Saturday 23 January 2016

The Humble FO Remote

Following on from the Humble Thorakitai FO and War Correspondent articles, I'll be turning my sights (and affections) towards another unit that I think is undervalued by many players.

You may know them by many different names - Pathfinder, Guardian, Rafiq, Stempler, M-Drone or Daleth - but these Remotes have most of their properties in common. They are fast, cheap specialists that have a vast amount of unusual equipment at their disposal and come at a very reasonable price. I even named one as the star unit of my Interplanetary trip!

Their singular flaw is that they have too many rules so if you don't do research into what they are capable of then they can seem outright confusing and easy to overlook. So I'm aiming to cover all the information needed to use them effectively and I hope you fall in love with them as much as I have!

The Yu Jing equivalent is the Yaokong Weibing (Guardian). All images property of Corvus Belli.

The Basics

The typical FO Remote weighs in at 16 points and has the skills G: Remote Presence, Deactivator, Forward Observer, Sensor and Sat Lock. Additionally, they come with a Repeater, Combi Rifle (or Rifle + Light Shotgun for the Rafiq), Sniffer and an Electric Pulse. Their basic stats are not dissimilar from that of a standard line infantry. 

Profile for the PanOceania Pathfinder Dronbot.

At a glance, you are paying 16 points (and have to take a Hacker or TAG) in exchange for a decently quick specialist with a mediocre profile and a ton of weird equipment.

Given that most basic infantry specialists are cheaper than this, not to mention easier to hide due to having a smaller profile and being able to go prone/cautious move/dodge effectively, you have to be in a position to make use of all the odd extras in order to get a good amount of value from the unit.

So let's go through all that gear. I've provided links to the Wiki where possible so you can read about them in more detail if you like.

Skills and Equipment

Beep beep, these are all robots. This skill means you can re-roll failed Engineer checks made against the model and it has two levels of unconscious so takes three points of damage to destroy outright. FO Remotes are surprisingly resilient if you keep picking them back up and they can contribute towards the Test Run classified objective.

Having a Repeater means the Remote's Zone of Control counts as an extension of each friendly Hacker's Hacking Area. Pretty handy given that they move faster than most Hackers do.

It is worth noting that models are always considered to be inside their own Repeater area so you can always target the FO bot with Gadget programs regardless of where it is on the battlefield.

One of my favourite uses of this is dropping White Noise (using a Hacking Device Plus) in front of the Remote as a way of easily killing MSV users! 

An unusual piece of kit. It can be used to remove Mines and other Deployable Weapons including Crazy Koalas, Drop Bears and D-Charges from the battlefield.

Simply make a BS attack which is only modified by the range modifiers on the table below and if successful then the Deployable Weapon is removed from the table without any kind of save possible.

Be aware though that this does require line of sight, doesn't work against camouflaged equipment and it does not oppose Mines blowing up in your face so please only attempt this from outside small template range.

Having to look up what this did the night before a big tournament because I had genuinely never used it before was not one of my proudest moments!


This skill functions as a BS attack that can only be used in the active turn. It puts affected models into the Targeted state which has all kinds of nice benefits such as:
  • Attacks against Targeted models have a +3 modifier to hit.
  • Guided munitions may be fired at Targeted models.
  • Speculative Fire attacks made against Targeted models do not suffer the normal -6 modifier to hit.
On top of this, troops with the Forward Observer skill count as specialists in most scenarios and the skill can be used to complete some classified objectives. In an absolutely worst case scenario you can just using the Remote as 6-4 MOV specialist which isn't awful on its own. It's profile is as below.

Forward Observer

Flash Pulse
All Forward Observers have this weapon automatically as part of their equipment.

Flash pulse is a BS attack (which uses their WIP 13) that may be used as an ARO and puts the target into the Stunned state. This can be pretty useful when attacked from outside rifle ranges or when attacked by multi wound/structure models that you don't have a hope of killing outright. It's profile is below.

I really value Flash Pulse due to its ability to shut down even the toughest targets in a single lucky strike. It's often an ARO option worthy of consideration.

Flash Pulse

One of the most important skills on offer. It passively gives a +6 modifier to discover rolls against Camouflage or TO Camouflage and stops such models from re-entering the camouflaged state while within the ZoC of the Sensor equipped model.

You can also use the Sensor short skill which requires a normal WIP+6 (19s) roll to automatically discover all camouflaged, TO camouflaged and hidden deployment(!) models/equipment within Sensor Area. If you can get in position then you almost can't fail. Also, unlike Discover, it can be used any number of times in a given turn.

Sensor Area is the ZoC of the Sensor equipped model plus the ZoC of each friendly Sniffer.

In terms of Discover checks Sensor is the most powerful tool available short of a Multispectral Visor L3. Much like an MSV though, none of the effects or bonuses from Sensor apply against Impersonators or Holoprojectors unfortunately.

Triangulated Fire
This skill allows the user to spend an entire order to make an attack at -3 to hit, but with no other mods included. Want to shoot that suppressing, TO Camo model in cover from 20" away? Sure, you're hitting on 8s. That's pretty darn good.

Be aware that because it is an entire order skill you do need to be able to get into position safely, or already be in place. A common play is Move+Discover followed by Triangulated Fire.

Edit: I was also reminded that this skill allows you to fire into combat without the normal -6 modifier, meaning you have no chance to accidentally hit your own model!

A very unusual entire order skill which is only available to models with both the Sensor and Forward Observer skills - such as these remotes and the Nomad Grenzer.

It allows the user to make a Comms Attack (which is defended against using Reset) at WIP-6 against any model, equipment, CH: Camouflage marker or CH: TO Camouflage marker in Sensor Area regardless of Line of Sight. If successful the model is now Targeted and if it was a Marker then it is revealed as well.

I would only recommend using this skill against camouflaged troops because against normal models you are better off having your Hacker (assuming it is still alive!) use the Spotlight program through the Repeater instead as it only has a -3 penalty and has similar targeting restrictions, although Sat-Lock can also be used through friendly Sniffers.

If you have an EVO Hacker in your army then you can also ignore the -6 MOD to WIP when using Sat-Lock, making it very useful indeed! 

The new Combined Army drone box includes the parts needed to make an M-Drone.

Sniffers are basically deployable Repeaters equivalents for the Sensor skill. A placed Sniffer extends the Sensor Area of all Sensor units in an 8" radius around itself.

This may seem a little niche but having a couple placed near key objectives can be useful against Camouflage and Mine heavy strategies.

Also be aware that models may not return to a camouflaged state within the ZoC of a Sniffer as long as you have a non-Null model with Sensor.

Only available to the Stempler and Daleth versions (Nomad and Aleph respectively) this skill adds a huge amount of versatility to the unit for only one extra point.

It allows for easy movement over walls, buildings and other structures which combined with the 6-4 movement gives the remote a lot of manoeuvrability and opens up unusual angles of attack.

One neat trick is standing on a wall facing downwards. This gives you pseudo-360 vision (your back arc is above you) at the expense of not being able to claim cover. Check out my badly drawn graphic MS paint drawing explaining this here

Again costing one extra point and unique to the M-Drone, this skill lets you pick a terrain type at the start of the game and then ignore all movement penalties related to moving through it. It is a surprisingly powerful skill if your group tends to play with lot terrain types.

Combi Rifle or Rifle + Light Shotgun
This is your standard armament, nothing much to say other than it's important to remember that these weapons can be used to Suppressive Fire with. This can be pretty intimidating if the Remote is buffed with Assisted Fire (granting it the Marksmanship L2 skill).

A complete last resort. The Electric Pulse has a small chance of rendering a close combat attacker immobilised for two player turns. It applies a -6 modifier to incoming close combat attacks and if the attacker fails within that margin then they are immobilised.

This was barely useful in N2 back when CC scores were generally lower but now it's almost never going to come up during a game.

So don't aim to get your remotes into combat at all, it's not good for them and their insurance won't cover it.


So there you have it. For a meagre 16 (or 17) points you get a fast-moving, Mine-deactivating, marker-discovering, Camouflage-busting, Hacker-assisting, targeted-state-inducing, suppressive-firing specialist.

The FO remote fills a number of gaps in many lists, helping deal with camouflage, supporting Smart Missile Launcher or Hacking strategies and completing both main and classified objectives. It is a rare game where there wouldn't be a use for it. What more could you want?

Have you been using these units and do you think you've made full use of their abilities? Let me know what you think.


  1. Excellent blog post. I've struggled to find a place for my Rafiq, but will definitely look again. I'd be insured to hear your thoughts on the Fanous and other support remotes.

    1. I'm glad you found it interesting. I'll probably do a proper overview of the rest of the generic Remotes once Human Sphere has been released and the new EVO Repeater rules are out, but there's a quick summary below.

      Generally, I really like Shihab (Total Reaction) of course and they often fit into my armies. They are only five points more than a Ghulam with HMG, but are terrifying in ARO, can do their jobs with no order expenditure and can benefit from Assisted Fire. A 6-4 MOV HMG is never a bad thing and I even like them in pairs!

      The Shaytaniyah's (Smart Missile Launcher) usefulness depends entirely on the list supporting it. Haqqislam have good FO and Hacking options so it certainly can be useful and it's really scary in ARO with Enhanced Reaction on it. Rafiqs are great support for this kind of strategy!

      I'm not very impressed by the Fanous (Repeater) Remotes because the Sniffer isn't great on its own and otherwise it's just an expensive, mobile Repeater. If they were specialists though then I'd be all over them, but as it is they just seem a bit lacking.

      Of the Kameel (Baggage) Remotes I'm most fond of the Minesweeper for its ability to clear objectives of hostile explosives. It's still a bit niche, but it does come with a Repeater and the Baggage skill is useful for some ITS missions. For 8 points I definitely think it is better than the Fanous.

      Not much to say about the EVO Repeater because it is due to change soon. The Total Reaction variant is just a weaker Shihab and I'd rather just put a Ghulam into Suppressive Fire I think!

  2. Really cool article. I just found these recently while looking for different options in my current escalation league. I really do think that they are really good. Sometimes they are overlooked because they are not very "Killy" but there are only a few mission and objectives scored by actually killing things.

    1. I definitely agree with you, but have got to say that a Combi Rifle with Marksmanship L2 is often killy enough. ;)

  3. cool article!
    and remember - you need to kill remote 3 times to remove it from the table (2 levels of unconscious) and you need only one succeeded repair action to make remote active again

    1. Aye, they are tough little buggers. Good for giving your Engineers something to do (and for classifieds)!

  4. Thank you for this very interesting article !

    1. You are very welcome, glad you liked it. :)

  5. I never leave home without at least one of these (usually two!). They are seriously one of the best units in the game IMO.

    1. Agreed! What faction do you use them in?

    2. I play Yu Jing. Those Weibing just do everything.

    3. same here, Daleth (FO+Sensor) and Zayin (TR) is a must-have for Aleph

  6. Great article! Now more people will know our little secret on how useful these little guys are. ;)

    Just a quick note - Flash Pulse are technical weapons, right? I found, especially during ARO, returning fire with it helps with surviving if under fire. REMs have a decent WIP, after all.

    1. We'll the cat's out off the bag now!

      It is indeed a technical weapon and WIP 13 is very reasonable. :)

  7. Found this articel thanks to the anti impersonation articel featured by corvus belli.
    And after my last game i feel in love with the drone, discovering nearly all camo markers of my US:A in one round, after running over half the map. I think i will use her more often after this game and the new ways you showed in the articel. One think, i as a noob still struggel with is: what kind of hacking device is worth it. I really like the Kamel-Evo (fluff wise) but most of the Time i play assault hacking haw'a or standard barids. Would love to read your oppinion on this. Especialy as a noob like myself i can't always see limitations, combos or swc/point/order Efficiency.

    Sry for the bad english;)

    1. Hello and thank you for your comment. Don't worry about your English, it's perfectly understandable. :)

      I agree that Al'Hawwa and Barid Hackers (especially if they are your LT) seem the most useful. The Tuareg is also very good with WIP 15, but I like the Doctor load-out too.

      Keep in mind that the Hunzakut FO and LGL profiles have Deployable Repeaters which can be useful for increasing your Hacking Areas. They are pretty good troops in their own right so I would definitely recommend one if you are investing heavily in Hackers.

      The Barid is always a good choice for Lieutenant as you can use his LT order to activate Gadget programs on your Remotes without putting him in harm's way.