Back of Beyond Campaign: The White Russians

whites

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

baron

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

brit

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

jp

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).

Back of Beyond Campaign: The French Expedition

untitled

Your force is the Citroen Kegresse Trans Asia Expedition, under the leadership of famed French desert explorer Commandant Henri Lostagaine. You have successfully crossed the Sahara desert, using the latest in French automobile technology – the Citroen Kegresse half track – and now have been set the challenge of crossing the Gobi desert in Outer Mongolia.

The French government is very interested in the military potential of the Citroen Kegresse and the Citroen company is very interested in selling the half track design to the French army. As a result, you have been given a military escort and an attached army officer, Lieutenant Croissant, will be accompanying your expedition to evaluate the vehicles.

You have been warned by the French Secret Service, the Deuxieme Bureau, that foreign powers may try to steal the design of the latest half track model whilst you traverse the inhospitable and remote wastelands. As a result, you must be prepared to fight against any potential enemy force that you encounter – shoot first, ask questions later.

In addition, it is rumoured that your friend and fellow desert explorer, the eccentric adventurer and aristocrat, the Comte de Camenbert, is travelling through the Gobi on one of his famous expeditions. If you manage to meet up with him, his in depth knowledge of the terrain and his desert field craft expertise will be very useful.

(Colin’s force is based on the Dinosaur Hunter army list from the Back of Beyond supplement and a real Trans Asia Citroen Kegresse expedition in 1931. It has some nifty half tracks that he scratch built using Airfix bren carrier tracks and die cast trucks. It’s a tough little force to tackle as it is escorted by the French Foreign Legion. Zut Alors!)

Back of Beyond Campaign: The Chinese Warlord

untitled

Your force is the rag tag  army of His Excellency Wei Phat Mac.

You were until recently the Tuchan or governor of Suchow province but have been deposed by a rival and forced to flee into the desert. You have a poorly equipped but loyal force of warriors including your ferocious bodyguard of ‘Dare to Die’ troops.

You are seeking refuge for your force in Urga, where you hope to recruit foreign mercenaries from the large number of White Russian refugees that are available for hire in the city. You will take advantage of any opportunity to obtain equipment and weapons for your badly equipped troops, especially if they can be captured on your way to Urga.

So, if you bump into anyone on your march across the Gobi desert, you have decided to shoot first and ask any questions later.

You also hope to hire the services of the notorious arms dealer Herbert Maximoff, who is rumoured to be in the area seeking potential customers. He is an unscrupulous and greedy profiteer, so you should get on really well. If you bump into him he’ll be sure to provide you with some much needed firepower, for the right price.

(Alan’s Chinese Warlord army is very colourful and has some really ‘interesting’ units including Dare to Die sword wielding fanatics, sub-machine gun armed assault troops and well-disciplined close order infantry. It even has an executioner!).

Back of Beyond Club Campaign Countdown

img_2109

The fourth club Back of Beyond multiplayer club campaign will soon be starting and we have seven players ready to march across the Gobi Desert in search of fame, fortune and the nearest Mongolian watering hole.

The campaign will start in November 2016 and will run for SIX turns and/or until a player wins. If there is no clear winner by the end of the campaign, the front runner will be declared the victor. There will be a final big battle to round off the campaign with all of the various factions taking part. This is always lots of fun and pretty spectacular!

The campaign is set in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. It is semi-historical and includes a briefing for each of the commanders to explain how and why they are involved. The individual players will be encouraged to take these motives into consideration, in order to give the campaign and the battles a degree of colour and narrative.

The Major Players

This is the current list of participating players.

The Chinese Warlord – Wei Phat Mac (Alan)

The Bolsheviks  – Third Peasants and Workers Shock Brigade Colonel Igor Tubugerov / Peoples Commissar Nasti Tchestikov (Jim)

The French Trans Asia  Citroen Kegresse Expedition – Commandant Henri Lostagaine (Colin B.)

The British Museum – Brigadier Henry Winstanley Arbuthnot Cholmoneley-Warner (Andy)

The Mad Baron! – Baron Ungern Von Sternberg (Chris)

The Whites – Colonel I.P.Addreski (Colin N.)

The Japanese  – General Sushi Miyagi (Gary)

The player campaign briefings, house rules and explanatory campaign notes will be dispatched soon, but there is plenty of time for a few Contemptible Little Armies practice games before the campaign begins.

If you have a questions ask Jim and he’ll try to work it out!

Back of Beyond Battles

img_3580

Over the years, we have played a lot of Contemptible Little Armies in the Back of Beyond at the Wessex Wargamers Winchester club, including three large multiplayer campaigns. The Contemptible Little Armies rules have been around for a long time and, whilst not everyone’s cup of tea, they are ideal for the ‘semi-skirmish’ Back of Beyond setting. We haven’t found an alternative we like, or indeed bothered to look that much anyway!

img_4961

The various members of the club, past and present, have fielded a wide range of armies in these multiplayer campaigns including a Red Shock Brigade, a Red Propaganda Detachment, the Whites, a British-Indian Field Force, a couple of Chinese Warlord factions, a French Trans-Asia exploration, some Texan Oil prospectors, the Japanese, a Cossack Warlord, the Czech Legion, a British Museum archaeological expedition and last, but not least, the Mad Baron, Ungern Von Sternberg himself.

img_2781

We all have suitably silly ‘nom de guerre’ and there is an element of tongue in cheek roleplaying to the whole campaign set up including such colourful characters as Kommissar Tchestikov, Colonel Rubachek, Wei Phat Mac, Henri Lostagaine, Comrade Colonel Igor Tubugerov, Brigadier Cholmondely-Warner, Wei Tsu Phat and Major Short-Cummins, to name but a few.  Whilst some have met a sticky end  many of these characters are still to be found wandering through the Gobi Desert for occasional club games.

img_0363

We still play the occasional one off game using the Second Edition of the Contemptible Little Armies rules. These are always good fun and frequently end up in a fast moving and enjoyable skirmish. We have devised a number of special club rules and have adapted the campaign system to our way of doing things but otherwise the rules are off the shelf (we have tried the Third Edition rules but didn’t like them much). The Second Edition rules are currently out of print but still pop up on eBay now and then.

You can read more about some of these club games and the campaigns over at Jim’s blog:

http://jimswargamesworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Back%20of%20Beyond

A fourth Back of Beyond campaign is planned for late 2016-early 2017 and there are half a dozen players already involved. If you’d like to join in, have a word with Jim when he’s at the club or contact him via the Contact Tab above or the Wessex Wargamers Winchester Yahoo Group.

Battle of Limerick

20160906_213645Letter from Lord Inchquin, Parliamentarian Commander:

Reports were received to me by my scouts that Limerick was undefended and I ordered some of my good troops to move with all haste to assault the town with the Almighty’s blessing. Unfortunately the heathen Lord Hopton had also decided to return to the town with a great many fellows following him in support and were aiming to be there at the same time as my arrival on the field.

My forces were ready to save this town from the heathens and bring the persons within this fine town into Gods glorious support of our forces, however Hopton (curse him) had also arrived onto the field and assaulted my brave fellows who were greatly outnumbered against his force of many more troops. My brave musket fellows gained access to a small village and took up defences to withstand the expected attack from Hopton . I also made my troops outside the village ready to push back the poorly trained defenders of Limericks outer defences should they sally forth against my forces.

Hoptons forces were seen to crest the hills nearby and thus revealed to me the size of the force he had arrived with. It was with the grace of our almighty Lord that my brave fellows were able to stall his heathens as they tried to force my brave musketeers defending the village walls back. Hoptons troops were obviously not keen to take on my fellows as they seemed reluctant to close and thus allowed me time to pray to God for guidance and support. God spoke to me and advised that I should withdraw and save the fight for another day and spare my fellows to live and worship him in all his mighty. I thus decided I had to move my forces back along the road the way I had come towards the river where I had left some fine fellows to defend the ford should I require to travel back this way.

My brave Lord Samuel and his force of muskets requested the honour of defending the village and my withdraw against Hoptons troops and it was with heavy heart that I agreed to his wish. Hoptons muskets sallied around the side of the village to assault my front and brave Lord Samuels muskets.

I ordered my musket fellows defending the village walls to retire back to me which they did superbly and requested that the fellows guiding the baggage train to make all haste to the rear. Hoptons troops were able to then capture the village (much to the consternations of the locals who had welcomed us with much revelry) and threaten the flank of my much smaller force. God must have smiled as I was able to order a fine retreat away from the village but I was mostly dismayed to see the heathens over run Lord Samuel and the artillery fellows and capture the cannon. I ask my bishop that he pray for their brave souls.

My brave and just Cavalry fellows under the leadership of Lord Daniels attacked Hoptons horse as he tried to flank my force and justly gave them a soundly beating. My wagon train and foote managed to retire under much pressure towards the ford and were able to make good their escape. The horse retired with much cheering and hollering of goodness from my foote after their display of prowess against Hoptons horse.

Lord Hopton obviously decided that he could not risk any further loss of heart from his heathen supporters and delayed any assault upon my rear force and thus my fine fellows were able to make good their escape from the field of battle. I state that this 1st Battle of Limerick was a fine showing for the Parliamentary cause and showed to my men that the enemy are of much inferior quality and that I have Gods support in this campaign.

Lord Inchquin.

And now for the other view:

Upon hearing that the vile Roundhead forces under Lord Inchquin were moving to assault the defenceless city of Limerick, the noble Lord Hopton marched his forces there to intercept them.

Hopton’s Cornish veterans crested the hills to the South of Limerick and attempted to cut off Inchquin’s forces which were strung out along the main road to the city. Unfortunately, a combination of difficult terrain and a strong survival instinct amongst the Roundheads (basically poor dice rolling from me and good dice rolling from Gary) enabled the majority of Inchquin’s forces to run away. The Pikemen of Slanning’s Regiment distinguished themselves against the rearguard by rushing forward and slaughtering a unit Roundhead musketeers whilst the musketeers of Lord Mohun’s and Beville Grenville’s Regiments accounted for another unit of musketeers and captured the Roundhead artillery. Although nightfall enabled Inchquin’s remaining forces to slip away, the people of Limerick can sleep well in the knowledge they have been saved from Roundhead atrocities.

Lord Hopton

20160906_213637

20160906_213620

20160906_213607

Iron Cross

20160823_194656

We tried out the Great Escape Games rules for WW2 skirmishes, ‘Iron Cross’, at the club last week for the first time. We were quite impressed with our first play through with our two equally matched forces of British and Germans slogging it out in a meeting engagement. I particularly liked the use of command tokens where you can choose to react to an opponent’s movement or shooting and attempt to seize the initiative. You can also spend them on multiple activations on the same unit which is a nice mechanic if you want to lay down some serious fire or get an assault moving. Morale is managed very similarly to Bolt Action in the form of hit counters which count against unit activation and firing. These can be removed by company morale tests at the cost of the command tokens, of course. In fact, it is the spending and/or reserving of these command tokens which lies at he heart of the game. A good example of this is where both sides spent pretty much all their tokens in attempting to dislodge/protect a machine gun team. One side laying down heavy fire whilst the other reacting and attempting morale tests to keep it going. We’re going to give it another go soon to try and get our head around some strategy and tactics to use these tokens to best effect.

20160823_222715