This game has recently caught my eye. I think the minis look great, and even if I don't like the rules I can always use the mini with another Victoria Sci-fi type ruleset.
I'd like to try getting something like a basic core or starter set. Is the Battle of Iceland a good place to start? Or would folks just recommend a rule book and maybe a collection of some minis?
There are two different games here. Dystopian Wars 2.0 (the rules and model stats are all free to download from the Spartan Website). And Dystopian Wars Fleet Action (the rules come in the Iceland box and are available separately, the stats are free to download from the Spartan site).
Dystopian Wars is a more complex and nuanced game system. Games of around 1000 points should take around 2-3 hours to play through. The game has many detailed interactions, though the rules are pretty easy to grasp once you get the models on the table. The Starter set for Dystopian Wars is called Operation Shadow Hunter.
Dystopian Wars Fleet Action is a quick playing game that should last around an hour. It sacrifices some nuances for speed, and you'll find that things can die pretty quickly. The starter set for Fleet Action is called Operation Iceland.
Both games are good - Dystopian Wars is a bigger, more tactical battle, Fleet Action is a faster, bloodier battle.
Both games use the same models. So if you get Iceland, you can use the ships in both Fleet Action and Dystopian Wars.
Both games are great, though I am biased as I am a developer for both.
The models are gorgeous - but see above for bias.
I do not play Dystopian, but I know the Firestorm side of Spartan Games, where they offer the same two types of games (Firestorm Armada and Firestorm Taskforce), so I think it is valid to draw some parallels.
In addition to what Giles has said the lighter ruleset (Firestorm Taskforce and probably Dystopian Fleet Action) are not only well suited for shorter more intro level games but also - due to the simplified model statistics and streamlined rules - work very well for very large engagements. So, if you intend on playing games with let's say 50 models per side, I think Fleet Action might be the better option for you.
I personally like the full ruleset a bit better as ships tend to die very fast when playing with the quicker rulesets.
In terms of value I think that the starters for the quicker rulesets are well worth their money, but the same is true for the starter boxes for the full game.