Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Games that currently intrigue me: Dust Warfare

     
       

It's finally here!!!
Right, this article is sort of out of sync with the others in the series I've been planning. My aim was to do Dark Age next and then Dust Warfare... but SinSynn whinged, so as he'd say 'waddayagonnado'? Turns out bring the Dust Warfare article forward by a month or so and push Dark Age back a bit (sorry to all those of you who have asked me to cover Dark Age)! Just to be clear from the outset this article is NOT a review of Dust Warfare the game or rulebook, it's just my initial thoughts on things so please don't tell me I can't review a game on only one play through, I'm more than aware of that fact and that's not what I'm doing. So chill.

Dust Warfare is yet another game I guess that I've already sort of brought into, not directly mind you. More vicariously in the shape of Dust Tactics, the skirmish based board game that I own, and reviewed a few months back now. In it I discuss how I felt the game looked kind of strange to me on the board. Although I didn't think the game was bad per se, I didn't think the first edition starter set that I had was a very good introduction at all. I also felt that the game would have been just better accepting that it needed to be a wargame, instead of some weird board / wargame hybrid. So I did do a little dance and smiled when I saw that Fantasy Flight Games were releasing Dust Warfare finally. I actually think the profile cards for Dust Tactics actually have a lot of scope for variance and character, it's just that's not going to be fully realised on a board... the game has also been designed by Andy Chambers. He's sort of a personal hero of mine too.

Painted up the miniatures looks as good as anyone's

Company: Really? You need me to tell you who Fantasy Flight Games are? Where have you been for the last decade or so? OK, here goes. Fantasy Flight Games are based in Minnesota USA. They were founded in 1995 and have since gone on to become one of the biggest names in Board Games, RPGs and Card games. They have an increasingly impressive roster of games and have produced some highly popular games based off of Games Workshops IP, and continue in this Blogger's opinion to make better, more inventive use of said IP. They also have many other license agreements with other household name brands... well household names for geeks like me, such as Game of Thrones, Arkham Horror, Gears of War although the biggy they own, Star Wars, should be a household name for everyone. So seeing them make a move into wargames proper is a pretty big deal... well I think it is!!!

I think visually as a wargame it works better that Dust Tactics

If you already own Tactics it's going to be cheap.
Starting cost: Hmm... who knows is about the best I can say at this particular moment in time. Maelstrom Games have the Core Rulebook up for order at £28.79, as do Firestorm Games and OG Games have it for sale at £26.99. The other worthwhile thing noting is that because Dust Tactics has been out for quite a while now there are actually already a sizable chunk of miniatures already out for the first two factions the Axis and Allies. The prices seem to range from around £11 for a 5 man squad via £17 for a medium walker with variants, all the way up to £28 for one of the Heavy Walkers, which is a really big miniature. It's also worth noting that these miniatures come pre-assembled and primed, so there's a saving there too I guess, but otherwise I'd say they relatively comparable to Games Workshop plastics in price. What's an average army though? Well I've heard talk of 300 to 400 points, which is around 2 platoons worth of troops with supports. That's likely to set you back around about £150 to £200 by my calculation. Although owning the first edition boxed set of Dust Tactic like I do means I already own roughly 150 points and a first platoon for each of the Axis and Allies. It's not cheap by any means, but I guess it's not butt clenchingly expensive either. Plus you are buying in to two separate game systems... if you keep telling yourself that you might even start to believe it!

Game: Now obviously Fantasy Flight Games has produced one of their usually high quality videos explaining the basics pretty well, and oh look here it is!



Obviously though this is me we're talking about, and I've quite obviously already given the game the once over courtesy of my good friend The Cursed, who has brought the Dust Warfare rulebook. Obviously I won, and The Cursed's dire luck with dice continues. It wasn't as smooth a game as I'm sure it could've been and I'm sure we probably got some things hideously wrong, as you normally do in the first game of anything you play, but it wasn't that bad you know. I think there was probably a little too much scenery on the board and we could've done with some hills and tree's and stuff rather than the blasted out 40k scenery we had to hand. The game we had though did show us the skeleton of the core mechanics, which are relatively easy to follow and produce a nice quick game. I have my concerns, which I'll no doubt discuss at length, but my first concern is why the hell Fantasy Flight Games haven't provided people with free downloadable set of quickstart rules... honestly when will these people people learn? Getting geeks to try your blasted product is 90% of the task of selling done!!!

Any way enough of my whinging. The way you build a force in Dust Warfare seems interesting at first glance, but I haven't spent an inordinately long period of time list building yet and trying to get bent lists. The first thing I've noticed about the platoon structure is that thank the lord it appears to have eliminated the 'spam' issue that so plagues certain other grimdark products. Each Platoon has a number of 'slots' you can fill with units, they just can't all be death ray wielding soldiers of doom. I do though get the feeling that although the platoon structures are indeed meant to force you to take balanced forces, and a bit of everything that there is good scope for optimisation and being a total stats geek about things. In short I can see there being 'optimum lists'. It's also worth noting that units do still cost you points though and games of Dust Warfare do have points ranges. I'm not too sure what the actual average points level will be for a game of Dust Warfare, but looking at what I might want to field in a game myself personally, I'd be happy to play games between the 300 to 500 point range. 500 points being a pretty large game by the way.

My commander's an idiot, why did he put me here?

Moving on to the mission set up was quite interesting as I've got a bug bear with how most games organise missions... I'm cautiously optimistic about the Dust Warfare approach to it all. The mission set up actually has a good number of variables, and to change them you have to spend your set up points on them. You could just have a gentleman's agreement about what sort of game you want to play, but Andy Chambers has come up with this nifty little system and it'd be rude not to use it! It covers victory conditions and set up amongst other things and both sides only get two points to influence proceedings. I quite liked this aspect of the game and I can see it working well at Tournaments. We ended up playing a game with Normal Visibility with an Eliminate the Enemy objective and Close Engagement set up. After we'd rolled for who got to set up first and table edge we went for initiative. Here's the first note of caution I'd sound about Dust Warfare for me (there will be others), initiative is massively important and very random. You take a number of dice equal to your units on the board and roll them for initiative. We both had 5 units and rolled our 5 dice each to see who went first...

Oh my. What a big turret you have...

You're looking to see who gets the least hits on the special Dust Dice. Now as I got the most hits that meant I got to go second, while The Cursed went first. It's not a major bonus to go first in the first turn or so I'd guess, but later in the game it will be. You see initiative means you're going first in both the Command and Unit Phases of the game. It seems almost like a double penalty to the poor schmuck who actually rolls the most hits. Now I guess this mechanic is there to try and keep games balanced and close throughout proceedings, as it invariably means that the side with the least units on the board will be going first and will get the opportunity to redress the balance. There are a number of problems though, firstly in the early exchanges we were evenly matched and it was therefore down to blind luck as to who got the initiative when the lines eventually got close enough to each other to deal damage. Obviously I won the crucial initiative roll and I felt really sorry for my opponent as there was little he could do to stop me butchering units he'd placed carefully... why? Because the much vaunted react mechanic isn't at all like Infinity's ARO's!!! In Infinity if you see the order being performed, you can react regardless of range. Not so in Dust Warfare.

...all the better to shoot round corners with. COWARD!!!

There is a 12" limit on reactions and to be brutally honest that's not far enough when you can pre-measure and your opponents weapons have a range greater than 12", oh say like 16" or more. Yeah I abused the pre-measuring and yeah I abused the weapons range to obliterate the first two units. From that point forward, regardless of whether or not my opponent got the initiative he was struggling to get back into the game. At the start of the game the forces were shockingly similar in performance, but one medium walker down, his second walker damaged, plus his devastating close quarters BBQ unit gone he was forced to go very defensive. That meant that when on 5 dice I rolled 2 hits to his highly unlucky 3 hits for initiative, he was screwed. True that was highly unlikely to have happened, but because the games mechanics leave it down to chance it's certainly a possibility for sure. The second issue I have with initiative is that it is SO powerful in the game. Seriously going first in Command AND Unit Phases with everything in your army and being able to pre-measure just seems very unfair to me and I have to admit... open to abuse.

Well two can play at that overly defensive and boring grind of a game!!!

Which is my third issue with the way the initiative roll works. I've only had a quick scan of the various units in the game. However, even I'm not dumb enough to notice that there are some highly effective units in this game that cost a bit more than your bog standard units. What's the problem you ask? Well I can see people taking the more expensive hitty things and keeping the number of units they have on the table at the start to a minimum. Why? Because when the two lines close on each other they'll more than likely have the initiative over horde armies and more balanced lists and will get the first round of shooting off and deal enough damage to probably put there opponent at a double disadvantage. Even if they don't, suppression markers will mean they're hunkering down and will probably struggle to get shots off themselves. The problem is that initiative allowing you to move all your forces first is just too powerful at points. If it was alternating activations I could see it working out fine. But it's not. So when the lines eventually clash there's going to be some games that are very likely to be decided on this highly crucial initiative roll... I'd like to see it's importance mitigated somewhat.

And now the end is near, and so I face the final barrage!!!

The thing is I'm not going to judge Dust Warfare on this single, solitary game, simply because the forces we took were highly similar in performance and we set the board up badly. There's also the fact that judging the game on one game would be highly unfair, and I'd like to have at least played a few more games before committing to a judgement on it all. However, what I will say is that it's not as perfect as the world wide web would have you believe it is. True it is actually a really enjoyable fast fluid game, with plenty of strategic scope... it's just not the second coming or anything like that. The other thing that they need to sort out is the profiles of the various weapons and vehicles. The rules for many of which, are in 3 different places. For instance the weapons statline is normally with the unit section. You then have to look in the weapon rules to see if that weapon or unit has special rules attached to it, and if it does you then have to look up that specific special rule... COME ON!!! The other thing I'd like to see is some Dust Dice that actually bloody roll, the current sharp edged square dice that I have have a tendancy to slide. Personally I'm tempted to play the game with standard D6's having 1's and 6's as hits.I still But just to be clear, despite my whining, it was still fun to play.

I love the Sherman tank look of the Allies walkers.
Miniatures: I think it's fair to say that the walkers for both the Axis and Allies forces are simply gorgeous looking. I really can't emphasise enough just how truly splendid they are. They each have so much Weird War II detail crammed into them, and Paolo Parente's designs just ooze character. I'm still not too sure after all this time whether I prefer the Axis or the Allies walkers, I really just don't know. I suppose I should just sit on the fence and say they're all splendid, plus we've got the Sino-Soviet Union stuff just coming out now. The highlight of which, is undoubtedly the Helicopters for me, all variants look a bit special and loads of fun, although if I had to pick it'd be the attack helicopter. If there are any miniature that are going to let the game down anywhere it's going to be amongst the troops. To be clear the majority of the troopers look absolutely fine and some of them actually look brilliant, but there are the odd duffers in amongst them, but on the whole it's a pretty darn sexy range of miniatures in my opinion.

The Axis walkers do look pretty awesome as well.

Background: As with most Weird War II back stories the background is based around some fantastical break with our own timeline. I haven't really read enough to be able to tell you exactly where that break occurs in the Dust back story, but I can tell you briefly how it differs. For starters I can tell you that WWII is still raging in the Dust Warfare back story in 1947, two years after it actually ended. Secondly I can tell you that most of the technology in the game is derived from some alien source found by the Axis powers at some point during the war. There's also some rare fuel everyone is fighting over to power these things called VK. Apparently Hitler was assassinated and the Nazi Party thrown out, so the Axis powers aren't all that evil anymore apparently... but they still have zombies and mind controlled psychopathic gorillas... so they can't be the good guys either methinks. Look, do you really need any more excuses to play with WWII walkers and alien powered laser guns in a Weird War II setting? I don't.

Pro's:

+ It's Fantasy Flight Games, and they're unlikely to go under anytime soon.
+ It's already got a fairly large range of miniatures ready to rock and roll.
+ As a product Dust already has a pretty large and fervent following from Dust Tactics and indeed the comics.
+ Some  of the miniatures (walkers) are really, really good.
+ The games are actually quite slick, Ive not played enough of it to know if it works as well as it could, but so far I've not descended into any nerdrages with it.
+ It's two games in one... sort of!!!
+ The miniatures come pre-primed and pre-assembled.

Con's:

- It's not quite as expansive of quick as I'd like, and I feel that unless I was missing some vital rules certain aspects don't make a great deal of sense.
- There's currently only two factions, sure the SSU will be out soon but what's next? The Japanese? Then is that it? Are four factions enough to keep gamers happy and interested long-term?
- It's at a scale and size that will put it head to head with HoMachine, Warpath and the big boy in gaming, Warhammer 40,000. Can it entice enough people away from their poison of choice?
- Not all the infantry miniatures are brilliant, and there are the odd duffer in the range.
- Is this the focus for the Dust universe is it Tactics? Potentially the two games could get in each others way and step on each others toes.

I'm a bit keen on Dust Warfare from a miniatures point of view if I have to be honest, you see it might actually give me a game to use those really nice heavy walker tanks in that I got in my Dust Tactics box set. That's got to be the biggest plus for me, the fact that I love the mini's and I have in effect got two decent sized starter forces to play with already. So if you're like me sitting on a fair old collection of Dust Tactics stuff why wouldn't you give it a blast? There are a lot of people out there right now with Dust Tactics armies who are ready willing and able to play games of Dust Warfare. That's the genius of it you see, Fantasy Flight Games don't just have a ready made product line to wheel out, they've also got a ready made player base. For a mere £27 I'm suddenly a Dust Warfare player too. I still have a few reservations about certain play mechanics, and the book could be a lot easier to bloody navigate but it's not a bad starting point, and it's an interesting first step into wargames for the Minnesota based firm. In short, for now... you can count me in. Peace out!

36 comments:

  1. just thought i'd mention that i agree with you on one crucial point. i was going to look into this game until i saw that i'd have to buy a rulebook first.

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    1. Have you played a game of it Atreides? I'll be interested to hear what other people think of it. But for me the dumbest thing any company does is not letting punters tr before they buy. It's just not a wise move.

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  2. It's beautiful, easy, fun and very low on time consumption (no models to paint).

    The crack about not trying before you buy is kinda baloney (at least as a USA resident). The tabletop version, Dust Tactics, was demoed extensively for well over a year with many chances to win it free (at least here in the states). I know we had tons of people play it free- some even played tournaments with the little demo kit.

    As far as quick start rules, I'd wager strongly to say you don't really need them because the rules are pretty easy; but I base that on having played AT-43 and Dust Tactics a lot.

    Navigation of the rulebook has always been an issue for FF. I don't know where they learned design, but they put things in the WEIRDEST places.

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    1. Yeah, but Dust Tactics works very, very differently to Dust Warfare. The mechanics of the two are fundamentally different and Andy Chambers has added a lot of special rules to the game. There's actually very little mechanical cross over. The rules for Dust Warfare are actually quite layered and I do think it needs platesting before you buy into it. In the UK I've not once seen Dust Tactics being demo'ed either.

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  3. Love the art and models.
    Hate the rules.
    Random turn sequences, determined by dice, is something I never approve of in my games.

    Rules > art & fluff/models

    Ah, well, plenty o' other games out there, and some of those check all of the boxes (Rules/Art & fluff/Models), not just one or two.

    I never understand deliberately adding 'random' to tactical/strategic games.
    Seriously....I just. don't. get. it.
    -_-

    P.S.- Oh, sure....I whined.
    :P

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    1. The rules aren't bad SinSynn, they're just not perfect. Not many games are. True I have a few concerns about the initiative phase and how that'll shake out. I'm being cautious whereas lots of other people want to proclaim it's the second coming. It's a solid game, that is fun to play... but I'm not getting sucked in by the hype... just yet.

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  4. Sigh...I watched the video.
    Wow...some of the models are really lovely.
    I haz sad now.

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    1. Yep some of the mini's are gorgeous.

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  5. Mack Martin was at Adepticon constantly running demo games. He isn't just a "games designer," he was responsible for about half the game along with Andy Chambers. I was extremely impressed with the game, and had I not nuked most of my spending money already I would definitely have purchased a rulebook just so he could sign it.

    The game is a lot of fun. SinSynn makes a comment about "random turn sequence," actually it's a bit more complicated than that. The game is designed so that players who are doing worse (ie have lost more units) have a chance of going first and getting an advantage. It's a mechanic designed to ensure that the games stay close, and frankly I enjoyed it a lot. The models are pretty good, and I thought the rules were tight and easy to understand.

    I sincerely recommend giving it a shot.

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    1. Yeah that's the reason for the design mechanic but it's not necessarily how it works out and you and I know it. The unfortunate truth is that once lines are at engagement point then that turns initiative roll is going to be very, very vital. If you have an equal amount of units at the start, fair play it's down to the luck of the dice. If you have less units because you've gone for more expensive and effective units those fewer dice (even though you have the same amount of points on the table) swing the advantage in your favour. Look at the army lists, look at the cost of units and tell me if it won't lead to certain builds being very powerful.

      It's an awful fudge that's about trying to artificially keep games close, a laudable aim and one I'd fully support. Just not with this mechanic!!! It's open to list building abuse and I'm sure it'll be one of the things experienced gamers will wade into right off of the bat. I'm still planning on playing the game because it is fun, I'm just personally been open and honest about it's clear faults, and it does have some, which if I was reading commentary on some sites I would get.

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    2. I understand the intention of the rule, i.e.- allowing the person w/less units to have a better chance of going first that round.

      My problem is that it'll be DICE that determine that.
      Dice are random.
      'Whoops- I rolled a buncha hits, and you didn't. You go first this turn. My plans are foiled.'

      Womp-womp.

      Not for me, thanks.

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    3. That's what happened in my game with the Cursed SinSynn. We both positioned our lines carefully and they were close enough to start threatening each other. Whoever had the initiative that turn was going to dent their opponent something mean. The Cursed rolled 2 hits on five dice... pretty average and I rolled 1 hit on 5 dice... again pretty average. He took pot shots at the two medium Walkers I had in good positions and they pinged. In my Unit phase I obliterated his Hot Dog Walker took out his BBQ boys and placed damage on his other medium walker the Pounder.

      He was reeling badly after one turn, but IF he had initiative the next turn he'd have taken out my Laser Grenadiers and probably my Ludwig Walker. As it was I got initiative as He rolled 3 hits on 3 dice for his initiative roll and I rolled 2. He dented Ludwig in the Command phase and managed to put a suppression marker on the Laser Grenadiers. I blew apart Pounder and started ripping the rest of his army apart in that next turn. It then didn't matter who had the initiative after that he was done for. No Walkers to my two. Two badly wounded and suppressed units to my 3 units that had taken no damage and weren't suppressed. The whole premise and balance of that game, for me swung on those two initiative rolls, and my opponent was unlucky to lose them both. My question therefore is this... can you build compact butt kicking armies to abuse this initiative phase... or the other idea I've had, construct a huge horde army with lots of Command phase cheerleaders and some big heavy tanks to deal out death in a phase your opponent can do nothing about it?

      I'll be building lists to see.

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    4. Pretty sure all mini games are somewhat open to abuses within the system.
      ;)
      I'm wondering if Deathstar builds might not be amusing in this case, but I'd hafta see how the list building works.
      Sigh.
      Since yer a terrible influence, and I'm curious, I went to FF to check it out.
      What an awful website. Dust should have it's own site, first of all. I mean really, promote the game.
      Then I couldn't find the minis for Dust Warfare, cuz they're in the Dust Tactics section. Grrrrr.....
      There's no art featured, it's all presented in a very dry, boring manner. Like a catalog. Plus everything is divided into 'sections' in a very unintuitive manner.

      Finally, there's not a single female mini in the entire line, despite the terrific Paolo Parente cheescake art.
      Which FF also completely under uses on the Dust sites.
      Blah, I say.
      Blah.

      -_-

      Terrible, awful site.
      0 of 5 stars.

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    5. Yeah the FFG's website isn't the most intuitive when it comes to wargameswebsites. Half of their problem though is the fact that they churn out so much product in so many different categories. I guess what you've experienced with the FFG website feeds into another one of my potential concerns... will they support the game right? Or is Dust Warfare just anotherway of shifting Dust Tactics squads?

      That might be a bit unfair, but like you I want to see FFG jump into the pool so to speak, rather than dangling the odd toe in!!! Part of that will be supporting Dust Warfare properly with a dedicated website that isn't as you say just a badly laid out catalogue. Another part of it is making sure they get the Russians out ASAP and start showing us what that fourth and maybe even fifth faction looks like. They need to show everyone they're in it for the long haul.

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  6. I do like the dust miniatures, but was just never sure of the boardgame style of dust tactics. I know some of the guys in our club will be playing this. I might give it a look.

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    1. It is worth a look, and as a first edition it's not a bad effort. If I was grading it at school it'd get a B- with a 'could do better'. It's entertaining and I have the miniatures already so why wouldn't I play it when the mood takes me? In fact I have two small factions and a little bit more dosh will make those medium sized factions. I'll invest and give it a fair hearing, I'm just not going to drop everything else and proclaim it the one true game to rule them all. I for one welcome FFG into the wargames field and I hope they make a success of it.

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  7. I must admit that I didn't even realise that there were two different Dust games; I was aware of the board style game and thought that there seemed to be a lot of minis coming out for just a board game :)

    A mate of mine showed me some of the minis that he'd picked up and whilst they're nice and the background looks interesting this hasn't grabbed me, I'm not 100% sure why but the reasons that spring to mind are:-

    - I never think of Fantsay Flight as a wargame producer which I think might be putting me off (I've got a silly amount of their board and card games, I don't think any of them are amongst my absolute favourite games but on the whole they're good and the quality's excellent but I can't get my head around them making war games);
    - I was a bit unsure about the setting - I'd heard of the WWII links and aliens and an alternate history but wasn't sure how it all worked (admittedly I'm sure it'd be pretty easy to find out);
    - Whilst not insanely expensive it does seem a fair investment for something I haven't heard a massive amount about;
    - The wealth of other games out there;
    - The fact that I get the impression that the Weird War II setting is one that's been done before so there are alternatives out there that they're competing against; and
    - I find myself drawn more to fantasy/sci-fi rather than historic games and whilst this isn't a truely historic game I think the WWII element puts me off a bit.

    As you can probably guess this isn't one that I'll be running out to grab any time soon and the thoughts expressed with regards to the rules have put me off even further. There are two points that stick out from the write up. Firstly, the fact that the rules are presented in such a way that makes certain elements difficult to reference which, for me, is inexcuseable for a company that sells almost exclusively products which rely on rulebooks. The other point is the unusual mechanism with regards to initiative; I can appreciate the intention behind the dice roll as an attempt to balance the game but it seems odd, it might be that over the course of a number of games this works well but at first glance it appears to be a pretty inelegant solution to the issue.

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    1. Hendie, I think you've got similar feelings to me on this one... except I like the weird war II setting Paolo Parente has created. The rest I obviously agree with as it's what I've said in my article.

      The rulebook is odd, because it's really well written and its very clear. It's just that when they were editing it and ordering it all they seemed to have taken the various pages, put them in a nice neat and well structured pile and then thrown them up in the air and seen where it all landed. I don't quite get their reasoning for structuring the book the way they have.

      the other issue with the initiative is a little bit of a blunt tool if you ask me. Plus it's one that's not guaranteed to work every time. Could they have done other things? Yeah sure they could, so they must have specific reasons for picking this one. I have a great respect for Andy Chambers and Mack Martin for that matter, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on it for now... but you can put me in the skeptics camp as I think it's an awkward mechanic open to potential list abuse. But we'll see after I play some more games and some bigger games.

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  8. I think we share similar thoughts on the game (as usual). I'm a bit wary of the importance of initiative, but really need to play more to see how it works out in practice. Your concerns about a small elite army are valid though. The 12" reaction range felt odd coming from Infinity, but I can see them wanting to (artificially) keep reactions down a bit to not allow the game to "bog down".

    All in all I'm fairly excited about it though, as I like the models and had fun during our first game. We'll play again tomorrow so I'll have some more thoughts then.

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    1. Well quelle suprise on the fact we have similar thoughts on a game Martin. :P

      It'd be more shocking if we didn't wouldn't it? Any way I know why they went with the 12" reaction range, but there's another slightly barmy situation in the game around reactions. If I'm the player going first in the unit phase I get to use both my orders on a unit and then use my reactions in their unit phase without penalty. Now if I'm going second on the unit phase and use a reaction it reduces what I can do in my own unit phases. Now again they've done that to try and keep the game 'artificially' close. I can respect that but it's also open to abuse by others, especially the aforementioned Elite lists. It makes going second during the initial exchanges a pretty big disadvantage in my eyes, potentially enough to swing the game. Now I know that if the second player use a lot of react orders that means they've less orders to pump out in their own unit phase and will thus generate less reactions from their opponent but it is still greatly uneven. Just felt in our game that those initial exchanges were so vitally important to our game that it totally shaped proceedings.

      I'll stop there I think because I've already rambled enough!!! :)

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    2. Definitely something to look keep a close eye on as we keep exploring the game. Hopefully there are other factors at play as well that evens it out, that we simply haven't experienced yet.

      Today it'll me and my old gamer friend Anders as well as another buddy who haven't played wargames (40k/WFB) for ten years or so. It will be interesting to see his take on the game.

      I think I'll take the plunge even if it feels slightly uneven. I've been wanting to get into some kind of more "gritty" miniature game where you can really go to town with modelling and stuff. And the SSU simply look to nice to turn down. Love their mecha and their helis that I abhorred at first are starting to grow on me as I see them from other angles. Besides, being able to airlift in mechs is awesome! :)

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    3. Lets us know what happens... if you do a write up on your Blog could you then post the link here? So others can get to see another point of view.

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  9. I've played a few games so I thought I'd just post my experience.
    If you give orders to shoot in the order phase, you can't react in the Unit phase. Also if you become suppressed as well, you can't do anything in the unit phase (-1 suppressed, -1 reaction). So giving a couple of orders in the order phase isn't that great.
    On the flip side, the player going 2nd in the order phase will have more orders, and can do more. He can shoot you back, or he can remove all the suppression you just put on.
    A tactic I like to do if going 2nd is to use the 'Regroup' order. You don't take a reaction marker and remove all suppression. This allows the unit to make sustained attacks in the Unit phase - with the re-rolls being pretty deadly.
    Also units can't react in the order phase, so you can move units away from getting shot without triggering fire.
    In the unit phase, a unit can always 'Hit the Dirt' regardless of range for a cover save of ignoring 1 damage (maybe 2 if in soft cover) - which seems really good. It's hard to pump out enough shots to damage units that are hunkering down (as you have to beat their armour roll + the cover auto bonus!).
    So good use of cover should mitigate opportunity fire.
    I like the system - the 2nd player gets to react before the 1st player brings their entire army to bear. This can make a difference, rather than a double disadvantage. Basically - player one goes first, but player 2 can do more.

    Is it perfect? No. Is it fun? Yes and I think it offers something different. Oh and the models are cool!

    Arrgghh I can't get Blogger to recognise me *shakes fist at Google*

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to write a response... even if Blogger doesn't recognise you. :P

      I still think the going second thing is a double penalty, and it's quite clearly designed to work in this way. It's designed to try and keep games close. The point being if I go first I get to use those two orders in the unit phase so I can move/shoot, move/move or sustain fire etc... and then still react to my opponent. That means my units are doing potential more, indeed way more than the player going second who can only ever do two things. Because if they react then they get to do one less thing to do in their unit phase... that's just the way it's designed. Does it work? I'm still not sure but I haven't played it enough to come down on one side or the other.

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  10. You can't double act in the order phase. So move OR shoot OR regroup. No sustained fire as that is a double action. If they shoot OR move, they can't react at ALL in the unit phase. So going first limits what you can do in the order phase. The 2nd player however has the option of using thise extra orders to move his troops before player 1 gets to activate all of his forces (like running into cover etc).

    It's not designed as a double penalty. It's designed to offset alpha striking which is a major design issue with I GO U GO. It's not perfect, but it is very interesting and dynamic. In my last game, player 2 went on the offensive in the order phase (he rolled a lot of orders!) and crippled my units before I got to activate some of my front line units in the Unit phase!

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    1. Quick question, where did I say that you could use sustain fire in the Command Phase? I didn't. I'm talking about the Unit Phase. The fact that if you have a units two orders and you go first and you can spend both in the unit phase and then react IS a bonus compared to the player going second. If the guy going second in the unit have reacts then they have one less thing they can do in their Unit Phase. I've only played one game, and I accept that's no where near enough to judge a game on, but in that one game this mechanic did swing things violently and its random. I'm not so sure about it yet. I need to see more army builds and more games being played before I decide where I stand on it... but right now I'm not convinced.

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  11. Wasn't attacking you old chap, just pointing out that the order phase is limited in what you can do. I agree that going first is good (which is why statistically it favours the player getting hammered) but at least player 2 gets to do something before player 1 opens up - and that can help. Alpha striking is a fundamental design flaw for I GO U GO (I'm looking at you 40k), but this system, coupled with reactions helps alleviate some of the problems. It all depends what player 2 can do and chooses to do (I've found a key strategy for player 2 is to either move units out of cover into cover, force player 1 to move, or suppress him so he can't sustain fire - this weakens the incoming damage considerably). Of course it's all personal taste - I've never been a massive fan of alternate reactions as it felt too artificial. Epic probably did it best by offering the option to activate a second unit. But this does 'feel' better than 40k and similar games I've played. Personal taste.

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    1. I'm certainly not saying it's worse than 40k feels currently. Definitely not. It looks like it's going to be way better than 40k for me in terms of structure and on the table action. No question about that for me. My only potential concern is with the pre-measuring and the bonus initiative can give players. As SinSynn said above, I personally have no problem giving a losing player some form of 'boost' but as it's down to dice it's still random. After totally hammering the cursed in the first turn we could engage properly and leaving him with only 3 units on the board he rolled 3 hits in initiative phase to my 2. Now I had 5 units on the board. Getting to go first in that next turn won me the game. No question. It allowed me to put a shed load of supression markers on one unit who were now heavily dug in so they couldn't do a damn thing. Out maneuver a second unit and prepare a horrid Command Phase abuse for him and take out his other medium walker with impunity. Sorry but that didn't keep the game tight or close to the end.

      I really need to see the impact of different unit types and army builds on this game before I judge it. On the whole there are some damn fine mechanics and the game is entertaining to play. But if you lost a game at a tournament due to unlucky initiative rolls... an trust me, I think that's possible... you'd have every right to be a bit pissed. I'm just saying people should be cautiously optimistic about things, and not go off proclaiming it's the second coming. A lot of peeps will get disappointed when I think the game invariably fails to live up to some of the hype I've heard and read. The various versions of Epic were all pretty darn good actually!!!

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  12. Just to let y'all know, miniaturemarket.com sells the Dust Warfare rulebooks for $25. And they sell majority of the vehicles for $16-$25 as well, including the heavies.
    Heck, I bet a 300 point army from said store would be only about $150-$200. Too bad the Warfare book is out of stock there, as are the heavies.

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    1. I'd imagine that's the exact reason the rulebook and miniatures are out of stock there!!! Those are pretty insane prices. I wonder if they'll keep to those prices as they're significantly better than other US retailers. Cheers for the link, I'm sure my North American readership appreciates it.

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  13. Enjoying the discussion! I look forward to seeing how your view of the game pans out, frontline.

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    1. As will I Mickey, as will I. I'm really not too sure what to think about it yet. I love the look of the Walkers and I think there are nifty mechanics at play. Some things in the game might grate on my nerves and some things might not be for me... but... it is entertaining me right now, and I want to play more games of it... soooo... that means it's got to be a short term success at least. I'll keep plugging away at it and I'll be reviewing the new Dust Tactics Revised Core Set soon enough, which will give me more troop types to use in a bigger game... so we'll see how that works out!

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  14. I got a chance to get a demo of it at Adepticon, given by Mack himself. I admit to you that I had reservations about the randomness of initiative too. During the course of the game I learned one thing and observed another that have made me hold my judgment in check until I get more games underway.
    The think I observed is that the randomness works both ways ans has a way of, if not keeping you in the game, certainly making it exciting to finish out. The think I learned was the go to ground order - which you can issue if you get shot at from any range, not just the 12" reaction range. If you get caught with your pants down, use it or lose it.
    It was a great time and I love the models and I love the price point. It is cheap enough that you could easily dabble in all of the factions, which is good, 'cause its hard to pick one.

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    1. Hey thanks for taking the time to comment. I am sort of in a similar situation to you... I have reservations with how the initiative works, but I know there are things you can do in the game.This isn't a review of the game, it's just my first thoughts on it. I'll hold off my full judgement until I have had a chance to play significantly more games than I have of it. Cheers. :)

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  15. Good review and I am amazed that its not praising the game as everybody elese does, thanks a lot for an effort to write it and being honest, I've enjoyed it greatly.

    I've been playing Dust Tactics for some time and I liked how it played, maybe a little bit too fast and light for my taste and expensive for a boardgame but I kept buying stuff hoping that it will go in a good direction. I enjoyed the ride with new units comming out often and campaing expansions introducing new rules to Tactics and stuff like 3d buildings so I couldn't wait for Warfare book to come out.

    I must admit that I am more a boardgamer than a wargamer, but I've tried few wargames (Malifaux, FOW, Gruntz15mm, after looking at 40k I skipped it) and I liked the experience, even joined a club to play wargames (none of my friends play it), so I am not an expert by any means. Warfare was a game I wanted to introduce to my local club but after reading the rulebook I have mixed feelings about it, it's not that I am concerned if it will catch up ('cause if 40k can, anything has a chance) rather than If I will enjoy it.

    Those are my thoughts after initially reading the rulebook, I will have to demo it at my club so I want to give myself a little bit more time to prepare and errata to arrive, to leave a positive first impression so it would be played more often.

    Firstly it's beautifull as everything FFG puts out, they spend a lot of time to make their games an eye candy, loads of beautifull pictures of table setups and units which I must admit I like, especialy that they took an effort to prime and put some stickers on them, honestly I am not a painter but I will learn some day, untill then I can play without the fuss.
    I was hoping for a bit more fluff, a story perhaps? and what I got is timeline of a war with some quotes from Churchill, almost fell asleep reading it, a comic booklet included in first dust tactics core box excited me more than this. And from now on it's getting worse. The rules are unintuitive, like movement thru terrain, for me its ridiculous that if you spend double move action terrain is ignored and on normal move limited to 3", line of sight measured horizontaly only? climbing capped at 3"? what if I would like to jump from a hight? it's so confusing... Initiative looks dodgy and looks like it grant's a great bonus to the first player, it wasn't as much a deal in Tactics. Atacking is no better, and imho was superior in Tactics, here not only you are referencing the table (like in tactics) but additionaly enemy is rolling armor saves, and terrain grant a constant modifier, how does that work with balance? would that mean that weaker armor 2 units become useless? and because rear of a vehicle has no armor, doesn't that sound broken when looking at armor 7 tank? (normaly would roll 7 dice but not from behind). They scrapped unit cards... but they updated them before that, I thought they will be compatible. It looks like people starting to find ways to bend rules allready, like paradroping heavy walkers with units inside for additional 5AP (!!!) And what pisses me off mostly is lack of response from FFG anywhere.

    Hope I am wrong and it is a balanced and great game. If not? does anybody know a ruleset I could use those minis with?

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    1. Pawel, thanks for taking the time to express your concerns so thoroughly. As you can see from my initial play I have some grave reservations and I think its fair to say I have yet t dispel any of them... yet... and here's the thing... I enjoy the game!!!

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