The Axis was in need of power armor after several conflicts against the Allies were decided upon by their, at the time, new personal battle suits worn by such squads as the Grim Reapers and Tank Busters. Axis commanders demanded research on similar suits that would turn their men into walking tanks. Schwer armor was the creation of these demands. The Axis armor proved to be far heavier and less mobile than the flight capable XM-22 armor of the Allies. However, Schwer armor also boasted far more protective capability of the wearer which Axis generals more than happy to equip their rapidly dwindling supple of fighting men.
This article with review the stats and weapons of the Heavy Recon Grenadiers now known as the Panzers in Dust Battlefield. It will also cover the Axis Heavy Grenadier Platoon which the Heavy Recon Grenadiers can be part of. Additionally, I will review the Axis hero that may join this squad. I will also cover the roles and some tactics I think the Heavy Recon Grenadiers can best be used for. Finally, I want to give my general thoughts and opinions about this particular squad as they compared to both Axis and other bloc’s units.
A little note before we begin. Almost always, I don’t like the name changes of the units that occurred in the new version of Dust Tactics/Dust Battlefield. In fact the only name changes I approve of are the Allied Pelican aircraft and some of the Axis aircraft. I would agree that in the case of the Heavy Recon Grenadiers they could benefit from a name change. This squad is hardly a recce unit to me. Nothing about them seems like they would range ahead to locate the enemy. At the same time, I am not completely sold on the Panzers name either. Admittedly, it is one of the more Germanic re-names and the squad is kinda like a bunch of little tanks (those early war ones only armed with machine guns). I personally would have liked full German names even if the German is actually all butchered up like I have been informed on some of the Axis stuff.
Stats and Weapon
The Heavy Recon Grenadiers are one of the few Axis Solider 3 (S3) units compared to the number of Allied S3 units. Like all Axis S3 units, they have a slower March Move than most infantry with a more typical Move rating. They also have Damage Resilience which when combined with a Cover Save can make the squad seem near indestructible to most attacks. The squad is more expensive that any other non-Command Squad Solider 2 (S2) unit, but outside of one of the Axis Weapon Teams and Desert Suns is the most affordable Axis S3 unit and at the same cost as the Allies Grim Reapers.
Each member is armed with the Twin MG 44Z Shield mounted, belt fed machine gun. This weapon provides outstanding firepower against all classes of Soldier at excellent range. It is also quite effective against Aircraft 1 (A1) and Aircraft 2 (A2) though not quite as effective as the Heavy Flak Grenadiers (a.k.a Flak Boys). Against either A1 or A2 units it is possible for a full squad to shoot a flyer down in a single attack, it is unlikely even with a Sustained Attack since they need or practically need all the dice to succeed.
The Heavy Recon Grenadiers also are armed with heavy combat knives which better at dispatching heroes, but otherwise no better than any other infantry Close Combat weapon. Hardly a match for the Allies Rocket Punch.
Axis Heavy Grenadier Platoon
The Heavy Recon Grenadiers are one of the two choices to create a Heavy Grenadier Platoon. The other being the Heavy Flak Grenadiers. For the most part, the Heavy Recon Grenadiers are the better choice since both squads perform close to the same function but, the Heavy Recon Grenadiers are a little cheaper and much better for fighting infantry. The Heavy Flak Grenadiers are better against aircraft. Aircraft being rather unimpressive though makes this distinction unimportant most of the time. Additionally, the Heavy Flak Grenadiers are capable of engaging Vehicle 3 (V3) which might (Might) be useful especially against the SSU’s KV-47s.
The Platoon Advantage for the Axis Heavy Grenadier Platoon allows Reactivation from the Platoon Leader on Heavy Grenadier Units in or supporting the platoon to succeed 66% per dice roll instead of 33% of the time per die roll. It is hard to argue that doubling the chance of getting a Reactivation to work isn’t a powerful advantage. However, it is all the more frustrating when it doesn’t work, and more importantly, I find I don’t want to Reactivate S3 units all that often. I consider this Platoon Advantage to be one of the better ones even with those caveats.
Axis Hero: Lara
The Axis only have one S3 hero to pick from and that is Feldwebel (Field Usher) Lara Walter. She is practically a squad of Heavy Recon Grenadiers herself as she is armed with two Twin MG 44Z guns which she can split fire or combined for maximum carnage. With the Move and Fire skill, she also gives the squad the much needed mobility to strike much more often and from better spots on the table.
She also has the Officer skill, which like many heroes, I consider more of an unwanted point tax for something I am not likely to make much use of since she is so much more useful for her combat ability. Speaking of point cost, Lara is one of the most expensive heroes that can join squads in Dust Battlefield. This makes her a little tough for me to field her since I could just easily get a second squad of Heavy Recon Grenadiers with points left over to get something else.
Role and Tactics
Perhaps most obvious, is using the Heavy Recon Grenadiers as defensive unit to protect objectives and the like. Their slow March Move, long range weapons, and high capability to survive buckets of dice being tossed at them make them somewhat ideal to the task. They can defend a part of the table even down to the last man who generates more dice than most Allied S2 units at the same range.
Using them as shock troops can be more difficult since they do March Move slower than most other infantry. The Heavy Recon Grenadiers make great support units to offer overwatch or fire protection to your other squads as they advance. If you are more of a creeping doom kind of player combining the Heavy Recon Grenadiers with several squads of Zombies can force your opponent to make tough choices as both squad make their way to their targets. They have to decide on dealing with the cheap Zombies and getting cut down by the Heavy Recon Grenadiers or letting the Zombies through to try and whittle down the Heavy Recon Grenadiers.
Another option is to load your Heavy Recon Grenadiers in a transport to cover more ground. I particularly like placing the Heavy Grenadiers as passengers while having Gorillas hanging on as Tank Riders. Both squads have Damage Resilience allowing to come out of hits/destruction of the transport better than most infantry. As long as you can shake off the Suppression of a blown up transport, you should have been able to cover more ground than on foot. I don’t know it the points work all that well considering the bullet magnet that transport is going to become though.
I find it odd that many Dust players point out the Grim Reapers as the killer threat with all the dice they roll with their guns when the Heavy Recon Grenadiers roll the same amount. I actually find the Heavy Recon Grenadiers to be much more frightening since the Grim Reapers are so much more fragile in comparison often being completely destroyed after a single attack. Whereas the Heavy Recon Grenadiers might hold on after attack and attack.
I think the Heavy Recon Grenadiers are almost always a better choice than the Heavy Flak Grenadiers. The only time I think the Heavy Flak Grenadiers are a better option is against a KV-47 heavy SSU list where a Salvo of Fliegerfausts can finish off a bad damaged Soviet Walker.
Another competitor for the same role of the Heavy Recon Grenadiers is the Sand Vipers. They are nearly the half the cost, but they can generate about 3/4 as much anti-infantry firepower. As a Soldier 1 unit, they won’t have nearly as much surviving power, but the Vipers are much, much faster.
The Heavy Recon Grenadiers are one of the Axis’ best units in my opinion. They offer something that bloc can sometimes have a hard time generating which is anti-infantry firepower. Their biggest weakness really is what all Axis 3 units suffer from, slow movement. Which may or may not be all that big of a weakness depending on your play style and expertise in working out engaging the enemy units.