Cross of Iron

rulebook cover

Brief Description
squad record form

Designed to recreate the atmosphere of WWII "pulp fiction," these rules focus on infantry actions in Russia. The game is designed so that you can play the game after giving the rulebook a quick read. The average game pits a German infantry section vs. several platoons of Russians.

There are two types of combatants - Soldiers (most Germans) and Goons (most Russians). Soldiers are randomly assigned Schnell! (a measure of their skill and experience) and one or more Characteristics (ranging from "Man of Iron" to "Snivelling Coward," plus useful benefits such as "Russian Speaker" and "Comedian" - 36 in all). Goons are organized into Goonsquads (led by Goonleaders) and have no stats (the number of goons in a goonsquad is the vital stat). An appendix explains how small German infantry units are organized.

Each turn starts with leaders rolling for Encouragement Points. This is followed by Action Rolls for each soldier, to determine what they are capable of this turn: nothing, move, fire, or move-and-fire, and whether the movement can be a "dash," and whether fire will be aimed or unaimed. The Action Roll is modified by Schnell, encouragement, and situation.

Weapon type (pistol, rifle, carbine, and light machinegun) determines range. To hit the target, a dieroll is made - modified by terrain and (aimed shots only) Schnell. Special rules cover semi-auto and automatic fire. If a figure is hit, a damage roll determines whether the victim dies, suffers a wound, receives a temporary penalty, or if the hit has no effect. Most injuries also reduce the target's Schnell level. Figures may also engage in close combat. Once in melee, figures immediately fight any number of rounds of melee combat until a victor is determined. Combat is resolved by opposed dierolls modified by Schnell, with the loser losing Schnell equal to the difference in the results. Heavy weapons are handled abstractly. Grenades travel a random distance (modified by Schnell), and damage everything within their blast radius.

Also included in the rules booklet is the 'Steiner' Mini-Campaign, which is loosely based on the events from Sam Peckinpah's WWII film, Cross of Iron. A German squad is in the Crimea in '43, and must survive a Russian offensive. The day's events are determined randomly, but gradually crescendo toward one of three possible final scenarios. The campaign also includes scenario rules for tanks, snipers, and fighting in factories.

The booklet also includes guidelines for using infiltration in scenarios, a history of the Iron Cross, and a description of German tactics translated (and excerpted) from a Wehrmacht manual.

tactics explanation from rulebook
Period The Russian Front as depicted in novels and film
Ground Scale 1" = 5 metres (20 and 25mm scales)
1 cm = 5 metres (15mm scale)
Time Scale Not given. "Bullets and grenades do not adhere to stopwatches and yardsticks."
Figure Scale Each figure represents one man.
Miniature Scales Intended for use with 20 and 25mm figures, but easily adaptable.
Contents 52-page, digest-size booklet
Designer Matthew Sparkes
Publisher First edition published 1998 - "A Gauntlet Publication"

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Last Updates
28 September 1998page first published
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