Some musing on Converting from Squad Leader (SL) or Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) to Crossfire. I don’t claim to be an expert on these SL or ASL, in fact I admit to virtual ignorance, but I have found some ASL scenarios I wanted to convert to Crossfire, so wanted some guidelines. Steve Burt made some suggestions on the Yahoo Discussion Forum and his site which seemed a good starting point, I’ve just fleshed them out.
ASL maps are based on a hex grids with each hex nominally 40 metres across. An ASL board is 10 hexes tall and 32 hexes wide so, at 40m per hex, a board is 400 metres by 1280 metres. Of course this results in some anomalies, for example, European village streets are not 40 meters across, but Crossfire faces the same challenges on ground scale.
Steve Burt suggests 1 hex equals 2 inches on the table. This then means one SL map board becomes a 6’x2′ table, or put another way, a 6’x4′ table is two SL map boards side by side.
Using my nominal 1:1000 ground scale for Crossfire one ASL hex would be 40mm on table, rather than the 50mm that Steve Burt suggests. Or, more roughly 3 hexes is 4 inches.
You need a lot of terrain for a Crossfire and, by comparison, ASL boards are quite sparse. Try to mimic the ASL terrain then drop in crests, rough, hedges to chop up the big open areas.
The official time scale of ASL is two minutes per turn. ASL scenarios seem to be 6-8 turns long, which would make for very short battles if the official two minute time scale is used. The designer admitted that turns are really just fudged and that each game turn should be considered a “module of time, such that the (game’s) events can occur and interact with one another”.
Steve Burt suggests using the Moving Clock. Roll a dice at the end of every German initiative. The clock advances 30 minutes on a roll of 4+.
Order of Battle
An ASL squad is 10-12 bolt-action riflemen. Support Weapons (SW), that are not normally part of any squad’s regular equipment, have separate counters. SW include Medium Machine Guns and Heavy Machine Guns, Demolition Charges and Flamethrowers, and mortars. The Light Machine Gun (LMG) also appear as a SW counter although historically these were included in most rifle squads’ standard equipment. The exception to the rule on SAW is the US BAR; US squads have the BAR factored into the basic squad.
Support Weapons (SW) do not need specialist crews in ASL. ASL takes the simplified approach of allowing any infantry squad, or half squad, to use any SW.
Only exceptional leaders – officers and NCOs – are portrayed separately in ASL with their own counter. Other leaders are subsumed into the squads.
When converting to Crossfire Steve Burt suggests:
- Award a Crossfire squad for each ASL squad
- Award a Crossfire HMG for each MMG, HMG or 2 LMGs in ASL1
- Give each side a bonus Mortar2
- Award a Crossfire Mortar or each ASL Mortar
- Award a Crossfire commander (BC, CC, PC) with a 0 rating for every battalion, company and platoon3
1. Technically a Crossfire HMG is a section of 2-4 weapons. So the a literal conversion would result in a lot fewer machine guns. Being more generous gives a more realistic result.
2. ASL scenario designers and players are not keen on mortars – apparently they are ineffective and annoying. So few scenarios feature mortars. But in historically they were common and in Crossfire they are useful. So give each side a mortar regardless of the ASL order of battle.
3. See below for commanders with better ratings.
Understanding ASL Counters
Counters in ASL represent regular squads, individual leaders, support weapons, weapon crews, vehicles and vehicle crews.
Here are some example ASL counters from Squad Leader Academy SQL Series Scenario Resources:
The large numbers at the bottom of an ASL squad are Fire Power, Range and Morale. For example, a 6-6-7 rifle squad has Fire Power of 6, Range of 6 and Morale of 7.
Typical ratings are:
- 4-6-8 German Elite rifle squad
- 4-6-7 German 1st Line rifle squad
- 4-3-6 German conscript rifle squad
- 5-2-7 Russian submachine gun squad
- 4-4-7 Russian 1st line squad
- 4-2-6 Russian conscript squad
- 7-4-7 American paratrooper squad
- 6-6-6 American 1st Line rifle squad
The large numbers on a ASL Leader are Morale and Leadership. For example, a 9-1 leader has 9 Morale and 1 Leadership.
Fire Power and Range
The first two of the large numbers at the bottom of an ASL squad are Fire Power and Range. A 6-6-7 rifle squad has Fire Power of 6 and Range of 6. These are significant attributes of squads in ASL. It is important to remember that Crossfire doesn’t distinguish squads/nationalities based on fire power or range.
The basic premise in ASL is that a squad of 10-12 bolt-action riflemen rates a Fire Power of 4 in the game. Poor quality troops (some conscripts, Chinese, etc.) will lose a FP factor down to a 3. Troops with automatic weapons usually get a boost of 1 or 2 FP to a 5 or a 6 and gain assault fire. US squads, with Garand and BAR get a FP of 6.
Range is the second of the large numbers on a ASL squad. A squad’s equipment and training affects its range. German Elite and 1st Line squads have the same range (6 hexes) but a German Conscript squad only has a range of 3 hexes; it has the same basic weapons as the other two squads, but it does not have the coordination (again due to lack of training or casualties to key personnel) to fire effectively at the same range as the better squads.
A Russian 5-2-7 squad has a range of only 2 hexes because it is equipped with submachine guns, which have a much shorter range than rifles. An American paratrooper squad, 7-4-7, uses a mixture of carbines and submachine guns, so it gets an intermediate range of 4 hexes. The presence of submachine guns boosts the FP of both of these squads as compared to the equivalent rifle squads of those nations.
Morale is the third of the large numbers at the bottom of an ASL squad. High is good. A 6-6-7 rifle squad has a Morale of 7, which is average. A Morale Level of 8 is excellent, and a Morale Level of 6 is poor.
Steve Burt suggests Morale 6 troops are green, 7 are regulars, 8 are veterans. So our 6-6-7 rifle squad, with a Morale of 7, becomes a Regular squad in Crossfire.
An “E” in the upper right corner of an ASL counter indicates Elite status. For these troops you might increase Morale by one level, e.g. Regular to Veteran.
The two values for ASL leaders are Morale and Leadership. A scenario will assign a number of leaders to a side based upon how well the tactical leadership of that country performed in real life. Germans usually get the most leaders, followed the Americans and the British, with the Russians and the Italians getting relatively few leaders.
Where ASL uses the number of leader counts to reflect the command and control of a nationality, Crossfire models this explicitly with the Command & Control rating. Germans are good, American and Commonwealth are okay and Russians and Italians poor.
Steve Burt suggests awarding a +2 commander for excellent Squad Leader leaders (9-1, 10-2). I suggest other ASL commanders become a +1 commander in Crossfire. Any other Crossfire commanders will have a rating of 0.
In ASL Squads have 4 movement factors (MF). Crossing hex edges costs movement points.
Crossfire, of course, does it it completely different. You move until you lose interest or are stopped.