Wednesday, May 10, 2017

HtHoI: Freddie Barnes

It's that time of the month again: to humanize the humans behind Infinity and the community we enjoy so much! Freddie Barnes is this week's subject, so get ready to learn some more about the people in the community. For reference, I'm the italicized bits and he's the regular font bits.

-What do you currently do for a living?  

I’m a PhD student studying Counselling Psychology. Two days a week I work as a therapist / counselor and two days a week I attend seminars. Essentially I split my time between seeing clients and writing a thesis.

-Do you have a degree or degrees? What are they in? Do you think they help you with playing Infinity or when interacting with the community? 

I have a degree in Experimental Psychology, which is psychology with a specific focus on biology and neuroscience. I then specialized with clinical units in the final year of my degree and ended up going into counselling psychology thereafter due to various philosophical concerns with the clinical psychology sector. 

I’ve done a lot of statistics as part of my academic training, which I find helps a lot with decision-making in Infinity. I tend to play the game by the numbers, and having an understanding of how the math behind the dice works is really helpful because it puts everything into context. I run a lot of scenario simulations on the dice calculator when I’m bored, and from that I’ve been able to extrapolate some basic rules about the most effective ways to ensure success in face-to-face rolls. 

Another thing that I find helpful is being aware of people’s tendencies and instincts, which I’ve become fairly attuned to through my work. I like to get a good understanding of the kinds of units that people feel threatened by or scared of, and those that don’t affect people to the same extent. I use this a lot with holoprojectors and deployment positioning in order to fake areas of weakness or strength in my force. This can help to coerce an opponent into moving in a predictable way, which is obviously favorable for me.

I try to balance the mathematical part of the game with the psychological part. For example, a Lasiq with viral sniper might be more psychologically effective as a deterrent than it is mathematically (i.e it’s very scary but actually not too great at succeeding with face-to-face rolls). A Sekban with a heavy rocket launcher could be more the other way around (i.e. it might bother opponents less psychologically but be remarkably potent in face-to-face encounters). Sometimes having a unit that is psychologically threatening but mathematically poor is good enough as a source of zone control. Other times you want a unit that doesn’t appear as threatening but is actually mathematically deadly in order to set traps for your opponent. I think as a psychologist I’m aware of both sides of the game, which can be helpful.


-If you had one wish, what would you wish for?  

I don’t really have any wishes in life generally. I’m content! Getting my PhD would be nice, but I’m on the way!

-Where do you live? What store do you usually play at?

I live in Guildford in the UK, and I play at Ibuywargames in Woking. Shout out to all the lovely people that go to the store!

Shhhh! Don't shout too loud! You'll wake the Antipode!

-What faction/s do you play? 

I’m a Haqqislam guy through and through. I’ve been tempted by other factions but never jumped ship. I really like the diversity that Haqq has. It does everything in the game a little bit. For example, Azra’il are among the cheapest examples of ARM5, 2W units in the entire game, and Al Fasid’s are among the best examples of premium versions of that template. Their light infantry ranges from the humble Ghulam to the costly Zhayedan. They have Asawira as BS14 frontline fighters, and Al-Djabel as a CC23 close-combat specialist. It’s a faction that can be played in completely different ways and still offer success. I love that.

-Can you give us the full load down on how, when, and why you started playing Infinity?  

After leaving university I was looking for a hobby that had competitive elements, lots of room for customization, and didn’t cost an awful lot of money. I’d played a lot of Magic The Gathering through university, and 40k when I was a child. Both of these had taken their toll on my (or my parents!) wallets so I really wanted to find something that was kinder in this respect. I actually initially started going back to 40k again and looking at variations of the game that utilize smaller forces such as Necromunda, but then I discovered Infinity after doing some digging around. I was really impressed by the quality of the figures and preferred the near-future aesthetic of the game as opposed to other systems that feel a bit more ‘alien’. 

I was attracted to Haqqislam due to the lore and so I ordered myself the starter box. That was roughly 2 years ago now, I think. I started testing out the rules with my fiancĂ©, who picked up the Nomad starter, and haven’t looked back since!

-What do you do for the Infinity community? Or, what have you done already? Don’t be humble let us know about everything! 

At the moment I run the blog Under Bourak’s Sun, which is focused on Haqqislam and exploring the game as a newer player. Unfortunately I can’t do too much given all the time I spend writing my thesis, so that’s it for now.

-What is your biggest Infinity accomplishment? 

My biggest accomplishments are moments where I think I’ve improved from a skill perspective, or learned something new. For example, I’ve recently started to reach a point where every time I run a Fiday it successfully earns its points back in kills before dying. This feels like an accomplishment to me because when I first started out I would really struggle to secure kills with finesse units like the Fiday without them just dying horribly unsuccessful deaths.

I suppose this doesn’t like a very exciting accomplishment, but, for me personally, accomplishment is how I feel I’ve improved over the long-term rather than specific and individual moments.

-What would you like to see in Infinity in the future?

More Lasiq options! It would be nice if they got a little bit of love. At the moment you can take a fireteam of Lasiqs in Hassassins but they’re only availability 4 (so you can’t get the BS bonus from having a team of 5) and they lack all sorts of useful tools. Some kind of specialist would be great, as would a viral marksman rifle (all appropriately costed, of course – I’m not asking for something too absurd). A forward observer option would be thematic, because Lasiqs are supposed to oversee operations, and it would help in-game a lot. At the moment I don’t see them talked about very favourably because you only get the viral rifle or the viral sniper options and no specialists. It makes them a bit limited, which is a shame because they’re great troops otherwise.

I think there’s still design space within Hassassins for a long-range finesse shooter as well. Lasiqs fit the bill to some extent but I find it odd their BS is only 12 and that they lack Marksmanship, given that they’re supposed to be accomplished sharpshooters in the lore. The description given by CB is a bit strange because it’s written that Lasiqs prioritise movement over stealth, and yet they have 4-2 MOV and mimetism. I think that the role of sharpshooter within Hassassins needs to be revisited and refined a little. I’m not sure it’s as well developed as it could be and the current description of Lasiqs in the lore doesn’t quite match up to the unit profile. I was kind of thinking of a unit profile similar to Knauf’s in some ways, with the higher BS, the 4-4 MOV and the MSV1, but perhaps losing the mimetism. That would fill a gap. So there you go CB – go wild with it. Give Hassassins a glass-cannon sniper pretty please? Haha.

-Do you have any hobbies outside of Infinity? What are they? 

I do an awful lot of philosophy and psychology reading in addition to my formal studies, which I’m really keen on. I think that there’s a lot happening within neuroscience that’s really exciting right now. I also play way too much Dota 2. Waaaay too much.

Image result for dota 2

-Is there anything else you’d like the Infinity community to know about you? 

Not really! Thanks for reading!

A humble man, much like the faction he favors so much.

And that's Freddie for you! Remember, try to stay cool under Bourak's sun and don't get too much exposure!

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