Grogheads Reviews! Panzer Corps 2: Axis Operations Spanish Civil War

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The Spanish Civil War raged from 1936 to 1939, ending when Franco and the Nationalists gained full control of the country.  The Soviet Union aided the Republicans while Germany and Italy aided the Nationalists.  The major powers tested equipment and doctrines later used in Europe during World War 2.  The Spanish Civil War has seldom been addressed by computer wargames – with notable exceptions being Battles for Spain and Espana 1936.

Axis Operations – Spanish Civil War is the first expansion for Panzer Corps 2, developed by Flashback Games and published by Slitherine Ltd.  Sixteen scenarios are included starting with Nationalist troop movements from Spanish Africa and ending in 1939.  Panzer Corps 2 is required to play Axis Operations – Spanish Civil War.  The base price for Axis Operations is $14.99, a reasonable price for a sixteen-scenario campaign.

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By: Avery Abernethy,

This review is based on more than fifteen hours of play.  A complimentary copy of Panzer Corps 2 and Axis Operations were provided to the reviewer.

In Axis Operations you control the Condor Legion – German ground and aerial units excluding German infantry.  The player also controls Italian units (including infantry).  Historically, Italian troops were not part of the Condor Legion, but for game purposes they have a combined, player-controlled command structure.

However, the vast majority of all allied (Nationalist) infantry are controlled by the AI – not the player.  Thus, for most scenarios many if not the majority of allied units are not under the player’s control.

You start the game by selecting one of five difficulty levels.  The middle level gives no advantages to the player or to the AI.  Other difficulty levels provide an easier, or more challenging game for the player.  Advanced options include the ability to disable weather, supply or fog of war rules.  Ironman mode prevents using undo or reloading the game to remove an unfortunate combat result.  Other options include allowing the player to have a custom army (instead of pre-chosen initial units) and “combat randomness” which provide either more or less accurate predictions of combat results prior to an attack.

1 Difficulty Game Options

Difficulty Game Options

Next, you name your commander and select a set of positive traits.  You can take negative traits to gain more positive traits, but I doubt many will choose that path.  I took two positive traits.  I usually name commanders or RPG characters after my dogs or comic book characters – so my general was named “Panzer” in honor of my miniature Schnauzer.

2 Commander Selection Traits

Commander Selection Traits

The first scenario is the amphibious invasion of Cadiz.  After capturing an airfield, units can also be airlifted to the Spanish Mainland.

Amphibious Invasion of Cadiz

Amphibious Invasion of Cadiz

Cadiz Airlift

Cadiz Airlift

Like previous releases, you have main objectives and bonus objectives for each scenario.  If you complete your main objectives your core force continues to the next scenario in the sequence.  Achieving bonus objectives gives you additional command points (which enables fielding more core units) or leaders which can be attached to units to gain advantages.

5 Gaining a Bonus Objective

Gaining a Bonus Objective

5a Hero Attachment

Hero Attachment

One of the nicest features of the game is a summary of the historical battle results.  Outside of Spain, few players are familiar with the primary battles of the Spanish Civil War.  Providing a clear link between the game and the history of the conflict was a nice touch.  More games should incorporate this feature since it is easy to accomplish and adds interesting depth to wargames based on historical conflicts.

6 Historical Recap

Historical Recap

After a scenario is completed, the game provides detailed performance information for every unit in the scenario.  This was a nice addition to the game because it details the combat record of your units as you progress through the game.

7 Detailed Battle Results by Unit

Detailed Battle Results by Unit

8 Detailed Battle Results Continued

Detailed Battle Results Continued

The military modeling is excellent.  This is one of the best looking wargames that I’ve seen.  The sounds are well done.  One of the unit death scenes was both beautiful and somewhat silly.  When you shoot down an enemy air unit it does a spiraling loop to land upside-down before exploding.

9 Excellent Modeling

Excellent Modeling

The controls are remarkably intuitive.  I’ve not played the original Panzer Corps in several years and the Spanish Civil War release was the first I’ve played on the new engine.  Normally, I read the entire manual before starting a game, but did not read the manual before playing this game.  The controls were logically organized with excellent tool tips.

10 Strategic View

Strategic View

A cartoonish Nazi is part of a story-line between scenarios.  The dialogue emphasizes that the Nationalist Leadership considers the Condor Legion to be useful mercenaries who are not controlling the battle.   I found the backstory to have reasonable historical accuracy, but juvenile.  However, casual gamers or those new to wargaming might find this story-line more interesting than I did.

11 Cartoon Nazi

Cartoon Nazi

12 Mercs


This is an introductory wargame.  Before each scenario you are given a recommended strategy which includes suggested troop movements.  Studying the battlefield, determining your strategy, and placing your troops are key elements of any wargame.  The detailed strategy suggestions prior to each scenario make this a wargame with training wheels.

13 Hold Your Hand Battle Plans

Hold Your Hand Battle Plans

Panzer Corps 2 added zones of control and a basic supply system to the game.  Isolated units are weakened and are more easily damaged and destroyed.  Unfortunately, how the game operationalized zones of control and unit isolation was opaque to me. I went back and referenced the manual, but I could never accurately predict when units were isolated or in supply.

14 zone of control

zone of control

The game was stable.  I had no crashes or performance issues.

The designers made a critical design choice when they decided to place the player in control of only Condor Legion and Italian forces.  While the split command is historically accurate, it means that the player does not control a large number of allied units including almost all infantry.  Like all AIs, the decisions made for Nationalist Infantry were sub-optimal.  Some players may dislike this design decision.

Although Panzer Corps 2: Axis Operations Spanish Civil War has a lot of positive features, I ended up putting it aside after completing about a third of the game.  I found the zones of control/supply model to be inexplicable and eventually irritating.  Being unable to control most infantry hampered my tactics.

In sum, I think Panzer Corps 2: Axis Operations Spanish Civil War will appeal most to those looking for an introductory wargame, a “beer & pretzels” experience, or those interested in learning about the Spanish Civil War.

About the author: Avery Abernethy is gainfully retired.  Panzer is glad to have the added attention.

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