This past weekend I attended Dust World Expo (DWE) 2016. DWE is an annual celebration of all things Dust, a game of alternative, sci-fi flavored WWII. DWE is typically attended by the most hard-core Dust players as well as most, if not all, of the Dust design team. As many gamers know, Dust has been on the ropes a bit recently, having suffered a Kickstarter meltdown. I have my opinions on the matter, but suffice it to say I love the setting and the game(s) and think the company are good people, and I am sticking to my support for it.
Last year I attended Gencon and really enjoyed the Dust tournament and meeting the team. So I decided early on I would attend DWE. It is held at Falcon Field, Arizona at the Commemorative Air Force Museum. The site is just fantastic. Here are a few shots of what's there.
A MiG, comrades!
The inside of the museum where the events take place. Quite a setup!
Some of the local Dust color.
The Expo consists of two days of events. Saturday is for tournaments. There are separate ones for Dust Tactics, using the gridded play board, Dust Battlefield, using Tactics rules on the tabletop, and Dust Warfare, which was a separate system designed by FFG. I counted about 20 tournament players overall, with perhaps 40 attendees all told. The theme of this year's event is "Operation Babylon" the Allies attempt to destroy Axis forces in the Iraqi region of the Middle East, contested of course by the SSU who are also out to control the region.
I play Dust Battlefield these days, and so that was the tournament I chose. As the theme of this year's event was desert battles, sandstorm rules were in effect, meaning that LOS and range could be severely curtailed. Also, any flying units would be grounded and unusable. This meant no one risked taking flying units in the tournament. My favorite faction is the Sino-Soviet Union (SSU) and I took the following 100-point list:
2x Matrioshka heavy walker
1x Mao Zedong heavy tank
1x Spetnaz Saboteurs squad
1x Spetnaz Heavies squad
1x Spetnaz Killers squad
1x Sisters of Demolition mercenary squad
My thinking was I would need plenty of heavy firepower but also lots of close-ranged support and warm bodies for contesting and seizing objectives.
The first mission was Encounter, a meeting engagement. Both sides place 2 objectives and of a player can control an enemy objective at the end of a round, the game ends.
GAME 1: In my first game I player Richard, who fielded a gorgeous Axis army with a lot of walkers, as pictured:
Turn one: No sandstorm. Axis walker advances and pops smoke
Another walker takes up a position on my left.
My scouts enter the field. Yes, I am going to deploy my walkers last to avoid enemy fire.
My Heavies deploy in cover and are camouflaged.
My Saboteurs advance on the right.
Another Axis walker appears.
Spetnaz kill team advances rapidly onto the field.
Oops, here come sthe Wotan laser walker,
And I lose 3 men!
The Mao tank appears and puts some dings on a Ludwig walker, but fails to destroy it.
Another jagdluther appears, but fails to damage the Mao.
One Matrioshka arrives and damages the Jagdluther in the open.
An overview as my last Matrioshka, piloted by Ivan arrives.
Ivan finishes off the wounded Jagdluther!
Turn 2: No sandstorm. SSU takes priority and the Mao uses a sustained fire action to finish off the wounded Luther.
The Wotan finishes off my Killers squad with its MGs.
And the Wotan's lasers scrap Nikolai's Matrioshka!
My remaining Matrioshka takes out the Luther hiding in smoke.
My Matrioshka in the woods survives return fire, and I advance the Saboteurs toward the right objective.
Turn 3: No sandstorm. Wotan advances and fires, damaging but not killing the Mao tank.
However the Wotan neutralizes 4 of 5 Saboteurs!
Nikolai summons a replacement vehicle, and the green Matrioshka returns to the field. It gets lucky and destroys the Wotan!
Having no further activations, Richard turns it over to me. And with that, the last Saboteur walks to the objective and captures it!
Conclusion: I won game one with a humble Type 1 infantryman surviving a hail of fire to take the point, scoring 6 tournament points The armor battle went well for me, clearing the way for this comrade ti finish the job. Thanks to Richard for a good game. I can't remember the exact totals but I believe the kill points were about 50-30 in my favor.
Game 2: For game 2 my opponent was Bryan, a very nice guy who came all the way down from Canada. He also plays SSU and had a great army which managed to not only out-armor but out- number me as well! This scenario was exactly the same as the first in objectives, except half our forces would come on as delayed reserves and their location determined by a die roll. That last part we totally forgot, by the way.
Here is Bryan's well-rounded force.
Turn One: I deploy my heavies out in cover and camouflage once again.
An enemy Matrioshka appears and I respond with my own, but behind cover.
Another Matrioshka arrives and fires at my walker, missing. I return fire with my other walker and also miss! Amateurs!
The Fury of Ivan, with an imposter Nikolai, arrives and inflict damage on my camouflaged walker.
The Mao tank with the real Nikolai arrives...
...and shows them how it's done! Scratch one imposter walker!
Impersonator Nikolai bails out!On our left, the infantry has been advancing with no fire exchanged.
Turn 2: The sandstorm arrives and ranges are reduced. Nonetheless the Mao tank, piloted by Nikolai, opens up and destroys a Matrioshka.
Sadly return fire destroys the Mao as well!
Reinforcements arrive...my spotters run for cover.
So do the mercenary Sisters of Demolition.
Chinese volunteers appears across the field and grab some cover.
For some unknown reason, I advance the Heavies toward the enemy objective...
...only to be mowed down by close range walker fire!
SSU troops rush the sideling, hoping to threaten the left objective.
The Saboteurs advance and eliminate some Chinese volunteers.
Then another squad appears from the table edge and gets revenge! Somehow I forgot Bryan still had reinforcements! They had not arrived previously and just slipped my mind.
My Matrioshka advances to get into a range where the enemy is more vulnerable (sandstorms at short range provide cover, and at long range also provide re-rolls to cover saves) and hits twice, but Bryan makes both saves!
My SSU rethink their advance as enemy reinforcements continue to shore up the left, and a Matrioshka moves to threaten my objectives.
Turn 4: Return fire misses my Matrioshka.
Bryan advances two units to threaten both my objectives.
I finally down the wounded enemy Matrioshka on my right with sustained fire from my remaining walker.
I also eliminate the infantry hiding behind the rock formation.
The Killers try to hit the Matrioshka on my left with RPGs, but only damage it.
The Sisters attack but totally fail to damage the Matrioshka, but do take out a few infantrymen in the woods with their grenade launchers.
Turn 5: Bryan gets initiative, and Bryan engages my Sisters infantry, but Nikolai summons a replacement tank, which shows up on the objective and shoots first his infantry...
...then blasts a hole in the rear armor of the Matrioshka!
Tune in to my next installment for the third and final round as well as some other gaming highlights and convention high points!
TO Patrick with epic selfie attempt!