Factions in Red Dust Rebellion: The Red Dust Movement

Today, tunnel 64a in south Shenzou collapsed. Today, 22 miners from our community are lost in the rubble. We don’t know if anyone is alive down there. But we will dig until we find them. And while we don’t know whether they will live, we already know the reason for this tragedy. For months our members have been complaining about long hours, poor conditions and shortcuts from management. Of basic safety measures being relaxed or ignored to save a few bucks — The Blue Bloods, they don’t care about Martian workers, they don’t care about our people. They care about lines on a spreadsheet.

We are not just organic assets to be itemized on a corporate balance sheet. We are humans, we are Martians, and we are strong.

-Aroha Thompson, Red Dust spokesperson and Mining Union organizer.  

Red Dust Faction Overview

No game about the Red Dust Rebellion would be complete without the primary instigators of that rebellion, Red Dust themselves.

Red Dust formed out of a combination of factors. When Martian colonies were first founded, only humanities best and brightest were sent — engineers, scientists, and doctors — to explore the strange new world. Fast forward a century, and the idea of leaving earth to travel for months to a world where you live in close quarters and may never see the outdoors again has lost its shine. Many of the people who later came to work on Mars were from the developing world, and doing so on long-term contracts, leaving family behind on Earth and providing for them to have a better life. Others would ship their whole family to the new world looking for new opportunities.

Red Dust is made up of those who came to Mars seeking a new life, and their descendants. Over generations a new Martian culture has emerged. One shaped by the harsh world and close living conditions. Red Dust is a people’s movement. Its fringes are made up of elements of Nationalism, Communism, socialism and anarchism, while its mainstream political voice is about true representative democracy for Mars.

Red Dust Rebellion Map (Please note that this is not final art.)

Conflict with Other Factions

The Martian Provisional Government is the current administration on Mars and Red Dust directly opposes them in the major labyrinths on Mars. The contest over the hearts and minds of the people, along with actual fighting over territory, will largely be conducted in the subterranean cities of mars. Along with all the risks that fighting entails.

The Earth Based Corporations can exploit workers in areas they control, reducing their loyalty to a free and independent Mars. But areas dominated by the Corporations also have people and machinery that can be liberated.

The Church of the Reclaimer also wants the Corporations and provisional government gone. But they want Red Dust gone as well. And while Red Dust is more of an urban faction and the reclaimers exist mostly in the deserts, the two groups will eventually be forced into conflict as the Reclaimers go looking for resources to take and Red Dust seeks to protect the local population from their predations.

Factions Operations and Special Activities

Like all COIN games, each faction has a series of Operations and Special activities.

RD Operations: Rally, March, Attack, Campaign

RD Special Activities:  Redistribute, Coordinate, Ambush

Some of these will be familiar to COIN veterans, some will not be.

Operations List

Rally allows Red Dust to recruit forces in any region that does not support the Martian government. It also allows the establishment of RD bases in regions. In addition to that, one base per turn may be upgraded to “Dug in”. A dug in base represents one that has been secured and reinforced deep underground. Attacking a dug in base will cause the COIN more casualties.

March allows the movement of forces around the board. There are no LoCs in Red Dust Rebellion, but there are maglev lines and spaceports that connect the various cities, allowing for fast movement.

Attack allows rebels to attack COIN forces. However, every attack in a populated area runs the risk of causing damage to life giving infrastructure. This is one of core features of Red Dust Rebellion. Conflict in populated areas is risky to the civilian population. That said, Red Dust can always choose to damage the infrastructure if they wish to. Attack can also be used to target satellites to reduce the COIN dominance in space above Mars.

Campaign allows Red Dust to build opposition to the government. This represents actively promoting Red Dust’s values to the local population. When the population is agreeable to that, it can bolster relationships in the form of campaign cards. If the population is loyal to the government, it manifests as riots, vandalism, and damage.

Campaign cards are powerful, once per game boosts that the Red Dust player can use. They last for an entire campaign and provide an ongoing modifier to the game. For example, the Dock Workers may go on strike, reducing the amount of supplies the Martian Government receives.

Between attack and campaign, you can choose to play Red Dust as a hard-line militant group who will burn down government supporting sectors, or as a people’s movement, peacefully campaigning for change. Or a mix of both, it’s really up to you.

Special Activities List

Ambush allows RD to automatically succeed in an attack without causing damage. This is especially useful when Red Dust is fighting in an area loyal to them. 

Redistribute allows Red Dust to gain resources that can be used to fund other actions. The higher the population in an area, the more resources they obtain. If the region targeted has Corporation bases, even more resources are obtained.

Coordinate represents Red Dust acting as a legitimate government in waiting by repairing infrastructure and rehousing people displaced due to damage. This builds trust in Red Dust by the local population and undermines the Martian Provisional Government’s support back on Earth.


Red Dust may initially look like a normal insurgent faction in a COIN game, but there are some differences. Terror has been removed in RDR and replaced with the damage system. We believe this better represents the realities of a conflict on Mars, with its lack of atmosphere.

The system of damage and population makes the board in Red Dust Rebellion quite dynamic. As populations flee damaged areas to be rehoused elsewhere, but temporary accommodations are vulnerable and need to be defended.

The Campaign system also allows for Red Dust to temporarily impose dramatic changes to the rules. This not only makes the game interesting and variable, but also represents mass movements and rolling strike actions.

But most importantly, Red Dust can be played as brutally or as passively as you want them to be.

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