This is a recollection of a very singular game at the Rumble on Route 66. The last round was the one round that I dreaded the most. The mission was Biotechnovore. If you’ve played it, then you probably understand my dread, even if you don’t share it. For those familiar with Infinity, but perhaps not familiar with this particular mission (p. 34 in the ITS mission pamphlet for a 300pt game), it’s a typical 4’x4′ board with an 8″ deployment zone. No big deal right? Wrong, because there’s a cloud of death that hangs out over the first 16″ from every board edge. Most figures move 4-4, so even if you could line up on the exact edge of the 8″ mark and spend an order token on each and I’d still be screwed as you’d still, most likely, be in the very edge of the zone. So, the trick here is to use command tokens and use coordinated orders. The best way, at the time of the Rumble, to do that was to go second and use a command token to remove the ability to use more than one command token. If you only have 1 command token, instead of 4, then you’re limited to the number of coordenated moves you can make and then things go downhill from there. At the end of each player turn (within each round), any troopers still left in the Biotechnovore zone make a roll versus BTS and, at a strength 14, it’s not easy to beat. Two rolls if your trooper is a remote, TAG or anything with structure points instead of wounds. If you fail, it’s straight to dead for that trooper. Any trooper left in the Biotechnovore zone at the end of the third round, is also considered dead. As I’m mostly opposed to my troopers being considered dead, through any means, I did not like this mission at all. Every time I’ve played it, I’ve lost. I had a pretty great time losing, most of those times, but I still lost.
Round 4 of the Rumble was decided and I was gathering my gear for the last game and settled down at the very cool “Mesa Table”. That’s just my name for it. It was an 8’X4′ themed table based on Ariadna. We were on the wilderness side of the table. There was this really cool wall down the middle of the 8′ table, seperating the civilized side from the wilderness side. The table really felt like a canyon. There were standing stones and mesas all through the table. Whoever built it (I used to know, but can’t remember right now) put in a lot of thought and effort into building it and it was awesome on both sides.
I sat down to gather my thoughts and decide on the list I was going to play. The dude who sat down across from me looked very tired, but in reasonable spirits. He said he’d been up for a long while, or was up late the night prior. Turned out that he was playing JSA. I want to love Yu Jing and both of the current Sectorials that are in the game. I’m having a time finding my niche right now, but I was stoked to play another Yu Jing player and was gleefully ready to die to ninjas and fireteams.
We rolled for initiative and I think I won and chose initiative. He chose to stay on the side he was on and we set up. I was to set up first. One of the guys I travelled with was using Shaolin Monks as well and told me, right before the last round, about the success he was having keeping them in a bunched group. So, heeding his advice, I put all of my Monks on one side of the board, choosing to run them up to hunt with chain rifles and CCW weapons, using smoke to cover each other.
The first thing that struck me about Liam was the fact that when it was my turn to go first, he said that he was not going to limit my orders, nor would he take away my use of command tokens. “It was a dick move,” he said and so I proceeded to use my command tokens to move all but two of my units out of the biotechvore field. During my turn, we had a pretty good time talking about the game. But the fun really started on his turn in the first round. My Shaolin had moved, as a group, pretty far into the field, thanks to some coordinated irregular movements.
There were appparently a line of TO camo tokens that were just on the edge of the 8″ zone in hidden deployment. He moved them a bit and then revealed one to be Kitsune (Deadly little Kitsune)! I was so excited. I think I bounced a little bit at the thought of my favorite space ninja fighting my kung fu warriors. The scene was already starting to form in my head. I could see Kitsune revealing herself at the very last second to the Shaolin and the fight would be on. As soon as he revealed, he engaged using her long distance engage to get in CC range with my Monk. I think I forgot to ARO! I didn’t want to, really, partly because of how cool the maneuver was and partly because I wanted to see Kung Fu versus Ninjitsu right there on the table! It was the first time I had really seen serious hand to hand fighting in Infinity, most people want to shoot my Shaolin before they get a chance to shake hands and here was someone who could handle what the Shaolin could dish out. I want to admit here, that I fully expected to die. Shinobu Kitsune is the best Ninja in the game. She has a 25 CC stat, a level 5 Martial Arts skill, and a Monofilament Katana to go with her skill. She’s a killer and I knew that my little Shaolin Monk was about to die a glorious death in mortal combat with a ninja, but it was going to be awesome. It was totally awesome!
After some debate, we figured out that we would each use MA level 3. I would use it, because it would help me out the most (and was the highest that I could muster), he would use it so that it would even everything back out again, out of defense. (Would’ve been Shaolin 26 to 22 Kitsune, unless he used his MA3 to counter, bringing the total back to Shaolin 23 vs 25 Kitsune) We rolled, I knew I needed to roll a 17 or better to crit, but I just wanted to do well. He dropped his die, rolling a 10. I dropped mine and rolled…. a 20! I was shocked. This game has a lot of great moments in it, but one of the best is the crit. There’s nothing better than being an underdog and critting a higher skilled model. This moment was crazy weird for me, because that was the turning point, in some regards. Shinobu was his Lieutenent. He immediately made all of his units irregular, which in hindsight I don’t think is right, but in all honesty, I was trying my best to keep track of my rules and trusting my opponent to know his rules too. If I had thought for a moment, perhaps I would’ve realized the error, but I didn’t and for that, I’m sorry Liam. Due to his units becoming irregular, some of his troops didn’t make it out of the 16″ Biotechnovore area, but that isn’t where the fun of this game was.
When it was my turn, I started with my impetuous troops, my Shaolin. As soon as I moved the first one, Liam revealed an Oniwaban and then declared that the Oniwaban was motioning my Shaolin toward his Oniwaban. I was giddy with the coolness that was happening! The Oniwaban was challenging my Shaolin to a fight! Then we rolled again, using MA3 (I think it was Shaolin 23 vs 24 Oniwaban) and I rolled another 20. We repeated this until all of my Shaolin had matched up with the rest of his TO camo guys (which I think was at least 1 more Oniwaban and then a Ninja). Each time, my Monk would move and another TO camo marker would reveal a new opponent that was beckoning for the Shaolin to meet in mortal combat. Each time the request was answered. The whole game to me was this skirmish. Each move was cinematically met with a fun and dramatic reveal. The hand gestures of the oniwaban (or ninja) beckoning the Shaolin) were like a roleplaying game. When I think of this game, it really comes down to the Ninja vs. Shaolin fight for me. I could’ve lost every Shaolin I had to Kitsune and been happy. I mean that. I had so much fun that this game inspired a very small short story on the official forums.
Everything about this game was fun, but it came down to 8 models (4 from each side, approximately), some lucky rolls, and a good sport who was having fun in the game and in the moment. This wasn’t about the win for me. Because really, the scenario defeated my opponent, not anything that I did tactically. This game, for me, was about learning that enjoying your opponent is just as important as enjoying the game. I had a great time playing Liam. I can only hope that I get to play him in future Rumbles. I can’t thank him enough for changing the game for me. I’m not sure how I’m going to alter my play style, but I know it’s going to happen.
– Jake out.