The game of Bar-Lev that my dad and I had been playing wrapped up last week. I managed to plug the hole in Syria and keep the pressure up in Egypt enough to prevent an Israeli comeback.
We could’ve drawn it out a few more turns, but there was no real chance for Israel to turn things around on either front.
One of the strange things about the morale break rules that is unlike any other war game I’ve played is how it boosts attack values but doesn’t necessarily do anything else. In most games I’ve played, when a side’s morale breaks, it usually does all sorts of things like negating zones of control, reducing attack values, prevents or reduces chances to rally broken troops, incurs overrun rules, etc. In Bar-Lev, once a side is broken, all attacks against units from that side receive a bonus of 1. To give you an idea of what that means, a 1-2 attack goes from a 17% chance of success to a 34% chance of success and a 1-1 attack goes from 34% to 50% chance of success. Note that those are already better combat odds than most board games give you on attack (partly because rather than adjudicating combat on a single table with one roll, both sides get to roll to see if they inflict casualties). So, rather than the game slowing down when one or both sides’ morale breaks, it becomes a bloodbath.
My numerical superiority in both theaters allowed me to continue throwing troops against the Israeli remnants; for every regiment of infantry or tanks blown away by Israeli artillery, there were more to take their place and press the assault. Once I managed to neutralize a unit or two with artillery and airstrikes of my own, I was able to move through ZOC to knock out the surviving artillery.
Of note, the Syrian Air Force was almost completely destroyed. I think that the mistake my dad made was concentrating his fighter sweeps in singular theaters. The Israeli fighter planes are far superior to the Arabs; with about half as many planes running missions, there is a 100% chance that at least 1 Arab plane will be shot down, while generally, even if the Arabs run all of their planes, they can never quite get sure thing kills the way the Israeli Air force does. We plan on playing again, switching sides, and I’m going to test this – after a few days, the attrition on the Egyptian and Syrian air forces will give me the dominance I’d need to run heli-attacks (which my dad never managed, because he could never get the needed +50% air superiority needed until the war was already lost). Unless I’m REALLY unlucky, if I split my air force consistently, I’m looking at around 3-1 or even 4-1 rate of air combat casualties.
Coming soon, more reviews of old SF stories.