The idea of catching an enemy force in a crossfire is a deadly one, but one that’s not really explored in many of the wargames I’ve played over the years. One game that does cover it, however, is Epic: Armageddon. Perhaps this is due to the size – since I’d imagine being caught between two battallions of Chaos Space Marines is far more terrifying than being caught between two squads – but whatever the reason, it’s an interesting rule mechanic that adds an interesting level to the game and can potentially help swing combats that might otherwise be a bit one-sided.
The Crossfire rule is primarily of use against heavily armoured enemies, helping lesser troops take down tough opponents through tactics and sheer weight of firepower. As such, it’s typically better for numerically superior armies to use against elite opponents – Imperial Guard against Eldar, for example, or Orks against Space Marines. Both of the aforementioned opposition forces suffer greatly when the Crossfire rule comes into effect, reducing their otherwise superior armour saves and offering a strong helping hand to swinging the combat.
The Crossfire rule particularly comes into effect against those units who rely on their otherwise superb armour saves. Eldar titans, for example, suffer terribly when caught in a crossfire since their Holofields drop from a mighty 3+ to a 4+ – still a good save, but a serious blow given the unit size. Another unit that suffers is my beloved Thousand Sons, since their Reinforced 4+ drops to a 5+, going from a comfortable 50% chance of passing each roll to only 33%.
To make the most of the Crossfire rule, I think positioning is key. It doesn’t matter what unit is catching the enemy in a crossfire so long as the actual unit in combat is going to be able to put out enough firepower to take advantage of the lowered armour save. Fast units, such as Imperial Guard Rough Riders, Eldar Jetbikes or Thousand Sons Disc Riders are ideal to position for a crossfire, since their speed allows them to double or even march into an effective position. A larger, more solid unit such as an Imperial Guard Armoured Company or an Aspect Warrior formation can then assault the enemy, making use of their impressive firepower to overwhelm the enemy’s decreased armour save.
If the first unit’s in position to support all the better, but given the small unit size of most heavily-armoured formations the weight of fire combined with the Crossfire bonus is often enough to break them by itself.
The Crossfire rule won’t always been as useful as it can be against Space Marine forces, but most armies have some heavily-armoured behemoth that can only suffer from being caught in a crossfire. Titans, super-heavy tanks and the like are all usually ponderous enough to be caught, and that slight reduction to their armour save can often be enough to bring them down. It’s a nice addition from the developers, and encourages positioning and well thought-out movement – two things I think are vital to an Epic game (and have never been that good at myself ;) ).
Thank you for reading, as always, and please feel free to leave any comments below :) I’m still not doing as much painting and the like as I should, but I’ll be playing Legends again this Friday so that’ll be fun.