Fantasy Flight Games is a big name in the boardgaming circle. They are responsible for creating some of the best boardgames around and more then a few of them are my personal favorites (Game of Thrones *cough). Dust Tactics, however, is different then most of the FFG lineup. Where FFG is no stranger to miniatures in their board games. Dust Tactics, since the launch of the starter kit, has grown to a truly astounding level. Currently, the game spans 3 factions with a fourth rumored to be coming. There have been four expansions to the game, each adding new rules, new types of models and way more depth then what was initially offered.
Recently I’ve been able to sit down and get some games in, click the jump to see my thoughts.
The Setting: Dust Tactics is set in a Weird War Two universe, think Wolfenstein games for a reference point. Dust Tactics features a lot of pseudo-science, especially on the Axis side. The main difference that should be apparent from the get go is that tanks (Which are mundane real life war tools) have been replaced with Walkers, called Robots (Which are vastly superior if unrealistic).
The walkers are a product of a new power-source called VK, and technology from a vastly superior alien civilization. The aliens have yet to make an appearance in the game yet but they are mentioned in the fluff. Also Hitler is dead, the Nazi Party is abolished and Operation Valkyrie went off without a hitch. Sure, it takes some liberty with history to set up its setting but its a rich setting. I should mention that Paolo Parente is the man behind the setting and he definitely brings all his talents to bear.
Dust Tactics has a very streamlined and simple rule system. This is not to say it lacks tactical depth though, on the contrary, the rules actually cause the game to resemble chess more then a regular war-game. To win a game a player needs to be able to hedge bets. You need to only commit your forces when you have the advantage. The game does this by having a very steep consequence for combat. If one of your units get shot by a unit designed to kill it, you can expect to loose it
Hell, even a unit that is not specifically designed to fight your unit could get lucky and reap a horrible toll.
Combat mechanics are simple enough to figure out with each weapon in the game rolling a certain number of dice based on the armor rating of its target. Not all weapons can do damage to all unit types but even that is fairly straightforward.. Each unit comes with a card showing all the stats for that unit. These cards also list special rules for the unit and show a picture of the actual models in a unit.
When shooting with a unit, the player rolls the allotted amount of dice for the target its shooting at. The dice that come with the game has a hit symbol on two of its six sides. If one of these symbols is rolled the unit takes damage. If the unit is not in cover then that damage is fatal. Cover works the same way, a hit symbol will cancel any incoming damage. As I stated before, rules are simple yet eloquent and that’s one of the main selling points of this game!
The Game Materials: The figures in Dust Tactics are made out of a soft plastic. As a war-gamer I was impressed with the quality of detail on the figures. The same can be said of the walkers. All in all the models are beautiful and fit the style of the universe exceptionally.
The dice are another matter entirely. In my games I have completely stopped using them and have replaced them with regular D6. This is because the dice are engraved with the hit symbol, which is also made worse since the symbol is not always centered. As one could easily guess this impacts the dice and makes the chance of rolling a hit less then reliable.
I also had issues with some of the tiles, but they have since fixed themselves. Apparently for some reason when you first open the box there is some warpage issues with the tiles. However, after flattening them with books once the issue has never been repeated. Thankfully, the newer tiles from the expansion packs have never warped so whatever it was FFG seems to have fixed the issue.
The cards and rulebook are excellent though and I can’t find any flaws with them. The terrain pieces that come with the game lack detail, yet they serve adequately and not much more can be asked of pre-made terrain.
Overall Thoughts: I really like Dust Tactics. I like that FFG was able to make a war-game and simplify it enough that I consider it a board-game, one that I can easily explain to my friends and play with little preparation. The combat also makes sure the game doesn’t drag on. That is the best feature of Dust Tactics; its the games quick eloquence that makes it such a fun and original take on a tactical board-game. If your looking for some Weird War 2 models or a quick skirmish scale war-game you could do much worse then Dust Tactics.
That’s Yo “Weird War 2” Garbage