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Home Forums The Gaming Room Dust Tactics Battlefield rules (and basic strategy if you want) assistence


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    I have pointed out a couple of errors on The Esoteric Order of Gamers videos. Since the Dust Tactics page doesn’t get input from Battlefront much anymore and it is only a matter of time before it will probably shut down I would like to lend my experience with the game answering rules, and even strategy, questions to the best of my ability. While I would consider myself somewhat of an expert with the rules having played close to 50 games with nearly a dozen different players, I won’t claim to be infallible or even know what the intent of the designer was in some cases. I do hope to be able to do is help other players circumvent the rules my gaming group and I had.

    Note: I want to assure any readers that I don’t mean to be condescending in these rules explanations if that seems to be the tone you read from it. My intent is to be a clear as my ability to write (such as it is) to make sure the read understands what I am trying to explain. I will purposely aim a little lower than what I think some with a familiarity of the game should to include common definitions that the game uses. Also forgive me if I confuse Dust Tactics Battlefield with Dust Warfare from time to time. I play both games, and they have a lot in common with each other including similar key word abilities that aren’t quite the same. Bottom line, please do not think I am being rude.

    Probably the most difficult rule to learn in Dust Tactics Battlefield is Damage Resilient. It seems straight forward and so long as you are dealing with figures that only have one Damage Capacity (read: hit points, wounds, health, etc.). In the case of models with 1 Damage Capacity you basically re-roll any hits. It you roll your Faction Symbol the unit soaks that damage as well.
    Example: The Flak Boys are hit by a bazooka and 2 M1 Rifles from the Death Dealers for a total of 3 hits. The Flak Boys fail their Infantry and/or Cover Save still having 3 hits. Fortunately, Axis Solder 3 units have Damage Resilience giving the Flak Boys one more chance to avoid the damage. Now the M1 Rifles only cause 1 damage per hit, but the Bazooka does 3 damage per hit. However, since the Damage Capacity of each model of the Flak Boys is only 1, the Bazooka is treated as if it only did 1 damage. The Axis player rolls three dice for Damage Resilience (technically one at of time, but in this case it doesn’t matter), and they get 2 Iron Crosses (the Axis Faction Symbol) soaking 2 damage leaving only 1 damage. The Axis player much remove one of the Flak Boys since 1 damage got through their saves and Damage Resilience.

    Where Damage Resilience gets complicated is when you are dealing with models/units that have more than 1 Damage Capacity. In these cases it is important that the attack designates which dice are which attack so they know if the different damaging attacks hit or not. The defending player gets to decide which model the damage is applied (unless the attacker has Sniper).
    Example: The Flak Boys are joined by Lara who has Damage Capacity of 5. The Allies Death Dealers attack Lara and the Flak Boys hitting with 2 rifle shots and 1 bazooka shot. Lara and the Flak Boys fail their Infantry and/or Cover save. They still have Damage Resilience to soak damage. However, the Axis player must choose how to allocate this hits. No matter which unit the rifle shots damage are placed on they cause 1 damage. The Bazooka does 3 damage to Lara since she has 5 Damage Capacity as is not wounded, but would only cause 1 damage (killing the model) if it were placed on one of the Flak Boys. The Axis player decides to put both rifle shots on Lara and the Bazooka shot on one of the Flak Boys. The Axis player rolls 1 die for the Flak Boy being hit by the Bazooka getting an Iron Cross (the Axis Faction Symbol) soaking the damage. The Axis player rolls 2 dice (technically one at a time) for the rifle shots on Lara failing both and lowering her Damage Capacity to 3.

    It gets weirder when a unit with more than one Damage Capacity is it by weapons that cause more damage than they have capacity (though still with in the framework of how the rules work). When a weapon hits a target that causes more damage than the unit has capacity, the excess damage is wasted. This can happen as a unit’s damage capacity is reduce from previous damage as well.
    Example #1: A KV-47 (Vehicle 3 with 4 Damage Capacity and Damage Resilience) is caught out in the open by a Konigsluher which does 2/instant death to Vehicle 3 units. The Konigsluther gets 2 hits. The KV-47 gets no cover save out in the open but has Damage Resilience to soak the damage. Instant Death damage works like any other damage that exceeds the units current Damage Capacity. It rolls a number of dice equal to the targets current Damage Capacity. In the case of the KV-47 it is 4. For the first hit, the SSU player rolls 4 dice getting 1 sickle (the SSU Faction Symbol) so KV-47’s Damage Capacity is reduced to 1. There is still the second hit for the KV-47 to soak, but this time it only has a Damage Capacity of 1. So the SSU player rolls 1 die getting a sickle (the SSU Faction Symbol) soaking the damage of the second hit. The KV-47 got lucky surviving an onslaught that would being down even super heavy armor under the same conditions. However, it now only has 1 Damage Capacity remaining.

    I am sorry that this post was so long, but like I said, I think Damage Capacity is by far the most complicated rule in Dust Tactics Battlefield. I also think once you get your head around how it works in the context of how damage is normally applied it isn’t too bad to remember how it works.


    Here are some of my thoughts on some basic general strategies for Dust Tactics Battlefield:

    List Building:
    Once you past 75 points have a least two Officer units, at least one being a Command Squad. These units are too good to pass up given everything they can do, however; it can be hard to get the full use out of a hero Officer since they may not have a radio (i.e. Soldier 2 Radio Team) and you often want them for their combat ability more than their support ability.

    Worry more about a mixture of single target and infantry template weapons over weapons that can target aircraft. Fortunately, most vehicles fire template weapons when targeting infantry. Having template weapons prevents an opponent from concentrating their forces too much. As for aircraft, make plans to deal with them but realize most units have at least some ability to shoot them.

    Make sure you have a plan to tackle heavy armor (Vehicle 7 (V7)). You don’t necessarily need to be able to destroy a V7 in a single shot, but remember, if you only chip away a couple a points an attack, the opponent’s mechanic and fix it.

    Dust Tactics Battlefield is an infantry game. I believe an all infantry list has a better chance against an all vehicle or mostly vehicle list. Though, done correctly both have a chance at victory. Almost every game I have played it is the infantry that captures the objective for the win. However, this is affected by terrain density as well. More open terrain favors vehicles while dense terrain favors infantry.

    Try to have an even number of units. At least half the Battlefield missions require Reserves or Delayed Reserves for at least one of the players. An even number of units allows an even split of whats on the table and what is in Reserves. At the same time, don’t bend over backwards to have an even number.

    Have a general idea of what units you want on the table and which ones you want in Reserves. If you roll like me, you might not see all of your Reserves until round 3 or 4 when they come in automatically. Games of Dust tactics Battlefield can be over well before that if you don’t have a good mixture of units on the table (I know I have lost a couple of games at the end of Round 2).

    Objective Placement:
    All things the same and taking no other considerations, place your objectives as close to you as the rules allow and far away from each other. You want them close to where your units deploy so they don’t have to move as far to reach them. You want them away from each other so you opponent has to divide their forces to protect them.

    Consider your force and your opponent’s force and terrain placement when determining objectives. If you have range and speed on your opponent, place an objective far away from cover and snipe any unit that tries to protect the objective. Don’t be afraid to screen the objective with you infantry to keep you opponent from being able to contest an objective.

    If you have a Command Squad don’t put them in Reserves. The Command Squad (or Hero Officer you are using as a Command Squad) should be one of the last things you have come onto the table Round 1. This allows you to make a Move (to get on the table) and Officer (or Medic or Mechanic) attempt. This allows you to fix up a badly damaged unit if you can reach them. If nothing else, allow you to reactive a unit to get a little more distance or an extra attack in.

    If you are the player with the few units Round 1, pass your turn to your opponent until you can’t. They can’t shoot what is not on the table. Even after Round 1, consider passing if able if you can gain an advantage with minimal losses.

    Your Command Squad should spend most of the game reactivating (Get Moving You Bunch of Monkeys) units. This should typically be toward the end of the round so your opponent never quite knows what you are going to reactivate. However, don’t pass up a perfect shot if the chance presents itself.

    That is a list of things that I think work for any of the faction in Dust Tactics Battlefield. I will admit some of them are pretty basic and most players naturally know while others might just be my own personal preferences. Still, I feel they can help new players have a least a frame work to start with until they develop what works for them.

    Universal Head

    Clash957, welcome and thank you so much for sharing your experience with this game. It’s a bit of a strange beast, as on the surface it seems very simple but there are obviously some tricky things to grasp. For a start, I’m horrified at how wrong we have got the whole damage allocation thing – oh, and we’ve been stuffing up saves too – but I’m also still confused about it, so I for one am going to pick your brain on that and other topics!

    First, a couple of general questions:

    1. Dust Tactics Battlefield and Dust Warfare: the biggest differences? Your preference? I’d pretty much put Warfare on the ‘don’t bother’ pile, but is it worth going back and playing that more complex set of rules? (And is it worth the obvious potential for confusion with two sets of rules?)

    2. Vehicles seem very squishy in DTB, often going down after one attack, which is a bit of a difference from 1st edition. Why do you think they’ve done this? Is it more realistic?

    Now, on to damage resolution. I always thought you allocated all the hits, and heroes could soak up more damage if you wanted, but maybe that’s an idea left over from 1st edition I got stuck in my brain. Certainly a) we’ve been playing it completely wrongly and b) it is *very* poorly explained in the rulebook. Did you get originally an explanation of all this from the forums?

    The one thing I didn’t understand at all in your example was the ‘instant death’ resolution. In the rules it says that the miniature that was hit with this symbol marks off all the crosses on its damage track (if it has one) and is elminated. That’s it. Nothing about rolling dice equal to its damage capacity. Huh?

    I just checked the Warfare rules again, and maybe some of that game’s concepts are leaking through to the DB rules, where as far as I can see the damage capacity concept isn’t even mentioned? Then again I can’t even see a reference to the ‘instant death’ symbol in DW.

    Confusion! 🙂

    Again, many thanks for signing up and I look forward to lots of DTB discussion!


    1. As for the Dust Warfare vs. Dust Battlefield preference, I personally like Dust Warfare more, but only up Operation: Icarus (the last thing FFG put out) with some exceptions of the stuff in Operation: Achilles. However, I think Operation: Babylon sort of when off the track at least in terms of the Force Org. If you want to give Dust Warfare a try, I would suggest sticking to only the stuff in the Core Rulebook for a start, although; there is nothing too bad in Zverograd, Hades, or Icarus unit wise. I would play a nice 150 point game with no aircraft (which aren’t in the core book) or no vehicle 5 or greater (they are too hard to counter at such a low point game) to see what you think of the core rules. At very least you will experience the genius that is the Battlebuilder.

    My guess is, that you will still prefer Dust Tactics Battlefield even after trying out the Warfare rules. I would hazard to guess Will might like Warfare a little more than but will probably also prefer Battlefield. However, I don’t have much to go on except how I perceive him in the Battle Reports. So, even though I like Warfare over Battlefield, with gaming time being a premium, I think your, ‘don’t bother’ consideration is apt.

    I could go into some of the issues with Dust Warfare, but I think that is long enough for another post I don’t know if I want to write. The TL;DR of it would be unit balance had issues even from the beginning (poor Hermann) that only became worst (mostly post-FFG). I still think their are a lot of good ideas in there and if I had my druthers, I would try to make a pure historical WWII game out of it.

    2. I think the reasons for squishy vehicles was many fold. I think vehicles were done that way to keep the focus on the game being an infantry game without putting a Force Org making players take a minimum number of infantry before they could get the cool toys (which I can appreciate). I also think it was done to make Dust a fast paced game. After all, Dust Battlefield really built on top the board game (I don’t mean that in any disrespect) of Dust Tactics which I am sure wants to keep the play time pretty tight. Making the game bloody also makes it fast.

    I have never played any of the original versions of Dust Tactics so I have no concept of how unit were changed. As difference in the way units handle between Dust Warfare and Dust Battlefield, I think many units were greatly tighten up. I think Battlefield did a great job with lasers, but at the same time, did a horrible job with aircraft.

    It is hard to say if it is more realistic or not. The concept of Dust is elite troops with elite equipment battling it out for precious resources for the future of mankind. It is very easy to say that VK infused weaponry out strips VK infused armor (if they bother adding the mineral to armor at all given how rare it is). Under those conceits they game would be very bloody and the fluff is constantly talking about shortages of resources and even of troops given the prolonged war.

    On Damage Resolution:
    If could be from the previous edition, I know how you were applying damage is how it works in Dust Warfare. However, in Dust Battlefield, when an infantry squad is attacked, the defending player after rolling Saves (if any) gets to decide which models those hits are applied (unless the attacker is a sniper) to until the hit kills them. Fluff wise this is due to every member knowing how to do the job of everyone else. Snipers also disable the weapon, I guess.
    The Damage part of a weapon only matters if the unit has more than 1 Damage Capacity. So when your Death Dealer’s Bazooka hit the Flak Boys you only are concerned with the number hits since all the Flak Boys only have 1 Damage Capacity even though the weapon does 3 damage. The 3 damage only is a concern against heroes (or vehicles/aircraft that have more than 1 Damage Capacity).

    If you search the Dust Forums, this is why SSU players think the Babushka is a terrible unit (they’re not wrong) as its Gatling Guns cause 5/3 damage which no better than a Matrioshka firing at any 5 man squad. If you look through you cards, you see that realistically Soldier 1 are almost always no worse off than Soldier 2s. Sure if they happen to have 2 Damage Capacity they would be, but so far only heroes are multi-Damage Capacity soldiers in Dust.

    I learned about how damage was applied largely from my gaming group. Originally, I was resistant to playing Dust Battlefield as I have already mentioned I like Dust Warfare more. I had played nearly a dozen games before I even bought a rulebook for myself. I will admit, coming from Warfare I found the way damage was applied a little bewildering as someone went to all the trouble figuring out damages against infantry, yet they matter so little of the time.

    Instant Death (the little skull and crossbones damage thingy):
    With the Instant Death (I don’t know what the official name for it is), the way Will used it against you Blackhawk was correct. When an attacking player gets hits with ‘Instant Death’ the defending player must make any save (if allowed) or be instantly destroyed. Unless the defending unit has Damage Resilience. If a unit has Damage Resilience skill and is hit by an attack that would instantly kill it, it rolls a number of dice equal to its current Damage Capacity. Any Faction Symbols the defending player rolls in this case is the Damage Capacity the unit has remaining. It is only if the unit has Damage Resilience that comes up.

    I brought it up because the SSU KV-47 is a Vehicle 3 with Damage Resilience. As you saw, many weapons can instantly kill Vehicle 3 or lower units so this comes up quite a bit. Or at least is does for me since we have like 4 SSU players. The KV-47s can feel like they are more armored than Punishers (a Vehicle 7) if the wrong weapon is used on them. To combat KV-47, you want a weapon with a large number of attack dice that don’t necessarily cause a lot of damage (such as lasers). Because units with Damage Resilience only roll amount of damage up to their current Damage Capacity the rest of the damage is wasted.

    So say a unit with 5 Damage Capacity is hit by a hypothetical weapon that does 1/6 damage six times. The first Damage Resilience roll would be 5 dice (the current Damage Capacity). Say the Damage Capacity unit makes 4 of the five damage. It now has a Damage Capacity of 4 when it rolls the second attack of 4 dice. This time its Damage Resilience prevents 2 damage leaving it with 2 Damage Capacity remaining. Third and Fourth hits are soaked completely. The fifth attack Damage Resilience rolls is made only soaking one leaving 1 remaining Damage Capacity. On the sixth and final hit the defending unit rolls 1 die since it only has one Damage Capacity left which it fails finally destroying the unit. I hope that wasn’t too confusing. I know it took me a long time to understand it an longer to explain to my gaming group what we were doing wrong.

    Damage Capacity is what Dust Warfare calls the health, hit points, or wounds of a unit (the little crosses). I am not sure if that is what Dust Battlefield calls it. If it doesn’t, what I wrote would be super confusing. Anytime I write Damage Capacity what I mean is the amount of damage it would take to destroy the unit at that given moment. Starting or Max Damage Capacity would the level where a unit has no damage on it at all. I hope that clears up the terms I’m using.

    Instant Death (the skull and crossbones thinger) isn’t used in Dust Warfare. I apologize on my imprecise language. Like I said, I’m not much of a writer, less so when talking technically. I hope this helps decode what I am trying to say.

    CK Lai

    And this is one of the reasons why I still prefer playing Dust Tactics (using FFG’s Revised Core Set rules). 😉

    It’s a boardgame, but gives me enough of the flavour of a wargame without the headaches. (And I’ve actually written my own rules to add in stuff like Suppression, etc. that’s simpler than what’s currently out there… but it’s for my own use only).

    Still… all this is good to know… on the off chance I’ll actually want to give Battlefield a try one of these days.

    Universal Head

    Getting you on the Damage Resilience now, I had to read the description of that ability. It says ‘roll 1 die for each point of damage marked off as a result of the hit. Each star rolled cancels 1 point of damage (clearing the mark on the card)’. I see that for the instant death you’d roll the entire target’s damage capacity because you’re marking off all their remaining damage – though it isn’t explained very clearly anywhere in the rules or the FAQ.

    Thanks for clearing that up mate!


    Like I said, I found Damage Resilience to be the most confusing rule of the game. It took me several posts of the Dust forum with their rules moderator to figure it out. I mean once you get how it works in the context of the core mechanics it isn’t too bad, but I don’t know if there is an easy way to explain it. That’s why I included so many examples.

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