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SABOW - M60 day attack!

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An uncertain turn of events in a later round in my Iran-Iraq War campaign!



My first M60 campaign in SABOW is proving to be something of a roller-coaster ride. And an expensive one! Back in daylight after the opening mission during the hours of darkness, we seemed to be doing quite well in mission #2, playing our part in the Iranian counter-offensive against the invading Iraqis. The culmination of my plans in that mission was a combined tank-infantry attack on a Iranian defended locality. With no artillery support and therefore no chance of a smokescreen, the risky part was a final dash over a stretch of open ground, to reach the objective. We had got about half-way across, when a tracer round zipped in from our right.




Next thing you know, our little force is being torn to bits by fire from an enemy T-55 platoon, which had decided to flank attack our flank attack. No matter how many times you have read accounts of battles like Operation Goodwood, it's still shocking just how fast a formation of tanks can be converted to scrap metal, But that's what happened. Most of the APCs survived the subsequent fire-fight, but most of our tanks didn't. Though the surviving Iraqi tanks withdrew and our objective was gained, it was at considerable cost.




Despite all that, the next mission, also in daylight, started promisingly enough. Overall, it seemed that our Iranian counterattack was going well and my formation, the 3rd Armored Brigade, was playing its part.




The next battle was a bit of a teaser, though. Intelligence apparently indicated that the enemy had decided to counterattack our counterattack, which of course they are perfectly entitled to do. This intention is shown by the large, triangular ,blue enemy arrow, pointing north-north-east. However, from the red, friendly arrow going the other way, it seemed we were also expected to attack, in the opposite direction, towards the enemy position marked 'Babylon1' - generating a meeting engagement. The smaller red and blue (more rectangular) arrows to the right apparently denote pre-battle moves, during the prior 'operational' phase, though why there are both enemy and friendly moves starting and ending in my territory, I do not know.




Anyhow I decided to try to box clever, resulting in the dispositions you can see above. I would stand on the defensive first, and destroy by fire from covered positions the anticipated enemy attack as it crossed the relatively open ground to the north of the central irrigation channel. After that - or if the enemy didn't attack, after all - I would then go over onto the offensive. This plan seemed more sensible than driving forward to meet an advancing enemy somewhere in 'no-man's land'. I always like to start a battle with a plan, even if it may be a bad plan and even if it doesn't survive contact with the enemy. They say that a bad plan is better than no plan at all. I tend to agree.


I had just three platoons, two of tanks and one of mech infantry. I put the latter in the woods to the west, to cover my right flank where the battle lines ran north-south. A tank platoon with three M60s I set up in the same woods, further east, placed so as to fire out over the open ground towards the expected enemy advance. Not very subtle but we had a key point, 'Xerxes 2' in that spot and I was determined not to lose that.


The more subtle part of this plan was the placement of my other platoon - which had five M60s - in a strip of wood over to the east. Their position had an irrigation channel to its rear whose banks might provide them with cover to move north or south if need be; but above all else it had a good overlapping field of fire with the other tank platoon, covering the open ground in front of 'Xerxes 1'. An enemy force attempting to advance across that ground would be destroyed by concentric tank fire from 'Xerxes 1' and from its right flank. As usual I had no artillery or air support, so this battle would be won or lost by the marksmanship and battle drills of my eight tanks. I felt reasonably confident that the combined fires of eight 105mm guns would make life very difficult for any Iraqis who ventured into my chosen killing ground.




I had made my plan and deployed my troops. Now, it was time to wait and see what the other guy had in mind.


...to be continued!

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The fourth option




So far, I've continued to deploy my forces using the map, rather than the 3-d option that recently became available in the re-launched SABOW. So my first task on starting a battle is always to have a look around. The three M60s to the north were on the southern margins of the wood, just where I had placed them on the map. I backed a couple of tanks individually, further back into the woods. They had no cover from view or fire to their direct front but set back inside the woods, the three tanks had decent fields of view and were reasonably inconspicuous, able to see and kill before they were detected. After the first few rounds, it would be 'shoot and scoot'.


Settling down behind the gunner's sight of one of these tanks, I scanned the open ground ahead, where the expected enemy attack could appear at any time. It was pretty barren, a good killing ground, just as I had planned. It had also proved to be a happy hunting ground for the enemy in the last mission! There were several knocked out tanks out there, including some of my M-60s from last time. Having been lost close to the front line, they had not been recovered. All part of SABOW's immersive dynamic campaign experience.




Continuing to check, test and adjust my positions, I switched to the right-hand tank in the platoon, which was facing more to the west, where I had deployed our mechanised infantry to cover our right flank. From the gunner's sight, between the trees, I could see the M113 APCs, facing enemy territory out to our west.




I next checked the positions of my five-tank platoon, and backed them individually behind the treeline, closer to the irrigation ditch to their rear. Then I switched back to the other tank platoon and settled down to wait.




I'm not sure if it was Clausewitz or another German general who said that in war, the enemy usually has three options, of which they will generally choose the fourth. So it was to be on this occasion. The Iraqis resolutely refused to drive into my more or less well-laid trap. At least, not right away. For a time, it was quiet. Then, suddenly, there was a contact report. The mech infantry had spotted movement - but it wasn't where expected, down to the south. It was way up on our western flank!


Confusingly, at that point there was an offer of a cease fire. I ignored this, and watched my right flank with some anxiety. I was naturally concerned about being attacked over there, where our mech infantry lay. But I was also reluctant to give up my area ambush plan...at least, until I really had to. Of course, if I didn't react quickly enough, I might be too late. Decisions, decisions!


I decided to take a chance. I watched and waited a little longer. I think they call this 'Developing the situation', in US Army Field Manuals. It went quiet for a while, and I was beginning to think it was just a random sighting. But after a few minutes more, there was another contact report. Enemy infantry, again. And for the second time, they were reported to be coming our way.




Was this a feint from the west, ahead of the attack we had expected from the south? Whatever it was, would I wait and see if our mech infantry could hold it, before committing my heavy armour? There was some covered ground on our right flank - where the enemy had been first sighted. Some of them could get quite close before I saw what was coming. I decided my five-tank platoon to the east could still 'man the fort', while I would take my three-tank platoon in a loop back through the woods and in come in behind my mech infantry. If the bad guys were mounting a serious attack from that direction, they were going to meet a little more than a few infantry weapons. I ordered column formation and led the three M60s back into the woods.




...to be continued!

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'A fist into water'



Approaching the western edge of the woods, I ordered my three M60s from column formation into line, keeping the spacing low in the close country. By this time, automatic weapons fire had broken out. From what I could see, most of the tracers were outgoing, .50 calibre stuff fired by our mechanised infantry at the enemy they had spotted to the west.


In the screenshot below, you can see both the situational awareness 'header tape' at the top of screen, and the crew position-sensitive command icons along the bottom, above which intercom and many radio transmissions appear as text.  I still sometimes turn these off for screenshots but have got quite used to leaving them on, even though I use hotkeys for some commands. They are well-designed, useful and relatively inconspicuous. All crew voices in SABOW are in Russian and while you do pick up some phrases, it's definitely useful to have the text display that comes with the lower icons. For some radio messages, you just get a sort of electronic beep which prompts you to call up the tactical map, where you can read the message in the message log.




Reaching the north-south irrigation channel that skirted the woods, I halted and searched for, but could not see, the reported enemies. Firing had died away, too. Now what?




Our mech infantry reported enemy troops withdrawing south, towards a crossroads which was marked by a large Iraqi flag and was thus a relatively important key point. This was now a tempting target, more so than 'Babylon 1' to the south-east. I made another Combat Appreciation and from that, a new plan. My aim would be for the mech infantry and my three-tank platoon, now in a good jump-off position on our right flank, to assault west over the irrigation channel and clear that flank. They would then go firm over there. While this was happening, my five-tank platoon would at first hold its position, covering my original killing ground, just in case the Iraqis down there showed up. If they didn't, we would move on to Phase 2. For this, my five-tank platoon would move west, to the front of the woods where my other forces had started. If the Iraqis still had not mounted their attack by this time, the five-tank paltoon would wheel left, face south, and assault the enemy 'Crossroads' position, with the irrigation ditch acting as their right-hand boundary. On the other side of the ditch, the other M60 platoon would lead the mech infantry and assault the same objective. A concentric attack would be delivered on two closely-spaced and mutually-supporting axes. Open flanks were a risk that seemed worth courting, for the prize that lay before us.


I didn't take a map screenshot at this point but below is one taken before launching the mission. By now, my three-tank platoon had moved back and up, and was set up on the left-hand edge of the woods overlooking the north-south irrigation channel, just under the word 'Initial'. The mech infantry (orange markers) are still just left of our flagged position at 'Xerxes 2'. My five-tank platoon is lined up in the trees to the lower right, at our position 'Darius 1'. My objective now is the position marked 'Crossroads', whose tactical importance is shown by the larger Iraqi flag there. If as planned we seized that position, we could exploit back to the south-east and attack 'Babylon 1', a smaller flag and thus a less important objective but a very possible Phase 3.




A few seconds at the map screen was all the time needed to convert this plan into orders. First, the mech infantry were ordered to attack due west. They encountered no opposition so I wasted no time pushing my three M60s over the ditch to support and join them, keen to acquire a line of sight beyond the shrubbery blocking my view due west. By this time, the weather had got rather duller but with some offensive action now developing, my morale was high and my senses, sharp.




Unfortunately, high morale and sharp senses are not an antidote to deep water. The irrigation ditch had shallow banks and didn't look that deep, but it was deep enough to choke the engine of my lead M60, whose crew quite understandably decided they weren't in the navy and it was time to get back on dry land.




The AI guiding the M113s and their infantry seemed to know better, for they sought out a ford. I led my two remaining M60s down to join them and was soon making my own way over, past a knocked-out BTR wheeled APC, this time without incident.






Once across, I ordered the mech infantry out to the west, to take up a covering position at the end of a row of trees. Off they went. Before moving on to Phase 2, we needed to go firm on the Phase 1 objective. In particular, I didn't want to be caught in the right flank by enemy forces who might be unseen, over to the west in the territory they still held. For now, the only enemies I could see were some scattered dead infantrymen.




Having ordered the M113s and our dismounted infantry out to cover us to the west, I turned my two remaining M60s south, to face our Phase 2 objective, the enemy-held Crossroads. The last live enemies the mech infantry had seen, had been troops withdrawing in that direction.




Now came the scary part. I ordered my 5-tank platoon to break cover and move west. I quickly put them into column formation, anxiously scanning left as we drove over the open stretch of ground we needed to cover, to get to the woods where we would wheel left and face the foe. I should probably have taken a route further north, opening the range to the enemy position at 'Babylon 1'. But as usual I was impatient and for the second time on this mission, I took a chance. If we took any fire, I was ready to turn into it and face the music. Off we went, ready for anything but hoping for the best.




...to be continued!

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'That's the way the world mission ends...'




For this phase of the battle - the assault on the enemy 'Crossroads' position - I spent some time with each of my tank platoons and lapped up the suspense. The first dose of the latter was from my five tanks driving across the front of the enemy to our south. The range was long but it was still a risk. I got as far as the large woods to the west without incident but instead of driving on into them and then turning sharp left, I decided to cut the corner and turn early towards the objective. This meant our left was less exposed to any possible last-minute interruption from the enemy. Side by side, we wound down the range to the crossroads and whatever waited for us there.




At this point I switched to my other M60 platoon, coming down from the north on the other side of the north-south irrigation channel. Even in the now-murky conditions, the two M60s made a fine sight, with the M113s and their dismounted infantry shuffling along to the rear.




As we closed in on the objective, I saw that there was a low bank running across my front and made for that cover, without pausing. As we rattled on, the five M60s coming in from our half-left started shooting, MGs mostly so likely at enemy infantry. The bad guys must have been on the far side of that little embankment, for I could not see them.




Some of our other tanks had somewhat bunched up across the irrigation ditch; in fact, I think one of them had slipped down and into the channel, to become my second ditched tank of the mission. As I watched through my gunner's sight - resisting the temptation to switch to the other unit, in favour of staying with the tanks supporting our more vulnerable APCs and infantry - I could see the muzzle flashes from coaxial MGs, snapping out intermittent bursts at a still-unseen enemy.




My own two M60s reached the low bank and halted. No sign of the enemy, apart from more corpses. Leaving the mech infantry to catch up, I now switched to the other M60 platoon and, with the first platoon covering from the bank, pushed across the channel. Naturally, having learned my lesson, we used the ford, right next to the crossroads. Climbing out the other side, I tried not to squish under my tracks the dead Iraqis scattered around.




This time there were no further drowned M60s and soon, my whole force had gone firm on the enemy side of our objective. Another piece of Iranian soil was back in the hands of its rightful owners!




However, there was to be no Phase 3 assault on the smaller enemy position to the east. SABOW now brought down the 'results' curtain, telling me that I had in fact been defeated! This, despite gaining ground, losing none, and having no casualties (the waterlogged M60s weren't counted) and killed some of the enemy. I gather that Graviteam plan to adjust the scoring mechanism to give greater credit for ground gained. The fact that - unknown to me before the battle - my forces greatly outnumbered the enemy may also have been taken into account, as may events beyond the immediate scope of this little fight. OK this particular minor skirmish certainly hadn't been a glorious victory, but it was clearly a win of sorts, for the Iranians.


So the mission had ended '...not with a bang, but with a whimper' and I'd have liked the chance to play on a little longer. But sometimes, missions which allow the player to pactice decision-making and the tactical handling of his troops - served up with a generous accompaniment of rather tasty suspense - can be more satisfying that Space Invaders-style shoot-'em-ups. So it was for me, with this mission.


I've been playing tanksims since the late 1990s, working my way through Panzer Commander, Armored Fist 2 & 3, M1 Tank Platoon 2, Panzer Elite, Steel Beasts, Steel Fury, T-34 -vs- Tiger and even some less well-known ones like iM1A2 Abrams and Spearhead! They have all had some features I enjoyed and I still play some of them today, for the things they do well, not least that other Graviteam product, Steel Fury - Kharkov 1942 which in its modded form, is one heck of a WW2 tanksim. Despite some initial reservations over the interface and the wargame element, I have to say that the re-launched Steel Armor - Blaze of War I have found to be simply the best tanksim I have ever played, certainly from the single player standpoint. And this, from someone not especially interested in its particular star tanks or theatres. The detail in which the tanks, their systems and their crews are modelled is outstanding and SABOW's terrains, missions and campaigns provide an exceptional living and growing battleground upon which to experience them. If and when Graviteam's plans for more tanks and more content for SABOW are realised, the future for tanksimmers will be a bright one indeed!



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These are reports are excellent fun.  


Reading them, I remembered all the good times I had in Armored Fist back in the day.  I've grabbed SABOW as a result, and it is every bit as good as I'd hoped.


Thanks for this, 33Lima!  I'm looking forward to the next round.

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These are reports are excellent fun.  


Reading them, I remembered all the good times I had in Armored Fist back in the day.  I've grabbed SABOW as a result, and it is every bit as good as I'd hoped.


Thanks for this, 33Lima!  I'm looking forward to the next round.


Thanks - glad you liked the report - and the sim!

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...and as for 'the next round' in my M60A1 Iran-Iraq War campaign, that was another daylight battle. I say 'daylight', but it was dark and dull with rain coming down in sheets. If nothing else it was a decent showcase for the recently-added shiny wet surface effect on your tanks. And the terra-forming from the passage of vehicles seems to result in a different, bumpier ride, as well, which was a nice effect.





The vehicle physics in SABOW are about the best I have seen, to the extent that in the mission's poor conditions, I could see and almost feel my driver struggling to keep her rolling in the ground softened by the drenching ran. Never mind the actual fighting, the experience of simply operating tanks 'in the field' is top notch. Your AI drivers feel human, not mere executants of keystrokes, all the more so with the latest pyhisics effects. Climbing a bank, now more than ever you can see the tank struggling and the fear of bogging down is palpable.




The fighting when it came was somewhat inconclusive. We gained a bit of ground but one of my M60s lost a track to an enemy round. SABOW awarded me a draw, which seemed fair enough, not least as having been on holiday for a while, I was about as rusty as any bare metal left out in the mission weather!




Speaking of weather, this is another SABOW strong point. Weather and with it visibility can not only change between missions, but even during the course of a single mission.


The rain eventually stopped and I drew another night mission. At the 'Operational' level map, I could see that my territorial gains over previous missions had driven a salient into the eastern flank of the Iraqi forces. I could also see that I had two potential opportunities for another advance. I could drive due east towards a village south of the small town of Derkhimi, where there was a significant key point (the large blue disc) but uncertain, possibly strong enemy forces. Or I could attack to the south-west, towards a less important key point defended by what appeared to be relatively weak enemy infantry and armour.




I juggled my (green) playable tank platoons so that I could pursue either option and having made my move, waited to see what battles SABOW would offer me. I got the south-western option, with three playable tank platoons, plus some static dismounted infantry over which I had no control and whose task would thus be to hold our own positions while I did the offensive bit.


It may well be that both sides' tanks in the Iran-Iraq War tended often to operate independently but I would like more often to find myself commanding a more balanced tank-infantry force. More often than not in this campaign, playing from either side, my tanks seem to be on their own. And either I haven't been allocated any artillery support, or haven't understood the manual's instructions for its use, for once again on this mission it was all down to my M60s. Fortunately, apart from some tricky terrain, we are operating in pretty good tank country and in the dark, their night-fighting systems mean my M60s can make the best of it. It also helps that I have ended up with three platoons at my disposal, one of whch has five tanks, against the more common three.


My next task was to look at the tactical map and make a plan, nased on which I would deploy and give orders to my three platoons.!


...to be continued!

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From the tactical map, I could see that I had a range of different Iraqi positions which looked worthy of attack. A prime aim would be to keep my force concentrated, for best effect and mutual support, 'Concentration of Force' being one of the more important principles of war. I wanted to defeat the enemy positions in detail, one at a time if possible, screening or avoiding other positions until their turn came.


I quickly decided to attack the main enemy position in a wooded outcrop of the Ishan al Khamarah hills, just north-west of a smaller friendly position at a nearby crossroads. This would both eliminate a threat to our crossroads position and provide a stepping-off point for my next move. This second phase would be to drive south and take the two smaller enemy positions at Ummayad 2 and Sumer 3.


For Phase 3, I would re-orient and attack to the west, destroying the enemy positions at another outcrop of the Ishan al Khamarah hills and to the south at Jalairid 1. Finally, if all still went well, for Phase 4 we would regroup, continue west and hit the enemy position at an irrigation channel ford. Now, that would be a good night's work, clearing the map of marked Iraqi positions and driving a big wedge between the enemy forces to the west and the soith-east.




In the tactical map screenshot above, you can see my three platoons ready for Phase 1, the attack on the nearest Ishaan al Hamar hills position (the alternative spellings on the map may reflect the neat SABOW approach of using Persian names for Iranian positions, and Arabic ones for those held by the Iraqis!). Tthe tanks are the diamonds (this is one of several selectable marking schemes you can choose between). My assault would consist of concentric attacks mounted by two of my three platoons - one coming in from just south of our position Darius 1, and the other starting south of Mithradates 2, on its left. My third platoon - the one with five tanks, indicated by the orange diamonds - I have placed further south-east. This will sit tight for Phase 1, acting as a reserve and as flank cover, in particular, preventing any interference from the enemy positions further south.


Having started the action, I jumped to the attacking platoon closest to the objective, as this seemed most likely to hit contact first. Sometimes, I will try to time attacks like these to be simultaneous; but this time, I wanted a slight gap between the two attacking platoons arriving on the objective: hit them with the second punch, while they're still dealing with the first one. Nothing new there; I believe it was standard practice for the Romans, in taking British hill forts, to mount a second attack from the opposite side, timed to catch the natives after they had all rushed over to fend off the first one.


I really like the SABOW active Infra Red night vision effect. It's rightly quite different from representations of passive IR (thermal) imaging and as well as seeing what your own tank's lights illuminate, you can also see the IR spotlights or headlamps of other AFVs, sweeping back and forth across the ground ahead. Ranges are realistically limited to a few hundred metres. The overall effect I find exceptionally convingng, limitations and all.




This particular night, the ambient light wasn't too bad; it was far from pitch black. In the screenshot below, you can see a little light escaping from open turret hatches (which I quickly ordered closed!) and vision ports and on my own tank, the brake lights have come on briefly. As I have said before, your AI driver feels like he's a real artificial intelligence, even to the point where, if baulked by an obstacle but ordered to carry on, he will attempt an avoiding manouevre. It's touches like this that I think make SABOW one of the very best tanksims, to my mind the best.




The fight I was anticipating never happened; the Iraqis had evidently bugged out (which subsequent sightings seemed to confirm). Nevertheless, I had a few tense minutes rolling up to and then into the broken ground of the objective, expecting something nasty to hit us from every dip in the ground or from behind every rock or piece of shrubbery.




But nothing came. With both attacking platoons having gone firm on the Phase 1 objective, I hardly needed to consult the tactical map, to see confirmation that we had taken our first key point. Phase 1 complete! So far, so good.




...to be continued!

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For Phase 2, my attention turned to the two small enemy positions to our south. My plan was now as follows. On my left, my five-tank platoon would ford the irrigation channel to its front and drive south, attacking the enemy at Babylon 3 (I have no idea why its name changed from the original map sceenshot, despite still being in Iraqi hands). In my centre, a second platoon would also drive south, attacking and clearing the Iraqi position, nearby to the west.


Conscious that stronger Iraqi forces lay further west, my third platoon would move up and adopt a blocking position on my open right flank, where a small pond lay at the south-eastern corner of a large rectangular wood.




Having given each platoon its orders, I jumped to the platoon leader's tank in my 5-tank platoon, anxious to supervise its risky crossing of the irrigation channel at the start of its move. In line formation, down we went, into what looked like a shallow channel with not-too-steep banks...I hoped.




The SABOW AI drivers seem quite competent if sometimes a bit hesitant and this time, they generally got across fine, though one tank struggled to get up the bank on the way out, as did my own, perhaps because I took over the driving! One of the tanks seemed to hesitate on the near bank and I jumped to this and drove that over too, at one point sufficiently concerned to allow headlights to be turned on.




As the last tank was climbing up the bank and out of the channel, I noticed that our five tanks were actually four, plus what appeared to be the dismounted crew of the fifth tank. Strange, but there was no time to ponder what was going on there. Off we went!




Without the need for obstacle-crossing, the other two platoons had made good time. While one held the blocking position on my right, the other had soon moved ahead and occupied its objective, which was duly re-marked with the green-white-red Iranian flag and re-named accordingly, becomming Assyria 2.




The only excitement that I recall in all of this was that the blocking platoon had a brief contact with some enemy infantry in the woods, whom it drove off to the north. It seemed possible that these men were refugees from our Phase 1 objective. I thought for a little while about mounting an operation to hunt down and destroy them but the contact quickly faded and I guessed that these Iraqis likley didn't amount to a serious threat to our positions, now behind us. So I decided that it was time to apply the master principle of war - selection and [as in this case] maintenance of the aim. I would proceed with Phase 2.


My four-and-a-half-tank platoon had a more exciting time in taking its objective, so I was glad I'd stayed with that one. First, we had a slightly errie encounter with the wrecks of some of our own AFVs from a previous battle, as they came into the range of our IR spotlights.




The next sighting was the enemy! I was playing as the gunner in the platoon leader's M60 when my TC called out an APC, slightly left. Laying the gun onto the direction indicated, I got a shock to find myself staring at the business end of what looked like a BMP-1, with many infantry scattered around him. He fired first - I think it was with his 76mm gun, rather than a Sagger ATGM - but the tracer seemed to flash past somewhere overhead. A narrow escape!




I wasted no time in letting him have several APDS rounds, a wild overkill but he seemed to be on his own and I was taking no chances. In the pic below, my IR spotlight is briefly turned off for some reason; you can clearly see the difference that the IR illumination makes.




With the BMP finally starting to smoke, what followed was more of a massacre than a battle. We simply stood off and machine-gunned the dismounted enemy infantry. There were so many of them that I was concerned that there might be more APCs or IFVs nearby but I never saw any. Some of the enemy went to ground, some of them crawled, some of them ran briefly. We poured co-ax fire into anything that moved, conscious of the RPG threat.




The tracer effects in SABOW are rather good; they burn out at about 1100m as they should and they glow bright pink, which is just as I remember the 7.62 NATO variety. You have the option of letting tracers produce their own illumination, which you can see in the little pool of light on the ground under the nearest tracer in the screenie below. Beyond that, you can see some tracers ricochetting skywards, another well-done SABOW effect.



Finally, we were done and both the southern enemy outposts were in our hands. The BMP burned and the enemy casualties lay still and scattered round, pay-back for the Iranian AFV hulks we could still see from a previous battle for this very ground, now back in the hands of its rightful owners, hopefully there to stay.






Phase 2 complete! Two down, two to go...but would our good fortune continue to hold?


...to be contiued!

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Now it was time for Phases 3 and 4. My forces would swing through 90 degrees from south to west and hit the enemy positions over there, finishing up at an Iraqi-held ford over an irrigation channel running nearly north-south.




Our Phase 3 objectives would be the 'Ishaar al Hamar hills' position and the position marked 'Sumer 1', just south (the latter has confusingly changed names, during the course of the mission!).


The 'hills' position would be hit by a concentric attack from two M60 platoons. In the screenie above, you can see that on my right, the blocking platoon (3 red diamonds) has begun to move south-west from its Phase 2 fire position at the corner of the rectangular woods, while my strongest platoon (4 orange diamonds) is closing in from the east. Meanwhile, my third platoon has just started to move west from the key point it occupied in Phase 2, now headed for the Iraqi post at Sumer 1. By this time, as you can see from the 'message log', top right, the emeny has been asking for a cease fire. Which I naturally ignored.


This time I led my right-hand platoon, coming down from the north-east. We had a tense time in the run-up to the main Iraqi position but when we got there, found that it, too, was no longer occupied. The position further south also fell without a fight, to my right-hand platoon. Phase 3 complete and not a shot fired!


I quickly re-organised for Phase 4, the final drive to the irrigation channel ford, due west. My left-hand platoon I ordered to sit tight, to cover our open flank to the south and west. The other two platoons I sent due west, side-by-side towards the Phase 4 objective. Seemingly, it was now all there for the taking but there was still plenty of time for something, somewhere to go badly wrong!


Once again leading my right-hand platoon, it wasn't long before I had my first contact. We spotted what appeared to be a solitary T-55 and thus certainly an enemy tank. He was completely still and though apparently intact, could have been abandoned. But I took no chances and halting as he re-appeared from behind a prominent rock or termite mound, I started firing into his flank.




He was soon smoking. 'Where there's one enemy tank, there will be others', I thought, anxiously scanning left and right, waiting for the shooting to start. But all seemed still again. Nothing to be seen ahead, but the single T-55, now blazing steadily.




With the platoon back in line formation, minimum spacing, we moved off again. Still the enemy was nowhere to be seen, apart from that solitary burning tank.




As it turned out, the knocked-out T-55 was just the other side of the irrigation channel which marked our intended limit of exploitation to the west. He seemed to be the only defender.




And that was indeed the case. My other platoon rolled up beside us, ending any doubt that our Phase 4 objective, the ford, was firmly in our hands. Six Iraqi flags have been cleared from the map and replaced by our Iranian ones! A clean sweep, you might say.



By that time, more than the weak enemy opposition, I had become increasingly worried that SABOW would bring down the curtain before I had completed my little organised night tour of the batlefield and scooped up all the territorial gains I could make. I needn't have worried. If there's to be an Iraqi counterattack, it'll come in a future mission. The results screens appeared right on cue and confirmed what I knew already, that we had won. The 'minor' part of the 'victory' assessment may be because the stats showed that we had outnumbered the enemy and inflicted modest casualties; any way I'm glad that Graviteam have said they are going to make some adjustments to the scoring system, to give somewhat greater credit for territorial gains.






While I would prefer to see, in the average SABOW campaign battle, more representation of unit command elements and their role and presence on the battlefield; infantry (and artillery) more often under the player's direct command; and better marking up (eg of orders and objectives/waypoints) on the tactical map, I really can't fault SABOW. There's still stuff I haven't worked out (like the significance of the 'Objectives changed!' messages you see from time to time) and features I haven't used but I now firmly agree with others who have already said that it's a superb tanksim. I'm finding the extra tactical or wargaming element adds a very immersive and complementary role for the player, presenting you with various kinds of tactical problems and situations to solve or otherwise respond to, which I am really relishing. Thanks partly to this and partly to the excellent implementation of the virtual tanking itself, even a relatively uneventful mission has plenty of interest and challenge. There's still plenty of opportunity for 'pure' tanksimming; and as with that other top-notch tanksim, Steel Beasts, you also get to play both a first class tanksim and an excellent platoon-company-battalion level tactical simulator. Not to be missed, in my book.



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