Sunday, 24 February 2019

Quarterly Review - Westerly Wargaming

So it was time for our regular quarterly wargaming day with our friend from the West Country and new podcast star interviewee*.

In our pre-day discussion (we have a WhatsApp group to share ideas. How with it are we?) Richard expressed a desire to play "Crossfire". Right. Now "Crossfire" is one of those sets of rules that everyone says is interesting. The MNG has played it. However it was a while a go,- it was not only pre-Shedquarters, but also pre-blog. So about 10 years ago at least.

I got quite excited about "Crossfire" at the time. I was playing PBI but was not entirely satisfied, and "Crossfire" looked really clever. It soon became clear to me that not everything in the system works perfectly, and the various fora or discussion groups had a messianic zeal in trying to work through these issues whilst striving to play the game.

The game is still unique, as far as I can tell. The move/initiative switching system is ingenious, and it seems to make Line of Sight rules work properly.

Richard had given us an Eastern Front game, using a scenario he found on line. You always need a lot of terrain. The trees look great, but needed some extra weight on the bottom. Richard added washewrs through the use of a glue gun as we went on.

Gary & I took the Ruskis and Phil and Chris the Germans. We were attacking and had to capture the brown oval top centre, which is a hill. The brown oval off to the right is a depression. Gary started in the depression and really struggled to get out of it. I was on the left. My aim was to pin Chris on this side, whilst Gary took on Phil with most of our troops.

I'd started off quite well, and drew "No Fire" results from Chris' men, which I thought meant I was good to move up. Alas I hadn't picked up that the troops on the hill could see me through the gap between the brown trees and the brown felt representing a crest line. I'm quite poor at picking up LOS in games. This is partly because I wear very strong prescription glasses that are also varifocals and so from above looking down I have a parallax problem. I really need to squat down and sight every line very carefully. Or maybe I'm just crap at it full stop. Anyway the consequence of it all was that I got two basses Suppressed in the open rushing to a flanking position.

There is a point I must make here. Because LOS is so important exactly where bases of troops and terrain pieces are is even more crucial than normal. If you nudge anything, or if a felt template gets hooked up on a wooden base when moving figures the game can be changed. I guess that's where PBI from RFCM wins, with its zonal movement.

Gary moved his troops up to the rim of the depression and got involved in a serious firefight. He never worked out how to get his on-table mortar into action.

The fire fight got intense, and Gary was able to sneak a flanking unit into the wood, having pinned / suppressed his opponents.

He was then able to launch a close assault, aided by the Russian troop ability to ignore Pins when close assaulting. We ended the game at this point as we'd been playing for several hours and there weren't many Germans left, although we still hadn't captured the hill.

In the discussion over lunch we weren't sure we were doing the Close Assault moves correctly, and this is a common feeling I had with a lot of the game. CF is so different that I would guess that until you play it a lot then that's always going to be the case.

We were going to play Fighting Sail next. Gary had spruced up his ships and added flags. And then forgotten to put in the manoeuvre chits which are an essential part of the game. At least we hadn't spent ages putting the terrain out.

So my RCW game "Return to the River Don" filled the gap. This account is more incoherent than normal, for two reasons. Firstly I hadn't taken a written scenario with me. Secondly I was starting to go down with a stinking cold, so I wasn't entirely sure what was going on.

Any way, some elite White troops were attacking a Red strong point. The Reds were in place and had deployed their artillery with spotters.

The initial White assault stumbled in open ground, with the commanders having to encourage their troops forward at gunpoint.

There was much scratching of heads as to how to proceed. Gary's men on the far side were pushing through the woods under a hail of fire from Phil's men in a stanitsa.

The Red artillery started to plaster the advancing White troops.

Gary was likewise taking serious damage from the Red defenders.

Then Chris unleashed the Cossacks, who stormed across the river and rode down a unit of Richard's conscripts.

They then reformed, and together with their colleagues started a flanking manoeuvre.

It was too much for some of the Reds, who mutinied and refused to take part any further.

Apologies for poor quality of the pictures. I chose not to take my SLR and to rely on my phone. I won't make that mistake again.

We then adjourned for dinner, and by the time we'd finished it was time to pack up, and I headed home, due to feeling really cr*p. The drive home was a nightmare. For some reason the powers that be chose to close both the A43 and the A508, my two main routes back to Northampton. No signs showing warnings on the way down. Ended up driving via Milton Keynes and the M1, which added 45 minutes to my journey. I was not a happy bunny.

Otherwise an excellent day's wargaming.

* NB This content was behind a paywall when I posted this link.


  1. Yes CrossFire seems to be one of those .. so to getting it right games .. full of promise.

    DBA to me is a bit like that to me
    It seems to be set up to work historically then there is nothing to stop quirky [cheese] things happening on table .. in order to win by the rules.


    DBA Version 3 seems the best of the bunch so far

    1. I like CF as it is developed around a central concept in terms of its design. The fact that it might not quite get there doesn't detract that much for me, but I just know I'm not going to play it every week.

      DBA v3 is the best version of DBA. It works as a historical game for most of the periods, but I do feel that it is best for "mainstream" periods. You will note that I have commented elsewhere that it doesn't really do elephants in jungle warfare that well. Which is a shame for me, as three of my armies have elephants and prefer to fight in jungle.

  2. For LoS issues I have used a laser pointer in the past but it wouldn't help unless the terrain is 3D. I suppose a length of string would be out of the question as it would let you estimate range to readily>

    1. A piece of string of a straight edge works fine when doing a detailed check. My problem is that to my eyes it often doesn't seem to need to be checked, - only to be proved wrong one way or the other.