Dust Tactics is a pulpy, alternate history game set in a world where WWII didn’t end so rapidly and is, in fact, ongoing after the date it ended in our world. Access to strange technology has advanced all sides forward – perhaps most especially the Germans – to the point where there are now walking tanks, laser weapons and where the more esoteric weapons of the genuine war are far more common. It’s a boardgame/skirmish game hybrid, with simple, accessible rules based upon the ‘Dust’ world of Paolo Parente.Background
The Dust world is one where WWII has ended up in, essentially, a stalemate and the world has settled into three blocs. Allies, Axis and the Sino-Soviets. Thanks to discovered and exploited alien(?) technology things are more advanced than the late 40’s setting might lead you to believe. The world is still at war, but it is a war with lasers, rocket planes and other pulp-science apparatus as well as zombies and genetically engineered gorillas. Yes, it’s a little gonzo, but it’s also pretty bloody wonderful for all that. You take the part of one side or another (US Rangers or German soldiers) in the basic set, battling in Antarctica over the research bases the Axis have there.
Dust Tactics uses a very, very simple system. Troops are organised into squads of 5 (or 5+Hero) and vehicles are treated independently. The board is made up – usually – of 9 boards, each of 9 squares. Each square houses a vehicle, or a squad. The terrain is broken up with wall sections and with crates and tank traps that provide cover.
You take turns to activate units and each unit can – normally – take two actions. Move, Shoot and any combination thereof. Certain units have special abilities that they can use – such as berserk which lets you reroll an attack – or disposable, limited use weaponry like underslung grenade launchers that you can use in a pinch.
Attack and defence is handled by 6-sided dice, divided into four blank sides and two ‘target’ sides. To resolve attacks you roll dice and the targets, if they come up, qualify as hits. So it’s essentially a very simple dicepool system.
There are expansions coming out, though whether they’ll fulfil the promise of the basic game and the stated aims/expansions of the booklet (the game’s been through at least two developers) remains to be seen, but I hope so. I’m a little worried to see the more esoteric and high-tech expansion units coming first, I’d rather see some more basic unit options.
Personally, I’m really holding out for the Sino-Soviet mecha and soldiers – always had a weakness for Communist design and iconography – so I hope the game succeeds and continues to expand, at least to the point where I can get some Soviet and British troops!
The Antarctic setting of the base game is also a little disappointing, bleak and uninteresting visually and I’d rather not paint my figs in arctic camo, as it will make the troops hard to distinguish from one another. This is all nitpicking.
The game is simplistic, but that also means that it’s fast to play and for someone with limited time to game, that’s a boon. Now I just need people to play against!
On the Plus Side
On the Minus Side