The best part of getting older is that, as I gain more and more grey hairs and wrinkles, I give less and less fucks. Slippers adorn my feet no matter the venue or the occasion, to the continued mortification of the missus; I hold loud conversations with myself in public, and fart just as freely. ‘Taboo’ does not feature in my vocabulary, and I will gladly engage in any topic of conversation from knitting to necrophilia. The reflection of my pasty and pudgy body staring back at me from the mirror no longer elicits any feelings of guilt, and internal recriminations over indulging my vices have been replaced with cheers and encouragement. Therefore when the Friday lunchtime question “Doing anything nice this weekend?” inevitably arrives, no longer do I prevaricate, embellish or divert.
“I’m playing tabletop wargames in my garage with my mates while we get pissed.”
“Oh……………. Like Warhammer? My, uh, my nephew plays Warhammer.”
“That sounds… nice. So… do you paint the models and everything?”
“Okay, well… have a good one!”
Don’t worry, I will. While you’re engaging in ‘normal’ activities like watching open-mouthed as a dancing dalek delights you on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, I’ll be having the time of my life playing Napoleon with my little metal soldiers. Despite being ‘out’ about my geekiness, gamers generally gravitate to gamers as they instantly understand the compulsion, bereft of the awkward explanation that usually accompanies conversations about this strange little hobby. Luckily enough I made the acquaintance of a lovely gaming couple who also happen to be bloody good at Infinity; so much so that they even attend lots of tournaments together, and consistently place towards the top of the rankings. Thinking it would be a great idea to delve into just what makes a competitive gamer tick, I requested an interview, and they didn’t tell me to piss off! Result! Over to the Kim and Kanye of wargaming, James and Laina, AKA Murkage and… Laina.
First of all, why do you attend Infinity tournaments?
Laina – As a measure of whether I have improved over time. Also they can be enjoyable, provided you don’t get smashed every game!
James – Personally I really enjoy competitive gaming so going out and playing against other people is always a good time. But I do really enjoy seeing what the meta is in other areas. Playing against some really good tournament players up in Leeds a lot, games can start to feel repetitive and unvaried. for instance TAGS are rarely used and certain sectorials like French and JSA I never get to play against. Tournaments give me the opportunity to see new tactics, new models and sometimes the opportunity to win stuff (although my ITS this year has been shocking!)
What are your goals for this years’ ITS season? [2016/17]
Laina – Use some different factions to learn how they play [Laina is a hardcore Haqq player but is branching out with Aleph]. This should also improve my game against other factions.
James – Just do best I can I guess, and get myself one of those sweet sweet ITS models. I actually won the first tournament I played in this year but it was about a week after the ITS season had started so the prize pack was a Krakot, and I already had a few of them anyway. I ended up buying the 2017 season as I wanted the model but it feels like cheating so it’s still sitting in the box . . . also I think Scarface is a complete waste of points and would never take him anyway, but that’s totally beside the point!
Vanilla or sectorial?
Laina – Sectorial. Can’t turn down those link team bonuses nowadays. I think vanilla Ariadna is the only non-sectorial force who can be competitive, although I did do pretty well in the end with vanilla Haqq at tournaments through sheer determination!
James – Vanilla every time! Link teams are cool and give good advantages but I feel like you lose out on so many good toys if you take a sectorial. when I take Ari[adna] for instance, having a Spetsnaz, Uxia and Vant Zant in one list is way more versatile and damaging than any link. Although, when the Russians come out [the rumoured Kazak sectorial] you can plonk a Vet Kazak in with basic line troops; then we’re talking! This season I have taken Yu Jing and I know there are some nasty fire teams like the Crane Rank with X-Visor and Spitfire, linked with the Dire Foe with Mad Traps and a few cheap Celestial Guard. That Crane can smash in bad guys pretty much anywhere on the table even in cover with 5 dice on 13s. That’s all good but I just love taking the Yuan Huo with Neurocinetics and Missile Launchers and the Shonobu Kitsune is just to good to pass up on.
Turn order or deployment?
Laina – No idea. Panic every time I roll off and hope that I lose so I don’t have to choose. Even when I don’t have to pick between keeping initiative or deployment, I usually find it hard to know what side of the table is better or whether to go first or second. It depends on the mission as well. Normally end up rolling a die if I can’t make decisions. Applies to general life decisions too.
James – Unless the table has been set up by someone who has no idea what they’re doing I would say turn order. Ask anyone who has played me and I pretty much hide everything I can like a great big coward anyway, and if I do take a big ARO unit I know where it’s going regardless. Alpha-striking can set your tone for the entire game, although any mission with zone control you pretty much have to go second if your opponent knows what they are doing.
Most OP unit in the game?
Laina – Going to have to be that person who comes out and says it. Most of the time when people moan about OP units they don’t think about the bigger picture. All factions have some stuff which feels under-pointed or over-equipped but when you step back all factions have this in different units in different ways. That’s what makes the factions different and exciting and helps things to fit in with fluff, etc. If everyone could buy everything for the same cost it would limit how different the factions could be. Yeah I may get 5 point war bands with chain rifles, WIP 15 Jammers and Smoke (sucks to be you), but Ariadna get a specialist for 8 points with Booty and Smoke, Yu Jing get a TO unit with Monofilament and MA L5 for 40 odd points, etc. It’s only OP really if you narrow your view to individual factions rather than the game as a whole. But also Van Cu*t can do one. [great answer, and couldn’t agree more about Van Zant!]
James – First off those God damn f*****g Muttawi’ah! They are honestly the most broken, under pointed ridiculous units in the game. I could honestly rant on for hours about how stupid they are. When someone thought it would be a good idea to let a 5 point model be able walk behind a wall and just sit there using AROs and have a decent chance of isolating something beastly like an Avatar or Swiss Guard by shooting his magical ray gun through a wall is beyond me. The thing that really rustles my jimmies [must be a Leeds saying] is that they got given smoke grenades in N3 for no additional points cost!
But for me the most OP unit has to be the Spetsnaz HMG; he basically won me every game l won last season. Taking vanilla Ariadna lets you order-spam and camo-spam at the same time so he is pretty much impossible to engage if you play him right, and when he shoots in the active turn its always on 15s while the enemy is usually at -9 or -12 with Cover, Surprise, Mimetism and Range. Having Shock as well just rubs salt into the wound and makes him worth his weight in vodka when playing against high pointed armies like Aleph, who rely on NWI to survive. Honestly there were numerous times at tournaments where people couldn’t believe how many kills one guy was getting then finding out he cost less than 40pts at the end when we swapped lists. Absolute disrespect incarnate!
Favourite and least favourite rules mechanic?
Laina – Favourite = AROs. Least favourite = Crits. I don’t enjoy giving or receiving.
James – Favorite rules mechanic simply has to be the ARO system. I’ll be honest, I had a go at the new 8th Ed 40k recently, and it was fun, but I forgot how tedious it can be when you have to just sit there while someone rolls dice at your face for 30 minutes and tells you what models you have to put back in the case after you spent half an hour getting them out. Infinity has a unique system that keeps you constantly engaged and for that reason its my favorite game of all time [couldn’t agree more].
Least favorite mechanic is with out a doubt the SymbioMates for Tohaa. I really really don’t like the fact there is a mechanic in the game that is an auto-work. I don’t actually have a problem playing against Tohaa like a lot of people do but having an invulnerable unit for a round of shooting is just plain bollocks. If someone maneuvers their unit into position and stacks numerous modifiers against you to force a Dodge then fair enough, but simply standing there and just removing a marker to negate 4 shots against you I feel is a load of crap. If you needed to roll a WIP to make it work or each SymbioMate negated one shot that would be fairer I think.
This ITS season has focussed on TAGs with ‘TAGline’ What would you like the next ITS season to focus on?
Laina – Not TAGs!
James – Nothing to be honest. I don’t really like having how my list is made dictated to me. I think ITS should just be raw competition that lets people make lists and combat groups to suit their styles, not to sell models that no one is using.
I would really like to see a campaign in a book again though. That would be cool to run as a league at home or at your local club with a ranking system to itself [As someone who ran a Paradiso campaign I heartily concur!]
What other games do you play and do you play them competitively as well?
Laina – Bushido, just play for funsies (have Temple of Rokan and Savage Wave), although I went to one tournament and beat one of the grand masters. Was a good day. Also Frostgrave, for fun. Guildball, non-competitively as I’m really limited on free time to play properly, paint the models and practice, but will get into it competitively eventually, I would have thought. Accidentally bought four teams so probably should! Have played Rogue Stars a couple of times too. Infinity was my first true love though and always takes priority over the others.
James – Also Play Bushido. Its bloody awesome, really unique and has a very different setting to any other games I have played. in a nutshell it’s feudal Japanese fantasy, So instead of knights and dragons you got your ninjas, samurai and Chinese pirates fighting against Oni [big red demons], zombies and jungle clans. It has a similar feel to infinity in that you are ever not playing; you take it in turns to move a unit at a time like Lord of the Rings and when you engage in combat the enemy gets a reaction to your attack. It’s really fun and easy and each unit has its own rules printed on a card so when there is a new release of a model it’s always something new. However it’s a little way of a refined tournament system. I have been to two Bushido tournaments. The first one I didn’t get a single point for the entire day and came bottom of the table. The next event I went to 6 months later I tabled every opponent and defeated a list that was unbeaten (that also won the Bushido masters two years in a row) with out losing a single unit! Great game. Great scale. Great lore. Fun rules, but more of a casual game methinks.
Without meaning to be too much of a nosy bastard, as a gaming couple do you talk about wargaming a lot, or do you try to focus on other things when you’re together?
Laina – Talk about it all of the time, play a lot. Obviously talk about other stuff too but it’s a great fall back for when James bores me though!
James – Definitely talk about war gaming a lot, but still do most of that normal couples stuff. We have a long distance relationship so when we see each other we play a lot of games as it’s something we both like doing a lot. Downside is recently games have become a bit stale as we now each other’s styles so someone usually wins in the first turn. Might have to just start a new faction I guess. Having been a wargamer since I was about 9 I think Laina gets fed up sometimes of me chatting crap about games and systems she’s never played and has no interest in. “4th ed was sooooooo good,” “Infinity would be cool if it had out of game management like Necromunda,” “You seen the new Blood Bowl team coming out?” ” Wanna know why I think Nurgle is the best chaos god babe?” SHE KNEW WHAT SHE WAS GETTING INTO.
Finally, would you rather have the entire Infinity range for free, or sex with Megan Fox?
Laina – Do you know me at all? I’d sacrifice most things for free models. You wouldn’t even have to say the entire range to be fair, I’d take a couple of boxes. I’m easily bought like that you know. Sorry if that ruins the dream! [Lol!]
Massive thanks to James and Laina, and I hope you enjoyed reading their responses [which they answered independently of each other] as much as I did. If you want to meet them in person and tell them how much you agree [or disagree!] with their views on Infinity then you can at the Great North vs. South Infinity Team Tournament in St. Albans, which Laina and I are running as Warcors for Herts, and James is taking part in on Team North.
Shameless links to my Wotan batreps – what can I say, I’m an XP whore.