DUST Tactics

Future battles

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DUST Tactics

Postby Whiterook » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:44 pm

Dust Tactics - A TCG Review

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The year is 1947. Throughout the world, three major superpowers fight to claim exclusive control over a revolutionary source of power: Vk. Elite troops and massive combat robots wage violent battles to control these energy reservoirs...

Dust Tactics is a tactical miniatures board game for 2-4 players. In an alternate 1940s reality, alien technology fuels gigantic machines of war as the forces of the Axis and Allies clash over rare mineral deposits that could inevitably decide the outcome of the war. With over 30 highly detailed miniatures, nine double-sided terrain boards, 12 custom dice, unit cards, terrain, and plastic scenery, Dust Tactics delivers everything you need to wage battles in the immersive world of Dust.

A deep and engaging game setting, featuring stunning artwork by Paolo Parente, will draw players into a world desperately at war... and the highly detailed miniatures only add to this immersion. Eight included scenarios and nearly limitless customization ensures hundreds of hours of replayability, while scalable rules offer a satisfying experience for players of all levels.

• Over 30 highly detailed miniatures
• Nine double-sided boards to customize your own battle
• A deep and engaging setting
• A battle book including eight unique scenarios
• Quick-start rules to get into the action quickly


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I am soooooo screwed, as I just KNOW that I have to own this series.....I have no choice!!! I mean, look at thos beast.....

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And some troops....

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And a couple beasties menacingly marching.....

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I have GOT to get this!!!!

NOTE: A full review is forthcoming in a few posts, once I have a chance to better digest this game....stay tuned into this one, Folks!
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Re: DUST Tactics

Postby 50th » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:54 am

Nice! I'm drooling over here! Kinda reminds me of my old Battletech Goliath miniature.Image

How complicated are the rules? Give us an overview (just a short one) please!
"It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, 'Our Father who art in heaven." Douglas MacArthur <><

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Re: DUST Tactics

Postby Whiterook » Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:29 pm

50th wrote:
How complicated are the rules? Give us an overview (just a short one) please!


I only own the boardgame, and haven't read the rules yet.....the miniatures game appears to me the same system, but more minatures and less card driven. I have definitely decided to pop on this miniatures system....I'll be ordering the core game as soon as I can muster the coinage! I'll report on it then.

In the mean time, I should be getting to the boardgame shortly so I'll update you one the playability and rules on that one then. :D
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Re: DUST Tactics

Postby Whiterook » Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:56 am

The more I look into this system, the more intrigued I get. Found this vid review this monring (The guy in this a a Games Guru, BTW)....


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What he said in the vid of the system being a scaled up version similar in a lot of ways to Memoir '44, THAT got my attention! What I am getting out of my research so far is, this is like a squad-level bversion of HeroScape, but quick skirmish combat somewhere along the lines of M44.

Another thing I read yestreday was, they (Fantasy Flight Games) are putting out a revised set, with revised rules....soething to keep in mind.

Another thing I seem to get the impression of is, they are primed but not painted....to me, a god thing, as I can customize the pieces!

What I am now researching are the expansions....units and rules for those unts that are "add-ons' to the system to make it more robust.

I'm starting to plot our possible purchases.
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Re: DUST Tactics - TCG Review

Postby Whiterook » Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:42 pm

DUST TACTICS– The Complete TCG REVIEW

A few posts back, I introduced the bare bones of this new game. What I had seen at that point was enough to get me intrigued, and I hope it was the same for you. I am still digesting the full potential of this game and am playtesting it out this very weekend, so I thought this would be a good time to sit down and write down my thoughts to this point.

One of the things that drive me bananas about this game (and in truth, too many game companies are doing this) is, there is a lot of good information out there on different sites, but it’s just snap shots and no one site has the all-inclusive, definitive writeup on the game….until now!

A LABYRINTH OF HISTORY

This is a miniatures boardgame based on Paolo Parente's Dust Universe. But it is a game of contradictions as a result of its many-layered history of origin. Maybe that's why this game required a little more research for me to get fully invested (which I now am, BTW!). You see, this game has a history, before a history, before a history….

The first history part of this game's journey started with the company named Rackham, a little company that was originally making and going to release the game via the much bigger monolithic game company, Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). But alas, Rackham and FFG had a falling out, and enter….

The second history of the game, AEG (Alderac Entertainment Group), a publisher of role-playing games and collectible card game products. I first became aware of AEG back in 2007 when I purchased their Stargate SG-1 initial role-playing game book after seeing a miniatures version of the game played at Origins Game Expo that year. AEG was the next company to take up the challenge of getting this game off the ground, and entered into a contract with DUST Studios to produce the game. The rulebook for the original Rackham, and then AEG core-set is dated 2009, which gives us a good timeline mark. However, DUST Tactics was not out of the woods yet! You see….

The third history occurred right before Gen Con 2010, when AEG announced that Fantasy Flight Games would be taking over the game! And that is where the game finally seems to have really hit the ground running now….thank goodness! My guess is, FFG will keep and do well with this series, and is right up their alley. The ironic thing is, we are right back to where we started with Rackham producing the game through FFG, but with Rackham totally out of the picture! You ‘gotta love this stuff!!!

Oh but it doesn’t end there!!!!!!

Another interesting tangent to the DUST Tactics mythos is: DUST Tactics was originally going to be AT-43, but under the name ”Alternate Timeline 1943” …but when Rackham split away from the DUST Tactics game, they went and made AT-43 into a sci-fi game, keeping many of the original game elements. Hey, it’s all good….more games!


THE GAME

I have seen a few companies try and merge the idea of a boardgame and a miniature game, to different levels of success and scale. Some are based on a true-history concept and other in a fantasy-history world. This game follows the latter, but had origins in the former. That's confusing right off the bat, isn't it? What that translates to is: In its original incarnation (the original Core Set), it was basically WWII infantry with some armor padding and souped-up weaponry, and WWII tanks ‘Transformerized’ into robots; but in the Revised Core Set, the infantry become more sci-fi-like with jet-packs and Zombies next to Gorillas.

That last point on the differences between the former and latter core sets is an important one for the wargamer-consumer to heed: What do you want to game?

You see, in the revised world of the game, other than a few squads in that core set, you will need to purchase “expansions” that feature a “unit”, or squad of miniatures, such as 3-Axis Gorillas, or 5-Laser Grenadiers. This can add up over time, so a purchasing strategy is well warranted, my friends! I would speculate this is a definite sales strategy for Fantasy Flight Games, and there is nothing wrong with that; and in fact, I for one appreciate that you can buy what you want, rather than the (in my humble opinion) foolish “Collectible Game” format that throws random miniatures in boosters (you game companies know who you are, shame on you!!!).

But if you want to stay truer to the feel and look of WWII, but in a lesser “Weird War” atmosphere, the original core set is where it’s at!!! Luckily, even under FFG’s revised version of the game, you can still purchase all of the squads issued in the original set in expansions, but that’s where some knowledgeable strategy comes into play if you either want to stay based more into that former “truer WWII” look and feel totally or in major…..you can still (as of this writing) find the original AEG Core Sets for sale, but their numbers are dwindling fast! I’ve purchased three of these original core sets already! The reason? You get more stuff, as you will see below, and slanted to the lesser sci-fiey version of the game.


ORIGINAL CORE SET

The “old” Rackham/kinda-FFG - AEG Core Set came in a huge box….one of the biggest out there on the market….and contains:

ALLIED:

  • 2- Medium Walkers, MCW M2-B “Hotdog” and MCW M2-C “Pounder”;
  • 3-Squads (or “units”, as the game calls them) of five miniatures per squad…Recon Rangers, Assault Rangers, and Combat Rangers;
  • 1-Hero miniature…Captain Joe Brown.


AXIS:

  • 2- Medium Walkers, Panzer KampfLaufer (KpfL.) II-A “Luther” and KpfL. II-B “Ludwig”;
  • 3-Squads (or “units”, as the game calls them) of five miniatures per squad…Recon Grenadiers, Battle Grenadiers, and Laser Grenadiers;
  • 1-Hero miniature…Colonel Sigrid Von Thaler.

ALSO INCLUDED IN THE BOX:

  • 12 Unit Cards (6 each side) for the squads mentioned;
  • 9 - 9cm double-sided (snow-scape/factory complex) terrain tiles, used to build your gameboard;
  • 18 terrain squares, to build your Dust battlefield structure and hazards;
  • Cover element pieces of 4 ammo crates and 2 tank traps
  • A big color rulebook;
  • A scenario booklet describing the “Blue Thunder” campaign and advise on unit use;
  • A promotional “Dust” comic book; and
  • 12 special DUST Tactics dice, with blank sides and a cross-hair “hit” side.

What does this translate too? A BUTT-LOAD of miniatures!!!

REVISED CORE SET

So, why do I point out what you get in a original core set that is no longer in production? Well, it’s because of what you now get in Fantasy Flight Game’s new and “improved” version of the “new” Revised Core Set, which they plug as a ‘…more compact box which includes miniatures exclusive to this Core Set, that are compatible with all Dust Tactics releases’; READ….less stuff!

Contained in this revised set are:


ALLIED:
  • 1- Light Walker, “Blackhawk”;
  • 3-Squads (or “units”, as the game calls them) of five miniatures per squad…Death Dealers, Hellboys, and Hammers (with turbo-charged fists);
  • 1-Hero miniature…Sergeant Major William Springfield (nicknamed “Rhino”), who falls into an animalistic frenzy when fighting his foes.

AXIS:

  • 1- Light Walker, Panzer “Hans”;
  • 3-Squads (or “units”, as the game calls them) of five miniatures per squad…Heavy Flak Grenadiers, Sturmpionieren, and Heavy Laser Grenadiers;
  • 1-Hero miniature…Feldwebe lLara Walter, with a keen urban-warfare sense and twin-linked MG-44 Zwei’s machine guns to shred her enemies (Am I the only one extremely turned on by this???).

ALSO INCLUDED IN THE BOX:

  • 10 Unit Cards (6 each side) for the squads mentioned (2 less than the original due to cheaping out to only one Walker a side, not to mention a small Walker at that….Common’, Guys!!!);;
  • 2 double-sided terrain posters (that replace the 9 - 9cm double-sided (snow-scape/factory complex) terrain tiles, used to build your gameboard in the original)…which those that know me, know that I hate game companies that cheap out with paper maps instead of cardboard maps/times (Common’, Guys!!!);
  • 9 terrain squares, to build your Dust battlefield structure and hazards (9 less than the original, Common’, Guys!!!);
  • Cover element pieces of 2 ammo crates (two less the original, Common’, Guys!!!) and 2 tank traps
  • A big upsdated rulebook introducing the new Army Point System (APS), which translates to the units now “cost” different than the original set…there is actually an expansion pack of new Unit Cards for those that have the old miniatures form the original core set;
  • A scenario booklet describing the “Victory Bridge” campaign;
  • NO promotional “Dust” comic book; and
  • 6 special DUST Tactics dice (6 less than the original, Common’, Guys!!!).


Like I said….less stuff… Common’, Guys!!!

SITREP

So difference, yes. Good? Bad? That’s for you to decide. For me, it’s a great game that offers something completely different than what I’ve played before, so it’s worth the oddities of marketing and cheap-skate suits.

The models and figures are all plastic, which is fine by me. Scale? Well, that’s a different can of worms. I would say it would most closely relate to 28mm, though they aren’t true 28mm…but close enough that most 28mm alternatives look fine next to them, like the hot chick figures in game Incursion, for instance! The game comes with miniatures pre-primed green and grey, though for TRIPLE the price you can buy the Deluxe Core Set pre-painted; and yes, the fully pre-painted ones are gorgeous, but not woth the $300-ish price tag! I suck at painting, but I’m cheap too, so it balances out to I’ll paint the damned things myself! But levity aside, pre-primed and not painted offers a better solution or me as I can customize them to how I want them to look, and in what terrain battledress!

For instance, I have three original core sets, so that means I have three “Captain Joe Browns” and three “Colonel Sigrid Von Thalers”….so I’ll scratchbuild alter two of each to different poses and maybe equipment, and make my own characters, complete with their own home-made Unit Cards!

An undecided opinion towards the infantry and hero figures for me is that they come with a seam along the waist where the figure is split and can be turned to different poses. In a way, I like that, ‘cause I can take duplicate squad expansions and customize them to slightly different poses; but I have a feeling I’ll likely glue them in permanent pose and then use Squadron Putty to eliminate the seam. Anal, yes. Fun, yes!

The walkers are what really get my cupcakes hard, though! They are awesome! I have seen some wargamer/modelers that have scratch-built additions to them, adding cables, Schurzen, Jerry cans, netting, cargo, etc. This will likely cause me much pause in where I go with mine! This game is more a game of tactical infantry fighting, with armor (walker) support….but that said, I can also see a large scale tank battle on diorama AS BEING AMAZING!

What isn’t amazing is the storage of the box….the box art is beautiful; the size is spectacular; but the inside of the box wasn’t’ built for storage, but was built for shipping. Unless you intend to disassemble the walker robots every time you play the game, then the insert is useless since the parts of the walkers are separate. The infantry and heroes come in small individual ziplock baggies per figure, each side in its own box, but there is no way I want to take these out and put them back in each time. It’s too bad the manufacturer didn’t have individual cardboard cutouts in the box like a lot of the old chess sets used to do. After going to all that trouble of individually wrapping each and every figure in its own baggie, the dice came in a regular non-re-useable plastic bag that needs to be thrown away after opening….’Common, Guys! The obstacles (crates and tank traps) are wedged in-between cardboard sections that aren’t very accessible for repeated use. All indications of setting up the box design for shipping, not storage. On the good side was, the mapboard tiles came in huge ziplock baggies that aren’t of the stock grocery store variety, so those will stay in whatever system I come up with. On first thought, I am thinking of storing the miniatures in Army Transport systems, in foam trays.

The ammo crates are very bland in nature….I could do better either scratchbuilding, or buying plastic model accessory kits in a close scale. The tank traps are kinda cool, but need a real artistic touch to bring out the most potential in them. I guess if you are looking from the point-of-view of playing this game as a boardgame, on the terrain tiles, then those obstacle elements are good enough; but if you are looking at playing this on a custom built diorama (which I am), then those pieces need a lot of help. Perhaps looking at what AT-43 or similar systems have available may be in order.

The Unit Cards are great….great graphics and color, and an awesome size compared to most games’ unit cards. They are well thought out and easy to read and use. The picture of the squad helps in instant recognition, and also in painting tips.

The dice are great as well, and I like the idea of hits and misses with a graphic of a target symbol and a blank side. Great weight and well printed.

The rulebook is well written and edited, and easy to read. I love that there are plenty of examples given at almost every step, which better helps the gamer better assimilate the rules system. The size of the rulebook is also nice, as it makes reading easier. The paper is glossy and good thickness will help it stand up to repeated usage.

GAMEPLAY

There's enough models in the box of either the original or the revised set to play game, as you can see from the listing above. The rules have a miniatures wargame feel, even though it is a board-game. Each model can perform two actions each turn: They can move and fire (MOVE + SHOOT); fire and move (SHOOT + MOVE); move twice (MOVE + MOVE); or make a Sustained Attack, which is not moving at all, and gaining the bonus of being able to re-roll each miss once, which is pretty cool!

Line of Sight is figured out by the traditional wargamer mechanic of center dots in each square on the terrain tiles. An interesting take on this however is when placing hazard tiles on the squares, you eliminate the center dot for that square, and that’s how you know there is a blocking square! That’s very elegant, in my estimation. Attacking is worked out based on what weapon you decide to use listed n the Unit Card of the squad, versus the armor value of the target. There are only 3 different types of armor which is represented by a silhouette of a troop, tank and airplane on each unit card. Each miniature’s weapon is listed in a weapon line on this stat card to which you can figure out the weapons’ range, firepower, and hit factors. It reminds me a lot of Axis & Allies Miniatures, in that regard.

If I want to use my Shotgun on the opposing models who are considered an armor value of 2, then you get 3x dice to roll, and if successful each hit will do 1 point of damage (on the card this is listed as 3/1). However it shows on the little chart on the unit card that a Shotgun can only hurt a vehicle with the vehicle symbol value 1 armor. Anything higher than that will require a different weapon. Simple and elegant.

Attacks are all declared before rolling for them, very much like in Axis & Allies Miniatures, BattleTech, etc…. because this simulates simultaneous attacks and a single flowing sequence of combat, and it keeps you from using a final shot left over from killing say a walker, to use on another target. IF you declared shooting model A with weapon Z, then you can only follow through with that course of action, even if a shot or two puts them out of action early. You still fire into the carnage of death! Also listed on the cards where applicable are the two forms of cover in the game: Hard Cover or Soft Cover; and depending on the situation at hand, a sort of Cover Save is allowed, so you do sometimes end up with the chance to eliminate hits by rolling to cancel them out.

The game is played in Rounds, where you alternate the playing of squads/heroes/vehicle (Units) until both sides have activated each unit to do something (or not), which then deactivates them at conclusion. If the victory objective or number of game turns (if applicable) is not achieved, you play another round! Play of a round starts with an Initiative Roll, with both players rolling three dice, and the side with the most successful results gets to choose who goes first; and then activation alternates between players as previously mentioned, until both sides have activated all of their models. Once both sides are done initiative is decided again, and another round begins. There's really no more to it than that.

To simulate the effect of special weapons, the rules change up a little. For instance a Flamethrower lists the dice roll as 1/+, which means you roll 1 die per model targeted. Another more powerful weapon has a 2/+, which means you roll 2 dice for each model targeted, and successful results each do 1 point of damage. The troop models in the game are eliminated by a single point of damage.

Heroes and Walkers handle things a little differently, as they can sustain more than a single point of damage, which are marked off until you run out or “Health”. This is an interesting concept taken from the video game industry that I have to admit, not only have I never seen this concept used in a board wargame, but to my surprise, I actually love the idea! Whereas for squad units, whom have a miniature immediately removed from the board and play upon damage (KIA); these other units that have Health are not taken out of the game, nor are their capabilities effected by taking damage until they're reduced to zero Health points left. I only saw one weapon that had a unique damage type, which can eliminate all remaining health points of a model. The rules say that the Unit Cards were designed with whitish crosses that can be marked off directly in the card, as health is lost….yeah, that ain’t gonna happen!!! No way would I mar unit cards because I’m too lazy to keep track on a separate piece of paper…but that’s just me, folks! So for the most part, the heroes and walkers can take quite a bit more than the basic rank and file ground pounder troops.

There are also a butt-load of Special Abilities listed in the rulebook: Self Repair, for instance gives a vehicle a chance at repairing damage via successful rolls. The Sniper ability allows the model to pick which model in a unit is killed, or if the hero takes the damage or not. So you could effectively take out a specific model with say a special weapon more effectively this way. There are many more, which adds great dimensionality to this game.

Both core sets show that the game is able to be run as a Campaign, so it’s more than merely skirmishes.

Conclusion

Much like Axis & Allies Miniatures, or even Memoir ’44, a lot of Grogs may pontificate that DUST Tactics is not a true wargame. At this, would heartily and vehemently disagree to the point of fisticuffs! Yes, it’s is definitely a boardgame, and light fare for the most part at that, but….this game has a lot of potential beyond being a light wargame. In point of fact, FFG is actually coming out with a book for playing this as a full-fledged diorama-based bad boy! And beyond that, this game is ripe for home-rules and variants that could easily put this game on par with the likes of Flames of War and Battlefront WWII.

As the game is currently designed, it is fast-paced tactical skirmish warfare where the strong survive. Killing power and how it is effectuated is brutal and merciless….your troops can find themselves wiped out in less than a half hour! But add buildings, lots of cover, large forces, and ambitious victory goals and I see this game as being more than capable of transforming itself into every bit a wargame that plays out over the curse of a whole afternoon, or even several days. That’s what has me so damned excited about this system!

DUST Tactics in its current incarnation isn't going to replace a true full-fledged wargame like Flames of War by any stretch of the imagination, because it's still a board-game which uses some wargaming mechanics and limits play to the board it comes with. But there is more beneath the surface, and the adventurous ones are the wargamers who make this more than what it currently is!

Based on what I am seeing from Fantasy Flight Games, they’ve figured this out, too….that they have a diamond in the rough. The simple fact that they are developing rules that take it to the diorama; and that expansions are flying off the factory floor with no signs of stopping….they know they got a winner at the expense of AEG an Rackham…and I say, Good’Onya, Mates!
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