Dust Warfare

Sci-Fi Terrain — Buildings

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Kum GarageOne thing every gamer needs is lots of good terrain. Nice looking terrain enhances the play experience and plentiful, well placed terrain increases tactical options. This is especially the case for skirmish and small scale games. Games like Mercs, Deadzone, Infinity and others all come alive with good board layouts. Luckily producing good terrain, specifically buildings, is easier than ever.

Buildings
There are four primary types of materials used to make model buildings: resin, hardfoam (a form of resin), laser cut wood (or plastic) and injection molded plastic. Each material has its advantageous and disadvantages.

  • Resin – Probably the most common resin buildings are those produced by Gale Force 9 in their Battlefield in a Box line. These have the advantage of being highly detailed, pre-painted and ready to go right out of the box. They are moderate in weight and slightly fragile. Depending on the scale and environment you are trying to represent the Gothic line or even the historical Flames of War line are useful.
  • Hardfoam – The most numerous options for hardfoam buildings and terrain come from Micro Art Studio. Hardfoam is quite detailed and easy to paint. It is also light but somewhat fragile. Its biggest disadvantage is that it is solid so hardfoam buildings almost never have an interior and models cannot be placed under them either. This of course limits their use in certain situations.
  • Armored ContainerLaser cut – Laser cut wood (plywood, MDF, etc) as well as newer PVC products are perhaps where the gamers’ options have recently really started to increase. Manufacturers have gotten better and better with designs and choice has grown considerably. Laser cut buildings have the advantage of variety in design, detailed accessible interiors and complex layouts. They are also generally quite durable. Their big disadvantages are that they need to be painted well to really look good and often lack sufficient surface detail. The process itself also limits designs to a certain degree. 4Ground really set things on fire with their pre-painted line of buildings. They only have historical buildings at the moment but have announced a sci-fi line is coming soon. Crescent Root Studio has perhaps done even better but so far has no sci-fi options. Manufacturers we particularly like are Warsenal, Underground Lasers, Micro Art Studio, Systema Gaming and Spartan Scenics.
  • Injection Molded Plastic – The nirvana of gaming building material is perhaps injection molded plastic. It is relatively cheap, has high detail, is easy to work with and easy paint. It is also light and reasonably durable. Its main disadvantage is basically choice. Until recently Games Workshop had the only really useful line of plastic buildings available, but of course you were stuck with the Gothic look. With the arrival of Mantic’s Deadzone a whole new line of Battlezones were also created. The Battlezone line is comprised of a variety of pieces based on a 3 inch square. Gamers can assemble them in almost infinite ways to create buildings and environments that suit their needs. Certainly future options will help break away from the cube to create even better variety.

Gaming Surface
Of course even great buildings need to sit on something. Thanks to recent technologies the old grass mat is no longer needed. Certainly gamers can use foam board and other materials to create detailed urban battlefields but far easier, cheaper and more portable options (and more practical for actual gaming) are the new gaming tiles and mats. This was perhaps started in concept by Games Workshop with their Citadel Realm of Battle Gameboards but they never took the line anywhere to its full potential. It took Secret Weapon Miniatures to produce its upcoming Tablescapes line to start to unlock the varied options of plastic molded gaming boards. Tablescapes are one foot square injection molded plastic tiles in a variety of designs. What is great about them is that because they are plastic it is very easy for gamers to glue them together and use regular modeling techniques to create custom sizes that fit their needs. Or one can simply leave them as individual tiles for maximum flexibility.

District 5 MatOf course plastic tiles still have to be painted and stored. An even easier and quicker solution is the new gaming mats produced on the rubberized ‘mouse pad’ material. Probably the first to produce a variety of both 4’x4′ and 4’x6′ mats was Frontline Gaming with their FAT Mat Mega Mats. These give a great looking surface on which to place buildings and terrain but are also flat and smooth for easy gaming. Mantic produces a similar Deadzone mat and now Micro Art Studio probably has the ultimate urban mat with its new District 5 mat. What is unique about District 5 is that it has a geomorphic design so multiple mats can be placed together to create varied urban layouts.

Lastly we should also mention Hawk Wargames’ Cityscape and Ruinscape line of urban tiles. They are designed for 10mm gaming but easily used for 15mm or even in 28mm as sidewalks. The ‘scapes are full-color cardboard tiles you can layout to create varied cityscapes. Keep them loose for variety and flexibility or glue them to board and enhance as needed for an even better look.

There has never been a better time to fight in the city. So go grab some buildings and storm the gates!

Dust Warfare/Battlefield Resources — June 2014

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Dust BattlefieldWhile the state of Dust Warfare vs Dust Tactics is still somewhat confusing [Battlefront released a somewhat confusing set of posts (one and two) regarding Dust Warfare], what is clear now is that Dust Tactics v2.0 is out along with the new Battlefield rules.

If you have not seen them the new Dust Warfare cards are very nice. The new Dust Tactics Kickstarter is also showing probably the next year of model releases for both Tactics and Warfare.

But it was the new Dust Tactics Battlefield rules that got us to update this list. Will this essentially be the new Dust Warfare? Only time will tell but a quick look at the rules shows they are pretty good. Maybe not as good as Warfare but if support wanes for Warfare more and more gamers may simply convert to Battlefield. Only time will tell.

[Note: This post supersedes our November 2013 set of links to Dust Warfare resources.]

[Updated: 10JUN15]

Dust Warfare Resources — November 2013

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Dust Warfare[Note: This post is now superseded by Dust Warfare/Battlefield Resources — June 2014] Battlefront released a somewhat confusing set of posts (one and two) regarding Dust Warfare. It seems that FFG still has the rights to all current models (at least until stock runs out) as well as the rules for Dust Warfare. Battlefront will be releasing all new models (with the new DW cards) and campaign PDFs. But it seems that Dust Warfare itself is still in the hands of FFG. I guess we’ll have to see how this goes in 2014.

  • TheWorldofDust.net (Dust Tactics.Com) — This is the new official home for all things Dust.
  • Official Forums — The new official Dust Warfare forums are on TheWorldofDust.net.
  • Dust Warfare Force Cards – The cards that come with the miniatures are actually for Dust Tactics. While one could modify those cards easily enough it seems a shame not to keep them for games of Dust Tactics. Plus there are some unique DW attributes that are difficult to add. Well Rodney Smith and others to the rescue. Rodney has created a great set of Dust Warfare specific cards you can print out and use. So far there are two sets: The Core Set and the SSU Set. Also see post 449. There will be official DW cards in 2014. They will ship with all new Dust boxes as well as be available as sets.
  • Dust Warfare Force Builder — So far there is no official Army Builder app or anything for Dust Warfare. Luckily C. Jackobson decided to just build his own. It is a website that gets the job done and produces basic text output for your army.
  • Paolo Parente’s Dust Site — The man who started it all. Here you can see the Premium Models as well as the unique Dust 48 line. There is also Dust Terrain and of course Dust publications. If you can’t find these things at your local retailers or favorite online store you can order from Paolo and he will ship out quickly.
  • Dust Warfare PDF Rulebooks — You can get the PDF versions of the rules from Wargame Vault along with the expansion/campaign books.
  • Dust Chronicles — A fanzine devoted to Dust Warfare and Dust Tactics. Very well done.
  • Fantasy Flight Games’ Dust Warfare Forum — While TheWorldofDust.net has the official forums FFG’s Dust Warfare forum still seems available.
  • BattleTactics TV — BTTV has some excellent videos that cover the Premium Models as well as other aspects of the game.
  • Beasts of War Dust Warfare Coverage — The blokes over at The Beasts of War occasionally have some good DW bits including video unboxings of new units. Also see their YouTube Channel.
  • BoLS Dust Warfare Coverage — The Bell of Lost Souls occasionally pulls itself away from 40K and covers Dust Warfare.
  • Unit Forward — Unit Forward is a Dust Warfare site with excellent coverage. Great photos and lots of AARs and game resources. Also home of Zero Station a Dust Warfare podcast.
  • Dust-War — Another fan site with solid Dust Warfare coverage.
  • Watch It Played — A series of videos on how to play Dust Warfare.
  • Esoteric Order of GamersDust Warfare play sheets

[Note: This post supersedes our original set of links to Dust Warfare resources.]

[Updated: 15DEC13]

The 28mm Camel’s Nose — Game Musings

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Well as I feared, Dust Warfare has proven to be the proverbial nose under the tent. Getting deep into Dust Warfare has led us to look at other 28mm scale games. This of course is natural as you get in the mode of painting in that scale, start to gather some terrain, get some more figs, etc. Perhaps an even bigger influence is just the fact that there are lots of excellent rule systems out now that do not require a large number of miniatures to play. This makes it even easier to get into these games without a large investment in hoards of 28mm figure.

I’ve already written about Saga. It continues to be a challenging and fun game. It appears a Roman army is now inevitable. But thanks to Saga I still only need around 50 figs so collecting one is not a particular burden in time or money. The metal and plastic Roman figs from Warlord Games are excellent. But we also grabbed some of the plastic Romans from The Wargames Factory and they are almost as good as the ones from Warlord Games. If you want to have some plastic options they are worth a look. And of course the next Saga expansion, The Raven’s Shadow, with four new factions, is due out soon.

We have officially taken the plunge into Bolt Action as well. The figs are great and the rules are even better. Like Saga you can play great games with just 20-50 figures and maybe a vehicle or three. The rules are very streamlined yet give a nice tactical feel. For more on Bolt Action don’t miss Bolt Action.net and the BAR (Bolt Action Radio) podcast. Anyone interested in Bolt Action might also want to check out Victory Decision: World War Two from A.D. Publishing. It is somewhat 40K-ish and larger scale but still a streamlined game.

Mantic Games recently released a new line of sci-fi figures for their Warpath game. The new Enforcer figs look quite nice. We have always liked the Corporation line in general. Along with the figs Mantic released a new version of the Warpath 2.0 beta rules. The rules look interesting and have a unique activation mechanic. Honestly we can’t say we are fans of the Warpath universe in general but we like the Enforcer and Corporation figs enough that we would like to do something with them.

Spartan Games probably deserves a mention as well. Their new Dystopian Legions game looks quite nice. The miniatures look interesting and well cast. We originally thought the minis were to be resin but for the most part they are pewter. We are unsure how the vehicles are going to be but if Forgeworld can pull off 28mm resin I suppose Spartan can as well. The quick-play rules are available for download and look quite interesting. But we will probably pass on this one. We are fans of Dystopian Wars because we like naval combat but are not big enough steampunk fans to jump into Legions but it appears to be a good effort. But then again we may weaken….

Perhaps the biggest recent find came about as a result of playing the XCOM: Enemy Unknown computer game. The game is a great tactical sci-fi game and gave us an instant desire for some sci-fi tactical tabletop gaming. We dug around a bit and discovered Mercs. It is very much XCOM on the tabletop with five figure units and an emphasis on fire and maneuver at the skirmish level. The miniatures are outstanding and the rulebook is one of the best presented rulebooks we have ever seen. In fact the rulebook is perhaps the new gold standard for rules. Not only are the production values high but it includes fluff as well as a look at the game design and miniature creation as well. We wish all publishers would do this. Thankfully the rules themselves seem to be as good as they look. We have not gotten in a game yet but the card-as-ruler mechanic certainly has to go — A simple fix — but otherwise the rules look very solid and the snap-to-cover mechanic is unique. Also be sure to check out SnaptoCover.com a nice Mercs fan site. We will certainly have more on Mercs after we get some games in.

Below is a look at the Mercs CCC starter pack. This is a quick way to get into the game (you’ll need the rules as well). Games are played with five troops to a side but you have six (and soon seven) to choose from so pick wisely.

[Updated: 1NOV12]

4Ground 28mm Buildings — Review

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4GroundWe got sucked into Bolt Action in a big way. But because we had sworn off all 28mm games (pay no attention to our Saga and Dust Warfare gaming…) we didn’t have any buildings for the scale (especially WW2). Thankfully along comes 4Ground with their new line of pre-painted 28mm buildings. They have a WW2 line as well as a few buildings suitable for Saga and much more. They also have undamaged and damaged versions to add some variety to your gaming table.

The 4Ground buildings are all laser cut MDF or, in other words, wood. They come ‘pre-painted’ but this could be considered slightly optimistic. They are painted but in just four colors: off-white/cream, red, blue, gray (and perhaps a brown as a fifth color but it is very close to the natural MDF color so it’s hard to say for sure). The colors are a very simple basic application to the top of each wood frame. Because the edges are not painted once the buildings are assembled there are certainly some un-painted areas showing. But overall they still look pretty good and you could certainly touch-up the exposed bits with paint for a more polished look on the table. The laser cutting process scorches the paint a bit and that then gives the buildings a nice weathered look. Overall they look good but not stunning.

Assembly is very easy. Each building does consist of dozens of pieces, many quite small, but the included instructions are very thorough with both text and photos. Note that some of the assembly photos are actually split showing multiple views of the same piece. This is not immediately evident and can cause a bit of confusion. You assemble the buildings using white glue (we used wood glue and that worked just fine as well). Once you build your first one others will be easy. The destroyed buildings take a good hour and the non-destroyed buildings maybe 30-45 minutes. The construction of the buildings is quite interesting and basically consists of outer walls and inner walls. Each floor assembly is also separate and thus removable during play for placement of and access to figures. The laser cutting is very precise and clean and the parts will drop right out of their frames or just need a good tap. The only downside to this is that each part is labeled on the frame not the part itself so you will need to exercise care during first assembly so as not to get confused over what piece is what. Only the slightest filing or sanding will be needed on each part if anything at all.

Once assembled the buildings are very sturdy and durable and should hold up to even the hardest play. The scale of the buildings is also very good and fit in great with the Warlord 28mm Bolt Action figures and even look fine with the larger 30mm Dust Warfare figures [Note: Depending on your figure poses and basing 28mm figures will fit fine inside or may be too tall to fit and still be able to place the above floor on top. Larger armored figures will certainly have this problem.]. Also the doors and other bits can be assembled open/closed or left off etc adding more variety to each building. Considering the cost, pre-paint and durability of these buildings any gamer should give them a serious look. Recommended.

Also see: Café Gondrée

[Updated: 28FEB14]

Dust Warfare Resources — September 2012

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Dust Warfare[Note: See our new updated post that reflects the distribution change from FFG to Battlefront.] FFG’s sci-fi miniatures game Dust Warfare is really picking up steam. The game is not only gaining in popularity but FFG and the DW community are really putting some quality effort behind it. Below are some useful resources for Dust Warfare fans.

  • Dust Warfare Force Cards — The cards that come with the miniatures are actually for Dust Tactics. While one could modify those cards easily enough it seems a shame not to keep them for games of Dust Tactics. Plus there are some unique DW attributes that are difficult to add. Well Rodney Smith and others to the rescue. Rodney has created a great set of Dust Warfare specific cards you can print out and use. So far there are two sets: The Core Set and the SSU Set. Also see post 449.
  • Dust Warfare Force Builder — So far there is no official Army Builder app or anything for Dust Warfare. Luckily C. Jackobson decided to just build his own. It is a website that gets the job done and produces basic text output for your army.
  • Paolo Parente’s Dust Site — The man who started it all. Here you can see the Premium Models as well as the unique Dust 48 line. There is also Dust Terrain and of course Dust publications. If you can’t find these things at your local retailers or favorite online store you can order from Paolo and he will ship out quickly.
  • Dust Warfare PDF Rulebooks — You can get the PDF versions of the rules from Wargame Vault.
  • Dust Chronicles — There is a new fanzine devoted to Dust Warfare and Dust Tactics. Only one issue so far but very well done.
  • Fantasy Flight Games’ Dust Warfare Forum — FFG’s Dust Warfare forum is a great source for news and questions.
  • FFG’s Official Sites — It can be a bit confusing because FFG generally covers the miniatures under their Dust Tactics section but then covers Dust Warfare book releases under their Dust Warfare section.
  • BattleTactics TV — BTTV has some excellent videos that cover the Premium Models as well as other aspects of the game.
  • Beasts of War Dust Warfare Coverage — The blokes over at The Beasts of War occasionally have some good DW bits including video unboxings of new units. Also see their YouTube Channel.
  • BoLS Dust Warfare Coverage — The Bell of Lost Souls occasionally pulls itself away from 40K and covers Dust Warfare.
  • Unit Forward — Unit Forward is a Dust Warfare fan site with nice coverage. Great photos and lots of AARs.
  • Dust-War — Another fan site with solid Dust Warfare coverage.
  • Watch It Played — A series of videos on how to play Dust Warfare.

[Updated: 7MAY13]

Dust Warfare — August 2012 Update

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DW minisFantasy Flight Games is busy churning out Dust Warfare goodness. GenCon 2012 provided us all with some nice peeks at new upcoming products. Thanks to Russ from The D6 Generation and BattleTactics.TV for their great coverage. For a great look at the upcoming DW minis see BattleTactics.TV’s excellent video. FFG also now has a post with more information. Below is a recap of the recent news:

  • First up is the release of the Campaign Book: Zverograd that introduces the SSU and a few additional Allied and German units. You can also get the book as a PDF on Wargame Vault. (Note: For some odd reason the book still does not show up in search on Wargame Vault but if you follow the link you will be fine.)
  • FFG also announced Campaign Book Hades. It will include the first Soldier 4 unit in the game, the SSU Hero ‘Winter Child’.
  • The various SSU helicopters have started to hit the stores.
  • As you can see in the BTTV video  there is a huge amount of upcoming goodness for all factions. This is what you’ll see:
    • Allied: British Commandos and French Foreign Legion Kill Squad. Both are three-man Solider 3 squads. They are in the Allied suit armor but with bare arms. They come in the same package and you just swap heads to make one unit or the other.
    • German: Two new vehicles shown. They are large walkers based off the Vehicle 7 walker chassis. Shown were the Prinzeluther and Sturmprinz that both are sort of a mix of the WW2 SdKfz 251/D and SdKfz 232. They both have small turrets and open topped transport compartments. For infantry there are the new Jagdgrenadiere and Laser-Jagdgrenadiere. What is unique about those is that they are both three-man squads all based together on a single base (similar to GW IG heavy weapons). Perhaps the biggest surprise was the new German aircraft model prototypes. Also see BTTV’s aircraft video. FFG has now officially announced these with the upcoming Operation Icarus expansion for Dust Tactics. Also the P-38-eque aircraft in the page art is rumored to be the Allied fighter.
    • SSU: The SSU get the most love with all sorts of new goodies:
      • Hero Winter Child
      • IS-48 Karl Marx – Heavy Tesla gun-armed heavy tank
      • IS-5 Vladamir Lenin – KV2-like heavy tank
      • IS-5 Mao Zedong – AA tank. Both IS-5s also carry troops.
      • IS-48 Lavrentiy Beria Tank w/155mm main gun – Looks like an IS-3 tank
      • KV-3 Matrioshka – Walker with two main guns
      • KV-3 Babushka – Walker with Gatling guns
      • Red Guards Assault Squad
      • Red Guards Antitank Squad – With 2 Bazookas

Dust Warfare FFLAll in all life is looking very good for Dust Warfare fans. FFG is providing strong support for the game. Now if we only knew what the fourth faction will be!

[Updated: 12OCT12]