Played my first game of Dystopian Wars last night, obliterating a British starter fleet for the loss of only a few Japanese frigates. It was an entertaining enough game, and one I’ll add to my list of things to review when I’ve got it on the table for another game or three.
I am getting increasingly wily in my old age though, and managed to play the game before I bought nine fleets for it (which is what usually happens). So far I’ve just got the rulebook. I was trying to decide on a fleet, and wasn’t particularly liking the look of the whole of any of them. I’d sort of half-decided on the Japanese and was able to borrow some and use them last night to see how they fared on the tabletop (thanks Paul!). They seem to suit me well enough, and looking at the stats with a fresh and improved understanding I think they are as good as any for my style of play. The American fleet looks pretty good on paper too, but I’m not so keen on their models, so I think the Japanese will do nicely.
It’s funny how much harder it was (and always is) to read the rules when I had to come at them cold than it was once I’d got a vague idea. One play was enough to give me a grasp of the basics and then I could just fill in the blanks and hone the details. When I worked for the Driving Standards Agency (who administer the UK driving test) they were very against people learning with their friends or parents, and then refining this with a proper instructor. Why then does this process work so much better as a mechanism for learning games? Is it just because picking up someone’s bad habits isn’t (usually) life-threatening on the tabletop?