Monday, January 10, 2011

Crossfire by Arty Conliffe

I enjoyed playing Arty Conliffe's Crossfire game of World War II company-level combat back in the 90s. It had some interesting mechanics - it used no measurements (all weapon fire was assumed to be able to reach across the table) and no regular turn-based movement. The game's ebb and flow centered on whether or not the phasing player's troops could continue successful actions, such as moving without getting pinned or destroyed or firing weapons until missing. 

However, I ended up spending my WWII gaming time with Easy Eight's Battleground World War II, and let this game sit on the wayside. Once I finish my US support troops for FOW, I think I will draft them for a game of Crossfire now and then. 

According to the Crossfire website, a new or revised edition is in the works. It looks like it will address (among other things) the game's one true let-down: vehicle combat. Whereas all the infantry stands represented individual squads, heavy weapons, and commanders, the vehicle models represented about 5 vehicles. Visually, this just seemed awkward. From a gaming perspective - well, it just seemed wrong and out of balance.


  1. I think these are a neglected gem among wargames rules - a work of true originality. And (provided you play infantry against infantry, as you say) way more plausible than any other set of WWII rules I've seen - certainly more so than, ahem, FoW! ;-)

    I have pondered about using similar mechanisms for larger scale battles in other eras, as I think that the idea of initiative gives a course of a battle (a narrative if you like) far more like that of real battles than turn-based games, whether simutaneous-movement or I-Go-You-Go.

  2. Excellent point, Guy. I never considered that type of mechanic for other periods, but I can see how it could help gameplay approach certain battle narratives.

    I like the idea of fumbled initiative through bad command/control checks (ie. Rick Priestley's Warmaster Ancients and Black Powder). I wonder how those games might play outside the safety net of the regular turn-based systems. Match it with (for lack of better description) 'initiative through success' and I think you could have a system that captures the sweep of a disintegrating army in a different way. I like the idea that rally/reform options could be in place, but that a losing commander (even a highly-rated one), might not be able to use them due to the enemy's successful pressing attacks.

  3. Well here are the (very general) lines along which I am thinking (once I have my wargaming blog up and running maybe I'll be able to post systems etc, but I'm still experimenting with different 'hosts'):
    You decide who has the initiative, a process which will give the player with the initiative a certain number of initiative points, which he can store, throw into one action or spread over more than one action.
    At the moment I am playing around with ideas of 'bidding' for the amount of action within an, er, action (see how un-thought-through all this is...), expressed as a number of turns of dice throws (think something like DBx or whatever) and results.
    When those turns are up, you work out the amount of 'real time' that phase of action took.
    The you establish who has the initiative again. A player whose actions were successful will have an advantage; otherwise the other player will have an advantage. But a player may have hoarded points so that he can keep control of the battle even when his attacks are repelled.
    Etc. ...

  4. I am intrigued. Do you envision that the Player Without Initiative has a chance of interrupting or countering (or otherwise "answering") the Initiative Player's action with some sort of limited maneuver, counter-charge, or missile fire?

    I was kind of energized after your last post about trying the concept out in earlier periods - and thought about it way more than my last post suggests.

    Keep me posted regarding a wargaming blog.

  5. Indeed. Also (if he has initiative points that he can spare/wishes to spare) by reinforcing areas/moving units within his deployment (provided they aren't used in an overtly aggressive way - to initiate actions).

    I am also thinking of 'local' commanders fouling things up, e.g. (for a non-initiative player) like the French local commander at Blenheim (as he called Clerambault?) bringing in every battalion in sight to defend that village against Cutts' diversionary assaults, or (for player with initiative) like Prince Jerome feeding unit after unit into what was only supposed to be a diversion at Waterloo. Players would have to use points from their store of initiative points to stop this sort of thing happening. As you can see, I'm thinking in terms of big battles, on the whole.

    Maybe we can exchange ideas on this by e-mail?

    On the blog, will do!

  6. Old post, I know but did you do any more rules designing as hinted and do you have another blog site?

  7. Les, I don't know if you were talking to me but my wargames blog is here:

    I have done more rules designing on the lines set out, but entirely in my head! :0)