Unit Identification and Stand Labels in Crossfire

Some musing on unit identification and stand labels in Crossfire. All stands need to identified with a system along the lines of:

  • if you’ve got several battalions, then each battalion has an identifier of some kind (I’ve tried colours, letters, and numbers)
  • Each company in the battalion is numbered 1, 2, 3, etc.
  • Each platoon in each company is also numbered 1, 2, 3 etc
  • Squads with Infantry Anti-tank (IAT) weapons are marked somehow. I mark one stand / platoon as having IAT in addition to their normal weapons. This scheme has the advantage that for particular games I can specify any of these possibilities:
    • Marked squad has a Anti-tank rifle
    • Marked squad has a panzerfaust/bazooka/piat
    • Marked squad has a panzershreck and others have panzerfaust.
  • BC and CC are labelled as such, but PCs only have the ID of their platoon.
  • Most Battalion level assets just get the battalion ID
  • FOs are a bit different as you have to track the Fire Missions (FM) of each FO. All FOs must have a unique ID including those at Battalion level.

Standard Crossfire uses large bold Platoon and Company ID numbers on the top the stand. Nikolas Lloyd goes for a more aesthetic approach, by using different bits of terrain to show which Platoon and Company a stand is for and has specific figures for the anti-tank rifles (or panzerfausts or what have you). I wanted something in between and I’ve tried a few schemes with varying success.

Four varieties of labels

The same scene from a metre or so back gives you an idea of how visible each of these schemes would be on the table top. I don’t know about you but I can make out the numbers on the right hand stands, but not those on the left.

Four varieties of labels from one metre

Scheme 1: Back Edge Scratchings

My first scheme was to have white scratches on the back edge of each base. They were unobtrusive, only being visible when looking at the stand from behind, but being white on a dark background (green) they are pretty visible when you look for them on the table.

In this system

  • Each battalion had a colour (green in the case of the stands below, which is why you can’t see the colour)
  • Each company in the battalion is numbered I, II, and III.
  • Each platoon in each company is also numbered I, II, and III.
  • Squads with Infantry Anti-tank (IAT) weapons are marked with a red dot, but otherwise I don’t use Squad markings.

All of these go on the back edge.

Back edge scratchings

In the example, the left hand rifle squad and the PC are both from 3 platoon, 3 company. The middle rifle stand is from 2 platoon, 3 company, and is also equipped with an IAT weapon (indicated by the red dot).

Battalion level assets just get the battalion colour.

FOs are a bit different. Because you have to track the Fire Missions (FM) of each FO, all FOs must have a unique ID including those at Battalion level. You can represent the battalion FO with code of Blue IIII (four stripes) – as shown above, or do what I do, which is use an FO from the support battalion of the same nationality (e.g. Grey I).

You’ll also notice I use on-table 50 mm mortars and these are labeled just like the company HMG. They also mean I need less FOs, for example, for the Soviets who get a 50mm per company and three 81mm at Battalion level, I only use FOs for the 81mm mortars which are labeled I, II, III respectively.

The following diagram shows the organisation of my “Blue” Battalion, which happens to be a German Leg Infantry Battalion.

Unit designations for a full battalion

I’ve used this scheme for many years, but much to my frustration, there are still quite a few players who just don’t see, or don’t care, about the unit IDs. That led me to look for something slightly more obtrusive.

Scheme 2: Coloured Labels

I then had a grand scheme to have all my Spanish Civil War figures with coloured labels, one unique colour per company. In fact I went ahead and based them like that (4 battalions of them plus supports), but I then:

  1. Realised that nobody really cares if the stands are from the same company; knowing if they’re from the same platoon is more significant.
  2. Realised you can’t see the small white numbers from any distance.
  3. Changed to a new flocking style so thought I’d change all of my Spanish Civil War figures to match anyway.

Coloured labels

The label 4-2-3 means these guys are from the 3rd platoon, 2nd company, 4th Bandera of the Spanish Foreign Legion

Scheme 3: Camouflaged Labels

When I moved to a new flocking scheme I saw an opportunity to try something that I thought was rather clever, camouflaged IDs. As the new flocking scheme requires painting in white then painting over with an earth wash I thought I’d make the labels black on white, then wash over them when I painted the rest of the stand. This makes for quite a innocuous numbering scheme. Definitely the nicest looking of the options as the IDs blend into the stand very nicely and you can’t notice them, even at quite short distances. Which also means this scheme is useless for my purposes. Sigh. At least I only did one platoon to try it out.

Poor attempt at blending labels into flock

The labels L 3-3 means these guys are from the 3rd platoon, 3rd company, of the Spanish Foreign Legion

Scheme 4: White on Black

This scheme is actually pretty much like the standard Crossfire scheme – big bold numbers on top of the stand – but with the addition of the battalion ID.

The examples are a variety of Spanish Civil War Republican figures, mostly from the International Brigades.

Example Label Meaning
Labels_P1030328_CC.jpg (79787 bytes) P-1-CC Popular Army, 1st Company, Company Commander
Labels_P1030329_Platoon.jpg (102228 bytes) P-1-3 Popular Army, 1st Company, 3rd Platoon
Labels_P1030330_HMG.jpg (71454 bytes) P-1-° Popular Army, 1st Company, No Platoon
Labels_P1030331_Ghosts.jpg (104509 bytes) 07 10 Ghosts 07 and 10 – used for hidden movement.

Scheme 5: Black on White

I’m also half way through basing my Russian Naval Battalion. Due to a wee lapse of memory I’d forgotten about the White on Black scheme and printed out all the new bases using a Black on White labels, ready for camouflaging. Having since realised that the camouflage scheme is a no-goer, I’ll try leaving the white background showing, i.e. not wash over that. I’ll take a snap when its done.

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