With the Beyond Operation:Red Veil and Beyond Operation:Icestorm, new players are able to enter the game (splitting a box with a friend) for less that £60, I thought it was time to look at the options for new players getting started with the two Yu Jing sectorial: the Imperial Service and the Japanese Sectorial Army, on a budget.
First up with have the Imperial State Service. The secret police of the Yu Jing empire, the ISS specialise in Heavy Infantry, special equipment and Remotes. The Heavy Infantry of the ISS is second only to PanOceania, but makes up for it with more gadgets and tricks, from Multispectral visors to Holoprojectors.
Having a sectorial army also gives you access the the use of Fire Teams. These highly effecting teams of troopers allow superb order efficiency allowing all troopers in the team to activated move with a single order. They also confer bonuses for 3, 4 and 5 man teams. Although they confer many benefits, having to keep your team close together (in an 8″ coherence area to the Fire Team Leader) makes you more vulnerable to template weapons such as Chain Rifles, Missile Launchers and Shotguns.
Lets take a look at the list and then discuss the individual units, strategy, costs and finally what to buy next.
The List – Imperial Service (300 points)
GROUP 1 10
CRANE IMPERIAL AGENT Lieutenant (X Visor) Spitfire, 2 Nanopulsers / Pistol, DA CCW. (2 | 54)
CRANE IMPERIAL AGENT (Sensor, X Visor) MULTI Rifle, 2 Nanopulsers / Pistol, DA CCW. (0 | 52)
CELESTIAL GUARD (Forward Observer) Boarding Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 13)
CELESTIAL GUARD (Forward Observer) Boarding Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 13)
CELESTIAL GUARD (Kuang Shi Control Device) Combi Rifle + Light Smoke Grenade Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 13)
PHEASANT IMPERIAL AGENT (Chain of Command, Fireteam: Haris) Red Fury / Pistol, DA CC Weapon. (1.5 | 36)
BÀO TROOP (Multispectral Visor L2) MULTI Sniper Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (1.5 | 29)
BÀO TROOP (X Visor, Multispectral Visor L2) Combi Rifle + Light Shotgun / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 27)
ZHÀNYING Hacker (Hacking Device) Breaker Combi Rifle, D-Charges / Pistol, Electric Pulse. (0.5 | 32)
SOPHOTECT Combi Rifle, D-Charges / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 31)
6 SWC | 300 Points
We start off with a 5 man Core Fire Team made of 2 Imperial Agents Crane Rank, and 3 Celestial Guards.
The Imperial Agent Crane Rank is judge, jury and executioner. Sent by the Imperial State to deliver justice, these Heavy Infantry units are able to form link teams with the Celestial Guards. The Crane Lieutenant with Spitfire and X-Visor is the real big hitter in the list! Armed with a Spitfire, he has a 5 dice attack (+1 Burst for 3 man Fire Team) and a base BS of 16 (13 ,+3 for a 5 man Fire Team bonus), in good range of up to 24″! So what if they are over 24″? Well, rather then get the -3 range modifier, the Crane can use his X-Visor to reduce this modifier to 0 from 24″-32″ or -3 from 32″-48″ allowing him to engage targets at even long range. His armour of 4 (7 in cover) and 2 wounds allow him to take fire and still keeping going, and with a BTS of 6 he’s able to resist a lot of hacking attacks. Worried about putting your Lieutenant on the front lines? Well, fear not, the Imperial Agent Pheasant Rank (See below) has Chain of Command allowing him to take over. For close quarters battle (CQB) the Crane also has a DOUBLE nano-pulsar. Great in those situations where you come across a tightly packed group of troopers, or where you want to guarantee a hit. The Crane Rank is also impressive close combat, with CC23, Martial Arts Level 3 and a Double Action CCW with Damage of PH13.
The second Imperial Agent Crane Rank, is armed with a Multi-Rifle. While you might be fooled into thinking it is just a Combi-Rifle, think again! The shock mode allows you to auto-kill any 1 wound unit you hit (great vs units with Valour: Dogged or No Wounds Incapacitation). The Armour-Piercing mode can be used to cut through the armour of even the heaviest TAGs (Take that Jotum from ARM 10 to ARM 5!). Finally the Double Action mode is great for the ARO. Giving you Burst 2 (1 + 1 for Fire Teams Bonus), with each hit causing two armour saves (4 it total if both hit!)!
The Celestial Guards are not just cheer leaders! The two Boarding Shotgun/Forward Observers are both specialists allowing you to secure critical objectives. In CQB allow the Boarding Shotguns to take point and you will be on Burst 3, rolling on 20’s to hit at range <8″. At range they are also great in defence with their Flash Pulse (a built in part of being a Forward Observer). This allows the user to attack (usually as an ARO) with a Burst 2 on 20’s within 24″ (using WP14 as its a technical weapon, +3 Fire Team and +3 Range).
The Celestial Guard with Kuang Shi control device isn’t there to control your hordes of convicted criminals (we’ll get to the Kuang Shi later), but rather, for his Smoke Grenade Launcher. Able to launcher 2 grenades on BS17’s between 8″ and 16″, this weapon is great not only for laying covering smoke to move up the table (past powerful Total Reaction HMG Remotes) and get your Crane rank into his ideal range. Its also great for placing smoke tactically for the Bao Trooper Sniper! (more on that later)
Next up with ave a Fire Team: Haris made of an Imperial Agent Pheasant Rank, and two Bao Troopers. You are allowed to have both 1 Fire Team: Core and 1 Fire Team: A Haris in play at the same time!
The Imperial Agent Pheasant Rank may not be a tough as the Crane but is more than able to hold his own in a fight. This one is armed with a Red Fury (a Burst 4 Combo Rifle/+1 Burst for Fire Team Bonuses with shock!). In close combat, like the Crane, he is more than able, with CC 22 and Martial Arts Level 2, plus a Double Action Close combat weapon (but let down by his pH of 10). Importantly, he has the Chain of Command skill. This not only makes him a specialist, but also allows him to instantly take over as the Lieutenant if the Crane rank enters a null state (dead, unconscious isolated). This allows you to be far more ballsy with your Crane Lieutenant!
Backing up the Pheasant are the Bao Troopers. With their special equipment the Bao are trained to hunt down insurgents and rebels with impunity (and bug guns). The Bao Trooper with Multi-Sniper Rifle is the ideal defensive ARO piece with Burst 2 and BS 12 (+3 at 16″-48″), as well as a Multi-Spectoral Visor allow his to see through the enemies Camouflage and ODD. The Bao also have an impressive BTS of 6 and Valour: Courage, so no need for Guts rolls (or you can choose to automatically fail them to duck down). To back up the Sniper you also have the Combo-Rifle/Light Shotgun which is able to offer close support (especially good for guarding your flanks). He also has MSV2. Both of the MSV units work brilliantly with the Celestial Guards Smoke Grenades, allowing your troopers to shoot through the smoke, but giving the enemy a -6 to shoot back (unless they have Sixth Sense Level 2). Beware however, some hackers (Nomad, Aleph and Combined Army) has access to White Noise which can blind units that use MSV.
The last miniature from the Starter box is a Zhanying Missile Launcher, but he will have to proxy for a Zhanying Hacker (although the model for the hacker is excellent as well). This hacker will provide both Hacking support (Fairy Dust is great for protecting your Crane Ranks) as well as the bonus of having D-Charges for completing the Demolition Classified Objective, or blowing up immobilised things! His Break Rifle is also great as it acts like a normal combi-rifle but forces targets to see vs BTS and not ARM (nasty vs low tech factions like Ariadne, not so good vs PanO).
Finishing this list is something special, the Sophotect. The Sophotect is one of the Aleph units available to ISS (Along with the Dakini TacBot and Garuda TacBot). She is an artificial being, the ultimate repository of knowledge. With a WillPower of 15 and the skill of Doctor AND Engineer she is one of the best specialists in the game. She is also no slouch in combat. BS11, Armed with a Combi-Rifle, and ARM 2 she can defend herself well, and take a hit as she has Valour: No-Wounds Incapacitation. If fact if she takes a wound, and goes to the NWI state instead of unconscious, she can Doctor herself back to 1 wound!
So how do they all work together? Hammer and Anvil!
The Crane Ranks Fire team is the Hammer (affectionately known as the Crane Pain Train), taking the fight to the enemy. The Celestial Guard Forward Observers are specialists able to secure objectives and good in CQB.
The Pheasant/Bao Haris is the Anvil. Place the Bao Sniper high upon cover for a commanding view to cover the fire lanes. Back him on the ground and protect your flanks with the Bao Combo/Shotgun and Pheasant Rank, but try and keep the Pheasant safe in case the Crane Rank goes down. Try and have your Celestial Guard in the Crane Fire Team to lay down smoke between the Bao Sniper and his target to get a decisive advantage!
The Sophotect can either deploy near by to the Bao Sniper ready to heal him up, or follow the Crane Ranks Fire Team up the table.
Lastly the Zhanying Hacker is a wildcard. He can stay back and guard the Pheasant Haris, guard a flank with his Breaker Rifle, follow the Cranes team or go after objectives on his own.
Remember, In ITS Season 9, as you have only 10 orders (in one combat group), if you go first, your opponent can’t spend a command token to remove 2 orders from your order pool.
Although all these costs are official RRP, mosts stores will do between a 10-20% discount on these. Overall even at RRP the whole force works out at £80.98 (out £72 with discount) and you still have two Bao Troopers left over! This is a little more expensive to the cost of half an Operation Red Veil and Half of Beyond Red Veil (£59.49 RRP if you go halves).
ISS Starter Box (Imperial Agent Crane Rank, Imperial Agent Pheasant Rank, 3 Celestial Guards, Zhanying w/Missile Launcher) £38.99
Bao Troops, Judicional Watch Unit Box (Sniper, Combi Rifle x2, Boarding Shotgun) £24.50
Sophotect Blister £8.50
Imperial Agent Crane Rank (with Multi-Rifle) £8.99
What to buy next?
One of the best buys for ISS is the box of 4 Kuang Shi. These extremely impetuous, convicted criminals cost of 5 points for the chain rifle version, but provide a regular order. You can field 4 of them in a Fire Team with a Celestial Guard (with Kuang Sii Control Device) for only 33 points in total. 5 regular orders for 33 points is the best cost/order ratio in the game!
The Hsein (With Multi Rifle) is a great buy. The new Hsein HMG is only available in the Yu Jing Starter, but the Multi-Rifle miniature is great too. With BS 14, ARM 4, BTS 6 and MSV 2 this guy is impressive. Added to that, he can form a Fire Team: Haris with 2 Zhanying!
Zhanying (Hacker). Why not add this miniature and then be able to Haris with your existing Zhanying and a Hsein!
The Kanren offers a great Infiltration ability. With Specialists (Forward Observer, Killer Hacker, or Assault Hacker) and lots of other profile load outs (Sniffers, Mad Traps), these units have great potential. Their Holoprojector Level 2 allows them to take surprise Shots on the Enemy (or Surprise Hacks), but can also be use to run into mines and perimeter weapons in the midfield to set them off! The Sniffer/Mine Layer can start the game with a Sniffer in play which can boost the range of Sensor, to 8″ around the sniffer, no where for those enemy Camo units to hide!
Saving the best for last, the awesomeness that is the Su Jian. You get two models in the box, High Mobility (Battle Cat) mode, and Combat (Stomping Robot) Mode. He’s a transforming, 2 Wounds (plus NWI), BS14 in Tactical Mode, Move 8-2 in High Mobility Mode, G: Sync Remote, fighting cat! What more is there to say! (Except that in ISS you can take 2 in a Fire Team: Duo, and even take a third one along!
So if your preferred gaming style is Heavy Infantry, big guns, transforming cats and high-tech gadgets, AND you enjoy oppressing minority ethnic groups (The Japanese mainly) and curtailing freedom of speech then join the Imperial State Service!
If you need to get some split box deals e.g. the Yud Bots (G: Servants to go with the Sophotect) or Dire Foes 6 Xi Zhuang (Specialist Operative Celestial Guard), then the man to go to is Shae Konnit Games.