For those unfamiliar with Infinity, it's a miniatures skirmish game by Corvus Belli that is currently on its third edition (Infinity N3). The rules are available as a free download via their Infinity website and there are a couple of two player starter packs available (Icestorm and Red Veil).
The Japanese Secessionist Army (JSA) Army Pack is a starter set for those interested in collecting the JSA in Infinity and ties in with Corvus Belli's new Infinity Uprising sourcebook release. The JSA were originally part of the Yu Jing faction and have broken away to operate on their own.
So what's in the box?The JSA Army Pack contains the following miniatures:
- 3x Keisotsu Butai
- 2x Ryuken Unit-9
- 1x Kempeitai
- 1x Daiyokai Dengekitai
- 1x Oniwaban
- 1x Kuge Delegate
- 1x Kuroshi Rider, Aragoto Senkenbutai Riku-Gun-Shoi
- 1x Kaizoku Spec-Ops (Pre-Order Exclusive and might not now be available at some retailers)
- A double sided poster with a game mat on the reverse
- 3x JSA Dice
- 1x Kurage Station Scenery Pack containing several buildings, bridges and boxes
- 1x Ruler
- A whole host of tokens
- A quick-start rulebook with an update history, some flavour stories, rules, scenarios and the stats for the figures included in the set
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As you can see from the above photos, the quality of the miniatures is amazing; the poses and little details give each character a vivid personality. The models do require a lot more effort to put together than other systems, so if you're a beginner, you will need to take your time with these, as the gluing and filing of the models isn't a quick snap together task. The models in our photos are only glued together, no filler has been added, which is required on a couple of the models to plug the gaps, but that's all part of the hobby. None of that should put you off, because the end result should justify the effort you put in, and these models are worth it.
If Japanese-esque cyberpunk, Ghost in the Shell style samurai ninja's are you thing, there's nothing that will hit the spot quite like the Infinity JSA. The Kuroshi Rider and Daiyokai Dengekitai are especially great models.
The Kurage Station Scenery pack is also a lot better than I expected. Pop-up cardboard scenery isn't going to rock anyone's world, but these are incredibly thematic and surprisingly robust. Three bridges are included to connect the buildings, and the boxes included are great cover. There's enough included for your first few games, which is what this box is intended for, and if added to the contents of one of the available starter sets, you will actually have a decent amount of scenery. The printed colors, logos, and markings on the scenery is great, and when combined with the included game mat, adds a great deal of thematic depth to the game.
The included tokens and dice are only thin cardboard, but adding an acrylic sticker to the top of them turns them into extremely robust tokens. For your first few games though, these are fine, and if you're already a player of Infinity, just expanding your collection or starting the JSA faction, then you're probably already going to have a set of tokens, so keeping costs down with lighter tokens might actually be the smart move with this set.
The 80 page rulebook has 40 pages in Spanish and 40 pages in English, and includes some history detail about the JSA with some flavor stories; details about all the units included in the box, including stats; and beginner rules to get you started. At the end of the book are details of other JSA models to expand your collection, details of other Infinity products, and a modelling and painting guide. The art and details throughout are well put together and the beginner rules are very easy to get in to, but we'll cover the rules in the section below.
Infinity as a Skirmish System ReviewThe rules included in the JSA Army Pack are extremely basic and are designed just to get you into the system. They're designed to introduce you to the concepts that make the system what it is, and after a couple of games, you won't need to refer to this booklet anymore.
The Infinity rules, as well as army lists and a host of other content, are available for free on the Infinity site. There is also an extremely comprehensive wiki, which is actually what you will spend most of your time referring to when playing Infinity.
I decided that to learn to play Infinity, I would approach some already established players to take me through my first few games, which is what I would advise anyone to do after playing their first few test games at home. The players I approached play at the Hackney Area Tabletop Enthusiast Club (HATE Club) in Bethnal Green, London, and I played my first few games using the JSA against Aodhan Gleave.
The basics of Infinity are extremely simple. Depending on the amount of units you have in play at the start of the turn, you get that amount of order tokens that turn. These order tokens can be used on any unit (even the same unit several times in one turn). The main difference from other systems, and what made Infinity stand out to me, is that during your turn, your opponent gets reaction actions. For example, if I move a unit into the line of sight of another unit, that unit will get to fire at mine; if I fire back, the shots happen simultaneously, which can result in both units being taken out. This makes Infinity extremely tactical when it comes to movement, cover, and how you approach your enemies.
After your first few games using the basic rules, a whole world of steep learning curves with false peaks opens up—you think you've got it, you're at the top, rules nailed! But there's always more to learn, new tactics to work out and work around, and it's that depth that makes Infinity such an interesting system. It's not frustrating in that there are so many rules to learn, it's the breadth of scope that allows so many options and stops a stale meta, which in the world of competitive gaming means that the balance is spot on.
We will cover the Infinity system in more depth in later reviews; this section is just to give an overview of what makes it so interesting.
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The JSA as an ArmyI really enjoyed playing the JSA. They do close combat extremely well and have some interesting characters and concepts out of this starter box, but I wouldn't recommend it to beginners of Infinity, even less so to beginners of wargames or skirmish games. They're a hard nut to crack and have some obvious weaknesses when it comes to long range fire-power out of the starter set, which can be worked around by adding more units, but that needs some knowledge of the game.
Taking the Oniwaban to war is a thing of beauty. He operates as you would expect a cyber-ninja to and can remain hidden and dominate the back line of your opponent's force. The rest of my force was regularly killed closing the distance with the enemy.
As I love the theme and the miniatures so much though, they're going to be my army of choice as I go forward with Infinity, and I'm really looking forward to working out how to make them work.
The Bottom Line:
The JSA Army Pack is an extremely well put together pack with some great miniatures and a lot of content. If you're new to Infinity though, you should get one of the two available two-player starter sets. If you love the miniatures in this set, and they are great, then this pack is still worth the purchase. Infinity 3rd Edition is a solid system, which is easy to learn, but has a huge amount of depth and currently has a great system of balance between the forces.
Get this game if:
You want a skirmish system that rewards tactical play.
You have any kind of love for Ghost in the Shell (or any Cyberpunk Anime), samurai, ninjas, or Japan in general, the models and set are extremely thematic.
You want a balanced system with a lot of depth.
You want to watch a cyber-ninja decimate your opponents entire back line.
Avoid this game if:
You're brand new to Infinity or wargaming in general, don't avoid Infinity, just get the two-player starter sets, then get this later.
You don't want to invest time into modelling.
This copy of the JSA Army Pack used for this review was provided by Corvus Belli.
A special shout-out goes to the HATE Club for making me feel extremely welcome there, and to Aodhan Gleave for taking the time to show me the system.
Are you an Infinity player, what do you think of the JSA as a faction? How awesome are the JSA miniatures in this pack? Are you a non-wargamer but cyberpunk lover and are interested in this pack for the models?