One of the games that I've seen get some mixed reviews about is Dust Tactics. So I had some time and got a chance to do a demo while over at the Fantasy Flight Games booth.
The demo was done by Zach, who is one of the producers for Dust Tactics/Warfare.
So to start out, every model has a nice stat sheet that gives a readout of what the model is capable of. There's only one type of die in Dust. It has two "hits" and 4 "misses." When attacking, each weapon has a number of dice that you roll, depending on the type of enemy you're shooting at. This allows for some variability in weapons, as some might be good anti-infantry, while others are anti-tank and some can be equally good at both, or have certain special rules against one type of enemy, and different special rules versus another.
Each model/unit in on your side gets two actions that it can do during its turn. You can move and attack, attack and then move, double-move or focus fire. The first three are pretty straightforward, but what focus fire allows you to do is to re-roll misses on all your attacks that unit takes during their turn. So if you end up in range of an enemy at the start of your turn, you've got a good chance of blowing them away (of course, depending on your weapon).
The game is played on a grid system, which means you never have to worry about measuring distances or being just short of a charge by a millimeter. Some might think that grid system games oversimplify things, but I would disagree, at least in every case. Certain games are better designed for grids than others. Plus, if you want to play Dust without a grid, you can just move over to Dust Warfare and you've got the standard inch-based measurement movement that you want.
One thing about Dust Tactics is that there's a reaction system build into the game. When an enemy does an action within one of your model's LOS, that model can attempt to react to it, basically getting a quick shot off. There is a chance to fail, however. To react, you roll one die and if it comes up a Hit, you get your attacks. If you miss, than not only do you not get to shoot, but you also lose the activation of that model for the round. So use the ability carefully, or you may end up being left out in the cold with your guys.
The round progresses in an "I-go-You-go" format, so you're never having to wait for your opponent to move all 20 of their tanks and units and just sit there while they blast at you. I've really come to like I-go-You-go systems. It helps keep interest in the game, instead of just, "I'm gonna go get a sandwich. When you're done with your turn, text me."
The models themselves are very nice. The vehicles all come with multiple weapons and turrets and other such, so you're almost never just getting one model in a vehicle box, but several. Even if you never change out your weapons, the vehicles do have points of articulation so you can pose them during a game. The plastic was a fairly heavy material. The troopers and such were heavier than an equivalent-sized model from other game lines. It seemed pretty resilient.
So... I must say, I liked it. It's perhaps not the most-deep game ever, but I think it can be more than "just" a "beer and pretzels" type of game as well. The models, even the pre-painted ones, aren't going to break the bank and are fairly reasonably priced. Getting 5 painted guys for $40 isn't bad.