As Charles, my regular Memoir '44 opponent, is moving six hours away in less than a week, we decided that our last month of Memoir '44 would be replaying our favorite expansion so far: D-Day Landings. After all, we still remember our prior playthroughs and still talk about that flamethrower tank that escaped the beach on Omaha, drove inland, and fought off three Axis units until succumbing to the 18th die rolled against it; or that barrage that wiped out the big guns at Pointe du Hoc on Utah in a single roll. He took the Germans, confidently coming off their convincing victory in our recently concluded Fall Gelb campaign (Campaign Book #1 PDF). We modified the rules here, for single map play, so the Allies only receive one VP for beach control throughout the campaign, rather than two. We played one map at a time, through all six maps.
8/14/17: Sword Beach
Since the last time we've played, Charles has become much more dependent upon artillery. He will often sit back and bomb his opponent, turtling until his arty is out of units to fire at, before coming in with fresh troops to mop up. (A tactic he perfected in the combined arms heaven of the Fall Gelb campaign) So, my first priority was to wipe out his artillery. I wiped both of his big gun units off the map as soon as possible, though the one in the town took much longer than I wanted--thankfully, it was never able to get fully zeroed in and fire at me with an extra die. I also held back from Pegasus Bridge, so I could use that as a chokepoint in case the Axis won their Left Flank. Their Left Flank fell pretty early, and their center was a mess from mid-game on--though some of his units did put up a pretty good defensive fight in the middle, a pair of reinforcement mortars soon took care of them. Still, the Axis owned their right flank, and some timely reinforcements coming in from off-map on that side, pressuring and taking out some of my paratrooper units. I responded by ignoring it and pushing my advantage in the other two flanks. Germans still owned their right beach by the end, though to be fair, I hadn't landed a single unit on it, because I did not attempt to contest it.
8/20/2017: Juno Beach
The Axis jumped out to a big early lead. Their key tactical decision was committing to shifting damaged units back and fresh units forward, while supporting this front line maneuvering with Big Gun artillery fire. Those two bunkers in the center must have had three different units occupying each at one time or another. It was frustrating for me to land units, and suddenly that softened up bunker was hard again--three times. The lone beach defender on the Axis' Left Flank tenaciously wouldn't take a hit through the first turns. But, after I was able to get some artillery landed in the center, and had some cards so it could open fire immediately and sustain fire, they did enough damage in Courseulles for me to catch up and pass him in just three or four turns. His left flank totally folded once that lone unit took a few hits around that time, and I quickly pushed into his Big Gun unit and took it out. I placed a bridge between Banville and Courseulles. I never got inland farther than Banville, but his reinforcement push meant that there were enough units near me to wipe out that I still won.
8/20/2017: Gold Beach
Annoyed after my pair of wins, especially after he thought he had Juno Beach in the bag about five minutes before, the Axis attempted a different strategy: they pulled back from the beach to the hills around Tierceville and Bayeux, giving up the beach in an effort to spread the British advance out, hopefully allowing him to focus fire on unsupported units and move reinforcements up from the baseline quickly to plug holes and start pushing the British back. Things didn't go well from the start, for the Axis; they didn't shore up in the middle; and they ended dismally. The Axis had very few On the Move opportunities, from cards or from reinforcement rolls, which his strategy was reliant on. I was dealt a Barrage and Recon 1 card in my opening hand. Turn 1 and Turn 2 were spent barraging the Big Guns, and they were wiped out in two turns. From there, he started to pull back to a new defensive line. However, I had a couple of timely Assault All cards, at least one in each flank, and was able to sweep in behind him quickly enough to keep the pressure on. The knockout fight was around Tierceville--an Axis unit occupied the town and the hedges, while a tank unit came up to support. The Allies had a mortar, special forces, and two regular infantry units; as well as the artillery unit, which was on the road in the center, behind the hills on that split hex. A key miss by the Axis tank unit on an exposed Allied unit, a useful Ambush by the Allies, and sustained artillery and mortar fire eventually wore down the three German units. I was able to isolate and focus fire well, while Charles was unable to push reinforcements up and ended up spread out.
8/21/2017: Omaha Beach
I was dealt a great opening hand and had great cards throughout. For example, I had three Assault All cards to open the match, two in the center (well, one and a counter-attack to his center Assault All response). Later, I used three barrages in a row, two Armor Assaults in a row, and my destroyer got zeroed in on a couple of Axis units. I pushed through on my right flank initially--which seems to be where the Allies always escape the beach first--with two reinforcement mortar units, two special forces infantry, a tank unit, and three normal infantry. They quickly overwhelmed the Axis forces, with four right flank cards in a row, though that 88 in the town kept me at bay for far too long: I think I rolled eight misses before finally taking it out with two hits and two misses in a single turn. It left some units stranded over there, on the Allied right flank, but I didn't think it would be a problem. Still a mistake, but it didn't bite me too badly. His artillery unit in the center was deadly, and got quite a few of his points--including wiping my artillery unit behind the seawall out in a single shot. Eventually though, he hadn't pulled back behind the river and I was able to isolate, focus fire, and barrage my way to a victory with off-map artillery support. A real combined-arms victory.
8/29/2017: Utah Beach
Our favorite map in the expansion, Utah Beach is an irregular shape and difficult for the Allies to push in the center at all. Playing as the Allies, I got behind quickly as he was able to kill 24 figures in the first three turns. I never caught up. He had a balanced attack: no one flank defined his early turns--thanks, in part, to his card play allowing him to attack in all three flanks consistently. An artillery barrage by Charles' two big guns and one normal arty played a key role in removing figures both early and throughout. I was unable to effectively attack Pointe du Hoc throughout the entire game, partly due to bad planning on my part, partly due to bad decision making by me, and partly due to no cards on that flank. I also did not escape units when I could, instead preferring to focus fire first to clear the beach. Essentially, he had a strong opening hand, spectacular rolls, and I wasn't able to turn the tide by the time he received his 12th point. Still our favorite map. If it had gone a couple of turns longer, I was on track to turn the tide and he would have had a hard time getting enough points to win. Shutting down his access to the beach from that single bridge early would have been a good strategy, but by the time I had done that, it was too late and he was able to retake it easily with reinforcement units.
8/29/2017: American Airborne
A fun map, no mistaking that. The forces start all mixed together, and continue to be mixed throughout. I was able to eliminate his Big Guns before he had a chance to do damage with them, and from there, it was pretty methodical. His five points included both of his town control markers by the end of the game as I focused on hand management and controlling the sectors we were fighting in, giving up a couple of points by simply following the plan--which was, broadly, to wipe him off my half of the board. Which I did except for those pesky supported tanks. I did not escape any units, but I also had no reinforcements. He only had two reinforcement units throughout, as both of our reinforcement rolls let us down.
He leaves in six days, and I do not believe it will give us time to play through again, switching sides. But hey, that's what Vassal is for, right? Anyways, this is still my favorite expansion to Memoir '44, though that comes with a caveat: it's tied with the also spectacular Breakthrough board and deck. If you like being able to recover from a couple of bad plays, the larger map size of this expansion, and Breakthrough, is for you. The maps all went back and forth and looked like they were anybody's maps to win at many points--except Gold, though that map has played much more closely before. My review of this expansion pack would probably be one sentence, from my AAR on the first map we played: "The feel of the map was simply that we had so much to do and so many opportunities to take advantage of that it was difficult for either player to prioritize a list of goals."
Prior Plays on these maps for context:
1/17/2016 Sword: I played as the Allies. Charles attempted to fight on both fronts at once: the paratroopers and the beach. His Left and Center flank stayed put on the beaches, tearing into the landing troops. But the paratroopers were tearing his Right flank apart. A couple of lucky reinforcement rolls put two more mortars on the map for the Allies. An Assault Center card made that Center Flank an emergency for Charles, but with many troops on the beach and his forces weakening, it wasn't very long before I rolled it up. The feel of the map was simply that we had so much to do and so many opportunities to take advantage of that it was difficult to prioritize a list of goals. So much to do and so few Assault cards. Great map though it seems like it might be unbalanced towards the Allies when played as a single map. Charles, Connor, and I thought up two more strategies for the Germans, so we'll try those out before we move on to the next D-Day map. Allies 16 / Axis 10
4/10/2016 Juno: I played as the Allies, and Charles decided to pull back from the beach, essentially handing me six points right off the bat while trying to stop me from moving deep inland. This also let me set up a bridge with one of my two Hobart's bridge layers, so I had 8 points in two or three turns. Then I took three town spaces with a combination of offshore bombardment (via Recon 1 cards), flag rolling, and overwhelming force: 9 points. Then I managed to off one of the German Big Gun units with a single two-grenade roll from a Barrage card, netting another two points. That was huge and felt like the play of the game, and it also felt like 11 points. At that stage I only needed to eliminate two units and I did, the last one a two figure knocked out with another barrage. The final score was 13-4. My strategy was to take what Charles gave me and follow on his heels enough to take pot shots and harass his troops. His strategy was to pull back to a defensible line and stop me in my tracks partway inland from the beach. I have no doubt that he would have won if the match went to 17 or 20: he had some serious defenses set up. Allies 13 / Axis 4
9/5/2016 Gold: I played as the Germans. Charles got an assault all in the center as his first card, so I immediately dropped most of my units back to those first hills behind them. Because I am dumb and the map is so long, I didn't notice how weak he was on the right, and didn't push any advantage there--my 88s fired once the whole game. UGH. Bad playing on my part, especially those undecided first couple of moves. Eventually, after making decisions, my thought was to spread his troops out from the beach to the hills and, halfway through the game, it wasn't working and I was second guessing myself. But some lucky die rolls for me did some serious damage and severely dented his advance in the center. Smart retreats on my right, endless bombing from the big guns, and the oh so timely arrival of the base-line tanks ended up putting my point total from 5 to 9 in two or three turns, while he went from 9 to 11 in the same few turns. One more turn would've netted me another point, but some great focused fire on my supported infantry (in Ryes at the end) netted the Allies their 12th point. No escapees, no bridge, my big guns lived. Long, devastating battle. Closer than both of us expected it to be. Allies 12 / Axis 9
9/26/2016 Omaha: I played as the Axis. That Machine Gun nest was really, really, really useful. Using artillery and units reinforcing the hill defense, I was able to keep almost all of the exits closed. The only exit that ended up open was near Vierville, which the Allies captured. But with everybody else stuck on the beach, it wasn't the day for the Allies at all. Getting the Tanks and Supported infantry up into action ASAP was difficult but was worth it. Allies 6 / Axis 16
9/26/2016 Omaha: We swapped sides and played again, with me taking the Allies. This battle will forever be remembered for the flamethrower unit that took up position on the hill just south of the river Aure. It was surrounded by three full-strength units on the hedgerows, road, and road. It took 18 dice rolled to take the flamethrower out, while other Allied forces came up the beach and helped the flamethrower win the area. Artillery behind the Seawall is obvious and key. The second thing that really helped me to win is getting people out of the exits. I landed tanks ASAP to get rid of barbed wire, then I got as many people off the beach as consistently as I could. The Germans are less effective fighting on six fronts than they are on three fronts. Allies 16 / Axis 12
9/26/2016 Utah: I played as the Axis. The Axis lost Pointe du Hoc early, but were able to hang onto the beach with some effective dice rolling and the big guns near Grandcamp just pounding the landing forces. The Germans brought their tanks up to the beach early, as well as the special forces in the center, and this was effective in letting only a single unit escape. Allies 6 / Axis 12
9/26/2016 Utah: We swapped sides and played again, with me taking the Allies. After exiting four units, clearing the Germans off the beach on the right side, and taking Poine du Hoc in the first seven or so turns, the German tanks arrived and just wiped the floor with my guys on the beach. I had 11 points at one point. I ended up with 8. The Germans used their big guns to fire into the channel and force retreats from my guys on Pointe du Hoc. Allies 8 / Axis 12
10/4/2016 American Airborne: I played as the Axis. The Allies had two main strategic goals: eliminate the big guns then escape off the map. That right there could be enough points to win. They ended up getting three units off and taking out both big gun figures in one die roll--five points. The Allies did a good job of pushing on St-Come-du-Mont and Varreville right off the bat. Varreville fell to the Allies. The center city was soon surrounded by defenders from Carentan who pushed the Allies back to Boutteville and St Mere Eglise. Give them a point for city control from St Mere Eglise and Varreville, and a point for wiping out the two units defending those cities, and they only had to wipe out one last unit to win. Germans controlled Amfreville and the cover on either side of the exit roads, but the Allies were able to use the road bonus and speed out of the map for the win. It seems like if the Allies draw the right cards, it could easily be four turns to complete Allied victory simply through escape. Allies 9 / Axis 7
10/4/2016 American Airborne: We swapped sides and I played as the Allies. I did not play well at all, and I was opposed by 60% hits on every die roll, four Infantry Assaults, and two Direct from HQ. However, I still beat myself: I split my forces in a way that left both parts weaker, I had no real plan and moved around mostly randomly, and when I had 7 points I was unable to capitalize for the win because I was out of place. A key move was machine gun at St Mere Eglise. What that allowed was focused fire on infantry reinforcements coming off the baseline. I was able to take a couple units out that way. Just wish I had some plan for any of my other guys. However, this is a fun map and, despite the stats online right now, seems like both sides can win this one. Allies 6 / Axis 9
EDIT: Clarity in phrases.
- Last edited Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:55 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:52 pm