Monday, 5 February 2018

Big Congo - a bit of an experiment

A few weeks ago, we were having a conversation at the club about how Congo could be adapted for larger games and games in different periods and locations. There were two different periods that we thought would work pretty well and they were The Wild West and Mexico during the age of the Conquistadores. I think that we have a bit more thinking to be done on these, but I am sure that the game mechanisms would translate pretty well.

The other thing we discussed was whether we could use the rules for larger games with more players and more figures. This post is about this, and some specific rules ideas that I wrote up for a specific experimental scenario. Here is what I wrote;

Big Congo special rules

This scenario has a small European force defending a village, kraal, trading post or similar built-up area. This is surrounded by a compound contained within a mixture of light and hard cover, plus buildings. One building/open area must be designated as a Dressing Station (see below).

Light cover could be hedges or light fences. Hard cover could be walls, sandbag defences or substantial fencing. This force is facing an attack from a local native ruler with a grudge against the Europeans. Perhaps he has been deprived of his income from slavery or maybe his dispute is over grazing rights, proselytising missionaries or some other insult to his dignity. Unable to resolve this issue via peaceful means he has assembled a force of tribal warriors, some equipped with firearms and mercenary fighters.

The game should be played on a 6 x 4 table..

The territory could be open savannah or a jungle setting. Regarding forces, it is pretty much what is available, but there really needs to be a much larger native forces attacking a smaller, but better-armed European one.

Composition of forces


The defenders can choose from the White Expeditions list and could be something like;:

1 x Explorer
1 x Retired Officer
3 x Soldiers
1 x Adventurers
1 x Trained Askaris
1 x Askaris
1 x Ruga Ruga
1 x Loyal Warriors (see Forest Tribes army list for stats)
Any number of civilians, bearers etc.

Of course, if there is a different range of figures available, more groups could be included.

The defenders may contain 1 x Missionary. This character will add +1D6 to all dice rolls for units within a radius of M distance. The missionary is taken from the total number of available civilians. The presence of the Missionary will allow any non-European defending unit targeted by a Ritual to ignore the result if it can successfully roll against its Bravery. Any unit within M distance may also re-roll a failed Terror test. The Missionary does not need to be attached to a specific unit. The Missionary has stats of Shooting (0) Combat (6) Bravery (8).

Characters may leave a unit and join another at any time as part of normal movement.

Dressing station

All defender casualties are placed in the dressing station. In the round after they have entered the station roll 1D6. If the roll is a success, the figure is only lightly wounded and may return to its unit. Figures cannot do anything except move (at distance M) until they are back with their unit. If the roll is 1, the figure is dead and is removed. Figures can be rolled for again at the start of each round. There are up to two civilians in the Dressing Station, acting as doctors or nurses. Each doctor figure can roll a maximum of 3D6 per round.

The defenders have a number of civilians amongst their numbers. Up to two civilians (not bearers) may be placed in the Dressing Station as medics. One civilian may act as a Morale Booster. This figure is an Inspirational Person. Any unit to which the Inspirational Person is attached may re-roll all dices scores of 1. The Inspirational Person has stats of Shooting (0) Combat (6) Bravery (10).

Up to four civilians (not bearers) may be armed. They have the same stats as Scouts (i.e. D6 for all characteristics).

Any other civilians present are simply unarmed and with no specific role. This includes any bearers on the table.

Native Attackers

The Native forces will be led by a Native Warlord (King). Up to two other characters may be taken. If available a War Horn may also be taken. The War Horn may only be attached to a unit armed with assegais.

Note: if a Witchdoctor is taken, he cannot influence any European units or characters, only other African ones.

Characters may leave a unit and join another at any time as part of normal movement, apart from the King, who must remain with his Bodyguard at all times. The size of the Native force really depends on what is available. Units in BOLD are obligatory. For example;

1 x King
1 x Bodyguards
1 x War Horn
2 x characters of choice
2 x Bundukis
1 x Fanatical Warriors
0-2 x Ruga Ruga
0-2 x Married Warriors
0-3 x Warriors
0-5 units of Young Warriors
0-2 x Pygmy Archers
0-2 x Pygmy Warriors

Fanatical Warriors and Married Warriors may make a Charge move (distance L) if they pass a Bravery dice test.

Native reinforcements

Each native casualty is removed until a complete unit has been destroyed. This unit can then rejoin the battle on the following round from the edge of the table as a unit of reinforcements. Reinforcements should move at double speed until they are within the zone of battle. Native reinforcements will be the same type of unit as the original one being replaced.


Pygmies will be ordinary units of natives and count as being in light cover when being fired upon. They make their saving throws using 1D6 and add 1 pip to their dice scores. Pygmy archers do not have poison arrows in this scenario. Pygmies count as being unseen until they are within 1 x L +1 x M distance from a defending unit.

Defensive cover

Defenders count as being in light or hard cover, unless clearly in the open. Saving rolls from Shooting are made on 1D8 for light cover and 1D10 for hard cover. In Melee, the defenders will roll 1 extra Combat dice if in light cover and 2 extra Combat dice in hard cover.

Long range shooting

All troops (defenders and natives) equipped with rifles (not muskets) may opt to shoot at Long Range. Each dice rolled suffers a -1 penalty for this.

So, that was the starting point for the game.

As things turned out, the European defenders had;

1 x Explorer
1 x Retired Officer
1 x Kirangozi
1 x Missionary
1 x Inspirational Person
2 x Medical Staff
4 x Soldiers
1 x Adventurers
2 x Trained Askaris
2 x Askaris
2 x Ruga Ruga
1 x Loyal Warriors (see Forest Tribes army list for stats)
2 x Bearers(who were just there as scenery really)

The Attacking side was huge. There were three players, each with seven or eight units and a couple of characters apiece, plus the King and his Bodyguards.

We played the battle out in a fairly busy forested region. I took the European side and the African tribes were played by Nick, Andy and Craig. Here is the table before the game started.

The woman in blue is the Inspirational Person and my Missionary is the younger woman in the green skirt on the right edge of the picture.


Here are the Africans. Lots and lots of troops.

Here is the defending force from the other end of the compound.

The defenders take up firing positions and await the onslaught.

What we agreed to do was this. Each player on the African side would have two Action cards per turn and could draw one Totem card per turn. As the Defender, I was allowed one Totem card per turn and four Action cards. The Turn would be as follows;
a) All four players choose an action card and play them. These are resolved accordingly.
b) the Defender then plays one action card in turn against each Attacker.
It took a while to get everyone onto place, but once this happened, the game proceeded pretty quickly.

As the game played out, it became apparent that the sheer weight of numbers would eventually favour the attackers and it was only a matter of time before the defences were breached and inevitably the defenders began to come off worse in hand-to-hand combat. As casualties mounted in the dressing station, so did the number of dead. Clearly this station was a pretty insanitary place and the medical staff were not qualified enough to do much to patch up their casualties.

In the end, the clock defeated us, but as things stood at the end of the game, it seemed obvious that the Africans would triumph. There were simply too few troops to defend the outer compound and the end would undoubtedly be grisly for all concerned.
We agreed that the experiment was relatively successful, but that there probably needed to be a number of adjustments to the special rules. A couple that seem to make sense are;
  • Increasing rifle range to L+M as standard.
  • Allowing two rounds of rifle fire per shooting action inside Range L (but with a success score of 6 required for both shots).
  • Not giving the defenders any extra combat dice when fighting behind cover but possibly giving them a saving throw  for any casualties caused.
Anyway, definitely an interesting experiment.

No comments:

Post a Comment