Your guide to getting started with the cyberpunk tabletop game
180 years from now, humanity has expanded into space, created colonies on far distant worlds, and discovered new technologies and materials beyond anything it could have imagined. Not all is well, however.
The Human Sphere — the area of the galaxy that humanity controls — has discovered that not all life amongst the stars is benevolent. Aliens have arrived at the border and the nations of the Human Sphere now fight for their lives. At home, too, these human powers wage a silent war amongst themselves, even as outside threats loom ever closer. Teams of special forces operators conduct shadow missions to steal medical research, weapon prototypes or even attempt to destabilise factions within other nations.
This is the distant future of Corvus Belli’s Infinity, a sci-fi skirmish tabletop game that pits you and your army of 10-15 models against an opponent and their army of 10-15 models. You’ll aim to complete your objectives, while ensuring that your opponent can’t complete theirs. Aesthetically, Infinity draws influences from a vast array of sources, but mainly from manga and anime series.
While not every faction is supported in Code One, you can generally learn the ropes using the models of whichever faction you like before transitioning into the full game when you’re ready. Plus, it’s a living ruleset, so you only have to purchase the big hardcover books if you want all the sweet background material!
The madmen (and women) at Corvus Belli are true champions of the wargamer: their ruleset and the tokens you will need to play are completely free (you can download them here). They do offer fantastic print books, but they are not remotely necessary to start playing the game.
Full disclosure: Infinity’s 28mmminiatures are metal cast. This means that they can be hard to work with since you need superglue to build them and are less customisable than plastic or resin, but they are absolutely gorgeous sculpts. Just remember to clean them with soapy water and an old toothbrush to save yourself issues when building.
Otherwise, the buy-in for Infinity is fairly small compared to other wargames in the genre, mostly because the theme is small teams of special operators. You generally only need 10 to 15 miniatures and the two-player starter sets often include the core of what you need. It should be noted that Corvus Belli, being a smaller company, has limited resources; some troops in the game have never received official models and require makeshift replacements, especially for newer release factions.
Understanding the game:
To start with, Infinity makes use of a few mechanics that can be odd to a newbie. For example, Order generation is where each unit in your force generates an Order token, of various types, for you to use in your active turn. Some mechanics are a bit more familiar, such as target rolls (roll a dice to score as close to a particular number as you can) and the use of D20s (20-sided dice).
We’ll start by breaking down the way Infinity plays and run through all the crucial concepts so we can get our models on the table and start playing.
In a game of Infinity,there are three rounds. This doesn’t sound like a lot, especially when most wargames have five or six turns to play out per game, but Infinity works slightly differently.
Each player has three Active Turns, one per round. This is where you spend generated Orders on your troops and try to complete your objectives. While you play your Active Turn, your opponent is in their Reactive Turn, where they can issue more limited Orders in reaction to yours – usually the choice to fire at someone passing by an alleyway or dodge behind cover. After all, they’re not just going to stand there idly and let you achieve your objectives uncontested.
Every trooper generates at least one Order, while some generate more through special skills. For the purposes of this basic introduction, we’ll focus on the core ways they’re generated and used. It’s important to note that, as you lose troopers, your Order pools will get smaller, so it’s vital to make the other guy bleed faster than you do.
The types of Orders that can be generated are:
Regular Orders are Orders that troopers within the combat group can use freely. There is no limit to the number of these you spend on an individual trooper, just the maximum of your combat group.
Irregular Orders can only be used by the trooper who generated them. These represent those troops who are more unruly and undisciplined than the regulars they serve beside.
An Impetuous Order is a special type that is generated by particularly impulsive troops. You don’t have to use them but they can be useful to get up the field. These follow a specific set of rules which can basically be boiled down to “charge at the closest thing”.
Lieutenant Orders are only generated by the commander of your force, and can only be used by them. There are a few exceptions to this that are granted by special rules, but we won’t be delving into those.
Lastly, a Command Token is technically not an Order but is used in conjunction with them. You will get four of these to spend in various ways in a normal-sized game, such as putting units into suppressive fire or coordinating the movement of multiple troopers.
Orders are used by declaring either a Long or Short Skill, and carrying it out. A Long Skill consumes the entire order, whereas a Short Skill only consumes half, giving a total of two actions. The rulebook linked at the beginning of this article includes detailed explanations of all Skills, but here is a brief summary:
Move (Short Skill): Move your trooper around the battlefield according to the trooper’s first Movement value. For example, this can involve vaulting over small obstacles and going up stairs. Using this Order twice means that the second time you move, you have to use the trooper’s second Movement value, which can sometimes be significantly lower than the first (more on this in the Profiles section below).
Cautious Movement (Long Skill) represents advancing slowly. As long as you start outside of a certain range from the enemy, your movement does not generate a Reactive Order for your opponent.
Jump (Long Skill): Self-explanatory. Some skills can adjust the jump height and how fast you can do it.
Climb (Long Skill): Also self-explanatory. Some skills can adjust the climb speed.
Ballistic Skill Attack (Short Skill): Shoot your guns at the bad guy.
Speculative Attack (Long Skill): Fire an indirect weapon, like a grenade launcher, at a target you cannot see with the trooper. Only guns with the Speculative Fire trait are eligible for this skill.
Intuitive Attack (Long Skill): Fire at a target you cannot see with the trooper, such as a camouflaged enemy within close range. Only guns with the Intuitive Attack trait are eligible for this skill.
Close Combat Attack (Short Skill): Stick ‘em with the pointy end.
Some of these skills are also available as Reactive Orders, such as shooting back or fighting in hand to hand. The rulebook really is the best place to get a detailed explanation of how these work, but it’s easy to play once you have it down.
Now we come to the meat of the game: choosing who gets to join your super secret covert ops.
In Infinity, units are broken up into various categories. Most of the time this doesn’t matter too much, but it’s relevant for discussing the sort of forces you can have at your disposal.
The types of troops available to you include:
Light Infantry:Basic grunts. They don’t carry much equipment but there are exceptions.
Medium Infantry:More heavily armed and usually plays the supporting role for your big attacking guy.
Heavy Infantry:Depending on the faction, these can be power-armoured troops or just exceptionally tough-as-nails elite warriors. Carry some of the biggest guns but are correspondingly expensive for it.
Skirmishers: Similar to light infantry but more specialised, usually with a dirty trick or two up their sleeve. Minelayers, camouflaged ninjas, that sort of thing.
Warbands: More aggressive troops who fight face-to-face. Typically impetuous and hard to control but hit like freight trains when used right.
Remotes: Little robot helpers. These can vary from little medic-bots that help a doctor, to a heavy-weapon-toting missile platform or machine gun drone.
While technically not a troop type, it is also worth mentioning characters. These are named profiles who are unique and usually have a decent loadout and set of skills. There isn’t a rule saying you and your opponent can’t both field the same character though if you happen to be playing armies which can both take them, like having both Hector in Steel Phalanx and Hector in Starmada on the table at the same time.
This is a basic trooper profile – kind of daunting, isn’t it? Thankfully it isn’t that complicated once explained. The statistics of a profile are:
Movement (MOV): Separated into two numbers, this dictates how far you go when using a Move skill the first and second time in a single order. Measured in inches.
Close Combat (CC): Determines how proficient you are in hand-to-hand combat.
Ballistic Skill (BS): Determines how well you can shoot the guns you have at your disposal.
Physique (PH): Determines how hard you hit in close combat, how well you can dodge, and is used for a few special skills.
Willpower (WIP): Used for morale, which determines whether you can activate an objective, as well as a few special skill interactions.
Armour (ARM): Determines how much of a beating you can take. You check this value against incoming damage to determine your armour save roll.
Bio-Technological Shield (BTS): Armour but to save against hacking and attacks such as virus weapons or plasma shots.
Wounds (W): Determines how many hits you can take before going unconscious or being killed. Usually only 1, though tougher units can survive 2 or 3 wounds.
Silhouette (S): Determines how chunky you are and therefore, what you can hide behind. Usually 2 for lightly armoured troops but can be higher for bigger units. Special cases like motorbikes and remotes have their own specific Silhouette markers.
Availability (AVA): Determines how many of this particular unit you can take. Each unit will either have a number to indicate a limit, or a “T” to indicate that you may take as many of that unit as you like.
There are also two other statistics worth mentioning that do not form the main profile:
Special Weapons Cost (SWC): Determines how many heavy weapons or special pieces of equipment you can take. In a normal-sized game, you will have 6 SWC to spend, mostly so not every unit on the field is armed with something like a machine gun.
Cost (C): The amount you need to pay in points to field this unit in battle. Normal-sized games are 300 points, but smaller games are good to start out with and learn the game.
Some profiles may also have some specialist profiles, like the paramedic or the hacker in our above example. These are your button pushers and the guys who complete objectives. They’re not always necessary but you will generally want them.
Lastly, units will sometimes have abilities called special skills. In the above example, as a basic infantryman, the Fusilier unit only has the skill “Fireteam: Core”, but other more specialised units can have many special skills. These can be found on the Army Builder app by clicking on a unit’s special skill, which will open the wiki with a detailed explanation.
Fireteams are special unit formations, kind of like a squad in other wargames. Available only to Sectorial factions (more on this below), they provide a decisive edge to your force composition.
Usually a unit can only be taken in a fireteam composed entirely of the same unit entry, but sometimes other units can join. In our case of using this Fusilier, because they are from the Svalarheima Winter Force, they can be joined by ORC Troops and Infirmarers.
Fireteams come in the following configurations:
Core: Up to five troops can be included. You may only have one Core fireteam in a force. These tend to be powerful formations but can be used defensively.
Haris: Up to three troops can be included. You may only have one Haris fireteam in a force. These tend to be teams of stronger units that can work well in small groups.
Duo: Two troopers make up this fireteam. You can have as many of these fireteams as you like. Useful for moving small groups up the field quickly.
Some factions have special fireteam configurations that only they may use, which will follow their own sets of rules.
You may also notice that some profiles, like the Crane Agent here, have a “Special Fireteam” entry at the bottom of their unit summary. As it states on the Crane profile, “Wildcard Trooper” means that they can slot into any Fireteam in their Sectorial, which is very useful for getting some heavy firepower into teams.
Building your army:
Now that you have a basic understanding of Infinity, you’re looking at the models going, “man, those are fantastically cool, but how do I use them?” Never fear, dear reader: I’m here to help.
Each unit in Infinity belongs to a specific faction, and there are many factions to choose from. We’ll even have a handy faction summary article for you to peruse soon, which will hopefully aid you in your decision. But for as many factions as there are in Infinity, there’s only one real choice to make: Vanilla or Sectorial.
Choosing one of the overarching vanilla factions means losing out on fireteams but choosing basically any profile that falls under the faction umbrella, as well as mercenary troops. Vanilla tends to have less order efficiency but works better for extreme skew lists, where you lean into a particular type of trooper.
Sectorials are basically the subfactions of vanilla factions. For example, the Winter Force is a Sectorial of PanOceania. These factions allow for Fireteams, which enhances your order efficiency and gives you the potential for powerful combinations of troopers. You have a more limited list to choose from when forming an army, but these units tend to fit a theme and work well together.
Besides choosing a faction, there is (usually) only one rule in building your army: you must have a Lieutenant option, and you can only have one. Other than that, build your force however you like – keeping to availability limits, of course.
That’s all… For now!
There you have it, the basics of Infinity in a nutshell. Bear in mind that I haven’t covered everything in the game here, though. This is just a basic rundown that will let you understand how the tabletop game works and, if you’re interested, eventually expand from Code One into the N4 ruleset.
Keep an eye out for our two-part overview of Infinity’s many factions, and then extra breakdowns of individual Sectorials afterwards. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and I look forward to sharing more of the wonderful world of Infinity with you!