Saturday, 1 August 2009

Albion attacks Bwendi Again - Dirtside 2

I have owned Dirtside 2 since before 1997 and after 1994. I know this because I remember buying it in the comics shop in Bedford when I worked for the archaeology unit there and those were the dates of my sojourn in Bedfordshire. However, I had never played the rules until this Thursday just gone. That is a shame because we had a cracking good game and the rules worked really well. I had feared that they might be a bit crunchy, but as it was they actually played very smoothly. The only downside to the game is that it was very one-sided and Steve took the brunt of the bad luck. I do prefer a closer match.

We chose to fight a standard 3000 point encounter battle, with each of us setting out 3 objective markers. The markers were all drawn randomly from the pool of objective markers so we did not know what points values each of us had drawn. All of mine were worth one point each. Bah! I found out afterwards that Steve had drawn two 2s and a 3! One objective marker had to be placed in our rear areas (the third of the table closest to our base edge), while the remainder had to be placed in the centre third of the table (the main battle area). The red circles on the set-up picture below show their locations.

My force consisted of the HQ group, two tank troops, two armoured infantry platoons and a heavy SPG troop. Steve had, if I remember correctly, an HQ group, two heavy tank troops and an armoured infantry platoon. I outnumbered him significantly and, as I found out, he had taken a totally different approach from me to building his force. I bought small tanks with big guns and very few frills. Steve bought big tanks (his Scotia tanks were twice the size of mine, literally!) with smaller guns but loaded up with stealth options.

The Set-Up (click pic for larger version throughout)

One unit of Steve's tanks is missing from this picture (on the far right) because of the limitations of my photography expertise. The arrows show the approximate movements of the units throughout the game.

Steve began the game by advancing a unit of tanks down his left flank. I promptly proved that I had actually read the rules by declaring opportunity fire. Three hit rolls later, two tanks were in flames and one had suffered a catastrophic failure of all its systems and it had also lost its drive train. The systems could be brought back online but it would never move again.

On his right flank, Steve moved a heavy tank troop into the military industrial complex to seize the objective there. I responded by advancing my headquarters troop to try to drive him from it. Suddenly all the target training I had given my troops seemed to desert them. They were right up next to these tanks and could not hit a thing. Fortunately, Steve seemed to have forgotten to train his own troops in how to shoot too!

Meanwhile, in the centre of the battlefield, Steve advanced his infantry forward and I did the same. My green troops advanced into the woods in my rear area to seize that objective and never moved from there for the rest of the game. Did I mention that troop quality was determined by a chit draw? I drew 2 green units, 1 elite unit and the rest were average. Steve's troops were all average and mostly with average commanders, while my command ratings were all over the place. In the picture below you see me triumphantly moving my troops up to the edge of the middle woods, supported by an armoured troop, and loudly declaring, "Hah, this objective is mine!" I then realised that the objective was actually in the woods at the top of the picture and said, "Oh, bother!" Doh!

I did move my infantry up to the woods with the objective in later, and managed to hold it. Steve brought his infantry up to try to take it, but I countered with some devious tank movements to chase his APCs off. Meanwhile, I had managed to smoke two of his tanks in the industrial area, had finished off the third one on his left flank and had occupied five of the objectives. At that point I declared game end. Under the rules, once you control more than half the objectives, you can declare game end. That said, it had not been easy. I spent many turns failing to hit Steve's vehicles. Similarly, he failed to hit mine and the one time he did, he scored a firer systems failure; the gunner pulled the trigger and the blue screen of death showed up instead of brewing up my APC. Such was Steve's luck throughout the game.

The final situation with arrows to show approximate troop movements:

The game was great fun and we played it through in 1.5 hours despite never having played before. The rules worked smoothly and the only thing that spoiled the game was Steve's abysmal luck. I'm sure he will do better next time. From my own perspective, I got the impression that numbers will tell in DS2; the more shots you get off the more chance you have of hitting and hurting the enemy. Steve's lack of numbers was a contributory factor in losing the game. The stealth systems he had worked well though. I spent several turns firing everything I had at him and missing every single time! I do like the opposed die roll system for hitting. That works well and is fun. It also keeps both players involved all the time, as does the alternate activation mechanism, where each player alternates activating one unit at a time. All in all, DS2 s well worth trying if you like 6mm sci-fi and it is available free from the Ground Zero Games website.

Our next planned game will be FutureWarsCommander using the same figures. We shall also return to DS2 but with bigger forces and more variety of vehicles.


  1. Dirtside is great fun and a good game to run at a convention. All the chrome can be hidden in the background and players can just have unit cards that spell everything out for them.

    Great battle report. Thanks!

  2. Glad you liked the report. The rules are really simple to run as long as you make up the data cards beforehand. I like that, because you can included everything the player needs to know on the card as you say. We shall definitely play DS2 again.

  3. Really good battle report. What did your artillery do?

  4. The SPGs shot a couple of times and missed very early in the game, then they spent the battle driving around and finally parked on an objective. Effectively they did nothing!

  5. I have owned DS 2 for probably as long as you have and have played it a record 3 times! It's a great little system, but in my opinion the chit drawing is a bit outdated. Still, for a free game (these days), you can't go wrong!