The film Mountains
of the Moon shows
what the quest
for the Nile was
really like.

Spotlight on Games > Summaries
Source of the Nile
Sequences of Play: Discovery Games version · Avalon Hill revision of the Discovery Games version · Avalon Hill version

One player performs all phases:


  1. Draw Disaster Card (unless in port or Cape Colony)
  2. Check if able to move:
    • Entering a hex costs 1 for an explored hex, 2 for unknown hexes.
    • Movement Allowances:
      • On Foot: 2
      • Mounted: 4
      • Canoe (costs doubled in swamp):
        • 8 rowers/canoe: 4
        • 4-7 rowers/canoe: 3
        • 2-3 rowers/canoe: 2
        • 1 rower/canoe: 1
        • 0 rowers/canoe: drift 1 hex downstream
  3. Move a Hex:
    1. If a new hex, without a guide and not traveling downstream:
      • Roll a die, add in the following modifiers and become lost if final result is zero or less:
        1. Leaving (pick one):
          • Going Upstream: -1
          • Desert: -1
          • Jungle: -3
          • Jungle/Mountain: -5
          • Jungle/Swamp: -5
          • Lake: -1
          • Mountains: -2
          • Swamp: -2
          • Veldt: -1
        2. If guide hired from adjacent hex: +1
        3. If Explorer sick, wounded or starving: -1
      • If Lost:
        • Cannot move any further this turn.
    2. Determine Hex Characteristics:
      1. If no terrain:
        1. Roll a die to determine an adjacent hex. This hex will be the of the same terrain type. If the indicated hex is blank,
          • Roll again. If this hex is also blank,
            • Roll vs. the Terrain Key to get type. Also, if the type was Jungle, Mountain or Swamp,
              • Roll again vs. the Terrain Key. If the result can be combined into Jungle/Swamp or Jungle/Mountain, do so. [Note: players may wish to speed things up by always rolling 4 dice of different colors in a specified order, e.g. red, white, blue and black.]
        2. If river must exit the hex, roll a die to determine direction.
        3. Count the number of Rivers which flow out of the hex and choose the corresponding section below:
          • Multiple:
            • It must be one of Lake, Swamp or Jungle/Swamp -- re-roll until one is obtained.
          • One:
            • If multiple rivers come in, connect them all.
            • If no river comes in, roll die and connect if direction is Lake, Swamp, Jungle/Swamp or unknown (unless it would cause the river to loop), otherwise terminate the river if it has met the minimum length rule, otherwise branch the river.
          • Zero:
            • If multiple rivers come in:
              • If all adjacent hexes explored and none are Lake, Swamp or Jungle/Swamp, the hex is then a great salt lake (i.e. a lake without outlet) instead of the above generated terrain.
              • Otherwise, roll die to determine to which unexplored hex or lake, swamp or swamp/jungle hex the river(s) goes.
            • If no river comes in, roll die:
              • If even, roll die for direction. If direction is unexplored or is lake, swamp, or swamp/jungle, a new river flows from the new hex in that direction. (If in a desert, an oasis is found instead of a river).
        4. If Mountains, determine height as follows: take the product of 3 dice plus 100, all multiplied by 100. It is considered "spectacular" only if 15,000+ feet.
        5. If an extra hex of a Lake, draw Spectacular Discovery card. Note square mileage on sheet. Only last hex of lake counts.
        6. If River present, roll die to determine if Cataract: Jungle or Veldt (1), Desert (1-2), Mountains (2-4).
          • If Cataract, determine height by taking the product of 4 dice. Record for points if over 400 feet.
          • If discovered while canoeing downstream, roll a die, subtract 3 and lose that many canoes.
        7. If Desert with no river, roll a die. An oasis is present if odd. Future explorers must roll an odd number to find it.
        8. If no previous natives and this is the first time you have entered this unpublished hex, roll 2 dice to find them: River or Oasis (7), Veldt, Swamp or Jungle (2-4), Mountains (5-6), in or adjacent to Lake (2-3).
          • Take the product of 3 dice to determine tribe size. If the shortest distance to port is less than one of the highest die rolls, change one roll to the distance.
          • Set initial tribe attitude number to 0 (zero).
      2. Encounter the Natives:
        1. Select Native Policy from 1-5.
        2. Determine tribe's Attitude as follows:
          1. Determine distance from port.
          2. Add the policy number.
          3. If no askaris and policy is 4 or 5, add 2. If also no muskets, add 3 instead.
          4. If one or more of the below apply, add 1:
            • If policy is 3 or 5 and guide hired in adjacent hex.
            • If explorer has negotiated with this tribe before.
            • If the hex has been published.
          5. Add current native attitude.
          6. Roll 3 dice. If result is greater than current sum, tribe is hostile, otherwise they hide and are neutral.
        3. Neutral tribe is available for an optional negotiation:
          1. Roll 2 dice and take the higher one.
          2. Multiply by the number of gifts offered.
          3. If result is less than number of natives, chief is insulted. Go to (5) and if the result there is to Hide, the chief tries poison:
            • Roll one die: 1-2: Explorer dies; 3: Explorer recovers; 4-6: Attempt fails.
          4. Tribes can only give up items equal to the number in the tribe (10 gifts count as 1 item).
        4. Hostile tribes take action as follows:
          1. Multiply number of askaris plus 1 by the distance to port.
          2. Divide result by the policy number. If result is greater than the number of natives, they hide and do nothing. Otherwise, they attack:
            1. Roll a pair of dice and modify the higher die as follows.
              If the expedition is mounted and not in the desert, add 1.
              If the expedition is not mounted and in the desert, subtract 1.
              If the result is less than the policy number, the natives ambush. Otherwise, they charge.
            2. Ambush and Charge are the same except in the latter the player gets first fire. In either case, attacks alternate between players and natives until one side is wiped out or defeated.
            3. In first fire, one native is killed for each askari and armed explorer. Then, multiply this by one die roll. If the result is greater than the number of surviving natives, they are defeated. Proceed to Victory.
            4. Natives attack by dividing the number of warriors by the roll of 1 die (drop fractions). This is the number of askaris killed. Multiply this by 1 die. If greater than the original number of askaris who encountered this tribe, the askaris break and run. If this happens, or if all are killed, proceed to Defeat.
            5. The player counter-attacks by dividing the number of askaris by the roll of 1 die (drop fractions) and adds 1. This is the number of natives killed. Multiply this by 1 die. If greater than the original number of tribe members left, proceed to Victory. Otherwise return to (iv).
          3. Victory:
            1. Roll 1 die.
            2. Subtract die pips from the number of surviving askaris to get number of prisoners taken. Exception, if 6 is rolled, no prisoners. Prisoners can be used as bearers or released. If all of the prisoners are released, add 3 to the tribe's attitude for this explorer.
            3. Add the policy number to this.
            4. Roll 2 dice. If the dice result is greater than the sum, the village is not found.
              • If original die result is 6 and village is found, the askaris loot the village instead (even if explorer objects):
                • Make looting die rolls equal to the original number of natives encountered. Results: 1-4: find this number of food rations; 5: 1 gift; 6: camel (if in desert) or canoe (if on river)
          4. Defeat:
            1. Subtract 1 from the tribe's attitude.
            2. Roll 1 die: 1-Explorer killed (subtract another 1 from the tribe's attitude); 2-Explorer a prisoner; 3-Explorer escapes alone and empty-handed; 4-Explorer escapes with musket and 9 rations; 5-Explorer escapes with musket, 9 rations and one roll on Table A; 6-Explorer escapes with musket, 9 rations and two rolls on Table A.
            3. Table A: 1-Guide; 2-Bearer*; 3-Askari; 4-Camel*; 5-Horse*; 6-Canoe*
            4. If result has an asterisk (*), also roll 1 die to see what is carried: 1-3: 10 rations (food and/or water); 4-5: 10 gifts; 6: 10 muskets.
            5. If a prisoner, each turn roll a die and subtract 3 until escaping or killed (results less than 1 are treated as 1). Doctors and Missionaries may try their talents (see below) on the first full turn of capture. Any change in attitude is added or subtracted from that turn's and subsequent escape rolls.
  4. Hunt:
    1. Roll one die, apply following modifiers and consult Hunting Table below:
      • Terrain:
        • Desert: -4
        • Jungle: +1
        • Lake: -3
        • Swamp: -1
      • River/Oasis: +2
      • Zoologist: +1 for one hunter
    2. Hunting Table: <= 1: none
      2-3: 1/hunter
      4-5: 2/hunter
      6+: 3/hunter
    3. Adjust rations and water.
    4. Consult Recovery Table for Sick members.
    5. Adjust for desertions.
  5. If terrain new: Zoologist: Remain 1 full turn in each new hex to search for an specimen: roll die and make a discovery if the terrain matches: Jungle 2-4; Swamp 2-3; Mountain 4-5; Veldt 2-3; Lake/River/Oasis 1; Desert 6.
    Geologist: Remain 1 full turn in each new hex (except Lake) to search for an specimen: roll die and make a discovery if the terrain matches: Mountain 1-4; Desert 1-3; Veldt 1-2; Jungle/Mountain 1-2; Jungle 1; Swamp 1; River 6.
    If search fails: may try again next turn.
    Items: If successful, item is worth 1 VP and weighs 1 item (but weightless if in canoes).
  6. If new friendly tribe encountered: Missionary: Must spend next turn evangelizing the new tribe by rolling a die: 1-Natives jeer and taunt, no effect; 2-Natives ignore him, attitude +1 and 1 VP; 3-Natives listen respectfully, attitude +2 and 2 VP; 4-Natives applaud, attitude +3 and 2 VP, but jealous chief and witch doctor each try to poison him; 5-Witch doctor asks to be baptized, attitude +4 and 4 VP, but chief tries to poison him; 6-Chief asks to be baptized, attitude +5 and 5 VP.
    Doctor: Must spend next turn treating the new tribe by rolling 1 die: 1-Doctor contracts a strange disease and dies; 2-Doctor become sick; 3-Doctor fails to halt epidemic, attitude -1 and chief tries to poison him; 4-Doctor successfully treats minor cases (no other effect); 5-Doctor successfully treats minor cases, attitude +1 and 1 vp, but witch doctor tries to poison him; 6-Doctor successfully treats several major cases, attitude +2 and 2 VP, but witch doctor tries twice to poison him;

Easily Missed Rules:
Each time people die in disaster, roll dice. On a "12", explorer dies instead. If named person is not present, happens on "11" or "12".
Once an explorer has lost the respect of the askaris by acting as a bearer, can only regain it by killing an animal or defeating natives.
Recovered caches have disappeared on a roll of "1".
Unowned caches can only be found if hex is published.
Each time trading with natives, roll die. On a "1", explorer dies, poisoned by a witch doctor.
Missionaries and doctors must release captives and may not loot.
Rations from natives are actually not perishable.
Animals may be shot to provide 10 rations.
The only specialties are Evangelism, Medicine, Zoology, and Geology. Each explorer start with any number (0-4) of these specialties. Specialties may not be "forgotten".
  1. If launching new expedition:
    1. Spend turn outfitting. (Without a free ticket, transport cost is $500.)
    2. The next turn starts with the destination port in Africa.
  2. If not launching a new expedition:
    1. Discard all free tickets.
    2. Discard donations in excess of 5. (All donations are public.)
    3. Draw a donation.
    4. Publish any hexes you wish according to this schedule:
      TerrainVP TerrainVP TerrainVP NativesVP
      Desert1 Jungle2 River+1 Natives+1
      Veldt1 Mountain2 Oasis+2 Defeat the Natives+1
      Lake1 Swamp2
    5. Draw a donation for every 4 victory points published.

Epic Transits:


Thu Feb 28 11:13:53 PST 2002
Thanks for the extensive assistance of Gordon Hua.