Sunday, October 8, 2017

What Happened to My Specialists?!

Hello, my loyal readers of the Sword of Haqqislam!

It has been well over a month since my last posting. Unfortunately, when things get busy, the blog is the one that suffers since I only do this in my spare time. With how popular the last post was, I was hoping to have had another article out way before this. It was supposed to be about another Haqqislam unit that I don’t think gets enough attention, the Hassassin Govad. A more pressing subject has come up, though, one I want to cover before doing another unit spotlight. Don’t worry, the article on Govads is definitely coming, but with the new season upon us, I thought that it was better to hit this topic first.

Some changes have come to the Infinity meta with the release of the new ITS Season 9: Treason and I am not just talking about the fact that I am moving on from playing vanilla Haqqislam to focusing on Hassassin Bahram. (For those new to the blog, I am on a quest to master all of Haqqislam so every season I play a different aspect of Haqqislam. I started out playing Qapu Khalqi, switched to vanilla Haqqislam for last season, and now Hassassin Bahram will be my main focus. It is my hope that the Ramah Taskforce will be released before next season so that season 10 can focus on that Sectorial.) Corvus Belli has outdone themselves in keeping this game fresh by overhauling the missions we have been playing these past two years by adding in several subtle changes that make you re-think how you view these old missions.

Now several outlets are going over the changes to all the missions, so I am not going to re-hash that here (MayaCast is spending the next couple of episodes going through all the changes in Season 9 so head on over  and give Tom and Kip a listen here). What I am going to do is tackle a glaring problem for Haqqislam in this new season. This season definitely has shifted the meta to go from favoring specialist laden lists to favoring more direct action lists, even in special operation missions and definitely in all joint op missions. On the surface this seems like a problem for Haqqislam since our primary edge on everyone is our spectacular specialists that press buttons and complete objectives like a boss. The importance of classified objectives has decreased while an emphasis on the new aspect that is the Data Tracker has risen. It has left a good amount of Haqqislam players wondering what to do with our specialists since that was our main advantage.

Well, that’s what I am going to answer in this article, what to do with our specialists in this season and why they are still one of Haqqislam’s main advantage. Sometimes we get tunnel vision with how we see specialists in this game. There are some who see them only as units that press buttons to complete objectives, or only to get the classified if that one happens to be drawn from the deck. Think of this as a refresher for the veteran Haqqislam commanders, and an introduction to specialists for the beginner Haqqislam players out there. Now let’s get into the meat of this article with our first specialist: the Forward Observer.

Forward Observer:

Forward Oberservers (FOs) usually are consigned to those cheap specialists that people often spam to get a high volume of specialists in their lists, especially in Ariadna where they are plentiful. While we may not have such a high volume like Ariadna, we do have a good amount of sources for FOs, from our line troop the Ghulam to things like the Hafza and the Muyib. They are easily accessed in every army available to Haqqislam and they usually only cost a point above the generic version of that troop, so they are super easy to fit in, which is why they are sometimes the most plentiful specialist found in lists. It gives you tons of troops that can run up and press buttons, but this is just the beginning of what a FO can bring to a list.

In addition to being a specialist, being a Forward Observer brings two abilities to the table. The first one is the ability to, of course, Forward Observe an enemy which puts the enemy unit in the Targeted state. When in the Targeted state, you get a +3 modifier when using either BS attacks or Hacking attacks against that target. Also, it allows you to use the Guided trait to fire on those in the Targeted state without needing Line of Fire to that unit.

You don’t hear of many people using the Forward Observe skill despite these benefits. To put it plainly, it’s order intensive because it adds an extra order onto whatever you are trying to do, and it also might draw what some view as unnecessary AROs so people tend not to do it unless you have the units and orders to spare, which I think Haqqislam most certainly can have, but I understand why people shy away from using this skill unless they need to so they can complete a Classified Objective. Most of the time you see this being used in conjunction with the Shaytaniyah Remote to use the Guided trait of its Smart Missile Launcher, but it definitely can help with Haqqislam’s typically low BS skill, or make Hacking attempts even better. If you have the orders to spare, it’s not bad to use the skill. 

The second ability that FOs have makes them useful to take even if you have no intention of using Forward Observe. Being an FO gives them access to Flash Pulse which may not seem like a big deal but it certainly can have a big effect on the way a game plays out especially for Haqqislam given that Flash Pulse is a BS weapon that utilizes WIP instead of BS. This allows Haqqislam units to use their naturally high WIP of 14 to ARO instead of a BS skill at 11 or 12. It also extends the range of their effectiveness since the +3 mod range band for a Flash Pulse goes out to 24 inches which helps since most of the troops that are FOs usually are carrying a Rifle + Light Shotgun, some might only have a Boarding Shotgun. Now, stunning a unit might not be as glamorous as knocking it unconscious or killing it outright but it still is an effective strategy to hinder your opponent because they have to either spend the orders to remove the unit or take the risk of getting stunned thus making that unit useless for the rest of the turn. This allows you to provide cheap orders to your list while also providing cheap ARO pieces that your opponent has to work around. Don’t underestimate the power of a Flash Pulse, I know I have had several times where a Flash Pulse has helped decide the course of some games and in the hands of WIP 14 Haqqislamite units, it’s hard to ignore them.

You might not be cramming your lists full of FOs just to get access to their abilities but if you are filling out lists to get more orders, choosing to fill those spots with FOs is certainly not a bad choice. I have been thankful multiple times to have a well-placed FO to stun my opponent’s units and turn things to my favor. So don’t overlook the lowly Forward Observer.


The definition of what it means to be a toolbox. Engineers usually find themselves in lists for two reasons: 1.) You have them along to repair anything that has STR or 2.) You need D-Charges to complete the Sabotage classified. Haqqislam doesn’t need engineers for the second reason because we have a lot of units that carry D-Charges which can complete the Classified more easily than a Najjarun, like the Al Hawwa’, for example. Still, it’s nice that the Engineers have them, and using them in CC is still fun and hilarious if you can pull it off. There are some missions that require blowing up scenery as well, but again, there are other units in Haqqislam that can deliver a D-Charge. One thing that you can do, though, is plant the D-charge with one unit while the Engineer hangs back out of sight and use the Engineer to detonate it if it was placed in a high risk area. (Side Note: The Kaplan Engineer with Blitzen is one of the only Engineers not to come with D-Charges, but it can still detonate D-Charges because the Engineer skill grants that ability.)

An Engineer is most certainly a support unit, usually there if you want to repair your TAGs and Remotes, something that Haqqislam actually doesn’t have a lot of. We have only 3 TAGs across the entire faction (the Maghariba Guard in vanilla and Ramah Taskforce as well as Scarface and the Iguana in Qapu Khalqi) and the only Remotes we have are the ones everyone (except Ariadna) has so the need to have an Engineer around may not be as attractive as it could be with other factions. Still, Engineers repair your stuff, and being able to get a Maghariba Guard back up is an awesome thing. Having some of the Total Reaction Remotes come back to shut down lanes is also quite useful.

In addition to repairing STR, Engineers can repair certain equipment and fix certain states. If one of your Camo troops is Burnt from Fire ammunition, you can use the Engineer to repair the state and allow the troop the ability to re-camo. Other states that the Engineer can repair are Immobilized, Isolated, and Disabled. It can be quite useful to have an Engineer around if you know you are going to face off against an opponent that can induce one or more of these states. The ITS mission Hunting Party really highlights this because it hinges on causing these states, so it can be very useful to bring an Engineer along to help your troopers out of the Isolated or Immobilized state and prevent your opponent from scoring points.

The Engineer really is straightforward as far as what it brings to the table, but I did want to go over one thing that gets overlooked quite a bit on an Engineer that might make you want to bring them past just supporting your Remotes and blowing up explosives. Just like the FO, the Engineer has a piece of equipment embedded in the Engineering skill, the Deactivator. It’s a nifty piece of equipment that allows you to deactivate deployable weapons (D-charges, mines, E/Maulers, etc) thus disarming them and allowing your troopers to avoid nasty surprises. The Deactivator is only modified by range and never visual modifiers and its range band is pretty good. From 0-8, it’s +6 so that means Haqqislam Engineers can’t fail from 0-8 so that face to face roll makes mines utterly useless against them. 8-16 is +3 and 16-24 is -6. If your opponent is going mine happy, you can run Engineers up on those mines to make them utterly useless.

Haqqislam is blessed to have Engineers outside of just the Narrajun Engineer… well, vanilla Haqqislam and Qapu Khalqi (QK) are blessed to have Engineers outside of the Narrajun. Hassassin Bahram is stuck with just the Narrajun. These are, of course, the Kaplan Engineers who bring more to the table than just the Engineer skill. Not only do all Kaplans have Mimetism, they have two Engineers with two different load outs. One comes with D-Charges, an Adhesive Launcher, and their standard Combi Rifle. The other just gets a Combi Rifle and a Blitzen. Now, there is plenty to say about using the Kaplans in QK since they are a Core Link so we know their advantages in that Sectorial, but I honestly love them in vanilla as well, just because I am a big fan of multi-purpose units, which the Kaplan Engineer most assuredly is. Not only do you get the specialist aspect of the unit, but both Kaplan Engineers comes with two weapons to help Haqqislam deal with problems like Heavy Infantry by Immobilizing them with the Adhesive Launcher or the Blitzen. The Adhesive Launcher has unlimited ammunition but a more limited range, while the Blitzen has way better range and the help of having E/M2 ammunition, the downside being that it is Disposable (2). This can be solved, though, with having a Baggage bot nearby, and if you are taking the Engineer to support the Remote anyway, it’s not bad to bring that Blitzen. Heavy Infantry having to take two rolls at half their BTS or get Immobilized and Isolated is a great way to level the playing field with other factions’ tech.

Chain of Command:

This is probably one of the more commonly seen Specialists and probably one that is usually taken not because they press buttons, but because you want to utilize the ability of Chain of Command. There is only one unit in Haqqislam currently that has Chain of Command, but it’s probably one of the best Chain of Command units in the game because it has both the Camouflage and Infiltrator skills. That unit is, of course, the Hassassin Farzan. Only vanilla Haqqislam and Hassassin Bahram have access to them, sorry Qapu Khalqi players.

The reason to take Chain of Command outside of having another Camouflaged Infiltrating specialist midfield to press buttons (BTW, another quick aside, vanilla Haqqislam is the only faction to have every kind of specialist to be a camouflaged infiltrators except for Engineer. We have doctors, hackers, FOs, specialist troop and thanks to the Farzan, a Chain of Command) is because you are taking a risky and/or obvious Lieutenant. The immediate example one can think of is if you are choosing to use Saladin, you can have a Farzan sitting out of reach if your opponent decides to go assassinate Saladin. Another is if you are using either a Hacker or FO Barid, you can use your LT order to do things with the Barid (One of my favorite things to do is use the LT Hacker Barid for support programs on my Remotes because you can use his LT order to get the support program and have the rest of your order pool to do things with) without as much risk. That’s pretty much all the tricks up the sleeves of the Farzen.

For the most part, Chain of Command is taken to actually make use of Chain of Command. They can work in a pinch if you are playing an objective based mission to press buttons and you are sure that your LT is safe from harm, but they are mainly there to confound your opponent when they spent orders to hunt your LT to put you in Loss of LT and that never happens because of the sneaky Farzan. Times when they are taken to press buttons is primarily if the mission happens to give a WIP bonus to Chain of Command.

Specialist Troop:

This will be a quick one because currently there are only two in all of Haqqislam, Yasbir and the Hassassin Ayyar. There isn’t much to say about them because all this does is allow them to press the buttons in objective based missions so they don’t have any extra abilities. That’s fine because the primary roles of both Yasbir and the Ayyar is not to be a specialist. You usually take them because you intend to use them for what they are actually good at which is killing enemy units, but if the mission also happens to include a couple of buttons that need to be pressed, well, the Ayyar and Yasbir can take a break from eliminating the enemies of Haqqislam and press a button or two. It allows for a versatility to them and I love multi-purpose units especially the Ayyar. They are great to have along, especially if you want killing power but don’t want to skimp on specialists.


Here is something that probably could be an entire article in itself, so this will be a rough overview of a much deeper topic of how Hackers are a great asset to Haqqislam. Hackers are probably my most utilized specialist in Haqqislam actually. I know Nomads get the praise of having the best Hackers in the game, but Haqqislam shouldn’t be counted out of the hacking game. Yes, Haqqislam doesn’t have the same kind of BTS that others do, and we don’t have the fancy hacking devices that Combined, Nomads and even ALEPH get, but that naturally high WIP 14 helps to win a lot of face to face rolls, let me tell you. Haqqislam has access to four types of Hacking Devices. The normal Hacking Device (HD), the EVO Hacking Device, the Assault Hacking Device (AHD) and the Killer Hacking Device(KHD). I will go into how I use each of them to give Haqqislam an edge. One thing to remember is that Haqqislam has access to Camouflaged Infiltrating units (Specifically the Al Hawwa’ and the Tuareg) that have AHDs. This means you can Surprise Hack someone from the Camo State, which is a great way to not only get to enemy hackable units but helps to make sure that the hack goes through.

We will start with normal Hacking Devices, and the EVO Hacking Device, because I don’t usually use them unless I am using them in a support role, either with buffing my Remotes or making sure my HI have Fairy Dust. I sometimes do wish I would include them more because of the ability to Hack Transport Aircraft to keep enemy AD troops from ruining my day but it’s never anything that I have seen as essential really. As I pointed out above, I love the Hassassin Barid Hacker LT for this job because of being able to use that LT order to put up the support programs. HDs aren’t bad by any means but I do find myself using AHDs and KHDs a lot more because I use hacking offensively  to level the playing field against factions like PanOceania and Yu Jing who are fond of their nice hackable toys. The EVO might be worth it if you can use all the benefits that it brings, but I find that it is a bit harder to do in Haqqislam than other factions that have more Duos, more AD troops, or more combat remotes. Losing the offensive ability that the HD brings isn’t worth the pure supportive EVO, so if I do take a support Hacker it usually is just a regular HD.

Now into the great way to use Hackers in Haqqislam, the Assault Hacking Device. Haqqislam has plenty of choices  to deploy these. Three of the AHD units have ways of starting up the board and close to enemy. The Al Hawwa’ and the Tuareg both are Camo Infiltrators (Don’t forget about the Surprise Hack from the marker state!) and the Ragik has AD: Combat Drop so you don’t have to spend many orders to get them where they can hack. Both the Tuareg and the Ragik also have the added bonus of being WIP 15, making their hacks that more potent. Pretty much there is always an AHD in my lists, sometimes I take 2 depending on the faction I am about to face.  AHDs really help to level the playing for Haqqislam because it helps to deal with hackable units that have superior BS skill to Haqqislam troops. I use them to Immobilize HI and possess TAGs. I make my opponent regret taking their high tech toys. Another mention has to be for the Barid AHD because it has the UPGRADE program Icebreaker. Icebreaker reduces the enemy BTS value to 0 and causes IMM-1. The Barid may not have the mobility of the other 3, but Icebreaker is more than worth it, plus the Barid has a Pitcher to throw a Repeater and extend its Hacking Area. There are also other repeaters available to the faction to help expand the Barid’s influence.

Next is the KHD, which is a Hacking Device I absolutely love. Again, there is always one KHD in my list, mostly because Leila Sharif has made herself indispensable within my lists. No matter if I am playing vanilla, QK or Hassassin, Leila is there. Many think that without any hackers to kill, or buttons to press, that KHD are kind of useless except they forget one thing: Cybermask. With a successful WIP, Cybermask allows the user to go into the Impersonation Level 2 Marker state, allowing access to Surprise Shot. This is where Leila becomes so useful. She carries a Shock Markmanship Rifle allowing her to assassinate unsuspecting victims. (Read more on Leila in the article I wrote about her here.) The other useful KHD is the Barid, because once again, he gets an UPGRADE program to his KHD known as Lightning which is utterly brutal. Not only does it put an enemy hacker at a -6 Mod, but it uses Breaker Special Ammo and is damage 15. The KHD Barid is the ultimate hacker hunter when you want to deprive your enemy of their Hackers. The other two KHD in Haqqislam, the Druze and Govad, are standard KHD, and while not bad (definitely would include in their prospective link teams), they don’t stand out like Leila and the Barid do. The key to using a KHD outside of its obvious uses, though is remembering that it has Cybermask. It adds an entire new layer to the KHD outside of its attack programs. 

I could go on about how to successfully use Hackers in Haqqislam, but this article is already long enough and we still have one last specialist to go. I saved the best for last, because the last specialist is what Haqqislam is known far and wide for.

Doctor Plus:

As the foremost Human Sphere nation when it comes to medicine and biotechnology, Haqqislam has the best Doctors of any faction. They are so good, they are Doctor Plus (Except for Kaplans for whatever reason…) and as a Haqqislam player…I don’t know what a Paramedic is because currently, there are only two in the entire faction: the Maghariba Pilot and she has yet to have left her TAG and the new unit the Cube J├Ąger, so yeah, I only know rolling 17s (or 18 in the case of the Tuareg and Avicenna) to get my troops back up because Doctor Plus gives a +3 mod to Doctor rolls making Haqqislam the best in the business at Healing folks. Only Bakunin gets a taste of what it means to have Doctor Plus because they get access to Avicenna as well, but other than that, Haqqislam is the only faction with Doctor Plus, and is the only faction with Akbar Doctor. Akbar Doctor allows you to instead of taking the +3 mod to your WIP for the Doctor Roll, you get to restore a model up to full Wounds, instead of being limited to 1 Wound. Akbar Doctor is only on one unit currently - the Janissary. I really only take the risk of using Akbar Doctor on units with a cube so that if I fail the roll, I can spend a command token to re-roll. The only cubed HI in Haqqislam are the Azra’il, the Asawira, and the Al Fasid. Still, it is so satisfying to see your opponent’s face as the Al Fasid they thought they took down gets back up with full Wounds again.

I think it goes without saying that if you are playing Haqqislam, you should have at least one, if not multiple, Doctor in your list, even in direct action missions. The ability to get our troopers back up with such reliability is a huge boon for Haqqislam, especially in missions where surviving army points counts toward the Objectives of the Mission. I have gone from losing a mission, to winning it because of the well placed resurrections of key units. Even more so, Doctors are found in many of the Core links available in Haqqislam Sectorials, which means that even if an opponent was able to take down some of your link, the Doctor can come along and get everyone back up, restoring you back to a full link once more so you can reap those link team bonuses. I have yet to make a list without a Doctor in it. They are an important asset in the Haqqislamite toolbox. Even if it is just squeezing in the tried and true Ghulam Doctor, I make sure that there is one supporting my troops.

Haqqislam has a lot of good options for Doctors. When I am playing vanilla, I honestly favor just the regular Ghulam Doctor. Even being just a line troop, she has done a lot and she is easy to fit in a list. I am a huge fan of the Tuareg Doctor as well. A TO Camo Infiltrator that can be up the field to help those who went on an alpha strike is something hard to ignore. In vanilla, Halqa aren’t bad either and the Halqa Doctor is just 3 points more than the Ghulam. The Janissary Akbar Doctor is also a fun unit, durable and a great support for the Azra’il and the Al Fasid with the Akbar ability. When I am playing a Sectorial, my Doctor is usually in the Core Link unless the link doesn’t have access to Doctors like the Hassassin Govads or Odalisques. When this occurs, I always fall back on the Ghulam Doctor.

Take This Knowledge and Go Forth to Do Great Things!

Well that was a lot longer than I thought it would be, but I hope you enjoyed it. I hope that it inspires you to use specialists in new and interesting ways in this new ITS season, despite the decrease in the importance of specialists when it comes to completing some of the missions in this new season. Haqqislam’s main advantage is still easy access to a variety of specialists that help us complete our missions. From the common Forward Observers stunning fools, to Hackers shutting down enemy Hackable units and our great Doctors helping troopers get back on their feet, Haqqislam has a lot of useful specialists when compared to the other factions. These specialists are what help us use asymmetrical tactics to level the playing field against our enemies. As always, my friends, continue to seek knowledge. Mashallah. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Tale of Two Power Armors

With Wotan over, I finally have time to finish this article, so we take a break from stories and lore for us to once again return to discussing tactics and strategy. So, gather ‘round as I spin you a tale - a tale of two power armors.

In light of a previous post where I went over the differences between Vanilla and Sectorials (Which can be found here: The Struggle Between Vanilla and Sectorials
) I discussed how some units can overshadow others when two units occupy the same niche within an vanilla army, causing one to only see play time in their respective Sectorial. The example I used for a major overshadow was from Ariadna, knowing that I would want to later write about a supposed major overshadow in Haqqislam, one that comes up more and more as people start to play Haqqislam because they picked up Red Veil. What is this supposed overshadow you ask? Well, it is between the two S5 power armored units in Haqqislam - the Al Fasid and the Azra'il. 

At first glance they seem to occupy the same job within a list - S5 power armored badass to straight up wreck fools. I understand this because they do appear to be similar units like the Mormaer and Veteran Kazak I used as an example in my last post. I can see why people ask the question: "What is the point of the Azra'il when the Al Fasid exists?" Unlike the Mormaer and the Veteran Kazak though, the Al Fasid and Azra'il occupy two different niches within a list but these two niches are nuanced to the point that people often miss the difference when they are first starting out and taking in all the profiles of Haqqislam.

Before we get into the difference, let's go over the unit profiles. First up, the Azra'il, the Angel of Death from Qapu Khalqi!

The Angel of Death, the Azra'il

Calling the Azra'il the Angel of Death isn't something I came up with to make it sound more awesome. It's actually the meaning of the name in Turkish, since the Azra'il is from the Turkish themed Sectorial of Qapu Khalqi. The ranks of the Azra'il are filled when a new Sultan comes to power within Qapu Khalqi. The former Sultan's guard is disbanded to prevent any conflict of interest, and because these operatives can not return to their former units as they may have seen and heard things while in the service of the Sultan, they are sent to where they can be watched carefully - the Azra'il Special Deterrence Group. It is the job of the Azra'il to protect the transportation of Silk. The big heavy armor isn't a mistake, or is the fact that it's outdated tech, the armor of the Azra'il is designed to look intimidating to dissuade any attempts to illegally obtain Silk. They are there to hunt down any enemy of Haqqislam, as their name implies, and they wouldn't have it any other way. They are often deployed to finish off a mission, hunting down the rest of the enemy as the Angel of Death. 

Right there gives you the Azra'il's role in a list. It is a hunter. The Azra'il is not a static unit meant to be an ARO piece. It is meant to hunt things down and it certainly has the weaponry and stat line to achieve this goal. The Azra'il has a BS of 13 which is standard for HI in Haqqislam, but it is still high for Haqqislam units in general. This is the main stat we actually care about, because it's the main one we will be using. The Azra'il has a PH of 13, which is nice, because despite being S5 HI, it allows the Azra'il to dodge shots when conditions aren't favorable for the Azra'il to fire. With 4-2 movement, the Azra'il is slow, but both loadouts the Azra'il has have positive range bands out to 32", so you won't be moving much to get into favorable fire conditions. The CC isn't anything special at 12 and the Azra'il has a standard Haqqislam WIP of 14, which will come into play mostly with Guts! checks and hacking attempts. Reset at 14 is awesome and will help to keep the Azra'il from being Immobilized. With ARM 5 and BTS 3, the Azra'il is pretty survivable, especially after you have mastered the skill of keeping an S5 model in cover. Lastly, the Azra'il has 2 wounds like all HI outside of Ariadna. 

It has a pretty solid stat line, but that is all it has. There is nothing else special about the Azra'il. No extra special skills, which is why a lot of people don't like it. Even the Janissary at least gets Religious Troop while the Azra'il has nothing. The thing that people mostly overlook about this, though is that the Azra'il is cheap as dirt when compared to other HI. You will pay either 39 or 41 points to take one which is a steal when it comes to 2 wound HI, especially considering the heavy ordinance that the Azra'il carries - which is why you are taking them. Big weapons that will make things dead. 

Azra'il with AP HMG:

I am going to just say this now, this is my preferred profile of the two Azra’il options. It is a problem solver. Have a tough target to crack? The AP part of that AP HMG shreds their armor at damage 15 making sure that you get wounds on those tough targets. Hunting lighter targets? Well, it's still an HMG so it's good at taking out those targets as well. No matter what the AP HMG can take care of the target which is why I like it so much. Plus, the burst 4 gives you more dice to defeat any ARO your opponent tries to throw. I also like the AP HMG because you have the ability to put it into suppression fire allowing you to lock down a fire lane after the Azra'il cleared it out, establishing better board presence and control of the board. The AP HMG definitely is a dominating presence on the board and defines the Azra'il as the hunter that it is. 

Azra'il with Feuerbach:

Now don't get me wrong, I still like the Feuerbach. It’s main advantage over the AP HMG is a more forgiving range band. Instead of going to -3 mod if you shoot over 32 inches, the Feuerbach is a straight 0 which is a lot more forgiving if you misjudged your distances.The Feuerbach is only burst 2 at damage 14, but it adds DA ammunition to the AP, so you get less dice, but when you do hit, it hurts more. The Feuerbach has an explosive mode at burst 1 as well that is usually done in ARO, making your opponent think twice about what kind of moves they want to make in front of the Azra'il, so the Feuerbach gives a little more of an ARO edge than the AP HMG. It's not a bad weapon, I am just the kind of person that prefers more dice. The Feuerback is 2 points and .5 SWC less than the AP HMG, though, giving you more room in a list while still giving you a scary hunter. The Anti-Material characteristic also can't be ignored, because this allows you to destroy scenery, which is useful in missions like Nimbus Zone where destroying objectives is a tactic you may want to employ to deny points to your opponent. 

As usual, this really comes down to preference when it comes to choosing which load out you want for your Azra'il. I am a person who tends to favor more dice in the active turn, but that is my preference. I have used the Feuerbach and it is a fine weapon.

By now, it's clear that the Azra'il is meant to ruin people's day in offensive maneuvers, it truly is the hammer used to smash your opponent's forces… “But wait,” you say, “isn't that what the Al Fasid is for?” NOPE! If the Azra'il is the hammer, the Al Fasid is the anvil.

The Corrupted, the Al Fasid:

The updated lore for the Al Fasid right now is contained in the Red Veil booklet, so unless you have acquired Red Veil, you might not be familiar with the background behind the Al Fasid. In Arabic, Al Fasid means "The Corrupted," and relates to the Islamic religious concept of corruption. The reason for this is the Al Fasid are only chosen for their ability to do the job, no questions asked about their past. Because there is no need for them to share their past, it is generally assumed to be bad. The only concern they have when applicants sign up to be Al Fasid is that they can survive the grueling process and admission tests associated with it and that they have a solid operational record. Al Fasid are known for their willingness to do absolutely anything in order to get the job done because these soldiers don't care about glory. Some just enjoy it, others just want the paycheck and for some, it's all they know how to do.

Just as with the Azra'il, the lore gives us a hint as to what it's job is suppose to be. The Al Fasid is a little more of a utility piece than the purely offensive Azra'il. It's the rock that you anchor the rest of your forces to. That's not saying that an Al Fasid can't be used offensively, but both profiles of the Al Fasid really lend it to be a utility or defensive piece to help cover your flanks. Haqqislam lore often talks about how the Sword of Allah likes to use Hammer and Anvil tactics, and the Al Fasid most certainly fits the role of the Anvil as a solid backfield piece.

Just like the Azra'il, the movement of the Al Fasid is 4-2 but just like the Azra'il, you won't be moving them as much, especially as the anvil of your army. The Al Fasid also has a bit better stats than the Azra'il. The Al Fasid has 3 better CC bringing it to 15 instead of a 12, while you don’t want either of these units in CC, the little bump can make the difference against CC units trying to assassinate your HI. The Al Fasid also has a PH 14 which gives it a slightly better Dodge. Finally, the Al Fasid has a BTS of 6 instead of the Haqqislam standard of 3. Combine this with the fact that the Al Fasid has ARM 5 and it's a pretty tough target to take down. Your opponent will have to work to dislodge the Al Fasid from its position. The Al Fasid also has the typical Haqqislam HI BS of 13 so its shooting is in line with all the other HI. The rest of the stat line is as you expect as well, 2 wounds and S5.

Where the Al Fasid really shines, though, is the skills it gets. All Al Fasid are Minelayers, carrying antipersonnel mines, so you can place a mine out during deployment to better protect your backfield and your LT from things like infiltrators, impersonators or the occasional Van Zant. They also have Sixth Sense Level 1 so there is no sneaking up on them within 8 inches and no surprise shot/surprise attack allowing them to fire that heavy pistol that they all have. The final special status that the Al Fasid comes with is Veteran level 1 so the Al Fasid can't be isolated by any means, and the Al Fasid stays regular should you lose your LT or go into Retreat!. All this makes the Al Fasid an awesome unit. It is also the most expensive HI available to Haqqislam, but the Al Fasid most certainly earns its points, and it only gets better when you consider the loadouts that it gets. 

Al Fasid with HMG + (Smoke and Normal) Light Grenade Launcher

I really like this profile despite it being one of the most expensive unit in Haqqislam (Only Tarik and the Maghariba Guard cost more than this unit) because of the amount of things you can do with it. It is a jack-of-all-trades utility piece that can fill many roles in a list. It can be an offensive piece with the HMG and grenade launcher utilizing that BS 13 to eliminate things. It actually makes speculative firing worth it, you don't have to risk the Al Fasid when facing mimetism or ODD. You can also just choose to mow things down with the HMG as well. You get utility out of the Al Fasid because of the access to the smoke grenades, allowing you to put smoke cover to move units through or use a Djanbazan to fire through the smoke. By being a lot tougher than the other smoke delivery units in Haqqislam, the Al Fasid helps you keep access to smoke longer. The defensive nature comes from the fact that you can put the HMG into suppression to cover lanes while the Sixth Sense Lvl 1, Minelayer and Mines let the Al Fasid act defensively. I always find myself spending orders on this unit for some reason or another. This is what makes Red Veil worth buying, this unit is not only a great sculpt, but so useful. From what I have seen, people tend to use this profile a lot because of how much it can do. It's a tool box that likes to wear power armor. 

Al Fasid with Heavy Rocket Launcher and Submachine Gun

This profile I think doesn't get enough credit, mostly because people see the light grenade launcher that fires both smoke and normal grenades, get tunnel vision, and miss what this unit brings to the table. It's one of my favorite sculpts in Infinity too, shouldering the heavy rocket launcher while wielding that beautifully rendered SMG (Best looking gun in all of Infinity, hands down.) I also really like the profile. It's not a tool box like the other profile, but it is a solid defensive piece and it is 8 points cheaper than the HMG, making it easier to throw in a list. The heavy rocket launcher does only have burst 2, but I still like firing it offensively, especially at fireteams. That blast template forces your opponent to make some tough choices concerning their link. It is also a great ARO piece for the same reasons since it has a relatively forgiving range band. The Submachine gun not only helps to cover up close encounters, using AP or Shock depending on the target, but it also allows for the Al Fasid to close down lanes with Suppression. Might not be as good as an HMG, but it does give more options to this profile when it comes to the reactive turn. The other defensive capabilities are the same as with the HMG. I find this profile, though, to be an ideal body guard for obvious Lieutenants like Saladin. The defensive nature of this unit make it ideal for sitting in the backfield and protecting such things.

As you can see, an Al Fasid isn't a purely offensive piece like the Azra'il is. I won't necessarily spend orders on an Al Fasid like I do the Azra'il because of the amount of things an Al Fasid can do, usually to help support other units. While your Azra'il goes crashing forward raining destruction on your enemies, the Al Fasid is hanging back making sure the home front is nice and secure. One of my favorite ways to use the Al Fasid with HMG and grenade launcher is in support of units like the Khawarij or Tarik. Launching smoke to cover their advance so they can super jump to their heart's content in order to get into their threat ranges; meanwhile the Al Fasid can also cover them with HMG fire. Laying mines to ensure pesky infiltrators and AD troops have a tough time getting to your backfield or playing bodyguard to valuable pieces are the main job of the Al Fasid, using them as a hunter like the Azra'il is wasting their potential. The price difference between the two units is the selling point. If you are investing this amount of points into a unit, you have to make sure to use it to its maximum potential. If you want a power armored badass to kill stuff, stick with the Azra'il, since it is cheaper and that rampage is a much riskier undertaking.

The Hammer and the Anvil: The Destruction Duo!

I hope by now I was able to illustrate the differences between the Azra'il and Al Fasid, which are so similar, yet so different, because now I want to tell you my favorite use for them - working together. I love bringing both of them in a list. If you are playing vanilla Haqqislam, I suggest you try them together because they are an awesome force to behold, and will give your opponent a problem that they might not be used to facing in Haqqislam: two tough heavy infantry that sow destruction wherever they go. These two really highlight the Hammer and Anvil tactics favored by Haqqislam that I mentioned earlier, and I absolutely love it.

The best way to take them, in my opinion, is if you take the HMG of the one profile, choose the non-HMG choice of the other. My favorite combination: Azra'il AP HMG partnered with the Al Fasid with Heavy Rocket Launcher. You have the hunter in the AP HMG taking out tough targets while the solid defensive piece that is the Heavy Rocket Launcher able to cover the flank of the Azra'il. The best thing is once the Azra'il is done clearing things out, both can be placed into suppressive fire, making them incredibly hard to dislodge. The Rocket Launcher is there when you need something burnt (Like Camo/ODD or pesky space vegetables like Tohaa), or when you see a nice grouping that is begging for the attention of a template.

The other combination, Azra'il with Feuerbach and Al Fasid with HMG isn't bad either, but the Al Fasid has to pick up a bit more of the slack in the active turn. The Al Fasid in this instance probably will get a little more orders than the Azra'il because they kind of switch roles with the Azra'il being more of a cheaper ARO piece while the Al Fasid has more of an offensive capability. The tool box the Al Fasid brings is definitely where you want to be spending your orders, though, with the Azra'il there to take down your tougher targets. That AP + DA will be able to take down higher armored targets than the Al Fasid's HMG. Still, not a bad combination, especially if you want smoke coverage, which is something the previous combination lacked.

Now, I can feel it, why not just take both Al Fasid profiles? That's because of the expense of the Al Fasid. You can do it but they take a hefty chunk. The two Al Fasid together cost 98 points and 4 SWC, a large chunk of your list right there, which might be nice for Limited Insertion, but maybe not so much for regular 300 point games. The Azra'il AP HMG and Al Fasid with HRL is 86 points and 4 SWC. A 12 point difference - that could be another order. The Azra'il with Feuerbach and Al Fasid with HMG is 92 points, but you do save 3.5 SWC. That is a reason I like taking the Azra'il with AP HMG and Al Fasid with HRL, you get a lot for those points.

Finally, if you are playing limited insertion or just don't mind low order counts, throw a Janissary Ackbar Doctor when taking them in tandem like this. They both have cubes which means you can re-roll failed Doctor rolls, really making the Ackbar Doctor worth it. There is nothing like your heavy infantry standing back up at full wounds after an opponent spent so much to take them down. Honestly, the Janissary Doctor makes a great partner for either of them when taken solo as well due to that ability.

Both units are great weapons platforms and I suggest using them both, whether solo, which is how I like to use the Al Fasid with HMG, or in the tandem roles I just pointed out. Both S5 power armors have a clear and present niche within Haqqislam, something you can't often say about some power armor laden factions, and neither overshadows the other. I hope this has inspired you to use both the Azra'il and the Al Fasid to their fullest potential. Until next time, my friends, continue seeking knowledge, mashallah! 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Flamia Files: Part 3

Here we are once again for the third week to bring you another edition of the Flamia Files. With Wotan soon wrapping up, I will definitely be publishing my battle reports from those right after this. There are probably one or two more parts to the Flamia Files before heading into the Wotan storyline which will pick up after this. I was reading through these and realized that my friend and I were never able to conclude this story line which I will do here once the final battle report is finished. Without further delay, let's get into the third part of the Flamia Files!
For those who have missed the first to parts they can be found at the following links:
Flamia Files: Part 1
Flamia Files: Part 2 

The Price Paid in War

+++The following account is taken from Lieutenant Fadi, the lone survivor of a biotech virus attack on Tianxian perpetrated by a rogue element within the Military Orders of PanOceania known as Xandis. This report has been submitted to Hassassin Bahram for review to determine the threat posed by this Xandis and what further action is to be taken. The account details of the final moments of a squad in the Guardian Falcons of Qapu Khalqi. The command of the Guardian Falcons belongs to one Envihon who was away in command of a different squad forewarned about the attack thanks to a Lieutenant Garret surrendering to his forces and warning Envihon. The account is as follows:+++

The attack happened fast and we weren’t prepared for it at all. We were on a routine security patrol safe guarding the portions of Tianxian that Haqqislam controlled when the sirens blasted about a coming blast but these weren’t the usually bomb sirens. These were the ones that indicated a biochemcial hazard release. I radioed my team to move into the safe zones quickly. I coordinated with the Ghulam Doctor I was with…I forget her name now, and it pains me to but as we were moving to position a sniper shot for a TO Camoed Order Sergeant range out and shot her unconcious…there was nothing I could do except take cover as best as I could.
I ordered the Azra’il to move into position to take out the sniper but he was having trouble locking down on the target and there was a Father Knight as well that was giving them trouble. A Yuan yuan dropped down in front of me but she was in the clear so I ordered her to hold. Her partner moved up to provide smoke coverage and allow the others to move out of the danger zones and then the Odalisques that were with us moved up in position. They were taking constant fire but they made it to the safe area fine. The fireteam with the Azra’il then took point and finally a lucky shot brought down the sniper allowing me to join the Yuan Yuan in cover and out of the safe zone. The Shihab, Kaplan Engineer and Ghulam along with the Yuan yuan moved up into an exposed position but they were out of the danger zones. The Azra’il and Hafzas took position along the wall waiting for the rest of the Military Order forces to advance on them and advanced they did. The only causality to die of the biotech virus was the Doctor since her body had to be left behind…

From there, it was a slaughter…the Shihab remote tried to get the Magisters as they left their backfield but it missed. A warrior woman advanced on the Odalisque position and they shot tried to shoot but it just didn’t work but the warrior woman found the Odalisques to be more of a match as their i-Khol took the mysterious woman by surprise. The Husam Spec Ops was able to hack one of the Magisters and stop them but it didn’t slow them down and they began to slaughter the Hafzas. Our forces were brought into temporary reprieve when the Military Orders Lieutenant died…I think maybe to the plague they released but I am not sure in all the chaos…but it unleashed the Magisters even more as they began advance. The chaos there was overwhelming that I don’t remember it…shotgun blasts rang out and the Azra’il tried but it too was brought down. The Kaplan tried to help but was taken down along with the remote. There was nothing we could do. The Yuan yuan I was with eventually left to go kill something but she was taken down by Fusilier gun fire.
The Odalisques held their own against the warrior woman, matching blow for blow with their pheromones disorientating their assailant. An Odalisque stepped out and wounded a Magister but she was soon gunned down as well. The woman took a wound but eventually landed a blow killing the Odalisque. That was when the last Odalisque opened fire with shotgun finally killing the warrior woman but she too died at the Magisters fury. At least they made them pay for it…
It was chaos…a massacre…there was nothing we could do…in the aftermath, I was able to gather everyone’s cube but that didn’t make up for the fact that we were utterly destroyed. This isn’t even counting all the civilians who died because of the attack, hundreds…needlessly dead for what? Do we even know?

+++That is the end of the report. Lieutenant Fadi will be entering a mental health program to treat him for his PTSD. Whether he returns to active duty or not, only time and treatment will tell. It is a shame when a good soldier like this is broken.+++
***Envihon’s personal notes after reviewing the battle. To be submitted to Hassassin Bahram along with mission report for further analysis***
The intelligence received about this attack shows that this now infamous Xandis was behind the attack. What drove him to perform such an act is still unclear. The medical supplies coup was one thing, but the biotech virus release is quite another. This is a dangerous individual. As I have stated before, his behavior doesn’t match that of a typical PanOceanian, they are bullies for sure and will throw their weight around but to release a biotech virus to complete his ends? To have one victory? I have looked into it and it would seem that this battle follows a string of losses at his command. He probably has been getting desperate for some recognition that he finally broke. He decided that if his tactics weren’t going to do it for him, might as well swing the odds in his favor by doing something like killing hundreds of innocents and one of my squads with a biotech virus. He’s now a mad dog without a leash and PanOceania will eventually regret doing that. I actually feel bad for PanOceania.
Even now, they try to say that we are the ones that released the virus to some how save face. Luckily, people aren’t buying it. The people know who protect them and won’t turn on Haqqislam, no matter how much libel PanOceania spews. He needs to be stopped, either by our hands or another.
***End of notes.***

In Pursuit of Justice

***Intelligence Communications Between a Hassassin Govad known as Cerathian and the Qapu Khalqi commander known as Envihon***
Cerathian (C): Commander Envihon, we have some new intelligence on the enigmatic individual within the Military Orders known as Xandis. With how your team has been affected by his actions, we thought you would personally like to look into the matter.
Envihon (E): Well, in that case, you have my attention. Who is this Xandis and why did the PanOceania Lieutenant say he was hunting me? I want to know if my actions did indeed lead to the horrors at Tianxian.
C: Good, I was hoping to peak your interests. Your actions in the field during the conflict of Flamia Island do seem to be connected to Xandis. Your unit has come in contact with him before. During one of your missions when they were protecting a medical transport that was delivering medical supplies to Camp Antela, Military Order forces that Xandis was in ambushed the convoy. It was during their offensive against Antela and they didn’t like the fact that the medical supplies were destined to help Ariadnan citizens not involved with conflict. PanOceania still took offense to this and saw it as aiding the enemy…
E: Those civilians didn’t ask for this war…
C: Envihon, we know how you feel about this. We know how arrogant the PanOceanians are. Any action that they don’t see as directly beneficial to themselves is an act against them. We can’t fix this attitude so regardless of the moral implications of the attack, the Military Order forces still attacked your forces who were guarding the medical transports to prevent the supplies from their intended destination. Fortunately, you used the PanOceanian arrogance against themselves and they underestimated how the Paradiso jungle can act like an enemy itself. You utterly annihilated them. Xandis was an Indigo Spec Ops during the mission and was brought down swiftly by a Djanbazan sniper. His cube was captured but then exchanged in a prisoner swap. This is how we have this information. We downloaded all the information before handing them back to the PanOceania forces. Apparently, he was then resurrected and suppose to be discharged for his gross failure but he made a deal with his command. Enter his radicalization and zealotry which spurned on a vendetta against your forces. His continued losses made him select a most extreme means to finally achieve victory…
E: The Incident at TianXian…
C: The incident at TianXian…yes, it was an attempt to remove you and the Guardian Falcons from delivering the medical supplies once and for all. The plan was to make it look like we have been smuggling weapons but the fail safe was if they failed to release the biotech virus to ensure that the Guardian Falcons were no more. Luckily that Lieutenant warned your forces but the Falcons still took casualties and of course, the price the civilian population paid. No cost was too high it would seem…the virus even killed PanOceania forces but they still authorized it which is odd for PanOceania. They want to win but they always had some honor in doing and if this was Yu Jing, I wouldn’t be surprised but PanO…it’s just weird. Which is why it’s the opinion of Hassassin Bahram that this Xandis is a rogue agent still under the protection of PanOceania. His vengeance has made him reckless and dangerous. He will stop at nothing until he makes amends for the loss at Antela. For this, he is now a target for Hassassin Bahram to be eliminated.
E: Okay, who are you sending in?
C: You, we are taking you out of sleeper status. We felt it was good for you to deal with this personally since you have been so passionate about facing the PanOceania forces and Xandis himself.
E: My unit will notice my absence.
C: Already taken care of. They are being sent to Zhurong. They already know of your leave of absence, it was unexpected but needed for the major offensive. They understood, quite a team of loyal men you have.
E: That is what happens when you are more than just a face or a name to them. Well, time to dust off the old viral rifle.
C: Good, a team is standing by for you in the field. We have Xandis’ location but access to the facility is difficult. The mission is to ambush PanOceania attacking Aranda. We have identified individuals who are connected to Xandis and who would have access to the facility. Eliminate one of those individuals and obtain their cube so that we may extract the information we need.
E: Isn’t PanOceania the main force that could take back Aranda from the Combined Army and place it back into the hands of Humanity? To attack them there would be in direct opposition of Haqqislam’s goal to help humanity…
C: Negative Commander. Our reports show that the biotech virus had a hand in eliminating the Nomad forces holding the city which allowed the Combined Army to take Aranda in the first place. Finding and eliminating Xandis is of the utmost importance before he does something else that helps the Combined Army to get another foothold in Human Sphere territory. This small infraction on PanOceania forces in Aranda is but a small price to pay for the eventual elimination of the dangerous criminal known as Xandis. Good luck brother.
***End of Intelligence Communications***

+++Top Secret Report from Hassassin Envihon+++
The operation to Aranda didn’t go as well as planned but the main objective was complete. For once, we were on the offensive. I attached myself to a contingent of specially trained Ghulam unit that was hand picked for this mission. Our early scouting showed that the PanOceania forces were heavily entrenched. It wasn’t because they had detected us though, the fighting for them had been hard against the Combined Army, in the distance you could always hear distance gun fire and explosions. The Combined Army had hit hard and PanOceania was doing everything they could do to make a dent in the Combined Army forces. They were ready too, with a heavy defensive line established. This defensive line would do a lot to stop our forces from doing anything besides completing our mission.

We had a Fiday who infiltrated their lines in order to get close to their Fusilier Lieutenant. They didn’t suspect a thing as he ran a distraction so we could get the rest of our forces set up to take the offensive. We were able to establish a Shihab remote to cover any forward advance. Our Muyib, Barid, Lasiq and Fiday operatives got into position as we coordinated our strike. The first offensive maneuver was for the infiltrating Fiday to eliminate their leadership at the start of the mission, which he pulled off flawlessly, the Fusilier did not have any time to react but unfortunately when his cover was revealed which resulted in the fate the awaits many Fidays, death and honor in sacrifice for Haqqislam.

The chaos that resulted from this allowed our Fiday on our lines to put out several mines in order to stop any advance from the PanOceanian forces while remaining secret. Our Muttawia’ah that we had also brought along were able to sneak forward as the defensive lines were distracted. It was then that our Muyib fired off several rockets at their defensive line to no avail, they were heavily protected from their vantage point. The Lasiq then advanced forward to get into an advantageous spot to lay down suppressive viral fire but it never got the chance after what happened next.

The PanOceania forces reacted quickly by dropping two Crusaders into out lines. The one from the right struck quickly to mow down the Barid operative with HMG fire while the other dropped behind the Lasiq and gunned him down. The Lasiq could do nothing to safe himself as the Crusader unloaded into the unsuspecting Lasiq’s back, the Lasiq did not survive the Crusader’s well timed attack. This allowed him to move further into our lines where the Shihab opened fire but was ineffective in it’s mission and was also gunned down by the wayward Crusader allowing him to take position to try and flank our Muyib that was raining rockets down onto the defensive team.

This is when I called in the Ragiks to provide counter relief to our forces. One with a spitfire landed behind the Crusader with the HMG where he gunned him down avenging the Barid’s death. The second, landed beyond the flanking Crusader but lost in a shotgun shootout. This is where the Muttawia’ah moved in to isolate the Crusader and then using their chain rifles finally bringing the Crusader down while sacrificing themselves for Haqqislam. The unconscious Crusader finally presented itself with the opportunity we were looking for to complete our mission. The surviving Fiday came under the second group’s authority and moved under my orders to engage the Crusader. He took back to his disguise to move with impunity. He stepped up to slit the Crusader’s throat ending his life and providing the opportunity we needed to extract his cube in order to gain the information we needed to get into the PanOceania facility.
We took heavy casualties but such is the way of the Hassassin Bahram, sacrifice is needed for victory. We ended in a stalemate with the opposing forces but we will win this war with Xandis as his days are now numbered. In the end, we may have not achieved total victory, this Crusader known as Angel is now under our control thanks to him giving us his cube on a silver platter.

We move to extract…be ready for our signal.

***Personal Remarks***
The PanOceania forces are getting better. We weren’t expecting such a heavily defended position and it definitely cost us some men. I did not know those that gave their lives today, that is sacrifice of being Hassassin Bahram but I know they died believing in what they fought for. People like Xandis must be brought to justice and PanOceania has left us no other choice by to act through Hassassin Bahram to achieve victory. Everyone answers for their crimes whether in this world or the next, no one escapes judgement. I will personally ensure that Xandis comes to terms with his crimes.
+++End Report+++

That is the end of Part 3, I hoped you enjoyed it. As always, my friend, until next time, continue to seek knowledge! Mashallah.