Lieutenant David Bonner is one of more odd heroes of Dust Battlefield. On the one hand, he is built to act as a solo saboteur, on the other hand, he can work with other Soldier 2 (S2) squads. Additionally, his best weapon is Close Combat and a template.
This article will go over what the Priest can do. It will also give players thinking about fielding him some ideas of how to field him. Finally, I will give my thoughts and opinion on just how effective I think this hero is compared to other units in the Allies and in Dust Battlefield as a whole.
Stats, Skills, and Weapons
As previously mentioned, the Priest is a Soldier 2 hero with all the standard Damage Capacity of most S2 heroes. Both his Move and March Move are a little faster than you would expect from a S2 unit, but given the roles he takes this increase suits him well.
He is armed with two weapons: a Webley Revolver and Dynamite. I consider his revolver more of a backup weapon since it does cause much damage and has a short range. Although you can almost count on it taking down a Soldier 1 (S1) or S2 model out of cover. It is the Priest’s Dynamite that is his really weapon. The Dynamite is a blast template (against Infantry) Close Combat weapon which I have always assumed doesn’t affect him. Although, thinking about it, I might be wrong. I hope I’m not wrong, because that would be dumb. It is only a single die versus armor, but can destroy most Vehicle 3 (V3) and below outright and can take almost half the Damage Capacity of up to Vehicle 5.
The Priest is highly skilled with Dynamite and has the Expert skill. Even if that should fail him, he also has the Lucky skill to make sure to get in at least one good hit. Lastly, he has the Spy skill which makes his appearance on the table highly unpredictable.
Role and Tactics
The Priest has two main roles in my eyes. The first is as a solo saboteur that makes use of his Spy skill to disrupt the enemy by destroying/crippling one of their key units. The other is more typical as a hero that joins a squad to increase their survivability and effectiveness. Of the two, I think the saboteur is the more effective one. Especially if the Priest can survive and manage to join a squad after making use of Spy skill.
As a spy saboteur, the Priest tends to be a suicide unit like most spies. He will get in one good attack before the enemy gun him down. The Priest is reasonably good at targeting either large groups of infantry or vehicles. If deployed against infantry I would recommend having the Priest target the opponent’s Command Squad. With a combination of his pistol and dynamite he has a chance of eliminating the whole squad, but I would be happy just getting it down to a single model which removes a lot influence of the Command Squad regardless of what function your opponent wants to keep. Against armor, I would try to target a key unit avoiding Vehicle 7 (V7) and even Vehicle 6 to some extent (V6). The big exception being SSU tanks which don’t have all that much Damage Capacity, and you are likely going to have work at them for a while anyways.
I suggest waiting on activating the Priest regardless of infantry or armor to as far into the turn as you possibly can. The only units I would try to hold off on longer would be my units I plan on using the Officer skill since so long as you have the chance to reactivate a unit your opponent has to take that into account including the Priest himself if he decides to show himself. Even though it is out of your hands, I like spies coming in a round or two late since your opponent’s back field is likely to less units to counter your spy. Plus, the Priest just might be able to join up with a S2 squad that has advanced far enough to meet up.
For the most part when you are using a Spy you should expect to only get a single action out of them. In the rare times when you manage to get both actions, I recommend performing an Attack and Move. This should maximize the disruption that your spy (in this case the Priest) can cause. The Priest’s faster than average Move also aids him in finding cover, Line of Sight blocking terrain, or hopefully an nearby friendly unit.
As a more typical hero, I think the Priest does work well with either the BBQ Squad or the Hell Boy. He is more effective with the BBQ Squad since they also have an effective Close Combat weapon with their Demo Charges further increasing the level of armor that can be brought down. With either squad, the Priest doesn’t reduce their Move to close in which is a big plus. The biggest issue I have with using the Priest this way is that he costs as much as either of these squads, and I don’t think he is quite worth it to me.
Between the Priest and the other Allied Spy, Chef, the Priest is the more flexible unit although you pay the points for him. Which considering spies tend to get one hit in and are killed often by a weapon(s) that wouldn’t have even shot at anything if the spy wasn’t on the table. I like the Priest a little more as I feel more confident that he is going to destroy an entire Command Squad or cause more damage to a vehicle. Plus, the Priest has an actual template weapon. Two times I fielded Chef thinking his blow torches are a flame weapon…
That said, I don’t really like the Spy skill as it is. It is way too unreliable most of the time. You only have about a 50/50 chance of the spy even showing and even less of a chance of him getting both actions. My spies seem to always show up when I don’t really want them to which is actually the first time I roll even if I place them in Reserves. When I use the Priest I want to have a chance of him running back to join a squad, or at very least, have my opponent’s force spread out a little more. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could take a Nothing action to keep them hidden a little longer and have to roll again. The next unreliable thing about Spy is their number of actions. If you get a single action with a Spy, that is a practically a death sentence for them. As mentioned, either the Priest or Chef can’t destroy a 5 man S1 or S2 squad in a single hit enough to count on it. This is even worst against vehicles. If they can’t move away, chances are that attacked unit (or more commonly the machine guns on a nearby vehicle) are going to gun them down. Five points loss this way, I can stomach, nine points is too steep.
Ultimately, I think the Priest is a little overpriced in points. As a Spy he isn’t reliable enough to disrupt the enemy, and as typical hero he doesn’t offer enough to the couple of units that he works well with. I would change my opinion if the Spy skill could take a Nothing action to hold until another round presents a better opportunity keeping the number of actions or re-rolling. I would even be fine with Spy having a 2/3s chance of getting actions as these units desperately need both to survive. I do have concerns that it would be too powerful, but as a Dust Warfare player that eventually adapted to Air Drop, and even as a Battlefield player that has battled against paratrooper (both SSU and Allied) platoons, I don’t think this is too unreasonable. I can see many players thinking he (and other spies) are fine as they do create a pretty dangerous threat to any unit, anywhere on the table, and nearly anytime.
As it stands, I have never felt that the Priest has been as effective of a unit as the points I paid for him.