Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Taking the Leap From 40k to Infinity!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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"Commissar Skullen sir, that Oniwaban is getting awfully close!" 
"I can see that trooper, but it is his turn now so stiff upper lip."

This article has been rattling around in my brain for quite a while, but today I finally sat down and let it pour out into the digital realm.

I think that most people who follow this blog are probably playing all kinds of miniature games and GW games, like Warhammer 40,000, is either not their main interest or just a distant memory. This article isn't for you. Neither is it for 40k die-hards who will be pushing those Rhinos around decades from now. This article is aimed at those of you who play 40k (or insert-other-GW-game) but have been looking at other games, wondering if you dare take the leap.  Specifically I'm going to talk about Infinity as it has got a great influx of new players through Beasts of War's Infinity Week. I don't mean to belittle 40k or its players, you should do what you enjoy say I, but I will try to explain the main ways in which Infinity differs from 40k as well as put some misconceptions about the game to rest.

I'm not going to go into nitty-gritty details so Infinity players who are reading this may think that I'm oversimplifying a few things, but I want to keep it quick, to the point and discuss concepts rather than specific rules. Those who are actually interested enough after reading this can easily pick up the quickstart rules (or the full rules for that matter!) for free and read the details for themselves.

So what are the big differences?

0. Skirmish! (pretty obvious but worth mentioning anyway)

In 40k you field, increasingly large, armies against each other with model count numbering from a few dozen to over a hundred. In Infinity your "army" is usually between 10 and 20 models with 14-15 probably being the median.

In a nutshell open warfare is very uncommon in the world of Infinity, instead we play small skirmishes between coflicting special ops teams. The closest analogy in the GW-verse would probably a team of Necromunda Spyrers - low model count but with most models having several different special rules. When it comes to gameplay having much fewer miniatures means that they can all be a lot more detailed (rules-wise) and that adding a single model may change the way your army plays drastically depending on its abilities. If I for example decide to field that thermo-optically camouflaged, infiltrating Ninja instead of my impetuous, Spitfire toting transformer this will effect my battle plan to a large degree.

1. Order Pool!
In 40k each of your units get to do one action (move and shoot, charge etc). In Infinity you get one action, or Orders as they are called, for each of your miniatures (units) as well, the difference is that you are free to use these Orders however you want. You could use one order for each miniature (which you often end up doing during your first couple of games just because you're used to it) but you could just as well use every order on a single miniature, activating it again and again.

"Wow, that sounds totally overpowered! What if I could do that with my termies" I hear you say. Well, "Ramboing" as it's often referred to is perfectly possible and is sometimes a viable tactic. But many times a single miniature advancing on his own without covering fire will simply end up dead, no matter how tough it is (more on that below). However the main impact this mechanic has on the game is that it becomes a lot more dynamic as you are able to focus your resources where they are actually needed. It also creates these little mini-narratives within each game that you rarely get from a pure IGOUGO game like 40k or (old) Necromunda. I remember one game where my PanO opponent had me pinned down by two Fusiliers using Suppression Fire but my camouflaged Guilang could sneak past the enemy firing lanes and pop up behind them, easily killing both - all in a single turn (but requiring several orders).

2. Actions and Reactions! 
In 40k the turns are purely IGOUGO and during your opponents turn you can pretty much go for a coffee break. Infinity does not use an inegrated turn sequence but it's not pure IGOUGO either, it uses something called Active Turns and Reactive Turns.

When it is my Active turn it is my opponents Reactive turn and vice-versa. So I recieve my order pool and I use it to activate all or some of my miniatures, but more often than not my opponent will be able to react to my actions by way of the Automatic Reaction Order (ARO). Basically if she can see the action I'm taking with my miniature or if it's close enough to one of her miniatures she gets to make an ARO. An ARO could be a number of different things, but the most common is Shoot, Dodge (move) or Discover (to try and find a camouflaged enemy).

"What?! Whenever I move my guys everyone who sees them will shoot at them? That sounds totally lame!" I hear you say. However, consider the flipside to that coin; I have my Imperial Guard fire support squad covering a street, ready to put a lot of light downrange. Suddenly a lone Termagant scampers across the street, followed by a couple more... and then an entire brood! You're just itching to pull that trigger but since it's not your turn you have to sit there and watch as the entire brood makes it safely to the other side. That would never happen in Infinity. Your miniatures will actually be able to react to what's going on around them, although at a slightly reduced capacity (only one shot instead of an entire Burst etc) . That is it in a nutshell but remember that Infinity uses a lot more cover in general and a lot more full blocking cover in particular. But yes, you will have to be very careful and use your abilities to your advantage when advancing in Infinity. Smoke grenades (and ways to see through smoke) are highly priced for their utility!

Two Nomad Geckos. The smallest Tactical Armoured Gear (TAG) so far, but my absolute favorite!
3. Way of the Gun! 
In 40k lasguns are considered flashlights and even the mighty boltgun will fail to kill an unarmed human a third of the time, and when you start bringing armour and high toughness into the mix you can pretty much forget your low level basic weapons. In Infinity even a bog standard rifle that the most basic grunts carry gets to make three attacks and each shot has a roughly 60% chance doing damage.

So, getting shot is a really, really bad thing. Even heavy infantry with heavier armour and multiple wounds can easily be put out of action by a regular line soldier if used without care (it happened to my Su-Jian just the other day!). Hugging cover, which makes you harder to hit and gives a bonus to armour, minimizing the amount of ARO opportunities for your opponent and actually having your miniatures cover each other (like in the real world!) is imperative for playing Infinity succesfully. My Su-Jian would probably be alive today if he'd had someone cover his back, but instead I rushed him forward (Ramboing!) which did allow him to gun down my opponent's Spektr but left him open to attack from a simple Alguacile with a combirifle. Lesson learned. It's also worth mentioning that close combat plays a much smaller role than shooting in this game. While Infinity has its fair share of close combat monsters it's still risky and simply the act of getting a miniature into base to base contact requires clever tactics or a lot of luck. Generally you should be aware of the possibilites and opportunities of close combat, but not rely on it.

4. Face to Face rolls!
In 40k you roll your dice unopposed. In Infinity you often roll so called Face to Face rolls.

Basically, if I fire at your miniature and you use your ARO to fire back, dodge or do anything else that might affect wheather I'm succesfull or not we roll against each other and the one who rolls highest wins, cancelling the opponent's roll(s). Usually the Active player will have the advantage as she gets to fire the entire Burst of her weapon while the ARO'ing opponent only gets to fire one shot (or roll once for dodge) but of course the modifiers applied and the different stats of our miniatures and weapons used play a large role as well. This mechanic combined with the ARO mechanic puts a certain amount of risk into most actions during your Active turn and you carefully need to consider how to minimize this risk. It also rewards you for managing to flank your opponent as she then won't be able to ARO if attacked from behind.

A Highlander Cateran taking aim. Camouflage is one of Ariadnas greatest strengths.
5. Camouflage! 
In 40k camouflage doesn't really exist. In Infinity camouflage often plays a large role during the game as it means you can potentially avoid your opponents ARO's and make surprise attacks on unaware opponents.

As has been demonstrated above Infinity is a fairly lethal game so having the ability to simply remain unseen is a great advantage and you need to use it to its fullest extent. It's also somewhat of a minigame since you replace your camouflaged miniatures with a camouflage markers, forcing your opponent to guess what kind of miniatures you're really fielding. He won't actually know until one of his models has line of sight and succeeds on a Discover test. Camo was one of the features of Infinity that really drew me to the game as the idea of having hidden models really appealed to me. I could probably have squeezed this into the "God is in the Details" category below but felt that it plays a big enough part to warrant its own category.

6. It's not about what you bring, it's how you use it!
In 40k a game can almost be decided at the army construction stage, or at least army construction plus deployment. In Infinity there are few genuinely bad troop choices and if you play to the strengths of your units you have as good a chance of winning as anybody else.

This has become somewhat of a mantra for Infinity players as more and more newbies pop up on the forums asking for list building advice. While you can certainly build lists that work better or worse than others it's hard to make something totally unworkable. This game rewards good tactics and smart maneuvers more than what you actually choose to put on the table. That is not to say that list building isn't fun, on the contrary. I've spent many hours tinkering with my Yu Jing, considering different options and how this miniature would interact with and support that miniature. But it's never about finding that perfect cookie cutter force, but rather about considering what kind of gamplay you're looking for in your next match; an all camo army? A lot of heavy infantry? A TAG based force? Drop troops? A charging wave of suicidal, brain washed political prisoners? Anything goes!

The Maghariba Guard - Haqqislamite TAG.

7. Rules, Wiki and Army Construction Program, for Free!
In 40k there is no such thing as a free lunch and (legal) PDF's of rules and armybooks are simply non-existant. The rules for Infinity can be downloaded completely free, there is an amazing army builder program available both online and as a desktop client (and soon for iOS and Android) for free and there is a extremely useful rules wiki on the main site... for free.

This is not really a feature of the rules system, but it's such a great thing that I would be stupid not to list it. First off all the rules and expansions are available on the downloads page. On the main page you can also find the Infinity Army which is a great working and great looking army builder that easily lets you put together a fighting force. Corvus Belli have also gone through the trouble of putting together an Infinity Wiki which contains all rules with additional notes from the FAQ and forums. While the free PDF rulebook is really cool I actually think the combination of the Infinity Army and its integrations with the Wiki is the greatest tool for quickly getting to grips with Infinity. Well, first I suggest you read through the quickstart rules to get the basics, but then head into Infinity Army and start clicking around! Whenever you click on an ability you will be taken to the Wiki where it is explained in full and as you muck around you learn more and more about the system. There's also a great fan made wiki called Human Sphere that has collected all the different models with their respective stats, dossiers and background. The names can be tricky when starting out and Human Sphere is a great way to help keep track of what's what.

8. Excellent Community!
The community found on the official forums is ever helpful and always welcoming to new players. This is really important when starting a new game, and even more so when the rules are very different from what you're used to. There are a host of patient veterans there who are willing to answer all kinds of questions as well as give advice. While it happens that feelings run high at occasion, it's nothing like the flame wars and vitriol you can see on some other game forums.

9. God is in the Details!
Above are what I consider the core elements that makes playing Infinity into such a different experience, but there are many (many!) smaller things as well. Some of my favourites are hacking (completely immobilizing your opponents big expensive TAG is priceless. Not to mention taking control of it and mowing down her own troops with it!), grenades that you can actually throw and blow people up with and the fact that weapon ranges are generally long but modifiers greatly diversify the different guns. Oh, and CrazyKoalas!

10. Did I mention that the models are absolutely stunning?!
Just look around in the miniatures section!

That's about it I think. I'm sure there are things I've forgotten or overlooked but just let me know in the comments and I'll be able to add to this article. Hopefully it has provided some improved insight into the world of Infinity and made you a little bit more curios about the system. I suggest grabbing the quick start rules and simply try it out with a few proxy miniatures (I'm sure you have one or two lying around. Hehe!). So far the people I know who have tried it, even jaded anti-miniature games people, have enjoyed it a lot and I suspect you would too...

26 kommentarer :

  1. Really nice write up as normal. :)

    Nothing more I can add really. Love the game.

  2. Thanks, glad you like it.

    Almost surprised to see you over here. You seem awfully busy back home! That's two solid thought-provoking posts in a row. :)

  3. oh the models had me sold months ago, just tying up my DE army then I'm having me an Aleph and a Japanese army group. the rules give me the chills with how much tactics plays a part over dum luck and minmax spam, It's the game I have always wanted.

    I love my DE models and fluff though so it's a project I aim to finish, as I will be pelted with nothing but imperial and matt ward books for the forseable it means my money will be going to Corvus Belli instead.

    Unless of course FW drops a slave-barge any time soon , even then starting up infinity is ridiculously affordable and getting a painted force together is comparatively painless.

    I will miss vehicles though

  4. @Sorrowshard I need to run you an intro game of Infinity. Drop me a line and I'll get it sorted ASAP, I have both JSA and Aleph so pick your poison.

  5. @Sorrowshard Excellent news! "It's the game I always wanted" pretty much sums up my feelings towards Infinity. Really looking forward to see what you can do with the minis considering the beautiful work you've done on your Dark Eldar.

    @FG By the way... I don't think I've seen your Infinity minis. Are there pictures buried in the forums somewhere? :D

  6. @Martin, many are still WIP I'm hoping to finish some Aleph off ASAP!!! I've seen Matts DE in the flesh (we live really close together) and I can confirm they're beautiful.

  7. It sounds like a good game, and the minis look awesome, I have been fighting temptation for a while now, love the sleek scifi look.

  8. Nice post. One thing I really like about Infinity is that even at 300 points, you can get at least 2 games played in one night of gaming. and the ease of making lists, means you can run different lists in each game.

    What had me sold those was AROs and the order system.

  9. @OSH Yes, it's both worth mentioning the (usually) quick play time and how relatively inexpensive it is to get into the game. And list making is a real joy!

    ARO's and Orders are really the two central pillars. Would love to see those kind of mechanics in more games.

  10. I'm pretty much sold on Infinity at this small part in thanks to knuckleheads like Frontline and 'shard, who are terrible influences....
    It'll be a couple of months until I can truly invest the money and time on it that it deserves, but in the meantime I'm devouring articles like this and reading the rules.
    And yeah...drooling over the models, too....damn their sexy....

  11. actually, 'they're' sexy....not 'their.'
    sorry...never mind...nothing to see here...just Sin being really anal 'bout a misused word...

  12. @SinSynn You're always at your best when you're anal! Glad to hear it. Any thoughts on faction?

  13. I'm definitely intrigued by this write up. One thing that holds me back is: is it hard to find opponents? Also, being a company out of Spain, how are the english translations of the rules? Relatively easy to digest?

  14. Glad it piqued your interest!

    It's hard gauging the player base but Infinity is definitely going through a big growth phase at the moment. I think it started with Beasts of War's Infinity week and the "relaunch" of the game and it seems to me like it has opened the eyes of a lot of people. Lately I've seen quite a number of 40k dedicated blogs start turning into Infinity blogs.

    You can always have a look at the player finder thread on the forums as a start. However the game is cheap enough to get into that it's usually easy to get three or four gaming friends to take the leap with you. A starter box and one or two more blisters for added variety and you're good to go!

    In my experience the rules are fine as written. There might be one or two places in there where you have to read a section twice to get the intent, but it's trivial. And you can just check the wiki that is always up do date and includes any eventual FAQ.

    With the Infinity Wiki and Infinity Army tools online I never actually use the physical rulebook for reading the rules, just for fluff. If you have a smartphone (or a pad or a laptop) it's simply so much easier and quicker to look up rules queries in the Wiki during play. Speeds up things enormously I must say!

    I really hope you will give Infinity a chance. For no other reason than simply seeing what the combination of your excellent painting skills and the beautiful miniatures will produce! ;-)

  15. Couple of questions:

    - what do you (personally) use for terrain when you play?

    - a nearby online retailer has the newer starter kits in stock. are those a decent choice for a newbie, or too advanced? For example Shasvasti Expeditionary Force.

  16. Well, so far we're using a mix of paper terrain, old 40K and AT-43 stuff but we're preparing to put together some dedicated Infinity terrain. My next purchase will be a bunch of boxes and k-rails from Antenociti that can be used as scatter terrain. You do need a lot more terrain than 40k though, especially full blocking terrain. The traditional swiss cheese ruins of 40k/Necromunda will most likely make for a rather short game.

    With newer starter kits I guess you're refering to the "Sectorial Armies"? They are different from their respective main forces in that they have a lot more limited choice of models but on the other hand some of their specialised troops that are very rare in the main force might have an Availability of 2 or 3 instead. Sectorial Armies also get to use Link Teams (squads basically) but you're probably better off learning the game without them at first.

    However I say go with the models you like! Since you can use the models in a main army force as well it shouldn't be much of a problem. For example, if you'd get the Shasvaasti box and then wanted to play regular Combined Army the only model you wouldn't be able to use would be one of the Seed Soldiers since they only have Availability 2 outside of the Sectorial.

    Some people think the Shasvaasti aren't very newbie friendly since they're a sneaky army but fragile force that you need to use with care, but in my mind liking the models always comes first. With the recent release of the Sphinx I've realized that it will be my next army of choice. Hehe!

  17. Heya Martin, it's Mik. I think we're about to jump into the Infinity pool with both feet, I just linked your informative article to the group. Any other things to know? As usual, rock on...

  18. This is great news Mik! I always get excited when new people decide to try out Infinity. So far everyone I know who have tried it really enjoys it. :)

    I've got this short intro guide saved which hopefully answers some (perhaps unasked) questions:

    While the printed rulebooks are very nice to look at and the background setting is way cool the actual rules section is not very well organised and the wording has suffered slightly in translation. Of course you can read them and play the game, but I think an easier way would be to start with the quick-start rules to get the basics down (all can be downloaded here) and then either check out the fan re-edited rulebook that is much more clear and/or use the Infinity Wiki which is an amazing resource! Have a look at its new player advice page. Coupled with the Infinity Army force contruction software you've got all you need at the tip of your fingers. There are also a bunch of short instruction videos on youtube explaining some of Infinity's core concepts.

    Minis and special rules
    There are a lot of similar looking (to the untrained eye) miniatures in Infinity and many of them have weird, difficult to pronounce names. They all have specific icons but these two often look the same in the beginning. The way I familiarised myself with my Yu Jing was by having Infinity Army in one tab and the Infinity miniature page on the other, cross-referencing miniautures. After a while it all falls into place. When it comes to special skills and equipment Infinity Army and the Infinity Wiki are again invaluable resources. If you click on a skill in Infinity Army you will be taken to the relevant page in the wiki and soon you've learned the most common skills and equipment options.

    What to buy
    Infinity is a game where the starter boxes actually are really great investment! Generally you get three light infantry (needed for order generation and for providing backup fire and cover), one heavy infantry (big and tough and generally the spearhead of the force), one skirmisher (a mini with camo is common), and one "other" (depending on faction but usually something characteristic, like the Domaru for Yu Jing). This is an excellent base force to start gaming with. If you want a little bit more to play around with one or two blisters can add a lot. Getting some heavy weapons is never wrong, and the king of them all is the Heavy Machine Gun! Most of all I think you should get the models you like the look of though. List building is not near as important as how you actually use your troops on the battlefield. There are very few bad choices!

    As you might know there are the regular, vanilla, starter boxes and then the specialised sectorial army starter boxes. Generally playing the vanilla version of your chosen faction is easier in the beginning as it allows you to take any model you want and creating balanced forces isn't a problem. The sectorials are usually much more specialised and many times are stronger when used in a certain way. If you're up for it there's nothing wrong with starting with a sectorial army, but I recommend going vanilla first.

    (Continued below)

  19. How to start
    Just to learn the rules I recommend getting a two or three light infantry and one heavy infantry each and simply have at it. While the rules are fairly straight forward once you've grasped the basic mechanics they are quite different from most other miniature games. The ARO mechanic in particular, and how it can be triggered often requires some practice. Hold off on using camouflage, drop troops, hacking and heavy weapons until you've got the basic rules down then gradually add the stuff you think seems like fun! Camo is one of my favourite aspects of Infinity so I'd have that high on the list. :)

    You need lots of it and most of it should be fully blocking terrain! No Swiss cheese buildings please. This is something many new Infinity gamers struggle with as games like 40k requires very little terrain. Basically there shouldn't be more than 6 inches between terrain pieces and you shouldn't be able to see your opponents deployment zone from your own. Tall buildings can also have a big impact on gameplay so be mindful where you place any.

    Hopefully this will be helpful as you enter the wonderful world of Infinity! It's a great game that always provide me with thrills and cinematic action. Just let me know if you have any other questions, and please remember that the people at the official forums are generally a very nice helpful bunch! Now... get playing!

  20. Nice writeup. I've pretty much decided to pick up Infinity thanks to your article. Cheers!

  21. @bladerunner_35 - That's great! It really is an excellent game and now is the perfect time to get into it. In September the new Paradiso Campaign book will hit the streets bringing with it loads of new scenarios, troop types, a new faction and a narrative campaign system which will bring another dimnsion to the game.

    Let me know how it goes! :)

  22. Great writing. Very good explanations. I would have liked more Infintiy vs. 40k Mini pics though!

  23. Hello there Anonymous! Glad you liked the article. I never thought of more pictures showing the great difference in how the models are sculpted. To be honest I thought it would be obvious from looking at the Corvus Belli site, but I think you might be right in that a couple of pictures highlighing the grotesque proportions of 40k figures compared to the realistic sculpts of Infinity might have been in order.

    Problem is I don't have many 40k models available to me these days. The guardsmen you see above, and that's about it. Will remember it for future posts though! :)

  24. Old time WH40K player (well 15 years ago) and painter - as I love the relaxation of getting totally absorb in painting a miniature - from the UK. Both kids just decided to get into WH40K and I have just completed a Dark Angel and Tyranid army. Not looking at Infinity and the gorgeous models I can see a shift coming. Darn you ;o) why could I have not found this game before the in-excess of 180 hours of painting..... I think a purchase of operation icestorm is on the horizon. Would you think this would be a good place to start?

    1. Hey Rafyn and welcome to Fire Broadside! I have my roots deep in 40k so I know where you're coming from. I think you've picked the perfect time to try out Infinity though, as Operation: Icestorm really provides everything you need! I was actually surpised how complete a package it turned out to be as I had expected something more spartan with two starter boxes and some quick start rules. Having the campaign, markers and terrain really will help to get started.

      Then there's the proper 3rd edition rulebook coming later this year (knock on wood) but since all the rules are available online for free it's easy to simply go with those until the new ones hit the streets. You can also safely get Human Sphere and Campaign Paradiso if you're interested in the setting as they will be compatible with the new edition just fine.

      I hope you'll get into it and enjoy it as much as I do. And just shout (comment or email) if you have any questions!

      Oh, and I understood you're comment just fine. :)

  25. sorry for poor spelling and grammar - instant bane coming.... I should have said "totally absorbed" and "Now looking at Infinity" I apologize....


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