Back in March when I finally took the plunge into Infinity, I was initially slightly daunted. While the rules, tokens and the like were all available to me free online, there isn’t a true ‘starter set’ like many other game systems have. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although the lack of a starter can be seen to make things quite difficult for new players to really get going straight away.
There’s been a fair bit of talk over on the official Infinity forums about what could be done to make the game more approachable, and I figured I’d offer up my experience while it’s still fairly fresh and I’m still fairly new to the game.
I was fortunate enough when making my first forays into Infinity that two of my regular 40k opponents (Adam and Darren) were also looking for something new, so we all jumped in together. We did a bit of research and the general consensus was that we should aim to get started at the 150pt level – it didn’t require a great amount of expenditure (terrain notwithstanding), and meant that a lot of the bigger units in Infinity wouldn’t overwhelm us too quickly.
While waiting for our various models to arrive, we started a few *very* simple games to learn the rules using some 40k models as proxies. We would have about 5 models a side, gradually introducing new rules and abilities with each new run through.
First of all we began with 4 Light Infantry, one of which would carry an HMG. Then, once the basic movement/shooting/ARO mechanics were fairly set in our minds, we’d add in a Heavy Infantry model and the Lieutenant mechanic. After a few more games like we then added in a simple Camoflaged troop to practice things like Combat Camo Attacks and the Discover skill.
This helped us really get to grips with the game without being overwhelmed with the multitude of special rules which are present in Infinity (although strangely, they’re no more numerous than those in 40k, but through a combination of the rules being translated from a different language, lack of a proper index in the free rules pdf *and* the relative infrequency at which some of these rules come up, it’s understandable why some new players can feel bewildered sometimes).
As our models arrived, we were fortunate that we’d each picked a faction and models which seemed to showcase some really varied rules around our group – My first purchase was a pair of Akal Commandos, who with their Combat Jump skill gave us some real insight into the pros and cons of Aerial Deployment. Darren had picked up the Combined Army, whose Daturazi Witch Soldiers showed us how effective Impetuous troops are (and how nasty Chain Rifles can be). Adam had gone for Yu Jing, and their Oniwaban gave us a great display of how dangerous the combination of Hidden Deployment, Infiltration and Monofilament Close Combat Weapons can be!
We continued to trawl the Internet in our quest for knowledge about Infinity, and turned up a couple of gems – one was the Infinity 0-12 Podcast, which gives a lot of insight into the background, the factions and the game itself, plus some insider knowledge direct from the designers at Corvus Belli. There was also a fantastic introduction to Infinity as a whole from the team on a different podcast – although for the life of me I can’t remember which – if anyone can shed any light in the comments that’d be wonderful.
The other was The Wargaming Trader, who has created some fantastic resources for new Infinity players – on his site I was fortunate enough to find an unofficial re-edited rules pdf, which not only collected the rules from the main rulebook and the first expansion, but also added that most handy of things, an index page! I printed a copy of this off, put it in one of those A4 display folders, and I now have a bit of a rules ‘bible’ (as we’ve termed it) with which to reference things during our games.
In our early days of Infinity, I hosted a couple of intro days to a few more of our gaming friends, although lacking the proper models, and with our still limited knowledge of the rules, it only really pulled in a couple of them. Adam, Darren and I were still having a blast though, and so we continued to play Infinity regularly.
As time went on, the three of us have all amassed quite a lot of Infinity models, with each of us already taking on a second faction – Darren progressed to the (dirty, dirty) Nomads, while Adam moved onto Haqqislam. I took the smaller step of moving to Aleph as a second faction, for reasons which I’ve detailed in previous posts.
Just recently, with all our talk of the Winter Challenge among our gaming friends, one of the guys I’d tried to introduce before wanted to give it another go – now that we had everything ‘in place’ so to speak (models, tokens, terrain etc), the game had a whole new visual appeal that was missing from our days of four Guardsmen and a Space Marine fighting over some ruins and rocks plus some random crates.
With this in mind, I set about writing a couple of intro scenarios which would give the basics of the system a good showcase, without overwhelming the new player. Some guys on the Infinity Forums are working together to produce a starter campaign, which I did contemplate using, although I figured 6 games would be a lot to try and cram into one evening of play – coming from a web/marketing background, I know you’ve only got a limited time frame in which to get your audience hooked, and giving my friends a full campaign, however small it may be, would probably turn them off a little. I wish the guys on the forum the very best though, as they’ve put a heck of a lot of effort in, and I’m sure their efforts will go well to bringing in more players!
While I’d been reading their discussion about how to really help out new players, one user had suggested they follow the approach of videogames, which I felt was a great idea – make the first level serve as an introduction to how the game works so that the player can learn the ropes, then increase the difficulty as they get the hang of things. I believe that’s the trick to enticing someone in – deliberately weight the scenario so that they’re likely to win – it’s a bit cheap, yes, but I know I’d be far more likely to enjoy a system and play it more if I didn’t get destroyed in my first game.
As I wrote the scenarios, I kept in mind that the aim is to get them hooked – teach them how to play first, and how to win later. I was conscious that I wanted to be able to offer advice to the new player, rather than setting up opposite them and just ‘clubbing the baby seal’ – generally, a new player is more likely to take up the system if they win their first couple of games. I wasn’t afraid to be open with my friend from the start though – I made sure I told him how I’d engineered the scenario so that he would win. What I wanted him to concentrate on was really grasping the core rules, rather than souring his experience by talking at him, rolling some dice and telling him to take his models off one by one. I’ve had that happen to me before in various intro games (I seem to recall a particularly harsh Blood Bowl introduction where I didn’t learn a thing apart from the fact my opponent was a dick-hole).
I hosted a game for one of my friends with these missions a couple of nights ago, and I’m happy to say that it definitely went a long way to helping! He said it was definitely a lot better being shown how to play this time around with fully painted models, painted terrain, proper tokens etc, and the fact that he was pleased with a couple of wins (however manufactured). He’s already picked up a pair of Ariadna models, so hopefully he’ll be up for playing a few more games
I’ve attached the pair of starter missions I wrote below. While I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to Infinity, I do hope that the missions I wrote to teach my friend the ropes might come in handy for other gamers looking to introduce new players to Infinity. FYI, I used PanOceania models for the player’s force, and the enemy was Aleph purely for convenience as those are the models I own – You can simply adjust the forces accordingly depending on what you own:
Click here to download my Starter Missions – For Infinity veterans instructing a new player.
I hope this has given any prospective Infinity players a good bit of insight, and also helped any veteran Infinity gamers who want a simple way to introduce their friends to the game!
EDIT: It came to my attention that I didn’t have a document for 2 new players wanting to learn the game – well I’ve fixed that now and here it is!
Click here to download my Starter Missions for 2 new players.
I hope you enjoy these – if you do get a chance to try them out, please let me know how you got on or if you have any suggestions!