Sunday, August 19, 2012

Battle Report - Encounter On The Yehudia Road - Yom Kippur War

Not a great first outing for the IDF...
The following is a guest post from blog contributor Greg Burch of the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts in Winnipeg.

Greetings again to the followers of Curt's Analogue Hobbies Blog.  Curt just wrapped up a quick visit to Winnipeg.  We were thrilled to catch up, and of course to get several games out on to the tables.  Here is a battle report and a few photos for one of them - a 15mm scale Yom Kippur War game played using Ambush Alley's "Force on Force" rules.


The table pre-game - the Syrians would enter from the top of the photo, and had to cross the table
Earlier in the summer I embarked on a new project - the Yom Kippur War in 15mm, with a specific focus on the battles on the Golan Heights.  I have painted up an initial batch of Syrian and Israeli vehicles over the past couple of months, and this was the first game for this new project.  I was pretty excited to be playing the first game after painting up the figures, and to have Curt visiting to participate!

T-62s pre-game - the bottom three are from QRF, and the top three are from Old Glory

The scenario was from the "Force on Force" rulebook, and is called "Encounter On The Yehudia Road".  The scenario is set on the morning of the second day of the Yom Kippur War on the Golan Heights.  The Israeli defences have been hammered by the Syrian attack, and the Israelis are dispatching reserve units in platoon and company strength immediately to the front because they are desperate to stem the tide.

Centurion Sho'ts enter the table
Syrians advance under fire
In the scenario the Israelis have two Centurion Sho't tanks, with D8 quality crews, representing the lead elements of a column commanded by Colonel Ran Sarig.  The Syrians have two platoons of three T-62A tanks with D6 quality, representing the lead elements of the Syrian 46th Armored Brigade.  The Syrian objective is to exit tanks from the opposite table edge, and the sole Israeli goal was to knock out the T-62s.

Early results were good for the Israelis
Centurion watches the advance
The scenario is strangely imprecise as to what tanks enter on what turn, so I played this on the assumption that both Syrians platoons showed up on the first turn, while both Israeli tanks entered on the first turn as well.  We set up a 6' by 4' table with a smattering of terrain designed to emulate a bit of the rolling and rocky Golan Heights, and kicked off the battle. Curt took command of the Syrians, and I controlled the Israelis.

First Syrian platoon is hit hard
The Syrians had initiative for the first turn, and moved on to the table with their activations.  The Israelis moved on with their first turn as well.  The Syrians maintained initiative in the second turn, and the shooting started, setting the pattern for the game where I would try to react to every move curt made with fire.

Second Syrian platoon fans out and advances
Initially my plan was working - Curt had two three-tank platoons, and after three turns, one of the platoons had lost one tank outright, with another tank immobilized and a third tank on losing its main gun. I was feeling pretty good about IDF gunnery!

Engine hit, and main gun knocked out...
But Curt's second platoon was moving up at the same time, and I didn't have as much luck engaging them.  He knocked out one of my Centurions on the fourth turn, and was able to maneuver into place for flank shots on my surviving Centurion by the sixth turn.  The last tank blazed away, but the Syrians knocked it out with sustained fire, first damaging the engine, and then blowing the whole thing up all together. Decisive win for Curt!

Second Syrian platoon maneuvers for the flank shot
Using the Ambush Alley game engine to resolve an all-armour contest was interesting.  I really enjoy the reaction mechanic.  But one of Ambush Alley's core concepts is that the troops matter more than the equipment, and I think tank battles are the fault line for this core game assumption.  The quality of the gunnery is linked to troop quality - I used D8s for shooting, and Curt used D6s.  But the quality of the armour is set by the armour, not the crew.  I think this makes sense, but it's a slippery slope in the context of this game system.

The Syrians take flank shots on the IDF tanks...
Some other challenges - the tanks could not make group moves.  The rules see each tank as a "fire team" of four crew.  I think this can be fixed with a simple house rule - treating each tank platoon as a fire team for activation.

Centurion burns it at the end of the game...
Probably the weakest part of using Force on Force for tank battles is the declining value of the fire.  The first shot the Centurions took was the best in each turn, and thereafter you lose a dice for each shot.   This mechanic is core to the rules, but I find the abstraction does not sit well with tank combat (as opposed to infantry combat).

One other nitpick - for all of the pages and pages in the rule book, Force on Force does not include stats for the T-62A or Centurion Sho't.  It was not hard to bodge some together, but it is another bizarre oversight that points to a lack of clear thinking on how these books get published.

But it was still a fun game - I recommend the Ambush Alley game engine to other gamers.  Even with the small issues, you will enjoy it very much over all.

I have heard much about the new Bolt Action rules, and I'm thinking it would be fun to adapt to this setting.  I look forward to playing this period and scale again very soon.  And I hope to bring this along to Regina the next time I visit.


20 comments:

  1. That looks like a really cool game. You were able to have an enjoyable game with one side having only two tanks to command?

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    1. I can't speak for Greg but I had a fun time with the rules. The whole scenario probably played out in about an hour. I'd say the first half of the game was pretty grim for the Syrians as the Israelis made good use of their superior gunnery/fire control at long range. But once the distance closed, and I managed to get on both flanks, then Greg had to make some difficult decisions on how best to stem the tide.

      On a similar note, I'm not sure I agree with Greg's assessment on the loss of a fire dice for each reaction/shot. I think the mechanism does a good job in reflecting the increasing pressure/panic that the gunner faces as he deals with multiple targets simultaneously closing in on his postion. (i.e. the first shot is carefully laid but then each subsequent firing solution becomes more and more of a test of nerves and skill.)

      This being said, I do concur with him that there needs to be a careful balance between quality of troops and the technology they are using. I think that lousy troops which get lucky with a powerful weapon system should have the capability to do significant damage to their opponent. From my understanding this is not reflected in 'Force on Force' as, for example, D6 troops cannot ever hope to do better than '6' on their attacks. As Greg says this system works well with infantry combat as it assumes that higher quality troops are making the best use of their weapons and environment but in tank combat it largely comes down to physics once a hit is achieved - if you get hit by a high-grade munition it's really going to wreck your day no matter how crappy the shooter is or how awesome you (the target) may be.

      Nonetheless, these are not huge obstacles (and the above may be my misunderstanding of the rules!). I think the rules are quite solid and give a really exciting game.

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    2. Sean - one of the very positive things about Ambush Alley's game system is the reaction-based turn mechanics. As long as each of my tanks could see Curt's tanks take an action, we could react. So with even just two tanks, I was very busy. If we were playing an IGOUGO system, on the other hand, you are right - two tanks would not be much to have fun with

      Force on Force really gets you involved, so even a single tank will have you busy each turn. There were a couple of turns where each of my tanks fired four times (basically until the shooting was no longer effective), so lots of fun - and worked out well for until Curt got the drop on my tanks with that second platoon...

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  2. Love the batrep, I believe you can find the stats for other vehicles in one of the many supplements..just like GW!

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  3. Now that looks like seriously good fun! Great looking game.

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  4. Super AAR and cool looking board! Love those smoke counters!

    Christopher

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  5. What a great looking game and report! Love the T-62's they look excellent.

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  6. Yes, Greg is doing a great job with these miniatures. Its funny how a simple thing like an aerial can go such a long way in finishing a model.

    The excellent smoke & flame markers are from Dream Pod 9 (very durable).

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  7. A very interesting AAR about an all-tanks battle. Interesting. I think "Force on Force" is focuses in the Infantry combat (in its origin, it was about asymetric engagements only) but this game sound very good. I think that the Centurion atributes are in the erratas shet that you can find in the Ambush Alley Games page.

    Very nice!!!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Juan. In truth this scenario was all about asymmetrical combat so, on the whole, the rules worked quite well. I think a classic IGOUGO system would have broken down, with the Israelis being quickly overwhelmed without being able to react with their superior doctrine and weaponry.

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  8. An interesting write up, and some good looking heavy metal. Also reminds me somewhere I have brigae or 3 if 1/285th QHQ stuff for doing this - another failed project!

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  9. Dave - I prefer the term "pending" for those projects....

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    1. Exactly. The term 'under resourced' also works here... ;)

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  10. Terrific looking table and interesting game. Love the models and the smoke/burn counter in the last shot is amazing.

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    1. Thanks guys. The burn markers are recent releases from Dream Pod 9.

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  11. Thank you for the excellent game report. The table, the figures, the tanks and the smoke look really excellent. I was interested to read about the mechanism for decreasing the dice for each shot taken by the Israeli Centurions - that's pretty interesting (I'm guessing it replicates the difficulty of aiming snap shots), but that gives the Israelis the same penalty as the (less experienced) Syrians - albeit that the Israelis start from D8. I'd be really interested in you gaming other actions from the war, as it's (i) quite different; and (i) looks tremendous! Well done!

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    1. Thanks Sidney. As you can see from the post and the comments, Curt and I have differing views on the declining dice mechanic, but I believe it is intended to represent a declining effectiveness of fire as the turn goes on. You roll one less dice of firepower each time you fire in the turn - the dice type itself does not "decline" (as in, go from D8 down to D6), just the number. The number of dice rolled is a function of the gun type, not crew quality, so that is where this does not sit as well with me. If a 105mm gun fires, it will be the same calibre each time it is fired, regardless of the quality of the crew.

      Having said that, as Curt points out, it is still an effective game mechanic, in that it forces players to be somewhat judicious with their fire, and generally it makes sense that firing again and again and again should be harder and offer declining returns to the shooter(s). It all depends on how one perceives the abstraction.

      We will certainly be playing this period again soon - thanks again for the comments!

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