Ninjasaurus Rex has been writing his own version of Cross Fire for the better part of a decade, I never thought it would see the light of day in finished form. It took him two years just to write the communications rules. Dedication to a cause, I guess. Anyway, it is a set of rules for anything from post-1945 up to and beyond moderns and right into science fiction territory and are called Cross Fire of Irony (CFI).
The emphasis is on troop movements rather the effects of specific weapons and most of these are lumped into categories to make the game run faster, rather than get bogged down with individual weapon stats. Anyway, he had got the rules to such a state that they were able to be Alpha tested. He had also actually finished some figures and some scenery! The fact that these three elements were ready to go at the same time is such a monumental occurrence I cannot begin to describe it. Somewhere in the Philippines a butterfly must be flapping its wings.
The pillars of Mars (or Yuggoth) and the temples were all built from scratch and you can see how he did these amazing terrain pieces HERE and HERE.
He'd also finished off these skeleton robots and humanoid figures. The latter also had drones operated by the squad leader and mounted with Squad Assault Weapons.
I took the army of robots, they were split into three squads of five stands of two 'riflemen', a single sniper, a flamethrower team and a Squad Assault Weapon team. The rules use stands as the basic element, with single figure stands having a disadvantage in close combat. The humans had fewer in number, but we decided they would be elite for the purposes of the game.
As the rules use no measuring and units move from cover to cover until spotted or fired upon by the opposition, I hugged the rocky outcrops (again, all scratch built...).
As it was a tester game we set up a meeting engagement with the ruined temple in the centre being the objective for both sides. This would give us something to work towards.
With this objective in mind, I started moving one unit on my right flank towards the safety of the intact temple. They sought cover behind it as I manoeuvred my other units.
The central unit hugged the rocks, looking for a chance to get to the paved area between the temples.
And my third squad on the left flank inched their way above the ruined temple but still out of sight of his forces.
My troops on the right flank had come under fire from his units and I had lost the turn. In CFI you take as many 'turns' as you like until you fail to achieve a dice score for firing, or rallying your troops, for example. Similarly, if your opponent fires at you as you are moving and causes a suppression (or better still, a kill) on any of your troops, then they get control of the game. In this way the game flips between the players quickly and you have to think carefully about your next move, do you try to rally your suppressed troops, knowing that failure will give your opponent the initiative, or try to lay down fire? Also the fact that your opponent can fire at you when you are spotted in the open means that terrain features become very important and any rush over open ground will have the inevitable results of failure.
I digress, we had exchanged some fire, he had managed to move some of his soldiers up to the pillars and sought refuge there. This is when we were invaded by the four legged Martian and I stopped planning to give him some fuss.
Fuss over and back to the matter in hand, my robots grimly hung onto their positions in the temple and exchanged fire with his soldiers hiding in the rocks in front of them.
He used his covering fire to manoeuvre another squad to the objective and hugged the edge of the ruined temple structure.
And then they occupied it.
Which gave my left flank squad a chance at blasting them. The game is quite cinematic, in that the action moves quickly, but occasionally can become centred on a particular spot until one side or the other decides to do something radical and attack another area. It's almost like a camera concentrating on one particular aspect of the battle.
I decided that since he was in the objective, there is no glory with no guts, even robot guts and charged the temple in order to close assault him out of it.
So this was the situation a few moves in. He was in the objective, with one squad and the command, I was assaulting it, whilst moving my central squad in to try and help where I could. Meanwhile, two of his units were exchanging fire with my unit still in the other temple.
My robots won the first round of assault and managed to get a foothold in the temple, but he still had his command squad in the other room of the building.
The much needed support arrived in the form of my central squad getting ready to assault as well.
It looked pretty grim for the human defenders at this stage.
But it wasn't all going my way, the temple on my right flank was receiving heavy fire from two of his squads and I was losing robots to suppression like nobodies business!
Then it was his turn for the assault, with all my robots in the temple suppressed it was a one sided fight.
He now had control of the temple after destroying my unit in hand to hand fighting. It just goes to prove that you need to lay down a heavy fire before attacking in CFI.
I didn't need to assault in the ruined temple as he thought it better to retreat in the face of the oncoming attack. However, I still managed to get some shots in as his command squad dashed across the open ground.
My unit in the temple continued the firing and killed one of his soldiers and suppressed the other. This also put his drone out of operation temporarily.
I had control of the ruined temple, but his soldiers were still packed into the other temple. Bristling with weapons, this was going to be a hard nut to crack...
In order to break the stalemate Ninjasaurus moved a drone out of the temple and started taking pot-shots at my unit. It caused suppression on my SAW gun.
Using this as cover he was able to bring more men out into the open to fire down the long corridor by the side of pillar ruins.
It created a perfect firing line!
I managed to get control of the turn and moved one of my units to the safety of the outlying temples. I also moved parts of an other unit around the side of the ruined temple, getting ready to assault the humans in the pillars.
I moved them into a better position and closer to the human defenders.
On my right flank fire was exchanged between the units in the temples. There was a few losses but little gained on either side.
My assault against the pillars went badly wrong, with the humans laying down a heavy fire against my robot attackers.
More fire suppressed my attackers, rendering them immovable.
He took his chance and assaulted my suppressed units.
Close assault in CFI is pretty brutal and quick and I had lost my foothold in the pillars, very quickly!
He followed up his success by moving into the ruined temple, which was only surrounded by my suppressed soldiers.
I had a flamethrower that was still operational, but it had very little effect on his soldiers in the temple.
Then the other beast of Mars attacked!
I lost two more units on my left flank after another successful assault from his elite soldiers.
The game balance had now shifted in Ninjasaurus' favour, I had a group of soldiers in the right hand temple who were still exchanging fire with his soldiers in the opposing temple, but not much else.
He was quickly clearing my left flank, with more assaults.
And moved into a better position to cover my robots in the temple.
I had been firing away at the drone between the temples, with very little effect...
...until I managed to knock it out of the sky! Finally!
Meanwhile he had worked his soldiers through the rocks to be able to provide more firepower against my beleaguered defence.
Over the next few turns I lost a lot of my defenders, but I was also able to bring down some of his troops in the temple opposite. But in a strange twist of luck I was able to recover my robots from their adverse morale and I took a chance to move my flamethrower soldier closer to the building.
But, I lost control of the game and he rushed the temple for an assault!
I evened the odds by shooting the controller of the drone.
But he won through and took control of the temple!
But luckily I had used the flamethrower to destroy the remaining troops in the other temple.
I then turned it on his lone soldier. Mano-a-mano.
He was burned out of the building and my robot was the last man standing. It was all over!
As a test this was a good game, it played well and the rules made sense where they needed to. I did think that when my troops were under fire in the temple they should have broken and at least sought other cover rather than standing and taking fire. The rules are still at a testing stage, so we discussed this at the end of the game and will see what happens in future engagements. Overall, great fun and a good result (for me at least...)