Friday, March 17, 2017

Iron Cross Playtest....Finally

Happy to say I finally got around to play testing my copy of "IRON CROSS," the WWII rules set from "Great Escape Games."

I played a small game with 2 Soviet Infantry Platoons trying to capture a hill from a German platoon (should look familiar - it's the same force from last week's Crossfire "debacle."  Well, it was a debacle for Dave and I, anyways!  Ken won both games :)

Soviet forces move out towards the hill!

2 x "Morale Markers" on this squad!  
 Iron Cross is all about managing resources and knowing when to spend command points.  You receive a point for each squad or support section or vehicle in your force along with additional points for command elements.  Just about anything you want to do costs a command point and the trick to gaining the upper hand during a turn seems to be knowing how best to spend those points.  Do you use all of them on an "all out" offensive?  Or do you save them and wait until the enemy's move?

I found that on the defensive, it was almost better to "pass" to the initiative player and use your points in reactive fire.  By the way, the reaction system is a crucial element of Iron Cross.  You roll to react to the enemy's movements, or even try to preempt his fires with your own fire or movement.  It's a slick system, but definitely takes some getting used to.

Admittedly, this game is unlike any WW2 system I've ever played before, but I love the scale.  There aren't enough games where a stand = a single squad.  (the rules, by the way, merely suggest an element is a squad and I get the feeling they can be anything you want them to be).

The activation concept is cool.  Your first activation, without any morale markers or tokens you may freely activate.  If you try to activate again, you have to roll higher than your current number of activation tokens, plus morale markers on a D6.
Soviets fanning out to assault the hill.  Note the reserve squad in the rear.

The game's approach is non-linear but it works.  Fire is handled with 1 or 2 D10's and I have to say that support weapons are elegantly handled.  Mortars FINALLY get the attention they deserve in a table top game as well.

The rules themselves are quite simple and you have to look around for some answers and read the examples but I found that after 3 or 4 turns, most of my questions had been answered and I was playing without even the QRS.

The line of sight rules are VERY loose and some people will not like that very much I imagine but with the freedom it makes the game go much, much faster.

Germans on the hill.  2 squads and the MMG defending.  The mortar section is on the back side.

Based for Crossfire but you get the idea.  German 1st Company 1st Platoon

I used dice to track as command tokens.  So when you spent a command "point" or token, i placed it on a squad.
 There is also a platoon movement feature where you can move 3 squads at once which is convenient but they cannot react or fire.

This German force has been busy!

Battle developing.  I would rather have tokens than dice but you get the idea.

Soviets push up into the orchard on the left and the Germans BOLO their reactive fire rolls.  Ugh!
 Smaller forces are at a disadvantage because they obviously have fewer command tokens to use.

Germans lose the MMG
 Probably should mention here that when you are hit by fire, you accumulate a single morale marker (regardless of the number of hits you took in that volley).  You then have a chance to "convert" the hit(s) into another morale marker.  So you could potentially take 2 morale markers from a single volley.

Soviets massing to take the hill.  Once you are within 12" as infantry, you automatically roll with 2 dice instead of 1.

The Soviets move out to take the hill, but the loss of another German squad sees Gerry throw in the towel.

Note the morale marker casualty figure

Soviet HMG.  Your support weapons are the hammer for your assaults or defenses.  Very important!

I still haven't tried out vehicles yet but I'm very keen to and may give it a go this evening.  I am not quite sure how breakpoint works in the game but I'll figure it out eventually.

I have to say I enjoyed this game very much and will play it again in the future.

And in other news, for my American gaming friends, I may see you at COLD WARS tomorrow.  The SOUND OFFICERS CALL crew will be there most of the day for a special, 1 time appearance!


  1. Thanks for this Steve - very interesting. I would love to see you compare Iron Cross with Cross Fire and Battlegroup, so I can understand where it fits with them and their relative merits

    Enjoy Cold Wars!

    1. Hope you found it useful, Paul. This is a very interesting and easy-to-learn set of rules that would take a few games to master.

      There definitely is not as much detail or texture as Battlegroup, where individual figures fire - this is probably more aligned with Crossfire and I believe is a true "Company" set of rules where you maneuver squads. I can work up a comparison I think.

      Yes, pictures to follow after tomorrow's adventure!

  2. Enjoyed, thanks. I think the rules are very good, though not as well written as their Sword and Spear set. The activation system is a gem, though carrying around an activation marker and a morale marker can be a bit distracting. The armour penetration values and system feel good and I like that everything is in one book and that the rulebook is quite slim.

    There are some examples of play over on the Great Escape Webpage. look forward to your thought on an armour engagement.

    1. Hi Norm,
      I will head over to great escape to see some of the examples of play. I know what you mean about carrying those markers around. It's a little burdensome.

  3. We like the rules a lot. The only part we're not keen on are the mortar rules. Please explain why you like them...maybe we're missing something important.

    1. Hi AJ,
      The mortars got 2d10 regardless of range which i found to be powerful. They just had to stay stationary. I believe they also increase their chances of hitting against stationary targets.

    2. I thought it was 1D10 and they were an 8 to hit on the first go?

    3. Quite right. 8 Or better to hit but if target is stationary you get a plus 1 to hit on subsequent turns/firings. I think i may have been giving the MG stats (2d10) to mortars. The rules do not specify 2d10.

  4. Steve,

    Very interesting, and very cool. I'm a huge fan of the rules, but just from reading, haven't played yet. I love the activation system, but I don't think it's suited to solo play and I don't think my 7-year old gaming partner is ready for something like this yet.


    1. Yep pretty much the whole game i thought it would have been much more exciting with another player there. Might not be for the budding would-be gamer!