Episode 1: A Tohaa-tally Awesome Introductory Game (Tohaa vs. Steel Phalanx - 150 Points)

Welcome to the first of hopefully many Battle Reports detailing my games of Infinity. For existing readers of my Blog there will still be Warhamemr 40K Battle Reports but they will be on a hiatus until the Fall FAQ in all likelihood. For new readers I have been doing Battle Reports for Age of Sigmar, Warhammer 40K, and a brief stint with Star Wars: Legion for over a year at this point.

Since I'm doing a new game allow me to detail a few things. First off I am extremely new to Infinity, this is the 5th game I'd ever played up until this point. Prior experience was a demo game of Haqqislam vs. ISS where we escalated the points across two matches, one 300 Point game against Haqqislam, and one game against Steel Phalanx immediately before this one. I have read the Rulebook several times and regularly read the Wiki to get things stuck in my head but Infinity is VERY rules dense and there will be mistakes. The best I can do is learn from them.

For my Faction I obviously went with Tohaa based on the title of the Battle Report. Those who know me also know I favor a fairly straight-forward play-style (especially in Infinity) with an aversion to big models and a love of grindy/attrition based play. Tohaa seemed to fit that well as they're not a TAG Faction, execute a pretty basic gameplan, and are very forgiving with multiple Wounds and access to SymbioMates. So let's dive in!



Tohaa



Combat Group 1

Makaul w/ Heavy Flamethrower, Eclipse Grenades, Pistol, Viral CCW
Makaul w/ Heavy Flamethrower, Eclipse Grenades, Pistol, Viral CCW

Kamael Paramedic w/ Combi Rifle

Kaeltar (CoC) w/ Light Shotgun, Flash Pulse, 2 SymbioMates

Sakiel w/ Viral Combi Rifle, Nimbus Plus Grenades

Nikoul Minelayer w/ Viral Sniper Rifle, Antipersonnel Mines

Gao-Rael w/ Sniper Rifle

 This list is just meant to allow me to test some things as I get more familiar with the game. I put in two Snipers as they have very forgiving ranges and abilities, normally I won't be using as much of the Nikoul. SymbioMates went on both Snipers as it's easier to keep the Sakiel safe in this instance. Two Triad Teams were deployed with the Kaeltar attaching to the Gao-Rael and the Kamael attaching to the Sakiel.

For this game we were not using the Lieutenant Rules, Command Tokens, or a Mission as this is the rules an upcoming Slow Grow League will be using. Fireteams are also not allowed in the League but my opponent let me use them so we could both learn more.



Steel Phalanx



Combat Group 1

Netrod
Netrod

Dactyle Doctor w/ Combi Rifle, Adhesive-Launcher, Nimbus Grenades
Yudbot

Ekdromos w/ HMG, Nanopulser
Ekdromos w/ Chain Rifle, Nanopulser

Thorakite Forward Observer w/ 360 Visor, Submachine Gun, Chain Rifle

 Myrmidon w/ Chain Rifle, Nanopulser, Smoke Grenades

Agema Marksman w/ MULTI Sniper Rifle

 At the time I had no idea what any of this stuff did so I just went through and asked for Special Skills, Equipment, and Armament. While Infinity is very rules-dense models are little more than stat-sticks with gear and skills thrown on them, this makes it easy to figure out what a model can do if you just ask and know the rules, or use the wiki.

Immediately prior to this game we played another match, which I won, but decided to re-rack because we made several rules and tactical mistakes. This meant I knew about the Ekdromos where usually they would be Private Information, but it's not a big deal in this instance.



Pre-Game and Deployment

After going over our lists with each other Tim, my opponent, won the Willpower Roll and decided to take the first turn. I chose the side of the table that I felt had better perches for sniping as I could setup shop and use my Sakiel Triad to fight fires as things ran at me, or fell from the skies and into my lap. I also had Tim deploy first.

Deployment was fairly straight-forward as Tim put his Agema behind a tower with a ladder, the Dactyl Doctor behind a building with his Yudbot nearby, and the Thorakite forward but hidden. Both Netrods passed their PH Rolls and dropped in the middle, our prior game saw one fly off the table and die so Tim was more conservative this time.

I placed my Gao-Rael in a building with one very good firing lane, giving him a SymbioMate, and the Sakiel in the middle but Prone. The support members of both Triads also hid out, the Gao-Rael's hid behind the building and the Sakiel's went Prone behind some clutter. Finally Tim dropped his Myrmidon near the tower he had and I put my Nikoul on the right side on a building with Foxhole active.





Steel Phalanx Active Turn 1

Tim immediately had a plan, throwing a Smoke Grenade in front of the tower with his Myrmidon and moving it up the table a bit. The Agema then spent an Order to climb the ladder, finishing just before I could see him with my Gao-Rael. Another Order then went onto the Agema who popped up, I declared BS as my ARO with the Gao-Rael as everyone else was blocked by the smoke. Tim shot back but I won the Face to Face, killing the Agema as he failed his ARM and took a Shock bullet to the face. 

Note: We did play as though the Agema had Cover which we were later told would not have been the case as the ladder didn't touch anything that gives Cover so my ARO would have happened before the Agema could benefit.

Disappointed at losing his sniper Tim dropped both Ekdromos in but chose to just walk them onto the right table edge instead of dealing with a possible Dispersion. The Myrmidon also moved up some but stayed out of LoF, the Ekdromos ended the turn by both Super-Jumping towards my Nikoul but staying out of LoF.




Tohaa Active Turn 1

Having won the sniper duel I was keen to press my advantage but I also had a Nikoul who would probably be in a bit of trouble next turn without support. After some consideration I resolved to press my advantage as much as I could and started putting Orders into the Gao-Rael's Triad. He Climbed down the building he was occupying and then moved up another, using the ladder. I then had him poke up where the Agema couldn't see and moved into LoF to get Cover and shoot him in the face. This dropped the Agema thanks to my Shock and the Gao-Rael quickly followed up with kills on both Netrods. Having removed a big threat and weakened Tim's Order Pool to three I went to see what could be done for the Nikoul.

With the remaining two Orders my Sakael Triad moved right and hunkered down to provide some ARO support and to followup if/when the Nikoul went down.





Steel Phalanx Active Turn 2

With few remaining threats Tim went to it, Super-Jumping up with the Chain Rifle which I answered with my Pistol. I burned my SymbioMate on the Chain Rifle and then did a wound to the Ekdromos, putting him Unconscious. The other Ekdromos then did the same, this time with his HMG, but I still won the Face to Face with my Pistol because of Cover and my positive MODs, whereas Tim was in bad range, but no damage was done. The last Order went onto the Doctor who sent his servant forward.



Tohaa Active Turn 2

My Orders all went to the Sakiel Triad with the Mokaul being the Team Leader. I was able to throw an Eclipse Grenade up the building and then walk into it and melee the Ekdromos, dropping him. The Makaul moved again and Coup De Grace the downed Ekdromos, leaving only the Doctor and servant. I moved forward a bit more but we called the game as I'd lost nothing and Tim was in Retreat.




Post-Game Thoughts

This was certainly a sloppily played game but since both me and Tim are brand new it was to be expected. I liked the smoke coverage plan for the Agema although it not having Cover makes it much worse, we both have B:2 on our guns (thanks Triad!), same BS, but I would have ARM 5 to the Agema's 2 on top of a SymbioMate. Tim also put the Netrods in a very open position, I think placing them just takes experience because the possibility of a scatter is hard to cope with. Leaving the Myrmidon in the open was also a big mistake, Infinity is brutal on positioning errors.

For my part I wasn't always sure how to solve some of the puzzles I was faced with, the big one being the two Ekdromos sneaking up on me. Some of the situation was dealt with by me just rolling well but that's not a very reliable answer. Had the Nikoul died I'd likely just have spread out the Sakiel Triad into a defensive position and relied on AROs. Otherwise I had the plan to Intuitive Attack with the Makaul's Eclipse Grenade and either walk into Combat with him or Heavy Flamethrower both, having the Sakiel on tap in they survived.

So far I really enjoy Infinity and was very happy to play a game without Camo Markers and things like that. They're a cool part of the game but they're also very intimidating as a new player because you don't have the game knowledge to make guesses on what they are and act accordingly. All of the staples of Tohaa are among my favorite units in the Faction and the Gao-Rael has been my MVP in every game I've played with him, MSV2 just solves a lot of problems. In future 150 Point games I'll likely turn the Nikoul into a Sukeul w/ K1 Combi Rifle, I just don't own one yet and didn't want to proxy.

As a long time minis player I have a decent grasp on the idea of the game and a lot of common do's and dont's, my main focus besides committing rules to memory is to work on my Triad positioning. In the previous game I gave up three models to one Chain Rifle shot, fortunately I passed all my ARM/Dodge Rolls and managed to shoot the guy down but I could have easily given up a ton of points. Since using things like AD: Deployment, Infiltrate, throw away Impetuous models, etc. is a very common tactic I certainly need to be prepared for them.

Outside the game this is my first Battle Report for Infinity and I more or less used my 40K format, in the future I'll try to post Army Codes for those interested. I will also be better about taking pictures but if there's anything else you think would be a solid addition to my write-ups please let me know, I take criticism to heart.

Episode 81.7: Warhammer 40K's Infinite(y) Lull & Picking Up a Second Game (Infinity Review for PopNerdTV)

Man it has been a bit since I posted on here. Allow me to indulge myself in explaining why for a moment and then I will move onto some actual content (but not a Battle Report, sorry!) It's been about two weeks since I played a game of Warhammer, the game has never been more boring to me than it is right now. As I've raged about in several articles the meta is entirely solved in 40K for the moment and oh my is it a boring one. You're either taking a list that's made up of Blood Angels, Knights, and Guard in some mixture or a Ynaari list. Anything else is a pure dark-horse that is built to beat those two lists extremely specifically or you may as well not bother. 

40K continues to have a problem with certain Codexes or lists over-centralizing the game, at the moment if you cannot kill 3+ Knights in ~5 Rounds you have no business going to a tournament with the intention of a positive record. Unfortunately for me this has made the game extremely boring as I hate Knights aesthetically, I hate playing against focal models that only have binary states (Dead, or Not Dead, never Wounded), and I don't want to go where the game is dragging me. This is a popular sentiment among my local group and casual play is at its lowest point around me since 8th Edition dropped. *sigh*

I'm certainly holding on for the FAQ and I think the game will get a lot better. CP Farming and Agents of Vect are going to get nerfed, I'm not even going to bother saying they likely will because it's a 100% chance, and you can quote that. Knights feel likely to take a hit on Castellans (way too good with the Raven Stratagem) and Gallants (way too cheap for what they bring). If CP farming goes away and they take hits on the two best chassis then Knights will likely be booted out of the meta, which I think is a net positive for the game. Having such a hard skew be available to not only a ton of armies (Yay Imperium!) but in so many effective flavors is just too much for the system to handle.

Other rumors I've heard are nerfs to Invulnerables Saves, particularly Storm Shields, which is likely considering what's known about the Space Wolves Codex at the time of posting. This would again be a good change as things are living for way too long right now, usually Imperium models. Having a 3++ Save should be a very rare and powerful thing but there's too much of it in the game right now and not nearly enough counters. Besides that we'll see what comes.

On the Kill Team front I have been playing a bit and I retain my opinion that it's a better game than 40K both casually and competitively. It's not perfectly balanced as some teams are very meh (Chaos) but everyone can perform and the difference in power levels is much closer than 40K. It needs much better Missions and an FAQ saying the winner of the Initiative Roll can go 1st or 2nd in the Movement Phase, that's about it. While I've tried to get into it more I got side-tracked by another project which is the main focus of this post.....

~~~INFINITY~~~

(Feel free to dip out here unless you want a high-level review of Infinity)

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For those who don't know me personally I've been looking for a side-game to 40K for quite some time. I think it's a good idea to have two games that you regularly play as each game has its own peaks and valleys both in terms of popularity and fun, when the valleys come you can jump ship for a bit. Initially this was going to be Kill Team but I haven't seen the level of popularity and competitiveness that I crave, yet. Next on the docket was X-Wing but....I'm sorry X-Wing Players I hate that game in nearly every way. The other options were Age of Sigmar (another army game hurts the wallet), 9th Age/SW:Legion (not popular enough), or Infinity. So I looked at Infinity.

If you're unfamiliar with the game, Infinity is a Skirmish Wargame set in a Sci-Fi Universe that reminds me a lot of Halo crossed with Firefly. It harkens back to older versions of wargames in many ways, it's rules dense, uses pewter models, and is fairly unforgiving to newcomers. While those are generally negative aspects for a game to have they're tempered with excellent rules balance, top of the line community support, and great looking sculpts for Sci-Fi fans. Games are typically played with 10-18 models per Player and the system uses 20 sided dice to determine outcomes. Initially this felt unnecessarily finicky but as I'll discuss later it's a perfect fit for their system.

While the full game of Infinity is complex the owning company, Corvus Belli, made some very smart decisions with regards to roping people in. This can be seen in their Two Player Starter Sets, the latest of which is Operation Red Veil, which not only provides everything for players to get going but also spoon feeds the rules. I'd like to pause for a moment to describe what challenges the Two Player Starters overcome that would ordinarily be problematic.

In addition to dice, models, rules, and a measuring tool that virtually all wargames package into their Starter Sets you also get a Game Mat and paper Terrain. Infinity is played on a 4x4' surface so having something out of the box to measure that for you is a very easy for home or shop play, otherwise you'd likely have to measure out the dimensions and mark them which gets clunky. Infinity is also extremely dependent on Terrain, the game is intentionally deadly and even the most durable models will not stand up to even a turn of being shot in the open. By providing the Terrain there's no possibility of new players misunderstanding the game due to lack of appropriate cover and obstacles, this is further reinforced at the very beginning of the rules by telling players numerous times how important it is to play with a crowded table.

Moving back to the rules, the way that a new player is brought into the game is very well done. I've given many demos for many games over my 10+ years of being in the hobby, typically a system will advise a smaller point game without a Mission or Scenario to prevent the overwhelming onset of all possible options at once. Infinity instead provides a book with 4 Missions in it, all using the models that are bundled with the Starter Set, these Missions are also available for free via Corvus Belli's website. Did I mention all the rules for the game are also freely available from the developers? Lovely.

The Missions themselves very slowly present the mechanics of the game by holding back some of the models that are included, starting with the simpler line troopers. You're also provided how to setup the terrain, this illustrates how a table should look in Infinity and also prevents accidental favoritism with the table setup. As the players progress more models and mechanics are added until finally you play a "full" game of Infinity, albeit with less models than normal.

For as much praise as I've lavished on the presentation of the rules, make no mistake that Infinity is a very complex game with pages and pages of special rules. I would be very hesitant to show the game to anyone below the age of 14-15 and frankly a child would get very little out of Infinity. The game itself rewards layered, tactical play and is light on the explosive action of a game like X-Wing or Warhammer 40K.

It's very difficult to explain how the rule engine of Infinity plays but I'll do my best. Players take turns against each other in a round, during the round each will have an Active and Reactive Turn. During your Active Turn you move and perform actions with your army using Orders, the resource of the game. Most models contribute Orders to a pool that you can freely spend, this makes it possible to pump all your Orders into a few models or spread them more widely. As models are removed they no longer contribute Orders so not only does your army diminish but what you can do with the remainder does as well.

Actions are resolved through one of two ways: Normal Rolls and Face to Face Rolls. If you do something that your enemy cannot react to (which happens during their Reactive Turn, get it?) then you perform a Normal Roll, a simple attempt to roll equal to or under the relevant Attribute Value. If you do it you succeed, if not you fail. Face to Face Rolls come about when you try to do something that the opponent can react to, shooting an enemy is a very common example. During this face off each player rolls a number of dice dictated by their equipment with the goal being to roll as high as possible without going over their Attribute. Let's check out a brief example, straight from the rules.

The Fusilier Angus opens fire against the Alguacil Ortega, who shoots back. Angus' Ballistic Skil is 12, while Ortega has a Ballistic Skill of 11. Both players roll their dice. The Angus gets a 4, and the Ortega gets a 7. Both pass their rolls, but the Ortega's result is higher and he wins the Face to Face Roll, cancelling the Angus' success. The Angus gets shot before he can even pull the trigger!

 This ebb and flow is at the heart of Infinity, allowing player's to make meaningful decisions even outside of their Active Turn. While you have more power during the Active Turn you're not solely in harms way during the Reactive Turn, indeed games are won and lost by the decisions made in both. This makes for a more tactically rewarding experience than most wargames where you would be rolling purely defensive dice as your opponent goes through his plan.

Recommendation

Typically I try to give a very clean recommendation, or lack thereof, when I review games. For better or worse Infinity will not fit into that box so I'm going to do two recommendations: one for existing war-gamers and one for those interested in the hobby.

Existing War-gamers

If you're no stranger to tabletop war-games then Infinity is one of the best secondary or tertiary games that I've come across. While the rules are complex they're freely available and Corvus Belli goes out of their way to soften the learning curve and support their community. An official Army Builder, Mission Packet, FAQ, and Rules are all available online and are totally free. The models themselves are extremely reasonably priced (especially for us Games Workshop devotees), I was able to put together a full, reasonably competitive list for under $100.

The game itself plays very fast, especially when you know the rules to a reasonable degree, and is excellently balanced as "power" comes from Equipment and Skills. This allows for multiple angles of attack on models that are a bit too good. My only downside would be a high reliance on very specific terrain that not all game stores may have available and a smaller community than the big games out there may make it hard to find opponents depending on where you reside.

New War-gamers

If Infinity is to be your first game then it needs to be an excellent fit for you. While the models is reasonably priced compared to most others it's going to take time to learn the rules without past experience to rely on. Infinity allows for many unintuitive interactions that are rewarding to pull off but require someone to be comfortable taking their losses and learning or researching online.

I would recommend Infinity if you're looking for a deeper, more competitive experience than other games offer. While casual play is rife within the Infinity community you do have to possess more tactical acumen to have fun than you'd need to play a game like Warhammer or X-Wing. If you're hoping to get an experience that's more relaxed, the so-called Beer and Pretzels game, then Infinity will not be a good fit. On the other hand if you do want that rewarding feeling of pulling off complex plans and maneuvers and have some time to dedicate towards rules.....welcome to the Human Sphere.

Episode 81.3: The New ITC Missions

Hey everyone, if you're like me you just came back from the movies and saw that the new ITC Missions, which were said to come out after BAO, are live! While the Mission Pack is largely the same it has some changes, mostly to Secondaries, which were requested via community interaction a few weeks back. These are likely to be the Missions for quite some time, and unless Games Workshop puts effort into better Missions they're also likely to be the competitive standard. So what's the good and bad?



The Good

To their credit the ITC Guys seemed to have realized that their Secondary Objectives were a complete joke. Only half the list, if that, was ever used and the Secondaries were trivial to build around for some armies, impossible for others, which created yet more imbalance with the game. Of particular note were Gangbusters and Behind Enemy Lines, both almost never taken as they applied to very few armies (none that are competitive) or were effectively impossible to max out.

These have been overhauled with Gangbusters getting the boot and replaced with Ground Control which allows you to score for every Objective you hold at the end of the game you score a point. Sadly this isn't a very good addition as it falls into the "Win More" category, if you're holding 4 Objectives at the end of the game then you were going to win anyway. If you're going to hold less than 4....why would you take this? While Gangbusters was literally useless and this new addition is not it's still likely to be rarely taken, especially since not all the ITC Missions even use 4+ Objectives. Oof.

Moving onto completely better news, Death By a Thousand Cuts has been changed to only need 2 Enemy Units but they have to be killed in the Turn, not the Round. This is a great change as even the most elite armies include 8 Units, although there is counter-play with your opponent suiciding units into your army to decrease the count. Fortunately this isn't viable when playing with the ITC Clock Rules, which are getting popular, as you cannot be forced to attack enemies in the Fight Phase. Overall a very good change to a bad Secondary although I think making it the Round would be a good change.

Behind Enemy Lines has also been changed to only require one unit but it has to live through your opponent's turn. Again this is a great change as previously this was up there with the most useless Secondaries, now armies with durability can make this work. Because it has to be done over four Turns I still don't think this will be a popular choice but it's at least now viable and that's a big step in the right direction.

The other small changes were moving The Reaper to just killing 20 Enemy Models, whenever. This should now be extremely popular as there are no timing restrictions and many armies fall into having 80+ Models, even in the competitive scene. Big Game Hunter is also now 7+ Wound models instead of 10+, get wrecked Carnifex spam. Right now this change isn't very big as it really does largely target Tyranids but when the next balance pass is done it could be a bigger deal.

A change made to the other Secondaries is limiting stacking, this was very punishing to models like Mortarion and Magnus who surrendered full Kingslayer Points, a Headhunter Point, and a Big Game Hunter Point. While my personal feelings are these models should not have a place in regular play I am not the taste maker for Warhammer 40K and I'm sure many people will be happy to see this. Fortunately for me most big models are still garbage in the game and this is unlikely to change that but if you choose to bring them you may find yourself in less of an auto-lose situation.

Lastly we have one more new Secondary, Marked for Death, which is by far my favorite. This actively attacks elite armies as you get to pick 4 Units, each with Power Level 7+, and you get a point for each one you destroy. With Knights and Tanks being most of the meta right now you can get good work out of this Secondary.



The Bad

While the good things were decently good, I fear the bad is going to be VERY bad. Prior to this update a big part of competitive play was limiting Secondaries via list building, things like sticking a Mortar in Guardsmen Units to avoid The Reaper, limiting Characters/Tanks, that kind of thing. This practice was on the down swing a bit ever since the Knights Codex dropped as people were throwing Secondaries out and just spamming the most powerful stuff they could get. That's pretty much where we reside now and where the game will stay until changes are made by Games Workshop.

What we have now with the ITC Missions is an environment where you should always score 12/12 Secondaries in a competitive game. With the amount of viable options and how deadly 8th Edition is I have a hard time seeing evenly matched armies not being able to punch 12 Points out of each other, especially with what's good in the game right now. So instead of a focus on Secondaries, the focus shifts to Primaries.

As anyone who has played ITC Missions knows you score a point if you killed something on your turn, a point if you held an Objective on your turn, and at the end of the round the player with the most kills, as well as the player holding the most Objectives, get a point for each. While I'm happy to see Objectives getting more focus the "Kill More" Primary is now going to turn into an issue. Personally I've always hated Kill More and thought it has no place in a competitive game because it massively favors elite armies. For example I played in a recent tournament against another Imperium Player who was fielding a Big Knight. I was able to kill his entire army but because he had so fewer units than I did he was able to rack up Kill More for most of the game. Even though I beat the crap out of his army he nearly won the game because of that one thing, when he had no business being in the game.

With Knights being such a massive presence in the meta, I'd argue they're the most impactful Codex we've had in 8th Edition thus far, it's now extremely punishing if you don't fall in line and move to an elite build. The option is certainly on the table to counter Kill More with Hold More but Objectives are much more volatile than removing units. The only counter-play to Kill More is to purposefully leave stuff around so you can kill it later, something that can backfire if you're not playing with a Chess Clock (as mentioned earlier). While one can argue it's tactically interesting to play that way it's extremely unintuitive and gives elite armies an advantage, even a damaged Vehicle/Monster can put out some pain while you wait around to kill it at the right time. Even worse some of the popular big models don't meaningfully degrade or they can operate at full functionality via Stratagems.



Overall

While overall the ITC Missions have been improved I think any canny player is going to see the new holes and quickly exploit them. Since Knights are everywhere it's not like a lot of the top armies have to be changed to work in this environment and I fear the ITC Panel wasn't able to see the forest through the trees. Time will tell and I'll certainly be play-testing these Missions in the hopes that I'm wrong.

If I were to change the ITC Packet I would omit Kill More completely, change The Butcher's Bill to Round, and change Ground Control to 2 Points per Objective. This would likely make for a more even playing field and also pair nicely with any meta the game can throw at the packet.

On an optimistic note I think the balance problems with 40K are so obvious right now that I'd be surprised if Games Workshop didn't hit every single one of them. Knights are likely to see both direct and indirect nerfs which may very well clear up the Kill More problem, making it something I just fund stupid as opposed to potentially game deciding. As the ITC Guys are in bed with Games Workshop it's very possible they know what changes are coming in the next few months, as well as the next few Codexes, and have designed accordingly. That's why I'm saying for now I think there will be a problem, in a few months who knows. What are your thoughts?