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The DIRT – The Rules Less Traveled: Difficult Terrain

6 Minute Read
Jun 19 2014
Two Paths Diverge in the Woods.  I took the one less covered in potential AROs.  Difficult Terrain in Infinity, the reason it’s not used and the reason you should start.

Infinity rules, consumed all at once, can be daunting to brand new players.  This is often true for many war games.  I applaud and congratulate Infinity Organizers who remove rules to streamline and simplify the game.  Because with as many rules as Infinity has, it’s not difficult.  It’s just different.  However, as players become well versed in Infinity, it’s time to insert those rules that were overlooked back into the game.  It’ll give players another dimension to their Infinity game play experience.  The rules you should put back into your games we’ll look at today – Difficult Terrain.

Difficult Terrain – Why We Don’t See It Used

Before I get a flood of comments from people saying that they “ALWAYS” use difficult terrain.  As I’ve traveled from store to store and state to state playing Infinity, use of difficult terrain is far from universally.  And there are reasons that you don’t typically see it.

  1. Multitude of Movement Effects
    There are three different types of difficult terrain, and 10 different types of units it can effect.  Keeping track of these effects can be daunting.  To illustrate the movement effects, in a well organized table, I present the table that the Infinity Wiki gurus have put together.

    As you can see, there’s a lot of really great information in this table, and it forces you to think about another element of your Infinity models that new players don’t typically consider.  That element is whether a model is light/middle/heavy infantry, a skirmisher, etc.

  2. It Slows the Game Down
    This is true from the fact that your TAG with 6-4 movement now has to move 3-2 and that’s if it can move at all.  But the impression people have expressed about adding difficult terrain is that it increased the amount of time to play the game.
  3. No One Likes Hearing Their Models Got Nerfed
    This is probably the #1 reason I’ve seen no one use Zero-G Impassible Terrain.  In Zero-G almost nothing can move, models with Mech Deployment and Combat Jump must throw away those skills, etc.
  4. Difficult to Implement in a Tournament
    I did not say impossible, just difficult.  And there’s some difficulty, because while Difficult terrain should find it’s way back to the Infinity table, you probably don’t want to have a tournament where the difficult terrain movement chart must be referenced every round.  For new players, will you discourage tournament involvement when they get rocked because they did not create a list to address the difficult terrain?  Do you add and take away scenery for just the turn that has difficult terrain?  Do you consider the entire table surface difficult terrain?  However, if the rule is under utilized in tournaments, there will be less incentive to practice the rule.  
Where do we add Jungle/Mountain/aquatic terrain here?

And while there are more reasons, the reasons listed above are enough to discourage players and organizers from using difficult terrain.

Difficult Terrain – Why We Should Use It

Let’s get right to the list.

  1. Adds New Dimensions to the Game
    In preparation for filming a narrative version of Campaign:Paradiso, we started playing some of the missions on “Paradiso” boards.  The board had large expansive areas of jungle and mountain terrain.  And it was wild.  It forced me to adapt to new strategies that both my opponent was using on me as well as tactics I need to develop for my list.
  2. Returns Balance to Models/Sectorials
    Certain models and even full sectorials are themed to be from a particular world that influences their skill selection.  For those models that have terrain specialties, if you do not have some difficult terrain on the board, you are not getting the full usefulness of that unit based on its point costs.  This is especially true when looking at sectorials like Acontecimento and Merovingian.  But this is also true for Aleph’s Maruts TAG which also has the Multiterrain skill. 
A TAG that can move in very difficult terrain?  Awesome, can we see some difficult terrain on the board?
While the list of why you should add Difficult Terrain is smaller, the reasons here have a much larger impact to Infinity than the reasons people avoid Difficult Terrain.  Especially when I show you how to mitigate those concerns.

Difficult Terrain – Minimizing Player Impact

  1. Start With One Terrain Type
    While there are multiple types of terrains with additional features like low visibility.  When introducing difficult terrain to your group, start slow and add just one type.  Also make sure the first one you add isn’t aquatic which just opens up lines of fire and forces units to trudge through it.  Add hills/forest first.  One provides LOF blocking, the other low visibility zones.
  2. Print Out or Log In
    The difficult terrain movement chart that I included in this article can also be found in the online Infinity wiki.  In either case make sure you have that readily available.  This will help keep the game moving.  Also, don’t be afraid to make adjustments to Army Lists printed out to expedite the movement considerations for the board you are playing on.  As you continue to play with Difficult Terrain, it will become second nature to you.

  3. Let Your Opponent KnowWhether it’s a pickup game or tournament, let your opponent (or players) know that certain terrain will be added to the particular game.  As players become more well versed or they are encouraged to bring “all opponents” lists that are meaningfully balanced, this may be less necessary for pickup games as you can discuss when any natural terrain feature is included how you want to use it.  Next time a hill is on the board, choose to treat it like Mountain terrain.  It’ll keep your model from dying from a failed climb check if nothing else.

Difficult Terrain Rule Examples
Difficult terrain can influence two aspects of your infinity game.  The first (as we discussed above) is movement.  The second is visibility.  This article will focus on the movement aspect.  If there’s enough interest in the comments below, we’ll explore the low and zero visibility zones that terrain can sometimes convey.

Using the above chart and some images, lets show some examples on how difficult terrain works.

Example 1: Line Kazak moves over a low mountain
Low mountains are considered Difficult (as opposed to Very Difficult or Impassible).  Line Kazaks are LI (Light Infantry) based on their profile. In this example the model moves over the low hill without taking a movement penalty and without having to make a climb check (which would be the normal way to handle this if the players had not identified the terrain as difficult terrain.  

Example 2: Line Kazak moves over a Medium Mountain

Using the photo above, if the terrain was considered a middle mountain (and therefore Very Difficult Terrain), the Line Kazak would have moved half his speed over the terrain.

Example 3: Metros moves over a Medium Mountain

Let’s assume now that the model was a metro, instead of a line kazak.  Metros have the multiterrain skill.  With this skill, at the start of a game, the player controlling the metros must declare a single terrain type (zero-g, aquatic, jungle, mountain) that the multiterrain skill translates to.  Lets say the player choose mountain.  When a model is skilled in a particular terrain type, they treat it as one less difficulty step.  A model trained in mountain terrain (or chooses mountain for the multiterrain skill), would see the medium mountain as difficult instead of very difficult.  So the metros walks over the medium mountain with full movement.

So get out there and give those rules a try.  You never know – you may love it!

Infinity Image of the Day…

Tarik Mansuri playing tag, with a TAG

So that’s the news, the skinny, and The DIRT on bringing difficult terrain back to your gaming table.  Got some tips or tricks regarding the use of Difficult terrain, leave it in the comment section below.  As always find me here, my YouTube Channel, or drop me a line with Infinity photos at my new email address [email protected] . 

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