Dystopian Wars was launched in November 2010 by Spartan Games, a company based in the South Western UK which has already had reasonable succes with two games, Firestorm Armada, and Uncharted Sea. Dystopian Wars is set in the closing stages of an alternative 19th Century, where the discovery of new and advanced technologies have set in motion the events of world war amongst the major powers of this alternative, steampunk, world. The game pits huge naval warships and submarines against each other at sea, on the land tanks and landships battle it out, while in the skies above, airships, aircraft and other aerial contraptions engage in a duel for dominance.
This style of game natually appealed to me as a fan of the style of the Praetorian Imperial Guard. Hence, with a new hobby store opened in Exeter providing an ideal venue I've jumped at the chance to get involved with this new system.
The first wave of nations released by Spartan include four of the major powers, the Kingdom of Britannia (KoB), the Prussian Empire, the Federated States of America (FSA) and the Empire of the Blazing Sun.
Rather then taking the obvious choice for me, I decided upon the FSA as being something a bit different to my normal choices - and at the time nobody else had decided to play them locally which helped! So intending to get involved with Naval battles I picked up the Starter Fleet (its perhaps a measure of the success this game has achieved that these have completely sold out at this point) and a Carrier - because everyone loves Carriers right?
The models are for the most part really exceptional. The large ships are resin cast with lots of crisp details, including the small turrets, the decking, rivets, steps to the lower decks and even tiny doors at the bottom of these. There is minimal flash on the base of the models only and I've yet to find an air bubble - GW and FW could learn alot from Spartan. That said, I have heard of some missaligned models in the case of some of the airships, which goes to show nobodies perfect. I'd also add I'm not fond of the metal bombers which really let down the range as a whole in my opinion. The casts are okay, but the designs and detailing just are'nt as good. I'll get to posting pictures of my fleet in the very near future as they get painted.
Onto the rules. The rulebook is not quite as awful as some people have suggested in my opinion. The rules are all there, layed out logically, and there is a good index. However, rules are sometimes repeated more then is necercary or even over explained, for example those covering firing arcs. In addition, there are one or two bits which could really do with more emphasis, one example being how much damage is applied, which seems to have been missed alot amongst those I've played so far. Thus it could perhaps have done with a little more refinement.
The mechanics of the game system are however very easy to pick up, even with the minor flaws in the book. Movement is self explantory with each model being rated for a maximum and often minimum movement, while turning is conducted using templates. Shooting and assault is determined using a D6 system with each ship or weapons system having a firepower rating which you roll a number of dice equal too. However, there is an 'exploding dice' mechanic, this means that each roll of a 6 results in another D6 being rolled. Thus even the biggest leviathens can not ignore smaller models totally. Normally hits are caused on the roll of a 4+, however, there are modifiers which affect these rolls. Modifiers are included for things such as terrain, line of sight and the relative size of firer and target. However, to actually cause damage you must cause a number of hits equal or higher then the targets damage rating, while greater damage can be reached by causing a number of hits equal or higher then a critical damage rating. I would emphasie though, that this is not simply a game of who can roll the most 6's, because position and range make a huge difference, making manouver very important.
Rules wise I think this is an excellent system from my first few encounters, though I've noticed that aeroplanes (Tiny Fliers) seem to be rather underpowered, I've not used them a great deal yet however, nor have I conducted any Boarding actions or used any land units. For now I'd really recommend at least having a look at this game if you've not already. As for me, time to play some more games!
Images taken from "http://www.spartangames.co.uk/", and used without permission.