During latest championship of southern Poland in Dust 1947 3 players decided to command Imperial Japanese Navy. Each army was built around some of the latest releases, and each was a separate idea, with a different tactical concept in mind. That allowed me to create this article and show you different approaches to Japanese armies for Dust 1947
Not so long-ago life of a IJN general was quite simple. Army was build based on cheap Ninja, added two or three walkers (one Tengu was a must!) and one or two squads of cadets. Spice it up with some Mercs. Gregor and Emma usually, thanks to which IJN got very needed support against light walkers, aircraft and some medical services. Four free points meant you squeezed in a repair crew, and lucky owners of Yukiko from EU Champs used some of their free faction bonus for her. And that was all folks.
The above statement could be seen on the battlefield in reality, when two IJN forces clashed, both perfectly cameoed, behind a cover of thick smoke. In my opinion these were one of the most boring matchups ever. Luckily, second part of last year changed it all. We got our hands-on Ryu walkers, weapon teams with portable railguns, a command squad and three interesting heroes: Akiko, Hitomi and miss general – Fumiko. Additionally, IJN cards were given to: Traitor (previously known as Priest) and Kaori. Optional mercenary support got a strong boost too, and gave us a man we needed but didn’t deserve – ideal hero for our brave walkers – Tito De Marino!
These sets greatly expanded the available strategies, and even created some headaches – you cannot fit all of the new goodies into one list. Let’s get back to topic then and look at some example lists from the mentioned tournament.
First army was classic to its deep core. Tons of ninja, supported by Gregor and Tengu – it meant static defensive warfare, with lookout for brave infantry strikes or a shot from Tengu here and there. To be realistic, using this army you don’t have many other options to play. Keeping your hidden soldiers is important as they are the beef of your force. Small number of walkers won’t allow for brave maneuvers or risky loses. I would like to say it was at least a bit of surprise, but it wasn’t the matchup in the end was a draw, and I luckily won by ONE army kill point
Second force was much more interesting, and the fight much more dynamic. For first time I could see the kamikaze platoon in action. Reminder: any IJN walker can issue a suicidal charge, making a march and then an attack. Price for this combo is one less armor value of the vehicle, until it’s next activation.
So, against my forces two Tengus, Basan and a mix of Ninja and Cadets stood up (supported by traitor). Commanding officer didn’t give me any time to rest. She quickly taken forward positions and moved her armored force in the middle. In an ideal moment two walkers assaulted, and it ended in a shock therapy for me. Flanking maneuvers from Tengu and Basan dealt great losses to my force, and allowed my opponent to win by kill points.
I must admit that this platoon did surprisingly well, it can create a lot of interesting combinations in the future tournaments, especially if the Tito can put his hands on the walkers. Charging and more powerful Basan? Sounds very good! You should also notice one thing, there is no limit of usage for this ability. So, you can perform this trick every round, of course if your walkers can survive enemy counterattack.
So, what was the third, my army? Basis was the cadet support platoon. I used two kill squads Basan & Enenra. The basic buff is the expert on all weapons for Cadets that stand next to one of platoon walkers. Second treat is the ability to fix the mentioned walkers, that allows you to save some precious army points on repair crews. I also managed to fit in the basic ninja platoon, that allowed me to take the objectives more easily. Rest of the army is great Hitomi, Traitor, Emma, Tito and commander, Fumiko.
Basic of my assaults was well planned walkers’ movement, covered by cadets who changed into short range killing machines. Fumiko guaranteed a stable supply of pass tokens, that allowed for some free reign over battlefield moment. Simple? You bet, but as usual no plan survives contact with enemy force.
During my first game, against a full mercenary force, tactical plan was fully realized. Even when I managed to lose Tengu on turn too… That drawback didn’t stop my cadets force to be ultra-effective, shooting and cutting in all directions. Best example is the defeat of famous Gregor in one attack – 11 expert katanas (including Hitomi) turned out to be wildly effective. Next games weren’t that legendary, although in both cases these was a fact due to very well commanded enemy force. Overall, I found the cadets platoon as strong as kamikaze, and choosing between one of them will be tough in the future.
Apart one game also Fumiko did a good job. Two or three (depending if she moved) dices for reactivation were usually enough, you just needed to keep her nearby own units. Additional passes? Great thing, especially in rounds second and third where they are mostly needed. There are still many enemy units on the board then, and eliminating the most important ones can mean the defeat or a win in a game.
Overall, it’s worth noticing, that all three IJN players choose Hitomi, which won’t probably ever leave their lists. For 4 points we get too good of a hero to pass it up. Also, all three commanders decided to rely on spy, which as usual was quite random. Akiko on the other hand was part of only one army. She can make quite an impact on the game; problem is it’s hard to fit her next to two expensive walkers and Fumiko
Who was missed the most? For sure the IJN command squad. Only one commander decided to use a command squad, and – naturally – it was a mercenary version. I can understand that decision, I find the designated command squad to be a bit too expensive and hard to fir. Also, railgun teams were not here. I have a problem with that unit – on one side it’s great and very powerful – on the other I can fit 2 squads of Ninja in its place. And then if you think about having Fumiko and 3 walkers… Points get tight!
Tournament was also a good occasion to discuss upcoming news for IJN. We all especially look for the assault ninja team and the new hero, which will allow you to form the missing platoon. It’s ability to march without losing the camouflage sounds more than interesting. It will surely increase the already impressing amount of tactical options for the IJN commanders.
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