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Subject: Review of Memoir 44 By Days Of Wonder rss

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John Taber
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-== What is it? ==-

Memoir 44 is a light wargame published by Days Of Wonder. The base set for Memoir 44 was released 10 years ago in 2004. It was created by game designer Richard Borg who gained fame for his Battle Cry line of wargames. Memoir 44 is a highly awarded game that has won accolades from several prestigious organizations.

The Memoir 44 base set comes with a full color instruction manual with sample scenarios, a dual-sided play board, terrain tiles, two sets of army figures (US and German), a set of cards, custom battle dice, and pair of card stands. In this review I will be discussing the base set and the entire Memoir 44 line in general. I have purchased all of the expansions for Memoir 44 and one of the map packs (aka Battle Maps). I have played the game with various expansions hundreds of times.

-== What I Like ==-

Memoir 44 is the perfect mix of simplicity and intuitive strategy. Once the basic rules are learned expansions can be used to tack on additional twists and modifications without breaking the basic mold. The base rules are so easy to grasp that even younger players have no trouble picking it up. I play most of Memoir 44 sessions against my 9 year old son. My 9 year old can probably beat most adults. We recently finished a campaign that was comprised of several linked scenarios. In the last scenario he beat me 5 medals to 0 medals.

The expansions to Memoir 44 are quite numerous. There are several that add armies (Pacific Theater, Eastern Front, etc), some that add terrain, and others that add gear. The expansions perfectly build on the base rule set giving an enhanced feel of play without feeling overly complicated or cumbersome. My son and I think the Winter Wars expansion is our favorite. One thing that we love about this expansion is a second card deck geared for winter combats. This second deck really adds not only to the feel of combats but also neatly fit on top of existing battles. We really hope that Days Of Wonder does other add-on decks for Memoir 44. (As a point of reference there is an Urban deck in the Sword Of Stalingrad map pack which we also enjoy. )

There are thousands of scenarios available for Memoir 44. Days Of Wonder produces several campaign books that are full of scenarios and hosts an online site where folks can upload their own scenarios. Days Of Wonder also has a free campaign editor that can be used to make your own scenarios. The output from the campaign editor is a scenario that looks nearly as professional as ones in the released products. The combination of the scenario editor and the online database of submitted scenarios is really fantastic. The database allows for fairly advanced searches so you can find scenarios where you own all of the required expansions and allows for other users to rate them. Memoir 44 is one heavily supported game line.

I often joke with people that I am teaching to play Memoir 44 that one of my favorite parts about the game is setting it up. You first lay down a base board then apply terrain tiles on top. Finally you place the troops. As the terrain and troops are placed on top of a simple board this means you have a ton of flexibility in the layout of the scenario. If you have the correct winter or desert tiles the effect is even more impressive. This game looks killer.

On top of all of this support Days Of Wonder also offers online play for free! You can download the Memoir 44 game and play other people online or play against the computer. It is tons of fun playing against the computer who can be quite tough on certain scenarios.

-== What I Don’t Like ==-

Overall the quality of the components in the Memoir 44 base set is fair. The infantry and armor figures are evocative and stand fairly well. My only complaint with the infantry figures is in the coloring. In some lights the coloring of the German (dark blue) and US infantry (dark green) can be hard to distinguish…at least they are for me. My son says that he does not really have a problem with them. The US, German, and Japanese artillery figures are quite fragile. Several of our German artillery figures have lost wheels that have broken off during play. I hope Days Of Wonder uses the British and Russian artillery figures as a model if they come out with more artillery figures. They are on a solid base and built much sturdier. The boards themselves have also ripped after being used so many times. We now use binder clips to hold them together but it would be nice if they had some type of sturdier backing to prevent tearing. The card stands that come with the Memoir 44 base set are really a complete waste of time in my opinion. They are tiny and REALLY easy to knock over. My son and I used them only a few times then gave up as we often play on carpet. It is simple enough to just hold the cards in your hard or set them down.

In my opinion the artillery units in Memoir 44 seem a bit too powerful. I think they can really upset the play balance. Artillery have very long ranges, ignore terrain protection, do not require line of sight, AND are difficult to kill. I think I might have made them much easier to kill so that they are a bit more balanced with the other components in the game.

I can see where some hardcore wargamers will not like the randomness of the gameplay in Memoir 44. There is inherent randomness in card drawing and in rolling the outcome of attacks on the battle dice. I am particularly unlucky and have played games where I just can’t do any damage even when my troops are in a far superior situation. I think over the long haul of a campaign this evens out a bit more but it can be a detractor for some.

As I mentioned in the header I have nearly all of the Memoir 44 expansions. We are only missing three of the Battle Packs. There are a LOT of expansions. I would estimate my collection at roughly a $600 street cost. One problem is that one of the best expansions, the Air Pack, is no longer produced and it is VERY expensive to buy on the used game market. After sticking with it for over 6 months I was able to get a copy on eBay for roughly $95. (It has a $45 retail price.) Ouch. When I won it on eBay the boys and I watched the final minutes and cheered when we took the bid. The funny thing about the Air Pack is that one of my favorite parts about the set is the additional cards it includes and the manual. These additional cards include terrain cards from almost all of the expansions! This is really nice as for some reason most of the main army packs do not include cards for new terrain. The Air Pack manual is also wonderful as it repeats some of the existing scenarios but adds air support. This allows existing scenarios to be replayed with neat twists. Days Of Wonder should seriously consider releasing the Air Pack again or at least the offering the cards and manual for sale.

Memoir 44 is really a 2 player game. It can be played in what is called Overloard mode with 8 players but the heart of the game is mano-e-mano. At times I wish some of Evan’s friends could play along with us a bit easier.

-== Summary ==-

Memoir 44 is a massive hit with me and my 9 year old. Nearly every night after work he begs to play that next scenario in the campaign or to play one that he made on the computer. I am more than happy to oblige. This is one of my favorite games of all time and I would give it a 10 paws out of 10 if not for some issues with the components and the expense of some of the expansions.

I give it 9 out of 10 paws.
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Randy Smith
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Nice review of one of my favorite games.

Just a couple of things to point out. The scenario book from the air pack is offered as a digital download from DoW for $15.

As for the rules summary cards, there a couple of different files in the files section where people have already downloaded them and put them in easy to print files. But, if they were offered as a separate purchase I would probably do it.
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Ryan Keane
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Great review! Big take away for me (and from my own experience with my 8-year-old son): if you have a son or daughter at all interested in wargames or WWII, Memoir 44 is a must buy for endless hours of quality time with your kid. It's the one game my son almost enjoys just as much when he loses to me as when he wins - our last 3 games ended with the loser just 1 VP short, coming down to 1 or 2 die rolls. And I would point out you don't need all the expansions to still get a ton of enjoyment out of the game. I just have Base set, Terrain Pack, Eastern Front, and Desert/Snow board, and am happy. For now, I'm just planning to purchase the digital Campaign Book v1 sometime soon. My #1 game!
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Bob Gibson
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Enjoyed the review. I'd heard about Memoir '44 prior to its release, and got as soon as it became available. Minus the Winter and Equipment Pack, I have everything.

Your review brings back fond memories playing Memoir with my son. At the time of the release, he was 10 years old. Looking back, it seemed as though there was come sort of military centergy in the air - with the '98 release of Saving Private Ryan, then the 2001 release of Band of Brothers. My son really got immersed in WWII history, even to the point of us putting on the gear and playing tactical airsoft each weekend. Of course, I can't forget the xbox combat games that came out around that time too! But, with it all, Memoir was the best experience for us!

He's in college now, but when he's home there are still occasions when we break out the game and reconnect. I hope that those who have kids will continue to have as much fun playing Memoir '44 as I have had with my son. It's a terrific game for so many reasons!
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(By the title I thought Days of Wonders was reviewing Memoir' 44.)
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Jaime D.
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Nicolas Weiss wrote:
(By the title I thought Days of Wonders was reviewing Memoir' 44.)


Hehe, they would probably grant a 10 to the game, wouldn't they?

Great review, by the way
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René Christensen
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12!
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Ben Bosmans
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Slotracer wrote:
12!


I gave Memoir 44 a "2".

Playing it over the internet let me realise this game is purely based on luck of the cards AND the position on the 3 way board AND the die rolls.

Add a complete joke of card sets that are much too wide spread in utility/value AND a never ending stream of expansions to go for the fanatics and their wallets AND the game becomes boring after playing it for a few times in a row on the internet and ...

... I think "2" is even stretching it too much. Let's say 1.5 would be enough for the present day Stratego kid game.

Curiously enough GOOD game designs like Ticket to Ride or Carcassone or Elder Sign come out even better on PC/tablet than in their board gaming cousins.

That's not even remotely the case with present day Stratego (Memoir 44).
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Ticket too Ride is a decent family game, but having played both many times, I think it hard to dispute there is a lot more strategy in M'44.
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John Taber
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Wow...I don't agree Benny but thanks for posting your opinion.
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Chris May
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I don't agree either. This is one of my favorite games and I've played it over 100 times many times with the same opponent. It is definitely not as luck based as you claim. I beat my opponent about 20 times in a row when we started. He gradually got better and now we can see tactical errors that lead directly to our losses now.

Is there luck in the game? Sure. With dice and cards there is luck. But tactics and probabilities are very important too.

One thing to note: there is a huge tactical book written to teach how to play this game. I think this shows the depth of tactics available in this game.
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