I have to confess that, as a died in the wool, Guardian reading lefty, the SCW has always held a Romantic attraction (a lot of civil wars seem to do that for some reason...). Maybe it's the bravery of the volunteers of the International Brigades, the early stand against fascism or the fact that it produced a much better class of poetry and songs, but it has always held an attraction.
Of course I know that it was a singularly unpleasant, faction-ridden mess with horrible, brutal acts on all sides but there's nothing like a quick chorus of Jarama Valley or Bandiera Rossa to make an old. Lefty go misty eyed...
That, coupled with a whole variety of Militias and troop types and refreshingly low-tech tanks make this an excellent period.
Too Fat Lardies, producers of CoC have produced a wealth of SCW resources available for free on their website ( Link ) with loads of lists for SCW forces ranging from the regular Peninsular army troops, assorted militias of all flavours, Moroccans and Italians of the CTV. There are also SCW -specific rule amendments reflecting the slightly different feel for this period. This has clearly been a labour of love for someone and the fact that it's all up there for free is remarkably generous
So back to last nights game...
We played out an Attack/Defend scenario with Keith's evil Moroccan Regulares (boo!) attacking the brave defenders of the 5th Brigade, holding a village and a hilltop church.
The patrol phase resulted in 2 of my squads being safely dug in around the buildings with 1 more off table in reserve along with my armour (a T26 and a mighty FA-I armoured car) and a field gun. Keith's troops were able to advance through the surrounding woods to place their jump off points out of sight but reasonably close to the village.
It was here that the better quality of the Regulares became obvious... with 6 command dice to my 4 they were able to do a lot more and to rack up a hefty total of Chain of Command points: these are gained with every 5 thrown and allow you to special actions such as ending the turn or interrupting an opponents move etc.
Compared with previous CoC games this was a much cagier affair...I think both us had learned from the trails of burning vehicles in previous games and were being much more cautious with our armour. Keith's Panzer 1 deployed, skulked round a wood for a bit and then took up a position where it could fire on the town. My field gun appeared and there then followed a lengthy duel between them both in which not a lot actually happened!
|The heroic gun crew|
I deployed my armour and, knowing there was an anti-tank gun due to be deployed by the Regulares, immediately hid behind a hill where the remained for most of the game.
|The 5th Brigade's T26 advances...|
|...and then spends most of the game hiding behind a hill!|
The Moroccan and Communist infantry exchanged fire between the wood and the town and slowly whittled each other down but, again, neither of us were being very brave in pressing home the attack.
Keith then unleashed what was to prove by far his most effective weapon...the off-table Machine Gun barrage. During the SCW it was common for armies to mass their MGs and use them in this way and it proved pretty devastating! Keith was able to shift the fire to cover 1 squad and the field gun and, despite being protected by the buildings, they were inevitably worn down. Eventually the lone gunner, bravely manning his gun to the end, broke and ran (I would have awarded him a medal if we didn't see medals as an elitist representation of the bourgeois oppressors!), leaving the village vulnerable.
I eventually managed to accrue enough Chain of Command dice to force the turn to end which meant the MG barrage finally ceased, giving the troops in the town some brief respite. It also allowed me to unleash my devastating air attack: there was a chance here that it would accidentally strafe my own troops which had Keith rubbing his hands in anticipation! Luckily they went for the right target but proved spectacularly rubbish, causing no casualties whatsoever...
My pitiful total of 4 command dice meant I'd failed to bring on 1 of my squads and struggled to find the dice to activate the tanks and Keith's Moroccans took advantage of my paralysis to charge home I an attempt to drive me out of the town. Despite a large advantage [in turn 1 at least] I failed to dent the charge and my squad routed back from the town....luckily the hefty casualties on the Moroccans meant they also turned and fled in their moment of triumph!.
My 26 and armoured car ventured out from behind their hill and, surprise surprise... up popped the long-awaited PaK anti-tank gun although the armour survived the exchange of fire.
By this point my morale had slumped due to broken squads and I was reduced to 2 command dice and I decided that was a good point to concede defeat.
So....the amendments to the rules add enough flavour without changing the nature of the game and reflect the variable nature of the range of SCW troop types using the Command dice and individual rules. An excellent set of rules!