Saturday, 5 May 2012

Infinity: Haris L1... should I be concerned?

Just what has this little token brought to the table?

So Infinity has a new rule, Fireteam: Haris L1, you can read it for yourself here. What does this little rule update actually mean though for the game of Infinity? Answer it's probably too early to say for sure. I remember the furore over Link Teams and Sectorial lists in the Human Sphere book. It caused quite a stir at the time and people were sure it would lead to at least one of two things, if not both:

  1. Totally unbalance and unhinge the game
  2. Lead eventually to a bigger squad based Infinity

Now at the time I wasn't really a full member of the online Infinity community, I was more a lurker who occasionally posted a brief comment, so I didn't get all tangled up in any of the 'debate'. Although I did find much of it very interesting to read at the time.

My current Link Team of Choice... with a Missile Launcher!

There were the doom mongers who preached that the apocalypse was coming, there were the moderates who preached we should wait and see before deciding, and then their were the blind zealots who believed Corvus Belli could do no wrong and soon Infinity would take over the globe!!! Now... I didn't fit into any of those three broad camps, and if I did it was probably with the moderates. Nope I believed all three viewpoints were valid, for the people who held them. For the doom mongers Link Teams might very well have killed Infinity off for them, they're certainly a potent option for some Sectorial forces, less so for others. Meanwhile for the zealots they might have added an extra layer of awesome on top of an already heady mix of greatness... and the moderates are still probably sitting on an uncomfortable fence somewhere, worrying about piles!

What I'm trying to say is this, wargames are a very personal thing, and we all want to play the sorts of games that appeal to us, things we enjoy, and the marketplace is giving us more options than ever before. So Infinity going one way or the other will only be a bad thing for me personally IF it goes the way I don't want it to. Meanwhile others might love the very direction I hate. For Corvus Belli success is measured very differently though, on their profit and loss sheet. So what does Haris L1 mean for Infinity? Honestly I haven't got the foggiest idea yet, I can speculate though. What we've seen so far is a single page PDF, possibly taken from the new missions / campaign book, and that has potentially been taken way out of context for me. We could have other rules in the rest of the book that limit their use, or actively negate it in other ways. So I'm not going to go off the deep end on the rule just yet... but... I have my concerns!

Never has a profile update caused as much discussion amongst Infinity players!

First up I thought Link Teams were a clever idea, that was implemented very well with the Sectorial lists by limiting the options that a player could take in their force. Want a Haramaki Link Team? Sorry you can't use that Hac Tao! Are Link Teams a potent tool in Infinity? They sure are, and some are more potent than others, but they're not hideously overpowered or 'broken', and they can be dealt with by a none Sectorial force quite easily. I have no doubt that Haris L1 Link Teams can be dealt with in the same ways, indeed the fact that this second Haris L1 Link Team has to be focused around a Rifle+Light Shotgun variant Odalisque already limits their effectiveness somewhat. That's not a great weapon load-out. Just thank the lord it wasn't a spitfire variant! But, facing two Link Teams at once does pose some difficult tactical choices and raises some further questions for me:

  1. Why are Haris L1 teams needed?
  2. What will they do to the average games points cost of 300?
  3. How will it effect list composition and army builds?
  4. And what other units will get this skill in the future?

Unfortunately I really don't know the answer to any of those questions I've posed. Plus I certainly won't be trying to tackle answering them without playing the game and seeing the full impact of Haris L1, hell there might even be L2 and L3 versions of the rule yet!

What I do know though is that for Haqqislam players to take full advantage of this new rule, and to run with in effect 2 link teams in the standard 300 point Infinity game will take up at least two thirds of their points allocation. It is possible to argue, quite effectively too, that it could actually take a little bit more than 200 points if they wish to maximise the potential of both Link Teams. Sorry but I can see this rule starting to push people northwards of 300 points, possibly closer to wanting 400 point games. For me personally this isn't too much of a bad thing as I've wanted to see my games start looking at 400 points any way. I can also see it introducing far more squad based combat than maybe many will be comfortable with in what is supposed to be a skirmish game, one that was built around the independent individual soldier. It seems to me like Corvus Belli are looking at maybe slowly growing Infinity into something more than a simple skirmish game, it feels to me like squads are being introduced via a back door.

If any of the Pan-O Knights get Haris L1... well... lets wait and see!!!

Do I have a problem with that? I don't know, as I haven't played the game yet with these rules in place. I'm not sure what further troop options will get the skill, and I don't know what it'll do to lists. Are there current troops I'd be scared to see get the rule? Hell yes! Thing is I'm all about the effect on the tabletop as I'm sure many of you are well aware, I don't have an intrinsic inbuilt opposition to Infinity becoming more squad based or even a little bit larger as a game. That is as long as it remains fast fluid and in-depth, and not some form of Infinity-lite, or worse yet a turgid bogged down drudge mired in rules that weren't designed for coping with squads. I obviously love the scale and flow of the game as it stands now, and anything that upsets this equilibrium or potentially changes the focus away from something I already like I'm going to be cautious about. But I'm willing to wait and see before proclaiming the sky is falling in. This new mission / campaign rulebook is going to be a fascinating release it seems in more ways than one. Lets hope it's not for all the wrong reasons. Peace out!


  1. I'm not an infinity player, but I've played a lot of systems and I've watched this happen over and over, and sorry to say this was inevitable.

    I still remember when 40K was meant to be played with 15-30 minis, and again when warmachine launched with its selling point of 5-6 minis..

    as these systems gain popularity games get bigger.. because both sides of the fence drive it. the players want to be able to use more of the shiny toys theyve baought and the companies want to sell more and more shiny toys, even malifaux has started allowing the use of more than 1 caster, and intorduced hencmen.

    so sorry to say that it looks like yet another system is going that way. what it means for the game and the playerbase I dont know.

    I expect most will stay with thier investment and grow with the brand, whilst taking up yet another system to service the small scale game needs..

    personally I'm thinking 28mm WW2 for my next skirmish system.. :)

    1. You see... I'm not so sure it's that simple Karitas. Link Teams currently aren't a push button to win and they do at point hideously limit what available troops you have. These Haris L1 teams don't appear to change that. If anything they might compound the problem of using Link Teams. I'll have to wait and see. But it does feel like Corvus Belli want to grow the game... perhaps it's needed because of how the campaign rules work. I to remember the early days of 40k... not as fondly as some I might add!!!

    2. Agree if you recall I revisited 40K second edition and found to my surprise my rose tinted nostalgia was, well, just that. Nostalgia.

      Amazingly the latest edition of the game is an improvement over previous. Wonder if we always just need time and space to appreciate this.

    3. "even malifaux has started allowing the use of more than 1 caster, and intorduced hencmen."

      Two caster Brawls have been part of the rules from the start. First thing the original book talks about when setting up a game is deciding whether you're playing a Scrap or a Brawl. I seem to remember our local tournaments, right from the start 2 years back, being structured along the lines of a 2 day tournament being 4 35-point Scraps and a 50-point, 2-caster Brawl to finish.

      Maybe your meta has changed, but the rules haven't.

    4. Frontline, I am happy to conceded it might not quite be that yet, but I think my point was that for a game system to grow, the players need to keep buying, and that means the companies need to find ways to get us to keep buying new models, veentually, now stuff isnt going to cut it, and they need to expand the game.

      Minitrol, totally agree on your point regarding rules systems, 2nd ed was ghorrid, but my point was about the scope and scale of the game, and that's certainly expanded throughout it's life cycle.

      Feildl - I agree it's certainly there in the rules from the first book, but the point still remains that the game is expanding, sure my meta has changed, with games getting bigger, but i dont think that's JUST my meta.. Also, Wyrd have ibntroduced henchmen in a subsequent book, allowing further expansion, and rather cleverly, rules for your caster to change form mid-game.. so now we need more than 1 model for the same guy we had before ;)

      Anyway, the point I was trying to make in my comment was that it's the way of things.. game systems either evolve and grow or die, and in this industry growth means finding new ways to encourage us to buy new models, most game systems that eventually means feidling more models per game.

    5. @Karitas, Yeah and my argument is that actually that's counter intuitive. Think about what you've just said for a second. It's one of the lies this industry tells itself and indeed us customers. I have no problem with games getting larger, but...

      1) Infinity is growing, just look around the interwebs and you can see it's proving highly popular. I doubt very much that Infinity has yet to reach any kind of market saturation in it's current form.
      2) So why change a formula that is still rapidly growing? You risk changing the very thing that makes the game popular and ruin the growth you are already achieving.

      The industry is actually littered with the bones of companies who tried to grow the size of their small skirmish games. Only one has been truly successful at getting us all signed up... Games Workshop.

      @Minitrol, I don't think it's time and space people need, just a bit of calm rational thought. I actually think the current mechanics of 40k are OK. What's wrong with it are the codices and a few periphery rules such as the missions... they're just utterly dire!

      @Fiendil, thanks for finding that out for me, I couldn't find my original Malifux rulebook, but I remembered playing two caster games right back at the beginning of the game. In fact I remember seeing an argticle that claimed doing so limited the possibility you ended up with the horrid rock, paper, scissors that Malifaux can become. I have to say thinking back to it, those games were indeed the most balanced... hmmm... that's got me thinking!

      Any way thanks to everyone for commenting keep them coming it's all really good and interesting stuff. :)

  2. Surly the bigger issue is market forces.

    Corvus et al is a company and I assume they quite enjoy making products and living a waged life and getting shiney things of their own.

    For any skirmish level game does there inevitably have to be the point where you go for the mass battle cash grab? (obviously considering my recent experiences I am thinking Rackham here)

    Or do you go no we are happy to remain a vital, distinct but small part of gaming. At the end of the day for all the people saying how awesome Infinity is there's not a huge turn over from Warhammer (Fantasy and 40K) player base. Of course I realise that people who never gamed or ever intended to game the above systems may well have started with Infinity and be quite happy but the fact remains you need a lure to get people to transition to your game as well as the true believers : P

    What other avenues are there? Produce more minis - you still need more players as not everyone will want to play multiple factions despite the ease of collecting compared with two or more armies! Other types of games? Board games? Appeal to a different market; collectors and non-gamers?

    Interesting post today. I understood half of it at least!


    1. It might be or it might not be. Infinity as it currently stands is growing at a quite alarming rate, so it's fair to say in it's current iteration it certainly hasn't peaked in terms of growth. Growing or potentially growing the scale prematurely could just as easily scupper things for Corvus Belli as help them out.

      Until you've saturated the current growth potential of your product forcing a change is an unwise move, just ask other manufacturers. You don't change your product just for changes sake, you need to do it with purpose, because if you don't you can halt the current growth trends you're experiencing.

      Infinity has an interesting year ahead of it. The Campaign and Missions book is vital to establishing the current core ruleset... then later on in the year we're supposedly getting more factions if the seedy underbelly of the interwebs is to be believed. That'll set the agenda for the next few years before the inevitable 3rd Edition of the game.

  3. If I was a regular Infinity player (rather than a wannabe with no time to invest in a new system) I'd be a bit crest-fallen, as it seems to me one of the most attractive things about infinity is that it's truly a skirmish game.

    I have to agree with Karitas. It does seem to be inevitable that skirmish games become squad-based. It's an untestable hypothesis though, as either a game grows in popularity and then scale, or it dies off, so we never know if it would have grown in scale had it grown in popularity!

    1. Thing is Minitrol has brought up an example of where a game did grow and died off because of it... Confrontation!!! And although it's being brought back, it's not in its Ragnorok form as best I can tell.

      We'll never truly know whether or not Skirmish games have to grow to survive I guess, but the fact that many that don't do eventually die might also tell its own story. For me it's inspired a bit of a Sunday Sermon along with WFB 8th and 40k 6th ed rumours... and just many other themes that are currently bubbling to the surface in the hobby right now.

      The game still remains firmly skirmish based though with Link Teams, and it is a slightly odd way of introducing squads to the system. In effect they give a profile bump to their leader and follow them around not doing much else. They're a defensive option for me, and with the missions coming out they might not be as effective as they currently are with pitched battle bloweach other brains out games... we shall see.

    2. I wonder of they read the same tea leaves you and I have? If (and okay getting off the fence post - its the quickest way to a$$ splinters BTW) the rumours are correct and I believe they are a more Warhammerey 40K seems inevitable and players sick of the Fantasy in Spaaaaaaace element may be looking to try other systems.

      Not saying that's where Infinity is heading and maybe they just increase the game size a little tiny bit just so ex GW players can feel at home ; P

    3. I've been wandering for nearly two years now where Corvus Belli were heading. They've produced a lot of different mini's for the various factions. Including some large looking REMs and TAGs. THey're expensive miniatures to produce and currently there's not too much incentive to use many of them in 300 points games. I think a scale shift in Infinity is almost inevitable in some ways, because I just get the feeling it's always been lurking there somewhere in the back of the designers mind. However the game is highly detailed and hasn't really been designed to cope with squad movement. The Link Team rules circumnavigate that particular problem pretty deftly if you ask me. Was it part of some master plan to pinch GW customers this summer if they get 6th Ed 40k wrong? Nope, this missions book has been in the works for years now, and I don't believe they've changed any tack and this is what it was always going to be. ;)

  4. There is more than one company that wanted to grow their game and failed, another example is Urban Mammoth and their Urban War. Rackham went bankrupt, but UM is pushing second edition rules for Urban War right now, abandoning Metropolis, which was to be a squad based game.

    I say it is 50/50 on what is going to happen - either it's going to pick up, or they will fail. I personally stopped playing Infinity when the Link Teams and Human Sphere turned up. I'm more attracted to games that focus on individual models rather than groups it seems. In retrospect, I played Warmachine when it was about Warjacks (with focus on combos), not squads, too...

    PS I think what brought Rackham down was actually a drastic decline in quality (pre-paints) - many people I know (me included) still look back to Confrontation models as the best a fantasy game had to offer.

    1. What brought Rackham down was a terrible combo of bad business decisions. The first of which was just as Confrontation was just starting to get popular and really take off they screwed the pooch and released Ragnorcock!!! I think that blew apart much of their loyal fan base, which by the way I was part of, and I agree the miniatures they produced for Confrontation were simply beautiful and stunning... love the range I really do! Any way you're right and as I've said elsewhere the industry is littered with the bones of companies that tried to grow the scale of their games. Link Teams weren't anywhere near as bent as people thought they'd be, and they didn't grow the scale of the game beyond 300 points. Neither did they threaten too. However, I've often wondered what a game of Infinity would look like with multiple Link teams and maybe two combat groups of 10 orders each. I'm sure I can't be the only one. I think the current rules could deal with that, but anything bigger and it'd creak massively. It's not streamlined enough.

  5. Ah, Haris L1 is no big deal. Linked Teams are only good on the defensive and over time you'll see them hamstring your lists, your deployment and options in game. I do fine running without them. I'd rather have my Hac-Tao and Dao Fei!

    1. I disagree quite strongly wth you on the link teams only being good on the defensive side of the game... you've obviously never seen the Dturazi or Haramaki CC bomb!!! Move them across the board quickly and rapidly on single orders, get them where they need to be... break the link! It works bloody well and is effective as hell. I agree their use is best in defensive situations but they have other really good uses too. I don't by the way think Link Teams are bent, if you read my article you'll see that. I also think the Odalisques with Haris L1 isn't actually the best of the Odalisques you'd want to build a Link Team around, so I don't think they'll be bent either. What I do think though is that it hints to a steady increasing of the games scale. It's subtle, but it is there.

    2. Yeah, I guess I should rephrase that - Linked teams are great on the defensive and good on the offensive - but I have seen guys get kinda messed up by running them. I just dn't think linked teams give you an advantage over other standard lists though. Though a linked team with multi-sniper rifle is a deadly opponent indeed! Haramakis are also death incarnate!

      I think the movement to more troops per game is smart move for CB...I like Skirmish games a lot, but Infinity could use ore troops on the board, IMO.

    3. Depends what you mean by troops. I had an email conversation with someone I know a few weeks back now who said the imagery for Infinity was all TAGs, REMs and super soldiers... yet the game was quite often Cheerleaders and Rambo. I kinda agree with them. The artwork the fluff and the feel of the universe is very close to being matched on the board... but a lot of REMs and TAGs cost too much really to easily slide into a 300point game, which is the points value most people feel comfortable with.

      Onto Link Teams, I don't ever feel like I'm 'missing out' by not fielding them at all. They are a very potent option though at times, and I certainly know if people get there use right in a game they can really swing things for people quite rapidly. This next rulebook is going to be a very important release for Corvis Belli in more ways than one.

    4. I'd second that this rulebook is going to be very important... Scenarios should have been in the first book and are the biggest barrier to entry and player retention that Infinity has. The amount of times I've seen someone turn their nose up at it for being "half a game", or walk away because they get tired of not being able to just throw down straight out of the rulebook without using homebrew scenario rules or playing yet another heads up battle is ridiculous...

      If they get it right the rewards could be immense. Pity it's been so long coming...

    5. Rich_B I've totally had similar situations to your good self. I've understood their slow methodical approach to the games development to a point. But this missions / campaign book has been needed for well over two years now. It's eventual arrival could herald a surge in the games popularity. Necromunda / Mordheim style campaigns with proper well thought out and interesting missions and unit advancement? Honestly it could see Infinity go supernova.

  6. Being Bakunin my only Link Team options are Moderators (yay!) and Moiras (lolno). I really like the Link Team mechanic as I feel it helps to scale back a couple of the super-units in Infinity that would otherwise decimate a squad of five cheap troops.

    Regarding this new rule -
    I have a fairly big investment in Infinity (though I've some pretty big issues with it too), but I think CB are at a point where if a rule doesn't work out they can still back off from it before it's ruined forever. That's a nice place to be.

    I have faith in them not to never mess up, but to fix it if they do. We should enjoy this period, as once they're bigger this agility will most likely fade away.

    1. Ant I too have faith in them to do what's right for the game and the community they're fostered and so clearly care about. However, link teams did claim a fair old chunk of Infinity players at the time. I know of a few people who just didn't like them or the direction of travel they saw Corvus Belli taking the game. These Haris rules will not bring them back I'm sure, it'll only compound the issue and firmly say we're behind this rule and this is where we're heading.

      My main problems with Infinity are two fold as I'm sure I've mentioned to you. Firstly the lack of official missions means that quite often people play Infinity as pitched battles... that gets boring real quickly. Secondly the game needs a lot of scenery to be played properly. That's great for companies like Sarissa Precision and MAS but not so great for us gamers. Hopefully though Sarissa Precision will come through for me soon with a back order of stuff we'd agreed on!!!

      I'm excited to see the new book now though, and I'm also keen to see what's in it.

  7. Interesting article :-)

    I've not got an issue with Haqqislam getting this on Odalisques as it plays to the "massed light infantry" theme established in their background and lets the cheerleaders take to the front of stage. It'll be interesting to see what else receives it.

    We never developed a 300 point standard game here, anything between 100 and 400 tends to get run - 350 to 400 is where the TAGs usually start cropping up as they are a big investment in points below that.

    Does Infinity need to develop into a squad based game? I hope it doesnt, I think a large part of its charm is its small, hyper-detailed skirmish level. Forcing it into larger scale battles could be disastrous. Then again I was heavily invested in Confrontation 2&3 so my view is coloured by that debacle, and I'd hope that CB wouldn't go down the same route of lies and backtracking that Rackham did, post flotation, that caused more damage than simply introducing a new massed battle game would have done.

    An interesting point is that CB had a poll up on their site for years asking what other games people would like to see and a 25mm squad based tabletop game consistently topped it out.

    1. Indeed it did, but so too did a space combat game at times. I don't think I'd like to see Infinity lose it's focus on the individual as it were. But it could stand to be larger in scale, so we see more TAG's and REMs. Nothing hugely different, to what we have now. But by being able to move cheerleaders en mass it would make those sorts of games flow better and allow them to happen.

  8. Players also forget that link teams can be broken (either by choice or death of a member). The three man fire team with haris only needs to lose one member to cease being a link team.

    I still feel the biggest issue facing Infinity is lack of a campaign/mission system.

    1. Yep the lack of campaign system and official missions is what limits it's gowth amongst most people... that and the scenery requirements. It's a demanding product on a number of levels and it's not for everyone that's for certain. There are also a few rule... erm... oddities. Jake Thornton keeps mentioning disappearing grenades and missiles and I have to agree with him.

  9. Concerned is not the word. Filled with awesome anticipation is more like it.

    That said, there's one thing I don't understand about Haris - maybe you get it. Does Haris let you add a link team, regardless of whether or not you're already using link teams? Or does it let you add a second team, provided you can already field one (ie. you're playing a sectorial)? Because getting to field a small linked team of Myrmidons alongside my Maruts, superior hackers, and so on would be awesome. And linkability could very well make Dakinis a lot more worthwhile.

    Anyway, I am really eager to read the campaign rules. One of the things I love most about Infinity is the complexity and flexibility of the game. The fact that this is a game where you field hackers, doctors, and engineers is really exciting. I can't wait for scenarios where my engineer has to dig out damaged computer consoles so my hacker can break in and extract information while my opponent tries to kill me. Or scenarios where I need to protect my doctor because she's the only one who can safely extract the bio-weapon I'm trying to steal.

    This is going to be awesome.

    1. As far as I'm aware Mark Haris L1 allows you to field an additional link team using the rules for that special ability. ie a link team made up of two more of the same troop type as the character with the skill. I still believe Link Teams will be sectorial only. I'd also expect the new book to release Aleph sectorial lists as well.

    2. That's too bad, but not the end of the world. Sectorials are neat, but not so neat that I can't ignore them when I feel like it.

      I'm looking forward to ALEPH's sectorials. It will be interesting to see how they make that work. Both of the likely suspects for sectorials have a few notable holes to be filled, either by expanding the role of existing models or adding new models. We'll see.

    3. Honestly I fully expect the two sectorials for Aleph to be Greek and Hindu based. Oh and yes that does leave some gaping holes for both list. In particular the Greek list. I half expect to see an awful lot of new stuff announced for Aleph. Any way I'm tired and I'm off to bed. So if it takes a while for me to respond it's because I'm having a wet dream about Achil... erm... Scarlett Johanson!!! Phew, I think I got away with that.