We’re very excited to be able to tell you more about our new Dystopian Wars Version 2.5 Core rulebook. This edition is set to be one of our most important Dystopian Wars releases, helping set the scene for a huge amount of game expansion during 2017.
Delivering a new rulebook is always a busy time for us, and whilst it is exciting it is also slightly nervy at the same time! During 2016 we have been looking closely at what to do next with our rulebook, commonly prompted by the impending deadline of a reprint. This task befell Spartan Derek and his brief was a simple one: make it better, make it cooler, but don’t change it too much.
OK, so it sounds like a simple brief, but in fact it isn’t. Dystopian Wars 2.0 was a massive undertaking as the game had grown hugely and 2.0 had to draw together several disparate pieces which needed to be homogenised – and we had to re-stat a vast number of models and factions.
So, just what have we done with Version 2.5?
Queue drum roll – we’ve fixed the text formatting. It’s amazing when you get too close to a book that the rules designer mindset sometimes steps in and you get seduced by the mechanics: this part must be bold; this bit must be bold italic… you get the drift. With 2.0 we were guilty of this and as 2.0 isn’t exactly light on word count, the result was not ideal for players with its typographic design.
Having learnt from this we have a new page design for 2.5 which we feel confident will enable you to consume the rules more easily. We’ve gone back to our archive of imagery and added more to the book, we’re reworking diagrams, increasing our examples and generally making the book prettier. We have created an array of stunning models which look amazing and so we figured it was time to also add oodles of pictures of them to a new Dystopian book. After all, who doesn’t like to look at pretty models!?
The Core Rules
The biggest fear of most wargamers with a new set of rules is that the company which created it changes too much. The idea that in the name of progress you change too much, break this, alter that, make it work differently. We can’t say that we aren’t changing things, because we are, but the approach we have taken with Version 2.5 is to look at the existing rulebook and we asked ourselves some simple questions:
1) What errors are there? Find and fix them.
2) What is clunky in the game play? And how can we improve it, smooth it out for a better experience.
3) How do we speed the game up? But without gutting the game!
4) How do we enable larger games to be played?
5) What can we add to extend the Dystopian Wars experience, to make things even cooler for gamers?
Using a wonderfully corporate expression now, we set ourselves a Mission Statement for the Dystopian Wars 2.5 Core Rulebook:
“Make it look better, make it play better, but keep everything in the book that makes Dystopian Wars great – and then add more cool stuff that makes it even more GREAT!”
We know it sounds a little fluffy to define it this way, but it boils down to making sure we hit our Mission Statement. In fact, this sentiment is what is driving the Firestorm Armada 3.0 rulebook, but that is a different blog!
The overall rule changes you can expect are few and far between since Dystopian Wars if a very stable set of rules already. However, there are a few areas that will change to better suit the releases planned for later in the year and into 2017, and to re-balance some of the more contentious things that crept into the game over the last few years. Here are some things we have looked at:
Drones Rebalance – During the initial writing of the rules we looked at trying to make Drones more unique and give them their own set of rules to show that. As with all forms of games design there is an element of risk involved in such a move, taking one Factions (and some specialist models from others) and applying a set of rules that are away from the norm – in the case of Drones we didn’t get it as balanced as we had hoped, and so expect a change or two there. We won’t be amalgamating them into the standard rules for SAS though, as we still want them to feel different, but expect a few tweaks in these elements.
Weapons and Munitions – There are a few very minor tweaks in the rules for certain weapons which allow us to use the variable-MAR system we pushed in 2.0 forwards and removes the blanket rule for certain weapons – for example, Speerschleuders no longer have High Angle as standard. We have also changed a few of the more esoteric weapons to operate a little more efficiently in the rules. We did this because the errata and rules questions from our forum members often circulated around these strange weapons and so we have made some clarification and minor changes to help clear those up.
Deep Diving and Stratospheric Height Levels – the restriction for flyers and submerged models to exist at these Height Levels has been relaxed, with only Small and Tiny models prevented from travelling that high/deep. We changed this to give even more tactical depth (if you will pardon the pun…) to the game. This is especially important as all factions in the game will be getting their fair share of submarines soon… look to the new Kickstarter when it goes live to see what we mean!
Allies – When we originally wrote the 2.0 rulebook the focus was on the creation of Battle Groups to give retailers and players a fixed purchase point for their gaming. Of course, this method has advantages for everyone (retailers know what to stock, customers get everything they need in one box, etc.) but moving forwards as Spartan embraces blisters as a flexible delivery method for Squadrons, it is important to make the taking of Allies a very flexible exercise to reflect our new purchase method.
Allies still come out of your non-Core allowance, but the restrictions on creating a Battle Group with those allies has been relaxed. All other stipulations still apply and there is a penalty for taking models with the Strategic Value MAR (…as the owning Faction is normally unwilling to let these elements out of their sight without proper compensation!) All in all, the new Allies system gives players even more of a reason to take Allies now, freeing up their narratives to develop them as they see fit.
Critical Table Changes – There are a few VERY minor tweaks in the Critical Table to bring the distribution of results more in line with the effects one would expect to see on a damaged element and we have added a few Damage changes to certain results. Hard Pounding now causes 3HP loss for example!!
Other Changes – There are instances of rewording tweaks, changes to the Reserves (Flanking and Rear Reserves), Quick-Launch Scenario (replacing the Competitive Game Builder we had previously), the rewording on certain Generators, etc. We will be exploring these and responding to questions as we get closer to the delivery of the book.
What are we adding that is new?
We have added some cool new Appendixes to the 2.5 rulebook which we feel extend the Dystopian Wars experience. Let’s look at three of them:
Appendix 1 – Fleet Action
Launched earlier in 2016, Fleet Action is our entry level set of rapid play rules for the Dystopian Wars community. The idea of the rules is a simple one: enable fast game play and deliver a smooth way to introduce gamers to the exciting Dystopian World of products. It is also a way for gamers to play big games quickly. As it uses the same models as Dystopian Wars it is a more bang for your buck set of rules.
As Fleet Action is inherently important to the Dystopian World we have taken the decision to add the rules to the 2.5 book. Bringing the two games together under one book makes a lot of sense.
Appendix 2 – World Builder Campaign System
A hugely exciting addition to the rules, bringing the framework for running multi-game, multi-player campaigns over the course of several weeks to the Dystopian Wars gaming community.
When we performed our survey, we got a staggering level of response and much of the comment from our gamers surrounded the elements of the game that exist outside simply gameplay: folk wanted scenarios, special characters, roleplay games and coming right at the top of the list…. Campaigns.
The Rules Team at Spartan have been using a type of campaign system for over 3 years now, to give our testing games even more of a competitive edge. For Dystopian Wars, as an example, lately Spartan Derek’s Britannian, FSA and Russian Forces have been attempting to maintain their tentative footholds in the African continent and Middle East respectively from the depredations of the villainous Imperial Bond (played by Spartan Neil) and as to those Covenant scoundrels of Spartan Josh, well we shall say nothing more on that subject!
The campaign system utilises what we call a ‘Flashpoint’ system to allow players to pick parts of the world and build in a narrative campaign around that area. We will provide the map, the resin cities, industrial complexes, military installations, and scientific facilities (or if you want to do the game on a budget you can use paper tokens to represent these areas of importance).
The beauty of creating a ‘Flashpoint’ is that it provides a smaller, more manageable area upon which the gamers can play. Make a whole world and the exciting granularity and tactical subtly of the Dystopian World would be lost eventually, so we have decided to focus, and give players a chance to tell their own story – which is the essence of a campaign when you boil it down!
Forces will clash in the same way as they do in the Dystopian World on Land, Sea and Air. Players can roll-off on a Battle Table or (more likely) take their battle to the games table to resolve the outcome. This idea of Roll On A Table or Take It To The Table means that players who don’t want to resolve small battles can put themselves in the laps of the gods instead and roll on a table……you never know what will happen though! Forces get repulsed, cities can surrender and allow themselves to be captured, fleets can become shattered remnants and are forced to limp back to a base of operations…. All the things you would expect in a campaign. Prepare for the unexpected and ward against disaster!
The Flashpoints will also provide named characters to act as core dramatic personae for the narrative. Notable luminaries include Wolfgang von Eidersburg, Lord Erasmus Hamilton and many others…. Of course, if you don’t play the Faction listed in the narrative, it doesn’t matter, simply don’t use the character or adjust them to fit your ethos of Faction!
The final thing to bear in mind with the campaign system we have created is the marshalling of Time. More important than resources and daring-do, Time is always against you. The game is focused upon the Flashpoint existing for a short period of time to help create drama and provide a defined end point. This is important as anyone who has participated in a long drawn out campaign will tell you that many campaign systems can tend to drone on, losing players over a long period and they tend to lead to an inevitably dull conclusion as everyone’s interest has wandered elsewhere… not so in the World Builder Campaign… you have to get your skates on and move fast if you are to triumph in the Dystopian World – Time And Tide Wait For No Man after all.
Appendix 3 – Organised Play
The guys have been working to create a brand new competitive play section for the book, pooling competitive scenarios that will test players’ skill and capability to the maximum. This scenario system should allow people to host a tournament right off the bat, and provide those who enjoy the cut and thrust of competitive gaming with a perfect outlet to unleash their wrath.
This section of the rules will also be available as a download to all, ensuring that as time goes by scenarios that are less popular can be replaced with others, effectively creating a living competitive play system that is validated by the very people it is designed for.
And that’s it for now. Lots more to come on the 2.5 book over the coming weeks.