Sadly, game night was put an a small hiatus. Cam and I usually take the time to play a two-player game when we end up spending the night in. For a while, Twilight Struggle was our go-to game of choice. It’s a lot of fun, but it takes a long time to get through all three phases. It’s also pretty intense.
Instead of going straight for Twilight Struggle, Cam informed me that Memoir ’44 is also exclusively a two-player game. Still a fair bit of strategy is needed, but it’s also dependent on luck of the cards drawn. It was casual and not intense. Game play was fairly quick, and not complicated at all.
The game centers around actual battles of WWII from 1944. Published in 2004 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the game brings to life multiple battlegrounds from the European theater. Players can choose which scenario they want to play–from Omaha Beach to the Liberation of Paris.
We decided on a less complex scenario–Pegasus Bridge. I was Allied and he played as Axis. A downside to this game is that set up almost as long as actually playing. Each scenario has a specific set up, involving building the terrain where the battle took place and setting up the Allied and Axis military in their initial locations. An unique feature of the game is that it attempts to portray the battles as historically realistic as possible. For example, in Pegasus Bridge, Allied had a huge advantage. Allied troops were air dropped in and the Axis were caught by surprise. So, in the game, the Allied player has more infantry troops on the ground and has the advantage of more cards in their hand. At first, I thought this seems terribly unbalanced and unfair; however it’s nice to play a game that tries to portray history and war as accurately as possible.
The objective of the game is points based, with the total number required for victory varying with each map. Oftentimes, maps will have additional point objectives such as taking and holding specific locations, but in general eliminating an enemy unit will net you a point. Players make moves and battle using cards that control how many and which units (of infantry, armor, or artillery) can be used. The units are either made up of four infantry soldiers, 2 artillery guns, or 3 tanks. The board is divided into flanks of left, center, right. For example, a player may play a card in their hand that allows them to activate 2 units in the left flank. When activating a unit, a player may move two spaces or move up to one space and battle an opposing unit. If a player chooses to battle, he or she rolls dice to determine whether a hit is made and how many hits that unit will take. A player will roll a certain number of dice depending on how far away the unit they are targeting is and whether there are any obstacles in the way, such as sandbags. Once a unit is destroyed the player gains a victory point.
Overall, we enjoyed it. The long setup is a bit of a downside for me, but the more casual game play makes up for it. I also really enjoyed the historical significance. It’s a unique game that should definitely be in the collection of a war or history buff. Furthermore, it’s another two-player game that we can enjoy when we feel like having the night to ourselves and not the company of a big crowd. A huge plus for me is that it was already on our shelf and we didn’t have to buy another game for us to play.