Gunnery Sargent Rock (Bruce Stewart) got me thinking about Cassinograd. This is an adaptation of Doctor Phalanx’s Crossfiregrad scenario, transferred from Stalingrad to the Italian Campaign with 2 New Zealand Division (Kiwis) attacking Fallchirmjaeger in Cassino town. Crossfire of course. Bruce’s version was pretty much standard Crossfiregrad, but I’ve made some more changes to add flavour.
Setting: Cassino Town, Italy, 15-23 March 1944
A massive aerial bombardment smashed Cassino town on 15 March 1944. The buildings became rubble and the roads and the Botanic Gardens a cratered mess. The Kiwi infantry of 2 (NZ) Division, New Zealand Corps, then tried to take the devastated town from the Fallchirmjaeger of II Battalion, 3 Parachute Regiment, 1 Parachute Division, 14 Panzer Corps. Although 25 (NZ) Battalion, 6 Brigade, lead the way, ultimately all of the New Zealand infantry battalions fought in the town. The Kiwis attacked from their positions in the north of the town and tried to reach Route 6 in the south, and ultimately the Railway station and Colosseum outside the southern boundary of the town. The Kiwis quickly took the Nunnery in the north, then the Post Office and Municipal Buildings, which they then used as a launch pad to attack across the Botanic Gardens to the Convent. After eight days of intense conflict, the Corps Commander, General Freyberg, decided to call off the attack and consolidate the New Zealander’s gains. This left the Fallschirmjaeger in control of their final strong point, the Continental Hotel in the south-west of the town. Shortly afterwards in early April, the New Zealand Division withdrew from the Cassino area, having suffered 343 deaths and over 600 wounded.
The map is a very crude attempt to bathtub the whole of the battle in Cassino town onto a 3′ x 3′ table, using 3″ building sectors.
Key features are:
- Streets (grey) – these don’t actually have a game effect
- Building sectors
- Building complexes: Named terrain objective and blocks with three contiguous building sectors are building complexes
- Tall building sectors
- Three named terrain objectives: Post Office, Municipal Buildings, and (Continental) Hotel
- Forest of chimneys
- I’ve also marked the Botanic Gardens, only because there was a part of the Crossfiregrad map that seemed close enough to the Municipal Buildings to match
- Kiwi (Red) and German (Blue) deployment zones
The Kiwi player secretly, and randomly, rolls for their objective. Roll 1d6 for the objective:
- 1-2 Municipal Buildings
- 3-4 Post Office
- 5-6 Continental Hotel
Give each player 30 minutes on a Chess Game Clock.
German Player (Defending)
Defend the Post Office, Municipal Buildings, and Hotel Continental.
You have a Fallschirmjaeger company. Regular morale simulates the defenders immediately after the aerial bombardment, when they were suffering from shock and forced to form ad hoc units. This does the Fallschirmjaeger a disservice but makes for a better scenario.
Defender Order of Battle
- 1 x CC (+1)
- 3 x Rifle Platoons: PC (+1); 3 x Rifle Squads; 1 x HMG
- 1 x FO for off-table 8cm Mortar (6 x HE 4/1 Barrage FM; 3 x 3-Smoke FM)
- Morale: Regular
- Command & Control: Good i.e. German
- Total fighting stands: 13
Deploys first, visible, in the German Deployment Zone.
Kiwi Player (Attacking)
Begins scenario with initiative.
Control the objective, which is either the Post Office, Municipal Buildings, or Hotel Continental.
Attacker Order of Battle
- 1 x CC (+1)
- 3 x Rifle Platoons: PC(+1); 3 x Rifle Squads; 1 x HMG
- 1 x FO for off-table 3″ Mortars (3 x HE 4/1 Barrage FM; 5 x 3-Smoke FM)
- 1 x FO for off-table 25 Pounder Guns (3 x HE 4/2 Barrage FM; 5 x 4-Smoke FM)
- Morale: Veteran
- Command & Control: Good i.e. German
- Total fighting stands: 13
Deploys second, visible, in the Kiwi Deployment zone.
Terrain objectives are in use. The Kiwi mission is to gain uncontested occupation of their objective complex (one of the Post Office, Municipal Buildings, or Hotel). Control of a complex means the Kiwis must physically occupy at least one building sector of the complex at the end of a German initiative, and the other building sectors of the building must be free of any Germans.
The German mission is to stop this.
Each side has enough ammunition for half-an-hour of action and must withdraw if ammunition runs out. This is measured by a Chess Game Clock. If a player’s flag falls, they must immediately withdraw and have lost the game.
Scenario Special Rules
- Building Complexes includes all blocks of buildings with thee or more contiguous building sectors. That includes the Municipal Buildings and Hotel. The Post Office is also a building complex despite having only two building sectors.
- Scenario Rule 2 Tall Buildings (T): The height of a building indicates its capacity in squads. 1-2 stories = 2 squads and 3+ storeys = 3 squads.
- Forest of Chimneys: The Forest of Chimneys counts as “Woods”, so provides cover and blocks LOS.
- Fountain: I added the Barmaley Fountain to Crossfiregrad, so also have a fountain in Cassinograd. Counts as “Rough Ground” feature.
Tweaks to the original Crossfiregrad Scenario
Although based on Doctor Phalanx’s Crossfiregrad, this is not an exact copy. I have changed things based on my Crossfiregrad play test and Bruce Stewart’s Cassinograd, and then made further tweaks due to the context of Cassino town.
- Kiwis attacking
- Fallshirmjaeger defending
- Reduced defenders order of battle to the tune of three rifle squads
- Shattered Fallshirmjaeger units due to the Allied bombing
- 3′ x 3′ map, down scaled to fit my 3″ x 3″ buildings
- Add extra buildings on the back of each deployment zone to give a covered route for lateral redeployment
- Replace the Flats, the Mill and the Factory with the Post Office, the Municipal Buildings, and the Continental Hotel
- Flipped the map horizontally to better fit the relative locations of these features
- Added a Fountain because I have two fountain features and want to use them
- changed the worker’s cottages to a forest of chimneys
- Changed scenario rule 2 (Tall buildings)
- Dropped scenario rule 4 (Commissars)
- Dropped scenario rule 5 (Near Than)
- Dropped scenario rule 6 (Ignore Suppressed)
Probably the most radical change was the defender’s order of battle. Our Crossfiregrad play test suggested the scenario was biased in favour of the defenders. Bruce Stewart’s Cassinograd found the same thing, even after reducing their force, although he made the attackers regular not veteran. So I cut three rifle squads (more or less) from the defender’s order of battle.
I also hacked about with the map. Doctor Phalanx supplied a map for a 4′ x 3′ table. However his building sectors are 4″x4″ and mine are 3″x3″. So I had to shrink the map accordingly. At my building scale the tables comes out at 3′ x 2′ 3″. Because I wanted to give both sides a chance at covered lateral redeployment, I increased the depth of the table to 3′ and added more houses. I also flipped the map horizontally to better fit the relative locations of the objectives in Cassino town, for example, where the Factory was lower right, the Hotel is lower left.
I dropped a bunch of scenario rules as they didn’t seem to add value. I kept the Tall building rule but tweaked it.
I’ve got some pretty good maps of Cassino town. But I chose to ignore them and stick fairly closely to the map from the original Crossfiregrad scenario. This makes for a good game and that seemed good enough. I did flip the map horizontally, and make it a square, but that was the limit of my tweaking.
The Kiwis had quite a lot of tanks in Cassino town and even more stacked up outside. But they struggled to make their way through the rubble filled streets and played no active role for the first few days, and then only a minor role. The Germans also had some armour, but again it played a minor part. So I ignore all of that.
I haven’t included the German 2-man steel bunkers that were dotted around Cassino. Perhaps another time.
Doctor Phalanx. Crossfiregrad. Author.
All posts related to Crossfiregrad.
Doctor Phalanx. (2015, January). Crossfiregrad Scenario. Author.
1 thought on “Cassinograd – A Crossfire Scenario based on Crossfiregrad”
Crossfiregrad was inspired by Steven’s 2 ft city and I’m pleased to see the concept developed further.
My local club playtested the scenario ad nauseam, with the balance seasawing continually! I have played and won quickly as the attackers but you have to get everything right.
Now for a little giveaway that some players may not have noticed. If you enter a building you are liable to draw fire from defenders on the other side of the building. If you survive and the building is part of a complex you are then able to move through the complex without drawing fire.
Now, if the building complex is in the form of a T or L shape, it’s possible to enter the top of the T or the corner of the L and escape reactive fire altogether.
I don’t regard this is gamey. Crossfire is all about finding avenues of approach and this is something that the attackers can exploit in both the original scenario and, it would seem, in this reworked one.