is probably insane, and it’s not entirely clear if ALEPH made him that way intentionally. Myrmidon models are not typically inclined to medicine in the first place, but Machaon displays a single-minded thirst for knowledge that’s gotten him into trouble before. The selection’s anecdote tells of a time Machaon was rooting up plants for analysis as potential pharmacological resources, when a nearby Fusilier officer poked fun at him for crawling around in the underbrush on all fours. The only reason the officer didn’t lose his eye in the ensuing scuffle is that there was a highly-skilled physician immediately at hand, ie Machaon.

Eudoros is an eternal also-ran to Achilles. He’s fleet of foot, as befitting someone named for a descendant of Hermes, full of braggadocio and self-confidence, and he’ll never be as good as the leader of the Phalanx, no matter what he does. This rankles him to no end, and might have consequences if they ever advanced the story in a way that might put Achilles at risk of being interesting or developing.

Phoenix is one of the few remaining models of the first generation of Myrmidons. He’s the old guy who always has some piece of advice to hand out, wanted or not. Mentor to Achilles, presumably still around to get killed in a dramatic fashion at the end of the movie.

Drakios and Scylla are Phalanx NCOs. Their rules are old enough that they don’t get the NCO rule, which seems like an obvious choice for an update. Otherwise, they’re just kinda there. They can both take single or pairs of Devabots, which I guess is neat, and they’re both able to move freely in jungle terrain. Drakios is pretty dull - he has weapons, and is not quite as useful as a Myrmidon. Scylla is the army’s super-hacker, only she’s not great at it and costs too much for what you get.

Drakios like to eat and chase skirt. He’s a glutton. Repeat for a few paragraphs. Scylla is a hipster chick, and yes, they really did model her with emo kid glasses.

For once, the engineer is the lady.

During the Paradiso campaign, Sophotects could be in short supply. ALEPH decided to make up for this shortfall by producing the Dactyls, a more combat-oriented variety of specialist in doctor and engineer flavors. Imagine a PanO doctor, but they’re less likely to kill your own guys trying to resuscitate them, and also they can out-knife most standard troop profiles in the game. Of particular note, you can take the engineer profile with what’s effectively a napalm panzerfaust type of thing; if that’s not your style, they can opt instead to roll with the loogie gun from Snow Crash, and lemme tell you, gluing your opponents down and bypassing them never gets not funny.

Dactyls are consummate combat engineers, for whom the biggest question in life is “is there enough explosive in the charge,” and to which the answer is always “no.” The doctors enjoy patching people up so they can go back to making things explode.

There’s usually a hero version of any given troop type in Phalanx, and for Dactyls that’s Acmon. Standard biz, he’s an upgraded Dactyl. Mostly he’s interesting for carrying two breaker pistols, which are kind of an interesting gimmick against close, highly-armored targets and kinda useless otherwise. Acmon’s gimmick is that he has really bad OCD. Yep.

Diomedes, with Ekdromoi foreground and Deva background

For an army that’s built around getting up in someone’s face and ruining their day, the Steel Phalanx doesn’t have very many jump troops. The Ekdromoi fill that role here. Good profile, high CC, and so on. They do have notably high WIP for jump troops, though they’ve only got an assault hacker for a specialist option. My personal favorite bit is that they’ve got Super Jump, so unlike a lot of jump troops, they can hop back up a terrain feature once they’ve hit the ground.

Ekdromoi spend their time harassing the flanks and rears of enemy formations. Their accomplishments include destroying a cache of Shasvastii seed embryos, and taking and keeping alive the first prisoner from the Morat officer corps.

Diomedes, as part of the pattern, is a better Ekdromoi. He’s actually pretty interesting in the fluff; he’s one of the few Phalanx heroes who’s not a recreation, but rather ascended through the ranks by chance. Where Achilles is a swaggering titan, Diomedes is a humble thinker. You know, the nerdy character in the cartoon adaptation. Whether in action or in council, no Phalanx operation goes off without the crucial involvement of Diomedes.

Problem is, sometimes he pays for his success with his life, and there’s not always someone around to recover his Cube. ALEPH keeps backups of all the Homeridae, of course, but that’s not the same as a continuous experiential memory. Diomedes secretly worries - he’s a hero for things he can’t recall. What if he made a mistake he’ll never learn from, that cost his life and the lives of his men; what’s to keep it from happening again?

Thamyris is a merely acceptable hacker. He also has the Journalist skill, one of the hold-overs from campaign play. Short version is that if you’ve got a journalist in play at the end of a game, their report helps your chances of promotion due to good PR. This usually shows up in the form of the Warcor, a three-point irregular model that’s pretty much there to shine a laser in people’s eyes if you have three points left at the end of making your list.

Thamyris is one of the official embedded correspondents in the Steel Phalanx, and the most famous one, because he challenged a group of Haqq odalisques to a poetry contest and got his ass kicked, both euphemistically and literally. An in-character blurb from Thamyris is provided in the entries for all the named characters, if you didn’t already have enough reason to hate him.

Andromeda is the only Greek unit available to Vedic, to my knowledge. Along with Cetus, her monster (there’s no Perseus in the roster, sadly), Andromeda’s the closest thing that Phalanx has to a camo infiltrator. Which she isn’t - she has slight forward deployment (albeit with superior options in Vedic), and mimetism, so she’s just kind of hard to see, instead of playing marker games. She’s a generic specialist, but you’d never take her in Phalanx because she’s got a huge unwieldy silhouette and she’s dull as dishwater against the rest of the Homeridae.

Cetus gives her martial arts, but with a different name. It should really be condensed into one skill. It won’t be any time soon. C’est la vie.

Andromeda’s fluff falls into the uncomfortably horny segment. Super spy, totally hot bod, cold as ice, hot bod, she’d betray you to accomplish her mission, did we mention she was hot? Strongly consider her in Operations, hard pass here.

The fluff describes the Thorakitai as the highly mobile mainstay troops of the Steel Phalanx; they are neither. They’re 4-2 MOV with no special abilities, and you can only take six of them, tops, unlike the total availability of Myrmidons. On top of that, they’re really there just to pad out your order pools and maybe to be a backup specialist, because compared to the rest of the army, they suck stat-wise. Haqq and Nomads would be happy to have these guys as line troopers, PanO might consider them briefly, and there’s very little reason to take these here. You can get Netrods for cheaper, or you can get significantly better Myrmidons for not much more in the way of points cost.

Nesaie-Alke, a Thorakites but more so, sucks out loud. Nesaie is a happy-go-lucky manic pixie girl, and Alke is her gruff and gritty split personality that comes out in combat. Fffffuck that.

Agema marksman, Atalanta, Teucer

Agema marksmen are basically what you’d expect. They’re decent, but not superlative shots, they get MSV2, and they shoot a thing. Apart from your standard sniper rifle, they also carry a Mk 12, which is sort of like a larger-bore assault rifle but isn’t what you’d think of as a long range weapon, or rocket launchers. They’re okay.

Agemas are the nerds that slam pick sniper in Battlefield-esque games and crow about their 360 no-scope headshots. Specifically, they brag - they’re called out apart from your typical gloomy lone-wolf sniper as constantly shouting about how they fragged that guy, fuckin’ sikk dude

Atalanta actually is the gloomy lone-wolf sniper. She’s spooky, so spooky, probably does murders for ALEPH as a side hustle. Somehow. Unlike a lot of the heroic versions of standard guys, she actually is a measurable improvement because of her Spotbot, the bunny rabbit in the image above. It’s a flat +3 to BS attacks, so she’s hitting on a 20 or less in her good range.

Teucer is more of the standard Agema, only he’s a dork who constantly tells terrible jokes. I hate Teucer, but he’s distinguished by being good buds with

Ajax the Great. Born/created Mrymidon Glaboros DG-056, this individual was one of the test subjects for the AR-1 Lhost, the prototype for the Achilles program. Physically, the new body was without parallel - Ajax is a literal titan of the battlefield, and could probably take Achilles in a fight, if he was prepared to get his own nose bloodied in the process. Unfortunately for Ajax, the processing hardware to run the tactical sims required of Achilles wasn’t up to par, and it damaged his mind. As a result, Ajax is a big dumb lummox who can crack a car in half with his bare hands and not break a sweat. I assume Teucer spends a lot of time telling him about the rabbits.

Ajax is literally physically stronger than Achilles, by one point of Physique. His real asset is that he has Berserker and Natural Born Warrior, so he can nullify most close combat skills and force his opponent to make a normal test instead of an opposed roll. He’s got two rifles and a giant hammer, so he’s not great at ranged, but will pound the hell out of something in melee - each his he deals causes three potential wounds.

Ajax is still a Myrmidon, which is reflected in his Impetuous attribute, and that he can form an Enomotarchos fireteam. Phalanx gets a special type of Fireteam, which can consist of between two and four members, rather than the typical three-to-five for a standard link. The relevant units can party with their fellows, so you can run a Myrmidon Enomotarchos (good), a Thorakitai link (not good), or with up to four Dactyls (this is weird, why would you do this). Ajax, plus three friends in melee, equals a bad day.

Hector’s classical namesake was the prince of Troy and archenemy of Achilles, back in the mythic day. This modern version is the brains of the Phalanx, second in command and tactical planner for the army. Which is not to say he’s a slouch in a fight, either - Hector is nearly as good in a fight as Ajax or Achilles, two of the fightin’-est units in the game. Taking Hector as your LT is probably not a terrible idea, if you’re not taking the big man himself. He gets Strategos level 1, and a plasma rifle he looted off a dead CA goon. I quite like his little hoplite-bot.

What I don’t like are Achilles and his closest companions.

Achilles v.2, played tonight by Brad Pitt

Patroclus, Achilles v.1 in the background


Partially, these are some not-great rules, partially they’re some badly-reinterpreted backstories, and partially these guys hew very closely to the OG personalities of the Iliad, which is to say everyone is a shithead.

Patroclus is straight forward. He’s Achilles’ “best friend,” and his gimmick is that he’s actually kind of crap, except that he can form a two-man fireteam with Achilles and holoprojector himself to appear as another Achilles model on the table. In the abstract, that’s kinda neat - it’s Patroclus as Achilles’ shield-bearer and bodyguard, and closest companion. In practice, you’re paying 125 points for two models, one of which is garbo, and which any experienced player will see through in a heartbeat, because you’ll be able to shoot one of them dead in a heartbeat and the other will take rockets to the chin without flinching. Killing Patroclus does not send Achilles into a huge sulk for days on end, presumably because they’re both functionally immortal constructs of a bonkers AI. CB also leans heavily into the two of them being ~just good friends~, because it’s 2018 and we still can’t have a bisexual figure of power.

As evidenced by the entry for Penthesilea, which cannot keep its goddamn hand out of its pants. Penny drives a really fast bike, on part with the fastest bikers in the game, and that’s a real asset in a faction that’s actually kinda limited in its mobility choices. Stats on par for what you’d expect, kinda lacking in the equipment department.

Penny was designed as a way to get Achilles to get busy fucking instead of going crazy and murdering people because he’s an insane lustful demigod-thing. I don’t need to know how my fucking soldier smells, book, nor do I need a lengthy description of her delicate eyelashes. This is supposed to be the technological incarnation of an Amazon warrior, not a fucking bodice ripper. I hate, hate, hate this.

Achilles on the table is a threat along the likes of the Avatar or Joan. He has crazy-high stats and comes in two flavors, original with ODD, and heavily armored without. It’s probably not a great idea to make him your LT, though he can be, because your opponent will probably dedicate their play to either avoiding him entirely or killing him dead, depending on their playstyle and capability.

In the fiction, Achilles was specifically made to pack the power of a TAG into something the size of a person. The AR-1 Lhosts proved too much for ordinary uploaded humans to handle, so ALEPH cracked its library and started looking for the greatest warrior in human history. It settled on Achilles.

The recreation process did a good job. The leader of the Phalanx is a brilliant tactician and indomitable warrior, feared and respected by his allies in equal measure. He’s also a petulant child with the ability to kill anyone in his path. He’s prone to rages and sulks, and ugly, ugly cruelties that don’t get shared via the media. So, pretty much the mythic Achilles to a tee.

Though he ostensibly fights for humanity against the Combined Army, ALEPH has also employed the demigod against its mortal foes in the Commercial Conflicts. The cartoon doesn’t play this up much.

There is, most interesting to me, no hint of Odysseus. He’s been bandied about by the fans for a while now, and while I’d love to see what they make of a character like that in a wargame, I think CB may have let expectations rise too high to ever be met by their product.

I think I like the Greeks even less now. Oh well.

Next, an overview of the non-aligned armies.

Non-Aligned Armies, part 1

posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Non-Aligned Armies, part 1

Back in April (2018, if you’re reading this on the archive), CB launched a new book, Uprising. Uprising introduced the Non-Aligned Armies, which for some reason they want you to pronounce as “N-A-2.” These are mercenaries and independent nations, and their big thing is that they’re all sectorials. There isn’t a general non-aligned army you can take, like with the vanilla factions. It’s a pretty clever idea, since it lets the company introduce some more minor factions without the need to tie them into larger pre-existing entities.

Uprising also advanced the timeline two years. After years of being 2175, it’s 2177. Progress! The primary thing that happened during those two years was a whole lot of nothing most everywhere, and also the Japanese broke away from Yu Jing; that’d be the titular uprising, see.

You cannot imagine the wailing and screeching that resulted. Suffice to say, much drama was had, Yu Jing still sucks, and the Earth still orbits the Sun.

Uprising introduced the Druze Bayram Security, Free Company of the Star, Ikari Company, and independent Japan as new forces. This part of the writeup will cover Druze and StarCo, with JSA and Little JSA to follow.

Actual real-world Druze are a people and a religion. They’re an offshoot of Ismali Islam, but they’re not Muslim - the Druze faith is kinda wildly syncretic in its origins, and they’ve got a little bit of a mystery cult thing going on; they’ve got levels of initiation, esotericism, and as principle of faith, you don’t have to be out and practicing the faith to be Druze. If you’re not familiar, the Druze faith is a pretty interesting subject.

The game relies heavily on taqiyya, the willingness to conceal one’s faith when necessary. A particular member of the faithful may be in danger of persecution if they’re openly practicing, or there may be local members of the community who just aren’t prepared for the revelations of the faith, and so it’s just easier and safer for everyone to keep doing their thing in secret. Extending the logic here a little, this principle means that you can be a Druze person working in another society’s bureaucracy, commercial sector, or army.

The Druze Society takes taqiyya to an unfortunate extreme. They’ve banded together among the criminal elements of the Sphere, forming a secretive empire of organized crime; the Druze Society is probably the most powerful criminal enterprise in human space.

The book does specifically call out that the Druze Society is a mafia group that happens to be of the Druze faith, not that all Druze are inherently criminal. I’m pretty sure the thought process here went “The Druze faith is interesting, I want to put them in my game > they form secret societies > criminal organizations are secret > idea,” but it’s also kinda fucked they’re the primary facet by which a lot of nerds will now view an entire ethnoreligious group. Like, for a game that’s so deeply invested in the papacy, there’s a comparative lack of the St. Paul Gang or whatever the fuck. Good intentions, maybe sketchy implementation.

The Druze Society was mostly off the radar of the various powers’ intelligence until recently. A PanO intel agent was involved in a public dust-up involving several high-profile members of the Society. See, CB finally got enough money to write, illustrate, and publish their own comic book, which they insist you refer to as a manga, even if nobody who worked on it has been further east than the Pyrenees. That incident was this comic. Buy our shit, and also these miniatures of the comic characters, that nobody cared about until we gave two of them really good profiles.

The art’s fine. The story is certainly a thing a person, with some command of a pen, wrote at a point in time. Anyway, they kept Kenny Ruiz around to do the illustrations for Aristeia, and he’s got kind of a Joe Mad thing going without the awful coloring, as well as having met a deadline once in his life.

Right. Druze. The Druze were originally a Haqq unit, and for a long time they were the stereotypical mercenary group of the game - cold, callous, and valuing their bottom line over any ethical constraints. They were alright medium infantry profiles, which meant they were heavy hitters by Haqq standards.

Uprising brought mixed fireteams fully out of the domain of the Tohaa, and the Druze were the first army to get them. Druze Bayram Security was dropped last year around December, way prior to Uprising’s release, with no real leadup or prep work for the community. This actually worked really well for CB; this weird new interesting thing was sort of a Christmas present to the fans, as opposed to a world-turned-upside-down problem like JSA would become. They were also the first mixed-list sectorial, which would come to define the NAA - Druze lists can pick from the new units, Haqq, PanO and mercenary profiles.

Druze Shock Teams form the backbone of any Druze army. They’re medium infantry, so they’re a touch slow. Stats are okay, but they’ve got very respectable ARM/BTS values. Their release as a whole new army gave them a host of new weapons loadouts, so your average Druze team will be able to put the hurt on pretty much anything they come across. All Druze are Veterans, so if your LT gets killed, they keep on keepin’ on. They’ve got Fatality, X-visors and viral pistols, so they can reach out and murder something from further away than you’d expect from other armies.

Fireteam options really come out for these guys. They can Duo (2-man), Haris (3-man), Core (3-5 man, can be run alongside a Haris), or they can take a special Core link. Druze can combine up two Druze with up to three Brawlers, a new mercenary profile, or they can run four Druze and one Brawler or Clipper Dronbot (a missile launcher bot).

Here’s the tricky part. Brawlers have 4-4 MOV, and Clippers are 6-4 MOV. You’ve still got to keep all these guys in unit coherency despite wildly different movement speeds and silhouettes. Also, words mean things! Infinity players have a tough time with this concept, though in fairness Corvus Belli does too.The Brawler/Druze link is specifically “2 Druze and up to 3 Brawlers.” If you lose a Druze, congratulations, your fireteam breaks and you don’t get any of the benefits. The Clipper link is 4 Druze and 1 Clipper - lose any one of them, broken link. Compare with an Alguacile link or whatever, you can run those guys into a blender and they’ll keep going until there’s just two of them left. Fireteams are already sacrificing flexibility for power, and the mixed fireteams go full-on into that tradeoff.

Druze have mostly been covered - they’re mobbed-up tactical squads that secretly exist in other people’s armies. Among their notable accomplishments are utterly wiping out one of the largest non-Tunguska Russian mob groups. That’s neat, I suppose.

Brawlers don’t have a write-up beyond “these are new mercenaries,” so there’s just fluff for this segment. They’re interesting pieces, since they’re less-killy light infantry counterparts to the Druze. They’re also your only option for doctors, your only effective option for engineers, and your only choice for MSV2 to defeat smoke and camo tokens. They’re crucial profiles for the army, which is possibly why they’re pretty expensive choices. I like Brawlers on the balance, but I’d like to see more in the way of fluff, and more model support beyond the pre-order bonus for buying the Uprising book.

Druze can take Hunzakuts and Bashi Bazouks, the Haqq irregular infiltrators and jump troops respectively. They get PanO and Haqq remotes, a mercenary ninja, and two TAGs, the Anaconda and Scarface.

The Anaconda looks cool, but isn’t very good. I’d take most heavy infantry over it in a fight, and they’re probably cheaper than this thing, too. On the plus side, Druze get an upgraded version with an HMG, instead of the previous version with an LMG. Anacondas are mercenary units, and the only reason anyone ever took them is because you could do so if you played Space France in Ariadna.

Scarface and Cordelia, the brother and sister pair, recently paid a visit to a lot of armies. A few seasons prior, the gimmick was that there were new TAG-focused missions, and you needed one to score objectives. Well, not everybody in Infinity got a TAG, so those that didn’t got Scarface. Except Caledonia, who got the Anaconda. Scarface is a better, if much shorter-ranged TAG than the Anaconda, and it has three hit points like a real-people TAG. Cordelia and Scarface can Duo, so she can chase after him and engineer him if he goes down. Remember when I said the Brawler was your only practical Engineer? Yeah, you’re not dropping 74 points and 1.5 SWC for the privilege of just pushing a button.

Cordelia and Joe Turner are brother and sister mercenaries. Joe used to be a revolutionary on a mining colony, fighting in a movement sponsored by State Empire foreign intel. Space China was also pushing space heroin on the miners, so that ended well. After the revolution fizzled, Joe took work as a mercenary, as he was already a maladjusted asshole to begin with. He bounced around from warzone to warzone, committing just a few warcrimes in Caledonia in the process.

As conditions on their home asteroid deteriorated, Ma and Pa Turner eventually bought it in “a mysterious industrial accident.” Care for his younger sister was suddenly thrust upon Joe, who decided the best way to raise her was to pay their way as a mercenary and leave her in the baggage train. Young Cordelia picked up her engineering talents there. She helped him kick the space-horse, and now he’s only a huge asshole, instead of a huge asshole and an addict. Technically an improvement.

That’s about it - Druze only get 17 different troop types. There’s a reason they’re a pseudo-sectorial and not a full army. They’re pretty good at putting holes in the opposing side, but they struggle with mobility and accomplishing specialist objectives. Druze armies tend to be middling order counts. Their best asset is linkable speculative firing EM grenades provided by a Shock Team squad - little packets of isolation (and immobilization for mechanized units) just raining down like artillery fire. Which, coincidentally, is one of the great strengths of the next army.

The Free Company of the Star, commonly StarCo, is a semi-deniable, wholly-owned subsidiary of Corregidor. If Druze are the shady mercenaries, these are the rag-tag white-hat mercs. They primarily draw their units from Corregidor, with some Ariadna and Haqq thrown in for flavor. They’re also loaded with special characters - only Steel Phalanx has more unique units.

StarCo is currently headed by Captain Yolanda Cardoso, transplanted over from Corregidor. During her tenure, the number of StarCo contracts signed with NGOs and charitable organizations skyrocketed. Captain Cardoso is spare with her soldiers and utterly cutthroat against her competitors. The degree to which her childhood in a Corregidor barrio has influenced her management style is a matter of some debate among the troops.

StarCo includes four non-negotiable clauses in its contracts.

To whit, StarCo openly courts legitimate operations and peacekeeping functions, and will push your shit in if you ask them to do otherwise. Of course, this being Infinity, loremaster Gutier follows this feel-good section with details about how StarCo is also a training cadre for Corregidorian forces and a potential source of deniable assets for Nomad intelligence.


StarCo’s rosters include Alguaciles, a limited number of Brawlers, Nomad docs and engineers, Hellcats, Mobile Brigada, Riot Grrls, an Anaconda of their own, Nomad remotes, Nomad skirmishers, the Al-Hawaa holographic body doubles from Haqq, Avicenna, and Ariadnan Irmandinos, Hardcases and Caterans, to really give you the cream of the irregular crop.

StarCo is about as capable as Corregidor in a stand-up fight, which is good but not superlative. They’ve got a lot more in the way of irregular options, and a bunch of new mixed links - new options include Avicenna rolling with a pack of Riot Grrls to provide a hell of a meat wall, Mobile Brigada can take along a doctor and Senior Massacre for revives and a melee booster, and a bunch of special duos. They have a real big weakness when it comes to LT choices, however. You get four choices, and you’d only ever pick from three of them - the Brawler LT, the Alguacile LT, or the Mobile Brigada LT. All three of these choices are obvious, and they’re not hugely survivable. Be prepared to deal with numerous assassination attempts.

As mentioned, StarCo gets a shitload of special characters, some of which are new altogether, some of which are reassigned.

Like Senior Massacre, literally Deadpool. Horrible scarred face, regenerates, has a katana, two pistols, bad jokes - Deadpool. Great in close combat and gets Natural Born Warrior, so he short-circuits a lot of special melee skills. Regeneration sounds nice, but he’s not actually that burly, so he’s probably just going to eat his one wound and die. Still, he’s got EM grenades, Eclipse grenades, and a breaker rifle, all for 29 points. You could definitely do worse.

Likewise, Raoul Spector is literally Moon Knight. There’s no model or planning illustration out yet, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope. Raoul is one point of CC away from being totally identical to Massacre’s stats spread, and he’s also got Natural Born Warrior. I feel that he’s a little more survivable, though, since he has No Wound Incapacitation instead of Regeneration.

Spector gets a lot of use in StarCo lists, but you’ve got two fairly different flavors to take. He’s a Specialist Operative, so he can go accomplish mission objectives - that’s the same between the two types. One version generates a Regular order and has a fireteam option, so that he can deploy normally and take two Brawlers or a Brawler and a corporate security unit (sort of a fancy Nomad Morlock) with him. The other version is irregular, but has Combat Jump, so he can parachute in anywhere on the board. I gotta say I prefer the irregular version, since you’re not wasting an order keeping him off the board, and he can set down right next to his objective.

There actually is some fluff for Spector! It’s highly derivative of the comic book character! Raoul Specter is a mercenary employed by a Baron Harkonnen figure. Raoul’s job is to go out, do exciting things, and have his entire experience piped back to his boss via simsense. As a result, Raoul’s died quite a lot, but that’s not as much of a problem in the Infinity universe. Still, getting killed repeatedly has left him a little mentally unstable. You know, like Moon Knight.

Knauf comes to us from the comic book, along with the rest of the heroes I’m about to showcase. He’s a gritty mercenary sniper with a troubled past, so of course he’s the hero of the book. Knauf costs too much and sucks at his job.

There was memory loss and some kinda dumb anime chewing on a spent rifle casing and he eventually kills his clone. I don’t care.

You know what shit everyone loves and is a great idea to introduce into your rapidly-growing game, so that new people are exposed to it as part of your cross-media push? That shit where there’s a grown woman trapped in a child’s body!

Uhahu hails from some fucked-up Nomad experiment and now she looks like a child, forever, even though she’s thirty-something. There’s apparently a whole other group of adult-children out there with brain problems and murderous impulses. I am really unhappy writing these words! She’s a decent hacker, with some launchable repeaters. She’s probably your best hacker option in StarCo, and there’d never be a reason to take her in any other army ever.

What really galls me is that they don’t even pretend to justify this perv crap or work it into the story. Being a fucked-up child soldier has no impact on Uhahu’s character, and neither the sculptor nor the comic artist knows how to render a child, so you just have this short kinda deformed character hanging around for no explicable reason. But they sure as balls want you to know she’s an adult, but she looks like a child! Not shitty at all, CB!

Here is a thing.The comic book (Outrage) had a special model pack published not long after the book’s release. Partially, it’s to get you to buy some models that didn’t have rules attached for a long-ass time. The other side of it is that they used the Outrage box to test new sculpting methods, to simplify production for the Aristeia board game; Infinity models can be very fiddly to put together, and their regular production standards weren’t going to cut it for a board game slapped together in a Chinese factory.

This is the illustration for Emily Handelman.

Why Ruiz chose to illustrate her mid “fffffff” is unknown, but apart from being very generic-anime-chick, she’s competently drawn and not entirely horribly designed.

Okay? Here’s what her model looks like.

The Outrage models, to put it mildly, are not very well made. Uhahu up there is probably the least-worse one, and none of the studio models are painted well. This is particularly unfortunate, because Emily is one of the few must-take models in the game. StarCo does not really work the same without her.

You’re only going to take the Chain of Command option. In no small part, your LT is obvious and you want that backup. Mostly though, you want that grenade launcher.

You can take Emily in a fireteam with either four Alguaciles, or four Riot Grrls, depending on how spendy you feel at the time. You very much want her in a five-man link. Theoretically she can also Duo with Uhahu, but that’d be wildly suboptimal.

So, with an X-visor to reduce her range penalties and a 5-person link to boost her BS and Burst values, Emily is an artillery piece. Just like the Druze, she can drop EM and regular grenades from entirely out of line of sight, and with the bonuses she gets she stands a fair chance of succeeding. This time it's cheaper and can keep you from Loss of LT, though.

Now, this is not quite as broken as people were screaming about when StarCo was first released. She is good at dropping bombs on people, but if you’re keeping her tucked in the back board and ensconced in cover she’s not out accomplishing objectives. She’s also real squishy, so a suicide AD troop can solve your problem in an order or two.

Still, I’m not a fan of must-take choices in this game. One of the things I like most about Infinity is that the way I compose a list and run it might be wildly different from how you do it, even within the same subfaction, but we can both be equally successful as long as we’re skilled, knowledgeable players. Must-haves reduce the variation inherent to the game, and they get boring (lookin’ at you, Tohaa). It’s not totally broken and it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a flaw in what’s otherwise a pretty reasonably balanced system.

Next time: Glorious Nippon.

Japan and Other Japan

posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Japan and Other Japan

It cannot possibly come as a shock to anyone who’s made it this far that Infinity has a serious hard-on for Japan.

Back at the dawn of Infinity, Japan was an administrative sub-unit of Yu Jing, and their armed forces (the Japanese Sectorial Army, implying that word is common in canon somehow) were used as disposable shock troops only a step or two above Kuang Shi. Which, as an uneducated American, seems pretty accurate as far as my understanding of the Sino-Japanese relationship goes.

JSA troops could appear in Yu Jing lists at the time, though that basically meant one of two profiles. First were Ninjas, the TO camo infiltrator from this part of the world. Second were the Keisotsu, the JSA line troops. Keis are the worst basic trooper in the game, but that also means they’re they cheapest. If you’re keeping them back to use as cheerleaders, shaving five to ten points off your order batteries can get you really beneficial profiles elsewhere. There was a big presentation at the Gencon seminar where all this was revealed, with data taken from the Infinity army builder and tournament organizer. Anyone taking any other JSA units in YJ lists was statistically insignificant.

Facts have no place in the sphere of public opinion, however, and there was doomsaying and calls for vendetta and on and on and on. Eventually everyone remembered that Yu Jing players suck and should be ignored, and we all carried on with our lives.

The Japanese Secessionist Forces have reclaimed their homeland and their Emperor during the events of Uprising. They rely on older, crummier technology, since they had to bail on State Empire territory in a hurry, and only some of that materiel deficit has been made up by donations from PanO - the Hyperpower has somewhat openly assisted the rebellion against Yu Jing, and backed Japan’s recognition as an independent power at the Space UN.

It’s never specifically said what form of government that Japan has, apart from the Emperor being a thing. It’s not clear if the Emperor is actually head of government, or if it’s like modern day Japan’s constitution, or something else entirely. But that Emperor, woo, you better believe he’s important. We get pages of description about the reverse-kidnapping of the Emperor from the hands of the dastardly Space Chinese and how it was a convenient excuse to nuke some profiles, as these valiant warriors gave their lives yadda yadda yadda. The closest we get is the wild exaltation of the military and adulation of the bushido lifestyle, which, errr.

As an army, Japan has a real glass cannon thing going on. They’re also extremely close combat oriented, and on the occasions they get into base-to-base, they’re pretty respectable. There’s a fair chance they get brutally splattered before they get into arm’s length, however.

I’m gonna go ahead and get little JSA out of the way. Ikari Company is the black hat version of StarCo. They’re largely composed of JSA troops, plus some mercenaries and the occasional Haqq profile. When the fluff goes out of its way to paint StarCo as a swell bunch of fellas, it spends an equal amount of time trying to convince you that Ikari Company is monstrously evil and corrupt, when they’re really no better or worse than your standard mercenary outfit in most fictional examples you’d care to name. I’ve never seen them played in the wild, and I’m not sure why you’d run them unless you already had a bunch of JSA units and wanted to try something a little different. They’re not mechanically optimal, or terribly interesting. Cool, moving on.

Keisotsu, mostly. The one in the hoodie is actually a different unit, which we’ll get to in a bit. The white-armored folks are among the newest models CB has released. The orange-and-green armored ones are very, very old, and painted up in Yu Jing colors. One of the things that the switch to CG sculpting brought was a more unified scale for everything. A lot of the grognards in the Infinity scene like to complain about scale creep as a result, since a lot of the hand-made models weren’t scaled very well. For reference, even the most upright poses for the old Keis are about chin-height on the new ones. Personally, I think it’s an improvement, but I don’t have thousands of dollars of old models, so I’m biased. YMMV.

Keisotsu Butai are the line infantry of the Japanese Secessionist Army. Their stats are very typical of JSA units - their BS and PH values are both 10, so you’ve got a fifty-fifty chance without modifiers of hitting a target or dodging a shot. Expect that to trend downward. They get the lowest WIP value of the faction at 12, so on par with PanO mediocrity, along with measily ARM 1 and BTS 0. In exchange for all these defects, they’re CC 14, they come with V: Courage so they can shrug off successful ARM rolls and don’t retreat, and all for 9 points to start. That’s crazy cheap.

Their special weapons are pretty bargain-priced, too, so you’ll almost always want to have some Keisotsu around in quantity, both for their orders and to team them up so they become useful. On that note, Keis get some of the combined fireteam options that Uprising brought us. Options are five Keis; three Keis, one Domaru heavy infantry and one Kempeitai operative precisely; plus my preferred option of between one or two Kempeis and up to four Keis, so you can take some losses and not immediately break your team.

Pre-Uprising Keisotsu Butai are explicitly used by the State Empire in Zapp Brannigan style, as warm bodies to throw at an enemy until they run out of bullets. Why any Japanese citizen would willingly join the army to die for Space China is never specified, but usually Gutier can’t help himself if they didn’t have a choice. Post-Uprising, joining the poor bloody infantry is still an extreme hazard to your personal well-being, but it allows the chance of advancing up the warrior hierarchy.

Yuriko Oda does the hero thing for Keis. She’s an engineer, upgraded stats, and comes with Minelayer, so she’s a good choice if you want a defensive link to hang back and juice orders for the rest of your army. A former Yu Jing special operative, she’s secretly working for…

The Kempeitai, with a fixation on hooded robes as seen above and in the Keisotsu picture. Kempeis are better at combat than Keis, with some additional skills and kit. They all have Sixth Sense, which means they can no longer be negatively affected by a surprise shot from a camo marker; it’s nice if they’re on their own, but redundant in a fireteam. You’ll primarily use that skill with the MSV 2 marksman rifle profile, which is the closest thing to a sniper JSA get. They’re shorter range than proper sniper rifles, however, and don’t get the variable ammo types that most of the sniper profiles have. Mixed bag, but better than nothing.

Primarily, you’ll keep Kempeitai around because they’re fallbacks. They can instantly take over when your fireteam leader or LT are killed, and that’ll happen a lot in JSA. Stick one in the backfield with a boarding shotgun and let your LT go to their glorious death in combat.

Kempeitai are secret police and terrorists, prior to the restoration of the emperor, and guardians of the Imperial household and order after. They worked secretly during the Yu Jing years, targeting the State Empire military for their terror actions, while looking to protect the lives of JSA troops. Contrast to the Tatenokai, a less discriminatory terror organization that just blew up anything or anyone in their way to pursue their nationalist goals.

Here’s the thing. The Kenpeitai (same thing, just a different Romanization) were the Imperial secret police during during the 20th century. Originally formed as a military police org, the real Kenpeitai rapidly devolved into secret police tactics when unleashed in Japan’s conquered territories, and as the rule at home got shakier as the war dragged on. The Kenpei were responsible for a pretty impressive swath of human rights violations, even by the standards of the Axis. If you look at an org chart of the IJA and IJN, they don’t look so monstrous. But, uh, maybe not a great thing to name your fun game models after the Unit 731 guys.

The Tatenokai are at least condemned in the fluff. I’m not sure why they chose to add this detail in, though - the real Shield Society was a right-wing movement that, for reasons unclear to me, were allowed to train alongside the JSDF, and five of them attempted a coup to restore the Emperor to power in 1970.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Raiden, Ryuken-9

The Raiden were medium infantry camo attackers, but not infiltrating specialists. As a result, they were kind of crap and nobody took them. During the Uprising, they all got patched out died nobly in the fighting and got replaced by the Ryuken-9 Unit, who are literally Public Security Section Eight. Ryuken are also better in every way, so nobody’s really crying too hard.

To this day, I have no idea why they sculpted that guy like he’s about to draw his heavy rocket launcher and point the butt end at the enemy.

Good for health, the Aragoto Senkenbutai are the fast cavalry of the JSA. I am a great fan of any wargame model that goes really fast in a straight line (ask me about my gimmick Oops All A-wings list for X-wing), but even apart from that, Aragoto are really good. They’re right up there with the fastest troops in the game, at MOV 8-6, and their other stats are nothing to sneeze at either. It’s a little weird that they have a skill that adds movement to their reactive dodge rolls, since bikers are bad at dodging, but they’re otherwise excellent and priced to move. The light machine gun and hacker profiles are serious hard workers, capable of either delivering hurt at high velocities or dropping a specialist and driving them up into your opponent’s teeth at alarming rates. Especially since they’re regular impetuous, so each can potentially move fully halfway across a standard board using only its own orders in one turn.

Pre-Uprising, Aragotos are by and large biker gangers who’ve been given a choice after getting caught - serve or die. Otherwise, they’re speed freaks who joined up for access to the best bikes and a license to use them. It’s not been made clear if the world’s raddest penal legion is still in play after the return of the Emperor, but how can you say no to militarized bosozoku? Aragotos own, even if the new models look like dirt.

Wargaming trends repeat, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. Asuka Kisaragi, who might as well be named “Batman January,” was once the hero Aragoto. A former sukeban who got nabbed by the fuzz after establishing her own biker gang, Asuka rose through the ranks by effectively being so XXXtreme they had to either put her down or promote her. If anyone could kick-flip into and out of a room on the regular, it would be her.

During Uprising, Asuka was killed. And then this mysterious new biker, the Kuroshi Rider, showed up, who never reveals her face, and who has a spooooky cybernetic arm, and a spoooooky undefined background, and who is just fucking Celty from Durarara, and it’s really obnoxious they killed a character who was ridiculous but fun with a character that’s ridiculous but sad. She has a serrated scythe, for Christ’s sake, like this is a GW product. I love Asuka, rad bike and warts and all, only half as much as I hate the Kuroshi Rider. Fuck you, Gutier.

JSA no longer has medium infantry. Ostensibly this is to represent the depletion of the army’s ranks after the Uprising, but it’s mostly because they didn’t really fit with the fast-moving, hard-hitting character of the army. They sure do have a bunch of heavy infantry, though.

But not Haramaki, those are all dead. Another victim of the event, Haramaki were wildly undercosted for heavy infantry, since they were extremely impetuous and were supposed to run right into the enemy’s guns unless you spent time and resources to stop them. Or, you could just take a link of them, which made them act like normal people again for reasons???, and now you had a heavy infantry link that could shit rockets out at anyone who game into their sight. Haramaki probably deserved to get nerfed to death.

Haramaki were the working class samurai, looked down on by the ennobled Domaru for working their way up the ranks. Rambunctious and of low status, the Haramaki were spent keeping the Yu Jing armies at bay during the Emperor’s flight.

The Tanko replaced the Haramaki. Training and equipment standards were all relaxed following the disbanding of the Haramaki regiments, so these are the cast-offs of even those low-rung samurai, with cheaper, mismatched armor. Stats-wise they’re pretty interchangable, but Tanko are optionally impetuous like Aragoto, rather than chaotic stupid like Haramaki. You can also only take three of them, so they can’t spam missiles to the same degree.

Shikami, former YJ colors at bottom

Shikami are in an awkward spot. They’re heavy infantry ninjas, but they’re not as good at being HI as the other army options, and they’re not as good at sneaking or objectives as ninjas. Until Uprising, they were the priciest JSA heavy infantry option, too. They’re not terrible, but they have weak gunfighting abilities. They are quite mobile, able to ignore pretty much any terrain obstacle in their path, and they will gut you if you let them get into contact, so they’ve got that going for them.

The Fukuro ninja clan operates a private security company under Japanese auspices, operating as deniable assets for the state to fund their techno-ninja pursuits. I’m deeply curious as to which thing they’re intended to be a reference to, since the word “fukuro” means “bag,” and there are a whole host of weeb-related characters named as such.

I sure hope Karakuri get a redesign and a refluff soon, because they’re great profiles with terrible models. Those are some straight-up geishabots, and they won’t even do us the favor of pretending otherwise. Karakuri are ambulatory war-bots, comparable with good attack remotes, but with the size and dodging abilities of a regular infantry unit. They’re pretty dang durable, and you can take three of them in an independent fireteam, which actually has a reasonable chance of accomplishing objectives. They’re nothing grossly overpowered, but they’re really solid, and honestly my pick for the best JSA heavy infantry units.

I’ll let you do the math on their fluff.

As tempting as it may be, especially given their price, it’s probably not smart to take five Domaru Butai in a fireteam. These HI are really, really good at close combat, and pretty so-so at everything else. They’re not reliably durable enough to make it into melee, and that’s a shame. You can get the cheapest one for 26 points, and the priciest LMG option for 39 points and 2 SWC, so at least you’re not sinking all your budget into a heavy infantry pain train. I think either a hair more armor, or a bit more in the way of weapons options would do a lot to improve the Domaru’s lot in life.

These are typical samurai, but now they have power armor. Do you like courtly intrigue and Kurosawa films? Well!

No matter how they play, you have to admit Domaru have some kickin’-rad models.

That twisting, creaking noise you hear is the curling of a monkey’s paw. The Daiyokai Dengeketai is a Domaru, but with a little bit more armor and expanded weapons loadouts. Unfortunately it’s Silhouette 5, large heavy infantry, and it costs twice as much as a Domaru for not much more benefit, and that’s a sucker’s bet. You can take a haris fireteam of a Daiyokai and two Domaru, but why?

The Daiyokai were experimental heavy armor sets being built in secret in Kempeitai labs before the Uprising. They were rushed into production, and in smaller numbers than anticipated (they’re availability 1, yikes). Work continues on an upgraded version, so I’m wondering if they left themselves an excuse for how crappy it is, or if there’s actually some futureproofing in this entry.

As if to further discourage you from taking a Daiyokai, the O-yoroi is JSA’s only TAG option, and a more efficient use of your points. Looking somewhat like a cross between a Guges and Eva-01, the O-yoroi is pretty tough, expectedly good at close combat, and packs an AP HMG, so it’s got a lot of heavy firepower compared to the rest of the army. It’s got all the weaknesses of a TAG, though, so beware. Of particular note, the Martial Arts skill gives you Stealth, so this giant clanking power suit could conceivably sneak up behind someone while their back is turned and stab them with an exploding katana, all sneaky-like.

O-yoroi are doctrinally employed against difficult enemy positions to keep the opponent occupied, while the rest of the mobile JSA forces bypass or encircle the resistance point. Corvus Belli can’t stop making sexy O-yoroi pilot sculpts, and it’s getting kinda tiresome.

Traitor ninja, Grey Fox, IBS Grey Fox, Shinobu and Oniwaban

All of JSA’s skirmishers are ninja variants. Basically, pick a type of ninja you want and how much you’d like to spend on them, and that’s what’s going to make your enemy worried. All of these models are hidden deployment, TO camo infiltrators. They might be there, they might not. They might be waiting to murder my guys, they might be elsewhere on the board waiting until the last turn to steal an objective. Ninjas are great, despite a good many shortcomings.

They’re so great, they’re the main JSA unit not to leave Yu Jing during the Uprising. YJ just didn’t have a comparable cheap camo infiltrator to fill the same role, and they were taken in about 85% of YJ lists, so CB peddled some story about how these previously deeply honoraboru ninja clans decided to defect to the State Empire because of evil/greed/whatever. It’s a kludge, but it’s understandable.

Ninjas are not actually that great at anything but close combat! They’re bad shots, and not as good at dodging as you might expect. Your baseline ninja comes with a tactical bow, Martial Arts level 3, TO camo, Infiltration to get up the board, and a bonus to reactive dodge movement. There’s a skill that makes people better at dodging, period, which you’d think ninjas would get - nope. They’re only PH 13. Still, they’re cheap and they can merc things real good, if you get the opportunity.

Upgraded ninjas are called oniwaban. Oniwaban are equally fragile as ninjas, but they’re vastly more leathal in close combat, due to stats and the addition of a monofilament CC weapon; if you remember, Monofilament hits have a 60% chance to kill whatever they hit outright, and to hell with your armor and remaining hit points. Because every army’s gotta have a weird LT option, you could take an oniwaban lieutenant. But if they start in hidden deployment, your army begins in Loss of LT, and Chain of Command from your Kempeitai no longer works because you did it to yourself. You’d pay an extra SWC for the privilege, too.

Oniwaban (“gardeners”) are steadfastly loyal to the Emperor and Japan; if any of them attempted to stay with the State Empire, they didn’t live to tell anyone about it. Elite among the ninja, oniwaban are unconfirmed rumors to everyone outside the Imperial apparatus and the clans themselves.

Saito Togan is a mercenary and the hero ninja. Unlike his counterparts, he gets smoke grenades. He can be a generic specialist, if you like. Otherwise, not a big step up. Saito used to be a big deal in one of the bigger ninja clans, until a high-profile operation he was directly involved in went bust. Rather than kill himself in contrition, he fled, but his successor turned up dead a few months later with evidence implicating the deceased in the operation’s failure on his corpse. Saito is someone entirely different than that disgraced ninja, Because We Are Being Subtle.

Shinobu Kitsune is, blessedly, a classification and not a weeb’s idea of a cool name. The hero Oniwaban, Shinobu gets smoke, and is basically the scariest thing in the game when it comes to close combat. You pay a premium for her, but she’s an inherent and unspoken threat in every JSA list. Interestingly, the model is very clearly presented as female, but the fluff only uses male pronouns. I’m gonna guess that’s a translation fuckup, rather than any attempt at either making the character anonymous and mysterious, or something vaguely progressive, though.

As is tradition, we close out this part of the writeup with the local Recreation. Miyamoto Musashi (1584-ish to 1645) was the famous wandering dueslist, painter and author, and beat that guy using an oar that one time.

Miamoto Mushashi is an ALEPH recreation, built at the behest of the VissioRama Network, who wanted a brand new star for their Aristeia programming. The slight lisp in his name is apparently to avoid legal issues, and I have no fucking answer for that one at all; presumably Gutier forgot how to spell the man’s name. An immediate success on the future bloodsport market due to his skill, they programmed Musashi like a hockey player, and he’s nearly devoid of personality; ratings plunged after the initial spike of interest.

Eventually VissioRama went back to ALEPH and asked the AI to wipe and replace Mushashi’s personality with something flashier and actually interesting this time, but the network’s communications were tapped by the swordsman’s fans, who warned the duelist in time for him to make good his escape.

Mushashi has outstanding warrants for murder, unlicensed dueling, and breach of contract with the network. He travels the Human Sphere, wandering from battle to battle in search of a greater meaning to the strange life he finds thrust upon him.

Mushashi’s real good at close combat, and not much good at anything else. Somebody at CB loooves this guy, because he’s got as many models as Joan, and he’s a major character in the Aristeia board game. All this in spite of “not having a personality” being a core character trait.

Also, they were stupid enough to make this thing.

No TIMG on that, suckers.

That concludes the faction writeup for the time being. I think I like the fluff even less, now that I’ve had to sit here and process all of it. There are gems here and there, but god, this game needs an editor and a better localizer. Christ, it needs an adult in the room.

This isn’t necessarily the end of the writeup as a whole, however. There’s a new supplement due out at the end of the month, but god knows how long it’ll take to actually ship. In the interim, I thought I’d do a battle report, along with showing off my list building process. Here’s your chance for some audience participation.

Your choices of showcase armies are

I’m afraid I don’t have access to a full Haqq or Yu Jing list. CA and ALEPH are limited to the one sectorial each. Everything else can be vanilla lists or sectorials as listed. Pick your top two.

Mission Brief

posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Mission Brief

The Infinity Tournament System is basically what it sounds like. CB publishes a set of missions each season, which is typically a calendar year ending in the company’s big tournament in their hometown. The missions are designed around a set of known objectives, though sometimes you’re meant to keep which objective you’re pursuing from your opponent.

As of the current season, the tenth, the mission selection is oriented towards high order count lists. Some of the objectives as written are basically “spend an order, make a die roll, then do it again when you fail.” They’re not very interesting. As such, I’m going to use the mission list from the current edition core book, without the seasonal fluff and frills. We’ll be going through a Direct Action mission, “The Armory.”

ITS missions come in Direct Action, Special Operations, and Joint Operations categories. In general, DA missions involve killing enemy models and controlling territory, Special Operations tasks are oriented more towards discreet actions based around either mobile or stationary objectives, and Joint Operations takes from both.

The Armory is a favorite of mine. Here’s the basic board setup.

Infinity boards use a hell of a lot of terrain, so this is just a thumbnail showing your deployment zones and the position of the armory building itself, in the center of the map. The armory is an 8” x 8” square, considered to be infinitely tall for the purposes of drawing line of sight. There are four person-sized gates on the center of each wall, which can be attacked to blow them open, or you can unlock the doors with a specialist passing a WIP roll.

The little circles in the corner are panoplies, loot boxes that each trooper can use once to draw out a random piece of equipment. Troops that already have the Booty or Scavenger skills get to automatically pass their check to do so, and can pick which chart they want to roll on for their item. You can also use the panoplies to top up any limited ammo your model may have as a simple order expenditure.

The green zone around the armory is an exclusion zone, stretching eight inches on either side of the center of the board. You can’t deploy anyone there, regardless of their special deployment rules - no ninjas waiting to pop out, no parachute infantry dropping in there. The only exception is if someone scatters into the zone.

ITS missions score on a ten-point system; each objective will be weighted based on the individual mission. The scoring looks like this for The Armory:

One of the reasons I love this mission is that it’s simple and easy to understand, while being spiralingly complex once the game starts. Right off, the big draw is obvious - you want to be the last one holding the armory at the end of the game. But how do you go about that task? Is it better to take the initiative and barricade yourself in the room with mines and reactive pieces? Should you go second in the game, hoping you still have enough firepower to retake the armory at the last second for the big points? Meanwhile, should you cram as many of your guys inside as you can, or spread them out to prevent your opponent from even entering the building? All of this, meanwhile, is going on while you and your opponent maneuver to a relatively small, fixed point on the map.

Since there was a single vote for two factions that deviate from the game’s norms in similar ways, I put my faith in The armies for this mission will be vanilla Ariadna, and ALEPH Operations.


GROUP 1 10
SCOUT Lieutenant Ojotnik, D-Charges, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 29)
CHASSEUR (Forward Observer) Rifle, Light Flamethrower, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 20)
CHASSEUR (Minelayer) Rifle, Light Flamethrower, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 20)
FOXTROT (Forward Observer) Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 18)
FOXTROT Boarding Shotgun, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 19)
GRUNT (Inferior Infiltration) Heavy Flamethrower, Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 11)
GRUNT (Inferior Infiltration) Heavy Flamethrower, Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 11)
UXÍA McNEILL (Covert Action) (CH: Limited Camouflage, Superior Infiltration, Specialist Operative) Boarding Shotgun, D-Charges, Smoke Grenades / 2 Assault Pistols, AP CCW, Knife. (0 | 27)
VOLUNTEER Chain Rifle, Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 6)
VOLUNTEER Chain Rifle, Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 6)

GROUP 2 3 4 4
EQUIPE MIRAGE-5 . (2 | 69)
MARGOT AP Rifle + Light Grenade Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (37)
DUROC 2 Chain Rifles, Grenades, Smoke Grenades / AP CC Weapon. (32)
IRMANDINHO Chain Rifle, D-Charges, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, AP CCW. (0 | 8)
IRMANDINHO Chain Rifle, D-Charges, Smoke Grenades / Pistol, AP CCW. (0 | 8)
112 Light Shotgun / Pistol, CCW. (0 | 12)
LINE KAZAK AP HMG / Pistol, Knife. (1 | 23)
DESPERADO Chain Rifle, Smoke Grenades / 2 Assault Pistols, CC Weapon. (0 | 13)

4.5 SWC | 300 Points

Open in Infinity Army

The Infinity list builder is free at It’s pretty handy.

The first thing I did in this case was to pick a Lieutenant, here a Scout with a hunting rifle. I don’t expect the generally lower WIP values of Ariadna to beat ALEPH at the LT roll, so I’m not going to invest a lot of points in my LT. The Scout can hang back, in camo, so he’s not hugely vulnerable and he can be an ARO piece if I need him to do something. Mostly though, he’s cheap and decent at what he does.

There are a few chain of command profiles available in vanilla Ariadna, but they’re a lot better at fighting than my LT, so they cost a lot. I elected to skip Chain of Command here.

My plan is to immediately swamp the armory in specialists and gunfighters, to break in and then fill it up with armed lunatics to keep the robot ubermenchen out. Ariadna’s key strength, camo spam, is going to help me out here. I won’t be able to deploy any of my infiltrators directly in the exclusion zone, but I can put them right up to the edge on my side without a roll, and take a gamble on them being able to set up on the ALEPH side of the board to slow the enemy advance. Case in point, the FO Chasseur’s going to stay on my side, while I’m going to risk blowing my infiltration roll to put the minelayer on the other side of the centerline to harry any ALEPH advance. Same with the infiltrating Grunts, who will probably just blow their roll and turn into order batteries.

Uxia will be across the board 85% of the time, and her job will be to kill anything really scary with a surprise attack. I added her later in my list building, since I had some points to spare and needed some firepower to go along with my camo spam.

The two volunteers are just there to watch the back field and generate orders. At six points a pop, I’d be crazy not to take ‘em.

Group two starts with Margot and Duroc. I’m going to keep them in reserve until at least turn two, and walk them in off the ALEPH back line to kill anything insufficiently guarded. I know the ALEPH units are going to be bigger and nastier than my guys in the armory, so I want to starve their rambo units of orders. Also, Margot and Duroc are cool.

Imandinos are cheap and fast, so once I’ve opened the armory, I’m going to send these guys up to loot the panoplies. Hopefully they’ll get something defensive and not a motorcycle.

I don’t expect to get much use out of the 112 doctor, but he’s not terrible and it’s nice to have a potential way to pick people back up if I need it.

The Kazak with AP HMG is an ARO piece primarily, and will fill the same roll as Uxia, but back on my side of the board. He’ll probably get sniped to death.

The Desperado will dispense smoke and probably suicide charge something that stumbles into his range. We’ll see if he can even maneuver in the board setup.

Operations Subsection of the S.S.S.

ASURA Lieutenant L2 Hacker (Hacking Device Plus UPGRADE: Redrum) MULTI Rifle, Nanopulser / Pistol, AP CCW. (0.5 | 78)
SOPHOTECT Combi Rifle, D-Charges / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 31)
YUDBOT Electric Pulse. (0 | 3)
YUDBOT Electric Pulse. (0 | 3)
SHUKRA (Chain of Command) Boarding Shotgun, Nanopulser / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 25)
NAGA (Minelayer) Boarding Shotgun, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 27)
PROXY Mk.3 Spitfire, Nanopulser / Pistol, Knife. (2 | 21)
PROXY Mk.5 (Marksmanship LX) Mk12, Nanopulser / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 17)
NETROD . (0 | 4)
NETROD . (0 | 4)
DEVA (Fireteam: Haris, Sensor) Combi Rifle, Nanopulser / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 25)
DEVA (Multispectral Visor L2) Spitfire, Nanopulser / Pistol, Knife. (1 | 33)
DEVA (Sensor) Combi Rifle, Nanopulser / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 24)

5 SWC | 295 Points

Open in Infinity Army

Immediately, I pick an Asura with Lieutenant level 2. I want something beastly strong that comes with MSV3 to see the inevitable Ariadna camo spam, and LT 2 provides a lot of extra orders to go break down doors and accomplish objectives. I had to deliberate between the light machine gun and hacker options - on one hand, the LMG is actually not optimal for fighting in an eight-inch square room, but on the other, a hacking device is useless against Ariadna. I ultimately took the hacker, since she was cheaper in terms of Special Weapon Cost.

Next, the Sophotect with two Yudbot helpers. One of those is going to be glued to the Asura, because I really, really don’t want her dying.

If, however, the Asura dies, I don’t want to be in Loss of Lieutenant. The Shukra should keep that from happening, and he’s going to stay in the rear with his back to a wall.

A momentary panic hits me as I’m almost at half my total army points for taking a whopping three units. Still, that’s how ALEPH does.

A Naga minelayer will forward deploy across the board and hopefully kick some primitive teeth in with its mines.

Next, some proxies to build out my capabilities and bring down my costs. The Mk 3 is fast and can kill stuff, plus she can run interference for the LT as a more disposable piece. The Mk 1 engineer can either open or blow down the doors, and the Mk 2 sniper will try and infiltrate across the board to set up in hidden deployment (I know, hold on). No idea if that’ll work. Netrods are just a good idea, and doubly so when you’re running proxies - I take as many as I can, which sadly is a mere two.

Then I delete the Mk 2 sniper when I realize it’s not really a huge part of my plan, especially when I can take a trio of Devas with an LMG and Sensor to really root out hidden and camo’d units. These should be very efficient, while still being hard to kill.

At this point, I have a problem, because I’m at 10 units, which is one combat group. Anything I add won’t pull from the same order pool, which will wildly limit its effectiveness. I’m also pretty much limited to taking another proxy, since they all count as one “unit.” Lacking any better combination of available points, I elect to take a Mk 5 proxy. It can go hurt stuff, or take up a suppressive fire position inside the armory.

Let’s see the armies, so you can compare numbers, and also know what the hell I’m pointing the camera at.

That’s what a high-model-count, full-points-cost army looks like in this game. Skirmish-scale is real good, yo.

Proxies include a Spetznaz HMG in leiu of the Kazak HMG, two Metros for the two Volunteers, and two engineer-esque models for the Irmandinhos.

I haven’t had my ALEPH for anywhere near as long as my Ariadna models. Could you tell?

Model-proxies, not unit-Proxies, are Joan 2.0 v2 for the Asura, and a Bagh Mari for the Proxy Mk 5. Proxy.

Let’s go ahead and do deployment, since that’s what happens before the fun starts.

Here’s the board.

Image altered to disguise the sickening amount of hobby crap occupying my kitchen table and to protect the identities of my nosy fucking pets.

This is a little sparse as far as Infinity tables go, honestly. I need to build some more terrain. You want a lot of cover on both sides of the board. When setting up you want to make sure there’s not a single line of fire that covers the entire table (another reason this mission is great, since there’s that great big LOS blocker smack dab in the middle), as well as having a measurable advantage to the terrain on one side; that way, deployment is an interesting choice. Here, the right-hand side has thicker terrain, better lines of sight, and that huge stupid sniper tower.

The two armies pick their classified objectives. Ariadna chooses between Telemetry and HVT: Innoculation. That’s to either make a successful Forward Observer test on an enemy, or make a doctor roll on the enemy High Value Target. Telemetry is vastly easier, so that’s the natural choice. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to their primitive opponents, ALEPH picks between HVT: Retroengineering, the engineering equivalent of Innoculation, or Data Scan, where a hacker must make a WIP -3 roll against an enemy target in their hacking area. Good thing I picked that crazy combat hacker; ALEPH takes Data Scan. Both sides can, failing these classified objectives, attempt to secure the enemy HVT. This task is accomplished by being within eight inches of the enemy HVT at the end of the game, while keeping the other player from doing the same to your HVT.

The two armies make their LT roll, with ALEPH trying to beat a 15 and Ariadna against WIP 13. Ariadna rolls a 9, a success, but ALEPH rolls a 15 on the dot, winning the roll. After some deliberation, ALEPH elects to take deployment over turn order, picking the right-hand side and forcing Ariadna to deploy first. Ariadna decides to take first turn, which may prove to be a mistake. HVTs are placed where they’re hard to get to (ALEPH) or out away from cover (Ariadna).

Ariadna holds the AP HMG in reserve, reasoning that it’s best to deploy the big gun somewhere when you know where the big nasty things are going to go. ALEPH keeps the proxies in reserve, since they’re heavy hitters and you can deploy two models for the price of one.

Infiltration doesn’t go so well for Ariadna. The Scout LT elects to deploy on his table half, along with the FO Chasseur and FO Foxtrot. The infiltration experts blow it totally, so the minelayer Chasseur and shotgun Foxtrot have to deploy in their own smaller deployment area along a table edge. So much for slowing down the ALEPH advance.

Of course, the Inferior infiltrating grunts, who deploy at a 45% chance, both pass their rolls with flying colors. One hides behind a wall near the ALEPH deployment zone, and the other elects to take a spot in the sniper tower, hoping to deny that area to the enemy through the expedient of setting anyone who pokes their head up there on fire.

Margot and Duroc stay off the board for now. Volunteers go into heavy cover, and the button-pushers line up so that they can get to the armory door in good time and hopefully not get shot to death too much on the way there. The Desperado goes where I can keep him in relative cover, since he’s a little suicidal, but also where he has enough room to pass his enormous base through obstacles.

ALEPH has its own deployment shenanigans. The Netrods have to come down on a template, like so. The little buildings are just a hair too small to fit the template, so there’s no good.

This one made it safely, no problems.

Not so much this one. It blows its landing roll, so it has to scatter based on the template. I rolled a 20, which immediately puts it off the board. Like when you fail your Infiltrate roll, you have to set your failed deployer somewhere in your deployment zone touching a table edge. Perversely, there’s an even more out-of-the-way location to stick this thing along a table edge, so dropping wrong was to ALEPH’s net advantage.

Knowing that Grunt is up on the sniper tower, ALEPH decides to counter deploy, like so.

I ran out of camo tokens, so mines are deployed upside down to represent they come out as camo markers. Just roll with it.

Minelayers can set out a mine on deployment without revealing themselves. Flamethrowers can still burn you if you’re in a camo state. Mines go off as a reactive action, though. In short, the first one to twitch up here is going to have a bad day.

When all’s said and done, here’s what the board looks like.

Ultimately, ALEPH is in a stronger immediate position with tougher units. Ariadna will have to get into the Armory quickly and hope they can rely on pulling guns out of the panoplies to stay there. ALEPH will want to jump forward rapidly, and hope they don’t take too many losses to a bad crit or a dumb positioning mistake. Let’s see how it goes.

Arianda vs. Vedic Turn 1

posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Arianda vs. Vedic Turn 1

With our armies deployed, we’re already in a position for dumb things to start happening.

Sometimes it’s good to get a look at some physical items, since humans tend to be bad at scale. On the left, you can see all the orders and camo’d units from ALEPH. On the right, way more of both for Ariadna. The space-westerners have nearly as many units off the board as ALEPH has in total. That’d be an intimidating sideboard at a tournament.

First, ALEPH spends one command token to remove two orders from the Ariadna Group 1 pool. These will regenerate normally at the start of Ariadna’s next turn. As is, Group 1’s operating off 1 LT order and 8 regulars.

Ariadna begins its turn with Impetuous orders, as is required. One regular order out of Group 2 is spent to countermand Duroc’s impetuous order, so that he doesn’t immediately leap into combat and get shot down. Next come the Irmandinhos, who seek their nearest targets. One is completely out of line of sight of the enemy and does a double move, while the other runs toward the waiting guns of the Mk 5 Proxy. The proxy whiffs its shot entirely, while the Irmandinho pops a smoke grenade.

This is basically all the Mk 5 can see, and therefore affect. Sucks for ALEPH.

The Desperado moves up on the other side of the board, but blows his own attempt to throw a preparatory smoke grenade.

The Irmandinhos get to the Armory door and, in the first expenditure of a regular order on the table, pop the locks. Not too bad for order economy. The FO Foxtrot and Chasseurs are the first ones into the armory, and they take their positions against the far wall, ready to ambush any ALEPH units that come in.

The Foxtrot reveals itself so it can dip into the panoply, coming up with +1 ARM. Not great, not terrible. It’s potential points at the end of the game, however, and that’s what counts.

Meanwhile, the Scout LT belly-crawls up along its walkway, so he can pop up in the former exclusion zone. A prone camo marker is a pretty good sign that something is either very valuable and squishy, or that someone’s playing head games with you. Either way, there’s not much ALEPH can do to it right now.

After that, I decide to rip the bandaid off and end the showdown on the sniper tower.

Which has got to be a really interesting sight from the ground. Just an explosion and a huge tongue of flame lashing off the top of this building, seemingly unprovoked. The Naga’s under the big flame template, by the by.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Grunt passes his blind fire check, so the Naga tries to dodge and fails. It burns, falling unconscious but not dying outright. Meanwhile, the Grunt just has to eat the mine exploding in his face - and does. He’s rattled and fails his Guts roll, but he’s got nowhere to retreat, and he’s already prone, so he just sits there for a moment contemplating his brush with death. After a quick breather, the Grunt starts climbing down the tower in the hopes of setting some more robots on fire.

Similarly dramatic events unfold on the other side of the board, as Uxia bolts from her position under the ruined Gundam TAG, charging at the Asura with both assault pistols blazing. If there were ever a time to try and put down the scariest piece on ALEPH’s roster, it’s now, when its support pieces are tied up or blinded.

For a baseline human, Uxia does pretty well, by virtue of shooting enough bullets at something. She’s at a good range, but the Asura is in cover, so that nullifies the range bonus to her attack. The Asura would ordinarily be at -6 to shoot back due to Uxia popping out of the camo state, but the robot’s got MSV3 and gets to ignore that penalty - another reason I went ahead and berzerked the SAS operative up there now, instead of letting her get shot to pieces. Finally, the Asura’s in a neutral range band, neither good nor bad, so she’s just rolling under a 15.

Odds are on regular roll, the Asura wins. She actually ties one of Uxia’s shots, negating it, but the Ariadnan is rolling five dice. More dice very nearly always means better than, so do that thing. As a result, she gets three net hits. The Asura’s in cover, so she’s rolling an effective ARM 8 (higher than many TAGs) versus Damage 13 (about a standard rifle shot). 13 - 8 = 5, so to block the damage, the Asura needs to roll 6s or better on a D20. Astoundingly, she biffs two of her armor rolls, and is knocked into the No Wound Incapacitation state.

With the ALEPH combat monster tantalizingly close to dead, Uxia pushes up into melee with the Asura, where she actually has a statistical edge - she’ll roll better dice, she gets a bonus to hit and damage, and between her AP knife and jumping past cover, she’ll negate a lot of the Asura’s advantages.

First melee order results in a tie, while the second sees Uxia crit by the Asura, so she goes straight to unconscious. To add insult to injury, that’s the end of Ariadna’s first turn, and the first two orders of ALEPH’s turn see a helper bot ambling up to the wounded Asura and healing her back to full. So much for that alpha strike.

With the Asura all patched up, the AI isn’t about to run it into a mine. So the Mk 5 proxy does that instead. Though it has to dodge at a -3 penalty, the Mk 5 easily manages to set off the mine without coming to harm itself, which is apparently a theme this game. With its accomplishments as a posthuman minesweeper set, the Mk 5 blasts away at the flamethrower Grunt at the other end of that building, neatly waxing the ambusher. With the poor placement of Ariadna’s ARO pieces, ALEPH has an easy time moving up the board.

Mostly. The Deva fireteam comes to a bit of an impasse as they easily avoid the remaining flamethrower Grunt. There’s that Desperado lurking on the other side of the wall, with a chain rifle that could get all three of them if they moved directly to the other side of the doorway. Fortunately, a solution presents itself.

The Mk 3 proxy is fast enough to move around cover and get juuuust enough of a bead on the Desperado, while slinging four dice at good range to the Desperado’s one (terrible) shot at bad range. Moreover, cyclists dodge at a penalty, on account of it’s hard to tuck and roll while you’re on a moving vehicle. The best option the Desperado has, facing four hits, is to drop another smoke grenade. Remember everything I said about forcing your opponent to make a choice between two bad options?

The Desperado successfully beats out the Mk 3 on his smoke roll, but leaves himself vulnerable to a shot from the Devas as they advance behind his cloud - they can either see through it and shoot him, or they can blindfire a template weapon and tag him anyway. The Desperado fails his dodge, tanks the hit, and retreats in a panic.

With motorbike McCree banished behind a puff of smoke, the Mk 3 advances to clear the way for the Asura. The minelayer Chasseur, the one who failed her Infiltration roll and has been sloooowly working her way up the board, takes a shot at the proxy as it passes. This time, her surprise shot mod from dropping camo does come into play, but but the Mk 3 wings her anyway. The Chasseur passes her ARM and WIP checks, and remains alive and in place.

By this point, ALEPH is running very short of regular orders. Fortunately, the Asura comes with two free ones. She spends her first LT order, announcing the obvious to the world, as well as moving up the board toward the armory. The Chasseur is the only one with an eye on the Asura and takes another ARO shot, but the Asura ignores camo mods entirely, and with two hits, casually drops the French infiltrator straight to dead as the machine ambles on up to the objective.

Peeking around the corner, the Asura can just see one of the Irmandinhos, who fires her chainrifle at the synthetic. The Asura ignores the storm of shrapnel hitting her in the face and kills the Irmandinho.

Rather than play the odds again, the Mk 3 spends the last ALEPH order for this turn to run up for more room clearance, dropping two shots each into the Chasseur and the Foxtrot inside the armory. In spite of extra armor from the panoply, his camo and his cover, the Foxtrot is taken down by the proxy; the Chasseur, however, is remarkably untouched, which is good, because torching the proxy with a flamethrower is an unopposed attack. The proxy fails all of its ARM rolls and goes unconscious.

At the end of round 1, Ariadna has successfully occupied the armory with more points than ALEPH for one turn, and wins one objective point.

Arianda vs. Vedic Turn 2

posted by grassy gnoll Original SA post

Arianda vs. Vedic Turn 2

At the beginning of Ariadna’s second round, it’s time once again for impetuous orders. The Desperado drives back up, looking to save face, and chain rifles the Deva link team, this time without the hindrance of smoke. The cowboy manages to wound one of the Devas, but gets shot in the neck for his trouble.

The surviving Irmandinho bravely/stupidly charges the Asura, firing his own chain rifle over the Mk 3’s unconscious body. This isn’t necessarily to Ariadna’s benefit, since the Chasseur can score the classified point by observing the Mk 3’s corpse. The Asura fires back in reply, rather than dodge, but all three units pass their armor rolls and keep on fighting/bleeding to death.

The party officially starts as Margot and Duroc walk on to the ALEPH deployment zone. This is also a major fuckup, as I forgot which level of Airborne Deployment they actually had - they shouldn’t be able to use the enemy DZ to walk in, just the strip between that and the exclusion zone. Infinity is a complex game, and sometimes it’s too complex for its own good. Still, I made it this far without falling completely on my face, so that’s something. Anyway, the results ended up being the same as if they’d deployed in their proper place, to the side of the table behind the Mk 5.

Which is to say that Margot shoots the Mk 5 in the back and Duroc starts jumping across scenery. Keep in mind, these two are not a fireteam - they’re two independent units with their own orders. They’re more flexible, but they burn more fuel as a result.

I remember that I have Command Tokens left to spend, so I use one to coordinate an order - Margot, Duroc, the Scout and the remaining Foxtrot all move up to get into attack ranges. The Devas have line of sight on the Scout, up there on the corner perch, and the Foxtrot as she moves across to the armory; they ARO by attempting to discover the two camo markers and pass, but can’t shoot just yet.

That’s unfortunate for ALEPH, as the Scout spends his LT order, revealing his status and putting a couple of hunting rifle shots into the MSV2 Deva, who’s armed with the same LMG the Mk 3 and the Asura have been putting to great use. With that hit and another from a second order, the Scout manages to take out the main hitting unit from the Deva fireteam, breaking their link and robbing them of a lot of firepower.

With the primary Deva threat taken out, Duroc is free to do his thing. He super-jumps to a position behind the Asura; he tries and fails to drop a smoke grenade between him and the remaining Devas, so he’s wounded going in. However, Stealth is one of the skills nested in Martial Arts, which Duroc has, so a few hundred pounds of werewolf hitting the ground behind the Asura go unnoticed until he sticks a giant knife in her back. The Asura is wounded, but gets to react and turn around as a result. Duroc’s second attack doesn’t fair as well, and he’s crit down by the ALEPH tank.

Infinity lends itself really well to impromptu cinematic moments, and doubly so around important pieces of scenery or units. I can imagine the cheesy 80s action movie strings swelling as Margot blasts away at the Asura that killed her partner, dumping shot after shot into the villain that just won’t quite die. Eventually she does manage to take it back down, after two orders and five hits. Keep in mind, this is after the Asura was already wounded by Duroc; they’re really tough.

With the final Ariadnan order for this round spend, neither side is any closer to victory, but ALEPH is a mere 44 points away from Retreat. That’s maybe two models from what’s left on the table.

ALEPH’s turn begins with the newly-minted Shukra lieutenant spending his LT order to move-move up the field; with the Asura and the Mk 3 down, it’s going to be hard to cram a lot of points into the armory before the end of game. The Sophotect and one of her helper bots move up as well, though the Yudbot’s path takes it into line of sight of the Irmandinho lurking in the armory and the Foxtrot just outside.

It’s kinda neat to get a model’s-eye view from time to time. Unfortunately for the sake of cinema, the Irmandinho completely whiffs with his pistol shot. The Foxtrot discreetly places a mine, then whistles innocently to herself.

Sophie and her nursebot get into reach of the Devas and work some repairs. ALEPH spends another command token to reform the fireteam, which broke when the team leader was KO’d.

The LMG Deva, who can see through the Foxtrot’s camo with MSV, steps out around cover and dumps five dice worth of bullets into the Ariadnan. She neatly dodges, while the Deva eats a mine for his troubles.

Note that this looks worse than it is, though it’s still bad. You have to be able to draw at least partial LoS to that black dot at the template’s origin to affect a target under said template; while this technically gets two Devas and the Yudbot in the blast, only the LMGer and the helperbot are hit. The Yudbot goes out, and the Deva is killed outright.

Since ALEPH has a desperately short amount of time to get to the objective, it’s time for another coordinated order. The Sophotect, Shukra and the remaining Deva pair all move and shoot. The Shukra can’t actually see anyone, so that just fizzles. Sophie takes on the Foxtrot performs predictably. She manages to hit, but the Foxtrot dodges back into the armory, making ALEPH’s job just a little bit harder.

Next order, the Deva gets paid back for all that bad luck earlier, tagging Margot with two regular hits and one crit. Margot can really only hope to dodge, and fails on a 20, as hard as possible. She goes straight to dead, which sorta spoiled the moment from earlier.

Right now, there are three Ariadnans in the armory, and the entirety of ALEPH’s mobile units clustered up behind a wall. In a mission with more options for AD, that’d be a pretty terrible position. As is, ALEPH can be reasonably confident that a Tomcat won’t show up and flamethrower what’s left of their army.

ALEPH runs up again, and this time Sophie manages to knock out that Foxtrot. Another nasty decision, as the Foxtrot has to decide between keeping potential points alive in the scoring zone, or dropping a mine to make ALEPH’s life harder. On the balance, the mine was probably the smarter choice, and that explains why I didn’t make it.

Here’s the situation. Ariadna has 28 points inside the armory, and no real chance at AROs from its support troops. It’s going to come down to this part of the board. ALEPH, meanwhile, has 80 points poised to bust through the doors, albeit into the teeth of prepared defenders. To say things are tense at the moment is a bit of an understatement.

The rifle Deva to the south of the above image peeks around the door just far enough to see the Irmandinho. The rifle-droid takes out the scavenger with two shots, then swings into the room in one continuous move. The Chasseur fires his flamethrower. More rifle rounds burst from the flames, hitting the skirmisher three times. When the fire cuts off, the Deva is totally unscathed.

After that moment of action movie badassery, the Deva saunters over to the panoply and picks up a glue gun. End of turn!

Also, end of the game. Arianda’s turn three starts with the army in retreat after their losses in the armory; everyone left alive fends for themselves, and they don’t have enough orders left to get over there, let alone to push the ALEPH troops out. One Volunteer is still on the table edge and slips off into the night, which might help in a proper tournament to determine victory points. Not so relevant here.

ALEPH remains in the armory for turn three, accruing another point on top of the one they got for holding the building at the end of turn two. The game officially ends.

Neither side accomplished their classified objective, despite being in good positions to do so; the Chasseur could have observed the Mk 3 without an opposed roll, and likewise the Asura could have hackerman-ed at Uxia in the same conditions. Those orders were just that necessary to accomplish the big part of the mission. A better, more efficient player probably could have pulled it off, and by such details are tournaments won.

As is, Arianda held the armory for a turn. ALEPH held it for two turns, and at the end of the game. Neither side pulled more items from the panoplies, with one each. Final score is 6-1 to ALEPH. While Ariadna took the lead and gained the momentum early on, they just couldn’t stand up to the AI’s posthuman nightmares.

If I had it to do over again, I’d reposition the Ariadna ARO pieces under the assumption those forward skirmishers are going to screw up and crash their Infiltration rolls. Having a bigger, badder version of Margot’s gun keeping ALEPH’s movement options locked down would really make a difference. Also, pay attention to the AD levels, dummy. ALEPH played well and were carried by their excellent units, which is about how I expect things to go on that side.

I feel like this game was a pretty good example of what you get with Infinity. There were a lot of tense moments, places where efficiency and skill make or break a game, some dice shenanigans, and a whole lot of cool setpiece fights. There was a lot more murder going on than your typical game, owing to the nature of the mission, but it makes for a more interesting demo instead of hunting a dude cowering behind a dumpster with a supply box.

(Supplies is actually a really fun mission where you’re fighting over three mobile objectives, so it gets frantic fast, but duking it out over supply crates is way less cinematic than this mission.)

That about wraps it up for Infinity in the immediate future. If there’s interesting content in the new book, I’ll write that up once it arrives. In the course of this writeup, I’ve definitely cooled on the fluff for this game, but damn if it’s not a fun time. I strongly suggest you check it out. You can also drop by the Infinity thread for more info and game chat; Genghis Cohen does some particularly good writeups of his tournament games, and the rest of us mostly shitpost.