Infinity: First Impressions
For years now, Infinity has been sitting on my radar. I've played a great many war games over the years, and probably due to that, I've been reluctant to start new ones, but it seems that Infinity just will not die, it slowed down for a minute, and I thought it was gone, another mini game flash in the pan, but lately it just seems to be growing faster and faster. Since it passed the test of being popular for a number of years, I figure I'd better see what all the fuss is about! A friend of mine came to town, bringing his Nomad force, as well as the USAriadna starter set. It was these neo-Americans that sparked my interest in the game, as the new sculpts are just amazing, as far as I can tell, nobody else seems to be producing models nearly this good looking. One of the things that always made me disinterested in the game is that it felt like there was no non-anime faction, and despite me not particularly caring for werewolves, I cannot deny that the antipodes just look bad ass. Since we're a bunch of 40k players, I decided that if I'd even consider the game, I'd need to convince at least 1-2 more friends to give it a shot, which is where Obadiah came in... I figured if anyone would appreciate the amazing sculpts, it was the best painter/sculptor that I know.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the game, let me describe some of the key mechanics I noticed and think that fellow 40k players would find interesting:
As I expected, the game took a ton of terrain, which my friend assumed I wouldn't have, since I'm "just a 40k player" though thankfully, I actually had plenty (probably because I can load up 2-3 boards with adequate 40k terrain, hah!). I quite like a board full of terrain, so I really liked how it looked altogether.
At first, I found the D20 system confusing, which seems totally understandable, as it is a system that is entirely different than any other game I've played. Essentially, there are two kind of rolls: Face to Face, and Normal. For a normal roll, you basically calculate the modifiers (for things like range, cover, camo, etc.), and try to roll a dice equal to or under your target, so for example, if you're BS11 shooting at someone behind cover (-3), and you're in your guns unmodified range band (+0), then you're going to need to roll an 8 or less on the dice (11-3). Yeah, that's right, you want to roll LOWER for most rolls in the game. Now, if you're doing a face to face roll, such as you firing at your opponent, while they're shooting you back, you both roll your appropriate number of dice, the objective being to roll higher than your opponent, yet still equal to or under your target roll. Additionally, if you roll your exact required number, then you score a critical, which is effectively an auto-win, but with some additional bonuses (critically shooting someone basically blows their brains out).
Instead of the normal I go, you g0, that we have in all GW games, WMH, and many others, Infinity has an order system. You get a number of orders equal to the number of models you have on the board, and orders are spent to let models take an action (move+move, move+shoot, hide with camo, suppressive fire, etc.). Models may perform as many actions as you have orders for, so you can effectively give up actions with some models, to allow others to do more, which creates a huge amount of tactical flexibility in the army. This system was super easy to figure out, and once we got the hang of it, we were starting to plan out multiple action maneuvers to mess up each others plans.
When your opponent performs an action, your units are allowed to perform a reaction, so someone walking around the corner in front of your guy with a boarding shotgun is in for a nasty surprise. Unlike other games, this means that you can't walk out in the open safely firing off all your guns, only allowing the enemy to shoot back after they've waited their turn. Nope, you walk out into the open and if someone is pointing their gun your way, they get a chance to shoot you immediately.
One other notable difference in this game is the utter lethality of it. Getting shot with a gun really hurts, who'd have imagined it! There is no toughness value, just armour, and once a bullet is through the armour, it's just going to rattle around in your gooey insides, causing you to have a really bad day. You do not want to rely on your armour alone, the toughest, nastiest units in the game do not want to get shot in the face. Sorry, there is no Space Marine, and if you do walk out in the open, someone is going to blast you. Your armour may be high-tech, but so is the depleted teseum slug that just entered your skull.
Despite us both playing human factions, it was clear who had technological superiority, and it wasn't the USAriadna. I was firing what felt like a good ol' slug firing AK-47, while he was firing recoilless machine guns, laying invisible mines, and being protected by sophisticated powered armour with advanced targeting systems. The game did feel totally balanced though, he may have had more toys, but I had more bodies, which meant more orders.
I tried to play cautiously, proving suppressive fire from some grunts, while others advanced, but simultaneously used my Maverick (motorcycle) to go up the flank and shoot her shotgun at some troops that were hiding behind buildings. My Devil Dog didn't fare nearly as well though... I figured sending him up the middle to engage the opponent was logical, only to realize that was a 40k-player mistake... He may be a big warewolf, but he can still get riddled with bullets just fine..
The whole game we felt at the edge of our seats, there was tension in every action you took, having to weigh the chances of getting shot in the face for the opportunity to move between pieces of cover to get in optimal range of your weapons. Throwing smoke around to protect my advance was key, effectively giving you a bit of temporary cover while you move, though some of his models had special sensor visors that allowed him to see through it just fine.
After 3 turns, the game was over and we tallied up victory points. While I managed to scare Obi with the treat of so many guns, his advanced weapons were too much for me to handle and he pulled out a narrow victory.
I think this game gets two (actually four) emphatic thumbs up. We both had a great time and really enjoyed the tactical and action packed feel of the game. The rules are fairly easy to pick up, though really take a bit of practice, and there are a TON of special rules in the game. It seems like you can get by knowing what your troops do, and learning about the opponent on the fly, you definitely wont lose a game by not knowing exactly what another model can do. The biggest issue I have with the game is the rulebook, which doesn't seem laid out well for use as reference, but thankfully there is a maintained wiki that the company uses which is quite helpful. If you are interested in the game, definitely have someone walk you through the first game or two to get the hang of it.
Talking to people about the game, there is very much a mantra of "it's not the list, it's you" when it comes to army construction. It appears that basically all of the units are very well balanced, and army construction is more about preference, than picking the winning unit combinations. This is a concept that is totally alien to a competitive 40k or WMH player, I can actually play with the models I think look cool, and have a totally fine chance of winning! There are definitely some nice to have combinations, like you would obviously want a forward observer of some sort if you're bringing indirect fire weapons, but nothing on the order of magnitude of War Convocation + Blood Angel Drop Pods, or Draigo + Centurions.
I enjoyed the game so much that I've already ordered my own USAriadna starter pack, as well as the Combined Army starter, and Obadiah is picking up the Tohaa (and I bet Aleph). This is really a fun game, and a welcome break from the usual list-hammer of 40k. You can definitely expect to see some battle repors in the future, but probably not many painted minis until after the Las Vegas Open, after all, we still have a pledge to finish!