This article originally appeared in Pyramid #16
Published by The Gamers, Inc.
Designed by Al Sandrick
I guess the time period first intrigued me about Yom Kippur, the fourth and latest game in The Gamers' Standard Combat Series. With the exception of Force Eagle's War, The Gamers has steered clear of "modern" games, in favor of WW II era subjects. Yom Kippur is only the company's second endeavor into recent history, if you call 1973 recent.
As anyone active in the wargaming arena should well know, The Gamers produces games in series, such as the Tactical Combat Series, the Operational Combat Series, and the Civil War, Brigade Series. Each of the company's games comes with a series rulebook with the standard rules, plus a book unique to the particular game providing the special rules and the scenarios.
As I've remarked in earlier reviews, this uniformity allows a player familiar with earlier games in a series to set up and play a later game within minutes. In fact, as owner of all but one of the previous SCS games, I was playing Yom Kippur within 20 minutes of opening the box. That's a refreshing change for those of us more interested in playing than reading.
That's not to say that the game is the same old thing; many features of Yom Kippur distinguish it from earlier games in the series. When I first opened the box, the counter quality dazzled me. The counters seem to have a glossy finish and the armor counters sport impressive artwork. The game map is also of fine quality, though not any more so than earlier games.
Components aside, the system is smooth and flexible; the SCS adjusts to modern warfare nicely. The core rules are the staple "move-attack-exploit move" with which most of us are familiar. The "chrome" provides additional rules on supply (trace to the nearest HQ, for the most part), air units (can be used for barrage factors like artillery or for column shifts), the Suez Canal (armor needs a bridge, infantry can cross at the cost of all MP's), and a host of other things. As a whole, the rules fit together seamlessly and work intuitively; most of the "modern" aspects of the game merely add to, rather than modify, the core rules.
Several scenarios are included, mostly variations on historical events. The historical scenario is interesting because of the constant ebb and flow of the battle. Most games have a definite attacker and defender, with (maybe) one change in the tide. Yom Kippur changes posture from turn to turn. Turn one belongs to the Egyptians, who pour across the Suez en masse and kick butt against the static line of Bar Lev forts. By the end of the Egyptian phase of turn two, Egyptian units have almost reached the Israeli map edge. With the coming of the Israeli reinforcements in their portion of turn two, play time's over. But beware Israeli player, those precious, and powerful, armor units are extremely fragile (one step each, usually) and the Sagger loss rule is in effect the first three turns. This rule provides for an extra armor step loss on most combat results for the first three turns. Massed armor is quite powerful, but I lost most of a division to Saggers during my portion of turn two and it was not fun. I spent the rest of the game trying to recover armor losses, which, fortunately, the game provides for.
With good rules, a great scenario, and beautiful components, I have little to complain of. Of course, you knew I'd find something. First, many of the "modern" aspects I looked forward to were abstracted quite a bit. Air units are basically "air points" and SAM units merely restrict where these units can and cannot operate. Airmobile is represented by so many steps in lift capacity, with no possibility of interference with the mission (though you cannot airlift within range of enemy SAM units). In sum, the effect of air capabilities is felt, but the meat of the system lies on the ground. Second, the glossy counters make for stacking problems. The slick surface means that they slide around quite a bit, especially on map creases. If you're going to play, buy some drafting tape and pull the map taut, else a stack of Israeli armor will tip over and slide all the way to Cairo (off the map).
Aside from these two (admittedly minor) complaints, Yom Kippur is an outstanding piece of work and a fine addition to the SCS line. I highly recommend it to players interested in this era or subject and to those looking for a quick and simple game that still has plenty of chrome. I, for one, anxiously await the next game in the series.
- Jimmie W. Pursell
Article publication date: December 1, 1995
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