Saturday 10 October 2009

Wargames, Soldiers, & Strategy (Number 48: October 2009) – A review of the Spanish Civil War edition

Some of you might know that several years ago I wrote a wargamers guide to the Spanish Civil War entitled LA ULTIMA CRUZADA (The Last Crusade). It was 80 pages long and was published by Partizan Press, which is owned by Caliver Books.

I wrote the book because – at the time – there was very little general information available about the Spanish Civil War that would be on interest to wargamers. The book enjoyed some degree of success, and I know that it introduced quite a few people to what was a well known but little wargamed ‘modern’ war.

It was therefore with considerable interest that I saw – and bought – the latest issue of WARGAMES, SOLDIERS & STRATEGY. The cover stated ‘All the history of the Spanish Civil War inside’, and now that I have had time to read it I can write a short review.

Other than the regular features that the magazine contains (News, Miniatures Review, and the second part of an article about the life of Pyrhuss the Epirote) this edition is completely made over to coverage of the Spanish Civil War. The ‘dossier’ section includes:
  • Basic dictionary of the Spanish Civil War – This covers the main political parties, the nicknames of some of the aircraft used, and some Spanish military terms
  • Chronology – This is a two-coloured timeline (salmon pink for the Republicans and mid-blue for the Nationalists) on which the major events affecting either side are recoded; it also includes some small maps that show the progress of the war
  • A country on the brink of an abyss – This section explains the events leading up to outbreak of the Civil War as well as covering the fighting that took place up to the end of 1936
  • Fighting in the areas of Madrid, the Jarama, Guadalajara and Brunete – This covers the attempts by the Nationalists to capture Madrid by cutting it off from the rest of Republican Spain and their offensive to secure the South of Spain
  • The campaign in the North – This section deals with the Nationalist offensive against the Basque area of Northern Spain and the ‘civil war within a civil war’ in Barcelona that assured the ascendancy of the Communists within the Republic
  • The Republican offensives in Aragon and the campaign of the Levante – These Republican offensives were initially successful, but this section explains how they ran out of steam in the face of relentless Nationalist counter-attacks
  • The Republic’s last hope – The Ebro – This was the Republic’s final throw of the dice … that failed; this covers the reasons behind the offensive and the reasons why it failed
  • The Catalonia campaign and the end of the War – This section covers the gradual disintegration of the Republican Army in the face of the slow and unremitting Nationalist offensive to capture what remained of the Republic as well as the internal struggles within the Republic that ultimately led to its collapse
  • Tanks and Armoured Vehicles in the Spanish Civil War – This section looks at the development of armoured forces during the Spanish Civil War, and includes some very useful ORBATs (Orders of Battle)
The whole dossier is well illustrated with relevant, easy-to-understand maps, some excellent photographs of Spanish Civil War wargames figures – mainly 28mm but also a few 15mm – and examples of contemporary posters from both sides of the conflict.

This is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to know about why the Spanish Civil War broke out and the main military events of the War, and is well worth the price of £4.20. It does not cover uniform details, technical details of weapons, general ORBATs, the air war, or the naval conflict; for that information the reader will have to look elsewhere.


  1. I heard that alot of Anarchists were actually Frano's men. Tanks for the great writing

  2. Fixed Bayonet Metal Soldiers,

    You have to remember that a lot of Franco’s supporters came from the Falange (who were National-Syndicalists) whilst most of the Anarchists were Anarcho-Syndicalists; the two had certain similarities and there were some people who switched from one to the other … often to save their lives (the Falange’s blue shirt was nicknamed the ‘life jacket’ because wearing it saved the lives of a lot of people who would otherwise have been executed in Francoist Spain).

    So it is true to say that some of Franco’s supporters may well have started out as Anarchist … but there again some of the people who worked for the Republic’s Secret Police were ex-members of the Falange.

    It is amazing what political hoops people will sometimes go through to protect themselves and their families!

    All the best,


  3. I really enjoyed your review and I went and bought the magazine for myself. Fascinating stuff and I think using Peter Pig's AK47 rules might make for a good Spanish civil war game?

  4. Paint it Pink,

    It is a very informative magazine, and a good starting point for anyone thinking of wargaming the SCW.

    Martin Rapier - a fellow member of Wargame Developments - has written a variant of the original Peter Pig AK47 rules called Mexicanski 36. I recommend that you read them ... and possibly even give them a go.

    All the best,



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