Memoir 44 is a World War II themed tactical game. It’s played on a board divided into hexes. Each each player fields a army of infantry and tanks and attempts to achieve victory by amassing the requisite number of victory points. In the game my son and I played, victory points were awarded either for controlling a strategic hex or by eliminating an enemy unit.
If you are looking for a historically themed miniatures game where you can fight battles with your gaming buddies but don’t want to invest large sums of money into buying miniatures and large sums of time painting said miniatures, then Memoir 44 might be what you are looking for. You get miniature infantry men and tanks. You get terrain and man-made obstacles. Game play is quick and simple but really does have some tactical depth to it. All in all, I think it is Axis and Allies on a more intimate scale and with greater tactical appeal.
In general, the two opposing players sit across the table from each other and arrange the terrain and units according to the scenario being played. I could see custom scenarios being no problem to create. Once everything is set up, the victory conditions for each side are explained. Then each player draws 6 cards that have various orders on them. Orders have things like “Recon: Move 1 unit on the left flank” or “Assault: Move 2 units in each on the right flank, middle and left flank.” That kind of thing. On your turn, you pick which card you want to use for your issued orders and then you move your units. After movement you get to fire on enemy troops in range. Each troop type has a range and an associated number of dice to roll at that range. The dice roll can either kill stands of enemy troops, push back a unit of troops or both. After you have finished moving and fighting, your opponent gets to shoot your ass in return. You know. All fair like and stuff.
There’s lots of little details that can be added into a scenario; barbed wire, bunkers, rivers, towns, bridges and other things. All of them affect movement and / or firing in interesting ways. The nice thing is that none of it requires much math. Things that give cover tend to subtract a single die from the firing dice. Barbed wire forces a unit to stop immediately and cut through it. That kind of stuff. My 10 year old autistic child picked up on it lickety-split.
The difference between this game and King of Tokyo, where my son killed my Cyber-bunny Giant Robot with extreme Godzilla-y prejudice, is that Memoir 44 rewards being able to think tactically in terms of maneuvering units and sacrificing position for achieving victory conditions. In our game I won because I abandoned one of the strategic locations in order to kill the last two units I needed to win. That’s not super deep thought but it is deep enough to make the game interesting.
Memoir 44 gets my vote for a quick-playing, fun, butt-kicking Nazi’s for goodness game. I intend to purchase it as soon as I am able.