Design Notes #2 For The Spanish Civil War
This is the 2nd installment of Javier's Design Notes for his forthcoming game on The Spanish Civil War.
The first installment can be seen on the GMT Games website. We'll be releasing other chunks as we move forward. Please see the game folder for more information- if interested in playtesting please message me privately.
In this segment Javier talks about the challenge of unit structure and evolution. In the wake of the failed coup the country quickly arranged in 29 pro-rebel provincial capitals as opposed to 21 capitals siding with the government of the Republic. There was little military training on the side of the Republic as men joined (many internationals as well) quickly formed units to combat the rebel forces.
The Columns War
One of the first problems I had to solve when designing this game was how to simulate the first months of the war. The conflict transitioned from sporadic, local clashes to a more conventional conflict during and after the Battles for Madrid (October 1936-March 1937). The main unit during the first stages of the war was the "Column" formed from a ragtag mix of police, army, paramilitary forces, and volunteers. "Column" tactics were used during the Moroccan Wars of the early 20th Century and consisted in separating a force in small independent groups. These units were highly mobile but overall lacked the ability to support each other. Each unit acted independently. These tactics were mostly used by the Nationalists (Rebels) but also by the Republicans. These tactics worked well for the Nationalists against the poorly trained and equipped militias that marked the early months of the war. As a better organized and armed Republican army formed during the battles for Madrid, the tactics were fast a failure. To simulate this maturation, most early Republican units in TSCW have two steps: the first representing their "Column" stage or "militia" side, the reverse of the unit being the "Ejército Popular" (People’s Army) side.
To clearly represent the changing face of the combatants during the Spanish Civil War, the game offers a Withdrawals and Conversion Phase. During this time, players withdraw disbanded units or convert units from their Column Stage to a more proper brigade or division formation. The units convert in place as foreign material poured into Spain, better leadership rose from the ranks and men hardened against the experiences of the early conflicts.
During the specific unit's "Conversion" or "Militarization" phase (as indicated on the unit in a Turn #), the Republican columns are flipped to their EP side. The "Militarization" that began during the Fall of 1936, was the conversion of the politically enthusiastic but poorly led and trained militia into a more orthodox military fighting force. The Nationalist Columns are divided between "Army of Africa" Columns (which had chosen the rebel side at the outset) and the rest of the units from the pro-rebel provincial capitals. In addition, the Nationalist Colonial units are represented with 2 steps and are withdrawn and substituted by brigades and divisions during 1937.
-- Javier Romero