Congo: The King of the Apes

I had a go at scenario 2 (the King of the Apes) at the club with one of our younger members and again (solo) at home.  The advantage of Congo lies in its scenarios.  With the forces duking it out on open terrain those with the best guns are going to be at an advantage.  By forcing the columns to do something else than a straight punch up the odds are evened out.

Congo comes with all the cardboard counters and templates that you need but I bought some more from Blotz who do a range of plastic and MDF tokens and gaming aids together with MDF buidings.


Their tokens come in various colours but I fancied the see through green would be a good combination of clarity and subtlety.  I took this photo with the flash off as with it on they show up with a supernatural glare.


The rulers are in Congo sizes which just happen to differ from the Saga sizes.  I bought some standard rules to cover the missing 6″ ruler needed for Saga.


I kept to the regular cards but did sleeve them.  Each side has to choose 3 out of 7 manouevre cards each turn and can then play them in any order.  The cards are marked for permissable actions and initiative with higher numbered cards being played first.  Some thought has been given to what is on each card so the strong rally or terror card will usually force a player to go last.  Just moving but not being allowed to charge into combat will take precedance over the cards that allow less movement but the ability to do something else at the same time and also allow moving into close combat.  The chance or totem cards have a bigger effect on the game generally allowing additional extra actions, dice or range bonuses.  If the white men do not get units within Kong’s layer (and risk being attacked by him) the forest tribes draw a bonus totem card each turn.

Here is the starting situation with Kong in the middle.  He cannot move further than ‘M’ from the monument.  The 4 skulls on sticks highlight this area and give a bonus totem card to the white men for each one captured.


The 2 sides are going to come in from opposite corners.  The white man’s expedition had 90 points and needed to capture Kong.  Kong has 8 life points but the final point must be removed in hand to hand to count as a capture.  In our club game the hunters poured lead into Kong to weaken him then easily finished him off.  The forest tribes had spent too much effort on knocking lumps off the hunters intead of trying to protect Kong.  The key to doing this is to try and move him out of the line of fire and to get native troops in the way of the hunter’s guns.  All the trees are blocking and dangerous terrain.

The white men had a unit of adventurers, one of trained askaris, 3 of regular askaris, one of bowmen and one of ruga ruga led by an explorer aided by a reporter. In this playthrough I forgot that the explorers started exhausted so had a 2/3 chance of each unit beginning with a stress token and 1/6 chance of being a man down.

The forest tribes had only 70 points so took 2 units of warriors (the models with some sort of hat), 2 of young warriors (bareheaded), 1 of  bundukis (with muskets), 1 of scouts (without shields).  The tribes also had a chieftain, war drum and sacred warrior.  The bundukis may have been a poor choice as it was the only forest unit with firearms and this faction are better off charging into combat compared to throwing spears or shooting their muskets.

The white men bring in trained (in kahki) and ordinary askari (in robes) at the SE board edge.  The forest tribes quickly bring up warriors and bunduki to slow them dowm.


In the NW the adventurers lead the way.  The forect tribes will be finding it hard to keep Kong out of the line of fire.


Warriors aggressivly bottle up the trained askari.  In retrospect they should have finished off the weakened hunter units.


Askari get into the dense trees (minus 1 askari attacked by a leopard) and get the first hit on Kong.


The explorer moves past the warrior unit.  These units are pretty close.  We must assume that all the board is desnse jungle and that it is relatively easy to sneak past your enemy.  The hunters have no direct gain in killing natives.  They need to concentrate on Kong.


Back with the adventurers at the NW corner the white man’s units are racking up stress.  Two examples here are hand icons which prevent the unit acting again this turn unlesss they pass a rally action.


A close up of the askari in the tall trees.  For them the hit counter means that they must reload before shooting again.  For Kong it is his wounds taken.


The last 2 askari in the centre here are in a bad way but the ruga ruga  (white kilts) have come up to take the pressure off.  The bowmen in the woods are keeping a low profile (I forgot about them for 2 turns).


The trained askari sneak past the warriors, the bunduki ahead of them are unloaded.


The big picture, Kong has to stay away from hunters to the NW and SE.  The forest tribes are doing their best to block line of sight to Kong.


The explorers get 2 more hits on Kong before the forest tribes can shield him again.


The expedition is moving in for the capture but is running out of time.


The archers have wiped out a unit of forest warriors.  Not knocking out the sole askari on the left cost the forest tribes the game.


The scouts (at left, no shields) move in on the askari.


A close up of some of the askari


The final curtain.  Kong is alive but has 3 wounds.  An explorer win.  If the lone askari in the NW with 2 fatigue had been taken down this would have been a draw.


This all took about 1 1/2 hours including getting the terrain out and units set up.  As everything was still good to go I played it all through again.  The white man’s expedition never really got going and suffered badly in hand to hand combat resulting in a win for the forest tribe column.

Here are some useful links for background inspiration.  A 3 part article originally published on the Wargames Foundry site and now archived gives some background detail to the setting and a campaign that could be adapted to Congo.  Here are parts background, rules and the campaign map.  The authorised biography of Tippoo Tib (published 1907), trader, slaver, plantation owner.  Henry Morton Stanley gets a bad press these days but the guy could write: A good start would be How he found Livingstone,together with the rescue of Emin Pasha and volume 2 of the rescue.  It could be argued that Livingstone did not need to be found not did Emin Pasha require rescuing.  Certainly Emin’s troops had gone native and had a nice little earner going on that would not fit in well with returning to the Sudan.


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