After my Musing on Crossfire as a board game, I got talking to Markus Bruckhardt about using blocks for Crossfire. Blocks are Markus’s thing, as you can tell from his blog: Wargamer’s Block. So I thought I’d follow his lead and experiment with 3cm blocks.
Making Crossfire units with Blocks
Amazon is full of blocks in different sizes. I got both of these
- Kurtzy Small Wooden Cubes (60 Pack) – 3 x 3 x 3cm (1.18 x 1.18 x 1.18 inch) Wood Cubes – Natural Unfinished Pine Wood Blocks – Educational Craft Cubes for DIY, Stamps, Art & Crafts, Puzzles, Numbers
- Aylifu 1cm Wooden Cubes, 200pcs Natural Square Wooden Blocks Unfinished Craft Wooden Squares for Math, Puzzle Making, Crafts & DIY Projects
For this experiment I used the 3cm blocks.
I spray painted a bunch red and a bunch blue. These were for the actual fighting stands. I also make smoke (grey), minefield (black), and terrain objectives (black with red and blue faces)
I also made a bunch of labels using powerpoint. The labels are all black with white writing. A combination I use for my normal Crossfire labels. The block colour shows which side the block is for. Because I’m not going to make lots of these, I only have company and platoon numbers on the labels. For example, A-2 is the 2nd Platoon of “A” Company.
Blocks for mini-scenarios
My 60 blocks was enough for a couple of companies a side, plus supporting elements. I made up the labels for all of that, and more, but only labeled up the blocks I need for the Crossfire Freebie 1: Mini-Scenarios.
I went for Red and Blue to align with the defender and attacker colour in the Mini-Scenarios. Of course, these colours are also appropriate because I use these scenarios for Soviet and the Spanish Blue Division (in German Service).
The attacking Blue Division has two platoons plus supports.
The defending Soviets have a platoon plus supports.
As with standard Crossfire, each platoon has a Platoon Commander (PC) plus three rifle squads. Actually, for the Soviets I did a fourth squad for early war, but that isn’t used for the Mini-Scenarios. All my blocks are the same size so PCs went on the same 3cm cube as the squads. The label shows that it is a commander, not the base size.
Similarly the support arms – HMG, mortar, FO – use the same 3cm blocks, but with different labels.
Using blocks for status
The point of using blocks is to have the different statuses built into the block for the unit. There are five possible states: Ready, PIN, SUPPRESS, GROUND HUG, NO FIRE. Just rotate the cube to show the status you want.
In standard Crossfire, combinations are allowed e.g. it is possible to be PINNED, GROUND HUGGING and NO FIRE all at the same time. With the blocks this isn’t possible so we need a a house rule / tweak from standard crossfire: a PINNED or SUPPRESSED squad is also assumed to be GROUND HUGGING. That still doesn’t deal with a squad that is also NO FIRE, but I’m hoping memory will allow me to cope with this.
I painted a whole bunch of blocks grey, for smoke. I didn’t glue them together as it is easy to pull out the required number (2, 3, 4, 6) and just nudge them together.
I glued four blocks together to make a minefield. I painted it black only because I had the paint and it was a different colour to the other blocks.
Lastly I made some terrain objective markers, again with blocks. These are painted black, with one face in blue and the opposite face in red.
9 thoughts on “Crossfire using Blocks”
Those are really rather pleasing from an aesthetic point of view. I’ve occasionally though about making up some generic unit counters (or blocks) to use in games, and those look really good.
Not my cup of tea, coffee, chocolate or any beverage for that matter!
Fair cop Raymond. I don’t think they are my cup of chosen beverage either. They certainly won’t replace my figures. They have some value as a Covid-19 mitigation, facilitating outside play. But they are probably about a year late for that. So there is a chance they’ll never hit the table. I mostly did this as a thought experiment to see what blocks offer that figures don’t. The main thing being integral statuses.
I’m also doing an experiment with the 1cm magnetic blocks. For portable play. I can see some value in that if I can convince either my wife or daughters to play Crossfire while on holiday. Hmmm, fat chance.
I like it and I a strange way I think they could easily complement figures .. which addresses the rebasing issue we all hate
Looks great I would do this fro bringing a game on vacation. But I have tried magnetic units on a magnetic white board, so that I could draw the terrain on it in erasable marker! That also works well, but II have to use separate markers for pinned, etc.
All the best
PS Played my first face to face game without masks last Wed. Next is this Wed!
Excellent! I’ve started using blocks for increased portability, but I must admit these big blocks look cool. I’ve considered using Jenga blocks to play ancient battles on XIX century history atlas maps…
It’s possible to mark ‘no-fire’ in combination with other statuses. It’s much easier done than explained, but I’ll try. Let’s first assign numbers to each one of the block’s faces. Top face is #1, bottom is #2, #3-#6 are the ‘vertical’ faces. I put the three labels corresponding to pinned/suppressed/ready on #3, #4 and #5 (three contiguous ‘vertical’ faces of the block), making sure that:
– their front sides all point toward face #1
– ‘ready’ and ‘pinned’ labels are on opposite faces of the block (say #3 and #5).
I then put a ‘no-fire’ symbol on #1.
Start with the ‘ready’ label on top, and rotate the cube ‘sideways’ as the unit gets pinned/suppressed.
To mark the unit as ‘no-fire’, simply rotate the block 90° ‘backwards’. The no-fire symbol on #1 will end up being on top, and the unit’s current status will show on the ‘vertical’ face opposite to its front, still perfectly readable since it will be pointing upwards. The only possible source of confusion is if one forgets if the unit was ready or pinned before becoming ‘no-fire’, but putting those labels on opposite faces means that most of the time it’s trivial to remember which is which (unless you’re used to keep a lot of your units facing away from the enemy).
I’m not sure I’ve explained myself – this is much easier to do than to write down!
PS – I’ve house-ruled ground-hugging out of my games, but I think it would be possible to put a ground-hug symbol on face #6, in a similar vein. Simultaneously marking ground-hugging and no-fire would still be impossible, however…
Seems like removing the ground hug status would work. You have Ready, Pinned and Suppressed on three sides, and then the same but with ‘No Fire’ status in addition on the other three sides.
That could work. No Fire is much more common than Ground Hugging.