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When are we doing a JSA article? Now, my dude. Right-freakin’-now. Earlier, we were thinking of trying to write Goonhammer’s best article ever but then some glory-hound went and already did it. So, I guess you’re getting a JSA faction-focus article today instead. Enjoy, goons.
Are you the sort of person who looks at the anime influences on Infinity and think: ‘This is nice but I think I need more’?
Do you think Infinity needs to be a bit more like 40k and include at least 20% more stabbing robots with monofilament blades?
Did you master the blade while the other kids were partying and having pre-marital sex (be honest here)?
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, perhaps I can interest you in a little faction I like to call the Japanese Secessionist Army?
Fair warning, I can’t possibly do an entire article on JSA without leaning heavily into the anime references/memes. Don’t blame me, I’m just a patsy. I didn’t slip the easter eggs into the faction, blame Corvus Belli. In this scenario, they are Canada.
In earlier editions of Infinity, JSA was actually a sectorial of YuJing. Japan and Korea (both of ‘em) were all subsumed into a monolithic empire diametrically opposed to the economic juggernaut that is Pan-Oceania. However, it turns out that monolithic (with the implication of being indivisible) was not the correct turn of phrase to use when describing the YuJing empire. Earlier fluff had Japan framed as an oppressed people, their soldiers being sold on equality under arms but then under-equipped and fed into the meat grinder as shock troops while the core YJ army elements undertook less hazardous duties.
Then, came the Uprising book. In which a particular unit of Imperial Secret Service (the Yuandun ‘Shield’) became notorious for their horrific treatment of Japanese ‘citizens’ under the pretenses of counter-terrorism operations. Cue: violent revolution, a fire that PanO arguably threw petrol on to by supplying JS with weapons, supplies and equipment. Was PanO’s involvement a gallant demonstration of intolerance for tyranny or a revisitation of the Reagan Doctrine? I suspect CB’s intent here is to keep it grey and frame both YJ and PanO as self-interested parties here. Just remember kids, the only ‘good guy’ in Infinity is the EI, who seeks only to nurture civilisation and uplift all sentient beings into transcending the material universe and embrace divinity.
So, after a brief and yet entirely uncivil war, Japan ended up adding the ‘S’ into JSA and is now slowly navigating the turbulent waters of space-nationhood in the 22nd century.
JSA is the anime faction. We’ve got Cyber Ninja, AKIRA bikes, Robo-Geisha, Ghost in the Shell references and even a historical recreation of Miyamoto Musashi (that, thank goodness, is not as terrible as this one). There’s a running joke that JSA is the faction that a lot of new players get hooked onto by virtue of the aesthetics but are then immediately betrayed by the fact that JSA is a Stabbin’ army in a Shootin’ game. This is not entirely wrong but persevere, my dear weeaboos, we’ll show them that Katanas are underpowered in Infinity. We’ll show them all.
Melee and the power of god and anime. That is all.
No, for real, JSA is packing some wild close quarters combat (CQC?!) capability here and we’re not just talking melee/close combat. We’ve got Oniwaban and Tankos with monofilament weapons, Domaru with E/M grenades (and E/M CCWs), and even a few robust platforms carrying BSGs or Flamethrowers.
Stealth. Yeah, Stealth, baby. Your opponent doesn’t get to Oblivion your TAGs or HI with Hacking AROs until you’re ready to start swinging. Not just the melee HI like in N3 but we’re talking about TAGs with Stealth, 7 foot tool Cyber-Samurai dual-wielding swords with Stealth. That’s huge when it comes to closing the distance into melee. Moran Massai can go die in a fire. The Motorcycles don’t have Stealth but that’s OK.
JSA actually has a really cute selection of Cheerleaders. Sure, Chaiyi flashy-boi remotes are only AVA 1 but when you’ve got AVA Total Keisotsu with combi-rifles for 9 points (10 points if you want to give them Flash Pulse AROs at WIP 12 with decent range bands instead of BS 10), you should never be hurting for orders.
I’m going to go with a Spicy Take here and say that survivability is a strength for the faction. Which is something you need if you’re going to cross the table and enact your plan of ‘stick the pointy end of a sword into the other guy’. JSA can easily field a high Wound-count army with all of the cheap HI options available (Tankos and Domaru), additionally, all that Mimetism means you’re less likely to lose F2F rolls (which is a kind of resilience. You pass every Arm roll you avoid when your opponent misses you entirely). Also, let’s not forget that Karakuri are Structure 3, Arm 3, BTS 6 Mechanical Goddesses of War with Total Immunity. They laugh off the sort of firepower that would scrap a TAG.
Being a melee/Close-Combat-centric force, JSA doesn’t have a lot of top-tier shooting. There’s a few options (O-Yoroi, Daiyoukai and even arguably the Tanko Missile Launcher in a fireteam) but it’s just not a faction strength.
I’d like to see a bit more Smoke in a faction dedicated to close-quarters/melee, honestly. You’ve got Yojimbo, Kuroshi Rider, Saito Togan, and Kitsune and that’s it. Other factions get smoke on cheap warband models while the cheapest we get it is 18 points on Yojimbo, then your next hit of Smoke costs 29 (Kuroshi)…wild.
On a related tangent, MSV. Lu Duan, RuiShi and the Kempeitai Shock Marksman Rifle profile. That’s not bad, to be fair and reasonable, but Smoke-shooting likely won’t be plan A for your average JSA player.
Hacking is a bit average. There are literally no standard Hackers in JSA with a BTS score above 0. Above. Zero. The Ryuken Unit-9 KHD is BTS 3, which is nice I guess. However, there are also no Hackers in faction with a WIP above 13. Ouch. Additionally, your repeater network is pretty weak, with only the standard issue Remotes and the RuiShi having repeaters. No Pitchers, no Fast Pandas, and Deployable Repeaters only on the Lu Duan (with Minelayer, to be fair) but that only starts the game in your DZ. Now, to be fair your Aragato and Ninja have a great deal of discretion in going where they want to which helps
Keisotsu Fireteams are pretty OK. I usually just run them as a static firebase. Something like: 3x Keisotsu (2x basic troops and 1x Paramedic), a Kempeitai with Chain of Command, and then an ARO piece. Usually that’s the Keisotsu Missile Launcher but you could be really cheeky and throw in the MSV 2 Kempeitai with Marksman Rifle (but at that level of investment you’d probably want to save it for the Active Turn). If you’re desperate to play a 6th Sense Hacking ARO game (you know, with all those Remotes with Repeaters you’re running?) you can replace a basic Keisotsu with a Hacker for a few points more but that’s a bit of an edge-case. I wouldn’t bother putting a Domaru or Daiyoukai in here, there are better fireteam options for them and you don’t want your squishies getting dragged into the mid-field by their HI leader. As I said earlier, a Keisotsu Fireteam: Core is pretty OK. Mostly it’s there to give your cheerleaders some way of contributing to the game without having to risk themselves too much. Keep it cheap, cheerful and your expectations low and you’ll do fine here.
Domaru Fireteams are a unique build option. It wouldn’t be terribly expensive to put together a pure HI fireteam in JSA, which is something many other factions can’t brag about. 134 points gets you a Spitfire Lt, a Specialist, a BSG (for those horrible corners) and then two mooks. That’s not bad at all. If you’re willing to forgo the purity bonuses, you can even get it as cheap as 113 points (Spitfire, FO, 3x budget Tankos). That is a lot of stealthy meat to be firing into your opponent’s army. If you’re terrified of getting hacked even with stealth, drop in Yuriko Oda to Engineer your problems away (but, as you’ll read below, I think she does better work elsewhere).
My favorite JSA Haris is the Domaru Haris where you take the cheapest Domaru, toss in a Tanko, and then a Daiyokai with Multi-Marksman Rifle. It’s relatively cheap, has a good shooter (with AP-ammo for those hard targets), lots of wounds, leverage your Lt. order via NCO, and will absolutely cut anyone silly enough to get close to shreds.
Alternatively, you’ve got a JSA Fireteam Haris (just to really confuse you) where you take 1-2 Karakuri, Yuriko Oda to babysit them with her Engineering skills, and if you only took 1 Karakuri throw in a Domaru to round out the team. That Karakuri will do so much damn work for you and your opponent will hate you to death.
There might be some value in a Banzai Haris, either Triple-Tanko or two and Musashi but you’d have to test it and see.That’s a lot of meat, really cheap, and every model in that Haris is a genuine threat to basically every model in the game if they get close enough.
Finally, the Bosozoku Haris. This is probably bad. Trying to navigate three bikes up the average infinity table without getting template-bombed into oblivion feels like it would be luck more than skill if you actually made it into combat. That said, do it because Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan told you to. What are you, chicken?
Circling back to the JSA Fireteam Haris, you could also pare it down to just a Karakuri and Yuriko to make a JSA Fireteam Duo. That’s not half-bad at all. Alternatively, in the same category you could try a pair of Shikami just parkouring across the board as if Mirror’s Edge was a verb or something.
You could also try a Domaru Duo, with either a Spitfire Domaru or Daiyoukai dragging a specialist behind them (Yuriko, Domaru FO). It’s cute and it does work. There are other Duos but I think those are the more interesting ones.
When it comes to Lieutenant options, as an NA2 faction, JSA just about blows my tiny mind all over the rear window of a 1974 Chevy Nova…
A key consideration of JSA’s lieutenant choices and gameplay is their ease of access to Chain of Command, ie. the Kempeitai. I won’t write a novel on the historical significance of the term, the Infinity community has exploded once over the topic but just to let you know: The real-world Kempeitei were not nice people.
Taking that as read, let’s move on. Kempeitei are great, potentially one of the cheapest Chain of Command options in the game, allowing you to take a Rambo Lieutenant (and JSA has a few of those) and go berserk without worrying about dropping into LoL after your opponent finally coat-hangers your Kuroshi Rider out of the saddle and curb-stomps her. Don’t be afraid to take a Rambo Lt in JSA. Go nuts. That O-Yoroi TAG Lieutenant is waiting for you…
Alternatively, access to NCO via the Daiyoukai means that you can take a Keisotsu Lt and still leverage that Lt. order to do good work. If you’re particularly wild, you can try for a +1 order Domaru Lieutenant but they already come with a Spitfire so are perfectly capable of spending that order themselves (unless they’re in a Fireteam, in which case: Proceed.).
That said, I’m not 100% sure on the Kitsune and Oniwaban Lieutenant options. CB has clarified that you can’t make impossible Reset/Dodge AROs to drop models out of hidden deployment to get them onto the table before your turn starts and Chain of Command doesn’t trigger off an AWOL Lieutenant, only KIA ones. So, why take a Kitsune/Oniwaban Lt? I mean, you can try deploying in a marker-state but then you’re either Infiltrating them up the table as a marker (and thus, exposed to danger if you don’t have first turn) or not leveraging one of their Unique Value Propositions, so that’s a bit of a conundrum. You can try for a cute end-of-turn reveal but you’re gambling on your opponent performing one of their last orders within LOF/ZOC of your hidden Looie, which isn’t something I’d gamble on in this game.
All this talk of hidden deployment models is an excellent segue into our next topic…
How Much Ninja Is Too Much Ninja? Or, the plural of Ninja is Ninja*.
You want me to say something cute like: ‘There is never too much Ninja’ but the correct answer is actually: ‘2 is maximum ninja, maybe 3 if you really want to commit to the bit.’ A large part of the value of Ninja is leveraging their Hidden Deployment rule but the more models you start in HD the more you lower your ‘reach’ in your opening turn. Each HD model is very likely an order you’ve either forfeit or committed to a model (as they spend their order emerging from HD and so isn’t available to your regular order pool). In some ways, they’re worse than irregular orders as you don’t even get the opportunity to spend Command Tokens to make them available to the wider order pool.
Now that we know how many Ninja is too many Ninja, we can discuss what Ninja-choices we can make within our limited Ninja-budget.
If scenario demands infiltrating specialists, your best bets are the Ninja KHD with Tac-Bow (notably, also a gorgeous model) as a dirt cheap piece, as well as the Ninja Hacker with SMG (a bit more expensive but also comes with a good AP-ammo option for dealing with resilient targets such as TAGs. Also a very nice model even if the sculpted base was designed specifically to make me, and me alone, miserable.).
My current advice is to not take the Multi-Sniper Ninja. We’ve got the Ryuken HRL which performs a similar role for 10 points less (and has a higher BS, Minelayer and, honestly, is a better sculpt). Prove me wrong, though. Play a game with the Ninja Sniper and tell us about how awesome it was (Ed: lie if you have to, no-one will ever know.).
A step up from the Ninja, you have the Oniwaban, Kitsune and Saito Togan. Each of them a monster in their own right. None of these models are specialists, so you’re only taking them for the absolute destruction you can wreak upon your opponent’s most valuable pieces.
Kitsune is the premium option, superior infiltrating on 16’s and having the equal highest CC + Martial Arts score in the game. She exists purely to keep vanilla Combine players honest (Avatars. She kills Avatars.). Don’t forget that she has Climbing Plus, the other ninja don’t. The downsides are her price (of course), as well as the fact that she has a pistol as her only alternative to the Monofilament weapon. There are situations in the game where you will actually want to tap the brakes on bisecting your opponent at a molecular level (classified objectives that require interaction with enemy models, as well as situations in which you’d rather your opponent roll multiple armour saves or something worse than a flat 12+).
This is where the Oniwaban comes in. Cheaper but with similar performance to Kitsune. However, they also have a couple of weapon choices: E/M CCWs or Monofilament. I don’t hate the BSG Oniwaban, as having more options to fork your opponent’s ARO is always a good thing.
However, what if you want to reliably kill things dead but not too dead…but you also want Kitsune’s Smoke grenades? Let’s talk about dear, sweet Saito Togan. Togan is an Oniwaban who traded his Monofilament blade for three magical beans, smoke grenades and an explosive CCW. A commonly held belief is that DA is usually better than AP because forcing your opponent to roll more armour saves is more likely to result in some damage as opposed to risking them just straight up ignoring your Arm-debuff and high-rolling their way to survival. The same is true of Saito’s EXP-CCW in comparison to a Monofilament weapon. He’s less likely to outright pop a TAG in one swing than Kitsune but he’s far more likely to do some damage instead of none. Forcing your opponent to take 3 (4 if he crits) damage 16 hits is a really good way to ensure that something happens, especially when you’re dealing with weaker enemies that just need to be tapped out, not nuked from orbit.
That said, let’s look at the numbers. There’s a 65% chance that Saito Togan will do at least one wound to a Jotum if/when he wins a CC fight with one (76% if he crits), with a less than 3% chance that he knocks it out entirely. Kitsune has a 60% chance to take it off the table in one fell swoop.
However, against an Arm 1, single wound infantry model, Saito is looking at a 99%+ chance to knock it down while Kitsune is stuck with her 60% (though, Crits do make this a much more attractive proposition).
Quarter-circle, Quarter-circle, Kick: Shin-Ryuken!**
Would this really be a comprehensive article on JSA if we didn’t cover Ryuken, Unit 9? No, not Section 9. Very definitely not Public Safety Section 9. No, sir.
The Ryuken are a series of profiles unique to JSA with two core profiles: Batou, the single-use Camo profile with a HRL; and Kusanagi, the Forward Deploying SMG-witch. Both have Mimetism -6, X-visors (and on weapons that really appreciate it), as well as Minelayer. They’re a little pricey but they add a lot of value to your list for what you’re paying. They’re primarily defensive pieces (at least, in intended function) but BS 12 SMGs with Mimetism -6 will absolutely do work when asked to. If you’re also rocking the KHD profile that’s just a lovely upgrade that turns the Ryuken into a hybrid Attacker-Specialist that also has a marker-state option.
As much as I love these profiles I find that their cost means you might struggle to take the full AVA of them and the other pieces you might want in a JSA list. That’s probably a feature and not a bug, so I’ll give CB a pass here for good within-faction balance.
Sample Army Lists
Oh? Yo, Roy!
Army Code: g4caamFwYW5lc2Utc2VjZXNzaW9uaXN0LWFybXkHSlNBIFRBR4EsAgEJAICcAQIAAICQAQEAAICQAQEAAICQAQgAAICTAQQAAICQAQMAAICOAQEAAICiAQEAAICQAQEAAgYAg%2BQBAwAAg%2BQBAwAAg%2BQBAgAAg%2BcBAQAAg%2BcBAQAAg%2BcBAQA%3D
Keisotsu Fireteam Core: Combi Rifle x2, Paramedic, Missile Launcher, Kempei Chain of Command
Chaiyi (Flashy Boi)
Keisotsu with Combi Rifle
Ryuken with KHD x2
Ryuken with SMG
Triple Tanko Haris: Tanko with Blitzen and Light Shotgun x3
The O-Yoroi is a great TAG. Basically the only reliable Active long-range piece in the faction with AP-rounds. Throw in some Stealth, Martial Arts level 2, a katana so long that it would give Sephiroth an inferiority complex, and you’ve got a nearly perfect MBT (Main Battle TAG). The rest of the list is just a Keisotsu Fireteam for cheerleading and ARO purposes, a trio of Ryuken in the mid-field, as well as a Triple-Tanko Haris because…why not?
Army Code: g4caamFwYW5lc2Utc2VjZXNzaW9uaXN0LWFybXkWTm9uLUZ1bmRvc2hpLWJsZSBUb2tlboEsAgEKAIPqAQEAAICYAQEAAIPnAQEAAIDgAYLlAACAmgEEAACD%2BwECAACAngEBAACAoQEBAAAyAQEAAICOAQEAAgYAgJgBCAAAgJABAQAAgJABCAAAgJABBwAAgJMBBAAAgJABAwA%3D
Domaru Haris: Daiyokai (Multi-marksman), Domaru, Tanko
JSA Fireteam Duo: Karakuri (Mk 12), Yuriko Oda
Tokusetsu Eisei (Doctor)
Chaiyi (Flashy Boi)
Domaru, Spitfire Lt.
Keisotsu Fireteam: Combi Rifle, Paramedic, FO, Missile Launcher, and Kempei Chain of Command
But what if we just crammed a tonne of HI into a single list and called it a day there? Here, have your Daiyokai Haris. Here’s a Karakuri Duo and change. How about a Rambo Lt. Domaru with Spitfire? Done deal. Have a Yojimbo, on the house. Toss in a Doctor for the HI, Yuriko for the Karakuri and you’ve got Beef Jerky: The Sectorial. Tough and chewy meat.
Ninjas and Bikes
Army Code: g4caamFwYW5lc2Utc2VjZXNzaW9uaXN0LWFybXkPTmluamEgYW5kIEJpa2VzgSwCAQkAg%2FkBjpkAAIDgAYLlAACAkAEBAACAkAEBAACAkAEIAACAkwEEAACAkAEDAACAogEBAACAhwEHAAIGAICHAQYAAICVAYIUAACAlQGCEQAAgI4BAQAAgJoBAQAAg%2FsBAgA%3D
Does what it says on the box: Ninjas. Bikes.
Kuroshi Rider, Lt.
Keisotsu Fireteam Core: Combi Rifle x2, Paramedic, Missile Launcher, Kempei Chain of Command
Ninja KHD with Tac Bow
Ninja with SMG and Hacking Device
Aragoto with KHD
Aragoto with Spitfire
Chaiyi (Flashy Boi)
JSA Fireteam Duo: Karakuri with Heavy Shotgun and Yuriko Oda (budget model)
This list started off as a meme…how many ninjas and bikes can you fit into a list? Then it became apparent that there does exist a space where the venn diagram of ‘Multiple Bikes’ ‘Multiple Ninja’ and ‘Good Lists’ actually intersects…
Check that shit out. 7 Specialists (6 if you discount the Paramedic), 5-6 Attack pieces (depending on how frisky you are with your Ninja), tonnes of mobility, solid order pools. This list, in execution, is a lot better than it has any right to be. You’ll still suffer on tables that don’t let you unpack 4 Bikes properly but that’s a risk you accepted when you committed to being cool and rad (at the same time).
We did it. It’s over. It’s done. Finished. We’ve given you a primer into the wonderful world of JSA, a faction that is pretty OK but honestly, not nearly angry enough. If you’re the sort of person who got started with Infinity by falling in love with Anime: The Faction, bought the JSA army box, assembled your models and then got spanked for 5-10 games straight before migrating to one of the more convention factions of the game I hope that reading this article has inspired you to get your JSA back on the table and just absolutely, comprehensively, Goon-style, Fuck ‘em up. If you haven’t started playing JSA yet then all I can possibly do is ask: What are you even doing with your life?
Next time on Goon-finity we’ll take a second look at a faction we’ve already reviewed, updating our thoughts now that the Fireteam rules are nicely bedded in and changing the way we build lists.
Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at email@example.com.
*Yes but also no. As a language, Japanese doesn’t have plural suffixes like English does, so multiple Ninja are also Ninja but arguably you can also add -tachi to indicate multiple Ninja but, honestly, Ninjas is fine, too. People understand what you mean when you say it and isn’t that the important thing? Linguistic prescriptivism is tyranny, thank you for listening to my TED talk, I will take no questions.
**Sorry, that one was a stretch but also, you’re welcome…both of you who play Infinity and are au-fait with Street Fighter special move combinations…