Crossfire introduces variable length turns et area movement to miniature wargaming, two relatively recent game concepts which cut the chaff et allow players to concentrate on tactics. Finally, a game without rulers et protractors, units advance in realistic bounds from one terrain feature to another. Gone is the arbitrary 3″ ou 6″ move, units move as far as they want, unless enemy reactive fire stops them. Crossfire looks et feels like a table-top version of Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader card game UP FRONT!, it is probably the most realistic table-top simulation of modern infantry combat on the market today. The rules are short et easy to learn. They can be, because the variable length turn eliminates a lot of complicated rule mechanisms which are normally required to fix the inherent problems of the turn-based move system. Crossfire is quick et decisive, it punishes bad tactics on the spot.
Brochure de 44 pages, piquage métallique, by Arty Conliffe
- Basic Rules, 17 Pages
- Advanced Rules, 1 Page
- Engineers/Obstacles, 1 Page
- Véhicules/AT-Weapons, 2 Pages
- Organizations, 11 Pages
- Scenario Generator, 8 Pages
- Véhicule Data, 2 Pages
- Stalingrad Scenario, 2 Pages
- Quick Play Sheet, 2 Pages
The simple idea behind the move system is that a unit ou formation advances until it reaches its objective, unless it is stopped - temporarily ou permanently - by enemy fire. Crossfire uses a variable length turn which ends when the active player loses the initiative. As long as the initiative is maintained, the phasing player may pivot, move, rally, et fire his units continuously. Yes, indeed, a single section is allowed to move, fire, et rally many times in the same turn, until it fails in the attempt. In theory, a lucky section ou platoon might advance all the way to the opposite table edge unopposed, then turn around et begin eliminating enemy positions from the rear. This may sound strange to a player who has not experienced the variable length turn yet, but it works beautifully.
What is happening here is incredibly realistic. Unopposed attacking units enjoy complete freedom of action, they may infiltrate behind enemy lines, et begin setting up ambushes in the rear. While this is happening, the defending player cannot use his superior vantage point to react to infiltrations in an unrealistic fashion. This is a common problem in turn-based games, where players are always tempted to engage in foul play, et react to activities which their troops on the ground could not possibly be aware of yet. Turn-based games need artificial fog-of-war rules to stop this activity, but Crossfire gives us all the fog we want at no cost to the players.
In the worst case scenario, a faulty deployment may result in a crushing defeat, just like it should. Probing attacks might locate a gap in the enemy defenses, allowing the attacker to push through to the objective unopposed, simply bypassing enemy strongpoints. In the meantime, the unaware defending units would maintain their current positions, expecting a direct attack against them which never materializes. Such a realistic course of action is nearly impossible to recreate in a turn-based game, where the defending player may react to any perceived threat within seconds ou minutes, depending on the fixed length of the turn.
Of course, the typical Crossfire game is not a Blitzkrieg breakthrough, even if players may worry frequently about the possibility of one occuring. Proper defensive tactics can be learned, et the initiative can be taken away from the attacker. When this happens, it is the defender’s turn to counter-attack, provided that he has kept a reserve which may be able to take advantage of the change in initiative.
Initiave is lost when a move, fire, patrol, ou rally action fails. The relevant rules are easy to understand et administer. The opposing players dialog the action as it unfolds, a simple process which has the added advantage of actively involving the defending player in the game. Turn-based games can be tedious for the non-phasing player, requiring him to wait until his opponent has contemplated et micro-managed every single move, checked et double-checked every possible firing range, target angle, et line of sight. Crossfire is so much more elegant than that, it is the industry standard by which future table-top simulations are to be judged.
Ground et time scales are not clearly defined in the game. While this may be a problem in campaigns, we may be able to extrapolate the scales as follows:
- 1 Initiative equals seconds ou minutes of tactical combat.
- There is no clear time scale for operational movement, because units would be able to advance for minutes ou hours in one initiative if they are unopposed. Campaign gamers may want to use a board game to move operationally, et treat a tactical engagement avec Crossfire as one ou two hours of actual combat. In fact, players might measure a tactical engagement in actual game time, because Crossfire resolves the action about as quickly as it would unfold in reality. If you do, count the total game time, including the umpire’s set-up time et deployment of figurines. This accounts for deployment et attack planning which would normally precede a prepared attack. Campaign players would have to agree not to stall the tactical game artificially, by executing pointless et repetitive moves which steal game time without actually resulting in any forward progress.
- Approximately 1/300 ground scale. Crossfire mounts an infantry section on a 31 mm frontage (1.25 inches), compared to 50-100 meters frontage for une section d’infanterie de la Reichswehr allemande. The typical - two up et one back - platoon formation has a maximum frontage of 93 mm in Crossfire et 100-200 meters in the Reichswehr. The scenario designer suggests company et bataillon attack frontages of 1.2 m (48 inches) et 2.4 m (96 inches) respectively. Reichswehr infantry training manuals set the same frontages at 200-400 et 400-1000 meters. Accordingly, we arrive at the following scale conversions:
- Section attack frontage: 1/1612 to 1/3225 scale
- Platoon attack frontage: 1/1075 to 1/2150 scale
- Company attack frontage: 1/166 to 1/333 scale
- Battalion attack frontage: 1/166 to 1/416 scale
- 1 infantry stand equals a section of 9-12 hommes ou plusieurs mitrailleuses.
- 1 model equals one véhicule ou gun.
- Six-sided dice are used
Crossfire is a very important game development, it shows how realistic, quick et easy to implement the variable length turn really is. It is high time that game designers pursue this idea further, because turn-based simulations are not nearly as much fun, et they are loaded avec unnecessary rule mechanisms designed specifically to patch the many problems resulting from the fixed turn.
The area movement system is an excellent hybrid design, it eliminates measuring, but it still requires proper facing et fire lanes. This system works very well, et the associated spotting rules are easy to implement.
The engineering rules work well. Terrain features may be mined, et troops entering ou traversing them will be attacked. Engineers may detect mines in time to avoid an attack. Friendly infantry is allowed to occupy a mined feature during the deployment phase, but they would be subject to attack if moved ou pivoted later. A more realistic approach would be to expand the "retreat move" rule (section 4.5) et allow these defenders to exit a mined feature without stepping on their own mines. Of course, if other friendly infantry entered the feature later, they would be attacked normally.
Crossfire uses a simple combat resolution system, but the results are in line avec more complicated mechanisms found in other rules. Infantry sections fire avec three dice against units in the open, ou two dice against units in cover. HMG sections have four et three dice respectively. A result of 5 ou 6 on one die is a hit, regardless of range. One hit pins, two hits suppress, et three ou more hits eliminate the target. There is no need to keep track of hits. Units are marked avec the current status - pinned ou suppressed - et they recover fully if rallied. HMG sections can achieve an immediate elimination result against enemy in cover, using three dice per fire action. Rifle sections may only suppress a unit in cover. Suppressed units may attempt to rally in their own initiative turn. If the rally attempt fails, initiative is lost immediately, et the suppressed unit risks being fired at again. Suppressed units which are suppressed again are eliminated.
Sniper fire is very similar to the way Up Front! handles it, the sniper fires once et is removed from play. Snipers fire avec three dice, just like infantry sections, et the fire effect is judged in the same way. However, if the sniper fires at a commander, a suppression result is enough to eliminate the element.
The key to Crossfire is Crossfire, of course. Widely dispersed infantry sections et attached HMG from the same platoon may Crossfire at a single target, provided that each element has LOS au chef de peloton et to the target. Without le chef de peloton, sections from the same platoon may use group fire, but they must be within one stand of the designated fire group leader to participate. One important feature of the game is that un chef de peloton perte may be replaced by eliminating a section from that platoon. Commanders may be rated 0, +1 ou +2, reflecting their varying ability to rally troops et lead them in close combat.
Some buildings may be classified as hardpoints ou bunkers, in which case they provide additional cover benefits. This is a clever way of handling prepared defenses in built-up areas, et it is an easy rule to implement. Regular building models may be used pour représenter points forts, et they do not reveal their special properties until an enemy sections discovers them the hard way.
The rules don’t mention it, but there seems to be no problem avec placing one terrain feature inside another. The move et combat system can handle buildings et hills inside woods ou rough ground very well. Natural features should be large enough to accomodate at least four to six infantry sections. Buildings may contain two sections per level.
Command control is an important element of the game, it is realistic, et very easy to judge. Platoon et company commanders rally their troops just like they do in other games. However, their most important function is to maneuver the troops et to coordinate their fire. There are three levels of tactical expertise. Sections d’infanterie allemande et d’autres unités d’élite are the most articulated in the game, they may move independently de leur chef de peloton, although they still need to be in LOS du chef de peloton to "Crossfire" at a target. Most infantry sections need le chef de peloton to start moving, but they may end their move out of LOS. Sections italiens, français, et russes must have LOS to the PC throughout the move, they are the least articulated in combat.
Buildings are normally treated as wooden structures, one story tall. A simple rule for multiple stories seems to have been added as an afterthought, but it may actually work quite well to treat every level as a separate feature under these rules. Observers in buildings do not have better lines of sight than their comrades on level ground, although it would be a simple affair to treat a church tower ou similarly tall building the same as a hill for the purpose of LOS determination.
Figurines should be based to give the impression of infantry sections instead of individual men. Any basing system will work, et the terrain features can be scaled to fit the base sizes currently in use.
Crossfire does not simulate advanced infantry tactics correctly, the game assumes that fusils et mitrailleuses légères serve in the same section together. In some armies they did, mais les sections d’infanterie allemande deployed a rifle squad et a light machine gun squad which operated as two separate maneuver elements in combat. La groupe de fusiliers allemande had relatively low firepower, et it was not expected to engage enemy in cover. If strong opposition was met, le chef de peloton had the option of converging his three light machine gun squads to suppress the target, allowing one ou two rifle squads to close avec the enemy when it was relatively safe to do so. US Marines, Commandos Britanniques, et other elite forces split their sections into 3-5 man fire, scout et assault squads. Most platoons formed adhoc 3-5 man patrols et tank-hunter teams when the need arose, but the minimum troop committment in Crossfire is an entire section of 9-12 men. The rules would have been more realistic if the elite infantry sections had been fully articulated.
Crossfire treats véhicules blindés only as a sideline, et the resulting coverage is relatively superficial. The basic rules do not permit un char to fire ses mitrailleuses, presumably because doing so might disturb the balance of the infantry game. Tanks fire ou move only once in an initiative turn, compared to infantry sections et mitrailleuses lourdes which move et fire as often as they want in the same turn. Tanks are obviously put at an unfair disadvantage here which has little to do avec realism. Combined arms combat worked historically, because there is a certain balance between armour, infantry, artillery et air power. Not the game designer decides when infantry is better than chars, the terrain does. Tanks fighting in built-up areas, woods et other dense terrain are automatically at a disadvantage if the terrain rules have been designed correctly, et infantry will suffer proportionally more if they meet véhicules blindés in ideal tank country. If Crossfire rates the Bazooka, Panzerfaust, et autres armes antichar correctly, chars should not be more dangerous a threat in this game than they were historically. Crossfire is a great game system, but simulation gamers may need a combined arms version of it to be truly happy. The way the move system is designed, there is even scope for easy to implement véhicule breakdown et recovery rules. Variable length turns could be real fun for armour et infantry fans alike, so why exclude the former from the action.
Bren Carriers et semi-chenillés are allowed to transport up to four sections, the equivalent of a platoon of 36 to 48 men, plus attached chef de pelotons et forward observers. If each modèle représente un véhicule individuel, this carrying capacity must be in error. Loaded semi-chenillés count each passenger section as a positive modifier in close combat, a cumulative bonus of +4 on a single D6 roll to decide the combat. Apparently, this is a loophole which can be exploited to launch a close combat attack of four mounted sections against a single infantry ou HMG section. The outcome of that fight is almost never in doubt.
Véhicules are physically unable to keep up avec infantry in this game. The movement rule defines a single move action as a pivot plus one move in a straight line. The move action ends, if the moving element enters a terrain feature. Infantry sections may execute multiple move actions in a single initiative turn, they end one move action in the terrain feature et immediately start another move action to exit it. Véhicules are only allowed one fire ou move action in the same initiative turn. Roads have no effect in Crossfire, so there is not even a road move for véhicules. Depending on the density of the terrain, it will take several initiative turns to move a véhicule to the front, without firing the main gun at all. Apparently, this is a bug in the system. Infantry normally requires more time to reach its jump-off positions, chars et transports de troupes are able to keep up et pass their own foot troops if necessary, particularly sur le théâtre militaire européen. One way to fix this problem is to give véhicules the same movement capabilities as infantry, but require a "bog check" each time a véhicule enters a difficult terrain feature. If a véhicule bogs down, initiative is lost. If infantry is too vulnerable under the new system, maybe the terrain is not dense enough yet.
The suggested terrain densite in the 2’ × 2’ table layout (page 31) may not be adequate to simulate infantry country. None of the terrain features are touching, et movement from one to the other will involve a rush across open ground. Infantry moving in the open are easily caught in a Crossfire which has a minimum 100% chance of pinning the entire formation. As long as the enemy Crossfire ou fire group exists, the pinned section ou platoon cannot move, it would be pinned again immediately if it tried. Even a pivot in place will draw immediate reactive fire. The rules do not specify how far the unit gets to move ou pivot at all if it is pinned again in the process. Presumably, the defending player would only have to allow the attacker to move ou pivot 1 mm before pinning him again. At this rate, it is virtually impossible to move a unit which has been pinned in the open. This effect is quite realistic, but the terrain should be dense enough to provide a few covered approaches. If terrain features are touching, the moving player may be able to avoid a few of the most obvious killing grounds, but he can still be fired at et ambushed along the way.
Hedges are dealt avec inconsistently. Section 4.4 explains that "Bocage et Hedges block LOS. Walls do not", whereas section 6.6 regulates that "Hedges et Walls" do not block fire through ou across them. The rules require LOS to fire at a target. If Hedges block LOS, fire through them ou across them is blocked as well, et Section 6.6 is in error. Otherwise, Section 4.4 is in error.
Troops inside depressions are immune to "all fire" from troops on level ground, even including indirect fire. According to the drawing on page 7, the same is true in reverse. The rules do not explain what kind of depression this is which prevents the occupying troops from using the edge of the feature as a natural trench. Board games like Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader let the player decide if his troops are actually hiding in a depression ou gully, ou if they are partially exposed to fire out of it. One way to add this feature to Crossfire is to treat a depression as a trenchline at the defending player’s discretion. The status would change if troops hidden in the depression decide to line the edge of the feature et expose themselves to fire. If a depression is used as a trench, defending sections would be subject to the "recon by fire" rule.
Crew-served weapons are not permitted to hit the dirt (ground hugging) to reduce the enemy fire effect against them. Obviously, if HMG crews are sitting up ou kneeling to fire their tripod-mounted weapons, they will be more vulnerable than infantry couché. However, when the HMG section is pinned in the open, one would expect the unit to fire its weapons from bipod mounts, ou to stop firing et hit the ground like everyone else. It would be easy to simulate the reduced fire effect of a ground hugging HMG section by treating them like a regular infantry section instead.
The rule that move actions need to be executed in a straight line is unrealistic, et the infantry game works well without it. Move actions et pivots elicit reactive fire every time. An infantry unit moving along the outside edge of a terrain feature might have to pivot et alternate move actions three ou four times to conform to the feature. Reactive fire is bloody enough as it is, without taking the move action sequence to such extremes. Afterall, we are not dealing avec a linear ou Napoleonic army here, we are concerned avec perfectly articulated infantry sections which may follow virtually any route they want. In playtesting, we ignored the straight line move requirement completely, et the game worked just fine. The most serious problem avec the straight line move is that it cuts véhicule movement rates unrealistically. Infantry et véhicules are permitted to join in a group move, but véhicules move only once per initiative turn whereas infantry can move as long as the initiative is maintained.
Infantry sections are not permitted to claim cover if they sont avançant immediately behind a friendly véhicule.
There is no rule permitting tankoviy desant infanterie motorisée soviétique to ride their chars into battle. Of course, the way the véhicule movement rule is set up, infantry is much faster without their véhicules. Crossfire is a company-level game, et one would expect to see a platoon of véhicules operating in close support of the infantry, not counting prime movers et camions légers which may also be found in the company sector.
There is no provision for armed soft véhicules, like jeeps, camions légers et motos mounting a light machine gun. L’infanterie motocycliste allemande et soviétique is covered in the rules, but these troops fight entirely on foot here.
Infantry sections are not permitted to fire from their semi-chenillé, even if the véhicule is stationary.
Les characteristiques des véhicules et canons antichar are of questionable value, there are many inconsistencies:
- Le canon antiaérien de 88 mm L.71 FlaK allemand had the same penetration as the Tiger II et the PaK 43, but Crossfire rates the FlaK lower than the other two weapons which were identical to it. The 50 mm L.60 PaK 38 is rated too low, it had 141 mm of armour penetration compared to 154 mm for the 75 mm L.43 of the Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. F2 which is rated 16% better in Crossfire. La Panzerfaust (totive) which penetrated 153 mm at 0-100 meters is rated 33% better than the PaK 38, et 16% better than the Pz.Kpfw. F2.
- The short 47 mm gun of the Char B français is overrated, it penetrated only 62 mm compared to 95 mm for the canon antichar de 47 mm français which is rated the same in Crossfire. Le char Panzer III allemand avec the short 50 mm gun had marginally better penetration than the Char B, but it is rated 33% lower.
- Chars lourds KV.II soviétiques had much better armour protection than KV.IC, but Crossfire rates the KV.IC better.
- Le canon antichar QF 17 pounder britannique avait the same armour penetration capability comme le canon 17 pounder mounted in the Firefly, but Crossfire rates ce char 16% better.
Panzerschreck (tank terror), Kübelwagen (literally "bucket car"), et Brummbär (growler) are spelled incorrectly.
The page layout is substandard, making the manual a real pain to read. The margins are too small, headlines, subheads et section numbers do not stand out from the body text enough, et the text is slow to read, because it is not in the normal 10 point typeface found in books et newspapers. The play sheet refers to section numbers, but the section numbers are not easy to find in the body text. Instead, the practically meaningless page numbers are prominently displayed on the outside margin of each page, et they conflict avec section numbers. Fortunately, these rules are short, et the rule book is not needed once the game has been understood. The play sheet is very good, it answers most questions which would otherwise have to be looked up in the manual.
- Company-level combat, 1939-1945
- Première Guerre mondiale, 1914–1918
- Japanese Invasion of China, 1937–1939
- Guerre d’Espagne, 1936–1939
- Guerre de Palestine, 1948
- Guerre de Corée, 1950–1953
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Crossfire is a great game system, it beats many other modern miniatures rules in terms of realism et playability. The variable length turn is a step in the right direction, et other game designers are sure to adopt it now. Unlike what we have been led to believe, the variable length turn is easier to understand, faster, more dynamic, et much more fun to play than the old turn-based game. Crossfire succeeds where turn-based games fail dismally, it marks the beginning of a new era in table-top simulation gaming.
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