YueFei23 back again, working my way through the Yu Jing units. This time I’m taking a break from new units to have a look at one of the scariest classic units available to Yu Jing and the Invincible Army – the Hac Tao.
Hac Tao translates, with a little fudging, as “Black Way” in Cantonese, which Corvus Belli overconfidently translated as “Black Magic”. From this we can guess the unit might be from southern Space China rather than a northern Mandarin speaker like most of the other Yu Jing units. There’s definitely a little more lost in translation for this unit name than a lot of the others, but the name fits fairly well for a unit that appears out of nowhere and is basically a one man stealth army.
STATS AND SPECIAL RULES
The Hac Tao is a well armoured heavy infantry with TO camouflage – optical camouflage that allows hiding in a token state, inflicts a huge -6 BS mod to units trying to shoot at it, and lets it start the game in hidden deployment and pop out to take surprise shots at your opponent when you need it. Unless your opponent is able to get your deployment zone and conduct a sweep with sensor equipment, it’s extremely unlikely your Hac Tao will be found before it can do any damage. In addition TO camo grants stealth, which allows it to sneak through hacking areas and enemy zones of control without being detected.
The Hac Tao has an extremely solid stat line. CC 19 means that it’s pretty unlikely to miss with it’s DA CCW unless it gets into a fight with a CC specialist, especially if it uses the surprise attack rule when attacking from a token state. BS 14 makes it one of the best shots available to Yu Jing, which combined with TO camo make it a truly formidable gunfighter. PH 14 makes for great dodging ability and high damage in combat. WIP 14 and BTS 6 sets it up as a great hacker, with good offensive and defensive abilities. ARM 5 and 2 wounds should make a great defensive profile, especially considering how hard the Hac Tao should be to land a hit on in the first place.
All profiles have a pistol, DA CCW and nanopulser. The nanopulser is especially neat, as it lets you surprise attack with a template weapon. Against certain troops this could be almost guaranteed to hit – for example, if you were able to creep around behind a remote and unleash this they would be at -9 to dodge. Or even -12 if you could attack through a nimbus cloud or low viz zone…
MULTI rifle: your basic, no frills, no SWC Hac Tao for 64 pts. I’m not a huge fan of this profile, as you’d have to pretty hard up for points to not add a killer hacking device for just more 3 points. A MULTI rifle is a great weapon capable of taking down a TAG with BS 14 and TO camo, but it is rather short ranged for a model that starts in your own deployment zone. If you want to damage with this profile you’ll have to spend a few orders moving it up the table very aggressively and you won’t have much defense against being hacked when you get into your best range bands.
HMG: For 68 points and 2 SWC, you can strap an HMG onto your Hac Tao. This makes it one of the scariest gunfighters in the game, scared only of MSV2 and crits. Also, let’s face it, with BS 14, ARM 5 and burst 4, it’s really not that scared of MSV2 unless it’s on something with explosive ammo. This profile can simply delete ARO pieces, put a -12 MOD on TR bots with a surprise attack (or by careful positioning) and go toe to toe with most opponents. It loses some power up close, but is a great fit for a gun fighter that pops up in your deployment zone and can immediately start knocking a hole in an enemy army.
Boarding shotgun: the rarest profile and one with no model, for a budget 59 points. I’ve never thought of taking this profile, though it could be devastating if you were playing a mission with extended deployment zones and a close quarters battle – perhaps Biotechvore on a corridor table. The +6 range mod would have the Hac Tao hitting on a 20, while putting opponents at -6 or -9 to hit in cover. There are two major downsides to the profile – one, you’ve got a long walk spending a lot of orders to go from your DZ to anywhere close to your enemy – two, you’re at the mercy of hackers if you over extend yourself that way. In the right scenario though, this gun could definitely take down the heaviest of tags or chew apart expensive heavy infantry links.
Missile Launcher: at 65 pts and 2 SWC, a Hac Tao missile launcher is one of the scariest surprise AROs in the game. It’s over 20% of your army, but still worth it to see the horror on the face of an opponent who’s just moved a heavy infantry link out of cover, thinking that only Swiss Guard and Noctifers brought this combo to the game. This is one of the nastiest defensive surprises you can get, as BS 14 doesn’t miss much and you can lock down your opponent’s whole turn until they figure out how to remove the threat, or move safely past it. In the active turn it’s still a large threat, with the TO camo and great BS helping to mitigate the missile launchers low burst.
The biggest hole in this profile is by comparison with the Hac Tao’s cheesy Swiss cousin – up close a nanopulser and pistol just don’t offer the devastating close quarters power a Swiss Guard’s light shotgun give it. Your Hac Tao pretty much wants to stay at long range and avoid close quarters work with this profile.
Hacker (Assault Hacking Device), MULTI rifle: when you absolutely need to kill heavy infantry or tags up close, save up for the 70 pt, 0.5 SWC AHD Hac Tao. At last this is a specialist profile, so at least if you walk it up the table to do some damage it can score some objectives for you on the way. Assault Hacking Devices work well with the great WIP and BTS of a Hac Tao to immobilise or possess enemy hard targets, though you do have to be aware of the threat of Killer Hacking Devices on the table. To some degree you can hack back and if a KHD has singled you out, try using Blackout to disable their hacking device. The MULTI rifle is a good combination with this profile, enabling you to threaten template damage, hacking attacks or shock/AP rounds if you pop around a corner at an enemy.
Executive Order: there are two executive order variants of the MULTI rifle and HMG Hac Tao. This is an interesting and pretty rare rule that lets a Hac Tao appearing from hidden deployment take over lieutenant for an army. This can work well in a couple of ways, first enabling you to fake out your opponent by attacking aggressively using your lieutenant order and then moving it, which may encourage your opponent to chase down a model that they could ignore. Also, you can use it to get your lieutenant order for your Hac Tao, letting you spend it to do more damage. If you take Chain of Command, you could even send your lieutenant on a suicide run, allow your Chain of Command to kick in then use Executive Order to take over and be back in a position where you’ve got a tough heavy infantry lieutenant and Chain of Command ready to take over a second time.
Hacker (Killer Hacking Device), MULTI rifle: for 67 pts and no SWC this is an outstanding profile, and one that’s really unique to the Hac Tao. As a specialist, this guy can go forward, engage with the enemy and be relatively fearless in the face of enemy hackers. If you go near an enemy repeater, you can aggressively assassinate enemy hackers with redrum surprise attacks, or simply use stealth to scoot past it and fight that fight later on. Up close, the MULTI rifle can be devastating to enemy light infantry, heavy infantry and even tags. In ARO it has a solid DA shot, just be careful not to get into gunfights where you’re outranged. For missions where you need to score and control objectives or hold onto midfield, this is a very strong profile to consider.
ON THE TABLE
I have to admit, I’ve had really mixed results with my Hac Tao. For some reason, they seem to attract crits like a swirling black hole and I’ve had no model have so many hopes pinned on it and manage to dash them so fast. Then, in one or two games, they’ve managed to shrug off all damage and win the game for me, controlling a critical objective, dodging threats and putting down all comers with deadly ARO shots.
The HMG and missile launcher gunfighting profiles are the easiest to use, for sure. One works in the active turn and deletes what you want and the other is a scary, scary trap, waiting for your opponent to step out before revealing that no… actually it’s you that controls that fire lane.
The shorter ranged profiles want to be up close, but getting there costs a lot of orders in movement and can leave them unsupported. This can make them more situational – they’re best in missions where your opponent will be forced in towards table center so the Hac Tao can engage without moving too far from your lines. The hacker profiles tend to be best for this, as they can score, do damage and help get money back on their considerable investment multiple ways.
In fact, the worst thing about a Hac Tao is the opportunity cost – you’re tying between a fifth and a quarter of your army into a single two wound, model that generates a single order. If you can’t make it do what you want or it does what it does best and eats a couple of crits, you can end up with a large hole in your army that you were depending on a raging slab of black magic to fill. That’s the conundrum for me – it seems to be a unit that takes a lot of practice to use well, but one that should only be taken when it’s the best tool for a certain job.