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Visions of Infinity

 Post subject: Visions of Infinity
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 3:12 am 
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So I went and looked into Infinity (and Infinity looked into me :D ). Now I'm back to share my thoughts with anyone in the Eastern Fringe contingent that might be interested. And, sadly, they are not very happy thoughts. I was really hoping for a great game. What I got is generally okay, and I'd still play it and probably have fun, and there are some great elements in there, but there is so much in the game that just feels off to me that Infinity as a whole comes over as a rather mediocre experience. Let's take a closer look, shall we? This is all of course strictly IMHO. And I should warn you, this will be a looong rant. Maybe I should have submitted it as an article?

Right, first off: the miniatures. One word: beautiful. Really superb work. Like with every miniature line, there are some models that I like less (there are some that were infected with the butt-ugly face disease which always claims a few victims), but on the whole those are some of the very best pieces I've ever seen. They have a very unique feel, quite different to the miniatures from Citadel and Target Games which I'm most used to. They look to be overall slimmer, taller, more lithe and better proportioned than most other miniatures I've seen to date, which always seemed a little stocky and big boned to me. And the obvious anime styling does not hurt either. The sculptors are Masamune Shirow fans, no doubt about it. The Yu Jing Guijia and Haquislam Maghariba (obviously inspired by Appleseed Landmates and GitS Fuchikomas, respectively) are dead giveaways (not to mention Nomad Reverend Moiras' almost naked bums, Motoko Kusanagi style :D ). In all, I love them and won't hesitate to buy some, if I can only spare the expense. But then again, I've been noted for having weird taste before, as I find myself liking most of the new Citadel miniatures that most everybody here hates and complains about...

Second, the fluff. In all honesty I must say I'm not that wildly enthusiastic abut it. It feels rather bland: oh look, five competing human factions made up of cultural groups colonizing space and a terrible, evil alien alliance army that wants to kill them all. Will the humans unite in the face of the menace, or will they fall, absorbed with their own petty quarrels? So, so the drama (yawn). This could be actually interesting, if it hadn't been done to death before, by Warzone, Void and even, after a fashion, Battletech, just to name a few. Still, being a reheated dish, the universe of Infinity is reheated and spiced fairly well, at least for my taste. It's written well, the history is up to standards and the human factions and aliens have enough of an unique identity to be interesting. A quick rundown (you can read a much better description on the official site and the Wiki):

179 years from now, the multi-planetary nations of the Human Sphere are superficially united under the O-12 - a kind of United Nations. It controls interstellar travel by controlling the Circulars - giant space ships using worm-holes to get from system to system, and keeps the peace with the help of ALEPH - an omnipresent AI overseeing all aspects of life and the Maya (Infinity's cute name for the interplanetary internet). Technology is advanced to the point where a person's mind may be stored digitally (in an implant called Cube) and after their death brought back to life in a cloned body. The factions, which are amalgamates of former Earth cultures, are as follows:
Pan-Oceania: the biggest, most influential player, made up of the former cultures and countries of Europe, Oceania and India. Their technology and economy is the most advanced. The Church plays an important role in society and politics. Proud and headstrong.
Yu-Jing: former far east united under the influence of (presumably still Communist) China, the second in importance and power. They are cautious and calculating, preferring subtle schemes to open conflict. Their forces seem to favor assault over long range and contain a higher proportion of powered armor infantry.
Haqquislam: the New Islam, a breakaway faction created by a visionary man who didn't like the path to self-destruction he saw his culture and religion on. Centered on learning and humanism. They have the most advanced bio and medical science and a current monopoly on the drug needed to resuscitate Cube stored personalities, which gives them weight on the interstellar scene they would otherwise not possess, ruling only one planet as they are.
The Nomads: living and traveling on three gigantic starships, a nation of outcasts, misfits, dissenters and free spirits, refusing to accept the control of O-12 and ALEF. Masters of information technology and espionage. Seen as mercenary, wild and untrustworthy.
Ariadna: descendants of the first, multi-national colony ship from Earth that was lost in transit. A century of isolation created a somewhat technologically backwards but resourceful, hardy and independent people. Their forces make use of the semi-sentient wolf-like natives of their planet.
The alien threat comes in the form of the Combined Army: an alliance of several alien races, conquered and ruled over by the Evolved Intelligence, a powerful alien AI of unknown origin. It sends its armies crusading across the galaxy to subjugate or eradicate all life. Currently only a relatively small contingent invaded known space, but it resisted all attempts of counterattack and its strength does not bode well for humanity after the main force arrives. The only force to possess a technique that allows hacking of the very minds of enemy soldiers. The ranks of CA contain creatures ranging from xenomorph-like close combat nightmares, through bug men equipped with symbiotic bio-rifles, to Klingon-esque religious fanatics.

The only one that falls a little flat to me is Ariadna - Americans, Russians and Scots? Their units are quite fun when considered separately, but when viewed together they look like a haphazard collection of motives the authors thought were cool and wanted to include in the setting but couldn't find a place for it, so they threw them all together to form a new faction that feels rather rushed and mismatched (but the miniatures still look lovely :D ). And I realize the fluff has a good explanation for it, and their struggle for identity may be actually their defining, most appealing aspect - it just falls a little flat for me, but that's just me.

A point in Infinity's favor is that it avoids some setting elements that, with prolonged exposure, managed to became my pet peeves. I've had enough of grim, dark, gothic universes in which There Is Only War™, everybody is out to get everybody all the time, individuals are meaningless cogs in the machine of the oppressive state, hate and prejudice are the social norm and (and this is what pisses me off the most every time I see it) technology is a dark, forbidden / lost / misunderstood power shrouded in idiotic religious ritual, myth and superstition. It was fun the first time, but now it just feels retarded :( (No offence to WH40K fans, despite everything I actually like the game enough myself, but its atmosphere is a just a little stifling for my personality. One such game is enough, thank you, I don't need to see it replicated endlessly.). I realize the Infinity universe is not all fun and games either, but at least someone could live there and actually be happy - and nobody prays to their toaster :D .

One more minor point are the names. Most of the nomenclature in the game universe feels somewhat weird to me (Maya, ALEF, Algauciles, Akalis, Guiland etc.) but that's probably just the language barrier.
To summarize, the setting didn't strike me as particularly stellar, but it definitely doesn't suck either. Most of the factions are interesting enough and I had no trouble finding a place for myself in the universe - Yu Jing FTW! :D .

Third, let's talk about the actual play mechanics. The basic die-rolling mechanic is simple: roll equal to or lower than the pertinent attribute on D20 to succeed. It gets a more fancy with Face-to-Face rolls which are made when two models directly oppose each other, for example in close combat. Both roll and the final result depends on their individual performance: if both fail then (obviously) no one wins, if one succeeds and the other fails the one to succeed is the overall winner, if both succeed then the winner is the one who rolled higher. It works well for close combat or opposed hacking, but looks strange when applied to shooting, which happens when a model shot at by an enemy returns fire as their Automatic Reaction Order (more on ARO in a moment). The shooter that wins the roll-off hits, but only with those shots whose to hit roll was both successful and higher then the enemy to hit roll. The one to loose the roll-off misses altogether, even if his to hit rolls were successful. I hope the WTF factor comes from the strangeness of the mechanic rather than my poor explanation...

The game is balanced with small, skirmish level forces and battles in mind.

It uses no squad system - when constructing a force you may buy whatever models you wish, regardless of type, so you may end up with an "army" made up of a single representative of every unit type in your army list - which is somewhat strange.

Infinity also uses the pre-equipped soldiers mechanic, meaning you don't get to choose weapons and equipment for your soldiers, rather you have to buy models which already have defined and unchangeable gear. This does not pose much of a problem, as every unit type has models with a broad range of different weapon and equipment sets, but is a little too inflexible for my tastes. It means that, if you want to have the ability to use, for example, smoke grenades (which seem to me to be essential equipment because of the ARO), you are forced to buy models for your army that have them as part of their standard gear, instead of adding them to any convenient model. This creates what I think is an artificial and arbitrary limitation on your force selection.

All forces use the same equipment and weapons (with some minor differences in case of the lower-tech Ariadna and the aliens). They may look different on the model, but an assault rifle has the same stats weather wielded by a Pan-Oceania Fussilier or Nomad Zero or growing from the arm of a Combined Army Iskeller. I guess this makes sense, at least in the case of the human forces, where the technology is so similar as to make no real difference (in 40K a Lasgun is a Lasgun, regardless of which Imperium planet it was made on). But I kind of miss Warzone's distinct armories. It also removes one variable from the equation, making the game more predictable which may be seen as both good and bad.

The game has some nice camouflage rules. Models with appropriate special rules may be deployed as camouflage markers. Until they reveal themselves by doing anything other than moving or the enemy models Discover it, the opponent has no idea what type of unit it is and may not attack it. And several such models may be represented by a single marker. Models with Thermo-Optical cammo may be deployed in complete secret, by noting down their position. Even after discovery enemy models have penalties to hitting such models. What is less nice is the fact that models without camouflage rules may not hide at all.

The game appears to be shooting-heavy. Even basic rifles may fire three times in a single action, whereas in close combat a single action equates to a single attack.

Wounding a model is a two step process: To Hit roll by the attacker and, if it's successful, an Armor roll by the target.

A models that looses its last wound is not immediately killed. Instead it is placed prone and counted as incapacitated. It only becomes a casualty after it is wounded again or a medic botches his roll to revive it or is unavailable. Some special types of ammunition and close combat weapons, designated as "Shock", bypass the incapacitated state and kill the model outright if they strip it of its last wound.

EMP weapons are an important part of the Infinity arsenal, used to incapacitate power armored troops, combat remotes and high-tech equipment. Their effects may be recovered from with the help of engineers.

All forces have their own medics and combat engineers.

The turn sequence is the old and tried I-Go-You-Go, with an Order Reserve system governing your actions in your turn. I have never before seen a system like the Order Reserve system, and I must say it doesn't look too hot. You have as many Orders as you have miniatures and you may spend them in any way you wish. If you have more then 10 fighters you have to split them into groups of no more then 10 and the groups can't share orders. From a commonsensical point of view the system simply fails to make sense. So, one turn all of your soldiers get to perform one action each, but the next turn 90% just stand there doing nothing while 10% become the Flash and perform 10 actions each? I realize a miniature wargame is just an abstraction of a real conflict, but this is very far beyond any abstraction level that I've seen to date. No matter how abstracted the time duration that a single turn represents is, every soldier should be able to perform exactly the same amount of actions. He may decide to do nothing, but how can that mean that his friend can do more? They are living in the same time, they can't borrow it to one another. If I choose to do nothing for 5 minutes, that doesn't normally mean that my friend can squeeze 10 minutes worth of action into the same 5 minutes, now does it? One good thing about the system I have to honestly say, the game appears well balanced against actual abuse of this "cheerleading" system. There are no units so powerful as to be invincible and anyone thinking he may buy a bunch of cannon fodder to provide Orders for a single super-soldier who will then single-handedly butcher all opposition will quickly find himself outmaneuvered, overwhelmed and his cheerleaders eliminated. Unfortunately part of the balance comes from the ARO system.

Let's now talk about the Automatic Reaction Orders then. Every enemy fighter that can see your fighter can always react to every of your fighter's actions. Every time. And then act at full effectiveness in his own turn. So, in addition to being simply extremely brutal to the enemy, the ARO make the time warp even worse. Not only can your soldiers act in their own time, they also gain additional time for action for every enemy that they are able to see act - but only if they see him. So again, in the same amount of time (the enemy turn) one of your soldiers gets to act (for example) 5 times but another can't do anything. I hope you see what I'm getting at.

In light of all that the fact that a model has to be physically touching a piece of cover to gain any benefits from it, regardless of how much of him it is hiding from view, or that cover and camouflage to hit penalties do not stack are just a minor annoyances.

Finally we come to Hacking, probably the most original wargame mechanic I've seen to date. The basic Hacking mechanics are fine. A Hacker uses an Order, makes a Willpower check and if he succeeds he accomplishes whatever he set out to do. Hacking needs no line of sight. A Hacker may make hacking attacks against other Hackers (to fry their brains), guided missiles (to make them miss) and certain other units (more on this in a moment), or may hack defensively, defending friendly units from enemy hacking. Defensive hacking has an effectively unlimited range, but offensive hacking may only be done at 8 inches. It's a little strange, but I accept that as a game balance thing and won't make a fuss about it. I also won't complain about the realism of the general idea of hacking enemy units on the battlefield or frying other hackers through the net - it's a cyberpunk concept of dubious realism (linking your brain directly to a computer would have to have some insane advantages over hacking with a keyboard and screen for it to be worth risking getting your brains cooked by your opponent's firewall), but it has enough appeal that I can work and live with it, and anyway, discussion on it really belongs on a different forum. No, where it falls apart for me is the rules governing the possible effects of hacking of enemy armor units. Allow me to explain.
There are three main types of units (other than Hackers) in Infinity a Hacker may influence with his ability:
Heavy Infantry (HI): guys and gals wearing light powered armor, like WH40K Space Marine Power Armor, or, for the more anime inclined, Hardsuits from Bubblegum Crisis;
Tactical Armored Gears (TAG): heavy powered armor bordering on mecha, between WH40K Space Marine Terminators and Tau Battlesuits, or, again for the anime fans, like the Landmates of Appleseed fame; It is worth noting that some types of TAGs do not actually have a pilot physically inside them, instead they possess the Remote Presence attribute, which, fluff-wise, makes them functionally identical to:
Remotes (REM): semi-autonomous combat robots not unlike Tau Drones in WH40K, but relying more on remote orders rather than their own AI; All possess the Remote Presence attribute.
All of the above may be hacked and Immobilized, in which case they may do nothing except try to reboot their systems to free themselves. I'm okay with that, look below for an explanation. What I'm not okay with, is the Possession rule. If the Hacker successfully performs another hacking order on an already Immobilized unit of one certain type from the above three, he takes Possession of it. From now on, until the model manages to reboot, it is treated as part of the force of the player who controls the Hacker that performed the hack. So what's not to like you ask? So you can possess your enemy's Remotes and turn them against him. It's cool. The Shadowrun RPG has rules like that. Yeah, it's cool. But the problem is you guessed the unit type wrong. It's not the Remotes that may be Possessed. It's the TAGs.
So, a hacker can Immobilize HIs, TAGs and Remotes. And he can Possess TAGs. Can you guess what I'm going to say? Exactly - this makes no sense. And I'm not the only one to think so. People have asked about it on the Infinity forums. To the complaint why is it TAGs that can be Possessed and not Remotes, the gurus said (quoted directly):

TAGs due to their nature are more vulnerable to hacking, hence they can be Possessed.
A HI is not piloted, the user moves using his muscles to make it move, the hacker probably shuts down the power supply to Immobilize it.
Same goes for REM who are semi-intelligent so probably their AI is isolated from the battle network for security purposes and the Hacker must shut their power supply or haywire their IFF to Immobilize them.
TAGs on the other hand are piloted, the controls are there and a skilled hacker can take them over making the pilot unable to control the TAG.


And the reason that you can hack a TAG even with a pilot is that you just take over the piloting controls. The body of the pilot can't put up enough resistance to stop you doing anything like in an HI so they can just take over and you get to be the passenger.

To my understanding of things something is very wrong here. How can a Remote's combat AI be isolated from the net? That's the way it gets its orders - it's a Remote after all. It has some autonomy, but is mainly ordered about, well, remotely. Sure, its brain is not directly plugged into Maya, but it has a communications connection for receiving orders and sending reports - otherwise, how could it be remotely operated? So an indirect connection exists, and a hacker can exploit this and get into its brain that way (at least that's the way it seems to work in the movies), making the Remote his slave (dance, puppet, dance! :twisted: ). Hell, he doesn't even have to brainwash the thing, he may "just" decode the enemy comm. frequency and scrambling protocol and spoof the Remote's command signal, sending it false orders. But how can he Possess a TAG with a pilot inside? They say the pilot is not strong enough to fight the TAGs limbs if they decide to move on their own at the hacker's urging. My question is: how could the hacker possibly gain access to the TAG's movement controls? It is they, and not a Remote's brain, that would be completely isolated from Maya. Because why should they be connected? The pilot is the connection - he receives orders by comm. and follows them, making the TAG move by manually operating the controls. Even if the controls are not manual but instead a neural interface, and even if the comm. link is also a neural link, there is still the pilot's mind in between them. And his mind can't be hacked (at least not without a Sepsitor - a wicked hacking virus the aliens use). There's absolutely no reason for the TAG's movement and/or power supply controls to be connected to the net, even in the most indirect way. The only reason for such a connection to exist would be to allow a hacker to Possess the TAG - and that would be just plain silly (not to use heavier words), wouldn't it? All of the above also applies to HIs. Of course when the TAG has no pilot physically inside it but instead has the Remote Presence attribute, then, at least for the purpose of hacking, it stops being a TAG and becomes a Remote, and so may be Possessed with exactly the same rationale. So I think that the ability to Possess a certain unit should not be arbitrarily dependant on its type, but rather on weather it has or hasn't the Remote Presence trait.
But then, somebody might ask, going by the train of logic I'm presenting above, how can a HI or non-remote TAG be Immobilized by the hacker? What I imagined is, the Hacker doesn't get into their control systems. Instead, he hacks and scrambles their sensors, comm. and tactical systems, which could conceivably be connected to the net (for example to receive IFF signals, situational updates and remote targeting data and just plain orders). So he doesn't paralyze their limbs directly, but instead makes them blind, deaf and stupid. :D I imagined His, TAGs and Remotes rely on and make use of those systems much more than normal infantry. Otherwise a hacker might be able to paralyze any unit, except the most "primitive" ones. Which would be quite interesting I think, but would be a huge change to make to the game.
So that's my case. That all being said, I really like the hacking rules inclusion in the game. They are cool. But they wouldn't become any less cool, quite the opposite I think, if they made just a little more sense.

Summing it all up, Infinity is not a terrible game. If nothing else it has some interesting ideas. But there are just too many WTF? elements in its design for me to call it a very good game either. And I'm quite lenient when it comes to stuff like that. Robbie for example will most probably rip Infinity a new one. :D

So what do you think? Feel free to ask me to clarify any point (I realize this stream of consciousness review is a little disjointed) or about anything I failed to mention.

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 Post subject: Re: Visions of Infinity
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:26 am 
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Unctuous Toady
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I'm really taken aback by the size and depth of this review Kathara Khan. Thanks so much for such a thorough, complete and unsolicited report! :D


Kathara Khan wrote:
Second, the fluff. In all honesty I must say I'm not that wildly enthusiastic abut it. It feels rather bland: oh look, five competing human factions made up of cultural groups colonizing space and a terrible, evil alien alliance army that wants to kill them all. Will the humans unite in the face of the menace, or will they fall, absorbed with their own petty quarrels? So, so the drama (yawn). This could be actually interesting, if it hadn't been done to death before, by Warzone, Void and even, after a fashion, Battletech, just to name a few. Still, being a reheated dish, the universe of Infinity is reheated and spiced fairly well, at least for my taste. It's written well, the history is up to standards and the human factions and aliens have enough of an unique identity to be interesting. A quick rundown (you can read a much better description on the official site and the Wiki):


Yeah, I absolutely noticed the Void/Warzone-esque background when I read about the game's setting. I think its a workable setup since in any miniature game you always want to have maximum leeway for allowing every faction to battle every other faction. Personally if my gaming group were to take up Infinity than I would try to push all the players to take one of the human factions. Playing the "enemy" army always seems to limiting for constructing cool campaigns and match ups. Though they sound like they are going to have some interesting miniatures.



Kathara Khan wrote:
The game is balanced with small, skirmish level forces and battles in mind.


I'm curious and you didn't mention it in your review, have you played the game yet? Or are your observations based mainly from having read the rules coupled with years worth of experience in miniature gaming?

Kathara Khan wrote:
It uses no squad system - when constructing a force you may buy whatever models you wish, regardless of type, so you may end up with an "army" made up of a single representative of every unit type in your army list - which is somewhat strange.


Interesting. So do you think the rules will sort of max out at a certain size level beyond which games will be too slow or unworkable? I'm really much more into the skirmish type rules myself, so games that aren't geared toward massive 100+ models per side battles are always welcome additions to the pool of available games in the market as far as I'm concerned.

Kathara Khan wrote:
Infinity also uses the pre-equipped soldiers mechanic, meaning you don't get to choose weapons and equipment for your soldiers, rather you have to buy models which already have defined and unchangeable gear. This does not pose much of a problem, as every unit type has models with a broad range of different weapon and equipment sets, but is a little too inflexible for my tastes. It means that, if you want to have the ability to use, for example, smoke grenades (which seem to me to be essential equipment because of the ARO), you are forced to buy models for your army that have them as part of their standard gear, instead of adding them to any convenient model. This creates what I think is an artificial and arbitrary limitation on your force selection.


Conversions and customization of both your models and your forces has become a way of life with GW games. I'm surprised that Infinity doesn't try to capitalize on this key element of the hobby. I think that maybe this is a result of focusing more on the competative aspect of the hobby while realizing the limitations of just how many miniatures a fledgling gaming company can release/support. Rezolution basically does the same thing, it features a very cookie cutter system for allowing you to equip your miniatures. Your second in command for the Ronin, if I recall, can have either twin pistols or an assualt rifle as their only option, everything else is cast in stone.


Kathara Khan wrote:
All forces use the same equipment and weapons (with some minor differences in case of the lower-tech Ariadna and the aliens). They may look different on the model, but an assault rifle has the same stats weather wielded by a Pan-Oceania Fussilier or Nomad Zero or growing from the arm of a Combined Army Iskeller. I guess this makes sense, at least in the case of the human forces, where the technology is so similar as to make no real difference (in 40K a Lasgun is a Lasgun, regardless of which Imperium planet it was made on). But I kind of miss Warzone's distinct armories. It also removes one variable from the equation, making the game more predictable which may be seen as both good and bad.


I like the generic weapons of the 40K universe a lot. It makes the game just a few more micro-steps removed from systems that try to distinguish every little difference in the weapons. At the same time I really like how Warzone differentiated every faction's equipment and really made you aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each during game play. I like both options for different reasons. But at the end of the day I prefer the Rogue Trader/Necromunda system better where you focus on comparing the differences of a lasgun vs. an autogun vs. a boltgun rather than a system that makes you dink around with which assualt rifle out of ten different options has the best performance. I think that Rezolution takes the more broad perspective on weapons as well.


Kathara Khan wrote:
The turn sequence is the old and tried I-Go-You-Go, with an Order Reserve system governing your actions in your turn. I have never before seen a system like the Order Reserve system, and I must say it doesn't look too hot. You have as many Orders as you have miniatures and you may spend them in any way you wish. If you have more then 10 fighters you have to split them into groups of no more then 10 and the groups can't share orders. From a commonsensical point of view the system simply fails to make sense. So, one turn all of your soldiers get to perform one action each, but the next turn 90% just stand there doing nothing while 10% become the Flash and perform 10 actions each? I realize a miniature wargame is just an abstraction of a real conflict, but this is very far beyond any abstraction level that I've seen to date. No matter how abstracted the time duration that a single turn represents is, every soldier should be able to perform exactly the same amount of actions. He may decide to do nothing, but how can that mean that his friend can do more? They are living in the same time, they can't borrow it to one another. If I choose to do nothing for 5 minutes, that doesn't normally mean that my friend can squeeze 10 minutes worth of action into the same 5 minutes, now does it? One good thing about the system I have to honestly say, the game appears well balanced against actual abuse of this "cheerleading" system. There are no units so powerful as to be invincible and anyone thinking he may buy a bunch of cannon fodder to provide Orders for a single super-soldier who will then single-handedly butcher all opposition will quickly find himself outmaneuvered, overwhelmed and his cheerleaders eliminated. Unfortunately part of the balance comes from the ARO system.


Ok, I don't quite understand this part, could you explain more about it? How do the orders work? Do you assign orders to each unit before the turn begins? Or do you allocated orders dynamically as the turn progresses? Could you give a simple example of how it might work?


Kathara Khan wrote:
Let's now talk about the Automatic Reaction Orders then. Every enemy fighter that can see your fighter can always react to every of your fighter's actions. Every time. And then act at full effectiveness in his own turn. So, in addition to being simply extremely brutal to the enemy, the ARO make the time warp even worse. Not only can your soldiers act in their own time, they also gain additional time for action for every enemy that they are able to see act - but only if they see him. So again, in the same amount of time (the enemy turn) one of your soldiers gets to act (for example) 5 times but another can't do anything. I hope you see what I'm getting at.


Your whole discription makes sense until this last sentence. I take it you are saying that your unit can't fire 5 times during the enemy turn because he simply has no targets. Is that right? I will paraphrase how I understand it to work this way... In Infinity every unit automatically has Unlimited Overwatch Fire™ which lets them shoot at any viable target during the opposing player's turn. That seems simple enough, though I'm left wondering if it will bog down the game too much or cause other problems. It might be really cool in creating an environment like modern firefights where no reasonable combatant wants to expose themselves to enemy fire.


Kathara Khan wrote:
In light of all that the fact that a model has to be physically touching a piece of cover to gain any benefits from it, regardless of how much of him it is hiding from view, or that cover and camouflage to hit penalties do not stack are just a minor annoyances.


I'm just guessing here, but it seems to me that touching cover is the similar to hiding in Necromunda. So in Necromunda miniatures just naturally benefit from cover when it gets in the way of a shot, but to specifically attempt to maximize cover (by hiding) you have to meet certain specific criteria. So in Infinity that means that models not touching cover are assumed to by standing (or moving) fully upright at all times. It is only when you are in contact with cover that you make a special effort to use it to your benefit. It makes a bit more sense in a highly mobile and confusing battlefield where fire could come from anywhere. Its also kind of cinematic.

----------------

I also thought that the hacking thing was a really unique/novel idea as well. For some reason I keep making comparisons to the Rezolution rules in this post (maybe because they are one of the few sets of new/current miniatures rules to appear in a while). But Rezolution has hackers, I'm not sure if they can hack enemy units though.

I think the possession of TAGs but not Remotes could just be written off as a game balance thing, though I'm not sure. It does have overtones of Ghost in the Shell though, where hacking attacks can compromise the very cybernetic systems that otherwise give cyborgs their advantage over normal humans. I can kind of see the logic involved (with or without the Ghost in the Shell perspective). A battlesuit uses more than just mechanical servos to enable movement. Sensors within the suit monitor specific joins and muscles of the wearer they then interpret the movement of the wear's body via software. The software then causes an array servos and motors to perform the desired action/movement. It is the complex computerized interface between the pilot and his suit that is vulnerable. The hacker tricks the suit's sensors and software by either spoofing in correct input from the wearer or just overriding the actual input the suit is receiving. The hard part to believe is why these systems aren't completely self contained. A guess would be that the suits transmit biometric and other data back to base and that a commander (ala Space Hulk) watches the troopers vital signs and status in some kind of command center. Again though, why not take the suits own internal motivation functions of the grid? Perhaps the technology of the day depends upon a highly complex integrated computer that handles all the suit's functions?

Thanks again for the great review. I posted something about Infinity a long time ago as soon as I learned about the game. Sadly my local game store says his distributor doesn't carry any of the Infinity stuff yet. So it seems like I won't be buying any of their great minis anytime soon. Of course, I already have too many great GW minis that I have commited to paint anyway.

If any one plays a game of this I would LOVE to read a battle report!


Truckler (Sneaking over to the Corvus Belli website to check out any new miniatures!)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:24 pm 
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Great review, thanks for posting it.
I can safely say I'd never play Infinity. :P

I'm guessing the Order Reserve system and the Automatic Reaction Orders are meant to balance eachother. So while one guy could perform a dozen actions while the rest of your army does nothing, that one guy will be the target of dozens of Automatic Reaction Orders. In theory.
But as you say, that makes things even more ridiculous.
A turn should represent a fixed period of time, and everyone should have the exact same opportunity to act within that limited space of time.
I just don't get why people add this sort of ridiculous mechanic to what could otherwise be a perfectly serviceable set of rules. It just sems to be intended to make the game more chaotic and random, and to further limit the effect of actual tactics, strategy and player skill.

Innovation aside, the 'hacking' component of the game sounds incredibly stupid.
The idea of 'battlefield hacking' being an established and important part of warfare is just plain silly. ECM and ECCM would be fine, but the ability to completely neutralise an enemy unit, and worse, to take control of an enemy unit, through their unsecured WiFi ports perhaps, is ridiculous.
At best, you should be able to 'confuse' units that are dependant on electronic sensors, giving them temporary statistic modifiers. Though the effects of that on a game with the OR ad ARO system would be negligible, I imagine.
The only reason you would be able to 'possess' a TAG is if it has all of the components in place to be remotely controlled. So why the bloody hell would you waste 85 kilograms of weight, a large internal volume, and further weight and volume for the pilot's life support systems, when you could be remotely controlling it from a safe distance, which would also apparently makes the TAG immune to 'hacker possesion'?
If *you* can't freaking remotely control it, why the freaking hell would you build the systems into it that would allow it to be remotely controlled by the enemy?

What kind of idiot would put a piece of equipment into service, knowing that it could be arbitrarily rendered useless, or worse, hijacked and used against you?

I plan on getting some Infinity models eventually. The first one I get will probably be the Yu-Jing TAG, which is one of the best models I have ever seen.
If I used them, it would be in role-playing games, or using a different set of skirmish rules.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 3:27 am 
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Hey guys, I'm back. Sorry for the long wait.
Glad you like the review, my pleasure. I just like to rant. :D

First off, Truckler:

Quote:
Quote:
The game is balanced with small, skirmish level forces and battles in mind.

I'm curious and you didn't mention it in your review, have you played the game yet? Or are your observations based mainly from having read the rules coupled with years worth of experience in miniature gaming?

Nope, I didn't play it yet. I mentioned it in my introduction, for the last 4 years I have nobody to play with. My old group drifted apart after we all went to different universities all over the country, and neither my hometown nor university town has a gaming community.
My observations are therefore based on reading and previous experience. Plus what the authors are saying, and the comments on the official forum. From what I hear, the most popular size of game is 300 points, which translates into something around 10-20 miniatures, depending on troop selection.

Quote:
So do you think the rules will sort of max out at a certain size level beyond which games will be too slow or unworkable? I'm really much more into the skirmish type rules myself, so games that aren't geared toward massive 100+ models per side battles are always welcome additions to the pool of available games in the market as far as I'm concerned.

Hard to put an upper limit on it. In my experience with any of the games I played with my group, except maybe Battletech, we never hit any size limit beyond which we felt the game was too ungainly - we liked massive battles. So I'm afraid I can't really judge Infinity. But I seem to recall people saying on the official forum that around 600 points would be the biggest they'd consider playing.

Quote:
How do the orders work? Do you assign orders to each unit before the turn begins? Or do you allocated orders dynamically as the turn progresses? Could you give a simple example of how it might work?

Okay, I'll try to explain better. Let us first assume you only have 10 miniatures or less. You count the number of miniatures. This is how many Orders you have for the turn. You use them dynamically, assigning, carrying out and resolving each one before you progress to the next. You may assign them however you please, so you may perform 1 order with every one of your miniatures, all (up to 10) with only one miniature or anything in between. Should you have more than 10 miniatures at the start of the game, you have to divide them into combat groups of 10 or less miniatures each. Those groups may not be changed durning the battle and they may not share Orders - the Order reserve of each group is calculated based on how many miniatures are in it. Before each turn starts, you have to recalculate your Orders reserve for each group based on how many of your miniatures are left alive.

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In Infinity every unit automatically has Unlimited Overwatch Fire™ which lets them shoot at any viable target during the opposing player's turn.

That is what I meant, exactly. Sorry for the confusion. And I'm not complaining that your fighter can't shoot anything because he has no targets. What I'm complaining about is the "Unlimited" part, where he can shoot at any target of opportunity, no matter how many of them there are. If everything is supposed to happen simultaneously, like in a real battle, and is only divided into Orders to be workable as a game, than how can one soldier react to everything that he can see?

Quote:
That seems simple enough, though I'm left wondering if it will bog down the game too much or cause other problems.

That's what I'm wondering too. The system is just extremely brutal. Combined with the limited availability of smoke grenades, it seems to verge on unplayable, as nobody will want to move and stick their head out, turning the game into a huge static waiting fest. But then people are playing the game and don't complain.

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In light of all that the fact that a model has to be physically touching a piece of cover to gain any benefits from it, regardless of how much of him it is hiding from view, or that cover and camouflage to hit penalties do not stack are just a minor annoyances.

I'm just guessing here, but it seems to me that touching cover is the similar to hiding in Necromunda. So in Necromunda miniatures just naturally benefit from cover when it gets in the way of a shot, but to specifically attempt to maximize cover (by hiding) you have to meet certain specific criteria. So in Infinity that means that models not touching cover are assumed to by standing (or moving) fully upright at all times. It is only when you are in contact with cover that you make a special effort to use it to your benefit. It makes a bit more sense in a highly mobile and confusing battlefield where fire could come from anywhere. Its also kind of cinematic.

That's all very well and good. But remember that not every cover is waist-hight. Do you really think it's realistic that it is just as easy to hit a guy that is standing somewhere beyond (but not immediately behind) a wall high enough that all you can see is his head, as it is to hit a fully visible guy standing around in the open? Because that's what Infinity does.

Quote:
Sensors within the suit monitor specific joins and muscles of the wearer they then interpret the movement of the wear's body via software. The software then causes an array servos and motors to perform the desired action/movement.

That's the way I too imagine it works.

Quote:
The hacker tricks the suit's sensors and software by either spoofing in correct input from the wearer or just overriding the actual input the suit is receiving. The hard part to believe is why these systems aren't completely self contained.

It's not hard to believe. Trying to believe that is an excersise in retardation. IMHO of course.

Quote:
A guess would be that the suits transmit biometric and other data back to base and that a commander (ala Space Hulk) watches the troopers vital signs and status in some kind of command center. Again though, why not take the suits own internal motivation functions of the grid?

Especially as the suit's motivation functions have nothing to do whatsoever with monitoring the pilot's health. And even if they did I think any sane person would find the disadvantages of having a biometric monitoring system to greatly outweighed the advantages in this case (Knowing how healthy the pilot is versus allowing the enemy to take over his suit? You're kidding right?).

Robbie:

Quote:
The idea of 'battlefield hacking' being an established and important part of warfare is just plain silly. ECM and ECCM would be fine, but the ability to completely neutralise an enemy unit, and worse, to take control of an enemy unit, through their unsecured WiFi ports perhaps, is ridiculous.

Well, I still think it could work - if the unit you took over was remotely controlled in the first place. I know it's completely unrealistic, and maybe I'm stupid because of it, but I still like the idea. I find it just barely cool enough to slip past my nonsense filter. I warned you about that flaw of my personality. It's the same as with giant robots. I know they are a completely stupid idea, from the modern battlefield point of wiew at least, but I'd still like a game (movie, comix) with them in it.
Anyway, hacking is not so easy - only 8 inches of range, and enemy hackers may resist you from anywhere on the board. And if anyone, including the target, sees you hack, they can ARO at you and put a bullet through your head.

Quote:
At best, you should be able to 'confuse' units that are dependant on electronic sensors, giving them temporary statistic modifiers.

That sounds like a good solution.

Quote:
The only reason you would be able to 'possess' a TAG is if it has all of the components in place to be remotely controlled. So why the bloody hell would you waste 85 kilograms of weight, a large internal volume, and further weight and volume for the pilot's life support systems, when you could be remotely controlling it from a safe distance, which would also apparently makes the TAG immune to 'hacker possesion'?
If *you* can't freaking remotely control it, why the freaking hell would you build the systems into it that would allow it to be remotely controlled by the enemy?

That's exactly the point I'm making - the enemy could take over a remotely controlled unit, and only such a unit. Why then can't Remotes be Possessed? But I haven't made myself completely clear. Remote controlled TAGs do not become immune to Possession. Fluff and logic-wise they do become Remotes, but rules-wise they're still TAGs so still can be Possessed. But we seem to agree that Possessing piloted TAGs is retarded. :D

Quote:
I plan on getting some Infinity models eventually. The first one I get will probably be the Yu-Jing TAG, which is one of the best models I have ever seen.

Yeah, I love the Gojira too (well, it's actually Guijia, but it's such an obvious joke :D ). All it needs is a second pair of smaller interface-glove arms and "rabbit ears" sensory periscopes and it'll be a picture-perfect Appleseed Landmate. And the Pan-Oceania male ORC Heavy Infantry trooper could do a passable Briareos impression. Now, if I only could get a good Deunan mini...

Accidentally and complately off-topic, how do you guys do that neat "Somebody wrote:" thing with quotes? All I ever get is the "Quote:" header.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 4:20 am 
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in the opening quote command, you need to change [quote] to [quote="name of person being quoted"]


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 8:25 am 
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Thanks for all your answers and comments Kathara Khan.

Kathara Khan wrote:
Quote:
How do the orders work? Do you assign orders to each unit before the turn begins? Or do you allocated orders dynamically as the turn progresses? Could you give a simple example of how it might work?

Okay, I'll try to explain better. Let us first assume you only have 10 miniatures or less. You count the number of miniatures. This is how many Orders you have for the turn. You use them dynamically, assigning, carrying out and resolving each one before you progress to the next. You may assign them however you please, so you may perform 1 order with every one of your miniatures, all (up to 10) with only one miniature or anything in between. Should you have more than 10 miniatures at the start of the game, you have to divide them into combat groups of 10 or less miniatures each. Those groups may not be changed durning the battle and they may not share Orders - the Order reserve of each group is calculated based on how many miniatures are in it. Before each turn starts, you have to recalculate your Orders reserve for each group based on how many of your miniatures are left alive.


I should have been more specific with my questions. Your initial post covered all of the above pretty well. What I'm wondering about is just what exactly can you do with an order? And are the orders randomized in some fashion?

Are the orders just some virtual thing you keep track of in your head or do they use tokens or cards to keep track of them? So for example is every order identical or does each order (perhaps a card/chit/token) let you do one specific and limited action? For instance, suppose that their were hacking orders, but you could only play them if you drew one from the deck.

If the order tokens/cards don't define your possible options with one order, then is there a list of actions performable with one order? And if so, what options are on that list?


Truckler

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The game designers themselves know these values are not realistic and they do not intend them to replace or invalidate the fluff. So let's get on with our lives and not fixate over the cosmic ramifications of game mechanics which we already know are streamlined for larger forces at the expense of detail.


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 4:27 am 
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Ahh, so that's how it's done. Enormous thanks, shiver.

So that's what you want to know, Truckler. Sorry, I guess I should have covered it in the initial review, it's important.

The Orders are virtual, unless you decide you have to many to keep track of in your head. The authors recommend a D10 as a way for keeping track of the Order Reserve for each combat group.

Every Order is identical, regardless of what miniature it came from, and lets you perform all possible actions.

There is a list of actions possible with an Order. The actions are divided into three cathegories:
Long Actions: take up the entire Order. Things like Camouflage, Airborne Deployment, Indirect Fire, Cautious Movement, Suppressive Fire, etc.
Short Actions: take up half of an Order. A Short Action may be combined in one Order with a Short Movement Action, but not with another Short Action. Those are your Shoot, Close Combat, Hack, Dodge, Medic, Engineer, etc. actions.
Short Movement Actions: take up half of an Order. May be combined in one Order with another Short Movement Action or a Short Action. All actions governing simple movement, like Move, Jump, Fall Prone, Climb, etc.

When combining other actions with movement, you may perform the action at any point of the miniature's move.

Another thing to note about movement, is that if you want to move twice in a single Order you do not simply double the miniature's Move. Each miniature's Movement statistic has two numbers, the first one being how far it can move if performing only one movement action in an Order, the second one the additional distance gained with a second movement action in one Order. The numbers vary depending on unit type, but the second one is usually lower.

Some models are marked as Irregular. Such models do not provide Orders for the Order reserve, they may however receive Orders from it as normal.

Most actions can be coordinated, meaning several miniatures may carry out the same Order in concert. This usually requires a common goal (e.g. several soldiers shooting at the same target), the notable exception being movement (several models may coordinate a movement Order but move in different directions).

Some units have special rules that grant them additional Orders. This usually takes the form of Impetuous special rule. An Impetuous model gets one additional Order each turn, only usable on itself, that must be spend on moving towards the closest enemy and attacking him if possible. All Impetuous Orders must be resolved before any regular Orders are spent. An Impetuous Order may be cancelled by spending an Order from the normal reserve.

One more thing that's good to mention is the Lieutenant. Each side must nominate a Lieutenant before the game starts, in secret. He represents the nominal leader of the force. The Lieutenant gets one additional Order that he may only spend himself. He may however sacrifice it to allow one other miniature in a turn to automatically pass its Guts Roll (a miniature that is hit, but not necessarily wounded, by enemy fire has to pass a Willpower check or reflexively seek cover, by attempting to move in such a way as to completely hide from the enemy's view). Should the Lieutenant be killed or incapacitated, his force enters a state of "loss of leadership". Next turn the entire force may not have more than 2 Orders, which may only be spend on nominating a new leader. Loss of leadership does not affect Impetuous Orders.

Phew. That's all about Orders I can remember. Hope that satisfies your hunger for knowledge. :D

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Thanks Kathara Khan, that's just exactly what I wanted to know.

The orders actually sound interesting. I've seen a lot of different systems over the years and initiative is always a huge factor in shaping a game. I've considered using a split turn type set up for games where a model can perform two simple actions or one complex action. Infinity seems to have taken this approach, but with some improvements. The split movement stat also sounds like an interesting idea; its simple but opens up all kinds of possibilities for customizing units, much better than the traditional warhammer double your base movement setup.

So yes, you have satisfied my curiousity. At least to the extent that I think is reasonable to cover in one thread. I'm going to have to pick up a copy of Infinity now. The pictures of the inside of the book makes it look like it has extremely nice production value. The miniatures are of course beautiful and I want to test the rules myself. The rules seem comlex and indepth, I think it would be short sighted to write them off without giving them a proper test.

It will give me a chance to pick up some of the cool Infinity miniatures too. :twisted:

Thanks again for your detailed review. :D


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 12:11 pm 
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Does anyone have a link to this game site? Thanks.


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 5:07 am 
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Yeah, its http://www.infinitythegame.com it has some pretty cool miniatures for it but yeah, the rules are a little difficult to get your head around.

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I have read the Infinity rules and have some miniatures (Yaókòng remotes). I love their little robots. I have also watched some games at my local hobby store, but have not played myself. My understanding of the rules isn't perfect either, but I think I can clear up some misconceptions about the turn sequence and ARO.

The Infinity turn sequence is not strictly "I go, you go". Both players act simultaneously but they take turns being the "active" player. The active player uses orders while the "reactive" player uses AROs. The reactive player has a different list of options he can perform but is still making decisions and fighting.

"Unlimited Overwatch Fire™" is a bad way of looking at AROs.
- Things you can do with the ARO include dodging or spotting to reveal the unit if it is hidden. In many cases, the most prudent ARO to use for a model getting shot is to dodge. Allies nearby who are not getting shot at can of course fire back to cover their squad mate.
- When a model uses an ARO for shooting, it can only snap off one shot so the return fire from these units is generally not as powerful as their normal attacks. (There are a few models (like the Yaókòng HÙSÒNG remote) with an attribute called "Total Reaction" that can use AROs to fire full bursts, making them a bit like the automatic sentry guns in Aliens. Don't run around in front of them.)
- In actual game play, AROs do not (necessarily) mean anyone who moves is gunned down by a hail of overwatch fire. AROs encourage your men to use cover and keep their heads down. They also create an incentive/mechanism to have squad mates cover each other and use teamwork. It is possible to have one squad cover an open area so well that nobody on the opposing side dares poke their head up. This is where movement/flanking and good use of cover becomes critical.

The Orders system does sound strange and rife for abuse, but I think this thread has been giving it a raw deal. Hopefully understanding the ARO system makes it clear that just using orders is not the only way a model can fight. In fact, for a model acting as a sniper with good LOS from an elevated position, it may be best to NEVER use an order because it allows all units with LOS to shoot you! Far better to stay put and snap off shots as enemy units take their actions.

Although you can have one model go into "bullet time" and use up the majority of your orders, this does not mean that using five orders is five times more effective than using one order. As noted already, there are diminishing returns for using repeated orders; while there are real benefits to teamwork. There are no godlike uber units like there are in 40K, and 2 or 3 ordinary grunts covering each other can make it very dangerous for that fancy TAG to emerge and open fire. No amount of non-contributing "cheerleaders" can allow your one favorite unit to out-maneuver or out-gun a squad acting in concert.

Overall, I think Infinity does a good job of creating a realistic skirmish/firefight environment, though there is a learning curve.

Having said all this, I will say that the Infinity rules are rather confusing and the low quality of the English translation doesn't help. I strongly recommend anyone who wants to play it visit the Official Forum for answers to their questions.

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My pleasure, Truckler.

Venator wrote:
Although you can have one model go into "bullet time" and use up the majority of your orders, this does not mean that using five orders is five times more effective than using one order. As noted already, there are diminishing returns for using repeated orders; while there are real benefits to teamwork.There are no godlike uber units like there are in 40K, and 2 or 3 ordinary grunts covering each other can make it very dangerous for that fancy TAG to emerge and open fire. No amount of non-contributing "cheerleaders" can allow your one favorite unit to out-maneuver or out-gun a squad acting in concert.

Overall, I think Infinity does a good job of creating a realistic skirmish/firefight environment, though there is a learning curve.

Hey, I didn't say the game was unplayable. And yes, like I mentioned, it appears well balanced. My main complaint is the "bullet time", all the rest are minor details that can be fixed with simple house rules. The "bullet time" may not be the end-all tactic, but it is there and, at least from my point of view, it is pure nonsense. It goes against everything I know about the time-space continuum. :D Explain to me again how can you borrow your time to your squadmate? For me, it doesn't really matter how many advantages the system has in creating a realistic skirmish/firefight environment if it achieves it through such thoroughly silly means. But that just me and, like I said before, I'd still play the game, just to try it if nothing else. But I expect I'll never be totally comfortable with it, on account of the above. I'd much prefer Warzone (with it's own set of FUBARs :D ).

Venator wrote:
In many cases, the most prudent ARO to use for a model getting shot is to dodge.

Not really, if I understood the rules correctly (and I freely admit there's no guarantee of that). When you dodge incoming fire all you can accomplish is avoid getting hurt. If you instead return fire, then, with the way Opposed Actions seem to work, you not only get the chance to avoid all damage but also to inflict some on the attacker in return. I have no doubt which one is more worth attempting. The only situations in which dodging may be better than shooting back are if your miniature has a much better Physique than it has BS, or the enemy is shooting at you from beyond your effective range.

Venator wrote:
In fact, for a model acting as a sniper with good LOS from an elevated position, it may be best to NEVER use an order because it allows all units with LOS to shoot you! Far better to stay put and snap off shots as enemy units take their actions.

That is a good point. Of course, the ideal situation would be the sniper firing with absolute impunity to return fire thanks to his range advantage, but that is, sadly, usually rather hard to achieve on a standard gaming table.

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 8:31 am 
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Hi guys I want to order some of the minis but I don't know what currency their using. Like what is $7,00 mean? Do they have a currency converter so I know how much I'm spending?


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Where in the world do you live Kryptt?

If you are in the US then it will most likely be easier to buy Infinity stuff from The War Store. Then you won't have to pay a higher rate for international shipping, conversion charges or anything else. Besides that, I think that The War Store sells most stuff at a discount.

You could ask your local game store if they can order the Infinity stuff as well. Though the store that I frequent can't order it. Apparently Corvus Belli the company who makes Infinity doesn't have a deal with the largest game distributors in the US.

Hope this helps.


Truckler

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Awesome thanks Truckler!


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