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Your review of Dust Wars:Tactics...

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#1 johnwiser



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Posted 08 August 2010 - 04:42 AM

I am hoping we get some reviews from those who played this at Gen Con (or saw this being played and have a good grasp of what we can expect). I, like many others, are looking forward to these reviews and hope that "Dust Wars: Tactics" will provide a solid and fun game for us all.

What has me pulled toward this game is the theme (very much enjoy the idea of alien tech mixed with history), mechs, and the whole grid system itself (something about grid systems that make these type of games easier for me to teach those who have never played these type of games). However, we all know that just because it looks super cool and the theme is spot on, the meat of any game is the rules (which in turn leads into gameplay and so on and so forth).


So what is review of this new game, "Dust Wars: Tactics"? How does it play? Did you enjoy the flow of play? What did you not like about it? I thank any and all for taking the time to post a reply and hope that you enjoyed your time at Gen Con `10. I hope to make it to Gen Con `11 myself and with only being three hours away, I am thinking it is going to happen and am planning things out at we speak (hey, never to early to start saving money for new games and a weekend of fun, right?).

#2 johnwiser



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Posted 08 August 2010 - 06:07 AM

Forgive me for my oversight as I seem to had thought this was called "Dust Wars: Tactics", it is just "Dust: Tactics".  Hmmm, wish there was an edit button but then again, I hope we hear some reiviews on this game very soon.

It use to be that we would be hearing things from the first day of play as people like to have their voices heard. Now everything is silent and we are awaiting word on if this was a hit with fellow gamers...

#3 Chimaera



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Posted 08 August 2010 - 07:25 AM

Yup! Would be good to hear some reviews. They would certainly make my mind up on if to buy the deluxe set or not. Dust Tactics & Earth Reborn are on my watch list at the moment. Even BGG has no reviews up as of yet which is surprising.

#4 tmink



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Posted 08 August 2010 - 03:52 PM

Random observations based on looking through my copy (standard) after 2  games at GenCon:

1. Play appears to  be balanced. There were 76 games played to determine which faction would win a large promotional unit. That is, each person who played for the side that won overall would get the prize, (I didn't)  Well,  it was a 38-38 tie with a playoff match between Paolo Parente and one of FFG's staff (sorry, didn't get his name) [Axix won]  I'd call that balanced.

2, The standard figures are fantastic looking look to be durable. It is easy to tell which soldier carries which weapon.The packaging protects the figures, so no need to buy foam or additional storage.

3. The unit stat cards are huge and very readable. They are well organized  and contain all the information needed to reference your units. Same for the game reference cards. Now get this: They are ready for use with a dry erase or similar marker, but don't look like they are just cheaply laminated.

4. The game is very easy to play (at least with the quick play rules)  This does not imply that is not deep. Some who like to fuss after every minute detail and demand a massive rule book(s) will no doubt knock DT. For example the infantry units have a build  point value of 2 and mechanized units carry a 4. We played 8 point games. You are not required to add into the thousands with modifiers for weapons, etc.  The game does not require dozens of phases to go through for each turn.

5. The components outside of the unit figures are equally top notch. The tiles are thick like those in other FFGs. Rulebook and cards, same deal.

6. Considerations for  further expansions appear in the rulebook.  Attacks against aircraft are included on unit cards. DT seems to be well planned. I don't expect expansions to throw off the balance. (or so I hope)

7.  This is not an epic game as of yet . I don't see even the most involved scenario to take much more than 60 minutes. 

8. Fun? Hells, yeah.

9. You can easily determine each individual's weapon by looking at the unit card and the figure.

10. I saw the next release's (artillery) figures as well. I can hardly wait, but then again I'm pretty tapped out after GenCon and would appreciate the time needed to explore the provided units before adding more.  

11. This is NOT AT-43. Similar, yes, but each unit stands together with 1 stat card for all the soldiers. Many, many differences (for the better, IMO) although AT-43 players will see the good parts of that game's system remaining.  

Much  of what I said can be deduced from the rules.  Though it's not until  one sees and plays the game that appreciation of how tightly organized this game sytem is.

I had this hyped up so much beforehand that I waited in line for 90 minutes to get one of the first copies. Usually this is a set up for disappointment. Not this time. The wait and  paying full price was well worth it. Expectations exceeded.  I might add that I was rewarded for the wait by having Paolo Parente sign the game box.

I'm left too exhausted after 4 days of Gen Con to play right now. I'm content with rereading the rules this evening.  







#5 Dcal12



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Posted 09 August 2010 - 04:02 AM

Dude great review.  I agree with everything you said.  From the cards with all the information to the easily identifiable units.  I think it is a easy game to learn, but still has enough strategy to make it interesting.  Looking forward to expansions, that will  address the leaders of the squads, artillery and aircraft.  Just a fun game.

#6 johnwiser



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Posted 09 August 2010 - 11:09 AM

tmink, Thank you for taking the time and posting your thoughts about this game. With Gen Con `10 being done and over with and very few reviews (as a matter of fact this is the first review I have seen), I was starting to get worried that it may not have been that deep.


I am looking forward to getting this game and if all goes to plan, I am going to go ahead and take the jump with the pre-painted version. I hope you enjoy your copy and once again, thank you very much for your time and sharring your thoughts.

#7 sandersn



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Posted 11 August 2010 - 01:41 AM

I purchased the game at GenCon and I'll give you my thoughts after playing only two games with my friend there at the con.  I did not sit down and do the demo but I did watch one to make sure we were doing things correctly.  There's still the possibility we are playing something wrong and I'll admit that ahead of time.

I'll just say this up front: I regret buying this game.

The miniatures and artwork look great.  I wasn't planning on getting the game until I saw them in person.  When I saw some of the preview pictures on the internet ahead of time, I thought "well, great... that looks like a mini-van walking on four legs with a tank turret thrown on top".  That is definitely not the case of the robots when you see them up close.  Great levels of detail and really neat looking figures.  The infantry is so-so.  Painted up they look great.  Unpainted they look decent and it's still hard sometimes to tell at a glance what the different weapons are.

The board components are great quality.  I'm not worried about the map pieces getting bent or damaged because it's very heavy duty stuff for cardboard.  They are two-sided with outdoors on one side and indoors on the other.  I did not try any indoor maps.

The ammo crates and tank traps you get are ok.  The tank traps look like big plastic caltrops with the bottom cut off so they sit flat.    The ammo crates are functional.  For anyone who played AT-43 and enjoyed the level of detail on those railroad containers you got, prepare to be disappointed. 

From a component standpoint and what you get for your $100, I can't really complain.

I come from a background in other miniatures games.  I've played all the GW games, Warmachine/Hordes, AT-43, most iterations of Confrontation, Malifaux, etc.  I'm trying to appreciate the differences between the massive rulesets of some of these games vs. the 22 pages of rules that we get with Dust.  I don't always want to sit and play a 2-3 hour game of 40K and have to look obscure things up in the rulebook and/or separate army codex. 

But the problem I get to is that in the two games that we played, there was very little that actually happened.  We may have used a bad scenario but there was very little to make this game stand out and make me want to play again.  I really felt disappointed after playing.  Was there some strategy involved?  Maybe.  But it wasn't deep or interesting enough for me.  I'll walk you through the game and try to show you while I feel this way.

In both missions, we played "General Assault", which is where both sides get to use all 16 of their build points (AP).  Each side ends up with two walkers, 3 squads of 5 dudes, and a hero model that should be assigned to a squad (but doesn't have to be).  This scenario has an open corridor down the middle of the map and the attacker's goal is to get a unit behind a wall on the defender's side of the table in 8 turns.  The attacker has the ability to come down the board edges and try to breach the wall instead of walking down the corridor of death.

Pieces walk on from the board edge.  To determine initiative, you roll 3 of the dice (or 4 if you are the allies because of their hero's special rule).  Whoever rolls the most hits wins.  The winner gets to choose who moves a unit first.  In each game, it seemed like we double moved all of our squads onto the board, delaying the walkers as much as possible.  The Defender in this scenario gets a little jammed up because he only has three squares in which to exit his base but if he doesn't, he doesn't have LOS to the side of the map, allowing the attacker to move up unmolested.

So then the robots come onto the board and here's where I have a big problem with the game.  Each side has a robot that is good at anti-armor and another that is better at short-range.  What we found happening was the long-range walkers would basically annihilate each other.  Whoever got the second round of shooting off first would win that battle.  Basically, a robot would walk on the table and shoot it's range Unlimited gun in turn one.  The allies get 6 dice at unlimited range and the germans get 7 (because all the robots are the same armor class).  In turn two, whoever wins initiative activates his big gunner first and then uses "Sustained Fire", which allows you to re-roll misses.  Walkers only have 4 health and that pretty much guarantees a kill. 

7 dice with sustained fire averages out to be something like 3.8888 hits.  6 dice with sustained fire is 3.3333 hits (if my math is right).  Whoever manages to get sustained fire off first blows up the other robot.  You can move and then attack or attack and then move... but then you sit there playing a dull waiting game until someone makes a move or gets a good roll.  Damage has no effect on the robots until they die.  There's no weapons getting damaged or movement penalties or anything else.

The allied robots both have the "Jump" ability, which we never used.  It basically will take up your entire turn and allow you to leap a squad or a tank trap.  The germans have one robot with self-repair (roll a die for each point of damage taken and get a health back for a hit roll) and charge.  Charge gives you an extra square of movement but you have to get adjacent to your opponent.  With the german robot, you only get 4 dice to attack with.  Unless you're going up against a heavily wounded robot, he's just going to sustained fire and kill you next round.

When you're attacking vs. infantry the problem with sustained fire can seem even worse because squads get decimated very very quickly.  Each normal soldier only has a single point of health so even average turns of shooting will leave a squad with only 1 or 2 guys left standing.  The defender gets to choose casualties so it seemed like most of the men in the squad were just ablative wounds for your special weapon.  The allied "Pounder" robot can throw 10 dice against a german squad at range 4 or less.  Without sustained that's 3.333 casualties.  With sustained it's 5.555.  Ouch.

Now the cover mechanism for infantry is pretty neat.  If you're in soft cover, you roll the amount of hits you've taken.  Any hit you roll is a save.  For hard cover, any misses you roll is a save (because there are more misses than hits on the dice).  It's quick and easy. 

We also had some issues with the squad balances.  Each infantry squad in this basic game is worth 2 build points (AP).  They each have the same movement, armor, and number of guys.  Each has 4 basic troops and 1 special weapon.  Sometimes you'll get some other special weapons like panzerfausts or under-barrel grenade launchers but we never even used them. 

The Germans have laser weapons which allow you to re-roll successful hits.  You continue to re-roll until you miss.  This can combine with the sustained fire rule.  It can also be combined with the German hero's Berserk rule which allows her and the squad to re-roll failed attacks once per game (and it combines with sustained fire, too).  This is basically an instant-kill turn if the Germans can pull it off (and it happened in both of our games with no problems).  The allied had a similar instant-kill squad armed with shotguns and a flame-thrower but they had to be at range 1 to get it to work. 

I don't know.  Maybe I'm being too harsh on the game.  Maybe we didn't maneuver around enough to appreciate the strategies of the game.  Maybe we didn't play the "cool" scenario.  Maybe the game will get better when there are more units and armies available.  They have a ton of special rules in the rulebook that aren't used (command squads, snipers, etc.).

But for $100... I regret it.  I wanted a game that could stand on it's own, not require expansions to keep me interested.  I wanted a game with deeper strategy than I'm seeing here.  I don't want "battle checkers" and I feel like that's what I got. 

And that's a darned shame too because when I bought the game, they introduced me to Paolo Parente and he's a great guy.  I only shook his hand and then he autographed my copy of the game, but you could just tell he was actually happy to have someone buying the game and interested in the world he's created.


#8 Chimaera



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Posted 12 August 2010 - 03:55 AM

A sobering and slightly disappointing read all at the same time. Although there were some good points you mention and I do believe the command squads could add a lot to the game when they arrive. I was also hoping for a bit more from the base set.  If your points are fairly made, which I assume they are. Then I hope the Artillery expansion will deliver the extra layer of strategy/tactics required.

It will be interesting to read some more reviews on DT to get a a balanced opinion. In fairness this is the only bad one I have read although that doesn't mean I will dismiss it. This review does fire a warning shot across the bows though, and maybe the DT team and FFG should take note as they would able to make corrections/revisions quite easily with each new expansion released. The German laser team seems a bit overpowerd at the moment and maybe they could bring a damage table in for the mechs? Maybe they could also introduce a hull down mechanic for the mechs to give them some cover at the expense of range/LOS? It would be a lot better for the DT team and FFG to make revsions early on before the game is set in stone. I would imagine it would also be cheaper for them & us to make a correction at this stage.

What would you change to make the game better at this point sandersn?

#9 volnon



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Posted 12 August 2010 - 04:33 AM

 Regardless of sandersn's review, I will buy the game.  I have seen far too often someone play a game a few times and call it "broken", then play it again a few months later and love it... sometimes the timing is all wrong.


#10 blkdymnd



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Posted 12 August 2010 - 04:48 AM

yeah, I would like to have seen the latest reviewer try two different scenario's instead of the same one.  I also think it was silly for them to just get in a duke out between their big gun robots.


I can tell you, we played 2 games of the most basic scenario at our LGS and the four players that played it all thought it was pretty top notch.  The first scenario is a kill em all scenario, but you only get to pick 2 squads and a robot.  There was a bit of strategy in both games, knowing you only had one robot and just a couple squads, so our infantry tried hugging walls to try to get some cover saves from opposite corners and such.  My American BBQ squad, I made a mistake with as i forgot his robot hadn't gone yet and I threw them out in the open and they got chewed up a bit.  Though with basically a 5+ to hit on the dice, even with sustained fire, it's never a given you're going to get a bunch of hits.  We feel the game is pretty greatly balanced.  We're going to hit up a different scenario each week and see how it plays out over time and experience.


Also, I can tell you that if a tabletop conversion PDF wasn't in the works, we probably wouldn't have picked up the game at all, because I really feel the game will shine once artillery and such comes out on a bigger table without the restrictions of the tiles and the games terrain pieces.

#11 Paradox 01

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 04:12 AM

While Sandersn had some legitimate complaints, I think there's more to it than that.  I'm siding more with Tmink.  I got to play a demo game at GenCon and I had a blast.  It's not always easy to blast away with your walkers, especially if you have a terrain-dense board. 

Gameplay was fast & brutal, but I think that was FFG's intent.  Like someone mentioned earlier, other games like 40k often take a few hours to play.  Not so Dust.

My only complaint about the game was with the walkers.  Don't get me wrong, they look awesome and are highly detailed, but I wish FFG had done two things differently.

First, use a better grade of plastic.  The walkers are so light, I'm afraid I'm gonna break one every time I pick it up.

Second, include decal sheets instead of pre-applying them.  I'm looking forward to painting mine, but I have to either take extreme care in painting around the decals or suck it up and by some appropriate 1:48 WWII decals somewhere else.

Other than that, I'm glad I picked up the game at GenCon and I can't wait for future expansion sets and models.

#12 marcemtp



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Posted 14 August 2010 - 05:51 AM

I was at GenCon and did the demo. The game rules were easy to grasp leaving few questions when i read the rules. The models looked great and if I knew about the deluxe set I would have purchased it, but overall I enjoy the game and gameplay. My 12 and 14 year old sons like the game also due to how quick you can play a match. 

#13 ritterton



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Posted 15 August 2010 - 04:30 PM

Your points 4, 6 and 7 have helped me feel even better about my ordering this one.  In this great interview -http://www.youtube.com/user/HaydenTeeter#p/u/3/Bjb5TcfTFbs I liked the fact that Paolo noted that you could play this one after a long day of work.  That is one of the things that has me a bit frustrated with Arkham Horror, or even Tannhauser...you have to invest about an hour getting things all set up.  Also, I need something that my kids and I can play and let's just say my wife won't approve of AH, and is somewhat dismayed at Tannhauser...but Dad plays the bad guys, so that helps. 

Can't wait to get this and a few of the expansion tiles.


#14 Doc Savage

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 11:28 AM

Sandersn -

Thanks for taking the time with the detailed review and I will look very carefully before buying into this game. I haven't read the rules yet, but if the Deluxe version is not available at online retailers I will probably have to sit this on out for now.

Visit DocSavageTales.blogspot.com for cool stuff!

#15 toneturbo



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Posted 18 August 2010 - 04:02 PM

This is a very fast and brutal game.  And I like that.  While the mechanics of the game are pretty simple, the units and their abilities add more strategy to the game.  My favorite games are the ones that use all of the units and have lots of terrain and cover.

The units in this set are very balanced.  Each side has a mix of anti-tank (long range), anti-personal (close range) and general purpose units.  The heroes give you good taste of how special abilities can impact a squad's capabilities and survivability.

At this point, its good to learn the basics - how to use cover, how to take advantage of line-of-sight (LOS), finding the best use of unit abilities and how & when to commit your unit types.  It is also a time to decide your overall strategy based on your mission type.  All  units can take two actions per activation. The temptation to shoot-shoot (sustained attack) are strong, but that frequently results your unit getting shot up or killed soon after.  I've been leaning more towards shoot+move tactics to keep more of my units around longer while whittling down the enemy.

In reference to robots losing abilities as they get damaged - with just 4 health they usually are not around long enough to suffer much.  I think giving them a damage handicap will reduce their value too much and too soon.  Robots slugging it out like heavy weight boxers has frequently resulted in one damaged tank left on the battlefield hoping to kill the remaining infantry before they get him.  The infantry has frequently won.

A couple of the units on both sides seem to be very powerful the first couple of times you encounter them (lasers, shotguns and flamethrowers) until you begin stay out of their range/LOS, use cover and destroy them as soon as possible.

The vehicles are 1/48 scale models.  They are partially articulated but do feel a bit light.  The infantry can spin at the waist line.

This game is easy to teach and learn and it is fun to play. it does take about 45 - 60 minutes to play a game from setup to finish.

I hope they do well with it.  I'm looking forward the new expansions.

#16 templar72



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Posted 19 August 2010 - 06:59 AM

I saw the game at GenCon but didn't get time to play in a demo.  Finally got to play the game last night with a regular gaming buddy that purchased it while there.   His experience with the game after playing the first 3 scenarios was almost identical to Sandersn's above.  After playing it last night I sadly agree.  I can say that the game is EXTREMELY vanilla at best.  We had setup played and finished our first game within 30 minutes.  After we were done I kept asking if he was sure that was all there was to the game and he assured me that was it. 

We went through some of the other scenarios and talked about the rules and revisted the rulebook and yep it's just VANILLA.  For a $100 game I really expected a LOT more out of the rules.  The miniatures, components and the models are great.  I would even consider buying it just to use the figures and throw away the rules.  It felt like $95 worth of components and maybe $5 worth of rules that were tossed in as an afterthought. 

If you want a very simple game that game that can introduce young players to gaming and be completed very quickly THIS is that game.  It just felt like a big game of chicken that ended in a frenzy of dice rolling that left you feeling less than satisfied.  I would catagorize this as an entry level game.

I absolutely love the look of the game and REALLY wanted to love the game but was completely dissapointed.  The guy that bought it had carefully repackaged everything to sell it already, he said he was bummed that he had spent $100 on it.  After playing it I actually felt bad for him. 

To be clear I am not some accountant style gamer that likes overly complex systems that require book keeping and overly complicated charts.  But this game TOTALY lacks substance. 


Ed G

#17 Paradox 01

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 08:29 AM

I got to play a game with my roommate and a few buddies the other day and I have to say it only reinforced my previous experiences.

For our game, we used the first scenario in the book (Reconnaissance) and it reminded me of a game of chess with balls.  Lots of longitudinal fire lanes, but because of the complexity of move+move, move+ shoot, shoot+shoot, etc, no one person's action was given.

We did two-on-two, with each side split evenly (I controlled one half of the attackers with Hot Dog, Recon Boys and The Gunners and my teammate had Pounder and BBQ Squad w/attached Bazooka Joe while our opponents had Ludwig, Battle Grenadiers and Laser Grenadiers lined up on my side with Luther, Recon Grenadiers and Sigrid von Thaler on the other flank).

The only deciding factor was the fact that I'd played the game once before.  Not that I took advantage of that and cheated - there were plenty of instances where I consulted the rulebook and overturned actions that favored my team - but only because I was the only one in the room that had EVER played a game like this before.  And I'd only played a demo at GenCon where I picked up in the middle of an on-going game for someone else.


It was close at the end, and we all had fun.  I basically demoed the game for three other guys that had never played ANY kind of table-top strategy game and we all had a great time.


Any game that you can pick up in less than one half an hour and have a great time playing can't be bad at all.

#18 Chimaera



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Posted 19 August 2010 - 02:00 PM

I will still buy into this game and after reading the command squad rules it doesn't seem the game can truly be given a fair review until the first expansion arrives. I do get feeling  the command squad should have been in the base game but maybe price/size became an issue alternatively they wanted to bulk out the 1st expansion or maybe they wanted to layer the games complexity or they just wanted to make more money. The truth is probably lies in the mixture of the four although I would like to think it was the first :)

#19 Blamzero



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Posted 19 August 2010 - 04:22 PM

Just out of curiosity and to get a better comparison, what other miniature games or war games do the reviewers really like? We've had two negative reviews, and it sounds like they're the more mini savvy guys maybe, but not necessarily, and we also don't know which games are their personal favorites.  This might give people (like me) a better feeling for how our tastes align, and therefore how much I should take your review to heart.  So, for instance, Sandersn, you said you have played 40k, Warmachine, and some others, but do you most prefer 40k, WM, or something altogether different?

Also, in general, if you feel the game tries to be something and fails, what should it try to be?  For instance, the mat grid and simplicity of the basic rules reminds me of a very simplified Monsterpocalypse, where there's a lot of reliance on combos and special abilities, but since design on Dust started 10 years or more ago, it might be behind the state of the art as far as the complexity mini gamers have come to expect, which is one feeling I get.

#20 toneturbo



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Posted 22 August 2010 - 01:51 AM

 I have played miniature games for over 35 years.  I started out loving games like Starfleet Battles, Battledroid (which soon became BattleTech) and various WWII miniature games/rulesets (many were Avalon Hill Games).  Over the last  few years I've been a Wizkids Battlemaster for Mechwarrior, ran regular events and demoes at local stores for Axis & Allies Miniatures, Axis & Allies: War at Sea, and various other games like Wings of War.  I played a fair amount of Warmachine (Cygnar).  And most recently, I was a Privateer Press Pressganger for Monsterpocalypse.

Also,In the past, I've posted a few fan generated scenarios for Star Was Starship Battles and Axis & Allies Miniatures. I'm thinking about doing one for Dust Tactics soon.

I enjoy playing Star Wars Miniatures.  Soon I will give Tannhauser another go now that the rules have been revised and new units are out.

I believe many people will find Dust-Tactics to be a fun game of itself.  The real question for many seems to be whether or not its a fun $100 game?  I have seen it listed for as low $70 online.

It has simple rules.  It doesn't have Opportunity Fire, Suppression Fire , Morale and armor facing/penetration rules.  But I don't mind that.  Dust Tactics plays fast and is down right brutal.  And every expansion will add more units, options and tactics.

Do I wish it was cheaper? Yes.

Do I wish it had painted figures in the standard set? Yes.

For me, the simple fact is that these big box Euro games are getting more and more expensive.  AT-43 cost less now, but it was relatively expensive for its time when it first came out, too.  I like the theme, figures, quality and gameplay enough to keep going.  And so far the people I have played with like it, too.

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