|Dust Tactics | Published 29 September 2010|
Over the past few months, the thunderous booming has only gotten louder. The footfalls of giant robots echo as they approach, and soon you shall find cases of the Dust Tactics core set landing at a hobby games retailer near you!
Since its debut at Gen Con 2010, commanders around the world have been waiting expectantly for Dust Tactics to arrive. The time for you to prepare is short, so we’re going to make sure you learn everything you need to know so you can jump right and command your forces during your first game.
The most iconic units on the battlefield are, of course, the massive combat walkers. First put into production during the summer of 1945 the Medium Combat Walker, or MCW, has become a staple in every Allied army. This reliable walker chassis has bred a number of alternate configurations, and has been easily adapted to a wide variety of combat situations. Equipped with powerful legs that allow it to jump over obstacles, the MCW remains as swift and nimble as it is deadly. You will find two of the most common variants in the Dust Tactics core set, namely the Hot Dog and the Pounder.
The MCW M2-B, or Hot Dog, is a deadly, short-range powerhouse. Equipped with both .30 and .50 calibre machine guns, it will deal readily with most basic ground infantry.
It’s odd nickname comes from the turret mounted napalm cannon that can destroy everything from an enemy squad or walker. The only trick is maneuvering yourself into position, as the napalm cannon has a range of 2. It has the unique ability of attacking two adjacent squares simultaneously, which can prove deadly against a shortsighted opponent! The napalm cannon acts just like a flamethrower, which means that units in cover don’t receive any benefits of cover. Instead, everything in the target area is engulfed in deadly flames.
Since your enemy’s long-range anti-tank guns are likely going to try and disable your tank before it can cause any damage, make sure your Hot Dog is protected while it moves into position. Your best tactic is probably to use double movement until you’re in range to fire your napalm cannon. Your patience will be rewarded! Finally, remember that this unit also carries two machine guns, therefore it may engage up to three different targets if you wish. You may likely find yourself firing the napalm cannon at a nearby walker, while firing your machine guns at a more distant enemy squad.
To make this point even more clear, let’s pause in our unit review for just a moment and learn about weapon lines. After you understand how to read this vital weapon information, click any of the unit cards in this article to review its weapon line up close. You will quickly grow used to this efficient stat reference used throughout Dust Tactics.
How to Read a Weapon Line in Dust Tactics
Each unit in Dust Tactics includes a matching unit card which lists every important detail that you need to play with that unit. In addition to its movement, armor, and health values, you’ll also find that unit’s weapon lines.
Found at the bottom of every unit card, the weapon lines are collected in rows. There is a single entry for each weapon type that unit has available. Therefore a walker or hero unit will be carrying one of each listed item, and each line can fire at a completely different target. Simply find the weapon, then look across until you arrive at the column that matches the armor value of your target. If you’re targeting a squad, you’ll look at the Infantry Armor 2 column. If targeting an enemy tank, it’s the Tank Armor 4 column. The first number is the total number of dice you’ll roll to hit, and the second number informs how much damage each successful hit causes. (For full details, refer to the Dust Tactics rulebook.)
Squads have even more options, and most will have four individuals with a common weapon, one with a heavy weapon, plus close combat weapons for each member of the unit. Sometimes a squad will even carry a limited use weapon such as a UGL, or Under-mounted Grenade Launcher, which can only fire a total of two or four shells over the entire game. Again, you’ll find all the rules for reading these stats in the Dust Tactics rule book, and you will see exactly how simple they make combat after only a few minutes of game play. Even better, whether you’re looking at a weapon line for a walker or a squad, they are used identically.
Surrounded By Targets
One exciting thing to remember, and it can have a massive impact on the game, is that a unit is free to target as many different opponents as it has weapon lines on its unit card. Therefore, a walker can often fire at three completely separate targets, and a squad can attack in two, three or more directions, depending on how you’ve maneuvered yourself into position! The only restriction is that all weapons of a single type must target the same unit, and you’ve got to declare all intended targets before rolling to hit. So, a unit with four shotguns and one flamethrower can fire all the shotguns at one target in range, and the flamethrower at a second target in range. Remember this! It may make a huge difference in your next battle.
Now that we know a bit more about how to read a weapon line, let’s meet the second robot available to the Allies: the MCW M2-C, aka. Pounder. While the Hot Dog is your close-combat specialty tank, the Pounder excels in one role: suppressing enemy armor, often from great distance.
You’ll want to position the Pounder where it has the clearest lines of sight across the battlefield. The main gun has unlimited range (denoted by the U in the combat line), which means it can fire immediately upon deployment if only you can get a clear shot! Once your Pounder is in position the best option is often sustained attack, which will grant you the benefit of a re-roll for each miss. If an enemy infantry squad ever foolishly moves within range, the two additional machine guns will do a fine job of whittling them down. A good commander will understand that the Pounder is the anchor of your long-range firing solution. If you can get the Pounder into a good position, with clear sight-lines around the battlefield, use your other units to flush out the enemy. Like the smartest of hunters, patience can often be your most powerful weapon!
And The Rest Arrived On Foot
As commander of the Allied forces, you will have three very different squads of Rangers at your disposal. Although they share the same armor profile, each squad carries a distinctive set of armament that will make each unit especially good at a particular set of activities on the battlefield. We’ll review each in turn.
The Recon Boys are the core of your infantry. These are your basic scouts, useful for infiltrating enemy lines and for capturing objectives. They carry four rifles and a single heavy machine gun, which makes them perfectly suited for anti-infantry fire. The Recon Boys’ true weakness is their inability to take out enemy tanks. If faced with an enemy armored unit, be sure to get your Recon Boys to safety. They can’t hold up to that level of firepower. Depending on how vital your mission objectives, you might also use them as bait to help draw the enemy out of cover, which is a role they are very good at.
Next up are The Gunners, arguably an Allied commander’s most versatile unit. Outfitted with both effective anti-infantry and anti-tank weapons, The Gunners are ready to step in whenever you need to finish off enemy units of any type. Since they can fend for themselves regardless of the enemy, you can easily send them off on their own, or have them accompany another unit to boost its firepower.
The Gunners need to be used carefully. For example, you might consider keeping them in reserve during the early game rounds, or at least out of the line of fire until they can take out a key enemy unit. Carrying four machine guns with decent range, as well as a bazooka, the Gunners are a juicy target for any Axis commander worth their salt. Do not use them as cannon fodder; you will end up regretting it later. The Gunners, as well as the BBQ squad described below, are the only two squads that can damage enemy tanks, and having access to a bazooka late in the game makes them especially precious when trying to eliminate a stubborn Axis tank!
Finally, it’s time to meet one of the most powerful units in your arsenal, the BBQ Squad. This unique squad, formed from some of the bravest soldiers in your army, is outfitted with four shotguns and a flamethrower, plus five Demo Charges that can cause massive damage to tanks when used effectively. Their weapons each have a range of 1, but the squad makes up for it via their Fast special ability. This grants the unit an extra burst of speed, their main asset, and your opponent will quickly learn to keep away from a unit capable of destroying two robots and a squad in a single round!
Often the BBQ Squad will become your opponent’s priority target, and to keep them alive you’ll have to maneuver them wisely. Use terrain to your advantage and keep them hidden as long as possible. You must remember that this squad is your primary tank killing unit, so treat it with care. Make sure to use its speed and massive short-range attack abilities to take down one, if not two, enemy tanks. Your mission will likely depend on it!
What Comes Next?
Next time we’ll introduce units that you can field as the leader of the Axis forces. After Dust Tactics has launched, and once you’ve had a chance to play your first few games, come back for even more articles that will examine deeper strategies to use in this combat across the arctic wastes. It will take determination and focus if you plan on honing your skills and effectively take command in this battle that may determine the fate of the world. The year is 1947, and the war is not over yet!
Dust Tactics is a tactical miniatures game of brutal combat for 2-4 players. Based on the popular universe created by artist Paolo Parente, Dust Tactics presents an alternate 1940s reality in which alien technology fuels gigantic machines of war, and the world's superpowers clash over rare mineral deposits that could ultimately decide the outcome of WWII.
The artwork and rules look a LOT like Tide of Iron with an alien tech twist.
Dust tactics will be my next game of strategy battles.
Nice just played my first two games, this game is a blast. We were able to play two games in 2h and that includes the first game which was a bit slower cuz we were unsure of some rules. All in all a damn good game
Go BBQ !
Nice. Looking good!