Friday, 25 November 2011

My First Game of Dystopian Wars

Played my first game of Dystopian Wars at the Cavaliers on Thursday, against Chris (who borrowed Kruger's Blazing Sun fleet). As neither of us had even read the rules the game went a bit slowly, with much pausing to look up rules and/or check with the DW experts. For this first game we didn't use points - each of us just had matching fleets of 1 battleship, 3 cruisers, and two squadrons of 4 frigates. The tactics on both sides were pretty simple. My cruisers and battleship charged headfirst, with the frigates swinging around from the left flank. Chris similarly charged with his frigates and battleship, but left his cruisers steaming along the far board edge offering long range rocket fire.

During the first couple of turns Chris seemed to have the advantage. My cruisers took the brunt of his fire, and he sunk one and damaged enough. In return I only managed to damage a frigate. Since I figured the cruisers were lost anyway I made what I thought was a crazy move, and rammed them straight into his frigates. Turns out this wasn't that crazy - collison damage (both to you and the enemy) isn't that much, and you still get to shoot and then board! A few good dice rolls later and I had destroyed one frigate, captured two others and still had my cruisers.

My cruisers facing off with Chris's frigates
Aftermath of the collison - two frigates have been claimed as prizes
Meanwhile my two frigate squadrons came around from the left, pouncing on an enemy frigate squadron from behind. Unfortunately the enemy frigates had a battleship nearby to support them, and the enemy cruisers turned out to be (just) in range as well. My frigates died in short order, although the did wipe out the enemy frigates before they sank.

My frigates move out from behind an island
In the center my battleship had moved up into the fray. While it was too late to save the cruiser squadron (which was now down to a single damaged ship) a lucky round of gunnery inflicted significant damage on Chris's battleship. Since my battleship was pretty much all I had left Chris fired everything he had at it, but with little result. He had lost all but one of his frigates, the long range rockets from his cruisers couldn't get through the battleship's AA defense, and his battleship was hindered by the damage it had taken.

My battleship and Chris's face off

At this point we called the game for time. I haven't read the rules for deciding who won, but I'd have to call it a moderate win  to Chris. He had wiped out everything I had except for the battleship, and had captured a cruiser and a frigate. Against this I had killed five frigates and captured two, plus inflicted 5 points of damage on his battleship. If we had keep going the advantage would have been mine - he just had nothing left that threatened my battleship.

So my first thoughts on Dystopian Wars;
  • Good game, simple, fast, easy to play. 
  • The rulebook is not well organised.
  • The exploding dice mechanic means their can be big swings of luck. Not sure yet whether I consider this a pro or a con. 
  • Didn't really see the big advantage of frigates people talk about. They did OK, but didn't seem that much better than other units. I guess a few more games might show me the circumstances in which frigates shine. 
  • Battleship did well, and I'm feeling comfortable with my big-ship centric fleet. I have an idea for how to counter the vulnerability to frigates at close ranges, will have to try this out next game.
So next game I think I'd like to try out airpower, see how it works and how vital it is.


  1. Hi John,

    Good to see you guys having fun. I think that since Chris deemed it wise to park Cruisers at range and rely on rockets, then I'd tend to agree that BB should be able to see to them, given time.

    RE: frigates, they aren't super-awesome but neither would any of us be inclined to leave them out of our fleets. We've all seen them be very effective when their charge is correctly timed and yours have the added advantage of another point of AP.

    Big ships are clearly best in this game.... as long as they don't get critted. Remember that once the CR is exceeded, a Dread has the same chance as a frigate of going BOOM.


  2. Actually any crit at all and frigates automatically die, but your point is taken. Even so I like the idea of an all big-ship fleet (with a few token bombers and small ships to make up the requirements) and I think the odds of crit-kills are low enough not to be a problem.

    Been reading the rules this afternoon, and I cannot find any reference to firing being aimed at squadrons. It's not made explicit (they just refer to "the target") but it seems to be all firing is done on an individual ship to individual ship basis.

  3. Hi Than,

    You are thinking of that time I was talking about allocating AA? The whole Squadron fires its AA if any model within it is targeted.

    Another time in the battle I did point out that you target a single ship and so can concentrate on it and kill it. So no, you will not find anything like you are looking for!

  4. Looks good! Sorry about the game related confusion, would you like a game this Thursday?

  5. Sounds good. Say 800 points, friendly game composition rules?

  6. Sure! Not sure what the friendly rules are for force comp, but I can bring something starter forceish!

    At the club this thurs then? Since there is no earthdawn

  7. Thursday it is then. The friends comp rules just say you must have at least one each of large/medium/small unit types. Apart from that anything goes.

    Be warned I have an extremely cunning plan. It even has a name - "twin sword formation".