DUST Tactics: The Axis Unleashed!

October 4, 2013 by crew

Hi I’m Jo and I’d like to talk to you about Dust Tactics. I’ve been collecting Dust Tactics models since 2011 and since then I have amassed a modest Axis force that have yet to be defeated! I have enjoyed the game so much I felt like sharing it with you.

DUST Tactics Logo

Dust Tactics is a tactical miniature based board game for 2-4 players. The game is based in a 1940′s style alternate universe, where Allied and Axis forces fight for ownership of a revolutionary and mysterious ore called VK; this powers the elite troops and huge mechanical walkers that don the battlefield.

Axis Shield

When I was first introduced to the game the first thing that drew me in was the models; they are made from a good quality resin plastic, the detail is superb and paint takes to it like a duck to water without the need for base spray first. The Allies are traditionally the ‘good guys’ of the Dust Tactics world and, therefore the figures are all gun toting humans with incredibly well-crafted uniforms and features. Their mechanical walkers and tanks are neat, practical and well manufactured to demonstrate that they are hardy and ready for battle.

Alongside the Allied and Axis armies, there are also the Russians – the SSU, the latest in the range.

Each army consists of different troops with varying weapons and special abilities, mechanical walkers which specialise more in ranged attacks against opposing enemy, tanks which are, as you’d hope from this kind of machinery, much tougher to take down and pack a harder punch. Finally aeroplanes, which unlike ground forces ignore cover in the form of blockades and bridges and can make a faster, harder attack on your opponent. Another advantage is that a plane can only be targeted by certain specialised units plus of course other planes.

Axis Army

Leading your forces are special characters heroes which can be added to your army; attached to troops that have the same specialised skill. For example, all troops of zombies have the ‘Blutkreuz Zombie’ skill so any hero, such as Totenmeister, that also have the ‘Blutkreuz Zombie’ skill can be attached to any zombie troop. These are an incredibly handy addition to your army, as they share their abilities with the troop that they are attached to and can significantly affect the troops attack power.

Axis Heroes

The Axis are traditionally the ‘bad guys’ in this kind of setting and certainly look the part. They also have gun toting humans but they benefit from having the exquisitely formed, more supernatural beings – zombies with twisted, angry features, gorillas with their teeth bared and furry fists curled ready for battle, gas mask wearing heroes with mechanical limbs or a large, two handed circular saw. The mechanical walkers and tanks have a menacing air about them; like they have been built by a machine that is fuelled by something dark and mysterious. My first love in ‘the hobby’ is painting, so these models peaked my interest no end and after looking at both the Allied and Axis armies there was really only one option – it had to be Axis – the options for paint schemes and a few special, bloody final touches was far too tempting to turn down.

The origins of the Axis army can be found in Germany with the backing of German technology and machinery, like the infamous Panser tank and the experiments that created the fearless zombies, a unit that you will find invaluable to your army and most recently, the partially undead – half dead soldiers that have been ressurected, but who maintain the skills of the living. Give the zombie a gun? Don’t mind if I do!

Now, don’t get me wrong – the Axis army are not just aesthetically pleasing or desirable, as I joyfully discovered when I began to play with my zombie heavy side. They really are a force to be reckoned with and there are no current opposing army that have truly significant or reliable defence against Axis zombies and gorillas that are unconcerned about seeking cover, or even not taking a hit or two, as they have the resilience to defend themselves against attack as if they were behind soft cover. Both the zombies and gorillas, especially when teamed up with heroes Totenmeister for the zombies, and Marcus for the gorillas, are specialised in the ‘up close and personal’ kind of attack that suits my personal offensive style of play perfectly. I do like getting my hands dirty as they will merrily take out a whole troop or a walker in one round with barely a scratch, and then will be on the look-out for the next victims for them to sink their teeth into.

For me, having a troop or two of zombies and a troop of gorillas on the front line are a must – they will take out any opposing troop that is trying to get close to you or that are trying to block your way as you breach their defences.

Zombies & Gorillas

Behind these I like to back them up with a little ranged action, with the relatively recent release of Braineater zombies, who are the more successful candidates of Axis experimentation who could be classed as the partially undead. They have the resilience of the normal Axis zombies but have the added bonus of having the brain power to operate guns. These guys have no real need for soft cover as their resilience gives them the same soak damage rolls as soft cover provides so they can happily walk behind your front line providing some ranged cover out in the open.

Zombies...with Guns!

Now, for those of you that are not so offensive in your game play, there are also the human gun toting troops like the laser grenadiers or command squads who can provide you with significant ranged assaults while staying at a comfortable distance away from the front line, enabling you to duck and cover whenever the battle gets a bit too heated.

Axis Soldiers

There are also specialist units that are available, like the Laser-Jagdrenadiere troops who are also damage resistant so they can stay out in the open. They are most effective against mechanical walkers, tanks and planes – these can be very handy to have in the background, especially if you are an up close and personal player who needs a line of defence against the bigger units that your opponent may bring onto the battlefield.

Laser Armed Axis Soldiers

The Axis walkers are very effective for ranged attacks and each walker has different formations that can be used, with correlating cards, so that you can choose your walkers weapon specialisation while you are setting up your army though this is applicable for every faction in Dust Tactics.

Axis Walkers

Axis tanks can carry troops through the battlefield and have a high level of defence. I can definitely see the advantage of the tank, though I do not currently have one of these as it does not suit my style of game play which involves a lot of running!

Axis Panzer Heavy Walker

The latest addition to both the Axis range and to my personal army is the Fledermaus Horton HO-347 plane. This is truly a beautiful model and is definitely something that I would recommend adding to your army, even if you just keep it as an option for larger campaigns as planes ignore all barriers and water areas, as they fly straight over them. They also have a good range on their weapons and are deadly to opposing troops, walkers and planes alike.

Where the game play itself is concerned and if, like me, you are not a big player of war games like Warhammer 40K or big campaign games that can last for several hours, do not be put off by the fact that Dust Tactics is a tactical war styled game. This is a board game that can last anywhere between thirty minutes and two hours – it all depends on what scenario you are playing or if you are playing one of the several campaigns. Either way, I cannot recommend this game enough – I am addicted and rightly so – no two games are the same. There are so many variations you can build your army into that you can change your tactics each game to keep your opponent on their toes; not knowing what you are going to do, or what troop you will bring out next.

Axis Horton Flyer

The rules are relatively simple to learn, and set up is incredibly quick – the time is largely taken by you choosing which troops you want to bring to the battle.

Another great thing about this game, is that you do not need to spend a great deal of money at all to get an effective army that you can play with. The core set includes both an Allies and Axis army that are both great base armies to play with and build on with other troop sets, which are also not very expensive at all. To be honest, I am quite surprised at the low price of all of the Dust Tactics products, considering the high level of quality of both the models and game play.

Another great aspect of this game is that there are many scenarios and different campaign box sets which include new rules, board tiles and models!, So you could play many games of Dust Tactics without playing the same scenario or campaign twice. There is also the option of just having a free play game – where the aim is just to wipe your opponent off of the board, which can also be tremendous fun!

In conclusion; if you are looking for a new game to sink your teeth into, that is easy to play, though provides you with an opportunity to stretch your strategic muscles fully, with the added bonus of having models that are genuinely a joy to paint, then I would highly recommend this game.

Fantasy Flight Games, a trademark that are renown for bringing out great games for all tastes, have truly surpassed themselves with Dust Tactics, and I eagerly await the next instalment from them and Gale Force Nine.

See you on the battlefield!

Jo Norman

If you would like to write an article for Beasts of War then please contact me at ben@beastsofwar.com.