The Spanish Civil War, Chain of Command, 28mm
This week we’re off to sunny Spain, Y viva Espana! There were two reasons for this. First, I needed some pictures of Spanish Civil War figures for an article in Charles Grant’s Wargamers’ Annual, and second, Lindsay Bailey, who normally plays fantasy games wanted to try out the period and the rules. Incidentally, Lindsay took most of these pictures, and she does a much better job of it than I do. Essentially, this was the Attack and Defend scenario from Chain of Command, but beefed up to two platoons a side. This was all about capturing a small bridge, to secure the flank of a Nationalist offensive. A small but impassable river ran across the table, about 12-18″ from the eastern short table edge. This was spanned by the bridge, and by a road which ran from one short table edge to the other. A little to the west of the bridge, in the centre of the table was the small village of La Mesa Verde. The rest of the table contained an assortment of low hills, woods, crop fields, farm buildings and walls. We played it out on a 7×5 foot table. The Republicans were defending, so they started with all their “Patrol Markers” on the bridge. Sean and Gyles played the patrol through, for the Nationalists and Republicans respectively. This pretty much shows the situation by the end, with the Nationalists in and around the village, and the Republican front line anchored on a wooded hill and a small orchard on the western side of the river. The game began with the Nationalists coming onto the table. Sean commanded a platoon of Banda Nacional regulars, while I had a centuria of Falangists. I don’t really like playing the facists, but these guys are pretty poor quality, but they look good in their blue shirts. Facing them was Lindsay’s platoon of Ejercito Popular regulars, who deployed on both sides of the bridge, while on her left was Gyles’ centuria of Anarchist militia. The militias were rates as green for this game. We also had support points to blow. We spent ours on an armoured car and a forward observer attached to a mortar battery, while the Republicans opted for better leaders, light mortars for the regulars, and a few LMGs. We quickly deployed in the village, but the Forward Observer took his own sweet time coming onto the table, thanks to some poor die rolls. My Falangists though, were on a roll. When I rolled my Command Dice I got three double sixes in a row. One of my two sections showed uncharacteristic vigour and charged forward across open ground. Heading to the wooded hill guarding the Republican left. my aim was to capture Gyles’ jump-off point before he could deploy. I almost got it too, but landed up stopping an inch short. Gyles of course deployed at that jump off point, and then got to fire. He only caused two casualties, so when it was my turn I charged home. The melee that followed was short, sharp and very bloody. By the end of it both sides were running away, with only a couple of men left. That pretty much marked the high water mark for my Falangist advance! Still, it looked good. My other section was a bit more successful, firing on the Anarchists who were no advancing through the high corn towards the village. The Anarchists were halted by a withering blast of fire, and then Gyles rolled a double 1 on his Command Dice. that meant that the ten-man Anarchist section headed home for a siesta. I love that rule – especially when I’m not playing the Anarchists!After that the Anarchist counter-attack ground to a halt. Once they’d decided to stay behind walls the Falangists did fairly well, pinning a second Anarchist squad in the corn, and then wiping out most of the section that had timidly advanced off the wooded hill. So, at least on my side of the table things were looking up. However, I as now taking heavy fire from Lindsay’s Republican regulars. Sean did what he could to help, laying down fire from his Nationalist regulars. He was also advancing on our left, screened from the Republicans in an orchard by a low hill. What we really needed though, was those mortars, but the Observer team moved incredibly slowly – Sean can roll a lot of “1s” – and they never got into place in the church tower until the last minutes of the game. However, he managed to bring on his armoured car. This was a sleek, large Hispano Suza MC-36 armoured car, which looked very stylish, but not that effective. Still, its arrival spurred the hesitant Nationalsits into action, and the advance began, albeit slowly. The Republicans were taking casualties too, as everyone started firing on that orchard by the bridge.An attempted Republican right hook came to naught too, when the leading team was gunned down in the open. After that the Republicans stayed on the defensive.Still,they didn’t need to attack.They were doing well enough already. Unfortunately, we’d pretty much run out of time by now. The mortar battery finally managed a successful ranging shot on the orchard, but this proved to be the last shot of the game. We called it a day, and it was pretty clear that the Nationalists were still nowhere near their objective. The Republican defenders had taken a lot of casualties – especially among the Anarchists – but the bridge was still firmly in their hands. So, the game was declared a win for the Republic – and Senor Hemingway was on hand to record the jubilation!