Operation: Icestorm – Infinity Starter Set Review


Many, many moons ago, my father and I attended the UK Games Expo in Birmingham. While there SMG were running one of the event only bargains and I grabbed a copy of Infinity and some PanO models. These models lay, barely undercoated, among my miniatures collection for a long time and then eventually, as with so much of my other hoarded loot, I sold them off. Not long after that, while I expanded my circle of friends to include gaming stalwart Carabus we decided to chuck some money at Corvus Belli and try to actually play the game. We’d already proxied some models and had a really fun time of it. Carabus had already gotten himself some filthy Asians and so I went with the all-encompassing brand new faction of Aleph and its host of AI robo-babes. Yes, that was my criteria for picking the army.

A handful of games and some re-reads of famously dodgy spanish to english translations we kind of fell away from it. It was a fun game but I think we tried to do too much too fast. Recently I’ve been hearing things about a new version of the rules and then, a new starter box to introduce them. As I still have all my models perhaps now was the chance to dive back in?

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I grabbed the starter from Element Games as it was the cheapest way to get it overall. It arrived in quick time too, so it was that on Friday I had the box in my hands. In all honesty the box was smaller and lighter than I expected, considering what I knew was in there I was surprised at how compact it was. That didn’t stop me from popping it open and taking a look at the goodies inside.

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The starter set comes with the core of two armies, I consider the price of the set a bargain for what you get. The two sets of models would easily set you back £30 a piece in my opinion and you really do have enough stuff to put on the table and play games beyond the starter missions that teach you the rules.

The models are metal so there really is no difference from these to the rest of the range which is sometimes what you get with starter boxes. Being Corvus Belli the sculpts are brilliant, if you’ve never checked these guys out then go and do it because they are stunning and are only getting better. There are also some D20s for each side, these are OK, not the highest quality of painting of the numbers but as they’re effectively a freebie I’m not too fussed. Each one has the faction symbol as the number 1 and because these are cut from the die themselves the only thing I did wonder was if this altered the weight and therefore the potential distribution of numbers over a lifetime of rolls. Most people probably aren’t going to care too much about that though. It’s not like you’re forced to use them either!

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Then there are two shrink wrapped packs. One contains the buildings and playmat, the other the rulebook and token sheet. The token sheet I thought looked a little thin for my tastes, however after punching them out they work really well and are going to be very useful. I’d like to see this expanded on to provide a full sheet for all the various tokens that are available in the full rules.

The buildings are similar to the card stock produced by Hawk Wargames for Dropzone Commander but are shinier and a little thicker. They go together well with no gluing required and there is space for them to be reinforced by inserting the starter boxes underneath them, a nice touch. These went together with no issues whatsoever and, even though they are card, feel like they’re going to survive the gaming table. It was all tight and held together really well. The cargo crates especially are a welcome addition.

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As for the rules themselves. So far it doesn’t seem like a huge amount has changed, but then these are only the starter set so the main rules will expand massively on this. The core rules are introduced over a series of missions that introduces more complex rules as the missions progress, all themed in a story set around the factions involved. It really is very good and I was hugely impressed with this set and the way it’s been laid out. The rules are actually much easier to understand in this version. Where there were times with the older rules you’d struggle to work out what was supposed to happen this really does make it easier to figure out when and how things happen.

Please ignore the gratuitous crotch in this photo
Please ignore the gratuitous crotch in this photo

If you’ve never played Infinity before than I can highly recommend this as your entry to one of the most original and interesting sci-fi games out there. If you’ve struggled with the rules and played before then I can also recommend this set, however, it may be of less value if you’re not interested in either of the factions included (there is a page in the rulebook which give you a very brief introduction to all the other factions and even provides an expanded army list for the starter factions to get up to the default level of 300pts). In fact, if I was forced to point out just one criticism it’s that, once assembled, the buildings do not then fit into the original box. Now, you could just flatten them out again, but I worry about their longevity if you keep doing that with the card stuff. I’d expect them to last a long time of you care for them though. There is also a great choice now for getting your Infinity terrain and this is a game that greatly benefits from plenty of terrain.

I’m now looking forward to playing through these missions and then seeing the full 3rd edition rules and getting back into the black ops battlefields of the future!

More Super Dungeon Explore!


sdeimagesSaturday saw the denizens of the floating citadel descend upon servitob’s trash cans  for a last minute arranged game of SDE.  Turnout was good, folks were stoked but nBreaker had forgotten the cards to play the myriad of expansions in his possession.

Luckily servitob had a basic card set stashed at a trusty neighbour’s house and was able to collect said cards and neighbour for a four hero game with the evil mastermind gribblin playing consul.

In keeping with our hardcore masochistic SDE tendencies we played the five hero version of events and selected the heroes entirely at random.  We therefore proceeded one hero down with a mismatched crew of hexcast, druid, barbarian and ranger.

Despite our best efforts gribblin managed total party kill before the big boss even spawned, much to his credit.  First to be slain was the hexcast who was an obvious target given her possession of the resurrection charm.  Second to be killed was the barbarian who was on a foolish solo jolly miles away from the rest of the team, then it was only a matter of time before the ranger and druid fell to the tide of denizens.

Overall, SDE remains a firm floating citadel favourite given it’s emphasis on teamwork and simple fun mechanics with very good visuals.  We’ll continue to play for the foreseeable future; especially as nBreaker acquires more and more RL SDE loot.

 

So, at the Weekend, Some Gaming Happened


That’s right, through the aligning of various celestial bodies and arcane rituals of a sort we’re unable to share on a publicly available medium, Gribblin and I turned up for some tabletop bases gaming goodness.

In usual 6″ move style it’s taken us a good while to get together, more people were invited but apparently the virgin’s blood may have been contaminated as not everyone was able to make it on the day.

What did we get up to then? Well, I’ll tell you.

Firstly we got around to playing a game of Star Trek Attack Wing. It occurs to me at this point that it might be nice to show some photos, especially as we’re now playing over a lovely GF9 space mat that I purchased a day earlier. I have the asteroid one if you care, it is very nice. Gribblin brought his fully upgraded Borg Tactical Cube while I took a species 8472 fleet composed of two Bioships with a far more frugal load out. I really enjoy the customisability of Attack Wing, it builds on what was started with the upgrades available in X-wing, but with the extra crew and pilot talents, as well as being able to mix and match from across the range, there’s a lot of potential there. Yes, I know it can be frowned upon to take things out of faction but I like to think of them as in faction versions of stuff that there aren’t options for currently. You also pay extra for it of course.

It was a very good game, I kept my ships in formation and unleashed the very best that Fluidic space could muster. The first few turns put some serious hurt on the Borg as the Bioship Alpha’s ability ensured there were auxiliary power tokens on the Cube and an early crit scuppered its actions as well, thus reducing its ability to regenerate. It tried to make a run for it but the agile Bioships doggedly pursued their quarry. In the end I lost a Bioship to the Tractor Beam/Cutting Beam wombo combo but that left the Alpha with a target lock on the Cube which it used to good effect by unleashing a blast of energy so vast there was no chance of regeneration. It was a tough game and losing the one Bioship delayed that killing blow as it was poised and ready to unleash something itself.

Following some lunch and a brief respite we cleared away the Trek and setup a game of Dropzone Commander. Gribblin once again fielded his alien warmongering Shaltari against the righteous forces of my meat shield UCM.

It was a game that I felt up against it a lot of the time. I refused one flank and left it to the fast-moving Shaltari, knowing that if I took the fight to them I’d be in a poor position as I could be outmanoeuvred. I took the centre building with two Bear squads, sadly, in a moment of poor planning I lost the Condor supporting them, even the 2″ bonus movement for moving on roads was not going to help. Luckily though I used my air cav infantry battalion to swap the objective over and flee the board with my “home” objective I’d won earlier. So, on turn 6 we both had 2 objectives off the table, however, Gribblin had is grubby downloaded consciousness on the final objective and was trying to evac by land with a Terragate. Luckily for me not only had I plinked a damage point off it earlier, but my Wolverine scouts had a clear line of sight to it and so it was, at pretty much the last roll of the dice I used the Kodiak’s orbital strike to target the gate. I rolled a hit and then watched with bated breath as the dice that would ultimately decide the fate of the game span across the table.

When the die came to rest it showed that a gaping crater in the earth was all that was left of the plucky transport. Having no infantry actually inside it meant that the Shaltari could only watch with horror as they lost the objective. The UCM won on kill points as I’d managed to take out several of Gribblin’s units and all of mine were still healthy enough to not count for anything. Needless to say it was a very close game and was a rather nail-biting finish. Just the kind of game that we enjoy.

4Ground Terrain Review


The tabletop gaming landscape is very different today than what it was a little over 20 years ago when I was introduced to the hobby via my father. This was via a trip into a local Games Workshop, no doubt the entry way that many of us proceeded through that led us to where we are today.

At the time GW was really the only option. I did some looking around at independent retailers and there was nothing out there that came close to what GW offered. Their models were (and some could argue still are) a cut above the rest and there wasn’t any other game that gave you the scale of combat that was possible for either Fantasy or 40k and that was when 40k was far more of a skirmish game than it is today.

If you wanted terrain for your games you had to make it. Eventually GW did come out with some cardboard kits (as well as stuff they gave away in White Dwarf… remember those days?). Gaming was generally done on a green felt mat, or white table cover (lots of games on snowy terrain there!) Very different to how things are today.

After making the decision to finally leave GW behind I’ve been much more free to rediscover some other gaming systems and look at the games I want to play. I’m waiting on some boards to arrive for Dropzone Commander from a Kickstarter that I backed. Turning my mind to some other skirmish games I rediscovered Malifaux, a game and universe I’d already enjoyed previously, not with a second version of the rules and a huge improvement to boot.

I picked up the Rules manuals and some Arsenal decks and took a look, liked what I see and decided I needed to return. But, I hear you utter, what on earth does that have to do with the title of this post? I’m glad that you asked. In this day and age there is a whole gamut of places whereby one can get affordably priced terrain to enhance your games. I’ve spent a large portion of my gaming life fighting across the grey plastic battlefields of the 41st millennium after all. As I looked into Malifaux again I decided that I wanted to make a proper table, one that would encourage me to have a painted force to play with too. So, I went looking.

4 Ground is a company I’ve been aware of for a while and are at the forefront of this, very popular, movement of laser cut MDF terrain. As anyone who has ever purchased their stuff knows, it smells fantastic! It looks good too and is relatively light on the wallet.

There have been very few moments in my gaming career that I have come across a product that I would have little reservation in completely recommending to anybody, the 4 Ground terrain is in that elite category. I have a little collection of the stuff now and have found it to be a really great product.

Each kit comes in a bag with a number of sheets of pre-cut, pre-painted MDF, along with a page or two of instructions. I heartily recommend that you familiarise yourself with the assembly instructions and look over the terrain sprues just so you know which parts are where and how they are supposed to fit together, this will save time later on when you’ve put glue on the wrong bit!

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I will say that these are certainly not for your beginners, there are also some parts that are very easy to break, especially door frames. However, because this is all just wood, a good dab of PVA and you can resurrect most pieces.

I’ve assembled three kits so far and have bought another three and I’ve never had so much fun putting terrain together. Some of the parts can be a tight fit, but these can be shaved down and you will feel like you’re going to break some of the parts as your try to prise them out of their frames, but as you build things up and you see the building come to life… Well, it’s a pure pleasure, I’ve seriously never enjoyed putting terrain together as much as I have with this stuff.

While the instructions could be clearer in some instances (hence why I recommend you study it out first) things go together easily enough. Occasionally you’re going to want to leave some assemblies to dry for a while as you’re using PVA not superglue so bonding isn’t instantaneous. This is not always a bad thing, although I end up really anticipating getting to sit down and finish off the buildings.

As well as the Marshall’s Office shown above (that I finished last night) I have Rogan’s Bar, the Gallows set and, as of yesterday, Hitching posts, Corrall set and an Under-construction 2 storey building. That should round out my Malifaux table quite nicely.

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What I love about these buildings is that they aren’t just shells. If you pop the roof off there are interior details, this is more obvious in the Marshall’s Office as it has actual working jail cells and interior doors. The bar shown above you could actually decorate if you so wanted, there’s a lot of room in there for stuff.

My only complaint with the Gallows is that the rope is a little too thick and therefore doesn’t quite work to the scale of the models it’s going to be used with (and the string in the instructions is obviously much thinner). But, I still can’t really complain about it for the price.

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This terrain set has also been bought for potential use with Deadman’s Hand. In fact, all of the terrain I have is from this range in 4 Ground’s catalogue. I can’t speak highly enough about the quality of it and the wonderful experience I’ve had assembling stuff. It makes me happy to think I still have some more to do at home and when I think of how this is going to look when it’s on the battlefield… This is certainly going to be the best one I’ve ever put out to play games over.

New Dreadball Edition Gives You Wood


Mantic have sold out of yet another printing of their “totally not Blood Bowl” sci-fi Football mash-up Dreadball. To honour that fact they are releasing a new version of the game with a slightly larger cost and a few more bits thrown in, or if, like me, you’ve been playing the game and scavving off a mate’s copy, you can go all in and buy way more stuff than you need.

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That being said, yet again Mantic put together a really nice deal. While their Restic isn’t the nicest of materials I’ve had the joy of working with and their models do have their moments, Dreadball has been a welcome addition to the halls of the floating citadel. It’s one of those games that it’d be nice to get people playing in a league for and with me now being the second person to get a set we’ve got the potential for playing two games at the same time as well as not having to cart everything to someone else’s house if we travel for an evening’s entertainment. There’s only one problem, this is due to ship in July and will therefore potentially be around the same time as the second shipment of Deadzone. That’s a lot of new toys going to be finding their way into my house. I really don’t have that long to knuckle down and really put some effort behind shifting all the GW stuff I have lying around.

I don’t need the rulebook and the season 2 book so those can go to a good home of someone else who’s interested in starting things up but there’s a significant saving to be had if you’ve got the coin to splash out.

Looks like I’ll be living off tin of economy beans for the rest of the month though.

Irreverant views on playing with toy soldiers