Memoir '44: Terrain Pack
Your Price: $27.99
(Worth 2,799 Funagain Points!)
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From the sand dunes of North Africa to the mountain passes of Northern Italy; from the Pripet Marshes of Southern Belarus to the high ground surrounding Operation Market Garden... Prior to WWII, never before in history had a conflict been fought by so many men over such vast expanses of land and so many different terrain types.
The Memoir'44 Terrain Pack Expansion is filled to the brim with new terrain pieces, new elite unit badges, and additional victory medals. This expansion also includes dozens of new game elements, including rules for North African warfare, minefields, big gun markers, radar stations, supply depots, airfields and more.
When Memoir first came out, I wrote a review, reveling about how rumors of expansions were in the works - and how exciting it was to anticipate them. Memoir itself was a game that promised endless variety, and there were tons of scenarios posted on the internet, covering virtually every battle of the European World War II. Still, the game was just screaming for a few more terrain types and rules.
Well, Memoir 44' Terrain Pack (Days of Wonder, 2005 - Richard Borg) adds all of this and more. There was more terrain in the pack than I ever dreamed they would add and certainly enough to satisfy the cravings of anyone who wants to build a custom made scenario. From railroads to mountains to desert terrain to collapsible boats - enough was added to allow players to recreate almost any battle imaginable. While the rules still don't come close to the monster simulation rules of games such as Advanced Squad Leader, the expansion does raise the level of Memoir, adding more complication and variety. And, of course, more fun.
While I don't have the time to detail everything in this review, I'll mention some noticeable points about the expansion...
1.) Components: The game comes with literally piles of double-sided hex terrain - more than will ever be used in any one scenario. The artwork on the tiles is excellent and really brings flavor to the board - whether adding dams, airfields, cemeteries, or a lighthouse. The extra rules for each of these items (if any) are nice, but it just brings a much more intriguing aesthetic to the board. All of the tiles are of extreme quality - as well as the pile of smaller counters included. Badges, mines, field bunkers, and trains are a few of the new counters. I've read some criticism of the packaging of the expansion, which is indeed in a flimsy box; but I'm unsure of why this is a problem, since the expansion can easily be packed into the main box (isn't that what expansions are for?) One definitely gets their money's worth from this box.
2.) Rules: The rulebook comes with twenty-two pages of rules, which include four new scenarios. I would have preferred a few more scenarios, since I want to use all the new tiles in the expansion; but as I said earlier, dozens of new scenarios are downloadable from the internet. All the new tiles and rules are explained easily with color pictures shown. Each of the scenarios only adds a few of the new rules/tiles, and therefore players need only look up the rules for what they are using that particular scenario. The only thing I missed were the cards that showed each type of terrain and what they do (although I will admit that with the vast amount of tiles this would be too much to ask for). Fortunately, a reference sheet can be downloaded from the Days of Wonder website that I found immensely useful in this regard.
3.) Minefields: One of my favorite new items/rules from this expansion (also found in the Eastern Front expansion) is the minefields. A pile of tokens, numbered from zero to four on one side, are shuffled and placed face down in spaces as indicated by the scenario. If an enemy unit enters these spaces, they must stop, flip the tile over, and roll that many dice as an automatic attack against their unit. If there is a "0" number, then the mines are simply decoys. Minefields do not go away, although they stay face up; and players can only deactivate them with an engineer unit. Mines make the game much more interesting - will a player gamble and drive straight through the minefield, taking any casualties that might occur, or go the slower way around?
4.) Railroads: Railways were an important objective in World War II, and a lot of interesting battles can be formed around them. Plenty of tiles are provided to put tracks all over the boards as well as rules for moving trains back and forth on the tracks. Trains can be attacked, carry units, and simply provide a load of interesting features to the game.
5.) Sabotage: Dams are added to the game, which of course means the ability to blow them up must be included. Players use the dice to attack terrain (upon rolling a star, they add a damage token); and when they've done enough damage, the objective is destroyed. This adds a layer of tension, as a team of soldiers stays in a possibly dangerous situation, trying to achieve their objective while not get blown apart. Blowing up bridges is even more interesting; it can be very simple, as the player need only play a card from that section. However, the player does not get the card back, reducing their hand size permanently, which is a very unfortunate event.
6.) Roads: Most miniature games have some sort of road rules - even Heroscape. So it's of no surprise to see roads added in this game, which increase the movement of all units that start and end their movement on them.
7.) Mountains: Taller than the hills included in the original game, mountains not only make line of site more difficult but are almost impassible except by infantry who clamber up from a nearby hill. If you are lucky to get artillery on top of a mountain in a scenario, then their range is lengthened.
8.) Desert Terrain: A pile of sand hexes are included with the game. These go especially well with the Winter/Desert map (expansion # 3) but can be used on a regular board (I wouldn't, it looks odd). Many of the pieces, the palm forests and towns, are the same as the original game counterparts; but a few new ones are included, such as an Oasis and the Wadis. The Oasis acts similar to a town, except that it's not as strong defensively. The Wadis acts as a tunnel of sorts in the desert, except that it can be seen down into. It's a dangerous way to travel, but sometimes it is the only option in a scenario.
9.) Misc: There are many other different things that the expansion adds, from calling in air strikes, to pontoon bridges, to "big guns" (which I really enjoy - they can shoot eight spaces away and "acquire" targets), to combat engineers, to flooding fields. Yes, this is still a very simple, easy game. But all of this adds more flavor to the original game. The game also includes a slew of nationality badges that while not necessary help add a bit of historicalness to the game.
If you thought that Memoir '44 was a good game but lacked a certain "something", then that "something" is this expansion. If you love Memoir '44, then picking up this expansion is a no brainer. And if you are a person that loves to make countless scenarios simulating all parts of the war, then this is the expansion of your dreams. Memoir '44 Terrain Pack may not have all the complexities of a "grognard's" vision, but it has more than enough punch for the casual gamer who wants a little bit more from their light war games. I've already said that Memoir '44 is the definitive light war game. This expansion simply solidifies that statement.
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