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Fear the Dark


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Posted 26 September 2012 - 10:07 AM

Two squads of Red Guards stood behind “The Fonvizin” as he tested the weight of his PPSh-48 and strained to see through the darkness. Everyone was on edge. They had been hunting the Axis for hours, now, through the metro tunnels, but they hadn’t expected anything like this. Lights flickered. Shadows filled the distance. Dripping water made frayed wires snap. And then they heard the slaps of footfalls coming fast from all sides. There were so many of them. The first howl echoed through the tunnels as a giant ape raced forward, smashing through two soldiers with his gauntleted fists, and shrugging off a short volley of bullets…

Recently, we announced the upcoming release of Operation “Hades,” the next campaign expansion for Dust Tactics, which introduces the deadly subterranean struggles of the “Rats’ War.”

Setting the Stage

The term “RattenKrieg” was first used to describe the bitter fighting that took place beneath the city of Stalingrad, where invading Axis forces descended into the sewer system in order to move about the city unimpeded. When the Soviets realized this, they sent their own troops underground to stop the invaders. This marked the beginning of the RattenKrieg, or “Rats’ War.” Beneath the streets, the dark, confined metro lines and narrow sewer tunnels became a hellish battlefield, unlike any before seen in the history of warfare. The claustrophobic environment was perfect for traps and ambushes, and every squad knew that death could be waiting for them around the next corner.

The RattenKrieg may have been born in Stalingrad, but this terrible new form of warfare reached its apex beneath the city of Zverograd. The Axis realized the city’s sewers and metro system provided a route into the city, along which their soldiers could find protection from enemy sniper fire and the dreaded SSU artillery barrages. But the Soviets had not forgotten the lessons they had learned in Stalingrad… and this time they were prepared.

It wasn’t long before the Allies, too, realized the strategic importance of Zverograd’s subterranean warfare. Not only were the battles for the city’s subterranean corridors ultimately impacting the control of valuable lines of movement, but the Allies’ knew their arsenal of powerful close-range weaponry—shotguns, flamethrowers, grenades—would prove extremely effective in the cramped tunnels beneath Zverograd.

The players have arrived. The stage is set. The drama can now begin.

A New Kind of Hell in Operation “Hades”

Operation “Hades” introduces new rules for underground fighting, as well as two new kinds of tiles, each of which comes with their own, specialized terrain rules. When fighting underground, forces have to deal with rules for dim lighting, low ceilings, and limited deployment.

No matter what type of terrain your soldiers contest, there is very little light beneath the city of Zverograd. Units can hear enemies coming, but they are hard to make out in the darkness. Accordingly, units gain cover from each other, depending how many spaces there are between them. When the distance between an attacking and defending unit grows too great, the darkness swallows the defending unit completely, and it simply cannot be targeted.

Meanwhile, there’s not much headroom underground. In caves or in the sewers, the ceilings are very low. It’s only slightly better in the metro. Because of the low ceilings, only soldier units can enter the underground, and units cannot use the Jump skill. Without the support of their combat walkers, soldiers in the underground have to resort to new tactics, and combats in the underground are often won not by the the squad that looks best on paper but the one that responds best to the environment’s unique demands.

As stated above, only soldier units can enter the metro and the sewers. Additionally, these units must enter the battlefield by the end of the second round of the game or risk being left behind. It is akin to suicide to get stranded in the underground, and any unit in an underground scenario that has not been deployed by the end of the second round is considered to be eliminated.

Operation “Hades” also introduces rules for metro lines and sewer tunnels that provide even more terrain-specific flavor to your games. For example, troops marching through the dark, confining labyrinth of Zverograd’s sewers know they’re treading through a deathtrap. They tend to get jittery. Accordingly, the expansion’s new sewer tiles come with rules for “Tense Combat,” wherein all squads gain the advantages of unlimited reactive fire. Unfortunately, just as this is good for you, you’re not the only troops with your fingers constantly resting on their triggers. Your enemy is also nervous and jumpy…

Added Depth

The rules for underground fighting in Operation “Hades” lead to new challenges in several of the expansion’s custom scenarios. However, they can easily apply to other situations as well, breathing new life into old scenarios. For example, a base may have been attacked several times, leaving it in darkness with its power sources completely destroyed. In the darkness, the structure would follow the rules for underground combat, forcing players to modify their tactics accordingly.

Furthermore, Operation “Hades” introduces a wealth of material intended to help players design their own scenarios, including those that combine both underground and surface maps for dynamic, multi-level combats.

Look for Operation “Hades” to add a whole new dimension to your games of Dust Tactics when it arrives.

Fear the dark.






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