Small Scenario


I played this scenario four times in one evening, and not in any particular rush. The rules were not far from as published.

Situation

The Germans have sent some men behind enemy lines at night to recover an immobilised StuG III. They have repaired the tracks of the vehicle, and poured enough fuel into it to get it back to friendly lines. The idea was to achieve this by night, but the plan has gone wrong. The Germans took too long to find the StuG in the darkness, and the delay has meant that now dawn has come, and it will be impossible to get back by stealth or speed alone.

The German player has to get his vehicle from one end of the table to the other. The forces I used were German and British, but you could change this to any nationality mix.

Terrain

You could play this scenario on pretty much any terrain, so long as it were fairly dense, as needed in all Crossfire games. I shall say what I used.

The table is rectangular. In the green areas of the map, it has a dense mix of fields, hills, rough ground, quite a lot of hedges, walls etc. A road cuts the table in two widthways, but has a few barricades for cover along it. Area A is suggested as a place for a village - a few buildings either side of the road. The barricades are substantial piles of rubble and timber, and have been placed deliberately to defend this village. They also prevent a continuous belt without cover across the table. Another road runs down one long edge. On this, at B is a 6 pdr AT gun behind a barricade, looking down the road. As shown, this assumes that the Germans are coming on from table end C. To reset the game to play the other way around, all you have to do is move the 6 pdr to point the other way. The road down which the AT gun looks is lined for most of its length with hedges.

Defending force

Deploys first, anywhere on table except in features within LOS of one specified end of the table, where the enemy will enter. No hidden deployment.

One CC (+1), Three platoons (regulars) each 1 PC (+1) and three rifle stands, one 2" mortar (fires direct), 1 6pdr (stats +1 ACC +1 PEN, unlike published rules) which is always deployed behind a barricade looking down the long road from the T-junction. The first two times we played, the defenders (Brits) had a PIAT as well, but we felt this unbalanced the game and removed it.

Attacking force:

Has just sneaked into enemy-held territory and recovered a StuG III, and now has to get this valuable vehicle off the far table end. Starts with initiative, enter from one table end.

1 CC (+2), Two platoons (veterans) each 3 rifle stands and 1 PC(+1), one StuG III.

Rules

Rules as published except StuG III moves and pivots as one action, and has two actions per initiative (may move then move, fire then move, or move then fire). Does 4d6 vs. troops regardless of ordinary cover. Nearest suppressed enemy troops not compulsory target priority. Fire arc 45 degrees total. Troops within base distance of it count as "escorting" and may participate in close combats.

Rules for moving through obstacles on board:

First, roll 1d6 to see if the vehicle makes it through the obstacle. Succeed on 4+ for major obstacle (hedge, barricade etc.), 3+ for lesser obstacle (walls etc.), and 2+ for minor (fences etc.).

If the first roll fails, roll again at the same chance as above. If the second roll succeeds, then it is established as possible to cross the obstacle at that point, but that for some reason the StuG didn't manage it this initiative. You may try again next initiative. If the second roll fails, then it is established that the crew has spotted that for some reason the way immediately ahead of the vehicle is blocked there. The German player may try again to pass the same terrain feature, but not where he tried before.

If the second roll fails, then there is a third roll to see if the vehicle gets stuck while trying to crash through the impassable obstacle. If the roll succeeds, then the vehicle is not stuck. If it fails, it gets stuck and the initiative is lost (=1/8 chance of a bog in a hedge). In a later initiative, the German player may try to get the vehicle going again. He must then roll 5+ to succeed, risking the initiative.

The three categorisations of obstacle leave the players free to agree on what counts as a difficult obstacle. In the four games I played, the Stug never ventured into areas of terrain feature such as fields and the like, because that was just asking to be close-assaulted and blown up, but there were plenty of linear obstacles that were near-impossible to avoid. If you have set the same scenario in the snows of Finland or the deserts of Tunisia, then you will have to agree on what is a major, lesser, or minor obstacle. I don't want to write scenarios that are very specific about terrain, because that makes them far more difficult for other people to stage, and very often the details of terrain are not what make a scenario work. I rely on the common sense of those playing.

Victory

The game ends immediately if the StuG is destroyed or if it leaves the table.

If the StuG III makes it off the far end of the table, it is a German victory. All German infantry are expendable.

If the StuG is destroyed, count the British surviving rifle stands and add the ATG if it too has survived. If the total is five or more, the British have won, otherwise it is a draw.


That's it - a very small simple scenario, but one that remained interesting for four quick games. I played Brits first and then my opponent played Brits, then we swapped table ends and each played each role again.

Results of playtests

1. Victory for Brits. Deployed two platoons forward and one back. Managed to outflank one German platoon and beat it in close combat, then close assaulted the tank with reserve platoon.

2. Victory for Brits. Germans punched a hole in the British line, and for a moment looked as though they would rush through, close combat the 6pdr crew, and then speed through with the StuG. However, the 2-action limit meant that the StuG couldn't keep up. A sneaky Brit PIAT team popped up behind a hedge and rolled a six to hit twice on the trot (first phasing, second reactive) - bang!

3. Victory for Brits. Coming on from the opposite end of the table, the German player chose to be bold and sent the StuG ahead to blast through the defenders. It blasted one stand, then got bogged on a hedge. A well-placed smoke mission isolated its escort, and the StuG was close assaulted from one flank. Bang.

4. German victory. One platoon deployed covering a central open area, which then became a problem for the defender wanting to counter-attack. The StuG and close escort went up the right hand (non road) edge, and with main gunblasts and use of vehicle for cover managed to defeat the defenders opposite, and then the German escort platoon went on a wild round-table whizz, attacking isolated British units, seeing to the 6pdr and Coy HQ. A gallant but desperate counterattack was seen off, and the StuG sped to safety.

Needless to say, both times the StuG first tried to crash through a hedge (games 3 and 4), it got bogged.

We played in 25mm scale, which perhaps suits small scenarios particularly well.

It was always tempting to throw caution to the wind and just charge the 6pdr, but this would have been a very short game, and at +1/+1 for the 6pdr, the odds weren't good. Once the PIAT was removed, the only option for the defender was close assault. A StuG III was picked because the problems of a turretless vehicle are far greater in this situation than a turreted one. Possibly it should have been allowed more actions per initiative.

Update, May 2016:Steven Thomas put an account of two play-throughs of this scenario on his site Steven's Balagan. He reported that it was possible for the defender to counter-attack early in the game, and confine the Germans to a small area of the table, using superior numbers, and suggested hidden defenders and fewer defenders. I would counsel against this change, because a nice thing about this scenario is that it is simple and quick, and hidden defence makes a game much slower and longer. Also, I should add that if you do add hidden defence, then you must also impose a definite time-limit for the German player. The hidden deployment rules for Crossfire work only in the context of the attacker's being in a hurry. The 'moving clock' rule from Hit the Dirt serves this need well. I would also counsel against the defender's being very aggressive early on. Of course, this could work, especially if the German player deploys badly, but assuming he does not, then having to attack against a StuG and two platoons makes it quite likely that an attack will falter and give the Germans an opportunity to get away. Giving the StuG more than two actions per initiative will make this approach by the defenders particularly risky. Of the nine playtests reported in detail on-line, eight have been won by the defending British. In view of this, I have changed the quality of the Germans from regular to veteran. I have also changed the British victory conditions. Originally, all infantry on both sides were expendable, and the only thing that mattered was the StuG.



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