Playing wargames with miniatures requires patience. There’s all the painting, of course, but the rules themselves are notoriously complex. Getting through a battle can take hours, and there’s often downtime spent waiting for your opponent to take a turn. It’s these shortcomings that Infinity CodeOne, a game developed and published by Corvus Belli, was designed to circumvent. On Thursday, the Spanish company unveiled a new starter set, titled Infinity CodeOne: Operation Crimson Stone. We’ve embedded the trailer above. Polygon spoke with co-creator Gutier Lusquiños to learn more.
Infinity was first published in 2005. Lusquiños and his collaborators wanted to make a science fiction game that stood out from the competition. They wanted something less grim and retrofuturistic than Warhammer 40,000, but also something brighter and more optimistic than your average cyberpunk setting. The solution was a blend of Japanese manga-inspired artwork and a hopeful, transnational political landscape akin to Star Trek.
Theirs is a world set 180 years into the future, where humanity is just starting to establish itself across multiple extrasolar planets. For players that means lots of exotic weapons and armor, but a style of combat that still feels nonetheless familiar.
In a traditional game of Infinity, two players square off against each other with about 15 miniatures each. Battles take place on small tables, the largest being a four foot square. But what sets the game apart visually is the density of the terrain. Where a game like 40K might have just a handful of buildings or trees on the table, games of Infinity often resemble dense mazes filled with weird futuristic structures and alien plant life. The reason for all that terrain is because of Infinity’s most unique feature, a mechanic called Automatic Order Reaction (AoR).
Say that one of your models is standing in the back of a structure, completely hidden from your opponent’s miniatures. On their turn, your opponent moves their miniature around the corner of that structure bringing them face-to-face with your own. In a game of Warhammer 40,000, unless those units were within one inch of each other, nothing much would happen. The enemy unit would finish its move, and then take its actions accordingly on that player’s turn. But, in Infinity, moving into line of sight — called Line of Fire (LoF) in game terms — allows you to take aim and fire at the enemy unit.
Units are always at risk of receiving return fire, making the simple act of moving across the board a challenge. As a result, fans of Infinity find it to be much more active and engaging than other systems.
“One of the great advances of Infinity when we released it — nearly 20 years ago — was the Automatic Order Reaction,” Lusquiños said. “One of the reasons we say, ‘In Infinity it is always your turn,’ is because you can always play. Always. And, that again, came from our times as gamers, when you say, ‘Okay, it’s your turn. I’m going to sit here and wait. I’m going to get a Coke and come back in five minutes, but you can you can start moving now.’ That’s very boring, and it doesn’t reflect the reality of combat.”
Additionally, games of Infinity last just a few rounds making every engagement a sprint to the finish line. Players must probe for weakness in their opponent’s line, but if they stall or lack boldness it can be easy to lose momentum.
Infinity CodeOne is a simplified version of the larger Infinity game. Like Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team, it also requires fewer miniatures — as few as three on each side. But, unlike Kill Team, CodeOne is a true introduction to a larger ruleset. CodeOne teaches players the exact same skills they will need to succeed at the full-fat version of Infinity. Lusquiños calls it the “gateway to Infinity.”
The new Crimson Stone starter set adds two factions, the Nomads and the Ariadna, which have not yet appeared in this slimmed down version of the game. Expect an asymmetrical confrontation, with the lower-tech Ariadna relying on brute force against the more advanced Nomads. When the game ships later this year it will come with a playmat, plenty of three-dimensional cardboard terrain, and all the tokens and markers needed to play. Pre-orders begin on July 5. No pricing information was given.
You can get started playing Infinity right now, with whatever miniatures you have available. The full, 176-page rulebook is available free online.