Crossfire is not a board game. But it could be. This is a bit of a thought experiment on what Crossfire might look like as a board game. It all came about one Saturday morning when I was having a WhatsApp conversation with my wargaming crew on “Crossfire as a board game”. I got all keen and made some counters. So here is how I see it …
There would be a board, of course. It is Crossfire so there will be lots of terrain. And there would be hexes. The number of hexes on a particular board depends on how big a piece of land each hex is meant to represent.
Rather than draw my own maps I thought I’d steal from Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) and see what that offers. I have used ASL Official Board 2, which is described as “Hills; two level three hills, light woods”.
40 metre hexes
ASL has boards with 10 x 31 hexes, each 22 mm from edge to edge. Each hex in ASL is approximately 40 metre across. For bigger games you put two or more of these boards together.
That works for Crossfire too. I assume 1:1,000 scale as the Crossfire Ground Scale. So a 3cm wide base corresponds to about 30 metres in reality. 40 metre, the size of a hex, is about the right space for a stand in the table-top game (30 metres), with a bit of space around it.
That suggests one counter per hex, and a stacking limit of one counter per hex. There would be the usual Crossfire exceptions of FOs and commanders.
A small 1.2m x 1.2m (4’x4′) table would need 30 hexes by 30 hexes. This assume 40m per hex and, at 1:1,000 scale, the table represents an area 1.2km x 1.2km. 30 hexes x 30 hexes is just about three ASL boards size by side (each is 31 hexes by 10 hexes so you get 31 hexes by 30 hexes).
That is a lot of hexes. It looks alright but it doesn’t look like my Crossfire tables.
100 metre hexes
Another way to go is to make each hex the space required for a small on-table area terrain feature. My smallest area terrain features are 10cm (4″) across and contain up to four squads. At 1:1,000 ground scale that is roughly 100 metres of real estate.
The bigger ground scale suggests a stacking limit of four counters. Remember Crossfire’s guideline that a small feature should be able to contain 4-6 squads. That seems alright to me given Infantry unit frontages during WW2. Platoons of most nations attacked on a 100m frontage, so in the board game would be stacked in one hex. Platoons defended 200-300m, sometimes wider. This would be with the squad counters of the platoon being more spread out.
A small 4’x4′ table would need 12 hexes by 12 hexes. To get an idea what that would look like I hacked together one from the same ASL board I used above. Given an ASL board is 10 x 31 hexes, I had to cut down the length (from 31 to 12 hexes) and then widen it (from 10 to 12 hexes).
I like this. Looks like a Crossfire table. It could do with more terrain, but this board is “light woods”.
A 12 x 12 hex board would be 26.4 cm across. That is quite small. Perfect as a pocket game, but multiple units in one hex would be fiddly.
I’d be tempted to go for bigger hexes on the board. Deluxe Advanced Squad Leader has 53 mm hexes rather than the normal 22 mm. That size would make managing multiple units in the same hex much easier. This bigger board, even with only 12 hexes on it, would be 63.6 cm across. A couple of feet. Seems about right. But then that is now competing with the board for the 40 metre hexes. Hmmm.
Maybe the 40 metre hexes is better after all.
Counters for units
In ASL, there are 1/2″ and 5/8″ counters (for Guns and Vehicles and Fortifications) and that difference is important in the rules. So I guess our Crossfire board game would be similar. 1/2″ (12mm) counters for squads and MG sections. The bigger 5/8″ counters for tanks, AFVS and guns.
Most counters are squads. There are some teams (FOs) and some sections (machine guns). Actually I don’t know whether the MMG unit should be a section or platoon. But hey.
For a squad, the first number is the dice rolled for shooting. The second is the close combat modifier (often zero). The third is the morale check for a rally from PIN.
Commanders have those basic attributes, but often they are dot, i.e. have no value. But they do have their commander modifiers, which I put in as a top line. These are for when they support their subordinate squads. Close combat and rally e.g. PC(+1) or PC(+1/0)
The forward observer (FO) is a bit different. The “fire” number turns into two numbers. The first of these is the barrage dice and the second number is smoke sectors. The number of sectors should be the number of hexes. The example is 6 sectors (for heavy artillery) and that would work for the 40 metre hexes. For the 100 metre hexes the smoke would be smaller e.g. 3 for heavy artillery.
Markers for unit status
Crossfire has PIN, SUPPRESS, GROUND HUG, and NO FIRE statuses. Everybody finds their own way of marking stands with this statuses. The board game needs a mechanism too.
The simplest is to have additional counters for these. Put a PIN counter about a unit counter to show it is PINNED. Ditto for SUPPRESSED etc. This would probably work with 40 metre hexes. 100 metre hexes probably get a bit messy, with multiple units in a hex each with different statuses.
Making the unit counters two sided reduces this clutter. Probably with SUPPRESSED on the back because it can’t shoot and its rally score is worse (higher)
Line of Sight
Crossfire is heavily reliant on line of sight (LOS), so the board game would need a clear definition of what line of sight means. Something like, LOS can enter blocking terrain, and pass through any contiguous hexes of the same blocking terrain, but cannot leave that blocking terrain.
Centre to Centre LOS
Crossfire uses the line from centre of one stand to the centre of the other to determine LOS. We could do that in the board game.
The example has a Russian Rifle Squad and three German stands (MMG, Rifle Squad, Engineer). The two rifle squads can see each other. There are multiple hexes of woods in between, but these are contiguous with the wood hex the German is in, so do not block line of sight.
The Russian and the German machine gun cannot see each other. A contour line is in between.
The Russian and the German engineer also cannot see each other. Line of sight is blocked by the woods feature. It might also be blocked by the house, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Probably, as a board game, we should have clearer rules so avoid the need for a judgement call.
Nearest Hex Point
I think a tighter rule is to draw a line from the two nearest hex points.
The rifles squads still see each other, as above. And the Russian and German machine gun cannot see each other.
But the ambiguity on the Russian and the engineer is removed. The line of sight from nearest hex point to nearest hex point crosses both the blocking wood (as above) but also clearly crosses the building. So LOS is blocked for two reasons.
What about when there is a straight line of hexes between the units. In this case there are two sets of “nearest hex points” but both of them show give the same result in terms of line of sight. In the following example the two rifle squads can see each other.
But what about if the two nearest hex points are at each end of a hex side, and one adjacent hex blocks and the other doesn’t? I think, in this case, LOS is blocked.
I’m sure i could go on. Oh, my god, it is a minefield.
Within a stand width
A stand width is the only measurement in Crossfire. With 40 metre hexes this would be “in same or adjacent hex”. With 100 metre hexes this would be “in same hex or trying to close assault this hex”.
With 40 metre hexes move adjacent and then close assault. Winner moves into the target hex.
With 100 metre hexes might go further and move into the target hex. Winner stays in the target hex; loser eliminated.
So is it possible to convert Crossfire to a board game? Sure it is.
Would this get more people involved in Crossfire? It might do. Although it would probably be a mostly separate group from those who play the table top version.
Will I make a Crossfire board game? Not any time soon. Perhaps if I go on a camping trip with my wargaming buddies and want to take along a game to play.
Was this a fun exercise? Absolutely.