Kevin Bernatz
United States
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Playtest of GMT’s The Spanish Civil War, Northern Campaign Scenario

This is the Background and first turn (turn 7) of the scenario. Turns 8, 9 and 10 will be posted later.


This scenario depicts the campaign by Franco to eliminate the two-front war aspect of the civil war by bringing the resistance in the Northern zone to a close. The scenario begins with the March/April 1937 turn (Turn 7) and lasts just four turns (until September/October 1937 – Turn 10). The Republicans set up first, followed by the Nationalists; with both sides forced to defend along a long curving arc or “bulge” reminiscent of a more famous one to develop 7 years later.

Both sides possess a mix of ad-hoc “column” units
, as well as fully formed brigades and divisions
; these latter two classes of units possessing a full, locking zone of control (ZOC). Columns only have a full ZOC if in a supplied town, but do block supply tracing. Given that one cannot move directly from one enemy ZOC (eZOC) to another, the fully formed military units are significantly better at holding terrain.

Through the four turns, both the Nationalists and Republicans will see their columnar units withdrawn (i.e. removed from the game) and replaced with organized military units. The Republicans receive more at first, but the Nationalists quickly gain superior quality units as the game progresses. In addition, both sides have several headquarter units
, which provide for several benefits; including providing column shifts on attack/defense and the ability to place units into reserve mode (more on this later). Headquarters also serve as secondary supply sources, along with friendly controlled towns and cities. Since out of supply units have half-attack and movement, half defense if not in a town or city, and provide opponents with a +1 drm if attacked, both sides need to be concerned about their supply situation.

Javier chose to take the Republicans, while I took the Nationalists. I’ll describe our relative set-ups in the three distinct regions: South, including Analucia and Extremadura; Center, including the region around Madrid and Zaragoza; and North: the object of the game, centering around the three Northern zones of Asturia, Santander and Euskadi. The set up rules break up the regions into four zones, with the region by Zaragoza being termed the “Eastern zone”, so one is limited to a somewhat historical set-up based on the rules.

In the South, both of us chose to set up defensively, using the minimum number of units to man the front line as we felt necessary. I bunched some of my units to “nip” two of Javier’s outlying columns to try to shorten my defensive line and keep him away from the key north-south rail line. In the center zone, Javier set up strong around Madrid, seeking to crush my over-extended line adjacent Madrid. Realizing that the key to victory was the North, I decided to merely fight a delaying action against him here, though I would try to attack some of his key units to keep him from being able to attack effectively (or so I hoped!). I decided to try to fight for Teruel, since it is a mountain victory city and was hopefully a hard place for him to take. In the North, Javier set up defensively with as many units being stacked together as possible, while still providing a line of eZOC to keep my units from penetrating behind his lines. I chose to concentrate my forces on the Astorians and Santander units, leaving the Basque units for last.

Turn 7

Since the Nationalists move first after setting up last, my first attacks were pretty much set to go. In the south, I attacked in two places: hoping to pinch off the end of Javier’s line and force him to run. Not only was I able to take the two Republican hexes, I also managed to surround the Republican 20th Division (the 2-5-4 unit).

Near Madrid I tried to hit one of his stacks where I could gain a concentric attack benefit (+1 drm if attacked concentrically). In the picture, you can see my headquarters providing combat support, even though not adjacent to the attacked hex (which is also being hit by a Legion Kondor air unit, which provides a +1 column shift in my favor).

As you can see, things did not exactly go well in this attack, though I did get Javier to use his CEN HQ unit (HQ’s can only be used for 1 attack/defense per turn).

In the North, I concentrated the Italian CTV units against one of the three remaining Astorian stacks, as well as having the Nationalists, with LK ground and CTV air support, attack the weakest Santander hex in his line.

Results were better than I expected, and it seemed that I was off to a good start.

However, Javier was not going to go down without a fight, and he proceeded to counterattack along the entire front – including in the North! In the South, he moved up units to provide supply to the 20th Division and attacked a surrounded CTV brigade
. Luckily for me, he failed to inflict serious damage and the CTV brigade lived to fight another day.

Likewise, in the Center he attacked a hex near Madrid and the city of Teruel, but was turned aside near Madrid (albeit after inflicting 3 of 4 step losses on my out of supply units … but they would serve to tie up his units for one more turn!). Sadly, Teruel fell - the first of my victory cities to do so. Three more and Javier would win via the auto-victory rules!

In the North, Javier had the Astorian units attack my exposed unit in the mountain hex, which turned out to be a poor choice when I committed a LK air unit to support their defense…and to provide a -1 column shift against the Republicans! He succeeded in taking the hex, but took heavy losses (2 steps) in the process
. Given that the game would be won or loss in the North, I was actually happy with this result; even though it put his surrounded units back in supply.

Edit (1): Clarified Title and status of Teruel
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