Friday, 27 January 2017

Another new rule set............(sigh)

Tonight three of us played a WW2 game with a rule set called "Iron Cross". This a rule set that gets away from the U go I go formula and uses activation points and the ability to attempt to interrupt the opposing player during their activation phase to create a more kinetic battle field. Some of the mechanisms are reminiscent of ultra modern systems like Force on Force or Skirmish Sangin.

In basic terms, you decide on the forces and then these determine how many activation counters you have EG if you have a force of 3 tanks and 2 halftracks with two sections of infantry each, plus a command element, you would get one point for each vehicle, plus one for each section and an extra for the command - so a total of 3 for the tanks and 4 for the infantry plus 1 for the command ( note you do not get 1 each for the halftracks because you count the troops they carry instead..)

A "turn" goes on until both sides have used up all their activation tokens and can take quite some time - and the initiative can change backwards and forwards due to the fact that if, when a player tries to interrupt an opponent, he succeeds by rolling a 6, the initiative changes to that player. We played for about two and a half hours and only had two full turns, finishing the game as turn three was ending!

I quite liked the rules and the mechanisms they used - they had a similar feel to Crossfire in some ways - a lot of the ways that things happen were different, but the idea that there is no set move and players are not able to move and fire every unit on each turn in a preset sequence like most rule sets, had the same flavor of unpredictability that I like in Crossfire.

Anyway, Chris and I were the Germans of Kampfgruppe Pfeiffer during the Battle of the Bulge and Mr Bell was the US forces trying to stem the flow.

We Germans each had 1 x Tiger 1, 2 x PzKfw IV H,  1 x SdKfz 250 command car and 3 x SdKfz 251 carriers with two units of infantry each - so a total of 11 activation points each

The US had three 57mm AT guns, 2 mortars, and 6 stands of infantry on the table initially, with 3 M10 tank destroyers and 3 M3 halftracks each carrying two infantry units as reinforcements on the second turn - total of 20 points. The AT guns and infantry were deployed to prevent the Germans crossing the only bridge, with the mortars in the rear to provide indirect fire support.

The initial layout of the table - the Germans were assaulting from the far side with the aim of capturing control of the bridge. Infantry could ford the river at any point but vehicles could only cross by the bridge.

Initial German deployment - the two units in a bit of a traffic jam on the approach road to the bridge

Closer view - my command 250 is the one in the left centre

After a few activations of turn one - my Tiger is engaged in a dual with an AT gun whilst one of my Mk IV's has been brewed up by another AT gun

Chris's Kamfgruppe deploys to the left of the bridge

A view from the hill on the right flank where my Tiger took up residence for the entire game.

My panzer grenadiers debus just short of the crossroads leading to the bridge

Chris's panzer grenadiers also dismount on the left flank and prepare to assault across the river. At this point, I had knocked out one US AT gun and so had Chris, with the third deployed far behind the front line facing my right flank.

The view from behind Chris's Tiger as it covers the German left flank. In the woods to the immediate right front, his two Mk IV's wait in cover

Chris attempted a mass assault across the river at a time when the US forces were redeploying and had withdrawn into the wood and therefore could not engage the Germans as they crossed the river,. Unfortunately, only one of the three units succeeded in advancing - the other two remained on our side of the river. In ensuing activations the US forces in the woods managed to drive this loan German unit back across the river and inflicted severe damage on them in the process

The US player miscalculated his advance with two of his three M10's up the road towards the bridge and then drew attention to the fact by pointing out his M10 could see my Tiger. Of course, this meant the same was true in reverse, so when Julian tried to fire on my Tiger, I interrupted his move and returned the compliment, brewing up his M10!

View from the hill where my Tiger has been joined by my second Mk IV and one of the 251 carriers

Next activation and my Mk IV has brewed up an M3 half track. Chris had in the meantime done the same to an M3 on the other flank with long range shooting by his Tiger

My Tiger then advanced slightly and engaged the second M10, with the same result as in the previous case. The US was now down to one M10 and one AT gun, plus some infantry - we still had two Tigers and three of four Mk IV's

The end is nigh! With a bit of psyops, we conned Julian into using up a heap of his activation points, leaving us with about 6 or 8 each to his remaining 3. This is one of the critical tactical elements to this rule set - you can get into a position where you get activation after activation and the opponent cant react to your moves because he has no activation points left. This enabled Chris to advance straight up the road with his two Mk IV's., while I engaged and destroyed the last AT gun, and then Chris drove straight over the bridge, round the burning US armour, and popped a 75mm AT round right up the ass of the last remaining M10!

The view from the US side - Chris's Mk IV is in the woods in the top left and the final M10 is burning in the very centre bottom of the photo

Meanwhile, my Tiger on the hill did a little target practice and blew up another M3 halftrack

The German advance - Chris's second Mk IV is on the bridge and two of my three infantry units have crossed the river and hold the bocage line on the US side. My Tiger and Mk IV can be seen on ntheir hill in the top left and my infantry carriers are pushing down the road behind Chris's armour.

A final view from the German left flank - Chris's infantry supported by HMG fire from the 251 carriers hold the river line ready to exploit forwards

This was a fun game and I found the rules simple to pick up and understand. There are some interesting little nuances in the rules and they generally seemed to work well. I was a bit dubious when a 57mmAT gun took out my MK IV after the first couple of activations, but that turned out to have been a bit of a fluke and it didn't happen again. The mortars were pretty useless - Julian used them quite a lot and only got on target with them once in the whole game I think. All in all, these rules are a good find and I will be happy to give them another go sometime very soon!

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