I wasn't aware of Chris Peers' rules that were written to accompany the range, but the figures were so cool, I actually bought a few dozen askari to use in my Warhammer Empire army!! (Weird, I know.). But being focused on other games, I left it at that.
Years later, I traded those figures away, along with the rest of my Warhammer stuff. But I never forgot about the Darkest Africa range, which in my opinion may be Mr.Copplestone's opus magnum (which is saying something).
Fast-forward to last year, and Studio Tomahawk came out with Congo, a skirmish game about the 19th century exploration of Africa. Think Henry Morton Stanley, saying, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
Congo has a pretty low-figure count, 25 to 50 figures being typical. And Studio Tomahawk's rules are right up my alley. Fast, simple, but tactically interesting. So I jumped in, and picked up some of those Darkest Africa figures I'd admired for so long.
After a few months of painting figures and terrain, I met up with Adam and Pete for a first couple games. I brought my newly painted Zanzibari column, and Adam had his Explorer column. Pete provided a willingness to learn new rules, and a capacity for snarky comments.
First up was the Last Queen of Aksum. In this Adventure, an Explorer Column has recovered an ancient artifact. While marching back to the cost, its encampment is attacked by Zanzibaris, eager to seize the treasure for themselves.
The Explorers designate one group as carrying the treasure, and their objective is to get it off-board. The Zanzibaris don't know which group is carrying, but can learn via clues during the game.
My Ruga-Ruga moved in from the left, while Tippu-Tib leads Baluchi musketmen from the south.
But they were then decimated by accurate shooting from the Baluchis' jezzails.
At some point, I worked out that the Explorers had entrusted the treasure to their loyal Kirangozi (in the group at the left, with a red Panic token). So the Baluchis hoofed it back to the left, to intercept the treasure.
But the Baluchis, with thier slower-firing jezzails and swords & shields, were no match for for three groups of askaris with modern rifles. They were soon demoralized, routing off the board.
The Explorers were inches away from victory...when a sleeping lion woke up, and attacked the Kiranzogi!
Technically the Zanzibaris won at this point. But I suspect the Ruga-Ruga then legged it, and kept the treasure for themselves.