Blog's Getting a Little Dusty (Dust Warfare)

June 10, 2012

And with that clever blog post title, I simultaneously communicate the fact that (a) it's been nearly a month since my last update and (b) I've been bitten by the Dust Warfare bug!

I tend to suffer from Hobby ADD as some of you may have seen by following the blog. Usually it involves been drawn from army to army, always finding myself sucked into the latest "new shiny". I've also "tried" to get sucked into new games beyond the Warhammer/40K games. Here's how that has gone so far:

Warmachine/Hordes: I actually played this a lot in MKI. I started to get "sucked back in" with the announcement of War Room, and started painting up some Circle Orboros. I also dropped a LOT of money on models and books for these systems around the time of that announcement (faction books, rulebooks, Trollblood and Circle armies and more). I think ultimately the ongoing delays in the release of War Room kinda caused my interest to drift.

Malifaux: I tried reading the rules, and buying some of the models, but the sculpts/quality just weren't as compelling as I'd hoped and I just had trouble getting sucked into this one.

Dystopian Wars: Bought a starter fleet that is still in the packaging (Brittania). Also the version 1 rulebook. But then I heard about how confusing said rulebook was and drifted on again. Seems I have trouble committing.

Firestorm Armada: I have tons of painted and unpainted ships. Never played. Mostly due to lack of players.

Infinity: This is the one I got closest to actually playing. I painted 2 little forces, bought the books, bought and painted a fair bit of terrain. The problem is I just find the rules "opaque" - I find it really hard to wrap my head around them. I think the biggest thing I struggle with is actually their faction/unit rules and the mountain of weirdly-named units that I can never remember.  It has this way of just being a little overwhelming. The quickstart rules help. The rulebooks I found really difficult to digest.  In any case, because of these things I haven't gotten into Infinity even though it had the most attraction for me as a game and in terms of the models which are gorgeous.

So that leads me to Dust Warfare.  Now, I've been aware of Dust Tactics for a long time (the boardgame version). It didn't look like my cup of tea and the Weird War 2 IP was interesting but not overly compelling. Didn't grab my imagination.  Then Dust Warfare arrived, and I followed the coverage and buzz about it sorta casually - I wasn't terribly interested, but more and more stories started to appear and it seemed to be getting a really positive reception.  I think eventually a few things pushed me over the tipping point:

Frontline Gamer's coverage ("Games that Intrigue Me" and more). This guy is terrible for my wallet :|  Love his blog.  By the way while searching for his Dust articles I noticed he also posted one with a Dust pun in it. I honestly didn't copy it!

Fire Broadside's coverage

The D6 Podcast Review (this was probably the one that closed the deal)

The (relatively new?) Dust War blog

So I went and used some of my annual bonus to buy up a relatively large pile of their miniatures (approx 200 points each of Allies and Axis armies) and the PDF of the new rulebook. I gotta say, I love being able to get the rules in PDF form. Reasons: I can get it right when my interest reached the tipping point (vs trying to find it at a store) and I can use Goodreader on my iPad to bookmark rules sections, highlite key points and all that jazz.

First I started painting the models. I found that although they are not quite as nice as Games Workshop's hard-plastic models, they are not nearly as bad or "gumby" (bendy, soft) as Romeo made them sound in the D6 podcast. The sculpts are quite nice (although they seriously need to rethink the third "running" pose for several units, they are tipping too far forward - I've been heating/bending them to fix that where I can).  With only a little effort, they paint up nicely and look great for gaming.

Next step was getting someone to play it with! I knew my best bet was my friend Robin, who is an avid gamer and a very like-minded war gamer. It took a little prodding, and I think the podcast helped, but I got him to give it a try with me yesterday. Result: we both had a great time - I think we are both really impressed with the rules that are "simple to learn, hard to master" and have a surprising amount of tactical depth. Both of us also really liked the Battle Builder system for setting up a game.

My Axis units advancing in the early stages of the game.

Oh and it didn't hurt that I went out earlier in the day and invested in some fresh terrain including Battlefield in a Box products and Pegasus stuff like barbed wire and the tank traps you see pictured above (really like those!).

Robin's Paratroopers arrive behind my lines. The blue gem is a reaction marker.

Oh and it didn't hurt that I went out earlier in the day and invested in some fresh terrain including Battlefield in a Box products and Pegasus stuff like barbed wire and the tank traps you see pictured above (really like those!).

We ended up playing ~ 190 points a side (a weird total but we were in "just learning" mode) and played a Point Control objective with deployment in opposite corners. In terms of raw damage, I would say Robin was winning overall - his Honey Walker, Grim Reapers, Hammers (Heavy Ranger Assault Squad) and basically everything armed with Phasers, Rocket Punch or both were putting major hurt on me. I really struggled to deal with the unit that can move 12 inches without triggering a reaction and then lay my guys out with a rocket punch. But in the end I actually won, because I managed to control 2 objectives and he only had 1. I think what happened is his two walkers got a little in each others way (they aren't super maneuverable) and he just couldn't get them where they needed to be fast enough (now, granted I was also in the process of destroying them as well).

But yeah -we had a blast and REALLY like the rule set. I think this has an opportunity to become my new game of choice for a while, especially since I'm a little irritated at GW's latest price increase (it's getting silly).  I'm really eager to get another game in. I'm also continuing to paint up the models. I have a few units painted, but only got photos of the Heavy Laser Grenadiers (I think I got the name right) and the Honey Light Walker which I finished earlier today.

A few more random thoughts about Dust Warfare before I sign off (since I am lazy and don't have the time/energy to put these into proper paragraph structures):

  • To succeed, they need to get the rules for the SSU out asap (Sino Soviets, the third faction) and then hopefully a fourth faction not long after that. I think the low faction count could hurt the game's ability to grow - and interest is very high right now, they need to strike while the iron is hot! The weird thing is you can buy a lot of the SSU models right now, but only with the rules for Dust Tactics (the boardgame).
  • Their website seems sub-optimal. The thing is, it's a great site! But if you go to the Dust Warfare page, it doesn't list all the model sets you can get (under Products), because they are over in the Dust Tactics section of the website (Robin pointed this out to me).  A new player might come to that page and get the impression there isn't really much available for Dust Warfare yet, when in fact there are a LOT of miniatures released for it!  I feel they should really have a big call-out right on the main Dust Warfare page that explains it shares the same miniatures as Dust Tactics quickly and clearly (with a link etc). Their forum has a similar problem: they have a general Dust Warfare forum - but it's a miniatures game, and needs a painting sub-forum! Meanwhile, Dust Tactics HAS a painting sub-forum with a lot of posts and page history in it - eventually it occurred to me to go look over there, and then BAM I had a bunch of examples of great things you can do painting-wise with these models!  So basically I think Fantasy Flight (if they want this game to take off) has a little online clean-up work to do. They should also get an official Dust Warfare facebook page set up (don't think there's one, unless it's for Dust Tactics).
  • Turns out I love the convenience of pre-assembled and pre-primed. It saves me a lot of time and I still get to focus on the main enjoyable part (for me) which is the actual painting. Also, as I was cleaning up my giant pile of Necron sprues (I have trouble throwing them away since they usually are half-covered in possibly-useful bitz) I was reflecting on the fact that it's really nice the DW minis don't use sprues! Sure you don't get the extra conversion bitz, but as a non-converter (for the most part) I appreciate cutting down on the clutter.
  • They should release a new card-pack with Dust Warfare stats/rules on them. Robin and I used printed ones the community created. They were great, although we found a couple of omissions. It's really helpful having those to refer to during the game. They should also consider releasing the Dust dice (they use special dice) more broadly and in different colors (to simultaneously roll different weapons). Granted you can use normal dice but I liked using the official "special" dice. I've ordered extra black ones from Dust-models.
  • Another really useful thing FF could consider releasing is some sort of iOS or web based Army Builder. Infinity has one (I think it was made by their Community) for example, Malifaux has one and Privateer was supported by iBodger for the longest time. People like to tinker with list-building between playing, and it's becoming a very mobile and mobile-device oriented world. 

Anyway, I think that's it. If you are a miniature war games player, I'd highly suggest giving Dust Warfare a go - it's a blast!

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