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Subject: Congo in the Caribbean - a review after one game rss

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Steve Burt
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Having read the ‘Congo’ rules I was keen to try them, but of course I don’t have any Darkest Africa figures (apart from a pack of Foundry explorers bought for reasons which now escape me)

But then I thought:
Steamy jungles. Greedy foreigners in search of loot and slaves. Cannibal natives. Hey, that’s the West Indies in the 18th century.
So instead of White Men expeditions we have a Naval landing party, and instead of Zanzibaris we have Pirates, and of course the local Carib Indians helping both sides.

The two columns were:
Naval Landing Party (White Men expeditions)
Explorer, Retired (Naval) Officer
4 Marines (soldiers)
4 Sailors (trained askaris)
5 Armed Settlers (askaris)
5 Young Warriors (carib indians)
6 Archers (carib indians)

Pirates (Zanzibaris)
Emir, Brute (a Foundry chap holding a severed head)
5 Pirates with muskets (Zanzibaris)
5 Pirates with muskets (Zanzibaris)
5 Fierce Pirates with Cutlasses, belaying pins, etc (Baluchis)
5 Young Warriors (Carib Indians)
3 Scouts

We played scenario 1 - the last Queen of Aksoum, so the naval party started in camp, with the Pirates blocking their route off table (apart from one group which was deployed behind them to sack the camp). The fierce pirates started off table, ready to intervene at the right spot.
Exhaustion took its toll early on (two groups had panic tokens, and a couple took casualties), then the firing started as the pirates blasted away from cover. The Naval party responded, then sent in some of their Indian allies to flush the pirates out, destroying one group which was led by the Brute, but not before he had decapitated a couple of men.
The party of warriors who were supposed to sack the camp were delayed first by a panic caused by exhaustion, then by the appearance of a puma near them (no lions in the new world!). Meanwhile, the soldiers, led by the explorer, who was carrying the mask, had started a desperate rush toward the table edge. The retired office went down in a hail of cutlasses fighting the fierce pirates, but the resulting stress on them reduced their effect. The explorer's group was whittled down first by musket fire, then by an attack from warriors allied to the pirates; they killed the explorer and ran off with the crown! A chase ensued, but the triumphant pirates finished with the treasure (along with loot picked up from exploring).
A great game really enjoyed it, and you certainly don't need Darkest Africa figures to use these rules; they are very thematic for pirates!

The cards are interesting and quite unlike any other system I've used.
You have 7 cards from which you pick 3 every turn. Then you and your opponent each pick a card at a time. Each card lets you do several things, but their number also determines who goes first.
You get to pick what you will do in a turn (shoot, move, rally, inflict terror), but picking which card to play when is not always so simple.
The Totem cards add an extra layer because they give you extra actions and movement and extra dice. The extra dice are probably best used for defence as it's pretty much the only way to boost it.

The encounters are fun and very thematic and you can often get useful extra VPs that way. Or not if you encounter a swarm of angry hornets.

A very good system

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Steve Burt
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An update after a second game (also set in the Caribbean).
We played the 'Jewel of Africa' scenario, with the pirates absconding with the Governor's daughter, being pursued by a Naval landing party.
Great fun again and we all understood the game mechanisms a bit better, too. There's quite a lot of thought needed at times, both in the choice of cards, and in which card to play when.
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Steve Burt
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And another update after a third game, again using pirates.
This time we played the 'Escalation along the Nzairi' scenario where both sides try to retrieve treasure from a wide river infested with crocodiles and get it off the far side of the table.
Another great game, lots of interesting decisions, and the whole thing only takes a couple of hours.
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