Andrew Fisher and a couple of friends played my Crossfire at Position Four: The Village P Scenario. In the absence of Russian figures they had to substitute Polish and moved the date back to 1939. And that meant replacing the StuGs with Panzer Is and IIs – totally appropriate for the Polish Campaign. Andrew kindly sent through an account of the battle. Judging from the battle report it seemed to be a good game. All words are Andrew’s.
Bob, Russ and I used this scenario tonight. As I don’t have Russians, we used my ’39 Poles and Germans. This required a change in the scenario, as the ’39 Germans (obviously) haven’t got any StuGs. I:
- replaced the 3 StuGs with 4 PzI/2PzII
- as 6 Pzi/IIs seemed a lot weaker than the original StuGs, I removed the Russian entrenchments and reduced them to 4 just ATR squads to compensate.
Neither Bob nor Russ is experienced with Crossfire.
Russ took the Germans and advanced most of his forces through Village P. The table was empty (except for hidden deployment markers) and Russ clearly found this unnerving, so he was reluctant to advance beyond the fringe of Village P, meanwhile Bob had deployed back a little in the NE sector and did not seek to oppose the Germans in the village, even where sight lines seemed to exist. Russ began to advance into the SW sector, but as his first platoon advanced onto the hill in that sector it was brought under fire by an HMG and halted. An exchange of fire began to develop, and Russ fed another platoon through the in-season field on this flank but they came under mortar fire in the Russian turn and were unable to advance. Losses were taken on both sides and Russ switched his focus back to the NE sector.
We had not quite put the terrain together correctly on the east flank, so there was a sightline from the triangular fields in the NE corner past the small woods and to the edge of Village P. Russ attempted to advance a couple of tanks and some infantry up the very east edge of the board, and uncovered an HMG in that triangular field which used the inadvertent sightline very effectively to delay and disrupt this movement. However as he pushed up this flank, Russ found that there were only a handful of other Russian units in this area and began to get more aggressive, until he finally pushed a PzII past the half-way line and found that there was an anti-tank gun in defilade behind the crest line on the road. A flank shot on a PzII felt like gilding the lilly.
However the HMG in the NE corner was finally overcome by mortar fire (as I had not let the Russians entrench), and Russ saw his way clear to seize the hill in the NE quadrant and start to develop his attack through the NE towards the NW. The hill itself was quickly taken, but a Russian rifle platoon was found lurking on the far side of it and took the Germans under fire, fairly quickly suppressing them. The Russians then went in with superior numbers and the bayonet, and surprised both players by losing the combat. Crossfire can be like that. With that platoon (and, in particular, the ATR squad in that platoon) cleared away, Russ saw an opportunity to drive one of his tanks from left to right behind the hill and take the Russians’ only AT gun from the rear. The crew was suppressed and the gun itself close-assaulted, with the inevitable result. Russ now had an FO and three tanks clustered around the NE hill, and was able to bring up a company commander and HMG to reinforce this position. His successful experience of close assault with a tank emboldened him, and he tried to drive forward, with his tanks now ahead of his infantry, but three ATRs remained hidden and they are effective weapons against tanks of this era. Bob revealed one of these in the rough in the N centre of the board, and another in the fringes of the NW woods, and advanced both boldly to confront Russ’s central tanks. A firefight developed in which Bob gradually gained the upper hand as Russ couldn’t get better than pins. Bob was also placing smoke from one of his 50mm mortars to reduce the incoming fire. Russ again decided to get aggressive and close-assaulted one of the ATRs (and an accompanying HMG) with one of his tanks. On a 6-1 this resulted in victory for the tank, but left it bogged in the small central woods.
Russ still had one platoon in reserve, and now brought it through village P and the NE quadrant into the rough areas at the very northern edge of the board, but just as he was mustering this small force to advance into the NW quadrant, the remaining Russian ATR in the central sector saw a swing around in its luck knocking out first one of the mobile tanks, and then the bogged one in a couple of shots. This, coupled with the gradually increasing losses that Russ had been taking from Russian mortars brought Russ well over 50% casualties and he conceded. As the game closed, Russ still technically held the NE sector, as there were only a couple of Russian stands in it (one rifle squad and one heroic ATR), but there were still (the rifle squads of) two entire Russian infantry companies on their hidden deployment markers, so if we had played on it did not seem likely that this could be sustained.
Conclusions and observations
Bob had strongly weighted his deployment to the NE quadrant and adopted a – to me – unconventional approach of placing his heavy weapons in front of his riflemen, such that relatively few of the riflemen were ever even revealed. Remaining mainly on the defensive he fought a mostly attritional battle with his HMGs, but the casualties the Germans suffered in dealing with them were more than they could easily sustain. Russ struggled at first to impose a clear plan on the battle, as he could not see where the enemy was. As he gradually cleared away hidden deployment markers in the NE sector he began to develop a plan to advance from E to W along the northern edge of the board but the resistance of the Russian ATR teams was just too much for him. Perhaps the German position is just too daunting for an inexperienced Crossfire player, especially with the weaker ’39-style Orbat we used. Still, a good game with challenge for both players and not a walkover for the Russians at all.