Soli Deo Gloria!
This is the abridged record of my second solo game of FAB: Golan '73. In my previous game, the Syrians had been stymied at every turn, so I was already wondering how they could possibly make a game of it.
Quick comment on solo-play: I solo block games by setting up the blocks as usual and walking around the table to play each side. While the fog-of-war is not as strong as when facing a real opponent, it works well enough for my purposes. Likewise, I played the strongpoints randomly face-down, so neither side knew which were which until they were revealed.
The Syrians had a solid, unspectacular first turn. I discovered a rule (two free Breakthrough Combats on turn 1) which I had completely missed on my first play, which helped them somewhat. They made a small breakthrough in Tel Farza, which allowed the armor unit in reserve to advance to Mt. Yosifon.
Turn 2, the Syrians got some hot dice, destroying both the 71/7th and 75/7th units. This blew the north side of the map wide open, and the Israelis were forced to send some reinforcements (the Golani brigade) that way to try and stabilize the area. It was at this time that I discovered there's no road access up to the north end of the map west of the escarpment! This slows down strat-moves considerably!
Turn 3, the highlight was Operation Dugman 5. Up till that point, only 1 SAM asset had been used (to no effect), so 4 were still in the Available Box. Unfortunately, Dugman 5 yielded two 10s and nothing else! This killed both Israeli Air Support Units and made it impossible for the Israelis ever to get any more, as no more SAMs would ever be used. Major pain!
Also in turn 3, Nafakh and Tel Abu-Naida were surrounded, at great expense in Special Actions; and the 82nd Airborne dropped on an undefended El-Al.
During turn 4 the Israelis were able to form a line, holding safely everything behind the escarpment, except Banias in the north, which was taken in a lightning dash by the 3rd Tank division. This cut off both units of the Golani brigade. Tel Abu-Naida surrendered, but Nafakh, with an elite garrison, held on, despite being disordered with Electronic Warfare.
Turn 5 the Golanis got destroyed and the Syrians firmed up a defensive line on the east side of the escarpment. That seemed to be the end, as the Syrians needed 6 VPs for an auto-win and had 7. However, the Israelis, with nothing to lose, blew several Special Actions on replacements and made costly attacks all along the line. These were generally repulsed, but in the far north, they smoked the 81st brigade, for a 2-point swing (1 for the unit, 1 for the VP area it was holding.)
And then, in the supply phase, the 679th surrendered in Nafakh, giving 3 points back to the Syrians for the auto-win.
Some reflections after the session:
Artillery really stinks in this volume, with the -1 to attacking artillery and the preponderance of armor. Rolling for a 3 isn't great odds; if the Syrians are facing field works, it's usually better for them to use an engineer, of which they have several.
I wonder if it's worth it for the Syrians to play SAMs at all. I realize the Israelis were unlucky with Dugman 5, but in this game, NOT playing SAMs neutered the Israeli air-force - which is counter-intuitive, to say the least!
The Syrians need to push hard in the first two or three turns, before the big Israeli reinforcements show up!
Counter-battery fire was somewhat effective for both sides in this game, knocking out artillery for two and three turns. Of course, given the stinkitude of artillery (point 1 above), this might be of minimal impact.
Thanks for your report! I also had a Syrian win yesterday, it takes some practice to play the Syrians!
As for the artillery, historically it was very ineffective for both sides and played no major role. Lack of numbers for the Israelis and lack of effectiveness for the Syrians. I always play with the optional artillery rules, as they do their job best in these roles (historically as well).