Monday, August 28, 2017

The Qapu Khalqi Project - Part 1 (Overview and Odalisques)

Well with Gencon now behind us and having a moment to breathe as a result, I figured it was high time I got started in the first part of my article series, talking about my journey with Qapu Khalqi (QK) and all the juicy discoveries, tactical thoughts, and progress I’ll be making as I delve into the sectorial.

Now some of you may have gotten a hint of things to come when I mentioned my charity project for QK, and efforts on that front have been seriously productive. Thanks to a healthy amount of donations (and more welcome by the way), winnings, store credit and profits from a decent online trade, I’ve managed to secure myself a decent-sized QK army… all without spending a penny. Once we’ve hit about $250 worth (and we’re very close to that goal), I can make a decent-sized check out for the same amount to Spread the Word here in Nevada and support a local charity so we can all feel good about having done something for a good cause!

But that’s enough about the project itself, let’s talk about QK itself.

Overview

QK is an interesting beast. I’ve noticed that ever since the drop of Human Sphere N3 (HSN3), much of the chatter on them has really died down into the background. This is quite surprising for an army that once won Interplanetary (2014) and still make a decent showing in many tournaments.

In fact, in many ways this is definitely a testament to the “new shiny syndrome” that many gamers suffer from, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with the sectorial in any competitive sense, and yet perhaps due to the relative sparseness of recent releases for them, discussion is at an all-time low. A cursory glance at the Haqqislam forum shows most posts relating to QK dated back to 2014-2015, with a few sprinkled through last year and even fewer this. What’s going on?

Well it’s funny because I chatted to a few of the more prominent members of the community, where many of them (perhaps rightly or wrongly) believed that QK was nerfed with the changes in HSN3, and haven’t had cause to look back since.


It’s perhaps easy to see what they mean – Azra’ils lost linkability (which saddened many), Druze and KTS can’t take Hafza (which is annoying) and perhaps more fundamentally, Hafzas were limited to 2x per core link, preventing you from going overboard on cheap filler bodies. Combined with Haris becoming more widespread in other sectorials, some might be tempted to say that QK got a bit of a beating in HSN3.























Personally, I think the reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, once you drill down beneath the surface, I think QK actually gained from HSN3, which is quite an accomplishment considering it was considered a top-tier sectorial before. Take a look at all of these buffs:

- Sekban overhaul
- Druze overhaul (and scheduled to get ANOTHER overhaul in the fall)
- Odalisques got cheaper Haris
- Janissary Missile launcher cheaper
- Yuan Yuans bumped to PH 14 (important for grenades and combat jump if desired)
- Better Feuerbach on the Azra’il
- Better SMGs all round
- Better holo1/2 changes
- Better i-Kohl changes
- Spec Fire/Hacking won’t kick you from a link (good for a link heavy sect!)
- KHD exists
- Druze/Sekban Duo exists
- Leila exists
- Brigada Hacker
- Djanbazan Shock Marksman Rifle
- HRL Hafza
- Assault on Scarface (with a pts bump mind)

Oh, and the BIG one…

- Hafzas can join a Haris now… a definite gain over losing the ability to take more than 2 in a core, I say.

It’s quite an impressive list (of just the things I’ve noticed – add more in the comments if you find them!). **

**In many ways, I’d say the gains FAR outweigh the losses, particularly in the case of Azra’il/Druze/KTS which I’ll cover in their sections, but I don’t think those were much of a loss at all. We’ll get to that.

And yet, QK isn’t really getting nearly the love that it deserves. Well it’s time to put an end to that I think, and both this project and the article series I think will be a solid step in the right direction. Let’s start with one of my favorite pieces in QK, the outstanding Odalisques!


Profile

Odalisques are, IMO, some of the nicest older sculpts out there on the market, and as soon as I had a chance to look at some, I knew QK would be a faction I’d be playing one day. But aside from being gorgeous “models” (heh), they’re also an interesting and surprisingly nuanced profile that I think a lot of people fall flat on, and yet it’s one that I just can’t get enough of.


On the face of it, none of the stats on the Odalisques particularly jump out at you, and yet it’s the combination of skills and equipment that really makes them an outstanding choice once they hit the table. They’re tough (NWI + ARM 2 +SSL2 to cancel bad mods), cheap (<25 ppm for most of them, +Hafza), and quite frankly, up close Odalisques represent nothing less than close range obliteration thanks to their deadly guns and i-Kohl. The most apt analogy I’ve come to consider Odalisques under is that they are a “pocket battleship”, providing something with close to the killing power and durability of a HI on a cheap and unassuming LI frame. Nasty stuff.

But let’s break things down more specifically:


Skills

i-Kohl Level 3 – The main unique feature of the Odalisques, i-Kohl slaps your target with a fat -9 modifier so long as you meet two conditions – you have to reach them in B2B, and you have to be declaring Engage, Dodge or a CC Attack (with the former 2 cases being pretty nice bumps in HSN3). It’s a pretty fluffy rule and yet nobody really gets excited by it, largely because I’ve seen games where people are trying to do something silly like tie down Achilles or a Ninja and finding that the ladies get cut down all the same.

The uses for this skill are actually twofold. First, you can grab things like your usual line troops who tend to range from CC 11-15, and largely turn them into mewling kittens. This is a great tar pit situation, and being in melee means that folks are -6 to hit you (note, always choose SSL2 IMO, we’ll get to that) and might even kill their friends.


The second is to force difficult choices. If I move up to engage somebody and he chooses anything but dodge, I can blast him with the nanopulser and odds are decent that he’ll die (and hey, I might live with NWI assuming a normal single shot ARO/melee swing).


If he knows that and chooses to dodge instead, I can swing in melee combat and he’s now dodging on a -9 and probably looking for a 4-5 at best vs. your 15. In short, so long as you aren’t trying to melee superheroes, Odalisques rock at killing stuff in combat. Just remember in doesn't work on robots (anything with structure)... 

NWI – Aside from ammunition like shock, DA, linked ARO’s and so forth, Odalisques take a pair of hits to kill just like HI, which usually means that even if you flub a critical roll, the little lady can keep on going and kicking ass. This is an absolutely stellar ability on a 5-man link where “crits happen”, and if you’re feeling racy you can even move up one of those great Haqqislam doctors (17s mmm) and stitch them back together – without having to wait till the link breaks because they won’t be unconscious! Lovely. All in all, NWI keeps each lady going longer and thus keeps the link bonuses going longer, which only helps to up their offensive and defensive capabilities.

Where this really comes into its own is when you consider most AROs. Chain Rifles and nanopulsers that would be lethal to just about any other LI link can be shrugged off by the Odalisque, and most single shot AROs can’t kill you, so you can cross gaps if you don’t mind taking a hit and get to a valuable objective. Even in melee, with the odds in your favor, you’re annoyingly difficult to get rid of thanks to the combination with i-Kohl. I’ll give you an amusing example – when engaged with an Odalisque, an Asura will only deal a wound 10% of the time, which statistically means spending up to 20 (!!!) orders to deal two wounds and shrug one off. Have fun with that.

360 Visor/SSL2 – Yes you only get one, and yes, it’s a difficult choice. Each player has their preference, and conventional advice seems to dictate taking 360 visor in a core link (because they’d be getting SSL2 anyway from being a 4 man+ link) and otherwise take SSL2. Personally, I always take SSL2 which might surprise some of you, but here’s my reasoning:
·         Shit happens, links break or lose members. It’s not just enemy activity though – the amount of times where a dangerous enemy has come around the corner on their turn (particularly w a template) and I’ve broken one Odalisque out to dodge to engage while the rest dodge/shoot comes up a LOT.
·         If somebody tries to shoot you while melee, you still get to shoot! It gets me every time when I see the thought process of dealing with an Odalisque tying up something valuable – first they try and swing away, then the math syncs in and they switch to shooting the poor lady with something else. With SSL2 though, you can still dodge, which puts the odds back in your favor again vs. them dealing with the -6 to avoid hitting their buddy.
·         You can delay your ARO. A lot of people forget about this, but assuming the enemy moves into your ZOC (SSL1) or attack you (SSL2), you can delay your ARO until their second skill is declared. This is immensely valuable for something with a template weapon, because if dodge is not one of the skills declared, you can hose them down unopposed with the nanopulser, and if they do dodge then they aren’t shooting you, letting you shoot them with better odds on a F2F roll or even dodge yourself out of LOS. For those of you who are fans of Chasseurs, you know how great this is.
·         No surprise attack, no surprise shot (all good tools on your reactive turn, you’ll sense a theme here), and if you do get attacked from behind, you’re getting 360 essentially anyway.

Now there are some downsides – you can’t suppress with 360 vision, models can technically slip past you by moving into your back arc, and of course if the whole team is attacked from behind, only the person being attacked can react. Still, those gains above are pretty huge, and good placement can usually overcome the drawbacks associated with lacking 360 most of the time anyway.


Weapons

Odalisques essentially have 5 weapons to choose from, plus they all have nanopulsers for a nasty template surprise – good when the enemy doesn’t dodge, hosing down links, auto-hitting melee attackers as they approach and so on. We’ve basically covered a lot of the main uses for this weapon, but just remember it’s a big part of what makes Odalisques good up close because there are few ways to avoid it, its B2 so long as you have at least a 3-man link, and it forces difficult choices once you get stuck in there.

The Spitfire is usually a given for any Odalisque setup (single, Haris, or Core) as the high burst and longest ranged weapon, so I think you’re always taking at least one no matter what you do.

But by far the most interesting loadout for me is the SMG + Contender. Call it a “poor man’s linked multi-rifle” (back to our pocket battleship analogy again here), and the SMG part gives you warband wrecking (shock), armor cracking (AP) bursts of death (up to B4, BS 15 in a 5-girl link) while the Contender gives you a lethal rifle-range ARO (B1 DA, + link bonuses).

It’s also the cheapest of the loadouts, so once you start talking bigger teams, those savings are important. Most of the time, your spitfire and Hafza have your long-longer range bands covered, so the SMG + Contender is bumping up capabilities here.

Finally, if you are running alone or drop out of the link, this loadout is also an absolutely crazy suppressing fire platform. It can’t be surprised or simply shot in the back, it has NWI, it’s cheap, it’s ARM 5 in cover, it has a template weapon, it’s basically a multi-rifle in suppressing with both shock and AP ammo, it’s got a DA non-suppressing shot if need be, and it’s not a good idea to melee one. Not bad for 22 points!  

The Rifle + LSG is mandatory in a Haris (duh) as the provider of that bonus, but otherwise I don’t much rate it. While it is flexible in terms of range bands, your cheaper Hafza offer similar capabilities for far less, and it’s not usually doing much the rest of the link doesn’t do already as a result. The Boarding Shotgun is a little better – nobody is saying no to Shotgun weapons up close, and you can certainly bring down Armored foes (AP) or clustered enemies (impact template) with it, but again, I feel like the SMG + Contender + Nanopulser combinations are giving me plenty there already. But to each their own of course – if you like the weapon, it’s perfectly serviceable, and I can see a solid case being made for weapon flexibility here.

We’ll talk about that here when we come to…



The Link

Basically, most people naturally gravitate towards the Haris option here – normally a Spitfire, Haris, and Hafza FO, and call it a day. I don’t think it’s a bad approach per se, but I do feel like it misses out on the best loadout the Odalisques have to offer (the SMG + Contender) and might go some way towards explaining why people aren’t as crazy about the ladies as I am. You also lose out on that second Hafza (usually an HRL, again I’ll get there), which means giving up an important range band and a deadly ARO piece. Finally, that incredible 3-man link bonus is threatened with just a single casualty, drastically reducing your offensive and defensive capabilities.























Now the Haris is a given if you’re trying to run a core of something else (e.g. KTS or Djanbazans) and I don’t blame people for running it this way, but I’d urge more folks to give the Core a second look. This is how I build mine

Odalisque Spitfire
Odalisque SMG/Contender
Odalisque SMG/Contender
Hafza FO
Hafza HRL

Suddenly that’s a rather terrifying package of close range firepower, I’ve got a solid ranged weapon to march up the board with as team leader, and I still get to keep my valuable specialist and spitfire while arguably shedding the much less important rifle + LSG. Not bad. Where I do consider the Haris model actually is IN a core like this, running a combat group with something like:

Odalisque Spitfire
Odalisque SMG/Contender
Odalisque Haris
Hafza FO
Hafza FO
Hafza HRL
Sekban HRL
Sekban Doctor
Sekban Haris

It’s a pretty cool list template actually, because you can mix-and-match which list is the Haris or Core upon deployment according to your needs, and the spare Hafza FO lets you shore up one of the links if it breaks to help maintain full strength, or replace a member of the Haris if you want to leave a man behind and escort a specialist up the table. That’s the kind of flexibility you get with QK and is one of the main strengths of the sectorial – use it, love it!

Side note – that lone model Sekban/Odalisque looks very conspicuous standing by their lonesome and most people will think it’s a Hafza, so it’s pretty funny when it turns around to spray them with a real template!   


Hafza

Really these belong in their own article, but what I will do is discuss the use of Hafza here within the context of the link. Really these guys are serving three main purposes here – keeping the cost of the link down because they’re cheaper than the ladies, masking which model has the real Spitfire (which is good, because people want that gone!) and bringing capabilities to the link that they otherwise can’t get.






















With the latter, what we’re mainly concerned with are two primary profiles. The FO loadout let’s Odalisques escort a scoring model up the table, which is essential to most scenarios, and more important on Odalisques vs. any other link because they otherwise can’t score! Amusingly enough, you also gain a valuable flash pulse ARO, which is nice to have. Finally, the HRL loadout simply rocks in any 5-man team, but again Odalisques benefit more than most in QK because they otherwise simply lack long range weapons, so both Hafza I consider really important choices to have.

We’ll touch more upon Hafza in their own article, but given the importance of both types of models, I think you can see why I naturally gravitate towards having 2 of them…


Conclusion

As the first article in my series on QK, it’s not hard to see why I picked Odalisques to focus on. Most people tend to only run them as a Haris or pick other core links to focus on, and while the models are just stunning visually, they don’t get enough love. But with a crazy level of both flexibility and power, they’re a really interesting choice to drop on the table, and can leave even a great opponent in fits once they get close enough to really unleash hell and break some hearts.

That’s all for me this time folks, but I’ll be back with more QK thoughts soon! 

8 comments:

  1. As always, great insight! Well done, again, Lazarus0909!

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    1. Hey thanks man! Stay tuned for all the QK love this Fall :)

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  2. Well done. I have a QK force that I will be painting up soon, so it is nice to get other players thoughts on them!

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    1. Hey I'm glad to hear it! We need more QK players out there to represent before the new Druze box drops and they become the cool kids again... haha

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  3. I've started playing recently and QK has been my army of choice. The lack of more recent forum posts about them is downer, but this is an awesome article, thanks!!

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  4. Nice article. Play QK from time to time but I have to admit that the ladies tend to be glossed over (could be because of a high amount of shock damage in my local meta)

    note about sixth sense lvl 2. Your article implies that you can withhold aro declaration when attacked if you have SSL2 while SSL2 doesn't allow for anything extra compared to SSL1.

    Also, when you are engaged, the engaged state prevent you from shooting (you have a sentance that says you are still allowed to shoot).

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  5. Really nice article! I played QK in an ITS two weeks ago, and I have to say that I think you hit he point with your analysis.

    I'm the kind of player who always thought that the 360º visor was better than SSL2, but the second option allows you to defend your Haris and let your Odalisques to defend themselves if they run alone.

    Hafza is the kind of unit I love, you can play mindtricks with your oponent or show him/her an "inocent Odalisque" with the rifle and LSH who shoots with one Spitfire (it's even funnier when you make them look like a civilian, everyone knows it's a Hafza, but I laughed a lot with friends and the "ordinary citizen" xD).

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  6. Hi, thanks for writing this article. Nowadays there are not too many people playing QK, i think there is the false believe that they are not competitive anymore and I do not agree at all.

    Odalisque are great, but I do not see them as full link of 5. Too dificult to advance them and not good layout to stay behind. And yes, always ss2.

    I look forward to read your next article.

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