Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Infinity Tournament Scenarios

So, I will readily admit. I am a bit apprehensive of the new campaign book coming out this year for Infinity. I am afraid that it may end up like Apocalypse for 40K or, even worse, the scenarios from 8th ed. WHFB. Both contain silly scenarios that no one uses in tournament play because they don’t accurately judge a person’s skill as a player. And that would be a shame, because I feel like Infinity has gained a good following in part because it allows for the best tactical player to win, not just the best list-builder.

I understand that I have really no rational basis for this concern. Corvus Belli has shown numerous times that they are not GW. But this brings me to my main point: How does one construct tournament rules and scenarios so that they are both interesting and legitimately competitive? This issue is obviously not only constrained to Infinity, but it’s something worth looking into, especially with the new scenario book on the way.

I personally tend to take the minimalist view regarding tournaments. People are accustomed to playing at a certain points level, using certain rules and victory conditions. Infinity is already a complex game system, allowing for incredibly tactical and cerebral games without having to add unnecessary complications with scenarios. This viewpoint is mainly born out of going to tournaments that included way too much unnecessary scenario nonsense.

So, what happens when you add too much complexity to tournament scenarios? People cheat. Let me clarify. Nine times out of ten it isn’t malicious, or even conscious, cheating. It is players getting the rules wrong. People aren’t used to the new rules. You see much more “cheating” going on at tournaments with newbies still learning the game than at the experienced player tables, mostly because the newbies don’t know the rules as well. Sadly, you do get a few bad apples that maliciously use the inexperience of a new player to cheat at a game. It sucks, but it’s going to happen, and TOs need to watch out for it. So, what does scenario complexity do to experienced players? It turns them into newbies again, unfamiliar with certain scenario rules, and eventually you don’t get a game of Infinity as much as “Person X’s game using Infinity models”.

Right now, people build army lists primarily towards getting the other player off the table, either through eliminating the lieutenant, forcing a retreat or killing every last troop (curse you, religious troops). What happens when they need to instead claim quarters or objectives in order to claim a victory? I suspect army lists will change dramatically. We would probably see more AD troops and possibly more melee troops. Will the game become unbalanced? I don’t know. I think Corvus Belli has done a great job of maintaining as much balance as they have. It’d be a shame if they messed it up now.

However, as a final point, I want to stress: If you are going to run alternative scenarios for a tournament, publish them beforehand and send them to participants well in advance (at least two weeks). You want to avoid players being surprised by a new scenario and different victory conditions, losing because they didn’t know something about the scenario, and then blaming their loss on the scenario design and, ultimately, you. Avoid surprises. Keep your players well-informed regarding scenarios, victory conditions, schedules and the like. That is crucial to a successful, fair and happy tournament.


  1. Interesting post. It's something I have been thinking about for a little while. I want to start running Infinity tournaments locally so I've been thinking of some scenarios for tournament play.

    Here's what I've come up with so far:
    1) Annihilation. Kill the other guys. Pretty straight forward.
    2) Domination. Basically objectives. But these are placed in or on buildings (climbing plus becomes handy here). Basically 40k rules but that all models (except remotes) can hold objectives.
    3) Breakthrough. The player with the most points in his enemies deployment zone wins.

    I think these three scenarios favor balanced list. The first one favors being killy, but also tough to kill. The second one favors an army that isn't remote spammy. and the last one means you must be mobile.

    What do you think?

  2. These scenarios are definitely worth trying out, and I look forward to playing your tournament in October. Hopefully, we can get some practice using these scenarios beforehand. I can tell you that, given these scenarios, I would definitely restructure my list from the straight forward annihilation games we've been playing thus far.

    It really depends on what you would consider a "balanced" list. Does a list need to be mobile to be balanced? Do remotes unbalance the game to a point that victory conditions need to avoid their overuse? I would argue no to both. I think Corvus Belli do a fine job of balancing out lists using SWC mechanisms, combat groups, order pool and the like. I tend to feel uncomfortable with scenarios encouraging a sort of "social engineering" into certain list-building behaviors, since that can lead to list extremes that normally wouldn't be viable. i.e. A list of 30 Galwegians, while not viable for annihilation, would hold a certain appeal in the other two scenarios involving mobility and capturing ground.

    But, again, that's a matter of personal opinion. I look forward to seeing what you come up with, OSH.

  3. Campaign book? Whua?!

    Granted I've been a bit out of the loop during the summer, but to miss this piece of news! Well, CB has managed very well so far and hopefully this next book won't be any different.

  4. Yeah, it should be out soon. I think it is really needed. The game needs some scenarios.

  5. You guys should try TaOS - http://wargamingtrader.com/dl/taos - we're using this on tournamets here. It makes the game quite interesting, and if you remember, that you have to stay alive and grab yout objectives - You can win by no killing your opponent's army ;]

  6. Jarv, that looks pretty interesting. Like Mission Roulette but a bit more fleshed out. Thanks for the tip!

  7. I've seen those and I haven't been able to read through them. Mission roulette looks great though, however a lot of them require discover rolls to accomplish a mission and I'm less inclined to include scenarios that could be won or lost due to the luck of a die roll. Mission Roulette is great for interesting and narrative games though and should be a part of your whole Infinity package.