Secure the High Value Players: Interviews with the Top Five Players from the Australian Infinity Nationals 2023

Cancon, an Australian gaming convention held in Canberra (Canberra-Convention, Cancon…yeah, I dunno how they come up with these amazing names it’ll forever be a mystery), was held in late January. I had the pleasure of organising and (with the help of some amazing assistants) running the Australian Infinity Nationals, a recognised Satellite event.

Being the TO, I was lucky to be able to pin down our top-5 players and politely ask them some entirely optional (mandatory) questions before they were allowed to take their prizes home. Goonhammer maintains that absolutely no coercion, overt threats or excessive seduction was used to extract information from these players.

For the sake of context for some questions asked in these interviews, we’ll provide a brief explanation regarding The Potato Debate and the Red-K Cup here…

The Great Potato Debate

Name that fried potato snack…

In mainstream Australian culture there is a regional debate raging regarding whether a potato, battered and then fried is called a Potato Scallop, Potato Fritter or Potato Cake. In order to resolve this nation-scale dilemma, the Infinity community decided that it would be the winner of the Nationals event who would decide the One True Name of these delicious, starchy treats each year. Back in 2019, prior to COVID, the hero once known as Delta Kilo brought balance to the tribes by declaring that they would be called Crispy Frisbees and while COVID ravaged our land and no super-spreader events national tournaments happened thus they remained. 2022 saw a Can’tCon event occur but with only 16 players and not enough representation from Australia’s various states and territories we decided that the Frisbees would remain Crispy. However, 2023 is upon us and a new era in root vegetable nomenclature must begin…

The RedK Cup

A more recent tradition to be adopted by the Australian Infinity community is the RedK Cup. As Infinity lore enthusiasts may recall, the Red-K division is an Australian-based PanO combat group. Within the Australian tournament scene, the Red-K Cup is awarded to the state whose top-3 players have the highest combined score (from TPs, then OPs and finally VPs as tie-breakers). The first year the Red-K Cup was up for grabs, the ACT (Australian Capital Territory, AKA Those Canberrans) won it. They wished that they would hold the cup for another year and then the Monkey Paw’s index finger curled in and their wish was granted. COVID struck. It took two years of wishing on the Monkey Paw before Canberra finally learned their lesson and learned to let go. At the next event, Novacore 2022, New South Wales won the Red-K Cup with strong competition from both the ACT/Canberrans and Victorians.

1st Place: RobShep, Tohaa

Sygmaa Trihedron (Photo credit: RobShepherd)

CanCon List 1 – The Sugmaa Trihedron


List 2: CanCon List 2 – The Sugmaa Trihedron


Congratulations on winning the Australian Nationals for Infinity, Rob. Tell us, what’s your secret?

I don’t think there’s any ‘secret’ to winning an event as big as a fifty-two player nationals tourney. You need to be prepared, but more than that you genuinely need to be at least a little bit lucky. Even if you’re very practiced, enough bad luck in the wrong place at the wrong time can scupper a player’s event. That needs to not happen, five games in a row, for a first place finish.   

That does lead into my decision to play Tohaa for the event, though. Tohaa performance generally is on the high side (although I’d argue in large part that’s just because the average Tohaa player at this point has been playing them for a long time, since they’re OOP), but the way the Tohaa army works also makes them highly resistant to concentrated spikes of bad luck. Symbiomates are expensive (especially to take three of them like I did) but give you a small handfull of get out of jail free cards that can ride you through some moments of bad luck. Combined with a lot of players being inexperienced facing them, and you’ve got a really strong foundation to make a run at a first place finish.

Tell us about your lists. Did you build for scenarios, tables or opponents?

I know building for scenario is common in Infinity, but if I can, I prefer to be able to build for table or opposing force. With about two months to prepare for CanCon after I’d decided on Tohaa, I actually ended up settling on one list that I liked for just about all matchups and scenarios, which freed me up to write a second list for a few specific matchups or tables. My first list was my generalist list, and I played it all three rounds, but my second list would have been dropped into a matchup where I expected a very light core infantry link (Acontecimento or OSS, for example) or in a corridor table where I couldn’t bring my snipers to bear.

In general, the tables at CanCon were a little on the open side (with one or two interesting interior tables, all of which I dodged, alas), which meant the decision to play the list with two snipers, one of whom could deploy on the back table edge, was usually an easy one. 

What’s a Sugmaa Triumvirate?

Look, I’ll level with you. It was a typo of ‘Sygmaa Trihedron’ (who are a real thing that exist in Infinity) that I didn’t have the heart to change and just ran with. On a related note, it’s so sad that Fractaa all die of Ligma.

Not today, Satan.

Photo credit: RobShepherd

What was your favourite game or moment during the weekend?

My favourite moment was unquestionably sitting in the cool breeze at the George Harcourt Inn the evening after the first day of the event, eating pub food, drinking and talking shit with the better part of fifty other nerds. 

 My favourite in game moment was probably the end of game three. Playing supplies, a Marut had made its way to my deployment zone to seize a downed supply box. I couldn’t kill the Marut, but I could have a poor, doomed triad run screaming at it, two of them burning to death from flamethrower hits, just so the third could crash-tackle the giant robot and prevent it from counting as controlling the supplies.

For those of us who want to learn more about how your games played out, if you had a YouTube channel filled with battle reports, faction discussions and even the occasional cheeky Tier-List (and I’m not saying you do), where would someone go to look to find it?

You can find my Infinity battle reports and other content here. 

So, the real question? Scallops, Fritters, Cakes?

Only Australians will understand why you’re asking this question, but I’ll say now what I said on the day: we have a definitional function for this. Was the potato mashed and caked before being deep fried? Or are you frying sliced (scalloped) pieces of battered potato? The answer is in the word.

Yes, I will die on this hill. 

What’s next for you?

After playing Tohaa for a couple of months, I want to go back to some other factions. Haqqislam, O-12, Yu Jing and some of the mercenary companies are all on the radar.

2nd Place: TWB, Acontecimento

Gorgeous Acontecimento army courtesy of TWB

List 1: CANCON1 – Acquisition/Unmasking/Supremacy


List 2: CANCON2 – Supplies / Cryogenics


Not only did you come second but you took out the painting prize, can you tell us more about the secrets to painting so well? How do you compose and then execute these awesome colour schemes? Hours of practice and talent honed over years? Sell your soul to the Devil?

On one hand I wish I had a story about promises from a mysterious stranger at a crossroads on a stormy night… on the other, the boring answer is actually the more optimistic one to hear, or at least that’s the way I like to think about it. Good army painting is a combination of deliberate practice, thoughtful planning and dogged perseverance. There are heaps of really valuable guides and articles on miniature painting, and I won’t pretend I’ve accurately distilled them into three ideas, but you’ve given me a soapbox now so I’m going to stand on it. I’ve even come up with three words beginning with “P” for painting so that’s got to be worth something.


No surprise to anyone and relatively straightforward – the more you do something the better you get at it – but there are also the added advantages of experience giving you the ability to more accurately predict your end result and the confidence to push towards finishing a piece that might be looking a little concerning mid way through the painting process. I think it’s also no surprise that becoming a really proficient technical painter requires a lot of time, but becoming a good army painter is achievable with a solid grasp of the basics and a little deliberate practice of new techniques occasionally to make sure your painting is always progressing. By “deliberate”, I mean practice that pushes you outside your comfort zone, so you need to actively consider the task in front of you and assess if your application of paint is achieving the effect you’re after. Knowing your current abilities and having clear goals for your painting is super important for improving, and leads me to the next P.


I think all successful miniature painting requires planning, and that it’s even more crucial for army painting. From a pragmatic perspective, for army painting you have to paint at least 15 and likely 40-50 of a faction for infinity (and waaay more than that for other game systems). If you’re actually going to paint that silver horde you need to come up with a scheme that you can paint, that you want to paint and that looks good when you’re finished. So you have to be realistic about not only what standard you can paint to, but how long that will take and if you have the time or will get bored and frustrated halfway through the job. I think important things to keep in mind include telling a story with your scheme, trying something new you haven’t done before to keep the element of challenge alive and choosing a scheme with strong visual impact that you really like when you complete each mini to give that little dose of motivation.


Painting isn’t always fun. Sometimes it’s dull and repetitive no matter how well you’ve planned out a scheme that’s fast, intellectually engaging and gives a great end result. I find the final ingredient to actually getting through painting a whole army is the combination of regularly making time for painting and having deadlines. The investment of maybe just a couple of hours regularly each week to push projects along makes a huge difference. I find just forcing myself to sit down and start often leads me to find it a whole lot easier to sit back down the next day, or to keep going after that initial activation energy barrier has been passed. As for deadlines, tournaments are ideal to add that extra motivation to get projects done. 

If you want more specifics about how I go about the actual composition/planning stage of my schemes, and then the details of execution, I can go on forever. But, I suspect nobody wants to be ambushed by a wall of text on painting during a tournament recap article so I reckon I’ll save that for another day.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Tikbalang?”
“I think I am, Dragao.”
Both: “It’s gunboat diplomacy time!”
(Photo credit: TWB)

Tell us about your lists. Did you build for scenarios, tables or opponents?

List 1: CANCON1 – Acquisition/Unmasking/Supremacy

  • Regular link is static and defensive
  • Dragao removes any exposed/overextended threats
  • Dart is secondary attack piece or assassin
  • Naga + Scylla are hacking support and button pushers
  • Fugazi + Peacemaker are repeater network and ARO speed bumps

List 2: CANCON2 – Supplies / Cryogenics

  • Regular link is static and defensive
  • Tikbalang + Montesa duo allows the Tikbalang to be aggressive while pulling a heavy specialist around to do the missions
  • Clipper is secondary attack vector and makes reactive spotlight a threat
  • Naga + Scylla are hacking support and button pushers
  • Fugazi + Peacemaker are repeater network and ARO speedbumps

I always build for missions first. In fact, I choose my faction based on missions before list building begins in earnest. The lineup for Cancon 2023 included 4 / 5 missions that required you to hold zones (Supremacy and Cryogenics) or objectives (Supplies and Acquisition) at the end of the game. If you have to go 1st in those missions and can’t cripple your opponent then you need to have something tough enough to survive a Turn 3 all-out assault, and for me that’s a TAG.

The next thing that stood out for me looking at the CANCON missions was that 2 / 5 had Doctor or Paramedic bonuses on important button pushing (Supplies and Cryogenics). There were no Specialist-heavy missions or Armoury room missions and only 1 Exclusion Zone, so that meant list building didn’t need to be especially complicated.

Considering the factions I play regularly (TJC, ASA, SEF, OSS) looking for strong TAGs and nice Doctors/Paramedics that I’d be willing to push into the midfield I ruled out Tunguska and Shasvastii. TJC because I wanted a remote presence TAG and they didn’t have the specialist mix I was after. Shas because I don’t like seed soldiers and didn’t want to give up marker state for a sphinx to be a Master Breacher. In OSS the Marut is tricky to squeeze into balanced lists and hard to justify without smoke, and while I’ve had a good time with Parvati in a Haris supporting a K1 Rudra I knew I’d simply feel more comfortable leaving it at home.

Acontecimento has been a favourite of mine for a long time, it fit the missions and the lists I started to write included minis I wanted to paint up or update.

What was your favourite game or moment during the weekend?

I enjoyed every one of my 5 games and had such excellent opponents that rather than doing them a disservice by choosing between them, I’m going to pick one highlight out of every game instead (Ed: Player’s names have been replaced with their ITS handles as a privacy measure. Yes, Ryan Kirby is his ITS ID):

  1. Sab09 (Morats) had put the effort in to finish his Morats especially for Cancon. We also had the fortune to draw a newly painted table that looked great. My favourite part of Infinity games is when you have both finished deployment and everything is on the board ready to go. There was a crackle of potentiality as Noakes and I shook hands over our newly painted minis ahead of an uncertain exciting future. Then my Dragao’s HRMC spun up…
  2. Inane.Imp’s (Tunguska) take on Nomad hacking is always really interesting to play against and I haven’t had the opportunity for a long time. I wish we could have leisurely played it out but time pressed, the game swung my way with a crucial pistol crit and the Tikbalang murdered everything it touched to win me the game on my last order.
  3. Knockout_13 (Vanilla Combined Army) was the ultimate stoic in the face of roll after roll of Tikbalang crits. I hope he will forgive me singling out the 3 or 4 orders over which the Tikbalang weathered rounds of plasma fire in ARO before pinning down his Anathematic and obliterating it as a highlight of the game.
  4. Kanhead’s Shasvastii lived up to their race’s reputation as elusive tricksters. The highlight is no doubt Luke pulling out a well-earned draw using every single remaining order of his T3 to move up an ikadron repeater, possess my dragao, use it to kill my naga, activate a console with a malignos out of hidden deployment and run a speculo into a zone to claim it and score 3 pts to level the game at 6-all.
  5. For me the highlight of my game against Ryan Kirby was digging myself out of a puzzle of my own devising. My montesa foolishly revved his engine too close to Ryan’s fiday who leapt into CC with Scylla, threatening to undo the good work of several orders of careful Discovering. Unwilling to suffer the shame of responsibility for the failure, my Montessa charged to the rescue to duel the Fiday at close quarters, saving Scylla and thwarting the Hassassins’ wicked plans.

TWB’s Regular link providing overwatch (photo credit: TWB)

What’s next for you?

There are 3 things I want to push forward in the next 6 months:

  1. More display painting. I was ecstatic that my 2 entries into Crimson Brush at Cancon made it to Bronze level. I’d really like to paint something to Silver standard in the next year. 
  2. A JSA army project that will be dreadful on the table but will look fantastic.
  3. Starting a City States Conquest army. Hopefully I can put my own advice to good use and find the right mix of visual impact, painting speed and painting challenge to get it out of the box and onto the table sooner rather than later.


3rd Place: Valukr, Imperial Secret Service

Val didn’t provide a photo of their army so have a nifty Sandworm from a great table at Cancon

List 1: ISS Cancon 4.18 (Used 5 games)


List 2: ISS Cancon 12.0 (Used 0 games)


I’ve heard stories about the Party Bus. How was the 8-ish hour drive with yourself and few select mates? What did you gossip about? Anyone confess to any grisly hitch-hiker murders along the way?

For the most part, what happens on the bus, stays on the bus. Though, I’ll admit my antics on the way up nearly resulted in a mutiny, which would of seen me hitch-hiking the rest of the way to Canberra, but that’s all I’ll say on the matter

ISS is a dark horse faction, we don’t see much of it around here in competitive play. What convinced you to take them to the Australian nationals?

Imperial Service is a faction I have been playing on and off for years. They were my first faction I focused on. The changes refreshed them for me, so I really enjoyed digging deep to understand their strengths all over again. You don’t see them because they’re a little old and they can be very difficult. However, I am a big proponent of Infinity and the belief that the game is extremely well balanced and every faction is viable, some just take a little more precision that others.

Tell us about your lists. Did you build for scenarios, tables or opponents?

List 1: ISS Cancon 4.18 (Used 5 games)

Core: 3x Kuang Shi(2 chain / 1 BSG) CG Monitor, Xi Zheng
Haris: Pheasant, Dakini Paramedic, Dakini HMG

I wrote two lists, but I only used one. Acquisition is a mission I was least confident about, so I had a list for that and Cryogenics. I was praying for a favorable matchup round 1 (newish/player). However, when I was drawn with Lachlan Summers, I made the decision very quickly that I needed to take the list I am most familiar with. Whilst by round 5, I had such a good run with my one list so far, i figured i am not risking changing up now.

My list is designed to play into the strengths of ISS, which revolves around having answers to your opponents tricks, giving you plenty of orders and an apex gunfighter. It is also a list that is well rounded with plenty of diverse specialists. I won’t unpack everything going on in the list, but I will say that the weekend MVP was easily the Ninja HD, winning me 3 out of 5 games. 

What was your favourite game or moment during the weekend?

My favorite part of infinity is problem solving and tension. I LOVE  a close game. Considering all my opponents placed in the top 15, I had 5 extremely difficult games and tense games, loving every single one of them, I can’t choose one. Though I will never forget game 3, in which I thought I had done enough to win, holding 2 supply boxes in supplies, only to have my opponent decided to use the last two orders of the game to YOLO a grenade from 31 inches away on my Dakini on a 3 or less, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat – heart breaking. 

If, hypothetically, you were a host for an incredibly popular podcast about Infinity, what would you name that podcast? You know, for people who like to listen to Infinity-flavoured content on their daily commute?

Hahaha, thanks for the set up, if you are in need of a podcast for the morning commute, I welcome everyone to tune into Loss of Lieutenant – We are a melbourne based podcast hosted by Kevin, Jacob, Nic and myself.

What’s next for you? Is Victoria going to take the Red-K cup home next year?

I am turning my attention to TAK, I usually play a sectorial/faction for a year and move on. It is time for the TAK attack, I’ve played MO, Morats and ISS – all factions without any camo, it’s time to experience another side of the game. On a personal level, I hope to win my first event, I’ve been knocking on the door with consistent Top-5’s in last three big events. From a Victorian point of view, I really hope we can knock off NSW next year and get the Cup – might require a group grudge, though.


4th Place: Z3phyr, Vanilla Pan Oceania

PanO army courtesy of Z3phyr

List 1: Cutter 


List 2: Squalo Duo


Vanilla PanO! I am so excited to see this make the top 5. Some people have argued that PanO’s schtick is ‘big numbers’ in F2F shooting rolls, making the Fireteams in sectorials the correct choice. Why are they wrong and what convinced you to take vanilla over a Sectorial?

There were several things that led to the decision of me taking Vanilla PanO over any of its sectorials. Firstly was that I am pretty garbage with larger link teams and prefer the larger number of moving parts that Vanilla PanO offers. I feel that a lot of PanO sectorial lists often end up with the Core, the Haris, a TAG then maybe one other piece that can achieve meaningful things. I wanted to avoid this overconcentration of forces in my lists.

Moreover, I think in PanO the status quo of the biggest guns in your list has shifted from your fireteams to your TAGs. The ability to tank a failure and try again and be able to reroll to repair the TAG is a massive advantage. Whereas something like even a Bolt if you roll a 2 and a 3 and fail two saves it’s off the table. So I find that except for NCA what you are really trading off is direct reactive strength which I was happy to do for a wider variety of active pieces.

The biggest advanTAGe for me is the disposable close assault elements that Vanilla gets. Motorised Bounty Hunters, Liang Kai, and Shona Carano are unhackable and work wonders within 8 inches. They solve so many problems that would otherwise cause innumerable headaches. Like, Pitchers next to your TAGs, warbands in CC, things hiding on roofs and a method to attack into close in defences. I personally consider Liang Kai the most game changing piece for PanO and he overperformed every single round.

So, for me it was really a toss up between Svalarheima and Vanilla. In the end I chose Vanilla because it’s the one that I am most comfortable with, I love its cheap defensive pieces like Regulars, Auxilia and Helots, and also because I am personally just not a fan of the Jotun compared to the other PanO TAGs. I know its a good TAG it is just expensive and I would rather pay to win the Face-to-Face roll rather than to pass more saves.

What’s your favourite PanO TAG?

My favourite PanO TAG has to be either the Tikbalang or the Cutter. The Cutter is just such a comforting and enabling piece, especially the Lt Cutter. Being almost immune to active turn hacking and suicide CC runs, as well as being the last word into any gunfight that isn’t with Phoenix from Steel Phalanx  means that it is very hard to be put into a position where you cannot advance. I also think the close combat problem solvers I value so highly work in concert with it amazingly. But it is so hard to compete with the absolute bargain that is the Tikbalang. Climbing Plus, Mines and a Heavy Flamethrower for its cost is so cheap and the fact you can link it with a Karhu engineer is just the cherry on top. Bringing a way to clear repeaters, AP, an Engineer, NCO, and being able to keep up means it’s probably the most fun of all of the spectacular new PanO duos. 

Tell us about your lists. Did you build for scenarios, tables or opponents?

So when I decided to go to Cancon I was in the process of testing the Lt Cutter and I was really enjoying it. I also realised that the Cutter list played very well into almost all the missions. A 97 point Mimetism-6 camo TAG is great for controlling zones and sweeping the harder AROs I was expecting for missions like Supplies. So, that list went through a couple of changes specifically for Cancon like the addition of the Montessa Knight with Red Fury. But the list struggled with a lack of order efficiency for Acquisition and there were a couple other worries. In Cryogenics a Teutonic knight was a very cheap durable Master Breacher unless my opponent was running guided missiles, and, of course, Phoenix gives the Cutter conniptions. Also with the Cutter in Group Two some tables would call upon it to spend more orders than it had available. So List Two was based around the Squallo NCO, Santiago KHD duo and a Nisse HMG. It gave me the orders to roll over people with the TAG on tables that allowed it, had a much more hacking resistant Master Breacher and brought MSV2. So I had one primary list because the Cutter can be a gear check that most armies massively struggle with and list two dealt with the scenario weaknesses and matchup weaknesses of the first list. 

What was your favourite game or moment during the weekend?

My favourite game was definitely my Round 3 game of Supplies, I won the roll, took deployment and castled down and then I basically killed my opponents entire flank with Liang Kai and the SMG Motorised Bounty Hunter, putting him into Loss of Lieutenant. He clawed his way back in Turn 2 and in his Turn 3 hunkered down with two boxes. He held back his Ninja Hacker until the perfect moment to gum up my run with my Montessa Knight and it died, but a lucky Spec-Fire from my Regular hacker at 31 inches needing a 3 I rolled a 1 and took out his Dakini holding a box to win on Classifieds. It was a great back and forth game and I learnt a lot from it. Plus, I have a moment that I will remember for a long time to come.

What’s next for you?

Next up for me I am going to start playing some Morats. I want to get better with link teams and move away from the crutch that is PanO TAGs. They are super strong but I don’t want to pick up bad habits around them. Also getting to run more offensive hacking and warbands with smoke will be a welcome chance to broaden my skills and understanding of different approaches to the game. I’m definitely going to come back to PanO, I really enjoy them but I want to expand my horizons within Infinity and come back later with fresh eyes.

5th Place: Nice Things, Vanilla Aleph

This is why we do have…NiceThings (photo credit: NiceThings)

How long have you been playing Infinity?

I’ve been playing Infinity for a little under a year at this point. This Cancon was my first two day event for Infinity. I’ve played a few one day events before now. But this was my first real crack at a big two day event. Decided to make the trip up with some of the other Melbourne and Geelong players and just have a go at it. 

Tell us about your lists. Did you build for scenarios, tables or opponents?

So, with the Missions that were selected I realised that Vanilla Aleph has a really easy time doing the missions with our plethora of WIP 13+ specialists. And since there were no heavy list building skew missions included (Think, like, Firefight which actively punishes you bringing specialists) I had a lot of freedom with how I could list-build. So I decided to build one more ‘Take Everyone’ style list that could, in a pinch, do every mission with relative ease (Three Greeks). With my second list being a more attack-skewed Achillies V2 list. Which I could bring if I felt the table/my opponent favoured trying to run in and deliver a knockout punch turn 1.

Both lists have Atalanta as a pivot Hard-ARO and attack piece with MSV2 and Smoke, and she (outside of round 4) performed incredibly well for me all weekend. Both lists also include Penthesilea, who I think is dangerously close to just being an Aleph auto include, especially after the bike changes. 

What was your favourite game or moment during the weekend?

Favourite moment has to be my proxy Mk.4 sending a Marut from 3STR to unconscious level 1 in ARO in round 1 (Sorry again, Josh). Was just such an improbable thing to happen but dice games be dice games.

What’s next for you?

More Infinity. I’m so keen to hit up more two day events this year, looking forward to both Burn City Brawl, and ASG down in Melbourne and Geelong respectively. Also looking forward to changing up factions. I’m moving on from Vanilla Aleph for a bit and re-learning how to move a link team around again by playing some Morats! 


Well, that’s a wrap on the top-5 players from the Australian Infinity Nationals. While, in a very technically correct sense they are, indeed, the winners I would argue that everyone who came to Cancon and played Infinity was also a winner. Also you, dear Goonhammer reader, you’re a winner, too. Stay wonderful and never change, I appreciate you just the way you are.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at