Time for the heart of the matter … revising Crossfire’s anti-tank rules and make them more like infantry combat. I want to do this as a bit of journey, from Crossfire’s ACC and PEN, through my mods for that, touching on earlier Gun versus Arm matrix thinking, before landing where I want to today.
Crossfire’s ACC and PEN
In standard Crossfire a tank/gun has to make two rolls to get a hit: Accuracy (ACC) and Penetration (PEN). The accuracy roll succeeds on 4+, with the tank/gun’s ACC as a modifier. The ACC modifier for a tank/gun is primarily based on muzzle velocity. The penetration roll succeeds if it exceeds the target’s front or flank/rear armour (ARM), with the tank/gun’s PEN as a modifier. PEN is based on muzzle velocity and size/weight of the shell. If both rolls are successful the target is KILLED.
Lots of players are unhappy with this mechanism but the two major grievances are:
- This is a totally different mechanism to infantry’s shooting, which is hit on 5+ with multiple to hit dice
- It inflates the significance of muzzle velocity and ignores other factors
Balagan Armour House Rules: Modified ACC
As a result I replaced the Gun Accuracy modifiers (ACC) in Crossfire with this scheme:
|+1||Anti-tank gun, field gun, etc|
|0||Vehicle with 3 gun crew1|
|-1||Vehicle with small gun crew2|
|All Infantry Anti-tank Weapons|
(1) Vehicles has a specialist in the three main roles of a vehicle gun crew are: Commander, Loader, Gunner.
(2) Vehicle has 1 or 2 crew who struggle with multiple roles of a vehicle gun crew. If a particular crew member plays multiple roles then the gun crew will be smaller and the vehicle less efficient.
Other ACC Modifiers:
- -1 Target is in protective cover (including hull down).
- -2 Target is dug in.
This has lasted me 20 years without undue annoyance. But retains the weird bolt on ACC+PEN rule or the original rules.
2002 Gun versus Arm matrix
In my earlier musing Gun versus Arm Matrix in Crossfire I presented a table with gun rating against target armour. This gives the number of firing dice, from 1d6 to 5d6.
|Gun||Light Armour||Medium Armour||Heavy Armour|
|Light Anti-tank Gun||3d6||2d6||1d6|
|Medium Anti-tank Gun||4d6||3d6||2d6|
|Heavy Anti-tank Gun||5d6||4d6||3d6|
I never used this system and thinking about it now, it makes for a pretty impotent anti-tank capability. 3d6 which is the norm in this table, which is what a Panzer IV and Sherman would sling at each other. Having a look at the probability of success, 3d6 has a 22% chance of a SUPPRESS and 4% chance of a KILL. That means most shots will be ineffectual. That just doesn’t seem like armoured combat to me. My impression was that tank combat was short and brutal. Contrast 3d6 percentages with that for 6d6: 33% chance of SUPPRESS and 32% of KILL. Now that is short and brutal.
|Dice||Miss (0 Hits)||PIN (1 Hit)||SUPPRESS (2 Hits)||KILL (3+ Hits)|
2022 Gun versus Arm matrix
So, 20 years later, I’m thinking the matrix should use my Revised Calibre Bands. Which actually means there is no Gun versus ARM matrix at all. Bigger gun, bigger bang.
My Revised Calibre Bands give me a bigger bang for my tanks and guns.
|Anti-tank rating||Gun Calibre Band||Gun Calibre||Examples (with nothing set in stone)|
|3d6||Super Light Gun (“Door knocker”)||up to 44mm||German 3.7cm ATG;
Soviet 45/46 ATG;
British 2 pounder;
US 37mm ATG
|4d6||Ultra Light Gun||45-64mm||German 5.0cm ATG;
Soviet 45/66 ATG;
British 6 pounder;
US 57mm ATG
|5d6||Light Gun||65-84mm||German 7.5cm short;
Soviet 76mm; Soviet 57/73 ATG;
|6d6||Medium Gun||85-104mm||German 7.5cm long;
British 25 pounder; British 17 pounder ATG
|7d6||Heavy Gun||105-124mm||German 8.8cm;
Soviet 85mm; Soviet 100mm; Soviet 122mm
|8d6||Ultra Heavy Gun||125+mm||Soviet 152mm|
My Revised Calibre Bands are a good starting point but not enough.
Superior Anti-tank guns
Some guns are rated as “Superior” in anti-tank combat. These are guns have long barrels, high muzzle velocity, and hence better accuracy and penetration. Superior anti-tank guns are much more common in the late war. In my revised anti-tank rules, they get a bonus anti-tank dice (+1d6).
- 7.5cm L/43 (1942-43): Pz IV Ausf. F2, Pz IV Ausf. G; StuG III Ausf. F
- 7.5cm L/46 (1942-45): Pak 40
- 7.5cm L/48 (1942-45): Pz IV Ausf. G, H, J; StuG III Ausf. F, F/8, G; StuG IV; Jagdpanzer IV
- 7.5cm L/70 (1942-45); Pz V Panther; Jagdpanzer IV
- 8.8cm Flak 18/36/37/41
- 8.8cm L/56 KwK 36: Pz VI Tiger I
- 8.8cm L/71 KwK 43: Pak 43; Pz VI Tiger II; Hornisse/Nashorn; Ferdinand/Elefant; Jagdpanther
- 76.2 mm (3 inch) Ordnance QF 17 pounder (1942-45)1: 17-pdr anti-tank gun; Sherman Firefly; Cruiser Mark VIII Challenger; 17-pdr SP Achilles (17-pdr M10C); Comet2
- 76 mm gun M11: M18 Hellcat gun motor carriage; Medium Tank M4A1(76)W (Sherman IIA), M4A2(76)W (Sherman IIIA), M4A3(76)W (Sherman IVA)
- 85mm D-5T tank gun (1943-45): SU-85; T-34/85 (Model 1944)
- 100mm D-10T tank gun (1944-45); SU-100
- 122mm D-25T tank gun (1944-45); IS-2; ISU-122S4
(1) The Shermans armed with the 75mm had better HE capacity than those with the larger calibre QF 17-pdr.
(2) The QF 17-pdr was called the “77mm HV” when mounted on the Comet. It was the same weapon but they rounded up the millimetres.
(3) The Soviets had many very effective anti-tank vehicles (“Animal hunters”) but most relied on super heavy HE rounds rather than specialist anti-tank weaponry, e.g. SU-122, SU-152, ISU-152.
(4) The D-25T was based on the 122 mm gun M1931/37 (A-19). Many ISU-122 were armed with the A-19, but it is only the ISU-122S, armed with the D-25T that get the superior bonus.
Inferior Anti-tank rating
Calibre isn’t everything and not all guns were great in the anti-tank role. I have had to downgrade the anti-personnel rating for some tanks/guns and I need similar penalties for anti-tank fire. These are the penalties are for:
- -1d6 Low Velocity weapon (perhaps 500 m/s is the cut off point)
- -1d6 Poor anti-tank shells
- -2d6 No anti-tank shells
The 122 mm M-30S howitzer on the Soviet SU-122 Assault Gun packed a punch when firing at infantry (8d6), but wasn’t so good in the anti-tank role. It had no anti-tank shells and solely relied on the weight of the shell. So I give it a 6d6 against tanks. This would rise to 7d6 when the new BP-460A HEAT projectile was introduced in May 1943.
Direct Fire with tanks / guns
Anti-tank direct fire with tanks / guns now works like normal infantry. Look up the anti-tank rating for that vehicle and throw that number of dice.
Shooting Dice Modifiers:
- Cover: Cover provides the normal -1d6 modifier.
- Armour: In my new scheme I’m giving armour rating of light (0d6), medium (1d6), heavy (2d6), and ultra heavy (3d6). Effectively armour is a modifier on the shooting dice. For example, when shooting at a tank with heavy armour then subtract 2d6 from the shooting dice.
- Flank/Rear: Shooting at the flank/rear of the tank gives a +1d6 bonus to the shooter. This does way with the need for two ARM ratings.
Like Infantry shooting, each dice hits on 5+. Hull down vehicles are hit on a 6.
The more hits the more the impact:
- 1 Hit = Pinned. Tank engine has stalled and/or the turret has jammed and/or the crew are rattled. Vehicle cannot move or rotate turret (if any) but can fire.
- 2 Hits = Suppressed. Tank has minor damage and/or the crew is shaken. Vehicle cannot move, rotate turret (if any) or fire. Two Suppresses cause the crew to bail out and the vehicle is Killed.
- 3 Hits = Killed. Tank is KO and/or the crew have bailed out. Either remove the model to reduce clutter or leave the smoking ruin on the table for aesthetic appeal.
That Gun vs ARM matrix again
When I said there is no Gun versus ARM matrix, it isn’t quite true. There is a matrix, but it isn’t an interesting artefact. The number of dice to roll and the armour dice are more interesting. But for those who like matrices …
|Gun Calibre Band||Calibre||Light Armour (0d6)||Medium Armour (1d6)||Heavy Armour (2d6)||Ultra Heavy Armour (3d6)|
|Super Light Gun (“Door Knocker”)||Up to 44mm||3d6||2d6||1d6||0d6|
|Ultra Light Gun||45-64mm||4d6||3d6||2d6||1d6|
|Ultra Heavy Gun||125+mm||8d6||7d6||6d6||5d6|
Now, going back to the Sherman and Panzer IV slugging it out … now they get 4d6 when firing at each other. Not a lot more than my original 3d6 in the Gun vs ARM matrix. But an improvement.
Example of anti-tank fire
In the recent game of Monaldini and Monticelli we had an exchange of fire between a German 7.5cm Pak 40 and a Kiwi Sherman 75mm. It went like this:
- The Kiwi player moved a Sherman forward, crossing an open patch between two fields.
- The German player revealed a Pak 40, which then shot at the Sherman in the open. 6d6 for anti-tank fire, rolling 4, 4, 3, 2, 2, 1, gave a clear MISS.
- The Sherman moved into a field (thus getting cover) and the Pak 40 rolled reactive fire with 5d6 (less 1d6 for cover). Rolling 6, 4, 4, 4, 3 gave a PIN on the Sherman. Not that it was going anywhere
- Now it was the Sherman’s turn. It threw 4d6 (5d6 less 1d6 for cover) scoring 6, 5, 4, 3, 1. That meant the Pak 40 got SUPPRESSED.
- In the next German initiative the Pak 40 rallied and shot at the Sherman again still with 5d6 since the Sherman was still in the field. Rolling a 6, 5, 5, 5, 3 meant the Sherman was knocked out (KILLED)
- While having a bit of a celebration, the crew of the Pak 40 where then blitzed by a Kiwi 3″ Mortar scoring 6, 5, 5. KILLED. No more Pak fun in this game.
Ooops, I’ve just realised I forgot the tank’s 1d6 armour. Next time.
My Sherman examples
As you might recall, I have the models for the Squadron HQ troop, A Squadron, 20 Armoured Regiment, 2 (NZ) Division, who fought in Italy. This troop has two Sherman IB (M4/105), a single Sherman VC (M4A4/17pdr) aka “Firefly”, and a Sherman III (M4A2). These are all Shermans but they have radically different shooting capabilities. The Sherman III, like most Shermans, had good HE from its 75mm gun but only adequate anti-tank ability. In contrast the Sherman Firefly was a tank killer, but is pants at anti-personnel because it didn’t carry HE and had no hull machine gun. And the Sherman IB had a 105mm howitzer mounted, which means it was great at anti-personnel but had terrible anti-tank capability. I want/need to differentiate these Shermans for anti-tank and anti-personnel shooting.
Sherman III (M4A2) (ARM 1d6; AT 5d6; AP 5d6)
Sherman VC (M4A4/17pdr) aka “Firefly” (ARM 1d6; AT 6d6; AP 3d6)
Sherman IB (M4/105) (ARM 1d6; AT 2d6; AP 7d6)
All three models have the same armour rating (1d6). The Sherman III has the 75mm gun giving a 5d6 for both anti-tank and anti-personnel. The Firefly has a superior anti-tank gun (+1d6) but it had poor HE (-1d6) and there were no hull machine guns (-1d6). The Sherman IB, with the 105mm howitzer, would get 7d6 for anti-personnel. I gave it 2d6 for anti-tank including a -1d6 penalty for low velocity gun (472 m/s) and the -2d6 for no anti-tank shells.
I reckon it could work. But it will be brutal so might be a shock for any players using an more moderate Gun vs ARM matrix.
Some might think this is complicated. We now have vehicles with Armour rating, Anti-Personnel Rating, Anti-Tank Rating, Superior Anti-tank Rating, and Inferior Anti-personnel Rating. The way I look at it, it is complicated for the person doing the data sheet but after that there are only the three ratings for a particular vehicle. The Superior and Inferior ratings just folded into the final tank/gun ratings. And I for one, won’t remember any of this. I’ll just look up the data sheet.
Because both the anti-tank rating and anti-personnel rating are based on the same Revised Calibre Bands, they will have the same base ratings. But some tanks/guns will have different ratings. My go to example is the Sherman Firefly. Good at anti-tank (6d6); not so good at anti-personnel (3d6).
So far I’m happy with how this is shaping up. At least my Sherman example works for me. It also distinguishes the Soviet SU-152 from the later ISU-152.