Friday, 10 May 2013

Back to Infinity

I have a weird relationship with Infinity. I think it is an awesome game, with great models and innovative, elegant game design concepts, that has been wrecked by a ridiculous amount of special rules, skills, abilities, and weapons. 

It is a points-based competitive game where "lists" were secondary to player skill and tactics. "It's not your list - it's you," was the famous Infinity catchphrase.

However the game has succumbed to rules creep (aka "Malifaux syndrome") so victory can often go to he who remembers the most rules.  Base Infinity had 54 special skills, Human Sphere increased that to 76 and Paradiso upped the special rules count to 83.  In addition, there are currently 61 unique weapons, there are a dozen unique ammo types and there are over 30 different pieces of equipment. Personally, I think 200+ special exceptions to rules is a bit much for a RPG, let alone a competitive wargame.

The new Infinity cry should be "It's not your list - it's your memory." An iPad linked to the rules wiki is pretty much mandatory for play.

Anyway, for a while I have been determined to get back to the basics. So I dragged out two simple forces - a Ariadnan force (me) made up of 4 Kazak riflemen and a Scout sniper, against Yu Jing squad of 4 Celestial Guard riflemen and a sniper (wife).

Turn #1.  I deployed first and took the first turn. I advanced my scout sniper to the central buildings and my rifleman in pairs up the right side where cover was thickest.

My scout sniper was taken out from a rifleman firing from under the pipe.  I positioned him poorly (not in cover) but I was "surprised" by the long effective range of the humble combi rifle.

Turn #2.  My wife moved her sniper to my far left, but as it had no LoS I kinda forgot about it - with unpleasant consequences to me later...  then moved her forces forward.  My scout sniper forced an ARO but was promptly gunned down burst of fire from a rifleman. I forgot how long optimal ranges are, even for relatively short ranged rifles.  0-1.

Do you see the sniper in the top central building building? I didn't. My guy died.

Turn #3. I tried to seize initiative back with a raid down the right flank.  Sadly my rifleman crossed the LoS of the wife's sniper, artfully hidden in a window on the opposite side of the board.  It fired between the oil drums and my rifleman dropped instantly.  0-2.

A bit shaken, but undeterred I pushed on through the far right building. I hosed two of her rifleman with automatic gunfire; both took half a dozen shots each and passed every armour roll.  I took this as a sign the dice gods were against me.  

The Kazak in the top building scored 9 hits.... without one causing a wound. Naturally, in the next turn he took two hits and failed both his armour rolls. 

Turn #4.  With my scout sniper disposed of, the wife was able to move her forces up the middle.  Thankfully she missed an opportunity to "blindside" me with a rear shot - but no matter.  Firing from cover she delivered two shots to my rifleman, who was punished for his earlier failure to pass an armour roll by promptly failing his own. 0-3.

Then one of her troops poked around a building to take on my last two troops sheltering at the corner of a building. My lead Kazak took two rifle rounds to the chest and dropped.  0-4.

With my luck thus far, I wasn't expecting to win (or even survive) my last opposed roll. 
I didn't.

Turn #5. My last remaining rifleman (also my Lieutenant) failed his nerve test. Typical. As an upside, my very competitive wife (who is such a sore loser she refuses to play PC FPS games against me for more than 10 minutes) now thinks Infinity is "awesome" and she wants to play more.  There's a silver lining in every cloud, I guess.

Thoughts:  Weapon ranges are stunningly long - something I forgot to my expense early in the game.  Mistakes are punished harshly, and lethality is high - for me anyway (my wife freakishly passed 9 consecutive armour rolls).  Without any special rules (I ignored the scout's "Camouflage" and "Infiltration" - which could have made a difference early on) the game flowed quickly and lasted only 30 minutes, which included pauses to check on baby.  Infinity at it's most basic is an elegant ruleset, with resource management (Orders), free "reactions", lots of move and action choices and high lethality making for interesting and tense decisions every time you (or your opponent) picks up a miniature. 

Infinity miniatures are a mongrel to paint - they are so fine, fiddly and delicate and you always have their impossibly talented studio painter Angel Giraldez to keep you feeling hopelessly inadequate and unworthy of even basecoating them....   ...but I am inspired nonetheless - currently prepping some chaingun-wielding werewolves to spice up my Ariadnan force....


  1. I hate games that depend on complex rules interactions. Life is just too short to memorise them all. Malifaux gave me severe headaches,

    1. It's the EXCEPTIONS to the rules that drives me nuts. Games currently are going through a trend where they have only a few stats; such as "Combat Quality" and "Morale" instead of the old BS WS S T W I A style stat lines -allegedly to "simplify" the game - but then have eighteen special rules for each unit to add variety.

      Malifaux I gave up on by book 2 when I realised EVERY SINGLE new miniature was going to have its own 2-3 unique rules....

      Honestly I think a decent stat line of 4-5 stats and 20-30 "special skills" (universal to ALL factions) are all that is needed for even weird and wonderful sci fi and fantasy games...