Thursday 11 February 2010

8th Armies Just Deserts...................

Memoir 44 is without a doubt one of my favourite board games and so it is always a pleasure to get the opportunity to play a game at the club. Sure enough, last night saw yours truly taking on the redoubtable Mr.Fox at one of the scenarios from the Mediterranean expansion. The scenario was based on the action at Bir Hakim which saw British Grants in action against the best of the Afrika Korps. The victory conditions were quite simple – the first to five medals was the winner. I took the allies and Mr.Fox commanded the Germans. The game was pretty much over with by the end of turn one as the Germans were able to score some telling blows courtesy of some truly awesome dice rolling. With the allies as rolling as poorly as the Germans had well, the situation was looking bleak for the 8th army as by the end of the second turn they had lost 3 units for no loss. The allied agony was prolonged merely because the Germans had some poor cards and the only targets in reach of their forward elements they were already happily annihilating! The allied dice luck improved slightly and the final score of 6 to 4 was quite flattering.

What insights did the game reveal? To begin with, the Germans had six command cards to the allied four. This meant that obviously the allies were not as manoeuvrable as the Germans. This was nullified to a large extent by the fact that both sides had poor card selections after the initial German thrust had halted. The allies were in fact well placed to get back into the action as they the advantage of numbers. Sadly they were unable to take advantage of the over extended German front as not only were their cards equally as poor but their dice rolling continued to be miserable. The only bright spot during this lull was the successful use of the Air Power card to damage the leading two German armour units as they closed on the allied supply centre. The game went flat for a couple of turns as both sides had run out of commands and targets within range. Ironically the allied defeat was triggered by their own actions as they desperately attempted to engage the marauding panzers thereby exposing themselves to the inevitable counter attack. There was a flurry of combat which saw the allies get up to 4 units destroyed but by then it was too late as the victorious Germans secured their victory with the destruction of the last units required. The allies took scant solace from the fact that their dice rolling improved sufficiently to actually worry the Germans at one point but overall the end was never in doubt.

Oddly enough the action felt very much like how you would imagine a desert armour battle to go – thrusting armour assaults, command and communication breakdowns, last ditch defences of rear areas and the tender administrations of the Desert Air Force. Great fun and I shall look forward to the rematch in due course.

What of the protagonists? Mr Fox was last seen polishing up his Iron Cross 4th class and your humble scribe was heading back to Blighty on a troopship – on the other ranks deck!

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