Unlimited Vehicle Movement – Revising Crossfire Anti-tank Rules 8

My recent musing on the anti-tank rules in Crossfire got me thinking about my current rules on vehicle actions. CF11.1 Vehicular Actions is massively restrictive as it only gives vehicles the option to move or shoot. So I for 20 years I’ve been giving vehicles multiple move actions (1-3 depending on speed) and unlimited shooting. Both of these rules are contrary to the unlimited actions of infantry in standard Crossfire. It would be great to give vehicles unlimited actions, like the infantry. So I look at the rules that have come before then look at options for unlimited vehicle movement.


What has come before

Before looking at unlimited movement I look at CF11.1 Vehicular Actions and my own multiple move actions and unlimited shooting.

1 Move Action: Move once or shoot once in Standard Crossfire

Have a look at Crossfire, CF11.1, p. 17-18, and you’ll find :

  • Vehicles with only MG shoot unlimited or move once per initiative
  • Other vehicles only move once or shoot once per initiative

I find this rule massively restrictive. This is what makes vehicles so impotent in the standard rules. Which is why I moved to give vehicle multiple move actions.

1-3 Move Actions: Steven’s existing house rule on Vehicular actions

Vehicular actions is an idea I lifted from the official Crossfire site. Vehicles get up to three move actions per phase, not just one. This is determined by the vehicles speed. Fast vehicles get up to 3 move actions; normal vehicles get up to 2; slow vehicles get at most 1 move action per initiative. Amongst the Soviets a SU-152 is slow speed, a T-26 is normal and a T-34 is fast. German Panzers is mostly normal speed, except the fast Pz 1 C and Pz II L. US Shermans are normal but Stuarts are fast. etc. See datasheets for details of particular vehicles/gun.

This rule has been good enough to last 20 years of play. The trouble is, it is neither standard Crossfire nor is it aligned with infantry movement. So I kind of lose twice.


Unlimited Move Actions: How to allow unlimited vehicle actions

There has to be a way to give vehicle unlimited move actions, just like the infantry. In fact some people are already doing this. I could just let tanks get unlimited movement. Unlimited movement by infantry is limited by reactive fire. Most things can shoot at infantry so threats are everywhere. But tanks have armour and that means not everything can shoot at them. In fact, most things cannot shoot at them. I think this would make them too powerful if there is nothing to balance out the unlimited movement. In standard Crossfire tanks are constrained by the one shoot or one move rule. In my current house rule they are constrained by the 1-3 movement actions.

In this section I look at other possibilities for constraining armoured movement.

Universal bazookas

Paul Ward of Tatakishi’s Tea House talks about his house rule for armour in the video Introduction to Crossfire 5: Indirect Fire and Tanks. Basically he gives tanks unlimited shooting and unlimited movement, just like infantry. Paul plays late war NW Europe and gives all his infantry squad appropriate infantry anti-tank weapons (bazooka, panzerfaust). The high density of anti-tank weapons limits vehicle actions. Looks good for NW Europe.

US Bazooka Team
US Bazooka Team

Unfortunately, the bazooka approach doesn’t work for me because I’m interested periods and campaigns that lack this high density of man portable anti-tank rocket launchers. This category of weapon only started to appear in late 1943 and were never universal. The Soviets used anti-tank rifles throughout the war and, although they might stop Panzer IIs, they are not going to stop tanks in the the late war. Similar for the Japanese – anti-tank rifles all war and only to elite divisions. Bazookas were not issued to all US squads. Nor Piats to British sections. The only exception were that some German units were issued large numbers of panzerfausts in 1945.

Lost in the woods

In Fighting the 1000 Foot General in Crossfire I explored several ways to limit movement without reactive fire. One of them is “Lost in the Woods”:

Once in any game, and only once, a Player can force their opponent to take a “Lost in the Woods” roll (or “Fog of War” roll or whatever). This must be taken at the end of an enemy move action (or group move action). The roll is just like a Rally from Pin roll, including standard modifiers; failure doesn’t affect the stand, but passes initiative (after any group move is completed).

Basically the enemy forces reactive response from the mover. In this case a rally roll.

So I could give each player a a “Lost in the Woods” roll for every enemy tank.

I don’t like it. Since my whole aim of revised anti-tank rules is to align with infantry and the “Lost in the Woods” is both different and introduces a new rule.

T-34s and Soviet infantry advancing
T-34s and Soviet infantry advancing

Hand of Fate roll

Also from Fighting the 1000 Foot General in Crossfire, and more aligned with infantry shooting, is the “Hand of Fate” roll. A Hand of Fate roll is similar to Reactive Fire. It is a 4d6 attack irrespective of cover. It can only be applied against an enemy move action. Unlike Reactive Fire, it does not need a friendly unit to be shooting, or even to be in line of sight of the target unit. Like fire combat, a Hand of Fate roll can inflict a Pin, Suppress or Kill. Initiative passes on a Suppress or Kill.

Using this rule, I could give a player a “Hand of Fate” roll for each enemy tank.

That is better than “Lost in the Woods”, but Hit The Dirt has a rule that kind of does that already for vehicles: Bogging.

Bogging HTD Special Rule

The Hit The Dirt rule for bogging of vehicles is non-standard involved a 1d6 and interpreting the results. It is not at all aligned with my design goals for my revised anti-tank rules. However, it is possible to align bogging and anti-tank mines with infantry shooting.

T-34s advancing in woods
T-34s advancing in woods

This could be the answer: use the revised bogging rule to limit vehicle actions. Vehicles could have a high risk of bogging in difficult terrain and a modest chance of bogging in easy terrain. It might be too restrictive to apply bogging on every move action, but I think it would be okay to apply when the move involves an initial pivot. Something like this ….

“Special Rule 5: Bogging down is in use. Tanks suffer a bogging attack of 3d6 when attempting a move action in woods, rough ground, rock fields, boulder fields, streams, and anti-tank obstacles (ditches, barricades). When moving off road in other circumstances, and the move action starts with a pivot, the bogging attack is only 1d6. There are no modifiers to this attack (e.g. ignore Armour).

So straight moves, outside terrain, would be fine. But fancy moves in the open would be penalised. And any moves in terrain would be very problematic.

That would be worth a play test.


Conclusions

As I mentioned, I can’t rely on universal bazookas for all period and all theatres. So I need an alternative. On balance I think increased reliance on a revised bogging rule offers the most alignment to infantry shooting while leveraging thinking from Hit The Dirt.

7 thoughts on “Unlimited Vehicle Movement – Revising Crossfire Anti-tank Rules 8”

  1. Re panzerfausts, my late father’s unit (80th Grenadier Regiment) was issued them on deployment in 1944 but through them away. Veterans from the Russian Front told them they would be targeted and run over by tanks. If you don’t have them, you can’t be made to use them. In the event, the unit was broken and routed by a US tank attack.

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  2. Personally I don’t have a problem with vehicles having limited moves and infantry unlimited. It’s not a significant complexity and it seems to work well as a rule. Strongest option to me is probably to stick with that. If considering alternatives, I like to try to work from the real situation. As I understand it, although vehicles are obviously much faster, in the sort of situation depicted by Crossfire, they tended to move very tentatively. Their visibility is poor and they are susceptible to ambush – can’t easily hide or go to ground like infantry in a dangerous situation. So, wanting to avoid a ‘lone vehicle goes on the rampage’ seems appropriate from both a realism and a game play angle. In reality, a tank probably wouldn’t push forward because even with Crossfire hidden movement, it wouldn’t have the detail of enemy forces that a player does. A ‘bogging’ variant seems good in that it reflects a vehicle being apprehensive of moving further, and the subsequent enemy play when initiative passes could reflect a vehicle blundering into a weak position. I’d consider rolling each time the vehicle moves, typically a fail means the vehicle can’t move any further this initiative, but moving player retains initiative. If it was a simple unmodified roll, that wouldn’t slow things much. I’d consider it making initiative pass, although that’s pretty punitive for mover.

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  3. I think Aidan is right to emphasise the caution exhibited by vehicles in a Crossfire environment – lots of cover, infantry creeping around, vehicles alone or fairly isolated and certainly not mutually supporting.

    I like the idea of a simple dice roll, with failure being a loss of nerve or exercise of caution on the part of the crew – meaning the vehicle cannot move again in this initiative but the vehicle’s caution does not cause the initiative to be lost.

    You could modifiy the dice roll so that open top vehicles or recce specialists are less likely to stop (a negative way of modelling their better vision and awareness).

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  4. I agree with Aidan that a simple 1d6 roll would do the trick. Passing means the vehicle is able to move again this initiative; failing means it can’t move again but this doesn’t lose the initiative.

    You take the roll when you declare that the vehicle is going to move (not afterwards); if it fails, it doesn’t move.

    This seems to me to model a solitary vehicle moving in a terrain-dense Crossfire environment – as Aidan says, there would be much caution dur to limited vision.

    Giving a positive modifier to open topped or specialist recce vehicles would also be a good idea.

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  5. Perhaps a D6 per move with 1 a fail on move 1, 3 or better required for second move, 4 for a third etc

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  6. For the most part I agree with the above sentiments. As a former modern day Cavalry Scout, deployed in armor, small arms fire can stop a tank, especially in confined areas with limited maneuver, or have it maneuver away to reassess the situation if it can, because where there are brazen enough infantry to shoot at you, there could be a time/era appropriate AT weapon. On that merit, I wouldn’t poo-poo a ‘Pin’ result from small arms fire. Or even, in the case of a buttoned-up tank, a Spot or RBF roll to be able to Phasing Fire back. In this era and terrain (WW2), many considered tanks mobile coffins.

    If you really want to make them more inline with Infantry, I could support Bog rolls of road, or even successive Bog rolls that; Pin and Suppressed, but not sure about Killed, unless it was a progressive thing. In that a vehicle is first Pinned > Suppressed > “Killed” (Abandoned) with subsequent failed Bog ‘attacks’.

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