Sagger-swagger – A FATE OF A NATION BATTLE REPORT

After last week’s game versus Fez its now Duncan’s turn to take on Lee’s Magach’s at Brighton’s “Dice Saloon” gaming venue .  But Duncan is bringing a 1973 themed Egpytian Force with the Sagger missile that accounted for so many M60 in real life. 

Are Lee’s Magach’s in even more trouble?  Let’s find out?

The Forces

Israel (Lee)

Duncan asked how many points I could field and a quick calculation showed that my Magach’s infantry and AA guns came to 112pts. Duncan totalled his potential force up and could field 110pts. I put my AA halftracks back on the shelf and we were all square!
This gave me a full strength M113 Infantry Platoon, including extra Blindicide for 14pts, plus all eight Magach 6 tanks (96pts). The real question was how to divide the Magach up. In the last game versus Fez I had suffered badly for not really being optimised for 60% reserves and I didn’t want a repeat of that.

The strongest option in terms of platoon strength and ignoring reserves was:

  • HQ of two Magach 6 tanks – 24pts
  • Platoon of three Magach 6 tanks – 36pts
  • Platoon of three Magach 6 tanks – 36pts
  • Platoon of M113 infantry with extra Blindicide – 14pts

That was fine assuming a mission with no reserves but, as FoaN lacks battle stances, it was going to come down to a roll on the mission table and most missions would have reserves for both sides. Assuming I wanted the infantry on at the start (which after last week I really did) and assuming 66pts on at the start (60% of 110), I only had 52pts to play with, or just over four Magach 6. If I fielded one of the three tank platoons then I could not also field the HQ so was shorting myself 16pts!

The obvious answer was to go:

  • HQ of a single Magach 6 tanks – 12pts
  • Platoon of three Magach 6 tanks – 36pts
  • have of two Magach 6 tanks – 24pts
  • Platoon of two Magach 6 tanks – 24pts
  • Platoon of M113 infantry with extra Blindicide – 14pts

That allowed the HQ, the three tank Platoon and the Infantry to be on, wasting only 4pts.
The two two tank platoons were, however, very brittle. If one got killed or bailed, and on 4+ remount then I really couldn’t count on it getting itself sorted before a last stand roll, then I was relying on my 3+ morale to not lose a platoon. Having the CO nearby could mitigate this to an extent.

Those who follow us on FB will know I agonised on this choice all day, but ultimately I went with the 60% optimised force.

Now to see if it was the right one!

Egyptian (Duncan)

Right, so having decided to go full blown, every poor Egyptian soul I could muster, the choice of what to take was largely eliminated. That being said I was in no way unhappy with my force as it stood:

  • HQ of a single T-62
  • Platoon of  five T-62s
  • Platoon of four T-62s
  • Platoon of four ZSU-57-2s
  • Support platoon of nine IS-3s
  • Support platoon of three SU-100s
  • Medium support company of Thunderbolt troops with additional Grail and Sagger missiles
  • Support platoon of six PT-76s 
  • Support battery of three Hails
  • Support battery of three 152mm guns
  • Forward artillery observer

There was a partridge in a pear tree in there too, and a kitchen sink, but I forget where.

Now observant readers will see that my core formation is as brittle as a Dead Sea shore salt crust (try saying that three times quickly!) and this is a big part of the way that the game panned out in the end.

Mission – Hasty Attack

Israel

Another mission with half my force in reserve, no matter the stance! At least it justified the decision on army build.
Still, being the attacker meant having to only worry about defending one objective and my reserves were immediate.

So, Attack it was. If Duncan elected to attack too, as I suspect he would, it would at least force a roll-off.

Egypt

I felt that the Israelis were almost certain to take an aggressive stance and force the Attack so thinking about the static forces at my disposal, and the long ranged firepower that my T-62s and Saggers could deliver I was confident that by opting to adopt a more defensive posture intially I would get a couple of boons.

My number one thought was with a scenario with an Ambush then my larger platoon of T-62s could potentially get the drop on a platoon of Lee’s Magrachs. So I placed the unit of five T-62s in Ambush with my reserves being the smaller unit of T-62s, as they were a bit more fragile, and the IS-3s. 

With no need to roll off, Duncan chose his table quarter and placed one objective on the Israeli side (E1) and one on his side (E2 – using his very nice new objective markers). Lee then placed two on the Egyptian side (I1 and 2), knowing that one would be removed.

Lee – At this point I didn’t know what one I would remove, other than it would be the one where ever Duncan set his infantry up! I didn’t fancy trying to clear the Thunderbolt Infantry with their RPG and sagger off an objective!

Set-Up

Egypt

The way the objectives fell I knew I could cover the ones in the centre and on my right solely with the Thunderbolt company (B) which I was more than happy to do. They were supported on the far right of my deployment by the PT-76 platoons (A) who I’d envisaged running up the flank and keep the Israeli forces on that side at least honest. 

I used the rises and escarpments on my left to shield my soft underbelly of artillery (D & F), AAA (G) and redundant AT in the form of the SU-100s (C) – I say redundant as they had very little hope on their own vs. the Israeli heavy armour. I was hoping to suck in Lee’s Magrachs on his left and get my Ambush off to eliminate or at least hurt his forces on that side while I let the artillery do its thing against the infantry dug in around the objective on Lee’s side of the board… well that was the plan anyway.

Israel

I removed the objective on the far left. That would release his infantry and PT-76 to come over to me but I fancied my odds on holding them back after my game with Fez, especially with the two platoons of Magach in reserve to come and assist.
I set the infantry (C) upon the E1 objective, aiming to use the maximum spread the 8” command bubble of a large platoon provided. The Hail only packs FP4 but given I was going to be failing about half my saves (thanks to the repeat re-roll) and he would pass half his firepower I could easily lose a quarter of the stands under the template with each shot.
Their M113 set up out of sight behind a nearby dune, staying within the command of the HQ.
The Magach HQ (A) and Platoon (B) set up as far forward on the right-hand flank as I could go, planning to make a charge on the artillery protecting the objective there. I was wary of the escarpment and scrubland as both produced possible ambush points for his T-62 so I planned to drive forwards as fast as possible to close off the escarpment as an ambush point, try and take out the Battalion CO and ensure my front arc was pointing towards the scrub.

Turn 1

Israel

It was always going to be a quick turn!  The reinforcement roll, unsurprisingly, didn’t result in anything so I simply move the Magach HQ and platoon towards the escarpment directly ahead.  The platoon HQ aimed for the gap between the end of the escapement and the table edge to get a cheeky shot off at the 152mm guns whilst the two other embers of the platoon hugged the cliff face to get shots on the Battalion HQ T-62.  The CO stayed nearby, passing a cross check to enter the rocky ground and get a shot on his opposite number too.

Sadly the four shots of 105mm didn’t result in anything due to range, concealment and gone to ground status.  But I had achieved my turn one aim of closing up to I2, closing off the escarpment as an ambush point whilst ensuring my armor was facing the second potential ambush point.

“You come back in 12 years and see how well that works out for you!” Range finder and stabiliser sorely missed!
I guess 105mm APDSFS-DU-T rounds would be nice too…

Egypt

Surprising no-one the T-62 pulled back their camo nets from their hidden position amongst the shrubs guarding the pass to I2.

Clearly Duncan’s time spent painting the camo was justified!

After that, Duncan’s forces set about closing the distance to the enemy.  The PT-76 dashed and “Followed me” towards E1, as did the Thunderbolts, though they left the redundant Grail team behind and ensured the Saggers took up firing positions for subsequent turns. 

The SU-100, not having anyone to shoot, moved to back-up the T-62.  The only exception to this generally courageous dashing was the ZSU-57 who decided to be somewhere else, far from the approaching platoon of Magach 6!

The IDF Infantry at E1 could be excused some nervousness at this point

That all done, it was time to shoot.  The artillery opened proceedings with the Hail’s template making for an especially large “splash zone”

The hails open up…
Incoming!!!

Despite the combined impact of the 152mm guns and the Hails, I only lost a single Blindicide team.  But I was pinned and, with a 4+ rally, that was not a great situation to be in.

Another “not great” situation to be in was on the receiving end of a 115mm fin round!  It’s highest anti-tank in the game versus highest front armour in the game.  Out of the six shots fired at the Magach platoon, two found their mark, but thankfully both bounced off the M60’s think front armour!  I had survived the ambush!

Turn 2

Israel

The Infantry were shook up by the artillery bombardment and, despite the approaching Egyptians, did not un-pin.  Thankfully the starting phase wasn’t all bad news as the first of the two-tank troops appeared, moving on from reserves into hull down positions overlooking the T-62.

The only other movement was the three-strong Magach platoon’s HQ darting around the escarpment to sit on I2.  The two artillery pieces in the objectives zone of control would need to be cleared off, but that was next turn’s problem.  This turn was all about the T-62 problem…

The platoon and CO opened up on the ambushing force and battalion CO, five of the seven hits finding their mark!  This left three tanks burning, one T-62 operational and the Battalion CO and another tank bailed.  The crew of the bailed tank probably had just enough time to thank Allah for their survival before one of the two long range shots from the newly arrived Magachs abruptly finished that praise.

The Magrachs win the shooting war with the T-62s 

The stunned infantry kept their heads down, but the M113 sitting hull down on the ridge line behind them did not hold back.  The Thunderbolt infantry were at the extremes of range for the pintle ‘Ma Deuce’ but the APC had plenty of ammo and a need to use it up.  They were able to land six hits but the Thunderbolt infantry only lost a single team and it wasn’t enough to pin a large platoon.

Egypt

The loss of so many T-62 for little gain was a big set-back in turn 1 but the surviving T-62 held firm and the Battalion CO remounted, offering some hope of vengeance.  The ZSU-57 continued running around the rear areas like a headless chicken, this time darting back to I2.  Meanwhile the SU-100 moved up to firing positions near the Battalion CO and Hails, despite the fact that their 100mm gun was unable to do anything to the Magach.

Over near E1, the Thunderbolt infantry kept moving forward, supported by the PT-76.

Thunderbolt troops storm forward towards the shattered remains of the Israeli infantry

The Hails opened fire but suddenly I seemed unable to make any infantry saves.  Compounding this, Duncan passed all but one firepower check.  The guts were torn out the platoon as five teams succumbed to the barrage.  The 152mm guns suddenly found their available targets eliminated and failed to re-range on a new target.

The Egyptian vengeance continued, with the two T-62 killing the Platoon HQ sitting on I2.

Whilst the Israeli CO took stock of the panicked calls from E1 and the sudden loss of comms with one of his platoon HQ, his tanks was shook by an impact.  Looking out the cupola, the commander was surprised to see one of the turret mounted tank tracks missing and the front of the tank draped with a wire – a sagger team had found its mark at range!  Thankfully the missile had been unable to penetrate.

The Egyptians were very much still in the fight.

Turn 3

Israel

Another turn and another reserve!  The last of the Magach arrived, meaning the force was now well and truly with me.  With the PT-76 bearing down on E1 and the infantry reeling, I sent the last platoon to relieve them.

The Infantry, perhaps understandably, didn’t unpin, but importantly, didn’t run either as I realised that my HQ was accompanied by only one other stand so was on a last stand check!  I moved the three other surviving teams around the beaten zone of the Hails to get one more team in command to save having to make that roll in the following turn hopefully.

 The Magach’s heading to I2 opened up on the T-62.  The last survivor brewed up but the CO joined the SU-100 to move his hits off on to them, unsurprisingly brewing the tank destroyer up.  The platoon that arrived last turn opened up and, with no more SU-100 around to swap hits on, scored a hit on the CO, but only bailed him.  The Magach then scooted back to try and open up the range to the Sagger missiles.

Saggers let loose at the Magachs in the distance

The M113 opened up on the Thuderbolt infantry and had an outstanding round of shooting, killing five teams but not suppressing the elite infantry.

Finally, the newly arrived Magach opened up on the PT-76, killing one of the light tanks.

Egypt

Duncan had his first roll of the reserve dice and managed to get one on the first ask.  Sadly scattered reserves were truly scattered as they came in on the corner opposite I2 where he really needed them.  Duncan sent them to reinforce the attack on E1, hopefully by clearing out the two Magach.

The Thunderbolt infantry picked themselves up and continued to push forward, still supported by the PT-76 less one digging a trench for itself in the sand.

Thunderbolt troops & PT-76s advance towards the
shattered Israeli forces around the objective

The ZSU-57 moved to try and get a side armour shot on the Magachs but couldn’t make anything of it. 

Another Sagger raced out to the CO, but once again he saved the impact.  Clearly that Magach was leading a charmed life!

The Hails were now too close to friendly troops to call in on their current position so Duncan ranged them in further back on the infantry trying to link back up with the platoon HQ, killing one stand.  The 152mm were then ranged on the M113 and managed to kill one and bail another.

Turn 4

Israel

The infantry at E1 still failed to unpin.  I guess the arrival of the Magach was somewhat undone as a motivator by the continuing artillery barrage!  On the bright side the bailed M113 remounted, giving me an extra M2 to terrorise the Thunderbolts with.

I moved the platoon of two Magachs on the right flank up towards I2 but the rest of the army sat tight.  The M113 once again swept the Thunderbolt infantry with fire but Duncan save all six hits!  Still with Duncan now on 11 teams it was enough for a pin!  The two left flank Magachs opened up on the PT-76 but only scored one hit and then failed the 2+ firepower check.  Clearly there was a reason these guys were the last ones on…

The two surviving Magach nearest I2 opened on the battalion CO.  Despite being gone to ground as he had not remounted last turn, the two tanks were able to find their mark and brew the CO up, who died with his tank.

The CO and the platoon of two Magach now turned their attention to the Sagger team on the hill near E2.  The CO missed but the two Magachs got a solid kill, despite the range.  HESH for the win!

At this point I noted that, whilst I2 was somewhat crowded, E2 was wide open for the taking…

Egypt

No reserves this turn for Duncan.

The PT-76 stuck in the sand remounted but then proved unable to leave the sand.  The T-62 moved up onto the nearby plateau overlooking the Magachs, ready to get a shot off.  However, neither they not the second sagger team, in the shrubs, were able to damage either of the two tanks.

The Thunderbolt Infantry unpinned and moved up ready to assault.  However, despite artillery and AK-47 a plenty, the Israeli infantry remained intact.  

The PT-76 opened up on the hull down M113 to tray and reduce their Numbers but only hit one APC, killing it with the 76mm gun.  Duncan considered the assault but there was two much defensive fire to make it viable.

Turn 5

Israel

In a surprising turn of events, the infantry unpinned!

The Magach on the right blitzed towards E2, aiming to get some long range fire whilst still heading to the objective.  This paid off as they managed to brew one of the T-62 with another immensely long range shot.

The surviving two tanks of the Magach three tank platoon pushed towards the pass leading to I2, brewing up two of the ZSU-57 as targets of opportunity on the way.

That seemed to be the highlight of the turn as the infantry kept their heads down, the M113 failed to score any kills and the Magach missed the T-62 at close range.

Egypt

What’s that rumbling noise… why, it’s a whole company of IS-3 lumbering onto the table.  They were coming on from the left most corner, away from I2 but able to reinforce the open objective of E2.  Sadly an IS3 can’t be rushed and can’t do anything to a Magach from the front so Duncan could only shuffle them on.

The ZSU-57 continued to rush away from I2 as Duncan had realised something.  With the death of the CO and first platoon of T-62, he only had two platoons from the core formation left!  The T-62 platoon and the ZSU-57 needed to stay in the game, otherwise it was all over.

Talking of the T-62, the last platoon made sure that the Magach paid for their poor gunnery in my turn by killing both tanks.  My infantry were on their own!

The Thunderbolt infantry readied for the assault as the Artillery observer got busy.  The Hails, now well within danger close of everything, switched to bringing in smoke on the ridge line, interfering with the M113 ability to protect the infantry.  The 152mm artillery switched to the far flank of the IDF infantry, managing to suppress.  AK fire on the way in proved of limited use and the RPG were unable to hit the M113 behind the Egyptian smoke.

The Egyptians charged, but the IDF were just able to suppress the assault.  The line was held, for now.

Turn 6 

Israel

The CO made a blitz and tactical move to join the two tanks working towards E2, popping a single shot off at the sagger in the distance and scoring a somewhat improbable kill.  The two magach’s, however, had paused to open up on the T-62 threatening the infantry.  One T-62 brewed up and the other was bailed – things were looking good for a formation rout!

In a less impressive display of tank gunnery, the two Magach at the mouth of the I2 pass opened up on the Hails and missed.

Over at E1, the infantry stayed pinned and so kept their heads down.  The M113 thankfully remounted but proved unable to take anymore out of the Thuderbolts.  

As far as turns go, it could have been better, could have been worse.

Egypt

The IS-3 continued to grind towards the Magachs, now putting themselves between the E2 objective and the Israeli tanks.

The T-62 remounted, removing the immediate risk of the formation bolting.  The two remaining tanks returned the favour towards the two Magachs but couldn’t find their mark.

The Thunderbolt Infantry refused to unpin, so instead used their pioneer skills to dig in.  Instead the PT-76 aimed to exploit the suppressed status of the IDF and charge the infantry down in their foxholes!

The two tanks actually dodged the defensive 0.5 and rifle grenade for but failed to actually hit the rifle team in return.  The IDF passed the counterattack check and the second AT Rifle found its mark.  This spooked the surviving PT-76 which broke off.

Another turn hanging on!

Turn 7

Israel

The T-62 had proved somewhat resilient to fore so the Magachs turned their attention on the ZSU-57 which the two other Magachs pushed through the pass in the escarpment to I2’s zone of control. 
One ZSU brewed up but the other was missed.  Still, it was a potentially game ending last stand check each turn now.

The Magachs at I2 failed to kill any artillery again, this time thanks to gun saves on Duncan’s part.  But I was now in a position to be able to manoeuvre around the gun shields and assault in the next turn

Egypt

The ZSU didn’t run, keeping the game alive for one more turn.

The IS-3 continued their advance and were able to side shot one of the Magachs!  This was suitably catastrophic for the tank in question.  The T-62 tried to join in but again couldn’t get a shot to land.

Turn 8

Israel

The Magach facing the IS-3 passed its last stand check thanks to the CO being nearby and the two backed up to avoid any more IS-3 flank shots.

The Two Magachs at I2 tactical moved to the flanks of the guns then assault, killing two but annoyingly leaving one alive contesting the objective.  With a bit of luck it would run but no doubt Duncan would throw the SU-100 onto the objective to keep it going whilst he made one more push on E1.

Egypt

All of that became academic as Duncan failed his lasts stand check for the ZSU, forcing his army from the field.

All in all, I had lost a single platoon so scoured a 7-2 victory.

Conclusions

Lee

So, that was a fairly close game!

After defeating the T-62 ambush I thought I had it in the bag but ultimately I spent too much time not really doing much of anything with the Magach’s, letting the game go on longer than it needed to. Thankfully I got away with it by forcing a formation rout.

There was some outrageous luck, the CO survived three Sagger hits, but there was some bad luck to in the form of that Hail strike in turn 2 and the inability of the infantry to unpin.

So, what would I do differently?

Firstly, setting the infantry up under two artillery ranged in markers was always inviting disaster. As we can seem, one bad turn of dice and the mass of the platoon was greatly reduced and I was fortunate that Duncan wasn’t able to better eliminate the M113 that kept the Thunderbolt Company back. What I should have done was use my mobility better; kept the infantry mounted up, out of sight, and moved onto the objective in turn 2 or 3, forcing Duncan to commit his artillery and waste the firepower or re-range elsewhere. There is some risk with that; the infantry are always going to spend at least a turn exposed with no foxholes for safety and the Thunderbolt Company wouldn’t have been harassed by 0.5 fire for the first few turns. But my force is small and brittle, and squandering lives to an artillery attrition fight is not the way to go.

The Magach thrust towards I2 largely petered out as I got sucked into dealing with threats on the far flank, mainly because the Infantry were so battered I was worried they would soon crack. In hindsight I should have just kept pushing onto I2, clearing the artillery off it. I eventually did return to that but only made inroads as the Egyptians began to break anyway.

On the positive side, despite the battering, the infantry once again held the line whilst the Magach got to show what it could do with a slightly more favorable Magach:Target ratio! I was actually surprised how well they took the Sagger fire as I hadn’t really appreciated they were only AT18. Versus my front armour of 15, they are relatively survivable although being bailed can be a headache.

Its nice to have a win under the army’s belt, but it as a close run thing and some better dice on the ambush salvo or on dealing with the M113 would have probably tilted the odds to Duncan.

-Lee

Duncan

What a close run game! Every turn that the Magrachs and T-62s exchanged fire it felt like there was the potential for a significant swing, either way, could occur. 

On the plus side for the Egyptians were the performances of the Thunderbolt company and the artillery. The points investment in the Hails, 152mm guns and the observer were less that 10% of my overall force but they were able to put pressure on the Israeli forces right from turn one. My thoughts might be coloured by the devastating barrage from the Hails but placing that to one side the salvo and high FP 152mm were pinning and claiming a stand or two of infantry turn on turn.

Taking to Lee afterwards he was already thinking of counter measures for the artillery in a more balanced list and so the psychological affect of these troops, if nothing else, seems assured. 

The Thunderbolt troops really were stars. The initial defensive stance asked awkward questions for the Israelis and their speed and motivation meant that they were flexible enough to really take advantage of the punishment dealt out to the Israeli infantry. 

On the flip-side the internal imbalance of my list, based on the “ooooh shiny!” approach, was my ultimate undoing. The T-62s were more than a match for the Magrachs but their lack of staying power meant that using them aggressively fundamentally placed my force on the back foot once the larger platoon of five was destroyed.

Whilst the saggers, in this game, where disappointing I think that this was just “one of those games” and the reaction of Lee to them proved that they were enough of a threat not to be ignored. 

Finally a mistake on my part, aside from the formation composition, was keeping the IS-3s in reserve. Whilst they couldn’t hurt the Magrachs from the front they would have still kept them honest long enough for the whole T-62 formation to arrive and hopefully tip the scales in my favour.

There is potential in this list, I just think it needs tweaking. I’ve already assembled my other Thunderbolt Company and will look at building a force around that core with the T-62’s being ultimately expendable but a danger that needs to be dealt with. I also think that nine IS-3s in a single unit might be a little unwieldy so I will look at reviewing that in the future. 

I had a great game though and Fate of a Nation more than delivers as a fun set of rules that offers something for both sides of the Sinai. 
– Dunc

Category: A Fate of Four GamersAARArab-Israeli WarBattle ReportDesertFate of a NationList DiscussionRambling

3 comments

  1. Excellent report, and the photos are a model for clarity and usefulness.

    Gutsy move on the T-62 ambush. Had they shot better when revealed it could have been a game-changer in the other direction. Depending on how you were treating the shrub terrain (blocking LOS behind it?), I would have tried a shoot-and scoot to get some cover for the T-62s.

    Good game. A real slog. I can’t remember an AIW game I’ve had that’s gone so many turns. Thanks for sharing, gentlemen!

    1. Thanks for the feedback. Yep, Duncan’s ambush could (should?) have paid off and that would have really changed the nature of the game.

  2. Nice to see the pictures and report.

    The biggest advantage of the BM-21 is that they can provide smoke covering the approach of your tanks… a missed opportunity in my opinion.

    As for the Thunderbolt, go sagger! These little things are incredibly cheap for the type of nasty surprise they have in store especially if your opponent doesn’t have artillery to pin them.

    The Magach 6 are a bit over priced, I am actually thinking of going full M51s ISherman just for the number of tubes that can prove devastating together.

    The Egyptian army list looks a bit all over the place to have a coherent strategy… PT-76, SU-100, IS-3, 152mm mm, BM-21?… I generally decide a type of tactic I want to play and then get the tools to implement it. It leads to lists that play differently, with a slight advantage in one aspect or the other but usually they can hold their own. Having a bit of everything is a recipe to achieve less than a more structured list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Article by: Lee

Wargaming since Rogue Trader in 1990; I made the move to Flames in 2006 and have been with it ever since! I play at the Brighton Warlords most weeks.