Memoir ’44

A great introduction to the wargame genre!
John Fox - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Manufacturer's Suggested Ages: 8+

Number of players: 2.

Playing time: 30-60 minutes.

Memoir '44 is a fun and clean scenario based World War 2 wargame that is a great introduction to the wargame genre.

Note: This is a review of the Memoir ’44 board game. As the author has not played the computer version it is not covered here.

From game designer Richard Borg and publisher Days of Wonder comes Memoir ’44, a light scenario war game based around World War II for 2 players. It offers a great way to introduce people to the war gaming genre, but it may not appeal to veterans because of some of its luck based elements.

Memoir ’44 comes with a double side hexagonal game board showing grassy plains on one side and a beach landing scene on the other. It also includes various cardboard tiles representing different terrain, such as forests, towns and hills. There are also many plastic soldiers, tanks, and artillery included, green for the Allies and grey for the Axis, as well as plastic models for wire, sandbags and hedgehogs obstacles. The component quality is great, besides the dice which are cheap wooden ones. Also it can be difficult to tell the difference between the dark green and gray  pieces in poor lighting.

There are three different unit types in the game. Infantry which can move one or two hexes and can fire up to three hexes, rolling less dice the longer the range, tanks units which can move far and fire at long range and perform powerful overrun attacks, and artillery which move slow but have long range which ignore terrain. There are also special forces and French resistance infantry units which are represented by placing special badges. This is not a lot of different troops types, but it is enough variety to start out with and more variations of the three base units are included in the expansions.

There are over 15 scenarios included. each gives the background history of the battle it is based on, such as the battle at Pegasus Bridge, a picture of board setup as well as any special rules, such as different ways to earn victory points. Besides scenario based objectives players can also earn victory points by defeating enemy units. Earn enough and you have won the mission. The game  recommends switching sides and the winner is declared by who earned the most total victory points.

Different terrain has different effects on combat and the different unit types have different rules attached to them. There is line of sight rules, but you cannot merge or split up units and you roll the same amount of attack dice regardless of how many figures are in the unit. The designer seem to aim to make the rules a simple introduction to wargames, but it is not dumbed down so much that it is not fun.

The only iffy part of the game is the command cards. Players starts with a specific amount of command cards based on the scenario. They can play 1 card per turn allowing them to order 1 or more units in the left, right or middle of the board, or more than one section. There are also special cards that have different effects, like calling in an air raid or healing a group of units. These cards bring about randomness and hand management to the game. Sometimes you will love the cards, sometimes hate them. It all depends on what cards you get and how well you use them. Even with the cards the game will tend to favor the better player however.

Content:

The game is a wargame which brings the Axis or Allied armies to battle against each other (or the Russian, American, Japanese, Italian, French, Polish or British troops depending on the scenario and expansion). Even though one player will play as the Axis side, the game feels more like Grey vs. Green rather than Good vs. Evil. I do not have all the expansions but I am unaware of any swastikas or any other potentially offensive political symbols in the game, and do not expect there to be any. The Russian troops have a special rule that they must play their command cards the turn before to mirror Stalin’s views, and the Japanese have offensive rules to show their fanaticism to their emperor, but these are just a thematic rule equivalent to their country’s mindset at that time.

There is also couple of other minor things. One expansion is called Hedgerow Hell, there is a historically correct named mobile artillery called the Priest, and one tile in the Pacific expansion is a Japanese Labor camp. Overall I found all these things very minor and the game to be very clean.

I like games that have a good amount of complexity, and this has enough to make me happy. Also, though there are not enough unit types in the base set, this problem is solved in the expansions. Overall Memoir ’44 is a great introduction to the wargame genre and highly recommended.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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