Post-Game Talk: Friends, Fireteams and Painted Armies

Game Theory

I played a couple games up at Mox again yesterday, and wanted to jot down some thoughts as these games were a “first” for me in a few areas.  The first first, is that this is the premier game for me with a fully painted army.  This post is a rather stream-of-consciousness blather, so if you like run-on Infinity discussion, this is for you!

The beautiful phone camera picture... Painted miniatures, in chronological order―Kamael, Makauls, Clipsos, Kumotail, Gao-Rael, Sakiels, Neema Saatar, Rasails, Chaksa Peripherals.

The beautiful phone camera picture… The troops were fielding as pictured.  (The Gao-Rael Sniper was a sniper, the Rasail with Spitfire actually had a Spitfire, et cetera.)  In chronological order, I painted the Kamael, Makauls, Clipsos, Kumotail, Gao-Rael, Sakiels, Neema Saatar, Rasails, then Chaksa Peripherals.

Boy, is a painted army a wonderful experience.

―MY FIRST LEGIT HOBBY ARMY

There are only a couple players in our meta who have everything painted, and it’s always a joy to play against them.  Those players seem to exhibit a greater sense of tragedy when a model “dies”.  That tells me there’s more value ascribed to the miniature.  And that clearly makes sense considering what work a person does to paint each little metal man, woman and robot.

A store’s visitors are longer to linger and look and comment at painted soldiers, and for anyone’s vanity, it’s a great feeling.  And I shudder to think that I used to pick them up in a clumped fingerful.

Under the bases of my miniatures, I mark a chronological tally after each one I paint.  It’s pretty wild lining up all the troops, and literally seeing my technique improve from model to model.

The first models I ever painted were these ugly mugs:

Chaksa Auxiliars

I quipped in the forum’s painting support group that the soldiers roll better when painted.  Sure enough, in the first rolls of the game, my Gao-Rael Sniper critically hit an enemy Szalamandra.  Twice.

―TOHAA vs NOMADS

While Nomads are the most popular faction in Infinity, they are fairly underrepresented in my local meta.  I have played one short 150-point game with my own Nomads, and played only a handful of similarly small-point games against other players.

One of the older veterans brought his hot-rod red Nomads, and we had a full 300-point Annihilation game.  We added a houserule from Jon Jones‘ Annihilation games, where a player receives +1 Objective Point for killing the enemy Lieutenant, and the first player to do so receives an additional Objective Point.

My list, as pictured above, featured:

  • Neema Saatar with two Makauls
  • Gao-Rael Sniper with Viral Sakiel and Kumotail
  • Rocket Sakiel with Kamael and Makaul
  • Two Rasail Boarding Teams
  • One Clipsos Infiltrator

I won’t go into full details, as this is not a battle report.  The crux of the list, as you may see, was three Triads and three Infiltrators.  The Rocket Sakiel triad was in their own combat group, with the other nine troopers in the other.  I should say, to those who love the mathematics behind list creation, this was not a list I would have created to be my definitive competitive list, but it was a list I created expressly to field a fully painted army.

This might sound a bit masochistic, but I actually like bringing hackable troops just so my opponents (who may bring hackers) have something direct to do with them.  The Nomads, of course, did bring hackers.

I faced several forward-deployable repeaters, an Interventor and Custodier hacker, a Reaktion Zond and Sin-Eater perched with Clockmaker support, the ferocious Szalamandra―altogether a great and defining Nomads experience.

As I mentioned above, I received my rather usual crit luck, and nearly killed the Szalamandra in my first ARO.  While I was at a variety of circumstantial penalties, I did take note that Dodging (which is typically low- or no-penalty) is very often the poorer choice for Fireteams, as getting 1 extra die to attack with is massively significant, even if you’re twice as “likely” to pass the Dodge.  On the official forums, they say “burst is king“, and it’s so frequently true.

While I did bring hackable troops, I also did not want to lose, so without being too much of a butthead as a player I was careful to avoid some of the broad hacking zones.  I rolled with some of the goofier errors, like wandering a fireteam in front of an E/Mauler, or Neema in front of a bunch of unopposed AROs.  (More on this under “Courtesy” below.)

Neema Saatar, the Makauls, the Sakiels, and the Clipsos did most of the heavy lifting.  The other triads and their members contributed where they could, and I found my lone Rocket Sakiel triad was able to accomplish quite a bit even with just 3 orders.  I think we might have counted points wrong (but it wasn’t competitive, so, *shrug*), but the battle ended in a draw with some very heavy casualties to the Nomads.

To the experience with the painted army, though, I caught myself playing differently.  I took more risks.  I braved more shots.  I was grieved when my soldiers died, and thrilled when they survived.  My Makauls were as brave as they are described.  My Triads bounded, fell apart, reformed, bounded again.  Neema Saatar was strong and dauntless.  Nobody was too special to risk their life, and the game tied in the end against my very capable opponent.

The benefits of Triads in Tohaa I have not ascribed as much value to as other players do, I think, in great part, because my more usual opponents field fireteams so regularly.  Fighting ISS and JSA and NCA and FRRM and Qapu Khalki, there is nearly always one fireteam that’s better than any of mine, and usually a Haris fireteam to boot.  So, when I look down at my one, two or three Tohaa Triads, I don’t feel that I am getting a significantly special advantage.  Especially that with the exception of the Gao-Rael, the “flexibility” of Tohaa Triads really only varies to the number of wounds and stats.  Weaponry flexibility in a fireteam is available to any faction.  But…

Every other vanilla army in Infinity has no access to Fireteams, and that was very noticeable yesternight.  Being able to move 9 troopers forward, in 3 orders, with 0 Command Tokens, is very, very significant.  I’ve become a very adroit Tohaa player, and I was fighting a very capable Nomads player; and even with the disadvantage of a deliberately imperfect list, I still felt that I had a tremendous advantage with the mobility granted by my fireteams.

This does not directly relate to Nomads, but a comment I’ve made before that I’ve come to rather staunchly stand by is that I think every vanilla army should be able to compose 1 fireteam from their line troops, at least.

Hold your horses!

Hold on, now―I understand that fireteams are granted only to sectorial factions, so that those sectorials have a leg up in power to counter the power vanilla factions get from their broad options.

However, I also believe that fireteam rules are fundamentally flawed―not terribly broken, but flawed in such a way that they are now constricted and patched to balance the imbalance that they do (or have formerly) promoted.  A couple players have challenged me to synthesize a better set of fireteam rules, as Infinity’s rules as-is really are quite strong and functional.  If anyone is interested in reading that or why I think fireteams are a bit messy, I’ll post it.  Otherwise, those are my opinions.

Opinions, opinions.  Nomads are totally cool and I see why everybody loves them.

―COURTESY

This has been a growing sentiment of mine, but tonight it really solidified and was verbalized when I played against my Nomads opponent:

In my early games of Infinity, when I made a bad choice, I took my due penalty for it.  In my mind it wasn’t an option to backtrack moves, even partially.  I played like chess, as it were, where a move was a move with no undoing.  Now, when I realize that a move is poor, I often say, “No, I’m not going to do _____ then, I’ll do _____ instead.”  While that behavior might have helped me win a few games, it robs my opponent of fun.

A couple years ago I was a gamemaster for a short RPG campaign, and a great lesson there is that fun is the rule, not winning.  That’s especially true when you’re a gamemaster and playing the “bad guy” for a group of players.  But, it’s also true of games.  Like really mostly all games.

I used to be highly competitive about videogames―I was once proud to be the best player of Halo: Combat Evolved that I knew, being MVP at every Halo LAN party that my brothers brought me to, and defeating every kid that told me he was better.  But I became a real asshat, and when I got older and Halo 2 came out, I met superior players online.  Playing Halo was no longer fun:  Morphing victory as the metric for fun was very flimsy, because in losing there was no pleasure whatsoever, and even in winning “fun” would not regularly be achieved.  As an obtuse analogy, it’s kind of like making out―if it’s just about the kissing, and not the girl, I wouldn’t enjoy it; but if I enjoy the girl, I enjoy the experience.  Erm…

So playing Campaign: Paradiso, the win-gobbler started to rear up in me again, and after having a rather successful game with my friends Tom, Brian and Big Chris, I was in the final scenario where I should have™ won.  I lost, in great part, due to awful dice―failing all but 1 armor save, missing all my B5 BS16 rolls, et cetera.  At no point did I look down at the board and laugh at the chaos.  At no point did I congratulate my opponent on his tactics and successes.  I just pouted, frowned, complained, and gave both myself and Big Chris a bad game.  Driving home, I decided summarily that I didn’t want to play with that attitude again.

On a flip side, I suppose that when I eventually dive into tournament play, I may put a bit of that asshat back on, since in that context winning is more important than casual play.  But I think―especially now with the sincere friends I’ve met through the game and through Mox―if it comes down it, I’d rather lose a game, than make my Shasvastii opponent have a miserable experience because I’m exploiting the technicalities.

Some people in the Infinity forums say, “Came for the minis, stayed for the rules.”  I like Tohaa and the minis are cool, but Infinity for me was “Came for the rules, stayed for the people.”  I’ve been really touched at how many friends through Infinity I’ve gained through friends of players, game shops patrons, and even the Internet.  The bottom line is not even simply about courtesy.  The very bottom line is I want friends from this game, not victories.

―REPEATING A LIST

Another first for me was a thing that advise to new players, but until yesterday, I had never done myself:  use the same army list repeatedly.

I’m not really partial to any one set of troops or strategies, and I often like making lists simply for the novelty of it.  But since buying my own troops for Infinity, I’ve never used the same list twice.

Right after the Nomads game, I played against Big Chris, the guy who got all of us into Infinity to begin with.  He played the Imperial Service army, and I just ran my same list again―with only a couple fidgets, I even just plopped the troops in the same formations.

It was a really valuable experience for me as I think I have subconsciously developed the tendency to “learn” from each list and make them anew.  But Infinity really, really is a flexible ruleset; and there is a lot to learn from practice, practice, practice on the same dudes.

d20pile

Thanks for reading!  I really do appreciate comments from you guys, so please do let me know what you think, what you disagree with, what you like, et cetera.  Happy wargaming!

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