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"Goodbye to Crossfire? Oh no, not yet." Topic


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TacticalPainter0112 Nov 2023 9:40 p.m. PST

There's been a revival of interest in Crossfire at the club and it's led me to dig out my old 20mm forces that I put together for those rules when I first returned to miniature gaming. I've given them something of a refresh and it feels like a whole new project, but one that hasn't cost me any money and doesn't require any extra storage space. You don't get to say that very often in this hobby!

The full blog post is here Goodbye to Crossfire?

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Martin Rapier13 Nov 2023 12:53 a.m. PST

You can never say goodbye to Crossfire! I played half a dozen games last month, after break of, ahem, 15 years..

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2023 8:26 a.m. PST

The simplicity and feel of Crossfire isn't matched by today's skirmish games. Unfortunately Crossfire gets reprints but nothing new.

The only thing close to it in simplicity and game philosophy is One Hour Skirmish by John Lambshead. But that has different mechanics with single figure activation that may not be to everyone's taste.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2023 8:45 a.m. PST

Great looking figures.

TacticalPainter0113 Nov 2023 1:20 p.m. PST

The simplicity and feel of Crossfire isn't matched by today's skirmish games. Unfortunately Crossfire gets reprints but nothing new.

Crossfire is simple and yet elegantly encapsulates a feel for historical tactics with a good sense of the uncertainty and friction of combat. Unfortunately it has been poorly supported since it was published which is a great shame.

Other rule sets like Bolt Action, Flames of War and Battlegroup are very well supported and will hold players by the hand and provide everything they need. Not so Crossfire and in this day and age that's going to kill off a ruleset very quickly.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2023 1:42 p.m. PST

Crossfire is a wonderful simulation of infantry tactics.

MajorB13 Nov 2023 2:44 p.m. PST

Unfortunately it has been poorly supported since it was published which is a great shame.

I really don't understand this concept of a set of rules needing to be "supported".

Little Red13 Nov 2023 3:53 p.m. PST

I support it! I helped playtest it, still play it. There's plenty of stuff on the webs. Is there something else required for enjoyment? Play it if you like it. Don't play it if you don't.

Arty got tired of all the unnecessary grief that comes with being a rules writer, so he decided to move on but the game still works just fine.

TacticalPainter0113 Nov 2023 5:56 p.m. PST

I really don't understand this concept of a set of rules needing to be "supported".

You have to look at the competition. Flames of War, Rapid Fire, Battlegroup or Bolt Action all offer players a very easy means of entry (ranges of figures, very active web community, books and supplements with scenarios and army lists). This makes it easier for players to buy in, especially younger or newer players in the hobby. The constant flow of new product sends out a signal that the rules are popular and easy to get hold of. An active online community with active participation by the rules writers, publishing and figure manufacturers again help to keep that profile. You don't do it and you are in danger of slipping under the radar.

Does that matter? Well not to me and a lot of my generation, we've done it old school for years, but that's us and it's why it's old school. The younger members of our club walk up to the table and ask 'what's this?' When we tell them it's no surprise that they've never heard of Crossfire, yet even if they don't play any Second World War game I can assure you they've heard of Bolt Action or Flames of War.

Supported can be simple things like releasing a new scenario. For the time poor or those with little confidence in their own ability to create a decent scenario that means you can arrange a game, get to the club or your friend's house and your ready to play.

Not supported means never releasing an FAQ, never being available to answer questions, never reprinting when rules are out of print……

TacticalPainter0113 Nov 2023 5:59 p.m. PST

Play it if you like it. Don't play it if you don't.

And never play it if you've never heard of it…..

Legionarius13 Nov 2023 7:19 p.m. PST

Crossfire is THE Company level infantry game! It's a classic.

monk2002uk13 Nov 2023 9:16 p.m. PST

Fortunately, Crossfire is very well supported. The rules are now available in PDF format as well as print, along with the 'Hit the Dirt' supplement:

link

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There is an active Crossfire group, which transitioned from Yahoo Groups to IO:

Steven Thomas has a load of stuff on his Balagan website:

link

Robert

Dexter Ward14 Nov 2023 2:22 a.m. PST

Crossfire is great, but the vehicle rules are very basic, and some aspects work poorly. The rules for crossing streams and obstacles don't work. If not under fire, you cross without hindrance. If under fire, then it is very little different to crossing open ground. Needs a chance of losing initiative when crossing to fix the problem. The other big problem we found is that the multi-player rules don't work so well. It is really a 1v1 game

monk2002uk14 Nov 2023 9:04 a.m. PST

There is a very good multiplayer mod on Steven's website. I can't speak to WW2 but we have used it for WW1.

Robert

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2023 5:25 a.m. PST

Super work, TP!

I revisted my Crossfire rules and scenario books after your previous thread, but came to the same reason I've never moved on the system – that's the recommended terrain density to keep the game working.

How does one design historical game maps for scenarios, using the recommended terrain hopscotch placement?

TacticalPainter0128 Nov 2023 12:05 a.m. PST

How does one design historical game maps for scenarios, using the recommended terrain hopscotch placement?

Check out this blog if you're not already familiar, plenty of ideas and inspiration for what you might be looking for Balagan Crossfire Scenarios

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2023 8:40 a.m. PST

Thanks for the link TP.

This pic reminds me of Enemy at the Gates –

TacticalPainter0128 Nov 2023 9:49 p.m. PST

How does one design historical game maps for scenarios, using the recommended terrain hopscotch placement?

We find that not dissimilar to the way we create any table for a historical scenario. Each move is essentially a tactical bound as units move from one clearly defined piece of terrain to another. We make that terrain as naturalistic as possible. The issue tends to be that our gaming tables are traditionally perfectly level billiard tables when in reality the ground is much more broken up, this can be represented for Crossfire in many ways. It's undoubtedly true that the rules require more terrain than most. Below is a Normandy table we put together for a recent game at the club.

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This was one we made up, but it could just as easily be based on a map or photograph.

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Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2023 4:45 a.m. PST

…and there's your group-mounted squad stands in action!

That's a terrific-looking table.

Even though your club probably contains many veteran players in its ranks, do you see newer gamers wanting to apply tactical decision-making in these scenarios too?

Looking at this board, and the terrain fidelity displayed on it, if I were playing over that ground, it would really make me want to apply myself to the mission assignment.

TP, this game here, that's a gift (and there's some lucky guys there in your club who get to experience such gifting)!

TacticalPainter0130 Nov 2023 10:19 p.m. PST

Even though your club probably contains many veteran players in its ranks, do you see newer gamers wanting to apply tactical decision-making in these scenarios too?

They are not sure how to approach it, some are so used to playing games where you pull a card, a chit or a dice to activate a unit that they don't quite know what to make of the apparent 'free form' nature of Crossfire. It is a very unforgiving rule set (and that's not a criticism!) but that can be an issue when introducing new players. Use poor tactics, like forgetting to guard your flanks or have a reserve, and you will be punished.

GeorgBuchner01 Dec 2023 12:04 a.m. PST

i like the sound of crossfire and its "free-form" design, is it just for infantry though or could it be used for armored combat or is that only something ancillary to infantry in the system?

Does Spearhead have a similar rules design to Crossfire?

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP01 Dec 2023 4:52 a.m. PST

TP, it might require more ownership of that decision-making perhaps (which can be brutal for unfamiliar players).

There's sort of this dilemma between enjoying spontaneously-generated action vs. more deliberative gaming.

A question using your excellent game board example above are you aiming to involve more participants in these Crossfire sessions (doing multiplayer)?

Also can you play in your games, or is that an eventual, hoped-for goal?

(I'm wanting to play more these days, which can be difficult when presenting and moderating multiplayer games)

Perhaps Crossfire has/does present some unique opportunities?

TacticalPainter0102 Dec 2023 1:57 p.m. PST

i like the sound of crossfire and its "free-form" design, is it just for infantry though or could it be used for armored combat or is that only something ancillary to infantry in the system?

It is at heart an infantry game, ideally suited for actions in close terrain – think urban battles or Normandy hedgerows. Tanks are intended for occasional support. Anyone looking for a set of rules to handle larger numbers of tanks would be better off looking elsewhere. Crossfire is about company actions where you are manoeuvring platoons and squads. Company level support is more often mortar barrages and machine gun teams rather than armoured units.

I'm afraid I can't answer your question on Spearhead I have no familiarity with that rule set.

TacticalPainter0102 Dec 2023 2:03 p.m. PST

A question using your excellent game board example above are you aiming to involve more participants in these Crossfire sessions (doing multiplayer)?

There are three of us at the club keen to encourage more players to try the rules. I'm not sure multiplayer is the answer as the decision over what moves to make next are critical and require either an overall commander (which gives other players little agency) or a cooperative approach, which is not always satisfactory. My gut feeling is this is best as a 1 vs 1 game.

Also can you play in your games, or is that an eventual, hoped-for goal?

I absolutely play in all the games I can. If I'm introducing a new player I will give them advice while playing and guide them through the rules while hopefully offering them a reasonably competitive experience.

Perhaps Crossfire has/does present some unique opportunities?

I think for an evening game a company sized action is playable in anything from 1-3 hours depending on the scenario. In that sense it offers opportunities to play a reasonably sized action in a relatively short time frame. That's where we've identified Crossfire as a very suitable set for our weekly club meetings.

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP03 Dec 2023 6:23 a.m. PST

Top-notch TP!

Thank you for providing this info on your Crossfire thoughts/plans and we'll be looking forward to seeing both Western and Eastern Front scenarios going on there together at the club (hopefully in the not-too distant future)!

Hey, was wondering what you have, or might be planning for entrenchment features for these round 20mm stands?

Here's what I have for mine, but I don't like them that well especially if a stand needs to be up against a hedgerow or wall almost need something 'half-moon', but not so round-ish.

Any crafting results or thoughts on entrenchment pieces for these round stands?

Wolfhag03 Dec 2023 8:44 a.m. PST

Unfortunately it has been poorly supported since it was published which is a great shame.

That takes money unless there is some way to create a viral video to gain followers, instructional videos, put on tournaments, or develop a new line of figures that specifically fit the game.

There is support on Board Game Geeks: link

I've had a copy of the rules for years but I played it for the first time last week. I just finished reading the rules so I'll give my feedback. I'm no expert in the game and many of my suggestions may not be relevant or I did not entirely grasp the rules:

Pros that I think make the game more historically accurate:
No IGYG or unit activations

No range bands for small arms fire but should be for SMGs.

No random intuitive determination as the initiative is not random. In the game, you seize or lose the initiative based more on your tactics and decisions.

Ground Hugging is done correctly but I don't think they should fire normally. Generally, you are either exposing yourself to shoot or seeking cover or a combination of the two which would have a firepower modifier penalty.

Stand-up from Ground Hugging can be hit by Reactive Fire is correct because advancing under fire is very difficult.

Fire & Maneuver: This can be performed pretty much the way it was done historically. One or more units perform fire on the target while the maneuver unit is Ground Hugging. After suppressing the defender the unit Hugging Ground advances.

Small Arms Fire: I like using the group rather than individuals.

Ambush Fire: I like the idea but with a Point Man. The ambushed unit should be able to immediately respond by falling back to the edge where he entered avoiding causalities or an immediate close assault. You don't get pinned down in the kill zone!

C&C: Keeping units in the LOS is better than an artificial command range. Allowing some sub-units to move out of LOS is correct as generally a unit is given an objective to move to and does not need to be supervised along the way.

Recon by Fire: Looks good to me.

Target Proximity Rule: Makes sense

Movement: Overall I like it and speeds up the game. I like the Ambush Fire rule too. However, there should be an accommodation for a point man moving through woods and close terrain with a chance to avoid an ambush or only the point man is affected.

Cons and suggestions at the risk of complications of course:

Leadership: Have a Risk-Reward Decision when you fail a die roll an attached leader could be used to pass it but at a fairly high chance of becoming a causality, especially from Sniper Fire. This would reflect leaders exposing themselves to enemy fire to improve their performance or motivate them. Squad and Platoon Leaders generally should not be firing their weapons in combat (except in Close Combat or Assault) as it is more important to observe and control than to shoot.

I would not allow them to be targeted unless they were using their leadership modifier but there could be situations like leading an assault.

Grenades: I can't see where they are included in the game. I think they should be included for Close Assaults and fighting room-room function mainly as Suppression. My friends in Ukraine told me the side that wins a trench fight is the side with the most grenades. The same was true with the Marines at Hue and Fallujah. In WWI Brits attacked trenches carrying bags full of Mills Bombs. Their effectiveness is increased inside confined spaces. The German stick grenades were primarily for concussion in a close assault as you don't want shrapnel flying back at you after you throw it.

I have a special liking for Flamethrowers, White Phosphorus, and Thermite grenades.

Close Combat: Always use smoke. When it is declared the defender should get a free movement to Fall Back. If there is a good LOS the attackers should get a chance to cut them down with Small Arms Fire without any return fire from the defenders.

Historically, close assaults were not a charge by the entire unit but by a few guys (sometimes specialized units like Combat Engineers with flame throwers and satchel charges or a leader) sneaking up on the defenders to deliver a satchel charge, grenades, etc. If 1-3 guys attempt to sneak up or crawl (Hugging Ground) to a bunker or pillbox under suppressive fire they should have a better chance of getting in contact.

I don't know if you've ever been inside a bunker or pillbox but your observation is very restricted at close range. This is why they have barbed wire and landmines in front of them.

Small Arms Fire: I think it is too much die-rolling and is kind of clunky to follow as a first-time gamer. There are easier ways to do it.

Reverse Slope Defense: If units on the reverse slope are suppressed or pinned down they should be able to fall back and move to another location on the same slope, staying out of the enemy LOS, just as a unit not pinned and fully recover from suppression once in their new location. Maybe have the same rule if defending in a large multi-story building or the basement.

Suppression/Pinned/Causality: Overall I just don't like it. I can go into details later. Basically, the "experts" who have studied suppression in combat define suppression as the decreased ability to move, communicate, shoot, and observe.

As firepower increases defenders will spend more time avoiding fire than returning fire, be less able to communicate offers to units not attached to, etc. I like the idea of Hug Ground to avoid casualties.

I think in reality Pinned Down is more of a choice that moving under fire is not worth the risk. However, in a desperate situation, they may attack and units should be allowed to freely Fall Back out of the enemy LOS without being able to shoot or be stopped by small arms fire as there are many historical examples.

Reactive Fire: In 6.5.1 I'm not sure of how Reactive Fire affects a moving target other than when it is halted. Is it Hugging Ground (which I'd expect) or Pinned? Can it return fire?

Locked in a Fire Fight: The individual guys shooting at the enemy generally have reduced Situational Awareness of new enemy threats and shoot at what they are told to. Generally, their Fire Team or Squad Leader is controlling who or what they fire at. To switch to another target should be a leadership roll.

SMG: The SMG squad should have a range reduction as their effectiveness severely drops off after 50m. They should get a bonus for assaults. Platoon Leaders and NCOs often carried SMGs because their job was to observe and move around to control their units and not to increase their firepower as you can't do both. It does come in handy in close combat and assaults.

SNAFUs: There should be a small chance that a unit that is given an order without the leader attached misses the command or does not interpret it correctly. Maybe have the defender roll a D10 with a SNAFU on a 1. It should not end the turn except for that particular unit.

Surprise Encounter: I think the surprised side is the one that is flanked! If the moving unit/attacker is surprised then I'd expect an ambush would take place. The attacker and defender could surprise each other and then the side with the better troops act first. It could result in an automatic surrender or retreat for the defender which I think occurred as often as close combat HTH fighting.

Indirect Artillery: In a close-range small unit engagement I doubt if you be calling in artillery greater than 75mm unless the target was already registered. Same for air support. I'd even be careful with medium or heavy mortars but light mortars no problem. Light mortars with a direct LOS to the defenders should get an accuracy advantage.

Armor combat: As stated, the rules are very abstract. I'd do it a little differently.

Overall I liked the game more than I thought I would. I'll be better prepared the next time I play.

Wolfhag

TacticalPainter0103 Dec 2023 7:37 p.m. PST

Interesting observations. There are a few additional rules in the Hit the Dirt supplement but not many, the best is the moving clock which sets time parameters on games. There have been various house rules written over the years as well, but after trying a few of these we've reached the conclusion to play just with rules as written. Some elements may be simplified or abstracted but overall the pieces of the jigsaw all fit and the games work.

TacticalPainter0104 Dec 2023 1:04 p.m. PST

FlyXwire I'm using these for entrenchments. They were made for my Chain of Command games to take LMG teams and accommodate a 40mm base so will work for the round bases.

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Wolfhag05 Dec 2023 6:09 a.m. PST

TacticalPainter01,
My suggestions were from my experience in the infantry and training manuals, none are my ideas.

It's none of my business how people play their games but I've never understood why in historical WWII tactical-level games (not just Crossfire) the infantry moves as a mob. One of the main responsibilities of a squad leader was to make sure his team/squad was in the right formation when making contact with the enemy. And no Point Man heresy I say <grin>.

All you'd have to do is put a formation marker next to or on the unit. The effect it would have would be a + or modifier depending on the enemy unit when making contact and defensive modifiers and movement modifier.

It's probably a risk-reward tactical decision that is probably beyond most players, especially new ones so it's probably best to keep it simple. I'm sure Arty had a reason for not including it.

Wolfhag

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP05 Dec 2023 8:53 a.m. PST

Thanks for the pic TP.

TacticalPainter0106 Dec 2023 1:32 p.m. PST

It's none of my business how people play their games but I've never understood why in historical WWII tactical-level games (not just Crossfire) the infantry moves as a mob. One of the main responsibilities of a squad leader was to make sure his team/squad was in the right formation when making contact with the enemy. And no Point Man heresy I say <grin>.

You are absolutely right, but I think you also have to consider the level at which the game is played. It's definitely not a platoon level skirmish game, let alone one that focuses on the actions of individuals in a squad.

In Crossfire you are commanding anything from one to three companies. That puts the player in the role of battalion commander. At the lowest level you are assigning tasks to platoons, so how an individual squad carries out its task is not really the level of detail that belongs in a game like this. You tend to be assigning tasks to platoons. The main decisions are when you feed in the reserve platoons and companies to exploit success or plug gaps in the defence.

In that sense I live with the necessary abstractions at the lower tactical level – point men, assault teams, grenades – these are all factored into what's happening when you take actions with a squad base. Crossfire rewards coordinated platoon and company actions – group moves, group fire and crossfires. I tend to find that's the lowest level with which I concern myself. Has the platoon carried out its mission successfully?

If a lone squad moves into terrain, is ambushed and destroyed then I assume either the squad and its leader failed to use their tactical training effectively (or the enemy were simply better at doing the same), or conversely if they survive the ambush and destroy the defenders I can assume it was the result of better tactical decisions by the squad. If I want to game that assault in more granular detail then I'll use a more appropriate set of rules set as squad/platoon level, Crossfire doesn't pretend to be that rule set.

Wolfhag07 Dec 2023 8:04 a.m. PST

In Crossfire you are commanding anything from one to three companies. That puts the player in the role of battalion commander. At the lowest level you are assigning tasks to platoons, so how an individual squad carries out its task is not really the level of detail that belongs in a game like this. You tend to be assigning tasks to platoons. The main decisions are when you feed in the reserve platoons and companies to exploit success or plug gaps in the defence.

For the sake of discussion:
If you are role-playing a Battalion Commander (player in the role of Battalion Commander as you stated) historically you are going to be issuing orders to your Company Commander from your HQ where you would be receiving reports and most likely not in visual contact with any of your companies. But that would not be any fun!

Platoons are under the command of the Company Commander, not the Battalion Commander. There are times when an operation is not progressing or an attack has stalled the Battalion or even the Regimental commander will come down to the Company or maybe even the Platoon level to get things moving.

In the game, the player (Battalion commander?) moves each of his squads more or less making him the squad leader therefore squad tactics as I outlined.

During Vietnam, I heard about Battalion Commanders flying all over their AO in a helicopter directing where specific squads were to be moved to. I am sure that drove his Company and Platoon commanders crazy. So it can happen.

I'm sure the designer had his reasons for including some aspects and abstracting others. Like any game, it fits some player's styles of play but not everyone. But if you are the overall Battalion commander and you are moving individual squads exactly where you want them to go and when – SO WHAT – it's a game so have fun, you don't need to justify it.

I must admit there is a good reason for leaving out a lot of the real tactics as I mentioned. First of all, most game systems can represent them very faithfully. Second, to use real infantry tactics as they are historically portrayed takes training and experience. Therefore if you are going to have a playable game for everyone you need a high level of abstraction, that's just the way it is. So like I said, in my opinion, Crossfire is better than most other games. And like I've said before, "reality sucks."

Wolfhag

TacticalPainter0107 Dec 2023 1:48 p.m. PST

If you are role-playing a Battalion Commander (player in the role of Battalion Commander as you stated) historically you are going to be issuing orders to your Company Commander from your HQ where you would be receiving reports and most likely not in visual contact with any of your companies. But that would not be any fun!

I suspect that is to over think it in game terms. In Crossfire each player technically plays every single role on the table, but that's not an attempt to reflect any reality it's simply game mechanics. When I play Crossfire I'm thinking about what I want my companies to do to achieve the objective. That is the big picture. Initially I'm not concerned with individual squads, the objective will be achieved by companies.

How I achieve that objective in the course of the game will require me to take actions with all units simply because I'm the only person to do it. I don't think of myself as acting in the role of squad leader, much less every single soldier. I'm executing the platoon and company attacks as planned. The success or failure of the actions of squads and platoons is only relevant in the context of the company/battalion objective.

As an abstraction Crossfire does this very well. The lowest level I'm required to think at is platoon commander. Individual squads are simply game markers (one stand with three figures, abstractly representing 10-12 men in anything from 1-3 fire teams). So, while thinking about achieving the objective like a battalion or company commander I will as a game mechanic operate platoons from time to time because there is no one else there to do it. I think that's why I don't consider those low level tactical issues to be relevant in game terms despite the fact they are clearly relevant at squad level.

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