Paul Ward’s video Introduction to Crossfire 5: Indirect Fire and Tanks got me thinking about a Gun versus Arm Matrix in Crossfire again. Lots of people have done this before as it offers a way to align the armour rules with infantry rules. In my earlier Gun versus Arm Matrix in Crossfire there are suggestions from Robert Tesfro, Si Booknek, Steve Phenow, and of course Paul Ward and myself. Plus I know that John Moher has dabbled here as well. I’m sure others have.
The trouble with all these suggestions is they make tanks impotent compared to HMG. I want to address that problem and a few other things at the same time. That is a big job and warrants a few blog posts. So here is part 1 – the design goals
I always like to start with design goals as it helps sharpen the mind. I want to achieve a number of things:
- Simpler rules
- Entire War
- All Theatres
- Appeal to tank geeks
- Don’t scare off normal players
- Grunty tanks
- Useful anti-tank rifles
- Useful 45mm anti-tank guns
- And address my wish list
Crossfire has two shooting mechanisms, anti-personnel and anti-tank, and the anti-tank system looks a bit of a bodge bolt on. They weren’t a bolt on. Arty Conliffe assures us the armour rules were designed that way for a purpose. But none-the-less, they look like an add on. It would be great to disappear that anomaly and just use the infantry shooting mechanisms.
I want rules for the entire war: Early (1939-42), Mid (1943) and Late War (1944-45). That means I have to factor in anti-tank rifles and puny tanks as well as the tank munching monsters from late war.
Appeal to tank geeks
I’m not a tank geek. I don’t know what engine a particular tank model had. I never will. And, except when I’m writing an article like this one, I don’t remember the specific guns that match the specific tank model (but wait for the geek moment … it isn’t far). Having said that, I do have a lot of tanks. It is a collector thing. Although a tank-is-a-tank game design philosophy appeals, I do want more differentiation in tanks. This is because I put different types on the table at the same time. That is not necessarily a lot of tanks, just a small number of different tanks. For example, I have the models for the Squadron HQ troop, A Squadron, 20 Armoured Regiment, 2 (NZ) Division, who fought in Italy. This troop has two Sherman IB (M4/105), a single Sherman VC (M4A4/17pdr) aka “Firefly”, and a Sherman III (M4A2). These are all Shermans but they have radically different shooting capabilities. The Sherman III, like most Shermans, had good HE from its 75mm gun but only adequate anti-tank ability. In contrast the Sherman Firefly was a tank killer, but is pants at anti-personnel because it didn’t carry HE and had no hull machine gun. And the Sherman IB had a 105mm howitzer mounted, which means it was great at anti-personnel but had terrible anti-tank capability. I want/need to differentiate these Shermans for anti-tank and anti-personnel shooting.
Don’t scare off normal players
Even though the rules need to be a bit crunchy, with stats for different vehicles, they cannot be so complicated that normal players go, “ouch, too hard!”
I found the standard Crossfire rules encouraged players to hide their tanks away from the action. They were ineffective and usually risked too many victory points to bother rolling them out of cover. I want armour rules that will encourage players to use their tanks regardless of the risks. Tanks have to pack a punch. That are grunty.
Useful anti-tank rifles:
Panzerfausts and whatnot are great, but I want to recover the anti-tank rifle from obscurity. In the Early War anti-tank rifles were the only infantry anti-tank weapons, and I want rules that work for early war. The Soviets introduced anti-tank rifles in 1941, just as the British and Germans were phasing them out. Soviet anti-tank rifles were in use until 1945. The Japanese also retained anti-tank rifles throughout the war, although they didn’t appear much in the Pacific. Ironically the US Marines did use anti-tank rifles in the Pacific. So anti-tank rifles are a thing, they have to have realistic utility through to the end of the war.
Useful 45mm anti-tank guns
Finally, the Soviet 45mm anti-tank gun. These were retained in service until 1945 despite the fact they could not hurt the German medium or heavy tanks. They were used against lighter vehicles and in an anti-personnel role. Crossfire doesn’t need the former and doesn’t enable the latter use. I also found that German 37mm anti-tank guns were quite effective as anti-personnel weapons, particularly when the crew used their MG34s in support. So another thing – light anti-tank guns used as light artillery.
In my Wishlist for Crossfire Version 2 I included a list of things I’d like improved about the Crossfire armour rules. I’ve repeated them here and this proposal should support these:
- With current rules it isn’t worth having tanks. Which even in an “infantry game” is a bit odd.
- Tanks/guns should have better fire power than infantry when factoring in both the number of dice and number of times they can shoot in an initiative (they don’t at the moment)
- In particular tanks/guns should be better at shooting at structures than infantry (they aren’t at the moment)
- Vehicles should have better fire power than their ability to close combat (they don’t at the moment particularly APC with a platoon on board but even +3 tank is a killer) and need to limit number of stands that can close combat a vehicle
- Unlimited range of Infantry Anti-tank Weapons (IAT) often get people bothered. Either limit this or give a bonus for squads with IAT in Close Combat against vehicles representing close range shooting.
- Tank/gun stats (e.g. ACC, PEN, HE) should reflect actual fire performance in total (they don’t at the moment)
- Soft skinned vehicles, e.g. unarmed trucks (for an ambush scenario for example) or Portee ATG in WW2 (OK I’m biased as I’m looking at “Technicals” for 1960-70s Portuguese Colonial War)
So I want to take the idea of a Gun versus Arm Matrix in Crossfire and stretch and bend them to fit my own design needs.