David Gómez Relloso
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CRUSADE AND REVOLUTION
THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, 1936-1937

Game Session
Players: Jon Etxaniz (Nationalists) vs. David Gómez (Republicans)

Note: There is a complete and detailed after action report written several months ago that includes lots of historical comments about the cards and the game in general. You can find it here: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/533051/cr-after-action-repor...
So this time I will be more concise and try to mention other aspects of the game. I will also happily answer to any question or comment you may have about this session or the game in general. Thanks for your support and I expect you find this report interesting.

David


TURN 1 (August 1936)


Jon (NAT) starts the game pushing towards the north from his southern base of Sevilla, trying to connect his two zones through the historical (and logical) route of Extremadura. Remember that the Nationalist northern zone suffers lack of ammunition (only one space may be activated for combat in each round), so it is urgent for the NAT Player to connect his two zones to avoid that penalty. In any case, it is the best way towards Madrid, because it is badly defended, the terrain is less rough, and the left flank is secured by the friendly border of Portugal ruled by a rightist dictatorship.

I decide to play “Disembark in Mallorca” in my first round.


This is an interesting event that deserves a commentary: it is a valuable card which is retired from the REP deck if played as an event, but if the disembark is successful it is worth, because Mallorca island supposes 1 VP and 1 RM point, and it cannot be recaptured; and it makes more difficult to play later the NAT “Blockade Fleet” event (as the NAT blockade fleet operated from the port of Mallorca). The problem is that against a competent NAT defense the operation will usually fail (as historically did). But in any case, it can distract the enemy (as I try now), and brings two new Militia units to the game as a compensation for the REP. One last thing: it is important to choose a suitable moment for playing this event. For example, right now I still control Gibraltar Strait, so the NAT Player cannot reinforce the island by sea.

Jon has been lucky receiving “End of the Strait Blockade” in his first hand, so he plays the event and the strait changes hands. And he deploys the African unit he receives this round -thanks to the air bridge- in Cadiz. Being a port space, he will be able to send it later to Mallorca if he thinks it is necessary. A good play!

So even if I reinforce the expeditionary force in Mallorca, my effort seems to be pointless as Jon sends the African unit by sea creating an insuperable wall for my inexperienced militiamen. At least, that elite unit will not act in the Peninsula for the moment!

Along the rest of the turn, Jon accumulates units in Extremadura and launches attacks from the south and the north, trying to connect his two zones. He nearly achieves it, but the turn finishes with his territory still cut in two. I manage to play two events that should be played as soon as possible: “Intellectuals and Artists in Favor of the Republic” and “Iron Belt”. Why? Because both are value 2 cards –the worst, as the value of the cards goes from 2 to 5- and eliminating them from the deck is always good. Players should try to do this and increase the average value of their decks.

I will include an image of the game map at the end of each turn, with the main operations marked with arrows and some other comments also included. Here goes the first one. You can click on it to enlarge its size:



Victory Points (VP) and Republican Morale (RM) in the beginning of the game:
VP: 7
(NAT tries to increase them, REP tries to decrease them)
RM: 26 (REP tries to increase it, NAT tries to decrease it)

At the end of Turn 1:
VP: 7
RM: 26
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Very nice and I am looking forward to more posts!
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TURN 2 (September 1936)

Both players play Foreign Military Aid events (Axis and Soviet) as our first actions. These are key events without any doubt, and that’s why the cards have the highest value. Usually they are played as soon as possible, but some players prefer to use the card as OPS first (5 OPS are quite tempting). Of course, the delay of the event can cause some pain…



Jon goes on with his offensive in the south-west and manages to connect his two zones, cancelling the lack of ammunition rule and leaving Badajoz cut off from the Republican territory.

Badajoz is in some way a special case. It is a small town next to the Portuguese border, but it is a REP Supply Source. Why? Because that is the way to properly simulate the situation in that zone in the beginning of the war. There was a force of soldiers and militiamen loyal to the Republican side that the rebels could not simply ignore. Being a Supply Source, we avoid their destruction for being out of supply (something unlikely in the first weeks of the war, with diffuse fronts), and we force the NAT Player to pay attention to the town (as historically happened).
Perhaps the Supply Source in Badajoz should be special. It could be provisional and disappear as soon as the NAT Player conquers the town. In the definitive version of the game this will be probably included as an official or optional rule.

Jon also sends units to the south-east, trying to link up with the isolated town of Granada. My troops garrisoning that front are weak, so I reply by sending more units by Strategic Redeployment (SR). Something expensive, because during the first two turns both players suffer a penalization to the SR; NAT because the Spanish railways was –and still it is- radial and they do not control Madrid, and REP to simulate the initial disorder that made it difficult for the Government to move troops.

Jon conquers Badajoz, being the first province capital he captures (and obtaining +1 VP and -1 RM). He also pushes over the mountains near the town of Málaga, and enlarges the corridor of Extremadura to the east. Finishing the turn, he captures the important junction of Talavera de la Reina, only two spaces away from Madrid!

At the end of the turn, I must re-embark my expeditionary force of Mallorca. It is an operation with a limited life: I had two turns to obtain a success or be forced to retire. Obviously I have failed! The only good new is that I have accumulated many Replacement Points (RP) to recover some of the many lost units.


At the end of Turn 2:
VP: 8
RM: 25
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TURN 3 (October 1936)

The Nationalist Player begins the turn aggressively, and he achieves success by capturing Illescas, next to Madrid, and Málaga province capital in the south. Madrid and its surroundings are completely undefended, so I must immediately send units with Strategic Redeployment. I need a high card, so I sadly play “Russian Tanks” for SR, instead of obtaining those great and needed armor reinforcements.

Jon continues attacking. He decides not to launch a complete offensive against Madrid. Even if I have not played the event that deploys a trench in the capital, it is a tough objective: he has few units to attack and the attacker shifts two columns to the left for the river and for being a Main City space. So he prefers to launch a “limited” attack, in order to avoid casualties and also for propagandistic reasons.


Let me explain this aspect of the game: there is a rule named “Madrid: Priority Objective” that simulates the great importance of the capital for the rebels, who thought that capturing Madrid the rebellion would be a success. Not conquering Madrid before the end of War of Columns Phase (the first 5 turns) incurs a Victory Points penalty, higher or lower depending on the effort of the Nationalist Player. The usual penalty is -1, and it simulates a degree of failure equal to the historical one: Nationalists managed to attack the city, but they could not capture it.

Near from Madrid, Jon liberates the Siege of the Alcázar of Toledo. Usually liberating a Siege reduces the Republican Morale by 1, but in this case the propagandistic success supposes an additional +1 VP.

The last attack to Jaén (a province capital in the southern front) fails thanks to a powerful Combat Card I play: “Capture of Operations Order”. Sadly it is a one-time card which is retired from the game after being played.


General Franco takes the supreme command of the Nationalist forces, Mussolini sends him the first Italian soldiers, and Republicans welcome the first International Brigades. More important, I finally manage to play “¡No pasarán!” (They Shall Not pass!) event, and with its defenses increased Madrid seems to be saved.

At the end of the turn, an out of supply REP Militia unit surrenders and NAT connect with the isolated town of Granada.


At the end of Turn 3:
VP: 9
RM: 24

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TURN 4 (November-December 1936)

Jon keeps pressing, causing heavy losses that I must cover with strategic redeployment. Luckily I have enough units, even if their quality is not very high. Nationalist efforts obtain a good reward liberating another siege (Santa María de la Cabeza sanctuary, in the southern front).

Fortunately for the Republican cause, after shuffling the deck I have received Russian Tanks card, so I play it to receive the best small units of the game.

Italy and Germany recognize Franco’s Government as the legitimate one, what supposes a considerable political support for the Nationalist cause. In the Republican side, there is a change of Government, and the socialist Largo caballero becomes President. This change of Government also reflects that many Republican leaders were aware of the urgency of the militarization process, in order to create a better Republican army capable of confronting and beating the enemy. The Militias’ Lack of Discipline rule is cancelled (it prevented militias from different spaces attacking the same objective), and I will be able to play Mixed Brigades reinforcements (regular units instead of militias).


Jon plays “Famine”, an event that reduces Republican Morale along the game (every winter turn the RM is reduced by 1, or by 2 if it is a harsh winter). It is an investment for the future, and some players can be tempted to use this valuable card for other actions. But in that case, RM will be higher, and that is always a good new for the Republican Player. This is the kind of options that enrich a game, offering different ways for different strategies.


With my recently coordinated militias I launch an attack against the isolated town of Oviedo, in the Northern Front. Asturian militias were obsessed with Oviedo, and to reflect that, the town is worth one additional VP if it is conquered before the end of War of Columns phase. Unfortunately, the attack is a disaster, and Jon quickly mobilizes a NAT militia unit in Oviedo, destroying my hopes.



At the end of Turn 4:
VP: 11
RM: 21
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TURN 5 (January-February 1937)

We begin the last turn of War of Columns phase. It is a winter turn, and this supposes a slowing down of the operations. Spain lies in the south of Europe, and its climate is warm, but bear in mind that it is the second country of the continent with the highest medium height -only exceeded by Switzerland- so winters are cold in a wide part of its territory.

During winter turns, each player may only play three of the six actions as OPS, and any attack against Mountain spaces has an additional Die Roll Modifier (DRM) of -1. Usually this favors the REP Player, who is obliged to maintain a defensive attitude.

Ignoring the climatic changes, Nationalists attack in the center front inflicting losses on the enemy and capturing Ciudad Real province capital. The first Mixed Brigades, seeds of the Republican Popular Army, finish their formation and arrive to the front, followed by more soviet T-26 tanks recently unloaded by in the Republican Mediterranean ports.

Jon launches a general offensive in the center and southern fronts. But things have changed and the presence of better REP units is felt in those combats; this time both sides suffer heavy losses, but defenders do not retreat. After fast and relatively easy advances, now the NAT Player finds it more difficult to get through the enemy lines.

This is totally intentional, as the game tries to simulate the progressive consolidation of the fronts, the improvement of the REP army, and the weakening of the NAT elite African forces after so many months of continuous fight. As it historically happened, both sides understand that the war is going to be long, and that they need to mobilize and organize better their forces in order to win. The first irregular columns, with just a few hundreds combatants, need to be replaced with larger units, and along the winter and spring of 1937 both armies begin the formation of divisions and army corps, a process that will last for many months.

The political confrontation was also very important in the Spanish Civil War. Democracies adopted a half-way posture, so the Republic had to be contented with the support of just the USSR, Mexico and the Komintern. I play the event that reflects that political support.


With this turn we finish the War of Columns phase. Before we start turn 6 and Large Units phase, we must deploy our first large units, which represent the development of the war mentioned before.


At the end of Turn 5:
VP: 10
RM: 19

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Sam I Am
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Thanks a lot for posting this. Keep them coming!
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DEPLOYMENT OF THE FIRST LARGE UNITS

Each player has to deploy ten Large Units. If the NAT player had not played “Axis Military Aid”, he would deploy one less unit: the Italian CTV (Corpo di Truppe Volontarie), sent by Mussolini. Jon played that event, so he has all his large units at his disposal.

The deployment is quite simple, but –in my humble opinion- it adds a very interesting element to the game. There are some limitations –I will mention them below- but players are quite free to put their units where they prefer, and their decisions will influence later operations, offensives and campaigns. Of course, this also increases replayability, as large units can be deployed differently from game to game.

Players –NAT first- alternate deploying their large units on the map one by one. Each unit can be placed in either any space with at least one friendly unit, a Main City, or a Supply Source. No more than one Large Unit may be placed in the same space.

Limitations affect mainly the Northern Front, the zone near the Atlantic coast controlled by the REP player in the beginning of the game, and separated from the main Republican zone. Obviously, REP regional units (those that belong to the three regions of the Northern Front) must be deployed in their respective regions, and the NAT player must deploy at least three large units adjacent to the Northern Front. Lastly, the CTV must be played in a space containing at least one Italian unit, or in a port space.

You can see our deployment in the image below, marked with blue and red circles. Jon has clearly opted for a “Northern Front first” strategy, something usual and logical, concentrating five large units adjacent to it, three of them in front of Asturias (the eastern region of the Northern Front). Historically Nationalists attacked from the western side, across the Basque Country, but this time we will see a different campaign.


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TURN 6 (March-April 1937)

We have deployed our first large units, but there are many troops still to be mobilized along the next months. So both Jon and I begin the turn playing reinforcement cards to bring more large units to the map. He has a special interest in covering the main city of Zaragoza, because I deployed an unopposed large unit in front of it.

There are not more “regional” large units among the rest of the REP ones. It means that all the available forces have been mobilized in the Northern Front. Of course, I could send reinforcements if I was able to connect my main zone with the Northern Front, but this is one of the most difficult tasks for the REP Player, nearly impossible. It is indeed rewarded with +2 RM points if achieved.

Jon begins the Northern Campaign, attacking and conquering poorly defended spaces in the east and west. But things will not be always so easy. I reorganize the front, covering holes and constructing defensive positions.

This is a good time to talk about Positions and Trenches, the two kind of fortifications that may be constructed in “Crusade and Revolution”. Positions are provisional or light defensive structures; large units construct them automatically, but small units must throw the die (if they fail they have a modifier that favors the next throw). Trenches are stronger and better constructed defensive lines; only large units may construct them, throwing the die (and also obtaining a modifier for the next throw if it fails). One very important difference between Positions and Trenches is that the latter ones allow defenders to cancel retreat by suffering an additional loss.



Jon has obtained a good hand and launches a fierce offensive against Asturias, the eastern regions of the Northern Front. Making good use of his abundant operations and his combat cards, he manages to penetrate the lines, connecting with Oviedo and forcing me to retire the defenders to the last bastion of Gijón. I organize a small campaign around Madrid, where I have local superiority, but Jon prefers to loose some ground rather than interrupting his offensive in Asturias.

At the end of the turn, Jon opens an uncomfortable breach in my frontline to the north of Valencia, a Mediterranean main city. I desperately need to accumulate replacement points (RP) to recover the forces in Asturias and avoid a rapid fall of the region, so I opt to play my last card as RP, knowing that the hole is dangerous.


At the end of Turn 6:
VP: 10
RM: 20

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TURN 7 (May-June 1937)

The replacement points have saved –for the moment- Gijón, but as I feared Jon advances and captures the undefended city of Valencia in the east. He only sends a small unit across the gap, but it is going to be a headache until I manage to recover that key space. Losing a main city is something very bad, not only for the loss of VP and RM (its value is twice as much as a normal province capital), but also because it supposes a penalty of -1 to REP replacement points.

Besides, with this movement Jon cuts the REP zone into two, and it supposes an additional and permanent modifier of -1 RM. This is a one-time modifier that each player may achieve only once during a game, reflecting the strategic triumph.

Jon continues his tireless northern campaign, attacking Gijón again and again, using several combat cards. I am busy with my problem of Valencia, but I have time to attack again in the front of Madrid, weakening the NAT forces there. Finally I destroy the enemy small unit and recapture Valencia. An unpleasant loss of time and OPS!

The situation of my forces in Gijón is untenable; I prefer to retire the last surviving Asturian large unit towards the west, instead of sacrificing it. This of course supposes the fall of Gijón. Without giving me a break, Jon acts aggressively in the western side of the Northern Front: he advances his forces to the coast, dividing my territory into two, with Santander region to the left and Bilbao Basque main city to the right.


At the end of Turn 7:
VP: 10
RM: 19
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TURN 8 (July-August 1937)

Jon begins the turn playing “Communist Interferences”. This is a very annoying event for me, because it makes attacking extremely expensive. So just when the REP army is slowly turning into an efficient instrument, I will not be able to launch offensives this turn.


Nationalists attack Santander in the eastern side of the Northern Front, capturing the town. Being the only supply source of that zone, all the remaining units become out of supply. With the communist causing trouble in military operations, I opt for a change of Government: Largo Caballero falls and Negrín becomes the new President.


“Negrín's Government” is a very important event for the REP player, reflecting not only a political change, but also an improvement in the military direction of the war. Being a valuable card, sometimes players decide to play it as OPS, SR or RP the first time, and play the event later. But I prefer to play it right now, for three reasons: 1) It reduces the RM penalty caused by the NAT event “May Events”. 2) It increases RM by 1 point. 3) It allows playing many powerful REP events, and I need them to start dislocating NAT campaigns as soon as possible.

Jon does not like my decision, because he was about to play “May Events” card! He plays the event anyway, but reducing RM 1 point less. I must send forces to Barcelona to put down the revolt narrated by George Orwell in his book “Homage to Catalonia”, so I play reinforcement and deploy one of the large units in Barcelona.

At the end of the turn all the out of supply units are eliminated, so in the Northern Front I just conserve two isolated spaces: Bilbao main city and San Sebastián town, next to the French border. They seem to be doomed.


At the end of Turn 8:
VP: 11
RM: 18

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TURN 9 (September-October 1937)

NAT begin the siege of Bilbao. Defenders resist the first assault, but I know that they will not endure much longer. So now that I have changed REP Government and High Command, I play a Strategic Counterattack to pressure Jon in other fronts, and try to give some breathing space to my northern troops.


My attacks are not very successful, but I manage to weaken the enemy forces in Ciudad Real. Jon decides not to stop his northern offensive, and attacks Bilbao again, which still resists. Brave men!

So now I can take advantage of my superiority in Ciudad Real and attack again. I do so and this time I destroy the Italian defenders and recapture the town. A great success!

But the unavoidable bad new arrives from the Northern Front: finally Bilbao falls. Losing this main city supposes +2 VP and -2 RM, and a permanent penalty of -1 RP to my REP replacement points. Jon does not even need to attack the last Basque forces in San Sebastián: “Pact of Santoña” event mains their surrender and an additional loss of RM.


Meantime, there are some changes in the northeastern front (Aragón). I advance my lines, in order to menace the town of Teruel, but Jon reinforces his supply lines and sends a small unit across a gap and captures Castellón, in the Mediterranean coast. Another NAT breakthrough in the north of Aragón finishes when I counterattack and leave an enemy small unit out of supply.

At the end of the turn, Republican Morale is alarmingly low. If it is lower than 16 points, Jon will have a hand of 8 cards next turn. I try to avoid it, or at least force him to play OPS instead of RP, and I capture the undefended town of Segovia, to the north of Madrid. Jon captures San Sebastián, finishing the Northern Front, what supposes -2 RM and guarantees him the additional card.


At the end of Turn 9:
VP: 12
RM: 14
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TURN 10 (November-December 1937)

I wanted to talk a bit about what small and large units represent in “Crusade and Revolution”. Remember that the Spanish Civil War started as a failed coup d’etat, and neither of the two sides was prepared for an unexpected war. So the first military operations were carried out by small and irregular columns, and small units fit well to them. Later thousands of men were mobilized, both armies were developed, and the increasing forces were organized into large military units: brigades, divisions, corps, armies and even groups of armies.


On the scale used in C&R, large units represent the large bodies of troops organized after the first months of fight. One important thing is that both small and large units do not represent always the same amount of troops: as I said before, a small unit in August 1936 would simulate an irregular column of between 1,000 and 3,000 men, but later it will represent a regiment, brigade or division of up to 10,000 soldiers. Large units appear later, when both armies are better organized and have many more men in arms. In Spring 1937 they would simulate reinforced divisions, and later they represent army corps of up to 35,000 soldiers.


Back to the game, after the end of the Northern Front, the war is going to change. The Nationalist has now an unquestionable superiority, and my objective is to resist until the last turn preventing him from reaching his victory conditions.

Jon plays more reinforcements. Perhaps I should do the same, but I see that Teruel is not well defended and I know that from this moment it will be very difficult to find this kind of opportunities in the enemy lines. I play another Strategic Counterattack and capture Teruel. As I have conquered the space with that event, I win an additional RM point as long as I maintain control over it. Morale goes up over 15 points, so Jon will receive a hand of 7 cards again in the next turn.

After that defeat in the Low Aragón, Jon decides to accumulate many replacement points to recover from the losses of his imminent offensives. He then activates the front in the Upper Aragón, launching a powerful offensive. I must retreat to the right bank of Cinca river, play reinforcements in Barcelona, and send units from the Low Aragón.

NAT also sends large units to the center front, menacing the disputed Ciudad Real, and attacks again in Aragón, this time including Teruel among the attacked spaces. At the end of the turn, the town is still in my hands, but I have suffered heavy losses, and I have less RP that Jon to recover from them. Besides, I lost Huesca, isolated behind enemy lines after their advance, and there is also a small unit isolated next to the Pyrenees, but in this case it survives because it is connected to the friendly French border.


At the end of Turn 10:
VP: 12
RM: 16
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TURN 11 (January-February 1938)

The second winter of the war begins. NAT goes on with his offensive in Aragón: his troops cross the Cinca river in the north, entering Catalonia, and attack Teruel again in the south, recovering the town. This means +1 VP and -1 RM (as it is a province capital and VP space), but also an additional -1 RM (the one that REP obtained for conquering the space with a Strategic Counterattack). A severe REP defeat.

Suddenly the situation in the northeastern front (Catalonia) seems difficult for me. Jon has very powerful forces there, Barcelona main city is not very far away, and I have not constructed fortified lines. I must abandon Lérida to shorten the frontline and regroup my units.

Jon plays reinforcements and deploys two large units in Zaragoza, ready to be sent to the northeastern front. I do not have any reinforcement card in my hand this turn, so I opt for building a Position in Barcelona, praying for having enough time to finish my defensive line before the enemy tide arrives. Well, being Republican I suppose that I pray to Marx and Lenin…

I have “Severe Winter” event in my hand, but I decide to play it as OPS.


If this event is played, the next winter will be especially harsh. This is good and bad for the REP player: it slows down military operations, but it also increases the penalty to RM for “Famine” event. It is a low value card, so not eliminating it from my deck is also bad, but I prefer not to play it because I feel that RM is low and I must be careful with it.

Jon attacks, wins and advances to Manresa, just one space away from Barcelona! Fortunately for my interests, in the last minute I achieve a successful die roll and manage to build a trench in Barcelona, saving the city. Jon attacks it without great success, but I must reinforce Catalonia, so I send T-26 armor units to Barcelona and Tarragona ports using strategic redeployment.

We both play events in our last rounds. Jon plays “Italian Submarines” to reduce my Soviet replacement points.


And I play “España Battleship is Sunk” to recover one RM point. Nevertheless, RM level is below 16 points again, so Jon will receive 8 cards again in the next turn.




At the end of Turn 11:
VP: 14
RM: 13

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Jon ETxaniz
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The Valencia distraction was quickly fixed by David but at least i got to keep the main push in the north and David from harming me more in the Madrid area which was begining to become a serious situation.

The Teruel loss after that was a blow but it came with the price of a weakened Catalonian line. When the NAT line was reinforced with the troops from the north the andvance into Catalunia was fast.
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David Gómez Relloso
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It is good to read Jon's comments here! Welcome aboard, my dear opponent.

TURN 12 (March-April 1938)

After finishing Large Units phase, we begin the last stage of the game, called Decisive Phase.

Jon plays reinforcements as his first action. I have received one of the best cards of this last phase, and I decide to play it as event.


It is a very good card, and I could play it in another way, being confident that I will receive it later, but there are three reasons for playing it: 1) Jon threatens to capture Barcelona, and that would prevent me from playing this event. 2) My situation is quite difficult, so 5 RP are appreciated right now. 3) The event gives me +1 Soviet RP each turn; there is a NAT event that cancels this bonus, but perhaps Jon will receive it late.

With the replacements I strengthen my forces in Catalonia and deploy a rebuilt large unit in Madrid. Jon acts calmly, accumulating replacement points. Once again, he wants to recover quickly from the loses that will cause his imminent offensives. I copy him, also playing RP.

NAT forces near Catalonia move forward preparing a big offensive. But I have been very lucky this turn, receiving another key event: French Intervention Menace.


I play it immediately, thwarting Jon’s plans. Resigning himself to wait until the next turn, he plays RP again. It is time to play another unpleasant event for the NAT player: Axis Aid’s Interruption. 4 Axis RP immediately disappear!


Jon activates other fronts: he attacks in the Lower Aragón without great success, but manages to recover Segovia province capital near Madrid.

I reorganize the northeastern front, taking a hard decision: I decide to send several units from Catalonia to Valencia, to the south. Why? Because I think that it will be very difficult to defend the part of Catalonia that is still in my hands, and I feel that the fall of Barcelona is imminent. Jon could cut off those units soon, and I think that they will do a better service to my interests in the Lower Aragón-Valencia front. Of course, this may be debatable, but it is my decision right now.

Jon plays RP once again! I opt for playing an event that increases my morale.


At the end of Turn 12:
VP: 14
RM: 13
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TURN 13 (May-June 1938)

New turn and more NAT reinforcements. This time, Jon deploys the two new army corps in Sevilla, near the southern front. So I respond playing also reinforcements an deploying them in Cartagena, my southern logistic base.

As I predicted, Jon attacks Barcelona with all his brute force, using a painful combat card: Helter-Skelter. The city falls after a blood bath.


This is an important moment in the game: it is the second main city I lose, so I already have a penalty of -2 to REP PR at the end of each turn. To make things worse, Jon has received the event that closes French border again, so he cancels the +1 bonus to Soviet RP, and now I suffer a -1 penalty to them.

And after capturing the undefended Tarragona, Republican Morale descends to 10 points. This means that I will receive one less card in the next turn, and that Jon will be able to play several nasty events that require that level of RM or less.

In Spanish we say “a grandes males grandes remedios”: desperate situations call for desperate measures, more or less. So I decide to play my best Strategic Counterattack, launching an offensive against the enemy VP space Granada in the southern front. Fortunately the attack is successful and I conquer the town, which is worth +1 additional VP thanks to the Counterattack event. Very important. I have copied the famous historical REP offensive in Ebro river, but this time in a very distant front.


A complementary attack near Madrid fails miserably. Jon captures Gerona, the last Catalonian province capital, leaving only a few spaces under my control near to the Pyrenees. He also accumulates important forces in front of Ciudad Real. The town is in danger, so I play Fortifications events, which gives me three Trench markers and deploy one of them in that space.

Jon plays Insurrection event in Cartagena. The space changes hands, and an enemy small unit appears there. A very weak unit, but of course it is a nuisance and I will have to spend OPS crushing the rebellion in my rearguard. Perhaps he could have waited a bit more before playing this event, but he wants to reduce his deck in order to guarantee that receives some key cards before the game ends.


Finally Jon plays RP, and I recapture Cartagena.


At the end of Turn 13:
VP: 15
RM: 10

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David Gómez Relloso
Spain
Dobro (Los Altos)
Burgos
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TURN 14 (July-August 1938)

Jon moves units in the southern front towards the lost town of Granada. He also attacks my isolated forces next to the French border, which suffer hard losses but still resist.

Units which cannot trace a supply line to a friendly supply source are obviously out of supply, but they survive if they can trace a supply line to a “friendly” border. France is friendly for REP, and Portugal for NAT. So my isolated units are condemned, but at least the enemy must attack them in order to clean up the French border. I could use a special kind of strategic redeployment to evacuate those troops across the border –as it historically happened with a REP division-, but it is expensive and I think that it is too late now. I should underline that if the NAT player manages to control all the French border spaces, Republican Morale is reduced by 2.

Seeing the southern front menaced, I play reinforcements and deploy them in Cartagena. Jon plays one of his most powerful offensive events, “Counteroffensive” -released by my last Strategic Counterattack-, and he launches an attack on Granada cancelling all my defensive benefits.


Luckily I have a key Combat card in my hand: “To resist is to win”.


Thanks to that one-time card I resist in Granada, even if my units suffer terrible losses. Jon also attacks my units by the French border (annihilating my last army corps there) and in the eastern front. I move several units trying to reinforce menaced spaces or at least have troops close to them.

Jon continues his fierce offensive: He captures Jaén province capital in the southern front, nearly surrounding Granada. In the center, Ciudad Real is attacked but NAT are defeated this time. And in the eastern front, my units are forced to retreat and the NAT player advances the frontline towards Castellón and Valencia, also sending forces released after the Catalonian campaign to this front.

The turn finishes with Jon and I playing replacement points. But Jon accumulates 7 in total, and I only have 2! Although I play an event that cancels Italian Submarines, It is clear that the war of attrition goes against my interests.


At the end of Turn 14:
VP: 15
RM: 9
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Dobro (Los Altos)
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TURN 15 (September-October 1938)

The game enters the last 4 turns, so every round will be very important from now.

The island of Menorca surrenders to Nationalists, reducing the Republican Morale. I play my last REP reinforcements card, and deploy both army corps in Valencia. I have mobilized all my large units, so I will have to resist until the end with the forces I have.

Jon occupies the most eastern border space next to France, leaving the 14th International Brigade out of supply and hopeless. Now it is clear that if he wants to control the entire French border, it is just a matter of expending a pair of OPS. He also attacks Ciudad Real in the center, forcing me to suffer additional losses to stay. But if I want to conserve that town under my control, I will have to send forces immediately. Valencia is too far away, so I reorganize the front to the west of Madrid, retreating and shortening the lines in order to send a fresh army corps to Ciudad Real.

Foreign events harm the Republican cause: Jon plays “Reduction of the Soviet Aid”, penalizing my SOV replacements. Moreover, it avoids the play of further tanks reinforcements; and I have that card in my hand! Too late now…


I play a high value card as RP, but penalties are high and I will have to play another one if I pretend to obtain a decent quantity of points. To make things worse, Jon plays another event that adds an additional -1 to Soviet replacements: “Blockade Fleet”.


I manage to play another card as RP, but I know that in the following turns it will be very difficult to obtain enough replacements to recover from my losses.

Jon finishes the turn attacking in the eastern front. I respond constructing defenses. The turn has not been too painful for my interests, but the near future seems dark.


At the end of Turn 15:
VP: 15
RM: 8

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David Gómez Relloso
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Dobro (Los Altos)
Burgos
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TURN 16 (November-December 1938)

I will explain victory conditions now. In C&R Victory Points (VP) determine the winner of the game in the last turn, but note that they do not indicate who has won the war, but who has improved the historical performance of his side. So at the end of the game it can be clear that the Republican side is going to lose the war, but the Republican Player can win if his situation is better that the historical one.

At the end of the game, the Nationalist Player wins if VP are 20 or more, the Republican Player wins if they are 18 or less, and 19 VP is a draw.

But apart from VP, there are also Republican Morale (RM) points. Their level may modify both players’ hand of cards, and allow the play of certain NAT events. And they may also determine who the winner of the game is. There are “sudden death” victory conditions based on RM level each turn; of course, they are difficult to achieve, as they simulate an amazing success of one side (or a terrible disaster for the other). In short, something spectacular that could have ended the war with an armistice, surrender or foreign intervention. And lastly, if RM descends to 3 or less points, the Nationalist Player can play “Casado’s Coup” event, which, as historically happened, means the end of the war with the Republican unconditional surrender.

Back to the game, Jon begins the turn moving three army corps from the conquered Catalonia to the eastern front, and the rebuilt Italian Corps towards the southern front. He attacks Ciudad Real again, but the combat is a disaster for him. I decide to play a propagandistic event: Guernica.


The brutal Nationalist bombardments in the Republican rearguard decrease Franco’s prestige and give me 1 VP. Jon responds also playing a similar event, which reflects the work of the Spanish Church in favor of the Nationalist side: Bishop’s Collective Letter.


One NAT cruiser is sunk, and that victory in the sea increases RM in one point. Jon reactivates the front attacking Granada in the south and Sagunto in the east. I suffer heavy losses in the first case, staying in the space, and resist well in Sagunto. I take a risky decision playing my last great REP event: Last Mobilization.


With those Replacement Points I reinforce the recently attacked fronts, but I now that I will not be able to flip Large Units to full strength using RP anymore.

Jon also takes a complicate decision, playing “Casado’s Coup” card as RP. He receives a lot of RP, but this means that he renounces a possible victory based on RM. Now his only option will be to win through VP.

Nationalist move the army corps they have in the rearguard towards the front, and I do the same with my units. Jon attacks in the South, weakening my forces in Granada and opening a breach in the front to the north of that town. In my last round, I send a small unit to Tarragona, which is undefended, knowing that it will not resist the enemy counterattack, but at least it will bother Jon. And I also move units to cover the gap in my southern line.


At the end of Turn 16:
VP: 14
RM: 10

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David Gómez Relloso
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TURN 17 (January-February 1939)

The war enters the last winter. Jon sends an army corps to recover Tarragona, and attacks Granada once again, supported by the Italian Legionary Aviation and two combat cards, obtaining a total die roll modifier (DRM) of +3 (reduced to +2 because attacks on Mountain spaces in Winter turns suffer a -1 DRM). But I play Bad Weather card, avoiding that modifier. I am lucky and the result of the combat is a draw. My forces in Granada are weak, so I use strategic redeployment to move two small units from the Reserve to that space.

Jon plays a key political event: Pact of Munich.


This means +1 VP and -1 RM, and allows the later play of “France and Great Britain Recognize Nationalist Spain” event, which can be decisive. I make good use of that pause to reinforce my lines to the north of Madrid and construct trenches in Guadix, the space which maintains the supply line with Granada.

Nationalists launch another offensive with the support of the Spanish Air Brigade. They easily recover Tarragona, and attack both Ciudad Real and Granada. The first attack is a great success for Jon; I cancel the retreat, but my situation seems precarious there. In Granada, the result is a draw, but attrition crushes my forces.

Time for difficult decisions. Sadly, I find Granada indefensible, so I decide to evacuate that important space which has cost so much blood of both sides. I also leave Toledo province capital to reinforce Ciudad Real. I will lose VP and RM with this retreats, but I estimate that I still have possibilities of victory.

Jon advances with his southern forces, recapturing Granada and maintaining the pressure over my lines. VP go up to 18, something important, as we will see immediately. I play my second RP card, accumulating a few points above the penalties I suffer.

With his last action, Jon plays the other political event mentioned before: France and Great Britain Recognize Nationalist Spain.


-2 RM and, more important, +1 VP, moving the marker to 19 (draw). So I have little room now, just one more VP would mean an enemy victory. Everything is going to be decided in the last turn of the game.


At the end of Turn 17:
VP: 19
RM: 4
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Juan Diego
Spain
San Juan
Alicante
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Thanks for the AAR. Looking forward for the dramatic end! And for the release of the game , too!
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David Gómez Relloso
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TURN 18 (March-April 1939)

Jon begins the last turn very strongly, playing Condor Legion event to launch a total offensive in the center and southern fronts.


There are two poorly defended spaces that, as expected, fall in NAT hands, but in the other two attacks I am incredibly lucky with the die rolls and resist. The attack on Ciudad Real (the VP space in the center) is particularly painful for Jon, as he uses two combat cards which do not avoid his defeat.

The enemy failure gives me some breathing space, but the situation is still critical. After their advance in the south, NAT forces are at the gates of Almería, another VP space. With my replacements of the previous turn I have rebuilt two army corps (at reduced strength), and I move them to reinforce Almería. I also attack and destroy a NAT small unit which has created a gap in Baza, creating a new continuous but precarious line.

Jon returns to the attack in the south, knowing that my situation is becoming untenable. He captures the mountain pass of Despeñaperros, opening a new hole in my lines, but in Guadix and Almería I am lucky with the die again, and resist in my positions.

I send units from Madrid to cover the hole, and construct a position in Almería, which seems to be the key space that will decide the result of the game. Jon acts calmly, attacking and capturing Guadix, the space adjacent to Almería. That way, he accumulates enough troops next to the town to launch a decisive attack.

I feel that I am agonizing. I do not have enough strength to recapture any VP space, and I think that it is going to be impossible to maintain Almería in my hands. My units from the eastern front are too far away, but I move them towards the south to reinforce my lines in the unlikely case they resist. I try to construct a trench in Almería, but I fail.

Jon launches the definitive attack on Almería, capturing the town and gaining the VP he needs to win the game. My units from the east arrive, but obviously too late. NAT attack them to avoid any danger, destroying the majority of forces.

The game agonizes, but I am pigheaded and I do not give up. I send an army corps to try a last attack on Almería. Jon attacks it, but once again the dice benefit me and I maintain my position. So in the last round of the game, I manage to attack Almería, which is defended by the Italian CTV. Of course, Jon is well-prepared and he has a combat card in his hand that guarantees that he will conserve the town and win the game.


This great game finishes with a Nationalist victory based on Victory Points level. If we have a look at the map, we can see that the situation is quite similar to the historical one at the end of the war, but Jon has improved the historical performance of Nationalists by conquering Almería. Congratulations!


At the end of Turn 18 (end of the game):
VP: 20
RM: 3

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David Gómez Relloso
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LAST COMMENTS

It has been a really nice game, long, intense and disputed; the perfect case for an after action report. I expect that my story has been useful to explain different aspects of “Crusade and Revolution” (C&R), and to increase your interest on it.

There are “sudden death” victory conditions, and as it happens with other wargames, not all the games are played to the last turn, but with this example you can see that it is quite possible to play a long war.

Historical simulation has been one of my obsessions while designing C&R, and I humbly think that the game achieves that objective. Note that I do not want a too restricted game, but certainly it has been built over a historical base, especially with regard to the internal and foreign political situation. Nevertheless, several “what ifs” will have their space in the optional rules and via the Internet.

As you have seen, military operations have the greatest importance in C&R (something logical being a war), but I have also devoted a lot of attention to political, economical and social events, which had a great influence in the Spanish Civil War and a considerable responsibility in the Republican defeat.

I wish you have found interesting the couple Victory Points (VP) / Republican Morale (RM). This two concepts usually progress at a similar rate, but there are enough differences between them to justify their separation. VP are mainly used to determine the winner of the game or if it is a draw. RM affects both players’ hand of cards and also determines if some events may or not be played. And if the Nationalist Player is not winning the war with VP (because he has “lost” some political disputes, for example), he could still win it through RM if the Republican side collapses (as it historically happened).

Back to the played game, I should find the reasons of my defeat as the Republican player. This has not been a game with terrible mistakes or amazing successes. Jon has played well, proceeding calmly and with clear objectives, taking the correct strategic decisions. Being the Republican, I must respond to enemy initiatives and try to interfere in his plans. I have done so as best as I could, but it was not enough.

Perhaps my worst decisions were taken in turns 10 and 11, when I did not reinforced well the defenses of Aragón and Catalonia, in the northeastern front. Jon made good use of this to launch a powerful and fast offensive that took his forces next to Barcelona. Without a protective line of spaces in front of the main city, it fell too quickly (in turn 13), and I suffered that loss the rest of the game. It is very difficult to avoid the loss of Barcelona, but you must try to delay it as much as possible.

Once again, thanks for your interest and for reading such a long article. And many thanks for those thumbs up! I expect that pre-orders will continue rising and that we will see C&R published one of these years.

Sincerely,

David
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