Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Wow it's been awhile but Crossfire has the familiarity of an old, well worn pair of hiking or running shoes.  I mean that in the best way possible.

This scenario pitted a full strength German infantry Kompanie against a Soviet Infantry Company in terrain that is somewhat reminiscent of the Kursk battlefields.

Good shooting, Ivan!

The Battlefield.  The Germans have to cross their center line and seize 4 Soviet terrain pieces for at least 4 initiatives.  A tough nut to crack!  The Soviets are on all the hilltops in the foreground.
 The German assault starts out disjointed and unfortunately too spread out to make a big difference.  The fight degenerates into small platoon and squad actions without allowing the overall plan to come together.  Speaking of which, the overall plan was for a German platoon in the center to feint and pin the Soviets down while the companies on the flanks raced around and flanked the Soviet positions, making their stand untenable.

Before I started using my markers.  1 bead is PINNED 2 beads are SUPPRESSED.
The defending Soviet squads fought like hell and these Germans would be pinned as soon as they rallied.  
 To be fair, I didn't have nearly as many terrain pieces as I should have.  Probably just enough so LOS didn't extend down the entire table.  This is Kursk, afterall.  Your terrain pieces are standing crops, small copses of trees, a few farm houses, and some hilltop positions.  Since the Soviets are defending and, hey, because it's KURSK, all Soviet units on hills are considered in "protective cover" given the rifle pits they dug over time.


What happens when your defensive fire doesn't score a single hit.  Playing this game today I realized what Arty Conliffe is trying to do.  Every decision should be thought out - should I shoot or should't I?  The ramifications of a NO FIRE at an inopportune time can mean an enemy breakthrough that you can't afford.

THe Germans realize that no single Platoon on its own can over-take the Soviet positions.  So they start to shift, trying to use a platoon as a base of fire (Crossfire) to suppress while another platoon maneuvers.  (Did this commander just graduate from Infanterie Schule or what?)
Private Trotsky's gun
 Amazingly, German reactive fire to the AT gun pivot knocks the entire crew out and they never got a chance to fire.  The Soviets see the Germans trying to move platoons around and move to reinforce their own lines with plenty of reserves!  It's amazing to think that only about 3 or 4 squads have held back and entire infantry company for the first part of the game!

Soviet PL attempting to cross a linear danger area.  Bad news for him and his runner.

Soviets bring up more troops
 The German 3rd Platoon attempts to maneuver against the hilltop position on the Soviet right and meets a sad fate.  One section after another is wiped out by reactive fire, starting with the MG42 HMG section, then more squads - caught in the open trying to move across a drainage culvert or some other open area.  This game is brutal!

3rd Platoon's Day just got alot worse....

Germans attempting to move a platoon back behind cover

Very strong Soviet position with the HMG and an infantry squad.  They would bring pretty effective fire down on the Germans for most of the game.

And the Soviets still have plenty of troops available.

Action heats up as the Soviets sense an opportunity - and then become suppressed in the open!

Germans making use of that 81mm mortar section finally get serious about moving under fire.

The Soviets have carved out a position in the crops on the upper left of the picture and more squads are en-route to reinforce them!
 By now, if you were a pessimist you would be forgiven for thinking the German assault had stalled out.
Things get messy.  1 German platoon is pushed back and a single remaining squad is fighting for its life in the cornfield.  A platoon on their left comes to their aid, and intends to make Ivan pay for each millimeter he moves forward - but since the Germans keep scoring pins, they are able to keep the Russian's heads down. This is gritty combat at its worst!

Finally we get to the matter at hand.  The Germans are able to close with the Russians and after 2 rounds of ties, they win on a third die roll.

The Soviets are watching the combat carefully.  They are from another platoon moving right in behind their comrades.

An 81mm mortar barrage fails to score any hits.  That's OK because another platoon is lined up for a Crossfire!  This finally clears the crops of any Soviet squads, but the German attack has completely ground to a halt at this point.  Not an auspicious beginning for the Kursk offensive!

Smoke is visible through the trees

Meanwhile the rest of the Soviet platoon gathers to assault the German line!

The Germans would pay dearly for those 2 squads in the open like that.

Soviets commit more troops to their left flank, including the HMG.  

OUCH!  4 hits against this squad moving in the open.  They're done.  The German assault peters out...

Boy it's been a long time since I've gotten to play Crossfire.  I have to admit, it's alot more fun with an opponent.  It gets a little tedious by yourself but it's still a very fun and very satisfying (and also very realistic) game.  There were a few times I had to look some things up, but the rules come back to you pretty quick, and true to form, I didn't even need the QRS after the first 25 minutes of playing.

I like the abstraction of time down to "bursts" of action that are most likely occurring simultaneously, but in a sequence on the table.  I found that I rather fixated on one side of the line and would then transition over to other parts of the fight and here is where a play clock would ensure that I was making the best possible use of the initiatives I had.  I squandered them away by shooting constantly which brings me to another point:

Making Good Decisions: In Crossfire, you're rewarded for using your troops and resources wisely.  Hey I'm a former Artilleryman and I love blasting targets to hell, but many times you need to cover your advance with smoke so your troops can get there untouched.

Same with shooting or moving - you learn quickly that when you actually have the initiative, you should conduct actions that are more likely to enable you to KEEP the initiative - so move up your reserve if it's in cover.  Because if you start shooting with your HMG, chances are you might not get a chance to bring them up and then you'll be in real trouble.

Something else I like about Crossfire is that games, just like battle, develop a momentum of their own and something can happen that changes the course of the battle - an untimely NO FIRE on your defending squad can mean an enemy breakthrough and all you can do is watch it happen!

  In this case, a well-placed HMG grouped with a platoon commander and a handful of squads can wreak havoc on the enemy - case in point was this game where 1 Russian platoon was able to hold up a German infantry company for quite a long time.  The way around this?  Fire and maneuver.

The Germans should have used their platoons in conjunction with one another.  The Russians were well placed, but they were also vulnerable to being isolated by fire as the terrain was much more open than Crossfire recommends.

Anyways, a very fun game.  Reminded me of why I liked Crossfire so much in the first place.  An excellent set of rules and just what I was looking for- where a stand equals a squad.  I'm tempted to try this same scenario using Squad Leader in Miniature and see how it turns out.


  1. Thanks for the report! It's been over ten years since I've played Crossfire. It is a superb game for infantry fights in dense terrain.

    1. Thanks Barks - I plan on playing Crossfire more often. It's one of my favorite games and it's a shame I haven't played more of it! I love the "narrative" it produces - they sound like real battle reports.

  2. Nice one Steven. Some great pics mate.

    1. Thanks Paul - this was a good game. I actually didn't mean to take so many pictures, but there were lots of ones I liked! Next step is to add vehicles.

  3. An excellent game. I had completely forgotten about crossfire and must have a look at it again.

    For some reason I was thinking of modern applications as I read your excellent AAR - and how crossfire might work for 'Falklands 82' fights and perhaps even cold war battles; 'Berlin 85' for instance. Also thinking about how an M&M variant - based on firing/casualties through the game turn mechanism, might work for these ...I am hunting for a modern set that allows these battles.

    Will also be trying Panzer Grenadier Deluxe with Steiner on Friday so will have a report on that.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Darren. I am anxious to hear about Panzer Grenadier Deluxe. On Friday I'm supposed to play 3GW with a friend so I'll let you know my thoughts on that game.

      Crossfire is a wonderful and very intense game when played with another human being. Its brilliance lies in its ability to make you really regret bad decisions! Over time, I found as I stepped into the role of the commander, I was doing what I could do to retain the initiative as long as possible. Sometimes you just have to ignore the other things going on around you if you want those reserves to come up.

      By the way, if you search "Crossfire" on my blog, you'll find quite a few modern games played with these excellent rules.

      They work very, very well for modern combat - the only change (and it's a big one) is that your units must become fire teams as opposed to remaining whole squads.

      I gave modern fireteams with SAWS 4 fire dice and HMGs/MMGs would get 5 dice...

      I tweaked the M&M variant for 20th century conflict - the only issue I came up with were some problems with the sequence of play but other than that, I had a working prototype. More to come - watch this space!

      PS If you have Crossfire, I heartily recommend you dust if off and play it sometime, albeit with another human being. Much more fun that way.

  4. Sorry Steve - seems my other comments never got posted. Here goes for third time lucky!

    Crossfire was an innovative system which never got its due IMHO. It is an excellent infantry combat system which really reflects a leader's risk/reward decision making. As such, its quite a different game to play. That plus the elastic timescale, and the point you make above that sometimes you just have to watch the breakthrough happen without being able to react, made it quite a quantum shift for 'traditional gamers'. But for that lower level game I think its great - it fits beautifully between a skirmish game and the medium/company size Battlegroup style game. And with 1 stand = 1 squad all those FoW players should be itching to use the figures that they already have.

    Sadly, I think this game's premature demise was its lack of artillery, heavy support weapons and vehicles/combat vehicles. I was very hopeful with talk a few years ago of Crossfire 2 but that never eventuated. You can only push rifle platoons around for so long before you want/need a bit more.

    I played a great mini-campaign using Crossfire adapted for a 15mm SF setting. Set in a heavily cluttered urban environment it was just excellent. I agree with you - adaptions for moderns using Fireteams instead of squads would be very good. In particular I'm thinking the infantry dominated battles in Vietnam. So I'm looking forward to seeing more from you on that one!

    Thanks for reminding me of another great game I own...sadly it too is in storage approximately 10,000 miles away!

    1. Paul,
      First of all, Happy Belated Birthday!
      Like I said before - I love Crossfire - especially for the narratives it produces during battles. It plays out like a real battle and it used to be one of my favorite games.

      Once playing against a friend I crossed a linear danger area with an entire platoon of veteran SS Germans during a Bulge game - only to watch each squad wiped out one after the other in a really nasty crossfire by US HMGs and infantry in hidden positions. Point is, I've never had so much fun losing a game in my life!

      The Crossfire edition I have has rules for artillery, infantry guns, and for many of the popular WW2 vehicles along with penetration values for their weapons. Some people have bemoaned them for their simplicity but I tend to like the approach Arty Conliffe took in the design.

      I've played it in a modern setting and really think it would work well for late 20th and early 21st century battles.

      I have yet to try a Vietnam era game but trust me when I say that's in the works! I just need to rebase those guys in teams! I'm working on that! Thanks for commenting sir!