Tuesday, 15 February 2011

St Valentine’s Day Massacre

So I gave my Spaniards a brief run out on Monday evening with a couple of friends. As I was eager to “blood” the figures I hadn’t really done a lot of rule writing. Can’t seem to fit it in with all the reading and painting I need to do to get this project off the ground.

I decided to use a simple set written by a friend of mine a few years back that have a card activation sequence and seemed to cover all of the bases on an initial read through. The rules have a four bases per battalion structure, so if I split down my big units I get enough for a game.

I set up the table with a sunken road forming up area for the International Brigade, facing a walled Casa on a hill top and an olive grove. Both were bordered by a stream and the bridge over that gave a focus for the game.

The Republicans started with an infantry assault across the open ground towards the casa and got slaughtered in the open. This was partly because of some demon dice rolling (6 out of 10 dice coming up as a 6 on the first roll was typical of the Nationalist firing) but also because of the unit by unit activation sequence that enabled the defenders to fire on each unit in turn as it emerged from the road.

Next up the Republicans tried to force the position in the olive groves. Similar result, even when backed up by some late arriving T-26’s, which were brewed in fairly short order by the Nationalist field gun. End of game.

We reset and played again with a slight tweak to enable all units under an officer’s direct control to activate at the same time. This let the casa be overrun, and a second more fortunate run at the olive grove for the tanks made for a Republican victory. We stopped there, thoroughly unsatisfied with the evening’s performance.

Except the toys look good and I like the way the terrain came out.

The post game discussion was helpful. The suggestion was made that I should just sit down and write some rules instead of using the ones I’d found. Whilst this sounds facile what I think was meant was I should sit down and produce something that plays to my strengths, - look at period flavour and see what needs to be done with command and control. (I’ve never been good at the combat rule bit so I’ll need to pinch them from somewhere).

What the games taught me is that I’ve formed, without realising it, quite a few strong views on what an SCW game should look like. Whilst I’m not a hardware-ist by nature I think that the difference in armour quality was something frequently remarked upon during the war. This means a simple “tank is a tank” approach which I’ve favoured in the past isn’t good enough. The T26 is a superior vehicle compared to the Panzer 1 and both are superior to the CV33 by a big margin (although that flamethrower version is nasty). Tank and aircraft involvement is important and how it affects people has to be considered. A version of “The Return to the River Don” armour effect cards might be called for.

And I need to think hard about how commanders work and how their different styles feed through to the game. The tendency to give stupid orders is a strong one in the SCW, and whilst I see little evidence of political opponents falling out whilst in battle a predilection to favour those of a similar political persuasion when handing out reserves is not uncommon.

Lastly the high but brittle morale of militia / volunteer units has to be factored in. A simple Raw/Average/Veteran classification isn’t going to meet the needs of the game.

So perhaps not a complete write off as evenings go.


  1. What about using Mexicanski36
    AK47 for the SCW.

  2. Good thought. I have a copy somewhere and I'm a big fan of original AK47.