Sunday 26 October 2014

¡El Manzanares! - Bloody November Campaign Game 2

It was late at night on Novemeber 15th, but a light still could be seen in the building of the Junta de Defensa de Madrid. Colonel Rojo was leaning on the maps extended over the table in the operations room. Asensio's columns have made important inroads in la Casa de Campo during the day and now there was no doubt that the river Manzanares crossing at Puente de Los Franceses and Puente Nuevo was a  key objective. 

He put his finger on the map line representing the wall of La Casa de Campo and said to himself: "Ni un paso atrás, el tiempo del sacrificio ha llegado" (not a step back, this is the time for sacrifice). He picked up the telephone and asked for Comandante Romero...

This is the battle report of the second game in our Bloody November-Madrid 1936 campaign for Chain of Command, set in the context of the Spanish Civil War.  You can find all the necessary details to play in  a previous post of the blog.

Saturday 25 October 2014

No Time for Picnic at Casa de Campo - Bloody November Campaign Game 1

The first dim lights of this mid-November morning showed the green and damp carpet of grass from the top of the hill where the milicianos squad took positions the night before. The early morning fog traces moving along the trees created phantomly figures of all shapes which the scared men took for the "moros", those apparently invencible men brought by the rebels from North Africa..  

 A strange quietness surrounded the men behind the stonewall,  not even the sound of a bird that probably had left by now for the warmer southern regions of Spain... and when the men thoughts were probably turning to the  past idle summer evenings spent picnicing in that same Casa de Campo, a cry from the advanced outposts was like a force landing jump into the grim realities of a battle  about to start ... "¡Cuidado, ahí vienen!"

This is the battle report of the first game in our Bloody November-Madrid 1936 campaign for Chain of Command, set in the context of the Spanish Civil War.  You can find all the necessary details to play in  a previous post of the blog.

Republican Patrol markers and Communist Dice

Sunday 19 October 2014

Villers Bocage Campaign - Game 2

Today we played the second scenario of the Villers Bocage campaign for Chain of Command after a very long spell (first game played in August). All details of the campaign and background can be found in the previous pots.

If you wonder the reason for using the photo above to illustrate the post, just read through to the end...

I played the Germans and after taking into consideration the casualties of the previous engagement  (7 casualties and the squad NCO), I ended up with two full squads and a small 4-men team with an LMG. My force moral was adjusted by -1 after rolling all the effects of losing the battle (all information available in At the Sharp End, the campaign supplement for Chain of Command).

¡Viva la República! - Heavy Weapons reinforcements

I spent Saturday morning finishing some  heavy weapons additions to reinforce my Repuiblican forces. Very handy considering the hard times coming defending Madrd form the fascist agression in our Spanish Civil War campaign.

I painted a Maxim HMG with a crew of 3...

... A Hotchkiss MMG with 2 crew...

... and a heavy 81mm mortar.

The latter are unlikely to see a lot use on the table (heavy mortars are considered off-board assets in Chain of Command) ... but who could resist buying such a beauty!!

All models are from the Empress Miniatures SCW series

Saturday 18 October 2014

Bloody November - Madrid 1936: Reading and Information Sources

Following the publication yesterday of the introductory post to our Spanish Civil War campaign for Chain of Command, I have received several communications requesting recommendations on information sources for the Battle of Madrid in 1936.

I may have to disappoint my English-speaking readers, but unfortunately I haven't been ablo to find any good reliable source in the language of Shakespeare, so what follows are references to bibliography in Spain.

Another warning: I’m not intending neither to be exhaustive in my suggestions, nor pretending that I’ve read every single book published on the topic. I consider myself a serious history aficionado (in fact for me is the other side to enjoy wargaming as a hobby) but I try to balance deep studying a period and using that information for my game.

In no particular order of preference, but these are most of the books/publications that I did use to get to know the period and on which I have some opinion:

1#  Desperta Ferro Contemporánea 4: Madrid 1936
This is the 4th issue published by Desperta Ferro in its new series of magazines focused on modern (XX and XXI century) conflicts. I really like this magazine and its approach to combine popular military history with wargaming, providing an excellent background when undertaken a new period or a specific event within a period of your interest.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Bloody November: A Chain of of Command España Campaign in Madrid 1936

After the failed previous July coup, Franco’s colonial troops in North Africa had reached the outskirts of Spain’s capital city by early November 1936, in an unstoppable drive, overcoming without contempt all armed opposition found on their way up from Sevilla.

The Republican Government has shamelessly left to Valencia with the enemy at the gates, escaping at night and without notice. But just before leaving, it appointed the dull and grey General Miaja commander of the garrison defending the city.

However the orders left to him in a closed envelope at the War Ministry office, opened during the early hours of November 6th, made it clear that the Government lacked any hope of the city surviving the Nationalist steamroller, suggesting instead to put a token resistance at best and then to pull back with the garrison remnants towards a new defensive line on the road leading to Valencia.
Original Italian CTV 1937 Map of Madrid Area

But miracles exist, and against all odds the city resisted the attacks of the rebel columns. The milicianos surprisingly (and unexpectedly) put up a fierce fight in the southern suburbs of Madrid.
In the left flank, a Nationalist column was expected to take La Casa de Campo, a popular natural park west of Madrid and across the Manzanares, used by the madrileños to shelter from the hot summer afternoons and to picnic on the bank of its famous artificial lagoon during weekends. 
The attack was launched in the early hours of November 8th but quickly petered out, although not before conquering a dominant hill within the park called Cerro Garabitas. This elevation will allow the Nationalists observers to direct the guns and to merciless pound the central area of Madrid over the next years.
 However, the failure to enter Madrid in this first push also represented for the Republicans a much needed infusion of moral and the cry of ¡No pasarán!  now reverberated across the city and Miaja unexpectedly became the people’s hero and the symbol of the resistance like Petain in Verdun during the Great War. 
Defending La República, Winter 1936
The following days saw renewed Nationalists efforts and much hand-to-hand fighting among the trees of Casa de Campo woods until on November 13th they finally reached the river Manzanares. 
They now were in control of a 500 meters strip along the river's west bank, extending from El Puente (bridge) de los Franceses and Puente Nuevo on the right, to the crossing overlooking La Ciudad Universitaria (the University District) on the extreme left.
On the 15th General Varela ordered Asensio to take these bridges and to move into Madrid, allocating a squad of Pz Is, also called negrillos due to its dark grey panzer colour, to provide more weight to the attack. 

29, Let's Go! New Campaign Supplement for Chain of Command

TooFatLardies has released the first of its (hopefully) many campaign books for Chain of Command in new series called "Pint-size Campaigns" (the "pint" being the cost of a standard beer drink in a British pub, which is the actual price charged for the book: GBP 3.50)

29 Let's go! was the motto of the 29th US Infantry Division, who fought all its way from Omaha Beach (yes, the guys at Saving Private Ryan) to deep into the Third Reich.

And for this princely sum you get in a typical TFL fashion a pdf document with 32 pages, of which around 1/3rd being a description of the forces and the background history of the first days in Normandy, following the trail of the US 175th Infantry Regiment and its foe at the other side of the hill, the German 352nd Infantry Division. Ony for the amount of historical research put on the book it would be worth buying.

The campaign setup are the actions of the US 175 from D-Day to D-ay+3 to link the Omaha with the other American beachhead at Utah that involved the attack on the key bridge at Isigny

After the historical section, the rest is material for the campaign, to be played in principle using the At the Sharp End CoC supplement but that can be easily adapted to any other favourite skirmish set of rules.

In conclusion, a very welcome release from TooFatLardies and hopefully this will be just the appetizer of a long series of publications for any WWII wargamer fan.

Sunday 5 October 2014

When Bravura is not Enough - A Big Coc Battle Report

Source: The Imperial War Museum

Today marked my return to the battlefields after a long spell since mid-August. My gaming mates had been intensively testing Big Chain of Command mixing infantry and armoured units over the past weeks and it was time for me to catch up.

 Our initial intention was to play a Normandy battle, but the late-minute absence (due to a family incident, thank God not serious) of the Fallschimjager platoon commander forced us to change on the spot to a North African scenario, as we had most of our stock of models in the club.

In this game, an Italian infantry platoon and a troop of tanks (3 x M13) were  ordered to retake an oasis recently conquered by forces of the 4th Indian Division; the Empire forces also received the support of a tank troop of Matildas. We used the “Attack & Defend” scenario 3 conditions of the Chain of Command book for this game.