Crossfire for Novices – A Battle Report

Back in June 2012 Andrew Fisher played my scenario for Crossfire novices and published an after action report on the Crossfire Forum. I’ve reproduced it here. All words are Andrew’s.

David Hewkin and I played Steven Thomas’s scenario for Crossfire novices. David isn’t a complete novice, having played a few years ago. I have played a bit more, but don’t count as highly experienced by any standard, so we took the average defending force. I defended and David attacked with a company of Americans.

HayWire Crossfire Novice
HayWire Crossfire Novice for 6mm figures
Included because Andrew didn’t provide any photos and Ian sent one through separately

The defender has two platoons. I placed one platoon on the right and centre, with 2 squads in the walled field towards the northern edge of the battlefield and one squad as bodyguard for the FO on the objective hill itself. My other platoon was on the left with 2 squads rather far forward in the field just on the American side of the crest, and the other further back in the village. My HMG was also in the village. The concept of my defence was to deploy the HMG from reserve with the FO on the hilltop to delay and disrupt the enemy schwerpunkt. I did not expect to hold the hill permanently so I would use a couple of squads from whichever platoon was less heavily engaged to win it back after the Americans had taken it. Perhaps not participating fully in the spirit of the scenario, I did not share all my plans with David as attacker, but did point out where my fire lanes from my current positions were and what my FO could see.

David’s deployment favoured the centre and (his) right of the board. He initially advanced one platoon and his HMG into the field nearest his deployment area in the centre of the board. Here they faced 2 of my squads frontally, and were under observation from my FO on the hill. Unimaginatively, I started dropping mortar fire on the HMG and, when I achieved a Suppress on it, manoeuvred my own HMG to snipe at the Suppressed stand down a crack between two other terrain features. David then shifted his point of attack, moving one platoon around my far left flank, whilst bringing up another into the field where he had lost his HMG to maintain frontal pressure. There is a LOS from the objective hill right to the edge of the board here and my single rifle squad on the hill was therefore able to inflict considerable disruption on this flanking move, repeatedly pinning units as they tried to cross a patch of open ground (although never actually killing anyone). This allowed me time to bring a PC, rifle squad and my HMG into the hedged field in my left rear before the American platoon was ready to advance. When they did advance, I was able to pin them as they crossed the hedge and, over several turns’ firing, eliminate two of the three squads. The third fell back to a nearby wood.

The Americans shifted their point of attack back to the central field where their HMG had been killed and they still had an entire platoon facing 2 squads without a PC. Their shooting dice luck now turned around and they managed to kill one of these two German squads. They then went in with the bayonet against the other and scrubbed him out. Meanwhile their mortars, which had been plastering every inch of the hilltop except the bits where the Germans were actually standing, finally managed to kill the lone German rifle squad on the hill. The German FO thus found himself face-to-face with an entire platoon over-running from the fields onto the hillside. My memory of the rules was faulty, so for a moment I thought he was at least going to have the chance to pull off a heroic 6-1 on the dice, but of course he didn’t.

The scenario then gives the Germans 5 turns to counterattack and regain a foothold on the hill. I opted to bring the HMG, single squad and PC from my far left to do this because there was a reasonably covered route for them, but the problem was that these troops had been left pinned at the end of their previous firefight. I lost the initiative 4 times in succession trying to unpin them. Things came down to the wire.

Finally at the last gasp I managed to unpin my men, move them via a covered route so that they could bring the American platoon on the hill under fire, suppress the end squad and then assault him from an angle where he blocked his compatriot’s fire arcs. After winning this combat, I was then able to shoot up the rest of this American platoon.

With fragments of two platoons remaining, the Americans decided to withdraw at this stage. The result seemed historically plausible, with the Americans reaching their objective but thrown back by a counter-attack delivered along a previously-identified route.

We had time for a second run through, but this resulted in a rapid and complete American victory and is therefore scarcely worth recounting at any length.

The scenario was appropriately balanced, with the narrow German victory on the first run through mainly the result of some awful American dice luck (particularly their mortar fire, which managed I think to account for one rifle squad in the whole game). The game was engaging for both players but David was uncertain about the level of abstraction involved, and found the automatic command and control advantages that the Germans got merely for being German a bit distracting. I am not sure he is raring to play again.

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