Espana 1936

Charles Vasey invited me over to try ESPA√ĎA 1936, one of the very few games he rates as a 10. Charles has impeccable taste, so I was keen to try it.

This new wargame from a Spanish designer, covers the Spanish Civil War – a war that I am keen to learn more about. Anthony Beevor, the author of Stalingrad, has written a book about the war that is next on my reading list.

There is a lot to like about this game. The components are gorgeous and the artwork really captures the the period.

The rules are clearly translated and only eight pages long. I read them in an hour.

This is a very streamlined system. It reminds me most of We the People or Twilight Struggle. Eurogamers wanting something more meaty should love it.

Espana 1936 is card driven, in that you have a hand of event cards. Most of these give you more troops, planes or tanks, but some give you reinforcement bonuses. There are a couple of important cards that can swing the game shape, but maybe not the entire result. If the Republicans can draw the cards that strengthen their militia and add another general, things get much easier.

It plays quickly – especially when you are up against a shark like Charles. As the Nationalists, he rolled me over with an auto-victory without too much trouble by the midgame – about two hours. As the Republicans I should have been more passive about attacking, to slow the game down, while being more proactive my defence. The Nationalists have far more and better troops, but the Republicans win if they can hang on to only three key cities by the tenth turn. A game that goes the full distance should take around three hours.

We only had one rules query. Charles attacked Santander and Oviedo simultaneously. I should have been able to reinforce Oviedo – even though in real life there are steep mountains on one side, the Atlantic on the other and only one narrow road. This bothered Charles, but I think the level of abstraction is acceptable. Avoiding this situation would either mean rewriting the core rules or putting in a special exception. Both seem overkill to me.

Unfortunately, you can only buy Espana 1936 right now from Spanish websites. Luckily an English version is in the works with naval rules and a few extra cards.

This is a fine game that captures the flavour of the war while staying very playable. I would like to play again – hopefully against someone easier to beat than Charles Vasey.

  • On behalf of all the Devir groups out there, thanks for the great review. We like the game too.

    Just wanted to let you know that as of yesterday morning, the English version is now available in the U.S., and will also be available in Canada in a week or so.

    You can contact us for more information at, or have your local game store give us a call at 877-DEVIR-50 to place an order.

    Thanks again,
    Matt Hyland
    Devir U.S.

  • This is classic wargame. easy to play, hard to master. Beautiful parts and lots of history. it needs to be introduced to the English-speaking wargaming world …

  • I would recomend as a reading to anyone interested in the period a clasic book from Rohald Fraser “Blood of Spain” basicaly oral history form the spanish civil war, and a real clasic!!

  • Just a point on the victory conditions: it’s more than 3 key cities that the Republican has units in at the end of the game.

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