Congo – Battle Report and First Thoughts
Had our first game of Congo last night – 70 points each, a Column from the African Kingdoms squared off against a White Men incursion into their favourite hunting ground.
A home grown scenario, based on the savannah, to be fought over 6 rounds, the victory conditions involved the capture of a small hill near a watering hole in the centre of the table, as well as instilling fear (ie Terror tokens) in the opposition and driving them off. Both columns started the first round Confused, and each round a D10 roll was made for a Downpour, where a failure meant the weather changed (ie. if its not Downpouring already then a Downpour starts, but if it is Downpouring then it stops).
First group from each Column was deployed between M and L of opposite long table edges, rest of each column then deployed alternately within S of the same table edge as their column’s first group.
I was slightly confused about how the Terror action was applied, until I checked the Forum, and then didn’t really like the idea of an abstract ‘affects any unit’. So instead, we played Terror as a kind of ‘intimidation’, a bit like a shooting attack. A unit can be chosen to attempt a Terror Action and then rolls against their Bravery – the assumption being that the braver they are then possibly the scarier they are – each success lets them apply a Terror hit to any opposing unit within M that they have line of sight to. Affected target units then make a Bravery test to resist, rolling an additional dice for each Terror token they already have – each failure requires them to draw another Stress token.
A fun game overall, with a resounding victory for the White Men, wiping out the African Kingdoms column by the 6th round.
There is a good selection of tactical choices for players to make, the obvious being what action cards to use each round, which groups to activate for actions and when to use Totem cards.
What also seems crucial is when to take Stress tokens to boost a Cover Save. Its an interesting, fun and relatively unique mechanic. At the start of our game, because it was all new, players probably did not take enough advantage of this and the African Kingdoms undoubtedly suffered the worse from repeated Rifle fire, especially from a group of soldiers that seemed to never achieve less than 4 hits – even in a Downpour with reduced range. This was probably exacerbated by the fact that initially, groups seemed to avoid entering dangerous terrain areas – so failed to increase their basic Cover Save from a D6 for being in Open Ground.
I would also say that the White Men Expedition seemed like a much more straightforward column to play – shoot, shoot and shoot some more whenever you get the chance.
The African Kingdoms seemed trickier, though potentially more interesting – despite several bow armed groups, especially the usefully Tiny and potentially hidden pygmy archers, they seemed to favour a need to get up close and personal. And you have to try and make best use of your Witch Doctor if you have one, as they can give a very nice advantage each round – the column did include one, although with the player new to the game, they really only started to get to grips with him in later rounds, just before his group was remorselessly gunned down.
Having said that, the luck of the dice was definitely not with the African Kingdoms. Whilst the White Men soldiers’ shooting couldn’t seem to miss, the African Kingdoms largely couldn’t seem to save. At one point, a group of Hunters also containing the Witch Doctor took 4 hits and in a desperate attempt to save him, the player took 4 Stress tokens to bump his Cover Save up – rolling 4 x D8 as well as 4 x D6, he failed to roll a single success and the entire group was wiped out in a hail of lead.
The pygmy archers were also the only ones to run afoul of the dangerous terrain – early on they struck it lucky, finding some dead Askaris with loaded muskets in the long grass, giving them an extra shoot action; but their luck soon turned as in a later turn, panic and confusion took hold in the long grass and the 2 groups of pygmy archers mistakenly assailed each other with bow fire.
Despite the various elements of the game that players need to consider, it moves along at a good pace and all the concepts make sense and are easily applied; (perhaps with the exception of Terror – although our alternate ‘intimidation’ type rules seemed to work well enough and make better narrative sense, at least to my mind),
For a 70 point game I wasn’t sure that a 6’ x 4’ table didn’t seem a bit big. 4’ x 4’ might have condensed the action a bit, (as well as the terrain – although we used the same amount of both dangerous and blocking terrain as suggested in the provided scenarios).
I’m looking forward to giving it another go though, possibly testing out my Zanzibaris and seeing how they fair against the African Kingdoms.
Report by Mark Booth