You’ve bought the Dust Tactics Revised Core Set (RCS) and you’ve played some introductory games of Dust Warfare (and maybe some Dust Tactics, too). But the core set is starting to feel a bit limiting and you want more! More armies, more stuff to play with, more Dust!
Welcome to Building Out Of The Box! This series of articles will show you how to expand your Dust Warfare army (or maybe armies!) by building from what you already have in the RCS.
The Axis forces in the RCS amount to 140 Army Points (AP). The idea is that you can field them straight out of the box as one platoon, and maybe take a cheap platoon upgrade, too, such as Improved Command.
When you want to expand, the first thing to look at is infantry. After all, in most cases you’ll have more of them in your army than any other type of unit.
Start by looking at the bigger picture. Your army is one platoon now, but what if you want to play a 300 AP army with two platoons? You’ll need a command section for your other platoon. This can either be an actual unit of soldiers, or it can be a Hero acting as a command section.
The platoon included in the RCS is a Blutkreuz platoon, synonymous with zombies, apes, lasers, and other weird and wacky inventions the secret German Blutkreuz Corps come up with! A Blutkreuz platoon can be led by the Sturmpioniere, Sigrid von Thaler from the original core set, or Manfred from the Operation Cyclone expansion.
Operation Cyclone isn’t the best value for money if you’re just buying it to get Manfred, unless you really want to use him. His AP cost is the cheapest in the Axis, and one of his weapons, the Panzerfaust, can shoot all the way up to Armour 7 vehicles with a 12″ range. He also has Assault, so he can only be reacted to before he uses a March Move, not after. But his other weapons are generally not that exciting.
Sigrid is much harder to find than Manfred, and you might have to scour eBay to find someone selling an original core set to get her. If you do manage to find her, you can use her Laser-Pistole B all the way to Armour 3 (although it’s much better against infantry). Her Berzerk ability lets you reroll an attack action as if it were a Sustained Attack, but still counts as one action, not two.
To start with, the best option is to go with the Sturmpionere, and leave the Heroes for more specialised ideas once you’re more familiar with the game.
The Axis has four other platoons that you could include: Sturmgrenadiere, Schwer, all-zombie and all-gorilla. Let’s have a look at each of these.
A Sturmgrenadiere platoon can be led by a unit of , Manfred or Stefan from the Axis Hero Pack. I’ve already covered Manfred, so let’s look at Stefan, then the Kommandotrupp.
Stefan is basically a nutter with a flamethrower. A brilliant nutter, but still a nutter! His Flammenwerfer (flamethrower) only has a 6″ range, but has S/1 against all infantry, and 1/4 against all armour which means that if you roll well, whatever is in front of him is toast!
The “S” in “S/1″ refers to a Spray weapon (because it’s awkward to show the flame symbol from the rulebook on the web). You count the number of models in the unit you’re attacking, and roll that many dice for the attack.
Stefan also has the Tactical Brilliance ability, which affects the very beginning of the game. By then you’ll have already seen your opponent’s army list, so improving your chances of going first or second might be beneficial, depending on what your opponent is running.
Now lets look at the Kommandotrupp, one of my favourite units in the game. This plucky unit hands you an Officer, a Storm Grenadier, a Mechanic, a Medic and a Radioman. Their guns aren’t great, but its their abilities that seal the deal.
The Radioman gets the Artillery Strike and the Radioman abilities, and it can be fun to “remote control” a Walker from outside of command distance! Meanwhile, the Mechanic can bring vehicles back to fighting condition and the Medic can remove damage from soldiers and even resurrect them.
The Kommandotrupp are only lightly armoured as they’re Infantry 2, so you’ll have to keep them out of trouble. However, they’re an excellent unit if you prefer to play with crafty tactics instead of charging in full pelt!
“Schwer” is German for “heavy,” and a Schwer platoon is indeed mostly made up of heavy units. A Schwer platoon can be led by a Heavy Kommandotrupp unit, or Lara, one of the Heroes you already have from the RCS.
The Heavy Kommandotrupp is made up of 3 models: a Schwer Officer, a Schwer Mechanic and a Schwer Medic. Like the regular Kommandotrupp they have the Artillery Strike, Mechanic and Medic abilities, and the Officer also has the Radioman ability. Because they’re heavies, they also have Damage Resilient, which gives them an extra die for Armour Rolls.
The Heavy Kommandotrupp functions in much the same way as their regular counterparts, except that they’re Soldier 3 instead of 2. The downside to fielding this unit is that, along with every other heavy unit, there are only three of them and they still have 1 DC each. So it’s harder to hit these guys, but easier to wipe them out if the hits do get through.
Lara is a great option for a Schwer command section if you want to experiment with the platoon. You already have her from the RCS, and she’s incredibly effective in combat. Lara can lay down a lot of fire with her two MG 44 Zwei guns, and she is the only Axis hero who can shoot aircraft. Lara is also has Damage Resilient for an extra die in Armour rolls, and Assault which makes reacting to her a tricky decision!
Because Lara can be taken as a Schwer command section, you can also combine her with the Heavy Flak Grenadiers and Heavy Laser Grenadiers from the RCS, plus a walker to make a Schwer platoon. You actually get a choice of two Axis platoons (or, at least, the beginnings of two platoons) in the box! [Thanks to Jason in the comments for pointing that out.]
Yaaba my icing!
Now let’s look at zombies! This is the part where the Blutkreuz Korps clearly took the idea of recycling a bit too literally!
If you wish, you can field a platoon of nothing but Totenmeister and one to four units of Axis zombies, but no support units and no platoon upgrades.
Totenmeister (literally “Master of the Dead”) is a Soldier 2 Hero with 4 DC, and has the Blutkreuz Zombie, Damage Resilient and Wiederbelebungsserum abilities. So, she cannot be suppressed, gains an extra die in an Armour Roll, and can take a Regenerate action to heal both herself and other zombies as the serum also works like a Medic ability on zombies.
In shooting, Totenmiester wields the Blut Kreuz, which can fire all the way up to Armour 7. 6/1 against Infantry 2 and 4/1 against infantry 3 is not bad at all when combined with a horde of zombies. But the downside to her — indeed, to the whole platoon — is that her weapon is close combat only; zombies can’t shoot!
A zombie platoon might be best as a secondary platoon, causing chaos while your primary platoon executes your strategy. Be wary of Reactions, though, and use other units to suppress the enemy to take away those Reactions.
Finally let’s look at the Axis Gorillas platoon, also known as a Kampfaffen platoon. This platoon can be led by Markus, a product of two Axis programs and probably the most intelligent ape in the world.
Markus is a Soldier 3 with 6 DC. He has the Blutkreuz Ape, Charge, and Fast abilities. This means he can ignore suppression, can be given an out-of-range command in the Command Phase, can move as if he had Climb, can attack at the end of a March Move, and he can move an extra 6″ at the end of a Move or March Move action.
Together, these abilities mean that Markus, along with his legions of apes, are fast! At the start of a game, they can easily move 18″ across the board. immediately getting involved in the action. Alternatively, you might want to sneak them around, and then unleash their speed when it’s even more effective to do so. The decision to go first or second in the Intiative Phase matters more with these guys!
Like the zombies, gorillas can’t shoot, so they’re limited to close combat range only. But Markus is surprisingly effective against Armour, and not too bad against Infantry, either. It’s best to hunt in packs to maximise the effect of all those Panzer Gloves battering on the enemy! Also, like the zombies, be aware of Reactions and strike when the enemy is suppressed.
Onwards to victory!
Hopefully this article has started to give you some idea of where to go next with the Axis after you’ve cracked open the RCS and played a few games of Warfare. It’s not an expensive game to expand and it’s a lot of fun getting new stuff and throwing it into action.
How would you expand your Axis forces? What do you plan to get next? Are you playing more than one army? Post in the comments and let’s talk army expansion!
Look out for the next instalment in this series when I’ll go over Allied command units.