My latest Infinity outing transported me back to the halcyon and innocent [or awkward and confusing, depending on whether the tinted glasses are on or off] days of my childhood in the much less romantically named London suburb of Staines, a town situated conveniently for commuters and less conveniently for my asthma just off the M25, and a place most people would likely only ever glimpse through the thick-paned and fog-steamed windows of a Boeing 727 flying glumly in or happily out of Heathrow Airport. If they were lucky. In the mid-90s Staines was very much deserving of its name, before the gentrification, re-development and subsequent name change to ‘Staines-Upon-Thames’ proved that it is actually possible to polish a turd. The run-down Elmsleigh Shopping Centre, now grimy and gap-toothed with lack of shops after being optimistically opened in 1980 by HM The Queen, a 50-year old 3-screen cinema complete with removable lettering to somewhat embarrassingly announce the limited film choice, and a Games Workshop full of strange and intimidating misfits were the costume jewels in the bent and battered crown of this Thames backwater, reduced from the gateway to the South-West to somewhat of an irrelevance by the building of the A30 bypass and M3 and M4 motorways. Despite the brief flash of mustard burp fame provided by Ali G [if I had a pound from everyone who said “Westside!” and made a hand gesture when I told them where I grew up I would be on a beach somewhere rather than writing this blog; how I prevented myself committing assault and/or battery and instead forcing a smile each time I don’t know] this was, in the words of the other short-lived success story from Spelthorne Borough Council, the band ‘Hard-Fi’, very much a ghost town. Bear with me; this will get back to Infinity in a bit.
Was I reminded of the tender look on my mother’s face, or my first tentative day at school, by today’s game of toy soldiers? Nope; I was dragged back to The Great Annual Staines to Egham Pubcrawl. Bereft of suitable activities for children in their mid-teens we soon took to alcohol, begging, stealing and scrounging the precious elixir in whatever form and as often as we could get our hands on it from reluctant or ignorant parents and older siblings, before taking to the rec[reation ground] to consume it in always insufficient amounts. By 16 Dave realised that he could get served at the pub, and while our venue changed, our goal, to poison ourselves into a stupor with fermented malt water, did not. On Simon’s 17th birthday we decided to go on the ‘Leo Sayer’ [all-dayer] and The Great Annual Staines to Egham Pubcrawl was born. Even now I know the route by heart. Swan, Blue Anchor, George for cheap Weatherspoon shots, Hobgoblin, Crown, Cock Inn [where it became tradition for whichever of the group had a girlfriend at the time to consummate their relationship in the toilet in honour of the pub’s name] then the long walk along the Causeway to the Halfway House and the Moment of Clarity, where we sobered up a little and took starchy nourishment on board. This later became known as the Moment of Charity, where those most flush would share their [parents’] wealth with the least fortunate amongst us to ensure the crawl could continue. Into Egham and White Lion, Red Lion, Tap, and finally, for those brave or stupid enough and who’s livers, brains and kidneys still retained a modicum of functionality, The Railway. On that one day we buried our differences, drowned our inhibitions and forgot about our fears for the future; reveling in being young and irresponsible. On that one day we were kings of our shitty kingdom. Fast forward 20 odd years and I would get the chance to recreate The Great Annual Staines to Egham Pubcrawl on the tabletop as Matt and I played the final mission of the Fat Yuan Yuan PDF Pulpibeer Fest, where the porky pirate would attempt to remember the correct route of the pubcrawl while consuming his favourite beer!
My list. With no need for specialists I busted out the Xeodron Link of Doom, and, after being on the receiving end of an annoying Fraacta that locked down a Squalo at my last touney, decided to give the turncoat Tohaa drop troop a run-out to see what he was made of. We would both be getting a free Fat Yuan Yuan, which was nice.
Dirty Nomads. I promised Matt I wouldn’t highlight his error in taking a Clockmaker with no TAGs or Remotes in the list, so I won’t.
Matt used his skill and experience to roll a higher number than me and opted for deployment. I chose first turn, aiming to quickly discover the route from the Master Tap, while merrily killing space hippies along the way.
Onyx Turn 1
Parachuting in like a meaty meteor the Fat Yuan Yuan took up position behind a crate, ready to slowly wheeze his way around the board hoping to avoid a coronary while taking a sip at each Pulpibeer Tap. Well, that was the plan, but I got greedy and opted to Chainrifle a space nun to the face instead. Unsurprisingly she made her Dodge, while a distant Camo Marker revealed to be an HMG Intruder, the layers of fat proving no protection for the unfortunate plus size drop troop. Well that’s 3 bonus objective points I wouldn’t be getting.
Matt rather foolishly managed to deploy his Grenzer in LoS of my Unidron Plasma Sniper Rifle, which I promised not to mention, so I won’t. However the metal and flesh construct managed to miss completely while the fortunate Grenzer dropped safely Prone. Good start lads!
There’s always the mission I suppose. The T:O Camo Marker crept up to the Master Tap, revealing to be a Malignos. The Tap whispered the forgotten route to the Shasvastii, who transmitted the details to the rest of the Contact Force while trying to ignore the fact that a beer tap had just whispered to him.
Let’s try out that Fraacta shall we? Warning: the following images contain images that some viewers may find disturbing.
Nomads Turn 1
Shaken by the rampaging Fraacta the Intruder HMG opened up on the Unidron Sniper, who delayed his inevitable death by going Dogged.
Not much else happened really – that, or I forgot to take pictures. I think Matt probably tried to shoot my Malignos. We’ll go with that.
Onyx Turn 2
Desperate to get some Pulpibeer in them four members of the force Coordinated up the board, the Ikadron falling just short of his goal, taking a Double Action round from a Grenzer Sniper.
Incensed at his little friend getting killed the Xeodron took aim on the Grenzer, who, after just gaining everyone’s respect, lost both his skull and his brains to a Red Fury Crit.
Proof that I’m actually learning how to play this game better – Super-Jump shenanigans! The Red Fury Xeodron launched vertically up in the air to gain LoS on the Intruder HMG, killing him outright with Shock Ammunition before falling back down next to the Pulpibeer Tap, getting ready to drink it the following turn. Matt’s Fat Yuan Yuan did manage to Stun one of the Xeodrons with a remarkably well thrown Grenade for a fat bloke, but, well, that wasn’t the one shooting.
Nomads Turn 2
Much of Matt’s turn was spent chasing down my Malignos, who’s T:O Camo saved him from bullet after bullet, pluckily critting a Bandit before being turned into a well known Merovingian delicacy as the sneaky Jaguar, advancing through Smoke, slit the blinded space frog’s throat with the skill of a Michelen starred chef.
Onyx Turn 3
Chug! Chug! Chug! The Red Fury Xeodron took a huge draught from the Pulpibeer Tap, drunkenly stumbling 16 inches away in a random direction, which happened to be towards the next tap I needed – result! Now just to get that last Pulpibeer Tap and complete the route… Completely misjudging two inches due to inebriation the Xeodron got Engaged by the Jaguar, who took a Structure point from the hulking mini-TAG.
Seeing how much fun his TAG buddy was having the K1 Combi Xeodron advanced towards Tap #3, taking two Structure points from the Kriza for his troubles. Chug! Chug! Chug! The huge construct quaffed his fill of Pulpibeer, completing the route, before Dispersing near the edge of the table.
Nomads Turn 3
There was only one way for the techno-itinerants to win – the Fat Yuan Yuan needed to haul his chubby arse to the centre of the board, find the route, then drink from the taps. The massive mercenary managed two orders before running out of breath, Chainrifling the remaining Unidron and the Samaritan instead. In response the Samaritan successfully Dodged while the Unidron went Dogged, denying the tubby terrorist even the satisfaction of a kill. Out of spite Matt spent his last few orders hacking the drunken Red Fury Xeodron to death with his Jaguar.
Onyx 5 – 0 Nomads!
Well chuffed with that one. Matt has been tearing through the local tournaments of late, claiming the scalps of the UK numbers 4 and 5 along the way. He was even in with a shout of winning a tournament that I was TOing, before I rather maliciously informed him that a win would guarantee him overall victory, putting him off his game and directly leading to his 10-0 loss [well, probably not, but I like to think so]. The Xeodron link did exactly what it was supposed to, tanking shot after shot from the Kriza before completing the objectives. In regards to the Kriza, I ended up just ignoring it, pumping my shots into something easier to hit, as the majority of the time I was at -9 for Range, Cover and Full Auto L2. Even out of cover I had a 45% chance of making my ARM saves, although it did miss on a hilarious amount of occasions.
With the new school year hanging over me like asbestos in the ceiling, overall I’m gonna call this a highly successful summer of Infinity. I both played in and ran my first big tournaments, co-hosting The Great North Vs. South infinity Team Tournament alongside my Warcor buddy Laina and attending the SCTS IX in Bournemouth. We had so much fun TOing that Laina and I are running our second event together in December, the St. Albans SmackDown! I’ve made lots of new gamer friends and gained some dirty tricks along the way, which I hope to use in the two events I signed up for in September, firstly Colours in Newbury Racecourse and then The Masters. Perhaps most importantly my health held up, and like a Rocky montage I feel like I’m getting stronger every day. The only fly in the ointment [or Fiday in the link team] was the lack of painting I managed to get done, with only a few short sessions completed leaving me with a disturbing amount of bare metal.
There were a couple of candidates for MVP, with the Xeodrons securing the objectives, and the Malignos discovering the route before soaking up order after order and asking for more. However, for tearing the guts out of the Nomad force with a turn 1 alpha strike it has to be the Fraacta. Take a bow love.