As described in my previous article, the sample Detachments in Xenos are divided into five different genres, the first of which is Weird War Two. Although Xenos is setting-neutral, the sample Detachments assume a scenario in which the Werwolf partisan group, which in reality was a bunch of Nazi holdouts intended to fight a guerrilla war against the invading Allies, was subverted by two rival factions of paranormal researchers within the SS.
The Third Reich burned a lot of books. This Detachment represents the Schülers, who are the Nazis who read the books that really, really should have been burned.
The theme of the force is sorcerous horror and, of course, Nazi Zombies, a concept that disproves the idea that ‘The only good Nazi is a dead Nazi’, because in this case, the dead ones are even worse.
Schüler and Assistants (Light Infantry – Close Quarters Doctrine, Alpha-Class Psychic)
One unit in each Detachment must be designated as the Commander. In this case, it’s quite obviously going to be the officer. This unit is currently a Reduced Model Unit of three models (ignore the stray zombie at the back!), where the Schüler is accompanied by two assistants: a paratrooper with an Iron Cross and a presumably fascinating back-story about how he ended up working with the Schülers, and an apprentice with some sigils drawn in his notebook. Since none of the models are armed with anything larger than an MP-40 submachine gun, I’ve downgraded them with the Close Quarters Doctrine rule. This makes them less effective at shooting at range, but that’s fine, because the main battlefield role of this unit is to cast spells… uh, I mean, psychic powers.
The Psychic Xeno Rule is divided into four levels (Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta). Delta-class psychics know one power that they can use as their action in a turn, Gamma-class know two powers, Beta-class know three and Alpha class… also know three, but cast on a lower activation roll.
In Xenos‘ parent game, Dragon Rampant, the ability to summon units to the battlefield is a separate ability from the Spellcaster rule, and cost quite a few points. This was occasionally controversial, with some players not wanting to sink points for both Summoner and Spellcaster into, for example, a single necromancer unit. For Xenos, I’ve made Summoner a psychic power that can be taken by any unit with the Psychic rule, but it can only summon units with the Special Insertion rule, which helps spread the points around the army a bit. In game, aside from casting whatever other powers he has access to, the Schüler can summon the ‘resuscitated casualty’ units to the battlefield.
As it is a 5 Strength Point unit, I’ll probably eventually add a couple of extra soldiers to bulk it out a bit, possibly women. I’m thinking more Elsa Schneider from Indiana Jones than Helga from ‘Allo ‘Allo, but either will do.
Waffen-SS Squad (Heavy Infantry – Increased Squad Size, Heavy Weapon)
Most World War Two soldiers units would probably be classed as Light Infantry, who are mobile but tend to fall apart under enemy fire. Tougher or more experienced units, such as the US Army Rangers, British Commandos or the German SS, may find Heavy Infantry a better fit. With these guys toting assault rifles and a light machine gun, I’ve also given them the Heavy Weapon upgrade, which (obviously) makes their shooting more effective, and will definitely give them the edge over most Red Army troops. Unfortunately, the Red Army has a lot more bodies to hurl at Werwolf than Werwolf has bullets.
The models are Late War German Grenadiers from Warlord Games.
2 Rescuscitated Casualty Squads (Berserk Infantry – Undead, Special Insertion, Increased Squad Size, Slow)
Inspired by Wolfenstein, Call of Duty and numerous B-movies of varying quality, these are what Overlord described as ‘thousand-year soldiers for a thousand-year Reich’, or SS zombies.
There is a troop type in Xenos called Militia Rabble, who are a trash unit that can’t shoot straight, fall to bits if the enemy breathes on them too hard, and can trade in their guns for a very minor increase in their combat stats. In other words, ideal for representing zombies. However, for this army, I wanted something a little different. Something a little scarier, so I went for one of the best assault units in the game, Berserk Infantry.
Berserk Infantry have the Wild Charge rule, which means they will try to charge anyone within their Movement distance. In this case, the resuscitated casualties have the Slow Xeno Rule, so they have to lurch quite close to the enemy before they get to do that.
The Undead rule means they’ll never become suppressed (i.e. they won’t run away or hide in the way that mortal troops will), but they’ll collapse into inanimate corpses if they take enough penalties to Courage tests.
The chief advantage of these two units though is that they don’t need to be deployed at the start of the game, even if the scenario normally requires that. As mentioned earlier, Psychic units, in this case the Schüler Commander, can use the Summoner power to deploy units with Special Insertion onto the table mid-way through the game. They can also deploy themselves, either because they’re needed too far away for the Schüler to summon them, or if the Schüler is killed or flees the field. This gives the Detachment a degree of tactical flexibility that can prove useful in a tight situation, although it does mean that nearly two thirds of the force’s infantry is not present until late in the game, meaning that those Waffen-SS men will take quite a lot of enemy small arms fire until then.
Although the squads are armed in almost the same way as the living SS troops, their sluggishness means that they’re as bad at shooting as any other Berserk Infantry; they’re for ripping the enemy to bits at close quarters.
The models are from Studio Miniatures, who produce the only plastic World War Two zombies I’ve found, with weapons and some arms from the Warlord Grenadiers set. They’re a tad taller than the Warlord models, but not fatally so. The arms in two-handed rifle poses also needed a bit of filling at the back, but again it was only a minor issue.
Dämonenpanzer (Heavy Vehicle – Demonic, Regeneration, Teleport Jump)
Apologies to any German-speakers out there if that’s incorrect, but this is a possessed Panzer III.
Why a Panzer III when it was pretty much obsolete by 1944-45, when the Schülers were in the ascendant, rather than the more modern Tigers? Because the Schülers had a very low budget, their experiments were at least as unreliable as the alien-loving Handwerkers, and no one in either the SS or the Heer was willing to send any of the more modern tanks away from the front line for some weirdo to start casting spells on.
Also, I wanted a tank with lots of flat surfaces to add candles to.
In game terms, this is a tough, powerful unit, with a few fun special rules added. It’s hard to damage a Heavy Vehicle without relying on dedicated anti-tank weaponry, and even then, seeing it regenerate lost Strength Points is as frustrating for your opponent as it is terrifying for enemy troops. The Teleport Jump is mainly there for the rule of cool, but also has a tactical use when you suddenly move a tank through the enemy’s defensive line to attack their troops from their exposed rear.
Opel Blitz Trucks and Opel Maultier Half-Track
These trucks were painted primarily as objectives in Convoy missions, but they can also be used as Recon Vehicles with the Transport upgrade, allowing for almost the entire army to be mechanised, though I’d probably have to drop the tank in order to keep the Detachment within the points restrictions for vehicles. To fully mechanise the Detachment, I may, at some stage, add a staff car or similar for the Schüler and his squad.