Operation: Wildfire is the latest in Corvus Belli’s 2-player starter sets for the Infinity miniature skirmish game, that bundle together 2 faction starter packs, along with a figure for each faction exclusive to the set, some simple yet effective cardboard terrain plus paper battlemat, 6 custom 20-sided dice and a starter rulebook that provides a stripped down set of the Infinity rules and a smattering of background material.
Previous Operation:______ sets have pitted combinations of the various Human factions from Infinity against one another (Pan-Oceania vs Nomads in Operation: Icestorm, Haqqislam vs Yu-Jing in Operation: Red Veil, and Aleph vs Ariadna in Operation: Coldfront), providing players with a broadly equal starting point of 6 models from the starter set then an extra model for each force exclusive to the box. Wildfire however represents a number of firsts for the Operations, being the first appearance of troops drawn directly from O-12, the organisation that is the ultimate arbiter of the Human Sphere’s powers (the space UN effectively), the first time the Combined army, the main “villains” of Infinity, have been a factor in one of these boxes in the form of the Shasvastii Expeditionary Force, and the first showing for Corvus Bellis improved card scenery.
Now Corvus Belli have made a name for themselves by sticking to metal as the preferred medium in which they cast some of the finest & most beautiful models in the modern gaming industry. And the contents of Wildfire are no exception. In fact they showcase a number of improvements CB have made to how models go together. Little things like minimising parts and increasing contact points. As to the sculpts themselves, the O-12 range brings the peacekeeping force to the table fully formed. Let’s break it down (and I’ll offer some tactical suggestions for how they play as we go):
Kappa Unit – the factions standard Line Infantry, you get three of these all armed with the basic Combi-rifle, and the sculpts & posing are fairly generic. They are seek however, and bonus points for including a pair of female troopers, as well as the way the trooper with their pistol drawn is designed so that the arms & shoulders are one piece that slots into place.
Epsilon Unit – in this instance long-range fire support, equipped with a Multi-Sniper Rifle that gives you a few choices of ammo types to play with. Nothing too fancy in terms of posing, as it was literally 2 pieces (the main body and the arm holding the rifle), but it does have some swagger to it. Plus the tactical pouches are cool, and the helmet gives off a real Halo/Master Chief vibe.
Delta Unit – special operators, the Delta unit is both a drop trooper and, in this instance, a Hacker to give your force at least one Specialist out of the box. The wings on the jump pack I worried could be an issue going off of past form from CB, but the whole thing went together very nicely. I didn’t even mind the tactical rock that connects the model to the base...
Gangbuster – possibly my favourite sculpt? The Gangbuster is an infiltrating undercover operative whose combo of cornrows, sunglasses, bear arms and a chunky Boarding Shotgun, all in a crouching pose as if he’s waiting in ambush is just “mwah” and sets him apart from the rest of the team.
Gamma Unit – O-12’d bonus miniature from Wildfire, the Gamma is a big, beefy Super-Heavy Infantry armed with a Feurbach – a heavy rifle that fires explosive ammo. A hulking slab the sculpt is refreshing for how you can see how it’s been designed to take into account where the wearers limbs would actually end up.
Onto the (completely redesigned) Shasvastii. They have some neat fluff where they are one fragment of an extra-galactic species whose home galaxy collided with another. To escape this cataclysm they sent out immense ark ships to ensure their races chances of survival. One such ark was found by forces under the control of the Evolved Intelligence, and the Shasvastii aboard willingly joined the forces of the Combined Army, with a speciality in infiltration, sabotage, and terror operations:
Nox – your line troops. Like O-12 you get three, all armed with Combi-rifles. A significant upgrade over their prior incarnations, but someone pointed out online that they do rather resemble Mass Effects Turians somewhat. So given I was trying to paint my Combined Army models in as heroic a fashion as possible –to down play the inherently sinister sculpting – I now know how I’m going to be painting these guys. One additional note, most of the Shasvastii in this set come with a sprue of kneepad armour. Not all require both pieces, but it’s a neat touch to enable some more interesting sculpts.
Mentor – a nice, simple, stoic pose for a model that can fill some crucial support roles, the Boarding Shotgun it comes with being the armament for three of the five profiles currently available, one of which offers a Hacker option whilst one is a Lieutenant. Useful when tied with Ambush Camo for keeping your Lieutenant out of harms way….
Caliban – a real toolbox of a terror troop (no really, the full unit name is Sabotage & Destruction Unit Caliban, not exactly subtle) the sculpt is just full of character and menace. And refreshingly the spines on the back are actually sculpted into pieces of the torso, and not separate. Rules wise it’s a bit of a beast, and one of the few units in the game with the Protheion ability, that lets you munch on opposing units and give the Caliban extra wounds.
The Shrouded – befitting their role as the Shasvastii Pioneer Corps the Shrouded is all about setting up ambushes and getting places it really shouldn’t. And the mini has a nice stealthy feel to it, and is simple build that is literally the torso and the arms
Gwailo – the Shasvastii exclusive to this set, and a real brute of a Heavy infantry. Has a real presence and a plethora of rules to enhance it’s survivability.
An additional bonus to keep an eye out for is a label in one corner of the box. This should mean that it is stock from the pre-order where – as is Corvus Bellis habit – an exclusive model was included to reward early adopters. In the case of Operation: Wildfire, the model is of Hippolyta, a recreation of the legendary Amazonian queen who now serves not only as one of the leaders of the Aleph AI’s elite Assault Sub-Section alongside Achilles & Hector, but also as a liaison to O-12. In terms of Wildfire this means she plays a role in one of the scenarios included in the rulebook. The sculpt though is superb, depicting Hippolyta leaping into the fray, and it built very smoothly. My biggest concerns were the cloak/backpack piece, which has a lot of mass to it but some cross-hatching with a knife on the main contact points gave the glue something to bite into. Once the glue had set it has been pleasingly stable. In game terms Hippolyta is a real threat that will have your opponent sweating with a toolbox of offensive & defensive gear whilst she approaches, but if she gets amongst their lines and into melee combat she can just munch through most units in the game. As part of O-12 she provides options the faction just does not have, whilst in any Aleph force – vanilla or the Assault Sub-Section – she presents an additional threat that can serve as a good backup to monsters like Achilles or Hector, or can serve as a budget version of them to allow more points to go on other units.
And we need to talk about the scenery. Technically the Salvora Governmental Complex Scenery Pack that is available separately, the pack allows you to build four buildings of various sizes, a smattering of scatter terrain to help provide cover and block line of site, a playmat to game on and a small selection of the tokens and templates needed to play the game. And new for this set is a card stock some 2-3 times thicker than what Corvus Belli has used in previous terrain sets (which are still perfectly good!). The scenery is nice & chunky, and a few of these packs will provide you more than enough scenery for a moderate sized game. The building walls are double sided as well, so you can reduce the look of buildings being duplicated (it also scales really well with the card terrain from Battle Systems…).
One last quality of life improvement to mention is the bases: all the bases in this pack are Corvus Bellis new design that incorporates facing & firing arc indicators around the rim of the base. Given how important these two things are to playing Infinity, a most welcome addition.
Oh, and you get two sets of three 20-sided dice. One set marked on 20 with the symbol of O-12 and the other set marked with the logo of the Shasvastii.
The rulebook is a refinement of the getting started/scenario booklets that are packed into all of CB’s larger boxsets, and carry on the tradition of easing players into the world and rules of Infinity, with each scenario adding models and rules so as not to overwhelm things. Infinity is a game with a frankly dizzying array of rules, which even veteran players can forget if it’s one that does not come into play very often. But this complexity rewards you with a game that is incredibly cinematic, and one of the more collaborative you will find as the Active Reaction Order system means the actions you take in your turn are arguably less important than setting up reactions to what your opponent could do in theirs.
The narrative of the Wildfire scenarios is also quite compelling, as an O-12 security team defend their outpost from a Shasvastii infiltration unit that have gotten further into the Human Sphere than anyone expected.
The booklet also offers some quite good painting guides for the two forces line troopers, a bit of fluff, where to go next in terms of expanding the forces and the various rulebooks currently available. It’s also presented in both Spanish and English, which is a nice touch.
Overall then I cannot recommend Operation: Wildfire more highly. If you just want a painting project then you get 14 (possibly 15) of the nicest miniatures on the market today. If you and a friend have been debating giving the game a go then going halves and splitting the contents still makes it affordable.
Some important links though:
Infinity Downloads (yes, you can download the entirety of the full rules, for FREE)