Welcome back to Catching Snowflakes, our series of tactics articles covering the less popular or prolific factions of Infinity. In this week’s article we’re talking about Ikari Company.
Welcome to another entry in the Chasing Snowflakes series. This week we’re taking a look at Ikari Company, which is the sectorial-variant of JSA that trades Domaru and high AVA of Ninja for great Fireteam options (which you will use) and Space Pirates (which you will not).
A Faction for the discerning Space-Pirate-Gentleman
So, those jerks at your FLGS suckered you into Infinity with the JSA starter box, The Grand Lie: “You only need 10 models.” and yet you later found that JSA just isn’t quite for you? Too many other anime nerds playing JSA in your meta and need something to differentiate yourself from the pack? Good news, chummer, Ikari is here to help you shine like the crazy, unique diamond that you are. Rejoice.
Ikari holds a special place in my heart, it’s a faction that has discarded the conceit of measured scenario play and runs screaming at your opponent’s DZ. For a sectorial that could have been a straight up joke, there’s a surprising amount of depth to Ikari. Stay a while and listen, weary traveller, and allow me to tell you about how Ikari means Anger in Japanese…
I see two primary options here:
- Keisotsu and Tanko: Three vanilla Keisotsu (potentially one being a Lt), a Paramedic Keisotsu (upgrade to a Brawler Doctor if you’re keen) and a Tanko Missile Launcher. This is a very passive Fireteam but the Tanko presents a terrifying ARO threat and, honestly, keeps any potential Lieutenants safe. You can possibly swap a Keisotsu out for a Brawler if you want a mildly survivable Light Shotgun to guard your Tanko’s back but we’re here to save points so this is not a strong recommendation.
- WuMing: Start with a Panzerfaust/LSG or two, then pick your active piece (HMG or HRL), a dash of Boarding Shotgun WuMing with Tinbot (for that sweet, sweet Tinbot -6 action), and sprinkle in a little Brawler (Engineer or not, wouldn’t bother with the Doctor, though) and potentially even a Clipper (if you want to save points and have the SWC spare) to taste.
My cheeky Haris of choice is the Daiyokai Multi-marksman escorted by two Tanko with Blitzen and Light Shotguns. The Daiyokai is a solid shooter and all three models are absolute beasts in close combat. Additionally, they all have access to pretty horrific ARO weapons.Great for locking down part of the table on deployment.
Alternatively, if you’re worried about your ARO-game, you can try something like: WuMing Panzerfaust, Clipper, Brawler Engineer. It’s a relatively cheap and sticky haris that throws AP+EXP AROs at people. The WuMing can blow his load on the first ARO and even if he loses the F2F roll and takes a wound, he can drop prone and preserve his order for your army. The Clipper might go unconscious but the Brawler is well positioned to repair them and ask your opponent to gamble with their lives a second time.
However, when it comes to the choice of Haris in some of my Ikari lists I sometimes ask myself: Por que no los dos?
I’ve taken both the Daiyokai-Tanko and WuMing-Clipper pieces in a single list and assigned the Haris to whichever needs it more at the time. If I’m going first, the Daiyokai might be my starting Haris but if I go second I set up the WuMing and Clipper as Burst-2 ARO pieces and then, once they’ve heroically sacrificed themselves to blunt my opponent’s Alpha Strike, I switch over to the Daiyokai, cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.
What is with NA2 factions and having terrible/telegraphed Lt options?
- Keisotsu: Cheap, easily plugged into your backfield Fireteam: Core or tucked away into a corner (preferably with at least one more vanilla Keisotsu hiding somewhere else). Downsides? WIP 12 and 0.5 SWC.
- Brawler: Still WIP 12 but costs 50% more than the Keisotsu. However, 0 SWC might be of value to you.
On the plus side, both your Lt options are WIP 12, so you’re never giving anything away with the WIP roll. Unlike JSA, there’s no Chain of Command option, so you’ll have to be relatively cagey with your Lt in Ikari. It’s not a terrible idea to take a Decoy Keisotsu and hide them in a corner, they’re still a 9 point Regular order, so they can still contribute as a cheerleader from the sidelines. As neither Brawler nor Keisotsu is terribly fighty, I think the Daiyokai NCO is the best way to spend your Lt order in Ikari.
Bikers, Krakots and Kendrats, oh my. This is one of the few factions in the game that I think is designed to lean into warbands in N4. These cheeky sods are here to close the distance with your enemy, strip away any mid-field defences, bore a hole through their chest cavity and start gorging themselves on the gooey viscera of your opponent’s bloated corpse. Yummo. The hard question is: How much Warband is too much Warband? I think the right answer is 2 in a list is a sweet spot, 3 at a stretch (if one of them is a Krakot or Kendrat). Otherwise you start limiting your ability to go tall on order expenditure (Tall: spending multiple orders on a single piece as it digs deeper into the enemy lines, as opposed to wide, which is spending orders on multiple attack pieces in a turn).
Take Yojimbo, he’s good. He’s real good. If you absolutely have to, you can downgrade him into a Desperado (but don’t do that. Seriously.).
Heavy Infantry, potentially with a penchant for Stabbing
Tanko, Daiyokai, and even WuMing are all well priced HI that bring some nice kit to the table. Putting your Tanko into a Haris will give them access to Cover again, which is huge for Arm 3 2-wound models that cost 17+ points each. I prefer the 18 point Blitzen/Light Shotgun profile as you’ve got multiple ways to solve problems with that loadout. Don’t ever forget that a Tanko is a pretty decent melee combatant with a monofilament CCW. Nobody likes to be told: Roll 13+ or die.
The Daiyokai is a curious beast. A bit slow but quite survivable, dangerous at range and in melee. Both the Red Fury and Multi-Marksman Rifle are perfectly viable options. I prefer the Multi on the grounds of having access to AP-ammo when facing off against other HI or TAGs but having the Red Fury roll 5 dice (in a Haris) at Damage 14 is not a bad choice, either. Access to the Lieutenant’s order via NCO represents an incredibly tantalising proposition in a faction where the only Lieutenant options are all limp-wristed potatoes.
WuMing are cute. They’re well priced and bring some really interesting loadouts. Downside is that they don’t have Stealth, are low BTS and don’t have Cubes. This opens them up to a variety of problems. Though, to be fair, they’re one of a few non-Ariadnan units that can flip the bird at a Combine model with Sepsitor and tell them to do their worst. It’s something.jpg
I quite like the Panzerfaust + LSG option, as they are good link-filler and provide a scary ARO threat. While they aren’t grabbing headlines like other loadouts, there’s value in considering what the Multi-Rifle Grenade Launcher and even the E/Mitter and Mines profiles can do for you.
I mean, sure, some people call them Karakuri and they are entirely correct in doing so but you know what they are and why they’re here.Technically, they’re HI and should be included in the section above but they are relatively unique in their contribution to your game plan that they warrant a separate (albeit brief) discussion. STR 3 and Total Immunity represents a level of survivability you would see in TAGs and other premium pieces. Paying 40-45 points for this privilege is just crazy. I’m not convinced two Karakuri are an auto-include for every Ikari list forever but if you didn’t give serious consideration to taking at least one in most lists I wouldn’t be Ikari, just disappointed.
My personal favorite loadouts are the HSG and Multi-Rifle as they both have access to AP-ammo (noting that everyone gets Panzerfausts, of course) and these weapons have unique applications in both Reactive and Active play. In particular, the HSG who can leverage Total Immunity and 3 Structure to really bully your opponent. Taking an Engineer to repair a broken Karakuri is the sort of fun that should be illegal but isn’t.
As an addenda to this discussion of Japanese Robot Puppets, this is your friendly reminder that ‘Robo-Geisha’ is a real film and that you should watch it if you haven’t already.
I’d feel bad listing all of Ikari’s strengths and failing to give the humble MSV-2 Spitfire-toting RuiShi an honorary mention.
Weaknesses and Limitations
Specialists and the pushing of buttons
Ikari doesn’t have a great selection of button pushing pieces. Aside from your AVA 1 Ninja, you’re limited to foot-slogging pieces out of your DZ or either a Specialist Bashi Bazouk or the Cube Jager walking in from the side. While this can sound daunting, just remember that the Ikari creed is: A specialist need not be afraid of an enemy who has been totally and utterly subjugated (which is a fancy way of saying: “Kill ‘em all and then push buttons”).
Ikari is here to chew space-gum and go first and we’re all outta space-gum. With a strong predisposition towards offensive gameplay/alpha strikes and relatively limited access to mid-field defences, Ikari hates going second and that means your opponent is going to force you to take sloppy-seconds every time your idiot WIP 12 Lieutenants let you down. You’re going to need a plan to deal with this eventuality. See my thoughts above on using a sacrificial Haris to buy you some breathing room. Karakuri are also an excellent order sink if they’re well positioned.
We’re here to hack limbs, not the planet. Ikari cares not for this new fangled concept of cyber-hacking. You might consider a Keisotsu Hacker in your Fireteam: Core if you think your Repeaters are going to spend time in the mid-field but otherwise, I think there’s not a lot of space for regular Hacking Devices in Ikari. That said, the Ninja KHD feels like a very spicy pick. Well-costed, has great surprise factor, and can be a mid-field specialist if needed. I’ve toyed with the idea of taking the regular Hacking Device ninja (comes with SMG, for a much improved ranged output) but the cost (and loss of DA CCW) hasn’t quite worked out for me yet.
Very Hackable Heavy Infantry
It’s great that we’re bringing HI back, it really is. However, the faction seems to have settled on BTS 3 HI (with the mild exception of Karakuri and *snicker* …the Al Fasid.). The Tanko and Daiyokai have Stealth but the WuMing don’t, so wading through an enemy Repeater network could prove to be a frustrating experience for you. The absence of a solid Hacking presence (see above) compounds this issue somewhat. Remedies for this problem may include: Taking the Ninja KHD to give you some counter play against enemy Hackers; taking the EVO-Hacker remote for Fairy Dust; taking the Tinbot (Firewall -6) WuMing, or; using your warbands to clear out any hackers and repeaters who may prove troublesome.
It wouldn’t be a complete discussion of Ikari if we didn’t touch on the classic Ikari icon, the Yuan Yuan. Back when we weren’t limited by total model counts, paying less than 10 points each for 3-4 murder-pirates was the done thing. Not so anymore. There are several issues with Yuan Yuan that bear mentioning:
- They do not get to use their Impetuous order to land/walk onto the table anymore. That’s a big hit to their order efficiency. It does, incidentally, mean that you can theoretically use an EVO hacker to give them Controlled Jump before they spend their Irregular Orders to arrive. Are you a bad enough dude to
save the President…sink points into an EVO hacker to support your Yuan Yuan?
- With only 15 ‘order generating models’ in your list at most, it can be very hard to justify Yuan Yuan over other Irregular/Impetuous models such as Yojimbo, Desperados, or even Krakots (who, despite being Regular, occupy the same conceptual space as other Warbands). I think I fundamentally just like Desperados better at 6 points (especially for that sweet Burst 5 Assault Pistol), but even the BSG for 11 points feels like it has more utility.
Ikari means Anger
Fireteam Core: Keisotsu with Combi-Rifle x3 (inc. Lt), Keisotsu Paramedic, Tanko with Missile Launcher
Haris (ARO): WuMing HMG, Brawler Engineer, Clipper Dronbot
Haris (Active): Daiyokai with Multi-Marksman rifle, Tanko with Blitzen and LSG x2
Desperado with Assault Pistol (+1B)
You’ve got a solid ARO/Reactive base as well as several excellent attack pieces. If your opponent attempts to lock down your HI with a Hacker, show them your mad Ninja skills. You’re a bit light on Specialists so don’t play this mission into Mindwipe. Or Highly Classified. …Or Countermeasures.
Fireteam Core: WuMing HMG, WuMing BSG with Firewall -6 Tinbot, WuMing with SMG, Clipper, vanilla Brawler
Keisotsu with Combi Rifle x2 (with one being Lt)
Desperado with +1B Assault Pistols
Fugazi Dronbot (AKA Flashy Boi)
Karakuri with HSG
Haris: Daiyokai with Multi-Marksman rifle, Tanko with Blitzen and LSG x2
You thought I was going to write a button-pushing Ikari list as a counterpoint to the first list, didn’t you? Enjoy almost 13 effective wounds of Heavy Infantry in a single list. You have no Specialists. Thank you for listening to my TED talk, I will take no questions.
Ikari is an incredibly fun faction that’s a great palette cleanser if you find your playstyle getting a little static or reactive. Access to so many interesting attack pieces within such a characterful and unique faction makes this one of my favorite Snowflake factions. I can’t promise you’ll take top-table at your respective Nationals tournament this year if you play Ikari in accordance with my guidance but you just might have an absolute metric buck-tonne of fun trying.
Next week we’re going to ask the question: “What does it feel like when you try to play Corregidor without Jazz & Billie, McMurrough or Moran Massai?”
If you think the answer is: ‘Like having hate-sex with a rusty blender.’ you might be pleasantly surprised…
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