Saturday, 28 February 2015

Infinity - Totally Crit Open Tournament Report

Two tournaments in eight days! The Infinity scene is getting busier and busier, and the official Infinity Tournament System has not even been released yet!

This week, myself and three friends from the local gaming club (Simon, the organiser of the SCTS events and local Infinity expert, old opponent Joe and a chap named Alex) travelled up to Kent for the Totally Crit Open (formally Ordo Infinity) a twenty-man event run by the guys from Hydra Gaming. This team had run several tournaments in the past quite successfully, and though I had not attended one before, Simon and Joe had reported good things. This would be my first Infinity tournament outside of the SCTS events, so would be a bit of a challenge playing some new faces and seeing some new table layouts. We brought up three tables worth of terrain from Simon and the local gaming club's own collection, mainly pieces from Warmill.

I had originally intended to paint up some new units and try them out for this tournament, including a TAG and more Remotes, but personal circumstances in the week leading up to the event meant that I had to use a tried and tested pair of lists - the same two I had run for the tournament the previous weekend.

The first list was vicious and effective, and had all the tools I would need for the scenarios. I doubted I would be running my second list. This was a bad habit I had developed and become renowned for in my local club - using the same list sometimes made my playstyle predictable and uninspired. Unfortunately, it was the best way to get as many big guns, Smoke Grenades and Multi-Spectral Visors into my list as possible - the tools I would need when playing against the hardcore lists that appear at Infinity tournaments.

Looking at the list of players for this tournament, I imagined I would have a harder time than at the SCTS events - there were many experienced tournament players, many of whom were very high up in the official rankings. I hoped for a place in the top third of the rankings at the end of the day, but was personally predicting a distinctly mid-table result at best.

"The High Rollers," infamous mercenary company out of Corregidor
List One
"High Rollers" Backup
List Two
The Nomad strike team track their target through the streets of the desert settlement - ALEPH counters with their best combat Aspects and guts the team, but lose more than they bargained for and cannot save the civilian. The Nomad objective is achieved, albeit at a far higher cost than expected. 
This table used Simon's own collection of terrain, a rustic desert settlement, and was good fun to play on
The first game was against a gentleman named Mike, who was running the Steel Phalanx. Featuring Achilles (!!!), two fireteams with Phoenix, Ajax, Eudoros and a selection of cheap Myrmidons and lastly an Agema Marskman with MULTI Sniper Rifle. This was a serious list with a lot of firepower and durability - good for the mission, which was the straight killfest of Annihilation.

The engagement began badly as the Stempler Zond rushed out into the sights of Phoenix, whose rocket hit the Remote with pinpoint accuracy and destroyed it. Stunned by the early loss, the Nomad advance was cagey, hugging the cover and trying to find the best positions to shoot their soulless foe. Firepower from the Intruder drove Phoenix back into cover, while the Reaktion Zond drew a bead on the titanic Ajax and wounded him badly with several bursts from the HMG.

The forces of ALEPH were quick to work through the winding streets. Lead by Eudoros and Achilles and in concert with the Agema Marksman hiding back in a high tower, they brought down the Intruder with MULTI Sniper Rifle and the Reaktion Zond, then caught the Wildcats in a bad position and cut them down one by one. The close-range firefight in the streets was bloody, costing ALEPH dearly as Ajax, Eudoros and Achilles were all sacrificed to gut the Nomad team. The Intruder with HMG made a daring counter-attack, bringing down the sniper and wounding Phoenix before achieving the Classified Objective, but the Steel Phalanx managed to outflank the surviving Nomad forces and cut down several of their support troopers. In a last ditch effort, the Intruder took down one more Myrmidon and evaded Phoenix for several gruelling seconds before a wave of rocket fire finished him.

A bloody mess of a game, Mike managed to score 250 Victory Points against me and lost 164 Victory Points, but crucially he had not scored any of his Classified Objectives. This left the game a 4-4 DRAW. A good result, as far as I was concerned! Mike was a good player and made for a pleasant experience, even as his force took mine apart. The final showdown between the Intruder and Phoenix was tense, with Critical Hits from both of us cancelling shots and forcing Mike to expend more and more orders to kill that last model.

Pursued through the desert settlement, the "High Rollers" prepare to withdraw at the rendezvous point. Intercepted by ALEPH forces, a bloody skirmish through the landing field leaves more Nomad bodies on the sands, but the survivors make their way offworld and the mission is a pyrrhic victory. 
This picture shows the table after our complaints, with more terrain added. The table we played on featured a great deal less terrain, and was unpleasant for both of us
Once again the Steel Phalanx faced the Jurisdictional Command of Corregidor, this time against a chap named James. I had played James at a tournament the previous year, and he had smashed me rather badly. I remember it had been a game where the terrain and good use of Smoke Grenades left me hamstrung - this mission looked like it would be different as the table was set with very little terrain at all.

James' team was almost the same as my previous opponents, but without the Marksman and Achilles in favour of Specialists in the Myrmidon fireteams, two Ekdromoi Drop Troopers and two Netrods. The Seize the Antennae mission involved capturing three Antennae placed down the middle of the table.

The Steel Phalanx made best they could through the sparse cover, advancing behind a wall of smoke to lead a flanking charge past a landing pad. Eudoros lead the attack, bringing down the Reaktion Zond and then throwing down more smoke to outflank the Nomads - he then killed the Intruder with MULTI Sniper Rifle and left them in a precarious position. The counter attack began with the Jaguar throwing himself at Eudoros and his fireteam, losing his life to a burst from the Nanopulser. The Alguacil Forward Observer was gunned down, and then the Stempler Zond smashed as it tried to use Triangulated Fire. The Intruder with HMG finally stepped in, gunning down Eudoros and allowing the Wildcats to run up a gantry and open fire on Ajax, wounding him badly. The Alguacil Paramedic secured the first Antenna, while the Intruder opened fire a killed a Myrmidon from Phoenix's fireteam.

What followed was another bloodbath as Phoenix revealed himself from behind a crate and fired multiple rockets into the Wildcat Link Team and the Intruder, (eventually) blowing them away. The Nomads were scattered and called a general retreat, but not before the heroic Paramedic tried to access the second Antenna. He was gunned down by Ajax.

This was another brutal game, with the Steel Phalanx outplaying my team and gutting them in as quick a manner as they could manage. This played against James in the end, as he put my force into Retreat! too early and ended the game - thereby stopping him from claiming the Objectives and resulting in a 3-3 DRAW. This amused me no end, as I had done this so often myself and lost at least five or six games because of it. James was a fine opponent, and though there were a couple of issues I could (should) have pressed, it was a lot more fun than our first encounter. A table with more terrain would have resulted in a different result - one I imagine James would have won.

The strike team is contracted to deal with a rogue group of Hackers and their hired muscle. They ambush them at the train station, forced to attack before the foe can break into the access terminals and take over the loading decks. A bloody firefight develops amid the crates and offices of the station. 
This board was better, but still featured very little terrain in one of the Deployment Zones, leaving my opponent at a distinct disadvantage when I won the roll-off and chose the denser side
The last game of the day was against a fellow Nomad player named Tim. His force was far more Hacker-heavy, with two Interventors, Zoe and π-Well, a Grenzer with Sniper Rifle, Reverend Healer, Mobile Brigada, Spektr Forward Observer, Reaktion Zond, Vertigo Zond and a pair of Alguaciles. Tim made the crucial error of letting me go first, even though he had lost deployment and set up before me. The mission was Supremacy - dominating table quarters at the end of each turn, and four Consoles at the end of the game would score points. With my force in the perfect positions, we began.
Firing from the cover of smoke, the Intruder with HMG smashed the enemy Reaktion Remote and then gunned down the Grenzer with Sniper Rifle, allowing the rest of the team free reign to advance. The Stempler Zond secured one of the Consoles while the Alguacil Paramedic accessed a second, while the Wildcats worked their way up to the middle. Caught as he passed between two advertisement boards, the Wildcat with Spitfire was set upon by the infiltrating Spektr, luckily dodging the first shot but taking a second bullet to the head as he tried to open fire. The Intruder with HMG ran across the gantry he had taken refuge on, drew a bead on the infiltrator and gunned him down mercilessly.

On the backfoot immediately, the opposition's response was slow. The first Interventor lay down a screen of White Noise to protect the Healer as she patched up the Grenzer sniper, scrambling the Multi-Spectral Visors of the two Intruders if they had tried to target her. Near the train, several troopers coordinated an attack together on the scattered Wildcats. They were wholly unsuccessful as the Wildcat Engineer dived out of the way of the incoming shots and the return fire from the Reaktion Zond and the Intruder smashed the Vertigo Zond and Zoe. To add to their misery, an Interventor tried to dodge forward and secure a Console, but was killed by the Intruder with MULTI Sniper Rifle.

The Corregidor forces continued to put the pressure on the enemy force, edging forward to secure a third Console, reforming the Link Team and trying to shoot the Mobile Brigada before the counter-attack began in earnest. The Mobile Brigada charged out and forced the Wildcats back, then gunned down the Reaktion Zond. The Hackers scrambled the vision of the Intruder's Multi-Spectral Visors so the Reverend Healer could get a clean shot on the Intruder with HMG, bringing him down with her Combi-rifle. Trying and failing to secure a Console, π-Well was shot by the Wildcats, while on the other side an enemy Alguacil advanced but failed to secure his own Objective. The Stempler Zond zoomed forward, failing to secure the last Console but gunning down the enemy Alguacil and running a Data Scan on his unconscious form. The Mobile Brigada shot down the Intruder sniper, and lastly the Stempler Zond resisted shots from the Reverend Healer as she worked forward to access the last Console, securing it before the mission could end.

The game ended with Tim having secured one of the Consoles, while I had three and achieved my Classified Objective. I had dominated the table on the first turn while it had been a draw on the second and third turns. This left the result an 8-3 WIN for me! Hurray.

Tim was good fun to play against, even as his force was destroyed around him, and he put up a bloody good fight after the horror of his first turn. His work with the Hackers to shut down my Intruders and then pick apart the Link Team was excellent, but his Coordinated Order on turn one resulted in him losing two very important models for no gain - dubious tactical choices like this scuppered his chances, unfortunately. My own team ran like clockwork, and though I probably underestimated the enemy after the successes of my first turn, the 8-3 result feels like a good one.

A desert settlement - for the first two games of the day, this table featured a lot less terrain, making for a difficult match. This picture is the "finalised" version
An attractive table using scenery from Plast Craft Games
A light table using buildings from Micro Art Studio
A crate-strewn warehouse supplied by Simon using terrain from Warmill
A train station - dominated by the gantry near the centre
Another Warmill-heavy settlement supplied by Simon
Simon's desert outpost
A high-tech outpost, using buildings from Spartan Scenics - great looking, but difficult for Infinity
The other side of the train tracks
With two low-scoring Draws and a good Win, I had fifteen Tournament Points which left me EIGHTH out of nineteen - a fine top-half finish. Given the calibre of the other players, I think this is a perfectly reasonable result, and am pleased with how I performed in the three games.

Out of the four of us who travelled up, Joe came an impressive sixth, proving his skills once more, while Alex just missed out on the wooden spoon. He did win the prize for suffering the most Critical Hits, however, and won a nice little trophy - well done!? Simon won big in his first game but was flattened in his second by the chap who would go on to win the tournament. His third game had some difficulties, and unfortunately he finished in the lower end of the table.

The Prizes
  • The venue for the event was great - a Working Men's Club with a lot of space and a bar on site - lovely! Timing and organisation was disrupted by several players being over an hour late, but my games did not feel too rushed - perhaps due to the quality of my opponents and my own fast playstyle. I know several of the games played by friends ran out of time, which is always a kicker and left them feeling somewhat cheated, but this was more a problem with speed of play than timing of the event. We were still granted two hours per game despite the initial delays. 
  • Prize support was nice, with trophies for the winner and the "Most Critted," that is, the player who suffered the most Critical Hits. This went to my friend Alex, poor bastard. 
  • No painting competition was a real shame, in my opinion. I don't just say this because I had a good shot at winning, but I love the painting side of the hobby and consider it a very important aspect - otherwise I'd play computer games or chess. Seeing the same bare metal miniatures come out month after month is a real shame. As with last week, I know enforcing a painting requirement is not in the interests of the tournament organisers, but at least a painting competition encourages it. 
  • The terrain... hmmmm. It seems my local gaming club and the SCTS events play denser than the guys at Hydra Gaming, but even so, some of these tables more suitable for Warhammer Fantasy Battle. My second game was especially hurt by the terrain, and left both myself and my opponent feeling short-changed. I was lucky that game one and three were on good tables, but my friends all had horror stories about 48" firelanes, sniper towers that could see everything and deployment zones that had one piece of terrain in them. The good feedback from those players who played on one of the three tables Simon supplied and set up would seem to confirm these thoughts. Hopefully in the future we will see a bit more terrain...
  • This really made me appreciate the terrain at the SCTS events - it may be haphazard or unpainted, but at least there is no question about the quantity! 
  • Nonetheless, this was a good experience for me and interesting to play some new faces. The event had a good atmosphere, and I will definitely consider attending their next tournament, even with the long commute to Kent!
  • As with last week, I have still not managed to use Suppression Fire and Coordinated Orders effectively. I do not think Coordinated Orders are that useful for my team given the role of the Intruders and the Wildcat Link Team, but will certainly have to consider them when running a list without the Link Team. There were occasions where, thinking about it, Suppression Fire would have been absolutely critical and saved my hide - the Intruder with HMG should have used it on at least three occasions! Gah!
  • The Strategic Use of Command Tokens is important when going second, and I was crippled in my third game when Tim stopped me from using more than one Command Token in my first turn. A clever strategy in certain scenarios and against certain forces, I believe it to be more effective than robbing people of two Orders - most certainly against the larger teams. 
  • The Jurisdictional Command of Corregidor have proven themselves capable of holding their own against the best in the Human Sphere once again, and though it was not a resounding victory like last week, two draws and a win is a bloody good result. Eighth overall is an average result, but I have no issues finishing below those who placed above me - they're all experienced hardcore Infinity players. 
  • Most of my thoughts on the individual units are similar to last week, though I found that against the more experienced players of this tournament, the big hitters like the Reaktion Zond and Intruders were dealt with very quickly. The Stempler Zond proved himself invaluable in the third game, while another winner for games two and three was the Alguacil Paramedic, who scored many Objective Points where others could not manage it. In all of the games, the one-man army was the Intuder with HMG - normally a somewhat disappointing unit but this weekend he wrecked everything and scored the highest kill-count. Added to my revelation about Suppression Fire, he will making a return next time. 
  • Playing twice against the Steel Phalanx was a bit of a drag given their particular strengths (hard to hit and hard to kill - I don't see a downside) and I only held my own thanks to the Intruders and some luck with the Wildcat Link Team. Luckily, both of my opponents were good sports and we had fun. 
  • The third game was an education in the importance of Hacking, as Tim used White Noise to render my Intruders useless before cutting them down. Excellent work on his part - obviously I will need to be more careful with them in the future! 
  • That said, I think it is about time I changed up my lists and started using some new units - after some good conversations with Alex, I think my next few lists will feature more Remotes. It is about time I learned to use the Lunokhod Sputnik, revered as one of the best Remotes in the Nomad arsenal (if not the game), and I recently built a Tsyklon Sputnik with Feuerbach - perhaps he will be joined by another armed with Spitfire and make for a vicious Sputnik-heavy team? Backed up with some Hackers with their Support Programs they could cause a lot of trouble! 
So there we are. I think my next Infinity tournament is in April. Thank you to Bobman for organising the event, my opponents for the games, and Simon for the lift to Kent!

Thanks for reading,


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