This is my first play of this game which was published in 1976 by Jadgpanther Productions. There is a $1.75 sticker on the game which was probably purchased at Strategy and Fantasy World in King of Prussia, Pa. It is unpunched and unplayed. I know collectors will shudder, but I am punching out the pieces and playing it. Games are meant to be played and thus this one shall.
I am a history aficionado, but the subject here is not something I am familiar with and any reading I have done on the history of the Spanish Civil War was decades ago. I did read “For Whom the Bell Tolls” within the year, providing an atmospheric setting for the game, but no meaty details. I think this will give me a fresh approach, being unconstrained by preconceived notions. Victory conditions are pretty simple, Nationalist forces need to seize and hold city hexes, Republican forces need to keep this from occurring. Loss of three Madrid hexes will cripple Republican replacements, so Madrid is key to defend and retain.
Two river lines interpose themselves between Madrid and the Nationalists. It looks like stacking points are key in this game, low point high combat factor unit providing punching power. This is tempered by the immediate and debilitating effects of being placed out of supply, so care must be given to flanks as there are flocks of 1-6 (one combat, six movement) militia available to both sides which exert the same zones of control as all other units and can be used to place advancing forces out of supply.
TURN 1 (Oct 1936 A)
Nationalist reinforcements come from the west, except for a high defense militia unit which anchors the supply line in Siguenza. We start shoving forward in the north with the object of diverting some effort there. The main effort will come in the west, although if Siquenza develops, we can off map movement to shift in that direction.
The offensive out of Siquenza gains ground, but does not eliminate any of the Republicans. I am a bit worried that Siguenza is vulnerable but since I can trace Nationalist supply to any reinforcement hexes the Republicans cannot both take Siguenza and surround our offensive with zones of control, so we remain safe for the moment.
In the west our Moroccan and Foreign Legion forces (4-8’s with a stacking value of 1 and 6-8’s) smash the defenders, destroying one infantry unit and forcing the first river line. I make sure to screen the advance anchoring the northern flank with a screen of low value units having a defender value of 2.
Both reinforcements to Madrid. We shore up the river line, no attacks, just determined defense.
We counterattack at 2-1 on the Siguenza front. An NE result accomplishes nothing.
In the northern mountains we move adjacent to the Nationalists, pinning them in place.
TURN 2 (Oct 1936 B)
Franco orders the heavy units south, exploiting the bridgehead over the Republican river line north of Toledo. If we can roll up this flank and get to Madrid before reinforcements arrive we will have an early victory. We will continue to apply pressure in the Siguenza area to pin units there, militia stare and snipe at each other in the mountains in a deadly viscous and personal game of cat and mouse.
Franco cracks the southern end of the Brunete line, an exchange exacting a cost, but unhinging the Republicans. At this time we can afford the loss of units, denying a high defense value unit at the cost of a high attack/high stacking value unit is a trade we can make. The second 6:1 attack yields a DR2 and the Republicans form a fall back line.
A 3:1 in Siguenza is wildly successful (roll of 6) eliminating two militia units and keeping the pressure on.
An acceptable turn in the west, but a concerning turn in the north. Will rebuild defensive lines in the north, which will receive all reinforcements except a 1-6 militia which will be sent to Brihuega. May decide to pull some militia out of the hills in the north, but we will see.
We will throw out the militia to screen the southern end of the Brunete line, they will be rolled up but know how to fade into the populace and return to fight again. We will strike at the northern flank of the main nationalist advance west of Madrid. In the north we strike at an exposed nationalist unit near Siguenza, but will continue to give ground, pulling back in the mountains to free some militia, trading space to free up a unit.
All attacks go in, two NE (No effect) results against the main Nationalist effort and a DR1 against the sideshow in Siguenza. Not what had been hoped for, some EX results would have been helpful.
TURN 3 (Nov 1936 A)
Well, they tried to turn our flank, but our brave soldiers did not flinch. Let’s see if we can turn theirs. We are starting to break out in the plain approaching Madrid, need to eliminate a few more units and the will run out of flankers as the battlefield widens. In the Siquenza area we can turn a flank and may be able to threaten Brihuega.
The Brunete Line shudders and one Republican 2-3-6 is eliminated, but it does not crack. That armor made the difference and was a nasty surprise for our Communist enemies. Our spearhead approaches Brihuega in the south.
(Rules ruling – I want to note that I have been accumulating replacement points, rather than just applying a “use or lose” rule to them. To me this make sense since points start accumulating on turn 1, but there is no way to use any on turn 1. Anyhow, at this time the Republicans have 6 accumulated points, the Nationalists 9. Replacement points are expended by stacking value, although armor and Italians and International Brigades cannot be replaced.)
I am tempted to throw the replacements and reinforcements at Brihuega. I can use the militia to isolate the Nationalist spearhead and attack it, perhaps fully destroying it. Our Brunete Line can hold out one more turn when our brothers from the International Brigades start arriving.
Their 1 stacking value allows me to prepare some effective counterpunches. Even with internal lines of communication, if we fail to create and destroy a “Brihuega pocket,” we will have trouble redeploying and a “race to Madrid” may ensue. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
We readjust the Brunete line and will lose one 2-3-6 (isolated, irretrievable) due to our withdrawal.
Our attacks on the successfully formed “Brihuega pocket” will be a 6:1 on the leade unit, followed by a 6:1 on the follow on stack, followed by a 2:1 on the base stack of 3 x 1-6 militia. Given stacking limits, the first two attacks have a good chance of total success and the last attack has a 50% chance of success.
The attacks fully succeed and the plains north of Brihuega are littered with the bodies of fascists. Songs are already being sung celebrating our victory.
Turn 4 (Nov 1936B)
Made a fatal error in my drive on Brihuega, saw it right after the move, but I play solo with a fidelity to even errors. We will continue to bludgeon in the west, consolidate in the north and try to hold Siguenza. I am tempted to try to force a mountain pass, but time to do this seems too dear. I am holding nine replacement points which will grow, so can easily replace my losses and bring them to bear from the west.
Time to crack the Brunete Line again. I will press the center of the Brunete line. With a couple of DR2 results in the right places I can form a pocket. “Remember Brihuega” will be our cry. We will focus our attacks on hexes 1206 and 1008 at 4:1 to force retreats and try to pocket a pair of 2-3-6 units and sunder this line once and for all.
The attack on 1206 achieves the desired DR2, the attack on 1008 is too successful, shattering and destroying the reds, but we still pocket the targeted units, just not able to lock it in with units, our ZOC’s forming the final isolation. To rescue them, the reds will have to attack.
The attack on 0909 yields a DR2, which allows the reds to screen Madrid with their retreat. Hoping for DE or EX results in the rest of my attacks. A 4:1 at 0810 also yields a DR2, bending not breaking is not what we are hoping for. Hex 0611 also yields a DR2 and a DR1 for hex 0313. Less than optimal results, but does force the hand of the Republicans.
We will use our militia to isolate Siquenza, the effort to take it is not worthwhile as the fascists can just fight their way back onto the battlefield and I cannot defend it well. All units we can spare will rush to Madrid. This turn the International Brigades begin to arrive. We will swing back the left and anchor it on hex 0615.
In Siguenza we will isolate and destroy the militia in hex 2830, foolish arrogant fascists, eliminating them on a 6:1 (isolated) roll of 2, DR2 (no where to go, more bodies for the crows.)
Two can play at this game. We will attack hex 1206 at 3:1, advancing if victorious and isolating 1207 which we will then attack at 1:1. Longer odds, but braver soldiers. The fascists in 1206 reel from our attack, a DR2. We occupy with our local heroes, isolating 1207. The 1:1 is an NE result, our brave comrades in the pocket die for international brotherhood.
TURN 5 (DEC1936A)
We are better at this than our amateur opponents. Even their famed International Brigade cannot stop us. We will push straight towards Madrid with our forces, screening off the stronger Republican forces to the north. Swarms of militia will answer my call and we will seek to breach the mountain passes north of Brunete, opening another front on the enemy flank.
A quick offensive buys some room around Siguenza and unites two militia formations.
Our winter offensive will smash the unbeliever lines at 1011 and 1110, opening a path to Madrid. Up and down the Brunete line we advance, destroying two units and forcing all other engaged back.
In the passes north of Brunete we force one pass the reds running in fear.
For the first time we do not have enough replacement points to reconstitute all losses. Our Brunete line is bent to the breaking point. We must evacuate the northern end before we are pocketed. Bad defense in the mountains has left us vulnerable on that flank. However, our international brethren stream in just in time. We will fight on the outskirts of Madrid, our replacements thrown immediately into battle.
A lunge at Siguenza yields an exchange and we seize the city. On the Brunete line we shove and push back the fascists, destroying no formations. The first appearance of armor is used to supplement our International brigades as a mobile striking force, countering the fascist armor capabilities.
TURN 6 (DEC 1936b)
The loss of Siguenza is of little consequence. It serves the purpose of tying down troops, but our goal has always been Madrid. We will lose the militia unit pinned in the mountains near Siguenza due to isolation.
We will continue to force the passes north of Madrid as well as pressing on the flanks. The International Brigade cannot be everywhere and we order a general offensive to break the Brunete line and liberate Brunete. Our Italian allies are soon to arrive to bolster our cause.
The Republican flanks collapse, the center sags and we reach the outskirts of Madrid, and we have forced a pass north of Brunete.
It looks grim, but help is on the way. We will eliminate the Nationalist militia near Siguenza and then screen the border against further incursions, this should free up a unit. Our replacements and reinforcements will go towards the defence of Madrid and local counterattacks. We will rebuild our southern flank.
The fascists are cleared out of Siguenza.
In Madrid a river defense is built. The international Brigade supported by our troops attack at 2:1 and go nowhere. We await the next blows.
Merry Christmas, 1936.
TURN 7 (Jan 1937A)
Our Italian allies are arriving. There is a temptation to open the Siguenza front, but not yet. Only two city hexes (three if you count Guadalajara) are in easy distance of that, whereas Madrid is ripe for the picking and if I seize three hexes, Republican reinforcements cease, which will end the game for all intents and purposes. We will continue to extend both flanks, diluting Republican power and options while selectively hammering the center. Good hunting!
General success on all attacks, we clear the suburbs of Brunete and force two crossings on the souther flank.
More reinforcements and the chance at a counterstroke on the fascists on the outskirts of Madrid. Our attacks go in and push them back, we destroy a powerful formation attempting to force our southern flank. Not as well as hoped, but some progress. We can no longer trade space for time and must make a stand.
TURN 8 (Jan 1937B)
More of our Italian brethren pour into the battle.
Another attempt to force the remaining communists out of the passes and onto the plain, as well as a frontal assault on the international mercenaries who have ventured out of Madrid, coupled with continued pressure on the southern flank of the nonbelievers will lead to our eventual victory.
We pin and destroy an International Brigade stack west of the river, crippling the republicans and making foreign mercenaries unwelcome in Espana. These forces, low stacking, high value cannot be replaced and are gone.
A very successful turn, the passes are cleared, the southern flank turned, and one-third of the International Brigade destroyed. And we have yet to reopen the Siguenza front…
Disaster, my fault for failing to ensure that my International Brigade units had a retreat path. A heavy price to pay.
We bolster the river defense line with a defense in depth, setting up kill sacs for any DR2 results we may suffer. We secure our southern flank, obliterating two bridgeheads and two 6-8 infantry formations which feel the bite of our newly supplied Soviet tanks, gifted from our freedom-loving socialist brethren.
TURN 9 (FEB 1937A)
Four turns to seize four city hexes for a marginal victory. While a lunge at Siguenza may yield one, Madrid beckons and we will attempt to end this once and for all. With defender doubling, once we seize a hex, we will be easily be able to hold it. It is in the seizing that we must labor on for victory and glory. We will make many heroes today…
The Italians will strike on the Siguenza front with their mobile forces and infantry. We will concentrate our Madrid attacks north and south of the city and on the southern flank. This is the start of the final battle.
The Italians force their way into the theater, opening a second front.
Meanwhile, near Madrid:
A 3:1 on hex 1812 yields a DR1.
A 5:1 on hex 1711 yields a DR2.
A 2:1 on hex 1213 yields an NE.
A 1:1 on hex 1013 yields a DR1, destroying a 3-6 with no place to retreat. The stacking rules can be hazardous to your health and make defense in depth costly at times.
A 6:1 on hex 1017 yields a DE. We were hoping for a DR2 to start to form a pocket, but the Republicans stood fast, died in place and protected their flank.
A 4:1 on 0920 yields a DE, blowing hold in the Republican southern flank.
Defend Siguenza as best I can to screen the cities behind it, delay on the flanks and fortify Madrid. Mobile counterattacks when we can achieve local superiority. The loss of the three International Brigade units limits us, but is not as crippling as I first thought. This may be a close run thing.
We will send reinforcements to Siguenza, we cannot lose city hexes. We will try to pinch off the penetration north of Madrid and the Italian bridgehead south of Madrid. We fight for freedom, our anarchists, communists, republicans, democracy advocates side-by-side with our freedom-loving brethren from all over the world.
A 6:1 eliminates the Italian infantry north of Siguenza, they seem less than motivated to die far from home for an evil cause and idiotic dictator.
A 3:1 lead by our heroic International Brigade brethren and supported by Spanish patriots yields a DR2, throwing the bridgehead back. Since the first armor unit does not count towards stacking limits, no losses are incurred by the fascists.
A 5:1 on hex 1013 yields a DR2 (reduced to 1 hex as the first retreat was across a river) and the Italian bridgehead is eliminated.
A 1:1 against hex 1017 yields an NE result, units remain engaged.
TURN 10 (FEB 1937A)
This is turning into quite the shoving match. With three turns left, I will throw my Italians against Siguenza along with my replacements. Between Siguenza and Brihuega, Toledo and Brunete that is four city hexes for a draw, and one hex of Madrid (or maybe slipping into Guadalajara) and a Nationalist victory results.
And the final battle for Madrid begins. We will strike from the north and south, while keeping pressure on the flanks. (We are two movement phases from Guadalajara from the south of Madrid.
A general attack is ordered on the Siguenza front, with militia leading our heavier infantry.
The southern militia is demolished by our infantry south of Siguenza.
In Madrid we target hexes 1811, 1611 and a forlorn hope at 1412. We continue to pressure the southern flank. Something must break, we have six weeks to win this battle and defeat the counterrevolutionaries.
Hex 1811 and 1611 both are taken on DR2 results, the force in 1611 destroyed with no retreats available. We are already adjacent to Madrid.
The attack on 1412 is called off, with the doubling of defenders in the city and halving due to river, odds are less than 1:1.
A 2:1 on 1114 yields an NE result.
A 4:1 on 1019 yields a DR2.
A 1:1 on 1016 yields an NE.
A 6:1 on 1118 yields a DR2.
Wow, this is going to be close. We need to keep from disintegrating.
A couple of rules notes, I decided that to benefit from the river defense modifier, all units must be attacking across river hexsides, or none are halved. Also, the supply rules talk about being isolated in a city, but say cities are supply sources, so I decided that units in cities cannot be isolated. My game, my house rules.
All replacements are militia, need to screen rather than counterattack in the hinterlands and my offensive combat power is where I need it to be, having one 2-3-6 is less utile to me than having 3X 1-6’s
A counterattack north of Siguenza in the north, as well as assigning strong (defense factors of 3) garrisons to Guadalajara, Brihuega and Siguenza.
North of Siguenza a DR1 eliminates a stack of Italians. I was tempted to allow off map retreats, but the rules make no allowance for this, so they will go into the destroyed unit track. Seems a bit gamey and ahistoric, but you have to make decisions.
A 1:1 counterattack on 1610 next to Madrid, as well as a 1:1 on 1812, as well as a 3:1 on 1217.
The 1:1 results in a DR1 reducing the fascist bridgehead, a 2-3-6 occupies.
The 1:1 on 1812 yields an NE result.
The 3:1 on 1217 yields a DR2, sending the fascists fleeing.
TURN 11 (MAR 1937a)
A general offensive is ordered on both fronts, we are running out of time. The most pivotal attack is a 1:1 against the International Brigade in hex 1612, we hope for an EX result.
Two 6:1 attacks shatter the militia in the east.
A 3:1 clears the area south of Siguenza. Defenders north of Siguenza are also pushed back. Desultory mountain battles result in an NE in hex 2823.
The 1:1 against the International Brigade yields an NE (roll of 1).
Hex 1911 is taken on a 4:1. 1611 is taken on a 10:1 and we are again adjacent to Madrid. A 2:1 forces hex 1114. A 1:1 takes 1014 the defenders dying in place with no retreat available. A 2:1 on 1117 stalls, A 4:1 on 1218 forces a DR2, A 6:1 on 0921 forces a DR2.
I fear it may be too little too late. The game will hinge on rolls for Siguenza and one hex of Madrid.
Hold on, hold out, the revolution must survive. All replacements to Madrid, a counterattack on hex 1611 will decide the security of the revolution.
A 1:1 on 1611 yields a roll of 1, NE (seems like troops on both sides are fatigued), 2:1 on hexes 1217 and 1317 yield NE results.
Siguenza stands pat.
TURN 12 (MARCH 1937b)
The denouement. The Italians spot a hole in the Republican lines west of Siguenza and attack Brihuega. Italian reinforcements also attack Siguenza, taking these two cities guarantees a draw.
In Madrid three powerful stacks will attack hex 1512 for the win with supporting attacks all around.
Siguenza front, a 15:6 (2:1) on Siguenza yields an NE result, no victory for the fascists here. The Siguenza front has been the death knell for them. The same odds attack on Brihuega yields the same result, no joy for the boys in black.
Madrid front – a 1:1 on 1512 yields an NE.
Madrid proper, defending 1614 are 10 international Brigade factors, doubled in the city. Attacking are 3x16 factor fascist stacks, 48 total factors. We go in at 2:1 and roll a 3, stalling on an NE result.
The Nationalists end their portion of turn 12 with only 2 cities, a Republican decisive victory, the Spanish Civil War continues.
It was a close run thing and then it wasn’t. My initial assessment was that the Nationalists could punch their way into Madrid, seize a few hexes and that would be it. I was incorrect.
As a “counter-puncher” I play a conservative game, looking for opportunities for local superiority and the possible unexpected strategic strike. My style is more suited for the Republicans in this game and probably influenced the outcome.
I made two major errors as a strategist. (And a slew of minor ones I am sure.) My early fascist assault on Brihuega I saw was out on a wing with endangered supply, but got greedy. I paid for this, losing ground I failed to regain until too late. As the Republican I squandered three low stacking value, high combat power units – not eligible for replacement – of the International Brigades to take a hex in front of Madrid I knew I could not hold and which had no real military value. When they were pinched off and forced to retreat, they had no path of retreat and were eliminated. I think this loss was actually more significant than the Brihuega pocket, as those units were quickly replaced and the choice to use them elsewhere was not as resource-based as strategic.
A relatively bloodless CRT gives that militia some delaying power. This is probably accurate given the effect militia has in delaying regular military formations through today. I still had units to replace for the Republicans at the end of the game, I had plenty of Nationalist replacement factors available. This tells me I left some cards on the table and should have taken more risks and accepted more casualties as the Nationalist player. Also, cities provide significant defense modifiers, when supplemented by attackers assaulting across a river a city hex can become impregnable from that direction forcing flanking attacks. I did not see this until too late and ran out of time as the Nationalists to flank Madrid and take it from the east.
I also opted to focus on the temptation that is Madrid to the exclusion of other objectives. As the Nationalist player I should have brought more pressure all around. I should have attacked every pass, every turn, eventually they would crack. I should have marched in from the north, taking Siguenza, Brihuega and Guadalajara. Those three cities plus Brunete and Toledo guarantee a marginal victory with just one hex of Madrid for a decisive victory.
The game has four pages of rules, three by the time you factor out set-up rules, reinforcement schedule, history and definitions. It has a high replay value due to the different strategies available to approach the victory conditions. The few holes in the rules are easily adapted to (read the game narrative for my solutions to those).
All in all an enjoyable game, very good for the solo player who likes to play both sides.
"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."