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 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.
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.
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 Jäger, 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.