Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Back of Beyond Campaign

This past weekend I ran a campaign set in the “Back of Beyond” – nominally during the Russian Civil War in Central Asia. We used a modified version of DBA (mostly based on the DBA 1500-1900 Extension with a few tweaks of our own…). We took some liberties with the forces and setting for a variety of reasons (available figures, ease of play, etc.).

The entire campaign (four years, 12 turns) was played on Saturday 3 October 2009 between approximately 9AM and 9PM - stopping only briefly between 5-7 to nip over to Amigos for a bite to eat...

Here is what the map looked like:

The Forces involved were two Nominally White Russian/Tasrist forces; the 3rd Siberian Guards Division Commanded by General Bertolovski and the Central Asian Cavalry Division commander by Baron Roman Christof Maximillian Von Ungern-Tighem. Nominally supporting them was the Canadian Central Asian Expeditionary force commnded by Brigadier Biggles-Smythe, who has pushed their way up the rail line from Vladivostok. Opposing them were two forces of Bolsheviks; The Red October Division Commanded by General Strelnikov and the 4th Shock Army commanded by Comrade Commissar C.I. Knudsoloffskivichstein. Just across the border in china were territories commanded by two warlords; General Sun Jak-Shen commander of the “White Tiger” Division and Luong Wei-Roun commander of the Tang Ti Brigade.

I had originally thought of having special rules for some of the different factions about who they could or could not attack… The Chinese could not cross into Russia unless they were first invaded…. The Canadians would roll a die each year to see which Russian faction the western allies were wanting to prop up in hopes they might rejoin the war against the Germans… Bolsheviks could not ally with White Russians… etc, etc… But I’ve found that this kind of engineering doesn’t work out in the end. The astute players figure out what is going on and find a way to take advantage of the situation. I find it best to take a laissez-faire attitude towards that sort of thing as the players will come up with they own reasons to fight amongst themselves…

As it turned out this campaign, unlike the Previous Weekend Campaign turned out to have very little deal making and negotiation and diplomacy… and no treachery or back-stabbing AT ALL… No sure why that was… maybe because to the history of the conflict and the ideologies involved… players with more of an appreciation for history… lack of any realpolitiking movers and shakers… I don’t know… but lines were pretty much drawn in the sand on the first turn and the White cause was fighting a losing battle from the get-go…

You can find the rules we used for the campaign HERE.

Here’s how it all played out…

1918 – Spring

Over the winter the Canadian Central Asian Expeditionary Force had pusehed it’s way along the rail lines into Cental Asia and established a zone of control based around the City of Canadar. In early spring they marched through Canuckand to meet up with the
3rd Siberian Guards Division, marching south from Baoushka, at Vlodkask. There they met the Bolshevik the 4th Shock Army. There were a few minor skirmishes between out riders but Comrade Commissar C.I. Knudsoloffskivichstein, despite his fervent dedication to the cause, was a bit of a realist and retired his force back to Engelsk.

Further to the south The Red October Division marched on Tashkabad and laid siege to the walled city. The Emir of Tashkabad had decided to capitalize on the chaos and declared the city independent when the fighting broke out . The city held through the summer.

Off to the east the White Tiger Division marched through the territory of General Luong Wei-Roun to Wurumchi. There they found the General beating a hasty retreat, if not and utter route, out of the mountains. They were fleeing from the terrifying General Von Ungern-Tighem without having even met his force in battle. For the balance of the year they were secretly refered to as the “Yellow Tiger” brigade…

1918 – Sumer

In the summer fighting broke out in earnest. The Army of Von Ungern-Tighem, hot on the heels of the fleeing Chinese met both armies at Wurumchi

The Battle of Wurumchi

(click on the pictures to see a larger version)

The Forces of Ungern-Tighem face the “Yellow Tiger” Brigade – hoping to smash through them before their allies can be brought up.

The Cavalry clashed with the left of the Chinese line. In the melee Von Ungern-Tighem was knocked off his horse. Rumours quickly spread that their general had been killed Chaos and confusion ensued and quickly turned into a route!

When Ungern-Tighem finally caught up with his forces at Driutsek, riding a stolen Chinese mule his fury was inconsolable! He had nearly 300 men executed, then retired to his yurt with a selection of local ladies and was not seen for several days…

Further north The Tsarist and the Canadians split their forces; the Siberian Guards Division pursued the 4th Shock Army to Engelsk while the Canadians marched south to lift the siege at Tashkabad.

The Battle of Engelsk

Comrade Commissar C.I. Knudsoloffskivichstein marshals his forces to defend the city of Engelsk.

General Bertovski leads his forces into battle.

The battle began with a bit of an artillery duel, but the Bolsheviks were no match for the precision drilled gunners of the Tsarist forces. The Bolshevik guns were quickly silenced and forced them to go on the offensive lest they be pummeled to death by the guns of the imperialist dogs…

In the end he Bolsheviks were forced to retire and give up Engelsk.

The Battle of Tashkabad

Brigadier Biggles-Smythe marches his forces towards Tashkabad!

Somehow Brigadier Biggles-Smythe acquired a local to use as guide, interpreter and assistant dice roller…

General Strelnikov also ended up with an advisor and assistant dice roller…

It was a close fought battle, but eventually the Bolsheviks were forced to give up their Siege and retire back to Holopchi. The people of Tashkabad threw open their doors and welcomed their liberating Canadians with open arms and odd smelling dishes that caused them much gastrointestinal distress for some weeks…

1918 – Autumn

After a week of drunken debauchery General von Ungern-Tighem stumbled from his yurt outside of Driutsek to find the Chinese armies had followed him up into the mountains and had already surrounded the city! To avoid another disaster Von Ungern-Tighem retired his forces to hid “capitol” of Gura and the Chinese invested the city. Driutsek held on, however, and the Chinese were obliged to retire back through the mountains into China for the winter.

The Red October Division rallied at Holopchi and decided to return to Tashkabad. There, however, they found that the 3rd Siberian Guards Division had joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and decided discretion was the better part of valour and retired back to Holopchi for the winter.

The 4th Shock Army returned to Engelsk and besieged the city, but the Tsarist garrison held on and Knudsoloffskivichstein’s forces retired to Bakunin for the winter.

1918 Winter

All forces received reinforcements, bringing them all back to full war establishment… or as near as anyone in war can be near their full war establishment…

1919 – Spring…

After a winter of debauchery in Gura, von Ungern-Tighem had worked up a powerful thrist for blood and led his Central Asian Cavalry division back into China! Despite news of the immanent arrival of the “White Tiger” Division, von Ungern-Tighems forces were once again drawn up and readied to fight the Chinese!

The Second Battle of Wurumchi

Von Ungern-Tighem draws up his forces and sets off towards the “Yellow Tiger” Brigade who were arrayed to defend the city of Wurumchi.

Unfortunately, due to poor communication and possibly a terrible hangover, von Ungern-Tighems forces are still maneuvering when the lead elements of the “White Tiger” Division arrives!

The cavalry charges into the fray!!

Surrounded on all sides by the yellow horde an attack looked a bit like suicide.

Von Ungern-Tighem, leading from the front, fought furiously!

Despite the ferocity of their commander, it was an absolute slaughter… The Central Asian Cavalry Division limped back across the border having lost nearly half their number…!

Meanwhile, further to the North and East the combined forces of the Red October Division and the 4th Shock Army faced off against the 3rd Siberian Guards Division and the Canadian Expeditionary force at Engelsk.

The Second Battle of Engelsk

Comrade Commissar C.I. Knudsoloffskivichstein and General Strelnikov marshal their forces outside Engelsk.

The Canadian and Tsarist forces

The Bolshevik Horde

If it weren’t for the steady Canadians hammering of the 4th Shock Army the battle would have been an utter disaster for the Tsarist forces… still they were obliged to give up Engelsk. The Canadians retired to Tashkent and the Siberian Guards Division retired to Vlodkask.

1919 – Summer

After his staggering defeat in the spring, Von Ungern-Tighem spent much of the summer was spent avoiding battles and licking wounds. The Tang Ti Brigade of General Luong Wei-Roun pursued Von Ungern-Tighem to Driutsk. The Central Asian Cavalry Division was in no shape to risk another field battle so they continued on to Stlojia, leaving Luong Wei-Roun’s forces to besiege Driutsk.

The “White Tiger” Division of Sun Jak-Shen marched west to Bashkent, via Sui-Pei. They demanded the city give up or face the consequences and the doors were flung open to receive their new protector…

The Bolshevik Hordes pursued the Canadians to Tashkent. Realizing their foes had gone that way, General Bertolovski marched his forces that way as well…

The Second Battle of Tashkent

The lines advance

The Tsarist forces fought a desperate battle against the Red October Division on a hill Northwest of the city.

The Canadian Expeditionary Force met the 4th Shock Army to the Southwest.

Brigadier Biggles-Smythe contemplates his options.

General Bertolovski watches as time and again the Bolsheviks try to wrest his troops off of the hill.

The desperate battle reaches its climax

The Tsarists are forced from the hill and set to flight…

The forces of Imperialism are once again defested by the Bolsheviks and retired back to Vlodkask.

(When the kids returned from their days activities and found the battle board upstairs unoccupied – they decided to get intot he spirit of the tday and have a battle of their own using playmobil and duplo blocks…)

1919 – Autumn

The Bolsheviks maintained the momentum of their advance and followed the Tsarists and Canadians to Vlodkask. The Tsarists and Canadians were much too depleted to give battle there and so the 3rd Siberian Guards Division continued on to Baboushka where they would winter and refit, while the Canadians returned to Canackand to receive reinforcement drafts from home. The Bolsheviks besieged Vlodkask, but were unable to take it before winter set in and they were forced to retire to winter quarters.

The Tang-ti Brigade continued its siege of Driutsek with little success. The city held and the army retreated to Wurumchi for the winter.

The Army of Unger-Tighem however was on the move again and fell upon the white Tiger Division of General Sun Jak-Shen at Bashkent

The Battle of Bashkent

The Chinese mount the hill and pour fire down on The Army of Ungern-TIghem who were stlled by… well... I’m not sure why they were still standing there… Ill advice from international advisors…?

1920 – Spring

Once again the Tang-Ti Brigade marched north into the mountains to Driutsek, and once again fled from the terror that was the Central Asian Cavalry Division – the personal army of Baron von Ungern-Tighem – without even fighting…. Luckily the mighty General Sun Jak-shen had advanced to meet General Luong in Wurumchi, and the presence of the White Tiger Divison kept the retreat from turning into a rout!!

The Canadians, this year marched south to Driutsek to meet up with von Ungern-Tighem’s Forces, while the 3rd Siberian Guards Division stationed itself in Vlodkask to stall the advance of the Bolsheviks. When combined strength of the Red October Division and 4th Shock Army arrived the Tsarists once again retreated to Baboushka, leaving the Bolsheviks to besiege Vlodkask. The city was weary of siege, remembering the trials and hardships of the previous year and fell to the Bolshevik forces only a few weeks later.

1920 – Summer

The Tang Ti Brigade, now backed up by the White Tiger Division again marched up to Driutsek only to find the Canadians and the Army of von Ungern-Tighem had vacated leaving only a small garrison that held on through most of the summer, but eventually surrendered the city to the.

The Army of von Ungern –Tighem had, in fact, marched west with the Canadians to Bashkent. The Central Asian Cavalry Division stormed the city before they even knew they were under attack. Von Unger-Tighem’s troops sacked the city before moving on. All the Chinese prisoners taken were crucified along the road as the Division pressed on to the south!

The Red October Division held in Vlodkask, raping and pillaging while the 4th Shock Army moved on to pursue the Tsarists to Baboushka…

The Battle of Baboushka

The Bolshevik 4th Shock Army marches on the Tsarist Stronghold of Baboushka.

It was a hard fought battle but eventually the Tsarists were overcome and the city from the tyranny and oppression of the imperialists and introduced to a whole new kind of tyranny and oppression!

1920 – Autumn

The Canadians tool their leave of the Mad Baron von Unger-Tighem and marched north to Vlodkask to aid the Tasrists there. When they arrived they found out the 4th Shock Army had returned to join the Red October Division. Quickly the Canadians turned tail and ran back to Bashkent, from where they made their way back to Canauckand via Stlojia for the winter…

The 3rd Siberian Guards Division waited in Borschka for the Bolsheviks to come… but they did not. The Canadians arrival at Vlodkask had successfully stalled them long enough that they weren’t able to mount an operation to Borshka in the fall. The 4th Shock Army remained in Vlodkask for the winter while the Red October Division retired to Tashkabad…

What of the Chinese…? Well, realizing they’d been outmaneuvered and that the White Tiger division’s line of supply was severely threatened they hastily headed back into China, but could only get as far as Sui-Pei…. And then… well... I really have no decent fluff to explain it away because what happened next was nothing short of rules-lawyery… (of course I’m the moron that let them get away with it... so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much…)

The Chinese fought each other…

That’s right, Genral Sun Jak-shen must have thrown a hissy-fit, or something, at Luong Wei-Roun for letting him get cut off and so they met on a “ceremonial” field of battle General Luong Wei-Roun (or perhaps one of his aides dressed dressed in his uniform) rode forth to be shot down by a literal firing squad, thus “losing a battle” and Sui-Pei along with it to the White Tiger Division thus giving them a place to retreat to for the winter and not be knocked out of the game… conveniently all stands lost were recovered in the Winter…. Huzzah for clever manipulation of the rules!

I didn’t even get a picture of it. They claim the set it up and played it out while I was out of the room… It was THAT quick!!

1921 – Spring

There was some pretty fancy dancing in the spring of 1921….

The Tsarist 3rd Siberian Guards Division marched from Borshka to Vlodkask, only to find the 4th Shock Army had already left to march on Canuckand. The Canadian Expeditionary Force, meanwhile, had marched north from Canuckand to Borschka and then on to Vlodkask to meet with the Tsarist 3rd Siberian Guards Division. When the Red October Division marched north from Tashkabad to Vlodkask to find two armies investing the city, they quickly turned tail and marched back…

The Tsarist 3rd Siberian Guards Division took Vlodkask, and the 4th Shock Army took Canuckand…!?

Further south the Tang Ti Brigade marched from Wurumchi to Sui Pei and then north to Bashkent and invested it, only narrowly missing the Army of Unger-Tighem, which had wintered in Stlojia and headed for Ulan-Goom in the spring. The garrison more fearful of the Wrath of the Baron von Ungern-Tighem held on against all odds!

In Ulan Goom von Ungern-Tighem met with Sun Jak-Shen and his White Tiger Division.

The Battle of Ulan Goom

Perhaps a little cocky from his previous pastings of von Ungern-Tighem’s army, Sun Jak-Shen perhaps thought defeating his foe and his “out-dated” cavalry was a mere matter of marching up and driving them off…

But there is a bit of devilish cunning behind the crazed askew eyes of the “Mad Baron”…

Relentlesly mocked by all players in the campaign so far, von Ungern-Tighem unleashed his Mongol cavalrymen. The swept north around the mountain that looked over the city of Ulan Goom and successfully outflanked the pickets of the White Tiger Division.

Sun Jak-Shen quicky tried to bring forces back to guard the baggage train, but the Mongols rode them down and looted the camp. Panic spread among the troops of the White Tiger Division and they broke and routed…

1921 - Summer

The Dance of the Tsarists and Bolsheviks continued… The Canadians marched north to Baboushka and south again to Canuckand. There they laid siege to the city that had once been under their control, but were unable to wrest it from the Bolshevik garrison within.

The 4th Shock Army, meanwhile had marched directly back to Vlodkask and, there meeting the Red October Division, laid siege to that city… and was unable to take it in the summer…

The 3rd Siberian Guards Division had marched south to Bashkent and fought the Chinese there besieging the city…

The Second Battle of Bashkent

The Chinese rush forward!

The battle was hard fought, but eventually the Tsarists were obliged to retire. As news had arrived that two Bolshevik forces were in Vlodkask, General Bertelovski chose to lead his troops to Stlojia.

The Tang Ti Brigade then continued their Siege of Bashkent…. Unsuccessfully…

In the South the Army of Baron von Ungern-Tighem stormed the city of Wei-Li while The White Tiger Division returned to Ulan Goom to take it back by siege.

1921 – Autumn

Hoooo-boy… is anyone still reading this…? I’m getting kind of tired of writing it… and, to be honest, by this time I was getting really tired of RUNNING the campaign… Autumn began with a great debate about whether the Bolsheviks could give up their siege at Vlodkask and march, together, to Canauckand… Perhaps I shouldn’t say I was tired of running the campaign… I was just plain TIRED. I’d had an exhausting week and was really winding down and had been since about suppertime (Summer-Autumn 1920, in game terms). I could barely think, let alone make a sensible ruling… in the end the Bolsheviks decided to stay in Vlodkask and continue their siege, While the Canadians and Tsarists Continued with their siege of Canuckand. Neither was successful in their attempt. Nor was the Tang Ti Brigade successful at taking Bashkent for that matter…

Further south The White Tiger Division hurried south to relieve their capitol, which was being ruthlessly sacked by Ungern-tighem and his troops. There they met on the battlefield one last time…

The Battle of Wei-Li

Once again von Ungern-Tighem tried to outflank the White Tiger Division with his Mongols, but Sun Jak-Shen is a quick learner and would not be fooled again…

Most died in a hail of machine-gun fire. The Army was broken and routed, but, being completely cut off most were massacred as they tried to run. The Baron von Ungern-Tighem himself was severely wounded and captured. He was executed a couple days later in Wei-Li and left to rot in a ditch outside the city on the edge of the desert.

Final Results

Player: Terry
Army: Canadian Central Asian Expeditionary Force
Commander of the Field Army: Brigadier Biggles-Smythe
Cities: Canuckand, Canadar
Prestige Points:
Battles: 6
Cities: 12
Total: 18

Player: Christian
Army: 4th Shock Army
Commander of the Field Army: Comrade Commissar C.I. Knudsoloffskivichstein
Base of Operations: Bakunin
Other Cities: Bakunin, Kropotkand, Engelsk, Baboushka, Canuckand
Prestige Points:
Battles: 4
Cities: 30
Total: 34

Player: Gary
Army: General Strelnikov
Commander of the Field Army: Red October Division
Cities: Kubassa, Pyrohy, Holopchi, Tashkabad
Prestige Points:
Battles: 4
Cities: 24
Total: 28

Player: John Bertolini
Army: 3rd Siberian Guards Division
Commander of the Field Army: General Bertolovski
Cities: Borschka, Vlodkask
Prestige Points:
Battles: 10
Cities: 12
Total: 22

Player: Chris
Army: Central Asian Cavalry Division
Commander of the Field Army: Baron Roman Christof Maximillian Von Ungern-Tighem
Cities: Gura, Stlojia, Bashkent
Prestige Points:
Battles: 6
Cities: 18
Total: 24

Player: Jackson
Army: “White Tiger” Division
Commander of the Field Army: General Sun Jak-Shen
Cities: Wei-Li, Ching-ho, Ulaan-Goom, Sui-Pei
Location of Field Army:
Prestige Points:
Battles: 16
Cities: 24
Total: 38

Player: Rick
Army: Tang Ti Brigade
Commander of the Field Army: General Luong Wei-Roun
Base of Operations:
Other Cities: Lung-Hu, Wurumchi, Driutsek
Prestige Points:
Battles: 16
Cities: 18
Total: 34

Congratulations to Jackson (Sun Jak-Shen) and his White Tiger Division for his hard fought victory (we didn’t just let you win because it was your birthday…)! Once again Rick was robbed of overall victory due to clever manipulation of the Campaign Rules… but at least this time it was his own doing (so I don't feel so bad...)!!

Overall I think it went over… okay… As I mentioned I was really damn tired and had a trying week and just didn’t feel quite as prepared as I would have liked. It wasn’t quite as awesome as the HOTT Campaign in June. As with every event, though, I learned a lot and will make some changes for next time… already starting to plot and plan for the Dark Ages Campaign in February (which will also be the Sixth Annual Tim’s Wargaming Birthday Bash!)

Thanks to John and Gary and Rick and Jackson and Christian – and especially to Terry and CVT who drove all the way from Edmonton! Despite my utter exhaustion at the end of it all it was a pretty darn good time… I guess the players were having a good enough time too, as they totally skipped having lunch and raged on with the campaign instead!?

The next morning CVT went for a little run before heading back to Edmonton… Terry and I rode along to encourage him (and maybe heckle a bit…)

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