Getting Started with Infinity #3
Infinity is different than most games you may have played and it will take a little time to come to grips with some of the rules and how they interact during a game. This article will not provide a detailed examination of those rules but will instead look at some of the most important concepts in the game so you have a basic understanding of them when you read the official rules or watch some of Corvus Belli’s instructional videos.
Each model in Infinity has eight different stats
- MOV: A two number value (4-2 for example)
- CC: Close Combat skill
- BS: Ballistic skill
- PH: Physical
- WIP: Willpower
- ARM: Armour
- BTS: Biotechnical (determines resistance against electromagnetic, biological and information warfare)
- W: Wounds
CC and BS are used in combat situations, PH is used to test physical actions such as landing during an air deployment and WIP is used for actions such as engineering, healing a model or hacking. To succeed in one of these tasks, you need to roll a value equal to or lower than the stat value with modifiers on a D20. Higher stat values are better as modifiers in the game can lower the stat. If you have a -3 modifier to shooting it is actually a -3 modifier to your BS stat meaning that you have to roll even lower on a D20 to succeed.
ARM is added to a D20 roll to try to beat the damage of most weapons and BTS is a modifier to an opponents skill in a hacking attempt or used as a substitute ARM value against some ammo types.
One of the most obvious differences between Infinity and games such as Warhammer 40K and Warmachine is the use of D20s instead of the standard D6s. Aside from providing a much wider range of possible values for a player to roll, it also gives the game developers more flexibility when creating units. When dealing with a D6 system, a difference of one point in a stat is 17%. A one point stat difference in Infinity is 5%.
This also allows the game developers to add more modifiers to actions like shooting or close combat and still have “room” for differing stats in the game to have an impact. If for instance there is a total modifier of -9 to a shooting action and I have three models with a BS of 12,13 and 14 then they need to roll a 3, 4 or 5 respectively. In a system that uses a D6 to resolve actions you quickly find yourself “bottoming out” and having models all require the same roll to resolve a test.
Infinity also uses a lot fewer dice than 40K or other “bucket of dice” games. Typically you never really need more than four or five D20s to play the game.
One other stat provided for models is AVA, or the availability, of a model in a force. This indicates the total number of that unit that can be purchased in an army list and is usually a value from one to four or “total” which indicates that you could create your entire force with that model.
When you include a model, you need to pick a specific profile. The army lists for Infinity will display the stats, for example, of a generic Fusilier but also includes nine different profiles of the Fusilier based on equipment or skills. So there are specific Fusiliers with Combi Rifles, Missile Launchers, the Hacker skill or a Lieutenant. They all share the same stats but have a different point cost.
Models also include what is called an SWC or Support Weapon Cost. When building a force you get one SWC point to use per 50 points of your army value. So for a 150 point gameyou would be able to include three SWC points. A Fusilier Hacker would cost 22 points and also 0.5 SWC. The Support Weapon Cost and AVA are the two limiting factors in your army building. With the exception of Sectorial armies, you can pick whichever models you want. This is often a factor that can overwhelm players when they first pick up the game. In a later article, we’ll look at starting out your Infinity army by using one of the many available Starter Sets.
Infinity is an I-Go-You-Go game with one significant difference. Each model in your force (that is on the table) contributes an Order that you will use to activate your troops. This is called your Order Reserve and it is calculated at the beginning of each turn. You also get an Order called the Lieutenant Special Order which can only be used for your Lieutenant.
Infinity allows you to, with the exception of the Lieutenant Special Order, spend as many of your Orders on each model as you like and in any order you like. If you have a PanO force with some Fusiliers and a Teutonic Knight you could spend an Order on the Knight, then activate a Fusilier and then return to the Knight. You could also, if you want, spend all of your orders on only the Knight.
When activating a model it can do one of the following:
- Two Short Movement Skills (Move + Move, Climb +Move, or Move + Prone)
- A Short Movement Skill and a Short Skill or vice versa (Move + Ballistic Skill (BS), Move + Dodge, Discover + Alert, or Ballistic Skill (BS) + Prone)
- A single Long Skill (Camouflage, Intuitive Attack, or Cautious Movement)
- A single Short Skill or Short Movement Skill
The reason models have two MOV values is because a model can combine two short movement skills (Move+Move). The first is the distance in inches it can move with a single Short Move and the second is the distance an additional Short Move Skill will provide. Medium and Heavy Infantry typically will have two different values for a MOV stat (like 4-2) while Light Infantry will typically have the same values (4-4 for instance).
During your turn, when you are spending Orders to activate models, you are referred to as the Active Player and your opponent is the Reactive Player. When you declare an Order and your opponent has a model with line of fire to your model, they get to declare what is called an Automatic Reaction Order (ARO).
While you are spending Orders on your models, you and your opponent need to stay aware of which models can see your actions . After you declare either a Long Skill or the first of your two Short Skills, your opponent is able to announce any AROs that they have to your Order. Once your opponent has declared they AROs you are able to announce your second Short Skill if appropriate.
The Order and the ARO are considered to be simultaneous and only the Reactive player is able to announce an Automatic Reaction Order so you cannot declare your own AROs in response to your opponent’s ARO.
The Automatic Reaction Order keeps each gamer actively involved during both players’ turn. And unlike using Orders when you are the Active player, there are no limits to the numbers of AROs a model can be part of. A well-situated unit can sometimes be more “active” via AROs than it was in its own turn.
The ARO also means that the game offers players a second level of tactical choices when activating units. You need to think, not only, of what you want to do while you are the Active player but also how to position your models to generate AROs while you are the Reactive player.
Infinity uses two types of action resolution, Normal and Face-to-face. A Normal action is one that does not involve another unit or units in direct contest with your miniature. So a WIP check to open a crate, shooting an unaware opponent, tossing a smoke grenade outside the of line of fire of an opponent.
To resolve this, you roll a D20 and attempt to get equal to or less than your appropriate stat (after modifiers). If you do so then you succeed. Depending on the Skill, a failure may result in nothing happening or a negative effect like scattering.
For example, a model attempting to toss a smoke grenade would attempt to make a PH roll to succeed. If they rolled equal to or less than their PH value (with any modifiers) then the grenade would land where it was targeted. If not it would scatter.
When the action involves a direct conflict between two or more models, such as a Shoot skill in ARO, then a face-to-face roll is used. In this instance each unit involved makes a roll for their appropriate skill and attempts to roll equal to or under their modified stat while trying to still roll higher than their opponent.
For example, a PanO Fusilier is attempting to throw a smoke grenade and then dash across an alleyway. A Yu Jing Kuang Shi trooper has a line of fire to the Fusilier and declares an ARO to shoot the Fusilier. The Fusilier needs to make a PH roll to throw the Grenade and the Kuang Shi trooper will need to make a BS roll to shoot.
A face-to-face roll has several possible outcomes
- Both models fail
- One model succeeds
- Both models succeed
It is in the last case that you need to compare the rolls to see who has the highest and therefore who has bested their opponent. If both the Fusilier and the Kuang Shi trooper succeed with their rolls but the Kuang Shi trooper rolled higher than it would have managed to shoot the Fusilier before the Fusilier was able to toss the smoke grenade.
AROs and face-to-face rolls are probably the most complex part of playing Infinity and we will take a more in-depth look at them later in this series.
Getting the rules
Hopefully you have a bit more insight into some of the concepts present in Infinity and it will help you as you read through the rules. Aside from the official Infinity hardcover there are several places you can start your exploration of the rules.
The Infinity website has several downloads available including Quick Start Rules, a Quick Reference sheet as well as the rules and army lists from the Human Sphere and Campaign Paradiso expansions. You should also check your FLGS to see if they have a print copy of the Quick Start Rules which Corvus Belli has been providing for free.
There is also an unofficial rules compilation and re-edit that contains the core rules as well as the rules from the Human Sphere expansion in a new, more organized form. While this is an unofficial product, it contains the exact same wording as the original rules and is tolerated by Corvus Belli.
Corvus Belli has also produced a series of eight videos that explains some of the concepts discussed here but do so with some very good animated examples. The videos also do a very good job of explaining the camouflage rules.
In the next article in the series we’ll look at starting your Infinity force with one of the many Starter Sets available