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.