Scottish werewolves with machine guns, active camouflage Ninja, cyberpunk Hackers, knights in power armor, AI recreations of ancient Greek heroes, and bizarre aliens species. If that sounds like your sort of game, then do I have good news for you!
Created by Spanish company Corvus Belli, Infinity is a high intensity tactical miniatures game set in the futuristic Human Sphere where warfare has gone largely into the shadows and sword fighting is in vogue. What started as a pen and paper roleplaying setting between friends has become an international hit war-game now in its third edition. Although the system has a lot of work to catch up to some of the big names in the industry like Warhammer, Corvus Belli is clearly living the geek dream and has seen large growth since their release of the newest edition.
So what exactly is a tactical miniature war-game? Games take place between generally two opposing players on a 4’4’ board using objects to denote terrain and 25mm scale models supplied by Corvus Belli. Part of any good war-game is the hobby side, so your game board may be using coke cans and shoeboxes, or it may have highly detailed and painted custom terrain. In the same fashion, your strike team of miniatures may be played unpainted, or with incredible amounts of detail. The gameplay itself is obviously very important, and perhaps the best analogy would be a game in the vein of X-Com.
In a typical game, the two players set up on opposite sides of the board with their strike team, usually 7-14 models each representing a character. The players will have a central mission to accomplish such as destroying power nodes or capturing buildings. They will also have separate secondary missions, like hacking an enemy or escorting a VIP. As with most miniatures games, players take turns making actions with their strike team members one at a time and rolling dice to decide outcomes. However, Infinity makes a big departure with the Reactive Turn mechanic.
With the Reactive Turn you may, even when it is not your turn, have your models take certain actions including shooting. This makes the game play out radically different than most other war-games. Suddenly each action has to be carefully weighed for both long term and immediate risk versus reward. Does your forward observer race to the terminal to capture it knowing that the sniper across the road will take a shot at her? Or do you use your HMG heavy to trade fire with the sniper and hopefully force him to ground? Games are often quick paced and action packed.
They also introduced the Orders system which also greatly changes the flow of the game. Each character on your strike team contributes an order to your Order Pool. As long as those are standard orders, they may actually be spent by any of your characters. So the player is constantly making tactical decisions whether to spread the orders around, or to focus them on a single model to go “Rambo” across the board.
Each strike team is highly individualized, chosen from a pool of available characters from an expanding list of eight factions and fifteen sub factions. Surprisingly, the factions are pretty well balanced even with so many choices. The different factions are as follows:
PanOceania – Also known as PanO, this is the most powerful faction in the Human Sphere. They have the most planets, the most money, the best tech, and they aren’t afraid to use it! This faction also has the most options for Tactical Armored Gear, or TAGs. If you like Mecha, this is the faction for you! They also tend to have lots of high end gadgets, but not as many choices for specialists. They have a wide variety of sub factions, with the highly advanced Neoterran Capitaline Army, the jungle fighters of the Shock Army of Acontecimento, and the power armored knights of the Military Orders. The big draws are the TAGs, holy knights, and lots of advanced gadgets.
Yu Jing – Made up primarily of former East Asian countries, Yu Jing are the second most powerful faction, and they’re not happy about it! They are constantly striving against PanO to try and take the number one spot, although outright warfare is generally avoided. Their specialty is heavy powered armor. The sub factions are the secret police of the Imperial Service, and the highly stylized Japanese Sectorial Army. People are generally drawn in by the heavy power armored units, as well as the futuristic versions of Japanese lore such as the Ninja and Miyamoto Mushashi.
Ariadna – Perhaps the most unique human faction, these are the remnant of the first colonization ship that crash landed and was not found until very recently. As such, this faction still very closely resembles the military forces of the modern day countries that sent the colonists. However they have the unique advantages of a special metal that can cut through anything, and an antipodal alien species whose bite infects humans and morphs them into werewolf-like hybrids. Their specialty is in cheap, lightly armored troops. Sub factions are the Scottish kilt-wearing Caledonian Highlander Army, the frontline French Force De Reponse Rapide Merovingienne, and the ever patriotic American USAriadna Ranger Force. Big stars here are Werewolf Highlanders, patriotism, and lots of tactical operators operating tactically.
Haqqislam – In the futuristic Human Sphere Islam has morphed into more of a philosophy than a religion. It is particularly based on the Golden Age of Islam that focused on science and math. Although a small nation, they have a monopoly on Silk, a chemical compound that is used in nearly every medical procedure. This has made them very wealthy and created the need for a defensive force. Their focus is on skirmishers and other non-standard attackers. The sub factions are the elite assassins of the Hassassin Bahram, and the mercenary army of the Qapu Khalqi. Their assassins that can disguise themselves as enemy units, Mongolian biker gangs, and powerful doctor units draw the eye of many players.
Nomads – With no home territory, the Nomads are an entirely mobile faction, based primarily on three great ark ships. They are the outcasts, misfits, and mad scientists of humanity that created a place where they can be themselves for better or worse, and often function as mercenaries within the Human Sphere. Their specialty is medium infantry and hacking. The sub factions are based on the three ships: the hard bitten criminals-turned-mercenaries of the Jurisdictional Command of Corregidor, and the body modders and social experimentations of the Jurisdictional Command of Bakunin. The third ship, Tunguska doesn’t yet have a sub faction to represent their hackers and infiltrators. Flashiest units here are the highly skilled mercenaries, esoteric religious cults, weird human-animal hybrids, and some of the best hackers in the game.
Combined Army – A conglomerate of alien races led by a powerful and ancient AI called the Evolved Intelligence, the Combined Army has only recently encountered humanity. However, those clashes have been brutal as all-out war between species looms. The Combined paradoxically specialize in having a widely varied selection of units from very different alien species. The sub factions are the hyper-militaristic brutes of the Morat Aggression Force, and the perfidious infiltrators of the Shasvastii Expeditionary Force. The Combine Army gets some rare toys, such as a mind-control gun that can turn enemy units to their side or units that can disguise themselves as the enemy. They also sport a number of very highly trained units.
Aleph – Perhaps humanity’s greatest achievement, Aleph is a true AI that was created to be the protector of humanity. It controls all the minutia of daily life, as well as maintaining peace in the Human Sphere by being outside of any one faction. Of course not everyone is comfortable with Aleph’s all-encompassing presence, such as the Nomads who live outside of its influence. To combat threats to humanity and for propaganda purposes, Aleph specializes in powerful hero units. The sub faction is the Steel Phalanx, also known as the Myrmidon Army, created to combat the menace of its dark AI counterpart the Evolved Intelligence. Aleph is able to create virtual humans with personalities based on ancient earth heroes, giving their army some really cool Greek themed units like Ajax, Achilles, and Atalanta.
Tohaa – the newest faction is a separate alien race, not yet subsumed by the Combined Army. Although their motives and goals are mysterious, they have been fighting the Evolved Intelligence for a very long time, and see humanity as another weapon in their war. Their specialty is in the creation of 3-unit fire teams that are incredibly order efficient. They do not yet have any subfactions. Their big draws are their units in biotech symbiotic suits, as well as deadly viral weaponry.
So how does one get started? After all, unlike a video game you can’t simply put the disc in the tray and go. Luckily, Corvus Belli has made some great options aimed at new players. The most obvious of these is the Operation: Icestorm box. For about $100 USD you get 7 Nomad and 7 PanO models, 3 d20s for each side, markers, a game mat, paper craft scenery to fill it, and a truncated rule book with special scenarios. All-in-all it’s an excellent deal and gives you everything you need to start. For those wanting a different faction, each has one or more starter boxes in the $45-50 USD range. Whichever option you choose, you can buy individual blisters to round your army out as needed. All told, most full size armies will cost $100-$200 USD, usually settling somewhere in the middle. Although it’s certainly no small sum, you won’t want to start with a full sized army anyways, so you can work your way up to it.
Perhaps most surprisingly of all, Corvus Belli also offers free full .pdf’s of the current rule book and the two current expansions on their website. Although they do sell dead tree versions of their books, they only need to be purchased for the background lore and beautiful art. For those just looking to play, the barrier to entry is very low.
Infinity offers a compelling tactical war game with beautiful models and a fun universe for anyone with a friend to play. With two expansions on the horizon, the game seems poised to take a bigger bite out of the market.