The Spanish Civil War, Chain of Command, 28mm
This long awaited game was our first Orkney foray into the Spanish Civil War. Over the past few months a few of us up in Orkney have been painting up figures for this, and this week we decided to “blood” them on the tabletop. I’d also dug some MDF building kits out of my closet, along with a few unpainted Spanish buildings and walls. As a result we were able to fight our way through a decent sized Spanish village. This was a straightforward platoon sized clash, with a few support weapons on either side. Gyles fielded his section of Falangists, Sean brought his nationalist (rebel) regulars, while Alan supplied a section of Moorish infantry. For my part I matched them with two sections of International Brigade, and another of Assault Guards (or Asaltos). For support we both had a brace of machine guns and an armoured car, while the Moors had a large armoured truck and an anti-tank gun. Oh, and we both had the support of a battery of off-table mortars, their fire guided by an observer team.During the patrol phase we established the front line running through the centre of the village, with the Republicans holding the church and the east side of the square, and the rebels the west side, which backs onto the railway. the town itself was surrounded by hills and open fields, olive groves and a small river. Joe and I fought for the Republic, while Alan, Gyles and Sean commanded their own rebels. We began first, deploying a section of Internationalists in the buildings on our side of the square – the left in the picture above. Our observer team and a machine gun went into the church tower, while the garden behind the church was occupied by the Asaltos.In their turn the Nationalist rebels deployed the Falangists to the south of the town – that’s their “jump off point” – the oil drum stack in the bottom right of the picture down below. The regulars occupied the centre around the garden with a fish pond in it, while the Moors appeared where the road crossed the railway track, near the village’s second smaller square.The rebels set up a machine gun in the white-painted house on the southern edge of town, which was now under fire from the Internationalists in the square. the Falangist militia advanced out of the line of fire and into a field containing little vineyards, but the International Brigaders countered that by deploying in a house on the south side of the square, and along a wall to the east. the artillery observer also requested a bombardment, centred on their “jump off point”. The Falangists started to take casualties, and tried to find cover amid the vines. They also entered a small tall house next to the one their oppents had just entered, and started shooting back across the square. They were soon joined by Sean’s regulars, who occupied the houses on the square’s west side. Soon bullets were riddling the buildings on both sides of the square, and no doubt chipping the stonework of the big cross in its centre.Over on the rebel left the Moors advanced cautiously, bringing up their anti-tank gun and armoured truck to provide a little bit of fire support. The first shots though, came from the Republican side. A Moorish squad made a break across the open ground to the north of the town, which is when Joe played his CoC dice, and deployed a machine gun in an ambush position, in the little chapel which adjoined the church garden. It cut down a couple of the moors, and forced them to run back into cover. Alan replied by bringing his 37mm anti-tank gun into action, chipping away at the chapel’s doors with it, while the LMG in his armoured truck shot at the Asaltos lining the wall of the church garden. Things started to look a little grim for them when they called in their own mortar strike, which was targeted on the walled garden full of enemy security forces.By now the Falangists had reached breaking point. All of their three fire teams were pinned down, as was their section headquarters, while behind them the Republican mortars were busy pounding the Casa Blanca (White House), where the machine gunners were ensconced. This and the firing from the square meant that the Nationalist machine gun team gained a “shock” pebble (we use little stones) every turn, and it was now pinned by enemy fire. Still, the Falangists had some kind of revenge when the same machine gun killed three of the Internationalists in the house facing the vineyards. That gave the rest of that little fire team a surfeit of “shock” pebbles, and they broke and ran. By now though, a 2-inch mortar had joined in the firefight in the vineyard, and was pounding the hard-pressed Falangists.In the centre of the square the Asaltos’ Bilbao armoured car raced across it and shot down the little road leading to the station. The next phase it drove onto the platform and started shooting at the Moorish anti-tank gun. Unfazed, a Moorish tank hunter team dashed out of the ticket office, and set to with crowbars, a petrol can and a satchel of grenades. They inflicted “one net hit”, which gave the armoured car two “shock” pebbles and temporarily silenced its gun. The tank hunters though, were a one-shot wonder, and after using up their bag of tricks they reverted to a less spectacular pair of riflemen. That is where we halted the game. We were only half way through the Battle for Cojonazos, and so far the death toll was three Republicans and 18 Nationalists. However, thanks to the mortars both the Falangists and the Asaltos are about to get plastered, so casualties will mount. The battle lines haven’t move much – nobody wants to venture out into the square, or risk an all-out assault on enemy buildings, – but both sides will have to do something like that in order to win control of the town. So, next week we’ve got everything to play for…The rules, by the way, are terrific. We really enjoy games using Chain of Command from the Too Fat Lardies, but this is the first time we’ve tried its on-line supplement – CoC Espagnol. It makes allowances for the tin-foil thick armour of some of the AFVs of this period, and the whacky armoured trucks. It also has rules covering the shaky morale and enthusiasm of militia formations such as the Falangists, as well as the aggression of the Moors, the professionalism of the Asaltos and the tenacity of the International Brigade. I like the way the games flow, with both sides taking turn to roll Command Dice, which they then allocate to make people move and shoot, or to activate leaders. The casualty system works well too, and reflects the difficulties of winkling out people in buildings. off-table mortars though, are something of a killer, although they aren’t quite so deadly here as they are in our Second World War games. Above all I like the look and the spectacle of the Spanish Civil War, with its strange vehicles, its colourful troop types and the political and religious angle. All in all the Spanish Civil War has been well blooded, and I’m sure it’ll develop into a regular wargaming staple.