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On Sunday I was fortunate enough to attend the Memoir 44 Cup held at the Izakaya Chuji Japanese Restaurant.
Memoir 44, by Days Of Wonder (Amazon link) is a WWII table top war game. Days of Wonder are responsible for games like Ticket to Ride and Memoir 44 is a solid offering.
From the description:
Memoir ’44 is a unique historical game from Days of Wonder where players command a horde of little plastic Army men facing-off in dozens of WWII battles on an oversize hex game board. Each battle scenario mimics the historical terrain, troop placements and objectives of each army. Deploying forces through a variety of Command cards, the smart commander uses the unique skills of his units to their greatest strength. Easy to learn and fast-paced, Memoir ’44 requites strategic card play, timely dice rolling and an aggressive, yet flexible battle plan to achieve victory. There are 17 unique historical scenarios, including a monster-size double-board version of Omaha Beach. The game has a double-sided, three section board map of the battlefield, featuring beach landings and countryside terrain. There are 44 lavishly painted double-sided terrain hexes, along with the 3D miniatures and obstacles to go on them. Also included are 60 Command cards, including 20 WWII Tactics cards and 40 troop movement Section cards, and two Army bags of incredibly detailed miniatures. You also get a cardholder to share with your “command staff” and some time-saving Terrain summary cards.
Leading up to Sunday I had no experience with the game apart from checking it out online. Going into the Memoir 44 Cup I was very nervous about playing a game that I had almost no knowledge of. The organisers assured me that there wouldn’t be a problem as the game rules could easily be picked up on the fly and they weren’t wrong.
I’ve never been a fan of historical war gaming, preferring my wars fought in fantasy or sci-fi settings. A lot of my preconceptions were about having to adhere to historical accuracy when all I want to do is throw some dice, move some toy soldiers around and have a few laughs with mates. Memoir 44 didn’t disappoint.
My first opponent was a hand picked veteran of the game and helped guide me through the first couple of turns to get the feel for the game. From that point on, I was on my own and made a pretty good account of myself. The rules are simple enough to be interesting, but there is a tactical depth involved in being able to play the right cards at the right time on the right units to get the desired effect.
The hex board and hex terrain cards play a part in the overall movement and efficiency of you army’s ability to wipe out the other guy. Victory is achieved by kill points when you wipe out another unit. There are also medals deploy on certain key strategic points that also add to your victory points.
There is a level of historical accuracy to the scenarios. However, there isn’t a massive emphasis on the historical aspect. Each of the missions we played had a preamble detailing the history of the scenario and it had a bit of an impact on the forces that were deployed but that was about it. The game came back to moving toy soldiers around the hex board and rolling some dice.
Another aspect of the game was that we played bot sides of the scenario. For one game I played the Axis and in the next, the Allies for the same mission. The Memoir 44 Cup was played over six games but only three missions were used. Each player played each mission twice; once as each side.
The game mechanics are simple enough that an 11 year old can play. One of the players and his son came along and played as a team and the Young ‘Un had a great time moving tanks and troops across the board to wipe out the other side.
All the pieces and the cards needed are included in the box along with some nicely detailed miniatures both troops and tanks. As a painter, you can paint up your forces to give the game even more impact.
Memoir 44 also has a mass of expansions allowing players to experience multiple theatres, from Europe to the Pacific, from the rolling green hills of France to the Deserts of Africa.
As a casual gamer (at the moment) Memoir 44 is a gem. Each round of the Memoir 44 Cup took about an hour to complete, and we were easily able to play six rounds in the day. It’s a fast, simple, brilliantly executed game and although easy to learn would really take some mastering too.