The Sword and the Flame - The Battle of Chamla Valley

"Enough now of these pages of rules, tables and measurements. Let us now leave them behind and journey to another time and place. Open your mind, let fly with your imagination and march into a valley on the Northwest Frontier of India in 1878..."
- The Sword and the Flame

The work had been completed. The miniatures had been procured, cleaned, primed, painted, dipped, highlighted, inked, based and flocked. The 4x8 table had been provisioned with hills, roads and scrub. We were prepared to play our first game and decided on the introductory scenario in the excellent ruleset: The Sword and the Flame.

A platoon of blue-turbaned Rattray's Sikhs was ordered to enter Chamla Valley and venture as far as the abandoned outpost to determine if it could be rebuilt as an advanced base of operations. Standing between the troops and a successful mission were fierce Pathans, hidden from sight. The stalwart troops headed out in column along the road up the center of the valley, with Gunga Din in tow. The road was flanked by hills, rocks and brush on either side which unsettled the troops. Luckily they knew that their objective lay just around the second hill on the left, along the bending road.

Was that rustle a bird, or a lurking enemy? Two scouts were deployed and on the left a mob of Pathan spearmen were discovered hiding in the rocks! The blue-turbaned Sikhs quickly changed to open order formation to meet the charging tribesmen.

As the Pathan horde thrust forward, the Sikhs aimed their weapons and fired a volley. Although only one Pathan was wounded, they lost their nerve and could not complete their charge. They withdrew to the safety of the nearby rocks. The Sikhs took that opportunity to close ranks and have half of the squad form line, ready to meet the next charge.

The scout on the right should have been looking ahead, but instead was distracted by the repulsed charge. He failed to alert the Sikh main force that a body of Pathan Rifles hidden in the rocks to their right had just leveled their weapons at his comrades. With a crack of the Pathan's rifles, four Sikhs dropped to the ground, wounded.

Both sides had taken casualties and neither showed signs of retreating. As the Sikhs closed to two ranks, the spearmen gathered themselves to charge again, while the faraway Pathan Rifles reloaded in hopes of unleashing another devastating volley.

To be continued...