Last week we received a copy of Congo, the new game from Studio Tomahawk. The book is hardback and full colour throughout, with excellent pictures to inspire the gamer. It came with a small set of special cards and markers.
The game at first glance seems very simple, but at the same time has some very clever ideas. You select, in advance, three from a set of seven action cards which determine what your troops will do this turn. Each card has an initiative number, determining which goes first, so it’s a game of working out what you want to do and what your opponent’s reaction is likely to be. There is also a unique ‘terror’ attack, where you try to instill fear in your opponent and inflict morale damage to them.
As one of our club members ‘Unncy Paul’ would say we “Played it all wrong!” on the first outing - in other words: we made a few minor errors. By the second outing, I’d actually had read the book and felt I knew pretty much what I was doing. The morale system is very clever: in response to certain unsettling situations, you draw a token which can affect your shooting, fighting, movement or make you susceptible to terror attacks. This reminded me very much of the old Hollywood Tarzan movies, where men would slow down or lose their nerve to the horror of the jungle.
There are four factions: White Explorers, Zanzibar Slavers, Forest Tribes and African Kingdoms - enough to get your teeth into. The sides look pretty balanced, but we need to play some more games. Dice used are D6, D8 and D10, reflecting the different levels of experience.
Both times the games were fast and fun. I thought the second game was going to be a slaughter, as the White Men had taken all rifles, however a random event (torrential downpour) meant their guns were all wet and needed cleaning before they could fire! They ended up losing. So far, the natives have kicked ‘White Man’ butt, however I expect this is due to tactics - don’t let ’em natives get close! We’ll also have to play some native versus native games. All in all, we really enjoyed Congo and I expect it’ll be one we play again and again. There’s even serious talk of buying more miniatures for new factions. It tastes like more, but we’ll reserve judgment till we’ve had a few more games under our belt.