Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sunday Afternoon CROSSFIRE

I had some unexpected free time on my hands today after a botched weather report led us to furiously clean out our garage yesterday instead of today as we were originally planning.  That led me naturally to the basement where I still had my forces out from the recent Flames of War game.

Wanting to do some more "company level" gaming, I agonized over some rules to try out.  Having messed around a little with "A Sergeant's War" and "Iron Cross" I naturally came back to one of my all-time favorite games: Crossfire.

Same flavor of scenario with the Soviets invading the fatherland.  Both forces are "regular" in this game.  I also wanted to increase the number of tanks on the table to get out of my comfort zone and push these rules a little further.  More on that later.

Soviets advance into Germany!  Again!
 The Soviets had 2 platoons of T-34 tanks on the table.  The Germans have a platoon of Tiger Is and a platoon of Panzer IVHs.  The Soviets have a full company of troops along with a heavy weapons platoon.  The Germans have their HMGs dispersed throughout the force.

 The Soviets push into Germany with a company of tanks and company of infantry together, advancing on a small town on the Polish border.

Armor stops at the edge of a wooded area.  I rolled for bogging down as well in terrain.  A nice touch.
 The Germans wait until the Soviets are extremely close before opening fire.  The Soviets are on a tight clock here and have to capture the village before the initiative clock hits "75."  Each time the initiative switches back to the Soviets, I roll a D6.  Once I get up to "75" the game ends.  It's a nice feature to keep the game rolling along.

The Tigers open up on the T-34s and get a +2 to their penetration.  It's going to be a long day for the Russians!  T-34s start brewing up in the fields as the tanks advance into the Reich.

You can just make out the Tiger in the picture upper left.
 The infantry assault goes in and it's not pretty.  The Germans hold their fire and wait until the Soviet platoon reaches the hill to their front.  I tried out a "reverse slope" defense instead of digging in on the hilltop, I placed the Germans behind the hill with an HMG and the Soviets took a serious beating on that hilltop as they crested it with 3rd platoon losing a bunch of squads in a row to sustained German fire.

Meanwhile first platoon advances and occupies a wooded area in front of the town and draws more German HMG fire.  Luckily this time the Soviets have that advance covered better and return fire with their own HMG.  Smoke would have come in handy here but I forgot about it...Oh well.  Metal soldiers always live to fight another day!

wooded area with 1st Platoon upper left.  You can see the suppressed remnants of 3rd Platoon on the hilltop.  In the woods to their front is a fresh German platoon with heavy weapons in support!
 A massive firefight breaks out on the hill and in the woods as the Germans pour everything they have against the Russians to keep them out of the town.  The Russians seize an opportunity and bring up their HMG section into the woods and amazingly the German fire slackens long enough to allow it with a couple NO FIREs in there.

Their target building is ahead.  When they pivot one direction they take fire from another!  It's mayhem!  Any man who is brave enough to raise his head up is shot by the flying lead.

This HMG would remain pinned for a long time.
 One interesting thing to note here is the amount of rallying that was going on.  I dont think I've ever had so many successful rally rolls in my life playing Crossfire.  There was no time to celebrate getting a SUPPRESSION result since they troops would almost instantly rally it off their next initiative.
This crew would be responsible for many Soviet casualties.  They lived to see the end of the battle as well.
 The Soviets have a change in plan and concentrate all their fire at the small outbuilding in the center between the 2 German platoons.  It works and they KO the squad.  Then the mortars open up and smoke the HMG crew, allowing the Soviets to deal with the threat in the house instead of the house AND the woods.  The advance is successful and they move forward!  Good thing, too because the initiative clock just hit 60!  I can hear the commissar tapping his boot on the floor behind me....

The tricky part about having vehicles was maneuvering them.  Shooting was lots of fun but do you risk not hitting?  I needed to get my armor into position.  I allowed movement groups of vehicles as well.

Tiger I's earning their pay.


The remaining T-34s hug terrain features and dont risk open travel!

Killing the Germans in the outbuilding.  Note the pin and suppressed markers.

Soviets isolate the Germans in the woods and maneuver to take out the German force in the buildings.

A messy and ultimately futile close combat as the Soviets would be wiped out by the German defenders.
This was a tremendously fun and satisfying Crossfire game.  I still continue to learn things each time I play.  In terms of the Armor on the battlefield, very easy to incorporate and lots of fun.  I had no problems with armor slowing the game down.

  I used "some" of the Balagan House Rules for Armor and incorporated some neat tricks to keep things sane since this was a solo game.  I'll explain.  Many of the complaints about CROSSFIRE as a Company level rules set are that the armor rules aren't conducive to playing bigger battles.  I wanted to see for myself so I used the armor rules mostly as-is save for a few exceptions:

I used Steven T's Accuracy modifiers and penetration values, and another rule of his from his North Africa ideas.  I used range for armor.  

Heresy you ask?  Not really.  The range was "2 terrain features."  So armor technically could fire all the way down the board if they had the opportunity (an open fire lane) but with the many fields in play, I felt that the tanks could engage targets up to 2 terrain features out.  This kept the engagements manageable and kept the Armor from causing too much trouble.  The target proximity rules help out here alot too.

I decided not to use Steven's rules for tank shooting (tanks shoot like infantry stands) since this was a solo game and when Dave and I played the game like that, the tanks blasted the hell out of absolutely everything in their way.  Instead I used the armor rules from the book allowing the tanks to move or shoot but allowed tanks to move in movement groups and shoot in firegroups provided they were from the same platoon/company.  The movement rules with terrain helped out alot too (bogging check for terrain).

This gave the armor certain restrictions but at no time did I feel restricted if that makes any sense.  The armor advanced as I felt it would have normally with some tanks falling out of the line (initiative switches from successful defensive fire or bogging down).  Once the tigers started to pick the tanks apart, cohesion broke down and the Soviet tanks hunkered down where they were.  It was pretty neat to see.

Anyways my thoughts on the battle?  The Soviets had a tough job to capture the town.  Probably could have had a better fire support plan and the idea of keeping second platoon out in reserve was a bad idea as there were way too many Germans on the objective for 2 platoons to handle.

All in all a great little game for a Sunday afternoon!


  1. Nice report and comments. Thanks also for including details about rules changes. Hope you play a bit more Crossfire in the near future!


    1. Thank you Aaron. It's probably my favorite WW2 Company-Level game so expect to see more, especially as I continue to build out my own house-rules for fighting. Stay tuned!

  2. Cool fight, Steve, lots of fun!


    1. Jack it was pretty intense especially as Ivan closed on the objective but the Germans had a pretty solid hold on the town the entire fight. Learning how to take down these objectives has been brutal. Luckily our metal Soldiers always come back to fight another day!

  3. I really loving seeing Crossfire on your table so much. My club just isn't into it so we play other things, which is lots of a different kind of fun.

    Do you do anything to mix it up when playing solo games? Any kind of random events or ability for the "auto" force to do something a bit unexpected? There are lots of good ideas out there that keep you guessing and having to react to a change in situation.

    1. Paul,
      That's a great idea actually - integrating some kind of random events to keep the action going. That way I'm not constantly forced to "make the best decision" for the enemy.

      People either really like CF or they really dislike it. My experience has been very positive with the rules and I feel like the action is perfectly representative of the back and forth, constantly changing combat situation on the ground. Rather than try to control every action of every squad, things don't always work out the way I want them to and I have to adjust on the fly.

      I can't think of a better way to articulate or describe the experience of combat than that.

    2. It makes a big difference and keeps you on your toes, thats for sure! I would suggest a table with some broad themes which you would roll on, possibly aligned to the initiative clock, and perhaps with different columns for attacking or defending. Generally, 75% of the time they will keep doing 'the best decision', but then there are other options for taking the initiative or whatever. It will force you on the other side to keep a reserve to be able to react!

    3. It's a great idea and I'm going to put some thought into it over the next few days. Maybe if I'm free I'll play a Crossfire game this coming weekend with some of those ideas.

    4. There are a few great books with ideas that are worth checking out. A classic Featherstone volume of course, and a few more modern ones - all of which give ideas for mixing it up without unbalancing the game.

  4. Very interesting. I had thought about using crossfire with hexes - each hex was effectively a terrain feature, unless open and the hexes could be used to control range for armour. Great report, and I have read the Balagan stuff with great interest too.

    1. That's a neat idea to play with Hexes. It would feel a little more like Squad Leader as well!
      The Balagan stuff is very inspiring. Makes me want to play Crossfire every time I'm over that site.

    2. I'm going to give Norm's rules a go - I think they have a real squad leader feel.

    3. Darren,
      Amazing little rules set. Reading Tigers at Minsk now. It looks REALLY good. Cant wait to play it.

      So many cool mechanisms like time clock, seeing into and out of cover, and the command rules are pure gold. My hat's off to Norm and ill be posting a spot about this when i get a minute in the future.

  5. Great to see some CF love, I wish I got to play it more often.

    1. I love Crossfire. One of the best company level rules out there.