Thursday, 11 November 2021

SCW - End of the Campaign

After the outcomes of the two battles of Campaign Turn 4, it was pretty obvious that both sides had suffered some important losses and although both possessed some offensive capability, it was pretty limited to be honest. With this in mind both Jon and Norm chose a defensive stances and so as both sides dug-in, the campaign came a natural conclusion.

An overview at the end of Campaign Turn 4. The Republicans are hemmed in in C1 but have some partially prepared defensive positions already, as well as the town to fall back into if required. The Nationalists have cornered the Republicans and could choose to attack, but with losses already suffered and a lack of heavy weapons, to do so would most likely only lead to a Pyrrhic victory.

Post Campaign Thoughts
The whole campaign has been great fun to run and has thrown up many challenging scenarios for me to play out on the table. So a wholehearted 'Thankyou!' to both Jon and Norm for agreeing to take part and to be guinea pigs for this campaign. With the dust having settled and having some time to digest how things went, I thought I'd jot down some points on what I took from running this campaign. So in no particular order:

  • Use the KISS principle. This makes it a lot easier to run from my point of view and keeps things to a manageable size, but even so, it is a lot of work, more so than I'd imagined to be honest. You don't want it to become a chore, so simplicity makes it easy to keep things moving along. 
  • If you want a more detailed approach, then I thing a board game would be the way to go, as the mechanics are already laid out for you and you just have to run the thing, with engagements transferring to the table top as required. I can see the value in doing it this way but I prefer the approach I took, for better or for worse.
  • Have counters ready at the start so it is easy for all involved to see what it happening at a glance. Mea culpa and I didn't do this at the start and it made it hard for me to keep track of things and I'm sure even harder for Jon and Norm. Lesson learnt.
  • Use a ruleset that you know very, very well as believe you me, it makes things a lot easier in campaign terms and of course when fighting things out on the table top.
  • Ideally use a ruleset that both players know. Norm was already au fait with BKCII but Jon was a complete Newbie, so at times things made much more sense to Norm than to Jon, but Jon played catch up very well. Did this hamper Jon? I don't think so but it would have been easier for him I think if he had known the rules and nuances contained therein.
  • For future campaigns I think I will revert to my Warplan 5/5 boards as everything is already done in terms of terrain etc. I can also then give both players relevant info on what terrain they may encounter in each square, which will probably aid decision making. Only time will tell though.
  • Keep the forces involved fairly small. In this Campaign each side had a Brigades worth of troops with some Brigade level assets too. This helps everyone keep track of what's going on, but also, if you have too many troops, then it can be hard to reach a conclusion in a reasonable amount of time. I think 5 Campaign Turns is probably about right to maintain momentum and interest.
  • Keep the objectives simple. Enough said!
  • A magnetic board with magnetic counters would have been a God sent as I could have left the campaign map set up somewhere out of the way and come back to it as and when necessary, without having to set everything up again and double check previous e-mails etc.
  • The Combined Arms approach was fun but also challenging compared to the simple 'Black Powder' period campaign I ran before. Off table artillery, air strikes, air recce etc all had to be figured in in a simple way but one that felt right. I think this worked and certainly my KISS approach combined with being completely comfortable with BKCII facilitated this.
  • For this campaign I simply gave both side broadly equal forces, with slight differences in air, artillery and armour. Moving forward now knowing that broadly speaking the campaign 'system' (if I can call it that) works, then I will most likely go for some asymmetry between the forces. but off set this with subtle differences in objectives etc.
  • I think the SCW, or AVBCW and early WWII work best for a simple and manageable campaign. Going later WWII would add in too much complication IMHO, but it is something I might consider in the future, first with some solo campaigns just to see if things do indeed work or fall down at the first hurdle.
  • Last but by no means least, have fun and enjoy it! Don't let it become a burden and by KISS, I think this helps no end.

So there we have it. I certainly had a lot of fun and the campaign flew by and I certainly enjoyed the 'non-standard' scenarios that it through up. Hopefully there will be more like this in the future, whether it be the SCW or the ACW. Who knows?

So until next time stay safe and keep healthy!


  1. I’m sure both guys enjoyed the experience and were grateful for your efforts. I know I enjoyed following along!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed our little campaign:).

  2. Thanks Steve for all the hard work that went into running the campaign and the subsequent write-ups. I hope that some of the situations that Jon and myself created gave you some good on-table time.

    It is a while since I have used BKC, but I would say that whatever familiarity I had, did not help me. BKC is one of those systems that pushes the player up a command level. So you can direct and influence, but the chaotic nature of command activation means that nothing is certain for the player and the grip of control is lost, certainly down at the platoon / company level.

    Because of that, I divorced myself of the actual game play, instead just looking at the strategic situation and making some broad brushstroke decisions.

    The Diary and memoirs of Major General Norm - My briefing from headquarters advised that Strong Nationalist forces were approaching and that I was to defend the town, with the promise of reinforcements to aid me.

    Initially, I was reliant on the British Battalion and aided by rugged terrain that favoured the defence. In particular, a long ridge and a heavily wooded sector. The Troops were spread very thinly and their task was to gather information about enemy strength and to fall back rather than take unnecessary casualties.

    The divisional focus was on defending the town, the river above the town was of secondary concern and very lightly defended by cavalry and armoured cars, which could report on enemy movement and fall back.

    It was essential that the enemy should be slowed enough for Dimitrov and Guardia Asalto Battalions to get into the area and prepare defences.

    British Battalion did an outstanding job in this regard, though sadly at greater cost to them than was ever intended. Their blocking position at the central woods cost them dearly as the Nationalists were drawn towards them at the expense of keeping greater strength in the south, on the main axis into the town.

    Dimitrov Battalion were ordered to dig in at the town, but seeing an opportunity to strike at the weakened southern flank, Dimitrov Battalion was thrown into a spoiling attack towards the south, their positions at the town being replaced by the newly arrived Guardia Asalto.

    It was anticipated that our spoiling attack would unhinge the enemy, but that ultimately, Dimitrov would be forced to retire back onto the town. this was within our intentions as we were not strong enough to switch over to an offensive and besides having two battalions then defending the town would severely put the Nationalists to the test.

    The spoiling attack went better than expected, but its scope, as in all decisions up to this points was not to suffer more casualties than the enemy. In that regard the spoiling attack was a complete success. Where we did fail was further north, because British Battalion were overwhelmed and took losses that were deeply concerning.

    Our situation changed to one of total defence of the town. Guardia Asalto had been digging in at the town and the decision was made that Dimitrov would guard the northern flank, supported by all air and artillery assets that we could get. To the south of the town, we put our armour and they would deal with the thinly armoured Panzer 1’s that seemed to form the bulk of the Nationalist armoured forces.

    We were fully braced for the attack and knew our losses would be heavy, but we were confident that the town would not fall. As the hours ticked by, the attack did not come and our air reconnaissance suggested that the enemy had gone over to the defence - we could breathe a sigh of relief.

    My report back to headquarters was brief, highlighting just the three elements of the campaign that had mattered. 1. We fell back slowly and gained time to reinforce the town. 2. our spoiling attack had a significant outcome. 3. Our defence of the town was sufficient to deter an enemy attack.

    Who know’s what tomorrow will bring, but tonight, many a weary soldier will be glad that the fighting has paused.

    1. The MG's diary is brilliant Norm and sums things up in an eloquent style!

    2. Nice propaganda piece, Norm! At your court-martial, some will likely claim you misread the situation.

  3. Thank YOU, Steve, for coordinating and executing this very interesting campaign. Your post-campaign thoughts sum it all up nicely. I enjoyed the plotting and planning aspects a lot. Not always happy with the execution but, hey, c'est la guerre.

    The notion of using a boardgame to facilitate the campaign makes sense to me. It also lifts some the burden and effort off of your shoulders. I thought the combined arms approach present in modern warfare offered greater possibilities for planning. This thinking in '3D' added greatly to the enjoyment of the campaign. The SCW dovetailed well into the narrative of the campaigning challenges you presented. Another SCW campaign would be fun.

    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Jon and glad you enjoyed the planning aspects of the campaign. As the 'umpire' a lot of the fun is seeing both sides plans develop as the campaign progresses, especially when things happen that you do not expect. The Fog of War aspect is good to and trying to maintain that for as long as possible.

      I need to examine the idea of a boardgame as a possibility and most certainly I will be looking at the Warplan 5/5 maps again.

  4. A nice succinct summary Steve.
    A magnetic board & counters would be a good plan, as is the thought to use board games. Professional maps and game rules/mechanics can be easily utilised to get the forces to the battlefield, where the action transfers onto the tabletop.
    I can understand why both sides felt the need in Turn 5 to “dig in and have a breather”. I suspect the final campaign map position might be a touch “artificial” as the Republicans start to heavily fortify the town in the C1 corner of the map. In the “real world” would the Nationalists simply not chose to bypass the town? In any event, lots of Republican troops defending the town would surely be a juicy target for the Nationalist air forces and artillery.
    Norm - thanks for sharing your campaign diary. The spoiler attack really saved the day for the Republicans (in football terms pulling the result back from a likely loss to a hard-fought draw). I have to agree with Jonathan though, you would be held to account for your actions. In Spain that generally didn’t bode well. On the positive side you should count yourself lucky that you weren’t assisted by the various militia groups (Tr*tskyists, anarchists, trade-unionists etc). In comparison, Franco was much more successful in welding together his disparate forces.
    Jonathan - well done on your efforts. From your perspective I’d be tempted to think of the campaign as a winning draw. Norm’s Republicans are stuck inside the town at C1 and, while you keep them penned there, you can call in the airforces and artillery. The German Condor Legion would surely be willing to help.
    Well done y’all. The Spanish Civil War was much less a professional war than what was to follow only a few years later. Colourful uniforms and a wide variety of troops - what’s not to like?


    1. Thanks for your thoughts Geoff. As this was a limited trial campaign, the ending could be viewed as artificial, but the objective for both sides was to keep/take the town in C1. As the campaign was broadly inspired by Guadalajara, then the Republicans would have brought up more troops and counter-attacked, as they did in real life, but that would have lengthened things considerably.

    2. Thank you, Geoff! We see the situation similarly. In the end game situation with C1 isolated, Steve said the Nationalists could claim a partial victory ('winning draw' in your terms) without having to face the possible bloodshed of attacking the fortified town. That is the position I chose although I did consider prolonging the campaign by waging air and artillery attacks on the town. The Republicans were bottled up in C1 with no place to seek refuge. Moving the campaign map one or two grids to the west may have allowed a complete Nationalist encirclement of the town.

      In hindsight (and in my opinion), the Nationalists were dealt a heavy task to take C1. The Nationalists were artillery and armor inferior, equal in infantry, and the Republicans held all of the terrain advantages.

      C1, protected by a river to the south, mountains to the north, and END OF THE WORLD to the west were in an almost unassailable position from the beginning. My suggestion

    3. Very valid points there Jon. Nationalist armour was rubbish, mechanically poor and lightly armoured and armed. You can see why they gave rewards for capturing T-26 tanks and even up arming Pz I's with 20mm cannon.

  5. It looked like a fun campaign you organise for Norm and Jon Steve. Norms Dairy/memoirs read a bit like Montgomery justifying his position in Normandy June/July 1944, drawing the Germans onto the Commonwealth forces to allow the Americans to break out in the south (not that I am saying I dont believe him - its just he mentions it A LOT in his autobiography!)

    1. It was fun Keith:). Norm's diary is a nice touch and re: Monty, the Victors write the history;).