Paradise Found (in Essex)
On saturday I got up unfeasibly early to catch the train out to Hockley, Essex, for the Campaign Paradiso demo day at Tabletop Nation.
A couple of the guys from Corvus Belli had flown over from Spain to host the day and take us through the first few missions from the upcoming campaign book.
A quick word about the venue.
A few years back I visited a games shop in Oakland, California, that really impressed me with its layout, gaming space and facilities, and I left wishing that we had such places locally in the UK. Now of course, in this tiny crowded island of ours, space and rent are limiting factors, but this new purpose-built Tabletop Nation venue may just have that cracked.
The space itself, housed in an industrial unit, was pretty huge and had plenty of room for Wayland Games to host a well appointed store. I’m led to believe that we were only in a temporary location, with the official one currently being constructed or refurbished.
Apart from it being somewhat cold in there, I was rather encouraged by what I saw.
The organisers had also gone to great lengths to put together some swish looking terrain for the day. There was one set of three tables that particularly stood out with its raised crumbling overpass and numerous overgrown buildings. It really gave the impression of nature reclaiming a future city. Anyone who’s played the excellent (and sadly overlooked) video game Enslaved will be familiar with the aesthetic.
Trouble with Infinity though is that the game can be broken if the terrain layout is not right and you don’t have appropriate units.
Sadly some of the other players reported that they struggled with some of the tables not having enough terrain, or there were too many open spaces that could be dominated by snipers and machine gunners.
The campaign book, the second published expansion for Infinity, looks like it might be right up my street. I got a chance to skim the book a little on the day (Wayland were selling it but I’ve got mine pre-ordered elsewhere, annoyingly) and there appears to be a well realised story campaign in the book, along with the expected new rules, weapons, unit profiles, etc.
Mission-wise, we were introduced to the first three from the Paradiso campaign and it soon became very clear that specialist units have suddenly had their profile raised. Engineers, Hackers and Baggage Remotes are now critical to mission success, which I think is a good thing. Even having a non-combatant journalist along for the ride is a good thing in terms of campaign advancement.
Carlos from Corvus Belli ran us through a briefing before each mission – explaining the objectives and any special rules.
After that we had a good amount of time to tweak our lists if we so desired. I was lazy though and just ran a generic utility list featuring all the specialists I had painted, plus my TAG because it’s just cool.
Mission 101 – Data Recovery
The first mission had us trying to recover some data from alien technological devices and attempting to upload it before our opponent could do so.
There was a bit of randomness to which of the alien tech nodes actually contained the data and this randomness seemed to be a feature of the early missions. One of my Cross Gaming Club buddies who’d accompanied us down from London had this bite him particularly badly when he got his engineer to scan the tech node, only to roll that it was the node nearest his opponent that contained the golden data nugget. Pretty much cost him the game, that roll.
In my game, against an Ariadna player from Exeter, it turned out that the central node contained the sought after data. He got there first but I did get a chance to do a sneak win by using my hacker to upload it before him. Unfortunately the Ariadna – employing seasoned mercenary hacker Valerya Gromoz – were able to hack my unshielded attempts and then use the encryption routines on their baggage bot to safely upload it for the win.
It was a really fun game though. My TAG – being fielded for the first time – caused plenty of damage and played a key role in securing the central node and protecting my Najjarun enginner as he got to work.
The spider tank eventually got taken down by an Ariadnan tankhunter with huge shoulder-mounted autocannon; something that elicited whoops from both players as it was a very cool cinematic moment.
Mission 102 – Activation & Triangulation
The second game was less fun for me. As a loser from the first round I started the game at a disadvantage. My opponent – a Reading player fielding an optimised Aleph list – had a headstart in knowing and choosing the sequence he needed to tag four of the five alien nodes spread evenly about the table. Whereas I first had to go tag a node and make a roll to learn the sequence.
Importantly it also meant he started with a first victory point for free. A fact that I became painfully aware of when, on his opening turn, he skipped a dogged Naga Hacker up to my deployment zone and plonked a pair of monofilament mines in front of a large contingent of my troops.
That noob deployment mistake saw me lose my hacker, engineer, remote and TAG in one fell swoop. And without either specialist – and consequently no way to earn a Victory Point – I had just lost the game.
We played through the remaining turns to see how many VPs my opponent could earn and whether he could tag all nodes (which he did).
Kudos to him but it sure did smart.
The fact that I lost both of my games meant I never got to go through the XP and Spec Ops rules myself, but what I saw of other players it seemed like a nice system. I look forward to getting my teeth into a full blown campaign back at the Cross in the New Year.
Losing both games also meant I didn’t make it through to the third round of the campaign, and I decided it was a good time to head off to catch the train home.
Before we could leave though, the organisers called us all around to present an impromptu painting prize. I was surprised by this as I didn’t think they’d be doing one.
Anyway, long story short, they were suitably impressed by my Haqqislam and I was presented with a rather nice original concept sketch by Carlos – lead artist for Infinity. I actually had the choice of two sketches and opted to go extra-faction for an Ariadnan one in preference to the Haqqislam.
Anime girly trumps burly combat dude, I’m afraid.
I believe she’s a rejected concept design for Ariadnan Lt Margot Berthier. My bet is she was cast aside for having a covered midriff!