Dystopian Wars 2.0 Review
Spartan Games have respected their players by having all of the rules for playing land, sea and air engagements contained in a single volume.
The system would have benefitted from further streamlining, as games can take several hours to finish.
Dystopian Wars was deservedly praised when it was first launched in 2010, given how the core rules encapsulated all theatres of engagement with the later supplements being entirely optional. Thus it was with some trepidation and suspicion that I approached the second edition of the game, as I recall all too clearly Games Workshop’s incessant (and unnecessary) revising of their Warhammer systems.
Since Dystopian Wars’ release, Spartan Games had identified the need to streamline their rules to make it a faster and more dynamic system. The first way they sought to achieve that was by eliminating the overwhelming number of “Model Assigned Rules” for the units.
In order to maintain game balance, some units will have changed more than others. Although the rules have been revised, all of the previously released miniatures remain valid (updated listings for each faction have been freely released).
An unfortunate side-effect of the rules being updated was that whilst the miniatures were (thankfully) still valid, their corresponding unit cards were not. These cards were fantastic for swift at-a-glance reminders of a unit’s capabilities and,whilst the new unit images are far clearer and allow greater ease of identification, we now have to resort to flicking through pages of the things trying to find the precise one we need.
While I am reliably informed that the game is indeed faster, my play sessions (which included numerous pauses for flicking through the rules) were not discernibly so. The first turn (including set-up) lasted three hours, whilst the second turn took just under one and a half hours. This perhaps might have been due to our inexperience with the new rules or the banter between players, but Dystopian Wars still remains a long game.
This is not to say that Dystopian Wars 2.0 is a bad game, but the second edition would have benefited from further streamlining. This is a war game that is only suitable when you have several hours available, and thus it is not as easy to find the time to play, compared with other games.
Nonetheless, the second edition of Dystopian Wars continues to be an excellent system for epic war games in a detailed steampunk setting.
The combination of air, ground and sea forces opens a diverse series of options for players, and the possibilities for playing unique scenarios, such as beach landings and ports using air and sea forces against embedded ground forces.
The presentation and formatting is – as always – excellent. The gorgeous (and unfortunately weighty) hard-bound book is clearly formatted and beautifully illustrated, with a handy index at the rear for quick rules finding.