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Subject: MEMOIR '44: a review (#009) rss

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The review "in short"

1. - Components:
2. - Graphics:
3. - Theme:
4. - Rulebook:
5. - Gameflow:
6. - Tactics:
7. - Replayability:
8. - Price:
9. - Expansions:
10. - Worth to own?

- FINAL RATING:
_____

The review "in long"

1. Components:
Disclaimer: in this review I refer to the first edition. Components are pretty good, map wide and sturdy, nice minis (better if you paint them), resistant tiles. The only issue is with the cards, a bit fragile (better if you sleeve them).

2. Graphics:
M44 belongs to C&C system and is a "wargame", so here we have a green board with three sections and hexagons. So nothing special, but in order to judge the graphic you need to set up the game and lay down
tiles and minis. Then you'll find out a very nice "3D" effect. Overall, everything is clear, functional and intuitive, tiles have no symbols but after a couple of games you'll remember all the effects and modifiers.

3. Theme:
Bought many years ago, M44 was my first (light) WWII themed game. C&C system has been used in different historical scenarios (ancient, napoleonic, american civil war, fantasy...). Thanks to graphics and components you have the feeling of battle, but I can say that, because of the mechanics I think the C&C system offers its best with the ancient era (i.e. in M44 sometime you lack the right cards and can do nothing in your turn, beside being quite annoying, this doesn't help with the theme...).

4. Rulebook:
Nothing to say: clear, well organized, with lot of examples. Moreover, it comes with a bunch of scenarios and on M44 website you can find hundreds.

5. Gameflow:
Nice and simple gameflow, at your turn you play one of your cards and activate one sector, move your units and battle. Mechanics are really easy and basic but the general feeling is great. Ok, if you're searching a real simulation or you're a grognard look elesewhere since this is a very light wargame, maybe it's not even a wargame...

6. Tactics:
Because the use of cards and dice, luck has a big influence and strategy is not a viable option, instead at your turn you try to make the best move. Under this light M44 is a tactical "wargame". So take it for what it is: a fun, short and pleasant game.

7. Replayability:
M44 offers a huge replayability. Thanks to the landscape tiles the board changes every game and, ideally, you can set up infinite games.

8. Price:
Price tag is around 50,00 euro. Considering all the components you find into the box, I think it's fair.

9. Expansions:
M44 comes with a lot of expansions, I own everything but the bag and the equipment pack. I think that some of them are good (i.e. campaign books and air pack) cause add a new flavour to the game, others are good but not necessary (i.e. army packs, winter wars) they just add a nice visual touch, others completely useless (Operation Overlord, overlord maps and above all the bag). Bag apart (for me it's not even an expansion) the main flaw is that the expansions dont follow a clear plan, sometime to play an expansion you need another one (not to mention that if you wanna play overlord you need two sets of everything). On the other hand, I believe that too many expansions can discourage newbies to join M44 System since there's the risk to feel overwhelmed by the tons of stuff you can acquire. To be honest, if I could go back I would only buy the base "vanilla" M44.
_____

- FINAL RATING:
All in all M44 System is 3 stars while "vanilla" M44 is a full 4 stars.

For more reviews check out [geeklist=167078]My # Reviews[/geeklist]
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Doug Click
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I like the format for the review.
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Phil McDonald
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Hmmmm, good format for the review, but dubious conclusion.

You have the Op Overlord expansion as useless whereas in actual fact it is the expansion that really makes the game worth playing. The same applies to the battlemaps, though I agree about the rucksack.

Vanilla M44 is 2 stars, Overlord format M44 is a solid 4 stars.
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Jesse Rasmussen
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philmcd wrote:
Hmmmm, good format for the review, but dubious conclusion.


I have to agree completely with this...good format but dubious conclusion. I would have to very strongly disagree about your analysis of the strategy: "Because the use of cards and dice, luck has a big influence and strategy is not a viable option"

This is an opinion I've heard before and I would argue that every time this seems to be a problem for someone, they have missed the point to some degree. Strategy is not that you can do everything you want on a turn or that your plans will work perfectly because the dice always hit (or hit more often). Strategy is knowing how to exact plans by building up a good hand and increasing the odds of hitting, not just making a move one turn at a time. Memoir '44 is full of these opportunities!!

Saying that strategy is not a viable option is absolutely not true, in my opinion.

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Bob Gibson
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Also agree with the two previous comments. There are expansions that provide something for everyone - whether you prefer the Pacific Theater, Eastern Front, etc. Although very expensive, if purchasing all of the expansions, they are all good enhancements to the base game.

What is almost non-existent in your review is the significance of Overlord, and how, in some places, when someone suggests setting up Memoir, what they really mean is that it's time to play an Overlord scenario! For example, we ONLY play Overlord and have adopted Overlord as the sole means in which to play Memoir '44. I would also suggest that the tactical star rating would also increase along with playing Overlord to that of using just one board.
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Rick Rodrick
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My conclusion is that because of the difficulties with communication (drawing cards) and the vagaries of warfare (the dice you roll) you MUST be strategic in this game. If you just play tactically you will have much more problems with cards and rolls.

I don't know about others but I had the realization that cards and dice weren't "just luck" and my appreciation for the game kicked up a significnat notch. That is not to say there won't be times when you "do everything right" and still lose with poor rolls. Even great generals with good plans have lost battles.

I haven't had the opportunity to play very many overlord or breakthrough scenarios but from my limited experience I can understand the fervor of the above posters.
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Matthew Cordeiro
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philmcd wrote:
You have the Op Overlord expansion as useless whereas in actual fact it is the expansion that really makes the game worth playing.

Okay, that's not an actual fact; it's an opinion, albeit one that's in the majority.

The OP's opinion may be in the minority, but he's entitled to his own opinion in his own review. To prove that he's not the only crazy one out there, I also prefer non-Overlord M'44. I like that the regular version is simple and fast. To me, Overlord is just the same game with a bigger board, more pieces, and a longer playing time. I can see why many people love it. However, it's not a valuable expansion for me either.
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Phil McDonald
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cordeiro wrote:
philmcd wrote:
You have the Op Overlord expansion as useless whereas in actual fact it is the expansion that really makes the game worth playing.

Okay, that's not an actual fact; it's an opinion, albeit one that's in the majority.

The OP's opinion may be in the minority, but he's entitled to his own opinion in his own review. To prove that he's not the only crazy one out there, I also prefer non-Overlord M'44. I like that the regular version is simple and fast. To me, Overlord is just the same game with a bigger board, more pieces, and a longer playing time. I can see why many people love it. However, it's not a valuable expansion for me either.


Exactly so, and I gave my opinion, as I too am entitled to do.

You, however, clearly do not understand Overlord format or you would know that it has a different ruleset which dramatically improves the way the game plays and gives more tactical choices. It is most certainly NOT just what you describe
 
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Matthew Cordeiro
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philmcd wrote:
cordeiro wrote:
philmcd wrote:
You have the Op Overlord expansion as useless whereas in actual fact it is the expansion that really makes the game worth playing.

Okay, that's not an actual fact; it's an opinion, albeit one that's in the majority.

The OP's opinion may be in the minority, but he's entitled to his own opinion in his own review. To prove that he's not the only crazy one out there, I also prefer non-Overlord M'44. I like that the regular version is simple and fast. To me, Overlord is just the same game with a bigger board, more pieces, and a longer playing time. I can see why many people love it. However, it's not a valuable expansion for me either.


Exactly so, and I gave my opinion, as I too am entitled to do.

You, however, clearly do not understand Overlord format or you would know that it has a different ruleset which dramatically improves the way the game plays and gives more tactical choices. It is most certainly NOT just what you describe

I understand the rules that are unique to Overlord and the ramifications they have on gameplay. I'm still content with the regular-sized board. I appreciate your point of view, but I respectfully disagree that Overlord is the only way to play. The OP feels the same way. It's cool that not everyone has the exact same opinion, or we would really only need 1 well-written review for each game, and that was basically my original point. Many commenters disagreed with various aspects of the review. I was simply throwing in my 2 cents in support of a more basic (and cheaper and faster) version of M'44. I really do think it's a great game, with or without expansions.
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Phil McDonald
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cordeiro wrote:
philmcd wrote:
cordeiro wrote:
philmcd wrote:
You have the Op Overlord expansion as useless whereas in actual fact it is the expansion that really makes the game worth playing.

Okay, that's not an actual fact; it's an opinion, albeit one that's in the majority.

The OP's opinion may be in the minority, but he's entitled to his own opinion in his own review. To prove that he's not the only crazy one out there, I also prefer non-Overlord M'44. I like that the regular version is simple and fast. To me, Overlord is just the same game with a bigger board, more pieces, and a longer playing time. I can see why many people love it. However, it's not a valuable expansion for me either.


Exactly so, and I gave my opinion, as I too am entitled to do.

You, however, clearly do not understand Overlord format or you would know that it has a different ruleset which dramatically improves the way the game plays and gives more tactical choices. It is most certainly NOT just what you describe

I understand the rules that are unique to Overlord and the ramifications they have on gameplay. I'm still content with the regular-sized board. I appreciate your point of view, but I respectfully disagree that Overlord is the only way to play. The OP feels the same way. It's cool that not everyone has the exact same opinion, or we would really only need 1 well-written review for each game, and that was basically my original point. Many commenters disagreed with various aspects of the review. I was simply throwing in my 2 cents in support of a more basic (and cheaper and faster) version of M'44. I really do think it's a great game, with or without expansions.


I do not think you helped your case by misrepresenting Overlord format as you did. That aside, of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
 
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Two words just to clarify my strategy concept...
When I say M44 is not strategic I refer to the fact that presence of cards and dice forbid the pursue of a clear scheme of play, you simply have to optimize your hand by playing the best option (sometime you dont have even an option...).
Instead, lets take another DoW game: Ticket to Ride (soon I'll upload a review). It hasn't dice but plenty of cards, nonetheless, on USA map and in the 2 pl. mode, I consider it really strategic cause you can play according to a clear scheme (and the more experienced player will win). In TTR there are at least 4:

- complete your 2/3 initial tickets
- block your opponent
- go for a fast play (trying to leave your opponent with 8/10 even 12 trains in his hand)
- complete a lot of ticket (not a great scheme, but enjoyable when you play with newbie)

... And always keep an eye on the longest route.

Back to M44, I dont see any particular schemes according to which you can fit your game. That's why I say it's tactical.

As for Overlord format, I like it but considering the economic investment it requires I dont feel to suggest it. You have 100 bucks to spend for games? Ok, 50 for M44 and 50 for some other brand new one, market is full of gems waiting to be bought. In my case, I feel contented and satisfied after a match of vanilla M44. It's just a matter of taste... Happy gaming!
 
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rrodrick wrote:
My conclusion is that because of the difficulties with communication (drawing cards) and the vagaries of warfare (the dice you roll) you MUST be strategic in this game. If you just play tactically you will have much more problems with cards and rolls.


This is a roll-dice game, move, attack where you can and hope for the best! Yes, there is target to go for, but if you kill enough, you can still win without capturing the targets. LAME IMO!
Nowhere near other wargames where tactics and strategy is involved.

But still a fun game if you just want an easy game to play!

OVERLORD does make it very much interesting!
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Although this is indeed a light game, I still wholeheartedly disagree with the assessment that there is no strategy in Memoir '44!

If you put an experienced player up against a new player (who knows the rules) the experienced player would win a vast majority of the time. This would not be because he knows the rules better or because he got better cards, or because he played the favored side. His victories would be because he had better STRATEGY!! ninja

Yes, the experienced player will also have better tactics, but strategy is still important to winning this game.
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Phil McDonald
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rasmussen81 wrote:
Although this is indeed a light game, I still wholeheartedly disagree with the assessment that there is no strategy in Memoir '44!

If you put an experienced player up against a new player (who knows the rules) the experienced player would win a vast majority of the time. This would not be because he knows the rules better or because he got better cards, or because he played the favored side. His victories would be because he had better STRATEGY!! ninja

Yes, the experienced player will also have better tactics, but strategy is still important to winning this game.


Agreed, the more you play the game the 'luckier' you get. laugh
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Bob Gibson
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"Overlord is just the same game with a bigger board, more pieces, and a longer playing time."

Although not wishing to add to any friction here, to suggest the above statement confirms that you haven't played enough Overlord to understand its distinction to one-board Memoir. To me, that's like saying that one wine is as good as the other - just that one wine has a larger bottle and takes longer to drink.

Because of these distinctions between regular M'44, Overlord, and Breakthrough, I would propose that the review distinguish itself between one of these playing options. All three varieties add very distinct and different aspects to this fine game.
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Matthew Cordeiro
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Bob.Gibson wrote:
"Overlord is just the same game with a bigger board, more pieces, and a longer playing time."

Although not wishing to add to any friction here, to suggest the above statement confirms that you haven't played enough Overlord to understand its distinction to one-board Memoir. To me, that's like saying that one wine is as good as the other - just that one wine has a larger bottle and takes longer to drink.

Because of these distinctions between regular M'44, Overlord, and Breakthrough, I would propose that the review distinguish itself between one of these playing options. All three varieties add very distinct and different aspects to this fine game.


To be fair, I started that sentence with, "To me..." But I totally get why many people love Overlord and Breakthrough. I just prefer standard-sized Memoir, partly for simpler gameplay and partly for other factors like time and cost. I was simply seconding the sentiments of the OP after the wave of pro-Overlord replies to his review. Different strokes for different folks, right?

And for the record, I'm totally one of those people that think wines are pretty much all the same! Whatever one tastes good and isn't more than $15 a bottle, that's the one I like!
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I never really understand the complaints about dice. Most wargames involve dice, and I just much prefer the simplicity of the M44 dice over having to add the dice up, check a chart, etc. I guess if you're rolling like 6+ dice and adding them up, you're more confident of your average total roll...

And I enjoy the cards (although I don't seem to like heavier card-driven wargames). My one complaint about the cards is that both players draw from the same deck. I would prefer if each player had their own deck, which would mean that if your opponent draws some really nice cards, it doesn't mean you won't be drawing these. This would also allow scenarios to additionally modify the game by having special cards that get inserted in one or the other side's deck.
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Bob Gibson
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Ryan Keane wrote:
I never really understand the complaints about dice. Most wargames involve dice, and I just much prefer the simplicity of the M44 dice over having to add the dice up, check a chart, etc. I guess if you're rolling like 6+ dice and adding them up, you're more confident of your average total roll...

And I enjoy the cards (although I don't seem to like heavier card-driven wargames). My one complaint about the cards is that both players draw from the same deck. I would prefer if each player had their own deck, which would mean that if your opponent draws some really nice cards, it doesn't mean you won't be drawing these. This would also allow scenarios to additionally modify the game by having special cards that get inserted in one or the other side's deck.


Well stated, Ryan. As Phil mentioned: "...the more you play the game the 'luckier' you get." From light to heavier war games, they usually involve dice and the winners more often tend to be the ones who have more incites into the strategy and tactics of the game. Memoir '44 is no different in this regard, and I would argue that someone who plays the game a lot should expect to prevail over someone who rarely, or never, has played the game.

I also believe Matthew, that you underscored my comment regarding your statement that Overlord was merely just more pieces, more time to play. I have made many fopaux statements on BGG, so I merely attribute your statement in that manner. I reply to your post was to ensure that anyone reading about Memoir in this post (who has not yet played Overlord) would understand that Overlord is more than what you suggest-which it is.

I really don't wish to create any friction here. I tend to believe that there was offense taken by a couple of postings commenting on the merits of one type of Memoir to the other.

Look, I don't even drink wine, don't even like it. However, I'm sure we can agree that, in all truthfulness, there are distinctions in wine, just as there are clear distinctions between one-board Memoir '44, Overlord, and Breakthrough. Deep down, I think you'd agree. All three variations of Memoir '44 have their fan base, and all three have their distinctions, and all three are fun to play.
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Ryan Keane wrote:

And I enjoy the cards (although I don't seem to like heavier card-driven wargames). My one complaint about the cards is that both players draw from the same deck. I would prefer if each player had their own deck, which would mean that if your opponent draws some really nice cards, it doesn't mean you won't be drawing these. This would also allow scenarios to additionally modify the game by having special cards that get inserted in one or the other side's deck.


A neat feature of drawing from the same deck: If I'm drawing lots of left flank cards, the deck gets a higher concentration of right flank cards. Which means my opponent is more likely to pull right flank cards than left. Since his right is my left, the single deck can push the conflict to the same side of the board. It is probably a small effect, but it is there.
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darthnice wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:

And I enjoy the cards (although I don't seem to like heavier card-driven wargames). My one complaint about the cards is that both players draw from the same deck. I would prefer if each player had their own deck, which would mean that if your opponent draws some really nice cards, it doesn't mean you won't be drawing these. This would also allow scenarios to additionally modify the game by having special cards that get inserted in one or the other side's deck.


A neat feature of drawing from the same deck: If I'm drawing lots of left flank cards, the deck gets a higher concentration of right flank cards. Which means my opponent is more likely to pull right flank cards than left. Since his right is my left, the single deck can push the conflict to the same side of the board. It is probably a small effect, but it is there.


Good point, I didn't think of that, although as you said, it's likely a small effect. It's probably more important for Overlord and Breakthrough, where you're going to draw a larger portion of the deck before the game is over.
 
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Ryan Keane wrote:
darthnice wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:

And I enjoy the cards (although I don't seem to like heavier card-driven wargames). My one complaint about the cards is that both players draw from the same deck. I would prefer if each player had their own deck, which would mean that if your opponent draws some really nice cards, it doesn't mean you won't be drawing these. This would also allow scenarios to additionally modify the game by having special cards that get inserted in one or the other side's deck.


A neat feature of drawing from the same deck: If I'm drawing lots of left flank cards, the deck gets a higher concentration of right flank cards. Which means my opponent is more likely to pull right flank cards than left. Since his right is my left, the single deck can push the conflict to the same side of the board. It is probably a small effect, but it is there.


Good point, I didn't think of that, although as you said, it's likely a small effect. It's probably more important for Overlord and Breakthrough, where you're going to draw a larger portion of the deck before the game is over.


Not necessarily...the Overlord deck is just two decks put together, so your chances are the same and although you go through more cards, there are twice as many to pick from!
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Ryan Keane wrote:
Good point, I didn't think of that, although as you said, it's likely a small effect. It's probably more important for Overlord and Breakthrough, where you're going to draw a larger portion of the deck before the game is over.


DoW does sell extra copies of the standard deck, so you could play that way if you liked.
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