Thursday, 4 August 2016

A Broad Overview of Memoir 44 & Its Many Expansions


Memoir 44: A Richard Borg Game


The Core game


Many people like the idea of playing some sort of historical wargame, but simply don’t have the time to invest into such a big undertaking. There are of course others out there who, let’s be frank, simply don’t have the historical bug... the drive and inkling needed to sustain such an interest, or the desire to play some of the epic (and complicated) wargames the industry has released. Perhaps more accurately, the mental drive to want to invest such a lot of their hobby time to go in depth enough to get a lot out of such a mammoth endeavour, might easily be likened to taking a university degree....  i.e. not necessarily everyone`s cup of tea.

Enter center stage.... a comfortable light wargame which takes only an hour or so to play. The pinnacle system for light wargames is of course, Richard Borg’s Command and Colours system. Days of Wonder’s Memoir 44 is indeed a light wargame, simulating the battles of Europe during World War II.



What is it:

Memoir ’44 can be played by two players in about 30-60 minutes (though I would double that at least for playing solo: as the soloist tends to like to take his/her time a bit more, and really savour the game, the aesthetics, and the full on immersion). Given that it’s a wargame, its rules are rather simple. Almost absurdly so actually, but you know what.. it really really works.

The game has18 battles in the scenario book.. and while there’s only this limited set of scenarios in the base game, Days of Wonder has done a great job in supporting the community online, with literally dozens (and maybe by this time hundreds) of additional free fan base and professionally created scenarios to add to your game.

Memoir 44 centres its theme very firmly on the events of D Day and the war after that momentous event in history (1944/45): though additional expansion sets do indeed work backwards and cover the scope of the entire war.

The first scenario in the book is the classic battle of Saint Mere Eglise, and then we have the legendary British commando assault on Pegasus Bridge.

The game is played to a set number of victory medals, and these medals are usually gained by wiping out an entire unit of troops, tanks or artillery; or by capturing specific mission objectives such as bridges or towns.

Players use Command cards to order different unit types, or units on different sides of the battle.. to move and attack their opponent. Players alternate playing cards (or if playing solo, play the enemy hand blindly) until the required number of medals are gained. Command cards generally activate units for movement and attack, but there are special ones that heal, make air strikes, call special mortar strikes, etc (calling in off board attacks can be thrillingly exciting, especially in American/Japanese jungle type games: which have a real Vietnam war feel to it).

To attack, you simply calculate the distance to the unit you’re attacking (which gives you the number of dice to attack with), add terrain modifiers (generally weakening your attack), and roll to get hits on the enemy unit. Each hit removes a miniature from the board and after the last is removed (each is a four man or three tank squad), the opponent scores one `squad kill` medal. One side of the die, the flag, forces opponents to retreat one or more spaces.

There are three different types of units in this basic core game: Troops (infantry), Armour (tanks), and Artillery. Each of them attack at different ranges and have different movement speeds. Infantry form the backbone of your army, though they move relatively slowly and have weaker firepower unless right on top of the enemy. Tanks are very mobile and have high firepower but other units can find some excellent cover from tanks, by using terrain to hide in. Lastly, there is the artillery, which has extremely low movement but has incredible range and firepower. Artillery is also the most difficult to hit and ignores line of sight when choosing their attacks, making it extremely damaging to the other side.


Feel and Tone

Memoir 44 is easily to get into. Nothing in the rules is even remotely complicated. You could literally tear open the box and be playing within half an hour of reading the rules. The relatively few number of units in this base set makes the game and the basic strategies required, very easy to pick up. The game will teach you the basic wargame strategies like using terrain effectively, moving your units cohesively, and retreating units that are likely to give the enemy an easy medal.

The game breaks itself into two types of battles: Clashes where both sides are fairly well positioned against one another, and assaults where one side has a solid defensible position that the other side must overcome.

One important point to call out here is that the battles are definitely not balanced. Much like real war, there’s no such thing as a fair fight. While some battles approach a fair 50/50 battle...  many are not. In particular, the D-Day scenarios are particularly hard and gruellingly bloody for the Allied troops (as one might expect), but these one-sided fights make for a good challenge and effectively simulate the difficulties of war.

While the game does not simulate grand battles (many of the battles feel like smaller skirmishes), Memoir 44 does a good job at giving you the feeling of being a captain on the field, controlling a smaller piece of the battlefield. You feel as though every move you make is a decision which could cause you to retreat or allow you to take the high ground. There are moments when you feel all is lost, yet a well rolled attack will bring you right back into the fight. These sorts of moments give you that good feeling of a struggle that you’ll have to play hard to win; A feeling that every good wargame should strive for. What I especially like is what I call the `fluctuating figure scale` approach. Depending upon the scenario you have chosen to play, in some games the figures might feel more like they are set at small skirmish level... i.e. 1 man to 10, or even 1 to 1 scale. Another game might have an abstract 1 figure to 20 men feel.... and in the truly huge battles, a small 4 figure unit might represent an entire platoon, a company, or perhaps an entire battalion.

This all means the game never gets to feel same-y or leaves you feeling: `been there, done that.`

Components

All the components that come with the base set of Memoir 44 are top notch. The board, dice, and miniatures representing the units are all excellent. The scenario booklet that comes with the game details the battles with clear illustrations and a brief but informative history of the encounter.

There’s a fair amount of luck in the game via the drawing of Command cards as well as the dice rolls for the attacks. I’ve played a few games where I’ve drawn a terrible first hand with Command cards that influence sides of the battlefield where I have very few troops. While these are certainly playable, they do make the game harder when the enemy has cards that help parts of the battlefield, especially where he might have a larger number of troops than you. Most of the time however, the cards have been fairly balanced and clever use of them has strongly influenced the strategic element of the game. The same can be said about the dice rolls. Nothing can be more upsetting than attacking an infantry unit with a tank and managing to miss every shot (infantry are not stupid after all, and I like to think this represents their veteran sergeant yelling: “Get down, we have incoming”  though generally good strategy will overcome poor dice rolls.

Luck definitely plays a factor overall, but clever use of terrain and unit movement will usually give you the upper hand; and the cards decks are so very customisable, it would be so easy to `stack them` (especially playing solo) in the favour of which ever side you are rooting to win. Terrain tiles in particular can influence line of sight, number of attack dice, and ability to move. Terrain plays a key part in the game’s strategy and effectively using it can mean the difference between life or death for your little soldiers... victory or defeat.

Mechanics

The Commands and Colours system is a great system.The rules are simple, yet allow for great depth in decisions. The system creates a game where you feel in absolute control. While there is a great deal of luck in the Command cards (some cards are obviously better than others), they represent a sort of “fog of war” where you do not know what your opponent is capable of at any given time.

Replayability

While the game comes with 18 scenarios, which are generally broken into clash and assault types of battles. The scenarios do feel very different in terms of terrain, objectives, and units supplied to each side. It is, however, dead easy to make up your own scenarios, so you might well after a while start looking towards your favourite war films: The Dirty Dozen, A Bridge Too far, and The Longest Hour, etc.

Overall

Overall, I’d rate this game a solid 10 out of 10. There’s enough meat here to keep you playing for a long time, and that’s with just the core set alone. For me, I love military history so the theme falls right in line with the limited number of hours I have available to devote to a serious game.


Memoir 44 Campaign Book, Volume Two
Any review of an expansion is, by definition, aimed at those who’ve either already played the game or are interested in seeing if they’re willing to invest in a game system that’s popular enough to spawn an expansion or two.
In the case of the Memoir 44 Campaign Book Volume Two this is actually the 16th published expansion for this particular version of Richard Borg’s Command & Colours system… so that should tell you a lot about this game.
Its an absolute winner!!!
What is this campaign bit all about?
The Campaign Books (along with the additional web-released campaigns, The Vercors Campaign & The Audie Murphy Campaign) offer a way to chain Memoir 44 scenarios together in order to experience a series of battles to create a full campaign. Two added game mechanics (Reserve & Victory Rolls) combine with scenario & campaign specific effects to give a unique feel to each series of battles and reward the victor with some “spoils of war” to enhance his chances in the next battle. Some of the campaigns offer optional “What If?” rolls that can vary the campaign in more drastic ways.
Campaigns vary in length – usually 4-6 battles… and there are Grand Campaigns as well, which tie together multiple campaigns to cover larger sections of World War Two.
What expansions do I need to use this book?
Obviously, you need a copy of the Memoir 44 base game. But beyond that:
§  The Island Hoppers Grand Campaign (which consists of four campaigns: Guadalcanal, Marshall Islands, Marianas & Palau Islands and Home Islands) requires a copy of the Pacific Theater expansion.
§  The Bicycle Blitzkrieg & Fall of Poland campaigns require tiles from the Terrain Pack expansion (though you could do without those in a pinch). Of course, the Bicycle Blitzkrieg campaign would look nicer if you had the Japanese troops from the Pacific Theater expansion.
§  The Break Through Normandy Grand Campaign requires the Breakthrough map boards (which could also be the paper Breakthrough map from the Campaign Bag) as well as tiles from the Terrain Pack (in such quantity that would be a bit tougher to “fake” your way through). Though not required, it would also be great to have a copy of the Winter Wars expansion for the Break Through command card deck – the extra fluidity of movement makes the Break Through scenarios flow better.
§  The Air Aces campaign requires the Air Pack expansion: but this is no longer in print, though available on eBay at very high prices, when you can find a copy.


Wait a minute, isn't the Air Pack out of print… why did Days of Wonder include a campaign in a new book for something that’s difficult to acquire?!

To quote Richard Borg a moment:
{{No, we have no plans to reprint the Air Pack (in this form or any other), as the costs to do so would be prohibitive.
The reason we went ahead and included this (small) Air Aces campaign at the end of Volume 2 is because the other campaigns in the book ran longer than initially planned, so we had to increase the page count in this volume 2 from 112 pages to 128 pages (due to the way pages are bound, the page count in a book like this go up in 16 pages increments).
The Air Aces campaign was short enough to fit in the few remaining pages we had, so we added it in as a bonus for people that own the Air Pack.
For those of you that were not able to acquire the Air Pack while in print, we will post a free PDF of the Air Rules on our web site at the same time the Campaign Book volume 2 ships.}}


Do I need the first Campaign Book (Volume One) in order to use this one?
Nope… the Campaign & Grand Campaign rules work the same way in both books. What you’re getting is 46 new scenarios tied together into 11 different campaigns. The Campaigns Book Volume One is out of print, by the way.
§  the parachute drop scenarios at the opening of Break Through Normandy have some of the “wonder where we’ll land?” craziness of the earliest paratroop scenarios – but when played out on the Breakthrough mapboard, the scattering of forces becomes a more difficult challenge. (Take a hint from my own mistakes and consolidate your forces before lunging for victory point objectives. My German forces easily cleared out lone paratroop units for the win.)
§  the Bicycle Blitzkrieg throws an overwhelming number of Japanese troops at beleaguered British defenders… and only by careful management of your limited resources can you hold them off long enough.
I’m extremely pleased with variety of theaters of operation – it’s nice to have both Pacific & European campaigns.
I especially appreciate the suggestions in the rules for “making do” if you don’t have a particular expansion. (Example: the paratroop drop scenarios both use the Night rules… but offer an alternate way to have the same effect if you don’t own the Night rules board). This is a nice touch for those who don’t have a veritable ton of Memoir 44 boxes in their collections.
Do I need to own this?
For the Memoir 44 collector, this is a no-brainer. There are 46 new scenarios stuffed into a nice hardbound book – what’s not to like?!
The barrier to entry for this campaign is actually lower than Volume 1… owning the base game as well the Pacific Theater & Terrain Pack expansions will enable you to play 6 of the 11 included campaigns. And anything that encourages more people to try and/or invest in the Breakthrough maps is a good thing. If you enjoy Memoir 44, you’ll love the Breakthrough scenarios (especially with the use of the Breakthrough deck in the Winter Wars expansion pack).
Eastern Front expansion
A small box expansion that delivers Russians and a bunch more Terrain tiles to the game. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Russians in World War II, I think…. mmm time to play STALINGRAD.
What’s the draw of the Eastern Front expansion?

Like the Pacific Theater and the Mediterranean expansions, the Eastern Front also provides an additional set of figurines for a new army – the Soviet infantry, artillery, and armour (all with their unique look) as well as new terrain tiles with their specific effects. The Eastern Front also includes 8 battle scenarios. However the last scenario requires terrain tiles from the Terrain Pack expansion, and the 7th scenario is an Overlord scenario which requires 2 base games to play.
The catch with those last 2 scenarios essentially means that there are just 6 new scenarios to play out of the box. But even with that limit, you`ll be glad you bought a copy of this set. Everything about this expansion cries out c..c…c..cold. Bitter Russian winters (course, it’s not always cold in Russia, but I always think of Stalingrad and freezing German Stormtroopers freezing their monkeys off in some city dwelling, three walled ruined warehouse, with a Russian squad or two only meters away, silently digging tunnels to get at them). Winters so cold they had to light fires under the fuel tanks just to get their vehicles de-iced and working.
Memoir 44 Equipment Pack
The first things Memoir 44 Equipment Pack offers is an huge amount of plastic bits absolutely jam packed into a big box. One of the vehicles in the box, the Hobart’s Funny, has several different accessories that you can use in different scenarios, from mine digger to assault bridge, just inserting the piece in small hole on the vehicle. They suggest to glue some things but it is not really needed.
This big box is simply crammed full of goodies, and if you like goodies and assembling and choosing options, this baby is for you. The sheer bulk Memoir 44 extras this set adds to your games is truly staggering.
The complete list of bits you get amounts to more than 100 miniatures... including French Infantry, Polish Cavalry, Finnish Sky Troop and Italian Artillery and another 24 artilleries miniatures going from Long Tom Big Guns to Flak 88. You`ll really like the Nebelwerfer figures and the smoke shells rules. You get 6 Landing Crafts and the 6 Hobert’s Funnies with the accessories. Than a fistful of tanks: 3 Tigers, 3 Sd.Kfz 250 and 6 Elephant Panserjager; 12 vehicles including 6 Kubelwagen command cars (that's right, the ones which always seem to end up crashing and turning over in the war films); Snipers and special weapons.
Do you need these figures to play Memoir 44 ? Of course not, but you can also play the winter scenarios on the normal map using the US Army instead of the Russian soldiers. But if you like to play a simple and easy tactical wargame like Memoir 44... diving deeply and immersing into the atmosphere of the Second World War, it is much easier using the Long Tom figures instead of the yellow Long Tom Counter or having a real sniper figure in your Stalingrad battle instead of a normal figure with the sniper counter beside it.

The pack includes two books: a rulebook and a scenario book. The rulebook shows you how to use all the figures in the box and also a chapter about the different new victory conditions.
This expansion does not include any cardboard counters. Of course, you no longer need to mark any special troops, now you have the right figure to use.. woohooo!!! Begone foul counters hahaha.
The scenario book includes 11 Standard, 4 Overlord and 2 Breakthrough battles almost all requesting tiles from previous expansions. I think this is not a real problem because the main target of Memoir 44 Equipment Pack is having the miniatures for all the special types of unit in play... up to now only represented by cardboard  tokens. Of course all the scenarios in this expansion are using some of the special new figures included in the box.
Pacific Theatre
As the name suggests the Pacific Theatre focuses on the battles that took place in the Pacific and in particular it highlights the key battles fought between the Imperial Japanese Army and the US Marine Corps. The scenarios cover the time period of 1941-45 and follows the lead taken by the Eastern Front in departing from the time frame of the base game.

As one would expect the game offers a range of new figures, tiles and terrain, tokens and scenarios. But most importantly it offers new rules that vastly alters how the game is played.... in a good way.

The Pacific Theatre comes with 66 new figures to allow the Japanese to enter the fray. All units follow the standard rules of their unit type, unless the Scenario Briefing states otherwise.

Japanese Infantry The Japanese Infantry come in a tan or fawn colour (as do all the Japanese units). The poses for the Japanese are unique to all other previously seen infantry used in the game. The Japanese soldier holds his gun in two hands and has a staggered pose, suggesting that he is on the march. A small backpack completes the miniature and together it suggests a highly mobile unit. Although simple, I really like the sculpts for the Memoir expansions.
The harder plastic used in the Eastern Front is also evident here and works well.
Armour (Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks) These units are also unique in design. The sculpts are historically accurate representation of the Ha-Go.
Artillery (Type 98 75mm) These are a little more fragile looking than the Russian Artillery and again this is probably due to the Japanese design. You can tell from the appearance that these were designed to be unfolded and set-up quickly... helping the Japanese to stay highly mobile. These units are actually referred to as Anti-Aircraft Guns and this highlights the concerns the Japanese had with the Americans in this theatre.
Terrain - The Pacific Theater offers 13 new terrain tiles to freshen up the gaming experience and offer realistic situations found in the Pacific Theatre: from Beaches, Mountain Caves and Hill Caves, Jungle, Rice Paddies, Fish Ponds, Rivers, Hospital, Supply Tents, Labour Camps, Pacific Villages, Piers, and Trenches.
The sheer amount of extra rule features included in the Pacific set is astounding, allowing the Memoir 44  gamer accurately to represent the unique and interesting peculiarities of this theatre of action during World War II.
Winter/Desert Map Board 
The board is covered in tear resistant material, like the original board. This will ensure it lasts unharmed for a lifetime. One side is covered in a snowy back ground and the other is desert. While it's not necessary to play the game: this board will make the game so much more atmospheric when playing your winter, snow, and desert scenarios. Playing a desert battle in lush green fields is a bit distracting. All in all, even though it's more of an accessory than an expansion, it's exactly the good quality of work you would expect from Days of wonder.
Memoir '44 Winter Wars
Ever since seeing paratroopers fighting in the snow during the Band of Brothers episodes Bastogne and Breaking Point, I’ve been fascinated by the Ardennes Offensive. So obviously when Days of Wonder announced they were releasing a new expansion I just had to have it.
This expansion isn’t so much designed to bring the Ardennes to the Memoir 44, but rather it is a supplement that uses the historical offensive as an umbrella setting to introduce a somewhat disparate bunch of new material into the game. There’s potentially something of interest to any Memoir 44 fan here.

This set contains an absolutely awesome amount of extras for the budding Memoir 44 enthusiast to get their hands on and their teeth into.



The Mediterranean Theater Expansion
The Mediterranean Theater Expansion introduces British Army figures and rules to the Memoir 44 game system, as well as a whole new class of Special Weapon Assets to embed into your infantry units. Also included are eight new historical scenarios in North Africa, 44 new, double-sided Terrain tiles, plus new obstacles, markers, and special-forces badges. All in all... when combined with the desert map, this becomes a really atmospheric depiction of World War II desert warfare.
So you can see. Memoir 44 has lots to collect, is easy to play, easy to learn, and seems to capture that little bit of  `when we were boys` nostalgic past in all of us.
I can not recommend this game highly enough, if you like World War Two, but don`t wish to study it or go into it is great depth, but instead capture the flavour of your favourite war films... then this is most definitely the game you might consider owning in your collection.
Article By Stephen Gilbert.

23 comments:

  1. wowee, you r-e-a-l-l-y know all the games in your collection don`t you. Comes from playing everything you own many, many times I guess, and I know you ALWAYS seems to have at least one or two game on the go, on the games room table at any given time.. and sometimes on the kitchen table too (until you are told to shift them hehe). It tells here. You speak almost conversationally about a topic you are obviously extremely comfortable with discussing.

    Never thought about playing a game like this before, but the broad scope of you review has made me think.. yeah I`d give this a go. Maybe you can guide me through a scenario some time Stevie?

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    1. Sure thing T. I`ll mark you down for a fun game next week end. How you fancy "Where Eagles Dare" (maybe watch the movie before we play). Thanks for the really nice words hun.

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  2. Go easy on him sweetie, he`s only a beginner.


    ..hehe

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  3. An excellent overview of a game that I would love to play. The very first wargame I ever played was WW2, followed soon after by Napoleonic wargaming. But I played far more WW2 games than Napoleonic games. I'm sure this is a great game to own and play and I kind of envy you for having it all.

    But, I am also glad I don't own it. The main reason being is that if I bought the Memoir 44 core set I'd then want to buy all of the expansion sets. I notice you don't mention any prices in your review but do you have any idea how much it would cost to get everything that has been produced for the game? It must run into hundreds of pounds. That would be a huge outlay for anyone, even if you staggered your purchases rather than buying everything at once.

    The second reason for being glad I don't own it is the sheer number of figures included with the game. The thought of painting that many figures fills me with dread because I know that painting them would be such a low priority for me, seeing as I have so many other unpainted figures in my collection. The only way I could do it would be if I got rid of so many of my other games so that I could concentrate solely on Memoir 44. That is not going to happen. Much as I like WW2 gaming I like my other games even more.

    I very nearly bought the Memoir 44 core set earlier this year purely on the basis of your enthusiastic reviews of it. Instead I ended up buying "Airfix Battles" instead for my WW2 gaming fix. I'm glad I did, because the game has so many similarities with Memoir 44 but uses card counters instead of 3D figures, which is a godsend for me as it means no painting. Yay! Plus it is a lot cheaper and it has no expansion sets... yet.

    I'm sorry if this all sounds so negative, as that was not my intention. I am certain I would very much enjoy playing Memoir 44 with a seasoned games master like yourself or other experienced players. I just can't justify buying it and spending so much time and money on something I only have a passing interest in. I am glad you love this game so much and it obviously means a lot to you. That is good and at the end of the day is all that really matters. A great review of what I can see is a great game.

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    1. Hi Bryan, thank you for such a cool long letter of comments... and no, I don’t think you sounded negative at all. First off, I know this is not the sort of game which would appeal to many, and secondly... yes, absolutely. By the very virtue that ( A ) gamers tend nowadays to be `complet-ists` means this game would soon become a massive money drain: and ( B ) this is because, I suspect, it would be very hard just to stop at the base core game. The base game would give you D Day and all the subsequent fighting throughout the last days of the war as the allies slogged their way through `Fortress Europe` and into Germany to neutralise Hitler`s last resolve.

      But the temptation to wonder: ”hmmmm, if I j-u-s-t had the Mediterranean set, I could play the big tank battles and El Alamein.. Rommel and Monty, Desert Fox versus Desert Rat.” And how long before you started to think: “If I only had The Pacific set, I could replay scenes from Guadalcanal or Iwo Jima, and all those other `island hopping` US Marine assaults of WWII (as brilliantly rendered by HBO`s sister series, similar to Band of Brithers ... but simply called `Pacific`) ”.. Or you could take the game to Burma and the British jungle wars of “Aint Half Hot Mum”. Then what about the bitter fighting of Stalingrad!! Then how long before you realise you simply MUST have the equipment pack with all those hundreds of extra tanks and vehicles. And so the list of temptations goes on and on. I know for me, I could never have stopped with just the core boxed set. World War Two has too many bits I would want to play, ever just to be satisfied with restricting myself to a single theatre of it. I couldn’t do it lol

      As for painting the figures mate, the game does offer a ray of sunshine in that department. Days of Wonder did an incredibly useful thing (which I don’t know why other game companies don’t emulate a lot more), all the forces come very well colour matched to the real life counterpart uniforms of the armies of the time. Russian red/green, Japanese sandy/olive green, British khaki, American marine green, and so on and so on. This means you can ( 1 ) play with everything unpainted and it STILL looks amazing. And ( 2 ) you can capture that “How I used to play as a boy” feel and atmosphere. Yes they look amazing painted (all mine are), but I had to struggle a bit for a while, the temptation never to paint them and just use them as they came, was very high. They simply look THAT good unpainted: Days of Wonder really did an excellent job on that account.

      I`m totally sure your "Airfix Battles" is absolutely excellent and probably just what you are looking for, for yourself. Yet I t-h-i-n-k maybe Memoir 44 scores high is that it’s a tried and tested system (Command and Colours) with 18 years of consistent support behind it, and all the expansions... while awfully tempting and a drain on the pocket, never the less WILL, at the end of the day, give you a much richer experience (because it covers ALL theatres of WWII).

      What I DO like about “Airfix Battles” is the pure nostalgia of childhood. What kid didn`t own a ton of Airfix minis back then huh ^^ But again for me, if I were playing Airfix Battles I`d want to use it with unpainted minis... to get the accurate feel of childhood.... no one ever painted anything back then, and if they did, it was badly so, with gloss (usually badly matching) Humbrol paints.

      Prices fluctuate a lot for Memoir 44 and the expansions. Amazon uk, Amazon.com (in America), Infinity Games UK (IGUK), eBay.uk eBay.com (USA), etc etc... ALL sell at varying prices. So one seller may put the base game for £30, another might sell it for $42..plus postage. Another may sell for £60, and so it goes on. Same for the expansions. The Eastern Front one for example, fluctuates wildly, and I have witnessed it as cheap as £22 and as high as $72 US dollars.

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  4. I wholly agree with what you're saying, Steve. My main interest in WW2 is the D-Day landings and the liberation of France. But whilst I could settle for just the core set which covers this period very well (as does Airfix Battles, by the way) a part of me would indeed want to expand to other theatres of war. Staying in Europe 1944-45 are Arnhem, the Battle of the Bulge and the fall of Berlin, all of which interest me greatly. But could I stop there? No. Russia would be a must have for me. And yes, I would want to expand even further. So the North Africa campaign, the invasion of Italy (especially Monte Casino) and the whole Pacific War would draw me in as well and would be a further strain on the wallet. As a self-confessed completist for most games I own I just know I couldn't settle for owning just the core set. Oh no! That would just be the start!

    Yes, I do appreciate that prices can fluctuate a lot depending upon who you buy from. The old adage of it pays to shop around would certainly hold true.

    You mentioned in your reply to Tarot that you're thinking of replaying action from the cracking good film, "Where Eagles Dare". How easy is it to design your own scenarios? Films and fictional books must be a great source of inspiration. But could you, say for example, have a go at something like Operation Sealion if Germany won the Battle of Britain and actually invaded the UK? I'm guessing it is possible and if so, certainly opens up so many interesting possibilities.

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    1. I`ll reply to this in two goes Bryan, I`ll have a go at answering the last bit first. Basically... Yes, yes, and yes again.

      Now, it depends if you want your mission cards to look all professional (like stat cards for say, super dungeon explore or zombicide) in which case you would need to be a dab hand at computer programs like Paint Shop Pro to render your own home crafted ones to look just like the ones that come in the game. But if you don’t mind making up (writing) your own missions... you can do that anyway... it’s really just a matter of designing a nice looking page and printing it out for easy use.

      But yes, you can do this very easily, just like you would do if playing a WWII table top game of Bolt Action or a typical made up Napoleonic wargame for a week end`s play, or what have you.

      Making up your own scenarios based on war films is the easiest... actually dead easy. As you only have the perimeters of the film to have to worry about, copy, and recreate. If you are recreating history, then you need to do a bit of research first before jotting your scenario down to paper. But yes, because Memoir 44 is such a simple set of rules, this means the rules never get in the way of simply playing a good game; and playing doesn’t rely on only playing the pre-written scenarios out there (vast though they be). It’s just as easy to make up your own.

      Now, Operation Sealion is an interesting one. As you know, it was the name Hitler gave to his (supposed) planned invasion of Great Britain back in 1940. Course, it was never carried out during the war as the Germans lost the Battle of Britain. But a little known public fact (which is pretty hushed up, mostly because it takes away from the valour and glory of the RAC who fought and died so bravely, with so many young men making the supreme sacrifice for their country) is the fact that the entire operation (possibly the Battle of Britain too, as Hitler literally... lost interest half way through) ended up being a costly diversion (at the expense of the Goering`a precious Luftwaffe) and it was to cover Hitlar`s actiual main objective... Operation Barbarossa and his surprise attack on Mother Russia. Effectively, history now reveals, and it is believed that Hitler was more interested in the forthcoming attack on Russia than he was ever really serious about invading Britain. An easy victory would have been nice, but it was only a side show. At this time he still firmly believed that a truce with Britain was on the cards.

      But I digress lol sorry I do that when I get caught up in history. Yes Operation Sealion would, again, be very easy to recreate using Memoir 44. Wow yes, I love “what if “ games best, and this would be a wonderful one to do on the table top. Dad`s Army eat your heart out. WOW that would be so cool.

      Basically put, with Memoir 44 it is as easy to play “what if”games as it is in Dungeons and Dragons to make up your own homebrew adventures.

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    2. If your `thaing`  note the southern American drawl there} } is D Day and the subsequent liberation of Belgium and France, then either Airfix Battles or Memoir 44 is the cup of tea for you... of course Memoir 44 has the advantage of being able to expand into other areas, but unless WWII is a main gaming passion, how important is it ever to branch out at all?

      You mention Africa... mmmmm, yes, interestingly I was just reading the M` 44 Mediterranean scenario book the other day, and I see that North Africa would be very atmospheric on the table top. Its making me want to get out my M` 44 and start moving towards playing some of the excellent looking the North Afrika campaign scenarios.

      But then again Monte Casino.... especially if following the (as Pattern called it) “Big Red One” would be absolutely Awesome too (btw there is a great war film with Lee Marvin and a young Mark Hamill called “The Big Red One”, well with seeing).

      Oh GOD this is making me fall in love with my Memoir 44 all over again.

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    3. Thanks for those long and detailed replies, Steve. You can create your own scenarios in Airfix Battles so I guessed the same would be true of Memoir 44, but it's nice to have it confirmed by an expert.

      I, too, have seen "The Big Red One" and thoroughly enjoyed it. We could (and probably will) spend a long time chatting about our favourite WW2 films and books. Something to relish, eh?

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    4. you know if I`d not fallen in love with Memoir 44 for so many years (before finally getting it.... thanks to your extreme generosity *coughs*) I`d have p-r-o-b-a-b-l-y gone for Airfix Battles, like you did. As it is, they are both so similar, it would have been a bit like Buying D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder in the same month.... just too similar to make it worth while. Shame really. I`m amazed you never looked into Tide of Iron, that too is another... and exactly the sort you are looking for. One of Fantasy Flight Games best too.

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  5. oh, one more thing. To be able to play "what ifs" like you describe, all you would need, would be the Memoir 44 base game and (ideally) the Big Box Equipment Pack Expansion (because of all those coooool extra tanks, and armoured card, and jeeps, and lories, etc etc etc).

    That`s all you`d need for that.

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    1. That's good to know, Steve, but I think we both know that if I did buy Memoir 44 I would not stop at buying just one expansion set. ;-)

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  6. Great review Steve, like Bryan I think I'd want the whole lot just because.....lol!
    Seriously though this looks like the skirmish version of Risk! A detailed and battlefield version, with infantry, cavalry and cannon hehehe. I like it, it looks simple but fun and I'm sure with the many, many expansions you could cover every conflict, my fave definitely - Stalingrad! What a battle(s) you could have covering that desperate fight!

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  7. Cheers Andy, and yeah that is the problem: like so many things like this, it can get pretty addictive as the need for more kicks in. HAHA, never thought of it compared to Risk before, but yeah... with some of the big battle scenarios I can see that. Not with the small `Dirty Dozen type ones though.

    Oh man, Stalingrad, played on the big map (two maps wide) this baby r-e-a-l-l-y plays a lullaby, and its not all over what the proverbial fat lady sings. This game shows what it can do once you start to get past those early basic scenarios.

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  8. Undoubtedly one of this site's most fiendish posts yet Steve!! Absolutely terrific posting, with loads of interesting facts and figures, and plenty to entice the unguarded to open their wallets and spend away!! I own a bit of of this game - tried doing it in 20mm once - and love the simplistic rules but devious strategies.

    Once again you demonstrate you are a man after my own heart with this feast of fun, so many many thanks for taking the considerable time to pen this piece and photo it as well. You've certainly tempted me to consider dusting off my 20mm WW2 British and Germans and rebooting my project (its an old article: http://fantorical.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/british-sixth-airborne-division-part.html).

    Looking forward to whatever wonder/s this site next produces... unless of course it completely distracts me from my current project - something you and T are very good at doing ;-)

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  9. SIMMMMMON!!!!!!!! *hugs him*

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  10. Hi Simon, old bean. Thanks for popping over, always really good to see you mate. I`m glad you enjoyed the review-ish romp through Memoir 44 and all its potential gaming delectations. It is a game close to my heart and so really wasn't hard to put that article together. I`m just glad some liked it (dodgy subject historical.. not a subject everyone... in a predominantly fantasy site.. might enjoy).

    Took me a while to get the link to open, but once I worked it out I really enjoyed your airborne thread..... all I can say is more, more, moreeeeee please. Thoroughly enjoyable eye candy to look at and read about.

    *wonders if Simon will now dust off his WWII bits and start breathing new life into them*

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  11. Very nice review, Steve. I can't really say it's my cup of tea, but articles such as this do make me think that I might be missing out. Hmmm, maybe something with Nazis and dinosaurs...

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    1. Tyrannosaurus Reich? Or is that too much?

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  12. heheheee* no sounds fun actually. Oh wait, no its been done!!!!

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  13. I was weaned on historical loooong years before I got hooked on fantasy and sci-fi. For me its the other side of the coin, and I constantly flip that proverbial disc to decide which type of game I want to play any given week... or month.

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