Armoured Infantry in Crossfire

Some musing on Armoured Infantry in Crossfire. Half-tracks were armoured troop carriers in WW2. But in Crossfire they are close combat killing machines, particularly if they’ve got passengers on board.

Also check out Historical Armoured Infantry Tactics.

Half-track close combat

In standard Crossfire vehicles can initiate close combat, and our experience was that vehicles used this exclusively in games, as it was much more effective than fire. For example:

  • A half-track carrying a platoon of infantry. +3 for passengers, +1 for PC, +1 for APC, i.e. +5, making them unbeatable. They can waltz over the table killing everything in their way.
  • Even a tank with its +3 close combat bonus is potent enough to achieve Terminator status.

As a result we prohibited vehicles initiating close combat.

More recently, however, I’ve been reading accounts where tanks did use their tracks as weapons, so I’m inclined to soften this restriction. The question is:

  • when can vehicles realistically initiate close combat?
  • which vehicles?
  • how do passengers contribute?

Certainly tanks versus entrenched infantry should be allowed. Tracks were often used to grind down a trench to eliminate the dug in infantry. And tanks versus guns should be also allowed – accounts are full of tanks overrunning guns.

I’m less sure about other options, for example, were half-tracks ever used to overrun anything? Were any vehicles in WW2 used as real infantry fighting vehicles (as opposed to just armoured personnel carriers)? I believe the Hanomag might have been, so should they be allowed to initiate close combat? In contrast the M3/5 half-tracks and Bren carriers were people carriers and should not. But how to avoid the +5 close combat advantage for a Hanomag full of panzer grenadiers. And what about Soviet tank riders. Although they usually dismounted to fight, however, when the tanks were meant to punch through enemy lines, they stayed mounted and fought from the tanks. How to represent this?

In summary, I think both the original rules and our resulting House Rule are unrealistic and I’m looking for a good alternative. I’d appreciate any suggestions.

Alternative Rule: APC Accompanying Squad in Combat

Tim Marshall’s house rule …

An APC within a stand’s distance of its squad is assumed to have its MG manned by a squad member. Refer to such APC status as “manned”. Beyond a stand’s distance, only the driver is assumed to be on the vehicle and it is not capable of being fired. Refer to such APCs as “driver only”.

¦ A manned APC contributes an extra die to its squad for one shot only in phasing and non-phasing fire. The target must be within a 450 arc left/right of the front of the APC (similar to an HMG arc).

¦ When a manned APC is suppressed, immobilized or destroyed, its accompanying squad is always suppressed.

¦ Driver only APCs/transports are always soviet style command control. The PC for such APCs is the infantry platoon commander.

3 comments to Armoured Infantry in Crossfire

  • Anders Christian Böss

    I’m less sure about other options, for example, were half-tracks ever used to overrun anything?
    Yes, according to Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, there are some instances of carriers “bumping into” German infantry. There is even an account of close combat, where a trooper in a carrier is fighting hand to hand with a German soldier. The carrier does not seem to have given any advantage to the soldier inside. I suppose his movement has been hindered, and he has no height advantage, as he would in e.g. a Hanomag.

    Were any vehicles in WW2 used as real infantry fighting vehicles (as opposed to just armoured personnel carriers)? I believe the Hanomag might have been, so should they be allowed to initiate close combat?
    According to Crossfire-player Sthephen Phenow with whom I have been corresponding over AFV rules, it was common to use Hanomags over Russian trenches, while pouring grenades and smg-fire into the trench. I imagine, that it may be risky business, as the underside and tracks become exposed to the defender, but it must take an enomous amount of guts to stay in the trench and attempt to disable the HT at zero distance.

    In contrast the M3/5 half-tracks and Bren carriers were people carriers and should not. But how to avoid the +5 close combat advantage for a Hanomag full of panzer grenadiers.
    In my house rules, a vehicle entering or crossing rough terrain, including craters or trenches, run the risk of getting bogged down. If this happens, the vehicle loses the rest of its moves that turn, but the player keeps the initiative. The vehicle gets a total bonus of -1 when bogged down.
    This could result in the following scenario: A Hanomag charges a trench to initiate close combat. I bogs down on top of the trench and loses its movement. The squad may attempt to leave the HT, but risk becoming subject to point blank fire, or they may stay inside the vehicle, that has -1 in close combat.
    An AFV may instead attempt to run over the troops in the trench. I play such a scenario like this:
    Running over enemy troops
    All vehicles may run over enemy troops with the following results:
     Non-suppressed units will just move out of the way. They may thus be driven out of cover, but the owner of the unit decides where they go. Close combat will occur instead.
     Ground hugging units will stand up, and move like non-suppressed units. (See above)
     Pinned troops will get a rally roll, even if there is no officer present. If they fail to rally, they will be killed. If they manage to rally, they will react like non-suppressed troops. (See above)
     Troops in trenches will get a rally roll like pinned troops. Rallied troops will remain in the safety of their trenches, unrallied troops will try to flee, and be killed. Troops in a trench get +1 on their rally roll.
     Suppressed troops are killed.
     If a medium vehicle (not jeep or Kettenkrad) contacts an AT-gun, the gun will be destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

    And what about Soviet tank riders. Although they usually dismounted to fight, however, when the tanks were meant to punch through enemy lines, they stayed mounted and fought from the tanks. How to represent this?
    I would say that they could be targeted by point blank fire if they attempted to enter close combat. The tank would continue its attack, but possibly without the infantry on top. I allow AFVs to group move in front of an infantry squad, which is then out of LOS to troops right in front of the AFV.

    What do you think of this?

    Cheers Anders Christian

  • Steven Thomas

    Anders, thanks for the comprehensive comment/suggestion.

    re Hugh Sebag-Montefiore and carriers
    Just sounds like normal close combat with, as you say, carrier providing no advantage. Certainly not the +1 of normal CF.

    re hanomags as trench busters
    Theoretically I can understand this but …

    1. I’d like some actual examples rather that a general statement that it was “common”. I’m not convinced. It was definitely common for Panzergrenadiers to dismount 400 m from enemy and go in on foot. So using hanomags to assault trenches must, by definition, be less common. But, like I said, it would be good to have specific examples and assess if those examples suggest common practice or were local exceptions. And, in my opinion, rules should not reflect local exceptions; that is for scenario special rules.

    2. As you say, there would be considerable risk to putting a half track over a trench. Not least a half track has less ability, compared to a fully tracked vehicle, to cross trenches in the first place. Tanks, on the other hand, yup, I’ve read many accounts of tanks and assault guns deliberately grinding down a trench to get the guys in it.

    3. Steve P is very helpful and an enthusiastic CF player but, in my opinion, he sometimes over rates technology / firepower and the fighting ability of the Germans in WW2. So, although I always listen, I approach his suggestions with caution.

    re suggested house rule for running over enemy troops
    Superficially it looks a bit complicated. In the sense that it breaks several fundamental rules of CF. I’m sure there are simpler approaches that achieve a realistic result.

    re tank and infantry group move house rule
    That is a good idea. One that would, I guess, be more appropriate for infantry that have trained closely with tanks than for any random foot sloggers near a giant scary moving slab of steel. I know, for example, that the post-war Canadians train their infantry to bunch behind tanks.

    I’ve never used a similar house rule because, as I understand it, veteran infantry avoided bunching up behind the tanks (despite the Canadian training). The rationale is that tanks attract fire and that is unhealthy for any infantry near by. So being behind a giant scary moving slab of steel that is the target of heavy fire, with associated ricochets and near misses, might be a mixed blessing. I reflect that by letting the enemy shoot at the infantry behind the tank.

    Cheers

    Steven

  • Anders Christian Böss

    1. Me too. Maybe doctrine changed from the early stages of the war to the later stages. I have mostly focused on the western front, and I am only beginning to read more detailed accounts of battles, but if something was common, I should have come across some examples by now.

    3. Agreed 😉
    If you should happen to think of something, let me know. I playtested the run-over move, as it happened twice in a game. It worked very well, and is quite simple, once you get the basic principle of it. Breaking with some basic principles of CF is a high price, that I try to avoid, but in this case I have made an exception.

    Maybe only grenadiers or veteran troops should be allowed to advance behind AFVs. Or there should be a down- side to it, to make it more risky. For example they may still be targeted by indirect fire, fire from tall buildings (house rule), risk being killed or suppressed by fire aimed at the AFV, or the AFV should only count as cover. I have yet to decide.

    Cheers
    Anders Christian

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