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The Spanish Civil War

We'll be releasing Javier's design and background notes for his forthcoming game, The Spanish Civil War, in a series of installments. Look for each release about every week or so, Sunday nights. We hope that these notes will illustrate Javier's design and provide reasoning for the game's characteristics. It is currently on GMT's P500.

This is a great game about a subject sorely underrepresented in the gaming world, IMHO. Since taking on the development I've been reading on the conflict. What marks this civil war for me is that it happened while others did not. A failed coup. War. That simple. Civil War could have easily have happened in Germany or Italy... but, they avoided it (mostly) as the fascists ascended into positions of power and control. Though, many at the time were concerned about civil war. The Italian, Carlo Rosselli, would comment famously- "Today in Spain; tomorrow in Italy." So, the SCW could be seen as the 'first battlefield' of the latter half of the 20th century both by us looking back and by its contemporaries afraid for the future... The 'first battlefield' in the 50 year titanic struggle between the autocratic and the democratic nations of the western world.

The Origins of My Design

by Javier Romero

My very first wargame was La Guerra Civil Española by NAC. NAC and TYR were the pioneer Spanish wargaming companies: NAC (or Nike & Cooper Española) published a series of very easy and simple wargames during the early 1980s. Though, their latest releases became more complex. TYR, the company started by Anzio (AH) designer Tom Oleson and Spanish designer J. Ramírez (hence the name, Tom Y Ramírez, TYR), published wargames such as Brunete or La Marcha sobre Madrid. Although their graphics were rather crude (even by early 1980s standards), TYR’s releases were more complex games offering a more genuine wargaming experience.

La Guerra Civil Española (The Spanish Civil War, ) was published by NAC in 1981. My uncle Pedro gave it to me as a gift: I was 13 years old at the time. It had only 4 pages of rules but it included the basic (and fun!) concepts of wargaming: a turn based sequence of play including movement followed by combat. After playing La Guerra Civil to death, I started to make my own "house rules" to add more historical chrome and flavor.

Some years later, while I was at the university, I discovered a hobby shop in Barcelona that carried Avalon Hill Games. It was a revelation for me. I bought Russian Campaign immediately and played it over and over again during that long summer. That same year I discovered other wargaming brands: 3W, COA, XTR, etc. as well as a wargaming club in Barcelona. I became a passionate wargamer! After a few years of wargaming, I had the fortune of getting the opportunity to work with Alea magazine, the leading wargaming magazine in Spain. I started to contribute immediately, first in writing articles, and later in publishing games. Some of the games I was involved with were Nordkapp '42, Kursk 1943 and Iberos, my first published wargame.

As a wargamer I prefer operational and strategic games of low-to-medium complexity. Russian Campaign, Russian Front, Imperator, Storm in the West, When Eagles Fight, Proud Monster, The Great War in Europe... etc. etc. are some of my favorites. But there wasn't a game like these covering the entire Spanish Civil War. The market lacked a division-brigade level scaled game of low-to-medium complexity and playable in 1 or 2 gaming sessions. This lack in the market for such a game got me thinking about a design of those characteristics. The only games I could find on the entire war were too old and/or simplistic (NAC games, some older US games) or too long and complex for my tastes (For Whom the Bell Tolls from the Europa Series, published 1995). This thought process and investigation started about 12 years ago, in 1996. After many rules changes and redesigns and through much development and playtesting, the first prototype was submitted to the now defunct Command magazine. After Command Magazine’s final issue in 2001, I worked on the game some more eventually submitting it to GMT Games in 2007.

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Please see The Spanish Civil War folder on Consimworld for more information on the game. Javier is very responsive and open to thoughts and questions.

Thanks, Andy Young