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Liam
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Dust can be contentiously described as an advanced Risk-derivative that adds a good deal of options and strategy while retaining the simple world domination paradigm.

Introduction:

Dust is Risk re-designed by an up-to-date team with the backing of a gaming company committed to style. The final game is a hybrid euro-ameritrash-wargame of light to medium weight for two to six players.

This lineage and minimal weight will undoubtedly put off many possible players. In fact before the door hits you on your way out I will say: Dust is the game that you play when casual or non-gamers come round and want to play a good game but you’re sick of Catan or Carcassonne. Thus this lineage and minimal weight are both major pluses.

The producer is Fantasy Flight Games, whom I have a love-hate relationship with. I know their games will look great, aim to provide a deep game that will be driven by many rules and mechanisms, be heavy on theme and take considerable time to play.

While these latter attributes may be a plus to many or even most gameboardgeekers, they are a no-oh-no with the majority of my casual gaming group. A FFG game is generally one that I can only play with a limited number of committed players; it will only come out once every three months and will NEVER be taken out with casual players.

Dust feels like one of the black sheep of the FFG family, while there are family similarities it’s good looking, it breaks the rules: it is casual and even non-gamer friendly! Dust doesn’t take too long to play by FFG standards while offering a fairly simple but enjoyable experience that provides many strategic options… and theme? (cough) we will come to theme.

I generally playfully introduce Dust as, “the game Risk should have been”. The rules take ten minutes to explain and in my experience do not contain any confusing pitfalls for new players. New players mature by turn three and short of seeking clarifications they can be left to devise their own strategy.

What are the key components?


Rules books:
Dust comes with two rulebooks offering an ‘epic’ long game or a shorter ‘premium’ game. While start-up and victory conditions are changed the rest of the rules remain largely the same.

Board:
The game comes with six jigsaw pieces that make a traditional map of earth. The map has both sea and land spaces. Most spaces are normal, with normal land spaces being able to host factories from which units can be built. Additionally there are special spaces that contain power sources and capitals. Power sources and capitals provide victory and production points. At the bottom of the board is the victory point chart.

Units:
The game comes with a huge number of miniatures for each player. Less than 30% will be used in the average game. So kids, drunks and dogs can eat a few.

There are six types of miniature:
(i) Two land units: the tank and mech
(ii) Two air units: the fighter and bomber
(iii) One sea unit: submarine
(iv) Factories: which produce units and can be captured.

Turn cards:
Each player has a hand of cards. Players select one to play each turn and reveal their choices simultaneously. Crucially the choice of card determines the order in which players take their turn. Cards also tell players how many moves and attacks they can make, their additional production points and provide a special ability.

What are the key game Mechanics:

Victory points:

The game is played to a pre-defined number of victory points. Victory points are gained through capitals, power sources, and the player with the most (i) factories, (ii) sea spaces and (iii) land spaces. I really like this mechanism as it creates a clear victor and avoids the never-ending game problem. This said some players may prefer to play to world domination – nothing is stopping you devil

Round order:
Every round a player must follow this order: produce-move-attack. This structure while annoying for new players adds an important element of strategy to the game.

Production points:
Production points come from capitals, cards and power sources. They can be spent on miniatures or additional cards.

Initiative:

Each unit has a pre-defined initiative value. Players add up their units initiative values to find out who rolls first in combat. Rolling first is very important.

Dice:
Combat is based on dice rolls. The game uses six sided dice, two sides are hits and the rest misses. Each hit equates to the death of one unit. A 33.3% chance of a kill with each dice rolled provides a nice balance of risk, which seems to separate ‘gamblers’ from ‘sure-thing’ players.

Unit Destruction:
In normal combat tanks must be killed before mechs and fighters before bombers. This provides a strategic incentive for mixed army makeups and an opportunity to raise or spread risk.

Player elimination:
Player elimination is possible in Dust, however it is not rewarded therefore generally not worth the effort and so is uncommon in our games. This said towards the end of the game or in crowded games elimination becomes more likely.

Luck and Strategy
Overall luck is a significant factor in Dust due to the mechanics of rolling dice and drawing turn cards. At the same time luck is not insurmountable; a strategic player will generally beat a lucky player.

Turtling:
Turtling is not rewarded in Dust. Players need to expand to increase production and gain victory points. This helps make games fluid and exciting.

Theme (Saving the worst for last):


The game theme feels sprayed on. The Dust theme, from a graphic novel(?), is limited to five manifestations: the box cover, the mech unit, the special ability mech drop, the story on the first age of the rulebook and the images on the turn cards. I have never seen the Dust graphic novel and there is no requirement to have any knowledge of it to enjoy the game. Further I suspect if you bought Dust because you were a fan of the graphic novel you would be greatly disappointed.

Due to this gamers who can’t stomach Sci-Fi should not be put off Dust - call the mechs artillery and its no longer sci-fi. To reiterate the Dust theme is very patchy at best and a spray tan at worst.

Conclusion

Is Dust a perfect game?

Nope. There are questions to do with how balanced the starting locations are, the price of mechs and bombers has been accused of being too high and inevitably due to the conflict driven nature of Dust a positive gaming experience is not always ensured. Equally, while I especially advocate the game for use with causal and non-gamers, as with most games, experienced players can destroy novices and ruin the game for them.

Who is not going to like Dust?

Hardcore boardgamers, anti-wargamers, hardcore wargamers, eurogamers who don’t like luck or the possibility of player elimination, ameri gamers who expect theme or really don’t like victory point charts…

In short, potentially, a great many people. This is Dust’s greatest commercial weakness and potentially why Dust, while great, remains neglected and dusty on GBG.

Dust is an intermediate. The game is neither simple Risk nor complex wargame, it borrows from euro and ameri traditions, its ‘theme’ exists without commitment and it’s a designer game but also a Risk-derivative.

Who is going to like Dust?


Anyone who has enjoyed Risk ever. Anyone who is looking for a gateway to wargaming or more complex games generally. Anyone who enjoys light to medium weight wargames. Anyone who is looking for a ‘new’ good game to play with casual or non-gamers.

With or without critical acclaim Dust is a very enjoyable game provided in a great overall package that works really well with casual or non-gamers.

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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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I don't think Dust is remotely like Risk. You conquer the world, and there are dice. That's about it. A far better analogy would be Axis & Allies, which also has various unit types, with differing costs, movement, and combat capabilities. Dust is an excellent game, one of the best ever produced in its genre.
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Liam
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Hi,

I though comparing Dust to Risk might bring some discussion whistle.

Risk, for me, is the archetype world domination game that uses dice and coming from my perspective of playing with casual gamers it's a really helpful, alluring and powerful touchstone.

When I say derivative I mean so as a compliment. It's not an accusation of copying or said to belittle Dust. I would equally say that Axis and Allies is also an advanced derivative of Risk.

Calling them derivatives is not to say they are clones just that one can draw an inevitable relational line between them. Neither Dust nor Axis and Allies are revolutionary therefore they are derivative of other games, particularly in my mind Risk.

This said it depends upon one's definition or threshold of derivation.

Sphere wrote:

Dust is an excellent game

Agreed!
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Stephen Keller
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Sphere wrote:
I don't think Dust is remotely like Risk. You conquer the world, and there are dice. That's about it. A far better analogy would be Axis & Allies...


I don't get why people have to oppose obvious comparisons. Both games feature a world map divided into regions. Both feature units and combat. For the majority of people this is at least a valid segue.

Risk is like Axis & Allies on some level. Axis & Allies is like Dust on some level. If you accept the previous as valid then Dust is like Risk on some level.

When I try to sell people on the premise of Dust the first and obvious analogy is to Risk. Why? Well, there's a lot better chance of people having even heard of Risk as opposed to any other similar game.

I also draw comparisons to Risk when describing Twilight Imperium or Nexus Ops. All the games mentioned are in the same genre but most non-gamers have probably heard of (and even played) Risk.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Synnical77 wrote:
I don't get why people have to oppose obvious comparisons.

Perhaps because we don't all see things in the same way?

Synnical77 wrote:
Both games feature a world map divided into regions. Both feature units and combat. For the majority of people this is at least a valid segue.

Risk is like Axis & Allies on some level. Axis & Allies is like Dust on some level. If you accept the previous as valid then Dust is like Risk on some level.

Humans are like toads at some level. Both are air breathing vertebrates, with lungs and eyes and legs. I seldom find it useful to say humans are like toads, though.
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Patrick Riley
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Synnical77 wrote:
When I try to sell people on the premise of Dust the first and obvious analogy is to Risk. Why? Well, there's a lot better chance of people having even heard of Risk as opposed to any other similar game.


Context is important. For a review on BGG or any similar venue, knowledge of A&A can be assumed and you can use the more accurate descriptor. Sure, if you are selling it to non- or casual-gamers, then Risk might be the better entry point.

Sphere wrote:
Humans are like toads at some level. Both are air breathing vertebrates, with lungs and eyes and legs. I seldom find it useful to say humans are like toads, though.


But there are definitely cases when it's appropriate. There's a reason why frogs are so often the subject of high school biology class. In Your Inner Fish, Niel Shubin explains "... the pattern generator responsible for hiccups is virtually identical to one in amphibians" (what tadpoles use for gill breathing).

So, if you're teaching a world-conquering game to those without a reference to A&A, Risk is a good alternative. But for the BGG audience, using Risk as the reference point is less informative.
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ron embree
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We love "Risk" games, Own,2210, 80's Risk, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Castle Risk, Risk 1993, and risk 2003.
So when a game is described as "Risk like" our ears go up and I go a searching.I searched for "risk like games" and it led me to Dust.
It arrived on my doorstep yesterday and I am now reading the rules and printing off player aids.Also picked up Attack+deluxe exp and Nexus ops.
Thanks for the comments guys, people like me read em
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Liam
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Thanks for your comments too Ron.
Please give us an update on how you find Dust.

whistle
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Andrew Prizzi
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Quote:
Dust is the game that you play when casual or non-gamers come round and want to play a good game but you’re sick of Catan or Carcassonne.


I've always been interested in this game for exactly this purpose. Risk 2210 is one of my favorite games and this looks fun and different enough to be worth owning both. That's why it's such a shame that the choices they went with for the game art- anatomically impossible women falling out of their clothes- means it's something I can't play with the exact people it would be best to play with as mentioned above- casual/non-gamers, kids, family, etc.

If they ever make a DUST: The Less Bust Edition, of the game then I'd pick up with my next order.
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Liam
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So true shake

The cover art is highly undesirable.
I remember when I bought it in person feeling like a shamefaced thirteen year old.
Equally if I am playing with people I don't know well I have removed the cover before they have arrived.

Amazon - Black paint?
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Dok Indigo
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This is one of the best reviews I ever read here on BGG. Short paragraphs, well structured, all important information is given.

I also agree on the pasted on theme and the cover art not being family friendly. But I think that without this pasted on theme it would be harder for Dust to distinguish itself from Risk which doesn't have a theme at all.
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ron embree
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Still trying out the rules, like all the game pieces. Biggest fail for this game is the poorly made map board and player aids.shake
Board is made from 6 puzzle pcs that lock together. Board is not made from good grade cardboard and my board is warped badly, and will not stay together, place a tank marker on the board edge and it rolls off.Later I will glue board to plywood. Player aids are also warped. Yes you can bend them back into some sort of shape. Any one got any ideas that can make parts lay flat and stay that way? Board now looks like the edge of a flying carpet.cry
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Liam
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A flying carpet! surprise Oh dear.

I don't know whether I got lucky or you got unlucky but my board after heavy use is still perfectly flat. I do worry that in the future the puzzle piece connectors will degrade but so far so good.

I had this problem with RoboRally pieces. I found that lying then flat on a soiled table placing a very smooth wooden board on them, weighting it down for a week sorted out my copy. I would have used clamps if I had them.

As for rules we, like others, have opted for some variants that merge the short and long game. Have a look at the variants posts if your interested.

PS.

Hi Hex,

Thanks for the kind feedback! This is my first review, so I am really pleased that it has started some debate and been well received.

I also think you are right about the pasted on theme having a valuable commercial purpose in providing Dust with its own identity.

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Bill Jones
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Liam, very nice review! I personally don't think it's ridiculous that you have compared this game to Risk - as you said while defending the comparison, the average guy on the street actually has some chance of knowing what Risk is since it's so well known.

I own Dust and our group has played it 4 times, most recently last night! I find myself agreeing with the majority of your points, but also have a few nitpicks.

1. Easy to teach in 10 minutes? Hmmm. I would say not possible. It's a 24-page rulebook for the shorter "Premium" game, and you have to know pretty much everything in there. As I said, our group has played Dust four times now, but three of them were between September and December 2009, so when we played last night it had been a good 9 months since our last game. We did have one new player last night, but with that much time in between games all the rest of us were indeed rusty on the rules and consequently it took about 45 minutes to get reacquainted with them and finish the setup step (explaining rules and basic strategies along the way). And for the first hour or two we found ourselves looking through the rulebook to remember how a few things worked.

2. I also don't think Dust is really for casual or non-gamers. Although maybe we have different definitions of casual/non-gamers. To me, my mom is a casual gamer. She teaches Duplicate Bridge and has played Bridge at tournament level all of her adult life (so she is adept at card game strategy). But as far as board games go, she has mostly played things on the level of Backgammon and Scrabble. I introduced her to Carcassonne and in the last year we have played 40 games or so. But, there is absolutely no way she is going to have the patience to sit through a rules explanation of Dust. It's not just that Dust has a lot of rules. It also has a lot of strategy. As you said, (despite the luck factor), an experienced player is going to crush a novice. This fact, to me, means that Dust is a gamer's game. Our group's favorites include Agricola, Steam, Battlestar Galactica, Puerto Rico, Imperial 2030, and El Grande, so we probably qualify as gamers, and yet we find Dust to be as much of a gamer's game as any of the others. In short, I wouldn't say that casual or non-gamers couldn't play Dust, but I think it is aimed more at serious gamers than non-gamers.

3. As much as I love Dust (and I do love it), you need to mention the lack of player aids as a big negative. Who can remember what all 11 Special Abilities do by looking at the pictures on the cards? One of the first things I did was to find a good player aid from this site, print 6 copies of it, then print 6 copies of the Special Abilities from the rulebook, and laminate them back-to-back.

I'm curious how long it takes you to play this game, since you say it doesn't take too long to play by FFG standards? Our group is probably in the minority, but a 5-player Premium-length game of Dust for us is a minimum of 4 hours. (Disclaimer: we cannot play any game in the time advertised on the box! 4-player Agricola takes 2.5 to 3 hours. 4-player Nexus Ops takes 2 hours.)

Oh and one other thing - the board itself is not the best design or quality as some have mentioned. The pieces lock together too tightly (it seems it would be easy to tear them by not being careful when snapping them together or unsnapping them apart); they're rather thin; and the artwork is dreadfully bland compared to the artwork on the box and the cards. * Maybe it's just us, but we also found it somewhat difficult to count the land majorities each round, as the land areas are scattered randomly in non-grid fashion. Did I already count that area or not?

* Note: even though I say the game board is not the best quality, I have no warping issues whatsoever with my copy.

Anyway, after our game last night, we all said that we had forgotten how good (or even great) this game is. The confrontation and interaction is fantastic. There is both short-term and long-term strategy involved, and you need to pay attention to both. And of course with this many dice involved, there will be loud groans at times and bursts of laughter at others. It's all great fun, and why we play in the first place!
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Kassu
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monkeyhandz wrote:


The cover art is highly undesirable.
I remember when I bought it in person feeling like a shamefaced thirteen year old.
Equally if I am playing with people I don't know well I have removed the cover before they have arrived.

Amazon - Black paint?


You'd prefer black women?

Jokes aside, this seems like a very good alternative for those casual sessions, maybe making them happen more often. I am tired of Carcassonne. I don't really mind the theme either, goes with the light-hearted approach and it seems to be somewhat toned down from the actual comics. Thanks for the review!
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monkeyhandz wrote:
So true shake

The cover art is highly undesirable.
I remember when I bought it in person feeling like a shamefaced thirteen year old.
Equally if I am playing with people I don't know well I have removed the cover before they have arrived.

Amazon - Black paint?


I always thought almost everyone was more comfortable with cleavage over in Europe, I thought it was just Americans that felt guilt, embarrassment, and shame thanks to our crazy Puritan history. Even daytime TV in the prudish US has that much cleavage on at any given time.
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Liam
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Alright Stercus, I think our interpretation of the cover is different.

I don’t find cleavage nor the human body embarrassing or shameful. My argument is about this image in the context of the game; not the human body in general.

I do have a problem with a carefully manufactured image of a woman with large cleavage on a wargame cover. The portrayal of sexuality and women is embarrassing, the undercurrent of male domination is shameful and I feel guilty for owning and publicly displaying such an image.

Perhaps it has something to do with the graphic novel but I don’t think it makes any sense when it comes to Dust the game.

"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices". Accepting the absurdity of this cover as normal is to accept the injustice at its base.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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It's just sad that every thread on this game must devolve into a discussion of cleavage. Get over it, folks. Open the box, and you'll find a very good game. Those of you who are more interested in the cover are free to take it in the other room while the rest of us play.
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Liam
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Just replying to a comment.

Love the game; dislike the cover.
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monkeyhandz wrote:
Just replying to a comment.

Love the game; dislike the cover.

I know that, Liam. My remarks are the result of similar discussions in several Dust threads. I wasn't taking a shot at you personally.
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Liam
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No bother
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Jeremy m
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Sphere wrote:
It's just sad that every thread on this game must devolve into a discussion of cleavage.

Look at the BGG images section for Dust, and the whore on the box cover. I think the publisher is trying to appeal to teenage boys who've already played Risk, and are ogling the cover.
Dust may have been a credible Risk or Axis & Allies alternative, but the publisher took this game out of the running with the 'artwork' in the game.
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Roland Wood
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Here's what I can take from this thread:

Before I open the box, Dust might be considered RISQUE
After I open the box, Dust might be considered RISK

Before I open the box, Dust might make me think of A KISS AND LAYS
After I open the box, Dust might make me think of AXIS AND ALLIES

Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmmmmm....
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Liam
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Hmmm really not keen on the term whore but i agree with the sentiment.
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jeremysmartin wrote:
Look at the BGG images section for Dust, and the whore on the box cover.

If you're judgemental enough to think every woman who wears a low neckline is a whore, there's no help for you. Do you own a television? Do you cover your eyes during beer commercials?
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