Another day for the Imperial Service (ISS) of Yu Jing. I’m still catching up on recent games of Infinity and this one was up against Haqqislam. Last time I faced them, I got trounced pretty hard with Dahshat Company. I don’t think it was the failing of Dahshat but rather my inability to see what was most important and execute. I was hoping I learned from that last outing and would do better this time around.

We were playing Uplink Center this week which wants to activate consoles and control them at the end of the game. Hackers get a bonus to activating the consoles so I brought two along with a couple of general specialists so serve as back up. The main focus here was to beef up my Haris attack options having found that my last list didn’t have much punch after I lost my main Haris fireteam.

To do this, I have two Hsien haris teams now, both with hackers but one long range and the other short range. To create more attack vectors, I have the Su Jian murder kitty duo’d with the Motorized Bounty Hunter. The Bounty Hunter would be there to sweep repeaters or other obstacles the kitty might run into. The rest of the list is order battery chaff to power the rest of the team.

I learned the last time I faced Vanilla Haqqislam that I can’t get pinned in by them or I’m dead in the water. The map this time was not so favorable to either side so that worked to my advantage. Still, there were 6 camouflage tokens in the list and at least one parachutist (thanks to the free Bashi Bazouk the mission gave everyone). Then add an impersonator that I know is a Fiday or worse and it is always a tough nut to crack.

Haqqislam won the roll off and chose to go second for the mission. I punished him by making him deploy first. This is may be the best situation for my ISS as they typically need to go first to get out of their zone. As you can see by the setup, all of my units are in my deployment zone while half of his units are already in the middle (or can drop in the middle on either side with the parachutist skill).

Since the Raveneye expansion and the revamp of fireteams, ISS gained a huge uptick in their ability to bring fireteams. The Core, 2 Haris, and Duo fireteams give me a lot of efficiency in a list almost maxed out in regular orders. I didn’t want the Kuang Shi core to be completely hidden out of use so I separated them inside and outside the central building. The heavy machine gun Hsien haris also occupied the central building as a command post while the hunting haris (Hsien MMR) took the right flank. Su Jian and the motorized Bounty Hunter duo took the left flank.

The goal of Uplink Center is to activate the consoles on the right and left centers of the board and control the central objective piece. While there was a knot of camo markers on the right flank, I figured one was a mine while the other two were a Liberto and Daylami. I knew the Barid hacker was over there too but my hunting haris had a hacker behind the Hsien’s tinbot protection and I felt reasonably comfortable taking control of that side of the board. But the left flank had Fiddler backing up a total reaction bot covering a major fire lane. The Fiday on that flank had to be dealt with on my turn as well or it would just ruin my day later.

To kick things off, I brought in the Bashi Bazouk on that left flank. I figured it’d be better to just waste that free unit on a killer close combat specialist than save it for anything later. Bashi is fun because it has holoechoes, 2 extra markers with the main figure, allowing you to play a shell game of which figure is the real unit. The other cool thing is they can surround a unit like an impersonating Fiday and dare them to break their hidden state. It’s a weird game of “I’m not touching you” but otherwise highly effective.

With the Fiday covered, I sent the Su Jian and biker out into the world. They got harassed by a Daylami but didn’t really lose anything. On they way, the Hsien HMG popped his head out of the building and discovered the Hunzakut and put it down. The biker couldn’t weather some of the incoming fire so I had the Su Jian ditch the duo in cat form and scamper into the far building deep in Haqq territory. This is where murder kitty does its best work as the triple shotgun can eliminate a great deal of weak backfield units. Like the Kameel EVO hacker that it easily wiped out rounding the corner of the building.

However, my main target was that total reaction bot. Now that I was in kill range, it was easy prey. Or should have been. At this range, I’m making the bot try to hit me on 5 or less while I’m looking for 17 or less. It’ll throw 4 dice to my 3 but the odds should easily yield a dead bot. Instead it crits me on the first salvo. HMGs aren’t something to just easily shrug off but in cover, the kitty basically at TAG level armor. Doesn’t matter. I take two wounds off the bat. No worries. I’ll shrug this off as murder kitty can stay conscious even after losing all it’s structure points. Kitty shoots again. TR bot crits me again. I pass only one of the saves which drops the kitty. This is going well.

The HMG Hsien picks up the slack again and unloads into the bot. The dice are still in my favor but no where near as nice as before. It works this time and Hsien drops the stupid bot. I leave the disastrous left flank and focus now on the right flank. I get the other Hsien team out of their building and they work into the center to take control of the right console. I eventually get rid of the mine and the Daylami without incident but I’m low on orders and need to reform some things to defend against the counter attack coming. I don’t want that reaction bot getting back up so I put some more shots into it and it is completely wrecked. The motorized bounty hunter snagged an HMG while heading off to work today and she had sight on the Rafiq remote. She got a lucky hit in and it went unconscious as well. With the Bashi body-blocking the Fiday and the HMG bounty hunter standing guard, the left flank was as good as I was going to get it.

Starting their first turn, Haqqislam really wants to ruin my day. The Barid throws a pitcher down to catch my Hsien and hacker in the comms net. Zulekya then hauls ass and rams her 4 shot breaker pistols down my Haris’ throat. To do this, however, she has to run through my madtrap (she completely shrugs it off), pass through Xi’s double template flamethrower (she is not even singed), evade the breaker rifle shots (total missing her), and tank the pistol hits from the Kaung Shi (which might as well be BB pellets). She unloads on my Hsien while he dodges (breaking the link team). The dodge is decent and he ends up tanking the hits as well so after the crazy matrix-style choreographed fight scene everyone is miraculously okay.

Having survived, Zulekya still had a job to do and really wanted to take down that Hsien. To do so, she ran into melee with Xi and shot at Hsien again. Hsien dodged some of the incoming fire and again saved against the few hits that got through. Zulekya was not so lucky this time and finally ended up taking a wound and going dogged.

Haqqislam still has some things to do so leaves the scrum to have Fiddler gizmot kit the Rafiq back up to full operational status. The Rafiq then moves out to engage my bount hunter. The HMG she stole was well-sighted and crits the Rafiq back down to unconscious. The Asawira comes out to deal with the bounty hunter and gets shot as well. No wounds taken but the bounty hunter is completely shutting down that fire lane and burning through the Haqqislam order pool. Finally, the Asawira tries again and downs the bounty hunter. The left flank of mine is completely open to attack but luckily, my opponent is out of orders.

With the right flank open, I decide to start pushing for the mission objectives. First, I have to take care of the repeater my team is caught in. I grab the Hsien HMG team and send the Pheasant Killer Hacker over. I can’t really get a line on the repeater to take it out so the killer hacker will hopefully just start killing all the hackers in the area. The gambit works and the Pheasant nukes the Barid hacker. The Hawwa doesn’t want to reveal and the Ragik is not on the table yet so that shuts down everything I see for now.

The other Hsien team then moves into position, tanking a mine and getting a surprise Liberto in the face. The dice odds aren’t great and I try multiple shots with the MMR in bad range thinking dice volume will win out only to end up unconscious eventually by the Liberto shotgun blasts. I see why people hated my Dahshat Company fielding them all the time. I’m not thinking clearly here and work out another solution to send my CSU up on top of the roof to shoot at the Liberto. This is useless and luckily I only burned two orders on that fruitless endeavor. Finally, I realize the Hsien HMG can move out and get a bead on the Liberto from across the map. Liberto decides to drop a mine and eat a bunch of bullets. I don’t have the orders to activate anything so I end the turn getting the remaining Hsien into cover.

Haqqislam decides to start nipping at my flanks. First, they drop the Bashi Bazouk on the right side trying to clear out my specialists. It lands in the repeater of my flashbot and gets targetted for its effort. It then runs over and shoots the flashbot down. Rounding the corner, it drops to a well aimed breaker rifle shot from my Zhanying hacker.

Next, my opponent tries to drop the Ragik but realizes too late that my hacker is still in the Barid’s deployed repeater. He debates on whether to drop or not but the situation doesn’t look like it would resolve anytime soon so he’d rather have it on the board than hold it back another round. Unfortunately, I brick it with an Oblivion hack from the Zhanying.

With options dwindling, the Asawira again steps up. It takes down my Hsien HMG and drops a Kuang Shi to strip more orders from my group. Even with most of my strong attack pieces out of action, the Asawira doesn’t want to stay out in the open so it ducks behind a central building and waits for turn 3.

The Liberto mine is still there, taunting me. I have the CSU shoot and the mine is destroyed. I send in the Zhanying hacker to activate the console. With its mission bonuses, this is easily accomplished. Having used his lieutenant order on the Asawira, I realize I might have a way to secure the game by hacking it and cutting the head off the Haqqislam army.

I send the Zhanying over into range and throw Oblivion at the Asawira. Even with BTS 9, it gets through and the army has now lost its lieutenant. To really keep it down, I decide to Carbonite it as well so now not only can it not receive more orders or direct the army, but will be locked down as well with -12 mods to try to get out. I have about 4 more orders and debate on trying to just kill the Asawira to deny more opponent points but instead, I try to go and control the central objective with my Pheasant to make sure I get the minimum victory points for a total win. This was stupid as I later realize as I could have controlled the other console for roughly the same results.

Doing so triggers a reaction from the Asawira but it needs something like a 2 or 1 to reset so I risk it. Of course, it promptly resets completely and now I’m in trouble. With precious few orders left, the Zhanying hacks it again with Oblivion to keep the army in loss of lieutenant. Luck swings back my way and it works again but I have no more orders to get my Pheasant into cover.

With his army in disarray, Haqqislam turns to Zamira to try and save the day. Using the last command token to convert a crucial order, Zamira gets out of the deployment zone and lines up for a straight-line berserk attack. She has an incredible 14″ distance on her berserk but when we measure, she is just outside of melee range and so the order fails. The Pheasant promptly dodges and goes prone behind the console.

Haqqislam can’t really muster anything else as the rest of its army is out of position and one order each (due to loss of lieutenant) is not enough to overcome my position.

ISS Wins! 7 – 3

A very crazy game with a lot of key pieces dying in their active turn as the reactive shooters just punished everyone on the board. The ending was nuts with the complete reversal of fortune when that Asawira rolled a 2 to reset out of all the crippling states I put it in. Add in the fact that I didn’t even need to expose my lieutenant to trigger the reset, position her into a vulnerable 5 victory point swing spot, and Zamira being a quarter inch shy of almost instant kill range and it really was an epic game experience.