Category Archives: memoir 44

memoir 44

Verses: Escape from Colditz vs Memoir ’44

This is a juicy match up thematically and for what the games represent.

On the left we have a game over forty years old, Escape from Colditz. On the right we have Memoir ’44, champion of modern hobby gaming in this match up.

We have two games that are set during World War II. Well different aspects of it. One has you escaping an infamous prison. While the other is reenacting conflicts from various theatres from WWII.

These are two very differing games, very representative of their era. 

If you search back I had a blast playing Escape from Colditz. There were some issues mechanically. But having said that I know some people don’t like the randomness of the dice in Memoir ’44.

However Escape from Colditz takes a really long time to play. While in comparison Memoir can be played in less than an hour.

In the end it was a rather easy decision to make. It has to be Memoir ’44. The share flexibility and expandability, plus relatively quick game play, swung it. 

So did my decision match up with those that responded on social media?

Which would you chose?

Verses: BattleLore Second Edition vs Memoir ’44

This match up happened very early on in the pairwise comparisons. I thought “wow! This is a tough choice.”

How am I going to chose between BattleLore (Second Edition) and Memoir ’44

Both are based on the Richard Borg Command and Colours system. 

Yes BattleLore has some extras to its mechanics. Setting the game up is actually part of the game play. It also adds lore to the game, which is basically magic. And that setup as game play is inspired.

Memoir ’44 has had way better support when it comes to expansions. There is a shit load of stuff for it. Ok some are mega expensive because they are out of print (which I don’t get, because it’s a popular game, an ever green title, and keeping stuff like expansions in print shouldn’t be an issue.) Plus I’m not sure FFG will do much more with BattleLore now with their RuneWars mini game just hitting the stores. 

So does it just come down to theme? Do I prefer fantasy over historical? Or vice versa? 

I decided this was a draw. Theme wasn’t a big decider in the end for me. Because if on the day I wanted to play a game like these it would come down to what theme am I in the mood for? 

So I put this decision out on social media to get the thoughts of others on what they would chose.

I suspect Henning might be a little biased in his answer below. But he is correct his art in BattleLore is amazing.

So what would your choice be?


So it would appear a previous post of mine started something when I mentioned that my dad was in 2 Para and the Arnham scenario we played was on the regiments battle honours. Somehow it started Gavin and Jonathan on a journey to find out about their grandfathers during World War Two. I'm not sure how far Gavin is on his journey, however Jonathan made some amazing progress. Which brings us to this post.

Last night saw Jonathan and I meet up to play a special Memoir '44 scenario. A custom scenario specially created for him to commemorate the memory of his grandfather.

The Queen's Westminters at Silvode, March 30, 1945 – Allies

We started the evening with myself playing the Allies and Jonathan taking on the part of the Axis forces. An initial analysis of the board, it was obvious that my forces were strong on both flanks against the Axis forces while the Axis forces were stronger in the centre. Moving up the flanks, trying to stay out of range of the artillery would have to be my strategy (cards and dice rolls allowing).

Luckily the cards and dice allowed me to execute this plan. Through out the battle Jonathan had the victory point advantage, doing better with his dice rolls. However it remained pretty close through out the game.

Jonathan's tactics did surprise me a little because he stayed out taking on my forces more than I would have. But as always sometimes in Memoir the cards don't go your way, and maybe this tactic was forced on him.

If my dice rolls had been better I think some of the latter exchanges between our forces would have resulted in a bit more comfortable winning margin. How bad where my rolls? Take this example below. I played the “Their Finest Hour” command card, I need to roll my units symbols or a Star symbol to be able to move my units. I got one dice to roll for each command card in my hand. Which meant on this occasion I rolled six dice. So an infantry, tank or star symbol is all I needed to roll. Six dice. I should have rolled at least one of those symbols. But no I roll six, yes SIX hand grenade symbols. Which meant I could do nothing. Jonathan couldn't believe this roll, and neither could I. It had to be photographed.

However I did eventually manage to steal the win. Although it could very easily have been an Axis victory. As the photos below show the Axis forces were left with a single artillery unit, while I managed to capture Varsseveld.

After the win it was time for a little photo session and remembering the fallen. Below Jonathan pays his respects to his grandfather and those that gave the ultimate sacrifice at the battle.

The Queen's Westminters at Silvode, March 30, 1945 – Axis

Round two. My turn to play the Axis powers. My tactics for this game were to try and utilise my strength in the middle against the Allies, and make use of the strong defensive positions my troops had, and let the Allies come onto my forces, hopefully picking up heavy casualties.

My opening hand wasn't brilliant, but I could work with it. I even utilised playing bad cards to just get rid of them from my hand, and in hope of drawing something better.

My forces retreated to form a defensive pocket, waiting for the Allie forces to break upon them like waves on a beach.

The Allies won the day again. My hand of command cards at the end where all left flank command cards. Useless to me.

This was a fun scenario to play, I think with the right card draw and rolls my tactics would have worked better and possibly won for the Axis powers.

This scenario was made more poignant with the personal connection it had to Jonathan and his family. We really didn't mind losing as the Axis forces (this time).

Jacques 'jdrommel' David on the Memoir '44 forums did a really great job designing this scenario. He dedicated it to Jonathan's grandfather Private Kenneth W. Warren of the 12th KRRC, who was killed in this battle on the 30th March 1945, “and to all soldiers who have lost their lives during these forgotten battles at the end of the Second World War.” And I have to say I totally agree with this dedication.

You can read Jonathan's blog post and personal journey here.

The evenings gaming was bought to a close with me teaching Jonathan how to play Tiny Epic Galaxies. This was the first game I played since it arrived that I won! Jonathan really was impressed by the production quality of the game, and the game itself. I wouldn't be surprised to see it end up in his collection soon.

Another great evening of gaming. I felt honoured that Jonathan shared this scenario with me, and gave me the opportunity to play it with him. Thank you Jonathan, it was an honour to be able to have an opportunity to pay my respects this way to your grandfather and the other fallen.


Battle of Abbeville Part Two

Tonight saw the return leg of the Breakthrough scenario that Jonathan and I started a couple of weeks back or so. Our setup time this time around was far quicker than previously because of our foresight of having all the terrain tiles for the scenario together.

This time I was going to be the Allies. Could I pull off the victory to get the clean sweep? I certain had an idea of the tactics I wanted to employ as the Allies, but would I get the command cards to allow me to put my plans into action?

We drew our starting hands…

Battle of Abbeville (Breakthough map and scenario) – Allies

My plan was simple I was going to rush the Axis forces trying to knock them out before they got a chance to retreat back to the bridges and attempt to lure me into range of the artillery. Oh because that's what I did as the Axis forces. I also wanted to make sure I moved my forces (especially in the centre) all together in a block, and not just move the odd unit that would be picked off easily. I wanted to attack in numbers.

My opening hand allowed me to play a pincer movement on both flanks. A perfect first card to play I thought.

After that I attacked a unit close to my forces in the centre, before switching and concentrating my attack on the right flank. I wanted to mop up the forces there, and take out the artillery unit. That had potential to do some damage.

Once I had control of the right flank I used my remaining command cards for that side to move my forces into the centre and join my main attack there. A couple of back to back all unit cards allowed me to move in force down the centre.

Jonathan didn't retreat as fast as I had. He seemed to be trying to hold a line and engage my forces. Later Jonathan admitted he just wasn't getting the cards to allow him to move in the centre.

Over all this was a pretty close game. I'd score a couple of victory points, and then Jonathan would reply scoring two in reply.

In the end it could easily have swung Jonathan's way for a victory. Especially if my dice rolls had been poorer. But in the end I scored the final victory point I needed for the win.

After clearing up Jonathan and I played Hive. As regular readers will know I've had the game for a little while but just not got round to playing it. Luckily Jonathan had played Hive before. Hive is one of those games that is quick to learn but a life time to master.

I think on the win/loss front it was pretty even between the two of us. I enjoyed playing Hive, it's a nice quick game. Ideal as a filler for two.

Thanks Jonathan for another great evening of Memoir '44. We now need to start planning our next scenario to play.


End of September 2015 Arrivals

In Sunday's post about the Memoir '44 games I played with Jonathan I mentioned that he bought along his newly arrived copy of Memoir '44 Tactics and Strategy Guide.

Well war is a terrible thing, as is the arms race it creates. So having looked at Jonathan's copy I decided I better get my own copy, just to keep things even.

My copy of this epic arrived yesterday. So the studying begins…

The first of two kickstarters arrived today. First up Tiny Epic Galaxies. I'm looking forward to getting this to the table, I like Tiny Epic Kingdoms, I'm looking forward to seeing what their Western themed game is like.
Secondly long over due Dead Drop. The posting of this game did not go smoothly. I'll detail the mini story of woe when I look at the game in more detail.

Oh nearly forgot these two little fellas also arrived today. Ok one was too late to celebrate his special day at the weekend. But better late than never.


An Epic Memoir Afternoon

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.


War huh!

Memoir '44 has been in my pile of shame for about a year and a half now. I'd originally bought it for Nath and I to play. But best made plans and all that, we haven't got round to playing it.

So I was really pleased when I found out that Jonathan at the Fenland Gamers group not only had Memoir '44 but also had almost everything for the game expansion wise with the exception of the odd map pack.

Last night finally saw me play Memoir '44 for the first time with Jonathan. Luckily for me Jonathan was in need of a refresher on how to play the game due to a long gap between this game and his last play of it.

Game One – Pegasus Bridge, June 6, 1944 I'm the Axis Player

Game one started off with me playing as the Axis power in the game. This was the first scenario in the manual, and sees the Axis player start off with a card disadvantage (two cards) to simulate the forces being taken by surprise.
Jonathan got an early victory point by capturing the bridge on the left flank, and also nearly wiping out the unit that was on the other side of the bridge. But I managed to get that unit out and manovered away from the Allied forces along with the other lone unit on that flank so that they did not become easy victory points for Jonathan.
While that was going on Jonathan sent his Allied forces to engage with my dug in forces on the right that were defending the second bridge and the town next to it.
I was more than happy to let the Allies come at me, it meant I was able to enjoy the benefits of my defences, which in Memoir terms means one less dice to roll for Jonathan.
So I had the victory point from the second bridge and good dice rolls and card draw got me the other three victory points I needed by allowing me to pick off the Allie forces from the safety of my dugouts.
Wow somehow I had won my first game.

Game Two – Pegasus Bridge, June 6, 1944 I'm the Allied Player

Game two and time to swap sides and see what the other side of the map looks like. Boy does it look different.

Having played the Axis first definitely helped me on this game. As did having an awesome card draw. My first card was an advancement order that allowed me to issue an order all my units, plus they could move two hexes and attack, or move three hexes and not attack.

So my first move was swamping the right flank, and rushing to the bridge. The thing with this scenario is that the Axis have two units on the right flank separate from each other. One is in the corner on the opposite side of the river. So overwhelming them quickly would net me two victory points, and a third can be gained taking the bridge.

This part of the plan worked perfectly, one turn I've cut the bridge off, and can pick off the trapped Axis unit. Surprisingly Jonathan's other unit is moved in to engage with the superior force. Which is exactly what I wanted. They were soon picked off also, and the bridge taken. Three victory points on the table, one more needed for the win.

My mass move to the right flank threw off Jonathan whose remaining forces were dug in defending the second bridge in the top left corner of the left flank. I don't think Jonathan had the card draw that enabled him to do much. Although he did start to venture through the barb wire to engage with me.

The second part of my plan after getting the “easy” victory points on the right was to just throw all units at the Axis lines on the left, all I needed was to pick off one unit to get the win.

With Jonathan moving units from behind their defences I soon finished off a unit to get the win.

I seem to remember this being a very short game.

Game Three – Sainte Mere-Eglise, June 6, 1944 I'm the Allied Player

On to scenario two, this time I starting off as the Allies. I remember seeing Tom Vassell doing a live play of this on The Dice Tower channel a while back. Can't remember the actual game but the having to drop four miniatures on the board from about twelve inches up to simulate a parachute drop by the Allies was the only bit I remembered.

My drop got me three additional units in a central position. I thought I'm going to need these units the Axis forces had a tank unit!

Those tanks were my biggest worry in this scenario. Once they were out of the right flank top corner they would be deadly.

I managed to take out the lone Axis unit that had dug in the little village in the middle of the board. By the time I had done that the tanks were close. With poor card draw for Jonathan (I'm assuming that is the case) the tanks failed to attack and do any damage. I had a window of opportunity here. I attacked his tanks with three infantry units, the rolls were with me and I wiped out the tanks.

Then the battle front moved to the left flank with our infantry units engaging each other. Some tit for tat exchanges and I've gained the final two victory points needed to win.

Below courtesy of Jonathan a picture of me (there really aren't enough of these on this blog) in deep thought trying to work out what I'm going to do about the bloomin tanks. Luckily after this photo I played just the right card to allow three infantry units to take out the tanks.

Game Four – Sainte Mere-Eglise, June 6, 1944 I'm the Axis Player

The final game of the evening. I'm now playing as the Axis forces. My luck was bound to run out at some point. My card draw was not going my way. I was just not getting cards that would allow me to issue orders to my left flank and get the tanks and supporting infantry units out.

I even sacrificed my lone unit in the middle to distract Jonathan to try and buy me time to get the cards I needed. But that only delayed the inevitable, Jonathan's forces attacked my right flank picking off units, and despite me trying to make an exit through the woods I was out of the game.

I had started to draw cards for the left flank, but it was too little too late. Before being defeated I did manage to score one victory point to stop it being a total whitewash.

Final thoughts…

Wow. I love this game. And I'm not just saying this because I won! I love the combat and the dice rolling. The command cards to issue orders is brilliant.

Yes bad dice rolls and not drawing the cards you want can be frustrating. But they do nicely simulate orders not getting through or the tide of battle going against you.

For me Memoir '44 is just right. Love the theme, I think with the bits of flavour text that you get with each mission is great. Components are great. This just works on all levels. The nice thing is it's not a heavy wargame. Ok it's a wargame “lite” which suits me perfectly.

I really can't wait to play more games of Memoir '44. Thanks Jonathan for a great evenings gaming and teaching me Memoir.