When my friends Mark and Gordon (shown in this photo, the two at the left) found this rule set, it was everyone's hope that Iron Cross would be simple and 'fast play' enough for large games. All but four of the ten players tonight were new to the rules. Playing this large of a game with mostly new players was probably too ambitious. For the game night I'll be stepping the scenario back to eight players with the hopes of having a larger ratio of experienced players. Having six new players 'trained up' at this game sure will help the chances of that. Shown are the German players. Apologies are due to the British. The photos I took of their team were not usable. Apparently I'm a terrible war correspondent photographer!
To start the game, I had each army march onto the table. My fear was deploying on table with a rule set that has unlimited ranges for most weapons might put units into immediate peril before players learned the flow of the rules. This ended up slowing the game down as it took too long for players to get their troops into the action. For the game day I'll be using a deployment zone with players putting their commands down using blind markers with dummies. After everything is deployed, the dummies will be removed, and troops placed onto the table.
For big games in Iron Cross, each army (company) has a CinC (lieutenant). The rules authors state that this player need not have any troops on the table other than their command squad. I chose to give the CinCs in my game a small command which included a Mortar squad and an APC for their command squad. These assets weren't deemed as very useful by the players. The mortars in Iron Cross seem too ineffective to be worth spending a valuable command token on, and the APCs made the command squads too vulnerable to anti-tank fire. For the club game I'm going to replace the mortar squad with an infantry squad to ride in the APC. This will give each CinC a mobile reinforcement to use where needed. This will let us test out the transports rule a bit more.
For the game, it was a tight affair. Early on Gordon's Panzer IV got in deep trouble trying to duel with the British Sherman I and Cromwell. Gordon used the 'Fall Back' move in successive turns and eventually saved his nearly-dead tank with a 'full recovery' company morale check. Later in the game Byron took out the Sherman with his Pak-40. This was revenge for Rob's destruction of Ralph's Stug III with the British 17 pounder. As the night got long, the British managed to get more of the village buildings on each side of the battlefield occupied than did the Germans. This allowed them to edge out a 1-point victory in the scenario victory points. My favorite moment of the game was when the radio operators in the radar bunker finally opened up on the approaching British. The surprise was worth the wait. The German players showed good discipline to wait to reveal them to save them undue casualties early in the game.
I'd like to thank everyone who helped me refine the game. First plays of new rules are always rough, and everyone took it with great cooperative spirit. I got a lot of excellent feedback and suggestions on how to make next week's game even better.