The Allure of Small Games

Posted by Grantt Ennis on

Yesterday I played two games of Infinity using Ash Barkers Recon rules. It’s a nice little ruleset designed for smaller, almost introductory games of Infinity and I definitely recommend it, not just for starting players, but also for veterans. 

I’ve been playing Infinity for three years now; I’ve seen two editions and 3 ITS seasons. I’ve even got two ITS wins under my belt (one was definitely more luck than judgement; the other… fifty-fifty?), so I see myself as a veteran - not an expert, but definitely someone who knows the game. I love the ITS system, particularly special missions, and I think that 300 points is the perfect size for those games. 

But the two 150 point games I had yesterday were great fun. Nail biting. Intense. Cinematic. Everything you want from a great game. 

In the first, a poor performance from a usually strong unit (Asura) left me in a pickle, as the enemy swarmed all over me (Nomads - a Chimera and Pupniks just ran at me out of nowhere) and my poor Asura got knocked down to her final hit. At the start of turn two, I was expecting a nasty loss. However, my bog standard sniper (Dakini) promptly took out the enemy leader and 4 other units, decimating my opponent. In the following turns, I mopped up and ran to a glorious victory. 

In the second, another unbelievably poor decision on my part, and a shockingly sneaky play from my opponent, lead me to lose half my force immediately. A rogue netrod that landed smack bang in the middle of three carefully placed snipers allowed the enemy (who wasn’t a warrior after all; he was a rocket launcher specialist using holo-projectors) to enjoy a perfectly placed blast template that blew everything (except, surprisingly, the netrod) off the rooftop. This was followed by him killing my leader and downing a power unit and leading me to believe I’d already lost the game. 

I hadn’t. An infiltrated unit dropped her invisibility and stole the objective, while other units suppressed the enemy and my doctor got herself back in the action. In the following turns, my amazonian biker chewed through weak enemy units, while my infiltrated hacker kept the enemy heavy infantry away from the objective through aggressive hacking. Bless the tough little assault hacker; she stayed there the entire game and netted me another 8-0 victory. 

But it wasn’t about the wins. The exploding rooftop; my Asura shrugging off a missile to the face; one lone Haqqislam rifleman pinning Penthesilia for an entire turn; a Bashi Bazouk parachuting into the battle only to be instantly chewed to pieces by nano-machines… All these things seemed so much more exciting and important. The smaller points allowance made every unit important, and every exchange of fire meaningful, which just made the entire game even more exciting. Better yet, it allowed both of us to take units we wouldn’t usually (or in my case, an entire faction), and it lead us to experiment and laugh at the successes and failures of the attempts. In short, we had two great games. 

Don’t get me wrong; I love big games, and I’ve had my fair share of entire days (sometimes whole weekends) playing huge battles, but there’s something about smaller games that just catch me. Maybe it’s that you can have two or three games in one evening session. Maybe it’s the heightened importance of every model; maybe it’s just the narratives that occur. Whatever it is, smaller games seem to be the vogue at the moment, and I’m all in. 

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