Nothing makes you stop and assess a situation quite like the feeling that you're about to lose.
It's a peculiar sensation, and I won't lie- it can be a bit of an acquired taste, but one of my favourite things is a game where I feel like I'm about to be knocked out, but the strategies and mechanics are deep enough that if I take a moment, assess the board, take in the situation and find out if and how I can make a last-ditch effort to take home the win.
Infinity is a 32mm scale tabletop skirmish game. Set in a far future where humanity has populated distant worlds, conflict between warring nations and alien enforces is solved through covert operations.
Each player has only a handful of miniatures, usually somewhere between six and ten, selected from a faction list, all with differing playstyles, abilities and weapon options.
None of this will sound particularly groundbreaking if you're at all familiar with tabletop wargames. What Infinity lacks in its army size, it more than makes up for with its concentration of special rules and tactical options.
When you play your first game of Ininfity, there are two things you will learn right off the bat- 1; the attention to detail in the ruleset is unparalleled, and 2; turns out a regular bullet will kill just about anyone.
Yes, while Infinity is set in a future populated with aliens, robots, and killer koalas (no, seriously), the fact of the matter is that your crew is made from soldiers. And (most) soldiers are people. And (most) people are put down if they're shot.
As such, Infinity encourages you to weigh your risks and your rewards, it forces you to take note of cover. Deployment and movement in this game are more important than in any other tabletop wargame I've played.
What makes Infinity especially unique is its turn structure. Players alternate taking 'Active' and 'Reactive' turns.
In the Active turn, you have a pool of orders to spend based on the number of (concious) troops you have on the able, and you use them to carry out commands such as moving, shooting, hacking, dodging, jumping, laying mines, repairing drones, administering first aid, para-dropping from orbit, cloaking yourself - the list goes on and on depending on any given model's skills and gear loadout.
In the Reactive turn, as the name might suggest, as your opponent issues commands to their models, your models are often given the chance to react. The most classic example is when an enemy model makes a move, bringing them into the line of sight of one or more of your models, those models can choose to shoot at them, dodge out of the way, or any other of the myriad reactions the game offers.
What this creates is a sense of constant engagement. You have to be aware of where your models are, where your opponents models are, and even (like a game of chess), think ahead to try and outplay or outflank your opponent.
For instance, if you know your opponent has to connect a satellite uplink with a nearby antena, you may on your turn move your sniper so it has a very clear view of the area surrounding said antenna, so that if any enemy models wander toward it, you can attempt to put them down before they carry out the order.
Conversely, your opponent may then be dissuaded from even attempting to connect with the antenna- so what is their plan B? Are you prepared for it?
I'm not gonna lie- if it sounds like Infinity is a complex game with a huge learning curve and lots of moving parts, you'd be correct.
What keeps the game manageable is its companion app, Infinity Army, which like many other wargaming apps gives you a handy references for all your models, but also connects directly to the Infinity rules wiki. This means that getting a clarification on what “Camouflage: TO Camo” means exactly is only a matter of tapping the name of the rule, and the window opens up with a comprehensive explanation (often with specific in-game examples).
Couple that with the fact that each game only requires a few models on either side, and you'll find the rules density scales very nicely.
Like many wargames, Infinity has a rich lore to engage with across its many factions. Whether you're wanting to find something suitable to playstyle, thematics, or both, the game more than has you covered.
The real pay off, however, is in the tactical depth, and the ability to make choices that swing the tide of battle. Using a strong understanding of the rules to bamboozle and outsmart your opponent, while at the same time playing for a fixed number of turns in which you're always at attention (due to being able to react to your opponent).
If you're a wargamer who is looking to cut their teeth on something new and exciting (not to mention low commitment, due to cost and models needed), I can't recommend Infinity enough, especially the two player boxes, which are jammed packed with value, as well as a short campaign that is designed to teach you the rules as you play, keeping all the moving parts in convenient, bite-sized portions.
Interested in starting Infinity? Contact your local Good Games store today!
[Showcased Infinity Models painted by Reuben McCallum]