Friday, May 12, 2017

The Struggle Between Vanilla and Sectorials

One of the biggest decisions that anyone makes when beginning any war game is what army to play. Infinity is unique because Corvus Belli has not only created the major factions in the game, but has further divided those factions into smaller, more focused armies known as Sectorials; each with their own benefits and tactics. This has sparked a debate about which is better: playing the generic faction lovingly called “vanilla” by the fan base, or Sectorials. Well, I am here to tell you that neither is better than the other and it depends on what your play style is, as well as what you are trying to get out of the army that would determine whether you should play vanilla or a Sectorial. This is the next subject we are going to dive into here on the Sword of Haqqislam -  determining if you are a vanilla player, Sectorial player, or a Hybrid player. 

Determining which is best for you will take some self reflection, and evaluation of past performances to find out what works for you and what doesn't. People approach this game from different angles all the time, and how they utilize a faction or army might differ greatly compared to how you approach the same faction. What I want to do here, though, is go through the pros and cons of playing vanilla armies and the pros and cons of playing Sectorials to help you make this decision. I will say right off the bat, if I get asked by a new player whether they should go vanilla or Sectorial, I usually tell them to go with vanilla to learn the game even if they have an interest in a Sectorial. I usually tell them to buy that Sectorial starter and then play like you are playing vanilla until you get the basics down. Once you have the basics down and feel comfortable playing is when I would start evaluating where you stand whether to stick to vanilla or go to a Sectorial. 

I am a hybrid player and I suspect many people are as well, but there is nothing wrong with being just a vanilla player or just a Sectorial player. The greatest thing about Infinity is the amount that you can customize and format your army to how you play. Sure, the factions have their strengths and weaknesses, but other than that, you can pretty much tackle any faction in the way you want, which might be completely different with how someone else approaches the same exact faction. Use this article to help you determine how you want to approach a faction. With that being said let's get into the meat of the article. 

The Differences in List Building. 

The first difference you have probably already noticed is the availability of units that in vanilla and Sectorials. Vanilla gets access to a much wider range and diverse unit selection than Sectorials do. Sectorials have access to a smaller variety of units, but can often take more of those units that belong to that Sectorial. This leads to different list building strategies and challenges for each. This alone can be a deciding factor for many people without even getting into the other differences between vanilla play and Sectorial play. 

The main advantage of playing vanilla is the wide access to units of the entire faction. This might not be as immediate or flashy an advantage as fireteams are in Sectorials, but it is a huge advantage, one that I think people sometimes underestimate. I didn't fully appreciate this advantage until I had played Qapu Khalqi for over a year and then switched to vanilla. What the diversity in unit selection allows is the ability to easily capitalize on a factions advantages while being able to mitigate the weaknesses to a greater degree than Sectorials can. What I mean by this is that you can establish a synergy between units that you wouldn't otherwise be able to in a Sectorial since Sectorials restrict the diversity of a faction. 

One of these synergies in Haqqislam is being able to take a better camouflage infiltration list. Al Hawwa are AVA 3 in QK and only AVA 1 in vanilla, but in vanilla, the Al Hawwa joins its fellow camouflage infiltrators like the Tuareg and Hunzakut, allowing for a greater diversity in list construction and allowing for these other infiltrators to cover the weaknesses of the Al Hawwa (Like the fact that Tuareg and Hunzakut specialists have mines and the Hawwa does not). It also lets you be more unpredictable to your opponent since, if you are playing QK, anyone who knows the army, knows that the only camouflage unit in QK is the Hawwa so they can start to make countermeasures. When you have a Hunzakut joining the Hawwa, then your opponent doesn't know which is which and needs to be more cautious when approaching those camo markers. 

For most unit profiles, AVA is higher in a Sectorial than in vanilla, allowing you to take more of a unit that you like. If you have a simple preference for a unit that you really like and you want an excuse to field more of them, the Sectorial gives you this option. This also ties into theme as well. Some armies like Caledonian Highlander Army or the Japanese Sectorial Army, have a theme around a certain culture that may interest you. These units may be available in vanilla but the theme gets diluted among the other units available in vanilla. I have even noticed that some players play better when they’re more excited about, and thus invested in, the army they have down on the table.

There is one place that Sectorials do have an edge on vanilla when it comes to a diverse unit selection and that is in having access to what I have called Sectorial Mercenaries. These are Mercenaries that are only available by playing a certain Sectorials. These include Mercenaries like McMurrough in Caledonia and Corregidor, Avicenna in Hassassin Bahram and Bakunin, and even the new Major Lunah for Imperial Secret Service. Generally, there are lore reasons for why these Mercenaries are so restricted. There are vanilla Mercenaries as well to consider, though, these are the Mercenaries that every faction has access to, units like the Krakot Renegade or Miranda Ashcroft but you will see these units pop up in certain Sectorials like the Krakot in the Morat Aggression Force or Miranda in Imperial Secret Service so they aren't exactly exclusive to vanilla like the Sectorial Mercenaries are.

This leads into the other point is that Sectorials have more obvious weaknesses than vanilla does due to their limited unit selection. When you cut down on the diversity of the list, you highlight the strengths of an army, but at the same time, you also accentuate the weaknesses. Every faction has its weaknesses, they need to in order to have balanced game play, but in vanilla, it's a little easier to mitigate these weaknesses by varying up the lists you take every time. Now, I am not saying that Sectorials can't cover their weaknesses, but the weaknesses of Sectorials can be more obvious and easier to exploit by a knowledgeable opponent since there is only so much variety you can take within a Sectorial. Sectorials only have a few ways to cover their weaknesses which may become predictable even from player to player.


I hate to do this but it is a problem that has to be talked about because there is a downside to vanilla's diverse unit selection. This problem is overshadowing which occurs in two ways, one minor, and one major. 

Minor overshadowing is when a unit only has a few useful profiles in vanilla and the only time you would use the other profiles is in the Sectorial when you have a restricted unit selection. A good example of this is the Djanbazan and its role within Haqqislam. The Djanbazan is a medium infantry with 4-2 movement, ARM 3, BTS 0 and most importantly comes with a Multi-Spectral Visor (MSV) Level 2 allowing it never have negative mods for Mimetism, ODD or Camo of any kind. It also can shoot through smoke which Haqqislam has in spades to help do that wonderful smoke trick. Djanbazan also have Multiterrain and Regeneration making them a great boon to both Haqqislam and Qapu Khalqi (QK), the two armies in which they are found. All this makes them the perfect hunters of any enemy troop which imposes negative mods towards BS. That preferred usage means their heavy machine gun (HMG), sniper rifle and shock marksman rifle are all put to use in both vanilla and QK, but the Djanbazan also has access to two specialists: a Doctor and a Hacker. They are good, survivable units, but vanilla has access to units that are suited better in those roles for a variety of reasons. There are just more efficient ways to use your points than putting them into a Djanbazan Doctor or Hacker when playing vanilla. Playing QK, on the other hand, you are way more likely to take a Djanbazan Doctor or Hacker because the Djanbazan have Fireteam: Core in that Sectorial. Using the Core Link, you now have a way to deliver your specialists to press buttons because they have the HMG and Sniper Rifle clearing the path, so you’re much more likely to use those specialist profiles.

More significantly than individual profiles being less useful in vanilla, is you may find entire units less desirable while playing vanilla. For this example, I am actually going to venture out of Haqqislam and use my newly found allies of Caledonia and Ariadna. Caledonia is a great Sectorial filled with some awesome units that I absolutely love (Hence why it's the first army to take me away from Haqqislam...that and Tunguska isn't released yet as well as my love for Celtic stuff, yes I wear a kilt!) but many of its units are overshadowed in vanilla Ariadna, mostly by their Kazak comrades which just delights our friend over in Pride of Rodina. Many of the Kazak units fill the same role as the Caledonian units but do so better for the same, or a comparable amount, of points. The only reason to take a Scots Guard is for their heavy weapons in camouflage but why take them when you can take a Tank Hunter which does the same job but can cover a Classified Objective as well. The same goes for taking a SAS in vanilla when you have access to the Ariadna Scout who not only gets Markmanship level 1 but has D-charges with Mines and a better weapon for just 6 points over the SAS. The king of all overshadows though, is how much the Veteran Kazak overshadows all the heavy infantry except maybe for the Blackjack, especially one of my favored units because they look awesome, the Mormaer. All Ariadna HI are shock immune with one wound and this is where the Veteran Kazak outshines all them because the Kazak has No Wound Incapacitation thanks Veteran L2 along with things like Mimetism. The best my Caledonian HI can do is Dogged (And they are expensive to deal a guaranteed death sentence to, these aren't 5 point Mutts who you can just lose but 29+ point powerhouses that hurt to lose) but Kazaks have virtually the same load out and role in Ariadna and they simply outclass all the other HIs.  If I would want a Heavy Infantry bad ass dealing death in vanilla Ariadna, it's either a Blackjack or Veteran Kazak. I wouldn't even give the others a second glance. To really enjoy Caledonia and what makes it awesome, I have to play the Sectorial. It isn't that Caledonia is full of bad units, they really aren't. They kick a lot of ass and I enjoy playing them a lot but there are just better choices in the Kazaks when playing vanilla Ariadna. Volunteers, for cheap orders and the Cateran are pretty much the only things that see much vanilla play time. 

Is overshadowing a problem? Yes and no. There is certainly an argument that could be made for every unit, but it can be hard to choose the model you think looks cool over the one that’s probably better to do the same task. On the flip side, this is one of the reasons to take a Sectorial if you love certain aspects of a faction. I love all the units in Caledonia, so taking the Sectorial is an ideal choice for me. Another plus is my purchases are limited to Caledonian units, which is a concern for some players. 

That being said, if you are a vanilla player who doesn't much care for Sectorials, play the units that you like. As I have said, the units that are overshadowed aren't bad units, there are just more efficient units to take in their stead if you are trying to best optimize your list. Taking those units means you might have to change something else in your list to help compensate for taking that unit that you like, and there is nothing wrong with that. The beauty of Infinity is adapting your army to your play style, and, as we have discussed this entire article, playing vanilla allows you to do this easily. Evaluating the concern about overshadowing in vanilla isn't meant to discourage people from using the units they like, but merely making people aware of the existence of overshadowing for those whose main focus is getting the most efficient point use within their armies. There is no net listing in Infinity and there is no one way to play a faction, so if you want to use Scots Guard instead of Tank Hunters, do it. Your list won't be bad because of it. Just make sure to cover all your bases when making the rest of your list.

Fireteams: The Main Advantage of Sectorials

The obvious reason to take Sectorials is the ability to form Fireteams. The fireteam bonuses are what gives Sectorials an edge over vanilla that is hard to ignore, especially for some new players. I preached about diversity, because there is a certain subtlety to that advantage that everyone might not realize at first. Fireteam bonuses, on the other hand, is something people immediately understand. Understandably, there are players that gravitate towards them once they find out about them. 

Looking over the bonuses, you can definitely see why some become strict Sectorial players. For a three man fireteam, you get an extra burst to BS weapons even in ARO. Four man fireteam gets you access to Sixth Sense Level 2 and the five man fireteam you get +3 to BS Attack Rolls. This improves the ability of the units in a fireteam considerably to help them deal with challenges that would be overwhelming outside of a link. For example, +3 to BS rolls effectively cancels the camo without paying for a model with MSV1+. The added burst helps because extra dice to help defeat opposing rolls is never a bad thing, you can bury your opponent in dice during the active turn with high burst weapons, more effectively split fire or turn low burst weapons into formidable active turn weapons (Burst 2 Missile Launcher can be downright terrifying). Having 2 burst in ARO is also a powerful thing, especially if you have multiple fireteam members in line of sight to ARO. That can easily turn the tables in your favor in your inactive turn and will likely make your opponent think twice about taking the fireteam head on. Sixth Sense Level 2 also allows the members of the fireteam to never be caught off guard and be able to respond at their fullest capability, no getting shot in the back or -3 to dodge because you don't have line of sight. This makes it so that both offensive and defensive fireteams are really hard to deal with. If you don’t have any immediate way to match those bonuses, you have to have more creative solutions in order to deal with an entrenched fireteam.

That's just the bonuses too, the other thing you get with Fireteams is order efficiency since you can move multiple units with one order, something that a vanilla player has to expend their precious command tokens in order to achieve. This also frees up the usage of command tokens some for Sectorial players, allowing them to move even more models up, faster. Since the fireteam moves with one order, it also means they only generate one ARO for everyone in the team, allowing for clever positioning and making your opponent think more about how they will respond with their ARO towards your Fireteam. This means delivering specialists to objectives as well as establishing a midfield presence to shut down enemy advances is easier for a Sectorial army than it is for a vanilla army since Sectorial armies can move multiple models with fewer orders and generate less ARO threats. With all the bonuses gained through Fireteams, a Sectorial really can make up for the lack of diverse units that vanilla has.

The Downfalls of Fireteams

Even with all these benefits, though, there are some downsides to taking fireteams. For one, the bonuses granted of fireteams can be taken away by an opponent breaking up the link by either killing or isolating members of the fireteam. If the member that has been taken out of the link for whatever reason is the link leader, the link is broken and you will have to spend a command token to reform the link with the remaining members. The bonuses will also begin to dwindle as the available team members are taken down. This means you have to take measures to keep your link team survivable or keep a pool of available members to replace their fallen comrades (which is possible especially if you are a person who favors line troops fireteams instead of the beefy more survivable fireteams). This does mean, though, that the Sectorial fireteam bonuses are finite during a mission and a skilled vanilla player can use their own tool box to level the playing field. 

Another problem is that everyone in a fireteam has to do the same ARO. If you are facing off against an impact template, for example, and choose to shoot, any link members affected by the template, but not involved in the face-to-face, just have to eat the template. This is why many choose to have everyone dodge instead of firing back at the enemy to better keep their fireteam intact. This can be prevented by learning to keep your fireteam spread out so your opponent can't lay down a template over multiple units. It is something to keep in mind when you are moving your fireteam around the field of battle. 

Finally, taking fireteams also gives your opponent a place to focus their efforts on in order to help cripple your advance. Fireteams certainly come with all those wonderful bonuses, but at the same time that is a beacon to your opponent to destroy that fireteam to take away the advantages given by them. I know when I switched back to vanilla after playing QK for so long, one of the comments that my friend gave to me is that he had a hard time deciding what to go after since I didn't have a link team for him to focus his efforts on. This can be mitigated through proper deployment and movement to punish your opponent for coming after your fireteam, but nothing is ever foolproof, especially if you are facing an opponent that love their tricks or a relentless opponent who doesn't have to care so much about casualties and can constantly send threats to break your fireteam. Losing your fireteam early game can be crippling depending on how crucial that fireteam was to your overall strategy which is why you will hear that some players don't like investing a lot of points into their fireteams. It's too much of hanging a sign on those units saying "Come kill me and you win!". It all depends on your play style, and the capabilities of the fireteam you have taken, but losing your fireteam is an important thing to think about when taking a Sectorial and the strategies you plan. 

In the End, It's Up to You

This was only a broad overview of the large compare and contrasts of playing vanilla vs. Sectorials. I know I didn't cover everything here because there are a lot of nuances between factions and their Sectorials that might not always fit in the broad strokes I just took in going over this. I am sure there are things I forgot, or could go into more detail about, but this is meant to be an introduction to serve as a beginning of whether you may want to play either vanilla or a Sectorial, or both. It was not meant to be comprehensive in anyway.

I wanted to show that there are advantages and disadvantages to both, but neither is the right, or the wrong way to play. It really depends on you and who you are as a player. Finding out what works for you is what I love about Infinity; no one can tell you how to play. They can give you tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your army, but in the end, they can't tell you how to play your army and players interpret the same armies in different ways that may surprise you. There is no net listing in Infinity, because even if you look at someone else's list, the way they use that list and the way you may use the same list might be totally different. So get out there and explore your army, find out what works for you. Go forth and find out if you are a vanilla, Sectorial or Hybrid player. Make sure you have fun with that journey as well. As always, my friend, until next time, continue to seek knowledge!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Broken Innocence

Well, it has once more been a while since I published something. Sorry about that guys, life has been a little more turbulent than I thought it was going to be, but, things should be calming down now, so I should be able to post some more in the future once a regular schedule sets in... maybe... We will see how things work out. 

We are going to change it up this time, though, because I like to write creatively from time to time, and I wanted to bring you a short story I wrote in the Infinity universe giving you a little more insight on who Envihon is and his duty to Haqqislam.

So, without further delay, I bring to you. "Broken Innocence":

***The text that follows is the personal accounts of Hassassin Envihon within his service in the Sword of Allah, Haqqislamite Armed Forces. The information is deemed classified and any public distribution of these documents would yield a severe penalty. Use of these documents must be cleared with the Hassassin Society. This report was taken from Envihon on his reasons for joining the Hassassin Society as inspiration for new recruits.***

We all have our defining moments. Those things that will go on to shape who we are. Mine can be summed up with a single word: Terrorism.

I was only a child when I learned that the Human Sphere isn't what it seems, and the image that O-12 likes to paint for us is just something they cook up to keep mass panic down. It isn't even the aliens you have to worry about, but the shadow war that engulfs the Human Sphere. We like to make it seem like the Combined Army is our biggest threat but one just has to look back at human history to see that we do a good enough job of wiping ourselves out. Humans need things like the Hassassin Society to keep our darkness at bay, to save us from our selfishness. 

I'm sorry, I know what this must sound like. I try not to be this pessimistic, but, when I think about this event in my childhood, I go to a dark place. One doesn't live through something like this and come out thinking that the galaxy is unicorns and rainbows. It leaves a scar, and no matter how much I talk about it, or get help for it, the scar is still there. It's a constant reminder of why I do what I do. Why I chose to go beyond just my service to the Sword of Allah, why I became a shadow guardian to humanity. It was this event that would light my path to become a part of the Hassassin Society. We must stand against the darkness, we must be the light, so that humanity can stand once again in a golden age. This incident didn't bring me down, it merely knocked me down. I stood back up, emboldened to become a protector of humanity. To protect the Search for Knowledge is the most noble pursuit a Haqqislamite can undertake. 

Now, I am getting ahead of myself again. Apologies. If you look into my record, you will see that I am of American descent. My family was a part of the American refugees from NASA when Haqqislam petitioned them to help find what we now know as Bourak and then to help Haqqislam get off Earth to settle there. Now my family are loyal and grateful citizens of Haqqislam. With what they did for American refugees after the collapse of the United States, how couldn't we be? Everyone was just trying to feed off the carcass of the U.S. and the Haqqislamite government were the only ones to extend a helping hand.

Though, this wasn't enough for them to convert to Islam, we had friends that did it but my family held onto the traditions they had from America. This is the reason why I am the only Muslim in my family. The reason why I eventually converted to Haqqislam lies in what happened on Acontecimento which is the real subject of this report.

My father is a Planetologist for the Bourak Academy of Planetology and he is extremely passionate about it. This is why he planned a vacation for us and another American family, that we were close friends with, to Acontecimento. If only I could express in words how much my father marveled Acontecimento. Even though it was a PanOceanian planet, you could not understand how important this trip was to him. He loves knowledge and the chance to visit the great jungle planet to understand it more was something my father could not resist. It took some convincing, but my mother finally gave in as long as my father made it an actual vacation and not just about my father's work. Something easier said than done for my father, but he reluctantly agreed to the terms. 

In the wake of the Commercial Conflicts, though, and since technically, my father would be on official business, our plans were slightly altered. The Bureau of International Relations on Bourak contacted Qapu Khalqi and had two Janissary bodyguards assigned to my family. We all thought that they were overkill, but there was no way for us to refuse, the Human Sphere was on an the edge of a knife even back then and the government did not want to risk it.

As we boarded the space elevator, Janissary Haluk and Janissary Sila flanked us; ever vigilant even though we hadn't even left Bourak. I marveled at them back then, their gleaming green power armor shining in the Bourak sun as we rode the elevator to the space docks. No cubes to speak of, willing to die for my family, for Haqqislam. To a child like me, they were awe inspiring. Many of them weren't even Haqqislamite... being either Delivered or Donated... it let a dhimmi like myself dream of being like them, but I knew my parents would never give me up to be the Donated. Too much pride in our American traditions. So I sat there staring at them. Sila noticed my gaze and she gave me a reassuring nod before resuming her vigilance.

There isn't much to say about the trip to Acontecimento. We took in many of the amenities that my father's position allowed and it was an uneventful journey. Our body guards even opened up a little. Haluk, we found out, was one of the Orphaned, his parents had died in the Silk Revolts. He wouldn't go into details but he mentioned that they were a part of the Sekban volunteers before they had been reformed into the elite unit they are now. It was only fitting that he served as well. Sila was a Donated American refugee and chose the assignment when their command asked for volunteers. She may have fully converted to Haqqislam but she liked the thought of protecting fellow American descendants. Her family wasn't as well off as ours when they sought asylum with Haqqislam, so this was one way for her family to show their loyalty, as well as her chance at a better life. My family was more than delighted to have her protecting us, myself especially. I almost felt that I was a burden to her with how much I hung around her. If I was, she never let on, indeed, I felt that she almost encouraged me.

When I wasn't acting like Sila's shadow, I spent time with my friend, Alex, who was the son of the other family we were traveling with. Like most ethnic groups, we were from the same neighborhood on Bourak, and our families had been friends for quite a while, so my father asked them if they wanted to join us on our venture, since it would give my mother something to do while my father was on official business. They weren't with the government so they didn't have any bodyguards like we did, but my father was able to at least get them a room at the embassy with us. Alex and I were quite excited for the prospect of an adventure to a foreign world since this would be our first time off world. For the first decade of our lives, we only knew Bourak, despite our fathers’ careers taking them off world many times.

I won't bore you with the details of our trip to Acontecimento. Now that I travel quite frequently, I know it was a fairly mundane transit even if it was the most exciting thing to happen to me at the time. Things didn't get strange until we arrived at the planet when I remember my father talking of heightened security measures for PanOceania and its only in hindsight that I really ever took notice of it. On our arrival to the planet's surface, we were picked up by official vehicles and taken to the Haqqislam Embassy on Acontecimento. Every so often when PanOceania finally decided to humble themselves, they like to collaborate with Haqqislamite universities on studying the ecology of Acontecimento, an opportunity that neither my father nor Haqqislam would take for granted.

Luckily though, my father booked our arrival for a weekend so that he could at least spend a couple of days with his family on the vacation part of our trip before starting his work during the week. Despite what happened, I remember that weekend quite fondly. Acontecimento was certainly a beautiful planet from their great forests to the blue oceans. We never saw the great agricultural expanses or the vast industrial complexes that were on the planet in our time there, only the touristy beautiful places that you would see on a travel vid. It was still stunning, I can see why there are groups dedicated to preserving the forests of Acontecimento. That weekend was wonderful, a false pretense to an event that would shatter my world and send me on a journey I could never have expected.

The week began with my father departing to do his work while we, along with Alex's family, had a day in the city planned. It was a sunny calm day as we went to a local park to have breakfast before we set out for the day’s activities. Our Janissary body guards were close by but they were no longer wearing their power armor since we were on foreign soil during an already tense time. Instead they wore concealed body armor and weapons. Vigilant as they had always been, I don't even think they were ready for what happened that morning.

I remember that Alex and I were running around the park and he had run near the park entrance across from the bakery where we had purchased our breakfast when a series of loud booms went off that made us all freeze. Then there was smoke in the street, people were screaming and chaos was erupting. Our parents were shouting for us when another series of blasts went off. I looked towards Alex only to see him swallowed in smoke from the next blast. The concussive force knocked me to the ground as debris from the blast hit me. I remember the ringing in my ears as I lay there on the ground. Disoriented, I started to move and I propped myself up on one arm to see what seemed like a shadow moving in the smoke towards me. I could make it out that it looked like a person, but I couldn't make out a distinct figure. The world was spinning and my ears were still ringing from the blast as the figure in thermo-optic camouflage crept closer.

I was looking around for my parents, for Alex, for the Janissary but I kept going back to that figure that was even closer now fixated on me. I felt the fear well up in me as I tried to get up, but my limbs just wouldn't function correctly. I desperately tried to get to my feet but before I could I was knocked down again by a swift kick to my back. I hit the ground hard, bruising my arm. I managed to turn around to see the figure standing over me. I could see it better now that it was closer as the light bent around the figure to make it almost completely invisible. It tilted its head before I heard the sound of it unsheathing its blade. It raised it up as if to strike, but before it could, I heard another blast from behind me.

It was from a shotgun, specifically from Sila's shotgun. She had come looking for me as Haluk secured our parents in a safe location. The blast hit the figure and knocked it to the ground. The force of the blast and impact from the BBs disrupted the TO camo of what I now know as a ninja, Yu Jing operatives that aren't supposed to even exist, or so the Yu Jing government would say. The ninja was badly injured, but not dead as Sila walked over to it, face twisted in anger. She picked the ninja up by the neck and I distinctly remember her yelling into the face of the operative "You would dare harm an innocent child?!"

My ear piece translator brought me the ninja’s simply reply: "Anything for the Emperor.” Sila threw the operative back to the ground before ending the life of the ninja with a final fatal blast from her shotgun.

She turned to me "Come Envihon, time to get you out of here, and back to your parents." She came and scooped me up in her arms, and carried me to where Haluk waited. It was a small alcove near the park untouched by the blasts. Haluk was on look out as PanOceanian Emergency Response teams were descending on the scene. I even got to see the Montessa Knights deploy to take control of the scene helping with evacuation as well as provide security for any lingering Yu Jing terrorists. Sila and I had barely arrived before our Haqqislamite state vehicles arrived to usher us back to the embassy. My mom held me tight as Alex's parents begged and pleaded with them to go look for Alex but we no longer could interfere now that PanOceanian forces had arrived. All we could do was go back to the embassy and wait to hear anything about Alex.

Except we would never hear anything about Alex. He was assumed to have died in the blasts. We were put on an express ship back to Bourak in the wake of the tragedy before we could find anything out. His parents were devastated. We eventually had a memorial service without a body to bury. I had lost my childhood friend to a shadow war I never knew anything about, nor asked to be a part of. We lost touch with Alex's family afterwards, they were destroyed by the loss of their son and eventually moved away to start a new life without the reminders of their late son.

Later through my military service, I would learn from Haqqislam intelligence that the attack was perpetrated by Yu Jing's Imperial Secret Service in retaliation to the ongoing aggressions between Yu Jing and PanOceania. We had been innocent bystanders caught between their rivalry, and paid the price for something we had nothing to do with. It was this incident that would spark a fire in me, that would build a resentment for Yu Jing's disregard for humanity in its pursuit for power. It would be this incident that would eventually make me break my family's traditions and become one of the Donated. I know my brother would especially resent me for it, but the rest of my family understood why I did it. My father was the most accepting, knowing exactly the reasons why I decided to serve. Sila's act of heroism convinced me that I didn't only want to serve a nation that had given my family so much, but I also wanted to protect humanity from those who would do harm to the innocent.

It was during my service as a Janissary, that I learned that Alex had survived that day, but not in a way I could ever imagine. That is a tale for another day...

***Audio file recovered from Aconciemento Incident. Conversation between two Montessa Knights combing through the rubble***

"Father Knight! You should come see this, I found something!"

"Oh my... good work my son. God clearly has smiled upon this child! I wonder where his parents are..."


So I hoped you guys enjoyed that and if you liked it, I will certainly do more. With that though, just one more addendum to add to this....


In a caravansary near the planet Dawn, a Caledonian intelligence officer meets with a shadowy figure wearing a face shield and hood in a private room in the many secret spaces found within the Haqqislamite space station.

"Always so secretive, can't even show your face in a private room. How am I suppose to trust someone when I can't even see their face?"

A muffled chuckled comes from the Hassassin operative. "It is through these means that the Hassassin Society is able to perform the services it provides, like the one we have done for you."

"Ha! And what have you done for Caledonia or Ariadna for that matter? We don't take part in your secretive services" the intelligence officer snidely said.

"Don't you?" the Hassasssin replies as he pushes forward a holo-vid depicting the death of the MagnaObra CEO, the corporation who was ultimately responsible for the slaughter of innocent civilians at the hands of the Druze and Scarface, the mercenaries MagnaObra hired to destabilize Caledonia and break up the Ariadna Federation.

The Caledonian lets out an impatient sigh "Yeah, the bitch had it coming, we could have done it ourselves if we wanted."

"Could you now? You may have been able to find out that the Druze were only proxy soldiers and MagnaObra a willing puppet of the PanOceania but could you have gotten close to her to do the job? You have the tools and training to be everywhere and nowhere like we can? I have heard that Caledonia is boastful, but I didn't expect this level of cockiness."

Now the Caledonian was losing his patience "What do you want then? I thought this was just what you people did to protect humanity or whatever you say you do, why come to me about this?”

"Yes, that is why we do this but we can't do it without the support of other nations" the Hassassin replied smoothly and calmly.

"What the fuck do you want then?! Money... resources, Teaseum? What are you playing at?" yelled the Caledonian, his temper on the edge of control.

"We want nothing so crass, and calm down, my friend. We just want to know that Caledonia will be there to help when Haqqislam calls for aid."

The Caledonian stared at the Hassassin agent, his temper cooling a bit at his response. He breathed deep before answering the agent "Ah, so that's your game, politics... I see, well, I will take this and show the Clans... I can't guarantee all of their support, some may even take this as an insult, but I will see what I can do... we do appreciate this, it won't bring back those lives but... at least those bastards see that they aren't untouchable... We'll help yah stick it to those Hyperpower pricks."


That is my announcement that I have taken up the mantle of Caledonia. That's right, I finally break my one faction loyalty to finally start something that isn't Haqqislam. Haqqislam still will be my main focus but I may have from time to time insight on this Ariadnan Sectorial that I have looked at for some time, and thought about starting. It's something to break up and give me something different, plus I have always loved the Dog Faces and Wulvers, and need an outlet for that. Don't worry, this is just an Alliance. My loyalty is first and foremost to Haqqislam. I am the Sword of Haqqislam, after all.

If you enjoyed this, let me know and I will see what I can do about more short stories. If you want me to continue to do just things game related and historical context for units, tell me that to. I live to serve you, my audience. Until next time, my friend, continue to seek knowledge.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Guest Writer: Ayyar You Ready For Some Tactics?!

Welcome, friends and Comrades! I know I have been silent these past couple of weeks but I promise I have something special in the works, it's just taking some time to get everything right. In the mean time though, our wonderful Comrade in Arms over at Pride of Rodina  has graciously helped out by guest writing for the Sword of Haqqislam! This is what I hope to be as furthering diplomatic ties between Haqqislam and Ariadna! It seems that there are a few Russians operatives for the Hassassin as Pride of Rodina has written about the awesome, the mysterious Hassassin Ayyar! Without further delay, my friends! 

Ayyar You Ready For Some Tactics?!

Ayyars are one of those criminally underrated troops that perform exceptionally well in both their respective sectorial and in Vanilla. They are master killers, while still possessing the ability to dupe your opponent, and claim objectives.

General Tactics

We'll break down the skills first, before we get too carried away:
  • Specialist Operative - Always counts as a specialist, for mission purposes. 
  • Religious Troops -  Never runs away from the fight or cowers (actually requires a Guts check to even duck in cover).
  • Free Agent - Does not require a Command Token to switch Order Pools.
The one thing that REALLY makes the Ayyar shine is their Holoprojector Lv. 2. This piece of tech is superb and has a wide range of uses. The absolutely key part about the Holoprojector is its ability to throw up Holoechoes and regenerate them in the Reactive Turn. These Holoechoes give you a few things; the ability to hide your Ayyar (which one is the real one), a way to protect them (can't kill what you can't find, plus 'echoes can preliminary destroy mines) allows them to benefit from Surprise Shot (sometimes even Lv. 2, depending on which loadout you're using), and, sometimes, even extra movement.

I won't go into the full semantics of the Ayyar's Holoprojector (like the shenenagins of mixing Lv. 2 and Lv. 1, I'll leave these for another article), but the best way to play with the 'echoes is to fool your opponent to shoot at the wrong one. There's a few different ways you can get this done, but usually keeping your 'echoes in a triangle is the best way. It allows you to split up them up without creating a 'head', and avoids having all three hit by most template weapons (should still be concerned with big template weapons, like heavy flamethrowers). This also makes it a bit harder to figure out which is the real one, since it helps create the illusion of not having preference of one 'echo over the others. Having an indifference towards all of them is critical to maintaining the illusion, but, of course, don't willy nilly throw the actual Ayyar into trouble. That's just silly.

The other perk of the Ayyar is the fact that they're a HI with BS 13, WIP 14, ARM 3, and BTS 3. They can easily outgun opponents, cap objectives, and they're somewhat resilient (especially with 2 wounds). They are excellent harassers, assassins, and objective-grabbers. They're the kind of troops you send out on a flank by themselves and take that side of the table on, by themselves. You will rarely need to support them, as they contain almost all of the tools they'll need to support themselves. They have the ability to easily stack mods, allow for unopposed shots, clear mines, can engage targets at varying ranges (thanks to their twin viral pistols), eliminate most targets with ease, secure and objective, and hold it. Even the ability to switch groups easily, to maximize the use of your Orders between groups, helps accent their 'lone wolf' role. Their only weakness is being hacked. Try to avoid those hacking nets, as much as possible!

Rifle + E/Mitter (37, 0)

This rascal packs a bit of a diverse package. It's got a rifle, E/Mitter, and D.E.P. to engage a wide range of targets. The rifle helps give it a reliable, short-ranged weapon, the E/Mitter for all of the fun of completely shutting down any electronic targets, and the D.E.P. to help it crack any armored targets it comes across. While most of the weapons are pretty close-ranged and low burst, the Surprise Shot Lv. 2 and BS 13 of the Ayyar will help it hit any targets. Plus, if you use your Holoechoes correctly, you could even get an unopposed shot off. The real advantage is the twin viral pistols. Since this Ayyar already wants to get up close and person, those pistols will really shine as a counter-measure and backup offensive choice, when the rest of the kit fails. Burst 3 viral with a +3 for range and a -6 on the opponent for Surprise Shot Lv. 2 is DEADLY. 

If you just want a versatile HI Specialist to take an objective and hold it, this loadout is for you. Its specialty isn't killing targets, but scaring them away and holding zones, especially with Suppressive Fire, while your bigger, scarier pieces take out the threats.

Shock Marksman Rifle (39, 0)

The Shock marksman rifle turns your Ayyar into a tricky, Houdini-esque, HI, into a deadly threat to most MI and LI. The marksman rifle allows them to out-range most common weapons, and stacking a -6 from Surprise Shot Lv. 2, like the Rifle+E/Mitter loadout. It also allows this Ayyar to tackle most heavy weapons and take them out with ease, except for TAGs and HI. This loadout prefers to go hunting and flanking enemy positions and take objectives, especially those protected by any light targets that aren't immune to Shock. It easily works as another front line aggressor/pusher without using any SWC and can sit on an objective when the time comes, in Suppressive Fire too!

This loadout is an excellent killer/hunter and objective grabber, since it can hold most objectives with ease and can deter most other Specialists, besides HI. Worse case scenario, get up close and use those twin viral pistols!

Sniper Rifle (39, 0.5)

I'd argue that this is probably the least impressive of the loadouts, since Hassassins and Vanilla Haqqislam have a lot of better snipers, but it's definitely an interesting choice. The ability to use Holoprojector Lv. 1 and Lv. 2 is really an interesting choice on this loadout. It's arguably useful on the other two, as they're already aggressive and moving about, but since this loadout is more likely to lay low for a bit, you can get the most out of the little ruse. Also, it makes for an excellent late turn objective grabber, it excels at securing objectives near your Delpoyment Zone, and it also works well at securing your DZ, too, thanks to the twin viral pistols. The most disappointing thing is the lack of Surprise Shot Lv. 2 on this loadout, like the others, it only has Surprise Shot Lv. 1 (granted by Holoprojector).

Thanks again to the Pride of Rodina for sharing his knowledge with the Sword of Haqqislam! As always, my friends, continue to seek knowledge!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Captain Haqqislam: Lore and Tactics of Tarik Mansuri

So before we get into the main article about Captain Haqqislam, just wanted to say that there may be a slow down in how quickly I get these articles out and that is because the Sword of Haqqislam now has a wonderful editor who you may know as Terrordactyl over on the forums. I am a fallible human and I know my grammar isn't the greatest so you may have noticed that my last article was a bit more polished than the others and that is thanks to Haqqislamite Commander Terrordactyl so wanted to take this time to thank him for making the Sword of Haqqislam even better. Without further delay, let's meet Captain Haqqislm! - Envihon

Tarik Mansuri, Khawarij Amir, is one unit I hear a lot of people ask about, which is why I thought to write this article on the man who I have come to call Captain Haqqislam. The model itself is still one of the best Haqqislam models out there even with the newer stuff Corvus Belli has produced and he does have a great stat line on top of the awesome lore that makes him a compelling character within the Infinity universe. Just reading through the Haqqislam section of the N3 book, you stumble over a lot of his quotes that help characterize what Haqqislam is and how they make war. It is no wonder that a lot of people want to know how to use him on the table. He is an expensive unit but he puts those points to use. Now, let's dive into who Tarik is and why he is so important to Haqqislam.

Captain Haqqislam: The Living Ideals of Haqqislam

The similarities between Captain America (one of my favorite super heroes, by the way) and Tarik Mansuri isn't just in the fact that they both are super soliders and that both got huge after their transformation. Just like Captain America embodies the ideals of America in his character, Tarik does the same for Haqqislam. Just like Captain America, Tarik has become a symbol to his people, becoming something that everyone within the nation strives to be. The way he is characterized in the N3 Core Book from his description, and the couple of quotes found in it, he carries the Haqqislamite emphasis on the power of humanity over the reliance of machines and technology. To Tarik, the only way to truly win a war is through the courage and willpower of humanity. One quote attributed to him conveys the sentiment that you may have all the technology in the world, but if you don't have the courage and willpower of humanity, you don't have what it takes to truly win the war, which may or may not be a subtle jab at the Hyperpowers over-reliance on technology to do the work for them. Either way, just like Haqqislam, Tarik sees technology as useful tool for humanity to use, bu,t becoming too reliant on it can have a number of consequences, like laziness, and a lack of drive to actually fight. Tarik even goes so far as to lament the innovation of plastic weapons, because you lose the ability to properly bash an enemy in close quarters and, when you try to, you will more than likely shatter the weapon in the process. Although, that may just be something Tarik has to deal with because of his super strength.

By reading further into the N3 core book you will find that Tarik was one of the earliest participants of the Runihura program. He is also one of the most successful because the program turned him into the hulking beast of a man that he became. Prior to the procedure, Tarik was already quite well suited to receive the Runihura, because we are told that Tarik was not only in peak physical condition, but he also already had a superior metabolism, so he was seen as the ideal candidate. Tarik's results have never been repeated and from the way it is written, no one has quite figured out why. All that they know is that the process interacted uniquely with Tarik's body to produce the results that it did. Whether this has to do with Tarik's pre-conditions or something else is never disclosed, and with Tarik being the only one who responded as well as he did to the treatment, it's hard to nail down why Tarik's body reacted so well that it made him into a hulk of a man, able to stare down Ajax as a fellow S5 human without the benefit of power armor. The Runihura didn't just make Tarik into a colossus of a man either, it has also slowed down his aging and allowed him to stay in peak physical condition. He is an agile warrior, able to dispatch enemies quickly and efficiently.

Tarik's strengths don't just lie in his superior physical attributes either. Just like his fellow Khawarij, Tarik is well learned and a brilliant tactician. The Runihura, in addition to enhancing his physical abilities, was able to focus his mind as well. He is able to maintain a clear mind even in the most dire of situations and his senses are honed, allowing him to be an asset in the field and in the command tent. Between deployments, Tarik is often seen as an instructor for Haqqislam military training since he is the best that they have to offer. To say that Tarik is the most successful soldier of the Runihura is an understatement.

Tarik Tactics: Heavy Infantry Masquerading as Light Infantry

With a long list of accolades like that, you have to wonder if he performs that well in the actual game. Short answer? Yes. I often see many people asking how best to use Tarik in game. He's got an awesome model and an awesome stat line but people still sometimes come off confused exactly where he sits in the grand scheme of things, and whether the amount of points he takes is actually worth it. To start this off you have to realize one thing: Tarik is not actually Light Infantry. I know, you are going to say but Army lists him as Light Infantry! Yeah, and Army is lying to you. Look at his stat line and then compare it to other light infantry but then go take a look at Haqqislamite Heavy Infantry. You will discover that Tarik has way more in common with Heavy Infantry, despite what his Type is listed as. This is my first piece of advice for anyone wanting to use Tarik: Stop thinking of him as Light Infantry and start thinking of him as Non-Hackable Heavy Infantry because that is what he truly is. With that, let's jump into his stats and then break down the loadouts Tarik gets.

So, Tarik may be expensive, but at least you get a lot of good stuff for all those points. To start off, Tarik's statline is this: 6-4 MOV, CC 23, BS 13, PH 14, WIP 15, ARM 3, BTS 3, W 2, S 5 along with Martial Arts Level 1, Bioimmunity, Kinematika 1, Super Jump, Religious Troop and Poison. Before getting into the various weapon sets that Tarik has available let's just unpack everything right here first.

Right off the bat, that 6-4 movement is huge when it comes to moving Tarik up the board and getting him in range to do what Tarik does best, which is eliminating enemy opposition. In addition, it gives him a 6 inch cautious movement so it's a lot easier to get him up the board without taking AROs. Combine this with the fact that Martial Arts gives you Stealth along with all that and Tarik becomes quite scary for your opponent indeed. The biggest thing to watch about moving Tarik around the board though is his S5 profile. Be mindful of this so that you don't take unexpected AROs due to the bigger profile. It will take some practice in judging what gives full cover to Tarik, but once you get used to using him, his mobility is great at getting reliably into Tarik's threat range. Combine this with super jump (See my article on the Khawarij for super jump tips. Tarik has even better use of super jump because of stealth as well so take advantage of that!) and Tarik is one of the most mobile units in Infinity. If you take a reliable source of smoke, Tarik becomes quite dangerous to your opponent. (Mutts, Muyib and Al Fasid are all great options. The Al Fasid is my favorite to take with Tarik because of the hammer and anvil concept but it is expensive and the Muyib would save you on both points and SWC. Just remember though, this is for vanilla. Right now, the only smoke we know of in the Ramah Taskforce is the Al Fasid. The two in combo is expensive, but it is also a pain train.

Tarik's BS skill lines up with his fellow Khawarij so we know that he can hit what he shoots with that BS 13. Where Tarik gets better than your average Khawarij is that that he actually gets Martial Arts Level 1 along with a better CC of 23. Martial Arts adds +1 damage to Tarik's already impressive PH of 14 so when Tarik hits, he hits like a truck at damage 15, and that goes for his Poison as well. Add onto this that every profile of Tarik comes with a DA CCW. That means that if you are facing an enemy with wounds, they have to take a double hit to their armor but also a hit on the BTS all at damage 15...that is brutal. Tarik in close combat is a terror to behold and he can get there. I would not get stuck on only trying to get him into close combat, though, because he can shoot well enough and hit what he is shooting, but if the opportunity presents itself, do it and make your opponent pay for allowing him to get so close.

Unfortunately, Tarik doesn't get as much out of Bioimmunity as his smaller counterparts since he is both ARM and BTS 3 with 2 wounds but hey, only having to make one roll for viral ammunition is still pretty awesome. Kinematica 1 is nice for getting him up the board on your Reactive turn or getting him into safer places and having a PH 14, Tarik dodges pretty well when you need him to. Religious Troop is kind of invalidated by having Courage through Martial Arts but hey, it fits with the lore. Tarik also has a high WIP of 15 which only really comes in use if you decide to have Tarik as your LT. And that's it, Tarik has a lot to use just in his stats which is why I said he's not really Light Infantry, he has all the benefits of Heavy Infantry with none of the drawbacks like being Hackable.

Tarik's Weapons of War

In Army, it will show that Tarik has four different loadouts, but there are only two differences between the four. There are two different main weapons Tarik can take: AP Rifle + Light Shotgun, and a Spitfire. Each of those has an LT option, making the four loadouts. If you take the AP Rifle + Light Shotgun as an LT, you get +1 SWC which off the cuff may seem really useful, but Haqqislam has cheaper SWC costs compared to other armies. Not Ariadna cheap, but definitely not any reason to feel pressured to take this option. Honestly, I don't like taking Tarik as an LT option unless I have a Farzan with Chain of Command along too. Tarik is a high risk unit and if your opponent wants to take him down, they can. It’s not worth Loss of LT. I prefer the Spitfire version because it greatly extends the threat range of Tarik allowing you to use him as a toolbox of death to either shoot at a distance or take an enemy out in close quarters depending on how the match is going and Tarik's placement on the board. The only time I would take the AP Rifle version is for the LT version to get +1 SWC, but I have never felt the need for more SWC so Tarik is usually rocking a Spitfire. The AP Rifle is 0 SWC and 2 points less than the Spitfire, but if you are taking Tarik, he is there for one reason.

With the main weapon, Tarik gets a Nanopulser, Grenades, a Pistol and. as I pointed out before. a DA CCW. We already went over how devastating Tarik is at close combat. but what you need to remember are his Nanopulser and Grenades. With a PH 14, Tarik can reliably speculative fire grenades to take out units you can't see around corners. The Nanopulser is nice to help make your opponent make hard decisions by making them decide between wanting to shoot back or dodge if you confront an enemy in the range of the Nanopulser.

There is a lot that Tarik brings to the table and his job is the same as his fellow Khawarij; he is a hunter. As a hunter, he has tons of things that help him complete his job of hunting down pesky units that you want eliminated. To me, he is well worth his points and I have never regretted taking him. He lives up to his legend that is presented in the lore, Tarik "the Man" Mansuri is a badass who will terrorize your enemy because he is a durable unit with unbelievable killing power. If you haven't, take Captain Haqqislam out for a spin. Have him be that elite unit that you build a list around. I promise you won't be disappointed. Until next time, my friend, continue to seek knowledge.