1973 – Yom Kippur War AAR

Today Duncan takes us through his latest scuffle with Lee’s #FateOfFourGamers IDF and the dreaded Magachs! Read on to see what happened when Thunderbolt hit the Sinai!

A little while back I wrote an article musing on revamping my #FateOfFourGamers 1973 Egyptians around a Thunderbolt Company formation rather than the brittle T-62 formation that I had initially conceived. This AAR is the live fire testing of that thought process and comes in the form of another fantastic game against Lee at the Dice Saloon in Brighton.

IR sees you 

The Egyptians

So, this will be short… my army was the same as I laid out in the previous article, here. I apologise in advance that only half the Thunderbolt troops were finished.

The Israelis

This is interesting, Lee was not fielding all his Magach 6’s.  Instead he had revisited his original #FateOfFourGamers list as outlined here, adding Priest artillery and TOW Jeeps at the cost of dropping a Magach and a smaller infantry platoon.

Magach 6 Tank Company

  • Magach 6 Tank Company HQ – 1 x Magach 6
  • Magach 6 Platoon – 3 x Magach 6
  • Magach 6 Platoon – 2 x Magach 6
  • M113 Infantry Platoon – 4 x M113, 5 x FN FAL, 1 x FN MAG, 1 x 60mm Mortar, 1 x Blindicide AT Team.
  • M7 Priest Artillery Battery – 4 x M7 Priest (105mm)
  •  Jeep TOW Platoon – 3 x Jeep (TOW)
The board with objectives down

Set Up & Mission

Lee opted for an aggressive ATTACK stance, I’d guess that this might be the case but then I began to second guess myself; should I ATTACK too, go MOBILE or, with my infantry core and static ATGW, go  DEFENSIVE?
I opted for a DEFENSIVE stance in the end and, I think in hindsight, it was definitely the wrong option.
Rolling on the More Missions chart we got Rearguard as the mission – I wasn’t displeased at all but Lee was a bit more vocal about me starting with my full 100pts on the table.

Having access to Minefields was helpful and I used them to curtail the more open side of the board away from the built-up area and secure my objectives; one to the left-hand side on an open stretch of road and the other on my right behind the town. Lee had placed his Ranged In marker on the left-hand objective and I had popped mine on the ridgeline in the centre of his deployment zone. 

Egyptian set up complete, including minefields

I then placed one Thunderbolt Company around and in front of the left-hand objective, supported by the 152mm artillery, with they’re Sagger AT missiles on the elevation to their left.

The other Thunderbolt Company then deployed around the built-up area in front of the other objective with their Saggers on the central rise in the middle of the table. The infantry in the town was supported by the IS-3 Platoon and PT-76 Platoon directly and their Sagger Teams had T-62s lurking behind the rise. Finally, the BM-21 Hails went right at the back of the board ready to try and suppress Lee’s infantry again.

PT-76 check out the urban highlights

In response, Lee deployed his short platoon of Magachs to the rear of the built-up area with lines of sight through to the skulking PT-76s. His intent was to keep these to threaten the left objective and also hit the IS-2 and T-62 in the flank if they tried to make a run on the Priests and the like.  The rest of his forces massed on my left with only the TOW Jeeps currently keeping low and out of sight behind a rise in the ground. It looked like my left hand Thunderbolt Company was going to be in the thick of things today. With set up complete the Israelis turn one – the storm was about to break on the Thunderbolt Battalion.

Israeli set-up complete

Turn 1

Lee started off his turn by immediately pushing forward on his right flank, hard. The infantry platoon racing through the rock outcroppings with their M113s hanging back to provide covering fire if needed (A polite way if saying Lee actually forgot to move them!).

The Magachs covered the infantry’s left-hand side and prepared to rain down 50cal fire on the Thunderbolt troops dug in behind the minefield. The jeeps successfully Blitzed up on to the ridge-line and prepared to launch their TOWs at the IS-3s and T-62s in the distance.

The firing phase saw the left-hand Magach pair take aim down range with four shots at the PT-76s, successfully hitting twice and knocking their targets out with ease. The TOW jeeps let loose their missiles at the IS-3s but only successfully located one of the skulking Egyptian tanks, easily passing through the heavy plate armour. The ranged in M7s, Magachs and Infantry cleared out 1 of the 4 Sagger teams leaving the Egyptians precariously placed in terms of high value AT on my left and concluded a pretty successful turn for the Israelis.

At the start of the Egyptian turn, the bailed-out T-62 refused to remount but both pinned Thunderbolt Companies rallied successfully. The IS-3s revved their ageing engines and lumbered forward at the dash to put some pressure on the TOW jeeps and small Magach platoons on my right. The PT-76s skirted the town dashing into cover to avoid the fate of their brethren. The T-62s decided to avoid failing their Blitz move and instead trundled up to the ridgeline to add some fire into the Magachs. 

The firing phase started off extremely well with the 152mm guns ranging in on the TOW jeeps first time and blowing apart two of them in the resulting barrage. The Hails ranged in on their second attempt on the Israeli M113 infantry, killing a single FAL stand but importantly pinning them down.

152mm shells don’t leave much of a Jeep behind…

Even more pleasing was the large platoon of Magachs losing two of their number to a devastating volley of Sagger missiles but the T-62s failed to capitalise on this, missing the remaining tank altogether.

A more historical outcome than previous Sagger vs Magach 6 duels in our other games!

Turn 2 

Lee realised that he needed to put some serious pressure on this turn as the Egyptian firing had had a withering effect on the Israeli troops. The surviving TOW jeep had seen enough of this fight and retreated from the battlefield but the single Magach easily passed it’s Last Stand check and soldiered on.

The Israeli infantry answered their rallying cry and began moving forward again towards the heights where the Sagger missiles had launched from, eager to take swift revenge for their armoured colleagues. They were supported by their M113 transports and the remaining Magachs – both had their MGs cocked and ready to put out all the suppressive fire they could muster.

On the left, the Magachs stationed around the village re-positioned to plug the hole left by the TOW jeeps and counter the relentless advance of the IS-3s in the centre.

As the Egyptian firing phase was vicious last turn so was the Israelis this turn. The M7 continued to bombard the ridgeline occupied by the Saggers and the T-62s and smashed the remaining Sagger under the crippling Repeat Bombardment.  The fire from the M113s, Magachs and Infantry smashed into the Thunderbolt troopers and killed another Sagger.

The Israeli infantry then fixed bayonets and charge up the bluff clearing it of the remaining pockets of Thunderbolt troops clinging on that side of the hill, and ending up on the minefield but with no consequences this turn.

PT-76 looking good but becoming the first unit to take a strategic withdrawal.

This has already been a seriously bloody encounter. The Thunderbolt companies both rallied again – the unit on my left-hand side regrouping around the objective and digging in. The IS-3s continued to plough forward at maximum speed towards the small Magach platoon while the PT-76s made their way through the town trying to find an exposed flank of the Magachs and take advantage.  We then remembered that I needed to withdraw a unit so the PT-76 subsequently popped smoke and legged it!

In the Egyptian firing phase, the Hails continued to plaster poor Israeli infantry but only managed to pin them down again. The 152mm guns landed again on the ridgeline but the top armour of the Magach was a very different proposition to the unprotected jeeps and nothing happened with their barrage. The T-62s scored two hits on the Magach that they could see in the open but the thick armour of the M60 turned their rounds aside easily with no effect.

Turn 3

The Israeli infantry rallied again and the lone Magach passed it’s Last Stand again so it was on to the Israeli movement phase. The Israeli Infantry easily clear the minefield that they found themselves occupying and positioned themselves to start firing down on the Thunderbolt troops and the 152mm guns. The Magachs repositioned to allow them to move through the area now cleared of mines while the other Magachs relocated to try and deny their flank to the IS-3s.

In the Israeli firing phase picked off a couple more stands of Thunderbolt troops on my left and pinned them down but fortunately, the M7s ranged in on that side but caused no casualties. The thickest of WW2 armour frustrated the Magachs that fired on the IS-3s despite hitting them twice but the other Magach claimed a T-62 on the ridgeline.

Over to the Egyptians and the first thing I had to do was to remove a platoon as per the scenario and fortunately the PT-76s were able to be sacrificed with little consequence.

It was at this point I mentally bemoaned the lack of range integral to the Thunderbolts; with only an 8″ range I felt I had to take the fight back to the Israeli infantry. Rallying and then clambering out of their foxholes the Thunderbolt troops on my left prepared to throw their opponents back away from the objective.

On the left, the IS-3s barrelled forward closing in on the Magachs again and now were supported by a flood of Thunderbolt troops re-positioning themselves to relieve their compatriots on the left-hand side. Two IS-3s managed to get a side shot on the Magachs and cheekily managed to claim a palpable hit on the closest Magach smoking it with their 2+ Firepower.

Between the close range fire, defensive fire and assault of the Thunderbolt troops the Israeli troops were reduced to seven stands and then four stands respectively; both had spent themselves clawing at each other desperately seeking a weakness or a chink in the other’s defences. The 152mm guns decided that discretion was the better part of valour this turn and declined to fire.

Finally, the T-62s found their fire ineffective against the Magachs again; scoring one hit that was easily turned aside by their stout armour.

Turn 4

The Israeli infantry rallied and both the Magach platoons makes their Last Stand again, albeit with the help of the CO. This time the Israelis moved up towards the left-hand objective more cautiously supported by M113s and the remaining Magachs. On my right, the Magach dived further into the town trying to lure away the IS-3s.

The Israeli firing phase began with an utterly crippling salvo. The Repeat Bombardment claimed two 152mm guns and reduced the Thunderbolt company to just three stands – one of which was a MANPAD team! The Magachs fired at the T-62s claiming a bailed tank and the M113s clipped off another Thunderbolt stand.

With no assaults, this turn is was over the Egyptians to respond. I chose to remove the Hails as my next platoon to have to be withdrawn, mainly due to the Israeli infantry being so banged up and the need to keep the 152mm guns in the fight – even if that was just temporarily. The 152mm guns passed their Last Stand with elan but the Thunderbolt company also survived with the reroll from their CO and dug back in. 

The T-62s made a mad dash to the objective to sure it up and also contest it with another platoon. The IS-3s moved off to threaten those blasted Priests while the other Thunderbolt Company continued it’s marathon to place more pressure on the Magachs and Infantry in the centre.

The moving IS-3 fire claimed a single Priest but the T-62s again could not find their targets amongst the smoke around the war-torn objective. 

Turn 5 

It was getting down to brass tacks now and the Israelis made one more phenomenal push to secure the objective on the left but also to sneak a victory by making a dash to take the right-hand objective I had been forced to leave largely unguarded.

Lee passed his Last Stand checks for the Magachs and moved up to contest the left-hand objective. On my right, the single Magach made a beeline for my right-hand objective foregoing any firing on that side. The Magach and Magach CO claimed two more T-62s this turn and the barrage of the Priests, who stoutly resolved to ignore the IS-3s pressing down upon them, smashed into the head of the next Thunderbolt Company killing four stands and pinning them down.

With again no assaults, it was over to the Egyptians. The two stand Thunderbolt Company passed its Last Stand but the other Company failed to rally. I chose to remove the final 152mm gun as I had reinforced that side as much as I was able.

I was forced to pull two of the T-62s away from the left-hand side and try and deal with the final Magach on my right but their shots missed as did the T-62 still over on my left. The IS-3s claimed another Priest but it seemed far too little at this stage of the game.

Turn 6

This turn the single Magach that had been threatening the right-hand objective failed its Last Stand and quit the field (huge sigh of relief – Duncan). 

Lee continued to press the left-hand objective with the Magach CO and M113s in support. This was going to be it. 

In the firing phase the Priests tried to range in on the larger remaining Thunderbolt Company but in a flurry of poor dice only managed to come in on the 3rd attempt and the resulting barrage failed to score any hits. The persecution of the Thunderbolt troops continued with the M113s pouring 50cal fire into them claiming another three stands of troops and pinning them down. Finally, the Magach CO opened fire and decimated two more T-62s – hammering the Egyptian AT assets to the point of collapse.

With no assaults, it was over to the Egyptians to respond and to try and remove the Israelis from the left-hand objective. The Thunderbolt troops critically rallied this turn meaning that there was a little hope of removing the M113s from the objective with some short-range RPG fire. 

The T-62s that had repositioned to counter the Magach on the right now swung back to the left again with the one remaining on that side staying stationary. The IS-3s, realising the danger, ignored the remaining Priests and swung back towards the Egyptian objective under siege by the Israeli forces. 

In the firing phase the 14.7mm MG fire from the IS-3s opened up with little effect, equally effective was the fire from the Thunderbolt troops. Finally, the lone T-62 fired across the burning wrecks of it’s compatriots at the Magach supporting the M113s, requiring a 7+ to hit. Hail Mary time. 

A 6 and then another 6; a hit – a very palpable hit! Followed by a roll of a 1 from Lee and the Magach CO finally fell. Unbelievably, we realised that this would force the Magach formation to break at the start of the next Israeli turn. An amazing end to fantastically close game. 

Final Thoughts

From the Egyptian side of the battlefield, the core Thunderbolt formation certainly gave me far more confidence than the T-62 formation ever did. The Saggers were startlingly good this time around and I think that sometimes more is more with assets like these. What I mean by this is with only 2 Saggers targeting and removing these is relatively straight forward, but 4 takes some consideration and the saturation of fire they can deliver is certainly scary. 

The downside of no long-range anti-personnel weapons is not something that I had really give much thought to prior to this game amongst the Thunderbolt troops. I think I will have to adopt a much more aggressive stance in the future with them to maxmise their advantages and minimise their disadvantages. 

I’m still unsure on the T-62s – they are the only Egyptian tank that can take on a Magach head on but I’m not sure that is what I should be doing anyway so that seems a benefit that might not be the best yard stick to measure them by. I’ve got T-54s that I think might be interesting to try out but at the moment I think  that the T-62s will make future lists almost by default. 

Again I was really impressed with the double artillery again. The large template of the Hails and the hard-hitting power of the 152mm battery gives the force real ability to reach out and affect your opponents lighter assets. The ability to anchor an objective on the 152mm guns and also have the Hails as part of the Thunderbolt formation are just bonuses to a great force selection. 

On the Israeli side, Lee noted that he would have been better served firing smoke in the first turn to protect the Magachs from the Sagger fire.  Additionally, the short magach platoon should have ignored the IS2 and gone for the left hand objective earlier, no doubt drawing the IS-2 towrads them anway.  As always, the Israeli infantry had performed above and beyond the call of duty and the Priests had also done sterling work.  The short Magach platoon was not the liability that Lee had feared, although it had eventually ran once one of its number was brewed up.

I hope you have enjoyed this AAR as much as I enjoyed the game; until next time.

2 thoughts on “1973 – Yom Kippur War AAR

  1. Interesting. Saggers are an auto-buy, as many as possible. Egyptian tanks are better served threatening the Israeli soft assets rather than going head to head with Israeli tanks. The TOWs were received by the end of the war but not really used operationally.

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