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Subject: Fast Play '44 Rules - an alternative rule set. rss

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Chris Roper
South Africa
Hout Bay
Western Cape
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Memoir ’44 is a “Commands and Colors” Game of WWII Combat by game designer Richard Borg, and published by Days of Wonder. Fast Play '44 is a set of rules that uses the components and scenarios from the Memoir ’44 game, apart from the Cards, and allows for very free flowing fast paced battles. They were not developed in conjunction with Richard Borg or Days of Wonder, please do not approach them for support if you choose to use these rules.

By removing the cards two of the major elements of “Commands and Colors” are lost, Card driven Hand Management and Board Sections, therefore, Fast Play ‘44 is not so much a variant but rather a replacement rule set, and your strategy and tactics will be entirely different as a result, think of it as a new game but using the components you already own.

It makes Solitaire Play less complex and to make up for the lack of tactics cards, It also adds some new concepts into the system in the form of Opportunity Fire (OpFire), Defensive Fire, Suppression, and Assaults. As both Players are involved at all times due to OpFire, Defensive Fire and the limited number of Units that may be Ordered per turn, there is little down time and both players must remain alert.

It is assumed that players are familiar with the “Commands and Colors” rules for the game, this document only addresses the differences in play.

1) Setup:
1.1 Setup is exactly the same as setting up a “Commands and Colors” scenario with the exception that no cards are dealt, instead the players are allocated CP’s (Command Points) equal to the number of cards indicated in the scenario.

2) Command:
2.1 Each side may have a different allocation of CP’s and CP’s may be lost or gained in the same way that the original card hand could be reduced or increased.

2.2 CP’s are spent to order units anywhere on the board, the section lines have no meaning in Fast Play ‘44 Rules.

2.3 When a players CP’s are used up or the player has no more units eligible to be Ordered, the initiative moves to the opponent (it becomes the opponent's Turn).

2.4 Any remaining CP’s are lost and may NOT be carried over to the next turn.

3) Issuing Orders:
3.1 To order a unit the player expends a CP.

3.2 A Unit may only be ordered once per turn.

3.3 Units may be Ordered and used one at a time, unlike “Commands and Colors” you do not have to select all the units to be ordered in advance.

3.4 An ordered unit may Move, Battle, “Move and Battle” if eligible, or receive an Opportunity Fire (OP Fire) marker.

4) Move:
4.1 All movement costs and restrictions of the “Commands and Colors” rules are used, including scenario specific restrictions and road movement bonuses.

4.2 When moving in range of a unit marked for OP fire the opponent may interrupt the move and perform a Ranged Combat attack on the moving Unit (See Opportunity Fire below). If the moving unit survives the attack, was not forced to retreat and is not suppressed (see Suppression below), it may continue to move if it has movement still available.

4.3 If the unit is eligible and wishes to battle after moving, it does so immediately. (This is different from “Commands and Colors” rules which states that ALL units are moved and then ALL eligible units may battle).

5) Battle:
5.1 A unit may only battle once per turn.

5.2 Battles are resolved using the “Commands and Colors Dice”.

5.3 All Terrain and Unit battle restrictions, including scenario specific rules, apply.

5.4 A unit that is adjacent to one or more enemy unit’s must battle an adjacent unit if it wishes to battle, it may not battle a unit further away.

5.5 Battles are divided into two categories, Ranged Combat and Assault.

5.6 Ranged Combat
5.6a Ranges and the number of dice rolled are the same as the original “Commands and Colors” game and are subject to the same terrain battle die reductions.

5.6b Ranged fire may be used against an adjacent unit.

5.6c Ranged Combat is resolved in the same way as the original “Commands and Colors” game with the exception that Grenade results do not remove a figure, rather the target receives a level of suppression (see Suppression below).

5.6d All flag results are treated as per the original “Commands and Colors” rules with the exception that if a unit would be forced to retreat off the board, it MAY do so rather than taking a hit (see Withdrawal below). If the player wishes to leave his unit in play, such Flag results are taken as hits per the original “Commands and Colors” rules.

5.6e If the target hex is adjacent and is vacated as a result of the battle, a Unit employing Ranged Combat MAY “Take Ground” and perform an “Overrun Attack“ where eligible (This is different from an Assault, where the attacker is forced to take the vacated hex).

5.6f After all die results are applied, a defender that survives, was not forced to retreat, that is not suppressed and has not already done so, may choose to Defensive Fire (see Defensive Fire below).

5.7 Assult
5.7a If the attacker declares an assault and the target is NOT suppressed or marked as Battled, the defender will be able to Fire on the Assaulting unit, prior to the Assault, using Opportunity or Defensive Fire.

5.7b If the attacker survives any Opportunity or Defensive Fire attack by the defender, without being suppressed, eliminated or forced to retreat, it may now roll the number of dice as per the original “Commands and Colors” game and subject to the same terrain battle die reductions.

5.7c Grenades count as hits, rather than Suppression, during Assaults.

5.7d All flag results are treated as per the original “Commands and Colors” rules with the exception that if a unit would be forced to retreat off the board, it MAY do so rather than taking a hit(see Withdrawal below). If the player wishes to leave his unit in play, such Flag results are taken as hits per the original “Commands and Colors” rules.

5.7e If the Defender is Eliminated or forced to retreat, the Attacker MUST “Take Ground” as part of the momentum of the Assault, and MAY perform an “Overrun Attack” if eligible.

5.8f A unit that retreats from an Assault automatically receives two levels of Suppression(see Suppression below).

6) Opportunity fire:
6.1 An Ordered Unit may receive an Op Fire marker instead of Battling. A Unit with an OpFire marker is deferring its opportunity to Battle to the Opponent's turn.

6.2 A SWA Unit that moves is not eligible to be marked for OP Fire.

6.3 Any other Unit that moves may be marked for OP Fire, provided it is eligible to battle after moving, but does not do so.

6.4 The OpFire marker is removed and lost if the unit is Suppressed (see Suppression below).

6.5 If a unit OpFire's its OpFire marker is removed and It may still be eligible for Defensive Fire (see below). This does not violate the one Battel per turn rule as the the OP Fire was paid for and deferred, as part of the previous turn.

6.6 OpFire is always resolved as ranged Combat even if the target is adjacent.

7) Defensive Fire:
7.1 Any unit that is fired on, and is not suppressed (see Suppression below) is entitled to return fire ONCE per turn.

7.2 Defensive Fire is never compulsory, the player may choose if and when to Defensive Fire.

7.3 If the Defensive Fire is not taken during the opposing players turn, the opportunity is lost and may not be carried forward or accumulated.

7.4 A unit being Assaulted may Defensive Fire Prior to the Assault.
All other Defensive fire attacks are resolved after taking any hits.

7.5 A Unit that retreats is not eligible to Defensive fire in that battle, but retains the right to Defensive fire in a subsequent battle.

7.6 A unit that Defensive Fires is marked as battled and may not battle again that turn.

7.7 Defensive Fire is always conducted against the attacking unit even if there is an an enemy unit adjacent.

7.8 Defensive Fire is always resolved as Ranged Combat even if the target is adjacent.

8) Suppression:
8.1 During Ranged Combat, Grenade results are treated as Suppression results.

8.2 A unit may receive up to TWO levels of Suppression.

8.3 A Unit with TWO levels of Suppression takes all subsequent Grenade results as hits and loses figures accordingly.

8.4 A suppressed Unit may NOT Battle.

8.5 A Suppressed Unit may NOT move, however, if issued an Order it may retreat its FULL movement allowance, ignoring terrain movement restrictions (Impassable terrain remains impassable), towards the players side of the board. If the retreat would take it off the board then Withdrawal Rules apply (see below), if the player wishes to leave his unit in play any additional moves are taken as hits.

8.6 Retreating in this manner allows the Unit to Rally, after moving It is no longer Suppressed and may be eligible for Defensive Fire.

8.7 One level of suppression, if any, is removed from all of the players units at the start of that player's turn.

9) Withdrawal:
9.1 A unit MAY move or be retreated off the board and It will NOT count as a medal.

9.2 A Withdrawn Unit is lost and may not reenter the game.

9.3 A Withdrawal may be performed as a result of spending a CP or if one or more Flags are rolled against the Unit in Combat.

9.4 A Unit that is Withdrawing does so as a retreat move, as such it may ignore terrain movement restrictions. Impassable terrain, however, remains Impassable.

10) Artillery:
10.1 As per the original “Commands and Colors” rules Artillery are only hit on Grenades.

10.2 In fast play ‘44 rules grenades are a suppression result during ranged combat, therefore, Artillery would only be able to be eliminated in Assault Combat. Combined with the fact that they can be ordered every turn this makes Artillery a formidable unit. To compensate, whilst artillery may still move as per the original “Commands and Colors” rules it can NOT retreat as a result of Flags, therefore, any Flags rolled against Artillery are treated as hits.

10.3 Grenades are still applied as suppression results and suppressed artillery can NOT fire.

10.4 A Suppressed Artillery unit may still rally as outlined in the Suppression Rules above, but it may only Defensive Fire as an Infantry Unit for that turn(The Guns have been Towed to the new position and not yet set up).

11) Endgame:
11.1 The Scenario is played to the same number of Victory Medals as indicated in the scenario setup, however due to the ability to retreat units off the board, a situation may arise where the medal count is no longer reachable. In this case the Side that has retreated all of its Units off the board loses the battle and Victory is awarded to the opponent at the full medal count of the scenario.

12) Nations:
12.1 Red Army
12.1a Red Army receives one less CP than the number of cards indicated in the scenario.

12.2 US Marine Corps
12.2a US Marine Corps receives one more CP than the number of cards indicated in the scenario.

12.3 British Commonwealth Forces
12.3a The Stiff Upper Lip Battle Back is allowed at any time and does not replace Opportunity or Defensive Fire.
12.3b The Target does not get to Battle.

12.4 Italian Royal Army
12.4a Reduce CP’s by one per Unit lost to a minimum of 3 CP’s.

12.5 French Army
12.5a The Second Assault is allowed and does not replace Opportunity or Defensive Fire.
12.5b The Target does not get to Battle.


This is a fast moving game that introduces some new concepts but remains accessible to new players. Consider it as similar to “Samurai” where one game has two different sets of rules. The author has nothing against “Commands and Colors” Rules and highly recommends that players continue to use them, the Fast Play ‘44 Rules, however, offer a change of pace occasionally for veteran players, a nice alternative for solo play and leverages your existing investment in Memoir ’44. They also act as a stepping stone for Memoir ’44 players towards more traditional wargames by introducing the concepts of Suppression, Opportunity and Defensive Fire.

The Suppression and Assault rules add an entirely new dimension to the game and encourage players to have units cooperate as assault teams and lay down suppressing fire before assaulting a hex, it also means that provided Opportunity and Defensive Fire are used properly, units are not going to sit helpless, unable fire a shot, whilst their hex is over run.

It should be noted that the Scale used in “Commands and Colors” Scenarios may vary widely, with most Historical Scenarios being at the Company or Brigade level. Fast Play ‘44 treats all scenarios as if they were squad level, a hangover from my Squad Leader days, and therefore, further distort the scale. If you play these Rules with Memoir ‘44 Scenarios it will unbalance them in many ways, but the test games I have played have always been close, closer in fact than the same scenario played with “Commands and Colors” Rules in several instances.

Try it, you may like it.


EDIT: Added Nations Special Rules
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Mike Austin
United States
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I've been looking for exactly this kind of alternative approach to the Memoir '44 system. You have pulled together a decent compromise between the beer-and-pretzel nature of the "Command and Colors" system and more complex combat simulation systems. I'm giving these rules a try right now.

One suggested addition: As one of the CP orders, allow infantry or artillery units to Dig In (create sandbags).

Also, I think it might be interesting to try to incorporate some of the Command cards into this system, either on a scenario-specific basis or through some randomized mechanism like each player gets to draw X number of Command cards at the beginning of the game, or drawing a Command card requires X number of CPs (maybe all CPs for one turn?).

The Command cards that would be good to include in this rule would be:
* Their Finest Hour
* Behind Enemy Lines
* Infantry Assault (x 2)
* Armor Assault
* Close Assault
* Barrage
* Artillery Bombard
* Air Power
* Medics & Mechanics

That's 10 cards. So, for example, maybe each player draws 3 Command cards at the beginning of the scenario. Of course, for historical accuracy, some of these cards may not make sense in certain scenarios.

Something to think about...

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