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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Not board with it yet

Curse you Fantasy Flight. Curse you...
If you, like myself, are making the inevitable, almost glacial transition from traditional wargaming to the new, more immersive hybrid boardgame genre, then you've probably encountered Fantasy Flight's 'Dust Tactics' series.

Is it the most complex ruleset in existence?


Is it pricey?

Yes, but less so than the equivalent unit, or vehicle box sizes available from the Games Sweatshop, or Privateer Press.

Is it hideously collectible and lots of fun to play with nail-biting moments of tension throughout most games?

Why yes. Yes it is.

That alone should prove sufficient inducement to play the game, but it has added attractions for me which can only be expressed - much to my chagrin - via the medium of inevitable comparison to wargaming staples. My apologies.

I have a fairly enormous 40K Ork Horde as well as a teeming, verminous tide of Skaven. While a fair number of them are assembled, (and a more than fair proprtion of that amount painted to my satisfaction) I often find that I'm struggling to meet point values for decent-sized games while retaining a mixture of the models/units that I like. Now you may be thinking, "Build and paint more of the models from your grey and silver mountain!" but I really find myself with little desire to do so at present. Is it because I can't be bothered modelling and painting? Not a bit of it. If anything this is the hobby's primary appeal for me. My reluctance lies with the game systems.

This is a common gripe which I hear more and more often, (although frequently with less polysyllabism than this humble offering). Wargames are getting bigger all the time and while some people love the idea of armies that bend the table at its middle, I can take it or leave it. It's not that I don't like to field enormous battles, (I really do). It's more that the game systems can't adequately support them.

I think Apocalypse is a farce. Full stop. Paying lots and lots of money; spending hours assembling and painting scores of troop choices, vehicles, etc... only to have them almost literally 'swept' from the table by a single attack from a superheavy is not my idea of enjoyable wargaming. Similarly, my experiences of 8th edition Warhammer fantasy have been nothing short of boring. When I think about my forays into Games Sweatshop territory recently, then it boils down to one simple fact:

GW enthusiasts are paying lots of money to do Maths.
Putting together an army list?


Determining combat resolutions?


How to spoil wargaming?



A 40K Army list nicked from BOLS.

Example of a Dust Tactics vehicle card, not wildly dissimilar from its infantry equivalent.

At present, I own every single release for Dust Tactics, (and in some cases, multiple copies) with the exception of the latest expansion: Operation Cerberus and the map tiles pack. I can safely say, that I have used most if not all of them in a proportionately small number of games. That's because I open the box; remove my already assembled, primed model; and put it on the game-tiles provided in the core set. My core set is painted, as are many of the expansions, but that's personal choice. My Warhammer and Warmachine models languish in relative obscurity when compared with my well used Dust Tactics collection.

Lets review:

 - Like Warmachine, the rules have been updated once.

- Unlike Warmachine, the rules are available for free as well as all of the new unit costings.

- All the information for using a unit and recording damage is on a single card.

- It's light on maths.

- It's more or less IMPOSSIBLE to cheat in anything other than a totally obvious manner.

- It's simple to learn and quick to play, but doesn't lose tactical depth like some other games.

- The ruleset and game mechanics are robust enough to be used with both very small and considerably large-scale engagements without a host of expensive supplementary rulebooks.

- Dust Tactics expansions were planned prior to the game's initial release. While there have been amendments to release schedules and format, there haven't been any 'bolt on' units or factions that are out of kilter with the current ruleset. Effectively, you won't have to worry about your faction becoming redundant.

If you're sick of paying the earth for a marginally satisfying wargaming experience; if you just game for fun, then consider delving into miniature boardgaming.

On balance, it won't cost you much.

Thanks for reading