According to my mother, I’ll probably be late to my own funeral.
She told me this when I was a kid, mainly because I tended to be slow and meticulous with things that didn’t need that kind of attention. She was right, mind you – I can be ridiculously slow (and slow-witted) at times, and only Goodness knows why.
I mention this because I’ve only recently developed an interest in Dust Tactics.
Go ahead and laugh.
On the off-chance that you’re not familiar with the game or the game-universe, Dust Tactics (and its various incarnations) depict a world where the Second World War follows a very different path than what happened. After Hitler is assassinated in 1943, a disgruntled Wehrmacht sees an opportunity for Germany to achieve an honorable peace. The Soviets, however, are left out of the loop, and due to a misunderstanding, they’ve now declared war on the remaining Allies. Along the way, the Chinese and the Japanese get involved, Florida is invaded, and everyone involved has unleashed new armaments developed with newly discovered alien technology.
Sadly, I don’t own the core set, which is kind of a blessing – I’ll explain that later. I had a chance, about two years ago, however, to snag a copy of it on a clearance table that was going for about $60; I thought it was too much for something that I knew nothing about, so I put it back on the shelf. In fact, I remember the incident as if it were yesterday – “I’m going to check and if it’s legit, I’ll be back tomorrow.”
If that were only true. “Tomorrow” never really comes, where I’m concerned. I can’t begin to count the number of regrets I have because I’d talked myself into “coming back tomorrow.” Too many to count, that’s for certain. Anyway, I left that store and soon found other adventures in which to involve myself, quickly forgetting about the box that caught my eye. In fact, it wasn’t until last September before I’d even given Dust a second thought.
Visiting another gaming store, I came across another clearance table. Price-wise, this was nothing to write home about: Many of the “sale” items were only a few dollars down from list, so it was no wonder that the own had so much inventory still on his hands. But I did see two of the Dust Tactics books on hand: The Core Rule Book and Operation Zverograd. I remembered my earlier interest, and perhaps foolishly, convinced myself to research the game again, before investing any money. There were several copies of each, and given the pricing, I was reasonably certain that none of them were going anywhere. Worst that could happen, frankly, was that the shop could close its doors before I came back, thus time was of the essence.
Two days later, I was back. I’d done some cursory research on Dust Tactics, and knew enough to say that it was something I’d definitely find interesting, giving its alternate historical timeline. I grabbed those two books – by now, the materials were half-off, so if it proved to be a bust, I was only out of $30. I could live with that.
But now I’d been bitten by the Dust Tactics bug. Another visit (and twenty bucks) later, I had a couple of boxes of game figures. Just before Black Friday, Fantasy Flight Games, which marketed the game, began a massive sale of Dust Tactics accessories, figures, and books. This was cool from my perspective, because another $40 investment netted me nearly $150 worth of merchandise. I was on my way! That sale on Amazon? Wow – two more add-on sets for $25! A building set here, and Quonset huts there? I’m on it! I spent weeks reading what I could find, downloading various manuals, books, and add-ons; following Dust related blogs and websites . . . I was in full-blown addiction mode, and I hadn’t even played a game yet.
That store with the core set? Of course, it was gone. No one could get it for me, either. When I did find a copy on Ebay, it was nearly $300, and that was used. All while this was going on, I was curious as to why none of the local stores carried anything Dust related. It never occurred to me to ask them about it.
When I finally approached a store manager about the game, he gave me the skinny. Told me about how he’d refused to stock Dust after that “Kickstarter incident.”* How he’d simply boxed up his armies and put them in his basement. How his friends, who’d likewise supported the game, did the same. How he felt there wasn’t a lot of interest left in the game because things had gotten too expensive and bizarre.
This is why I’m glad that I didn’t buy that core set. Because while I’d have a few more figures and terrain tiles than I have now, I would have simply stared at that box and thought, “Sixty bucks, and for what?” I had to know that I’d never get anyone else interested in zombies, werewolves, killer gorillas, and walking tanks.
Seriously – what was I thinking?
I could pursue it, he told me, but I’d just be wasting money. I didn’t tell him that I’d already come to the same conclusion. All said and done, I probably shelled out $150 on Dust Tactics. Strangely, I don’t regret this – not one bit. When I learned about Dust Adventures RPG, I reasoned that my investment could still pay off, just in a different way. When DrivethruRPG put the volume and its add-on adventure on sale some months back, I went ahead and purchased it.
Do I feel bad about my time with Dust? No, not really. After all, a similar game – Konflikt 47, by Warlord Games – was released about a year ago, and since that game is a reworking of Bolt Action, I see some interesting possibilities ahead.
* I know little about that incident, so I’m only repeating what was said to me.