Session Report: Memoir ‘44
Date: April 22, 2006
Participants: Leo, Rick
The only session of April 2006 saw Rick and I engage in a daylong Memoir ’44 funfest! This was the first opportunity to break out my newly acquired expansions; Terrain Pack, Eastern Front, and Winter/Desert Board. We were able to play three complete matches; with each match consisting of playing a given scenario twice, where the players switch sides between games and determine the match score by the combining the scores of both games into a match score. We then considered all three matches as the Tri-Front ETO Campaign, as we played one scenario each from North Africa, Russian Front, and D-Day!
# 1 - Pegasus Bridge – June 6, 1944:
Our first match was the beginning scenario to standard M44 – Pegasus Bridge. This scenario pits British paras (specifically the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry parachute regiment) against German infantry guarding two bridges near the Normandy beachheads. The first side to four medals wins, and the Brits can score medals by capturing the Pegasus and Orne Bridges (one medal each) in addition to killing Nazis.
In game 1, I commanded the Brits while Rick led the German defenders. I moved First and Second Battalion on my left and centre directly to the wire and sandbag protected Pegasus Bridge, while on my right flank, elements of Third Battalion advanced towards the Orne Bridge. First Battalion got bogged down in the wire in front of a company of Germans and was cut up badly. However, Third Battalion easily brushed aside minimal German resistance along the Orne and captured the bridge handily. Sheer weight of numbers, aided by the play of “Direct from HQ” and “Their Finest Hour” cards finally allowed me to finish off two companies of Wehrmacht troops for a 4-1 victory.
In game 2, Rick now commanded the Paras while I took over the German garrison. His scheme of attack was fairly similar to mine from Game 1, moving two-thirds of the British force towards Pegasus Bridge and the other third to Orne Bridge. In this case, Rick was able to play “Airpower” to soften up my defenses in front of Pegasus, and then storm the bridge with “Infantry Assault”. Rick therefore also finished with a 4-1 victory, although his victory included the capture of both bridges and the routing of two German infantry companies. The match was a 5-5 tie, and the campaign moved on.
#34 - Battle of Gazala – June 12, 1942:
The second match of the campaign was Gazala-Knightsbridge, set in North Africa, allowing us to use the Desert Board and new terrain pieces from the Terrain Pack. This scenario depicts the unsuccessful attack of the British 2nd and 4th Tank Brigades on Rommel’s depleted 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions in the spring of 1942. Victory in this scenario would be determined by the first side to score five medals.
In game 1, I had the displeasure of commanding the numerous but ill-trained and poorly led British tankers, while Rick played the role of the Desert Fox. I was able to inflict some casualties on the 21st Panzer Division early on with a first turn “Airpower” air strike, but things rapidly went downhill from there. The British outnumber the Germans with 8 battalions of tanks to only six for the Afrika Korps. However, the Germans hold 6 command cards in this scenario to only 4 for the British, and in addition, the British tanks can only move two hexes per turn, versus three for the German panzers. Rick’s 15th Panzer sliced through 4th Armor, while his 21st Panzer did likewise to my 2nd Armor Brigade, as he took care of me 5-2.
In game 2, things held true to form, as now my panzers outmaneuvered the British tanks and shot them to pieces. Once again, 15th Panzer smashed the 4th Armor and 21st Panzer did likewise to the British 2nd Armor. I played a final “Armored Assault” command card to finish off Rick’s ill-fated XXX Corp by a score of 5-2. This match, like the first, was a 7-7 tie, and the campaign was now tied 12-12. We moved to the final scenario of the campaign, turning east to Mother Russia.
#39 - Typhoon Gates of Moscow – October 18, 1941:
Our final match was Operation Typhoon, which allowed us to use the Eastern Front Expansion, with all of the new Russian pieces, as well as the Winter Board and more new terrain pieces!
The scale of this scenario is considerably greater than that of either of the preceding scenarios. In this case, the game represents the start of the final, great push of Germany’s Army Group Centre to Moscow in late 1941. The rains had started and the roads had turned to mud, but the Germans were determined to capture Mozhaisk, the last major city on the direct road to Moscow. The Nazis arrayed eight panzer divisions and ten infantry divisions against a Russian defensive line stretching from Bryansk to Rzhev and manned by ten infantry armies and two tank corps.
In game 1, Rick commanded the spearhead of Army Group Centre, while I led the stout Russian defenders. Rick moved out in the center, as three panzer divisions crashed into three Russian armies defending the hills before Kaluga and Vyazma. Meanwhile, three more panzer divisions moved towards the forested area near Bryansk, defended by two Russian armies, with a third in reserve in Orel. The initial German blitz in the middle forced the Russian units to retreat towards Kaluga and Mozhaisk, but I was able to blunt this attack with heavy artillery barrages. The German left flank also began to move up, with two panzer divisions and five infantry divisions pushing into the woods in front of Vyazma and Rzhev. The Germans around Bryansk were soon bogged down, as their tanks proved of little value in the heavily wooded area, and Russian infantry took a heavy toll. Rick’s last gasp was another lunge in the center, but I was able to repulse this with the aid of an “Armored Assault” command card, which allowed me to counter-attack with two Russian tank corps. These smashed two German panzer divisions and as a result, my Russians emerged victorious 7-3, with four panzer divisions listed among the destroyed Nazi formations.
We turned the board around for game 2 and I now launched my attack on the Russian line of defense. As in game 1, my panzers ripped a big hole in the center of the Soviet line west of Kaluga. I also move up my forces towards Bryansk and Vyazma. I was able to push the entire Russian line eastwards and inflict heavy casualties, but my Wehrmacht troops could not finish off enough Soviet units (there were seven Russian infantry armies reduced to one figure but still on the board by the end of game), and Rick fought back hard. My tanks had little success in their attempts to root out the Russian infantry in and around Bryansk, while Rick whittled down my panzers in the center. He played a center “All Assault” card and smashed my lead panzer division just outside of Kaluga, winning the game by a count of 7-4. However, this allowed me to eek out an 11-10 match win, and therefore an extremely narrow 23-22 Tri-Front ETO Campaign victory. The entire campaign of six games took us about six hours to complete.
Leo won the third match 11-10, while matches one and two were both ties.
Campaign Score: Leo 23 – Rick 22, Leo scores marginal victory!