Modern Armor Example of Play

Valley of tears, Golan Heights, 1973

The opening move by the Syrians during the Yom Kippur War, October 1973, was a massive armored push into the Golan Heights. At a critical point in the battle, retold in Avigdor Kahalani’s book the Heights of Courage, a handful of Israeli Centurion tanks turned back an entire armored brigade.

What does this engagement look like in Modern Armor terms? Do the rules allow historical outcomes? And what do they tell us about the tactical choices available to the Syrian and Israeli commanders on the spot?

The opening move by the Syrians during the Yom Kippur War, October 1973, was a massive armored push into the Golan Heights. At a critical point in the battle, retold in Avigdor Kahalani’s book the Heights of Courage, a handful of Israeli Centurion tanks turned back an entire armored brigade.

What does this engagement look like in Modern Armor terms? Do the rules allow historical outcomes? And what do they tell us about the tactical choices available to the Syrian and Israeli commanders on the spot?

The Heights and the Game Mechanics

The Syrian brigade of T-55 tanks is advancing, with the crew “buttoned up.” The rounds available to them are 100mm APDS and HEAT and gun stabilizers. In front off them is a tank ditch and beyond a substantial ridge. They have armored bridge-laying vehicles and bulldozers for the obstacle.

Facing them are 14 Israeli Sho’t in prepared positions, so they are hull down to the Syrians. These tanks have been re-armed with the British L7 105mm cannon and fire APDS, HEAT, and HESH. By the late 1970s these vehicles will have fin-stabilized ammunition and superior long-range accuracy, but they don’t have those rounds yet. Their guns aren’t stabilized, but they have ranging machine guns and this helps with long-range accuracy.

Stationary Centurions, with their commanders exposed can fire 105mm APDS or HESH:

  • 2000m (40″): 4-, +2 if target moving, -1 MG ranging = 5- vs stationary, 3- vs moving targets
  • 1500m (30″): 6-, +2 if target moving, -1 MG ranging = 7- vs stationary, 5- vs moving targets

Syrians, returning fire with 100mm APDS or HEAT

  • 2000m (40″): 3-, +3 if firing on the move, +1 target higher, +1 buttoned = N/A. (but stationary firers would get To Hit DR 2 on second fire phase vs same target)
  • 1500m (30″): 5-, +3 if firing on the move, +1 target higher, +1 buttoned = Moving firer N/A, Stationary firer 3-

Target Hull Down: If the target is hull down, roll a white and colored die for your To Hit Dr, and discard any roll where the white die is equal to or greater than the colored one.

Once Syrians close to 30″ (1500m) if they choose to stop and fire: Israelis hit on 7-. Syrians hit on 3-, and only if colored dr < white dr.

Moving on to To Kill results we see both sides can easily destroy the other’s vehicles if they score a hit.

Sho’t 105mm vs T-55AM, VII frontal armor

  • APDS base range 40″
  • HESH TK 8

T-55AM 100mm vs Sho’t VII frontal armor

  • APDS base range 40″
  • HEAT TK 8

What About Verisimilitude?

The situational advantages pile up impressively for the Israelis. Hull down, with commanders exposed, their chances to hit are far higher than the Syrians. Given the difficult terrain and the need to close, the Syrians are going to suffer far higher loses. As with the historical battle one of the biggest threats to the Israelis will be crew casualties from artillery barrages.

What Should the Syrian Commander Do?

Just like the historical Syrian attack, the best card in a weak hand is “Charge.” You’ve got to get vehicles in among the Centurions to erase the Hull Down advantage and smother them with numbers.