April 21, 2007

Memoir ’44

Posted in Games at 11:57 pm by Calico Jack

My brother recently purchased Memoir ’44, and since I’m a big fan of Battlelore I agreed to give his new game a shot. We started out by playing the Sword Beach D-Day invasion of June 6th. My brother, after assigning me to play the Axis, assured me that this was a balanced scenario; but after setting up our infantry, armored units and artillery I wasn’t so sure. Yes, I had several squads of men embedded in bunkers, ready to repel any invading forces the Allies could muster against me. But my rearguard units were rather thinned out, and my only armored unit was surrounded on all sides by forests and a small village, the Riva Bella. So much for bringing the weight of German mechanized forces to bear early in the battle. Facing three Allied armored units and several special forces brigades didn’t do much to ease my fears that this would be a slaughter.

The Allied commander launched his attack with a heavy offensive by moving four of his infantry units onto the beach and into hedgehogs. Fortunately, they were too far away to effectively attack my forces, giving me a small window of time to marshal my defenses before I was overrun. My bunker squads were able to pick off a few of the invaders, but little damage was done otherwise.

The enemy became rather upset at my early initiative, and decided to launch his most powerful weapon against me — he called in an air strike. Bombs exploded all around the beachfront, and several of my squads lost half of their soldiers. It was a defensive catastrophe, but I could still attack with full strength. It was time for payback.

Unfortunately, my options at the time were rather limited. I knew that if I didn’t bring reinforcements to the front soon, my bunkers would be overrun with hordes of Allied soldiers. I sent an order to my lone armored unit to begin its slow march forward through the forest, and commanded a solitary infantry unit to provide backup for my increasingly desperate bunker squads. If only I could lure the Allies into coming within range of my two powerful artillery cannon…

The Allies were rather leery of my defensive centerpiece, and refused to give me the opportunity to demolish their forces. Instead, they swarmed onto the beach from all sides and took up positions behind barbed wire. One volley of rifle fire killed everyone in one of my bunkers. Battle lines had been drawn across the beach, and close-range attacks were going to inflict heavy casualties on both sides.

I needed to keep the Allies from reaching my towns, so I dug into the positions I already held, building rows of sandbags to further protect my troops from damage while giving them clear lines of fire to Allied forces. Two infantry squads launched a simultaneous attack against an Allied infantry unit, ripping it to shreds and leaving no survivors. The Axis forces were holding their ground against a massive Allied advance — something that seemed impossible only a few short minutes earlier.

© Days of Wonder

Flustered, the Allied commander made a grave mistake: he kept his British commandos in troop landers at the beach instead of bringing them up to the front lines as reinforcements. Four Allied tanks rolled forward to destroy the barbed wire that was holding their beleaguered infantry back, but fortunately my bunker squad was able to protect themselves from being overrun.

Now that the Allied tanks had joined the front lines, my artillery could finally go to work. Two thunderous booms shook the ground, and within a second or two an entire armored unit had been ravaged beyond description. Cheered by this heartening sight, the bunker squad launched a volley against a small Allied unit, pouring bullets into the enemy until no movement was seen.

The Allies had been severely shaken by the utter destruction of a full-strength armored unit. For the first time, their commander realized that perhaps he would be unable to reach the quiet French towns needed to achieve his objective. He ordered several units to take out my last infantry bunker, and this time my forces were unable to repel the advance. The Allies now had a clear shot to the town of Lion sur Mer, but they still faced an embedded artillery unit eagerly awaiting its chance to rain fire on anything that dared venture too close. With his attention on the cannon in front of him, the Allied commander missed my secret weapon that I was now ready to launch…

My lone armored unit had been making its way through the trees for quite a while, but was unable to advance any farther than the edge of the forest. Now, however, I could take full advantage of its long range. Gleefully, I ordered the tanks to move forward at full speed. They roared onto the beach and ground to a halt right in front of a half-strength Allied infantry unit.

As soon as he saw the sneak attack, my opponent hung his head in defeat. He could barely watch as my tanks fired at point-blank range into a ragged group of undefended soldiers. This display of carnage terrified many Allied soldiers, and one by one they threw down their weapons and surrendered.

The Axis forces had successfully repelled the invasion of Sword Beach. But there was no time for celebrating victory — much havoc was still raging up and down the coast. The Battle of Normandy was far from over…


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