Tuesday 4 December 2012

A Look at the Dystopian Legions Rules

After posting my first 2 Dystopian Legions reviews, several people asked me about the rules for the game.
You can find the Rulebook on the Spartan Games site in the Downloads Section, but for a lot of gamers hobby time is precious. You don't want to be reading an entire 80 page book for hours just to see if you might like the game and want to order some minis.

So to help out, here is a summary of the game rules and how they work.
I will be going through the books core rules sections and giving you a little overview of each bit. It wont be full rules one by one as you may as well just read the book to begin with if I do that.
If you like what you see, you then know its worth giving the book a decent look!

To start with, its called the 'Quickplay Rulebook'. Most quick play rules give you an overview of the basics and leave it at that. Not this one. Complete rules for everything you need to play a full game at almost any size!
(Apologies for the slightly blurred pictures, had to take them from the PDF)

Dystopian Legions is a D6 based game. It uses 3 different coloured dice though. Black, Blue and Red.

The majority of rules work on a 4+ with any in game + or - effects. Each 4+ is a 'Success' and a  natural roll of a 6 gives a bonus depending on the colour of dice used.
Black 6 is just 1 success, Blue 6 is 2 successes and Red 6 is 2 Successes and roll another Red D6.
As well as - and + to the rolls, you can also get that to the dice colour with special rules. Black at the bottom and Red at the top.


Measurements in the game are counted in 'Bands'. A single Range Band is 8". Weapon stats change the amount of dice and the colour rolled depending on which Band the target is in. The further away, the weaker the shot.

Game Cards
 For each game you get a deck of Force specific Game Cards. You shuffle and draw 5 per turn. These give you special rules or abilities. Once used the card is disposed of. At the end of the turn you can dispose of any you don't want and draw more to bring your hand back up to 5.
There is also the chance to change and build your own deck. Most characters, special units and unit add-ons come with their own cards. These can be swapped for cards from the basic deck to change the way your force plays.

I really like the deck building option. It gives an entire new level to army selection and means the same force can be played several different ways

The game has 2 ways of using Command. The first is your total of 'Command Points'.
These let you use special abilities like 'Focus Fire' and 'Forced March'. Very similar to using Focus in Warmachine. Each commander has a Tier. This gives additional Command Points as shown in the picture above as well as increasing the range they can be used at with each higher Tier.
The second way is 'Command Tests'
These are used for troops fleeing, pulling off command based special actions and even the starting roll of the game. Command Tests are rolled on 3D6 and need a set number of Successes depending on the reason they are being rolled.
A Higher Tier Commander can add dice to the rolls and even change the dice to a higher colour.

Model Types
There are 4 different types of model in the game.
Infantry - Your man (or woman) on foot. This could be an Officer, basic unit (called a Section) or even Elites
Aeronauts - Known to most as Jump Troops. These can walk, Jump or even Fly
Cavalry - Not the horses you would expect. This includes things like 1man Tankettes and Steam Hoverbikes
Ironclads - Your tanks, walkers and armoured forces

Model Stats 
Short explanations for all stats used by Infantry, Ironclads and weapons
Mv - Movement - In inches
IR - Injury Rating - Number of Successes need to cause a single wound
KR - Kill Rating - Number of Successes needed to kill outright
LP - Life Points - aka wounds
MAD - Melee Attack Dice -Number of dice used in hand to hand combat
Weapons and Abilities - Listed in stats
MARs and WARs - Model and Weapon Assigned Rules - The special rules used for this model
R- Rotations - The number of times an Ironclad can turn 90 degrees in a turn
AR - Armour Rating - Number of successes needed to roll on an Ironclads Damage Table
Damage Table - What happens to an Ironclad when its armour is penetrated
HP - Hull Points - The amount of damage an Ironclad can take before being destroyed
RAD - Ranged Attack Dice - Number of dice used in Ranged Attack
IAD - Ironclad Attack Dice - Number of dice used in an attack against an Ironclad
Effective Range - The Range Bands a weapon uses its full power
Long Range - The Range Bands a weapon can fire but drops 1 dice colour

Game Size and Force Building
Games start at 100 points ( a starter set) and go to 350+ points. The chart above shows the board size, number of objectives and terrain pieces recommended.
A Dystopian Legions Platoon (force) has to start with 1 Lieutenant and 1 Mainstay Section (basic unit) You can then add up to 2 more Mainstay Sections, 2 Veteran Support Sections, 2 Characters and 2 Battalion Supports (Ironclads)
To take more of each additional options you must fill the top box and start a new Platoon (force) with the minimum requirements.
So to be able to take 4 Vets, 4 Characters and 4 Ironclads you will need a minimum of 2 Lieutenants and 4 Mainstay Sections.

Activation Cards
Every Section, include single models, gets an Activation Card.
At the start of each turn you take these cards and place them face down in the order you want to activate your models during the turn.
Players then take it in turns to take the top card and use that Section. This continues until all Sections have been used and the turn ends.
The order of cards can be changed by an Officer model activating within 2" of a Section that hasn't been used yet that turn. They can then choose if they want to activate the Section at the same time instead of later in the turn.
Some people have said they don't like the way you set the order you use things at the start of each turn. Personally I think it adds another depth of tactics to the game. You need a bit of forward planning and have to try and read the battlefield and work out what your opponent is going to do.
Gives the feel of orders being sent from a main HQ when there is very little communication in the field. But every now and then an Officer decides to change the plans as he can see what is happening and calls upon the closest Sections to react.

Sections can choose to use different formations when they activate. Open Formation is standard and means each model has to be within 2" of another. Line Formation is when all bases are touching another which in turn is touching another base after that.
When in Line Formation the models do not block each others line of sight and can have extra ranged abilities cards used on them. 
Infantry models use their Mv value in inches and can have an Officer or NCO use Command Points to make them run double Mv or Charge Mv + D6"
Aeronauts can use Command Points to move a second, higher, Mv stat to Jump or double that to Fly
Cavalry can use a basic move or use a Command Point to double that as a Full Speed action or Cavalry Charge.
Ironclads have a Mv value, a Command Point Full Steam Ahead double Mv value or a Command Point half Mv Reverse. They can also use a number of 90 degree rotations at any point in the movement. To top it off, they can run over other models or Ram other Ironclads!

Model that have been charged can choose to React if they have not activated this turn.
They could choose to Fall Back half its Mv or Fire at -1 to the ranged attacks.

Close Combat
Close Combat is simultaneous. Both sides roll thier MAD with the charging models getting +1 MAD each.
All successes are applied against the IR and KR of the enemy and casualties are removed from the most numerous model type it that Section at the time first.
The Section that has caused the most Life Points to be lost gets an Upper Hard token. This is a combat bonus for the next phase. The loser might have to Fall Back and gain a Shaken (negative morale) marker if the other Section gets 2 or more Upper Hand tokens.

If 2 Officers are in a melee they can Duel. If the Duel challenge is refused, the target might make his entire Section Fall Back.
If accepted, a normal combat is then worked out between these 2 models only.
This could be a very good way of taking out a Sections support, Command Points and several special rules.

Ranged Combat
For Ranged Attacks most models have a 360 line of sight. Although they can not see through other friendly models unless taller than them or in Line Formation.
Some Ironclads have Fixed Arcs of fire. Either 90 degrees or a fixed channel to the front.
When making the attack you check which Range Band the target is in from each model and use the number of RAD and colour stated. If the majority of models are at Long Range then the entire attack is rolled at Long Range. The same for Effective
Casualties and Morale are worked out in the same way as they are with Close Combat as long as the target is only wounded by dice rolled for the correct Range Band. An example with the picture above, if the Unit rolls dice for Effective Range, the 1 model at Long Range can not be hurt.

If a model has more than 1 ranged weapon, it has to choose which single weapon to use each turn. Ironclads can use ALL weapons in the same turn.


OK then. There are summaries of the core rules. I could have gone into more detail but I don't want to overload people that are just starting to look at the game. The book contains much more like the MARs and WARs, terrain interaction, objectives, unit add-ons, morale and even assaulting Ironclads on foot.

You can get your hands on the full book as a free PDF in the Downloads Section of the Spartan Games website or in the Starter Sets available from several stores. I would recommend picking them up from The Troll Trader due to good discounts and dispatch times.

What do you think then?
Is there anything you would like to know more about before buying into the game?
Which parts do you like and which are you not keen on?
I would love to hear your views.

Hendybadger awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!


  1. Slight correction, in order to take 4 vets, 4 character and 4 ironclads, you would need to take a minimum of 2 lieutenants and 4 mainstay sections.

    1. Sorry, I thought I put that. Must have missed it on the proofread

  2. I hadn't considered this game at all, but after reading this I think I might look a bit more closely! Thanks!

    1. It has made it onto my top 3 games very rapidly.
      Great game

    2. I would have to agree. It is fast, tactical, and fun. It is what I think a skirmish level game should be.

    3. Oh yes. The game I have spent years looking for.
      Its just a bonus that it looks so nice on the table as well

    4. in the close combat phase you were talking about MAD and charging gaining +1. Well, that's correct but you are not talking about dividing the attack dice.

      I'm telling you this because I'm trying to understand this part ( and I don't.. I don't understant why if you charge you would divide YOUR bonus dice.

      I went on the dystopian legions forums but they don't accept new registrations and you are probably the only one who can help me on this.

    5. I didn't want to cover the dividing as too much detail to begin with may put people off.

      If there is a problem registering on the forum, I suggest sending them an email


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