Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dust Warfare first impressions

Dust Warfare is a new rule set released by Fantasy Flight Games, putting their boardgame Dust Tactics on a tabletop. Designed by Andy Chambers and Mack Martin and edited by Alessio Cavatore and Alex Davey set in Paolo Parente's alternative ww2 universe, where the Axis discovered an alien spacecraft in Antarctica and learned their technology. They found new mineral called VK that is almost an unlimited source of power allowing them to build huge walking tanks and wide variety of weponry. Soon after Allies captures a german tank and technology spreads. This is a world where war still wages and in 1947 90% of Earth's nations have ultimately come to be unified under one of the three major powers: Axis, Allies and SSU (russians and china) and the whole economies and societies are geared toward war.

I must say that having read Paolo Parente's comics I realy like the setting, a desperate world where every child knows that someday he will be fighting on the front. Where people become heroes. Axis rising dead and geneticaly modyfied gorillas roams the land. It gives the game a cinematic feel.

The miniatures doesn't dissapoint. They are not hard plastic so a little bit bendy but nicely detailed, some figures have wierd poses like they were about to trip over something but all in all they look good. Vehicles are hard plastic and most of them are nice design, like german stuff, but I am not a fan of allied tanks and I think that russian choppers look like kid's toy. All primed in faction's colour and ready to play out of the box, that's what I like because I am a lazy bastard... I will paint them some day.

Rules in my opinion got couple of issues, there is a longwinded discussion about them on FFG's forum. They rewriten them 3 weeks before release, guess they didn't liked Andy's work for some reason.
What I don't like is that they used bits and bobs from Tactics but the core mechanic is a new design, makes it abstract (like a boardgame) and unrealistic and what hurts the most not compatible with Tactics unit cards, thankfully community started to design their own cards. The editing of rulebook doesn't help here either, rules about units, weapons and skills are in 3 different places so there was a lot of page flipping and mistakes on my part, I didn't know for example that artillery were reload weapons, there was no indication of it in the unit description, I found it later in weapon description, it would be a lot easier if everything was in one place.

Another thing that was taken from Tactics is weapon charts. Those were designed to determine how many dice you'll throw based on what weapon you are using and who you are shooting , but they added additional armor roll maybe to give units a bit more longevity, tactics was preety bloody game and soldiers died fast, but it feels now clunky and it's preety broken whey you'll consider a tank armor 7 will now have additionaly to the chart that takes armour into consideration another 7 armor save rolls, but no armor saves from the rear arch, too much randomness and not a good feature for DW which supposedly was designed with turnament play in mind, I liked DT version better. They also changed how cover works and its now a constant modifier. It might look like a good idea from tactical point of view, because you got more information about the situation on the table, but DW should be at least 25% covered with terrain, giving a lot of opportunities to hide though rendering weaker (cheaper) or weekened units useless, 'cause it's not possible (or hard) for them to penetrate through cover. There is some typos in the rulebook as well, not a good point considering it's a book after all.

Dividing turn into 2 phases is an interesting idea with added reactions but because it is legal to premeassure, reactions probably will be rare and are limited to just 12'' radius, weapon ranges are short too, only 16'' but that might actualy be a good thing, forcing people to try better manouvers and utilisation of cover. It is still You go I go, and for larger battles I think it might be less involving than tactics alternative activation.

In defence I must say that it works somehow when adding all little rules and rule exceptions together preety well, and you forget about little problems when start playing. What it needs is just to learn how it works and maybe some house rules or erata and it will be good, hoping FFG will balance it right when more playtesting will be done, so fingers crossed for Dust Warfare future and hopefully it will be supported by the producer.
Definitely needs more playing to review it properly, I think its got a potential to become something good.

It is not what I thought it will be, a more complex ruleset, instead its another beer and pretzels game like Tactics is, just a little bit improved and fun to play.

I would like to thank Steve for bringing his stunning terrain, and congratulate Neil for his victory, being first game there was a lot of mistakes we've done for which I am sorry but I hope you've enjoyed your evening, and will give Dust another go some time in the future.

A quick story that happened on 27th of may.

Deployment: I think it's important to learn each units role, because the units works like rock paper scisors, so here we've got Gorillas with Marcus (fast close combat unit, immune to suppression) on the left flank (top of the table) followed by heavy lasers (good anti tank when sustain fired) and German light walker (versatile unit with aditional artillery abillities), against allied snipers in the watch tower (good for suppressing and killing off power armours in hard cover due to ignoring cover/armor), two allied tanks and Hammers and Rino(just like gorillas), allied power armor units ready for action in the middle of the table waiting to smash anything with their rocket punches. The rest of the axis force is out of frame near the watch tower including deadly Nebelwerfers and observers that wiped almost half of everything they've seen, and twin 8.8's anti tank that had a firefight with allied pounder. There was also squad of bazooka guys with hot chick on allied side that stayed behind the hill almost till the end of the game and allied command squads on the middle of the board that could possibly cause a lot of trouble for axis with their Fire for effect artillery order but unfortunately were wiped out by nebelwerfer barrage early in the game, yeah, trees doesn't block line of sight so I probalby should put more terrain blocking LOS on the table or scrap both artillery tanks. Axis command were under fire too but they managed to survive a bit longer.

Axis assault on the left flank was preety much stopped, and the light tank didn't even cross the river, Allied sniper in the tower must have been drunk because he couldn't hit anyone and the gorillas were closing at a lightning speed.

 Unfortunately they didn't expect to be treeted with napalm and shotguns and BBQ boys had their moment of triumph grilling monkeys before they noticed they went straight in front of enemys artillery line of fire, oh well, bound to be few cassualties. Allied tank took heavy damage and won't last much longer.

Seeing this Tank buster unit decided to take its revange and get the axis artillery walker but they were too far.

Hammers and Rino equipped with devastating rocket punches jumped above the building to atack german positions as well but they were ambushed by a unit of heavy recon grenadiers with their twin linked MG44's shreading them to pieces.
Meenwhile hot chic and her squad which were sitting behind a hill finaly decided to fight but a little bit too late, they now were facing the same fate as their friends a minute before. Allied Sniper finally killed one of the heavy lasers that were dragging behind, give him a medal.
Tank busters finaly got to the Nebelwerfers and blow it up in one go, if only they were faster...

Axis won this battle but the war is still on !!!

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