With the whirlwhind of the March break behind us, I took myself down to the Dueling Grounds Wednesday night for our introductory game of Dystopian Wars. Long awaited, it looked like it might have had to be delayed again, but in the end, a few people who thought they were going to miss out managed to make it, and we had a rather rambunctious 4 way game.
One of the club guys had been kind enough to bring in a water table, and with the judicious appropriation of some hills and walls, we set up a table with a few islands and reefs scattered about. We played 400 points apiece, which worked out to a battleship, a couple cruisers, and four frigates each (except for Watts, who came late, and ended up with a bit of a patchwork).
The Prussians have proven to be a big draw, and other than my Blazing Sun, they were the only other faction on the table. We had initially planned to be fully painted, but the game is taking off, attracting new players at a fast clip, and so some of the ships were still in factory primer.
Having no real idea of what I was doing, I sent my Nakatsu cruisers off at one batch of Prussians, my Uwatsu frigates at another, and kind of had my Sokotsu battleship in the middle, being all gloomy and threatening.
Early rocket and torpedo shots had limited effect, but on my right, a Prussian cruiser squadron linked fire, and vapourized one of my poor frigates.
Return fire from the frigates and my battleship evened things up a bit, however, and a critical hit (or maybe a rocket attack?) from my battleship set a raging fire aboard one of the Prussian cruisers.
One the left, my cruisers and their Prussian equivalents kept hammering away at each other.
It was around this point that Watts showed up. Although he's building a Russian fleet, he hadn't counted on making it down, so didn't have it with him. Between the Prussian players, however, he managed to scrape together a fleet including a few of the bombers (in DW, these are roughly the same size as a naval cruiser - imaging a flying capital ship), and a mess of smaller vessels.
If I remember correctly, it was about this point that my Nakatsus turned into the little cruisers that could. Although one had been taken out by the Prussians, the other closed in, hammered one with a broadside, and boarded the other, capturing it. We realized towards the end of the game that one could leave a captured ship as a derelict (we were removing them from the table by mistake), but I don't think it would have made too big a difference.
On the other side of the table, my little frigates, although banged up, pulled a similar stunt with the other set of Prussian cruisers, hammering one, and capturing the other. Huzzah for samurai rocketpack death commandos!
In the meantime, Watts was sending forth his newly acquired Teutonic minions to rain death on Vonplutz's battleship . . .
. . . while ChrisB's battleship took revenge on my plucky frigates.
Or should I say frigate?
Oh, never mind . . . .
I couldn't let this insult to the Empress' honour go un-avenged, and so we had ourselves the first close-up battleship on battleship set-to, along with our first real insight into the activation mechanics of the game. In each turn, players alternate activating a squadron (ranging from several small ships to one big one) until all of a players squadrons have been activated. In this case, ChrisB had activated his battleship earlier in the turn (to take out my cruisers), and I was able to get in two battleship activations before he could respond; one as the last of the same turn (ChrisB's in the same round being a different squadron), and then a second at the start of a new turn.
At close range, each of my main turrets throws out 13 dice, and the two can be linked together for a total of 19 dice, or fired separately. Turns out, either option is pretty effective, and several critical hits later, the Prussian battleship broke apart under intense fire, and sank.
Meanwhile, the Prussian bombers under Watts, and the other Prussian battleship under vonplutz, were hammering each other hard (in fact, I seem to recall at least one "Hard Pounding" critical, to much inappropriate mirth). There was much boarding and counter-boarding, including one moment where a swarm of Prussian assaulters were simply blown out of the sky by defensive ack-ack by the bombers.
My battleship had its paint scratched by some lucky long-range fire, when a pack of Prussian frigates snuck 'round an island:
And it was at about that point that we had to call the game for time.
To be honest, I've not idea who won, nor do I especially care. The game was a hands-down blast. There were multiple occasions where roars of surprise, horror, and triumph echoed across the room, decisive shifts in fortune, drama, and more than a tad of silliness. We're in the process of piecing together all the rules we got wrong, but this one is definitely a winner. I'll like do a more detailed review of the game in future, but we're already planning the next game, and I'm looking forward to getting in some painting over the weeked. Thumbs up for Dystopian Wars; I think Spartan Games have themselves a winner.