Board game review: Memoir 44

by . Originally posted

The other day, during a semi-regular board game night, I had the privilege of trying out 3 entirely new games. The first one I’m going to review was called Memoir 44, a military based 2 player table-top strategy game. (We actually played it 4 players, with 2 people democratically controlling each force)

The game is played upon one side of a two-side board, with the surface split into hexagons. These acts as your ‘squares’, with various separate tiles overlaid upon the hexes to represent different terrain (such as rivers, forests, towns etc). You all have a variety of little models which represent either infantry, tanks or artillery. The more models of one type you have in a hex, the healthier / stronger the unit is.

The rulebook comes with a series of historical encounters, mapping out the board with specific terrain layouts and troop starting positions. Thankfully we used the easiest set up and I personally acted on behalf of the allies, which needless to say had succeeded in surprising the Germans, so we had a game weight towards a win from the outset. The mission itself was a re-enactment of the Pegasus Bridge operation that occurred very early on in the invasion of Normandy campaign.

The game physics is actually fairly simple, especially as we we’re only dealing with infantry (The allies glided into their targets… so no tanks or artillery to back them up). Infantry can move far, or move a shorter distance and still shoot. They cannot move or fire through another unit, while movement and firing is restricted if you’re stood within a forest or tangled up to your waist in barb-wire.

The main difference I noticed with this game over the few other table-top military games I’ve played, is that you’re limited in this one to how you control your units, this is controlled by Order Cards.

At the start of the game, the allies were given 6 Order cards (the axis only 2 I think), and at the start of your go you select which single card you want to play. An example of an order would include being able to control all the infantry on the left flank (the board is split into three segments; left flank, centre and right flank), while another order might be to control a single unit from every segment. This is where a lot of the strategy comes in; succesfully ordering a few units at a time.

Our mission, as per the historical mission, was to take the two bridges and / or remove a signficiant portion of the Germans from the surrounding countryside.

The main bridge (Pegasus Bridge) was fairly well defended, with dug in Germans and barb wire. This combined with some rather tedious poor rolling (by myself) meant we lost a few more men than we should have. However we used a special Order to double some of our units speed, essentially surrounding one German unit and forcing them to retreat into some nearby woods. Seperated now, the dug-in Germans quickly got finished off for our first Allied point. We then were able to redirect our forces and attack the weak flank of the Germans, forcing them from their safe forest environment and taking the secondary bridge with relative ease (naturally due to great strategies employed by the Allies đŸ™‚

With us only moments away from victory, the Germans were forced to bomb the bridge we had just captured in an attempt to force us from holding our target. Rolling 4 dice, they very luckily managed the 1 in 16 chance they needed. Destroying our unit.

Needless to say we have reinforcement just behind this unit (Surviving on the motto: “always be prepare”), to take the bridge on the next round.

With a bridge under our control and 3 German units vanquished from the board, the Allies took an easy win.

The game itself played very well, with the very simple rules of terrain and distance effecting your units quite easy to pick up. The use of order cards makes it more strategic than just ‘the guy with the most units win’. In fact we only lost 1 unit because the enemy couldn’t retaliate on a certain flank, something we quickly exploited.

I sadly only got to play one game, which lasted about 30-45 minutes, but would like to play another. We also didn’t use the other 2 unit types; tanks and artillery, or the other side of the board which allows for beach warfare.

I probably would have rated this game higher if I had had the time to experience more of what it had to offer. Overall an enjoyable time had blowing up the Germans đŸ™‚

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