Back in N2, there was a huge outcry about Yu Jing's heavy infantry. They were not, it was said, unique enough or interesting enough to warrant calling Yu Jing the "HI faction". Then a few newer heavies started to trickle out, and people got excited about the direction Yu Jing was headed in. Still, there were some serious problems of parallel: Hsien versus Aquila, Hac Tao versus Swiss, and so on. These issues made Yu Jing players wonder what exactly Corvus Belli meant by "HI faction" after all.
Then came N3, which has basically become the golden age of Yu Jing heavy infantry. The faction now has so many choices that only the most cynical naysayer would try to argue that it is not the foremost HI faction in the game. In this article, though, I want to focus on the costly heavies; the ones that are harder to justify and harder to play because of their price tag.
Not counting Sun Tze, Yu Jing has six distinct heavy infantry choices hovering around (or over) 50 points. Six is a lucky number that denotes the concept of "well off", as in being well-off...which can definitely be said of Yu Jing in this new edition. None of the six options are easy choices, though; they all have something that sets them apart from the rest, and they all deal with foes a little differently. Let's take a look.
Yan Huo – The Punisher
This sucker is a ranged fire support platform on legs. It doesn't move quickly because it doesn't need to move quickly: all of its options have incredible range and incredible punch. Whether you choose the MULTI HMG, the Hyper-Rapid Magnetic Cannon, or the dual Missile Launchers, anything the Yan Huo fires at needs to either duck back into cover or die trying. This makes it especially good at attacking models that aren't so great at Dodging or failing Guts rolls.
Movement is one of the most important stats in Infinity. Where, then, does a 4-2 beast like the Yan Huo fit in? It has a hard time getting around the battlefield, except for its ability to hop higher obstacles because of its silhouette size. This makes it hard for the Yan Huo to chase down enemies, because it can only plod along at a certain pace while blowing through a tonne of orders to do so. The answer to this question is, I think, in its choice of role.
I've called the Yan Huo "The Punisher" because I believe it works best when it punishes enemies that have been left out in the open. Unlike some of the other heavies I'll talk about later on, the Yan Huo does not want to hunt its prey; instead, it wants to punish them for foolishly leaving themselves visible at the end of your opponent's turn. With BS14, long-ranged weapons, and an in-Cover ARM value of 8, the Yan Huo presents a deadly threat to visible enemy models. All it takes is a little reposition along your back line, and your Yan Huo should have clear line of fire to a juicy target.
The Yan Huo doesn't engage. Instead, it picks off stragglers and makes it hard for your opponent to leave models visible. That is why it is the Punisher.
Daofei – The Disruptor
The Daofei is a full-blown HI with the ability to deploy halfway up the table and in Camouflage. Its stats are on the average side, but its strength is in its ability to get up in your opponent's face right away. With a variety of rangeband options, from the Boarding Shotgun to the HMG, the Daofei can be customized to fill any early-game role you need. This makes it fantastic at disrupting the enemy and making sure that s/he spends their first turn dealing with a heavy infantry instead of tackling objectives or chasing down the rest of your troops.
Many people seem hesitant to invest so many points in a model that's incapable of capturing objectives, which is why it's a good thing that the Daofei has an Assault Hacker option. As a HI, it is already vulnerable to hacking attempts, so the Assault Hacking Device does not open up much in the way of further vulnerabilities (as it would in some other models). It also allows the Daofei to immobilize its HI and REM cousins, and open fire on them with AP rounds while they sit around doing nothing. With an Assault Hacking Device, this model can sit behind a wall (in or out of Camo) and disrupt enemy movements without even spending an order.
I've called the Daofei "The Disruptor" because its position, durability, and optimal weapon selection make it incredibly good at screwing up your opponent's plans. Whether you make it an Assault Hacker, a longer-ranged Spitfire or HMG, or even a close-range Boarding Shotgun, the Daofei gets up in your opponent's face quickly and effectively. Like all models, it has its weaknesses – a low BTS score and a high fatality rate if not supported properly – but that does not make it any less effective at what it does.
The Daofei does not sit back and wait for the perfect moment. Instead, it utilizes Camouflage and superior range-bands to get in there and make life miserable for your opponent. That is why it is the Disruptor.
Hac Tao – The Bastard
I realize that the title here is a bit vague, but each and every time I've seen the Hac Tao used effectively, it gets called a bastard – or something much worse. This is, in terms of sheer numbers, the foremost Heavy Infantry in Yu Jing's arsenal. It's a fast-moving heavy with the highest stats available for its type (except for Achilles, who is an even bigger bastard), and it sports the incredible TO Camouflage to make your opponent's attempts to deal with it even harder.
The Hac Tao also has a variety of equipment options to compliment its high stats, and almost every loadout includes a Nanopulsar just to increase the model's combat options. You may not be tempted by the Boarding Shotgun loadout (why minimize your modifiers?), but all of its other guns can reach out and touch someone at respectable distances. The Assault Hacker loadout means that it can claim objectives and surprise-hack people through Repeaters (if you have them), and the fact that it carries a MULTI Rifle (read: Shock ammo) to deal with all those pesky specialists doesn't hurt.
I've called the Hac Tao "The Bastard" because it can be a real thorn in your opponent's side. Its combination of incredibly good stats, useful weapon loadouts, and TO Camouflage mean that your opponent has to invest a lot in killing it. Once you decide to reveal it from its position, that is. It is also exceptionally good at firing from Suppressive Fire, because of its high BS, the insane penalties it confers, and its ability to punish your opponent when you get back to your active turn.
The Hac Tao does not need tricks and angles to beat an opponent. Instead, it utilizes the sheer brute force of its stats and equipment to give your opponent a target that is incredibly hard to remove. It is a nightmare to curtail, and an even bigger nightmare to dispose of. That is why it is the Bastard.
Hsien – The Hunter
This model is the perfect Camo hunter. It moves quickly, has incredible defensive stats for the inevitable counter-attack (or, better yet, to dissuade a counter-attack altogether), and wears an MSV2 to bypass all of those pesky TO Camo and ODD penalties your opponent might be taking advantage of. The Hsien starts in your deployment zone, true, but no unit exists in a vacuum: taking the time to clear the field a bit allows you to leverage this fantastic piece of anti-hiding technology to the fullest.
There has been a great amount of discussion over the Hsien and its up-and-coming cousin the Crane, and much of it boils down to how well-rounded the Crane actually is. The Hsien, in contrast, is a tough heavy with a visor, and that's apparently all. Well, this is only part of the story, because the Hsien enjoys many advantages that the Crane does not. First, it's got a higher brute-force BS stat, which – when coupled with the fact that it does not take any penalties firing at Camo/TO/ODD models (not even Triangulated Fire penalties, and not even Cover if you've positioned correctly) – makes it very easy to put down your target. Second, it is not reliant upon Long Orders to assault Camo positions. Sure, it's got a Nanopulsar, but that's just a backup plan to your high WIP score and the visor that lets you ignore all penalties to Discover. A Crane can pop Sensor and start Triangulating, sure, but a Hsien can do this while moving – and orders are precious to a good Infinity player. The Hsien can also assault Camo while in LoF of other models, which a Crane cannot: Triangulated Fire is lovely, yes, but it is a Long Order that provokes AROs: the guy you're shooting at might have a hard time resisting, but anyone else who sees you will get a free shot. You can't always rely on your ARM/BTS for these, either.
I've called the Hsien "The Hunter" because I think its optimal role is that of a model that actively chases down tricked-out enemy threats. There are many ways to deal with Camouflage penalties, but the MSV2 is the most blunt instrument available to Yu Jing – and sometimes brute force is exactly what you need to give your other models breathing room. The Hsien might take a bit of time to close in, but many of its targets are going to be on the halfway line anyway. Martial Arts grants the Hsien the Stealth ability, which means that it can stalk around in Zone of Controls much more easily until it finds its intended target.
The Hsien doesn't sit around and let Camo models expose themselves. Instead, it goes on the active hunt, spending each order effectively on a systematic location and elimination of the enemy. This is why it is the Hunter.
Crane – The Generalist
The Crane is the new headliner as far as N3 Yu Jing HI goes. Like the Daofei, its stats are on the average side (except for its BTS), but what it "lacks" in numbers it definitely makes up in versatility. With every loadout able to bring the pain from short and long ranges, the Crane is a troubleshooter extraordinaire. This makes it incredible at adapting to situations as things change, as it will always be kitted to deal with whatever threat pops up next.
The Crane used to be the token "do not field" of the faction back in N2, but N3 has changed things. It's no longer one of the only fast-moving 50+ point HI, but it's also no longer burdened by the outrageously expensive Monofilament weapon, instead carrying the hard-hitting DA CCW. When paired with its inherently high CC, Martial Arts 3, and Stealth, this means that the Crane can deal death at very close range. It also carries dual Nanopulsars for when you need to deal with a model in Cover and/or with low BTS. Most loadouts have an X-Visor to help them win trades against other Rifle-toting models, and there is an Assault Hacker option which pairs very well with Stealth and the Crane's ability to mow down any models it immobilizes (unlike many other Hackers!).
I've called the Crane "The Generalist" because it has tools to deal with most situations. Sensor allows it to reveal Camo and to perform Triangulated Fire, and Kinematika L2 means that it can Engage from up to 4" away. Dual template weapons increases the chances of flushing models out of Cover, and a longer-ranged weapon paired with an X-Visor means that the Crane can compete with models that should be in similar range bands with an obvious advantage. Even though this model is statistically average, it carries a wide variety of tools that let it go on the offence or defence, get into melee or shoot it out from afar.
The Crane is never stuck facing down a threat that it can't handle. Instead, it uses a vast array of tools to its advantage in gunning or cutting down the enemy. This is why it is the Generalist.
Su Jian – The Responder
The Su Jian is the only transforming HI in the game, and it uses that ability to alternate between lightning-fast and shoot-to-kill modes. This flexible, mobile unit is only hindered by its large silhouette, but many players see that as a benefit as it lays down some serious Suppressive Fire from unexpected angles. The Su Jian is also a veritable swiss army knife of equipment, as it packs a Spitfire, Light Flamethrower and Panzerfaust – completely ready to deal with any threat!
The Su Jian has seen a decline in use in N3, mostly because the other Yu Jing heavies have become so very viable. I would argue that the increased silhouette size (and subsequent "need" to rebase) have also negatively impacted the Su Jian's table time, but that doesn't mean that the Su Jian is out of the running. On the contrary, it is an incredibly useful unit because it can react to threats wherever they pop up. Between its long-ranged weapons, a 6-6 Climbing Plus mode, and the ability to use Cautious Movement, the Su Jian can basically get anywhere.
Once it responds to an urgent situation, the Su Jian deploys its fantastic weaponry to take care of the issue. Sure, it lacks things like MSV and Sensor, but that's made up for by its incredible mobility: it's good practice to outflank your opponent and open up further opportunities rather than relying on brute force all the time. Its Spitfire helps take down the majority of targets with high burst, while the Light Flamethrower deals with models in Cover and those pesky Camo/TO/ODD models, too. The Panzerfaust is for shooting big models in the back and returning fire from a distance. This means the Su Jian can get into place quickly and use the best weaponry for the job when it gets there.
I've called the Su Jian "The Responder" because it is the most mobile of Yu Jing heavies, and carries the most versatile equipment in a single loadout. It's able to deal with whatever issue arises in a tactically flexible manner, rather than relying on brute-force equipment like some of the other HI in its points bracket. It may have a relatively average statline, but it makes up for it in its speed and ability to adapt to the situation.
The Su Jian doesn't rely on everything going according to plan. Instead, it reacts and responds to situations as they arise, allowing you to plug gaps and react to your opponent's strategic movements in the most appropriate way possible. This is why it is the Responder.
Yu Jing players are spoiled for choice when it comes to heavy infantry, so it's important to know which model does what, and especially important to know under what set of circumstances each one excels. Sure, you could just grab whichever HI and play it into the ground, but true strategic wisdom comes from knowing all of your options and exploiting them to the fullest. There are a lot of players out there who'll swear by a single model, or argue that one model is the best-without-exception, but the reality is that Infinity is a lot more complex than that. Different models have different strengths, and you need to know all of them to choose the one that suits you best.