The Back of Beyond, Contemptible Little Armies / Back of Beyond, 28mm
Every so often you play a game so large, so much fun or so darned silly that it takes your breath away. Well, this – the “Krasnovodsk Mini Campaign” was one of them! It was all part of out on-going “Back of Beyond” campaign, which has developed a name for coming up with rather crazy but highly enjoyable games.The idea was relatively simple. Two groups – a White columns and a Red column – would approach the Turkish-held city of Krasnovodsk, on the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea. Both groups wanted the port, and the Reds were out for revenge, having been ousted from the city a few months earlier by a Turkish Expeditionary Force. The White followed the rail line from Ashkabad |(supported by an armoured train), while the Reds came by sea, landing at Fort Shevchenko after crossing from Astrakhan. To make matters a little more interesting local bandits (labelled the Greens) picked on all three factions throughout the game.The map shows the general idea – each box being a small tabletop. Forces took a set number of turns to march, boat or ride from one to the other.Well, the Turks and the White rapidly came to an agreement which allowed the Whites access to the port in return for help against the Reds (and Greens). All three factions lost troops to bandit ambushes, but generally the Reds moved down the coast, while the Whites entered the Kara Kum to fall on them from behind. However, the sneaky Red players launched two secondary attacks – a big cavalry force swept round the campaign map to fall on Krasnovodsk from the railway line, while a second assault came by sea.Both fell on the Turkish garrison at the same time as the main force reached its northern outskirts. A real hum-dinger of a scrap followed, which saw the Turks swept from the north of the town before they rallied and held the onslaught. The cavalry column was wiped out by some lucky Turkish rifle fire, while the amphibious attack secured a foothold in the town. The Turkish commander was a little unhappy when he learned the big gunboat protecting the harbour had no ammunition, or steam in her boilers! However, the Whites came to the rescue, and the armoured train sunk the Red’s own gunboat before it could cause much damage… and an armoured car for good measure.At that critical moment the White reinforcements arrived, piling into the remains of the main Red force, freeing the beleaguered Turks to mop up the remaining Red pockets. At that stage the Red players called for a general retreat, leaving the Turks in charge of the city, supported for the moment by a large and relatively fresh White army. Whether the alliance holds is a question for another day…The game was played using Contemptible Little Armies, and their Back of Beyond supplement, modified by a few house rules controlling strategic and tactical movement. As always it produced a thoroughly enjoyable game, and all the eight players vowed to do it again some time. As the Turkish commander I’ll also have a word with that gunboat captain before the next scrap…!