Musing on Night Fighting in Crossfire

Some musing on night fighting in Crossfire. I asked the Crossfire forum about night fighting. This is a summary of the results.

Why night favours the attacker

Mainly paraphrasing Vincent Tsao … Night attacks

  • provide concealment from observation and therefore direct fire
  • allow attacking forces to close in on or infiltrate between enemy positions.
  • mean defending troops with poor fire discipline can be confused into revealing their positions.
  • mean surprised defenders (sleeping, drunk, eating, cleaning weapons, etc) can’t react effectively … the above allows the attacking to maintain the initiative easier but …
  • are confusing hence may disorient the attacking forces, making them go in the wrong directions.

Night fighting rules in Hit the Dirt

I’ve checked Hit the Dirt and this is a summary of what is in there. Basically only three points:

HTD 1: One pivot action and one move action per initiative.

The move through glue rule. Ouch. That means lots of initiatives to get anywhere.

HTD 2: Stands in a feature providing cover that have been stationary and unfiring from the start of the game can only be shot at from inside the same feature.

That means they can be on-table but aren’t targets, so don’t necessarily have to be hidden.

HTD 3: All stands get the -1d6 protective cover modifier from direct fire, even if in the open.

So “real” cover becomes less important.

It seems to me that the HTD night fighting rules don’t address one of the factors mentioned above, e.g. surprise. Concealment is partly addressed by rules HTD 2 and 3, but I don’t think this goes far enough. The confusion factor is partly addressed by rule HTD 1 – the move through glue rule – but once again not far enough.

Ideas from Troy

Troy 4: Restrict visibility to next terrain feature.

Seems a key factor – already partly addressed by rule HTD 2 above. Does the suggestion include those features that don’t normally block LOS? I’m actually wondering if it should be that you can see in your own feature, plus out into the open, but not beyond into the next feature – perhaps only for moonless nights.

Troy 5: Potential to pin or suppress defending troops that are surprised.

I very much like this idea

Troy 6: Pre-arranged fire plans for defender. [Troy]

Yup – need a map. I’ve been thinking about this in relation to smoke as well.

Troy 7: Mandate hidden placement for defender.

Contradicts implication of rule 2 from HTD, but reasonable to me. I wonder if this is the way to simulate the poor fire discipline of green troops who are defending, i.e. some or all green troops are deployed on table, but other troops are deployed hidden.

Troy 8: Bury the c-in-c of both sides in a dark room from where they issue orders to subordinates

clearly an optional extra

Ideas from Ian

Ian 9: Chance of defender losing the initiative instantly on gaining it.

looking for that surprise factor. Might be a bit harsh in Crossfire. Rule Troy 5 probably achieves a similar effect without being devastating.

Ian 10: During the first random clock period defenders count as one level down in expertise veterans act like regular, etc.

restricted visibility – rules Troy 4 and 5 probably make this unnecessary

Ian 11: Attacker fights as his nationality, defender drops one level e.g. Germans fight like US etc., US fight like Russians, Russians cannot move.


Ian 12. No group moves for defender for the first random clock period.

Probably also not necessary if using rule Troy 5 – there won’t be many intact groups to move.

Ian 13. No crossfires for attacker or defender, only firegroups unless defenders firing from pre-defined positions.

Seems logical but I wonder if a restriction on visibility such as rule Troy 4 might achieve the same effect.

Ian 14. No artillery/mortar fire by defender other than illumination shells.

needs to be restricted but this might be too far. With rule Troy 5 limiting direct fire weapons, and rule Troy 6 limiting off-table fire this probably isn’t necessary. But it does raise the question about the effect of illumination shells?

Ideas from Steven

I think that some combination of the above generally gets the effect, although we haven’t really addressed disorientation of moving troops – but that is a bug bear of Crossfire and other table top games in general. Couple of ideas:

Steven 15: We could give the defender a Disorientation roll – like a reactive fire roll but can be applied to any moving stand/group. Make the roll after the destination has been selected by the phasing player: on a 5 on 1d6 the move ends up in the feature immediately counter-clock wise; on a 6 it ends up in a feature immediately clock-wise; in both cases lose initiative.


Steven 16: Use the “lost in the woods” roll I suggested sometime ago, i.e. basically force a rally roll on a moving group. Failure means the initiative shifts.

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