Crossfire

"CROSSFIRE is a unique set of rules for World War II company level wargaming written by Arty Conliffe and published by Quantum Printing in 1996. On this website you will find lists of CROSSFIRE websites, FAQ links, hints & strategies, as well as information regarding the CROSSFIRE supplement book 'Hit The Dirt'."

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Tips For The Crossfire Novice

15mm U.S. M8 75mm HMC.

15mm U.S. M8 75mm HMC.

You will need a large table and lots of terrain. The rules suggest covering a third of the table with terrain. I find that half is better and two thirds not too much. You need the large table to give room for manoeuvre.

You should put a few layers of terrain between starting positions and objectives, so that there is not too much open ground to cross. If you don’t do this, then the player starting with the initiative has it too easy advancing to objectives, while retaking objectives will be too hard, since it will be so easy to place defending troops in the right place to ward off an attack. You need lots of small pieces of terrain. Actually, I’d say that the amount of the table covered by terrain is less important than the number of terrain pieces, because big bits of terrain (you should have a few, though) are little more useful than small. The number of pieces of terrain between one place and another makes more difference than the amount of the table covered between one place and another. With lots of bits of terrain, defenders can not sweep large areas of open terrain with their fire, are more easily frustrated by smoke, and can less easily predict the direction of the attack.

Bear in mind that hidden deployment is a big advantage for the defender, so alter the sizes of the forces or the difficulty of the objectives accordingly.

Don’t get discouraged if the attacker gets hammered in the first game. Good play will make attack possible. The first game I played involved any attempt at forwards movement’s becoming doomed. This was partly because I didn’t have enough terrain on the board, but also because I was not a very good Crossfire player. Advancing in the open, across ground swept by machine guns, is a good way to lose lots of troops. It can seem impossible to advance at times, but, though you may lose many troops trying, you can get to grips with the enemy eventually.

Remember than close assault is likely to end large engagements of troops, rather than fire.

Give each side some 3″ mortars (81mm). Mortars help break deadlocks, but these mortars are not so huge that they take over the game.

I don’t find the victory conditions which involve numbers of initiatives to be very satisfying. If, for instance, one side has so many initiatives to achieve a goal, then these can whiz by very quickly, representing very little battle time, largely because of bad luck, with little happening on the table. If one side has to, say, hold something for five initiatives, then this encourages the other player, after four initiatives towards this count, to fling everything he’s got at the objective in a suicidal and unrealistic manner. This, and/or the defender of the objective “wins” holding the objective with one stand, having lost all other stands, and being surrounded by overwhelming forces.

Crossfire can get bogged down in a slogging match between two forces unwilling to move. One way to avoid this is to make the defender ignorant of the exact objective of the attacker. One might too even make the attacker ignorant of the defender’s objectives. This way, you don’t get a game where the defender clusters his forces around the attacker’s objective, and then just sits there, or one where the attacker just wanders around the board, knowing he is safe to do so, looking for a way in.

Classic 1/76th Airfix plastic German Infantry - perfect for Crossfire.

Classic 1/76th Airfix plastic German Infantry - perfect for Crossfire.

One scenario I have involves the attacker being told to go in and destroy target A. The defender is not told what target A is, but the defender does know everything which is on the board. The defender has orders to defend A, B, C, D, E, F and G, and may think that he has far too few forces to manage this. As the attacker moves around the board, he discovers B-G, and these are placed on the board. The attacker only wins if he has destroyed four of the targets. My thinking is 1. this makes the game far more interesting 2. Were I a senior officer deciding which commander to promote, I would favour the one who, when sent to destroy a fuel dump, returned saying that he discovered a telegraph line, railway line, V1 launch ramp, small tank hospital, radar site, AA emplacement, and accordion factory, and had destroyed them all as well as the fuel dump. The officer who just mentioned that he had seen them on his outing would be passed over for having such little initiative. Similarly, I would promote the defending officer who managed to hold six out of seven vital objectives, against a foe who might well have blown up the lot.

Parachutists are good for scenario design, as they give you an excuse for allowing troops to arrive from odd directions.

Crossfire is so very simple that pretty soon you’ll feel able to stage ambitious scenarios. Some people insist that you must never use many vehicles. Personally, I think that vehicles are fun and look good, and they do not take over a game of Crossfire, since they are so vulnerable if set upon by lots of troops, and troops are tricky things to shoot at when they have the power to move unlimited distances in one initiative, behind all that terrain.

Nikolas Lloyd