Being hidden helps a lot in Crossfire. But if the attacker knows the defender’s order of battle they also know how many enemy stands are still hidden on table. With few remaining hidden defenders the attacker can be more aggressive. With lots the attacker will be more cautious. But real attackers could never be certain of the size of the defending force so couldn’t number crunch their way to victory. The question is, how to introduce that uncertainty into a game without an umpire?
There are two parts to the problem:
- Determining the defender’s order of battle
- Keeping the attacker ignorant of defender’s order of battle
Determining the defender’s order of battle
In most of my Crossfire Scenarios the order of battle for each side is predetermined. The attacker knows what force the defender has in total even if he doesn’t know the location.
It is possible to insert some uncertainty into the game by giving a defender a more or less random order of battle. I did this for my mini-campaign Race Through Normandy (see also the huge order of battle for the Normandy campaign). I prepared nine options, all with the same points value, but with a different amount of infantry, of different morale, and with different assets. At the start of a game the German team throw 1d6 and add the number of the campaign round being played (1, 2, 3 or 4) to determine the option used. For example if you are playing the second round then throw 1d6 and add 2. The options are:
|1d6 + Round||Infantry||Morale||Assets|
|2||Static Defence troops||Green||Fortifications, 1 x 75mm Pak40 ATG|
|3||Static Defence troops||Green||2 x French tanks|
|4||Regular Infantry||Regular||2 x 75mm Pak40 ATG|
|5||Regular Infantry||Regular||1 x StuG III G|
|6||Regular Infantry||Regular||3 x Panzer IV G|
|7||Panzer grenadiers||Regular||2 x 7.5 cm PaK L/46 m SPW S307(f)|
|8||Panzer grenadiers||Regular||1 x StuG III G|
|9||Panzer grenadiers||Regular||3 x Panthers or 3 x Tiger I|
|10||SS Panzer grenadiers||Veteran||1 x Panther or 1 x Tiger I|
The only problem with this, in terms of keeping the attacker in the dark, is that the option becomes pretty obvious when the morale of the defenders is revealed or an asset is revealed.
Keeping the attacker ignorant of defender’s order of battle
It doesn’t take a lot to keep the attacker ignorant of what troops the defender has. You just need a closed box (Mark on the Crossfire forum suggested this). The order of battle is determined in secret and the troops put into a closed box. They stay in the box until they are revealed and appear on the table. Only the owning player(s) is allowed to look in the box.
Hopefully that will keep the attacker guessing on whether there is more in the box.
And if you keep dummies in the box, i.e. troops that aren’t in the Order of Battle, then you protect yourself from the occasional glimpse – intentional or not.