The war has been raging for two years. Loyalists control has been reduced to the city of Valencia and a small triangle in Cataluna, about 5 percent of Spain’s territory. Nevertheless, there is stalemate with no end in sight.
INSURGENT JUL II 1938
Finally, Lerida has fallen! The hapless and hopeless defenders were overwhelmed by a concentric attack. However, they fulfilled their mission of buying another two weeks of time for the defense of the Segre position.
Farther north, the Nationalists followed up on the Loyalist retreat and closed to the new defense line. No attacks were launched here.
The main action this time was at the coast. Here, the Insurgents attacked along the coast road with support from the Regia Marina, their own Navy, and fighter bombers. Against stiff resistance the Nationalists reached the halfway point between Tortosa and Reus, but once again the Loyalists managed to retreat without taking losses. Dogfights in the air, where Me-109s and Italian Fiats tried to challenge the massive Loyalist air support, saw some CR-32bs and Ratas go down in flames.
The ring around Valencia was tightened, but no attacks on the city were attempted.
Many of the weaker infantry divisions were pulled out of the line. With so short a frontage, there is no longer any use for them.
A massive raid on Valencia’s port caused minor damage (1 hit) and the Barcelona red-eye (SM-81 night bombers) destroyed some industrial facilities.
LOYALIST JUL II 1938
Sitting pretty, the Loyalists did no more than make a few adjustments to their now exceedingly strong front and to pull three Guardia de Asalto brigades out of the line in preparation for assembly of an elite divsion. Even General Miaja has become more sanguine, has even been reported to smile while looking at the situation maps.
The Loyalists’ phenomenal luck still continues: another major attack with close to 50% chance of inflicting losses failed to do so, and Insurgent bombing results again well below statistical expectation, French border remained open, guerrilleros succeeded, no one in Valencia surrendered. Yes, Lerida has fallen, but to a 7:1 attack with result guaranteed, and the loss of the coastal hex near Tortosa will not have serious consequences.
Our game is turning stale. The Loyalists in Cataluna now hold a front with only 3 non-mountain hexes, all entrenched, none attackable from more than 2 adjacent hexes of which one or both are cross-river. With 20 to 23CF per hex, the strongest possible Insurgent attacks can achieve 3:1 odds only with lucky percentile rolls. Against the four mountain hexes of the front the odds are even worse. Two back-up lines with only slightly lesser natural obstacles are by now largely fortified or entrenched. There is no room for maneuver, no opportunity for finesse. All the Insurgents can do is keep attacking despite poor odds and hope the occasional HX or EX results will cause more casualties than the Loyalists can replace, and so wear them down eventually. With almost 200 Inf and about 20 Art replacement points accrued, the Insurgents need not fear even AH results and so can risk poor odds. The Loyalists have no choices either: Attacks are out of question as they would consume precious supplies and possibly entail losses. Moreover, an advance upon success of an attack would only be into a more exposed position and invite losses. Even to follow up on Insurgent AH or AR results, the Loyalists would have to stick their neck out, possibly into a noose.
Thanks to their unbelievable luck in avoiding losses to this point, the Loyalists now have enough reserves to make up for the losses in the first three exchange results, reinforcements and replacement will be coming in at a slow but steady pace, and and the end of good weather approaches and will make Insurgent attacks impossible. How the game will go on now depends exclusively on the Insurgent die rolls in their major attacks.
What a shame that this memorable match has to degenerate into a mindless die-rolling contest as it approaches its end. This is not necessarily a critique of the design, however. With less lopsided die rolls than we have seen, the Loyalists are quite unlikely to have much strength left if they ever are reduced to this last patch of Catalan territory. Yet, our experience seems to reveal a viable and practically unbeatable Loyalist strategy to stave off capitulation when things go awry, and so avoid a substantial or decisive Insurgent victory: fortify this line in Cataluna with improved forts, stack ample ASPs at Barcelona (for conversion to GSPs when the French border is closed), see to it that the strongest units retain a path of retreat into the stronghold, and just let the rest of Spain go to hell in a handbasket as slowly as possible.
Last time I commented on some strange facets of the port rules as interpreted by our guru. Meanwhile John Astell was so kind to send me explanations. The guru rulings indeed correspond to what John intended, but in any future game that will have natural harbor(s) and the “functioning” concept, there will be a special rule for the latter.