Monday, 19 May 2014

A Tour of Infinity

What's it all about then?

In my very first post I mentioned that I play Infinity because, frankly, it's the most fun I've had with a wargame so far. Not only that, but I'm sure that many other people would enjoy playing it too, so I've written this article as an overview of the system and I hope it will be interesting for those who have not previously heard about it, or are considering starting to play.

Infinity is set about 120 years in the future and is a sci-fi skirmish game with each player controlling somewhere between 8 to 20 models on average. Individual battles represent covert Special Forces actions between major superpowers or skirmishes against the vanguard of an alien incursion.

A standard (300 points) Aleph army.

So, why play Infinity?

Beautiful Miniatures. Isn't this what we all want out of a toy soldier game really, something that looks really pretty? The vast majority of the current sculpts are gorgeous and dynamic, they are well proportioned and there is a good mix of ethnicities and genders. The models are excellently cast with crisp detail and little flash, although some models benefit from being pinned due to small areas of surface contact between parts. Many of the older sculpts, some of which are... err...  less than perfect (*cough* McMurrough *cough*), have been discontinued and replaced with resculpts or are due to be shortly.

Old McMurrough Vs. New McMurrough - what were they thinking?

The rules make sense and allow for cinematic actions. If you run out in front of a sniper, you'll get shot, if you end up out of cover you'll get shot, if you run at someone with a knife... you'll probably get shot a lot. That seems pretty fair when facing down lots of highly trained guys (and gals) with modern weaponry. The game feels fast and dangerous and cover is just as important as you’d imagine it should be.

However, there are a wide range of strategies that you can employ beyond just standing and shooting. You can block lines-of-sight with smoke grenades, place mines to lock down areas of the battlefield or use buildings to flank your opponents for example. You also have the opportunity to withhold information from your opponent via Total Recall style hologram projectors, camouflaged troops and hidden or airborne deployment. This allows for some very cool scenarios and 'gotcha' moments.

Aleph Myrmidon Officer

The rules are free and always will be. Everything you need to play the game is available online, directly from the company’s website; this includes army lists, rules and scenarios. The game is currently on the Second Edition, with a Third Edition due to be coming out later this year which will incorporate various rules fixes and FAQs. There is also an online Wiki that is kept up to date with FAQs and errata and is fully searchable. The only thing that isn't freely available is the fluff and the pretty pictures - for those you'll have to buy the actual rulebook and it's the only reason that many people (including myself) do so!

The other benefit is that, if you have a smartphone or tablet, you can carry around the rules and FAQs with you. Pretty handy.

The game is well balanced. The army lists are well balanced internally and it is rare for any particular model to be an outright bad choice. There are certainly some that are more specialised or are more unusual choices but everything has a role. The balance between factions is also excellent and none are dominant in my experience. Because of this, games are won on the battlefield and not during list building.

Models can take multiple actions in one turn. Each model generates one order at the start of the turn (with some caveats - but that's for another time) and these orders can be spent on whoever you like and in any order. You could spend them all on one particular model if so needed - this is colloquially called "Rambo'ing" - or you can spread them out amongst a number of figures. Each order allows you to move and shoot, move and perform another action (open a door, attack in melee, get a target lock for a guided missile etc.) or double move. This system means that you have real choice in how to accomplish your goals.

Sophotect - Aleph doctor and engineer with Yudbot helper.

Everyone has 'overwatch' all the time. Every time you spend an order on a model, every opposing  model that can see it will have a change to react with an ARO (Automatic Reaction Order) - generally by dodging away to avoid being shot or attempting by attempting to increase the bullet to person ratio of your active dude! Cover is vitally important and you have to pick and choose your fights carefully. You'll never be bored during your opponent's turn as you get to react to whatever they do. There is however a substantial bonus to being the active model as you get to roll more dice when attacking but that doesn't guarantee success.

The vast majority of games are objective based. You'll be focusing on pushing buttons, recovering documents, hacking data consoles, blowing up crates and securing sections of the battlefield as much as you will be on wrecking your opponent's combat groups. There is currently only one purely combat based mission and even that has a couple of randomly generated objectives added in to spice things up.

TAGs. This stands for Tactical Armoured Gear. 'Nuff said.

Scarface - converted Mercenary TAG. For reference, that's a 60mm base.

The downsides of Infinity

It wouldn't be fair to give a review of the game without noting some of the downsides too, no miniature game is perfect and Infinity isn't for everyone.

Translated Rules. The rulebook was initially translated from Spanish to English and unfortunately this shows in places. The wiki goes a long way to making up for this with its FAQs and 3rd edition should solve a lot of long standing queries. Even so, some things will need to be agreed within your gaming group for the time being.

Cordelia - Mercenary Engineer

Lots of Scenery. Despite being played on a 4'x4' board, Infinity requires a disproportionate amount of scenery and this might make it difficult for some people to put a good board together. However this can overcome with a bit of ingenuity and a few cans of spray paint. There is also a lot of excellent value MDF scenery on the market right now.

Complex models. Some of the models I feel are designed for people who already have modelling experience, a thumb drill, good pair of clippers, green stuff and a steady hand have been essential tools for me when assembling figures such as the Garuda. Seriously, these things come in 7 small parts and I'm pretty sure it is the work of the devil - mine have got a good five or six steel pins in them each.

Garuda - Aleph drop troop. More paperclip than miniature.

So what do I need to get started?

The best way to get started is with a friend and a starter box each. Starter boxes retail for around £30 and include 6 models for a particular faction or sectorial. A sectorial is a themed sub-list that restricts unit availability in return for being able to form coordinated fire teams. Each box generally includes a handful of Light Infantry and a couple of elite troops such as Heavy Infantry or Skirmishers. The starter boxes aren't necessarily balanced against each other, but all the models will be useful in the long term and will leave you plenty to get to grips with.

Secondly, you'll want some rules. The Quick Start rules are freely available online and include everything you need to get started. Once you are ready to progress, the full rule set is available from the same place.

Lastly, you'll need scenery - lots of it. Infinity depicts a fairly realistic portrayal of a gunfight and people out in the open are liable to attract bullets like bread attracts ducks. Ideally you'd want a good mix of scatter terrain and big line-of-sight blocking buildings or crates. Here's an example table from a recent game and I'll ramble on about the finer points of terrain set up (sounds thrilling, eh?) in a future post:

A recently used gaming table - mostly AT43 scenery.

Helpful Resources

Infinity the Game website
Quick Start rules - Direct Download
Army 4.0 - Online army builder
Aleph Toolbox - Online army builder with Android support
The Wargaming Trader - Online UK-based distributor and tournament organiser.

I hope you've found this useful, or at least interesting. If you have any questions
 or end up picking up a starter box then please leave a comment for me. :)

Oldhammer folks - let me know if you'd like to see more Infinity stuff on the News Feeds - if not then I'll ask for it to be filtered out in the future.

1 comment:

  1. By all means, go ahead and post Inifinity stuff. I'm not very interested in the game itself, but it's nice seeing pictures of painted stuff all the same. And that gaming table is inspirational no matter what system you're playing on it!