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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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The Storming of Kaahka, 1920

The Back of Beyond, Setting the East Ablaze, 28mm

Given the enjoyment of the large Back of Beyond game earlier this month it was almost inevitable that I’d revisit the period. Besides, all the figures were ready to hand, and it was something different to stage in Orkney – none of the other two wargamers had ever played this period before. The premise of the game was that both the Reds and the Whites wanted to gain control of a small town in Tajikistan called Kaahka, as winter was approaching and they needed it as an outlying garrison outpost. Really, Kaahka is its proper name! Anyway, both sent a small force to take possession of the place, but first they had to displace the local population, who weren’t too keen to leave. Both of the two attacking forces had equal sized forces – four 10 man infantry units, an 8 man cavalry unit, a machine gun, a field gun and a headquarters. The locals had an undisclosed number of tribesmen at their disposal, armed with obsolete single-shot rifles. The scene was set for a three way clash, but in the end there could only be one winner.bob2-003In this game Chris Werb commanded the Reds, Alan Bruce took charge of the Whites, while I acted as umpire as well as the Green player, commanding the tribesmen. All the figures were mine apart from the nicely-painted Reds, which were on loan from Dougie Trail. Anyway, the Whites had the easiest approach to the town, with an orchard on one side, and a relatively short distance to cover from the northern table edge. That’s why I geared my deployment to take this into account. The trick up my sleeve was a unit of a dozen tribal cavalry, hidden in the southern part of the orchard, on the far side of a road. The Reds had to cross a swollen stream, then attack the town from the east. They faced one unit of tribesmen, hidden in buildings. Actually, all of the tribesmen were hidden at the start of the game.bob2-020A slight change to the rules – they call for each unit to move or fire when its card is turned up. For this game I decided to speed things along by allowing everyone to activate half their force on the turn of their side’s card. The Whites began by advancing their cavalry,  unlimbering their artillery and sending one unit of infantry forward. For their parts the Reds headed for one of the two fords across the stream, but got into a bit of a logjam crossing it. By turn two everything had sorted itself out – the Whites were getting close to the town, while the Red’s vanguard was now over the stream, and heading towards the town.bob2-009My tribesmen opened up on both groups, causing a few casualties to the White infantry and the Red cavalry, but not causing enough fatalities to slow the players down. Then, on Turn 3 the White cavalry spotted my ambush, and the field gun lobbed a round into their midst. The gunners scored a direct hit, and wiped out fiver figures. That was enough of a fillip for the White cavalry, who charged home and wiped out the tribal horse, for the loss of just a single casualty. So much for the trick up my sleeve!bob2-005By then the Whites were in the streets, but milled around below a building just long enough for the leading infantry unit to be fired on from two sides, and wiped out. That was my only real success of the night – that and the shooting up of the Red cavalry contingent. The Reds fired back with everything they had – machine guns, rifles and artillery, and gradually my tribesmen were cut down. Eventually, the few survivors broke and ran, giving the Reds a clear way into the town. Over on the other side of Kaahka the Whites had established themselves in an “L-shaped” building, and set up their machine gun on its roof. They poured fire at the tribesmen in the big long white building across the street, and soon caused a morale failure, prompting the defenders to pull out. As you can guess, the tribesmen were suffering from pretty poor morale during this game!bob2-021That left one tribal unit, in the big three-storey building in the centre of town. By then both sides were firing at them, and soon they too decided to head for the hills. the game ended with a count-up of real estate. Of the five “blocks” of buildings on the table, the Whites held three of them, the Reds one, and the third – the one recently vacated by the locals – was unoccupied. So, victory was awarded to the Whites, who had secured the town, and established themselves firmly in its heart. the game cracked along at a good pace, and it seems as if everyone enjoyed themselves. No doubt the Back of Beyond kit will have another outing again before too long.bob2-010


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