A Company Level Game set in the Spanish Civil War
“I’ve got some 42mm Spanish Civil War figures. Have you got some rules we could use for them?”
Now that’s not the sort of challenge that gets turned down at Durham Wargames Group and soon plans were afoot for a showdown in Castilla la Mancha near the sleepy village of Gusseta.
We decided to use I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum (IABSM) a “company level” set of rules produced by TooFatLardies www.toofatlardies.co.uk a non-profit making group of gamers here in the UK.
A card based turn system and straightforward game mechanics mean that games flow easily and command and control is nicely simulated by the presence of “Big Men” (think of Gary Cooper in For Whom The Bell Tolls). The initial use of Blinds to conceal troop movements also lends a nice degree of battlefield “friction”.
We decided to use one of the Lardies ready-made scenarios but had to prune it somewhat to take into account of the number (and size) of the figures available.
Eventually we got away with removing only a couple of squads per side and a machine gun here and there to make things fit. One figure would represent two men except Big Men and crewed weapons where a ratio of 1:1 was maintained. The game was played on an 8’ x 6’ table using club terrain. Ground scale and ranges were multiplied by 1.5. Having three complete newbies, only one of whom had read the rules beforehand, we decided to let them loose with only one sheet of paper each. A list of their squads, cards and Big Men (see the Roster Sheets later) and a handful of said cards to hand to an umpire at the appropriate time. They also had a map to mark their deployments on and after a brief talk on the salient points the game began.
The first thing we did was to completely forget about the off-table Nationalist artillery bombardment. Oh dear, not a good start. But no one had noticed so we carried on with Blinds movement. The Nationalist Blinds entered from the southern edge and advanced down the slopes. As they pushed into the vines a Republican MMG in the southernmost house on the road spotted two blinds and opened up on the nearest. Unphased by this these Moroccans push along the road to the olive grove farm only to find it occupied by a squad Republican Assault Guards. A further squad of Assault Guards occupied the rocky hill beside their compatriots and subjected the Moroccans to heavy fire.
Meanwhile, having advanced through the vines one of the remaining Blinds hung a sharp right and made a mad dash for the south-western corner of the walled enclosure.
Having miraculously remained unspotted (ignorance, lethargy or fascist conspiracy – we will never know) it then skirted the walls to the north-eastern apex. Here they were finally spotted from just over the wall by a section of Republicans led by the famed Captain of the Militia Ernesto Hemisto.
Unaware of the sneaky manoeuvring of their chums a section of Nationalist Regulars had assailed the house with the MMG and taken it by storm. The Moroccans had less success with the Assault Guards and were repulsed.
Reaching the village a squad of Nationalist Regulars attacked the nearest building which contained another enemy MMG. Despite moderate casualties due to crossfire from another squad in a house across the street the Nationalists took out the MMG and occupied the building.
Back at the first fork in the road the Moroccans made another attack, the Guards had been whittled down by fire; surely this would be their end. One squad of the Moors was slightly behind the other and musing upon this small gap the Nationalist player made the fatal error of asking his playing partner how many dice he should use to move it up to the farm. “You’ll get there easily with just two” was the confident reply. Yes, dear reader, you know exactly what’s coming next don’t you?
With their Big Man dead and one squad now down to four men (two figures) and effectively hors d’combat, the remaining Moroccan squad shamefacedly scuttled up the road with the remaining Regulars to clear out the rest of the village.
What had the remaining Republicans being doing all this time? I hear you ask. Well El Potato had fled the village on his trusty steed, Frittata and joined the last Section of Militia who had congregated by the Madrid road northwest of the village. Thanks to some outstanding sequences involving the Hesitant Commander, Hesitant Troops and Commissar cards they stood around for a while, shot ineffectively, dithered a bit more and then shot their Military Advisor – who was obviously responsible for the whole sorry mess.
The game was called to a halt just as the bullet riddled body of Captain Ernesto fell twitching by the enclosure wall.
All in all a great game played in good spirit and giving a flavoursome experience of the period in question. All players were in praise of the rules which were easily picked up and played at a good pace (despite several bouts of ineptitude by the umpire). Comments were also made about the resilience of good troops and the reticence of bad ones! Even those who had expressed serious reservations about card based turn mechanisms (or “Advanced Snap” as one had previously called them) were full of praise for the experience and we even managed to catch last orders.