Having just ordered my monthly budget of stuff for Dust Tactics, I thought I might give a few thoughts on list building for the game. Oh, entry cost is much cheaper than for 40k.
"NOTHING" = Don't take the action
"SPECIAL" = Various unit specific actions, from reloading artillery type weapons to having a medic fix troops to calling in or firing an artillery barrage.
"MOVE" = Move the unit's movement rate
"SHOOT" = Fire all weapons at targets in range.
Primarily units will move and shoot with MOVE-MOVE (double movement allowance), MOVE-SHOOT, SHOOT-MOVE, and SHOOT-SHOOT (not two shots, unit gets to reroll misses). Various special abilities can come into play, like Fast (which gives +1 to movement for one MOVE action), Charge (if unit ends up adjacent to an enemy, can get a free SHOOT action with close combat), etc. Having looked at the recent news about the lists deployed at the first world championship at GenCon, where players brought 250 point lists that were cut down to 160 point lists for the various battles.
Having played a few games, I've noticed a few things about tactics that seem to apply:
- Having more units and therefore more "activations" than your opponent gives you an advantage. While you can always attack with your main attack units if you wish, you can also move less critical units to force your opponent to activate units for the turn to give you a "free shot". Say the opponent has one unit you can strike covered by one or more other units that can counterattack and destroy your unit. By using your more numerous troops to force activation of all of his, you can come in, get the shot and if you win initiative manage to pull back or continue attacking.
- While any hero is useful since they confer extra durability and usually a special ability to a squad (and the squad lets the heroes use cover), certain heroes have a "better" or "best" fit for the infantry unit you deploy them with. Sigrid works well with her Laser Grenadiers, although she is actually nice with any other squad she can join. Markus (real smart gorilla) only works well with the Axis Gorillas, to the point where if you are buying Markus, not buying the Gorillas is rather stupid. The Gorillas do extra damage with Markus while Markus uses his hit points to tank for the squad. Also, Markus gives Charge to the Gorillas and the Gorillas give Fast to Markus, making for a unit that can move three spaces and attack. All this is beside the fact that Markus can only command the Gorillas and the Gorillas can only be commanded by Markus.
- Sniper and Observer teams are more durable than other squads while in cover.
- Command squads, while full of nice special rules and tricks also cost as much as the most expensive walker. Right now I don't see a use for them in a list below 200 points, especially since we haven't yet seen a hero with the "Commander" skill who can join a command squad.
From this, I'd say that whenever building a list, look first for "block" units to take up 50-75% of your points. Whether it be some 40 point walkers, a 44 point Markus-Gorillas combo or something else, define your core list elements. Definitely include the maximum number of heroes so that you can have heroes in each main squad if possible. Round out this initial set with basic Recon or Battle/Gunners squads. For the last 25-30% of the points, load up on Snipers and Observers. This gives you lots of activations and units to use to draw enemy units into ambushes. Depending on how many units your and your opponent bring, you could actually set him up, force him to make all his moves, bring the big boys in to blast him and provide cover by more screening small squads.
Yes, this does leave you open to being swept by bigger squads if they can get into your screen, but the point to this list is aggressive patrolling and counter attacking. Move up, set up and control the flow of turns and movement. Remember that although it is nice to survive the entire game, these guys are sacrificial lambs. Three Observer squads are the same cost as a Recon squad and provide about the same amount of firepower (I said "about", you lose the machinegun and gain a couple of rifles).