After a rather long lull in gaming based of the preoccupied minds over the hurricane damage in our area, I finally got to play a game. It has been about two weeks at this point. Since I had forces out for Flames of War and the table was set, my friend, Bill and I decided to test out the rules for Iron Cross using infantry and infantry support. After all, we wanted to know how the rest of the rules worked out, since the tank action was pretty awesome. We were going into a PAD game with out even knowing it!
I let Bill play my Panzer Lehr grenadier force that was using against my wife's 4th Canadian Armor. There were some minor changes, but the core unit was about the same. He had 12 squads of infantry upgraded to all with Panzerfausts, three Pak40 AT guns, two 8.8cm Flak guns, three Panther tanks, and one happy King Tiger. I ran my wife's Canadian list consisting of 14 Sherman tanks, 4 Fireflies, 3 Stuarts, and 2 M-10 tank destroyers. I figured it would be an uphill battle, because it usually is for Flames of War. However, there were going to be key differences.
Instead of really going over the whole play by play of an After Action Report, I am sure the statistics of this game are more notable. For my side, I roughly fired 160 tank rounds at the enemy. The game was so anti-Canadian armor, I started to keep track of the game shots mentally. This actually gave me a bad headache after the game and well into the evening. Out of the 160-or-so shots, 45 were absorbed by the King Tiger with only 8 of them hitting in the front armor. I took out two of the three Panthers, with the first loss taking 18 rounds in the side, and the other taking 22 rounds in the side. The last Panther absorbed 36 shot all over. One Pak40 died. The rest of the shots were hit/misses to everyone else: mostly AT guns. No German infantry was harmed, though they killed 14 of my tanks! Pak40's killed three tanks with the rest of my force picked off by the Panther/Tiger comb. I lost everyone for two Panthers and a Pak40. And both players in this game were rolling terrible!
It was no secret to my wife that both players, Bill and I were frustrated in this game. The combination of bad rolls and bad rules clouded this game sucking a good amount of fun out of playing. By the time I had lost half of my force, I changed my goal to just kill the last Panther and the King Tiger. I came close to my personal goal, but it was a hard accomplishment in an uphill game that was severely broken. Even, Bill agreed that this was broken. I think I only continued, because calling it would mean it was not a finished play test.
So the problem at hand was adding infantry and infantry support weapons. With Iron Cross, a large part of the game consists of adding pins to break morale of a unit. And with the case of tanks, you can outright kill the tank with awesome shooting or add pins to that tank to surpass it's morale, thus abandoning the tank. This is done with regular action fire or reaction fire. That is what makes this game fun and quick at times. The problem that comes with infantry is that you can only pin them. There is no damage chart to determine killing a squad of infantry off. Instead, you roll to hit them. If they are hit with a D-10, they get a pin. Then, you roll a D-6. At a +4, the squad gets another pin. The max at long range is 2 pins per unit shot. The only change for this is at close range. Instead, you roll two D-10's. Then, you roll a D-6 for each hit. The max amount for this is 4 pins possible. The morale rating for an single infantry squad is 5. You need six pins to kill it, never mind reaction fire and the ability to roll to remove pins in the second action, which is possible between shots. So, if I was Johnny on the spot with hits in one turn at long range, I have to use three commands/units or rounds of shooting to kill one unit. If you upgrade to Panzerfaust, the infantry can flat out kill you in one hit!
Bill had 12 squads, so I would have needed 36 tanks to start with to kill 12 units of infantry in one round of shooting or 6 tanks would have to kill per turn as a rough theory. The big problem is that the infantry can move a shoot. Even though, there are modifiers, the concept of this turns the infantry into mobile light weight Pak40's A squad with unlimited Panzerfausts costs 33 points. A Stuart tank costs 31 points. Infantry can kill in one hit with a weapon rating of 9 with the command potential of shooting six times and can kill six tanks in one turn. The Stuart can shoot once at long range and twice at short range with a weapon rating of 6. At best, it can out pin to kill two squads at long range with six commands or three squads at close range. This is based on all hits in the positive with no reactions that kill the Stuart and/or remove any of the previous pins in the second reactionary action. Yes, that is a mouth full. What this means is that I have a 5% chance to kill a squad of infantry. They have 60% of killing a tank!
All of the paragraph above is how we were playing it in this game. Both Bill and I stopped to look through the book in several occasions to reconfirm this unbelievable flaw in the rules. So distressing it was that my wife hopped on the computer to read about this in forums for answers. They were even more applauding! Essentially, the writers purposely left out some of this stuff for people to play it in their own way. In other words, house rule the game with infantry. And when we really read the rules, we found out that infantry was 50% more bad ass in the game. Features, such as, they can fire Panzerfausts while in transports. Tanks cannot reaction fire if they don't roll +5 plus modifiers when it is normally a +3. Enemy infantry reduces vehicle movement in half when within twelve inches. Infantry firing at targets within 6 inches can a +1 damage modifier against armor or making their weapon rating of 9 into a 10. Now, they are walking short-ranged 17 pounders!
This post has been hijacked into a technical rant! But I suppose it is important to know that these types of games happen. The conclusions both Bill and I had come to were that Iron Cross is now just a "Tank Game" for us. Sure, it can be easy to make "home rules" for the other units. The authors mention how the game was not for competitions. And it can be modified fairly well for a convention game or a scenario based game among friends, However, how hard would it have been to type a simple damage chart for infantry? And if "Home Rules" are the answer to the problem, why not have this as a free PDF? I know this won't be the last set of rules I will come across that does this, but it is annoying, none the less!