Alas, seasonal duties and a series of seasonal bugs delayed my experiments (and some deliveries tempted me into some displacement activity), but here at last is the threatened "Crossfire" experiment write-up...
First thoughts were that this would work fine with a terrain-heavy table, say for an ACW or AWI game, where men are not necessarily standing in full view of each other in a "please shoot me" manner, but on a classic 18th, 19th, medieval or Ancient style "open battlefield" - or battles on wide sweeps of veldt or steppe or deserty scrub ? Hmm.. My thoughts here, for those types of fights, were "This isn't going to work"...
So that, of course, would be the type I would try...
Normal "Hidden Enemy" rules would apply (i.e. test for each Potential Ambush Point approached) and anticipated that these would work fine in generating enemy reactive fire/presence, but my main concern was how I would manage any examples of long movement in the open and broad flanking movements, out of LoS of the other side's artillery and in areas uncontested/uncontaminated with PAPs and hostile troops.
My answer was, in the event of such moves, to test for enemy action for each significance terrain feature crossed/approached as I would for a PAP and also perform a scenario-specific Events Table test per such "move" (standard movement per troop type + 1x6D x inches) to allow for poor guides/getting lost/officer incompetence/ unexpected halts or delays ("Nice strawberries...") etc.
So, to the game. I foresee a simple scenario of two armies facing each other, with me playing one side and the AI the other. A quick set-up, and....
The field is the ground facing a corner of the friendly city of Feroozabad, which, for the sake of the narrative, is being blockaded by the enemy. MY job (coming in from the left of the top of the pic below, on the "Wrong" side of the river) is to see off the hostiles facing me, and get my lads over the bridge and ford.
I expect the immediate action to take place in the area below. There are plenty of potential PAPs, but also some large (in "Crossfire" terms) open areas where long movement could be made.
I must deploy and formulate my Plan and orders first. My troops arrive (below): three infantry brigades, in roughly three lines, two guns (in the centre) and some squadrons of cavalry in two units (one on my left, one in reserve behind the infantry left of centre). I make my plans.
My Right will advance to the ford, supported by the Centre. Once the ford has been secured we will then cross the open ground, dealing with any resistance, take the Bridge and cross with the main force there. No enemy are in sight while i make my plan.
Oh, there they are (below)....
Six large regiments of infantry (in two brigades; each regiment being half as big again as one of mine) deployed in two lines on my side of the river between the Palace and the Royal Tombs. Also visible are two large bodies of cavalry (each roughly numbering my whole cavalry strength), on the other side of the river: one on a low ridge above the bridge, the other the other side of a nullah within attack distance of the ford. However, these are just the enemy I CAN see......
I move two regiments (one European, one Sepoy) on my right wing towards the mill, so as to attempt to control the ford. Under normal "Crossfire" rules there would normally be no measuring, but I throw a red die (to see how far beyond normal move my guys have to test other than for PAPS) and get a One.
The PAPS they would pass en route (the scrub by the river and the walled enclosures under the hill) prove "safe", however, at move end, approaching the Mill, we test again and get a 6; we must make a card draw for possible enemy action/reactive fire.
This proves to be a false alarm (red numbered card). We throw to move again as we still have the Initiative. We can move nine inches (red dice) but must test at move end for enemy action (card draw again).
My chaps complete their move, blithely approaching the mill.
Then I draw the card - at the same time dice testing for the flanking PAPs.
Nine of Spades... This produces nine stands of enemy opening Reactive Fire at close range from the mill. Bad result for me.
My right flank units come under reactive fire (they don't need that), make a decision test (dice) and elect to fall back.
My guys get nastily hit, their brigadier is killed, they are staggered - and the enemy gains the Initiative. Their two brigades facing my guys test - and will advance.
As the enemy start moving my artillery are permitted Reactive Fire, but I have to decide when to shoot - at long range - and keep them at a distance while reducing hits, and my chance to take the Initiative, or wait till they get closer - maybe even up to close range....
I decide to open up at medium range and my gunners shoot at the enemy.
Great result. Two enemy units are staggered by my guns. as a result. I regain the Initiative
Meanwhile, my left wing advances, triggering a hidden Enemy Test at "move end".
A six - I must make a card draw.
Oh dear... Joker - a enemy mass attack by previously unseen assailants. I throw a dice to see how many dice worth of Stands of three I face.
Five - so five dice loads.
I score eleven on the five dice - not too bad. But eleven stand of three enemy per stand. Now to discover where they are coming from. I throw three dice - one pip = one inch maximum distance - and get fourteen.
An enemy cavalry charge of eleven stands launches from the graveyard towards my Left.
As they charge my guys shoot reactively at close range, and the enemy are staggered. Excellent.
Over on the Right my general trots down the hill to try to stabilize things. He rallies my leading regiment, but his actions prompt reactive fire from the mill, and although more Shock is received it is not enough to allow the enemy to seize the Initiative.
Over on the left the enemy cavalry pull back, and as I still have the Initiative I advance my left wing. I am also able to launch my nearest cavalry at the discomforted enemy horse..
My donkey wallopers take serious casualties in the resulting melee, but the larger body of enemy is routed.
The enemy perform long range reactive fire at my moves on the left, but to no effect.
I still have Initiative, so move back to my Right. My European regiment opens fire at the enemy at the mill and their Sepoy supports charge home; intent on taking this troublesome building.This action produces reactive fire from the mill....
......and THEIR supports.
My Sepoys manage to charge home, but are thrown back, staggered - and I lose the Initiative.
The enemy now have the Initiative, on my Right they continue to shoot at my troops, and stagger my troops. They advance a regiment to the base of the central hill, then attempt to rally other units in the centre, but are only partially successful - so lose the Initiative again.
I focus on my Left, advancing and opening fire on the enemy's already Shocked infantry.
The enemy Right is discomforted and withdraws.
With most of the enemy army shaken or pulling back, and only the men near the mill seeming determined to contest the field (and as this was a one-off, experimental fight, rather than part of a campaign) I decide that will do. I have tried the method as much as I feel necessary with this fight - and anyway have to clear the decks for visitors....
Thoughts and Conclusions:
I felt that the procedures had definite merits. Certainly the Hidden enemy element worked fine with the "Crossfire" concepts - and would work equally well if applied to the kind of fight the rules are actually intended for. Next time I go down the WW2 skirmish route I will give certainly give Crossfire a solo outing.
I liked the fact that, as with the skirmishes for which the rules were designed, the Initiative aspect meant I spent a lot of thought in considering where and what actions I should carry out; balancing my wishes and needs with the fear of losing the initiative.
As the game had to be played in spurts (due to other commitments) I did get a little lost at times - so some kind of marker system indicating who had the Initiative at any one time would have been be useful to me.
When the Initiative lay with the enemy things were a bit scary - not a bad thing at ALL - as at any time a mass attack could come in, with me having to decide at what point to risk using my reactive fire (long, effective or close range). Luckily for me the AI had some dreadful failures in attempting to rally his Centre and Right.
I'm not sure that the system doesn't make certain moves over-powerful (big, sweeping attacks), on the other hand that may be more realistic than the chess-like conventions of most wargames, where you have time to think and ponder (SO unlike the real world)
I will have to think a bit about the Reactive Fire and Morale aspects a bit, but feel that it will be worthwhile thinking and tweaking the concepts. The game was fun - and certainly MUCH quicker to play than my usual "Activation Draw" way.
So, there are. A worthwhile exercise..
Meanwhile, I have started the new year with some reading, researching and musing over 6mm gaming/Solo campaign priorities for 2023...
Should it be the "This Ain't The 45" project (which I feel needs more Jacobites. The Irregular Miniatures ones are lovely, but ideally want mixing with the H&R ECW Highlanders, which are sweet and compatible, but which have not been re-issued yet) or the "This ain't Turkestan" one (which needs more folk painting up/converting)...? Hmmm....
Re. the former: an hour or two spent looking at lovely, lovely maps (links) may have swung the balance....
We history lovers (& gamers) are SO lucky regarding the resources at our fingertips these days.
There will likely be a hiatus here on the old Blog - as we may well be moving house in the next few weeks and my playroom activities are likely to be mothballed as we tidy, titivate and throw all hands to the pumps and attempt to generally make the place look ship-shape for selling...
Meanwhile, as always, comments, snipes and thoughts welcome...