TGN Review: Infinity 2nd Edition Revised

By Polar_Bear
In Infinity
Jun 14th, 2013
24 Comments
1048 Views

Infinity is a sci-fi skirmish game made by Corvus Belli. It’s a game I’ve always wanted to try, so when given the opportunity to review a dinged-up copy we had around here, I jumped at the chance.

So without further ado, a review of Infinity, 2nd Edition Revised.

Infinity takes place is a universe where humanity has taken to the stars. The major political factions of today are expanded on what the writers felt would be the logical way they would expand as people took to colonizing new worlds across the galaxy. Of course there are aliens as well, because what good sci-fi game wouldn’t have at least some sort of alien technology involved? Also, robots. Basically, any type of high-tech equipment you could want is more-than-likely included, from AI-guided bullets to holographic cammo.

The game is true skirmish sized. Even a “large game” of 300 points might only have 10-12 models per side involved in the fight. Small games of 150 points could have as few as 3-4 models in a particular force. There are 6 factions, as well as Mercenaries, so there’s lots to choose from in order to build your army the way you want it. Many of the model types have various configurations they come in in terms of weapons and equipment. Models have a limited rarity, meaning you can only take so many in a given force, but even just the basic rulebook has many units to choose from for each force.

For a game, you’ll want to get a lot of terrain on the table. As opposed to a lot of games that tell you two terrain pieces shouldn’t be within so many inches of one-another, Infinity heavily recommends not having more than ten inches between terrain elements. Having a table that represents a dense urban center, or a thick jungle, or on board a space ship is “the best” way to play Infinity. Mostly, you want to make sure to cut off very long line-of-sight lanes. More on this in a bit.

Infinity is an “I go. You go” style where one player will complete all their activations before their opponent starts with there. However, to think it’s just “I move all my models and you sit there” then you’re going to be found very wrong. When the active player, you get as many Orders as you have models on the table. So if you have 5 models in your force, you get 5 Orders. Pretty simple. You can spend those Orders in any way you want. While every model gives an Order to the Order Pool, they don’t specifically have to be the one that uses that Order. So with those 5 orders and 5 models, you could have each model do 1 Order. Or you could have one model do all 5 Orders. Or you could have one model do 1 Order, another two models do 2 Orders apiece. You totally finish with one Order before moving on to the next, so you can see how that one worked out before choosing what to do next. This creates a lot of tactical flexibility for force commanders. When given an order, a model can either do a Short Skill (that can be combined with a Short Movement as well) or a Long Skill. The short skills are very straight-forward, such as “move” and “shoot” or “attack in close combat.” Long Skills are a bit more complicated like “suppression fire” and “Airborne Deployment.”

The rule that makes you want to break up those long LOS lanes and that makes the game feel a bit more like an “alternating activations” game is the Automatic Reactions Order rule. Basically, whenever you announce you’re doing an order with a model, all enemy models with LOS (technically Line of Fire in Infinity) can make a reaction against it. This can include moving, dodging away, going prone or standing up or even firing a shot. There is no limit to the number of models that can react to any single order and no limit to the number of reactions a single model can make during the opponent’s turn. Since the game uses true line of sight, when it’s not your turn, you’ll be scanning your opponent’s models, hoping that one will stray into a firing lane so you can react to it.

Infinity uses 20-sided dice to determine attacks and skills. The interesting thing about the roles is that it’s not as simple as “I want to roll high” or “I want to roll low.” While, in the game, you want to roll under a target number in order for your attack/skill use to be a success, if you roll the target number, you get a critical success. So, for example, if you line up a shot and find out, through bonuses to accuracy minus penalties for distance and cover, you need a 7 to hit, any roll of 7 or less will be a hit, but if you roll exactly 7, then you score a critical hit (which means you automatically do a wound to your target, ignoring their armor save). In face-to-face rolls, where you and your opponent are opposing one-another directly on a roll (such as in close combat or when two models shoot at each other at the same time), the person that rolls higher, yet still under their target number, would be the winner. So in that case, if Player 1 needs a 9 or less and Player 2 needs a 6 or less, if Player 1 rolls a 2 and Player 2 rolls a 5, then Player 2 will win the contest between them. Like the Automatic Response Orders, the die system keeps the other player involved in the game when it’s not their turn. You always feel like you have something you’re able to do in the game.

I talked with the Corvus Belli guys at GenCon last year and they really impressed on me the idea that they had worked hard to make the game feel like a combat simulator and be as “realistic” as possible (well, as realistic as you can get in a sci-fi minis games). I think they did a good job of that. Though, at times, it does seem that the rules can get a little over-complicated. Like when you come across the chart that shows the rules for lobbing a grenade over a wall you can’t actually see over. The other thing the rulebook could use are more scenarios. It talks about winning the game by scenario objectives, but other than “wipe out the enemy” there aren’t any provided in the book. The book is also obviously written in another language then translated into English. Most of the time that’s ok, but occasionally it can create a situation where you need to read a rule about 3-4 times before it really starts to make sense.

Infinity has a lot of great things going for it. The models, I have to say, are some of the prettiest I’ve seen. The artwork is much the same. It sort of has an anime-ish feel to it that I like. The small number of models needed to play makes it very accessible for new players. The rules can be tough to read, but are very detailed in what you’re able to do during your turn. And the Automatic Response Orders never make you feel like you’re not an active participant in the conflict. There’s a million other things I could talk about in regards to weapon types and model special rules. Suffice to say there’s a bunch, so army composition is very granular in letting you make the force you want to put on the table feel very specific to you.

So there you have it. What’d you think of the review? What are your thoughts on Infinity? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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  • Nice review. Thanks.

    I’ve had the Quick Start booklet for several months. Sounds like I need to rustle up some opponents.

  • Nightbee

    I disagree with your commentary on the translation. I found it to be one of the cleanest and least awkward examples of such that I’ve ever encountered in a gaming book.

  • I would agree that the wording is sometimes a bit difficult in the 2nd Ed book. It was much easier to learn from friends that already played. There’s actually a fan rewrite floating around that makes learning the game a bit easier.

    That being said, this is without a doubt my favorite miniatures game I’ve played, and I’ve played quite a few (started with 40K RT and Epic back in 1990). It has the depth of an RPG, but the small number of troops allows for a quick game. The ARO system also helps avoid some of those times in others where your entire army is massacred and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Unless your opponent has guided missiles and you’re playing Ariadna. That’s not a fun time.

  • Marauder

    I really like Infinity, but its not played very much in my area, which has been a bit of a barrier for me to get into the game. Still have a couple of the books and a knightly order starter and hoping to get some games in every now and then.

    The ARO system is just awesome for a sci-fi skirmish setting. I think its actually quite well explained, and is even reinforced by the cool quick start rules you can download for free. If you compare it to something similar – say Tomorrow’s War – that is also largely reaction based – you’ll see just how good a job they did with explaining Infinity.

    -Tim

    • Finding an opponent is definitely an issue. I have a group of friends that play, but it would be a completely different story if they weren’t around.

  • Marauder

    Sorry for double post, but forgot a couple of points. One, thanks for doing this write-up, while I’ve already picked up the game its great for those who might be searching for reviews one day soon. Second, would it be possible to do news items on Infinity releases? TGN used to cover these every month and they generated a lot of interesting discussion in the comments. Would love to see that come back.

    -Tim

    • I, too, would like to post up more Infinity news. The thing is, they don’t send it to me and when I do come across some of it, it’s usually just a picture without any real sort of information about what it is. I know people aren’t a fan of when I just post “Company Y shows Photo Z!” then I post the photo and there’s nothing else to know about what I’m showing you.

      But, if people that are active in the Infinity community see when a new release or somesuch comes out, if they want, they can let me know about it via the Submit News form up top. You don’t have to be a game company, yourself, to submit news to TGN. I gladly take submissions from everyone.

  • vitzh

    That title had me excited for a second that they were announcing a true second edition to Infinity.

    • Well, the rulebook I’ve got clearly calls itself “Second Edition: Revised” right on the cover. I don’t know the full history of editions in Infinity. Though I do know the book I was reviewing had a copywrite from a couple years ago. So it’s not a new-new book.

      But as I mentioned, I’d wanted to learn more about the game and give it a try for some time now. So when the book literally fell into my lap, I had no more excuses not to do a review.

  • Henrix

    I have a complicated relationship with Infinity.

    On the one hand there is a ton of interesting rules, and the minis are fantastic!

    But I don’t like it in actual play.

    The rules taken piece by piece are fine, but together they make the far, far too slow. It’s like playing a fast action game mired in molasses.

    And the order system.
    I love basic troops, the grunts, and I want them to play an important role.
    That role is not as cheerleaders giving the heroes more actions.

    So I’m waiting for a third edition where they make it a fast paced nerve wracking game.

    • I agree with Henrix, the rules’ mecanisms are decent but all the micro rules and exceptions make it a game for veteran hardcore gamers. Quickly it turns to some sort of erudition.
      This, combined with the order system allows veteran Infinity players to crush helpless beginners in a couple of turns.
      The game is so deadly that the table has to provide an almost symetrical setup if you want the game to be somewhat balanced (same for Mercs though).
      Last but not least, if the models are among the best miniatures on the market they are also often a challenge to assemble.

    • P-ko

      I must agree. Infinity is a great game, that’s sadly saddled down with the cheerleader syndrome. Fans insist it’s not really, but after playing for about 3 years and observing numerous games…yes, yes it is so. You can easily spot the models that WILL do stuff in the game and the ones that will try to stay out of trouble and provide orders. The “fireteam” rule almost balances it, but only a few units have access to it, and…well, it turns 2-4 models out of 3-5 into health tokens for the fireteam because only ONE model acts anyway, the rest sorta..tags along and provides moral support.

      • Grindar

        Personally I hate the link team rules…that extra burst and all the extra health make them really hard to deal with.

        • Dude

          ?
          No extra health for linking. Extra survivability due to better shooting, sure, but each hit against them is just as deadly (and more so, if you slap them with a template weapon and score multiple hits).

        • I just wish everyone had decent link teams. Yu Ching and Pan O have MUCH better teams than Ariadna.

    • Dude

      I do think Infinity has painted itself into a corner with FAQ-based revisions of their original text. The rules could greatly benefit from a rewrite and a small bit of redesign to repackage game mechanics to make more sense and be more accessible, without actually changing the essence of gameplay. I see a lot of people come to the forums asking for clarification on rules matters because learning from the rulebook is not easy.

      However, these issues largely disappear when learning the game from an experienced player. Infinity has a very devoted community that wants to help.

      • cegorach

        Hi, English Infinity editor here. I’d second Dude’s comments – the community is very dedicated and supportive (and he’s foremost amongst it).

        Corvus Belli are well aware of the concerns over rules and all I will say is that they are unbelievably dedicated to ensuring the best experience for their players and are always working towards an evolution of their game.

        In terms of the cheerleader issue, I used to have a problem with that but over time I’ve come to realise this is more a question of preference and tactics than rules. I’ve seen novice (and veteran) players wipe out anything they face using solid small unit tactics with groups of line troops (not even fireteams). I’ve seen them chew up ‘rambos’ and take down all kinds of expensive specialist troops hyped up on cheerleader orders. But that requires a certain kind of mindset and many people, myself included, just like to stick their uberawesome new dude on the table and wind him up with orders before letting him go 🙂

        Yes, cheerleader syndrome happens all the time. But that’s down to people and how they think in terms of list creation, it’s certainly not a question of overpowered rules like you see in certain games (I am looking at you, 40K).

        I can honestly say I’ve played against all armies in Infinity, and most of the troop types, and I can’t point at any that are seriously overpowered in all situations. I can point at dozens that are overpowered in specific situations though and that’s what Infinity is all about. Do you play rock, paper, scissors with a specialist force or put together a Swiss Army Knife list?

        Me, I like the idea of 20+ berserk highlanders charging up the table, chucking smoke grenades left and fight. What I don’t like are guys with Heavy Machine Guns and visors that let them see through smoke 🙁

        • P-ko

          Yes, cheerleader syndrome happens all the time. But that’s down to people and how they think in terms of list creation, it’s certainly not a question of overpowered rules like you see in certain games

          Indeed, but the rules still make it easier to run your typical HI+specialist+3 cheering dudes in the back kind of list. It’s POSSIBLE to run other kinds, and it’s POSSIBLE to win using nothing but basic mooks, but it’s definetely not the preferred, easiest way. It’s easier to just move 3-4 dudes out of 10 and win than to try and move all 10 and have one order per dude…which feels silly and gamey, an unit should act together, and all models in it should be expected to take an active role in the game, while “pool and distribute freely” mechanics practically guarantee you will be pumping those orders into units most likely to do much that turn, leaving others sitting ontheir hands.

          • I totally agree. I played Infinity for awhile and I loved the idea of it and the models but the over complication of certain rules and the cheerleader syndrome ruined it for me and I sold all my stuff. If they actually put a order limit and streamlined some of the rules, the game would be improved greatly. When I stopped playing they were still using true LoS which bothered me since so many of their beautiful models are in super dynamic poses.

    • entil_zar

      Same for me. I’ve tried to get into the game a couple of time (have a decent amount of PanO since Wave 1)and I love the minis and the setting but you have to invest a serious amount of time and brainpower memorizing all the rules and especially the modellspecific and equipment-related rules.

      It’s less a case of knowing your models than your opponents, which makes Infinity a lesser choice of an “side-System” it just has to be you prime gaming-system.

  • One the game system based on action points that gives an heroïc cinematic feeling without being ampered by the cheerleader syndrome is Pulp City. I think they got a very balanced solution.

  • Hello. Good review.

    However, i would like to add some important things, that i think could complete the information for all the people who might be interested in this game.

    First of all, i would say that Infinity rulebooks are not the best way to ‘get’ the rules, they are great for the artwork and for the story of the Infinity universe, but if someone is interested in the game itself, in the website of Infinity:
    http://www.infinitythegame.com/infinity/en/
    In that website can be downloaded all the rules, army list, scenarios, markers, etc. Very important, for FREE. I think this is another good point that could be remarked.
    Another two interesting features in that website are the Infinity Wiki (where one can find the FAQs and all the rules, more easy to learn or understand them), and the Infinity Army (an ‘Army builder’ style program for this game).
    Additionally, it can be said that there are three books published for Infinity to date. This review is for the first book, or basic rulebook. There are also the “Human Sphere Expansion”, that adds a lot of fluff, one new faction, many units and new rules; and “Campaign: Paradiso”, that again have more background story, adds another new faction and the rules for a campaign system.
    Last thing, in the same website i noted before, can be found rules for the official missions or scenarios, that offers more variations to the game.

    Cheers. 🙂

    • Great post Hoarmurel, and I think, frankly, the Wiki is a much better place to learn the rules. At the very least it’s good to read all the special rules for your models. There is also a great series of videos on Youtube that go over the basics of the game. The first part is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNe1P6jLLLE

    • Talarius

      The ease of use of the Wiki can’t be overstated. It’s the best way to learn the rules by far.