Monday 30 September 2013

Dust Tactics AAR - Recon in Force

Having read through the rules it was time for my first game. I went with the first scenario, 'Recon in Force', as it is the introductory scenario and only uses a walker and a squad on each side. I only have one walker for each side so that choice was easy. But the choice of squads was a bit more difficult. I wanted to have some anti-mech capability but also some long range anti-infantry. After perusing the various squads I went with the three man Heavy Flak Grenadiers squad for the Germans and the five man "Death Dealers" Ranger Weapon Squad for the Americans.

"Blackhawk" Walker

"Death Dealers"

The Blackhawk's weapons only have a range of 2 squares but can do a lot of damage. The Death Dealers have MG's and an LMG that can shoot 4 squares but can't damage a mech. They also have a bazooka which shoots 3 squares and can take out a mech in one shot, if it hits.

"Hans" walker

Heavy Flak Grenadiers

The Hans has a range of 3 squares and can be deadly to both infantry and mechs. The Heavy Flak Grenadiers have a range of 4 squares and put out a large amount of fire.

So some interesting tactical challenges right off the bat. The Germans have the advantage of range but have fewer men and can engage fewer targets in each activation. The Americans have more versatility and can one shot the enemy mech but need to get in close. Lets see what happens.

I set out the map as per the scenario and randomly rolled to see where the ammo boxes and tank traps would be set up. The map is shown below. There's a building in the centre which blocks LoS. The two cross marked areas are impassable terrain and also block LoS. The boxes provide soft cover and tank traps provide hard cover, the tank traps also block LoS for infantry. Walkers can't enter squares with tank traps.

I rolled for initiative and the US won and made the Germans move first (you alternate activating units until the turn is complete). All the units have a movement allocation of 1 square per action and can do two actions a turn. The Germans moved the grenadiers forward 2 squares, looking to get them into the central building. The Blackhawk then moved two squares forward to get into position to cover each flank and the building. The Hans has a special rule, Scout, that lets it move an additional 2 squares in the first round so it moved forward 3 squares. It could have moved another square or fired by using its second action but it had no targets in LoS and I didn't want it to get too close to the enemy. I did realise that it would be in range of the Death Dealers when they came on and could be one-shotted but there was only a 1 in 6 chance of that so I thought it was worth the risk. Sure enough the Death Dealers moved on and shot at the Hans but their bazooka missed. End of turn 1.

The Death dealers line up a shot on the Hans

The board at the end of turn 1

Going first next turn could be crucial and the US won initiative again. The Death Dealers were obviously going to go first but had a decision to make. They could fire their bazooka again and then move into cover by the building or they could use both of their actions to do 'Sustained Fire' which would let them re-roll any misses. Being gung-ho Yanks they went sustained fire and missed but hit on the re-roll doing 3 damage to the Hans. As the Hans only has 3 wounds it explodes in a ball of fire to much whooping and hollering from the Yanks. The Grenadiers decide to pull back to the corner in the hope of using their longer range to pick off the Americans as they close in for the kill. The Blackhawk moves over to the left, chasing the Grenadiers.

The board at the end of turn 2

(I should point out here that the victory conditions work on points lost so as the Yanks are ahead they have no reason to chase the Germans and could play out time for the win. This is a criticism I've seen of the game that once you're behind it makes it very difficult to win. As this is a small game it's hard to see if this is true but things are definitely going to be difficult for the Grenadiers now.)

Turn 3 initiative goes to the Germans and they see a chance to even things up. The Blackhawk is in range of their Fliegerfausts (think 6 barrelled rocket launcher) which have the special rule burst which lets them roll double the amount of dice if their target hasn't moved this turn. As the Blackhawk hasn't moved yet they get to roll 12 dice instead of 6 (I should note here that you always need a six to hit). Each hit will do one wound so they need three hits to knockout the Blackhawk. Just to make sure they decide to use both their actions for sustained fire letting them re-roll any misses. They want that Blackhawk dead! It's just as well they did as they only got 2 hits before the re-rolls but the third hit soon appears and the Blackhawk also explodes in a ball of fire! The Death Dealers head to the building looking for revenge.

The board at the end of turn 3

Turn 4 sees initiative go to the Americans. They make the Germans go first. The Grenadiers spend one action reloading and then move towards the tank traps looking to gain some cover. The Americans with no LoS also move up towards the tank traps. End of turn 4, 4 turns left.

The board at the end of turn 4

Again initiative is going to be crucial. The Americans win it and move forward gaining hard cover from the tank trap. They use their second action to fire on the Grenadiers. The Grenadiers could try and use reactive fire but with only a one in six chance of being successful they decide against it, relying instead on their armour and their 'Damage Resilient' special rule to try and save the day. The Americans open up with everything they've got but their close combat weapons are ineffective against the German armour so have to rely on ranged attacks to get the job done. That's five dice needing sixes to hit, and they whiff no hits at all. The Grenadiers decide to stay where they are and use sustained fire so they get nine dice re-rolling misses, but the Yanks do get a save from being in heavy cover. The Grenadiers inflict a total of 5 hits after rerolls so the yanks have 5 hits to save needing anything but a six this time as they are in heavy cover. They save four of the hits but lose a man. The Grenadiers then draw their Combat Knives and get stuck into close combat where the Yanks won't get a cover save. The Grenadiers roll 3 dice and get three hits. With no cover save that's three more dead Americans! Things are swinging the German's way.

The board at the end of turn 5

Turn 6 sees the Germans win the initiative. Although their 'fausts are unloaded they decide to do a sustained fire close combat, instead of reloading, as that will ignore the cover giving them the best chance to finish off the last man. They roll 3 dice with no hits so on to the re-roll and they whiff again! The Yanks live to fight another round. They sustain fire back with three dice getting 2 hits after re-rolls but a Damage Resilient roll saves one of them meaning only one dies. Onto turn 7, only 2 turns left.

The board at the end of turn 6

The Americans win the initiative and sustained fire on the Germans with 3 dice getting two hits but the Grenadiers Damage Resilient roll saves both hits! The Grenadiers again use their knives but with only 2 dice this time and again sustain fire giving them re-rolls. They whiff the first attack but get two hits on the re-roll and the last American falls to the floor. A victory to the Germans all be it a pyrrhic one.

So what are my thoughts after this first solo game? There's a surprising amount of tactical thought required for what appears at first glance to be a simple game. The initial choice of units made the difference here with the Grenadiers heavy armour and Damage Resilient special rule proving crucial. I could have held back with the Americans though and made the Germans come to them which might have been a better move, if a little cowardly. Overall I enjoyed it and look forward to playing a game with more units. Although my long term aim is to play Dust Warfare rather than Tactics. However a quick game of Tactics might suck people into the game world and get more people interested in playing.

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