Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Infinitely good, the bad, and the ugly...

I have formally given up GW. That's not the point of this post, but it does explain how things ended up happening the way they did. I love their models still, their art (and universe) is fantastic, and the rules are generally getting better, but I just can't take their business practices anymore.

That left me with no sci-fi (or sci-fa) tabletop game. Like many others, I'm sure, the next closest port of call was Infinity by Corvus Belli. If you haven't taken a look at it, I highly recommend you do. The first time I was introduced to it, the pitch was "squad-scale combat that's got great mechanics". Ever a sucker for more models, I wandered over to their website, and was frustrated to find it an utter chaos of javascript.

I am a graphic designer by training. I dislike javascript so much because while it can be a great tool for internet navigation, it can also be used to make clean website design and navigation an utter nightmare. Infinity's previous website was lousy with the latter. I also mostly get into games because of the look of the models. Your game could have the coolest mechanic ever, and if it has mediocre or uninteresting models, I'll look elsewhere. By contrast, I will endure awkward rules, so long as the models continue to be fantastic (see above...)

In a nutshell, Infinity's website was a mess, I couldn't find out what troops were 'standard' or which were characters, what a range looked like as a whole, and so I put them aside. More recently, with a lack of sci-fi games, I swung back around to take a second look. This time they'd updated the website so that looking at an entire range was a thing you can actually do now! As I flicked through, I found Nomad models really spoke to me. Sure they're bright red, but for the most part, their armour is practical, relatively logical, and even on women: properly covering.

Specifically, I loved this:

Those models are lean, mean, and I can even overlook the field of view issues. The poses are compelling, everything feels like it makes sense, etc.

Similarly, this model quite strongly attracted me, for the reasons above:

Dynamic pose, interesting weapon design, strong colour scheme, and a woman in actually pretty practical outfits! (No power-armoured corset or stiletto high heels.)

Something I started to notice with a lot of the line though; while some models are fantastic looking, and others are 'okay' (and all ranges have models people will think are 'okay'), Infinity suffers from some models I think are absolutely ridiculous or outright ugly, and I can't figure out how they got past prototyping.

First up is what I am going to call the "Jethro Tull Sniper" or, as some others have pointed out, "Elmer Fudd":

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a highly-experienced, efficient, sought-after sniper. That is also a pose no sniper in history has ever made. Try it yourself: Balance one heel on your knee, and suspend a (presumably) 12kg weapon off said knee, and picture firing at any significant distance with it.

I understand not every sniper has to be in full prone sniping position, but if you're going to have him shooting, at least make him look like he could!

Next up is one that needs some explaining first. The "Daktari" is the Nomad version of a combat medic. They're daring, unarmed, and equipped to help heal downed soldiers. They're known for swearing in Turkish and for being badasses when it comes to healing, just not killing.

Picture in your head a combat medic. Heck, picture a modern military, and the guy who officially runs around with the medical gear. Looks a lot like a standard soldier minus the rifle, maybe, and with perhaps a little cross somewhere to denote his or her status? Now take a look at this:

Look at that... I know Infinity has a pin-up line, but this isn't that. There is nothing "Combat" and barely anything "medic" in that image! Yes, I know there's an alternate version that looks much more so, but man...

Finally, in the game Infinity, some models can actively hack others. This can shut down their armour, or in some cases, even take over robots and have them working for you. In this world for all that they've been inspired by Ghost in the Shell I suspect, they still manipulate the digital interface like Minority Report; hand up and with a holographic screen. The thing is, that only looks great when you can see all the CGI screen stuff. When that's not there, say on a model without it, the result is this:

That's jazz hands, or a surprised cat. I know folks have gotten transparencies printed that have the screens on them, and kudos to Corvus Belli for making those available, but it's still not a great look.

Why the post ranting about all this? Well, as any weak-willed gamer knows, the lure of a new game (and new shiny models) is an almost impossible call to resist, and I now have a Corregidor starter set and reverend custodier. Soon you will see a couple posts as I play through possible colour schemes and get to work starting a new science fiction-y force, and I had to discuss this first. I love so many of the models produced for Infinity, but I don't think I've ever had a reaction like this where it's beyond "eh, not for me" and right into "why did they..."

As a final plug, do take a look at their site: The rules are free to try, and it has mechanics I am so happy to see in a game.

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