Yesterday afternoon saw Jonathan and myself once more (well for the second time) facing off over the battlefields of Europe during World War Two in the game Memoir '44.
Jonathan had bought along the latest addition to his extensive Memoir collection, the Memoir '44 Tactics and Strategy Guide. This is an epic five hundred plus page book that as the title suggests takes an indepth look at how to play and win at Memoir by recommending various strategies etc for playing the game. The book has been on my radar since it was announced but it's hefty fifty pounds price tag has always put me off. Especially since I wasn't able to look it over before purchasing (draw backs of the interweb).
But Amazon have it at a more affordable price these days, still not cheap, but lighter on the pocket. I have to say this is a nice looking book. I love the clean layout, it's bright, colour pictures. It is a very comprehensive looking book.
Jonathan and I discussed the scenarios we wanted to play this time. Jonathan had wanted to try using a breakthrough scenario, while I wanted to try the Arnham scenario from the base set manual. So with our battlefields for the afternoon set it was time to start playing.
Arnham – Allies
The reason I had wanted to play the Arnham scenario was related to my dad. Dad had been in 2 Para in the late sixties. It was his regiment. Arnham is on the regiments list of battle honours. We all know the story, and seen the movie A Bridge Too Far (well apparently Jonathan hasn't, I'll have to fix that one, along with showing him The Longest Day which he hasn't also seen! Sometimes I forget that some folks have lives unlike me), so I won't go into the details here.
However for me when I watch, read or play something to do with the Paras I'm connecting with Dad, and honouring his memory. It's why even though I don't think I'll get to play Sergeants: Red Devils a World War Two miniatures games again (I've played it once with Nath). It won't leave my collection, it's Dads regiment, it stays.
While we are setting up the scenario I reveal my secret weapon for the afternoon. I had bought with me Captain America to inspire my forces!
Playing as the Allies with the positioning of the two artillery units you have such a commanding advantage. Their use was devistating. Any armour coming over the bridge was easily picked off, the three Axis troop units on our side of the river easily disposed of.
Jonathan wasn't getting the cards to enable him to move his elite units out of his right flank. Plus their movement was slowed by forests when he could move them. No pot shots from his troops over the river because it was too wide. This is a hard scenario for the Axis player.
Naturally giving the scenario I won as the Allies.
Arnham – Axis
My turn now to play as the Axis powers. Would I get better card draw? It seemed odd having Captain America command the Axis powers, the Red Skull would be proud.
My turn as the Axis was slightly different I had the cards to move the elite units, just not the cards to move units in the middle of the board. I did try keeping my units out of range of the Allied guns on my side of the river. Hoping to get the right cards. But to no avail, I was delaying the inevitable.
I did manage to destroy a token unit so it wasn't a complete walk over. A well deserved win for Jonathan.
After my loss as the Axis I decided to look up in the guide what it said about Arnham and tactics it suggested.
According to the strategy guide the Allies win eighty three percent of the games. The guide also said that Arnham is the toughest scenario in the base game. So Jonathan and I shouldn't feel too bad about not winning while playing as the Axis powers.
Now we did have an interesting little question that I came up with during the game. As the Axis forces if I blew up the Arnham bridge would I win? Historically the Paras dropped in to hold the bridge until Allied forces arrived, so if I blew the bridge it would put an end to their objective. However in this scenario the only objective is to score five victory points. I'd love to know what others think on this.
Battle of Abbeville (Breakthough map and scenario) – Axis
Wow the breakthrough map is massive! We even looked at it compared to the anniversary D-Day map or one section. The D-Day map was bigger. I'd love to play the complete massive D-Day scenario, but the amount of space and large tables you would need to play. Wow I can't even imagine them setup.
It took awhile to setup the game, it was almost a game in itself.
As the Axis player you look at the board and think “oh heck, how many tank units?”
I was soon down four units, which meant four victory points to Jonathan. This was going to be a walk over for the Allies. I was going to get thrashed.
Above photo courtesy of Jonathan. Captain America and me
I managed to knock out four Allied units, not only that they were tank units! Our scores were equal. Then Jonathan pulled ahead again knocking out three more units. I began retreating my forces back to the river and my two artillery units. The majority of Jonathan's troops were still near their starting positions. His remaining tanks kept pushing the attack, moving into range of my artillery.
When our scores were tied at six victory points each, I did offer Johnathan a chance to call the game a draw. I knew I was about to get the upper hand, well more like hoping it would play out that way. But it was also part mind games and bluffing. Naturally Johnathan turned down this offer.
As my guns picked off Jonathan's tanks, some of his soldiers started to get in range also. We exchanged fire, but the advantage was mine. My artillery and troops picked off Johnathans forces giving me the victory.
OMG! These breakthrough games are amazing! But boy they are also a lot longer to play. The scenario plays to ten victory points, your forces are much larger. If there was not the “On the move” ability on cards allowing you to move additional units to the ones you command it would take an age to play. I liked the blitz rule, as the Axis player I could use a recon card (I think that's the correct one) as an air power card. Which I did manage to do a couple of times during play.
We didn't have enough time to play the second half where we swap sides. But we have put the tiles we used aside separately so that setup is a lot quicker next time.
What an awesome afternoon playing Memoir '44. I'm so fortunate that I've met some-one who loves playing the game, and also has nearly everything for the game.
Thanks Jonathan for a great afternoons gaming. I look forward to the breakthrough second leg.