Here is my summer 2018 version of a popular article from last year—my rating of each faction and sectorial in Infinity. As last time, I’ll deduct a point or two if the models are old, ugly, or out of production. Of course, Infinity is much better balanced than many other wargames out there: On a raw comparison, no faction should get less than 2/5 or 3/5. But if I am going to give a faction a 5/5, then someone has to get a 1/5. Here we go:
My opinion on PanOceania has not changed much. Of the five factions I play, PanO is “hard mode”. This factions’ promise is “high-tech” and “high Ballistic Skill”. Both of these promises are pretty hollow. In other factions, it is extremely easy to match PanO’s Ballistic Skill advantage, on everything but Swiss Guards and TAGs. And even those are paralleled or surpassed by the likes of ALEPH and the Combined Army. PanO also lacks toolboxes, and although profiles like the Black Friar and Locust are changing this,s of old profiles like the Kamau are not promising. PanO remains merely a shooting faction.
The only reason this faction might skim above a 2-artichoke rating are its good Line Infantry, Remotes, and miss Joan of Arc, who has potential to make PanO’s good options greater with her handouts of Coordinated Orders and Courage. Unfortunately, modern Infinity just isn’t as focused on shooting as older editions, and PanO shows its age.
SHOCK ARMY of ACONTECIMENTO
This faction went from “lame hipster” to “hip mainstream” overnight, with the release of Human Sphere. This is a great army with modern sculpts to give you a competitive introduction to Infinity. Many profiles were streamlined, cheapened, or powered up. Regular and Bagh-Mari links are comfortable and affordable. Even though the presence of so many ALEPH loanders means that vanilla PanO gets nothing new, they are certainly a force multiplier. Acontecimento 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 PanO isn’t a great sectorial now.
My favorite way to play PanO, but also the hardest. 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 the Knights investment in close combat. Some Military Orders players would of course use Smoke to perform Multispectral Visor L2 shots, but this faction just needs it to make melee reliable.
However, aside from whinging about Knights, the total availability on “TOFOSS” infiltrators actually makes Military Orders 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 2018.
NEOTERRAN CAPITALINE ARMY
The combination of extreme-power units like Swiss with the backing of cheap orders and Hexa Killer Hackers 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, or even Nomads would raise your hackles. Although the faction sells itself on tech supremacy, NCA players end up fielding 20+ models mostly comprised of lightweights—Fusiliers, Auxilia, Fugazis, then few Hexas and Bulleteers, and then maybe one or two heavy units.
NCA’s flagship unit, the Auxilia, is a trusy little unit, but has an unaccountable 1-point tax, and the damp rags of years of nerfs. NCA’s signature unit, the Neoterra Bolt, is in bad need of a discount or upgrade. A lot of suggestions for Bolts have been made: The main complaint is Bioimmunity, which should immunize against more things (Pheromonic ammo and Crits would be a good starter). But the Bolt problem is really the Combi+Shotguns, which costs 4 points more than Rifle+Shotguns. Aside from fixing Biomimmunity or pricing, my pocket fix for Bolts would be to allow a Machinist and/or Aquila to join a Bolt fireteam, like the mixed links of the Imperial Service.
Neoterra is a good faction, but be prepared to spend lots of money on little guys.
Last year, I said that if I were to start a new faction, I would start Yu Jing. This year, Yu Jing is the last faction I would choose.
What a case study in bad business and communication! A narrative event for Yu Jing saw a split with Yu Jing’s traditional Japanese sectorial from the main body of the Yu Jing faction, which then appeared in the new “Non-Aligned Armies” canon of factions. This left Yu Jing with about two thirds of its previous options, and just as many angry players.
You can still make great lists from Yu Jing, don’t get me wrong. But this was a wasted opportunity to host a great online campaign, and to launch a new Yu Jing sectorial with a bang. Instead, Yu Jing players must chin up with a miserably diminished army, full of redundant unlinkable Heavy Infantry.
Despite the poor treatment to its parent faction, the Imperial Service remains 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 cheap orders from Kuang Shi―without losing infiltrators and smoke―and without losing Killer Hackers—puts Imperial Service several rungs above other armies. ISS nails the “ruthless thought police” vibe and makes my Top 3 Factions.
Freedom! Cyka Blyat! America First! Liberté, égalité, fraternité! Ariadna may draw more players to Infinity with its nationalist nods, than other factions with their anime and movie nods. Ariadna also draws competitive players. This vanilla faction is one of the strongest, 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
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 is plenty capable. Mixed fireteams were added without also removing Caledonia’s dog, smoke and camo game. And the fact that Wallace (through Inspiring Leadership) can make cheap Highlanders into Regular troopers, is a fact that I don’t see emphasized enough.
There are lots of slick new sculpts in line with the modern scale. 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 whatever they can’t gun down with Greys, Wulvers, and SASCRAPs.
FORCE de RÉSPONSE RAPIDE MEROVINGIENNE
The Frenchies show their old age in both their sculpts and their profiles. This faction felt “closed for repairs” while Corvus Belli worked on other factions, and then they announced that Merovingia was basically cancelled. I appreciate the company’s candor, but it is sad to see them deserted. Specifically in the case of Limited Insertion matches, there’s basically only 1 legal list to run, and it isn’t that strong. What is left here is a last hurrah with new Haris fireteams, mixed links, and a discontinued model line.
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.
Like NCA, competitive USAriadna flattens its options with spam lists of light-duty troops, which is a bummer, considering the neat sculpts for Devil-Dogs and Mavericks.
COMING SOON: TARTARY ARMY KORPS
We do not yet know the details on the Kazak sectorial, but if the Veteran Kazaks get any kind of mixed fireteam rule with Line Kazaks—notwithstanding the amazing Spetznaz and Dog-Warriors—this should be at least a good sectorial, if not a great one.
In the hands of a shrewd player, Haqqislam is a 4/5 or 5/5 faction. This army can easily and accidentally bring a counterplay to every threat in the game. Unfortunately, for new players, Haqqislam can present itself as a mystery. On the surface, you pay a stiff premium for order supply. Camo is limited in availability, and units with useful skills like Marksmanship and Multispectral Visor L2s are taxed. While a Haqq player spends 40 or 50 points on an attack piece, ALEPH and Ariadna and Tohaa and PanOceania get all kinds of little modifiers to out-attack them for the same price.
That’s the surface. Under the hood, a Haqqislam player has all the power in his hands, as most models are carrying a cocktail of weapons that can threaten line troops, camo troops, robots, heavies, and more, for the same price PanO pays for a Combi Rifle. Haqq effectiveness is directly tied to player competence, and if that’s you, this is an amazing faction.
After a couple updates and a grip of new models, the Assassins went from a crappy to cool sectorial. With your team of Muyibs or Ghulams, two Fidays, four Ghazis, and a sprinkle of whatever else you like, Hassassin Bahram is quite competitive. The faction is particularly cruel in its ability to inflict uneven exchanges. For a while, the faction was missing many models, but basically all the Hassassins are now on the market.
What makes me rate the Asssasins average is their apartheid of half the options. Groovy Govads and Lasiqs suffer extremely stiff competitive from the cheap Ghulams and reliable Muyibs. Ragiks are cool, but you’ll never take more than one or two. Asawira suffer the same problem as every other unit with Regneration—that is, Regeneration.
I’d cut Ghulam AVA down to 3, give Govads some unique weapon options like SMGs and Viral Grenades, and give the Lasiq a Forward Observer profile and AVA5. Otherwise you’ll be playing Ghulams, Ghazi, Farzans, Muyibs, and Ayyars all day.
I’m sticking to my guns on Qapu Khalqi. This is the standardbearer of a “good’ sectorial. Once the crème de la crème of sectorials in the first Human Sphere, Qapu Khalqi players now feel gipped that everyone else got Fireteam: Haris, which eventually also became Fireteam: Triad.
But don’t be fooled by these old “space pirates”. This faction has very strong mixed fireteams, a couple cost-effective heavies, and generously available smoke through Yuan-Yuans. They have a lively and absolutely enjoyable selection of tactics to mix and match, and although I feel for sorry QK players who are butthurt that competitors also got Fireteam: Haris, it was healthy for the game that most other sectorials became as competitive.
Maybe the space pirates will eventually get some sort of Super Jump Zero G cosmonaut troop in the future, but in the meantime they’re completely playable.
Hoo boy. The only problem I have with this faction is that it’s too easy to write an excellent list.
Nomads have a shit-ton of units which bafflingly succeed at being both minmaxed and flexible. Cuff examples would be Intruder, Interventor, Zero, Bandit, Heckler, Morlock, and Riot Grrl. Nomads even lost their lack of “superunits,” since the Kriza Borac singlehandedly removed that defecit. Although Nomads rely upon quite a bit of back-and-forth in their lists, you will seldom have trouble building a confident list when playing Nomads.
I 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
I think this is a great sectorial, but it has the Hassassin Bahram problem: a few options dwarf the rest.
Corregidor is like Yu Jing plus basic fireteams. You grab a great variety of disciplined and irregular troops, and options to cover most kinds of threats. The inclusion of the Jaguar last year corked the one hole the Corregidor had—smokescreening—and also became the go-to order spplier. Mobile Brigada wished they had an SMG or FO profile for Limited Insertion play, but Corregidor is otherwise a very strong sectorial and a great contender for official tournaments.
JURISDICTIONAL COMMAND of BAKUNIN
It lacked some staying power, but massively improved Riot Grrls and the shiny new Taskmaster changed things for better for Bakunin. It’s a solid sectorial that daydreams about MSV2 to pair with Morlocks—but Bakunin doesn’t really need it, given its excellent hacking, White Noise casting, cheap orders, and ubiquitous ODD and Camouflage. The Reverends could sure use Shock Immunity and a Fireteam: Reverend skill, but I still like Bakunin and overall, it’s in a healthy place.
COMING SOON: JURISDICTIONAL COMMAND of TUNGUSKA
We do not yet know the details on Tunguska, but with Kriza Boracs, new Hecklers, cheaper Securitate, and all-powerful Interventors, this should be a stellar sectorial.
Combined Army isn’t actually a shabby faction, thanks to its mindbogglingly excellent G:Mnemonica skill and a few killer profiles like Kerr-Nau and the Noctifer. Anathematics, Charontids, and big bad Avatar are some of the most unique and dangerous threats within Infinity. 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 you will have with the Combined Army is that the majority of its profiles are useless to the vanilla collection, thanks primarily to old and poorly-designed Shasvastii and Morats troops
MORAT AGGRESSION FORCE
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 sucks, considering MAF offers 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.
My solution would seem drastic, but it would be healthy for both the pricey Morat sectorial, and Morats in the vanilla Combined Army army, and that is this: The Morat skill should grant Strategos L1 to any Morat who happens to be the Lieutenant. (Kornak Gazarot, of course, would increase his skill to Strategos L2 or Advanced Command.) This would result in Morats be “+1 Order, the Faction”, an expensive but noteworthy signature. Otherwise, MAF is doomed to waste, like a sectorial that paid for a Repeater and Pitcher on every one of its infantry but whose only offensive hacker is Gabrielle De Fersen.
SHASVASTII EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
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
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. You have a couple of the best Killer Hackers in the game, along with Unidron Fireteams who can outshoot even PanOceania’s best.
The problem I have here is that you won’t stray often from Unidron fireteams, Ikadrons, Doctor Worm, Nexus, Kerr-Nau, Fractaa and Noctifers. The inclusion of other Combined Army races excites some players, but you’ll learn to avoid them over time.
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.
I haven’t changed my tune much on ALEPH, but I cannot place them quite at the S-Tier of ISS, Ariadna, and the faction after next, as there are advantages in those factions that ALEPH just can’t touch.
Steel Phalanx 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.
However, over the years, I become less and less afraid of this army, and notice that the combined lack of forward-deployed troops, long-range weapons, and low order count means that the Steel Phalanx may be reliably outplayed. I find that if you bring the even one correct tool (like a Gao-Rael sniper, Kempeitai Shock Marksman, Minelayers), you cut most of the strengths of a Steel Phalanx player. I expect most players lose against this faction because of bad lists/tactics, rather than some raw unmatched power of Steel Phallus.
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”.
Given 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.
And what about these mercs?
DRUZE BAYRAM SECURITY
Wow, all the cool things about the Druze Bayram sectorial disappeared immediately after the other NA2 sectorials appeared. Druze really want their own unique Druze Infiltrator and linkable Druze SMG to see table time. Otherwise, why not play Ikari?
JAPANESE SECESSIONIST ARMY
Oh, you liked your Yu Jing army? Well fuck you. Your Japanese are the Secessionist Army now.
I would not have thought that so subtle a change as an added 0.5 SWC here and a missing MULTI Sniper Rifle there would have lowered my opinion of the (arguably buffed) Japanese Secessionist Army, but I think this army is actually weaker than it was, previously. You still have great infiltrators, better Aragoto, better Fireteams, and better models, but like Steel Phalanx I find that the JSA are hilariously easy to outrange, and I don’t fear this army.
The biggest wasted opportunity here is the Daiyokai Dengekitai, who should have had either an HMG or Smoke/Eclipse grenades to secure his use in the army. Otherwise, the Daiyokai is a cool sculpt for a bland CC heavy in a faction, that already has 3 CC heavies and 6 CC lights.
One of the best of the new NA2 armies, the hardcore Ikari Company combines durability, offensive power, and flexibility in fireteams to make for a respectable—if confusingly-presented—sectorial. The severe Lieutenant vulnerability this faction holds it back from a higher rating. Otherwise, it is quite strong. I am curious to see a fully-painted army of these villains.
STARCO, FREE COMPANY OF THE STAR
Arguably the best of the lot, StarCo will impress you with its command, infiltrators, specialists, smoke support, flexible fireteams, and durability. This is not only the strongest of the NA2 armies, but one of the—in my opinion—stronger sectorials in the game. This is a great army to bring to a Limited Insertion event.
You can view my ratings from last year here. Also of interest may be Infinity the Game’s international tournament statistics from last season, or the results from last year’s international campaign.
Thanks for reading