A new way to play Infinity

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on terrain for Infinity, but I haven’t had a chance to photograph it yet.  In the mean time, here’s a thought I had:

Judging from what I’ve seen, many Infinity players plan their purchases and design their lists based on what would be allowable in an official Infinity Tournament System event.  I can definitely see the logic behind this: if you are planning on playing a game against people you’ve never played before, it helps to all be on the same page.  And if you’re playing in an official event then there’s no choice anyway – you must conform.

If those are the sorts of games you are going to be playing, it makes sense to play as many games as you can with officially sanctioned lists so that you avoid practicing poorly.  After all, perfect practice makes perfect, and what’s the point of being extremely adept with your mercenary company when there are some (perhaps many) games from which it will be excluded?

Infinity though is written as a very versatile game in terms of what sorts of teams you can assemble, so long as you limit limitations.  It’s sometimes pointed out that one of the strengths of the game is that it can easily offer a “lite role-playing” experience.  The Campaign Paradiso book really brings this out.  So far the main player base, for whatever reason, does not seem to have taken it in this direction.

I’m not a particularly conservative person, in gaming or in general.  Many wargamers are quite conservative however.  They will err on the side of restriction and rule-following rather than exploration and freedom.  Thus a lot of the potential of Infinity in terms of narrative, campaigning, creative modelling and role-playing goes to waste.  If only there were a way to allow conservative players to explore all the possibilities of the game without leaving their comfort zone…

Maybe there is.  It’s surprising to me that no-one has suggested this before, but how about an Infinity mercs tournament?  This would be a sanctioned ITS event that allowed only mercenary companies.  All opportunities for thematic modeling, experimental list design and whatever else could be exploited.  I see no reason why such a tournament couldn’t be official, adding to the player’s rankings.  The balance issue is not mercs themselves, it is mercs in contest with standard lists.

In my experience players who are truly interested in building thematic collections are unlikely to be too upset if they lose games, and players whose temperaments run toward experimenting with lists and play-styles to perfect their game would love the freedom to build a truly devastating mercenary company and match wits with other like-minded players.

The mercs tournament would really allow players with widely disparate approaches to enjoy a sanctioned event together.  Of course there are many other ways to play Infinity, as I mentioned above, and I think more is always better than less when it comes to choice in games.

Till next time,


2 thoughts on “A new way to play Infinity

  1. SinSynn says:

    Heya James.
    From what I understand, the new ITS official tournament package includes provisions for creating a ‘spec op’ character, using the Paridiso Campaign book experience point system (I do not yet own this book, so am unfamiliar with exactly how this works).
    What I do know, however, is that this is very unusual for a ‘tournament setting.’
    Basically everyone ‘creating’ their spec-ops character will do it differently, so there’s no telling WHAT you’ll run into across the table from you.
    I’m curious as to why you’re focused on Mercs here…I thought there were only a handful of ’em- not really enough for a dozen people to make varied lists out of, anyway.
    Infinity has…what? Something like 22 possible lists you can build from, including the sectorial lists and not including Mercs. Why would you want to focus on Mercs?
    Not riffing just curious….

    • beat ronin says:

      Hey SinSynn, good to see you!

      The reason I focus on mercs is because there is another way to play with them, one which I’ve rarely seen used even on the official forums. Read page 131 of the main rulebook. You can build your own mercenary company using troops from up to three different factions and any of the “pure” mercenary troops (the handful you mentioned). ALEPH Toolbox even has a facility to do this, if you click on “Mercs” in the menu when you’re choosing your faction. It will ask which three factions you want to combine and you can go from there. There are a few background-based restrictions (troop availabilities are generally halved; you can’t use Yuan Yuan if you have Yu Jing troops in your company, etc) but that’s it. Pretty open.

      It’s funny, I was hoping you’d comment, but I thought you would bring up something which is a drawback to the idea. Because of the background, you can’t (yet) enrol alien mercenaries in a human company, which means a Mercs tournament would give enormous freedom to human merc companies but any aliens present would basically be a watered-down version of the standard Combined Army or Tohaa. I call xenos discrimination on that one!

      It’s also funny the sorts of things people notice. The ‘build your own mercs company’ was an idea that really leapt out at me and I thought was very exciting, which I guess is not surprising considering I go for things like Skulldred these days. I was a little disappointed when I realized how few people actually do it, or have even noticed it, despite the fact it’s right there in the rulebook.

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