All posts by Jim

Back of Beyond Campaign Eve of Battle Bulletin

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It’s the first turn of the Back of Beyond multiplayer club campaign and tomorrow will see two of the three battles that are taking place this turn, fought out at Badger Farm Community Centre between the rival opposing forces.

The first game will involve the Third Peasants and Workers Shock Brigade under Comrade Colonel Igor Tubugerov, taking on the stiff upper lipped English gentlemen and ladies of the British Museum Archaeological Expedition, under the unflappable leadership of Brigadier (Retd.) H.W.A. Cholmondely Warner. Who knows what will happen?

The second game is a more conventional clash between the Imperial Japanese Army flying column of General Sushi Miyagi and the rag tag but fanatical army of Chinese Warlord, His Excellency Wei Phat Mac. This promises to be a bit of a hum dinger, especially as both sides will be bringing some ‘interesting’ and effective units to battle and quite a lot of supporting ironmongery.

A full after action report for both of these momentous military matters will no doubt follow, once the dust has well and truly settled.

Back of Beyond Campaign Battle Fixtures Turn One

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The orders are in and the battles for Turn One are now arranged ready for the campaign to swing into action. There are three meeting engagements this turn:

The British Museum ATTACKS The Bolsheviks

The Chinese Warlord ATTACKS The Japanese

The French Expedition ATTACKS The Whites

The Mad Baron is FORCE MARCHING.

The games will be played out at the club over the next few weeks, with after action battle reports and propaganda broadcasts soon to follow. Those who win the battles in Turn One  will march ahead in the race to cross the Gobi, whilst those defeated will remain trailing behind. Onwards to victory!

Back of Beyond Turn One Orders

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The Back of Beyond campaign is beginning next month, so orders have been requested from the seven players taking part. The umpire will match up the players with their chosen opponents and battle will commence, with games being played at the club between now and the end of November. Each player is competing to reach the city of Urga in Outer Mongolia, whoever gets there first winning the Back of Beyond campaign. The first turn of games will be crucial, as one or more players may get an early head start, although the losers won’t have to fall back if when they are defeated or make an unsuccessful forced march. Onwards to Victory!

The Back of Beyond Campaign Order System

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The Back of Beyond Campaign uses a simple but effective order system for each turn. To keep things easy to understand, I’ve provided a brief explanation here, so that everyone will know how it works. It does rely on some email communications and some organisation by the umpire to sort things out and to match up the players for their games, but otherwise it is pretty straightforward.

The objective is to reach the ancient town of Urga by crossing the Gobi desert. Each commander has a particular reason to reach the city as set out in their individual campaign briefing. All armies begin SIX ‘steps’ away from the town. Each of these ‘steps’ represents a turn in the campaign. Each turn the players have one of three options:

  1. Do nothing and stay put.
  2. Conduct a forced march across the desert
  3. Attack an enemy of choice from the list of players

As there is no consideration of the relative position of the different armies there is no restriction on choice of opponent. Each turn one player will be given the initiative and will select his/her options first. This will be determined on a rota basis,  using an alphabetical list of the players. The other players will then select their options in descending order of initiative.

The options chosen for each turn of the campaign will be e-mailed to the umpire by a date set and the outcome determined i.e. meeting engagements allocated, results of forced marches determined etc. These instructions will then be posted on the club website to allow players to set up their games. The time available for these games to be resolved will be flexible to account for holidays, but will typically be between four and six weeks, with an obvious end date for completion.

If one player is attacked by another player with the initiative, then the orders issued for their army will be cancelled and there will automatically be a meeting engagement between the two forces. If two players attack each other in their orders, this will also result in a Meeting Engagement game.

If two or more players attack the same army, the armies will be paired off according to initiative. Any players whose choice of opposing army has already been allocated to another player with a higher initiative, will have the chose of attacking another player further down the initiative hierarchy or may elect one of the other options i.e. forced marched or remain stationary.

The results of a Forced March order will be determined by the umpire according to a modified version of the official supplement rules i.e. the umpire will roll a D6 with the following outcomes: 1-2 advance one step, 3-4 remain stationary, 5-6 retire one step away from Urga.The consequences of a successful forced march will also be applied in any subsequent battle that occurs in the following turn. This means some of the players units may fail to turn up for the battle.

If any player does not wish to take part in a game in a particular month for any reason e.g. work commitments, holidays etc. they must inform the umpire in plenty of time so that other players don’t attack the absent players army. Their army is assumed to have remained stationary for that turn and will be omitted from the initiative rota.

Simple!

Back of Beyond Campaign: The Texan Oil Prospectors

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You are an American oil prospecting expedition under the leadership of Texan wildcat oil tycoon U.R.Barking. You are exploring the wastes of the Gobi Desert in search of a big strike.

As a result you have assembled a convoy of vehicles and a motley team of engineers, surveyors and roustabouts to survey potential oil fields along the trail to Urga. You will be travelling through hostile territory infested with bandits and renegades, so you have come armed to the teeth and ready to shoot first and ask questions later.

You have hired a small band of White Russian mercenaries to escort you across the desert and provide some additional firepower. You have improvised some armoured trucks using boiler plate and a couple of spare machine guns that you acquired ‘no questions asked’ from a disreputable arms dealer. You are also equipped with an army surplus aircraft, which will be used to scout ahead of the convoy and as aerial support in case of attack.

You are able to hire the services of an ex-WW1 fighter ace, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Eagelberger who has been touring the region with his barnstorming flying circus having fallen on hard times. He is an outstanding pilot and a specialist in aerial dogfighting, having shot down twenty three opponents single handed over the Western Front.

(This ‘Dinosaur Hunter’ based force is a veteran of two previous campaigns but will not be taking part in the current Back of Beyond shenanigans. It may make an occasional appearance along the way, however, when it will stand in for other players who can’t make it that turn.)

Back of Beyond Campaign: The Bolsheviks

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Your force is the Third Workers and Peasants Shock Brigade under the fraternal leadership of People’s Commissar Nasti Tchestikov and Military Specialist Comrade Colonel Igor Tubugerov. You have been dispatched on a vital political mission to Urga.

Your task is to disseminate soviet propaganda amongst the populace and undermine the counter revolutionary attempts of the imperialist powers to destabilise Soviet influence in the region.

As part of your mission, you have been instructed to contact a Soviet agent Vladimir Ilych Proletarski, who has been dispatched to Urga by Lenin himself to make contact with secret revolutionary cells inside the city.

You have also been instructed to seek out and destroy any forces of reactionary imperialist bourgeois counter revolution that you may encounter on your march. These are rumoured to be infiltrating the region through the supposedly un-traversable wastes of the Gobi Desert.

(Jim’s Bolshevik army may not have the best troops but it is well-motivated, thanks to the political commissars and their lively Marxist Leninist ideological debate, not to mention their habit of shooting anybody that doesn’t show enough enthusiasm!)

Back of Beyond Campaign: The White Russians

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Your force is a regiment of renegade White Russian infantry and cavalry under the command of Colonel I.P.Addreski. You have escaped from the Civil War in your motherland and have been wandering through the Back of Beyond, hiring out your services to the highest bidder as professional mercenaries. You are in-between engagements at the moment and funds to pay and equip your troops are running dangerously low.

You have heard a rumour that the Imperial Russian gold reserve has somehow ended up in a bank vault in the town of Urga on the other side of the Gobi Desert. You have decided that it is your patriotic duty as a son of Mother Russia to liberate the wealth of the Tsars and return it to its rightful owners. By happy coincidence you are a distant relative of the Tsarina’s second cousin, twice removed, so that means you!

You are now en route to Urga with your troops and have taken the precaution of arming yourself to the teeth in order to fight off any rival claimants to the Tsarist gold, especially those repulsive Bolsheviks and the equally unpleasant Chinese Warlords that you have been working for over recent years. You have no illusions about either of these unsavoury factions, or any others for that matter, so will shoot first and ask questions later!

You have also heard a rumour that a beautiful Mongolian Princess is also seeking the gold and, as you are a bit of a ladies man, you have decided that she would be an excellent companion in your quest. You are prepared to cut her into the deal, if she lends her support to your force, especially as she commands the loyalty of many of the Mongolian tribes and clans along the route.

(Colin’s army has a core of very tough and well motivated troops. He can back these up with plenty of armour and artillery. This is a formidable force, if they don’t have too much vodka for breakfast!)

Back of Beyond Campaign: The Mad Baron

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Your force is a detachment of the infamous Asiatic Cavalry Division, led by the Mad Baron himself, Ungern von Sternberg. You have heard tales of a Buddhist monastic library in Urga, which is rumoured to contain a secret annex full of mystical scrolls, one of which supposedly contains the details of an ancient transcendental ritual which, when enacted will possibly reveal the one true path to enlightenment.

The omens have spoken and the bones have been cast, revealing to you a vision in which only you can retrieve the mysterious scroll and attain nirvana, as all others are not worthy of such an honour. As a result, you have set off across the Gobi Desert with your army in order to storm and pillage Urga in search of the ancient manuscript, although where the monastery actually is remains a bit of a mystery.

Obviously, any other forces that you meet on the way to Urga have heard of your divine mission and will be trying to stop you from attaining the one true path. Your shaman has warned you about this, so you have hand-picked your best troops and formed them into a retinue for your divine mission. Any ‘unbelievers’ must be wiped out at the first opportunity, so you have decided to shoot first and ask questions later.

You have heard tell of a wandering Tibetan lama who may be encountered somewhere along your route and who could reveal to you the location of the monastery that you seek. If encountered, the lama will join your band for part of your journey, in return for safe passage across the wilder parts of the Gobi.

(Chris has the Mad Baron’s army, with some very colourful units. This force is very ‘unusual’ and a little bit unpredictable, to say the least. It can be very effective but also has it’s weak elements that a cunning adversary can exploit.)

Back of Beyond Campaign: The British Museum

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Your force is the British Museum Department of Oriental Antiquities Archaeological Excavation Party under the unflappable leadership of Brigadier (Retd) Henry Winstanley Arbuthnot Cholmoneley-Warner. You have assembled an expert team of archaeologists and antiquarians in order to survey and excavate the ruined lost cities of the ancient Silk Road, escorted by a detachment of Chinese Warlord troops and Mongolian cavalry.

Your task is to recover ancient manuscripts and works of art for inclusion in the British Museum’s Central Asian collections. As these artefacts are extremely valuable you must be prepared to defend yourself from marauding bandits and other unsavoury types, using your small arsenal of high powered rifles. You have improvised a number of armoured vehicles to protect your party and transport the antiquities to Urga. You will shoot first and ask questions later.

You have a potential ally in an old army chum, Colonel Algenon Utterley-Barkinge, famous big game hunter and all round good egg. He has set out for a spot of big game hunting on the Mongolian steppe, zoology not being his strongpoint. He is keen to join your expedition for part of the way and, as he is a crack shot, he will be a valuable asset to the party.

(Andy’s British Museum expedition is based on the Dinosaur Hunter army list in the Back of Beyond supplement. Andy has perfected some tip top tactics for his archaeologists which make them difficult to pin down. This is a surprisingly robust force and will put up a stiff fight, not to mention a stiff upper lip!)

Back of Beyond Campaign: The Imperial Japanese

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Your force is a flying column of Imperial Japanese troops under the command of General Sushi Miyagi. Your mission is to cross into the Gobi Desert as a reconnaissance force, with the aim of linking up with a Japanese agent, Captain Kagemusha, who has been operating in disguise on an intelligence gathering mission in Outer Mongolia.

As such, the mission is highly sensitive and clandestine, although you have successfully evaded detection thus far due to the small size of your convoy and the clever use of camouflage, night movement and counter intelligence, not to mention bribing the various tribal leaders along the way with gifts. You suspect, however, that your presence may soon stir up a hornet’s nest.

Your force is sufficient to ensure that it can easily deal with any potential threat, having an armoured car, heavy machine guns, a battery of artillery and an attached reconnaissance aircraft. Your troops are also of high morale and very well trained, so more than a match for any potential opposition that you might encounter.

You also have a considerable asset in the form of Captain Kagemusha who has been sent ahead on a secret mission to Urga. Captain Kagemusha is an expert in the customs of the region and speaks numerous local dialects. He has travelled extensively in China and Mongolia and has many useful contacts and a detailed knowledge of the lie of the land.

(Gary’s Japanese army is a well balanced and powerful force. His troops are tough and have high morale. This army is definitely one to watch and stands a very good chance. The figures are from the Copplestone Chinese range with a simple paint conversion).