Sunday, 26 February 2017

Game 52 - Crossfire (at last)

So, I bought Crossfire in 1995, and we played it I guess there has been some delay between buying rules and playing them in the past, but this one probably takes the record.

In the intervening years, I've read and understood/misunderstood what they're about, heard great things and heard confusing things, and yet always had that gnawing thought at the back of my head that these rules might just the 'the' WWII and modern rules set that combines (1) ease of understanding with added difficulty to master, (2) that hard to find 'real world tactics work'  ideal and (3) absence of a turn sequence that can be manipulated and turned against the 'spirit' of the game.

So I think we've found it?

' So ...he's going to use his finger to show his opponent where we move to? No measuring tape? It'll never catch on...'

 'The bloody fool isn't even using a rigid turn sequence, PAH!'

I did get quite a jolt when during this game; the Germans had a prospective flanking maneuver across the fields, which could really have given the US Paras some trouble in their rear as they had moved too far forward - and I thought 'that's going to take him a few turns to move those troops around' until it struck me - this is Crossfire, and you CAN'T think in terms of 'bounds' or 'measured movement'. That in itself was enough to convince us that there was greatness at work here. You can't think in 'gamey' terms and time is completely elastic. If that isn't a credit to the rules, then I don't know what is.

There have been hundreds of rulesets produced since. I'm not sure I've seen many which are so far removed from the game-ist norm, and yet so close to the ebb and flow of C20th/21st battle - at least on the tabletop and in our heads. More research into Crossfire required I think...

 US Paras on the start line. One thing which stuck in my head here was the patrolling rules and jump off points from Chain of Command. Would they work here? Perhaps another game worth trying.

 German units move up the road to get a shot at the exposed US flank.

 ...while simultaneously moving to the factory. We had to take the roof off!

The Paras had a hard time getting in, and were pinned for several initiatives in turn.

Taking some chances, they moved into the field, but were pinned down.

The MG gets a lucky shot at some Germans moving through the town in the open.

The US made gains in the centre, gaining access to the factory...eventually.

While a bloody firefight was developing on the US left. This could easily have become a flanking action.

1st Platoon by now, were taking building after building, even firing on the flank attackers up the road.

Leaving only the elements at the farm to deal with.

There was such an ebb and flow in this short battle. I think we saw how flexible and powerful the system really is.

It pays to be careful, and watch for opportunities to exploit - that is the key; and you are always engaged. The sign of a sound and well designed ruleset perhaps.


  1. Very good. I had these, never used them and then sold them.... my loss I think!

    1. I think there's the odd pdf online Norm. Send me a mail if interested.

  2. The concepts of Crossfire have always intrigued me. With very little interesting WWII until recently, I passed them by. Now, I am most interested in Chain of Command. Perhaps, Crossfire should receive some consideration? Appreciate your walk-through.

    1. Thanks Jonathan. I'm very interested in CoC myself, as I've seen a few modern interpretations for Vietnam & Somalia on blogs recently, in addition to the WWII stuff.
      I'm eager to try them too.

  3. Crossfire is a superb set of rules for Infantry actions not so much if AFVs included (an abstraction too far in some regards). Agree there is nothing quite like them.
    Have tried Chain of Cmd once and found them intriguing but again very much an Infantry focus.

    1. There are a couple of sites online with alternative armour rules (, which we'll probably try out. I'm thinking squad leader scenarios will be perfect.
      Will have to try Chain of Command at some stage too. Let me know, and we could give it a run through?

  4. Looks great...and I hope you enjoyed, 20 years later!

    1. Thanks Phil. Yes, well I guess it was worth the wait :)

  5. Great write up, Darren! Yes there is much untapped potential in these rules. Your focus and thinking changes to gambling on keeping the initiative and you quickly learn the value of suppressing the enemy and moving along covered routes.
    We have been playing crossfire as our company rules of choice lately and they have not disappointed us. The resources available at the balagan site also breathe new life into the game. (We played 2 games with armor and they worked magnificently). We also utilize the macs missions pick up game system and that gives the game a nice feel with the addition of a forward and rear area for both players.

    Glad to see you enjoyed the game and i hope to see more batreps in the future?

    As you stated, squad leader has huge potential for scenarios here.

  6. Thanks Steven. It was your site that inspired us to (eventually) try these out. Now, we're talking about all sorts of scenarios, and Steve Balagan's site has some wonderful stuff as you say.

    Watching your Friday night games for inspiration too :)

    We should probably try a few linked scenarios on the blogs and see what happens.

    Also seeing the use for Vietnam/Modern.

  7. I bought this set of rules back in the late 90's, managed to get in few games with friends but haven't played for a long time. I love the rules, .... unfortunately my gaming buddies hate them 😢. Nice game pictures by the way.

    1. Thanks John. Yeah, I kind of had these rules on the shelf for decades...
      They still hold up though. In fact, I would argue, they're probably more relevant now than ever - the systems are nice and simple and adaptable.