23 October 2012

Screams of Terror

Guest Writer Jeremiah Terry Previews an Upcoming Tannhäuser Expansion

In July, Fantasy Flight Games announced the upcoming release of the Frankenstahl Single Miniature Pack for Tannhäuser. This horrifying expansion includes one painted figure and accompanying character sheet, a twelve-page rulebook with an all-new scenario, and all the tokens and equipment cards necessary to bring this deadly abomination to your battles.

With the Frankenstahl entering the battle very soon, we’re pleased to present the first of two previews by Tannhäuser enthusiast Jeremiah Terry. Today, Jeremiah explains some of the Frankenstahl’s formidable abilities, as well as how to best use him as part of your Reich forces.

Rage and Agony

Thunderous screams of rage and agony herald the Frankenstahl's entry on to the battlefield. These cries are not the monster’s own, however, muffled as they are by the layers of its sensor helmet. This horrible cacophony of shrieks comes from the mouths of all those who would dare oppose this undead behemoth.

When your opponents first see the Frankenstahl deploy onto the map, they'll no doubt be quite worried. If you play this new Reich monstrosity well, then both you and your opponent will find this new creation most effective. As powerful as this new monster is, don't think you can just storm in and win without careful planning and strategy.

The Frankenstahl is an Epic Hero, and therefore takes up both a hero and trooper slot in your squad, so keep in mind that you'll be playing with one fewer trooper. This means you may have difficulty holding objectives in Domination Mode, but you can use Heïzinger's "Hermetica Occulta” to help compensate for this by maintaining an “occult perimeter” around some of your objectives. This will allow the Frankenstahl to do what he does best: move out into the map, take objectives, and kill enemies. This is an effective strategy in many scenarios, even those that don't resemble Domination Mode. The power of the Frankenstahl will allow him to fight the enemy without much backup, while the rest of the squad focuses on fulfilling their mission.

Combat is where the Frankenstahl really shines, as his Combat pack features not just one or two, but three very powerful weapons (two ranged and one melee). The Frankenstahl’s primary weapon is his "Schokkanone," which "stuns" enemies wounded by it. A stunned enemy will be unable to move during his next activation. This can allow the Frankenstahl to attack and move to a new position in preparation to strike at a new victim in the next turn. This ability to leave an enemy character in the rear without the capability to move is important for the Frankenstahl. He has a low movement value, and being able to move on without fear of a pincer move by his enemies is a powerful tactic.

The Frankenstahl's Combat pack includes a powerful Hydraulic Hammer Hand, a pivoting Schulterkanone, and a perception-enhancing Psynsor Helmet.

The Frankenstahl’s secondary weapon is his "Schulterkanone," which also appears in his Command pack. If the Frankenstahl has not attacked on a turn, then the “Schulterkanone” has the unique ability of allowing the unit to be placed on Overwatch for the cost of a Command Point. This ability makes the Frankenstahl a great choice for capturing Objectives. For example, the Frankenstahl could perform an action to complete an objective, and then spend a single CP to go on Overwatch and keep enemies at bay. The Frankenstahl’s third and final weapon is the "Hydraulic Hammer Hand," a great melee weapon found in both the Combat and Stamina packs for the unit. The H.H.H. will turn any Natural 10s into an Automatic Wounds that cannot be stopped by your target's Shock roll. This strategy could easily eliminate a previously wounded character in a single blow, and makes a great follow up to an attack by Karl Zermann's Doom.

It's More Than a Living Weapon...

The Frankenstahl isn’t just about dealing damage, though. A quick look at the Frankenstahl’s special rules section makes it clear that he has more going for him than just high characteristic values and a fifth health row. The Frankenstahl may give up his activation in order to heal one wound (assuming he ever suffers one!). The "Fiberous Sinews" ability in the Frankenstahl’s Stamina pack allows him to roll an additional die for his Shock roll, and he may roll two additional dice (for a total of six dice) against the automatic successes of a Grenade. He may also use his "Adrenal Vitae" to heal a wound through an action, and token discard. In addition, don't underestimate the power of a Command Point combined with his already high Stamina value. Using a CP to increase the Frankenstahl's Stamina value to an 8 can allow him to literally walk through fire with little worry of taking a wound. This will make the Union's and Matriarchy's incendiary devices highly ineffective.

In the Frankenstahl’s Command pack, you'll find some tokens that will be most useful in scenarios that focus on aspects of Tannhäuser other then combat. These two abilities focus, respectively, on the fear that the Frankenstahl instills in others and the wrath that fills the monster.

The first token, "Abomination," is a powerful "always on" ability, similar to one of Heïzinger's Hermetica. The ability forces enemies that begin their turn on the Frankenstahl's path to engage in a Mental duel just to activate. Should the enemy fail the duel with the monster, they must run in terror. The Reich player then moves the terrified enemies away from the Frankenstahl for their full movement value. If the fleeing enemies cannot make this move, they will suffer a wound. This tactic can be extremely powerful when combined with Heïzinger's Patmos Amulet, as you could virtually move a character any where you want. The best place to move said enemy is either into the arms of a Stosstruppen, or onto the path of a Schocktruppen on Overwatch equipped with "Keep Firing." If positioned properly, a Frankenstahl/Heïzinger team can keep an enemy squad from ever reaching their goals.

Along with the fearsome Schulterkanone, the Command pack features two abilities focused on Frankenstahl's unbridled rage: Abomination and Paroxysm of Wrath.

The second token, "Paroxysm of Wrath," focuses on the rage within the Frankenstahl, allowing him to Counterattack for free if he should suffer a wound from an adjacent enemy. Though this may seem a trivial thing, when this ability is combined with the Schulterkanone, the Frankenstahl can become a wall standing in the enemy’s way, using Overwatch on some turns and making free counterattacks whenever possible.

A Monster as a Teammate

The Frankenstahl must always be on a team with at least one hero with the Obscura Korps affiliation stamp. This means that, in an allied force, you'll only have one team slot available for a Shogunate hero. While this may make you think that the Frankenstahl should not be your first choice for an allied force, keep in mind that having a powerful melee fighter like Itami backing up your Frankenstahl is a good way to make use of the monster’s more unusual Command pack abilities.

The above restriction will most likely lead you to make one Obscura Korps character your go-to teammate for the Frankenstahl. While this setup is not required, it will be a big help in making effective strategies that will become second nature and will be executed without thinking. The way to pick a partner for your Frankenstahl is to think about your play style. If you're a Reich player who enjoys their Out-of-path attacks, then you may want to pair the Frankenstahl with Karl "Ozo" Zermann. Zerman can provide backup from a huge distance without putting himself at risk.

If you prefer the Reich's close combat abilities, you'll find that the Blutstrum's agents Yula or Eva may make good partners for the Frankenstahl. This is an especially good option when using the Frankenstahl’s melee-focused Stamina pack. While using a go-to hero partner for the Frankenstahl may make some of your team building work easier, you'll still have to decide which other hero you'll want to bring on your next mission. You'll also face the tough decision of whether or not to give up your second trooper to field yet another Frankenstahl, which would leave you with only three heroes and no troopers in your team.

That's just some of what this new dread monster can do, and some of the decisions you'll have to wrestle with if you choose to bring this great beast to the battlefield. Keep checking back for more, and look for Frankenstahl to invade store shelves next week!

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