Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Bungle in the Jungle: A disastrous game of CONGO

Another great game of CONGO.  Well, great for the players, more of a bloody debacle for our intrepid adventurers.  Pete, Albert, and Jake joined me for this game, with Pete and Albert bringing their German and Russian-themed explorers' expeditions, Jake borrowing my Forest Tribes, and me fielding my peaceful Zanzibari traders.

We adapted the "Encounters in Hostile Lands" adventure from the Throne of Thunder expansion.  This scenario is written for two players, who start in opposite corners, separated by a band of jungle running diagonally across the board.  I re-arranged the layout to make sense with four players, replacing the single long diagonal with a cross-shaped arrangement of terrain.  The primary goal is to get your lead character off of the opposite corner of the board.  Secondary objectives are picking up valuable artifacts in the jungle, and defeating enemy characters.  

Complicating matters, every time a unit enters the dense terrain, a fearsome tribe of cannibals launches a barrage of poison darts at that unit, and every other unit with Short distance.  This proved devastating, and the Cannibals eliminated more figures than everyone else combined.

Early in the game.  Jake's Forest Tribesmen are top-left.  Tippu Tib's Zanzibaris are at the bottom.  Hauptman Atackkopf's shamefully still unpainted Germans are to the right.  The Mad Russian adventurer Sazinov is somewhere beyond the central mass of jungle.

Even the raucous Ruga Ruga are silent as the make their way into the daunting depths of the jungle.

The scenario naturally drew all four players to the center of the table.  Tippu Tib faces off with Russian-employed askaris, while the Forest Tribe picks up green loot counter, which represents some of the valuable artifacts.  Tippu Tib never made it past this point, and his group was slowly picked off by the poison darts, before he and a last bodyguard were overwhelmed by Forest Tribe spearmen.

In fact, not a single character survived...and most were killed by the cannibals!

An Elephant showed up midway through the game, but was content to linger outside the jungle.  (We forgot to roll for its random movement after the first round.)

The last act. A pair of Russian Askaris somehow made it out of the jungle with two loot tokens they had picked up by vanquishing Germans and Forest Tribesmen.  But even as they were about to make good their escape, they were cut down by a hail of poison darts.  The last surviving Zanzibaris, a trio of Baluchi matchlock men, swooped in and picked up the artifacts.  They were charged by a unit of spearmen, but amazing defeated the spears, despite their poor melee skills.  The spearmen dropped a third treasure before retreating (they can be seen ignominiously cowering near the great jungle bole).

Incredibly, it appeared I was going to net 12 victory points due to this bit of luck.  But then, Jake insanely charged the Baluchis with a single tribal musketman.  Neither side scored any hits, but in CONGO, the defender retreats after a tie, leaving any loot behind...And so the Baluchis shamefully fled, leaving the triumphant Bunduki holding three treasure tokens!  This was another example of the surprise endings that CONGO so often serves up.

Jake won with 24 points (16 from holding all four treasure tokens, and another 8 from having slain Tippu Tib and Pete's Kirangozi guide).  I can't remember if Albert or Pete had any points, but I know I had zilch!  

The real winners were definitely the cannibals...

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