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!

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.

Ujwa'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 shield 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.

Riga 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.

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

Friday, 28 September 2018

Mungo Mah Lobeh

Our Throne of Thunder campaign for Congo starts tomorrow!

Whilst it's been quiet on the blog front for a while now, I've been beavering away in the background getting a new Forest Tribe column and various bits and pieces of terrain assembled and painted for Congo.

Mungo Mah Lobeh is a six scenario campaign based around Mary Kingsley's expedition to find a new route to the summit of Mount Cameroon (Mungo Mah Lobeh or Throne of Thunder of the title). To do this she will need to gain knowledge of Africa and its peoples, make new discoveries and travel through difficult terrain that includes Savannah, swamp and jungle. All the while shadowed by a mysterious Fang witchdoctor.

I aim to write up each of the adventures and give an overview of the campaign supplement along the way. For now rest assured that Mary is travelling safely on the steamer Batanga and will soon be making port at Luanda on the west coast of the Dark Continent.

But her finances are stretched and she will need to raise funds to properly resource her expedition. It will soon be time to make First Contact...

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Salute 2018 Loot

Only a quick post about Salute. Big Kyle and I had a great time - apart from the awful lighting.... my poor eyes!

Since we went with friends (who are new to all this wargame malarkey), I had decided to pre-order most of my loot. This ensured I picked up the things I was really after. We did have a look around, but to be honest we didn't spend as much time as usual gawking at the lovely tables - so no photos I'm afraid. Instead, I decided the best thing was to get down to the lardies and have a good crack at What a Tanker! I nicked this photo off the lardies Facebook page. Something had obviously tickled me...

Don't let Kyle's appearance fool you, we both really enjoyed playing the game and listening to Rich's attempts at wit ;-) It's a simple tank vs tank game. No massive historical complexity, just tanks on the table going at each other. And you know what? Sometimes we all need to play a simple game like that, so definitely a thumbs up from me. Will I play it week in week out? No, but its light and fun and has encouraged me to finally get my years old early German armour painted. More on that another time.

Enough about the lardies, here's the loot.

If you look carefully you'll see quite a bit of Darkest Africa figures, canoes, burn huts (and even an explorer wondering why he's sat in a pot). I also splashed out on the new SAGA rules. Not had chance to read them yet though. Of course, I did pre-order What a Tanker but also decided to give Chain of Command a go. Looks like a platoon level game that is similar to Bolt Action, but perhaps offers more interesting command and control options. Hoping for a game next week so we'll see.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Escalation Along the Nziari

I've played several Savannah based Congo adventures but it was now time to head into the Jungle! So on Saturday I played Escalation Along the Nziari with Dan, one of my friends from Friday Night Firefight Club.

Two White Men columns face each other on opposite sides of the crocodile infested Nziari River. Looks like there are also a number of hippos in the murky waters.

This scenario requires the two columns to claim territory by capturing three flags (strategically positioned on sand banks in the river) and carrying them off the opposite table edge.

[numbered tokens represent permitted exit points]

Professor Smut was joined by the famed explorer Big Gun Johnson. On the opposite side of the River, the Retired Officer Banks was joined by some foolhardy journalist who decided to lug his precious camera gear through the jungle.

The Retired Officer was of German decent and was accompanied by a number of adventurers, soldiers, trained askari and rugga rugga. The English scientist had less funds available for his expedition and hired mostly askaris and young warriors. He did have some adventurers, but they seemed loath to venture far into the jungle.

The English slogged their way to the river and started the game exhausted. This was cruelly exploited by the nefarious Germans who made all manner of strange bird calls and beat the buttresses of trees. This was too much for the Professor's askari, who repeatedly failed panic attacks. Professor Smut did persuade one group of askari to enter a particularly thick section of jungle and managed to find a specimen of particular interest...

[my area terrain has removable sections to allow figures to be more easily placed]

The Germans were much more steady in their approach and quickly acquired the flags. But only one group managed to emerge from the river before the commotion attracted the attention of the crocodiles.

The German trained askari dragged themselves from the river, but found themselves isolated and the sound of gunshots rang out.  Falling like flies they were then assaulted by askari and died to a man. One of the flags was now in possession of the Professor's Askari!

Unfortunately, they were somewhat depleted in numbers. Perhaps best to stay out of harms way!

More commotion on the other side of the river, heralded the appearance of a mighty ape. The gorilla set about the German adventurers who took a good thumping but managed to retired out of harms way.

As the weather worsened and torrential downpours threatened to swell the river, the professor's askari and young warriors made one final push for a flag situated on the right flank.

After a kerfuffle, they managed to capture it, but panicked at the thought of crocodiles and retreated from the river.

[dam those terror attacks!]

The professor urged them onwards and they were just about to scramble from the fearsome waters, when night descended and the jungle went eerily quiet...

[in the last turn of the game, a die is rolled at the beginning of each activation phase. On a success the game immediately ends - in our case at the beginning of the second phase...]

Final Score:

Banks eliminated one of the Professor's groups and killed a crocodile scoring 5 vp.

Smut also eliminated one group of enemy askari, disabled the journalist and found some loot for a total of 5 vp! Unfortunately one of the Professor's bearers took a stray bullet and 2 vp were lost.

Dan's Retired Officer Banks won the game by 2 vp!

Big thanks to Dan for a great game that was fun to play with the new terrain.

Monday, 26 March 2018

What Would Professor Jones Have Made of it?!

Last October, Friday Night Fire Fight Club tasked me with building some terrain for a naval game set in Medieval China. The deadline was Cavalier in February. The brief was to create some tall rocks/islands that were connected by a bridge and on which sat a bell...

Hmm - that sounds like an excuse to get some Lost World jungle columns built for a future game of Congo.

It all began with a few rough templates drawn on baking paper...

But how to get the height without making something so heavy it will implode into a black hole under its own weight (or put another way, I'll drop it whilst carrying from car to show).

I don't have any of the high density foam (and it looks quite pricey), so I opted to go the model railway route and use polystyrene. The polystyrene was built up in layers that were attached together using bbq skewers and gaps between filled with scrunched up newspaper.

Over this I put paster cloth, providing both shape and rigidity.

The overall shape was largely dictated by the need to get some height into the structure. The idea was to have rope bridges connecting the islands beneath which boats could sail. But since the first jungle column needed to be accessed by sea, figures had to gain height quickly. In the end I decided to use bark chipping as my steps and these were all carefully selected from a large bag (bought quite cheaply at local pet shop) and glued in place.

The steps were blended into the column using filler.

So, how to do the rope bridges....

I found the perfect answer in a blog post over on the excellent Lead Legionaries blog. A dolls House picket fence! Perfect! And saves an enormous amount of time.

The fence came in a single long piece and I was able to cut it into three lengths (one short length will be used for another project). The pointed ends were snipped off and the end wires were wrapped around more bbq skewers that had been attached to precut sections of mdf. This meant that the bridge could be taken off the columns to allow the whole thing to be more easily transported.

Of course, I needed a way to ensure the bridge could take the weight of figures. I therefore attached small flat magnets to both the rock column and the bridge base. This helped to stop the bridge lifting, but it was still prone to sliding. I therefore cut more of the bbq skewers and these were attached to the bridge base and acted as small pegs that fitted into holes in the main column structure.

The final rock effect was created with more filler that was applied with fingers (swiping horizontally around each column). The real Chinese rock formations are made of limestone and much paler - almost white. But since I wanted to use the terrain for other purposes I decided on a more generic paint scheme and settled on brown/grey to match my other jungle terrain. This I achieved reasonably quickly by spraying the whole structure with grey spray primer and then giving it a heavy highlight with white spray primer. Once dry the columns were washed with various shades of grey, green and brown and the whole lot dry brushes with light grey.

The bridges were finished with thin string (two gauges), that were first soaked in light tan paint and then individually strung. This bit took a while! But the final effect made it worthwhile.

So, what would Professor Jones have made if it all?!

I can't take credit for the bell btw, this was scratch built and painted by one of my club friends, David.

The tops of the columns had already been covered in my normal basing mix of sand and finished to match my other jungle terrain, with green scatter material, clump material, vine and various aquarium plants.

Large spaces have been left to allow movement of figures, but jungle scatter terrain can be added to give a more dense jungle effect when needed. I also have several hanging vines that are removable and can be added to suit a particular game.

Here's the terrain in play at this year's Cavalier.

David and another club friend Paul, scratch built all of the boats. The Cavalier game was based on Blood and Plunder. The aim being to climb the columns, rush to the bell and ring it. All the while trying to avoid being shot to pieces by the crews of the other boats. Lots of fun on the day!

The next step is to build more complementary jungle pieces that can be placed adjacent to the columns for games of Congo etc.