Game 5 in our North Central Frontier Campaign

A Hard Day in Ahoogastan

We played this game at HOBBYTOWN in Jackson MS on March 6, 2004. This was the last in our five-game campaign set on the mythical "North Central Frontier" between British Indian and Ahoogastan, occupied by the fierce Pathans, under their supreme war chief Khan Abbis.

Photo by Jay Stribling

British player Ed Sansing (standing - red shirt) and one of the wiley Pathan players, Robert Whitfield (seated - black shirt) find amusement - probably at the antics of one of the pack mules. The British/Indian force was attempting to move a pack train, the length of the game table, along a serpentine road, to a fortified outpost.

The Pathans, following long-established custom, were attempting to steal the mules. A dead mule had no value for either side so it behooved both sides to be careful where they shot.

Photo by Ed Sansing

Larry Reeves (British player - seated) jokes with Jim Pitts (holding tray of Pathans). This is at the end of the first or second move. Note how pretty and orderly the pack train and escorts look. However, the Ahoogastani forces are beginning to appear on the brown hills and patches of scrub arround the train.

The Anglo-Indian players were:
Pack train commander, also commanding part of escort - John Murdaugh
British officer commanding part of escort - Larry Reeves
British officer commanding part of escort - Ed Sansing

The Pathan players were:
'The Evil' Khan Abbis (Supreme war leader) - Fred Diamond
First hill clan - (tribe of 2 units) - Led by: Robert Whitifield
Second hill clan - (tribe of 2 units) - Led by: Phil Young
Third hill clan - (tribe of 2 units) - Led by: Bill Reiman
Fourth hill clan - (tribe of 2 units) - Led by: Jim Pitts
Fifth hill clan - (tribe of 2 units) - Led by: Bryan Thompson
Sixth hill clan - (tribe of 2 units) - Led by: Fred Diamond (in addition to being overall leader)

The GAMEMASTER - Jay Stribling

Photo by Jay Stribling

A group of Pathan warriors skulks along the edge of one of the hills. This group tried always to stay behind the others, allowing the units which were closer to the British, to have the honor of sacrificing their lives for Allah.

Photo by Jay Stribling

After moving the width of the table, this group of dusty warriors has sighted the pack train, flowing along the valley floor ahead of them. The Ahoogastani forces were set up at random by the game-master, and the Pathan players then had to dice to see which were their commands. Some of the native units had to move great distances to reach the pack train. This was one of the first of the Ahoogastani units into combat.

Photo by Ed Sansing

First blood. A red-turbaned unit of Pathans fires from the top of a nameless hill overlooking the path. You can see men and animals knocked over, on the trail below. Answering fire from the escorts has hit one of the Pathans.

Firing on the pack train like this was dangerous. Black face cards would hit the pack animals.

Victory Conditions and notes

To WIN - The British must get the pack train to the fortifed village. OR have the most pack animals left at the end of the game. The Pathans must merely have the most pack animals left at the end of the game.


  1. This scenario was derived from one posted on the Colonial Wars Discussion group by Kelvin White. It was a refreshing change from some of our other games.
  2. There is a British garrison and an artillery piece in the fortified village at the edge of the table. It will take no action until it sees the pack train come around the last bend in the road.
  3. Pack animals move 3xD6 on road, 2xD6 off the road.
  4. Pack animals which lose their handler will move or stand stationary at random. A man may attempt to "capture" the pack animla by moving to it and rolling a D6. He captures a moving pack animal with a D6 roll of 6. He captures a stationary pack animal with a D6 roll of 3 or greater.

    Men who try to capture a pack animal and fail must roll a D6 for injury. On a result of 5 he is wounded. On a result of 6 he is stomped to death.

  5. Mules which were wounded were allowed to continue on as before, but were marked with a black ring (the specter of death!). A second hit of any type and the beast dropped dead.
  6. At the end of each turn, we added a "Recovery Phase". A D6 was rolled for each wounded man.

Photo by Jay Stribling

British commander John Murdaugh asks for the dice. He is certainly in a good mood.

Photo by Jay Stribling

Hard bitten Pathan chieftains survey the terrain. Left to right they are: Bryan Thompson (closest to camera, moving troops), Phil Young (eyes on the prize), and the Supreme leader of Ahoogastan himself, Fred Diamond (as Khan Abbis).

Photo by Jay Stribling

As the Escort forces move to one side of the long train of 17 pack animals, Pathans rush the other side of the column.

Photo by Robert Whitfield

The same scene as above, but viewed from the other side of the pack train. The attacking Ahoogastanis may seem to wear the patched Jibbas of the the dervishes, but those colors are merely deposits of colored dust on their robes.

Photo by Robert Whitfield

One of the British/Indian players touches up the alignment of the escort for the pack train. Note that the first pack animal is actually a camel, pressed into service "ranked as a mule".

Photo by Robert Whitfield

The pack train moves along the trail, making the first "big bend". The eyes of the enemy peer from all the surrounding heights.

Lessons Learned in our fifth campaign game
On the North Central Frontier

  1. The British need to be in close order and/or square if they anticipate close combat. Most of their close combats were in open order, where the Pathan tribesmen have an advantage.
  2. The Pathans stamd a good chance to not stand to a British attack, or close on them, but sometimes, when you really need them to break, they will not!
  3. Never assume that the enemy will not fire on an area containing both enemy and friendly troops.
  4. The Pathans CAN be bribed to fight among themselves.
  5. The Pack Mule is a cantankerous beast, however he is very important on the North Central frontier. Guard him carefully!

Photo by Ed Sansing

This photo shows the pack train after movment at the end of the third turn. This is as far as it got. Pathan warriors are engaging the rear and left flank of the escort. At the start of turn four, Bill Reiman threw his warriors at the head of the column. Although they did not close (twice!) they prevented the column's advance while other Pathan units came up.

Photo by Ed Sansing

The column collapses in on itself as the lead units pull back and the tail closes up. The last part of the column is now separate with it's own escort. Probably it would have been better to abandon it!

So - who won the game?

Lord Sterling (your trusty game-master, as well as the titular British commander) reluctantly proclaims a tie. The British had 6 mules and the Pathans had either 6 or 7 mules. As the Pathans were working individually and the British worked together, he feels that this is too slim a margin to award victory. Esspecially since the British did NOT reach the safety of the fortified outpost. He feels that both sides won (or lost).

This was to be the deciding game of the campaign also, so the campaign is tied. Khan Abbis is still in place, his palace unburnt, his captured guns still in hand, and enriched by 5 or 6 Imperial mules. Of course his attempt to raid through the Bulgur pass ended in an embarrasing failure, and Col Campbell's men have proven that they can stay in Ahoogastan (although certainly Lord Sterling will bring them home before snow closes the passes) - so - a tie! Perhaps in 2005 a 6th game will settle the matter.

We have now completed our "North Central Frontier" campaign. It will be some time before the British and their faithful Indian troops return to Ahoogastand. Yet - It may happen!

Possibly some more photos to come!

Go to "Blast those Pesky Tribesmen" - Our first "North Central Frontier" Battle

Go to "The Road to Barfus" - Our second "North Central Frontier" Battle

Go to "The Defense of JellyBad" - Our third "North Central Frontier" Battle

Go to "Assault on Khan Abbis' Lair" - Our fourth "North Central Frontier" Battle

Go to our Colonial Period Page

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