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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Konflikt '47 - An Examination Of New Weapons That K'47 Brings To The Battlefield

One of the most exciting parts of devouring new game expansions for me has always been diving into new weapon systems or equipment that change the rules of the game. These new items broaden the horizons of possibilities in the game, for better or worse, and always refresh the viability of older units and options as new combinations of gear come into existence.

While Konflikt ’47 is not technically an expansion to Bolt Action perse, it kind of is. Because it is built on the version one rule set of BA and because units of BA immediately slot comfortably into the K’47 game and universe, it is hard not to consider new weaponry within its pages as a expansion on how armies in the game play. Today, I will be looking at the three new tank mounted weapon systems that K’47 introduces to game.
The first of our new ‘wonder weapons’ that we will be looking at today is the Tesla Cannon. Available to Allied forces, it is a giant, tank mounted, electrical gun that fires arcs of lightning at the enemy. Rules wise, when fired at vehicles it has an impressive +7 penetration bonus (the same as a super-heavy anti-tank gun) but wait, there is more. If it is fired at an artillery piece or at infantry the electricity dissipates so its penetration value drops to +1. This dissipation causes the energy to arc, hitting multiple members of the unit. Think the end of Raiders Of The Lost Arc here for a mental picture. Game-wise this means that D6+1 models are hit at +1 penetration. This differs from HE in that, if you roll more hits than there are models in the unit, the remaining hits are ignored.

U.S. players can replace the turret weapons on a Sherman tank and British players can replace Cromwell turret weapons with a Tesla Cannon. Both of these replacements actually make the T variants of these tanks cheaper than their normal counterparts. Why wouldn’t you jump at the chance to up gun your armoured beasties with lightning cannons? Well, for a start you loose the co-axial MMG that both tanks normally have. Given the Tesla’s anti-personal capabilities, this does not bother me at all though. The other big reason to stay with the tried and true original version of these tanks is a much bigger deal. Range. Tesla cannons have a maximum range of 36 inches, which is significantly less than the range of medium and heavy anti-tank guns. If you, like me, tend to ram armoured vehicles down your opponent’s throats as a distraction from your real plan, the Tesla tanks are probably for you. If you like to snipe folks at range… they probably are not.

On an interesting note, if K’47 is updated with a bridging PDF when Bolt Action Version 2 drops that brings templates to the game, the viability of this weapon will only increase, as it will be one of the only HE dice weapons left in the game. I like the Tesla Cannon, a lot. I have already painted up a M4A9 Sherman T for my Winter American forces and I am looking forward to getting some more games in with it as soon as possible.

Next up we have the new German Schwerefeld Projektor. This is essentially a gravity manipulation cannon that can be used to crush targets under their own weight. Game-wise this gun fires twice a turn at a range of 48 inches. It has a penetration value of +4, which given its range and stats makes it akin to cross between a light anti-tank gun and a light automatic cannon. What makes it special is its special rule. Gravity Pulse gives the weapon a +1 penetration bonus when rolling to damage armoured vehicles with a damage value of 8 or 9. It also gives the weapon a +2 bonus when fired at targets with a damage value of 10 or greater.

Like the Tesla Cannon, the gravity cannon only comes mounted on a tank chassis. In this case, the Panzer IV. Also like its Allied counterpart, this huge weapon replaces the main gun and co-axial MMG normally found in a Panzer IV’s turret. This replacement of weaponry costs roughly the same, points wise, depending on the level of experience.

Units hit by the Projektor also cannot run in the following turn. This is a handy ability when stopping that pesky vehicle from reaching the objective in demolition or when slowing down vehicles so they are easier to assault. Tasty when combined with the Nachtjager for example. Another great use for this weapon is to stop opposing units from assaulting (since that requires a "run" order). Fantastic!

Given the weapon’s multiple shots and up-scaling penetration value, I can definitely see its uses in a force where you expect your opponent to be fielding multiple armoured vehicles. Plus its ability to block run and stop beater assault units from attacking is huge. I look forward to the release of this kit so I can actually try it out on the tabletop, plus like the Tesla Cannon, the Schwerefeld Projektor just looks cool!

The third and last of the new big weapons introduced in Konflikt ’47 is the Soviet Zvukovoy Proyektor. Fluff wise this is my favourite of the science-gone-mad wonder weapons. The Proyektor is a massive sonic cannon that sends out a massive short-range pulse of sound that smashes everything in its path. Brutal.

Rules-wise, I have to admit… I was initially sceptical of this weapon’s viability but, the more I think about it while listing… The more I like it.

In the game it has a very short range of 24 inches. Not amazing but it fits the fluff. Units hit by this weapon suffer from the Shockwave special rule. Unlike any other weapon in Bolt Action, when you fire the Proyektor, you measure a straight line form the barrel of the gun. Any unit under this line is hit on a 4+ and suffers D3 pins. Infantry and artillery units hit suffer an additional D3 hits with a penetration bonus of +1. Vehicles hit automatically suffer the ‘crew stunned” damage result.

Like a multi-launcher, this is a weapon that clearly gets better the more units you have the opportunity to hit. In addition, I missed two nice bonuses when I first read the weapon’s rules that make a huge difference to its effectiveness. First of all, the vehicle does not suffer pin or movement penalties to hit with this weapon. This means that if you play aggressively with tanks mounting this cannon, which you really want to do to maximum shots, you will always hit on a 4+. Getting loaded up with pins will not matter, though you might need to invest in a 1st lieutenant babysitter to ensure the tank gets to activate. Not many weapons in the game can claim that.

My second realisation was that line of sight to the target and cover bonuses don’t matter. You can fire the Proyektor at units partially or completely hidden behind hills, buildings or other obstacles and still hit them on a 4+. Again, no other weapon in the game does this, though I would not be surprised if this was FAQ’ed later to say that you need to be able to see a unit to fire at it. 

This weapon can be mounted on a T-34 hull or a KV-1 hull. I initially thought the medium tank hull was a better carrier of this gun (it is more economical points wise). My opinion has changed though as I have considered the weapon’s roll in an army. You either want to jam it into your opponent’s forces, sit it in a place where you know your opponent needs to come, or have it come in to ruin a defensive firebase. The toughness of the KV-1 hull seems to lend itself better to these roles. It would also be advisable to partner this vehicle up with another hitty unit.  The Proyektor does not kill units. It primarily spreads pins around. You will need additional units to finish the job or to at least bury target units in pins to make them inactive or force them to waste a turn rallying.

Though I am not entirely, initially sold on any of the new guns, I think that is a good thing. Though all are cheaper than their conventional counterparts, they are all good for different reasons. These weapons are new tools to meet specific tactical needs and situations. Not one of these weapons immediately jump out as “over-the-top” or “over-powered.” I think that speaks volumes about their balance. It will be interesting to see how the “meta” shifts as lists change to take advantage of the benefits that these weapons bring to the table top.

Until next time,
Old Man Morin

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