The Raqib Tanklar, Usbekistan 1920
20th April 2023, 5 Comments
The Back of Beyond, The Men who would be Kings, 28mm
This little game, entitled (according to Google Translate) means “The Rival Tanks” in Usbeki, was all about tinkering with our house rules. You see, we’ve adapted this excellent little colonial set of rules for The Back of Beyond, and so we need bolt-on rules covering tanks, armoured cars and aircraft, as well as other fun things. So, this was all about trying these rules out. to spice things up a little though, we added some other troops, mostly cavalry. The game was played between the two Seans, while I acted as ringside rulesmeister. The 6×4 foot table was dominated by two small villages, each held by a unit of 12 local militia – one Red, the other White. Both sides sent a flying column to capture the enemy’s village, and naturally each of these two forces included a tank, an armoured car, a tschanka and a field gun team. Sean 1 commanded the Whites, and Sean 2 led the Reds. For once we didn’t have any tribal forces in the game, or other strange contingents. This, after all, was all about trying out the armour rules. Both sides came on along the road leading to their friendly village, and these troops wee soon ensconced beside them. Both tschankas also dismounted, becoming static machine guns. Inevitably, the game started with a cavalry scrap. Sean 2 tried to charge Sean 1, but didn’t make contact, so, Sean 1 – a veteran gamer who’s only just discovered the joys of charging things – slammed into the Bolshevik cavalry. In the melee that followed both sides suffered badly, but it was the surviving Red cavalry who were forced to retire. Both 10 man units were effectively blown though.The tanks also began duelling. Here the design of the Whippet became apparent Armed with four light machine guns, each pointing in different directions, it was essentially a small pillbox on tracks. On paper the 6-pounders of the Bolshevik Mark IV tank should have made mincemeat of their rival. Sean 2 though, kept missing. For that matter Sean 1 did too, as did his newly-arrived armoured car.The cavalry skirmish flared up again, this time with both sides trying to charge their opponent’s intact cavalry unit. Once more this ended in carnage, Both sides were effectively wiped out in the battle – although the Red horsemen theoretically emerged triumphant. They though, were finished off by fire from the Usbek militiamen in the white village. The cavalry failed their rally test, and fled the field. That left one stump of a White cavalry unit still in the game. It tried to get across the nullah (dried-up river bed) to charge the Bolshevik field gun, but it came under fire from the Bolshevik armoured car and machine gun, and it too broke and ran. After that the game settled down into what was essentially a tank duel, backed up by machine guns and field guns. Neither side moved. They simply hammered away at the enemy tank. In the end Sean 1 got a hit on the Whippet, inflicting two hits. Three more and it would be knocked out. We’d come up with a simple system, where each unit fired once, and if it hit the target it inflicted damage; 1 hit point for an LMG and 2 for a field gun or HMG. When the score reached 5 the tank was knocked out. It was crude but it worked – sort of.Meanwhile neither side seemed to be making a move to capture the enemy village. There was too much hardware in the way, and with the cavalry units either broken or reduced to a handful of troopers there was nothing else capable of taking ground.Activation was helped by the proximity of the side’s commander – 12″ being the command range. So, Sean 1 drove his armoured car down the road to shoot up the Red commander. It didn’t really work – his shooting wasn’t that good, and Sean 2’s leader went to ground. The duel continued – until Sean 1 scored a hit on the Red tank with his machine gun. For a turn the scores were even, until Sean 2 pulled off a game-changing round of firing, hitting the White Whippet with both his machine gun and his armoured car. That was enough to leave the Whippet a burning wreck. With that the game was all but over. Both sides decided they’d fought each other to a standstill, and so we ended the fight. It was technically a draw, but Sean 1’s lovingly-painted Mark IV tank had finally come through. By contrast, the dud of the game was the White field gun, which was slow to join the fight, and then never hit anything all game!
Enjoyed the game. And with the added benefit that my tank didn’t blow up this time. To break the stalemate I should have just driven forward with the tank and perhaps driven over the field gun! But that night I was knackered and so didn’t. Not sure how the rules would have sorted that! Anyway, good game. Thanks for organising.