INSURGENT FEB I 1938
The cold spell was broken by an unseasonable intrusion of warm air. Heavy rainstorms turned all of Spain into a quagmire and caused rivers in the north to flood.
The Nationalists halted their Ebro offensive in the face of atrocious ground conditions. All other fronts also remained quiet.
The rains did nothing to stop air activities. Nationalist fighters retaliated for the attack on the Barbastro airfield by launching a similar raid against a Republican field in the Alcubierre hills (13:3031), where they were met be an armada of subnosed Ratas. In a mother-of-a-dogfight, the largest of the war so far, a number of Italian Fiats were lost (1 kill), but the older Ratas fared even worse (3 aborts). Poor visibility rendered the subsequent airfield strafing unsuccessful.
Day and night bombing raids on Barcelona continued. Anti-aircraft fire brought down several He-111s, and no significant damage was done on the ground. A major raid by attack bombers on Valencia’s airfield met with accurate anti-aircraft fire that downed a number of the older Nationalist planes. Here, too, no significant damage was done on the ground.
LOYALIST FEB I 1938
The lull in the fighting allowed the Loyalists to beef of their defenses even further. Engineers and civil labor worked hard to improve defenses.
SB-2 light bombers attempted another attack on Madrid’s industry, but were waylaid by Me-109s as they took off from Valencia (patrol attack) and lost some of their number.
A deep sense of frustration is becoming apparent among the Insurgents. Too many of the strongest attacks they can ever hope to mount have failed to inflict even the slightest loss (five out of six, with an average chance of success close to 50%) and an inordinate share of them has not even gained ground (two out of these six). To add insult to injury, the weather has served up mud in mid-winter at the crucial Ebro front (one chance in six). The only return on the prolific expenditure of precious attack supply has been a gain of a few hexes and, more importantly, a destruction of the Loyalist entrenchments between the Ebro and the mountains of southern Aragon. But the opportunity of capitalizing on this is slipping away with the turn of the weather: Spring inevitably will give the Loyalists enough time to dig in again. For the game, though, this chain of events is likely to be all for the good: Insurgent success in all their big attacks would have made the Loyalist position hopeless, but now the issue whether capitulation can be avoided before the game ends remains still very much in doubt.
At this stage of the game, two optional rules prove to affect play balance quite strongly. Fortunately, they work in opposite directions and so tend to balance one another quite well. The first is the entrenchment rule. With a profusion of infantry divisions, both sides can dig just about everywhere, but only the Loyalists benefit because only they are being attacked. The other rule is the (unmodified) percentile roll we are using for ground combat. (That is, if, say, the odds are 3.72:1 and the percentile roll is 72 or below, combat is resolved on the 4:1 column.) Here, only the Insurgents reap the benefit because they alone are the attackers. With entrenchments almost everywhere, the Nationalist must contend with their additional -1 modifier in most but not all attacks. But the percentile roll often but not always lets an attack go in one column higher on the CRT. Since a -1 die roll modifier and a +1 column shift compensate one another exactly at the typical attack odds, the combined effect is quite small. However, players should be aware that using only one of the two rules, or using entrenchments but normalizing the percentile roll to negate the attacker’s advantage, will seriously alter play balance in the late stages of the game.
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