Tuesday 7 March 2023

Thoughts about Memoir ‘44

Saving Private Ryan, Memoir ‘44 style

I have a particular fondness for Memoir ‘44 - the Richard Borg designed Command and Colours WW2 board game - and rather like a comfortable pair of carpet slippers it occasionally pops up in the forefront of my gaming thoughts as being a safe bet. The rules are very ‘light’ in terms of detail although successive expansions to the core game have added additional layers of complexity to the system. It is still great fun to play though. Over the years there have been a whole heap of fan based additional bits and bobs so the gamer is really spoilt for choice as to what to do with the system once the official scenarios have been exhausted. Indeed, Bob Cordery devised his variant entitled MOMBAT - Memoir of Modern Battle - a few years back and I had enormous fun using them.

I enjoy playing the game face to face using the command cards but traditionally have not bothered using them when fighting solo. I have softened my stance in this respect and so will now happily use the command cards in an unbiased and evenhanded fashion.

There are a number of expansions to go with the base game, most of which come in and out of availability on what seems like an ad hoc basis so for the ardent collector it is often a case of ‘getting it while you can’. Back in the day I would have slavishly acquired everything I could, regardless of whether or not I actually needed it, and would then have probably sold it all on. I currently own a couple of copies of the base games - useful for ‘Overlord’ style larger games -, the terrain pack and the Operation Overlord set and whilst I like the idea of a number of the other expansions I have downloaded much of the material contained therein from the Days of Wonder website. I may look to get a couple of the desert/winter game boards at some point which will of course mean getting the Winter Wars expansion.

Using the models contained in the game is a quick and easy option but it would be nice to use specific kit in some way. I have seen many Command and Colours games using figures on a hexed table top and some of these are quite beautiful to look at (MSFoy I am looking at you!) but for my needs I am looking at something altogether rather more basic. I am happy to use the Memoir ‘44 game boards as they are but with the addition of 3D terrain. It will require smaller figures but not many of them and the whole thing will look rather attractive and have the advantage of being nice and compact. I have thought about using 12/10mm models but at the moment am looking quite seriously at 3mm. Easy to paint, cheap and with a pretty good selection of identifiable types, the scale has much to commend it. Add in those lovely Brigade Models buildings (1:1200th) and I reckon there is the makings of something rather handy looking.

In a roundabout way this post is linked to that of yesterday for one major reason. The material I am looking at in 1:600th (3mm) comes from Tumbling Dice, as do the ships for the WW1 project.

Mr Sulley will be busy methinks, in a small way….


Anibal Invictus said...

I've played for many years the C&C system in the Napoleonic era and as any gamer I also dreamt using small minis instead of wood tokens on a 3D hex table. I agree with most of your thoughts, an easy and efficient system to play casual games, but it is true that over the years it has fallen short of my expectations and now I'm moving to more complex games.

David Crook said...

Hi Anibal,

As the years have rolled by I started off with simpler rules, went full on complex - when everybody else did - and now am at the stage where I prefer simpler but more flavoursome rules. Memoir ‘44 is a simple set of rules no matter how you tweak it but it can be taken to a more ‘formal wargame style’ level which certainly works for an old curmudgeon like me.

It is all about the flavour of a rule set and if it tastes right (measured against one’s perception of what may have happened gleaned from research and reading) then I reckon it must be right. For the most part Memoir ‘44 ticks those boxes for me.

All the best,


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


It’s interesting to note that Memoir ‘44 has been used as a training aid by at least one branch of the US armed forces as an entry-level wargame, especially for young trainee NCOs and officers. It is cheap, can be bought off-the-shelf, and is easy to learn and quick to play.

I may have moved on a bit since I bought my first Memoir ‘44 games, and have acquired many of the add-ons. Along with Richard Borg’s Battle Cry game, it is in my pile of games that I can and do use whenever my wargaming mojo needs a bit of a jolt to revive it.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there Bob,

I did not know that the game had been used by the military for training purposes! It is funny that the more I delve into the game the more appreciative I am of the design - especially as it does allow for some tinkering to suit the individual ‘complexity palate’.

There are a few bits and pieces I would like to acquire but to be honest what I have will be more than enough for my immediate needs - at least for now anyway!

All the best,


The Good Soldier Svjek said...

Good old Memoir 44 a great game and none the worse for it's simple rules, over the years I have aqquired all of the boxesd expansions.

Martin Rapier said...

My toughest search for M44 bits was tracking down a set of the "Breakthrough" command cards, which transform the game. I eventually got a set from a games shop that n Germany.

If I'm using the M44 boards to play on, I usually just use my existing 6mm or 15mm stuff, they fit in the hexes fine. I prefer to to use my Hexon though.

David Crook said...

Hello there Good Soldier,

It is a great game and whilst on the face of it is quite simple there is a surprising amount of depth to it. If one can accept the apparent ‘fudge’ of scaling and the degree of abstraction it has a good feel to it. One of my ‘fall back’ games when I need some light inspiration (usually after having just read or watched something WW2 related).

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Martin,

Were they the cards in the Operation Overlord expansion? I know the Breakthrough boards are larger than the standard sized version. This time around I am only looking to get the material I need so the army packs are now out - mainly because I can get the rules etc off the Days of Wonder website and the models/figures I will happily source from elsewhere. I want to keep the models small so that I can use the existing boards.

All the best<


Aly Morrison said...

This sounds right up you street old chap…
I have a copy of Battle Cry… but I must confess that I have yet to play it…

All the best. Aly

Kaptain Kobold said...

I love Memoir '44, but few of the expansions excite me. I bought the extra army packs (aside from the Japanese one for some reason), and I got the Terrain Pack, but nothing after that really did anything for me. So I still play pretty much teh basic version of the game on the regular sized board. And I love it.

David Crook said...

Hi Aly,

I think in the past I have been guilty of not fully appreciating Memoir ‘44 for what it is but through the lens of playing experience I certainly do now! It is a system that can withstand any amount of tinkering and still work which for me is an important consideration.

Most of the ideas I have are already ‘out there’ as the fan based support for this game is huge which makes it even more attractive.

Battle Cry eh? Sigh….. That is a superb game and the inspiration for many an idea over the years.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there Kaptain,

I think gaming the Overlord variant using two basic boards is about as adventurous as I would go to be honest. The army pack rules and scenarios are readily available to download so it is merely the models that are missing. Two copies of the base game, the terrain pack and the Operation Overlord set should pretty much do it for me (indeed, that is all I currently have) although a couple of copies of the desert/winter board set would be useful. There are hundreds of scenarios on the Day of Wonder website and a couple of useful groups on Facebook so there is no shortage of extra (and free) material to play around with.

Even in its basic format is a great game and one that I should make more use of.

All the best,