Cardboard Children: Dust Tactics

Hello youse,

I’m delighted to be able to tell you that I will have something very nice for you next week. A special festive video called “RAB’S CHRISTMAS CARDBOARD CRACKERS” – which will see me recommending some games for you to buy for your loved ones this Christmas. Included in that special video will be some great games I’ve played recently and some from the good old days. It will be fun.

Seriously, I’ve played some nice things lately, and I’m just play-testing them hard before I unleash hard opinion at you.

Today, I’m pretty much going to be telling you about Dust: Tactics.


Seriously. Get outta here. Forget about it.

I’ve flipped for this game big time. I’m obsessed with it. It’s a miniatures wargame/board game thing, with a Weird World War II setting. Like, it’s World War II, but there are mechs, and jump packs, and zombies and gorillas. Oh, how I love it.

I bought the first base game in 2010, and only really dabbled with it. I was intimidated by it a bit, despite the rules being very simple and easy to learn. I was intimidated by the mere notion of an expandable miniatures game, because I’m one of those people with Warhammer armies that are still on the sprue. I didn’t want to go down that road with another game. It looked time-consuming and expensive and ultimately depressing.

It is none of those things. Here’s how it works. Here’s how YOU get into Dust: Tactics.

1. You buy a Core Set. The Core Set that is out now is different from the original base game, with all different units. I think the original release is marginally better, because it comes with cardboard map tiles, instead of a paper map. But anyway, you buy one or other of the base game sets.


Everything you need to enjoy a lot of great games of Dust: Tactics will already be in your hands. But let’s say you want to go further, and expand your armies.

2. You buy some units. Ones you like. I recommend that your next purchase, if you like the base game, is a Command Unit. These soldiers don’t just give you extra fighting options, like most of the units do. These soldiers improve an already great game. They allow you to issue special orders to your troops, repair mechs, call in medics, and call in artillery strikes.


But let’s say you want to go further.

3. Okay, I said a Command Unit would let you call in artillery strikes. Only if you have an artillery enabled mech. So maybe you want one of those. Or how about a sniper team? Now we’re into choices. And choice is good. My next purchase was a sniper team. Why? Because snipers are cool, and they can target SPECIFIC SOLDIERS on the battlefield. That’s WAY cool, as Americans might say, in the 70s. But you might want those artillery strikes. Or you might want a squad of zombies equipped with power fists. Or you might want a gorilla.


The point is, with a game this good, you don’t stop. But not stopping doesn’t seem as harmful as the not stopping that comes with Games Workshop stuff. All these miniatures come pre-primed, so the pieces feel more playable, differentiated by the traditional Army Men green and grey. You really don’t feel like OH GOD I NEED TO PAINT THESE QUICK HIDE THEM I FEEL GUILTY, just a little bit I REALLY SHOULD PAINT THESE THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL BUT I’LL JUST PLAY WITH THEM RIGHT NOW.

(It should be noted that you can actually buy pre-painted versions of all the stuff. But it’s mad expensive. They look amazing, though. If you are rich, go for it. I won’t judge you.)

Okay then, okay. So, the game. Why did I initially ignore the game to a great extent and then fall in love with it?

Because I played it.


Guys, I played it. If there are girls reading, girls, I played it.

I played it.

Here’s how it plays.

You roll for initiative. A simple roll.
Then you and your opponent take turns each at ordering a unit.
You can take two actions. MOVE and SHOOT. You can MOVE and SHOOT, or SHOOT and MOVE, or MOVE and MOVE, or SHOOT AND SHOOT.
Each unit has special abilities and stuff.
There are places where you can get cover for your units. Tank traps and stuff. Corners. Buildings.
That’s it.

No, seriously, that IS it. What makes it fun is outwitting your opponent, using cover to gain saving rolls for your guys, all that stuff. Reactive fire and all that easily understood good shit. There are no headaches in the rules of this game. It is CLEAN.

And it is QUICK. It is a fucking slaughter. Last night I set up for a quick game, won, and put the game away again in HALF A FUCKING HOUR. Think about that. A whole battle played in the time it takes to watch an episode of The Golden Girls.


I dunno. I’m in love with the game. I love how you have all the information for each unit on cards. I love how BRUTAL the game is. I love that when two units meet face to face in the snow they will be firing shotguns, flamethrowers and slashing at each other with knives in the same vital, bloody attack. I love the design of the giant walkers, and the weirdness of the Axis units. I love that the upcoming expansion will have rules for fighting on different levels of buildings. I love that even as they add more and more rules and units, the game stays simple and easy to learn.

And here’s the clincher, if any of you have a PS3. It feels a lot like Valkyria Chronicles. I know. I know. SOLD, right?

Oh, and they’re bringing out some tabletop rules for it, too, if you prefer your miniature wargames with tape measures. Andy Chambers of 40K and Starcraft II fame is writing it. So, yeah, same miniatures and stuff. It’s all good.

Give it a try, maybe, and I’ll see you next week for the greatest bit of board game video you’ve ever seen in your life.


  1. Jim Rossignol says:

    This sounds sweet.

    • julianbenson says:

      I was looking for a Christmas present for my Dad, I think I just found it. Thank you Mr Florence

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      I bought King of Tokyo for my brother in September, and Amazon delayed it again and again till i cancelled it today. So I went hunting for a new game, and settled on Chaos in the Old World, based upon one of Rabs videos, there is only a brief mention in the column.
      Now I am wondering if it was the right choice. This seems very good, gorillas and jetpacks has me wanting this quite a bit.

      I must say, though, Mr Florence, that while your idea for putting together a list of boardgames to buy as presents is a very good one, its a bit late. If someone is in a country where there arent local boardgame shops you need time to get them shipped. Factor that in, and you need to know if you are going to get them a certain present early enough.
      I would of loved to have had that list today. Spend 5 hours researching board games, from Shutup and Sit Down to boardgamegeek and The Dice Tower.
      Bought the Summoner Wars Master Set for a different brother too. Might be convincing my mum to buy Dixit (Everyone read a review of that game, seriously) and I might be looking at Thunderstone for myself. Cant wait to compare it to your list.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Sorry, no Nazis unter mein Weihnachtsbaum this year.

  2. Palindrome says:

    if Andy Chambers is involved with the table top game that means that it is almost certain to be excellent, he was the prime games designer back when GW actually made good games.

    I’m not that sure about Dust:tactics itself though.

  3. westyfield says:

    Hhhrrnnngggg, this column is really making me want to play some boardgames. Might head down to the uni’s Boardgame Society meeting next week…

  4. Jake says:

    The miniatures are really excellent, I love the WWII details like Sherman turrets on giant mechs. Slightly less sold on the blitzkrieg gorillas and zombies. Still, I think I have to resist – going through a Necromunda revival at the moment and I think that’s all the little plastic men I can really get away with. Necromunda is so cool.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    What size table would I need for this?


    • Ba5 says:

      Just buy a big extra table and put it in the middle of the living room. Mrs Gillen won’t mind.

  6. Hensler says:

    Want so bad. You had me at Weird War 2, I love those settings.

  7. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Er.. the Golden Girls? Where did that come from?

  8. vee41 says:

    Every time I read one of these columns Robert seems more and more excited. More big adjectives, more caps and more praise. And don’t get me wrong, I love reading these, I am just wondering where this trend will take us! I predict that in two months every column is going to be typed in caps and in a year the column will just read GARBLLLLGGERRRRGAARRGH

  9. dawfydd says:

    I was so tempted to get this, but then Incursion came up on a special deal. May have to grab a copy of the base set though come the New Year…..

  10. Grayvern says:

    This sounds great but I’ve no money at the moment so I’ll have to console myself with ‘fire on my target’

  11. HisMastersVoice says:

    Just in case anyone’s more interested in the modelling side of Dust rather than actual gaming, you should definitely visit Dust’s site

    link to

    Some of the 1/32 scale models there are mind blowing.

  12. Easy says:

    But, it IS a friggin’ expensive one. It has been on my list for a while but I can never muster the courage to dole out that much cash, especially after MR FLORENCE made me buy Chaos in the Old World and Cyclades. Yes, he MADE me do it. I hate him for it. But at the same time, I love him. (sigh)

    • raptormesh says:

      Tell me about it, he made me buy ST:Fleet Captains and now I have a wishlist on BGG, and possibly more hours watching Tom Vasel in a week than one would healthily admit. Fortunately Fleet Captains turned out to be my best purchase this year and now eagerly awaiting expansions.

    • cckerberos says:

      Exactly. After the intro I was waiting for him to expand on the “not expensive” bit. But looking at the website, the prices seem to be pretty much the same as 40k.

  13. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Ok, so it’s an original W(eird)WW2 table top game in which you and your opponent take turns with moving and using your units. And what else? I got the impression that the description of the game stops there and doesn’t tell me anything about how the game plays or what makes it special and enjoyable.

  14. Quine says:


    Wait, what?


  15. Lemming says:

    In terms of pick-up-and-playabilty it sounds alot like Necromunda. I’d love that to be around again, using cards and stuff. It’s GW and you know they won’t though. People didn’t need to buy miniatures after they get their one gang.

  16. Guyver says:

    fuuuu im really going to buy this for christmas…
    if i get the revised one and the commando units expansion pack for both sides, i will experience full carnage with artillery strikes, repairs and so more without buying anything else? (at least, for the moment :P )

  17. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I love the models for this — they tempt me every time I see the game mentioned on Tabletop Gaming News. I just wish I had a person to play the game with. :(

  18. Latro says:

    I hate this column. I hate Rab.


  19. Alastor says:

    Im looking for a boad game for christmas, something I can play with my girlfriend, she love video game, anime, rpg, fantasy thing. I already bought in the past dominion (without expension) and I find it boring so I wonder if I buy an expension will it be better or do you have proposition about a better board game with 2 player

    • aravar says:

      How competitive are you and your girlfriend?
      If you are reasonably competitive check out Yomi. It is a beat ’em up in card form. It plays really quickly, is good fun and seems to have quite a lot of depth to it. Unfortunately a complete pack costs ~£60, so you might want to try out the online version (link to first to see if you like it, or get the print and play version for ~£10 (plus whatever you spend making the cards)

      Ghost stories might be worth checking out, but I’ve not had chance to play it myself

      Race for the Galaxy is also an amazing game, once you get past the hieroglyphics known only to space aliens.

    • Qwentle says:

      Ghost stories is rediculously hard with 2 players (in kind of a good way, but a bit overwhelming).

      Personally I love Dominion but it really needs 4-5 players to be great, as interaction between multiple players really makes it (watching my friend win a game by filling her hand full of crap and stocking up on Gardens made for an interesting evening last night).

      For 2 player specific games, I quite like Flash Duel. It’s effectively a Class based En-Guarde, but it’s quite fun and very fast, with a fair amount of replay value (it works especially well with Winner stays on rules if you have a few guys)

      If you can get another player involved, Fairytale is awesome for a fast, fun game with some amazing artwork. It’s pretty hard to find a version with English instructions though.

  20. Nick Savage says:

    There were six for sale on Amazon when I checked just after reading this. A couple of hours later, there was one left. I was so worried I’d miss out for Christmas I had to buy it, based on this article ;) Nice one, RPS. I’ve lost track of the amount of cash I’ve spent because of you.

    And yes, I’m aware I could have bought it somewhere else… what can I say, I panic easily.