Welcome back for another foray into the world of Dust Tactics, the tactical miniatures board game that returns to the year 1947, only to find it irrevocably changed by the presence of extraterrestrial technology. In this alternate history, the Axis’ surprise discovery of an alien crash site deep in the frozen antarctic wastes has introduced powerful weaponry to the world. Now the balance of power across the globe is shifting. Which side will you choose in this battle that will decide the fate of all humanity?

Last week we began our introduction to the Dust Tactics core set with a look at the primary forces under Allied command . Today we complete our introduction to the basic units of the game with a review of Axis squads and walkers. As with the initial article, click any of the unit cards pictured to examine their weapon lines more closely.

Enter the Sturmgrenadieren

What we see on the battlefield is the face of a brand new war, forever changed by our collective access to this mysterious, advanced technology. Due to their initial discovery, giving them a head start to experiment how to make use of this new power, the Axis marches forth with some of the most advanced weaponry available.

Much like their Allied counterpart, an Axis platoon relies on three primary squad types, each of which is a variation of the assault grenadier or Sturmgrenadier. Composed of veterans with invaluable battlefield experience, facing a unit of Sturmgrenadieren is a terrifying proposition, regardless of their weapon load-out.

Battle Grenadiers (Kampf Sturmgrenadieren Squad)

The core of your fighting forces are the Battle Grenadiers, outfitted with weaponry capable of damaging most any enemy unit. A solid and reliable squad, your Battle Grenadiers have the capacity to destroy even an enemy armored vehicle in a single round. At the very least, they can soften up an enemy unit, setting the stage for a follow-up attack from another squad or one of your tanks. The fact that they have medium rather than short ranged weapons also helps a bit.

The Battle Grenadiers carry both a set of StG 47 assault rifles, plus a small stock of Panzerfausts, or anti-tank grenade launchers. These two weapons, plus the single heavy Panzerschreck, ensure the unit is both highly versatile and deadly. With a total of up to three simultaneous ranged attacks, and the ability to target both soft and hard targets, the Battle Grenadiers can be a highly effective unit to the end. Just be sure to manage your stock of Panzerfausts carefully, because once they’re used up, you’re going to have a tough time standing up to enemy armor.

Recon Grenadiers (Aufklärer Sturmgrenadieren Squad)

At first glance you may think the Recon Grenadiers have an apparent weakness. In practice, you will discover they are the foundation of your anti-infantry strategy. This may not be your powerhouse unit, carrying standard StG 47 assault rifles and a single heavy machine gun, but used wisely they can surely turn the tide in your favor. The MG 48 heavy machine gun is brutally effective against infantry, rolling 4/1. Coupled with the four assault rifles, and three Panzerfausts, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Depending on the circumstances, you might assume this unit will fall before any of your others. However, if ignored the Recon Grenadiers can put down either an enemy squad or walker. Many times they will be the perfect unit to send forward, drawing your opponent’s attention and forcing a response to their steady advance. Remember to use this squad to its full potential, and be certain that you have used all your Panzerfausts before the unit gets annihilated.

Laser Grenadiers (Laser Sturmgrenadieren Squad)

Finally, we arrive at the Laser Grenadiers. As the most iconic squad in your army, carrying the most advanced weaponry of all your Sturmgrenadieren, your opponent is wont to target the Laser Grenadiers first.

Check the unit card and you’ll find that Laser Grenadiers only have two ranged weapon lines: the basic Laser Gewehr and the heavy Laser Werfer. At a quick glance it appears this squad isn’t much of a threat, rolling a total of 5/1 at full strength against infantry. When firing at enemy tanks, the unit can only manage a total of 1/2. Why are they so dangerous?

At the bottom of the unit card you’ll discover that both weapons are categorized as Laser Weapons. A laser weapon is such that each successful hit will grant you an additional subsequent die roll to hit. Therefore a single, lucky Laser Grenadier could conceivably take out an entire 5-man squad with a string of lucky rolls. When facing a Laser Grenadier squad at full strength, even the strongest of opponents need to tread carefully and keep a safe distance.

Try to position the Laser Grenadiers where they can execute a Sustained Attack at an important enemy unit, and you might just cripple your opponent with one move! The sequence of hits caused by lasers can be very difficult to withstand, but your window of opportunity will not last long. Try to hide your Laser Grenadiers behind hard cover for instance, or make sure they are keeping as many enemies busy as possible. The key, as is often the case in Dust Tactics combat, is to recognize when the moment to strike has arrived - and take advantage of it!

The venerable Axis Panzer KampfLaüfer II

Certainly the most famous war machine on the planet, the Panzer KampfLaüfer II (or Pz. KpfL II) is an extraordinary weapons system. Very versatile and low maintenance, it is the most common combat walker in the Axis army, and also the oldest. It has been said that there are more Pz. KpfL in active service than any other combat walker, including those of the other blocs. There are many reasons why this is the case, and you’ll find two linchpins of the Axis armor strategy in the Dust Tactics core set: the Luther and the Ludwig.

Luther (Panzer KampfLaüfer II-A)

Even though it is the oldest robot in the world of Dust Tactics , the Luther remains a remarkable opponent. Its armament makes it exceedingly versatile; it is just as effective against infantry as it is against tanks, and is comfortable fighting whether at range or in close combat. This machine is perfectly capable of adapting to all tactical situations and whatever strategies you may devise. In a sustained attack, the Luther will cause carnage with its three weapons, and properly positioned it can destroy three targets in a single round.

To get the most out of your Luther, you will also need to engage the enemy in close combat. This is not solely a long-range tank, and unfortunately this means you will be more vulnerable to short range infantry attacks as you maneuver in close. Regardless of the perceived effectiveness of the 5cm FlaK 43 gun, only engage in a long distance firefight with an enemy walker if you have no other choice. This tank will serve multiple needs, and you should focus on achieving both long-distance damage as you approach, then charge into the fray with your mechanical claw for the kill. Finally, never forget to make your Self Repair roll at the end of each round!

Ludwig (Panzer KampfLaüfer II-B)

The king of your entire army is indubitably the Ludwig, and as such it needs to be protected at all costs. Its devastating firepower and unlimited range will dispense with enemy armor and squads with ease, as long as you have line of sight. Upon deployment, or as soon after as is conceivably possible, position the Ludwig so it has the widest zone of fire possible to get the most out of this tank.

The massive pair of guns are extraordinarily powerful, but it is not invincible! Also, any round in which your Ludwig does not fire is a round where you have not made use of your main source of firepower. In the end, if you cannot get easy line of sight to the enemy, you must advance. Move in tandem with one of your multi-use squads to gain short-range protection as you move into position.

The Battle Will Begin Soon…

The Dust Tactics core set is filled with a selection of key units for both the Axis and Allied forces, and after each game we continue to uncover new core strategies. Part of what makes this game so enjoyable is the discovery of the many layers of gameplay that arise from a solid, clean ruleset, coupled with an immersive setting. We will dig deeper into more advanced strategies after the core set lands in your neighborhood. Until then, we’ll see you again soon for the next preview of 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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