I’m sort of breaking my own unit assessment rules talking about two units that don’t come in the same box or are pretty much exactly the same across the blocs. However, the differences between the Allied Ranger Assault Squad a.k.a BBQ Squad and the Allied Ranger Attack Squad a.k.a. Hell Boys are extremely close in role and weapon construction that it would be hard to talk about one without comparing it to the other. In this article I will go over the stats, skills, and weapons for each squad detailing what makes each unit different from the other. I will also spend some time talking about the Allied Ranger Platoon that these units can support and benefit from. I also want to cover all the Allies heroes that can join either the BBQ Squad or the Hell Boys. Finally, I will end the article with my opinions about each unit.
Stats and Weapons
As with all Ranger (not Heavy Ranger) units, both the BBQ Squad and the Hell Boys are Solider 2 (S2) units. Both squad feature a slightly faster Move than most other S2 units, but they have the same March Move. Both units actually have the exact same point cost.
The weapon that is of most interest in these squads (at least for me) is the Flamethrower. This weapon is one of the primary differences between the two squads. The BBQ Squad only has the one Flamethrower. While the Hell Boys are equipped with two. Flamethrowers are very powerful weapons in Dust Battlefield as they provide soldier units a template weapon. Additionally, they have the Flame special ability which takes away any Infantry and/or Cover Save the target might have as well as automatically Suppressing that unit should the weapon hit.
The other weapon each squad has in common is the Shotgun. This weapon have fairly short range, but is highly effective against Soldier 1, 2, or 3 units. It is even somewhat effective against Soldier 4, though; it is less likely to destroy/cripple Soldier 4 (S4) units unless in en masse.
Finally, the BBQ Squad have Demo Charges which are doubly more effective Close Combat weapon the standard Close Combat attacks of infantry against vehicles and triply so against heroes. In pure mechanical respects, this makes the BBQ Squad exactly the same as the SSU Fakyeli. As odd as it might sound, in Dust Battlefield Demo Charges and Molotov Cocktails are the same weapon.
Allies Ranger Platoon
Neither the BBQ Squad nor the Hell Boys are an option to build an Allies Ranger Platoon. Which is a bit of a shame since they are one of the more effective ranger squads. These units can benefit from the Platoon Advantage of a Ranger (not Heavy Ranger) Platoon which gives all Rangers (not Heavy Rangers though) the Scout skill and an additional dice to come in from Reserves or Delayed Reserves.
I like both of the advantages for either of these squads. I don’t like my units sitting in Reserves/Delay Reserves almost ever. I want all my units on the table as quickly as possible to give me the largest amount of options and fire support. I usually like both the Ranger and Heavy Ranger Platoon Advantage of the extra Reserves/Delayed Reserves die often times more than the Platoon Advantages primary perk.
Normally, I am not all that much of a fan of the Scout skill in Dust Battlefield because it just doesn’t do anything with infantry units since many times their weapons just don’t have the range to hit anything even with the March Move. This, of course, goes doubly so for the short range Shotguns and shorter ranged Flamethrowers of these squads. However, it is still possible to catch a very aggressive opponent at the beginning of the game every now and then with at least the Shotgun. What I find more effective is Scout after Round 1 say with Delay Reserves or a missed Reserves roll or a successful Reinforcements Officer action, which I think these squads make good choices to bring back, to get right into the fight and annihilate the closing in enemy infantry.
The Allies have a bunch of Soldier 2 Heroes to pick from and almost all of them are good choices for either the BBQ Squad or the Hell Boys depending on what you are going for. Just understand that most of these heroes will take away the extra Move distance of either squad. I will review all of them with my opinions on how effective I think they might be.
Bazooka Joe: He would be great if he had a Move that matched these squads. His Grenade Launcher is fairly short range and adds yet another template weapon to these squads. The Grenade Launcher is also fairly effective against armor which combined with a couple of Flamethrowers (or Demo Charges if you can get really close) can take on up to about Vehicle 4 fairly well. I find Joe to be a little pricey for use this way since he has Officer.
Johnny One-Eye: He isn’t a great choice for these squads unless you are simply looking for a meat shield. Johnny is only a point more than another BBQ Squad or Hell Boys units and provides the same amount of Damage Capacity making him good at ensuring all the models make it across the table. However, unless your opponent foolishly keeps several of their infantry squad close together Johnny’s machine gun with Killing Spree plus Fighting Spirit combined with the Shotguns and Flamethrower(s) is likely to be overkill. Might be best to have Johnny and the BBQ Squad/Hell Boys part ways once they get close to where you want them.
Rosie: I think she is the weakest of the choices for the BBQ Squad and Hell Boys. You are going to be paying a lot of points for the Skills she has and not likely to use them, her Bazooka seems out of play with the weapon load outs of these squads, and like all the other S2 heroes she slows the Move of them.
The Priest: I think the Priest is the best hero to join these squads especially the BBQ Squad. The Priest’s dynamite would be a welcome addition to all those Demo Charges. Unlike the rest of the Allied heroes, the Priest doesn’t affect the Move distance of either squad. The biggest issue I have is the giving up of Spy to have him start the game with one of these squads seems like a bit of a shame. Although, the Priest should live much longer that way.
Role and Tactics
Both the BBQ Squad and the Hell Boys are best as shock troopers who are able to punch through advancing enemy infantry. They realistically only squads that can suffer heavy losses and still not be crippled unlike the other Ranger squads. In many ways, these squad function much like SSU S2 units. Which is unsurprising considering the BBQ Squad and the Fakyeli are mechanically identical.
While both the BBQ Squad and Hell Boys are very close in their functional roles, they do have subtle differences in what they offer. I find the Hell Boys to offer more anti-infantry capability than the BBQ Squad in general. Which is kinda strange since more Shotguns with the BBQ Squad should equal more attacks more infantry. The Hell Boys can also be a little more tricky to use since those two flamethrowers require the squad to get much closer and also require more careful positioning of the flame template as to not catch your own troops under it. The Hell Boys can offer more consistent damage to armor if you have the ability to keep them alive round after round.
I find the BBQ Squad is a slightly better squad for tackling armor or enemy squads with a hero in them. The unit’s Demo Charges can offer a much better one-time hit against armor than what the Hell Boys can generate (provided you can get the squad there with few losses). Additionally, the BBQ Squad make pretty good hero assassins (Even against Soldier 3 and Soldier 4) if you can get within 2″ of the enemy hero. Just use your ranged weapons and follow up with the Demo Charges. If you don’t wipe out the hero with the ranged weapons, the Demo Charges might do the trick.
With either squad, remember they have a faster Move than most infantry. Also remember that can be taken away with rough terrain. Try to make sure to get an open path to you target close the distance as fast as possible.
Both Squad also work well as a screen for your longer ranged Ranger squads. Or conversely, Longer ranged Ranger squads work well providing overwatch to these squads. I think Dust Battlefield allows the old WWII United States infantry doctrine of Able, Baker, Charlie to work. In this doctrine I use the 13 Foxtrot as Able which are supposed to scout and snipe, or in Dust Battlefield’s case sneak toward the objective/pull enemy units away to uncover the Camouflage. Baker is your longer ranged squad such as the Death Dealers or Recon Boys. Their job is to thin out the enemy or at very least try to Suppress them. Finally, Charlie is the BBQ Squad or Hell Boys which are to deliver the killing blow. This works best if Able and Baker can target multiple units to more effectively put Under Fire/Suppression Tokens down. Sadly, it is a very tricky, often unrewarded tactic since Dust Battlefield’s suppression mechanics leave something to be desired. But when it does work, you really feel like you pulled off something.
I think both the BBQ Squad and the Hell Boys are good units. However, they like all Ranger units look like they are going to be replaced with faster (March Move), cheaper, and almost as tough Marine units once Babylon arrives in full. The Hell Boys can’t really compete with the Marine Hell Blazers who also have two Flamethrowers at a cost of 2 points less. Sure, the Hell Blazers are armed with SMGs which don’t quite cause as much damage but still enough to cripple most enemy squads and with slightly better range. Even the Marine Hot Shots offer a role close to what the BBQ Squad/Hell Boys offer only a little faster and cheaper.
As a player, I still like the Rangers even with their seemingly declining usefulness in an Allies army list. I personally prefer the Hell Boys over the BBQ Squad because for one, they have a much cooler name. I also like having the two Flamethrower to better ensure they work. Although, I will admit that I think the BBQ Squad are probably the more effective of the two squads since Shotguns give you the same amount of dice regardless of the number of soldier models you are shooting at and Demo Charges are more likely to affect damage on armor.
No matter which, the BBQ Squad or the Hell Boys work great in part of a Range Platoon. I always try to include at least one squad of them when I field Rangers.