Tuesday, 28 January 2020

The Mungo Mah Lobeh Congo Campaign Adventure 2

Adventure 2 - The Search For Deeper Knowledge
Campaign Journal compiled by Alan, of Tring Wargames Club

“Money is one thing, but it will not suffice to keep me alive in such a hostile environment. I also need to tap the wealth of knowledge of the inhabitants, who know this savage country like the back of their hand. In exchange for a few trinkets, I hope they will prove willing to teach me everything I will need to survive...” – Mary Kingsley

Flushed with success from her first venture, Mary Kingsley now has the funds she needs for the remainder of her of the expedition, and plans to set out on her trek. However, she has also learned that she has incurred the ire of a local witch-doctor, and hopes fervently that their paths will not cross again – this is Congo, so not much hope of that, of course!
In the Mungo Mah Lobeh campaign, both sides journey between the adventures which comprise the campaign, and each side must choose a route to travel. Each route has a unique effect on the two sides, and also has its own Encounter table, so it is essentially a trade-off between the benefits and risks. The only restriction is that the winner of the last adventure gets first pick of the routes, and the opponent cannot choose the same one.
Each side in the campaign keeps a Travel Log, which records how the forces are doing; in Mary’s case, she records how long her expedition is taking, and her objective is to complete it as quickly as possible. The witch-doctor Ujuwa tracks his Spiritual Link points, and his goal is to amass as many as possible, in order to increase his influence with the gods.

Travelling to the Next Adventure
Mary chose to travel “Through Thriving Jungle” to the second adventure of the expedition. She succeeds in making the journey in 4 months, and her roll on the Encounter table allowed her to recruit 2 Auxiliaries en route, which she promptly puts to work as additional Bearers.
During her journey, she also gets a report that the news reporter JJ who is accompanying her party has fulfilled her role quite nicely, and her article in the bulletin of the Société Géographique about Mary’s trip to the Maskouii village (she gets 3D6 to try for successful rolls, and so could add up to 3VP to Mary’s total) has earned Mary additional Victory Points, for a final total for the first adventure of 18VP.

Ujuwa has considerably less luck on his travels. He elects to travel “Over Swift Water”, but fails to make his success roll, so he only gets one extra point on the Spiritual Link track on his Travel Log.
His Encounter table roll brings more bad news.  Every unit in Ujuwa’s forces must now make a success roll to avoid losing a figure, with the effect that the Young Warriors are reduced to 4 figures, and the Warriors are reduced to 4.

The Forces
Mary is accompanied on this adventure by her Kirangozi Kiva and by the reporter JJ.  Her party has the same successful make-up as the last adventure, including Adventurers, Soldiers, Askaris, Ruga-Ruga, and Young Warriors. She now also has three Bearers.
Her opponent Ujuwa is accompanied by his allies, the Fang chieftain M’Otowanfa, and the Werda-Fakawi Pygmy King O’Mi’Lordi. His party also has the same make-up as the first adventure, consisting of Warriors, Archers, Pygmy Warriors, Pygmy Archers, some Scouts, and M’Otowanfa has replaced the Bundukis lost in the last adventure. Ujuwa places the remaining Sacred Warrior with his Warriors and accompanies the Archers himself.

The Adventure
“Dawn has not yet risen when Mary arrives at the small village to meet up with Koulibali the guide, Ahoura the witch-doctor, and Mauree the wise man. She hopes they will teach her all they know about the savannah, the jungle, the local population, and above all, the hidden dangers of Africa. The survival of her expedition is at stake.”
Ujuwa’s goal is of course to deny Mary the opportunity to learn this knowledge, which he intends to do by kidnapping the three Teachers.
Note that the table and terrain used for this game looks rather different – we were using Martin’s dining-room table instead of the one at our weekly club meet. Also, Alan forgot to bring the Hyenas, so some suitably aggressive-looking felines were drafted in from Martin’s animal collection.

By request – a whole table view from the eastern edge at the start - Mary is on the left 

The villagers of course, have no idea what is about to happen to them, and the village women are calmly doing all the work, collecting water and wood and cooking breakfast, while the Teachers attend to the important business, presumably meditating on the meaning of life!

The village women going about their business

Mary wins the Initiative roll for this adventure. Initially, both sides actually end up doing virtually the same thing - advancing towards the huts on the centreline of the table and trying to put ju-ju (i.e. Stress tokens) on their opponents.

Ujuwa’s forces pass some termite mounds

Ujuwa is initially somewhat more successful. His Bundukis both pick up the pace and use a Movement totem card to reach the middle hut, which they promptly plunder and are lucky enough to capture the first Teacher.
Ujuwa’s Scouts enter the nearest area of High, Dangerous terrain. Being Scouts, they avoid a roll on the appropriate Encounter Table, but they do make a Discovery, which turns out to be Cursed. In this case “All Is Well”, but the Stress token they also collect deploys the Hyena pack, which Mary gets to place in the High, Dangerous terrain right next to Ujuwa and his Archers – not quite what they would have wished for at this stage.

On the first Action Step of turn 2, the Hyenas immediately attack Ujuwa and his Archers, causing them another casualty.

Ujuwa’s Archers stalked by Hyenas near some strange rock formations

On the next Action Step, Mary’s Young Warriors close in on the middle hut, but they are on the opposite side to Ujuwa’s Bunduki, so no one has a line of sight. The Young Warriors definitely start to feel the stress of being so far out in front of friendly forces, but for now they are OK.

Mary’s Young Warriors arrive at the middle hut

The Hyenas continue to stalk Ujuwa and his Archers, but do not attack a second time.
Meanwhile, out on the flank, Mary’s Askaris make contact with the westernmost hut, but fail to persuade the Teacher therein to accompany them. They do succeed in finding some Loot though, which they promptly appropriate.

Ujuwa casts his Wild Bull’s Breath ritual on Mary’s Ruga-Ruga, who are exploring some High, Dangerous terrain, and have found a Discovery token. The Rugas are already feeling pretty nervous, so the ghastly sound and smell of the Bull’s Breath cause them to Flee towards the nearest table edge, meaning they drop the Discovery token they just collected.

Mary’s Ruga-Ruga drop their Loot and run

Feeling pretty pleased with himself, Ujuwa then leads his Archers to the easternmost hut, where they capture the third Teacher.

 Ujuwa and the Archers capture the Teacher from the eastern hut

Mary’s Young Warriors are clearly still feeling their oats in the centre though, because they suddenly rally and start to move round the middle hut to engage Ujuwa’s Bundukis. Before they can close, however, they take fire from the Bundukis and then fail the Terrifying Death Roll, which costs them their accompanying Bearer.

Ujuwa’s Bundukis engage Mary’s Warriors with their muskets

On turn 3, Ujuwa’s Bundukis retreat from the middle hut, taking the captured Teacher with them. However, they fall foul of a Hyena attack, which costs them a figure. Mary’s Young Warriors are deterred from following them when they draw a Panic Stress token, which immobilises them for the rest of the turn.
The Bundukis welcome the brief respite, and take the opportunity to reload their muskets.
Mary’s Ruga-Ruga answer Ujuwa’s magic with a volley from their muskets, killing another of the Archers. Ujuwa has to face the Terrifying Death Roll, but survives.

The Ruga-Ruga fire on Ujuwa’s Archers

Ujuwa would like to pull his Archers out of the village taking the Teacher and the Loot token he has found with him, but they are effectively pinned, with the Hyenas to their rear and Mary’s Soldiers advancing slowly towards the middle hut. He elects to stand and fight it out with the Ruga-Ruga – a serious mistake as we will soon see!
Ujuwa’s Pygmy Archers continue to sneak up the western flank. They are not yet in range, but the poison on their arrows is fresh, and they are just itching for the chance to use it on someone...

The Bundukis still feel very exposed, and fall back into the termite mounds, taking their Teacher captive with them. There, they pick up a Discovery token, but their Encounter Table roll mandates a Downpour for the duration. All shooting is now limited to Medium range, and shooting Stress effects are doubled.

The Bundukis seek cover in the termite mounds

Ujuwa tries his magic again, only to see disaster strike! Intending to cast the Ritual of the Mandrill’s Dance, Ujuwa knows that his accompanying Archers already have one Stress token, so he decides to risk a second one in order to give himself 2D8 for the ritual.  However, he draws a Panic Stress token, meaning that his ritual has backfires horribly, and the gods are angered. He falls to the ground, frothing at the mouth and writhing uncontrollably; he will be out of action for the rest of the game.

To make things worse, the Ruga-Ruga have reloaded their muskets and give the Archers another volley. Some lucky dice rolling sees two more Archers bite the dust – they are now down to just one figure remaining!

All that’s left of the Archers after the Ruga-Ruga fire

On turn 4, Ujuwa’s forces feel the need to consolidate their gains thus far. Seeing their leader collapse in the dust, Ujuwa’s forces decide that discretion is the better part of valour, and start to withdraw, but unfortunately for them several groups are too heavily encumbered to move very quickly.
Mary’s Soldiers finally move up to the middle hut, intent on bringing their superior firepower to bear. Meanwhile, Mary’s Young Warriors kill off several Pygmy Archers, leaving the Pygmy King feeling very lonely in the middle of nowhere.

The Hyenas have not gone away either, and now turn their attention to Ujuwa’s Warriors, who are unable to retaliate since they have no missile weapons – the campaign rules don’t allow a group to melee with them. One of the Warriors provides the Hyenas with an early dinner.

The Hyenas pounce on Ujuwa’s Warriors

On turn 5, the Bundukis turn their muskets on the nearby Hyena threat, despatching two of them, and thereby earning themselves their first hunting trophy.

Big Game Hunt! The Bundukis take down two Hyenas

Mary’s Soldiers meanwhile, give chase to, and by using a Movement totem card, catch Ujuwa’s remaining Archer, who are trying to sneak away along the eastern flank with one of the Teachers and a Loot token. In the resulting melee, the Soldiers kill the last Archer for the loss of one of their own, but the cost is worth it, as they capture both the Teacher and the Loot.

The Movement sticks show how the Soldiers caught up with Ujuwa’s Archer

Over on the other flank, the other sub-group of Ujuwa’s Pygmy Archers move up to protect the Pygmy King O’Mi’Lordi. They then seek retribution for the loss of their comrades by firing on Mary’s Explorer group, which is accompanied by Mary herself. The Pygmies roll their 3D6 and get three 5’s which, per the Pygmy Archers special rules, means they cause three casualties to the Explorers, AND with no saving throw. The Explorers are wiped out; clearly, the fresh poison on the Pygmies’ arrows is most efficacious!  Unfortunately from Ujuwa’s perspective, Mary herself and her accompanying Bearer survive the Terrifying Death Roll, leaving them counting their lucky stars and wondering why they are still alive!
On turn 6, the scenario rules require the holder of the Initiative marker, which at this point happens to be Mary, to roll before each Action Phase to determine if the game is over. She rolls a success, so as with the first adventure, the second ends before even the first Action Phase.

Tallying the Adventure
Under the campaign rules, Victory Points are determined by using both the generic rules in the main Congo rule-book, and also by any specific rules which are outlined in the adventure summary.
Once again, Mary won this adventure by a clear margin, but one obtained mainly in the last turn, by grabbing the Teacher and Loot which Ujuwa and the Archers had captured earlier. Poaching is not only allowed but positively encouraged in Congo, so all’s fair in love and war!
Her forces ended therefore, by capturing two of the Teachers, which secured her 8VP. She also earned 1VP for Ujuwa’s demise, and a total of 12VP for the many Loot tokens plundered from the various huts, and taken from Ujuwa’s Archers. However, she lost 2 VP for her Bearer killed, for a total of 19 VP from the game. The reporter JJ’s news report earns her another 2, for a final total of 21VP for the adventure.
The two teachers captured give Mary two more domains of Knowledge, and she also obtained her first three Discoveries, one each in Fauna, Flora and Geology.

 Ujuwa ended up feeling rather Poorly as a result of his failed ritual, and this will carry over to the next adventure. His forces did manage to retain one Discovery, in Ritual Objects, and he has earned his first domain of Knowledge, courtesy of the one Teacher he managed to hang on to. He also obtained his first Hunting trophy, by killing two of the Hyenas.
He was only able to cast one Sacred Ritual before the gods punished him, so he only earned one Spiritual Link point for himself. However, his one Sacred Warrior did come through this time, earning him a second Link point for the adventure.

However, he is going to have to perform rather better in the remaining adventures if he is going to overturn Mary’s current lead in Accomplishment Points.
Travelling to the next adventure will be resolved prior to playing that adventure.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

More Little Boats (and other things) at Tring

Keiron wanted another try at Cruel Seas, so I put together a simple scenario for a game at the club last Friday. A British frigate had suffered engine damage from an air attack and was try to return to base, escorted by two Fairmile B motor launches. A steam gunboat had been dispatched in support. In the meantime German raiders were closing in, in the shape of a pair of S-boats and a Type 34 torpedo boat.

The Fairmiles veer off to engage the S-boats while the frigate plods on.

The steam gunboat rushes forward at full speed.

The Type 34 torpedo boat closes in from one side....

...while the S-boats attack from the other.

The first S-boats launches her torpedoes, not a moment too soon as she take heavy damage from the combined fire of the Fairmiles (2 crits, a rudder hit and an engine hit, not good!).

The Steam gunboat throws two fish at the Type 34, whilst blasting her with the forward 6 pounder.

One of the SGB's torpedoes lines up on the Type 34, but it misses!

The SGB gets in even closer, now she is under minimum range for the torpedo boat's 4" guns, but at point blank range for her own rear mounted 3" gun! The German's 20mm guns do some damage, but nothing compared with the direct hits from both the 3" and 6 pounder guns (including a critical crew hit which means the Type 34 cannot fire in the next activation).

The combined fire from the two Fairmiles add up and one of the S-boats sinks beneath the waves.

Unable to respond, the Type 34 takes another devastating short range volley form the SGB and starts to sink....time to abandon ship!

In the next turn, taking fire from three sides from the Frigate's escorts, the last S-boat just manages to launch torpedoes before blowing up. Unfortunately all the German torpedoes missed the Frigate, so an east win for my Royal Navy.

We had time to replay the scenario, this time Keiron tried different tactics, including trying to made use of the 6 (yes 6!) torpedoes his Type 34 was carrying.

But he only managed to get the first salvo of three off before he was hit by one of the Frigate's 4" guns and took a torpedo hit from the SGB. It was still afloat after all that but left taking on water and with a rubber and engine damaged, so it vessel sank at the start of it's next activation.

Collision time! A crash was only avoided by the S-boat being blown out of the water by the combined British guns.

Despite losing two of his ships Keiron managed to score several hits on the frigate and catch her in a
lovely criss-cross of torpedoes which she couldn't avoid. Game two to the Germans.

A lot of fun playing both games.

Also on offer at the club:

A superb Black Powder game set in the 2nd Afghan War.

Two different Warhammer 40K games on adjoining tables.

And a Sharp Practice game pitting a RN landing party against the Revolutionary French.

Monday, 13 January 2020

The Mungo Mah Lobeh Congo Campaign Adventure 1

Adventure 1 - First Contact!


“Here I am back in Africa. I remember clearly my first steps on this mysterious continent. I will no doubt need all of the experience gained during my first outing, as nothing comes easy in Africa. I am also somewhat short of funds, for exploration is an expensive business...” – Mary Kingsley
The campaign opens with Mary landing back in Luanda (in modern Angola), where she spends two months kitting out her expedition. She then travels to the village of Maskouii, intending to trade glass beads and cheap trinkets for valuable antique tribal masks. She intends to sell these on to a wealthy dealer in order to fund her expedition to Mt Cameroon – aka Mungo Mah Lobeh, the Throne of Thunder.
Mary also seeks to improve her knowledge of African languages and tribal customs, and perhaps make some new scientific discoveries along the way.

The Forces

Mary is accompanied on her first adventure by her Kirangozi (i.e. caravan leader) Kiva, and a new acquaintance she met at Luanda, a reporter called Jennifer Josephson, who goes under her nom-de-plume of JJ. Mary is sceptical of JJ’s abilities as she seems to have few skills useful to the expedition, but she recognises that publicising her adventure might be useful in the long run.
Her party includes groups of Adventurers, Soldiers, Askaris, Ruga-Ruga, and Young Warriors. Currently she has only a single Bearer, but she expects to be able to hire more men on the journey.
Her opposition comes in the form of Ujuwa, a witch doctor exiled from the cannibal Fang tribe. Ujuwa seeks to stop what he perceives as the menace posed by the influx of the hated whites, and to achieve this he has set himself the task of completing a magical ritual which will awaken the slumbering spirits under the holy mountain of Mungo Mah Lobeh, and drive them out.
He is accompanied by his ally, a local chieftain called M’Otowanfa, and Oh‘Mi’Lordi, King of the Pygmy Werda-Fakawi tribe, who has agreed to join his cause. His war party consists of Warriors, Archers, Bunduki, Pygmy Warriors, Pygmy Archers, and some Scouts. He also has a couple of Sacred Warriors to assist him.

The Adventure

Ujuwa wins the Initiative roll, so his side moves first, sending most of his force moving towards the northern edge of Maskouii. He knows that Mary is intent on trading for the village’s tribal masks, and while he cannot benefit from them directly, if he can get hold of them that might derail Mary’s plans for her expedition.
Ujuwa has some early luck when his Pygmy Archers explore the nearest piece of high, dense terrain. They avoid an Encounter, but they do find one of the Discovery markers. One half of the group take the marker and seek cover in the undergrowth, while the other half line the edge of the cover, hoping to entice the hated white men within range of their poison arrows.
Guessing Ujuwa’s intentions, Mary pushes her force forward, and seeing his good fortune she tries her luck too, but with much less auspicious results.  Moving up the eastern edge of the table, her Young Warriors enter their nearest piece of high, dense terrain, only to encounter a deadly snake which kills two of them. To add insult to injury, the Discovery marker they find is a dummy. Badly demoralised, this group has little bearing on the remainder of the adventure.

Meanwhile though, her Adventurers, with the Kirangozi and a Bearer in tow, pick up the pace and also take advantage of the Kirangozi’s attribute to arrive at the southern edge of the village, at the cost of drawing a Stress token. Her Soldiers, Askaris, and Ruga-Ruga also pick up the pace, but of necessity follow rather more slowly.

Mary’s Adventurers arrive in Maskouii village

On turn 2, the antique dealer puts in an appearance. Dressed in a loud shirt and brandishing a musket, he bears a remarkable resemblance to an African version of Del Boy – only the Reliant Robin is missing!  Unfortunately for Mary, he appears on the northern edge of the table, squarely behind Ujuwa’s forces. She will have to wait for him to move before she can do any trading.

Africa’s answer to Del Boy

This doesn’t stop Mary from wanting to get her hands on the masks however.  Her Adventurers locate the owner of one mask in the nearest hut to them, and barter it from him for a handful of glass beads. Meanwhile her Soldiers move into the open at the southern end of the village, intent on using their firepower to deter Ujuwa’s men from entering at the northern end.

Mary’s Adventurers & Soldiers defend the village

It works – Ujuwa’s Archers, accompanied by a Sacred Warrior, do find a mask in the nearest hut and relieve the owner of it, but then they shelter behind the hut, reluctant to face Mary’s groups’ heavy firepower.

Ujuwa’s Bundukis prove less hesitant and advance into the village, and Ujuwa himself, accompanied by his Warriors, moves up behind them so he can get in range in order to work his magic. He casts his Bull’s Breath ritual at Mary’s Adventurers.

Ujuwa casts a Bull’s Breath ritual

Ujuwa’s stupendous farts and their ghastly smell are successful; the Adventurers are forced to retreat and must take another Stress token.

Mary’s Adventurers shelter behind a hut

Incensed at the treatment of their comrades, the Soldiers open fire on the Bundukis and get a number of hits, but the Bundukis must bear charmed lives, as they save all but one figure. They plan to return fire with their muskets next turn before acknowledging that discretion is the better part of valour, and retreating out of range.

Bundukis facing Soldiers in the village

The plan backfires badly however, when Mary’s forces seize the Initiative in the next Action Phase, and the Soldiers fire kills all but one of the Bundukis. The survivor is completely demoralised and promptly flees the field.
At the beginning of this turn, the antique dealer Del Boy has moved to the western edge of the table, and Mary’s Adventurers promptly head in that direction to make a trade. Seeing this, Ujuwa tries to intercept them, by sending his Archers and one half of his Pygmy Archers in that direction. His plans go awry however, because the Archers are hampered by carrying a mask and cannot pick up the pace, and then fail completely when Mary succeeds in placing a Movement Stress token against them, halting them in their tracks. That leaves the fire of just three Pygmy Archers between Mary’s Adventurers and Del Boy, and when they miss completely, Mary makes her first successful trade.

This bad luck seems to dog Ujuwa’s forces for the remainder of the adventure. Falling back to the third hut, Mary’s Adventurers stop just long enough to “persuade” the occupant to part with the last remaining mask, and then head at top speed courtesy of the Kirangozi Kiva, towards the dealer’s new location on the southern edge of the table. This is right behind Mary’s forces, and she is able to safely make her second trade. The Adventurers are by now on the limit of four Stress tokens, but Mary isn’t worried; they are safe where they are, and have achieved what was needed of them.
Her Soldiers move out of the village to cover the retreat of the Adventurers, taking up station in one of the pieces of high, dense terrain, where they avoid an Encounter but also make a Discovery.
Ujuwa’s forces meanwhile receive no less than three Terror Stress tokens in a single Action Phase, and Ujuwa, moving forward with his Warriors to use his magic, completely flunks his next ritual against the Askaris.
About the only success he has is that the Pygmy group on the western edge of the table are able to move forward and occupy the opposite side of the high, dense terrain held by Mary’s Soldiers. Their Tiny attribute means they cannot be shot at through the cover beyond Medium range, and the Pygmy King Oh‘Mi’Lordi is still alive, so their Bravery roll is D10. Meanwhile the Soldiers have taken one casualty and picked up two Combat Stress tokens, so they may just be vulnerable if the Pygmies can survive long enough to make contact.

In the next turn, Mary’s Askaris and Ruga-Ruga, the only troops she has left in the village, are now within range of Ujuwa’s Archers, and they let fly with their muskets. They only cause a single casualty, but there is a Sacred Warrior with the Archers, and true to Ujuwa’s run of bad luck, the Terrifying Death Roll produces a “1” – he collapses in the dust, shot through the heart!
Their luck just goes from bad to worse. Mary keeps piling Stress onto the Archers, and they are forced to Flee the village. Yet another Stress in the next Action Phase means they then lose a casualty as well.

Mary and her Ruga-Ruga firing on Ujuwa’s Archers

In the next twist of fate in this adventure, Mary’s Soldiers are able to shed one of their Combat Stress tokens, before trading shots with the Pygmies through the dense Cover. Neither side can make any impression however before the Pygmies, in what looks like a last desperate gamble, close and fight hand-to-hand with the Soldiers. Bucking Ujuwa’s run of luck, they actually win the melee, forcing the Soldiers to retreat, but not before they drop the Discovery they made earlier.

Ujuwa’s Pygmies and their King

Not quite believing they are still alive, the Pygmies promptly grab the Discovery token.
That is the end of turn 5. On turn 6 the adventure rules require the holder of the Initiative marker, which at this point happens to be Ujuwa, to roll before each Action Phase to determine if the game is over. He rolls a success, so it ends before even the first Action Phase.

Tallying the Adventure

Under the campaign rules, Victory Points are determined by using both the generic rules in the main Congo rule-book, and also by any specific rules which are outlined in the adventure summary.
Mary won this adventure by a very clear margin.
Her forces not only captured the two high-valued tribal masks, but she was able to trade them both, securing her a total of 16VP, and earning her one domain of Knowledge. She did not use any of her Barter pts. Her Soldiers did make one Discovery, but then lost it, so that is worth nothing to her.
We omitted to roll for her reporter JJ’s write-up of Mary’s adventure (she gets 3D6 to try for successful rolls, so could add up to 3VP to Mary’s total), so we need to remember to do that before the next adventure.
 Ujuwa ended this adventure with his forces in possession of the lowest-valued mask, but he has no direct use for it. He was only able to get close enough to cast two rituals, and of those one failed completely.
He also finished holding two Discovery markers earning him 8VP, but offset against that he lost a Sacred Warrior which costs him -2VP, for a final total of 6VP.
Travelling to the next adventure will be resolved as part of that adventure.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

The Mungo Mah Lobeh Congo Campaign - Background

Campaign Journal compiled by Alan, of Tring Wargames Club

As many wargamers will already be aware, Studio Tomahawk’s Congo rules have been with us for a number of years now, and provide a mechanism for skirmish gaming in nineteenth century Darkest Africa, in the narrative style.

The published Mungo Mah Lobeh campaign booklet traces the exploits of a real-life adventurer – specifically, the experiences of Mary Kingsley’s second African expedition, in what is now the northern Congo, Guinea and Cameroon during 1894-5.
Martin and Alan, of Tring Wargames Club, have been wanting to play this campaign for some time, but lack of time and a preoccupation with other wargaming projects has made it impossible until recently.

This campaign consists of six adventures (i.e. tabletop games) between two Congo factions, followed by an endgame phase, to determine the overall winner. It is nominally written for the “White Men’s Expedition” and “Forest Tribes” factions, and we chose to play it that way, although guidelines are also included for substituting the other “official” Congo factions if desired.

The two sides may receive reinforcements during the campaign, and can also see their lead characters develop their abilities. These leaders (figures for which are provided with the campaign pack) have very different overall objectives for the campaign, and each adventure has its own summary sheet which, among other things, defines adventure-specific objectives for each side within the campaign framework. In this way, the campaign becomes considerably more than a simple set of shoot-em-up encounters, and some thought will need to be given to the duration of the expedition, and to the acquiring and husbanding of resources that will be required for later in the campaign.
Travel time between the adventures is handled using a set of Encounter tables, which describe the pros and cons of various means of transport.

Terrain, Figures, and Animals

One of the attractions of Congo is that, once the initial outlay on the rule-set and the campaign supplement is made, games in general and specifically this campaign can be successfully played for relatively modest cost. Both sides start with a force of about 30-40 figures, depending on the faction and the initial reinforcements received, and it is unlikely that more than a dozen additional figures will be needed as the campaign progresses.

A lot of African terrain lends itself quite well to scratch-building, and as wargamers entering what we like to consider our late youth, we both took some pleasure in delving back into this almost-lost art within the wargames community. We found the results to be perfectly satisfactory for our purposes; hopefully the pictures will speak for themselves.

Incidentally, all the pictures included in this campaign journal have been shot while we played out the actual adventures, either with a camera-phone or with a compact 35mm digital camera. Most were then cropped in Photoshop, but there has been no additional manipulation of the images.
Almost all of the African terrain was scratch-built by either Martin or Alan; the huts were lengths cut from heavy cardboard tube, with conical roofs made from plastic topped with either straw or horse-hair white-glued into place. The jungle and long grass pieces were made from plastic plants obtained from a number of sources, then cut up and re-based.

A small number of minor terrain accessories were purchased specifically for the campaign, with a view to providing a little more “African” flavour. The termite mounds were purchased from Warlord Games, and some of the temple accessories are from the Monolith Designs and Wargames Foundry ranges.

The temple and architectural ruins which appear later in the campaign have been scratch-built from Alan’s “parts bin”, fleshed out with some acquisitions (a papier-mache spider, no less!) from a local art shop.

Other terrain pieces – tracks, hills, rivers, etc – were generic wargames terrain from a wide variety of sources. The tabletop mat was an “Arid Green” 6’x 4’ cloth mat from Tiny Wargames , folded to provide the 4’ x 3’ playing surface which is standard for Congo games.
All of the figures used for our campaign were a nominal 28mm scale, although there is no reason why other figure scales would not work equally well.

Martin’s “White Man’s Expedition” force consisted of the Northstar figure pack intended specifically for Congo, with the addition of some Victorian ladies in explorer garb.
Alan’s “Forest Tribes” force was a much more varied lot.  The Pygmies belonged to a former Tring club member now sadly no longer with us, and were probably originally from the Wargames Foundry range. The masked Warriors and Archers were from the EMP Games “Pineapple Tribe” range (the latter equipped with blowpipes in lieu of bows). The Bundukis were borrowed from his own Northstar “Sultanate of Zanzibar” faction, while some Bearers and the masked Sacred Warriors were from Wargames Foundry.

The campaign does call for some African animal figures. There is a wide selection of exquisite metal and resin models now on the market in almost any scale required, but as an alternative we found that many acceptable animals are also available much more cheaply and in a suitable scale, as children’s toys; in most cases, they are already painted or coloured.  Most of the animals in our campaign were therefore acquired by Martin rummaging through second-hand shops, while the few pieces we had difficulty finding in the right scale – specifically the hippo and the hyenas - were acquired and painted by Alan from Wargames Foundry’s African Animals range.
The snakes came from an accessories pack originally intended for Dungeons and Dragons; they were simply painted in attention-getting colour schemes, rather than attempting to represent any particular species.

The paddle-steamer model which appears in one adventure was a scratch-build which Alan has had lying around for many years; some crew members and deck equipment have been added from Sally 4th’s Pulp Figures range. The smaller boat models – rowing and sailboats, dugout canoes, and a log raft – are from several different sources and were acquired by Alan over many years of wargames model-collecting.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Romans vs Hebrews with Sword and Spear

As Mark has finally finished re-basing his 15mm Hebrews, he gave them an outing against Colin's EIR army. I sat in as the Hebrew 2ic.

We out scouted the Romans and as the Hebrews have no heavy infantry, that meant that Colin  had to deploy the bulk of his army first. He put the majority of his legionaries on his right, obviously intending to smash what was in front of them on that side. Right in the centre he put his bolt shooters, with a couple of units on legionaries to hold the left. On either flank was a unit of skirmishers and 1 or 2 units of cavalry.

The bulk of our infantry were vastly out classed by the Romans, but we had quite a powerful mounted arm with 2 units each of heavy chariots and light chariots. We split the army roughly equally, I took a large force of dross spearmen, flanked by archers and sat them on a hill facing the Legions. On my flank I had a unit of skirmishers, one of camel mounted archers and 2 units of light chariots.

Mark had all our decent infantry, plus 3 units of dross, with skirmishers and the heavy chariots on his flank. Our plan was for me to hold up the main Roman attack, while Mark took out the smaller force in front of him, then swung around to roll up the line. On both flanks we intended to use our superior forces to break through and get behind the infantry line and attack from the rear (or at least break up the formation).

The Roman deployment.

Cavalry and skirmishers protect the flank of the Legionaries.

The Hebrew deployment.

Our stronger wing, led by heavy chariots.

My camels inflict the first blood of the game!

The cavalry wing guarding the Roman right flank (if you look closely you might see some bloodied remains beneath the wheels of the chariots!).

On my flank the Roman cavalry pull back to avoid massed bow fire.

Whilst the legions slowly plod forward.

A lucky round of shooting from the camels rout the last Roman cavalry unit.
The Roman casualties after turn 4.

And ours!

Unfortunately all my photos of the decisive action came out very blury, so I'll have to make do with a brief description.

With their flanks gone, all the Roman legionaries started advancing to get to grips before we could attack them in the rear. The problem with our heavy chariots was that they had been forced to pursue so were out of command range of the General. I had the two captains on my flank, so I was able to keep one moving up to maintain control of the chariots, but Mark only had the General on his side, another captain would have allowed him to be more flexible.

The legions eventually crashed into our rubbish foot, but because of the placement of our skirmishers and archers, they hit piecemeal rather in two solid blocks. On Mark's flank, one unit managed to hit the infantry line and routed our unit in two rounds of melee. Mark managed to charge one of his chariot units into the rear of the second legion, then hit it with the skirmishers in front and charge his best armorer foot into the flank. A Roman sandwich! The legionary unit was swiftly routed.

On my flank, one of the legion units detached and wheeled to face the chariot unit I have brought on to their flank, so when his line hit mine I had an overlap. The advantage to being on the hill helped my poorer quality infantry stand up to the legionaries, in fact I inflicted more hits in the first round of melee combat (Colin's dice were very poor for most of the game!). I wheeled my overlapping unit onto the Roman's flank and charged them in on the next turn, routing another legion, just as Colin managed to rout my infantry unit on the other end of the line! I managed to get the camels and the second chariot unit behind the flanking legion and poured in bow fire (at one point I could hit it with 5 units!). Eventually the unit routed, again just as another on my units routed. We were losing tit for tat on my flank, but I could afford to do that as his units were much better quality than mine and had a bigger impact on his army morale.

Eventually the Roman morale broke and it was an unexpected win for the Hebrews. Undoubtedly smashing the Roman Cavalry and getting the chariots behind the legion's line was the winning tactic. That said, if I hadn't had that convenient hill, my infantry might have broken too soon for the chariots to get into place. A good fun game all round.

The final Hebrew casualty count.

And the Romans!

Other games on Friday night.

WW2 28mm with Chain of Command.

6mm 18th Century using Black Powder.

Dystopian Wars naval game.

And a Warhammer 40K game with some impressive models.