Thursday 10 December 2015

Quick Review: Iron Cross WW2 Rules

Time for another quick review. This one features the new WW2 wargame rules 'Iron Cross' from Great Escape Games which cost £12 inc p&p. So onto the rules (here I should say that I just received my copy today so haven't had time to play an actual game.) I have now had a play through of the rules and the post can be found here.

I'd seen mention of these rules on TMP but didn't know anything about them until I listened to the Meeples & Miniatures podcast 156 which featured an in-depth interview with the rules creators.I had no real interest in a new set of WW2 rules as I felt I was pretty well catered for with Chain of Command and Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich. However listening to the podcast got me interested in them and I ended up buying a copy. What got my interest was a combination of the 'simple' mechanics/approach and the tactical depth to the gameplay.

The rules fast play approach is something that I've found more appealing lately. I've been playing a lot of Kings of War Napoleonics (a home brewed variant) and a set of rules that you can quickly explain to a new player that has them thinking about tactics rather than mechanics after a couple of turns has become more and more appealing. This is what led to buy the rules after listening to the podcast.

Some of the stuff in the rules is fairly standard, for example the rules use a D6 for morale/activation and a D10 for combat and markers to manage activations. But what is unusual is that there are no weapon ranges. If you can see it you can shoot it. Also there is no separate melee phase. At 6" range and under firing is more deadly and the close combat/grenades etc is assumed to be part of the combat at that range. This may make the rules seem too simple but they're not. The big thing that sold me was the tactical depth presented by the activation system.

You get one activation marker for each unit you have plus two from the commander and these are used to activate your units, again fairly standard stuff. Where the fun happens is how you use these markers. The player with initiative activates one unit with a marker. He can then decided if he wants to activate another unit or activate the same unit again. If the same unit is activated again he must roll a D6 and get one more than the number of activations that the unit has undertaken e.g. activating a 2nd time he needs a 2+ on a D6. But wait, there's more. His opponent can interrupt the activation and spend one of his markers to activate a unit to react to the move (for example to shoot with an anti-tank gun) but needs a 3+ on a D6 to activate the unit. So your opponent can react to your moves by spending his activation markers but the more markers he spends in reacting the less he will have for his own turn. Plus the player with initiative can at anytime pass the initiative over to his opponent who can pass it back after he has completed at least one activation. So you have a cat & mouse game with resource management. Do you risk spending a marker on reacting or do you save it, if you spent one on reacting with your anti-tank gun but it misses do you spend another or cut your losses. Do you spend markers on the same unit and push ahead to grab an objective or will it get isolated and cut down in your opponents turn. Maybe you've planned ahead and saved some markers to react and protect your advanced unit.

Although it's a bit of a hackneyed cliche the game is like chess in that the basic rules are simple but the tactical gameplay is complex. The rules only cover 11 pages of the 32 page rulebook. The rest is taken up by the four scenarios and the four late war army lists (which cover a page each) and some gameplay examples. Units are 4/5 individual figures to a unit for 28mm or 4/5 figures on a base for 15mm, tanks are based individually, support weapons have 2/3 crew per base so you can easily reuse your existing stuff without rebasing.

Other stuff to cover, a hit inflicts a morale marker on a unit (think pins from Bolt Action) infantry can have 5 markers before they are removed from play. You can spend an activation marker to try and rally a unit and remove some morale markers. Individual figures can have any weapons you like as they are not taken into account. Firing is done with a D10 and a 5+ hits modified by moving, number of morale markers etc and that's about it.

If you want some more details then I suggest you listen to the podcast I mentioned above. I'm really looking forward to giving these rules a try. Now all I have to do find which box my WW2 stuff is in, moving house really messes up your storage system. Once I've had a game I'll post an AAR and link it here.


  1. Very interesting mechanisms especially the activation and the use of a d10. Thanks for the review

  2. Replies
    1. My first AAR with the rules should be up tomorrow.

  3. Great review. I also listened to the Meeples podcast, and was wondering what you think about the two problems Neil had with the rules - the lack of artillery and smoke mechanics.

    1. I'm in the middle of a post about my thoughts on the rules after a play through so more detail will be found there.
      But I have no problem with either of those mechanics. You have mortars for indirect fire and self propelled artillery like Priests (direct fire only though). Smoke is a bit clunky but I have no real problem with it.
      I do have problems with there being no rules for LoS or buildings and how the rules are set out and explain some things.
      That being said I think with a little work they'll be my go to ww2 rules. Especially for games with players new to WW2 games.


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