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Subject: FBF compared to Crossfire? rss

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Scott Key
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David,
You say Fireball Forward beats Crossfire? I learned about this game from some post you made elsewher [possibly in an Up Front thread?] I watched all the videos and am quite impressed but does it:
A. have the edge of your seat tension that Crossfire has?
B. I found that the initiative loss rules in Crossfire set up a situation where my actions just intuitively seemed to follow real tactics better than in most games...
C. I could play Crossfire almost without reference to the rules
D. Play well with small numbers of figs and small amounts of armor? (I never used any of the more elaborate armor variants, just the simple ones)
E. You say it has some of the narrative feel of Combat Commander. I actually have never played CC ( I play miniatures with others [now infrequently]and Boradgames mostly solo) though I am on the verge of ordering it. Can you elaborate?

I am a bit sleep deprived so this all may be hard to follow...snore
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Bob Roberts

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Interested as well.
I've read the demo version, and watched one of the videos but I'm not feelin it yet. Tim Marshall, an old school Crossfire fan if ever there was one has voiced some positive noises about Fireball Forward but I'm not sure he has actually played yet.

What makes Crossfire work, for me, is the basically unlimited movement (limited by the enemy, as it should be), which makes you consider your defense carefully, and in a similar manner to the way one would do it IRL.
Any gaps you leave will probably be full of the enemy in short order, whereas in most games without hidden movement but using limited movement, whether IGO-UGO or draw activation, you can usually count on being able to react more or less move for move with the opponent. He goes 6"... you go 6"... making it hard to exploit gaps the enemy has carelessly left, or ones you have worked very hard to create. They can move to plug the hole just as fast as you are moving to get to it. In Crossfire, gaps in your defense are quickly exploited by competent players, the unlimited movement filling in in part for the fog of war.

The other aspect I love is the constant pressure of needing to do many things RIGHT NOW, but knowing that if you screw up you give the initiative away. I NEED to rally that squad, but I also NEED to move that other squad out of that exposed position, but failing either one leaves me hanging.
Very few wargames I have played leave you feeling exhilarated but mentally exhausted like Crossfire.

How does FF compare?
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Scott Key
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Everything Badinfo said... I second... Fireball Forward looks great but I'm not sure that it replaces the mechanics that I like most: namely "free moves" and the initiative system.

All this talk of Crossfire makes me think I should play it again...
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Gabriel Gendron
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Man, I should read my Crossfire rulebook already. It's a shame I don't have any minis. Could it translate well to a board game?
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Scott Key
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As long as you have the right counters (squads,leaders,mg teams) I've always thought it would translate very well. Been meaning to do this with old SL pieces and Conflict of Heroes or Tide of Iron boards.
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Bob Roberts

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I hear ya Scott, I don't play it as often as I would like to either. So many games, so little time lol.

Gabriel, I have played Crossfire solo on VASSAL using the VASL mod with a little fudging here and there. It works, more or less.
Wouldn't be that hard to print up some counters either using NATO symbols or some artwork borrowed from some other game and print up a map, or even mount some labels on blocks and play on a map or with terrain.
1/72 scale plastic figs are pretty cheap, and you don't necessarily need to get into the whole painting thing just to play the game.

I mostly play with my 10mm figs based for the purpose, though I've also played with 15mm figs based for Flames of War (in an unsuccessful attempt to lure FOW players into the light ) but would happily play with cardboard counters or blocks if it meant getting a game in.

Sorry for the derail
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David Janik-Jones
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Hi Scott,

I'll try tackling your questions in order. Again, these are my opinions of the game formed over more than 40 years of gaming and trying to compare the pros and cons of FbF and CF as neutrally as I can.

Scott Pasha wrote:

A. have the edge of your seat tension that Crossfire has?

Yes, absolutely. This is a critical thing I look for in all my tactical wargames, miniatures or hex and chit. Up Front and CC gives this to me, as does Crossfire, where you never know how far along your plans you will fail to succeed and the momentum and initiative swings to your opponent. FbF delivers the same gut wrenching, edge of your seat decision making in ways that equal what Crossfire does. In addition, everything you wind up doing or attempting can fail or be disrupted by well-placed enemy plans and actions (and my son's hidden German MGs hiding behind stone farm walls).

Scott Pasha wrote:

B. I found that the initiative loss rules in Crossfire set up a situation where my actions just intuitively seemed to follow real tactics better than in most games

As I said above, I want to use real world WW2 tactics and decisions and expect these to succeed in a way that mirrors what I expect would have occurred in real life. Intuitive, simple, flowing rules that reflect the nature of WW2 tactical combat is precisely what FbF delivers. The ebb and flow of battle at this scale is well captured in FbF, and the rules and gameplay deliver outstanding story/narrative elements that will have you remembering each action. Plus the mechanic whereby you can move, rally, fire, rout etc in any order works amazingly well, and helps you develop your newest plans as things go wrong (or right). Morale and rallying are also really great rules.

Scott Pasha wrote:

C. I could play Crossfire almost without reference to the rules

Ditto with FbF. 21 pages of half-sized pages (because the other half is taken up with clear examples and illustrations) will get you playing with snipers, hidden movement, terrain, etc. Combat (firing and close combat) are all easy die rolls (even with the few, easily remembered modifiers) and the inclusion of the very neat "range dice" mechanic adds a realistic and superbly thought through idea about effective fire over ranges and terrain types. Terrain rules are easy yet realistic as well.

Scott Pasha wrote:

D. Play well with small numbers of figs and small amounts of armor? (I never used any of the more elaborate armor variants, just the simple ones)

Yes, again. I normally play fairly small actions, nothing ever much bigger than a company. My last game of FbF has a reinforced British platoon facing two squads of dug-in Germans with an HQ and two MG units in a small group of building around a manor house. The British won, but the advance on my left through an open field was initially disastrous in the face of MG fire, as it should have been. Armour rules are so much better than XFire's it's hard to explain. Simple yet detailed enough that the combat results seem to me correct, given everything I've studied and read. They take up only about 8 more "1/2 pages" and away you go.

Scott Pasha wrote:

E. You say it has some of the narrative feel of Combat Commander. I actually have never played CC ( I play miniatures with others [now infrequently]and Boradgames mostly solo) though I am on the verge of ordering it. Can you elaborate?

One of the things that Chad Jensen's CC series does for me, is to create a narrative during and after the battle. A sense of story that allows me to regale fellow grogs (and my long suffering wife) with post-battle tales of how everything went to pieces, or how the efforts of Lt Bob saved the day, describing things as if I had really been a company commander in the field. Crossfire does this too. FbF does this as well. Each natural breakpoint in the action after you've finished an activation feels like the end of a paragraph in a rollicking war novel or soldier's memoir.

But let me add a few other observations.

One thing I need from my games is unique mechanics that make the game feel right. Crossfire did this with initiative and movement, yes.

But FbF has it's own superbly thought through mechanics that are just as unique that still force you to think tactically using the 4Fs to succeed as a commander. These are especially apparent in the "no specific order phases" of activations, and movement anywhere within a certain radius.

The rules about movement (basically, anywhere within a 12" radius) while not the same as XFire, still give you a nicely usable and unique mechanic. A focus on active units with no ordered fire/rally/move phases and card-driven activation mechanic. No down time as the inactive players is constantly looking for ways to derail the active players momentum through op fire, and other means. It plays smoothly, fast, and in as much room as you want.

I play with 10mm figures, just FYI, and you can pretty much use any basing you like. The recommendation is a squad of men is on a 1" x 1.5" base and has 3-4 figures.

There was at one time a downloadable trial version of some of the rules on the FbF website, and the Yahoo group is extremely active. Drop in there and ask anything you like, the answers and knowledge flow freely.

Hope that helps. I'm not saying Crossfire is a bad game, simply that FbF has all the same feeling, smooth play, and unique mechanics in its own right, and it feels like a much more polished, new, and modern game. FbF has replaced XFire as my go-to tactical WW2 miniatures rules, without question.

P.S. http://fireballforward.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/FBFPLa... for the updated playtest kit.
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Damn, got me all excited, I thought there was going to be a game similar to Crossfire.


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Warren Bruhn
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David, thanks very much for that description.
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David Janik-Jones
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Up Front fan | In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this | Combat Commander series fan | The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me! | Fields of Fire fan
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Warren Bruhn wrote:
David, thanks very much for that description.

You're more than welcome.

I should add that the range dice mechanic when you first read it seems odd, one of those "What the hell?" moments. You re-read it and only sort of get it and then play through a few of the mechanics/turns to see what it's all about. And then it clicks, in your first few combats, and there's an "Aha!" moment when you realize what a fascinating and simple mechanic it is and just how well it works. One of those mechanics that is nicely thought out and well done, yet simple and smooth flowing, to account for how combat works.

That's what I mean when I say FbF has many really neat mechanics of its own (like Xfire) that really set it apart from most other mini rules at this scale.
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