Saturday, June 4, 2011

Modern Spearhead: 1:285 Yom Kippur War

Syrian T55s at the 1973 'Purple Line' along the Golan Heights.
Greg and I had a couple great games playing 'Modern Spearhead' last weekend. The scenario was set during the opening days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War on the Golan Heights, with an Iraqi T55 tank brigade attempting to force its way past an Israeli defensive line armed with modified Super Shermans. Greg took the Israelis and I commanded the Iraqis.  

Shot-up T55s on the main road to the Israeli positions.
The Israelis were set up on a ridge in hull-down positions while the Iraqis entered on the board with 3 tank battalions. The Israelis were rock-hard but heavily outnumbered while the Iraqis were relatively green but had mass in their favour. 

Iraqi tanks cresting the final hills and seeing the Israeli Shermans in the valley.
Spearhead has a great mechanic that compels players to draw their orders on a map which has to be strictly adhered to. Orders can be changed but the speed and effectiveness of any adjustments are determined by an abstraction of doctrine, morale and training. I knew the Iraqis would be fairly inflexible in their command & control so I knew my initial orders had to be fairly simple and straightforward. I decided to assault with two tank battalions, one over the central hill and the other along the highway, while shielding the third in a valley as a breakthrough unit.

As I advanced Greg pounded my formations pretty darn hard but they managed to 'hold their bottle' and ground forward. Greg decided to stay in his original positions in order to dish-out some more pain. As suspected, I took another turn of accurate tank fire but my T55s finally reached a good range-band for their main guns and so I opened fire. The limitations of the Sherman's armour began to tell as platoon after platoon was silenced from the weight of fire.  In the end the Israelis were compelled to withdraw the remnants of their force as the Iraqis drove forward with their fresh battalion. By the scenario's parameters it turned out to be a solid Iraqi victory.

Many, many tanks burning after the final exchange of fire...
Greg and I chatted about the game, coming to the conclusion that the critical decision was probably him staying in place too long instead of 'shooting and scooting'. We decided to have another go at the scenario with the Israelis using several fallback positions so they would not be so easily overrun and so they could use their superior long range armament. For simplicity sake I kept to my original plan and again attacked with two battalions while keeping one in reserve. This time it was a very close game as the Israelis made the Iraqi armour pay for each position. I managed to get away with some critical morale rolls while Greg's luck dimmed during a few crunch moments of tank-to-tank direct fire. The climax came when the Israelis fell back into the last valley with the pursuing Iraqis hot on their heels. The final exchange of fire saw the last of the Shermans destroyed while the crippled force of T55s managed to creep off the field to a marginal victory. 
The final (fiery) position of the Israeli command.
Spearhead is a such a great system and it was a pleasure getting to play with Greg's beautiful collection of miniatures and terrain. I'm actually tempted to paint up a small force for myself as I think the guys back home would enjoy the period and the change of pace.