About a week ago, I was contacted by a fan of the blog/YouTube Channel from France named Claudio Yoldi Altamirano and he wanted to know if I could squeeze in an interview with his friend David Gómez Relloso who is the designer of Crusade and Revolution, a card driven game covering the Spanish Civil War published in 2013 by Compass Games. For some reason, I had missed the fact that this one was going to Kickstarter and didn’t include it in my monthly Wargame Watch feature for April. I immediately was interested and put some questions together for Claudio to provide to David, who also is providing some translation services for this interview.

If you are interested in Crusade and Revolution: The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 Deluxe Edition, you can order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/compassgames/crusade-and-revolution-deluxe-edition

Grant: First off David please tell us a little about yourself. What are your hobbies? What’s your day job?

David: I was born in 1976 in San Sebastian, a city in the north of Spain. I studied History and worked as a social educator during 10 years. Later, I opened a rural hotel in a small village in the province of Burgos. Films, comics, roleplaying, boardgames and particularly wargames are my favorite hobbies.

Grant: What motivated you to break into game design? What have you enjoyed most about the experience thus far?

David: I could not find a satisfying wargame about the Spanish Civil War, and believe me I tried, so I decided to design it myself. Everything on this journey has been satisfactory. If I had to choose only one thing that I have really enjoyed, I would mention the people I have known over the years and who have helped me.

Grant: What designers have influenced your style?

David: I based my design on Paths of Glory, so Ted Raicer is my first reference. Mark Herman, being the father of card-driven games, would be another influence.

Grant: What do you find most challenging about the design process? What do you feel you do really well?

David: It is a complex process, full of challenges. I think that playtesting is the key part of a good design. Without an intense and serious testing phase, as well as a dedicated and conscientious playtesting team, success is difficult. I am satisfied and proud of the effort that I have put into that aspect.

Grant: What is your game Crusade and Revolution about?

David: It is a card-driven point-to-point movement strategic-operational wargame that covers all the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939. Its rules are based on Ted Raicer’s Paths of Glory. Each player takes command of one of the sides in the struggle, either the Nationalists or Republicans, and looks after all the aspects that involve a war: mobilization, recruitment, movement of troops, offensives, construction of defenses, etc. There are also historical events that must be taken into consideration, such happenings as the foreign military aid, international policy, change of Republican Government, etc.

Grant: What motivated you to design a game around the Spanish Civil War?

David: As I have mentioned above, I could not find a game that I liked about the subject, so I decided to design the wargame I was looking for. I have been always interested in that war, so I tried to combine my interest in history and my passion for wargames.

Grant: What sources did you consult to get the details of the history correct?

David: Many different sources. In fact, too many to really list here. The Spanish Civil War is a controversial event here in Spain, and it has produced an immense number of publications form various points of view. I focused on the military aspect, and trying to be honest and fair I have tried to consult many works by authors with conflicting views.

Grant: What from the history of the conflict did you need to model in the design?

David: I tried to introduce many aspects into the design to create a fully developed experience, but being a war game, I mainly considered that the military should be the main focus. I also decided to follow a historicist path, without allowing counterfactual events. Players have room to change what happened, but within historical limits.

Grant: What are you hoping to change in the rules or gameplay in this Deluxe 2nd Edition?

David: Really very little, the game has held up well after the publication of the 1st edition in 2013. I have included all known errata and only a pair of official minor changes. There are also several new optional rules, cards and counters, but they are not changes, but more additions.

Grant: What is the scale of the game?

David: I consider it a strategic-operational scale. Players manage the war as a whole, but they also plan specific campaigns. Each space covers about 60 kilometers. Units represent a variable amount of forces. At their peak, the small ones are divisions and the larger ones are army corps.

Grant: The game is card driven. Why did you feel this was the best mechanic to tell the story of the Spanish Civil War?

David: When I started designing the game, I was in love with Paths of Glory and I thought that its mechanics would fit with the Spanish Civil War, a conflict more similar to the First Word War than to the Second. Cards are a particularly useful tool for adding historical flavor to a game

Grant: How have you adapted the mechanic to the specific circumstances of the Spanish Civil War?

David: There are several changes that were needed. Some of them modify structural rules. For example, limiting the movement through enemy territory or using only small units in the first phase of the game. Others add specific rules that reflect the particularities of the conflict, which are many.

Grant: What are the three phases the game is divided into and how does this illustrate the evolution of the Spanish Civil War and introduce new strategic cards?

David: The complete war lasts 18 turns, divided into three phases: War of the Columns (5 turns), Mobilization (6 turns) and War of the Armies (7 turns). Each phase has its own cards which are mixed in to form the draw deck, illustrating the evolution of the war and the international events. The Spanish Civil War is a conflict with many peculiarities, since it began as a failed coup that degenerated into war, and all this must be reflected in the rules, phases and cards.

Grant: What different type of cards are included?

David: All the cards share a common structure, but they can be played in different ways, as will be seen later. If I had to separate them into categories, I would say that there are four main types of cards: reinforcements, combat cards, military events and political events (both internal and foreign).

Grant: What is the anatomy of the cards?

David: A card has three parts: an operations/strategic redeployment value, an event and a replacement points value. It also includes an evocative photograph for aesthetic purposes.

Grant: How many cards does each player get each turn? What can modify the number of cards drawn?

David: Each player receives a hand of 7 cards at the beginning of each turn, but it may vary depending on the Republican Morale level. The Nationalist player tries to reduce it and the Republican player wants to keep it as high as possible. Below certain levels, the Nationalist receives one more card and the Republican reduces his hand to 6 cards.

Grant: What can Ops Points be used for? 

David: Operations are the heart of the military aspect of the game. They allow players to move and attack with their combat units.

Grant: What is the SR value and what is Strategic Redeployment of Troops?

David: Strategic redeployment allows units to move long distances, by rail or by sea. It also allows players to move troops from their reserve to the front. This is a good way to get new reinforcements into the war quickly but must be used smartly in order to maintain lines and protect gains.

Grant: What are Replacement Points?

David: Replacement Points represent replacement soldiers and war materiel to rebuild damaged or destroyed units.

Grant: What area of Spain does the map cover? Who is the artist?

David: The map covers all the peninsular Spain and also the Balearic Islands. The Canary Islands do not appear because there was no combat in them. The artist is Niko Eskubi, a prestigious Spanish artist known for his excellent work in wargames.

Grant: How does the point to point movement create opportunities and challenges for movement?

David: Personally I like point to point movement for the exact reasons you state. It challenges the players to think about how to move where they want to go and to prevent their opponent from moving to where they want to go. At this scale, it allows the player to reflect on the map and the main lines of communication where the great campaigns of the war took place. It also simplifies movement and fighting.

Grant: How does combat work in the design? 

David: Units may attack or move, but not both in the same action round, so players must prepare their attacks in advance. Both players throw the die in the fire table and apply the result to the opponent. Terrain and combat cards may affect combat. If the attacker wins, the defender must retreat or –depending on the terrain- cancel retreat by suffering an additional loss. If the enemy retreats, the attacker may advance. It is important to mention that there are two fire tables, one for the division-sized units and another one for the corps-sized units. Obviously results are deadlier in the second one.

Grant: What are the victory conditions due both sides?

David: Victory conditions for each scenario are based on Victory Points levels. There are also automatic victory conditions based on Republican Morale level. So both players must pay attention to both factors.

Grant: What has been the overall experience of your playtesters?

David: First of all, I must once again thank all the people who have playtested the game. Their collaboration has been absolutely essential. I am very happy with the obtained feedback. First, they helped to detect errors and imbalances. Afterwards, they contributed to correct them and confirmed that the game was balanced. All this involved years of work and dozens of games.

Grant: What have been some of the more difficult design challenges and how did you overcome them?

David: The testing phase is the most challenging one, because you depend on the collaboration of other players. Fortunately, I had the help of many close friends. I also attended numerous wargames events. And finally, Cyberboard and Vassal made it possible to test the game in the internet.

Grant: What are you most pleased with about the game?

David: I am very grateful for everything the game design has given me. First of all, the people I have met, many of whom have become friends. Every time someone plays Crusade and Revolution and enjoys the experience, I feel very satisfied. I am very happy with the quality 2nd edition and I am very grateful to Compass Games and 4Dados for that. Finally, I want to highlight how proud I am of the playbook, especially for the extensive section of historical information. Thank you very much for doing this interview!

Thanks for your time in answering our questions David and for the work that you have put into the game. I also want to thank Claudio for reaching out and assisting in this interview.

If you are interested in Crusade and Revolution: The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 Deluxe Edition, you can order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/compassgames/crusade-and-revolution-deluxe-edition