Flashback Friday - Memoir '44 - Do You Still Play?

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Memoir '44

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Memoir '44 was hot, hot, hot in 2008...but where is it now?

Memoir '44 is a light wargame, or war-themed strategy board game, for two players created by Richard Borg, using an enhanced version of the same Command & Colors game system used in Battle Cry. Published in 2004 by Days of Wonder, Memoir '44 simulates over a dozen of the battles connected with the D-Day invasions in World War II. It received the 2004 International Gamers Award for General Strategy, and The Wargamer 2004 Award for Excellence.

Some people argued that Battlore was the better game. Others preferred Command & Colors: Ancients. But no one could argue that Memoir '44 wasn't popular. In fact over the next few years it had so many expansions that a Memoir '44: Campaign Bag was released to carry the base game with it's expansions.

So where is now? Do you still play? Is it a self toad gathering dust? Or did you cull it from your collection long ago? 

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Shellie "ubarose" Rose  (She/Her)
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Plays boardgames. Drinks bourbon. Writes code.

Articles by Shellie

Shellie "ubarose" Rose
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Articles by Shellie

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southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #275439 15 Jun 2018 05:29
Cut a long time ago. I had some expansions (Desert, Eastern Front, Pacific and the no quite right Air Pack) and the scenarios all seemed pretty well done but in the end the double luck dependency of dice and card draws drove me mad and slowly sucked some of the fun out of it. Ended up moving on to Tide of Iron for a lower level squad based game with a bit less luck.
repoman's Avatar
repoman replied the topic: #275440 15 Jun 2018 06:04
I never could get past the long set up time compared to play time. I think it's a fine game for the younger crowd.
Matt Thrower's Avatar
Matt Thrower replied the topic: #275441 15 Jun 2018 06:41
It's a game that really needs expansions to shine. You can roll with the Eastern Front or the Campaign Book or, preferably, both. In various ways, they both help to take the edge off all the cards and dice.

I've still got my copies of all three, and they've seen me through maybe 50 plays in total. That means it's earned its keep, although I've not played in a long while.

Fundamentally though, C&C:A is simply better and with less setup time. Except for having to sticker all those blocks, that is.

I'm quite surprised M44 never made it as a mass-market breakout hit. It seemed to have all the required qualities.
Jarvis's Avatar
Jarvis replied the topic: #275442 15 Jun 2018 07:50
I haven’t played in a couple of years, but a buddy and I are thinking of playing out the campaign again soon.
the_jake_1973's Avatar
the_jake_1973 replied the topic: #275444 15 Jun 2018 08:34
I play on Vassal regularly as part of a ladder group. No set up time is a definite benefit. I still find it an entertaining and solid wargame. It is best when playing scenarios twice while switching sides. Therein lays another pleasant feature, the game length allows you to do that multiple times in a night.

I have most iterations of the C&C system. Although Nappy is probably my favorite setting, M44 will never be far from the table or Vassal.
JMcL63's Avatar
JMcL63 replied the topic: #275446 15 Jun 2018 09:14
I played this quite a lot when it came out- it was my reintroduction to WW2 tactical boardgaming. I went all-in on the expansions until I stopped playing it, which was when I got hold of Combat Commander. Still, I remember M44 as a fun game with a remarkably comprehensive system if you've got all the expansions, although, truth to tell, I did prefer C&C:A.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #275447 15 Jun 2018 09:28
My kids absolutely loved this game for about a two-year period. I'd like to play it more (as well as C&C Ancients which is a period of history I am much more interested in, and Battle Cry) but my game group is neck-deep in keeping up with their new purchases.

So I think my best best is to fill my game bag with Memoir and its brethren, show up and just set one up. There's one old guy there that likes conflict games and will likely sit down across from me if I give him the chance.

Borg created Battle Cry and Memoir as rule sets for miniatures games, and they have a miniatures feel to their play. There's significant luck involved (which is highly appropriate for the theme and setting) and you need to react on short notice to what's happening on the board and what's happening in your hand of cards. You can't often make plans very far in advance because you don't have enough prior knowledge. Alas, modern gamers don't like that as much. I do. I'm at my best and enjoy playing most in tactical games, so Memoir is right in my wheelhouse.

I may have to force this on my boys for Father's Day. Timely article -- they can't deny my request Sunday morning!

S.
fightcitymayor's Avatar
fightcitymayor replied the topic: #275465 15 Jun 2018 14:02
I guess I never understood why one would invest the $$$ in expansions for such a basic left/center/right C&C game. For only slightly more brainpower one could easily move up to Combat Commander or Tide Of Iron or Heroes Of Normandie, or ratchet up another half-step for one of a dozen different legit tactical games (Band of Brothers, Conflict of Heroes, Lock & Load, Old School Tactical, etc. etc. etc.) and have a system where the expansions actually make it a game worth owning.

I can see owning the base set to haul out for a casual crowd (it's great in that role) but that's about it.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #275477 15 Jun 2018 15:18

fightcitymayor wrote: I guess I never understood why one would invest the $$$ in expansions for such a basic left/center/right C&C game. For only slightly more brainpower one could easily move up to Combat Commander or Tide Of Iron or Heroes Of Normandie, or ratchet up another half-step for one of a dozen different legit tactical games (Band of Brothers, Conflict of Heroes, Lock & Load, Old School Tactical, etc. etc. etc.) and have a system where the expansions actually make it a game worth owning.

I can see owning the base set to haul out for a casual crowd (it's great in that role) but that's about it.


For the aesthetics each expansion provides (plastic bits and terrain for the theatre) plus the pretty decent scenarios, but I did upgrade to ToI.
the_jake_1973's Avatar
the_jake_1973 replied the topic: #275487 15 Jun 2018 16:29

fightcitymayor wrote: I guess I never understood why one would invest the $$$ in expansions for such a basic left/center/right C&C game. For only slightly more brainpower one could easily move up to Combat Commander or Tide Of Iron or Heroes Of Normandie, or ratchet up another half-step for one of a dozen different legit tactical games (Band of Brothers, Conflict of Heroes, Lock & Load, Old School Tactical, etc. etc. etc.) and have a system where the expansions actually make it a game worth owning.

I can see owning the base set to haul out for a casual crowd (it's great in that role) but that's about it.


Not all wargames need to be some brain burning wargame that lasts hours. M44 delivers a fast and entertaining combat while the card play keeps the replay value high. The ability to be able to play multiple games in a night is also appealing. Some of the games listed for comparison are also zoomed in much closer than M44, so the maneuver component would be much more of a feature.
Colorcrayons's Avatar
Colorcrayons replied the topic: #275503 15 Jun 2018 17:54
I'm not really a fan. I can tolerate the game if someone asks me to play it, but that's a once every few years kind of thing.

I respect days of wonder a lot, but this was one of their games I didn't regret failing to buy into.
JMcL63's Avatar
JMcL63 replied the topic: #275532 16 Jun 2018 10:30

fightcitymayor wrote: I guess I never understood why one would invest the $$$ in expansions for such a basic left/center/right C&C game. For only slightly more brainpower one could easily move up to Combat Commander or Tide Of Iron or Heroes Of Normandie, or ratchet up another half-step for one of a dozen different legit tactical games (Band of Brothers, Conflict of Heroes, Lock & Load, Old School Tactical, etc. etc. etc.) and have a system where the expansions actually make it a game worth owning.

I can see owning the base set to haul out for a casual crowd (it's great in that role) but that's about it.

Completionism is one obvious reason why people would go all-in on Memoir'44, but to put it down to just that would be to underestimate exactly how good a gateway WW2 tactical game it actually is, its simple left/center/right C&C system notwithstanding. That L/C/R system is definitely least at home in the WW2 setting, because of the use of radio communications by many units, but it still works well enough. And the basics of fire-and-movement work really rather nicely, in a way that creates some subtle effects. The expansions bring completely new stuff too, and serve to make that basic system quite all-encompassing in its scope. So the appeal of M44 to its fans is not just the aesthetic element of the toy factor, but also the rich potential of the system hidden in its simplicity.
Black Barney's Avatar
Black Barney replied the topic: #275534 16 Jun 2018 10:49
It’s a great way to honour our fallen heroes
Msample's Avatar
Msample replied the topic: #275596 17 Jun 2018 07:41
I could never get over the seemingly wildly variable scale. Some scenarios its quasi tactical, others cover the entire 5 beaches of Normandy or the entire attack on Moscow in 1941 . I need at least some semblance of reality in my historical games and this fails.
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #275599 17 Jun 2018 08:00
I still like this game and would play it if a friend brought it around. I honestly don't mind the randomness of cards and dice for the most part. Although I do think they improved the cards in the Breakthrough Deck. They added On The Move that replaced cards in the regular deck with ones that have an additional option to move some units in any section but those units can only move (not attack). Ultimately I find the game too abstract for my WWII interests. Also the setup is longer than the game.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #275601 17 Jun 2018 08:33

ChristopherMD wrote: I still like this game and would play it if a friend brought it around. I honestly don't mind the randomness of cards and dice for the most part. Although I do think they improved the cards in the Breakthrough Deck. They added On The Move that replaced cards in the regular deck with ones that have an additional option to move some units in any section but those units can only move (not attack). Ultimately I find the game too abstract for my WWII interests. Also the setup is longer than the game.


I'd be in the same boat, quite happy to play it now and then as it was a fun game (when it wasn't frustrating the shit out of me) but not too keep it on my shelves (with expansions) when I wasn't going to play it and others would.
From memory wasn't there a rule in the base game that you could use any card to order one unit, does On The Move build on that ?
Sevej's Avatar
Sevej replied the topic: #275609 17 Jun 2018 10:46
This falls into the same spot of Pandemic. I'll never pull it off shelf or asked for it, but will gladly play it. It's just so painless to play and creates interesting situation from the combination of board state and hand.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #275620 17 Jun 2018 13:33

fightcitymayor wrote: I guess I never understood why one would invest the $$$ in expansions for such a basic left/center/right C&C game. For only slightly more brainpower one could easily move up to Combat Commander or Tide Of Iron or Heroes Of Normandie, or ratchet up another half-step for one of a dozen different legit tactical games (Band of Brothers, Conflict of Heroes, Lock & Load, Old School Tactical, etc. etc. etc.) and have a system where the expansions actually make it a game worth owning.

I can see owning the base set to haul out for a casual crowd (it's great in that role) but that's about it.


Good thread, btw.

I hate that I'm this sort of grinch but I finally moved to this opinion about C+C, in general. I respect the game, though. If someone was into an iteration, I'd definitely play it with them. It's a fun, light base system though I prefer C+C:A with its extra line rules and a bit more variety.

I am glad to hear all of you guys talk about the scenario book type stuff. That's the big issue with this system: the scenario designs is far more important to the enjoyment of play than the unit variety but most people just wanted more unit variety.

Weirdly, the things I heard about the game of thrones (and I think battlelore 2.0?) iteration of this system sounded good to me. Giving you a bit more flexibility.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #275625 17 Jun 2018 14:37

Gary Sax wrote: ...

Weirdly, the things I heard about the game of thrones (and I think battlelore 2.0?) iteration of this system sounded good to me. Giving you a bit more flexibility.


I enjoyed the Battlelore 2.0 games I played but it still did have the frustrating double luck cards/dice aspect. The Battles of Westoros system sounds very interesting as well with lots of unit expansions but it was a bit too expensive for a 2-player game for me to get into without trying it out first.
dysjunct's Avatar
dysjunct replied the topic: #275630 17 Jun 2018 16:09
I got rid of all mine several years back. It’s a decent game and I had a lot of fun with it, but in general I don’t have much room for 2p games. If I can game, it’s with a group 99% of the time.

Yeah, Overlord is okay, but not as good as dedicated multiplayer games designed as such.
ratpfink's Avatar
ratpfink replied the topic: #275649 17 Jun 2018 21:31
I still play a decent amount of Overlord. I have two of most everything so I'm set up for that. I used to run a few scenarios a year at local cons and sometimes at game night at our place. Now a friend went kind of nuts and painted up enough M44 stuff for Overlord(or 4 maps of D-Day scenario) so my stuff doesn't come out as often. The Battlemaps make setup a breeze for Overlord: the terrain is printed on the map!

I look at Overlord as a wargame themed party game. I generally have a blast playing. Just two player? For relatively quick and lighter I'd rather just play an abstract these days.
san il defanso's Avatar
san il defanso replied the topic: #275654 17 Jun 2018 22:26
We played it a bunch for a couple years, mostly the the original base game. My wife really enjoyed it, which surprises me even more now than it did at the time. We did go through the first campaign book about half the way through, but we ran out of gas. I lost interest in the game ultimately after about two years, mostly because I think a lot of the scenario design was a bit shoddy. I do like the simplicity of it though, and I kind of wish I still had it because my son would really enjoy it.

Fun fact, Memoir '44 was the game I got rid of in the worst trade I've ever made. I got rid of the base game and the first campaign book for...Valley Games' Titan.