Dystopian Wars

"And what would they be scared of? There's nothing to fear in a perfect world is there?"

1845: Years of strife have rippled across the globe catalyzing Empires around the world to rise and fall under the harsh dictates of steel and lead. To usher in a new age of peace amidst the shadows of global turmoil requires a new age of technological supremacy.  British Aristocrat turned scientist, Lord Barnabas Draynes Sturgeon, leads a massive expedition to the frigid continent of Antarctica far to the south, fueled only by whispers of a lost vault in which the road map toward a scientific utopia might be uncovered. But as we know in our own world, Utopia is impossible. Sturgeon indeed uncovers a vault deep within the southern glaciers, and with it, technology so advanced and alien that the entire expedition is brought to its knees. He begins making plans to develop this newfound science with the goal of peace-inducing machinations but is ultimately betrayed by his assistant Markov, who secretly flees back to Russia with a small cache of the alien tech to be dealt to the highest bidders-and replicated accordingly. Like a cancer eradicating life, Markov's betrayal sows the seeds of indefinite global warfare over the next 30 or so years, where tanks the size of castles, powered by newly-harnessed nuclear fusion, lead armies of airships, submarines, and robots in a face-off between the most powerful nations on the planet. All it ever takes is one hidden leak to sink the ship.

The Russian Coalition and the Federated States of America square off!
The coolest part about Spartan Game's masterful miniatures series Dystopian Wars-aside from the gorgeously innovative design of the Steampunk inspired models-is of course the alternate history the game is set in! The industrial revolution occurs about a century earlier under the precept of ancient alien technology previously buried deep within the Earth. The creators of the game have virtually re-written world history in finite detail, adapting the various cultures of the most powerful nations of the age into the technology itself, offering a stylized diversity that makes choosing sides all the more fun. The global climate of Dystopian Wars shapes up much differently than our own historical political spectrum, with major figures like Napolean Bonaparte dying much sooner throwing France in chaos, and the American Civil war being fought over mineral resources instead of slavery which was abolished in1825 here. These contextual differences are prevalent all over the planet which is to be expected when events are supplemented with the wild card of alien tech-especially when being played on a global scale. Though the gameplay itself can be a little tedious depending on the total point value of the fleets in play, knowing the context of why battles are happening (including in-game victory objectives that can be assigned) keeps the experience both highly epic and enjoyably immersive. The stakes are higher than even the most advanced airship can reach.

Russian Coalition Borodino Class battleship
Imagine taking control of the Prussian Empire's massive fleet, gifted with Tesla Directed energy weapons from their dealings with Markov, and pairing them with the terrifyingly massive robotic squids fielded by the Empire of the Blazing Sun. The mission?To crush the combined rocket firepower and flying robot squads of the Kingdom of Britania and the Federated States of America so that an inland invasion can materialize. Intrigued yet? These are just a few of the available global powers to play (The Dominion of Canada included, what what) each with their own unique technology, weapons (particle beams and lasers mostly, absolutely insane for the 1800s), and advantages that make studying your opponents in-field capabilities essential for developing a counter strategy and securing victory. There are so many different war-machines available for each side and for every theatre, that building an attack force can get just a wee bit out of hand. It wouldn't even be close to as fun otherwise.

A Prussian Empire task force glides along in the early hours of the morning.
Dystopian Wars essentially builds upon the core gameplay mechanics first introduced in classic tabletops such as Uncharted Seas and Firestorm Armada by bringing the war to every plane- air, land, and sea. Knowing your ships movement capabilities is important when first placing them prior to the match, as enemy ships can fire halfway across the fieldfield without breaking a sweat. Range is broken down into bands, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc, each separated by 8 inch increments. Depending in which range band you sit relative to the enemy unit, you are rewarded with a certain number of hit dice to roll when you fire, representing the power, impact, and velocity of the blast. Rolling a 4, 5, or a 6 typically constitutes a hit, and every vessel in the game has detailed stats, including how many hits need to be rolled with the die in a single blast in order to do damage to that particular ship.

Now a great and innovative feature Dystopian wars has brought to the table is the exploding dice mechanic. For every 6 a player rolls, not only does it count as a hit in the pool, but that player also gets a reroll to score even more hits on the enemy. If luck is disgustingly on your side (and JADE has seen it happen many times) then a ship as small as a frigate can conceivably sink a massive battleship with a much higher damage rating.- A great allusion to the real-world miracles that can sometimes take place on the field of battle. There are many minute in-game details that bring more realism and strategy to every match- striking an impressive and nuanced balance. If an enemy ship has it's critical rating reached by your hit die for example, not only does it take damage, but the opposing player also rolls to see what additional damage they receive from the critical hit table. These penalties are clever contextual elements that can range from engine failure, to a straight up explosion which wipes out everything in the surrounding area. Gives deadly accuracy a whole new meaning.

Other noteworthy nuances in the Dystopian war for Earth include: the ability to fire all weapons on a vessel at once to increase hit potential, antiaircraft turrets on most ships which allow for auto defence rolls against bombers and other aerial units when they attack, carriers able to launch and recall fighters when they gain better position, and the ability to board ships with marines to gut them from the inside out. On the back of each unit's stat card is also a list of faction-specific special abilities, contextually akin to the different technological capabilities each nation possesses -but adding gross amounts of additional strategy. Movement is fairly straightforward as well, with each vessel having a minimum and maximum inch increment they can travel each round (listed on the stat cards) and unique but effective turning templates to simulate the actual physics of piloting naval and aerial vessels in real time.

All in all, Dystopian Wars is a great miniatures experience that will captivate players not only with it's fun gameplay, but also with the level of depth prevalent in the excellent alternate universe the creators have imagined. The best example of the imagination bleeding into this game is the ability to play as the Covenant of Antarctica, the Utopian nation forged by Barnabus Sturgeon in the wake of his discovery to preserve the scientific knowledge at stake in the ongoing world war. The Covenant's forces and weapons are perhaps the most alien out of all the Dystopian factions and add even stronger context and immersion whenever they make an appearance on the field. Painting all of these miniatures is wholesomely thrilling and will provide many hours of enjoyment for the gamers out there truly passionate about the artform. As you can see, it's one of JADE's favourite pastimes. Spartan games continues to build this universe with each passing year, adding more arenas, scenarios, weapons, and factions to the fold. In a conflict spanning the entire planet, the possibilities are endless. Gear up and travel back to a once familiar time where the powers that be are in flux and the only certainty is that world peace is a long way off.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as JADE breaks down each of the Major Dystopian Wars Factions including their history, weaponry, and individual strategy. You don't want to miss this.

Dystopian Wars Dystopian Wars Reviewed by JADE Gaming on 9/09/2014 02:13:00 pm Rating: 5

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