Crossfire Training Day!

"Hunter", A Royal Marine Centaur IV CS Tank, advances in game No.2

"Hunter", A Royal Marine Centaur IV CS Tank, advances in game No.2

My friend Wayne has been expressing interest in Crossfire for gaming WW2 and Vietnam – it’s all part of his WW2 Wargaming revival (see “A Bit Of WW2 Wargaming & Some Nostalgia“) – and as he had reason to be here in Auckland the last couple of days we got together for a bit of a Crossfire introduction and training session… We played a couple of simple generic scenarios with about a company a side and the following is a brief summary and some photos of the games…

We used the same battlefield for both games – it depicted a generic part of France or NWE somewhere near Normandy (Note: some of the photos can be clicked on to view larger versions).

The Battlefield

The Battlefield

Game 1

Wayne commanded a German company and was charged with attacking from the top left of the above photo and capturing the high ground at the centre-right. I commanded a part-company of British attempting to defend the hill. The forces were:

 German Infantry Company (Veteran)

CC (+1)
MG Section (HMG Stand)
FO (for 8cm Medium Mortar Section with 6 FMs)
3 Rifle Platoons, each:

PC (+1)
3 Rifle Squads

British Infantry Company (Regular)

CC (+1)
Vickers MG Section (HMG Stand)
2 Rifle Platoons, each:

PC (+1)
3 Rifle Squads

(The British had no 2″ Light Mortars nor any heavier indirect fire support).

The game began with the German Company coming on ‘en masse’ on their right flank, and initially advancing into the wood on that flank (centre-left of the battlefield photo above) – the flank platoon closest to the centre of the battlefield came under some long-range fire from the Vickers MG Section (which was in the orchard near the centre of the battlefield) and immediately lost a squad and had others temporarily pinned or suppressed. However they soon passed out of sight of the Vickers once they entered the wood. However this advance was heading straight for the section of the battlefield with the bocage lined fields, but undeterred Wayne continued a methodical advance round the extreme right into the bocage fields – bringing the entire company through the hedgerows.

Game 1 - about halfway through - the German's have had a couple of casualties and the first of their platoons has emerged from the hedgerows on the British side of the fields, meanwhile the bulk of the British have concentrated a new line of resistance parallel to the German advance.

Game 1 - about halfway through - the German's have had a couple of casualties and the first of their platoons has emerged from the hedgerows on the British side of the fields, meanwhile the bulk of the British have concentrated a new line of resistance parallel to the German advance.

Around this time – once it became clear the entire German effort was being concentrated on a narrow front on the extreme flank – I began redeploying the British defenders, the troops in the centre and on the British right flank swung around across to the British left and formed a new line of resistance approximately 90º to their original one, and as 2 Rifle Squads held the new centre, what was the old left flank platoon supported by the Vickers HMG Section closed in on the German forces in the hedgerows (see right-centre of the above photo) to block their further advance. As the fire fight intensified two British Squads swung round behind the German forces and followed their original line of advance – coming up on the trailing Platoon and German HMG Section from behind. The British successfully overran the German Mortar FO, and the trailing flank guard Rifle Squad & HMG in a Close Combat but were then themselves eliminated. After a bit of a fire fight the Germans then forced their way into the last bocage field where the British Rifle Platoon & Vickers HMG Section were and eliminated most of them with a mix of fire & close combat before the survivors hurriedly withdrew – and shortly after when the last two remaining British Rifle Squads went “No Fire” during Reactive Fire the leading German Platoon was able to infiltrate between them and onto the objective unopposed, effectively ending the game with Wayne achieving a German Victory. Losses were approximately 3 Rifle squads, the HMG, and the Mortar FO for the Germans; and 4 Rifle Squads and the HMG for the British.

Game 2

Wayne continued to command the German company and was this time charged with defending the village crossroads against the expected British counter attack – he had a depleted Rifle Company reinforced by a couple of Armoured Cars. I commanded the attacking British Company supported by a Royal Marine Centaur IV CS tank with 95mm Howitzer. The forces were:

 German Infantry Company (Veteran)

CC (+1)
MG Section (HMG Stand)
FO (for 8cm Medium Mortar Section with 6 FMs)
3 Rifle Platoons, each:

PC (+1)
2 Rifle Squads (with Panzerfausts)

Attached schwerer Panzerspähwagen Section, with:

1 Sd.Kfz 234/1 schwerer Panzerspähwagen (2cm L/55)
1 Sd.Kfz 234/3 schwerer Panzerspähwagen (7.5cm L/24)

British Infantry Company (Regular)

CC (+1)
Vickers MG Section (HMG Stand)
FO (for 3″ Medium Mortar Section with 8 FMs)
3 Rifle Platoons, each:

PC (+1)
3 Rifle Squads (1 squad of each Platoon has a PIAT)

Attached from a Royal Marine Armoured Support Group Battery:

1 Centaur IV CS tank

(The British had no 2″ Light Mortars).

Game 2 - The initial British advance on their right - '1' Platoon and the RM Centaur

Game 2 - The initial British advance on their right - '1' Platoon and the RM Centaur

The British assault began with a rapid advance on the right flank, ‘1’ Platoon moved rapidly into the marshy pond, supported by the RMASG Centaur on the adjacent road. ‘2’ Platoon then advanced up the centre in support, to the left of the Centaur… This advance rapidly disclosed the bulk of the German defences, in fact all 3 German Rifle platoons were as a result quickly identified – Wayne had deployed these in a ‘V’ like arrangement in front of the crossroads covering the most obvious axes of advance (the two roads) – see the below photo.

Early in the game and the main German positions are quickly located - all 3 German Rifle Platoons are visible, as are the British '1' & '2' Platoons at top-right, and bottom left & right, respectively.

Early in the game and the main German positions are quickly located - all 3 German Rifle Platoons are visible, as are the British '1' & '2' Platoons at top-right, and bottom left & right, respectively.

Wayne elected to open up with Reactive Fire at the earliest opportunities to endeavour to deter the initial British advance, so consequently all the German positions were quickly disclosed; however as yet none of the German heavy support had been located (i.e. the HMG, Mortar FO, and the two s.Panzerspähwagen).

Another view of the German Positions - click on the photo for a better view.

Another view of the German Positions - click on the photo for a better view.

A fairly steady fire fight broke out at this stage between the British ‘1’ Platoon & Hunter (the RM Centaur) and the first two German Platoons (German centre & left). The British FO (Forward Observer team) for their 3″ Mortar Section (i.e. Stand – in Crossfire a Mortar or HMG Stand represents 2 or occasionally 3 real weapons, a real-life ‘Section’) also moved up in support and began to bring (rather ineffective) HE fire down on the German left-flank Platoon (Platoon 2) to supplement the small arms fire of ‘1’ Platoon. Hunter meanwhile hung back at the ford where there was some cover from the rough ground, observing the village crossroads while waiting to move forward in support (see photo above).

Another view from the German right - all 3 German Platoons are visible, along with part of the British '2' Platoon (bottom right) and the RM Centaur (top right) - click on the photo to see more.

Another view from the German right - all 3 German Platoons are visible, along with part of the British '2' Platoon (bottom right) and the RM Centaur (top right) - click on the photo to see more.

At this stage Wayne disclosed two of the German Supports, the FO for the 8cm Mortar Section appeared from the top floor of the bombed out German Headquarters building and quickly crossed the road into the field beside the crossroads that held the German right-flank Platoon (Platoon 3) – however this drew reactive fire from ‘1’ Platoon once in the field and the FO was pinned down at the rear edge of the field – but this was sufficient to provide LOS (Line of Sight) to the British in subsequent initiatives allowing the 8cm Mortar Section to be brought into action. The second manoeuvre was the appearance of the first schwerer Panzerspähwagen (Heavy Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle – the Sd.Kfz 234/1 with 2cm cannon) which was on the main road further to the German right, it opted to move off the road to get into the field between the road & stream – and promptly became immobilized in the field, losing the initiative (we used the optional bogging rules from the Hit The Dirt supplement). Wayne had hoped to bring the s.Panzerspähwagen forward to get LOS to the part of the British ‘2’ Platoon in the woody copse near the stream – while it achieved that it effectively played no significant part in the remainder of the battle as Wayne was unwilling to risk the loss of initiative by a failed attempt to ‘un-bog’ the vehicle and actions elsewhere meant it never effectively engaged ‘2’ Platoon with gunfire either!

The Sd.Kfz 231/1 s.Panzerspähwagen - it got itself bogged in this field and played no further part in the battle.

The Sd.Kfz 231/1 s.Panzerspähwagen - it got itself bogged in this field and played no further part in the battle.

Following on from this, as the main fire-fight was becoming a bit of stalemate I deployed the final British Platoon and sent it sweeping around the open undefended German right flank – this allowed it to get right to the rear of the German positions, with one Squad occupying the bombed-out German HQ building and the remainder of the Platoon moving into the orchard alongside the back road (in preparation to occupying the remaining buildings, i.e. the shop & petrol station). However the advance was stopped by the appearance of the German HMG Section who with the German CC (Company Commander) were in the Petrol Station – where the HMG proceeded to halt ‘3’ Platoon’s advance (causing Pins & Suppressions on the Squads). Wayne’s next significant move for the German forces was the disclosure of their remaining s.Panzerspähwagen (the Sd.Kfz 234/3 “Stummel” with the 7.5cm L/24 Howitzer) – it had been lingering at the crossroads just out of view of the British observing proceedings – and it chose to attempt to manoeuvre through the crossroads to move off to the German right causing it to pass into LOS of Hunter – and the RM Centaur scored a relatively lucky hit with it’s Howitzer – a 95mm HEAT round immediately making a mess and brewing up the Stummel s.Panzerspähwagen!

"Hunter" (the RM Centaur IV) with a HEAT round takes out the Sd.Kfz 234/3 s.Panzerspähwagenwhich was trying to manoeuvre at the crossroads - click for a better view.

"Hunter" (the RM Centaur IV) with a HEAT round takes out the Sd.Kfz 234/3 s.Panzerspähwagen which was trying to manoeuvre at the crossroads - click for a better view.

With the German light armour effectively out of action Hunter now moved forward from the stream ford to the apple orchard and survived an initial Panzerfaust attack from the German infantry (the odds of this succeeding was very low however – Panzerfausts needing a 6 on a D6 to hit). Hunter then proceeded to open fire on the German Platoon 1, immediately suppressing the closest Rifle Squad (the Centaur’s 95mm Howitzer was a rather fearsome weapon in the game – with 5D for firing it was a rather dangerous opponent for the Germans). Wayne subsequently fired off a Panzerfaust attack again once he regained initiative but again the odds were low for success, emphasizing the dangerous last chance nature of such weapons. Needless to say after losing the initiative as a result Wayne did not bother resorting to Panzerfausts again!

The German CC (Company Commander) and HMG Section defend the Petrol Station from the roof against '3' Platoon's attack to the rear!

The German CC (Company Commander) and HMG Section defend the Petrol Station from the roof against '3' Platoon's attack to the rear!

It was necessary for me to regularly rally the parts of ‘3’ Platoon in the orchard to the rear of the village, as the fire from the German HMG was regularly suppressing the closest Rifle Squad and to have not done so would have eventually guaranteed it’s loss. However back at the original advance on the British right some slow success was occurring – the 3″ Mortar Section was starting to rack up Suppressions on the German Platoon 2 in the wheat-field (although not enough to eliminate any squads) – so to try and achieve something more decisive the 3″ Mortar FO then shifted to firing smoke and obscured ‘1’ Platoon from the German Platoons 1 & 2 – allowing it to advance further up the British right into the next orchard near the wheat-field. As this occurred Hunter began to blast the German Platoon 1 in the apple orchard out of existence, it’s 95mm Howitzer indeed proving fearsome as it pounded the platoon, and it was supported by the fire of the Vickers HMG Section who had lingered nearby to cover the stream frontage of the orchard!

Late in Game 2 - the Sd.Kfz 234/1 is still bogged in the field and (the British) '3' Platoon is in the ruined building and the orchard in the German rear - click to see more.

Late in Game 2 - the Sd.Kfz 234/1 is still bogged in the field and (the British) '3' Platoon is in the ruined building and the orchard in the German rear - click to see more.

The final major event was the destruction of the German Platoon 2 in the wheat-field – a combination of the last 3″ Mortar Fire Mission, Hunter’s 95mm Howitzer, and some small arms fire saw both Rifle Squads incapacitated, and with the prior elimination of Platoon 1 in the apple orchard, German resistance on the British right was finally reduced – however it had taken some time to achieve and ‘3’ Platoon was still stalled in the orchard at the rear of the village. At this stage we agreed it was likely the British should achieve a comprehensive victory given unlimited time, they still had effectively their entire force (other than the 3″ Mortar support having exhausted it’s ammo), while the Germans had only 2 Rifle Squads, 1 HMG, 2 Fire Missions of 8cm Mortar Support, and the immobilized Sd.Kfz 234/1 s.Panzerspähwagen.

However, such scenario’s are generally built with some other challenge for the attacker, such as the moving clock concept in Hit The Dirt, and a quick look through the latter showed that about half the Moving Clock scenarios there had 18 time increments and half had 10-12 time increments – in most cases an increment passing on a roll of 5+ (although a couple have 4+ for extra urgency). We calculated that we’d had approximately 16-20 pairs of Initiative in our game up to this point and rolled an appropriate number of dice – the results being that about 9-10 time increments had passed in the game to date and assuming perhaps 12 increments were available there were only a few remaining initiatives for the British to achieve victory. As such we declared a draw of sorts and although we both felt the other side had the best chance of a win I think in real terms it was a Marginal German Victory up to the point we stopped despite Wayne’s losses – as the British might still struggle a little to secure the village & crossroads in the (probably) limited time remaining…

'1' Platoon make the final advance on the right - although the going was slow...

'1' Platoon make the final advance on the right - although the going was slow...

Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 games – we got through both in about 4½ hours – and it’s only the second or third outing of Crossfire I have played since World Crossfire Day back in April 2009 – so it’s been a long time between drinks! I’m looking to get back to playing a bit more Crossfire in the future… Hopefully Wayne enjoyed it and it will inspire him to get into playing some Crossfire when he’s back home (and maybe introducing one or two new gamers to it in his area). Wayne made one or two of the classic Crossfire novice mistakes, but that’s par for the course for everyone new to Crossfire, it takes a few games to lose that traditional/conventional wargamer mindset and start thinking more logically and tactically akin to real life, rather than just in terms of what the (conventional) wargaming rules say…

For anyone new to Crossfire a couple of good starting places are Rob Wolsky’s “Crossfire Tactical Advice and Nikolas Lloyd’s “Tips For The Crossfire Novice. Other useful articles are Steven Thomas’s “Scenario For Novices, and Nikolas Lloyd’s “Description and Review and Advice for New Players.

Additional Photos

Early in Game 2 showing the deployment of the 3 German Platoons.

Early in Game 2 showing the deployment of the 3 German Platoons - click for larger image.

Late in Game 2 - the Sd.Kfz 234/3 has been knocked out, Platoon 2 in the wheat field has been eliminated, and Platoon 1 forward in the orchard is being pounded by Hunter's 95mm.

Late in Game 2 - the Sd.Kfz 234/3 has been knocked out, Platoon 2 in the wheat field has been eliminated, and Platoon 1 forward in the orchard is being pounded by Hunter's 95mm - Click for larger image.

Posted in Crossfire, Europe 1944-45 Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
2 comments on “Crossfire Training Day!
  1. Kieran says:

    Nice report. I’ll give you a game when I get back from overseas

    • John says:

      Sounds Good – With a bit of luck the first of my new Russians will finally have their basing completed along with possibly some of the Pacific stuff having theirs finished too! :)

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