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Ashkhabad, 1921

The Back of Beyond, Contemptible Little Armies / Back of Beyond, 28mm

This week we revisited our Back of Beyond campaign – loosely based on the Central Asian theatre of the Russian Civil War. The game involved a Red Army assault on the city of Ashkhabad, which was defended by the local Emir and his guard. The fly in the ointment for the Bolshevik player came in the form of a Turkish army, which was marching to the relief of the Muslim city.bob-april-2009-02The stage was set for a three-cornered contest, with the Red Army commander having to split his forces to meet both threats. In the end he divided his troops fairly equally, half assaulting the city, and half countering the advance by the Turks.bob-april-2009-01The battle began with a Red cavalry assault on the Turkish forward positions, but the riders were driven off by machine gun fire. They then lost their sole armoured car. Both sides fed more troops into the battle, and the Red Army actually went over onto the attack, its force spearheaded by a unit of Siberian Rifles. While they relied on rifle fire to win the day, other Red units and their Turkish counterparts closed to fight it out hand-to-hand.bob-april-2009-26This was a bit of a mistake for the Reds, as the Turkish troops were slightly better quality, and had the edge in melee. Within a few turns the Turks emerged battered but victorious. Even a last-minute assault by Trotsky’s Guards (resplendent in their red leather uniforms) failed to stem the tide.bob-april-2009-20The Bolsheviks did much better against the defenders of Ashkhabad. They stormed into the town, and a Turcoman counter-attack was thwarted by one of the last remaining units of Red cavalry. However, the Bolsheviks lost a lot of casualties in the process, and it soon became clear that they lacked the strength to root out the last of the defenders – at least before the Turks reached the city. At that point the Red Army commander conceded, and pulled what was left of his army to fight another day.bob-april-2009-09As ever, we used Chris Peers’ Contemptible Little Armies rules (and the army lists supplied in his Back of Beyond supplement). The only change to the printed rules came through our use of aircraft – we modified the existing system to allow more enjoyable dogfights. In our game the Turkish pilot emerged victorious, and I’ll be painting a little red star on the side of his machine before his next outing! The Turks were mine (that’s their  rather familiar-looking portly commander in the photo below), while the Reds and the locals came from the collections of Emir Colin Jack and Comrade Bill Gilchrist. You can never go wrong with Back of Beyond – the games always have plenty of flavour and colour, and are hugely enjoyable.bob-april-2009-08



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