Imagine being the one to make all the decisions and command the Israeli army and lead the political echelon through the Yom Kippur War. All the consequences - good or bad - rest on your shoulders.
The opportunity to be supreme commander can be yours as you play Sagger – an interactive strategy simulator.
The name of the simulator, Sagger, comes from the weapon that was used en masse by the Egyptian and Syrian armies to fight Israel, said Sagger CEO and co-founder Channa Larson.
The Sagger anti-tank missiles used by those militaries in 1973 gave the world just a glimpse of future wars, as anti-tank missiles like the Javelin and NLOS are being used by Ukrainians to destroy numerous Russian tanks and armored vehicles.
In 1973, the Saggers were part of the Arab armies’ arsenal that had been provided by the Soviet Union, including state-of-the-art tanks, jets and missiles. Now, Sagger is also an innovative tool to help young people understand and navigate one of Israel’s most devastating wars.
The Sagger simulator re-creates the events of the Yom Kippur War from the point of view of decision-makers and policy leaders and not from the point of view of the fighters on the ground.
While playing the simulator, users can interact with political and military leaders such as Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Henry Kissenger, and many others in order to decide what they would do as generals and commanders in the field.
Larson told The Jerusalem Post that she had decided from a young age to explore her Jewish identity, and at 10 years old already wanted to join the IDF. At 18, she visited Israel for the first time and volunteered with Sar-El before moving to Israel and enlisting in a combat reconnaissance unit along the Egyptian border.
“It was very challenging and very rewarding,” she said. “Military service forced me to grow up. And despite the challenges, it was one of the best parts of my life.”
With a passion for Israeli military history as well as the push to create tools that would be “educating yet fun,” Larson decided to put together an effective way for young people to learn about an important Israeli topic.
“The Yom Kippur War lends itself well to a gaming platform,” said Larson, adding that the simulator “explores historical ‘what-ifs’ such as what would have happened had we launched a preemptive strike, what would have happened in the Golan if we did a strategic retreat in the South and brought troops to the North. There’s a lot of room for exploring what could have happened.”
With Sagger, the player steps into the shoes of the supreme commander who runs the whole country – both military and diplomatic – and manages the war. The player is able to explore what would happen should they choose to make certain decisions and understand the consequences of those decisions.
Larson explained that “it was a huge challenge” to make the simulator and that she had spent several years just thinking about and researching the project.
She read massive quantities of material and met with experts and former commanders of the war such as Amos Malka, Avigdor Khalani, Shabtai Shavit and Ori Bar Yosef before she opened the company in Poland in 2017 and raised sufficient funds to start her dream.
Throughout the process, she acted as a developer, historian and director.
With a lot of very serious academic work having gone into the project, Larson believes the game’s format will be the perfect way for youths to retain information.
Calling it “edutainment,” Larson said the information is a mix of books, journals, databases and hours of interviews.
“There is nothing else like this,” she said. “Sagger teaches the theory of warfare, in general, using the Yom Kippur War.
“The Yom Kippur War was a very important war that we don’t study enough in Israel and it changed the Cold War and how the superpowers view each other in a way that some people don’t realize,” Larson said. “It was a big game-changer because Israel had been strategically surprised and Arab armies were able to disable Israeli weapons.”
The simulator can be downloaded from the company’s website to PCs. While Larson is developing an app to make it mobile-friendly, that version won’t be fully available because of its size. In the future, she hopes to bring the game to Sony’s PlayStation.
“It’s fun, entertaining and very relevant,” she said.