Playing DUST Tactics Again

Had another game of DUST Tactics last night. I really should rewrite/finish off my review as it’s a game that’s well worth exploring and nicely combines the clarity of board games with the fun of toy soldiers đŸ™‚

There are a handful of us that have some of the models now, and we’re slowly getting organised into playing more games. One or two of the walkers have been “dry-docked” (and dismantled) while they’re painted, but there’s still enough for us to rustle up a 250 point game without much trouble.

Another cool thing was that I got an early Christmas prezzie in the form of a new squad of Recon Grenadiers, who naturally had to be included in the game. Unusually for new boys to the tabletop, they actually managed to acquit themselves well – the normal curse of being new passing them by đŸ™‚

We played the first scenario from the Seelowe supplement. I took the Germans again as Geoff’s building up his Allied forces and I don’t really mind which dies I command. Both have advantages. It started off with my guys still firing the blanks they’d loaded for the previous training mission, but they got into their stride eventually and after a pretty close middle game gradually began to get the upper hand and finally wiped out the last of the Allies at the end of turn 7 (of an 8 turn game), just in front of the objective. One of my Luther’s almost went down to a rocket punch nutter who wouldn’t die, which was amusing. He moved faster than the lumbering walker so it came down to duking it out, toe to toe.  Mind you, Luthers aren’t really built as anti-infantry machines, so it’s not really his fault that he made a bit of a meal out of stomping on one guy. Got there in the end though đŸ˜‰

All told the objective hidden at the back of a building caused all manner of carnage as all the units ended up in very close proximity in the confined spaces, with limited time and lots of firepower to play with. Lasers, phasers and good old fashioned boomsticks left little on either side at the end.

It was a very entertaining game, and judging by the interest we’ve got among my circle of gamers there will be lots more on DUST here soon.


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41 Responses to Playing DUST Tactics Again

  1. billops says:

    Many “toy soldiers” players are rebuked by the board-game feeling but the overall design is awesome. Im eagerly anticipating Dust Warfare though.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’m very curious to see it too. Reportedly it’s going to use the same stat cards as DUST Tactics, which is an intriguing limitation for the design. There are a couple of obvious elements he could add (such as morale). To be honest though, I’ll probably buy it to look at the pictures and read the background and if the game is cool then that’s a bonus. Playing DUST Tactics doesn’t make me feel like there’s anything that is really missing though…

    • The stat cards will be used as reminder… the stats are a little bit “extended” for Dust Warfare.

      What I really like about Dust Tactics: It´s perfectly suited to a quick TT-snack when you only got 30-60 mins and still want some action.

      DW scales better than DT (surprise?) when it comes to big battles and moves away from the chess-like playing style DT favors.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Thanks André.

        Just one thought. In what way would you say that DT doesn’t scale so well?

      • I consider DT more a chessy variant of a tabletop, i.e. there is not much room for mistakes and every move counts. DW is a little bit more forgiving.

        On problem is the shooting distances. Quite some DT-walkers can shoot wherever they want, this got scaled down with DW. Also movement works with normal battles in DT but if you play bigger battles it becomes an issue. Several elements of DT work quite well until you play bigger battles than intended by the designers.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        And how big was intended by the designers?

        Reading SeeLowe, it says 250 points for the 9 tile games and 350 points for the 12 tile ones. From my limited experience I’d say that seemed fine.

      • DW games can get waaaaay bigger ;).

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I can imagine. I’m not sure I want them to though.

        There is a common thread running through all manner of gaming hype that bigger games are better, and in my experience that is almost never the case. Bigger games generally just make traffic jams of units that limit any tactical choice or interest. Bigger games are great for sales though.

        Chess works at a given size. Making it 5 times that size does not make it 5 times as good a game. Why should this be true for other games?

      • Though DT and DW share quite some elements they are still quite different in their game approach. DW is definitly more company-sized in its approach, while DT is mor the platooner.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Not sure I can afford a whole company…

        Either way, I’ll have to wait till September to find out đŸ˜›

  2. Davey says:

    Good to hear your thoughts. I’ve been toying with the idea of Dust Tactics for a little while and I’m really interested in the tabletop/boardgame blend. Looking forward to further reports.

  3. I have to admit I struggled with the concept of the game. I found it very difficult to reconcile the flat board game aspect of what lay before me with the wargame vibe of it all. I don’t think it’s a bad game at all though and the underlying mechanics offer plenty of scope for troop variance, which is a good thing.

    I’ve been feeling like I should give it another go, but right now I’ve got that much stuff to be getting on with it’s sitting gathering dust… ha ha… yeah OK maybe a career in stand up comedy doesn’t await me. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it though, as I don’t think I gave it enough time to really properly judge it and I didn’t buy any expansions for it.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      You don’t need the expansions to get a good game from it, in my view. They add bits, but aren’t essential. It does, however, reward repeated play, as the subtleties don’t show on first run through. At least, they didn’t for me.

      • I’ve played each of the missions in the original 1st ed box about 3 or 4 times. I will admit it got a lot better on repeated play. Just didn’t see the ‘point’ of it for me. It took as long as a wargame, so I might as well have played a wargame. lol. However as an introductory tool to the world of wargaming I can see it has a lot of merit. Plus the add on units and how the profiles work could add a lot of subtlety to the game I guess. When I finally get a job, which will be around the same time as pigs learn to fly at this rate, I’ll have to check out a few new units… or just let you spend your money and tell me what to get! đŸ˜›

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Workin’ on it đŸ˜‰

  4. wachinayn says:

    I don’t really understand if DUST Tactics and DUST Warfare are the same thing or completely different games. Which scale they use? 28mm?

    • Sam Dale says:

      And, how are they going to handle using other manufacturer’s toys with them?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      @wachinayn – As billops said, they are different games. DUST Tactics is played on a squared board, and DUST Warfare (which isn’t out yet) is supposedly played like 40K on an open table with measured movement. Both are set in the same Weird WWII setting, and both use the same 1:48th scale figures and mechs. DUST Tactics is a board game that happens to use miniatures. DUST Warfare is a tabletop wargame.

      @SamDale – there are already fan sites with cards for historical tanks and suchlike, and I’m sure I’ve seen Paolo telling them they were doing a grand job, which suggests they don’t mind overmuch. To use other people’s toys you need the stats, and like most games, if you want to use other things and make stuff up yourself then that’s fine. What can they do?

      • Sam Dale says:

        Tbh, I’m not sold on the mechs I’ve seen for Dust, so, if I was looking at it, I’d be looking for some Red Blok clompy things. Clomp… Clomp… Boom.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Really? I think the mechs are quite brilliantly done myself. Very well observed 40s design. Clearly Paolo has spent a great deal of his life staring at picture of WWII vehicles (and building models of same).

        Of course, you don’t have to agree in the slightest, I’m just surprised. Is your view based on looking at the pics or the models themselves?

        And, which ones are better? I’d love to have a look at them too.

      • I’m with you Jake. In my review of Dust Tactic I think I was possibly overly gushing with my praise of the Mech. I love them and still do. Mr Parente has indeed done his home work. Utterly brilliant in my opinion.

      • Maybe we are too tanky and know way more than others about tanks and because of this see all the details others don´t recognize that easily. For me the walkers are one big hommage. There you have the front of an SdKfz. 251/1, there you have Stuart on legs with an Sherman-turret. There you´ve got the gun of a Löwe and a Tiger, etc.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Yup. Lots of details are recognisable from historical vehicles, and even the bits that aren’t have the same design ethic, which is what works so well (for me).

      • Sam Dale says:

        Ahh. Now, it’s the aesthetic that I’m not keen on. I loves me some WWII tankage. I have Cromwell, Panzer, T-34 and Finnish “borrowed” Soviet armour for FoW, for instance. But I don’t get on with that aesthetic of having tank hulls as part of weird war walkers. I’d rather go with the sort of chunky functional walker look of the AT-43 Red Blok walkers, and then add subtle nods to the real life vehicles.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        As the short chap with the bells on his pointy shoes said: “I’m a Fairy, my name’s Nuff”.

        Fairy Nuff.

      • To understand the design of the walkers you need to read a little into the background. The walkers do look partially like WWII-tanks, because that are parts from those tanks.
        The war has cost the nations resources and no nation can afford to develop walkers from scratch, so they have to make do with what is already there. As time goes by the walkers will get more sophistictaed. But in 1947 the walkers are still in alpha test mode.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        As I said, I think that bit of the background makes sense, and the walkers look pretty good to me. If I was to be picky then I’d say it was the non-tank bits which were less credible, but that’s deliberately being picky. There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief required anyway (in a world with aliens, zombies and so on), so the engineering on the walker’s legs is not a big issue.

        What does strike me as a harder question to field is the issue of normal tanks. Obviously FFG/Dust aren’t very interested in selling Tamiya’s kits for them so it makes sense in a business way, but in background terms there should be loads more Jeeps, halftracks and tanks about than these new and supposedly rare walkers. Yet you never see any mention of them. How does the background explain that?

      • Actually we created quite an extensive list of tanks that at one point in time will be released. But since making tanks is not the main focus (and since there are quite some xcellent kits out there for a price that is fantastic (Tiger II with metal cast center part for 24 bucks?)) it will probably release on the side-lines.

        Tanks still exist in 1947 and they are in use on other battlefields. The battles we play are the ones where the walkers have their field testing. Tanks more an more will get phased out over time. But still: beasts like the Tiger II or Pershing are still a match for some walkers. Actually there is no full walker list at the moment simply because they can´t be produced in such quantities that such a unit would be possible

      • Quirkworthy says:

        That’s how I imagined the background. The rate at which the armour was turned out would make it odd if it suddenly all disappeared.

        So will we be seeing cards for tanks? I’ve seen some fan ones already. Any likelihood of “official” ones?

      • My guess is: semi-official ones that get the OK from Dust Studio.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        That would be cool. As you say, there are already places to get the vehicle models in 1:48th. From a business point of view it might slightly reduce people’s spend on DUST models specifically, but they’d still be spending, and if it kept them in the game then it’s a bonus overall. After all, people that play are likely to want to be playing with mechs, zombies and gorillas – otherwise they’d just be playing one of the many historical WWII games đŸ™‚

      • Sam Dale says:

        And having access to the historical vehicles in-game makes entry point for those with existing 28mm WWII stuff easier, and the more people playing the game, the better.

      • Quirkworthy says:


        Though DUST is technically 1:48th, so the typically 1:56th “28mm” models will be a little out for the purists. Mind you, if you’re that much of a purist you shouldn’t be playing 28mm (cos it’s not a scale) đŸ˜‰

      • The Hobbyboss and Tamiya 1/48 are quite in scale with the Dust-stuff, and Paolo himself uses some of those kist for pictures.

        Already got me a King Tiger, Sturmtiger and a KV-2 to use them.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Worth knowing.

        One wonders whether all of the real vehicles would have been made if the war had taken the turn DUST imagines. I really like the E series, for example, but I don’t think it really makes sense that they be included (sadly). It’s not just a case of the war going on after 45, but the war taking quite a different turn in the middle. I can see a whole debate on that lot đŸ™‚

  5. billops says:

    Dust Warfare and Dust Tactics are different games, but use the same miniatures. Dust Warfare will be more of a classical tabletop miniature game ie without squared board.

  6. Forest Ramsey says:

    I have to say that the really, really quick rundown I got of DW at GenCon left me encouraged. I wish I’d had time to get a proper demo in because it looked phenomenal. With that said though, Dust Tactics is a slick game. I love the built-in pressure where you want to use your best units to tear stuff up, but every time you do you expose it to the threat of destruction. It’s a very brutal, fun, fast game. I really need to pick up more of the expansion units and the new cards so I can delve into playing it in all it’s glory.

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