Today we have another guest article, this time from Pete, (ITS YueFei23, aka BugSculptor). He came with Obi, Jon and I to Adepticon, and did the best of any of us over the weekend, placing well above us in the ITS tournament. Despite not taking many pictures, he has a great write up for us about his army, and how it performed in the four-round ITS tournament.
Overview & lists
With the Uprising book getting released at Adepticon 2018, what self respecting ISS agent could resist the chance to put down the JSA rebellion. Of course all the ISS troops would want to perform their duty, but sadly I had to make some tough choices and winnow it down to a couple of lists. My first choice was to take a Wu Ming link for Safe Area – when you absolutely have to have a specialist alive next to a console after three turns, a Wu Ming forward observer is the guy to send for. As is usual for my ISS lists, two groups are set up with a set of smoke generating Kuang Shi in one group and a Rui Shi in the other.
For my other list I decided on a flexible take all comers list, with Sun Tze, a Su Jian and a Rui Shi backed up by a Sophotect and a Dakini Tacbot. ISS have a lot of strong lieutenants, but in ITS season 9 Sun Tze is a clear winner for me, mainly based on his resilience. For missions where you have to keep a datatracker alive or score an area of the table with it Sun Tze is the man, and the extra order, command token and reserve shenanigans are game winning abilities in their own right. To get the most out of Sun Tze’s strategery, I generally reserve my Su Jian and Rui Shi, two strong individual attacking models which can always be placed last in a way to exploit weaknesses in the enemy deployment. With his WIP 17 Sun Tze also gives you your best shot at winning the initiative roll at the start of the game.
Game 1: Safe Area vs Tohaa
I practice against Obadiah’s Tohaa so often that I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw my first match up was Tohaa. Tohaa are a strong faction, but once you know what they can do they’re not too scary. I took my Wu Ming boat anchor list and was able to choose deployment and go second. My opponent (cgilarno) had gone for the full four symbiomates to maximize his resiliance and had a couple of snipers covering most of the table, so punching through the mates and knocking down his ARO pieces was going to be tricky. I mostly hid, leaving a couple of speed bump AROs out across the table, my flash pulse remote and my Zhanying Missile launcher. Perhapse overly scared of incoming missiles, most of my opponent’s orders went on dropping eclipse smoke and moving to encircle me, with a Sukeul link team on my left flank and a Rasail Boarding team and Chaksa flamethrower on my right.
To counterattack I set out to kill a few things with some smoke and assisted fire on my Rui Shi, which managed to kill the Rasail and his Symbiomate, then strip another Symbiomate and wound from the Sukeul forcing it into cover. At that point, the Rui Shi’s luck was out and it got crit on a 3 by a Kamael. I moved my Wu Ming out behind a table in center field, killing the Kamael and putting a wound and stripping the symbiomate from a Gao-Rael sniper with a crit from the Wu Ming HMG. That’s the reality of symbiomates – they take a couple of extra orders to remove, but spending the orders on high burst weapons early in the game can really take the teeth out of an enemy assault.
The Tohaa second turn did a little damage – I’d solidly taken the right flank by knocking out the Rasail and had a nice tough link team sewing up the center table. Still, my opponent was able to knock out my Wu Ming HMG with a ridiculously lucky Clipsos, which did 3 wounds to it in a single order of shooting… with a combi rifle shooting into cover at a Wu Ming with full five man link bonuses. A triad with a couple of Makaul in it moved up out of eclipse smoke to try and attack my link, but chose to make heavy flamer shots which put a wound on one Wu Ming and lost a Makaul to a nanopulser from the Zhanying. I didn’t lose anything else, so responded by sacrificing the Zhanying to nanopulser both remaining Makaul. I then wasted a Kuang Shi attempting to kill the ever lucky Clipsos, before finishing it off with speculative fire from my Wu Ming grenade launcher.
In the third turn my opponent was mercifully low on orders. The sukeul link ran behind a building to claim one of the table quarters and a sniper ARO team shuffled to cover another. A second clipsos revealed and sat by a console, but in token state so it wouldn’t actually score. I had plenty of orders and a 3 man Wu Ming team left, which I tried to use to kill the snipers. Unfortunately my multirifle Wu Ming ran straight into a crit from the first sniper he engaged, which put the brakes on me moving onto a console. I ended up with my datatracker forward observer on a console in a dominated quadrant and revealed my ninja to grab another. We tied on table quarters, but even with INTELCOM stealing one of my consoles away I netted a 5-3 minor victory.
Game 2: Firefight vs Steel Phalanx
My second game was against Rob Landon’s Steel Phalanx. He brought Hector and a fireteam enomotarchos of Myrmidons with Phoenix, a thorakitai team with Thrasymedes and a second Thorakitai team with Elke. I picked my Sun Tze and Su Jian list, lost the roll for first turn and castled up in depth, with no obvious models exposed but Kuang Shi guarding the entrances that Rob would have to pick off to get to any of my important models. rob pretty much surrounded me, setting up Phoenix in ARO with Hector and the myrmidons and moving one Thorakitai link into a building with a panoply on the left flank and the other behind a wall on my right flank. One of the thorakitai on the right flank climbed a walkway to get to a panoply, but got pinned down by an ARO from my dakini tacbot and stepped outside link radius. The other thorakitai link tried to open a panoply, but fumbled the lock and passed the turn to me. I managed to knock out Phoenix and the roof climbing Thorakitai with my Rui Shi, which then died to a rocket from Thrasymedes. I sent my Su Jian after the remainder of Elke’s link team. Coming around a corner with a shotgun it was able to knock all of them down and take out a netrod before falling back to a defensive position.
Rob moved up with Hector and the Myrmidons to attack the Su Jian, Hector took point and managed to knock the Su Jian down to NWI, but didn’t have enough orders to finish him off. One of the thrasymedes buddies managed to whack a panoply. My Sophotect ran a slave over and healed the Su Jian back up full health with help from a couple of Sun Tze’s command tokens. The Su Jian then went to tackle the remaining myrmidons and Hector. After a flurry of shotgun blasts and the last order from my main group Hector landed in NWI. My ninja revealed in the room with thrasymedes and hit the panoply. At this point, we figured we only had 15 minutes left and decided we would call the game rather than rush to finish. I won a 3-1 victory for doing more damage to Rob’s list, and wishing I’d had one more shotgun round to finish off Hector to pick up the points for killing lieutenant and datatracker.
Game 3: Acquisition vs JSA
My third opponent was Tommy Back, of Studio Ultramega [http://studio-ultramega.com/]. Tommy normally plays his own painted ISS, but today he had decided to betray the Party and borrow a very nicely painted JSA army from Adepticon TO Tim Toolen. The table we landed on was a canyon table, with a deep river dividing the table across the middle and an elevated road crossing a bridge in the center. Cargo containers broke up the path down the road, but the sides of the table were pretty open with only a few crashed vans and billboards for cover.
The mission was Acquisition, so I took my Sun Tze list, planning to use him as a resilient datatracker able to score the tech-coffin at the end of the game. I got to deploy second and go second with no chance for Tommy to keep a reserve back. Most of Tommy’s army including a Karakuri haris and a Rui Shi was set up to come across the central road, with Yojimbo set up to flank me by crossing the open right flank if I let him. Four mysterious camo tokens were doing fairly obvious ARO duty. A few keisotsu, including a hacker, were hanging out hidden at the back. I castled up Sun Tze at the back of the map surrounded by Kuang Shi and with my Rui Shi standing guard, hoping that I could weather an early assassination attempt from Kitsune or an Oniwaban. I also made sure the Rui Shi was not able to be shot from across the map, but covering my right flank to stop Yojimbo in his tracks. I also deployed my dakini on the left flank, so it would drop long range hmg shots on anything advancing to the center of the bridge. Mu Su Jian and Rui Shi were also set to assault up the middle road, with support from
Tommy was pretty frustrated that I’d largely hidden out of sight, so he couldn’t attack me without advancing a long way. Yojimbo spent a couple of orders advancing on the flank until he drew ARO fire from the Rui Shi, when he decided that he should stop pushing his luck without smoke to cover him. The karakuri haris then advanced up table center, throwing a lucky MK12 crit onto the dakini with a 4 and taking up a position by the central objective behind a crate. The JSA Rui Shi set up way behind them, had the keisotsu hacker put assisted fire on it and then set suppressive fire. The turn passed to me.
I started with the Rui Shi gunning down Yojimbo. My Su Jian peeked out of cover at about 30” range and dropped a panzerfaust shot into the Rui Shi on suppressive fire… forcing it to drop suppressive fire to shoot back unfavourably and it turned to wreckage. Knowing that I had a Sophotect nearby, my Su Jian then boldly stood up, provoking fire from one of the camo tokens, that turned out to be a Raiden heavy rocket launcher. The Raiden ate the second panzerfaust shot, which then opened the way for the Su Jian to start slicing around the central crate and dropping the Karakuri with its heavy shotgun. Several mean face to fail rolls later, the Karakuri were all either unconscious or dogged, with the Su Jian standing over them.
In Tommy’s turn two, a second Raiden appeared to take sniper shots on the Su Jian. The Su Jian took a couple of wounds, failed guts and hid behind the crate. An engineer attempted to make it down the central road to revive one of the karakuri, but failed somehow. I moved the Rui Shi up, killing the Raiden and then moved Sun Tze and several Kuang Shi into a position where they would be able to make it into position for turn 3. My Su Jian fell back and was repaired by my Sophotect, which moved up the table.
WIth mainly a Keisotsu team left on the table, Tommy ran his last trick, a TO token, as far up the table as he could. As his orders ran out, it revealed as Saito Togan and engaged a Kuang Shi near the tech-coffin. Thinking that a kuang shi was a small price to pay to execute a traitor, I moved the rui shi up and shot into the combat, killing Saito and the Kuang Shi, which exploded. Sun Tze strode past, scored a coup de grace on Saito and moved into base to base to control the Tech Coffin. My ninja managed to activate one antenna and the Sophotect had enough orders to activate the other, I scored a perfect 10-0 victory.
Saito Togan Ruis the day
Game 4: Frontline vs Hassassin Bahram
With a rare combination of lucky match ups, a reasonable level of competence and passable dice I had two minor victories and one major behind me. This last game was not going to be easy, my opponent was Nicholas – ITS name Zavros, ranked 13th in the US – and his Hassassin Bahram. The mission was frontline, based around dominating three 8” wide sectors between deployment zones, with the furthest stripe outside the enemy DZ worth 4 points. Key objectives were to hold the central sector with a surviving datatracker for 4 points, and seizing the furthest sector from you for four points and denying your opponent from doing the same. Holding the closest sector to you only scored 1 point, but is the surest way to stop your opponent scoring it.
Knowing I could be facing multiple Fiday impersonators I pretty much had to take my Sun Tze list – the lonely Celestial Lieutenant in my Wu Ming list would die to a Fiday’s shotgun and place me in LoL for sure. I planned to castle up with Sun Tze as my datatracker guarded by several Kuang Shi, then move him out to take the central sector once immediate threats were taken care of. My Su Jian and Rui Shi would have to counter attack when possible and knock out what enemy models I could find. I lost the roll for initiative and Nicholas chose first turn, which worked well for me – at least by deploying second and my Strategos lvl 3 I could deny him any reserve Fiday drops next to Mr Tze.
Once my opponent’s deployment was complete, I found 3 impersonation tokens prone on a raised walkway just outside my Deployment Zone and spread about 12” apart. These were supported by several camo tokens. As they spanned my deployment zone, no matter where I deployed the impersonation tokens were a threat to my datatracking lieutenant, but they also stacked 100 points into the most valuable scoring sector. Leila Sharif and a defensive ghulam link with a missile launcher and doctor lurked in the back field, there were a couple more camo tokens in midfield, and the inevitable crew of 4 ghazi muttawiah lined up in the DZ ready to storm across the table and jam all my guys.
I castled up pretty carefully on my left flank behind a wall expecting a Fiday alpha strike, with Sun Tze and my Sophotect surrounded by a screen of kuang shi. I hid my Rui Shi towards the back of my midfield area covering the castle, then lined up my dakini and Su Jian to try and drop impetuous Mutts before they made it to my lines – one thing I have learnt against Mutts is that if you don’t put out a couple of good long range AROs you can get sewn up badly for your own first turn. My ninja deployed in midfield, in a position where it could move between scoring sectors pretty easily.
Nick’s first turn plan wasn’t to use his Fidays though. His Mutts activated first, one of them exploding to a panzerfaust shot from the Su Jian, the rest managing to get some smoke down and advance. The ghulam link moved up to midfield and killed my dakini hmg, taking an overwatch position in a building near midfield and leaving a sniper and missile launcher out for ARO duty. Then, two of the mutts rushed my Su Jian in cover, both trying to E/Marat my transformer but instead receiving heavy shotgun blasts to the face while the Su Jian’s BTS of 6 saved it. A boarding shotgun Farzan then popped up to surprise shot the Su Jian, putting a point of damage on it. Though Nick admitted it wasn’t a great plan, the Farzan then took several more shots and luckily managed to chip away the two more points of damage to kill the Su Jian.
It felt pretty rough to lose the Su Jian in turn one, but I had only lost two orders and was in a solid position to counter attack. I powered up assisted fire on the Rui Shi and went to work in some smoke, putting shock rounds into the Farzan and the two Ghulam stupid enough to try ARO duty. The last Mutt also died, realizing that a smoke dodge wasn’t a great answer to an MSV2 murder bot. I moved some Kuang Shi around to get a little more board control and put some pressure on the Fiday and camo tokens for the next turn.
A few orders down and with less impetuous trickery to try, Nick revealed one of his Fiday to get a surprise shot and take out my Rui Shi. With my Sophotect not far away, he also had to spend a second order to destroy it completely before going prone and getting back into disguise. A Farzan minelayer revealed and dropped a mine on the walkways, trying to make it harder for my Kuang Shi to get up there and discover Fiday or any of the Camo tokens.
At this point, Nick’s plan came slightly more into focus for me. I could be less paranoid about attacks from the Fidays and remaining camo token or two as he really needed them alive to score the high scoring Frontline sector outside my DZ. What’s more a lot of the fighting teeth of his list was now out of play – the strong guns in his ghulam link were dead and he’d spent his Farzans. He had one turn left and I gambled that if I moved Sun Tze out to midfield now, Nick didn’t have enough left on the table to counter him. I was able to suicide charge two of my kuang shi to kill the minelaying Farzan and line my Celestial hacker up to pressure one of the Fidays. Sun Tze made it out to table center, shooting away a baggage bot and one of the Ghulams with his multi rifle and ending in fairly full view, also clearly commanding the central sector with a “kill me I’m a datatracker” sign posted on his back.
Nick had one turn to kill Sun Tze and felt pressured to take back midfield. First Leila tried to hit the boss with a marksman rifle and he flash pulsed her. The other remaining ghulam took his turn and was also stunned. At that point Nick made his only major mistake of the game and the furthest fiday broke impersonation state to surprise shot Sun Tze. It was a long shot for the Fiday versus mimitism and Sun Tze decided to shoot back, rolling a one and popping a DA round into the Fiday to kill him. This really took the pressure off in my final turn – instead of needing to kill a Fiday or reveal a camo token to feel comfortable, I could use my orders to shuffle my Sophotect and Ninja along with surviving Celestial guars to score my closest sector and midfield. After our intelcom cards cancelled each other out left the final score at 5-1 to me.
It is fair to say that Sun Tze was a beast and won that final game for me. With mimetism, great armour, a blinding flash pulse, total immunity and 3 wounds he’s an extremely hard to kill endgame scoring piece, especially for games where your datatracker is important. On top of that he feels like making a lucky roll or two, he can easily swing a game your way. The general strategy of building a list around him, the Su Jian and the Rui Shi with a full set of supporting troops worked really well and was flexible enough to deal with all my opponents.
This was also the first time I’ve run a heavy shotgun Su Jian in a tournament and had good success with it. The shotgun and light flamethrower combination has great synergy with the Su Jian’s mobility mode – you really don’t need to burn orders to transform before coming around a corner to threaten things like you do with the spitfire. My Su Jian nearly murdered Hector, decisively killed a Karakuri link and took out three Ghazi Muttawi’ah before it went down in my final game – a rough trade, but something needed to stick its neck out and kill those guys before they caused more trouble.
Of four games, that final game was really tough and the only one where luck had an impact. I really wouldn’t rate my chances of winning frontline against 3 Fidays in a rematch. In the other three games I had solid advantages – Tohaa because I practice against them all the time, Steel Phalanx because they hate an angry Rui Shi and the JSA because it was a matter of honor for the ISS to suppress their uprising with extreme prejudice. At the end of the day I had won all my games and placed 5th out of 48 – I’m happy to say that’s my best result at a major event and proof that I’m still climbing my infinity learning curve after two years of play.