TITLE: Iron Cross: WWII Gaming in Miniature
AUTHOR: Stuart McCorquodale, Darryl Morton, with Mark Mainwaring
PUBLISHER: Great Escape Games
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
PRICE (with date): $20.00 (in 2015)
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: World War II (Focusing on late war Europe).
THE BOOK: Iron Cross is a thin soft bound booklet running 32 pages. The rules themselves comprise a brief 20 pages with the balance of the book made up of scenarios and army lists for the US, Britain, Germany and the USSR. The book is in full color, well illustrated and includes a lengthy example of play.
SCOPE: Iron Cross is designed for close quarters engagements. It is a deliberately simple set of rules designed for large, multi-player games.
ARMY SIZE: Armies for iron Cross will be fairly modest. A good game could be had with a platoon or two of infantry and a couple vehicles per side.
BASE UNIT: Units are essentially squads and individual vehicles. Infantry are called “detachments” as they can be small groups (an HMG, for example) or a bit larger (5 or 6 riflemen).
- Ground Scale: Not stated, but very small. The game is at skirmish level with individual buildings, etc.
- Time scale 1 turn = a few minutes
- Figure/Base Ratio is 1:1
- Recommended Figure Size: 20mm but conversion for other scales is covered.
- Table Size: Smaller games can be played on a 6’ x 4’ table.
- Game Length: Most games should be playable in a few hours.
BASING SIZES: Not important. Figures may be based individually or in groups - the rules will work with any basing scheme.
Iron Cross uses an individual unit activation turn structure. Players receive a limited number of “Command Tokens” that are used to activate units or perform other game functions. A player attempts to activate a unit. If successful, that unit moves, shoots, assaults, etc. The player then moves on to another unit. However, the opposing player may attempt to steal the initiative. He interrupts, spends a Command Token, and rolls to see if he is successful. If so, his unit acts immediately, and play then passes back. However, if the interrupting player rolls a 6 he becomes the active player, and starts spending Command Tokens. Play thus passes back and forth until both players have used all their tokens.
Movement: Movement is very basic. Terrain is Easy, Rough, Very Rough or Impassable. When entering non-clear terrain the unit rolls a die. If successful it moves through the terrain at normal speed. Otherwise it enters the terrain and stops. Roads confer a bonus if following the road. One nice touch: vehicles move at half speed within 12” of enemy infantry unless they have friendly infantry within 12”.
Seizing the Initiative: Iron Cross models opportunity fire etc. by allowing the non-active player to “Sieze the Initiative.” At any time during his opponent’s turn, he declares he wants to Interrupt. He spends a command token and rolls a D6. On a 3+ he has succeeded and may activate a unit or rally. On a 6 he becomes the active player! The activated unit may move, shoot or perform any other normal unit actions.
Morale Rating: Each unit has a Morale Rating. This is effectively the number of hits it takes before being knocked out of the action (removed). A unit with more Morale Markers than its rating is removed.
In addition to activating units, Command Tokens may be used to recover morale. A player spends a Command Token and then rolls a D6.On a 1-2 the rally fails. Otherwise he may remove one or more Morale Markers (depending on the die roll) from a unit. In addition, units may perform a special Fall Back move. Such a move is at doubel speed, away from the enemy, and the unit may not shoot. Depending on a die roll it may also remove a Morale Marker.
Fire Combat: The game uses D10s for combat. Ranges are unlimited, but shots at close range (12”) get +1. Two dice are rolled against infantry, one die versus vehicles. Hots are scored on a 5+, the roll being modified by just a small handful of modifiers: firer moved, Morale Markers, Smoke, etc.
Each successful hit puts a Morale Marker on the target unit. When shooting at infantry you may score a second Morale Marker. For each hit roll a D6. If you get a 4+ on any of the dice a second Morale Marker is placed on the target. The die roll is modified by cover. Vehicles with certain guns may even inflict a third Morale Marker on infantry in some cases.
Vehicle Combat: Vehicles use the same firing rules but with different results. To penetrate a target’s armor a D10 is rolled and added to the weapon value. If this exceeds the target’s armor rating (the game uses front and side values) a D6 is rolled and a chart consulted. This may result in additional morale markers, damage, or an outright kill.
Melee: There is no separate “melee” rules. Close Combat is simply normal fire combat at very close ranges.
The book includes late war stats for the US, Britain, Germany and the USSR. They cover most of the major weapons. Future releases will expand the available army lists.
On a first reading, Iron Cross comes across as a stripped down Bolt Action, but with the modified activation system. My immediate reaction was that with a one unit at a time system, it would suffer from players standing around watching a lot. This is an issue I have with all of these kinds of games. It was suggested that in multi-player games, simply allow each player to use a command token simultaneously. If the opponent interrupts resolve as normal, and if they roll a 6 switch per the rules. I think in that kind of game initiative would switch a lot, alleviating this.
Overall a much too streamlined/simplified game for what I am looking for, but that’s just down to personal taste. I find these days my tastes are running contrary to the market. I’m tired of simple and want something with more crunch.
I played a small solo game just to see how the game flowed. For a super fast game I thought it offered a good system. The rules are easily remembered, the super fast combat system - one die, roll a 5 -very streamlined. Roll to shoot. Got a 2? You missed. Scored a 9? You hit. Scored a 5 or 6? Let’s check the modifiers, cover, etc. The number of modifiers and so on are also very small and if played with any frequency would quickly be memorized.