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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bolt Action - Let's talk Brandenburgers

  For the upcoming Cancon 2015 Bolt Action tournament, I am taking a 1000 point German force.  Included in that force is a small assault squad of Brandenburgers from the new theatre books.  Come with me as I delve into this new unit, their background and how I am planning on using them.

  The Brandenburgers were a unit of German special forces soldiers who trained in unconventional warfare and conducted numerous specialised missions through-out the war.  Their name comes from their training facility in Brandenburg, Germany.  The brainchild of Hauptmann Theodor von Hippel, the unit begun life in 1939 as a part of the Oberkommando des Heeres (German Supreme Command).  It was used primarily as a commando force early in the war, until it was turned over to the Heer in 1944, where it continued to grow until it became a frontline unit in the last stages of the war.

  Their were involved in the invasions of Poland, Denmark, Norway, France, Russia and Crete, and also fought in Finland, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Tunisia and Libya.  Originally, every member of the Brandenburgers had to be fluent in a foreign language and many were of slavic and other ethnic descent.  They spent most of the war on the Eastern front.  This is why my particular unit of Brandenburgers are modeled using a lot of Soviet equipment, including uniforms.  They were expected to infilitrate enemy areas and would often use enemy uniforms and vehicles.  

  One particular band, known as the Wild Bunch, in August of 1941 was tasked with capturing the oil fields at Maikop.  Using Soviet trucks and NKVD uniforms, they infilitrated a Soviet convoy and gained access to Maikop.  Their commander, Adrian von Fölkersam, was even given a tour of the city by the defenders.  As the German army advanced on the city, the Brandenburgers knocked out it's communication center, before Fölkersam begun ordering the defenders to withdraw.  With no way to confirm or deny these orders, the defenders pulled out and Maikop fell without a fight.
  In 1944, it was decided special operations were no longer needed and the Brandenburgers became a Heer unit. 1800 men transferred to Otto Skorzeny's SS-Jagdverbande, who would then go on to be involved in the Ardennes Offensive, where they continued to use unconventional tactics against the Americans.  Meanwhile, the rest of the Brandenburger unit was renamed the Infanterie-Division Brandenburg and equipped as a motorised infantry force before being sent back to the front lines on the East.  Although still considered an elite unit, returning to a front line unit hurt morale and the Brandenburgers spent the rest of the war conducting a fighting withdrawal against the Red Army, through the Baltic States and East Prussia.  The unit was finally destroyed in Pillau and while some survivors managing to surrender to the British, many were able to use their training and simply disappear.

  So now you know a little bit more about who the Brandenburgers are, if you don't own the Battleground Europe or Ostfront books from Osprey/Warlord Games, you may be wondering what they do in Bolt Action.  They are an elite squad of 5-10 veterans available to the German list.  They come with pistols and rifles and can purchase the Fanatics special rule.  They also mess with opponent's reserves, imposing an extra -1 to their reserve rolls, while ignoring the -1 themselves and have a chance to mess up how far on outflankers can come onto the table.  Lastly the give the enemy an extra -2 to FUBAR rolls, insuring friendly fire to be more likely.  They have some 'optional' rules, which allow them to use Allies squads and vehicles.
  I am taking a unit of 5 Brandenburgers to this years Cancon tournament as part of my 1000 point German list.  Utilizing their special rules, I hope to mess with my opponent's ability to bring on reserves and outflank.  Hopefully this will give my Flak 88mm and Nebelwerfer time to rain fire down on the enemy as they come at me piece-meal.  I plan to use the unit itself as an assault unit, capable of exploiting any weak points and have given them Fanatics.  Of the 5 men, 4 have SMGs and 2 of those also have Panzerfausts.  They are mounting in a veteran Horch field car, alongside a 2nd Leutnant.  Sadly the Horch does suffer the -1 to reserve rolls, but the Lt. will counter this.  This means that this little assault unit will be making reserve rolls on 10 or less, and will be a good option to outflank where it can use the field car's speed to strike deep into the enemy's back area.

  One downside to them is they are very expensive.  That 5 man squad is over 100 points and with the Lt. and Horch, they are pushing 200 points.  While they are still very useful, if your enemy doesn't plan on outflanking or if the mission doesn't use reserves, you are effectively paying for very expensive veterans who don't suffer -1 to reserves.
  Mixing in the Soviet SMGs and uniform pieces was great fun and they are definitely a unique looking unit.  I'm super keen to test them out over 5 grueling battles at Cancon and can't wait to see if they live up to all the hype and speculation on how powerful they are.

If you've tried out the new Brandenburgers in your own game or have ideas
 on how to use them to support a list, come to the forums and join the conversation.


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