Review: DUST Warfare

Game: DUST (Warfare)

Item: Core Rulebook

We have branched out in recent weeks with a chance purchase of DUST (warfare as opposed to DUST tactics). One of the designers for DUST is none other than Andy Chambers of the Games Workshop fame. good to see he is still around doing some gaming work. Let’s take a look inside with this review of DUST Warfare.

Look and Feel: Alternate World War 2 is the name of this game. Take the look and feel of WW2 and add a bit of weird science. The DUST core rulebook is about 100 pages, hard covered with full colour glossy paper inside. It is strong and durable and has a good feel to it. Quality stuff. The core rules introduce two factions – United States and German forces. The first expansion introduces the Russian Coalition and there are 3 more planned factions.
The miniatures come already assembled and undercoated in said factions primary colours (grey for the germans, olive drab for the U.S. Forces). Vehicle/ larger minitaures require a small amountof assembly, this is extremely quick due to the snap together design of the vehicles. The down side is there is no paint detail to the miniatures with the quality is sufficient to play a game. The up side, it is cheap and ready to go. Downtime to game is very minimal.
The variety and theme of miniatures is pretty good. You can definately theme a force, be it around jump pack U.S. Special Forces or bloodythirsty gorillas.

DUST Units.
Each unit has a card which contains all the details needed for play (including unit numbers, weapons and special abilities)

Units: Unit design is pre-costed. When you buy a unit, you buy it with a set number of models and set equipment. This makes it easy to mix and match units to obtain a desirable force in alsmost any configuration. When you buy a unit you receive the models and the units combat card. The card has all the units specific details – health, armour, attacking values versus different armour/ vehicle types, movement and special rules. Everything you need to run that unit is right there in front of you, like a portion of an army list.

DUST Sniper Unit with Spotter.
Snipers are very powerful offensively. The reverse the dice chances to hit (so hit on a 1,2,3,4 and miss on a 5,6) and ignore armour and cover! Pew Pew.

Rules: Basically, units succeed on a 5+ and roll multiple dice depending on how good a unit is at doing something. So for example a weapon with a lot of shots might roll 7 dice (6 sided) and every roll that is a 5 or a 6 succeeds. There are specially printed dice to add to the flavour. A 6 sided black dice with blank sides except for 2 sides that are marked with a crosshair on them.

The general game flow is:

– Command Phase: Roll a dice per unit on the table. Successes indicate orders which can be given in the command phase. The side with the LOWEST successes goes first.

– Main Game Phase: This is where the majority of actions and reactions take place. Actions are move, shoot, close combat. DUST also allows REACTIONS. When an enemy unit takes an action within 12″ of one of your units you can use one action to REACT. That react can also be a move, shoot or close combat. It makes for a dynamic game and a lot of counters!

– End Phase: Tidy up, counter reset. The usual things that happen.

The game follows the ‘My turn, your turn’ methodology where each players side has it’s full turn before their opponent. Each unit has 2 actions per turn and these cover moving, shooting, close combat, reactions and commands.

Units/ Unit Cards have:

– movement, how far they can move

– and a ‘unit’ rating which indicates how armoured and survivable they are

– Weapon and Special rules

Each weapon has a table that is cross-referenced against the targets ‘unit’ value in the form of (for example) 2/1. That means there are two shots (2 dice rolled) and each success does 1 damage. Alternatively 1/3 would indicate a single shot but success would deal 3 damage. As a general rule shots with more damage are good for penetrating vehicle armour whereas lots of shots are good for clearing out troops.

Weapon ranges are often short (say 16″) and the game is very much played at that close range.

There are current 3 factions with more on the way.

Cost: Very reasonable cost for this game. I don;t have exact costs here unfortunately but a couple of hundred dollars will get you the Rulebook and bigger than average game army, including vehicles. DUST represents good value for money if you like the rules (and they won;t be to everyone’s taste).

A look down the battlefield shows a majority of units from both sides.

Summary: Overall the gameplay is fairly dynamic with different phases giving the option for players to obtain the upper hand. We also found that once we had the game details sorted out and knew what our weapons and abilities did, game turns were also quite speedy. Again, it doesn’t show as much polish as games that have been around longer (and have been through more revisions), however it is an enjoyable game.

I do have some issues with the COMMAND PHASE, it appears that it could be left out completely and the game would run in a similar manner. I can see how they were trying to add a new dynamic but when commands can only be issues within 12″ of your army leader it REALLY makes it hard to use. I think it is a challenge to the game, and one I am not used to. If you can pre-plan your command phase you can take a strong position.

Close Combat is also a challenge. You need to be within 3″ to issue a close combat order. With 2 actions you need one order to get into range and one order to initiate the close combat. Where the difficulty lies is that as you get to within 12″, enemy units can REACT to you. That means they can simply move 6″ away and you will be out of range for Close Combat. Very difficult to assault unless you have specialist assault units (maybe that is the way the game is designed)

The action also takes place in a limited area on the board. Most weapons have 16″ range, take into effect a 6″ move and you get a 24″ effective game zone. We played on a 6′ x 4′ table and only used half at most.

Many thanks to DG for the game!

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