Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Dust: Tactics of Invasion

A Battle report for my third game of Dust Tactics (and first one since the revised system).

''Shitty Russian weather!'' swore the Grenadier next to Emil, the 203 Panzerabteilung had only benefited from a too short respite away from the Eastern Front, the time necessary to reform squads, bring new weapons and repair old walkers before sending them all back into the fray.

This small detachment had split from the main 203's forces to investigate scout reports of a Russian submarine base in-between Estonia and Leningrad.
Despite Emil's platoon being ordered to attack if the reports were true, they had been travelling in a small train and as such had been unable to bring some of the 203's heavier support.

They had disembarked from the train and walked on snowy roads for more than three hours when finally, it seemed like little black forms moved on the horizon near the coast, Emil took his binoculars and looked.
Small docks, couple of quonset huts, couple of SSU soldiers and...A large submarine!
He quickly went to the ground and asked the others to do so, he then grabbed his radio and signaled to the rest of the platoon. If they could attack unseen they might be able to get there before the submarine could get away.

Thirty minutes later, white forms met him with a Sturmprinz and a Flamm-Luther both hastily painted white and covered with snow, it was time for a surpise attack!

If Guderian had seen them, he would have been proud. The walkers and troops stormed the docks and slaughtered the unwary SSU staff in mere minutes.

''Major, the situation is all under control, the base is ours!'' said Emil, he expected a smile from the old 203 veteran.
Major Helmut's face did not lighten up, instead he bore a dark look that was far from reassuring. ''Unteroffizier Emil, we intercepted a radio communication from the Prinzluther: Soviets are to be expected in less than 30 minutes. From what we could decipher, it will be an extremely heavy Red Guard force. As you can see we are far from being equiped to deal with this situation so I requested air support from our Estonian Luftwaffe base.
Tell the men to revert their parkas and remove the snow camo off the walkers: it is too similar to the SSu ones and the last thing we'd want is to receive bombs from our own planes.''
Even though he would never had done it if he had not been friend with Helmut, Emil dared ask what was on his mind:''Yes Major but why not avoid confrontation and leave them the base if our chances of success are slim?''
''We simply need to buy time for our engineers to analyse quickly the submarine and rig it, now get your men ready!'' Answered Helmut.

Thirty minutes, the Red Guard was right on time...

Battle at Submarine Base ''Кэтрин''

Axis: 203 Panzerabteilung
-Prinzluther Command Vehicle
-203's Flamm-Luther Medium Panzerwalker
-Heavy Laser Grenadiers
-Heinrich Light Panzerwalker
-Horten III
-Horten IV

Axis: 203 Panzerabteilung

SSU Red Guards: Commander Эндрю
-Red Command
-Red Thunder Anti-tank Squad
-Red Thunder Anti-tank Squad
-Kv-47 ''Melor'' Recovery Walker
-Kv-47 ''Mikhail'' Recovery Walker
-IS-5 Mao Zedong Heavy Tank
-IS-48 Super Heavy Tank    

     SSU Red Guards: Commander Эндрю

Pre-Battle Anylisis:
Now Andrew (my opponent) and I never played ('recently', the last time I played, a squad was worth 2 points) Tactics so we will be discovering 'a new game'.
Andrew is also playing his SSU for the first time.
The thing is that except the IS-48, I never faced any of the units in front of me...At least I know what mine do (that's what I thouhgt).
I see Andrew went away with his 'all infantery 3' Allied army in favor of a SSU ''Super Armored Company'' which brings a whole new challenge for the 203.
Hopefully I get my Heavy Laser Grenadiers in range.

''203, Get ready to counter attack!!''

Turn one, the Luftwaffe Support flies to engage the enemy.

In the meantime, the Heavy Laser Grenadiers are going on the Submarine.
Soviets!! Show them no mercy!
Comrades! Aim the Mao Zedong and defend the Motherland!
As the Mao Zedong's canons open fire on one of the Hortens and severly damage it, the Horten IV fires it's deadly Vierlings at the Red Command leaving a lone surivor.

The Horten III, smoke coming from it's engines prepares its bombing run against the Mao and finishes the Red Command.
Round 2: the damaged Horten crashed without finishing it's bombing run, the other one prepares to engage the smaller Kv-47 and soviet infantry.

Using the 203's great influence, Helmut calls for a backup Horten III.
The Prinzluther reveals itself as a premium command vehicle and not simply an expendable transport, it then manoeuvers to hide behind a quonset hut in order to avoid the IS-48's fire.
On the submarine, Heavy Laser Grenadiers are moving double time hoping to reach the Mao before the SSU commander notices them.
In the Middle, the Flamm-luther steadily advances.
''Requesting additional air support! I repeat..''

With the Flamm-Luther exploding under the Is-48's shot, Panzerprinz gets out of the wreck and realize he should request a panzerschrek.

''Burn these SSU dogs!''
203's losses pile up, thankfully there seems to be no shortage of Hortens despite the Mao's best efforts to keep the skies clear.

Aerial view of the Battlefield.

The Horten III in one of it's deadly bombing run.
Finaly! After having climbed and cut their way through the Russian submarine, the Heavy Laser Grenadiers are in rang to bring their weapons against the Mao! Maybe this will help the boys in the air!
The Is-48 moves to draw a line of sight on the Prinzluther. Thankfully, the command vehicle absorbs most of the shot and survives.
The Heavy Laser Grenadiers never got a second try as the Mao's turret turns toward them and shreds them under the flak canons' heavy rate of fire.
Here comes the Horten IV you had requested Major!
Approaching our target!

Bombs away!!
But the Heavy SSU tanks absorbs the bombs and proceed to shoot down the Horten III

Finally it is an Horten IV 35Kanone shot that finishes the Russian tank.
As the Horten IV makes a run to start dealing with the IS-48, it gets shot down by the IS-48's machine gunner and crashes into the ground.

Helmut, back on the docks took his radio ''The Submarine is rigged and we're not equiped to deal with a Super-Heavy, back to base''.

If the SSU thought any of this was a victory, then surely these thoughts disappeared as a blast illuminated the skies. The vk charges had transformed the SSU submarine into beautiful fireworks.
''Well done 203! You fought well...'' said Helmut, a smile on his face.

Post-Battle Thoughts:
WOW!! What a way to misread the rules! When Andrew showed me the ability that allows a dice to be rolled to bring a dead vehicle back into the game, we didn't read well the ''once per game'' part of it...
So starting turn 2 I kept bringing Hortens after Hortens to help support my poor ground troops...That made for a scenario of its own! (And I still lost)

This battle was amazing, and I really liked a couple of things about Tactics:
1: Units play WAAAAY differently in some cases = The planes are extremely fast, the 'Command Vehicle' Prinzluther has a real use for your command squad and you will not use it as a cheap transport, your command squads are also extremely useful 'support-wise' with tons of abilities.
2: Units die quickly. Except if they are SSU tanks.
3: Tactics tiles make for great pictures.

Is Tactics better than Warfare? Totally different games! In Warfare, you have a platoon selection, a battle builder (!) and more survivability. In Tactics, you have no army list restrictions: play with what you want (the door is open for abuse but don't play against people that do that), no platoons upgrade and unit upgrades but units that are much more deadlier with stronger abilities (but also stronger downsides, ie: Tesla) and units die way quicker but being 'damage resiliant' means something.

Overall a very positive experience about Dust Tactics, I enjoyed it a lot more than the first two times (back then I didnt even have a Kommandotrupp or more units than the Base 'coffin' box)...
The only thing that bothered me is a lack of rules consolidation: you need some rulebooks to play with some units...Now it's not that bad in Warfare (4books, and depending what are your units you only need 1-2) but in Tactics it felt annoying.
Thankfully the game is so simple we only checked for rules twice...and this is us being total beginners.
Take note that a version 2 of the Tactics rules is planned for 2013.

Until then, I feel this one game gave me the knowledge necessary for...

The upcoming Dust Tactics Regional this weekend at Gamers' Vault!
US or Canada, come pay us a visit and steal the title of Montreal's Regional Champion! ;)

The 203 will be there!

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