I've been doing some serious research into Infinity lately and I have to say that I'm really digging it. Good thing my brother is in town and he's just as much of a geek as I am. I got really excited to play this game and I went home with a full batch of rules and proxy'd minis. We had a good night of learning and playing as we watched Dark City and Waking Life. Shit got really really real.
I built a 200pt ALEPH list and a Yu Jing list with as much simplistic stuff as possible and gave the game a run through.
We used a roughly rectangular 3.5x2.5' table and loaded the board up with terrain. By terrain, I mean cups, LoS blockers, some DVDs cases to represent buildings, my wife's nail polish, my GW paintset (never seen so much dust in my life), and some other stuff. There were elevations and buildings to take advantage of climb and normal moves, open terrain, LoS blockers in the form of barrels, and ~6 or so models on each side.
We rolled off, tested WIP and I made him go first so I can counter deploy and set up firing lanes.
The first thing I noticed in this game is that I had to think hard, and I mean really hard about the way deployment was to pan out. We both took advantage of our heavy weapon allowment and we both had the ability to shoot across the table at any targets that presented itself. With lethality being the way it is in this game (and I'll get to that later), it literally became a cat and mouse game of wits. Just to make things fun, my brother's Yu Jing (thanks to the Wych model) also fielded a Oniwaban, which is a specialized CC assassin type ninja with Thermal Optical camo. You know that ninja thing bro from Metal Gear? That's basically what the Oniwaban is.
Another thing I want to note is the hugggggeeeeeeeee amount of weapon profiles, stats, special rules, and things you can do with each model. Each model is equipped with a set batch of gear and depending on what you take, the costs vary. Fair enough. In addition to this, every thing, and I do mean every thing has a profile that does something. Combi Rifles are different than HMGs, Multi Rifles have different types of ammo that can be toggled and the list goes on and on. I thought 40K was rough when I first started, but this game has probably the steepest learning curve I've ever seen.
So the ninja gets to deploy in the middle of the map because he has superior infiltration and start the game in camo TO. I set up my dudes so that I had firing lanes into my brother's units if he moves across terrain and if he moved across certain. I also had to make sure I could draw LoS on places that the ninja could run through or climb over so I can attempt to detect him using my Willpower. Lastly, I put my Multivisor Lv.3 Spitfire-totting Asura in a location where I can neutralize the ninja (multivisor sees through the ninja's bullshit) if he is to assassinate one of my dudes, or if he climbs on top of a building, or cross into my firing lanes.
I want to emphasis the importance of deployment, as shitty deployment and poor planning could lose the game for you right here. It felt instantly like an RTS (my forte) over a miniatures game. Positioning was key and a forced conflict when you're out of position could/is mean instant death.
My brother advanced his troops carefully, weaving through the barrels and paint cans using double move short-short sprints, or advancing with a long skill 4" move but using Cautious Movement so I wouldn't get an ARO (my reactive). In turn, his dude moves slower since he's not allowed to do his secondary move. I did manage to draw LoF on one of his dudes and I shot with my 1 shot into cover and with the cover giving me -3 to my ballistic skill and +3 to his arm, I didn't make too much success.
Now that the battle has engaged, it was my turn to be the aggressor. I used terrain to my advantage and moved into firing locations at his units with multiple orders and used my weapons high burst fire to beat down his ARO of 1 shot back. This showed off how high lethality is: 3 shots go through, he fires 1 back and hits (they cancel), so technically 2 shots go through. With most armor in the game on common infantry being 1 or 2, even with the +3 armor you get from cover, you have to roll a 10+ to survive a POW14 gun. Without cover, you just get shot in the face.
What I find interesting in this is that you can use all your orders to send one guy running up the field and unleashing hell at an overextended model out of cover, or you can move several dudes up the field and taking pot shots. With the limited amount of orders per turn, I felt another RTS element come up: managing resources, even more so than Fury or Focus, more so like Fury because losing dudes drops the amount of orders you can make in the next turn. Unit preservation is very important, and maximizing damage and opportunity is key when exploiting weaknesses in your opponent's movement. Since all of this happens so fast, map awareness is key in every decision you make. I can see how for some people, this might take a long time to make a decision..
The highlight of the game is probably when my bro blew all his orders to make a daring attack on one of my Mymridons in a forward position.
Order 1: He moved past a firing lane using his 4" move + cautious movement to sneak past my guns.
Order 2: He snuck around the DVD case with 2 short sprints.
Order 3: He moved again and attacked my Mymidon from behind.
I was like, yo bro, I have Martial Arts 3. And he goes, yo bro, I have Martial Arts 4, which cancels 3 and denies me any reactions. Normally I can react to someone STABBING ME IN THE NECK, but he's so stealthy and pro that he cuts right through my armor with his Monomolecular blade and caused instant death as he cuts me in half down the middle.
The ninja's victory is short lived as my Asura was in range to pick him off as soon as he killed the Mymridon. Now, I couldn't find through the cluster fuck of rules what happens when a ninja with camo TO kills a dude when there's people looking at him (he had no orders left).
A. Does he stay invisible, gets seen my by Asura immediately and I can take a ARO?
B. Does he decloak and I get to shoot him in the face as a ARO?
C. I don't get a ARO and the Ninja has to die on my next turn.
D. The Ninja decloaks but since he has no orders left, has to wait until next turn to recloak, in which I can shoot him to death anyway.
E. None of this shit matters because I just remembered that when the Ninja rounded the corner without cautious movement, my Asura could of ARO'd and shot him in the face anyway.
Like I said: There's a lot of shit in this game to remember.
I also want to touch upon 2 really cool things that I wish we explored:
- Models can overwatch an area with Suppression Fire. If any model crosses this area, I get to react and shoot back with a full burst instead of just 1 shot. Very cool, very realistic and deadly. Needs a lot of pre-planning because it takes an entire order to activate overwatch.
- Models that are being shot at can attempt to dodge the shot using his PHysical skill. He can use this in melee too if he can react to the target, which you normally can unless you're a fucking ninja. Being able to dodge things can move your model that's not into cover into cover on a successful dodge, or it can make you break melee! A lot of cool things here.
Just wanted to share my thoughts on a new gaming system, and although it's a complicated game, I can see this game as the most challenging miniatures game I've ever played thus far. It shares many of the same mechanics as StarCraft and for that reason alone, I'm getting it. I will say this though: It's not a game faint of heart. Things can go really poorly for you if you don't think ahead and look at the battle plan as an absolute whole. It's essentially StarCraft micro wars on a table-top, which is very appealing for me.