Friday, 6 March 2020

The Mungo Mah Lobeh Congo Campaign Adventure 4

Adventure 4 – Unknown Species... and Stone Statues

Campaign Journal compiled by Alan, of Tring Wargames Club


“The region through which we are now advancing is thickly forested, and heavy downpours are frequent. My guides have told me that this paradisiacal jungle is home to numerous unique species of birds, monkeys, and plants. The very thought of coming home laden down with such treasures, unknown to my fellow Britons, quickens my blood. Not to mention the interest that it would stir up at the British Museum.

One of the guides reported back to me this morning, saying that he had discovered, scattered throughout the forest, elements of stone statues. He dared not pick them up for fear of what might haunt them. I must say I am greatly intrigued: is this the remains of some lost civilisation? Or the shattered remains of a temple of some sort?
Unfortunately this was not the only news brought back by the guide. Numerous warriors, led by the witchdoctor that has shadowed my expedition from the very beginning, are moving parallel to us through the very same jungle. Our scout however went unseen, and so we are thankfully forewarned. Whatever their intentions, I will not let them stand between myself and those stone relics. – Mary Kingsley
Both forces make slow progress through the dense jungle, while contending with the inclement weather and hostile animal life.

Travelling to the Next Adventure

As the winner of the last adventure, Mary got first pick (yet again!) of the travel routes to the next one, and she again chose to travel “Village To Village” to this fourth adventure of the expedition. This is a slow route, but offers her the best chance to recruit new followers.
This time it was not as good a choice as previously; she rolled to make the journey in 5 months, and this time her Bearers were unable to help her complete the journey any quicker.  However, her roll on the Encounter table did earn her another Bearer.
However, since she has now earned a total of four domains of Knowledge, her character gets an upgrade to her 3-star card, which makes her considerably more effective at rallying her troops.
Ujuwa elected to travel “Through Thriving Jungle” this time, and he made his success roll, so the journey only costs him one of his Spiritual Link points.
His roll on the Encounter table also finally brought some good news.  He located and collected a specimen of a medicinal plant.

The Forces

As before, Mary is accompanied on this adventure by her Kirangozi guide Kiva and the reporter JJ, and her party has the same make-up as the previous adventure, including Explorers, Soldiers, Askaris, Ruga-Ruga, and Young Warriors. However, she does not keep the additional group of Archers from the last adventure.
She now has three Bearers, which she places with her Askaris, her Ruga-Ruga, and her Adventurers. Mary herself accompanies her Adventurers, while she sends JJ with the Ruga-Ruga, and Kiva with the Young Warriors.
Her opponent Ujuwa is again accompanied by his allies, the outcast 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, Bundukis, Archers, Pygmy Archers, and some Scouts.
Ujuwa decided to accompany his Warriors again, intending to free up his Archers to counteract the White Men’s firepower.  The Fang chief is sent with the Bundukis this time, and the Pygmy King accompanies his Pygmy Archers, as usual.  Ujuwa has no Auxiliaries to assign.

The Terrain

This adventure once again called for jungle terrain, although the mangrove swamps and quicksand have now been left behind. Instead of the crocs and hippos which infested the river banks, the jungle is now home to leopards, in addition to the usual types of possible animal encounters.
Once again, we used Martin’s dining-room table for the game, with his battle mat defining the standard Congo 4’x3’ playing area. His trees were used to designate the areas of Dangerous and Blocking terrain called for by the scenario.
Some broken walls and columns from Alan’s medieval and fantasy terrain collection were scattered about to depict the shattered statues called for by the scenario. Each statue is in three pieces, and there is one obsidian and one jade statue. Victory Points are earned for collecting the pieces, with a bonus if a complete statue is collected.
In addition, some areas of Blocking Terrain contain Discovery tokens. When collected by a group making base contact with them, the group makes a roll on an Encounter table which is part of the scenario, with possible good, bad, or indifferent results. Some of the good results are in the form of Discoveries, which provide various benefits for future scenarios, as well as contributing towards overall success in the campaign.
“The two columns are making only slow headway through the dense jungle.  To make matters worse, the clouds have burst once again and the forest is drenched by a heavy downpour.
The number of animal bones that litter the ground make certain the presence of a sanctuary of some kind. Moreover, this entire area being a hunting ground for local tribes, the presence of traps cannot be ruled out.”
The roll for the type of sanctuary indicated that the scattered bones were from gorillas, meaning that these are likely to appear if any animal encounters occur.

The Adventure

Unusually, this scenario calls for both factions to deploy from the same end of the table, which has arbitrarily been designated as the southern end.

The first picture is a full table shot from this southern end, with Mary’s deployment area in the left corner and Ujuwa’s in the right. Units which do not fit into the deployment areas are allowed to enter on subsequent turns (Note: NOT action phases).

1 – The table for this adventure, looking north

The scenario opens with a Downpour, which means that firing ranges and Line of Sight are restricted to M for the first full turn.
Ujuwa got the Initiative for this adventure, because he lost the last one. He immediately sends his Scouts racing up the table, and lays some juju (i.e. our codename for Stress tokens) on Mary and her Askaris.
Mary’s Soldiers are also quick off the mark, and immediately occupy the southernmost Dangerous Terrain area. This earns them a Statue piece (part of the obsidian statue, as it turns out), and their roll on the Terrain Encounter table means they have found a young leopard, which they adopt as a pet. This turns out to be quite useful; the Encounter rules specify that it confers an additional D8 in combat, and we decided to treat it as an Auxiliary character, which means that it can be carried over to future adventures. The flipside is of course that, like any Auxiliary character, it can be killed.
Mary’s Young Warriors make contact with the nearest Discovery token, but their roll on the Encounter table was a disappointment, earning them nothing at all. Meanwhile, Ujuwa’s Scouts found a piece of the jade Statue in the easternmost Dangerous Terrain, and their Encounter table roll located them a safe path back out of the terrain. Unfortunately, since they are now encumbered by the Statue piece, that is as far as they can go for now.
Ujuwa’s Pygmy Archers move towards the southernmost Dangerous Terrain area. If they can reach it without heavy casualties, they can engage the Soldiers on more even terms, and they know from the previous experience that the Soldiers are very worried by their poison arrows!
Sure enough, the Soldiers open fire on the Pygmy Archers, despatching one of them. However, the Pygmies do make it into cover with the Soldiers, while the Archers move up to support them, as their blowpipes have the range which the Pygmy bows lack.

2 – The Soldiers find a Statue piece, and a pet, but soon face opposition
Ujuwa’s Scouts press on to capture a Discovery token, which earns them an extra totem card.

On turn 2, the Downpour ends, so firing ranges and Line of Sight are no longer restricted.  The Pygmy Archers immediately go to work on the Soldiers with their poison arrows, killing two of them without resort to any saving throws. The Soldiers fire back, but can only despatch one of Ujuwa’s Archers.
The Soldiers fire again, hitting another Archer, but he is saved. Mary’s Young Warriors, accompanied by her caravan guide Kiva, advance on the Pygmy Archers and then fire on them, killing two, but the accompanying Pygmy King manages to survive his Terrifying Death Roll.

3 – Mary’s Young Warriors advance to tackle the Pygmy Archers
Ujuwa hopes that piling Stress onto Mary’s Soldiers, Young Warriors and Askaris, will slow down her advance. Despite that, Mary and her Adventurers use their own move plus a bonus Move action to advance almost to the centre of the board. She also brings on her Ruga-Ruga, and her Askaris move up in support. When they move into the Dangerous Terrain area on the western side of the board, they find a piece of the jade Statue. It must be the season for collecting pets, because their roll on the Terrain Encounter table also earns them a pet leopard.

4 – Mary’s forces advance in the centre
Ujuwa also brings in more troops, deploying his Warriors, Bunduki and Young Warriors onto the table. He also casts his first ritual of the adventure, the Bull’s Breath, on Mary and her Askaris, which earns them a Stress token.

On turn 3, Ujuwa seizes the Initiative, puts some juju on Mary’s Soldiers, and then moves his Young Warriors in to attack, but the plan fails; they lose the melee and have to retreat.
Mary’s Young Warriors attack the Archers in return, killing two of them. Mary is able to remove some Stress from her Ruga-Ruga, but fails to do so from the Soldiers, who are now very nervously hanging on in a corner of the jungle, while Ujuwa’s forces close in from both sides.
In an attempt to relieve the pressure, Mary’s Young Warriors shoot at Ujuwa’s Archers, but they miss. However, her Soldiers have slightly more luck, killing one of Ujuwa’s Young Warriors.
It does appear, however, that her Soldiers have good reason to fear Ujuwa’s Pygmy Archers. Peering through the dense undergrowth, they unleash another volley of their poison arrows, killing two more Soldiers with no saving throw. To make matters worse, Ujuwa’s Young Warriors kill the last remaining Soldier; they also kill the pet leopard, so they claim it as a hunting trophy as well – the scenario doesn’t specify how old an animal has to be when it is killed!
The demise of the Soldiers leaves a piece of obsidian Statue up for grabs in this corner of the jungle, and Ujuwa immediately sends in his Young Warriors in to grab it. Mary tries to put some juju on the Young Warriors, but they draw an Animal Encounter token; they elect to place a gorilla in the centremost piece of Dangerous Terrain, which looks like becoming the objective of Mary’s headlong push up the table.
Mary is determined not to give up a piece of the Statue without a fight, so her Ruga-Ruga, accompanied by the reporter JJ, advance on Ujuwa’s Young Warriors to have a discussion about its ownership; the Ruga-Ruga are not satisfied with what’s on offer, so they give the Warriors a volley with their muskets. This confrontation quickly balloons into the focus of much of the fighting at this end of the table.

5 – Mary’s Ruga-Ruga discuss ownership of the obsidian Statue piece with Ujuwa’s Young Warriors
At the end of turn 3, Ujuwa’s Archers manage to kill one of Mary’s Young Warriors, but Kiva saves his Terrifying Death Roll.  The Bunduki move up into the centre of the table, being careful to remain far enough away from the centre Dangerous Terrain area, because approaching within S will now automatically trigger an attack by the gorilla.

6 – The Bunduki cautiously move around the gorilla – with good reason, he’s HUGE!!

On turn 4, a new Downpour commences, so firing ranges and Line of Sight are restricted to M for the complete turn.
Mary Ruga-Ruga fire on Ujuwa’s Young Warriors, obtaining another kill. These are now heavily outnumbered by the Ruga-Ruga, and they elect to retreat, carrying the Statue piece with them. However, encumbered as they are, they are unable to pick up the pace, and therefore do not get very far.  To prevent them getting away with the Statue piece, the Ruga-Ruga charge the Young Warriors, wiping them out in the ensuing melee. The obsidian Statue piece changes hands for a second time.

7 – The Ruga-Ruga re-capture the obsidian Statue piece, watched by another gorilla
There is now a flurry of movement in the centre of the board, as both sides square up to each other for what looks like becoming the ultimate showdown. Mary’s Young Warriors charge Ujuwa and his Warriors, and kill one in the melee. Ujuwa bucks the trend developing in this campaign by surviving his Terrifying Death Roll.

8 – Mary’s Young Warriors attack Ujuwa and his Warriors
However, when both sides draw their Stress token for having been in melee, Mary’s Young Warriors find it is their turn to have an Animal Encounter. They happily place a second gorilla in the Dangerous Terrain area right next to Ujuwa’s Scouts, who had been sneaking up the eastern edge of the table with a view to grabbing another piece of Statue. Suddenly, entering that area of Terrain doesn’t look like such a good idea.

On turn 5, Ujuwa’s luck seems to return to par for the campaign, when he fails to remove any Stress from his Warriors, and also fails to score any hits with the Pygmy Archers. Perhaps their poison arrows are losing their potency?
In contrast, Mary takes three Stress of her Young Warriors and also manages to have her Ruga-Ruga kill another Pygmy Archer. The Pygmy King survives yet another Terrifying Death Roll.
Mary then takes another three Stress off her Ruga-Ruga, and her Young Warriors charge Ujuwa and his Warriors for a second time. The melee results in no casualties to either side, but Ujuwa and co. are forced to retreat back into the jungle. Fortunately, the Bunduki rise to the occasion, and fire a volley into the faces of the Young Warriors, killing two of them and hopefully discouraging any further pursuit.
The Pygmy Archers have clearly been working on their target practice, as they fire on the Ruga-Ruga, killing one of them. The reporter JJ, who is accompanying them, survives her Terrifying Death Roll.
Encouraged by their success, the Pygmy Archers loose another volley of arrows at the Ruga-Ruga, killing another one. Once again JJ has to face a Terrifying Death Roll, and survives. Ujuwa’s few surviving Pygmy Warriors charge the Ruga-Ruga, but are repulsed in the melee, and have to retreat.
Most of Mary’s forces are now virtually incapacitated by Stress; she and her Askaris have been immobilised for most of two full turns by Panic Stress tokens, and Ujuwa senses that victory might be within his grasp. She quickly changes that however, by successfully rallying her Askaris, her Young Warriors, and the Ruga-Ruga, and the end of the turn automatically eliminates the Panic Stress.

On turn 6, Mary is able to rally her Adventurers, and the Ruga-Ruga take a shot at the Pygmy Archers, but miss. It is now Ujuwa who needs to rally his forces, and he does successfully rally his Warriors, while his Bunduki reload their muskets.
The Bunduki then use their own movement plus a bonus Move action to hightail it up the table and grab a Discovery token in the northernmost Blocking terrain. Their roll on the scenario’s Encounter table yields them a Ritual Objects find.

9 – The Bunduki steal a march on Mary and grab a Discovery token
Mary’s Young Warriors attempt to follow up their previous success by attacking Ujuwa and his Warriors again. This time though, they lose their last two figures, and the caravan guide Kiva, all alone in the middle of the board, suddenly realises that discretion is the only part of valour that counts. Ujuwa tries to cast one of his Bull’s Breath Sacred Rituals on him, but the ghastly smell and thunderous farts are blown away by the wind – he’s not having much luck with his Rituals this time out!

10 – Ujuwa casts a Sacred Ritual at Mary’s caravan guide Kiva
With both sides looking around for Victory Points as the end of the game approaches, Ujuwa’s Archers fire on the Ruga-Ruga. Successfully wiping them out might mean that the obsidian Statue piece could change hands for a third time. No luck however - the Archers miss completely.
Meanwhile at the other end of the table, the Bunduki decide it’s time to go gorilla hunting. By cashing in some totem cards for bonus dice, they manage to kill the gorilla in the north-eastern Dangerous terrain area, earning Ujuwa’s side another hunting trophy.
Not to be outdone, Mary’s Askaris and her Adventurers let their volleys fly at the gorilla in the centre Dangerous Terrain area. This one is better at keeping his head down though, and both groups only manage one un-cancelled hit each, not enough to kill it because the hits don’t accumulate. It is enough however, for both hits to thoroughly enrage it, and Mary discovers an interesting fact about this species of gorilla – the angrier they are, the bigger they get, so the gorilla will now roll twice as many dice if any group is unwise enough to get close enough to provoke a charge!

11 – The gorilla before he’s shot at

12 – The now thoroughly enraged gorilla

On turn 7, the scenario rules require the holder of the Initiative marker, Mary at this point, to roll before each Action Phase to determine if the game is over.
The first Action Phase is played normally, and Mary and her Adventurers grab another Discovery token in the northwest corner of the table; this yields them an Artefacts find.
Her other forces play it safe; Kiva falls back towards Mary’s other units on the western side of the board, while the Ruga-Ruga finally secure the obsidian Statue piece which has been fought over for much of the game, by also retreating westwards.
Ujuwa’s troops however, have other ideas. His Scouts advance to the edge of the north-eastern Dangerous Terrain area, intending to enter it and grab another Statue piece now the gorilla which was guarding it is no longer a threat. The Bunduki likewise move on the north-western Dangerous Terrain area, and since they are not encumbered, they are able to enter it and claim another jade Statue piece.
Mary then rolled a second time to see of the game is over, and it ended before the second Action Phase.

Tallying the Adventure

By comparison with the earlier adventures, few Victory Points were earned by either side this time, and the tally was very close.
Both sides collected two Loot/Discovery tokens, but the scenario rules call for them to roll 3D6 for each token, with only successes earning VP’s. After the dust had settled, Mary had earned 1VP and Ujuwa none.
Both sides also collected two pieces of Statue - Ujuwa found two pieces of jade, while Mary found one piece each of obsidian and jade. Since neither side collected a complete Statue, there were no bonus points there, so both sides earned just 3 VP.
Neither side earned any VP’s for holding totem cards bearing a gorilla picture.
Mary found a single Discovery, in Artefacts, for a total of 4 VP.
Ujuwa also found a single Discovery, in Ritual Objects, for a total of 4VP.
Mary’s reporter JJ let her down by failing to meet the deadline for publication of the trip report in this month’s bulletin of the Société Géographique; she flunked her success rolls, earning no VP’s.
Somewhat surprisingly, considering the number of Terrifying Death Rolls which had to be made by both sides during this adventure, no Characters or Auxiliaries were killed; however, since the Soldiers’ pet leopard was killed with that group, we assigned 1 VP (i.e. half value) to Ujuwa, for killing one “semi-Auxiliary”.
Just for fun, we decided that Mary’s Askaris should be allowed to keep their pet leopard as part of that group for the next adventure. It will give the group an additional combat value of 1D8.
That means that this adventure was a draw, at 8 VP each. Under the scenario rules, if there is a draw in VP’s, the holder of the Initiative token is declared the winner; once again, that was Mary.
Ujuwa was still feeling rather Poorly at the start of this adventure. However, he suffered no additional ill effects, so he retains his Poorly status and that will carry over to the next adventure.
Since both sides had found an equal number of Statue pieces, we interpreted the scenario rules to allocate one additional domain of Knowledge to each side. Since he has now earned two domains of Knowledge in total, Ujuwa will upgrade to his 2-star card for the next adventure. Mary already has four domains of Knowledge, so she is using her 3-star card and cannot upgrade any further.
Ujuwa gained two Hunting Trophies during this adventure – Leopard and Gorilla.
Ujuwa cast a number of Sacred Rituals in this adventure, but only one was successful, so he only earned a single Spiritual Link point. With no surviving Sacred Warriors, he is unable to roll for bonus Link points.
Travelling to the next adventure will be resolved prior to playing that adventure.

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