The Back of Beyond, The Men Who Would be Kings, 28mm
This week’s game saw the inauguration of Sean 2’s new battle mat, which for obvious reasons was duly dubbed “the mould mat”. So, apologies if these pictures look a little – er – garish! Anyway, this saw a three-cornered contest in Tajikistan, close to the Persian border. The local Basmachi warlord was being attacked by the Red Army , while the British also crossed the border, to either do a deal with the Basmachi Khazi of Kaakha, or to attack his Khaakha stronghold. Neither Comrade Colonel Smirnoff (Sean 1) or Colonel Fortescue-Boyd (me) knew that the other column was in the area. So, the clash came as a real surprise to both of them – and to the Khazi (Sean 2) The Khazi’s force was made up of a couple of tribal cavalry groups, a couple of sword-armed tribal infantry and four gun-armed warrior units. Oh, and he also had an ancient but still workable Gardner machine gun.The Reds bin the north-west corner began with a move to cover their flank against the British, who had come on in the south-west corner. Kaakha fort was near the eastern table edge. The game was played on a 6×4 foot table, covered with scattered buildings, rocky outcrops and woods… and of course the fort. First blood went to the Reds, when a unit of Cheka and a supporting Mark IV tank saw off a unit of British infantry from the Staffordshire regiment. The Cheka killed most of the crew of an Indian army machine gun. So, not a good start for the British! However, Sean 1 and I did a deal – a truce until after we’d dealt with the Khazi. It was just as well. The Khazi wasn’t for negotiating, and my leading unit – a Rolls Royce armoured car – was ignored by his tribal cavalry, who promptly charge my Bengal Lancers instead. The Indian horsemen were taken by surprise, and were wiped out after a furious melee. till, the Basmachi horsemen were about to have the tables turned on them!Their charge had brought them within close range of a unit of Sikh infantry, who mowed down the tribal horsemen to a man. Revenge was sweet. This cleared the way for a British advance towards the fort, matched by a Red army one on the other side of the table. Sean 2 though, wasn’t going to meekly accept his fate, and he began throwing his Basmachis forward. His Gardner machine gun managed to drive off a unit of Red cavalry, which allowed Sean’s Basmachi tribal cavalry to charge a Red army machine gun, It had just dismounted from a tschanka – at which point the wagon-mounted light machine gun becomes a stationary heavy one. It got overrun before it had a chance to open fire.The Red tank though, wasn’t to be trifled with, and the triumphant horsemen withdrew back towards the safety of the fort. Meanwhile, a unit of Basmachi rifle-armed irregular infantry traded shots with the Sikhs, but got the worst of it. They then tried close-assaulting the armoured car, only to find there was no way to disable it without grenades or petrol bombs. Still they died trying…With them out of the way the British advance continued, led by the Rolls Royce armoured car. Its machine gun swiftly dealt with the plucky Basmachi Gardner crew, which left the Khasi with nothing that could take on the armoured car. So, it ruled the roost – as long as it didn’t try to take on the Red army tank. Meanwhile, Sean 2’s red army was also on the move, creeping forward towards the fort. One of the peculiar things about this game was the lack of aggression shown by the tank. However, after shootign up the British it kept on failing its activation rolls. Still, it remained a latent threat, and its field guns could still cause some real damage to anyone who got within range of it. As for the Basmachis, they pulled back a bit, and regrouped around the fort, for a last-ditch defence.In fact Sean 1’s Red Army was pretty much stymied by poor activation rolls, and so it was the British troops which were the first to approach the fort. At that point the British colonel and the Basmachi chief agreed to patch up their differences, and join forces. With that, Sean 1 decided to withdraw, to try his luck another day. No doubt he’ll be back soon, with more toys .. and that bloody tank! As usual with “Back of Beyond” games, it was all great fun, and our modified colonial rules just about cope with all this craziness.