Another new face joins the Battles and Biscuits lineup! Zak’s a veteran wargamer who turns out beautiful armies and plays hard, but never at the expense of making sure he and his opponents have an awesome time. It’s also worth mentioning that gaming with Zak normally involves an epic lunch, and that places him solidly in our list of top ten gaming buddies ever. Recently, he’s been exploring new pastures – over to the man himself to explain further!
I have been playing Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 for a very long time now, and have thus far been reluctant to try out a new game, purely for the reason that I don’t have enough time to paint all the minis I currently have as it is – I could feed a family for years if plastic had any nutritional value. However, my good friend and long term gaming buddy Matt decided he liked the look of Infinity, a futuristic skirmish game fought using a handful of models across a scenery-heavy battleground. Over the past few months he has been reading the rules, painting minis and building scenery enthusiastically. He demonstrated this enthusiasm by talking to me about it, and then talking to me about it some more, and then raving to me about it, then raving about it some more. Such was his constant (persistent) enthusiasm for Infinity that I felt so caught up in his passion (brow-beaten) that I couldn’t wait for him to play a game with me (felt it was the only way to get him to shut up about it).
And so this weekend, I made the gruelling trek to Matt’s house beyond the borders of Nottingham and civilisation (to Weldon, Northamptonshire) where my introduction into Infinity was waiting. Even though, as I have stated, I haven’t been looking to start another game, I have been looking over the Infinity website, and have even ordered a couple of minis (although I have yet to paint them). I have overall been highly impressed with the quality of the models, which was encouraging, especially as this is where it starts for me. If you can’t provide me with decent figures to paint, good luck to you, but I’m out.
What really caught my attention though, on setting up, was the scenery Matt had produced, all designed for Infinity.
It’s always positive to see a game being well supported in this area, as you can’t beat a good scenery setup. Years of gaming over hills made of video tapes (what us grown ups used before DVD, kids) really emphasises this point. The scenery Matt uses is a mixture of downloaded imagery he’s printed and used to make card buildings, and mdf lasercut pieces made specially for the game. I was instantly transported to the setting of a futuristic neo-cityscape.
Next, Matt went through the forces we would be using. I was using the Japanese Sectoral Army, taking on Matt’s Nomads.
He proceeded to explain some of the rules, then detailed the special equipment and weaponry, until after about 5 minutes the blank expression on my face made him realise it was best just to get on and play. (I have an uncanny inability to understand written rules until I actually have actually played the game… at which point it all seems to amazingly make sense).
With that in mind, here’s a turn by turn account of what happened during the game…
I had the first turn. My first action was to run one of my Keisotsu (my standard infantry) from behind one building to another. However, as I did so, he was shot by one of Matt’s Spektrs. Although he was hit, his armour (that’s armor, for our friends in the US) managed to take the impact. Unfortunately, I then failed a guts roll, causing me to move my Keisotsu further forward behind the building in a blind panic. The advantage of this was that it had revealed Matt’s Spektr, who was concealed by camouflage.
Another of my Keisotsu, the medic, took advantage of this, snapping three shots at the revealed Spektr. My confidence was soon shattered when I realised she needed to roll a 1 to hit (on a D20 no less, as all rolls in Infinity are made on D20s) due to range, cover, and camouflage. Worst still, the Spektr got to return fire, and hit my medic; most actions in Infinity can cause a reaction from your enemy. (There’s no politeness, or waiting until it’s their turn to fire a gun.) Yet again, her armour tempered the impact, and she was still in the game.
The previous Keisotsu had recovered from being shot at, and moved back to the edge of the building to take some pot shots at the Spektr. This was possible because you have a certain number of orders each turn, and can use those orders on the same warrior more than once. He missed his target spectacularly, despite firing off three rounds. The Spektr had clearly had enough of this, and fired a shot straight into my warriors guts. He fell to the ground, doing his best to scream for help.
My final action was to move and fire at the Spektr with my Domaru lieutenant, using a special chain shot, which makes use of a template. I missed by mere millimetres… once Matt realised and pointed out to me I have to measure from the centre of my base. Thanks for not letting me know beforehand, buddy.
Matt then took his first turn. He started by landing a Hellcat drop trooper onto the field of battle, who ran out in front of my Domaru. She let rip with her Heavy Machine Gun and my Domaru returned fire with his chain shot. They both fell to serious wounds, but I was hopeful for my lieutenant, as he had at least fallen near my medic.
Losing your lieutenant in Infinity is normally bad news; however, I had a Kempei with the Chain of Command special rule, which allowed him to instantly take leadership of my force.
Matt’s next order was to move his Lunokhod (an automated gun platform), accompanied by his Crazy Koalas (enemy-seeking grenades on legs). My medic had the opportunity to take a shot at it, but the shot went wide.
Finally, the Spektr realised she had line of sight to my medic. It wasn’t an easy shot, but she fired. To my dismay, Matt rolled exactly the number needed to hit. This causes a critical hit, which ignores any armour the target has. With my medic out of the game, I now couldn’t revive my other wounded soldiers. One turn down, and I’d already lost half my force. I was starting to worry that this game might not be as much fun as I had been led to believe.
Despite the horrendous casualties, I lifted my chin and vowed to make the most of the situation. However with fewer orders to issue I didn’t have much to do. My remaining Keisotsu popped his head out of cover, and managed to blow up one of the Crazy Koalas with a lucky shot before dropping back into hiding. I also moved my Kempei into a position out of sight of Matt’s forces – I’d very quickly learnt that this game punishes those who foolishly stay in plain sight.
Matt manoeuvred his troops into better positions, but had no opportunity to take on my well hidden warriors. He also moved his Lunokhod close to my position, confident that its gun array would swiftly deal with anyone foolish enough to run in front of it…
…and of course if there is one person foolish enough to run their troops in front of an armoured gun machine, it’s me! (Probably too much time spent playing with Space Marines.) My Kempei jumped out in front of the Lunokhod, finger clamped on the trigger of his Boarding Shotgun. After a serious amount of gunfire, the Kempei slowly opened his eyes to be greeted with the unexpected sight of the gun platform slumped on the ground with smoke pouring out of it. Even more unexpected was the fact he hadn’t taken a single hit. (He has since left his life of war, and is currently walking the Earth.) Maybe all had not been lost!
Of course it hadn’t been. I took the opportunity to reveal my super sneaky combat master, the Oniwaban. I had hidden him, using his Superior Infiltration, in Matt’s half of the board, taking a photo while Matt was looking away to prove where he was. He then ran across into cover, avoiding being shot by the Spektr (now controlling a bridge) thanks to his camo.
Matt ran his Spektr down the bridge, hoping to shoot my Oniwaban before I launched him into combat. A desperate gun battle ensued, but we both came out of it unscathed… which meant I was going to get the opportunity to charge the hapless Spektr.
Charge the Spektr I is just what I did. My Oniwaban was far superior in every way to his opponent in melee, needing a ridiculous 19 or less to hit. Better still, I rolled a 19, causing a critical hit. The Spektr was decapitated before she’d even had a chance draw her knife.
Moving my Oniwaban back into cover, I finished turn four by advancing my Kempei, with renewed confidence that this battle wasn’t over yet. This was good for me, and even better for Matt, as we had narrowly avoided one of my famous sulks.
All Matt now had left was his Intruder (who was also his Lieutenant) and a Crazy Koala. Surely I had this in the bag! Matt advanced his Intruder towards my LT, choosing not to waste any orders on the small robot; the purpose of these pint-sized explosives is to run at any nearby enemy troopers and explode on impact, and I was unlikely to let them get close enough for this to happen!
I spent all my orders charing my Kempei into combat with the Intruder, for a series of LT vs. LT combats. Despite 3 rounds of slashing at each other, neither of us took any damage; this was mainly due to the complete lack of any combat specialism on either side.
Matt decided to continue the combat with his orders, and managed to get a lucky strike (don’t smoke kids, it’s stupid!) and finally took down my Kempei. Game over man. Game over.
So what did I think of Infinity? (Matt, this is nothing compared to how much I’ve had to listen to you harp on about the game, so you’d better be reading all of this).
I really enjoyed the game.
Now I must point out first of all, especially for anyone reading this who already plays the game, that we didn’t play it exactly by the book. That was fine by me. Matt made sure the focus was on helping me find out how the basics of the game works, and making sure the mechanics would ensure we both had fun playing.
We did play a second game, for which we swapped forces, and changed some of the minis. I found this to be just as much fun, and managed to just snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The highlight of this second game was Matt’s lieutenant being forced to keep advancing towards me after winning a combat, due to the Impetuous rule, and getting shot in the face in an attempt to charge my medic. The image of his leader getting his blood up and running headlong into my firing line, while his troops stood n dumbstruck amazement wondering what the hell he was doing, put a big smile on my face.
So what did I like about it?
I’ll start with the miniatures. The sculpts are superb; highly detailed, with a good balance between realistic poses and emphasised features (you know what I mean lads). I am really looking forward to painting my first model, a Haqqislam Al Hawwa female sniper.
Next, Matt’s whole set up of the game, the scenery and the minis, really captured my imagination, and ensured I was lost in the world of Infinity for a good hour. [I’ve got to agree – there can be no better way of trying out a new game that on a stunning scenery-filled board and two beautifully painted forces! – James]
The rules are worth a mention, too.
The action / reaction mechanic gives you the feeling of playing a live action game. When your models fire at their enemies, they shoot back at the same time, just like they would in real life, and charging people in the open will tend to get you a bullet between the eyes. Being able to choose who you give your orders to gives you a lot of freedom, but you still have to be careful; rushing one model ahead without any backup is probably going to result in the needless loss of said warrior.
Using D20s works. You have a target number, and you either have to roll equal to or below, or equal to and above that number. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I like to keep things simple.
That isn’t to say that this is a simple game. I can see how you would need to develop some very sound tactics, both in planning your force and using it in the game. What I really like is how you can use a few minis in the game, still feel like each one has a unique battlefield role.
There is a great feeling of balance (but not in a karma kind of way). Despite how the game started, all was not lost for me, and I almost turned it around with no previous experience in the game! I’ve always felt this is one of the biggest challenges facing anyone who writes a set of rules with this much complexity. It is common for my bottom lip to stick out in the middle of a game; this will never be because I’m losing (I’m more than used to that by now), but is caused by one sided games where I’m getting battered, and there’s nothing I can do about. If this first game is an indication of what I can expect from future games, I am more than happy to continue.
That pretty much sums up my thoughts on my first game of Infinity. “What,” I hear you cry, “no concerns with the game?” Well no, not yet, but you have to understand that I always start out as on optimist with something new. I will keep you updated as to my progress with Infinity as a new addition to my hobby (I have since ordered the rulebook and a Haqqislam starter pack), and I might yet find some things to moan about.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article – I’ll be following it up with a stage-by-stage walkthrough of how I paint my first model, once I get around to it.
Keep rolling… er, 20s?
Well, I reckon that’s an awesome first article! Zak’s also put together a selection of close-up photos of Matt’s Infinity collection, which I’ll be putting up over the next couple of days. If you’ve played Infinity and have a few thoughts of your own, or if you just want to say something about that awesome scenery, drop a comment below!