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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Konflikt '47 - Things That Go Bump In The Night: A Look At "Supernatural" Units In The German Army List

Things That Go Bump In The Night

The idea that classic monster archetypes freely roam the battlefield is a common feature of the “Weird War Two” genre. Given the horrific nature of total war and the long-speculated fascination that high ranking Nazi’s had with the occult, it is not hard to see why. As a “Weird War” game, Konflikt ’47 does not disappoint. The beasties of our childhood stalk from our imaginations into the Bolt Action universe. In K'47, the existence of these creatures is explained as a result of scientific exploration and experimentation gone mad. That does not change the fact that we, for the first time, can add werewolves, vampires and zombies to our BA armies. It is a great time to play the game!

Of the four major nationalities covered in the Konflikt book, only two nations utilise these genetically modified fiends. Today I will be investigating and discussing the three new “supernatural” creatures introduced in the K’47 German army list.

As we begin, I think it is again important to say that the authors of Konflikt ’47 are quick to point out that these “super soldiers” are not supernatural at all. In the story of the K’47 universe, after the atomic bombing of Dresden in 1944, the Germans discover and partially translate messages transmitted from a “rift” created by the dropping of the bomb. These messages are interpreted by scientists looking for technology to give their forces a needed edge on the battlefield. German leadership encouraged these scientists and researchers to throw caution to the wind in their pursuit of new “wonder weapons” that could be used against Allied troops. One of these new, secret scientific discoveries was in the area of genetic manipulation of human beings leading to the creation of our three new units types: the Totenkorps, the Schreckwulfen and the Nachtjager.

Before getting into the specifics of each unit type, it is important to acknowledge that all three possess a new special rule that really defines them in the game. Horror. This rule represents the effect of being attacked by terrifying mythical (up until recently) monsters. It has three significant effects in the game.

   One - Troops assaulted by horror causing units must make an immediate morale check. Should they fail, the defending unit cannot react to the horrific beasts AND must point blank fire or assault AFTER the horror causers (point blank fire still happens before hand-to-hand phase to be clear). If they pass this check they CAN react but still point blank fire or assault AFTER the horror causers have gone (again the point blank fire part of the assault phase is resolved before the hand-to-hand phase). This is massive in a game where most combats occur simultaneously. This really helps units like the Schreckwulfen and the Nachtjager who tend to be fielded in small quick, elite units that could be decimated early by simultaneous combat.

   Two – Any unit within 6 inches of a Horror causing unit (friend or foe) suffers from a -1 penalty to morale. When linked with my first observation, this means that units testing to react are less likely to successfully do so, again helping the durability of these units. This also means that should the horror causers win combat their victims are more likely to break, run and be destroyed.

   Three – Horrific units are immune to horror. (Am I the only one that immediately though “MONSTER FIGHT!!!” when I read this rule?)

Speaking of durability, all three units also possess the “Tough” special rule. This states that should a model suffer damage, the damage is ignored on an additional die roll of a 5+. This means that these units are able to shrug off one third of the hits that they would normally suffer unless they are hit by weapons that have a damage penetration modifier of +2 or better. Even big scary beasts are taken down if you hit them with a big enough weapon! It is important to remember that “Tough” works in hand-to-hand combat even though the similar rule “Resilience” does not.

The first unit I will be tackling is the classic archetype of the shambling zombie. The Axis animated dead are called Totenkorps and their use supposedly stopped the Allied advance long enough for more advanced German wonder weapons to be brought to bear.

In the game they are 7 points a model and are inexperienced troops. They do not have any ranged weapons or any special melee attacks but they do have the “fanatic” rule and the ability to ignore pins and morale checks. Interestingly, they are also slow and cannot be healed by medic models. You can buy these guys in units of 6 to 24 and given their cheap cost and extreme durability, for their point cost, I would go with a horde of these guys if you are going to take them. Their ability to ignore pins and morale checks means that you have to literally kill these guys to the last man. In assault, the fanatic rule means again… that you have to actually kill all of these guys to get rid of them. They are great for their point cost.

Because they are slow and cannot deal out pins to others means that Totenkorps units should probably be used to get to and park upon easy to reach objectives. Their use as a moving defensive wall is problematic because you cannot shoot through your own troops but enemies can fire through them for only a -1 to hit penalty, though sometimes this is better than nothing. I fully acknowledge that there are more uses for this unit that I have not fully explored yet. That said, I am definitely adding a unit of 24 to my late-war Germans as soon as they are available for sale.

Up next are the rather exciting Schreckwulfen. These genetically altered humans have had their DNA combined with canine stock to create night fighting, giant lightning quick… Werewolves. Awesome!

Unlike the Totenkorps shamblers, the Schreckwulfen are fast. As in, they have the “Fast” special rule. This gives them a basic move rate of 8” and a frighteningly rapid run speed of 16”. They need this speed to get into close combat. They also do not have a ranged weapon; instead, they have the “Tooth and Claw” special rule in assault. This gives them an impressive three attacks per model in hand-to-hand combat. They can also see in the dark and ignore the effects of smoke. Brutal.

These guys are balanced out by their high point cost and their maximum unit size. They come as veterans and cost 20 points a model and you can buy them in units of three to six wolves. Because they come in such limited numbers, German players must be careful when using these specialised troops. Sure they will make a mess most small teams and/or artillery pieces but an infantry unit that has the opportunity to stand and shoot AND fire point blank will pull the teeth out of this unit before it has a chance to swing in combat (even with the tough special rule). German players must ensure that these guys are ideally assaulting previously pinned units that have been whittled down a bit and have already activated. I am sure that not all of these conditions are necessary to ensure a successful Schreckwulfen assault but all three help. Remember that “Horror” makes a huge difference to their assault rules (and helps to cut down on reaction fire if opposing units have not activated).

I like Schreckwulfen a lot. I plan on getting a unit of six as soon as I am humanly able to do so.

That leaves our flying chompy friends, the Nachtjager.

Like the Schreckwulfen, the Natchjager come in small units of two to four. They are 34 points each which makes them almost twice what the wolves cost but they have a few special rules that really make a huge difference to how they work. Like the Wolves, they can see at night and through smoke and they have the “Tooth and Claw” special rule. They do not have “Fast” though; instead they have a special rule called “Flight.” This means that they can advance 12 inches and can ‘run’ 18 inches. When moving this way they can ignore any intervening terrain as long as they do not end their move in impassable terrain. This makes them an incredibly mobile and handy asset to put pressure on your opponent’s forces and to get to those hard to reach objectives.

They also have a special rule called “Strong.” This means that they gain the “Tank Hunter” ability and gain an addition +1 penetration bonus for every hit that they land in hand-to-hand combat with a vehicle.

To be honest, I am not 100% sure about how I will use these soaring terrors… yet. I am thinking that they would be great at zipping up flanks to take out pesky weapons teams and small units or to shred vehicles too pinned or damaged to get away. Like their canine counterparts, I would assume that they need support from other units in to be effective. That said, with support they are nasty at what they do and they are more than capable of wrecking havoc throughout opposing forces.

Like the new weapons introduced in my last article, I would not say that any of these choices are immediately over-powered. Though some of these units are undeniably brutal, they are expensive points wise, and are easily taken out by many of the bigger guns in the game. They are also countered by large infantry squads whose point blank shooting can really ruin a monster’s day/night. Each of these units has their pros, cons and purpose in the game. I look forward to seeing how player list choice evolves as these beasties become a more common sight on the table top.

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