Saturday, 1 August 2020

The Summer Wargamezebo (part 2)

After a thoroughly satisfactory game of Taiping Era, Richard was up next with the infamous "Infamy, Infamy", from TFL. Richard is a TFL fan, Phil just wants to find one of their games he likes. I'm just trying to understand why they are so popular.

Infamy, Infamy is Sharpe Practice transposed to the Roman Imperial period. I couldn't get what SP was supposed to be (other than a simulation of the laughably small reenactments that were part of the TV show), so not sure what I expect from II.

Richard had brought all the bits and his nice toys. The game doesn't play on a grid, I just didn't take the cloth off.

We had some Romans with a wagon and some Gauls with a village. We (that is the Gauls) had some ambush jump off points marked by unpainted figures.

Phil had some Romans. You get to deploy things as their tokens are drawn from a bag. Or cards turned off a deck.

I had some levy warband. They leapt out of an ambush point and stood there. I didn't quite understand the mechanism.

Then Chris got some cavalry out. He did understand the mechanisms, and launched a flank charge.

Archers taken from the flank!! Ha ha! Roll 'em up.

Or get bounced due to bad/good dice rolling.

Richard explains the niceties of moving things to Phil.

We're in the second round of moving, so my levy wheel round to take on the auxilia.

But what's this? Elite warband storm out of the woods.

Lots of dice and lots of damage, almost. Romans have heavy armour and are tough to kill.

I was then able to throw my weight in. More mayhem ensued.

We then had to pack up, as Richard had a long drive home.

Conclusions? Well, it makes sense if you ignore what units the figures are meant to represent and just get on with it. I watched one of the original II videos about how to set the game up, and was prepared to kill myself after 20 minutes of "roll these dice, put this here, roll more dice, put this here". We had a chat about terrain generation systems. On the whole I'm not a fan.

There's some fun stuff here, like the random sequence units move in, and the ability to store up extra commands whilst not knowing when the turn will end. The combat system is sort of "whatever". You roll dice and get extra ones for various reasons, make saving rolls, then record deaths and "shock". Seems to work.

As someone starting out as a rules writer and publisher, I'm impressed with the quality of production. They've been at this for a long time, so I don't know if it has improved over time, but a lot of effort has been put in here. Plus you can buy bespoke card decks and counters. I'd guess, based on the effort, that £26 is a good price. I don't know if that's print on demand, or if they've laid a stock in. I'd guess the latter, as they have a solid fan base, and know sort of how many will sell. Still, £26 is a lot more that I'd dare to charge (they charge £16 for the pdf, which is more than I'd ask for hard copies). I don't know if they make a living out of this, but the profit margin, based on my costings is sizeable. Best of luck to them. It would be good to meet up and talk to them about how they go about producing and marketing what they do.


  1. Brave man for trying these rules! I've never tried any of the TFL rules as the reports I got were of a negative type from people (like me!) who prefer the big battle approach. I don't understand the upsurge in popularity of skirmish games although they naturally have a place in war gaming. Current skirmish rules however seem to have more leaning to quirky, unique mechanisms than an attempt at an historical interpretation. I tried as a favour to my pal(with trepidation!)Pikemans Lament earlier this year and experienced the same bewilderment I think you did with Infamy! Thank you for a very interesting review and another skirmish rule set I'll avoid!

    1. They're odd rules in terms of level of resolution. I wouldn't think of them as skirmish games. I tend to think in a skirmish game you are at a 1:1 level of resolution. I like the idea of rules that allow for resolution at a low level of organisation. I really like "File Leader", which enables you to do battles with one or two regiments aside, where the level of resolution is company and there's a proper command structure. I don't know if "I,I" is a good set of rules of their type. There are people playing them and enjoying them, I believe, and if so, then that's great. They just aren't doing it for me.

      Plus they'd be improved by putting them on squares. There's a board game type feel to some of the mechanisms, so why not go the whole hog?

  2. They (clearly) have a huge following, but I am one of those people who never "got" the TfL rule sets.. tried 2 or 3 now and it just doesn't do it for me...

    1. Yes. I've tried SP, these, and "What a Tanker!". I admire their industry and the quality of their productions, they just don't do it for me. I suppose I could explain why properly if I devoted a whole blog post to the analysis, but why bother? It won't change the minds of those who love them (and why should i try?) and it won't change my mind either.

    2. I would add that remember we only played a very stripped down intro version of the Infamy Infamy rules as we aimed to try for a flavour within the time available, and we were all brand new to it, including me as “umpire”. So perhaps a little like eating a papadum without the mango chutney and lime pickle. But i recognise that everyone has rules they “get on with” or otherwise. I have struggled with all the “big” ancients rules, finally concluding i can cope with original DBM and have an enjoyable enough game without loving the rules. I should probably play more DBA, which is also like.

    3. All fair comment. We have a chance to do Infamy properly in August. But why is there no QRS?

    4. My mistake. There is, as a free download.