After more than a year of this pandemic, I’ve gained a special appreciation for the smaller-scale board and card games, especially those games that can be played just by two individuals. Being able to sit down and in the course of a half-hour or less, play some rounds, and have fun are treasures. I am happy to report that Dustbiters has earned its spot on my game shelf, and should be on yours too.
Created by some of the brightest minds in the Indie game scene, Dustbiters is the brainchild of Robbie Fraser (Broforce), Terri Vellmann (Disc Room), and Jan Willem Nijman (Minit). Dustbiters launched its Kickstarter back on August 3, and since then, managed to shoot past its initial asking goal of $25k and is sitting comfortably well past $65k (at the time of writing). What makes this game special is the perfect blend of easy-to-pick-up and learn gameplay, and a fun aesthetic all wrapped up in a 15 or so minute game time.
In Dustbiters, a game with a simple goal and composed of just a small deck of 21 cards, you and another player will be struggling to outrace a sandstorm, with a vehicle from your convoy being the last one remaining. Within this small package, you will still find an impressive and surprising amount of depth and strategy.. The strategy elements come from your options available with each turn’s action economy and the abilities of each of your convoy’s vehicles.
Each game begins with placing eight random cards from the 21-card deck, with four facing each player, and deciding which side of the field is the rear of the convoy and each player drawing four cards for themselves. On each of your turns, you are allowed to take three actions which include swapping one of your vehicles with one of your opponents, drawing a card, using a vehicle’s ability, or adding a card from your hand to the front of the convoy. At the end of each player’s turn, the dust storm will destroy the last car in the convoy and the turn passes to the second player.
This constant back-and-forth, tense struggle against the storm is what really makes Dustbiters shine. More often than not the apparent victor would change from round to round and the fact that playing a full game doesn’t take too long meant that my fiance and I may have used this to decide who would have to do dishes that night in a best two-out-of-three tournament.
Dustbiters has adopted a Mad Max crossed with a zany colorful cartoon style aesthetic with their cards. I’m a fan of “Spikey” in particular, an outrageous vehicle covered in spikes and horns with a doggo chilling at the passenger door. All of the wonderful art is printed on sturdy and high-quality laminated cardstock.
I’m always looking for new games that I can play with my fiance, who grew up walking down a far different nerd path than my own (musicals and mysteries over my video and card/board games). Dustbiters offers the perfect level of complexity and ease of entry so that players whose comfort levels top out around the War or Solitaire level of complexity can still jump in and find a lot of joy and fun. While on the flip side, players who enjoy more complex and strategic games will enjoy it too, with plenty of opportunities to plan ahead and try to outwit your opponent.
I expect Dustbiters will be a go-to staple game for years to come. You can still back and pre-order yourself a copy of Dustbiters at the game’s Kickstarter page!