Timfinity Tournament Report, December 2021

So after the Year Unspeakable, I finally got some games of Infinity at our regular local Timfinity tournament. These were a good reminder of why I love the game – two games where everything went exactly according to my theorycrafted plan and I disassembled my opponents remorselessly while taking almost no losses, and one game where… well, we’ll get there. I did win the tournament overall, though, because everyone managed to eliminate each other from contention and the only person who was a threat to my score had to leave early. We take those!

I’m going to try a different style for writing about these games; rather than a blow by blow of the events I’m going to talk about the tactical puzzles that I encountered each one and how I resolved them, letting the rest of the events cascading in the background.

My list was the Yu Jing monstrosity I’ve been threatening people in the group email with for a couple of months. This was designed for the Decapitation and Frontline scenarios – basically any scenario that involves lots of fighting and not many specialists. To whit:

Group 1:

– Daoying BSG Lieutenant +2 Orders

– Celestial Guard Controller

– Kuang Shi

– Kuang Shi

– Kuang Shi

– Kuang Shi

– Su Jian Heavy Shotgun

– Mowang Red Fury

Shaolin Monk

Shaolin Monk

Group 2:

– Hac Tao Missile Launcher

– Long Ya Minelayer

– Long Ya Minelayer

– Shaolin Monk

– Krit Kokram Heavy Shotgun EM Mines

I think this is the meanest list I’ve written for N4. It’s so deadly, adaptable and flexible, with each piece multi role and genuinely spooky. Combat Group 2 is my pride and joy, though – there’s an immense amount of flexibility in it. Here are some things it can do:

– Co-ordinate a Long Ya/Hac Tao missile barrage on a hard target like a TAG

– Co-ordinate a move/lay mine move from the Long Ya/Krit.

– Co-ordinate a re-enter camouflage order from the Long Ya/Hac Tao.

– Put 7 orders into an offensive with Krit, who can do a huge number of classifieds, fix the Su Jian, lay mines or just kill stuff on his own merits.

Game 1: VS Varuna Immediate Reaction Division, Frontline

He wins the LT roll and keeps deployment. He sees the number of irregular orders I have and chooses to use his command token to restrict the number of command tokens I can spend in the first battle round. It’s a defensible choice, but probably incorrect in the grand scheme of things – two orders off the Su Jian is probably always the superior play.

I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better stress test of my list – which, as you’ll note, has not a single HMG to its name, and nothing that can really fight a linked Kamau sniper. My list deals a lot in binaries – either it can kill something or it can’t, and that Kamau will butcher the Mowang and the Hac Tao in a fair fight. He’s also got a linked Orc Feurbach standing alongside the Kamau, outside of template range. It’s a classic Infinity scenario – what do you do when you’re up against utterly overwhelming firepower, cannot use smoke to mask your advance, and do not have any pieces capable of engaging it fairly?

Engage unfairly, of course.

The HSG Su Jian was one of my big theorycraft ideas during lockdown. In N3 I had, of course, been wedded to the Spitfire – a wonderful weapon for preying on tides of weak models. N4 gives me both harder targets and less orders with which to crack them, and a Heavy Shotgun is an extremely decisive weapon. Other relevant factors were that this was an Antartic Terrain scenario, pushing the Su Jian to a remorseless 9/2 movement speed, and that when you’re firing the shotgun in template mode you do not have to give a damn about the BS penalty to being in mobility form.

So I approached the Su Jian around a side angle, punched through a Montessa Knight in a single order – running up and putting her under triple Damage 16 templates can crack heavy infantry while laughing off a return damage 13 hit with armour 8 in cover. That then gave me the angle I needed to sprint the Su Jian around a corner, dash across the open, and put the Kamau into shotgun range. I took some hits in return but it’s worth it 100% of the time – the loss of the Kamau is crippling to the VIRD player and is absolutely worth some sacrifices to take down. If you don’t have a Su Jian a Libertos will do the same job – just run at the Kamau as a camo token and you’ve got a guaranteed 21 inch threat range with the shotgun template (move-move for 8, move fire shotgun for 4+8.5, all added to the Libertos’ +8 inch forward deployment meaning that you can hit anything within 30 inches of your table edge in two orders and a clear line, terrain notwithstanding).

After the Kamau was down I pressed the attack, taking out two further members of the link team before withdrawing. Notably I left the ORC standing on overwatch as I savaged the link team behind him, because without any link team bonuses he was easy to finish off with a surprise shot from the Hac Tao in combat group 2.

My opponent was comparatively new to Infinity and he took this horrible sequence of events very well. I think that VIRD is a great learning faction for this reason – because you’ve got such overwhelming dice superiority, your opponents are forced to rely on unfair engagements to take your stuff down – which means you get a front row view ofsome of the most advanced plays in the game as they’re used against you.

Game Two: Vs Ramah Taskforce, Decapitation

He wins the LT roll and keeps deployment. It seemed like a clear mistake at the time. Not only is Ramah in general a faction with a very tenuous defense but his list just did not seem to have the support needed to stop me bodying him hard right from the word go; no overwatching snipers, no total reaction HMGs, not even flamethrower guys. I’ve got the Mowang deployed ready to tear apart his core link and I’m preparing for it to be a quick game when he reserve drops the Magrihaba.

This actually hard counters almost my entire setup! Not least because the approach to the Maggie is covered by a linked hacker and the corner angles are deeply difficult to approach. The Mowang just straight can’t engage the thing because Damage 13 is totally ineffective against TAG armour, the hacker prevents me from easily sliding Krit close under the cover of smoke, and the Shaolin Monk I had in the area is not anywhere like the TAG demolition specialist he was in N3. The Su Jian is, of course, the perfect tool for engaging a TAG but I deployed it on the other side of the table so it could go after his Designated Targets. It was a tough situation! In another game I would have had to commit to the Monk offensive, burn all of combat group 1’s orders dropping smoke and engaging the link team, and then used Krit in CG2 to drop a combination of EM mines and HSG rounds in a risky trade that isn’t guaranteed to kill the Maggie. It was a really good move from my opponent.

The fact that I had a Hac Tao who had a diagonal across the table that could catch the Magrihaba out of cover in a 40 inch band, after being able to put a missile into an incautiously placed link team member that caught one of her friends, rendered the question a bit moot though. This comes back to my theorycrafting about the Hac Tao Missile and my vocal support for Hidden Deployment as a powerful gameplay concept: he reserve dropped the Maggie in full view of the Hac Tao after waiting out my reserve drop. He’d made the correct tactical play against literally other opposing force. Even the Hac Tao HMG is less than 20% as effective in that situation because it doesn’t outrange the Maggie and isn’t guaranteed to punch through its armour in 5 orders at that range. The ability to produce a circular template after your opponent has not deployed expecting circular templates is choice. It’s another entry in a list of binaries – sometimes this thing is just the perfect tool for the job and it straight up cannot be effectively engaged. I sent in the Monk to mop up some exposed pieces.

After that nightmare concluded, my opponent tried to come back with a Tarik offensive, but the gas wasn’t there – and another binary showed its face. The Red Fury Mowang in Suppressive Fire represents an unstoppable roadblock to a wide range of medium tier gunfighters, including Tarik – with -3 cover, -3 mimetism, -3 suppressive fire, it turns a BS13 opponent gunfighter to 3 dice on 7’s vs 3 dice on 10’s. And in a game of Infinity you just *can’t* chew your way through three wounds of coinflip gunfights, that’s the most awful high risk turn you can possibly spend. So it worked out that this was a game where my opponent, despite what seemed to be an extremely clever deployment of the Maggie, found himself on the wrong end of binary engagements every time.

I had originally designed a totally different list for Countermeasures, but after the success of these games I decided that I was going to toss it and write an on the fly adaptation that kept the core concepts of my current list intact.

Lose: Shaolin Monk, Both Long Yas,

Gain: Libertos Minelayer, Sensor Remote, Flash Pulse Remote, Upgrade Daoying to Hacking Device

The idea was that with a hacking device and a forward observer I’d be able to do enough of the classified deck to make a difference and otherwise just play like it was annihilation.

Game 3: Vs Vanilla Haqqislam, Countermeasures

(Credit to my opponent, Robert Cantrell)

So there are some universal Infinity experiences.

Knauf was up on overwatch, standing next to the total reaction turret that comes free in ITS13. When the Hac Tao revealed and put a missile into the turret he was bypassing Knauf’s mimetism and applying surprise shot penalties. It was one dice on 14’s vs one dice on 7’s, and I rolled a 12. Of course, he critical hit me in exchange, I failed two armour 8 rolls and died instantaneously.  First order of the game and I’m down 60 points and my only long range firepower. WELP.

So obviously this was a crushing blow I’d never recover from. My opponent, the brilliant Robert Cantrell, was playing one of his classic Rat Haqq lists, wherin he has foregone the concept of ‘weaponry’ in exchange for as many dirty tricks as he can fit in a list, and Knauf was his only serious active turn gun. With him dead I would have board control with the Hac Tao, taxing him with smoke grenades every time he wanted to accomplish anything. With him alive I was in serious trouble, an absolute disaster of a game state.

But that’s the thing about Infinity. The nature of the game. You never know who’s going to be the main character of any given match. Sometimes it’s, as expected, the giant battlecat with a shotgun, and sometimes it’s the invisible badass with a rocket launcher. And sometimes it’s a barely armed fish who is too angry to die.

The Mowang and the Su Jian were both boxed in by Knauf so they weren’t useful, so instead I needed to make use of that Libertos trick I mentioned in part one – run my gal through the open relying on her marker state to buy her a free 8 inches of movement. After hugging a building on my approach that was enough to close the distance with Knauf and engage him with a shotgun. He went down, I took a single wound on the Libertos which made her Dogged, and committed further to the attack. And it was a good attack – I was in a target rich, badly positioned enemy formation and I had the potential to inflict a lot of damage. And that potential was realized.

The reason why the enemy formation was badly positioned was because my opponent had been counting on the Hac Tao’s empty space in my order pool being a Liu Xing. It was a reasonable supposition – Liu Xing are great in Countermeasures, I’d been talking about Liu Xing a lot in recent Infinity discussions, and even my list before I did those last minute rewrites centrally featured a Liu Xing. As a result my opponent had deployed to maximize facing, ensuring that no angles were left uncovered where I could drop an explosion template from the sky. This deployment was very unsuited to engaging a Libertos just coming at ya with a shotgun and so this 8 point unit tore through the heart of my opponent’s army, landing such devastating body blows that by the end of the turn, contrary to every expectation I had when my Hac Tao died, it was an actual game again.

The game from there descended into an absolute feral, scrappy disaster game where we both scrambled to accomplish basic tasks and offensives with the remnants of our armies. The final score works out to be 1 classified to 2 his way. It was one of the most entertaining, down to the wire experiences I’ve had in this game for a long time in a way that defies easy description – everything happened on every front and anyone who did anything died. There were a dozen different points where everything hung in the balance, and arguably my loss was down to me cycling out the wrong classified on the final turn.

And that’s my final thought for the tournament. The games where everything went exactly according to plan, and I can talk about the demonstrated techniques in a dry, intellectual way were satisfying but they weren’t fun. What was fun when my plan fell apart immediately and I had to scramble to make a comeback. So, do your best not to get tilted when the dice give your opponent  that 7 – it could mean that you’re in for the game of your life.