Looking at More Changes in Warhammer 40k 6th Edition

I first got stuck in to Warhammer 40k right after the publication of the 3rd Edition rules, way back in 1998. I was familiar with the 40k 2nd edition rules, but hadn’t been captured by them. Something about 40kv3 clicked for me, though. My eight-foot table (this was before the onset of my domestic marrieditis) hosted plenty of knock-down, drag-out fights.

The new 6th edition rules feature the most extensive set of changes to the game system since that long-ago leap from 2nd to 3rd edition. Fourth and 5th editions featured changes of their own, of course, but many of them were minor, or updates that could be classified as either streamlining or clarifications. The 4th edition update, I remember, lavished quite a bit of attention on changes in the Assault Phase. They generated a lot of discussion at the time, but those changes were nothing like the new Assault Phase we’ve gotten with 40kv6. Continue reading

Warhammer 40k 6th Edition. Already?

As you might surmise from my long-ago recent posts on Dust Tactics, I am something of a plastic crack addict. I don’t know what it is about gaming with miniatures that grabs my attention so much — maybe it’s a throwback to all those days spent in backyard dirt piles with toy soldiers when I was 5 — but there it is.

I enjoy Dust Tactics, even though it’s not truly a “tabletop” battle game. And I was just starting to get a feel for Dust Warfare, the tabletop system for the same minis range, when along came Games Workshop’s release of the 6th Edition rulebook for Warhammer 40,000. While 40k wasn’t the first minis game I took up, it is the game that I’ve spent the most time and money on. So there wasn’t any question what was going to happen when the new edition rules came out. Yep, tabletop wargaming’s big dog is back on my blog. Continue reading

Dust Tactics: Hit the Beach

One of the questions about Dust Tactics that I encounter most often is, understandably, an important one to most of the wargamers I know. While many folks have read by now that it’s a board game, what exactly does that mean? Is it a highly stylized “board game” with a wargame-like theme layered on top along with some nice plastic bits, or is it a wargame squeezed into a board game format?

My two cents is that it sits pretty firmly in the latter category. It’s a wargame that takes advantage of many of the conventions of the board game genre to regularize play and create appeal for a cross-over audience that otherwise might toss it off as just another tabletop figure-pusher.

The square-gridded gaming surface does indeed stylize play, but no more so than a hexgrid stylizes play in games like Memoir 44 and Tide of Iron — or ASL, for that matter. Important details like weapon ranges may seem contrived and “board game-y” to tabletop purists, but when you compare the interaction between weapons and movement in Dust Tactics to the same dimensions in popular game systems like Warhammer 40k, the numbers aren’t out of line at all. And has anybody noticed that the 4-hex range of the basic Soviet rifle squad in ASL is exactly equal to an infantry squad’s unaugmented one-turn movement allowance of 4? In Dust Tactics, “standard” rifle fire has a 4-square range and the average squad of grunts can move a maximum of 2 squares in a turn. Continue reading

Games, Graphics and Barbarians

In the work-a-day world, I’m a technical consultant for an interactive media company. That’s not as fancy-pants as it might sound, but sometimes it can be pretty interesting. One of the things I get to do is talk to business owners who have under-performing websites and help them figure out why their online stuff sucks.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the appeal and artistic grace of lovely ponies-and-rainbows website designs. Unfortunately, the dialectic of business analysis is rather like setting Conan the Barbarian loose with his big sword to run wild in the ponies’ multi-hued pasture. Business is about making money. Ponies that don’t make money need to be “recycled” and sent to the glue factory.

Think about it this way: A business website is an online graphical user interface (GUI) that connects customers to a business. There’s no separating the “graphic design” part from the “user interface” part. They either work together, or they don’t work at all. The skill of coupling attractive design with maximum usability is what sets a professional web designer/developer apart from Cousin Ned sitting at a PC in the back with his copy of CoffeeCup. Continue reading

Dust Tactics: Iron and Blood

So far in my explorations of Dust Tactics, I’ve written at length about just one element of the force a player has at his disposal — his grunts. But the infantry units in the game, whether protected by heavy armor or not, aren’t the whole focus of the game. To play well consistently, and to get the most enjoyment out of the game, you also need to work the game system’s vehicles and individual heroes into your battle plans.

Reflecting a World War II era style of classification, both sides have light, medium and heavy combat walkers. A single “chassis” is available for each class, but they feature a number of different customizable weapon fits. The Allied medium walker box set, for example, ships with four different configurations: a 17-pounder tank-killing long gun; a short 75mm howitzer; a wicked short-ranged napalm thrower and a nasty artillery version with a rack of bombardment rockets and a “petard” mortar. The weapons easily interchange by snapping on and off the walker’s turret. Continue reading

Dust Tactics: Hard Knocks and Flamethrowers

After a few games of Dust Tactics, I think it’s safe to say that I’m pretty happy with the results. But that statement bears a word of caution to my fellow minis enthusiasts out there: Dust Tactics is not a tabletop miniatures game. As I noted at the end of my last post, it is first and foremost a boardgame. As a standard of comparison, it has more in common with a game like Memoir 44 than a tabletop game like Command Decision, or even Warhammer 40k. The very nice mini figures aside, it is not in any way an attempt at alt-history simulation. But it is a lot of fun.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Dust Tactics has plenty in common with many tabletop rules sets; it’s much more than a military “themed” boardgame. Sound wargaming tactics will win games more often than not, but there are elements of stylized boardgame play that you have to account for in order to succeed consistently. “Classic” fire-and-maneuver play, for example, is certainly viable in the game, but it depends on what the terrain allows and your style of play. Continue reading