River Crossings – Suggestions for Crossfire Scenarios

John (?) asked the Crossfire group for advice on a scenario where the attacker is channelled through a single bridge:

It’s D-Day and a company of U.S. paratroopers have to secure a town and bridge to prevent German armor from getting to the beaches. As a crossfire scenario the German armor would only be able to cross a river that spans the table via a single bridge. From what I understand, giving the attackers only a single route to travel will weigh things heavily in favor of the defender … Its really the “single bridge” problem I’m worried about … The thing I’m most worried about in this scenario is the ability of the defender to mass all of his firepower one area – the bridge. I’m worried about it becoming a meat grinder the defender will never be able to breach. But making the river fordable will lessen the importance of the bridge.

I faced something similar in my first game with the guys at the Shed. I turned up late to the game and for my sins I was given a T60 light tank and a company of Russian infantry with which to attack across a bridge on an impassable river into prepared German positions including wire and entrenchments and held by two companies, tanks, ATGs, and massed artillery. It was a challenge, but an order is an order. I didn’t succeed, but I gave it a creditable go. I admit that my success was in part possible because one of my fellow commanders swapped his KV-2 for my T60. For some reason we both felt we got a bargain.

Here are some suggestions based on the responses of Tim Marshall, Chuck Parrott, James Doty, and myself. I also highlight where different rules from Crossfire and Hit the Dirt seem applicable.

Bridges in Crossfire

You’ve got a couple of choices in how you handle the bridge: Flat Road or as a Linear Obstacle.

Flat Road

If the bridge is flat, then you can treat it the same as a road. In other words, the bridge doesn’t stop anything and is ignored for game purposes. A move action along a road that begins a distance away from the bridge can have its endpoint on the other side of the bridge, a distance away.

This approach makes the bridge that much more valuable compared to crossing the river

Pegasus Bridge, for example, was/is flat, so treating it like a road makes sense.

Linear Obstacle

Crossfire doesn’t actually mention Bridges, or roads for that matter, but HTD does. A HTD bridgeblocks LOS regardless of how LOS crosses the bridge. Otherwise treat the crown of the Bridge as a Crest running at right angles to the traffic lanes. This means the bridge blocks LOS unless the spotter or target are touching the crest. Protective Cover from Direct Fire if target is touching the Crest and the Line of Fire crosses it. And it takes two move actions to cross (on to, then off).

Note, this makes the bridge much deadlier than the flat road option. Aside from the fact it can now be a defensive position itself, the bridge crossing will become harder as each action can draw reactive fire.

“The Bridge is wired!” – Demolitions

Regardless of how else you play the bridge, you can have it rigged for demolition. The switch should be in a defined location, and a defending stand – of any type -must at that location to blow the bridge. The bridge blows on 5+; failure passes the initiative, but you can try again in subsequent initiatives. If it blows all stands on the bridge are attacked:

  • all vehicles are destroyed.
  • all infantry stands take 5d6 barrage fire – no cover.

Rivers in Crossfire

The river might be impassable – thus concentrating the focus exclusively on the bridge, or some or all of the river might be fordable, allowing stands to wade across. You also have the option of allowing infantry to ford, but restricting vehicles to the bridge. There are various ways to handle fords, and you also have to decide if the river provides protective cover.

Protective cover in Rivers

HTD adds the possibility of protective cover when inside a river/stream. Some people also treat them as depressions, thus restricting when troops inside can be seen.

Crossfire fordable streams

In Crossfire a stream/river is fordable for its entire length. It is a linear obstacle so moving up to, across, and away from the river/stream are separate Move actions, and each attract reactive fire. The implication is that if there are few defenders on the river bank then the crossing is care free.

HTD fordable streams / Bogging Down

Bogging down from HTD seems a good way to handle river/stream crossings, as it means the attack is not necessarily channeled through the bridge, but attacking else where is risky. Bogging down can be for both armour and infantry. An example of bogging down:

  • Bog down in a stream on 4- on 1d6
  • Unbog on a 5+ (on a second die roll/move action) and become permanently mired on a 1 on this roll.
  • A bogged down vehicle is +1 to ACC to hit.

Tim’s fordable streams / bogging down

Tim Marshall uses a slightly different bogging down rule.

consider a crossing test…for infantry…2D6 are rolled on moving through the… [river]: if two “hits” are obtained, the squad is “stuck” … [in the river] … and can move no more that initiative. Initiative is not lost. For tracked vehicles … the same is done as per infantry except 4 dice are rolled.

And you can vary this according to how tough you want the crossing to be. Of course, some crossings might be easily passable by infantry (just use CF as published) but very rocky or muddy bottoms make heavy vehicles difficult. And a stuck vehicle is out of the action for that initiative if you treat the river as a depression (the miniature can’t “see” anything beyond it).

Sometimes if I’m feeling particularly contrary 8) I’ll have further attempts to get unstuck increase by a die each initiative one tries to a get vehicle unstuck…

Offensive Tactics

The US army uses an acronym for obstacle reduction/crossing: SOSR.

  • Suppress
  • Obscure
  • Secure
  • Reduce

Or in other words pound the defenders, smoke ’em, storm across, pummel ’em. Worked in history (sometimes) and can work in Crossfire.


Offensive fire power is the key to a successful attack. The attacker will need forces capable of suppressing the enemy on the far side. Got a couple of choices:

  • Indirect fire from artillery and/or mortars.
  • Direct fire support from heavy weapons and/or tanks.

Be sure to give the attacker some covered positions from where they can lay down suppressive fire on the far bank.

In a Bridge crossing game I played, firepower was largely provided by a KV-2 with its 152 mm howitzer, however, my large Russian rifle platoons with HMG support were also effective in suppressing enemy across the river. The combination managed to drive the enemy away from most of his positions on the river.


Artillery is key for the second one too. Gotta get some smoke between the bridge and the defenders. So you need to give the attacker some smoke missions.


Then it’s a matter of the attacker using them, coordinating his firepower and smoke so that he can get someone across to secure the far side. Remember that even if the defender masses firepower on the bridge, only one group fire can react to each movement action. So three platoons may watch a squad come across but only one of the platoons could react with fire. The attacker still may get across unscathed.


Once you’re on the other side, the rest is up to you.

James Doty Order of Battles

James Doty suggested a couple of Orders of Battle for Bridge scenarios.

American attacking German

If this was an American vs German scenario, I’d be thinking of a
Task Force or Team vs a company or platoon.

2 Armd Inf Co
1 Tank Co (-)
1 SP 105mm Btty
1 Mtr Btty
1 Eng Pltn

1 Inf Co (really a Bn reduced to Co Strength)
1 Mtr Btty (Bn asset)
1-3 AT section

throw in an alternate ford crossing site and that should be great

German attacking American

I’d say give the Germans:

1 Stug or tank pltn (-)
1 infantry co
1 eng sqd/pltn
1 HW Co
1 mtr btty
some 105mm arty missions

give the paras
1 infantry co (-)

skip the ford
use the regular vehicle rules
break up the bridge as terrain so that it takes 2 actions at least to get across

Put a bunch of interesting terrain around the defending side of the
bridge site–great if you have some houses, walls, hedges, on the
defending side.

Even better let the defending side be
woods/hedgrows and make the Germans exit off the map to win. Then
the paras can have the tactical alternative of ambushing the Germans
as they move down the road.

Bridgehead – A Suggestion from Mark Doherty

Mark Doherty, a wargaming mate of mine, suggested this scenario based on a computer game he plays:

This suggestion is based on a map of a small German village with stream running through the
middle. There are nominally only two ways across: a bridge and the nearby watermill which
straddles the river with an entrance on either side. This is normally the site of heavy hand to
hand or close combat fighting in our games. There’s a catch, however: you can also use the sewer
which runs under the map to pop up behind enemy lines. The objective is to take a bridgehead on
the enemy side of the river: both sides start at the edge of the map, well away from the river.

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