Crossfire Scenarios for all Ages

I’m looking for more small Crossfire Scenarios so I wondered how the “Scenarios for all Ages” of Charles Grant and Stuart Asquith would transfer to Crossfire. The scenarios were “intended to provide a mixture of fun, excitement and challenge.” Sounds good to me and I could say the same for Crossfire, so it seems like a good match. However it does take a certain amount of tweaking to get the scenarios to work for Crossfire. And make them “small”. This post is about those tweaks.


The Book

The book is available from Amazon USA, UK, and Canada:

Grant, C. S., and Asquith, S. A. (1996). “Scenarios for all Ages”. CSG Publications.

Scenarios for All Ages Cover
The Grant and Asquith (1996) book has 52 scenarios. Each scenario is in the same layout.

  1. Title
  2. Description
  3. Map
  4. Playing options
  5. Purpose of the scenario
  6. Outline
  7. The map and ground
  8. Blue aim
  9. Blue forces
  10. Red aim
  11. Red forces
  12. The game setting
  13. Success Criteria
  14. Special Rules

Most of these sections are self explanatory and require no change when moving to Crossfire. A couple need a bit of elaboration within Crossfire.


Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks

In this post I use one scenario, Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks, to illustrate how things might work in Crossfire. I chose it for no other reason than I found a photo of the scenario on the internet.

Scenarios for All Ages 2 Threat to the Flank

Scenarios for All Ages 2 Threat to the Flank


Playing options

Playing options are the playing time and the period suitability. For Crossfire I need a scenarios that are suitable for World War II. However, just because the authors suggest a particular scenario is not appropriate for WW2 does not make it true. Potentially all the scenarios could be converted to Crossfire. You will also need to pick a period within WW2 as the orders of battle will vary from early (1939-42), to mid (1943), to late war (1944-45).

Playing time is given as Short (2 or 3 hours), Medium (a full evening), or Long (a full day or more). I’m really only interested in short games. The preference for short games will not limit my scenario selection but it affect how radically I tweak the scenario for Crossfire including table, orders of battle, and game clock.


Map

Each scenario has a map and the majority comprise a 7×5 grid. Presumably this grid corresponds to a 7′ x 5′ table. Most games are fought on the north-south axis so across the narrow part of the table.

Scenarios for All Ages 2 Threat to the Flank Map 7x5

Scenarios for All Ages 2 Threat to the Flank Map 7×5

The maps in the book only show the significant terrain. Typically some hills, villages/buildings, woods, and an optional river. These probably translate directly into the Crossfire equivalents. Hills probably become HTD contour lines, with other terrain on top. You’ll have to represent villages with a small number of buildings, perhaps only 2-3. Woods on the map will become one or more woods features in Crossfire, depending on how dense you want the woods to be; more dense means more woods features.

Given Crossfire is a terrain rich game, you’ll have to supplement with additional features. Fill the the blank space on the maps with include a mix of features: rough ground, fields, hedges, walls, and crests. Perhaps boulder fields and rock fields, depending on the setting. Make sure there are covered routes of approach as attacking across a big open space is boringly dangerous in Crossfire. That will require the judicious placement of terrain that blocks LOS e.g. hills, buildings, hedges, crests, boulder fields, and woods.

A 7′ x 5′ table is fine for a large Crossfire game (a battalion a side), although I admit I don’t have a 7′ x 5′ table. I do have an 8′ x 4′ table and I could convert the maps to that shape, but as I’m not interested in large games so much I won’t bother. For smaller games you’ll need to shrink the table. Squash it. Take the 7×5 map grid and transpose to a 4′ x 4′ table or 6′ x 4′ table. The Crossfire guideline is to use a 6’x 4′ table for a medium sized game (two companies a side).

Scenarios for All Ages 2 Threat to the Flank Map 6x4

Scenarios for All Ages 2 Threat to the Flank Map 6×4

Standard Crossfire guidelines are to use a 4′ x 4′ table for a small game (a company a side)

Scenarios for All Ages 2 Threat to the Flank Map 4x4

Scenarios for All Ages 2 Threat to the Flank Map 4×4


Forces

The scenarios give forces as a certain number of units of infantry, light infantry, cavalry and artillery. The distinction between infantry and light infantry became irrelevant in the twentieth century, so I’ll treat all infantry the same in Crossfire. Cavalry units become armour in Crossfire. Artillery units convert to either anti-tank guns or indirect fire weapons (mortars and artillery).

Full strength Force conversion

The authors advise “for the modern period, a suggested approach is to take units as troops or platoons” (p. vi). I like the recommendation that an “infantry unit” becomes a Crossfire “platoon”. Three platoons become a company. Nine platoons a battalion of three companies. Hand out the associated supporting assets for free; for the first platoon issue a HMG, for the second a mortar and for the third a company commander, etc. All commanders should be +1 and all troops okay command & control.

I think making a cavalry unit into a tank troop or platoon (3-5 vehicles) would be too generous in Crossfire. I suggest a cavalry unit becomes a single tank.

As a rule of thumb I suggest that a side with no armour, but facing armour, takes any artillery units as anti-tank weapons. Otherwise as indirect fire weapons. A unit becomes a single stand. Just choose something appropriate for the period of the game. I suggest a 50mm anti-tank gun for anti-tank weapons. For artillery I suggest the first unit converts to heavy artillery and subsequent ones to 75mm artillery or 120mm mortars.

Because indirect fire is so critical in Crossfire, I would ensure that all forces get a minimum amount of mortar or artillery support. Perhaps one FO for an off table 81mm mortar, or equivalent.

Using all the suggestions above, the order of battle for the Blue Force in Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks becomes quite big. Just under a battalion of infantry and four tanks. That is a large force in Crossfire terms although to Grant and Asquith this is just a medium game.

Blue Forces – Full Strength

  • Blue Main Force – Deployed at M
    • 2 x Rifle Companies
      • 1 x Company Commander (+1)
      • 1 x HMG
      • 1 x FO for off table 81mm mortar (12 FM)
      • 3 x Rifle Platoons
    • 2 x Tanks
    • 1 x FO for off table Heavy Artillery (4 FM)
  • Blue Flanking Force – Deployed at F
    • 2 x Rifle Platoons
    • 1 x HMG
    • 1 x FO for off table 81mm mortar (12 FM)
    • 1 x FO for off table 75mm guns (12 FM)
    • 2 x Tanks

Small, Medium, or Large forces

I suggest downscaling the forces to allow a small or medium sized game. This involves a bit of maths.

Add up the infantry units in the defending force. This is the original defender infantry strength. For example, in Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks Red has six infantry units.

OriginalDefenderInfantryStrength = 6

To scale the force down you need the scaling factor. To get the scaling factor divide the target defender infantry strength by the original defender infantry strength

ScalingFactor = TargetDefenderInfantryStrength / OriginalDefenderInfantryStrength

The target defender infantry strength, for a small game, is that the defender only has three infantry units in total. Six infantry units for a medium game. Nine for a large game.

For example, in Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks the scaling factor is 0.5 for a small game, 1.0 for a medium game and 1.5 for a large game.

SmallGameScalingFactor = 3 / OriginalDefenderInfantryStrength = 3 / 6 = 0.5
MediumGameScalingFactor = 6 / OriginalDefenderInfantryStrength = 6 / 6 = 1.0
LargeGameScalingFactor = 9 / OriginalDefenderInfantryStrength = 9 / 6 = 1.5

Continuing the small game example for Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks, you multiply everything in the order of battle by 0.5. That gives three infantry units, 1.5 cavalry units, and 1 battery of guns.

Given the medium game scaling factor for Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks is 1, the force from the Full Strength Force Conversion is appropriate for a medium game.

For a large version of Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks, you would multiply the forces by 1.5. That gives nine infantry units, 4.5 cavalry units, and three batteries of guns.

Then convert the defender force into a Crossfire force using the same guidelines as in Full Strength Force Conversion above, but using the reduced order of battle. Adjust for fraction of a unit in any way that makes sense, e.g.

  • Infantry Unit: add/remove a squad or HMG
  • Artillery Unit: add/remove FM and/or increase/decrease the calibre of the gun
  • Cavalry Unit: turn a tank into a light/heavy tank or armoured car.
  • Combine fractions

Then do the same thing for the attacker.

The order of battle that follows is for a small attacking Blue Force for Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks. With a scaling factor of 0.5, it is much, much smaller than the full strength equivalent.

Blue Forces – Small game

  • Blue Main Force – Deployed at M
    • 1 x Rifle Company
      • 1 x CC
      • 1 x HMG
      • 1 x FO for off table 81mm mortar (12 FM)
      • 3 x Rifle Platoons
    • 1 x Tank
  • Blue Flanking Force – Deployed at F
    • 1 x Rifle Platoon
    • 1 x HMG
    • 1 x FO for off table 75mm gun (12 FM)1
    • 1 x Tank

Notes:
(1) Both the main force and flanking force had an artillery unit. With a scaling factor of 0.5 this converts to a heavy artillery with 2 FM (out of 4) and an 75mm gun with 6 FM (out of 12). I choose to combine these into a single 75mm gun with 12 FM. I put this in the flanking force because the main force has an integration mortar.

Balancing Attacking and Defending forces

The scenarios usually give the attackers double the numbers of the defenders (100% additional forces), so the defenders need something to counterbalance the odds. There are a few options in Crossfire, each worth a certain percentage. Choose enough to get a balance game.

Percentage Defender compensation
50% hidden deployment
100% hidden deployment and revealed on a 1
50% one step morale difference: Green attackers versus Regular defenders; Regular attackers versus Veteran defenders
100% two step moral difference: Green attackers versus Veteran defenders
50% fortification package for each defending platoon including 1 SQ bunker, 1 minefield, and 3 wire.
50% Additional troops: (1) Add a rifle platoon and a HMG to each company or (2) a HMG to the company and a squad to each rifle platoon

Example, in Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks the attacker has only a modest advantage in numbers (11 units versus 14 units), so I would just allow the defender to be hidden (50%). In fact I might even be tempted to allow only the main force to be hidden as the flanking force are moving.


Force Aims and Success Criteria

Within the scenarios each force has an aim and the scenario also has success criteria. These align and basically say how the players can win.

For example, the force aims in Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks are:

Blue must defeat the Red force causing it to abandon its position and retire south
Red’s aim is to defeat the enemy and halt his advance southwards.

The Success Criteria for the scenario adds some detail:

Red will success if he holds his ground by nightfall preventing Blue from advancing south. For Blue, he must force Red to abandon his position and inflict as much damage on Red as possible. Blue cannot draw the battle and therefore must win or lose.

The most common objectives in Crossfire are Terrain and Casualty (AD) objectives. I suggest that “defeat” and “inflicting damage” become casualty objectives in Crossfire. “Abandon” and “hold ground” get turned into terrain objectives.

If terrain objectives are appropriate then use 1-3 terrain objectives depending on the size of the table and defender’s deployment zone. Control all terrain objectives by the end of the game and win. A player controls a terrain objective if their stand occupies the feature or was the last to occupy it, and the feature is/was not physically contested by the enemy.

A good rule of thumb for casualty objectives is that a force must sustain 60% casualties amongst its fighting stands to lose. Fighting stands include BC, CC, HMG, Rifle and SMG Squads, Tanks, Guns, but not PC or FOs. Tanks count as two fighting stands each.

Both objectives are better with a clock. Use the Moving Clock, give the game six game hours, and let the clock advance 30 minutes on 5+ at the end of each defender initiative.

The scenario Scenario 2: Threat to the Flanks combines all of this. The game starts six hours before nightfall and uses the moving clock. The player that controls the terrain objective on top of the big hill at the end of the game wins. The game ends when nightfall arrives or immediately when the either side suffers 60% casualties in fighting stands.

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References

Grant, C. S., and Asquith, S. A. (1996). “Scenarios for all Ages”. CSG Publications.

9 comments to Crossfire Scenarios for all Ages

  • Dick Bryant

    I love this! it is always great to have additional sources of inspiration for scenarios for any set of rules. One thing, though; Though implied in your write-up, you might empasize that at the end the scenario designer should apply your point system to insure balance and provide the final tweaks. And remember – no scenario survives first contact with a wargamer!
    Dick Bryant

  • jdalton3au

    Top class! many thanks Stephen.

  • Well reasoned article with details and design comments to translate H&M era to modern. The same in many ways you can change the time clock back from H&M to ancients. Many of those scenarios appeared in the old English modeling and early gaming magazines, collected in my gaming youth. A old treasure hunt through the magazine collection in the offering for this summer. Played Crossfire several times with friends. Generally I play FOW V3 with my sons and another gaming group… we use 20mm (1/72) for a different game and look experience too. Will check out the Balagan Point System for Crossfire too.

    Excellent Steven.

    Michael aka WR

    • Steven Thomas

      Thanks for dropping by Michael.

      The original Scenarios for All Ages are meant to be period agnostic. But they do have a Horse and Musket vibe. “Light Infantry” and “Cavalry” units being the obvious examples.

      But I do think they translate okay. Some better than others.

  • Julian Donohoe

    Great writing again Steven. I look forward to reading a couple AARs.

    Now, completely off topic, but I note that you were playing Neil Thomas’ One Hour Wargames rules for dark ages battles. Are those rules any different to Thomas’ Ancient and Medieval Wargaming and if so, have you tried the later?

  • Ian Francis

    Hi…not sure if this has been discussed or how it is resolved, but using the terrain objective in a small game I ran, as the clock moved towards the end, the attacker made a suicidal attempt to overpower the defending force on a hill, just to ‘win the game’ in the last minute.

    One possible idea I had was to get the defender to roll 2D6 at the beginning. This sets an arbitrary 2D6 minute deadline for the attacker to occupy the feature before the official ‘end of the game’. So this may be 2 minutes it might be 12 minutes. So the attacker doesn’t know when he must occupy the feature. So no suicidal charges!

    Has anyone found a way to get round this?

  • Steven Thomas

    The moving clock has a die roll involved already. So nobody know when the game will end, not exactly anyway. So I’m not sure how the 2d6 suggestion will improve things; just adds complication.

    If you find this suicidal charge is common then add in a casualty objective as well, for the defending side. Suicide invites casualties.

    However, I’m not sure it is needed. A suicidal attack is going to encourage the initiative to change more often. And that just increases the passing of time and brings on end of the game sooner.

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