Friday, 3 February 2012

Catching up on things done in 2011: Larger WW2 element bases for Crossfire

Crossfire was a really popular game at my last club, and I really enjoyed it. The thing was at least three or four members had armies, most of them several , and all in 15mm scale. Cross fire is basically a company level infantry game. I had lots of 20mm WW2 figures and lots of vehicles painted up, but I'd not based them up for any particular rules, but wanted to find a use for them.

But all things considered it didn't, at the time, really make a lot of sense to use my figures to make up a Crossfire force. I couldn't match up my forces with anyone elses as they were a different scale, and although it was of course possible to do some matched pairs of armies, all I would be doing would be duplicating in another scale the armies the other guys had. The only armies that might make sense was Japanese and Allied for the Far East, because as far as I could work out no-one else had these in 15mm. But the armies I had painted were German, US and Russian, which other people had in 15mm in abundance.

As a result. when I turned my attention to my 20mm WW2 collection, I concentrated my attention on getting a couple of armies together for the Rapid Fire ruleset, instead. In my' new' club, however, the favourite WW2 rules by far are Rapid Fire, mainly played in 20mm, sometimes 28mm. Which is great, as my armies fit right in. But no-one has heard of Crossfire, so it would actually be 'value-added' to bring some armies for Crossfire along one night to introduce it. Crossfire and Rapid Fire are different enough in scale of action and game concept. Crossfire as I mentioned is aimed at company level infantry games, Rapid Fire 'Brigade-Level' mixed arms games. Crossfire is all about sneaking through different types of terrain, looking hard to check if you can physically spot a line of fire, trying to co-ordinate fire and movement and keep your men motivated and moving forward. Rapid Fire is that much more higher level. It is about judging how much attrition a battalion can take to hold or take a position, co-ordinating armour, infantry and artillery, bringing up reinforcement and taking and holding key objectives. I don't see the two rulesets as 'rivals', they are just different takes on different aspects of gaming WW2.
And it doesn't matter what scale my Crossfire armies are in as no-one else in my new club has any armies that it makes sense to fit in with. So I could do some Crossfire Armies in 20mm. Crossfire doesn't need as many figures as you can end up using in a Rapid Fire game. A Rapid Fire battalion is around 45 figures, and you normally have several per side. For each Rapid Fire army I plan on painting up a few hundred figures. For a typical force in Crossfire, on the other hand, you would typically have around nine 'element bases' of rifles, plus some individually based platoon commanders, a company commander element, a couple of HMGs with crews and a mortar. If you base three per element that's just 27 figures for the rifle elements and maybe 40 in total including weapons crews. All the weapons and command bases are basically as per Rapid Fire, so its only the rifle elements which need to be considered.

For my first pair of WW2 armies, I gave only limited thought to having any compatibility with the Crossfire ruleset. Initially I based all the figures individually, which is obviously not much use for Crossfire, which uses elements. After my first game I revised that, and realised bigger bases enhanced the appearance and didn't change the flexiblity much if I used a mixture of figures based individually and in pairs. As far as I thought about Crossfire compatiblity at all, I thought maybe I might use a two figure base as a rifle element, or else use a two figure base plus a single figure. In Crossfire elements change their status - elements can be pinned or surpressed, for example. I thought maybe I could use a two element base plus a single figure for each Crossfire element, exchanging, the single figure (eg. to a kneeling or prone figure if pinned or a crawling or casualty figure if surpressed).

While this sounded reasonable on paper, two figure elements looked a bit puny compared to single figure platoon commanders and the idea of adding a 'status' figure didn't really look right. It was hard to tell elements apart when placed together or to identify platoon commanders, and the single figure marking 'status' didn't really make the whole element appear 'pinned' or 'surpressed'.

So my first real experimentation in making up elements for use in both Rapid Fire and Crossfire was for my Japanese and Far Eastern armies. Starting these armies off I tried some fairly large card bases (7cm by 4cm, with the corners shaved to 'round them' off, much larger than 4cm square element based used for 15mm) and tried them with three figures on them. I made up nine of these for each army - enough for a rifle companies with three rifle platoons, each of three rifle 'elements', and found I still had plenty of figures left over for lots of singles and pairs, for Rapid Fire, or Crossfire officers and NCOs, and in fact enough figures to do a few more three figure elements as well.

As I was getting ready to move house I was keen to tidy up as many loose ends, and in particular complete as much basing as possible, so as to box up as much as I could and not to have cut bases and bags of figures drifting around. I had not based any of my US forces in my new style and still had some Russian and German figures based just on small coins.

So as I was doing a lot of basing at the same time, I thought I'd knock up some more 3 figure elements for those armies, too. Some of the Russian figures were the Revell ones with snipers standing on ruined walls, so on a whim I went a bit further with the basing, cut up some cork tile scraps to make myself some more bricks to strew on the bases as rubble and a few more ruined wall corners.

I was really pleased with the look of these bases, and might go further and add some burn matchsticks and concrete rubble to really make some diorama type bases. I feel sufficiently inspired to be thinking now taking this one step further. I've already got some Revell Siberian Riflemen troops on skis and in winter snowsuits, which I was going to put on 'snow-bases' anyway, and could look great as heavily terrained element bases. There are some new Caesar Germans in greatcoats that I could use to match them. I thought about doing some of these for Rapid Fire, but baulked at the idea of painting up several battalions with, say, snow-covered bases, but with just 27 odd figures needed for a Crossfire company, having say a 'Stalingrad' set of Russians and Germans, a 'winter snow' set of Russians and Germans, and even Americans for the Ardennes is all very do-able.

In fact, given the cheapness of 20mm plastics, I'm even toying with the idea, of doing completely separate bases for pinned and suppressed figures. Pinned is fairly easy, most sets have plenty of figures kneeling and lying down, so it is easy to make up an element like this to use when the element has been pinned:

For suppressed units, figures crawling and casualty figures suggest themselves, but the problem is there are not always enough figures in a set to get sufficent 'suppressed' elements made up.

I'm thinking of experimenting with some simple 'green stuff' moulds especially for things such as ACW Fire and Fury destroyed battery markers, which could be the answer to getting some more casualty figures or even whole suppressed element bases...something to give a spin to see if it works before getting ahead of myself...

No comments:

Post a Comment