Last year Dick Bryant published Six Small 2’x2′ Crossfire Scenarios. I’ve played four of them and really like them. Each offers a good tactical challenge but is fast to play taking no more than one hour. Dick intended them as a way to introduce novices to Crossfire. I think they work well for this and hence they are a good option for taking to a show as a participation game(s). So at SELWG 2013 I’m going to give it a go.
Little training games
I have organised larger participation games but found that I had to run impromptu training sessions every now and then for complete newbies to Crossfire. I think Dick’s small scenarios offer a more structured way of doing that.
My offering will be in parallel with Martin Groat’s larger participation games. If somebody wanders up in the middle of one of Martin’s games then I can run a short game for the new comer to fill in time and to give them a practice run with the rules. Give a complete novice a taste for how Crossfire is different. And it is different.
I like a setting for my games. Preferably one I’m kind of attached to for some reason or another. It didn’t take me long to think of a historical situation that matched the small scenarios in Dick’s collection.
Here is the extract from my Timeline of the Blue Division for 1942:
30 – 31 May
After a delay due to heavy rains the German I and XXXVIII Army Corps began a determined effort to close the neck of the Volkhov Pocket (Glantz, 2001). I Army Corps cut route Erika at 0130 hours on 31 May. By 1200 hours the two corps had a continuous front facing east and their westward facing front was established later in the day.
End May 1942
The front line in the sector of the Northwestern Front stabilized along the Lovat River (Glantz, 2001).
4 Jun 1942
The now trapped 2nd Shock Army made desperate attempts to break out eastward (Glantz, 2001). German reports described the attacking soldiers as “drunk”.
5 Jun 1942
Other Russian forces attacked the German cordon from the east, but 2nd Shock Army remained trapped (Glantz, 2001).
8 Jun 1942
The Stavka reestablished the Volkhov Front, separate from the Leningrad Front (Glantz, 2001).
Mid Jun 1942
The Russian made several failed attempts to free 2nd Shock Army (Glantz, 2001).
21 Jun 1942
The much reduced Volkhov pocket was attacked from north, west and south (Scurr, 1980). At dawn on 21 Jun a battle group under the German Colonel Burke attacked the southern flank through thickly wooded and marshy terrain. Burke’s group comprised:
- The Valentine Battalion (German) – northwest of Dolgovo
- III/262 Battalion, 250th (Blue) Division – on eastern bank of River Keresti
- A Flemish Battalion – west of Ossiya
- 250 Reconnaissance Group, 250th (Blue) Division – north and west of Bolshoye Samoshie.
III/262 Battalion thrust forward 3.5 km, but the Valentine and Flemish Battalions advanced more slowly leaving the flank of the III/262 Battalion exposed (Scurr, 1980). In the absence of their allies, III/262 Battalion was halted by Russian machine gun fire. After bringing up anti-tank guns the III/262 Battalion pushed forward again, despite fierce opposition. By 1600 hours the battalion had lost 80 men, but had reached the River Ossianka to the west of Maloye Samoshie, far ahead of its flanking units. Meanwhile the 250 Reconnaissance Group had run into strong Russian defences and was ordered to withdraw.
22 Jun 1942
In danger of being cut off the III/262 Battalion was ordered back to its start line (Scurr, 1980). Mines and Russian harassment causes nine more deaths and 67 wounded. Meanwhile 1st and 2nd Squadrons of the 250 Reconnaissance Group suffered 50% casualties in unsuccessful attacks against Russian positions near Maloye Samoshie.
23 Jun 1942
Burke’s group went in again, although this time the Germans and Flemings were given orders to push ahead at any cost, and not leave the Spanish to fight alone (Scurr, 1980). South of Maloye Samoshie German Stukas pounded the zone ahead of the advancing 250 Reconnaissance Group. Supported by four Tigers of the Heavy Panzer Battalion 502, the Reconnaissance Group forced the Russians out of their outer defensive line. To the south-west, the III/262 battalion took hundreds of prisoners in several encounters with the Russians. Three companies (9th, 10th, 12th) of III/262 battalion flushed out scattered Russian units on the east bank of the River Keresti, while the 11th Company pushed northward to link up with the 266th Norwegian Battalion advancing from the north-west.
25 Jun 1942
At midday the III/262 Battalion and 250 Reconnaissance Group put the final, and successful, assault on Maloye Samoshie (Scurr, 1980).
This incident appealed to me for a number of reasons:
- Spanish Blue Division
- Summer and all my kit is for summer. Normally I don’t care but for a participation game I thought I should
- Spanish are attacking through a mix of terrain. Woods, rivers, and a town are all in there – just like in Dick’s scenarios
I haven’t tried to match the historical events exactly. But by following the history roughly there does seem to be a logical sequence for Dick’s scenarios:
- The Woods
- The Hill
- The Farm
- The River
- The Crossroads
- The Town
I’ve also got vague ideas about a linked scenario mini-campaign and this sequence would be useful for that.
I have reformatted Dick’s scenarios so I can issue each one as a brochure. The brochures are designed to fold into three parts. Not sure whether I’ll do that but we’ll see. I guess I half hope people will just pick them up an wander off with them – they are not just for the players.
On one side of the brochure there is a blurb on the setting I’ve chosen, a plug for Crossfire, and a plug for my website.
On the other is a briefing for the specific scenario complete with map, orders of battle and victory conditions. Because there are six scenarios, and two pages per scenario, there are 12 pages in the pack. I’ll print the pack double sided and multiple copies.
One of the things I left off the brochure was morale. This was deliberate.
Dick made the attackers regular and the defenders veteran. Our play testing found this favoured the defenders too much. We recommend, for a balanced game, that both sides be regular.
Novices don’t appreciate a thrashing from more experienced players, so when introducing novices I try to give them an advantage of some kind. In my Crossfire Scenario For Novices I vary the size of each force depending on the relative experience of the players.
For these small scenarios I’ll use morale instead and leave the order of battle unchanged.
|Relative experience||Stronger player||Weaker player|
|Significant difference||Green defenders||Veteran attackers|
|Slight difference||Regular defenders||Veteran attackers|
|Balanced||Regular; toss for attacker/defender|
It is up to you what you define as “balanced”, “slight difference”, and “significant difference” in terms of experience. But if I was playing a complete novice I’d say that is “significant”. On the other hand if I play Chris we’re pretty “balanced”.
I made a few minor changes to Dick’s scenarios:
- Dick has the attackers hidden when deployed in buildings in all scenarios and regardless in The Woods scenario. I don’t let them deploy hidden at all. This is to retain game balance. Hidden, for me, is worth 50% in points.
- The Spanish get a 7.5cm infantry gun not a 120mm mortar. Wrong period for Axis forces to get a big mortar. And I give it 12FM.
- I left out any mention of being “dug in”.
- I’ve drawn the deploy area for the attacker with a red line. This is mainly because we didn’t read that carefully and gave them the full 12 inches of those sectors.
- I’ve added numbers to the features the defender can deploy in. They just have to jot the number in the table next to the stand