Last time out I was making my first tentative baby steps into the weird and wonderful world of competitive gaming, aiming to become the scourge of the social club, scout hut and community hall by wresting the wooden spoon from the biggest and best Infinity tournaments around the UK. Then life, being the evil, sadistic bastard that it is, delivered a massive sack slap in the form of a mystery illness. Almost overnight I went from being a fairly active bloke training to run the St. Albans Half Marathon to being knackered just from climbing the stairs and barely able to lift my head off the pillow. To cut a long story short, after being MRI’d, X-rayed, ECG’d and electric shocked [the last one being by far the worst, involving the doctor harpooning my muscles with 6 inch needles before sending an electrical current through them, allowing me to finally empathise with that big rubber shark in Jaws 2] the best guess is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME, or, my favourite term [because it evokes images of DiCaprio dwarf-throwing in Wolf of Wall Street], Yuppy Flu. Despite my flippancy this illness is no fucking joke and totally derailed pretty much everything; work, family life, and, most importantly, gaming. Before I finally move on to actually talk about Infinity in this Infinity blog, I have to add that the NHS is an absolutely incredible institution, and I was met with the highest standard of care at every point. Nice work NHS!
A ranking of 1225 in the world and 602 internationally makes me a scrub of the lowest order. If this was a game of darts I wouldn’t even make the team for the local pub, forced to look on in envy while nursing a flat pint of Carling as Fat Mary and John ‘Hawkeye’ Harris from the Hairy Bush take on the Cock Inn at a game of ‘chuckin’ arras’. It doesn’t help that one of my regular opponents, James ‘Gribbley’ Newman, AKA ‘Murkage’, is number 8 and 2 respectively, and, even more annoyingly, is a really nice bloke, so I can’t even hate him for it. Determined to ruthlessly claw my way up the rankings no matter who I had to dislodge to get there, I was invited to my first proper 8-person tournament last Saturday, at the Hemel Hempstead Wargaming Club.
‘Oneday I’ll finish painting all of my armies’ I kept reassuring myself, alternating between guiltily staring at the row upon row of accusingly basecoated Games Workshop miniatures and even more guiltily at my shopping cart full of new models to heap on the pile of Halfords matt white primered shame. After my love affair with 40k ended in a difficult divorce I shipped my miniature offspring off to be someone else’s problem, investing the gains into a new relationship with Operation Icestorm and a Haqqislam starter set, promising myself that, this time, it would be different. This time I would achieve the Holy Grail, a fully painted army to grace the tabletop, distracting opponents from my complete lack of tactical nous and rules knowledge while allowing me to feel superior in defeat. After all, Infinity was a skirmish game, with a low model count, right? Pleased with myself on paper I piously vowed that I would only add to my collection once everything I already owned had received a paintjob. What could possibly go wrong?
With Total War: Warhammer taking up all of my hobby time [and sleep time, and speaking to my wife time] Infinity had taken a bit of a back seat of late. However, with the exam season now in full swing, my weekend was freed up to indulge in some usually unheard of Sunday gaming. Facing off against my Neoterrans would be Matt, with his Corregidor, with the gaming garage providing the venue. ‘Rescue’ from HSN3 was the scenario, which involved rescuing hostages a la Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin in ‘The Delta Force’. The real mission the movie was based on, Operation Eagleclaw, was a massive cock-up, with the hostages remaining in captivity and bits of special forces scattered all over the desert, so I was hoping for a Hollywood ending.
‘Tournamentplay’ is a term that has always held negative connotations to me. These four syllables conjure up images of fat troll-like nerds wearing too much clothing and too little deodorant as they sweat their way through a competition where the winner is decided by whoever can be the most obnoxious in using obscure rules references and bullying of their opponent to gain an advantage while announcing every successful roll of the dice with a fist pump and a loud “Yes!” that sends their bingo-wings and multiple chins wobbling. Despite a lingering suspicion that I was the fat nerd, Saturday’s events proved me oh-so wrong about tournaments.
Feeling very pleased with myself after finally getting some terrain painted, albeit liberally smeared with fake blood and sponged-on battle damage to cover up my artistic deficiencies, it was time to finish up chapter one of Campaign Paradiso with my Neoterran Capitaline Army. Seeking to prevent me from scoring precious XP were the artichoke-headed stench-sniffers, the Tohaa.
Tic-Tac-Toe would be the mission for Saturday’s installment of Infinity, chosen from the back of the new HSN3 book. With a couple of tournaments coming up, one a mini 4 person affair against local gamers in nearby Berko and another, much more daunting prospect in Leeds against tournie regulars, it was important to get games under my belt. In the words of David to Joshua in the film ‘WarGames’, “Come on. Learn, Goddammit.”