Last week I posted Eye of the Tiger – A Crossfire Scenario. My mate Chris had suggested I convert this scenario from ASL to Crossfire and, although I had written up some notes on Converting Advanced Squad Leader to Crossfire, I’d never actually done it. So off I went. I found it wasn’t a straightforward conversion and I suspect any move from ASL to Crossfire will have similar challenges. To help those going down the same route I thought I’d share of the thinking that went into the process for this scenario – scenario design notes if you will.
Source ASL scenario
Eye of the Tiger – A Crossfire Scenario is based on the ASL scenario “WCW7 Eye of the Tiger” from Windy City Wargamers Color Scenario Pack 1996 ASL Open Tournament.
I applied my Guidelines for Converting ASL to Crossfire and a fair amount of judgement.
The ASL scenario has good material for the historical situation. I included the text from both the “Setting” and “Aftermath”.
The ASL scenario doesn’t have an explicit mission but it is obvious. The Germans are trying to take Tuckum on 20 August 1944.
The ASL Map gave me the most challenges. I spent an entire day doing the conversion to a Crossfire table.
The starting point was the ASL Board Configuration. Just the name of two boards (4, 42) and an implied orientation for both. The game is only played on a portion of the maps – the notes say “Only hexrows A-P on board 42 and R-GG on board 4 are playable” – but I wasn’t clear whether the playable area was the red bit or the white bit.
The first step was to reconstruct the ASL map. I did some Googling and found some images that claimed to be Board 4 and Board 42. But it is quite common to find only bits of boards and they usually have counters on top. It was only later I found the definite source for ASL Maps – just go there first.
The boards I used were partial and annotated but for my purposes they were fine. I (virtually) taped them together and figured out that the bit that is playable is actually the red bit on the ASL Board Configuration, not the white bit. The resulting map looks like this:
Then I discovered ASL overlays. If you look at the ASL Board Configuration you might notice annotations of “Wd2” and “B3”. I had no idea what they meant so ignored them. Then I found these mentioned in the ASL Special Rules section. They are overlays, meaning modifications to the standard ASL boards.
A bit more Googling and I found plausible overlays for both Wd2 and B3. I have to admit I’m not sure what I’m doing with ASL and its maps, so I stopped searching when I found “plausible”. With the two overlays the map now looked like this:
Now that I had the ASL board it was time to turn it into a Crossfire map/table. I normally assume a ground scale of 1:1000 in Crossfire so I had a quick look at what a table might look like at that scale. Bear in mind that officially a ASL hex is 40 metres across. At my normal scale the ASL map fits on a 3′ x 2′ table with room to spare.
As I mentioned in my Guidelines for Converting ASL to Crossfire Steve Burt recommends 2″ on table for each ASL hex. That gives a bigger table, 4′ x 3′, but still plenty of spare room.
For my first effort at a Crossfire map/table I stretched the ASL map to fit a 4′ x 3′ table perfectly. The guideline for Crossfire scenarios is to use a 4′ x 4′ table if the attacker has a single company, which is true in this scenario. I went for 4′ x 3′ rather than 4′ x 4′ because I didn’t want to stretch one dimension too much. As with all my recent maps, I drew the map in MS PowerPoint. At this scale a 3″ x 3″ building sector covers about four ASL hexes. The upshot is there are a lot less buildings.
The 4′ x 3′ Eye of the Tiger map would make an okay Crossfire table. Admittedly it would be a bit crowded, but okay. However, the main thing about Eye of the Tiger is the tank combat. So although there is only a single infantry company per side I figured I’m make a bigger table to give space for the armour. Halving the ground scale, to 1:500, suggests that the game will fit on a 6′ x 4′ table.
So I plunged into MS PowerPoint again to make a bigger map. This one looks about right. Notice that many of the Crossfire features, particularly woods, are bigger than the ASL equivalents. This is because Crossfire needs features to be a certain size – enough for a platoon – so I scaled up.
The Germans get a preplanned bombardment, presumably representing fire from the cruiser Prinz Eugen, which was off shore. The 280mm calibre of the gun gives it away.
I chose to give the Germans 6 Preplanned Bombardment Fire Missions.
I also chose to let the Russians deploy hidden. Which isn’t part of the ASL scenario but is a fairly common Crossfire device.
Orders of Battle
ASL scenarios are very specific about orders of battle, listing each counter.
The first thing to realise about the ASL orders of battle for Eye of the Tiger is that they are scaled down enormously. For example, the Soviets lost 48 tanks on the day but only get four in this scenario. Similarly for the Germans. Historically SS Panzer Brigade Gross consisted of two weak tank companies made up of old PzIII and IV tanks, the 103rd Heavy Tank Battalion (Tiger tanks) with Panzergrenadier support plus the ad hoc 1 SS Armoured Recon battalion. In this scenario the Germans get only one Tiger to represent the entire 103rd Heavy Tank Battalion. I don’t really like prorata orders of battle like this. If I’d started from scratch on this historical battle I would have used a different rule system rather than Crossfire. I’d have the entire SS Panzer Brigade Gross on table and appropriate Soviet forces to face them. .
Accepting the ASL orders of battle as they are, I didn’t know what some of the counters were, e.g. it took some Googling to discover that DC counters are “Demolition Charges”. I’ve annotated the ASL order of battle for those who aren’t too familiar with ASL.
Broadly speaking this is a company a side so I gave each side a company. Simple really. I stuck to my Guidelines for Converting Advanced Squad Leader to Crossfire for commander ratings, infantry support weapons and tanks. The big difference is I made the Germans “Veteran” and the Russians “Regular”.
I debated with myself about the number of rifle squads to give the Russians. The ASL order of battle has eight “Elite”, three ordinary and one crew counter. 12 total. They get three support weapons (MMG and two LMG) – all of these need to be crewed by normal counters. I’ve ended up giving them the normal 9 rifle squads for a rifle company of 1944. And in compensation for losing two squads for LMG crews they get a second HMG stand (the first was for the MMG). I think that’ll be fair but play testing will show.
For Russian PCs the modifiers are for both rallying and close combat; the normal rule that Russian PCs get +1 for close combat but not for rallying, does NOT apply. I quite like breaking the Crossfire stereotype that Russian commanders are poor.
I have added in indirect fire weapons to both sides. These are ineffective, hence rare, in ASL but effective/essential in Crossfire. Both sides got a couple of indirect fire weapons, of an appropriate type.
I wondered how to simulate support from the cruiser Prinz Eugen. I’ve included the Preplanned Bombardment but also an FO for what is effectively off table Heavy Artillery (2 FM; HE only). Play testing will reveal whether this is interesting / useful / accurate.
I’ve decided not to simulate the Demolition Charges. If I did then I’d give one rifle squad on each side a +1 in close combat.
I’ve kept the German vehicles from the ASL scenario, i.e. a Tiger, two Pz IV and two Puma armoured cars. Admittedly I’d have a problem if/when I play this scenario because I don’t have Pumas. At a pinch I’ll replace the Pumas with something else, maybe PZ IIIs.
The other relevant bit in the ASL scenario is the Balance section. I’ve no idea what this is for, but I decided to take the suggestion to replace the SU-85, which I don’t have, with a fourth T-34/76, which I do have.
In the ASL scenario the Russian sets up first and the German moves first. Same thing in the Crossfire scenario, with the added twist that the Russian deploys hidden. Hidden deployment is worth a 50% bonus however this is offset by the morale advantage of the attackers – the Germans are Veteran and the Russians are Regular.
According to the ASL Order of Battle:
- Soviet initial force “set up on/west of hexrow 4 on board 4 and anywhere on board 42”
- German forces “enter on the east edge of board 4 on turn one”.
- Soviet armoured reinforcements “enter on the west edge of board 42 on turn 1”.
I drew the the Soviet deployment line on my ASL map and transferred this to the Crossfire versions. The east/west edges are still the east/west edges.
Six turns is the standard ASL game duration and also the duration of this scenario.
Crossfire doesn’t use turns. The standard Crossfire game, using the Moving Clock, is 6.5 hours with the clock advancing 30 min on 5+ on one die, rolled at the end of each defender initiative. The historical situation mentions that the battle was basically over at 1700 hours so I put this as the end time and 6.5 hours earlier as the start (1030 hours).
The ASL scenario sets terrain objectives to be achieved within six turns (half the stone buildings) and casualty objectives for the Russians (they have to inflict more than 30 CVPs, presumably casualty victory points, on the Germans).
I don’t know what 30 CVPs are in ASL but I figure losing half the German force should be enough to cause a morale failure. Using my normal casualty points (2 CP for Armoured vehicles; 1 CP for CC, HMG, Rifle and SMG Squads, Guns; 0 CP for PC and FOs) each side has about 20 CP so I made 10 CP the cut off.
My maps don’t have different symbols for stone and wood buildings so I just flagged which building where objectives and which weren’t. There are 13 of these on my 6’x4′ Crossfire map so a player needs 7 to win.
Scenario Special Rules
The special rules in the ASL scenario have already been covered above, except for “EC are Moderate”. I’ve no idea what that means and am happy enough to ignore it.
Despite the fact the ASL scenario doesn’t mention them, I used several Crossfire special rules. Firstly the Moving Clock because I need to track game duration.
I’m also using the Bogging down rule from HTD. I want to encourage the vehicles to stick to the roads.
Lastly I’ve introduced a new special rule: Limited rifle ranges. The rule reads:
Limited rifle ranges apply. The line of fire of Rifle Squads are blocked by two features that normally do not block fire (e.g. walls, rough ground). The first such feature does not block line of fire, but any subsequent one does. This rule only applies to Rifle Squads and does not apply to other stands, e.g. HMG, vehicles.
ASL counters have ranges but Crossfire stands do not. That wouldn’t be too much of a problem except the eastern side of the table is fair open by Crossfire standards. Rather than introduce LOS blocking terrain – Crests spring to mind – I thought I’d just limit ranges. I’m considering this as a house rule anyway so this is an opportunity to experiment.
Observations and conclusions
Firstly, I found converting Eye of the Tiger from ASL to Crossfire a rather painful process. More painful than starting from scratch. In particular transforming the ASL board to a Crossfire map/table was time consuming. Normally it takes me about an hour to do a Crossfire map using MS PowerPoint. This one took 5 or 6 hours. Admittedly part of this was fumbling around on Google trying to get the ASL boards. But even after than it took a fair bit of time to mimic the ASL board at a scale that seemed to work and end up with a table that would give a good game.
The issue of map scale was a surprise to me. Eye of the Tiger has a small ASL board (I think). It uses half of two standard ASL boards. So at my normal ground scale of 1:1000 in Crossfire this resulted in a table only 3′ x 2′. That looked too small. I initially followed Steve Burt’s recommendation of (about) 2″ per ASL hex. This gave me a 4′ x 3′ table but with many ASL terrain features disappearing because each Crossfire building feature (for example) covered 4 ASL hexes.
The resulting table would have been fine for an infantry only bash but I thought it too small for the tank heavy forces involved so ended up with 6′ x 4′, i.e. half the nominal ground scale (1:500) and twice the table area. However, I cannot recommend using 1:500 for converting all ASL scenarios; it would make a single ASL board 12′ x 4′, i.e. far too big for a wargaming table. And imagine if the ASL scenario required two such boards; side by side they’d be 12′ x 8′!! No. Generally I think stickin to 1:1000 is a good idea when converting from ASL.
As I mentioned, I don’t like scenarios that scale the orders of battle. The ASL Eye of the Tiger does this to a huge degree, e.g. one Tiger tank represents a battalion! This doesn’t appeal to me and I would have used a different rule system, with a more appropriate figure-to-vehicle scale, to play this historical battle. Accepting that the conversion of the ASL order of battle to Crossfire was fairly straight forward. Only play testing will reveal how balanced the resulting scenario is.
Generally my Guidelines for Converting Advanced Squad Leader to Crossfire were useful. I might add in a bit on Demolition Charges.
Now that I’ve made the scenario, I hope to play it with Chris Harrod. After all, it was his suggestion.