Scenario 2 for the Congo wargames rules involves a giant ape who lives near a sacred tree and is protected and venerated by the local native tribe. But an expedition led by adventurous white men is determined to investigate and, if possible, capture the creature to take back to "civilisation". After a long time hacking through the jungle, the tired and dishevelled explorers come across a jungle clearing containing a shrine - and some very large footprints.
Here's how it went when we played the game...
White Men Expedition
100 points of figures, split into 2 columns which would enter from diametrically-opposite corners of the table:
- In the top, right corner: Major Savage (retired officer), 1 x 4 trained askaris and 1 x 4 [Sikh] soldiers.
- Bottom, left: George Keylies [journalist, writing for the "Paris Monitor"], 2 x 4 trained ascaris and 1 x 5 Ruga Ruga [flamboyant, drug-taking, boastful mercenaries].
The expedition started the game exhausted and as luck would have it, straight away [before the first turn] the Sikhs lost a man and the Ruga Ruga gained a terror token.
The Forest Worshippers
70 points of figures, again split into 2 groups who would enter from opposite corners:
- Top left of the board: a champion plus 3 x 5 young warriors
- Bottom right: the chieftain plus 2 x 5 warriors.
Note that the champion has the special ability that he can move up to 3 units of young warriors as a single action, thus making his group potentially very fast and flexible.
The tribesmen look to be outpointed quite badly [70 points to 100 points], but remember that they also control Kong!
- The white men win immediately if Kong is reduced to 0 hits in melee [he's captured and dragged away].
- The natives win immediately if Kong is reduced to 0 hits by shooting [he's dead and cannot be studied, exhibited or otherwise give value to the expedition]
Otherwise, after a random turn limit:
- The white men expedition scores 1VP per hit inflicted on Kong. If the journalist survives then he adds 1VP by writing stories per 3VP scored otherwise.
- The natives score 3VP per expedition unit that is destroyed. Note that the natives do not suffer any victory point penalties for losing their own men. Presumably they are fanatics and don't care?
As predicted, all the young warriors raced enthusiastically towards Kong's sacred grove. In desperation, the journalist's ascaris alone met them [the Ruga Ruga were left behind after a successful terror attack left them with a bad case of the screaming heebie-jeebies] and fired a volley.
The ascaris' shooting only caused one casualty; this didn't look as if it would slow down the natives at all - until we rolled for "character" casualties. Predictably, their champion took the bullet; the young warriors were left leaderless!
The tribesmen pressed their attack, but it was all a bit disjointed now and they started to take casualties from rifle fire. After another successful terror attack, some of the ascaris fled as the jungle noises and war cries proved too much for them. To balance this, the Ruga Ruga finally pulled themselves together and started to catch up with the rest of the party.
Before the Ruga Ruga could reach them, Monsieur Keylies and his remaining [but dwindling] band of ascaris fought off wave after wave of young warriors. The trained gunmen felled large numbers of their attackers, but there always seemed to be more.
Just as the last attack petered out and it looked as if they were safe, one of the retreating natives flung an assegai. The missile caught the journalist in the middle of the chest and he went down, dying.
In the North
On the opposite side of the clearing, Major Strange's ascaris advanced and fired a devastating volley at the great ape. This scored 3 hits, so Kong would only be able to take 5 more before falling.
Nearby, the flank-guard Sikhs were having a hard time of it. They were rushed by tribal warriors before they could fire a shot and suffered more casualties.
While the great ape looked on, the warriors swept over the Sikhs and slaughtered them. Then, they pressed on towards Major Savage's ascaris. The warriors must have been tiring or something, as these continued clashes didn't achieve much other than to chase the intruders around the glade.
Finally, the major rallied his retreating troops enough to fire a crashing volley at the persistent warriors. When the smoke cleared, all of the natives were laid low!
In the Centre
The remaining bands of natives [and their chieftain, who was just arriving] now scattered to try to protect Kong. More rifle fire took its toll, but it was now getting late in the game and the expedition hadn't even stepped inside the sacred grove yet, let alone captured the great ape.
The Major's ascaris in the north were held up by small groups of natives, so it looked as if it was all up to the unbloodied and intact Ruga Ruga to take on Kong. They advanced into the grove...
...and overran the native chieftain and his last remaining bodyguard [they didn't want to fire and unload their muskets, not just yet anyway].
...but Kong didn't take kindly to the intruders. His charge killed one of the Ruga Ruga and drove the rest away - for now.
It looked as if Kong would have to be softened up with rifle fire a bit more before the expedition attempted again to capture him. The creature was still too tough to take on in melee with any real hope of winning!
Time was really running out now. Cleverly, another pair of natives ran in front of the giant ape to protect him. If the ascaris could just shoot them both then the Ruga Ruga would have a chance to shoot Kong - but it wasn't to be. The ascaris only killed one of the natives and the Ruga Ruga had to use their muskets to kill the other. They probably wouldn't have time to reload before the game ended.
We were into overtime now, but the dice called for another round. Kong charged again, dealing out more death and destruction. The ascaris weren't finished off, but were weakened even further.
The Ruga Ruga had another go, but again they lost one of their number and had to retreat from the enraged ape...
...who continued to pursue and slaughter the Ruga Ruga. However, Major Savage and his ascaris now entered the grove from the north - but would there be time for them to do anything?
The dice was rolled again to see if this was the end of the game, but still it came up negative - play on! So, the Major's group charge Kong and clubbed, stabbed and shot the monster at point blank range. Roaring with pain, the animal retreated. [He had now taken 5 hits out of a possible 8 and, while weakened, was not yet completely helpless].
By now, it was absolutely, definitely the last act of the game. Only the remaining 2 ascaris were able to do anything, so should they attack Kong or not? Even though they had no chance whatsoever of capturing the monster, each wound they did would be worth 1VP, so I [controlling the Expedition] decided to "have a go".
Of course, the great ape simply killed both the men, thus scoring another 3VP for the defenders. Bad decision!
Nobody scored a "sudden death" win, so victory points were as follows:
- Expedition: 5VP for wounds to Kong
- Natives: 6VP for destroying 2 enemy units [the Sikh soldiers and the ascaris in the very last combat].
So, it's a narrow win for the Forest Tribe defenders!
The tribesmen played a very canny game of getting in the way of the expedition and blocking their access to the great ape. What they didn't manage to do was to destroy many enemy units. Apart from the early overrun of the weakened Sikhs, it took a bad decision by the White Men expedition [i.e. me] in assaulting Kong with a 2-man unit to score the natives more victory points.
To show how close this game was, here are a few points where it could have gone differently:
- If the dice hadn't allowed us to go into overtime, it would have been 3VP each [Sikh unit destroyed, but 3 wounds to Kong] and thus a draw.
- If I hadn't been caught up in the moment and hadn't made that final charge: 5VP to the Expedition for wounds to Kong, 3VP to the natives, for an Expedition win.
- If the journalist had survived the assegai then the expedition would have scored another 1VP for his articles in the newspaper and therefore it would have ended as a 6VP draw.
Major Savage told his story of the tribe who worshipped a great ape in many bars across the Empire. But there was no-one to back him up and he was regarded as a harmless, old fool who had a bit too much to drink. However much he would protest the truth of his tale, there was no hard evidence and so "Kong" passed into history as just another tall tale...