Konflikt ’47: A Designer’s Commentary

With the release of the Konflikt ’47 Rulebook a few long days away, we thought it might be useful to have author Chris Hale pen some words on the thoughts and aims of the team behind this exciting new gaming direction.

KF47 cover & figure

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Chris: This is the culmination of nearly 2 years of collaboration between Warlord Games and Clockwork Goblin Miniatures, with plenty of hard work and long nights to ensure we were delivering a game that both lived up to the Bolt Action pedigree and added a new wargaming franchise to the Warlord stable of games.

Konflikt ’47 is designed to be a standalone game, not a supplement to Bolt Action, although we were also keen to ensure that the core mechanics were as close as possible, and that units and vehicles could be interchangeable between the two games. This would maximise player’s existing collections and allow lots of variety of forces that would be beyond the scope of the initial rulebook (with a page count limit, it was clear we weren’t going to fit in every nation at launch). Within these parameters, we had some other clear principles:

1. No magic or supernatural stuff. Although often a staple in this genre, we were keen to remove this aspect to allow for a mechanical ‘diesel punk’ feel that promoted strange tech rather than magic. We recognise the popularity of such creatures as werewolves and zombies, but set ourselves the goal of achieving these without recourse to spells or similar.

2. Diesel Punk not Sci-Fi. Another issue we discussed at length and agreed that the ‘look’ of the game should fit the period, regardless of the changes we were making. The added tech would be clunky and in keeping with many of the engineering restrictions and principles of the time. Whether we have stuck to this is subjective, but it remains a principle of our design.

3. New Tech should complement not replace existing tech. This is another hard principle to follow, the temptation to make new tech all-powerful is real, but we wanted to ensure that the game could be played with entirely historical forces at no detriment. The reasoning was twofold, firstly to maximise peoples existing collections, thereby increasing the likelihood of buy-in to the game and secondly to speed up the ability to deliver the game with a vast range of available models from the word go.

With these principles firmly in the back of our heads, we pitched the game to Warlord, who to our excitement gave us a firm Yes, and here we are. So what is different about Konflikt ’47, why not just make new units for Bolt Action? We looked at both options, but whilst Bolt Action is an excellent and fast paced game, its very simplicity started to work against it when introducing new units that were very close quarters focussed. The existing Close Quarters rules just did not have enough depth for manipulation. So we changed them.

Close Quarters

The Close Quarter process remains similar, orders, declarations and defensive fire are all still there (slightly modified – see Reactions below), but the actual assault now contains two steps. Having made contact the combatants can fire with weapons at point blank range, or resort to hand-to-hand combat in a later step. Dependant on the unit they may excel at one or other of these steps, but rarely both, and shooting comes before hand-to-hand. The result is that hand-to-hand monsters will normally have to brave point blank fire before getting their chance, possibly reducing them in number before they attack. It’s a brave unit that charges an un-pinned, unactivated target – as it should be in the real world. Unlike Bolt Action, combat is not automatically fatal for one side, both can potentially retire from the clash, and pin markers aren’t removed in the process, suppressing a target before assaulting it is now a really good idea.

Reactions

The next biggest change was the introduction of Reactions, first seen in Gates of Antares, but modified to fit the Bolt Action core rules. In essence, if a unit has yet to be given an order, it may choose from several reactions in response to a threat. So if shot at it could return fire, if assaulted it could move to cover and so on. This is not automatic and failure to execute the reaction could leave the unit worse off, but the options exist. Ambush and Recce also fall into this revised structure. The reasoning? We were keen to add some tactical depth and decision making, activating a unit gives you the initiative for that moment, but leaving them unactivated gives them flexibility. Whilst this change is not revolutionary it adds more consequence to decisions and we feel it adds to the feeling of being a commander.

New units

Finally we had to fold in the new units we wanted to bring to the game. Konflikt ’47 is an infantry game, but the introduction of heavily armoured squads, fast fighting troops and jump pack infantry all needed to be blended with the existing rules. Hopefully we have achieved this without making the good old basic infantry squad obsolete. Armoured walkers and mechs are not so different to use than vehicles in Bolt Action, they were conceived as urban combatants originally and carry the same armour all around their chassis, no outflanking for better penetration. The trade-off is that their armour is a point lower than the comparable sized tank. At range, early game – advantage tank, late game, in the mix – advantage walker.

Bolt Actioin 2

Does Bolt Action Edition 2 change anything? Not really, Konflikt ’47 is its own game, but recognising the overlap of players, the changes in Bolt Action 2 may add to the quality of the Konflikt game as well. Unavailable to us at time of going to print, a full consideration of the changes will be carried out, it may be that a set of optional changes to Konflikt ’47 are worth producing to ensure the ‘Bolt Action Family’ of rules stay as close to each other as possible.

The Future

There is more, but it’s less obvious, the result is a game that plays as swiftly and as easily as its Bolt Action roots, but may require a little more thought when activating units in order to maintain the initiative. The range of miniatures supporting this game is looking great and there are plenty to come over the next year, hopefully the next step is a look at the Pacific Theatre in more depth as the first full Konflikt supplement……

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