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Posted on Mar 30, 2006 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

After Action Report: The Valley of Tears

By Mark H. Walker

The Valley of Tears is a tactical game that simulates the Syrian attack on the Israeli’s 7th Armor Brigade’s sector of the Golan Heights in 1973. The counters represent armor and infantry platoons and the hexes approximately 200 meters. To win, the Syrians must force their way across the anti-tank ditch, battle through the Israeli lines, and exit nine armored platoons off the west edge of the map.

Turn One:

Neither side receives air support. The Syrians choose to attack at the south end of the AT ditch. The Israelis meet the initial assault with a horde of fire, reducing and disrupting several platoons, eliminating one. The Syrians return fire, and manage to reduce one Israeli Centurion platoon and disrupt another. This is critical. The Israelis don’t place any mines, thinking they can concentrate those on the AVLBs. They soon find that’s a mistake.

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Turn Two:

Israeli air support arrives in the form of two Skyhawks. The Syrians counter with a Mig. The blue team decides to order one Skyhawk to fly CAP over Tel Hermonit, in case the Syrian commandoes attempt to chopper in. 

The Commandoes do arrive, but divert to the Israeli tanks on the front line firing ramps, intending to wreak havoc and give the AVLBs time to bridge the AT ditch.  The Israeli fires at the approaching commandoes and the AVLBs, causing horrendous casualties to the AVLBs. The handful of Centurions that did not take part in the AVLB slaughter focus on the BMP-1 and their deadly Saggers, disrupting two out of three. The M3 mortar succeeds in disrupting one of the two remaining stacks of Syrian commandoes who have landed on Booster, and the remaining Skyhawk finishes off the last AVLB.  Things look good for the Israeli… or do they?

Focusing all their firepower on the AVLBs has indeed wiped out the first wave of Syrian bridging equipment, but left the horde of Arab T-55s largely untouched. That horde (approximately 45-55 tanks) now fire at the Israelis. The result is devastating, striking a serious blow to the Israeli southern flank.

Turn Three and Four:

The Israeli continues to focus on the Syrian AVLBs and Sagger units. The IDF player also is very lucky with his reinforcement table rolls, receiving five M51 and three Centurion platoons in the first four turns. The IDF’s neglect of the Syrian’s armor has begun to tell, and the Syrians have knocked out nine IDF tank platoons, and managed to place two, albeit disrupted, AVLBs on the anti-tank ditch at the end of turn four.

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Turn Five:

The Syrians pour over the two AVLBs and fan out on the west side of the anti-tank ditch. The Israeli reinforcements and refitted tanks advance to meet them. The Israeli places his final mines under the advancing Syrians; they have little effect. Syrian air strikes disrupt a stack of IDF reinforcements, and an Arab artillery barrage disrupts one of the IDF M3 Mortars.

Turn Six and Seven:

The IDF pays for solely engaging AVLBs for the opening turns of the game, as a seemingly endless stream of Syrian tanks gush across the anti-tank ditch. Nevertheless, the IDF reinforcements begin taking their toll and their long range fire blunts the Syrian spearhead, disrupting most of the lead Syrian armor platoons.

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Turn Eight and Nine:

Now the IDF reinforcements, along with some lucky rolls on the Air Support Table, begin to take their toll. Although the Syrians have the better part of five battalions on the Israeli side of the anti-tank ditch, the Centurions’ and Shermans’ long range cannon fire –coupled with the IDF’s ability to shoot and then scoot– is rapidly chewing up the Syrian armor.  To make matters worse, the AVLBs have proven to be a bottleneck, and the BMP-1s are having a tough time getting into position to bring their Sagger missiles into play. In short, it doesn’t look good for the Syrians.

Turn Ten:

By the beginning of turn ten, the Syrians have solved their traffic problems, placed their BMPs in supporting positions, and are ready to crush the remaining IDF armor platoons. As the T-55′s and T-62s rumble across the rough Golan Height tundra the remaining Israeli tankers are faced with a tough decision. Should they attrite the Syrian tanks or attempt to eliminate the supporting BMPs?

The Centurion’s cannon crack repeatedly, and tens of Arab tanks falter, smoke streaming from their engines. The remaining Syrians return fire, decimating five Israeli platoons, but it is too little too late. The game ends with the Syrians within 750 meters of the edge of the map, but none of them exit.

The IDF wins, but you can chalk this one up to better than average IDF luck on the reinforcement table. If the IDF reinforcements had taken longer to arrive, the Syrians would have crushed what paltry forces they faced after they crossed the anti-tank ditch. Going exclusively for the AVLB kills in the early part of the game, may garner a quick win, but if it doesn’t it leaves the Israeli player a tough row to hoe.

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