First reaction to Infinity

Infinity has always vexed me. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the gameplay but the models are unreal gorgeous. Look at these Aragoto Senkenbutais.

akira

Akira anyone?

akiraactual

Also, check out these Kameel Remotes.

hachikomo

Look familiar? Maybe this image of a Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell will jog your memory.

realtachi

Infinity is full of sweet nostalgia bombs like the ones shown above and the quality of the sculpts is outrageous, especially for being so small (average trooper is 28mm as compared to Warmachine’s 30mm small base).

But is the game actually fun? Well, rather than rely on the opinions of others I tried out the game myself (at 120 points). I will briefly talk about my experience and give my first impression of the game.

NOTE: This is not a post about “How to play Infinity”, for that you can download and read the rules here. They are free!

In my 120pt demo I was given seven models that looked like a mix between Halo’s Master Chief and the Gorillas from Planet of the Apes. I wasn’t kidding about the nostalgia bombs. These Gorilla-people (Morats) were from the faction called the Combined Army and were facing off against a handful of monks and gun wielding-ninja from a faction called Yu Jing, or as he dubbed “Space-Asia”.

Right away, the game is an aesthetically pleasing experience. In addition to the sweet models the full terrain table is just as cool. IMG_0223

I come from a Warmachine and X-Wing background of wargaming where terrain is typically six pieces of flat terrain. Flat terrain certainly has its benefits over 3D terrain but it doesn’t compete when it comes to visual experience. With all these alleys, ladders and stairs to cross my brain was fully engaged. Here’s an image of one of my Morats getting shot to pieces by two Yu-Jing who took better advantage of cover than me.

 

IMG_0230So aesthetically, Infinity has it in spades. But are the rules also fun?

The short answer is no. The mechanics felt clunky at times and the measurements were less precise and more subjective than I like in a miniatures game. For example, line of sight relies on actual line of sight from the models. So each time I wanted to shoot someone I had to crouch down, stick my nose above the figure’s head to get its perspective, squint and point laser to verify. It’s not that big of a deal for casual-play but if I was playing in an all-day tournament my back might explode.

Another mechanic that didn’t add to the fun of the game was the simultaneous actions. Simultaneous actions are kind of the brand-identify of Infinity and I understand the intent is to simulate a real-life fire fight but as a game mechanic it’s not very intuitive. For example, if I want to shoot another model and then retreat back to cover, one would think I would move my model to the desired position, shoot, and then move behind cover. This is wrong. If I did this in actual game play it would be considered foolish because of something called an automatic reaction order (ARO). An ARO is a the non-active players reaction to the active players model and it can be announced, essentially, whenever one of the active player’s models makes a movement that is in the line of sight of the non-active player’s models. It helped me to think of an ARO like an instant spell in Magic the Gathering.

In order to prevent multiple ARO’s I was advised to not try and shoot the enemy models on my first activation but instead just move around and respond to my opponent’s ARO’s. If they shoot, shoot back. By holding my hand, my opponent helped me avoid a constant barrage of ARO’s on my turn. Unfortunately, there were other unintuitive stones for me to trip over.

Stupid armor rolls. All rolls in this game are based off of a model statistic and a d20. When trying to hit someone, dodge an attack or heal a buddy you are looking to roll a number lower than your skill. Simple enough. However, when breaking armor you are taking their armor stat (and modifiers) and trying to exceed that number with a d20. I can’t tell you how many times this one variance tripped me up. I still don’t understand why this needs to be different.

I’m sure with more frequency these rules will become muscle memory but I can safely say that these rules are not as fun as X-Wing or Warmachine. Are they clunky enough that I think Infinity is a bad game? No.

Don’t be fooled by my critiques on the mechanics. Even now I am thinking about how I want to build my Haqqislam army. My first impression of the rules may have been negative but I’m sure it will get better with more experience. Besides, the terrain and models are frankly too cool for me to not want more.

I hope you will consider trying Infinity rather than echoing what you’ve heard from others. I’m glad I did.

 

2 Responses

  1. TheDiceAbide says:

    While I understand your confusion about Armour rolls, you have to step back and think of it logically. To keep it with the equal to or under solution that the other attributes use, it would then mean lower damage weapons are actually more effective than higher, which is counter intuitive, as all other stats in the game get better the bigger the number is.

    Simultaneous actions do take a minute to get used to, but after a couple games, it all starts to make sense. It’s not like in real life the enemy firing at you waits for you to get in cover before pulling the trigger, likewise, in real life you wouldn’t walk forward, wait to get shot, then shoot back. Regarding the AROs, this is what makes Infinity great, and why it’s a far more skill based game than say… Warmachine. You have to make decisions that affect the game, through the entire game, you don’t get to spend half of the game with your wet-erase marker out just checking off boxes as your troops fall apart on the field, nor is the game decided by the first player who busts their über combo first, but instead it’s going to be won by the player that used the table to their advantage and used their models to the best of their individual capabilities.

    The biggest thing about Infinity is that you need to solve problems all the time. The enemy has a corridor locked down with some snipers, you don’t go walking down that road, instead you find a way to either cover your advance, things like smoke grenades, or you use some orders to get around to the side of your enemy position and take out some of their guys opening the corridor for other models to advance through safely. Walking out into a street filled with enemy snipers is just as foolish in this game as it would be in real life, some times the best answer is to just not go walking down that street.

    Not sure about the multiple ARO thing, nothing about shooting first or second is going to prevent an ARO from occurring, though when you do shoot, you are forcing your opponents hand into specific AROs (dodging or shooting back), which isn’t a bad thing when you know how to use it.

    I wish you the best of luck in your future Infinity endeavors. In 20 years of wargaming, I’ve found Infinity to be the most solid rule set, and the most rewarding game experience I’ve ever had… Much to the dismay of my massive Warhammer, Warmachine, and other miniature games collections. One resource you should absolutely check out is the wiki (wiki.infinitythegame.com), this game does not have rules arguments, none whatsoever, if you aren’t sure how a rule works, you can look it up in the wiki and it lays out exactly what it does, how to activate it, and how to cancel it… It’s really mind blowing.

  2. Steven Groom says:

    I came back to reread this article now that the league that I am in with the author is now coming to a close. It’s interesting to me how much I’ve learned about Infinity in the past ten weeks of league play. I played for a bit a year ago or so and sort of dropped out, but this time I think that with the recent updates to the rules I’m pretty happy with the game.

    For me, the ARO mechanic is one of the more interesting aspects of the game. Almost all miniature games follow an I-GO-YOU-GO format of some kind. Simultaneous actions are not very easy to adjudicate but Infinity does a very good job at managing that. It’s also probably the most detailed miniatures game I’ve ever played. From hacking your opponent’s guided missiles to impersonating a civilian to blowing holes in terrain to make your own passage ways there’s so much you can do in a game that lasts only three turns.

    The dice mechanics are a bit clunky to me, as well. I would have preferred that the dice be on some kind of a curve like they are in Warmachine and Hordes but the system they have in place for determining essentially *how* successful an action is works pretty well.

    The critical hit system is also a bit wonky to me, but with more games played I’ve dealt out a lot more Critical Hits so the times where that mechanic really hurt me in early games doesn’t feel as bad.

    All in all I would classify Infinity as their heir to Warhammer 40,000’s original Rogue Trader. Both games felt very much like Role Playing Games rather than miniatures games, both had intriguing and interesting backgrounds. The main difference is that Infinity fills a niche in miniatures games that no one else is really touching. You’ve got a great sci-fi setting with interesting rules, a developed background that players can understand and relate to and some really amazing looking models. On top of that, the terrain becomes part of the game in a way that other games don’t compare to.

    There are a LOT of times where measurement and line of sight are problematic. There is necessarily a LOT more give and take in Infinity (at least in our local group) than there is in other, more precise games like Warmachine/Hordes and X-Wing and that can take a lot of getting used to.

    To me, Infinity has become a hobby game where I look for a cool narrative to unfold rather than a competitive game where list crafting becomes its own mini-game of balancing against what you think you’ll see versus scenario.

    Infinity is the game that lets me fully engage in the hobby: collecting and painting models to play as well as collecting, building, and painting terrain to play games on. Infinity is so interesting because a lot of the shop talk is not just about your list, but about how many tables of terrain you have and what kind of terrain that really is.

    Thanks again for helping reinvigorate my interest in Infinity!

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