Infinity Factions, Artichoked

Game Theory, Smelly Humans

My thoughts on Infinity’s factions after 12 months of Human Sphere.  Because I am rating factions on a scale of 1 to 5, I don’t see how it’s meaningful unless at least 1 faction gets a 1 artichoke rating, and another gets a 5 artichokes rating.  This rating considers factional context, and model availability and obsolescence.  On a strict rate of balance, nothing would get lower than a 2 or 3.  With that said:

PANOCEANIA

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PanOceania’s purported advantage is its conceptual “high-tech” and its gameplay “high Ballistic Skill”.  Both of these advantages are pretty hollowed out.  In other factions, it is extremely easy to parallel PanO’s BS advantage, on everything but Swiss Guards and TAGs.  And even those are paralleled by the likes of ALEPH and the Combined Army.  PanO also lacks toolbox units, although profiles like the Black Friar and Locust are changing this.  Of the four factions I play, PanO is “hard mode”.
sep.gifThe only reason this faction might skim above a 2-artichoke rating is miss Joan of Arc, who makes PanO’s good options greater with her handouts of Coordinated Orders and Courage aplenty.  And the fact that Infinity rules allow you to pump 10 orders into a BS15 TO Camo HI or TAG, and still have more to spare.  Unfortunately, Infinity just isn’t as focused on shooting as it once was, and PanO shows its age.

SHOCK ARMY of ACONTECIMENTO

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This faction went from “lame hipster” to “hip mainstream” overnight, with the release of Human Sphere.  Many profiles were streamlined, cheapened, or powered up.  Superfluous units like the Regular LGL, Stephen Rao, and Toni Macayana were condensed, redistributed, or axed.  Bagh-Mari links are now both comfortable and affordable, and the ALEPH loaners are awesome, even if their presence means they don’t have analogues in vanilla PanO.  It doesn’t quite have the prybar of a high-tech PanO force, nor the cover of smoke that ISS or Corregidor might bring, but damn me if the jungle PanOs aren’t a great sectorial now.

MILITARY ORDERS

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My favorite way to play PanO.  Military Orders requires a lot more daring to play than other sectorials.  Like the Japanese Sectorial Army, Military Orders lacks Smoke.  In fact, it has even less smoke than the JSA:  it has no smoke.  This is bizarre, considering its focus on close combat.  I’m not interested in MSV2 tricks, I’d just stick Eclipse launchers on a couple Knights.
sep.gifHowever, aside from whinging about Knights, the total availability on “TOFOSS” TO camo infiltrators actually makes MO quite competitive.  This advantage is restrained only by a lack of cheap template order generators like Kuang Shi or Chaksa, and a lack of modern models to flesh out an army of space catholics fit for 2017.

NEOTERRAN CAPITALINE ARMY

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The combination of extreme-power units like Swiss with the backing of cheap Fusilier fireteams and mostly modern sculpts is the only thing keeping this sectorial above a 1 rating, in my estimation.   NCA is supposed to be the highest of high tech factions, but a winsome look at ALEPH, CA, and even Nomads can raise your nerd rage.  You would think if any faction were to have linkable drones and ODD line troops, it would be NCA, but no.
sep.gifNCA’s flagship unit, the Auxilia, is still a trusy little unit, but been dampened by many waves of nerfs.  Its signature unit, the Neoterra Bolt, is in bad need of an upgrade or a discount.  A lot of suggestions have been made.  The main complaint is Bioimmunity, which should immunize against more things (Flash and Stun would be a good starter).  But the  problem is really Combi+Shotgun, which costs 4 points more than a Rifle+Shotgun, but isn’t worth it.  Aside from fixing Biomimmunity or pricing, my pocket fix would be to allow an Aquila to join a 3-man or 4-man Bolt team, like the Hsien with the Zhanying team.

YU JING

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It’s the “heavy infantry” faction, but don’t let that fool you:  Yu Jing is perhaps the most diverse faction in all of Infinity.  They may not have G:Sync, G:Mnemonica or G:Jumper, but they have access to the whole umbrella of skills in Infinity, and lots of quality platforms for those skills.  Being able to spam cheap 2-wound not-impetuous specialists, while also having Smoke, MSV2, and TO Camo handy, is an advantage Tohaa players are quite familiar with.
sep.gifYu Jing is a fantastic faction for any new player to start.  It hits all the weeb notes right, and hampers neither you nor your opponent with a steep learning curve, like some other factions do.  If I was new to this game all over again, I would choose Yu Jing.

IMPERIAL SERVICE

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A godlike sectorial, in my estimation.  The combination of high-power troops like mixed link Hsiens and Cranes, cheap Wu Ming fireteams, and solo powerhouses like Sun Tze and Su-Jian―in conjuction with order spam of Kuang Shi―without losing infiltrators and smoke―puts Imperial Service several cuts above other sectorials.  The really nail the “ruthless thought police” vibe.

JAPANESE SECTORIAL ARMY

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The Japanese Sectorial Army is quite a good and balanced little sectorial.  However, I think it just needs a couple sources of screening that aren’t stuck on an expensive character.  JSA is supposed to be “the CC faction”, and it frustrates me on the receiving end of JSA lists to not see CC used more often.  I’d give JSA a gentle patch with Smoke Grenade Launchers on a couple Aragato profiles, and Nanoscreen+Frenzy on Shikami.  Otherwise, Oniwaban, Saito, AVA4 Ninjas, Domaru+Haramaki Death Stars, Karakuri Haris, cheap Keisotsu Fireteams are all respectable forces.

ARIADNA

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Murica!  Cyka Blyat! Liberté, égalité, fraternité!  Freeeeedom!  Ariadna may draw more players to Infinity with its nationalist nods than the other factions with their obvious anime nods.  Not only that, Ariadna is one of the most effective vanilla factions, as good or better than Tohaa in the right hands.  With liberal access to smoke and camouflage, the two most advantageous rules in the game, a cunning Ariadna player will keep many a meta walking on eggshells.

CALEDONIA HIGHLANDER ARMY

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I really, really like this sectorial.  It was my faction for the first six or so missions of Campaign Paradiso, way back before I owned models.  (I borrowed Ariadna from a friend.)  As of Human Sphere, Caledonia looks plenty capable to me.  Mixed fireteams were added without removing Caledonia’s dog, smoke and camo game.  And the fact that Wallace (through Inspiring Leadership) can make cheap shithead Highlanders into Regular troopers, is a fact that I don’t often enough see emphasized.
sep.gifGiven the current lineup of models, if I were to get back into Ariadna, it would be to play Caledonia.  They may not look like much, but they have the orders and tools to mulch in Close Combat everything they can’t gun down with Wulvers, Greys and SASCRAPs.

FORCE de RÉSPONSE RAPIDE MEROVINGIENNE

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The Frenchies show their old age in both their sculpts and their profiles.  This is a faction that feels “closed for repairs” while Corvus Belli sorts out new factions like Varuna and Ramah, and sorts out some other old ones.  The French haven’t had a new sculpt in years, and specifically in the case of Limited Insertion matches, there’s basically only 1 legal list to run, and it isn’t that strong.

USARIADNA

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USAriadna had everyone flipping their shit when they released—”ARM3 ON FIRE, THE FACTION!”  That’s actually a pretty good summation of the faction, though USAriadna has its limitations.  Outside of bikes and infiltrators, USAriadna is pretty slow, and if you need a heavy lifter, you pay a premium for troops like Minutemen, Unknown Ranger or Devil-Dogs.  The heavy lifters are good in their own right, but not as tempting as cheap hardy Grunts.  The downside with trusting the lasting power of cheap hardy Grunts is that their ARM3 is a reactive ability, not a proactive ability, so its value is tied down to your opponent and your dice.

HAQQISLAM

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Good faction, but a bit lacking in “point and shoot” for a vanilla faction that isn’t Ariadna.  It would be easy to say that Ghazi Muttawi’ahs singlehandedly put Haqqislam a leg above the other vanilla factions.  Of course, other units like reliable Ghulam doctors, Naffatûns, Barids, Hafza, and Saladin himself allow for lots of cleverness, control, and trickery.  And, lots of handsome new sculpts (like Maghariba Guard and Al Fasid) tempt table play.  I will say, due to their sleight of hand, Haqqislam in the hands of a smart player is a 4- or 5-artichoke faction.

HASSASSIN BAHRAM

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After a couple updates and a grip of new models, the Assassins went from a pretty crappy to a pretty cool sectorial.  With team of Muyibs or Ghulams, two Fidays, four Ghazis, and a sprinkle of whatever else you like, Hassassin Bahram is highly competitive.  The faction is particularly cruel in its ability to inflict uneven exchanges.  But it feels binary to me.
sep.gifWhat makes me rate the Asssasins comparatively low is their apartheid of options.  Groovy Lasiqs and Govads suffer extremely stiff competitive from the cheaper Ghulams and jello-easy Muyibs.  Asawira suffer the same problem as every other unit with Regneration—that is, Regeneration.  Aside from obvious choices, the other sticker is the breadth of very aged (or nonexistent) models in the collection.  This looks to be changing with the Ayyar on the horizon, but as it is, it’s some old shit.
sep.gifI’d cut Ghulam AVA down to 3, give Govads a couple Vet L2 profiles, and give the Lasiq a KHD profile.

QAPU KHALQI

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Once the crème de la crème of sectorials, Qapu Khalqi is now what I would call the standardbearer of a “good” sectorial as of Human Sphere.  Qapu Khalqi was the testbed for Fireteam: Haris, which was to eventually become Fireteam: Triad.
sep.gifQapu Khalqi are “space pirates”—yeah, you would think that that is Nomads, but it’s Qapu Khalqi.  They have a lively and absolutely enjoyable selection of tactics to mix and match, and although I feel for sorry QK pirates who butthurt that their competitors also got Fireteam: Haris, it was healthy for the game that most other sectorials have become as competitive.

NOMADS

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Nomads have a shit-ton of units which bafflingly succeed at being both minmaxed and flexible.  Cuff examples would be Intruder, Interventor, Zero, Bandit, Morlock, and Riot Grrl.  The only deficit Nomads lacks is, like Haqqislam, few to no “superunits” whom you can pump full of orders.  Nomads rely upon quite a bit of back-and-forth in their lists, but I never have trouble building a list I am confident with when playing Nomads.
sep.gifI love this faction, though like Tohaa, I occasionally feel that the good options are a bit too easy to come by, compared to other factions.

JURISDICTIONAL COMMAND of CORREGIDOR

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Corregidor is like Yu Jing with basic fireteams.  You have a great variety of disciplined and irregular troops, and options to cover every kind of threat.  The inclusion of the Jaguar last year corked the one hole the Corregidor had—smokescreening.  Mobile Brigada wished they had an FO or Paramedic for Limited Insertion play, but Corregidor is otherwise a very strong sectorial and a great contender for official tournaments.

JURISDICTIONAL COMMAND of BAKUNIN

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It lacked some staying power, but massively improved Riot Grrls and the shiny new Taskmaster changed things for better for Bakunin.  It’s a healthy sectorial that wishes it had MSV2 to pair with Morlocks, but doesn’t really need it given its excellent hacking, White Noise casting, cheap orders, and ubiquitous ODD and Camouflage.  Moiras could sure use Shock Immunity, but I still like Bakunin.

COMBINED ARMY

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Combined Army isn’t actually a shabby faction, thanks to its mindbogglingly excellent G:Mnemonica skill.  Anathematics, Charontids, and big bad Avatar are the most unique and dangerous threats that Infinity presents.  Sepsitors, Plasma guns, Mimetism Total Reaction remotes, and universally useful Unidrons keep up a feeling of menace and superiority to the faction of the “Evolved Intelligence”.  The problem I have with the Combined Army is that easily ⅓ of its profiles seem useless to the vanilla collection, thanks primarily to poorly designed Shasvastii and Morats.

MORAT AGGRESSION FORCE

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MAF is a faction made of expensive and contradictory abilities.  There are a bunch of valid complaints about Zerats and Sogarats and such, but the core problem is this:  Morats pay at least 2 points per troop to allow each of those troops to ignore the Loss of Lieutenant penalty.  However, this isn’t very good, considering it has only 1 unit (Kornak Gazarot) who synergizes with that pricey Morat skill.  The Lieutenant order otherwise breaks fireteams, and the skill is overall less useful than a single model paying 5 points for Chain of Command.    This, to me, is tantamount to a sectorial that pays for a Repeater and Pitcher on every one of its infantry, but whose only offensive hacker is Switch.
sep.gifMy solution would be one of two things.   Add something drastic to the Morat skill, such as Strategos L1, to add value to both the Morat Aggression Force and generic Combined Army.  Or else insert a brand new cheap unit who has both (a) an excuse to not be in a fireteam, and (b) get killed to complement the Morat skill.  Here is my patch trooper for the Morats:

TazuratHunterSeeker

The pricing should be accurate within 1 point to Corvus Belli’s pricing.  I would be happy to let a friend use this profile in casual games.

SHASVASTII EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

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Shasvastii are just weak and expensive.  You can make some impressive camo spam lists with them, until you consider that Ariadna can do the same thing with 8 more orders.  It’s a sectorial in limbo without a big reason to play—outside of chest-beating Hard ModeTM.  I can’t think of a sectorial more gutted than Shas.

ONYX CONTACT FORCE

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Onyx is a healthy sectorial of varsity Combined Army units.  They lack smoke, like several “high tech” factions, and they ache for a Killer Hacker Device, but the unique jumping TAG triad and buffable drone links makes for an unusual and iconic playstyle.

ALEPH

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Updated G:Jumper skill and pricing alone, perhaps, shot this faction up from above-average, to way above-average, in my estimation.  ALEPH has access to several of the best-in-class units in the game, and even though the vanilla faction lacks fireteams, they have many options for hard-hitters, high-WIP specialists, durability, and―in many cases―all in one package.  There are basically no outdated sculpts, and what’s more is that Vedic is now in the pipeline for 2017, so expect many new profiles.  This is an extremely durable and dangerous faction, and it’s clear why ALEPH draws so many new players.

STEEL PHALANX

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Steel Phallus is renowned the (Infinity) world over for causing nerdgasms, nerdrage, and ragequits.  The Assault Subsection sectorial is a minmaxer’s delight, showering you with the best of tools like ODD, extreme stats, Smoke and Eclipse grenades, mixed fireteams, and all the weeb heroics you could hope for.
sep.gifHowever, I find that if you bring the right tools (like a Gao-Rael sniper, or a couple Minelayers), Steel Phalanx is actually pretty easy to counter.  Corvus Belli’s game is too complex to know the world over, but it may be that other players are trying spam lists of their own—instead of flexible lists—and get steamrolled by the myrmidons of the Steel Phallus.

MERCENARIES

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You wish.  This isn’t a playable faction.

TOHAA

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Was there any doubt?  We have the highest Wound count, the best mobility, and some of the best units in the game.  Bind that with cheap fireteams and utility soloists, and we more than compensate for our lack of “superunits”.
sep.gifGiven all our advantages, I maintain the current fire vulnerability should be flipped.  That is, fire should gib 1-wound symbionts, but not gib 2+wound symbionts.  That would make the basic symbionts fairly priced, and the Ectros/Gorgos less of a liability.  As it is, the pricing on 1-wound symbionts is unfair.  I don’t like it unfair, and I don’t want our army to be more expensive, either.  Otherwise #tohaamasterrace.

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SHADILAY

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8 thoughts on “Infinity Factions, Artichoked

  1. Of course the Tohaa get 5 artichokes. You have a great assessment of the factions here. There are a few as you mentioned that are in need of an update, but they keep focusing on new sectorials and ignoring guys like the french Ariadna. Again great assessment.

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  2. That was a great read and a nice insight into the factions, very useful for ones I haven’t played or faced too. I agree that PanO does indeed feel like hard mode at times, especially coming from Yu Jing they feel a little ‘wooden’ when it comes to list building. Some of be costings feel really off as well i.e Hexas.

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    1. Yeah, Yu Jing has a lot of strong options. PanO players bellyached like madmen when Yu Jing for Yan Huos.

      PanO was *very* good in the old days, when FtF ties resolved in favor of the higher modified skill (which was almost always PanO’s superior BS.). The Aquila was also stupendously strong, since you could shoot camo markers without discovering first. Very good stuff.

      N3 came along and removed all that as well as Heavy Flamethrowers off most of their TAGs, but the costs stayed more or less the same. HSN3 fixed some things (notably Acontecimento), but nowadays I play PanO for the fun and challenge. It’s way easier to make a comfy list in my other collections.

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  3. You left out mentioning Yojimbo an option JSA has, fairly terrific for his cost. They’re begging for access to Shaolin or an equivalent to give them another source of smoke, specifically in the impetuous phase to make the most of of free orders.

    Eclipse smoke somewhere in there would be lovely, especially considering the relative ease Caledonia can get close.

    For Haqq you did not mention their ability to play holospam, which you may have implied from the last line.

    My solution to MAF would be to give them Executive Order profiles.

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    1. Well–you could say a thousand words about each faction, but I tried to be concise. Haqqislam’s Holoprojectors are indeed good, but in my experience, they are about 90% dependent on user competence, unlike Camouflage, which is requires little cleverness.

      I believe the only Morat trooper who could benefit from Executive Order is the Rasyat, since Morats do not use TO Camouflage. But I am sure some Morat players would love a EO Rasyat.

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