Let’s take a plunge into darkness for a while…a unit with a dark backstory and great aesthetic, the Bào Troops Judicial Watch Unit. Authorised by the Yu Jing Emperor to ‘tie up loose ends’…I just couldn’t resist! I didn’t pick up the full box when I bought them in the past as their AVA is limited to 2 in standard Yu Jing, however I wanted to start using these guys in my lists because of their gear and aesthetic. They just look so cool! Thankfully I picked up the combi rifle Bào and the contender Bào from ChoKonnit’s split box deal over on the forums. (I recommend checking it out). Turns out this decision worked out well as the 2 Bào I have are perfect for forming a Haris team with a Pheasant Agent in ISS!
So who are the Bào Judicial Watch Unit?
“Bào Troops… like the Inquisition but with automatic weapons and X-ray vision.”
Extract from the chapter “Primary threats” written by analyst technician Katharina Baum. The Black Hand Cover Agent Operative Handbook.
Leopard (Bào) is the symbol of the third and fourth ranks of Imperial civil servants. In the Imperial Service, military ranks are only granted to public servants with special or “sensible” kinds of tasks.
“Structures of Imperial Service” by Julie Gerrold, University of Manaheim web-publisher, Concilium Prima.
The Bào (Leopard) Troops are an elite squad dedicated to tying up any loose ends the Imperial Service may have left behind in the path of progress. They are basically the Emperor’s headhunters, dangerous people, who live on the edge and are always moving between zones of moral shadows. The Bào Troops are an unrelenting and merciless unit exclusively dedicated to the hunting of insurrectionists, traitors and those disaffected towards the Emperor and the State Empire of Yu Jing. Just to clarify: if Celestial Guards are euphemistically said to have a “bad reputation”, next to the Bào they are as angelic as their name suggests.
Bào Troops comprise a force of tough and absolutely fanatical men, but in a twisted way. They are a bunch of thugs with a badge who disdain the barriers between good and evil and who are faithful only to their own code. Their main motivations are their unconditional loyalty towards the Emperor and their visceral hatred towards any enemy of the Dragon. These two regimental directives make the Bào Troops as recklessly brave as they are insensitive towards human life; in them lies both the hero and the villain, with a history of renowned actions on battlefields alongside fearsome atrocities in policing and internal security tasks.
Executions, pogroms, torture and dreadful interrogations are the hallmarks of the Bào Troops. The outrages committed by this unit in its repressive activities have been so brutal and notorious that even the omnipresent machinery of the State Empire media control has been unable to cover them up. So, to avoid the so called “rabid hounds of the Dragon” again unleashing their inner psychopath, the Emperor himself has ordered them to now always act under the supervision of an Imperial Agent Pheasant Rank. However, to these sadistic and savage professionals of the human hunt, whose operating terrain is the most absolute moral darkness, there is no leash that can hold them back in their obsessive crusade against the Emperor’s enemies.
Oh yes, total bad asses! The Judge Dredd’s of the Infinity universe. Watch your step Citizen…The Judicial Watch are the dark horse of Yu Jing and reveal the seedy underworld side of the State Empire. As well as the fluff above the Bào were also used in rooting out Triad operations in the Yu Jing empire as Yu Jing had a tumultuous history with triad groups, one of the reasons the Imperial Service was set up was to restore order to society and purge it of the criminal Triad influences and activities that were subverting the Party policies and openly defying the rule of the Emperor.
I’ve noticed a change in the community regarding Bào since HSN3. In the past they were often sidelined or compared to the Rui Shi wrongfully whenever there was discussion about them (you can read about that in the pre-HSN3 article I did here). I suspect this is because people are actually giving them more of a chance now and getting results, HSN3 also revamped the Bào making them a very attractive and more affordable option now than before.
So what changes did the Bào receive in HSN3? Let’s look at the profile.
‘The Emperor’s Headhunters’
The Bào received 3 new loadouts and had some existing loadouts tweaked, stat wise they lost -1 PH to help reduce their points cost. This doesn’t really hurt the Bào at all as in most situations it’s pretty much almost always better to shoot with them anyway thanks to their visors.
In regards to their stats they are rather average for this point cost and can look rather underwhelming however you don’t take Bào for their raw stats, it’s their equipment and how you use them that gives them the real edge. One of the most notable stats though is their unusually high BTS of 6, making them relatively resilient against viral/BTS/nanotech/stun weaponry or anything that affects BTS! This is good because usually weaponry that targets BTS are found on more premium units that you will often find engaging the Bào.
The Bào’s weaknesses are that they are fragile against standard ammunition. They need to be hidden well and use the terrain and range to avoid been picked off, they would also do well not to engage in sustained firefights with more durable units like Heavy Infantry as they can be overwhelmed very quickly. They also don’t have many weapons in terms of high burst, utility yes, burst no. So the Bào need to engage lightly equipped units to make their shots count. Overall with the Bào you either want to be really far away to use X-Visors or really up close to make use of their shotguns and positive range bands. Sitting somewhere in the middle doesn’t usually end well for the Bào as the opponent can get in his good range bands. It should also be said that with the introduction of the new Albedo rule in HSN3 that Bào need to be careful not to be caught out by units like the Black Friar or against enemies that can create white noise zones.
‘…like the Inquisition but with automatic weapons and X-ray vision.’
HSN3 brought about new toys for the Bào Troops making them one of the most well equipped light infantry units that Yu Jing has and also the only access to the new Biometric Visor. Not only that but Bào get the very best and have Biometric visor L2. It also brought about changes in the visor combinations that the Bào can take:
- Gained a Biometric visor profile for the boarding shotgun/contender and combi/light shotgun profiles
- Gained a dual Biometric visor / MSV2 profile for the boarding shotgun only, no contender
- Lost X-Visors on the boarding shotgun profiles (boooo!)
The loss of the X-Visors on the boarding shotgun and contender is a great shame as they were potent ARO pieces, not many people expected a boarding shotgun pushing out to 24″ either in the active turn. However not all is lost as the light shotgun on the combi rifle profile can still blast away up to 24″ with the X-Visor!
MSV2 and X-Visors
The hallmark of the Bào Troops is their paired visors, a great tactic to use with the Bào is to put down smoke to utilise their MSV2 and X-Visors to full effect. This is a great trick that really brings out the Bào’s dirty playstyle. This is probably the best tactical way to play the Bào provided the enemy doesn’t have MSV2 otherwise it doesn’t work. I typically use a Celestial Guard with a smoke launcher or Shaolin Monks to put down smoke for the Bào and then fire through the smoke at targets who don’t have MSV2. At long range in smoke the mods really stack in the Bào’s favour which leverages their BS 12.
Against non MSV2 troops in smoke and in cover at long range the enemy can potentially be at -12 and even unable to shoot back! -6 BS for smoke, -3 BS for range and -3 BS for cover. The Bào on the other hand has -3 for cover and that’s it usually, still hitting on 9’s at least! Unless that opponent is BS 13 or higher there is no way they can shoot back.
The Bào work best when utilising their X-Visors to punish enemies from long range in negative range bands and lock down corridors well in suppression and long range AROs. Like the Rui Shi they also make great camo hunters, especially against camo/ODD heavy armies like Ariadna, Shasvastii, Steel Phalanx and even PanO. With the Bào you need to play dirty and exploit the enemies negative range bands and terrain. This can be difficult as you need to know what weaponry the enemy is carrying, be able to eyeball ranges and also be in the right position to pull this off. For example with the X-Visor/MSV2 the Bào can shoot out with the combi rifle up to 32″ and ignore the -3 range penalty and also ignore any mimetism, camo, TO camo or ODD mods. The only negative mods the Bào will encounter usually is cover and maybe suppression! When the Bào combi is shooting out at long range from cover at an enemy in cover with a combi the Bào is hitting on 9s while the enemy shoots back on -6 BS for range and cover.
Most opponents don’t expect to be hit with a shotgun from 24″ away either. The X-Visor allows the Bào to shoot the light shotgun at their max 24″ away with no negative range mod whatsoever, this is even better when you consider that blast mode ignores the cover +3 ARM bonus. No +3 ARM for you haha! Bào are great at holding back and exploiting range bands with their X-Visors. This doesn’t mean you can’t get up close though and the Bào are still lethal up close, if they can get in their positive range bands you can have a lot of fun with the shotguns for sure. The contender also makes a great ARO weapon to whip out within 16″ since it uses DA ammo and hits hard.
Suppressive fire is one of Bào combi profiles best strengths as they are almost guaranteed to be hitting on 9s within 24″ because of the X-Visor (assuming the opponent is in cover). Using smoke to cover the Bào and then entering into suppressive fire in a position on a roof is a very effective and annoying tactic. If the Bào combi is in suppression in cover the enemy could potentially be on -9 BS in the reactive turn at long range!
Biometric Visor L2
The new Bio visor adds another layer of utility to the Bào and is currently the only access Yu Jing has to these visors. They are highly situational but come very cheap. I like to take the Bio visor as a dual visor option with the MSV2, you lose the contender but having both visors makes this Bào a good backfield guard. You can take the Bio visor profile on it’s own if you are really struggling for points or if you just need someone as a backfield impersonator counter. Bio visor helps against impersonators and holoprojecting units so taking a Bio visor Bào mainly depends on your local gaming community.
If you frequently encounter Speculos or Fidays, holoprojector troops or killer hackers using Cybermask then the Bào with a bio visor might just be what you need. Bio L2 ignores the -6 from Impersonation 1 and also ignores the surprise shot from impersonation/holoprojector units completely if they decide to target the Bào. It also gives them +3 WIP for discovering these types of units making the Bào effectively WIP 17! X-ray vision indeed!
If you don’t really face impersonators and holoprojector units then the MSV2 only profiles are likely to give you the most benefit. However if you do face them a lot then a Biometric visor only profile can work too. The dual visor profile is one of my favourites as it covers both and makes the Bào ready for either situation.
‘…Fanatical men, but in a twisted way…’
Now that we have looked at the visor options and their usage, let’s look at each weapon loadout.
Combi rifle + Light shotgun (X-Visor) profiles
This Bào Troop is great for holding corridors and exploiting range bands. The combi/shotgun combo gives this Bào the right tools for the job whether at range or up close which is nice. The combi rifle is useful for taking long range shots at enemies over 16″, the important thing is to see what weapon the enemy is holding and position the Bào troop in the enemy’s negative range band. As a side note it is not always a good idea to be taking on an enemy HMG or a sniper rifle unless you are up close or really have to, up close the shotgun would be your better bet. He can suppress effectively with no range mods up to 24″, Burst 3 on 12s or 9s in cover – nice! If you are in an advantageous position don’t be afraid to get in the +3 positive range band, the Bào still have a decent BS of 12. Hitting on 15s on enemies with no cover or 12s with cover is still respectable.
The light shotgun is great for denying enemies of their cover ARM bonus or hitting clumps of enemies. It has less range and burst than the combi but it makes up for it by denying the +3 ARM bonus. Most of the time it only takes 1 or 2 shots to get through to knock an enemy unconscious anyway. The shotgun is great on boards with dense terrain where the Bào can make more use of the blast template and +6 BS range band, they also do a good job at storming rooms and buildings.
Boarding shotgun and contender profiles
A more close range variant of the Bào which focuses on higher damage, lower burst and ignoring cover ARM to be effective. The boarding shotgun works well out to 16″ and has more punch than the combi, damage 14 ignoring cover ARM bonuses usually results in death for most lightly armoured units. Having the option of blast mode and AP mode means this Bào Troop can engage highly armoured targets too. If the enemy is in cover then the blast mode is best to take away ARM 3, AP mode is best used against targets with no cover in the open or with ARM higher than 8 like TAGs. As with all shotguns it’s lethal in enclosed environments and buildings.
The contender is nice as an ARO response as it uses DA ammo forcing 2 armour saves. If the enemy pushes forward and is outside of the shotguns +6 range (0-8″) but in the contenders +3 range (8-16″) then the contender hits hard hitting on either a 15 or 12 depending on cover. Since the contender is only Burst 1 it is best as an ARO weapon.
The boarding shotgun / contender Bào hits harder than his combi brother but at reduced burst and range hence being slightly cheaper.
MULTI Sniper-rifle – 29pts / 1.5 SWC
The last option for the Bào is the MULTI Sniper-rifle. This variant does not have the X-Visor but this assumes that you will be deploying at long range anyway in good range bands and in the enemy’s negative bands, which is what you would do with the X-Visor anyway. This is nice as it reduces his points cost by not paying for the X-Visor.
The sniper variant is basically a BS 12 MSV2 sniper, they are one of the better sniper shots in Yu Jing and can make a decent ARO piece. However they are quite fragile so they need to be setup in cover with a good corridor view to be effective. The best exploit of the Bào sniper is to deploy prone up high and wait for a supporting unit like the Celestial Guard or Shaolin Monks to lay down smoke in front of him, then to stand up and have a field day. The only opponents who can retaliate will be MSV2+ / Sixth Sense L2 enemies, everyone else is going to suffer -6 BS from smoke if they ARO shoot back.
Used in this way the Bào sniper can frankly be a headache for your opponent.
So what do you like about the Bào Troops? What are your experiences with them? Please leave a comment below and we can all share in the knowledge.