Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Iron Cross First Impressions

I only opened the envelope a couple of hours ago but I have had a brief flick through of Iron Cross to get a few first impressions. The rulebook is very nicely presented but is definitely on the thin side, which isn't a bad thing and reflects the 'easy to learn' and 'compact' format of the rules. The booklet itself is well laid out with a full contents page making it easy to navigate and with plenty of diagrams, helpful tips and explanatory box outs to make things easy to work through. I particularly like the artwork, which is a nice touch.

I haven't had time to read through the turn sequence in any detail or work out the order of play beyond the use of command tokens to activate units, which is a bit like card based activation crossed with order dice, but will get down to a proper read through over the weekend. I have had a closer look at the orbats and lists, which are a bit abstract but include the typical AFV's, support and infantry units that you'd expect. The lists are for the usual NW Europe theatre and include US, British, German and Soviet forces, so no radical surprises there.

The use of five man 'detachments' as the basic infantry unit seems a bit odd until you either think of them as fire teams or take into account that a lot of people will have Flames of War element based armies, which I suspect the rules have been deliberately written to accommodate. It also means that you can field a decent sized force with about 30 figures in 28mm, so ideal if you haven't got a lot of them or don't have the time to put a historical platoon sized force together with all the whistles and bells, as in Chain of Command, for example.

I was hoping that the rules would be more 'historical' than Bolt Action but I'm not sure that this is the case, at least as far as unit composition is concerned. I'm sure that the tactical game play is what this claim is based upon although whether it does so 'better than anything else on this scale' remains to be seen. I suspect the Chain of Command and IABSM fraternity might disagree, although the Bolt Action fans probably don't care either way? I do like the idea of a bit of tactical ping pong and if the rules cater for this it will be one step up from the predictability or artificial randomness of some other rules.  

Anyway, I hope to get a game set up at the club in the New Year, once the dust has settled and I've finished off the last of my 28mm Artizan US infantry and my new tanks. The rules seem to favour the wheeling out of AFV's alongside a core of infantry units, so it's a definite combined arms approach to WW2 by the looks of it. This makes me think that it would possibly work better as a 15mm or 20mm ruleset, in the same way that Rapid Fire is pitched, rather than a 28mm skirmish level game like Bolt Action is designed for. I don't know but this is the 'feel' that I get from my first flick through of the rulebook, with an in-depth review coming along as soon as I can find the time.


  1. I'm interested to hear how these rules play so will look forward to your thoughts after your first game!

  2. Our club doesn't want to abandon its knowledge of and commitment to Bolt Action - but we are using the activation and reaction system based on Iron Cross. The new activation mechanic has really kicked up game play. With a larger group we have one Uber leader on each side making the final call on using Activation markers with other players running infantry sections or tanks - the big change is now there is a lot more tactical thinking and babble than when we played the standard Bolt "one and done" activation system.
    And it makes for a very different game. One quick example, if side A devours all its Activation markers and allows side B to make several uncontested moves, the results can be very dramatic and deadly - you always one to keep something in reserve.
    I'll be interested to see if other players tweak or adopt Iron Cross to other rules - or just play IC straight across.

  3. Now that's an interesting idea...have to give it a try!

  4. Thanks for sharing! How many "stands" make up a typical game?



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