BACK OF BEYOND CAMPAIGN
from the South East Scotland Wargames club
This campaign was originally inspired by the beautiful range of figures produced by Mark Copplestone and the series of books written by Peter Hopkirk. The action takes place during the period following the Russian Civil War and is set in Central Asia, “where men and mountains meet”. Here the Red and White Russian forces face each other but they also have to contend with a number of other nationalities. First China, nominally a republic since 1911, but in reality the distant province of Sinkiang is ruled by warlords. Tibet attempts to maintain a vestige of independence in the face of Chinese territorial claims over one of the most inhospitable areas on the planet.
Most of the natives of Central Asia are Muslims but of differing tribes and beliefs and therefore rarely able to co-operate against a common enemy. The British have a lengthy land border with the various areas of Central Asia. They have always feared a Russian invasion of India through the Himalayan passes and against this threat have fought the clandestine “Great Game”. The only other European power with any military interest is Germany and they have channelled their energies through Turkey, with little obvious result. Japan also has an interest but this has so far been confined to Manchuria and the Far East. There are also those whose interest lies in culture rather than conquest. Britain, France and Germany have all sent heavily armed expeditions to search for antiquities in the ruined cities of the Taklamakan desert while American expeditions have hunted for dinosaur fossils. The fascination of clashes between such diverse and colourful peoples continues to fuel the campaign.
We are using the “Contemptible Little Armies” rules by Chris Peers but have chosen to ignore the very linear campaign rules. As the various participants are not all able to devote as much time to the campaign – some factions would simply lose out by default – we have devised our own narrative campaign strategy. A single game is set up and played out and this leads on to a series of other games. Sometimes several campaign strands could therefore be running at once. Currently the fate of the Tsar and his family is in question following their release from Red captors following a bold White attack, and their subsequent recapture by the Reds. This time however, German agents have spirited away the royal children, thus setting the scene for another showdown. Elsewhere, an American film crew is on the trail of the elusive yeti.
1) Russian Red Forces: Led by Commander Iosef Gilkristi, the Reds have fought several actions against the Chinese with mixed results. Having captured the city of Bokhara, the Reds had to give it up again when Gilkristi himself was captured by the Beg of Bokhara’s bodyguard. More recently the Reds have lost and then recaptured the Tsar and his family. They also failed to prevent the American film crew from penetrating deep into the Pamirs in their search for the yeti.
2) White Russian Forces: Led by General Nemesisky, in theory. In practice no White troops had been available for any major campaign so the General remains in his mountain fastness claiming to be the Emperor of the Roof of the World. Despite his non-appearance, small White forces have started to make significant efforts, namely the temporary saving of the imperial family.
3) Chinese Forces: There are three warlords currently operating in Sinkiang. We are not aware that they have been co-operating with each other in any way.
First and foremost is Char Li-Chan, currently in undisputed, but incomplete control of Sinkiang. He has fought several actions against Commander Gilkristi’s Reds, once in support of an American fossil hunting expedition which was under attack by a rival German expedition and their Red allies.
Secondly, Admiral Loo Fah, self-publicised hero of Chinese interference in the Afrindo campaigns now claims to be the official representative of the Chinese president (who he continues to refer to as emperor). Despite much verbal posturing nothing had been seen of the inscrutable admiral or his troops until the most inappropriately named Tashkent Peace Conference.
Finally, a late entrant in the warlord stakes is Sue Manchu, the Dragon Lady. She appears to have seized power from her father and has been sighted wheeling and dealing across Central Asia as she attempts to build herself a power base.
4) The Muslim Forces: The Beg of Bokhara is the rallying point for most of the Muslim community. He has managed to retain his independence in the face of strong military action by the Reds. He achieved a major coup when his forces captured the Red Army commander. Currently he is still at odds with the Reds over the missing members of his harem.
The Afghan general Oyesai Khan gave a British punitive force a bloody nose when it attempted to force the Malakand Pass.
5) The British: Have generally remained aloof, just watching from the sidelines. They did however send troops to help the Beg of Bokhara regain his capital. They also made a punitive foray into Afghanistan but were forced to withdraw after a very bloody, but inconclusive action with tribal jezzailachis.
6) The Americans: Have an interest in historical artefacts, fossils and the flora and fauna of the region. The ill-fated Oklahoma O’Brien expedition was destroyed by the Chinese. This was followed by the Idaho Jones expedition, and so far, she has proven more indestructible.
Recently, famous Hollywood film director, WD Forte with his film crew have been searching for the elusive abominable snowman, or yeti. They have been assisted by Captain Kirk and the shipless crew of the sunken gunboat USS Enterprise who have acted as bodyguards to the expedition.
7) The Germans: Have only a small presence in the area but have featured in several actions under their redoubtable commander Colonel von Halen. Diplomat Manfred von Weiss operates a section of three agents, Melchior, Kaspar and Balthasar, who are known as the “Three Weiss Men”.
The Copplestone Castings range of figures was the inspiration for the campaign, but to date they only cover Bolshevik and Chinese armies. Tibetans and Mongol bandits should soon be making an appearance. Pulp Figures do a nice range of Chinese and American figures for the 1920s with many more in the pipeline. The Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company have reissued their Russian Civil War range thus making some White troops available. They also provide a good range of armoured cars and tanks. Another source is the Gothic Horror range from West Wind which provides the Imperial family and some Cossack guards. Their Cowboys range provides European and Russian hunting parties complete with borzoi dog.
The Committee for Peace and Prosperity in Central Asia issues a monthly four-page newspaper entitled Pravda Tsasti. Pravda means “truth” and Tsasti means “half”. The editor accepts copy from any and all factions but usually has to make it all up himself. (Click here to find The Truth)
A rival Chinese broadsheet has sprung up entitled the Dai-Li Sun. It is pro-Chinese, or more correctly pro-Char Li-Chan. (Click here to find the actual truth)
These newletters and battle reports can be found on the Yahoo Back of Beyond Discussion Group as well as loads of pics from ours and other campaigns. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BackofBeyondDiscussion/
Setting the East Ablaze ~ Peter Hopkirk
The Great Game ~ Peter Hopkirk
Foreign Devils on the Silk Road ~ Peter Hopkirk
Trespassers on the Roof of the World ~ Peter Hopkirk
On Secret Service East of Constantinople ~ Peter Hopkirk
Kim ~ Rudyard Kipling
News from Tartary ~ Peter Fleming
Bayonets to Lhasa ~ Peter Fleming
Among the Mountains ~ Wilfred Thesiger
Ends of the Earth ~ Roy Chapman Andrews
Armies of Central Asia and the Himalayan Kingdoms ~ Ian Heath
Russian Civil War, Red Armies ~ Osprey
Russian Civil War, White Armies ~ Osprey
Chinese Civil War ~ Osprey
Making of the Frontier ~ Durand
Chitral, the Story of a Minor Siege ~ Surg. Maj. Robertson
The Unveiling of Lhasa ~ Edmund Candler
The Russian Civil War ~ Robert Jackson
Where Men and Mountains Meet ~ John Keay
The Gilgit Game ~ John Keay
This campaign is only one of the many that we run at our club on a weekly basis, check out our website below to see what else we get up to.
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