|by TroC--czarnyrobert at deviantART|
With most of our RPG group unavailable, the few of us able to get together played a game of Dystopian Wars from Spartan Games. John/vonshoot was kind enough to run a demo game for me and Joel, with me taking on the role of the noble Brits and Joel as the ruthless Prussians.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, Dystopian Wars is set in an alternate past, one of the innumerable Steampunk style what-ifs. There are Tesla Cannons, force fields, flying aircraft carriers, robot squids and more slapped on top of Victorian/WWI era warships. If you're familiar with basic "real" naval tactics, a lot of that seems to translate over into the game, which is nice. The big ships can easily overpower smaller ones, but smaller ships can provide cheap extra defense to other nearby ships, helping to protect against aircraft and torpedoes, which gives you a reason to include them.
For our game, we each had a battleship, three cruisers, three destroyers, and two bombers. I have no idea if the points were balanced or not, but it felt pretty evenly matched. The game was pretty easy to pick up, at least with someone running it and looking up charts for us. I was surprised at how big the ships were; I thought that they would be a lot smaller for some reason. Looking at my keyboard, the battleships were about as long as my spacebar and three key rows wide, the destroyers about as big as the enter or backspace keys. Through Teutonic treachery and good play, Joel won the game, capturing my battleship while he was at it. Thankfully the admiral died during the boarding action and will not have to live with that dishonor.
A lot of the designs seem cool, though some are over the top in kind of a tacky way. I'm biased though so don't let that stop you. I think things like giant robotic squid are cool, but giant tanks with colonnaded domes are a bit much, crossing over into levels of excess that would give Games Workshop designers or anime artists pause.
Bottom line it was a fun game, definitely worth playing. The startup costs seem pretty low too if you want to get a small fleet of your own. For example, here's a bundle with the fleet I had plus six extra small ships: BRITS