Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Six Turn War - Fate Of A Nation AAR

This picture captures the Israeli side of the game perfectly...
Gaming returned to full form for the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts this past week with Dallas hosting.  We played "Fate Of A Nation", the Battlefront "Flames of War" rules supplement for the Six Day War.   The house was packed as many Conscripts stopped in for gaming and visiting after the summer, and some new Conscripts took in the atmosphere as well - I think there were about twelve people out - quite a crowd!
IDF forces before the game 
Part 1 of the Egyptian Forces

Part 2 of the Egyptian Forces
The scenario was taken from the Flames of War rules, one of the defensive battles from the rule book.  We imagined an Egyptian battalion commander on the second day of the war in the Sinai, seeing the army collapse around him, rallying some troops outside of the Mitla Pass to try and hold back the IDF spearheads and buy some time for his comrades to reach the (relative) safety of the crossings over the Suez Canal.

Conscripts receive their briefings before the game starts
The very small but hard-hitting IDF force would have six turns to capture the objective in the middle of the Egyptian half of the table.  Half of the (very large) Egyptian force would be in reserve.

M51s at their start points on the table 
The Egyptians lie in wait...
The IDF force was comprised of a total of 8 M51 Ishermans - one company commander, one platoon of three tanks and one platoon of four tanks, backed up with a mechanized infantry platoon in M3s and priority air support from the Israeli Air Force.

I wonder which Conscripts set up this particular deployment? :)
Egyptian AAA and Mech Infantry Command wait in the centre - the old house is the IDF objective
The Egyptians had a company of nine T-55s, a company of six IS-3s, a platoon of three SU-100 tank destroyers, a mechanized infantry company in BTR-152s and two ZSU-57-2s.  It was a LOT of stuff. With so many folks out to play, we subdivided the T-55s into two smaller companies - one of five tanks and one of four.  We also split up the mechanized infantry company into platoons, something not strictly within the rules, but whatever.

Air support arrives…but not much happens
Dallas, Indo, Kevin, Brian and Mike all took command of the Egyptians, while Dave, Graeme (hope I spelled that correctly) and Bill took command of the IDF.

M51s roll out - confident of victory...

This ZSU-57-2 was taken out by an M51 on the first turn…would end up as one of the few losses for the Egyptians in the game...
I have only played Flames of War a few times.  The last time we played "Fate Of A Nation", four Centurions took on like 20 T-55s and shot them to pieces in the space of three turns at the cost of only two tanks.  I expected the Sherman tanks would have similar results.  But we were in for a surprise!

"Hey - was that a hit from an SU-100?"
The M51s press ahead without their comrade - after all, their superior gunnery will surely prevail, right?
IDF radio net - "Hey! WTF???"
The Egyptians started with the SU-100s, the IS-3s, the ZSU-57-2s and the command element of the mechanized infantry deployed on the table, with the rest of the force in reserve.  The IDF's whole force started on the table.  The IDF players made plans to destroy the Egyptians one platoon at a time, counting on their terrible gunnery and weak morale to sink their superior numbers.

Egyptian armour tangles with the advancing IDF; one T-55 is lost, another bailed out, but they keep advancing
And yet…in the first turn, the D'Assault Ouragan made its first run, and only managed to bail out a couple of SU-100s.  What at first seemed flukey was in retrospect an ominous sign for the IDF and portent of favour for the Egyptians.  The bailed out SU-100s re-mounted, and promptly knocked out an M51.

Dallas takes out one of Kevin's M51s...

Kevin loses a second M51…ruh roh...
As the turns continued, the IDF players suffered a string of terrible luck with their tank gunnery.  In "Flames of War" you roll a Firepower Check to see if you blow up the target.  In many cases, with 105mm high-velocity shells from the magnificent gun on the M51, this is literally a 2+ roll.  But the IDF players rolled "1" after "1" after "1"…the tanks would bail out, and because they were not destroyed this would have serious implications for the IDF attack.

The tide of Egyptian steel threatens to overwhelm the IDF...
Meanwhile, the Egyptian players, beset by clouds of negative modifiers and struggling to hit the veteran IDF tankers, would roll very well and start to make a hit here and there - after all, they were rolling buckets of dice with so many tanks on the table - with more and more arriving every turn with the reserve rolls.  Dallas's T-55 company of five tanks weathered several turns of direct hits from IDF guns - either rolling Vegas with his front armour or cheering as Kevin and Dave would roll a "1" on the Firepower Check - to knock out several M51s.

Bill's mechanized infantry dismount to prepare for a desperate assault...
The poor M51s did not hold out well against direct hits from 100mm and 122mm guns - in fact, their armour could not stop the shells.  Even the roll of a "6" would not prevent the Egyptian guns from penetrating the old armour. 

And the Egyptian players were spot on with their Firepower Checks, knocking out one or two M51s every turn.  Considering the IDF only had 8 tanks, it was a loss rate the IDF force could not endure.

Dallas, Brian and Indo deal with the last of the M51s - that's 8 M51s lost in action!!
The air support had a rough night too…again and again, the bombs and napalm would have no effect, and when it did, the crew would bail out, as opposed to having the vehicle destroyed.

It ends in tears for the IDF…their mechanized troops are gunned down by the armour
The final scene - a devastating victory for the Egyptians of the United Arab Republic
The IDF fought to the bitter end, with Bill leading a last-ditch charge of his mechanized troops toward the objective.  But it was not to be - done in by a tidal wave of Egyptian armour, the IDF force was knocked out.  The IDF may have won decisively won the Six Day War, but last week they decisively lost the Six Turn Battle.

Cairo would have looked like as reports of the great victory were shared over the radio! Praise the gunnery of Dallas, Indo, Mike and Brian, heroes of the revolution!!
So that was our first real game of "Fate Of A Nation".  You will notice I didn't impose my usual mandatory minimum distances on the tanks or anything like that.  It certainly was a crowded table, but it was still a fun and very light-hearted game with lots of humour and sportsmanship on both sides.

Of course in the real Six Day War, the Egyptian army, leaderless, poorly deployed, shocked by the IDF attack and without any air cover, were utterly routed. But they did manage to put up tough stands here and there, so to me this game represented one of those instances - a sharp shock to an advancing IDF column, which would have been dealt with by a sudden hit from the flank by another IDF force.

I don't have a lot of experience with Flames of War, and chances are I missed/screwed up some rules that may have made things inadvertently tougher on the IDF players, but to me the game showed how the small elite IDF forces could really dish it out but, particularly in the old Sherman tanks, had a glass jaw.  There was very little room for error and bad luck, and the IDF players had terrible, terrible luck with their dice.  Those missed firepower checks on the first and second turns were decisive - if the Egyptian tanks had been destroyed, their companies would have started to melt away and it would have been a very different game.

Flames of War still has a few "gamey" aspects that I dislike, but overall it was a lot of fun.  It's a good excuse to move a bunch of toy soldiers around and blow them up!  I hope we can play this again sometime soon.  Thanks to Dallas for hosting, and to everyone who came out to play, watch and visit!


Moiterei_1984 said...

As it's a highly interesting setting to me I really enjoyed your report.

Braxen said...

Really nice models, thanks for taking the time to share this AAR.


Kevin Holland said...

Great game, Greg - thanks for putting it on! Probably would have been even better if I could have rolled more than "1's" all the time! :-(

Wargamer on Tour said...

Looks like a great game!