The Monster – A Crossfire Battle Report

Chris Harrod and I play tested my The Monster – A Crossfire Scenario. Twice. The first play test was over pretty quick and the Monster of the title chewed up the Germans as they appeared. A few tweaks to the scenario and we tried again … the second time we got a much better game out of it.


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Table Set up

First of all we set up the table. It is an unusual shape, being 8′ x 3′. I got out all my wargaming boards making 8′ x 4′. Then we used masking tape to block off 6″ from each long edge to give the 8′ x 3′ we needed. And, as usual, we used little white crosses for the foot square grid to facilitate transferring the terrain from the map.

You might want to jump to the tweaks following Game 1 or directly to Game 2.

Monster0-780 8x3 foot table with grid marked

Monster0-780 8×3 foot table with grid marked

I think the table was quite impressive. Nice windy road. Lots of trees. So many trees in fact, that I ran out. I had to recruit some very old trees to stand duty but I still only got about 2 trees per woods terrain feature. I also ran out of cardboard terrain templates and recruited my Sisal templates (the dark green ones) to fill the gap.

Monster0-781 Monster0- table

Monster0-781 Monster0- table

I think the table looked even better from lower down.

Monster0-783 Monster0- table

Monster0-783 Monster0- table

We also got out the troops and set them up ready to play. Three groups of Soviets.

Monster0-785 Soviet Force in Village Sector

Monster0-785 Soviet Force in Village Sector

Monster0-786 Soviet Force in Forest Sector

Monster0-786 Soviet Force in Forest Sector

Monster0-787 Soviet Force in Junction Sector

Monster0-787 Soviet Force in Junction Sector

Four groups of Germans.

Monster0-788 German Force at 0800 hours

Monster0-788 German Force at 0800 hours

Monster0-789 German reinforcements at 0900 hours

Monster0-789 German reinforcements at 0900 hours

Monster0-790 German reinforcements at 1000 hours

Monster0-790 German reinforcements at 1000 hours

Monster0-791 German supply trucks arrive at 1030 hours

Monster0-791 German supply trucks arrive at 1030 hours


Game 1: The monster eats everybody

Game 1 was over pretty quickly. I deployed the Monster at the edge of the village next to the clearing. It had a good field of fire and and shot at any Germans appearing from the west. It was a duck shoot.

Monster1-792 0800 hours

Monster1-792 0800 hours

Monster1-809 Who needs the monster - another kill

Monster1-809 Who needs the monster – another kill

Monster1-808 So an entire Soviet platoon opens fire

Monster1-808 So an entire Soviet platoon opens fire

Monster1-807 And then the beast goes silent on NO FIRE

Monster1-807 And then the beast goes silent on NO FIRE

Monster1-805 Boom at the infantry on the right

Monster1-805 Boom at the infantry on the right

Monster1-804 Boom as the infantry push forward on the right

Monster1-804 Boom as the infantry push forward on the right

Monster1-803 Then Boom again - destroyed mortar

Monster1-803 Then Boom again – destroyed mortar

Monster1-802 German mortar advances - Boom

Monster1-802 German mortar advances – Boom

Monster1-801 0830 hours

Monster1-801 0830 hours

Monster1-800 Boom - suppressed rifle squad

Monster1-800 Boom – suppressed rifle squad

Monster1-799 Chris smokes the centre and swings right

Monster1-799 Chris smokes the centre and swings right

Monster1-797 That is one big gun

Monster1-797 That is one big gun

Monster1-796 Boom and one destroyed Pak35:36

Monster1-796 Boom and one destroyed Pak35:36

Monster1-795 Germans discover the Monster

Monster1-795 Germans discover the Monster

Monster1-794 Pak35:36 charges forward

Monster1-794 Pak35:36 charges forward

Monster1-793 Germans arrive

Monster1-793 Germans arrive

Monster1-820 Flak88 drives into the sights of the Monster - Boom

Monster1-820 Flak88 drives into the sights of the Monster – Boom

Monster1-819 1000 hours

Monster1-819 1000 hours

Monster1-818 0930 hours

Monster1-818 0930 hours

Monster1-817 The surviving Pak35:36 pushes forward again - got to admire their bravery

Monster1-817 The surviving Pak35:36 pushes forward again – got to admire their bravery

Monster1-816 More infantry on the right wiped out

Monster1-816 More infantry on the right wiped out

Monster1-815 The two Pak38s arrive and do a Banzai charge up the road - destroyed

Monster1-815 The two Pak38s arrive and do a Banzai charge up the road – destroyed

Monster1-813 0900 hours

Monster1-813 0900 hours

Monster1-812 And another

Monster1-812 And another

Monster1-811 Another kill on the right

Monster1-811 Another kill on the right

Monster1-810 Remaining Pak35:36 advances - and gets suppressed

Monster1-810 Remaining Pak35:36 advances – and gets suppressed


Changes to scenario between Game 1 and Game 2

After the rather uninspired experience of Game 1, we decided to tweak the scenario to give the Germans a chance of winning.

First up was the German order of battle. The need more smoke capability to successfully threaten the Monster on it’s flanks, or via ATG from it’s front. I also wanted to give the Germans more reconnaissance ability. So they got:

  • 1 x FO for off-table 75 mm Infantry Gun (12 FM)
  • 1 x SdKfz 221 Armoured Car (MG)
Monster2-821 Enhanced German force at 0800 hours

Monster2-821 Enhanced German force at 0800 hours

Having the “Monster” deploy at the edge of the clearing was devastating. With a good field of fire, it killed anything that approached the village. So we forced it to deploy further back; this meant it had to either attempt to move into position, and risk throwing a track, or had limited fields of fire. So two tweaks to the scenario:

  • The KV-2 (“Monster”) must deploy in the Village Sector and east of the objective within the sector.
  • The “Monster” is at risk of throwing a track and become permanently immobilised. Each move action throw 1d6: on a 3+ the tank is immobilised for the rest of the game. Throwing a track loses the initiative. When immobilised the turret can still rotate and the vehicle can still fire. (no longer has a free move)

We also gave the German’s more flexible deployment, with a possibility of arriving anywhere on the on the western table edge:

  • On the first initiative, start arriving on the western table edge:
    • If no Soviets have been spotted so far, enter at the point where the road enters the table
    • If any Soviets have been spotted, enter anywhere on the western table edge.
  • If they wish, the German player can hold initial troops off table. This means they can send troops on table to find the Soviets, and then commit the rest with the benefit of arriving anywhere on the western table edge.
  • All German reinforcements arrive anywhere on the western table edge.

Lastly I introduced some special anti-tanks rules. Generally I think light guns (50mm and less) should be more manoeuvrable than heavier weapons. My house rule on man-handled guns addresses some of this, but I thought they needed something for limbering/unlimbering as well – which in the standard rules is very slow. And to give the small guns a fighting chance against the Monster, we let them group fire.

  • Light guns (50mm or less) are more manoeuvrable than heavier guns. Light guns can perform two types of action per initiative: manual move, towed move, limber, unlimber, or fire. So, for example, a light gun would limber, then take two towed move actions, in the same initiative. This would not be possible for a heavier gun.
  • German Paks of the same type can form a “fire group”, e.g the two 3.7 cm Pak35/36 can shoot together if within a stand width. Similarly for the two 5.0 cm Pak38. These weapons can also group move together.

Game 2: Germans capture the village

After the tweaks we made, Game 2 was much better. Chris made it past the village and into the Forest Sector.

Monster2-822 0800 hours

Monster2-822 0800 hours

First of all Chris offered up the sacrificial lamb – the armoured car – to reveal the Monster.

Monster2-823 German armoured car drives into ambush

Monster2-823 German armoured car drives into ambush

Monster2-824 The Monster deployed back at the objective in the village

Monster2-824 The Monster deployed back at the objective in the village

I tried to move the Monster to the edge of the village/clearing but, as luck would have it, the KV-2 threw a track and became immobile. The tweaks to the scenario – deploying in the village and no free move – were already having an impact.

Monster2-825 The Monster throws a track

Monster2-825 The Monster throws a track

Monster2-826 0830 hours

Monster2-826 0830 hours

Chris now had two FOs and this was significant from the start. He could, for example smoke off the Monster.

Monster2-827 Two German FOs means more smoke

Monster2-827 Two German FOs means more smoke

With the Monster smoked off, Chris could push troops in both directions. For the first time he was able to push troops left.

Monster2-828 Germans push left

Monster2-828 Germans push left

Monster2-829 And further left

Monster2-829 And further left

Of course I had infantry to stop any infiltration to the flank.

Monster2-830 Soviet rifle platoon tries to stop the advance

Monster2-830 Soviet rifle platoon tries to stop the advance

Unfortunately, my riflemen were clearly focussed on the Germans on the right rather than the guys sneaking up on them nearby. Or, more technically, both squads got a NO FIRE.

Monster2-831 Ooops - two NO FIREs

Monster2-831 Ooops – two NO FIREs

Chris was actively pushing forward on both flanks. At one point we had to see who could shoot at his troops, hence the white cord – we use these to measure straight lines.

Monster2-832 Germans push right avoiding Soviet Crossfire

Monster2-832 Germans push right avoiding Soviet Crossfire

Chris managed to get numbers to bear on my troops and destroyed a HMG squad.

Monster2-833 German Crossfire kills Soviet HMG

Monster2-833 German Crossfire kills Soviet HMG

Monster2-834 0900 hours

Monster2-834 0900 hours

An hour into the action and the second wave of Germans arrived, with heavier anti-tank guns (Pak38s) at the front.

Monster2-836 Pak38s arrive

Monster2-836 Pak38s arrive

The reinforcements also allowed Chris to send more troops left.

Monster2-837 More Germans on the left

Monster2-837 More Germans on the left

This gave him two platoons on the left. The Germans closed in on the village.

Monster2-839 Two German platoons advance on village from left

Monster2-839 Two German platoons advance on village from left

On the right the Germans continued to dish out death with superior small arms fire.

Monster2-840 On the right German fire kills more Soviets

Monster2-840 On the right German fire kills more Soviets

Monster2-841 And then some more Soviets die

Monster2-841 And then some more Soviets die

At this point it looked pretty bad for the defenders of the Village. I had the Monster, a pinned Platoon Commander and a suppressed rift squad. Grim.

Monster2-842 It is now looking pretty grim for the Soviet defenders of the Village

Monster2-842 It is now looking pretty grim for the Soviet defenders of the Village

Okay, it got grimmer. Chris charged the suppressed squad and killed it.

Monster2-844 Germans close assault remaining Soviet on the left

Monster2-844 Germans close assault remaining Soviet on the left

Then he took the PC captive.

Monster2-847 The same thing happens on the right

Monster2-847 The same thing happens on the right

That just left me the Monster visible. None-these Chris knew I had more troops out there, including some in the village, so he adopted defensive formations when each platoon finished moving.

Monster2-848 Chris adopts a hedgehog formation

Monster2-848 Chris adopts a hedgehog formation

The Germans crept towards the village carefully.

Monster2-851 Germans edge closer to village on left

Monster2-851 Germans edge closer to village on left

When Chris finally decided to rush for the nearest building (on the left) he discovered I had a sapper squad in the target building. My sappers stopped the German rush.

Monster2-852 Soviet Sapper squad stops the German dash to the village

Monster2-852 Soviet Sapper squad stops the German dash to the village

And Chris’s advance on the right revealed my last remaining rifle squad. This also stopped the German advance. Brave Ivan was going to go down fighting.

Monster2-856 Remaining Soviet rifle squad stops German advance from right

Monster2-856 Remaining Soviet rifle squad stops German advance from right

Although immobile the Monster could still fire, so took pot shots – very big pot shots – and any Germans that showed their faces.

Monster2-857 Boom - The Monster has a shot

Monster2-857 Boom – The Monster has a shot

Monster2-858 0930 hours

Monster2-858 0930 hours

My guys were fighting on but it was very one sided. I had the Monster and two squads. Chris had a complete rifle company on the outskirts of the village.

Monster2-859 Soviets are looking thin in the Village

Monster2-859 Soviets are looking thin in the Village

Further back Chris started manoeuvring his Paks into a position to shoot.

Monster2-860 Pak crews push their guns into the woods

Monster2-860 Pak crews push their guns into the woods

The next Soviet casualty was the Sapper.

Monster2-861 German fire kills Soviet Sappers

Monster2-861 German fire kills Soviet Sappers

That opened up the Monster’s flank to close assault. Chris sent in a anti-tank rifle squad and his PC. The Monster won – Mother Russia was pleased.

Monster2-862 The Monster repels a close assault

Monster2-862 The Monster repels a close assault

Having seen off the close assault the Monster opened up with its big gun again.

Monster2-863 Boom - Monster retaliation for the Sappers

Monster2-863 Boom – Monster retaliation for the Sappers

Monster2-864 Boom - any Germans will do

Monster2-864 Boom – any Germans will do

My remaining rifle squad continued to fight on.

Monster2-866 Surviving Soviet rallies and kills some Germans

Monster2-866 Surviving Soviet rallies and kills some Germans

Monster2-867 1000 hours

Monster2-867 1000 hours

With 1000 hours on the clock the Flak88 arrived. Finally Chris had something that could hurt the Monster. If only he could get it into a position to fire safely.

Monster2-868 Flak88 arrives

Monster2-868 Flak88 arrives

The fight in the village continued and the Germans managed to suppress my remaining squad.

Monster2-869 Germans suprress last Soviet squad

Monster2-869 Germans suppress last Soviet squad

Chris followed up with the bayonet and the Monster was alone.

Monster2-870 Close combat clear the village

Monster2-870 Close combat clear the village

Chris had his Paks in a position to fire on the Monster. The Pak38s fired. Ping!

Monster2-873 Paks open up on the Monster

Monster2-873 Paks open up on the Monster

Impatient for a quick victory, Chris sent in more infantry to deal with the Monster. Monster 2; German riflemen 0.

Monster2-875 The Monster repels the second close asault

Monster2-875 The Monster repels the second close assault

Monster2-876 1030 hours

Monster2-876 1030 hours

At 1030 hours the German supply convoy arrived. Five trucks on the road from the west. Unfortunately, the Monster was still squarely on the road.

Monster2-877 German supply trucks arrive

Monster2-877 German supply trucks arrive

Chris smoked off the Monster to let his Flak88 deploy.

Monster2-878 Smoke allows Flak88 to deploy

Monster2-878 Smoke allows Flak88 to deploy

Chris then sent in another infantry assault on the Monster. Monster 3; German infantry 0.

Monster2-879 The Monster repels the third close assault

Monster2-879 The Monster repels the third close assault

Monster2-880 1100 hours

Monster2-880 1100 hours

3 hours into the game and Chris finally had some fire power to use against the Monster. The Flak88 opened up.

Monster2-881 Bang - Flak88 opens up

Monster2-881 Bang – Flak88 opens up

One shot and boom! No more scary Monster.

Monster2-883 The Monster is knocked out

Monster2-883 The Monster is knocked out

The road was now (seemingly) open and the trucks rolled forward.

Monster2-884 The German convoy rolls

Monster2-884 The German convoy rolls

Chris sent his infantry forward around the village, looking for Soviets.

Monster2-885 Germans skirt village to left

Monster2-885 Germans skirt village to left

Monster2-886 Ditto on the right

Monster2-886 Ditto on the right

Chris also put an towed anti-tank gun in front of the supply trucks to draw Soviet fire.

Monster2-887 Pak gets in front of supply trucks

Monster2-887 Pak gets in front of supply trucks

Not surprisingly the German advance revealed Soviets hidden in the Forest sector. Fighting begins in amongst the trees.

Monster2-888 Germans discover Soviets in the Forest

Monster2-888 Germans discover Soviets in the Forest

Monster2-889 Quite a lot of Soviets and Germans die

Monster2-889 Quite a lot of Soviets and Germans die

Monster2-890 And more Germans

Monster2-890 And more Germans

Monster2-891 A German artillery barrage helps

Monster2-891 A German artillery barrage helps

While the German infantry try to clear the way, the supply trucks continue to drive along the road.

Monster2-892 The convoy edges forward

Monster2-892 The convoy edges forward

Monster2-893 1130 hours

Monster2-893 1130 hours

Monster2-894 1200 hours

Monster2-894 1200 hours

Chris was feeling the pinch as he was running out of troops. So he rushed the Flak88 to the front to give some much needed fire support.

Monster2-896 Flak88 overtakes convoy

Monster2-896 Flak88 overtakes convoy

The fighting continued in the woods with bayonet and grenade.

Monster2-897 German bayonets advance

Monster2-897 German bayonets advance

I didn’t see much reason to stand and die so I pulled back to get closer to my, still hidden, forces in the Junction Sector.

Monster2-898 Soviets pull back

Monster2-898 Soviets pull back

With no real offensive power remaining Chris packed it in. The German vehicles was jammed on the road through the village.

Monster2-900 German traffic jam

Monster2-900 German traffic jam

Monster2-904 German traffic jam

Monster2-904 German traffic jam

Monster2-901 Table at end game

Monster2-901 Table at end game

Monster2-902 Table at end game

Monster2-902 Table at end game

After the game I showed Chris were my remaining troops were.

Monster2-903 This is where the remaining Soviets were

Monster2-903 This is where the remaining Soviets were


Observations and Conclusions

Playing the Monster was a first in several ways:

  • First time I used all four of my Wargaming boards
  • First time I’ve used a 8′ x 3′ table
  • First time I fielded my KV-2 – the Monster
  • First time I fielded my 8.8cm anti-tank gun
  • First time I have had five German anti-tank guns on-table
  • First time I’ve had supply trucks in a Crossfire game

Now to the games themselves. The first game was a non-event. But with the tweaks mentioned above the second game was quite good. Chris cleared the Village Sector and most of the Forest Sector. But he didn’t have enough troops remaining to go the distance. Most of the German losses were trying to close assault the Monster. It might have been worth using this as a fall back strategy if the Paks couldn’t knock out the beast – a Plan B – but Chris chose this approach as his Plan A. If Chris had had those troops to fight with in the Forest, it might have been a different outcome. We agreed our second attempt was a good game. So I’ve incorporated the tweaks into the Scenario and it would be worth a replay in the future.

The scenario might still need some tweaking. In particular, I wonder if I should cut back the Soviet orbat in the Junction Sector.

The long 8′ x 3′ table was a nice novelty for a Crossfire game. As was the goal of shepherding vulnerable trucks across table.

It was great to get a KV-2 on table and have it behave historically i.e. be scary but more or less immobile.

I was surprised that I ran short of key terrain. An 8′ x 3′ table is the same table area as a 6′ x 4′ table (24 square feet), and I use 6′ x 4′ tables a lot, but none-the-less I needed more terrain. The scenario uses a lot of small to medium woods features so I ran out of my normal terrain templates. Luckily I had my sisal terrain templates on standby and they did the trick, at the cost of some aesthetics.

Homework: Make some more normal terrain templates: +9 x 6″ circles; +4 x 6″x4″ oval. [Done]

I also ran out of trees. So I had to use my original, very old, and now quite brown, bottle brush trees. This gave me enough trees for two per woods features. Enough but not generous. The the brown trees again sacrificed some aesthetics.

Homework: re-green my original bottle brush trees. [Done, that afternoon as it happens]
Homework: Base up the extra trees I have already purchased. [I’ve done 40, but more to do]

4 comments to The Monster – A Crossfire Battle Report

  • Dick Bryant

    Enjoyed the AAR and want to try it but with my German, Japanese, and US kit I’m not sure what to use for “The Monster”. Wait I also have Korean War kit – I can assume that the Chinese or N. Koreans have received a “Monster” from Stalin as a gift in celebration of some anniversary – all 3 seem to celebrate hundreds of communist anniversary days every year. Dick Bryant

    • Steven Thomas

      Dick, I think there would be sufficient terror amongst US forces if they had to break through a German force with a disabled Tiger on the road and they had no armour of their own. Assuming, of course, the grunts didn’t have the usual barrage of bazookas. Or change the bazooka rules so they have to shoot within a stand width to keep it exciting.

  • Andrés F.

    Wonderful scenario! Very thrilling to read the heroic last stand of the Monster in the second game… I was sad to see it fall at last. Love the KV-2 model.

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