Monday, July 11, 2016

Deep Thought: The Lessons I've Learned After Three Years

It's officially been three years since I started Infinity and I want go into full details about how our love affair started, how we met, or regale you with the story of when I first fell in love with it, but I will tell you it's been a wonderful thing we have together! No relationship is perfect though, you have to grow, learn, and evolve as time shapes the two of you.

Anyway, enough with the weird and awkward metaphors and humanizing, here's what I've learned after playing Infinity for three years:

Lessons I've Learned

These are things I've learned throughout my years of playing Infinity, from my rookie mistakes to more advanced tactics:

Pay Attention to Facing, ALWAYS

I don't really think this needs anymore clarification than that. It's a typical rookie mistake, but it'll quickly be a broken rookie mistake once they/you realize how vital it is. Just make sure your troops are looking in the direction they need to be and be sure they're ready for whatever might possibly come their way.

Don't be Afraid to Ask about Line of Sight, Don't be a Pain About it

Line of sight IS open information, so you can ask for it whenever you want. Don't be afraid to ask about it, but don't let it bog the game down either. Just place your finger somewhere if you're curious and ask your opponent "do any of your models have line of sight to this point," they check, they give you an answer and you move on. I usually try to cap my LoS questions to three a turn though and I make sure they count, not just frivolous things, but the ones that REALLY matter.

You -Can't- Win in the Reactive Phase

I'm sorry, but you can't. The game is won on the active turn. Sure, you can kill a lot of your opponent's models on their turn, especially if you build for it, but the game isn't about the reactive turn. The important component of the game is getting to the objectives and securing them, which is done on the active turn (although it's kind of possible on the reactive).

Burst is King

I don't care about your modifiers and I don't care about how many negative whatevers I have, burst is king. Of course, there are some very niche times when it's not (TO camo reveals on its active turn and shoots you from behind cover), but it's almost always better to have a higher burst than a higher modifier. If you're shooting at a 10 with 4 shots and your opponent is shooting once at 12, you still have a better chance of success than them, because you have  higher chance of scoring those sweet criticals.

Now, don't get me wrong, this game is all about the modifiers, but you don't always need to stack a +12 on you and a -12 on your opponent to win. Sometimes it just takes way too many orders to do that efficiently, so you might have to go in and just hope your higher burst will win the day, especially if the two of you are rolling for very similar target numbers. It's almost always a better idea to make sure your target number is higher though, no doubt about it, but higher modifiers don't win you games, burst does.


Here's a general guide on how I approach listbuilding:

  1. Toss in your usual specialists
  2. Add in your staples, the things you can't play without
  3. Add in whatever gimmick or trick you want for the list
  4. Start throwing in other units you like (staples) or another gimmick/trick to your lists
  5. Add in more specialists, order generators or upgrade whatever you've already put into the list to specialist options or heavier weapon choices
  6. Lastly, check if you've reach about 50% specialists, 25% killing power and 25% defensive power (of course these vary depending on personal preference), if not, correct it (it is possible to have units that fill a few of these roles at once)
These are pretty rudimentary guidelines that I've kind of learned over all of my years of playing wargames, with a few tweaks for Infinity.

Nothing is Ever Unbeatable

The key philosophy in Infinity: nothing is invincible. This isn't like most other wargames where no matter what you try, you'll never be able to wound your target, but Infinity it's possible. The cheapest, grimiest troop can eliminate the biggest baddest one, no matter what. Although, there might be times where you'd have a negative modifier higher than your BS, but you'll always have the necessary tools to get any job done in your list (unless you just really skewed the build of your list that bad). Sure, that TAG might seem like it's invincible the first time you face it and sure, that Hidden Deployed HMG, Heavy Infantry's being a real pain, but you'll learn some counters for everything soon enough, both hard and soft ones (especially if you keep following this blog ;) ).

Roughly Calculate the Efficiency of a Troop (Pride of Rodina style)

Now we're really getting into some deeper stuff here.

Epitome of six point trooops, if you take the HMG off
For the first part of this, think of it this way; the longer a trooper stays alive, the more use out of its order you get. a six point troop who dies on turn one before you even get to use it had a worthless order, so you paid 6 points for nothing (in this regard, we'll get to this in the next paragraph). If you take a 60 point trooper who survived three rounds, then you got three orders at 20 points. Not too bad, right?

The tricky part is when you take into consideration how many orders those troops can "soak". The aforementioned 6 point trooper who died on turn one, forced your opponent to spend an order moving around the trooper and then another one to kill it. All-in-all, the little guy was actually worth two orders than, meaning you denied your opponent two orders for the cost of 6 points which cost you 3 points a piece to do. Not the most efficient use, but it was cheap enough to help out and possibly protect a more valuable trooper.

60 point troop
Let us consider the 60 point troop who made it until turn three, this troop was able to eliminate a troop on turn on, two on turn two and one on turn three, on your active turn as the second player, no reactive kills. That means this troop was able to deny your opponent 4 orders (two for turn one kill, two for turn two kills, none for turn three). In addition to this, this same troop was able to waste 11 of your opponent's orders over the course of the game (forcing them to reposition, failed shots, etc.), for a total of 15 wasted orders. That means you spent 4 points per opponent order, not that shabby, but the 6 point trooper was more efficient.

Combine order cost and order denial to get a rough estimate of the total worth of a trooper;

  • 6 point trooper: 6 points for 0 orders, 3 points to deny an order 
    • Total order worth (6/[0+3]) = 2
  • 60 point trooper: 20 points for an order, 4 points to deny an order
    • Total (60/[3+15]) = 3.3 repeating
Turns out the little guy actually had more efficiency for their points than the more expensive troop this time around. Of course, not everyone will equate active turn order worth the same as enemy order denial, but in my mental equations I do. Some people consider active orders far more valuable, which will definitely skew the points in favor of the bigger troop instead.

If you play this game enough times, you'll quickly be able to count up order denial cost and order worth to roughly estimate the total efficiency of a troop. Do note that I didn't add any measurement of how many orders it took the troopers to take out the enemy orders or to achieve any objectives either, those are things to consider too, as well as mobility. What I provided was a rough estimate and if you're interested to see the whole thing, do feel free to ask me and I'd be more than happy to go through the entire process of measuring a troop's efficiency!

P.S. Expect to see a massive amount of photos of my Infinity collection soon.

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