|Yes it did.|
I played a 300pt game of Dust Warfare on Tuesday and it was quite enjoyable. As most of my BRs are more self-reflection and bullet point analysis these days, this will be short and to the point. I'll talk about some of the stuff I found interesting and tactical mistakes and good plays that happened during the game.
My 300pt Axis force had..
PU: Implacable = 15
C: Heavy Kommandotrupp + Lara = 64
1: Axis Gorillas + Markus = 48
2: Heavy Recon Grenadiers = 30
3: Battle Grenadiers (+Pzshrek) = 20
4: Battle Grenadiers (+Pzshrek) = 20
S1: Sniper Team = 12
S2: Medium Pz Walker-B “Ludwig” = 40
S3: Medium Pz Walker-B “Ludwig” = 40
My opponent (Chris) had:
C: Ranger Command Squad
1: Ranger Combat Squad
2: Ranger Recon Squad
3: Ranger Weapon Squad
S: “Pounder” Medium Walker
S: “Steel Rain” Medium Walker
S: Observer Team
C: Ozz 177
1: Heavy Ranger Assault Squad
2: Heavy Ranger Attack Squad
3: Heavy Ranger Tank Hunter Squad
S: Sniper Team
Ozz 177 attached to the Heavy Ranger Assault Squad.
- Some key notes to point out here about faction playstyles: Axis likes to entrench and play defensive, utilizing their long range firepower to whittle down and destroy the enemy. The Allies like mobility in the form of jumping tanks and infantry while using close-ranged tactics to lay on the hurt.
- We went with the competitive mission builder to select our mission and my opponent, Chris, got to go first when picking. The mission eventually turned into Eliminate the Enemy (Kill Points), which I forced and he went for Close Engagement (for 2 scenario points). Close Engagement means I wouldn't be able to bring my long range advantage to bear.. or did it?
- After terrain was setup, I noticed that the center of the board was literally a kill zone. There was hardly any cover, maybe 2 pieces of hard cover, and the rest of the map had ranges of soft/hard cover as well as LoS blockers from ruined buildings. I chose to setup most of my units in close proximity to each other while Markus and his battle monkeys took shelter out in hard cover and out of LoS from his Sniper unit.
- Initiative went to me in the first round of combat because I rolled “low” and had fewer dice to roll initiative because of my smaller pool of units. The first thing I did was use one of my orders in the Command phase to shoot my Ludwig at his Pounder. I managed to do 3 solid points of damage to it as he was unable to save any with his armor value of 4. He only has 1 more health left but he has his Ranger Command Squad next to it. That squad also had a mechanic in it. My second course of action was to use my Sniper team to counter-snipe his Sniper. I put a wound disallowing cover or armor saves onto his Sniper team and he was forced to pull the spotter. Without the spotter, his Sniper will be needing 5s to deal damage instead of 1-4.
- This round was absolutely brutal as the true sense of unit lethality was brought into the light. Since the deployment was relatively in short distance, I was able to move my heavy MG units (Lara and the HQ unit and Heavy Recon Grens) into firing rang of two of his units deployed in buildings. With tons of dice to throw down from 16″, Soldiers 2s just can't take much firepower even in hard cover. After Lara and her unit fired, the Ranger Command Squad loses 3 guys out of 5 and the Heavy Recon Grens mow down another Ranger squad. With Suppression markers on both squads, Markus and his unit of battle-frenzied apes charged across the battlefield and ripped the RCS into pieces.
- Winning the initiative seemed huge at first, but the more I realize it, I think it was a deployment error that caused such losses. One of the things that kept coming up during the game was the lack of a valid target via LoS. If you can't see a model in the unit, if that unit gets shot at and killed via forced wounds or something, the model that can't be seen can't be pulled as a casualty. In a mission like this kill point mission, players might be able to constantly hide the last remaining model to deny the enemy victory points.
- Another thing that's huge is not allowing your enemy any reactions from giving them suppression. If you shoot something first and give them a suppression marker, your assaulty units just get so much better. Think of it like covering fire, as long as enemy units are keeping their heads down, they don't have time to react to something like steroid-driven super apes.
- Speaking of the apes, I think I'll be taking them in every game that I can. Markus has 6 wounds and with Soldier3 and cannot be suppressed, he can literally soak up enough damage to cover the squad twice over. Markus had something like 4 wounds towards the end of the game and he just kept on trucking. His Charge ability also gave his apes insane coverage of the battlefield. In close quarters fighting, he was able to jump from place to place (literally) and rip limbs off of his victims and beat them with it.
- Reactions are huge in this game. I think Chris used his reactions quite well in some circumstances where he was able to evade damage and deal damage decisively. Once, he Jumped in with his AT Ranger squad and put some serious damage on the rear of one of my Ludwigs. On my unit phase, I declared Sustained Fire from one of my Battle Grenadier squads onto his ATR squad and he just jumped away! I wasted my turn with them basically and because they were just standing there, they were susceptible to damage from other, shorter ranged units that were closing in on the flank.
- Another good reaction that Chris pulled off was when I left hard cover with my Heavy Recon Grenadiers. He simply shot them to oblivion with his Heavy Ranger Attack Squad (2x 30cal MGs each) as a reaction after I ended my movement. Since I left cover, the damage was greatly amplified and I took serious damage (losing 2 out of 3 dudes). I got him back with Markus and his apes though, since his reaction marker means that he couldn't react again on my unit phase. Later in the game, one of his Soldier2 Ranger squads left cover to shoot at Lara's HQ unit and she just lit them the fudgemuffins up on reaction. Four twin MG44s shooting back at Soldier2 units with Burst activated is just all kinds of hurt.
- Burst weapons are insanely ridiculous. Denying cover in a game with high lethality is a great way kill units like crazy. Those Allied UGLs are insane.. I gotta watch out for that.
- Indirect fire from artillery pieces from an Observer Team is pretty cool. It basically allowed Chris' tank to fire unopposed the entire game because I was unable to get to him and draw LoS. I might need to look into some Nebelwerfer options of my own.
- Marching is a great way to save some units from that's taken severe damage. Since when you march, you basically ignore terrain, 12″ goes a long way to hide your units behind buildings and out of LoS. For each model you save, that's an entire unit your opponent gets no points for. I think in this case, shooting a unit with multiple units would be better than trying to annihilate it because you'll probably force a good number of wounds, plus the fact you'll give it multiple suppression markers. The more markers a unit has, the higher the chances he'll break once his unit dwindles in size.
- Snipers definitely make up their points with good placement. Winning initiative on the first turn allowed me to take down his spotter and render his Sniper battle ineffective. Not only was I able to neutralize his Sniper unit, I was also able to take down a Heavy Assault Ranger with them before they got mowed down by MG fire from his jumpy 30cal dudes. Still a great use of points imo, as it allows the player who has the Snipers to control shooting lanes and take down more, heavily-armored troops.
- Even though I killed a bunch of models in the first turn, I lost initiative for the rest of the game. I think clever use of cover, reactions, forcing suppression markers and unit preservation is more important in this particular mission. This of course means that target priority is really important and you can never be too gracious on the amount of firepower you want to poor into a unit. I think shooting it till it dies or is combat ineffective (in games other than KP) is king.