News for February 2013
Speed is Victory
Guest Writer Jeremiah Terry Previews the Upcoming Axis Jets for Dust Tactics
Dust Tactics | Published 06 February 2013

In October, we announced that the Axis would be bringing some powerful aerial units to the battlefield of Dust Tactics. Now, the Axis is getting close to fielding its new Horten HO-347 jets over the skies of Zverograd, and guest writer Jeremiah Terry has taken the time to explore the potential of these speedy new aircraft.

Speed is Victory…

When the Horten HO-347 was conceived, one premise was held above all others: Speed is victory. The HO-347 is the fastest unit ever to appear on the battlefields of Dust Tactics. With its movement value of three and the ability to fly over any type of terrain, the ‘347 can cover the width of the average Dust Tactics board (twelve squares) in only two turns. However, this huge speed advantage does not come without its drawbacks, and the HO-347 may not be what some expect.

The Fledermaus III and IV are fantastic close air-support aircraft, packing as much punch as some tanks. With their massive speed advantage these planes are able to sweep across the battlefield and take out ground forces with ease. However, despite each having the “Air Superiority” skill, they are not a superior force in a dogfight. In air to air combat, either of the Fledermaus variants have only as much firepower as the SSU’s lowly Mil MI-45 Transport Helicopter. This means that while a Fledermaus can threaten ground forces and provide some anti-air support, it should avoid going nose to nose with the SSU’s most powerful anti-air gunship, the Striker. The Striker can easily take out a '347 in a single Sustained Attack, while the '347 will only ever be able to severely damage one of the SSU’s choppers in one round of fire.

This singular limitation of the HO-347s makes the task of planning a force around them a somewhat difficult job, especially when facing enemy air power. It pays to think hard about air combat before settling on a force. While the Fledermaus III and IV may need some extra anti-air support, using ground-based vehicles such as Heinrich or the massive Strumkonig could be an ineffective strategy. These vehicles will certainly get the job done in terms of firepower when combined with the HO-347, but they are far too slow to keep up with the lightning fast ‘347. Without having a comparable move value, these walkers will simply hold the ‘347 back, and the Fledermaus will lose its primary advantage: speed.

One option is to use the Axis’ fantastic class three armor infantry. These smaller units can move into spaces where larger vehicles cannot. When paired with Lara, they gain the “Assault” ability, allowing them to catch up with the speedy Fledermäusen. There are a few Axis class three armor squads that could provide the necessary anti-air support, but your best choice will likely be the Heavy Flak Grenadiers. While the Grenadiers’ weapons will need to be reloaded every so often, their burst fire can take down a helicopter with ease.

Axis Armored Infantry Company with Light Air Support
Unit Point Cost
Fledermaus IV 48
Lara + Heavy Flak Grenadiers 21 + 25
Heavy Laser Grenadiers 30
Laser Jagdgrenadiere 28
Jagdgrenadiere 25
Heinrich 26
Ludwig 40
Lothar 36
Beobachter + Manfred 5 + 16
Total 300

In the force listed above you’ll have a lot of anti-armor, and anti-air, firepower. This army build should allow you to deal with all but the most entrenched infantry forces. Lara, the Flak Grenadiers, and Heinrich will all provide some anti-air cover for not only the Fledermaus IV but also for any other infantry and armored vehicles not outfitted for such a role. If this force is properly positioned, most enemy aircraft should find it hard to intercept your Fledermaus when faced with so much anti-air artillery. Additionally, the Fledermaus IV’s 150 Kg bombs can tear through infantry and armor alike, easily cutting a swath of destruction through the enemy’s lines.

And Victory is Life

Another option is to pair up two HO-347s, allowing them to provide their own covering fire. This is also a very tempting idea because of the HO-347’s low point cost of forty-five to forty-eight points when compared to the sixty-two to sixty-nine points that it costs to field the SSU’s Ground Attack Helicopters.

Axis Blitzkrieg Force with Air Support
Unit Point Cost
Fledermaus IV 48
Fledermaus III 43
Lara + Heavy Flak Grenadiers 21 + 25
Heavy Laser Grenadiers 30
Laser Jagdgrenadiere 28
Ludwig 40
Lothar 36
Beobachter + Manfred 5 + 16
Total 292


Here’s a force that has a lot of tactical options. The speed and “Advanced Deployment” capabilities of the powerful Fledermaus III and IV allow them to strike deep into enemy lines, and the mass of heavy infantry can take out enemy walkers and tanks. Additionally, these ground units will provide the Fledermäusen with some added protection from enemy aircraft. True heavy support is provided by a Ludwig, a walker which no Axis commander should ever be without, and a Lothar. The Lothar combined with the Beobachter will be able to strike enemies virtually anywhere on the board, and Manfred provides the Beobachter team with some much needed protection.

This army also features the added firepower of the Fledermaus III’s 75mm heavy anti-tank gun. While this gun isn’t terribly effective against infantry, and is useless against enemy aircraft, it can tear a tank apart. The 75mm allows a player to roll nearly as many dice against all armor classes as Ludwig’s 88cm does. The Fledermaus III can do even more damage against light and medium armor when it combines its 75mm gun with its Vier 20mm cannons. This allows the Fledermaus III to roll two more dice then a Ludwig against armor class three and four ground vehicles. With the HO-347’s speed and the innate benefits of being an aircraft, the three extra points you’ll pay for a Fledermaus when compared to a Ludwig make it seem quite the bargain. Just remember that if you’re facing down super heavy enemy armor, the Ludwig will still be the better option for the point cost.

As you can see, the new Axis Horten HO-347 is quite versatile, and it can easily break an unprepared enemy. With all the factions soon to be fighting over the skies of Zverograd, no commander should be enter the battlefield without some form of anti-air artillery, or air support.

Take the Skies for the Axis

Special thanks to Jeremiah Terry for his intriguing insights into creative ways to make the most of these new Axis jets. The HO-347 will be available next week, so make sure to visit your local retailer and add these troops to the skies above Zverograd in Dust Tactics!

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.

    
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