In my previous post on Ground Scale in Crossfire I concluded that anything 1:300 to 1:1700 is defensible, but my own preference is 1:1000. I’ve taken that further and compared my preference with the extremes. What do 1:300, 1:1000, and 1:1700 look like on table.
Now scaling a map is trivial, you really don’t have to do anything, just declare the map drawn to a different scale. The trick with ground scale is to match the new map against real measurements. In our case small arms range and company frontage.
The relevant sections of the Crossfire rules are:
- CF1.0 Prepare to Play, subsection Ground Scale/Time scale (p. 1): “The action takes place within the effective range of small arms”
- CF Scenario Generator (p. 31) recommends a 4’x4′ table for one company battles and 4’x6′ table for a two company battle; in the latter case the battle could be fought either length ways (4′ wide) or across the table (6′ wide)
Maximum small arms range was accepted as 400 metres. More typically small arms fire would be at 200 metres, often less. Some say 100 metres was normal combat range. That really isn’t far.
CF Scenario Generator (p. 31) recommends a 4’x4′ table for one company battles. Unit frontages varied by nation – see Infantry Unit Frontages during WW2 (covering Soviet, German and British) and USMC Unit Frontages in Late WW2. The official defensive sector of a Russian Rifle company was 700 metres wide. The Soviet figure is in the middle of the range of frontages for a German company defensive position (400-1,000 metres). British frontages were up to Up to 925 metres. USMC frontages were similar to these with a defensive frontage 1000 yards (914 metres) in open terrain, 500 yards (457 metres) in close terrain. I’ve gone for 400 and 1000 as indicative min/max frontages with a typical frontage being 700 metres. By the way, I’m using defensive figures here, not attacking, because I think the frontage of the defending force dictates the size of playing area.
For a two company battle, the CF Scenario Generator recommends a 4’x6′ table. The two company unit frontages assumes 700 metres for each company, with a 100 metre gap between. The gap could be much wider as the Soviets, for example, could allow up to 1,500 metres between companies.
I elaborate on that a lot on this in my previous post on Ground Scale in Crossfire. In this post I take existing maps and see what they look like in 1:300, 1:1000, and 1:1700. The example 4’x4′ map is that from Crossfire For Novices – A Scenario to Introduce Newbies. The example 4’x6′ map is from SU-76i in 1902nd SAP – A Crossfire Scenario.
Crossfire at 1:1000 Ground Scale
I start with 1:1000 as I think it is the most likely ground scale represented in the rules. You can look at my previous work on Ground Scale in Crossfire for why I believe this. My preference is mainly because the historical company frontages match the guidelines from the Crossfire rules: One company on a 4’x4′ table and two on a 4’x6′ table. I also think this reflects how the figures are deployed on table. An on table Crossfire force – whether a company or two company – will take up the space indicated on the the maps. It looks right.
Crossfire at 1:300 Ground Scale
Hit the Dirt says 4′ map edge is anywhere from 400 to 600 metres. This corresponds to ground scales from 1:333 up to 1:500 so on the small end of the scale. Looking at the Crossfire forum 1:300 seems to the most commonly accepted ground scale – amongst those who have an opinion. This is the low end of my analysis on Ground Scale in Crossfire.
Unfortunately 1:300 ground scale does not align with historical company frontages and the guidelines from the rules. Only if a company was on a compressed frontage would it fit on 4’x4′ table. Typical company frontages (700m) are much wider, let alone the maximum (1000m). Same problem exists with a two company frontage; a 1500 metres frontage doesn’t fit on a 4’x6′ table at 1:300 scale, not even close.
Having said all that, I can imagine this scale being appropriate for a Crossfire Scenario. It all depends on the context. If the historical combat was on a narrow frontage, with a small/weak/understrength unit, then 1:300 might be appropriate.
Crossfire at 1:1700 Ground Scale
1:1700 was at the upper end of my analysis on Ground Scale in Crossfire. Personally I think this is to big, so I’m just including it for completeness.
As you can see from the images, the company frontages (min, max, two company) are small on a table at 1:1700 ground scale. Now, that could work on a thinly defending front, which is why Soviet doctrine allowed for a gap of up to 1700 metres between companies. But generally this isn’t going to work. Particularly as the figures on table will spread, and ignore that official gap.
Crossfire at three Ground Scale
Finally a comparison of the three ground scales. 1:300 is a table 360 metres across, 1:1000 is 1200 metres, and 1:1700 is 2040 metres across.
It might just be me, but 1:300 is too small, 1:1700 is too big and 1:1000 is just right.