Sunday, June 23, 2019

IRON CROSS: Eastern Front Capture Mission

Ken and I originally planned on playing Seven Days to the River Rhine on Saturday but instead chose to play another game of IRON CROSS since everything was set up.  Again, we used Ken's magnificent 20mm kit on his 6 x 8 table.

Panzer IV in his hide site, overlooking the river crossing.

We played the same mission from last game, the "Capture" mission.  This time, however, the battle took place on the Eastern Front.  Ken took the Soviets and I played the dastardly Germans.  Point differences were roughly 800 to 400 in favor of the attacking Soviets.  I did get hidden units, though.

My force was a platoon of 4 x rifle sections, 4 x machine gun teams, and a Panzer platoon of 2 x Panzer IV's and a single Panther.  Ken's force was, well I can't remember specifics just that it was huge.  Lots of tanks, lots of troops, and lots of support weapons.

My force - Ken's outstanding 20mm kit!
Defending the bridge.  The objective is the same as last time - the swampy area to the left of the bridge.  I had a murderous amount of firepower covering the crossing.

Ken will have to slog the long way up the table across a deadly killing field.  Unlike Ken's strategy from last time, I defended further back with no Germans on the Soviet side of the river.  I wanted to use the space to try and kill units as they approached.  Ken has multiple units of infantry and armor in reserve.  He starts moving towards the woods on his right and my MGs open up, knocking out a squad in the opening turn of the game.  There are many more where those guys came from!

My tokens for the first turn.
I activate a Panzer IV in the small woods next to the bridge and open fire on Ken's advancing armor (SU-76's).  I hit but fail to kill.  Ken's return fire is brutally effective and he kills my Panzer IV!  As his infantry advance south of the village, I fire down the lane and kill a squad.  Ken uses the SU-76 to suppress my MG team in the woods.  I also reveal the rifle section in the woods.  The key terrain in this fight is becoming apparent!

Ken's troops crossing a linear danger area south of the village.

MG team and Panzer IV reveal themselves.

Panzer IV is taken out.  The LMG team has a morale maker on it.  The black poker chip is the rifle team who hadn't yet revealed themselves.

Note the huge stack of "command token" dice next to the MG team.

Forward Comrades!  For the Rodina!

SU #112 nails my Panzer IV.

All of the units near the bridge are revealed and the fight is heating up.
 Ken moves a recce platoon of T-70s around his right past the woods where I reveal another waiting Panzer IV.  My Panzer IV fails to kill a single T-70, causing 2 x morale markers on one. 

Note blobs of infantry in the upper right.  Ken's reinforcements coming on.  Most of the infantry and armor presently on the table are working their way around the upper left of the picture in the woods right now.

Sub Commander defending in the swamp.
Panzer IV taking lots of shots and not doing anything!

Ivan moving up his right my left.  I have no other infantry covering this side

Ken's cool T-70 models.  Love these things!  
 More of Ken's reinforcing armor comes on the table now.  Bigger tanks.  Bigger guns including a "beastkiller" SU-152 and an SU-85 Tank Destroyer.  We're playing 7 turns and it's around 4 now and Ken needs to get his troops on the move.

Note the red steel advancing from right.  Also note the squad getting hammered in the cabbage patch.  Ken discovers I have a ton of MGs in the houses in the village on my side of the river.  
 Ken's men are clawing their way through the village now.  The "red house" as we referred to it, the one with the red roof, becomes more key terrain as it's cover for troops looking to support the bridge crossing.

Ken loses a squad in "the cabbage patch" here
 I have no choice but to reveal the Panther and the remaining units in the village.  I move up the Panther and begin shooting but fail to hit a single target.  In fact the Panther killed nothing the entire battle!  Additionally, none of the Panzers killed a single Soviet tank. 

Note the poker chip and 2 dice.  There is a machine gun section in the house hammering any of Ivan's troops who try to move up into the Red house or past it.
 Ken organizes a serious push to take the bridge and the objective.  He surges his armor and infantry forward, eventually moving a T-34 up to the bridge.  I should note that all of my infantry have hand-held anti tank weapons with a range of 8"!  I knock out his T-34 somewhat easily with it.  Next, Ken moves his infantry up and they get pushed back by machine gun fire.  Ken starts focusing his fire on the MG and the Rifles on the right of the bridge and he pushes them back!  The back and forth nature of the combat in IRON CROSS is very exciting and, to me, feels very realistic.  The whole game feels like a firefight.

My last remaining rifle section, with a panzerfaust, will break from cover and advance up to the wire to try to knock out an SU that crosses the bridge.

Panther still attempting to hit stuff.  Still not hitting anything.

Hurrah!  Burning T-34 on the other side of the bridge!  Taken out with a Panzerfaust!  There are more of them coming however.
 We treat the KO'd T-34 as difficult terrain but Ken easily passes the check and moves his SU-85 past it to cross onto my side of the river.  Ken needs to kill a single remaining infantry squad within 12" of the objective.  If he does, he takes the game.  He moves more armor, MG, and infantry into position to cover the advance.

Ken gets another infantry squad onto my side of the river and into the swamp onto the objective.  He eventually kills the infantry squad i have overlooking the bridge and that was the game.

Both of these German units in this pic would be knocked out leading to a Soviet victory!

This game came down to the very end of turn 7 but was a solid, Soviet victory.  Very enjoyable and lots of back and forth action.  I like that you can force the enemy to react to your plans by spending your command tokens aggressively.  I also like that you can plan an effective defense and spread your activations out among fresh units covering an objective.  To me, this game has you thinking like a commander, not just as a gamer.  You need support weapons covering the advance of your troops in order to suppress enemy defenders.  You also need a reserve to commit at an opportune time.  The game rewards good planning, keeping a reserve, and trying to maintain the tempo of operations over your opponent, kind of like real war.  The "tech" is much less important in this game and I'm okay with that.  IRON CROSS is quickly becoming one of my favorite WWII games. 

This was a great game and I cannot wait to play IRON CROSS again, or try out SEVEN DAYS TO THE RIVER RHINE, which is the "Cold War" version of IRON CROSS.  I also purchased "1914" in the hopes of playing the WW I variant.  Ken and I were musing that the activation system would port well to other eras of history and I agree with him.  Also - one more week until "stay-cation '19" and I am already planning out my hobby projects!  Until then!

PS Thanks to Ken for gifting to me 2 x 1/72 armor kits and a box of 20mm infantry.  Inside story here - I literally sold off my entire 20mm collection at 2 conventions.  Yesterday's game dropped me right back into it all!  Guess I had better get started painting!


  1. Steve, I really enjoyed that post, the table and the armies. I am on the cusp of trying to decide what to do about my Iron Cross / seven days, so your post has really helped me decide to press on and get a better feel of the game. Thanks.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Norm. I tried to show some of the things I really like and enjoy about playing Iron Cross. I understand it's not without its shortcomings but I feel most games are anyways. I feel like this game makes you look at the battlefield in a different way from other games. I appreciate that.

  2. Superb game - and really gives a feel of how this system works.
    I think our recent game, being scenario driven, was just too big. You've nailed the system by using the points spread here I think. We'll try it again at this end, maybe even try the same game as you guys have done. Definitely seems suited to the rules with what you have described there.
    (I was just being too ambitious with Stoumont perhaps)

    1. Perhaps not. The system bills itself as a "big battle" kind of game (from the author's notes in the opening pages about the bigger the battle, the better) so I think we should test the limits. You certainly did that with Stoumont! A rules ought to be able to deliver historically plausible results in the absence of points in my humble opinion.

  3. Excellent BatRep, Steve! Iron Cross looks to produce a very enjoyable game where historical tactics are rewarded. It seemed the handheld AT assets were too effective. What are your thoughts?

    1. Thank you Jonathan! The games I've played have been much fun, exciting, and tense. Regarding the H/H AT weapons, I'm not sure. Could have been my rolling all along? Or the authors are trying to demonstrate not to let armor get too close to infantry who do not have many morale markers (suppression) on them?

    2. You always read that it’s very dangerous for afv’s to get close in to enemy Infantry without friendly Infantry support, but many rules only pay lip service to that maxim . If the authors exaggerated the effectiveness of hand held at weapons to make the maxim real i can live with that.