Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Crossfire's Recon By Fire...

The best Company sized games I've ever tried are IABSM and Fireball Forward. Both very entertaining and involving rules. Crossfire didn't actually felt like I was using any rules. But it felt like I needed to constantly make decisions based upon a grand tactical plan. Defensive plans seem to address realistic requirements. Creating supportive defensive fire lanes targeting the offensive advance positions. Holding back reserves etc…all great stuff.
Movement was effortless. My mind needed the minimum of shifting from the tactical to remembering the movement rates or various terrain modifiers or the recording of actions etc. Simple movement with the strategic plan in mind.


Recon By Fire doesn't sit well with me.

"I know the tech term used in the rule book is Recon By Fire but I don't like to imagine my "British Commando" type Platoon rampaging through the Normandy countryside like a bunch of drunken Vikings armed with automatic weapons shooting at every bush, tree and scenic cottage. I prefer to imagine there's a certain amount of stealth and snooping going on. I thought this is where the true art of WW2 warfare might lie…the vets of the war or those trained in recon would have the advantage here over the overweight green citizen solider type just drafted? (You know "Piggy" from Lord of the Flies!) I grew up in the country and before I could walk I was out hunting with my Dad and my two older brothers. Later in life when I brought out hunting my town buddies (despite being all decent athletes) they'd all act like a bunch of blind geriatric gorillas. I'm just assuming that experienced elite type troops conducted themselves with far greater stealth and poise and with a sharper ability to identify enemy positions.

At the moment we have a mechanic that doesn't make much sense to me; the British attacker sits in front of a hedgerow and rows his RBF d6…presumably blasting the hedgerow across from his own position. He rolls a 2. Which means the hidden platoon of Germans behind the bushes ahead continue to lay low because they want a shot at the Brits when they're out of the cover of their own hedgerow, so although the initiative has swung over to the Germans they're disinclined to use it. Back to the Brits…another d6…etc, etc…

I've seen recommended a moving clock mechanism that allows the defender reinforcements after a certain game time has been reached and this seems reasonable. Every time the attacker makes a recon roll the clock moves forward. I like this but only for certain scenarios…I don't want every game to be a clone of itself.

Then there's the idea of a hidden objective. Hidden from the opponent till the game starts. The defender isn't aware that one of the attacker's main objectives is actually not within its own original deployment zone, which means it is required to move and take this "hidden objective".

Again for me this seems like an inadequacy in the system or in this case the RBF rules is imposing a certain type of scenario for it to work and for me its a fairly suspect and slightly implausible scenario (at least if this was a regular scenario requirement.)

Example something like the British para operation Biting at Bruneval would have had excellent recon resources and intelligence available to it compared another Russian suicide wave launched at a possible enemy position?

Would it make sense to you if before the actual Crossfire initiative turn begins it is assumed (in most scenarios) the attacker has already scouted the battle field according to his battle plan and proper to the skill and resources at his disposal i.e. according to the actual scenario. I think this is reasonable when the attacker is Company sized or larger as in the case with Crossfire.

But how could this pre-battle scouting be represented without losing the simplicity and intuitiveness of the Crossfire system?

Lets presume the commander (you) has a plan and determines before hand that this plan requires more force-oriented information to be obtained, about a specified location and the area around it. Ideally, a reconnaissance team, would be used before hand to gain this force-oriented info on the observation area.

So the scenario should determine the strength of the commanders ability to obtain this info. Lets say its a value between 1 and 10.  We'll call this Value Recon Value (RV)

Each RV Point available can be spent before the game to scout patrol a certain area of the table. In the diagram below I've set 4 Areas of Operation (AO's).

RV's spent on a particular AO  give a positive modifier to the normal RBF d6 roll.
1st RV spent on a single AO gives a +1 modifier. 2nd RV spent gives a +2. But after that each +1 modifier on that particular terrain piece will cost 2 RV's. A "1" rolled on the Recon Dice will always be a failure.

Lets say we have a situation in a Normandy Scenario where locals have helped the US airborne scout a farm complex occupied by an unknown German Force. The local intel as well as the elite status of the airborne gives the US attacker a RV of 7. But due to a combination of prepared positions, the Germans are elite fallschirmjager and are expecting trouble this RV score is reduced to 4.

The US Commander can "spend" 4 RV's on scouting certain terrain pieces that are within the enemy's deployment zone.

In this case he decides not to concentrate too heavily in any one area and gives orders to scout the entire outskirts of the farmhouse with a general recon. In effect he's spilt up each of his RV's to give just a single +1 bonus to his RBF rolls. If the first recon doesn't get a 5 or a 6 then he doesn't get another opportunity…he has to send in a single squad or whatever he decides on.

So he rolls his first dice on the AO 1 and gets a 4.
Rolls his second dice on AO 2 and gets a 6.
Rolls his third and gets a 2
Rolls his last dice and gets another 4.

He now at least knows that the barn to the south of AO 2 is occupied by a MG Team. That is placed on the board and the commander decides to attack that point with 2 Platoons and an MG Team.

Example 2:

The Commander decides to spend his entire 4 points to scout AO 3  thoroughly giving him a 3-6 chance of scouting any enemy. He rolls a 3 and discovers that the enemy has positioned itself in a way that might allow two platoons to slip across the shallow stream and manoeuvre in behind it.