When I first started playing Dust with Dust Warfare, Red Yana was like the sister to Koshka. She was a walker pilot that didn’t have the Grand’Ma Only restriction, and she was armed with a better weapon. The big differences between Red Yana was she couldn’t lead a Platoon and cost a few more points.
Now in Dust Battlefield, Red Yana still doesn’t lead platoons (Babylon not withstanding), but she don’t drive vehicles anymore either. She has become a sort of Soviet super Sergeant leading her squad to victory with acts of daring beyond most infantry. Maybe she took a correspondence course.
This article will review the SSU Hero Red Yana going over her abilities, some tactics you can use with her, and my over all (super biased) opinion on her as unit compared to the rest of Dust Battlefield.
Red Yana is a Soldier 2 (S2) unit as one of the original heroes of the SSU. Which only had S2 units at launch. She is armed with a Grenade Rifle which is pretty much an up ranged version of the SSU Grenade Pistol that many of the other SSU Heroes are armed with. Its most notable ability is that it fires a blast template and, as one might expect, has the Grenade special ability. It also has some effect on up to Vehicle 3 (V3) but at a single die not really something that will impress anyone. Of course, with Red Yana it does mean a good chance of getting that 1 damage if that’s all you need.
Red Yana herself has the Expert skill with the Grenade Rifle. That skill combined with the inherent abilities of the weapon means that firing on any 5 man squad with an Attack is likely to remove 2 models fairly consistently. You could add another model being taken off the table if it was a Sustained Attack. Which is not very difficult for Red Yana to perform since she is also an Infantry Ace.
Infantry Ace is the real reason you would take this hero. For the single digit cost of Red Yana, I would take a hero that only had Infantry Ace, extra Damage Capacity, and the standard hero extra Suppression token removal die. Okay, that theoretic hero should also have a pistol or something I guess. Red Yana still has the Lucky skill. Which I don’t know if I have ever seen it used since she already hits so well. I guess in the event of of that one off roll it is good to have.
I also want to mention the lack of a skill that is an advantage for fielding Red Yana. She doesn’t have the Officer skill which allows her to keep her point cost down since she doesn’t have what amounts to an extra tax on most Officer heroes.
Role and Tactics
Red Yana and a squad of your liking seem to work best as the vanguard of your forces. You can reasonably expect her Infantry Ace to kick-in every time (realistically only 66%) you activate her giving you a much larger threat bubble than most SSU S2 units are capable of creating. As mentioned, Red Yana all by herself can be expected to eliminate 2/5ths of an opposing squad in cover or no. Combine her with a few smgs or machine guns, and I would expect to one shot kill any enemy infantry that doesn’t have a special defense (i.e. Damage Resilience, Zombie, etc.). Also remember that you can attempt to use an Officer Reactivation which when combined with Infantry Ace is like getting three activations in a single round.
Because of those reasons, I like to have her join the Red Thunder. Red Yana provides the extra move (via Infantry Ace) and anti-infantry firepower, and the Red Thunder have the PTRSs and UGLs which are enough to handle medium armor and may even be able to tackle heavy (Vehicle 5 of 6) reasonably well. Especially when you consider they might be able to make a Sustained Attack (thanks again Infantry Ace). Rushing across the table work even better if the Red Thunder are part of the SSU Rifle Platoon. Red Yana can’t make use of the Platoon Advantage, but if your are feeling lucky the Red Thunder can.
The Red Thunder isn’t the only squad option for Red Yana to join the works well. She also does quite well with Red Storm who also pack a mean anti-armor punch with their UGLs and Molotov Cocktails. The Frontoviki are an okay choice as well if you want more of ranged defense unit. The Fakyeli work, but just remember that their Move is slowed since Red Yana doesn’t share the same value. Of course, Red Yana and the Fakyeli could go their separate ways when that becomes an issue. I wouldn’t have Red Yana join the Ohotniki (Red Hunters) since you won’t get the use of Yana’s weapon and the snipers don’t necessarily benefit from 3 actions as much as other units. What I am trying to say is the Ohotniki aren’t that great of a squad, and you should avoid attempting a sunk cost fallacy by trying to prop them up with Red Yana.
Finally, you can always consider adding a Commissar. I don’t think doing so is all that great. It is point inefficient adding Commissars since the squad basically already has the Brave skill from Red Yana. I would say it also makes the augmented squad a larger target to be attacked, but considering how dangerous Red Yana is the squad is going to see a lot of firepower thrown their way regardless.
I think Red Yana is overpowered. I don’t think the designers of the game understood the value of Infantry Ace. I think the designers felt that because it had a random affect on the game it wouldn’t be all that powerful. Maybe if Offcier Reactivations wasn’t thing it might be, but the Ace skills (Infantry, Pilot, Flying) increase the effectiveness the unit on paper by 50%. I think it is more so in practice since it removes the required move to get into position with the ability to Sustain Attack to more easily allow one shot kills in a very lethal game.
In many ways, I think this is compounded with of Dust Battlefield handles infantry and particularly SSU infantry. In Dust Battlefield infantry are the hardest type of unit to remove from the table since they at least get an Infantry Save under most circumstances. The SSU (at least until Babylon) was the best, in general, bloc when it came to still having an effective soldier squad after heavy causalities. Many of their troops are a little cheaper and their smgs generate enough dice to still hurt in small numbers.
Plus, Red Yana with a squad of Red Storm can be just as difficult to eliminate off the table as Lara and some Heavy Recon Grenadiers an they cover ground much faster. They can’t generate as much damage or deal out from as far away, but the roll enough dice to eliminate most squads in their way anyways. As for the range, the nature of Dust Battlefield missions being objective based means closing the distance gets you that much closer to capturing an objective as well.
I think you could drop Expert: Grenade Rifle and Lucky off of Red Yana and she would still be a good choice at her point cost. After all, the rifle already takes cover away and there aren’t many blast template weapons wielded by troops. If you were to keep all the stats and skills on Red Yana, I would easily add another 3 to 4 points. That is how much overpowered I think she is.
Red Yana, point for point, is the most effective hero the SSU have if you ask me. Her closest competition is Winter Child, but his point cost justifies his excellence (sorta). I haven’t know too many players to field Koshka (unless they were new and had limited options) or Nikolai (well except me). I don’t even think I have seen someone try out Yakov at all. But Red Yana, I have faced her more often than any other hero with maybe the exception of Panzerprinz.
If you are going for effectiveness in your SSU army list, Red Yana is an auto include. I still hold some preconceptions from Dust Warfare, and find it odd that the former walker pilot now leads troops. So, it is rare for my to add her to my army list. That, and I think she is too good as to be bordering on unfair.