Sewers in Crossfire

Some musing on sewers in Crossfire. Standard Crossfire doesn’t cover sewers but sewers were an integral part of urban combat during WW2. So I wondered how to represent them in Crossfire.

1945-04 Russian with PPSh-41 pulls German soldier out of a sewer during Battle for Berlin
1945-04 Russian with PPSh-41 pulls German soldier out of a sewer during Battle for Berlin

Flames of War style sewers

Flames of War has some suggested rules for Sewers and although they are pretty abstract, in the absence of detailed sewer models/plans, they’ll probably work for Crossfire.

In an urban setting scouts can use sewers (and such like) to sneak up on the enemy. Unfortunately it was easy to get lost so movement via the sewers is not a sure thing.

The sewer rules are:

  • Make six counters for man hole covers or shell holes where sewer system has been breached. They have to be numbered 1 to 6.
  • After terrain placement the attacking player places a man hole cover on the table. The players then alternative until each player has placed three man holes (making six total). Man hole covers can be anywhere “urban”. What counts as “urban” is scenario specific but includes streets (open ground between buildings), buildings, parks (rough or field in a urban area), ruins (buildings or rough ground).
  • At the start of the game each side may allocate one reconnaissance platoon to infiltration via the sewers. Normal platoons can not be used for this purpose, only reconnaissance units.
  • An platoon infiltrating via the sewers is held off table until it emerges from the sewer.
  • Any vehicles included in the infiltrating platoon are not available during the game.
  • When the infiltrating platoon exits the sewer, all stands in the platoon must end up within one stand width of the man hole cover. Initiative is retained, although this action is susceptible to reactive fire.
  • Sewer movement is a special movement action. Roll 1d6 on each attempt at Sewer movement:
1d6 Result of Sewer Movement Description
1 Who goes there? If only one side has an infiltrating platoon in the sewer treat this option the same as Lost in the dark!.

If both sides have an infiltrating platoon in the sewer then they encounter each other and a close combat ensues. The attacker for close combat is the player who currently has initiative. Handle the close combat like assaulting a building. The Close Combat is then resolved normally. Winner gains/retains initiative.

2-3 Lost in the dark! The infiltrating platoon stays in the sewers and initiative is lost.
4 Where are we? The infiltrating platoon emerges from the sewers, but having become disoriented underground, they come out a random man hole cover. Throw 1d6 to determine which one they emerge from. Initiative is retained.
5-6 We’ve made it! The infiltrating platoon emerges from a man hole cover of the player’s choice. Initiative is retained.

Combat! Stalingrad style sewers

Combat! Stalingrad (from Critical Hit) uses a simple mechanic. You enter sewer and make a rally roll. If you pass the roll you decide which sewer hole you come out of. If you fail the roll your opponent gets to decide where they come out of.

I don’t like this for several reasons:

  • It means travelling in sewers always takes one move action and then you automatically pop out; only the destination is at question. I understand, however, that wandering in sewers was risky (people died just by walking through them let alone encountering enemy) and time-consuming and the auto pop out suggestion doesn’t reflect this. It also ignores a key element of Crossfire, i.e. the chance to lose initiative through a risky action.
  • Giving the opponent the choice of the destination on “failure” is simple, but unrealistic. In Crossfire it is also likely to be instantly fatal to the infiltrators. The enemy only has to seriously guard one manhole cover, as there is a good chance the infiltrators will pop out in front of manhole of their choice, i.e. in front of their crossfiring platoon with HMG. Doesn’t seem like a good game mechanism to me.
  • Good quality troops with good leaders (e.g. Germans) always succeed rally from pin, which I don’t think is reasonable when considering wandering in sewers. I can’t see why Germans would be better at this than anybody else. If I was going to give a modification – which I’m disinclined to – I’d give it to locals (e.g. resistance/partisans) or recon troops.
  • With a rally roll there is only two results: success and failure. But I think there are four possible results: encounter enemy (if any), wander aimlessly, pop out somewhere unexpected, pop out where you intended.
1944-09-27 Polish insurgent fighter surrendered from his position in the sewers under Warsaw Poland
1944-09-27 Polish insurgent fighter surrendered from his position in the sewers under Warsaw Poland

Leave a Reply