Catching Snowflakes: Shasvastii Expeditionary Force

An article by    Competitive Play Infinity        0

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 Shasvastii Expeditionary Force.

Are you a species-traitor that prefers laying eggs instead of gestating your young like some sort of primitive mammal? Well, beloved brood-sibling, I have the Sectorial for you! The Shasvastii are a proud and noble species (well, as far as one can stretch the term when it comes to a civilisation who treats DNA as more of a suggestion than a rule) that had the amazing luck of almost being wiped out by their own treacherous sun before meeting the EI, a hegemonic entity that gave them the ultimatum of “work for us or get murked”. Ever pragmatic, the Shasvastii chose the Path of not Getting Murdered. However, they are a patient and sneaky people, hatching plans and eggs with equal enthusiasm.

Some people argue that Infinity is a game about setting up and executing favorable gunfights. Would you like to prove them wrong by being incredibly sneaky and stabbing people in the back? If so, read on…

Strengths

Never trust anyone wearing a trench coat. Especially if her name is Bob and has a squid-bastard-split-chin (Photo credit: Musterkrux)

The humble doppelganger-assassin, the Speculo Killer, is probably the first thing people think about when you mention Shasvastii Expeditionary Force as an alternative to playing vanilla Combined Army. Fidays wish they were half as fly as Speculos. These cheeky operators are the scalpel of your SEF list. Use them to decapitate your opponent’s primary attack piece or any obvious Lieutenants they’ve left insufficiently defended. The Minelayer option is the Chef’sSEF’s Special. The ARO manipulation you can pull off with a mine sitting 0.1″ away from the enemy DZ is amazing. It’s possible to lock your opponent down in their DZ if they’re not careful. If you’ve got nothing sweet to kill and the scenario is favorable, you can even leave Speculos prone on top of buildings in zones as scoring pieces your opponent will have to dedicate significant resources to digging them out. Sweet.

AVA 2 Q-drones are a sin against nature. Some people ask what SEF does that Vanilla Combine can’t and the answer is: This.

Taighas are rad. At 5-6 points a pop you can slide 2-3 of them into a list and then dedicate the rest of your points and trooper slots to premium pieces. Taighas have a few uses: They’re your anti-skirmisher trading pieces, they generate a lot of pressure on your opponent when they Dodge ARO on 16’s, leaping 4″ each time your opponent lets them. By dynamically changing the battlespace in your opponents’s turn with these hungry-hungry pinballs bouncing all over the place you place a terrible mental load on your opponent. Then, of course, you’ve got the speed to just rush up the table and Berserk your opponent’s favorite attack pieces to death. 6 points for a good chance at doing 1-3 (if you crit) wounds to something worth 50+ points? Sure thing. Thank the EI that CB has seen fit to schedule a Taigha box for release.

Worthy of note are the Calibans, they all have D-charges and MA Level 3. CB wants you to drop out of Camo and Surprise Attack someone by strapping C4 to their ass and screaming “Kanchō!“. Who are you to deny this fundamental truth of science-fiction warfare? Calibans are a high-risk, high-reward piece. They’ve got a good chance to kill just about anything they want and have a marker state to get them where they need to go but if you muck up your execution, they fold like laundry on a Sunday.

D-charges and Martial Arts L3 (Photo credit: Fist of the North Star)

Are we going to talk about SEF strengths without talking about Noctifers? Yeah we are, because the First Rule of Noctifer Club is: “Don’t pronounce it Noc-tee-fire, it’s Noc-tee-ferr, you atek clown.” SEF might not be bringing their A-game when it comes to Fireteam composition but the threat of a Missile Launcher Noctifer can cause your opponent to make unforced errors with their own Pain Train fireteam. The trick is to not take a Noctifer every game. Just often enough that your opponent has to respect the possibility.

SEF also has an excellent spread of mid-field marker-state specialists: Shrouded, Calibans, Malignos, and even Seed Soldier Forward Observers. Your ability to boop buttons in the mid-field is nearly unmatched. I might focus somewhat in this article on the offensive potential of Shasvastii but never forget that you have the option to build a list that can change gears and pressure the objectives if your opponent has castled up and hasn’t given you any options.

There’s some discussion to be had about shaping the battlefield with Dazers. I’m not 100% sure this is a strength for Shasvastii and not secretly a trap. Some opponents will be utterly stalled by a well-placed Dazer, however, many of the pieces your opponent might Infiltrate into the mid-field could well have a Terrain skill and give zero shits about your Dazer. All the while, that Dazer also impacts your movement. I’m not yet convinced it’s a terrible play but I can certainly see how it can backfire on you. Give it a shot and tell us how it went: contact@goonhammer.com

Malignos Deep Incursion Corps, on Paradiso. Colourised 2182 (photo credit: Predator, 1987)

Weaknesses

Graduates from the school of hard Nox. Also, a Fireteam composed of WEAKNESS. (Photo credit: Musterkrux)

Fireteams. Name a good Shasvastii Fireteam. I’ll wait. I think one of the defining and most interesting features of SEF is, in fact, the notion that it’s fireteams aren’t the real draw. Which challenges the convention that one chooses a Sectorial in order to leverage a 5-person Death Star fireteam. You’ve got a few semi-viable options for Fireteams but mostly they feel like the best thing you can do with them is setup a cheap and nasty ARO piece (like the FTO T-drone or even the Guided Multi-Sniper Nox Troopers).

High ARM models. Aside from the Sphinx (which is a feather-weight TAG at Arm 6 anyway), Shasvastii Armour values generally top out at 3 (Boarding Action Sheshkin can make Arm 4 but that’s about it). It’s a faction of glass cannons and that’s fine. You’re likely going to hate Direct Template Weapons like Flamethrowers and Chain Rifles. Your army won’t trade well against warbands, so you’ll need your Taighas and Q-drones to win the skirmisher…ugh…skirmish.

 

Sample Lists

QQ-Pew-Pew

This sample army is about skewing your list entirely into murdering your opponent with SEF’s unique attack pieces: Caliban Engineers, Speculo Killers and Q-drones.

Army Code: glsKc2hhc3Zhc3RpaQEggSwCAQoAgf0BAQAAgfcBAwAAguUBAQAAhQwBBAAAhRABAgAAhRABAgAAgfwBAQAAgfUBBAAAghABBAAAgg4BAQACBwCCEAEEAACCDgEBAACCFAEBAACCFAEBAACB%2FQEBAACB9wEDAACFEAECAA%3D%3D

You’ve got a fair selection of mid-field specialists, even if those Calibans are pulling double duty as Kanchō-monkeys. so you can play scenario if there’s nothing for your Q-drones to shoot or Speculos to bisect at a molecular level. You’ve got the Slave Drones attached to the Caliban, which gives them away as Engineers, but the Drones can sit behind the Q-drones and repair them if they get dropped. Speculos can pull off some incredibly nasty tricks with their mines. If you blow a Command Token to hold back two Reserves, your opponent is going to straight up rage-vomit into their dice-bag when you drop those Mines and Bobs-From-Accounting onto the table locking their fireteams and warbands down.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Clench your Sphinx-ter

Army Code: glsKc2hhc3Zhc3RpaQEggSwCAQkAggwBAQABggABhyAAAIIAAYcgAAKCAAGHIAADggABhyAAAIIUAQEABYIUAQEACIUQAQIAAIH%2FAQEAAgYAgf4BAgABhQoBBgAChQoBAQADhQoBCgAEhQoBAQAFggQBAwA%3D

It’s not a Cutter but a Sphinx is still a TO-TAG and that’s worth building a list around. You’ve got 4 Seed Soldiers giving you a mid-field presence that will keep people honest, each of them can either pop their Chest Mines to save you from an enemy attack run or act as specialists (or even just occupy space for zone control scenarios). You’ve got a Nox Fireteam (yeah, I know…I know) that can do some cheeky things with the repeaters in your list to make Spotlight AROs with Sixth Sense and then follow up with Guided Missile strikes from the T-Drone. The Noctifer is there to really keep your opponent wary of pushing your exposed forces too heavily. It’s OK that it’s a little telegraphed. You want your opponent to know what’s coming. Finally, you’ve got that Sphinx. It’s gonna do Sphinx Things. However, it’s still only packing a regular Spitfire, which limits your effectiveness against heavy armour but you’ve got some cheeky tricks to play with those Heavy Flamethrowers, a Marker State and Climbing Plus. Just be super wary, the Sphinx is only BTS 6 and doesn’t have Stealth. You’ll need to watch out for enemy hackers. A variant of this list would replace the Noctifer with a Speculo Killer who cleans up any enemy Hackers before the Sphinx goes ham but that’s less of a giddy high than revealing a Noctifer in ARO against your enemy’s premiere Sphinx hunting unit.

 

Why yes, I did get my SEF army via Defiance. How did you know? (Photo credit: Musterkrux)

 

Wrapping Up (for now)

Well, there you go. A Sectorial with terrible fireteam options but still remains entirely playable and yet, somehow, appears to be highly under-represented despite every Man and his Antipode ‘accidentally an entire Shasvastii army-ing’ when they ordered Defiance. Maybe when Wave 2 finally gets delivered we’ll see this Sectorial get promoted from Snowflake to Must Take.

Shasvastii is the faction you need to play now, before it gets cool and you lose all wargame hipster cred. Shasvastii is the faction you play when you’ve watched every single Predator film and have perfected their wet, throaty, clicking language to the point that dogs refuse to come within 20m at you and howl incessantly when you challenge them to a sacred hunt. SEF is the faction you play when your case of Imposter syndrome reaches Stage IV and you shuck your weak, human identity, flex your horrible squid-bastard-split-chin and challenge the Gods themselves to strike you down. I think SEF is the perfect Snowflake faction, in as much as it genuinely subverts the trend of Sectorials leaning into their Fireteams in order to explore how expanded AVA can transform how a vanilla faction plays.

As an aside, I think I’m going to park the ‘Catching Snowflakes‘ series for now. CB have done an excellent job of making a wide variety of factions attractive enough to the player base that most every army gets enough players that there really aren’t too many ‘snowflake’ factions to mercilessly mock or passionately advocate for (at least, not without vastly exceeding my lived experience with Infinity). If I’ve not yet written an article about your faction, rejoice friend, for you’re playing a good faction (or at least a popular one).

So, while I’m not going to make like Motley Crue, Cher, Nine Inch Nails (Elton John, Tina Turner, Ozzy, Kiss…) and declare a Farewell Tour only to come back next week, I’ll just say: I’ll likely write more Infinity-centric articles for Goonhammer in the future but they probably won’t be part of the Catching Snowflakes series and they probably won’t be next week. It’s been fun and it will continue to be fun, just give me a few minutes to catch my breath, baby.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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