I have played this once and found it quite lacking. Asked friend of mine who did review this to one huge gaming website and he allowed me to post following here, his review which i think is very accurate.
This review is not about the contents of the box. Its undeniable that the box contains some pretty amazing articles, especially for the price.
Nor is this about the context or the theme.
What this article is about, is an opinion from an avid and well versed tabletop wargamer/boardgamer reviewing the game itself, its design and the gameplay.
The disassociation of scale
Its always a challenge to a game designer to create a believable simulated environment when the game is supposed to be scaled. Some games use abstracted scales simply to afford space for the game itself, actual maneuvering in balance to reference the locations and resolution of terrain and event interaction. With such dynamic (non-abstract) figures at 28mm, this game should be played on no less than a 4'x4' table and only for the purposes of small skirmish style combat. The game contradicts itself right off the bat with the scale of the figures and the actual size of the playing surface and the resolution of the tiles.
Most tabletop wargames are a bit tight on the scale, but Dust Tactics takes this to an almost comical level. Massive mechanized walker tanks are mere yards away from foot soldiers. In a game that is utilizing the massive theaters and awe inspiring battles of WWII to both lure in gamers via a safe, established genre and to create a similar style of warfare, it sure fails in fidelity to that type of warfare. At least with games like Incursion, its scaled appropriately to commando style missions, but when everything is laid on the table, Dust tactics sure is pretty to look at, but its almost ludicrous to imagine that there is either a small scale front or skirmish taking place. Its essentially, bypassing all events leading up to these small band of forces facing off against each other. It should probably be stated in the rulebook, "Each an every scenario is at the climax of heavy casualty operation, where the opposing forces are now mere yards away from each other and down the last few soldiers." But further reading of the box material does almost the opposite of this.
The 81 pixel map to the 5 Megapixel stats
I know I'm going overboard here with the salemanship of the word "tactics", but I just wish to emphazize that this game is far from an engaging, sophisticated, having tactics or even believable as a wargame. Most of this breaks down to the tiles. The tiles are large, mostly identical and have square geometry. So, you possibilities of movement, where to fire are both limited and predictable. Not much resolution and the fact that everything snaps to the center circles and are further constrained by drawing lines from center circles to other circles not crossing corners offers even less resolution to movement and firing. This snapping of locations and LoS is another contradiction to the scale and potential of the game as it doesn't help justify having a fluid unit of personal and size of a tank that obviously can see each other but because but can't "see" or shoot each other. Further confounding this is the attempt at realistic stats of the weaponry. "We're gonna make shooting believable with range and damage modifiers on distance, but make the actual distances abstracted." The model and weaponry stats themselves are actually really great but feel wasted on how they are utilized in the game.
Did something just happen? Wait, did we just play a game?
I read that so many people love that the game is fast paced. I don't mind fast paced and simple, but when the salesmanship of the game is centered around something as grand, strategic and tactical as WWII, fast paced isn't gonna help capture any of that. In fact, this game is blitzschnell. Move, roll dice, pick up models; move, roll dice, pick up models, game over. Excuse me? I didn't really employ any kind of strategy, didn't really need to decide on any tactics, and didn't really execute any difficult decisions. I feel wholly rewarded in my victory via lack of effort.
My options to move are limited and almost forced, there really isn't any difficulty in what and at what I should be firing and its not like I need to take care how I position or face my troops. Move, roll, pick up.
I've played a few games and have watched a few games and nothing ever last longer than 25 minutes. It takes just as long to set up.
"That's the beautiful part though Guillermo, you can play many games in a short period of time."
The problem I have with this is that the games aren't all that different from one another. The largest determining force in this game is the dice. The tiles aren't that highly different, there isn't a whole lot of different list constructions, the resolution of the game itself is very broad, and there isn't a whole lot of skills or abilities aside from moving and shooting. So dice are gonna dictate everything. If I'm gonna play a game like that, I'll play Zombie Dice.
At least some games that have low resolution of movement and combat have other elements at play, like card decks or items, or even events that occur from the tiles themselves.
Who's the cutey at the end of the bar?
I can see that the game can transform itself with lots of expansions, new troops, new tiles to choose from and expanding the play surface to better accommodate the scale, but some of the above short comings will still be present and at that point this will be a very expensive, LARGE and underwhelming experience.
I admit that this game had been tugging mischievously at my eyes, but I knew I'd have to wait and see.
So this game is like a knock-out gorgeous babe sitting at the end of the bar that you can't stop looking at all night. When you finally approach her, she's sounds like donkey with buck teeth, bad breath and is a blithering ditz.
The end affect of having a fully scaled, gorgeously presented set of miniatures and terrain that have high resolution stats, but low resolution terrain, little to no abilities or skills from which to choose from and no third party affects or events with which to respond to has this game straddling both the tabletop miniature world and the simple boardgame wargame genre and it can't make a decision on what it wants to be so it fails miserably at both.
This game should abandon the tiles it has and either develop a new format of higher resolution tiles or switch entirely to a full-fledged tabletop wargame and take advantage of spectrums rather than snap points.