Chinese Farm is a board game simulating operational level ground combat between Egypt and Israel at the Battle of The Chinese Farm during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The game is an introductory level product with an emphasis on playability over simulation value.
Chinese Farm contains three scenarios. Scenario one focuses on the Israeli approach to and initial crossing of the Suez Canal. Scenario two broadens the first scenario to include Israeli efforts to secure the west bank of the Suez Canal, and adds IAF air strikes and Egyptian SAM defences. Scenario three reorients the Egyptian positions to allow a better defense, and is ahistoric in this regard. Each scenario is subject to the standard rules developed for Modern Battle Folio Series games but also contains scenario-specific rules and victory conditions.
Play is divided into eight 12-hour turns (scenarios two and three both have 12 turns) governed by the standard move-shoot sequence, zones of control, a terrain effects chart, and two differential combat results tables (CRT). Each player at the start of a new combat phase opts for either the Active or the Mobile CRT, reflecting differing levels of aggressiveness and risk of unit elimination. Air power is abstract and naval power is not simulated. The Egyptian player fields foot and mechanized infantry battalions, armored brigades, artillery, and mobile and static surface-to-air units and the Israeli player is provided armored and mechanized infantry battalions, limited artillery, and an engineer unit to bridge the Suez Canal. Units begin the game at set locations and both sides later receive reinforcements.
Victory is achieved by receiving the most points based on a combination of territorial objectives, enemy units destroyed, and unit ending locations.
Chinese Farm offers rather limited value in simulating Israeli efforts to cross the Suez Canal and Egypt's counter efforts. The map and scenarios are sufficient to develop a general operational understanding of the simulated events. Order of battle data is problematic, however, and most brigade and lower units have generic unit designations and some counters include unexplained letter designators. Those letter designators are abbreviations of the names of the IDF brigade commanders, and the full names can be ascertained from any detailed history of the conflict; the numerical designators are either IDF brigade numbers or Egyptian division, or independent regiment, numbers. Unit designators are irrelevant to unit positioning, and the accompanying materials do not describe how the opposing forces were arrayed historically. Information on Egyptian and Israeli doctrine, tactics, and equipment is also largely absent. The Designer's Notes and Player's Notes are sparse in adding context and do not include references or recommended further reading. The game was published in 1975 when there was little detailed information openly available. Unsurprisingly, SPI made some order of battle errors.
The game rules for the canal crossing are unrealistic in that some Israeli units are permitted to cross the Suez Canal absent engineer support. It is unclear how this would be occur as the canal was too deep to ford and had steep sidewalls, and the Israeli Army did not have amphibious vehicles (other than some M113 armoured personnel carriers), but relied entirely on engineer units to build temporary bridges. In contrast, Egyptian units may only cross the canal at the Ismailia Bridge, although historically the Egyptians had established a number of temporary crossings and retained a robust engineering capability. Moreover, the Ismailia Bridge was destroyed during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and had not been rebuilt, although the simulation appears to treat the bridge as intact and functioning.
100 die-cut counters representing Egyptian and Israeli units; a 17" by 22" hexagon-patterned paper map, two sets of random number chits, one standard rulebook for Modern Battle Folio Series games, and one exclusive rulebook for Chinese Farm.
Game Design: Howard Barasch
Physical Systems Design and Graphics: Redmond A. Simonsen
Systems Design and Game Development: Howard Barasch, Edward Curran, Jay Nelson, I. B. Hardy
Research: Col. T. N. Dupuy, B. Garon
Production: Manfred F. Milkuhn, Larry Catalano, Linda Mosca, Kevin Zucker
- Profile: Modern Battles: Chinese Farm, by Ed Carran, in Moves #24, December 1975
- Close Up: SPI's Chinese Farm and Golan, by Warren G. Williams, in Fire & Movement #2, 1976
- Spotlight: Games of the Arab Israeli Wars, by Keith Poulter, in Wargamer Vol.1 #2, 1977
- Elusive Victory: The Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947-1974, by Trevor N. Dupuy, Harper and Row, New York, 1978
- SPI's Modern Battles, by Donald Mack, in Wargamer Vol.1 #13, date needed
- A Survey of Arab-Israeli War Games, by Ian Chadwick, in Moves #55, February-March 1981
- On the Banks of the Suez, by Avraham Adan, Presido Press, 1991
- Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness 1948-1991, by Kenneth M. Pollack, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2002
- Crossing of the Suez, The, by Lt. General Saad El Shazly, American Mideast Research, revised English edition, 2003