WARNING: This article is long and in depth!
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 as I don’t plan on playing Imperial Service anytime soon and 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)
I went with my usual red and white paint scheme but made the fatigues a dark greyish/black instead of dark brown like on my other light infantry. I like to make my Imperial Service models have a darker tone so the Celestial Guard also has the same colour fatigues. The hardest part was painting the faces as they are quite detailed with very fine details such as the eyes.
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 are 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.
Before we start looking at the profile we need to deal with the pink elephant in the room. Do a search online about Bào troops and it won’t be long till you find a bunch of haters, the Bào get a hard time from the online community and forums but I believe this is because people don’t actually understand their role or play them enough to get a feel for them and their equipment. In Infinity you can’t just play a unit once or twice and write it off, you need to play it again and again in different situations and missions to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Bào have a very specific playstyle and role and are more effective against certain factions than others. Granted, playing Bào in link teams and playing them individually requires a different approach, but any forum thread or post where the Bào are mentioned there will usually be someone who says:
“Oh just use a Rui Shi instead, Rui Shi are better lol”
Really? This post is not to advocate that the Bào are better than the Rui Shi or that the Rui Shi is better than the Bào as they are not, players who think like this need to take stock as the Rui Shi and Bào have different roles and play differently. The problem in the community is role confusion. If you try to play the Bào like a Rui Shi then you will be disappointed, because the Bào is not a Rui Shi. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But it’s an easy mistake to make as people tend to compare similar stats, skills and equipment rather than unit capability as a whole. There are some key differences that make the Bào very different to the Rui Shi which ultimately affect how they are played and their role.
- Light Infantry
- Can go prone
- Can dodge with no penalty
- Can use cautious move
- Smaller silhouette of S2
- Are safe from hacking
- Higher CC, PH, WIP, BTS, ARM
- Have different weapon loadouts and ammo types including AP and DA
- Have X-Visors
- Cost 0 SWC
- Cannot go prone
- Cannot cautious move
- Can dodge but on -3 penalty
- Larger Silhouette of S4
- Vulnerable to hacking
- Can be buffed by supportware (costs orders)
- Higher MOV of 6-4
- Has Spitfire
- Built-in repeater
- Same cost as Bào including hacker tax (8pts)
- Cost 1 SWC
- Requires an engineer to get back online
I’m a Remote…
These differences mean a very different playstyle for both units and different roles. The Rui Shi works best as an aggressive high mobility turret, great for moving up and hunting down enemies/camo markers and providing a channel for your hackers. It can be buffed by supportware making the spitfire very deadly by causing shock and ignoring cover -3 BS penalty. This is all good but this does come at a cost, the Rui Shi is very fragile from return fire and can be hacked into submission, it also poses a risk to your own hackers as enemy hackers can hack through the Rui Shi since it is a repeater. The Rui Shi can be stopped by an enemy hacker before it even rounds the corner as well and if the Rui Shi does go down it also means you need an engineer in your list somewhere to make the repair if you want it back online.
To get the most out of it you also need to spend an order or two to buff it with supportware, especially if you want to use Assisted Fire and then Enhanced reaction in the coming reactive turn (depends whether you want +3 up to 24″ or 2 extra burst and -3 BS penalty to enemy from suppressive fire). So that’s one or two orders less a turn from your pool. When buffed however the Rui Shi is brutal! The Rui Shi is also limited by terrain density, the S4 silhouette makes it easier for enemies to get LoF and some routes may be impassable if the gap is smaller than the 55mm base. Getting into the Armory is a definite no no. The Rui Shi also cannot hide by going prone or dodging to prone and if it does dodge it’s on PH of 7 after the -3 remote penalty. So hiding on a rooftop is also a no go for the Rui Shi.
These are the Rui Shi’s main weaknesses, they may be 2″ faster than Bào speed wise but they are less mobile in the sense it is difficult to hide them because of the larger silhouette, they cannot hide in prone state or on rooftops (and high ground is important in Infinity), they cost extra orders to make more efficient by supportware and they have slightly lower WIP for discovery checks. They also cost 1 SWC and SWC is easy to use up in Yu Jing even without remotes! The Rui Shi garden looks all rosy till you actually examine it up close.. it has inherent weaknesses. But the Rui Shi is still good! The best role for the Rui Shi is a mobile fast attack unit to flank the opponent and shock them with the spitfire and repeater hacking shenanigans.
I’m Light Infantry…
The Bào on the otherhand have a very niche role. 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 and Steel Phalanx. They are not able to swiftly advance up the board like the Rui Shi so with the Bào you need to play dirty and exploit the enemies negative range bands. 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. To do the same thing with a Rui Shi would require hitting on 6s not 9s. If the Bào combi is in suppression in cover the enemy could potentially be on -9 BS in the reactive turn at long range!
Most opponents don’t expect to be hit with a shotgun from 24″ away either. The X-Visor allows the Bào to shoot shotguns 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! Where as the Rui Shi moves up quickly to flank and attack enemies the Bào excel at the opposite, 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 since it uses DA ammo. Where as the Rui Shi can ignore the cover BS penalty with supportware, the Bào can ignore the opponents cover ARM bonus with the shotgun.
Since N3 the infowar has stepped up in Infinity and hacking is becoming more and more prominent. This is where being Light Infantry really shines as the Bào are not troubled by hackers. Since they have high points values the Bào make great troops for holding certain objectives, a great example is the antennas in ITS transmission matrix which require units to hold antennas that act as repeaters for both players all over the board. Where as Rui Shi risks an ARO hack going round the corner, the Bào just laugh as they turn the corner and blast away. They are also great against enemies with viral or breaker ammo (Haqq, MRRF, Tohaa etc) as it uses their BTS value 6 (3 with breaker) instead of ARM 1. Since the Bào are silhouette 2 and LI they can dodge and also use cover more effectively, they are able to go prone and use rooftops etc. Prone is an excellent skill, I have used prone to get down behind a car and sneak round the back of an Aquila Guard’s LoF. Prone is useful and can stop you getting shot! S2 also means the Bào can move through most gaps and have access to all buildings, absolutely crucial in missions like the Armory.
The Bào’s weaknesses are that they too are also fragile even though they have an extra ARM point over the Rui Shi. 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. There is also not much of an incentive to taking Bào if you are against an opponent that uses very little camo/ODD as you are paying a premium in points for MSV2, if the opponent only has 1 camo token it might not be worth it. 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.
…like the Inquisition but with automatic weapons and X-ray vision.
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 to put down smoke for the Bào and then firing through the smoke at targets who don’t have MSV2. At long range in smoke the mods really stack in the Bào’s favour.
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!
Now that we have defined the differences and roles of the Rui Shi and the Bào Troops we can focus more on the weapon profiles of the Bào Troops and how they can be used:
Combi rifle + Light shotgun (X-Visor) – 29pts
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, contender (X-Visor) – 28pts
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 24″ 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. Using the boarding shotgun you either want to be right up close to get +6 BS or at least over 16″ to try and get the enemy into negative range bands. 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, it can be used reliably out to 32″ with no negative BS mods thanks to the X-Visor but could still go for a lucky shot up to 48″ on a -3. It might be wise to dodge at those ranges though if your enemy is using a superior long range weapon. 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 hence being slightly cheaper.
MULTI Sniper-rifle – 30pts / 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 to lay down smoke in front of him, then to stand up and have a field day. The only opponents who can retaliate well 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.