Thursday, December 1, 2016

Guest Writer: Playing and Creating Fluffy Infinity Lists

By: Jason Christopher James Farley, aka Admiral JCJF

In many wargaming communities there is social, or more concrete pressure, driven by tournament “soft scoring” to generate lists which fit with the “fluff” or setting and background material for the game. This is often seen as being in opposition to building a “hard” list which is optimized to win and which focuses on taking the mechanically better units and those which synergize most effectively.
The absence of such pressure in Infinity is interesting, and seems to be driven by three key factors. First, the good mechanical balance within the game helps to prevent standout “better” units (with only a few notable exceptions, Ghazi, Kuang and Posthumans I’m looking at you) and equally few truly “weak” choices (Vanguards and Bolts come to mind) which means that most players are using similar units in their lists, regardless of their efforts at optimization. Second, there is a broad acceptance of the idea that everyone will deliberately try to always bring the “best of the best” list they possibly can and so exactly the attitudes which would be criticized as “win at all cost” list building in other systems are lauded in Infinity, probably as a result of the core concept of the game being built around a “small elite team” for special missions and the idea that lists will be constructed specifically to fulfill a mission and with knowledge of the opponent. Lastly there is a disconnect between the setting and background material and the game, created in part by the former being absent from the free online rules which are most commonly used, and separated into different hard copy books which generates a mental division of one from the other.

This does not mean that it is not possible to take a setting and background driven approach to list construction in Infinity however. It is more uncommon, perhaps due to the differences already covered, but also because there is little modelling of it within the community. For those of us who are inclined to try it would be good to look to the examples found within other communities.

In other games there are two main approaches to list building out of a setting and background (or “fluff”) perspective. Firstly, historical games usually start from the perspective of reconstructing actual forces from combat engagements which are being recreated or used as inspiration for the force being used. This can involve extensive historical research and the presentation of the evidence produced in that research being shared with fellow players. Secondly, games from a science fiction or fantasy setting usually build out of the detail provided about the races and their military given in the setting and background material. Players point to stories, organisations and details given in the fictional support for the game which describe units working together or commonly associating or supporting one another and build their lists appropriately.

As Infinity is a science fiction setting but in the near future and with militaries which still somewhat resemble those which exist today (and modern nations still either represented or included within larger factional groupings) both avenues are available for a player who is interested in taking this approach to list construction. One player might delve into the Infinity lore and examine the setting and background material provided by Corvus Belli, and soon the RPG material from Modiphius, to build a list which matches well to a particular world or conflict which is described there. Another player might take a real world military force and rebuild it in the Infinity setting, using the units which match most closely the order of battle from within the Infinity options for the faction which encompasses that nation.

How might this look in practice?

In the case of the former, a player might take the example of a famous combat from the war on Paradiso, such as the fall of the PanOceanian city of Ravensbrucke in the Combined Army 1st Paradiso Offensive. This is the action where the PanOceanian Paradiso Control Force was functionally destroyed while slowing the Combined Army enough for the rest of the Human Sphere to rally. In particular the defence of Ravensbrucke is the battle where the Polynesian Division fought a heroic last stand after losing contact with their command, the survivors of which are now called Croc Men. Fusiliers are the standard line infantry found across the various forces of PanOceania, and they are always supported by the standard range of PanOceania drones. This force will obviously have the support of the elite troopers who will be remembered in legend, so we will back the basic core up with Croc Men. Unique to Paradiso is the Military Order of Teutonic Knights, who exist as the spearhead of the Holy Church in border and contested areas and were thus on Paradiso even before the Combined Army Attack.

With all this in mind we might produce a 200pt Infinity force which looks something like this:

You might even want to keep your WarCor alive, so they can go back to PanOceania to tell the story of the brave defenders of Ravensbrucke and how they stood against the terrible alien odds.
Taking a more historical approach might involve starting with an existing military force, such as the New Zealand Army or Ngati Tumatauenga: The Tribe of the God of War.

You might be interested in basing your force on the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles, from the NZ Brigade. This is a Mechanised Rifle Battalion, which we could assume is now based on NeoTerra.

We might read about the history of this formation, and look at their unit emblem.

In their current format the Mounted Rifles operate modified LAV armoured vehicles, along with support elements. They are used primarily in a reconnaissance and mounted assault role they have the regimental motto “Ake Ake Kia Kaha” or “Stand Strong for Ever” and wear a green beret, which makes me want to include Fusiliers so that I can paint them appropriately.

Reflecting the Mounted Rifles on the Infinity tabletop encourages me to project this modern formation into the future setting. I want to include Peacemakers for their Mechanised Deployment, and a Squalo to represent the armor (even TAGs being fairly lightly armored units and thus perfectly suitable to a Mounted Rifle force). The broad range of support I can reflect with the Machinist and Traumadoc while a Fusilier Core and Auxilia bring in the infantry element.

This force uses a Sectorial, which is a setting driven choice based on the population of NeoTerra largely hailing from Australians and New Zealanders and the high tech style of the NeoTerra Capitaline Army suiting a mechanized force. Light Infantry are backed up by mechanized support elements and light armor as suits this style of unit. We have an inspiration for our painting to supplement the typical PanOceania blue and NeoTerra red.

Thus we can see two very different forces created from the background, setting and history perspectives, one driven by the fictional setting and the other by a projection of a modern military formation. While not a common approach in Infinity I think this is something which we can all appreciate, and some people may enjoy replicating.

Have fun, and fight fluffy!

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