For the first time in 30 years of gaming, I finally bought a game mat. In the past, I used a bed sheet that had been dyed and painted and sheets of felt in various colors. This mat is the “Grasslands” mat from Cigar Box Battle.
To show off this new mat, I played a game of NUTS! Final Edition from Two Hour Wargames. I know that the 4th edition is newer & more streamlined, but Final Edition is what I have. Perhaps if I played more games of NUTS!, I’d break down & buy the new edition. However, I’m averaging one game of NUTS! every two years or so.
I played a Patrol Mission set in the Spanish Civil War, so I had to do some minor tweaking. NUTS!, as written covers 1944-1945. There are a few scenario books which do cover earlier periods of the war, but if you are playing any earlier period or different theater of operations, you’re probably going to tweak a few tables.
Victoria Medina was frustrated. Her squad was too big and had too many inexperienced girls who had never fired a rifle. At least she no longer had to contend with the thrill seekers who came to the front with their boyfriends for a weekend of shooting and partying and then drive home to safety. Now, nearly three months into the war, those on the front were serious and committed.
Today her unit, a “peloton” in the POUM militia, would patrol a section of the line where the forest ended and rocky farmland began.
It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.Dolores Ibarruri
If you’ve never played NUTS!, it is a squad level skirmish game. In the case of leftist militias of the Spanish Civil War, what we think of as a squad was a “peloton” of 10 to 12 individuals. These units did not have the organizational structure found in standing armies. The unit leader was elected, called the “Delegado.” Here’s the table of Victoria’s peloton:
|Victoria Medina||Delegado||5||Pistol||Hard as Nails; Resilient|
|Isabella Portela||Miliciana||4||SMG||Steely Eyes|
|Audrey Smith||Miliciana||4||BA Rifle||Hard as Nails (ammo carrier*)|
|Maria Roman||Miliciana||4||BA Rifle||Ball Player|
|Juanita Crespo||Miliciana||4||BA Rifle||Tough|
|Dolores Andrade||Miliciana||4||BA Rifle||Marksman|
|Luisa Caballero||Miliciana||3||BA Rifle||Greedy|
|Margo Rivera||Miliciana||3||BA Rifle||Slow to React|
|Julia Prieto||Miliciana||3||BA Rifle||Coward|
|Felicia del Torre||Miliciana||3||BA Rifle||Poser|
|Antonia Gonzalez||Miliciana||3||BA Rifle||Near Sighted|
The objective of the mission is for the Delegado to spend one activation in sections 1, 2 & 3. The unit starts in section 7, 8, 9 or any combination of the three sections. The Investment Level is 2 for both sides.
There are 3 PEFs in sections 2, 3 and 5.
The Nationalists won the activation roll, but it was so high, the PEFs could not activate, so they stayed in place while the milicianas moved. My strategy is to move through sections 9, 6 and 3 since they afford the most cover.
The POUM milicianas win the activation roll. They move toward the woods in section 6, but come in sight of the first PEF before they can enter the woods. The first PEF resolves into “There might be something out there.” This PEF produced no troops, but the remaining PEFs will be resolved using 3d6. The milicianas finish their move with half of the unit in the woods and the other half out in the open.
The second PEF moves and triggers an in sight test. The PEF resolves into an Enemy Defensive Position consisting of a LMG team. A Nationalist LMG team consisted of 6 members as follows:
|Cabo (Jr. NCO)||4||BA Rifle||Ball Player|
|Rifleman 1||4||BA Rifle||Tank Killer (ammo carrier*)|
|Rifleman 2||3||BA Rifle||Athelete|
|Rifleman 3||3||BA Rifle||Dumbass|
|Rifleman 4||3||BA Rifle||Unlucky|
The milicianas win the in sight and 7 armed with rifles have LOS and open fire on the LMG team sending a Rifleman 2 OOF. The Nationalists return fire and the LMG wreaks havoc sending 3 milicianas OOF. In taking the Man Down tests, Rifleman 1 & Rifleman 3 Duck Back, everyone else passes.
The third PEF moves to the edge of the woods in cover.
The milicianas’ luck holds as they again win the activation roll. Victoria orders those who have not entered the woods to retrieve the wounded and take them to safety behind the small hills in section 9.
Victoria then moves her remaining force within the woods to where they can see the enemy LMG Team and remain in cover. She positions the SMG and a two riflewomen to watch their flank. They win the in sight and open fire on the LMG team. This time it is their own LMG raining death on the fascists. The enemy LMG and Rifleman are obviously dead and the Cabo gets knocked down.
The Nationalists activate, the two rifleman recover from duck back. The final PEF steps into sight and resolves as an Infantry Squad as follows:
|Sargento||5||SMG||Hard as Nails|
|Rifleman 1||4||BA Rifle||Poser|
|Rifleman 2||4||BA Rifle||Rage|
|Rifleman 3||3||BA Rifle||Resilient|
|Rifleman 4||3||BA Rifle||Slow|
Victoria’s remarkable luck holds as the milicianas win the in sight. They open fire with a SMG, a rifle and a pistol. The Nationalist Sargento hits the ground obviously dead; the Cabo and two riflemen go OOF. The remaining riflemen return fire, one riflewoman is out of the fight. The two riflemen duck back, but thanks to Victoria’s leadership die, the milicianas carry on.
The POUM milicianas activate first. With half of her unit wounded, Victoria begins a withdrawal, abandoning the mission objectives. She orders the LMG and ammo carrier to provide cover fire as she retrieves the wounded riflewoman with the SMG and remaining riflewoman watching her back. Her plan is to retreat to the first hill outside of the woods and then cover the retreat of the LMG and ammo carrier.
The LMG and ammo carrier fire at what’s left of the enemy’s LMG team. The Cabo goes OOF. The two remaining riflemen return fire, but miss. The two riflemen both duck back on the man down test. Meanwhile, the two infantry squad riflemen recover from duck back.
This is where the story gets weird. The Nationalists win the activation. Now, if it were me, with all of the leaders dead or wounded and only two men left in each squad, I’d let the milicianas leave the board having failed their mission with heavy losses. I’d try to retrieve some of my own wounded and call it a day. But that’s not what the game’s AI did. The NP Attack Doctrine doesn’t allow the fascist bastards to give the defeated milicianas a break.
The two remaining riflemen of the LMG team open fire on the retreating milicianas. They miss. The miliciana LMG and ammo carrier return fire and also miss. The last remaining Rep 3 riflewoman who is on point of the retreat returns fire and scores a pitiful shot taking the Rep 4 rifleman to go OOF. The lone Rep 3 rifleman ducks back.
There must be something in the male fascist brain that makes him want to plant his hob-nailed jack boot on a woman’s neck and scream he is superior, because the two remaining riflemen of the infantry squad stepped in front of steely-eyed Isabella Portela and her SMG. She won the insight – one was dead before he hit the ground and the other would bleed out in a matter of minutes.
Victoria couldn’t believe the change of events. It was Margo Rivera, the coward, who had made the miracle shot. Victoria ordered Margo to take the wounded Maria Roman to the rear. She then ordered Francesca and Audrey Smith to reposition the LMG behind the wall of a field for support. Isabella and herself would complete the mission.
The Nationalist fails to activate. Victoria and Isabella fast move.
The Nationalist again fails to activate. Victoria and Isabella charge into melee. The rifleman quickly goes OOF in the first round of melee. Victoria completes her mission. On her way back to rejoin the rest of her unit, she demonstrates that a Marxist can be as ruthless as a fascist as she dispatches every wounded Nationalist in her path.
Now for Something Different
If there had not been a pandemic, I would be in Florida this week to celebrate a milestone in my oldest granddaughter’s life. Jordan Dustin graduated high school and will be attending the University of South Florida when it’s safe to do so!