Gunnery Sargent Rock (Bruce Stewart) played a couple of games of Crossfiregrad by Doctor Phalanx. However, he moved it from Stalingrad to the Italian Campaign with the Germans attacking 2 New Zealand Division (Kiwis) in Cassino town, I guess representing a local counter attack. Except where noted, all words and photos are by Bruce.
I’ve been meaning to fight Crossfiregrad again for a while now and I have been working on making the terrain. Finally last weekend it happened, I invited Kevin Carberry over and we fought it twice.
Tweaks from the original scenario
I played this scenario a while ago with Dave Muldar who had some Bolt action Russians, we blu-tac-ed to bits of cardboard. We used the recommended 4 element Russian platoons. We played 2 games changing sides in the second game. The Germans in both cases had no chance of success.
The main tweak, was to call it “cassino grad” to match my resources. The other tweak was we used Kiwi defenders in 3 squad platoons as opposed to Soviet 4 squad platoons.
I matched terrain on the table as best I could.
1st game I played the attacking Germans, I had a pretty spread out kick off layout. After suppressing the Kiwi HMG in the mill with mortar fire, I then masked it with smoke. I pushed forward through the forest of chimneys, but got pinned down there. Early on Kevin dropped a mortar round down the shirt collar of German second platoon and killed the HMG outright and suppressed the remainder. I then set about rallying the first platoon and returning fire with third platoon. I tried to shield 1st platoon with smoke, so they could take out the mill but kept missing. (I wish I had used HE on the Mill, first mistake) The rounds must have come from Herr Schindler’s factory they never seemed to go off. Kevin then came out hunting with a probe forward in the centre. I reactive fired with all 3 stands of 1st platoon …. And missed (second mistake) Kevin was able to flank me and, my attack petered out with ongoing incremental losses as I was outnumbered.
2nd game Kevin played attacking Germans. He decided to put all three HMG in the multi-story house directly opposite the mill. I deployed in the Mill and the Flats, with the odd rifle team in earshot of their PC. Kevin had a great 1st turn suppressing / killing most of the occupants of the Mill with mortar rounds and the triple HMG fire (ouch) then against the odds he missed with his second or (third fire, can’t quite remember). I dropped a mortar round on the building and got an instant kill and suppressed the remaining two HMGs. I rallied my HMG in the Mill and eliminated the remaining two HMGs. We had a few more rounds of intermittent fire and called it a day.
Kevin made the comment that it seemed unlikely an attacking force would attack defenders with equal numbers and after 4 games I’m inclined to agree with him. If I played this game again, I think I would have just the two platoons of defenders to have a bit more of a balanced game.
I much preferred the first game even though I lost as it was much more challenging and had the classic Crossfire result. A couple of mistakes or bad luck and its all over. Very much the colonels dead and the gatlings jammed, and done and dusted in 90mins of real time. This is Kevin’s second game of crossfire and he’s very keen to continue, he in fact chased me up to have this second game.
Apologies if this is too brief, its more a memoir than a battle report.
Observations by Steven
Okay. I [Steven] couldn’t resist chiming in.
Following our own play tests (Crossfiregrad – A Battle Report of the Crossfire Scenario by Doctor Phalanx) we also decided the scenario was weighted in favour of the defending Soviets. So we recommend reducing the Soviet forces. One of the options we considered was reducing all Soviet Platoons to three rifle squads but we also explored other options as well. Three squad platoons fit neatly with the smaller Commonwealth rifle platoons in a Cassinograd game.
Bruce reduced the defenders to three rifle squads in these games but still found the scenario favoured the defender. That is interesting. I’m curious to give it a go myself. At the moment, I think going to only two defending platoons would be too much. After all I did manage to squeeze a German victory using the standard scenario (game 3 in Crossfiregrad – A Battle Report of the Crossfire Scenario by Doctor Phalanx).
Even with a force imbalance the scenario makes for a cracking game. Thoroughly recommended.
Cassinograd is a pretty appropriate name. The Allies had bombed the town into rubble so it would have looked pretty Stalingrad-esk. The main difference was Stalingrad rubble was pink-brown due to the brick dust. Cassino rubble was whitish-grey, presumably because of the local building materials. But I suspect most wargamers wouldn’t know that although Bruce obviously did because his custom terrain is perfect.
While I’m thinking about it, a more accurate simulation of the fighting in Cassino would probably have a few differences to the games above:
- Kiwis attacking
- Veteran Fallshirmjaeger defending
- Shattered Fallshirmjaeger units due to the Allied bombing
- Steel 2-man bunkers (the Fallshirmjaeger crammed six men into these during the bombing)
- Different features, so:
- rather than the Flats, the Mill and the Factory,
- perhaps the Nunnery, the Post Office, Municipal Buildings, the Botanic Gardens, the Continental Hotel, and/or the Convent
- Perhaps the bunkers in the cliff face under the Castle. These inconvenienced the Kiwi attack. Note: The ruined Castle itself wouldn’t have a part to play