Sunday, 6 February 2011

Dystopian Rules Review and Prussian Work in Progress

It has been a while since I wrote about anything constructive. I tend to flit between my smurf like musings and modeling and painting content, which tends to reflect how my hobby experiences react in life. So i thought I would try and marry the two aspects in this post, which will be looking at my experiences into a new and exciting game...Spartan Games Dystopian Wars.

Spartan Games' Dystopian Wars was first brought to my attention by my flat mate, who was looking for a suitable navel combat game to play. Initially I wasn't keen on the models for some of the factions and became more interested in the Firestorm Armada range instead. But many of the members at my local club all put in orders for various fleets so like the blue sheep I am I followed suit, placing an order for the rule book and the Prussian fleet box. The items all arrived at around the same time for us all and we began to have our first couple of games throughout this past week at club. I would like to deal with some of the positive and negative aspects to the game as a whole and how my friends and I are coping.

The quality of the figures and the rule book:

I was immediately impressed with the quality of the resin casts I received in the Prussian box. Similarly, my friends were impressed with their British and Japanese ships. The only defect on my casts was an abundance of flash around the base on the frigates and cruisers. This was easy to remove and overall the pre-base coating stage was very quick. My flat mate had a minor defect on the railings around the prow of his battleship and one of the other guys received an incorrect turret for his Japanese battleship. On the whole the casts were crisp, clean and even with no air bubbles to be found.

The price of these figures is simply amazing. You can pick up a complete fleet box for £31. That's a complete fleet, planes and FIG stat cards for less than the cost of a landraider. I could double up my fleet easily and cheaply by just adding another fleet box and this would allow me to change the squadron sizes for certain ships and expand the game size allowing for greater game dynamics and options. Collecting a fleet is just easy easy easy and doesn't cost the Earth (Are you listening GW)!

The rule book is also of an excellent quality for its price range. You receive a good amount of general faction fluff to begin with allowing you to get into the mood and begin planning themed games and campaigns. Its also includes full rules and all the currently released faction stats. Extra material has been added in here and there to bulk out the fluff (I particularly like the FSA cannon diagram) along with some in-game pictures. It is also a massive positive to mention that the entire rule book is in full colour. It just feels good quality and value for money.

Unfortunately, colour pictures of the models are few and far between and so the product range doesn't get the attention it deserves. There is also no painting or hobby advice contained within, which is something I personally like to have in my game supplements.

In conclusion, The quality of the model range is excellent by the standards of other resin products and becomes simply flawless when you consider the cost. The rule book is also a lovely thing to own for the price.

The Rules:

The game its self is simple enough and operates an exploding dice system, which potentially allows even the smallest frigate to damage a battleship with luck. Based on the relative simplicity of the rules, the game should run smoothly and quickly allowing for fast clean fun. The problem is, this has far from been a reality for me and my friends.

The rule book can only be described as a total, complete, chaos. The structure and layout of the book is confusing and occasionally conflicting and often the text description is at odds with the picture diagrams. It took my flatmate and I 20 minutes to work out how to attack and damage a ship. All I can say is thank god for the picture diagrams and example scenarios that they included to accompany each section otherwise I may still be arguing over some of the rules descriptions even now!

In all, the rules are simple without omitting complexity. In other words, they allow you to focus on your overall strategy without having to worry about complex or unnecessary rules, which is exactly what you want from a navel based combat game like Dystopian Wars. Unfortunately, you have to devote a considerable amount of time deciphering the rule book before you can begin playing.

The Games:

I have managed to play two games of Dystopian Wars using navel units only. I found the games to be very brutal and quick. We left out the other dynamics such as tiny fliers and boarding instead just focusing on getting moving, shooting and moral sorted and so the games may last longer when we start to add in the more complex stuff. We noticed that when ships get into range bands 1 and 2 they become lethal! Especially when you start link firing and planning proper attack runs. The initiative phase becomes really important and ships just get totally smashed!. It's a lot of fun and it is quick, so you can rack them up and go again in no time.      

What is really nice about the system is that it's easy to make each faction very different from the others. This makes it difficult to face another fleet from the same faction but really livens up games against others. For instance, the Prussian ships are really fast and have a large complement of boarders. They also use a lot of tesla weaponry, which has a chance of frying the enemies boarders and so the Prussian strategy is all about getting in close quickly and unleashing a barrage of close range tesla death! Finally, this is followed up by a series of boarding actions to take the enemy ship! Good times. Therefore, the factions are  truly unique and characterful in multiple system dynamics.

My Ships:

Finally, I'll finish off with some work in progress shots of my battleship. I have gone for a German field gray colour contrasted with rich coloured decking and brass. I also wanted to highlight the tesla weaponry with electric light effects but I'm not too happy with them so far. It may end up on the scrap heap.


  1. They certainly are nice models i have to say. Glad the new game systems working out! Will you be at club on Wednesday? I'd love to see the models!

    On a more personal gaming note, Leanne whooped my ass today in 40K using my finished 'Nid list 9KP to 1KP!! Very embarrasing!

  2. Some insights there. That's the best review I can remember reading for the game. Learning new rules is not always fun, but at least in most groups issues of clarity are lessened by discussion and concession, and house rules are the answer. I also hope GW are listening, and every other games producer for that matter.

  3. @Tim: Holy shit mate, how did that happen? Yes i'll be at club, i'm sure you could borrow a fleet to use if you wanted to play it for yourself.

    @Porky: You seriously need a full committee to work out some of the rules. We are all trying to laern and play together so that we all read from the same page. Otherwise we could end up 2 separate conclusions for the same rule. There's no point in learning bad habbits basicaly.

  4. Since I'm more of a painter than a gamer I'll skip the rulles discussion and just say that seing your painted battleship is tempting me to buy even more miniatures when I really shouldn't. Good work there!