Jeremiah Terry on the USMC Heavy Weapons Teams
The recently released USMC Heavy Weapons Teams bring a new range of tactical possibilities to Allied forces, but they also pose a new tactical challenge to veteran commanders. This is because unlike their Axis counterparts, these new Marines don’t have massive armor or the heaviest of weapons. Rather, they fulfill a truly defensive role. Such a purely defensive unit is not something we've really seen yet in Dust Tactics.
The primary advantage of these new units is that they have extremely low AP cost and great cover ability. This makes them great options for players building an army to defend an area of the map, an objective, or even an important hero. In a defensive situation, players can use the Choppers “Advanced Reactive Fire” to keep lighter units at bay, while threatening aircraft with a small amount of damage. Once placed in cover, they succeed in their cover rolls on blanks, making them extremely difficult to dislodge from any fortified position. With the ability to damage all but the heaviest units, the Choppers are incredibly cheap to field at only 13 points.
Although the Choppers are a great choice to defend a small area of the map (limited to their weapon range of 6), when you require a much greater field of fire, look no further then the Leathernecks. The Leathernecks will allow you to reach out and strike targets with their “Artillery” range 120mm Mortar. For 15 points the Leathernecks have the lowest cost artillery weapon in the game. While the 120mm Mortar is not as powerful as a vehicle-mounted artillery weapon, it can do severe damage to most infantry squads and light vehicles. By combining these Marines with a couple of units that have the “Artillery Strike” ability, the Leathernecks will allow players to provide fire support to almost any part of the map.
As these new units represent almost a completely new category, they take a small change in thinking in order to get the most out of them. The first thing to remember is that these are truly dedicated defensive units. They are only partially effective if used to advance on the enemy. Both of these units have primary weapons that require “Setup.” This means they are not fully effective when moving and attacking in the same activation. As a result, you’re going to want to get them into a defensive position quickly, and only move again if you’re going to be overrun, or if the enemy is in retreat and moves out of range.
The Second point to keep in mind is that these are Dust Tactics’ first Armor 1 infantry. This means that even relatively lightly armed units such as the Recon Grenadiers could roll a maximum of thirty-two dice against them (at Range 1). Even at Range 4, the Recon Grenadiers would still roll sixteen dice, which is double what they’d roll against a “standard” Armor 2 infantry unit. It’s two and a half times more dice then they’d roll against a “heavy” Armor 3 infantry unit. For these units, staying un cover is not just a good idea, it’s a necessity – a fact made even clearer when looking at far more powerful units like the Strumkonig. This heavy walker could roll ten dice from any range, so even a single round spent out of cover could spell doom for these lightly armored units.
To demonstrate the defensive power of these new units, let’s put them through their paces along with a sizable Allied infantry force, against an Axis panzer company led by Lara Walter. This will give you an opportunity to see how to best deploy these new forces and how they can be used to defeat a far more powerful force.
First, take a look at the armies that will be facing off in our hypothetical scenario. The Allied force is a light but nimble infantry force with only one light walker providing some added anti-aircraft firepower. The Axis, on the other hand, is the epitome of heavy metal, featuring 223 points of armored vehicles along with the ground pounding power of the Fledermaus IV. At first glance, some might think the Allies have little chance of survival, but careful planning and a little luck can allow them to overcome such overwhelming odds.
|Allied Army/Marine Joint Task Force||Points||The 13th Panzer Kompany||Points|
|Hell Boys + The Chef||34+22||Heinrich||26|
|Death Dealers + Rosie||23+20||Fledermaus IV||48|
|BBQ Squad + The Priest||30+18|
|Recon Boys + Johnny One Eye||15+16|
This Allied Army/Marine Joint Task Force costs 295 points, while the above 13th Panzer Company costs 292 points.
Next, have a look at the map setup. The map has a long wall with some gaps just in front of the Attacker’s deployment zone. Meanwhile, the Defender’s area consists of a number of Quonset Huts and Tank Traps. The victory conditions are as follows: The Defender must hold their ground, and they’ll win if they can eliminate the enemy forces. The Attacker must force the Allied forces to retreat or destroy them. To force a retreat, the Axis must eliminate all of the Allies’ Heroes. The Attacker will win immediately if they force the retreat, or destroy the Allied defenders.
The attacker deployment area is in red, the defender deployment area is in blue, and the cover area is in yellow. Click to enlarge.
Now, imagine that it is round two of an eight round game. Round one saw a little combat, but none of the units have suffered any damage. Many of the units on both sides have taken up good positions, but you can see the Axis force has a serious terrain disadvantage.
On the Allied side, you can see that the Choppers and Leathernecks are not only in cover, but the Leathernecks are as far to the rear of the defensive area as possible, keeping them far from the enemy, but not out of range of the Strumkonig’s massive guns. The Boss and 13 Foxtrot are also well protected, with The Boss having clear line of sight to the enemy lines. This allows them to call for artillery fire from the Leathernecks despite the Leathernecks’ lack of a line of sight to the enemy.
The attacker must navigate terrain squares, while the defender enjoys the benefit of tank traps and quonset huts. Click to enlarge.
Looking at the situation, the Allies clearly have the tactical advantage for the start of round two. They are in well defended positions. They have multiple light anti-aircraft units to cope with the threat of a small number of aircraft overhead. The Allies also have time on their side, as the Axis force will have to spend a lot of actions moving in order to get its forces into fighting positions.
That’s not to say the Axis forces are no threat. The Fledermaus, the Strumkonig, and the Ludwig are all within range or striking distance. Of those three the Fledermaus poses the most immediate threat. During its activation it will have to make a forced move that will likely bring it into range of a number of Allied units. The Ludwig and Strumkonig, while powerful, are less of a threat as they both need to begin making their way into the center of the map to clear a path for the remaining Axis units. Moving will likely take priority for at least one of them. The Ludwig is the most likely to move as its attack is less powerful.
Now, put yourself in the Allies position. You have initiative; what will you do first? Will you call for a sustained artillery barrage from the Leathernecks on the Strumkonig? Using “All in one,” it has the potential to do 4 damage points to the mighty Schwer-Panzerkampflaufer, taking it to half health. At half health the Hell Boys will be able make short work of the massive machine. Or will you charge forward with one of your “Fast” squads? Maybe the Horton will veer off to attack a lone squad in the open giving the Choppers a chance use their “Advanced Reactive Fire.” Or the Choppers can simply wait to perform a sustained attack and begin whittling the Horton’s health down. That way, Wildfire will be able to easily finish it off.
It’s all up to you. The odds may seem overwhelming, but if you act quickly the Allies have a chance of success. However, it’s a narrow window of opportunity. If you wait too long, the Axis forces will bring more of their unlimited range firepower to bear. Allowing them to focus their attacks on your heroes, who are vital to their victory.
Thanks, Jeremiah! Look for the USMC Heavy Weapons Teams at your local retailer today!