Sunday, 2 December 2018

The Search for Deeper Knowledge

"Money is one thing, but it will not suffice to keep me alive in such a hostile environment. I also need to tap the wealth of knowledge of the inhabitants, who know this savage country like the back of their hand..."

Mary gazes across the savannah. Ahead, a small village lies huddled in a shallow valley amongst acacia trees. Her contact at Luanda had told her that the village was locally renowned for the wisdom of its elders.




A witchdoctor lives on the outskirts of the village.




Nearby, a blacksmith cuts wood and fires up the village forge...




... while a hunter guards against lions from his lookout post.




Mary was hopeful that with a little gentle persuasion, these wise men would gift her their knowledge.

In the darkness Mary assembles her expedition and breaks camp, hoping to reach the village by first light.




On the opposite side of the valley, Ujuwa also studies the village. Those old fools needed to be silenced and unfortunately for the village occupants, Ujuwa's ideas about persuasion lack Mary's subtlety.




[At the start of this game two of Ujuwa's groups had stress tokens due to circling vultures seen whilst travelling by fast water.]

Despite the darkness and stress be damned, Ujuwa orders his men to pick up the pace and advance swiftly towards the village.




His Pygmies head into a thicket of acacia where they discover the remains of a zebra. Tasty.

[There are 6 Discovery markers in various pieces of terrain. All are randomly placed and turned face down. Four markers represent beneficial discoveries whilst two are cursed.]




Mary's party are more cautious in their approach. A group of Trained Askari clamber between rocks and termite mounds only to be assailed by a tribal chief pleading for help to heal his sick wife. Unfortunately her wounds are deep.

[To heal her they must discard a valuable totem card.]

The Trained Askari also find a discovery token. but it is cursed! A group of monkeys emerge from the boulders and have the Trained Askari turning around in circles.

[Ujuwa swaps stress tokens between one of his groups and the Trained Askari, leaving them panicked.]




By now Ujuwa's Warriors have reached the witchdoctor's hut and as the sun rises across the vast plain, they smash their way in dragging the old man out into the morning chill.




Mary hears the commotion and rushes towards the village furnace. She pleads with the blacksmith that for his own safety he should accompany her. Hearing the shriek of terror from the nearby hut, the blacksmith quickly agrees.




Another of Mary's groups explores a kopje and spy a discovery token. What could it be?




Not what they were hoping for! The Askari sense the presence of evil magic...

[The group are attacked by a 3D6 Wild Hunt Ritual. That's now both of the cursed tokens - Mary is starting to feel that her luck has deserted her...]

... but their luck turns and they manage to escape unscathed.

Mary can see Ujuwa and his hunters approaching the forge. Her soldiers fire a volley of shots and two of Ujuwa's group drop to the ground dead!




Arrows fly in return and a soldier staggers back, mortally wounded.

The firefight continues and another of Ujuwa's Hunters is slain. That last shot whizzed a bit too close to Ujuwa's ear for his liking, so leaving the village assault to those of a less sensitive dispossession, he retreats back towards a group of rocks.




Exhausted by their efforts, Mary and her Soldiers stagger away from the forge.




Seeing the danger, both groups of Askari rush to her aid.




Where they form a defensive wall.

Opposing them stand Warriors and Bundukis.




The odds don't appear too favourable for Ujuwa. Regardless, the Bundukis fire...




The muskets deafen everyone stood around, but as the smoke clears the Askari pat themselves down and look around relieved to find everything still intact!

The Askaris raise their rifles in return...




Thwarted by the cowardly use of overwhelming firepower, the Warriors and Archers head towards the lookout post, leaving the Bundukis to guard against a possible assault on Ujuwa.

Ujuwa rummages amongst the rocks and discovers the largest magic mushrooms he has ever seen! These will definitely come in useful...




Under a hail of bullets, the Bundukis retreat from the firefight and find themselves amongst a group of termite hills where they discover a hoard of Ritual Objects.




On the other side of the village, Mary's Ruga Ruga are the first to reach the lookout post and are less than sympathetic in their persuasion. Without argument, the village hunter joins them.




Suddenly, cackling can be heard from a copse of Acacia. Hyenas have arrived!




[It's the start of turn 4. Since the hyenas have not yet come into play they are placed on the board by the player with the most stress tokens - Ujuwa!]

The hyenas stand between the Ruga Ruga and safety.




"Jolly unsporting!"

Comes the cry from Mary's Adventurers, who have remained skulking in the background for much of the game. Taking aim they fire, dispatching two of the hyenas.

The remaining hyena lunges towards the Ruga Ruga, but is fended off. Hyenas behind and Ujuwa's Archers ahead! The situation unnerves the Ruga Ruga who start to panic.




A flurry of arrows cuts down the Ruga Ruga who are then promptly charged by the Archers. The surviving Ruga Ruga flees, leaving behind his 'guest'.

Meanwhile, the Adventurers head into the Acacia copse and along with the two slain hyena pelts, they discover a cache of valuable minerals.




Seeing the glittering stones, the Warriors rush towards the Adventurers and brandishing their spears they charge!




The Adventurers are beaten back, leaving their loot behind.

Regaining their composure, the Adventurers study their surrounds. Seeing that the Ruga Ruga have been cut down leaving the hunter to a sticky fate, the Adventurers cry "Tally Ho!" And rush to his aid.




The hunter is rescued. Taking the initiative the Adventurers then fire at the Warriors leaving only two standing.

Enraged, Ujuwa's Warriors set upon the the Adventurers and force them to fall back into the woods.

As the distant roar of lions starts to herald nightfall, Ujuwa is in possession of two village wise men and four discoveries. Feeling rather battered, Mary looks on with a single wise man amongst her party.

But wait!

The Adventurers prove to be stout of heart.

"Steady your aim lads!"




As the last rays of sunlight falls upon the Savannah, the Adventurers fire.

Ujuwa's remaining two Warriors lie dead, their captives free and the minerals unclaimed.




[At the start of turn 6, the player with the initiative rolls to determine whether the game ends. It does!]

*********

Mary has a single wise man in her party earning her 4 vp. She also has 3 items of loot and rolls 3D6 for each, earning her another 4 vp for a total of 8 vp.

Ujuwa has captured no village wise men and gained no loot, but he has made 3 discoveries earning him a whopping 12 vps! In spite of himself and a rash failure to instruct his Warriors to go to ground when being shot at with 3D10 (hem...), Ujuwa appears to have won this Adventure!

For Mary, the adventure may have been lost, but she did prevent all of the wise men from coming to harm and the blacksmith gave her knowledge of African Customs. That may yet prove useful.

Desperate to keep the spirits happy, Ujuwa decides to travel once again over fast waters and this time, all is well. Ujuwa now has 10 Spiritual Link points.

Mary chooses to travel through thriving jungle, but becomes lost! Luckily only for a short time earning her an extra totem card at the start of the next adventure. But time draws on and Mary has now spent 10 months on her journey.

To date the campaign Accomplishment Points are as follows:

Mary: 18 AP (up 3 from last game)

Ujuwa: 6 AP (up 5 from last game)

Mary has a hunting trophy and gained one domain of knowledge, but her accomplishment points are at risk of decreasing as the months go by.

Stay tuned for our next Congo adventure - Awaiting the Bel Azur

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

More Jungle Terrain on the Way

SELWYG 2018 will soon be upon us and Friday Night Firefight Club will be running the naval Chinese participation game from this year's Cavalier.




I'll be updating the terrain with a few extra jungle bits and also adding some new rocks for the boats to navigate around. Lots still to do, but here's a few work in progress shots.




It's amazing how much room you need when making terrain! 





The rocks are now painted and flocked. Just need to add bushes, vines and jungle plants. If I can make it work, I'll also add a few large trees with overhanging mangrove type roots. Should look something like this...




The trees have since been painted and are awaiting moss flocking before adding a few vines and then the canopy. The latter is likely to be messy!

Of course, all of this will eventually find its way into a game of Congo!


Saturday, 29 September 2018

First Contact!

"Here I am back in Africa. I remember clearly my first steps on this mysterious continent. I will no doubt need all the experience gained during my first outing, as nothing comes easy in Africa. I am also somewhat short of funds, for exploration is an expensive business..."

Mary Kingsley is back in Africa. After spending two months in Luanda she is headed to the village of Maskouii with the intention of trading trinkets for antique masks.



The masks can then be sold to a wealthy collector and the funds used to help her expedition to Mount Cameroon - The Throne of Thunder. 




Mary also hopes to improve her knowledge of Africa by entering into contact with the natives and making new discoveries.

[In the campaign, both Mary and her adversary can gain knowledge that will help them in their quest and also find various discovery tokens that may provide advantages in future adventures.]




Mary is accompanied on her first adventure by her Kirangozi, Kiva and an old acquaintance she met at Luanda, a famous botanist called Bergamote. Her party includes Soldiers, Adventurers, Trained Askaris and a group of local Askaris who agreed to come along to Maskouii, but will go no further. Currently she has only a single Bearer, but hopes to hire more men on her journey.




For some time Mary has felt uneasy as though an unseen shadow was watching. As she travelled to Maskouii that shadow revealed itself as the Fang witchdoctor Ujuwa. Ujuwa is determined to put a stop to the growing menace of white foreigners by completing a powerful ritual to awaken the spirits that sleep below Mungo Mah Lobeh. In this endeavour he is accompanied by a local chieftain called M'Otowanfa and a small war party consisting of Warriors, Pygmy Warriors, Hunters, Archers and Bundukis. Two Sacred Warriors accompany Ujuwa to help him with his ceremonies.




Ujuwa sends his war party forwards and his Pygmy Warriors head to the west whilst his warriors make for the village. If Ujuwa can take possession of the masks first, perhaps this strange Victorian woman will leave his land and return home.




Mary of course is having none of it and upon seeing Ujuwa in the distance she quickly darts into a patch of bush and stumbles upon an old pot. But a shout comes from the men back at camp, wild animals have turned her camp upside down and her supplies are in disarray! Confused, Mary looks into the earthenware pot hoping to make a new discovery but instead finds it is cursed!! One of her soldiers loses his nerves and before Mary can stop him, he flees into the distance.




Meanwhile, Ujuwa's Warriors rush into the village and snatch a mask from one of the villagers ...




... and his Pygmies run towards another patch of bush containing a large pot.




Seeing the witchdoctor's warriors in the village, Mary shouts towards her Ruga Ruga who try to enter the village but are struck down with fear and panic.




Ujuwa's Pygmies carefully enter the acacia copse where they are assailed by another tribal chieftain who accuses them of selling him faulty goods. Bemused, the Pygmies assure him of their good intentions and the chieftain goes on his way, mumbling about muskets with flames coming from the wrong end... The Pygmies then smash open the clay jar - and find it full of snakes! Luckily their fast reactions save them from being bitten.

[There are discovery tokens in four of the dangerous terrain areas. But not all are as they seem and some tokens have been cursed. Both Mary and Ujuwa have been unlucky and only found the cursed tokens. Perhaps they will have more luck elsewhere.]




Mary's Trained Askaris venture into another acacia copse where they become unsettled by the gloom.




Ujuwa spies them and starts to chant the Ritual of the Wild Hunt. Success! Suddenly the Trained Askaris are attacked by giant ants!! Screaming in agony, one of the hapless askaris is engulfed in a living ball of insects and before anyone can help him he is dragged down a hole in the ground.




Seeing her Ruga Ruga cowering, Mary leads by example and marches into the village - albeit accompanied by a rifle armed group of Soldiers. Incensed by this intrusion, Ujuwa's Warriors brandish their spears and charge!




The Soldiers are beaten back. Mary pleads with the Warriors and offer them glass beads to prevent them killing her soldiers.

[One of Mary's special abilities is Barter. This allows her to give a loot token to Ujuwa in exchange for not losing a figure in melee. But she must be careful since she starts the campaign with just three such barter points]





Ujuwa spots Mary's antique buyer lurking by a clump of acacia and shouts to his Warriors.




Seeing the threat, the Trained Askari (having rid themselves of their six legged foe), block the exit. But the Warriors feel confident and with spears banging against shield they charge.




[Sometimes things just don't go your way and a whole game can be won or lost on the roll of a die... In Congo, players roll d6, d8 or d10 depending on the quality of their troops/characters. A success is always achieved with a roll of 5 or higher. Here I rolled five d8 and didn't get a single success!]

Ujuwa's Warriors fail to make any impact on the askaris who beat the Warriors back with their muskets. Two of the Warriors are killed and the rest fall back, leaving behind their precious mask. Not quite believing their luck the Trained Askaris grab the mask and leg it!

By now the sun was reaching its zenith and the savannah was becoming hot. Too hot for one of the villagers who retires into their hut taking their mask with them. Only one mask remains.




Mary heads back into the village and after some firm (but fair) negotiations is in possession of the last  mask.

With snake skins hanging from their belts, the Pygmies quickly take up position and hurl their spears at the Soldiers. Before they can form a shooting line, the Soldiers are overcome by the Pygmy Warriors leaving only Mary and her Bearer alive. They quickly fall back - but are forced to leave behind their mask.





Ruga Ruga open fire with their muskets. A deafening sound rings out over the savannah. When the Pygmies open their eyes they see that the only effect was a large plume of smoke enveloping the shooters. 




Suddenly, the Ruga Ruga find themselves charged in the flank by Ujuwa's Warriors baying for blood for the loss of their mask.




The Ruga Ruga are cut down and the three survivors flee for their lives.




But Ujuwa sends in his Hunters who pepper the Ruga Ruga with arrows. Only one man remains standing.

[Hunters roll d8 for shooting and can roll an additional d8 for each success. They are quite something!]




At this point, Mary decided that an orderly withdrawal was in order...

Ujuwa sent his Hunters after her, but they became entangled in an acacia copse and Mary was able to escape.




*******


Mary managed to escape the village with a single discovery that turned out to be a new species of violet. More importantly she managed to sell one of her masks and this won her the game 10 vp to 8 vp. But during this adventure Mary was forced to use up two of her precious barter points leaving only one for the next game. Travelling to her next adventure will take Mary four months as she travels through the jungle, meaning she has now been in Africa for a total of 6 months. If her expedition is to be a success she must try to be quicker. Still, the medicinal plants she found in the jungle may yet prove useful.

Ujuwa also secured a discovery in the form of Ritual Objects and managed to perform 6 rituals. Ujuwa decides to travel Over Swift Water in his pursuit of Mary, but is dismayed when a vulture starts to circle overhead...

Since both parties had one mask each, no additional Knowledge was obtained.

To date the Accomplishment Points for the campaign are as follows:

Mary: 15 AP

Ujuwa: 1 AP

But Mary's points for Journey Length will decrease as time goes on.

The player with the highest number of AP at the end of the last adventure will win the overall campaign.

Stay tuned for out next Congo adventure - The Search for Deeper Knowledge