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Death Korps of Krieg

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Krieg Guardsman.jpg
- Death Korps of Krieg -
Homeworld: Krieg
Regiment Name: Death Korps of Krieg
Specialities: Trench & Siege Warfare

The Death Korps of Krieg are Imperial Guard Regiments raised from the world of Krieg. Notoriously grim and fatalistic warriors, they seek to atone for their planet's past rebellion by dying glorious deaths in service to the Imperium. For this purpose, Death Korps regiments routinely request to fight in the galaxy's deadliest warzones, grinding their enemy down through long battles of attrition and siege warfare.[1a]


Krieg was previously a prosperous Hive World of billions located in Segmentum Tempestus, specialising in manufacture and trade and led by a council of Autocrats. However, as time passed, the debauched and decadent Autocrats increasingly became paranoid that an outside threat would take their power away from them, and thus began to fortify their world from outside threats. Eventually, the Autocrats also began to resent the influence of the Administratum on a planet which they considered to be their own. Finally, in 433.M40, the High Autocrat declared himself independent from the Imperium and renounced the Emperor as his divine master. Civil war broke out on Krieg and much of the planet quickly fell to the rebels, except for Hive Ferrograd, which was under the command of the now-infamous Colonel Jurten of the Krieg 83rd Imperial Guard regiment. Under strict orders to not let Krieg fall, but with the knowledge that no fleet on the scale needed to relieve them was available, Jurten decided that Krieg would either belong to the Emperor or to no one. On the day of the Feast of the Emperor's Ascension, Jurten unleashed a counter-attack of atomic cleansing in what became known as "the Purging." For days Krieg was engulfed in a sea of nuclear fire, resulting in a total collapse of its ecosystem and subsequent nuclear winter, but the civil war dragged on. The survivors from the Purging would fight on, forced to exist in underground bunkers or deep in the radioactive chem-wastes, as their descendants do to this day. From the self-annihilation of their homeworld, loyalist troops slowly retook their world inch by inch over the course of 500 years until finally returning to Imperial rule in 949.M40. It would be from this cataclysmic event that the Death Korps were born.[2a]

Notable Campaigns

Recruitment & Training

A Krieg Guardsman

By order of the High Lords of Terra, Krieg's sole purpose is to produce new regiments, and its tithes are the maximum possible for the planet's population, supplying over fifty million men per year.[4] This includes the use of unusual methods such as "Vitae Womb" birthing techniques, a practice seen as dangerous and abhorrent by the Adeptus Mechanicus' Magos Biologis but tolerated by the Departmento Munitorium. The use of a eugenics program to weed out mutants is simply a continuation of policies from the civil war years.[2b]

Recruitment starts almost from birth, and the ability to withstand the hardships of living on an atomic-blasted world is enhanced further with brutal training designed to quickly weed out the weak and unworthy. Mental conditioning is a key part of a Krieg recruit's training, their minds purposefully broken and remade stronger. Absolute faith in the Emperor is installed at an early age, amplifying preexisting cultural norms regarding honour and self-sacrifice to create what the Ecclesiarchy calls a "cult of sacrifice." This mental conditioning also emphasises their role as an element in the greater picture, a pebble in the avalanche which will crush the enemies of the Emperor; as individuals they do not matter, which is why medals and other awards are unheard-of in Krieg regiments, especially since bravery and heroism is to be expected. Rates of injury and fatality during training are high, and as a final test all recruits are forced to endure the surface of Krieg itself, performing manoeuvres and fighting mock battles amidst the nuclear-blasted battlefields that cover their world. Only those who survive this final phase of training become members of the Death Korps.[2b]

The resulting Guardsman is a highly disciplined and self-sufficient soldier, proficient in all basic Imperial Guard weaponry types, with exemplary hand-to-hand skills and expertise in the construction of trench works. Accuracy is desirable but ultimately secondary to the importance of the fire discipline and the ability to maintain continuous fire en masse as part of a larger formation. Unsurprisingly, the Krieg Guardsman is well-versed in hazardous environment survival and exhibits high levels of endurance both mentally and physically. He is also given a numerical designation, such as 769355-637566-Keled or 566-648-87991-72-Draeta, so that his death can be more easily tallied. His near-fanatical devotion to becoming a martyr for the Emperor does lead to a few issues off the battlefield, with a tendency towards insularity and a high degree of fatalism which expresses itself in ways non-Krieg persons can find unsettling, such as refusing to take off his rebreather even when not in combat.[2b][2c]

Compared to other worlds with an aristocratic military tradition, Krieg officers are drawn from the rank and file, achieving promotion through skill, seniority, and in many cases simple survival.[2c] If selected during basic training, potential officers must complete an additional training course, with most of those being selected having already been chosen for Death Rider duty. In the field new officers are promoted from the ranks, typically having served as Watchmasters or within Death Rider squadrons.[3b] Officers right up to the regimental level typically fight on the front lines and equip themselves as such, an expression of the Krieg mentality that all Guardsmen must fight and die for the Emperor. Also in keeping with this mentality, these officers regard their men in the same way other commanders regard ammunition, a mentality which has caused problems in cases where non-Krieg units are placed under the command of Krieg officers.[2c]

Combat Doctrine

The Krieg Front Line

In the Krieg way of warfare, any battle in which their capacity to wage war and willingness to die exceeds that of the enemy's is considered a battle already won - everything else is a matter of time and attrition. This is best exemplified by their famous Siege Regiments, dedicated trench warfare formations operating on the fundamental principle of advancing forward at any cost until the enemy is eradicated. Sustained artillery barrages precede massive infantry attacks, human waves of Guardsmen led by squads of grenadiers, advancing in dispersed formation before closing ranks to unleash disciplined volleys of las-fire and storm the enemy's defensive emplacements. Heavy Weapons Squads are concentrated in separate detachments so that their deployment will not stagger the advance of infantry units, and are used to support and protect their flanks as well as shore up defenses around important strategic locations.[2b][2c] Specialised combat engineer units also assist in undermining the enemy's defenses and conducting subterranean warfare.

Vehicles used by Krieg siege regiments are either purpose-built or heavily modified for use on difficult terrain and prolonged exposure to environmental damage, with relatively light vehicles such as the Chimera replaced in favour of more robust transport. Special cadres of Rough Rider formations known as the Death Riders of Krieg provide the siege regiment with a reconnaissance capability in place of Sentinels and act as quick-response units, useful for exploiting breakthroughs in the enemy's lines and counter-attacking their assaults.[2c] Field artillery and heavy artillery companies feature heavily in siege regiments, the former providing direct support to the infantry while the latter concentrate on tasks such as box barrages, counter-battery, harassing and destructive firing. When operating as part of a larger siege army the regiment's artillery can be further supported by the bombardment korps, large concentrations of artillery to back up the attacking regiment during major offensives.[2d] Tanks in siege regiments are not fielded en masse but partitioned out to support the infantry assault, with individual companies and squadrons attached to infantry platoons to provide physical cover and supporting fire as they cross no man's land. While others regard this as backwards and unsophisticated use of armour, Krieg commanders regard the high loss rate of these vehicles with the same callousness they show toward human casualties.[2e]

Besides these formations, Krieg produces many different types of regiments, including infantry, mechanised infantry and tank regiments, though all types exhibit the Krieg traits of discipline, expertise in trench warfare, and tolerance of both hazardous environments and high attrition rates.[2b] These traits can manifest themselves in unhelpful fashions, though: for example, unless explicitly ordered to do so, a Krieg unit will continue to fight against an overwhelming foe until destroyed, even when retreat would be more tactically sound. The typical Krieg 'zeal' for engaging and destroying the enemy at any cost can sometimes earn short-term victories at the expense of long-term strategic goals, and their unique outlook on life has been known to cause friction between themselves and other non-Krieg units. For this reason Commissars, the only non-Krieg members of a Death Korps regiment, are present less to enforce the law and improve morale than to reign in the excesses of their unit and act as a tactical adviser to its officers, reminding them of the larger strategic picture, as well as providing liaison duties between regimental commands when needed.[2c]


Krieg Guardsman[20]

Death Korps siege regiments follow the same recognizable hierarchical pattern found throughout the Imperial Guard, being composed of companies, platoons and squads, but are skewed towards having larger numbers of soldiers in each unit.[2c]

The typical infantry squad consists of ten Guardsmen, including a Watchmaster who leads them. He is assisted by the senior-most Guardsman, who is entrusted with the squad's Vox-caster, while another soldier is armed with the squad's special weapon. Heavy weapons squads consist of six Guardsmen in three two-man teams, a gunner and loader for each heavy weapon, and are led by a senior Guardsmen appointed by their platoon's commander.[2f] Grenadier squads are also ten-man units, veterans hand-picked by their Watchmasters to serve as heavy infantry. Although technically the same rank as other Guardsmen they are regarded as above them in seniority, and should they survive their stint as shock troops Grenadiers will be returned to the regular infantry as Watchmasters themselves.[2h]

Infantry platoons

A Death Korps infantry platoon consists of six infantry squads led by a Lieutenant and his Command Squad, which in many cases will also contain a single heavy weapon crewed by two of the command squad's members. Separate heavy weapons platoons are also led by a similarly-armed command squad but composed instead of nine heavy weapons squads; these platoons are rarely fielded as a single unit but instead parcelled out as needed, often at the direction of their company's commander. At full strength an infantry company will consist of ten infantry platoons and one heavy weapons platoons, led by a company HQ and include a varying number of Grenadier squads mounted on mechanized transports, for a total of over seven hundred Guardsmen.[2g] The company command squad includes a staff of aides and messengers to advise the Captain along with an Ensign, a junior officer tasked with carrying the company's standard in battle. The position of Ensign is typically short-lived before eventual transfer to a front-line platoon or Death Rider unit.[3a]

Death Korps of Krieg during the Siege of Vraks[3g]

Another unique position at the company level is that of the Quartermaster, a role whose origins lay in the atomic wastelands of Krieg's civil war. Waging a war where the recovery of materiel was of the utmost importance, where battlefield triage a luxury reserved for the more seriously wounded, and a tear in one's environmental seal guaranteeed a slow lingering death, any soldier who could not be readily brought back into the fight, was incapable of returning to a medical station under their own power or otherwise became a 'liability' would be given an honourable field execution known as the 'blessings of the Emperor's Peace.' The job of performing these mercy killings and retrieving the fallen's arms and equipment fell to that of the Quartermaster cadre and has remained so ever since. Chosen during training for their mental aptitude and faith, or having at least survived against the odds on the battlefield, potential Quartermasters are then given additional training in tech-lore, field medicine and indoctrination into the Imperial Cult. They perform emergency battlefield medical services and the deliverance of last rites to injured Guardsmen, as well as the salvaging and redistribution of weapons and equipment, where they are assisted by Servitors. They also assist in evaluating the progress of ongoing battles by monitoring ammunition expenditures, attrition rates, and other information which is then relayed to their superior officers.[2c]


Artillery plays a large role in Death Korps siege regiments as well, which use several different types of artillery companies. Field artillery companies consist of three batteries of four light towable artillery pieces such as Heavy Mortars or Heavy Quad-Launchers and a command squad, each with their own Centaur vehicle. The company headquarters is also mounted on Centaurs, one of which functions as a communications vehicle, and includes an Atlas recovery vehicle. Organic to the company is a supply column of Trojan ammunition carriers.[2i] Artillery companies contain the same command and support elements, but consist of three batteries of three heavier pieces such as Earthshakers or Medusa Siege Guns towed by Trojans,[3c] while heavy artillery companies will use massive self-propelled artillery such as Bombards[3d] Tank companies consist of three squadrons of three tanks each, with the company headquarters consisting of a command tank and Centaur, along with a supply column of Trojans and maintenance and recovery section of Atlas vehicles.[3e] Heavy tank companies consist of only three vehicles, including the command tank.[3f]

Line corps

Above the regiment is the line korps, a grouping of several siege regiments operating on the same front, while several line korps will form a siege army. Some regiments will be formed into assault korps, which have larger numbers of tanks and armoured transports,[2c] while siege armies will have dedicated bombardment korps, concentrations of artillery designed to back up attacking regiments and maintain sustained bombardments over long periods of time.[2d] It is also at this level that staff and other high-ranking officers are seconded from other regiments or the noble classes that provide much of the Imperial Guard's upper echelons; Krieg officers are not generally considered suitable for the more political and diplomatic nature of serving on an army's staff.[3b]

Panzer Divisions

Another super-regimental level organisation is the Division. Each Division consists of two Armoured Regiments with supporting infantry and artillery elements.[10]



A Death Korps tank commander

The heavy greatcoat is the most distinctive part of the Death Korps uniform, a warm and waterproof coat made locally on Krieg of thick cloth in a variety of colours. Double-breasted with brass buttons, the greatcoat itself can provide limited protection, but is further reinforced against biological and chemical agents through a chemical impregnating process which gives it a pungent smell. The soldier's regimental tag is a distinctive colour and shape, such as a red square, which is assigned by high command prior to a campaign and stitched to his greatcoat's collar. Matching trousers are held close to the legs through leg-bindings, while the standard-issue low marching boots use hob-nailed soles for grip and include an anti-vesicant dubbing kit which can be rubbed in to seal against chemical attacks. The standard-issue Mark IX helmet is made of plasteel and constructed to ensure a good fit around the gasmask; ventilation is provided through a top spine, which has its own internal filter to keep out biological and chemical agents. Plasteel shoulder pads are buckled to the greatcoat and embossed with rank insignia in the case of Watchmasters and higher ranks. When worn together with his respirator a Death Korps soldier in full uniform is completely sealed against any contaminated environment.[2a]

In contrast to the typical Death Korps mindset of conformity over individuality, as per Departmento Munitorum regulations officer uniforms must be distinguishable from the rank and file so that they may provide inspiration and authority on the battlefield. They are therefore often tailor-made for the individual and produced from superior-quality material; as many officers will come from Death Rider units they will also incorporate elements of their previous uniform, such as the tall riding boots and breastplate. Officers wear a variation of the Mark IX helmet with distinctive decoration and a red sash for additional battlefield identification purposes.[3b]

Personal Gear

The three-piece respirator unit issued to every Death Korps guardsman is what gives them the ability to operate in any toxic environment. The first piece, a regulator unit, is carried inside a leather satchel buckled to his webbing and is the most complex part of the system. A battery-powered fan draws in air, which is passed through particle filters and air-quality samplers, before being pumped up through an air pipe into the guardsman's gasmask. An exterior display panel provides information on the regulator's functionality and the toxicity of the surrounding air, while the use of a "positive pressure" breathing method means the constant flow of air will prevent toxic particles from entering through any compromised sections. The regulator also includes antidote chemicals which can be introduced into the incoming air and a water supply, supplemented by soluble stimulants and nutrient tablets, connected to the gasmask by a separate pipe. Both air and water pipes are protected by an exterior hose that screws into the gasmask through a brass breather valve, which contains an additional filter and non-return valve. The gasmask itself consists of a bag, a screw attachment for the breather valve and eye-pieces made of a double layer of toughened glass treated with an anti-fogging compound.[2a] Staff officers, who will spend most of their time inside sealed command bunkers, are issued lightweight respirators which lack the large regulator unit and so are useful for only short exposure times.[3b]

Leather webbing with carrying straps and pouches allows the Death Korps infantryman to carry additional gear including maintenance kits, replacement filters, and antidote vials. A leather backpack buckles to the webbing shoulder straps and provides additional carrying capacity, including a bedroll/waterproof shelter-half and dry-tin canister for storing perishables against the environment. A small entrenching tool is also issued to all Krieg guardsmen and worn on the belt, with larger mattocks and shovels provided as needed.[2a] Death Korps officers are issued a small refractor field generator, typically disguised as jewelery or decoration such as a gorget, for their own personal protection.[3b]

Personal & Support Weapons

Every Death Korps infantryman is given the standard-issue Lucius pattern no. 98 Lasgun as their primary weapon. Operating at a higher charger range than other lasguns gives the weapon more punch but drains the powerpack after only twenty-five shots and results in a slower recharge rate. In addition he is also issued as standard one no. 38 Frag Grenade, although more will be provided prior to an attack, as well as Krak Grenades. Finally his Close Combat Weapon is a heavy bladed 45 cm long sword-bayonet, which can be attached to his lasgun's bayonet lug. Bayonet drills are practiced at an early age, and such is their proficiency with the weapon that the bayonet charge remains a preferred tactic among Krieg commanders.[2a] Krieg officers also arm themselves, although for those serving at the regimental level it is more of a matter of protocol and ritual rather than practicality. Often these will be a Laspistol and sabre, holdovers from their time as a Death Rider, while many will choose to carry other weapons as a personal preference.[3b]

Meltaguns are the preferred special weapon used to support Death Korps infantry squads, however they also make use of Flamers, Plasma Guns and Grenade Launchers. Among heavy weapons squads the Heavy Bolter is the preferred weapon but they will also make use of Autocannons, twin-linked Heavy Stubbers, Lascannons and Mortars.[2f][5]


A Krieg Leman Russ Battle Tank in action

During the rebellion on Krieg the increasingly under-equipped militia began to create their own combat vehicles, often variants of civilian vehicles which were heavily modified. This led to the creation of many unique vehicles such the Götterdämmerung, the Blitzen, the Bruennhilde, the Siegfried and the Ragnarok. Since the war's conclusion these vehicles have continued to serve in limited fashion in other conflicts, such as the Baran War.[6]

For the most part Death Korps siege and armoured regiments make use of the Leman Russ Battle Tank and its variants, including the Vanquisher, Exterminator, Executioner, Conqueror, Eradicator, Punisher and Annihilator, with preference towards siege tanks such as the Demolisher and Thunderer. Even the Destroyer is used by Krieg units. These tanks are often heavily modified so as to better survive the toxic, trench-crossed battlefield, typically with Dozer Blades, trench rails, and additional filters to prevent the poisonous atmosphere from affecting the crew or engine[2e]

Siege regiments do not normally use the ubiquitous Chimera for transport, instead preferring the Gorgon to transport infantry across no-man's land when necessary, while command and grenadier squads often use the Centaur.[2c] Hades Breaching Drills are also used to circumvent trench lines. However, other formations such as armoured regiments will employ the Chimera and its variants the Salamander Command and Salamander Scout, along with the Sentinel.[7b] Other vehicles used by Death Korps regiments of all types include the Hydra, Hellhound and Cyclops, while the Atlas and Trojan provide noncombat support. Super-heavy support includes the Malcador and Macharius and their variants, plus the Baneblade, Shadowsword, Stormsword, and Stormblade and the rare Minotaur.[8]

Known Death Korps Regiments

Notable Death Korps Guardsmen


See also