March 22, 2011 by beerogre
As gamers we’re always on the prowl for the next big thing in wargaming. As creatures of habit, we are sometimes locked in the inertia with what we are familiar and comfortable. Ever so often a game pops up, the models are gorgeous, the setting is unique, but the rules seem intimidating or at such a deviation from what we’re used to, that we unfortunately shy away from or dismiss the game, ignorant to the rewarding experience that we passed on.
I’ve demoed Infinity now for almost 4 years, and two common responses always pop up during demos or from explaining the rules, “This game is broken, because you can keep giving orders to the same troop and then models activate out of turn.” When viewed in the context of other games, yes, this would be a broken format. But Infinity is not like other systems and many gamers have embraced these features as evolved and improved wargaming. In large part because the game has been designed to afford this continuous and engaging format and what most inevitably discover, “this is a seriously balanced game”.
New players however, suffer from things like “TAG shock”, “Rambo units”, and “death from behind” via drop troops. In order for players of Infinity to counter these tactics, players have to detach themselves from the comfort zones of other systems and play Infinity as the unique game that it is. Once these new disciplines are embraced, the game opens up and players have often expressed that it feels liberating, realistic, and intuitive.
“So what’s to stop me from giving all my orders to one model?”
Nothing, save for the size of your order pool. But experienced players quickly learn a new level of synergy amongst their troops, how to dig deep into all the skills and abilities available to most models in developing counter measures against the “Rambo” units. Primarily how to set up traps, ambushes, board control, etc.. Infinity is a game that you can easily jump into and enjoy, because it’s logical and intuitive. The game does take a while to master all the nuances and tactical options, which to most gamers is extremely rewarding as the game is not easily broken down and distilled to an efficient and exploitable nature. In Infinity, you’re not going to find those “Aha, gotcha” loop holes in the rules. It cannot be broken down like other games, because game play is not executed with impunity (i.e., I activate all my units, such that I dictate the course of my turn and can freely set up combos and destroy your units while they sit there and twiddle their thumbs). Game play is directed by both players at essentially the same time. If my opponent does “A”, I’ve got to do this, if my opponent does “B”, then I need to adjust and do that.
“Why do I keep hearing that Infinity is intuitive and logical?”
In part, because the game is very literal and there is a high resolution of action, with less abstraction than most other tabletop games. Models interact with terrain and one another quite literally. The actions and timing in the game, the movement and weapon ranges and affects are more to scale than most other 28mm sized games. There are up to 37 different general skills that most models have access to and so the game requires a bit more description of what you’re doing. Because of this, this means the game is very easy to visualize and lends to a very cinematic and dramatic experience and thus also being more intuitive and logical. Intuition and logic also stem from how both new and veteran gamers can navigate the rules. If ever there is a rules question, or you’re hung up on how best to proceed with your actions/activations, simply ask yourself, ‘If I were on this battlefield, if I were in this situation, what would I do? How would I proceed, or how would events unfold?” Then apply that answer to the game and in most cases it resolves the rule or sequence in question. It also creates a more immersible and memorable game.
Example: Imagine you’re part of SWAT team navigating through alleyways and all of a sudden a sniper shot takes out one of your team. What do you do? Do you and your team start charging forwarding guns blazing, wildly shooting in the direction of the sniper? No. You’d probably all duck for cover and call in a specialist to deal with this. You’d send in your own sniper and wait for him to position himself. Or wait for a member of your team to cautiously find his way up to the sniper and stab him in the back or even have a demolitions team take out the building. This is how to visualize the order pool, tactics and series of events in Infinity.
In the same vein, SWAT and Special Forces teams don’t show up to a location, point at their top guy and say, “Ok, go get ‘em Carl!” Sure, Carl may be a total bad ass and take a few baddies out, but eventually he’s going to get gunned down and wish his friends were behind him to cover him. Or more likely, he just gets shot in the back in his impetuousness.
Infinity is a game that will force you to alter your approach to tabletop wargaming. It will demand a little more discipline than normal, but in the end it is a highly engaging, rewarding and focused system that sees you spending much more time enjoying the game, rather than arguing with opponents over rules or the system.
This Article was written by Guillermo Hernandez, also known in the Infinity community as “Magno”, a very friendly player form the USA.