Saturday, March 25, 2017

Friday Night IRON CROSS: Meeting Engagement!

Dave came over Friday night and we played a "proper" game of IRON CROSS from Great Escape Games.  Some readers might remember I played a smaller, infantry-only game of Iron Cross last week.

Last night's game featured a Soviet infantry company and a platoon of KV-1 tanks in a meeting engagement (we used the "meeting engagement" scenario from the rules) fighting against a reinforced German platoon with a section of Tiger tanks in support!  The stage was set for a great Friday night eastern front battle.  

Dave commanded the Soviets and I ran the Germans. 
 We each placed 2 objectives for a total of 4, which we would have to seize.

The German force.  4 x Infantry Squads, a mortar section, HMG section, sniper team, and command
 We counted our units, built piles of activation tokens (using the Iron Ivan litko discs) and rolled for initiative.  Dave won the initiative and stepped off onto the attack, KV-1s rumbling forward!)

Dave's infantry and armor moving towards the front!
The activation, reaction system took a little bit of getting used to and since we were both far away with plenty of terrain in between our forces, we ended up using most of our command tokens getting into position.  This was quickly becoming a "movement to contact" mission.
Dave found some good positions for his KV-1s and moved them into position to watch over the objectives.  My Tigers rumble into position to contest as well.
Tiger moving into position trading shots with a KV-1!
 The Tiger manages to get a kill on the KV-1!  The one thing I like about the game is that there is a limited number of modifiers, and hits occur on a simple roll of 5+ on 1D10, subject to some modifiers.  David attempts to pre-empt my fire and while his reaction roll is successful, his shot misses.  Onto my shot!

scratch one KV-1 
 At this point David has also been successful at stealing the initiative away (roll of 6 on a reaction roll) and we're figuring out that we need to keep a reserve of command tokens in order to react (more on this later).

 Units can activate multiple times if you want them to, but you have to pay additional command tokens and pass an activation roll.

Note more tanks to the front!  

German infantry getting into position.  Dave's infantry would occupy the woods in the upper right and trade shots  with my infantry.  There is no maximum range in Iron Cross but there is "short range" fire (fire with 2D10)

Forward for the Rodina!!!

Soviet "platoon" sized element.  There are no strict formations in IC and that bothered Dave and I a little bit but we got over it.  

So once you get over the concept of preempting the enemy's fire and the reaction concept, the game starts to move fast.  Very fast!
Note the morale marker on the KV-1.  Since it was a proper "casualty" marker, we left it there next to the burning KV-1.
 One of Dave's turns he decides to shoot at one of my Tigers, feeling optimistic!  :)  The KV-1 already had morale markers and activation markers on it.  First, Dave needed a "6" just to activate it.  He scores a "6."  I laugh nerviously.  Then, Dave needed a "9" or "10" to hit the Tiger.  He rolls a "10."  Then, taking the KV-1's weapon value into account, he needs to roll another "9" or higher to force a KO/Damage roll.  HE GETS IT!  Now all he needs to roll is a 4+ to kill the Tiger.  HE GETS A 6!

  So to recap, David rolled a "6" "10" "9" and "6" sequentially and KO's the Tiger I!  We decide to retire KV-1 #112 and give it some kind of distinctive paint job :)

Burning Tiger

 My forces are starting to spread out and Dave's infantry are hammering away at them causing lots of Morale Markers.  Dave decides to spend a bunch of tokens with the mortar and it pays off as well and Dave eventually kills my force's HMG section with mortars.

KV-1 #112 KO's the tiger with 3 activation markers AND a morale marker!
 We are quickly learning the value of taking company morale checks in order to lose morale markers.

Now into turn 6, both of us realize we have to start making something happen and we're tied at 2 objectives each with a similar amount of KIA squads and vehicles!  Dave burns most of his tokens and passes the initiative.  He BOLOs his reactions and I use the rest of mine taking an infantry squad and literally CHARGING a KV-1 to get into contact.  Since Dave has no more command tokens, he can't react.  I spend a whopping 5 tokens (passing all my subsequent activation rolls) and assault the KV-1 in close combat, literally needing a "10" to penetrate.  My troops attach their mine and I roll a "10" on the D10!  The KV-1 brews up in its damage roll.

NO shortage of excitement in this game, which reminds me of Crossfire but is a little more nuanced.

A HUGE gamble pays off!
 We roll less than 4 on the D6 so the game ends.  If anyone could explain to me how to use Breakpoints I would greatly appreciate it!  The Soviets lost 24 points worth of units (in terms of Breakpoint) and the Germans lost 20.  Now what?

My German reinforcements moving up to the front.  I was going to send these guys off to the right to counter the Russians in the woods.

end game!  Note the Russians moving up to the farm house and the lone Tiger on the objective countering them.

Heroes of the battle!  (along with the KV-1 #112 crew)
 So another couple questions I'd pose - how do you handle Line of Sight in woods?  I cannot remember the rules covering visibility regarding close terrain.  What can be seen and/or shot at?  The rules we played were that, just like in Crossfire, you can be seen/shot at in any area terrain, but terrain block line of sight for units on the OTHER side of the feature.

Next question?  What if a unit has 4 activations and and 2 morale markers?  Do I need to roll a "6" and then a "4" or higher to activate it?  Or do I have to stop if it's impossible to activate it?

The only benefit terrain gives is during the morale marker roll.  It's much harder to acquire morale markers in cover than in the open.

This was a GREAT game and lots of fun.  The system is very novel, and unlike any WW2 game I've since played.  I love the scale how an infantry unit on the table is roughly a squad.  You have flexibility in Iron Cross but you need a plan as you have to spend resources to execute your plan and to react to the enemy.  There is alot of "back and forth" and you aren't just sitting there waiting for the other guy's turn to be over.

The way Armor is handled is great and very easy, which I really liked.  The game was played in a little over 3 hours and that was with plenty of discussion and looking stuff up in the rules, and one of the big benefits?  Not a ton of modifiers.

The game's scale is the same as Crossfire but with less leadership on the table (you only have a single command stand).  Reactions aren't free like in Crossfire but you still have ample opportunities to react if you deploy smartly.

David's infantry preparing to counter attack!  The game ended before they could move in for the kill!

My CROSSFIRE infantry!

Moving through the cornfield

Final dispositions.  Note the burning Tiger and a couple burning KV-1s in the upper left!


  1. Enjoyed, thanks. Breakpoints. Each unit has a breakpoint value as given in the army lists. Add those values to give a total army value. So if your army was just 6 Hetzers ( 6 x 10 ) the break value of the army is 60. The victory conditions of a scenario give the break point, so in the Capture scenario, the attackers break point is half of their army value i.e. our 6 attacking hetzer army would hit the break point at 30 break points.

    See the victory conditions rule on page 27, it explains that as units are eliminated, their individual break points are totalled as the game goes on, once those accumulated break points pass the break level (plus a D6) of the army break level value as stated in the scenario, that force loses.

    1. Thanks, Norm! I guess I didn't see the part in the scenario about the BP. I appreciate the detailed explanation on this. I will look up the BP for our Meeting Engagement and see what the BP was. David reached a 24 by game's end and I was at 20.

  2. Re spotting in woods, the question was asked on their forum and answered by staff, the answer as you have already guessed is interesting loose - here is a link to that bit of Q&E


    1. Okay so if I'm reading that correctly, if they want to shoot out of terrain they have to be on the edge of it and same with spotting. I can live with that. We actually played it like Crossfire, so you could shoot at a unit anywhere within the terrain but the terrain feature blocked LOS to anything on the other side.

      This is a pretty significant oversight I think. Don't get me wrong, I'm really enjoying the rules, but I would have liked the basic LOS issue addressed.

    2. I agree, I have their Sword and Spear rules and they are written much more tightly. For me, Iron Cross is less so. I think your interpretation of seeing everything in the wood but not beyond works better as a general rule, as it covers every woods situation ..... while their rather loose rule does not, something like 'you can see 2" into woods' would have been a more helpful response in that Q&A I think, at least there is then something definitive we can all relate to.

    3. The Sword and Spear rules are ancient? Or ancient up to medieval? Yes these rules have such similarities to Crossfire that we figured we'd apply the Crossfire terrain rule to it regarding area terrain and it worked pretty well.

      I would love to see that from the authors - something a little more definitive.

  3. Re activating units with previous activations AND morale markers .... my take on the rules is that you always combine activations and morale markers into a single sum and then roll. So in your example of a unit with 4 activations AND two morale markers, it would normally need to roll 5+ to get an activation PLUS +2for the morale, so it needs to roll a 7 on a D6, which is impossible, however, it does roll, hoping to get a 6, because a score of 6 will always activate regardless of the number of activations / morale currently accumulated. But if you choose to roll, you still pay one activation marker, so you would need to be pretty desperate to make that roll.

    1. Ahhh a score of 6 always activates regardless of the number of activations that's good to know. That's probably in the rules somewhere.
      That's pretty much how I explained it to Dave - you can do, or at least attempt, anything you want as long as you have the tokens to spend.

      Thank you very much for your explanations. Watch this space for more Iron Cross action.

      And between you and I (and anyone else reading this) I get the impression these rules could easily be used for cold war and modern wargaming as well...

    2. Steve - the pass on a 6 thing is located in the last rule paragraph of page 4.

  4. Great report as always. There are a couple guys locally that play Iron Cross and really love it. I tried it, admittedly only once, and have watched them play it a couple times, but I'm not a big fan.

    The big appeal for me would be the activation system. It's almost perfect if you ask me. However with it comes two things I actively dislike. First is the markers. It didn't seem like a problem at first, but immediately I began to resent having all those token following every model around. I totally get this is a personal thing, but it really tempered my enjoyment. The second thing is how only one element can react to anything. Tank moves into range of ten AT guns? Only one can fire... This being an "issue" is debatable, and what's being simulated can be justified (I did it myself to an onlooker when I tried it the first time) but it doesn't feel good to me. Cross fire does something similar, but even then you're rewarded for preparing crossfires as reaction instead of always only being able to fire with one element.

    Another thing I had a hard time with was how all targets are harder to hit if they moved. However infantry don't receive a penalty to their fire if they move. So infantry is best shimmying back and forth constantly rather than stay still. This sounds like the kind of thing only an ass would pull, but I've even seen it whee one player used it in a somewhat justified way while myself and his opponent were obviously of mind that the game just shouldn't allow it in the first place.

    Also, there's no real "assault" in the game. The game gives you bonuses for being really close to the target, but it doesn't seem designed with close assaults in mind. Especially with tanks. When trying to dig out infantry on an objective, it's far more effective to just send in unsupported tanks and blow the snot out of them until they break, than to send in infantry, even in hard cover.

    Also, I found the dice system used for combat resolution kind of clunky. This ones not a big deal and you get over it after your first game, but it's something I'm always reminded of when I read people describing it or see the QRS.

    Anyway, I apologize, that's my pessimistic, party pooper post of the day. Rant over!!! :)

    1. Oh, and I forgot to mention, the next time I try Iron Cross again, I'm bringing mini poker chips in 2 colors, command and moral. They're relatively small (i wish i could find mini-MINI-poker chips) and their ridges allow them to stack and stay relatively secure when moving them around.

    2. No worries, Brandon I like to hear everyone's thoughts on these gaming shenanigans of mine. Admittedly it took us a few turns to really get the hang of things. I had not thought about what you said with your 10 AT guns example and that will bear some scrutiny. I'll have to put some thought into that one. I thought the idea of being able to pre-empt your opponents fire was pretty cool. That goes even beyond Crossfire in a unit's ability to react (more like Force on Force?)

      Yes other folks were lamenting about lugging all those markers along with you when you move your unit! Personally I like finding creative ways to solve gaming issues like this.

      I think we will give Iron Cross some more goes. All in all, for a meeting engagement scenario, we liked them enough to play them again.

  5. Steve,

    Sorry, last to the party again! But I'm here. Another great fight, love the idea of KVs and Tigers knocking the crap out of each other, and the infantry still able to play their part.

    What I've read elsewhere is matching what I'm reading here: an activation system made of pure gold, with some other mechanisms that need to be cleaned up a bit.

    I really, really want to play these, but it will have to wait. Thanks for posting, and I look forward to hearing more on these.


    1. Hey Jack,
      No worries - yes this was a great fight. I think one of the beautiful things about IC is the fact that everything is so damn simple - like the weasel games - it was pretty dead simple. I like the fact that everything is a 5+ to hit with a very, very limited number of modifiers. I hate computing modifiers in my old age...

      I think we're going to play some bigger battles with armor, artillery, and possibly dug in positions to see how those go.