Crossfire is not a board game. But it could be. This is a bit of a thought experiment on what Crossfire might look like as a board game. It all came about one Saturday morning when I was having a WhatsApp conversation with my wargaming crew on “Crossfire as a board game”. I got all keen and made some counters. So here is how I see it …
I’ve had a go at gullies and depressions before. But they look too much like hills. So I decided to have another go modelling just the edge of the depression. Then I took this concept further and modelled a modular ravine system. I featured both of these when I asked, How does my Burmese battlefield look? In this post I share a bit more about how I make these features.
I am always impressed by Brett Simpson’s Pacific War tables for Crossfire. He inspired me to improve my jungle terrain. More jungle will be useful for Burma, Portuguese Colonial Africa, and Vietnam. I made some steps before we played the Pick up game in Burma, but I wanted to make my tables even better. So I’ve been bolstering my crossfire terrain and now have Pagodas, rice paddies, Bamboo groves, boulder fields, rock fields, palm trees, ravines, depressions, Burmese houses, jungle undergrowth (not featured here), crests (not featured here) and cliffs (not featured here). Some of these I’ve posted about previously, and some are yet to come. Now, after all that effort, I wanted to know two things. Do I have enough jungle terrain to fill a table? Does my jungle terrain look good enough? So I got it all out and threw it on a 6’x4′ table. I can definitely fill a table. And I reckon the table looks good enough, not perfect, but good enough.
Following my Snakes and Ladders Campaign for Tilly’s Very Bad Day I thought I’d do one for Crossfire. This uses the children’s board game Snakes and Ladders as the basis for a wargaming Campaign. The snakes become tribulations and the ladders are campaign successes. So I have made up a board a Snakes and Ladders board but with a more World War 2 flavour.
There is no skill in playing this campaign system as, like the children’s board game, random dice rolls lead to success. If you are lucky, you will win. For me this makes a Snakes and Ladders Campaign most suited to solo play where the goal is to provide narrative for the game.
I’ve been planning my Kiwis in Italy – Steven’s Wargaming Project for years, since I wrote up a piece on Kiwi Vehicle Camouflage during WW2 in 2006. Well, finally, the plan is coming to fruition. I’ve got my armour for 2 (NZ) Division in Italy. Shermans (III, IB, VC), Stuarts (V), Stuart Recces, Staghound Armoured Cars (I, II), M10 Tank Destroyers, and universal carriers. Most in the unique Mud-grey with Blue-black disruptive pattern but some in plain dark green. Yay!!
I have lots of ruins already, but I’ve mentioned “cool ruins” a couple of times over the last couple of years. Most recently in my 2021 Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian where I planned to “Buy, build, paint more 3″ x 3″ sectors so I can play both Crossfiregrad and Ponyri Station solely with cool ruins”. So what do I mean by “cool” Ruins? Well Ruins that look the best in my collection (i.e. commercial MDF structures that I’ve enhanced) and that are 3″ sectors. I don’t have enough. I want more of them, lots more of them. Here is my plan.
Bishenpur is a large village on the Tiddim Road on the western edge of the Logtak Lake in the Imphal basin. In the three battles fought at Bishenpur the Japanese 33 Division battered itself to destruction against 17 Indian Light Division. This was all part of climatic finish of the Battle of Imphal. For this post I focus on the conflict in the plains, near the road and in the villages (Bishenpur, Potsangbam and Ningthoukhong), so gloss over the actions on the Silchar track and on the roadblock at Torbung. Although other nationalities are involved, the infantry in 17 Division were primarily Gurkhas, hence the title. Almost all of this material is from Ian Lyall Grant’s brilliant book, Burma The Turning Point: The seven battles on the Tiddim Road which turned the tide of the Burma war (Grant, 1993). I drew some maps.
I have already chosen my Anglo-Indian tanks in Burma and now I need a painting Guide for them. My guide is customised for the vehicles I want. If you want something wider in scope then I can recommend two invaluable sources for Anglo-Indian tanks in Burma, both by Mark Davies; British & Indian Armoured Units Of the Burma Campaign: A Painting Guide (V1.8) and his excellent series on the 14th Army on his Jemina Fawr website (lots of links below). I have used both for my own guide.
Commandos in the 14th Army. Yup. Commandos in Burma. What is that about? Some infantry units of the 14th army had commando platoons and/or companies. These are not the British Commandos formed to fight in occupied Europe. They were something else. The question is, what where they? Who were they? What were they for?
My British and Gurkha infantry in Burma will need some armoured support. Of course Shermans and Stuarts appeared in Burma, as they did everywhere. But Lee tanks did well in Burma and, unlike other theatres, were in service until 1945. And for armoured car support I’m going for the Daimler. Where possible I’m opting for Sikh units just so these vehicles are obviously different to the same vehicles fighting in other theatres – that Sikh turban (‘Puggaree’) will stand out. However, in Burma, the Lee tank was reserved for British units. This post covers my options and my choices.
I use the Crossfire special rules from Hit the Dirt (HTD) a lot, but I’m conscious I haven’t played many of the scenarios. Recently I decided to rectify that, so when Chris and Adam came over last week I suggested they play Breakout at the Hinge, one of the HTD scenarios. This scenario is very unusual because it features a German breakout in 1941, at the height of Operational Barbarossa, when the perception is that it was the Soviets who were always the ones encircled.
Summary: Good game. Lots of terrain. Very asymmetric making it a serious challenge for both sides. Sparked lots of Observations.
I’ve got both a Welsh and a Gurkha battalion planned for the Burma Campaign. So I thought I should get a clear idea of their order of battle for Crossfire. Information is scarce, particularly for the Gurkhas. George Forty, in his “The British Army Handbook, 1939-1945”, lumps all British and Commonwealth battalions, in all theatres, together under a single order of battle. This corresponds well with the Crossfire rules themselves, which have a single organisation for a “Great Britain: Leg Infantry Battalion (1939-’45)”. However, I have found the British and Commonwealth formations in Burma were similar to, but not identical to, units in other theatres.
My Kiwis in Italy Project isn’t going well. I still haven’t started painting my the New Zealand infantry of 2 (NZ) Division in Italy. Sigh. But I do continue to make plans. I know I’ve got to do at least one carrier platoon when I finally get around to this. So I want to get my thinking straight about carriers in British / Commonwealth Leg Infantry Battalions and Motor Infantry Battalions. And Crossfire has that silly single APC carries a platoon thing, which is doubly silly for a 4-man universal carrier.