A few people have asked me about the various factions in Infinity, and where they should start looking. Having bought into factions in minis games that don’t really suit my playstyle, I’ve always sought out this sort of thing before jumping in, and I’m familiar enough with Infinity that I think I can write up a solid evaluation of how each faction plays. Hopefully this is helpful to some folks who were interested in taking a look at the game!
First, the main factions of the game. These are often referred to as “Vanilla” factions, and break down something like this:
ALEPH is tricky insofar as it’s relatively difficult to build highly-tuned lists for, and you’ll tend to have fewer models than your opponent. The units themselves are very much the best of the best, though, but pay a steep premium for that. There are a lot of ways to play ALEPH, but mostly you’re going to be relying on having flatly superior troops in smaller numbers. Each loss will be keenly felt, so mistakes can feel unforgiving, but a well-played ALEPH force will feel unstoppable.
PanO is a very straightforward shooting army– even its most basic line infantry compares with the mid-tier and elite troops of other factions when it comes to a straight gunfight. You have to get creative with objectives, though, because you have a relatively weak WIP army-wide and so may have to dedicate more resources to claiming objectives. That being said, as far as “guys what shoot dudes” go, PanO is up near the top, and has a pretty solid game elsewhere as well.
Yu Jing is a very well-balanced army, with a good blend of types of troops and a huge variety of playstyles. Of all the factions, they do HI, especially lots of HI, the best. I think it’s one of the best factions for a starting player, and is usually one of the ones I use for demo games. It also leaves a lot of room to grow– the higher-tier playstyles for Yu Jing take a lot of skill. You’ll feel what seems like lack of tech and tricks, but you can make up for it elsewhere.
Ariadna is a faction of low-tech tricks. It’s less about combos and more about refusing to meet your opponent head-on. Mostly your troops aren’t going to be quite as good as your opponent’s, but you’re going to have more of them and they’ll be good enough. Ariadna excels at playing multiple groups (in fact, it’s hard not to) and is good at catching your opponent off-guard. You mostly don’t want to get into straight firefights, as outside of a few units you’re likely to be outclassed. Camo and other tricks will win you the day here.
Nomads are like Ariadna with technology. You still largely don’t want to engage your opponent in a straight fight, but you have a lot of tricks to make sure that happens. These come with a cost, so you’re less likely to be running quite as many models as an Ariadna player, but you have access to some unparalleled infowar and some very effective troops who are quite good at ensuring you don’t fight a straight-up fight.
Haqqislam is a relatively low-tech faction that’s very middle-of-the-road in a lot of ways. An abundance of WIP 14 means Haqq specialists are excellent at whatever they try to do, particularly their doctors. Haqq has a great big fat middle, as it were, with an abundance of strong mid-tier troops. There are a number of interesting tricks that can be played within Haqq, and a lot of the power of Haqq comes from understanding special weapon types and special skills and knowing how to get Doctors where you need them. A careful balance of Regular and Irregular orders is a big part of Haqq.
The Combined Army is a pretty varied faction, from the Camo-heavy Shasvastii to the straightforward, stompy Morats. Like ALEPH, you’re going to keenly feel your losses, because your troops tend to be more expensive, but it’s less difficult to get work out of them because they tend to be more focused on a singular thing. This focus can be a problem when you find yourself trying to cram a square peg into a round hold, but you’ll often still be able to pull it off through brute force or sheer bloody-mindedness.
Tohaa is a faction of surprisingly durable troops (thanks to Symbiont Armor) who are otherwise fairly middle-of-the-road with a few stand-out exceptions, but that added durability makes troops that would be relatively simple and uninteresting in other factions into forces that can punch way above their weight class. To play them properly, however, you need to have a very solid understanding of linkteams and particularly the special Fireteam: Tohaa rule, as well as being careful to pay attention to how certain types of ammunition work (notably: Viral and Fire). They’re straightforward and strong, though, with some truly excellent troops.
In addition to the “Vanilla” factions, each faction also has a smaller subset of unit options called “Sectorials”. These are optional subsets of the main faction that offer a more limited troop selection (though they usually you to take more of each unit) and unlock a special rule that allows you to “link” troops together. Linkteams take low- to medium-end (and in some cases high-end) troops and put them together in a unit that acts as one, giving them significant bonuses at the cost of having to stay relatively close to one another. They balance out the more limited troop selection of sectorials and give you some neat flavor within each faction.
Without further ado, the sectorials (asterisks next to ones I haven’t personally played, take those blurbs with a grain of salt):
Steel Phalanx (SP, Greeks) is the single ALEPH sectorial, and has a very heavy focus on special characters. Your troop options for this sectorial are very limited and while it has outstanding troops, it can be somewhat predictable. That doesn’t preclude it from being extremely powerful though; just because your opponent can predict what’s coming doesn’t mean they can do anything about it. SP feels a lot like ALEPH minus the tricks, though do be careful to understand its special rules.
Neoterra (Neoterran Capitaline Army, NCA) is the fancy toys sectorial of PanO. It’s got basically all of the fancy high-tech stuff you might want to play, but has a relatively limited troop selection and relatively little variance in the ways you can effectively build it. There’s still enough meat there to have a lot of fun, though, and it really does have all of the fun toys. It’s also the closest PanO can get to a swarm list, with abundant Auxilia.
The Acontecimento Shock Army (ASA) is, in concept, the more punchy, more straightforward in-your-face side of the PanOceanian sectorials. It has access to some decent delivery systems for mostly closer-range troops, as well as droptroops and some loaner ALEPH infiltrators. That having been said, it has a VERY limited troop selection and doesn’t really have a strong mechanical identity compared to the other PanO sectorials. The core ‘interesting unit’ in the army is the Bagh Mari, which isn’t all that exciting, and the Regulars pay too much for special options, though they have some neat ones (Sensor). Not necessarily something I would recommend for a new player, unless you REALLY love the theme.
Military Orders (MO) is the PanO answer to Yu Jing’s heavy infantry. Lots of HI Knights and troop support for said knights. There are a bunch of interesting options here, but be aware that Knight units cost a lot of points, so focusing a list wholly on cool HI Knights is going to leave you relatively few points for anything else. That De Ferzen/Joan/Hospitaller link is pretty sweet, though, and you can even run it and still get a full 10 orders and specialists in your list.
Yu Jing Sectorials
The Japanese Sectorial Army (JSA) is one of the first things people think of when they think of Yu Jing, though it’s not representative of the faction as a whole. JSA is the faction of cheap troops, anime legends, and really interesting tools. It has some of the most varied listbuilding options of any sectorial in any faction, and has several very functional viable linkteam options, as well as a deceptively fast punch. No one troop defines JSA, but the big stand-outs are the Aragoto (the Hacker being arguably one of the best specialists in the game), the Haramaki (scary-powerful HI link at an obscenely low price), the Oniwaban-tier ninjas (Oniwaban, Shinobu, Saito Togan who, played well, can make your opponent legitimately fear TO Camo), and the Kempeitai, a cheap, easy to include Chain of Command unit that lets you get away with hilariously aggressive Lieutenants, hard to do elsewhere.
The Imperial Service (ISS) is the other side of the Yu Jing sectorial coin, and is more focused on the secret police/inquisition side of things. It’s probably the best faction at discovering Camo, with abundant MSV2 and Sensor options, allowing redundancy and smoke tricks, and can also run a nasty linkteam in the form of the Wu Ming, who are probably the best HI link in the game and might compete for best linkteam in the game for ITS. Relatively expensive specialists who don’t always have delivery systems are a problem for this faction– expect to bring in an ALEPH Sophotect and a Ninja Hacker if you want full specialist coverage.
The Merovingian Rapid Response Force (Merovingia, MRRF) is the higher-tech sectorial of Ariadna. They’ve got the money, they can buy/hire whoever they want. If you want hackers and/or TAGs in your Ariadna force, MRRF is the way to go. They also benefit from some strong linkteam options and increased AVA on some of the better troops in Ariadna, especially the Chasseur.
*The Caledonian Highlander Army (CHA, Scots) is the even-lower-tech sectorial for Ariadna. Lots of cheap troops and linkteams, and a decent chance you’re going to hugely outnumber your opponent. What you lack in focus or raw power you make up for in numbers and smoke. While your specialist options are limited, you have enough smoke grenades in the list to be able to deliver whatever you need. Get good with smoke if you want to play CHA, is what I’m saying, and MSV2 is going to be a serious problem for you.
*USAriadna is the newest Ariadna sectorial, and hasn’t seen enough playtime for me to boil it down to a pithy blurb. It’s a good middle ground between MRRF and CHA, and has a bunch of interesting, fun troops available to it. Decent linkteam options and the Ariadna signature Camo give it a solid footing, and motorcycles (esp. specialists) are awesome, ask any JSA player.
Corregidor Jurisdictional Command (Corregidor, CJC) is the brute force side of the Nomad army. It excels at solid, punchy troops and effective droptroops. There are some solid options for linkteams that will do a lot of work for you, and if you feel like playing Corregidor, looking for those links that you want to run is key. Nomads tend to be stronger and more versatile in Vanilla if you aren’t intending to run linkteams, but there are some options in Corregidor (even the humble Alguaciles) that make for solid options. If Mobile Brigada magically get a specialist option, Corregidor will be pretty nasty.
Bakunin Jurisdictional Command (Bakunin) is where the weirder Nomad stuff lives. Combat-ready battle priestesses, face-punchy HI Riot Grrls, and an abundance of infiltrating Camo (Zeros, Prowlers) as well as the various warband troops make Bakunin a strong if weird option. Lots of special rules here that you need to make the most of to succeed, though you can hit an enemy on a variety of unexpected fronts all at once with Bakunin. A solid hacking game, access to the best Doctor and Engineer in the game, some great infiltrating Camo, and other fun toys make Bakunin varied and interesting.
Hassassin Bahram (HB) is the sectorial for the Haqqislamite religious sect of assassins. They have elite, carefully trained troops who are good at specific tasks, supported by untrained militia and a small number of trained supporting troops. Each type of Hassassin has a relatively singular focus, and there are a couple of interesting linkteam options within this sectorial. Specialists are a little hard to come by, but can be effective, and good use of HB relies upon clever use of irregular troops and smart trades with your Impersonators. Leave your opponent on the ropes early and you can get a lot of work done, but beware of getting put on the back foot; it can be somewhat hard to recover.
Qapu Khalqi (QK) is a more mercenary side of Haqqislam. They have an abundance of interesting link options and can even run multiple links with Haris, and have access to a lot of mercenary troops. They also have cheap, interesting linkteam filler in the form of Hafza, who can blend into any linkteam in QK. Lots of fun options abound, but be aware that you still need to accomplish objectives, and linkteams can be a bit limited in that regard.
Combined Army Sectorials
*The Shasvastii Expeditionary Force (Shas, does anyone refer to them as the SEF?) is the sneaky, tricky side of the Combined Army. They sit somewhere in between Nomads and Ariadna in terms of playstyle, and in my opinion kind of suffer for it. Plenty of solid specialists abound, as does a lot of camo, but the troops are weirdly expensive and it leaves you without quite the trickiness of Nomads. Not a sectorial I would recommend for a new player, unless you really absolutely must play sneaky space bugs and for some reason disdain the rest of Combined. Sorry Shas players, but alongside ASA, this is a sectorial I don’t recommend (at the moment; it appears to be getting a revamp).
*The Morat Aggression Force (Morats, MAF) is the less subtle side of the Combined Army. You’re looking at straightforward and stompy here, and a lot of troops that want to do that thing. You’ve got some interesting linkteam choices and really just a lot of straightforward blasting. You can get outmaneuvered by a canny opponent, which is always a risk in Infinity, but you’ve got a lot of fun toys here for the unsubtle approach. Also, space Oni, who doesn’t love that?
Tohaa has no sectorials (yet!)
Hope this helps! If anyone is interested in Infinity, I’m happy to answer other questions
(Image credit: this thread — http://infinitytheforums.com/forum/topic/25308-3rd-edition-unit-logos-in-vector-format/ )