The Back of Beyond, Contemptible Little Armies / Back of Beyond, 28mm
We’d planned to play a Seven Years War game, but as we’ll be doing that on Sunday, we opted for the Russian Civil War instead. This was a small and pretty straightforward game, played out on a 6×4 foot table. The objective was a broken down tank, stranded somewhere near the Estonian/Latvian/Russian border. Both the Red Army and an uneasy coalition force of Nationalists and Germans sent small forces to capture the tank, and so the scene was set for an encounter battle. Sure, this wasn’t really the Back of Beyond – merely the back of beyond of Europe – but at least the idea behind the game was the same – maximum fun – while the rules and even many of the troops were regulars from the Central Asian theatre. In this little game, both sides had four infantry units, supported by a couple of machine guns… and on one side a tank. The battlefield was dominated by a big open space, and at first both sides seemed wary of advancing into it. Instead they skulked in the trees, taking potshots at the enemy. The Nationalists and Germans (let’s call them the Whites) captured the tank, but didn’t advance any further. Then, on the White left a unit of veteran Siberian rifles were swept by machine gun fire as it advanced in the open, and then a unit of Latvian infantry swept out of the trees and charged into them.The Siberians were eventually overwhelmed, and the victorious Latvians went on to capture a Bolshevik machine gun. In the centre of the table the Estonians tried a similar trick, but were driven back after a vicious hand to hand scrap with Red sailors. While the Whites had the upper hand on that side of the table, but it was a pyrrhic victory, as the Nationalists had been badly chopped up during the fight.On the White left the Germans played an altogether more cautious game, holding the line agaisnt a couple of Red units, and trading long range machine gun fire. The game ended when it became clear that neither side were willing or able to press home another serious attack. Technically this little scrap ended in a White victory (as they held the tank), but in truth it was pretty much a stalemate, with both sides worn down by the fighting.The rules we used were our standard Chris Peers set – Contemptible Little Armies (a 4,5,6 and you’re dead etc. etc.), and as usual the game was fast, fun, furious and extremely bloody! The Nationalists and Germans were mine (with a Latvian unit and a tank borrowed from Colin Jack for the evening), while the dastardly Bolsheviks (including these sailors) were painted by Dougie Trail.