Saturday, 8 February 2020

More Middle Earth Melees

Mark and I had one more test run of my Soldiers of God adaptations before we play a big battle at the March TWC Games Day. Once again Mark led the forces of Angmar against an alliance of Dwarves of the Eded Luin and Elves from Lindon.

 The Angmar used their usual deployment, uruks in the centre, backed by the Bodyguard unit and some trolls.

 A horde of snaga as speed bumps on the left flank.

 And wargs and warg riders to make a sweeping outflanking movement of the right flank.

 A unit each of dwarf spearmen and archers face of against the wargs.... guard the flank of the centre battle, all dwarf axemen and the Royal Huscarls.

 Whilst on the right flank the elves form up. My intention was to try and hold off the wargs, while the centre big-hitters got stuck in. The elves would, hopefully, quickly deal with the dross in front of them and then swing around into the flank of the main action, in the centre.
Of course such a plan required the elves to rapidly move forward and engage the enemy, which require movement orders (of which I suffered a severe lack for most of the game!).

 First move of the game and I drew this card. No one was close enough to use the FEAR order, so I took a punt at the "Commander Wounded" option. A stray arrow flew out of the elvish ranks and plummeted down into the mass of snaga....and I rolled a 6. The orc commander on the left flank was dead and their army morale dropped by 3 - as they started on 15, this was a good start for me!

 I suspected the devious Angmar general was going to use his wargs' sneaky ability to flank march off table, so I used an "Impetuous Charge" card to force one of the units into contact with my dwarf spears. The wargs died quite quickly, but his warg rider unit promptly disappeared off the table on it's sneaky mission.

 The centre battles clash together! Mark suddenly realised that he didn't have enough room to squeeze both the bodyguard uruks and the trolls into the gap in the middle, so he dithered for a bit to get the trolls up in front. But his pesky warg riders turned up behind my centre and promptly charged the dwarf king!

 Mark had a unit of snaga guarding the flank of his centre, now that the wargs and warg riders were no longer there, but the dwarf archers started inflict heavy casualties. The small orcs charged the bowmen, but the dwarves rolled just as effectively in melee as they had shooting.

 Another view of the hack and bash in the centre.

 Under pressure form two axe units, one of the big uruk units routs. To the right of the picture you can just see the trolls have now engaged the dwarf unit in front of them.

 The dwarf king is cut down by the warg riders, who then charge into the rear of the dwarves facing the trolls.
I had incredible luck at this point. Each side has two, one-use cards, in the deck, which enable them to rally off all the hits from a single unit. I drew my card two turns in succession, which meant that I was able to save the surrounded unit twice when they should have routed. This allowed me time to bring one of the victorious axe units around and into the flank of the warg riders.

The final situation. The surrounded axemen and the warg riders broke at the same time, but my army morale was still good whereas the Angmar morale had reached zero. The forces of darkness fled leaving the good alliance holding the field.
It was the luck of the cards, Mark had not drawn a single Rally card once the main fighting started and if I hadn't been able to stop that axe unit from routing for two turns, it would have been a completely different battle.

Also being played at club this week.

A 6mm sci-fi game of Future War Commander.

A far eastern Chain of Command game, colonial French against Japanese!

A Warhammer 40K game.

A First World War naval battle.

And another Warhammer 40K game.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

The Mungo Mah Lobeh Congo Campaign Adventure 2

Adventure 3 – Waiting For The Bel Azur
Campaign Journal compiled by Alan, of Tring Wargames Club

“Armed with my newly acquired knowledge, I throw myself head-first into the exploration of unknown lands. I am soon walking along the banks of the Ogooué River, looking for a quay from which I can board the Bel Azur, a steam-boat that runs up and down the watercourse. It will cut our journey considerably, avoid us a wearily long hike, and offer us a well-deserved rest.
Despite its sluggish appearance, the Ogooué can rise in sudden fury. For this reason, three quays have been erected, each a few hundred metres from the next.
The Bel Azur only steams past once a month, so it is vital not to miss it. Having happened upon the first quay, I will send some of my men to the two others, to ensure that the ship’s captain will be aware of our presence and our desire to board.
This is a swamp-ridden zone, the first we have crossed. To make matters worse, there are drums in the distance. I cannot say the situation makes me feel at ease ...” – Mary Kingsley

Mary Kingsley now has the funds and the knowledge to continue her expedition with a reasonable chance of success. The Ogooué river valley, however, is very different terrain from the open savannah country she has been traversing up until now. The area is infested with mangrove swamps, crocodiles and the occasional herd of hippos. Most treacherous of all, however, is the quicksand...
Given the terrain, her intention to use the river-boat is a sound plan – if she can make contact with it and obtain passage! To do so, she will need to occupy at least one of the three quays spread along the riverbank, and ideally more than one.
Meanwhile, Mary has realised that the local witch-doctor Ujuwa has become an implacable enemy, and is intent on thwarting her plans by whatever means available...

Travelling to the Next Adventure
As the winner of the last adventure, Mary gets first pick of the travel routes to the next one, and she chooses to travel “Village To Village” to this third adventure of the expedition. This is a slower route, but offers her the best chance to recruit new followers for her expedition.
It proves to be a good choice, as she rolls to make the journey in 4 months, but with the help of her bearers she completes the trip in just three.  Her roll on the Encounter table earns her another group, either of Warriors or Archers, but they will only be available for the duration of the next adventure.
Furthermore, since she has now earned two domains of knowledge, her character gets upgraded to her 2-star card, which makes her more effective at rallying her troops.
Ujuwa decides to travel “Over Swift Water” again, and this time he makes his success roll, so he gets two extra points on the Spiritual Link track on his Travel Log.
However, once again his Encounter table roll brings bad news.  His remaining Sacred Warrior has been kidnapped by cannibals and eaten!

The Forces
Once again, Mary is accompanied on this adventure by her Kirangozi guide Kiva and the reporter JJ, and her party has the same successful make-up as the last adventure, including Explorers, Soldiers, Askaris, Ruga-Ruga, and Young Warriors. For her temporary addition for this adventure, she opts for a group of Archers.
As requested in the blog comments, here are a few pictures of the figures we are using:-

1 - Mary (R) with the reporter JJ, guide Kiva, and her Bearers

2 – Her Ruga-Ruga and Explorers

3 – Mary’s Young Warriors

4- Her Askaris and Soldiers

However, she now has only three Bearers remaining, having lost one in the last adventure.
Her opponent Ujuwa is again 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 last adventure, consisting of Warriors, Young Warriors, Pygmy Warriors, Archers, Pygmy Archers, and some Scouts.

5 - (L to R) O’Mi’Lordi, M’Otowanfa, Ujuwa, and a Sacred Warrior

6 – Ujuwa’s Scouts (L) and Young Warriors

7 – The Bundukis

8 – The Pygmy Archers

Ujuwa decided to accompany his Warriors this time, thinking that he will need to use his Archers to counteract the White Men’s firepower so he sent their chief with them instead.

9 – Ujuwa’s blowpipe-armed Archers with their Chief

The Pygmy King accompanied his Pygmy Archers, as usual.
Having lost his last Sacred Warrior, Ujuwa had no Auxiliaries to assign.

The Terrain
This adventure called for significantly different terrain from the previous two, and that had us both diving into our terrain and animal collections, as well as making a few select purchases and scratch-building some pieces. The tall grassy savannah has been replaced by mangrove swamps and quicksand, and instead of hyenas, the two factions now have crocs and hippos to contend with.
Once again, we were using Martin’s dining-room table instead of the one at our weekly club meet. This time however, we laid down a 6’x4’ polystyrene board, on top of which we could place a battle mat to act as the standard Congo 4’x3’ playing area. That left enough space down one long edge on which to represent the riverbank and the all-important landing quays, plus enough space to depict the river and allow deployment of Alan’s vintage paddle-steamer model as the Bel Azur – which incidentally, weighs about 3 kilos, as a lot of it is made from sheet-metal. Strictly speaking, this doesn’t actually play a role in the game, but we followed the time-honoured wargaming tradition - it was in the box, so we got to use it...
For the Congo campaign, the steamer has received a makeover, and is now kitted out with some accessories from the Sally 4th Pulp Figures range. Capt. Ulysses Poirot and his salty-looking crew were recruited from the same source, while his wife Henriette is from Wargames Foundry.

10 – Bel Azur with crew and hippos

Two of the quays were scratch-built by Alan using thin wooden dowel, plastic card, and some wooden coffee-stirrers carved into planks. The shiny water effect on their bases used a very effective liquid embossing product called Clear 3D Gloss, obtained from the local art supply shop.
The river-edge strips and the third quay come from Alan’s terrain collection; they were purchased several years ago from the Battlezone Scenics range made by Terrain Warehouse UK.

11 – Table view from the north end

The river itself was very simply made by sticking olive green crepe paper onto a cardboard backing sheet – the thinking was that the texture would simulate waves on a water surface. Unfortunately, it was not exactly a stellar success - the cardboard wasn’t stiff enough and kept curling up at inopportune moments.
The hippo herd on land and splashing around in the river came from both Martin and Alan’s collections, with waterline Wargames Foundry’s models rounding out what was found in a children’s’ animal collection from a toyshop.
The trees are from both Martin’s and Alan’s collections; they consist of plastic plants, miniature palm trees and assorted undergrowth from a variety of sources, rebased onto MDF bases of various sizes and shapes.

The Adventure
Mary won the Initiative roll for this adventure.
Most of her forces advance towards the centre of the table, while her new Archer group covers the approach to the first quay.

Her Young Warriors plunge bravely into the nearest mangrove swamp. Luckily for them, the terrain holds no unpleasant surprises, but they find that the Discovery token they collect is Cursed, which means that they will collect a Stress token at the end of each turn for the rest of the game.

12 – Mary’s forces advance in the centre

Ujuwa tries to put some juju (i.e. Stress tokens) onto Mary’s forces, with the intent of slowing them down. Her Bunduki fire on Mary’s Young Warriors among the mangroves, getting one hit, but they are able to save it.

13 – The Bunduki fire on Mary’s Young Warriors

Ujuwa and his Warriors opt to take two Stress tokens so that he has 3D8 to cast his Ritual of the Wild Hunt. Success – he gets 4 hits on Mary’s Ruga-Ruga, but then they are able to save them all!

14 – Ujuwa casts a ritual

On turn 2,  Mary’s Young Warriors return fire on the Bundukis, killing one. The Soldiers get one hit on the Archers which is saved, but the Ruga-Ruga also kill one of Ujuwa’s Warriors, forcing Ujuwa to face the Terrifying Death Roll, which he passes.

In return, the Bundukis kill a Young Warrior, and the Archers kill one Soldier.

The Archers then move into one of the mangrove swamps, only to find a Cursed Discovery token. Fortunately for them, it has no effect.

15 – The Archers in the mangroves duel with Mary’s Soldiers

On turn 3, a Downpour starts, which means that all shooting is now limited to Medium range, and shooting Stress effects are doubled.
Mary’s Ruga-Ruga reload their muskets, while her Soldiers move into the central mangrove swamp. This one has already been searched, and the terrain is safe, so there are no ill effects.

Ujuwa continues to place more juju on the Young Warriors, the Soldiers, and the Ruga-Ruga. He advances his Young Warriors and the Pygmy Archers into the open, intending to get the latter in range to use their poison arrows, and they obviously give the Ruga-Ruga the frights because they promptly fire on them, killing one.

16 – Ujuwa moves his troops into the open to close the range

Meanwhile the Soldiers continue their fire-fight with the Archers, killing another one. The Archers fail to do any damage with their return fire, and while the Bundukis are reloading, the Pygmy Archers let fly with their poison arrows, killing two of the Ruga-Ruga without resort to a saving throw.

On turn 4, the Downpour continues, and Ujuwa puts more juju on the Ruga-Ruga and Soldiers in order to pin them down more effectively, but they rally almost as fast as they receive the Stress.
Ujuwa sends the Bunduki charging into Mary’s Young Warriors, and they succeed in pushing them back, but neither side takes any casualties.

Ujuwa moves his Young Warriors to get them into range to start using their assegais, and then his Warriors in order to close the range for one of his rituals. He casts a Bull’s Breath ritual on Mary’s Ruga-Ruga, but they are able to save it.

17 – Ujuwa in a frenzy as he casts a ritual

Meanwhile, Mary’s Explorers and then her Young Warriors make a sudden break towards the second quay. They can’t quite reach it, but they are certainly in a good position to grab it next turn. Mary also puts some juju on Ujuwa and his Warriors, putting them on the Stress limit of four tokens.

18 – Mary’s Young Warriors make a break for the river

The Pygmy Archers fire a second time at the Ruga-Ruga, but fail to cause any more casualties, and Ujuwa tries to take some Stress off his Warriors.
Meanwhile, Mary’s Askaris shoot up the Bundukis, achieving two kills, and her Ruga-Ruga are busy reloading their muskets.

On turn 5, the Downpour continues. Mary’s Askaris finish off Ujuwa’s Bundukis, while Ujuwa and his Warriors charge into and melee with the Soldiers, but are forced to retreat after losing a figure.  Both sides now have several Stress tokens.

Mary’s Explorers reach the middle quay, and she commences hailing the Bel Azur. However, they are exposed in the open, and Ujuwa’s Archers are covering it from the mangrove forest. They shoot and succeed in killing one of the Explorers; this forces Mary to face a Terrifying Death Roll for the first time, which she manages to survive.

19 – Mary hails the Bel Azur at the central quay

Meanwhile, Mary’s other troops keep up a heavy fire, steadily causing more casualties among Ujuwa’s forces. However, Ujuwa is giving as good as he gets – his Pygmy Archers kill two more Ruga-Ruga with their poison arrows, and his Young Warriors then charge the remaining Ruga-Ruga and finish them off, together with their accompanying Bearer, which allows them to grab an all-important Discovery token.
Flushed with this success, Ujuwa tries to cast his Bull’s Breath ritual on the Soldiers, and suddenly it all goes wrong. He draws a Panic Stress token, which means he has angered the gods (again!) and he collapses in a heap on the ground.
As the turn ends, Ujuwa’s Scouts have successfully made it out of one of the mangrove swamps, carrying a Discovery token, while his Young Warriors fall back with the one they have just captured.

20 – Ujuwa’s Young Warriors fall back with their spoils

Mary’s Young Warriors move up in pursuit, but she is forced to rally the Soldiers, who are immobilised with a Panic Stress token. She also puts juju on the Pygmy Archers and on Ujuwa and his Warriors, which causes them to Flee.

On turn 6, the Downpour ends as suddenly as it began, and Shooting becomes possible at Long range again.
Ujuwa’s and Mary’s Young Warriors commence an ineffectual shooting duel with their assegais.
Most of Mary’s troops need to be rallied before they can do anything, which gives Ujuwa a little breathing room. His Young Warriors are able to fall back again, putting them out of shooting range, his Pygmy Archers rally ready to use their poison arrows again, and he succeeds in putting juju on Mary’s Young Warriors which halts their pursuit.
Unable to move effectively, Mary pours fire on Ujuwa’s forces, causing another casualty to the Archers in the mangroves, and crucially two casualties to Ujuwa’s Warriors. Forced to face another Terrifying Death Roll, Ujuwa flunks it, which will leave him facing two Recovery rolls at the end of the game.

Desperately casting around for a way to squeeze out a last few Victory Points, Mary’s Explorers belatedly decide to go hippo hunting, but they fail to hit, let alone kill one.
The adventure concludes with the end of turn 6.

21 – The Bel Azur loading goods for Mary’s expedition

Tallying the Adventure
The tally of Victory Points was a great deal closer in this adventure than in the previous ones.
The scenario rules call for Mary to roll for holding the quays at the end of each turn, and this cumulative total is then compared with a table in the Scenario sheet. This gave her 10 VP, and Ujuwa 5 VP.
Ujuwa obtained three Discoveries during the game, including the one captured from Mary’s Ruga-Ruga; this equated to one each in Remains, Magical Plants, and Ritual Objects, for a total of 12 VP. He now has Talents in Magical Plants and Ritual Objects.
Mary obtained one Discovery, in Geology, for a total of 4 VP. She now has a Talent in Geology.
Mary lost 2 VP for the Bearer killed with the Ruga-Ruga, but she also got to roll for “killing” Ujuwa a second time. This earned her 1 VP. The reporter JJ’s article for the bulletin of the Société Géographique earns her another 2, for a final total of 17 VP for the adventure.

However, Ujuwa also ended with a final total of 17 VP.  Under the scenario rules, if there is a draw in VP’s, the holder of the Initiative token is declared the winner; this happened to be Mary.
Ujuwa was feeling rather Poorly at the start of this adventure, as a result of his failed Sacred Ritual in the last one. However, he survived both the Recovery rolls for this adventure, prompted by his getting shot and his second failed Sacred Ritual, meaning that he retains his Poorly status and that will carry over to the next adventure.

Mary has learned an additional domain of Knowledge for winning this adventure. Since she has now earned a total of four domains of Knowledge, her character gets upgraded to her 3-star card, which makes her even more effective at rallying her troops.
Neither side gained any Hunting trophies this time.
Ujuwa  cast two successful Sacred Rituals before the gods punished him, so he earned two Spiritual Link points for himself. However, with no surviving Sacred Warriors, he is unable to roll for bonus Link points for the adventure.
Travelling to the next adventure will be resolved prior to playing that adventure.