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DUST Warfare: List Building Planning & Pitfalls

7 Minute Read
Oct 22 2012

Howdy folks, OldHat from here again with some planning advice for those of you who have caught the Dust Warfare bug like I have. While a lot can be said for the importance of the Battle Builder, terrain placement, strategy and tactics – list building plays heavily into your ability to control certain factors, though metagame is a major factor, too. That being said, there are some major points for Dust Warfare that players should consider when assembling a list.

Soldier 3: Can you handle it?
If you sit down and look at the Soldier 3 column of every unit in Dust Warfare, you will notice there aren’t a lot of easy answers for these as of yet. While the game is young with expansions that may lend themselves to balance, for now we need to address your best means of combating both Allied Jump and Axis Damage Resilient Soldier 3 units.
For starters, let us talk about the Allied Jump units – such as “Grim Reapers” and “The Hammers”, which have the Jump Special Ability. This means that you cannot react to their movement, period. This is huge in a game that puts a lot of emphasis on Reactions. For example, they can drop down in front of you and then take a Close Combat action, which can only be responded to with a Close Combat action. Don’t forget, Allies have access to a multitude of Heroes that add to their effectiveness (Rhino) and survivability (Ozz), as well as sport the Rocket Punch which damage on Blanks, instead of Hits.
When dealing this Allies that run these units, Suppression and Snipers will be the key to success. The former is done by simply scoring a single Hit from an attack action – which is very easy to do with some of the long-range weapons available to all factions. Furthermore, Snipers will give you the aforementioned range, while denying both armor and cover benefits to the targeted units. This means every Hit is a wounded model – which can whittle down Hero wound-sinks such as Rhino or kill off the unit one model at a time. So, scour your faction for units with 24-36” range weaponry that rolls a few dice on Soldier 3, such as the Allied Rattler, Axis Heinrich, and the SSU Natasha. So, with enough firepower you can reduce their numbers as well as pile on Suppression, which will force them to waste orders on Regrouping, meaning fewer orders for other useful actions if they want to make the most of the unit.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is the Axis Soldier 3 units – especially Heavy Flak Grenadiers, which are arguably one of the best units in the game for the points. When parked in Hard Cover and coupled with their Damage Resilient special rule, putting damage on them will often be extremely difficult. In addition to that, with the Schwer Platoon special order “Take Charge” or a normal Regroup order, they won’t suffer from suppression too often.

Much like the Allied Jump Soldier 3, Snipers will do a lot to keep these sorts of units in check, since they will deny them the four dice for their armor and any perks for cover. That is a big deal, giving any army that wants to keep their Soldier 3 units alive will need to play the game heavily in the terrain placement and deployment phase, since Snipers tend to command large swathes of the battlefield.

Thankfully, all factions have access to Snipers, so when building a list – keep them in mind!
Aircraft: How much is enough?
With the release of the SSU, Dust Warfare was given a new dimension – aircraft. So, now players need to think about what sort of anti-air units they have access to and how much they will need in each list. As the previews at GenCon showed us, each faction seemingly will have aircraft at some point in the future – as demonstrated by that Axis VTOL-style model that was on display. For now, there are just the SSU helicopters to consider, which are exclusively Aircraft 2.

With the ability to soar across the battlefield at a somewhat insane speed, their 16” weapons can come down on your head pretty swiftly and are highly devastating. The transports sport the anti-infantry Quad DShK 12.7mm that throws a veritable ton of dice at soldier units and can even threaten Vehicle 3, though to a much lesser degree. The attack helicopters have the same gun, with added nastiness depending on the variant. While they often favor anti-infantry rolls, the bombs and napalm are capable of putting some damage on even the largest vehicles and the Rocket Pods can pepper enemy armor too.

So what can you do to keep the skies clear? Take a look through your faction for units that throw dice at Aircraft 2, but not at a detriment of other roles. Flexibility is key in this situation, because SSU is only one of the three factions and not every list will be putting helicopters on the table anyhow.
For Axis players, the Heavy Flak Grenadiers are an obvious choice for their cost, while the insanity that is the Sturmkonig can do absolutely horrifying things to just about anything on the table and at 36”, too.
The Allies have the “Grim Reapers”, which each sports a dual .30 Cal Victory MG, which toss three dice at 16” on Jump Soldier 3 models. Furthermore, they have the Rattler and Wildfire, the former with a formidable 36” range and the latter with less range and another die on damage.
The SSU have plenty of means to combat air units, not least of all their own Helicopters, which are brutally capable of downing other enemy aircraft. In addition, the Nastasia is a monster against both infantry and aircraft, though at a very short range. Currently, the SSU has no real long-range answer to enemy aircraft, however – so when playing in a metagame that may be rotor-heavy, be aware that you will need to get intimate to drop your opponent’s helicopters.
Snipers: Rude dudes!
It is hard not to talk about Snipers in Dust Warfare. Unlike a large portion of games I have played, these guys seem really rather important. Dare I say, they are currently a defining unit as both the Axis and Allies have ways of putting a half dozen on the table and going for ranged superiority. When you build a list, you absolutely must remember that the key to beating Snipers is armor and aircraft, which they cannot hurt at all. This has helped keep the game from falling into a contest of who brings the most snipers – as an armor heavy Axis list with a Wotan or Sturmkonig, or an Allied Fireball Drop list, will murder them.

So, never leave home without some means of putting lots of dice on these two-man teams, because failed saves for them is a massive hit in effectiveness. Thankfully, a lot of the anti-air units often overlap into the anti-sniper role. Also, don’t forget that they can’t respond to close-combat with a shooting attack, so anyone that can get close enough unmolested and get into combat will bring them down easily.

Armor 7: Taking down the big stuff

A lot of units that handle infantry can overlap some on light and medium armor, but when list building, you can’t leave home without a way to at least threaten a heavy. Killing them outright is often tough in five turns, so bringing some heavy firepower that can do it is vital. Nothing is more terrifying than staring down a pair of Air Dropped Fireballs and having no solid answers to them.
The Allies have the always-useful Rocket Punches, especially when paired with a Hero (such as Rhino, for that turn of Berserk). Another great perk for the Allies are the Phasers, which ignore armor saves entirely. On a solid Overcharge turn, the Cobra is putting six dice on an enemy heavy, which each puts two damage on the target. While this will often only result in about four damage, keep in mind without an armor save and the difficulty of a heavy to get cover, that damage will stick. On a slightly above average Overcharge turn, you can easily make a wreck out of almost any heavy.
For the Axis, they have a few varied sources of tackling heavy armor. Some Lasers can, on a good Sustained Attack, cascade into loads of damage.  Heavy Laser Grenadiers are a great example of this, while the Wotan can do this as well and on a Vehicle 6 platform (when upgraded), that is a tough unit to deal with in its own right. Another great way to deal with vehicles are Markus paired with a unit of Gorillas, as well as Grenadier X paired with some Zombies. They are cannot be Suppressed and are quick, while delivering buckets of dice. Get them around to the rear of an enemy heavy where armor saves can’t be taken and it won’t be long before it’s a wreck!
The SSU can muster some pretty nasty answers themselves. The Natalya puts down ten dice onto enemy armor of all varieties, while also having Berserk to use on key turns to simply obliterate whatever they touch. Another potent tool they have are Molotov Cocktails and Grenades, which their units seem to have in abundance. For a ranged solution, the Nikita is able to lob artillery fire at heavies that can also put a hurting on Soldier units, too. For those of you who favor helicopters, the “Burner” and “Death Rain” sport napalm bombs, which are very capable of trashing both infantry and heavy armor.

So, I hope this article has given you some things to ponder if you are planning on going into tournaments or competitive play, which Dust Warfare is well-suited. For those of you playing for the fluff and fun of it, these are still sound factors when designing a list too, as both formats encourage an all-comers approach.

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Author: Guest Columnist
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