Saturday 25 January 2020

Congo: Mungo Mah Lobeh, Game 5


This is a rather delayed account of our 5th game in the Mungo Mah Lobeh campaign using the Congo rules.

Earlier games in the campaign can be found here:
Game 5 in the campaign was actually played last September - some 4 months ago - and I've been putting off the account since then.  Ah, well, here it is now:

Passing the Fang Territory

Scenario 5 is set up like this:
  • There's a band of jungle running diagonally across the table.  It's difficult terrain, but also is full of Fang cannibals.
  • Discoveries can be found in the jungle at various points.
  • The players start at opposite corners from each other.  Their primary goal is to exit at least 1 unit from the opponent's corner, success in this will gain a large number of victory points.
  • Secondary goals (i.e. other ways to score victory points) are as usual: obtaining discoveries, knocking out enemy characters, finding loot...

The Forces

Mary Kingsley's "White Men Expedition" force consists of:
  • Mary leads a unit of 5 Ascaris
  • A group of (3) white adventurers
  • The guide/kirangozi accompanies 4 soldiers
  • 5 ruga ruga (professional, but undisciplined native mercenaries)
  • The doctor is in charge of 5 young warriors

I'm not so familiar with Ujuwa the witch doctor's band.  However, I do know it has the following in it:
  • 4 bands of (young?) warriors.  One is led by Ujuwa himself, another by his soothsayer.  There may be 1 or 2 sacred warriors added to some of these bands.
  • 1 group of 6 bow-armed archers, led by a chieftain (?)
  • 1 group of 3 lightly-equipped scouts.

The Game

From the start, it looked as if the 2 sides had slightly different strategies.  Mary's column advanced fairly close together, aiming slightly away from the centre of the table.  On the other hand, Ujuwa's forces spread out to try to cover the entire length of the jungle.

Note that I cannot actually see Ujuwa's scouts in this picture, or indeed in most of the others!  I know that they were present; they played a small - but significant - role in the forest tribe's achievements and I know that they ended up in the jungle at the bottom left of this picture.  I can only assume they've moved so fast that they are hidden in the foliage already.

Fang Cannibals

Hostile Fang tribesmen roamed about in the treetops, taking potshots with their poisoned blowpipes at anyone who came close.The first to feel their wrath were Mary's ruga ruga and (especially!) her soldiers.

Initially, The Fang were quite even-handed.  They also shot down 2 of Ujuwa's 3 scouts, leaving just a single quivering man holding on to one of the all-important discovery tokens.

Finally, Mary and her ascaris passed through the tree line without problems.  The adventurers who tried to follow were not so lucky: in a disastrous piece of bad luck (for Mary!), 2 of the 3 adventurers were hit and fell.

Mary's Dash

Mary and her small bodyguard of ascaris exited the jungle.  They were pleased with themselves for having passed unscathed and for having made a discovery en route [i.e. the #2 green token].  However, the way ahead was full of Ujuwa's tribesmen.

The ascaris attempted to skirt around the bands of warriors, but were caught when Ujuwa and his force attacked them.  Mary's force fled without taking any casualties, but were forced to drop their discovery.

From this point on, Mary and her ascaris ran for the corner as fast as they could.  This seemed to catch the tribesmen somewhat flat footed; none of them managed to intercept the white woman and her friends.  [Ujuwa's group had acquired a Movement stress token and didn't have the right card/dice to rally from it, whilst the other warband wasn't well positioned to attack].

At the last moment, the chieftain ordered his archers to shoot at the strangers.  It was a damaging volley, but not enough to halt the ascaris.

With one last bound, Mary and her ascaris left the table, thus securing a guaranteed 15 victory points for her side.

At the same time, the furthest-advanced tribal warband bludgeoned its way past the ruga ruga.  Casualties were heavy on both sides.

The last of the white adventurers also fell at this point, though I forget whether he was a victim of a Fang blowpipe or whether he was assegaied by a passing group of warriors.

Since the tribesmen now outnumbered the expedition considerably, they rushed forwards.  Ujuwa's band came through the jungle unhurt and fell upon the 2 remaining soldiers and their accompanying kirangozi.

In a small-minded act of petty revenge, the last of the ruga ruga shot the tribal soothsayer.  Amongst other things, this left a single warrior guarding the #4 objective for the tribal forces.

The End Game

At this point, the forest tribe held all four discovery tokens, as well as a loot counter [I forget how this was picked up - probably it was from a random event].  Excluding the items for which random victory points are awarded [i.e. loot and knocking out enemy characters], the scores so far were:

  • Mary: 15VP for exiting the table
  • Ujuwa: 16VP for 4 discoveries
In other words, it looked very tight, but probably a minor native win.

The doctor [who hadn't moved at all up to this late point in the game] thought he saw a chance of reversing this.  It may not have been good odds, but the lone warrior with the #4 objective was an easy target - if the doctor and his followers could catch the tribesman.

Unsurprisingly, the lone warrior fled when he saw the doctor's band approaching.  However, Ujuwa had to use his only movement card for this - and that meant his own band [with the #2 discovery which had been captured from Mary earlier in the game] was in range.

As a last, desperate, do-or-die action, the doctor and his band of young warriors charged Ujuwa and his group of warriors.  Even though slightly outclassed, the expedition's force triumphed, drove Ujuwa back and re-captured the #2 discovery.  Hurrah!

Finally, here's a picture of my elephant.  This was the nominated wildlife for the scenario, but no-one drew an animal token for the entire game.  The poor beast never made an appearance and is still waiting in the sidelines...


That was a very tense game, with the tribesmen [mostly] rampaging through the expedition's forces.  At the conclusion, Mary had just one unit left [i.e. the doctor's young warriors] plus a single ruga ruga, whilst Ujuwa had at least 4 units and a lone scout.  The Fang cannibals accounted for a lot of Mary's forces, especially the better quality groups such as the adventurers and the soldiers, leaving them easy meat for the tribesmen to finish off.

However, like all scenarios of Congo, victory isn't about destroying all the enemy forces.  So, what's the total?  Who won?

Victory Points


  • 12VP for 3 discoveries [#1, #3, #4 were all held at the end of the game]
  • 1VP for loot
  • 4VP for knocking out the expedition's guide/kirangozi [a random roll, but I think this is the maximum that could be achieved]
Total: 17 victory points


  • 15VP for exiting the table
  • 0VP for knocking out the soothsayer [a random roll.  This is the least which could be scored]
  • 4VP for discovery #2
Total: 19 victory points

So, it's a very narrow victory for Mary's expedition, achieved in the last act of the game by the unlikely success of the doctor's desperate charge!  Ujuwa has every right to feel robbed by this; I expect he's plotting a terrible revenge for the 6th and last game in the campaign!


  1. It was touch and go.
    Mary's "home run"earning 15vp was the decisive event.

    It was an audacious move, which caught my tribesmen flat footed.
    If I remember correctly, I'd loaded up on charge and rally command cards, but used the rally early, with limited success and then gained a lot more stress.

    I'd also committed all my warriors forward, intending a cooddinated burst through the tree-belt, and this left little in reserve to slow or attack the white lady and her fighters.

    Poor generalship, but not the first time Ujuwah has failed to back his rabble-rousing language with a coherent plan.

    It amazes me that Ujuwah manages to find more willing followers after such debacles.

    1. Thanks, Steve.

      Actually, I thought that my/Mary's tactic of making a run for the end zone was very high risk. That it worked at all was largely due to luck - the nearest tribesmen acquiring a mobility stress token certainly helped :-) .

      Note also that to do this I mostly ignored my other units, which were then decimated and didn't contribute much. This left the forest tribe free to collect all the other point-scoring items and it was only by a desperate, last-minute gamble that Mary won a slim victory after all.

      Looking over the previous games in the campaign, I think the results have been far more even than we remember. Both Ujuwa and Mary have had big wins and narrow defeats, sometimes snatched at the last moment and sometimes obvious from fairly early. With one game to go, I think the overall campaign result is too close to call...

    2. A agree about the results.
      The campaign's scenarios certainly provide a bit of variety.
      They force each side to assess its primary and secondary objectives, and woe-betide the leader who doesn't commit to them.

      I think we have both learned better tactics as the campaign has progressed.
      Ujuwah's tactics in the first couple of games were mostly "engage the enemy more closely", neglecting useful objectives and not making the best of his magical arts.

      I recall one messy game in light terrain where the explorerr's shooting almost wiped out Ujuwah's contingent in a single turn.
      I seem to recall limited visibility due to weather suddenly clearing and leaving my warriors like ducks at a shooting gallery.
      otherwise games have been fairly close.

      The campaign also provides good balance.
      It is tough to win a fight against a firearm heavy expedition.
      Natives will get more units, but only the same number of activation cards.
      On a one-off game this is partly balanced by the shooty types needing to activate to move, rally and shoot, while the Natives are primarily concerned with rallying and shooting.
      The campaign provides Ujuwah with a couple of characters who yielded additional totem cards.
      This really helped to keep the whole force moving, and to coordinate the occasional mass attack.

      It's been great fun and I'm looking forward to the concluding chapter ... Or will there be more?

  2. Great read and very bloody; the rush tactic of Mary's force need a lot of luck imo to succeed even as well as it did, whilst the shotgun approach of the nativs ( covering everything) was an equally risky tactic imo.
    I do think though that taking the risks was well worth and no matter what, it's a tricky scenario to come up withmore viable tactics.
    Well done on securing victory from the jaws of defeat.

    1. Thanks, Joe. It felt like a very close game indeed :-) . I think that if my gambit with Mary's run had failed then the remainder of the Expedition would have been in all kinds of trouble...

    2. Maybe not as risky as it first appears.
      Mary has a diplomatic skill that can defuse the bulk of close combat attacks.

      My (Ujuwah's) error was failing to leave sufficient reserve to block her run.
      My desperate efforts to stop her burned a lot of movement activation that might have been used to retreat some of my loot-carrying parties back behind the hazardous jungle.

      It was an intriguing scenario, and I think that 3 or 4 replays would all produce quite different types of battle.