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"The Battle of Elephant Paw Pass - a NWF campaign game" Topic

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Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2022 3:18 p.m. PST

Since this past Summer most of my hobby activity has come from a NWF campaign being played out by myself and 5 other colonial gamers over on LAF (the Lead Adventure Forum). It's the first miniatures campaign I've participated in since the 1980s, and it has been and continues to be a helluva lot of fun.

The six participants are spread across the USA and Italy. Each player controls their own "region" of the North West Frontier with their own Pathan/Pashtun Tribe and Anglo-Indian garrisons, against the backdrop of a spreading uprising against British Rule. The action is loosely based on the Frontier uprisings of 1897-98, but our start date was 1890. Most operations are conducted "internally" and the resulting skirmishes and battles played as solo games, but from time to time enemy forces controlled by opposing players have met and real-time player-vs-player games have resulted. One of these was fought remotely via webcams and Google Meet; one was fought in-person after interstate travel; and one was fought with a local stand-in deputized by the off-site player.

A wide array of colorful characters have emerged to supplement the handful of Anglo-Indian and Pathan commanders. There is also a local periodical -- The Peshawar Tribune -- which from time-to-time publishes issues chronicling various events of triumphant, tragic and/or comedic value throughout the Theater of Operations, which reaches from Peshawar itself, through Waziristan, Tirah, Swat, Chitral and the Black Mountains, all the way to Kabul, Afghanistan and the Khanates at the edge of Imperial Russian Central Asia.

The latest action involved a British brigade advancing into the relatively unknown Shakhot Valley in pursuit of the rebel leader Gul Akbar Khan, who recently attacked the British Cantonments at Dargai, where despite being defeated he managed to free his extended family who were being held prisoner in the British camp. (In full disclosure if you ask him he'd say this turned his ostensible defeat into a victory, but I would beg to differ!)

One of the great things about playing in a campaign is that it generates scenarios that are intrinsically linked to a wider world. If you need that brigade you're using in the battle to remain intact after the battle ends, in order to occupy new territory and/or return to its base of operations and continue to serve as a threat to the enemy in the surrounding territory… it is likely to have some influence on your decisions as the battlefield commander.

In this case, the resulting battle was a hard-fought affair, most of which occurred in HATHI DARA -- the "Elephant Paw" pass -- the name for the southern entrance to Shakhot Valley, carved out of a much narrower natural pass approximately two-thousand years ago, to make the road passable for an ancient emperor's elephants. In fact the valley is home to a trio of Gandharan ruins (mixing ancient Greek and Indian art styles) that date back to the Kushan Empire of the 2nd-3rd Century AD. But if the British brigade is unable to fight its way through the Elephant Paw, these historical treasures will remain beyond their grasp, together with the enemy army they seek to further shatter, and the High Value Prisoners they seek to recapture.

Gul Akbar and his Lashkar (war party) learn of the approach of the British from a local shepherd sympathetic to their cause (there goes the element of surprise)…


The Mullah known as Jihad Jamal preaches to the Ghazis he has brought to aid Gul Akbar's fight against the Ferengi…


View of Shakhot Valley with the 12th Punjab Cavalry leading the British approach towards Elephant Paw Pass…


Battle is joined…


Gul Akbar attempts to rally his retreating tribal horsemen…


Even when the chips are down, they don't call him Jihad Jamal for nothing…


If you'd like to see a bunch more pics and learn how the battle turned out, click on the handy LINK below to visit my blog, and thanks in advance for your time if you choose to do so!


Also, for anyone interested in the larger "Never trust anyone of the Frontier" campaign, here's a LINK to the page of the LAF thread with an AAR on Gul Akbar's attack on Dargai that led to the Hathi Dara operation:


Wargamorium20 Feb 2022 3:22 p.m. PST

Excellent. Very impressive! Well done.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2022 4:26 p.m. PST

Gaming at its absolute finest! Are there any links to copies of The Peshawar Tribune?

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2022 5:04 p.m. PST

It is a very nice-looking game. I especially like the tents and tower.

By the way, there is an English language newspaper called the Peshawar Express Tribune. It's worth consulting if you need ideas for scenarios, because, alas! things thereabouts haven't changed much in the last century or so. For instance, one of the articles just now it "Three Injured in Grenade Attack on Peshawar Police Station." Clearly, this calls for a punitive expedition!


BigfootLover20 Feb 2022 5:30 p.m. PST


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2022 6:20 p.m. PST

Absolutely top notch work. 5 star across the board.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2022 6:48 p.m. PST

Another fantastic report on your ongoing actions. Thanks,


Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2022 11:15 p.m. PST

Thanks very much for all the positive feedback, guys, it means a great deal to me, and Colonel Campbell, my friend, you are very welcome indeed!

@Grelber: Yes, I do know of the existence of that real world newspaper, but I haven't checked their site for many months, and now thanks to your comment, I will make a point to do so in the very near future!

RE: the tents and the tower… in case it's of interest, here's a LINK to my blog post from way back in 2017 on building the tower:


…the follow-up post on painting it:


…and finally a much more recent post on making the tents:


John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2022 7:10 a.m. PST

That is way beyond incredible! I am blown away!
thumbs up thumbs up
I think I will print and frame some of your pics. Inspiring and any other adjective pale in comparison to how beautiful that table is.
I am doing NWF in 54mm. So this is a wonderful reference for me. I bought a friends painted collection to combine with my own of 800 figs, Cavalry, elephants and artillery. I have been stumbling on the terrain. Yours immediately grabbed my interest!

Any posts about how the mountains were made?



GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2022 7:12 a.m. PST

Fabulous, across the board wonderful scenery and scenario, thanks for sharing, and congrats!

Legionarius21 Feb 2022 7:22 a.m. PST

Epic. Kipling would approve!

Lascaris21 Feb 2022 11:52 a.m. PST

What a fabulous report. I'm having to control my urge to order a bunch of NWF figures now….

Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2022 4:36 p.m. PST

Oh, man, so many positive vibes, Oddball and Moriarity would be proud!

First off, @BIG RED: Sincere apologies for not taking note of your request for issues of the "Pesh Trib" (as those in-the-know call it!) when you first put it up…


Here's a LINK to the thread on LAF that contains an issue towards the bottom of the page:


I will dig around and also ask the editor AKA: Mulehead Khan AKA: Evil Giorgio, for a link to the very first issue, which is pretty awesome. There are now 36 pages on the thread devoted to this campaign, so locating any particular component part -- especially one I was not directly responsible for -- is a bit of a challenge!

Meanwhile, for anyone interested, here's a LINK to the very start of the campaign over on LAF:


@John Leahy: Wow, I'd love to see pics of your vast 54mm NWF collection in action, even if there are no mountains in sight! Do you know Nick Stern at all? He's a big-time colonial gamer and also has changed-over from 28mm and/or 15mm figures to mostly gaming with giant scales like yourself.

RE: terrain tutorials… here's a LINK to the first post I ever did on building a "vertical wood-chip rocky hill"…


Here's one on making far more simple & modest rocky terrain to match:


And here's one on how to make simple "low sandy hills," also to match:


Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2022 9:06 p.m. PST

Here's another LINK to a particularly entertaining edition of The Peshawar Tribune, located towards the bottom of the 19th page of the campaign thread over at LAF:



AuttieCat22 Feb 2022 7:02 a.m. PST

Wow, is about all I have to say! I have a question: If your games are multi-player and the players are from various parts of the U.S.A. and Italy---How do you play a turn?
Tom Semian
Irvine, PA. 16329

AuttieCat22 Feb 2022 7:06 a.m. PST

Wow, is about all I have to say! I have some questions:

#1. If your games are multi-player and the players are from various parts of the U.S.A. and Italy---How do you play a turn?

#2. How long does it take to play a turn?

#3. How long does it take for your group to play a full game?


Tom Semian
Irvine, PA. 16329

Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2022 9:36 a.m. PST


With a question so important you had to ask it twice -- and which multiplied BY THREE -- I definitely have to answer it at least once!

First of all, thanks very much for the "wow" compliment! Now on to the answers…


If your games are multi-player and the players are from various parts of the U.S.A. and Italy---How do you play a turn?
I think I explained this in the second paragraph of the original post above:

Most operations are conducted "internally" and the resulting skirmishes and battles played as solo games, but from time to time enemy forces controlled by opposing players have met and real-time player-vs-player games have resulted. One of these was fought remotely via webcams and Google Meet; one was fought in-person after interstate travel; and one was fought with a local stand-in deputized by the off-site player.

But I suppose there are two different kinds of "turns" in a campaign -- the "campaign" turns and the game turns within a single tabletop battle generated as part of said campaign -- and of course the answer I quoted you mostly covers the tabletop battle kind.

Thinking about it now for the first time ever… we really don't have official "campaign turns" -- though the campaign has been going on continuously now since July 2021.

If forced to quantify what constitutes a "turn" in the campaign… I would define it as each time a participating player posts a new campaign-related development (as opposed to insulting and complimentary banter alone, which also occurs!) on the LAF thread -- so kind of a "variable length bound" sort of turn, to use an old-school wargaming term, as there is no uniform time-frame for all those many posts… at least not one we players have tried to organize or impose. We just go back and forth posting new developments… some of which are more interactive than others. Hope that's not too confusing! Again, this is in relation to CAMPAIGN turns, NOT tabletop game turns.

Here's a LINK to a game from the same campaign that one of my fellow players -- Jeff Baumal in Florida, who goes by SGT GUINNESS here on TMP and also over on LAF -- played with his gaming club, involving a relief force trying to fight their way across a valley/tabletop in order to fight their way through the Bulgur Pass and relive his beleaguered garrison in Chitral Fort:


He fought that one with local gamers but for the next one his opponent was able to visit from the Mid-West to play against him face-to-face -- this time as the Russians crossing the border from Zebak into Chitral. That battle has been fought but the AAR has yet to be posted… so the results have yet to be incorporated into the campaign.

Here's a LINK to the AAR on the attack on the Dargai Cantonments by the tribal rebel army of another player located in El Paso, Texas. We played that one on my table here in Los Angeles, California, in real-time using our computers and a webcam to share views of the table:



How long does it take to play a turn?

If we're talking tabletop game turns… when we played the above linked attack on Dargai remotely, one turn took a bit longer than it normally would -- maybe 1/2-HR to an hour, depending on how much movement, firing, morale checks, etc. required, since I was moving the figures based on my opponent's instructions, while he was rolling the dice concerned.


How long does it take for your group to play a full game?

I think that full "Attack on Dargai" game took at least 6 hours of play over the computer -- maybe a bit more -- spread out over the course of an afternoon and evening with a few breaks.

takeda33328 Feb 2022 2:42 a.m. PST

Gorgeous table and beautiful minis! Simply superb!

SgtGuinness Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2022 6:30 p.m. PST

Mad Guru, outstanding! You continuously set the bar higher and higher with your tables. I do wish I could join you at Desert Wars in AZ next month to replay this battle.

This really has been such an awesome experience being part of this truly Epic NWF campaign with our USA and Italian contingents! Bob and I had a blast playing the Russians first incursion into the Chitral district. As you mentioned we played this game at our South Florida, Fort Lauderdale, club house, Das Krieg Haus, home of SMG, South Florida Miniatures Gamers.

My AAR is long overdue!


Umra Khan17 Oct 2022 12:54 a.m. PST

Hello Mad Guru and SgtGuinness,
great post and wonderful description of the campaign.

SgtGuinness Supporting Member of TMP17 Oct 2022 3:59 a.m. PST

Hello Umra my friend. What an incredible looking table!!!

Umra Khan17 Oct 2022 6:10 a.m. PST

Superb table !!

Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2022 9:40 p.m. PST

Many thanks, oh gracious Umra!

Thank you too, Sarge!!! And hey… didn't you finally post the full AAR for that Russkies vs. Afghans game??? You should put it here -- or if you already posted somewhere else on TMP, at least put a LINK to that post here, for all the OCD hobby completists such as myself!

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