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Subject: A very good game, but... rss

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David Boeren
United States
Marietta
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I'm not going to cover the mechanics, I just want to give you my impressions of what's good and bad about the game.

First, let me get my main point out of the way. This is a very good game. I've played a lot of different minis games including Warmachine/Hordes, Malifaux, Pulp City, everything by Spartan Games, and at least demoed most of the rest of what's out there. I've played Infinity off and on for a few years and played in a couple of their tournaments at Gencon.

BUT. It's also a fragile game, and let me explain what I mean by that.

First, the terrain. You need a TON of it. But that alone isn't sufficient. In many cases you may have terrain, but it's not the right sort. The good news is that it's easily fixable by house-ruling your terrain. The most common problem I've seen is people using GW swiss-cheese buildings and trying to treat them in a WYSIWYG fashion where you can see people through entire buildings because you can physically see through the windows. I've seen games where after deployment models literally could not move at all without drawing fire despite having one or more entire buildings between them and the enemy army.

So while the #1 rule is "Have enough cover", the #2 rule is "treat your terrain properly". A real building cannot be seen through. Neither should these, even though the interiors are not fully detailed. You may not see them, but there are supposed to be interior walls there.

What's worked really well for us is some very simple rules:
1. Only minis by a window can see out of a building and be seen from the outside. If you don't want to be seen, move away from the window or into the middle of the building - you are assumed to be in some other location of the building like another room or hallway. Under no circumstances can you see through an entire building.

2. If a model enters the building and another model is already there, the encounter is assumed to take place in a single room within that building, you can measure LOS and distance between them normally.

3. Unless the building is modeled with specific staircases or is single-level, we assume stairways in all four corners of each building with a cost of 4" of movement to go up or down a level.


Secondly, this is not a combo oriented game like Warmachine is. That's fine, I have no problem with that. But what it does mean is that the very few combos that DO exist don't quite fit in the system. My own belief is that a minis game is either designed for combos or it is not. If it is not, then combos risk breaking the game. I will not say that you can't deal with them, but in many cases it requires specific tactics or models with specific abilities or equipment to not be at a significant disadvantage.

There are not many of them, the common ones include
Smoke + Multispectral Visor:
Models shoot you through smoke when you cannot see them to shoot back.
It was improved later so you CAN shoot back, just with a big penalty, so this isn't as big a problem as it used to be. One of the ways they try to keep it under control is by limiting access to smoke, but it feels a bit artificial.

Forward Observer + Guided Missile:
A guy can see you. He just has to successfully spot you once, and he may have camo allowing him to spot you with less risk (particularly if the force is designed around this combo). Then, his buddy automatically hits you with one of the most powerful weapons in the game over and over until you die along with anyone standing immediately next to you. The buddy shooting missiles cannot be reacted to because he's not in LOS of anyone. It can be defended against, but it requires specific tools (like a good Hacker to hack the missiles) or it requires you to go after the missile guy first, typically through combat jump troops or something.

Shootable hacking nodes + Hacker:
It used to be that hackers had to get in range, or they could drop what were essentially wifi relays to set up hackable zones. Then they came up with a model that could effectively shoot a wifi relay. He doesn't have to hit the hacking target with it. He doesn't have to hit any model at all. He just has to shoot it somewhere near you and you can be hacked. Also, the hacker doesn't need LOS (much like the aforementioned missile buddy) so you need similar countermeasures to the guided missile case because he's not going to be sticking his head out to be shot at.


I don't mean to imply that these always break the game, but personally I feel they don't fit well into the design philosophy that the rest of the game has built. Just about everything else is well balanced, well costed, and you can take nearly any sort of list you want and expect to be competing on pretty even terms. My suggestion is that you find yourself a friend who understands and agrees with the terrain issues and combo issues and you two can have yourself some of the best minis gaming you'll ever find.


The basic system is very fluid feeling, much like a miniatures version of a typical "team deathmatch" FPS game. They've managed to create a system where tactical positioning is important, and that's rare. A grunt in the right spot can be worth as much as a 4x more costly and powerful model who's not well placed. It encourages realistic tactics, with models working together and covering each other's backs.

And yes, there are some other minor issues.
1. The rulebook is not well written. The company is in Spain so you've got a combination of translation issues and questionable organization. But the online community is pretty helpful and the rules are actually fairly simple once you understand them.

2. The game is getting bogged down in too many similar special rules and too many similar weapons & pieces of equipment. It needs a streamlining where the similar things are merged into one or made sufficiently different to justify their presence.

3. The company does not react as well as it should to player issues. First, while the Spanish forums do get official replies, the English forums pretty much don't. And second, the company does not seem to understand that problems exist at all. I've seen a number of people post about all the things mentioned in this review on their forums and be ignored, told they were insufficiently skilled to know how to play well, or told that having to include specific countermeasures was acceptable.


So that's it, warts and all. It's a great game, and one I highly recommend, but only if you have good guys to play with. All it takes is one jackass insisting that he can put a sniper out and shoot you through half the buildings on the board to ruin the game and drive players off. Abuse of combos that force people to play the models with suitable countermeasures instead of what they want (and possibly having to buy more models to do it) isn't much better. But with the proper crowd it's an excellent game, very cinematic, fast-playing, and filled with cool moments.
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Martin
Japan
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Hey Dboeren! Know you from the Spartan Games forums.

It's a great game indeed!

I'm not so sure the "combos" are a big problem though. Now, I've only played Infinity for about a year but from reading the forums it seems to me that most people see these combos as valid tactics for your armies, and making sure you can counter them is a part of the game.

Different factions can pull off these tactics with variable success. You usually don't see Yu-Jing attempting the guided missile spam, but smoke and a Hsien works wonders! I just see it as something you have to take into account when you're building your army: consider what you're facing and maybe bring something that can work around that faction's "combo".

 
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David Boeren
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Hey there! Never know where you'll run into folks online

I think it just depends on viewpoint.

In Warmachine (where combos are the standard and everyone has a bunch of them) you're expected to be able to deal with it. It's OK because they're everywhere - it's just the way the game is played.

In Infinity (where they are the exception) it feels off to me. NORMALLY you can build a list of pretty much anything, except if someone is doing a combo. I feel it interrupts the normal way the game plays.

It's equally valid to view it as "that's legal, so you just have to suck it up and deal with it". And that would be more OK with me if the rest of the game didn't work the other way.

It might also be related to my viewpoint that you should build your lists not knowing what you're going to face. This means you cannot know ahead of time what sort of combos (if any) you might go up against. The reason is that both players cannot have this advantage. Someone has to build first and can get hosed when the other guy builds a counter-list. Therefore the only fair thing is for both sides to build blind. This means you may not know their faction either (although you can agree to reveal this if you don't mind stopping to re-build lists). In skirmish games where it's common to play multiple factions this is less predictable than say Warhammer where each army you play is a pretty major investment and not 6-10 figures like Infinity. Most Infinity players I know (if they're not new) have multiple factions so just knowing the player doesn't tell you much about what you could be fighting.

At the least, they're something I try to keep out of beginning games.
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Luis Fernandez
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Good post that points the flaws of the game, some are not really flaws if not game characteristics to keep some sort of balance, but the game is a wargame where everything could die.

i really enjoy the game, and i havenĀ“t realized about those combos but they could be countered since the game is more tactical than strategic.

 
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Markus Goettfert
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Well, the combo thing...

I'm playing Infinity since the very beginning here in Germany and you are right with one thing: those tactics that you call combos really hurt for the first time you see them used against your precious little troops.

But that's it. In general, ou won't run into the trap a second time.
And pretty much any option in the game is a real PITA when confronted with for the first time.

In my experience, those 'combos' you mentioned aren't really worth taking into account as they cost orders. Tons of it.
They could come in handy every now and then but all of them are very easily countered:
- a single hacker on your side and no need to care a lot about Guided Missiles any more
- deny Line of Fire for those models able to see through smoke by deploying in the right way
- deploy mines to secure your area
- using hackable models? Well, bring along a hacker yourself
And tons of other options.

As you already said: combos are no real deal in the game. At least not in a way as it does in WarmaHordes.
Everything you do in Infinity can be seen as a combo: While ramboing into your enemies' zone of deployment in your turn you might leave one of your side totally open for his counter strike. So, you might also focus on placing some mines to prevent him to do so.
Is this already a combo? Or is it just a tactic?

I'd say there aren't really any combos in Infinity. Some option go along with others quite neatly every now and then, but in general you don't have to use the stuff you got in this way as there always is at least one other way of using your toys efficiently.
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