What's so cool about it? iA is a pdf, which means you will view it on your computer using the Adobe Acrobat Reader, in this case version 5, 6 or 7. Acrobat Reader has the ability to run a subset of the Java programming language, which means the iArmy builder is not just a pdf, but a very sophisticated graphic and math engine. This gives you the ability to calculate card costs, manipulate images on-screen, and export the results as data you can save in any text or word processing program. Combine that with a tactical card game and a set of rules that allow something like 1012 possible combinations for each card, plus global abilities for your deck, and you can see why we call it Infinite Armies.
No more rares. iA includes a good selection of images and card skins to get you started, but part of the fun of the game is really customizing your deck. Any image that you can make into a pdf, you can import into your cards. Stuff you find online, stuff you scan from a book, or stuff you made yourself, if you are artistically inclined. If you can scrounge it up*, you can put it in your army. And if this is too much work, we will be selling "booster packs" of image sets on a particular theme, enough to build an entire army without using the same image twice. Plus, each image set will come with new skins and pre-constructed deck ideas.
A bit more detail In terms of game mechanics, you play on an imaginary grid that represents the battlefield. Half your territory, half your opponents (see the pic at the bottom of the page). You win by either destroying your foe's Staging Area, or running them out of cards by keeping units in their territory. The more powerful the unit, the faster your opponent's cards go away. When they're out of cards, they sue for peace. Game over.
iA has no "mana". Rather, you get a certain number of actions each turn, which can include collecting resource points, deploying units to your Staging Area by spending a card's cost, moving/making attacks or using special abilities. If you can't deploy a unit, spend an action to collect the resources you need to pay the cost! And, iA minimizes the luck of the draw. Your opening hand is exactly what you want. You start each battle with the forces you think will bring you victory. Of course, your opponent is doing the same, and only one of you will be right...
Units have abilites measured in icons and the quantity of them in four categories, plus a special ability, plus any bonus from a global ability for your army. Each icon has a strength and a weakness, and you compare them to the corresponding trait on the enemy unit (attack vs. defense, etc.). Hard? Not really, since the icons are rock, paper, scissors. If your attack is paper, and his defense is rock, you do damage. If your attack is paper, and his defense is scissors, you might want to reconsider. So, it is not just the icons, but the order in which they are used that makes up the attack and defense profiles of each unit in your army. Terrain that cannot be passed through can be used to channel enemy forces or provide strongpoints for your own, and optional rules can add even more depth to play.
In addition to the benefits of never having to buy cards again, iA has the ultimate in customizing flexibility. As long as your deck adds up to the right number of points, any card is legal. So, you can scribble one down at the last second and put it in if you want to try something new. Your army's visual theme is up to you. If you want to use iA for fantasy battles then build a pair of armies with art of mages and barbarians. It works for that as well as it does for deep space starship combats or Lovecraftian monsters. Or enrage your friends by abusing them with a deck of cutesy stuffed animals. To top it off, iA is not just a card game, it is a card game design engine. Since everything on the card can be customized, you can use the sophisticated routines embedded in the iArmy builder to create your own professional-looking cards for whatever idea you had for your own set of rules.
Sneak peekThe picture below shows what each player's side of the battlefield looks like. You have a Staging Area in the rear, a 3-card second rank, and a 5-card first rank.
You move and attack to adjacent cards, unless of course your unit has a special ability that allows longer range attacks or special movement. For instance, the unit on the right on the second rank is a "carrier", which can deploy smaller units like a mini Staging Area. The infantry and helicopter at the right side of the first rank have "combined arms", which allows them a more flexible offense or defense if attacking or defending against a unit that is adjacent to both of them. The face-down cards are placeholders. If you move onto your own face-down card, you draw it into your hand. If your opponent moves onto it, it goes into your discard pile. The card at the center of the front rank is an "urban" terrain. Only units with movement appropriate to this terrain can occupy that zone, though units with the "engineer" ability can loan their movement to adjacent units to help move them into terrains they could not otherwise traverse. It's a simple set of rules and a handful of special abilities, but the combinations and strategies will keep you busy for a long time...
The good, the bad and the uglyiA is a great game. Won an Origins Award, even. But, no one to date has succeeded with a downloadable card game of this type. Some of them have appeared and gone away and you never even knew they existed in the first place. The people who like to play CCG's or other customizable card games apparently prefer "real” cards, no matter that you can put any art you want on your iA deck, and that once printed you can put them in a box and reuse them like any other card. So, iA is another one of those great ideas that didn't pan out. It was a commercial failure and there is no iA community out there playing, talking about and tweaking the game. If you buy iA, BTRC will support it and answer any questions you might have, but you'll have to be the one to convince your friends to play.
The cost?iA can be bought here or from our online vendors. The basic game is enough for you and a friend to get started with pre-designed, customizable decks and a starter set of alternate card images, and costs US$10.00. There are two expansion sets composed of 100+ formatted and optimized images of modern military hardware, along with custom card backdrops, and each of these is US$3.00.
infinite Armies v1.1 (US$10.00)
infinite Armies image set 2 (US military)(US$3.00)
infinite Armies image set 3 (terrorists and irregulars)(US$3.00)
*If you can scrounge it up and are allowed to copy it for personal use. We're selling intellectual property here, we don't go for copyright violation. Besides, there is enough high-res, copyright-free stuff on the variuous .mil sites to fill several thousand iArmies decks.
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