“It’s a funny old game” were words the mustachioed and balding Londoner Jimmy ‘Greavsie’ Greaves would often use to end a long, rambling sport-related deadpan witticism or risque double entendre, sending Ian ‘Saint’ St John into breathless, Lanarkshire accented chuckles on the football talk show ‘Saint and Greavsie’. While this comment was often applied to a goalkeeper failing to make an easy save, “Even a Scottish goalkeeper could have caught that one Saint”, or a giantkilling feat in the fixtures, it could very easily be applied to the game of Infinity. Each weekend all around the country ordinary people from such diverse walks of life as surveyors, scientists, software engineers and soldiers carry out pilgrimages to shops, scout huts, church halls and community centers to engage in their shared passion – the weird and wonderful world of tabletop wargaming. Shedding their suits and ties and cladding themselves in innocuous nicknames such as ‘pootleflump’ and ‘bobman’ these benign mortals become gods, controlling the fates of painstakingly painted metal models, ordering them around a miniature landscape seeking to improve the probability of rolling a particular number on a 20-sided dice. It is indeed a ‘funny old game’, but a game that I have a deep love for, so I chose to ignore my internal misgivings at my lack of tournament inexperience and walk amongst these giants by taking a trip to a mecca of gaming on the South Coast, LvlUp Gaming, for the SCTS IX. With a number of players at the SCTS travelling up to St. Albans on the 26th August for my team ITS event, including some coming all the way from Bristol, the least I could do was to go on an away trip of my own.
The format for this event was 400 points – bring all the toyz! If that wasn’t enough it even included a 12XP Spec Ops. Truly I was spoiled for choice, opting to go with a Squalo in one list, entitled ‘Mr T’ for TAG, in a bid to secure maximum points in ‘Deadly Dance’, and a bot spam Specialist heavy list in the other for Supplies and Frontline. Only making the decision to sign up on the Thursday before the tournament and rushing to meet the list submission deadline I didn’t have time to think of a cool name for the second list. Sorry readers.
Game 1 – Deadly Dance; Onyx vs. NCA
My first game would be against the UK number 4, Graham ‘gamma ray’ Cleary. Graham has been incredibly helpful guiding me through my first faltering steps as a Warcor, responding to my FaceBook messages no matter how stupid the question or obvious the answer, and it was fantastic to finally meet both him his Interplanetario tattoo in person! Going into this one I will admit to being very nervous; firstly at the calibre of my opponent, secondly after coming across a couple of articles the day before discussing frustrations at slow play, and thirdly at how my my fragile body would holdup to the rigours of three games in a day. Therefore I set myself the modest goals of ensuring that my constant checking of BS and range band MODs didn’t make us go over time or ruin Graham’s experience, and to make sure that I sat down as much as possible during the game and stayed hydrated.
Opting to go second I soon found myself in deep water with clumsy positioning of my Fusilier Link causing me to lose a Hacker to a missile blast, before my Squalo got locked down by a lowly Fraacta. Graham’s Sphinx stayed hidden in TO Camo behind a crate and dug in like a heavily armoured Spitfire wielding Alabama tick, while my Swiss Guard was critted into Carbonite despite getting the drop on a rampaging Umbra Legate. That was all she wrote, Graham claiming a 10-3 victory and maximum Tournament Points. At least we finished on time, I sat down a lot, and I drank some water.
Graham was a fantastic opponent and realised very quickly that I was relatively inexperienced, taking the time to give me advice on my play, something I find that all the best players tend to do [after securing max OPs anyway!], as well as apologising for the Crits, although these were very evenly shared between us. My brain shut down a little at the occasion and it took me a couple of turns to get going, although I felt like I was getting into my stride by turn 3.
Game 2 – Supplies; Steel Phalanx vs. NCA
Dave ‘winnerdave’ Cooper would be my opponent for game number 2, rocking a very nicely painted Aleph force for some slightly blue on blue action, what with NeoTerra and the AI being such thoroughly good chums. I was by this time beginning to realise that one of the challenges of an Infinity tournament is endurance, and, being from Scottish and Anglo-Saxon stock, I was struggling a little in the heat, the English Summer deciding to visit just in time for a day in a basement. My ME also ramps up a few notches as I become tired, which, rather inconveniently, affects my short-term memory and decision making, somewhat important in this game! No excuses though, so I gave myself a stern talking to, something along this lines of; “You’re a T-Rex! Act like it!”
Things actually started out well, and taking first turn I managed to alpha-strike a fair few of the heavy hitters on the other side of the table, my SpecOps dropping Atlanta while my Swiss Guard and Bolts merrily roasted some vat grown cyborgs with their Missile Launchers, the Swiss screaming out prayers to Space Jesus as he did so. Turn two I weathered the storm, losing only a few Remotes, the Bolts picking up a Tech Coffin on their way to the middle Console. The last couple of orders was when it started to go wrong, the Bolt Hacker failing a WIP check to pick up a second Coffin before being sent Unconscious by a pot-shot ARO with the odds and dice heavily in his favour. When my Coffin carrying Bolt Paramedic took a Shotgun to the face I was left without any Specialists to secure a second objective and, with only a few minutes left and realising that the best I could do would be to deny my opponent a major victory, I decided to go on a rampage with my Swiss Guard out of spite and to ensure that one of us at least got maximum TPs. Said rampage ended very quickly when I mistakenly entered into CC with a Myrmidon, assuming [incorrectly] that my 69 point Swiss would surely have better stats than a 16 point order monkey. Mistakes were made. 9-0 to Aleph.
Ah well, was a tense and great game against a really nice opponent who forgave my constant forgetfulness at flipping orders, and the big swings in fortunes gave me a nice boost of adrenaline to carry me through the last round.
Game3 – Frontline; Haqqislam vs. NCA
In a battle to secure the wooden spoon I was pitted against Nick ‘earlofpotatoes’ Gray. Sporting such an impressive beard Nick was already a winner, but we decided to play it out anyway. My tiredness was shown when I put back the wrong Classified card into the deck, keeping the one that I wasn’t able to do. I was very embarrassed by my own mistake but Nick very kindly let me fish out the correct card.
This was one of those games where everything went right for me and wrong for my opponent. Opting to go second the only damage caused to my army during turn 1 was a Wound on my Spitfire Deva from a Friday pretending to be Bob from Accounting, ‘Bob’ taking an unlucky Crit to the face as the assassin revealed her true identity. My turn the Crits flowed like honey, sending the main threats such as his Viral Sniper SpecOps, Hassassin Ayyar and Tarik Mansuri to Heaven and their 72 virgin reward, and sending my opponent into Loss of Lieutenant without the comfort of the virgins. Despite determined resistance from a brave Spitfire wielding Asawira there was little Nick could do against my ridiculously hot dice, and at the beginning of turn 3 his sole remaining model, a Ghulam Doctor, legged it as the Haqqislam force went into retreat. 9-0 to NCA.
I would like to take this opportunity to say that Nick was a brilliant opponent, who kept a smile on his face despite the repeated blows to the balls being handed out by my lucky rolls.
Overall I placed… 6th! You cannot imagine how happy I was at taking 6th place against such quality players.
The top table during Round 3; Rob ‘bobman’ Neal would go on to win and take 1st place overall after a ‘Totally Crit-Off’.
Summary and lessons learnt
First lesson learnt – buy a tournament tray. Putting models in and out of a big case is a wind-up. The TO, Dan ‘Epsolon921’ Barber is just about to release what looks to be a fantastic tray and I will be snapping one up as soon as it is available here.
Second lesson learnt – missile templates land even if they lose the F2F. I know this, often use it against my opponents, but as soon as the dice started rolling and the adrenalin started pumping I promptly forgot and kept getting my link-teams into trouble.
Third lesson – know your list. I keep flitting between three sectorials and haven’t really grasped the full capabilities of any of them. For example Triangulated Fire from my Sensor Remotes would have been really useful against the Phinx’s TO Camo in game one and the Mymidons’ ODD in game two but it’s a rule that, until Graham pointed it out, I had never thought about employing.
Fourth lesson learnt – know your opponents’ list. I didn’t bother to go through the courtesy list before any of the games, which wasn’t much of an issue against Onyx and Haqq as I’m pretty well versed through owning similar forces, but proved a big problem against Aleph, whom I have faced over the table only on one other occasion. Fucking Myrmidons. Fucking ODD…
Fifth lesson learnt – how to run an event smoothly. Daniel was a fantastic TO and I will be employing [well, stealing] a number of his ideas when running my own.
Cannot wait for the next opportunity to take on these boys. I had such a fantastic time the impossible happened; I’m even more passionate about this game than I was before! See you in a couple of weeks chaps.