Europa Games and Military History

Author: David Stokes (Page 1 of 4)



Game Outcome

The game was obviously a Decisive Loyalist Victory by a rather rediculous margin.

General Commentary

The biggest factor was the variable start rolls went very badly for the Insurgents. They didn’t pick up much worthwhile, and lost several cities. The worst of it was that they lost 5 artillery units that the would have had with the historical outcome. The biggest problem operationally for the Insurgents was that the artillery shortage became so sever that there were several times they could have launched counterattacks but didn’t because if they had had to take any exchange losses out of supported units they had no way to rebuild them. Of course having more artillery units to start with would have done nothing to increase the amount of artillery RP’s recieved during the game, but it would have kept the shortage from being so constraining. I doubt that I would have wanted to play out the situation in a game against an opponent as opposed to a solitaire game.

Both sides had occasional supply problems. The Insurgents had plenty of attack supply, but low rail cap meant they often had trouble getting it to the front. After mid-’37, the Insurgents rarely attacked, so this was no longer a problem; by the end of the game they had huge amounts of supply stockpiled near the front, and still had lots sitting in port. The Loyalists, with more rail cap, had an easier time getting their supply to the front, but expended their entire allotment several times during the game. They only had problems getting supplies forward after they began directing their main attack up the low volumn rail line. Even then, there were times that all of their supply had been shipped forward and there was nothing left in the rear. The only big backlog of supply the Loyalists had was at Gijon, where they had a big stockpile due to not taking Oviedo and connecting Gijon to the rest of the rail net.

It seems to me that combat die rolls averaged out pretty evenly overall. However, the Insurgents did get the short end of air combat rolls in the early going. The air rolls did eventually even out, but by then the game was probably already decided.

Despite the relative lack of air power in FWtBT, air units can have a big impact on the game due to the general weakness of the ground units and low unit density. In other Europa games, you might often have combats where 100 points are attacking 30, and 3 or 4 points of GS or DAS won’t make much difference. In FWtBT, though, you may have lots of combats where 20 points are attacking 5, and those same 3 or 4 bombing strength points can make a big difference. 20:5 = 4:1, but add 3 point of GS and you get a 60% chance of the odds going to 5:1 if using incremental odds, but on the other hand 3 points of DAS instead lower the odds to 2:1 with a 80% chance of getting 3:1.

Operational Comments

The Insurgent position started off much weaker that the historical situation, but I see 4 key turns that lead to their defeat.

1) Aug I ’36. The Insurgent take Gijon, but lose it immediately to a
counterattack. The initial Insurgent attack went in at 3:2 odds and got lucky. There is no reason to send in attack this weak on such a key point. If you don’t want to commit more units than this to the North in ’36, don’t bother making an attack at all. Making this attack was definately a mistake, but was redeemed by a lucky die roll. Having been handed a gift, the Insurgents gave it right back by sending their fleet back to El Ferrol and letting the Loyalist have control of the seas off Gijon, letting their counterattack go in with NGS. Sending away the ships was easily the biggest, clearest mistake I made in the game. Letting the attack go in so weak to start with is I believe the second. (I took some chances at other times, and may have made some questionable decisions, but these were out-and-out mistakes.)

2) Jan I ’37. An attack on the rail line west of Madrid doesn’t do anything but waste supply. The Insurgent plan for ’37 called for secondary attacks in this area, but I shouldn’t have attacked here till the same time as the main attack offensive started in the north. Still, this is nowhere near as big a deal as #’s 1 & 3. (Probably a mistake, but it’s not absoluted clearly so.)

3) May II ’37. A 3:1 – 2 attack results in a disastrous AH, the destruction of the 13 XX (a 7-6, best division in the game), and the end of the last Insurgent offensive. It was risky, but had it succeeded, the Insurgents would have had a good chance to knock the Santanderos out of the game in a few more turns, which would have greatly increased the pressure on the Asturians and somewhat on the Basques. The Insurgents really have to knock the northern gobernitos out before the end of ’37 or else the VP awards for the gobernitos not falling really start to add up. The Insurgents were already behind schedule and this was really their last chance, so I don’t feel there was any other choice but to attack. (I definately do not consider this attack a mistake, but rather a big gamble that had to be taken and which completely backfired.)

4) July II ’37. Burgos is taken and the CVT wiped out in the loss. (I don’t feel that there was any Insurgent mistake in this, just a Loyalist gamble that paid off. The attack was a 2:1 straight up and resulted in a HX, so it was hardly a sure thing.)

And finally, it’s not a specific turn, but in Mid-’38, many of the better Insurgent units were still in the north. Some of these should have been sent to Extramadura before the fall of Don Benito. The game was already lost to the Insurgents at this point, so it really doesn’t matter, but the Insurgents probably should have kept their part of Spain from being split in two. (A mistake, yes, but again, not that big a deal given the overall situation at this point.)

There were a few other mistakes I made with the Insurgents, but they were more tactical in nature, particularly a couple of times I didn’t scramble or intercept with fighters but left them of the ground to be protected by AA.

With the Loyalist, nothing stands out as a big mistake. I made some tactical mistakes with them too, of course, but nothing that had a large apparant impact on the course of the war. I now am inclined to believe that shifting the direction of the attack up the low volumn rail line in ’38 was a mistake, but it’s not clear if it was or not. I was focusing on the idea of splitting Nationalist Spain in two. Once I achieved that goal, it wasn’t as big a deal as I had thought it would be. The biggest effect was that the Insurgent rail cap was split between to segments, but at that point the Insurgents didn’t have to move much by rail. There were 4 basic options for where to make the main effort in ’38 : 1) continue the ’37 offensive in Castilla la Vieja, 2) attack up the high volumn rail line west of Madrid, 3) attack up the low volumn rail line, or 4) try to fight my way into Andulasia from Murcia thru the mountains. At the time, I ranked them (from best to worst) as # 3, # 2, # 1, and # 4. In retrospect, I’d still rank # 4 as the worst option, but I’d rank the others as # 1, # 2, and # 3. Still, what I did had the advantage ot hitting the Insurgents where they were weakest. The big problem was that I wasn’t able to shift some of the best Loyalist units from around Burgos; it was a choice of railing in units or supplies, and I had to move supplies. To make it clear, some of the best units were shifted, but not as many of them as I would have liked.

I think that a good case could be made that I was not aggressive enough with either side. I was certainly not aggressive at sea. Basically the operations around Gijon in ’37 and the shipping of units from Morocco to Mainland Spain wa all the navies did. I thought a few times about launching a Loyalist amphibianous invasion of Morocco, but never did.

Odds and Ends

There were 28 Insurgent and 81 Loyalist ground attacks in my game. The average Loyalist attack went in right at 4:1; the Insurgent average was mid-way between 4:1 and 5:1. For both sides, the average pulled up some because several attacks on intrinsic garrisons at 8:1 or 9:1 are included. Out of 109 total attacks, 19 (over 17%) were at less than 3:1 (15 at 2:1, 3 at 3:2, and 1 at 1:1; no attacks at less than 1:1, and yes, if you’re wondering, I have made 1:2 attacks in other games). Over half of all attacks were at either 3:1 or 4:1. Three-fourths of all attacks had a die-roll mod of either 0 or -1. Of course, lack of armor means there were very few attacks with a positive die-roll mod.

The Nationalist BBTF somehow managed to get thru the whole game without taking random mine damage, a very unlikely outcome. I think the odds are something like 1 in 5,000 that this will happen.


Several people have posted about the variable start rule, saying that they found that it has too big an effect on the game. There was a suggestion in TEM about one way to limit this, but I have another. Roll for variable start before choosing sides. If both players agree that the situation seems balanced, then chose sides randomly. Otherwise, re-roll for variable start until both players do agree.

Victory Condition Option. As I mentioned, the VP awards for the northern gobernitos not falling mean that the Insurgents pretty much have to follow the historical strategy of a northern offensive in ’37, or even an unhistorical ’36 northern offensive, if they want to win. As an option to avoid this, I offer the following:
Before beginning play, the Insurgent player secretly writes down what his strategy for 1937 will be. There are 4 possibilitie strategies: Northern, Central, Eastern, or Southern. Which strategy he has chosen is revealed at the end of the game. Each has a different impact of VP awards:

  • Northern Strategy. VP awards are unchanged from page 68 of the rulebook.
  • Central Strategy. Ignore the VP awards to the Loyalist player for the northern gobernitos (Asturias, Euzkadi, and Santander) not falling by Jun I 37. Instead award him 15 VP’s each turn from that date if the Insurgent player does not control every city (including point cities) in Castilla la Neuva and/or 5 VP’s if the Insurgent player does not control both Calatayud and Albacete.
  • Eastern Strategy. As per the Northern Strategy, except the VP awards to the Loyalist player are 5 VP’s each for controlling Zaragoza, Lerida, Terragona, and Barcelona.
  • Southern Strategy. As per the Northern Strategy, except that the VP awards to the Loyalist player are 5 VP’s each for controlling Cartagena, Murcia (the city), and Valencia.

If the Central, Eastern, or Southern strategy is chosen, the Loyalist player is still awarded the VP’s listed on page 68 for each of the Northern gobernitos which has not collapsed beginning with Jul I 38. For all 4 strategies, continue to award the Loyalist player 5 VP’s each turn from Nov I 38 if Cataluna has not collapsed. (The Insurgents still have to worry about the gobernitos sooner or later, this option just let’s them do it later.)

July 1939

Jul I 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

A Nationalist SM-79 and a CVT CR.32bis are rebuilt. The forces at Cordoba are ordered to remain in their defensive mode and not counterattack the disorganized Republican units in their area.

Loyalist Player Turn

An I-15 is rebuilt. The losses from the Cordoba disaster are made good, but there is no more supply to fuel offensive action.

Jul II 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

A Nationalist He111 is rebuilt. Units remain in a defensive posture.

Loyalist Player Turn

The Republican high command no longer sees any quick chance to penetrate the strong Rebel river and mountain lines in the south. Offensive operations are put on hold while an assessment is done as to where to make the next big push. In any event, it is decided that it will be necessary to stockpile supplies before any major operation, rather than to continue to run offensives on a shoestring. It will be some time before large stores of attack supply can be gathered. Without any major battles looming, the eyes of the world, never fully trained on the Spanish situation, begin to be drawn more and more toward Central Europe…

June 1939

Jun I 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

A CTV CR.32bis, a Nationalist Me109, and a KL He111 are all rebuilt. Seeing no targets of opportunity and no chance to retake the initiative, the Rebels shuffle their lines and await renewed Republican attack.

Loyalist Player Turn

An I-15 is rebuilt. Some supply is brought up, but not enough for a cross-river assault. An air raid targets Sevilla this time. A KL Me109 aborts an I-16 but a Nationalist Sm-79 is killed of the ground.

Jun II 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

The Nationalist Sm-79 is rebuilt. The Rebels have suspended offensive air operations, preferring to husband their aircraft for DAS.

Many Loyalist units near Huelva and between that city and Sevilla are out-of-supply following their failure to capture the town. Continued Insurgent fears about losing artillery limit counterattack possibilities, but a small scale attack (no attack supply burned, not that the Rebels have any shortage of attack supply) is made on the IV X (U-2) just west of Sevilla (hex 3225). The brigade gives a surprisingly good account of itself before being overwhelmed (3:1 -1 = EX). The Rebels decline to pursue, chosing to remain in what they hope are safe positions south of the river.

Loyalist Player Turn

An I-16 is rebuilt. A large air battle erupts as the Loyalists attempt a direct assault on Cordoba. An I-16 aborts a CVT CR.32bis and 3 Republican fighters manage to bypass the Insurgent’s fighter screen. A CVT SM-79 is returned by an I-15 but manages to abort the fighters, while another I-15 kills a Nationalist SM-79. Both sides manage to get through some close support. The attack plan had relied on keeping Rebel ground attack aircraft away from the battlefield and the result is a fiasco (2:1 -1 = AH).

At Huelva, odds and ends are scraped up for another attack without attack supply on the 39 lll. This time, the Loyalist forces are larger the in the May attack, and manage to carry the day (3:1 0 = DR) (Defenders eliminated due to all adjacent land hexes being enemy occupied.)

May 1939

May I 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

Then second Nationalist CR.32 is rebuilt. Franco orders all ground units in Andulasia to withdraw behind the Guadalquivir River, excpet for the units at Cordoba and the 39 lll at Huelva. Most air units in Castila la Viega amd Leon are also transferred to the south.

Loyalist Player Turn

An I-15 is rebuilt. More supply is brought up. Northwest of Cordaba, an attack is directed against the 3 Est XXX (hex 3220) which has not yet made it to the south bank of the river. The Insurgents make a strong effort in the air to get close support to protect the XXX till it can withdraw. An escorting KL Me109E aborts an I-16 flying CAP. The heavy DAS causes the attack to go in at poor odds, but the Republican press on in the face of air attacks (2:1 -1 = HX). Further west, the Loyalist forces show less ardor. An attempt to breach the river line just east of Sevilla (hex 3123) is beaten back by the reinforced 14 XX (3:1 -1 = AR). At Huelva, the 39 lll and Civil guard are taken somewhat by suprise. The attacker are out of supply, so the Insurgents there were not expecting an attack and didn’t call for air support. This allowed the Loyalists to get uncontested GS thru to the battlefield. Also, the weak attacking units included enough tanks to get miminal AECA. However, the lack of supply caused the
Republicans to break and abandon the battlefield (3:2 +1 = AR).

May II 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

A Nationalist CR.32 is rebuilt. An air raid on the airbase at Merida has only very limited success. A Nationalist Me109 is aborted by an I-16 and a Nationalist He111 is killed by an I-15, though return fire from the bombers does manage to abort the I-15. No hits are achieved on the airfield.

Many Loyalist units near Huelva and between that city and Sevilla are out-of-supply following their failure to capture the town. Continued Insurgent fears about losing artillery limit counterattack possibilities, but a small scale attack (no attack supply burned, not that the Rebels have any shortage of attack supply) is made on the IV X (U-2) just west of Sevilla (hex 3225). The brigade gives a surprisingly good account of itself before being overwhelmed (3:1 -1 = EX). The Rebels decline to pursue, chosing to remain in what they hope are safe positions south of the river.

Loyalist Player Turn

An I-16 is rebuilt. In another air raid on Cordoba, an I-15 kills an intercepting CVT CR.32bis, and 2 Insurgent bombers are destroyed on the ground. The Loyalists, having already expended all available attack supply, are in no position to launch any out-of-supply attacks either.

April 1939

Apr I 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

The weather is now clear everywhere in Spain. A Nationalist Ro.37 is rebuilt. The Insurgents grimly await further attacks.

Loyalist Player Turn

The lack of supply only allows 1 attack (hex 3022). Another big air battle takes place. Though both sides get closse support aircraft thru to the battlefield, the Loyalist take top honors in the air as 2 I-I6’s kill 2 Nationalist CR.32’s. On the ground, the poor terrain does not prevent the attackers from carrying the day (3:1 -2 = DR).

Apr II 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

One of the Nationalist CR.32’s is rebuilt. On an ensuring raid on a forward Republican airbase (hex 3117), the CR.32 kills and I-152. AA fire aborts a Mxd A unit. A large air raid is also launched on Madrid, but both the AA fire and bombing is ineffective.

Loyalist Player Turn

The I-152 is rebuilt. The Republicans launch a big air raid of their own on Cordoba. Strong AA fire turns back 60% of the bombers, but one still eliminates a CR.32 on the ground. The arrival at the front of some more attack supply allows a couple of attacks.

Along the rail line (hex 3122), neither side has any close air support, as all the Republican bombers had flown in the raid on Cordoba, while the Insurgent bombers were either out of range or scared off by heavy Loyalist CAP over the battlefield. The 4 Urg XXX gives up ground grudgingly (3:1 -1 = DR). To the west, the Loyalists continue to push toward Huelva, blasting the 58 XX (hex 2926) despite the Insurgents getting some DAS due to the heavy committment of the Republican air to the east (4:1 -1 = EX).

March 1939

Mar I 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

The weather, while still wintery in Zone D, clears in Zone E. A Nationalist SM-79 is rebuilt. Ground forces await the inevitable Republican spring offensive. With the shortage of artillery still a major problem, there seems to be no chance to regain the initiative.

Loyalist Player Turn

The French border is re-opened. With the clear weather in the south, 2 attacks in to northern Andulasia are launched. An attack on the 34 XX (hex 2924) leads to a big air battle in which an I-15 manages to aborts a Mxd A unit, but both sides get some air support thru. The air units seem to cancel each other out and have little overall effect on the outcome, as the Republicans destroy the 34 XX and take the battlefield at considerable cost (4:1 -1 = EX). Further to the east (hex 3020) GS helps the Loyalists overcome the 50 & FA XX’s fortified position, though losses are still heavy (6:1 -2 = EX).

Mar II 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

Weather in the south remains clear and a warming trend is seen in the north (Zone D now mud). A Nationalist He111B is rebuilt. With the Republican forces obviously deployed to make their major effort in the south, 2 XX’s and the 2 LE III are pulled out of line along the Tajo and begin heading north to the ports in Leon to be shipped to Andulasia. Their movement is slowed by damage done to the rail lines by partisans, who have gradually destroyed a great deal of track.

Loyalist Player Turn

Three separate attacks are launched. NE of Cordoba (hex 3219) DAS help the 57 XX hold on (3:1 -1 = AS) despite the fact the Republicans also had close air support and that the Nationalist XX had only a weak Art III supporting it. Directly on the rail line from Extremadura (hex 3021), only the Republicans get air support, allowing them to root out the 4 XXX from its fortified position (4:1 -2 = HX). To the west, Loyalist GS is also important in pushing the Rebel 58 XX out of its postion in rugged terrain (6:1 -2 = DR). Unfortunately, these attacks blow almost all the attack supply avialable.

February 1939

Feb I 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

No improvement in the weather; in fact it worsens somewhat as the Med is again rough. An air raid on Madrid finally scores a hit, as a SB-2 is destroyed on the ground.

Loyalist Player Turn

The SB-2 is rebuilt. Still waiting for the weather to break.

Feb II 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

The Med clears, and the Atlantic finally settles from stormy to rough, but the weather over land remains bad. Renewed air attacks on Madrid are a disaster, as 3 Nationalist air units (a CR.32, a He111B, and a SM-79) are aborted by AA fire.

Loyalist Player Turn

The G.E.23 is rebuilt. Ground forces are still waiting for improved weather.

January 1939

Jan I 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

The Med clears up but otherwise poor weather continues. A Nationalist Mxd A unit is rebuilt. Carceres is abandoned except for its intrinsic garrison. Another air raid on Madrid only results in a KL He111 being aborted by AA fire.

Loyalist Player Turn

An I-15 is rebuilt. Caceres is overrun. While some attack supply has now arrived at the front, it is decided to save it for spring, when better weather is expected.

Jan II 39

Insurgent Player Turn.

No change in the weather. The KL He111 is rebuilt. The pullback in Extremadura continues, with all units now north of the Tajo.

Loyalist Player Turn

An A-101 is rebuilt. The wait for good weather continues.

December 1938

Dec I 38

Insurgent Player Turn.

The Insurgents get a breather as the weather across Spain worsens (Winter in Zone D, Mud in Zone E, Storms in the Atlantic, and Rough in the Med.). The Nationalist CR.32 is rebuilt. With the return of mud in the south, the withdrawing Rebels pause in a delaying postion in rugged terrain south of Carceres. Another air raid targets Madrid; no hits are scored by the bombers but in air combat a KL Me109D is killed by an I-16 while a Nationalist Me109B/D aborts a G.E.23 which attempted to bypass the escorts.

Loyalist Player Turn

An I-16 is rebuilt. Three Sec X’s are upgraded to the 2A XX. In an air raid on Cordoba, AA fire aborts a SB-2. No attacks are attempted due to a lack of attack supply at the front.

Dec II 38

Insurgent Player Turn.

Bad weather continues. The KL Me109D and a Nationalist Mxd A air unit are rebuilt. Units in Extremadura resume their withdrawl, demolishing rail lines and airbases as they pull out.

Loyalist Player Turn

The SB-2 is rebuilt. With the bad weather and continued supply shortage, no attacks are launched.

November 1938

Nov I 38

Insurgent Player Turn.

The rainy weather in the north expands into southern Spain (Mud in both weather Zones). The Rebels hope the bad weather will hold off further Loyalist attacks until a new defence line can be patched together. One immediate effect of the mud is that the Loyalists now have some bad supply problems. Had Merida not fallen, supply could have really become a disaster for the Republic. As it is, they really need to capture the rail line from Merida to Badajoz to resolve their supply issues.

A Ju52 is rebuilt. In an Insurgents raid on a Loyalist airfield (hex 2818), a Me109D kills an I-16, A Nationalist CR.32 aborts an I-15. All the bombers get thru, and though they only get 1 hit on the airfield which now has no aircraft present, the operation is a big success for the Insurgents.

Loyalist Player Turn

An attack on the FA XX and some supporting non-divisionals (hex 2421) brings on another big air battle as both sides again attempt to get in close support aircraft. Once again, neither side’s fighers are able to keep enemy ground attack planes from reaching the battlefield, though the Loyalists do make the Insurgents pay a price as an I-15 kills a Do17E and an I-16 aborts a CTV SM-79. Desperate to open the supply lines, and despite the poor weather, the Loyalist are able to destroy the Rebel force at considerable cost (4:1 -3 = EX).

Nov II 38

Insurgent Player Turn

Weather clears over southern Spain to the dismay of the Rebel leadership. The CTV SM-79 and the Nationalist Do17E are rebuilt. A withdraw to the next river line in Extremadura, the Tajo, is begun. With all the Loyalist fighers currently based in Extremadura, the Insurgent launch a big raid against Madrid with all their bombers and attack planes. Despite the lack of interceptors and ineffective AA fire, the raid fails to score a single hit.

Loyalist Player Turn

An I-16 is rebuilt. It is decided to change the direction of attacks in Extremadura and strike south into Andulasia instead of heading north. The withdrawing Rebels are followed, but by second class troops as the best units turn south. In an air raid on Cordova, an R-Z eliminates a Nationalist CR.32 which had chosen to remain at base and depend on flak to protect it.

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