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 Pan Oceania.
Welcome to another entry in the ‘Chasing Snowflakes’ series. Apologies, beloved readers, on the delay between instalments. I could tell you the truth about why I was delayed: soaring through the galaxy on a quest to punch Centeōtl, God of Maize, in the face as retribution for allowing Salsa Verde Doritos to exist, but you wouldn’t believe me so we’ll go with the Blue Pill: Life sometimes really do be like that.
So, as a reward for your patience, the Chasing Snowflakes series will now address the faction with the dubious honor of being the only non-sectorial faction to be dissected for your reading pleasure: Pan Oceania.
Imagine being a hegemonic Superpower but with terrible foreign policy
For some, the argument for taking a ‘vanilla’ list instead of sectorial is about opening up your list to the full ‘toolbox’ of your faction, leveraging a greater variety of skills and options to make a list that competes with a the main draw of many sectorials: raw firepower that comes from Fireteams. Some argue that because PanO’s ‘toolbox’ is raw firepower it’s better to lean into that strength with a Sectorial than dilute your unique value proposition (UVP) as a faction and go vanilla.
For some time, many assumed that vanilla YuJing was trash but we’ve seen some very talented players champion the faction and demonstrate amazing results with it over time. So, the question is, gentle souls, does a similar potential lie sleeping within vanilla Pan Oceania? Who will take up the banner of the Hyperpower and show the wider community that it’s not Pan-No but that it’s actually Pan-OH YEAH!?
Who’s the boss? For an advanced hyperpower, with what I can only imagine to be the exemplary C3 systems (Command, Control and Communication), the humble Fusilier seemingly keeps getting handed a radio, tucked into a corner and told to keep their head down instead of appointing someone competent (read: WIP higher than 12) to lead an elite special operations unit on a highly sensitive, entirely deniable, corporate espionage operation.
- Fusilier: Yeah, Angus lives here. The most common choice of Lieutenant for a grat deal of PanO lists. Makes sense: Cheap, decent BS, ubiquitous, and with PanO generic WIP you’re not giving anything away using him.
- Joan: Mostly we’re here for the WarCor and TechBee (Helot and Monstrucker too, if you’re wild) bringing huge value Regular orders but don’t ever discount Joan’s other contributions to your list: That coordinated order every turn (which you can use to either drop 3 friendlies into suppression, move people into better positions or even something more creative), as well as her value as a Round 2 or 3 attack piece that goes off the rails and chews up some easy targets.
The big question is: To Mobility or to not Mobility*? I lean towards not-Mobility Joan as while the speed boost is amazing for getting her up the table I think Arm 3 is just a smidge too low for a model who is both your Lieutenant and has Frenzy. That said, you never have to take an Arm save if you win all your F2F rolls and a Burst 4 Spitfire at BS 15…wins a whole lotta F2F rolls.
One might argue for taking a Chain of Command piece to support a Rambo Joan but the cost of these pieces in PanO starts to offset the bonus you got from taking the Inspired WarCor and Techbee, so I’m not convinced this is the smart play.
- TAG-boss: Squalos, Cutter or Jotum. Pick something incredibly mean and bully your opponent. On the flip side, the only thing more satisfying than having your Lt. TAG rampage through your opponent’s DZ is being the opponent who killed, possessed or Immobilised the Lt. TAG.
- Chain of Command and NCO considerations: Contrary to previous observations, PanO now actually has a substantial stable of models with either NCO or Chain of Command. They’re often expensive but we can’t pretend they don’t exist anymore.
There’s a certain charm to your Fusilier Lt screaming: “Go, PiKarhu. Use Burst 3 Feurbach!” and letting your NCO Karhu spend the Lt order exploding people for fun and profit. The Teutonic Knight with Spitfire is an incredibly well priced mad-dog to unleash on your opponent if you absolutely need to get Bang for your Lieutenant Buck.
- Auxila: Here’s a cheeky piece. A regular order that comes with a disposable flamethrower to cover your corners. This allows you to piece trade like a Warband but still keep your order pool intact. Additionally, an Auxila can become a late game attack piece, pushing both the trooper and the bot around a corner to ask your opponent some hard questions. For a faction that doesn’t have many Warbands or other cheap trading pieces, the Auxila is the bubble wrap that keeps the rest your army safe. 11/10, they’re all good Aux-Bots, Brent.
- Mine-layer Regulars: A Mine-laying Regular has a similar cost to an Auxila with a few points of differentiation. A mine is a once-off, it’s a camo marker (you know, for all those shell games we play in PanO). Unlike the Auxbot, however, Mines aren’t mobile but you can still set up ARO forks with them in offence (and potentially defence). I’d generally argue that you’d take Auxila first and if you desperately need more DZ defences, add in some Mine-layers once you’ve tapped your AVA on Auxila.
- Helots: You only get one but put the Tuna-man in the right position and he’ll cause no end of problems for your opponent. In my experience you either want the SMG (Burst 3 at close range, once your opponent has committed orders to moving down the table, also with an option to splash-damage a Fireteam that gets stroppy around your Decoys/Camo Markers) or the Marksman Rifle (Burst 3 out to 24″ keeps people honest with coin flip F2F rolls).
- Peacemakers: These are great. Vanilla’s access to the full suite of PanO hackers (both visible and Hidden) makes the inclusion of a mid-field Repeater quite palatable. Throw in an Auxbot to piece-trade on a corner and you’ve got yourself a deal, friend. Stick with the BSG, I think, as the Bulleteer is a better platform for a Spitfire if you’re spending the SWC.
- Locust (lol): Included just so I could respond with: LOLcust.
- Zulu Cobras: Largely forgotten outside of VIRD but this little toolbox can ruin anyone’s day. Either you’re running a Marker State Spitfire, a KHD or the slightly nerfed (but still damned good) Jammer with Triangulated Fire Assault Pistol. Solve your problems with impossible trick shots or Jamming like you’re Bob Marley.
- Crocmen: Not just for Varuna. The X-visor means that your BSG and Combi-rifle profiles can reach out a little further than one might expect and do some work (leaning on that sweet, sweet -12 from Mimetism -6, Cover and Surprise Attack). I’m not sure I’d use a 30-ish point model with Arm 1 and a single Wound as a defensive piece (except, potentially the Sniper…but even then, just use the Hexa Sniper). It’s worth considering the Crocman as a standalone piece in vanilla PanO. Nobody expects the
Spanish Inquistion…Varuna Infiltration.
- Nokken: A challenger appears. Well priced with some great position-relevant skills and equipment, the Nokken can ask your opponent some tough questions. Check out that Mine layer profile. PanO stocks are stronk.
This PanO’s happy place. We bring the big numbers, so a PanO list will be defined by its primary attack pieces.
- Swiss Guard: The Missile Launcher is a BS 15, Arm 5, 2 Wound Noctifer, which is essentially Hate-mail from Satan. To be fair, it’s also almost twice the cost but this model so absolutely reshapes the battlefield around it that to discount it on the grounds of cost or even the Burst value of a Missile Launcher is a foolish mistake. I’d think carefully about the HMG and Hacker, at Move 4-4 and no mobility/deployment advantages, that’s a lot of points to foot slog across the table but they’re entirely viable choices as long as you’re aware of their limitations.
- Teutonic Knight: The Teutons represent excellent value for points. Impetuous might lose you some Cover but Impetuous orders spent on high BS multi-wound troopers with high value weapons is insane. I don’t love SMGs but a Specialist HI for 21 points is bonkers, and I always have time for an NCO Spitfire Teuton to spend my Fusilier Lt order. These wouldn’t necessarily be your first wave of attackers but they are an excellent mop-up crew.
- Mendoza!: Tough call on this fellow. He’ll kill just about anything he ever meets but you’re also paying prices that approach TAG-costs, so you have to ask yourself if you’d rather pay a little more to get a lot more value instead. Approach with caution but there’s work to be done here.
- TAGs: Now we’re talkin’. PanO TAGs are arguably some of the best in the game. Remote Presence makes them much more repairable than their manned counterparts, they’ve got good BS and decent weapon systems. Then, if you want to specialise you can either go jerk-mode with the Hidden Cutter (Crouching Crabbot) or go even bigger jerk with the nigh unkillable Jotum. There’s a TAG for everybody in PanO.
- Bulleteers: BS 12 Spitfire or Shotgun with Mimetism -6, Move 6-4 and a bargain price? Yes please. Both profiles are great. The Spitfire shoots people down with impunity while you can use the Shotgun to take a hard corner instead of one of your less disposable attack pieces.
- Something Something MSV 2 Shooter: Nisse, Kamau and Black Friars, oh my! All these profiles are relatively similar with minor thematic tweaks.For vanilla, I suggest the Nisse for keeping the Kamau’s Mimetism but also bringing an Arm 3 trenchcoat to the party. You might not have smoke to leverage but your opponent might, taking an MSV 2 piece will limit their abiity to leverage this advantage (as well as giving you something to deal with other Mimetism -6 attack pieces out there.
Disregard Buttons, acquire Frags. Every scenario is Annihilation if you try hard enough.
OK, I’m being facetious. There are plenty of Button Pushers in PanO. Just please don’t pick the LOLcust, please.
How the Military Orders and Svalarheima releases impacts Vanilla
With the recent (-ish, at least, at the time of publication) release of the Military Orders sectorial (and previously Svalarheima Winter Force), there are several new options available to the discerning PanO enjoyer that weren’t apparent before.
The new Knight of the Holy Sepulchre is pretty OK. Just make sure you compare them to the Knight of Justice before you commit to the Chonky Boi. The Karhu +1 Burst Feurbach is a terrifying proposition, with Mimetism -3, an MSV 1 they’re bringing the hurt to any party and they’re getting there in style with Move 6-2 synergising nicely with Climbing Plus. We’ve also mentioned the Nokken earlier in the piece.
The key point here is note that with each new Sectorial, the power of Vanilla PanO grows and to continue to hold to the traditional wisdom that Vanilla PanO is the worst iteration of PanO is potentially a mistake. Or not, we’re here to talk about snowflake factions so who knows wherein the truth lies?
Joan and the Irregulars (that’s a cool band name)
There’s a sample list that leverages the Inspiring Leadership rule to max out cheap Regular orders for your list to work alongside some premium pieces.
Jeanne d’Arc – Lt (the slow one with Arm 5)
Helot – SMG
Bulleteer – Spitfire
Peacemaker – HSG
Teutonic Knight – Specialist SMG
Zulu Cobra – Spitfire
Here you get a fair whack of attack pieces, all effective at different ranges, supported by a protective net of Burning. You’ve also got quite a selection of unlikely Specialists to help you score points as needed. Keep Joan safe until Round 2 or 3 before unleashing her on whatever your opponent has left on the table.
Protect the Queens
This list concept is about taking the Jotum, arguably one of the most survivable pieces in the game, layering on ample bubble-wrap, and asking your opponent to solve this problem or die trying (we all know which outcome we prefer). In many ways, this a ‘Gear Check’ list. Either your opponent has the tools and/or skills to take down a TAG (or two) or…they don’t. Often a player will build a balanced list, including enough pieces to reliably take down a single TAG. However, if you’re running two TAGs there’s a good chance you’ll achieve overmatch on your opponent’s anti-TAG tech, break through it and then crush the rest of their list, see their Troopers driven before you and listen to the lamentation of their Cheerleaders and HVTs.
Jotum – Lt
Seraph with Spitfire
Bulleteer – Spitfire
Rem Racer (Hacker)
Mulebot – EVO hacker
The core intent of this list is to use your Seraph to identify and exterminate anything that might be a threat to your Jotum. PanO high command might tell you that the Seraph is worth 16 billion PanO-bucks (I’m not calling them Oceana and you can’t make me) and is functionally irreplaceable but, in your eyes, the Seraph with its flying Auxbot and 3 STR are a currency you can (and will) spend on clearing the path for your Jotum. EVO Hacker is there to give your Jotum (and everyone else, I guess) Firewall, because a BTS 12 TAG is as funny as shit. Now, you might be looking at that Rem Racer and thinking that I’m an idiot (if it’s taken you this long to work that out, I have some bad news for you, friend) but stick with me here: For 6 points more than a Fusilier Hacker you get WIP 13, BTS 6 just throwing out Hacking AROs through your Peacemakers like it ain’t no thang, aaaannnndddd you just tuned up your Bulleteer to BS 13? Here he comes, here comes REM Racer…
So, do you still think vanilla PanO is trash? You do? Well, it’s OK to be wrong sometimes. I’m constantly wrong and I turned out fine (I sometimes write blog articles for a wargaming website, truly I am the pinnacle of success in life). There’s virtue in revisting vanilla PanO in light of the recent sectorial changes as well as noting that the way the game is played changes over time (which is a long way of saying ‘the meta shifts’ without using the word ‘meta’). So, while it’s fun to make jokes about Trauma Docs who dropped out of PanO Med School** it’s important to remember that this beautiful game is always evolving and to mire yourself in old wisdom is to find yourself watching German Panzers roll out of the Ardennes Forest and wondering where it all went wrong.
Next week, we’ll explain why it’s not OK to simp for Odalisques.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*That is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the Cube to suffer. The shotgun AROs of outrageous RNG. Or to take ARM 3 rolls against a sea of crits.
**Did you really think I was going to go through an entire article about vanilla PanO being bad and not pick the low-hanging fruit?