The Spanish Civil War, Chain of Command, 28mm
This week we were off to sunny Spain, for a small Chain of Command skirmish. For this, Sean provided the Nationalist Banda Nacional platoon, while I brought my platoon of the Republican Ejercito Popular (EPR). For once I didn’t field these as International Brigaders, despite the flag. No, these were all Spaniards, as I wanted to keep the two platoon ratings as near to each other as possible. In other words, no platoon was markedly better than their opponents. In the end though, I landed up running the game, while Sean led his troops, and Nick took command of the Republicans. The game was played out on a 6×4 foot table. This was a Patrol game (scenario 1 in the rules), as the tiny village of Santa Margarita lay on the front line between the two armies, somewhere near Madrid. So, this was going to be a low key affair – the only armour on the table was a burned out T-26, painted in Nationalist colours. We also didn’t have much in the way of “Support Points” to spend – the Republicans had two points and the Nationalists had three. These were blown on light machine guns and a Nationalist medic, and we moved on to the “Patrol Phase”. In this both sides established forward positions (“Jump Off Points”) at the edge of the village. That done, we started the game. Nick began by bringing on both of his main sections (or squads) in their jump-off points, one in a walled courtyard and the other in the adjacent small orchard. Sean countered by bringing on his first section in the larger orchard to the west of the village. It was bordered by a stone wall, which gave his troops cover from the Republicans in the courtyard on the other side of the road. Sean also sent a team into the house to the east of the church, facing the Republicans in the orchard. Thanks to the layout of the windows though, they couldn’t really see the enemy lining the small orchard wall. The real fighting began with a firefight between the troops in the courtyard and the big orchard. Nick’s EPR troops were outnumbered slightly, as Sean had occupied a house on the far side of the village’s main street. So, Nick had to divide his troops, with some occupying the house on the side of the courtyard. Still, his men held their own in the exchange, and killed several Nationalists. Feeling he wasn’t really making progress, Nick decided to move out of the small orchard and storm the Nationalists in the house across the street – the players’ hands in the photo above show the scene of the action. Thanks to the garrison’s lack of windows to fire out of they made it to the wall of the building, and then paused for a moment before launching the attack. Surprisingly, the assault was a complete success. The Republicans stormed in through the doors and windows on both sides of the house, and quickly killed or captured the five-man enemy team inside. They only lost one man in the assault, and then spent a moment regrouping, while Nick figured out what to do next. A key target was the Nationalist “jump-off” point at the back of the building, but its capture was thwarted by Sean, who played a “CoC Die”, allowing him to move it 18″ away, safely behind the church. By then the firefight in the courtyard was reaching a crescendo. Nick had reinforced his men by deploying his platoon’s small light mortar section there. They didn’t have any mortars, but they put their rifles to good use, and this extra firepower tipped the balance slightly in the firefight with the enemy in the large orchard. The Nationalists also had their LMG team wiped out, in the house across the main road. Sean was running out of options, but he deployed his last two rifle team in the church, and grimly held his ground. By now though, it was almost 9.30pm. We have to pack up by 10, so this time of the evening often results in “last turn fever”. That’s when people do rash things, in an attempt to force a conclusion before we have to stop the game. Sean caught it first, and tried to leap his men over the wall, and storm across the street to the courtyard. Thanks to lousy dice though, all he managed to do was to put his section in the open road, well short of the loopholed walls and gates of the enemy-held courtyard. That meant they’d be gunned down for sure when the Republicans next got to fire. However, Nick caught the fever too, and launched his own assault…This one was from his newly-captured house on the south-east side of the village to the church, which was held by a five-man Nationalist rifle team. It seemed like a good ploy, but the dice told otherwise. The Nationalists were able to call in men from the house behind the church, and they gained extra dice for being in hard cover, and for the distance the attackers had to come to reach the church doors. They also had more leaders in the area. So, when the dice were rolled, the defenders lost just three men, while all of the assaulting troops were gunned down. That included the Teniente commanding the EPR platoon, and his standard bearer. So, the loss of virtually a complete section and the platoon commander brought the game to a crashing end. There was no was to come back from that, and we actually packed up without giving Nick the revenge pleasure of gunning down the Nationalists in the road in front of the courtyard. It was a real Butch Cassidy moment – and an example of “last turn fever” at its very best. Still, it made for an entertaining end to an enjoyable little game. We all enjoyed ourselves, and on a dreary winter’s evening it was good to lose ourselves in the Spanish sunshine for a few hours. Next time though, we’ll try to avoid the “last turn fever”!