Thursday, November 10, 2011

Learning Infinity: Part 1

Its always nice to learn a new game, and with that comes a journey to become skilled at it. I will try to chronicle this journey as I learn the game Infinity. I hope this also provides a good reference, as to encourage others not make my mistakes.

So lets begin. I had an opportunity to play two games in the last two days. My opponent, Aaron, was playing Nomads, and I was playing my PanOceania. We played 150pts.

Closed List
First things that struck me as interesting, was the concept of a "closed list". This basically means that you don't know what your opponents list is, only that it conforms to the required list building rules. This can provide a great strategic advantage akin to "What is in the Rhino?" in 40k. The "closed list" mainly came up with regards to models with TO: Camouflage, and models that would enter game play through other means like Combat Jump. (I encourage you to check out the Infinity Wiki to understand the special rules). 

The concept of "closed list" is quite a new concept to me, and can take a bit of a mental shift in how you approach your opponents list. Its as if you have to your own recon/intel on your opponent, which I find an excellent way to bring the game "off the board". You really only truly know your opponents abilities if you have confronted the enemy before on the battlefield, or you engage them in your current battle. 

It was a learning game between me and Aaron, so we were upfront about our models, but I could see in a competitive game, you don't get to ask your opponent about his list. 

So moving toward the game board itself, another paradigm shift happened from what I'm used to: lots of dynamic terrain. 

Our first game we played we set up a large amount of non-geometrical terrain. The terrain was very open, and often didn't cover a lot of firing lanes between the deployment zones. This caused for a short game, and often difficult choices for deployment. In the words of Andy, "You don't get to choose your battlefield." Or was that Sun Tzu? Oh well. 

The main point, terrain is important, and especially the style of terrain. I felt like when I was playing that I got a bit of terrain fatigue. It's great to have dynamic terrain, but with a game with true line of sight it can be quite a brain task to comprehend all the possible terrain interactions. This lead me to do a bit of research into the style of terrain that most people play. 

The screenshot above comes from a deployment tutorial on the Infinity forums, but it provides an excellent example of the ideal infinity terrain: blocky geometric multilevel buildings. This terrain makes for a more tactical game rather than relying on a opportune shot through 3 windows. I guess you can call it a personal choice, but it seems that geometric streamlined terrain is what Infinity is meant to be played on.

So in the second game with me and Aaron, I brought out my Terraclips that I originally purchased for use in Malifaux. The terrain offered the great geometric multilevel buildings required for Infinity. It seemed to work out well, and I didn't feel like I had as much terrain fatigue in the second game.

Terrain can be a double edged sword. On one hand you want terrain that you can take advantage of, on the other you want a surface that is conducive to use as a miniature game board. 

Models and Bases
This normally something I would overlook due to my WM/H experience, but this is comes into play within Infinity. First off, the 25mm bases a good thing. At first I wanted to just get 30mm bases, because I'm used to them, and I find the round lips ascetically pleasing. The problem is two fold: The 30mm bases are not what the game requires, and the 30mm bases are too big for the scale of the models. They seem to make the models quite clunky. As well scenic bases, although the look awesome, they adversely effect the games Line Of Sight rules mainly because Infinity relies on True Line of Sight. So stick with the standard 25mm bases. 

Line of Sight Rules 
One thing I still haven't wrapped my head around is the True Line Of Sight rules. I find them a mix of abstract line of sight similar to WM/H with "I can see your model". There's an interaction with the model's base, as well as the actual model itself. Its a bit odd because some models have very dynamic posses that don't quite fit over their base. With a game so heavily involved with LOS, I just want to understand the rules. 

Game play
Game play is overall a fun and smooth experience. After you learn a few basic rules the game progresses quickly. I think we each had 6-7 models on the board for a 150pt game. The games would last roughly 20-30 minutes depending on how quickly we could engage each other. In a smaller game, players are discouraged from bring pricey >40pt models, which often have some of the more sophisticated special skills. Without them, the game mechanics mainly revolved around the rules for cover, weapon attributes, and dice rolls. Even in such a small game there was the tides of fun gameplay: awesome dice rolls and maneuvers mixed with whiffs. 

I am going to try and keep encouraging small 150pt games until I feel comfortable playing the larger games that offer more special skills to enter game play. I don't feel I would have being defeated in a 300pt game purely based on my opponents use of special skills. 

In Closing
I'm definitely taking a "slow grow" approach to Infinity. I really want to understand the rule set and the feel of the game so when I do choose to invest into more specialized models I will know how to use them effectively. 

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