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Mercenary Fields of Glory

It’s very easy to see that miniature games are full of full metal jacked heroes, ready to fight whatever comes next. You can sometimes see a female hero or a squad, but a whole army? That’s a rarity. But a fully armed girl fighting force is possible – like it usually happens in my dream world – world of Dust.

When men go to war it’s usually the women that stay home and wait full of fear. But sometimes it’s the other sex that picks up the gun and fight the enemies of the motherland with no less effectiveness ! And so it is with the mercenary forces of Dust 1947. They can fulfill one of 2 roles: supportive troops that can be used in any army , or a fully fledged faction fighting on it’s own.Let’s have a closer look on this army. Few words of explanation – this article will be dedicated to a full mercenary army, not the effectiveness of their single units that can be joined to different forces.

Let’s start with the models themselves. For infantry most of them are quite fresh, sculpts are 2-3 years old. And you can see the improvement and great quality easily. Crispness of the models is backed up by sensuality. Most of the models are mechanical crews in shorts and tops, but there are some great looking medics and support soldiers too. In this women’s army we also have some females. A big bad gorilla, Tito – reassembling a well known artist Paolo Parente, and a single heavy weapons expert from the new multi-option fight squad.

Also the armored faction of this force is quite original. Mercenary troops do not have access to factories or R&D teams. All their walkers are made from existing parts found on battlefield. Usually they come from different walkers owned by other blocks. No one is surprised seeing a SSU body with Axis weaponry. There is a bit of crazy genus in that – as some old models now come back with new spirit and versions. And also you can easily make some of these combos yourself – if you have the original donors in your tank garage 😉

How to play?

Mercs so far only have 2 platoons, from which I only find one playable, second one being more of a curiosity than real support. So Tanyia’s platoon – lest remind everyone. All units in range 2 of the commanding girl gain the   defensive tactics ability. So when they are in cover they gain additional save in form of damage resilient roll. It’s crucial in my opinion that units don’t have to see Tanyia to gain the advantage – so it will work well in dense smoke screens or forests – where it’s easy to have cover but not LoS.  As a bonus – once per game one unit (but not Tanya) – can force an attacking enemy to re-roll all of it’s attacking dice, and that can be a life saver in narrow situations.

Tactics wise that platoon is both a blessing and a curse. If you keep your forces to cover, use mostly defensive maneuvers using terrain and smoke – mercenary forces become hard to kill. As a result – there is high chance that even poorly armored armor 3 walkers survive direct attacks on 1 or 2 health points remaining. Even better with infantry. Afterwards you just need to remember about healing and repairs. Which is quite easy thanks to numerous mechanic and medic options in mercenary army. And so the army marches on.

And so we got the the biggest drawback of this platoon. Our fighting capabilities are only sustained as long as army works as one big mass, which is usually very slow. It requires iron discipline, and making a habit of checking unit range to Tanya – so maximum number of units gains the bonus. Sadly witch such tactic you can forget lightning strikes against enemy lines, unless the game is at it’s peak and sudden charge can gain you many profits.

Additionaly you need to remember that most merc walkers can be decimated with one or 2 panzerfausts. And mercenary heroes while great are only single models with not many health points. Also the basic assault squad – while very effective – is quite expensive. It’s loss can be a big drawback during battle – especially if there was a hero joined. My field experience shows that biggest mercenary problem is their delicate nature – they are easy to eliminate in open ground. D

What to pick to your force?

Let’s have a look at units that we should consider when making a 100 point list. Of course we start with starter set, which brings Tanya, infantry squad and the obligatory walker – Wrecker. We need these forces to field the mentioned platoon.

Let’s look at armored forces. From vehicles based on tropical KV it’s worth to try the Obliterator, which thanks to damage resilient and ability to pop smoke can survive some pounding. Additionally armament borrowed from German Hans brings quite a punch against enemy forces. The third option from same box –   Demolisher, so Wrecker  with additional recoilless rifle is not impressive in my opinion and we should focus on the previous iterations.  k

Another group of walkers is based on allied M3 chassis. From these a very good companion for you Obliterator will be Pulverizer– it’s not so effective strenght wise but has bigger range (compared to almost none range on Obliterator).  With these units it’s crucial to use our platoon ability – they are very fragile and can be taken out by enemy with ease. Survivability is crucial also for the other option available, our mobile artillery support – Meatgrinder, which can provide smoke cover for our troops and is a walking machine-gun point. Someone would say that the basic infantry mercenary mortar is less expensive. That’s true but I prefer to pay 5 points more for more mobility and firepower. This section is closed by twin armor 4 variants. Decimater is a dedicated AA units which can take care of both enemy air forces and infantry alike. It’s brother  Shredder is in my opinion not good enough for our army. It’s quite expensive and doesn’t generate enough dices in attack runs.

I’m still unsure about the  Pink Flamingo.  In theory it looks great, especially when piloted by Magda – dedicated vehicle pilot.  Attacking with 3 flamethrowers in range 3 or cover in case your walker decided to move. It sounds great isn’t it?  Problem is that in the battles I took Flamingo and Magda with me she usually only makes 2 attacks. Sometimes even after first charge the flame duo went down.  So a great bullet magnet if you need one, but sadly on the expensive side. So needs to be played carefully to be sure it pays for itself.  Only tank available to mercs also didn’t work well for me. The Fire Scarab is a short range unit, but it size makes it very easy to hit – too easy for my taste.

Let’s get back to Flamingo. Together with him we get Magda in the box, a pilot who can also be a great addition leading second Cleaning Team of our brave girls. Not only she brings her health points to the party, but also a machinegun so needed in the close combat squad! From other infantry units it’s always wise to have Justin’screw or two in your force. The new multi option infantry squads also became the backbone of Merc armies all over the world it seems.  I personally suggest getting to boxes so you can combine them into astonishing 7 different versions of the same squad. This universal infantry was much needed – we can either have many weaker and cheaper squads or heavy armored and expensive specialists squads. What’s there not to love?

As for support weapons –  machine gun crews and recoilless guns are only usefull in strict defensive scenarios. Their price looks very good, but are too slow and will keep your army stuck in one place.  I am also not impressed by the “borrowed” rail-gun crew. They can indeed cover the whole board but are way too fragile and require a hero to become an effective army element. Is it worth investing in command squad? With 100 point it’s a viable option – for smaller games I would pass on it.

You cannot take one from our girls – they have absolutely astonishing heroes to choose from. Cheap as hell but very effective and mobile Nathalia can be seen in great deal of armies (2 point is sometime the right filler you needed). Similar to resilient Gregor and medic Emma. I don’t leave my house without them 😉 You also need to remember about Tito who can improve attack or movement of your walkers – moving them from support role to assault leader sometimes. In my personal view Silence and Luisa are the least usefull ones. First one is too weak, second too expensive.

Novelty which i cannot wait for are the scooters. They look like extremely mobile motorized units. Probably will die to a stronger wind from the side – but I hope that their raid ability will make up for it. As soon as they hit the stores I will surely test them.

Finishing my article I wanted to pinpoint that mercenary army is one of the best looking but also hardest to command. It doesn’t forgive mistakes like the Steel Guard o powerful avatars. It doesn’t give you comfort of loosing a squad or two like NDAK or Spetsnaz forces. And in the end it’s not as mobile or aggressive as Luftwaffe. Mercenaries require discipline, considering every move and a bit of luck. If you secure those 3 aspects – I assure you you will get the best looking deadly force on the battlefields of Paolo Parentes Dust 1947.