Dust 1947 is the current version of the panzer punk tabletop wargame created by Paolo Parente and Dust Studios. Dust has been through several versions with several different publishing companies. We're going to be looking at the current version, Dust 1947, with the full rulebook published in 2016. This article is going to look at the Battle for Zverograd 2-player starter set.
The Battle for Zverograd 2-player starter set is available in three different versions, depending on your choice of forces. There are three different forces, the Axis, Allies and SSU and the three different sets include different combinations of those. The same units are included for each force, the only difference is in the combination. Players can choose either the:
- Axis vs Allies
- Allies vs SSU
- SSU vs Axis
We asked for the SSU vs Axis set because the walkers for both of those forces look incredible.
Inside the 2-player starter set, you get everything you need to 2-players including:
- 2 different forces including unit stat cards
- 1 starter rulebook
- 2 double-sided gaming mats
- 4 terrain tiles, 2 objective tiles, 2 3D tank traps, and a building map overlay
- 24 dice (12 for each force)
As a starter set product, it is incredibly punchy. The miniatures come assembled (the walkers require the arms inserting, but they just slide straight into the holes), primed in clear recognizable color and most have unit/army decals on them. The to-table time for the components is on par with X-Wing and we love the miniatures themselves. The Axis and SSU miniatures in the starter sets are full of personality and motion.
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All the factions in the starter set come with 1 hero, 1 walker unit and 2 infantry squads each. The included factions aren't equal points-wise, but they are balanced on the tabletop. The SSU units come in at 33 points, while the Axis forces are 42. The Axis units are armed with some incredible equipment, whereas the SSU rely on numbers of overwhelming firepower.
Our favorite unit is the heavily armed and armored Blutkreuz Korps, a heavy laser grenadier squad. They are able to ignore a lot of damage and also dish out devastating firepower if they can accurately bring their weapons to bear.
Dust 1947 has two modes of play in the full rulebook, but out of the starter set, beginners are taught to play with the grid system. The grid system is a 2D method of playing and all measurements and line of sight rules are covered by the grid itself. Movement is measured by the square, as is range and line of sight are measured from the dot in the center of the square to the dot in the center of the square a unit is firing at.
Cover and blocking line of sight is easily worked out. If a square doesn't have a dot, it blocks line of sight, if a shot passes through the corner of a square without a dot, it gives cover to the unit.
Several overlays come in the 2-player starter set, a building overlay, 4 terrain tiles, 2 objective tiles and 2 3D tank traps that give cover to infantry units and stop vehicles moving through them.
Actions in Dust 1947 alternate between each player and each unit can activate once per turn and perform two actions in any order, but not the same action twice. Units are able to move, attack, use a special ability, march (a two action move) or sustained attack (a two action attack).
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Each unit in Dust 1947 comes with its own stat card. These cards show a picture of the unit on the front (so they and their weapons can be identified) and then a cross-reference chart on the back for combat.
The top line of the back of the card shows the two movement values for the unit (1 action or 2 action movement) and then the unit type. When a unit attacks another, you select the weapon you are using and then find that target unit on the chart. There are then two numbers, the first is the amount of dice rolled and the second is the damage per successful hit.
The Ludwig Tank Hunter, an Axis walker unit is a Vehicle 4 unit. The Red Army Close Combat Squad are armed with a Flamethrower and 4 Shotguns. Finding a Vehicle 4 on their chart, the Flamethrower would do blast damage (which is 1 dice per unit in the grid square being targeted, in this case, 1 dice for 1 walker) and 2 damage. The shotguns aren't able to damage the Vehicle 4, as the cross-reference grid is blank for that.
This grid chart makes working out combat very fast as this is the only table you need for each unit. There are no maths to work out for modifiers or stats comparisons.
Dust 1947 also uses custom dice, which have 2 copies of 3 symbols on them. Each dice has 2 Hits, 2 Shields and 2 Faction Symbols. When rolling to hit, the number of dice listed on the weapon grid are rolled and each Hit symbol rolled is a hit. Some units are elite, and hits are also counted on the Faction Symbol as well.
Defence is dependent on the type of cover or armor the unit has. Infantry units are able to hit the dirt, so even when out of cover, they can roll one dice per hit the unit receives, and the hit is ignored on a Faction Symbol. If the infantry unit is in cover, they save on a Faction Symbol and Shield. Vehicle units only save on a Faction Symbol when in cover, because they are easy targets when in the open. Some units have additional armor or saving throws listed on their unit card like the SSU Grand'Ma, which has Damage Resilience and gets to roll a dice for each hit taken, ignoring the hit for each Faction Symbol rolled.
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Heroes and vehicle units have their amount of wounds marked on their unit card, and dry-wipe markers can be used to keep track of hits taken. Infantry units have their members removed from the board for each hit taken, the choice of which figures by the player who owns the unit.
Combat is very brutal and we found units decimated quickly if left out of position. The Ludwig is especially good at tearing through infantry units.
It's very easy to see which types of units your units work well against, and positioning and timing are key to winning in the Dust 1947 starter sets as the forces are so tight. Games can look very one-sided if things go badly to start with, but we were able to pull a couple of games back, despite having units completely removed early on.
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The Dust 1947 Battle for Zverograd 2-Player Starter Set is an incredible entry-level wargame product. The rules are tight and the components make it the fastest wargame playable out of the box. The miniatures themselves are fantastic and even with the limited forces in the starter set, each faction has its own personality.
Games are fast and brutal, and bad decisions are punished quickly, so learning from your mistakes is as essential as unit knowledge, your own and your enemies.
Veteran wargamers might find the 2D grid play too limiting, and will want to progress to the full rulebook quickly.
The full rulebook is available for free on the Dust website, as are all the cards for each unit. Starter sets are also available for other factions and different forces within each faction, and we'll explore some of those as we continue our journey and adventures in Dust 1947.
This copy of Dust 1947 was provided by Warfactory / Dust Studio.
Have you played Dust 1947? Have you played previous versions of Dust? Which is your favorite faction or unit? Let us know in the comments below.