Chain of Command Espana – A Festive Gift
Christmas is a time for giving, and this year we are in for a real treat. Our Lardy pals Rolf Grein and Jim Hale have got together to bring us the best gift of the year: a complete guide to the Spanish Civil War for Chain of Command. Many of you will have read their introduction in the Christmas Special. Over the forthcoming days we’ll be releasing Army lists for all sorts of various contingents, from a bunch of CNT militia to the Spanish Foreign Legion; from the Falange Espanol to the Assault Guards, we’ll be covering the complete conflict.
To kick us off and get us in the mood we have a Tapas sized set of rule amendments to pique your appetite. Then, as a small additional gift from under the tree, we have a Chain of Command Espana Playsheet so you’ll be ready to get your troops on the table as soon as the turkey is cleared away.
So, without further ado, here’s the low-down from the dynamic duo, Jim and Rolf.
The Spanish Civil War was one of the few major conflicts of the interwar era and in view of this it is perhaps fitting that this should be the first non-World War Two expansion for Chain of Command. Chain of Command’s unique take on representing platoon and other low level engagements is perfectly suited for this diverse and complex conflict.
Over the next few weeks you will see the release of a comprehensive set of army lists to refight these small engagements, using everything from Diehard Legionarios, to Moroccan Regulares, desperate and sometimes fanatical ‘Red’ Milicianos, devout Navarrese Requetés, foreign volunteers of every type and creed, and of course the great mass of Spaniards who were somewhat politically indifferent, but still got conscripted in the armies of one side or the other, regardless of their personal feelings or beliefs anyway.
It has become apparent over the preceding months, during the research and other work involved in creating the lists for CoC: España, that the Spanish Civil War and WWII were quite different in some respects, but not in others. Some of the differences are quite obvious; support weapons not generally being parcelled out to units until late in the war is one, that the vehicles generally have only two or three man crews and that they largely all fall into only a single armour class is another.
Other differences are somewhat more subtle and largely centre upon the lack of radios in lower tier formations. WWII Russian players are probably already aware of these shortcomings, but for you budding German, British and American Platoon Commanders, this may be a wholly unfamiliar experience.
This set of Optional and Advanced Rules for CoC España are largely designed to reflect the differences between WWII and SCW games. You do not have to use them of course, but if you do not, you are probably missing out on some SCW ‘flavour’ in your games and I am not just talking about playing with some dust and a couple of flies in your mouth here!
The biggest sections are those on operating on-table observers, whether they are for on or off-table support weapons and vehicles, where our largely ‘Armour 2’, ‘Crew 2’ vehicles are lifted out of the ‘pit of non-entity’ that these vehicles are usually consigned to in the WWII lists. The design team have tried to avoid adding ‘new’ rules and instead have concentrated on re-imagining the existing ones to fit our vision of the SCW. Some of the rules are also suitable for WWII games, particularly in the Early War period and particularly where the usual five-crew armoured behemoths are replaced by ‘the small stuff’. We hope you like them!
Armoured Fighting Vehicles
The bulk of vehicle and anti-tank guns used in the SCW, were virtually a world apart from their WWII brethren. Even the PaK 35/36, which was used in both wars, received a new shell between the two conflicts which virtually doubled its armour penetration.
While most weapons had some form of anti-tank projectile, these had been designed with the vehicles of the Great War, or the somewhat lighter interwar vehicles, in mind. The bulk of these weapons used what were essentially ‘big bullets’ rather than the APHE or HEAT rounds of WWII. Many were not even ‘capped’ as later projectiles often were.
As a result penetration values are somewhat lower than some of you will be used to. In this environment the generally lower armour levels of vehicles are somewhat more important, as even a few millimetres of armour can make a big difference to a vehicle’s survivability (or not) on the battlefield. These ‘less deadly’ AP rounds has enabled us to utilise rule Advanced Rule – Firing Procedure (12.1) as ‘standard’ as there is now no need to reduce AP effectiveness for the purposes of play balance, as we essentially have re-established ‘true’ gun/armour lethality as in CoC: WW2. It is also worth bearing in mind the ‘real world’ range scale of CoC as weapons as old as the low velocity FT 37mm gun pack as much punch as more modern comparable calibre weapons at the engagement ranges of 100-150yds that is typical in CoC.
Vehicles also do not have the larger crews of the later vehicles. In the two and three man crews of SCW tanks, the commander acted as both commander and gunner (or loader). There also were no crew members who could be swapped around to replace casualties. Losing a single crew member was a major problem. These revised rules are designed to reflect these differences and to give each type of SCW vehicle some individuality in the game.
While artillery in its various forms did not change overmuch between the two conflicts, its efficiency with regard to providing timely fire support vastly improved, largely thanks to the provision of radios to their forward observers and to the company commanders of the fighting formations. While radios did exist and indeed became more common, they were still generally far scarcer than they were to become during WWII.
Communication between observer and the guns themselves relied largely on either field telephone, line of sight via signal flags or heliograph or sending a runner. All of these options have their shortcomings, the phone needs a line, which can be damaged, waving flags about on the battlefield draws attention to you and runners can dawdle or be killed.
Artillery also needed to be closer to the front, which means that the enemy can use sound and flash ranging equipment, or even eyes and ears, to determine where the guns are positioned, making them obviously vulnerable to counter-battery fire. Where fire-support was essential (and indeed available), such as when field defences or armour needing destroying, this might even mean bringing the guns onto the battlefield and have them firing over open sights. Just calling up some artillery is far simpler by radio than the methods generally available to our SCW platoon leaders. To reflect this, the following rules provide a more realistic use of artillery in CoC España.
The People’s Militia list, shows the diversity of the early ‘War of Columns’ and the way in which Chain of Command can be used to reflect this unique aspect of the conflict. The Falange, being the opposite side of the same ‘militia coin’, provide the Nationalist player with many of the problems of using poorly trained militias, just as the Republican player will encounter with his ‘People’s Militia’. Fighting on both sides however were the high quality Security Services made up of Assault Guards, Caribineros and Guardia Civil police forces which highlight the full panoply of paramilitary forces engaged in the crucial early months of the war.
Later lists which feature ‘almost’ WWII armies, illustrate the application of both experience and innovation, as well as influence of foreign advisors and the weaponry they introduced to the conflict. In many cases though it was the Spanish themselves who taught the ‘experts’ and who took away lessons to be learnt. All this can be used using Chain of Command to providing a new and historical look at the Spanish Civil War. Contrary to what you be thinking right now, the actual amount of ‘new rules’ here are minimal, largely you will just be using the ones you are used to, but in a different way and in the process perhaps take away some lessons of your own to apply to your WWII games.
We hope you enjoy the using the Chain of Command:España expansion.
¡Viva España! or ¡Arriba España! depending upon one’s perspective.
You can download the rule amendments and the Playsheet here: