Dust 1947 is the current version of the panzer punk tabletop wargame created by Paolo Parente and Dust Studios. Dust has been through several versions with several different publishing companies. We're going to be looking at the current version, Dust 1947, with the full rulebook published in 2016. This article follows up from our first article, that looked at the 2-player starter set, by looking at 2 different Dust Faction Starters, the IJN, and Mercs.
The 2-player starter set is 2 faction starter sets in a single box, for a great price. The faction starter sets are for players who might want to try a new faction or who don't want to buy 2 factions. The Dust Faction starters still contain everything you need to get playing, including:
- A small force of your chosen faction including unit stat cards
- 1 starter rulebook
- 1 neoprene gaming mats
- 4 terrain tiles, 2 objective tiles, 1 3D tank trap and crate, and a building map overlay
- 12 custom faction dice
All of the Dust faction starters are balanced against each other. They’re not balanced on points, but to begin with, they offer equal games in terms of unit abilities and attacks. Some are easier to use than others, making them seem overpowered, but if you choose a more technical faction, it will be balanced against the others after you learn it. The IJN faction starter is a perfect example of this.
IJN Starter - Shadow of Dead
The IJN Shadow of Death faction starter set includes 1 hero (Wen Gsi Wong), 1 unit (Ninja Infiltration Squad) and 1 vehicle (Tengu Medium walker). The IJN units are fewer points than the Axis and SSU starter forces covered in our 2-player starter article and include 1 less unit, but where the IJN lack in numbers, then make up with deadly efficiency.
Both Wen and the Ninja’s have the Improved Camouflage ability, which means they can’t be targeted if they’re beyond range 2, which if timed correctly, can put them within striking distance before your enemy can even fire a shot. To protect them on the way in, the Tengu is armed with a railgun, which is extremely effective at removing vehicles and 3 machine guns for any troops that get too close. Be careful though, as the Tengu will be a target for everything the enemy has as they won’t be able to target the rest of your force.
Because of these abilities, the IJN is a great beginner faction as they are very forgiving. Dust can be pretty brutal if troops are left out of position and come under accurate fire from your opponent, the ninjas mitigate this with their camouflage, allowing you to make more mistakes than you would with other factions. They do have fewer troops against the other starter sets, so they can be drawn out into the open with good scenery and defensive troop placement from your opponent. The hero and troops are also ineffective against vehicles, so the Tengu is their only chance to remove enemy vehicle threats.
Mercenaries Starter - Taskforce Tanya
The Mercenaries Taskforce Tanya starter set includes 1 hero (Tanya), 1 unit (Sisters of Demolition) and 1 vehicle (Wrecker Walker). As with the IJN starter set, these are fewer points and have 1 less unit than the forces we covered in the 2-player starter set.
Where Taskforce Tanya lack in numbers, they make up with overwhelming firepower. Tanya herself has a very effective machine-gun that’s able to target everything but the most heavily armored vehicles. Even aircraft aren’t safe. She also gains Damage Resilience when in cover, allowing her to negate some damage received. The Sisters of Demolition are armed with a mixture of grenade launchers, flamethrowers and demolition charges. These are effective against troops and even heavily armored vehicles.
The Wrecker is insanely deadly against lightly armored troops, vehicles, and aircraft, and still relatively effective against heavily armored enemies. It is lightly armored itself though, and as with all Taskforce Tanya, if left out in the open, can suffer badly. Their best use is to ensure they use their superior firepower effectively to remove any threats before they have a chance to return fire.
Target selection is important with Taskforce Tanya. Making sure you attack the right enemy with the right weapon. They are fairly forgiving in that you roll a lot of dice in attack, but can suffer if the enemy is allowed to lay down effective fire on them in return.
As mercenaries, they can be included in any Dust force. So if your army is ineffective against a specific troop type, finding the right mercenary unit to fill the gap is an effective tactic.
Playing the Shadow of Death starter against Taskforce Tanya is entirely about positioning and maneuvering, even before any dice are rolled. If units on any side are positioned badly, they are taken out very quickly. Taking out the Tengu early can be devasting for the IJN, and while Taskforce Tanya can ride the loss of the Wrecker, it does allow the Tengu to focus its firepower on the troops. It can be a very interesting game of movement and bluffs, even with such small forces, before the shooting begins.
We're looking forward to expanding beyond both of these factions beyond their starter sets, and seeing what larger forces are capable of.
Have you played any versions of Dust? Which is your favorite faction? Have you played with the IJN or Mercs? How have you found the Dust Faction Starters balance against each other? Let us know in the comments below.
These copies of Shadow of Death and Taskforce Tanya Dust Faction Starters were provided by War Factory.