Operation Icestorm review: is it worth getting?

Operation Icestorm
Operation Icestorm

Corvus Belli is serious about the newest incarnation of Infinity: N3. In their own words, Infinity has to grow to the next level in terms of maturity as a table-top game and with that in mind, CB has released its first “plug-and-play” starter set, named Operation: Icestorm. Is it a primary a way of selling more minis, or are us gamers getting their money’s worth?

WARNING – LOTS OF PICS AHEAD!

If you’re reading this on 3G, go get some wifi. 😉

My own association with starter sets is likely the same as many of yours: Games Workshop’s pricey sets of plastic minis. With which you could play games, but you were still miles away from actually owning a decent army. How does Icestorm stack up to this?

Corvus Belli was kind enough to send us a copy of Operation: Icestorm, including a Tabitha Lyons mini (thanks, Koni & Palanka!). Let’s see what’s in that box!

IMG_0461

The starterset, including the Lyons mini and a couple of Quick Strike Rule booklets. Yes, those are exclusives and we’ll write up a review about them soon!

IMG_0463

A humble Zero next to the box will give you an idea of its size: it’s not big, but big enough!

The first thing you’ll notice is the excellent art. The entire box looks amazing. As far as taking it to the next level goes, CB nails it here.

The miniatures

Opening up the box you’ll be greeted by a familiar sight: unit boxes! Nothing special there, but for the fact that they’re marked with a faction-specific stamp! As Bostria explained over at Beasts of War, it’s CB’s intention to make this starter set as accessible as possible. This is another sign of that: if you don’t know what’s what, the boxes are marked for your convenience. A good idea, considering inside the boxes you’ll find nothing but white metal!

IMG_0465

The insides of the box!

IMG_0466

The familiar sight of white metal. It’s a good thing CB labeled the boxes, as this could be confusing to a new player.

IMG_0467

The box comes with a special edition miniature. With stats and everything!

A shot of the minis I have managed to put together at the time of writing. Based on the official Giraldez bases from Customeeple!

IMG_0487

You’ve had to wait for them, but the new Alguacils are AMAZING!

The Alguacils are representative of the quality of all the minis. Bostria has elaborated on the new design direction CB has taken. I love their more uniform approach to creating new models (re-using certain elements, such as armour sets and such) and while this is a matter of taste, one must admit the quality of the design is fantastic. CB is showing that 3D sculpting is the future.

A minor note of criticism here is that the 3D sculpting has also let to the scaling of certain elements on the models. For example, because the female models are actually slimmer than the males, their weapons and equipment are scaled to proportion. This leads to a variety in weapon sizes, something that’s a little weird if you consider said weapons are most likely (in the fluff) produced en masse. It doesn’t really detract from the overall quality of the models, but I’m hoping it’s something CB will look into for the future.

The terrain

Moving on, the part that I was most looking forward to. Nope, not the minis: the “instant table” part! Because this box is supposed to enable you to start playing right away, CB has filled it up with a playing surface (80 x 60 cm, so as wide as half a regular table, but also a third shorter) and 12 terrain pieces.

IMG_0469

Instead table, right there!

All of the buildings are made of thin cardboard (thin, but still tough enough to last). I especially love the crates, as they’re easy to assemble and sit quite nicely on the table. The four bigger buildings take a little more effort to put together (Beast of War commented that tournament organisers across the world would throw up their hands in praise for easily stored terrain – I doubt that fact, considering the amount of fiddling needed to get the buildings set up).

The textures on the buildings are amazing and will look great on your current table as well. A nice touch is that you can use left over miniature boxes (like the ones in this set) and put them inside of the bigger buildings. This will make them a lot sturdier (needed for repeated play, but also the source of my above mentioned fiddling).

IMG_0471

Sticking in a minis box will make your buildings sturdier!

IMG_0475

Dem crates be niiiice!

The playing surface is printed on glossing, thick paper. It’s neatly straightened out in the Beast of War videos, but I had a little more trouble getting rid of the folds. Maybe laminating it could be a good idea, if you intend to use it a lot in demos.

IMG_0481

The playing surface, though rather crowded, sure is pretty!

IMG_0483

The Zero enjoying his new home town! Not that getting the folds out of the playing mat isn’t that easy.

Dice & markers

CB has also taken care to put in a sheet of markers and dice. New is the “silhouette” marker, that allows you to check what space a regular, mansized model would occupy. More about that in another article on the newly introduced rules! The dice are designed to accompany each army in the set; red for Nomads, blue for PanO, and both have their faction logo engraved in them which is really neat! I really hope to see these dice being made for the other armies as well!

IMG_0479

Markers, templates and “tape measure”.

IMG_0468

“Nope, you don’t get to roll my sexy blue PanO dice, you Nomad dog!”

The rulebook

Talking about said rules, Icestorm includes a slimmed down version of the rulebook. It contains the basic Infinity rules and a set of scenarios to introduce new players into the game. For example, the first scenario features 3 light infantry models a side. All the rules you get are moving and shooting. Then in the next scenario introduces a Lieutenant and everything that comes with that. Third scenario introduces camouflage and so on and so forth.

IMG_0476

The pretty cover is representative of the full product.

The setup is really quite impressive. As you go through the missions, you really feel like you’re getting a solid grasp on the game rules. It’s clear that CB realizes Infinity can be quite overwhelming to new players and while N3 is supposed to be a lot easier to grasp, these scenarios will work towards easier assimilation of new players. Awesome!

Of course, the rulebook looks absolutely amazing, as we’re used to from Corvus Belli. According to Bostria, special attention has been giving to the English translation this time and so far, it shows: the rules are clear and much less awkward than in second edition.

IMG_0477

CB spared no expense on the art!

IMG_0478

The scenarios are laid out clear and build gradually in terms of complexity.

Why should you NOT get Operation: Icestorm?

By now you’ll have picked up I’m loving this box to bits. I feel CB has outdone themselves. If you want to get someone into the game, pick up this box and walk them through the scenarios. Considering what you’re getting, the retail price of just over €100 is peanuts. The minis alone are worth that amount.

However, there’s most definitely a couple of reasons not to invest in this starterset:

  1. If you don’t play either of the factions and aren’t planning to, either. While I feel Icestorm is the PERFECT reason to get into Nomads or PanO, if it’s not your cup of tea you probably shouldn’t bother. Especially since Bostria has announced that the terrain will be sold separately.
  2. If you’re just in it for the minis. As far as I know, the minis WILL be sold separately as well: except for the two exclusives minis (Father Knight and the Reverend Healer), and of course the civvie mini. If you don’t care about cardboard terrain or starter scenarios, leave it be.

Otherwise, if at all possible: get this box. Split the models with a friend. Divide the terrain. Do whatever you need to do. This is seriously one of CB’s best products yet.

Hope you enjoyed this review. Let us know your thoughts about Icestorm in the comments!

Arachas

Also known as "Arachas", meaning "without fear" in Sindarin Tolkien-Elvish. Co-founder of Data Sphere. Plays Nomads (Vanilla & Corregidor) and the PanOceanian Neocapitaline Army.

You may also like...

13 Responses

  1. Hero of Man says:

    Arachas you lucky bastard! 😛 Good review, but you’ve also made me really jealous.

  2. Arachas, you fool*, the weapon scaling is intentional. In addition to combat heels and a special curve hugging uniform women in the Infinity Universe are also provided with daintier weapons. They are the same caliber but the slightly shorter barrel does effect the accuracy slightly.

    *You are not a fool. Please don’t be insulted. I mean this comment as a joke to go with the rest of the tongue-in-cheekiness, not an insult.

  3. Jake Richmond says:

    “This leads to a variety in weapon sizes, something that’s a little weird if you consider said weapons are most likely (in the fluff) produced en masse. ”

    Probably not, actually. I think it’s more likely that weapons would be 3D printed in armories “on demand”. In the future there’s no reason not to equip well funded soldiers with weapons specifically tailored to their needs.

  4. Klaus Kristensen says:

    Are there 2 rulebooks in the box, or just one? From the first picture you get the impression that there are 2 in the box.

    • Scorch says:

      Those are not the QSR from the O:I. These are the small booklets that can be spread across FLGS or distributors, much like the QSR of 2nd edition; they do not contain the mission of Operation Icestorm. Data Sphere has the first and we will write an article about them soon as well!

    • Arachas says:

      I only realized after taking the pics that Koni had given us the QSR as an exclusive, haha. So yeah, a little misleading, apologies.

  5. Dave says:

    Ugh, so jealous!!!!!!
    Hope my GenCon ninja comes through for me! For Pan Oceania! For all of HUMANITY!!!

  6. Angus says:

    I am curious, what size is the fold out play mat?

    • Scorch says:

      It’s 24 inch (60cm) by 32 inch (90cm)! Unfortunately, 2 packs of scenery won’t fill a full 4×4 feet table. (120×120) but for a starter set it is still a great asset!

  7. MrHarold says:

    Great review… I have a bunch of nomad models already, but I might end up splitting this with a buddy, the new minis are awesome!

  8. Mordheimer says:

    I got the boxset for my BDay. I was pleasantly surprised! Your review is spot on. Your review is missing that the manual is in English AND Spanish. I’m fluent in both English and Spanish, and the game is easy to learn on both languages.

    My critiques:

    1) The language used on the “fiction” section is very strong on its English version. Don’t get me wrong, it is an EXCELLENT story… gets you in the mood and transport you to a location between “Apocalypse Now”, “Full Metal Jacket” and “Aliens”. If you have young ones you want to introduce to the game… you may be forced to either skip it or edit it. You can convey the same feeling of mismatch squad without the language. By rep[lacing certain words, the game suddenly becomes accessible to a whole new audience.

    2) The Campaign fails to be cinematic. The story is that the Nomads are sent to steal military/scientific/technological materials from a remote PanOceania base. The fiction puts you in that mood… you are an unruly Nomad, doing your mercenary thing and even get introduced to the crew… hell, I will name the models based on the story! But what about the PanO point of view? Another story about how they received intelligence on the imminent infiltration, and the importance of stopping the mercs would have been awesome! Then the game is designed to teach (AWESOME JOB AT THAT)… but lacks sense as a campaign (which intents to be) if the Nomads loose. The 1st Scenario is about the Alguaciles (Nomad) securing the perimeter of the base. If they loose, how could there be a Scenario 2, which is securing the warehouse, or Scenario 3, clearing the production area? The Campaign lacks that continuity from missions… it inspires the future Nomad player by making it feel Nomads have a star role, leaves the PanO player as a supporting actor.

    I understand that the boxset is designed to HELP the noob to learn the game… I’m the perfect example. As a teaching tool, it is remarkable. As a source of inspiration to play Infinity as the best game ever… not there yet. I know I’m asking alot… but then again, I know it can be done. As a game designer myself, I’m amazed at the work at the boxset. I highly recommend it! Are the rules clearly explained? Definitely! Could it be improved to become fun to play for veterans by making the Campaign ALSO functional? That is exactly my point. I see vets buying the boxset for the models, matt & terrain and never playing the Campaign. If the Campaign were fun for them, they would play it and “attract” noobs to the game.

    @Arachas: You know where you got your DevPower… 😉

  1. August 27, 2014

    […] What can we say? Awesome stuff. We already have our review up here! […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *