Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gencon Round up Part 2; Dust Warfare

For part 2 I'm going to talk soely about Fantasy Flights game, Dust Tactics and their newest release, Dust Warfare.

Dust Tactics is the board game version of Dust warfare. Or should I say, Dust Warfare is the table top version of Dust Tactics.  Since I hadn't played either I knew to get a proper view on the product I had to learn the board game.  As far as Fantasy Flight games are concerned, Dust Tactics is the simplest board game they have.  For those that have played Arkham Horror, we're talking shoots and ladders compared to axis and allies.

The game is similar in set up to games like Hordes, Warmachine and Malifaux in that your units have little reference cards with things such as their fire power, special abilities, movement, armor and wounds on them.  The game's simple mechanics are fire power 4 means you get four shots.  No charts or anything like that to reference. Movement 4 means you move 4 squares.  The dice used are unique to the game with 4 blank sides and 2 sides with target recitals on them.  Most attacks or saves rely on either rolling recitals or blanks. Typically when you're shooting you'll roll recitals and if you're in either hard or soft cover you'll need blanks or recitals respectively to save.  Simple as that.

The game steps up when you talk Tactics off the play mat and move it to the 3'x3' table.  The rules they had at Gencon for Warfare were beta rules and my friend and I could already see and poke holes in the rules so hopefully designer Andy Chambers can fix something and work a little harder to keep it away from being a dumbed down version of 40k.

The rules transfer exactly from Tactics to Warfare when it comes to shooting and combat, but there is an added challenge in the two phase you get.  In Tactics you just take turns back and forth until all units have moved and that's the turn.  In Warfare, you get a command phase and an Action phase.  The command phase is like a little jump where your troops act on the orders of the commander so get to do a little more.  Its like an Alpha strike that both players get, however the alpha strike is still there so whoever wins initiative in the command phase gets his one unit to alpha strike with.  Its not as bad as 40k where you get your whole army, but its still there.  You only get a certain number of units to act with during your command phase and the big advantage comes from you opponent not having the chance to have so many over watches activated.

Without going to much further into boring rules and play I'll just put in my review of the game.  I liked the game, enough to play it if there was a scene but not enough to start up a scene at my store.  The fact that the rules were still clunky, with vehicle rules being the most unrefined of all of them, makes me want to wait before I give this game the thumbs up or thumbs down.

Being able to transfer your board game to a table top game was pretty cool and the board game version was a great way to get people into the bigger (more expensive) table top version.  If there was a board game version of 40k (aside from space hulk) that was 70% less complicated than 40k I could use to introduce people to 40k I'd have all of my friends playing.  I really like that marketing strategy and think other table top games could take that lesson from Dust.

Another nice thing about the game is you can buy the minis unpainted or painted.  The price hike is a big jump but the quality is actually not that bad.  You pay about double for the painted stuff which for a squad is about $20 ($20 unpainted, $40 prepainted).  For the level of quality you'd pay a painter at least that amount to have your 5 guys painted up or your walker.  I think the sticker shock might hit some people but if you're not into painting, the option is actually a decent one.

Over all I think the game has great potential for people that like WWII stuff but don't feel like messing with Flames of War and want something different from the world wide tactics of Axis and Allies.  Hopefully they'll fix the few things, most the vehical rules, that we found were lacking and publish a nice game set.  I'd deffinitly give Dust your time just to see if it fits your play style and what you want in a game.


  1. Thanks for this run down. The transition almost reminds me of the space crusade to 40k transition (although that was quite a monumental rules leap). I have had my eyes on dust for a while and I must admit when warfare comes out I will be getting a copy.
    Thanks again for the info

  2. Hopefully Ost isn't gone too long this time. Bring some 40k back dude