Friday 19 February 2010

Memoir 44 for Vietnam

Memoir 44 is a game of operational/tactical combat set in WW2 using Richard Borg's award winning Command and Colours order system. In a nutshell, each player has a hand of cards that determine what units can move and fight each turn. The cards are mostly sector based (the board is divided into centre, right and left sectors) and if you don't have an order card for the correct sector then it can do nothing. This is a great game mechanic and can be hugely frustrating as a carefully planned attack stalls as the correct command cards fail to materialise! Troop types are generic - infantry, armour and artillery - although the rules, scenarios and expansions allow for some more exotic types like special forces, sappers, cavalry, French Resistance etc.

The game has been expanded by the release of an additional terrain pack, Eastern Front, Pacific and Mediterranean theatre packs, an expanded air pack, a 'big battle' variant pack, a campaign book and the start of a range of scenario packs. The theatre packs include representative armies (Russian, Japanese and British) and terrain tiles; together with additional scenarios and any special rules for the theatre in question. There is also a double sided gameboard available with a desert terrain on one side and snow covered landscape on the other. The game is very well supported on the Days of Winder website with much available in terms of additional scenarios and FAQs etc.

To be honest, it is more a game than a military exercise but is great fun for all that. the scenarios are based on actual historical actions and the scale is non specific so a standard unit of four infantry figures could feasibly represent anything from a platoon up to a battalion in size. I have played this many times and really enjoy the experience - in fact after having played this many times it becomes apparent just how much thought has gone into the game.
You may recall my previous posts related to matters Vietnam related and how I was mulling over the possibility of using a variant of Memoir 44 for games set during this conflict. The figures are not going to be painted anytime soon; neither will the kits be assembled but a variant of this game for the period can be easily organised. I have spent no more than a couple of lunchtimes over this and I think that what I am going to suggest will be a step in the right direction in capturing the elusive 'feel'. The one thing I wanted to do though was to really set the game up at a tactical level. By this I mean having recognisable low level hardware e.g. MGs, Mortars and Infantry anti tank weapons. I have done this and in doing so it occurred to me that the same principle could be applied to WW2. In effect, a four figure infantry unit in this variant represents a fire team. My preliminary suggestions are as follows and I should apologise in advance to non Memoir 44 players as the comments assume knowledge of the game!
Terrain - Use the terrain tiles from the Pacific theatre expansion as this is absolutely right for the theatre - rice paddies, cave/tunnel complexes, jungle and small villages etc.
US Infantry -Use as per the standard game with special forces, sappers etc as and when appropriate.
NVA Infantry - Use as Russian Infantry to allow for limited tactical flexibility (alternatively use as Japanese infantry - the choice may be scenario specific).
VC Infantry - Use as French Resistance due to local terrain advantages.
HMGs - Range and effect as per standard game artillery EXCEPT may only fire direct.
Mortars - Range and effect as per Mobile Artillery.
Infantry Anti Tank Weapons - RPG2 and 7, LAW and M79 - use as per the Infantry Anti Tank Weapon rules contained in the Mediterranean expansion.
Tanks - as per the standard rules.
I need to think about US fire support and rules for the use of helicopters but the above should be sufficient to be going on with for a test or two. Should anyone try these ideas out please let me know as I would be interested to hear how they work.


John Hovey said...

Hi David,

I know this is very old but I'm excited to use M44 for Vietnam. Did you ever determine how you'd use Helos?

David Crook said...

Hi John,

Phew! That was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away for sure! To be honest I did not although I am sure there is lurking on the net somewhere a few suggestion based on a Cold War style memoir 44 variant. If you have any luck finding this please let me know.

All the best,