Monday, September 5, 2016

Ponyri Station Water Tower: An Eastern Front Crossfire Game

Ken came over and we played a small, Company sized battle using CROSSFIRE, some of my favorite Company level rules.

This battle was loosely based on the action around the northern portion of Ponyri Station, specifically in and around the water tower area.

Ken is attacking with a full strength German company of 3 platoons, along with a weapons platoon of 2 HMG sections and an 81mm Mortar section.

I am fielding a "Guards" Rifle Company (-) with only 2 platoons, however an 82mm mortar battery in support, as well as an HMG.  Their "Guards" distinction made them "Regulars" in Crossfire speak, so they weren't as worthless as traditional Soviet conscripts in Crossfire.

The map looking from the south.  Water tower is plainly visible.  Ken opted to let the Soviets start with hidden placement!  Germans are coming from your right.
 The Germans placed an MG42 section with 2 platoons and used the mortar in support.

The German approach to the water tower

Ken moved up pretty quick and found out where my HMG was (right at the base of the the objective!  in protective cover, of course!

I placed a rifle platoon along the northern approach - Ken's infantry are about to find them!
 Ken suppressed my rifle squads in the northern tree line and launched an all-out assault with the first platoon!  The "veteran" status, along with the presence of the platoon leader and more squads supporting the fight wipes my Soviets out and steamrolls through the position.

Nice shooting from some organized "crossfires" and "firegroups" enables ken to roll up next to the objective

It's about this time that Ivan realizes he's  in trouble!  Counterattacking the objective is going to be out of the question now that the Germans are keeping us pinned from the front!  
 Ken keeps my occupied with an infantry platoon to my front while his left flanking platoon does all the heavy work slicing through the Soviet positions!  I have a small reserve that is brought up to counter the "blitzkrieg" but it's too little, too late.  I also start finally using that 82mm mortar of mine.

Germans earning their pay.  Right now they're keeping the Russians to their front distracted while their 1st platoon flanks the objective

Ken's plan coming together nicely!  He hasn't met my AT Gun yet!  (which actually never fired throughout the entire game...)
 Ken assaulted the hilltop behind the objective where my reserve was being kept.  My platoon leader was in an isolated position on his own to maintain command/control over everyone.  The Germans mowed him and his radio operator down using an entire platoon Crossfire!  So part of my reserve rifle squad became the Platoon Leader and, just as soon as the new Lieutenant was promoted, he was instantly over run by Germans and dispatched....

Ken didn't hesitate and assaulted the water tower next.  We broke out a red die to track friendly initiatives (rules say hold for 5 friendly initiatives).

The Soviets tried to organize a local counterattack and were pinned in place by heavy machine gun and rifle fire!  They trade shots with the Germans at the water tower but it's too little, too late as a German squad is knocked out, it's still not going to reset the initiative clock!  Gerry's gonna win this one!

mortars and rifle fire thin out the Germans but not enough to drive them off.  A counter attack is beaten back!

German company commander and radio operator spotting for the mortar ALERT HEADQUARTERS - THE WATER TOWER IS OURS.  SEND IN THE PANZERS!

So that was it.  I learned a few lessons.  It's been awhile since I played Crossfire with another human being!  I should have kept the defense more together making it a tougher nut to crack for the Germans.  The 2 rifle squads were isolated and chopped up before their comrades could move in to assist.

Also, it's good to pay attention to other parts of the battlefield as they can impact your sector.  Ken's other platoon effectively held (pinned) my troops in place while his main effort swung around my right and came in practically from behind.

also include your fire support plan into your thoughts.  I didn't use the 82mm mortars until it was much too late!

A great game and I'm thrilled that Tropical Storm Hermine didn't ruin all of my weekend plans....

Some future gaming endeavors coming up?  Well I think October will be a good time to finally re-play Freeman's Farm (Battle of Saratoga).  More Battlegroup: Kursk coming as my GrossDeutschland platoon moves further into the lion's den on D+1 of Kursk,  I'd also like to play Command Colors Napoleonics again sometime soon, in addition to "Hail of Fire" with more of the Ponyri Station scenario.

And of course more CROSSFIRE!


  1. Ohhh, I really like this. I've been reading Crossfire with much interest recently, and there are many modern and Vietnam hacks online.

    Really good report, and it piques my interest once more.

    How do you rate Crossfire gameplay vs FUBAR?

    1. Cheers Darren. Crossfire is one of my all-time FAVORITE rules sets, probably ranked up there with Volley & Bayonet in my humble opinion. Ken and I played a company-on-company battle in an hour and a half! And there was no shortage of shooting, close combats, indirect fires and maneuver.

      You should definitely try it if you haven't yet. A few concepts you have to get used to (like movement, reactions, and keeping the initiative - also rolling for fire happens by unit, not all at once).

      Compared to FUBAR it's apples to oranges - FUBAR uses fixed movement and weapon ranges. Crossfire is at the sharp end of things so all weapons can basically range the whole table. The gameplay is also a little bit smoother with the "initiative" basically lording over what passes as a turn.

      So you hold the initiative (arguably you're the phasing player while you hold the initiative) and you try as best you can to keep it. Failing an action causes you to lose it then you react.

      FUBAR is more like a traditional wargame in my opinion.

  2. ...and I'm kinda concerned at Ken's 'evil' grin... :))

    1. yes that "evil grin" occurred as Ken was slicing his way through my forward positions :) effortlessly I might add!

  3. That is a great game report. I really should have another game of Crossfire, it has been too long since my last one.



    1. Thanks Pete and you definitely need to play a game of crossfire. You regret 100% of the games you dont play :)

  4. A fine account, and it seems to me an instructive one.

    1. Cheers Ion. I learn something new with every game. This was a great refresher.

  5. Very classy post mate. Great pics!

  6. Cool looking fight Steve, and it appears Ken is pretty familiar with Crossfire. No other game allows maneuver and exploitation like Crossfire. It's funny, I wanted to love the rules but couldn't, we were too scared!

    Our games would bog down because we were too timid, too scared to do something that might cause ourselves to lose initiative. To my shame, we gave up on them and went to more conventional rules.


    1. Thanks Jack crossfire is always a blast. I love the ebb and flow of the battle and the change in focus from one corner of the battlefield to another.

      The game is all about keeping the initiative i can see where it would make you hesitant to cross that linear danger area. Ken made sure he didnt cross the road until ivan was suppressed.

      It was a nail biter up until he got in and around the objective. Then it was curtains for ivan...

      I guess 5CoreCC has an element of that cinematic feel where different portions of the field heat up.

      So maybe 5CCC is Crossfire on anti depressants?

  7. It's very refreshing to see a classic infantry action without tanks parked track to track blasting away. Sounds like Jerry kept his attack focused and broke the Soviets where he need to hit them.
    Crossfire sounds tempting, but I don't think I have the bandwith to take on any more WW2 rules. The Lardy stable works for me at the company (IABSM3) and platoon (CoC) levels.
    Thanks for sharing this great game.

    1. Glad you were refreshed to see these classic rules used. A good plan can really pay off in Crossfire as long as you've elements to support the main effort.
      It was a terrific time and I cannot wait to play more!

  8. Great battle report, Steve.
    I have read the Hail of Fire rules but have not tried them. What do you think of them so far?
    Thanks and regards,

    1. Thanks John glad you enjoyed it. I really liked Hail of Fire. Personally I prefer to "bathtub" their scale as if a German platoon = a company and a Soviet company = a battalion but that's my own personal preference. Hail of Fire definitely scratches that itch for getting lots of toys on the table and getting them to play - and there's some great mechanisms for Command and Control in them as well.

      The melee rules I had to read over a few times to get the hang of which is probably the toughest part of the rules to grasp.

      Oh and the author makes himself available pretty quickly to answer any rules issues!

      Long story shorter, I'll definitely play them again.

  9. Great game Steve- clever use of Crossfires and fire groups by Ken, that really makes the difference in this game

    I too loved Crossfire back in the day but lamented that it wasn't a proper 'system' with full combined arms. I was hopeful that the 2nd edition will fill those voids but it wasn't to be so. I see hold out hope though!

    A good system to have solo rules for too, at least for attack/defence scenarios.