Saturday, 1 August 2015

Memoir 44

"Cool, look that that little plastic tank! Is it a Tiger?"

[Sigh… it's a Panzer IV]

The above highlights precisely the type of gamers that will and won't love Memoir 44. Moving beyond the rather odd name - I'm not sure this really conveys the D-Day Landings, eh? - this is a beautifully lightweight wargame offering you the chance to move little plastic soldiers, guns, and tanks across a board marked out in hexes.

Now, most wargames involving hexes are almost certainly guaranteed to bring a tear of pain to a beginner's eye. They're generally not too easy to just pick up and play, requiring a few hours of rules reading before you can get started (in my experience). Memoir 44 is the polar opposite of this - quick to set up and simple to understand. Unlike many World War Two games, Memoir 44 is highly abstracted: all tanks work in the same way (no armour differences or firepower modifiers), all infantry work in the same way (and ignore the effects of platoon and company level support options), and all artillery - you've guessed it - work in the same way. So if you're looking for data over-crunch, move swiftly on without looking inside the box.

However, if you're looking for a war-themed game that is driven by a clever card-playing mechanism, and comes in a box packed to the rafters with toy soldiers 'Just Like I Used To Play With As A Kid'… read on my friend.

The game contains over a dozen scenarios based on the action in North West Europe on and after D-Day, 1944. Each scenario sets up differently, using cardboard terrain counters on the plain hex board to build something approaching the landscape of the real-life battle about to be refought. Axis and Allie players lay their units out as per the set up - often in an asymmetric match up - and away you go. What you can do each turn is governed by the command cards you hold - these allow you to activate a certain number of units in one or more sectors of the board, and card management is equally as important as any other ability in this game.

Conclusion: Memoir 44 is based on the older Battle Cry game, but moves the action from the American Civil War to World War Two with a smooth grace. So long as you're expecting a light, abstract war-themed game, rather than a simulation of the D-Day Landings, and so long as you're not so caught up in rivet counting to forget that a game should be fun, Memoir 44 is a game you should check out.