3 Tips for Learning Infinity
In my local gaming scene, we've had a ton of new interest in the game, resulting in us having more new players than experienced ones at our local game shop recently. This has been fantastic, being able to share our favorite game with a new audience, introduce some new blood to the scene, and diversify our pool of opponents to play with. The drawback has been though, a lot of players trying to learn all the rules to the game at the same time. Today I'm going to go over my three main tips for new players on how to pick up the game effectively and efficiently, without getting overwhelmed by the large number of rules in the game.
1. Don't Read the whole Rulebook
That's right, don't go buy the rulebook and read it cover to cover. Infinity has a modular ruleset, based around some simple mechanics, and it is this modularity which makes the game easier to learn the rules than some other, non-modular rulesets. When you read the book cover to cover and try to memorize each of the individual rules, it is easy to get different ranks of skills mixed up, and you're actually making it more difficult to learn. It is worth glancing over it, but I would suggest just focusing on the basics: how orders/AROs work, moving, shooting, and dodging.
2. Play Smaller Games
It is easy to think that because Infinity uses fewer miniatures than other games you've played, "I should have no problem jumping in with a full 300 point list, after all, I'm a veteran wargamer!" Wrong. This game has a lot of unique interactions between special abilities, meaning each order, even a simple Move and BS Attack, can actually result in some involved problem solving.
A good example from my game last night, a Ghazi Muttawi'ah (Haqqislam warband with a chain rifle among other gear), moved into position to potentially fire at my Marauder with Heavy Rocket, but also in LOF (Line of Fire) of my camouflaged Foxtrot with Boarding Shotgun. I had to pick one to shoot with with to stop his rampage, if I shot with my Marauder, it would almost certainly be mutually assured destruction, while if I shot with my Foxtrot, it would reveal my position. If I just dodged with the Marauder, he could keep running that little jerk down the side of my army, attacking more vulnerable troops. Tough choices!
We're talking about a very common situation in the game, between a mere three models. You don't need to play at 300 points to get a fulfilling tactical experience, I strongly suggest that new players to stick to 150 (approximately one starter set) or 200 points for their first 10-15 games. Honestly, I think that many veterans could benefit from playing 200 more often anyhow, since it forces you to use some of your units in new ways, and solve problems differently than you normally may. Playing with less points means less to keep track of, but it doesn't make the game any less enjoyable. As a long-time 40k player, I totally understand the apprehension of playing less points than what is "official" for tournaments, but in Infinity, 200 points is a totally valid tier in the ITS (Infinity Tournament System).
3. Play the Same List
So now that I told you to not read all the rules, I'm going to tell you what rules to read! When starting out, really, don't overdo it, like I said above, playing smaller games really does go a long way to help learn the game faster. It's somewhat counter intuitive, but I've this work for many new players. I'm going to go one step further and tell you to not try out all the toys. When you're first starting out, pick up about 150-200 points, and just play those units for your first 5-10 games. When you're hankering for more diversity, check out Infinity Army (the official Infinity army builder app), and look at some of the different units in your army, then look up their rules on the Infinity Wiki (the official source of Infinity rules). By now you should have a bit of an understanding of how the basic rules work, and should be able to sort out how these new rules will fit into what you already know.
At first, Infinity can seem a bit overwhelming, which is totally understandable when you try to learn it all at once. Thankfully, this game really plays well at smaller game-sizes, and the majority of veterans I've met in the community would have no problem with playing fewer points for the sake of helping new players pick up the rules more easily. After you get a few games under your belt, expanding your collection with even a single model you think looks cool, or has an interesting rule, can truly, and dramatically, change how your army plays.
Controlling the amount of rules that you expose yourself to all at once can really go far in helping you learn the rules faster. You don't need to learn it all at once, but spending time figuring out the rules you have access to and learning how to leverage them, will help you more than trying out everything without really understanding how any of it works.
So I say, buy your starter packs and a blister or two, and play the hell out of it!
Next week I'll be going over how to break into the world of ITS Scenarios, as well as how to know if you're getting better as a player, so stay tuned!