Thursday, March 23, 2017

Pulpi Talk: The EPIC Aquila Guard vs. the SUBPAR Hsien

Paying homage to the Coffee Talk skits and everyone's favorite octopus, this new article series we're starting at Pride of Rodina, we invite our writers to a little chat to discuss a topic. It's not just a piece written by one writer addressing the readers directly. Instead, it's a piece where the readers get to witness a debate or discussion between us at PoR (with a few insults, puns, and jokes thrown in for good measure) and we writers get to directly interact within an article. The point is to create a dialogue and get a few different perspectives and ideas in at once. For the first part in this series, we decided to have a debate about the Aquila and Hsien. Enjoy and let us know what you think of this new series! - Pride of Rodina

AME: So, your friendly neighborhood fellas are here to have a debate!  Now, I know why I (A Mão Esquerda) am arguing for my side, but it’s slightly foggy as to why Pride of Rodina is making arguments on behalf of the Jade Empire, but, you know, STAVKA and those (curses in English, Portuguese and Spanish) in Yanjing are always plotting something, so…

PoR: Well, um….(oh crap, why am I defending Yu Jing?) You know that saying ‘an enemy of my enemy is my friend’? That’s why! Anything to destroy you filthy PanO dogs, even if it means I have to defend why the Hsien is better than that boring, old Aquila Guard (which we all know both are inferior to Veteran Kazaks, anyway).

AME: Huh?  Veteran Kazaks?  Those Ateks?  Pull the other one, my son.  However, not to get sidetracked, let’s start by taking a look at the epic Aquila Guard.  First and foremost, he’s a bit of a crutch for NCA players specifically, since he can, especially with his HMG, cut through most anything. Looking at his basic stats, he’s a beast.  I won’t re-hash them all, since we’ll have a second NCA tactica coming up soon, but the big thing that, of course, stands out is his BS15.  He can NEVER be hit by MODs low enough to make it impossible to hit.  In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to get him below a 6 to hit in a FtF, which is very nice.  Now, with a decent PH of 14, he’s also good on the Dodge, since the most that can happen to him is a -3 to Change Facing, with his MSV3 making him immune to Surprise, be it Shot or Attack from any level of CH.  Take THAT, Hsien!!!

PoR: Yes, back to the matter at hand! You can brag all you want about your BS15 and not being brought down low enough to never hit (that’s true for any trooper with BS higher than 12, since mods max out at the absolute value equal to 12), but the one problem with your Aquila Guard is their singular purpose. Aquilas shoot stuff and they shoot stuff good, but that’s it. They have a HMG or MULTI rifle, with pistols and Shock CCWs (I’d like to see an Aquila try to use that), but that’s it. A complete lack of versatility…  typical PanO.

Let’s take a look at the Hsien’s stats first, then their kit, a little bit. Hsiens have the exact same stats as the Aquila, but they have +4 CC, -1 BS, and +1 WIP, Martial Arts Lv. 1, so they can actually use their CCW’s, and their equivalent loadouts cost one point less, while packing Nanopulsers. DTW are exceptionally great weapons. While the Hsien will still suffer from Surprise Shot and Attack,  at least they have the ability to shoot, stab, and spray things. They also come with the option to take a more diverse range of weapons/equipment and more lieutenant options than the poor, neglected Aquila.

AME: The Hsien has more options because it can’t decide on what it wants to be.  Is it a support troop?  Is it a gunfighter?  Is it a CC trooper?  No, I posit, it is not.  It is a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none.  An Aquila shoots and kills you, punto y final.  Anything that WANTS to get close enough to a Hsien to engage it in CC will be better than it, and I’ll take the Aquila’s pistol at those close ranges, before the enemy can get into CC.  I’ll grant that having the Nanopulser is nice, but even then, it’s an extreme close range weapon, with a low DAM potential, and while going against BTS rather than ARM is nice, again, anyone getting that close it likely going to have enough going for them to be able to dodge the Small Template.  And while the Aquila Guard is always great on it’s own, the Hsien falls into the Fireteam trap, where in order to make yourself feel good enough about taking it, you have to surround it with other units.  An Aquila Guard is “set it and forget it” mode.

PoR: If I’m going to be spending points on a trooper, I’d like for them to fill out quite a few different roles, not just “I shoot stuffs real goods”. This boils down more to personal opinion, but you get the point. I like versatility and the Hsien provides exactly that, unlike the Aquila. While you bring up a good point that anything that -wants- to get close to the Hsien will be better at close combat than it, but not everything the Hsien approaches, themselves, will be better at CC. Sometimes you might have your Hsien up the field and you see a pesky specialist over there or your troops are being threatened by a TAG. The Hsien has the ability to reliably lock targets in close combat and, essentially, take them out of the fight. A niche use, yes, but still a handy one! See the Nanopulser encourages the Hsien to get up close and make good use of its weapons (unless they’re taking the HMG option, then they work as a countermeasure tool) and it also helps them attack Fireteams, which have started to become a very common threat these days. Ha ha ha, true! Hsiens do kind of fall into a ‘Fireteam trap’, I’ll give you that, but they work exceptionally well by themselves or in a Fireteam. They are definitely active pieces, compared to the more reactive style of the Aquila Guard. I like to think of the Hsien as the Knight to the Aquila’s Rook; it might not have the same power or worth, but it’s far more discreet and versatile. Just about any threat the Hsien comes up against, it can tackle it, unlike the ill-equipped Aquila.

AME: I guess it boils down to what you want and are going to get in a faction and in troops…. being a dyed in the wool true blue PanOceanian, I don't DO multiple roles from single units.  We do one thing, and we do it well.  So, I shoot things.  I don't fix things, I don't heal things, I don't expect a troop to fill more than one role.  I don't expect my gunfighter to also do CC, or to be a Hacker, etc.  I’ll take having to use more troops in their perfect roles, rather than more troops in a good and ok role.  As such, I’ll be happy with the excellent way the Aquila Guard forces your opponent to prioritize killing him and getting him off of the table.  Now, looking more in depth at his two profiles, I actually prefer, given my druthers, the MULTI Rifle profile.  Yes, a MULTI Rifle has DAM-2 versus the HMG, but I really like the ability to switch between the AP and the Shock ammo, which in my local meta is nice, to start slicing through Ariadna’s 1W troops.  Of course, the HMG gives you that better range and DAM, but I still prefer the MULTI.  And, of course, the MULTI is well equipped to go toe-to-toe with lesser gunfighters like the Hsien…

PoR: Agreed. Versatility versus expert at one thing definitely comes down to personal preference. I’m more in the generalist camp myself and you’re more in the specialist camp… which makes sense, seeing how you play PanO. Now, I think you bring up a good point about the Aquila being a threat that your opponent -has- to deal with. See, the Hsien can do some pretty neat under the radar stuff, because your opponent will almost always underestimate them. I’ve never heard a player say “Oh no! They brought a Hsien, I’m going to lose!”, but I have heard such over the top statements about Aquilas (silly MSV3 and people not knowing how to deal with it). Out of nowhere, BAM! Hsien kills you using his wide toolkit!

Oooo, low blow there! I think you bring up an interesting point about the MULTI rifle loadouts. The Hsien has one too and a HMG one, but both clearly have their merits. Sometimes you just really need some AP/Shock and then other times you just need some longer range-bands and higher damage. Those really just depend on what else you have in your list. The tinbot and shotgun profiles are pretty cool, but really only that great for Fireteams (although, I could see the Tinbot option as a lone hunter, trying to deter hacking too, especially as your Lt. since then it gets a SWC cut). I think where the Hsien really shines is their Lieutenant options. If hidden within a Fireteam or protected well enough alone, they can be excellent powerhouses on the table, especially when fueled by those Lt. Orders and with +1 SWC on the MULTI and a 0.5 SWC cut on the Tinbot. Being able to be your lieutenant is something the Aquila doesn’t get the pleasure of.

AME: Well, no the HMG Aquila doesn’t get to be your Lt, but the MULTI does.  Regarding a TinBot, why not just run Fairy Dust, since for that same SWC you can get a Hacker?  I *have* to admit that the +1SWC Lt is nice, but will 1) be fairly niche and 2) (as experience with Joan shows) trying to get the points to take advantage of that +1SWC can be difficulty.  As to the point about the Hsien flying under the radar, that’s all well and good, but for that level of points, I WANT my opponent to be giving my trooper a wide berth.  So, while, yes, I’ll concede that the Hsien is well rounded rather than focused, I feel that just slides him into the “jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none” category, which means I, and not just as a PanO player, have, do and always will prefer the pure, unadulterated evilness and gunfighting ability of the Aquila Guard.

PoR: Fair arguments. Those points are kind of moot. The tinbot can be nice to save Orders, however, and the extra SWC from the Lt. can be great to add in a Rui Shi, cheap hackers, or some other, cheap SWC options. It is usually pretty difficult to spend that extra SWC, without going over the points limit. All in all, it seems that while the Hsien and Aquila play a somewhat similar role in their given factions, they’re both still excellent options without overshadowing each other. One is more of a generalist, while the other is more of a specialist. It mostly just comes down to personal preference, as to which is better.

AME:  So, folks, there you have.  PoR and my thoughts on the AWESOME Aquila Guard and the (as even I am now forced to admit) quite useful and good (but NOT as good as the Aquila Guard) Hsien.  Can’t wait to try this again, looking at more units and comparing/contrasting them with similar units from different factions.  See you next time!

Your (un)friendly neighborhood Inner Hexahedron Officer,

A Mão Esquerda

As always, logos courtesy of Vyo


  1. Since when doesn't BS14 count as an expert gunfighter? 1 point is only 5% per hit.
    Also, one of the biggest things you haven't mention is that MA 1 gives Hsien stealth, while Aquila will always stumble over repeaters. And when you really want to kill something without being noticed on the way, stealth really helps.
    And if we look at a larger picture, YJ has access to smoke, which really enhances Hsien's killing expertise, especially when he shoots with B5.

    1. No one said BS 14 isn't still a good gunfighter, but the Hsien isn't as great at shooting as the Aquila. That's the point being made. BS 15 and MSV 3 is definitely better than BS 14 and MSV 2.
      True, I didn't mention the stealth part, you got me there. It's one of those things that I keep forgetting that I need to address because not everyone knows that still. I'll keep that in mind for the future :)
      While true, the point of this isn't to compare the bigger picture. The point is to compare a troop vs. troop, otherwise too many factors come into play and we could have written 10 more pages.

  2. Thanks for the article. it is nice to see a direct comparison or similar units being made across the board. It is apparent that it is harder than it seems to directly compare similar units to each other across factions. Although it is much harder it would be nice to see the same thing done but across a wider spectrum of factions. Thanks again.

    1. Thanks Patrick! Our plan is to expand and do more... I believe that the only faction we WON'T be able to 100% justice to will be CA, since none of us plays it as our primary.

    2. Yup, RFJ is correct about that. We'll be doing a few other versions of this series that will feature simple troop vs. troop comparisons to more macro concepts (i.e. Vanilla vs. Sectorial).