If there every was a time to play Vanilla armies it is right now. With pretty much every faction at maximum expansion before the big culling and spring cleaning that N4 (hopefully) brings. Nomads, CA and Aleph are arguably the strongest they ever where, with new additions from their latest Sectorials turning into staple choices or offering flexible alternatives for existing ones. With PanO not just getting a new Secotrials, but pretty nice updates for MO, NCA and SAA on top, we should be able to observe the same trend. But are we looking at a Faction with top tier potential here or did the new stuff just not fit in? The answer to that is it worked out great, but requires starting the approach from scratch, avoiding some traps and forget about what we learned from our Sectorials. First things first - Vanilla PanO can do everything, but not all of it fits in the same list. You can have all the toys from BS15s TAG over Smoke to toolkit Profiles, Close Combat and Warbands. For the most part the usual PanO Sectorial plays different from the rest of Infinity. The focus is solving problems with BS Attacks first and the tools are often keys for a specific lock, rather than lockpick set. To offset that, PanO guners are usually above average and PanO keys do the gun thing better than a lockpick would. Vanilla PanO however has access to all the few cases where we actually do get a lockpick and can mix and match them with the best keys. This leads to a few interesting balance shifts. Vanilla is excellent at DZ defense. A mix of Fugazi, Regular Sensor Minelayer, Auxilia FO, Krakots, Helot, Warcor and Techbee can slow down any assault, while providing Specialists, a solid Order pool and utility. MO in particular is very shorthanded here, NCA lacks access to Mines, CC and the potential Impersonation hard counter that is a single Helot, Varuna has to supplement their basic REM+Fusilier+Helots backline with Snake Eaters. The point above leads to room and support for PanO's solot of synergy with solo troops. The already good ones like a Tik or Swiss are obvious candidates here. However the diversity of Vanilla also opens up troops that struggle a bit to keep up in their respective Sectorials. TAGs and HI want to be screened from various close range threats, including E/M Grenades, CC troop using Marker State and Smoke etc. If they end up Engaged anyway, you'll want a bailout by either using your own CC troops or a Sensor with Triangulated Fire. Asymetric trading. Pretty much anything that's cheap has good chances and a good ARO/active turn options. Warcor, Techbee, Flashpulsebots are PanO staples. Helot, Regular Sensor Minelary and Auxilia are Sectorial contributions. Vanilla adds Krakots and the Monstrucker to the mix. As you can see it's the same baseline cheap troops again. All of them can punch (or stun) above their weight. Camo/Lt shell game. In between TO troops downgrading to Camo (mostly Hexas to contribute their Orders), Zulu Cobra (KHD/Jammer), Helots and Mines any Camo Marker can be dangerous to approach, hide the Lt (with 1 SWC unaccounted for) or otherwise undesireable to walk into ZOC/LOF of. Really helps with keeping anything close to DZ bound Camo Markers alive and discourages Lt hunting - both not the strongest point of the Sectorials. Choice. Again the linetroopers for obvious reasons. But also your Hacker to unlock Rems, now often a ZC, possible Santiago or even DeFeresen instead of the tried and tested Hexa KHD. Your Specialist picks for classifieds opening up options like the Hospitaler Doc, Montesa or Echo Bravo Paramedic. Flat out upgrades. A lot of stuff gut better. Maybe just a little bit, maybe a lot. TAGs receiving a free Order is obviously good for PanO. Hospitaler Doc and Santiago getting cheaper is neat stuff. Echo Bravo providing a cheaper and better optimized alternative to Akali and Crusader, finally bringing an unhackable Specialist Option. ZC providing a Marker State Lt, Combat Sensor, more combat oriented and order efficient Hacker/Spitfire than the Hexa. Seraph gaining a HMG Profile. And ofc the AVA1 Helot doing Helot things. Kumulating this into an example list we can end up with something like this. PanOceania ────────────────────────────────────────────────── GROUP 1 10 1 JOAN OF ARC Spitfire, Nanopulser / Pistol, EXP CCW. (2 | 53) ZULU-COBRA Hacker (Killer Hacking Device) Breaker Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 28) AUXILIA (Forward Observer) Combi Rifle + AUXBOT_1 / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 15) AUXBOT_1 Heavy Flamethrower / Electric Pulse. (- | 4) REGULAR (Minelayer, Sensor) Combi Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 14) KRAKOT RENEGADE 2 Chain Rifles, Grenades / Pistol, DA CC Weapon. (0 | 14) REGULAR (Forward Observer) Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 11) FUSILIER Lieutenant Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10) FUSILIER Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10) FUSILIER Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 10) MULEBOT (Minesweeper, Repeater) Electric Pulse. (0 | 8) GROUP 2 5 3 1 AQUILA HMG / Pistol, Shock CCW. (2 | 62) KRAKOT RENEGADE 2 Chain Rifles, Grenades / Pistol, DA CC Weapon. (0 | 14) TRAUMA-DOC Combi Rifle / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 14) PALBOT Electric Pulse. (0 | 3) HELOT MILITIAMAN Submachine Gun, Light Rocket Launcher / Pistol, Knife. (0.5 | 9) FUGAZI DRONBOT Flash Pulse, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 8) FUGAZI DRONBOT Flash Pulse, Sniffer / Electric Pulse. (0 | 8) TECH-BEE (Remote Assistant Level 1, Specialist Operative) Flash Pulse / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 5) WARCOR (360º Visor) Flash Pulse / Stun Pistol, Knife. (0 | 3) 5.5 SWC | 299 Points Open in Infinity Army Joan Lt is great and just got better with the Monstrucker and Helot joining in. However making all those cheap mooks into Regular Orders also means they're not going to be available as warm bodies to slow down the enemy. And more importantly it locks you out of running PanO's take on the formula that makes Sheskin, Tarik and Achilles great troops. She doesn't have the raw power of either of them, but we're PanO and she's only the 2nd biggest guy in the list. Which brings us to something I would have not expected to show up in my Vanilla lists - the Aquila HMG. There's less active MSV2+ around these days. The< often get cut in favor of the newer or newly improved additions like Kriza Borac taking the place of Intruders, Draal replacing the Gao Rael, Sheskin and Avatar instead of Charontids. There just appear to be less of them around, except for that one Sectorial with Kamau Snipers doing the opposite. Putting the Aquila down as Reserve Piece is brutal against opponent's forgetting he exists. Honestly wouldn't run one in NCA over the protection TO offers to a Swiss or the FTO gets from his Fireteam. For Vanilla however, he can be an immobile turret turn 1 and stay on his rooftop clearing AROs for Joan, the ZC and Krakots while staying safe for a later turn. Joan is faster, better at dealing with close proximity threats and more durable for a first turn Alphastrike. Running her not as the LT also gives you one of the few things in the game able to handily win a firefight but still deadly in CC. Having her and 2 Krakots with DA CCWs in the list for Antimaterial access covers a few otherwise tricky ITS missions as an afterthought. The ZC provides another angle to poke at things with respectable BS, MODs and a fairly hard hitting Breaker Rifle. It's a lot more of an Active Piece than the Hexa KHD (and scares people with the threat of a Jammer/Mine). It's no secret Krakots are my favourite thing in Vanilla. Standard Impetuous is free Orders when you can use them. Double Chainrifles in an army usually low on DTWs. Berserk with DA CCW in an army often not running CC troops. Grenades and possibly Superjump/C+/PH16 through Metachem to clear threats PanO usually has to address head on. And ofc Veteran to walk laughing through E/Marats, Maulers, Parrots, Zappers and Jammers - while also providing a bit of a cushion against LoL. The other guys really just tick boxes. Want one of almost every type of Specialist? Sure. Sensor sweep? Check. Here comes the really nice part - ITS and List number two. We can run a very similar list concept in Nomads or Aleph. But no one else is this flexible about changing the big guys running the show or has anywhere close as many competitive options. Here in PanO we can just cut the 3 most expensive troops and retool the list completely. And not just cutting the Aquila for another HMG. On the contrary, we can play almost the same list just with a Swiss ML, turning it into a very different experience for the Sectorial player running his Core link up the board. We can make room for a Squalo HGL Datatracker + AD, fit a good mix of medium pieces out of Hexa/EB/ZC/Croc/Hospitaler/etc or have a Tik + Joan Lt run havoc on a sparse table that really should not have had a building this tall next to the DZ. Right now PanO can play ITS up there with the best and I'm really pleasantly surprised how comfortable it has gotten.