Sunday, January 29, 2023

Anarchist, Socialist, Republican, and Catalan flags and banners of the Spanish Civil War:

Made a new flags and banner sheet for the game I'm currently setting up. I uploaded it to the Free Downloads page, but figured I should post it here too:

Friday, December 30, 2022

AAR - Siege of Ensenada Part 3 - The Conclusion

I spent the last few days of January 2022 playing a solo game of an alternative history scenario in which the PLM attacks Ensenada in early April of 1911. In the first days of February, I came back to the basement to finish off the game. I picked up where I left off, at the start of Round 12. 

Simón Berthold's army of peasants, workers, Indigenous, and foreign volunteers had already conquered the northern half of the city, and surrounded the governor - colonel in the town's resturaunt. 

Pacheco's group held the plaza and were busy escorting their prisoners away from the fighting.

Ahead of them, Pacheco himself and some advanced members of his party, including dynamiters, followed the cavalry to the last federal strongholds in the south of the town.

On the other side of the tavern, Baeza's group advanced too. Some entered and occupied the tavern.

Further south, the bulk of Baeza's group reached the town house, and thirteen entered through the back door. 

Mosby's IWW volunteers watched on.

In occupying the town house, the PLM officially achieved its 2nd objective. They captured many supplies which would be useful to the cause.

They also captured the mayor and other politicians inside, and a Rural officer serving as their bodygaurd. 

Not far to the east, Mosby's dynamiters crept in range of the green house, from where Rurales had been firing at them.

Behind a ridge further south, Caule and Mosby connected and formed a firing line. They traded notes and considered their next move. From their isolated positions, neither group knew that Emilio Guerrero's cavalry had already smashed their way into town and that the battle was all but over.

Thus, when the ranged phase began, Mosby's group tossed two sticks of dynamite at the green house. One fell short, but the other landed on the roof, starting a fire.

Vega's headquarters section pinned down in the restaurant suffered another disastrous roll. Landing a 1 on a D6, the governor cowered among the tables in the restaurant for yet another turn. On the streets outside, Guerrero's riders and the brave Rurales lined up for another blood letting.

The Rurales, however, rolled to indicate that they would move to cover and fire from there. Thus, they left the open road by the bay and took up firing positions behind the barricade, around the corner of the building, and, the bravest of them, from behind a fruit cart just steps away from their enemy.

Eight Rurales then fired off their rifles at the anarchists in the open. They only landed two hits, but one of these was the hero Guerrero himself. The cavalry only narrowly avoided routing.

The remaining riders, the bulk of the force, surrounded the restaurant. Vega was finally ready to surrender, but the machine-gun crew inside, who's weapon had been pointing east instead of west the whole time, refused. They attempted to turn their gun around, but this would take a full turn. But their time was up. The PLM cavalry fired through the windows into the restaurant, killing all six soldiers inside, including the governor.

This was a great victory for the rebels, except that with Vega dead there was no way to call off the Rurales held up in the southern buildings, the militia on the southern hill or, worst of all, the gunboat in the bay! Still, the remaining pro-government forces lost 1 morale point for the remainder of the game. The Rebel cavalry continued to attack the Rurales in cover on the street heading south out of town, killing the officer crouched behind the fruit cart.

Peering over the eastern ridge, Caule and Mosby could see the cavalry riders now celebrating in the center of the town.

So could Berthold, who had spent the day on the north-western-most hill on the table observing the movements and sending orders through his messengers on horseback. With the victory near at hand, Berthold and his staff rode down the hill and into the center of town.

During the regroupment phase of round 12, Berthold joined the celebration in the Plaza of Ensenada, where the anarchists under Pacheco raised the red flag of the PLM outside of the town hall.

The battle, however, was still not finished. 

I returned to the basement a few days later to try and finish off the game. Most of Ensenada was already in the PLM's hands. The men Baeza left to guard the northern hill, or those who had survived the bombardment from the gunboat Guerrero and were now no longer pinned, left the position and headed into town. Six captured federal soldiers marched under escort north out of town and behind the rebels lines.

At the barricade across the road south out of town, the last mobile group of Rurales took cover. The rest were holed up in buildings nearby, fending off the advancing waves of rebels.

The survivors of the pro-government militia held the outpost on the southern hill, having chased off a group of rebels in the previous rounds.

The green house, where four Rurales where holed up and firing effectively at Jack Mosby’s group of IWW unionists from the US, burnt down. Two of the officers died in the fire. The two survivors ran out the door, headed for the safety of the next house. But they ran into the overwatch of the PLM cavalry. During the overwatch phase, the horsemen shot the Rurales down.

Mosby and Caule’s groups, who met up in the East and combined forces in the previous rounds, began their full charge into town. 

Six Rurales defending two nearby buildings had overwatch on the area. With the defenders’ morale reduced by 1 point across the board following Vega’s death, however, they only landed one shot. 

On the western edge of town, the Rurales at the southern barricade fired at the enemy cavalry near the restaurant, killing three riders. 

During the regroupment phase, the other cavalry riders near the restaurant dismounted and took cover. 

The Rurales sent runners to the southern hill and to the nearby houses, to pass on the word of Vega’s death and the loss of the town’s center.

Round 14 began with the highest-ranking remaining Rurales officer, who had spent most of the game on the third floor of the white house next to the southern hill, receiving the news from the runner. The new battlefield situation required—by my solo rules mechanism—a roll of the dice to determine the new battle strategy. The D6 landed on 6, which corresponded to the most aggressive option, the “Offensive defense” strategy. 

The officer elected to stay put with his squad in the white building, and he sent orders for the remaining Rurales company and the militia to charge back into town. He was able to pass the order out the window to the militia on the hill, and sent the Rurales rider back to his company with the order to counterattack. 

Meanwhile, the survivors of Caule's group and Mosby and the section of the IWW group with him reached the other side of the white house.

The pro-government militia passed their bravery test and charged down the hill. They were able to surround the 11 isolated men from Caule and Mosby’s group.

The Rurales also advanced rapidly north up the road. They reached the corner near the restaurant where Vega had been killed.

On the other side of the resturaunt, the rebels formed a thick defensive column to meet the charging Rurales. 

Among the large rebel column were three miners ready to toss their dynamite sticks.

In the far North of the table, the rebels finished escorting the six captive soldiers off the table, and turned to return to their group. 

Next came the Ranged Attack phase. With Vega dead, there was no way to call off the gunboat, which had the northern hill and nearby buildings targeted. The shells crashed down on the hill, recently vacated by the last guards there, and also into the nearby houses. Two unoccupied buildings caught on fire from the explosions. 

One of the PLM’s miners lit his stick of dynamite and tossed it at the Rurales charging on horseback. His aim was true, with the explosion detonating in the center of the advancing officers.

 The blast killed five officers and pinned another. The remainder failed their morale test and routed, fleeing south out of town.

Part of Mosby's section took cover behind the smoking ruins of the green house. They had been exchanging fire with three Rurales in the one-story white house behind the green house.

These IWW volunteers fired on the white house and hit it with dynamite.

 With no escape possible, the three officers inside decided to surrender. The rebels took them captive and began marching them away from the frontline. 

Neither the surrendering officers nor the bulk of the PLM forces could see that only a few blocks away, the pro-government militia had surrounded Caule and his group's remnants and Mosby and his staff. The final remaining Rurales commander looked down from the third-floor window as Mosby, Caule, and the other nine rebels below agreed to surrender to the militia.

With things seemingly looking up, during the regroupment phase the Rurales leader sent a runner out the back door to learn what was going on back toward the center of town.

The runner reached the corner of the main street by the bay. Before him, he saw the carnage of his compatriots, and learns that only one mounted Rurales officer survived.

Next came Round 15. The PLM army under Berthold, able to taste victory, mounted a final charge toward the southern neighborhood. They quickly swept up the Rurales rider and runner on the western edge of the table.

On the eastern side of the southern neighborhood, the rebels reached the white house where the militia and Rurales were moving to arrest Mosby, Caule, and gang. Nearly 30 rebels, not including the captives, drew their guns on the 20 remaining militia and officers by the white house and the southern hill. The PLM militants demanded the government forces surrender, and by a roll of the dice influenced by their already-diminished morale, they did. Thus, further bloodshed was avoided and Ensenada was completely in the hands of the Revolution.

The victorious anarchists headed back toward the plaza to celebrate.

During the course of the battle, they had kill all but 45 of the 160 pro-government defenders. 14 Rurales, 13 federal soldiers, and 12 militia members, and a few local politicians had surrendered to the rebels.  A few Rurales managed to flee to the South.

During the battle, between the dynamite slinging miners and the gunship Guerrero firing from the harbor, four buildings burnt down. Most of the town remained relatively damage free.

The rebels had also captured a machine gun from the restaurant where the governor Vega fell.

The 93 surviving PLM rebels assembled for a grand parade down the main street of Ensenada and through its plaza. 

The towns citizens came out of hiding to watch the rebels pass by. With Upper Baja California in the hands of the PLM, the anarchists under the red banner would struggle on, attempting to carry their brand of revolution off the peninsula and into the heart of Mexico.

I very much enjoyed playing this solo game. As this was my first "Alternative history" game, I was excited to assemble what seemed like fairly matched forces and fight over a nice-looking table, and to play out a battle that I wish had occurred.  It was also the first time I used my new "water" pieces to represent the bay. However, the game turned out to be not much of a challenge. Part of this was that my strategy of drawing Vega's attention to Caule's small diversionary group in the South and away from the main thrust in the North worked well. If I played this scenario again, I would have the gunship fire every other round instead of every three rounds.

I found the single-player mechanism to work pretty well here. However, its always more fun to play with friends. After wrapping up this game, it would be a few months before I was able to bring my friends back down to the basement. When we did play again, we shifted gears away from the PLM campaign in the Mexican Revolution, and fast forwarded 25 years into the future to play out the Spanish Civil War, a much more complex and detailed campaign involving greater numbers of fighters, more factions, and a greater variety of weapons and equipment.