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1938: A secret German expedition to Antarctica discovers the ultimate weapon – an alien spacecraft with a living crewmember!
1950: Everything has changed. The Second World War rages on with no end in sight. There are no more nations, no more alliances. There is only... Dust.
A world where reverse-engineered alien technology has given us walking tanks, as well as fighters and bombers that look more like flying saucers than what we know today, the world of Dust is both very similar to the Earth we know, and also quite different. Players take control of the high-tech armies of this brave new world in a struggle for the future!
Including a large game board and over 800 plastic playing pieces, Dust features a card-based system that controls initiative, movement, and production, while combat is resolved quickly and easily with the included custom dice. Dust is a strategy board game for 2-6 players.
I am not a fan of Risk; I know that there are legions of folks who enjoy the game, but I simply find the luck too annoying, the length never-ending, and the player elimination not fun at all. I've played a lot of Risk "upgrades"; and while they add some enjoyment to the game, I still have been attracted to only a few of them. When I saw the box of Dust (Fantasy Flight Games, 2007 - Spartaco Albertarelli and Angelo Zucca), I was slightly interested but assumed that yet another Risk clone had been created.
I was completely surprised at how much I enjoyed the game and wanted to play it again and again. The game comes with two settings, "Premium" and "Epic"; and while the Epic game may satisfy those who want long marathon type games, the Premium allows all the fun ideas of Risk to occur in a shorter time frame. The game encourages diversity in units, fast attacking, the formation of and broken alliances, and simply has a sense of fun! With terrific pieces and an easy-to-learn system, Dust is a campy sort of game that is my first choice when wanting to play a game of world domination.
The board depicts a map of the world, made up of several land and sea areas (circles on the map) that are connected by various lines. Six of the land areas are capitals, and sixteen of the total areas are power source areas. Each player takes a pile of pieces in their color (tanks, mechs, fighters, bombers, and submarines) as well as six cards from a deck. Players use one of the cards to determine their turn order, and then take turns to claim one of the capitals and a fair share of all the land areas on the board, by placing tanks there. Players also get to put out some extra reinforcements, production centers, and take one power source token for each power source area they control. A pile of dice (with hit markings on two sides, and blanks on the other four) and the rest of the cards are placed near the board. The first round is ready to begin.
In each round, each player selects a card from their hand, revealing them simultaneously. Cards have five elements on them:
First a player determines their production value, adding their production centers, their capital, and their card value. However, a player's production centers mean nothing if they do not have a matching power source token for each. The different units have various costs for a player (and a player can also purchase more production centers and cards). Players can place these units purchased with their production value in any friendly area that contains or is adjacent to a production center. After this, players may make non-combat movements with their forces. Each movement takes movement points, and a few units have unique movement (such as the bombers). Finally, the player can make combat moves, based on their combat number. When attacking, each player totals up the combat value of their units. The player with the highest tactical supremacy attacks first. Some units, such as fighters, have a tactical supremacy number, making them useful in combat for just this purpose. Players roll dice equal to the total combat value of their units, with the defender given some bonus dice for production centers and capitals. There are some rules as to which units must be removed first, and how players can retreat; but mostly a unit is eliminated for each hit rolled. There are special rules for sea battles, amphibious attacks, bomber runs, submarine attacks, and missile attacks.
At the end of each turn, players score one point for each capital and power source they control, as well as one point for having the most land areas, or the most sea areas, or the most production centers. If a player has reached a certain amount of points (depends on the number of players), the round ends - with the player having the most points winning the game!
I've just summarized the "Premium" rules, which take about two or three hours. The "Epic" rules are very similar, with a few changes - mostly concerning scoring and production. Since players get fewer points in the Epic game, it takes about four to six hours.
Some comments on the game...
I enjoy Dust because it's a very fluid game. Attacking and defending is simple, yet encouraged by the rules. The game has a set time limit (due to the victory point track), so it doesn't bog down much. The cards are clever, and the whole thing feels like a grown up version of Risk - yet still loads of fun. While the theme is a bit wonky, I don't mind; it's simply a world domination game. And it's currently the best one available on the market.
"Real men play board games"
If you're thinking of any kind of even small cooperation amongst players, this is not the game for you.
From the word "go", players must attack each other in order to win. Simple as that.
What is not so simple (and put it above RISK and similar games) is that we have fighters, bombers, tanks, submarines and mechas, each with its won combat value, cost and initiative. We have capitals, power sources and production centers.
The graphic aspect of the game is top notch, according to the high standards of Fantasy Flight Games.
There is a faster version, called "Premium", which can be played easily in less than two hours, and an "Epic" version which will last more than four hours.
If you enjoy throwing a lot of dice (maybe even 22 dices or more in a single attack!) this is the right game for you.
DUST is like "Risk", but a lot faster (if you use the Premium rules) and with better game mechanics. It's up to six players, another advantage. Card use is minimum, but important. Pieces and general graphic design are of the highest standard, which is usual for Fantasy Flight games. Another pluses are the simplicity of the rules and the quality quality and clearness of the rule book.
However, there's almost no subtlety here. Yes, you can make important strategy decisions deciding to buy between tanks, mechs, fighter planes, bomber planes or submarines and when to deploy them. Other than this, you must start attacking somebody as soon as the game begins. Otherwise, maybe you will not have another chance.
DUST will assure you a good afternoon or evening with your friends. But it would be good to have another game at hand after you finish your game session of DUST.