Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Crossfire

The Crossfire Discussion forum often fields questions from new comers to Arty Conliffe’s Crossfire (and its supplement Hit the Dirt). I’ve noticed a pattern to the questions so thought a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section would make life easier: You might also be interested in my House Rules and Musings on Crossfire, many of which elaborate on the issues described here.

I’d like to thank the guys on the Crossfire Discussion forum for the lively discussions that made this FAQ possible, and, in fact, for many of the words that appear below.

Why play Crossfire or what makes it so good?

Crossfire appeals to its fans for any or all of the following reasons. It:

  • Looks good because of the masses of terrain.
  • Allows for a very dynamic game unmatched by anything else out there on the market.
  • Has fluid and natural movement rules.
  • Allows you, actually forces you, to focus on tactics.
  • Makes you think in terms of covered approaches and where your squads are in relation to each other.
  • Means if you plan your attack poorly you will become bogged down very quickly.
  • Means if you setup poorly you will be flanked and close-assaulted before you can blink an eye.
  • Allows the Defender to easily become the Attacker (and vice versa).
  • Means you can play without thinking about the rules at all.
  • Won’t appeal to Rules Lawyers, i.e. no endless rules debates and no rulers.
  • Requires few figures, but can scale if you want it.

You might also want to have a look at:

What makes Crossfire “Company Level”?

The introduction to the rules says “Crossfire focuses on company-level, infantry operations” and the back cover says the rules include “53 Company-Level Organizations”. This leads to statements such as “the game is best played at company-level”, but the question is, what is company-level?

A company per side will give fast, enjoyable games, but much larger battles are also possible. Bear in mind the “53 Company-Level Organizations” mentioned on the back cover are actually predominantly battalion organisations, not companies. Similarly, in Hit the Dirt most scenarios are for battalions, Tim Marshall has a number of large scenarios on his website, and I’ve a few large scenarios as well, including Krasny Bor where four Russian Divisions are pitted against five Spanish Battalions of the Blue Division. So company-level doesn’t mean a company per side, although when playing a large game with multiple players, it makes sense to give each player about a company.

In fact company-level refers to the level of decision making the author is trying to put the player into. As Tim Marshall explains it, there is a time honoured military axiom that a commander concerns himself with sub units two levels down. In Crossfire the smallest manoeuvre unit is a squad, so, based on this axiom, the decision making is focused two levels up with the Company Commander, hence “company-level”.

saladin_27 explained on the Yahoo Group: Crossfire WWII why Crossfire is not a squad level game:

CF is a company level game where the meaningful maneuver unit is the platoon. Squads
are represented to show how the platoon can deploy in different formations and different terrain.
That’s exactly the same as portraying a Napoleonic battalion as individual company stands that can
be arranged in line or column or square – just translated to the modern era. The problem is that
because you resolve combat on a squad basis, it’s easy to get sucked into the idea that you’re
playing a squad-level game and start adding detail until you end up with a completely different
game.

What is the time scale?

Crossfire is “a fast-paced simulation of shifting tactical initiative, where the action unfolds like a film highlighting the critical events of a battles” (Excerpt from the Introduction). In other words there is no specific time scale, or more accurately, there is a non-linear time scale. Because Crossfire runs on events rather than specific finite points in time, a lot can happen on the table without much time passing by, or time can pass by quickly (if you are using HTD’s moving clock rules) without many events. As a simulation of an endeavour which is “large amounts of boredom punctuated by brief moments of terror”, Crossfire concentrates on the terror and glosses over the boredom. Think scenes in a movie rather than watching a CCTV.

See further musings on Time page, including good examples of non-linear Time Scale by Nikolas Lloyd and Tim Marshall.

What figure scale do people use?

The Crossfire Discussion forum regularly polls its members about the figure scales used. The summary is:

Scales 2000 (77) 2003 (28) 2004 (41) 2005 (52) 2007 (42) 2009 (39)
Smaller 11% 21% 17% 17% 5% 15%
10-12mm 10% 0% 0% 9% 10% 8%
15mm 34% 25% 39% 28% 40% 23%
20mm 31% 43% 29% 40% 38% 38%
25-28mm 13% 11% 12% 3% 5% 13%
Larger 0% 0% 2% 0% 2% 3%

Note that the 2003 poll only allowed a single selection, but the others allowed multiple selections.

How many figures will I need?

Assuming you’re using the official basing recommendations, a good start is a company a side, which means about 35 figures a side. Bigger games will involve more figures. The basing approach you use will also affect how many figures you’ll need.

How should I base my figures?

CF1.0 Prepare to Play, Subsection Basing Your Miniatures, p. 1

Crossfire makes some recommendations for 15-20mm figures. These are, however, just recommendations so you can change them, and you probably will have to if you are not using 15mm. Just remember a stand width is a significant measure in Crossfire.

Stand Base Size Number of Figures
Squad 1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″ 3 (2 for larger figures)
HMG 1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″ 2 + MG on tripod
PC 5/8″ wide x 1-1/4″ deep 1
CC 1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″ 2
BC 1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″ 3
FO 5/8″ wide x 1-1/4″ deep 1
Gun / Mortar 1-1/4″ wide x as deep as needed Unspecified

See my basing approach and how other people base figures including for different scales.

How are infantry anti-tank teams based?

CF11.3 Bazooka Fire
CF14.0 Bonus Selections

“A Squad (not-Heavy Weapons crews) may be armed with a Bazooka type weapon. These include: Bazookas, Piats, Panzerfausts, Panzershrecks and Anti-tank Rifles” (p. 19). If you are using the points system then providing a squad with such a infantry anti-tank weapon (IAT) costs additional points.

Different people represent which squad has an IAT weapon differently. My lot use red dots on the back edge of the stand. Other people put the appropriate figures on the stand. Yet other people use a IAT team on a separate stand as a marker to be placed next to the appropriate squad. And still other people fight the IAT team as a separate combat unit similar to a HMG – but that isn’t standard Crossfire any more.

How much terrain will I need?

CF4.4 Feature Capacity/Protective Cover, p. 5
Scenario Generator, p. 31
Scenario Generator, Terrain Arrangement / Density example, p. 31

You’ll need a lot of terrain. Crossfire suggests you aim to have 1/3 of the table being covered by features. Given a terrain feature should be large enough to contain 4-6 stands (CF4.4) the minimum size of a terrain feature in Crossfire is roughly 4″ x 4″. You can, however, have bigger – I find 8″ x 8″ for a single feature about the limit. Structures are a bit different because each section should be the same size (4″x4″ or 3″x3″), so bigger structures actually have several sections. You’ll have about 50 terrain features on a 4′ x 4′ table, and 75 on a 6′ x 4′ table.

For example, the following map is the 4′ x 4′ table from my scenario for novices: There are about 50 features, and they range from being 3″ x 3″ building sectors through roughly 4″ diameter features to a large wood which is about 8″ across.


Example Terrain Density

See also Terrain Scale and Full List of Terrain Features possible in Crossfire.

Are real terrain features represented 1:1 on the table?

No. A single real-world terrain feature can be presented by more than one terrain feature on the table (e.g. woods) or several real-world features can be grouped together as one on the table (e.g. buildings) .

Each wood feature in Crossfire represents the amount of terrain it takes to block sight. This may take some re-thinking of your concept of terrain. If you want blocking terrain on your table then you should use many small features – representing a dense wood. A few large features represents a relatively open wood. But remember that even the gaps between woods features are still part of the real world wood; they are simulated as open space because they are relatively open compared to other areas.


Open, Moderate and Dense Woods

Similarly real field are not necessarily laid out as a one field feature. Some players routinely replace a real field by three field features, so a platoon cannot cross the whole field in a one move, if opposed.

Given Crossfire’s implied ground scale a 3″ building sector is somewhere between 25 m and 125 m along a side. This could be a single building – particularly at the lower ground scale – but could also be a group of buildings and the area between.

Why is so much Terrain needed?

The wide open spaces found in other wargames are not found in Crossfire, and people sometimes wonder why, and challenge the realism of this. Essentially at the level of representation of Crossfire, “clear” and “flat” ground is always broken up unless it actually represents an ice rink. This is because a combat infantry man will view a piece of terrain quite differently to a member of the general public (including most wargamers). A couple of quotes from ex-military types illustrate this:

Lucas (1982) has this to say about the Western Desert:: “Contrary to popular belief the desert is not flat so that there is always dead ground” (p. 73).

Tim Marshall (Crossfire Discussion forum, Thu 23/03/2006 19:29):

Talk to anyone with even an introduction to real infantry training and he’ll look at something like a soccer field and see rises and runs all along it. A bit of an exaggeration, of course, but an infantryman’s survival depends on little dips and bumps in terrain. One of the illusions of many wargames is that infantry “advance” neatly along lines measured by players. They don’t. An AFV crew commander is also trained to do the same thing with his vehicle. Indeed, when I was in training, what failed you (and the officer’s armour course training had a staggering 40% failure rate, second only to the pilot training our officer cadets did) was doing an improper “ground appreciation”, ie, what is your destination, what is the best covered route, alternate route if fired upon while moving and so on. It is actually very hard to do for someone green like an officer candidate taken off the street or after 2nd year military college, as compared to the non-commissioned guys who got gradual experience at what “tank sense” was all about throughout their careers before moving on to crew commander schools.

I can’t emphasize the above enough. I think that’s what CF captures beautifully. I’ve used CF to give table top training exercises to real commanders and there was absolutely no disconnect from translating real considerations from the table to battle procedure.

Joe Fish (Crossfire Discussion forum, Sun 26/03/2006 02:06):

Hardest thing in [US] FA [Field Artillery] school was judging distances by looking for terrain ‘clues’ like dips, intermittent streams, small rises. There is almost nowhere you find ‘clear’ terrain if you know what to use for cover.

See also Crossfire is unsuitable for flat terrain, right?

Sources:

Lucas, J. (1982). War in the Desert: the Eight Army at El Alamein.

Crossfire is unsuitable for “flat” terrain, right?

People often state that Crossfire is only suitable for close terrain, in particular for built up areas, and that it is useless for games in the desert, steppes, and such like. There are actually several related questions here, which have to be looked at separately:

  • Does Crossfire accurately represent combat with little cover?
  • Is a scenario with little cover fun to play?
  • What to do if you actually want to fight in “flat” terrain?

A scenario representing a British charge across no mans land in WWI won’t be much fun for the attacker – and the more accurate the rules, the less fun it will be. I’d suggest this is just a bad scenario, so don’t try to recreate such situations in a Crossfire game.

Charging across open ground was historically suicidal and in fact Crossfire reflects this quite accurately. German HMG fire will cut down the charging British in a Crossfire game, just as they did in reality – but unfortunately the British player won’t enjoy the process.

There are, however, a wealth of possible scenarios in supposedly “flat” terrain – the thing to remember is that “flat” terrain doesn’t mean flat like a billiard table. What you need for a good game is covered approaches for the attacker and this is possible in both steppes and desert terrain. For example, Bidermann (2000) described the steppes terrain he fought through in these terms:

  • “Endless open space with only occasional clusters of sparse trees stretching to the horizon” (p. 15-16).
  • “Thatched-roofed huts of the collective farms.” (p. 16) and “straw-thatched huts of the collective” (p. 21).
  • “Wood-framed schoolhouses” (p. 16).
  • “Primitive wooden windmills dotted the horizon” (p. 17).
  • “An immense open field lay before us, and our view extended over the steppe, which offered little protection save gently rolling terrain with shallow depressions invisible to the untrained eye” (p. 19).
  • When describing a wheat field: “The waving green sea, interrupted only by sparse potato gardens” (p. 19).
  • “Hedgerow” (p. 20).
  • “A small rise” which in fact had a concealed minefield on it (p. 24).
  • A “railway embankment” which was “along the edge of a small grove of trees” (p. 29).
  • “A small wood” (p. 30).
  • “Uneven hills and deep ravines, the ‘balkas'” (p. 30).
  • “A small valley lined with birch trees and heavy undergrowth” (p. 30).
  • “The small depressions lined with bushes and birch trees” (p. 33).
  • “Undulating terrain” (p. 32).
  • By October “the crops had been harvested; tall haystacks and threshing machines dotted the landscape” (p. 47).

Hans Meier-Welcker of the 251st Infantry Division described the Russian countryside he fought through as (Jones, 2009, p. 17):

A green, spacious and open country, with meadows, cornfield,
fallow land and farmhouses. There are moorlands, sand, dirt tracks.

Lucas (1982) has this to say about the Western Desert:

  • “It is a belief, widely held but quite erroneous, that the whole of the desert territory of Libya and Egypt is one huge expanse of golden sand dunes – the name ‘Western Desert’ might seem to support that belief. In the deep south of both countries, there are indeed stretches of such terrain, but the surface over which fighting took place is grit, a dirty, grey brownish crust, the product of centuries of erosion of the lime-stone rock that covers much of the area.” (p. 50)
  • “Contrary to popular belief the desert is not flat so that there is always dead ground” (p. 73).
  • “Ridges”/”crests”/”djebels”, shear cliffs, low “hills” (max 100 m), shallow “depressions”, “shale and rock”, and during an infantry attack going “up the [enemy held] slope moving from rock to rock”.

Special Rule 2 – Crests, from Hit the Dirt, seems particularly appropriate for both environments as “a Crest, on the game board, represents the minor undulations that even the flattest terrain has – those tiny folds that allow a squad or more to hide themselves even when they’re apparently sitting in the open.” (p. iii)

So if you want to play in nominally “flat” terrain you actually have considerable scope for putting terrain on the table. Just aim for a table that looks right and gives the attacker covered approaches, and make sure the scenario is fun for both sides. See my musings on how to do this in the Desert.

Sources:

Bidermann, G. H. (2000). In Deadly Combat: A German soldier’s memoir of the Eastern Front (D. S. Zumbro, Trans.). University Press of Kansas.

Lucas, J. (1982). War in the Desert: the Eight Army at El Alamein.

What scenario to use for my first game?

Use an attack-defence game on a 4’x4′ table with two players and a simple objective (e.g. “capture the ruined farmhouse on the hill”) and only infantry. The more experienced player should defend. Use US/UK/Commonwealth troops to get experience with limited command and control. Don’t use hidden deployment.

Force composition depends on the experience of the players with Crossfire:

Crossfire Novice Attacking: 1 Company of Veteran US/UK/Commonwealth troops including a HMG and a 3″ mortar

Crossfire Novice Defending: 2 Platoons of Veteran Germans plus a HMG and mortar

Crossfire Expert Defending: 2 Reduced Platoons (PC + 2 Squads) of Regular Germans plus a HMG and mortar

These orbats assume only a modest about of “hints” from the experienced player.

I have written a specific Scenario for Novices based on these suggestions. Nikolas Lloyd also has a scenario for novices on his website.

How do I know if I’ve won?

Crossfire lacks generic victory conditions as it assumes a scenario will have specific victory conditions. Several types of objective are possible: Terrain, Casualty, Breakthrough, Raid, Recce. These can be combined. For example a scenario might have victory conditions combining both Terrain and Casualty (D) objectives:

  • Terrain objective: The attacker wins if his forces occupy the three marked features at scenario’s end.
  • Casualty (D) Objective: In addition the scenario ends automatically in a win for the defender if the attackers accrue 14 casualty points (CP):

+1 Each lost Squad, Heavy Weapon, or CC
+2 Each lost AFV

Victory conditions often involve some kind of game clock. I have outlined some variations on Hit the Dirt’s Moving Clock. Example:

Special Rule: Clock ticks are in use. The Clock advances 1d6 clock ticks at the end of each initiative of the Defender. The game ends when the Clock gets to 240 clock ticks. The attacker gets reinforcements after 120 clock ticks and again after 130 clock ticks. Each clock tick is nominally 3 minutes of game time.

Why are there no morale rules for platoon, company, battalion?

For better or worse, Crossfire assumes the victory conditions of the scenario will include morale rules for units larger than a squad, i.e. for platoon, company and/or battalion. There are several types of objective possible (Terrain, Casualty, Breakthrough, Raid, Recce) and of these Casualty objectives are essentially morale rules. Examples of Casualty objectives are:

  • The scenario ends automatically in a win for the defender if the attackers accrue 14 casualty points (CP):

+1 Each lost Squad, Heavy Weapon, or CC
+2 Each lost AFV

  • Each side gets +1 victory point (VP) for each enemy Squad, Heavy Weapon, or CC they kill. A side wins if they achieve the following VP total and the enemy doesn’t achieve their own goal; otherwise it is a draw. .

Attackers goal 12 VP
Defenders goal 8 VP

What is a “squad”?

CF2.2 Heavy Weapons, p. 1-2

Crossfire is a bit loose with the term “squad”. Sometimes “squad” means a Rifle Squad or SMG Squad specifically, but sometimes it can mean any stand. The rules say “the term Squad will be used to describe game procedure that apply equally to both Squad and Heavy Weapons stands” (p. 2), but in fact the rules seem to use the term for any stand, i.e. Rifle Squad, SMG Squad, HMG, PC, CC, BC, FO, gun, mortar, or tank. This can be a little confusing, but if you keep these two possible meanings in mind when reading the rules, you can usually figure out what is intended in each section.

Is Crossfire IGOUGO?

Well it depends on what you mean by I-GO-YOU-GO. Most people say “no” because Crossfire lacks the fixed phases in a linear sequence of many game systems.

Steve Spence put forward a counter argument when he reported on the Crossfire Forum:

I’m explaining Crossfire! mechanics to a new player.

Me: ‘So, it’s my initiative and your base has just reactively fired at my moving group and missed.
Now it’s ‘No Fire’.’
New Player: ‘For how long?’
Me: ‘Until you get the initiative.’
NP: ‘You mean, until my go?’
Me: ‘Well, until you have the initiative’.
NP: ‘Can I do anything whilst I don’t have the initiative?’
Me: ‘Not with that base, no’.
NP: ‘So, it’s inert for the rest of YOUR go but I can do whatever I want with it in MY go?’
Me: ‘Er, Crossfire! isn’t an IGOUGO game’.
NP (who is Glaswegian): ‘Aye, that’ll be right’

Steve then went on to say:

Crossfire is an I GO YOU GO game. It is not an IGOUGO game with fixed phases in a linear sequence, like Flames of War, it is an IGOUGO game of variable bound length where bound transition is event-driven. A limited subset (very limited: instance of 1) of possible bound-ending events are triggered by the ‘overwatch’ rule that allows reactive fire. However, there are at least two, significant attributes of the game that are classic fixed-phase mechanics: my no-fire stands WILL stop being no-fire at the end of your go; my smoke-screen WILL vanish at the end of your NEXT go.

There is no simultaneous movement – I can’t be redeploying my reserve stands whilst you are moving your front-line squads. There are indeed temporally linear subdivisions within any initiative: I fire to suppress your overwatch stand THEN I move my light mortar, put smoke down in front of your MMG, THEN move my assault squad to the flank…The order is not proscribed by the rules, but the fact that YOU can do all of these things but the non-phasing player CANNOT is an absolute.

Crossfire has some smashing innovations to mask the limitations of IGOUGO, but it is disingenuous to claim that it is anything but.

IGOUGO is just a definition (perhaps a poorly expressed one). What is important is how the game plays. My own experience is that Crossfire is very involving for both the phasing and non-phasing players. Of course the phasing player is doing stuff: moving, firing, rallying. However the non-phasing player is always on the lookout for moving troops blundering into reactive fire zones, minefields or an ambush. And hoping the phasing player will take a particularly risky action hence lose the initiative, e.g. rifle stand firing into cover, green stand rallying from suppression, etc. So there are IGOUGO aspects but it doesn’t feel like IGOUGO – at least not to me – because it both players are fully engaged all the time.

Initiative is really easy to lose, right?

CF3.1 Actions, p. 3

Initiative is, in fact, lost rather easily. The most common cause is firing at stands in cover; even with a group fire it is difficult to get that suppression effect with just two dice. Other ways to lose initiative: passing the initiative, Reactive Fire when you Move, failure when Rallying, Close combat, Recon by Fire, crossing Barbed Wire or Minefields.

What is an action?

CF2.3.3 Killed Commanders, subsection Killed PCs, p. 2
CF3.0 Initiative and Squad Action, p. 3
CF8.0 Close Combat, p.14-15
CF10.1 Minefields, p. 16-17
CF10.2 Barbed Wire, p. 17

Phasing players take actions until one of the actions fails, or they player passes. Page 3 lists some possible actions:

  • Move
  • Retreat Move
  • Ground Hugging
  • Standing Up (variant of Move)
  • Direct Fire
  • Recon by Fire
  • Rally
  • Indirect Fire

But this list is not complete as other sections of the rules mention other actions:

  • Close combat
  • Removing Mines/Wire
  • Replacing killed PCs

And Hit the Dirt adds:

  • Unbogging

How far can I move?

CF4.1 Movement Actions, p. 3-4

You can move as far as you like, within the constraints set by the terrain. You cannot, however, in one move action, enter a terrain feature then leave the same terrain feature. That means a move can be:

  • feature to feature, or
  • open space to feature, or
  • feature to open space, or
  • between two spots in the same open space (without intervening terrain).

Is a Pivot a separate move action?

CF4.1 Movement/Actions, p3-4
CF11.1 Vehicular Actions, Subsection “Example”, p. 18

Not necessarily. Although CF4.1 is ambiguous, Arty has made his intention clear in official rule clarifications.

CF4.1 is misleading because the second bullet point suggests Pivots are always separate move actions, which is not the case. The offending bullet point reads:

“A squad may move only in the direction it is facing. A Pivot is a turning movement which permits a Squad to face a new direction. Pivoting alone counts as a Move Action. A Squad may Pivot up to 180°” (p. 4)

In fact a single Move action for an infantry stand can have any of the following formats:

  • A pivot
  • A move straight ahead
  • A pivot followed by a move straight ahead

The “Move Action Example” illustrates the latter type of move:

“The Phasing Player wishes to Move a Squad. He indicates the path, Pivots if necessary, then moves straight to the endpoint.” (p. 4)

Reactive Fire can occur during either component of the move action, i.e. during the pivot or the straight ahead move, but it can only occur once.

CF11.1 makes it clear that vehicles are different to infantry in terms of move actions. Vehicles either Pivot or Move straight ahead, they can’t do both as part of a single move action.

Do all nominated stands have to move in a Group Move?

CF4.2 Group Movement, subsection Group move Procedures, p. 5

Yes. Although CF4.2 is ambiguous, Arty has made his intention clear in official rule clarifications.

CF4.2 is ambiguous because it says “The Phasing player indicates any Squad/HMG, PC or CC as the Group Leader (GL). All other Squads/HMGs within 1 stand of the GL are also eligible to move”. Eligible suggests the player can decide which stands to include as the group move progresses; this is not the case.

A Group Move is a simultaneous move, although stands are moved one at a time to make life easier. Before any stands move you must specify which of the “eligible” stands are going to participate. Those participating must all try to move, regardless of what happens with reactive fire to stands that move earlier.

Why is there no spotting rule?

CF4.4 Feature Capacity/Protective Cover, p. 5
CF5.0 Spotting, p. 7

The answer is, there is! In Crossfire spotting is more implicit than explicit. The explicit rule (p. 7) is that if there is line of sight (LOS) the target is spotted, however, most players understand spotting in this context means the viewing stand has a chance to see the target, not that spotting is guaranteed. Bear in mind that Crossfire does not distinguish between concealment and actual cover when giving Protective Cover (p. 5) – the two types of protection are lumped together. This means that most players believe that missing the target in direct fire includes the chance that the shooter didn’t actually see the target after all (i.e the target was not spotted because it was successfully concealed even if in LOS). Similarly missing due to not noticing the target is one of the possible causes of NO FIRE.

Can the terrain feature a stand occupies ever block line of sight (LOS) to/from that stand?

CF5.2 Line of Sight “LOS”, p. 7
Scenario Generator, Terrain Arrangement / Density example (p. 31)

No. A stand can see from one feature to another, and anywhere in between. LOS is blocked by “intervening” terrain, i.e. the LOS must enter and exit the blocking terrain. Some terrain, e.g. rough ground, doesn’t block LOS. The picture includes several types of terrain and stand positions, indicating which stands are visible (Red) to the Blue Stand and which aren’t (Red shaded)


Line of Sight
The blue stand can see all the solid red stands

See also my description of all terrain types, and Terrain Scale for a discussion of what terrain represents and open versus dense terrain.

Can you see over other terrain from a hill?

CF4.4 Feature Capacity/Protective Cover, p. 5
HTD Contour Lines, p. V.

Standard Crossfire hills provide very little LOS advantage, however, Contour Lines of Hit the Dirt offer somewhat more.

Hills: Block LOS. Protective Cover from Direct Fire only. HD capable AFVs can go hull down. Stands on Hills can see into depressions.

Contour Lines: Block LOS if cross 2 contour lines forming a ridge. Higher stands can see over lower hedges (and walls), and crests; in this situation hedges (and walls) provide protective cover as normal, but crests do not. Contour Lines can contain other terrain features. Being on a Hit the Dirt style hill formed from contour lines provides no protective cover, and is not a feature for hidden deployment purposes. If you want cover, or you want to deploy hidden on the hill formed by Contour Lines, then put other features on top.

Note These two types of hill are not intended to be used together. If you do use both on the same table then treat each Hill as a Contour Line with Rough Ground on top.

See also my description of all terrain types.

Why can I shoot through a tank?

CF5.2 Line of Sight “LOS”, p. 7
CF6.6 Direct Fire Prohibitions/Blocked Fire, p.12
CF7.0 Indirect Fire, subsection Forward Observers (FOs), p.13

In terms of Line of Fire and Line of Sight, Crossfire doesn’t distinguish between tanks and other stands (although this is confused by the loose use of the term Squad). To summarize, you can’t shoot through friendly stands, but can shoot through enemy stands, of any type. Similarly a FO can target a point even if his LOS passes through a stand, even a tank. The specific rules related to this are:

  • “LOS is not Blocked by friendly or enemy squads” (p. 7).
  • Indirect Fire “may attack only a spotted target Squad to which its FO has LOS” (p. 13).
  • “Direct fire may not be fired through any portion of a friendly Squad” … “Enemy Squads never ‘block’ friendly fire” (p. 12).

In terms of justification, then have a look at ground scale, and bear in mind that generally the real tank represented by a Crossfire tank model actually occupies a fraction of the space the model occupies.

Are Bocage features different to (normal) Hedges?

CF4.4 Feature Capacity/Protective Cover, Subsection Bocage/Hedges/Walls, p. 5
CF5.2 Line of Sight “LOS”, p. 7
Quick Reference Sheet

Some people think that all Hedges are Bocage, however, Crossfire does distinguish Bocage from other Hedges. CF4.4 and the Quick Reference Sheet make it clear that:

  • Bocage is impassable to vehicles, block LOS, and provide protective cover.
  • (Normal) Hedges block LOS and provide protective cover.
  • Walls just provide protective cover.

Unfortunately, CF5.2 confuses the issue with the second bullet point saying “LOS is blocked by… …Bocage Hedges, and…”. This reference does not mention (normal) Hedges or Walls at all. This is probably a typo and a comma is missing; it should read: “LOS is blocked by… …Bocage, Hedges, and…”, .

Why does a garden hedge block LOS and a 10′ stone wall doesn’t?

CF4.4 Feature Capacity/Protective Cover, Subsection Bocage/Hedges/Walls, p. 5
CF6.6 Direct Fire Prohibitions/Blocked Fire, p.12

CF4.4 and the Quick Reference Sheet make it clear that:

  • Bocage is impassable to vehicles, block LOS, and provide protective cover.
  • (Normal) Hedges block LOS and provide protective cover.
  • Walls just provide protective cover.

Attempting to second guess Arty is a bit problematic, but some people believe that Hedges/Walls represent different heights/strengths of linear obstacle rather than different materials. Tying the height/strength to a particular type of feature (Hedge/Wall) simply makes it easier for table top recognition. With this in mind:

Wall = Low/small walls and hedges – that delay movement and provide protective cover but don’t block LOS. (Really flimsydecrepit obstacles wouldn’t be represented on the table at all, e.g. a wooden fence.)

Hedge = High/solid walls and hedges possibly with associated earth bank and/or ditch – that delay movement, provide protective cover, and block LOS. Bocage is a subclass of this category.

By the way, the rules do seem to have a typo regarding hedges: Clearly the two following rules are contradictory, and “hedges” should be removed from the list on p.12.

  • CF4.4.says ‘hedges block LOS’ (p. 5)
  • CF6.6 says ‘… hedges… never block any fire’ (p. 12)

Where do you have to be to get protective cover from a Bocage/Hedge/Wall feature?

CF4.4 Feature Capacity/Protective Cover, Subsection Bocage/Hedges/Walls, p. 5

CF4.4 makes it clear that a Bocage/Hedge/Wall provides protective cover, and although it isn’t explicit, this probably applies to both Direct and Indirect fire. Trouble is Crossfire just doesn’t say where the stand has to be to get protective cover from a linear feature. The simplest assumption is that a stand gets protective cover from:

Direct Fire if touching a Bocage/Hedge/Wall and LOS from the shooter crosses the feature.

Indirect fire if touching a Bocage/Hedge/Wall irrespective of LOS from the FO.

If a target stand is not touching a Bocage/Hedge and LOS crosses the feature, the LOS is blocked and the stand is not a legal target.

Note: Some people play a house rule that a stand can be inside Bocage (but not other hedges),

Why can stands keep shooting forever?

In short they can’t. Just looking on the surface it does seem odd that a single stand could keep firing, but in reality the odds are against you pulling it off. Most rifle squads will get 1 or 2 shots off before finally missing and either losing the initiative or going NO FIRE. There is the occasional time where a stand goes ‘hero’ and keeps dishing it out, but it’s rare. Now HMG stands are another matter, but you should be suppressing, covering with smoke, or flanking HMG’s. Charging a firing HMG in the open was suicide and the game reflects this well.

What is NO FIRE?

CF6.2.1 Reactive Fire, Subsection Reactive Fire Limitations and “NO FIRE”, p. 9

NO FIRE represents any number of conditions including but not limited to:

  • Being caught with their pants down.
  • Failing to spot the moving units.
  • Poor morale meaning the unit fails to fire at the critical moment
  • A machine gun having to change barrels
  • Ammo running low.
  • Being silenced through opposing suppressing fire.
  • Continuing to pump lead into empty ground, possibly as the original target outflanks it.
  • Being so focused on one target the shooting stand can’t bring effective fire on any other enemy units.

Bear in mind that that we’re not talking about the failure to take a shot, we’re talking about failure to bring effective fire – in fact a better term for this concept would be NO EFFECTIVE FIRE or NO FIRE EFFECT.

Ultimately it is a game mechanism to enable attackers to push home an attack.

What happens with NO FIRE in a Group Fire?

CF6.2.1 Reactive Fire, Subsection Examples of Reactive Fire, Example 2, p. 9

An example is perhaps best. If a platoon of three squads is reactive firing at an enemy, and two of the three squads fail to pin (or suppress or kill), but the third one is successful, the first two are “NO FIRE”, but the remaining squad is not.

How many dice does a group fire use?

CF6.4 Fire Procedures, p. 10
CF6.4.1 Crossfires, p. 10

All stands in a group fire shoot, but they don’t shoot all together. For example, when three rifle stands group fire, you don’t throw the 9d6 all together (6d6 into cover); instead each stand makes it own attack with 3d6 (2d6 into cover). The advantage of group fire is not that you throw more dice, but that if any shooting stands suppress or kill, then initiative is retained, and all stands have the option to fire again. Contrast this to reactive fire, where any shooting stands that fail to pin or better go NO FIRE.

If a platoon gets attacked from the rear, how many can shoot?

CF6.4a Firegroup/Crossfire limitations, p. 10

If you have a platoon of three squads and they get attacked from the rear, only one squad may reactive fire. This is because stands may only participate in group fire if firing forward (front 180 degrees).

The diagram shows how many stands of this platoon in line that get to shoot where. As you can see the flanks and rear are restricted to one stand. (See my musing of LOF for platoons.)

Platoon’s Line of Fire

The exception are Rifle/SMG squads in buildings shoot 360º – you just can’t sneak up on them.

Can commanders be the target of Reactive Fire?

CF6.3 Target Proximity (for Phasing Fire only), p. 9

Yes. Target proximity is waived for reactive fire – check out the “Exception” in CF6.3. That means that a PC/CC/BC or even FO can be targets of reactive fire, even if moving inside a terrain feature with other squads that are closer to the reactive firer.

Why does reactive fire ignore target priority?

CF6.3 Target Proximity (for Phase Fire only), p. 9

Phasing Fire must obey the target priority rules but Reactive Rire doesn’t. You can think of Reactive Fire as an abstract form of ‘friction’ against activities performed by the enemy, while Phasing Fire is used to represent actual controlled and initiated action by your forces against the enemy. When you Reactive Fire you are just providing the general effect of fire from your side against the enemy – the fact that you rolled 3D for Joe Boggs Rifle Section isn’t that critical – it might be they are only half firing and some other fire is incoming from elsewhere – but they are just the key arbitrary point chosen to resolve the effect of that fire and any general ‘friction’ that might interdict the enemy’s activity… While Phasing fire is representing a calculated controlled specific attack by your units on a defined point of the enemy line, etc – and hence why it should always target the closest enemy.

Must all stands in a reactive group fire shoot?

CF6.0 Direct Fire, p. 8-10

Yes. Lugnakh explained this on the yahoo discussion forum:

“Direct Fire is always optional” page 8, 6.0 Direct Fire. I take this to mean you are not forced to declare a Direct Fire action simply because you can see a target. If you DO choose to make a Direct Fire or Reactive Fire attack you must choose one of the three firing Modes listed in 6.4 Rule 6.0, 2nd Bullet: “Each Direct Fire Action, whether performed by the Phasing player or Reactive Fire must use ONE of the three firing Modes indicated in sec. 6.4″

For instance, to make a Reactive Fire attack…”The Phasing player performs his move by first indicating with his finger the intended move path of his Squad(s). The Non-Phasing player then declares which Squad(s) is firing, selecting ONE of the three firing modes in sec. 6.4”

In the specific rules for the different Fire Modes on page 10, rule 6.4 Fire Procedures:

“Each Firing Mode constitutes a SINGLE Direct Fire action”.

“For each of the three Firing Modes one Direct Fire attack is adjudicated for EACH participating Squad or HMG. Example: a Firegroup or Crossfire of 3 Rifle Squads performs 3 attacks (of 3 Dice each)”.

So, you do not have to shoot at every element of a group move (thus firing is optional), but if you do choose to shoot at one, and declare a Firegroup or Crossfire, then each element of that Firegroup or Crossfire must resolve its attack.

How do I avoid boring fire fights?

It is fairly common to find yourself in an ineffectual fire fight with both sides hoping for a suppress on 2d6. You’ve several options to break the deadlock:

  • Attack somewhere else.
  • Maneuver around the enemy instead of going through them.
  • Use Close Combat rather than Direct Fire. Close Combat is never slow.
  • Use a combination of Indirect Fire (Barrage) and Direct Fire to increase the chance of suppression.
  • Use smoke to mask enemy you don’t want shooting at your troops or that you don’t want to shoot at.
  • Bring up the heavy guns, e.g. tanks, air strikes, or just a bigger platoon (more rifles or one with HMG).
  • Just keep rolling the dice and rely on luck to see you through.

Can infantry anti-tank weapons group fire?

CF11.3, 2nd bullet point, p. 19:

Infantry anti-tank weapons (IAT) such as bazookas can use firegroups and crossfires. But like any group fire, the IAT weapons must be in the same platoon to group fire, and having more than one in a platoon is rare (except for Russian anti-tank rifle companies, and late war Germans).

Can a CC control a crossfire?

CF6.4 Fire Procedures, p. 10
CF6.4.1 Crossfires, p. 10
CF6.4.1a HMG Crossfires and the CC, p. 11

Yes, a CC can control a crossfire, but only of unattached HMG in their company. Only a PC can control the crossfire of a platoon.

Can a suppressed commander control a crossfire?

CF2.3 Commanders, p. 2

Crossfire doesn’t actually say, but the implication of CF2.3 is No, they can’t. A PC or CC must be unsuppressed to assist subordinate stands, and although Crossfire is not explicit about this, people naturally extend this limitation to crossfires. In contrast, a pinned commander can control a crossfire.

Can a suppressed commander rally anybody besides himself?

CF2.3 Commanders, p. 2
CF9.0 Rallying Pinned//Suppressed Squads, p. 16

No. Suppressed commanders may not provide assistance, although, like any other stand, a commander can always self rally and gets his rallying bonus when he does.

Can you drop smoke directly onto your own troops?

CF7.2 Smoke, p. 13

Yes. This practice is not entirely historical, but it is allowed in the game as an FO can call in smoke to anywhere he has LOS

When does close combat occur?

CF8.2. Close Combat Involvement, p. 14

What people often don’t realise is that Close Combat is an action in its own right, it is not part of the Move action(s) that get the stand(s) into contact. As the rules say “Close Combat is resolved any time after at least one attacking Squad is in contact with a defending Squad. The moment for resolution is determined by the Phasing player.” (p. 14). That means you could move your first stand into contact (Move Action), shoot with a second stand somewhere else (Direct Fire action), move a third stand some where else (Move Action), move a fourth stand into contact with your first target (Move Action), move a fifth stand into contact with a second enemy stand (Move Action), resolve the first Close Combat (Close Combat Action). Of course, the longer you delay resolving the Close Combat the higher the risk that one of these actions will fail (so initiative passes) and any stands in contact must be backed off one stand width.

What does “within one stand width” mean?

CF1.0 Prepare to Play: Figure Scale, p. 1
CF2.3 Commanders, Subsection Commander Assistance, p. 2
CF4.2 Group Movement, p. 4
CF6.4 Fire Procedures, Firegroup subsection, p. 10
CF7.1.1 Barrage Fire (HE), Kill Potential subsection, p. 13
CF8.0 Close Combat
CF11.1.2 APC Passenger Capacity, Mounting and Dismounting Passengers subsection, p. 18

“Within one stand width” is the only measurement used in Crossfire, and is used in several places: commander assistance (CF2.3), group moves (CF4.2), firegroups (CF6.4), kill potential (CF7.1.1), close combat (CF8.0) and APCs (CF11.1.2). Using official base sizes it is about 1-1/4″ from base edge to base edge, and you should “eyeball” it.

In a clarification to the Crossfire Discussion forum Arty made it clear that “within one stand width” means less than one stand width; in other words, if you can fit a stand in between, then it is too far. That means if three stands are lined up in a row with no gaps, the outside stands are beyond “one stand width” of each other. (If you want to look up the original clarification it was in an email by John Moher called “[CF] RE: Re: Re: was Early War Russian Platoon, now what is distance” on Thu 27/10/2005 06:57.)

For example, with five stands of a platoon in a tightly packed line, and with the Fire Group Leader (FGL) being the centre stand, only the middle three stands can participate in the firegroup.

Firegroup with stands touching
Only the green stands shoot

Similarly for rallying and commander bonus in close combat; a PC in the middle of a tightly packed line can only provide assistance to the nearest squads. That is not to say assistance can only be offered to adjacent stands, just that there is a limit to the distance. For example, in the following diagram the PC can provide assistance to stands 1 and 3, but not 2 and 4. You’ll notice that stand 2 is exactly one stand width from the PC (being on the other side of stand 1), and stand 3 is fraction closer.

Rallying Example
The PC can assist the two green stands

There are other examples on my Stand Width page.

What do the states Pinned, Suppressed, and Killed represent?

CF6.5.1. Hits and Pins, p. 11
CF6.5.2 Suppressions, p. 11
CF6.5.3 Kills, p. 11

The game effect of Pin, Suppression, and Killed are fairly clear from p. 11 of the rules. But there has been some discussion about what these states represent. Clearly they reflect three progressively bad states of combat effectiveness.

In any stand some individuals will have an interested in fighting and those who are not. It is the relative proportion of those interested or not interested in fighting that determines the stands overall combat effectiveness. Men who are uninterested in combat includes those who are:

  • casualties (killed or wounded)
  • prisoners
  • attempting to rescue exposed casualties
  • applying first aid to casualties
  • escorting casualties or prisoners to the rear (whether they’re meant to be or not)
  • keeping their heads down
  • cowering in terror
  • running for home.

Killed is the worst state for a stand, but does not necessarily mean all the component men are killed. The Killed state means the Squad/Stand has become completely ineffective with no chance of recovery. Some men are casualties, and the rest are caring for the casualties, running for home, etc.

Suppression and Pin reflect recoverable losses of morale. Pin means the men are currently more interested in self preservation than going anywhere, but can be persuaded by officers or NCOs to get up and going again. They may or may not have received casualties, but they are aware of the frailty of the human condition when lead is flying around.

A Suppressed stand is on the edge. It probably has received casualties and may also have troops cowering in terror. But there are still some men who can be persuaded to get up and going again. If any do, then the stand has rallied. But if instead these die hards become casualties themselves, the entire squad will break (i.e. become Killed on two successive Suppressions).

What is ground hugging?

CF4.1.2. Ground Hugging, p. 4

According to CF4.1.2 “Ground Hugging represents going prone – literally hitting the dirt” (p. 4). However most people interpret ground hugging in a wider sense. Any stand, including one that is moving on the table, might contain individual men that are prone. In that context “ground hugging” is taken to mean all men in the stand are focussing on avoiding fire by finding cover. The “standing up” action necessary for a ground hugging stand to move again is seen as a mini-rally to get the men together and get them going. This is why, for example, a stand that is standing up loses the protective cover benefit.

Can ground hugging stands move?

CF4.1.2. Ground Hugging, p. 4

No, ground hugging stands cannot move. To quote the rules “If a Ground Hugging Squad(s)wishes to move it must first Stand Up” (p. 4). Standing up is a move action and is subject to reactive fire.

Why can pinned stands ground hug?

CF4.1.2. Ground Hugging, p. 4

“Squads that have been Pinned may Ground Hug” (p. 4). The assumption is that although the stand is suffering sufficient fire to make it pause it is still under command control. That means the men can be ordered to look for cover, i.e. ground hug. In contrast suppressed stands cannot ground hug because they have lost that command control.

Why can’t suppressed stands ground hug?

CF4.1.2. Ground Hugging, p. 4

To quote the rules “Suppressed Squads may not Ground Hug” (p. 4). That bit is clear, but what is less clear is why.

Some people argue that suppressed squads by their very nature should be considered ground hugging, as the men are scared and hunkering down out of sight. The counter argument is that a suppressed squad includes men not just just keeping their heads down, but in a variety of other States including casualties, those caring for the casualties (whether they’re meant to be or not), trying to rescue casualties, and those running for home, etc. Some of these activities will expose troops to fire, and as it lacks an effective command structure (for the moment), the stand as a whole does not get the benefit of ground hugging.

Figure Scale: How many men/tanks/guns to each model?

Crossfire is inconsistent about figure scale, particularly as it relates to tanks and guns. There are various parts of Crossfire and Hit the Dirt which relate to this issue:

CF1.0 Prepare to Play: Figure Scale, p. 1
CF2.1 Squads and Platoons, p. 1
CF2.2 Heavy Weapons, p. 1
CF2.3 Commanders, p. 2
CF7.0 Indirect Fire, p. 13-14
CF11.1.2 APC Passenger Capacity, p. 18
CF12.0 Organisations, p. 19-30, in particular:

  • German Leg Infantry Battalion (1939-42): Anti-tank company, p. 20
  • Italian Motorized Infantry Battalion (1941-43): Anti-tank company, p. 23
  • Italian Bersaglieri Motorcycle Battalion (1941-43): Anti-tank company, p. 23
  • British Motor Infantry Battalion (1942): Anti-tank company, p. 26

HTD: Hit the Dirt: WWII Scenarios for Crossfire, specifically:

  • Assault on Tula: Soviet AA Platoon, p. 6
  • The Island: German Anti-tank Platoon, p. 10
  • Bocage: German Anti-tank Section, p. 26
  • Germans in the Woods: American Anti-tank Platoon, p. 34

Infantry: Simple. CF1.0 says a single stand represents a squad of 9-12 men; similarly CF2.1 says “about 10 men”.

Machine guns: CF1.0 says a single MG model represents a section of several weapons. CF2.2 defines this further saying that a model represents 2-3 actual pieces. The Orbats given in the book generally follow this pattern, but sometimes seem to group 4 actual pieces into a single model, for example Russian Machine Gun companies typically had 12 guns but Crossfire only gives them three models.

Commanders: For example PC, CC and BC. CF2.3 says each represents the leader and a few subordinates. Clearly a PC is less substantial, and presumably has less men, than a CC/BC, as a CC/BC can fighting independently and a PC can’t; it is likely a CC/BC is the same size as an infantry squad, i.e. about 10 men.

FO: Crossfire is a bit quiet on how many men a FO stand represents, however, like PCs they are largely ignored for close combat, so are presumably a similar number of men, i.e. a small number. CF7.0 makes it clear that an FO is controlling a “battery”, meaning a group of guns not individual pieces.

Mortars: CF1.0 is silent, but CF2.2 lumps on-table mortars in with Heavy Weapons, i.e. one model represents 2-3 actual weapons, possibly 4.

Guns: On-table guns are trickier. Guns include Infantry Guns (IG) and Anti-Tank Guns (ATG). CF1.0 says a model represents a single gun. HTD seems consistent with this as it includes several Orbats with ATG “sections” or “platoons”, each complete with a PC and 2-3 ATG models. Unfortunately CF2.2 says a Heavy Weapon model (specifically mentioning IGs and implying ATGs) represents 2-3 actual weapons. This ratio is consistent with CF12.0, for example a 1939-42 German Leg Infantry Battalion contained a anti-tank company of 12 guns; CF12.0 has this represented by 3 models making a ratio of 1 model to 4 real guns; see CF12.0 for other such examples.

Tanks: Clear ratios but inconsistent with the Guns. CF1.0 says a vehicle model represents 1 actual vehicle. This is a tad confusing because Crossfire gives guns and tanks similar stats for their weapon class, despite the fact that there are (perhaps) more guns to a model.

APCs: CF1.0 says a vehicle model represents 1 actual vehicle, but CF11.1.2 makes it clear this isn’t so for APCs. CF11.1.2 says a single APC model can carry up to four stands, e.g. up to 40 men. This suggests that an APC model represents about four half-tracks or possibly 10 universal carriers. Some players assume this is for convenience, so the table isn’t cluttered up with APC models.

What is the ground scale?

CF1.0 Prepare to Play, subsection Ground Scale/Time scale, p. 1
CF Scenario Generator, p. 31
HTD Introduction, p. ii

Crossfire has no fixed ground scale and Nikolas Lloyd’s concept Telescoping Ground Scale probably best describes how Crossfire works. But for more scientific thinkers, there are some implied ground scales. The scenarios in Hit the Dirt are nominally based on 1:333 to 1:500, and it is possible to justify anything from 1:300 (1 m on table = 300 m in real life) through to 1:1700 (1 m on table = 1,700 m in real life). Have a look at my musings on Ground Scale for a fuller discussion.

How do I read the Organisations?

CF12.0 Organizations, p. 19-30

The first thing to remember is the indentations (gaps at the front of each line) are meant to indicate relationships between units and sub-units, i.e. the sub-units are indented. But the indentation is a little confusing. For example (taken from the Bersaglieri Infantry Battalion, p. 23):

Excerpt from Bersaglieri Infantry Battalion

  • 2-Infantry Companies -> 43, each with
  • 1-CC (+1)
    • Company Heavy Weapons
    • 1-HMGs
      • 2-Rifle Platoons, each with
      • 1-PC (+1)
      • 3-Rifle Squads

This tells us the Bersaglieri battalion can have two Infantry Companies, each of which is 43 points. The points are relevant for pick up games but not for scenarios. Each Infantry Company has a +1 Company Commander (CC), a Company Heavy Weapons unit comprising a sole Heavy Machine Gun (HMG), and two Rifle Platoons. The Rifle Platoons each comprise a +1 Platoon Commander (PC), and three Rifle Squads. In total there are two CCs, two HMGs, four PCs, and 12 Rifle Squads.

(Don’t be tricked into thinking that because the Rifle Platoons are indented in from the Company Heavy Weapons, that they are part of this unit.)

How are LMGs factored into Crossfire?

CF12.0 Organizations, Sub-section HMG, p. 20

Squads are assumed to contain rifles (or SMG) and possibly a squad support weapon such as the American Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) or a Light Machine Gun (LMG) like a MG34/42, Degtyarev, or Bren. Crossfire makes little attempt to distinguish between the different types of squad support weapons, nor between squads with such a weapon and those without, the assumption being that on balance the squads were very similar in fire effect.

Nationality Rifle Squad Support Weapon
German Okay rifle, but the men who carried them were largely used to carry machine gun ammo not to shoot MG34/42. Excellent. High rate of sustained fire. And lots of them.
British Okay rifle and men trained and expected to use them. Good musketry. Bren. Good weapon let down by lack of sustained fire.
American Excellent rifle but lack lustre musketry skills. Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). Poor. No sustained fire.
Russian Okay rifle. Degtyarev or similar. Good weapon with limited sustained fire.

Some nationalities are awarded extra Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) stands at company level to reflect a greater number of LMG at squad level (see CF12.0). Germans generally fit this category reflecting the greater number of LMG (MG34/42s) in their squads, and the fact these weapons had an very high rate of fire. There are some exceptions, i.e. German formations that only get one HMG at company level:

  • Leg Infantry Battalion (1944-45), p. 20
  • Motorised Infantry Battalion (1943-45), p. 21
  • Armoured Infantry (1944-45), p. 21
  • Volksgrenadier (1944-45), p. 22
  • Airlanding company (1941-42), p. 22

Generally these exceptions are late war formations. They represent organisations that either lacked adequate support weapons at company level and above (e.g. Airlanding and Volksgrenadiers) or have had their infantry support weapons replaced by armoured vehicles which are listed separately in the TO&E (e.g. Panzer grenadiers).

What does “/truck” mean in the organization lists?

CF 11.0 Vehicles, Guns and Bazookas, p. 17
CF11.1.1 Towed Weapons, p. 18
CF12.0 Organizations, p. 19-30

“Trucks are not used in Crossfire as they are assumed to have dropped off their passengers before the battle” (p. 17), but some entries in the organization lists are followed by “/truck” or “/tractor”. Usually these follow an on-table anti-tank gun or infantry gun, and indicates that the gun can be limbered.

There is an odd exception: the German Motorized Infantry Battalion 43-45 (p. 21) has “1-BC(+2)/Truck”. This is probably a typo.

What do I do if I want to field motorcycles?

CF1.0 Prepare to Play, subsection Ground Scale/Time scale, p. 1
CF 11.0 Vehicles, Guns and Bazookas, p. 17

“The action takes place within the effective range of small arms” (p.1) so “trucks are not used in Crossfire as they are assumed to have dropped off their passengers before the battle” (p. 17). It is reasonable to assume the same is true for motorcycles; as they were, after all, just another transport mechanism, and the troops got off their bikes to fight.

The Hollywood convention of motorcycle troops blazing away from their bikes would only hold true in two real situations, neither of which is typical for Crossfire:

  1. The motorcycle troops were traveling through a town at speed and want to suppress potential snipers. This is not strictly speaking a battle, as they’d blaze away even if there was no opposition.
  2. The motorcycle troops were ambushed, in which case they’d run for it or get off their bikes to fight.

Personally I have a reconnaissance platoon mounted on motorbikes, some with side cars, but this is just for aesthetic reasons. The motorcycle troops are assumed to have left their bikes off-table and are treated like normal stands of their type (PC, Rifle squad, HMG, etc).

Some people do, however, have specific house rules for motorcycles and other soft skinned vehicles.

What is wrong with the armour system in CF?

CF11.0 Vehicles, guns and Bazookas, p. 17-19
CF Data Sheets, p. 39-40

Many people, but by no means all, dislike the armour rules in Crossfire. There are a number of reasons for this including:

  • Many important vehicles are missing from datasheets
  • Rather questionable ACC and PEN ratings.
  • A single action per imitative makes AFVs very slow compared to infantry
  • A single action per initiative gives them a very inferior fire power compared to a HMG (which can fire multiple times per initiative).
  • Low calibre guns are not worth having for their HE, and hardly for their AP.
  • No rules for group fire of vehicles.

There is, of course, considerable debate about which of these factors are true and/or most important. Some people have scrapped the published system entirely and come up with their own rules, however, others use the rules as printed. See my House Rules for how I’ve tweaked the standard armour rules, or look at Tim Marshall‘s system.

And just so the counter argument is represented, Julian Donohoe made a stand in support of the standard armour rules:

I have the impression that a player in Crossfire represents an infantry company or battalion commander. As all infantrymen (and former infantrymen) know, turret-heads are usually not too enthusiastic when they are seconded out to support infantry units and co-operation is often difficult due to the two arms not fully understanding the others’ strengths and limitations. Further more, the terrain set-up on a typical Crossfire table should not be ideal tank country, which would result in the armoured units taking a back seat in the operations until they are on more open ground. The restrictions placed on vehicles in Crossfire, though blunt, seem to do a good job in reflecting this. (Julian Donohoe, Excerpt from Crossfire Discussion forum.)

Why are there only two states of damage for vehicles: alive/dead?

CF11.2.1 Anti-Vehicle Fire, p. 18-19

People often suggest tracking more detailed levels of vehicle damage in Crossfire, e.g. gun damaged but mobile, lost track hence immobile, crew baled, etc, but Crossfire only has functioning and dead. This simulates two things:

  1. Tank crews would often bale for minor vehicle faults, or even when hearing a loud clang on the armour. If your life is in danger, and you’re inside a steel box which can’t move or can’t shoot or is being shot at, then getting out of the steel box is a good idea.
  2. Crossfire represented infantry combat and the tanks are present in support roles. The players represent Infantry company commanders and infantry company commanders weren’t interested in why one of their support tanks wasn’t functioning, they just wanted to know if it was still going or not.

Crossfire’s simple alive/dead status reflects these motivations/interests.

Are Halftracks APCs?

CF11.0 Vehicles, guns and Bazookas, p. 17-19
CF Data Sheets, p. 39-40

Halftracks are a type of APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) and Crossfire uses the terms inter-changeably. This isn’t accurate, for example, a Bren carrier is an APC but not a half-track, but otherwise that should help make sense of the rules.

The Data sheets provide the stats. The half-tracks are listed with HT next to them, e.g. 251/1 HT is the people carrier version of the German Hanomag half-track.

Costs for Half-tracks/APCs are given in the Bonus selections (p. 21-37)

Have there been any official updates to Crossfire?

The only official updates are the rules contained in the scenario supplement called Hit the Dirt by Bill Rutherford and John Lewis. It has a couple of clarifications and some additional rules but these only amount to about 2 printed pages. The rest of the book is devoted to scenarios. Even if you don’t play the scenarios they were good as examples of how the terrain should look and what size of forces work for a game.

There are also some official rule clarifications from Arty, which are hosted by Tim Marshall.

What tweaks are necessary for WW1?

This has been discussed several times on the Crossfire Discussion forum and it is worth checking the archive. Also a Word document in the files section has some suggestions. Finally, see Crossfire is unsuitable for flat terrain, right? for a discussion of the implications of charging HMG across open ground and whether this makes a fun game.

Is there a Modern Crossfire?

Crossfire is a WWII game, but it doesn’t have to be.

There are a few modern Crossfire variants around:

What other periods can Crossfire be used for?

Crossfire can also be used for other periods, for example:

Is there a 1:1 variant of Crossfire?

Many people are looking for a 1:1 scale game, where each figure/model represents a real man/vehicle/gun. It is worth checking the archive of the Crossfire Discussion forum, but Nikolas Lloyd is the keenest of the 1:1 advocates and has extensive suggestions on his website. You could also look at Danosan’s 1:1 Crossfire.

Ian Hayward has an innovative approach to 1:1 Crossfire. As he uses 6 mm he can use the standard rules and the standard base size but with more figures , and it is 1:1.

How should I run multi-player Crossfire?

AR1 Multi-player Games (p. 44)

Crossfire itself suggests a couple of methods for multiplayer, although people have tried a variety of alternatives. Some methods demand sequential player actions (slower) and other allows concurrent player action (faster).

Methods that allow concurrent Player actions:

Methods that rely on sequential Player actions:

There are, however, Potential Problems with several of these multi-Player approaches, hence the recommendations mentioned above. See my musings on Multi-player for more details.

Tim Marshall also has his multi-player ideas written up on his site.

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