We’ve been covering Corvus Belli’s Infinity for years now but every now and then it’s good to take a step back and re-introduce the game to new readers and players. Whether you haven’t played it but are looking for a deep, tactical skirmish game or a veteran player looking for a helpful guide to help introduce someone to the game, this article is for you.
What is Infinity?
Corvus Belli’s Infinity is a sci-fi based skirmish wargame set in the far future. Unfortunately for the residents of the Infinity universe, their future is not filled with the mission to boldly go where no man has gone before. Corvus Belli’s take on the future is slightly more depressing, with China bullying almost all other countries around them into forming a massive super nation called Yu Jing, other nations combining into their own super power known as PanOceania to combat the growing power of Yu Jing, and (much later) a massive alien invasion by an army of combined races who have already been conquered by an all powerful alien artificial intelligence.
You can imagine that these things don’t all add up to the peace loving future that would make for an extremely boring wargame. Fortunately, these things do add up to make Infinity the most unique, fast paced, and engaging wargame that I have ever played.
Why Play Infinity?
To put things simply, there just isn’t another wargame out there like it. With Infinity’s Automatic Reaction Order (ARO) system, you are never not actively playing the game. Each of your opponent’s decisions create opportunities for your own counter plays through dodging or shooting around the battlefield all during your opponent’s turn. If you have ever been on the receiving side of a particularly devastating enemy turn in a classic you-go I-go wargame and sat on the other side of the table wondering when you actually get to have fun as well (maybe your opponent’s models have pointy ears and a ton of indirect fire and you will remember their Shooting Phase for the rest of your life), Infinity’s ARO system is for you!
Infinity was also built from the ground up to be an extremely competitive wargame. This really shines through in the many special rules, equipment, and weapon options the game has. Some wargame’s various factions can seem like they come from different games, with rules having different names creating the same in-game effect, or even creating events that happen with slightly different interpretations of those rules. Infinity solves this problem by having all of its factions use the same list of special skills, equipment, and weapons. A combi-rifle being shot by a Yu Jing model will have the same stats as the combi-rifle shot by their PanOceanian enemy. The only difference will be in the skills or equipment of the weapon’s firer. This system lets Infinity feel extremely balanced since many factions have access to the same tools.
Having the same rules for equipment and weapons doesn’t make the game feel like the factions are the same thankfully. The unique aspect of each faction comes into play in the access they have to certain things within the game. For example, the Shasvastii faction within Combined Army has a huge number of camouflaged soldiers that they can employ, however they have a serious lack of smoke grenades within their faction making certain playstyles unavailable to them.
Picking A Faction and Buying Models
One of the biggest perks of Infinity is it only requires, roughly, 10 models to play an entire game! Now this isn’t the same thing as only having to BUY 10 models, however it is extremely easy to pick up an entire Infinity force in a single purchase of under $100.
Factions in Infinity work slightly different than in most games. First, there are the main over-arching factions like Yu Jing, PanOceania or Combined Army. These armies contain all the models available within a faction, but they are limited on the types and numbers of Fireteams that they can employ on the tabletop. These super factions are then broken out into sub-factions (called Sectorials) that only contain a specific section of models from a given super faction. Sectorials also come with the added benefit of expanded Fireteam options and sizes. Fireteams are basically squads of models that operate under a single order during the game if they stick close together on the tabletop. These teams give powerful bonuses to their members, so it can definitely be worth it to play a faction’s sectorial army at the cost of missing out on some model options for the added benefit of gaining stronger Fireteams.
Once you choose your favorite faction there are a couple different ways to build a force to bring to your first Infinity game. First, there are two Battle Packs that are still relatively easy to get your hands on in Operation: Blackwind and Operation: Crimson Stone. These boxes are complete starter sets that come with two opposing forces from one of Infinity’s factions, cardboard terrain for a downsized table, and tokens, dice, and templates. For just over $100 these boxes are an excellent way to jump into the game with a friend, and once you are comfortable with the rules of the game, Corvus Belli typically releases additional support for these Battle Packs in the form of Beyond Boxes. The Beyond Boxes pair with a specific Operations Battle Pack and provide enough models for both factions to reach a full Infinity force of 300pts. If you are reading this article in a future that does not contain Operation: Blackwind or Crimson Stone don’t worry. Corvus Belli releases new Battle Packs regularly so just look for the most current one!
If the factions included in the most recent Battle Pack are not for you, then there are the faction specific Action Packs. These packs come in around $80 and come with ten models from a specific faction. They are a great way to jump directly into a faction and have most of the staple models you will need right off the bat. Unfortunately, Action Packs don’t come with the other things you definitely need to play Infinity like dice, tokens, and templates.
Other Things You’ll Need
Speaking of dice, tokens, and templates, Infinity is definitely a very token heavy game. There are a ton of things that tokens represent on the table in this game ranging from models concealed in a camouflaged state, deployable equipment, and even just useful tracking of different states that a model on the table can be in. The Battle Packs come with some tokens, but it would be disingenuous to say those are a complete set. By playing Infinity you are basically also taking up a second hobby of collecting cool markers and tokens along with your Infinity models. There are some amazing options for tokens out there ranging from magnetic options to normal acrylic tokens. Just know you will need some form of tokens to track things that are happening on the battlefield.
Infinity is an extremely terrain-centric game. In some wargames, you can get by without enough terrain on the tabletop and the game will play roughly how it should. This is definitely not the case with Infinity. If you and your opponent are looking for a 15 minute game, play a game on a table with sparse terrain. Terrain can be just as expensive to source as models for a wargame, so thankfully Corvus Belli has made some extremely cost effective options available. First, they have made packs of thin cardboard terrain available that include multiple buildings, walkways, crates, etc. for under $20! While these are by no means the most solid terrain option, and it will take multiple packs to fill a 4×4 Infinity table, they are by far the most cost effective way to have a fully functional Infinity table that won’t look half bad. There is also a slightly more expensive budget option in terrain packs that are made of thicker and harder cardboard. Again, it will take a few packs of these to make an entire table, but these are the best option to create a gorgeous sci-fi wargaming table with official Infinity terrain. On the opposite side of the cost scale there are companies making fully pre-painted MDF Infinity terrain that is gorgeous. If you have the means treat yo self.
There are two distinct rulesets in Infinity. The CodeOne rules are a paired down version of the main rules known as Infinity N4. The CodeOne rules can be a great way to jump into Infinity, especially if you are starting with a group of players with zero Infinity experience. However, if there is absolutely any Infinity scene happening where you are odds are they will be playing the N4 version of the game. While learning the CodeOne rules first won’t hurt, as the game mechanics are roughly the same, I find that I would rather just jump into the actual N4 version of the game right off the bat.
It’s Time to Jump In
Infinity can seem a little daunting to get into at first. Even though the game does not require a ton of models to play it can seem like there are a ton of rules to learn before you can even hope to understand this game, but I am here to tell you that if you have any experience with wargaming or board gaming, Infinity will not be any more difficult to learn that those other games. Sure, there is a ton of equipment, weapons, and skills in Infinity, but just like with other games, you will find that after a few play throughs, knowing what all the things do becomes second nature. What doesn’t become second nature that quickly is USING all your equipment and skills in a way that benefits you on the tabletop. I once heard someone joke “we call it Infinity because that’s how many rules there are,” but I like to think it’s called Infinity because that is how many options you have to solve the problems your opponent presents to you on the tabletop.