Recommend
34 
 Thumb up
 Hide
19 Posts

Memoir '44» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Why an eurogamer loved this game rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Fortune
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Stare into my eyes and feel the irresistible urge to check out my profile overpowering you...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Introduction

I purchased Memoir 44 with careful circumspection. I wanted to play a game that plays well with 2 and the victory conditions are not based on points. (I didn't want to count victory points like an accountant.) I wanted to pillage, burn, overcome and this game was brought up as a suggestion by fellow geeks. My other options at the game store would have been BattleLore, Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage, Commands & Colors, Runebound 2nd edition, Pandemic, Tide of Iron and Descent: A Journey to the Dark. As I was going to play the game with my GF I let her pick one. I read that it was a good introduction to wargaming, so I was quite content with this choice and it proved to be a valuable addition to my collection. Pretty much everything that could be told about this game had been told, so I'll focus my review on the perspective why a habitual eurogamer as me fell in love with this game.


Components



Upon unpacking the game I found the following game bits in the box:
- a folding map with hex fields, an ocean surface on one side, an inland surface on the other side
- lots of infantry, armour and artillery pieces in two colours
- sandbags and wires in two colours
- 4 square tiles with bunkers on one side, bridges on the other side
- special forces insignia and "victory medals"
- hex tiles with all kinds of terrain (like hill, forest, town)
- 8 six-sided dice with cool symbols
- finally a thick deck of combat cards

Examining the game bits I could feel a bit of excitement rushing through my veins. It's a childish thing, yes, but I like to hold those damn tanks in my hand and make blasting sounds when I shoot at the enemy. Without hesitation, those are the most elaborate pieces in the game. They are compelling, vivid, real. (And finally not wooden cubes or meeples, hehe...)

The infantry pieces are a treat too, however I noticed that some of them are very vulnerable and I even found some soldiers tumbled down from their legs (I guess they stepped on a landmine?). This was a bit of a disappointment as the game is a bit pricey and you could expect the best quality for that money. I also disliked the way they painted the army pieces; it is not always easy to differentiate the blue and dark green soldiers, which is slightly annoying. Now this would make sense, if they were aiming at realism, but they were not, as they were going for the "stylized" layout, as we are told in the rulebook. Fortunately the allied soldiers are holding their guns high and straight, meanwhile the axis ones are holding it low, so you can tell the difference.

The artillery pieces are even more vulnerable so take extra care with them. The sandbags, wires and special forces and victory medals are all simple but nice accessories.

I quite liked the cards too. They are varied, the artwork is fabolous and the text is easy to read. The dice have some very cool symbols. The map is a large enough to muster up massive forces, but small enough to keep the fight intense. The terrain hex tiles are also stylized but very expressive to depict the surroundings of a battle.

Apart from the annoyances of the rather vulnerable infantry and artillery pieces, the dubious colours, and the stylish simplicity, the game bits are rather enjoyable.

8 out of 10.


Theme

If you remember the computer game "Panzer General" from your childhood / teenager years, you'll find the resemblance staggering.



So my first thought was: "it's like a simplified version of Panzer General". And on second thought (after playing the scenarious), it is, indeed. Both have hex tiles, artillery, infantry and armoured units, both are turn-based and centered around scenarios. It's easy to see that the designers didn't put too much effort into inventing new and original ideas to create Memoir '44. They only had to simplify certain elements to make it appealing to the masses. It's okay, as it was meant to be a gateway wargame.

With that said, I still find the theme a bit lacking in content. First off, there are no airborne units, only some cards like "Air Power" boasting airstrikes in a random fashion. World war in 1944 without a decent airfight? Sounds like an AC/DC show without Highway to Hell or Thunderstruck. I miss the anti-tank units too. How the hell could a normal infantry unit score hits against a squadron of Panzers? You'd need bigger guns there than a Thompson. Let's also mention the total absence of naval forces, which is almost ridiculous given that allied assaults on Normandy were heavily supported with naval bombardment. I won't even complain about snipers, scouting and anti-artillery units or motorized infantry missing from the game.

Memoir '44 offers a simplified army structure in exchange for easy gameplay and easy rules. I get it, this is not Tide of Iron and wasn't meant to be. Let it also be said, that the game is very enjoyable without those pieces too and will get you in the WWII mood in no time. It is still authentic, just lacks a bit of depth.

7 out of 10


Setup



The setup of the game is very easy and enjoyable process, taking appr. 5-10 minutes. You pick a scenario, you lay out the map on the relevant side (coast or inland), put on the terrain tiles, put on the army pieces and the other symbols (sandbags, insignia, etc.) The units are as follows:
- 1 infantry unit: 4 soldiers
- 1 armoured unit: 3 tanks
- 1 artillery unit: 2 guns

Soon you will find hex tiles crowded with all sorts of game bits which results in a very cool looking battle landscape. As you look over the map, you can step in the boots of a general who controls all those soldiers. It is highly recommended that you play all scenarios before forming an opinion on this game at all, as each scenario has a different setup and offers a different challenge for both sides.

9 out of 10

Rules & Mechanism

The object of the game is simple: get 4 victory medals. (Or more in some scenarios.) For each unit eliminated you get one medal, and each medal tile you control you also get one. In most scenarios the objective for the Allied player is to get to the medal tiles quick and take out as many Nazis as humanly possible. For the Axis player the objective is to take out as many Allied players as humanly possible and defend those special squares.

As already mentioned, the rules are easy to understand and follow. The turn consists of the following steps:
- play out a card
- move units
- battle!
- draw another card...

As you can see, the main engine of the game is the card deck. The cards are either Section Cards or Tactics Cards. The section cards let you to order troops in a certain section of the map: left flank, center or right flank. The tactic cards offer you all sorts of goodies f.e. airtstrike, barrage, "dig in" (establishing sandbags around units), medics & mechanics (regaining some of your units) or finest hour (allowing you to move further and fight tougher). In most scenarios, the Axis player has less cards (4) than the Allied player (5-6), showing who has the initiative and the advantage of surprise. It is quite a drawback for the Axis player as he has less to choose from. Sometimes this results in sheer frustration, allowing you to move only one unit in one section, because no other card would let you move that certain unit. In one game I was unable to use my bunkered artillery at all on Omaha Beach, it was taken out before it could say a few words to the invaders. Heh?

Movement.
Movement of units are decided by cards and the rules. You can move the units indicated on the card, f.e. 2 units in the left flank. The movement rules are as follows:
- For infantry: move 1 and still battle or move 2 (special units: move 2 and still battle)
- For tanks: move 3 and still battle
- For artillery: move 1 or battle

As you can see, the fastest unit is the tank and it is the strongest one also. There are various terrain tiles restricting movement or blocking line of sight. For instance you can't shoot through a hill. There are also certain objects, giving extra defense (the enemy can roll with 1 die less), f.e.a bunker, sandbags or a town square. A wire will stop you and you can battle out with 1 die less, a pike will stop the tank but not the infantry etc. Fortunately a bunker on a hill surrounded with sandbags is NOT an unvulnerable fortress as defensive advantages are not cumulative.

Battle
If the cards are the engine, the dice are the throttle. A die has the following sides:
- infantry
- infantry (another...)
- tank
- grenade (infantry, tank or artillery)
- star (miss)
- flag (retreat)

The battle is simple. You attack an unit and roll a number of dice according to your distance from the targeted unit:

For infantry: 3-2-1
For tank: 3-3-3
For artillery: 3-3-2-2-1-1

Let's say you attack infantry with infantry on an adjacent tile, you can battle with 3 dice. If the target is 2 tiles away, you can roll 2 dice, if it's 3 tiles away, roll one die. These numbers are also affected by the terrain circumstances and the bonuses indicated on the card.

If you roll the symbol of the assaulted unit or a grenade (kind of a joker), you score a hit and take out one enemy soldier within the unit. Now, it's easy to calculate the chances of scoring:

For infantry: 50 % (3/6 symbols)
For tank: 33 % (2/6 symbols)
For artillery: 17 % (1/6 symbols)

These numbers are properly balanced with the unit sizes (an infantry unit has 4 soldiers, whereas an artillery unit has only 2 guns.). There are also special rules for the sake of balance, say a flag rolled against a bunkered artillery means taking out one gun from the unit. By the way, the flag also contributes to the authentic atmosphere of the game. A flag forces your opponent to retreat, meaning you didn't hit 'em but made 'em run. Fun.

9 out of 10


Flow of gameplay

I can attest that Memoir '44 is one of those games not paralysed by long and boring analysis blackouts meanwhile still offering strategic planning. In fact the game walks a thin line between the rationalism of eurogames and the hilarious chaos of Ameritrash. I think this genuinely depicts the nature of world war battles, where everything is contingent and requires precise planning and a sound decision which will result in another contingency... The die-rolling contributes the most to the 'chaos factor', but in the long run pure "luck" is a result of a sequence of reasonable orders.

The frequency of the section cards frames the scope of each movement and lets you to focus on one area or one unit, trying to make the single most effective movement with that card. In this sense, Memoir '44 is similar to Chess, my all-time favourite game.

One aspect I dislike about the flow of gameplay is the fact that scenarios end too soon. In most cases you'll have to obtain 4 victory medals resulting in a very short game. The upside of this feature is that victory is still in contest at the end of the game. A plausible variant is to raise the number of medals to gain victory. I find 6 just to be a perfect number.

9 out of 10


Strategy & Tactics



The strategic aspect of the game is not as magnificent as in other games I experienced so far, but it exists and lets the player to form his own plan meanwhile constantly readjusting it to the concrete situation and the cards involved. An important part of the decision-making process for Allies is to decide which section to focus on; preferably this will be the section where you have superior forces or forces in greater number. You have to push these pieces forward, but not all costs, as you can be butchered among defensive enemy positions. Axis strategy involves finding strategic points where you would move your pieces onto and defend them at all costs. Tactics also implies the decision which piece to move first and which piece to leave behind, where to put your sandbags, which hillside or town square to occupy; to move further or to battle etc. As a general rule, it is the best to shoot as early as you can thus raising your chances to score hits. Unfortunately not all pieces can engage in battle throughout a scenario which is slightly frustrating as you put them on the map for a reason... It wouldn't make sense to talk about strategy & tactics in greater detail, because each scenario requires a different assesment.

7.5 out of 10


Replayability

By going through all of the scenarios and replaying some of them I found that the game has great replay value. You can pursue different strategies in the same setups as you recognize more and more advantages and disadvantages on the map and in your initial army position. A scenario doesn't get boring even after the third play.

9 out of 10


Summary

Memoir '44 is a very enjoyable game, one that you can play with almost anyone. The game bits (even with their apparant flaws) and the theme (even though it's a bit simple) are suitable to depict a semi-authentic world war scene and get you in a fighting mood! The rules are easy and reasonably balance the game, the cards-and-dice mechanism generates enough randomness to counter your strategic planning and symbolize the chaos of a battlefield. The flow of gameplay successfully eliminates analysis paralysis and allows you to make sound decisions at the same time. As I got to love Memoir '44, I also became prepared and willing to play heavier wargames with more depth and more focus on realism. It is a game somewhat close to perfection.

OVERALL SCORE:
8.8 out of 10


  • [+] Dice rolls
Mary Weisbeck
United States
Black Hawk
South Dakota
flag msg tools
"Blow up the damned ship, Jean-Luc!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very nice review, Tommy. This is the game that got me interested in playing war games. As you mentioned, it gives you a taste and then you want more.

One thing: you mentioned a hill with a bunker and sandbags; the sandbags do not give you a -1 die defense if there is another defensive fortification present. It does let you ignore one flag, though.

If you want a little more game, try Commands & Colors: Ancients. Same basic rules but more unit types and a few rules tweaks to give it a little more strategy.
4 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fortune
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Stare into my eyes and feel the irresistible urge to check out my profile overpowering you...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent suggestion, Mary! My other pick would have been Commands & Colours... I was mesmerized by the cover and the small description on the back of the box got me excited too... I think it's the next wargame I'll get my hands on!

EDIT: I was not aware of this rule you mentioned... until now. I guess I should reread the rulebook.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mary Weisbeck
United States
Black Hawk
South Dakota
flag msg tools
"Blow up the damned ship, Jean-Luc!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
blush Correction on the rule correction blush
I decided to double-check the rules, which I should have done to begin with...

It's not another fortification that affects the -1 die for sandbags, it's terrain cover. So now I'm confused: the hill gives a -1 when someone's firing uphill at you but not if you're on the same level. Does that mean the sandbags give you -1 cover only when someone fires from a lower elevation?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Phil McDonald
England
Staffordshire
UK
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review, but I would point out that overall very few scenarios are won with 4 medals. The vast majority are 5 or 6 medals.
1 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Phil McDonald
England
Staffordshire
UK
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
sodaklady wrote:
blush Correction on the rule correction blush
I decided to double-check the rules, which I should have done to begin with...

It's not another fortification that affects the -1 die for sandbags, it's terrain cover. So now I'm confused: the hill gives a -1 when someone's firing uphill at you but not if you're on the same level. Does that mean the sandbags give you -1 cover only when someone fires from a lower elevation?


Sandbags are not affected by elevations as such.

the key thing is that defensive modifications are not cumulative, but you can choose the most advantageous way to use them.

Take a complicated example:

An infantry standing in barbed wire attacks an adjacent infantry which is in a wooded hex with sandbags. Or it could be on a hill with sandbags... the effect is the same.

So... the defending unit has a defense modification of -1 dice for both woods and for sandbags, but can only count one of them because they are not counted cumulatively, but it CAN still benefit from the ignore first flag feature of the sandbags.

In addition, the ATTACKER has a 1 dice penalty for being in barbed wire. This CAN be added cumulatively because offensive modifiers and defensive modifiers DO stack.

Therefore, in this case the attacker would roll with 2 fewer dice, and the defender can ignore the first flag rolled.

Simples
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mary Weisbeck
United States
Black Hawk
South Dakota
flag msg tools
"Blow up the damned ship, Jean-Luc!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks, Phil. Simples! laugh
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fortune
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Stare into my eyes and feel the irresistible urge to check out my profile overpowering you...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
philmcd wrote:

the key thing is that defensive modifications are not cumulative, but you can choose the most advantageous way to use them.

(...)


offensive modifiers and defensive modifiers DO stack.


Interesting, I didn't know this. Does it say expressly so in the rulebook?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Phil McDonald
England
Staffordshire
UK
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Fortune wrote:
philmcd wrote:

the key thing is that defensive modifications are not cumulative, but you can choose the most advantageous way to use them.

(...)


offensive modifiers and defensive modifiers DO stack.


Interesting, I didn't know this. Does it say expressly so in the rulebook?


YEP, top of page 16 in the rulebook.

Read the section clled FIXED OBSTACLES
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fortune
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Stare into my eyes and feel the irresistible urge to check out my profile overpowering you...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks again! I edited that sentence of the review.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Vinny Tee
Canada
Ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Fortune wrote:
With that said, I still find the theme a bit lacking in content. First off, there are no airborne units, only some cards like "Air Power" boasting airstrikes in a random fashion. World war in 1944 without a decent airfight? Sounds like an AC/DC show without Highway to Hell or Thunderstruck. I miss the anti-tank units too. How the hell could a normal infantry unit score hits against a squadron of Panzers? You'd need bigger guns there than a Thompson. Let's also mention the total absence of naval forces, which is almost ridiculous given that allied assaults on Normandy were heavily supported with naval bombardment. I won't even complain about snipers, scouting and anti-artillery units or motorized infantry missing from the game.

Memoir '44 offers a simplified army structure in exchange for easy gameplay and easy rules. I get it, this is not Tide of Iron and wasn't meant to be. Let it also be said, that the game is very enjoyable without those pieces too and will get you in the WWII mood in no time. It is still authentic, just lacks a bit of depth.



The expansions, especially the Air Pack and the Campaign Book, have added much more depth to the game. The Air Pack added a whole new set of rules for airplanes along with new airplane minis. Some of the other expansions have added rules for snipers, anti tank guns, etc... New forces were added such as the British, Russian and Japanese. I think that Memoir '44 shines with the expansions. The base game alone is good but becomes great, in my opinion, when the expansions are added.

I highly recommend you pick up the expansions for the game. Once you get your hands on the expansion packs, I would guess, your score for this section would go up.
1 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fortune
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Stare into my eyes and feel the irresistible urge to check out my profile overpowering you...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with you and I am well aware of the expansions. Probably I'll pick up a few, esp. the Air Pack, the Terrain Pack and the Pacific Theater. Then again, a base game should have contained at least a few aeroplanes.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael J
United States
Folsom
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review. I agree with pretty much ALL of it.

I played M44 this past weekend for the first time. I've ALWAYS been interested in playing it. Other gamers at meetups have set it out, and it looked like something I had to try. But most of the time, the players that were playing it had agreed beforehand to play together, so I never really got into a game. But the game sure looked pretty! Kudos to DOW for great presentation.

Your comment that you "became prepared and willing to play with heavier wargames with more depth and more focus on realism" echoes mine exactly. I too was "raised" on Panzer General I & II. M44 was a great first foray back into the physical wargaming world.

After playing 3 scenarios so far, I think there might be far more tactics and strategy than I used. I am already thinking of ways I can improve for next game.
1 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Phil McDonald
England
Staffordshire
UK
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Fortune wrote:
Thanks again! I edited that sentence of the review.


It's logical too when you think of say a fortification with sandbags. If the defensive modifiers were cumulative it would give a 3 dice penalty making the unit inside completely impervious to tank attack.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fritz Mulnar
Germany
Berlin
not Bavaria
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
like your review. short, concise.

i for myself like coco a or battlelore better. the division of the battlefield in flanks and center doesnt feel as ahistorical for me as in memoir.
and my ww2 itch is already scratched by combatcommmander...
1 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fortune
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Stare into my eyes and feel the irresistible urge to check out my profile overpowering you...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
philmcd wrote:
Fortune wrote:
Thanks again! I edited that sentence of the review.


It's logical too when you think of say a fortification with sandbags. If the defensive modifiers were cumulative it would give a 3 dice penalty making the unit inside completely impervious to tank attack.


You're right.

What really annoys me is the ability of infantry to directly attack tanks. But this inaccuracy is somehow balanced by the die chances of hitting a tank (33% compared to the 50% chance of infantry hits).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fortune
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Stare into my eyes and feel the irresistible urge to check out my profile overpowering you...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
superjosef wrote:
like your review. short, concise.

i for myself like coco a or battlelore better. the division of the battlefield in flanks and center doesnt feel as ahistorical for me as in memoir.
and my ww2 itch is already scratched by combatcommmander...


It's hard to resist... the next delivery of games in October will certainly include CoCo.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
StevenE Smooth Sailing...
United States
Torrance
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Fortune wrote:


What really annoys me is the ability of infantry to directly attack tanks.



I am pretty sure that this has bothered tankers from the beginning... Aside from a direct attack what other ways did infantry attack tanks in WWII?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Phil McDonald
England
Staffordshire
UK
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
StevenE wrote:
Fortune wrote:


What really annoys me is the ability of infantry to directly attack tanks.



I am pretty sure that this has bothered tankers from the beginning... Aside from a direct attack what other ways did infantry attack tanks in WWII?


Well, we come back to the fact that Memoir isn't intended to be a wargame as such, just a war themed game.

An infantry unit represents a mixed platoon, including heavy machine gun and bazooka/piat or panzerschrek/panzerfaust. (or sticky bombs/Molotov cocktails in urban areas)

A simple house rule reducing infantry range when attacking armour to 1 or 2 hexes would make it 'more realistic' if you wish, but realism isn't what the game was aiming for.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.