Back of Beyond Battles


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!


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.


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.


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:

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




Iron Cross


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.


More Sharpe Practice 2


Our second, and first proper, game of SP2 was remarkably more successful than the first. The rule’s systems now becoming embedded and making sense and providing an engaging, often tense and very entertaining game. This was a basically an encounter fight between two similarly sized French and British forces. On paper the British were technically superior in points but not by much. The roll for position found the British forced into the corner between a wood and a farmhouse and the French, in space, having much more room for maneuver and some useful cover which they used well. The British were unable to deploy their formation into a full line. However, it was a close run thing until the French skirmishers struck a mortal blow to the British senior commander. The British were unable to recover and no replacement appeared from the ranks. Numbers proved decisive in the end and the French were able to bring guns to bear quickly and efficiently to deal the killing blows.