Guard’s army is an interesting pick in world of Dust 1947. Almost an “automatic player”, ideal for new players wanting to check out an easy to play force. But also including one of the best infantry units Dust has to offer. So it’s surely worth a closer look here 🙂
Each wargaming system requires.. certain investment at the start. Let’s don’t look surprised. I know it, your kids know it, your wife/husband knows it best 😉 Of course the best way to go is have a nice, playable set of miniatures – without going full debt on your credit card. It would also help if such a starting force would be also easy to play.. Ladies and gentlemen – raise the curtain – here is the Red Guard! Which will fulfill all of these (well most of them) young general needs!
But why that faction? Without a doubt the point to cost ratio is very good argument. Steel guard forces are quite expensive points wise, allowing you to field a full army with fewer models – making it less of a money pain to start with. Also some of the units can be seen on the battlefield for quite long time, so you friendly duster shouldn’t have a problem borrowing you some of them while you still work on your full collection.
Guard Army has 2 basic branches: super-heavy Steealguard units- slow,expensive but hard to kill and heavily armed. Second option is elite Lighter armed red guard infantry units, also well equiped (and coming with a very powerful platoon too). All these infantry units are supported by 3 dedicated Red Guard walkers.
Steel or wave?
Let’s look at most common ideas for guard armies. First, quite obvious idea is a full steel guard list (or one that is based on them in majority). Of course our main advantage here is drastic denial of attack dice for our enemy (most sub-machine guns won’t even be able to hurt our comrades) and denial of very powerful artillery attacks. Additionally we have 2 platoons available – the less popular that denies the suppression rule for our combatants, and the newer one created for Guai-lo. The latter offers better reactive fire abilities, which can be a blessing when charged by enemy units specialized in close-combat. Flamers and hand to hand combat are things that you should always avoid with steel guard units 😉
All of these great assets are sadly quite expensive. As a result, when playing the classic 100 points you will almost always be outnumbered by the enemy force. So careful planing and making sure that one our units kills at least 3 of the enemy are all rule of thumb. Also watch out for suicidal close combat attacks, even these improvised weapons can make your units bleed! When deciding to play steel guards you need to have nerves of… steel, allow the enemy to move first and await the ideal moment to strike right into heart of their formation.
But what if you are allergic to canned food? Then you need to count on the true-RED guard. And if the anti tank unit never took my heart, there is a special place there for assault unit. Machinegun is always a nice addition, PPSH creates a ton of dices on short ranges and underbarrel grenades work like a charm against RSO and other paper armored units. Also the molotov cocktail boosts up the ability to damage heavy equipment in close combat. Such lighter infantry force we boost with the great Matrioshka, Matrioshka with Koshka, add a Red Fury or other small unit and you are set to go!
The tactic is quite simple, a few (at least four or five units) try to get into firefight with the enmy as soon as possible, and use the “comeback” platoon. As a reminder, that platoon allows your fallen soldiers come back as fresh reinforcements during first 3 turns of the battle. All you need is a bit of luck. Of course this is much simpler on smaller maps, where the opponent cannot “wait over” the platoon advantage. Nobody promised it will always be easy trough! Another problem can be a small versatility of guard units, forcing you to deploy doubles quite often.
I personally prefer to take the middle ground, that’s still based on infantry. You can easily join the steel guard units with their lighter comrades, and use at least 2 platoons in one army. And usually you still have space for some supporting units there. My personal favorites are command vehicle, Emma and a mortar squad – providing the full range of combat aid during battle. The usual 10 activations I can pull out of there is not a lot, but each unit has its place and can contribute to the overall plan of battle.
Biggest advantages of guard army – I mean both normal infantry and the steel guard – are also the biggest drawback. The possibility of “return from the dead” and the heavy armor easily create a myth of invincibility. And a “too sure” general is worse than a scared one. Also the days of panicked eyes on my opponents face, when I used these platoons are long gone. My enemies learned and know the weaknesses of my forces, they know when and where to strike and find the soft parts of my guards way too easy now!
Above statement was confirmed by date from EU Champs in 2019. When guard armies (apart from one exception) took places way lower than i initially expected. In 2018 the situation looked much better, but back then the Guai-Lo platoon was a fresh novelty. And there is a lesson to be learned there – ues, the guard is a great army, especially when you start your adventure. But don’t bulid your battle plan on corpses of your soldiers, enemy mistakes or lucky die rolls. As usuall with Dust the win here needs to be an effect of blood, tears and strategic planning.
And let’s don’t forget we have bright future ahead of us. Soon the steel guard starter box will hit the shelves of our shops. So here’s a little speculation: I don’t have high hopes for the walker, It seems to be lightly modified Babushka, and this army can work miracles even without armor support. But the new (flying it seems) hero with 3 man similar squad looks very promising, and can bring some fresh air to the old guard builds.
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