Sunday 27 January 2019

Awaiting for the Bel Azur

"Armed with my newly acquired knowledge, I throw myself head first into exploration of unknown lands. I am soon walking along the banks of the Ogooue River, looking for a quay from which I can board the Bel Azur, a steamboat that runs up and down the watercourse. It will cut our journey time considerably, avoid us a wearily long hike, and offer us a well-deserved rest."

The Ogooue River is sluggish in appearance, but when rain falls on the distant jungle the waters can rise making landings from a boat difficult. For this reason, three quays have been constructed and these are watched over by a rather over zealous local official from his small abode.

The small port is located in a swamp-ridden zone that is notorious for large crocodiles and bad tempered hippopotamus!

Accompanied by her rifle armed Soldiers, Mary happens upon the first quay. But in order to secure passage and alert the steamboat captain of their presence, she needs to hold as many quays as possible.

Suddenly Mary hears drums in the distance. Ujuwa has arrived and keenly studies the quays from the opposite side of the swamp.

Luckily Mary isn't alone. The remainder of her column is near and appears along an old trackway close to the edge of the swamp.

Seeing the danger of being out manoeuvred, Mary instructs her Soldiers to press on. She must reach the last quay before Ujuwa!

Ujuwa smiles to himself. Let the foolish white woman rush in the heat of the swamp. Ujuwa directs his men to fan outwards to search for hidden treasures in the swamp.

Not quite what he'd hoped for... This pool is home to a large crocodile! Fortunately Ujuwa and his Bundukis manage to beat back the giant reptile earning themselves two piles of loot! Ujuwa also discovers a giant footprint from some long lost creature...

The next pool also proves to be something of a surprise as an enraged hippo bursts from the waters and nearly tramples Ujuwa's Archers.

Thanking the gods for their lucky escape, the Archers search the pool and discover a sacred throwing knife. But the hippo turns and flattens one of the Archers as he charges back into his pool.

Heading towards the riverside, Ujuwa's Pygmy Warriors cross a large and rather treacherous looking pool. As they enter the still waters they suddenly let out a cry as they find themselves in quicksand! But what's this? Some fool has left behind a bunch of bananas, a well known African flotation device!

Meanwhile, Mary trudges along the banks of the river. The possibility of treasure in the nearby pools beckons, but Mary remembers her cursed luck in the savannah and chooses to push on instead. She now has two quays secured.

[In this adventure, Victory Points are awarded to Mary for holding each of the quays, with more points available for the furthest quay. Points are deducted from Mary for each melee won by Ujuwa. Ujuwa earns points for denying Mary access to the quays and both columns can earn VP by making discoveries.]

Seeing that Mary has two quays under her control, Ujuwa orders his men to advance. The Pygmy Warriors pull themselves (and their bananas) from the quicksand. Meanwhile Ujuwa's Fang Chieftan, M'Otowanfa, leads a burly group of spear armed Warriors through the quicksand. The third quay is in sight!

Mary urges her Soldiers on and reaches the wooden quay first. Her Soldiers unsling their rifles and take aim. But the skies darken and the smell of rain is in the air...

The gods have spoken and a torrential downpour obscures Ujuwa's advance.

[In turns 3 to 5 there is a Downpour, not only does this reduce shooting ranges from L to M, but it also means that any group with a shooting stress token will loose 2 shooting dice instead of 1. ]

Mary's Ruga Ruga rush towards the Warriors.

But before the Ruga Ruga can fire their muskets, the Pygmy Warriors let out a blood curdling scream and hurl their spears. The Ruga Ruga dodge, but are astonished to see their dimunitive foe charging into melee.

[Pygmy Warriors have a nasty Harrassment ability that enables them to hurl their spears either before or after they have moved.]

Unfortunately for Ujuwa, the Ruga Ruga hold their ground and claim the bananas for themselves! But the Ruga Ruga are shaken by the experience and find themselves panicked for the rest of the turn.

Incensed at the loss of their tasty fruit snack, the Pygmy Warriors charge again. This time their spear aim is true and the Ruga Ruga, along with Mary's Kirangozi, fall to the ground.

Seeing that the tide has turned, The Fang Warriors rush through the rain onto the wooden quay and launch themselves onto Mary's Soldiers. Mary pleads for peace. Her strange words cause one of the Warriors to pause.

[One of Mary's special ability is Pacifist. This allows her to roll 1 D6 for each fighting enemy fire. For each success, one enemy figure will not fight. Although if the strategy is employed, the number of fighting figures in Mary's group may not exceed the enemy.]

Despite Mary's objections, a ferocious battle ensues. One of Mary's Soldiers stumbles and the Fang Chieftain raises his spear...

Mary desperately pushes her way through the tangle of bodies and throws her hard won tribal mask towards M'Otowanfa. The Fang Chieftan lowers his spear and takes the offering.

[May's other special ability is Barter. Mary starts the campaign with three barter tokens and can use them to save the lives of her expedition. Mary has used two tokens in earlier adventures and now has none left.]

At the second quay, Mary's Trained Askaris are accompanied by the famed botanist Bergamote. Bergamote hears splashing and turns towards the nearby pool...

[After the melee on the dock, both Mary and Ujuwa are forced to draw stress tokens. Ujuwa draws the animal token...]

"Mon Dieu !" shouts Beramote as the hippo charges towards the quay.

"Into the boat!"

The hippo crashes past the Trained Askari and disappears into the river.

"Phew! That was close" exclaims the botanist as his group clamber out of the boat.

"Arrgggghhhhh!!!" cries a hapless Trained Askari as the hippo emerges from the river and crashes through the group on its way back towards the swamp.

Before they can compose themselves, the Trained Akaris find themselves under fire from spears hurled by the Pygmy Warriors. Stumbling backwards, the Trained Askaris fall and Mary's unfortunate botanist makes a quick run for it. Unfortunately, the Pygmy Warriors chase him down and the botanist disappears beneath the murky waters of The Ogooue...

Sensing that she must act quickly, Mary orders her Soldiers to advance. With rifles lowered the Soldiers charge into Ujuwa's Warriors who fall back under a hail of bullets.

Panicked, Ujuwa calls upon the gods.

[Once two or more Discovery tokens have been found in the campaign, players have additional abilities that they can employ once per adventure. Using Ritual Objects found in the two previous adventures, Ujuwa is able to replace a stress token just drawn with a new one.]

Unfortunately for Ujuwa, it appears the gods may have abandoned him...

[Discarding a Panic stress token, Ujuwa draws another Panic stress token from the bag!]

As the rain starts to subside black smoke appears from the river heralding the arrival of the Bel Azur!

[The Downpour has ended. Shooting ranges are back to L and it is the last turn of the game...]

Mary is in control of two quays. Ujuwa controls just one. The Soldiers are back to firing at full range and will be difficult to dislodge from the dock. To prevent Mary from claiming a Domain of Knowledge, Ujuwa must take control of the canoes at the first quay.

The Pygmy Warriors and Hunters skirt around a swamp pool and waylaid by movement stress tokens, they trudge towards the canoes. Will they get there in time?

The Pygmy Warriors find a reserve of energy and rush towards Mary's Adventurers who guard the canoes. 

[Ujuwa was able to play a Totem card to increase the movement of his Pygmies.]

The Adventurers stand their ground, killing one of the Pygmy Warriors. 

[Adventurers can reduce their own loses by taking additional stress tokens. This they do to remain at full strength.]

But Ujuwa sends in his Archers. The Archers fire their bows and two of the Adventurers fall to the ground. 

The last remaining Adventurer then finds himself swamped by Pygmy Warriors. Ujuwa wins the quay! 

Both columns are now defending one quay each. The points are close, but Mary is ahead. What can Ujuwa do to win the day? Each of the Discovery tokens are worth 4 VP. Ujuwa has three, but one more remains to be found. 

Ujuwa's Warriors fall back from the wooden dock and head into a swamp pool where the Fang Chieftain is lost. 

Oh dear, this discovery token is cursed! 

There are two unexplored pools remaining, but only enough time to search one. 

With the last of their strength, the Hunters step into the large pool. As the quicksand starts to engulf them, the Hunters frantically search for the last discovery token, but find that this one is also cursed!

The steamboat captain sees Mary's frantic waves and heads towards the dock.

With a huge sigh of relief, Mary steps aboard the Bel Azur.

The Bel Azur heads back up river, towards the jungle and unknown perils.


By securing the quays during the game, Mary has gained a score of 41 earning her 15 VP (points are earned at the end of each turn). She also rolls for Ujuwa's lost Chieftain, earning her another 1 vp for a total of 16 VP.

Ujuwa has captured one quay and gained 3 loot. Rolling d6 for these and Mary's lost Botanist and Kirangoza earns him just 2 VP. But he has made 3 discoveries earning him an extra 12 VP for a total of 14 VP.

Mary has won this adventure, but at what cost. Her Kirangoza managed to duck behind the hut and avoided injury, but the botanist was later found injured in the river. Should Mary use one of her medicinal plants to heal him or keep the plants in reserve? She has no barter tokens left, so may well need them for herself as the campaign continues. A decision will have to be made before the next adventure.

As the winner, Mary decides to travel over fast waters but finds that various mishaps befall her men. At the start of the next adventure Ujuwa will be able to force two of Mary's groups to draw a stress token. Mary has now spent 13 months on expedition.

After finding his Fang Chieftain alive and well in the swamp, Ujuwa chooses to travel through thriving jungle where he encounters a hermit who shows him where to find three medicinal plants. Ujuwa has successfully made 12 Rituals.

To date the campaign Accomplishment Points are as follows:

Mary: 19 AP (up 1 from last game)

Ujuwa: 13 AP (up 7 from last game)

Mary has one domain of knowledge, but Ujuwa has none. That may prove telling at the end of the campaign.

Stay tuned for our next Congo adventure - Unknown Species... And Stone Gods...