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MMP Cancels Spanish Civil War Offerings… And Francisco Franco Is Still Dead

posted Nov 6, 2012, 12:11 AM by Douglas Sun

I honestly don't know what I mean by that title, except to reference "Saturday Night Live"'s most famous invocation of the Spanish Civil War….

I just wanted to mention that an email from Multiman Publishing came over the transom this evening, announcing some changes to their system for handling pre-orders. As a longtime participant in GMT Games' P500 program, I never had any complaints about MMP's protocols for pre-orders; you placed your order, waited patiently, and when they were ready to ship they'd charge your credit card. I understood the drill and was fine with it. More regular communication from the company would be nice — something along the lines of Gene Billingsley's periodic (and characteristically personable) updates about GMT's publication schedule. But it sounds like MMP is going to address that issue going forward.

Along with these procedural changes, however, they announced that they're going to cut a bunch of games that had been dangling on the pre-order line for a while. I guess some of the faithful were getting antsy waiting for them, so MMP decided to cut bait. Among them were a couple of Spanish Civil War games on which I'd had my eye, A Las Barricadas (tactical level) and Crusade and Revolution (card-driven, strategic level). In particular, I was struck by MMP's statement that both were, to some extent, victim of "a seemingly-limited interest in the Spanish Civil War as a topic."

I accept their reasoning, but with qualification. When I started out in the hobby in the late '70's — a time when wargaming was still young and there was much unexplored territory — the Spanish Civil War barely got any attention at all. SPI's Patrol had a few scenarios set in it, but I can't recall a relevant stand-alone game from a major publisher. When I returned to wargaming in the early '90's, a Spanish Civil War game would have caught my attention because by then I knew a little bit about the subject, having read Orwell's Homage to Catalonia and delivered a conference paper on it. But still, crickets from the publishers, for the most part.

That seems to have changed within the last handful of years. GMT published a strategic-level treatment last year, The Spanish Civil War. Even before then, there was Devir's Espana 1936 and War Storm's original version of A Las Barricadas. Granted that these are by large the work of European designers and European publishers, and they may not reflect the North American market so much as the growing influence of historical wargamers in other parts of the world. But still, it looks to me like the long term trend as far as the Spanish Civil War being a commercially viable subject is going up.

Of course, this could also mean that the market has reached the point where it has as much of the Spanish Civil War as it can presently digest. I'm sure that MMP would make this argument if it cared to address this post. Market saturation doesn't seem to hold much weight when it comes to Gettysburg, or Waterloo or the Battle of the Bulge. But be that as it may. It is a pity, though — I don't know how badly we need another circa WWII tactical combat system (I'm satisfied with Combat Commander, to be honest), but A Las Barricadas certainly looks interesting. And I would have liked to compare Crusade and Revolution to The Spanish Civil War.