Or "How to Make Yourself Unpopular".

I love Infinity.  It scratches an itch that has gone untreated since the days of playing Necromunda as a kid.  It plays out pretty well and can lead to some really interesting games.  It's well balanced, at least on the surface, though a lot of this is through the vulnerability of the units.  If you listened to some people though, you'd think it was the bestest thing ever.  It isn't, it has its flaws and you need to be aware of them if you're considering buying into it.  In the interest of education, here's my take...

The Models
The models are, for the most part, gorgeous.  They're smaller than their Games Workshop counterparts, and as long as you stay away from the early sculpts (I'm looking at you, Nomad Starter Set) are dynamic, well-sculpted and visually interesting.  Nearly every model has its own distinctive flavour, so even with dozens of unit choices per faction you can usually visually identify models at a glance.

That's the good.  The bad is that they were sculpted by an absolute sadist.  Join points are tiny, gaps in finished models are abundant and they are just an all-around pain to assemble.  Mostly this is an issue with the infantry, the TAG I've had experience of seems to fit together fairly well and is easy to assemble.  There are an abundance of aerials, weapons and arms attached by 1mm glue points that are going to snap off in transit no matter how well you take care of them (and the worst of them are so small you can't even pin them for extra support).  Again, they're gorgeous, but there are some models you just can't help but think weren't designed to be actually played with.

Also, and for me this is a really big point, they're metal.  Yes, yes, it's not the white metal alloy GW use, it's superior aircraft-grade aluminium.  Does this make the slightest bit of difference?  No.  It doesn't break as easily as weak joints in GW's alloy, but there are a lot more weak joints to break.  It's still metal, which comes with all its attendant paint-rubbing-off, primer-hell, smashing-when-it-hits-anything-hard annoyances.

The Game
The game is well thought out, intriguing and fun.  Its unique factor is that it allows you to take actions in response to your opponent's orders.  This leads to an almost chess-like structure whereby you will move pieces to provide cover for your other units and will instinctively come to think of the force as a whole rather than as separate models.  Points balance is ok, though there are still some point-inefficient units to be avoided.  You won't get the same "This is an auto-include / AVOID AT ALL COSTS" comments about units, but some are better priced for what they do than others.

There's the good.  Here's the bad.  The rules employ a lot of "golden bullet" silliness, rule A overrides rule B unless condition C, and on and on.  This makes it a difficult game to teach and occasionally a difficult game to keep on top of.  Some of these rules (multi-spectral visor, for instance) range from being useless one battle to being the pivot on which the battle turns the next.  The nature of the ARO system means you need to know every unit your opponent fields, otherwise your carefully wrought plan will be undone by "Oh, but I can see through smoke" or similar.  This leads into another problem - while the unit type is usually obvious, there is no WYSIWYG on a fair few of the Infinity models.  It can turn out that that girl over there with the viral close combat weapon and nothing else, well, she's also carrying a full-on combi-rifle.  Yep, I've no idea where she keeps it either.  This can happen a lot depending on the faction you're facing and often the only way to learn is to get shot up and be aware next battle.

The game is also brutal.  This is mostly a good thing and a lot of the game's balance comes from this.  It's not without its issues however.  You will not get chance to correct mistakes against a superior opponent and a lot of combos can wipe you off the board with nary a chance for you to respond.  It's not quite as bad as Warmahorde assassination tactics, but it can feel mighty close at times.  At 150 points or less you can also run into the familiar feeling that there was simply nothing you could do to combat a particular force, but this alleviates the higher in points you go (similar to a lot of game systems, but the divide feels more pronounced in Infinity).  By 300 points you should be able to field a comfortable all-comers list without issue.

The Rules
"Are the rules not the same as the game?" Well, yes and no.  The rules themselves have one thing going for them that cannot be overemphasised - they are freely available.  This includes an amazing wiki, a great army generator program and an active rules forum.  Corvus Belli are selling you models, sure, but they know the rules are the bedrock to those sales.  Unfortunately there are translation problems in the English versions of the rules that make things difficult.  Rules aren't always well spelled out, and the rulebook itself is very badly organised.  As a wiki it's great - click here to jump to rule X, click on exception Y to read about it in full, etc, but as a book when you're actually playing... not so much.

It lies somewhere between Games Workshop's "You know what we meant" and Privateer Press' "Exactly as written" in terms of how well the rules are put to paper, but be prepared to ask a lot of questions while learning the game.  The forums are great support for this, but there's still a lot of room for improvement in the rules themselves.

The Hype
My God, there's a lot of this.  Wargaming veterans seem to suffer an almost Apple-like reality distortion field around this game.  The game is great, but it has issues like every other system.  It isn't inherently "better" than, say Warmahordes or 40k, it's different.  There's a lot less emphasis on list-building in Infinity so those of you who derive enjoyment from that part of the game are going to find it lacking, but by contrast it's a lot harder to field a "bad" list.  Often you'll hear it called "the adult's game", by which they mean "it's complex".  In the ethos of Blizzard, depth from complexity often isn't as rewarding as depth through simplicity.

Fight the hype.  Sing it's praises, but warn people of the flaws, as you would with any other system.

The Bottom Line
Don't listen to those who claim Infinity to be the answer to all your ills - it isn't.  What it is is a very solid, small-scale tactical skirmish game with a lot of very good community support that doesn't hold back on the brutality.  Think Warmahordes with more interaction between players (and more tech, guns, and toys!).  If you loved Necromunda, or if you enjoy Warmachine, chances are you'll like Infinity.  If you're coming from 40k, well, it's not even comparable - get someone to run you through a game, just ask them to go easy on you!

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