Hidden Movement in Crossfire (“Ghosts”)

Crossfire doesn’t have hidden movement only hidden deployment. Some rule sets use a system of hidden movement markers, representing both real and dummy troops, to allow hidden movement without the aid of an umpire. These are my thoughts on how this might work in Crossfire. The ideas are largely based on the concept of Blinds from “I Ain’t Been Shot Mum” (IABSM). I’m tempted to use the wargame dummies suggested on the MinatureZone for my hidden movement markers and given their appearance I’ll call the units “Ghosts” rather than blinds.

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Ghosts_P1030333.jpg (90069 bytes)Ghosts_P1030334.jpg (86736 bytes)


One of the major differences between IABSM and Crossfire is that in Crossfire there is no separate spotting action. Spotting is either RBF and/or part of direct fire. Given that difference the Ghost rule goes like this:

What Ghosts are

At any point in time a stand will be in one of three modes of concealment: Hidden, Sneaking, and Revealed. Standard Crossfire has just Hidden and Revealed (although it isn’t called that). Ghosts are about sneaking.

Mode of Concealment Represented on table by
Hidden Nothing as it is hidden deployment
Sneaking Ghost marker
Revealed Troop stands

Usually units will start the game hidden or sneaking. Sneaking units are represented by ghost markers (ghosts for short). In addition to ghosts representing real stands, there are also dummy ghosts which represent both small reconnaissance troops with no combat value and/or the rumour of enemy.

The attacker must assign troops to ghosts before the game starts. The ghosts are numbered to facilitate this. Each Ghost represents up to two Platoon Commanders (PC) and associated troops. There might be no stands (a dummy ghost), a single stand without a commander, a PC with platoon, or two PCs with their platoons. A CC might replace one of the PCs in the Ghost in which case he has the unattached company level assets with him; similarly for a BC and unattached battalion level assets. Each ghost should have an ID of some kind so you know which ghost represents what troops.

How many Ghosts can you have

There must be a limit on the number of Ghosts allowed to each player, although this might be scenario specific. There are a few of options here:

  • Just give each side an arbitrary number. For example, in the campaign No-mans Land – A Crossfire Mini-Campaign each player gets six Ghosts regardless of the number of troops deployed.
  • If you’re using the points system, then you could make each Ghost worth a certain number of points (say 5 AP). A player who buys Ghosts would have fewer points to spent on actual units. The Ghosts thus could represent small numbers of men in ones and two, sent off to confuse the enemy by making a lot of noise in all the wrong places. While they do this they deplete the actual combat forces.
  • Make the number of Ghosts related to the number of commanders (PC, CC, BC) then add some for the dummy Ghosts. There will be zero dummy Ghosts or one dummy Ghost per four, three, or two real Ghosts depending on the ability of the historical troops to conceal their movement.
Troop Type and/or Quality Suggested Number
of Dummy Ghosts
Good SS / Paras / US Rangers / Commandos 1 per 2 real
Other Airborne / Pz Grenadiers / Other SS 1 per 3 real
Veteran Regulars / US Marines / Russian Infiltrators 1 per 4 real
Regulars 0 or 1 per 5 real
Green 0 or 1 per 6 real

What Ghosts do

Ghosts can move, rally, call in indirect fire (if they contain an FO), and RBF but nothing else. All troops in a particular ghost act in concert until revealed. Effectively this means they group move and group RBF. A ghost, whether real and dummy, RBFs with 2d6 regardless of the number and type of stands it represents. A pinned ghost cannot move. Pinned ghosts rally on a 4+ but get no modifiers to the roll.

Stands must be revealed to fire, close combat or any other action not explicitly mentioned above.

From Hidden to Sneaking to Revealed

Hidden to Sneaking: Defender Ghosts

The defender can use ghosts too. Like the attacker they can have real or dummy ghosts. Hidden troops do not use ghosts until they move so a defending ghost will only appear when some troops move or when the player wants the enemy to think some troops are moving which results in a dummy ghost moving. A hidden stand that shoots reveals all stands in that feature in the normal way.

Sneaking to Revealed: How Ghosts are revealed

Ghosts are revealed when any of the following happens:

  • The enemy succeeds with RBF against the terrain feature the ghost occupies.
  • The enemy scores a suppress or higher on the ghost. This can be either phasing or reactive fire.
  • When the owning player chooses, for example, when the player wants the troops to fire.

Revealing a ghost is not an action and does not attract reactive fire itself, although a moving
ghost can draw reactive fire. Dummy ghosts are removed by being revealed.

If a ghost representing real stands is revealed in:

  • a terrain feature: all the stands it represents are placed in the terrain feature and the ghost is removed.
  • the open: Any commanders are placed within one stand width of ghost marker. All other stands are then placed within one stand width of ghost marker and/or one of the commander stands (if any). The ghost marker is then removed from the table.

If a ghost is revealed by enemy direct fire, then the suppress or kill that caused the reveal is
immediately transferred to one of the revealed stands. If this is part of reactive fire the enemy
can continue the reactive fire action once the stands are revealed by firing at subsequent stands.

Optional Rule: From Revealed to Sneaking to Hidden

In most games stands/units shouldn’t be able to go from revealed mode to sneaking or from sneaking to hidden. Once revealed stands stay revealed.

In some theatres or scenarios concealment played a much bigger role during battle so it is possible.

Revealed to Sneaking: What if a revealed stand/unit wants to sneak?

A revealed on-table “unit” can change to sneaking (i.e. a ghost) when all of the these apply.

  • The “unit” comprises a group of stands that could start the game as a Ghost, e.g. a Platoon commander and his platoon, etc.
  • All stands in the “unit” are outside line of sight to enemy.
  • The stands are deployed in a formation that would be legal when a Ghost is revealed, e.g. in the same terrain feature.

The “unit” is replaced by three markers: one dummy Ghost, one real Ghost (i.e. with the troops),
and one Spoor. The markers are placed on the location of one of the stands which must be the unit
commander if there is one

Sneaking to Hidden: What if a you want to revert to hidden

A sneaking unit (i.e. real ghost) can go to hidden when all of these apply:

  • The ghost is outside line of sight of enemy during the friendly initiative
  • The ghost remains stationary for the entire friendly initiative and following enemy initiative without taking any actions or being attacked (RBF, indirect or direct fire, close combat) by enemy.

At the end of that time the player with the ghost:

  • announces that they have fulfilled the hiding requirements
  • secretly decides, and notes, whether the leave the troops hidden at the location of the ghost or to leave them.
  • Places a spoor marker

The ghost remains on table regardless and can move away in the new player initiative.

Ghosts_P1030334.jpg (86736 bytes)



Playing solo

When playing solo, troops can be assigned randomly from a list when the ghost is revealed, not before.

How to make Ghosts

See my Ghost Hidden Movement Markerspage in the Modelling section.

1 thought on “Hidden Movement in Crossfire (“Ghosts”)”

  1. That is an intriguing idea for small unit actions, like a commando raid. It could get messy with a large force I think. In WW2 the German troops would sometimes advance with civilian clothes over their uniforms to e.g. take an important bridge and catch the enemy by surprise. Instead of a dummy marker, you could use a “civilian” stand or an “animal” stand, so there would be something to make attract the attention of the opponent and possibly make him reveal his position.


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