Back in June 2012 Andrew Fisher played my Russian Scouts scenario. Admittedly he did changed the theatre of operations, hence participants, and had the Axis attacking. In his game it was German recon troops probing a US position in Tunisia. Andrew published an after action report on the Crossfire Forum and I’ve reproduced it here with his permission. The battle report is Andrew speaking and I make a few follow up points.
Andrew’s Battle Report
We played through Steven Thomas’s Russian Scouts scenario for Crossfire last night. For figure-collection reasons the action was shifted from Russia to Tunisia, and the participants were Americans and Germans. Then, as the idea of veteran US infantry in Tunisia seemed a little improbable, the sides were swapped around, so when referring back to the scenario, remember that in this context `German’ means `Russian’, and `US’ means `German’. Simple, eh?
Neither of the players had really extensive Crossfire experience. As I had the Americans I made a couple of very modest amendments to the scenario:
- Removing the US snipers and the ammunition limits on the German mortars to reflect my greater experience with the rules (i.e. I’ve ever played before…).
- We also ignored the moving clock.
The Germans advanced fairly rapidly, aiming to break through along the very northernmost edge of the board. By coincidence this was exactly the approach I would have taken if playing the Germans, so the Americans were well prepared for this, with a platoon in the triangular field protecting an MG bunker in the woods behind it (the map is at the Balagan link above), and wire in the square field next to the compass arrow, covered by the fire of that HMG. A German squad got hung up on this wire and came under fire from the HMG, and exchange which left me significantly the worse off in victory points when the squad failed to die.
The Germans now tried to bypass the wire and over-run the triangular field, forcing the dug-in platoon in this field to reveal itself too as they sought to cross the crest line between this field and the one next to it. A short-range firefight ensured which, since the Americans were dug-in and the Germans were veterans, had rather little effect. The Germans now got caught in two minds and sent a lone PC back to their squad, still hung up on the wire, in an attempt to unsuppress and save him before my MG finally rolled some decent dice. This had the inevitable effect of getting both squad and PC killed, and the Germans lost another squad trying to push frontally into the triangular field. They seemed rather to have lost sight of their victory conditions at this point.
Eventually, after much persistence, the German mortars blew away one of the US squads in the triangular field. Honour thus satisfied, the Germans began to redeploy to scout through the village where they presumed the rest of the Americans were hiding. This presumption did not prove to be wrong. Although the easternmost buildings were clear of Americans, as their lead squad emerged from these to enter the southernmost building, they came under fire from an American platoon deployed here and were pretty quickly stopped in their tracks. Another largely ineffective firefight developed, although the German platoon suppressed in the open between buildings was, inevitably, added to the casualty pile.
Getting bogged down here, the Germans moved their point of attack again and tried to burst through the centre of the village. Here they found that the village street was mined, and the houses on the Western edge of the village were held by the third US platoon, who promptly took the squad which was attempting to cross the mines under fire. He didn’t last long. The Germans were now committed to a stationary firefight across the village street, which was roughly equal in weapons and position and casualties began to be taken on both sides. The Americans were reluctant to move their FO in order to reveal where he was, so the Germans did have the advantage of deploying their mortars effectively into this firefight. However the Germans now had only one unit – an HMG – deployed north of the main road. With his restrictive fire arc, and the crest in front of him, it was fairly easy for the US HMG to emerge from his bunker, scoot round the wire entanglement and bring the German HMG under fire from his northern flank. Alas the German, being veteran, refused to die.
We had not been keeping track of victory points, but the Germans now realised that with almost all the Americans on the table there was little for them to gain by hanging on longer, and they withdrew successfully to their start line. They had discovered two entrenchments, a bunker, one wire entanglement, a minefield and eleven US bases for the cost of 6 squads and a PC. Although two US squads had been killed, both had been lost to mortar fire so there were no `tongues’. This was therefore a US victory, largely because of the red mist that came down over the Germans every time they came under fire, which led to them trying to fight back instead of fade away.
In general we coped OK with the rules, although there were two issues:
- The hills seem not to give much visibility advantage, since you can’t see over fields (in season). This was a bit weird;
- The dug-in Russians in a field were very hard to kill, and on reflection I am not sure if they should have gotten 1 die cover from the field plus another die from the foxholes. But if they don’t add, I’m not sure what the benefit of digging in would be, whereas most WWII soldiers seem to have been clear about the benefits of digging in…
The scenario seemed balanced. The Germans probably couldn’t have easily avoided three of their casualties to mines, wire and other ambushes (at least not at our skill levels…), but the other four were avoidable so better focus on the objectives would have brought them a fairly comfortable draw.
Steven’s follow on points
A few points that arose from the battle report.
Ignoring the moving clock is fine for a practice run but with two experienced players you need something to put the pressure on the scouting force to take some risks. Otherwise they just RBF their way to victory.
Hills and Contour Lines
Hills in standard Crossfire do not to give much visibility advantage, since you can’t see over fields (in season). Personally I find this a bit weird, and Andrew felt the same way.
I always play with Hit the Dirt “contour lines” instead of standard crossfire “hills”. And we add a house rule that our hills see over fields regardless of season.
I’ve got a Summary of Terrain Types in Crossfire including HTD and my own house rules.
Andrew gave the dug in defenders two cover bonuses: -1d6 for the cover provided by the field and -1d6 for the entrenchment. That made the defenders “in a field were very hard to kill”.
In standard Crossfire these bonuses are not cumulative – you only get -1d6 regardless of there being two sources of cover. And worth remembering that fields only provide cover to direct fire, not indirect fire, whereas an entrenchment provides cover to both. So this is a modest benefit digging in in a field.
However, entrenchments is one area where standard Crossfire is weak. At the moment I’m keen on a suggestion of Concarti where troops in entrenchments get +1 for rallying as well as the normal -1d6 cover benefit. That means there is a real benefit to being dug in.
In a follow up email Andrew commented “Next time I play the scenario, I’ll be careful to hide my entrenchments on the baseline and not to put any of my troops in them… ”
Andrew might find that doesn’t quite work. Entrenchments on the baseline is fine but the deployment rules say they have to be manned. So does the bunker and two buildings in the collective farm. So if you put your fortifications back then you’ll split your force.