Dystopian Wars – Review (the game, my first battle, and starter fleets for CoA and EotBS)

All lined up and ready to go

I had my first game of Dystopian Wars last weekend (after ANUCON2011), with my Covenant of Antarctica versus my friend’s Empire of the Blazing Sun. I did take some photos of our deployment, but got so caught up in the game that I completely forgot to take any pictures during the game, oops!

Anyway, you get my thoughts about the game (and effectiveness of some of the ships in the CoA and EotBS starter boxes) interspersed with photos of our setup…

My left flank - 2 squadrons of 3 frigates

Covenant of Antarctica

These guys “shtick” is that they’re more advanced than the other races (being the source of all the technology in the first place), and theoretically have lower numbers. In game, this translates to their big ships having damn good turrets and secondary batteries which are also decent at range as well as shield generators, and their little ships being quick and nasty. Their points values are only slightly higher for the bigger ships, and their Assault Points (or boarding marines) aren’t actually that bad (except when compared against the Prussian Empire, which excells at boarding). CoA overall seem to be a mid-range force – close enough to use their guns to best effect, but far enough away that they won’t get boarded.

The frigates are so-so – since they have torpedoes and batteries, they can’t link their two weapons systems together unlike EotBS, FSA, and KoB ones can (plus KoB ones get torps too). However, their dolphin dippers MAR giving them 15″ movement in a straight line means they’re damn fast, and their firepower is good in a group if you can link three together onto a single target.

CoA Cruisers are great – strong secondaries and two good turrets plus a shield generator means they’re relatively tough (although not as tough as FSA) and can throw out a lot of firepower. Downsides: they’re slightly more expensive (65 vs 60 points). All up, a bargain 🙂 My squad of three laid some criticals on the EotBS battleship and pinged the enemy cruisers too during the game.

Facing my Frigates on the EotBS right flank - uh-oh...

The battleship is a BEAST. Partially submerging means it’s much less vulnerable to first strikes (everything needing 5s to hit it rather than 4s), and while submerged it can still ping away with two turrets. Surfaced – four turrets, huge secondary batteries (10AD in range band 1!) plus the particle cannon (12AD out to 12″, then it goes through things!) means it can put out a terrifying amount of dice. Oh, did I mention it has a shield generator AND inventive scientists which lets you reroll a generator dice?

In it’s second activation, it damanged the battleship with its turrets, and fried a frigate and critted the cruiser behind that with the particle cannon. The turn after that, it got bracketed by all three EotBS cruisers, but suffered no damage! Then it single-handedly wiped out the damanged cruiser squadron using all its weaponry. Eeek.

Finally, CoA bombers are okay – they’re a bit vulnerable with only 4 ack ack, and their DR of 4 like most other bombers means they’re pretty fragile. I didn’t get a chance to use their mines during the game – my ships were in the way or I had already killed the best targets – but bombs and fore guns did a bit of damage. I suspect they’ll be better replaced by the Icarus medium flyer for a couple more points, since the Icarus is more like a flying cruiser and has many more guns and shields.

My centre - cruisers screening the submerged battleship, ready to advance in whichever direction the battle took

Empire of the Blazing Sun

These guys are fast (their “steam train” streamlined designs), tough to crit (have a higher crit rating than everyone else), and have a mix of rockets, torps, and batteries, meaning they’re kind of the jack of all trades race and are supposed to be able to capitalise on whatever their opponent’s weakness is (torps in cose, rockets out far, speed to do whatever they want).

On the other hand, that means they don’t really have an ideal spot to be, except wherever the enemy doesn’t want them. Against CoA, who are decent everywhere, this is a problem.

Their frigates are relatively difficult to use – with fixed channel broadsides, there’s a lot of manouvering to do to get them in the right spot. When they are in the right spot though, they eat other frigates and cruisers and can even damage battleships easily. These guys seem to be used best as a fast reaction force – getting in amongst the enemy and throwing out lots of dice.

Cruisers are a mixed bag – fore torps where you need to be close, rockets where you need to be far away, and fixed channel broadsides which are fiddly (but very effective when you manage to get them all on one target). These guys have the problem they’re not great at anything. My thoughts are they’re supposed to be line and linebreaker ships – rocket while you’re closing, then bracket the enemy and broadside them. Park one on either side of an enemy ship and you’ve got 12AD (I think) from their linked secondary batteries, which isn’t half bad.

The EotBS left flank

Their battleship is strong – rockets, prow torps, shield, two powerful turrets. If it can manage to get something in its fixed side channels, it can blast away at it easily. Probably a bit better at range so it’s turrets can hit easier and the channels are easier to arrange, as it’s big turning circle mean getting in close makes its channels difficult to align.

Bombers – their weaponry is a bit odd, either rocket stuff from afar (probably best) or charge in and bomb stuff (probably not so good). Like the Antarcticans, their Inari scout gyro medium flyers are much better and worth the points premium.

Facing the EotBS bombers were my own on my right flank

Outcome

In the end it was a massive victory to my Covenant of Antactica – a shed load of luck (due to the exploding 6s rule, I got some truely ridiculous rolls off) helped immensely. The game being kind of like Battlefleet Gothic (but easier, since you don’t have to worry about the enemy’s facing, and just have to make sure your arcs cover them) meant Dystopian wars is a game that *clicks* with me like BFG did. Also, being one of those people who can read rules and then work out what should theoretically work and be effective (linked fire, flanking fast frigates, and using as much of your weaponry in a single activation as possible) helps.

So, overall? I like the game (the crushing victory helped…) lots. The exploding 6s rule mean that I definitely think it leans towards the non-serious game side – sure, you can make an awesome fleet and try to mathhammer, but it all comes down to dice rolls and exploding 6s mean that luck plays a much bigger part than in many other wargames.

I do feel sorry for my friend though, who has so far lost all 5 games (to varying degrees) which he’s had so far…

Overall Game Rating: 5 stars!

Definitely a game worth getting! Great miniatures, a good ruleset, simple to pick up and relatively quick to play, I’m very happy that a bunch of people at our club are getting into it and hopefully it becomes a staple here.

PS: You may have noticed I’ve managed to paint up the starter box ships already. I’m currently painting up the remainder of the Antarctican forces – a dreadnought, carrier, 3 destroyers, 6 escorts, and 2 Icarus medium flyers – so once those are done I’ll do a finished army gallery post and show them all off.

One thought on “Dystopian Wars – Review (the game, my first battle, and starter fleets for CoA and EotBS)

  1. I had my first game with my CoA last night and as I expected, they suffered greatly from the torps of the KoB. They have really low CC across the board, even the dreadnought only has 4CC! Will be interesting to see how Dougall and Matt go on Sunday.

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