Hello and welcome to another edition of Game Night! here on Thunderstomp! This is usually the place where I talk about games I have played and suchlike. Today’s installment of Game Night! will focus mostly on Dystopian Wars, a game I talked about in Wednesday’s post. Also, I’ll start with some general info for those of you interested in joining me in a Blood in the Badlands campaign. I talked about it a while ago and this seems as good a time as any to provide some initial info so that all those who said they’d want to join can get started with planning their armies!
Right, off we go!
Dystopian Wars – A Beginner’s Guide to the Game
Children, gather round and make yourselves comfortable. Allow me to tell you a tale. The Tale of how we started playing Dystiopian Wars.
A few months ago my good mate Balephon suggested we try out a new game. As I have mentioned on here a few times before, my group and I were on the lookout for a new game to play. We mostly play Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40K, but occasionally like to play other stuff. Necromunda and Blood Bowl being old favourites, but we aren’t averse to trying out other companies’ games either.
And so Balephon, in a task usually reserved for yours truly, suggested trying out a game called Dystopian Wars. It involves fleets of steampunkish ships, airplanes, and land vehicles, battling in a similar vein as most wargames. Sounds quite nice, since the combination of Naval, Air, and Land units immediately sparks all manner of campaign ideas. With forces that can fight in different surfaces and can all interact in the same game, DW potentially lends itself very well to a campaign of some sorts.
The next step was checking out the models. Unfortunately for us, none of the nearby retailers carry DW, so we were forced to look online for the models. Usually this is not a bad thing, since the interwebz are brimming with images of miniatures. The same was true for Dystopian Wars. The Spartan Games website has a gallery of images and even just using the most basic of Google-fu will yield untold images of the various model ships used in DW.
And here we hit our first bump.
The models did not look very good.
I personally looked at dozens of pictures (as I’m sure the others did too) and I have to admit that none of the models really spoke to me. Usually when I look at a range of models there are at the very least a few models I like. While I’m not a fan of Privateer Press’ range in general, I absolutely love the gator Warcasters and Solo’s. Similarly, Wyrd’s Malifaux range has some really awesome miniatures. I don’t like everything, but I at least like some. Dystopian Wars did not do that for me.
And that was pretty much it for DW at the time. It was suggested and then mostly discarded. We had a small Fantasy Doubles tournament coming up and focussed on that instead. Infinity was mentioned as a cool alternative and we started looking at that.
Of course, this would be a poor tale if this were the end of Dystopian Wars for us, no?
While at the tournament (read about how we did here), we noticed there was plenty of other stuff to do as well. The local game store had brought out lots of stuff for sale at the venue and among the usual GW stuff there was a little corner of Spartan Games as well as some Infinity. So, being interested in other model ranges like any good wargamer is, in between our battles we would walk over to check out the models for a closer look. There was also a (very) small DW tournament being played as well. I think there were half a dozen participants there, tops. Not a very popular game then.
So we checked out the models and lo and behold, Dystopian Wars ships actually look a lot better in the flesh than they do online.
Don’t get me wrong, the range is still not my favourite, but they actually come out rather good. The Kingdom of Britannia looks properly sturdy, the Covenan of Antarctica looks steampunkishly futuristic, and the Prussians zeppelins really rock. Seriously, a flight deck on top of a zeppelin? Awesome.
Still, we had the problem of suppliers. No one in our immediate area carried the range and while you can always order stuff online, we didn’t want to pay shipping costs for every little thing we decided to buy. Since we knew absolutely nothing yet about the game play and what is ‘good’ and what isn’t, so didn’t know what to buy.
Luckily for us, a web shop with its office near (most of) us, and, it has to be said, we have some ties with, decided to carry the range. They offer the option of picking up any order yourself and dispensing with shipping fees, which for us was helpful.
And so, with me always being interested in different rules sets and game mechanics, I quickly ordered a rulebook and a starterset of the Covenant of Antarctica to get ready for a test game of Dystopian Wars.
And that concludes the Tale of how we started playing Dystopian Wars. Let’s continue with how we actually got on, i.e. with the actual Beginner’s Guide part:
Army selection is very simple. Spartan Games does a good job of having a cheap Starter Set for every faction, each of approximately equal points value (about 700 pts). To get started, all you need is a starter set per player and a rulebook, dice, a range rule, and you’re good to go! Compared to Warhammer, the start-up costs of this game is cheap as chips. The starter sets also do a good job of combining naval and air units, allowing players to learn about the different units immediately (really, everything, whether it flies, floats or rolls, basically works the same).
|Not out game! But looks cool, right?|
Dystopian Wars is a miniature game that works with alternate activation. First you activate a squadron, then I activate a squadron, and so on until every squadron on the table is activated. At the start of every turn players determine Initiative, with the winner going first.
Every model has a stat card on which you can find most of the info you need to use it in battle. You’ll need a copy of the special rules section (which is in the rulebook) for your units’ special rules, but everything else is on the stat card. All the weapons on the model have a statline, divided over 4 different range bands. The number for each range band is how many dice you roll for damage. Every range band is a multiple of 8”. So a weapon that has stats 11/8/5/3 would roll 11 dice when shooting at an enemy in range band 1 (8”), 8 dice in range band 2 (16”), 5 dice in range band 3 (24”), and 3 dice in range band 4 (32”). A dice hits on a score of 4+ (they use standard D6s), with every 6 counting as 2 hits. In addition, every 6 rolled allows you to roll an extra dice to hit. A fun mechanic that allows even weapons with a low number of dice to deal enough damage to large vessels. You know, potentially…
Every model also has two damage ratings and a certain number of hull points. The first damage rating is the number of hits any given shot needs to do a point of damage. The second damage rating, suitably called Critical Rating, is the number of hits needed before rolling on the dreaded critical hits table. Yes, there is a result on there that will blow up the ship, but only if you’re very lucky with your crit roll! Every point of damage done removes a Hull point from the target vessel and any vessel reduced to 0 Hull points is removed from the game.
Of course, there a few additional rules that modify either the number of dice rolls (cover or linked fire, for example) or the target number to hit (cover, mostly), but you’ll see that when you play the game.
Another mechanic of the game are the Turning Templates. Being large ships, cumbersome tanks, and non-to-nimble bomber aircrafts, not all vehicles can turn as swiftly. As such, every model uses one of four different Turning Templates and every model has a fixed amount of inches they have to move straight forward at the start of their activation before turning. The bigger the vessel the longer it takes for it to turn. This adds a level of tactical thinking as you have to make sure your vehicles can move where you want them to in later turns. Fun stuff :)
And that’s pretty much the basics covered. There are other rules (ramming, boarding, special rules for units, to name but a few) and all these are easy enough to understand when you’ve read through the rulebook and start playing your first few games.
We played our first few games the past weekend and we had a blast. So far we have four players having bought a starter set, with two more having pledged to buy a set as well. As mentioned, I’m playing Covenant of Antarctica (obviously the best and coolest faction available), which, surprisingly, only one other player has chosen to play. I guess everyone else like the challenge of making the lesser factions work!
So far the games have been fun and balanced. I won one of the two games I played in, and got totally blasted out of the water in the other. Good fun! I’ll be looking for revenge versus those darned Blazing Sun pirates!
Already I’m thinking of stuff to do with campaigns, different scenario’s and suchlike.
For everyone looking for a fun (and fairly cheap) game to try out, I can heartily recommend Dystopian Wars. I’ll keep you informed of how we’re getting on!
Remember when Blood in the Badlands was released? <Cool, just noticed I called it Blood OF the Badlands in my first excited post on it here. Yay for proofreading on a blog!> We talked it over in our game group when it was released and it seemed there was a fair bit of interest in trying it out. Well, I for one always love a good campaign (still looking for someone to try out my Invasion Campaign with, btw! Bra’tac, fancy a go once your game room is finished?).
And for everyone who wants to get a little bit of a head start on getting ready for a Campaign, here’s what you have to do in preparation:
>Choose an army (duh)
>Create a (lord level) character, who will represent you on the field of battle. Give him equipment, magic items, a mount, whatever you want, as long as it is legal. He’s stuck with what you give him for the rest of the campaign, though! Give him a name and, if you like, a bit of background.
>Create two additional characters, who shall act as your lieutenants in the field. Same as above, really.
>Make a marker that is used to represent each of your characters on the map. In the book most players use Warmaster models for this, and I suppose some of us could do this too. But three bases numbered Uno, 2 , and III will work just as well! (caveat: this is only necessary if you’re doing an analogue map. If we use a digital one we’ll need digital markers as well!)
>Choose a cool song that you can use as an Anthem to play whenever you do something suitably cool. Challenge a neighbouring player, kill the opposing General in combat, unleash your Assassin on his unsuspecting level 4 wizard, anything fun really. Make sure you carry the mp3 file of this with you on your phone whenever you battle so you can access it whenever you need it. I’ve already chosen my theme song! (what do you mean this bit is not in the rules?! Well it damn well should be! *bobs head to theme song*)
>That’s it! All you need! After that all we need to do is decide on starting territories and then we’re good to go!
And just to make this a bit more fun, here are my three characters.
I present you with the three most feared members of the dreaded Order of the Moon Chaos Warrior Warband, famed for using the lethal Banner of Ghostly Wandering and making proud Dwarven Warriors flee before them!
Lord Thalenchar, the Lord of the Moon, Leader of the Order of the Moon.
Chaos Lord, Mark of Tzeentch, Rending Sword, Armour of Morrslieb, Necrotic Phylactery, Potion of Strength, Diabolic Splendour, riding a Manticore
Lord Thalenchar has led the Order of the Moon since it’s very inception. Worshipping the Chaos God Tzeentch in his guise of the cyclical Chaos moon Morrslieb, Thalenchar leads his band of chosen warriors across the Chaos Wastes and beyond, offering all he meets the same choice: “Join us, or die opposing us.” In recent times, more and more opponents have found out about the truth in the second part of that statement, and have chosen the first option.
Master Borazel, High Priest of the Moon, Leader of the Scorched.
Sorcerer Lord, Mark of Tzeentch, level 4, Spell Familiar, Talisman of Preservation, Healing Potion, Enchanted Shield, Stream of Corruption, Bloodcurdling Roar, Disc of Tzeentch.
Master Borazel is the greatest wizard in the Order of the Moon and one of the most learned followers of Tzeentch. Rumoured to originally have been a common Goblin Shaman, if true, Master Borazel has since transcended his humble beginnings and is now most famous for being able to convince the lesser races to fight in his name. He currently leads a band of warriors, comprised of many Ogres and other beasts.
Lady Arcyni, the Blade of Morrslieb, leader of the Rams of Midnight
Chaos Lord, Mark of Tzeentch, Axe of Khorne, Helm of Many Eyes, Talisman of Endurance, shield, Chariot.
Lady Arcyni has chosen to honour her God by performing the most profound form of change she knows: that from life to death. So far, she has yet to meet her match on the field of battle and many a Champion of Khorne has mistakingly believed himself superior to her in hand-to-hand combat. Her force of chariot-riding warriors is feared by all.
And that’s it for now. See you next time!