In an effort to show up ZombiePirate and his lack of painted models (I jest friend), I’ve finished painting some reinforcements for my Blazing Sun fleet; an Assault Carrier and a Mechanical Squid. I finished them last night and I’m particularly fond of the cuttlefish inspired paint scheme on the squid. Captain Emo will be pleased.
Hi all those out there in internetland. My local gaming club has been showing an increasing interest in Dystopian Wars, which is good news for me as I’ve become a fan of the steam punk naval game. There is however one problem…too many Kingdom of Britannia players (including myself). In an effort to redress the balance I decided to get a second fleet, and as you’ll have guessed by the title it’s the Japanese Empire of the Blazing Sun. I’ve finished painting the basic naval starter box and thought I’d show off the pics. After a trawl of the web (was that a naval pun?) I came across someone who’d painted the blazing sun motif on the side of their ships and I liked it. However being different I went for a metallic purple on a black background rather than the red-on-white that is traditional. I think it gives them a more sinister stealth ship kind of look, that and it allows me to call my commander Captain Emo.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve mentioned this Victorian Sci-fi naval game. For those of you who have not heard about it, Dystopian Wars is the latest game from Spartan Games, the makers of Uncharted Seas and Firestorm Armada. The core mechanics are the same, but there are a series of differences such as tiny flyers and the use of sea, land and air models. Although we haven’t been playing it among our little band of gamers, I have had a few games with some others at a local gaming club and I can say that I have enjoyed them. The game works well, is fairly simple and as Spartan Games has made a new edition of the rulebook (version 1.1) it is easy to read. This was my only real criticism about Dystopian Wars, that the rulebook was just badly put together. The new rulebook is a big improvement; its nicely done, with plenty of diagrams and explanations, and the fleet lists come complete with a nice profile picture of each model.
When Dystopian Wars was first released I purchased some Britannian models, but because we haven’t been playing it much I haven’t got around to painting them until now. So here are some pictures of some of the finished models; a Bomber, a Submarine and a Battleship. The Submarine happens to be one of my favourite models.
Hope you’ve all enjoyed Christmas and have recovered from all the eating and drinking etc. We here at 6 Inch have enjoyed spending time away from the floating citadel with the company of our loved ones. This hasn’t ment however that the gaming has stopped. A few weeks ago Spartan games released its third naval game – Dystopian Wars. I picked up a copy from my local gaming store and have spent the past week giving the rules and good read and felt that I should share my thoughts of my first impressions, so here we go.
Dystopian Wars is set in the Victorian Era, but not the one we’re familiar with. It all starts off when a half mad-half brilliant scientist by the name of Sturgeon travels to Antarctica in search of the mythical Vault which contains many scientific goodies. He finds it and decides to share this knowledge with the world. Humanity being what it is decides that the best use for all this new stuff is to blow each other up.
There are four factions currently available; The Kingdom of Britannia, The Prussian Empire, The Federated States of America (FSA) and the Empire of the Blazing Sun (i.e. Japan). The picture above is of the
British sorry Britannian ships. There are also four other factions mentioned by name that I’m assuming will be released at a later date; The Covenant of Antarctica, The Ottoman Empire, The Russian Coalition and The League of Italian States. If you’re wondering where France is it was conquered by the Prussians in 1808 and is little more than a puppet state.
The whole look and feel of the models is that of something familiar and yet slightly different. The technology is more advanced and has a good steam punk look. There are shield generators and tesla weapons, aeroplanes and even a mechanical squid. I like it, even if the Japanese cruisers have the look of choochoo trains.
For anyone who is familiar with Uncharted Seas and Firstorm Armada this is more of the same. The core mechanics of the game haven’t changed much; your ships have range bands for weapons telling you how many dice you get to roll, 4+ is a hit with a 6 counting as two hits and allowing you to roll again. There is linked fire and split fire, boarding assaults and ramming that is all familiar. So what has changed?
Point defence has been replaced with Ack Ack (AA) against rockets and planes and Concussion Charges (CC) for use against torpedoes and submarines. It can also be used every time such an attack is made against your ship/squadron (unlike one of the glitches with Firestorm where you could only use it once per turn). You can also use both in your own activation as a shooting weapon against the respective units. Oh and you can’t link fire your AA or CC from multiple squadrons, only from the one that is under attack, so there is no point clumping your ships together for mutual point defence. Other big changes include break tests which if you fail will reduce the squadrons effectiveness with such things as preventing you from link firing. Aeroplanes have a more comprehensive rules section and they appear to be really quite effective.
Another big change is that Dystopian Wars can be fought on sea, land and in the air. The original release includes the naval models with a few aircraft, but there will also be models for tanks and land ships, blimps and sky fortresses. The same rules are used for pretty much all of the models though.
There is also now more variation. The rulebook includes complete fleet lists for all 4 factions; including all their naval, land and aerial units as well as static fortifications and other buildings such as comm towers and landing strips. You can also upgrade many units with different options. For example the Prussian Battleship can be taken as it is with three gun turrets or you can replace one of these turrets with a UPG generator, a shield generator or a tesla generator – essentially giving you 4 variations for the Prussian Battleship.
What do I think?
On the whole I like it. I like the look and the genre. The rules are still fairly simple and I get the impression that Spartan Games has taken on board a lot of the feedback from US and FA and changed somethings for the better whilst still retaining the games uniqueness. One of the things I really like is that your ships (etc.) have more options. In the previous games you really didn’t have much variation. For example if you wanted to take a second battleship in your fleet your only option was one that was identical to the battleship you already had. At least now you can make some changes. There is also more variation between the fleets with special rules assigned to specific models that are often unique to a certain faction.
So what don’t I like. Well as far as the game is concerned not much (except maybe the stupidly high firepower of the FSA battleship). I have been a fan of both US and FA and really enjoy playing both games. My only real issue is the construction of the fleet lists. The whole rulebook was nicely put together until that point, then all sence of cohesion seems to have broken down. The lists themselves are good; comprehensive and give you a full list of the rules for each model, but what gets to me is the pictures that they’ve put with it. They’ve illustrated the lists (good thing) but often not put the image next to the unit’s entry in the list (ahh). For example the entry for the Britannian MK II Tank is on page 90, yet for some reason the image of it is on page 92. Whats even more classic is that on page 96 there are 2 images of the Prussian Bomber (why 2 I do not know) and their entry is on page 99. I know that not all of the models will have been designed when the rulebook was released, but perhaps it would have been better to leave the space rather than randomly placing images of some of the units all over the show. I know its only a petty thing, but it does kind of ruin the book a little.
The other concern I have is that of production. With a new game out and new models to produce will US and FA be put on the sidelines? And how long will it be before all of the models for each fleet are available? Only time will tell. I’m sure this wont be the last post from 6 inch about Dystopian Wars.
Spartan Games purveyor of 6 Inch Move approved space combat simulator Firestorm Armada and ocean plundering Uncharted Seas announced with today’s newsletter another game to their rapidly expanding stable; the steampunk inspired Dystopian Wars. The new page gives brief details about the starting factions, Brittania, Prussia, Blazing Sun and the States as well as some previews of the various models which I’ve included below if you’re too busy (or lazy) to click the links provided.
The only worry I have is that Spartan has popped up out of nowhere last year, Uncharted Seas is a great game and then they topped it (for our play group at least) with Firestorm. From recent announcements there are still a lot of things happening for these games and now we have this one arriving as well as Firestorm Invasion! on the horizon as well.
The only other games company I’ve seen produce this many miniatures games is the Sherriff led, Nottingham based bane of the wallet, Games Workshop and many of those games (despite promised support) really have faded into obscurity. GW has a long history and a large customer base, Spartan has none of these. Now, I’m not going to come out and say they are doomed to fail, no-one wants to see that happen and I wish them every success but does seem like a lot of stuff is getting released really quickly. Spartan come across as quite a small company and the workload on a small team to be pumping out all this stuff, even if it works off the same base system would seem to be quite large. I hope they can keep up before staff burn out or the quality of the releases suffer.
After my own revelations recently getting another game doesn’t seem to be high on my priority list and I can probably say the same for the rest of the 6 Inch Move team, what with times being as they are (we’ve already had to cut back on the number of scutters we use for cleaning the floating citadel.).
Anyway, here are the previews for your viewing pleasure.