On to our second game of Congo
in the Mungo Mah Lobeh campaign (if you haven't already done so, then I suggest you read all about the start of the campaign
before continuing with this account).
So, after failing miserably to make any real money in trading native masks, Mary Kingsley has decided to seek help from some local elders: a guide, a witch doctor and a wise man. The trouble is that her enemy - Ujuwa - has heard about this plan and is determined to stop this interfering foreigner once and for all!
|There are 3 huts down the centre line of the table; each contains one of the local savants. There's plenty of elephant grass and termite mounds (high, dangerous terrain) as well.|
|Ujuwa's ruffians, ready for action.|
|Mary's usual column; a mixture of disciplined soldiers, European adventurers and African mercenaries. Also, 3 young boys (scouts) who tagged along from the last village, claiming that they knew the way to the wise men...|
Almost immediately, a group of pesky hyenas appeared amongst the termite mounds.
As the player who drew the "animal" token and therefore had to place the beasts, I was torn. On the one hand, the creatures were potentially dangerous and might hurt my enemies. On the other hand, as the controller of Mary's expedition, I would score a bonus campaign point if I could kill a hyena and brag about it. I was also conscious that dead hyenas would turn into loot tokens, which were worth victory points and might therefore contribute towards victory or defeat in this game.
In the end, I decided that they were too dangerous to place near my own troops; I'd let them eat some tribesmen first before I shot one 😁.
My 3 young hangers-on got lost in some tall grasses and were struck with terror! They did make a useful discovery, however (Token no. 3).
Meanwhile, Ujuwa was trying to impress the locals. It wasn't really working very well, though; his reputation as a powerful spiritualist took a bit of a knock when he failed to save the local chief's wife.
It turns out that this pack of hyenas was all bark and no bite; they weren't dangerous at all. The native hunters slew one of the beasts effortlessly, though the other pair continued to snap at their heels.
After a few turns, this is how things stood:
- Ujuwa and his thugs had hustled the guide from the furthest hut and were making off with him.
- Mary's soldiers quick-marched up to the central hut, knocked politely and invited the wise man to come with them for his own safety.
- Since they were under no immediate threat, the soldiers then opened fire on the remaining pair of hyenas and managed to kill one of them. I think this apparently magnanimous act took the natives by surprise!
- Mary's Ruga Ruga ruffians ran up to the home of the witch doctor [nearest hut]. They shouted and jeered for several turns, but the doctor wouldn't come out.
- Most of the remaining tribesmen were advancing cautiously, en masse - whilst many of Mary's other followers were lost in patches of elephant grass.
The soldiers shot again, but this time at a group of natives who had carelessly left cover. The rifle fire was deadly - however there were many more warriors now thirsting for revenge!
Amongst the termite mounds, the native archers finished their game of "hide and seek" with the hyenas by shooting the last of the beasts.
Meanwhile, the Ruga Ruga clashed with a group of spearmen who charged out of the tall grass towards them. A short series of melees ensued which caused some casualties on both sides, but eventually the Ruga Ruga managed to grab the witch doctor from her hut and break off.
It seems that the native bowmen were all fired up now. A volley of arrows caught the soldiers as they prepared to retire with their prize (the wise man); this turned an orderly retreat into something decidedly more hasty!
Meanwhile [in the background], Mary led her ascaris in pursuit of Ujuwa and the kidnapped guide; it didn't seem likely that the guide's best interests would be served by remaining in the hands of the tribesmen's fanatical leader and Mary was determined to save him if she could!
Ujuwa had left a small group of scouts hidden in the long grass to discourage such a pursuit, but the ascaris fired a close-range volley into the dense foliage. They only hit one man, but the sound of the guns and the thick smoke so terrified the others that the remaining tribesmen ran away.
Still, even this brief action had slowed Mary down. By the time she re-organised her ascaris and set off in pursuit again, Ujuwa [and the guide] were gone. No doubt the poor man would spend the next day or so staked out on top of a broken ant hill...
Another group of hyenas appeared from the thick vegetation near the tribal warriors. This pack were definitely more ferocious, as they killed more than one of the natives over the next few turns - and the threat they posed effectively prevented the tribesmen from taking off in pursuit of Mary's retreating forces.
Despite their losses, there were enough warriors around to surround and kill all the beasts, eventually. However, when the survivors looked up after finishing this grisly task, they discovered that they were alone on the savannah; everyone else had departed. At least they had 6 loot counters - there would be quite a feast tonight on hyena meat!
Winners and Losers
Victory points were added up at the end of the game thus:
- 2 rescued teachers/wise men: 8VP
- 1 loot [a rather fine elephant-hair bracelet obtained from a wandering trader]: 2VP
- 3 discoveries [in fauna, flora and geology]: 12VP
...for a grand total of 22VP
- 1 kidnapped teacher/guide: 4VP
- 6 loot [hyena carcasses]: 5VP
- 1 discovery [ritual object]: 4VP
...giving an end result of 13VP.
This game went very much Mary's way; her victory was decisive. However, note that Ujuwa scored exceptionally poorly for his large collection of loot, only gaining 5 out of a possible 18VP for it. I guess that Hyena meat isn't very good eating after all!
Once again, this game was much more about objectives than about fighting. There were some squabbles, for certain, but these were relatively muted affairs - typically short, sharp exchanges with both sides then withdrawing. In many ways, the exploration and role-playing aspects of this game made it more interesting, in my view. Here are some highlights/lowlights:
- Several of Mary's groups became lost in the tall grassland. Both the small boys/scouts and the white men/adventurers just vanished into such terrain and pretty much stayed there all game [mainly because I couldn't spare any activations for them, but still...].
- Ujuwa's attempts at magic fell very flat in this game. He failed almost all of his attempts to cast spells, and the few which did succeed were quite low-level affairs.
- On the other hand, Ujuwa's soothsayer, Komboso, finally guessed a [single] totem card correctly! He was acquiring quite a reputation for incompetence as he had never succeeded in such a prediction before, but we can no longer accuse him of being a complete idiot. A half-wit, perhaps...
- The polite, disciplined soldiers succeeded in their mission to rescue a wise man very easily, whilst the rude, ruffianly Ruga Ruga had a much harder time making friends with their assigned target.
In the after-game wrap up, Mary
acquired a pair of strong brothers as bearers, whilst Ujuwa
was joined by another mysterious sacred warrior. He still shudders whenever anyone calls his band the "hyena men", though...
==> Game 3 is this way