What Infinity taught me about Age of Sigmar
Infinity and Age of Sigmar are probably two games that you'd never even consider have anything in common. We have Infinity, a rules-dense, skirmish, anime-inspired sci-fi game with all sorts of crazy technology, hacking and aliens. With Age of Sigmar, we have a very light ruleset, based on the decades of story and IP of the Warhammer universe, covered in skulls in a very Hyperborea-esque universe. So what do they have in common?
Some Quick Observations
Now that I've played a dozen or so games of Infinity, I've really started to take note of how people play, especially how they play differently than what I'm used to. When you're playing a game of 40k or Fantasy, you frequently encounter people who try to use gotcha moments to trap their opponent, often times in a situation that the opponent had intended to avoid.
A prime example of this is unit coherency when facing blast weapons. I have countless times thought I spaced my models at maximum coherency, only to find out I fell a tiny bit short in one direction, allowing my opponent could hit more models. There's no doubt that I had intended to maximize the distance, but unless I'm playing a friend, there's very much a no-take-backs attitude. I can also think of many times where I thought I had measured that my unit is within 3" of an objective, only to find out at the end of the game that I was about a mm too far away, costing me the game. These tiny mistakes, which every makes, actually changes the game from outplaying your opponent, to nitpicking your way to victory.
Something else I've experienced a lot in the last 2 decades of playing 40k/WHFB, is a lot of people try to build their army around taking advantage of uncommon, unclear, or unusual rules combinations. It is often unclear exactly how it interacts with another rule, or may be clearly enough written, though painfully obvious that it was not intended, and typically you don't even realize it's an issue, until your opponent has sprung the trap, crafting some weird argument about how they have Masters in English, and they can clearly argue that the wording of the rule means something totally new to you and everyone else in the world.
We've all seen the arguments raging across the internet, like people saying any time you use Deep Strike you're entering from Reserves (even if the unit was already on the board), being able to overwatch with 2 guns on a monstrous creature (there is a new Shooting Phase in the assault phase apparently), re-rolling 1's to hit means you can re-roll to hit with a blast weapon, and so on. These kinds of situations lead to awkward conversations that totally disrupt the flow of the game, then the player who has invested in the potential exploit is either going to get away with it and piss off their opponent, or they're going to feel slighted that they put so much into a strategy that was exploitive. When the dust settles, it's pretty clear that the game wasn't about out-playing your opponent, but more about an exercise in, english syntax, the legal system, and theology.
What makes Infinity different?
A Game for Gentleman
In Infinity, the game is designed for players to live up to the intent of their actions. If you move behind a wall, and you intend to be out of LoS, you're out of LoS, even if you accidentally put yourself with a sliver of your model actually in LoS. Nobody argues, it's just part of the game. By playing the game with what you intend to do, it creates a much more interesting environment. You don't win/lose a game based on someone unintentionally leaving a glaring hole for the opponent to exploit. You are presumably playing your best game, against your opponents best game.
Due to this format, the people who play the game are far more gentlemanly. The rules arguments seem few and far between, and people rarely question that their opponents Theromoptical Camouflaged unit was actually placed in a perfect position (for non-Infinity players, Thermoptical Camo means you get to pick a point, anywhere on the board, for your model to be hiding, noted in secret and only revealed in the case of a dispute, which rarely seems to happen). This kind of stuff blows my mind, I can't even imagine how much of a disaster such a unit would cause in 40k, let alone all the other hidden information you're expected to keep from your opponent.
So, where am I going with this?
A Lesson Learned
Both games require you to not be a total jerk. That's it, that's the secret. You need to assume your opponent isn't trying to screw you over at every turn, and similarly, you need to not try and screw your opponent over at any opportunity. The game is far more enjoyable and challenging when both players want to have a good game, instead of just clubbing baby seals with obscure technicalities, or micro managing minute measurements when it's clear what someone intended.
When you're playing a game of Age of Sigmar, you're not playing a game with a point system, and as I've spoken to before, this is by no means a game-killer. What the lack of points does mean is, you need to approach the game with the intention of having a good time with your opponent. If as a player, it is your intention to utterly humiliate your opponent, someone is not going to have a good time. Right out the gate, to play Age of Sigmar, you need to have the intention of being a gentleman (or gentlelady), both you and your opponent are in a social contract to have a good time with each other for the next few hours. Similarly, when you're playing the game, if you're trying to take advantage of an unclear rule interaction, such as Fateweaver with a Screaming Bell to automatically win the game, then you're not being a good opponent and you're failing as an opponent.
If Infinity, a game where you can totally hide units from your opponent, purposely mislead your opponent through camouflage, airborne deployment, and holo-projectors... a game where you even start the game with a roll off of a stat that you don't reveal to your opponent until after the game, can work, then a couple of people who are interested in having a good time playing Age of Sigmar should have no problems whatsoever.