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grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.
Seriously though, someone run a Weird WWII game.


grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Well, Magneto is more a victim of duelling writers than anything else, so expecting him to remain consistent when he's constantly being de-aged, re-aged, cloned, driven mad, impersonated, mind controlled, or just plain hopped up on sentient drugs is a bit much. A character with over forty years of comics with wildly varying quality is a slightly different situation.

God help us if Soto and Claremont ever teamed up.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Night10194 posted:

It'd also let me demonstrate that the creation system supports a ton of variety. So, give me a few swashbuckling or scheming or heroic early modern/renaissance ideas and I'll show how they can be made with IC2e.

The most obvious possible answers are Constable Judy and Nick the charlatan.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Count Chocula posted:

So you can use it to run Redwall? How are the feasting rules?

Insufficiently racist.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Midjack posted:

Why be redundant? :v:

Looks like someone doesn't know about Gerald Ford.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.
I'm desperate to know more about Myriad Song, personally.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.
If you've got a better place to keep your crotch scrolls, I'd like to hear it.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

open_sketchbook posted:

One of the things I'm doing with Enduring Freedom is adding a non-combat elements to it, in that there's the idea that between some missions you actually rotate home for a bit, and you actually resolve between sessions how you're doing back home, how your relationships cope, and so forth. Money is an element, in abstracted form, which you can use to smooth things over, pay off trauma, and try to build a life for yourself.

Oooor you can blow it on new gear from private companies instead of spending XP. You just have to roll a d6 for each piece, because there's a chance you just bought some tactical-brand bullshit that doesn't work, broke, or never actually shipped to you.

Please tell me Jody is going to be an equivalent threat to the PCs as an ambush.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Thumbs down.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Daeren posted:

DON'T loving DO THIS.

I hate that this and the indexing garbage are not what I'm going to loathe most about this book.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

ScolopaxMinor posted:


It's what separates us from the animals!

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

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 loving 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 gently caress 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 drat 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.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Night10194 posted:

Does Infinity have an RPG? It always seemed like a setting that felt like it wanted one.


As of January, you could buy your own copy of the Modiphus-published licensed Infinity RPG.

The kickstarter for it launched September 16th of 2015, with a projected completion date of December of that year.

Modiphus has been able to churn out kickstarters before, because they've got a basic engine they slap stuff onto, they fill out some background and change some details, and bam, completed project. It actually works pretty well for Infinity, because their 2d20 system isn't that far off the normal Infinity rules.

Gutier "Interruptor" Rodriguez, CEO of Corvus Belli, is also the loremaster. If that sentence didn't fill you with dread, this will: Infinity is a published version of his campaign, and many named characters in the setting are NPCs or PCs from his tabletop campaign from back when.

Imagine your typical GM obsessed with worldbuilding. He's got binders full of crap you don't care about, and he'll sure as hell correct you if you misspeak at the table.

Now give him production control over a licensed product from his IP.

The Kickstarter still isn't finished.

Joe Slowboat posted:

The Combined Army are just the Combine from Half-Life with the serial number partially filed off, right?

Eh, in as much as any alien hegemony is. The EI's deal is that it wants your subservience and your processor cycles. The Tohaa are the ones with nefarious plans for the future of humanity, horrible mutating biomechanical equipment, and a story that will never come to a satisfying conclusion.

Trust me, Infinity is not shy about letting you know when it's ripping something off.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.


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, gently caress 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 loving 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.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Cythereal posted:

Because this was a thing in the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons that someone on the writing staff liked.

See, I thought that was it at first, but they never go anywhere near the body horror side of anything, and it's only applicable for PanO citizens. Everybody else just gives you free respawns or makes you earn it through the regular bureaucracy.

I think it's just they really, really wanted a space pope.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

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 rear end in a top hat 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 poo poo. 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 poo poo. 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.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Night10194 posted:

Huh. I'd always gotten the impression the Recreations were nationalist prestige projects and pop culture icons (that also happen to be murderous supersoldiers). I didn't know Aleph made them for silly reasons.

Literal pop culture fanfic 'historical' supersoldiers are hilarious and the exact kind of ridiculousness people would build if we could, though. Armies led by the imagined superbeings dreamed up by a thousand frenzied Paradox game forum posters? That's the good kind of stupid.

Mostly it was a chance to bag on ALEPH.

It's sort of both? PanO is the faction most closely linked into ALEPH. They whip up Joan, ALEPH does a lot of the heavy lifting. Yu Jing sees this and gets pissed they don't have their own pop star death monger, they go to ALEPH and say "Hey, give us one of them, but make it even better at warfare." ALEPH goes "Sure, have this off-brand Sun Tzu, who is absolutely not spying on you or giving you reasons to suspect me. I promise I'm making these guys to learn more about humanity and spread good will to all men."

ALEPH gets what it wants, the factions get what they think they want, and everyone's happy and dumb.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

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. :spain:

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 drat. 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 loving 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.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.
That was a great writeup of a terrible thing.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

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 rear end in a top hat:

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 :spain:. 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 rear end 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 drat 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.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Mors Rattus posted:

It pisses me off because Imperial China is my jam historically and argh just make it Imperial China, it will make more sense.

I'm not sure I understand. How would that get us to police state death squads?

Night10194 posted:

I mean, he's what the crazy magic computer and hyper-china decided Sun Tzu is, not the actual guy who wrote the book. Now with implanted supercomputer and the ability to throw someone through a concrete bunker, right? Since they're all in crazy Section 9 superbodies?

Hyper-china kind of sucks a lot, doesn't it? I'm really looking forward to the Haqq instead.

Sun Tze is PH 12 in powered armor, 11 outside of it. If we assume 10 is normal for someone in fighting shape, and the highest PH I can recall is 17 on things like TAGs, he's either got good artificial genes or he's training like a professional athlete. Other Recreations are a good deal more swole, so he's probably not a secret combat android.

It gets weird fast because sometimes PH is just how agile you are, and sometimes it's how quick you are, and sometimes it's how much you can carry (or in that case, how huge and hard to carry you are). MST3K rules apply.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.


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.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

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 rear end 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 poo poo 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.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Night10194 posted:

I kind of like that ALEPH feels a little bumbling instead of just being a totally omnipotent gangster computer God.

No, the omnipotent computer gangster hangs out with the Nomads.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

LeSquide posted:

Wait, the regular weapon variants are WYSIWYG in Infinity?

As close as reasonable. Individual judgement comes down to your TO, and if you just bought a shitload of one guy and said "This one is an HMG, this one is a Spitfire, this one is a missile launcher," that's sort of suspect.

The general attitude is that I should be able to make an educated guess as to what your guy is at a glance. If you're using a rifleman model, but it's painted a little different and you've told me it's a spitfire, that's okay. If it's a regular unpainted rifleman, but you've stuck a tiny post-it dot on there that says "spitfire," that's also okay pretty much everywhere outside the big tournament in Spain. If you've got a bunch of random Haqq minis and you're telling me what Combined Army units they actually are, eh, probably not cool.

It used to be purely WYSIWYG, and that was widely considered to be crap around the world.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.


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 drat 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 gently caress 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 poo poo 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 capital city of USAriadna is MountZion-The Wall, which is built on the furthest extent of USAriadnan territory. Ariadnan-Americans would hang Antipode corpses on the Wall. This was written prior to 2016.

    Geography is deterministic, so that people from the southern part of the state are like US southerners, and also that these same people would tolerate one of their sub-states being named for FDR.

    If you name an American city “Deadwood,” the inhabitants will have rolling gun battles with each other as they break out of their saloons and into the streets, in a place that is still somehow conducive to hosting a professional sports team. This will also work at least twice more in other cities named for the locales from westerns.

    Americans would build enough of a rail network to name a city “4 Tracks.”

    The bright shiny belle of the southern regions is a city named Tara.

    Space Americans would know enough Latin to make a joke motto like “Aurora Hora Aurea.”

    One of the major issues the Americans fight about internally is the specific detailing and color scheme of their flag.

    The first response Americans had to the Antipode counterattacks was to start scalping them.

    The US Marine Corps will spontaneously reform itself when the US military - even the Army - is in the presence of a sea, and they will recruit the most violent reprobates (here, werewolves) they can find to fill their ranks.

    Americans are fat and slow, but there sure are a lot of them.

    The manliest, fightingest, Americanist American of them all is a tall bald guy who kills people with a fire axe. He’s rude and offensively honest, beloved and feared by his peers depending on his bipolar phase. He looks exactly like Matthew McConaughey in Reign of Fire, and his favorite things to consume are beer and doughnuts.

The entire game is like this. Every single faction.

I love Infinity.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.
Please, these people may be comparatively primitive, but they're still from our future and they traveled 20 light years further than any of us have ever gotten. They have minidisc players.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Barudak posted:

Oh god its called 4 tracks because the only disc that survived has 4 songs on it and after hooking it up to the PA system they cant shut it off. Assuming we keep the stereotyping strong, what four songs would be playing on endless loop in that town?

Obviously Proud to be an American, but what else

Take Me Home, Country Roads, The Stars and Stripes Forever, and Achey Breaky Heart.

Truly, the future is a blasted hellscape.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Ronwayne posted:

What's the state of the Ariadna/Nomad alliance in the current fluff? Also, wasn't there some sort of unobtanium on the planet that makes their comparatively primitive guns shoot harder? Like if a bolt action rifle could blow through both sides of an armored vehicle?

Still going strong as it ever was, but presumably the Ariadnans are not enthusiastic about an iPod that will only work if you have sex with it.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Tsilkani posted:

So, with grassy gnoll covering the Infinity miniatures game, I figured I'd dig out my copy of the Infinity RPG and cover it. Grassy gnoll is doing a pretty good job with the lore overview; does everyone want me do go over the timeline at the start of the book, which is pretty much the same info, or should I just go right to the rules?

I'm glossing over a ton of stuff because there's just so many poorly-written words in the tabletop books. If there's something you feel is worth covering, go for it; if it'll save you some time, skip it.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

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 drat 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. :effort:

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 lovely. 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 rear end 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 loving 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 gently caress.

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 rear end in a top hat 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.

grassy gnoll fucked around with this message at 17:01 on Oct 18, 2018

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Wales Grey posted:

I like the Blackjack and Ratnik! They're cool models with decent profiles and the Blackjack has a spectacularly silly background:[url=]

Edgy writing aside, the Blackjack's sniper profile is pretty much a turret with BS 13, ARM 5, and 2 wounds for the low, low price of 36 points and 1 SWC. Getting cover for ARM 8 is also pretty easy despite being S5: it's not a TAG—just have the unit go prone! (TAGs and Remotes can't go prone, but heavy infantry can!) The Ratnik does the same thing for TAK that the Taskmaster does for Bakunin: a bulky attacker who can get upfield quickly without wasting too many orders and isn't overly threatened by rifles. Actually, I think the Ratnik might be a more effective unit than the Taskmaster in a straight gunfight. It doesn't waste points on frivolous stuff like CC19 or martial arts prowess, brings AP weapons to shoot other lads, and can be dogged to force your opponent to kill it again. On the other hand, the Taskmasters have slightly better range bands on their weapons, and vastly superior hacking support/defense options in their list while being 1 SWC less for the red fury plus heavy rocket launcher team. Plus, all Taskmaster profiles have koalas.

I respect your opinion and strongly disagree! :v:

I'm definitely of the mindset that more pieces over a distributed area is a better idea than elite units in general. In fairness, a large part of this comes from my dice rolling. There's the usual odds for everybody else, and then there's whatever entropic shroud that hangs over me and nudges my dice rolls in the direction I least want them to go whenever possible. For what it's worth, I don't like the Taskmaster either, for the same reasons.

If I'm gonna drop ~50 points and 1+ SWC on a thing, it's gotta do more than kill people. Having a beastly turret isn't going to win me points (unless ITS keeps going in for killy missions, but I guess we'll see about that). Those same points for a durable specialist with a helpful ability, like a Hospitaller doctor, sure, that sounds great. Otherwise, give me a grunt link with an HMG or impact template any day of the week.

For everyone playing at home, Wales' opinion is completely legitimate and something to strongly consider, should you pick the game up for yourself. I'm absolutely filtering these lists through my own preferences.

One of the greatest strengths of Infinity is that it's sufficiently solid and complex enough that you can make up any army list with almost any kind of composition, and if you're a canny player, you'll still do well. I can pick any of the tournament-winning lists from around the globe, and even if I'm familiar with their individual units, I can still get by clock cleaned by someone playing a "less optimal" list that they're more experienced with. You can build an order-spam Military Order list, you can run a bully Nomad list, you can take a 10-man elite Ariadna list, and as long as you know what you're doing, you can absolutely kick someone else in the teeth. It's one of the best features of the game.

There's a truism in the Infinity community that goes "It's not your list, it's you." Netlisting just isn't a thing in this game, if for no other reason than the individual setup of a table is such a huge factor in gameplay. You have to know what you're doing, you have to have a plan, and you have to know what you're going to do when your opponent inevitably wrecks that plan seconds after the start of the game. The tradeoff for this really high skill ceiling is the gigantic, awful learning curve, and I'm not sure how to fix that, truth told.

LatwPIAT posted:

My engagement with Infinity is 90% "this setting lets me vicariously be a redheaded woman in British Army smock commanding an assault squad of werewolves". It's something I didn't know I wanted in my life, but it turns out, I want it in my life.

I like Ariadna, and even the werewolves, precisely because of how over-the-top it is. If nothing else, it feels like the Ariadna lists are played up to such stereotypes that CB is in on the joke, for a change. I'll gladly exchange green soccer hooligans for angry Uncle Vanya and his three squabbling nephews, MacScotch, Croissant and Freedom.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Halloween Jack posted:

I'm not a wargamer, so: I gather that because it's a skirmish game with few units, you have to have a fallback plan when one piece of your perfect synergy combo gets shot in the face?

Yes. Ohh, yes. It's not probable, but it's still entirely possible your 120-point TAG will get merked by some 10-point rear end in a top hat with a perfect three-hit combirifle attack. Which, in fairness, feels amazing when you're on the giving side of the equation.

In general, you should always tailor your list to the mission or slate of missions you know you'll be playing. From there, have a plan A, a plan B, and then a plan C to try and make your opponent lose if you can't win. This isn't always possible based on your army or the mission, but it's a good general notion.

Like many things in Infinity, this kind of list-building strategy is entirely subjective and if you're a great player, you just won't give a poo poo because you have a finely-honed list that you've played exclusively for years or whatever. Other people go by rule of cool, practice with their list, and drat the consequences.

Mors Rattus posted:

Yes, and also Infinity itself is interesting in that objectives are not known, I believe. Which is to say - each side has an objective, but the opponent doesn't necessarily know that objective, and it is rarely just 'kill all the other guys.'

Sort of.

In the vaguest generalities, you missions where you'll fight the other guys or ones where you go accomplish objectives. While there is one (out of 26 missions this season) that boils down to "go kill more of them than they kill of you," there tends to be a specific point to the carnage. Often times you're fighting for territory, like having more points in a zone or occupying a specific room. Other times, there's a specific goal to things, like Decapitation, where you don't have the Loss of Lieutenant rule, but you can only score points by killing the enemy LTs. Objective missions can be as simple as touch this console and make a WIP check, or capture this supply box and drag it back to your DZ, or they can be as complicated as sorting out which civilian miniature is actually a spy, or playing tic-tac-toe with objective consoles.

Within those missions, you'll have randomized classified objectives. These are the hidden goals you have to accomplish. They can vary, but tend to be things like "coup de grace at least one enemy soldier," or "repair one of your mechanical units from unconsciousness," or "get a medic in range of the enemy civilian target and do experiments on them." There's also a mission called "Highly Classified," which may be what you're thinking of, where all your scoring is based off of these random hidden objectives. I quite like it, other people hate it.

Season 10 also has a lot of points tied up in what's basically an achievement system. It's a nice idea in theory, but in practice it boils down to an uninteresting order tax instead of "accomplish this cool thing in a specific way."

grassy gnoll fucked around with this message at 17:03 on Oct 19, 2018

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

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 rear end in a top hat 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, making GBS threads 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:

    Do not endanger the ship

    What you do in the confines of your hab module is your business, not ours

    Don’t endanger the ship

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.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.
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 gently caress 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 loving 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 poo poo.

Worst of all, there’s the loving categories. CLAW-1 and UPGRADE-2 and that poo poo. 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 loving 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 making GBS threads 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 poo poo 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. :spain:

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 lovely 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 gently caress 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 rear end in a top hat 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.

gently caress you, ALEPH.

Next: Tohaa, unfortunately.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Cythereal posted:

Why are there catgirls in the Nomads. I feel like I missed something beyond horny Spanish anime nerds.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Dawgstar posted:

OR Celty from DRRR!!

I've shat enough words into this thread over the past week, so I'll keep the rant to myself, but I want it known I have strong negative feelings about the Rider.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.


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 lovely 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 rear end-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 lovely 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.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Night10194 posted:

Resolving the main theological doubt of your theological horror setting in two questions in a sidebar, definitively, is a very odd move.

Also, when were the second group of rear end in a top hat aliens added to Infinity?

Campaign Paradiso, a supplement for second edition, from 2012. It was intended to add some continuing story and experiential mechanics to the game, and some papercraft trains.


grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Tsilkani posted:

I like the Tohaa. :colbert:

I would genuinely like to know why.

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