Operation Icestorm review: is it worth getting?
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!
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.
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!
A shot of the minis I have managed to put together at the time of writing. Based on the official Giraldez bases from Customeeple!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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!