Field Maneuvers: Building a Dust Warfare Army List

In war gaming in general and in Dust Warfare specifically, how you construct you army is a solo mini-game or puzzle unto itself especially with the platoon force organization.  Now that Dust Warfare has four campaign books (3 phyiscal, 1 pdf) in addition to the core rule book and there are more than a hundred units across the three blocs. Not only that, the game will only continue to add more units and possibly additional blocs. In this article, I will go over how I construct my armies for play in Dust Warfare.  I hope it will get you some insight on how to build your own.

Note: The Field Maneuvers segment covers my thoughts on how to best use the rules of Dust Warfare to get the most out of your army and play the best game you can.  Much of what I cover, reveals my play style and my general ideas about how Dust Warfare works.  Like anyone, I make mistakes, and I still pretty new to both Dust Warfare and war gaming in general.  Additionally, most of the games I have played have been against players that I myself have taught the game.  These players largely have not read any of the rules so, if I am doing something wrong they are not likely to catch it.  If you find I’m in error with the rules, please leave a comment so I can correct it for anyone else that may come by to read it.

I want to start off with saying that while I want a decently competitive army list, I play Dust Warfare for fun and not for highly competitive tournament play.  I like a good game where both players know which units work well with each other and they both use great tactics and plays to achieve victory.  I play for the fun of gaming and actually don’t care all that much about winning if it was a really good game with brilliant strategic and tactical maneuvers that bested me.  With that, let’s begin.

Point Value:

I have played Dust Warfare games from 100 to 301 points. And yes, I think there is a difference between a 300 and 301 game.  That little extra point gives you the possibility of a third platoon and hero to work with.  Anyways, while I haven’t seen had issues with army size scaling, I do think that some units work better in smaller forces, while others work better in larger Army Point totals.  So, the first thing you and your opponent should decide on is the Army Point value of your Dust Warfare game.  300 points is the standard game, and you should expect to play at this level if you visit your friendly local gaming store (FLGS).  However, it might be a good idea for you to have a 150 and 200 point army lists ready if this your first time with a new group.  In fact, I suggest starting a 150 points with restrictions of certain units (no Vehicle 5 and up and no aircraft) so you can get a good handle on the core mechanics of the game.  I find that 100 points doesn’t leave much for support vehicle units making it hard to get a chance to see how they interact with soldiers.  I myself have largely played most of my games at the 200 Army Point level.  This partly by personal preference, but if you visit some of my initial posts, you’ll see that my gaming space is about 4’x4′ making the battlefield fairly crowded at 300 points.  However, for the rest of this article, I will be working with the 300 Army Point standard.

What unit(s) to start with:

While you could start with which platoon you want to use first, I usually want to try out either a certain unit or play style in which I will try to match the best platoon organizational chart best.  I have played all three factions to some extent, but I’m largely a SSU player (if you couldn’t tell by the other articles on Clash at Zverograd).  It is the first bloc I started, in fact, and we will basically re-create the Arkhangels, my first army for Dust Warfare.

For my SSU army, I wanted the MIL MI-46 Walker Transport Helicopter and an aero walker to be used as a drop walker to disrupt enemy forces behind their own lines and the primary focus of this army list.  The rest of my army is to either support this or compensate for the gaps by taking it.

Platoon(s) Selection:

Now that I have an idea of what I want in my army and what I want to do with it, I now have to decide on which platoon(s) I will use to make it happen.  Since this is a 300 Army Point list, I can have up to two platoons to work with. Currently, the SSU have four platoons to choose from: the Defense Platoon, the Political Platoon, the Red Guards Platoon, and the Steel Guards platoon. The walker transport and aero walker are typically support section choices unless I decide on the Red Guards Platoon where I can take where I can take the aero walker as a 3rd section and the walker transport as a 4th.  This is probably the best route to do this as well.  However, I prefer using the Defense platoon (it is my favorite SSU platoon) so I am going to need to take three sections in addition to the Command Section to get these units.  I think I am going to worry about a second platoon after I complete this Defense Platoon and see what kind of points I have left over if any.

Command Section:

Since I chose a Defense Platoon, I will start by picking my Command Section.  I have the choice between the Medvedi, Koshka, Koshka with Grand’Ma, and Yakov.  All good choices depending on what I am looking for.  The Medvedi offer a bunch of special abilities that I would like, but I don’t plan on keeping that much of my force close enough to use much of it with the exception of the Radioman special ability which might come in handy for the drop walker team which is definitely going to be outside of command range.   Koshka with Grand’Ma is also tempting as I’m have already dedicated to support section slots.  I might want walker with the my main force as it will take some turns to get the drop walker team into position.  Lastly, Yakov because he works so very well with the Fakyeli, my favorite SSU soldier unit.  I ultimately decide on Yakov so I can join him with a blobbed squad of Fakyeli with a Commissar. This blobbed unit will allow me to combat anything on the ground even if it is at short range.  It has the added bonus that the enemy probably won’t want to come anywhere near it either.  So I need to I can just tuck them away and deny their points to my opponent in an Eliminate the Enemy or Assassination objective.  However, since joining heroes and Commissars don’t actually take place until both players exchange lists I may decide to not to create this ‘Yakstar’ if my opponent has a bunch of flamethrower (read: Spray special ability) type weapons.

1st through 3rd Sections:

The first two sections are easy, the Fakyeli, so I can combine them with a Commissar (the Derhavin) and Yakov. I already know I want also have this 12 man blobbed squad equipped with Grizzled Veterans so give each squad this unit upgrade. The 3rd section is a little tougher, I narrowed it down to either the Frontoviki or Ohotniki.  I decide on the Ohotniki because I think I want so range of my own to deny the enemy from just marching up to my position and beating me in a range war.  Plus, they just might suppress a unit to allow the Yakstar to destroy them.

Platoon Upgrade:

Unfortunately, by taking Yakov, I am denied the Political Support option.  I will have to take the Political Importance platoon upgrade to allow me to buy a Commissar anyway.  I don’t like the tax, but I really want the Commissar.  I decide to take only one: The Derhavin.  He is one of the two cheapest solo Commissars and his Badass special ability (and his mustache) might come in handy.

Support Section:

I have four sections in this platoon (Command plus three), so I can take two support units which I had already decided on before starting.  I take the Walker Transport Helicopter for the first one.  However, I hadn’t yet decided which areo walker I wanted, although the choice is clear with drop walkers.  I take the KV47-D Aero “Nina” hoping that is two independent rpg systems will do their job and wreck the enemy’s rear area (going for the armor-less Rear Arc of vehicles) while being supported by the chopper’s quad machine guns to engage infantry.

This first platoon comes in at a cost of 177 points.  All told, not too bad.  That leaves me with plenty of points to work with in the second platoon.

Second Platoon:

Now that I have completed the first platoon and have everything I wanted to include, I take a look at the remaining Army Points I have to fill in any weaknesses or gaps. Because I like to employ the wingman concept with using multiple aircraft, I decide to add a Death Rain using the support section slot I already have.   This has the added benefit of shoring up my anti-air some. I also initally decide to place a squad of Frontoviki in the 1st Section for a little unit variety not found in the first platoon.  I haven’t quite decided on a platoon at this point, but I know I’m limited to either another Defense Platoon or the Political Platoon.  If I go with another Defense Platoon, I can have Koshka and Grand’Ma as my Command Section giving my main force a little armor.  However, I decide on a Political Platoon and the Frontoviki for some Chinese Volunteers and Airborne Transport.  Unfortunately, I would be 2 Army Points over.  I could scrap the Grizzled Veterans of the Fakyeli and down grade them to Rat Fighters instead.  Tough Choice.  However, today I think I will go with a third chopper.  That gives me 3 helicopters to swing in around back and the ability to drop two units (the Nina and the Chinese Volunteers) to cause chaos.

The Arkhangels (300)

Defense Platoon (175)

Command: Yakov (21)

1st: Fakyeli (21)+1 Rat Fighters

2nd: Fakyeli+1 Rat Fighters

3rd: Ohotniki (20)

Support: Walker Transport (40)

Support: Aero Walker Nina (40)

Upgrade: Political Importance (5): The Derhavin (5)

Political Platoon (125)

Command: Drakoni (25)

1st: Chinese Volunteers (15)

Transport Support: Airborne Transport (45)

Support: Death Rain (45)

This triple chopper army is designed to swing around behind and drop off both the Nina and the Chinese Volunteers to make a mess of the enemy forces.  While the choppers are swinging in for a rear area raid, Yakov joined with two Fakyeli squads blobbed together with the Derhavin advance forward covered by the Ohotviki’s Widowmaker rifles.  The Drakoni stick close (but Behind) the Yakstar as they advance.  The army excels at the Assassination Battle Builder Objective which given the chance I will like try for.

General Guidelines I use to Build an Army:

I try to have answer to all unit categories first and foremost.  I want to be able to damage type of unit such as: Soldier 4, Vehicle 6 plus, and Aircraft, and not token damage like one or two dice worth of damage.  Next, I want to make sure that I can take on units at all ranges, be it Close Combat or 30″ or greater.  However, like with Arkhangles, I am willing to have some weaknesses in these areas.  They have to good way to combat Close Combat attacks with the exception that most of the army is flying.  The Arkhangels answer to long range attacks is also aircraft and keep the ground-bound units hidden from sight until they can get close enough to fight back.  I also consider is a bloc’s tendencies.  The SSU are good at killing soldiers but can have a tough time with armor.  They also tend to have shorter ranges than other two blocs.  With Arkhangels, my anti-armor are my Death Rain, Nina, Fakyeli if I can get them in close. Lastly, I think about the Battle Builder and what choices I want off of it for my army and which ones will be disastrous for me if they are selected. The only option I don’t really want with the Arkhangels from the Core Rulebook Battle Builder would be Secure Location if Icarus Fortifications are used.  Largely, I want to prevent my opponent from getting an option that would benefit him/her more.  Although, as mentioned, Assassination would work great for this list.

Conclusion:

I hope this gives you an insight on how you can construct your own army.  Like I said before, I play purely for fun not competition, but do what a challenging game where I win or lose through the cunning tactics of myself or my opponent rather than spamming optimal army lists (which is admittedly difficult in Dust Warfare) or gaping holes in the army list making it a slaughter.  Even the Arkhangels list I went through today wouldn’t be allot of fun if my opponent has no way to combat aircraft units.

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